Cum­ber­land North MLA says provin­cial bud­get misses the mark

When it comes to grow­ing Nova Sco­tia’s econ­omy

The Amherst News - - NEWS - BY DARRELL COLE darrell.cole@amher­st­ Twit­ter: @ADN­dar­rell

Cum­ber­land North’s PC MLA El­iz­a­beth Smith-McCrossin said Tues­day’s provin­cial bud­get had some good things in it for her rid­ing, but misses the mark when it comes to eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment and ad­dress­ing Nova Sco­tia’s mas­sive debt.

“I’m dis­ap­pointed there’s no real fo­cus on grow­ing the econ­omy,” Smith-McCrossin said in re­sponse to the bud­get de­liv­ered by Fi­nance Min­is­ter Karen Casey. “We need to fo­cus on grow­ing the econ­omy and cre­at­ing jobs. We have to take steps now by do­ing things like money to sup­port en­trepreneurs and mak­ing tax changes that sup­port busi­ness.”

She said she found it odd that the prov­ince is ex­pect­ing $20 mil­lion in rev­enue from the sale of cannabis that’s ex­pected to be­come le­gal as soon as July. She’s con­cerned there’s no off­set­ting ex­pen­di­tures for en­force­ment or ed­u­ca­tion.

“They re­ally don’t know what the rev­enues are re­ally go­ing to be, but they’re bal­anc­ing the bud­get on mar­i­juana sales,” she said.

Smith-McCrossin said the govern­ment is adding an­other $120 mil­lion to the provin­cial debt, adding it’s do­ing very lit­tle to ad­dress the prov­ince’s fi­nan­cial pic­ture – some­thing fu­ture Nova Sco­tians are go­ing to have to clean up.

“On one hand, they’re say­ing they have a sur­plus of $29 mil­lion but we’re an­other $120 mil­lion in debt. As we look to in­ter­est rates in­creas­ing in the near fu­ture we should be look­ing to con­trol our debt, not in­creas­ing it,” said Smith-McCrossin, who is a can­di­date for the Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive Party lead­er­ship.

She is pleased to see more money for health-care and physi­cian re­ten­tion, but she’s con­cerned with how the prov­ince ac­tu­ally spends its money and is wor­ried no new money was ear­marked for psy­chi­a­trists. The MLA is dis­ap­pointed the prov­ince didn’t ad­e­quately ad­dress the long-term care sit­u­a­tion, adding that too many peo­ple are stuck in hos­pi­tals around the prov­ince wait­ing to get into longterm care fa­cil­i­ties.

Lo­cally, she’s pleased there is money to fix the Hast­ings Road that was an is­sue dur­ing last spring’s provin­cial elec­tion, while work is also sched­uled for High­way 6.

She’s dis­ap­pointed, how­ever, that the prov­ince doesn’t ap­pear will­ing to take any steps to elim­i­nate the tolls on the Cobe­quid Pass any ear­lier than 2019, which Premier Stephen McNeil pledged to do be­fore last year’s elec­tion and again dur­ing the cam­paign.

“This year they’re pro­ject­ing over $9 mil­lion in net profit. The ques­tion I have is how much of that $9 mil­lion is off the backs of busi­nesses and res­i­dents in Cum­ber­land County,” she said. “I’ve said time and time again this is not a fair tax. I re­ally be­lieve the money is there to elim­i­nate the toll now.”

Smith-McCrossin said she was dis­ap­pointed there was no men­tion of the Rain­bow Bridge in the bud­get, but she re­mains op­ti­mistic the prov­ince will find money to ei­ther re­pair or re­place the struc­ture once it has a con­sul­tant’s re­port in its hands in the next week or so.

“Even though it’s not in this bud­get, I’m hop­ing the min­is­ter will find the money to re­place or re­pair the bridge,” she said.

She’s also hop­ing the govern­ment will do some­thing to ad­dress the sit­u­a­tion at the two Springhill ele­men­tary schools sooner rather than later.

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