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Finance Minister Ernie Steeves delivers the 2023-24 provincial budget on March 21, 2023. Image: New Brunswick Legislature video capture

N.B. projects small surplus in $12.2B budget

By Brad Perry Mar 21, 2023 | 4:32 PM

More investments in health care, education and social development are part of the Higgs government’s latest budget.

The $12.2-billion budget, which the government unveiled Tuesday, includes a projected surplus of just over $40 million.

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said the budget “considers our current economic and fiscal environment” while investing significantly in priority areas.

Spending in the health department has been increased by more than 10 per cent to nearly $3.6 billion.

It includes an additional $39.2 million to improve access to primary care and $29.7 million to help address recruitment and retention challenges

“Improving access to primary health care is critical to ensuring that citizens can get the health care they need at the right time and in the right place by the right provider,” said Steeves.

“It’s fundamental to helping citizens and their families better manage health conditions and to reducing pressures on more expensive and resource-intensive acute care service.”

More than $2 million was announced to remove the existing age cap on its insulin pump program and include coverage for continuous glucose monitoring — a move Steeves said will support improved diabetes management.

The government said it is also looking at adding 50 inpatient resident beds to provide urgent access to those with mental health and addictions needs.

Steeves said the province’s population growth is having a direct impact on our education system for the first time in decades.

The province has set aside an additional $33 million for more classroom teachers and instructional materials.

“For the current school year, enrolment increased by more than 4,200 students. An additional 2,200 students are anticipated for the arrival of the 2023-24 school year,” said Steeves.

There is also nearly $31 million to fund improvements to inclusive education, $8.7 million for improved literacy and numeracy, and $2.4 million for early intervention supports for children with autism spectrum disorder.

In addition, $2 million will be spent to improve student access to healthy foods for schools that do not have a program in place.

A total of $37 million will be provided to improve access to affordable child-care spaces throughout the province. An additional $4 million will support the creation of more preschool spaces within the for-profit sector.

Other notable spending in the 2023-24 budget includes:

  • $54.6 million in wage increases for the human services sector.
  • $32.6 million for more police officers and specialized crime units, including a 15 per cent increase int he number of frontline RCMP officers.
  • $13.4 million to increase social assistance rates by 7.3 per cent.
  • $12.6 million to support the work outlined in the 2018-2023 Nursing Home Plan, which includes adding more nursing home beds.
  • $3.7 million for a program model to help reduce the rates of inmates re-offending.
  • $3.2 million to support emergency homeless shelters.
  • $3 million to increase safety measures for inmates and staff in provincial correctional facilities.
  • $2.8 million to repair existing social housing stock and provide more help to low-income households.
  • $2 million on the renewed New Brunswick Housing Corporation, which was announced earlier this year.
  • $1.8 million to increase staffing and improve access to public libraries.
  • $800,000 to expand community support for victims of sexual violence.
  • $500,000 to support operational cost pressures of the SPCA.

More details about the budget can be found online.


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