Health care advocates are generally happy with the NS budget.

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Health care advocates are generally happy with the Houston government’s proposed health spending announced in Tuesday’s budget.

The 2022-2023 budget provides $5.7 billion for health services, an increase of $413.4 million from last year.

Doctors Nova Scotia called it a step towards a better future.

“Competitive compensation and a supportive work environment promote both physician recruitment and retention,” said Dr. Alana Patterson, director of physician compensation.

Patterson said she was also encouraged by the plan to manage waiting lists and surgical backlogs.

The province announced:

  • $17.5 million to perform 2,500 more surgeries, increase operating room hours and add 28 beds and staff to Dartmouth General Hospital.
  • $2.1 million to address the backlog of surgeries caused by COVID-19 at the IWK Health Center and $597,000 to increase operating room capacity in Cape Breton.

The Nova Scotia Nurses Union is also pleased with what it calls a “significant investment,” particularly in long-term care. The province will spend $3.2 million to create 200 new nursing spaces at Cape Breton University, Dalhousie University, St. Francis Xavier University and Nova Scotia Community College.

“We have a lot of vacancies, so we have jobs for these people when they graduate,” union president Janet Hazelton said.

The dean of Dalhousie’s health faculty also supported the move.

No longer needed for mental health causes

“We are thrilled that with this increase in enrollment comes additional resources to support our faculty and nursing staff,” Dr. Brenda Merritt wrote in an email to CBC News.

The budget includes $20.6 million in additional spending for mental health initiatives.

The head of the Nova Scotia branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association said more needs to be done to tackle the issues that cause mental health problems in the first place.

“Things like housing, access to food, access to education, all those things that determine our overall mental health,” Karn Nichols said.

She pointed out that $32 million is spent on affordable housing, but $500 million is needed over 10 years to make up for the shortage of 33,000 units needed.

Tax credit for fertility and surrogacy

Meanwhile, Carolynn Dubé of Fertility Matters Canada is delighted with the $3 million for a refundable fertility and surrogacy tax refund to help offset the costs.

One in six Nova Scotians needs fertility services. The cost of each IVF cycle is $20,000 and most people need more than one cycle. Surrogacy can cost $60,000.

Dubé said that means some people can’t even afford to try for a baby.

“What I loved seeing is that people can access the tax credit annually, up to $8,000, and there’s no lifetime maximum. It will have a big impact,” Dubé said.