Office of the Premier

State of the province address: NB will achieve self-sufficiency through knowledge, opportunity (10/01/28)

NB 119

Jan. 28, 2010

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(Multimedia)

FREDERICTON (CNB) - Building New Brunswick through a focus on knowledge, innovation and opportunity, supported by the three priorities of self-sufficiency, was the theme of the annual state of the province address delivered by Premier Shawn Graham.

"Our government's vision for New Brunswick is self-sufficiency through knowledge and opportunity built on three priorities: learning; jobs; and health and senior care," Graham said. "There is an inherent spirit in New Brunswickers - in communities large and small - to find better ways of doing things. Knowledge and innovation are not limited to our offices, boardrooms or even our university campuses. Here in New Brunswick, we have innovators in every corner of the province, and they have made an enormous contribution. One thing I can tell you: more innovators are always welcome."

Following are some of the key points in the speech:

Creating the best opportunities to learn

Graham described this first priority as building New Brunswick's knowledge base by creating the best opportunities to learn along a life-long continuum. Success has been achieved in a number of areas:

Seizing every opportunity to create jobs

The second priority involves using the knowledge of New Brunswickers to seize every opportunity to create jobs. Graham outlined six ways in which the government is working to create economic opportunity.

1. Building infrastructure. This year's investments include $423 million in transportation, $65 million in health infrastructure, $90 million in universities and colleges and $100 million in schools.

"Our two-year, $1.6-billion infrastructure plan put 6,000 people to work last year and will create and maintain another 9,000 jobs this year, building the infrastructure we need for future growth," Graham said.

2. Leveraging technology. In partnership with Barrett Xplore, affordable, high-speed Internet access will be available to all New Brunswickers by July. The provincial government is also supporting Bell Aliant's effort to offer fibre-to-the-home technology to all residents of Fredericton and Saint John, with additional communities in the future.

3. Helping businesses obtain capital. According to Graham, since October 2006, the provincial government's commitment to providing access to capital has protected or created almost 10,000 jobs.

4. Modernizing traditional sectors. Efforts have included a long-term management plan for Crown forests and investing $25 million in Crown land silviculture to make the forestry sector more competitive. The government is also encouraging innovation and sustainable development in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture.

5. Continuing to include every region of New Brunswick in the pursuit of self-sufficiency. Supported by the $50-million Northern Economic Development Fund and the $100-million Northern New Brunswick Infrastructure Initiative, the Action Plan for Self-Sufficiency in Northern New Brunswick announced last week is intended to help diversify and modernize the economy in that region.

6. Maximizing New Brunswick's low-cost environment. Government's Plan for Lower Taxes 2009-2012 will save New Brunswick families and businesses $400 million by the end of next year. By 2012-13, savings will be more than $1 billion.

Graham described the energy agreement with Quebec and its critical importance in maximizing the province's low-cost environment.

"It allows a New Brunswick government-owned NB Power to meet our energy objectives while retaining ownership and control of our power line and entire transmission and distribution networks," Graham said. "New Brunswick homeowners and businesses will enjoy guaranteed rate relief, which will make electricity more affordable and our economy more competitive."

Graham announced the introduction of a community energy policy. It will enable interested communities and First Nations to participate in the development of renewable energy improving the environmental sustainability of communities.

"I am particularly pleased that one-third of the megawatts allotted will be devoted to First Nations projects," Graham said. "These projects will help us build our energy hub, meet our New Brunswick Climate Change Action Plan objectives and build important expertise in renewable energy in communities across New Brunswick."

The premier also mentioned that Brun-Way Group is the successful bidder for Phase 2 of the $37-million rehabilitation project for the Princess Margaret Bridge in Fredericton.

Creating equal opportunity for quality health and senior care

The third priority is creating equal opportunity for high quality health and senior care, Graham said.

"By focusing our health-care resources, we can provide better and more efficient care for New Brunswickers," Graham said. "This is the reason for having two health regions, not eight. It is the reason for a provincial trauma system and the reason for a unified ambulance system."

Areas of achievement include:

"Building on the priorities I outlined tonight, I believe self-sufficiency is a goal we can and will achieve," Graham said. "In the end, it is about believing in and building on the potential of every single New Brunswicker - the potential of our families and children, our businesses and our workers. Quite simply, it is about making New Brunswick better."

The full text of the speech is online.

10/01/28

MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, communications, Office of the Premier, 506-453-2144.

10/01/28