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The New Brunswick legislature in Fredericton. Image: Brad Perry

Opposition parties want changes to affordability benefit

By Brad Perry Feb 22, 2024 | 5:38 AM

New Brunswick’s opposition parties are expressing frustration over the government’s affordability benefit.

Families or individuals with a net income of $70,000 or less in 2022 or 2023 are eligible for the $300 benefit.

However, they must have had a family working income of at least $3,000 for that taxation year, officials announced Tuesday.

That requirement was not mentioned when Premier Blaine Higgs first announced the affordability benefit in January, although he did say it would help “lower-income workers.”

“This is a one-time payment of $300 for families with a net income of $70,000 or less and could benefit around 250,000 families,” Higgs told a crowd of business leaders gathered in Fredericton for his annual State of the Province address.

Green Party leader David Coon said the working income requirement leaves out the most vulnerable New Brunswickers, including many seniors, students, the poort, and the disabled.

“People were counting on receiving this benefit and now they have had the rug pulled out from under them by Premier Higgs,” Coon said in a news release Wednesday.

“He must immediately remove the requirement for earning at least $3.000 in employment income so that everyone in need will qualify.”

Meanwhile, Liberal leader Susan Holt said the details surrounding this program are “insufficient and confusing.”

“A lot of people got their hopes up waiting for this relief and now many are going to be disappointed while they continue to struggle to make ends meet,” said Holt.

“The criteria and application process leaves New Brunswickers with more questions than answers.”

Applications for the $300 benefit will open next Tuesday.