Home » 9 principles to Guide the Path Forward in New Brunswick’s Recovery from COVID-19

9 principles to Guide the Path Forward in New Brunswick’s Recovery from COVID-19

by Josh O'Donnell

Principle 1: Economic survival: ensure small business owners, artists and self-employed people can adapt to the new reality
Small and medium-size businesses are the backbone of our economy and we need to ensure they are protected. Greens have called for property tax forgiveness for the most affected sectors, commercial retrofit programs to save energy costs, exemptions for Temporary Foreign Workers, an import-substitution strategy supported by targets for government procurement of local products to expand and create new local business opportunities in NB. If we want to begin looking forward to a better and more sustainable economy, we must first ensure its survival.

Principle 2: Reform our democratic system for resilience and adaptability
Democracy is essential, even during a crisis. On a positive note, we have seen cross-party collaboration function in a way that was thought to be impossible just 3 months ago. On the negative side, COVID-19 has shown the challenges of continuing the democratic process during a crisis. Moving towards digital options for Legislative sittings, committee work, submission of official petitions and even voting are all essential next steps to ensure democracy can function, even while MLAs cannot physically gather in the Legislative Assembly.

Principle 3: Put the well-being of all New Brunswickers at the heart of government decision-making
We have seen COVID-19 bring the existing inequalities in our society to the forefront. As Greens, we will actively work to strengthen our social safety net and reduce poverty. We have tabled a bill that would improve the social assistance system and support a Guaranteed Livable Income pilot project in NB. Actions taken by government should reduce inequality, not augment it.

Principle 4: Forge a path for food sovereignty
The pandemic has shone a bright light on how fragile our global food system is. New Brunswicker’s capacity to feed itself is an important priority for Greens. We must begin by ensuring the survival of existing farms and create a climate for future farms to thrive, including scale-appropriate regulations, a focus on sustainable practices, and respect for farmers and farm workers. We must ensure that New Brunswickers have access to our local fisheries and that our local market is prioritised.

Principle 5: Quality and timely access to healthcare
A global health pandemic has highlighted many opportunities to bring New Brunswick’s healthcare system into the 21st century. Every New Brunswicker needs access to a primary care provider, and we have a huge opportunity to expand multi-disciplinary community health centres across the province. Virtual health care is here to stay. Mental health services were strained before the pandemic and are even more so now as people try to cope with our rapidly changing and uncertain reality. We must do better.

Principle 6: Greater respect and improved rights for all workers
The COVID-19 crisis has redefined who our essential workers really are. Many essential workers make little more than minimum wage, which does not reflect the value they provide to society. We must improve their wages, their job security, and protections, ensuring fair overtime pay and adequate paid sick leave. It must be easier for workers in the service sector to unionize, and those who are unionized must have the integrity of their right to strike protected by banning replacement workers.

Principle 7: Ensure Equal access to education
With public schools and post-secondary institutions utilizing online learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative that all New Brunswickers should have equal access to educational services. This means ensuring that high-speed internet is provided across the entire province, that devices are readily available to students who can’t afford them, and supports are in place for students with disabilities. Universities will also need assistance in setting up their online learning environments.

Principle 8: Create a resilient economy in a climate crisis
We will not be able to self-isolate from the climate crisis. As businesses look to reopen, it is an opportunity to help rebuild our economy in a way that reduces fossil fuel consumption. Government can facilitate the rapid growth of green industries that will put people to work by incentivizing the switch from fossil fuels to renewable energy and investing in building retrofits, public transportation, and infrastructure to protect our communities against a rapidly changing climate.

Principle 9: Eliminate systemic discrimination and pursue reconciliation
It is our belief that all of the above principles should be rooted in justice and in humble recognition of our history. If we want to rebuild our society to make it just and equitable, we need to recognize the systemic oppression still faced by Indigenous and racialized communities, women, the LGBTQ2+ community, and other marginalized individuals. Whether we are looking at questions of access to healthcare or a just transition to a green economy, we need to consider the voices being silenced or people being left behind.