Politicians in New Brunswick made promises regarding labour and health care on Monday, with three weeks to go before the province heads to the polls.
Liberal Leader Brian Gallant says that if re-elected, his party will modernize New Brunswick’s labour laws by partnering with the Government-Labour Steering Committee and other stakeholders to update multiple labour acts, including the Employment Standards Act and the Occupational Health and Safety Act.
“Ensuring that workers in New Brunswick are well supported and protected will help us continue to grow the economy in a way that ensures fairness for everyone,” said Gallant in a news release.
He also recently pledged to increase the province’s minimum wage from the current $11.25 to $14 an hour by 2022.
Over its previous mandate, the government said it began providing paid leave and job protection for victims of domestic, partner and sexual violence, added workplace harassment and violence protections to the Occupational Health and Safety act, and supported enhancements to the Canadian Pension Plan.
The Tories, meanwhile, spent the long weekend campaigning on the issue of health care, promising on Monday afternoon that their government would reduce wait times by 50 per cent for hip replacements, knee replacements and gynecological surgeries.
Party leader Blaine Higgs said the Progressive Conservatives would achieve this by recruiting more doctors, training more nurses and using technology to match patients with the right care.
The party said it will invest $23.9 million over the next four years, which would cover the hiring of 10 specialists, eight family doctors and six physician assistants.
“New Brunswickers deserve world class health care,” Higgs said in a release. “Delaying access to needed care through government mismanagement adds cost — but more importantly, it adds unnecessary suffering.”
The two parties had previously sparred over health-care costs, particularly senior care, at the end of August, when the Liberal government pledged to build three new nursing homes and add 86 memory-care beds if re-elected, as part of a five-year program to add 1,000 beds and make more than $100 million in renovations to existing nursing homes throughout the province.
At the time, Higgs took a less bricks-and-mortar approach to senior care, saying that a Progressive Conservative government would consult with seniors about how they want to live and provide supports so they can remain in their own homes longer.
On Friday, Green Party Leader David Coon released their plan to address poverty in the province, saying he would like to see “inadequate” social assistance rates replaced by a basic income guarantee.
The party seeks to raise minimum wage to $15.25 per hour over the next four years and pilot a basic income guarantee in three regions for three years, with the objective of phasing it in over time.
“New Brunswick will thrive if everyone has the means to fully participate in the economic, social and political life of their cities, towns and rural communities,” said Coon in a release.
Coon has plans to launch his party’s economic development plank Tuesday morning.
The New Democratic Party focused on the economy as well over the long weekend, with leader Jennifer McKenzie canvassing for pay equity and a $15 minimum wage.
The party also released its plan for carbon reduction on Friday, which entails introducing a carbon reduction fund to help the province transition to green energy.
McKenzie said the fund would be used to support low and middle-income people in the form of rebates, as well as to invest in green energy, infrastructure, and innovation.