New Brunswick’s Official Opposition is calling the Higgs Government to modify the timeline of the municipal reform so that municipalities can make more informed decisions and better prepare for the transition.
“The timing of the implementation of Regional Services Commissions reform needs to be reviewed. Government has not allotted enough time for this, which will result in rushed decisions that could have long-term consequences” says Liberal critic Keith Chiasson. “In addition to the tight timeline imposed by Minister Allain, the many financial questions that remain make it difficult, if not impossible, to make informed decisions.”
To ensure the new municipal entities start off on the right foot, the Official Opposition is suggesting that the municipal elections not take place until the funding formula, including the unconditional grant formula, is known.
“New municipalities need to know what funding is available to them before they can become operational, it only makes sense to delay these elections until the financial details are finalized” says Chiasson. “While government has suggested a one-year temporary funding formula until they can finalize the long-term formula, this presents a huge risk for municipalities. How can municipalities make informed decisions based on a funding formula that will likely change?”
The Leader of the Official Opposition believes the Higgs Government to listen to the needs of the municipalities, find ways to address their concerns and support them throughout this process.
“For this to be a successful reform, the municipalities must be heard and supported through the process” says Official Opposition Leader Roger Melanson. “If the goal is to build strong communities, then the municipal reform needs to be done right. It must be done collaboratively and can’t be rushed.”