Retail Council of Canada sent a questionnaire to all New Brunswick political parties addressing the key issues affecting retail in the province. Click on the following party names below to read their responses. Responses are listed by the date they were received by RCC.
Liberal Party of New Brunswick – Retail Council of Canada
Policy Survey 2018
1 A - Will your party commit to restoring the policy making authority of WorkSafeNB to slow the massive increases in worker’s compensation employer premiums?
The workers’ compensation task force was announced in May 2017 to identify short-term solutions and establish a long-term plan to ensure the system is transparent, accountable, predictable and sustainable. It presented its report to government on July 17, 2018.
The committee was comprised of representatives for employers, workers and the WorkSafeNB board of directors. Individuals and stakeholder groups participated in public consultations that were held in six regions across the province.
The recommendations in this report will be used to ensure workers’ compensation is there for both employers and employees in the long term.
In accordance with the Auditor General Act, we also asked the auditor general to conduct a value-for-money audit of WorkSafeNB to ensure they are administering programs in the most efficient manner possible.
A reelected Liberal government will ensure the right balance among compensation for injured workers, the employers’ financial interest and the long-term sustainability of the system.
1 B - Will your party commit to take steps to limit the retroactive application of Worker’s Compensation Appeals Tribunal (WCAT) decisions?
The recommendations in the WorkSafeNB task force’s report address issues related to the WCAT and the appeals process. We are looking forward to hearing the advice and input of the Auditor General. Both the report and the audit will guide and inform our approach.
We are committed to ensure the system appropriately addresses the needs and realities of current and future workplaces, while also striking the right balance between the financial interests of employers and compensation for injured workers.
1 C - Will your party commit to change the standards of evidence on a worker’s compensation appeal from a presumption in favour of the worker to one based on a preponderance of evidence?
The workers’ compensation task force’s report contained 28 recommendations in relation to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Tribunal, occupational health and safety, return to work, rehabilitation, benefits, governance and the three-day waiting period. They include proposed changes aimed at improving the appeals process and return-to-work programs by using best practices and models from other jurisdictions.
We will carefully review the recommendations of the report as we all want to ensure that the existing workers’ compensation program is best able to serve the needs of both employees and employers now and in the long term.
1 D - Will your party commit to lower the HST to 13% once the provincial budget is balanced?
These are choices that we have to make as a province together to get New Brunswick’s economy on the right track.
The HST was established in 1997 at a rate of 15 per cent replacing the combined Goods and Services and New Brunswick Provincial Sales tax rates of more than 18 per cent. The HST was at 15 per cent in New Brunswick from 1997 to 2006. The federal government lowered its HST rate in 2008 resulting in a combined tax rate of 13 per cent. Subsequently, Atlantic provinces increased their share by two percentage points restoring the rate to 15 per cent.
Most economists agree that consumption taxes like the HST are the fairest taxes to raise, especially if complemented by programs to assist lower-income households. Moreover, after the Conservative government implemented one of the largest personal income tax increase in our province's history a few years ago, there is not enough room left to increase personal income taxes.
2 A - Will your party commit to amend the province’s electronics recycling program to harmonize it with best practices from across the country?
We believe the New Brunswick Electronics Recycling program will help protect our environment by making industry responsible for its waste, removing harmful materials from our landfills, and will contribute to the province’s green economy. Overseen by Recycle NB in collaboration with the Electronic Products Recycling Association, it provides a safe, secure way for the public to recycle their electronic devices at the end of their useful life.
The program began on March 30, 2017. Items that can be recycled include:
- desktop, laptop and notebook computers and central processing units;
- keyboards, mouse and cables;
- computer monitors;
- computer desktop printers and desktop printers with scanning or fax capabilities, desktop scanners;
- audio and video playback and recording systems;
- telephones, cellular phones and other wireless communication devices;
- fax machines, personal digital assistants and similar hand-held devices not capable of connecting to the Internet;
- digital cameras, and analog or digital video cameras.
There are no plans to revise the program at this time.
3 A - Will your party pledge to consult with employers on issues that affect their businesses?
We consult and will continue to consult with employers and groups such as the Retail Council, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, New Brunswick Business Council and the Conseil économique du Nouveau-Brunswick on a regular basis. We discuss issues and address problems that affect employers directly and we have given labour organizations the same access employers have had for a long time.
3 B - Will your party commit to restore the delicate balance between employers and labour through the repeal of first contract arbitration and a legislating of secret ballot votes for union certification?
