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Source: CNS

N.S. budget marks $6.5B for health care

By Steve MacArthur Mar 23, 2023 | 1:20 PM

Health care is the centerpiece in our governments new budget.

Nova Scotia is spending $6.5 billion on the system, which is about $1.2 billion more compared to when the PC’s took office.

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster says they were elected to fix the system and that’s what they are doing.

 “The budget is built with all Nova Scotians in mind – it reflects where we are today and where we are headed,” said MacMaster. “It is focused on fixing healthcare and giving people more options for a healthcare system that Nova Scotia families need and provides solutions to build a healthy economy and healthier communities.”

In recent weeks, the government announced up to $20,000 in bonuses for nurses and $59 million funding for a new medical school in Sydney. They’ve also poured $37 million on a health institute at St.FX in Antigonish.

The increased spending is boosted by a new federal health deal which transfer $1 billion in new money to our province.

There’s a deficit of almost $280 million going in to the new fiscal year as revenues came in at $14.2 billion and expenses of $14.4 billion.

Opposition feels budget misses the mark

Opposition leaders in Nova Scotia are calling for more support to be given to those who are struggling the most with the cost of living. NDP Leader Claudia Chender has criticized the government for not doing enough to help people who are on social assistance and facing rising inflation.

“Overall we are very disappointed with what’s in the budget especially considering all the increases to revenue the government saw this year,” Chender said.

She is urging the government to increase income assistance rates and invest more in affordable housing and primary healthcare.

One positive note on the budget from Chender was the inclusion of coverage for high dosage flu vaccines for seniors.

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Zach Churchill has called for the reinstatement of incentives for family doctors in the Halifax Regional Municipality to address the province’s growing number of residents without a family practice.

While the government has focused on targeted initiatives to help the most vulnerable, there are concerns that failure to address the needs of those most in need could put additional strain on the healthcare system. Nova Scotia’s net debt is expected to rise in the coming fiscal year, and while MacMaster says the spending is sustainable, there is a risk that health outcomes could suffer if more is not done to support those most in need.

Highlights of Budget 2023-24 include:

— expanding the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades program to include eligible nurses; those under age 30 will receive a refund of the provincial income tax paid on the first $50,000 of income starting in the 2023 tax year

— $110 million for the second year of retention incentives for nurses who commit to staying in the publicly funded system and sign a two-year return of service agreement

— $1.7 million to add 10 physician assistants in collaborative primary care sites across the province

— $2.8 million to accelerate and enhance clinical placements for nurses, nurse practitioners and other healthcare workers

— $22.2 million for new healthcare workforce strategy initiatives under Action for Health, the government’s plan to improve the healthcare system

— $66.3 million in ongoing funding for increased wages for continuing care assistants

— $11.6 million to continue workforce initiatives within the continuing care sector, such as free tuition for continuing care assistant training

— $46.6 million more to perform more surgeries and continue to address the backlog, including increasing hours for operating rooms

— $34 million for patient movement initiatives to help improve access to care

— $15 million for initiatives to improve emergency care

— $22.6 million for Emergency Health Services initiatives such as adding more emergency transport units and a new fixed-wing service for the LifeFlight program

— $7.3 million more for Emergency Health Services to help with growing volume

— $11.3 million for a range of improvements to cancer care services

— $1.7 million more to expand Dalhousie family medicine clinics, which support new family practice doctors who will offer care to more patients

— $6.7 million more to help with the growing demand for radiology, pathology and internal medicine services

— $3.7 million more for dialysis services at the Halifax Infirmary and expanding dialysis services in the Liverpool and Pictou areas

— $1.9 million for initiatives to help improve equity in the healthcare system

— $5 million more for the Seniors Pharmacare program and new cancer drugs

— $1.7 million more to help meet the increased demand for gender assignment surgeries

— $17.7 million for a range of mental health initiatives, working toward universal access to mental health

— $25.9 million more for home care and direct funding programs to provide flexible supports for seniors, tailored to their individual needs

— $10.7 million more to help long-term care homes move toward the 4.1 hours of care standard

— $4.7 million more to provide high-dose flu vaccine for all seniors aged 65 and older for free

— $25 million more in one-time capital funding for equipment, upgrades and repairs to help extend the life of long-term care homes

— $13.5 million to open 240 spaces this year at Mahone Bay Nursing Home, Villa Acadienne in Meteghan and Kiknu in Eskasoni

— $44 million to fund permanent and temporary long-term care spaces for people waiting to move from acute care to long-term care

— $29.1 million in continued funding for the Seniors Care Grant to provide support to older Nova Scotians in their home and communities

— $275.1 million for the Halifax Infirmary expansion and Cape Breton Regional Municipality healthcare redevelopment projects

