Nova Scotia

N.S. government has spent $1B on COVID response since start of pandemic

Nova Scotians received almost $600 million in COVID-related support in 2021-22 and all told the province has spent $1 billion responding to the pandemic.

Province has also received about $600M in support from Ottawa

A sticker on a bag of COVID-19 rapid take-home tests encourages people to "test to protect." (Frances Willick/CBC)

Nova Scotians received almost $600 million in COVID-related support in 2021-22 and all told the province has spent $1 billion responding to the pandemic.

Among documents released Tuesday as part of the provincial budget was a breakdown of COVID-19 government response for each of the last three fiscal years.

Along with the money for the fiscal year about to conclude, there was $120 million in 2019-20 and $692 million for 2020-21.

In total, $1.43 billion in operating expenses, including capital grants, has flowed through the province. There was also an additional $225.2 million in tangible capital asset costs.

Not all that money came from the province, however.

Department of Finance and Treasury Board officials say nearly $600 million in response funding since COVID-19 arrived in Nova Scotia is either federal money or an expense that is recoverable from Ottawa.

Lion's share to Health and Wellness Department

The Health and Wellness Department spent the lion's share of response money in 2021-22, coming in at $310.4 million on things such as virtual care, personal protective equipment, COVID-19 testing and infrastructure projects.

The Seniors and Long-term Care Department spent $104.2 million on additional staffing for infection prevention and control efforts, bringing in travel nurses, creating new and extending existing temporary long-term care beds to improve patient flow and other items.

The Economic Development Department spent $40 million on a suite of support programs, while the Education Department spent almost $32 million on things such as safety measures in schools and relief programs for the child-care sector, as well as $50 million on infrastructure.

Although Finance Department officials said on Tuesday they anticipate much less demand for COVID-related support in the upcoming fiscal year, budget documents acknowledge that one of the biggest unknown variables with the provincial finances remains the pandemic.

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