FREDERICTON (GNB) – The fourth session of the 58th legislative assembly closed today with 43 bills passed and a focus on the economy, education and health care.

“As your government, we have continued to invest in our multi-year economic growth plan, our 10-year education plans, and our plan to improve the quality and accessibility of health care in the province,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Working together, we are moving New Brunswick forward.

During the session, the government tabled the 2018-19 provincial budget. The budget was intended to accent communities and families by making strategic investments designed to enhance the competitiveness of the province’s economy, support youth and seniors and lead to improved economic and social outcomes.

Some of the legislation that has passed and received royal assent this session includes:

Accountability and Transparency

  • Legislation designed to better inform New Brunswickers about promises made by political parties during election campaigns. The Transparency in Election Commitments Act requires political parties to publish and file cost estimates for their election promises. Each registered political party is required to do this in order to qualify for its annual allowance under the Political Process Financing Act.
  • Legislation that freezes salaries for provincially elected officials retroactively for 2015 and 2016 and until 2021, which totals 13 years.
  • Amended the Financial Administration Act to prohibit any special pensions or payments to staff during transitions in government.

Economy, Employment and Labour

  • Lowered the small business corporate income tax rate to 2.5 per cent effective April 1, 2018. This is the fourth cut to this rate since Jan. 1, 2015.
  • Amended the Industrial Relations Act to include first contract arbitration with the intention of promoting fairness and better relationships between workers and employers when they first enter into collective bargaining.
  • Created a legislative framework for recreational-use cannabis in anticipation of the federal government legalizing such use. The framework includes three new acts – the Cannabis Management Corporation Act, Cannabis Control Act, and Cannabis Education and Awareness Fund Act – and amendments to two existing acts, the New Brunswick Liquor Corporation Act and Motor Vehicle Act.
  • Strengthened conflict of interest rules governing members of the legislative assembly. An Act to Amend the Members’ Conflict of Interest Act prohibits sitting members from lobbying or from being employed by a business or organization that engages in lobbying. The bill also prohibits lobbying of any kind, in or outside New Brunswick, in relation to matters connected to the province by former members of the legislative assembly for 12-months after their ceasing to be a member.
  • Amended the Employment Standards Act to include domestic, intimate partner or sexual violence leave, and update unpaid leave provisions.

Quality of Life

  • Regulated the possession and ownership of exotic species in New Brunswick with the new Exotic Animals Act, which strengthens safeguards for public safety, human health, and the health and safety of native species and their habitats.
  • Modernized the provincial ticketing process by amending the Provincial Offences Procedures Act. These amendments establish a new streamlined process for contesting motor vehicle infraction tickets in court. The legislation also allows for tickets to be generated electronically, as is done in other Canadian jurisdictions.
  • Modernized the Land Titles Act and Registry Act to allow official documents to be submitted electronically to the new provincial land registration office.
  • Amended the Residential Tenancies Act to allow landlords and tenants to serve official notices or documents electronically.
  • Froze property tax assessments for one year to help restore public confidence in the property assessment process.
  • Introduced climate change legislation that adopts the federal government’s intensity targets for large industrial emitters, requiring them to be among the cleanest in the country or pay to offset their pollution. There will be no new direct tax on consumers; instead, the government will redirect existing taxes on gasoline and diesel to fund programs that combat climate change.
  • Consolidated the enforcement of bylaws relating to dangerous or unsightly premises under the Local Governance Act.

“The government is listening to the people of this province and in this session continued to get things done in areas that are a priority for New Brunswickers,” said government house leader Rick Doucet. “We have worked hard to continue the economic growth we have seen over the last three years, as well as to invest strategically to strengthen education and health care in our province.”