Fredericton Chamber will continue to be an interested stakeholder with the New Brunswick Drug Plan
For Immediate Release – 11 December 2013

(Fredericton, NB) – The Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is pleased to continue to be an interested stakeholder in discussions with New Brunswick Minister of Health Ted Flemming regarding the "New Brunswick Drug Plan," unveiled today in the provincial legislature. The chamber has participated in consultations since the process began in early 2012.

The announced legislation today excludes a subsidy portion from the business community "...given the current challenging economic times," according to minister Flemming.
"With the shift from the initial proposals to what was introduced today, it is clear that the minister has heard and understood our concerns that requiring businesses and organizations to partially subsidize this program would be prohibitive to economic growth in the province," stated Krista Ross, CEO of the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce. "Many of our members have unequivocally told us that they would already offer a health plan to their employees if they were able to do so. Having a new payroll tax forced on them would prevent many small businesses from hiring, increasing wages and in some cases perhaps having to close their doors."

The chamber intends to work with the drug plan's Implementation Advisory Committee when it begins consultations in February 2014, part of whose role, according to the minister, is to " with business to examine ways they could contribute to the plan in a fair and economically viable manner in the future." Given that the Province of New Brunswick itself is not projecting to balance the provincial budget until 2016-2017 because of projected challenging economic conditions, it seems unlikely that the economic climate would support business contribution until well past this date.

"The Fredericton chamber has consistently supported the development of a provincial drug plan for New Brunswickers," added Chris Johnston, chamber president. "There are social and economic benefits to having a healthier population; the issue is finding the right balance in terms of funding and not increasing the burden on small businesses in New Brunswick."

The chamber hopes that the government continues to consider the economic conditions, the challenges that businesses face and the importance of the business community to the province as the consultation process continues.

With more than 900 members, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is one of Atlantic Canada's largest chambers of commerce. A dynamic business organization, the Fredericton Chamber of Commerce is actively engaged in policy development that affects the competitiveness of our members and of the Canadian business environment.

Contact: Krista Ross, CEO, 458.8006.