Wed. Apr 24th, 2024

New Brunswick budget: groups have some hope more in this election year

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New Brunswick's 2024-2025 budget is titled “More stronger than ever, let’s continue building.”

  • Alix Villeneuve (View profile)Alix Villeneuve

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Certain groups in New Brunswick hope that the elections scheduled for the fall will push the Minister of Finance to loosen the purse strings. Minister Ernie Steeves will present his government's 2024-2025 budget on Tuesday afternoon.

Health, education, culture, housing, fight against poverty: a few hours before the budget, there are many and varied expectations coming from different groups.

But, with each such exercise, many of these requests are rejected.

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Gaëtan Thomas is the CEO of the New Brunswick Economic Council

The electoral context could be favorable to certain requests, according to Gaëtan Thomas, CEO of the New Brunswick Economic Council. The debt is now under control, it's time to open.

I think we have better chances this year because there is an election.

A quote from Gaëtan Thomas, CEO of the New Brunswick Economic Council

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According to him, the province must invest in affordable housing and business innovation. We know that affordable housing is what limits immigration, especially in the regions.

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The president of the New Brunswick Federation of Labor, Daniel Légère, believes that the elections scheduled for this year will influence Tuesday's budget.

The [center of attention] will be on the elections, also thinks Daniel Légère, president of the New Workers' Federation -Brunswick. I think they'll spend a little more money.

He proposes four priorities, health, education, housing and help for the most vulnerable, but he puts everything into perspective. We don't have any big expectations in this budget.

Our expectations must be high because the situation is critical in New Brunswick, says Janelle LeBlanc, provincial coordinator of the Common Front for Social Justice.

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The provincial coordinator of Common Front for Social Justice, Janelle LeBlanc.

She says the last four years have been disappointing, but she continues to advocate for better funding for social programs.

Incomes of social assistance are approximately $8,000 annually. We would like it to go to $25,000, because that's the poverty line.

We must always have hope, otherwise we would not do the work we do.

A quote from Janelle LeBlanc, provincial coordinator of the Common Front for Social Justice

Other speakers doubt that the elections will influence Tuesday's exercise. This is the case of Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Atlantic vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

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Louis-Philippe Gauthier, vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business.

People might imagine that this would be an opportunity for governments to please many groups. I don't believe it, says Mr. Gauthier.

The government, at this point, holds the hard line.

A quote from Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Atlantic vice-president for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

According to him, the province must focus on tax relief for small and medium-sized businesses. There is always hope, but many would say that hope is not a strategy. So, we'll see.

Other organizations are also moderating their expectations.

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Jean-Philippe Raîche, president of the Acadian Association of Professional Artists of New Brunswick (AAAPNB).

< p class="StyledBodyHtmlParagraph-sc-48221190-4 hnvfyV">We have no illusions about the fact that there will not be more money for arts and culture, says Jean-Philippe Raîche, president of the Acadian Association of Professional Artists of the New Brunswick.

Since 2016, there have been no substantial increase in funding for arts and culture.

A quote from Jean-Philippe Raîche, president of the Acadian Association of Professional Artists of New Brunswick

Mr. Raîche also questions the accuracy of the figures presented in the budgets. Budget day is above all a public relations exercise. The figures are rarely reliable.

The surpluses accumulated by the province in recent years are also the subject of arguments by certain groups.

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Johanne Perron, general director of the Coalition for New Brunswick Pay Equity.

Johanne Perron, general director of the Coalition for Pay Equity, pleads for better remuneration for predominantly female professions, such as in health, thanks to budget surpluses. We have seen year after year surpluses that could easily absorb these salaries.

For women workers, this is particularly discouraging.

A quote from Johanne Perron, executive director of the Coalition for Pay Equity

It's a government that likes to create surpluses and pay off the debt, she summarizes.

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New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves will unveil his budget Tuesday afternoon.

At a pre-budget press scrum, Finance Minister Ernie Steves indicated that there will be improvements in the health care, money for education and the budget will always be balanced.

He indicates that the electoral context did not influence his approach, because every year, one must be prudent on a fiscal level.

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The Progressive Conservative Party had a campaign bus ready in case of a snap election last fall.

He presented the cover of his document, which is entitled Stronger than ever, let's keep building.

This is the same slogan that the Progressive Conservative Party chose last fall, when Prime Minister Blaine Higgs almost call elections.

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