Public forum event precedes two-day workshop at MUN
The Social Justice Co-operative of Newfoundland and Labrador’s annual general meeting will serve a dual purpose tonight by starting with a public forum on budget fairness.
Guest speakers Michael Bradfield, a retired economics professor from Dalhousie University, and Newfoundland and Labrador Federation of Labour president Mary Shortall will lead the discussion, scheduled to start at
7 p.m. in St. John’s at Memorial University in Room ED 2018.
According to Bradfield, governments often tell the public it cannot afford various programs.
“The question of ‘afford’ is a question of, ‘Well OK, who’s paying what on the taxes?’ There, you have a long-term trend in both Canada and in Newfoundland of two opposite things happening. One, growth in the economy is going primarily to the people at the top, and two, any tax cuts in the economy or in the budgets have been going to the same people. So you get a situation where the people at the top are getting more money and paying lower taxes on it.”
Tax fairness would take into consideration how taxes are shared among people at different income levels. In Canada, Bradfield says, while provincial governments adopt their own tax structure, they will still work with the federal definition of taxable income.
“What you have there is whenever the federal government gives some new tax break, that’s automatically transferred over to the province. So just take one of the recent ones, the tax-free savings accounts. That means if people can save money, they can put their money in a tax-free savings account and never have to pay taxes on it. Then you have to ask yourself, ‘Who can afford to save any kind of substantial money,’ and of course it’s the people at the very top.’”
In addition to today’s event, Bradfield will host a workshop to be held over the course of two days that will examine what work goes into creating an alternative budget.
In his view, a budget’s contents will ideally be informed by people with a wide variety of interests, and take into consideration how manageable its debt load is and the long-term stability of revenue streams.
Friday’s event takes place at the University Centre in Room 3013 — The Loft — at 6:30 p.m. It will go into the basics of a government budget and terms some people commonly confuse. Saturday will look at budgets in more detail, with particular emphasis placed on the role of income tax in forming a budget. That workshop starts at 9 a.m. in the council chambers of the MUN Students’ Union Building.