Nova Scotians will pay more in the new year
Power rates go up along with contributions to EI and CPP
Nova Scotians will have to dig deeper to pay their bills starting next week as the new year rings in a rise in a number of basic costs and taxes, including power and water.
Mel Boutilier, executive director of the Parker Street Food and Furniture Bank in Halifax, said his emergency fund to help people pay bills is running low.
On Thursday, he was on the phone with Nova Scotia Power to negotiate a partial payment on behalf of a mother who was unable pay her bill.
Boutilier is worried things will get even worse when power bills go up by more than nine per cent in January.
"To the poor people that are on fixed incomes, or part-time jobs, struggling to raise a family on maybe $15,000, $16,000 a year, 10 per cent is a disaster for them. There's no way they can meet any extra expenses," he said.
"This 10 per cent increase is going to cause people to be stressed, cause people to be in the dark in the cold weather this winter. I can guarantee you that. They try their best to get help and to manage their own finances as carefully as they can, but it's just impossible to meet the increase in the power rates along with the other increases."
Last year, the food and furtniture bank spent $40,000 helping people pay their power and oil bills when they had nowhere else to turn.
As power rates rise, paycheques will shrink in the new year with bigger contributions to federal Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan.
Kevin Lacey, Atlantic Director of the Canadian Taypayers Federation, said Nova Scotians could shell out even more money because of what he calls bracket creep.
"As your wages increase, you'll move up the different income brackets, though your buying power will not actually change," he said.
"Other provinces protect taxpayers from this, but in Nova Scotia the government is reaping the rewards of these types of sneaky tax increases.
Lacey said these increases will hit Nova Scotians hard because the cost of gas and groceries also continue to rise.
On top of that, the cost of municipal water may increase again in the summer.
Halifax Water has applied to the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to hike rates in June. If approved, the average household would pay an extra $5.75 a month.
This request comes a year after the water commission was given a 27 per cent increase, after asking the review board for 41 per cent more.