FREDERICTON (GNB) – Today’s speech from the throne focused on the government’s priorities and included initiatives planned in the six key priority areas to build upon progress made over the past year.

Lt.-Gov. Brenda Murphy read the speech from the throne on behalf of government, opening the third session of the 59th legislature.

“Time and again, New Brunswickers have shown we are stronger together,” said Murphy. “This spirit of collaboration will continue to be important as this legislative session begins. We must work together if we want to make lasting improvements, ones that will benefit New Brunswickers not just today, but for generations to come.”

The speech from the throne details the provincial government’s legislative and policy agenda. The government has identified six priority areas: delivering dependable public health care; creating a world-class education system; energizing the private sector; creating vibrant and sustainable communities; ensuring the government is affordable and responsive; and transforming the civil service into a high-performing organization.

These priorities have timelines, measurable goals and the results will be made public.

“When we all work together to find solutions to the challenges we face, we all share in the success we achieve,” said Premier Blaine Higgs. “Imagine what is possible if we continue to focus on our priorities and make improvements in areas that matter the most to New Brunswickers.”

Initiatives outlined in the throne speech include:

Dependable Public Health Care

  • Improve mental health services through working with subject-matter experts.
  • Develop a physician resource strategy that will build on the elimination of the physician billing number system.
  • Introduce amendments to the Prescription and Catastrophic Drug Insurance Act and the Prescription Drug Payment Act.
  • Propose amendments to the Essential Services in Nursing Homes Act to better protect residents, workers and taxpayers.
  • Enhance emergency departments and open nurse practitioner clinics in Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton.

World-Class Education

  • Explore new educational approaches to teach more students to learn both official languages.
  • Increase opportunities for children and youth to engage in experiential learning.
  • Engage in discussions with First Nations in New Brunswick to renew the Enhanced First Nation Education Programs and Services Agreement.
  • Introduce amendments to the Education Act to further empower and engage educators to innovate in the classroom.

Energized Private Sector

  • Increase immigration, using the benchmarks set out in the Population Growth Strategy and the New Brunswick Francophone Immigration Action plan as guides.
  • Modernize the Aquaculture Act and amend the Seafood Processing Act.
  • Establish the New Brunswick First Procurement Strategy.
  • Reduce red tape for New Brunswick businesses.
  • Address WorkSafe New Brunswick’s recommendations in response to the Workplace Health, Safety and Compensations Commission and Workers’ Compensation Tribunal Act.

Vibrant and Sustainable Communities

  • Work with local governments on priority municipal reform areas and help with regionalization efforts.
  • Introduce amendments to the Climate Change Act to allow for the regulation of greenhouse gas emissions from the province’s large emitters and establish a New Brunswick carbon pricing system.
  • Develop and release a long-term plan to better address the impact of flooding and shoreline erosion in New Brunswick.
  • Form an All Nations and Parties Working Group on Truth and Reconciliation to keep government accountable and give departments a greater understanding of the priorities of First Nations.
  • Amend the Residential Tenancies Act to allow victims of domestic violence to terminate their lease agreement early if there is a threat to their safety or a child’s safety.

Affordable and Sustainable Government

  • Review programs and services to find ways to improve the province’s financial situation.
  • Develop a tax reform roadmap that will include a review of all major taxation programs.
  • Develop and implement evidence-based tools to improve operational efficiencies and maximize value for money within the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

High-Performing Organization

  • Re-establish a government-labour steering committee.
  • Ensure succession plans are in place for critical positions within the public service.
  • Amend the Conflict of Interest Act and the Right to Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

The complete text of the speech from the throne is available online.