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Economy

Nova Scotia to spend $691 million on capital projects in fiscal 2019-20

WATCH: Nova Scotia's Liberal government announced its largest capital plan since coming to power in 2013. As Jeremy Keefe reports, it shows a big increase from the previous year as more highway investments and the redevelopment of health-care make up the lion's share.

Nova Scotia’s Liberal government announced its largest capital plan since coming to power in 2013, committing $691.3 million for hospitals, schools and highways in 2019-20.

The figure announced Thursday is an $86-million increase over last year’s capital budget.

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Aside from road construction, which will take up $300-million, the largest expenditure will go toward health-care projects including $156.9-million for redevelopment of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and design work for new health-care facilities in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality.

Finance Minister Karen Casey said the government’s fiscal prudence has allowed it to spend in priority areas.

“We are able to manage our debt, we are able to manage our expenses,” Casey told reporters.

“Recognizing that we are in a position where we have been able to maintain that balance, this gives us … an opportunity to do things like this and make these investments.”

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No new schools are planned, although $63.1 million will go toward the ongoing construction of 11 new school projects. The figure is down from the $102-million spent in last year’s plan.

However, government officials said spending for schools is part of a five-year plan announced last year and more projects are expected in future years. Casey said that would allow spending to approach levels reached in previous years.

The plan also includes a contingency fund of $48 million and includes money for projects that have not yet been announced.

“The contingency plan is always unallocated, but it is there in case there is a project that needs additional dollars,” Casey said.

The government has said it will table its fourth consecutive balanced budget March 26.

Casey said additional spending to come on the major hospital projects won’t prevent future balanced budgets.

“We would not be putting this forward if Nova Scotians could not afford it,” said Casey.

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