Finance and Treasury Board Minister Diana Whalen tabled the 2014-15 provincial budget April 3, clearing the way for private sector growth and reinvestment in education and health care.
The 2014-2015 budget projects a deficit of $279 million.
Revenues for 2014-15, including net income from government business enterprises, are an estimated $9.6 billion, $85 million more than the 2013-14 estimates; and $343.9 million more than the current forecast for 2013-14. Revenues continue to have slow growth, particularly in personal and corporate income tax.
"In the face of economic and fiscal challenges, this budget allows government to follow through on the commitments it made to the people of Nova Scotia and prepare the foundation for the work ahead," said Ms. Whalen. "The private sector grows the economy, but government has a role to play in building an environment that allows business to invest, produce, compete and grow.
"We must develop our workforce and ensure Nova Scotia has the capacity to take advantage of our opportunities. We are charting a new direction that puts the province's long-term interests first."
The 2014-2015 budget will:
• prioritize private-sector economic growth by creating a more attractive environment for new investments and opportunities, helping existing businesses thrive, and getting tradespeople and the workforce the education and experience they need
• refocus support for post-secondary students to encourage graduates to live, work, and start a family here by reducing financial barriers, helping them find opportunities that allow them to stay, and defraying the costs employers have when hiring new grads
• reinvest in a new direction for education and prepare children for success by conducting a curriculum review, placing limits on classroom sizes, hiring more staff to support students with special needs, and reducing wait times for early intervention programs
• focus firmly on patients and families by reducing the number of district health authorities to two, and redirecting funding to front-line care, investing more to attract and keep physicians, shortening wait times, and helping Nova Scotians of all ages stay healthy
• support seniors, women, children and families by allowing more seniors to say in their homes, funding housing organizations, ensuring survivors of sexual assault receive the support they need, upgrading public transportation and creating a cleaner future for the province
Total expenses for 2014-2015 are budgeted at $9.9 billion, an increase of $411.5 million over 2013-2014 estimates and $110.8 million more than the 2013-14 forecast. Departmental expenses are budgeted at $8.9 billion, an increase of $456.5 million over 2013-14 estimates and $388.2 million over the 2013-14 forecast.
"Government values every taxpayer dollar. Moving forward, we must take a closer look at why government does things, and how we can do them more effectively," said Whalen. "We will not, however, waiver in our responsibility to provide Nova Scotians with the services they expect and deserve from their government, and on which our long-term success is dependent.
"With this commitment, and several positive economic opportunities on our horizon, we will bring sustainability back to the province's finances."
The province also provided a forecast update for the 2013-14 fiscal year. This update showed a deficit of $562.1 million, an increase of $578.5 million over 2013-14 estimates and $80.4 million over the December update. Nova Scotia's net debt is estimated to be $14.6 billion as of March 31, 2014.
For more information about the 2014-15 provincial budget, click here.