Mr. Speaker, I have been listening to the debate so far. It is interesting that in a debate like this we have learned, and it is a great revelation, that commodity prices go up and down.
I am very honoured to provide my input on Bill C-59, economic action plan 2015. Our government has worked hard, focusing on its commitment to the priorities of Canadians: jobs, economic stability, growth, and long-term prosperity.
By balancing the budget, we can keep our focus on lower taxes to help families and hard-working Canadians. There is something colleagues on the other side did not hear about or forgot about, and that is the fact that the overall federal tax burden is now at its lowest level in more than 50 years.
Our government understands the growing financial pressure parents are facing today. That is why we have enhanced the universal child care benefit. We call it a universal child care benefit because it will be available to all Canadian families with children under the age of 18, regardless of their income or the type of child care they choose.
We first introduced the universal child care benefit, or UCCB, in 2006. Today it provides direct support to over 1.6 million families with over two million young children.
Let me explain how the UCCB works, how much it provides, and how we are enhancing it. Currently the UCCB provides $100 per month for each child under the age of six. We are proposing to increase the amount to $160 per month, which comes to about $2,000 per year for each preschooler. We also propose to expand the reach of this benefit to include children ages six to 17. Families would receive $60 per month for each child in this age group, which would amount to $720 per year.
Once we receive parliamentary approval, the new benefit amounts would take effect retroactively to January 1, 2015. This is great news for many families across the country, including over 20,000 families in the riding I proudly represent, Mississauga East—Cooksville.
I am pleased to also see important improvements for veterans through the veterans services included in this bill. I would like to thank the Minister of Veterans Affairs for taking a major step toward implementing the veterans affairs committee's recommendations in our review of the new veterans charter last year.
Bill C-59 has three new benefits to fill gaps that were identified in veterans services. The retirement income security benefit would provide disabled veterans with a monthly income support payment, beginning at age 65, on top of their existing pension payments to make sure that injured veterans have financial security later in life.
The critical injury benefit would provide a $70,000 tax-free award for Canadian Armed Forces members and veterans who experience a sudden and severe injury in the line of duty. This recognizes the hardship armed forces members experience as they recover from a traumatic incident.
The next one is the family caregiver relief benefit, which would provide disabled veterans with $7,000 tax free per year for caregivers, often a spouse or other family member, to use in any way that helps them overcome some of the challenges of caregiver fatigue.
I guess I have to wrap up. I would encourage every member in this House to support this bill.