FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government’s 2015-16 capital budget totals $597.1 million, an increase over the previous year in support of strategic infrastructure investments which will create jobs and properly repair and maintain existing infrastructure.

“The increased investment will help kick-start our economy and move New Brunswick forward,” said Finance Minister Roger Melanson. “We will be investing in much-needed maintenance work, as recommended by the Auditor General, as well as new priority projects to stimulate job creation, improve our fiscal situation, and make life better for New Brunswick families.”

A new Strategic Infrastructure Initiative, a commitment in the document Moving New Brunswick Forward, will invest almost $600 million over the next four years, creating up to 1,750 jobs per year and contributing $120 million annually to the provincial economy. The investment from this fund will total $114.6 million for 2015-16, with a possibility for further investment if funds can be leveraged from other sources.

“A big part of the new Strategic Infrastructure Initiative will be invested in our roads, bridges and in improving energy efficiency in our public buildings,” Melanson said. “This initiative may also be used for other infrastructure investment opportunities that demonstrate their ability to increase our provincial exports, focus on innovation and research and development, as well as leverage new technologies.”

Within the capital budget, $409.5 million will be allocated to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure mainly for the maintenance and repair of transportation infrastructure by fully implementing the province’s asset management system. The government will also invest $95.9 million in schools, $60.2 million in health-care facilities and $5.6 million in universities and community colleges. An investment of $11.8 million will focus on energy retrofits and renewable energy projects for public buildings, leading to local jobs for contractors, and suppliers, long-term operational efficiencies and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

“Through this capital budget, we are making investments that will help build a New Brunswick with more jobs, more opportunity and greater hope,” Melanson said.

The 2015-16 capital budget addresses a commitment to develop a multi-year infrastructure plan by also projecting investments that will be made through to 2018-19. Work has also begun on developing a 10-year infrastructure plan.