The New Brunswick government has tabled its capital budget for 2022-2023.
It adds $78.1 million in spending for a total of $746.8 million.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves tabled the capital budget in the legislature on Tuesday.
“The improvement in our fiscal standing means that the increase in our budget is one that we can afford, and allows us to begin addressing our infrastructure deficit,” Steeves said in his speech Tuesday.
The budget, he said, should support $550 million in GDP and 6,500 jobs. It touts improvements for creative vibrant and sustainable communities.
It included $338.8 million for maintenance and improvement of the highways, roads and bridges in the province. Steeves highlighted $11.7 million to continue the rehabilitation of the Centennial Bridge in Miramichi and $10 million for the Salmon River Bridge in Chipman.
There is a $51.7-million increase in the budget for the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure, Steeves said, with the budget totalling out to $414.0 million.
Its second focus was dependable health care.
While sparse on details, Steeves did say there will be improvements for hospitals including renovations.
“Maintaining status quo will only leader a deterioration in services,” he said in his speech. “This is simply not acceptable.”
The government said it plans to invest $153.2 million in health care infrastructure.
“Of this total, $103.8 million will be for the continuation of renovations, additions, and other improvements around the province, and $49.4 million will be for capital improvements and equipment,” he said in his speech.
“Ongoing work at the Chaleur Regional Hospital and the Dr. Everett Chalmers Regional Hospital are two examples of where government continues to make important investments in health care infrastructure.”
It also discussed education.
The government said it will invest a total of $84.7 million in the province’s K-12 infrastructure, including $12.7 million for the new K-5 school on the northside of Fredericton and $10.8 million for the new francophone school complex in Moncton.
Lastly, it touched on an affordable and responsive government.
“With the improvements we have made to our financial standing we are able to do more. However, our government has consistently taken a disciplined approach to managing our finances, and today’s budget is no different,” Steeve said in his speech.
His speech said he is sure the five-year plan is on New Brunswickers can afford.
Opposition says things are missing
While the numbers are approaching what the Liberals were planning to spend under Gallant, the Official Opposition said things are missing from this budget.
“I also noticed, and details will come, but I mean I don’t see any money for Campobello Island for a ferry,” said interim Liberal leader Roger Melanson speaking to reporters.
“I don’t see any money for moving on with Route 11 as it was planned for originally. I don’t see any money for Shippigan Bridge. I don’t see any money for the Anderson bridge I suspect there is money in there for that.”
Melanson also questioned why there was no mention of school and hospital ventilation. He said he hopes there will be investment in there as announcements roll out.
He argued there is a clock in the federal interest in investment.
“Governments got a role to play,” he said.
Greens say budget missed the mark on climate
Green Party leader David Coon said the budget was status quo.
“Capital budgets represents investment in the future and this capital budget discounts the future because of the big challenges we’re facing is of course the consequences of climate change and the need to de-carbonize our economy,” he said, speaking to reporters.
Coon said there is a clear lack of interest in protecting the islands in New Brunswick. He said there is a clear lack of funds for a much needed full-time ferry for Campobello Island and the deteriorating bridge between Lamèque and Miscou.
Steeves didn’t respond to specific questions about projects, saying he’ll leave it to the responsible ministers to make announcements regarding the individual budgets.