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NBers list obstacles to true economic, social inclusion

By Regis Phillips May 21, 2024 | 4:47 PM

More than 4,400 New Brunswickers have provided feedback on renewing the province’s economic and social inclusion plan.

The Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation created and led the public engagement process from January through April.

The process brought together residents, non-profits, the business sector and government representatives to share their thoughts and ideas on economic and social inclusion, prompting more than 32,000 comments.

The corporation developed an online questionnaire that invited people to submit briefs, conducted focus groups and held dialogues across the province.

Jean Allain, chair of the corporation’s board, said the public engagement process is the most comprehensive in the province in terms of poverty since the adoption and implementation of the first plan in 2009.

“An unprecedented number of New Brunswickers have provided us with valuable feedback on the current issues the province is facing. We thank all of them for their participation,” said Allain.

Food insecurity, access to transportation and availability of affordable housing were among the issues most frequently cited as obstacles to true economic and social inclusion.

“We share the concerns that New Brunswickers have expressed regarding the impact of the rising cost of living and the difficulty in making ends meet,” said Social Development Minister Jill Green, who is also minister responsible for the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation.

“The feedback from the public engagement process and the Canadian Income Survey data recently released show the importance for all of us to continue to work together to help New Brunswickers meet our basic needs and live with dignity, security and good health.”

Government officials say comments and ideas received will be analyzed and used to create a list of priority actions that will shape the new plan, which is expected to be released in early 2025.

The Economic and Social Inclusion Act states that the corporation must renew the plan every five years through a public engagement process. The current plan expires at the end of this year.