On Campus

New Brunswick keeps tuition freeze

Province posts largest deficit in history

New Brunswick’s $1.6-billion budget released Tuesday includes millions for post-secondary education. The province’s tuition freeze will be extended another year and new campuses for  New Bunswick Community College (NBCC) will be built.

Shawn Graham’s Liberal government announced $19 million in capital funding for the Centre of Excellence for Energy and Construction in Saint John, $11.7 million for the Allied Health Centre, also in Saint John, and $22 million for the new NBCC campus in Edmundston next to the Université de Moncton. The budget also includes $3 million for the multi-trade shop at the Bathurst community college.  Almost $10 million will go towards a new NBCC campus in Fredericton, which will be hosted next to the University of New Brunswick. The university is leasing the land to the province.

“We’re trying to be as student-focused as possible,” said Donald Arseneault, minister of post-secondary education, training and labour.

The government also announced that university tuition fees will be frozen for another year — the third year in a row.  Arseneault said that freeze won’t come at the expense of university budgets. “We funded that tuition freeze,” he said. Extending the university tuition freeze next year will cost the government $6.1 million, he said.

He also noted that tuition at community colleges hasn’t increased in the last five years and “we are not raising tuition at the community college level this year.” University operating grants will be increased by $6 million, an increase of three per cent.

New Brunswick will post a $758 million deficit, the largest in the province’s history. Finance Minister Greg Byrne says the red ink is necessary to maintain services. From The Daily Gleaner:

The Liberals are also abandoning their one-year-old plan to return to balanced budgets by 2012 and will violate the Fiscal Responsibility and Balanced Budget Act, which requires budgets be balanced over a four-year cycle.

“This government had a difficult choice to make,” said Byrne.

He said balancing the budget in four years would require cutting $513 million out of the budget by 2012-13.

That’s the equivalent of the collective budgets for the departments of Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour, Transportation and Agriculture and Aquaculture for one year, said the finance minister.

“The government … made the conscious decision to return to balanced budgets over a longer period rather than commit to sweeping reductions in programs and services,” said Byrne.

With files from the Canadian Press