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Stephen Drost is the president of CUPE New Brunswick. Image: Zoom video capture

CUPE NB says budget lacked credibility and transparency

By Tara Clow Mar 23, 2023 | 10:35 AM

The provincial budget has left the innocent and most vulnerable members of society behind, according to the President of CUPE NB.

“The government is massively underestimating its forecasted revenues to avoid putting money into workers’ wages,” says Stephen Drost.  “Finance Minister Ernie Steeves projects a budget surplus of $40.3 million, which is more than 20 times less than last year’s surplus (recorded at $820 million).”

Drost says the Finance Minister is repeating exactly what he did last year when he predicted a 30 million surplus through lowballed revenue projections from personal income tax, corporate income tax and HST to avoid criticism of under-investing in public services.

The union feels the budget had weak below-inflation investments and revenue figures that seriously lack credibility and transparency.

“If it was not for the federal funding coming to childcare, housing and healthcare, this would be a hard austerity budget,” Drost says.

CUPE NB also noted spending in almost all Departments is way below last year’s inflation rate of 7.3%.

“One very telling example is how NB is spending less than $29 million for recruitment and retention for healthcare staff, while Nova Scotia just announced it would invest ten times more, at approximately $350 million,” the Union states.

Also noted in a news release, CUPE NB says little has been done to support newcomers and new workers,  but corporate welfare programs were increased.

The budget included $44.9 million to increase wages for personal support workers and special care workers, as well as $9.7 million for wage increases for workers in group homes, community residences, family support, and attendant care.

“This is the closest thing to “good news” in this budget for our members. However, these wage increases in real terms will be well behind inflation.  This budget does nothing to address serious recruitment and retention issues across all sectors. It’s leaving the innocent and most vulnerable members of our society behind,” concluded Drost.


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