New Brunswick Finance Minister Cathy Rogers speaks at a press conference prior to delivering the provincial budget in the Legislature in Fredericton, N.B., on Tuesday, January 30, 2018.Stephen MacGillivray / THE CANADIAN PRESS

New Brunswick running 11th straight deficit and increasing net debt

The Fraser Institute said it’s time New Brunswick cuts spending and starts to address the net debt.

New Brunswick’s Liberal government has released a $9.6 billion budget with the province’s 11th straight deficit and a hefty increase in the net debt.

“There is an old adage that says you have to spend money to make money,” Finance Minister Cathy Rogers said Tuesday.

The 2018-19 budget projects a deficit of $189 million and adds $372.3 million to a net debt that’s now set to hit $14.4 billion by the end of March 2019. That’s about $19,050 for every man, woman and child in the province.

The annual cost of servicing that debt is about $675 million.

“The budget includes an additional $73 million in new targeted investments to support economic competitiveness, youth employment and seniors, which will delay a return to a balanced budget by one year, to 2021-22,” Rogers said.

On Monday, Charles Lammam, director of fiscal studies for the Fraser Institute, said it’s time New Brunswick cuts spending and starts to address the net debt.

“When measured as a share of the provincial economy, New Brunswick currently stands as one of the most indebted provinces in all of Canada,” he said, adding that the government is just punting tough decisions to the future.

But on Tuesday, Rogers said the government is in fact meeting the province’s challenges head-on.

“We cannot afford to ignore the urgent challenges facing our province,” she said.

“We could have chosen not to address these additional areas but we think the risk of not giving attention to these urgent matters was greater than the risk of delaying our return to balance one year,” Rogers said.

There are no new taxes or fee increases in the budget, the final one prior to a provincial election set for September.

As announced in November, the small business corporate income tax rate will be reduced to 2.5 per cent effective April 1.

The biggest expenditure is for the Health Department, at $2.75 billion — an increase of 3.7 per cent from last year.

The spending will include the full implementation of the New Brunswick colon cancer screening program and efforts to reduce wait times for hip and knee replacements.

$37.4 million has been earmarked for a climate change fund, with government taking the money from existing gas taxes rather than imposing a new carbon tax.

Federal Environment Minister Catherine McKenna has already discounted that idea.

New Brunswick is also increasing spending for Education and Early Childhood Development by 6.1 per cent to $1.25 billion, while the Tourism budget increases by 4.1 per cent to $62.6 million.

Full details of the spending will have to wait until budget estimates are presented in the legislature.

Kevin Bissett, The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Incumbents and acclaimed mayors win elections all across B.C.’s north

Fraser Lake saw their first female mayor elected

Mayoral results from across B.C.

Voters in 162 municipalities in B.C. set to elect mayor, council, school board and more

Every vote counts: 10 tightest races in B.C.’s municipal elections

Peachland saw their election decided by just one vote

Ocean “Blob” returns to North Coast of B.C.

A 2,000 kilometre patch of warm ocean water could signal a warm winter in Prince Rupert

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Voting set to start in B.C. proportional representation referendum

Two-part ballots now being mailed to all registered voters

Liberals write off $6.3 billion in loans as part of money never to be collected

That includes student loans and a $2.6 billion write off that came through Export Development Canada

Category 5 Hurricane Willa threatens Mexico’s Pacific coast

Hurricane-force winds extended 30 miles (45 kilometres) from the storm’s centre

Trudeau, McKenna to announce compensation for federal carbon plan

Provinces that don’t have a carbon price of at least $20 per tonne of emissions will have Ottawa’s plan forced on them

Okanagan parachute accident kills American

Man, 34, dies in skydiving accident Saturday near Westwold, between Vernon and Kelowna

Man who died at BC Ferries terminal shot himself as police fired: watchdog

Officers didn’t commit any offence, says police watchdog office

Canada Post strikes leaves small shops in the lurch as holidays approach: CFIB

Rotating strikes began in Victoria, Edmonton, Halifax and Windsor

Voter turnout at 36% in B.C.’s municipal election

Vancouver saw 39% turnout, Surrey saw 33%

Harry and Meghan travel in different style on Australia tour

Prince Harry and his wife Meghan are on day seven of their 16-day tour of Australia and the South Pacific.

Most Read