An architectural rendering of what the newly re-imagined QEII could look like.

The province of Nova Scotia has released its plan to spend big money on big projects, including hospitals, roads, and schools. The Capital Plan for 2022/23 is $1.6 billion, a third again larger than the current year’s $1.2 billion budget. The capital budget released today is the largest in the province’s history.

Capital budgets cover construction and very large procurement projects. Other government expenditures are covered by the operating budget, which will be tabled March 29.

True to Premier Tim Houston’s campaign promise to focus on health care, a record $619 million is budgeted for hospital projects. (Just $309 million was allocated for hospitals in the 21/22 budget). That covers:
• $464.6 million for the QEII rebuild and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality Health Care redevelopment projects
• $122.6 million for construction, repair and upgrades of other hospitals and medical facilities
• $32 million to replace medical equipment

Spending on highway projects, totalling $507.8 million, is allocated for:
• 101  — twinning near Falmouth
• 102 — Aerotech Connector
• 103 — twinning near Ingramport
• 103 — Bridgewater interchange
• 107 — Burnside to Bedford
• 104 — twinning from Sutherlands River to Antigonish

IT spending is budgeted at $18.8 million. There’s no money in the capital budget to develop a single electronic health record — the so-called “One Person One Record” (OPOR) system continues to be elusive. Money is targeted under the IT budget for “inventory management.”

The capital budget for school projects (some new, some renos) has decreased $24 million to $175.3 million, because most of the P3 school buy-backs have been completed. Ongoing school projects include:
• Bedford High
• Bedford Ravines
• Breton Education Centre
• Clare Regional Elementary
• Clayton Park-Fairview
• Ecole Halifax Peninsula
• Ecole Wedgeport
• Glace Bay Elementary
• JL Ilsley
• Springhill Elementary
• St. Joseph-McKay Elementary
• Ecole Acadienne de Pomquet
• Parkview Amphitheatre

In response to the capital plan, Dartmouth North MLA Susan Leblanc said she is “disappointed we aren’t hearing about spending public money on public housing and on long-tern care in the capital plan.”

Leblanc said she suspects Nova Scotia isn’t going to see any public housing built and if there are any new long-term care homes built, it will be by private operators. Leblanc says publicly operated, nonprofit homes are what Nova Scotia needs.

The entire Capital Plan can be found here.

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Jennifer Henderson is a freelance journalist and retired CBC News reporter.

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