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Child care benefit increases fast tracked to start in July

Benefit structure will align with cost of living increases

Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Labour Patty Hajdu stopped in Sudbury on Nov. 14 as part of her Northern Ontario tour.

The Thunder Bay MP had a full schedule for the day, starting with a visit to the Carpenter's Union in Azilda, followed by a stop at the Atikameksheng Anishnabek band office in Whitefish to announce of nearly $2.6 million for skills training through the Skills Partnership Fund.

"This is a really great program that supports Indigenous communities that work in partnership with industry to make sure that the skills training training provided for Indigenous people will be able to result in good-paying jobs right away," said Hajdu.

The minister also made a stop at Laurentian Family and Child Centre to pay a visit to to some little ones and their parents to get them up to speed on the Canada's child benefit's latest changes.

In July of 2018, Canada child benefits will be adjusted as the cost of living increases, a move that will occur nearly two years earlier than originally promised.

"With the economic prosperity that we're seeing in this country, the fastest growth in the G7, we have decided to index the child benefit to the cost of living," said Hajdu

"There's an assessment every year of the increase of cost of living overall, it might range from 1.5 to 3 per cent so we want to make sure that the child benefit keeps up with that or else it loses relative value. If your dollar doesn't go as far, your purchasing power with that money is essentially reduced. We don't want to be in a gap situation in a few years where that child benefit just doesn't buy what it used to buy."

The government of Canada has an online calculator available to anyone who is eligible for the child benefit, in order to get a better idea of what level of benefits they qualify for.

Visits like Hajdu's are aimed at keeping parents informed so that they don't miss out on potential benefits.

"It's a good opportunity to talk to me and to have their questions answered related to child care and to interact with their member of parliament," said Hajdu

"Certainly in some regions people don't file their tax returns or think that if they don't have any income they don't have to file their taxes, but they miss out on these benefits."

The maximum child benefit is around $6,400 per year for a child under the age of six for someone at the lowest income level. As of July 2018, that number will rise to closer to $6,500 and around $6,630 by 2019-20.

Families with children between the ages of six and 17 are eligible for up to $5,700 annually. Those maximum payments are reserved for households earning $30,000 per year or less, with benefits decreasing as household income increases.

Here in Sudbury, MP Paul Lefebvre says that the latest bump has been a great step in the right direction and according to numbers he's been given, Sudbury has seen a bump in child care benefits from $1.2 million to almost $4.5 million monthly.

"With the former program, families in Sudbury were getting a total of around $1.2 million per month, and now we're at about $4.5 million," said Lefebvre.

"Around 12,000 kids are benefiting from this. We're looking at how this program is really getting on the ground and the effect it's having. We're bringing in another $3 million into the economy on a monthly basis, people are reinvesting it and spending on their kids and child care and these are all things that come into play and for us it's been a really great program."

Matt Durnan

About the Author: Matt Durnan

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