No Joke: Budget lacking support for small businesses, economic recovery

PC Finance Critic Murray Ryan is expressing concerns that Premier Rankin’s budget does not contain support for small businesses, nor a roadmap for economic recovery.

“The Liberals have acknowledged getting back to balance is a priority but they appear to have no plan to help small businesses get back to profitability,” says Ryan.

Businesses have been losing revenue throughout the pandemic, and those in the hospitality and tourism sectors are expecting another difficult season if conditions are unsafe to accept tourists from outside of Atlantic Canada.

In discussions on the budget on News 95.7 with Halifax Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Patrick Sullivan on Friday, the new investments in hospitality and tourism were characterized as a “rounding error.”

Sullivan stated that “sadly, to some extent, they have forgotten how hard hit this sector (tourism) has been over the last twelve months.”

Other provinces have introduced measures in their budgets to support economic recovery, including a reduction in small business tax in PEI and the continuation of their local travel incentive program in New Brunswick. In contrast, Rankin’s first announcement as Premier was a tax credit for high-priced electric cars.

“What I don’t think the Liberals understand is that their plan to return to balance is contingent on the full recovery of revenue by the small businesses who fuel our economy,” says Ryan.

PC Leader Tim Houston agreed.

“Supporting these small businesses in returning to profitability and to providing jobs for Nova Scotians is how we recover lost government revenue,” says Houston. “We need to avoid a future where the only businesses left are those with headquarters outside of our province.”

The PC’s have previously suggested measures to jumpstart our economy including a $200 tax incentive for meals and accommodations to encourage Nova Scotians to travel within the province, aided by additional marketing for local tourism and assistance to municipalities in expediting permits for patio and outdoor dining for food and liquor service.

Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis stressed the importance of supporting small businesses during the first Liberal Leadership Debate, in stating:

“We have two choices. One is to make investments now and help our small businesses get through this, the other is that we will need to support many Nova Scotians who some even now are out of work but many more would be out of work if our small businesses continue to shut down.”