© Guardian photo by Brian McInnis
Former Opposition leader and now an independent Progressive Conservative MLA, Olive Crane.
As the provincial government delivers its latest budget, independent MLA Olive Crane says it's not getting relief to the people who need it.
Crane said it's important for the government to move toward a balanced budget, but it has to look at where and how to spend tax dollars.
"We all know it's been a real harsh year," she said.
Finance Minister Wes Sheridan delivered a budget Tuesday that projects a $39.7 million deficit with a plan to bring it to balance by 2015-2016.
It also anticipates the province spending about $129 million in interest charges this year, which was about $15.8 million more in 2013-2014.
Crane said the total amount the province pays in interest on its debt is about the same as the budgets for the agriculture and forestry, and community services departments combined.
"When a government has to pay $130 million in interest bite you start to understand why they're having such difficulty investing in people that really need it," she said.
Before the budget was released, Crane was hoping to see help for home heating costs and increases to some social assistance funding, but was disappointed on those fronts.
Crane said she was interested to see how an agreement with Maritime Bus to help Islanders travel when they need medical attention off-Island would work.
That's because not everyone can travel by bus, depending on their medical conditions and needs, Crane said.
"The details have to come out yet so I'm wondering about that particular program."
For NDP leader Mike Redmond, he said Islanders will have to wait until next year for the government to address some issues like social services payments.
"Well 2015 is too long to wait," he said.
Redmond said the government hasn't tackled some issues like the social determinants of health, housing, food and recreation.
"It's very very disappointing. We would have thought we would have seen something from this government to help people in need and quite frankly this Ghiz government has failed once again."