Green Party Announces Plan to Fight Poverty in New Brunswick


(Saint John) Green Leader David Coon unveiled his party's anti-poverty platform today with the Green Party's Saint John Harbour candidate outside the West Side Food Bank at the Carleton Community Centre.

"It is unacceptable that we have 11,000 children and their families living in poverty on social assistance. Here in Saint John we have the highest poverty rate in all of Canada, tied only with Toronto. And across New Brunswick we have 24,000 people working at full-time jobs paid a minimum wage which keeps them in poverty. Today, we are announcing measures to put more money into the hands of the poor, so they can afford to live in dignity and provide for their children," said Coon. "And we are going to pay for it by ensuring corporations pay their fair share of income tax to generate $64 million in new revenue," he said.

To fight help people escape poverty, the Green Party will:

• Raise the social assistance rates for the almost 40,000 New Brunswickers who depend on this source of income by 10% in 2015 and another 5% in 2016.

• Eliminate the claw backs from social assistance, such as the premature withdrawal of prescription drug benefits for people earning up to $20,000.

• Replace the minimum wage with a living wage, phased in over four years so that anyone working full-time will earn enough to keep them out of poverty.

• Ensure that the minimum wage, and its replacement - the living wage, increases to match the rate of inflation.

• Ensure people with an income of $20,000 or less, pay no provincial income tax.

• Ensure people earning less than $25,000 and families of four earning less than $40,000 are exempted from paying annual premiums to the New Brunswick drug plan.

• Fund school food and wellness programs with a tax on sugar-sweetened drinks.

• Support public health visits with at-risk new mothers, and provide on-going parenting support if necessary, with an additional $7.7 million per year.

• Expand the number of early childhood education centres within our elementary schools as part of a plan to provide non-profit, universally accessible, quality childcare.

"It is time we spend the money and make the structural changes needed to help lift people out of poverty," said Green Party leader David Coon. "As Nelson Mandela said, poverty is man-made and can be eradicated our actions. We want to take that action in New Brunswick," concluded Coon.