News Release Archive


Mr. Speaker, three and a half years ago, our government stood
before Nova Scotians to present our first budget. We were four
months into our mandate and one thing was painfully clear -- Nova
Scotia was in trouble. Our deficit was $617 million. We were
borrowing every penny.

A few months later, in the spring of 1994, we introduced our plan
for recovery -- Government By Design.

At that time we said, "If we do not take control ... now, our
children will be forced to sit on the sidelines as the new world
passes them by." We said, "Our economic future can only be built
on solid ground." We said we will "clearly lay out our ... road
to recovery."

Well, we took control, we got up off the sidelines, we put Nova
Scotia back on the road to recovery, and we found solid ground.
Today, we are not just standing on that ground, we are building
on it.

The good news is that we are building with our own hands, our own
dollars. It is a future we will own, not borrow.

Today, Mr. Speaker, we have the proof. Today, I am pleased to
confirm to all Nova Scotians that we have achieved our first real
budget surplus in more than 20 years. For the first time in
modern memory, we are paying down the debt, not building it up.
And, I am proud to say, we are going to do it all over again in

Not only have we found fiscal sanity, we have found fiscal
strength. We can focus more clearly on improving programs and
building a thriving economy with jobs for Nova Scotians.

As we grow, we are improving the programs people care most about
-- health, education, social services. As we find the dollars, we
are lowering taxes for Nova Scotians. And we are paying down the

We have achieved the best possible balance.

Mr. Speaker, this is what budget 1997 is all about: fiscal
stability, economic growth, jobs for Nova Scotians, tax
reductions, programs people can count on -- a future we can truly
call our own.


Mr. Speaker, 17 days ago we entered a new fiscal year. But we are
doing much more than just turning a page on a calendar. We are
turning the corner on our economic future.

Throughout 1996, our economy continued to move forward. Nova
Scotia's economic output grew by 0.9 per cent -- modest growth.
Employment grew with 4,000 new jobs in the private sector.

This year, we will move past modest and into confident. Just last
month, the Bank of Montreal said that our economy will "rev up in
1997 and shift into high gear in 1998."

The country's leading financial experts agree. They all predict
good growth for Nova Scotia in the next two years. Overall, the
government is forecasting growth of 2.1 per cent in 1997 and two
per cent in 1998. And that forecast does not reflect the
anticipated development of Sable gas.

What is contributing to this progress? A number of things.

There is the $113-million addition to Highway 104 -- scheduled to
open before Christmas. There is the $750-million expansion at
Stora Port Hawkesbury -- heading for completion in 1998. These
two undertakings alone will put more than 1,000 construction
workers on the job.

In 1998, we should see construction on the Sable Offshore Energy
Project. This will be the single largest project in Nova Scotia's
history with investments totalling about $3 billion. Once the
project gets the final go-ahead, we will start factoring this
good news into our economic forecasts.

Nova Scotia is projected to lead the country in new capital
investment in 1997. According to Statistics Canada, investment
will increase by 18 per cent this year-almost four times higher
than the Canadian average.

But it is not just the megaproject that is helping Nova Scotia
grow. Small business is also a major contributor. In the past two
years, approximately 5,300 new corporations were registered in
Nova Scotia. This is a clear sign of increased business activity,
confidence and growth in our province.

Big or small, Nova Scotia businesses are gaining strength -- due
in part to our package of tax reforms and credits. This strength
will continue into 1997, thanks to the new input tax credit under
the harmonized sales tax. In simple terms, this means a business
gets back 100 per cent of the tax it pays on items needed to run
its business. Overall, it will lower business costs by an
estimated $170 million.

This means Nova Scotia's businesses are more competitive in the
global marketplace. In fact, the province's exports have climbed
almost 28 per cent since 1993. The end result is more jobs for
Nova Scotians.

On that front, we are seeing improvement. There are almost 26,000
more Nova Scotians working today than there were in 1993. Just a
couple of weeks ago, Statistics Canada reported that Nova Scotia
had the lowest unemployment rate in Atlantic Canada at 12.8 per

Based on current trends, Nova Scotia should reach record
employment levels in 1997.

