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John Wishart (91.9 The Bend Photo)

‘A bit of a Groundhog Day budget’: Chamber president

By Tara Clow Mar 22, 2023 | 12:57 PM

Small victories in the 2023-2024 provincial budget, but it lacked what was needed to tackle the more serious issues, according to the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton.

CEO John Wishart says, “This is a bit of a Groundhog Day budget, with some nice spending increases on some programs but we don’t see in this document a broad strategy to tackle our labour force challenge, housing crisis, and rising homelessness.”

The Chamber was pleased with nearly $30 million for healthcare personnel recruitment and retention and a predicted $40 million surplus in the next fiscal year.

They were also pleased to see increased spending on law enforcement, with an increase in the number of frontline RCMP officers by 15 percent next year.  A Moncton Major Crimes Team and an Organized Crime Team will also be created.

But the Chamber adds, aside from an additional $3.2 million for the creation of emergency shelters, there isn’t much in the budget to tackle homelessness. The document states government “is exploring the addition” of 50 inpatient beds for the highest acuity mental health and addiction cases. Health Department officials admitted that is a commitment to explore the idea, but they have not confirmed whether it will be funded or not.

The Chamber was also hoping for more substantial spending to address our housing crisis, and it also felt there wasn’t enough for workforce-related spending programs.

It had identified workforce, housing, homelessness and creating a competitive business sector as its priorities in a pre-budget consultation session.


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