Social justice group lukewarm on provincial budget

·2 min read
The budget will increase spending by 3.4 per cent, which Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said is necessary to see the province through the pandemic. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)
The budget will increase spending by 3.4 per cent, which Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said is necessary to see the province through the pandemic. (Shane Magee/CBC - image credit)

A social justice group says the new provincial budget doesn't go far enough to help New Brunswick's most vulnerable.

Abram Lutes, the provincial co-ordinator for the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, said there's some "interesting rhetoric" coming from government, but he wonders if it means much.

"They're saying that being prudent doesn't mean introducing cuts and we think they're right on that point," said Lutes.

"But there's not a lot to back up that rhetoric."

The budget will increase spending by 3.4 per cent, which Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said is necessary to see the province through the pandemic.

But, Lutes isn't seeing much new money for people he says need it most.

He welcomes the $10 million the province announced for affordable housing in the budget, but said the money would likely only build a "handful" of units.

"It's also not clear who the $10 million is going to go to, whether it's going to support private developers building affordable housing, or if it's going to go to non–profits and cooperatives," said Lutes.

"We think non–profits and cooperatives will be a much better investment."

Poor consultations

Lutes said the organization did submit a report as part of the province's pre-budget public consultations back in January.

But, he said the consultations didn't appear to have a focus on alleviating poverty.

Abram Lutes, the provincial co-ordinator for the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, said government hasn't done enough to make a dent in the province's poverty problem.
Abram Lutes, the provincial co-ordinator for the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, said government hasn't done enough to make a dent in the province's poverty problem.(CBC)

"They had questions prepared for feedback on things like how the government can stimulate private sector investment, but there were no questions about how the government could address poverty," said Lutes.

"This was a bit discouraging for us."

Lutes also said the $12.4 million for home support workers isn't enough to really make a big difference.

"I'm worried that in a year that while the government has made these announcements to invest in in housing and other things, that they won't really have the substantial impact that they need to have to really put a dent in poverty in this province," said Lutes.