Question Period: Corporate Tax or Lack of… April 29, 2015

Mr. Coon: The Minister of Finance keeps saying that he wants everyone to pay just a little more to balance the books and that he wants to be fair about it. Yet, New Brunswick has one of the lowest corporate tax rates in the country. Instead of the government asking corporations to pay a little bit more, they remain untouched, so we have the unfair cuts that are disproportionately falling on women, most recently targeting private day care owners.

Why does the minister refuse to ask corporations to pay a little more and to pay their fair share instead of putting at risk small businesses, largely owned by women, which provide needed child care and early learning for our children?

L’hon. M. Melanson : Les parlementaires du côté de l’opposition peuvent interpréter les faits comme ils le veulent, mais la réalité est que, au cours du processus budgétaire qui a mené au dépôt de notre budget, nous avons demandé à tous ceux et celles qui ont une plus grande capacité de payer d’en faire un petit peu plus. C’est pourquoi nous demandons au 1 % de notre population qui est plus nanti, soit les gens qui gagnent 150 000 $ et plus par année, de payer un peu plus d’impôts.

Nous avons aussi pris une décision, qui est entrée en vigueur en janvier, par l’entremise delaquelle les entreprises non résidentielles reviennent au taux d’impôt foncier de 2012, ce qui permettra de générer 30 millions de dollars de plus pour essayer de redresser nos finances publiques.

Nous sommes dans une situation difficile, et, en tant que ministre des Finances, j’ai l’obligation d’avoir une politique budgétaire saine et efficace. Je me dois aussi d’avoir une politique budgétaire qui permettra une croissance économique et qui permettra de voir des emplois…

Mr. Speaker: Time, minister.

Mr. Coon: If our corporate tax rate were at parity with Nova Scotia’s, it would generate $68 million in new revenue so the government could avoid undermining the viability of our private day cares. It could avoid laying off teachers and paramedics. It could keep the tax rebate for new graduates, and it could avoid increasing costs for seniors. It looks to me as though the minister is making these cuts so he can afford to keep rock-bottom corporate tax rates.

J.D. Irving and Irving Oil have a combined worth of $12 billion in this province. How does the minister justify keeping their corporate tax rates in the cellar while undermining the viability and affordability of private day cares?

Hon. Mr. Melanson: When I listen to members from both parties in opposition, I think they are not really paying attention to the challenges that we have in this province. They are not really understanding that we have an economic challenge where we want to see economic growth and job creation and keep New Brunswickers here to work. That is why this government is so focused on seeing job creation and seeing our tax base grow.

Those members also do not pay attention to the fact that we have a structural deficit of about $400 million that we need to resolve. When we get to a position where we have, at a minimum, a balance or a surplus, we will have a different discussion as a society. Certainly, I would like to  see the opposition members from all sides be part of the solution, stop criticizing and complaining, and offer constructive ideas on how we can resolve our challenges together.

That is why we, as a government, are not going to shy away from these serious challenges. We are making difficult decisions to make life better.

Mr. Speaker: Time, minister.

Mr. Coon: Adding $68 million to our revenue stream is a constructive idea. Cutting teachers and undermining our essential services like private day care to keep corporate taxes low for corporations that already receive a break on their power bills, a break on their taxes, and, if they are natural resource companies, a break on their royalties . . . This is not even to talk about the handouts that large, profitable enterprises will get in the next year.

While the taxes paid by publicly traded corporations are public information, the taxes paid by private companies like J.D. Irving and Irving Oil are not. How are New Brunswickers to know whether the Irving companies are paying their fair share? Fairness is one of the criteria that the minister has established for his budget. Will the Minister of Finance commit to posting online the corporate taxes paid by privately owned corporations in this province so that New Brunswickers can see for sure whether everyone is paying their fair share?

Hon. Mr. Melanson: One thing I will commit to is respecting the law on how things are

reported in New Brunswick and certainly across the land. I think it is important that we really stop and reflect on the situation that we have in our province. The fact is that we need to be constructive and to find solutions together so that we are able to resolve these challenges and so that we can get into a situation where we have a balanced budget and a surplus. We can then start to invest strategically in programs like senior care and health care, and we can get the economy back on track.

I listen to the opposition members, and they keep questioning, criticizing, and sometimes fearmongering with New Brunswickers about what the reality is. Now is the time for us, as elected officials, to work together to resolve these issues and to get to a situation in which we can be back on track as a province.

Mr. Speaker: The time for question period has expired.


April 29, 2015 Not finalized / Non finalisé le 29 avril 2015