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2 February 2016
For Immediate Release

pdfNews Release - Fredericton Chamber Reacts to 2016-17 NB Budget - 3 February 2016 (PDF - 125 KB)

FREDERICTON, NB – While the measures taken in today’s provincial budget come as no surprise given the State of the Province Address, strategic program review, and the government’s media campaign over the past couple of months, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce still views it as a blow to business growth in our region and province. New Brunswick needs to balance the books, but the only way to keep them balanced in the long‐term is to create favourable conditions for economic growth.

“Given that the Province has identified nearly $600 million in increased revenue and cost savings we would have expected more immediate deficit relief than the $350 million projected for 2016‐17,” said Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “The most important thing now is to move forward with a vision for growth for New Brunswick and we are expecting the government to articulate that vision in the near future. The Province is now working on a growth plan and it is imperative that business is the cornerstone of that plan. The only way for our province to find a path to prosperity is through growing our economy. This means supporting business by creating an environment where business can grow ‐ if business succeeds we all succeed.”

The chamber is concerned that civil service reductions will be disproportionately harmful to our urban areas, which are the engines of our economy. The chamber’s pre‐budget message to the government centred around cost competitiveness and investing in areas that could stimulate economic growth such as post‐secondary education and strategic infrastructure as well as developing an urban economic development strategy.

As stated by the premier in the State of the Province Address, there were no major cuts to healthcare. Now it is imperative that the province follow through on its commitment to change how care is delivered to New Brunswickers. The chamber recommends that the government take a step back and listen carefully to the leadership of our health authorities ‐ they are in the best position to determine the most effective and efficient way to provide better care to patients and families.

“On the spending side of the budget, the devil will be in the details,” added Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “We’ll be watching closely to see exactly how the government chooses to make investments. We would hope that one of the key factors to be considered ‐ especially for infrastructure ‐ is to ask ‘is this likely to spur private investment?’ That’s how this taxpayer money will work the hardest for New
Brunswickers.”

The overall impact of the 2016‐17 budget will be a drag on economic growth. The HST increase, civil service reductions, and corporate tax increase are things that will affect everyone in the province ‐ directly or indirectly.

“There were a few positives in the budget from our perspective,” added Ross. “Reducing personal income tax on high earners was key ‐ although that rate is still very high and the consolidation of some services and partnering with the private sector on some others is a step in the right direction and we hope to see the government explore more of the opportunities. We also note an increase in the budget for the Province’s Population Growth Division within the Department of Post‐Secondary Education, Training and Labour and hope that much of these additional funds will be earmarked for immigration support services, which we view as New Brunswick’s best chance to grow our population.”

The Fredericton chamber will continue to work with government, the Jobs Board, Opportunities NB and all of our stakeholders to grow the economy together. Developing a common vision for growth should now be the government’s top priority.

With more than 950 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment.

Contact: Krista Ross, CEO – (506) 458‐8006