FREDERICTON — New Brunswick’s minority Tory government tabled a $9.8-billion budget recently — projecting a $23-million surplus and the first reduction in the net debt in 13 years.
The debt is currently estimated at $14.1 billion and is expected to decline by $49 million by this time next year.
Finance Minister Ernie Steeves says the province is at a crossroads and it isn’t responsible to push decisions down the road.
The budget contains no new taxes or fee increases, and no apparent major cuts in programs and services.
The budget’s most visible impact will likely be the elimination of the front licence plates on vehicles.
The government will spend more than $16 million to increase wages for home support workers.
Steeves said $2.4 million will be spent in 2019-20 to recruit and retain more nurses.
The government will introduce legislation to reintroduce the New Brunswick Tuition Tax Credit, and will unveil a renewed bursary program for students attending universities and colleges in New Brunswick.
Steeves said the province will ask the federal government to allow for a reduction in the scope of work to improve Route 11, a key route to Miramichi, N.B.
As promised, the government is increasing the annual budget for the auditor general by $1 million.