Two major themes have become apparent since the Progressive Conservative took office on October 12, 2010. One is that the province is facing a major fiscal challenge and New Brunswickers recognize the need to address that. Secondly, the public wants to be consulted on important decisions. This article looks at steps that have been taken to deal with these issues.
The New Brunswick Public Accounts indicate the province reported six years of balanced budgets between 1999-2000 and 2007-2008. From 2007-2008 to 2009-2010, government expenses increased 12.5% while revenue was essentially unchanged. Significant deficits were incurred as a result. Fiscal year 2008-2009 reported a deficit of $192.3 million which rose to $737.9 million in 2009-2010. Provincial net debt, which was under $6.6 billion for 2006-2007, grew to $8.4 billion as of December 31, 2010. For 2010-2011, the deficit, estimated at $740 million, will bring the debt to well over $9 billion. The provincial credit rating has been downgraded and the cost to service the public debt for the year ending March 31, 2010, was $616.6 million.