Taxes, fees left alone as budget holds line on spending

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs limited new spending in his capital budget for 2014-15 to just $35 million for improvements to roads, hospital and schools.

Capital spending on roads, hospitals, schools and other projects sees only $35M in new money

Finance Minister Blaine Higgs limited new spending in his capital budget for 2014-15 to just $35 million for improvements to roads, hospital and schools.

The scarcity of new money for major projects comes despite this being an election year, with New Brunswickers set to go to the polls on Sept. 22.

"I think we can all agree this is not a typical election budget," said Higgs. "We are staying the course.

"We are committed to be in a different game for this election," Higgs said. "New Brunswick deserves better."

Some of the highlights in Higgs's 23-page budget speech include:

  • $223 million capital budget for transportation includes funding for safety upgrades to Route 11 between Shediac and Miramichi as part of a 10-year plan.
  • Initial funding for Fredericton Community Health Centre included in $213 million capital budget for health-care facilities.
  • Dr. Georges L. Dumont Hospital in Moncton receives $13 million to add surgical suite.
  • Funding provided for long-term upgrades to hospitals in Fredericton and Bathurst.
  • New K-8 schools in Miramichi and Restigouche included in $99 million in capital funding for school infrastructure.
  • No increases to income, gasoline or consumption taxes.
  • No major fee increases in the next year.
  • Government to create Collection Services Branch to collect money owed to government.
  • Province will instruct Atlantic Lottery Corporation to review video lottery program and other related programs to find new revenue.
  • MLA pension plan will move to a shared-risk model.
  • Government to move to change top-up to teachers' pension plan that has cost taxpayers $830 million over last 10 years.
  • Basic social assistance rates to increase by three per cent in April.
  • Fundamental changes to forestry sector promised to result in new influx of wood in marketplace; private woodlot owners and First Nations to also benefit.
  • Accountability in election promises to be established through legislation before September's provincial election.