'Our collective challenge today is to develop a sense of co-operation amid very significant challenges.'
Fredericton (19 Jan. 2011) - The New Brunswick Union of Public and General Employees (NBUPPE/NUPGE) is calling on the province's new Conservative government to seriously consider methods other than cuts to deal with its budget crisis.
The province recently announced cuts totalling nearly $43 million to help it deal with a deficit that the Conservatives estimated during the last election campaign could top $800 million this year.
In a letter to Finance Minister Blaine Higgs, the union urges the government to look at all the alternatives and try to build a new style of economy that is fair and works for everyone.
"We are all in this together," union president Susie Proulx-Daigle and union executive director Tom Mann write in the letter.
"We no longer have the luxury in our province to disqualify the opinions of others because they may have a different background. Our individual and collective security can be best realized when we all work together. A common sense approach that leads us to pool our risks and share our common wealth for the common good of all is required," the letter says. (The full text of the letter is available at the link below.)
"Our collective challenge today is to develop a sense of co-operation amid very significant challenges."
The letter outlines a series of alternative ways to generate revenue, including Trans Canada Highway tolls, government bonds backed by pension funds, revenue-generating wind energy projects, a fairer system of provincial taxation and an end to the rehiring on contract of public employees who retire.
The union also urges the government to make better use of the money it is now spending on health care by setting up community health centres and by adopting a public auto insurance program.
"The current financial crisis is actually an opportunity to do the things we would otherwise avoid," the union argues. "It is a significant opportunity to grow in new directions as a way to meet the new challenges."
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 340,000 members. Our mission is to improve the lives of working families and to build a stronger Canada by ensuring our common wealth is used for the common good. NUPGE
• Full text of NBUPPE letter to Finance Minister Blaine Higgs - pdf