The fact that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality (CBRM) council is considering applying for a loan to help us get by during the COVID-19 pandemic, is very serious.
The Province of Nova Scotia has been severely under-funding towns and municipalities for decades while they receive more and more money each year in equalization to help us. If these municipalities, including CBRM, had been properly funded by the people we trust (government leaders) during that time, we would not be in such a dire situation.
Unfortunately, we will now see more towns and municipalities go under due to the practice of under-funding while Ottawa sends Nova Scotia increased amounts each year to deal with our high taxation, high unemployment, high poverty, outmigration, failing infrastructure, etc.
What is amazing now is the fact the province will still not increase the pittance they send us which is basically a negative $5 million ($15 million minus the $20 million we pay back in CBRM). And now they want us to borrow our own money with interest.
Mulgrave is a prime example of this situation as they receive $127,000 per year and pay back much more than that, when in reality, their share of the fiscal capacity grant should be over $1.4 million each year.
The same could be said about the Town of Port Hawkesbury which is receiving $298,730 in the province’s Fiscal Capacity Grant but should be receiving over $4.5 million. After all, this is what Ottawa is sending the province to address the fiscal capacity issues for these two towns.
Equalization is a constitutionally guaranteed entitlement for the citizens of Canada and yet our government leaders continue to manipulate and tinker with this program to benefit a few when everyone outside the capital region in Nova Scotia is suffering and failing.
Do not blame the COVID-19 situation on the failing of towns and municipalities as five folded long before the virus was here in Nova Scotia. The situation in rural Nova Scotia is getting more ridiculous daily and the premier, municipal affairs and others in Halifax need to start to provide answers to the citizens who employ them.
Dr. Rev. Albert Maroun
Nova Scotia Equalization