New Brunswick

Election Day 26: senior care investments and poverty reduction promises

With just one week until voters cast their ballots, the New Brunswick Liberals are promising to invest in senior care, while the NDP are pledging to lift New Brunswickers out of poverty.

4 leaders will attend a forum discussion hosted by the New Brunswick Women's Council in Fredericton

Liberal Leader Brian Gallant was at Victoria Hall in New Maryland, N.B., Monday morning to announce his party's election pledge to help seniors remain independent longer and have a better quality of life. (Radio-Canada)

With just one week until voters cast their ballots, the provincial Liberals are promising to invest in senior care, while the NDP are pledging to lift New Brunswickers out of poverty.

The Progressive Conservatives focused their message Monday on solving the nursing shortage in the province. Meanwhile, the Greens announced a sugar tax.

A re-elected Liberal government would help seniors stay in their homes longer by "improving" the home renovation tax credit and increasing the salaries of home support workers, Liberal Party Leader Brian Gallant said during a campaign stop in New Maryland. He provided few specifics about the proposed changes.

The Liberals say they would also establish a permanent seniors' navigator position to assist seniors in accessing government services that can help them remain independent longer and better promote the existing home visit and toll-free number services, he said.

For seniors who require advanced care, Gallant said his party would add 600 nursing homes beds and more than 400 memory care beds. He also said that if elected, the Liberals would spend more than $100 million on renovations to existing nursing homes.

In addition, the Liberals would increase the hours of care in nursing homes to 3.3 hours from 3.1 hours by 2022 and 3.5 hours by 2026 by developing a comprehensive strategy to recruit 40 new nurses, 80 licensed practical nurses, and 80 new resident attendants, he said.

"The investments we are making in aging care in New Brunswick will ensure a better quality of life for seniors and their families, and they will also improve the overall delivery of health care for all New Brunswickers," Gallant said.

NDP announces Housing First strategy

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie, who was at Saint John City Market Monday morning, said her party wants to build strong communities where everyone can thrive and where children have a chance to succeed.

"Poverty is a real problem in our province," she said in a statement. She noted more than a third of citizens make less than $15 an hour and that New Brunswick has among the highest youth poverty rates in the country, with Saint John and Campbellton both at 23 per cent.

Many families are spending more than 30 per cent of their income on housing, she said.

NDP Leader Jennifer McKenzie made her party's Housing First announcement outside 24 Albert St. in Saint John, N.B. (NDP)

McKenzie said the NDP will adopt a "Housing First" strategy to end homelessness in New Brunswick. It would expand municipal powers over social housing and give cities the power and resources they need to enforce housing standards.

She made the announcement in Saint John's north end with a vacant boarded-up building as her backdrop.

"There is infrastructure around the city, old houses and apartments that are falling into ruin or are abandoned," McKenzie said. "We are facing a housing crisis, and our province is not adequately addressing housing and homelessness challenges."

An NDP government would also immediately raise social assistance rates by 10 per cent, increase the minimum wage to $15 and offer $10 per day child care, said McKenzie.

'Our nurses are struggling'

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs started his day by taking part in an editorial board with the Telegraph Journal at 9 a.m.

He then cast his own ballot during the second day of advance polls in his home riding of Quispamsis at 10:30 a.m. and headed to Fredericton's Carleton Park, where he pledged to develop a strategy to train, recruit and retain more nurses.

"From burnout to workplace violence, to issues with certification testing, our nurses are struggling," Higgs said in a statement.

"Our nurses are there for us when we need them. Now it's our turn to be there for them."

PC Leader Blaine Higgs cast his ballot during the advance polls in his Quispamsis riding Monday morning before making a nursing-related campaign promise in Fredericton later in the day. (CBC)

If elected next week, Higgs said the Tories will work with the Nurses Association of New Brunswick, the New Brunswick Nurses Union, the two regional health authorities, the University of Moncton, the University of New Brunswick and community colleges to develop a plan.

He also said his party will also increase opportunities for nurse practitioners in the province.

Green Party Leader David Coon, who spent the day campaigning in his riding of Fredericton South, discussed his party's platform of introducing a tax on sugar-sweetened beverages.

The tax would be about 20 cents per litre, he said.

People's Alliance Leader Kris Austin continued his door-to-door campaign in his home riding of Fredericton-Grand Lake Monday, as the election campaign entered the home stretch.

At 6:30 p.m., Austin is expected to join Gallant, McKenzie, Higgs and Coon in a forum hosted by the New Brunswick Women's Council at the Wu Conference Centre in Fredericton.

Voters are scheduled to head to the polls on Sept. 24.

Party leaders have one more week to win over the hearts of New Brunswick voters. (CBC)

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