Government released the public accounts for the 2016-17 fiscal year today, July 27. The annual public accounts report the actual financial results at the end of the fiscal year and compare them to the budget approved at the beginning of the year. A set of three volumes of accountability documents for taxpayers, the public accounts includes consolidated financial statements of the province, financial information of departments, financial statements of Crown corporations and funds, and departmental details about salaries, payments to suppliers, travel and other expenses. The audited financial statements for the year ended March 31, 2017, show a surplus of 149.6 million, $22.2 million higher than the budgeted surplus of $127.4 million and an improvement of $162.8 million over the prior year’s deficit. “The year-end surplus is the result of government working with Nova Scotians to create a more sustainable financial position,” said Karen Casey, Minister of Finance and Treasury Board. “Sticking to our plan has allowed us the ability to invest in our communities, our youth, health care and education systems, research and post-secondary sectors, and in provincial infrastructure – the priorities of Nova Scotians.” As included in the 2016-17 budget, government made investments in health care and education, opportunities for growth, such as connecting youth to more co-op and postgraduate job opportunities, and funding for Canada 150 events in communities across the province. Favourable conditions in 2016-17 also allowed for additional investments for community projects, energy efficiency programming, and the post-secondary, research and innovation sectors. Total consolidated revenues were $11.23 billion, an increase of $62.3 million from the budget, primarily due to higher than expected provincial recoveries and net income from government business enterprises, which were partially offset by lower than expected tax revenue. Total consolidated expenses were $11.08 billion, an increase of $40.2 million from the budget, mainly due to contributions to universities and the Nova Scotia Research Trust, costs for fall floods and winter snowstorms, and the requirement to record additional liabilities for contaminated sites. These increases were partially offset by various operating savings throughout departments as well as savings from pension valuation adjustment and debt servicing costs. Year-end additional appropriations total $13.4 million mainly due to increased funding for university operating grants, additional funds required to meet the increased need for snow removal and ice control due to winter conditions, recognition of a provincial loan guarantee claim related to the Nova Scotia Strategic Opportunities Fund Incorporated, an increase in allowance for bad debts on loans issued by the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, and funding required for government’s contribution to benefit plans. Net debt was $14.95 billion, a decrease of $121 million. Net debt-to-GDP for 2016-17 was reduced to 36.4 per cent, which is trending in the right direction to meet the One Nova Scotia goal of reducing net debt-to-GDP to 30 per cent by 2024. “Our fiscal plan is an essential building block for a stronger Nova Scotia that creates new jobs for young Nova Scotians and more opportunity for the middle class,” said Ms. Casey. Auditor General Michael Pickup has provided an unqualified opinion of the public accounts for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2017. Government has published the Public Accounts Volume 1, containing the consolidated financial statements for the province, Volume 2 – Entities and Funds, and Volume 3 – Supplementary Information, as required by the Finance Act and other provincial legislation. Government entities also released details of compensation over $100,000 for individuals as required by the Public Sector Compensation Disclosure Act. The documents are online at www.novascotia.ca/finance.