OTTAWA, ONT.: Nova Scotia will reap the rewards of the federal budget, announced March 22 by Liberal Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Parliament Hill, the MP for Sackville-Preston-Chezzetcook said.
In an interview with The Laker on the morning of March 23, Darrell Samson said the budget earmarks $56.3 million more in equalization payments, something many pundits had talked about decreasing in the lead up to the budget announcement.
“There were all kinds of rumours that there were going to be cuts,” said Samson. “Well there are no cuts. That’s a big investment into the province from our government.”
He added that there will be $8.4 million increase in the Canada Social transfer; and $22.8 million in the Canada Health transfer.
Samson said the government’s contribution of $11 billion for a national housing strategy is “very creative.”
“My understanding is that this is a first national housing strategy put in place to meet the full scope of needs that is out there,” he said by phone on March 23. “That is major.”
He said the housing strategy and investment into childcare and early childhood learning are two investments that have been talked about for upwards of 20 years, with no one acting upon them.
“These are two big investments are much needed, and on top of that will create employment and job creation,” he said. “It’s a two-fold approach and a lot of commitments in those areas.”
Samson said the budget continued investments in the riding, including the $4 million to Fall River water and $10 million for the Wellington Connector project.
“Those are very positive things,” said Samson, acknowledging the date for the Connector sits with the province to determine.
He said the budget is good for Veterans and those in the military. He said the budget shows the party is on the right track.
“We’ve made commitments and they are in many areas,” said Samson. “We committed to the return to long life pension, we committed to that and this year’s details will come out, but we are heading where we promised we would.”
Samson said when he travelled across the region Veterans issues were top of mind with many who spoke to him, especially those in the military.
He said the creation of an Emergency Fund will help those in the military who are discharged better be ready, rather than having to wait as they currently do. He said there is also a Caregiver Recognition Benefit which is for families who wish to support their Veterans and wish to stay at home.
“There has to be a fund available for when they leave so they can make that adjustment,” said Samson. “That was strongly recommended by the Ombudsman and we are acting on it.”
He said another key item is focused on Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the possible creation of a Center of Excellence.
“That will be crucial to help all first responders,” he said. “I think we will benefit tremendously from that.”
Samson addressed the length of time some of the commitments sees—some funding commitments are not until many years down the road.
“There was no way, for example, we could take out $11 billion for the national housing strategy and make it work in a year or two,” he said. “This is a big strategy that will take time, and different parts of it will start now. Even if we had $11 billion dollars to spend in housing, you couldn’t get it done in five years. It takes time.
“What is most important is that the commitment is there and you’re investing now a portion and as we move forward you continue to invest more.”
Overall, Samson says the budget helps give Nova Scotia a boost.
“Nova Scotia, I believe, is in much better shape today than we were yesterday (March 22) before the budget was announced,” said Samson. “These are really good investments.”