New Brunswick

Double-budget day for New Brunswick on Tuesday

Tuesday with be a double-budget day in New Brunswick, with the provincial 2019-20 budget being tabled in Fredericton and the federal budget in Ottawa.

Provincial budget to be delivered in Fredericton at 1 p.m. AT, federal budget in Ottawa at 5 p.m. AT

New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves shines up his old shoes Monday instead of buying new shoes to deliver his 2019-20 budget Tuesday. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Tuesday will be a double-budget day for New Brunswickers, with the provincial 2019-20 budget being tabled in Fredericton and the federal budget being presented in Ottawa.

Both governments are deeply in debt, but their budgets are expected to be distinctly different, with the provincial one a first-time budget for Premier Blaine Higgs's minority government, while Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's is a pre-election budget.

New Brunswick's Finance Minister Ernie Steeves joked Monday about keeping the same old shoes.

"Look at that!" he said to reporters. "We're going to keep what we have, keep it in good shape, and go from there. We're not going to spend new money on new shoes, for sure.

"The premier said, 'Don't let our credit rating go down, balance the budget, try and find a surplus to pay the net debt. And so I did."

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau, however, had his Canadian-designed deer skin and calf leather shoes re-soled — a more expensive option than a polish, perhaps fitting for a government about to go into an election, a time of promises and spending.

"Here's hoping they fit, or we're going to have a rough day on Tuesday," he said. 

Cut or spend?

New Brunswickers CBC News spoke to in Fredericton on Monday had mixed views about which would be better: cuts or increased spending.

"I think personally, from having a family, we benefit from the universal child-care benefit, and that helps us out a lot," said Murray Thorpe.

"But I think with the province, provincially, I think not doing the Francophonie Games and saving some money is a wise decision. We just have to look at some other cutbacks, maybe."

Andrew Dawson, owner of BrewBakers, said he's more optimistic about the provincial budget than the federal one. (CBC)

Andrew Dawson, the owner of BrewBakers restaurant and the downtown building that used to house the King Street Ale House, contends business owners "need a break."

"I've talked to other people who own similar-valued properties to mine, and their taxes are nowhere near what mine are in downtown Fredericton," he said.

"I have a thousand dollars a week, and then in the month of January, I get my WorkSafe bill of $10,000 for the year, my power bill runs me $100,000 a year, so I'm putting $200,000, 300,000 directly into the pockets of the provincial government before I even employ anybody."

"I would just appreciate if the government could think about the people like me who put their house on the line and try to start a business and employ people."

Hoping for support for students

Sources tell CBC the federal budget will contain money targeted at helping people retrain. That's good news for Mary Butler, the vice-president of academic and research at the New Brunswick Community College.

"Not only do our current students have lots of obstacles, and many of our learners are mature, the average age at NBCC is 27," she said. "Oftentimes, they come to us with a career underway, with a family, and obligations of things to take care of at home. So there are lots of challenges to attending college."

"Anything that become available through provincial or federal programs and budgets that support students is important to us and we'd be excited to see."

The provincial budget is scheduled to be delivered at 1 p.m. AT and the federal budget at 5 p.m.

Corrections

  • An earlier version of this story indicated federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau's budget shoes were new. In fact, he got a cobbler to repair his old shoes again this year.
    Mar 19, 2019 2:47 PM AT