|Common Front for Social Justice|
For Immediate Publication
UNITED NATIONS INTERNATIONAL DAY FOR THE ERADICATION OF POVERT
(Moncton) October 16th, 2007 – With the United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the Common Front for Social Justice is asking the Shawn Graham liberal government to implement a plan to eliminate poverty in the province.
Here are a few numbers that are showing what poverty means in New Brunswick
1- New Brunswick is where the minimum wage is the lowest of all Canadian provinces ($7.50 an hour);
2- More than forty thousands (40,000) persons are getting welfare allowances in the province;
3- The New Brunswick welfare allowances are the lowest of all four (4) Atlantic provinces;
4- A person living alone is getting a $521 monthly allowance.
The consequences of New Brunswick poverty are devastating for both citizens and society.
1- Welfare cheque being insufficient people must go to Soup Kitchen to get the food they need to live;
2- Poor people are not as healthy as other individuals, therefore they go to hospitals more often that healthy people;
3- A 2003 New Brunswick study showed that monies paid to doctors to treat the 20% of the poor people cost 105 million dollars while 73 millions dollars was paid to doctors to treat 60% of the wealthier people;
4- Children of poor people cannot pay the costs associated with some physical activities which is impairing their social and physical development;
5- The rising price of oil products (furnace oil, etc) prevent people from having proper heating during the winter with the terrible consequences ensuing;
6- Poor people often have difficulties meeting face to face their Government Case Worker which prevents them to have access to solutions adapted to their reality and their needs;
7- Poor people have to resort to unhealthy means to get what they need to live.
The New Brunswick Government must follow the example of Newfoundland and Labrador which adopted, in 2006, a Strategy to eradicate poverty for that province. The Danny Williams Government adopted a series of measures which will improve the overall living conditions of its’ poor citizens. They include an increase of the minimum wage to $8 an hour in April 2008,important investments in affordable housing, the improvement of childcare services, the increase of the number of young people graduating from High School and the increase of literacy programs for adults.
The Common Front for Social Justice is asking the New Brunswick Government to adopt a Poverty Reduction Strategy. Before implementation, a consultation of welfare beneficiaries, workers paid at minimum wages and business must be consulted. Shawn Graham must lead those consultations.
The Strategy should include:
1- An immediate adjustment of the various categories of social assistance benefits in New Brunswick to match the average in the other three (3) Atlantic Provinces, and to index them each year;
2- TO READJUST AS SOON AS POSSIBLE the amounts of social assistance so that everyone is guaranteed an income that covers their basic needs (food, clothing, housing);
3- an increase of the minimum wage to $8.55 an hour to be followed with a gradual increase to $10 an hour , so that people's income allows them to move out of poverty;
4- Enable workers everywhere in Canada to apply for employment insurance with 360 hours worked;
5- Provide two thirds of their wages (66 2/3%) to unemployed workers instead of the current 55%;
6- Raise the number of weeks that workers are able to benefit from employment insurance to 52 weeks.
Linda McAusltin, Co-Chair of the Common Front for Social Justice said: “If the government chooses to invest toward the development of human beings, it is investing directly to the development of wealth in this province. Citizens who are self-sufficient are in a better situation to participate in all aspect of their society whether they are social, economic or others. If government and citizens are able to understand that, together we will eradicate poverty. When we reach that goal, prosperity is going to be the new reality for New Brunswick.”
The Common Front for Social Justice fights to build a more human New Brunswick society, based on the respect and the dignity of everyone. Visit our web site at : www.frontnb.ca/en/Home_en.htm
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Common Front for Social Justice