Regan: NDP's Energy and Economic Policies Putting a Squeeze On Nova Scotians
Liberal community services critic Kelly Regan says a growing number of Nova Scotians are finding themselves in need of home heating assistance this winter due to the Dexter government’s high taxes and inability to rein in energy prices.
“Double digit hikes in electricity rates and near record high heating oil prices are taking a huge bite out of household budgets,” says Regan. “There are 28,500 Nova Scotians on income assistance and government itself has pointed to an increase in the number of people accessing Community Services programs - people are facing difficult choices."
"The fact that the Salvation Army’s Good Neighbor Energy Fund was fully depleted for the first time ever shows the serious impact the energy price crunch is having on low-income Nova Scotians.”
Regan points out that the Dexter government cut the province’s contribution to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund when it took power in 2009, slashing the funding in half from $800,000 to $400,000. At the same time, the NDP cut the government’s own Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) by nearly 60 per cent – from a maximum $450 per applicant to $200.
“It’s irresponsible for any government to limit the assistance available for its most vulnerable citizens – especially after raising taxes and standing idly by as electricity and gas prices soar,” says Regan. “The NDP’s emergency donation to the Salvation Army late Friday afternoon was an admission that this government has pushed Nova Scotians and their families to the brink.”
Regan is pleased that the Dexter government restored some of the resources it took away from the Salvation Army in 2009, but isn’t surprised the NDP had the financial flexibility to do so.
“The NDP government left $4 million of HARP funding on the table in 2009 and $4.4 million in 2010,” says Regan. “This is money that should have been used to help Nova Scotians make ends meet and we’re happy to see
that at least a fraction of it was put in the hands of the Salvation Army.”
“The need for assistance is growing and the Dexter government has the resources available to help – no Nova Scotian should struggle to stay warm this winter.”