Although all of this is good news, it is not good enough. We have
to work on improving the job situation throughout our province.
We have to focus on finding lasting answers, lasting jobs for
areas of high unemployment such as Cape Breton.

We want Nova Scotia to be a province of universal opportunity, a
province with a fair chance for all.


  The solution starts with a solid fiscal foundation.

  Last year, my predecessor in Finance stood here and said that
  budget 1996 97 would be a balanced budget. This year, we are
  back to say we have delivered.

  Not only have we delivered, Mr. Speaker, we have hit our first
  budget surplus in decades -- a surplus that has surpassed our
  original expectations.

  Today, I am pleased to announce that Nova Scotia had a budget
  surplus of $4.7 million for 1996-97. That is a solid down
  payment on our future.

  And, Mr. Speaker, this achievement comes after setting aside
  one-time special reserves for health, education and victims of
  institutional abuse. These reserves total $69 million -- a wise
  safeguard for the future.

  For the first time in over a quarter of a century, Nova Scotia
  is paying its own way. For the first time since my children
  were born, I can feel good about the fiscal future I am leaving
  for them.

  How did we do it? Mainly, due to our growing provincial
  economy. People were earning more money. Business was making
  more profit. And as a result, government's own revenues were

  When we started the year, Mr. Speaker, we estimated that our
  net revenues would be almost $4.2 billion. When we ended the
  year, we were well ahead of that estimate.

  The increase in revenue was not because of a federal windfall.
  The additional revenue came from "own source dollars." For
  instance, corporate and personal income tax was $56 million
  more than expected. Lower costs in debt servicing and
  restructuring also meant more money for the province.

  As a result of these and other measures, we realized some
  breathing room on the spending side of the ledger. In fact,
  throughout the year, we were able to direct an additional $150
  million to critical program areas.

  One such area was health care -- one of government's most
  important spending areas. Through careful fiscal planning, we
  were able to redirect an additional $124 million to the health
  budget during 1996-97.

  Part of that budget includes $39 million as a special reserve
  to guard against potential recovery shortfalls.

  After all was said and done, the bottom line is that Nova
  Scotia ended up $4.7 million in the black -- not the red, the

  Today, I am pleased to announce that every penny of that
  surplus will go toward paying down Nova Scotia's debt.

  Mr. Speaker, this is a first step in turning debt dollars into
  program dollars. It is a first step toward owning our future.

  Debt Management

  In the early months of 1996, we consulted with Nova Scotians
  about Shaping the Future -- our strategy for tackling Nova
  Scotia's debt. Today, we are winning that war, one battle at a

  For the first time ever, proceeds from the sale of surplus
  Crown assets have gone to reducing our debt. In 1996-97, almost
  $700,000 went toward that goal.

  We are also winning the battle to reduce the amount of money we
  owe in foreign currency. We are keeping more of our debt
  dollars home in Canada where costs are more predictable.

  Two years ago, 66 per cent of our debt was in foreign currency.
  Today, that number is 49.8 per cent. I should add, Mr. Speaker,
  that the most recent transaction, on April 9, saved us $5.7
  million. We are moving in the right direction toward our
  ultimate goal of 20 per cent.

  We have also made substantial improvements in the performance
  of the province's pension funds. In the fall of 1993, the
  Teachers' Pension Plan was only 55 per cent funded. We worked
  with the teachers' union to address that issue, and as of March
  31, 1997, the plan is 82 per cent funded. Also, I am pleased to
  report that the Public Service Superannuation Fund has a
  surplus. In fact, it is 108 per cent funded.

  The result of all this, Mr. Speaker, is that for the first time
  since 1965, the province's net direct debt will go down. When
  we finally close the books for the year-end, we expect our net
  direct debt to be reduced by more than $150 million.

  A Vote Of Confidence

  Last September, Nova Scotia's new-found fiscal management got a
  vote of confidence. The international rating agency Standard
  and Poor's revised our outlook from negative to stable.

