BY BOBBY MORRISSEY
The late 1800’s and the 1920’s were considered prosperous times for Prince Edward Island, with our economy being driven by the shipbuilding and fox industries.
The benefits of economic growth today are less concentrated than in the past, when a small portion of the population benefited far more than the rest. But over the past thirty years, income inequality has gradually increased.
More and more, our lowest earners have been left behind as the middle class prospered.
Fortunately, one federal government program is having great success at reducing that inequality. The Canada Child Benefit introduced by our government ensures that all levels of society benefit from Canada’s economic prosperity.
Aimed at our lowest income earners, the tax-free Canada Child Benefit is designed to ensure that all our children are properly clothed and fed. Nine out of 10 families receive more annually than under the previous government’s benefit system, and last year more than 15,000 Island families benefitted from the Canada Child Benefit.
For families with incomes of less than $30,000 per year, the program provides $6,400 for children under 6 and $5,400 for children ages 6 - 17. These payments are gradually reduced for families earning over $30,000.
In my riding of Egmont, there were nearly 4,000 families who received $27 million last year. That averages out to $6,840 per family. In Cardigan 3,980 families received an average of $6,550 for a total of $26 million; in Malpeque 3,840 families got an average payment of $6,340, for a total of $24.3 million; and in Charlottetown 3,520 families got an average of $6,330 for a total of nearly $22.9 million.
In 2016, the total Canada Child Benefit payments in Prince Edward Island totaled $99,933,000.
Because these funds from the federal government are tax-free, the Canada Child Benefit is putting more money into the Island economy than the entire $96.8 million payroll of the Department of Veterans Affairs in Charlottetown.
This money is going toward ensuring a healthy and happy childhood for young Islanders. But it is also being spent locally in our communities and promoting the Island economy. Nationwide, nearly 300,000 children were lifted out of poverty last year.
For rural communities and for Canadians in general, the Canada Child Benefit is one of the best social policies the federal government has ever enacted, and I’m proud to be associated with it.
- Bobby Morrissey is the Member of Parliament for Egmont