New Brunswick’s trucking industry is calling on the provincial government to reverse a fee increase that came into effect this month.
The province implemented a new annual licensing fee for International Fuel Tax Agreement registrants on April 1 as part of an effort to decrease the deficit.
The new registration fee, which ranges from $25 for carriers with a single truck, to $1,500 for those with a fleet of 50 or more, is excessive, said Jean-Marc Picard, executive director of the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association.
“We understand that they need to generate some revenues and they need to bring the province back up to, you know, financial stability.
“But at the end of the day I mean, we're a large industry in New Brunswick and we contribute a lot in terms of employment and economic growth, but if there's costs that keep getting added on that's out of our control every year, it gets harder and harder.”
Profit margins are already slim with high fuel costs, said Picard. He contends the industry deserves a break.
“We're one of the bright spots in New Brunswick in terms of employment and growth and all that, but you know last year we got a hit on the diesel tax increase and this year it's these fees. So it doesn't seem like we can get a break, right?
“And some of these carriers are barely making ends meet now cause it's a thousand bucks to fill up your tank and you're not gonna get paid for 20 or 30 days from now.”
Art Jones, who owns RoadWolf Trucking Ltd., said things have gone from bad to worse.
"It just seems like the truckers are always getting taxed. There's no way around it," he said.
Jones has just two trucks in his company. The registration fee isn't the only hit to his bottom line, he said.
"You go for an oil change, you have an environmental fee to pay. You go for a grease job, you pay an environmental fee. Everytime you turn around, there are more fees."
The new registration fees are expected to generate an extra $245,000 in revenue, according to the province.
But they will not cover the full administrative costs associated with the International Fuel Tax Agreement, officials say.
The provincial government increased several user fees this year, hoping to raise nearly $6 million in additional revenue.
“We believe that this is a fair way to raise revenue,” Finance Minister Blaine Higgs had stated in a news release. “We are charging additional fees to those people who use these services.”
User fees offset the costs of delivering non-core services to specific New Brunswick residents and businesses.