FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government’s audited financial statements for the 2020-21 fiscal year shows a $408.5 million surplus, and a reduction in the province’s net debt.

The government also released first-quarter results for the 2021-22 fiscal year, which was adjusted to account for financial results from the audited statements for 2020-21.

“The COVID-19 pandemic presented a number of challenges our province had never previously faced,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “The surplus is related to one-time federal COVID-19 transfers and lower-than-expected spending. In fact, taxation and other own-source revenue was considerably below budget.”

Overall, due to one-time federal transfers revenues were $40.1 million higher than budgeted. Federal transfers increased by $293 million, offsetting a $253 million decline in own-source revenue.

Expenses were $276 million below budget, mainly due to lower spending in central government, education and training and health and social development. The increased spending on health and safety measures related to the COVID-19 pandemic was supported by increased federal transfers and the in-year operational savings that was realized due to reduced service demand and utilization of programs in many areas across government.

The audited financial statements comprise government departments as well as other organizations such as NB Power, school districts, health authorities and nursing homes. The consolidated surplus does not represent cash available for government spending. Surplus is a key indicator to evaluate performance.

The financial statements were prepared by the Office of the Comptroller, led by the comptroller, the chief accountant and internal auditor for the provincial government. The statements were independently audited by the Office of the Auditor General.

The first quarter results show a projected surplus of $37.7 million compared to the budgeted deficit of $244.8 million. This is due to a one-time federal influx of $148 million received in July. Without that, the province would have a deficit.

Revenue is projected to be $289.7 million higher than budgeted, and includes the $148 million one-time federal funding.

“We recognize that as we continue to battle the pandemic, it is likely we’ll see further ups and downs in the months ahead. To highlight the extent of uncertainty we are facing, I would remind New Brunswickers that some forecasters were projecting a deficit in excess of $1 billion last year,” said Steeves. “As we fight through the fourth wave of COVID-19, we know that this elevated level of uncertainty will continue. We cannot rely on one-time federal support in the future. These conditions further underscore the importance of being responsible fiscal managers, not only for today, but also for future generations. As we come out of the pandemic, we will be well-positioned to meet future challenges.”

Audited financial statements for 2020-21 are available online.

The first quarter results are available online.