New Brunswick

Tories pledge to expand new jobs tax-credit program for small, medium businesses

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs is promising to provide a tax credit to existing small and medium-sized New Brunswick businesses for every new job they create for recent graduates.

PC Leader Blaine Higgs says credit would be available for unlimited number of jobs per employer

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs says that if elected Sept. 24, his party will 'reward companies for creating jobs, not playing politics.' (CBC)

Progressive Conservative Leader Blaine Higgs is promising to provide a tax credit to existing small and medium-sized New Brunswick businesses for every new job they create for recent graduates.

Although a news release Wednesday initially pledged to "introduce a new jobs tax credit," Higgs later described it as being an extension of the current One-Job Pledge wage incentive program, which was created by the former PC David Alward government in 2013 and is still available to all businesses, both small and large.

But instead of being limited to one job per employer, the election campaign promise is for an unlimited number of jobs, focusing only on small and medium-sized businesses.

"It's time for New Brunswick entrepreneurs to have a government that will help them support their dreams, not subsidize their competitors," Higgs said during a campaign stop in Lamèque on Wednesday.

"That's how we create the jobs that keep our young people here at home and provide hope to our workers."

Higgs could not offer any estimate of how much his campaign promise would cost. It would depend on how many people companies hire, he said.

"We can't predict that, so we can only say that the credit will be following One-Job Pledge, but it will be expanded."

One-Job Pledge offers employers a wage reimbursement of $10 per hour, up to a maximum of 40 hours per week for one year for new hires who have graduated from a recognized post-secondary institution within the previous four years and are paid at least $14 per hour.

That works out to about $20,800 per employee.

Liberal has doubts

Bill Fraser, the Liberal candidate in Miramichi, criticized the Tory announcement as being confusing.

"Once again it's not exactly clear what Higgs is announcing, whether it's a new name for an existing government program, (One-Job Pledge) or something else," he said in an email.

"Higgs himself doesn't appear to know what he is announcing. And for someone who pretends he cares most about the bottom line it's very disappointing he doesn't have a clue how much this will cost."

Fraser said the Liberal Party will put its record on job creation up against Higgs's record "any day."

"Under his fiscal policies, when he was finance minister, the province's economy shrank and people were looking elsewhere for work."

The Brian Gallant Liberal government grew the economy every year, lowered the unemployment rate and created "new and better" jobs, said Fraser.

It also attracted new companies to the province by offering incentives, such as payroll rebates, he said.

Stop the 'free money'

Higgs said a PC government will stop funding new businesses that competitively undermine existing businesses and stop providing cash incentives.

"The free money, you know, kind of has to stop, the free money of not getting any results," he said.

"I want value for taxpayers' dollars. I want to help companies start that want to be here and invest in our province. I want them to have skin in the game so they, too, want to say and be part of our community."

Voters head to the polls on Sept. 24.