New Brunswick economic recovery accelerates thanks to early containment of COVID-19

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The provinces that have had the most success in tackling the COVID-19 virus – like New Brunswick – are now reaping millions of dollars in benefits from this achievement, a series of economic data is revealing.On Tuesday, new figures released by Statistics Canada showed that while all provinces suffered a drop in retail sales in April and May compared to last year, it was hundreds of millions of dollars less severe in the provinces. regions with low infection rates and early transition to business. openings.

“Some of the numbers are really good,” New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said of the province’s speed of recovery.

According to the latest figures, retail sales for April and May in New Brunswick in 11 key unadjusted sectors totaled $ 1.94 billion. That’s a 16% drop. 100% over last year, but significantly better than the 25.3% drop. 100 nationally registered.

The difference represents $ 215 million in additional retail sales in New Brunswick compared to slower recovering provinces and the recoupment of millions of dollars in sales tax revenue and hundreds of retail jobs.

New Brunswick Finance Minister Ernie Steeves said the province was reaping the rewards in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. The number of cases in New Brunswick was the lowest among the 10 provinces and 50 US states. (CBC)

“We walked on it pretty early on and stopped things,” Steeves said. “It’s a tough remedy, but it gave us the flexibility to open up a little earlier than the others and it paid off. ”

Two weeks ago, Statistics Canada reported that New Brunswick had 350,400 people working in the province in June, 97.6 per cent. 100 of those who worked a year ago in June. This is the highest year-over-year job retention rate in Canada and well above the national average of 91.5%.

Record home sales

Additionally, last week, the Canadian Real Estate Association said its members’ New Brunswick home sales, which are not included in Statistics Canada’s retail survey, set a new record. monthly of $ 245.2 million in June. This involved the sale of 1,230 units, an increase of 25.4% from last June and nearly double the national increase.

“This (1,230 units) was also a new sales record for the month of June and the highest monthly level (in New Brunswick) in history,” said a statement from the association.

New Brunswick does not charge sales tax on home purchases unless the home is new. But it charges a 1% ownership transfer fee on sales, which generated a record $ 2.5 million for the month.

“Every income bracket matters,” Steeves said.

Lockdown mid-March

The accelerated return to economic activity in New Brunswick is a tangible benefit to the province’s success in controlling the spread of COVID-19. This allowed businesses to open earlier and economic activity to move closer to normal more quickly.

The New Brunswick government closed all schools in the province on March 13, two days after the province recorded its first case of COVID-19. A full state of emergency that forced most businesses to shut was declared six days later and within a week, borders with neighboring provinces and Maine were also closed to all travelers except essential travelers.

New Brunswick auto dealers sold $ 304 million worth of new vehicles in April and May, more than neighboring Nova Scotia for the first time in more than 19 years. (Roger Cosman / CBC)

New Brunswick has consistently had one of the lowest COVID-19 infection rates in the world and the lowest of any Canadian province and U.S. state since.

As of Tuesday, New Brunswick had recorded just 170 infections, a rate of 22 per 100,000 population. This is 93 percent lower than the Canadian average (295 infections per 100,000) and 98 percent higher than the average infection rate in the United States (1,158 per 100,000).

New Brunswick garden centers and hardware stores both set sales records this spring. The two combined for a turnover of $ 184 million in April and May, up 29% from last year. (Roger Cosman / CBC)

In mid-April, the province slowly began to reopen its economy, starting with garden centers. By the end of May, most companies had been licensed to operate in New Brunswick, but with restrictions pending.

Steeves is hopeful that the number of cases will remain low and that the recovery will continue.

“It’s hard to know exactly where you are going,” he says. “We are in uncharted territory with this every day. But we are planning the best we can to overcome. “

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