The provincial government has released third-quarter results for the 2018-19 fiscal year which show a surplus of $4.5 million compared to the budgeted deficit of $188.7 million. The net debt is projected to increase by $178.5 million and reach more than $14.1 billion by March 31.

“While these results are positive, we must remain vigilant and exercise strong fiscal discipline,” said Treasury Board President Ernie Steeves. “As Premier Higgs announced in his state of the province address, this year’s and next year’s budgets will be balanced. However, balancing the books will require us to make some difficult decisions, and we do not have unlimited financial resources. Government must spend within its financial means, something that has been lacking over the past decade.”

Revenue is $277.1 million higher than budget. This is mainly due to the fact that:

·         Corporate income tax revenue is up $130.9 million because of an improvement to both prior-year and in-year revenue reflecting stronger-than-expected 2017 assessments and a higher forecast of national corporate taxable income.

·         Personal income tax revenue is up $101 million from budget due to an anticipated positive prior-year adjustment related to the 2017 taxation year and a strengthened forecast base.

·         Conditional grants are up $54.6 million due to projected recoveries under the Disaster Financial Assistance program.

Total expenses are projected to be over budget by $83.8 million. The major variances include:

·         Public Safety is over budget by $76 million mainly due to expenses incurred under the Disaster Financial Assistance program, primarily associated with the 2018 spring flood. These expenses are offset to a large extent by federal recoveries.

·         Social Development is $34.3 million over budget mainly due to high costs in the Disability Support Services program, Child Welfare Services program and Housing Services program, but partially offset by lower expenses in the Seniors and Long-Term Care Program.

·         Capital account expenses are over budget by $21.7 million mainly due to projects that are not proceeding.

The department projects real GDP growth for New Brunswick of 1.1 per cent for 2018, unchanged from the forecast in the 2018-19 budget. This is consistent with the one-per cent growth rate consensus among private sector forecasters.

The third-quarter results are available online.