NB’s Finance Minister’s Budget Lacks Credibility

Fredericton This Tuesday, New Brunswick’s Minister of Finance Ernie Steeves presented his 2023-2024 provincial budget with weak below-inflation investments and revenue figures that seriously lack credibility and transparency.

“The government is massively underestimating its forecasted revenues to avoid putting money into workers’ wages,” said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE NB. Ernie Steeves projects a budget surplus of $40.3 million, which is more than 20 times less than last year’s surplus (recorded at $820 million).

“Ernie Steeves is repeating exactly what he did last year when he predicted a 30 million surplus through lowballed revenue projections from personal income tax, corporate income tax, and HST to avoid criticism of under-investing in public services.

“If it was not for the federal funding coming to childcare, housing, and healthcare, this would be a hard austerity budget,” said Drost. CUPE NB notes that spending in almost all Departments is way below last year’s inflation rate of 7.3%. One very telling example is how NB is spending less than $29 million for recruitment and retention for healthcare staff, while Nova Scotia just announced it would invest ten times more, at approximately $350 million.

CUPE NB notes that little is done to support newcomers and new workers ($1.6 million), but corporate welfare programs were increased (lowered lumber royalty rates, and a $4.5 million allotted for sylviculture planting and tending, which is a subsidy for lumber companies).

The budget includes $44.9 million to increase wages for personal support workers and special care workers, as well as $9.7 million for wage increases for workers in group homes, community residences, family support, and attendant care. “This is the closest thing to “good news” in this budget for our members. However, these wage increases in real terms will be well behind inflation,” said Stephen Drost. The NB Coalition for Pay Equity believes this wage increase will still keep these workers far behind pay equity.

“This budget does nothing to address serious recruitment and retention issues across all sectors. It’s leaving the innocent and most vulnerable members of our society behind,” concluded Drost.

Medavie Still Fails to Recognize Truth and Reconciliation Day

Today, CUPE Local 1252, the union representing over 9 000 healthcare workers in New Brunswick, is calling on the NB Government to demand Medavie respect its legal obligation to honour Truth & Reconciliation Day (September 30th).

To this day, the private company Medavie has not yet properly compensated the provincial workers they manage for the work done on the official holiday. Meanwhile, all public employees in healthcare that are under public management (Vitalité and Horizon), have been properly paid either on or before March 7, 2023.

“Ambulance NB, Telecare, and Extra-Mural Staff, who are all under Medavie’s management, are entitled to this adjustment. There is no excuse that they have not yet been paid,” said Norma Robinson, President of CUPE Local 1252.  “The payment obligation comes from an arbitrators’ order, which was not challenged, so his decision is final and binding,” said Trent Snikkers, CUPE National Servicing Rep.

Earlier in 2022, CUPE 1252 had filed a grievance to have National Truth and Reconciliation Day (NTRD) recognized, which then went to arbitration. In the decision issued on August 10, 2022, arbitrator Robert Breen upheld CUPE 1252’s grievance, ordering the provincial government to recognize the holiday for workers.

“If Treasury Board cannot get Medavie to respect the order, they should not be in a contract with them in the first place,” said Robinson. “That’s the issue with privatization, the public loses control and transparency, and the public has a hard time getting them to respect their obligations,” she added.

The intrusion of private companies in healthcare is a growing concern. “Private personal care attendants cost a fortune to taxpayers. The health networks don’t interview private staff. They are working without the appropriate qualifications, are barely oriented, and are asking our members how to do their own jobs,” said Robinson. “I hope that in this week’s provincial budget, the province sends a clear signal to end this backward practice in Horizon and Vitalité,” concluded Robinson.

2023 CUPE NB Scholarship Winners

The CUPE NB education committee met in December and decided on the scholarship winners. The winners are as follows:

  •  Ellie Nicole Hartland
  •  Alexis Wilda Harrison
  •  Melissa Linda Marie Gould
  •  John Rey Abrena Gali
  •  Andrew Read Hart
  •  Kaelyn Pitre

The 3 committee members used a point system as always to determine the winners. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Kimberly Copp.


Ernie Steeves refuses to prioritize residents’ needs

CUPE NB is appalled to see that Finance Minister Ernie Steeves has no plan to use budget surpluses to fix the staffing crises in public services.

