Deficit levy changes ad­dress top con­cern: Crocker

Fed­eral gov­ern­ment de­fers pay­ments owed to Ot­tawa

The Compass - - NEWS - BY AN­DREW ROBIN­SON editor@cb­n­com­pass.ca

In the aftermath of the Lib­eral gov­ern­ment’s an­nounced plan to in­tro­duce a deficit re­duc­tion levy as part of its budget, Car­bon­ear-Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Steve Crocker says there was no is­sue he heard about more from con­stituents.

“I can as­sure you as a part of our cau­cus, we were hearing from peo­ple by far the num­ber one con­cern was the levy,” he told The Com­pass last Wed­nes­day.

Crocker and his co­horts in the House of As­sem­bly could breathe a bit eas­ier fol­low­ing an an­nounce­ment the fed­eral gov­ern­ment would de­fer pay­ments New­found­land and Labrador was set to make un­der the Equal­iza­tion Re­payable Floor Loan.

“When the pre­mier ap­proached cau­cus in re­cent days and said, ‘Lis­ten, the fed­eral gov­ern­ment has freed up this avail­abil­ity in cash for us — some fund­ing that’s been made avail­able. What should we do with it?’ And it was to go back to our com­mit­ment that as soon as we can, we will move peo­ple off the levy.”

Pre­vi­ously, the levy ap­plied to all res­i­dents mak­ing more than $20,000. Un­der the new ar­range­ment, that thresh­old jumps to $50,000. This means ap­prox­i­mately 74 per cent of all tax­pay­ers will not pay the an­nual levy.

“I think peo­ple will be some­what pleased with it, or at least take some com­fort in the fact we said that we’d make this levy as tem­po­rary as pos­si­ble and take it off the low in­comes as soon as pos­si­ble,” said Crocker.

A re­cip­i­ent of equal­iza­tion pay­ments for decades, New­found­land and Labrador was cut off in 2007. The prov­ince owed the feds $378 mil­lion due to over­pay­ments and now has $267 mil­lion re­main­ing on its tab. Now, that amount will be paid off in­ter­est-free from 2022 to 2032.

Avalon MP Ken McDon­ald, who joined Crocker at the Stone Jug in Car­bon­ear Wed­nes­day for an an­nounce­ment about fund­ing for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity, said Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau was par­tic­u­larly amenable to the deal since it would help peo­ple with lower in­comes.

“There’s no cost to the fed- eral gov­ern­ment do­ing this,” McDon­ald said. “We’re just kick­ing the can a lit­tle fur­ther down the street to en­able the prov­ince to do some­thing for the peo­ple who could least af­ford to pay this levy. So it gives them the re­lief we’re look­ing for, and I think gen­er­ally the pub­lic will look at it in a good way.”

It’s also pro­jected that New­found­land and Labrador will one again qual­ify for equal­iza­tion pay­ments by 2022, ac­cord­ing to McDon­ald.

“And I’m sure if that pro­jec­tion doesn’t come to re­al­ity, it’ll prob­a­bly get kicked down the road a lit­tle fur­ther again, be­cause — to use the old say­ing I spose — you can’t get blood from a turnip. If you haven’t got it, you haven’t got it.”

AN­DREW ROBIN­SON/THE COM­PASS

Car­bon­ear-Trin­ity-Bay de Verde MHA Steve Crocker speaks at Wed­nes­day’s press con­fer­ence in Car­bon­ear at the Stone Jug to an­nounce new fund­ing for the mu­nic­i­pal­ity.

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