Op-Ed, Jamie Baillie
Growing debt and job losses are linked
© CHRISTOPHER CAMERON - THE NEWS
“We can’t afford to stay here, and those that are working away can’t afford to come back!”
This is how one frustrated mom put it to me recently. Too many of us see our own extended families in this one statement. That is what has to change.
Families are split apart. Jobs are lost. The cost of living is unmanageable. These are the issues that are being raised repeatedly as I travel across Nova Scotia, visiting many local communities as part of the PC Jobs Tour (www.pcjobstour.ca). Families can’t afford to live here. Employers can’t afford to set up shop. Sky-high taxes, fees, power rates, and job-killing regulations have placed an unfair burden on families and workplaces alike.
Now we have learned the government ran up a huge deficit of $679 million this year, and our total debt reached a record high $14.8 billion. That is $15,700 for every single one of us. The outlook for the next few years isn’t much better, as the Liberal government plans to add another $1 billion in new debt during their mandate.
This has to change. Our growing debt is in the way of making things better. It stands between us and lower taxes. It stands between our children and a brighter future. It stands between all of us and more jobs and prosperity. Changing Nova Scotia for the better means getting our government finances in order now, not someday. For too long, we have been living off the credit card. Until we stop, we will remain a minimum payment province that can’t get out of its rut.
We need to get the cost of living down. For a competent government, that means living within its means and getting taxes down. It is sad that we appear to have exchanged NDP promises and debts, for Liberal promises and debts. Clearly, that is not good enough. The Liberals do not appear to get this. Total spending this year is $464 million over budget. Even allowing for one-time items, they show no urgency to address our financial problems. We must break the debt cycle now, just like anyone else who lives off the credit card too long.
Total employment is projected to drop by another 2,300 jobs in 2014. But it doesn’t have to be this way. We are blessed with great natural resources. Our universities do excellent research. Our schools produce thousands of new graduates each year. We must get serious about immigration. After all, bringing in new immigrant families enriches our province and our economy. We do have what it takes to succeed. We just need the political will, and leadership to do so.
During my Jobs Tour, I also got an earful about what we don’t need. We don’t need more government studies, committees, collaborations, or kumbaya/hand-holding sessions. Nova Scotians are clear: “This is a jobs crisis. We need action. Things must actually change.” I couldn’t agree more.
Many Nova Scotians are asking “What can we do?” The answer is: a lot. Hold your government, at all levels, accountable for inaction. Demand better. Look for results. See who, in government, welcomes the responsibility, and who shirks it. Too many Nova Scotians who are working away from their families are counting on us. After all, they want to see jobs and opportunity here too.
Jamie Baillie, is the leader of the opposition, Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia.