FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government released a 2018 update to New Brunswick’s Economic Growth Plan, showing progress in a number of sectors, driven by a strong framework and co-ordinated efforts to support innovation, opportunity and job creation.

“We are investing through our multi-year economic growth plan to grow the economy in a way that works for all New Brunswickers,” said Premier Brian Gallant. “Growing the economy and creating jobs are important so we can keep our young people here and bring New Brunswickers who have left for work back to our province. Since October of 2014, the economy is 5.5 per cent larger than it was before; wages and exports have gone up every year; the unemployment rate has gone down, and New Brunswick has seen its largest population ever recorded.”

New Brunswick’s Economic Growth Plan was launched in 2016 following consultation with hundreds of stakeholders including youth, entrepreneurs, academia, community, business and aboriginal leaders. It outlined a value-added model for economic development that focused on collaborating with private sector partners to develop new opportunities.

“Playing to our strengths and natural advantages, we are advancing a plan to grow our economy, create jobs and make sure this province continues to be a great place to live, work and raise a family,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “Your government is committed to growing our economy, and we will continue make crucial investments to help spur our province’s economic competitiveness.”

The 2018 update shows growth in many sectors, especially cybersecurity, business support services, tourism, cannabis and local food and beverages.

This growth is reflected in 2017 key economic indicators:

·         The economy continued to expand, with real GDP growth of 1.9 per cent. The New Brunswick economy is now 5.5 per cent larger than it was in 2014.

·         Wages and salaries increased by 3.3 per cent. This is the second consecutive year of growth greater than three per cent.

·         The unemployment rate decreased for the fourth consecutive year, falling to 8.1 per cent. The unemployment rate as been under 10 per cent for over 20 consecutive months.

·         The population has grown for the second consecutive year, reaching an all-time high of 759,655.

·         Public and private capital investment increased for the fourth year in a row to $3.6 billion.

Also in 2017, manufacturing sales improved for the first time in four years, climbing to $18.8 billion in 2017 with average weekly earnings up 4.5 per cent in this sector.

The plan also identified key pillars where the government intends to direct policies, programs and projects to support growth. These include:

·         People – strengthen the province’s workforce;

·         Innovation – expand the capacity for the generation of ideas and innovation;

·         Capital – increase private-sector investment;

·         Infrastructure – foster investment from the public and private sectors in strategic infrastructure; and

·         Agility – foster agility and nimbleness in the public sector and across the economy.

The 2018 update shows movement in many of these areas as the government launched programs to support New Brunswickers in achieving their education and employment goals. This includes two programs the government anticipates will have far-reaching effects on the province’s labour force and skill levels, the Free Tuition and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class programs for post-secondary education students, and the New Brunswick Early Learning Centre programs, offering free and subsidized child care for most parents.