Dec. 20, 2005
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Finance Minister Jeannot Volpé announced in today's 2006-07 capital budget the largest capital investment in New Brunswick's education system in almost 20 years.
"We have a vision of an education and training system that promotes a culture of excellence and high achievement exemplified by innovation and lifelong learning," Volpé said. "This is why investments in education for 2006-07 will increase by $10 million, or 21 per cent, to $58 million, the highest level ever of capital investment per student."
The investment of $58 million will be for new schools as well as the repair and rehabilitation of existing schools. Funding will address health and safety issues and will improve the quality of the learning environment for students and teachers.
The government investment in schools will include continuation of the second four-year, $100-million commitment to the Healthy Schools Program.
This year the government will invest $3.5 million to improve community college facilities across New Brunswick. Since 2000-01, the government will have invested $14 million in improvements to its community college network.
Capital Budget 2006-07
The 2006-07 capital budget contains gross capital spending of $436.7 million, an increase of $26.1 million, or 6.4 per cent, over 2005-06 revised spending.
Spending in health care will result in a $90.8-million capital investment in 2006-07. Some investments include:
A further $4.4 million is included for various capital improvements and renovations to the existing health-care infrastructure.
"The government believes that strong communities and strong regions are central to our Prosperity Plan, and this year's capital budget continues our commitment to New Brunswick regions," Volpé said.
The capital budget for the Department of Transportation is $242.8 million, a $10.5-million, or 4.5 per cent, increase over 2005-06 revised spending. Of this, $235.8 million is provided for roads and highways.
"In addition to the $235.8 million for roads and highways contained in Transportation's capital budget, there will be at least $250 million in additional construction activity for the Route 2 developer-built portion of the Trans-Canada Highway," Volpé said. "This is the highest level of road construction in New Brunswick history."
Investment in transportation infrastructure will include:
The estimates for 2006-07 also contain a $20.5-million investment to repair and upgrade public buildings and other public infrastructure. It is an increase of $5.4 million, or 36 per cent, over 2005-06 revised spending.
Investments will include:
"This capital budget confirms once again the government's dedication to focus on the top priorities of New Brunswickers: health care and education," Volpé said. "It will help create and maintain jobs. It invests not just in today, but in the future as well."
Economic and Fiscal Update 2005-06
Volpé also released an economic and fiscal update for the fiscal year 2005-06, and said that the New Brunswick economy remains on track with the budget projection of 2.1 per cent economic growth. The provincial forecast remains prudent, below the level of growth now anticipated by the private sector.
Increased personal consumption and stronger-than-anticipated residential investment have helped offset weaknesses related to the manufacturing sector, which includes the pulp and paper industry.
Volpé also announced that the government is still on track for a balanced budget. The 2005-06 budget projected a surplus of $98.9 million and a reduction in net debt of $4 million.
"The economy continues to hold its own, indicating that the Prosperity Plan is indeed working," Volpé said. "The government will continue to work towards delivering balanced budgets, while building on its performance to date in order to make our province more competitive and more diversified."
EDITOR'S NOTE: The text of the minister's speech and the capital estimates will be posted online at http://www.gnb.ca/0024/index-e.asp. MEDIA CONTACT: Vicky Deschênes, communications, Finance, 506-453-2451.