by Chris Wanamaker
New Brunswick has stolen $20 million from the purchasing power of social assistance recipients in the last five to ten years, according to the New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice, a group that fights to eradicate poverty. Single, employable individuals in New Brunswick receive only $537 monthly in social assistance, a rate which has been frozen since 2010. Other recipients have not received any increase in their basic rate since 2014. Making up for this loss, though not a solution to inequality, is an urgent necessity to alleviate the daily suffering of impoverished working class folks.
To address this issue, the Common Front just established a new chapter in Saint John. It recently launched a campaign to engage politicians about the rates. Only one MLA has responded to requests to discuss the issue. The organization says it is sending letters to dozens of unions and organizations asking them to assist in the cause, according to Common Front organizer, Jean Claude Basque.
Meanwhile, the struggling New Brunswick NDP announced it has formally recognized the Socialist Caucus to create policies that can be presented at the next provincial policy convention. It also hopes to establish Youth, Labour, Environmental and Women’s Caucuses. Party insiders say the initiative will revitalize the party, which did not win any seats in NB in the last federal and provincial elections.