Office of the Premier

First cabinet meeting / Lower gas prices, student grants, new government departments (06/10/03)

NB 1225

Oct. 3, 2006

FREDERICTON (CNB) -- Premier Shawn Graham and his new cabinet met for the first time to fulfill their "Day One" commitments to New Brunswick, including measures to lower gas prices, support students, protect seniors, create new government departments and clean up Saint John harbour.


"On Sept. 18, when the people of New Brunswick entrusted us with this mandate, I made a number of very clear commitments that would be addressed on our first day in office," Graham said. "I am pleased that today we have fulfilled those commitments."

To provide relief to New Brunswick drivers at the pumps, the provincial gasoline tax will be reduced by 3.8 cents per litre, effective at midnight tonight. Once the HST is factored into the tax cut, New Brunswick drivers will actually see the total price drop 4.3 cents per litre. The reduction is expected to save New Brunswickers $41 million annually.

"This reduction not only puts money back in the pockets of New Brunswickers, it also means that New Brunswick's gasoline tax rate is the lowest in the Maritimes, and the second lowest in Canada after Alberta," Graham said. "We will ensure that New Brunswick's provincial gasoline tax remains the lowest east of Alberta throughout our mandate."

As part of the new government's efforts to encourage post-secondary education, cabinet members approved the creation of $2,000 grants to first-year university students and the elimination of parental and spousal contribution requirements for student loans.

In keeping with the government's pledge to give seniors the care they deserve, cabinet members agreed to the removal of seniors' homes, assets and life savings from the calculation of nursing home fees.

The premier and cabinet members also honoured their commitment to the citizens of Saint John by approving a memorandum of understanding on Saint John harbour clean-up.

In addition, a separate Department of Fisheries and a Department of Agriculture and Aquaculture were established, to underline the distinct importance of these resource industries to New Brunswick's economy. Commitments to affordable housing and the rights of the elderly were highlighted, with the designation of a Minister of State for Housing and a Minister of State for Seniors.

"We have set out to make our province a leader in education, economic development and energy generation and conservation," Graham said. "We have started our mandate as we intend to proceed - with a clear commitment and a bold sense of purpose."


MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, Office of the Premier, 506-447-2189.