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New Brunswick had surplus last year, auditor says days ahead of election call

Last Updated Aug 21, 2018 at 12:00 pm EDT

New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant hosts the Canadian premiers meeting in St. Andrews, N.B. on Thursday, July 19, 2018. New Brunswick's Liberal government is promising to provide free second-language training if re-elected in this fall's election. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

FREDERICTON – New Brunswick’s Liberal government got some good pre-election news today: The auditor general says the province actually had a surplus last year.

Audited financial statements, released today, show a surplus of $67 million for the fiscal year of 2017-2018.

Finance Minister Cathy Rogers says the surplus is the result of a decrease in expenditures and a $150 million increase in revenues — largely due to corporate income taxes.

She says the economy is growing at a rate faster than predicted by private sector economists.

However, she says the government is forecasting modest deficits over the next few years — with the net debt expected to top $14 billion by the end of March next year.

The provincial election campaign officially begins Thursday, but Premier Brian Gallant launched his party’s campaign Sunday, and all the parties have been in pre-election mode for weeks.

The Liberals promised today to provide free second-language training if re-elected.

Gallant says it could help attract investment and bring jobs to the province because of a bilingual workforce.

The Progressive Conservatives and the Green Party are also both expected to make announcements today.

The Tories say their first campaign announcement will be at Carleton Park on Fredericton’s north side, while the Green Party plans to launch its campaign with the opening of its Fredericton regional campaign office by leader David Coon.

The NDP says it will launch the official campaign Thursday, so far nominating 29 candidates with plans to run 49 in the vote expected on Sept. 24.