Jennifer McKenzie, NBNDP Leader, nominated in Saint John Harbour

Media release

For Immediate release

January 31 2018


Jennifer McKenzie, NBNDP Leader nominated in Saint John Harbour

Saint John – Jennifer McKenzie, Leader of the New Brunswick NDP was acclaimed as candidate for the NDP for the next election in the provincial constituency of Saint John Harbour at a meeting of the constituency association tonight in Saint John.

Ms.  McKenzie in her acceptance speech said, “I accept the nomination of New Democrats in Saint John Harbour and pledge to you tonight to work as hard as I can to win the confidence of the voters of this riding.  With your help we will reach out to everyone in Saint John Harbour, connect with them and show them why sending an NDP member to the Legislature will make a difference in their lives”

A key point in her address was youth leaving the province,

“The concerns raised most often around the province are that our youth are leaving. Young men and women here in this riding tell me they want to stay in Saint John and make their lives here. “

“For youth to stay here, 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.  Benefits must be the norm rather than the exception.  Why work for $11 an hour here, when they can move elsewhere and find full time employment?  That is why I will fight to bring the minimum wage to $15 “

She also talked about making women’s voices heard,

“Another concern is that womens’ voices are not being heard and respected. We must make the voices of women a priority in our political discussions, and address their issues such as safety from violence, access to doctors and clinics,   affordable universal and accessible daycare so single women and indeed all men and women can participate in the economy”

Media contact:

David Brown

Executive Director


506 651-8203

Statement on Child Care Action Plan

First, we congratulate the government on finally coming out with the childcare plan they promised in the last election albeit very late in their mandate. Most of the funding is committed after the election this September and therefore this may be more about getting re-elected than helping families.

Second, it does not seem as though the perspective of parents has been considered in their plan. Where is it made easy and convenient for parents to access the childcare or the subsidies? Sometimes the barriers to accessing childcare are more than simply financial but include convenience, location or transportation.

Key elements of quality childcare services do not appear to be fully considered such as universality, flexibility and ease of access. There should be no wait lists, for example.

Jennifer McKenzie
Leader of the New Brunswick NDP

New Year’s Pledges from the NDP

In December, I pledged as my New Year’s resolutions to fight against child poverty and to be a strong voice for New Brunswick women.  The New Democratic Party’s first platform plank gives me a running start towards meeting these pledges.

In November, the NDP announced that we would implement a $15 per hour minimum wage. Thirty-six percent of all workers in New Brunswick make less than $15 and typically 50% more women than men fall into this category.  Raising the minimum wage will go a long way towards achieving pay equity for the women making the lowest wages and allowing them to live in dignity.

The Saint John Human Development Council released its report on child poverty in November called The Face of Child Poverty in New Brunswick.   New Brunswick has some of the highest child poverty rates in Canada with Campbellton and Saint John having eye-popping 33.9% and 30% respectively in 2015.  Saint John’s Wards 2 and 3 have child poverty rates of 41.4% and 45.3% and 49.4% of children belonging to single parent families live in poverty. Not surprisingly, one of the key recommendations in their report is to raise the minimum wage.

But it’s not just about fighting poverty, it’s good for the economy too. Many of the lowest paying jobs are in retail, tourism and service industries.  When people work for larger corporations, the profits earned off their backs quickly leave this province.  An extra dollar in the pocket of a low wage New Brunswicker will be re-spent and recycled into the local economy.  People who buy services will likely not be deterred by a few extra cents on the cost of their meal or a dollar on the price of a service.

Some of the feedback we have received is about the burden this places on small businesses.  The NDP would phase the increase in over four years and would look at ways to mitigate some of the more difficult transitions.  However, when we look at other jurisdictions who raised base salaries, small and local businesses still flourish and the statistics do not support doom and gloom prophesies.  As a former small business person, I know that a stable and motivated work force –where employees don’t have to work several jobs to make ends meet – is good for business.

The NDP is also taking a good hard look at the healthcare industry.  We are increasingly concerned by the Gallant government’s tendency towards privatization.  As the dollars flow from the federal health ministry, they are subject to the Canada Health Act and should be administered by the government.  This legislation was enacted for good reason: public servants serve the public while private companies serve their shareholders.  It is clear to us, as it was to medicare’s founder Tommy Douglas, that it’s worth fighting for a well administered and well managed public healthcare system.

The NDP also pledges to enact comprehensive reform to the property tax system.  The continued mis-steps of the Gallant government hit property owners and small businesses first with outrageous increases and then finally passed through to a tax freeze on municipalities who have to balance their budgets making painful cuts to services.

Nowhere has this hit harder than in Saint John where starting with the hiring of an American firm to low ball Canaport LNG’s property taxes through to the property tax freeze, it is hard to imagine this file being managed worse.

I look forward to talking to you about your priorities in the coming months are we ramp up for September’s election.


Jennifer McKenzie, New Brunswick New Democratic Party Leader

It’s time for real leadership on climate change.

The Gallant Liberal government has announced that they will not put a price on Carbon.

By only levying heavy industry, the Gallant government risks not covering enough of the economy by the Carbon levy to satisfy the standards set out by the Federal government. With this half-baked plan, Gallant risks missing our emissions reduction targets. By not implementing a carbon pricing policy that positively affects market behaviour, Gallant has decided to pass the buck of the coming climate crisis to the next generation.

