EVERYONE is promising stimulus that will reshape economies, redesign communities, replace aging bridges, roads and buildings and, most important, save jobs (or, as more cautious speakers say, “create new jobs to replace the ones being lost”).

The problem is no one is talking about how to sustain all of this new infrastructure once it is built: how to heat the schools, light the hospitals, resurface the roads and maintain the bridges. No one is overly concerned about how to pay for the debt that will be incurred or how to meet the expectations for further and comparable future investments that will be created.

No one is talking about who will use all of this brand new infrastructure once it is in place three to five years from now – after our population has declined even further and the jobs we worked so hard to create go begging because even at double, triple, quadruple the minimum wage, there simply is no one to do the work.

No one had been talking about any of this until the New Brunswick Select Committee on Tax Review came along with concrete, ground-breaking proposals to counter poverty, support families, grow the economy and attract people and businesses to New Brunswick.

The committee is taking to heart the advice of former Irish prime minister John Bruton (one of the architects of the Celtic Tiger), who said: “Achieving economic success is not simply a question of cutting taxes. It is a question of cutting the right taxes. Companies and people at work generate growth. That is why the priority should be on reducing taxes on working people and on profits, rather than on reducing taxes on other activities. Ireland still has a pretty high rate of taxation on goods purchased in shops, but this has not inhibited economic growth.”

So, the select committee proposes to stimulate the New Brunswick economy not through spending, but by totally revamping the province’s tax system. Not by “raising the HST” or “lowering the personal tax.” Not by “matching 50 per cent of the federal universal child care benefit” or “removing the gap between large and small business taxes.” Not by “reducing provincial business taxes to five per cent” or “dramatically increasing the basic personal exemption.” Not even by “curtailing government spending.” Not by any one of these measures in isolation but by using ALL of them, and combined the whole is far and away more valuable than just the sum of its parts.

If implemented, this package would reduce the total tax burden on every New Brunswicker and on every New Brunswick business. It would make the province not only a regional but a national and indeed an international leader in the use of tax policy to stimulate an economy. New Brunswick wants to be self-sufficient and it is this tax-based model that has actually delivered self sufficiency in places as disparate as Ireland, Georgia, Michigan, Alberta and the Netherlands.

In fact, such a tax-based stimulus package follows the model used by our own federal government a little over a year ago. That surprisingly well-timed $60-billion stimulus package (only $5.5 billion of which was a cut in the GST, by the way; $55 billion involved broad-based corporate and personal income tax cuts) was so successful that it cushioned Canada from the worst of the early stages of the global financial crisis and continues, through surpisingly strong consumer demand, to soften the blow for most Canadians of the continued U.S. economic downturn. The second stage of that stimulus plan is set to take effect next year as our federal taxes fall yet again.

The select committee proposals would actually multiply that impact for New Brunsiwckers by leaving even more money in their pockets and trusting them to spend it where it will do themselves and their neighbours the most good.

We know that stimulus can generally come in two forms: direct government spending or tax reform. We also know that spending, especially well-thought-out and appropriate spending on infrastructure, takes time to plan and even more time to implement.

If we want an evidence-based stimulus package that will achieve reliable and predictable results in the short and medium term, stimulus that will help today, tomorrow and the next day, and that creates long-term growth – and not long-term demands and consequently likely long-term deficits – the select committee has chosen the right road.

Early indications are that the New Brunswick government is listening. Let’s hope the federal party leaders and the other provincial premiers are paying attention too.

Charles Cirtwill is executive vice-president of the Atlantic Institute for Market Studies, an economic and social public policy think tank based in Halifax.