FREDERICTON – Green Party leader and MLA for Fredericton South David Coon tabled a bill in the Legislative Assembly today to improve working conditions for New Brunswick workers. The bill will provide ten paid sick days to all workers in New Brunswick.
“The pandemic has shown us just how important paid sick days are to public health,” said Coon. “People who are being asked to help the common good by staying home because they have COVID symptoms, or were a close contact of a confirmed case, need to be supported in doing so.”
New Brunswick’s minimum wage is just $11.75 per hour, the lowest of any province. Coon’s bill will also raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour, bringing it in line with British Columbia, Alberta, and Ontario.
“In order to address the labour shortage, the minimum wage must be raised closer to a living wage,” said Coon. “This will help businesses find the employees they need and make New Brunswick a more attractive place to live and work.”
Small and medium businesses have many challenges during this pandemic, so Coon’s bill would have the government establish a fund to ensure the costs of paid sick days and an increased minimum wage do not cause additional hardship as they adapt to the new requirements.
“For years the government has subsidized large corporations for millions of dollars. Meanwhile small and medium businesses are having difficulty attracting and retaining employees,” said Kevin Arseneau, Green Caucus critic for Economic Development and Small Business. “The government should step up to support them with subsidies for wages and sick days, rather than expect employees to continue to subsidize businesses with low wages, perpetuating the labour shortage.”
The bill will be brought for second reading debate during opposition day this Thursday afternoon.