FREDERICTON (GNB) – In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the provincial government has released an economic and fiscal update showing a significant change in New Brunswick’s financial outlook compared to the path outlined in the 2020-21 budget.

“We are facing a situation unlike anything we have experienced before,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “The impacts of the pandemic are only beginning to be understood, and it will take more time to fully comprehend the effects on our economy and our finances.”

Projections for the 2020-21 fiscal year now forecast a deficit of $299.2 million compared to the budgeted surplus of $92.4 million.

Revenue is projected to be $291.4 million lower than budgeted because of pandemic-related effects. This is largely due to lower projections for provincial taxes, agency revenues, licences and permits, and interest revenue.

Expenses are projected to be over budget by $100.2 million, of which $39.5 million is offset by federal revenue. This is largely due to increased expenditures in response to the pandemic.

The net debt is projected to reach $14.1 billion, an increase of $266.7 million over the 2019-20 level.

The Department of Finance and Treasury Board estimates that real GDP growth will be -4.3 per cent for 2020. The average real GDP forecast among private sector forecasters is -5.5 per cent.

“This crisis underscores the importance of building fiscal flexibility and being disciplined during stable economic times,” said Steeves. “We are committed to providing support to New Brunswickers during this crisis while remaining strong fiscal managers to secure a brighter future.”

The latest fiscal and economic update is available online.