“Minister Steeves has let the provincial fiscal surplus balloon up to an obscene 862.6 million dollars by starving front-line services from desperately needed resources and staffing,” said Stephen Drost, President of CUPE NB. “This is not only irresponsible but also jeopardizing what made that surplus possible: population growth,” added Drost. 

Despite public backlash following his declaration that New Brunswick’s budget surplus would be 24 times what he had “predicted”, the Finance minister has still not switched gears.

Too many public-sector workers are working short, may they be DTI plow operators, school bus drivers, nursing home care staff, or social workers. “This Minister is not taking a balanced approach. He is focusing on debt reduction only, and leaving budget dust for services to residents,” denounced Drost.

CUPE NB wants the Minister to actually do something about the rising cost of living for workers. When you have strong population growth, governments should have an adequate response to consolidate it, without forgetting the existing population who now feels extra pressure, like fewer childcare spaces per resident, rent increases, or fewer long-term care spaces per capita. “Public service growth should follow population expansion, not run against it. Steeves is really disconnected from what most New Brunswickers are dealing with,” concluded Drost.

Order the “Bargaining Forward” Book Here

Bargaining Forward: The story of the 2021 CUPE Strike in New Brunswick details how front-line public sector workers stood together and won against a hostile government.

Click on the image to order from cupe.ca

Illustrated with full-colour photos, the book is written by Professor Susan O’Donnell and journalist David G. Koch. The authors work with the NB Media Co-op and are experienced labour reporters. The book features an introduction by labour historian David Frank and a conclusion by CUPE New Brunswick president Steve Drost and Maritimes regional director Sandy Harding.

Co-published by CUPE and the NB Media Co-op, the print edition of Bargaining Forward is available for purchase in CUPE’s online store. Learn how these workers organized to win – get your copy today! 

Contact webmaster@cupe.ca to pay by means other than cheque or direct remittance.

Book Launch – Bargaining Forward: The story of the 2021 CUPE Strike

This Wednesday, the Canadian Union of Public Employees, along with the NB Media Co-op, are launching a new book titled Bargaining Forward: The story of the 2021 CUPE Strike in New Brunswick.  The book written by Professor Susan O’Donnell and journalist David G. Koch, tells the story of how front-line workers stood together and won against a hostile government.

Click on the image for the LIVESTREAM

Speakers will include Mark Hancock, CUPE’s National President, along with Candace Rennick, CUPE’s National Secretary-Treasurer. This will be followed by a presentation from both authors, then a few words from labour historian David Frank; Stephen Drost, president of CUPE NB, and Sandy Harding, regional director for CUPE.

The launch is open to all. It will take place on Wednesday, January 25, at 5:30 pm, at the Delta Beauséjour on 750 Main St, Moncton, NB. As the books are currently coming off the presses, you will be able to place orders for the book onsite.

If you cannot attend in person, you can watch the event via the ZOOM LIVESTREAM here: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/89440544215?pwd=S2ZMcHUvSFBibXFWVk9iMmRSNFRWZz09&fbclid=IwAR2_UazpUjelYK4fwBaJJBPuhiP8WoSLzwErx2luhcMpulmnIiwGiQRmq9A

January 2023 Events

at the Delta Beauséjour Hotel, Moncton


All Presidents’ Meeting for NB Locals

CUPE NB invites all Presidents of NB Locals to a meeting to discuss concerns and issues affecting all locals in the province. There is no cost for this meeting, but we are asking that you register if you are attending.

January 26th – 11am to 1pm @ the Delta Beauséjour Hotel in Moncton

Registration Link


Leadership Re-Boot Conference for NB & PEI

  • CUPE NB invites all members, locals, and executives of Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick to a conference to discuss how we lead in 2023 and move into the future!

We encourage all executives to attend and to consider bringing young workers to this event for long-term succession planning for the labor movement and locals.

*There is limited registration for this event and a registration fee of $100

* Registration Deadline is January 20th, 2023

January 26th 2PM to 5:30 PM @ Delta Beausejour in Moncton

January 27TH 9AM to 4PM @ Delta Beausejour in Moncton

Registration Link


CUPE Maritimes Weeklong SchoolGetting back to Basics for NB & PEI

  • CUPE Maritimes is excited to announce a weeklong school for all members in NB and PEI in person! We are happy to provide a new process where you get to select the workshops that you want to attend, so please make sure to follow the instructions!

