March 17th, 2021 – For Immediate Release


FREDERICTON – The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick is reacting to the budget speech delivered by Finance Minister Ernie Steeves. While the Common Front welcomes some wage increases for frontline workers and investments in affordable housing, the Front says the government needs a more comprehensive approach to meet the needs of workers and people in poverty.


“The government is indexing Social Assistance rates to inflation in this budget, but this is not enough. Rates remain well below the poverty line and need to be raised to a liveable rate.”

– Johanne Petitpas, Community Co-Chair for the Common Front


“Raises for community sector workers and ECEs are welcome but not comprehensive. Wages for all essential workers and public sector workers need to be raised, specifically in healthcare where there are significant recruitment and retention issues due to workers being overworked and underpaid.”

– Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, Labour Co-Chair for the Common Front


“Minister Steeves is right when he says that being prudent does not mean introducing cuts, but the government needs to commit to reversing previous cuts and using Federal relief monies that have been left on the table. Communities also need assurances that new investments in online and remote services aren’t used as an excuse to make cuts to in-person services or close rural hospitals and schools in the future.”

– Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front


Quick facts

  • The Progressive-Conservative Higgs government tabled its 2021-2022 provincial budget on Tuesday, March 16th, 2021. Finance Minister Ernie Steeves gave the budget announcement speech.
  • New Brunswick held pre-budget consultations starting in January which posed questions like “How can private sector investment be stimulated such that it will support a stronger, more resilient economy?” No questions addressed the problem of poverty in New Brunswick.
  • 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.
  • 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.


Related information 


Media contact:

Abram Lutes

Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB