Provincial government writes off $15.2M in debts, uncollected fees

Provincial government writes off $15.2M in debts, uncollected fees

Defaulted student loans and uncollectable legal fines top the list of $15.2 million worth of items the provincial government is writing off for the 2016-17 fiscal year.

The Finance Department released the annual list on Friday made up of debts unlikely to be collected on account of reasons such as bankruptcy, death or property foreclosure.

Outstanding fines from the Justice Department totalled $3.3 million, while defaulted student loans through the Advanced Education Department came in at a little more than $3 million. A department spokeswoman said the majority of the upaid student loans have been in collections for at least four years.

Jobs Fund legacy

At $4.9 million, the Business Department had the most writeoffs, mainly associated with the now-defunct Jobs Fund. Although the Liberals ended the fund after they were elected in 2013, the government must still manage pre-existing agreements.

The total includes:

- $512,454 for Blue Wave Seafoods Inc.

- $1 million for the N.S. Business Co-operative Council/Connecting People for Health Co-operative Ltd.

- $617,498 for Scotian Halibut Ltd.

Above-average number of writeoffs

Other major writeoffs include $2.4 million at the Health Department for uncollected ambulance fees and $1.5 million through the Agriculture Department, which includes the provincial farm loan board and fisheries and aquaculture loan board.

The  $15.2 million total for 2016-17 is up from the 10-year average of $13.9 million.