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NL Budget 2023 highlights


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By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

ST. JOHN’S — Budget 2023 was announced on Thursday afternoon, Mar. 23 and it focused heavily on healthcare, and cost of living. The province’s economic outlook was forecasted as popular, with NL expected to have one of the highest rates of growth across Canada. The projected deficit for 2023-24 is $160 million. A balanced budget is expected in 2024-25, which is a full two years ahead of the original schedule. · Projected revenues for 2023-24 are $9.7 billion. · Projected expenses for 2023-24 are $9.8 billion. · Increases in provincial spending total $108 million which is lower than the rate of inflation. · Of the $9.8 billion in expenses, $471 million is 100 per cent federally funded. · Net debt is expected to be $16.2 billion in the 2023-24 fiscal year, representing a decrease of $0.9 billion from the Budget 2022-23 forecast of $17.1 billion. · The projected borrowing for 2023-24 is $1.5 billion. · The Debt to Gross Domestic Product Ratio has decreased drastically. Currently it is approximately 37 per cent, where it had been over 50 per cent in 2020. · The provinces’ population is anticipated to rise another 1 per cent with births over deaths being offset by significant net immigration. · The Terra Nova Oil Project and the newly converted bio-fuel refinery in Come by Chance are expected to restart operations this year. · Employment is forecast to increase by 2.2 per cent in 2023. Employment gains should lower the unemployment rate from 11.3 per cent in 2022 to 10.1 per cent in 2023, which would be the lowest unemployment rate recorded for the province since consistent records started in 1976. · Household income is expected to grow by 4.3 per cent following an 8.2 per cent increase in 2022. · Over the next two budgets, the base funding for the Municipal Operating Grant will increase by $6 million, $3 million in 2023 and $3 million in 2024, which will see the budget grow to $28 million. · More than $158 million is allocated for Municipal Operating Grants, Special Assistance Grants, Community Enhancement Programs, and the Canada Community Building Fund. A plan is in place to return to balanced budgets, lower borrowing costs and decrease overall debt. That includes the following: · Using the $5.2 billion rate mitigation agreement with the federal government to fix the financing of the Muskrat Falls Project. · Caution in terms of fiscal governance, which will include both transforming and modernizing government, and strengthening the role of both the Auditor General and Balanced Budget Legislation · Have more responsible debt management, which would include effective treasury management, establishing a ‘Future Fund’ to help future generations have greater prosperity, and optimizing investment performance. Additionally, it is projected the government will contribute another $127 million to the future fund. The new Provincial Health Authority will encompass the Regional Health Authorities and the Newfoundland and Labrador Centre for Health Information as of April 1 and will help bolster recruitment and retention, streamline programs and services, and eliminate duplication of corporate services. “This is the largest investment in your health in the history of Newfoundland and Labrador,” said Minister of Finance, Siobhan Coady. “It is our government’s priority, focused on your health care and well being. This budget delivered the largest health care investment in the province’s history.” Healthcare details included: · Provincial road ambulance program consolidation of 60 ambulance services into a single, integrated service with a central system · A new Health Information System will be introduced and will eliminate and replace MEDITECH · An incremental investment in provincial highways of close to $1.4 billion over the next five years · Over $60 million will focus on numerous issues such as providing residents with new ways of accessing cardio services, traveling orthopedic teams, same day hip and knee replacements, improving access to midwifery services, and expanding the scope of practice for healthcare professionals in an attempt to shorten wait times and improve access to health care resources. · A virtual care program will provide physician coverage in emergency departments where physicians and nurse practitioners are unavailable on site · The implementation of family care teams · Additional funding of more than $23 million encompassing financial incentives · An investment of $7.7 million increase this year, increasing to $9.3 million next year for those who support self-managed care in the home · 7.5 million annual increase for community care homes · $6.1 million annual increase for personal care homes · In 2023, $5 million will be contributed to community-based mental health services The cost of living for residents in the province measure include: · Continuation of 8.05 cent per litre (includes HST) reduction on the price of gasoline and diesel · Maintaining the home heating supplement · 50 per cent reduction off the cost vehicle registration · Increasing payments for Income Supplement and Seniors’ Benefit. · Construction of more than 850 affordable housing and rental units. · $64 million to increase wages for early childhood educators, and $3.5 million to expand the Pre-Kindergarten Pilot. · Integration of the NL English School District into the provincial government is on track for the start of the upcoming school year.

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