Liberal leader says increases amount to a take hike
HALIFAX – To ensure consistent delivery of important programs and services for Nova Scotians and their families, the province will increase user fees and charges by 5.8 per cent.
The increase, which reflects the cumulative rate of inflation (3.8 per cent in 2011 and 2 per cent in 2012), will take effect April 1.
"Nova Scotians rely on the important services to which these fees are connected," said Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald. "We are working hard to improve quality and find more effective and efficient ways to deliver the services Nova Scotians value."
The fee increase will apply to most services, licensing and regulatory functions by departments. Fees for government service organizations, such as school boards and health authorities, will not be affected.
"To protect Nova Scotia's most vulnerable, fees associated with public housing will stay the same and ambulance fees will still be waived for low-income Nova Scotians," said MacDonald.
Other fees that will not increase include requests for information under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and those where third parties receive revenue instead of the government, such as online campsite reservations and cancellations. Sport fishing licences will not increase until the 2014 season.
There are about 1,400 fees charged by government departments. This increase will generate about $11.6 million in additional revenue. The last fee increase was in April 2011. All fees will end in 5 or 0 to reflect the federal elimination of the penny.
Some increases will be implemented at a later date because of notification and system requirements.
A detailed summary of user-fee increases, including effective dates, is available at http://novascotia.ca/finance .
Liberal leader Stephen McNeil says the Dexter government’s increase of 1,400 user fees is yet another tax hike on Nova Scotians.
“Nova Scotians will be faced with higher user fees over the next year, an increase introduced today by the Dexter government,” said McNeil. “User fee increases are nothing more than a hike in taxes, pulling more money from the pockets of Nova Scotians.”
Just a few years ago the premier denounced introducing user fee increases outside of the budget.
“As Leader of the Opposition, the premier called on the Tory government of the day to make user fee hikes part of the budget,” says McNeil. “This is another example of NDP hypocrisy.”
The premier and former Finance Minister Graham Steele called user fees "across the board tax increases” while in Opposition.
“Once again, Nova Scotians will be forced to pay more under the Dexter government,” says McNeil. “During this government’s time in office, they have hiked the HST by two per cent, power rates have gone up 30 per cent, and user fees continue to be increased. Nova Scotians simply cannot afford this NDP government.”