New Brunswick's largest public sector union is serving notice it won't stand by quietly if the provincial government follows through on some of the possible cuts to government services that have been signalled in recent weeks.
"We are ready to pull out all the stops to save the social fabric of New Brunswick," said Odette Robichaud, the vice-president of CUPE-NB at a news conference in Fredericton on Monday.
In a document titled Choices to Move New Brunswick Forward, the government lists different measures under consideration to reign in the province's $600M deficit. Those range from tolling highways, increasing classroom sizes and cutting the number of education assistants who assist with special needs students in classrooms.
'This document is the last straw.' - Odette Robichaud, CUPE-NB vice-president
"We have been to every public forum and round table in the province and this is not what we heard," said Robichaud. "We didn't hear any New Brunswickers come forward and say you should close the school in my community and privatize road maintenance and custodial services in the school, so my neighbours or family members would lose their jobs."
Robichaud is asking the government to tell citizens how they came up with the document.
The union, which represents some workers in hospitals, schools, and transportation among others, says it is consulting with its members on a new course of action to "halt the government's austerity bulldozer."
"This document is the last straw," said Odette.
Public meetings in January
Meanwhile, the province has announced a series of meetings in January to enable New Brunswickers to provide their input on the choices under consideration.
"Not all the choices outlined in the report will be implemented," said Boudreau in a statement. "This tour will provide more opportunities for New Brunswickers to provide their input into this process."
The tour will visit the following communities:
- Jan. 11 – Bouctouche, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., J.K. Irving Centre, 30 Évangéline St.
- Jan. 12 – Fredericton, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Fredericton Convention Centre, Pointe Sainte-Anne C Room, 670 Queen St.
- Jan. 13 – Saint John, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., NBCC Saint John, 950 Grandview Ave.
- Jan. 13 – Caraquet, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Club du bel âge de Caraquet, 331 St-Pierre Blvd. E.
- Jan. 14 – Grand Falls, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., E & P Sénéchal Centre, 60 Ouellette St.
- Jan. 16 – St. Stephen, 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Garcelon Civic Centre, 22 Budd Ave.
- Jan. 18 – Dieppe, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., École Mathieu-Martin, auditorium entrance, 511 Champlain St.
- Jan. 19 – Miramichi, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Exhibition Centre, 24 Church St.
- Jan. 20 – Campbellton, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Civic Centre, 76 Water St.
- Jan. 21 – Bathurst, 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., K.C. Irving Regional Center, 850 St Anne St.