Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia writes off $12.7M in bad loans, uncollected fees

Bum loans and uncollected fees and fines forced Nova Scotia to write off $12.7 million in bad debt in 2015-2016.

Hants County blueberry farm owed $3.7M when it went into receivership

The Nova Scotia government said Tuesday it had to write off $12.7 million in unpaid loans, fees and fines this year. (CBC)

Bum loans and uncollected fees and fines forced Nova Scotia to write off $12.7 million in bad debt in 2015-2016.

That's down from an annual average of $13.9 million in bad debt recorded over the past decade, the government said Tuesday.

"Provisions for these debts were made in previous fiscal years so the write-off process has no impact on departmental budgets or Nova Scotia's deficit or surplus position," the province said in a news release.

The biggest writeoff was a $3.7 million loss when Hants County blueberry operation Rainbow Farms went into receivership in 2013.

Rainbow Farms received a $4-million loan in 2010 from the Industrial Expansion Fund, a forerunner of the Jobs Funds — since cancelled by the Liberals.

$2.4 million in defaulted student loans

The Business Department also wrote off $349,000 under a small-business loan guarantee program operated by the Credit Union. However the department says that program has a 95 per cent success rate.

Labour and Advanced Education wrote off $2.4 million in defaulted student loans, down from $3 million last year.

"The vast majority of amounts listed under student loans have been in collections for at least four years," department spokesman Andrew Preeper told CBC News.

That includes:

  • $1,071,506 for universities, up from $900,000 last year.
  • $284,440 for Nova Scotia Community College, down from $932,000 the previous year.
  • $1,096,526 million for private colleges, down from $1.3 million last year.

The Department of Agriculture gave up on $1.3 million in unrecoverable fisheries and farm board loans.

Here is breakdown of the company names and amounts, released by the department:

NS Farm Loan Board

  • John and Gretha Hutten, $341,578.34
  • John and Linda Nauss, $89,870.47
  • David Burgess, $85,895.34
  • Stonehame Farm Limited $758,326.91

NS Fish Loan Board

  • Tri County Fisheries Ltd., $2,374.36

Unpaid ambulance fees $2.4 million

Almost all of the $2.4 million written off by the Department of Health and Wellness was uncollected ambulance user fees.

A breakdown of the bad debt for the department:

  • $2.3.million ambulance user fees.
  • $92,527 in Life Flight air ambulance fees.
  • $10,488 in education bursaries for incomplete programs.
  •  $957 in overpayments to physicians.

The Department of Justice also wrote off $2.3 million in uncollected fines.  

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paul Withers

Reporter

Paul Withers is an award-winning journalist whose career started in the 1970s as a cartoonist. He has been covering Nova Scotia politics for more than 20 years.

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