FREDERICTON (GNB) – Today’s speech from the throne outlines a path for a better tomorrow by focusing on practical, collaborative solutions to five major challenges facing New Brunswick.

The speech from the throne opened the second session of the 59th legislature and was read in the legislative assembly on behalf of the government by Lt.-Gov. Jocelyne Roy Vienneau.

“The residents of New Brunswick opened a new era of politics by electing a legislative assembly with a diversity of parties and viewpoints,” said Roy Vienneau. “This new era will require hard work and honest debate, as well as a willingness to explore diverse opinions and embrace opportunities for creative compromise and new solutions. It will also require the party with executive power to share the ability to make decisions and for other parties to share the responsibility for finding solutions.”

The speech from the throne details the provincial government’s legislative and policy agenda to tackle five key challenges of: restoring balanced budgets, ensuring a robust private-sector economy, delivering accessible health care and world-class education systems, while ensuring a high quality of life for all residents of New Brunswick.

“When we give people and communities the freedom to dream bigger and do better, nothing is impossible,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “That is also true in the legislature. The certainty of the two-party era is now part of our past. Working together, we will embrace the creative potential of this new era of many voices and a common purpose.”

The five priority areas and major initiatives outlined in the throne speech include:

Establishing balanced sustainability for the province’s finances

  • Table a balanced budget by March of 2020 or sooner.
  • Launch an interactive pre-budget process in early 2019.
  • Develop clear, measurable goals for departments and publicly track progress so New Brunswickers can see change happen.
  • Restore an updated and improved Fiscal Transparency and Accountability Act.
  • Increase and sustain the budget of the auditor general to ensure bad practices and wasteful spending are detected and corrected.

Energizing the private sector

  • Phase-out the small business tax and the double property tax on secondary properties.
  • Take a leadership role in eliminating trade barriers between provinces.
  • Review the mandate of Opportunities New Brunswick and stimulate research-based and green-economy jobs.
  • Develop a tourism strategy that focuses upon building sustainable, physical and cultural infrastructure in cities and small communities.
  • Join the growing coalition of provinces opposed to the carbon tax.
  • Establish an all-party committee to develop a strategy to continue to meet emission targets by 2030 and develop a model for a proper scientific review of glyphosate.
  • Create a legislative officer responsible for science and climate change and restore the independent public health system.
  • Set targets for reducing WorkSafe premiums and work with labour and business to ensure the focus is on strengthening safe work practices.

Making public health care accessible and dependable:

  • Review the billing number system and work with doctors on alternatives to billing numbers.
  • Work with regional health authorities to prioritize expenditures to reduce wait times.
  • Engage the nurses' union, regional health authorities and post-secondary institutions to develop a plan to eliminate barriers to training and recruiting nurses.
  • Increase the role of health professionals such as pharmacists and nurse practitioners to reduce wait times and costs.
  • Review the Medavie Health Services New Brunswick contract for home care services.
  • Introduce a common-sense solution to ambulance service delivery that protects lives and respects constitutional rights.
  • Develop a plan for improved home care for seniors.
  • Ensure federal dollars earmarked for mental health are spent on mental health services and review youth mental health services to ensure they are as accessible as possible for young people and their families.

Building a world-class education system

  • Improve early literacy to achieve the goal of 85 per cent of students reading at grade level by the end of Grade 2.
  • Allow easy public access to literacy, math and science scores.
  • Create a Classroom Freedom Act, a set of amendments to the Education Act to give principals, teachers and parents more freedom to make local choices that best reflect the needs of children and the community.
  • Establish a teacher-driven red tape reduction review to reduce mandated curriculum directives.
  • Undertake an evidence-based review of existing programs for post-secondary education.

Giving every New Brunswicker a pathway to the middle class

  • Restart the poverty reduction process through all-party collaboration on changes to social assistance.
  • Amend the Family Services Act to give the courts more options to provide for the safety and care of children.
  • Re-open the Provincial Nominee Program and review programs that help new arrivals start businesses and succeed.
  • Establish a committee to review the Report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission to ensure that recommendations within New Brunswick’s jurisdiction are met.

The complete text of the speech from the throne is available online.