Budget 2023-24 – Growth and Opportunity: Delivering for New Brunswickers21 March 2023
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government tabled today its 2023-24 budget which outlines significant investments in priority areas including health, education, and supporting vulnerable populations, while also maintaining a sustainable and responsible approach to managing its finances.
“Our government is proud of the commitment we have made to being responsible with taxpayers’ money, and offering a balanced approach to spending on priorities, while ensuring a sustainable financial future,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “Today’s budget builds on that foundation of delivering for New Brunswickers and investing in opportunities for growth and services that will support an increasing population.”
Economic and fiscal conditions
Despite worldwide volatility, New Brunswick’s economy has managed to withstand many challenges. Record population growth, a reduction in the average age, increased employment and elevated exports have all lead to a brighter economic and financial picture, said Steeves.
Revenues and expenses are projected to be $12.2 billion with spending projected to increase by 5.2 per cent.
The Department of Finance and Treasury Board projects real GDP growth of 0.8 per cent in 2023, as growth slows from the elevated levels of the last two years.
Steeves said that while the economic developments are positive, the province must continue to make investments in priority areas, to support New Brunswickers where they need it most.
Energizing the private sector
- 2023 personal income tax (PIT) rate reductions will provide an estimated $70 million in additional tax relief.
- $1.6 million to be invested in provincial immigration programs and immigration support services.
- $4.5 million to be invested in the Crown land silviculture program.
- $1.7 million to support the Sustainable Canadian Agricultural Partnership.
- $2 million to be invested in increased marketing efforts at the Department of Tourism, Heritage, and Culture.
- $900,000 to support increased staffing, maintenance, programs, and service offerings at provincial parks.
- $1.5 million to be invested in preventative maintenance for the province’s bridges.
- $2.3 million to offset cost pressures and improve access to New Brunswick’s ferries.
- $14 million to manage the impact of rising commodity prices on building and transportation assets.
- $10 million to be invested in the development and delivery of energy efficiency and conservation programs to support New Brunswick’s transition to a low-carbon economy.
The provincial government has opted to adopt the federal backstop for carbon taxation. By moving to the federal backstop, New Brunswickers can expect to see federal rebates based on the amount of the federal carbon tax that is collected in the province each year. However, this also means a reduction in provincial revenues that would otherwise be recycled.
Steeves said that notwithstanding this policy change, the government has the fiscal flexibility to maintain the recycling measures that were in place under the made-in-New Brunswick approach. This means that it will continue to deliver an estimated $200 million in previous commitments, including legislated tax reductions to gasoline and motive fuel tax rates and personal income taxes, and continue to provide funding for climate change initiatives.
The government is also committed to investing in vibrant and sustainable communities. It will invest $4.4 million to support the ongoing implementation and transition efforts related to local governance reform, as well as an additional $3.1 million to support marketing and promotional requirements related to name changes for local governments.
The 2023-24 budget includes an investment of $2 million to assemble the resources necessary to support programs under the renewed New Brunswick Housing Corporation (NBHC). Other investments in housing include:
- $2.8 million in funding to support repairs and preserve existing social housing stock, and to provide additional rental assistance to low-income households.
- $2.1 million to be invested in the Canada Housing Benefit to help New Brunswick households achieve long-term affordability in the rental market.
- $1 million to support the increased resource requirements of the Residential Tenancies Tribunal.
Investments for 2023-24 are in addition to steps the government has already taken to alleviate the pressures that are currently present. This includes:
- Accelerating provincial property tax rate reductions that had been introduced as part of Budget 2022-23, benefitting an estimated 49,000 residential rental properties and more than 24,000 non-residential properties.
- Amending the Assessment Act to phase-in assessment values on newly constructed apartment buildings with two or more units, and existing buildings being refurbished to add more rental units.
- Committing more than $100 million to build 380 new public housing units.
- Providing $800,000 to support the creation of the Housing Hub of New Brunswick.
- $32.6 million to be invested in more frontline police officers and specialized crime units, to ease pressures in the court system and combat rising crime rates.
- $3 million to increase safety measures for inmates and staff in provincial correctional facilities.
- $3.7 million to be invested in the Integrated Correctional Program Model, to reduce the rates of inmates re-offending.
