20 DECEMBER 2012
The growing number of families who must avail themselves of food banks and charity this time of year to have a dignified Christmas is a sign that governments have abandoned their role of ensuring that everyone can live a dignified life year round, according to the Leader of the Green Party of New Brunswick. The Greens want the Alward government to stop downloading its responsibilities for the poor onto churches, voluntary organizations and philanthropists.
"Living in poverty is like being punished for a crime you didn't commit, as the English writer Eli Khamarov famously wrote," said Green Party Leader David Coon. "It is time to stop punishing those living in poverty and put enough money into their hands to pay for housing, heat, power and groceries," said Coon. "I can't think of a better way to stimulate the economy."
The Green Party wants the Alward government to create a Basic Income Guarantee to eliminate grinding poverty. "We are a wealthy society that believes in caring and sharing, so let's make sure that wealth is used to end poverty, rather than putting it into the pockets of those who don't need it through income and property taxes breaks," said Coon.
More than 100,000 New Brunswickers are living in poverty today; 45% of which are single moms and 11% are seniors. The demands on food banks continue to grow.
"Just because someone is disabled, sick, mentally ill, living on a fixed income or trapped in a minimum wage job, should not sentence them to a life of hardship," said Coon. "There is enough money to go around."
The Green Party wants Premier David Alward to institute a Guaranteed Basic Income to replace the existing measures for income support so all New Brunswick families can afford the basic necessities of a dignified life. "If everyone who made a donation of food, toys or money this Christmas wrote a letter to the Premier demanding that he take action to end poverty, perhaps we would get his attention," said Coon.
A Guaranteed Basic Income was tested in Dauphin, Manitoba with considerable success, lifting women and youth out of poverty.