Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil reacts to federal budget
Province will receive investments for ship procurement contract, housing, broadband internet, and harbours
The federal Liberals announced their first budget today, and with that comes running deficits to fund investments in infrastructure, the middle class, families and municipalities across the country.
On Tuesday afternoon, Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil got a chance to react and explain where some of that money is going — and where some of it isn't.
Ship procurement contract
"We're very confident that we as a province on our role, what we're going to participate in the federation, there will be enough there for us to meet our commitments," McNeil told reporters.
The premier said his government is pleased to see "the mention" of the ship procurement contract.
"[It] identified in our view that commitment to it. So, when you look at the opportunities for us to create some stimulus in the province, we believe there's room for us to do that."
He said the feds identified actually an item in the budget recognizing the unspent portion of this round of the ship procurement.
"They didn't actually pull that back into savings, they pushed that out in the 2021 portion so, to me, to us, it's a clear indication of their commitment to fulfilling that contract."
A big issue on the minds of many Nova Scotians is the state of the Victoria General hospital. The province says it's moving forward, with or without federal help. So did the budget mention any funds to help that project out?
"It wasn't mentioned today. We're not 100 per cent," McNeil said. "We do have a call tonight to call the federal minister on the entire infrastructure piece. But we have committed to that facility, we're on a go-forward basis.
There was also no mention of any new health care streams that McNeil said his government requested be made.
"No we didn't see it there," he said. "[But] we would have liked to have seen dedicated towards that specifically."
McNeil maintains that the federal budget will allow for new funding formulas in the future.
"What we had talked about was a new funding formula. The ministers, working with our national counterparts, will continue to do that to look at a new wave of innovation, there's ample room inside of this budget for a plan to be created."
Who gets what
It's too early to tell how the money will be distributed to the entire province, McNeil says.
"It didn't say that in the budget. It'll probably go along the normal streams that typically happen. Distributed in projects across the region, every region will participate in that."
One part McNeil highlighted while speaking with reporters was transportation.
"The only place where we saw a certain amount that was set aside for Nova Scotia was in the transit piece. I think $32.5 million is set aside," he said.
But is that enough for what Nova Scotians are asking for?
"It's not a question whether I think it's a fair share and I don't think it's limited to that. I think it's just interesting they just noted that as part of the budget when no other Canadian province was mentioned in it."
With files from Preston Mulligan, David Laughlin