N.B. makes no headway on poverty by treating symptoms, says economist


Poverty in New Brunswick could be basically eliminated for about $1 billion, says the Vaughan chair in regional economics at the University of New Brunswick.

Herb Emery’s comments come amid calls for a more effective solution than the ever-larger reliance on food banks and homeless shelters to help those who can’t afford necessities such as food and housing.

“It’s appalling just how much we’re getting efficient at treating the symptoms of poverty rather than taking any of the most basic steps to addressing the causes,” he said.

Emery is one of the people working to create a guaranteed basic income pilot scheme, similar to what Canadian seniors have through the Guaranteed Income Supplement program, which provides a top-up to a minimum income of around $20,000 a year.

“Using this approach, we dropped elderly poverty from one of the highest in the developed world to one of the lowest,” he said, and in a sample group, food insecurity was cut in half.

Emery would like to see something similar done for families in younger demographics.

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