This Week in the Legislature

October 18: Tensions rising

 

On Thursday, I toured Eastern Passage with MLA Barbara Adams. I had a great visit with community members, local organizations and businesses. Thank you to Seaside FM for the interview. Click here to have a listen.

What else happened this week:

  • Flu season is only weeks away and concerns are rising over access to the high dose flu vaccines. Many seniors require the high dose shot to properly combat the influenza virus. Seniors outside of long-term care homes pay out of pocket for this shot. Pharmacists have expressed concerns over the lack of access they have to the public supply of the high-dose vaccine, making it harder to secure enough access to vaccines for seniors. Thank you to the Pharmacy Association of Nova Scotia for their advocacy encouraging the government to provide the high dose vaccine to our senior population, regardless of where they reside. We’re all concerned and we will keep the pressure on the new Health Minister to address this issue immediately.
  • The Liberal government once again affirmed their culture of secrecy, by voting against a motion brought forward by MLA Tim Halman to restore the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to weekly meetings and to topics outside Auditor General reports. The Liberals’ secretive approach to how taxpayers' dollars are spent is an insult to all Nova Scotians. With Premier McNeil stepping down, the next Liberal Premier should restore Public Accounts and commit to leading a more open and transparent government. Three McNeil-era Cabinet Ministers are competing for the job: Randy Delorey, Labi Kousoulis and Iain Rankin. We’ve called on them to tell us exactly what their position is on this secrecy. An example this week that should be discussed at PAC is the fact that the liberal government is refusing to provide specific details about how $228 million in COVID-19 stimulus money is being spent in Nova Scotia. It’s so bizarre. In response to a reporter asking the simple question on transparency, the Premier snapped: “we’re not your research department.”
  • On Friday, the Liberals announced a new loan for large tourism operators. Who was left out? The local coffee shop, the diner up the street, your favourite place to hear live music; the Mom and Pop shops that make up the fabric of our province. They are struggling. I know because I’ve been touring this province listening and talking to them. Small- and medium-sized businesses, the backbone of the economy in Nova Scotia, are in survival mode and have been met—to date—with no government support. Unfortunately, with today’s announcement, there is absolutely no help for them.  I offered ideas and solutions back in May that would have helped the entire industry, not just ones that have fancy head offices.


Tip of the hat

October 15 marked Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day in Nova Scotia. A day to remember and reach out to those who have lost. The unthinkable tragedy of losing a child is a pain that far too often saw friends, family and neighbors suffer in silence.

I will always be grateful when the government passed my legislation in 2017 that proclaimed October 15 as Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. The advocacy of Paula Harmon and so many other women and families who shared their story with me will be something I will never forget, and why I continued to push for the proclamation.

Failing grade

Of course, we are all concerned about the escalation of indefensible events in our province this week.

I was worried about them a month ago. You might remember that I raised this issue in my Sunday email on September 18 detailing our calls for Minister Bernadette to do her job, show leadership, get to the table to have dialogue with all parties, bring calm, defuse the situation and seek a resolution. Unfortunately, I, along with my colleagues, have had to continue to call on her to do her job.

A month later, and look where we are.

Tensions were high a month ago. What did Minister Jordan, the Liberal government and the Prime Minister think was going to happen while they ignored this problem?

As the weeks have passed, the federal government has failed to grasp the urgency of the situation. Sadly, the Minister did not even immediately return to Nova Scotia from her Ottawa office.

It is really disappointing that she has been so hands off the file, especially given that she’s from the South Shore. She appeared on Steve Murphy this week and I was not pleased with what she had to say. Essentially, she is refusing to bring all parties to the table to hear one another and seek a solution. Now, more than ever, is the time for her to get everyone to the same table, so all sides can hear the other's perspective. And if for some reason, she is unable to get all parties to the table, that's not leadership and if she can’t get a resolution, they need to bring in someone who can.

Had she immediately returned, she would have illustrated engagement and respect that can only be expressed by sitting down with all sides, at one table, searching for common ground, calm and seeking a satisfactory resolution.

No one expects negotiations to take place in public, but everyone has the right to expect that their government is actually doing its job and is there for its people when they need it the most.

Please be assured that I have requested again on Friday that the federal government commit to meeting with all sides and provide regular communications on this matter and that the provincial government ensures that southwest Nova Scotia is a safe place without threat of violence.

Committees

On Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Veterans affairs is meeting to discuss the Poppy and Remembrance Program. Witnesses include: Royal Canadian Legion – Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command; Don McCumber, Poppy and Remembrance Chair; and Valerie Mitchell-Veinotte, Executive Director.

Also, applications for Agencies, Boards and Commissions are now being accepted. The deadline is November 23 for any Nova Scotian who wants to grow their skills, make a difference in their communities and have a say in issues that matter to them. If that sounds like something you’re interested, check out their website now and learn how you can apply to join provincial agencies, boards and commissions.

Until next week,
Tim