  This move gives investors around the world the confidence to
  invest in our province and our people. And, down the road, it
  will make it easier to refinance our outstanding debt at a
  lower cost with lower interest rates. That will mean less money
  going to the bond traders and more money available to Nova


Budget 1997 will mark Nova Scotia's second straight balanced
budget. We will also have our second budget surplus in a row,
estimated to be $4 million.

This year, because of our strong fiscal performance, we are in
the position to improve services, starting with services Nova
Scotians care most about -- health and education.

But although we are getting close, we are not out of the woods
yet. Over the next few years, we will need to work to keep Nova
Scotia on track.

One reason for our cautious approach is the reality of less money
from the federal government. The change to a new funding system
known as the Canadian Health and Social Transfer will mean fewer
federal dollars for Nova Scotia. In fact, between 1996-97 and the
year 2000, we will take in an estimated $466 million less than we
would have under previous funding arrangements.

As well, we will collect almost $22 million less in 1997-98
because of our personal income tax cut for Nova Scotians. Plus,
the HST and related tax rebates take $131 million from
government's purse.

To offset some of this lost revenue, last year's budget
introduced a corporate capital tax of 0.25 percentage points on
financial capital. This tax came into effect on April 1. The tax
will be phased in for businesses with between $5 million and $10
million in financial capital. The full tax will only apply to
businesses with over $10 million. It is estimated that about
1,000 of Nova Scotia's largest businesses will pay the full tax.

Mr. Speaker, on this topic, I have some important news to report.
This year, I can tell business that the corporate capital tax
will disappear after five years. As our economy grows stronger,
the need for the tax will disappear. Mr. Speaker, I will soon be
introducing legislation to reflect this commitment.

Nova Scotia is becoming much more self-reliant and resourceful.
We are paying our own way. Part of paying our own way is
exploring more cost-efficient ways for delivering services to
Nova Scotians and spending taxpayer dollars more wisely.

This year, we are investing our savings in key programs. Over the
next few years, that investment will result in lower program
costs and improved services.

For example, hospital care is one of the most expensive forms of
health care we provide to Nova Scotians. Investments in such
programs as home care, health promotion and tobacco control help
keep people healthier and reduce the need for hospital care.

These investments can help achieve the savings we have always
predicted. We will have a better health care system at a lower

We will see evidence of that as we look to the year 2000. The
coming years show a relatively stable financial picture in health
and overall government spending.

The good news is that programs are secure and stable. As our
economy gets stronger, so will government's revenue and so will
our programs.

The impact of a stronger economy will be felt by all Nova
Scotians, including government employees.

For example, Oct. 31, 1997, marks an end to the wage restraint
legislation. This year, collective bargaining is back on.
Government looks forward to sitting down with its unions and
working out a fair deal for our employees.

As the premier said less than a month ago, it is time to "move
confidently toward the 21st century." There is no going back.
There will be no more promises paid for with borrowed money,
increased taxes or passing debt on to our children.

I approach government's budget much the same way I approach my
family's finances: be responsible, be careful, make the most of
what you have, focus on priorities, and make smart investments.
And, above all, do not make promises you cannot deliver.

That is what this budget is all about. That is what this
government is all about.


  Investing in Economic Growth and Jobs

  Turning the corner on our fiscal affairs was the first step in
  securing Nova Scotia's future. That has happened. From day one,
  we knew that it was the only way to start growing the economy.

  A balanced budget was never the end of the road -- it was
  simply the path. It is the key to tax stability and tax relief,
  which in turn spurs economic growth and new job opportunities.
  Fiscal stability is the cornerstone on which we build.

  Another important cornerstone for economic growth is
  redesigning government -- cutting red tape. We are now working
  to eliminate, combine and repackage many of the 300 government
  licences and permits needed by business. We are also working
  this year on a simplified fee structure.

  Reducing the underground economy is another way government can
  help level the playing field for business.

  In recent years, we have been working with the federal
  government and industry groups to realize this goal. As a
  result of our negotiations, Revenue Canada has agreed to
  dedicate at least 30 additional full-time employees to fight
  Nova Scotia's underground economy. This commitment is for a
  minimum of two years.

