The head of the province’s largest labour organization says Tim Houston’s “Better Paycheque Guarantee” will do little to help workers or the economy, and could lead to government service cuts.
“Raising the minimum wage would be a more equal and more fair thing to level the playing field across the board for all workers,” Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour (NSFL), told the Sidebar. “One of our arguments in favour of a higher minimum wage has been, all along, that it will put more money in the pockets of people who will spend it in the local economy.”
The Progressive Conservative plan would see up to $200 million in corporate income taxes returned to businesses with the intent they redistribute it to existing or new employees.
Critics, including Cavanagh, call it trickle-down economics. “That’s exactly what it is,” he said.
The Tories say the opposite is true.
“This isn’t ‘trickle down economics,’” the party said on its website. “This plan punches trickle down economics in the nose.”
Returning so much tax revenue to corporations would place public programs and services in jeopardy, Cavanagh said.
“How do you make up for that revenue?” he asked. “At some point, something will have to be cut. You can’t cut revenue and expect to operate the same way.”
The Sidebar requested an interview with Houston this morning but did not receive a response by time of publication.
In a news release yesterday, the Tory leader said: “A PC government will give your boss a choice: leave the money they paid as corporate tax in the hands of the government, or ask for it back on the condition that they distribute those same dollars to their team.”
“Under the plan, the province will return 50% of what is paid in tax the next year as a subsidy, provided it is paid to their employees,” the release said. “Every corporation is eligible simply by paying tax, on the condition it goes to workers.”
Neither Houston nor his party sought input from Cavanagh’s 70,000-member organization. “There was no consultation with us,” the labour leader said.
With a provincial election on the horizon, Cavanagh said the NSFL would like to see parties embrace a higher minimum wage, legally enshrined paid sick days, and improvements to occupational health and safety standards based on lessons learned during the pandemic.