New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said New Brunswickers can expect more spending in the upcoming 2022/23 budget, although revenue isn’t as high as last year.
Standing outside what appeared to be an apartment building under construction, Steeves hinted there will be a rent or tax-related nugget within Tuesday’s budget, although he wouldn’t confirm what it would be exactly.
The Blaine Higgs government reneged on a promise to eliminate the so-called double tax due to pandemic pressures two years ago. The practice sees non-owner occupied residential properties charged both municipal and provincial taxes.
But many New Brunswickers have been calling on the province to ban extensive rent increases, or install a cap.
Steeves wouldn’t say if the almost half-a-billion dollar surplus he announced last month is still the case, only that N.B. is in good financial shape.
“I can tell you that New Brunswick is in about as good a financial shape, according to staff – when I recently spoke with staff about this – they said that, financially, they think we’re in the best shaped we’ve been in, in maybe a couple of decades,” he said.
He also mentioned they are hoping to provide some relief for New Brunswickers, to help with struggles brought on by inflation.
The wish list is long.
The province now has about a $13 billion net debt. Steeves says that’s down about one billion since he took office.
There are ongoing labour shortages within the healthcare system, demands to increase the pay of some long-term care home employees, and improve access to mental health support.
Health Minister Dorothy Shephard announced Monday the province will be funding more nursing graduate seats at the University of New Brunswick and the Universite de Moncton. The hope is that the funding will add 85 seats across both universities.
The N.B. budget is expected to be tabled around 1 p.m. Tuesday.