Anyone listening only to government talking points could be excused for thinking that Budget 2017, delivered last week, was good news. However, aside from, some relief on the new gasoline tax, everything about the new budget is the same as the old one. Today in the House of Assembly, NDP MHAs asked the finance minister to confirm some disturbing financial indicators included in budget documents but not in the actual speech.
“It takes close reading of the Budget 2017 documents to learn that it basically is a continuation of the choices government made in last year’s disastrous budget. I’d like to get confirmation of details about some of the hardship that people in the province will continue to face,” said House Leader Lorraine Michael.
“I ask the Minister, will she tell the people of the province her forecast for year-over-year change in average household income in the coming year? Will she tell the people of the province her forecast for year-over-year change in retail sales in the coming year?
St. John’s Centre MHA Gerry Rogers followed up with related questions. “Will she tell the people of the province her forecast for changes in the cost of living in the coming year? Will she tell the people of the province her forecast for changes to the unemployment rate in the coming year?” she asked.
All but one of Budget 2016’s 300 new fees and taxes remain: the book tax, insurance tax and the increase in HST included.
For the record, household income is predicted to see a real decrease of 3.2 per cent over the next year, retail sales will go down by 3 per cent, cost of living will go up by 2.9 per cent and unemployment is predicted to increase every year until it hit 17.2 per cent in 2021.