Nova Scotia Progressive Conservative leader Tim Houston says his party has plans to reform health care in the province, but it comes with a heavy price.
Houston on Thursday released her party’s Costing Electoral Platform, a document focused primarily on health care, the economy, the environment and education.
While the plan is to balance the books in six years, there are a lot of new expenses before that happens. The Tories will spend $553 million in the first year to meet their commitments, which would put the overall provincial deficit to more than $1 billion if they form government on Aug.
“After years of neglect, health care will be expensive to fix,” Houston told reporters in Halifax.
Health care spending accounts for the lion’s share of that $553 million — about $430 million. This includes previously discussed plans to start building 2,500 new single long-term care beds, provide better access to universal mental health services, and attract more doctors.
Part of that plan would include the creation of a pension scheme for doctors. Contributions from the province will depend on how many years a doctor has worked in Nova Scotia, but the Tories estimate the government’s plan would cost the government about $6 million annually.
The party is promising a tax credit of up to $8,000 annually for people seeking fertility treatment, for a total of $20,000. And for those on a waiting list to get to a family doctor, Houston said a Tory government would cover the cost of getting them to the doctor via telehealth.
New streams of revenue would be needed to pay for these services.
The Tories will introduce a new estate tax levy for those who own property here but do not pay personal income tax in Nova Scotia.
The levy would be $2 per $100 appraisal. There will also be a new deed transfer tax premium of an additional five per cent on the sale of any such asset. The measures are expected to generate about $150 million annually.
In an effort to increase the housing supply, Houston said his party will tender available Nova Scotia land properties to develop affordable housing and residential housing options. The provincial agency oversees the treatment and redevelopment of Crown-owned properties.
To create more jobs and keep and attract workers, the Tories are promising no personal income tax for people under 30 working in trades that earned their first $50,000. The Tories will subsidize the installation of satellite Internet service for people who do not have access to coverage in their area.
On the environment, the Tories are pledging to introduce new legislation to ensure reaching 80 percent renewable energy use by 2030, increasing land and water conservation to 20 percent by 2030, and ensuring environmental goals and climate change reduction goals.
There are also plans to make at least 30 percent of cars sold by 2030 zero-emissions and to fund half the cost of installation for electric vehicle chargers. All new provincial buildings will be required to be net-zero.
The Tories are appealing to rural voters to promise to double the budget for rural road work and create a fund to repair local rinks.
Federal child care deal to be honored
On education, the party will incorporate curriculum focusing on civics, financial literacy and healthy living, as well as provide more diversity training for teachers and implement all of the outstanding recommendations from the 2018 report on inclusion. More seats will also be created in the high school based trade program.
While the party said it would modernize the school board model, officials backed down on promising the return of elected board members.
Although the platform does not include any concrete measures targeted at child care, Houston said it would target a recently signed agreement between the federal and provincial governments to reach $10-per-day daycare if they form the government. Will build
“I have no interest in taking this province back in any way,” he said. “We’re not going to rest anything. We’re looking to improve what’s in front of us.”
Houston is also promising fixed election dates and the power to make orders for the province’s secrecy commissioner. The latter is a promise past political leaders, including former Prime Minister Stephen McNeill, have made but never executed.
The NDP has already released a 10-year outlook for its vision for the province, with plans to release a cost-effective platform later in the campaign. Meanwhile, liberals are setting their stage throughout the campaign. Liberal leader Ian Rankin has so far declined to give details of the five major planks of that platform.