Madam Speaker, before I start, I will be sharing my time with the member for Laval—Les Îles.
It is a pleasure to rise in this House today to speak to budget 2018 and the impact it is going to have in my community and for Canadians across the country. Budget 2018, tabled recently by the Minister of Finance in this House, outlines the government's next steps in our plan to support the middle class, strengthen and grow the economy, and promote equality for all Canadians.
During the last two constituency weeks earlier this month, I had the opportunity, like many members of this House, to have meetings with constituents and local organizations on some of the announcements made in this budget. I also spoke at both Pickering and Uxbridge town councils, where I provided an update to constituents and local councillors on the work of the federal government and the positive effect this budget would have on our communities.
To put the debate on this budget in context, I began my delegations to my councils by outlining the economic reality we face. Despite the negative spin coming from the opposition, the fact is that Canada has created over 600,000 jobs over the past two years. We have a resurgent economy, the fastest growing among the G7. Our constituents have more money in their pockets, and families are better able to support their children because of an enhanced Canada child benefit.
In my riding of Pickering—Uxbridge, the families of 16,260 children are receiving CCB cheques, with an average payment of $520 per month, for a total of over $4.8 million. I cannot stress enough how big an impact this is having not only for families and children but for our local economy. The CCB is driving business growth and consumer spending and is helping to create and maintain jobs both across the country and in my community. That is why I was thrilled to see that in budget 2018, our government would be indexing the CCB two years ahead of schedule to ensure that the roughly six million Canadian children who currently benefit from the CCB would continue to do so over the long term. That means that starting in July, in my community and communities across the country, families would be provided with even greater support for the cost of raising children and would have extra help each month to pay for things like nutritious food, sports programs, music lessons, and school supplies.
During my remarks and in my conversations, I spoke about budget 2018's investments to support low-income workers. I am proud to say that in a world and global climate in which many feel that they do not have the chance to succeed or that they are being left behind in the new economy, our government is investing almost $1 billion in new funding per year to help low-income workers get ahead. As part of that investment, budget 2018 announced the new Canada workers benefit, a tax benefit that would allow more workers to keep more of their paycheques. It would build on the former working income tax benefit. It would not only encourage more people to enter the workforce but would provide real help to more than two million Canadians, some of whom live in my community.
Starting in 2019, the CWB would increase both maximum benefits and the income level at which the benefit would be phased out. We would also ensure that everyone eligible to benefit from the new CWB would actually benefit when they filed their taxes. That means that an estimated 300,000 additional low-income workers would receive the new CWB for the 2019 tax year. That would be real results for working people, and it would help create a more level playing field for more Canadians.
Achieving equality and levelling the playing field are important themes in budget 2018. How to create a more equal society and bridge the wage gap between men and women is a question governments around the world are wrestling with. Today women in Canada earn 31% less than men on an annual basis, and on average, about 12% less in the hourly wage paid for full-time work. There are a number of complicated reasons for this, but the facts are clear. Studies also show that by closing the wage gap, Canada's economic growth would grow significantly.
I want to be very clear that this is an economic issue just as much as it is a social issue. Through budget 2018, our government would lead by example. It would put in place measures to address the gender wage gap by shining a light on pay practices in the federally regulated sector and by taking the next steps to create a proactive pay equity regime, for which legislation will be tabled later this fall.
This robust pay equity regime would encompass businesses and organizations that are federally regulated and would apply to roughly 1.2 million Canadians. Strong oversight and enforcement and a requirement for regular maintenance would be included. It would take an innovative approach so we could ensure that on average, women and men received the same pay for work of equal value. This is an issue that so many have advocated passionately for over several years. I was proud to see the commitment made in the budget and look forward to the introduction of pay equity legislation.
I was also thrilled to see the announcement of a new women's entrepreneurship strategy in budget 2018. Supporting women-owned businesses is crucial, and this comprehensive approach would address the unique barriers female entrepreneurs face in comparison to their male counterparts. Whether it is to help improve skills or connect female entrepreneurs with mentorship or networking opportunities, our government would invest $105 million over five years to regional development agencies to support the growth and prosperity of women-led businesses.
Achieving equality in the workforce is a difficult task, and doing so requires this type of creative thinking. It also challenges us to address inequalities at home. That is why in budget 2018, our government has introduced a new EI parental sharing benefit. The benefit would support equality at home and in the workplace by providing an additional five weeks of benefits when both parents agreed to share parental leave. This measure would provide greater flexibility for parents to return to work sooner, if they chose, with the knowledge that their family had the support it needed.
Budget 2018 is a bold, innovative, and optimistic plan that would put people first and would invest in a prosperous and shared future. It would build on the commitments and investments in previous budgets in infrastructure and affordable housing. Just last week, I had the privilege of making an announcement, with my Durham colleagues, about a historic investment of $94 million in Durham Region Transit.
The commitments we make would have a real, measurable impact on our communities. I am proud to support the budget and the government's plan to ensure that all Canadians have an equal and fair chance for success.