KENORA – Every Northerner deserves a fair chance to participate and thrive in our economy, and when this opportunity is present, we know all Canadians are better-off. Tackling poverty and helping more people become a part of the middle class continues to be one of our government’s main priorities. Last week, Statistics Canada released the 2017 Canadian Income Survey which shows that Canadians living below the poverty line is at one of the lowest numbers on record.
According to the report, the median after-tax income of Canadian families and unattached individuals rose 3.3% to $59,800 in 2017, following two years without growth. Statistics Canada attributes this rise to higher wages and an increase in child benefits, such as the Canadian Child Benefit (CCB). These numbers reflect a very significant reduction in Canada’s overall poverty rate and show that we have met our first poverty reduction target three full years ahead of schedule.
Thanks to federal initiatives, 825,000 Canadians have been lifted out of poverty since 2015, and Canada’s poverty rate has fallen by more than 20 percent. The CCB came into effect in mid-2016, marking 2017 as the first full calendar year of implementation. The CCB resulted in higher incomes for families with children. Most families with children saw their child benefits increase by $1,200, while single-parent families received an extra $1,300 in 2017, compared with 2016. Overall, these changes combined to raise the median after-tax income of non-senior families by $1,500 to $87,600 in 2017.
In the Kenora riding, more than 7,000 families receive the CCB every month, for a total of more than $6 million. In 2016-17, more than $73 million supported close to 15,000 children in the riding. On July 20, 2018, the CCB increased again to keep up with the cost of living. This change came two years ahead of schedule and continues to give parents even more money each month to help with the increasing costs of raising children.
The CCB, for the 2018-19 benefit year, will now have a maximum annual benefit of $6,496 per child under age 6, and $5,481 per child age 6 through 17. As an example, a single parent earning a household income of $35,000 with two children under the age of 6, will see an increase of $560 yearly to help with the costs of raising children for the 2019-20 benefit year. For this parent, that means $12,992 in support annually.
The Poverty Reduction Strategy is going to keep making a real difference in people’s lives and our government will continue to tackle poverty and improve the lives of children in the North. Our goal is to cut poverty in half, and while there is always more work to do, we will continue to work hard to see this goal accomplished.