Op-Ed by Health Minister Randy Delory
The Chronicle Herald – June 4
Re: the May 21 opinion piece from Elmsdale family doctor George Burden, asking why government is investing in a provincial art gallery.
First, I want all Nova Scotians to know that I appreciate our health professionals who are willing to share their experiences and ideas in hopes of improving our health-care system. Healthy dialogue is important and can go a long way toward addressing challenges together.
It is important to note that there is a very distinct difference between capital and operational spending. The funding announced in April for a new art gallery is a single one-time provincial/federal capital investment. At the same time, we are spending more than $2 billion on health-care infrastructure with the redevelopment of the QEII Health Sciences Centre in Halifax and the redevelopment of health-care and long-term-care facilities in Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Other capital investments are being made in community health centres across the province as well.
Having an opportunity to serve your community is available to all Nova Scotia residents and I invite you to apply. There are over 100 Agencies, Boards and Commissions (ABCs) that require members to serve and provide government with advice. These ABCs include Health, Policing, Agriculture, Education, Culture, Environment, Transportation and more.
Some of these ABCs are advisory committees, councils, corporate boards and adjudicative bodies. Detailed information about ABCs including what they do, how often they meet, selection criteria and other information is available online at https://novascotia.ca/apps/abc/DeptABCList.aspx.
Serving on one of these ABCs provides an opportunity for residents to bring their personal and professional strengths together with others to help make a real impact on our communities.
One important part of the Nova Scotia Provincial Budget is the Capital Plan. This Plan supports infrastructure projects in communities across the province. The Capital Plan for 2019-20 is $691.3 million. The infrastructure projects include roads, schools, health care facilities and other Capital grants.
Each year the Department of Transportation & Infrastructure Renewal (TIR) prepares and publishes a 5 Year Capital Plan. This portion of the Plan is announced in November/December of each year and outlines the major Capital projects that will be completed over that 5 year period. Included in those projects are major construction for 100 series highways, improvements and asphalt projects for 100 series highways, routes and trunks and bridge replacements. This Capital Plan is announced early so that construction companies and the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association can prepare their business plans and their responses to tenders called by TIR. The Capital Plan for TIR for 2019/20 is $300 million.
The second major part of our Capital Plan is related to school construction. For the first time this year the Department of Education has also prepared and presented a 5 Year Capital Plan. This also allows for the next 5 years. That plan includes new school construction, school additions and alterations. The Capital for Education for 2019/20 is $63.1 million.
Communities in northern Nova Scotia will benefit from investments in health care, education, the economy and communities as part of Budget 2019-20.
Budget 2019-20, the government’s fourth consecutive balanced budget, estimates a surplus of $33.6 million with revenue of $11.01 billion and expenses, after consolidation adjustments, of $10.98 billion. It also projects balanced budgets in each of the following three years.
“This budget builds on our strong fiscal foundation,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. “Managing our finances well and balancing budgets has given us the ability to invest in new and existing programs and services for Nova Scotians, in areas most important to them.”
As Finance Minister, the focus is to finalize the Nova Scotia provincial budget for 2019-20. The budget will be presented during the Spring Session of the Legislative Assembly. This budget will continue to deliver on the plan to strengthen the fiscal health of the province.
The budget building process began several months ago, and includes starting with a set of basic economic assumptions which, once approved, form the foundation upon which to build the budget. As with all construction projects, that foundation must be solid and the assumptions must reflect the economic conditions of the province, the country and the major trading partners around the world. Those assumptions are prepared by the Department of Finance, but must be reviewed by many outside the department before they are accepted. That includes an external panel of experts made up of economists from the 5 major banks in Canada, universities within Nova Scotia, the Office of the Auditor General and business leaders of major corporations. This high level of scrutiny and independent assessment provides me, as Minister, with a level of confidence that our budget is a solid plan for Nova Scotians. On December 4, we presented before the expert panel, and they determined that our assumptions were “wise and prudent”…so the building process began.
With Christmas 2018 now in our past, we can take time to reflect on time spent with family and friends during the holiday season.
I recently had the honour and privilege to represent the Province of Nova Scotia at the Annual Christmas Tree Lighting in Boston. Over 30,000 men, women and children attended the event at Boston Commons. I was so proud to represent you and our Province as Deputy Premier. One of the best ways to share that great experience with my constituents is through the pictures that tell a thousand words.
The Christmas tree which was cut on private lands in Oxford was magnificent, with its many lights and grandeur in Boston Commons. I had the opportunity to attend the tree cutting at the private owners’ woodlot where we were joined by students from Oxford Regional Education Centre. It was a bitter cold day, but warm toques provided by the Province of Nova Scotia and lots of hot chocolate and cookies helped keep the spirits bright. Students sang Christmas carols and watched safely as the 46 foot white spruce was cut and loaded onto a tractor trailer where it began its journey to Boston.