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BUDGET 2019: A little of this, a little of that for Newfoundland and Labrador consumers

.
. - Barb Sweet
ST. JOHN'S, N.L. —

Besides the rate mitigation plan and removal of taxes from auto insurance already announced, the provincial budget offers some small-ticket items for the average person's pocketbook.

They're little things to tuck in the back pocket of a government heading out on a campaign trail — a break on seniors' licences, free eye exams for kids — in order to have some good news to share, but not appear spend-crazy.

The tax break on the auto insurance, by the way, will come in the form of a rebate — whenever the legislation is passed — for any policies renewed or purchased as of the day it was announced (Monday).

The rate mitigation plan to help combat electric bills due to Muskrat Falls was also rolled out Monday by the Liberal government.

There were many things re-announced, and some things, well if they aren’t continually announced, people think they’ve been stopped.

For instance, the Newfoundland and Labrador Income Supplement and the seniors benefit is celebrated as a $123-million investment combined.

There is, however, no new increase or spending involved. Finance Minister Tom Osborne said if the government doesn’t mention them in the budget, phones ring off the hook at Confederation Building because people think the programs have been axed.


Here are some of the announcements that affect people and their households:

  • The temporary deficit-reduction levy is set to be removed by Dec. 31.
  • $1 million for heat-pump rebates — eligible homeowners can get a grant of up to $1,000.
  • Increasing the discount for seniors when they renew their vehicle registration. At-the-counter renewals will be less than $100 and online renewals will be below $90.
  • 10 percent reduction on vehicle registration for veterans.
  • The Eye See Eye Learn Program with the Newfoundland and Labrador Association of Optometrists will give children starting in kindergarten a free comprehensive eye exam.
  • Removal of the age cap for those currently enrolled in the Insulin Pump Program to ensure continued coverage for individuals who rely on the program.
  • The addition of 15 new drug therapies to the Newfoundland and Labrador Prescription Drug Program, eight of which are for oncology.

Some other help targeting specific groups, families and individuals:

  • $60 million in funding for early childhood development includes $2.5 million to develop child-care spaces in underserviced areas.
  • $10.2 million for maintenance and repair of public housing properties.

Inclusive and accessible announcements:

  • $3.1 million to modernize and renovate public rental housing, including accessibility needs.
  • $400,000 for the Accessible Taxi Program for companies to purchase an accessible taxi, and the Accessible Vehicle Grant to help individuals or families acquire accessible vehicles or adapt an existing vehicle to be accessible for personal use.
  • $300,000 for accessible, affordable transportation through the Newfoundland and Labrador Community Transportation Program.
  • $94,500 for the Para-Transit Grant for the City of St. John’s to deliver an equal-access public transportation system for persons with disabilities.

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