NOTE: This statement was amended on 23 March to correct a numerical error

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FREDERICTON – The Common Front for Social Justice New Brunswick is reacting to the budget speech delivered today by Finance Minister Ernie Steeves. In the context of a still-ongoing global pandemic and unprecedented provincial surpluses, the 2022-2023 budget included only limited investment in public services and a meagre raise to the social assistance rate.

The most significant change in the provincial budget is the massive handouts to corporate landlords and industry through the halving of provincial property taxes on rental properties and 15% reduction on  commercial and industrial properties. This will net $112million in lost revenue that the provincial government could be spending on public services and social housing, a move that serves the greedy and not the needy.

The budget speech also includes confirmation that the government will pay $343million in wages won by public-sector workers during the Fall 2021 strike, and important changes to the Residential Tenancies Act, including a one-year rent cap. Rather than government benevolence, the Common Front commends the hard work of the labour and tenants movements in winning these victories.

Quotes 

“Social assistance recipients are living below the poverty line, and workers – including many in our public service – are making wages far behind a liveable rate. Our public services and affordable housing stock are being squeezed by the overwhelming need in our province. These massive tax cuts don’t only make little fiscal sense, they are doing a disservice to New Brunswickers by removing needed monies from public coffers and giving them to the wealthy.”

– Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front

Quick facts 

  • 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, though this number is higher by other estimates. The number of people in poverty has likely increased as a result of the COVID-19 recession.
  • Wealthy individuals like the Irvings and large corporations saw their collective wealth increase by billions during the COVID-19 pandemic, often while receiving public subsidies.
  • Reducing the so-called “double tax” on rental properties will greatly increase the profits of corporate landlords and investors, without clear benefits to tenants. Tax cuts have been shown to be counterproductive in addressing provincial deficits.
  • 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.

Related information

Media Contact 

Abram Lutes

Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB

info@frontnb.ca

506-855-897