Reaction to the N.S. budget
Nova Scotia's New Democratic government delivered a budget on the promise of modest income tax relief, which brought varied reactions on Tuesday.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie scoffed at the suggestion the tax breaks will make a difference.
"Ninety-nine dollars for this group here, $105 for that group over there is a slap in the face compared to the $4,000 in extra HST that every Nova Scotian family is paying because they broke and raised the HST after the last election," he said.
The changes affect fewer than 15 per cent of taxpayers and the amounts going back to those taxpayers ranges from pennies a year to a high of $204 per year.
Baillie said the better course would have been to balance the budget and cut the HST this year.
The government said it will bring the HST back to 13 per cent, but not until 2015.
Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil agreed the budget does nothing for Nova Scotians.
"If you were a Nova Scotian that was struggling yesterday, what's in this budget? Where's the help to deal with the high cost of power? Where's the help to deal with the high cost of gasoline? These are things that Nova Scotians are struggling with," he told reporters after the budget was unveiled.
Opposition criticizes education, health-care cuts
McNeil said classroom teachers and frontline health-care workers are being told to do with less.
"This is a government that is growing it's own bureaucracy and doing very little to deliver services," he said.
Leanne Hachey, Atlantic vice-president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, gave the budget a B rating.
"We have said that spending restraint was definitely the star of the show for the second year in a row. That's certainly good news for our members who are looking for a disciplined approach to spending in government," she said.
Hachey said her organization was also pleased with tax relief measures for small business.
"It’s a signal that government gets that our businesses and families are not competitive with those in the rest of the country, and we need to take steps to address it. This budget has definitely taken steps," she said Tuesday afternoon.
"We think government should go the full way and come up with a tax plan to tell our families and businesses where we want to go over the next five to 10 years."
Organizations weigh in on budget
Kevin Lacey, of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation, said the budget does nothing for middle-class taxpayers.
"While we welcome the HST cut — and it's good to see that taxpayers are being bribed by tax cuts rather than by spending — ultimately today it's not going to mean a lot. So, we're disappointed with what's been presented," he said.
Christine Saulnier, of the Canadian Centre for Police Alternatives, said there isn't much in the budget for people living in poverty.
"We do see some tax cuts … but the money isn't enough to make any difference in the pockets of those who really need it. Unfortunately, it does rob our government of some money that they could be using," she said.
The Canadian Federation of Students in Nova Scotia welcomed an extra $5.5 million in post-secondary student assistance included in the budget.
"It's good to see that the province is putting $5.5 million into financial aid, but they haven't said where in financial aid that's going," Gabe Hoogers said.
"We'd like to see that where it's needed most which is need-based upfront grants. So far we haven't had the word on that yet but if it goes into the debt cap, that wouldn't be good for students. It's not at the front of university. It doesn't increase accessibility."