NB ACORN Chair Nichola Taylor Says Tenants Have very Little to Celebrate on New Brunswick Day
Posted August 2, 2023
New Brunswick Day is celebrated on the first Monday of August every year. It is a celebration of the history, culture, and achievements of the province.. Many people look forward to the activities that are planned for this day so they can mix and mingle with their friends.
While it is a great chance to plan activities or meet-ups over this holiday weekend, we should ask ourselves what exactly do tenants, those on low-moderate incomes in particular, have to celebrate?
We are currently living in the worst cost of living crisis many of us have known in our lifetime. Many people are struggling to put food on their tables. People are cutting costs wherever they can in order to survive. It was recently reported that one third of people in the Atlantic region that were asked, would not be able to cover $500 of an unexpected expense. This is a global crisis, we get that, but people in our province are struggling more than they have ever been.
Rents are skyrocketing, landlords are not sympathetic and on top of that the Provincial Government seems to ignore the voice of tenants on an issue that affects them the most. Recently, the Government’s housing strategy was announced with very little to help New Brunswick tenants. The biggest factor that would help tenants out is a rent cap, preferably one that is tied to the unit. But yet again, tenants’ voices have gone unheard. The Government has ignored the key element that would help relieve the situation many tenants are now facing. A rent cap is the only way to make housing affordable and it is the only way to preserve the existing stock of affordable housing, albeit a dwindling stock! Jill Green states that she has “heard all of the different voices”; what she really means is she has listened to the developers with the big cash, and the landlords with the big cash because God forbid she actually listens to the voices of those who are actually affected by this worsening crisis on a day-to-day basis. The vast majority of provinces in Canada have implemented a rent cap to help tenants during this global cost of living crisis, yet the New Brunswick Government flat-out refuses to listen to tenants.
Even if you look at the little snippets of “help” that has been announced for tenants, such as the rent banks, there is confusion surrounding whether they will be interest-free loans or low-interest loans. The Housing Minister stated they would be low-interest loans in a recent interview, whereas the RTT claim they will be interest-free loans. It is ridiculous that they cannot even convey the correct information to tenants about something that is supposed to help those who are really struggling to pay rent. It is almost as if the tenant doesn’t matter. If it is not clear yet, whether those loans will be interest-free or low-interest, then details should not be released until it is made clear. And if the loans are low-interest loans, then way to go! Let’s make people, who are already struggling financially, struggle more with debts! The message is loud and clear from those in power, let’s stamp on the working class until all they care about is where their next meal is coming from, rather than fight for their rights.
We certainly don’t wish to put a dampener on New Brunswick day for people in our beautiful province. On the contrary, it may be a day for many people to forget about the issues they face with the deepening housing crisis, the deepening health care crisis, low minimum wage, and the lowest social assistance rates in Canada. The PC’s certainly wish we would forget about them. However, we can’t stand there and celebrate the so-called achievements of this province either because what are they? Ask a working person what achievements should we be celebrating on this day and I am sure they are going to struggle to find one.
So sure, go ahead and have fun, join in with the activities of this day with your family and friends, forget all the worries for one day, but we shouldn’t pretend we have things worth celebrating in New Brunswick, because for thousands of low-moderate income tenants, there is absolutely nothing to celebrate.
— New Brunswick ACORN Chair Nichola Taylor