Question Period Highlight – Tax Review putting Volunteer Firefighter Tax Credit at risk?

November 20, 2014

Your NDP MLAs are hard at work in the legislature this fall, holding the government to account during Question Period on a number of key issues, including job loses since Stephen McNeil became Premier, and how the Liberals’ health board amalgamation distraction is causing their government to take their eye off what really matters – front line care. Here is a question Sackville-Cobequid NDP MLA Dave Wilson asked Mark Furey about the Laurel Broten tax review.

DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Municipal Affairs. A 2008 news release about fire service in our province, the member for Annapolis spoke about the need to “. . . support the hard work of firefighters here in Nova Scotia who selflessly protect all of us.” I’ll table that.

I would agree with him, Mr. Speaker. These are people who literally run into burning buildings when everyone else is running out of them. So my question to the Minister of Municipal Affairs is, does he agree that emergency responders like firefighters deserve the provincial government’s support?

MARK FUREY: Mr. Speaker, I thank my colleague for the question. I, too, agree with his assessment of our firefighter service and the individuals who risk their lives on a regular basis. I had the good pleasure over many years to work side by side with our emergency first responders and can tell you there is nobody in this House who values their service more than I do.

DAVID WILSON: I’ll compete with the minister on that one, I don’t know about that one, Mr. Speaker; I’ll challenge him on it but I agree with him.

According to the organization Volunteer Canada, 80 per cent of Canadian firefighters are volunteers. In some rural areas of our province, for example, Mr. Speaker, 100 per cent of those firefighters are volunteers. For many years now the provincial government has been giving these hard-working men and women volunteers a tax rebate, a small token of appreciation for the work that they do. So my question through you to the Minister of Municipal Affairs is, given the important role volunteer firefighters play in our province, why is this government entertaining eliminating their tax rebate?

MARK FUREY: I appreciate the question. As has been stated in this House before, the report submitted is simply an independent report with a number of recommendations. We will consider all of the recommendations in the assessment over the next number of months.