Provincial budget postponed a week by ice storm recovery efforts
2017-18 budget will be delivered Feb. 7 instead of Jan. 31, Premier Brian Gallant announces
The New Brunswick government has delayed delivering its 2017-18 budget until Feb. 7 because of ongoing ice storm recovery efforts, Premier Brian Gallant announced Monday.
The budget was expected to be delivered in Fredericton on Tuesday, when the legislature is scheduled to resume sitting.
But more than 19,000 homes and businesses across the province remain without power following last Tuesday's storm, two people have died from carbon monoxide poisoning and 33 others are believed to be suffering the effects of carbon monoxide poisoning, said Gallant.
"The most important thing for us is the safety of the people who have been impacted," he said during a news conference held at the Lamèque Town Hall to provide an update on the emergency response to the storm.
About 200 members of the Canadian Armed Forces have been sent to the Acadian Peninsula to help with the fallout. The bulk of the outages are in northeastern New Brunswick.
NB Power has 380 crews working around the clock to restore power, said Gallant.
During the peak of the outages, 133,000 NB Power customers had no electricity.
The legislature will meet briefly at 1 p.m. Tuesday as originally scheduled. After the regular prayer to start the daily sitting, there'll be a motion to adjourn until next Tuesday for the budget.
MLAs voted last December to resume sitting Jan. 31, and that can only be changed by another motion of the house.
As for the budget, the Gallant government still expects to post a deficit of $231 million this year, according to third-quarter results released by Finance Minister Cathy Rogers last Friday.
It's expected to take four more budgets to eliminate the rest of the deficit — two years longer than Gallant's Liberals proposed in the 2014 election.