NB Finance Minister Ernie Steeves (GNB photo)

Finance Minister Ernie Steeves has tabled a new budget that is projecting a deficit of $245 million dollars for the 2021-22 fiscal year.

Revenues are expected to grow by 1.2 percent this fiscal year while spending is expected to grow by 3.4 percent “to address ongoing COVID-19 pressures.”

In his budget speech to the Legislature – Steeves says “today’s budget continues to provide the important supports needed to deal with the public health challenge of our generation.”

In the budget – Mental Health services will see a boost of 7 million dollars across several departments as the Higgs government rolls out its new five year mental health plan. The increased spending comes as Steeves says the COVID-19 pandemic has taken its toll on the mental health of New Brunswickers with over half of our residents at risk of developing negative mental health impacts due to the pandemic. There is also focused spending on other areas of health care including 11.1 million dollars for physician recruitment.

Education – affordable housing – and crime reduction are also highlighted spending items in the new budget. On the environmental front – Steeves says the carbon tax on fuel will increase April 01st as required by the federal government. The carbon tax on gasoline will increase by 2.21 cents per litre while the diesel tax will increase by 2.68 cents per litre. In his speech – the Minister says “revenue from the tax on carbon emitting products will be recycled back to New Brunswickers. This includes the previously implemented gasoline and motive fuels tax rate reduction that helped protect consumers and businesses at the pumps.” But – what that means in terms of cash in hand has not been spelled out.

You can explore the full details of the 2021-22 budget here.