HALIFAX – The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Nova Scotia released its 2012 alternative provincial budget today. In contrast to the Nova Scotia government’s 'back-to-balance' plan of across-the-board cuts, the Nova Scotia Alternative Budget 2012: Forward to Fairness makes strategic investments; and finds creative ways to save money and increase revenue.
“Our alternative budget puts the people of Nova Scotia at the centre,” says Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS Director. “Budgets, like all public policies, are about choices, and we’ve chosen a path towards a more fair and equitable province where people have better access to education, jobs, and are able to share the province's collective resources.” A minimum “tax cut” to a few individuals does not have the same “bang for the buck” as the provision of public services to all of the residents of Nova Scotia.
The Nova Scotia Alternative Budget’s plan to move Nova Scotia “Forward to Fairness” include:
- Strengthening primary healthcare by investing in ten 10 community health centres, 10 new nurse practitioners, and 12 more midwives;
- Investing $45 million to begin to phase-in an Early Learning and Child Care System that is affordable and accessible;
- Investing $14.5 million in special needs education and $6 million for African Nova Scotian and Aboriginal students;
- Increasing the personal allowance for income assistance, creating new affordable housing stock, and supporting additional housing supports;
- Reducing tuition fees for the Nova Scotia Community College by 50 percent;
- Investing $30 million in water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure access to clean drinking water;
- $20 million in start up funds to create a provincial transit system for rural Nova Scotia.
The provincial NDP government has taken an austerity approach to balance the budget in 2013-14 by cutting $772 million in public spending (over four years). Government spending impacts GDP growth and employment. The estimated impact of the government’s $772 million in cuts is the loss of well over 10,000 jobs. These job cuts will be compounded by federal public service cuts, estimated to result in 5,400 jobs cut in Atlantic Canada.
The alternative budget suggests the elimination of the annual deficit in 2015-2016, instead of 2013-14. It does not try to balance the budget to fit the timing of the electoral cycle. According to NSAB contributor and Economist, James Sawler, "This budget reflects the actual fiscal situation in Nova Scotia. Over the past 10 years, the province’s debt-to-GDP ratio and debt charges as a percentage of total government expenditures have decreased substantially."
“Austerity does not come for free,” continued Saulnier. “The alternative budget’s approach of investing in the people of our province is a balanced approach suited for long-term forward progress, instead of a short-sighted obsession with balancing the budget.”
For more information, contact Christine Saulnier, CCPA-NS Director, (902) 477-1252 or 240-0926 (cell). The NSAB 2012 can be downloaded free at www.policyalternatives.ca. The CCPA is an independent, non-partisan research institute concerned with issues of social and economic justice.