First contract arbitration is an established practice throughout the country and all provinces have it. Secret ballot votes for union certification is not considered as a best practice in Canada.
4 A - Will your party commit to creating a dedicated resource to emphasize and streamline red tape reduction and regulatory harmonization efforts throughout all government Departments?
We know how hard businesses in New Brunswick work to serve their customers and provide jobs for their employees. We are tackling red tape to help small business be more efficient and competitive. While continuing to reduce red tape, we are working hard at creating conditions that will allow businesses to thrive and succeed. We have a dedicated resource at the Executive Council that works on Atlantic harmonization. We intend to continue our efforts in this direction.
4 B - Will your party commit to analyzing all proposed legislation / regulations through a lens of Atlantic regulatory harmonization and red tape reduction, before the legislative / regulatory initiatives are approved by Executive Council?
Priority Delivery Units have been established to drive performance improvements with respect to New Brunswick’s priorities and reduce red tape. These units support innovation and provide a mechanism for enhanced coordination and collaboration across government departments. We will continue to identify and eliminate red tape that arises in interactions between government bodies and businesses and to collaborate with our Atlantic neighbours in the harmonization of our regulations and operations.
5 A - Will your party commit to legislating the current government’s commitment to increase minimum wage by the change in the CPI for the previous year?
The goals behind New Brunswick’s multi-year economic growth plan are to grow the economy, create jobs and put more money in the pockets of New Brunswickers. We believe that the increases to the minimum wage brought forward by the Gallant government not only help families and support low-income workers, but ensure that we have a strong workforce for business and so we can spur economic growth that works for all New Brunswickers.
During discussions on the raising of the minimum wage, we listened to business organizations like the Retail Council on the issue of predictability to ensure businesses were better able to plan for increases and manage their labour costs. That is why we committed to tie the minimum wage increase to the consumer price index.
We were quite surprised that under the leadership of Opposition Leader Blaine Higgs, a bill was introduced in the Legislative Assembly to impose a an increase in minimum wage tied to a CPI increase after every 90 days ( http://www.gnb.ca/legis/bill/pdf/58/4/Bill-36.pdf ), as we believe this represents an undue burden for businesses.
6 A - Will your party pledge that revenues from environmental stewardship programs be reinvested in the program from whence they were generated in order to improve stewardship efforts?
We are pleased with the commitment industry has made as a partner in environmental stewardship through recycling of beverage containers. We want to ensure that sufficient resources are invested in all our environmental stewardship programs to maintain effective and efficient programs that best serve industry and the public. To that end, we are open to ongoing discussions with industry as to how this can best be achieved.
6 B - Will your Party commit to end the Environmental Trust Fund so that government does not benefit financially from any industry led / industry managed environmental stewardship program?
The New Brunswick's Environmental Trust Fund (ETF) provides assistance for projects with tangible, measurable results, aimed at protecting, preserving and enhancing the Province's natural environment. Community groups, NB municipalities, First Nations, non-profit NB organizations, and institutions furthering sustainable development bring forward worthwhile projects that benefit New Brunswickers and foster environmental stewardship throughout the province.
Funded projects contribute to the protection of essential ecological processes, biological diversity, and renewable and non-renewable resources in New Brunswick at an environmentally sustainable level. They foster stewardship among residents for the province's ecological health and diversity to benefit current and future generations. Projects have resulted in improved water quality, increased awareness of our natural areas and improved management of hazardous materials.
While we are always open to suggestions for how the Environmental Trust Fund can be strengthened and improved, we believe it is a program that services our province well.
7 A - If elected, would your party work with the Retail Council of Canada to develop and implement a retail sector strategy, similar to the strategies that have previously been developed for other economic sectors that would ensure New Brunswick’s retail industry continues to prosper?
We are committed to ensure the sound development and the long-term progress and prosperity of the retail sector. A reelected Liberal government would continue to work closely with the industry as it helps businesses take advantage of new and existing opportunities.
7 B - Will your party pledge to reward employers for taking risks, growing their businesses and creating jobs?
Our government has continued to invest in a multi-year economic growth plan that is focussed on creating jobs, supporting business and growing the economy. We have made a conscious choice to pursue a growth agenda over the austerity agenda initiated under the previous government which caused the economy to retract.
We believe it is crucial to make strategic investments including infrastructure investments in our roads, bridges, schools and hospitals that will that better position us to move our province forward.
We are investing to create opportunities so that businesses can grow, our youth can work here in New Brunswick and people who have left our province return and work here in their home province.
By working together with New Brunswickers, we have seen over the last three years the best economic growth in our province in a decade.
