Dear Esteemed Sirs and Madames:
This is an open letter written to you, quite simply on behalf of the thousands of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians who want and need answers and who refuse to accept our ensuing demise.
The entire province has been in a dazed stupor since the 2016 budget was handed down. There are so many issues, one cannot even begin to know where to start, what to say, or how to say it.
It is with absolute certainty, an overwhelming number of us feel the same way: pillaged, plundered, blind-sided, betrayed!
It has been suggested via various social media outlets that the budgetary increases were based on the average household income of families here in Newfoundland and Labrador being at or around $74,000 annually. While, yes, many are employed in the “oil patch” in some way, most are not. The simple and stark reality is most of us are below that amount. In fact, the average income here is substantially lower. Many of us should be so lucky as to have that kind of income. Most of us literally live and survive paycheck to paycheck, my household being a prime example. We are a one-income household, and nowhere near $74,000 salary-wise. We, like thousands of other families, are literally stretched to the absolute limit financially, to the point of breaking. For us there is no disposable income — none at all! How are we supposed to pay for all the extra costs we now have to incur? We have nothing as it is. Most of us budget, down to the very last penny. Where are we supposed to get money we do not have?
The tax hikes, increases and levies will be the final nail in the proverbial coffin for many of us. The sad fact here is we will be forced to choose between food and heat. Our children will go hungry, our seniors, who have fought our wars and given up so much, will slowly but surely succumb to the strain of the unbearable weight. Our Aboriginal communities will suffer mercilessly. How can you possibly justify this?
I submit to you, a break down of a household in Newfoundland & Labrador, that is based on a gross salary of $55,000:
GROSS SALARY $55,000
APPLICABLE TAXES $23,000
APPROX. NET SALARY $32,000
MANDATORY PAYOUTS $29,900
(Mortgage, car, insurance, food, gas, heat & light)
Remaining funds $2,100
This is based on a family who does not smoke, does not drink, does not eat out. If one looks closely, that leaves a grand total of $2,100 of expendable funds — over a year! On a proposed gross income of $55,000, the additional tax burden is, give or take, around $4,000. There is no way for said household to survive — none! It really will be financial ruin.
Newfoundlanders and Labradorians are among the most educated and most resourceful individuals in all of Canada, yet most of us could not buy a job. We have the highest unemployment, some of the highest taxes, and quite frankly deplorable post-secondary education.
It has been said from day one that Muskrat Falls is, at best, a disaster, a huge financial blunder. Yet study after study after study has been done by previous and current governments. It has gone billions over budget, with endless “trouble points”. Before you were so illustriously elected, Muskrat Falls was a major point of contention for your party. Now that you are elected, you say that you are too far in development to stop and have proceeded to invest another $1.3 billion.
If pulling the plug or shutting Muskrat Falls down is not an option, is there not an option to defer action until such a time when it would be financially viable? Would it not have been better to invest the money that has been squandered on Muskrat Falls on jobs for working people in the province? $1.3 billion could go a long way with employment implementation and diversification. It might have also eased some of the now unbearable tax burdens we are now forced to endure. It might have allowed families to keep the much needed baby bonuses. It also might have allowed our seniors to not have to choose between food and medications or heat. It might have helped Aboriginal families who so very desperately need food, shelter, medical intervention.
The glaring lack of empathy and compassion for the people who voted you into office is simply incomprehensible. You do not know the reality of which we live. Then again, how could you? Some of you live on six and seven figure salaries! What is merely a “drop in the bucket” for some of you will be, for us, the very end of our existence as we know it. Maybe if some of you walked a mile in the shoes of the average Newfoundland and Labrador family, the drastic measures you have now taken would not be so easily done.
At the time of the election, promises were made, hands were shaken, babies were kissed, pancake breakfasts were held, and it was all “sunshine and roses”. The sun has gone away and the roses have died in record time. We are now seeing the true “Liberal red” — ya know, the Liberal red that seems to be “up to its glaring red eyes” in controversy and conflict of interest stories like Ms. Bennett, who in her former role as chair of Nalcor’s board of directors began to negotiate a deal with New Brunswick company Sunny Corner Enterprises, which reportedly did millions in business with Nalcor, before recusing herself from the meetings; then, four months after stepping down from Nalcor’s board, she purchased shares in that same company. Or the Liberal red seen in the recent revelations that Premier Ball, as part owner of the Sundra condominium project in Mount Pearl, stands to profit from the project’s “repurposing” to a long-term care facility following an announcement from Eastern Health that it will eliminate 50 long-term care beds as a result of funding cuts in budget 2016.
The complexity of how fiscally irresponsible this government is, is beyond reprehensible. Our families will be crippled under this burden of imposed debt, families will dissolve, bankruptcies will rise, spending will cease, businesses will layoff workers and perhaps close down. This government has taken the quick and easy approach to resolving an overwhelming deficit. We didn’t elect a government to trample over its people, we elected a leader that promised a better way: diversify our province and make it a better place to raise our families. I guess thinning our herd is your idea of helping our province.
We, the people of Newfoundland and Labrador, will not let this happen!
Tracey Murphy / Bay Roberts
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