Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston. (Photo: The Canadian Press)
Halifax – Nova Scotia is running a $341.6 million loss for the past year due to costs related to COVID-19.
Nova Scotia’s loss for fiscal year 2020-21 is $341.6 million. According to the provincial finance minister, the amount will not affect the new Conservative government’s election promise to devote significant sums to health care.
Alan McMaster closed the fiscal year on Thursday, telling reporters that the $396.6 million drop from the $55 million budget surplus introduced by the previous Liberal government in February 2020 just before the arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic was largely due to Was.
Mr McMaster said that while the pandemic has caused additional spending, Nova Scotians’ response to adhering to COVID-19 health protocols and the low rate of transmission of the virus have helped mitigate the economic impact.
“We could have prolonged shutdowns, which could have a big impact on our economy,” he said. “Nova Scotians have taken care of themselves and as a result the economy has rebooted faster than some other jurisdictions.”
According to McMaster, the province responded with nearly $940 million in pandemic operation and mobilization spending in the fiscal year ended March 31, all aided by financial aid. The federal government provided $462.2 million in aid.
The province’s total spending rose nearly $219 million to $12.63 billion due to support for health care services and various sectors of the economy during the pandemic. On the other hand, lower tax revenue and federal transfer payments decreased total revenue by $178 million.
Progressive conservatives elected to a majority government on August 17 campaigned for an almost complete fix of the province’s ailing health care system.
The party has promised to spend $430 million in the area in his first year in office, including a retirement plan for doctors, extended operating room hours on weekdays, and 2,500 additional long-term care beds.
Mr McMaster said the plan would not change given what he had seen so far.
“We said we would spend deficit where necessary to fix health care, and we intend to do that,” he said.
The minister said that despite net debt rising from $15.2 billion to $16.4 billion since the end of March 2020, the government will spend more to meet the needs arising out of the ongoing pandemic.
Mr McMaster said the increase in debt will not affect the government’s ability to function as long as it sticks to the fiscal plan set out in its program. He is expected to provide an update for the current fiscal by the end of the month.
Former Liberal finance minister Labi Kousoulis presented the 2021-2022 budget in late March. He estimated a $585 million shortfall due to pandemic costs, including an estimated $350 million for items such as personal protective equipment and vaccination clinics in the province.
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