Commentary on small business by Kirk MacDonald and published in the Daily Gleaner
A businessman once told me that you get into business for three reasons: to make a little money, have a little fun and put a few people to work.
New Brunswick small businesses are the major employers in the province. Their competence, work ethic, products and services are second to none. However, the Gallant government actions (and inactions) have entrepreneurs questioning their decision to locate in our province.
Property-tax increases; HST increases; workplace health, safety and compensation fee increases (more than 50 per cent in the last two years); and increased labour and electrical costs have created a perfect storm that has reduced the ability of New Brunswick businesses to compete.
Employment opportunities haven’t been growing in New Brunswick in a significant way because business people in our province are uncertain that the cost hemorrhages brought about by Brian Gallant are over.
Carbon taxes continue to loom on the horizon with no insight into how New Brunswick will be affected.
At this writing, it now appears that all Canadian premiers save one have spoken out about proposed federal tax reforms, which will affect small-business people. Premier Gallant has remained tight-lipped on this federal tax change, which has sparked a firestorm of protest from owners of small businesses across the country.
On Sept. 27, all four Atlantic Progressive Conservative opposition leaders spoke in a united voice calling for the four Liberal premiers from the region to stand up for Atlantic Canadians and to condemn the Ottawa Liberals’ unfair tax changes, which attack small-business owners, entrepreneurs, farmers, doctors and families. As I mentioned, only the New Brunswick premier has remained silent.
The tax changes as proposed would have varying degrees of impact on small businesses, but any businessperson who has invested in taxation and succession planning will find himself or herself pushed back to the drawing board and faced with the investment of more time and money to develop a new plan.
In the case of farmers, the changes as proposed have been demonstrated as bordering on the ridiculous. The suggested reforms completely ignore the “sweat equity”earned by a farming family.
The proposal means selling a farm to someone outside the family is financially preferable by far to seeing the farm remain in the family. We have a big problem, part of which is a premier who refuses to stand up for New Brunswickers and who’s unfamiliar in the ways of business.
An effective business needs to grow sales, reduce operating costs and increase inventory turnover. Brian Gallant‘s lack of understanding around business should be a cause for all New Brunswickers to be concerned.
Growing sales and inventory management are the responsibility of the businessperson, and they are prepared to do their part, but the province has a role when it comes to holding the line and helping to reduce operating costs.
Make New Brunswick small business profitable, and employment opportunities will increase for the betterment of all New Brunswickers.
KIRK MACDONALD is the MLA for Fredericton-York and Official Opposition critic for economic development.