Fredericton — Get ready: sales tax is going up. And don’t bother complaining to the premier, because he’s having none of it.
Thirty-two-year-old Premier Brian Gallant has been in office only 6 months, and has already grown weary of trying to balance the books and satisfy the wants and needs of all New Brunswickers. Instead of “playing the losing game” of attempting to please everyone, Gallant has decided that he’s not even going to try. Instead, he’s about to make the first radical fiscal change of his tenure by raising the Harmonized Sales Tax to 25 percent in the provincial budget set to be released on March 31. The measure is said to be temporary and it will expire in 5 years.
“Boom! How do you like me now?” asked Gallant. “Wait — don’t tell me, because I don’t give a crap. Just kidding … but not really.”
“The last 6 governments didn’t get the job done,” Gallant continued. “I have to tell you that I’m more than a little tired of the baby boomers wanting to have it all and not pay for it. I’m here to tell those princesses that it is over — time to suck it up. If we keep going like this, who’s going to pay off our billions of dollars of debt? My generation, Generation Y, that’s who — not to mention those poor Gen X’ers. It’s time for everyone to pay the real cost of government services in New Brunswick, and too frickin’ bad if they don’t like it.”
With a HST at a staggering 25 percent, New Brunswick’s value-added sales tax will be by far the highest in Canada. It will be 10 percent higher than the next highest in Nova Scotia and Quebec, 11 percent higher than Prince Edward Island and 12 percent higher than Newfoundland and Labrador, Manitoba and Ontario. The tax hike is expected to raise another $1.62 billion in revenue per year, which will address the structural deficit and begin to pay down the province’s debt.
Finance Minister Roger Melanson is also touting the tax hike. “The province’s fiscal track record has been abysmal in recent years,” he said. “Decisive action is needed to right New Brunswick’s fiscal ship. And of course, this makes my job really easy, so I like that.”
The Liberals are also passing new rules to replace the recently repealed tax legislation of the Tories. The Tory legislation forced a province-wide referendum on big tax hikes. Starting with this fiscal year, the new Liberal legislation will force all new programs and services for both corporations and citizens to be costed in advance. After the program cost is estimated, it will immediately be added to the corporate and personal income taxes before implementation.
“In essence, we are cutting up the proverbial credit card,” explained Melanson. “If people want it, they can have it, but they’re going to pay for it now instead of passing it along to future generations.”
When asked whether the legislation might drive business and people out of the province, Melanson was skeptical. “Look, a lot of people have left already. Anyone still hanging around here is probably not in any rush to leave. It’s like when little kids pack a suitcase and say they’re leaving home because they don’t like this or that. For the most part, they never get too far before they think of an excuse to turn around and come back home. We’ll have milk and cookies waiting for them when they get back, but with a 25-percent levy applied.”
When contacted for comment, Finance Minister Blaine Higgs was unavailable to speak with The Manatee. He was reportedly curled up in a corner, holding a pillow and weeping soulfully.