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Family Focused Before & After School Care

Many New Brunswick families struggle finding before and after school programs that are affordable, convenient, widely accessible and in their community. When childcare costs are high or lacking flexible hours, parents feel the burden. They sometimes need to leave their jobs to accommodate, put children in care in another language, and make difficult decisions to pay the high costs at the expense of something else their family may need.

The NDP would introduce a Family Focused Before & After School Care plan, to keep children in their communities with care right at their schools from 6am to 6pm, with childcare spaces available to everyone, at a cost that families can work with. Our childcare plan for children aged 5 to 12 years old is to implement a before and after school care in every public school in New Brunswick, wherever parental demand exists.

Once elected, the New Brunswick NDP will begin the roll out of a universal before and after school care program run by school districts to be implemented in all schools across New Brunswick wherever parental demand exists.

 Family Focused Before and After School Care plan details :

  • Childcare placed in school classrooms before the school day begins and after the school day ends, from 6 am to 6 pm, with flexible hours for workers.
  • Children will have access to all school resources such as gymnasium, library, classes, playground, etc. A play-based program will include recreational activities, nutritious snacks, homework help, music and other programs where local resources are available and appropriate.
  •   All childcare workers will be qualified Early Childhood Educators (ECE), school board employees or other workers with equivalent qualifications with all applicable pensions, benefits and sick days.
  • The language of operation will be that of the school, with bilingual exposure being a key emphasis. Childcare centres with First Nations children, and indeed all centres, will include First Nations’ languages and cultural activities in consultation with local elders.
  • Childcare will be open to everyone and there will be no waiting lists. The cost to parents will be $15 for before and after care, and $10 for just one. Existing subsidies will follow the child to the school-based program
  •  An expected 11,000 new childcare spaces will be created to meet the current demand for addition care.

“While I was Chair of the Ottawa School Board, I saw first hand how school-based community-centred childcare benefits families. Parents can drop off their children in the morning without worrying about them having to move offsite for childcare and it immediately reduces family stress when they can leave their kids in a familiar environment with familiar friends and where they are already comfortable with the staff.” – Jennifer McKenzie, leader of the NB NDP

The NDP’s Plan to address youth outmigration

Over the last few months, I have been talking to New Brunswickers across the province about the issues that are most important to them. The concerns raised most often are that our children and grandchildren are leaving to find work and the hole that is left behind in our family, our community, our economy and our hearts.

What can we do to stop this trend?  First we can raise the minimum wage.

By keeping our minimum wage low relative to other jurisdictions, we are simply encouraging youth to leave for higher wages elsewhere.  New Brunswick already has the oldest and fastest aging population in the country, and with skyrocketing healthcare costs and a shrinking workforce, this is not a recipe for success.

The New Democratic Party will raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour over our first term, following in the footsteps of other provinces like Ontario and Alberta, British Columbia and Quebec.  This move, when combined with a package of labour reforms, will help curtail youth out-migration and remove the enormous stress of daily life for many working New Brunswickers who are not able to make ends meet.

Along with other long overdue labour reforms, an NDP government would conduct a comprehensive review of employment standards in the province, making necessary changes to labour laws to protect workers from precarious employment where their hours are kept low to avoid paying benefits.  Casual and part time work itself adds enough stress to workers’ lives without the added burden of not having prescription or dental coverage or a pension plan.

New Brunswick is unique amongst all the provinces in that it has the highest proportion of workers making below $15 per hour – over 36% of all workers make less than a living wage.  If you live in a typical New Brunswick neighbourhood, chances are that one of  your neighbours is struggling to pay their bills at the end of the month.

As I and my team knock on doors, we encounter many people who are working their fingers to the bone, holding two or three jobs, working crazy shifts, and still can’t meet their basic financial obligations –  let alone save for their future.   Even if they are not in dire circumstances themselves, many have family members or friends who are experiencing significant financial stress and they understand the need to raise the minimum wage.

Working women are disproportionately represented in low paying precarious work – typically 50% more women than men.  Low wages are bad for the economy too. Low incomes depress economic activity and lower purchasing power and tax revenues.

The Liberal government says that they have raised the minimum wage three times.  But a nickel here and a quarter there doesn’t move an individual’s financial circumstances ahead, let alone feed a family.  They have said that youth, seniors, and women returning to work don’t need a living wage.  But why not?  Who does that leave left behind who does deserve one?

Our plan takes concrete action to fight growing income inequality and provides the leadership to increase standards for all workers. We cannot prosper and thrive in New Brunswick unless each and every one of our workers can live on their wages. Other provinces are now moving to recognise the harm to all of society when we have too much income inequality. It’s time we did too.

