The NB Media Co-op publishes news and opinion articles not covered in the mainstream, commercial media in the province. Many of our stories address issues of social justice. Today we are sending a letter to the leaders of all New Brunswick political parties asking them to support an increase in social assistance rates in the budget of the Department of Social Development.
In its recent Speech from the Throne, the government of New Brunswick mentioned that the Department of Social Development “continues to focus on social assistance reform to ensure the removal of barriers to employment.” Serving those individuals most in need in our province requires an empathic and supportive focus to deal effectively with many different issues beyond employment. We urge our provincial government to act in a caring and meaningful manner to address the realities of poverty and poor health indicators that have resulted from successive years of inaction on the social assistance file.
The NB Media Co-op editorial board recently reviewed its archive and found 64 articles tagged “social assistance” going back to the earliest days of our publication, February 2009. This archive is evidence of the many social injustices existing across New Brunswick. The majority of these injustices continue to exist in New Brunswick in 2019, ten years later. New Brunswickers are waiting for our government to take action. These 64 articles can all be accessed from this link:
Our stories include tales of hardship, food insecurity, and housing insecurity that affect thousands of New Brunswick residents who simply cannot afford to live within existing social assistance conditions. Our review of these articles found that successive governments in the last number of years have failed even to adjust the basic rate of social assistance for inflation. At the same time, our archive also contains stories about the lack of revenue coming into provincial coffers due to decreases in taxes on corporations and the most wealthy earners. The actions of successive governments to increase the wealth of our most privileged residents at the expense of our most vulnerable residents flies in the face of social justice.
Our story archive review also found stories of hope and resilience as well as opinions and analysis by community-based groups, particularly the Common Front for Social Justice, with realistic proposals for improving the social assistance system. Among the many proposal is a simple one: increase the basic rate of social assistance. We urge you to include an increase in the 2020-2021 Social Development Department Budget to adjust all social assistance recipients’ basic monthly rates.
Editorial Board, NB Media Co-op