HALIFAX – Nova Scotia’s finance minister estimates the province is going to have to add at least $125 million to its debt to maintain roads, schools and other infrastructure in 2014-15.
Diana Whelan released the province’s capital spending plans Monday, with about half of the $535 million targeted at highways, bridges and other structures, such as dykes, around the province.
The government says the provincial debt stands at almost $14 billion.
Whelan recently released a budget forecast showing the province has fallen deeply into the red, with a deficit figure of $481.7 million for 2013-14.
The new Liberal finance minister said she asked officials whether Nova Scotia can afford to replace and repair infrastructure over the next few years.
The alternative, she said, would mean crumbling infrastructure and deteriorating buildings.
“If we maintain our spending at that rate we’ll be looking after what we’ve got,” she said.
Whalen said the province is optimistic that jobs created by capital spending will help stimulate the economy.
There are more than 100 projects planned by the province for the next fiscal year, with most determined by priority lists set by various government departments.
The list includes $81.5 million for 10 new schools and alterations to 18 others.
Health authorities will receive about $27.1 million for facility construction and repairs, as well as the replacement of medical equipment and computer upgrades.
The Transportation Department is planning $250.8 million for work on highways, bridges and other structures.
The 2014-15 capital budget projection is about $10 million higher than the most recent forecast of $525 million for repairs, purchases and replacements in 2013-14.