Common Front for Social Justice


Front commun
pour la justice sociale
96, ave Norwood, #208
Moncton, NB E1C 6L9
Tel.: 851-7084
fcjsnb@nbnet.nb.ca

Common Front
For Social Justice
96, ave Norwood, #208
Moncton, NB E1C 6L9
Tel.: 851-7084
fcjsnb@nbnet.nb.ca

February 3, 2009

Premier Shawn Graham
670 King Street
Fredericton, NB, E3B 1G1

Dear Premier Graham:

The Common Front for Social Justice is worried about the situation of poverty in New Brunswick. According to the 2006 census, 100,740 out of 729,995 New Brunswick citizens are living in poverty. Forty-five percent of single mothers and almost 11% of seniors in the province are poor. In December 2008, 38,201 New Brunswick citizens were on social assistance, the rates of which are unacceptably low.

The social assistance rates of the province do not compare to the cost of living today, making it difficult for many people to afford to satisfy basic needs like warm shelter, clothing, food, etc. Citizens are experiencing hunger and that is why soup kitchens and food banks are so busy. As this is the time of year when budgets are finalized, we are reminding you that in the Charter for Change announced in 2006, you had stated that Liberal government would re-examine the social assistance rates in view of bringing them at the Atlantic average level.

New Brunswick's social assistance rates are considerably lower than the Atlantic Provinces' average. In fact, to reach the Atlantic average, rates for single employable beneficiaries would need to see a 206.8% increase (see Annex A for other comparisons). Finance Minister V. Boudreau needs to add over $20 million to the social assistance program in the 2009-2010 budget for the rates to compare with the Atlantic average. Mr. Boudreau must also take into account the different proposals that would reduce poverty elaborated in our document, "Working Together to Reduce Poverty in the Province of New Brunswick," which can be accessed at www.frontnb.ca.

The cost of poverty in Canada has been estimated to be $38 billion. In comparison, the $20 million needed to aptly boost the province's social assistance rates is but a small sum. The adjustment of social assistance rates is an essential step towards the reduction of poverty in the province.

We await your prompt response to our concerns.

Sincerely,

Jean-Claude Basque, Provincial Coordinator

c.c. David Alward, Leader of the Opposition
Roger Duguay, Leader of the NDP

ANNEX A

Table 1: Data based on 2007 numbers released by the National Council of Welfare showing how far New Brunswick is lagging behind the average of the three other Atlantic Provinces

Category studied by National Council on Welfare

Average of 2007incomes of NS+PEI+NF&L

NB incomes  (2007) for soc. asst.

Dollars lagging behind in NB in 2007

Additional cost to the Province of New Brunswick x number of cases

 1.  Single Employable

$7.391

$3,574

$3,817

 $3,817x1395=$5,019,355

 2.  Person with disability

$9,530

$8,275

$1,255

 $1,255x6754=$8,476,270

 3.  Lone parent, one child

$16,431

$15,451

$980

 $980x1483*=$1,453,340

 4.  Couple, two children

$21,677

$18,849

$2,828

 $2,828x1662*=$4,700,136

 

*Data regarding the number of cases in each of the four categories are only estimates. The additional cost, using only these estimates, is $19,649,101. This number does not include all social assistance recipients in NB.