The New Brunswick government is launching a year-long consultation designed to come up with a long-term plan to combat poverty in the province.

The public meetings start in mid-January and will be held in 15 communities, followed by a major forum later in the year.

Although Premier Shawn Graham said the goal is a long-term strategy to reduce poverty, one of the two co-chairs of the consultation said on Friday that the process doesn't mean the provincial government should wait to act.

One out of every eight New Brunswickers lives in poverty and the proportion is even higher among children.

Graham said his Liberal government has put measures in place to help people, but admits it isn't enough.

"We have to go beyond meeting short-term needs. We need an effective long-term plan to reduce and prevent poverty in New Brunswick," Graham said.

Gerry Pond, the former Aliant president, will co-chair the meetings along with Leo-Paul Pinet, who works with volunteer groups on the Acadian Peninsula. Social Development Minister Mary Schryer is also on the three-person team that was announced on Friday.

Pinet acknowledges it will be a long process, but said the government can still help people in the interim.

"During that time, we're not taking the place of government. Government has to act on a day to day business, so in between, there's government responsibility to act," he said.