FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government is increasing the budgets of the wellness and sports branches by 25 per cent in 2012-13. Culture, Tourism and Healthy Living Minister Trevor Holder made the announcement while releasing the department’s latest budget estimates.

"Our government's commitment has been to double the budgets for wellness and sport, and today, I am pleased to confirm that for a second year, an additional 25 per cent has been added to these budgets," said Holder. "This funding increase, in the context of an overall reduction in our budget, is being invested directly in prevention and in improving the wellness of New Brunswickers. As well, investments in sport and recreation will help encourage people of all ages to live healthier and be more active. These investments will pay benefits in terms of a healthier population and reduced reliance on primary health care."

It has been estimated that for every $1 spent on wellness, $12 in health-care savings can be achieved.

The minister highlighted how a new tourism advertising agency model will help streamline marketing initiatives and result in savings. He also highlighted the provincial government's commitment to renewing its cultural policy.

"This year, our government will undertake a comprehensive renewal of the cultural policy that was drafted in 2002," said Holder. "The preliminary work is underway, and New Brunswickers will be encouraged to take part in one of seven public sessions or to review the discussion paper online and enter their comments."

The amalgamation of the former departments of tourism and parks and wellness, culture and sport has resulted in a 1.5-per-cent reduction in department spending from 2011-12.

"As a government and as a department, we will live within our means while delivering programs and services to enhance the quality of life for New Brunswickers and fostering a stronger economy," said Holder. "We continue to evaluate our programs and services and their delivery to ensure we are wisely spending the taxpayers' dollars."