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

WATCH: The province’s flu shot campaign is underway

Influenza immunizations are available across Red Deer free of charge

Red Deer RCMP investigate failed ATM theft attempt

A truck was driven through the doors of the Eastview IGA in hopes of stealing an ATM

5 tips for talking to your kids about cannabis

Health officials recommend sharing a harm reduction-related message.

Red Deer RCMP arrest man after vandalism spree

19-year-old man faces charges after windows were smashed at three different businesses

Darrell Paulovich remembered after accident claims his life

A tragic accident claimed the life of a rodeo advocate over the weekend

Video: An up-close look at beluga whales in Hudson Bay

An up-close look as some belugas greet whale watchers off the coast of Churchill, Manitoba

NHL players say Canada’s legalization of marijuana won’t impact them

NHL players say the legalization of marijuana in Canada won’t change how they go about their business.

Automated cars could kill wide range of jobs, federal documents say

Internal government documents show that more than one million jobs could be lost to automated vehicles, with ripple effects far beyond the likeliest professions.

Koreas agree to break ground on inter-Korean railroad

The rival Koreas are holding high-level talks Monday to discuss further engagement amid a global diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear standoff with North Korea.

Flash floods kill at least 7 people in southwest France

Flash floods have left several people dead in southwest France, with roads swept away and streams become raging torrents as the equivalent of several months of rain fell overnight, authorities said Monday.

Trump to visit Florida, Georgia; search ongoing for missing

The death toll from Michael’s destructive march from Florida to Virginia stood at 17.

Canadians widely unaware of accomplishments of famous women, poll suggests

A new poll suggests Canadians have a lot to learn about the accomplishments of some of the country’s most famous women.

Temporary access allowed for residents of landslide-threatened B.C. community

The district says areas of access to the community of about 54 homes could be expanded, depending on advice from a geotechnical engineer.

Joint inspection planned for missing journalist at Saudi Consulate

Turkish officials have said they fear a Saudi hit team killed and dismembered Washington Potst reporter Jamal Khashoggi

Most Read