Nova Scotia

NDP proposes tax hike for the wealthiest to help address poverty

NDP Leader Gary Burrill is proposing a three per cent tax increase for people making more than $250,000 to help raise money to combat poverty.

Move would affect 3,700 highest income earners in the province and would generate about $20M a year

Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill says the additional revenue from the tax hike would go toward a variety of actions to address poverty, including income supplements and more support for education and health care. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

Nick Jennery wants hunger to be a central issue in this election campaign. More specifically, he wants to know what the political parties are prepared to do to end it.

The executive director of Feed Nova Scotia was at an NDP campaign event on Tuesday where he was invited to comment on the fact Nova Scotia has the highest rate of food insecurity in Canada outside the territories.

Food insecurity is when people can't access food because they can't afford it.

"Do you feel good about that? I don't feel good about that," said Jennery.

Worrying trends

There are 45,000 people in the province that use food banks, a number that isn't decreasing. Jennery said it's important to start emphasizing the issue so it can begin to improve.

"I don't think it's OK that six year olds come in to Feed Nova Scotia with their birthday money asking us and me personally to feed kids in their class," he said.

Jennery made the comments following NDP Leader Gary Burrill's announcement that his party, if it wins the May 30 election, would increase taxes by three per cent for people who make more than $250,000 a year. The move would affect about 3,700 people and generate about $20 million a year.

Acting on poverty

Burrill said the additional revenue would go toward a variety of actions to address poverty, including income supplements and more support for education and health care. It also partners with his party's plan for a $15 per hour minimum wage.

"We are at a time when we need, as a people, to make some very serious investments," said Burrill, who called hunger a crisis in Nova Scotia. "In order to make investments, you have to have the means."

It is the party's stated goal that everyone in the province be able to get their food from a grocery store by the end of four years.

Feed Nova Scotia executive director Nick Jennery says he'd like to hear all political candidates and parties talking about what they would do to address hunger in the province. (CBC)

Jennery said the problem can be turned around, but it will take leadership and political will. Steps such as the tax credit for farmers who donate surplus crops to Feed Nova Scotia are good, but there needs to be more, he said.

"We need different thinking and it starts with 'I'm not going to accept this any longer,'" he said. "Our province has accepted hunger as just one of those things we have to deal with every day."

Those who are helped often give back

Jennery said there's another reason to act on the issue.

"Our experience is that when you help people in need, they go on to help others. They go on to get to a better place and they contribute to community," he said.

Jennery said he'll meet with any party or politician who has a plan to combat hunger in the province.

About the Author

Michael Gorman is a reporter in Nova Scotia whose coverage areas include Province House, rural communities, and health care. Contact him with story ideas at michael.gorman@cbc.ca

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