Budget continues to cut deficit, invests in education and health care

February 8th, 2017
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Budget continues to cut deficit, invests in education and health care

The 2017-18 provincial budget tabled in the legislature today aims to demonstrate that the government is listening to New Brunswickers, honouring its commitments, and investing responsibly in areas that will lead to a stronger New Brunswick.

Over the first half of our mandate, our government has worked closely with New Brunswickers. Together, we developed a plan for restoring balance to our finances, while investing in the priority areas that reflect our collective values. From day one, jobs, education, and health care were identified as priorities, and they remain so today.

During pre-budget consultations, we listened to New Brunswickers who said that they would like the government to get the province’s finances in order, but not at the expense of social programs.

We are taking a balanced approach and reducing the deficit in a steady, responsible way. We are meeting our financial targets, and what is even more significant is that we have been able to do this without making deep cuts to the programs that New Brunswickers hold dear.

The New Brunswick economy is projected to grow by 0.6 per cent in 2017, its third consecutive year of growth, while a deficit of $191.9 million is projected for 2017-18, continuing the steady, downward path as the province aims to return to fiscal balance by 2020-21.

The 2017-18 budget includes record investments in education and health care.

Highlights include:

Finances

  • The government will continue to freeze MLA salaries for the ninth consecutive year. The premier and cabinet salaries have been cut by 15 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively.

Economy

  • The government is increasing the budget of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture by 17.6 per cent, and will create a comprehensive tourism strategy. Additional investments will also be made over the next three years to undertake important upgrades to assets of cultural and historic significance.
  • To support business, effective April 1, 2017 the Small Business Corporate Income Tax rate will be lowered from 3.5 per cent to three per cent, the third consecutive reduction in the small business rate.
  • The government has committed nearly $2.5 million to enhance population growth efforts.
  • To protect the forest sector, the government will invest nearly $2 million to combat the threat of spruce budworm.

Education

  • Supporting the 10-year education plans, the province is investing an extra $56 million into the education budget this year, an increase of $103 million since 2014-15. This represents an increase of 4.9 per cent which represents the largest increase since 2008-09.
  • Understanding the importance of early childhood education, the government will double the budget of the daycare assistance program effective Jan. 1, 2018, to help New Brunswickers pay for the cost of daycare.
  • The government will secure an additional $45 million over four years to invest in publicly- funded universities. The government has also set aside money for a new program to provide tuition relief for the middle class.
  • The government is earmarking a $7 million per year investment in literacy programming for both children and adults. A comprehensive literacy strategy will be released shortly.
  • The government is investing an additional $2.4 million in preschool autism interventions, over and above the $1.4 million provided to this program in last year’s budget.

Families

  • Thanks to a partnership with the federal government, this year’s budget for health care is increasing by 3.3 per cent, bringing the budget for the Department of Health to $2.657 billion for the year 2017-18. This is the largest increase since 2010-11.
  • The government will be investing $58.2 million for construction, maintenance and improvements to the network of nursing homes across the province over the next three years.
  • The government will introduce legislation this session to better protect against domestic and intimate partner violence. New funding to support this legislation will further ensure that our most vulnerable are protected.

Since 2014 the government has successfully cut the province’s deficit in half, and is on track to eliminate the deficit by the 2020 budget, as reaffirmed today. New Brunswick has seen economic growth hit a 10-year high in 2015, with projections of continued growth in 2016 and 2017. In addition, the government supported the creation of almost 10,000 jobs since 2014, while employment has increased by 5,300 since June 2016.

The 2017-18 Budget Speech and accompanying documents is available online.

Thank you.

Hon. Cathy Rogers
Minister of Finance

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