21 February 2017

New Brunswick Tourism Department still undecided on Canada 150 spending

By Jeremy Keefe, Global News

New Brunswick’s Tourism, Heritage and Culture department has been allotted $5 million of this year’s budget to celebrate Canada’s 150 birthday, but just how that money will be used is still to be determined.

Questions about the funding were raised Tuesday as departments are being put under the microscope two weeks after the New Brunswick government announced their 2017-18 budget.

Tourism, Heritage and Culture, thought to be one of the budget’s “winners” receiving approximately $60 million – a 17 per cent increase from what was budgeted the previous year – was the first department called to the Standing Committee on Estimates and Fiscal policy proceedings.

With $5 million committed in the budget for the country’s celebrations, opposition MLAs questioned what the money will be used for, a line of questioning Minister John Ames said his department isn’t ready to answer.

“We’re going to be getting ideas and we’re going to be getting options from the actual Canada 150 fund that the federal government has in place,” Ames explained. “There’s people that are going to be making applications and have made applications to the existing funds that we have in our department.”

Portland-Simonds MLA Trevor Holder also questioned Ames on government plans for the New Brunswick Museum, the longest continued museum in the country’s history.

“Let’s start negotiating with the feds on a solution for the New Brunswick museum,” he said. “We can’t have the founder of the New Brunswick museum being recognized, and rightfully so, with the order of New Brunswick this year and not realize this has a significant place in Canadian history.”

“This needs to be a priority going forward.”

Although Ames agreed with Holder’s sentiments on its significance he wouldn’t commit to putting the Canada 150 funds directly into enhancements to the museum.

“The museum is certainly relevant and there’s a lot of facets to that file that we need to spend a lot of time on,” Ames explained. “We cant be haphazardly making decisions on what’s going to take place on the future of the museum.”