Taking care of the priorities

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Taking care of the basics – that’s pretty much what government should be about. But looks like it takes a bare cupboard for it to happen.

With the province of Nova Scotia severely in debt – to about $14 billion at last count – the government is still considering adding to this year’s deficit. But at least the to-do list is stacked up with things that need to be done.

Finance Minister Diane Whelan said recently that the province would need to add $125 million to its debt to upgrade such priorities as highways, bridge, schools and structures such as dykes.

The updated figures as released recently in the budget update a week ago put the 2013-14 deficit at $481.7 million. That’s a substantial amount lined up against the overall debt, and particularly unnerving after the former government had forecast a slim surplus. On the list is $250.8 million for work on highways, bridges and other structures.

But on the other hand, what Nova Scotian who has driven any back road lately hasn’t clenched their teeth trying to get from point A to B?

And let’s not get started about health care waits and the needs for such structures as schools. The shopping list includes $81.5 million for 10 new schools and alterations to 18 others. About $27.1 million is being targeted toward such needs as medical equipment and computer upgrades. Burdensome as that comes across, it’s pretty hard to argue with these public expenditures.

That sort of investment in infrastructure, as we like we call it, is brought into the conversation often when regretful additions to the debt are pondered.

Municipalities as well find themselves under the strain of financing upgrades and constantly need to toil over the figures upon receiving such proceeds as the share in GST benefits.

It’s hardly like a Christmas gift to ourselves, with the sum total placed on a credit card, and we certainly hope to see the balance improve, but the items named are impossible to avoid.

 

Geographic location: Nova Scotia

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