Finally! A light at the end of this long, long tunnel! On Wednesday, Canada became the second western country, after the United Kingdom, to approve the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Health Canada applied its stringent safety, efficacy and quality requirements and this vaccine stood up to the rigorous approval process.
Canada is set to receive doses of the vaccine as early as next week. Thank you to every scientist and researcher who has worked tirelessly over the past year, and thank you to those at Health Canada who have worked on approving a safe vaccine for Canadians.
What else happened this week:
- On Tuesday, the Health Committee met to discuss the ongoing work of organ and tissue donation in Nova Scotia. The Human Organ and Tissue Donation Act will come into effect on January 18, 2021. Nova Scotia will be the first jurisdiction in North America with presumed consent for human organ and tissue donation. There were many concerns expressed during the meeting around the lack of public and healthcare workers’ awareness of the changes to the program. I was pleased to see PC MLAs Colton LeBlanc and Barbara Adams pass a motion requesting that the Health Minister ramp up public education efforts on this initiative. The success of the program—for all Nova Scotians—depends on public education.
- PC MLAs Brian Comer and Steve Craig brought concerns to the Standing Committee on Community Services. They passed a motion requesting critical information related to bed capacity in Nova Scotia’s emergency and temporary shelters, unmet demand for emergency and temporary shelters, provincial capital and operational spending estimates for emergency and temporary shelters and any other funding being provided by the government. Housing Minister Chuck Porter now must provide that information.
- As a tough year draws to a close, now is the time to embrace the Christmas spirit and give to those who are struggling this year. I’m so proud of my colleagues who are taking part in giving back to the community. From Northside - Westmount MLA Murray Ryan working the Salvation Army Christmas Kettle at Walmart in North Sydney, to Queens-Shelburne MLA Kim Masland partnering with the Queens RCMP detachment to gather donations for the Queens County Food Bank, all of our MLAs are participating in giving back this season, and I thank them for that.
Tip of the hat
Earlier this year, the PC Caucus presented our vision for Universal Mental Health Care in Nova Scotia. An important part of that vision is the establishment of an 9-8-8 crisis line for those in need of immediate mental health services. Members of Parliament unanimously supported and recognized the need for the three-digit crisis line on Friday.
9-8-8 will be life changing. No one has time to remember a 10-digit number at a time of crisis. Whether you look at the statistics of those who have struggled with mental health or listen to our loved ones and neighbours who tell us that they or someone they know has experienced issues related to their mental health, the time is right to act.
Mental health care IS health care, and access to mental health care is a right, not a privilege.
The news that Air Canada is suspending all service to and from J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport is devastating.
The CEO for the airport, Mike MacKinnon, was quoted as saying the move is “...effectively the final nail in the coffin for air service to/from our community for the foreseeable future.”
Not only do airports reunite families and friends, and act as the first step in your adventure, they also provide good jobs for hard-working Nova Scotians and are key to a thriving economy.
It’s difficult to lose a job anytime of year, but it’s especially difficult to get the news during the holiday season.
The other aspect to this news is the impact it will have on rotational workers who live in Cape Breton. Rotational workers had an already challenging time during COVID-19 trying to spend time with family during their two-week rotation, having to quarantine, and not being provided with regular COVID-19 testing. Now rotational workers from Cape Breton are given the added stress of finding a way home.
Our province’s economic recovery must prioritize airports and ensure they have the right resources and adequate safety measures, including COVID-19 testing.
The Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development will meet Tuesday. The topic is lead in the ground water: provincial testing and notification regime.
Witnesses include Scott Farmer, Deputy Minister; Andrew Murphy, Executive Director, Sustainability and Applied Sciences; and Elizabeth Kennedy, Director, Water Branch, all from Nova Scotia Environment.
There will be an agenda sitting meeting of the Standing Committee for Veterans Affairs on Tuesday.
Lastly, I would like to extend my deepest condolences to the MacLeod family. To Brian and the kids, Irene inspired me every time we spoke. She was an extraordinary woman with passion and drive. On behalf of the PC Party, please know we are all thinking of you during this difficult time.
Until next week,