June 1 2022 – For Immediate Release
MONCTON – The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick is reacting to the new Emergency Fuel and Food Benefit announced today by the Government of New Brunswick. Though these measures are immediate and necessary to provide financial relief to low income individuals, families and seniors who are existing Social Development clients, we demand long-term solutions for all New Brunswickers who live in poverty, including low-income workers who earn the current minimum wage of $12,75/h.
Here are some suggestions from the Common Front for Social Justice:
- Increase the minimum wage to a living wage, an average of $20/h.
- Free access to public transit and provincial parks.
- Development of a free and rural transit system accessible for people with disabilities.
- Add 10 employer-paid annual sick days to the Employment Standards Act.
- Raise the basic rate for social assistance, ensure that it reflects a living wage and is adjusted accordingly every year.
- Axe the Household Income Policy for all social assistance recipients.
- Immediately increase investments in public services (health, social services, education, social and co-op housing).
“This investment provides some relief but many people will have difficulty making ends meet at the end of the month. The one-time payment will not cover the rising cost of groceries and rent, both rapidly increasing over the last few years. The Government must put in place long-term solutions for all New Brunswickers in need.”
Robert Mackay, Community Co-chair (Interim) for the Common Front
“This announcement is a start but it is a temporary approach that does not address the reasons why New Brunswickers visit food banks. It is urgent to implement measures that will have a real impact on the living conditions of people living in poverty, including low-wage workers. We also remain with unanswered questions: when will these one-time payments be sent to Social Development clients? Has the government planned additional resources to the Department of Social Development to manage these new benefits, as they are already understaffed?”
-Janelle LeBlanc, Provincial Coordinator 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.
- Maytree 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
- More people are visiting food banks
- Salaries and wages are not keeping pace with the rising costs in cities, especially for youth in New Brunswick
Media Contact (French and English)
Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB