Common Front for Social Justice

News release
For immediate publication

People living in poverty are ounce again left out by this Liberal government

March 18, 2009

"People living in poverty are ounce again left out by this Liberal government," stated Linda McCausltin, co-chair of the Common Front for Social Justice

`We had asked for $29 to $30 millions dollars in this budget in order to just bring people living on welfare to average of the three other Atlantic provinces. What we received was only a meager $2.8 million. This corresponds to approximately $5.83 per month for the 40,000 New Brunswick citizens who depend on social assistance just to survive. This is far from covering the recent increases in the price of basic necessities such as milk, bread, vegetables, etc.”

In this budget , the government announced that it will freeze public employees salaries for two year and also, that 700 government jobs would be lost. The Minister also announced a series of cuts to programs and some reduction of others.

“On one hand, the wage freeze will mean that workers will have less money to spend, thus slowing the economic recovery and, on the other hand, given the current work overload handled by present public employees, the 700 public job cuts will inevitably bring about a significant drop in services to citizens, but even more so to people living in poverty.” says Ms McCausltin.

The 700 workers out of a job have families. They will be forced to live with 55% of their revenue from Employment Insurance. This will certainly have a negative impact on businesses and communities.

The announced cuts and reduction of a series of public services, such as student employment and development program, student laptop program, support to school libraries and school intervention services, all these are contrary to the improvement of literacy skills so needed in this province, where the level of illiteracy is over 50%..

This year alone, this budget is dishing out $150 million dollars in tax reductions to individuals and corporations. At the end of 2013, this will represent an accumulated $380 million dollar loss in government revenue. The major beneficiaries of the announced tax reductions will be people earning $150,000 per year and more. This group represents, at the most, 10% of the population. The other 90% of New Brunswickers will bear the brunt of the tax cuts.

The announced tax reduction proposal unravels the economic basis of “Equal Opportunities for all”implemented by Premier Louis Robichaud. This progressive approach to taxation was the guiding principle of the Liberal Party for years. Unfortunately, Premier Graham is destroying this socio-economic legacy

``In the Charter for Change, the Liberals had promised to increase the social assistance rates to the Atlantic average. They have certainly not done so up to now. With the present economic crisis, we can’t rely on them to do so before the end of their mandate. They have made a political choice which is taking care of the rich instead of helping workers, citizens on fixed income, women and people living in poverty. `` concludes Ms. McCausltin.

For information
Linda McCausltin - 855-7086 or 851-7086
John Gagnon - 548-9776