Office of the Premier
State of the province address: 2009 will see strong and determined leadership (09/01/29)
Jan. 29, 2009
FREDERICTON (CNB) - Government will provide strong and determined leadership in 2009, and will use smart investments and financial restraint to stimulate the economy and
weather the current financial downturn. That was the theme of the annual state of the province address delivered today by Premier Shawn Graham.
Graham outlined plans to improve New Brunswick's economic standing through spending restraint and smart investments.
"When faced with difficult choices, New Brunswickers greet each challenge as an opportunity - with courage, with conviction and with wisdom," Graham said. "I realize that in
times such as these, people are looking to government not only to make the right decisions, but to demonstrate leadership and to address the serious challenges we face. Leading
New Brunswick through these difficult times requires that we all do our fair share."
Following are some of the key points outlined in the Premier's speech:
The province has made the commitment to lead by example, using smart investments and financial restraint to stimulate the economy. These efforts include:
- an extensive program and service review to focus government spending in areas where it is most needed, and where it can have the greatest economic impact;
- more than $1.2 billion in capital investments, and the creation of about 6,000 person-years of employment, stimulating the economy in the short- and medium-term;
- more than $100 million in tax reductions in the 2009-10 provincial budget, reducing the personal and corporate tax burden and positioning the province as having one of the most
competitive tax regimes in North America.
"We also know that government investments need to be focused during an economic downturn, and we believe it is important that our government be there to help and support New
Brunswickers during their time of greatest need," Graham said.
- The agriculture, aquaculture, fisheries and forestry industries will greatly boost the province's economic situation.
- The province's fishery has focused on market demands, and is positioned to take advantage of new opportunities.
- Focusing growth in the aquaculture sector will be discussed at an aquaculture summit this spring.
- Ocean Spray, the world's largest cranberry grower, has chosen Rogersville as its new regional hub, which will bring up to 100 jobs to rural New Brunswick.
- A new $1.7-billion potash mine in Sussex currently employs nearly 200 people, and the mine will create 140 permanent jobs.
- Plans to establish New Brunswick as a major energy hub for North America continue, and will see many jobs created.
- Irving Oil's plans for the new Eider Rock refinery will result in an investment of $4 billion, and a peak of 2,500 to 3,000 construction jobs.
- Canaport LNG is nearly 95 per cent complete, with 1,000 workers on-site each day, and operations expected to begin in the spring.
- Corridor Resources Inc. plans to invest $60 million in 2009, primarily for drilling and completing additional natural gas production wells.
- Refurbishment continues on Point Lepreau as talks begin on a second nuclear generating station that would provide 400-500 high-paying permanent jobs.
- Wind- and water-energy-generating power projects continue.
Graham outlined four benchmarks for the government's success over the course of its mandate, and included progress made during the past year. The benchmarks include:
- continuing population growth, now halfway to the goal of 6,000 new residents by the end of 2009;
- continued limitation of power rate increases, capped at three per cent for 2009-10;
- employment growth in New Brunswick of 15,800 since taking office in October 2006; and
- reducing the social assistance caseload by 1,433, more than halfway to achieving a 2,500 reduction by the end of the government's mandate.
Graham also reflected on many of the accomplishments of ongoing projects throughout the province, including:
- bringing 107 more doctors to the province, with another 18 expected soon;
- increasing the number of nurses in the province;
- becoming only the second province in Canada to permit pharmacists to prescribe certain medications;
- consolidating ambulance services under a single public-sector company;
- 94 per cent of the 113 actions in Phase 1 of When Kids Come First being underway;
- a five percentage point improvement in Grade 7 literacy;
- a seven percentage point increase in anglophone Grade 2 literacy since 2006;
- a 10 percentage point increase in literacy for francophone Grade 2 students;
- establishing 440 new community college seats for 2008-09, and plans for a further 500 for 2009-10; and
- highest-ever rates of employment for New Brunswick college graduates, with 90 per cent of those graduates working in the province.
"In the past year we have built the foundation for self-sufficiency in spite of economic challenges," Graham said. "I look for that trend to continue in the coming year. When we are
confronted with unprecedented challenges, let us counter with unparalleled ingenuity. And let us be able to say that each of us did his or her share to build a better New Brunswick."
The full text of the speech may be found online.
MEDIA CONTACT: Marie-Andrée Bolduc, communications, Office of the Premier, 506-453-2144.