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$2.5B grocery rebate will help 11 million Canadians, feds say


The federal budget, tabled Tuesday, introduced a new, targeted inflation relief program to help 11 million low and modest-income Canadians and families save money on groceries.

The grocery rebate would provide eligible couples with two children up to an extra $467 delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency as soon as possible after the legislation passes. Single Canadians without children can qualify for an extra $234, while seniors can get an average of $225.

Overall, the one-time rebate is expected to cost $2.5 billion.

“They’re calling it a grocery rebate but it’s not really, it’s just financial help,” says Dalhousie University’s Sylvain Charlebois. “They can actually use the money to do whatever they want.”

But those who work in shelter settings, like Michelle Porter, believe the rebate will help those who need it most.

“Politics aside, I could tell you that I know hundreds of people who will benefit from that little bit of extra cash,” says Porter, the CEO of Souls Harbour Rescue Mission in Halifax.

However recipients choose to use those funds, Porter says they will be put to good use.

She says the drop-in centre was serving as many as 300 meals a day during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic and they’re still giving out over 200 today.

“Whatever it goes toward is going to be a help, whether that’s your power bill, whether that’s your bus ticket for the month or food,” said Porter.

Charlebois thinks there could be some unintended consequences to the payout.

“When you pour more money into the market, $2 billion, you can actually make inflation worse. You could actually inflate prices even more,” he says.

The professor would like to see a more targeted approach to help people put food on their tables.

He says the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which is a modern version of the food stamp program used in the United States, would work north of the border.

“You give stamps to people who actually need money to eat and they actually use stamps to buy healthy food -- not junk food, good food,” Charlebois says.

As for those who will potentially benefit from the grocery rebate, “I see this is one small thing in a, hopefully, master plan,” says Sharon Martin. Top Stories

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