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In light of the negativity towards the past and present provincial governments and our economic state, I, a proud Newfoundlander, wrote an open letter to our Premier: “Give Us a Strategy”.  It’s a follow-up to my previous post: “Taxes: Step Up and Help Those In Need

SUBJECT: NL Budget 2016, Strategy

Dear Premier Ball,

Thank you for your willingness to lead Newfoundland and Labrador. The mantle of leadership is heavy and the role you play is very important. I was born and raised in this province and take much pride in saying, “I’m a Newfoundlander.”  Give us a strategy that will allow us to stand for this province, stay in this province and actually strive towards “a stronger tomorrow.”

As a Christian, I want you to know that I pray for you and your Cabinet.1 While our views may not always coincide, I humbly pray for and respect your leadership.

As a Newfoundlander, I also want to apologize. The economic mess you are trying to fix is not solely the mess of a past political party, a past leader, or a particular situation. The mess was created by me, a Newfoundlander.

I guess, to be fair, I should say it was created by all of us. No one protested when services were increased and taxes were decreased on account of oil revenues. I don’t remember anyone asking, “Are we saving for the future?”  Personally, I know I didn’t complain, when our family received extras like the “baby bonus.” But now, no one wants to take the blame of over spending, when in fact, part of the blame is on all of us.  It’s time we all take some ownership of this great place we call home!

With that said, repayment is upon us. Thank you for realizing we can’t keep borrowing our problems away, and that it’s irresponsible to allow debt servicing to become a major expenditure.  That means we have to work together to make this province a great one again!

The strategy you, and Finance Minister Cathy Bennett, have developed looks profitable in theory and certainly includes everyone. The HST increase and income tax increases are not only helpful, but are also in line with the other Atlantic Provinces.  However, we can’t afford for the weight of this process to fall on lower-income households.2 We need to ensure that those working hard to break-even, with the basic necessities of life, are not further displaced with painful taxes. This won’t help our province. It will hurt it. We need to protect this vulnerable group and represent what Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are best known for – being a loving and caring community.

Give us a strategy that protects the services for those in need and allows for a true income-based repayment schedule.  We need to protect services like dental coverage for low-income households.  We also have to remember that the debt reduction levy must be proportionately added to tax payers.  Likewise, an extra $9.90 (an additional 16.5 cents/L on a 60L tank) at the gas pumps will affect every household differently.  That’s nearly an hour’s wage for someone making $25,000.  The impact on the lower-income household can be overwhelming.

Not to mention, if you want Newfoundlanders and Labradorians to buy into paying more taxes, we need to ensure the increase is actually used to reduce our debt, not increase spending elsewhere.

Give us a strategy that increases education. We can’t afford to tax books.  Books aren’t old technology, they are timeless.  Reading has the potential to spark creative minds and a bright future.  We would be better served to increase taxes on electronics than discouraging one another to read.

Give us a strategy that decreases the costs of health care. We can’t afford to decrease services, so we are better to increase taxes on the well-known causes of health problems.  Continue to increase the tax on things like tobacco and alcohol, or enact a “sugar” tax.  Perhaps further tax on these items can positively impact both our revenues and future health-related expenditures.

Give us a strategy we can buy into.  Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are a team.  We rise and fall together!  Give us a strategy that protects, and yet includes, the lower-income households, while expecting those of us who make more, to pull our weight.  Give us a vision, be transparent, and we will follow. Why?  Because we’re proud of our province!

Premier, you haven’t “dropped the ball,” but the ball is certainly in your court. You have the reins and we are following your lead.

Give us a strategy worth standing for; staying for; and, striving for!  Prove to us “a stronger tomorrow” is possible.

A fellow Newfoundlander,

Andrew Holm
Husband, father, pastor, and resident of Bay Roberts, NL.

cc. Cathy Bennett, Finance Minister
cc. Pam Parsons, MHA Harbour Grace – Port de Grave
cc. Fellow Newfoundlanders


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