The speech from the throne outlines a framework for all-party collaboration on matters that are important to New Brunswickers.
The throne speech opened the first session of the 59th legislature and was read in the legislative assembly today by Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau on behalf of the government.
“By embracing the minority government situation, members of the legislative assembly have an opportunity to find common ground while bringing more perspectives to the legislature,” said Roy Vienneau. “New Brunswickers have called on their representatives to collaborate more than ever before, and this must be the mission for the members of the legislative assembly.”
The speech laid out a process aimed at improving legislative procedures to give all parties a bigger voice and to adapt the rules for a minority situation.
“With no party being given the mandate to govern alone, New Brunswickers have asked the members of the legislature to work together more than ever before to improve the lives of families in our province,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “The throne speech lays out an agenda which pulls ideas from all political parties so we can work collaboratively to help New Brunswickers, in particular those who are struggling to get ahead.”
Collaborative measures outlined in the speech include a new budget process that would be open to the public instead of behind closed doors. The new approach for developing the annual budget would see, for the first time, all parties and the public hearing the details of departmental spending challenges and opportunities, as well as the debate over how to prioritize them. This process is intended to balance the budget by 2020-21.
The government also proposed sending a number of complex policy issues to all-party committees to develop consensus solutions, including recommendations to address paramedic shortages by Dec. 15. Additional issues that are being proposed for all parties to undertake include:
- Determining a schedule for future increases to the minimum wage following an increase to $12 per hour to come into effect on April 1, 2019.
- Working with the Coalition for Pay Equity, as well as labour and business groups and other relevant stakeholders, to extend pay equity legislation to the private sector.
- Considering whether to recommend a phased-in ban of the use of herbicides such as glyphosate based on objective evidence.
- Considering whether to recommend to the house a question or questions relating to proportional representation, preferential balloting and the voting age that could be posed to New Brunswickers during the 2020 municipal elections, as well as potential amendments to the Referendum Act, to ensure a fair process.
- Reviewing the municipal taxation system and make recommendations to modernize it. This could include reducing or eliminating the so-called double tax and eliminating industrial assessment exemptions, including on machinery and equipment.
The speech also includes a number of policy initiatives that had the support of more than one political party in the recent election campaign.
The complete text of the speech from the throne is available online.