January 31, 2018 6:09 pm

N.B. opposition critical of government’s targeted investments

WATCH: While the New Brunswick government touts record investments, its critics say results for the money spent aren't being measured. Jeremy Keefe reports.


The New Brunswick government’s recently announced 2018-2019 budget is being touted as one that “works for all New Brunswickers” through targeted investments.

But opposition MLAs say the funding lacks specific measurable results.

“We’ve shown consistent economic growth. We have a record-high population, higher wages, higher employment,” said Cathy Rogers in Fredericton on Wednesday, one day after releasing the budget document.

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“We’ve invested in historic records to make what I call long-term, life-changing decisions by creating free child care, and support of child care for the middle class, free tuition and extra support for the middle class.”

Student-minded investments, such as the Tuition Access Bursary and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class, released in 2016 and 2017 respectively, provided support for current and prospective students of publicly-funded New Brunswick universities and colleges.

READ MORE: New Brunswick finance minister says budget will include 11th straight deficit

Rather than what was provided, it’s what was taken away to make room for such programs that critics take issue with.

“The tuition rebate was to me the most significant and powerful to help retain youth in New Brunswick,” said NB Green Party Leader David Coon. “That’s gone. It needs to be put back.”

Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs echoes the sentiment, saying eliminating a program that was designed to keep graduates in the province after completing post-secondary is counterproductive.

“Wouldn’t that be complimentary to keeping youth in our province?”

“This budget is simply just written for election purposes,” Higgs said. “When we canceled the rebate, what impact did that have on graduates staying in the province?”

WATCH: New Brunswick politicians respond to 2018 budget

Higgs accused the province of simply pushing money toward a problem and hoping for results.

He said in order to ensure a program works, a government must first identify what would be considered a success and provide oversight to ensure that is achieved.

“Define a plan that says, ‘I’m going to put this in place and monitor it closely, and I’m going to ensure that it is actually achieving a result,'” he said.

The Maritime Provinces Higher Education Commission (MPEHC) released a study that showed New Brunswick retained 57 per cent of its graduates two years after completing their first degree.

The number is slightly higher than Nova Scotia at 54 per cent and similarly lower than PEI, which retains 59 per cent.

The MPHEC indicated that the results for NB and PEI have remained steady over a 15-year time period and that all three provinces retain a higher number of students who resided in the province before their post-secondary schooling than those who came from elsewhere.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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