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Ball tells feds he’s concerned about tax changes

Premier Dwight Ball talks to reporters as the federal Liberal cabinet meets in St. John’s Tuesday.
Premier Dwight Ball talks to reporters as the federal Liberal cabinet meets in St. John’s Tuesday.

Premier Dwight Ball said Tuesday he felt it was his duty to raise questions about proposed changes to the tax code that might affect small business owners.

Ball said he recently spoke to one small business owner in the province who thought her taxes would go up by 73 per cent as a result of proposed changes meant to prevent high-income earners from reducing their taxes by incorporating as small businesses.

“We need some better communication (about) what the impact would be,” Ball said. “Whether it’s the small business community or our health care professionals, right now, what I’m looking for is some clarification of what those impacts would be.”

Later in the day, federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau said he would contact the entrepreneur Ball talked to and personally explain the changes Ottawa is proposing.

Speaking to reporters in the bustling lobby of the Sheraton Hotel after his presentation to the federal cabinet, Ball said he also talked about the fishery, offshore oil industry environmental regulation and indigenous issues.

The provincial government is looking for federal involvement on an inquiry into the high numbers of Innu children currently in provincial government social service care.

If Ball got any indication from Prime Minister Justin Trudeau or his cabinet about whether Ottawa will get involved, though, he wouldn’t say Tuesday.

“We’re not going to rush it through,” Ball said. “We believe the federal government should be involved, and we’ve asked jointly that they would be involved to participate in this matter.”

Regarding offshore environmental regulation, Ball said what matters is that the federal government preserve the joint management enshrined in the Atlantic Accord.

That’s something that Newfoundland and Labrador Oil Industry Association (NOIA) chairman Andrew Bell supports. Bell was spotted in the lobby of the Sheraton Tuesday morning as well.

“We’re still very concerned about what’s going on with the reform, or what they’re looking at doing in adjusting the environmental assessment process. I mean, we need to be competitive in a global environment,” Bell said.

“It needs to be a robust process, but in today’s world we need to be more efficient with that process and have shorter timeframes.”

Bell said environmental assessments are one of the major choke points for getting new oil projects approved in the N.L. offshore.

“These oil and gas companies, they play in a number of different areas globally,” he said.

“If we are taking three or four years for an approval process and someone else is taking 6 to 12 months, where would you go?”

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