This New Brunswick Day weekend, as New Brunswickers transition back to their normal lives where wearing face masks in public is no longer required and restrictions on travel and gatherings are lifted, I wanted to take a moment to recognize all the workers who made getting through this pandemic possible.
As this weekend we are celebrating New Brunswick Day, I find it particularly important to highlight the contribution of the tens of thousands of provincial public sector workers who kept our province running throughout the pandemic. I am thinking of the power plant workers, janitors, school and health care staff and the countless others. Some took on completely new jobs from which they were hired because the province needed it. Many worked short-staffed, in difficult conditions, worried about being infected with covid-19 and bringing it home with them at the end of the day.
Not surprisingly this has come at a cost to workers’ mental, emotional, and physical health. The countless cuts to public services over the past decades have weakened our public services. These cuts have also forced workers to do more with less. How much longer can they be expected to continue delivering services to the public without the support and resources they need?
Living and working through this pandemic has reminded New Brunswickers of the importance of our public services, but it has also exposed serious gaps and cracks in our public services. For those working in schools, health care, nursing homes, courts, laboratories, parks, utilities, and so many more professions, these gaps and cracks come as no surprise. For many years, workers have been calling attention to these weaknesses and vulnerabilities.
Now, as the pandemic is ending and life is returning to normal, is the time to fix these gaps in public services. This will help the New Brunswick economy rebound and it will also ensure that New Brunswickers have access to essential services when they need them.
Now is certainly not the time to do more with less. Now is not the time to implement wage-freezes for a sector that is already stretched too thin. There is a recruitment and retention crisis in most government departments, particularly in our schools, health care and mental health services.
We weathered the pandemic by working together. I hope that we do the same now and invest in fixing the vulnerabilities and weaknesses identified in our public services.
For information, please contact:
Daniel Legere, NBFL President
(506) 381-8969 (cell)