The New Brunswick Speech from the Throne was delivered this afternoon by Lieutenant-Governor Brenda Murphy amidst the backdrop of a potential snap election.
Regardless of whether an election happens in the short-term, or the scheduled fall of 2024, this is the last Throne Speech that will be delivered in this term. Premier Blaine Higg’s PC government secured a majority of seats in the New Brunswick Legislature in 2020, after governing in a minority context since 2018.
Speculation has been rampant in recent weeks that the Premier might wish to go to the polls, in relation to unrest among certain members of the PC Caucus. The Premier noted in early October, “The question we face is will the focus be on delivering results for New Brunswickers, or will it be 12 months of political drama causing instability and stagnation in government?”
Elections New Brunswick has been preparing in the event of an imminent vote by hiring temporary election staff and renting space for returning offices.
However, the PC Caucus met earlier this week and election speculation is diminishing.
This throne speech reiterates the priority areas of the government, and the update below is focused on new or modified measures.
Energizing the Private Sector
Considering additional improvements to the New Brunswick Income Tax Act and the Real Property Tax Act.
Increased use of procurement decisions to exercise buying power to work with telecommunications companies on rural broadband and cell service enhancements.
An upcoming integrated energy strategy to provide a pathway for New Brunswick to transition to a cleaner future while also positioning our province to be an energy gateway for economic development.
Diversifying the province’s energy mix including wind, solar, small modular reactors (SMRs), and hydrogen.
Vibrant and Sustainable Communities
Over 10 years, committing $60 million through regional service commissions to support local economic development, labour force development, and newcomer retention services.
A legislated spike protection mechanism for all qualifying properties for the 2025 taxation year.
An increase to the Low Income Seniors Benefit.
By the end of this fiscal year, every inmate in every provincial jail will have access to rehabilitative programming.
Empowering judges and hearing officers to order treatment for Severe Substance Abuse Disorder through the new Compassionate Intervention Act. This legislation is to help, in extreme cases, those individuals who are struggling with addiction and unable to meet their own basic needs.
To improve adult treatment, doubling the capacity for drug rehabilitation with 50 new residential beds.
Increasing law enforcement visibility and effect in rural communities; increasing training and access to tools, including carbines and tasers and disrupting illegal sale of drugs, cannabis and tobacco products.
A new Disability Support Services Model to provide a single-service pathway for individuals with permanent disabilities.
Dependable Public Health Care
Working to create a credential recognition fund and process for specific internationally educated healthcare professionals.
Working to decrease the percentage of doctors working in a solo practice model.
Investments continue to be made to support seniors so they are able to age in place. The Nursing Home Without Walls model has been expanded to 14 more locations and will hit 20 by December. As well, a pilot project to enhance clinical care provided in adult residential facilities has been implemented in 102 locations, with more to come.
Building a Better Education System
A commitment to creating a safe and welcoming learning environment for all students, while still respecting the role of parents.
Increasing opportunities for educational and career pathway exploration.
Re-introducing the teen apprenticeship program for skilled trades careers, building a mobile welding classroom that travels to schools across the province, and by launching a new program in partnership with the New Brunswick Road Builders’ Association that offers hands-on learning for operating heavy equipment.
In the coming years, new schools will open across the province in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John as well as Campbellton, Florenceville and Shediac.
Continuing to expand extended producer responsibility programs for additional products.
Encouraging New Brunswickers to take part in outdoor activities, such as hunting and fishing. The government has made a number of amendments to the Fish and Wildlife Act and its regulations so that more people are able to participate in additional diverse opportunities and by reducing fees for minors.
The Leader of the Opposition will reply to the throne speech later this week, and debate will occur until next Friday, October 27th. At that point, the Premier will close debate a vote will ensue. The throne speech vote is a vote of confidence in the government. The Capital Hill Group will continue to monitor the dynamics of the New Brunswick political scene and provide updates.