Valerie Payn
Valerie Payn, President & CEO
 

The following article appeared in the Chronicle Herald, August 15, 2014.

Dear Premier McNeil:

You are soon approaching the second year of your mandate.  How time flies.

The good news is this is your time.  Your time to make change.  Your time to act, confident in the majority government mandate Nova Scotians entrusted to you and your colleagues last fall.

High on your focus must be our provincial fiscal situation, in particular our $14.8 billion debt, which will be more than $15 billion at the conclusion of the current fiscal year next March.

Halifax Chamber of Commerce members – and undoubtedly others in the private sector – are ready to do our part to invest, grow the economy and create new jobs.

But we need you and your government to be bold, to make the tough, but necessary, decisions to get Nova Scotia’s fiscal house in order.   The One Nova Scotia Report released earlier this year was called “Now or Never” – we urge you to clearly and quickly articulate a path to:

  • Balance the budget by 2015-2016 by reducing government spending to a level this generation and future generations can afford;
  • Resist the temptation to increase taxes or user fees as a means to balance the budget – if higher taxes were the solution to Nova Scotia’s fiscal woes, we would have the best balance sheet in the country;
  • Act on the advice provided by business groups to reduce unnecessary regulations to make it easier to create new jobs and generate new tax revenues (but not at the expense of health, safety and the environment);
  • Start lowering taxes – for individuals and businesses – in 2016-2017, once the budget has been balanced, so Nova Scotia can become a more affordable place for young people, other individuals, families and businesses;
  • Accelerate the implementation of the One Nova Scotia Report by the all-party coalition you struck and give its work legislated authority, similar to the Environmental Goals and Sustainable Prosperity Act, which was passed with all-party support.

With an election likely more than three years away, you will never have a better time than now to be bold and take the inevitable criticisms for making decisions that will not make everyone happy.  This is the epitome, and the price, of leadership.

At the Chamber, we are seeing many positive early moves from your government.  You have built a strong team of capable ministers to support your work.

Now we need you to visibly lead.

The business community stands ready to support you and your government through the tough decisions you must make.  Publicly share with us, and all Nova Scotians, your vision for the future and your plans to get us there.

We are with you to bring about bold change.  Will you share with us your plan?

Regards,

Valerie A. Payn
President and CEO
Halifax Chamber of Commerce