- $500,000 to support operational cost pressures of the SPCA, including investigations, enforcement, follow-ups and salaries for staff and Animal Protection Officers.
Supporting vulnerable populations
- $5.9 million in additional funding to support clients through social assistance reforms.
- $13.4 million to fund an increase in social assistance rates of 7.3 per cent under the Transitional Assistance Program and the Extended Benefits Program, benefitting about 26,000 households. This will align social assistance rates to inflation.
- $12.6 million to support the work outlined in the 2018-2023 Nursing Home Plan, which includes adding to the supply of nursing home beds in the province.
- $2 million to provide resources needed to help seniors remain in their homes longer.
- $44.9 million to increase wages for personal support workers in home support and special care homes.
- $9.7 million to fund wage increases for group homes, community residences, family support and attendant care.
- $13.7 million to offset travel costs for approved caregivers, including foster parents and partner agencies.
- $8.8 million to support the increased operating costs to home support agencies which provide long-term care and disability support services.
- $800,000 will be invested to expand community support for victims of sexual violence.
- $3.2 million to support emergency homeless shelters.
- $1.8 million will be invested to increase staffing and improve access to public libraries.
Dependable public health care
The budget allocates nearly $3.6 billion to the health-care system, a 10.6 per cent increase over last year’s budget, and includes the increased health-care funding from the federal government.
Additional funding of $39.2 million will support improved access to primary health care in New Brunswick, and includes initiatives such as:
- $10.4 million for primary health-care transformation, including increasing the number of doctors that are working in teams.
- $8.5 million to address the increase in volume of services for fee-for-service physicians.
- $6.4 million to expand pharmacist assessment and prescribing services, and to continue to leverage eVisitNB.
- $3.3 million to New Brunswick Cancer Network programs.
- $3.2 million in operational funding for the new intensive care unit at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital.
- $2.9 million to ensure the necessary coverage for physicians working in critical services.
- $2.3 million to support medical residency training positions.
- $2.2 million to improve patient care and reduce pressures on emergency rooms and primary care providers.
Additional health investments include:
- $2.1 million in funding to expand the insulin pump program and support improved diabetes management, resulting in better health for New Brunswickers.
- $29.7 million to help address recruitment and retention challenges.
- $3.1 million to consolidate hospital and laboratory information systems and improve access to diagnostic imaging data.
- $2.4 million to expand residential treatment service in Campbellton for individuals suffering from mental health issues.
- $1 million to enhance addiction medicine management services.
- $1.7 million to deliver culturally appropriate addiction and mental services for Indigenous communities.
The government is also committed to actively exploring the addition of 50 inpatient resident beds, to provide urgent access to those with mental health and addictions needs.
Building a better education system
Through the Canada-New Brunswick Canada-Wide Child Care Agreement, the government will provide $37 million in 2023-24, bringing the total investment to $143 million, to improve access to affordable, quality designated child-care spaces throughout the province. An additional $4 million will be allocated to support the creation of additional preschool spaces within the for-profit sector.
For the first time in decades, population growth is also having a direct impact in the education system. For the current school year, enrolment increased by more than 4,200. An additional 2,200 students are anticipated to arrive in the 2023-24 school year.
The following investments will be made across all levels of the education system:
- $33.3 million will be allocated for more classroom teachers, facility requirements, and an increase in instructional materials.
- $2.4 million will be invested in supports for early intervention for children with autism spectrum disorder.
- $30.8 million to fund improvements to New Brunswick’s inclusive education system.
- $8.7 million to be invested in supports for improved literacy and numeracy.
- $4.4 million to support language acquisition of newcomer students.
- $2 million to be invested in student access to healthy foods in schools without an existing program.
- $14.8 million to address cost pressures associated with energy, transportation and contracted services.
- Up to $8.4 million to be invested in operational funding for public universities.
- $7.6 million to increase loan and bursary programs for post-secondary students requiring financial assistance.
Gender impact assessment
New Brunswick continues to be a leader in applying a Gender-Based Analysis+ lens to the budget, Steeves said. The government is committed to furthering the discussion in this regard, by releasing the results of the analysis for the third time.
The 2023-24 budget speech and other relevant documents are available online.21-03-23