In the early days of Covid-19, we quickly learned who our “essential” workers were. They were the
men and women working the grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, and warehouses. They
were the truck drivers, sacrificing so much, including time with their families due to isolation rules,
to ensure your goods got through. They were the doctors, nurses, healthcare support workers, and
PSWs putting themselves front and center while many of us worked from home and stayed away
from risk. They were the daycare workers and teachers quickly adapting to a new reality, making
fast-paced adjustments, and doing less with more.
In short, they were primarily your care services personnel and frontline workers, often among the
lowest paid in the province, earning between $13.00 – $20.00. And they were, for the most part,
the ones left out of today’s budget – again.
By failing to offer tax relief to help with the drastically increased cost of living and by failing to
provide a plan for affordable and secure housing, the government again showed the little value
placed on all that these people do to keep our economy running and our needs met.
There are no non-profit housing programs or government subsidies for our over-extended essential
workers who are being priced out of secure housing. These are not only people who may now
never be able to own a home but who live under the constant, daily stress of being hit with sudden
and unaffordable rent increases, renovictions, and lack of adequate housing for their family needs.
There are only so many options besides food banks for keeping food on the table.
Heat and lights are becoming luxuries, to be sacrificed for food.
Furthermore, the impact on self-worth and physical and mental health is being noticed. When life
becomes nothing but survival, when there’s nothing left to provide quality and a feeling of value to
life, already, we are seeing the growing drug, mental health, and homelessness crisis in NB.
These low-income but essential workers are always the ones to suffer the most. They don’t get the
tax breaks of being truly poor or of being rich – in fact, their tax dollars do the most to fund
government spending – isn’t it time they got something out of it?
We expected better from this budget, and this government.