— $91 million for construction and renewal of other hospitals and medical facilities, including projects in Bridgewater, Pugwash, Yarmouth, Amherst and at the IWK Health Centre

— $57.7 million in capital costs for electronic health records (One Person One Record)

— $33.2 million for Bayers Lake Community Outpatient Facility construction

Economy & Community 

— $20.9 million to deliver the first year of the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades program, which provides workers in eligible skilled trades and film and video occupations under the age of 30 a refund on the provincial income tax paid on the first $50,000 of income for the 2022 tax year

— $13.2 million to provide funding to small- and medium-sized employers to hire first-year apprentices in Red Seal trades

— $943,000 more as part of a multi-year plan to modernize Nova Scotia’s apprenticeship system

— $3.4 million for the second year of a four-year $13-million commitment with Mitacs to create up to 3,200 more paid internship opportunities for post-secondary students

— $6.2 million more to expand life and job skills programs as part of efforts to reduce child poverty and prepare youth at risk for education and employment success

— $14 million more, for a total of $39 million in 2023-24, for the Film and Television Production Incentive Fund

— $1.5 million to continue developing the new Nova Scotia Loyal program

— $3.7 million more for silviculture and archeological work

— $3 million for energy and resource development initiatives

— $1.8 million to support high-growth business and entrepreneurship development

— $1.1 million for the Nova Scotia Quality Wine Strategy.

Highways and Arts

— $498.5 million for Nova Scotia’s roads, highways and bridges, including $60 million more for secondary highways and $15 million more for gravel roads

— $14 million more for the Rural Impact Mitigation program for the maintenance and repair of rural roads, for a total of $36 million this year

— $2 million more to help community centres buy and install generators

— $5.1 million more in operating grants for arts and culture organizations and community-owned museums

— $2.6 million more for provincial museums and the operation of the iconic Bluenose II

— continuing work on the province’s first African Nova Scotian Justice Action Plan, following extensive community engagement last year and starting work to develop an Indigenous Justice Action Strategy

— $6.2 million more to continue redesigning the foster care system, including recruiting and retaining diverse foster families, expanding foster care placement types and improving peer support and respite for foster families

— $3.9 million more for new programs and supports for young people leaving care, in support of reducing child poverty

— $7.8 million more for prevention and early intervention programs such as parenting education and family support, home-based visitation, youth programs and services and sexual violence prevention

— $23.3 million more for the Disability Support Program, a range of services and programs that support people with intellectual disabilities, long-term mental illness and physical disabilities

— $2.5 million more to continue to expand eligibility and increase funding for families involved in the Direct Family Support for Children program

— $2.6 million more for flex in home support programming

— $4.4 million more to support more people transitioning from adult residential centres and regional rehabilitation centres into community-based setting

— $875,000 more for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women for the Creating Communities of Care initiative and actions under the Standing Together plan to prevent domestic violence

— $21.6 million more to create 1,000 new rent supplements, for a total of 8,000 rent supplements

— $15.3 million more for public housing repairs, for a total of $21 million

— $13.1 million more to address the wait list for home repair and adaptation programs

— $8.2 million more for homelessness and supportive housing initiatives

— $8 million to increase the Nova Scotia Child Benefit for families with incomes below $34,000, in support of reducing child poverty

— $1.3 million to make student loan repayments more manageable for people starting their careers by increasing eligibility and reducing the maximum affordable payment

— $42.1 million increase in child-care funding to lower fees for families, create more spaces and enhance after-school care

— $40 million to pay early childhood educators more, help stabilize and grow the workforce and help licensed centers offer more care

— $47.1 million more for our public schools to address growing enrolment, hire more teachers and address inflationary pressures

— $6 million more to refresh classroom technology, including Chromebooks for students

— $2.7 million for the pre-primary program to increase classroom supports

— updating the Food and Nutrition Policy for Nova Scotia Public Schools and implementing a provincial physical activity framework

— $240.8 million to build and renovate schools across the province, including $24 million more for capital repairs and $40 million for new modular learning spaces

— $3.8 million more in grants to universities to reflect the one per cent increase under the current memorandum of understanding

— $97.2 million for NSCC’s Sydney waterfront campus and three student housing projects

— $41.4 million to move forward on actions under Our Climate, Our Future: Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Plan for Clean Growth

— $2 million in ongoing funding to grow the electric vehicle charging network, offer rebates to install charging infrastructure and increase the adoption of electric vehicles

— $15 million more as the provincial share in green, transit and rural projects under the Investment in Canada Infrastructure Program

— $7.6 million for the fifth year of the nine-year, $50-million flood mitigation measures envelope to upgrade the dykeland system.



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