03/31/2015 12:53 EDT | Updated 05/31/2015 05:59 EDT

Families with young kids get less than half of federal child care benefits, PBO finds

A new report by Canada's parliamentary budget officer shows more than half of the money Ottawa intends to put toward child care this year will go to families with little or no child care expenses.

The PBO crunched the numbers on the federal government's universal child care benefit (UCCB) and child care expense deduction (CCED). Together, the two programs will account for $7.7 billion in costs to the federal treasury this year. The PBO estimates that figure will rise to $7.9 billion by 2017-2018.

According to the PBO report, families with young children who are paying for childcare will receive 49 per cent of those benefits this year. The remaining 51 per cent will go to families with no child care expenses or families with older children.

"That's the reality of the policy," said Mostafa Askari, assistant parliamentary budget officer, as he released Tuesday's report.

The UCCB is a monthly payment to families with children. Brought in by the Conservatives in 2006, it was originally $100 paid out until the child reached the age of six. This year, the government has extended the payment to $160 a month for children under six and $60 a month thereafter until age 17.

The child care expense deduction is an income-tax deduction for child care expenses that was first introduced in 1971.

The PBO says the two programs combined cover roughly 67 per cent of what families with young children spend on childcare. Conversely, it finds families with older children stand to receive nearly eight times the amount they spend on caring for their offspring.

Opposition New Democrats say middle class and working class families will appreciate whatever help Ottawa sends their way. But Jinny Sims, the NDP critic for employment and social development, says the PBO report shows the need for a national childcare policy.

"Let's be very, very clear that this in no way replaces a childcare policy nor does this create any childcare spaces," she said.