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New Brunswickers weigh in on federal budget affordability benefits

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When it comes to day-to-day affordability, New Brunswickers are feeling the pinch

“Currently I get about $23,000 a year from my pension, CPP and old age and that simply isn’t enough to live on because I have about $200 after I pay my bills,” said Neal Milne. “We need to supply services and funds, like maybe a guaranteed annual income for people in Canada because people don’t have any money.”

Clarence Richard was getting ready to pick up groceries Wednesday and he says he’s noticed the cost of everything going up.

“Groceries, we’re jumping from one store to another because you have to shop for sales,” he said. “There’s nothing that comes down. They put the gas up for delivery and what not, I know that they have to charge, but the thing is if they put the gas down, or diesel down, are they going to put the groceries down? I doubt it.”

With the claim of “Fairness for Every Generation,” the federal government announced this year’s fiscal budget, but communications and public policy professor Jamie Gillies expected something more.

“I think generally if you’re a family and either you’re with a mortgage and you have your own residence or if you’re renting, there’s probably some small things here that you can tally up that would be worth while, but again, it’s not dramatic enough I think to convince the public that we’re not living in an affordability crisis,” he said.

“I find it to be tinkering around the edges like they are trying to put forward an optimist budget to get people on an affordability footing when it comes to things like taxes and other things, but I think they’ve got a step hill to climb because of the massive increases in the cost of living over the last couple of years and I don’t think this budget does enough to address some of those concerns.”

The Disability Benefit has gotten mixed reviews across the country, but the New Brunswick Coalition of Persons with Disabilities (NBCPD) is calling it a good first step.

“For a lot of people it’s going to be no longer having to choose between food or medications,” said NBCPD chair Shelley Petit.

Breaking it down, it means people living with disabilities will receive an additional $200 a month.

“After I sat back and thought about it, I thought $200 a month, it’s not huge, but it’s something,” said Petit. “It’s going to help with bills, it’s going to help with living a better life and that’s $6.1B from the federal government to start. $1.4B every year there after on a portfolio that has no federal responsibility. It is the responsibility of the provinces.

“There’s also clear language in the budget that this had to be the amount because anything more than that they were very concerned about provincial claw backs.”

While she says they wanted more money, she feels like people with disabilities got recognition during this budget and were really considered when it came to making a plan.

“Out of $54B in additional spending I think it was, that’s a ninth of it,” she said. “We got one ninth of that. For the first time of a really big recognition, that’s a start.”

Overall, Gillies saw this budget as a “catch all” when it came to affordability issues, saying it focused in general on smaller things.

“I think the public really is demanding almost populist solutions to affordability,” he said. “Things like they really want the federal government to get involved with rent control, they really want the federal government to do something about food prices, about gas prices and in some respects, the federal government can’t really intervene, that’s a huge intrusion into the economy, so what I think they’re trying to do with this budget is pick things, smaller things, that would be somewhat beneficial to people from an affordability stand point.”

He adds this didn’t come off as an election year budget and he suspects that Canada will see something more dramatic in early 2025. 

For more New Brunswick news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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