Polling data released Tuesday by CUPE shows that people don’t support the province’s budget cuts, and a majority of the people polled would be fine with tax increases as a way to reduce the deficit.
The polling was done by the Canadian Union for Public Employees (CUPE) in late June by Vector Research.
Wayne Lucas, who speaks for CUPE in Newfoundland and Labrador, said that his read on the data is that people don’t support the government’s budget cuts, and they don’t believe they were necessary.
“What I think the people of Newfoundland and Labrador are saying is that they don’t necessarily trust the Dunderdale government,” Lucas said.
The CUPE poll results show more people say health care and creating jobs should be the government’s top priorities. Only 13 per cent of respondents said reducing the budget deficit should be the most important issue for the government.
Moreover, 59 per cent of respondents said yes to the question, “Would you be willing to pay more taxes in order to help reduce the government’s budget deficit if you knew the tax increases will be shared by everyone?”
Lucas said people earning lower incomes were more likely to support tax increases, and people with annual incomes of more than $70,000 were more likely to oppose new taxes.
“Blue-collar workers really value the fact that a whole range of public services are provided for them — you know, they get their garbage picked up. They go to the hospital when they’re sick,” he said.
“On the other hand, if you’ve got lots of money in your arse pocket, who cares?”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Finance said minister Jerome Kennedy was unavailable to comment because he was travelling Tuesday.
New Democrat Leader Lorraine Michael said she’s not surprised that people are willing to support tax increases.
“It is my experience when talking to people that if they see taxes being spent wisely and being spent for the common good and taxes being fair, they do understand the need for taxation and they understand why taxes may have to increase at certain points,” she said.
“That’s what I get from people in this province. That’s the attitude I pick up.”
Michael also said she doesn’t think the deficit is a big deal, and the poll numbers seem to reflect the fact that people don’t buy the government’s explanation for why budget cuts were necessary.
Liberal finance critic Dwight Ball said he’s against tax increases.
“My position on that is that it’s not about a tax increase. You know, all the groups that we talk to, they say there’s enough money in the system,” he said. “What we really need is better management, and we need to just spend our money wiser.”
According to the CUPE data, more than half of the people polled oppose merging school boards to save money, and more than 60 per cent of respondents oppose government layoffs.
Vector Research polled 306 people in the province from June 13 to 18, using computer assisted telephone interviews. The margin of error is 5.6 per cent, 19 times out of 20.