Desperate times call for desperate measures, but the budget presented by Finance Minister Graham Steele is a hard pillow to swallow for Nova Scotians who are already taxed to the limit.
The NDP government announced a plan to overcome the province’s deficit within four years, but it will be doing so on the backs of taxpayers, largely through a two per cent hike in the HST, from 13 per cent to 15 per cent as of July 1. This move will give our province the unwanted designation of having the highest sales tax in Canada.
Not only will this tax hike make Nova Scotia a less appealing spot to live and do business, it will make the problem of cross-border shopping even more serious. Nowhere will this be felt more than right here in Cumberland County. The new government has yet to solve the problem of gas stations losing business to the competition in New Brunswick, but that problem will now be compounded, along with cross-border shopping in other sectors.
To be fair, the budget contains some provisions that will make life easier for some Nova Scotians. A new affordable living tax credit will benefit those who make less than $30,000, a startling 15 per cent of Nova Scotia’s, while a new poverty reduction credit will also help those in need. Seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement will no longer have to pay provincial income tax.
And, despite what seems like harsh measures, the budget is still not balanced, with $14 billion expected to be added to our crippling debt this year.
Whether the NDP plan works over the long term remains to be seen, but at a time when the economy is still in need of jumpstarting, adding to our tax burden seems like the wrong approach. Canada needs economic growth, especially here in Nova Scotia.