Mr. Scrooge delivers coal for Islanders

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Finance Minister Wes Sheridan says no to raising basic income tax exemption

Finance Minister Wes Sheridan

No. No. No. That is the favoured response from P.E.I. Finance Minister Wes Sheridan anytime that anyone comes looking for a break from the provincial treasury. The finance minister wants to save every dollar possible for the next two and a half years on his mission to balance the books before the provincial election in the spring of 2016.

Mr. Sheridan is adamant there will be no loosening of his tight purse strings, except of course when it comes to MLAs getting their .75 per cent pay raise starting next April.

The harshest no of them all was his refusal to increase the basic personal income tax exemption for Islanders. He told the legislature last week there’s a better way to focus tax relief but then offered no options what they might be.

It appears there is no way Mr. Sheridan will give any kind of relief to over-taxed Islanders, at least not at this point.  But at what point will low- and middle- income Islanders, our working poor, get a tax break? The finance minister says it won’t be until he balances the budget. That’s two and a half years away, at the earliest. Basic personal income tax exemptions have been frozen on the Island since 2008.

Incredibly, Mr. Sheridan said he doesn’t think raising the personal income tax exemption is useful because people like he would benefit when they don’t need it and there are better places to give Islanders tax relief. Well, Mr. Sheridan, the issue is not about you, it’s about the majority of Islanders who need and deserve a tax break right now that raising the basic personal exemption would provide.

He can always raise the provincial tax surcharge on upper-income Islanders in higher brackets if he feels so distressed, so the rich can pay a little more to negate losses to the public purse of increasing basic personal exemptions to assist those most in need.

In P.E.I., the basic personal amount is $7,708, which is the lowest in the country. It’s not indexed to increase with inflation and Mr. Sheridan has no intention of changing that either. Alberta has the highest basic personal income tax exemption at a staggering $17,593, to go along with low tax rates. The basic exemption in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia is approximately $8,500 and Newfoundland Labrador is almost $9,500. That extra thousand or so dollars for low- and middle-income Islanders won’t be staying in their pockets very long but will go right back into the provincial economy to buy staples and necessities. That move will stimulate the economy.

Government has tied all of its fee increases to the consumer price index, which have left Islanders poorer, but the basic personal exemption is immune to the CPI application. Why? What does Mr. Sheridan know that every other province doesn’t?

The majority of Prince Edward Islanders would be much more sympathetic to Mr. Sheridan’s fiscal goals if he were seen to show some compassion and flexibility when it comes to taxation relief.

We want to hear a yes that this province cares about the poor and a yes that tax relief is coming soon. We have high taxes and high unemployment. Our crippling electricity costs and high fuel prices are all heavily taxed. There is one area where Mr. Sheridan can give Islanders a little break and he says no.

Perhaps he should go the Salvation Army, food banks and soup kitchens to see how many Islanders have to live.

Organizations: Salvation Army

Geographic location: Iceland, Alberta, New Brunswick Nova Scotia

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Recent comments

  • don
    December 12, 2013 - 13:20

    Low exemption shafts seniors. i hope you all read this letter to the paper. so true but we all know if wes had to live on $20,000 a year he would die. but wes your day of big money will come to an end and when you get to be a senior i hope i am around to see you begging for food at the food bank and if i was the person passing out the food you would get NOTHING. i would tell you to go to your old gang they will help you LOL. EVERYONE PLEASE READ. Low exemption shafts seniors letter to the editor.

  • m&m
    December 12, 2013 - 11:25

    oh so right mr scrooge

  • voter
    December 12, 2013 - 07:50

    he will get his payoff --a nice political plum for selling out --- he just did was he was told --FOR MONEY--- ----------------------WHAT SELFISHNESS

  • Liberals are a joke.
    December 12, 2013 - 06:46

    The only thing Sheridan ever done for PEI hope he didn't really screw over his last job to bad,because after the next election he will be calling back this old job. I hope the PNP books get open soon before this gov is booted out of office we need to know as taxpayers where our money was wasted,and this gov does not need a wage increase they never ever did,usually when we do good. You get rewarded not this gov.....get them PNP books open Wes Sheridan before you are kicked out soon.

  • No more voting for me
    December 11, 2013 - 19:39

    Sheridan will not help the needy he only helps his greedy cronies like himself,he thinks our taxpayers money is all of his to squander and waste,what a joke this gov is.

  • peipaul
    December 11, 2013 - 17:46

    Get use to high taxes and fees. We can't have deficits forever or the Province will go bankrupt. We have next to no natural resources are major (profitable) industries to tax, so the burden falls on you and me. If you don't like the taxes now, just wait till interest rates rise. HAVE A MERRY CHRISTMAS!!!

  • kate
    December 11, 2013 - 16:40

    Oh but minister scrooge did show up at the Summerside Salvation Army's new facility on Pope Road this morning. Unfortunately, he forgot to bring the turkey for the turkey drive. That didn't stop him from using the CBC airtime to tell anyone who can bear to listen to his droning how conderned he is for those who use the Salvation Army's services. Couldn't resist the temptation to defend his position on the personal exemption (like we want to be lectured at 8:15 in the morning) and his plan to save CPP either. Does this man have any insight? I don't think so.

    December 11, 2013 - 14:56

    Thank you Brent and I am sure the other member of the Wes fan club is happy with your views.

  • Brent McGillis
    December 11, 2013 - 14:20

    You could move to Hellberta where the air is choked with the stench of Tar Glop Cooking in 300ft. high Coker drums, where traffic is clogged until 9 p.m. every day. 30/150 of accidents were hit and run in Edmonton's last snowstorm. Alberta Gov. operates in the RED for 5 years now. AB sugarcoats taxes with "User Fees" and Borrows Billions to pay our bills. When I lived in the Okanagan we called high taxes, "The Sun Tax". B.C. means "Bring Cash". So the P.E.I. needs to promote the Island Life Style as the Clean Air Tax or something like that. B.C.r's favorite saying is, "Well at least it doesn't stink like Alberta".

  • don
    December 11, 2013 - 13:37

    wes i'm sure most islanders would agree that you should be paid for what you have done. if that was the case you would be paying islanders. the only thing you have done is, put us in the hole by billions, help your liberal gang, and get pay increases.

  • don
    December 11, 2013 - 09:39

    his tight purse strings, except of course when it comes to MLAs getting their .75 per cent pay raise starting next April. but he has money for high ranking liberals and friends of the party. but the people that owns that money gets screwed. wes i have never in my life seen a person that is so disgraceful and disrespectful to the people that pays your high wages. well what you are doing now will come back and haunt you like you have never though of. and yet you have the backbone to think you have done a good job. well all you have done is screwed most islanders we know you have helped a few make lots of extra money. but the day will come when your biggest fear will happen and that is the PNP books will be opened.

    • very concerned
      December 12, 2013 - 06:57

      I cannot believe Wesley Sheridan's attitude and disrespect for Islanders, Why doesn't Giz rein him in. He (Sheridan) thinks he is so good at what he does, well have I got news for you. STOP this "No" stuff and don't be so arrogant.