Without the youth and their enthusiastic participation in the economy, we are only continuing the downward spiral.  The NDP is the only party with a plan to break that spiral.  Isn’t it time to try the NDP approach?

 

Jennifer McKenzie,

Leader, NB-NDP

Investing in our Future Benefits Us All

Investing in our Future Benefits Us All

Column submitted to The Daily Gleaner

By Nate Wallace, Policy Director for the Young New Democrats of Canada

On Behalf of the New Brunswick New Democratic Party

 

In 2019, tuition fees at UNB Fredericton are set to skyrocket. Depending on the faculty, students might see flat rate increases by well over $1000. Premier Brian Gallant has agreed to ‘reset’ tuition fees at UNB in 2019 in the new memorandum of understanding with universities. UNB Fredericton’s VP Academic recently gave a presentation to the university Senate where over 100 students, including myself, staged a sit-in to protest. He said that this ‘reset’ will put tuition fees where they would be if there hadn’t been tuition increase caps and funding freezes put in place by the provincial government over the last two decades.

A lot has happened in the last two decades. In 1997, the Federal Corporate tax rate was 31%. In now stands at less than half that, at 15%. This led to big cutbacks in terms of transfers to the provinces, and a decline in public financing of universities and we’ve seen the drastic rise of tuition fees as a result. What this means is that we’ve seen the incremental shifting of costs once borne by the government, paid for by corporations, onto individuals. Instead of progressive taxation, we have flat and regressive user fees. Students of my generation are effectively being made to pay for years of corporate tax cuts through crippling student debt.

New Brunswick undergraduate students such as myself carry the highest average student debt in the country, at $35,200, which is 50% higher than the Canadian average of $22,300. We also pay the highest interest rates on that debt in the country. According to the Canadian Federation of Students, undergraduate tuition fees in New Brunswick have increased by approximately 20% since 2010. While the recent introduction of the Tuition Access Bursary (TAB) program & Tuition Relief for the Middle Class (TRMC) initiative does mean an increase in up-front grant assistance available for undergraduate students, the provincial government now spends $20 million less per year on student financial assistance than it did prior to the introduction of these programs. This financial assistance also does not apply to Graduate students, which we struggle to keep in the province.

Over my short lifetime of 21 years, there has been a slow transition of the University away from a public good that is financially accessible to the majority of Canadians, into elite institutions where rising tuition fees lock out the underprivileged from getting a higher education. Increasingly more complex regulation and financial assistance models as well as decreasing public funding requires revenue diversification, which has led to significant ‘administrative bloat’ at universities due to the overhead costs these bring. Rising fees lead to a decline in student enrolment, and universities now compete for an ever-smaller market as students begin to turn away from the prohibitive costs of a post-secondary education.

This leads to drastic consequences for all of us. There is a growing gap in the wage-earning potential between someone with a high school diploma and someone with a post-secondary education. New Brunswick already has the lowest household incomes in Canada. Rising tuition fees are effectively becoming a ‘tax on opportunity’ for New Brunswick families like yours and mine. They make our universities less competitive at attracting, training and retaining a skilled workforce, and this has consequences for us all. The parliamentary budget officer estimates that real GDP growth is expected to slow down to 0.4% beyond 2022 due to a shrinking workforce and slow productivity growth. This is far less than New Brunswick’s historical average real GDP growth of 1.9% a year. Increasing tuition fees will shrink our skilled workforce further, keep productivity growth stagnant, and seriously impact tax revenue and the provincial economy.

Brian Gallant’s plan to reset tuition fees after the provincial election sends my generation a message; he doesn’t really care about us. My generation, who is saddled with unsustainable debt, low wages and precarious work, deserves better. I am writing this because I believe that tuition fees aren’t just a student issue, its an issue that all voters should care about. We can stop the tuition hikes and start investing in our future. We can reverse New Brunswick’s decline by making this province the best place to study, work and raise a family. There is an alternative to the increasing corporatization of the university and a shrinking workforce. The NB NDP’s plan for post-secondary education will eliminate tuition fees at community colleges, reduce undergraduate university tuition by 25%, eliminate interest on provincial student loans and extend financial assistance to Graduate students. We can pay for it all by ensuring corporations pay their fair share, and reverse the tax cut Brian Gallant made to the top 1%. In the upcoming fall election, let’s send Brian Gallant a message back.

Post Secondary Education in New Brunswick

The New Brunswick NDP is announcing our platform on Post Secondary Education in New Brunswick.

As I travel across the province, the concern raised most often is that our youth are leaving.  Some of us have our own troubles, yes, but we worry most about our kids and our grand-kids having to leave for work and the hole that is left behind in our family, our community, our economy and our hearts.

