New Brunswick business community tells federal candidates how to get its vote

·2 min read
Alex LeBlanc, the president of the New Brunswick Business Council, says housing is a growing challenge in New Brunswick. (Radio-Canada - image credit)
Alex LeBlanc, the president of the New Brunswick Business Council, says housing is a growing challenge in New Brunswick. (Radio-Canada - image credit)

The New Brunswick business community wants federal election candidates to focus on Atlantic Canada and increase immigration, provide tax credits and remove trade barriers.

On Tuesday, six business organizations, including the Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton chambers of commerce, sent out a list of priorities federal candidates should follow in order to serve the New Brunswick region.

The three areas where the organizations believe the federal government can help are pandemic recovery, immigration, and competitiveness and fairness.

They groups recommend specific policies such as tax credits for small businesses to become greener, a target of 10,000 immigrants by 2024, and funding for housing projects.

"We need increased and equitable federal investments in affordable housing in New Brunswick," Alex LeBlanc, the president of the New Brunswick Business Council, said at a news conference,

"Housing is not just a challenge in urban centres, but it is a growing threat in New Brunswick as well."

LeBlanc said the most serious public policy challenges in New Brunswick were there before the pandemic: demographics, labour shortages, and the need for increased immigration.

"As we move out of the acute effects of public health restrictions, we must turn our attention to the need for economic growth to fuel recovery," he said.

The organizations said they'd like whoever wins the election on Sept. 20 to "close the investment gap" in research and development funding in New Brunswick.

New Brunswick gets less funding for testing, pilots and academics than other regions of the country do, said Ron Marcolin, divisional vice-president for the Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters.

"We don't get, quite frankly, enough of the pie," he said. "We feel quite frankly we have all of the key ingredients to do that job well."

CBC
CBC

He said the province has been chosen as the centre of testing small modular reactors, but that's not enough.

"If the federal government were to spend more, we certainly have the infrastructure, the ecosystem," he said.

The organizations recommended two types of tax credits, both aiming at attracting small and medium businesses, including one that would make it more affordable to be green.

Marcolin said these would entice businesses to stay in the province and others to transfer to New Brunswick or Atlantic Canada from other provinces.

"Our ask is for policymakers that don't live in Atlantic Canada to put Atlantic Canada as a region into a lens, to understand that we have very unique needs, very unique stresses and competitive pressures," he said.

Marcolin said he hopes these priorities will "get the attention of the politicians and the wannabe politicians at a policy level."

"It's a very important time in the in the five weeks that we have through an election call to get that series of messages out … directly to the politicians, quite frankly, that are looking for our vote."

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