27 Nov “A Prescription for Poverty” – Health Network Response to Broten Tax Review

Halifax, NS – Health advocates are ‘astounded’ by the recommendations of the just completed Nova Scotia tax review. The Nova Scotia Citizens’ Health Care Network, a coalition of patients and health workers, called the recommendations  backward and unsafe.

From the standpoint of health and the well-being of the most vulnerable sectors of the population, this is clearly bad policy “.” said Dr. Tim Bood, board member of the Health Network. “One of the biggest, if not the biggest indicator of health is income. So why would you cut taxes to the rich and implement a tax that hurts women and the poor disproportionately?”

The review, headed by Laurel Broten, recommended eliminating the top tax bracket for people earning more than $150, 000 per year; lowering the corporate tax from 16% to 13.5%, eliminating point of sale rebates on books, children’s clothing, diapers, and feminine products.

“Consumption taxes force those struggling to make ends meet to spend more of their income on needed items” added Bood.

Breton also recommended freezing all program and department spending, a move the group says will undermine the provincial heath system’s ability to meet the population’s needs.

“We have an aging population with high rates of chronic disease and illness. Wait lists for home and long term care have ballooned, and we have a massive shortage of health care workers. Plus, over the next decade, the federal government is cutting $902 million in health funding for Nova Scotia.” said James Hutt, Provincial Co-ordinator of the Health Network.

“We need a strong public health system now more than ever. I don’t understand how someone can be so out of touch with reality to advocate for a freeze in spending and tax cuts”

The only positive outcome of the review, according the Health Network, was support for a carbon tax.

“Personal health is inextricably linked to the health of our environment” said Hutt. “Though any good a carbon tax could do will be greatly outstripped by the other recommendations. As a whole they amount to a provincial prescription for poverty.”