Nova Scotia's finance minister presented a balanced budget on Thursday with a slim surplus of $16.4 million, largely dependent on extra revenue from both provincial and federal sources.
There were modest cuts to several departments — including traditionally large expenditures such as Education and Early Childhood Development and Community Services — but for the most part, this budget maintained previous funding levels.
Here's a look at how the budget might affect you:
- Funding for insulin pumps and supplies for children aged 18 and younger.
- Expanded dental coverage for children aged 13 and younger, who will now be able to receive universal dental coverage for checkups and treatments. Coverage for children in Nova Scotia previously ended when children turned 10.
- Screening for newborns expanded to include cystic fibrosis, sickle cell anemia and eight additional conditions.
- Funding for an eating disorder program jointly provided by the IWK Health Centre and the Capital District Health Authority.
- Funding for a new generator at the IWK Health Centre.
- An additional $2 million in home-care program funding to help seniors stay at home and get help with transportation, meal preparation, errands and yard work.
- More seniors to be exempt from paying provincial income tax, with tax credit available to seniors with a taxable income of less than $24,000.
- Maximum property tax rebate available to seniors to increase from $600 to $800 — a figure that would cover about 50 per cent of property tax bills.
- Wheelchairs provided to eligible low-income seniors aged 65 and older.
- Rate of corporate income tax for small businesses reduced to three per cent as of Jan. 1, 2014.
- Threshold for taxable income that is eligible for the small business rate will drop from $400,000 to $350,000 effective Jan. 1, 2014.
- 170 new teachers to be hired.
- Class sizes for Grades Primary to 3 will continue to be capped at 25 students.
- Funding per student to be increased by three per cent, to $10,762 per student.
- 25 new program support staff, psychologists and speech language pathologitsts to be hired.
- Math curriculum to be adjusted to cover fewer topics in more depth in Grades Primary to 3. Math will be a full-year course in Grade 10.
- The number of schools offering skilled trades will be doubled and a new manufacturing course will be introduced in Grade 11 to groom students for upcoming shipbuilding jobs.