Twice daily breaks will be provided.

*Note – the Financial Officer Workshop will be the only course that will last 5 days.

This weeklong is meant to be flexible to accommodate all members, so you can join us for the 5 days, or sign up for individual sessions that are listed below.

*There is limited registration for this event and a registration fee of 100$ per session or 300$ for the week.

* Registration Deadline is January 20th, 2023.

 Registration Link


Special Info:

We have a special rate negotiated with the Delta Beausejour for $169 a night, this rate expires on: Saturday, December 24, 2022!

Click here to reserve online: Book your group rate for CUPE Conference


We want to ensure that our event is as safe as possible, and we will be following CUPE’s COVID protocols.

Here are the key protocols for all of the above events:

  • Masks are mandatory during the events, even when sitting down in the meeting room.
  • If you are not vaccinated, you are required to test daily and ensure that you test negative before joining the meeting.
  • Check your symptoms daily if you have any COVID symptoms do not attend the meeting.



Session #1


January 28th 9AM to January 29th 12PM

Session #2


January 29th 1PM to January 30th 4PM

Session #3


January 31st 9AM to February 1st 12PM

Financial Officer (weeklong)


Financial Officer (weeklong) Financial Officer (weeklong)
Intro to Stewarding Steward learning series: Grievance Handling, discipline and discharge, members in front of management


Transforming Conflict
Let- Leadership Essentials Let – strategic planning – 6 & conflict skills LET (bylaws, DFR, mobilizing)


Sexual and Domestic Violence at work Public Speaking Mental health and accommodation-friendly workplaces


Women’s Rights and Leadership Harassment and bullying at work LET – Parliamentary Procedure
Bargaining – analyzing your CA and surveying membership Anti–oppression / racism training Steward Learning Series: Conflict Skills, Ally Skills, and DFR.
Intro to stewarding (French) Representing Members (French) LET (French)


Rally to Repeal Bill 23

The anti-worker bill known as “Bill 23” was rammed through Friday, December 16, 2022. Let’s mobilize to urge MLAs to repeal this bad law, or assume the consequences that will follow in not doing so.

Without consultation from any unions, PC MLA and Labour Minister Trevor Holder significantly amended the NB Public Labour Relations Act (PSLRA) through Bill 23. The PSLRA concerns the rules on all unionized worker-employer relations in the provincial public sector. It covers rules around lockouts, strikes, designations, picketing, arbitration, negotiations and much more. Instead of improving labour relations, Bill 23 tilts the balance in the government’s favour.

  • Before locking out its own workers, the government must only give a 24-hour notice to the affected employees, but workers’ unions must give a 72-hour notice before commencing strike action.
  • The Act will allow changes to designation levels (how many workers can and cannot go on strike) to be made later in the bargaining process, even after a deadlock in bargaining has been declared.
  • The Act will also allow the replacement of designated workers who are absent and allow the employer to fill vacant and unfilled positions with anyone, including private for-profit contractors.
  • The Act will allow the government to significantly change the work schedules of essential workers during a strike or lockout
  • the Act will force arbitrators to consider restrictive criteria during the binding arbitration process to reduce wage adjustments, such as comparison with the private sector, other provinces and the province’s “ability to pay”.

These changes create instability and legalize scabbing. This will generate unnecessary friction during conflicts.

Instead of focusing on fully staffing our public services in times of labour peace, Holder and PC MLAs are only caring about staffing if and when it gives more strength to their lockouts. This bill must be overturned.

PC approval at an all time low

Read the poll results here: https://angusreid.org/premiers-performance-dec-2022/

Ignoring the basic needs of residents while sitting on huge budget surpluses is shameful. It is not a surprise that Angus Reid, a Canadian polling firm, revealed that less than 28% of New Brunswickers are satisfied with Blaine Higgs and his team.

Enough with the inaction on staff shortages. Enough with the delays and closures of emergency rooms. Enough of the disrespect for workers. Enough with the pro-scab laws. Enough with pushing people into poverty. New Brunswickers are ready to show this Premier the door.