Common Front for Social Justice

For Immediate Publication

News release

Friday November 21, 2008

Moncton- “Some changes need to be made to Minister Mary Schryer’s proposal for a Poverty Reduction Strategy in order to make it more inclusive and credible” says Jean-Claude Basque.

The Common Front for Social Justice Inc., in conjunction with a number of NB community organizations, has sent a letter to the Minister, outlining their suggestions for making the proposed government initiative a more inclusive one.

The two major points which the organizations have problems with are: the consensus sought for during the public meetings and the selection of participants at the decision-making phase.

“Right now, the government’s proposed plan is that participants at the January to March 2009 public meetings (Phase 1) come to a consensus. We know from experience that trying to arrive at a consensus with participants who have different agendas is practically impossible, specially if this is attempted at the end of a single session” says Mr. Basque.

“The selection of participants for Phase 2, the Round Table Sessions, and for Phase 3, the Final Forum, will in effect be done by the government. We believe that this does not provide for a “buy-in” from the different stakeholders, nor does it provide for accountability to the various groups who have great interest in seeing poverty being significantly reduced” continues Mr. Basque.

The signing groups enumerated below are proposing that the selection process of the participants should be based upon: (1) Inclusion of many stakeholders with strong interest in poverty reduction; (2) Options for community organizations to choose representatives who would be accountable to their membership; (3) Provision of opportunities for regional representation and gender balance; (4) Substantial representation of people living in poverty, an aspect of vital importance (See included letter for details).

“We believe that our proposal is well suited for the selection of participants for the Round Table Sessions as well as for the Final Forum. We also consider it important that the same participants be at every step of this very important process to discuss, debate and find solutions together instead of bringing in new participants at Phase 2 and Phase 3 of the process. Our proposal also minimizes the undesirable perception that the Plan is only a government initiative, not one coming from all segments of society” concluded Mr. Basque.

Signing groups:

Association des bibliothécaires, professeures et professeurs de l’Université de Moncton
Association acadienne et francophone des aînées et aînés du Nouveau-Brunswick
Canadian Labour Congress-Atlantic Region
Comité des 12 pour la justice sociale
Howard Society-Saint John
Justice and Solidarity Team-Moncton diocese
New Brunswick Association of Social Workers
NB Coalition for Pay Equity
NB Common Front for Social Justice
NB Federation of Labour
Support to Single Parents Inc.
Chignecto Presbytery- United Church of Canada 

For information- Jean-Claude Basque- 862-9182