Tax review in Nova Scotia panned by taxpayers, supported by business
Laurel Broten's report makes 42 recommendations
A review of Nova Scotia's taxation system has produced varying reactions, with opposition politicians and average taxpayers panning it and some ideas getting support from environmentalists and business leaders.
The review, which was ordered by the governing Liberals, was done by former Ontario cabinet minister Laurel Broten. She released her report on Wednesday and made 22 recommendations related to taxes and 20 recommendations related to provincial fees.
Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie said the report frustrated him.
"Nova Scotians just paid $150,000 to get a report to tell them their taxes should go up, they should pay more in HST, or electricity rates should be even higher," he said.
"It says nothing about job creation. This is exactly the wrong conversation that government should be having with Nova Scotians today."
One of Broten's recommendations included imposing a carbon tax on environmental pollutants and the goods that produce such pollutants. That didn't sit well with Baillie, who called the measure a job killer and said it will lead to higher power rates in the province.
"Any report that says Nova Scotians need more HST and a job killing carbon tax that actually increases our electricity rates and as a fundamental premise says it's because there's not enough people working here, we should tax other things and give up on actually creating jobs — it's just the wrong way to go," he said.
Catherine Abreu said the carbon tax was one item in the report her group, the Ecology Action Centre, supported.
"I'm interested in seeing Nova Scotia adopt a revenue neutral carbon tax based on the model of B.C. where it's been incredibly successful," she told reporters on Wednesday.
'I have a strict budget'
"We've seen B.C.'s economy grow at a higher rate than the other provincial economies in Canada in the time it's had the carbon tax, while emissions have reduced by 16 per cent."
Abreu said thinking a carbon tax is a job killer is wrong.
"The impression that it's jobs versus the economy is an outdated model of understanding the ways in which our world works. Our economy functions within the environment, so a healthy environment is absolutely necessary to a healthy economy," she said.
The Halifax Chamber of Commerce said the carbon tax proposal wasn't their favourite suggestion coming out of the report.
In an email, the chamber said they were in favour of a revenue-neutral shift from personal to consumption taxes, reducing personal and corporate income taxes, holding program spending at 0 per cent and indexing tax brackets at 1.2 per cent per year.
They have concerns about the proposal to implement a pollution tax and to increase the small business tax rate.
Cree Loppie, a single parent, said she doesn't like the idea of paying harmonized sales tax on previously exempt items including children's clothing, diapers and home energy costs.
"I think it's terrible," she said. "We have to pay tax on just about everything. I don't think it's a good idea. I have a strict budget, so to think about adding 15 per cent on all items, even shoes and stuff like that."
The MacNeil government says they will begin implementing parts of the report in the spring budget, but which parts they won't say.