Thursday, June 18, 2020

Premier misses the mark again on CERB comments

With about three million Canadians still out of work during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government recently announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will continue for another eight weeks.
The CERB provides those who lost their employment due to the pandemic with $2,000 per month.
In New Brunswick, Premier Blaine Higgs is not happy with the federal announcement. Our Premier wants it to be more difficult for New Brunswickers to qualify for the CERB.
His reason? It’s the same one he keeps peddling which is essentially that NBers would rather stay home and collect a cheque than go to work. It’s a simplistic narrative, but one that doesn’t consider people’s circumstances. What it does is place all of the burden and blame on workers while absolving government, industry and businesses from any responsibility.
We’ve addressed the Premier’s thoughts on this subject a couple of times and how his statements contain no context and are problematic. Click here and here to view the articles.
This time around, let’s focus on the hypocritical nature of the comments from the provincial government perspective and then look at industry.
The Premier has criticized the CERB on numerous occasions, but it’s hard to take him serious. The Higgs government ranks at the bottom end in terms of help its provided citizens during the pandemic. So for the Premier to turn around and criticize Ottawa for doing what his government didn’t want to do or was unable is hypocritical and disingenuous at best.
While the Premier laments the CERB extension, he neglects to mention that minimum wage in our province works out to about $1 less per hour than CERB.
Perhaps it’s time the Premier legislates a better minimum wage. The benefits of doing so are covered in this post which would be helpful for our economic recovery.
As for industry and businesses, they’ve come out against most suggestions that would be beneficial for workers.
Recently, the Moncton, Fredericton and Saint John chambers of commerce voiced opposition against 10-paid days of sick leave for employees. In the past these organizations have opposed minimum wage increases and the addition of Family Day as a paid holiday in the province.
Putting the economic woes on workers is an old trick used by many over the years. It’s a smart move to pit people against each other rather than have them look at the policies and lobbying that have contributed to the province’s poor economic growth.
The same ideas keep getting used over and over again in New Brunswick with the same people benefitting. It’s not the average NB worker getting rich in this province, but those in power want you to believe its workers who are the problem.