New Brunswick decided this week to raise taxes on such items as cigarettes and gasoline, bringing small relief to those retailers struggling to make a living on this side of the border, and no relief to those who have already gone out of business.
Cigarettes in New Brunswick have increased by $1.39 per pack, while the provincial gasoline tax there has increased by 2.9 cents per litre. While the items are still significantly less in cost than they are in Nova Scotia (about 5-6 cents per litre difference in gas prices) at least it is a step towards leveling the blatantly lopsided playing field.
Amherst businesses will continue to suffer from the disparity in prices. There is just too much of a gap remaining. However, outlying communities like Springhill, Oxford and Parrsboro could benefit a little more from New Brunswick’s move. People in those communities might reconsider a long drive to Aulac or Sackville when they would only save five cents per litre as opposed to eight cents.
What is unfortunate about this development is that Cumberland County businesses have had to wait for a solution to their problems to come from New Brunswick instead of right here in their home province. This government and the one before it knew the hardships being faced here, but have failed to take any action that provided real relief.
What is still needed between all three Maritime provinces is a co-ordinated approach to taxation of goods, particularly Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, which are only separated by a minute’s drive across the marsh.
Meanwhile, New Brunswickers sore over higher prices can take comfort in knowing they will still have plenty of Nova Scotians stoping by with their business, a trend that does not appear to be changing any time soon.