N.B. to provide financial assistance to some, focusing on low-income earners

New Brunswick is planning a targeted approach for those who need help battling rising food and gas prices, focusing on low-income earners.

"We don't want it to be something that takes a long time to roll out,” New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs told reporters Friday. 

“We want it to hit those most vulnerable so it is really hitting the families that are being impacted the most from the high cost of energy that's leading into high costs of everything else."

However, it sounds as though that support might not be for everyone.

"We recognize that there are vulnerable areas with the seven-plus per cent inflation fuel prices that are affecting grocery stores, affecting everything, and we need to find a path here. At least a temporary program that will kind of take the shock out of the system,” Higgs said.

The cost-of-living these days has some New Brunswickers wondering why the province is only planning to help low-income earners.

"I can't see it being a help to me, unless you're on social assistance or something, it might help them, and they're going to need help, because right now, I feel sorry for anybody with a family,” said Terry Boyd as he filled his truck with gas on Friday.

As rising costs start piling up, Fredericton's Greener Village, a food bank among other things, has seen a rise in demand over the past couple of months.

"We've been really busy here; we've seen 1,000 extra people compared to a typical month - the same month last year. So, a pretty steep incline,” said Alex Boyd, the executive director of the Greener Village.

“That creates about 400 extra food hampers in the month of April, compared to 2021,” Boyd said.

Inflation is also making it harder to keep food bank shelves stocked.

"The purchasing that we like to do, we can't get the same rates that we were getting, gas prices go up for food bank vehicles too,” Boyd said.

“So, it's really a double whammy trying to meet the need, the extra need, when the prices are rising for us as well."

The Liberal opposition's finance critic hopes the Higgs government will keep to their word next week and commit to helping people who are pinching their pennies.

"I think its time that Higgs has to step up his government, has to step up for New Brunswickers who are facing huge cost-of-living increases, and if he is actually going to follow through, it's welcome news for us,” Rob McKee said.

Last week in legislature, parties could not agree on whether to debate a way for government to help New Brunswickers.

"We spent a lot of time this week looking at options that we can have for targeted support, to folks that are seeing, not only the gas prices, but the impacts of gas prices through commodities and inflation on many other items. So, I expect to roll something out this week in that regard,” Higgs said.

The premier says an announcement on assistance will come next week.