Letter to Michael Baker, Minister of Finance, Province of Nova Scotia.
I understand from an item in the Chronicle Herald that you are planning to review the Province’s tax system, and the article contains comments by some representatives of large business organizations.
I hope you will also consult with bodies such as Kairos and The Centre for Policy Alternatives. You will need the points of view of the common people and of those organizations that are most concerned with equality and social justice. Government is more than a business venture, and one of its duties is to protect the vulnerable from the powerful.
According to news reports, the poverty gap is growing, within our country and among the nations. This growth is a scandal in a country as rich as ours. One excellent way to begin closing the gap would be by raising the basic income tax exemption – perhaps by doubling it. I have a pension income sufficient for my needs – some $44,000 annually, with no financial responsibilities for anyone other than myself – so my needs are nicely covered. But I don’t know how those making half that amount are able to exist – on tea and toast, I suppose.
Recently there have been letters in the newspaper criticizing the high salaries paid to members of the Legislature and particularly to members of Cabinet. I happen to believe that our elected governors should be among our best paid citizens; clearly you have important responsibilities, and we have chosen you to exercise those responsibilities. I do deplore the granting of huge bonuses to unelected persons who are already receiving salaries in the hundreds of thousands and even in the millions.
Many of us complain that our taxes are too high. But we seldom provide realistic suggestions for cutting government expenses. We need to consider the benefits we receive for those taxes. Which potholes do we not want to see filled? I am happy with our present total level of taxation, but want to see the burden on the poor lifted, and a more equitable distribution of expenditures. More nursing home beds, more doctors and nurses, better care for people with special needs, universal pharmacare for preschool children – implement these measures, and I wont oppose a modest increase in taxation.
See Ralph Surrette and Jeffrey Sachs for good ideas!