New Brunswick anti-poverty advocate quits, protesting government decisions

Posted: Updated:
Print

FREDERICTON - An anti-poverty advocate has resigned from a government-appointed body in New Brunswick in protest over decisions by the government affecting the poor.

Pam Coates quit the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation board, citing the Conservative government's decisions to double the co-payment cap on prescriptions for low-income seniors and delay a minimum wage increase.

"Both are blatant examples of obstacles/barriers to getting out of poverty and will in some cases enhance and encourage more poverty," she wrote in a Jan. 18 letter to the board.

The board consists of 22 members representing the government, businesses, non-profit organizations and people who have experienced poverty.

Its role is to oversee and co-ordinate implementation of the government's poverty reduction plan.

"I feel that I am just sitting on this board as a token poor person," Coates wrote. "I do not feel I am being heard."

Coates said she wrote an email to every board member in August to voice concerns with the delay in the planned raise in the minimum wage, but didn't get a single reply.

She said the board is not working, and in order to be true to her values, she had to resign.

"They are not serious, as far as I can see, in reducing poverty," she said in an interview.

The government and board did not return messages seeking comment.