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Fredericton chamber reacts to 2013 New Brunswick Speech from the Throne

For Immediate Release

[6 November 2013]

(FREDERICTON, NB) – The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce listened to the Alward government’s final Speech from the Throne before the 2014 election with great interest. Throughout this legislative session and beyond, the chamber encourages the government to maintain focus on controlling the provincial debt and deficit through prudent, strategic spending and economic growth.

The chamber is encouraged by references in the speech to working“… to strengthen its partnership with the federal government to ensure that federal funding in support of infrastructure and the labour market meets provincial needs.” Leveraging federal funding, particularly regarding funds being made available in 2014 through the New Building Canada Plan as announced by the federal government in March will be key to most efficiently developing and maintaining infrastructure in the province. The chamber also encourages the Province to work with municipalities in determining where infrastructure projects are most needed.

The Fredericton chamber is pleased to hear that the One-Job Pledge initiative will be expanded in the coming weeks. “The chamber agrees with the government that the One-Job Pledge has been a very successful program for creating employment in the province,” stated Krista Ross, chamber CEO. “Many chamber members have taken advantage of the program. Targeting such a key demographic – recent graduates – is also a priority for the chamber, as evidenced by the recent Choose Fredericton event, which was accomplished in conjunction with the City, Province and six local post-secondary institutions.”

The chamber supports the responsible development of the province’s natural resources. Forestry, the fishery, energy and value-added food are all potential sources of wealth creation in the province. Using these resources while maintaining a high level of environmental stewardship is necessary to create employment, reduce the debt and deficit, and attract and retain skilled workers – precursors to accelerating economic growth in the province.

Similarly, the chamber continues to support pension reform in the public and private sectors. Ensuring stability and long-term viability in pension funds will be critical to ensuring that pensioners retain spending power as well as improving the Province’s credit rating and financial stability.

However, the pending Drug Plan for Uninsured New Brunswickers remains a concern for the chamber. To the extent that details are available, it is becoming increasingly clear that the proposed model is not one that the Province or many of the small- and medium-sized businesses therein can afford at this time. The combination of a new payroll tax, increases to the minimum wage, and reluctance to reduce the small business tax to 2.5% as promised will result in reduced hours of employment, stalled workforce expansion and in some cases, businesses becoming unviable.

“With such a large percentage of our members being very small businesses, the added costs of a payroll tax and the administrative burden are a serious concern for the chamber,” said Chris Johnston, chamber president. “If a drug plan is to be implemented for uninsured New Brunswickers, we are strongly encouraging the government to deliver it through efficiencies in government spending and not on the backs of small business through additional taxes. Additional taxation would provide significant challenges for business in a province already experiencing an unemployment rate above 10%.”

The Fredericton chamber is looking forward to maintaining an active working relationship with the provincial government on its priority issues. With this government’s stated “…focus on the economy, as well as protecting and creating jobs [being] a centrepiece for attention and action,” the chamber and the business community at large is a valuable resource for providing timely and relevant information – particularly on the needs of small business, which Premier Alward has previously stated is the ‘engine of the economy.’

With more than 900 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada’s largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment.

Contact: Krista Ross, Chief Executive Officer, 458-8006.

pdfNovember 6, 2013 - Fredericton chamber reacts to 2013 NB Speech from the Throne