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Finance Minister Ernie Steeves tables his government's 2024-25 capital budget on Nov. 28, 2023. Image: New Brunswick legislature video capture

N.B. tables $1.2B capital budget for 2024-25

By Brad Perry Nov 28, 2023 | 4:40 PM

The New Brunswick government has tabled a $1.2-billion capital budget for the 2024-25 fiscal year.

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said it is nearly $200 million higher than what they projected last year.

“This increase reflects the elevated inflationary environment, supply chain pressures seen in recent years, and is in response to the needs of a growing province,” Steeves said in the legislature on Tuesday.

“With population growth hitting record levels in each of the last two years, we recognize that the demand on our public assets continues to grow.”

Education will be a big focus, with more than $187 million earmarked for public schools in the province — an increase of 49.6 per cent over last year’s projected numbers.

Steeves said that includes $82 million to continue work on eight schools and $10.2 million work to begin work on six additional schools in Moncton, Dieppe, Salisbury, Fredericton and Tabusintac.

The minister said student enrolment has grown by 7,200 over the past two years, with the province expecting to add another 6,000 students by 2027.

Just over $50 million will be used for improvements, land acquisition, site assessments, and ventilation upgrades.

New Brunswick also plans to spend $505 million to maintain and improve highways, roads and bridges — an increase of 11.2 per cent.

“This includes investments in safety upgrades that will see $13 million to continue the development of passing lanes along Route 11,” said Steeves.

Also included in next year’s capital budget is $33 million to build new public housing units, which the province had already committed to.

In October 2022, the province said it would spend $100 million over the next four years to build 380 new units.

An additional $5 million has been set aside to maintain existing public housing units, said Steeves.

Nearly $200 million has been earmarked for healthcare infrastructure, including ongoing renovation work that will lead to a five-storey addition at the Chaleur Regional Hospital in Bathurst and a three-storey addition at the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital in Fredericton.

Redevelopment work will also continue within the medical and surgical intensive care unit, oncology clinics, and the cardiac unit at the Saint John Regional Hospital, and to modernize and increase capacity within the coronary care unit at The Moncton Hospital.

Steeves said the province will also renovate space at the Dr. Georges-L.-Dumont University Hospital Centre in Moncton to create the New Brunswick Public Health Laboratory.

The province has also earmarked $40.9 million to continue work on the new justice building in Fredericton, to develop a new regional correctional centre in Grand Lake, and for safety upgrades in existing correctional facilities.

In the forestry sector, New Brunswick is spending $12.5 million to modernize and expand the Kingsclear nursery outside of Fredericton.

The capital budget also includes $20 million in improvements in tourism infrastructure — a 110.6 per cent increase over last year.