Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia interest groups react to the federal budget

Nine interest groups watched the federal budget live together Tuesday.

Nine groups watched the federal budget as it aired live

A number of local interest groups watched the federal budget live together. (CBC)

Nine local Nova Scotia interest groups watched the federal budget announcement together Tuesday and overall, the response was generally positive.

Here's what a couple of the interest groups had to say about the Liberal budget. 

Canadian Federation of Students

Charlotte Kiddell with the Canadian Federation of Students says the group is overall pleased with the budget, but says there were some things the government didn't follow through on. (CBC)

Charlotte Kiddell with the Canadian Federation of Students, says students will be excited to see the 50 per cent increase to the Canada Student Grants Program.

"That's really going to help students who are struggling right now with sky rocketing tuition fees, mounting student debt, be able to continue to afford education — in particular, increases for low and middle income students and part-time students are going to be of great assistance," said Kiddell.

She also says the federation is excited about the $165 million increase to the Youth Employment Strategy and the commitments made to keep increasing that funding over the next two years.

Kiddell says the federation is disappointed that the government has not followed through to remove the two per cent funding cap on the post secondary student support program.

"That was a key promise the liberals made in their election and a key means to fund education for our aboriginal learners as is their treaty right," she said.

On the government's promise to hold back the repayment of student debt until students make $25,000, Keddell says that will be helpful to students leaving school right now.

Public Service Alliance of Canada for Atlantic Canada

Colleen Hodder with the Public Service Alliance of Canada for Atlantic Canada says the budget could turn things around. (CBC)

Colleen Hodder, alternate regional executive vice president for the Public Service Alliance of Canada for Atlantic Canada — which has nearly 18,000 union members, says the budget could turn things around.

"In order for the government to move forward their initiatives that they've outlined in this budget, they're going to have to re-staff many positions across this country in order to fulfil those promises," said Hodder.

Hodder cites the Veterens Affairs offices as an example. 

"They have reiterated again today that they promise to open up the Veterans Affairs offices across the country that were closed and in fact, they're going to increase the benefits that veterans can get from these offices," she said. 

Hodder says the government will need more workers to keep their promise to extend Employment Insurance benefits. 

She said it's too early to know what that will mean for Nova Scotians in terms of employment for PSAC members.

Ecology Action Centre

Katie Schleit is part of the marine team at the Ecology Action Centre. (CBC)

Katie Schleit, who is part of the marine team at the Ecology Action Centre, says the overall reaction is positive.

"We're particularly pleased to see that some of the money that was cut to science has been restored, and in particular to the Department of Fisheries and Oceans" said Schleit.

"At the moment we have gone to biannual stock assessments and it's really detrimental to the future of our fish stocks not to have this science."

The fisheries minister mandate letter from the prime minister told him to restore the science programs at DFO. Schleit says if fisheries can provide more capacity within the science department at DFO, it will be a good indication that the government is following through with their promise.

"If we start to see again fishery assessments coming out, more data being collected, and better ability to tell what's out there and how many fish we can remove from the ecosystem in a sustainable way," she said.

Shleit said she was also pleased to see a financial commitment for marine protected areas, which she says will only help fishermen and other ocean users in the future.

Nova Scotia Federation of Labour

Danny Cavanagh is the president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour. (CBC)

Danny Cavanagh, president of the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour — which represents 70,000 unionized workers in Nova Scotia, says there are some good things in the budget.

"Is it enough? No we don't think it's enough, but I think we're on the right track," said Cavanagh.

As for Cavanagh's thoughts on the Liberal government's $29 billion deficit and the fact that there isn't a target to end it, he says he will just have to wait and see how it all works out.

"We have to have some concerns around the deficit but right now we need to see how it's going to build the economy, how is it going to play out at the end of the day, what's going to happen in the economy, what's going to happen with the price of oil," he said.

Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives

Christine Saulnier is director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives. (CBC)

Christine Saulnier, director of the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives — a group known for coming up with its own budgets — says this budget sends a "good signal" to Canadians.

"We've gone through at least a decade where we haven't seen a lot of growth in terms of the kind of spending that was required in our provinces," said Saulnier.

​Saulnier says she wanted to hear more about health care.

"We didn't hear that they're going to move away from the per capita funding and that's very concerning for Nova Scotia. Obviously we're struggling to keep our population here and the per capita funds actually means we'll see a cut in health care funding that will really be concerning for our provincial government," she said.

With files from the CBC's Paul Withers