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New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs. Image: CPAC video capture/file photo

Premier Open To Boosting Health-Care Spending

By Brad Perry Sep 2, 2022 | 2:00 PM

New Brunswick’s premier is facing more pressure to increase health-care investments.

It comes after the province reported a significant jump in its projected surplus for this year.

Premier Blaine Higgs said he is open to funnelling more money into health care, but he wants to ensure that funding will lead to results.

“If a doctor comes to me, a professional of any kind comes to me says, ‘look, you fund this and I’ll deliver this,’ and it means better results for customers and patients of our province, we’ll be there,” Higgs told reporters on Thursday.

The comment came just two days after the province reported that its projected surplus for 2022-23 had nearly quadrupled.

On Tuesday, the finance minister said higher-than-expected revenue increases pushed the anticipated surplus from $35 million to $135 million.

That prompted calls for action from many, including the Opposition Liberals, who said the government should use that money to address “pressing issues” like health care.

Higgs noted that his government boosted health spending by $168 million this year — the largest increase in 14 years — to $3.2 billion.

Despite the significant increase, the premier said money alone is not going to fix our health-care system.

“I know there’s a lot of folks that will say, ‘well, just hire more people and we’ll do better.’ More people are not available and every province in the country is looking to hire more people,” said Higgs.

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said cabinet members have discussed some plans for the surplus, but no decisions have been made.


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