As local reaction continues to yesterday’s provincial budget announcement, Discover Humboldt caught up with the Director of the Humboldt and District Chamber of Commerce, Brent Fitzpatrick. Recognizing that the budget was, in part, a response to pandemic spending, Fitzpatrick recognized that there would be some belt tightening necessary in some areas. 

“I really respect the folks in the provincial government and what they’ve faced and their ongoing reactions to it,” Fitzpatrick says. “In conversations with them over the year, I’ve known they’ve been really working towards a balanced budget. It was within a fingernail’s grasp, and then COVID came along and kind of derailed everything. It makes me happy to see the idea of their approaching a balanced budget.”

Fitzpatrick acknowledges that the application of the PST to entertainment commodities such as concerts and sporting events will be perceived as a pinch, but he says it’s a “chip in” price to pay for the response to the pandemic. He cites the readily available rapid testing kits provided without direct cost as a small example of the expenditure that needed to be made. 

The aforementioned belt tightening shouldn’t cause a direct impact on local business, Fitzpatrick feels. The increase in taxes is dwarfed by other considerations.

“I think there’s a lot bigger problems afoot right now as we all know. Just the quickly approaching out of control inflation and rising costs across the whole spectrum. When you go to any business these days, everything is starting to cost a bit more, so I think where the taxes are being grappled from is not a bad place to go. It’s not the day to day life consumable that’s being affected.”

When it comes to the expenditure side, Fitzpatrick says that spending will still be in place to meet commitments for infrastructure, health care, and other critical aspects. 

“We still need roads; we still need a health care system to protect us. Education, health, and infrastructure are the pillars, and those seem to be addressed quite well.”

In the end, it’s an exercise in necessity, says Fitzpatrick, where public expectations may simply outstrip the government’s ability to live up to them under the circumstances.

“The government is looking at the cheque book going ‘how do we do that’. There are always concerns from sectors, but the overarching thoughts I’ve picked up is that they are doing what they can and to the best of their ability.”