Report on Poverty in New Brunswick Demonstrates Great Need

Fredericton – Today, the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation (ESIC) released its 5 year progress report on the New Brunswick’s poverty reduction strategy.   Poverty was reduced between 2009 and 2011 as a result of increases in social assistance and the minimum wage, while the rate of deep poverty increased by 5%.

“The gains identified in the progress report illustrate the power of increasing income to alleviate poverty,” said David Coon, MLA Fredericton South and Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick. “While we must further increase social assistance and raise minimum wage in the short term to continue the momentum, fundamentally we need to transform the approach to income support by implementing a basic income guarantee and a living wage.”

A basic income guarantee identifies a minimum income required to meet one’s needs. It then ensures that each household receives income sufficient to meet that need.  A living wage model works similarly for the working poor.

Additional approaches are needed to help those living in deep poverty, which is directly associated with homelessness, mental illness, addictions, and those living with serious disabilities.

“The increase in deep poverty says to me we are not helping the most vulnerable people in our society,” said Coon. “We need our government to fund an effective mental health care system and support programs  such as  Housing First.”

Coon noted that the progress report did not include information about poverty rates after 2011, and he worries that the progress made in the first two years of the poverty reduction strategy may have been undermined over the past four years.  “I know the tough situations some of my constituents are facing, unable to pay their power bills after their rent, or having to resort to eating at the community kitchen so they have enough money to buy groceries for their children,” said Coon.