FREDERICTON (GNB) – Unprecedented population growth is being credited for strong gains in provincial taxation revenue.

“Our population has seen the highest growth since Confederation,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “This means more people are working and spending, which is supporting healthy economic and income growth, and positively impacting provincial taxation revenues. This has reduced our level of public debt and enabled us to make tax cuts, strategically increase spending in priority areas, including significant investments in health care and education, and look at ways to help those who are working and having a hard time to make ends meet.”

Steeves said the government will be reviewing options and choosing the best ways to help New Brunswickers over the next few weeks.

He also noted several recent government initiatives to support New Brunswickers, such as:

  • Increasing the minimum wage by 17 per cent during 2022-23, with a $1 per hour increase that took effect April 1, and another $1 per hour increase on Oct. 1.
  • Decreasing out-of-pocket costs by up to 50 per cent for parents of children aged five and under in a designated child-care facility.
  • Establishing the Emergency Food and Fuel Benefit to provide $20 million to low-income individuals and families, including seniors.
  • Contributing $2 million to food banks.
  • Introducing the Enhanced Energy Savings Program to provide eligible New Brunswickers with a free mini-split heat pump and upgraded insulation.
  • Eliminating the interest on the provincial portion of student loans.
  • Investing $102.2 million for construction and renovation of public housing units.
  • A 22 per cent increase in the past two budgets for housing and homelessness programs.
  • An estimated reduction in personal income taxes of $140 million annually across all tax brackets from the proposed rate reductions for 2023, combined with previous personal income tax measures in 2021 and 2022.

The government’s second-quarter results for the 2022-23 fiscal year show a $774.4 million surplus.

Revenue is projected to be $918.1 million higher than budgeted, mainly due to increases in personal income tax ($317 million), corporate income tax ($388.3 million) and HST ($88 million). Steeves said governments across the country are expected to show similar revenue improvements as their updates are released.

Total expenses are projected to be $179 million higher than budgeted, mainly due to investments in health, education, transportation and public safety.

“Although our expenses are up, our economic strength has given us flexibility to address these pressures,” said Steeves. “At the same time, inflation and rising interest rates are expected to slow economic activity, with a recession expected to hit Canada in the coming months, and New Brunswick can be expected to feel the effects of an economic slowdown. We will continue to find ways to help New Brunswickers while also ensuring we have funds available to address future challenges.”

The department projects real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent in 2022. The average of private sector forecasters is 1.7 per cent. The second-quarter results are available online.