Friday, April 01, 2005

Socialist NDP Government in Manitoba to Offer New Baby Bonus

The following article was written by Tom Brodbeck of the Winnipeg Sun.

The Doer government will announce Monday a new "baby bonus" program designed to boost Manitoba's flagging fertility rate, which will include cash payments to parents for every child born, The Winnipeg Sun has learned. The program, similar to one used in the province of Quebec to help boost its population, will pay parents $2,000 -- tax free -- for their first child and $3,000 for every child thereafter.

It's a move designed to bolster a birth rate in Manitoba that has fallen almost every year since the late 1980s.

"Our continued low birth rate could cause serious economic problems in the future if we don't address it today," said a government source. "We can't rely solely on immigration for population growth because it may not be sustainable."

WON'T BE CHEAP.

But the program won't be cheap. It's expected to cost taxpayers as much as $40 million a year. There were 13,986 births in Manitoba last year.

Government officials are hoping the new program will increase the number of births by 15% over time, which would bring total births to just over 16,000.

At an average of $2,500 per newborn, that's a price tag of just over $40 million.

"Raising a child is more expensive than ever before," said the government source. "We know through focus groups and other studies that the financial hardship of parenting is a major obstacle for many people."

The government also plans to allow parents to write off on their income taxes all non-food, child-related expenses for kids under six, including clothes, strollers, cribs and diapers.

The write-off will replace an existing tax credit for children. Government officials say they want to target support to younger children as an added incentive for families to have more kids.

"The cash value of those write-offs will far exceed what families were getting from the tax credit," the government source said. "We think this is going to be a huge incentive for families to expand and for people who weren't sure they could afford to have children."

The program will be administered out of the province's Healthy Baby program, which already provides assistance to new parents, including food cheques for expectant mothers.

Government officials say failure to address the fertility problem in Manitoba could mean a population decline within 30 years.

Because of an aging population, there could be more people dying than babies born by 2037, according to recent data from the Manitoba Bureau of Statistics.

A population decline could have a devastating effect on Manitoba's economy, including a shrinking tax base, government officials say.

But critics of the program call it "social engineering" of the worst kind.

"I almost lit my hair on fire when I heard about this socialist, cash-for-kids program," said Adrienne Batra, regional director of the Canadian Taxpayers' Federation. "They should be cutting taxes for everybody, including parents, not wasting tax dollars on a fertile few."

Government officials have confirmed that each baby bonus cheque will come in an envelope marked "April Fools!" in large, bold letters.

Gotcha -- again.

This fact that this story is so believable makes it a cruel April fools joke Tom!

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