New Brunswick’s Green Party leader says the province needs to take steps to raise incomes after Statistics Canada released figures showing the province has the lowest household median income in the country.
David Coon says New Brunswick should adopt measures enabling workers to join unions, while raising minimum wages and welfare rates and experimenting with a basic, guaranteed annual income.
He spoke to The New Wark Times during a visit today to Sackville where he answered questions about the Statistics Canada figures released this week.
The figures showed that in 2015, the national median household income was $70,336, while the New Brunswick figure was $59,347, the lowest in any province or territory.
New Brunswick also tied with Nova Scotia for the highest rate of children (22.2 per cent) living in low-income households.
First contract legislation
“I’m convinced that one of the reasons we have lower wages in New Brunswick is that too few people have unions to fight for them,” Coon says.
He adds he plans to introduce a bill in the New Brunswick legislature this fall to create first contract legislation that would require employers to bargain in good faith with newly unionized workers.
Coon maintains New Brunswick should take a number of other steps to reduce poverty.
“Right off the bat, we need to raise income assistance rates, people aren’t going to get out of poverty if we can’t do that,” he says.
“We need a basic (annual) income,” he adds. “That needs to be done in co-operation with the federal government. We’re not currently engaged on that, we need to be.”
The Green Party leader points out that the P.E.I. legislature passed a unanimous resolution last year calling for the province to pursue a partnership with the federal government on a basic income pilot project while Ontario is already testing the idea in four areas of the province.
“The federal government has expressed an interest in supporting exploration of this approach to help reduce poverty overall, but New Brunswick has not stepped up and said we want to be part of that,” Coon says.
“I would argue that beyond the pilot projects, New Brunswick would be the perfect place to actually pilot it on a large scale.”
(However, it’s not clear whether the federal government is still committed to helping more provinces test a basic income plan. So far, P.E.I has failed to get funding for one.)
Contracting out health-care services
Coon reiterated his strong opposition to the province’s plan to hand the management of New Brunswick’s extra-mural, home-care support program to Medavie Blue Cross which already manages ambulance services.
“It’s unconscionable,” he says. “When you contract out the management of a public service, then it becomes more of a numbers game, decisions get made by bean counters, not by public sector managers who are making decisions in terms of the public interest,” he adds.
Coon argues that if contracting out goes ahead, extra-mural nurses will know they’re no longer working for the public even though they’ll be paid from the public purse.
“They’ll be working for private managers and that changes everything,” he says.
“It doesn’t bode well for the extra-mural health care in New Brunswick.”
To listen to the interview with David Coon, click on the link below. The interview runs 6:44.
Thank you for this article. Mr. Coon raised very important issues. I am afraid there is more to the story though. Regardless, whether it is related to this or not, I have always wondered which comes first in a country or in a province… Extreme poverty or corruption?
Rima, it certainly seems that in this province, corruption and the greed of the ‘almighty’ dollar seems to have a strong foothold over extreme poverty. With MAJOR industrial players basically ‘controlling’ “OUR” government we sadly may well be past the tipping point.
Interesting article, Coon did fail to mention where funding would be sourced? Raise wages & taxes? Perhaps our government could explore & Perdue $70 m given away by our previous government to a Maramchi construction firm.
I’m concerned that the Wark Times has chosen to give voice to only one party on such a complex and critical issue.
Merrill, thanks for your comment. I’m running a local news blog here for Sackville & vicinity. When a political party leader visits, I’m likely to cover that visit and ask timely questions about current issues. In this case, David Coon’s supporters let me know in advance he was coming so I could be there. I’ve been told that the premier visited here on Friday, but if he did, no one let me know. I would certainly have asked him about the StatsCan income figures and the plan to contract-out the management of extra-mural services. That said, my primary focus is on local news. When the next provincial election campaign comes, I’ll be covering all the local candidates.
Thanks Bruce. I serve on the executive of the local NDP so I’ll be sure to reach out when our new leader visits.
I for one would like my tax dollars that the Liberal gov hands out to other countries stay in Canada for our people.
Very little of Canada’s funds goes to foreign countries it is about 1.7 % of the budget.
I also believe we should do our part with refugees.
We excepted what 40 thousand refugees with a population of 35 Million. These are things we pull off and things that we do While Lebanon for example, on the other hand, has a population is Six Million has to deal with One Million Syrian refugees
The core problems that have to be dealt with when Governing
is upward migration meaning having a working wage and dealing with skills gap and pension reform especially for people who work in the private sector or own a small business.
