People’s Alliance Party Leader Kris Austin Commentary: Government Can Not Tax It’s Way Into Prosperity
On May 12&13 the People’s Alliance held its Annual General Meeting at the Fredericton Delta. Despite the beautiful Saturday afternoon weather, the event was well attended and the excitement was palpable. Members and supporters came from all across the province to elect the Provincial Board and discuss current issues that affect all New Brunswickers.
During the two day session we had three prominent guest speakers: Dr. Darm Singh, President of the NB Medical Society; Vern Faulkner, former journalist; and Willy Scholten, CFO of Colpitts Development and the Property Tax Spokesman for the NB Apartment Owners Association. Each individual brought a wealth of information to the crowd, offering insight into the challenges facing citizens of this province.
Although each presentation was a true eye opener, for the sake of time I’d like to focus on Mr. Scholten and his presentation on property taxes. He started by relaying that his fight against this unfair form of taxation began in 2004, believing at that time that such an unfair system (once pointed out to government) would be quickly changed and overturned. However, fourteen years later his battle continues with no substantial movement to undo this lopsided tax.
There are things in New Brunswick that are just plain wrong, and the double tax would be at the top of the list. Every Province in Canada has its own system of taxation, each one tweaked a little different to suit the needs of the residents, yet all of them working within a reasonable structure that advocates fairness and balance. Not New Brunswick. Nay, our governments have chosen to chart their own course of taxation that better reflects a Banana Republic than a true and fair system of government revenue.
New Brunswick is the only province in Canada that charges a double tax. Take for example two cities on opposite ends of the country, Vancouver and Saint John. In 2016 (according to the New Brunswick Apartment Owners Association) the tax rate for apartments in Saint John was 2.97 for every $100 of assessed property. Therefore, an apartment building in that city assessed at $500,000 would have the owner paying $14,850 in total taxes. In Vancouver, the apartment tax rate is 0.43 for every $100 of assessed property, meaning the owner of the very same building in Vancouver would be paying $2,150 in taxes. In other words, Saint John pays approximately 7x more in property taxes than Vancouver (yes, you read that right). Ultimately, those ridiculous taxes are applied to rental fees, making tenants living in apartments and rented homes pay more to government than what is reasonable and fair. It also affects anyone who owns a cottage or second home, or anyone who operates a business in the very same way.
It’s not hard to draw a straight line between lack of development and high taxes. Why would a business come to New Brunswick to be taxed out of any profit incentive when they could make twice as much in Nova Scotia, Ontario, or Quebec? If this province is ever going to see a robust economy it has to rethink how the government generates revenue, and just as importantly how it spends that revenue.
This is a massive problem and a huge disadvantage for the people of New Brunswick, and if you add in the recent property tax scandal it becomes even more burdensome. The People’s Alliance is the only political party calling for an end to the double tax. Eliminating this unfair tax would lower rent for tenants, spur development, and put us in line with the rest of Canada. Why are we allowing outside investment to continue to skirt our beautiful province, resulting in high unemployment and poverty?
You cannot tax your way to prosperity. The People’s Alliance will bring in a rational and balanced tax reform plan that puts more money back into your pocket while also growing the economy. When you apply some common sense and reason, government policy can work for the people.
People’s Alliance Party