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René Legacy, the Official Opposition critic for finance, spoke to reporters about the province's fiscal update on Nov. 10, 2022. Image: Zoom video capture

More details on ‘affordability measure’ expected soon

By Brad Perry Feb 16, 2024 | 2:23 PM

A new “affordability measure” to help lower-income workers in New Brunswick will not be delivered automatically.

Instead, New Brunswick families with a net income of $70,000 or less will need to apply for the $300 payment.

Premier Blaine Higgs unveiled the plan as part of his annual State of the Province address in January.

Few details were released at the time, and there was no mention of how New Brunswickers would get the money.

“I feel like the premier was looking for a headline at the State of the Province. He didn’t give a chance for anybody to prepare,” RenĂ© Legacy, the Liberal party’s finance critic, told reporters Thursday.

Legacy said Liberal MLAs have been fielding calls from constituents looking for more information about the benefit.

The province said during Thursday’s third-quarter fiscal update that more information would be announced “in the coming days.”

“My understanding is that they need [Canada Revenue Agency] information, and because the Government of Canada is not involved in the announcement, they don’t have the list,” said Legacy about why the benefit will not be delivered automatically.

It is not entirely clear how many New Brunswickers will be eligible to apply for and receive the $300 payment.

During his State of the Province address, Higgs said his government would invest $79 million and around 250,000 families could benefit.

But Thursday’s news release from the Department of Finance said the program would be worth $75 million.

Legacy said the province should have offered help that did not require an application, such as removing the HST on residential electricity bills.