FREDERICTON — New Brunswick's Liberal leader pledged to create an incentive program for home renovations Thursday on the campaign trail, while the Green party released its platform, promising a $15 minimum wage and to lower the legal voting age to 16 years.
During a campaign stop in Oromocto, N.B., Kevin Vickers said the renovation program will focus on promoting energy efficiency to help homeowners reduce their monthly bills.
"Many New Brunswickers have felt financial pressures and uncertainty due to the COVID-19 pandemic but need to make renovations to their homes," Vickers said. "The program will ... also spur economic activity throughout New Brunswick."
Vickers said the program would cover up to 50 per cent of the expenses for renovations to a maximum of $2,500. The work must be completed by a licensed contractor.
"These are things like heat pumps, windows, insulation — anything that would reduce energy consumption, save money for our residents and kickstart the economy," he said, adding that the program could generate revenue for contractors and hardware stores across the province.
The party leader said the total cost for the program would be about $12 million, assuming 5,000 homeowners qualified for the maximum refund. The funding would come from New Brunswick's $36-million share of federal carbon tax revenues.
Vickers took aim at Tory Premier Blaine Higgs, saying the Progressive Conservatives have ignored economic issues.
"Blaine Higgs wants you to think everything is back to normal," Vickers said. "But our businesses are still feeling the repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic ... Our Liberal team will transform our economy to bring good jobs and good salaries to New Brunswickers in all regions."
Meanwhile, Green Leader David Coon released his party's platform Thursday.
"We have two priorities — to keep New Brunswickers safe and secure in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to chart a path to recovery from COVID-19 that puts the well-being of people and communities at the heart of government decision-making, while protecting the natural environment," Coon said in a statement.
Platform highlights include immediately increasing the minimum wage to $15 and requiring pay equity in the private sector by 2025.
Coon said a Green government would adopt a not-for-profit model for all future nursing home developments, and ensure LGBTQ+ and reproductive health services — including abortions — are covered under Medicare.
The Green platform promises to lower the legal voting age to 16 years, to preserve wetlands and flood plains, and to ban forest clear-cuts to buffer against heavy rains, flooding, and sea level rise.
Coon said he would also create an electric vehicle incentive program to replace 20,000 gas-powered vehicles with electric cars by 2030. The party also promises to launch a public inquiry into New Brunswick's justice and policing systems to investigate systemic biases towards Indigenous peoples.
Earlier in the day, the People's Alliance party announced it would like to see the next government provide more support for seniors and home-care organizations.
Leader Kris Austin issued a statement saying his party had pushed the Progressive Conservative government to increase the wages for personal-care assistants to more than $15 an hour, starting next month. Austin also said the party is promising to provide personal-care assistants with a rebate for their $2,000 training costs.
The leaders of New Brunswick's six political parties were scheduled to take part in the first debate of the election campaign Thursday night, which will be broadcast live from Fredericton.
The provincial election is Sept. 14.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 3, 2020.
— with files from Michael MacDonald in Halifax.
Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press