Austerity model has run its course in this province

FREDERICTON: The largest union in New Brunswick, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, is consulting with members across the province on a new course of action to halt the Government’s austerity bulldozer.

“We are ready to pull out all the stops to save the social fabric of New Brunswick”, said Odette Robichaud, CUPE NB Vice-President.

At the press conference today with union leaders representing the hospitals, schools, transportation workers and other government employees, CUPE NB asked the government to tell citizens how they came up with the document ‘Choices to Move New Brunswick Forward’.

“We have been to every public forum and round table in the province and this is not what we heard. Nobody came to the microphone to say you should close my hospital because I don’t mind travelling an extra hour to receive health care or increase the size of the classroom so the teacher will have less time to spend with my child, and on top of that, lay off education assistants. We didn’t hear any New Brunswickers come forward and say you should close the school in my community and privatize road maintenance and custodial services in the school, so my neighbours or family members would lose their jobs.”

“We are asking the minister responsible for the Strategic Program Review how he came up with the document? Why is he is using the deficit figure for the second quarter of 2015-2016, which is $453 million, instead of the deficit figure for 2014-2015 which stands at $388.6 million and includes a one-time expense of $229.7 million for the reform of the New Brunswick Teachers Pension Plan? We are asking the minister what is the true deficit of the province? ”
“Thousands of New Brunswickers could potentially lose their livelihood if the government implement the recommendations of the Choices report released earlier this month. Even worse, communities will lose their heart and souls.”

“We are seeing right now what is happening in communities where government services were closed. A community without a school, post office, and a hospital is no longer a community. It doesn’t take long before the grocery store, the restaurant and the bank close as well. If the government keeps on this path, we will have many ghost communities in this province.”

“The choices put forward by the government are like a broken record. A few years ago, New Brunswick was embarking on an ambitious agenda of transformational change that was supposed to lead our province to self-sufficiency. The minister responsible for the Strategic Review, Victor Boudreau, was then the Finance minister who pushed forward a Tax Reform that deprived the province of hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues.”

“Now some of the same players are trying to take us far down the road of destruction of the infrastructure and values New Brunswickers hold dear to their heart.”

“For decades now, governments have been cutting taxes, programs and services saying the private sector would create jobs. The private sector has been told that it is the only sector that actually creates jobs, even though those who work in the public sector produce great value and jobs that are especially important to smaller communities and crucial to maintain economic stability.”

“This government also needs to stop the corporate welfare. They should know better than anyone else this is a strategy that doesn’t work. When Atcon received $70 million in loan guarantees – it was a complete fiasco.”

“It’s false to think that only the private sector creates jobs. Our elected officials need to have the courage to recognize that the austerity measures put in place did not create any economic boom or job bonanza.”

“This document is the last straw. This time, Premier Brian Gallant really outdid himself. With this type of vision, New Brunswick will return to the New Brunswick of the 60’s before the provincial initiative Equal Opportunity was established by Premier Louis Robichaud. Premier Robichaud’s legacy was the Equal Opportunity Program, which standardized education, health and social services for all New Brunswickers.”

“With this document ‘Choices to Move New Brunswick Forward’, Brian Gallant’s legacy will be the destruction of our society,” concluded Robichaud.