Provincial Finance Minister Labi Kousoulis. (Communications N.S. Photo)

HALIFAX: The Rankin government’s first budget reflects the priorities of Nova Scotians, providing a path to balance in four years, and investments in key sectors such as long-term care, public health, mental health and the environment.

It lays a solid foundation for a strong economy in which business can grow.

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.

Finance and Treasury Board Minister Labi Kousoulis tabled the budget today, March 25.

“Nova Scotians rose to the challenge presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. As we embark upon our recovery, we have an opportunity to strengthen our economy and work toward creating a fair and prosperous future for Nova Scotia,” said Mr. Kousoulis. “Budget 2021-22 is government’s first step in this new direction, balancing much-needed supports for Nova Scotians, investments to help business grow and a commitment to sound financial management.”

The budget invests in an economy where business can grow. Highlights include:
— investments in tourism and hospitality sectors hit hard by the pandemic, including $1.1 million to continue the digital content marketing program for tourism operators and $1.2 million to expand the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation discount for the hospitality industry to include canned and bottled beer, cider and ready-to-drink products
— investments in sectors that support rural economies, including $1.3 million for the first year of a Nova Scotia Quality Wine Strategy and $1.5 million for the first year of an Aquaculture Expansion Strategy
— reducing the regulatory burden on businesses by another $10 million
— capital projects totalling $1.17 billion that will reach every region, creating jobs and improving roads, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure

The budget invests in mental health and health-system improvements. Highlights include: 
— the largest mental-health budget in the province’s history at $336.5 million, including a $12.3 million increase for new programming and $1.5 million to establish the Office of Mental Health and Addictions
— COVID-19 related investments such as $64.2 million for personal protective equipment, $24.2 million to distribute vaccines, a $11.3 million increase to support nurses and cover additional cleaning, and a $5.7 million increase to strengthen the provincial public health system
— investments to train more doctors ($12.2 million) and nurses ($914,000 increase)
— $1.5 million to support new dialysis units and $1.9 million for more hip and knee surgeries

The budget invests more than ever before in long-term care and home care, at $1.02 billion, including:
— $22.6 million more to act on findings of the long-term care expert panel
— $8.6 million to begin a multi-year plan to replace or renovate seven nursing homes and add more than 230 beds across the province by 2025
— COVID-19 related investments, including $12.3 million to extend regional care centres for long-term care patients with COVID-19, and $3.9 million to cover COVID-19 related lost revenues and expenses for the sector

The budget invests in the environment and climate action. Highlights include:
— $26 million for new Green Fund programs to address climate change
— $16.4 million for infrastructure projects to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions while protecting people from higher fuel and electricity costs
— $7.6 million for active transportation and public transit

The budget invests in a connected, affordable, inclusive Nova Scotia and support for people who need it most, including:
— the largest single additional investment in income assistance in the province’s history at $35.2 million, increasing the standard household rate by $100 a month per adult
— $29.1 million to provide more safe, suitable and affordable housing
— $46.7 million more for programs that support adults and children with disabilities
— a $15 million increase to support a more inclusive education system for all students
— $8.8 million more to support youth with complex needs or who require safe placements, and $3.5 million more to continue to expand prevention and early intervention child welfare programming
— a $2.4 million increase to the Land Titles Initiative to address the legacy of systemic racism relating to land ownership
— $2 million to support the new Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives
— a $2.3 million increase for therapy supports for survivors of sexual assault, representing a 460 per cent increase from last year
— a $320,000 increase for the Accessibility Directorate, for a total of $2.2 million this year, to help achieve the goal of an accessible Nova Scotia

Quick Facts:
— 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

Additional Resources:
For more budget highlights visit:

To view the budget documents, visit:

In a release, NSPC Party Leader Tim Houston issued the following statement:

This isn’t a budget that aims to provide solutions. It aims to grab headlines.

With very few exceptions, this budget won’t offer hope to Nova Scotians who have felt left behind—or let down—for the last eight years.

Simply put, this budget is a mile wide and an inch deep, and the more you dig down, the more you will notice everything that’s missing.

We wanted to see the Premier provide hope for our healthcare system, implement universal mental health services, and restore dignity for our seniors in long-term care.

We hoped to see important changes from the status quo, instead we got soundbites.

A five percent increase, without a plan, isn’t going to fix a mental health system in crisis, or eliminate hundreds of days of waiting for help.

A re-announcement of an insufficient number of nursing home beds won’t restore dignity for our parents and grandparents.

A 60,000 person waitlist for a family doctor won’t allow Nova Scotians to get the healthcare they need, or entice people to move to our province.

I believe that if we provide the right care for Nova Scotians, at the right time and the right place, we can retain our best and brightest, encourage growth, and reach our true potential.

But we can’t do that without a government that first acknowledges their repeated mistakes in healthcare, and makes the necessary changes to fix them.