For youth to stay here, we must make  sure that youth see a bright future in this province. This means we must put a stop to precarious work where youth and too many others have to work two or three jobs to put a roof over their heads and food on the table.  Why work for $11 an hour here, when they can move elsewhere and find full time employment?  We must cultivate stable employment right here in New Brunswick. That is why we are pushing for a fifteen dollar minimum wage.

And  we must insure our youth are well educated and  well connected to the rest of the world.   We must build a province where youth feel welcome and are given the conditions to thrive.

Instead, today higher education  is becoming more and more difficult for students in obtain New Brunswick.  Under Liberal and Conservative governments, tuition fees in universities have risen by 20% since 2010 to the point where New Brunswick students now have the highest average debt load in the Country and they pay the highest interest rates on that debt.  While the Gallant government may tout  education spending with the introduction of Tuition Access Bursary,  the province is actually spending $20 million dollars less today on student financial assistance than it was before 2010.

Our universities are no longer competitive with  schools across Canada.

If we are going to invest in our future and keep our youth here, we must do more. It is time to start taking bold steps towards universality in Post-Secondary Education. It’s time to start making post secondary education a public  right.

The NDP will make access to higher education more affordable for all New Brunswick students. These measures will be available to all students across Canada who choose to study in New Brunswick universities or community colleges.   Youth are welcome here!

We know from experience that many students who come to New Brunswick from across Canada and the world  often decide to stay in our province,  find employment , create businesses and  raise families.

Our plan will prevent the Gallant government planned 2019 tuition ‘reset’ that has  cause tuition fees to skyrocket at the University of New Brunswick.

In our first year in government the New Brunswick NDP will implement the following measures:

  • Eliminate tuition fees at all NBCC/CCNB  community colleges;
  • Reduce undergraduate tuition for all New Brunswick publicly funded universities by 25%;
  • Eliminate interest charges on all existing and future student loans for New Brunswick residents;
  • Increase up-front financial assistance for Graduate Students by expanding eligibility under the Tuition-Access Bursary (TAB) and allow graduate students to access tuition relief for the middle class under the Tuition Relief for Middle Classs program (TRMC);
  • Introduce a Graduate Student Scholarship Program;
  • Invest in dedicated mental health services on campus;
  • Ensure on campus  harassment and  sexual assault prevention policies exist in all colleges and universities with capacity for  investigation, education and enforcement;
  • Ensure fair funding for St Thomas University.

It is time for New Brunswickers to say to our youth, we want you here !

 

Jennifer McKenzie,

Leader, NB-NDP

Plan To Eliminate Community College Tuition Fees, Reduce University Tuition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – APRIL 10 2018

NB NDP RELEASE PLAN TO ELIMINATE COMMUNITY COLLEGE TUITION FEES, REDUCE UNIVERSITY TUITION

FREDERICTON— The NBNDP announced their platform for Post-Secondary Education today. Jennifer McKenzie, Leader of the NBNDP, made the announcement at the Saint Thomas University Campus in Fredericton. The platform focuses on reducing barriers for students to access education in the province, so that they can graduate and focus on building their futures in New Brunswick.

“We must build a province where youth feel welcome and are given the conditions to thrive. Instead, today higher education is becoming more and more difficult for students to obtain in New Brunswick. Under Liberal and Conservative governments, tuition fees in universities have risen by 20% to the point where New Brunswick students now have the highest average debt load in the Country and they pay the highest interest rates on that debt.”

Jennifer’s bold plan features free tuition for community college students in New Brunswick as well as reducing undergraduate tuition for all New Brunswick publicly funded universities by 25%.

“Our plan will prevent Gallant’s intended 2019 tuition ‘reset’ that will cause tuition fees to skyrocket at the University of New Brunswick” the NDP leader said. “No more biting around the edges, it is time to start taking the bold steps towards universality in Post-Secondary Education. It’s time to start making education accessible to all”.

The NDP will make access to higher education more affordable for all New Brunswick students. These measures will be available to all students across Canada who choose to study in New Brunswick universities or community colleges. “Students should be encouraged to study in New Brunswick. Our graduates go on to find employment, create businesses, and raise families right here. It’s time to invest in our future.”

To reduce barriers to education in New Brunswick a NBNDP government would:
• Eliminate Community College tuition fees
• Reduce undergraduate university tuition fees by 25%
• Eliminate interest on provincial student loans
• Introduce up-front financial assistance for graduate students
• Invest in dedicated mental-health services on campus

The NBNDP plan will offer support to more students than the current Liberal plan under Premier Gallant, including improving assistance to graduating students. A key tenet of this platform is the mental health support systems that the NBNDP would put in place, as part of a holistic approach to ensuring student success. It’s time for investments in youth, education, and the future of New Brunswick.

For more information, please contact:
Andrea Bass, Executive Director
Andrea@nbndp.ca
(506) 458-5828

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