Victor Boudreau hears calls to hike taxes, create tolls

Raising the harmonized sales tax, corporate taxes, increasing royalties and implementing highway tolls were some of the most common suggestions made to the provincial government in pre-budget consultations over the winter.

Victor Boudreau releases report on what citizens said during government program review

Raising the harmonized sales tax, corporate taxes, increasing royalties and implementing highway tolls were some of the most common suggestions made to the New Brunswick government in pre-budget consultations over the winter.

Health Minister Victor Boudreau led the Liberal government's strategic program review. (CBC)
Victor Boudreau toured the province to hear the ideas of residents on how to address the province's structural deficit and find up to $600 million in annual savings.

Boudreau released his What Was Said report on those sessions Thursday in the legislature.

The most frequently mentioned ideas submitted by members of the public included:

  • Raise the harmonized sales tax.
  • Implement tolls on highways.
  • Increase corporate taxes.
  • Increase royalties on natural resources.
  • Reduce duplication in the health and education systems.

Citizens also had a wide range of suggestions about things the government could stop doing to save money.

The report indicates no consensus emerged, but over the coming months, ideas on how to find savings will be explored further.

Some of the suggestions listed included:

  • Downsize government.
  • Eliminate duplication of services in government departments.
  • Reduce funding to big businesses and corporations.
  • Cut the unconditional municipal grant.
  • Privatize or sell some government assets.
  • Optimize use of government buildings and infrastructure.
  • Rationalize rural hospitals, perhaps by turning them into health centres or nursing homes.
  • Close or sell schools with small numbers of students.

Participants were also asked for three suggestions on what the government could do to raise money. Along with the increasing the HST and implementing road tolls, there were suggestions to:

  • Raise taxes on gas, alcohol and tobacco.
  • Introduce a carbon tax.
  • Increase property taxes.
  • Increase or create luxury taxes on items such as sugar and luxury sport vehicles.
  • Increase user fees for hunting and fishing.
  • Implement access fees for hospitals, emergency rooms and hospitals.

Finance Minister Roger Melanson is scheduled to deliver his 2015-16 budget on Tuesday.

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