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Increased spending sees Nova Scotia budget deficit jump to $403 million

Nova Scotia is now on track to run a $402.7-million deficit this fiscal year, a jump of $123.8 million from what was forecast in the budget tabled in March.

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster says that’s due to additional spending for health care, the settling of public sector contracts and disaster assistance for wildfires and flooding.

MacMaster says programs to assist with natural disasters account for one quarter of the $363 million in increased spending from the spring budget.

So far, the province has spent $60 million to assist with damage caused by wildfires and $57 million for damage caused by flooding this spring and summer, although a portion of that cost will eventually be recovered through federal disaster assistance programs.

A new contract for nurses has taken $155.6 million from government coffers, while a new deal signed by the province’s doctors cost $65.8 million.

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Revenues were also up, and despite the increase in spending, MacMaster says there are signs the government’s overall fiscal picture could improve by the time he delivers his second budget update in December.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 28, 2023.