April Budget Revisited Today in the Legislature
Finance Minister Karen Casey tabled a budget in the Legislature today that mirrors the document tabled last April just prior to the provincial election.
Casey says, "Nova Scotians spoke clearly that they wanted more investment in health care, and this budget invests more to help further reduce surgical wait times and improve access to mental health care and addictions services, and to advance other priorities for moving this province forward."
The budget cuts taxes for the middle class. "This is the largest income tax cut in our province's recent history," said Casey. "We are also providing tax relief for 1,800 small businesses to help them grow and hire more Nova Scotians."
The budget also invests in the first year of a four-year roll out for free pre-primary school for four-year-olds across the province. Casey says, "This program is a game changer for our children and also saves families thousands of dollars each year."
Budget 2017-18 predicts a surplus of $21.3 million on estimated revenues of $10.6 billion and expenses of $10.5 billion.
Additional investments from the budget tabled in April include:
• $2.7 million more, for a total 2017-18 increase of $6.4 million, to hire more specialists, perform more orthopedic surgeries and offer new prehabilitation services to help patients to prepare for a successful surgery
• $846,000 to establish a new take-home therapies cancer program to help pay for high deductibles and copayments for cancer patients who need to take these medications at home
• $799,000 more, for a total of $1.36 million this year, to act on the opioid use and overdose framework and expand addiction treatment programs to eliminate the waitlist
• $1.8 million to expand youth mental health services and outreach across the province
• $192,000 for more youth mental health supports in Cape Breton resulting from the report by Dr. Stan Kutcher, including hiring an additional two guidance counsellors and one social worker for the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board
• $750,000 additional investment, for a total of $4.5 million in 2017-18, to roll out at least 52 pre-primary classes at 45 sites with early learning programming for 4-year-olds
• $238,000, for a total of $458,000, to support the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls, including the hiring of three community outreach specialists who have experience in dealing with trauma to provide cultural support to families and community members
- $2.5 million in the first year, for a total investment of $38 million over seven years, in the Atlantic Fisheries Fund.
"We are committed to the investments we outlined in April," Casey said. "This budget, government's second straight balanced budget, continues our plan to make the province's finances stronger while being able to provide Nova Scotians with important programs and services."
Budget investments in healthy people and communities include:
• reducing taxes for more than 500,000 people in the middle class and people who need it most by increasing the basic personal amount by up to $3,000, effective Jan. 1, 2018
• $2 million to create and begin to implement a plan to address poverty in Nova Scotia
• advancing plans for satellite dialysis units at hospitals in Bridgewater, Kentville, Digby and Glace Bay, and expanding dialysis services in Halifax and Dartmouth
• $5.1 million more for home care, including increases for the self-managed care and the caregiver benefit programs
• $6 million to advance new collaborative care teams across the province and $3.6 million for additional family practice nurses and nurse practitioners
• $1.2 million increase to help foster parents meet the day-to-day needs of the children in their care
• $2.4 million more to support recruitment and retention of doctors
• $3.2 million to enhance mental health programs
• $3.9 million to support more people with disabilities to live independently in the community
• $1.1 million to continue work to address sexual violence.
Budget investments in youth and jobs include:
• $1.7 million more for the Graduate to Opportunity program and $1.7 million to fund a new program for employers to hire recent master's and PhD graduates
• $1.3 million to eliminate the tuition apprentices pay for technical training
• $2.1 million for coding and computer skills and to expand the Reading Recovery Program to 73 more schools
• $1.8 million to increase community and mental health supports for students, through the SchoolsPlus program
• $1.4 million for additional school psychologists and speech-language pathologists
• $800,000 to support families with children with autism through a new pilot program and regional centres.
Budget investments in new ideas for a better economy include:
• reducing taxes for 1,800 small businesses by increasing the small business tax threshold to $500,000 from $350,000
• $14.5 million for rural high-speed Internet
• $1.3 million to increase opportunities for more export and trade, including a new export accelerator program
• $4 million to support innovation initiatives, including a new rebate program and more support for business startups
• $500,000 in additional funding to double the Small Business Development program
• $2 million to revitalize the province's key tourism sites
Budget investments in supports for an aging population include:
• $395,000 to establish a social innovation lab focused on aging
• $50,000 for a community Internet/digital literacy training project
• $30,000 to promote entrepreneurship for older adults
• $3.2 million to increase food budgets and enhance recreational programming for residents in long-term care facilities
• $250,000 more for the seniors safety and age-friendly
community grant programs
• $7.9 million to meet the needs of Nova Scotians age 65 and older enrolled in the Seniors Pharmacare Program.
Budget investments in infrastructure include:
• major highway projects and four new interchanges on 100-series highways, part of a seven-year plan to twin three sections of 100-series highways
• new and upgraded health-care facilities in Halifax, Dartmouth and Hants County to support the QEII redevelopment project
• repairing and rebuilding gravel roads - $10 million each year of a new multi-year program
• new schools in Spryfield, Tatamagouche, Bridgetown, Bible Hill, Sheet Harbour, Eastern Passage, Dartmouth, Halifax and Yarmouth
• $40 million for municipal clean water and waste water projects
• $38 million for affordable housing, including creating new affordable housing units and improving affordable housing options, in partnership with the federal government.
Budget 2017-18 also includes the Capital Plan, which invests $515 million in roads, schools, health care and public infrastructure.
Budget 2017-18 projects a $131.6 million surplus. The surplus includes a one-time revenue increase of $110.3 million because of federal and municipal contributions for the convention centre in Halifax. The $110.3 million will go towards the debt to provide the fiscal capacity in future years for the continuation of the QEII Health Sciences Centre redevelopment, enhancing care for Nova Scotians and Atlantic Canadians. The resulting net position is $21.3 million.