Legislating poverty reduction: New Brunswick gets in the “Act”

New Brunswick has become the third province to introduce legislation to underpin its poverty reduction strategy, with the Economic and Social Inclusion Act, tabled in the legislature 19 February 2010. According to the government-issued media release, the Act will underpin the implementation of Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan.

The media release continues:

Specifically, the act will:

  • establish the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation, a Part 1 corporation under the Public Service Labour Relations Act;
  • provide for the establishment of community inclusion networks; and
  • provide for the establishment of a co-ordination unit to provide support for the board and the community inclusion networks.

The Corporation will have 22 members from all sectors, with four vice-chairs representing government business, the community-based voluntary sector, and people who have experience poverty.  The co-chairs will rotate one-year terms as chair of the corporation, which is intended to ensure the on-going engagement of all sectors in the plan.

The legislation also specifies that revenues to be administered by the Corporation will be financed out of general revenues for community social inclusion activities.

The poverty-reduction goals articulated in the plan (and in the Act) are to have reduced income poverty by 25% and deep income poverty by 50% by 2015, and to have made significant progress in achieving sustained economic and social inclusion.

This legislation follows an announcement in January 2010 that social assistance rates for people on interim assistance had increased more than 80% with a provincial investment of almost $3 million.

Other provincial legislation with respect to poverty reduction include the first such legislation in Quebec, passed in 2002, An Act to combat poverty and social exclusion, and Ontario’s Poverty Reduction Act, passed in 2009.

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