Thursday, January 28, 2021

What is the point of not offering help

Empathy and compassion are virtues the governing party of our province needs to exhibit as it has been lacking throughout portions of the pandemic.
The province is among the lowest in terms of money spent to help its citizens throughout COVID-19. Some will rationalize it by saying provincial economics are in a poor state, but that doesn’t excuse the lack of help in areas that would have cost nothing.
For instance, the provincial government has been asked to follow other provinces in continuing a rent freeze during the pandemic, similar to what PEI and Nova Scotia have done. However, Premier Higgs ended the rent freeze that was put in place during the state of emergency last spring.
With cases spiking again, government has said no evictions will happen in the portion of the province in lockdown, but that still leaves thousands at risk.
Instituting a rent freeze seems like a humane thing to do given there’s enough stress on folks during the pandemic. The province has refused to do this, and Social Development Minister Bruce Fitch said government should be the last resort when it comes to affordable housing issues. Fitch went even further with the following statements on a potential rent freeze in a CBC article:
Fitch said rent freezes will only cause landlords to hike rents prematurely to beat the cut-off.
He said it will also deter landlords from investing further in the province.
Fitch said families who no longer can afford their apartment because of a sudden rent increase should contact the Residential Tenancy Tribunal.
His concern in the statements seems to be for landlords, not for the average New Brunswickers and their families who could be forced out of their homes in the middle of a pandemic.
Next you have Natural Resources and Energy Minister Mike Holland writing the Energy and Utilities Board supporting an application by Irving Oil Ltd. to increase the amount petroleum wholesalers can charge in the province. A CBC article on the topic estimates, if approved, it could cost New Brunswick consumers up to $60 million more per year.
The company’s reasoning is financial hardship caused by the pandemic as well as several years of no changes to the margins. The Minister, it what was described as inappropriate but not illegal behaviour, is putting the profits of an oil company over the people of New Brunswick.
There are other examples of the province and its Ministers coming off as lacking compassion and empathy, but since the most recent provincial election it seems to have increased.
This government has always been focused on the well-being of businesses; we’re asking them to afford the same level of care to people.