The Common Front for Social Justice, one of the largest organizations working towards the eradication of poverty in New Brunswick, says that thirty seven thousand poor New Brunswickers were left out of the 2010-2011 budget.
“The provincial budget has not set any money aside for rate increases for the 37,000 New Brunswickers who currently depend on social assistance to meet their basic needs,” says Linda McCaustlin, co-chair of the Common Front for Social Justice. “When the Finance Minister boasts that the government has delivered 96% of its electoral promises, he is silent on a very important one, namely the promise of raising social assistance rates to meet the Atlantic average.”
Although there are currently 38,972 New Brunswick individuals receiving social assistance, they continue to remain well below poverty line. While many believed that the province’s recently announced poverty reduction plan would provide concrete changes to move people out of poverty, the Common Front for Social Justice says that in fact only 3.3% (1,220 individuals) found comfort in this latest government budget.
The $15 million dollars invested will go to such initiatives as “Early learning and child care, promoting community schools and affordable housing, and increasing access to post-secondary education.”
“We agree with the decision to invest in our children, but if their moms and dads don’t have enough to eat, don’t have a good roof over their head, and don’t have heat this winter, they will not see any improvement in their situation, compared to last year,” adds McCaustlin.
In New Brunswick, 16.7% of children are poor, the highest percentage in all of the Atlantic provinces. This represents one out of every six children in the province (26,000 children). Thirty four percent of these children had to access New Brunswick food banks in March 2009.
“Nelson Mandela said that poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings. The 2010-2011 budget does not offer any means to act to eradicate the poverty experienced by more than 37,000 New Brunswick citizens,” concludes McCaustlin.