So every time I hear PM Justin Trudeau and he talks about how he is a feminist and the world should be more inclusive etc…I always think to myself why this guy, not in his office Governing dealing with core issues like upward migration a working wage and dealing with skills gap problem and pension reform especially for single seniors and people who work in the private sector or own a small business maybe people who work for themselves. Speeches only get on so far. This requires real work let’s face it is less exciting than saving whales etc…
Sincerely, Demian Hammock
I had met and had a dinner with David Coon Leader of the Green Party concerning the Party in this riding with a couple of other people a couple of weeks ago. For the record, I am a member of no party. I had mentioned a project I was working on with some others concerned with e.g. Sackville Seniors Helping Seniors – http://www.sackvilleseniorshelpingseniors.com/
and the need for a working wage and what many seniors especially single seniors had to live off. David Coon and his assistance mention they would get back to me but never did.
So my question what is up with that? I gave them my contact info email, website, phone number but not so much as an acknowledgment as (Thank You For Meeting With Us And Bringing These Concerns To Us etc…) What do I tell these seniors now? The Green Party does not care in the least about seniors living in poverty it certainly seems that way.
If anyone could get back to me from Green Party David Coon or Town Councillor Megan Mitton it would be greatly appreciated.
I am happy to see that Green Party is addressing these issues.
It matters but getting back to people also matters in winning elections and getting people on your side.
Sincerely, Demian Hammock.
Also Reachable on LinkedIn
I work with David Coon in his legislative office. Thank you for your comments and the chance to connect with you here. I will follow up with you today via e-mail.
From Mr. Wark’s story you can tell that income assistance, including assistance for low-income seniors, is a top priorty for Mr. Coon.
I would like to personally thank Ms. Carmont, Media Contact/Green Party for taking the time to get back to me personally about the issue of seniors on fixed incomes and concerning a pilot project being worked on, Sackville Seniors Helping Seniors.
Link to Website: http://www.sackvilleseniorshelpingseniors.com/home-page.html
Sincerely, Demian Hammock.
Interesting discussion. First of all, thank you Mr. Wark (or Bruce) for being our voice, asking questions to our visiting politicians and sharing their insights with us. Thanks for clarifying to Merrill Fullerton why this interview was with Mr. Coon. Welcome to all in Sackville :).
Second, bravo Damien for your initiative in town! I enjoyed discovering the website link of Seniors Helping Seniors… Oh before forgetting, talking about advocacy for seniors, I enjoyed reading your response Sharon (to Jane) with regard to the earlier article.
Third, to reply to you Mr. Percy Best, with every passing year, I notice that New Brunswick has similarities with Lebanon [what I am trying to say is not necessarily a compliment to NB as I meant the Lebanon of the Middle East. Not of the United States :)]. Although, the two places are FULL of talents and LOTS of charm, Governments here and there are indeed sadly too weak (I agree with you). In Lebanon, corruption is more in your face. For instance, the same politician may own the same private company of electricity. Can you imagine the conflict of interest? Why fix this public service then when citizens are struggling to pay two bills at the same time, one to the Government and the other to the private company? The good news is that they always have power, regardless of its source. What was supposed to be a temporary solution during civil war remains the daily reality 17 years later. In Canada, things are more subtle and perhaps more normal (at least apparently). You see older politicians becoming CEO of private companies. Then you see Governments making deals with these private companies. Perhaps more worrisome is when you see older politicians becoming judges. One cannot help not to wonder about conflict of interest. This, even in Lebanon, you do not see it…although the legal system is sadly not fully independent. I heard of at least one example of influence of a powerful group that has overturned the decision of a judge, after a lawyer won her case. Shocking, isn’t :(! When the legal system of a place is influenced like that, the hope of things being fixed is almost impossible in my non-expert opinion. What I am trying to say is that, I agree with you, both places (their institutions) seem to be sort of hijacked by forces. However, thank Goodness, the implications are less dramatic in the case of our NB (we are not always dancing on a volcano like in Lebanon). This being said, perhaps one noticeable difference between the citizens of NB and Lebanon is that people living there are not afraid of talking like here (although the consequences may be more serious in the Middle East). In both places, people are smart. They know well what is going on (even when they are silent in NB). I guess all what people want (retired seniors or young workers) is bread on the table whilst living in dignity, enjoying the beauty around and family love. Without too much philosophy about politics, what makes NB and Lebanon particularly comparable in my eyes is my immense love for both! Despite corruption or worse issues, no place is perfect. No one is perfect. Can we keep loving a place, calling it home, despite its deep issues. OF COURSE we can. Can we do better? SURE we can? Will we do better? Only time will tell… I keep my faith in humankind.
Sorry for my long blahblahblah. I just felt like sharing.
Very well said, Rima and thank you for your thoughtful analysis.
Sincerely, Demian Hammock
Thank you Demian. I appreciate it.
FYI, I shared “Seniors helping Seniors” (i.e., name/website) with my colleagues (i.e., policy analysis grant project on “policies and program innovations that connect primary health care, social services, public health and community supports in Canada”). Thanks again for initiating this resource in Sackville and please keep up!