New Brunswickers weigh in on economic worries

·3 min read

LJI-NBAs New Brunswickers anticipate the federal budget next month, many are worried about their personal economic futures or that of the next generation.

A new poll from Angus Reid indicated 79 per cent of New Brunswickers are worried about how young people today will be able to find a good job.

Carol Jacobi of Lower Coverdale is one of them. The retired bus driver, 60, said she stayed in the same job to be ready for retirement.

But Jacobi says she worries the next generation aren’t all being offered jobs like she had. “How can you put money away for retirement when you are making minimum wage or when your job comes with no pension?” she said.

Penelope Kollar of Riverview, who is in her fifties, said she is watching the challenges of being a young person trying to move forward through her two adult children. They aren't being offered permanent jobs, she said, and many jobs aren't coming with health or other benefits. Her son, now in his late twenties, works hard, she said, but can't afford to buy a home right now like her generation could.

Daniel Légère, president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labour, said he shares the same concerns. He said he worries about his own children’s future and his children’s generation, especially as the gig economy continues to increase.

But New Brunswickers are also worried about their own futures; 64 per cent said they agreed with the statement, “I worry about how I will support myself in retirement.”

Légère said none of the numbers surprise him, especially given how many people, in the service sector particularly, have felt their jobs were vulnerable. He said, if anything, he is actually surprised the numbers aren’t higher.

Half of New Brunswickers say, all things considered, they are financially doing about the same as a year ago, but 31 per cent said they are worse off.

Forty-two per cent of New Brunswickers said their personal finance situation was either “challenged” or “suffering”.

While a few said their financial situation improved during the pandemic, most did not.

Ninety per cent of New Brunswick respondents agreed that the current gap between the rich and the poor is unacceptable.

When asked what they would like the federal government to do, New Brunswickers overwhelming indicated they would like to see attention paid to improving social programs through greater investment in health care, pensions and childcare. Sixty per cent of New Brunswick respondents, more than in any other province, chose this option from a list of priorities they’d like to see the federal government make.

Only 22 per cent of New Brunswick respondents want the federal government to focus on paying down the deficit, second only to Nova Scotia, where 19 per cent indicated they’d like to see the federal government do this.

The federal budget will be released on April 19.

The Angus Reid Institute conducted the online survey from Feb. 26 to March 3, among a representative randomized sample of 5,004 Canadian adults who are members of Angus Reid Forum. For comparison purposes only, a probability sample of this size would carry a margin of error of +/- 1.4 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. The survey was self-commissioned and paid for by ARI.

Clara Pasieka, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Telegraph-Journal