30 January 2018
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The 2018-19 provincial budget tabled in the legislature today focuses on investments in seniors, youth employment and economic competitiveness.
“This is a budget that works for all New Brunswickers,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “Your government puts communities and families first, protecting the vulnerable and investing in our young people and our seniors. We have taken a balanced approach that allows us to achieve our fiscal objectives while also investing strategically.”
The budget includes an additional $73 million in new targeted investments to support economic competitiveness, youth employment and seniors, which will delay a return to a balanced budget by one year, to 2021-22.
“Today’s budget recognizes the challenges that lie ahead. By listening to New Brunswickers and investing in priority areas, we can meet these challenges head-on,” said Rogers. “As a result of the priority investments in seniors, youth and economic competitiveness, the plan to restore balance to the province’s finances will be delayed by one year.”
Economic growth is anticipated to surpass one per cent in 2018, for the fourth consecutive year. The projected deficit for fiscal 2018-19 is $189 million.
“The decisions your government have made in this budget reflect the economic growth, education and family plans that New Brunswickers have helped develop,” said Rogers. “The investments we are making will enhance the competitiveness of our economy, support our youth and seniors and lead to improved economic and social outcomes into the future.”
The 2018-19 provincial budget does not contain new taxes or fee increases.
As announced in November, effective April 1, the small business corporate income tax rate will be reduced to 2.5 per cent from 4.5 per cent in 2014-15.
Among the highlights of the 2018-19 budget:
- In addition to previous investments, almost $28 million will be invested to support youth employment.
- An additional $5 million will be invested in the Youth Employment Fund.
- Through the Student Employment Experience Development (SEED) program, the government will invest an additional $4 million in summer job opportunities for post-secondary students.
- A paid internship program will be created within government to hire recent New Brunswick graduates to keep them in the province while reinvigorating the civil service.
- An investment of $2 million will be made to further develop innovative labour market information products to help increase awareness of the full suite of programs and services available to assist youth in gaining on-the-job experience as well as of current and future job opportunities.
- In addition to previously planned investments, the government will invest more than $20 million to help seniors.
- The government will invest $800,000 to begin implementing the action items identified by the Council on Aging.
- To address alternate level of care issues, $1.25 million will be invested in a pilot project which will help free up acute-care beds by providing transition beds in special care homes for short-term patient stays.
- An additional $2.1 million to be invested across the province in specialized beds for individuals with advanced dementia.
- The government will invest $2.1 million in a wage supplement program focused on seniors, to encourage companies to hire seniors.
- The government will invest $12 million to increase wages for special care home employees and home support workers to help attract and retain skilled workers.
- In addition to the new investments totaling over $20 million, the government will implement a program to support informal caregivers who play an important role in the daily lives of seniors and adults with a disability. This $11.3 million investment fulfills a platform commitment and was already planned for in the budget plan.
- In addition to previous investments, almost $25 million will be invested to help spur the province’s economic competitiveness.
- In recognition of the importance of the role innovation will play in enhancing economic competitiveness, the government will invest an additional $7 million per year in the innovation agenda. This will be added to the $33 million per year announced last year. Investment will go towards:
o increasing the number of innovators in the province;
o boosting research and development;
o supporting start-ups, commercialization, and business scaling;
o developing an innovation ecosystem through innovation labs; and
o continuing to invest in the Smart Province initiatives.
- The government will invest $3.8 million in 2018-19, as part of a seven-year partnership with the federal government, in the Atlantic Fisheries Fund to support new products and technologies, encourage modernization, and enhance partnerships between industry and science.
- To increase efforts to combat the threat of spruce budworm to the province’s forests, the government will work with the forest industry and the federal government and will invest $3 million in the Healthy Forests Partnership.
- The government will continue to take full advantage of economic opportunities related to the legalization of the recreational use of cannabis while ensuring that vulnerable people are protected and that cannabis is out of the hands of youth and criminals.
- The budget continues to focus on strategic investments in health care. This year’s health budget will increase by 3.7 per cent, bringing the Department of Health’s budget to $2.753 billion for the year 2018-19. The department’s budget has increased 9.8 per cent since 2014-15.
- The government will invest $2.5 million to support improved mental health outcomes in the province. This includes investments to improve the network of excellence for children and youth with complex mental health needs and investments in suicide prevention.
- The New Brunswick Colon Cancer Screening Program will be fully implemented to reach all men and women between the ages of 50 and 74 though an investment of $1 million.
- To reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements, $3 million will be invested.
- Additional new programs to improve access to health care will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
- The government continues to make record investments in education. This year, $1.258 billion will be invested in the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, a 6.1 per cent increase from 2017-18 and a nearly 16 per cent increase since 2014-15.
- Thanks to strategic partnerships with the federal government, $71 million will be invested in education and early childhood development.
- As part of the $71 million, $4.7 million will be provided over the next two years to support the transition towards early learning centres; and 7.5 million in annual Quality Grants will be provided to help the facilities deliver high-quality child care services and meet the criteria of becoming a designated New Brunswick Early Learning Centre.
- In addition to the multi-year bilateral funding, beginning in 2019-20 the government will invest $28 million over four years to support wage increases for early childhood educators.
- Additional new programs to improve education will be unveiled in the coming weeks.
- Recognizing that tourism represents significant economic potential and the sector will play an important role in achieving the objectives outlined in the economic growth plan, the budget of the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture will increase to $62.6 million, a 4.1 per cent increase from 2017-18. The department’s budget has increased by nearly 30 per cent since 2014-15.
- As part of the 2018-19 Capital Budget, $12.6 million will be invested in parks, trails, historic sites, and other tourism infrastructure. This represents a 19.1 per cent increase over the level of investment last year.
The 2018-19 budget speech and accompanying documents are available online.