Nova Scotia’s ever-dwindling chances of having a balanced budget for 2009 seem even more unlikely after Tuesday’s federal budget.
Premier Rodney MacDonald said yesterday the province will face more pressure to go into the red to make the most of federal money. On Tuesday Ottawa pledged billions of dollars in stimulus cash, but the provinces will have to match spending to get much of that.
“We still have an uphill battle going with our budget,” said MacDonald. “The infrastructure dollars are extremely important. One of the challenges we’re going to have is matching those dollars.”
MacDonald said he still had questions about how the funding will work, such as whether the matching dollars must come entirely from the province or could include private money.
MacDonald wouldn’t confirm if his government would spend into deficit, but did say “we plan on leveraging every single dollar that we can leverage.”
Nova Scotia will also see $75 million less in equalization money, but MacDonald insisted the feds will make up for that amount.
Because of the Atlantic Accord of 2005 and the subsequent changes to it, Nova Scotia has a unique and complex system of getting equalization money.
There’s less money this time around — about $75 million less for Nova Scotia. But MacDonald said Stephen Harper’s government will make that up with a “transitional payment.”
That stems from a November agreement between Ottawa and Nova Scotia and Manitoba wherein the provinces were protected from an equalization drop. MacDonald said operating revenue will not be affected.