New Brunswick’s ‘underwhelming’ budget leaves business community wanting more

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick business community expected more from provincial budget'
New Brunswick business community expected more from provincial budget
WATCH: For the business community in New Brunswick, this week's provincial budget isn’t exactly what it was looking for. Chambers of commerce say businesses are looking for tax relief and help growing the provincial workforce. Zack Power reports. – Mar 23, 2023

The New Brunswick business community is calling for more from the provincial government after what they’re calling a “status quo” budget for the new fiscal year.

Tax rates for small businesses and immigration targeted to help a shortage in labour have been sited as the two of the big wants from the community after the provincial government announced their budget on Tuesday.

“There wasn’t much for small or medium-sized business in this budget,” said Louis-Philippe Gauthier, Atlantic Vice-President of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB).

“We would have liked to see some movement on increasing the small business threshold for taxation from $500,000 to $1,000,00.”

The minister of finance for New Brunswick said that he had meetings with the CFIB and told reporters that it was a “really good plan,” but they couldn’t put a timeline on when the groundwork would be laid.

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Earnie Steeves said he would be willing to “raise the barrier” and go with a similar plan to what the CFIB is suggesting.

Saint John Region Chamber of Commerce CEO David Duplisea said that increasing that taxation threshold would incentivize businesses to grow throughout the region. He said upping the cap allowed on profit would continue to open the doors for those throughout the city.

Both Duplisea and Gauthier are hopeful that the province can do quick work of introducing that and bring it into next year’s budget.

“He did indicate that he did listen to our recommendation, so we’ll continue to work on that and hopefully see that in the next budget,” told Gauthier.

Steeves said he would have to take it to cabinet before budgeting the tax change. The minister said that he has spoken to Primer Blaine Higgs, and changes would be considered for next year’s budget.

The budget had no surprises for the business community throughout New Brunswick, as many got what they were expecting this year.

“This government is historically a government known for restrained spending,” told Duplisea in an interview with Global News.

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“It’s no surprise that the spending levels are less than inflation, with coming in around 5% spending and inflation just over 7%. So a little underwhelming from that perspective.”

He said that the government’s restrained spending was a good move by the province and noted that many business community members understood the province’s fiscal needs.

“In our handling of the public purse, we are on the right track. Our credit rating is great, our net debt to GDP ratio is falling, so we’re managing the money okay, but while we’re doing that, the house is a little bit on fire,” told John Wishart with the Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton.

Wishart said that the Moncton area has been going through the pains of social issues affecting the downtown core. He said that the province’s healthcare system, coupled with housing and immigration, has opened served as the firestarter for some of New Brunswick’s issues.

“It might be pennywise and pound-foolish,” he said.

— with files from Silas Brown

Click to play video: 'New Brunswick tables $12.2B budget'
New Brunswick tables $12.2B budget

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