In 2015, the New Brunswick economy grew at the third fastest rate of all the provinces in Canada. In 2016, the New Brunswick economy grew above the Canadian average rate. We continue to experience positive economic growth. The economy is 5.5% larger than it was in October 2014. Other economic indicators include:
- Since 2014, the government has cut the province’s deficit by 67 per cent and plans to eliminate the deficit by the 2021 budget.
- Private capital expenditures have rebounded, exceeding 2013 levels in 2014 and 2016. In 2015, they reached almost $2 billion, a level not seen since 2011. Public and private capital investment increased for the fourth year in a row to $3.6 billion.
- Average weekly earnings were up by 2.3 per cent in 2016 – compared to 2.8 per cent growth in 2015 – and above the national result of 0.4 per cent. Tied with Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick had the highest growth in average weekly earnings countrywide in 2016.
- Real GDP growth of 1.9%.
- The population has grown for the second consecutive year, reaching an all-time high. Significant growth in targeted areas of business support services, tourism, cannabis and local food and beverages.
- The unemployment rate has dropped for the fourth consecutive year, falling to 8.1%. It has been in the single digits for over 20 consecutive months.
- Private capital expenditures have rebounded, exceeding 2013 levels in 2014 and 2016. In 2015, they reached almost $2 billion, a level not seen since 2011.
- In 2017, manufacturing sales improved for the first time in four years, climbing to $18.8 billion in 2017 with average weekly earnings up 4.5 per cent in this sector.
Some of the measures the provincial government has taken to support job creation include:
- Reducing the small business income tax rate to three per cent and introducing legislation to lower it even more.
- Increasing investment in the Department of Tourism, Heritage and Culture, as well as in infrastructure, reflecting the government’s commitment to developing tourism in New Brunswick.
- Developing of a comprehensive cybersecurity strategy with industry leaders, academia and government to help establish New Brunswick as an epicentre of cybersecurity and create high-value jobs.
- Investing more than $292 million to upgrade current schools and build new ones since October 2014.
- Developing the Youth Employment Fund to give youth more opportunity to stay in New Brunswick and the chance to get hands-on work experience.
Our economic growth plan also identifies key pillars where the government intends to directpolicies, programs and projects to support growth. These include:
- People – strengthen the province’s workforce;
- Innovation – expand the capacity for the generation of ideas and innovation;
- Capital – increase private-sector investment;
- Infrastructure – foster investment from the public and private sectors in strategic infrastructure; and
- Agility – foster agility and nimbleness in the public sector and across the economy.
The 2018 update shows movement in many of these areas as the government launched programs to support New Brunswickers in achieving their education and employment goals. This includes two programs the government anticipates will have far-reaching effects on the province’s labour force and skill levels, the Free Tuition and Tuition Relief for the Middle Class programs for post-secondary education students, and the New Brunswick Early Learning Centre programs, offering free and subsidized child care for most parents.
We are committed to strengthening the economy and supporting businesses through a business climate that fosters growth and economic success.
Thank you for contacting us with your questions. We appreciate your inquiry regarding issues which effect the province's retailers and consumers including taxes, business competitiveness, environmental programs, and red tape reduction. We recognize the Retail Council of Canada, as the largest retail association in Canada, working on behalf of 45 000 storefronts, plays a key role in training, advocating, and distributing industry information within the retail sector and we understand the sector contributes massively to the economy in the province - $12 billion in sales - and to the state of employment prospects.
In government our party would focus on establishing optimal conditions for businesses to thrive; we see consulting continually and meaningfully with businesses and other stakeholders as a central responsibility of government and we are eager to renew that process.
We want the revenue of businesses to remain within the private sector, contributing to the growth of businesses and the creation of jobs. Our party sees the prospering of the province as a function of the development of the private sector; the government must limit its interference and allow businesses to create opportunities.
Harmonizing environmental programs in recent years and advancing environmental stewardship, retail businesses in the province have exhibited the effectiveness of adopting practices which are proven to enhance environmental conservation. In government we would encourage and facilitate results-oriented practices like these, evaluating policy based on the demonstrable outcomes achieved.
In considering competitiveness, after taking an additional billion dollars in provincial tax revenue, it's clear that retailers a struggling to compete under the policies of the Gallant Liberals. We are committed to ensuring the competitiveness of our province through fighting a new carbon tax and working to reducing and eliminating trade barriers between provinces, instituting a foundation of equity for the province's merchants.
