April 14th 2021 – For Immediate Release
FREDERICTON – The Common Front for Social Justice is reacting to news that the government of New Brunswick is unilaterally ending gas tax revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations governments across the province. In its press release, the government says this is to offset loss in tax revenue as a result of First Nations successfully expanding legal claims on their traditional territory. The Common Front stands in solidarity with First Nations in condemning this attack on nation-to-nation relations and calls on the province to offset the lost tax revenue another way: by taxing the wealthiest in the province and closing tax loopholes for corporations and wealthy individuals.
“Premier Higgs describes these revenue-sharing agreements as a ‘two-tiered tax system’ but the real two-tiered tax system is the one set up to benefit private corporations and wealthy individuals with numerous tax breaks, subsidies, and loopholes that mean the tax burden in this province is borne by workers and the lowest income brackets. If the province needs revenue it should be looking for it in the coffers and offshore accounts of the wealthy.”
– Abram Lutes, Provincial Coordinator for the Common Front
“This is clear mismanagement on the part of the province, and it is eroding efforts at reconciliation. How can the province put no funding into First Nations public services and then turn around and say it is ending this revenue-sharing scheme because it wants the same services for the same taxes?”
– Gabrielle Ross-Marquette, Labour Co-Chair for the Common Front
- The province of New Brunswick has had revenue-sharing agreements around taxes collected from gas sales on reservations since 1996
- This week the Madawaska First Nation signed a land-claim agreement with the Federal government that would let it add 783 hectares anywhere in the province to its reserve land. Almost 3/4ths of New Brunswick is subject land claims disputes with First Nations.
- The Blaine Higgs government claims ending revenue-sharing agreements with First Nations is necessary to offset lost revenues from First Nations asserting these legal claims.
- Public services on First Nations reservations in New Brunswick such as education, social assistance, and health services are partly or entirely funded by the Federal government and First Nations themselves.
- Wealthy individuals like the Irvings and large corporations saw their collective wealth increase by billions during the COVID-19 pandemic, often while receiving public subsidies.
Provincial Coordinator, Common Front NB