The following is a letter from MLAs Eddie Orrell, Alfie MacLeod and Keith Bain sent May 4, 2018 to Premier McNeil and Minister Mombourquette asking for an audit of the Municipal Equalization payments distributed to municipalities in Nova Scotia.
Dear Premier McNeil and Minister Mombourquette:
As Cape Breton MLAs, every day we come face-to-face with the many challenges that prevent Cape Bretoners from living the healthy and fulfilling lives they deserve. The statistics are stark and they are well known.
One in three children in Cape Breton lives in poverty. Wait lists for healthcare are too long and the doctor shortage is acute. And, too often, people must travel to the mainland to get the basic healthcare and support services that are not available on the Island. In good conscience, we cannot stand by and say nothing. In the name of fairness and common decency, it is time to act.
We are writing to you to ask that you direct the Auditor General to conduct an audit into the Municipal Equalization payments distributed to municipalities in Nova Scotia. Our objective is not to demand that Cape Breton get more than its fair share, but to ensure the Island and its people are getting all the equalization funding they are entitled to.
There is growing sentiment in Cape Breton that an equalization imbalance is damaging the healthcare system and the Island’s infrastructure. A group called Nova Scotians for Equalization Fairness has formed. Their calculations indicate that Cape Breton receives hundreds of millions fewer dollars than it should. Only an independent audit will give us a complete picture of the equalization situation.
We know you both want to see Cape Breton and its people flourish. That’s why we are asking you to support the audit and to begin to address the many challenges faced by Cape Bretoners.
Keith Bain, MLA Victoria-The Lakes
Hon. Alfie MacLeod, MLA Sydney River-Mira-Louisbourg
Eddie Orrell, MLA Northside-Westmount