Liberals promise no tax increases in campaign platform
Stephen McNeil says $28 million will be saved by cutting departmental spending
Nova Scotia's Liberals are promising to freeze tax increases, reduce the number of health authorities and restore millions of dollars to the education system if they form the next provincial government.
The Liberals released their platform on Wednesday for the Oct. 8 election.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil said he would only cut the harmonized sales tax if the province reaches surpluses that would make up for the lost revenue, meaning each percentage point cut in the tax would require $190 million in the black. McNeil said he would amend if necessary a law the NDP government passed that requires one percentage point cuts to the HST in 2014 and 2015. The tax stands at 15 per cent.
'"Our plan is very reasonable," McNeil said at a community centre in Halifax. "It's prudent."
Last month, the government said it was projecting a surplus of $18.3 million for this fiscal year. McNeil doubts the forecast and said he would conduct an audit of the province's finances if he won the election.
McNeil said the promises his party is making would cost $46.7 million annually over three years.
The Liberal platform includes a commitment to restore $65 million to education and spend $3.7 million for graduate research scholarships. They're also promising to cap classroom sizes to 20 students for Primary to Grade 2 classes and a cap Grades 3 to 6 classrooms at 25 students.
The party said it would save $13 million annually by reducing the number of district health authorities from 10 to two, with a plan to reinvest that money in reducing wait times for hip and knee replacements, adding 100 new family doctors over four years and buying insulin pumps for children.
The Liberals also promise to cut departmental spending by one per cent — excluding the departments of Health and Education — for a savings of $28 million over three years.
"We do not see that there will be any layoffs in the public service other than the things that happen through natural attrition," said McNeil.
The Liberals also plan to save $10 million by ending forgivable loans to businesses and another $10 million by reducing spending on government consulting and advertising.
With files from The Canadian Press