I sympathize with the writer of recent letter to the editor of the Times & Trash-script entitled N.B.’s poor need help. The gentleman laid out a well articulated case for increasing social assistance to New Brunswick’s poor. The cost of living has gone up substantially since 1997 but the assistance paid to the poor has not.
Now, the government knows that we have the third highest rate of people on social assitance of any state or province in North America. It also knows we have tens of thousands on seasonal EI – a variation on the welfare theme (income paid by governments to individuals that they did not earn). I suspect there is some in the Tory camp that feel making social assistance too ‘lucrative’ would only encourage more usage.
The real issue here comes back to the economy. I know that I drag that out as the cause of all our ills – but that is the purpose of this blog afterall :-).
Seriously, the strongest economies in North America have the lowest rates of welfare – it’s that simple. Also, with some notable exceptions such as Alberta, the stronger economies tend to have the best social assistance programs (even in the U.S).
This chronically underperforming economy directly leads to systemic welfare and EI dependance as we now see in New Brunswick.
I, for one, would ask Premier Lord to not give us a $20 tax break and up the social assistance rates. If he is not going to do anything to fix our economic problems, he may as well use Ontario and Alberta tax dollars to prop up the programs that more and more will be needing.