Balanced Budget Strengthens Services and Supports for Nova Scotians

Government tabled today, March 20, its third consecutive balanced budget making investments in health care, education, early years, communities and the economy.

“With Budget 2018-19, we will recruit more doctors and improve access to health care, invest in classrooms and pre-primary, and support more Nova Scotians to participate fully in their communities and in the economy,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. “We want all Nova Scotians to have opportunities to grow and succeed. This budget supports that goal.”

Budget 2018-19 estimates a surplus of $29.4 million with revenue of $10.81 billion and expenses of $10.78 billion.

Budget investments in health care include:
— $19.6 million in additional funding, as part of government’s multi-year plan to recruit, retain and train more doctors
— $8 million more for new and expanded collaborative care teams across the province
— $8.8 million to provide 350 more hip and knee surgeries, create a central booking process and hire more surgeons
— $2.9 million more for mental health care, including more support for youth mental health
— $1 million for youth health centres
— $1.2 million increase in the Take Home Cancer Therapies program to help pay for medications
— $5.5 million more to help seniors stay in their homes longer, including more home care support and expanding the caregiver benefit
— upgraded health-care facilities in Halifax, Dartmouth and Hants County to support the QEII redevelopment project

Budget investments in education and early years include:
— $17.6 million to add about 130 new pre-primary classes as part of a plan to have the program available across the province
— $15.5 million to add new child-care spaces and to offer more subsidies to make child care more accessible and affordable
— $10 million increase to implement new recommendations from the Council to Improve Classroom Conditions
— $15 million to begin implementing recommendations of the Commission on Inclusive Education
— $1.6 million more to expand SchoolsPlus into 54 more schools
— $3.3 million increase to expand Reading Recovery to cover 96 per cent of schools, with every school having programming in 2019
— opening four skilled trades centres this year at Amherst High School, Sir John A. Macdonald High School (Upper Tantallon), Richmond Academy (Louisdale, Richmond Co.) and Central Kings Rural High School (Cambridge, King’s Co.)
— continue work on school construction, including schools in Sheet Harbour, Eastern Passage, Halifax, Spryfield and Yarmouth

Budget investments in safe and connected communities include:
— $16.2 million increase in Disability Support Program to help more people move out of institutions, to improve respite care and to fund more complex client cases
— $2.1 million to help create eight small options homes and two community options homes
— $3 million to double the poverty reduction credit to $500
— $4 million for initiatives under the Blueprint to End Poverty as part of a four-year, $20-million commitment
— $3.4 million to fully exempt child-support payments from income assistance calculations
— $2 million to help prevent domestic violence, the first year of a four-year commitment
— $12.4 million more to improve public housing buildings
— $3 million to offer 400 more rent supplements to low income Nova Scotians
— $60 million more for a total of $285 million in capital spending on highways, bridges and roads, which includes $10 million more to improve gravel roads for a total of $20 million
— work on three significant twinning projects and four new interchanges on 100-series highways as part of a multi-year plan
— $2.4 million more to expand and support community transportation under SHIFT for older Nova Scotians

Budget investments in inclusive economic growth include:
— $1.7 million to further expand the Graduate to Opportunity program to connect new graduates to employers, with added incentives for hiring diverse graduates and women in non-traditional careers
— $500,000 more for incubators and accelerators, which support startup companies
— $356,000 to help an additional 89 student interns through the Mitacs Accelerate program for a total of 250 placements
— $1.5 million more to enhance work incentives for people receiving income assistance
— $460,000 increase to the Office of Immigration to help international marketing and recruitment efforts
— $485,000 to create a market readiness program for startup companies
— $2.5 million more for the Innovation Rebate program to encourage private sector investment in capital projects
— $3 million for the Centre for Ocean Ventures Entrepreneurship (COVE) project to foster innovation in the ocean sector
— $3 million for the new Building Tomorrow Fund to support innovation in agriculture, fisheries and aquaculture sectors
— $5.8 million added to the Atlantic Fisheries Fund, in partnership with the federal government and the other Atlantic Canadian provinces

Budget 2018-19 also includes the Capital Plan, which invests $605 million in roads, schools, health-care facilities and other public infrastructure.

The budget also contains the final forecast for 2017-18, which updates the positive net position to $23.2 million. Additional appropriations related to the forecast, totalling $227.1 million, for nine departments and assistance for universities.

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