FREDERICTON (GNB) – Repairing the province’s finances in order to invest in the priorities of New Brunswickers is the major theme of the 2015-16 speech from the throne.

The throne speech opened the second session of the 58th legislature today.

“The upcoming legislative session will mark the end of the decision phase of the Strategic Program Review initiative,” said Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau. “With the help of New Brunswickers, your government plans to restore a sound fiscal foundation in this province.”

The speech from the throne details the provincial government’s legislative and policy agenda for the next year as part of its plan to invest in New Brunswick’s priorities.

”The next months are about making choices,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Choices that are not easy but that are necessary to build a strong fiscal foundation for our future. Once we have turned the page on this effort, we can turn our attention to continued investments in job creation, health and education.”

The throne speech underlined that the first sitting of this session of the legislature would focus on completing the Strategic Program Review. The provincial government has released a report outlining the major choices to be considered in making the decisions necessary to repair the province’s finances, including:

  • reducing the size of government through administrative efficiencies, fewer senior executives and merging duplicate functions;
  • decreasing the amount of money transferred to universities and municipalities;
  • undertaking efficiency and rationalization measures in the health care and education systems; and
  • raising revenues such as the harmonized sales tax, tolls, corporate income taxes and other taxes.

“Some of these choices may seem relatively straightforward, others are very difficult,” said Gallant. “Unfortunately, we will have to choose some of the more difficult choices if we are to be successful in investing in job creation and services for families.”

After the conclusion of Strategic Program Review in the fall-winter sitting of the legislature, the provincial government will undertake some of the following initiatives in the spring sitting which are also highlighted in the throne speech.

Creating jobs and economic opportunity:

  • Economic growth opportunities will be reviewed and evaluated for development as part of an economic plan for the province developed by the Jobs Board.
  • A new focused innovation strategy and approach to help the province become more innovative and competitive in the global economy will be developed.
  • Export strategies will be revised to ensure New Brunswick enterprises are in a position to benefit from the opportunities available from the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement with the European Union and the Trans Pacific Partnership with developing Asian markets.
  • A focus on increasing immigration in the province and a strategy to accommodate up to 1,500 Syrian refugees in New Brunswick and help them build a new life here.
  • A new Climate Change Action Plan will be released to provide a road map of concrete actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the resilience of New Brunswick to climate change through adaptation efforts while ensuring continued economic competitiveness and growth.
  • Work will continue with First Nation communities to advance opportunities in the areas of education, training, culture and language preservation, economic development and partnerships.

Investing in priorities like health and education:

  • A 10-year education plan will be developed to bring stability to New Brunswick’s school system.
  • An aggressive literacy strategy will be developed.
  • The province’s four publicly-funded post-secondary institutions will be required to appear annually before the standing committee on public accounts.
  • A new council on aging will be instrumental in developing a new strategy on aging.

“Setting New Brunswick on the road to a bright future is within our grasp but there is still work to be done,” said Roy Vienneau. “Choices need to be made and there are opportunities at our fingertips. Your government is committed to making these with the participation of New Brunswickers. We all have a role to play in making the decisions necessary to get New Brunswick back on its feet financially and living within our means.”

EDITOR'S NOTE: The complete text of the speech from the throne is available online.