Manitoba prenatal benefit for lower income families doubles to more than $160 monthly

The Manitoba prenatal benefit is doubling, Families Minister Nahanni Fontaine said at a news conference Wednesday, highlighting a line of the provincial budget released April 2.It’s the first increase in the maximum prenatal benefit for families with a net income under $40,000, which was set at $81.41 a month when it was established in 2001. It’s available on a sliding scale, with the maximum going to those with a net family income of $21,744 or less.Doubling the benefit was mentioned in the provincial budget, which allocated $800,000 more for the program. Fontaine didn’t have any further details on Wednesday about when the higher benefit will start arriving in parents’ mailboxes.The new maximum of $162.82 a month will make it the richest prenatal benefit in Canada, said Fontaine, who collected the benefit when she was a university student and pregnant with her first child.Fontaine had to eat almost constantly when she was pregnant to keep sickness at bay, and she remembers starting to feel sick while driving and stopping at Burger King for a $2 hamburger when all she had left in the bank was $5.”I remember being so worried,” she said. “Sure enough, I get home, and then in my mailbox is the prenatal benefit.”It also helped her buy diapers and bottles before her baby was born, she said.Fontaine made the announcement in Winnipeg at Healthy Start, a pregnancy, parent and baby program funded by the province.Sabrina Sanderson, a participant in the program, said the prenatal benefit helped her get supplements and other needed items when she was pregnant.”With the rising food costs it did help a lot with groceries and supplies I needed for my baby,” she said.More information about the benefit is available on the Manitoba government website.

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