Nancy Conrad
Nancy Conrad, Senior Vice President, Policy

Spring is here and we all are thinking about summer and warmer weather.  The golfers are practicing their putts in the office and on Nintendo Wii for months, waiting for the courses to open.  The rest of us are just happy to see the sun and put away our winter coats and boots.

On the economic front, we have done well as a city and province. We have seen a municipal budget, a provincial budget, a federal budget and are in the midst of a federal election.  For many of us, it is easy to get lost in all the political talk and posturing, but the outcome of this election could be hugely impactful to our day-to-day lives.  As your Chamber, working on your behalf, we continually state to every level of government that we must live within our means.  We cannot continue to add to our debt and the budgets must be balanced.  We also push hard for no new taxes and a reduction in the tax burden business carries.  After all, it’s not government that generates and will generate wealth – it’s business. Every dollar kept in your business is one you can use for training and new technology to grow and sustain your business.   We have raised the flag on red tape and regulatory issues at all levels of government knowing this can really suck the life out of many small business owners and operators.

But a few words for us as both taxpayers and business folks – we must be realistic about our requests to our governments.  If you are concerned about a competitor or ask for more government oversight, you may get it.  If you feel we need more recreation, cultural activities, snow clearing and roads fixed, then you may get that too. However, remember government has no money of its own, just yours and mine.  For instance, our province has a huge debt ($13B) and the interest alone costs us almost a billion dollars each year.  This interest payment does not buy books or hospital beds – it is simply the minimum payment on our credit card.  Who can get their head around these numbers?

The new norm is that we have to do more with less for now, because we have less – fewer people to pay taxes.  But we do have great potential if we can look at new approaches and new opportunities and not just say we want things the way they were before.  We need industries that can grow and sustain themselves and will train and hire local talent.   We need to make sure every Nova Scotian wants to be a part of this new norm, and ensure they acknowledge that investments in literacy and numeracy will be part of this.