Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island Table 2024 Budgets

February 29, 2024


The Governments of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island tabled their 2024-2025 budgets today, both of which made the choice to increase investments in healthcare and tackle cost of living challenges through new measures, including changes to address bracket creep.

Nova Scotia

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster tabled the Houston government’s third budget, titled “Building Nova Scotia, Faster.”  As unveiled during their recent Annual General Meeting, the Progressive Conservatives are focused on demonstrating the many ways they are “building up” up the province.

As widely anticipated given recent government announcements, the government’s key priorities are:

  • Supporting Nova Scotians and Building Communities
  • Action for Healthcare
  • Building a Skilled Workforce for More Housing and a Healthy Economy

This includes addressing the rising cost of living, building a world-class healthcare system, investing in resilient communities, and preparing Nova Scotians for in-demand jobs, while positioning the province for successful, sustainable growth.

Government messaging highlights the budget as making the “largest tax cut in Nova Scotia’s history, creating a new universal school lunch program to ensure students are set-up for success, supporting Nova Scotians living with diabetes, and investing to expand access to cellular service across Nova Scotia.”

Read the full budget package here.

Fiscal Overview

Thanks to a rebounding economy and accelerated population growth, the government notes it is well-positioned to make priority investments. With revenues of $15.8 billion and expenses of $16.5 billion, Budget 2024–25 is estimating a deficit of $467.4 million, an increase from the $264.3 million presented in the budget update in December, reflecting investments in healthcare.  Almost half of the total budget is being invested in healthcare, which total $7.3 billion, a 36% increase since the Houston government formed office.  The province is forecasting a surplus of $40.3 million for the year ending March 31, 2024.


Supporting Nova Scotians and Building Communities

Budget 2024-25 includes a multitude of measures to help Nova Scotians struggling with the cost of living. The most significant of these measures is a commitment to index income tax brackets, the basic personal amount, and other select non-refundable tax credits to inflation. The province estimates that by 2028 this change will save Nova Scotians approximately $150-$160 million per year in taxes and is billing the change as the largest tax break in Nova Scotia’s history.

Other investments to address cost of living include $7.8 million to reduce child poverty, including increasing the Nova Scotia Child Benefit, $2.4 million to create 500 new rent supplements, a $5 million increase to the Home Repair and Adaptation Program, and $60.9 million for 200,000 families through the Affordable Living Tax Credit.

The budget supports the most vulnerable Nova Scotians by investing $84.6 million into initiatives under the Supportive Housing Action approach and $102.3 million into updating the Disability Support Program. Other investments create permanent funding for Transition Houses and Women’s Centres, and supporting people living with disabilities, and increasing the earned income exemption for Income Assistance clients. The budget creates a school lunch program for public school students and allocates funding to hire more teachers. The Capital Plan also allocates more than $200 million to build and renovate schools across the province.

In an effort to increase Nova Scotia’s housing supply, Budget 2024-25 allocates an estimated $80-$100 million annually to rebate the provincial HST on new construction or purpose-built, multi-unit apartments. It invests $14.8 million for projects to leverage funding from the National Housing Strategy 2022-25 Action Plan, and, as part of the Capital Plan, $35.3 million to build new public housing units and repair and maintain existing public housing. Funds are also being allocated to develop student housing, affordable housing, and modular public housing.

Action for Healthcare

Major investments continue to be made in Action for Health to build the workforce, programs, infrastructure and systems needed to deliver world-class care. Of note, the budget includes more than $55 million to recruit, retain and train more healthcare professionals; $36.2 million to move the province toward universal addiction and mental health services; $41.5 million to improve cancer care treatment; $9.6 million for a plan to build 5,700 new and replacement long-term care spaces by 2032; and $7.2 million to support Nova Scotians with diabetes. The budget also includes $579 million in capital spending to advance new healthcare redevelopment projects and fund other healthcare infrastructure developments.

Building a Skilled Workforce for More Housing and a Healthy Economy

To support accelerated population growth, Budget 2024-25 makes a number of investments in skills and training, including $46.4 million to advance the province’s $100 million plan to grow the skilled trades workforce over the next three years. It also allocates $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. Other investments into workforce development support women in the skilled trades, post-secondary students, and newcomers to the province.

