FREDERICTON (GNB) – Premier Brian Gallant outlined the progress the provincial government has made over the past three years on commitments made to the people of New Brunswick.

“By working together with New Brunswickers, we have seen over the last three years the best economic growth in our province in a decade,” said Gallant.

In 2015 the New Brunswick economy grew at the third fastest rate of all the provinces in Canada. In 2016 the New Brunswick economy grew above the Canadian average rate. The New Brunswick economy is estimated to grow again in 2017.

“Since being your government, we have cut the deficit of the provincial budget in half while investing more in education and health care every year,” said Gallant.

Gallant said the government has been working hard to create consistent economic growth, jobs, and a better quality of life for New Brunswickers and their families.

As a result, he said the province’s economy is on the upswing:

  • In 2015, the GDP of the province grew at the third-fastest rate in Canada. In 2016, it grew above the Canadian average, with real GDP growth reaching 1.4 per cent. This was after New Brunswick saw economic growth hit a 10-year high in 2015.
  • The growth seen in 2016 exceeded the national growth rate and surpassed the 0.4 per cent growth projected by the government and economic analysts when the 2017-18 budget was released.
  • Private capital expenditures have rebounded, exceeding 2013 levels in 2014 and 2016. In 2015, they reached almost $2 billion, a level not seen since 2011.
  • Average weekly earnings were up by 2.3 per cent in 2016 – compared to 2.8 per cent growth in 2015 – and above the national result of 0.4 per cent. Tied with Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick had the highest growth in average weekly earnings countrywide in 2016.

Some of the measures the provincial government has taken to support job creation include:

  • Reduced the small business income tax rate by 33 per cent to drive growth, allowing entrepreneurs to invest and create jobs.
  • Increased the minimum wage three times since December 2014 to put more money in New Brunswicker’s pockets.
  • Increased taxes for the richest one per cent so the government can invest in the economy, health care and education.
  • Increased investment in the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, as well as in infrastructure, reflecting the government’s commitment to developing tourism in New Brunswick.
  • Implementing and maintaining pay equity as part of an ongoing government commitment to achieving equality for women in the province, giving a better quality of life to women, children and families.
  • Developed a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy with industry leaders, academia and government to help establish New Brunswick as an epicentre of cybersecurity and create high-value jobs.
  • Supported the Sisson Mine Project as it will create jobs and generate business opportunities for the province.

The government is investing more in education than ever before in the province’s history, including:

  • Creating 10-year education plans so that young people have the strongest education system possible.
  • Investing more than $292 million to upgrade current schools and build new ones in the past three years.
  • Entering into a $71 million three-year bilateral early learning and childcare agreement with the federal government.
  • Created the Free Tuition Program and the Tuition Relief for the Middle Class program, to provide upfront assistance to New Brunswick students, making post-secondary education more accessible and affordable.
  • Developed the Youth Employment Fund to give youth more opportunity to stay in New Brunswick and the chance to get hands-on work experience.
  • Launched Unleashing the power of literacy: New Brunswick’s Comprehensive Literacy Strategy to improve literacy rates in the province.
  • Teaching trades in schools to better prepare young people for future opportunities and investing to upgrade and build trade spaces in schools.

The government is also contributing to the quality of life in the province by:

  • Investing $56 million with the federal government in affordable housing to give the most vulnerable a place to live.
  • Actively recruiting more women into positions of influence in the province.
  • Introducing Family Day, a statutory holiday beginning in February 2018 to recognize New Brunswick families.
  • Bringing in two new acts, the Local Governance Act and the Community Planning Act, which replaced the former Municipalities Act and Community Planning Act. This is the first update in 40 years and is intended to provide appropriate, effective powers and responsibilities to local governance.
  • Amending the Motor Vehicle Act to improve safety for cyclists by creating what is known as “Ellen’s law” in memory of New Brunswick cyclist Ellen Watters, who died in December as a result of her injuries from a motor vehicle while she was on a training ride near Sussex.
  • Tabling the Intimate Partner Violence Act to provide victims of intimate partner violence with additional tools to increase their safety while they seek more permanent solutions.
  • Enhancing animal protection by amending the Society for the Prevention and Cruelty to Animals Act and the Municipalities Act.
  • Expanded the Integrated Service Delivery model, which features a team of intervention and support professionals collaborating in the community to provide mental health, addiction, social and emotional support, and other services to children and youth.
  • Signed a 10-year Bilateral Health Agreement with the federal government that will bring an estimated additional investment of $230 million for home care and mental health to New Brunswick.
  • Created the New Brunswick Seniors’ Home Renovation Tax Credit to help senior’s make their homes safer and more accessible, so that they can stay in them for longer.

“We are investing to help families afford childcare, to increase literacy rates, and to reintroduce trades in our schools,” said Gallant. “We have allowed nurse practitioners, advanced care paramedics, pharmacists, and midwives to play the roles they have been trained to play in our health-care system.”

The hard work is paying off, said Gallant, as the Conference Board of Canada has named New Brunswick the top ranked province in their society index, giving the province an A+ for life satisfaction. This report confirms what New Brunswickers already know: that this province is a great place to live, work, and raise a family.

“Our efforts over the last three years demonstrate that we are listening, that we understand what is important to the people of this province, and that our actions are paying off,” said Finance Minister Cathy Rogers. “We know there are challenges, but there are also opportunities ahead. By working together, we will continue moving forward with positive changes for New Brunswick.”