Nova Scotia spent $8.3 million on provincial day of mourning for Queen Elizabeth

HALIFAX — The official day of mourning to mark Queen Elizabeth’s death, during which Nova Scotia schools and courts were closed and public sector workers got a paid holiday, cost the province $8.3 million.

Finance Minister Allan MacMaster said Thursday the provincial holiday came with a cost, but he said many Nova Scotians felt that marking a day to honour the queen's life and service was fitting.

"I know not everyone would have agreed with the idea of a holiday … but depending on who you ask, I think a lot of Nova Scotians would have felt that was the right thing to do," MacMaster said.

Despite schools and courts closing for the day of the queen's funeral — Sept. 19 — health-care services remained open and businesses were given the choice to open or close. The province said the holiday pay in the health-care and long-term care networks cost roughly $7.1 million.

It cost Nova Scotia's Justice Department and Department of Community Services a combined $1.2 million in extra expenses.

The cost for the day of mourning was not the only unplanned government expense the Finance Department shared Thursday during its budget update.

The finance minister said Nova Scotia's deficit is set to increase by $48 million compared to the estimate in the March budget, bringing the total expected deficit to $554.2 million. Expenses are up by $110.8 million, driven by $97.1 million in increased department spending. MacMaster said the increase is largely due to COVID-19-related health costs and other expenses related to long-term care and justice.

The province spent an additional $19.9 million on nurses from out of province to work in long-term care homes. It also spent an extra $10.4 million on the public inquiry into the Nova Scotia mass shooting.

The Health Department's spending is forecast to be $93.5 million over budget, largely due to $89.9 million in additional COVID-19-related costs, which include testing and personal protective equipment.

The extra spending is partially offset by an expected boost in Nova Scotia's total revenue, which is projected to hit $12.7 billion. This is up $71.8 million compared to the spring budget.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Sept. 29, 2022.

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This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

The Canadian Press