Registration is now open for our first ever virtual PC AGM! Click here to register. Remember folks, this AGM is key to our path to victory.
Remember folks, this AGM is key to our path to victory. We need to connect over the weekend to hear your feedback on the pressing issues facing our province, discuss ideas and solutions and make sure that we’re all prepared to hit the ground running when the election is called.
And believe me when I say, “We will be ready!”
What else happened this week:
- I’m pleased to report that two important Opposition motions passed at the Standing Committee of Veterans Affairs. Committee members heard from Rally Point Retreat, a facility dedicated to providing peer support for essential service members who have become PTSD bearers. There were numerous witnesses who were also at the meeting speaking in favour of the Peer Support Model. MLA Kim Malsand put forward two motions. One was that the Committee write a letter of support for Rally Point Retreat to use in their accreditation application to Peer Support Canada. Secondly, she moved that the Committee write a letter of support to the Federal Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs Canada, outlining the importance of organizations like Rally Point Retreat. Great job, Kim.
- Parents and teachers deserve to know what the Liberal government is hiding about school air quality reviews. I worry the only reason the Liberals are withholding the schools’ air quality reviews from the public is that they are embarrassed by the results. PC Education Critic, Tim Halman, has been raising the issue this week. After the Liberal Cabinet meeting on January 7, Education Minister Zach Churchill confirmed that data from school ventilation reviews was being tracked, but dodged questions about actually releasing that information. At the most recent Cabinet meeting on Thursday, the Minister had no information or data to provide reporters. What are they hiding? Parents, students and teachers deserve to know what the ventilation system is like in their school.
- MLA John Lohr wrote to Finance Minister Karen Casey to express concern that the Atlantic Lottery Corporation is considering taking the casino business to the internet with high-stakes online gambling. This is dangerous. Gambling is a serious addiction that has plagued families from every corner of this province. Making it so those struggling with addiction need look no further than their smartphone or desktop is wrong, and is certainly wrong during a pandemic. To make matters worse, the Nova Scotia government has quietly dissolved a non-profit arm's-length government organization dedicated to funding gambling prevention and research groups, moving the money to a more general mental health pool. We know that access to mental health and addictions care is few and far between in this province. I worry that without a properly resourced system in place, Nova Scotians will suffer alone.
- A few days before Christmas, it came to light that the government of Nova Scotia had contracted an American company to digitize patient health records, affecting 91 health workers across the province. On the weekend, a press release from the Nova Scotia Health Authority notified Nova Scotians that it is no longer considering a transition of the management of its electronic health records to an external vendor at this time. PC Heatthcare Critic, Karla MacFarlane, wrote to the Health Minister about this. We’re pleased to see the government listened to feedback and reversed this decision.
Tip of the hat
It’s not every day in Opposition that you’re able to get a “yes” to folks asking for help to overturn government policy, but that’s exactly what happened this weekend.
Approximately one in three Canadians suffer with mental health concerns. Unfortunately, we all know the state of our mental health system in Nova Scotia and the fact that it hasn’t been given priority. Mental health IS a priority of our PC team, which is why we released a plan that would give universal mental health coverage to every Nova Scotian.
The lack of support for mental health services was highlighted on Friday night when I was approached by a concerned citizen. Earlier in the day, the province announced it was loosening some restrictions so that our youth could resume some competitive sports and other recreational activities. The justification was that this was necessary for the mental health of our youth.
I couldn’t agree more. As a hockey parent myself, I know the positive impact team sports and competition has on our youth.
However, the individual who approached me was frustrated that, despite these changes being made to help the mental health of our youth, another key group was left off that list. Addictions and mental health support groups remained subject to the same tight restrictions that prevented many from meeting and providing the services that are so desperately needed.
It’s no secret that addictions are a source of difficulties for thousands of families across this province, and COVID-19 has amplified many of those issues.
And just as sports and cultural activities are important for the mental health of our youth, support groups also provide much needed mental health assistance to those in need.
As soon as I learned about this oversight in the new restrictions, I contacted Dr. Strang to ask for clarification as to why this group was left off the list, despite providing much-needed mental health relief to those impacted.
I am so pleased to report that after I contacted Dr. Strang, he changed the rule! As of January 25, mental health and addictions support groups are allowed to meet in groups of up to 25, with physical distancing requirements in effect.
I want to say thank you to the individual who stepped up and had the courage to speak out and identify a problem. This is a great example of grassroots politics leading to positive change.
Cancer didn’t take a break during the pandemic, so neither should cancer screening.
Yet, our PC Health Critic Karla MacFarlane continues to hear from constituents, friends and family who have not received their colon cancer screening kits since turning 50.
While the distribution of screening kits has resumed, it appears the government has failed to send kits to Nova Scotians who had birthdays in April, May, June, July, and August.
Karla has raised this issue numerous times, and rightfully so! Early detection is key. These screening kits save lives.
It’s a failure of the Minister of Health who hasn’t seemed to direct the Health Authority to send the kits to all eligible Nova Scotians. I know Karla was eager to get more information and ask the Minister a question if we had a Fall Sitting. Unfortunately, we all know that didn’t happen.
We will continue to bring any attention and awareness to this issue that we can. We’ve all been touched by cancer in some way. Nova Scotians need access to these tools.
Preventative medicine is very important. We need to equip Nova Scotians with the knowledge and resources, and the government must follow up on their commitment of distributing these kits.
For anyone who doesn’t want to wait for the government, please call 1-866-599-2267 and leave your name and address on the voicemail. You should then receive your colon cancer screening kit in the mail. This is a valuable resource. Share this information, share the number.
The Standing Committee on Human Resources will meet by video conference on Tuesday. The agenda includes: agenda setting, and agency, board and commission appointments.
Also on Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development will meet. The agenda for this meeting is discussion of a pilot program for solar electricity in community buildings.
The witness is the Deputy Minister of Energy and Mines, Simon d'Entremont.
Until next week,