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N.B. activist group demands a ‘living wage’

By Regis Phillips Feb 1, 2024 | 6:01 AM

The advocacy group New Brunswick Common Front for Social Justice (FrontNB) believes this year’s minimum wage increase will still not be enough.

On April 1, rates will rise to $15.30 in New Brunswick, an increase of 55 cents from the current $14.75 per hour.

FrontNB said this new rate is still not a “living wage” and urges the government to increase the minimum wage to $20 per hour throughout the province.

“There must be permanent and structural measures to help New Brunswickers with the rising cost of living,” said Provincial Coordinator Janelle LeBlanc.

“One such measure would be to increase the minimum wage to a living wage which would then increase annually according to the New Brunswick Consumer Price Index.”

LeBlanc said the idea of $20 per hour came from a Human Development Council report. The organization calculated the living wage in various cities and communities by using the Market Basket Measure, seeing how expenses such as rent and groceries cost on average.

“How are people supposed to live with a low minimum wage that doesn’t cover basic needs? How can people pay their rent and cover essentials such as food, and medication for themselves and their families? How can they pay for uniforms and work equipment with poverty wages?” said FrontNB co-chair Gabrielle Ross-Marquette.

“Paycheques are not going as far as they used to. Until the New Brunswick government gives priority to funding accessible and affordable public services, the minimum wage will have to cover more than basic needs like rent and food. Workers deserve a minimum wage increase that goes beyond the cost of living.”