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Provincial budget reports: Atlantic Canada

Two per cent cap on tuition increase in Nova Scotia announced.


As the new fiscal year gets underway, Canadian provinces and territories have rolled out their spending plans for 2024-25. University Affairs scoured each of the budget documents and extracted what has been earmarked for the higher education sector. Below is a summary of what the university communities in the Atlantic provinces should know. We have also done budget summaries of Ontario and Quebec, the western provinces and Yukon, as well as the Prairies.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick’s government, led by the Progressive Conservative party, tabled its budget on March 19. The government will spend $534 million on postsecondary education with the province’s four publicly funded universities receiving a total of $295 million in operational funding. The budget also announced:

  • $70.5 million in student financial assistance, a decrease of $5.5 million from last year
  • $2.2 million in capital maintenance for universities and the Maritime College of Forest Technology

Newfoundland and Labrador

On March 21, the Newfoundland and Labrador government presented its latest budget. The province, led by the Liberal party, is expected to spend $421.6 million on postsecondary education in 2024-25, a 7.5 per cent increase from the year prior.

In 2021, the provincial government announced it would cut Memorial University’s grant by a total of $68.4 million over five years. That same year, the province’s only publicly funded university announced it would end its 22-year-long tuition freeze. Since then, in-province student tuition has risen from $2,550 to $6,240.

Notable announcements in this year’s budget include:

  • Memorial will receive $298 million in its operating grant, a reduction of $8 million from what it received in 2023-24
  • The university’s faculty of medicine will receive an additional $76 million this year through the department of health to increase its number of domestic student spots by 10
  • Memorial will also receive almost $5 million for infrastructure improvements and equipment
  • The province has also provided $5.5 million in funding for a new policy that would increase adult access to literacy programing, some of which will go to postsecondary institutions

Neil Bose, interim president of Memorial, said the budget did not include any surprises for the university and that there is no intention to change the tuition structure for students. The student union, meanwhile, has called the budget “extremely disappointing,” saying the cuts will be deeply felt by students.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservative government put forward its budget for the year on February 29. The province is expected to spend $726 million in 2024-25 on advanced education, a $32 million increase from its 2023-24 estimate. Grants to universities have increased by $7.2 million, only a 1.5 per cent increase from last year.

The province and its 10 publicly funded universities entered into a new memorandum of understanding that began April 1 and will see provincial funding tied to specific outcomes. The 2024-25 agreement includes a two per cent cap on tuition increases for Nova Scotian undergraduate students, down from the three per cent cap imposed last year. The universities will also be required to fill 97 per cent of health program seats, develop an international student “sustainability plan,” and reduce administrative expenses by five per cent this year. International student tuition must be raised by a minimum of nine per cent (Dalhousie and Cape Breton University are exempted), according to the MOUs, and universities in Halifax and Cape Breton will need to increase student housing.

The budget allocates:

  • $1.8 million for Acadia University’s nursing program, which is a satellite of CBU
  • $1 million for CBU to expand teacher training
  • $637,000 to expand nursing programs at CBU, Dalhousie and St. Francis Xavier University
  • $340,000 to create additional paid internship opportunities for postsecondary students through Mitacs


The council of Nova Scotia university presidents characterized the one-year funding agreement as a “serious blow” to the sector  that  will cause unnecessary financial hardship for many universities. CONSUP Chair David Dingwall  noted that  the universities had no opportunity to consult on the funding plan after they were led to believe there would be a consultation and negotiation process. “The Minister decided on an approach that undermines any sense of partnership, collaboration or vision for the future of one of the province’s most strategically important sectors.” CONSUP has not yet commented on the budget publicly.

In a statement to CBC News about the 2024-25 budget, Dalhousie President Kim Brooks said that the university had been planning a tighter budget this year, but that financial decisions had now become “a little more difficult.”

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island’s Progressive Conservative party government released its budget on February 29. The province will spend $109 million on postsecondary and continuing education in 2024-25.

The budget allocates:

  • $56.5 million in operating grants to the University of Prince Edward Island, a 14 per cent increase from 2024-25
  • $9.9 million for UPEI’s planned medical school
  • $940,000 to increase the George Coles Bursary to $3,200
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