This is another cowardly move that throws away a huge opportunity for this province to move forward. We will miss out on a historic opportunity to put people back to work, finance large-scale investments in publicly-owned renewable energy, fund ground-breaking research and development in renewable energy technology, and jump-start our future green economy. We can do this all while reducing poverty by offsetting the impacts of a carbon price on consumers with a targeted tax refund.

An NDP government would take a portion of the revenue from a real Carbon Levy and invest it in building large-scale renewable energy infrastructure, green energy technology, electrified public tranportation, and a housing retrofitting program to reduce energy costs for residences and small businesses. This is a historic opportunity to create ‘green-collar’ jobs that harness the skills, know-how and wisdom of New Brunswickers and build the green economy of our future.

We will make the investments we need now to jump-start the green transition. These investments will pay long term dividends to our province, and our common future. New Brunswick has highly skilled workers – welders, electricians, sheet metal workers – who are sitting on their doorsteps waiting for work after the cancellation of the Energy East pipeline. It’s time to put those skills to work, and introduce free retraining programs for workers in sunset industries. It’s time for a jobs-first climate plan.

Under an NDP government, New Brunswick would become a world leader in renewable energy technologies such as wind, solar, tidal, geothermal, nuclear and other sources of green energy. We would harness our natural resources in a way that helps New Brunswickers and our planet at the same time. We would return a large portion of the revenues from the Carbon Levy back to taxpayers with a carbon rebate – so we can progressively shift markets away from carbon – without making consumers pay for the climate crisis that the big polluters created.

We need a government that shows real leadership on carbon pricing and that will take this province into the future rather than keeping us mired in the past. It is time for the Government of New Brunswick to take climate change seriously. It’s time for real climate leadership. It’s time for a New Deal for New Brunswick.

-Jennifer McKenzie

Our Public Healthcare – Worth Fighting For

Jennifer McKenzie, The Daily Gleaner, September 20, 2017


Why do we have Public Healthcare in Canada?

When Tommy Douglas was six, he moved to Saskatchewan from Scotland.  When an old injury flared up, he was sent to hospital where he was told his leg would have to be amputated.   A well known orthopedic surgeon took an interest in his case and operated on his leg for free if his parents would allow his medical students to watch.  His leg was saved.  That only rich people could afford such surgery began to concern Tommy.

He went on to found the first social democratic party in Saskatchewan where he introduced the first single-payer universal health care program in North America.  Later, while he led the NDP which held the balance of power federally in the House of Commons,  Lester Pearson’s Liberal government introduced federal universal healthcare.


Why are New Brunswickers concerned?

Everyone knows a nurse who works in Extra Mural or Telehealth.  It is my niece, your sister or cousin, or his wife.  They are strong capable caring women and men with a huge capacity to love and care for their patients. Everyone knows someone who has benefited from their care.

Since the Gallant government announced their intention to transfer the management of the Extra Mural Program and Tele Health to Medavie Blue Cross, many New Brunswicker have expressed concern to me about their opposition to this privatisation of our public health services.

The Extra Mural program, which has been operated by the Horizon and Vitalite health authorities for many years, has earned praise across the country for providing a high quality of health care to residents in their own homes. It is the wrong move to allow a private company to administer this key piece of community health care.


Does this move contravene the Canada Health Act?

The federal government is responsible for insuring that these services conform to the five principles set out in the Canada Health Act in providing funding for health care services to the provinces.  The Act requires federally funded health care spending to be managed by public administration and operated on a not for profit basis.  That Medavie Blue Cross is a private ‘not for profit’ company does not mean that this test is met.


What can happen when Healthcare is not publicly administered?

I am also concerned about some of the performance factors which are to be used to give Medavie a bonus. For example, one of them is increased nurses’ visits or case load. Year over year, case loads will increase, stress levels will increase and patient care will suffer in order to meet this criteria.

Who do we call when things are not going well?  This move adds a layer of insulation to our publicly elected officials’ accountability, again, a  good reason for public administration by public servants.

We need people who are responsible to New Brunswickers to administer our healthcare, not people who are responsible to a private corporation with its own private interests.


What are the underlying trends that affect this move?

Indeed, there is now a disturbing trend by the Gallant government in supporting privatisation of Health Care: support for the private blood clinic in Moncton, privatization of dietary and other services in hospitals to Sodexo a French multi-national company, and now this transfer.

We are the oldest and fastest aging province in Canada. Even this government recognizes that healthcare spending must increase by over 4% per year because of our aging population.

Why then did Premier Gallant negotiate a healthcare formula with his federal Liberal counterparts that didn’t include aging?

New Brunswick economist Richard Saillant, director of the Donald J. Savoie Institute at University of Moncton trashed the health deal and called it ‘ironic’ that we – having the oldest population in the country – would be the first to accept a deal.

According to the Canadian Institute for Health Information, average annual health care costs for seniors is almost five times higher than for Canadians under 65.  For those over 80, it is almost eight times higher.  This means that every year, funding will be squeezed more and more to meet our healthcare needs.  No wonder the Gallant government is trying to shelter itself from accountability.


What are our next moves?

We have Tommy Douglas to thank for single payer public healthcare and we have him to thank for all the care we receive under public healthcare.  He was visionary and we are better, healthier and happier for it.  This move to put the management of Extra Mural and Telehealth under a private company, Medavie Blue Cross, is not what Tommy envisioned.

There is only one way to fight this move – and those inevitably to follow – and that is to get involved politically.  I have now done this by becoming the leader of the only party that founded public healthcare and we continues to fight for it.  Join me!

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