The province is deficit-free this year and will have balanced budgets for the next two years, Premier Blaine Higgs said during his first State of the Province speech on Thursday night.
Around 800 New Brunswickers and business leaders filled the Fredericton Convention Centre on Thursday night to see Higgs deliver the annual address, presented by the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce.
A video played before Higgs spoke which said three of his four daughters are not living in the province, and that he’d love for them to come back. This became a major theme that ran throughout the night.
“Whatever your dream is, you should be able to live it at home, in the place you love, working with the people you love,” Higgs said. “There’s such an opportunity for us to work together with one goal in mind: and that’s rebuilding, fixing and seeing a New Brunswick that brings people home.”
Higgs’ plan is to focus on spurring private economic growth to generate tax revenue for services.
“Without citizens willing to give, no amount of spending and no amount of doctors could provide the care we need,” he said, speaking of several prolific blood donors. “That’s the sense of a shared mission we want to inspire. That’s the big citizenship our times demand. We need an all hands on deck approach. Every single New Brunswicker can be part of the solution.”
Higgs also mentioned the contentious carbon tax, calling it a “revenue generator” for the Federal Liberals. He pledged to continue to fight the tax.
He said his party has accepted that climate change is real, and can meet emission targets without taxing people more.
Higgs most enduring promise from the night was towards the end of his speech, when he said the Progressive-Conservative minority government will have a balanced budget for the current fiscal year.
He committed to keeping this promise every year he and the PCs are in power.
“I’m going to be part of raising New Brunswick, and I’m going to be part of bringing our province back on the map,” he said. “People are going to say, ‘what happened to New Brunswick?’ New Brunswick’s on the move.”