Welcome To
Acadia Broadcasting NewsThe Latest and Greatest ContentYour Trusted Local Source


Allan MacMaster

N.S. budget: Largest tax break ever, new school lunch program

By Steve MacArthur Feb 29, 2024 | 1:20 PM

The largest tax break in the history of our province, a lunch program in public schools and more resources for healthcare.

Those are some of the key pillars in the latest budget being revealed by the Progressive Conservatives. The financial roadmap has a clear focus on helping with the cost of living and a continued focus on health care.

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster delivered the details at Province House in Halifax on Thursday.

“While Nova Scotians greatly value healthcare, they are also looking for help with the cost of living. They are going to get it in the form of indexed tax brackets and other supports in this budget,” said MacMaster. “We are listening to Nova Scotians and making important investments in ways that will make a difference.”

Beginning next year, the province will index personal income tax brackets, the basic personal amount and certain non-refundable tax credits to Nova Scotia’s inflation rate.

It will be the largest tax break in the province’s history and will save Nova Scotians about $160 million in taxes annually by 2028.

There is $18.8 million to launch a new lunch program for students in public schools. The program will roll out over four years.

The budget also includes a total of $7.3 billion across the healthcare system, providing the resources to continue making the kind of changes that will have a lasting positive impact system-wide.

It includes new support for Nova Scotians with diabetes, more support for cancer care and investments to modernize the healthcare system so it can meet the demands of a growing population.

With revenues of $15.8 billion and expenses of $16.5 billion, the new budget estimates a deficit of $467.4 million after consolidation and adjustments.

Opposition reaction

While the government is calling it the largest tax break in Nova Scotia’s history opposition leaders feel it doesn’t go far enough.

Liberal Leader Zach Churchill noted that the government received nearly  $1 billion in unforeseen revenue this past year and they could have easily cut HST in addition to indexing tax brackets.

“If we’re going to help working-class, middle-class people we have to ensure they aren’t paying the highest sales tax in the country,” Churchill said. “If you indexed the tax rate and cut the HST which are the two largest taxes, then we might see some actual movement on affordability,”.

NDP Leader Claudia Chender also felt the budget missed the mark when it comes to helping the province’s most vulnerable criticizing the lack of changes to income assistance. “This budget shows they are ignoring how government has created poverty through policy choices and they insist on making the same ones again,” Chender said.

Chender was complimentary of the addition of a school lunch program, however, she noted that PEI was able to implement their school lunch plan over a few months, while the Nova Scotia government is planning on a phased approach over multiple years before full implementation.

Major highlights: 

– beginning January 1, 2025, personal income tax brackets, the basic personal amount and certain non-refundable tax credits will be indexed to Nova Scotia’s inflation rate
– $7.8 million for additional actions to reduce child poverty
– $2.4 million to create 500 new rent supplements; total investment is $69.2 million, which helps 8,500 households
– $5 million more for the Home Repair and Adaptation Program to help more low-income homeowners; total funding is now $23.8 million
– $18.8 million this year to launch a new lunch program for students in the public school system
– $28 million more for public schools to address growing enrolment, hire more teachers and
address inflationary pressures
– $42.5 million more this year in child-care funding to lower fees for families, create more spaces an enhance after school care, fully recoverable from the Canada-Nova Scotia Canada-Wide Early Learning and Child Care Agreement
– $5.1 million more to increase rates and provide additional supports to foster children and their families, bringing the total annual funding to $16.7 million following the redesign initiative
– $84.6 million for initiatives under the supportive housing plan and other programs to address homelessness
– $102.3 million to make significant changes in the Disability Support Program and help people
with disabilities to better meet their the needs; the action results from a remedy in a human rights case and includes $53.3 million to deliver the new Income Assistance Disability Supplement – an additional $300 per month to about 15,000 people on income assistance who are not in the

Disability Support Program

– $850,000 to raise the earned income exemption for income assistance clients
– $7.1 million more in permanent funding for transition houses and women’s centres in response to Mass Casualty Commission recommendations; total annual funding is now $16.9 million


– $360.7 million more for Nova Scotia Health and IWK Health to deliver their programs and services to a growing population
– $184.3 million more to continue progress on the Action for Health plan, including helping patients move through the healthcare system more quickly and improving access to surgeries by continuing to shorten the surgical and diagnostic wait lists
– $36.2 million more for initiatives that move the province toward universal mental health and
addictions care for all Nova Scotians; this includes establishing an insured services program to support the delivery of publicly funded mental health and addictions care – a Canadian first
– $41.5 million to improve cancer care treatment including new digital imaging technology and equipment that results in improved outcomes and increased survival
– $48 million more for workforce strategies under the Action for Health plan
– $7.2 million to support Nova Scotians with diabetes, including coverage of glucose monitors and expanding the insulin pump program
– $9.6 million toward the plan to build 5,700 new and replacement long-term care spaces by 2032
– $35.5 million to fund about 350 temporary and permanent long-term care spaces for people waiting to move from acute care to long-term care
– $75.6 million to continue building One Person One Record to enable a digitally supported patient-centered health system
– $579 million to advance new healthcare redevelopment projects and other projects to improve the healthcare system

Jobs and Economy

– $46.4 million this year to make progress on the province’s $100-million plan to grow the skilled trades workforce over the next three years
– $27.2 million for the More Opportunity for Skilled Trades (MOST) tax refund program for workers under the age of 30 in high-demand occupations, including skilled trades and film and video occupations; starting in the 2023 tax year, and the program is expanding to include eligible nurses
– $80 million to $100 million estimated annually to rebate the 10 per cent provincial HST on the new construction of purpose-built, multi-unit apartments
– $35.5 million to build new public housing units and for more repairs and maintenance to new public housing
– $15 million this year, as part of a $47.3-million three-year commitment, to launch a new Cellular for Nova Scotia Program to expand access to cellular service across the province
– $36.7 million this year for various actions to advance Nova Scotia’s climate change plan for clean growth
– $1.5 million to advance the Green Hydrogen Action Plan through public engagement and
increase awareness about renewable energy opportunities