Moncton – Last week, the New Brunswick and Canadian Governments made public their budgets for fiscal year 2012-2013. Both budgets are characterized by cuts to public services and cuts that affect disproportionately society’s most vulnerable.
“Now more than ever, it is important that the labour movement work to combat governments’ right wing agenda,” says Michel Boudreau, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour. “Otherwise we may not recognize the society in which we live in three year’s time. Our governments, who are supposed to have our best interest at heart, are sacrificing people to their economic agenda.”
The provincial budget is characterized by cutting the number of people who deliver essential public services. Also, the province is cutting $7.5 million in the funding allocated for social assistance and $1 million to adult learning services. There will also be a decrease in the funding available to college and university students who are pursuing their post-secondary education.
“These cuts are unfortunate and unnecessary,” adds Boudreau “The government could have raised its revenues by bringing the personal and corporate tax rates to their 2008 levels. The funds generated would have gone a long way in combating the provincial deficit.”
The provincial government is finally beginning pay equity adjustments in New Brunswick. The government is investing $6.4 million this year, a first instalment. While announcing that more funds will follow until 2017-2018, the government does not specify the amount. More information is required on how these funds will be distributed to determine if they will make a meaningful difference in the lives of workers.
The federal budget, also made public last week, announced the elimination of 12 000 public service jobs which will impact the level and quality of services available to Canadians. It also announced $5.2 billion in cuts to public services over the next three years. It will also be raising the age of retirement from 65 to 67.
“Attacking Old Age Security and the Guaranteed Income Supplement to poor seniors is the worst possible way to deal with retirement security in Canada. The right way is to expand the Canada Pension Plan now to raise incomes for seniors in the future,” says Michel Boudreau, President of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour. “If we commit now to doubling future CPP benefits, we can ensure that all Canadians can retire in dignity.”
For over the past year, the Canadian labour movement has been promoting improving the retirement benefits available to Canadians.
“There are several paths that lead to economic prosperity. It is unfortunate that the federal and provincial governments have decided to follow a path that will benefit society’s most wealthy, while leaving the rest of us behind,” concludes Boudreau.
The New Brunswick Federation of Labour is Labour’s central voice in New Brunswick, representing 40,000 members.