OTTAWA — Families with children in Justin Trudeau's riding could benefit the most from the Liberal leader's child-care benefit promise, an analysis by The Canadian Press suggests.
The numbers also indicate that two-parent families in 10 Liberal-leaning ridings, including Trudeau's Montreal-area riding of Papineau, are likely to receive the most under the Liberal pledge to provide a payment for every child under age 18.
It's not clear how much money would flow into the riding, but Papineau has the lowest median income in the country for two-parent families at $57,665. That suggests that it — more than any other riding — would benefit from the Liberal's proposed income-tested benefit cheques.
Papineau was one of eight Quebec ridings that are among 20 with the lowest two-parent median family incomes in the country, according to data from Statistics Canada.
The Liberals are banking that the $22-billion plan to send bigger monthly cheques than their opponents, while eliminating the child tax credit, will pique the interest of families that each party is targeting in the campaign. Trudeau has repeatedly said that the plan will help raise 315,000 children out of poverty — more than the amount estimated to be moved out of poverty through the current universal child care benefit.
"Our approach is to put more money in the pockets of people who need it to help with the costs of raising their kids and spend on the things that matter in their family and with their future," Trudeau said while campaigning in Quebec on Thursday.
To estimate which ridings would benefit the most under the Liberal plan, The Canadian Press used data from the National Household Survey on the median family incomes in each of the 338 ridings up for grabs this election.
The data were then sorted to determine the ridings with the lowest median income for two-parent and single-parent families.
Finally, an Elections Canada study that transposed the poll-by-poll results from the 2011 election on the redrawn riding map for the 2015 campaign was used to determine which party would have won and which would have finished second.
Of the ridings with the 20 lowest two-parent median family incomes, 10 leaned Liberal, while three others would have seen the Liberals come in second in 2011.
For single-parent families, 19 of 20 ridings with the lowest median incomes voted Conservative in 2011, with the Liberals runners-up in 13 of them.
The Liberal promise would provide a yearly benefit of up to $6,400 for every child aged five and under and up to $5,400 for each child age six to 17 — richer than what the Conservatives continue to offer under the universal child care benefit.
The Tory plan, which the NDP have said they would keep, would see a family collect $1,920 for each child up to age five, and $920 for each child six to 17.
How much a family would receive under the Liberal plan would depend on income, with the monthly payments declining as family income rises.
"Our Canada child benefit is about giving direct help to the families who need it," Trudeau said Thursday. "We have chosen to stop what Mr. Harper and Mr. Mulcair want to continue to do, which is send child benefit cheques to the wealthiest Canadians just because they have children."
In Papineau, for instance, a family earning the median income of $57,665 would receive about $4,519 a year for children five and under and $3,519 for any child age six to 17 — the most of any two-parent home in the country. (National Household Survey data show that Papineau has the highest number of families in the lowest income decile in the country.)
A family earning the median income of $145,671 in the Toronto riding of Don Valley West, on the other hand, would receive $1,525 for every child five and under and $525 for every child six to 17. The riding has the fifth-highest median family income in the country, Statistics Canada says.
Two experts on Quebec politics say it's unlikely that the promise would translate into extra votes for the Liberals in that province, as child care is not been top of mind for Quebec voters.
Antonia Maioni, a political science professor at McGill University, said there is a possibility the promise could boost Liberal voting numbers on election day, but "connecting the dots doesn't necessarily make that case."
Guy Lachapelle, a professor in political science at Concordia University, suggested a promise for an overall family policy, similar to the one in Quebec, would be more attractive to voters in the province. The Quebec family policy led to its low-cost daycare system, where parents now pay up to $20 a day and tax credits to offset costs for families in the more expensive, private, child-care system.
That move away from a simple benefit system to a more complex social net for families is what now resonates with Quebec voters, he said.
"Child care is something that attracts social democrats ... and Quebec always is a little bit more on that side," Lachapelle said.
"All parties, except the Conservatives, are playing that card."
The payments, however, "send an important signal that the Liberals care," said Kathy Brock, a politics and policy studies professor from Queen's University. The plan, she said, is a symbolic message to Quebec voters at a time when the Liberals are gaining strength.
"At minimum, they won't hurt the Liberals. At best, they may contribute to the momentum towards the Liberals by strengthening their image as a party of the left," she said.