FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government has released third-quarter results for the 2020-21 fiscal year which show a projected deficit of $12.7 million compared to the budgeted surplus of $92.4 million. The net debt is projected to reach $13.9 billion, an increase of $209.9 million from budget.

“This past year, our focus has been on safely restoring our economy and ensuring the health and safety of New Brunswickers,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “With the emergence of new variants of the virus there remains a high degree of uncertainty in the outlook and we must continue to be prudent and vigilant in managing our finances.”

Revenue is projected to be $19.7 million lower than budget mainly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The major variances include decreased projections for provincial taxes, agency revenues and sale of goods and services, offset by federal funding, including the Safe Restart Agreement, the Safe Return to Class Fund, and the essential workers wage top-up.

Total expenses are projected to be over budget by $85.4 million, the majority of which is offset by federal revenue from the Safe Restart Agreement, the Safe Return to Class Fund, and the essential workers wage top-up in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Since the onset of COVID-19, our government has been working with all sectors in the province to minimize the impact and to safely support New Brunswick’s economy,” said Steeves. “As we enter our second year of the pandemic, the prudent fiscal management we have demonstrated so far will provide added flexibility in supporting our economic recovery.”

The Department of Finance and Treasury Board projects real GDP growth for New Brunswick of -3.9 per cent for 2020, an improvement over second-quarter expectation. The average of private sector forecasts is now -3.5 per cent. The third-quarter results are available online.