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Cost of living assistance unaddressed by N.B. government in budget, opposition says

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick opposition calls on government to address rising costs'
New Brunswick opposition calls on government to address rising costs
WATCH: As inflation hits record highs, the New Brunswick Liberal Party is calling on the government to do more to help rising costs. The province released their budget on Tuesday and opposition parties say it doesn't have enough in it to help people. Interim leader Roger Melanson hounded the government with questions about why more isn't being done. Nathalie Sturgeon has that story. – Mar 25, 2022

The official opposition in N.B. says the government isn’t doing enough to help people make ends meet.

The budget, which was introduced on Tuesday, carves out some help in the way of social assistance reform and a break on the amount of taxable income.

But Interim Liberal leader Roger Melanson said the budget felt short of really helping New Brunswickers.

“There is a lot of working people in New Brunswick, single parents, working at minimum wage … they are struggling right now,” he said speaking to reporters.

Inflation has hit a high of 5.7 per cent in February, according to Statistic Canada, placing extra strain on the average household.

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“Costs are going up, government is not helping out,” he said. “The help is needed now.”

Melanson spoke about the more than 20,000 children who are accessing food banks in the province as well as the housing crisis, which the province said it’s working on, imposing a rent cap.

The province did move to make tax cuts.

The province’s basic personal amount will be increased from $10,817 to $11,720 and the low-income tax reduction threshold from $18,268 to $19,177 effective for the 2022 taxation year.

“This will provide an estimated $40 million in personal income tax relief to over 400,000 taxpayers for 2022 and ensure single tax filers with incomes up to $19,177 pay no provincial income tax for 2022,” Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said previously.

Spending on affordable housing is expected to increase by $6.3 million.

It also boosted social assistance rates among other reforms announced prior to the budget.

Premier Blaine Higgs defended what the government has been doing to make the cost of living more manageable, adding there is more work to be done.

“I think combined with what we put forth in a budget, what we’ve put forward for direct social assistance improvements, and we are reflecting it,and there likely will need to be more done and I’ve asked the department working along with the municipalities on, you know, where do we see the impact be it housing or direct social assistance,” he said speaking to reporters Friday.

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