  All of these efforts help create a climate that encourages
  private-sector investment and builds confidence. We are doing
  everything we can to make Nova Scotia a magnet for investment
  and jobs-well-paying, long-lasting, high-quality jobs.

  Another key part of that plan is making smart investment
  decisions for long-term growth.

  Our Return on Investment to Date

  In 1997, Nova Scotia will lead the country in capital
  investment growth.

  What is bringing this investment to Nova Scotia? It is a long
  list of things -- from our unrivalled quality of life, to our
  strategic location, to our high-quality workforce.

  Government is doing everything it can to build on these natural

  We have adjusted our tax structures to stimulate growth. We
  have targeted tax credits to sectors of our economy that show
  real promise. This year, in the film industry alone, government
  will invest approximately $6 million in tax credits. The return
  on that investment is a growing $45-million film industry.

  We are also continuing to support small business -- the
  backbone of Nova Scotia's economy. In 1996-97, 350 new
  businesses took advantage of our small business tax holiday
  -- a 40 per cent increase over the average from previous years.
  This is a sure sign of increased business activity and growth
  in Nova Scotia.

  Through our equity tax credit, this government has helped
  support more than 100 businesses across the province since

  Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that the equity
  tax credit will be extended for four more years, to the end of
  2001. This program will continue to help companies throughout
  our province get their start and provide jobs for more Nova

  New Ways to Boost Investment

  Today's budget does even more to stimulate business. Today, Mr.
  Speaker, I am pleased to announce a new investment tax credit
  for manufacturing and processing industries. This tax credit
  will attract new capital investment, both from outside the
  province and from businesses that are already here.

  It is a 30 per cent tax credit on eligible capital investment
  in machinery, plant, or equipment used in Nova Scotia. The
  program will last five years, starting with expenditures
  incurred as of Jan. 1, 1997.

  The credit will be available only when a company makes a profit
  and pays taxes. In other words, Mr. Speaker, we are making
  smart investment decisions.

  This tax credit will provide the most attractive incentive in
  Canada for investment in these sectors. We project that
  investment in manufacturing and processing will double over the
  next five years as a direct result of this program.

  This means new jobs for Nova Scotians in manufacturing,
  construction and related spin-off activity.

  In another move to boost investment, Mr. Speaker, this year
  government will redirect $1 million to investment marketing. We
  will make sure that businesses in Europe, in the Pacific Rim,
  in the United States and in the rest of the world know that
  Nova Scotia is a great place to do business -- a great place to
  call home.

  Investing in Our Infrastructure

  To attract business to Nova Scotia, we need to build our
  province's infrastructure. We are always working to improve it.
  One way is through the recent extension of the Infrastructure
  Works Program in partnership with the federal and municipal
  governments. Our government has committed $14.2 million to
  extend the program for 1997-98.

  Investing in Communities

  Mr. Speaker, I also want to announce today that we have reached
  agreement with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities
  regarding an HST offset package. Tomorrow, I will be tabling
  legislation as part of our Financial Measures Act. This
  legislation will allow us to put an additional $6 million into
  the hands of municipalities this year. This will rise to an
  annual amount of $10 million within eight years.

  Municipal governments go a long way in supporting their local
  communities. They must be commended for the work they have done
  to address the needs of their communities during challenging
  fiscal times. Today, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that
  the Government of Nova Scotia is increasing the total operating
  grant to municipalities by three per cent over last year's

  Investing in Rural Nova Scotia

  Rural communities are the heart of Nova Scotia. They are rich
  in natural resources and individual talent.

  This year, we will build on rural Nova Scotia's vast tourism
  potential by marketing the Year of Music and investing in an
  exciting Rails to Trails project.

  Through research and development, new technology and marketing,
  we will add value and expand job potential in the agri-food,
  fishing and forest industries.

  For example, this year, aquaculture production will increase by
  50 per cent.

  The province will also continue its investment in forestry
  through the Resource Enhancement Fund. We will provide more
  than $4 million in direct support, supplemented with private
  woodlot and industry participation. These new partnerships will
  provide for long-term jobs in a sustainable forest industry.

