I wanted to take this opportunity to talk about some new family benefits that have been introduced by the federal government recently. Two years ago, the Government of Canada launched the Canada Child Benefit to help families with the high cost of raising children. The CCB, which is targeted at hard-working middle-class families, is simpler, tax-free and more generous than previous child benefit programs. On June 18, The Honourable Jean-Yves Duclos, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development, announced that starting on July 20, 2018, the benefit will be raised to keep up with the cost of living. This change comes two years ahead of schedule and will give Canadian parents even more money each month to help them provide for their children. This means that the CCB will now have a maximum annual benefit of $6,496 per child under age 6 and $5,481 per child age 6 through 17.
Between January and April 2018, 7,530 CCB payments were made to 13,740 families in Thunder Bay—Rainy River at an average payment of $660 each. That is a $5,003,000 investment into families across our riding! Thanks to the CCB, 9 out of 10 Canadian families have more money to help to pay for things like sports programs, music lessons and back-to-school clothes. This means the average Canadian family has received almost $2,300 more per year than under the programs the CCB replaced. And even more importantly, because of the CCB, more than half a million people—including 300,000 children—are being lifted out of poverty.
Budget 2018 announced the Canada Workers Benefit. The Canada Workers Benefit was designed to help low-income workers make ends meet. Starting in 2019, the CWB will put more money in the pockets of nearly two million Canadians who are working hard to join the middle class. As a result, a Canadian worker earning $15,000 could receive almost $500 more in 2019 compared to 2018. With more money for the essentials, around 70,000 Canadians will be helped out of poverty.
The CWB is automatic. Unlike the previous Working Income Tax Benefit which required you to apply, everyone who can benefit from the CWB will automatically receive it when they file their taxes. From this change alone, an estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers will benefit.
Finally, in the lead up to Budget 2018, we also heard from middle-class families across the country who said that parental leave needs to be more generous and more flexible. With the new Employment Insurance Parental Sharing Benefit announced in Budget 2018, new parents will soon have five additional weeks of benefits if they share parental leave. This is expected to increase the number of parents who share in the care of new children. It will also provide greater flexibility for parents to return to work sooner, if they so choose, knowing their family has the support they need. The parental sharing benefit builds on the changes introduced last year that allow parents to choose to receive EI parental benefits over 12 months or over 18 months at a lower benefit rate when combined with maternity benefit.
I look forward to seeing the positive impacts these investments will have in our community!