Wednesday, March 17, 2021

NBU reaction to provincial budget

Details are important, especially when it comes to the provincial budget.
Today’s budget is no exception. We hope the $11.1 million for physician recruitment will bring in more doctors to the province, but with no details, it’s hard to be overly optimistic as the province has seen a drain of professionals leaving for many years.
The same goes for mental health spending. Again, we wanted to see more funds allocated, but this budget has the same percentage of spending on mental health as last year. How it’s being spent is also an issue, drilling down, $350,000 does not seem like nearly enough to, “address critical shortages in the mental health services sector, particularly in the public sector, including shortages of psychologists in schools, within community mental health teams, and in hospitals,” as the press release states.
“We desperately need more school psychologists because the need is great and early intervention makes a big difference,” said NBU President Susie Proulx-Daigle. “We need a big investment in this area, more so than $350,000 because if we don’t it’s the children of our province who are negatively affected.”
A report from the NB College of Psychologists stated learning disabilities need to be diagnosed as quickly as possible to ensure each child can meet their full potential. Wait times for an assessment in the province have been as high as three years.
“That same report stated children with undiagnosed learning disabilities are at an increased risk for many issues including drop-out, illiteracy, unemployment, addiction, criminal justice involvement and development of mental health issues,” said Proulx-Daigle. “Not enough is being done to fix this problem and that continues with this budget.”
One of the largest singular investments mentioned in the budget was $20 million to a private sector company for the development of small modular nuclear reactors. The NBU thinks this money would have been better spent on strengthening public services which were proven to be invaluable during the pandemic.
“For too long we have been giving out corporate welfare which has not had the desired effect on our economy,” said Proulx-Daigle. “We need a shift in perspective where we invest more in public services which benefit all New Brunswickers rather than a select few.”