Nova Scotia

Health-care advocates generally pleased with N.S. budget

The latest Nova Scotia budget includes $5.7 billion for health-care services, an increase of $413.4 million from last year.

Latest budget includes $5.7B for health-care services, an increase of $413.4M from last year

Health-care advocates are generally pleased with the Houston government's proposed spending on Nova Scotia's health-care system. (Shutterstock)

Health-care advocates are generally pleased with the Houston government's proposed health-care spending announced in Tuesday's budget.

The 2022-2023 budget includes $5.7 billion for health-care services, an increase of $413.4 million from last year.

Doctors Nova Scotia called it a step toward a better future.

"Competitive compensation and ensuring a supportive work environment support both the recruitment of doctors and retention," said Alana Patterson, director of physician compensation.

Patterson said she is also encouraged by the plan to deal with wait lists and surgical backlogs.

The province has announced:

  • $17.5 million to perform 2,500 more surgeries, expand operating room hours and add 28 beds and staffing at the Dartmouth General Hospital.
  • $2.1 million to address surgery backlogs caused by COVID-19 at the IWK Health Centre and $597,000 to expand operating room capacity in Cape Breton.

The Nova Scotia Nurses' Union is also pleased with what it calls a "significant investment," particularly in long-term care. The province will spend $3.2 million to create 200 new nursing seats at Cape Breton University, Dalhousie University, St. Francis Xavier University and the Nova Scotia Community College.

"We have a lot of vacancies, so we have jobs for these individuals when they graduate," said union president Janet Hazelton.

The dean of Dalhousie's faculty of health also supported the move.

More needed for mental health causes

"We're pleased this increase in enrolment comes with additional resources to support our nursing faculty and staff," wrote Dr. Brenda Merritt in an email to CBC News.

The budget includes $20.6 million more spending on mental health initiatives.

The head of the Nova Scotia division of the Canadian Mental Health Association said more needs to be done to address the issues that cause mental health problems in the first place.

"Things like housing, access to food, access to education, all of those things that determine our overall mental health," said Karn Nichols.

She pointed out that $32 million is being spent on affordable housing, but $500 million is needed over 10 years to offset the shortage of 33,000 units needed.

Fertility and surrogacy tax credit

Meanwhile, Carolynn Dubé with Fertility Matters Canada is thrilled with the $3 million for a fertility and surrogacy refundable tax rebate to help offset costs.

One in six Nova Scotians need fertility services. The cost of each round of in vitro fertilization is $20,000 and most people need more than one round. Surrogacy can cost $60,000.

Dubé said that means some people don't have the means to even try for a baby.

"What I loved seeing is people can access the tax credit annually, up to $8,000, and there is no lifetime maximum. This will have a significant impact," said Dubé.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Pam Berman

Reporter

Pam Berman is CBC Nova Scotia's municipal affairs reporter. She's been a journalist for almost 35 years and has covered Halifax regional council since 1997. That includes four municipal elections, 19 budgets and countless meetings. Story ideas can be sent to pam.berman@cbc.ca

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