FREDERICTON (GNB) – This year’s $1.6-billion budget for the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development was tabled today at the legislative assembly.

The budget builds on the department’s efforts to modernize New Brunswick’s education system by improving access to good-quality, inclusive, affordable child care; increasing access to technology; and supporting inclusion, mental health and wellness.  

“To support the future of our province, we need to make sure every New Brunswicker has the right tools for success from the very start,” said Education and Early Childhood Development Minister Dominic Cardy. “By lowering the cost of child care for families, while promoting the recruitment, retention and training of early childhood educators, we can set up our youngest learners for success throughout school and the rest of their lives.”

To improve access to good-quality, inclusive and affordable child care, $110 million will be invested in the early learning and child care sector in 2022-23. These investments aim to reduce fees at designated early learning and child-care facilities by 50 per cent this year, increase the wages of trained educators, and provide more professional learning opportunities for educators. This aligns with commitments made under the Canada-New Brunswick Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement.

About $1.9 million will support increased access to and awareness of early childhood intervention services, which help to identify and assist the province’s youngest learners as early as possible. This aims to improve long-term outcomes for students while supporting inclusive practices in the education system.    

Following a recent review of the department’s inclusive education policy, $5.8 million and $2.2 million will be invested in the anglophone and francophone school systems, respectively, to increase inclusive education resources. This funding will result in more speech-language pathologists, social workers, behaviour intervention mentors, guidance counsellors, resource teachers, and resource specialists in assessment and intervention supporting the province’s schools. These investments are bolstered by the recent signing of an agreement with the New Brunswick Union, which will support the recruitment and retention of school psychologists through wage increases and other improvements to working conditions.  

“Over the past two years, we have seen added pressures on our mental health resources as the needs of students increased,” said Cardy. “By investing in inclusive practices, we can make sure the basic needs of students are met so they can focus on learning. Together, we can help counteract the impacts of the pandemic.”

Other highlights include:

  • $2.35 million to expand French second-language prototype projects in anglophone schools and early learning and child care facilities.
  • $1.35 million for supports and language learning for newcomer students in the francophone sector.
  • $1 million to continue the Laptop Subsidy Program for students entering Grade 9 from low- and middle-income families.
  • $1.8 million to maintain access and capacity within school buildings and on the provincial network, as well as enhancing network security.

This year’s investments support the government’s commitment to build a world-class education system. Other initiatives include ongoing work related to expanding school food programs, updating curriculums and resources to reflect the histories and realities of Indigenous and Black peoples, and providing students with hands-on learning opportunities to help them explore their interests and future career options.