The New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice asked all political party leaders to tell us their proposals to help low-income workers and the thousands of men, women and children living in poverty in our province.
“We are pleased that the Liberal, Green and NDP parties provided the public with an election platform, but are profoundly disappointed that the PC and the PANB have not seen fit to inform voters of their intentions.” said Jean-Claude Basque, Common Front provincial coordinator.
We compared the platforms provided to voters by September 10.*
Low-income workers: It is clear that the Green and the NDP party have concrete proposals that would help low-income workers acquire better income and working conditions. Of the two, the NDP platform is the more elaborate on this issue. The PC, Liberal and the PANB have absolutely nothing.
- $15 minimum wage indexed to the rate of inflation, and support to small businesses to adapt to new salary requirements.
- Paid sick leave, vacation, and paid overtime for all workers covered by the Employment Standards Act.
- Increase salaries for homecare and childcare workers.
- 15 minimum wage increases over four years – giving employers an opportunity to plan ahead.
- Improve the working lives and working conditions all New Brunswick workers including paid sick days for all employees.
- End unfair employer practises, including split shifts, call-ins without pay and undetermined schedules.
- Increase the coverage of employment standard legislation to dependent contractors and others excluded by the current definition of employee.
- Introduce common employer provisions to make franchisors responsible for the working conditions of employees of franchisees.
- Increase the provincial government’s capacity to enforce employment standards.
- Prohibit employers from requiring doctors’ sick notes
Social assistance: The Green Party has the most complete set of proposals that would make a difference in the lives of everyone depending on social assistance including for a person living with disability. The NDP is only looking at social assistance rates and not policies for recipients and did not mention disability. The Liberals are only dealing with the economic unit policy for social assistance recipients and one issue affecting primary caregivers who are helping persons with disabilities. Again the PC and the PANB are proposing nothing.
- Implement a Guaranteed Liveable Income with the support of the federal government, beginning with a pilot project for people living with a disability.
- Remove people with disabilities from the current social assistance categories and policies and implement a Guaranteed Liveable Income pilot project to provide them with an adequate income.
- Increase social assistance rates by 11 per cent for single people and by 8.3 per cent for families.
- Abolish social assistance rules that claw back benefits from people sharing housing.
- Raise all social assistance rates immediately by 10%.
- Index all rates to the cost of living.
- Immediately review the economic unit or household income policy and change it in order to better help social assistance recipients make ends meet.
For Basque, “Poverty is a question of revenue but it is also a question of public programs and services such as social housing, food security, childcare, pay equity, NB drug plan and childcare.”
Social Housing: All political parties have proposals, but the one that would make the most difference is offered by the NDP. Nothing from the PANB.
Food security: All political parties have some proposals. Both the Green and the NDP proposals would really help local farmers, but also make our province less reliable on food from outside the province. Nothing from the PC.
Pay Equity: The Green proposal is the more concrete one, while the NDP is still suggesting doing a study. The Liberals backed down from their 2018 promise and the PC and PANB are proposing nothing.
NB Drug Plan: Both the Green and the NDP proposals would certainly help New Brunswick citizens who can’t afford the NB Drug Plan. Nothing from the three other parties.
Childcare: The NDP has by far the more elaborate and complete proposal. Nothing on this issue from the PC even if childcare represents an enormous financial issue for families.
“NB Common Front for Social Justice wants to thank the parties that made the effort to propose voters an electoral platform in which concrete measures are suggested to reduce poverty. We are not pleased with the lack of proposals from the PC and the PANB; it seems low-income workers, poverty and women are not important issues for them,” concluded Basque.
*Note: this story was released on September 10; the PC party released its platform later that day, four days before the election.