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

Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled, jailed

Judicial council: Judge Raymond Bodnarek acted on Crown’s advice, tried to minimize victim’s hardship

Breton/Thorsby RCMP investigate theft of boat

RCMP say stolen jet boat and trailer valued at approximately $80,000

Judicial council finds no misconduct by Alberta judge of Aboriginal sex assault victim

Hearing after complaints of alleged poor treatment of woman with pseudonym Angela Cardinal

Wetaskiwin liquor store robbed Feb. 21

Two suspects arrested after store employee threatened with bear spray

Town of Ponoka to hand over fire services to county

Council voted unanimously to have the county take over May 1. County meets Thursday morning

WATCH: Ponoka Warriors volleyball host largest ever Family Day tournament

Five divisions, 32 teams participate in 12th annual Family Day tournament

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Concert-goers unfazed by Hedley sexual misconduct allegations

Frontman Jacob Hoggard thanked fans from the ‘bottom of our hearts’ at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre

WATCH: RBC Training Ground searching for next great Canadian Olympian

100 local athletes test their speed, endurance and strength

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

Federal budget to unveil incentive for 5-week second parent leave: official

Goal behind the measure is to give parents more incentive to share child-rearing responsibilities

Notley says Alberta watching B.C. court bid closely, will get no free ride on it

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley ended the three-week ban on B.C. wine, calming the trade war

Trudeau ends troubled India trip in his comfort zone of hockey and youth

The players, 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of outreach program

Team Canada’s Dave Duncan apologizes after drunken joyride in Pyeongchang

Duncan, his wife Maja and Canadian technical coach William Raine detained by South Korean police

Most Read