We would take a similar approach regarding the reduction of red tape. Unfortunately, since the Gallant Liberals took office, our provincial red tape report card has declined year after year. We recognize how red tape holds merchants back from realizing gains within the retail sector and would look to deliver meaningful red tape reduction and foster a productive interface between the business and government.
Thank you again for your inquiry, please don't hesitate to let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.
2018 New Brunswick Provincial Election Questionnaire
1. a) Will your party commit to restoring the policy making authority of WorkSafeNB to slow the massive increases in worker’s compensation employer premiums?
Rising worker’s compensation employer premiums are caused by multiple factors, and not just the decisions of the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Tribunal. However, as was recommended by the WorkSafeNB task force, the Appeals Tribunal should be able to make suggestions on policy changes to WorkSafeNB, while the ultimate decision to change policy should be with the Minister responsible for WorksafeNB.
b) Will your party commit to take steps to limit the retroactive application of Worker’s Compensation Appeals Tribunal (WCAT) decisions?
The Green Party would find a solution that works for employees who were injured in the past and never properly compensated, as well as current employers who should not have to pay for past mistakes. As a result, the Green Party would look into the feasibility of government covering all or some of these retroactive decisions.
c) Will your party commit to change the standards of evidence on a worker’s compensation appeal from a presumption in favour of the worker to one based on a preponderance of evidence?
The decisions of the Worker’s Compensation Appeals Tribunal should be based on evidence and not be biased towards employers or employees.
d) Will your party commit to lower the HST to 13% once the provincial budget is balanced?
2. a) Will your party commit to amend the province’s electronics recycling program to harmonize it with best practices from across the country?
A full review is needed of New Brunswick’s recycling programs as they all need to be brought under provincial jurisdiction, compared to the patchwork that exists across industries and counties currently. The Green Party’s goal is to work towards a zero-waste society.
3. a) Will your party pledge to consult with employers on issues that affect their businesses?
As Leader of the Third Party in the legislature and the MLA for Fredericton South, Green Party Leader David Coon has met and consulted with many employers and employer groups in his riding and across the province on issues that affect their businesses. The Green Party will continue to do this following the election.
b) Will your party commit to restore the delicate balance between employers and labour through the repeal of first contract arbitration and a legislating of secret ballot votes for union certification?
First contract arbitration provides a means to mediate disputes between employers and employees during the negotiation of a first contract. Green Party leader David Coon supported first contract legislation in the legislature. It is the Green Party’s view that first contract legislation was an important step forward for New Brunswick and must be maintained. The Green Party will not legislate secret ballot votes for union certification.
4. a) Will your party commit to creating a dedicated resource to emphasize and
streamline red tape reduction and regulatory harmonization efforts throughout all government Departments? We would ensure the Executive Council Office works with all departments to reduce unnecessary paperwork for both businesses and citizens in their interactions with the provincial government.
b) Will your party commit to analyzing all proposed legislation / regulations through a lens of Atlantic regulatory harmonization and red tape reduction, before the legislative / regulatory initiatives are approved by Executive Council?
Before proposing new legislation or regulations the Green Party would carry out a jurisdictional scan across Canada.
5. a) Will your party commit to legislating the current government’s commitment to increase minimum wage by the change in the CPI for the previous year?
For many years minimum wage increased at a slower rate than CPI. New Brunswick needs to provide a competitive minimum wage in order to retain workers and allow minimum wage earners to meet their basic needs. With Alberta’s minimum wage rising to $15 an hour in October 2018, B.C.’s rising to $15.20 an hour in 2021 and Ontario’s currently at $14 an hour, New Brunswick must raise its minimum wage to keep pace. The Green Party would raise the minimum wage by $1 an hour each of the next four years and then legislate that future increases be indexed to inflation.
6. a) Will your party pledge that revenues from environmental stewardship programs be re-invested in the program from whence they were generated in order to improve stewardship efforts?
No, the Green Party is committed to the principle of Extended Producer Responsibility.
b) Will your Party commit to end the Environmental Trust Fund so that government does not benefit financially from any industry led / industry managed environmental stewardship program?
7. a) If elected, would your party work with the Retail Council of Canada to develop and implement a retail sector strategy, similar to the strategies that have previously been developed for other economic sectors that would ensure New Brunswick’s retail industry continues to prosper?
The Green Party is strongly committed to supporting the development locally-owned, community-based businesses.
b) Will your party pledge to reward employers for taking risks, growing their businesses and creating jobs?
It is in a business owner’s own interest to take risks in growing their business, just as they did in starting their businesses in the first place. We want to see our community-based businesses succeed and will applaud that success.