This Is Why We Leave

The New Brunswick Tories are breaking election promises to not raise taxes in the midst of a sluggish economy. Increasingly, students are seeking careers anywhere but New Brunswick.

By Ocean-Leigh Peters, Staff Writer

Section: Economic

New Brunswick students are fleeing the province with unwavering certainty in search of careers and cash in the western provinces as the economic and employment situation worsens in the Maritimes.

New Brunswick Premier, David Alward, assured Newbrunswickers in his 2010 election campaign that his Progressive Conservative government would lessen the deficit without raising taxes.

But it has effectively broken its promise as New Brunswick’s deficit worsens while both personal and corporate taxes increase.

Combine the less than ideal fiscal situation in the province with increasing rates of unemployment, and you have a recipe for a steady outward migration of university graduates and young workers, who are looking westward for job opportunities and a stable economic future.

In 2011, in an attempt to decrease the growing deficit in New Brunswick, the Alward government reneged on a promise to allow for the continuation of the four-stage tax cut plan set in motion by former Premier Shawn Graham.

Recently the Alward government has continued to break its original election promises with personal and corporate income tax set to increase this summer. New Brunswick’s Finance Minister, Blaine Higgs, announced that on July 1 personal income tax will increase by up to 33 per cent, with corporate taxes being raised 20 per cent. Along with the income tax increases comes an increase in tobacco tax.

When combined, the tax increases will reach approximately $200 million, which will surely be felt by New Brunswickers including students and recent graduates.

Alward also assured the province that he would balance New Brunswick’s budget before the 2014 elections; another promise he was unable to keep as the province’s deficit increases from the estimated $411 million to an expected high of $478.7 million.

The province’s net debt is expected to increase by $594 million to $11.6 billion by March 2014.

During these times of economic hardships, it is no surprise that unemployment has increased in New Brunswick. As the provincial deficit grows, so does the unemployment rate. Since mid 2012 the unemployment rate has risen above 10 per cent and has fluctuated between 10 and 11.5 per cent in the past 10 months.

The University of New Brunswick Saint John graduate Sanjeevan Thavaratnam says he is concerned for the economic situation in the province.

“I believe the current government may be stuck in trying to boost the province’s economy,” says Thavaratnam, “A large part is that they are trying to lower the deficit and cannot seem to create any new tools to get more revenue in.”

Thavaratnam returned to his Ontario home after he graduated from university in New Brunswick to be closer to family, but not before he observed the difficult situation facing graduates who are seeking employment in a province with less and less opportunities.

“The number of new graduate job openings is limited and gives a whole new definition to ‘you need to know someone’ [to get a job],” says Thavaratnam.

University graduates and young New Brunswickers are among those who are leaving the province in search of better employment opportunities. The province has lost approximately 4,400 job since 2010, making it difficult for inexperienced, yet educated students to find jobs and potential careers at home.

Jenna Strang is a graduate from Mount Allison University who moved to Alberta to find employment. She feels she was forced to leave her home province of New Brunswick due to the poor economic conditions and dwindling job opportunities.

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