Acting Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation Renaud Brossard misses the mark in his pre-budget recommendations to the New Brunswick Government (a recently published guest opinion in the Telegraph-Journal). Among the Canadian Taxpayers Federation’s recommendations is a proposal to cut public sector wages by 15 per cent, arguing that public sector wages and benefits are unreasonably higher than their private sector counterparts.
Comparing public and private sector jobs is like comparing apples and oranges. Many good-paying unionized private sector jobs in manufacturing, mills and mines have disappeared over the last few decades. Why should hard-working public sector workers be penalized because of this?
For too long, New Brunswick has had one of the lowest median income levels of all provinces in Canada. Supressing wages in both the private and public sectors will certainly stifle our economic recovery from COVID-19. The best way to stimulate the economy is to pay people a living wage so they can spend in their local communities. This in turn will support local businesses.
What is needed is strong government investment in workers, in infrastructure and in communities. This is how we will recover from the pandemic.
I do agree that private sector wages and working conditions should be better. Hence, government should raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour. Nobody who works forty hours per week should be living in poverty. Labour legislation should be changed to give all workers access to 10 paid sick days per year. Too few private sector employees have access to an employer-sponsored pension. We should be expanding the Canada Pension Plan so everyone has access to a decent pension and can retire in dignity.
Now is not the time to cut taxes. It is nonetheless the time to make sure that everyone is paying their fair share of taxes.
Daniel Légère is the president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour.