FREDERICTON (CNB) – The province's financial health has worsened, particularly over the last two years, to the point it must be addressed, according to the report tabled in the legislative assembly today by Auditor General Kim MacPherson.

"If not addressed, it will eventually impact the province's ability to meet the public's demand for services and its financial commitments to creditors and employees," said MacPherson. "There is an immediate need for the province to develop a plan to improve its financial health. I appreciate that the government has committed itself to getting the province's financial situation under control, but this needs to translate into action."

MacPherson also said that Business New Brunswick must improve when it comes to protecting the province's interest in the companies receiving government support. She audited the department’s Financial Assistance to Industry Program which pays out millions of taxpayer dollars each year to support economic development throughout the province.

"Although there is some improvement since our 1998 audit, there are still weaknesses," said MacPherson. “The report also indicates the need for Business New Brunswick to report publicly on the value of this spending, such as the actual number of jobs created or maintained.

“The information should be in Business New Brunswick's annual report so the public, as well as the legislative assembly, can judge how effective our tax dollars have been in creating employment."

Another chapter of the report focuses on the Provincial Nominee Program, which is used to attract immigrants to the province. MacPherson said the Population Growth Secretariat does a good job processing applications but does not track the arrival of these immigrants in the province.

"We do not know if the immigrants ever settle here and contribute economically,” she said. “This means we cannot determine if the program is achieving its objective to increase the economic benefits of immigration to New Brunswick."

The full report contains two volumes. Volume 1 focuses on matters arising from the annual financial audit of the province and Crown agencies. Volume 2 reports on four program audits completed during 2010. Both volumes are available on the Auditor General website.


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