The Rankin government’s first budget includes the single largest increase in income assistance in the province’s history and other investments in key sectors that will benefit Central Nova Scotia, including the hospitality industry, long-term care, public health, mental health and the environment.
It lays a solid foundation for a strong economy in which business can grow and provides a path to balance in four years.
Finance and Treasury Board Minister Labi Kousoulis tabled the budget in the legislature Thursday, March 25.
“Our government strives to improve the lives of all Nova Scotians and defines progress through economic growth as well as well-being and quality of life,” said Mr. Kousoulis. “The province’s next chapter is being written right now and it tells the story of a modern Nova Scotia on the path to balance.
Budget 2021-22, A Fair and Prosperous Future: Path to Balance, estimates a deficit of $584.9 million with revenue of $11.8 billion and expenses, after consolidation adjustments, of $12.4 billion.
Budget 2021-22 investments that will benefit Central Nova Scotia Include:
- $35.2 million in additional funds to increase the standard household rate for adults who receive income assistance by $100 per month
- $24.2 million to distribute COVID-19 vaccines to Nova Scotians, including Halifax, Dartmouth, Elmsdale, Lower Sackville, Sheet Harbour and Musquodoboit Harbour
- $6.3 million to continue the Dartmouth General Expansion Project
- $1.5 million to support new dialysis units, including Dartmouth
- $12.3 million increase for new mental health programming, including single brief intervention sessions to provide rapid access to mental health supports, withdrawal management hubs to support Nova Scotians with substance-related harm and addictions, and e-mental health options to increase access
- a total of $1.02 billion for long-term care and home care this year
- $22.6 million increase to implement findings of the Expert Panel on Long Term Care
- $1.2 million to support the hospitality industry by expanding the 10 per cent Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation discount to include bottled and canned beer and ready-to-drink products
- $7.6 million in focused funding for active transportation and public transit initiatives under the new Department of Transportation and Active Transit
- $3.7 million increase to the operating grant for post-secondary institutions to train and educate our workforce of the future
- $26 million for new Green Fund climate change programs — a new climate change strategy for clean growth, a Nova Scotia regional climate representative at the Atlantic Data Hub and funding for climate change research and risk assessment
- $2 million to create six positions at the new Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives to address systemic racism, promote diversity and improve the economic, social, educational and health outcomes of all Nova Scotians
- $320,000 increase for the Accessibility Directorate, for a total of $2.2 million this year, to support the goal of an accessible Nova Scotia by 2030
- $252,000 to expand the Office of Immigration and Population Growth to attract and retain more newcomers, adding to our record high population
- reduce government regulatory burden on business by $10 million in 2021, in addition to the $50 million in savings achieved since 2017
- the budget contains the final forecast for 2020-21, which updates the deficit to $705.5 million, down from $778.8 million projected in December
- additional appropriations related to the 2020-21 forecast, totalling $95.8 million, account for unbudgeted spending by eight departments and offices and assistance to universities
- there was $617.3 million spent on COVID-19 related expenses in 2020-21