Last week, the Nova Scotia government tabled its first budget under new Premier Ian Rankin. The budget featured increased spending to help the province move forward from the COVID-19 pandemic. There were increased investments in health care, environmental initiatives, and income assistance. While there were no specific initiatives within the budget that would be impactful for the retail sector, last year’s budget promises for both large and small business tax cuts were honoured.
Of interest to retailers:
- Investments in tourism and hospitality sectors: $1.1 million to continue the digital content marketing program for tourism operators and $1.2 million to expand the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation discount for the hospitality industry to include canned and bottled beer, cider, and ready-to-drink products.
- $1.3 million for the first year of a Nova Scotia quality wine strategy.
- $1.5 million for the first year of an aquaculture expansion strategy.
- Commitment to reduce the regulatory burden on businesses by another $10 million.
Of note to home improvement retailers:
- $1.17 billion for capital projects across the province – improving roads, hospitals, schools and other critical infrastructure. This will be the second year in a row where capital spending surpasses $1 billion.
- $8.6 million to begin a multi-year plan to replace or renovate seven nursing homes and add more than 230 beds across the province by 2025.
- $29.1 million to provide more safe, suitable and affordable housing.
Of note to pharmacies:
- $12.8 million additional for seniors and family pharmacare.
- Real GDP fell 5.3% in 2020 but is expected to increase over the next few years.
Deficit and debt:
- The 2020-21 budget deficit was $705.5 million while the debt was $16.8 billion.
- The 2021-22 budget deficit is projected to decrease to $584 million while the debt is projected to be $18 billion.
More information can be found in the government’s press release.