N.S. consolidates inspections in cost-cutting budget

Nova Scotia is set to gather its agricultural, environmental and public health inspection work into one department, along with other consolidation and cuts in its latest budget.

Finance Minister Diana Whalen’s 2015-16 budget, released Thursday, calls for consolidation of inspection, compliance and enforcement functions in its Natural Resources, Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment departments, plus its health department’s public health inspectors, into a single division in the Environment department.

The shift, to take effect July 1, “will unify inspection and enforcement activities and allow resource departments to focus on sector growth rather than policing activities,” she said.

Among the major consolidations, Whalen announced the province’s department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism will be eliminated “immediately” and its work consolidated into a department of Business, to be led by Business Minister Mark Furey.

The Business department’s role, Whalen said, will be to focus on “creating the most positive business environment to strategically promote business growth at all levels and regions in Nova Scotia.”

The new focus, she said, “will be extremely beneficial for innovation and growth in our rural economy as the responsible use and development of our natural resources — together with tourism — are among our best opportunities for renewed prosperity in rural Nova Scotia.”

Among other cuts and consolidations, Nova Scotia Lands and the Crown-operated Waterfront Development Corp. will be merged “to eliminate duplication of function,” and the province’s land registry offices will be consolidated into five locations, “to reflect increased online use.”

The consolidations are part of a group of “structural changes” in Nova Scotia’s government, expected to save $42.7 million in total and eliminate about 320 full-time equivalent jobs.

Tax credit

Agriculture department spending, in all, is expected to come in at about $61.54 million in 2015-16, up from $60.97 million in the 2014-15 budget but down from the current forecast for ag department spending of $73.13 million in 2014-15.

Among related spending, the Crown liquor corporation has budgeted for added support for craft distillers starting this month, plus additional financial support in 2015-16 for “bottled in Nova Scotia” wine products.

Among other line items of interest to the ag sector, retroactive to Jan. 1, the province’s Capital Investment Tax Credit will allow a 15 per cent refundable corporate income tax credit for capital equipment acquired for use in the province, if part of a capital project that exceeds $15 million in total cost.

The province said the tax credit, worth $31.4 million in 2015-16, will be available to corporations “primarily in the manufacturing and processing, farming, fishing, and logging sectors.” — AGCanada.com Network


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