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Green Party leader David Coon delivers his reply to the provincial budget on March 24, 2023. Image: New Brunswick Legislature video capture

Budget ‘will not get my support’: Green leader

By Brad Perry Mar 24, 2023 | 2:00 PM

New Brunswick’s Green party leader says he will not support the provincial budget unveiled this week.

In his reply to the budget speech on Friday, David Coon said it is the wrong budget for our times.

“There was every opportunity to bring forward the right budget. The government had the money but it didn’t have the will,” Coon told his fellow MLAs in the legislature.

Coon touched on several topics during his nearly 40-minute address, including health care, education and poverty reduction.

The leader questioned whether the 10 per cent increase in health spending will be enough to make a difference.

Included in this year’s budget is $39.2 million to improve access to primary care and $29.7 million to help address recruitment and retention challenges

“Our ERs are intended to provide emergency medicine but they’re jammed with people who need access to a family doctor or a nurse practitioner,” said Coon.

“People need an alternative to the ER. We need urgent care clinics in our hospitals and community health centres to solve this problem so New Brunswickers can access primary health care in a timely manner.”

Coon said the budget does not provide an alternative funding model for nurse practitioners working in collaborative teams to be reimbursed directly.

Currently, he said, physicians must pay nurse practitioners from the income they receive through Medicare billing or add them to their payroll.

“It is not sustainable,” said Coon, adding a new funding formula is “the key that will unlock the development of and the transition to primary collaborative care teams.”

The budget also lacked in many other areas, said the Green party leader, including support for those in poverty.

Coon decried the government’s decision not to increase social assistance rates beyond the 7.3 per cent inflation adjustment.

“Without an increase in social assistance rates, we’re going to see not only more people on the street, but we’re going to see a steep rise in people living in deep poverty,” he said.

“It leads me to a simple question. Why are the poor being punished for their poverty? Because that’s what it feels like.”

On education, Coon said he was pleased to see $2.4 million for early intervention supports for children with autism spectrum disorder, but questioned why there was no money for children with fetal alcohol spectrum disorder.

He said the budget also does nothing to address the special needs that all students face emerging from the pandemic.

In addition, Coon said the government also failed to address systemic and overt racism, as well as substantially increase support for energy efficiency.


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