June 21st, 2021 – For Immediate Release
FREDERICTON – The Common Front for Social Justice unveiled their new lobbying document, Justice for New Brunswick Workers. The document has six recommendations by the Common Front for policy changes to the Employment Standards Act (ESA), the basic labour law in New Brunswick which establishes rights for workers and obligations for employers. Many essential workers have only the ESA for protection at work. Proposed expansions to the ESA include an immediate raising of the minimum wage to $15 an hour, ten annual paid sick days for all workers, and bringing pay equity to the private sector. Other recommendations have to do with vacation pay, overtime, uniform compensation, and job security. With the help of volunteers and activists around the province, the Common Front is presenting those recommendations to the public and to MLAs across New Brunswick from 22 to 25 June.
“Our lobby document is presenting bold ideas that will better protect essential workers and all workers whose contributions have been so important in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Ensuring living wages for all workers through a higher minimum wage, making it easier for workers to look after themselves and their family members with paid sick days, and bringing pay equity to the private sector not only has positive economic effects by reducing poverty and increasing the buying power of New Brunswickers, it also promotes a safer, healthier workplace and society.”
– Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front
“It’s obvious that we can’t keep doing things the way we did before the COVID-19 pandemic. Workers need to be valued and looked after by our policymakers and employers and the way to do that is by creating robust employment standards. Right now we have an opportunity to decide the kind of economy we want to build back in New Brunswick and if politicians and the public want to build one that empowers workers, they should be looking at our proposals.”
– Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, Labour Co-Chair for the Common Front
- In New Brunswick, the Employment Standards Act (ESA) establishes basic rights for workers and obligations for employers. Many essential workers in New Brunswick have only the ESA as their protection at work.
- New Brunswick currently has the second-lowest minimum wage in Canada at $11.75/hour. The Saint John Human Development Council estimates a living wage in most NB communities is close to $20/hour.
- According to Statistics Canada data, almost 90,000 workers, or 30% of all NB workers make less than $15/hour. Women are 1.4 times as likely to work low wage jobs in NB. These jobs also have the least protections and benefits.
- Currently, employers in New Brunswick are not obligated to provide paid sick leave to their employees. Quebec and PEI require paid sick days.
- Decent wages, paid sick leave, and pay equity are all shown to have positive effects preventing and reducing poverty. According to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, addressing poverty would net New Brunswick over $1billion in GDP growth.
- New Brunswick shows lowest median household income in Canada
- Average hourly wages in Canada have barely budged in 40 years
- New Brunswick Federation of Labour: Paid Sick Leave
- Coalition for Pay Equity: The Problem
Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB