Office of the Premier
State of the Province Address: 2008 to be a turning point for province (08/01/31)
Jan. 31, 2008
FREDERICTON (CNB) -- Government will take action to transform New Brunswick's economy, workforce, relationships and government in 2008. That was the theme of the annual State of the Province Address delivered today by Premier Shawn Graham.
In his remarks, the premier outlined several specific initiatives, from forestry and population growth to health care, post-secondary education, and attracting new investment.
"I believe that this time next year, we will look back at 2008 as a turning point in our province," Graham said. "Many of our institutions will look different, and the way government runs will be different, because to change our destiny, we have to change how we do things."
Following are some of the key initiatives outlined in the premier's speech:
The Province has engaged a team of national and local forest product experts led by Don Roberts of CIBC World Markets. Government will use their analysis before making future commitments of the Crown fibre resource. Their work will be completed by June 2008 and they will be asked to work with industry to:
- find ways for New Brunswick's industry to become competitive, while respecting the environment and sustaining the forest for multiple uses for generations to come;
- identify ways to create a future industry that brings opportunities to manufacture new products, while drawing on the strengths of efficient traditional operations;
- conduct an analysis of the forest sector, gain a better understanding of the future market situation and determine how to best position New Brunswick in the global forest products marketplace.
A Three-Year Investment Attraction Plan will be launched next month by Business New Brunswick to spread the word that if you want to be successful in business, New Brunswick is the place to be. The plan will kick off with an aggressive blitz of Toronto's Bay Street financial district by Premier Graham and Business New Brunswick Minister Greg Byrne.
The Working Group on Post-Secondary Education will complete its review of the report of the Commission on Post-Secondary Education and deliver its final recommendations, which include:
- each university will have its role, mandate and critical mission articulated in legislation;
- the University of New Brunswick in Saint John will remain the University of New Brunswick in Saint John;
- UNBSJ will retain programs like liberal arts while expanding with new program offerings to meet emerging economic opportunities;
- support of the University of New Brunswick in creating a commission to review the relationship between Fredericton and Saint John campuses and make recommendations for improvement;
- the Université de Moncton will continue to fulfill its important mandate in the northeast and northwest of the province;
- the Université de Moncton will provide new applied learning at the university level to meet the requirements of emerging economic opportunities;
- community colleges will become an organization independent from government and more closely aligned with their communities;
- much greater co-operation between universities and community colleges;
- first- and/or second-year university courses will become more available across the province where appropriate;
- very strong recommendations to deal with student debt load and, within the terms of responsible fiscal management, government will respond accordingly to such recommendations.
New Brunswick's Population Growth Strategy will be unveiled next week. Key components include:
- additional human resources
- stronger links with employers so they have better access to skilled workers
- enhanced community relationships, including expanding the community sponsorship pilot project
- new investments in language training, immigrant-serving agencies and multicultural associations
- culture of apprenticeship to ease the transition to work
- stronger links between young people, communities and employers in order to keep them in New Brunswick
- use of the network of expatriate New Brunswickers through technology, outreach trips and partnerships
- strategic partnerships across Atlantic Canada
- partnerships with the federal government in various areas, including francophone immigration and the creation of sustainable communities.
New Brunswick's health care plan will include:
- funding for a minimum of 100 new physicians across New Brunswick over the next four years
- six new community health centres including a new partnership with the UNB Faculty of Nursing, and a satellite centre at the Centre Communautaire Sainte-Anne in Fredericton.
A Senior and Healthy Aging Secretariat will focus on strategies to help seniors remain healthy, active, independent and socially engaged for as long as possible, and increase supports for informal care givers.
Early Childhood Development
Former Lt.-Gov. Margaret Norrie McCain will provide assistance and direction to the Special Cabinet Committee on Early Childhood Development and Care.
The premier also announced the following benchmarks that will help the Province in its efforts toward self-sufficiency:
An increasing population: "Through 2009, we will increase our population by at least 6,000 people. By 2015, we aim to grow New Brunswick's population by 25,000 people - putting us on track to hit 100,000 more New Brunswickers by 2026."
Significant new job growth: "From our last election to the next one, we will have created 25- 30,000 new jobs here in New Brunswick."
Active Approach to Social Development: "We plan on dropping the social assistance caseload by 2,500 over the course of our mandate."
Ceiling on power rates: "Barring unforeseen circumstances, the maximum average power rate increase for each of the next three years through 2010 will not surpass three per cent."
"There is no question that we will face significant challenges in the quest for self-sufficiency," Graham said. "However, I see skills, energy and passion each day in my fellow New Brunswickers, and I am energized by the potential that exists here. I am confident that we can achieve our goals, and I look forward to the work that lies ahead in the coming year."
The full text of the speech can be found online.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, Office of the Premier, 506-453-2144.