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N.B. announces $1 billion fund that aims to 'grow the economy' with job training

FREDERICTON – Struggling New Brunswick, bleeding jobs and red ink, will spend as much as $1-billion on a fund to “create the climate to grow the economy,” Premier Brian Gallant says.

“If you want to give your economy a strong future, key investments in education today is the way to go,” Gallant said Tuesday as he released details of the Education and New Economy Fund that he announced in January.

The fund will co-ordinate new and existing programs in areas of jobs and education, but exact details of how the money would be spent were not forthcoming Tuesday.

“This is a fund that we believe will help our economy, not only by stimulating it by making strategic investments, but also ensuring that we are enroute to having the right conditions for growth by having an educated workforce, a trained workforce, a skilled workforce, and that we’re investing in things that will help us with research and development and innovation,” he said.

Gallant said the fund would be at least $850 million over three years, but more could be added, and at least $250 million dollars will be new funding.

The Opposition called the announcement an effort in rebranding and spin.

Bruce Fitch, leader of the Progressive Conservatives, said he has no expectation of positive results because Gallant will be the minister responsible for the fund.

“He put himself chairman of the Jobs Board and we have a dismal result there. Thirty-eight thousand New Brunswickers are out of work and he’s running around the globe trying to increase his Air Miles points,” Fitch said.

New Brunswick has an unemployment rate of 9.9 per cent.

“We’re going further in debt, and further in debt, and now they’re continuing to spend. They don’t even know what they’re going to spend it on,” Fitch said.

He said the Opposition has been asking questions in the legislature during budget estimates but hasn’t been able to get any answers on how the new fund will work.

“It’s a repackaging, a rebranding and an exercise in spin and communication,” he said.