FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government today released the What Was Said report which summarizes the input received during the Strategic Program Review tour which took place in January and February.

“I thank the thousands of New Brunswickers who took part in the public dialogue sessions for their input, creative ideas and innovative suggestions,” said Health Minister Victor Boudreau, who is also minister responsible for the Strategic Program Review. “These contributions will be helpful as we work to correct our fiscal situation. We have tough decisions ahead of us and our government will continue to engage the public on this important issue.”

The review’s goal is to improve the government’s financial position by between $500 million and $600 million and achieve a balanced budget.

During Phase 1 of the review, more than 1,200 people attended the public dialogue sessions; more than 100 representatives attended the stakeholder meetings; more than 9,000 ideas were submitted online, by email or mail; and 28 groups hosted complementary sessions.

A summary of the input received through that process is included in the What Was Said report. The following are the most frequently mentioned ideas submitted by the public:

  • invest more in agriculture – promote healthy eating and local products;
  • focus on wellness;
  • invest in local businesses and create more New Brunswick products;
  • reduce duplication in the health and education systems;
  • raise the HST;
  • implement tolls on highways;
  • promote New Brunswick – invest in tourism and improve the province’s image;
  • increase corporate taxes – stop giving tax breaks to large companies;
  • increase royalties – don’t give away our natural resources; and
  • ensure better collaboration between government departments.

“There is still a lot of work to be done,” said Boudreau. “Over the coming months, departments will be developing proposals on how to find savings while meeting the needs of New Brunswickers. These proposals will be about providing the best programs and services, not simply reducing the budget across the board and trying to do more with less.”

Phase 2 of public engagement will consist of a provincial forum with key stakeholders and experts to discuss the challenges the province faces and the ideas raised during Phase 1. The third phase of public engagement will allow New Brunswickers the opportunity to provide input on specific options being considered.

Decisions will be made in time to be implemented in the 2016-17 budget.

New Brunswickers are encouraged to visit the website for more information and ongoing updates.