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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. health care gets biggest budget ever, low-income seniors’ benefit increased

By Jacob Moore Mar 19, 2024 | 1:57 PM

The New Brunswick government plans to spend a record $3.8 billion on health care as part of the 2024-25 budget.

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves tabled the $13.3-billion budget in the legislature on Tuesday.

Steeves said the province is in a better place economically because of recent population growth.

“We have gone from a province that had weak economic and population growth, and unsustainable public finances, to a province with a much healthier economy with significant growth potential and sustainable public finances, which should be a point of pride for New Brunswickers,” says Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves in a government news release.

Steeves is projecting a surplus of around $41 million, but what the final figure will be remains to be seen.

New Brunswick has seen fluidity in its surplus projections and actual results in the past couple of years.

It originally budgeted for a $40 million surplus for the 2023-24 fiscal year, but is now projecting a surplus of $247 million.

“A lot of that money came to us late in the year from the federal government, because the federal government does our taxes,” Steeves told our newsroom.

“As long as we get the right information, we’ll be as accurate as possible. We’re having talks with the federal government about that.”

The province’s net debt is forecast to increase by around $315 million this year after several years of decreases, according to Tuesday’s budget.

Health care

The budget allocates nearly $3.8 billion to health care in the province. That’s the highest it’s ever been, according to Steeves.

It is about $214 million more than what the province budgeted last year, though year-end expenses are projected to come in around $212 million over budget.

About $70 million will go to regional health authorities and about $23 million will fund technological initiatives aimed at improving access to health-care services, the government says.

The province says it will put the money toward “developing a system that is innovative and patient-focused, and delivers timely access to health services when New Brunswickers need them.”

Recently, the New Brunswick Medical Society and the New Brunswick Nurses Union unveiled their pre-budget recommendations on March 12. They identified multiple areas of the health-care system that need improvement.

The associations estimated the total cost of the improvements would be nearly $600 million.

About $20 million will go to “collaborative practices and improve access to primary health care, consistent with recommendations shared by doctors, nurses and other health-care professionals,” the government says in the release.

Other health-care spending highlights include:

  • $562,000 to expand midwifery services in Fredericton and add services in two other communities
  • $7.1 million for cataract surgical centres to provide cataract surgery services outside of hospitals
  • $7 million for mental health and addictions services
  • $1.4 million to attract and recruit domestic and international health-care professionals
  • $2.9 million for screening programs for colon cancer, lung cancer, HPV cervical cancer and funding for oncology drugs
  • $2.1 million for additional resources to ensure appropriate care is provided to survivors of sexual or domestic violence
  • expanding breast cancer screening to include women aged 40 to 49
  • funding for an incentive program to fill vacant, “hard-to-recruit” nursing positions

The government also announced it would spend $29.7 million to increase wages for personal support workers in home support, special care and group homes, community residences, family support and attendant care.

Kelly Lamrock, advocate for seniors in the province, recently released a report on recommendations to improve long-term care. He said long-term care needs funding, among other recommendations.

“There are good people providing long-term care, but the system that supports, encourages and funds their work is not yet there,” Kelly Lamrock said last Wednesday.


The New Brunswick Housing Corporation oversees “provincial housing facilities, housing programs and initiatives, a housing strategy and residential tenancy services,” according to the website.

It will receive $68.9 million in the planned budget, more than a 50 per cent increase for the corporation over last year’s budget, the government says.

Other housing-related spending includes:

  • $22 million for a direct-to-tenant rental benefit for families and seniors who are in core housing need for affordability reasons
  • $5.5 million to help an additional 1,200 New Brunswick households
  • $3.5 million to support survivors of gender-based violence
  • $3 million to reduce the risk of eviction due to arrears in rent or utility bills
  • $11 million in permanent funding to respond to the homelessness crisis
  • $2.5 million to support the development and repair of rental units
  • $2.6 million in support of a partnership with Habitat for Humanity
  • $20 million to help small communities build or enhance existing infrastructure
  • $2.5 million to support pre-construction work related to affordable housing


The province plans to spend $150.7 million on child care.

Spending includes:

  • $4.4 million to support children with autism spectrum disorder
  • $18.6 million to address challenges resulting from enrolment growth, as well as an additional $24.3 million for rising operating costs such as energy, transportation and other services
  • $1.1 million for opening new schools in Fredericton and Moncton this September
  • $2.5 million to support language learning and ease the transition for immigrant students entering the New Brunswick education system
  • $7.4 million to help students attend school and address their diverse needs
  • $7.8 million to reverse the effects of instruction time lost during the pandemic
  • $4.1 million to begin implementing longer-term measures, such as teacher recruitment and retention, enhanced virtual learning and leadership development among school leaders

Supporting vulnerable people

The province plans to spend $58.3 million on support for people on social assistance.

This includes a 3.6 per cent increase in the amount of money people can get under the Transitional Assistance Program and Extended Benefits Program.

Other highlights include:

  • Increasing the base amount of the Low-Income Seniors’ Benefit from $400 to $600
  • $2.2 million to increase the per diems in adult residential facilities

Private sector

  • 4 million for newcomer language training, immigration navigation and settlement assistance
  • Funding support to “reduce certification barriers for internationally trained workers in regulated professions” who want to work in their fields in New Brunswick

Green energy

  • $50 million to provide free heat pumps, air sealing and insulation for eligible recipients in the Enhanced Energy Savings Program
  • $5 million for people who use non-electric fuel types, First Nations, non-profit organizations, and low-income individuals and families
  • $12.5 million to ensure that clean non-emitting nuclear energy is generated safely and to navigate a regulatory approval process