  Investing In Solutions For Cape Breton

  Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, there are still areas of this
  province where long-term jobs are hard to come by; Cape Breton
  is one such area.

  There are no easy answers for the unemployment situation on the
  island. I wish there were. There is, however, hope and a
  determination to find a solution.

  This government is committed to finding answers for Cape
  Breton. But we cannot do it alone. Solutions require a
  partnership approach. The federal government and the private
  sector have important roles to play.

  In the midst of unacceptably high unemployment, however, there
  are some positive signs. The province is making headway in
  setting the stage for future success. The University College of
  Cape Breton continues to show leadership by developing new
  programs in information technology, community economic
  development and environmental science. Our first new high-tech
  school -- a North American showpiece -- has just opened in

  The anniversary of John Cabot's landing in Cape Breton will be
  celebrated this summer. The Year of Music will showcase Cape
  Breton's growing force in the national and the international
  music scene. New investments in tourism infrastructure in
  Baddeck and Cheticamp all add up to the promise of tourism
  growth on the island.

  The new manufacturing and processing investment tax credit and
  the extension of the equity tax credit are expected to
  encourage development in Cape Breton.

  The Strait industrial area is set for a major resurgence.
  Stora's new investments, as well as the anticipated
  construction of a separation plant for Sable gas, will mean new
  opportunities in this region.

  Investing in a New Industry

  The entire Sable Offshore Energy Project presents tremendous,
  lasting opportunities for Nova Scotians.

  Already, before the project has even received final go-ahead,
  investment has hit the $45-million mark. This year, that number
  is expected to reach $78 million.

  Overall, our challenge is to make the most out of every
  opportunity -- and to look out for Nova Scotia's best

  To this end, government has redirected $1.5 million in salaries
  and other monies to support the Sable project. The investment
  will return to us many times over, with a total expected
  private investment of $3 billion.

  Mr. Speaker, today, I am also pleased to announce that the
  Sable project can help in our efforts to pay down Nova Scotia's
  debt. No less than 50 per cent of net royalty revenue from
  Sable will be targeted directly to debt reduction. I will soon
  table legislation to effect this fiscally responsible action.

  Lowering our debt will create lasting social and economic
  benefits for Nova Scotia. It will help attract investment and
  jobs. And, it will result in more money for the programs people
  care about.


  Investing in Our Health

  Health care is one such program. In fact, Nova Scotians have
  said health care is their No. 1 priority. Government has
  listened and responded. We are investing an additional $38.8
  million in health care program spending for 1997-98.

  For the first time in years, the amount of money for hospitals
  is not going down. Hospital budgets have stabilized. Regional
  health boards can count on stable funding for 1997-98.

  That does not mean a bed might not be closed. But if that
  happens, it will be because the regional boards believe there
  is a better way to deliver health care to Nova Scotians.

  In 1997-98 we are increasing our investment in home care. An
  additional $10 million for Home Care Nova Scotia increases the
  program's budget to almost $70 million.

  This will help improve home care's fundamental programs -- home
  hospital and chronic home care. In simple terms, it means
  better service for people receiving care in their homes. In
  real numbers, it means more than 20,000 Nova Scotians will be
  served by home care in 1997. We are building a better
  alternative to hospital beds.

  Extra funding also allows us to add new home care services,
  such as home oxygen. And it allows us to start work on programs
  such as palliative care, occupational therapy, social work,
  mental health services and orthopedics for children.

  More improvements are coming to emergency health services,
  which will see its budget increase by $5 million. This funding
  will mean Nova Scotians will get to the hospital faster and
  safer, with more high-quality equipment and expert staff.

  Another basic concept in health care is doctors for people who
  need them.

  Over the past few months, we have been out talking to Nova
  Scotians about how to secure doctors for communities across the

  Our goal is to provide stability to physicians, doctors where
  they are needed, and peace of mind for the people who need
  them. To that end, the budget for physician services will
  increase from $262 million to $274 million.

  The bottom line for 1997-98 is more money for health programs.

