Halifax – For 10 years, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives–Nova Scotia has published alternative budgets that challenge Nova Scotians to consider the best use of limited government resources. Striking a Healthy Balance: Nova Scotia Alternative Budget 2011 offers ways to redirect resources, such as the $84 million spent to rebate the provincial portion of the HST on oil and electricity bills.
“A balanced budget is not the only measure of good governance,” according to Christine Saulnier, Director of CCPA–NS. “Our Alternative Budget makes strategic investments that will help those in need right now, but will also result in savings down the road. And, all this is done while maintaining current spending levels, reducing the deficit and balancing the budget.”
We base our budget choices on evidence about how to achieve stated outcomes for those directly affected by specific decisions, and for our province as a whole.
“Want to ensure that more Nova Scotians share in the prosperity and well-being that we seek to achieve?” asks Saulnier, “Invest in the early years. Provide safe, adequate and affordable housing. Reduce the income gap between the rich and the rest of us. In short, improve the conditions in which people are born, live, work and age, especially for those who are at a disadvantage.”
The Alternative Budget is able to reduce tuition fees for university students, half them for college students, and decrease the amount of student loans to be repaid. It is able to invest in building new affordable housing. It invests to begin the transition from a patchwork of child care options to a public system upon which families can really rely.
Our approach is a sustainable and progressive approach to budgeting. It reforms income tax so that everyone pays their fair share especially the wealthiest Nova Scotians. The Alternative Budget also proposes ways to save money and creative ways to raise money. For example, in recognition of the real port and infrastructure costs of the cruise ship industry, charging a $1 user fee per cruise ship passenger for shore excursions raises up to $250,000. Shrinking ‘gifts’ to corporations saves $45 million.
As for that $84 million, the Alternative Budget redirects the money to reduce the poverty gap for those who rely on government assistance. In contrast, the government’s across-the-board energy rebate for everyone does not address the root causes of high energy costs and of some people’s inability to pay their bills.
For more information or to arrange an interview, contact Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS at 477-1252 or 240-0926 (cell).