Office of the Premier
Throne speech highlights / first session of the 58th legislature03 December 2014
FREDERICTON (GNB) — Moving New Brunswick forward with a plan to create the right conditions for job growth, a plan to achieve fiscal balance and a plan that will put families and communities back to work are the major themes of the 2014-15 speech from the throne.
The throne speech opened the first session of the 58th legislature today.
“The plan is now in place to get New Brunswick moving forward again,” said Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. “It is a plan that focuses, first and foremost, on putting more New Brunswickers to work.”
The speech from the throne details the provincial government’s legislative and policy agenda for the next year as part of its plan to move New Brunswick forward.
“The enormous potential of our province will be realized once we turn the page on old approaches that have not worked,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Our plan to move New Brunswick forward involves creating the right conditions for job growth, gaining control of our expenses, and putting our families and communities back to work.”
“We have a great challenge ahead of us and we have hit the ground running, guided by a focused job-creation plan that is responsible, achievable and balanced,” said Gallant.
Following are the highlights of the throne speech:
A New Brunswick Jobs Board has been established to be accountable for all job-creation work undertaken by the provincial government. The board is charged with improving the co-ordination of the government’s province-wide efforts in job-creation, and with evaluating its successes and failures.
Opportunities New Brunswick will be pursuing opportunities and supporting business growth in the province.
The government will invest in the people of New Brunswick by addressing the skills gap. It will provide better skills training for the jobs today, and train people for the jobs that will come tomorrow.
A Youth Employment Fund will be in place beginning in 2015 to offer job placements for 1,500 young New Brunswickers to obtain valuable work experience and training every year. This fund will also help businesses who are looking for young, skilled workers.
A 10-year plan for education will be developed in collaboration with stakeholders and experts in early-childhood and education. The plan will build on previous successes and encompass the early years as much as it does the later ones, creating an essential link in the system between schools, colleges, universities, and other training programs.
The government will put a focus on innovation and technology in the public education system, through initiatives like introducing coding as an essential skill so that students have access to the skills required to be successful in the knowledge economy.
As part of the innovation agenda, the government will work to accelerate the growth of innovation-based entrepreneurship and create the conditions for the commercialization of current and future research in the province’s universities and research centres.
The government supports the responsible development of the energy and natural resource opportunities in the province and recognizes the importance of engaging First Nations in those discussions.
The small business corporate income tax rate will be lowered to 2.5 per cent over the next four years to develop an environment where small businesses can thrive and create jobs in their communities.
The government has put increased emphasis on identifying and freezing the various annual fees that hamper small-business growth, and eliminating any burdensome red-tape that might slow them down.
The New Brunswick Drug Plan and the New Brunswick Forestry plan will be re-evaluated by government to ensure that they are as fair and as sustainable as possible.
An Infrastructure Investment Fund will be created to ensure that before an infrastructure project is approved, it must demonstrate that it creates jobs, improves safety, and/or saves money in the long-term.
The Northern and Miramichi Economic Development Funds will be renewed and refocused to provide strategic assistance to this region which is experiencing higher unemployment than the rest of the province.
The minimum wage will be increased to $10.30 per hour by the end of 2014 to help working New Brunswickers make ends meet – and to re-inject more of their collective earnings back into the New Brunswick economy.
A program that provides tax breaks on renovations costing up to $10,000 will be developed to help seniors stay in their homes longer and create many jobs.
The home energy efficiency retrofit programs will be reinstated to reduce energy use and lower costs for consumers starting in April, 2015. The program will focus particularly on helping low-income New Brunswickers make their homes more energy efficient.
The government will take steps to ensure that the voices of women are heard on policy-making bodies, including the appointment of more women to provincial agencies, boards and commissions.
A smaller cabinet has been established in government to allow for both increased efficiency and reduced expenses. The process to approve travel by government employees will also be tightened to realize further savings.
As a means to govern smarter and to control expenses, a centralization process aimed at grouping common functions from across government related to communications, information technology, policy development, human resources and financial services is underway.
An increase in income taxes paid by the richest one per cent of New Brunswickers will be implemented and a tax break previously granted to large corporations will be rescinded to increase government revenues.
A comprehensive review of all government programs, services, and processes will be launched with a goal of identifying at least $250 million in savings across government.
“Our province needs to diversify its economy by protecting and strengthening our traditional sectors, and developing emerging ones. This will make our economy more resilient in hard times, better able to seize opportunities in good times and stronger overall,” said Roy Vienneau.
“New Brunswick has an opportunity to break free from a cycle of job losses, deficits and population decline and embark on a new cycle filled with hope and promise. Your government’s top priority is creating jobs so that our province can provide a quality of life without comparison for all our citizens.”
EDITOR'S NOTE: The complete text of the speech from the throne is available online.