Budget 2024-25 also makes investments in the development of a cleaner economy as the province works towards climate change goals. It invests $36.7 million into actions to advance Nova Scotia’s Climate Change Plan for Clean Growth, as well as investing $14.1 million for the Capital Investment Tax Credit, a refundable corporate tax credit that can be claimed for capital equipment and property for use in Nova Scotia. The budget also invests another $5.5 million, for a total of $23.4 million, for the Payroll Rebate Program, in an effort to attract innovative companies to the province.

Prince Edward Island

Opposition Reaction

In response, Opposition parties acknowledged that the indexing of tax brackets and the school lunch program are positive steps but that government could have gone much further to help Nova Scotians including cutting the HST to 13% and indexing income assistance rates to the rate of inflation.

Finance Minister Jill Burridge tabled her second budget today on behalf of the King government.

Building on the government’s priorities to date, Budget 2024-25 invests in:

  • Improving Healthcare
  • Building Together
  • Safer Communities and Strengthening Industries
  • Helping with Everyday Costs

Healthcare, housing and affordability measures continue to be the government’s central focus.

Read the full budget package here.

Fiscal Overview

Budget 2024-25 includes $140 million in new spending, $90 million of which is for healthcare, bringing total expenditures to $3.23 billion, a 4.5% increase over last year.  While revenues have also increased to $3.15 billion, the province is projecting a deficit of $85 million, down from the $97.6 million estimated last spring.  Deficits for the coming two years, however, are expected to be almost $60 million higher than previously projected.


Improving Healthcare

With more than a billion dollars being spent on healthcare, it remains the government’s top priority. Budget 2024-25 provides additional investments in a number of programs and initiatives including $10.5 million for patient medical homes, $9.9 million for UPEI’s medical school, $7.1 million for doctors and residency seats, $6.2 million to improve recruitment of healthcare professionals, $4.9 million for new supports for seniors, and $4.5 million to move toward on wage parity for long-term care workers in the private and public sectors.  The budget also includes funding for new programs like the Children’s Vision Care Program which will ensure all elementary school aged children without private coverage are eligible for annual eye examinations and two pairs of glasses. In advance of the rollout of the national pharmacare program, the province is also expanding the eligibility for the diabetes insulin pump program and support for diabetes foot clinics.

Building Together

Last week the province launched a five-year housing strategy, built on the Housing First model. Budget 2024-25 makes investments across the housing spectrum including $6.9 million to continue providing emergency shelter supports, outreach services, and residential support services in transitional and supportive housing, $1.6 million to operate newly constructed or acquired housing units, $10 million for a new Community Housing Expansion Program to support near-market affordable housing, over $6.7 million in tax rebates for newly constructed multi-unit residential buildings, and $300,000 to reduce wait times for building permits.

Safer Communities and Strengthening Industries 

Key industry investments include $2 million for the bioscience sector, $1 million to expand the province’s electric vehicle charging network, $500,000 to develop shoreline management plans, $500,000 for the tourism sector, and $1 million for the PEI Agriculture Energy Systems Pilot program, to create a land purchase support program for farmers. The budget also invests $2.4 million to implement the Gender-based Violence Action Plan. Funding is also allocated to improve impaired driving enforcement, support municipal police services, and increase grant funding available for diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Helping with Everyday Costs

To help Islanders struggling with the costs of living, PEI’s 2024-25 budget includes almost $15 million in tax cuts, including increasing the basic personal amount to $14,250, raising the thresholds of each tax bracket, and lowering the tax rates for the first four tax brackets. The province is also increasing the supports provided to Social Assistance and AccessAbility Support clients, as well as investing an additional million in school food programs. An investment of $1.1 million will support the creation of a new PEI Children’s Benefit, which will be paid monthly starting in January 2025. The province is also investing a further $7.3 million in free heat pumps, electric hot water heaters and insulation programs, as well as providing increased funding to the Seniors Independence Initiative and the transit system to keep fares low.

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