NL government issues checks up to $500 for living aid

Most Newfoundlanders and Labradorians can expect a check for $500 this fall, following the provincial government’s announcement Wednesday morning of a one-time payment for living expenses.

The check will be sent to any adult who has filed a 2021 tax return with income less than $100,000 per year. People who made between $100,000 and $125,000 last year will get a check for $250-$500, using a scaled-down formula. The provincial government says about 392,000 people will receive a check.

“This is our effort to help now, when people need it most,” Prime Minister Andrew Furey said at a news conference at the Confederation Building in St. John’s.

No applications are required to receive the checks. People who have not filed their 2021 tax returns will receive a check if they file their returns before the end of the year.

Rather than offer some form of tax credits, Furey said, his government wanted to leave spending to the discretion of the people.

“The cost of living is a current and real emergency for many people in our county,” he said.

“We know that the needs of every household in our county are different, and this cost of living check gives everyone the flexibility to spend some money where they need it most, whether that’s groceries or rent, home heating or gas. is.”

Treasury Secretary Siobhan Coady says the checks could go out once the plan passes the House of Representatives, and expects the money to be in people’s pockets by Christmas.

The government estimates the payments will cost the county about $194 million.

In April, the provincial government projected a budget deficit of $351 million, but Coady said the payments were made possible by higher-than-expected revenues, largely due to higher oil prices than budgeted.

Both Hillary Winter, left, and Taylor Baker-Tucker say the $500 will be a welcome boost to their bank accounts. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

The announcement was welcomed by people who spoke to CBC News in downtown St. John’s.

“As a recent graduate and trying to break into the workforce and all that sort of thing, it’s incredibly hard,” says Hillary Winter.

“Trying to buy a house is essentially out of the question,” she said. “Even groceries cost so much… Everything feels like it’s a lot more than it was five years ago, and it’s becoming a huge barrier.”

Taylor Baker-Tucker said the payment will be a nice incentive to help with her rising rent.

“I live downtown, so obviously rent is a little higher downtown,” she said. “It’s great to have a little extra cash to get there.”

Long-term plan needed, no one-off solutions: NDP

Progressive conservative financial critic Tony Wakeham praised the county for the move, saying it’s something the opposition has been asking for for over a year.

But it should have come sooner, he said, and he has questions about the future of other workarounds, such as the recent 10 percent increase in the provincial income allowance.

“I think there are still a lot of things that need to be addressed,” he said. “$500 a person won’t solve all problems… It’s one step, but it’s only one step.”

Wakeham also questioned the timing of the announcement, which came on the first day of the fall session of the provincial legislature.

A gray-haired man stands in front of several microphones as part of a media scrum.
Interim NDP leader Jim Dinn says he wants to see a long-term plan from the provincial government to tackle the rising cost of living. (Curtis Hicks/CBC)

Jim Dinn, the interim leader of the provincial New Democrats, called the announcement “another one-off”. He said he wants to see more from the provincial government to tackle the long-term cost of living.

“This amount could perhaps cover some of the rent increase that some people are facing. They still have to put food on the table, buy supplies, pay for heating and light,” he said.

“It has to be progressive, proactive and long-term.”

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