Fredericton – Labour unions rallied against the Gallant government’s proposals to cut and privatize public services on the first day back to work for New Brunswick MLAs on Dec. 1, 2015.
Patrick Colford, president of the NB Federation of Labour, Alex Bailey, president of the Fredericton District Labour Council and leaders of CUPE unions in the public sector addressed the crowd in front of the New Brunswick Legislature as MLAs entered.
Brien Watson, president of CUPE 1253 representing school bus drivers said, “We know what this is about. It’s about emptying out rural New Brunswick to rape it for shale gas and forestry.”
The New Brunswick Teacher’s Federation released a statement opposing the cuts to public education in form of more students in a classroom and fewer teachers. The Gallant government is also proposing to privatize custodial services at schools.
The NB Common Front for Social Justice also opposes the Gallant’s cuts. “We are completely confounded by the proposals of Victor Boudreau, Minister of Health and responsible for the Strategic Program Review, when he is saying that the province needs to cut public services jobs and that privatization will help citizens of this province. How can laying off workers who are making wages above the poverty line, reducing services to the public and centralizing public services or making citizens pay for them help the more than 88,000 citizens who are right now living in poverty in our province?” asked Pauline Richard, co-chair of the Common Front.
“Public services are an essential component of the fight against poverty because they are universal, accessible and free. Citizens living in poverty needs, perhaps more than others, access to public services like health care. These citizens can’t afford to travel long distance for public services if they leave their region or are centralized in urban centers. They don’t have extra money in their budget to pay for services if they are privatized. The reality will be an ever increasing financial burden on them and their family and a lack of much needed services,” argues Joanne Petitpas, the other co-chair of the Common Front, the province’s largest anti-poverty coalition.