Deficit levy changes address top concern: Crocker
Federal government defers payments owed to Ottawa
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.”
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.