The Liberal opposition is encouraging Premier Higgs to follow his own advice and step up for New Brunswick by doing more to help with the economic recovery in New Brunswick in light of the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.
Based on a report published by Scotiabank on Monday, New Brunswick is the Canadian province providing the least amount of fiscal support to date to help mitigate the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy.
“While we have been doing very well in terms of public health, we must turn our attention to the economy. I’m very concerned that if we don’t invest today, it’s going to cost us a lot more in the long run,” said Liberal finance critic Roger Melanson. “Other provinces will recover from this quicker than New Brunswick, fewer businesses will go under in other provinces, and revenues will return to those provinces quicker. We need strategic investments from the province, the types of investments we are seeing in other provinces and by the federal government.”
The report highlights financial pressures the pandemic is putting on provincial budgets throughout the country. However, the Scotiabank report also asserts “deficit spending is significant but necessary in the current crisis,” and that “more support for the economic recovery will be needed in the near term.”
Melanson acknowledged the financial pressures make for some difficult choices but added that it’s a major red flag that New Brunswick is trailing the rest of the country in aid.
“We don’t want to be last in economic recovery,” Melanson said. “I think we have to look at what other provinces are doing, and play catch up here.”
Measures taken in other provinces include increased investment in infrastructure while leveraging federal funds in provinces like Saskatchewan, direct aid for businesses in provinces like BC and PEI, and salary boosts for essential workers in provinces like Ontario.
“Other premiers are stepping up for their provincial economies by making the difficult but necessary investments,” said Melanson. “These are desperate, unprecedented times for the economy and provinces are going to have to invest more than they would under normal circumstances.”