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Fredericton – Canada’s largest union is calling this year’s provincial budget more Robin Hood-in-reverse economics for the New Brunswick Tories and their corporate friends.

“Finance Minister Peter Mesheau is boasting record investments in social programs without accounting for inflation or previous funding cuts,” says Canadian Union of Public Employees Regional Director Bob Davidson, “so this budget is all smoke and mirrors.”

“Public health care is the clearest reflection of Canadian values, but a 2.9 per cent increase in health care spending from last year doesn’t even cover inflation. As elected representatives they just don’t get it.”

“There’s also no increased funding for nursing homes if we subtract inflation and previous cuts,” says Davidson, “so their $65 million tax cut to corporations should be spent on services. Zero funding for social services shows zero knowledge of what’s important to the people of New Brunswick.”

The budget also falls short on funding for municipalities. Due to the freeze on unconditional grants, municipalities receive $30 million less than 10 years ago. “We have cities like Saint John and Edmundston threatening to lay off municipal police officers due to insufficient funds from provincial government and corporate tax rollbacks. In contrast, the provincial government is going to subsidize the RCMP to the tune of $1 million for 15 new officers,“ says Davidson, “let’s just call that the wrong answer to the right question of how to best service our communities.”

“Allowing $122 million in the last 4 years to be pulled out of the public purse by reducing corporate income tax is short sighted and has been the main contributor in reducing vital services to the taxpayers of New Brunswick,” says Davidson. “An unprecedented tax break to corporations is not in the best interest of citizens in need of health care, education, nursing homes, municipal, police, fire and ambulance services. It’s no different than when they rolled back heavy industrial taxes to their year 2000 levels leaving the rest of us to pick up the slack.”

“What’s worse is that while they decrease corporate taxes by $65 million this year the average worker who has to drive to work to earn a living will now pay 11.5 per cent more in gas tax. Hardly fair, the billionaire who refines gas pays less tax while those who consume pay more.”

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For more information:

Richard McGrath, CUPE Communications, 613-237-1590 ext. 267
Bob Davidson, Maritimes Regional Director,CUPE, 506-645-1185 (cell)