The Official Opposition is calling on the Higgs government to lessen impact of the property assessment spike on New Brunswickers.
“New Brunswickers are being punished with sudden and significant increases to their tax assessments because of a short-term spike in the real estate market caused by the pandemic” says Rob McKee, Official Opposition critic for Finance and Treasury Board. “The Higgs Government must do something to lessen the impact of this spike on New Brunswickers, even if that means imposing a one-year property tax freeze.”
The pandemic has impacted various sectors and industries differently, but for many in the service and hospitality industry, arts and culture industry and many others, these past 18 months have been a difficult period financially.
“The jump in property tax assessments will hurt the people who can least afford it right now, those who are trying to make ends meet while the cost of living continues to rise” says McKee. “Why should every day New Brunswickers not be protected from drastic spikes in the market, but large industries have benefited from tax concessions in the past?
When lumber markets were bad in 2013, the province’s six pulp and paper mills saw their property tax assessments reduced by 52 per cent to support the industry.
“These discounts are still largely in place, even though we all know the lumber market is one of the industries that actually flourished during the pandemic,” says the Finance critic, Rob McKee. “Premier Higgs was the Minister of Finance when this was implemented. Why is it acceptable to intervene and give tax breaks to industry when there is an external factor out of their control affecting the market, but it is not ok to intervene when it’s every day New Brunswickers being affected?”
“While some mills are seeing an increase of one per cent this year, New Brunswickers are seeing on average an increase of around seven percent, how is that fair?” asks McKee.