Skip to main content

'Nobody can live on that': Anti-poverty group disappointed with N.B. budget


An anti-poverty group in New Brunswick is disappointed with what it saw in Tuesday’s budget.

Organizers with the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice say they were let down by what they called a meagre raise to social assistance rates in the province.

Janelle LeBlanc, the provincial coordinator for the organization, said the extra $40 a month the Higgs government is pledging for people living on social assistance is nowhere near enough to cover the rising cost of living.

“In 2021, the social assistance rates in New Brunswick were the lowest in Canada and they are still some of the lowest in Canada,” said LeBlanc in an interview Wednesday.

“People who are deemed employable get $593 a month and people with disabilities get $792. Nobody can live on that. It’s under the poverty line. They live in extreme poverty.”

She says her group has been asking for social assistance rates to be raised to the poverty line.

“We were hoping that they would be raised a few hundred dollars, at least, and not just based on CPI [Consumer Price Index].”

The Higgs government tabled a $12.2-billion budget Tuesday that forecasts a small surplus and promises a funding boost to help stabilize the hurting health-care sector.

In a news release sent Wednesday, New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice Community Co-chair Robert MacKay said people living on social assistance can't hold their heads above water.

“While the rates are indexed to the Consumer Price Index, it is not enough to cover basic necessities,” said MacKay.

The organization was also disappointed about the lack of investment in affordable housing.

LeBlanc said they expected the budget to have funding for additional social housing units because the waiting list for public housing has doubled between 2020 and 2022.

“Last fall, they made an announcement that we would get 380 social housing units. It’s the first time in 40 years the government is actually investing in social housing. That’s a great first step. We were just hoping to have extra investments in building social housing units,” said LeBlanc.

LeBlanc believes the lack of measures to help with the soaring cost of living is a big concern.

“I know some other groups are content with what’s in the budget, but for us, for poverty, there’s no permanent solutions to answer any of the social problems we have today,” she said.

“We’re disappointed. We’re going to continue working, continue meeting with ministers, continue meeting with MLAs and continue submitting documents to the government and organizing actions.”

LeBlanc called the budget a “missed opportunity” to introduce higher taxes on the super-wealthy and to improve living conditions for people struggling with day-to-day expenses.

With files from the Canadian Press Top Stories

Stay Connected