Nova Scotia

Is McNeil government's 4th fiscal plan a real budget or platform plank?

Stephen McNeil's fourth budget as premier may be his most controversial, not because of what's in it, but because he seems poised to abandon it in favour of an election call.

Premier refuses to pledge government will see budget through to a vote

Premier Stephen McNeil's fourth budget may be his most controversial, not because of what's in it, but because he seems poised to abandon it in favour of an election call. (CBC)

When Finance Minister Randy Delorey delivers the Liberal government's fourth budget Thursday, Nova Scotia's opposition parties may not be paying rapt attention.

That's because neither the Progressive Conservatives nor the NDP members of the legislature believe this fiscal plan will survive long enough to debate.

Premier Stephen McNeil has been repeatedly asked if he will see this budget through to a vote, but has refused to give that assurance, fuelling speculation that this is simply part of his party's pre-electioneering rather than a true fiscal plan.

Process would start over again if election called

If the premier were to call an election before the budget vote, something PC premier Rodney MacDonald did in 2006, the incoming government, even if the current government were re-elected, would need to start the process all over again.

MacDonald re-introduced his budget with a few changes during a rare July sitting of the Nova Scotia legislature.

In a pre-budget address to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce last month, Delorey promised a modest tax cut to small businesses and a greater effort to slash red tape.

What to expect in budget

The Canadian Press cited a government source familiar with the fiscal document as saying it will contain $2.4 million in annual funding for two medical programs that would result in an additional 50 doctors a year for the provincial health system.

The funding would create 10 new seats in the family residency program at Dalhousie University and open 10 new spaces in the ready assessment program, which assists international doctors in establishing practices in Nova Scotia.

Last month, Delorey committed to a balanced budget for 2017-18, on the heels of a forecasted surplus of $12.1 million for 2016-17.

Delorey also revealed the budget would see a rise in the threshold for the small business income tax rate to $500,000 from $350,000.

The move would shift more than 1,000 companies into a lower income tax bracket, paying rates of three per cent rather than 16 per cent on their income.

With files from The Canadian Press