FREDERICTON (GNB) – As New Brunswickers prepare to honour the sacrifices made by the Armed Forces on Remembrance Day, the provincial government has announced the latest in a series of initiatives to support the military community.

"Our government will continue to work with Royal Canadian legions and veterans' organizations to help and honour those who have sacrificed so much for our country," Premier David Alward said during an announcement at the Royal Canadian Legion, Branch No. 4, in Fredericton.

The provincial government will re-classify the property tax assessment reduction category of Royal Canadian legions to 100 per cent from their previous designation of 90 per cent. The exemption will help them cope with rising operation and maintenance costs.

“There are 55 branches of the Royal Canadian Legion across the province that will directly benefit from this tax cut,” said Alward. “This initiative will have a great impact on the 11,000 members of the Royal Canadian Legion New Brunswick Command.”

“We value our veterans, and we value the Legion,” said Brian Macdonald, legislative secretary to the premier for intergovernmental affairs and military affairs. “This is one more example of the many initiatives we have taken to honour and support our veterans, our military, our emergency services and their families, not just with words but with tangible programs.”

In November 2012, the provincial government expanded the Family and Youth Capital Assistance Program – which had been providing funding for family and youth groups to renovate or refurbish their facilities – to include veterans’ groups. Eligible groups may apply for non-repayable contributions of up to 50 per cent of total approved costs to a maximum of $50,000. To date, 14 legions have used the program for a total of $169,900.

Last month, the provincial government invested $50,000 in Helmets to Hardhats Canada. This national, not-for-profit organization provides apprenticeship training to current and former members of the Armed Forces and Reserves who are seeking a civilian career in the building and construction trades. The investment was funded through the Canada-New Brunswick Labour Market Development Agreement.
                        
Earlier this week, the provincial government introduced an amendment to the Fish and Wildlife Act that will allow New Brunswick-born serving members of the Canadian Armed Forces and RCMP to apply for draws and obtain hunting, fishing and trapping licences – the same as any New Brunswick resident – regardless where they live or serve. Under the current provisions of the act, only individuals who live in New Brunswick or were born and own real property in the province may obtain resident licences.

Other recent provincial government initiatives benefitting the military community:

●    establishing a legislative secretary to the premier responsible for military affairs;
●    introducing job protection legislation for reservists that provides annual leave for training;
●    dedicating the Trans-Canada Highway within New Brunswick as the Highway of Heroes in honour of those who have died in the line of duty;
●    granting high school students academic credit for cadet training;
●    holding annual ceremonies at the legislative assembly in observance of V-E Day (Victory in Europe Day); and
●    holding the first annual Emergency Services Day in honour of those responders who serve communities during crises.