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Higgs defends N.B. inflation-relief program against calls for broader help


New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs was defending his government’s decision to focus inflation relief on low-income earners instead of the general population, one day after announcing a new rising cost-of-living program.

Wednesday’s announcement included $225 for low-income individuals and $450 for families that already receive provincial low-income or housing benefits.

Higgs said more than 75,000 residents would be eligible for the program and money would be sent out before the end of the month.

The official opposition said a 10 cent reduction in the provincial portion of its sales tax would’ve made a broader impact, following similar inflation-relief methods in Alberta, Ontario, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Data from Statistics Canada in May showed Alberta had some inflation relief as a result of the move.

Renaud Brossard of the Canadian Taxpayers’ Federation said New Brunswick had the ability to follow suit within its own inflation-relief program.

“The fact is, 31 per cent of the price of gasoline is taxes in New Brunswick,” said Brossard. “The higher the price of gas, the more revenue the government gets.”

“Lowering the gas tax would’ve provided a lot more help to a lot more people in a much more permanent fashion.”

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Higgs disagreed a gas tax reduction would be suitable as a long-term strategy for inflation relief.

“We can’t chase this and go down the road of saying, ‘Five cents here,’ and ‘Ten cents there,’ and the next day it goes up and eliminates all that assistance,” said Higgs.

He said his government’s goal was to get help to the population that needed it most, quickly.

All three Maritime provincial governments have resisted making any moves in giving up their provincial gas tax portion.

New Brunswick’s provincial fuel tax is 10.87 cents per litre.

Nova Scotia’s provincial fuel tax is 15.5 cents per litre.

Prince Edward Island’s provincial fuel tax is 8.47 cents per litre. Top Stories

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