FREDERICTON – The Opposition Liberals are calling for a free vote in the legislature next week to reverse the Tory government’s decision to slash funding to the Advisory Council on the Status of Women.
The Grits have tabled a debatable motion for opposition day next week and are encouraging MLAs to vote their conscience.
“I asked the premier to fulfill at least one of his promises in his platform by making this a truly free vote,” Interim Liberal leader Victor Boudreau said. However, minister responsible for the Status of Women, Margaret-Ann Blaney, said it came down to cutting the Advisory Council’s funding, about $400,000, or cutting outreach workers.
“We were down to front-line workers,” she said. “It was a tough decision that had to be taken.”
All departments were asked to cut two per cent in this year’s budget. The total budget for the Women’s Issues branch of the Executive Council Office is about $3.4 million. Cutting about $400,000 from that budget represents a 12 per cent reduction. However, Blaney noted that Rosella Melanson, executive direction of the council, along with an analyst, were offered positions within the Women’s Issues branch.