Gallant commits millions of dollars to Saint John, halting cuts to emergency services
Published Friday, February 9, 2018 9:01PM AST
An election year financial lifeline from the New Brunswick government seems likely to head off pending cuts to police and fire services in Saint John.
Premier Brian Gallant was in the port city Friday to announce millions in new funding.
Gallant said $270 million will go to infrastructure projects, $50 million to tourism assets, $10 million to poverty initiatives, and $273 million to the Youth Employment Fund.
Gallant promised an additional $22.8 million over the next three years if Saint John's deficit is not eliminated.
"This agreement with the Gallant government will go a long way toward restoring our fiscal health,” Saint John Mayor Don Darling said Friday.
Opposition Leader Brian Higgs says the devil will be in the details.
"Brian Gallant will spend any amount of taxpayer money to keep his job,” Higgs said. “We are witnessing a pattern of hollow promises with few or no details on timelines and specific initiatives in his re-election campaign."
The city of Saint John’s latest budget saw $1.25 million in cuts to both police and fire services. This new funding from the province will avoid cuts to these frontline services.
"All of us were worried about what that was going to mean if those cuts came through,” said Peter Alexander of the Firefighter Association. “Of course, the number one is the protection of our citizens."
“We implemented a tough budget, which I supported,” Darling said. “Those were the options we had in front us. But now we've got some new options today, which allows us to put some of that on the backburner while we work on some longer term solutions."
Longer term solutions would mean establishing a select committee of city and provincial staff.
“It gives us a seat at the provincial table,” says councillor Donna Reardon, “and being able, from the trenches, to talk to the province about what our issues are."
The committee is expected to be established by the end of 2018.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Mary Cranston.