‘In line with our priorities’: N.S. finance minister reacts to federal budget

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Karen Casey responded to the 2018/2019 federal budget on Feb. 27, 2018. Reynold Gregor

Nova Scotia Finance Minister Karen Casey says that although she has only spent a short time reviewing the newly-released federal budget, that her government believes will generally fit well with the province’s goals.

“I’m pleased to see that some of the investments that the federal government are making do align with some of our own priorities in Nova Scotia; a focus on youth, a focus on women, research and development,” Casey said on Tuesday.

“All of those things that are certainly broad but are in line with our priorities.”

READ MORE: Trudeau government reveals the 2018 federal budget

Finance Minister Bill Morneau tabled the federal budget late on Tuesday showcasing an $18.1-billion deficit, including a $3-billion adjustment for risk

One of the features of the budget saw the government promise to create an advisory council to begin “a national dialogue” on the matter and eventually recommend “options on how to move forward together.”

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Casey says there was no doubt that Nova Scotia would want to take part in an advisory organization and seemed to welcome the idea of a national Pharmacare program.

“I think it’s important that we have something consistent across Canada, and then we see where we fit as provinces in that,” she said.

“I don’t know how that process will unfold, but as with any federal initiative, if we can have input into the planning of that, we will do that.”

The budget also puts a large emphasis on gender equality, particularly with efforts to increase the participation of women in the workforce as part of a longer-term plan to grow the economy and prepare for the consequences of an aging population.

WATCH: Bill Morneau hails commitment to gender equality in 2018 budget

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Federal Budget 2018: Bill Morneau hails commitment to gender equality – Feb 27, 2018

One big part of that plan is to introduce up to five weeks of leave – with employment insurance benefits that come with a starting cost of $1.2 billion over five years – for new fathers, as a way to help break the pattern of mothers automatically taking on the greater share of child-rearing responsibilities, and losing earning power as a result.

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The government also wants to give victims of domestic abuse five days of paid leave from jobs in federally-regulated workplaces – but does not say exactly how that plan might work.

Casey said she welcomed the plan but seemed wary to commit herself to anything without more information on how it might be implemented.

“If we can apply that here, that certainly would be positive,” she said.

READ MORE: Some (lesser-known) highlights, from Pharmacare to service dogs

The budget, for the first time in Canadian history, also went through a full gender-based analysis, which involved thinking about how every single measure would impact men, women, boys and girls in different ways, while taking other intersecting factors such as age, ethnicity, income and disability into account.

— With files from Amanda Connolly, Monique Scotti and The Canadian Press

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