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'It's impossible': People rally in Moncton for better living conditions in New Brunswick


Around 20 people gathered in downtown Moncton, N.B., Monday morning for a rally to demand better working and living conditions for people in New Brunswick.

The event was organized by the NB Common Front for Social Justice and took place in front of the former Times and Transcript building on Main Street.

The group planned the rally the day before the provincial budget is announced in Fredericton in hopes of bringing awareness to social and economic factors people in the province are struggling with every day.

Janelle LeBlanc, the provincial coordinator of the NB Common Front for Social Justice, said at Monday’s rally the group is concerned about the state of the province and the direction it's going in.

"Tomorrow, the government is going to table the 2023/2024 budget and we would like to see more investments in people and communities," said LeBlanc.

"Right now, people are struggling to make ends meet. They are struggling in general. We have a really high rate of homelessness. We have people who can't afford the rent. We have low social assistance rates and we just want a more just and equitable society here in New Brunswick."

LeBlanc wants to see increases in social assistance rates come out of Tuesday's budget.

"In 2021, they were the lowest in Canada. People can not live with $600 a month, $792 a month. It's impossible," she said.

LeBlanc said they also want to see more investments in social housing across the province, accessible for people with disabilities and big enough for families.

Another issue front and centre for the group is more investments in health care.

"Our health-care system is crumbling right now and we just need to focus on retention of employees and recruitment," said LeBlanc.

In a news release sent after the rally, the organization listed several issues it hopes the Blaine Higgs government will address, including:

  • Investing the current provincial budget surplus in social programs such as social assistance, healthcare, social housing and improving working conditions for employees who work on the front lines.
  • The increase of the minimum wage to $20 per-hour across New Brunswick, a rate the group considers a living wage.
  • The addition of 10 employer-paid annual sick days to the Employment Standards Act
  • The compensation for workers for mandatory clothing and equipment needed for their profession.
  • The increase and simplification of access to pay for overtime.

Robert MacKay, NB Common Front for Social Justice co-chair, said the province must act swiftly before things get worse.

"Pay cheques are not going as far as they used to and low-income New Brunswickers cannot hold their heads above water," said MacKay in the news release.

"We want to live in a more just and equitable society, one in which everyone feels secure, has their basic needs met and can take their place in the community."

On Dec. 6, Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves tabled a $1-billion capital budget that addresses inflation and recognizes the shortages of labour and materials. Top Stories

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