Léo-Paul Pinet, President
Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation
Message from the President
Léo-Paul Pinet, President
The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation is pleased to present New Brunswick’s second economic and social inclusion plan Overcoming Poverty Together: The New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Plan, 2014-2019.
Allow me to begin by thanking everyone from across the province who participated, directly or indirectly, in developing this new plan. Reading over the plan, you will see that individual and collective engagement is expressed in many ways in the province, and that everyone is ready to take action in order to improve the quality of life of all citizens. For their part, the Community Inclusion Networks (CINs) have provided invaluable support to the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation (ESIC) Board of Directors and staff in fostering and maintaining the public engagement process. On behalf of all New Brunswickers, I want to sincerely thank all these people who have worked tirelessly for many months to ensure the success of the public dialogues and the creation of the new plan.
The growing enthusiasm for strengthening economic and social inclusion was evident from the early days when the first plan was being prepared in 2008-2009, and the momentum has continued during the development of the second plan.
The main advantage of the Overcoming Poverty Together plan is that it unites around a common goal the four main groups of stakeholders: those who live or have lived in poverty, non-profit organizations, business people, and government (including the Official Opposition). This partnership approach was proposed by the participants in the first public engagement process. It was and remains a unique model of collaboration in economic and social inclusion in Canada and elsewhere.
The first incarnation of the plan in 2009 was innovative and bold, with realistic and achievable goals. In concrete terms, it contained 22 priority measures, the majority of which have been completed.
The passage of legislation – the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Act – and the establishment of a Crown corporation – the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation – were the government’s primary responsibilities under the first plan. Hence, solid and sustainable footings were laid for implementing the plan and ensuring continuity over the years. The Act reinforces the relevance of the plan. Many of the achievements that stemmed from the first plan had an immediate impact on New Brunswickers: establishment of twelve Community Inclusion Networks, social assistance reform, vision and dental care plan for children in low-income families, provincial prescription drug plan, early childhood services, framework for a social enterprise model, professional training, and many others.
The capacity building of citizens and their communities is the driving force behind the achievement of these projects. The plan was designed so that everyone can make a direct and tangible contribution with respect to improving their own situation. From the start, the plan supports the communities on their journey toward collective empowerment.
It is important to remember that the Board of Directors of the Economic and Social Inclusion Corporation was conceived in such a way that citizens who live or have lived in poverty as well as representatives of the non-profit sector, the business sector, and the government could gather around the same table to address the problem of poverty in an innovative and realistic manner. This unique partnership model has generated positive results in all regions of the province.
Under the New Brunswick Economic and Social Inclusion Act, the Economic and Social Inclusion Plan must be renewed every five years through a public engagement process. In September and October 2013, ESIC, in collaboration with the CINs began the plan’s renewal process, holding twelve public dialogues, two regional meetings, and a provincial meeting with various organizations. Comments were collected by e-mail and on ESIC’s website. Briefs were also submitted within the framework of this exercise.
In all, close to 750 people travelled in order to attend one of the meetings organized during the process. Participants included citizens, professionals in the social field, representatives of community organizations, business people, and elected officials. Nearly 5,000 comments were received over the course of this exercise, and more than 13,000 hours were spent, in one way or another, on preparing the new plan. These few statistics point clearly to the fact that citizen engagement is pervasive and remains essential in New Brunswick. This collective undertaking shows that we are on the right path when it comes to helping tens of thousands of New Brunswickers improve their quality of life.
In closing, I must emphasize that the new plan presented in this document reflects, as closely as possible, the some 5,000 comments received during the public engagement process leading to the renewal of the plan. I now invite all New Brunswickers to join together, to move from words to action, and to rise to the challenge of making New Brunswick an even better place to live for each and every one of its citizens.