If Steele hears, is he going to listen?

Staff ~ The Amherst News
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During his Back to Balance Tour, Finance Minister Graham Steele has said Nova Scotians appear to support the idea of raising the HST by two per cent to deal with a $525-million provincial deficit. Now it appears as though that claim might have been wishful thinking.

A poll commissioned by the CBC earlier this week indicates that 74 per cent of Nova Scotians are opposed to a tax increase to fight the deficit. And when asked how the province should best tackle it financial problems, some 60 per cent said they would support a wage freeze on all government employees.

A tax increase, first proposed last November by a panel of economic experts, would bring in about $350 million annually. 

The poll is interesting in that Steele has been consistent in his message that while he has yet to make up his mind how to tackle the deficit, Nova Scotians have told him they would support a tax increase.

It’s something the minister said when he visited Amherst a couple of weeks ago. He told Cumberland County business owners and community leaders that their concerns over a tax increase were the minority view, even if he understands why people in this part of Nova Scotia are concerned with what a tax increase would do to this area’s competitiveness to businesses just a few kilometres away in New Brunswick.

It is already quite evident that government cares little for the concerns of Cumberland County residents when its comes to fuel taxes, tobacco taxes and the price of milk. The budget to be brought down by Steele later this spring may only reinforce that, especially if the minister continues to believe what he wants to hear.

Expecting government to hold the line on taxes while resisting the urge to cut programs and services may be asking too much, but let’s also hope it resists the urge to make up all its loses in one act and throws this county under the bus for the betterment of the rest of the province.

Organizations: CBC

Geographic location: Nova Scotians, Cumberland County, Amherst Nova Scotia New Brunswick

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Recent comments

  • Dirk Diggler
    March 11, 2010 - 09:51

    We really should be doing a little bit of both. Raise some taxes and trim unnecessarry services. Let's start with MLAs. We have way too many MLAs for our province.If we get rid of some of them with their excessive spending, it will ease the burden

  • John Webster
    March 11, 2010 - 08:29

    To be fair to Minister Steele, he was talking about people who showed up at these meetings. Have a look at the Finance website and read the reports. You can see for yourself that, like it or not, a majority of participants agreed that raising HST was one solution to this horrific financial situation we find ourselves in. I don't want to pay more taxes but let's face it folks, I haven't heard anyone say they are ok with closing schools or hospitals either. We can't have it both ways.

  • Robert Bird
    March 10, 2010 - 23:32

    Thank you CBC! Just goes to show how far out of touch this government is, or just how little they care about Cumberland County. The size of the provincial government is way out of whack with the population and a reasonable solution is a hiring freeze and let attrition solve the problem. Yes Mr. Steele, no matter how you want to spin it, other more practical solutions do exist, and if you would just take off the blinders and dig your head out of your propaganda, perhaps you would see them as well.