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You now spend more on taxes than necessities

August 09, 2019
You now spend more on taxes than necessities

This column was published in the New Brunswick Telegraph-Journal on August 8, 2019.

We all chit chat around the kitchen table about the increasing cost of groceries. When local strawberries seem to cost an arm and a leg more than they did last year, we notice. But we should be shifting our focus to taxes – the cost of which, for Canadians, now exceeds the cost of housing, clothing and food combined.

That’s according to a new report by the Fraser Institute, which shows that the average Canadian family is spending just over 44 per cent of its income on taxes, compared to 36 per cent on basic necessities.

That’s changed a lot since 1961, when the cost of basic necessities well outweighed the average tax burden.

While the price of goods such as a carton of milk goes up with inflation, taxes have far exceeded that. Canadian families’ taxes have increased by a whopping 2,246 per cent since 1961, while consumer prices have increased by 750 per cent.

In short, money-hungry governments have been eating more off your paycheques and skimming more money off the top of nearly everything you buy.

There is constant rhetoric from Ottawa that the government is making life more affordable, but the same institute found that 81 per cent of middle-class families in Canada now pay more taxes to Ottawa than they did prior to the prime minister taking office.

What’s even harder to believe is that, given these enormous tax increases, governments are still deep in debt and continue to run large deficits.

That’s like a family in which both parents keep getting pay raises but dig themselves deeper into debt by financing a new RV or boat every year.

The federal government promised repeatedly to balance the budget.

“I am looking straight at Canadians and being honest the way I always have,” said Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. “We said we are committed to balanced budgets, and we are. We will balance that budget in 2019.”

Here we are in 2019, and Ottawa’s deficit this year will be $19.8 billion. The federal government is on track to rack up an additional $100 billion in federal debt by 2024. Clearly Ottawa has a spending problem. 

This is a problem New Brunswickers know all too well.

While the New Brunswick government deserves credit for beginning to dig itself out of its debt hole, years of overspending by previous governments has resulted in New Brunswickers having to pay higher taxes than most Canadians.

A family in Saint John earning $75,000 in 2019 will pay $13,969 in provincial taxes and utilities. The same family living in Regina will pay $5,564 less. A family in Montreal earning the same income will pay $2,895 less, despite the fact that Quebec is a high-tax jurisdiction. 

It’s not as though New Brunswick taxpayers are receiving better services than residents of Saskatchewan or Quebec.

Remember these numbers the next time a politician tries to raise your taxes.

Whether it’s Trudeau fighting to force the carbon tax on New Brunswickers, or MLA Gerry Lowe trying to increase property taxes on businesses, we need to say enough is enough. If governments want money for new spending, they need to trim elsewhere within their own budgets like the rest of us do. The taxpayer tap has run dry.

Paige MacPherson is Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation. 

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