HALIFAX, NS – Progressive Conservative leader Jamie Baillie says Stephen McNeil’s budget today is nothing but a desperate attempt at damage control, rather than the urgent action plan needed on jobs and growth.
“Nearly four years in, Stephen McNeil has proven he has no vision for Nova Scotia and lacks any credible plan for job creation and growth,” says Baillie. “The major accomplishments the McNeil government points to in today’s budget show they are just trying to undo the damage they’ve done.”
Past damage they are trying to undo includes:
-Doctors. The McNeil government allowed the family doctor shortage to reach a crisis point in many communities. Doctors Nova Scotia says we would need to hire 100 doctors a year to even just keep pace with retirements.
-Long-term care food and recreation programming. The McNeil government cut $8.2 million from nursing home budgets in 2015/16 and 2016/17.
-Film budget. The McNeil government axed the successful Film Tax Credit in 2015, completely blindsiding the growing creative industry. The film tax cost about $24 million.
-Pharmacare. The McNeil government lied to seniors when trying to jack up their premiums for the Seniors’ Pharmacare Program. They then used taxpayers money to apologize and backtrack. The money touted in the accomplishments is nothing more than keeping the status quo of the program.
-Gravel roads fund. The McNeil government neglected rural roads for nearly four years and cut the Rural Impact Mitigation budget. On the eve of the election, they announced a new “gravel roads fund.”
Baillie says Stephen McNeil cannot be trusted to manage taxpayers’ money.”After all the cuts and pain of the last three years, the McNeil government chose to spend last year’s savings on their own pre-election damage control,” says Baillie. “This budget is full of holes, including inflated revenue projections and wage patterns that have not been established. It also fails to account for massive legal costs for unconstitutional acts like Bill 75.”It is widely anticipated that Stephen McNeil will call an election before allowing this budget to move through the legislature.
“Stephen McNeil cannot afford a line-by-line review of this budget before an election,” says Baillie. “Many people are worse off than they were four years ago. They need doctors. They need jobs. They were looking for some vision and hope. All they got today was Liberal damage control.”
Baillie says the urgency for real action is highlighted in this year’s budget, which shows that show the economy is in decline:
-Employment declined 6,400 since 2013 (Page 79 – 2016/17, Page 85 – 2017/18)
-Labour force declined 6,400 since 2013 (Page 76)
-Exports declined two per cent in 2016 (Page 81-82)
“Three years ago, Ray Ivany gave us an urgent call to action. The McNeil government has done nothing to get this province moving in the right direction. They’ve flatlined,” says Baillie. “We need a vision and a real plan to get our economy going, so we can afford important services like healthcare and education.”