  Investing in Opportunities for Young Nova Scotians

  As time passes and our economic picture improves, we will make
  new investments in Nova Scotia. Investments we can afford.
  Investments for our children -- investments for our future.

  Young people are the future of this province. Unfortunately,
  finding that first job has become a big challenge for
  well-educated young Nova Scotians. A recent report from
  Statistics Canada said that in 1996 one in five Canadians under
  25 did not have work experience.

  Government recognizes this problem. Over the past three years,
  17,000 work-experience jobs have been created in Nova Scotia.
  This year, we will do more.

  Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce that in 1997-98, the Nova
  Scotia Links Program will get a $1.2-million boost, bringing
  its total value up to $3.6 million. By increasing this
  successful federal-provincial program, we will give students
  career-related work experience for the future.

  Co-operative education is another proven success story.

  Approximately 87 per cent of post-secondary students who
  participate in co-op education find jobs within six months of

  Mr. Speaker, government will build on this success by investing
  $700,000 to create more job placements for students. We will
  also consult with business to match student opportunities with
  employer needs and develop incentives to create lasting jobs.

  Nova Scotia has one of the best educated workforces in the
  country. We want to keep it that way.

  For 1997-98, we will protect university funding from the full
  impact of federal reductions. The province will absorb part of
  the reduction that would otherwise be directed at universities.
  The end result is operating and capital assistance of almost
  $183 million.

  Investing in Quality Education for Our Children

  But investing in our future starts long before university. It
  begins with an excellent school system for our children from
  day one to graduation.

  Last year at this time, we told school boards to brace for
  funding cuts in 1997-98. Things have turned around. This year,
  for the first time in four years, school boards will see a
  provincial-municipal funding increase of more than $13 million.

  This money will go to special education, new math, science and
  language programs, lease-payments for the new high-tech
  schools, and other education priorities. It is clear that money
  is not staying in the boardrooms. It is going directly to the
  classroom -- straight to the students.

  Also, in 1997-98, an additional $1 million will be available to
  help maintain and operate schools -- making them healthy, safe
  places to learn.

  Every new school in Nova Scotia will be built through
  public-private partnerships. This means more schools will be
  built more quickly with leading-edge technology. Seven of these
  schools are now in various stages of planning and construction.
  Over the coming year, government will outline details of the
  next round of new school construction.

  Investing in a Move from Welfare to Work

  Mr. Speaker, for many a good education is the key to a lasting
  job. For others, the answer is not so simple.

  Over the past three years, government has helped 1,500 Nova
  Scotians move from welfare to employment. That is great
  progress, but we think we can do better. This year, Nova Scotia
  will step up its efforts to help more Nova Scotians make the
  move to a future of employment.

  This year, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to announce a dynamic new
  initiative called Bridging to Success. It will cover a wide
  range of options for getting people into meaningful employment.

  Bridging to Success is a partnership of the departments of
  Community Services, Education and Culture, and Economic
  Development and Tourism. Other levels of government and the
  private sector are also partners.

  This year alone, Bridging to Success will help 1,500 Nova
  Scotians move from welfare to work. This program is expected to
  save Nova Scotia taxpayers $1.5 million in 1997-98.

  The program has a number of components, including direct job
  placement, targeted wage subsidy, entrepreneurship, workplace
  education, work experience and community programs,
  infrastructure development projects, worker co-ops, and skills
  exchange and upgrading.

  That is an extensive list. Over the course of the year, various
  components of this progressive program will be introduced and
  explained to Nova Scotians.

  The end result is that these efforts will boost the confidence,
  self-esteem and incomes of Nova Scotians on social assistance.
  It will boost our economy. It will save money. And, it will
  give more Nova Scotians a fair shot at success.

  Investing in Fair Taxation for Nova Scotians

  Another way to help Nova Scotians succeed is to lower their tax

  Today, I am pleased to remind every taxpaying Nova Scotian that
  they will see a 3.4 per cent reduction in Nova Scotia personal
  income tax starting July 1.

