Federal minister questions New Brunswick housing budget cut

The federal government has expected the New Brunswick government to increase its funding for housing, not cut it.

"We had everything we need for New Brunswick not to decrease but to increase funding in housing," said Jean-Yves Duclos, minister of Families, Children and Social Development.

In last week’s provincial budget, close to $9 million was cut from spending on housing service. The cut comes as the first instalment of $299 million funding from the 10-year national housing strategy that is set to begin on April 1.

Duclos told CBC that his government didn’t believe it should build services on the backs of those who need help the most.

"Those most vulnerable people in New Brunswick in many cases need investments in housing for them not to find themselves on the streets or in shelters or in hospitals or in police stations or homeless," Duclos said. "We need to care and to look after those vulnerable people across Canada."

Duclos said that the federal government would be holding the province to the obligations that are in the housing agreement signed in July 2018.

Dorothy Shephard, New Brunswick’s Social Development minister, did not tell reporters how much of the $299 million fund would be spent in 2019-20. She only said that the money will be “backloaded” into later years rather than spread evenly over 10 years, and that how much is spent next year will depend in part on what the province wants to do, according to a CBC report.

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