Friday, March 25, 2022

NBU statement on provincial budget

The recently released provincial budget seems to be a lot of half measures.
For instance, the New Brunswick Union has advocated for rent control to stop the constant flow of egregious rent increases being foisted upon NB citizens.
The budget announced a 3.8 per cent rent increase cap for 2022, but would not commit to it extending beyond this year. Conversely, those driving the rent increases, landlords, received a 50 per cent property tax reduction in non-owner-occupied buildings to be implemented over three years.
The investment in creating more affordable housing units is minimal. The province keeps insisting on trickle down economics being a viable solution to problems in the housing market. It believes cutting taxes for landlords will mean those savings will be passed on to renters.
This has been a staple of Conservative government across North America for years, give more tax break to the rich and it will trickle down to the middle- and lower-income people. It never does. Wealthier people usually choose to accumulate rather than share.
The province did tout that its spending record amounts in healthcare. Given we’re still in a pandemic, all mandates have been dropped to protect people, government’s reluctance to spend during it to help New Brunswickers and the overwhelming amount of the spending is due to transfers from the federal government, it’s hard to get too excited by the announcement.
As always, details will matter in healthcare spending. The provincial health system faces vacancies in almost all positions, a large segment of the population has no access to a family doctor and mental health issues are on the rise.
So before lauding the province for its spending, we need to see exactly how it will be done and the benefits to New Brunswickers. We’ve seen governments pat themselves on the back – both Liberal and Progressive Conservative – for record healthcare spending and still find ourselves in this precarious position.
We have seen record surpluses the past two fiscal years of nearly a billion dollars. This is an opportunity to improve the services New Brunswickers depend on, but on the surface, this budget seems to largely benefit those in the higher income brackets.
After two years of a pandemic and sacrifices by the people of New Brunswick, we had hoped for more. It doesn’t appear this budget will drastically change things for the better. We hope we’re proved wrong.