  On that day, Nova Scotia will experience the first
  across-the-board income tax reduction in our province's

  This means that Nova Scotians will have the second-lowest
  income tax rate east of Alberta. It is one of the first
  tangible benefits of sound financial management.

  Truly, July 1 will be a good day.

  Investing in Help for Low Income Nova Scotians

  Mr. Speaker a tax cut for all is good news. But this government
  has never lost sight of the need to take special action to help
  those who really need it - low-income Nova Scotians. While
  other provinces reduced welfare budgets, we did not. While
  others cut benefits, we cut taxes.

  Mr. Speaker, last year this government provided about $12
  million in tax relief to 155,000 low-income Nova Scotians and
  their families. In 1997, this Low-Income Tax Reduction Program
  will get richer - reaching a total value of $25 million for the
  fiscal year. This means we help nearly 220,000 Nova Scotians.
  The basic reduction will increase to $300 from $200 for
  individuals and to $165 from $105 for each child.

  However, a number of Nova Scotians have incomes so low that
  they will not benefit from this program. To help remedy this,
  the government has introduced the Direct Assistance Program. A
  total of $8 million will be directed to working and retired
  low-income Nova Scotians.

  A family with a net annual income of $16,500 or less will
  qualify for a payment of $125 under the program. An individual
  with a yearly net income of $9,500 will qualify for a $90
  direct benefit.

  It is estimated that 77,000 Nova Scotians -- 20,000 of them
  seniors -- will benefit from the program.

  Investing in Children and Families

  A large number of Nova Scotians will also see benefits from the
  new National Child Benefit Program, announced in the recent
  federal budget. Part of that announcement was an extra $600
  million to increase existing spending under the child tax
  credit. Full implementation is scheduled for July 1998. At
  present, we are negotiating with the federal government to
  ensure Nova Scotians get maximum benefits from this measure.

  On the provincial front, additional subsidized day-care spaces
  will be added to support children, remove barriers to
  employment and enhance employment equity.

  This government has increased the number of subsidized spaces
  by 150 since 1993, and 50 more will be added this year. A total
  of 2,300 children will have access to appropriate early
  childhood education thanks to these provincial subsidies.

  Mr. Speaker, in another move to help families, I am pleased to
  announce that the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program
  has been extended for one year. In the last three years, the
  program has helped put safe roofs over the heads of 2,600
  families and individuals. This year, the program will provide
  almost $4 million to address health and safety hazards in homes
  across the province.

  Investing in Our Culture and Heritage

  Home repairs take on added meaning when you are dealing with
  registered heritage properties. Today, Mr. Speaker, I am
  pleased to announce that we have revived our tax rebate program
  for work on these unique properties. Nova Scotians will now be
  able to reclaim the provincial portion of the HST related to
  the costs of restoring and maintaining heritage properties. As
  a result, the history and character of our communities will be

  Another addition to our rich cultural heritage is the new Nova
  Scotia Arts Council, established earlier this month. Starting
  in 1997-98, $1.3 million will be invested annually to support
  musicians, painters, actors and all professional artists
  throughout our province.


Mr. Speaker, budget 1997 marks a turning-point. It is about
responsible spending. It is about securing programs that people
care about, such as education and health care that people can
count on. Budget 1997 is about building a thriving economy with
jobs for Nova Scotians. It is about improving our excellent
quality of life.

But, more than anything, Mr. Speaker, budget 1997 is about paying
our own way. It is about creating our own destiny -- owning our
own future.

Mr. Speaker, my ancestors came to Nova Scotia in the early 1800s.
They came looking for new opportunities and a better way. Today,
almost 200 years later, Nova Scotia is even more so a land of
hope, a land of new opportunities. It is a place where people are
resourceful and self-reliant. It is a province that I am proud to
call home.

And, Mr. Speaker, it will be a well-constructed home, a home we
can afford. We had a choice, we could owe our future or we could
own our future. We made the choice. Today, the future of Nova
Scotia is ours -- ours to own.

Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

The budget address can be found on the Internet at:

Contact: Bruce Cameron 902-424-8787


trp                     Apr. 17, 1997 - 2:20 p.m.