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Police association calls for more provincial help to aid financially-strained Saint John

Head of Saint John Police Association calling on province’s support
The head of the Saint John Police Association is calling on the province to support the city as it works to get its financial house in order. Tim Roszell has more.

The president of the Saint John Police Association is calling on the New Brunswick government to support the city as it works to get its financial house in order.

But at the same time, Duane Squires continues to criticize the plans made by the City of Saint John.

In an open letter to Saint John-area MLAs, common councillors, the mayor and the media, Squires slammed the city’s move to cut $1.175 million from the budget of the Saint John Police Force.

READ MORE: Saint John cancels 2020 Canada Day celebrations to combat spread of COVID-19

He also echoed pleas from municipal leaders for more support from Premier Blaine Higgs and his provincial government.

“It seems like the federal government is a little more lenient with handing assistance to the provinces, but the provinces aren’t so lenient with handing that assistance or passing that on to the cities,” Squires told Global News.

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“Saint John, for one, is struggling.”

Saint John has been assisted through a unique, $22.8 million funding agreement with the province.

That deal is set to expire in December.

New Brunswick municipalities say they need assistance during coronavirus pandemic
New Brunswick municipalities say they need assistance during coronavirus pandemic

Jeff Carr, New Brunswick’s minister of local government, wrote in a letter that the city has not done enough to fix its finances, and it won’t get any more help until it does.

While the province remains committed to the city, Carr wrote, the government’s decision “encourages the City of Saint John to take the required steps to demonstrate that it is prepared to address the foundational constraints that are holding it back from building a financially sustainable future.”

Squires said Saint John is an “economic engine” in New Brunswick.

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In his letter, he criticized four Saint John-area MLAs – Dorothy Shephard, Trevor Holder, Glen Savoie and Andrea Anderson-Mason for not doing enough to advocate for their own community at the provincial level.

READ MORE: Unions stand behind Saint John tax reform pamphlet

He said the MLAs – all of which are cabinet ministers – have been too quiet on issues like Saint John’s finances and tax reform.

“I don’t think they’re seeing what’s happening in our city,” he said. “With these cuts that are taking place, or are going to take place in the future, there are going to be dramatic effects for all our citizens and they need to feel the pressure.”

Saint John Mayor Don Darling said he appreciates the association’s support on this issue but admits there could be more acrimony ahead.

“We’re at a spot here now where we have to act,” Darling said. “We have to deal with the cards that we have in our hands. The police union has been aligned with us on some of the transformational reforms, as have other employees and other groups around the city.

“We need that more than ever.”

Global News reached out to the four MLAs named in Squires’ letter. Only Holder’s office responded. No comments were offered by the time of publication.

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