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Office of the Premier

New government structure meets 21st century priorities (00/03/23)

NB 237

March 23, 2000

FREDERICTON (CNB) -- The New Brunswick government will become 21st century-ready following a restructuring of government department roles, responsibilities, and missions announced today by Premier Bernard Lord.

"We have refocused government to meet the 21st century needs of a more competitive, compassionate New Brunswick and reflect the most important choices and priorities of New Brunswickers," the premier said.

The overall size of cabinet remains the same at 15. Some ministerial responsibilities have been realigned to match the new departmental structures.

Eight new departments have been formed based on new mandates and a consolidation and merging of existing structures; nine previous departmental structures have had their responsibilities shifted to match the new alignments; and two new policy secretariats have been created.

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All departments have had some responsibilities shifted based on a consolidation of program and service functions aimed at managing smarter and to reflect clearer operational missions.

A new cabinet committee structure is being established. In addition to the two current standing committees of Policy and Priorities and Board of Management, three new special policy committees of ministers are being created: Economic Competitiveness, Social Progress, and Government Operations.

Some deputy minister assignments have been shuffled as well.

A complete list of departmental names, ministerial responsibilities and deputy Ministers is attached.

The following new departments are being created:

-Investment and Exports

-Business New Brunswick

-Training and Employment Development

-Food Production

-Public Safety

-Environment and Local Government

-Family and Community Services

-Health and Wellness

As a result, the responsibilities previously located in the following nine departmental structures have been shifted to the new departments:

-Human Resources Development

-Housing

-Solicitor General

-Labour

-Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture

-Agriculture and Rural Development

-Fisheries and Aquaculture

-Health and Community Services

-Municipalities

The following departments remain, some with adjusted mandates:

-Finance

-Education

-Justice and Attorney General

-Transportation

-Supply and Services

-Natural Resources and Energy

-Intergovernmental Affairs

There has been no change in the number or names of current Crown corporations.

The following two new policy secretariats, in addition to the recently established Aboriginal Affairs Secretariat, are being created:

-Energy

-Culture and Sport

"The changes we are announcing today will be implemented in a manner that ensures we continue to provide quality service to the public with minimal disruption," Premier Lord said. "We also want to give people within and outside government the ability to adjust to the changes and provide input leading to improved service delivery quality and cost-effectiveness."

To do so, ministers and senior officials will begin a comprehensive series of consultations with interested groups and individuals to explain the changes and seek input.

A More Competitive New Brunswick

New Brunswick will become more competitive through a stronger economic development focus based on five key strategies to create jobs and generate wealth: (1) strategic sector investment, trade, and exports; (2) regional and community economic development aimed at small and medium-sized business growth; (3) the building of a trained labour force matched to emerging job and skills needs; (4) a total development concept applied to generating greater value-added from the province's natural resource and food production sectors and, (5) a more competitive tax structure for individuals and businesses.

To implement this strategic approach, four new departments have been formed:

-Investment and Exports

-Business New Brunswick

-Training and Employment Development

-Food Production

The current Department of Natural Resources, the Regional Development Corporation, the Premier's Task Force on the Acadian Peninsula, the network of regional economic development commissions, and the new special Cabinet Committee on Economic Competitiveness will augment this integrated approach to economic competitiveness.

Investment and Exports will focus on building New Brunswick's international competitiveness by attracting new strategic investments into the province in key sectors and increasing the number and type of exports along with the ability of New Brunswick companies to become more export-ready. It will be responsible for external marketing of New Brunswick, including tourism marketing. Investment and Exports will comprise elements of the former departments of Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Business New Brunswick will have a regional and community development mission for all regions focused principally on New Brunswick business growth and development. It will provide a 'single-window' entry point for firms and entrepreneurs seeking financial and technical assistance from government. The current regional economic development commissions will report through Business New Brunswick. Business New Brunswick will comprise elements of the former departments of Economic Development, Tourism, and Culture, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Fisheries and Aquaculture.

Training and Employment Development will have the mission of building a trained workforce with the necessary skills and job training aimed at ensuring New Brunswick has a 21st century labour force able to meet the new economy needs of an increasingly competitive world. It will combine elements of the former departments of Human Resources Development and Labour. All employment and training programming, as well as responsibility for industrial relations and workplace regulations and apprenticeship and occupational certification, will be combined in this new department. Community colleges, transferred from Education, with their increasing focus on technology training and innovation, will also be the responsibility of Training and Employment Development, to ensure a closer link between industry and trade needs and a skilled, job-ready workforce.

Food Production will have a core mission of creating a more total development, value-added, food production sector. It will provide a clear window for farmers, fishers and food processors to seek services and assistance to help them in their needs. Farm safety net and other programs will be consolidated and enhanced under the new department. The new Department of Food Production will work closely with the private sector, food processors, and agriculture, fisheries, and aquaculture associations to foster more cost-effective means of delivering services. It will combine elements of the former departments of Agriculture and Rural Development and Fisheries and Aquaculture.

"The 21st century new economy demands we become competitive on all fronts," the premier said. "We have identified four core strategies that will ensure we can compete with the world, build on real New Brunswick strengths, and create good, new job opportunities in every region of our province. The new departments were created with these specific missions."

