April 1, 2019 3:40 pm
Updated: April 1, 2019 8:47 pm

Impact of carbon tax on New Brunswick businesses remains murky

WATCH: As New Brunswick begins to live with a carbon tax, business owners say a lot remains uncertain about how businesses will be affected. Silas Brown has the latest.

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As New Brunswick begins to live with a carbon tax, the Saint John Chamber of Commerce says a lot remains uncertain about how businesses will be affected.

“We don’t know what the trickle-down effect is going to look like,” said CEO David Duplisea.

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“Businesses are left at the bottom of the chain saying, ‘OK, how is this going to affect me? I don’t know enough details yet.’ I know, initially, it’s not going to be positive, but as you said, the longer-term ramifications is really what’s causing the fear.”

READ MORE: Federal carbon tax could push N.B. drivers across border in search of cheaper gas

Duplisea says chamber members aren’t anti-environment or even anti-carbon tax; mostly, they’re worried about how the four-cent rise in fuel costs will reverberate across the economy.

“Our businesses are very supportive of climate change initiatives. We’re not in favour of pollution and we believe that there should be some sort of a price or tax on carbon. We believe in climate change,” he said.

“You know our region is very evident to some of the results of climate change with our continual flooding…. Well, just because I’m against a carbon tax doesn’t mean I’m in favour of pollution.”

Jordi Morgan of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business says small businesses are liable to be particularly hard hit.

“A lot of businesses don’t have the room to raise prices and still remain competitive so they’re going to be looking for that money elsewhere. That may come from jobs or that may come from further investment in their company,” he said.

WATCH: Andrew Scheer defends ‘robo-texts’ on federal carbon tax

While consumers are being at least partially compensated for the increases with tax rebates, Morgan says the picture for businesses is still much murkier.

“Right now, they’re feeling a great deal of uncertainty about how they’re going to report, what sort of red tape this is going to incur, how they’re going to get any money back — if they are, indeed, getting any money back,” he said.

WATCH: Carbon tax fuels higher gas prices and plenty of political spin

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