February 26, 2020

Nova Scotia Projects Budget Surplus; Notes Infrastructure Investments will Raise Net Debt

Nova Scotia is projecting a surplus of $55 million in the fiscal year ahead, while making commitments to spend an estimated $1.04 billion in revitalizing the province’s infrastructure, as well as tens of millions in new funding on social programs to help low-income families, people with disabilities and students.

The budget, tabled Tuesday by Finance and Treasury Board Minister Karen Casey, is the fifth consecutive balanced plan put forward by the province under Premier Stephen McNeil.

In addition, Nova Scotia is reducing its corporate tax rate by two per cent to 14 per cent and reducing its small business tax to 2.5 per cent. The province will also increase taxes on tobacco products and introduce a tax on vaping products starting September 15, raising an estimated $2.3 million in 2020-21. The budget also made commitments to help increase the low-income threshold for the provincial child benefit.

The province predicts revenue close to $12 million this year, with net debt estimated at $15.2 billion and growing to $15.7 billion the following year. The debt increase primarily reflects new investments in the capital plan, which is the largest single-year capital funding plan in the province’s history. On a positive note, the province’s population is growing; reaching a new high of 976,768 last October and for the fourth year in a row interprovincial migration has been a net positive inflow into Nova Scotia.

Infrastructure-related highlights include:


  • $265.6 million increase in capital investments this year to build and renovate 16 schools and for the purchase of 30 P3 schools.

Health care

  • $154.4 million to support the largest health-care redevelopment projects in the province’s history — the QEII New Generation project and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Health Care Redevelopment.
  • $54.3 million for construction, repair and renewal of hospitals and medical facilities across the province.

Roads, Highways & Bridges

  • $85.3 million more, for a total of $385.3 million, for roads, highways and bridges, with continued work on multi-year projects to twin 100-series highways, including Highway 101 (Three Miles Plains to Falmouth), Highway 103 (Ingramport to Hubbards), Highway 104 (Sutherlands River to Antigonish) and the Sackville-Bedford-Burnside Connector.
  • The Highway 104 Western Alignment Corp., which looks after the Cobequid Pass toll highway, is budgeting net income for the 2020–21 fiscal year of $10.6 million, an increase of $1.2 million from the 2019–20 budget estimates. The increase results mainly from more traffic through the tolls.


  • $18.7 million increase for the second year of initiatives to the Nova Scotia Action Plan for Affordable Housing.
To view the full budget documents, click here.