New Brunswick town declares state of emergency due to 'unprecedented' homelessness

ST. STEPHEN, N.B. — A New Brunswick municipal council has declared a state of emergency, citing "unprecedented" rates of homelessness and the recent death of an unhoused resident.

The declaration by the municipal district of St. Stephen, N.B., is dated Monday and takes aim at the provincial government.

It says that as the body responsible for housing and social services, the New Brunswick government has failed in its duties to house and care for the citizens of St. Stephens

The declaration says there are roughly 70 people without a home in the community of about 4,510 people, adding that "a resident of a public space" died last week.

The council is calling on Premier Blaine Higgs to use part of the province's budgetary surplus to fund a solution to "the public health and safety crisis" facing the town.

Kris Austin, minister of public safety, told reporters today he found the emergency alert "very disappointing" and frivolous.

"I have written back to the mayor, to make sure that he is aware of what a definition of a state of emergency is," Austin said. "A state of emergency is used in extreme and rare cases, and it is my opinion this does not fit a state of emergency."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 5, 2023.

The Canadian Press