NDP introduces legislation to study Cape Breton fiscal imbalance
October 28, 2016
For Immediate Release
SYDNEY – This morning, the NDP Caucus introduced legislation to begin addressing the fiscal imbalance between Cape Breton and mainland Nova Scotia. The bill would require the government to fund a study to find solutions to the unique financial challenges faced by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality in providing a fair level of services to its people.
“At 12.9 per cent, Cape Breton’s unemployment rate is much higher than the rest of the province,” says Carmie Erickson, President of the Cape Breton District Labour Council. “The result is a smaller tax base and less revenue for important municipal services like roads, libraries, and economic development.”
Cape Breton Regional Municipality Mayor, Cecil Clarke, has been calling for the province to look at the fiscal imbalance faced by the municipality for years. In previous years the CBRM has had to make layoffs and reduce services due to an eroding tax base. Other municipalities in Cape Breton are also facing challenges.
“When the second largest municipality in Nova Scotia has structural problems making a go of it, this is not just a Cape Breton problem – it’s a problem for our entire province,” said Gary Burrill, Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP. “We must do more to revitalize the economy in Cape Breton and the province has a major role to play. This legislation is a first step.”
The Cape Breton economy relies heavily on public services. The region has seen a number of public service job losses due to actions by the McNeil Liberal government. These include layoffs at provincial parks, courthouses, nursing homes, and the closure of economic development offices.
“Stephen McNeil and his government often cite municipal mergers and shared services as a way for municipalities to address growing fiscal problems. In the case of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, these steps were taken 20 years ago,” said Burrill. “A new approach is needed and that’s what our legislation hopes to accomplish.”
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