Health-care spending, income tax indexing highlight Nova Scotia budget

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Nova Scotia tables $16.5B budget
Nova Scotia's provincial government has tabled a 16.5 billion dollar budget that focuses heavily on healthcare. The governing Progressive Conservatives say it's also delivering support to people struggling to keep up with the cost of living. Skye Bryden-Blom reports – Feb 29, 2024

Nova Scotia has tabled a $16.5-billion budget that spends heavily on health care and contains a tax break touted as one of the largest in the province’s history.

With projected revenues of $15.8-billion, Finance Minister Allan MacMaster is forecasting a deficit of $467.4-million after an accounting adjustment.

The government’s big-ticket cost-of-living measure will see it index personal income tax brackets, the basic personal amount and non-refundable tax credits to inflation beginning Jan. 1, at a projected cost of $160-million a year by 2028.

When tax brackets are raised to reflect inflation, that can result in a taxpayer remaining in a lower bracket and paying less than they otherwise would have.

The province is spending $7.3 billion across its health system and notes that health spending has increased by 36 per cent in the past three years.

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Other support measures include $84.6 million to address homelessness, $7.8 million for child poverty and $2.4 million to create 500 new rent supplements.

Here are this year’s budget highlights:

  • The province is bringing in a $16.5-billion budget, with a projected deficit of $467.4 million.
  • Health-care spending is expected to reach $7.3 billion, a 36 per cent increase over the past three years.
  • As of Jan. 1, 2025, the province will index personal income tax brackets, the basic personal exemption and some tax credits to the province’s inflation rate.
  • The Progressive Conservative government claims the tax changes will result in the largest tax break in the province’s history, estimating it will cost the treasury about $160 million annually by 2028.
  • Almost $19 million is budgeted for a new lunch program for students in public schools.
  • As the province faces a housing and homelessness crisis, the government is providing an additional $84.6 million for supportive housing and other related programs.
  • About $102 million is budgeted for changes to the disability support program, resulting from a human rights case that found systemic discrimination in how housing and care is being provided.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 29, 2024.

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