The special policy committee of cabinet on Economic Competitiveness will integrate policy and planning approaches towards the government's overall economic development policies, programs, and services to create more jobs and generate wealth leading to the creation of a more competitive New Brunswick.

A More Compassionate New Brunswick

Government has a responsibility to help those most truly in need. Recognizing the link between social and economic policy, the recent Social Policy Renewal review identified a series of issues in current social policy programming. This included gaps in services, lack of integration, and the need for more focus on families, children, and communities. Similarly, the recent Health Services Review noted the importance of wellness and reorienting health system policy and programming towards health promotion and disease prevention measures.

The government's 21st century structure will focus on these clear social policy needs by creating a new Department of Family and Community Services, formally adding wellness to the government's health mission by creating a Department of Health and Wellness, and establishing a new special Cabinet Committee on Social Progress.

Family and Community Services will bring under one roof all family and children's programming such as child welfare, day care and adoption; income support programs; housing programs; disability programs; youth policy; volunteers, and long-term care programs including nursing home services. It will allow for a more comprehensive approach to family service and children's services to ensure real social needs are being met, removing barriers to work, and leading to greater self-sufficiency. It will link better with existing community support networks including the voluntary sector. The new Department of Family and Community Services will combine elements of the former departments of Human Resources Development and Housing, and Health and Community Services along with elements of the Department of Education.

With its new wellness mission, the Department of Health and Wellness will have the mandate to not just to treat sickness but to help make New Brunswickers healthy by developing a comprehensive wellness strategy and integrated disease strategies. This recognizes the cost-effectiveness and positive impact on the health system of keeping people healthy in the first place. Licensing and inspection services related to food safety will be enhanced with the addition of these responsibilities from the former departments of Fisheries and Aquaculture and Agriculture and Rural Development.

"Our changes will help create a more cost-effective and sustainable health care system and social safety net," the premier said. "It places families and children at the centre of our social responsibilities as a province and ensures the right linkages between social and economic policy."

The special policy committee of cabinet on Social Progress will integrate the government's policy and planning approaches towards social policy issues to ensure a more compassionate New Brunswick focused on meeting the social needs of individuals and families.

Stronger Environmental and Public Safety Focus

Two new departments have been created to strengthen the government's approach to environmental management and compliance and public safety.

A new Department of Environment and Local Government has been created with a mission to provide a more integrated approach to environmental management, conservation and compliance, and land use zoning and planning. It will also be responsible for liaison with municipalities and local service district governance. This new department combines elements of the former departments of Environment, Municipalities, Agriculture and Rural Development, and Fisheries and Aquaculture, as well as the department of Transportation.

A new Department of Public Safety has been created to strengthen the government's ability to provide services to all New Brunswickers in the areas of policing, corrections, emergency measures, 911 services, the Office of the Fire Marshall, safety code services, along with liquor and lotteries regulation. This new department combines elements of the former departments of Solicitor General, Municipalities, and Labour, as well as from the departments of Finance and Transportation.

"Public safety issues concern us all and should be consolidated in one department rather than spread out across government," Premier Lord said. "Environmental issues increasingly involve traditional municipal and local service district planning and zoning issues. Placing the responsibility for this along with local governance will mean more effective environmental management and closer interaction with local government authorities."

21st Century Missions

Certain departments have had a broadening of their core missions to ensure they are focusing on New Brunswick's 21st century needs to make our province more competitive and compassionate.

Examples include:

-Transportation will ensure a broader focus on all forms of inter-modal transportation and infrastructure issues as well as highways and roads

-Finance will assume responsibility for fiscal transfer issues to municipalities

The Energy Secretariat, reporting to the Minister of Natural Resources and Energy, will be responsible for the development of a comprehensive, sustainable energy policy. The Culture and Sport Secretariat, reporting to the Minister of Education, will be responsible for all cultural, arts, sports and recreation programming and will develop an arts and culture policy for New Brunswick.

Managing Smarter

The government's program and service review has identified clear overlap, duplication, and inefficiencies in current programming and services. The new 21st century structure will eliminate some of these problems and bring greater value to taxpayers.

This has been done by consolidating certain programs and services in one department, to generate cost efficiencies and for ease of client service, rather than have them spread out over several. Examples include:

-Transportation will be responsible for all vehicle management and maintenance.

-Supply and Services will be responsible for all government buildings and garages as well as IT management co-ordination.

-Service New Brunswick will be responsible for corporate affairs affecting business registrations.

-Public Safety will be responsible for all vehicle enforcement functions.

-Business New Brunswick will be responsible to provide single window entry point financial assistance to businesses

-Education will be responsible for all library services as well as Connect NB Access Centres

The special policy committee of cabinet on Government Operations will ensure a more co-ordinated internal management approach to the operations of government to continue to save taxpayers' dollars and manage smarter.

"Taxpayers want greater value for the tax dollars they send to government," the premier said. "This restructuring was long overdue. It will ensure New Brunswick's government is focused on clear public priorities so we are 21st century-ready as part of building a more competitive and compassionate province."

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MEDIA CONTACTS: Bob Scott or Luc Fournier, Office of the Premier, 506-453-2144.

00/03/23