This site will look much better in a browser that supports web standards, but it is accessible to any browser or Internet device.

Skip to Content

Open Letter to New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs

For Immediate Release:


February 10, 2012


Open Letter to New Brunswick Finance Minister Blaine Higgs


Dear Minister Higgs


I have noticed in recent media’s reports that you have been made aware by New Brunswick gas retailers of what they consider to be unfair competition from Costco gas outlets and I wish to bring to your attention the issue of excessive merchant fees charged by VISA and MasterCard on Canadian small and medium sized businesses.

According to Statistics Canada, the average profit margin for gas retailers in Canada is 1.7% of revenue and that is certainly nothing to write home about.


I have for years expressed concerns about the impact of excessive merchant fees on small and medium sized businesses and gas retailers are particularly of concern considering such low profit margins.


In Canada, small and medium sized businesses, with little to no negotiating power, are being charged by VISA and MasterCard, merchants fees ranging from 2% to over 3% of the value of sales, depending on the type of card used.


It has been 7 years since Australia and New Zealand legislated a limit on these fees at 0.5% for commercial transactions, 0.3% for government, and 0% for charity. On a yearly basis the difference between these reasonable caps and the excessive fees charged in Canada cost Canadian businesses and consumers around $5 billion.


Looking at the price discrepancy between New Brunswick gas retailers and Costco gas outlets, one has to consider that Costco does not accept VISA or MasterCard. Costco does accept American Express, though it is a special partnership purchased by Costco members.


The average merchant fees, roughly $2.5%, charged by VISA and MasterCard on a litre a gasoline costing $1.25,   would cost the retailer about $0.03 per litre. On a fill up of 50 litres, that amounts to $1.50 that gas retailers are paying in excessive fees.


For years I have brought my concerns about this issue to the attention of the Federal government, in particular Minister of Finance Jim Flaherty, but to no avail. The government seems unwilling to acknowledge and address the economic costs of excessive merchant fees on our businesses and consumers.


I would like to offer to meet with you to further discuss the issue of credit card merchant fees and would appreciate any effort you can provide to help bring these concerns to Minister Flaherty and the Harper government and to pressure them to regulate merchant fees.




Senator Pierrette Ringuette




For Additional Information:


Tim Rosenburgh

Office of Senator Pierrette Ringuette

(613) 943-2248