So, to Finance Minister Steeves and Premier Higgs, the NBU/NUPGE is willing to work with you, but that requires meaningful dialogue and a willingness to compromise not just on the union's part, but on the government's as well. — New Brunswick Union
Fredericton (20 March 2019) — While the current government has stated it wants to be transparent and provide more details to the public, the budget announcement was lacking in those areas, says the New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE).
No clear plan from government to achieve its goals
While some details were given, a lot of time was spent talking about balancing the budget and the modest surplus the government projects to achieve. What isn’t clear is how government will get there.
We know cuts will have to be made in order to achieve what Finance Minister Ernie Steeves and Premier Blaine Higgs want, but what cuts are coming, how deep they will go, and the impact they will have on services and workers were not forthcoming.
What is known is that services have already been cut to the bone and the workload is at a dangerously high level for New Brunswickers working in both the public and private sectors.
Government engaging in wasteful spending instead of investing in public services
During his speech, Minister Steeves specifically addressed unions stating, “Mr. Speaker, to the unions who will be entering a new round of collective bargaining, our government wants to work with them. We recognize the rising cost of living in determining a fair and deserving level of compensation. We want to work with them to identify solutions to improve services, to adopt different ways of working, and to find efficiencies to help pay for well-deserved wage gains.”
In this case, actions speak louder than words. The province has gone to the courts several times in the past week to try to curtail the rights of nursing home workers who are looking to improve the level of care in nursing homes as well asto receive better compensation.
As for “identifying solutions to improve services,” the NBU/NUPGE has told this government and previous ones that workers have ideas for efficiencies and different ways to do things. Unfortunately, successive governments are more eager to turn to expensive consultants to compile reports than to speak with those working on the frontlines.
The NBU/NUPGE also recommends practising what you preach. To start, this government could be fiscally responsible in not taking what appear to be partisan political trips on the taxpayer’s tab, such as Premier Higgs's trip to Western Canada for a rally in which he endorsed the leader of the federal opposition for Prime Minister.
Another issue is the court challenge to the carbon tax. Instead of the province paying legal fees to do this, why not let the proceedings in Ontario and Saskatchewan play out. The outcomes of those cases would likely have the same effect on New Brunswick with none of the costs.
NBU/NUPGE remains open to working with government to find positive solutions
So, to Finance Minister Steeves and Premier Higgs, the NBU/NUPGE is willing to work with you, but that requires meaningful dialogue and a willingness to compromise not just on the union's part, but on the government's as well.
The National Union of Public and General Employees (NUPGE) is one of Canada's largest labour organizations with over 390,000 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