New Brunswick Finance Minister Cathy Rogers speaks at a press conference prior to delivering the provincial budget in the Legislature in Fredericton, N.B., on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.Stephen MacGillivray / THE CANADIAN PRESS

New Brunswick running 11th straight deficit and increasing net debt

The Fraser Institute said it’s time New Brunswick cuts spending and starts to address the net debt.

New Brunswick’s Liberal government has released a $9.6 billion budget with the province’s 11th straight deficit and a hefty increase in the net debt.

“There is an old adage that says you have to spend money to make money,” Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said Tuesday.

The 2018-19 budget projects a deficit of $189 million and adds $372.3 million to a net debt that’s now set to hit $14.4 billion by the end of March 2019. That’s about $19,050 for every man, woman and child in the province.

The annual cost of servicing that debt is about $675 million.

“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,” Rogers said.

On Monday, Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies for the Fraser Institute, said it’s time New Brunswick cuts spending and starts to address the net debt.

“When measured as a share of the provincial economy, New Brunswick currently stands as one of the most indebted provinces in all of Canada,” he said, adding that the government is just punting tough decisions to the future.

But on Tuesday, Rogers said the government is in fact meeting the province’s challenges head-on.

“We cannot afford to ignore the urgent challenges facing our province,” she said.

“We could have chosen not to address these additional areas but we think the risk of not giving attention to these urgent matters was greater than the risk of delaying our return to balance one year,” Rogers said.

There are no new taxes or fee increases in the budget, the final one prior to a provincial election set for September.

As announced in November, the small business corporate income tax rate will be reduced to 2.5 per cent effective April 1.

The biggest expenditure is for the Health Department, at $2.75 billion — an increase of 3.7 per cent from last year.

The spending will include the full implementation of the New Brunswick colon cancer screening program and efforts to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements.

$37.4 million has been earmarked for a climate change fund, with government taking the money from existing gas taxes rather than imposing a new carbon tax.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has already discounted that idea.

New Brunswick is also increasing spending for Education and Early Childhood Development by 6.1 per cent to $1.25 billion, while the Tourism budget increases by 4.1 per cent to $62.6 million.

Full details of the spending will have to wait until budget estimates are presented in the legislature.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Housing crisis amplified on Denman Island

High home and rental prices and a shortage of housing stock have led to island-wide struggles

Comox opts for ‘blank sheet’ when it comes to cannabis bylaw

Comox council unanimously approved a bylaw to prohibit the sale of cannabis within the town.

Folk legend Arlo Guthrie returns to Vancouver Island MusicFest

Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox went to the well one more… Continue reading

Changes coming to CVRD watering restrictions

The changes will come into effect in May

Shania Twain visits Canadian Armed Forces base in B.C.

Canadian country icon thanks members of CFB Esquimalt for their service

CONTEST: Win a whale-watching tour for four

Where in the world are the Snowbirds?

Countdown is on to the 2018 B.C. Summer Games

Cowichan Valley hosts on July 19-22

Driving Change: A B.C. man’s charitable trip across Canada

A Kelowna man, his bus, and his mission for positive change across our country

Case of teacher secretly filming teens reaches top court

Acquittal of teacher, Ryan Jarvis, who secretly videoed teens ‘dangerous,’ top court told

Why a 14-year-old will lead the charge at annual marijuana protest on the Hill

Marijuana enthusiasts have long been circling April 20 on their calendars as annual day of cannabis

B.C. communities await marine spill compensation years after incidents

The government maintains a Ship Source Oil Pollution Fund to compensate Canadians

RCMP say too early to know what happened in Broncos crash

RCMP Assistant Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said collission very complex

Conservative MP wants feds to close loophole for illegal border crossers

Immigration advocates call on government to suspend Canada-U.S. Safe Third Country Agreement

Most Read