Premier Brian Gallant’s announcement of a $7-million investment in a literacy fund, $230 million towards mental health and health care and a pledge to lower taxes for small businesses dominated the State of the Province Address Thursday, leaving the post-secondary education topic behind.
At the Fredericton Convention Centre, Gallant told around 200 attendees the economy, education and healthcare are his priorities.
“When it comes to economic growth, there is no doubt that infrastructure investments are creating jobs,” he said.
Gallant also addressed the relationship between Canada and the United States, emphasizing the importance of trade ties.
“We need to communicate that millions of jobs in the U.S. are directly created because of trade with Canada,” he said.
Gallant spoke briefly about the Tuition Access Bursary, saying he is proud of the progress made on that front.
“Our free tuition program is something we believe will have … lasting impact.”
Jamie Gillies, communications and public policy professor at St. Thomas University, said there wasn’t too much talk about broader post-secondary education issues compared to previous addresses.
“I think you only have time to focus on certain themes,” he said.
Gillies said students should understand what the TAB means and how it’s linked with the economy, and why people in New Brunswick wanted TAB.
He said this State of the Province Address was typical because it was mostly a recap of the past two years’ accomplishments.
“He was also setting up at the end of that speech where they’re setting the vision for New Brunswick in the future and that’s the unofficial start of an election campaign,” Gillies said.
“[Addresses] can be opportunities to talk about new policy initiatives and new investments but this was more like a greatest hits where you’re playing what you’ve done since you were elected, so you can demonstrate to voters and to the public that you are accomplishing something.”
Gillies said he believes the strongest argument made in the address was the emphasis on the bilateral deals made with the Trudeau government.
“That highlights the belief that this government feels that the national government is popular and that close personal connection they have to the federal government will benefit New Brunswick and that’s a strong selling point for a province that relies on the federal government,” Gillies said.
Gallant also addressed the importance of legalizing marijuana, an increase in population thanks to immigration and cyber security as an interesting growth opportunity.