MONCTON – The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick is calling on the Minister for Social Development, Bruce Fitch, and the provincial government to raise the basic rate for social assistance for all social assistance recipients. In an open letter signed by over forty community organizations, labour unions, and faith groups from across the province, organizers at the Common Front call for the upcoming provincial budget to include an increase of $100 per month for a total of $1,200 per year for every category of social assistance recipient.
The open letter highlights the lost revenue for people receiving social assistance due to inflation. The inflation rate between 2014, the last year some basic rates were increased, and today is 15% resulting in a significant loss of purchasing power for people and families who depend on social assistance. The letter also calls out the province for keeping social assistance rates well below Canada’s official poverty line, and calls for a concrete plan for social assistance rates to rise above the official poverty line.
“There is an urgent need to raise the rates for social assistance, especially as the impacts of the pandemic continue to impact people’s ability to get by. Making sure that social assistance recipients have enough to get by is a direct responsibility of the government, but by not adjusting the rates for nearly a decade, the province has effectively cut income from recipients.”
– Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front
“There are still stigmas and prejudices against people in poverty, even as poverty continues to be a challenge that many New Brunswickers face. Everyone deserves to have enough to get by, and raising the rates is an important step our province can take to improve the quality of life for thousands of people, and will be a step towards eliminating poverty.”
– Robert Mackay, Community Co-President (Interim) for the Common Front
- New Brunswick has the lowest median household income in Canada, according to Statistics Canada.
- Based on the Market Basket Measure, there were 74,000 people in New Brunswick living in poverty in 2018. This has likely increased as a result of the COVID-19 recession.
- Unemployment and lost income have exploded as a result of the recession and COVID-19 pandemic, though federal programs like CERB cushioned some of the impact.
- According to the CCPA, keeping people in poverty costs New Brunswick as much as $1billion per year in lost GDP growth and poverty-related expenses.
- Maytee Welfare in Canada Report: New Brunswick
- Poverty in Canada was bad pre-coronavirus. Experts worry what will come next
- New Brunswick shows lowest median household income in Canada
- Social assistance increases don’t go far enough, say advocates for poor
Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB