REVISED / 2022-23 budget: Building on Success22 March 2022
FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government tabled today its 2022-23 budget which aims to continue the progress the province has made in building a stronger economy and vibrant communities, while also improving health care and protecting the most vulnerable.
“The steps we have taken with each successive budget have led us to this budget, where we are now building on success,” said Finance and Treasury Board Minister Ernie Steeves. “We have been responsible with our finances and reduced the level of net debt. These accomplishments have been achieved despite managing through a global pandemic that no one saw coming.”
Economic and fiscal conditions
The 2022-23 budget shows a projected surplus of $35.2 million. Revenues are projected to grow by 1.2 per cent, while spending is expected to grow by 5.5 per cent.
Notable economic developments over the past year include population growth that recently hit a 45-year high, putting the province on the cusp of having its population surpass 800,000. Employment hit an all-time high in November, and housing activity is setting records.
The Department of Finance and Treasury Board projects real GDP growth of 2.2 per cent in 2022.
Steeves said the budget is about maintaining momentum and positioning the province for ongoing sustainable growth by addressing the following issues:
A growing economy and vibrant communities
• $10 million has been allotted to continue modernizing local governance.
• $3 million will be spent on preventative maintenance on bridges around the province.
• $4 million will expand the summer brush cutting program.
• $47 million will be invested in the Climate Change Fund, to support climate-related initiatives.
• The province will increase its carbon-emitting products tax from $40 per tonne to $50 per tonne effective April 1, as per requirements of the federal government.
• As part of the recycling of carbon tax revenue, the basic personal amount and Low-Income Tax Reduction threshold will increase effective for the 2022 taxation year, providing an estimated $40 million in personal income tax relief to over 400,000 taxpayers.
• $1 million is allotted to assist with the settlement, integration, and retention of newcomers.
• $200,000 will be used to support international student retention aimed at retaining skilled newcomers.
• There will be a 26 per cent increase in the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture’s budget when nonrecurring COVID-related spending is excluded.
• $5 million is allotted to accelerate capital investments focused on improving productivity and generating long-term sustainable growth.
• $343 million is allotted to increase the wages of the public service.
• $3.3 million will be used to support expanded enforcement efforts in combatting drug-related crime in New Brunswick.
• $1.3 million is earmarked to enhance the government’s IT security risk management and cyber incident response.
Initiatives in other sectors includes:
• The government will phase in provincial property tax rate reductions over three years beginning with the current property taxation year. This will result in:
o A 50 per cent provincial property tax rate reduction for non-owner-occupied residential properties, including apartment buildings and other rental properties.
o A 15 per cent provincial property tax rate reduction for other residential properties, including nursing homes.
o A 15 per cent provincial property tax rate reduction for non-residential properties.
These measures will reduce provincial property tax revenue by an estimated $45 million in 2022-23 and $112 million once mature. The government will also introduce a one-year cap, retroactive to January 1, 2022, on the allowable increase to rent of 3.8 per cent which is equivalent to the growth in the Consumer Price Index in 2021.
• In addition, the government will introduce further amendments to the Residential Tenancies Act to:
o Eliminate the ability of landlords to terminate a tenancy without cause.
o Allow a tenant to apply to the Residential Tenancies Tribunal to order a landlord to compensate for losses caused by termination without cause.
o Introduce penalties to landlords for non-compliance.
• To further support growth in housing stock, the government will increase spending on affordable housing by $6.3 million this year.
• Opportunities New Brunswick has been provided the flexibility through its loan guarantees to support and stimulate workforce housing opportunities in rural New Brunswick.
The budget allocates more than $3.2 billion to the health-care system, a 6.4 per cent increase over the third quarter projection and the largest increase since 2008-09.
Support in this investment includes:
• $38 million on the plan Stabilizing Health Care: An Urgent Call to Action which outlines a path forward to stabilize and rebuild New Brunswick’s health-care system to be more citizen-focused, accessible, accountable, inclusive and service-oriented.
• $3.7 million to enhance and redirect resources towards multi-disciplinary, team-based community care.
• $1.9 million to expand mental health crisis care response services, bringing the budget for addiction services and mental health to $174 million.
New Brunswick continues to be one of the provinces with the largest proportion of seniors. Investments to increase the supply and quality of senior care include:
• $4.1 million to continue the work outlined in the government’s nursing home plan.
• $9.7 million to increase the hours of care in nursing homes.
The government is also taking steps to support vulnerable populations by providing:
• $38.6 million this year to increase wages for human services workers, including in home support, community residences, special care homes, family support, group homes, attendant care, and employment and support services agencies.
• a one-time per diem increase for adult residential facilities in 2021-22, with a permanent increase coming into effect later in 2022-23. Annually, this increase will put $27.4 million into community residences, special care homes, and memory care and generalist care facilities.
• an income exemption on the first $200 of Canada Pension Plan income for social assistance recipients.
• an increase to social assistance rates of 3.8 per cent under the Transitional Assistance Program and the Extended Benefits Program, which will benefit about 19,000 households.
• $1.4 million to support services related to intimate partner violence and sexual assault.
Through bilateral agreements with the federal government, there will be an investment of $110 million in the early learning and childcare sector in 2022-23. Over the next five years, investments will total about $500 million.
The government has also allotted $5.8 million and $2.2 million to increase inclusive education resources in the anglophone and francophone school systems, respectively.
To support remote learning, the following investments will be made:
• $1 million to continue the Laptop Subsidy Program.
• $1.8 million to maintain access and capacity within school buildings and on the provincial network, as well as enhancing network security.
Gender impact assessment
The government has released, for the second time, a gender impact assessment for the budget. New Brunswick is the only province to date to publish information about the Gender-Based Analysis+ impacts of specific budget measures.
“This budget reflects our recent success and prepares for a period of growth by investing in areas that will make a meaningful impact in New Brunswickers’ lives, provide much-needed tax relief, and continue our fiscally responsible approach,” said Steeves. “We will continue with the progress we have made in building a stronger economy and vibrant communities, while also improving health care and protecting our most vulnerable.”
The 2022-23 budget speech and other relevant documents are available online.