2021-22 budget: Reinventing New Brunswick Together16 March 2021
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government tabled today its 2021-22 budget designed to continue to address public health challenges and support a strong and resilient recovery for the future, while also maintaining fiscal responsibility.
“This past year has not only highlighted the challenges we face as a province but also our ability to rise to the occasion,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “As we look to the year ahead, New Brunswickers will see a fiscal plan that demonstrates our commitment to provide the support needed to address ongoing pressures, while at the same time, positioning our province for a lasting recovery.”
Affordable, responsive, and high-performing government
The 2021-22 budget shows a projected deficit of $244.8 million. Revenues are projected to grow by 1.2 per cent, while spending is expected to grow by 3.4 per cent.
The Department of Finance and Treasury Board projects a rebound in real GDP growth of 2.9 per cent in 2021. Steeves said decisive and deliberate financial management allows the government to address the following pressing issues:
Dependable public health care
Steeves said the government is taking steps to tackle current and long-term health-care challenges by working with New Brunswickers to build a safe and sustainable health-care system that is responsive to the needs of patients and communities.
In response to the increased demand for services, about $7 million will be invested across several departments for mental health services. These investments will support the Inter-Departmental Addiction and Mental Health Action Plan: Priority Areas for 2021-2025.
Support provided in this investment include:
- $3.1 million to address the increase in complex cases, high-needs children and youth, the need for group homes, and to establish professional care homes to address the needs of children under the age of 12;
- $3 million to meet the growing demand for addiction and mental health services;
- $539,000 for the Canadian Mental Health Association BounceBack Program to help support adults and youth 15+ manage low mood, mild to moderate depression, anxiety, stress, or worry; and
- $350,000 to support recommendations from the Psychologists’ Resource Strategy to help address critical shortages in the mental health services sector, particularly in the public sector, including shortages of psychologists in schools, within community mental health teams, and in hospitals.
An additional $30 million will be provided to help alleviate ongoing cost pressures identified by regional health authorities and to address several priority projects that require additional support, including:
- additional nurse practitioner positions for remote locations;
- initiatives to reduce the volume of patients without a family doctor;
- dialysis expansion in Fredericton; and
- pediatric rehabilitation resources.
Further investments to support consistent and timely access to high-quality health services include:
- $12.4 million to increase wages for home support workers, community residence workers, special care home workers, and family support workers.
- $11.1 million for physician recruitment to address New Brunswick’s physician shortage.
- $10.3 million for the nursing home renovation and replacement plan for the operation of three new nursing home facilities. This funding will support the replacement of 214 nursing home beds in Miramichi and the addition of 148 new beds in Fredericton, Miramichi, and Moncton.
- An additional $3.2 million to support the use of the new surgical suite at the Dr. Georges-L-Dumont University Hospital Centre.
- $1.6 million to expand the Advanced Care Paramedics program.
- An additional $1.1 million to increase social assistance rates under the Transitional Assistance Program – Single Employable and the Extended Benefit Program.
The government will also provide $64 million to address ongoing COVID-19 pressures including:
- $30 million for immunization.
- $15.4 million for triage, assessment, testing, and contact tracing.
- $4.5 million to maintain resources within the Provincial Rapid Outbreak Management Teams and the COVID-19 Response Unit.
- $2.6 million to manage the increased volume of calls to Tele-Care 811.
- $1.2 million to support access to services such as Virtual Care, MyHealthNB, and eHealthNB.
Spending in other sectors includes:
- $1.7 million to support the development and delivery of distance learning opportunities.
- $1.2 million to maintain the additional technicians put in place to provide technical support to teachers and students.
- $1 million to continue support of the Laptop Subsidy Program, helping an estimated 2,000 students access technology for the upcoming year.
- A wage increase of 75 cents per hour for qualified early childhood educators.
Energized private sector
- A $20 million multi-year strategy investment to support the development of the small modular nuclear reactors sector.
- $3 million to address gaps in the broadband network and to continue the evolution of information security systems.
- $3.3 million invested through the Healthy Forests Partnership to proactively protect forests from the impact of the spruce budworm to keep New Brunswick’s forest sector sustainable and healthy for many years to come.
- A continuation of the travel incentive program in the 2021-22 fiscal-year.
- A multi-year strategic investment to establish New Brunswick’s physical presence in India and the United Kingdom to promote the province as an ideal location to invest, live, and study.
Vibrant and sustainable communities
- $10.8 million to increase the availability of affordable housing units throughout the province in conjunction with the new National Housing Strategy and the Canada Housing Benefit.
- $2.3 million to support the RCMP crime reduction unit with the goal of reducing the illegal drug supply in the province and to support the objectives outlined in the Inter-Departmental Addiction and Mental Health Action Plan: Priority Areas for 2021-2025.
- $2 million to create a Safer Communities Program to complement the crime reduction unit.
- Additional support to women, with or without children, who have left an abusive relationship.
- The province will increase its carbon-emitting products tax from $30 per tonne to $40 per tonne effective April 1, as per requirements of the federal backstop. This will result in a carbon tax increase of 2.21 cents per litre for gasoline and 2.68 cents per litre for diesel, with the tax revenue directed back to New Brunswickers.
- $36 million transferred to the Climate Change Fund.
Gender impact assessment
The government has released, for the first time, a gender impact statement that outlines Gender-Based Analysis+ impact of specific budget measures. This statement acts as a starting point for publishing gender-based information and aims to show the government’s commitment to expand its approach to gender budgeting.
“As we move past the pandemic, our goal is to re-energize our private sector, regain our momentum, create the conditions for growth and build a lasting recovery together,” said Steeves. “Our 2021-22 budget provides the necessary support to face our challenges by being prudent with taxpayers’ money, focusing on areas of greatest need, and being strategic in the choices we make.”
The 2021-22 budget speech and other relevant documents are available online.