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Stephen Kimber's Blog

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Stephen Kimber is is an award-winning writer, journalist and broadcaster. He is the author of one novel and nine books of nonfiction, including the best-selling Flight 111: The Tragedy of the Swissair Crash and Sailors, Slackers and Blind Pigs: Halifax at War. He teaches creative non-fiction at the University of King’s College in Halifax where he has served as Director of the School of Journalism on three occasions. His latest book, What Lies Across the Water: The Real Story of the Cuban Five is published by Fernwood Publishing. He is currently a weekly columnist with Halifax Metro, senior features writer for The Coast and a contributing editor for Atlantic Business Magazine.

Trickle-down cuts have created a revenue shortfall in Nova Scotia

| January 5, 2016
Photo: Taber Andrew Bain/flickr

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The Atlantic Institute for Market Studies -- a.k.a the Atlantic Institute to Comfort Its Affluent Corporate Sponsors While Afflicting the Rest of Us With Neoconservative Nonsense -- offers fawning support for Premier Stephen McNeil's "fiscally responsible" decision to preemptively eliminate bargaining rights for 75,000 provincial public sector workers. And praises McNeil's "important" step to wipe out arbitration alternatives built into public sector contracts.

No surprises there. AIMS never met a public servant it thought shouldn't be paid less. Or, better, have their jobs privatized so profitable corporations could eliminate their pensions and benefits while making real jobs into McJobs.

Who needs arbitrators?

Or a Charter of Rights?  

AIMS wishes McNeil had invoked the "notwithstanding clause" of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms to make it impossible to challenge the constitutionality of his almost certainly unconstitutional legislation for five years. "The issue could drag into the courts for years," AIMS blithely rationalized in a press release. "One might as well as well have invoked the constitution's notwithstanding clause from the start."

Who needs rights?

It's fascinating how easily the government and its AIMS cheerleaders transformed a much-needed discussion of our "revenue problem" into a rationale for still more cuts to exacerbate said problem.

The government's latest fiscal update -- released the same day it introduced its has-to-be-passed-yesterday public sector wage legislation -- only highlights its hypocrisy.

The numbers show we don't have an expenditure problem; we have a revenue shortfall.

While government spending was within 0.05 per cent -- a rounding error -- of initial budget projections, revenues are down. We have a revenue shortfall for many reasons, some a direct result of AIMS' neocon priorities.

After decades of slicing, dicing and chopping corporate taxes in the belief it would encourage investment and job creation, corporate tax revenue plummeted another $45 million with few jobs to show. Trickle down? Torrent up?

Revenue from personal income tax is down too. Some of that reflects the government's decision -- AIMS cheered -- to decimate the province's film industry. Their shared wish list for 2016 includes privatizing profitable public sector registries.

Combine that with frozen public sector wages, reducing how much income tax people pay, reducing the amount they can spend, reducing government HST revenues... and you have a recipe for more of the same, only worse.

Happy 2016.

This article first appeared in Stephen Kimber's Halifax Metro column.

Photo: Taber Andrew Bain/flickr

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