Concerns about privatization and cuts to public services follow budget.
Fredericton (02 April 2015) — The New Brunswick government's budget contained a mix of encouraging updates and potential issues says the New Brunswick Union (NBU/NUPGE).
NBU/NUPGE applauds government's move to increase provincial revenue
Finance Minister Roger Melanson spoke about the government's need to increase revenues in order to restore balance to the province's financial situation. The NBU/NUPGE encourages government to focus on this path as its the union's view that revenue generation should be the top priority before any further cuts to programs and services are considered.
In that respect, the union applauds the creation of two new tax brackets that will see the wealthiest New Brunswickers contributing more. The tax rate increases are estimated to bring in an additional $30 million.
Government recognizes important work of public servants but suggests cuts are on the way
The minister also made it a point to commend public servants for their hard work and dedication.
"They are committed to providing residents of our wonderful province with the services and programs they need, and each and every public servant is working hard to reduce costs and improve the quality and sustainability of programs and services," Melanson said in his speech.
Following that statement, the minister said government would be looking to reduce the cost of public sector wages primarily through retirement and attrition. The NBU/NUPGE takes issue with this statement on several levels:
- Efforts to increase revenues should be exhausted before looking at cuts.
- There's no clear target or goal mentioned. Not delivering a clear message can cause confusion and anxiety among employees, something any employer should work to avoid.
In response to the statement, "Staffing levels, however, will consider service delivery to the public; will reflect the service levels that the public has come to expect; and will be adjusted further as recommendations from the Strategic Program Review are implemented," the NBU/NUPGE welcomes a more in-depth review of service delivery as it will show the need to maintain, at minimum, current staffing levels in order to provide New Brunswickers with the excellent service they've come to expect.
Concern about potential for privatization of Crown corporations and government infrastructure
Another issue the NBU is watching closely is privatization when it comes to Crown corporations and other government infrastructure. The minister referred to it as monetization of assets, but no matter what it's called, the NBU/NUPGE is against privatization in any form.
Not only does it typically result in job losses and reduced wages, but the level of service suffers, resulting in a losing situation for all New Brunswickers.
Get back to the bargaining table
With the budget in place, the NBU wants government back at the bargaining table. The union and its members have been waiting since the election to resume meaningful talks. The wait has been long enough; it's time to get back to bargaining.
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