Budget 2018 lacks jobs plan and new mental health supports: MacFarlane

March 20, 2018 at 12:39 pm

PC Leader concerned cannabis budget focused on sales and not enforcement or health impacts

Progressive Conservative leader Karla MacFarlane says today’s Liberal budget lacks a plan for jobs or serious new investment in mental health supports.

According to today’s budget, since 2013 when the Liberal government was elected, Nova Scotia lost 3,300 jobs and 6,700 people left the labour force (page 71). While MacFarlane is pleased to see $1.0 million earmarked for youth health centres, she says Nova Scotia needs more action to address the gaping holes in our mental health system.

“We were hoping to see a plan from Premier McNeil for jobs and serious new investments in mental health care,” says MacFarlane. “We didn’t get that today.”

MacFarlane says there are major risks to the budget surplus, pointing to the not yet signed deal with the National Securities Regulator, and delays in cannabis legislation. She also is very concerned that no money was budgeted for expenses related to cannabis education and prevention of health impacts to our youth.

“This budget surplus is hanging by a string. It’s relying on new cannabis taxes and a one-time windfall for joining the national securities regulator to be balanced,” says MacFarlane. “We are concerned that without a plan to grow the economy, this budget could easily fall into deficit while debt balloons.”

Budget Risks:

  • $10.4 million for new cannabis tax plus $10.4 million for HST related to cannabis sales (Budget page 27)
  • One-time windfall of $77.1 million for joining National Securities Regulator (Budget page 29)
  • Personal income tax is up $74.7 million, despite a negative prior year adjustment of $145 for Personal Income Tax last year (Budget page 26)
  • $3.6 million more from problem gamblers (Budget page 21)
  • Over $100 million in new debt, which has gone over $300 million since this Liberal government was elected (Budget page 11)
  • Number of government employees continues to rise, going up by 460.6 in the last year (2017/18 Forecast to 2018/19 Estimates – Estimates and Supplementary Detail Page 1.14)

MacFarlane says budgets are not just about numbers, but about people.

“These numbers have a real impact on people’s lives and their ability to live and work here in Nova Scotia,” says MacFarlane. “We will continue to pressure the government for a plan for jobs and more mental health supports.”