January 26, 2018 5:12 pm
Updated: January 26, 2018 5:26 pm

New Brunswick premier announces $20M seniors’ funding after State of the Province address

WATCH: Premier Brian Gallant followed up his Thursday night State of the Province Address by committing up to $20 million in funding for seniors initiatives. Jeremy Keefe reports.

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Premier Brian Gallant followed up his 2018 State of the Province Address in which he committed $20 million toward economic competitiveness including youth employment by announcing another $20 million investment for seniors’ initiatives on Friday.

The funding will support actions that focus on dementia and transitions in care.

WATCH: Gallant looks back on 2017

They also include a colon cancer screening program to reach all men and women between 50 and 74 years old; a pilot project to free up acute care beds; a commitment to keep seniors active in the labour force; and reducing wait times for hip and knee replacements.

“We need to invest to make sure we’re innovative and providing the best quality and accessible health care and senior care possible,” Gallant said.

“We’re going to be investing to ensure that we have more seniors stay in their homes longer. It’s better for their quality of life, it’s better for the quality of life of their families and it’s better for the system.”

The State of the Province also included funding commitments for youth unemployment.

Gallant said public funds targeting youth and seniors are more closely tied than they may seem.

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READ MORE: Gallant’s state of province speech sets tone for New Brunswick campaign

“We have a clear commitment to tackle the aging population challenge before us and we know to tackle that challenge we have to invest to create youth employment opportunities for our young people to stay here and come back here,” Gallant explained.

Seniors and Long-Term Care Minister Lisa Harris echoed Gallant’s comments and said she pushed hard to ensure front line staff would be paid more going forward.

“Investing in the workers of those who work with seniors everyday, we certainly need to make sure that we do retain those workers in our special care homes and beyond to make sure that they’re staying there and that they understand that what they’re doing is extremely important,” she said.

Around 1,000 people gathered at the Fredericton Convention Centre Thursday night as Gallant delivered his annual speech, which highlighted recent successes and hinted at upcoming plans.

As part of a multi-year economic growth plan, Gallant announced funding that will be used to help researchers, entrepreneurs and businesses compete on local and worldwide stages.

Gallant also focused a portion of the speech on ongoing outmigration and the need to attract and retain young New Brunswickers.

“At the end of the day we need to have a strong workforce and we need people to do it,” he said.

“We want to have our families be able to stay here in New Brunswick and by ensuring they have opportunity we’ll be able to do it.”

Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs said that funding doesn’t equal results, although he also said investment in vulnerable populations is necessary.

“Putting more money in home care, putting more money in the career development of home care workers and professionals, very necessary,” he explained.

“But yet we see more ribbon cutting in areas of buildings, the ribbon cutting we need to do is in the areas of results.”

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