January 31, 2021: Support for mental health

On Thursday, Canadians showed their support for one another and for mental health awareness by participating in #BellLetsTalk.

People shared their difficult and darkest moments, in hopes that their experiences would give comfort to others who are struggling.

The strength and courage it takes for one to share and be vulnerable is commendable. I thank everyone who participated for helping foster this much needed discussion.

By talking about addictions and mental health, we are all helping to reduce the stigma.

There’s more work to be done, and we know that after talking and listening, action is needed. If you take one thing away from this week’s email, I hope it’s that I’m personally committed to helping Nova Scotians when it comes to addictions and mental health. Read about my commitment to action by clicking here.

What else happened this week:

  • Friday’s announcement of additional long-term care beds is welcome, but overdue and insufficient. There are roughly 1,500 people waiting for a long-term care bed. The fact is, investments in long-term care were needed years ago. They were needed before COVID-19, and were needed when more money was devoted to feeding prisoners than was devoted to feeding seniors. Read my full statement here.
  • Last week, Zach Churchill, Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development said that he expected the data on school ventilation systems to be made available early this week. The week has passed and Nova Scotians have no further assurance that their children, the staff and the teachers in their communities have safe air quality in their schools. Education Critic Tim Halman has been bringing attention to this and will continue to do so.
  • Infrastructure projects and spending are critical to our communities, our tourism and our economy. These investments are even more critical now with the obvious need to stimulate the economy. The reason the province releases a five-year plan is to give Nova Scotians confidence that roads, highways and paving projects are based on community needs, infrastructure improvements and safety, not politics. Earlier in the week, the government released upcoming projects. The Minister responsible acknowledged that a new Premier is just around the corner and that they might do things differently. I, along with your PC team, will be watching if any road projects get put on the backburner. Argyle-Barrington MLA Colton LeBlanc called on Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Lloyd Hines to explain why Highway 103 - Exit 32 is not included in the Five-Year Highway Improvement Plan, when he already committed to doing so during March 2020 budget estimates. The Minister needs to explain this decision to local residents.
  • This week, I was invited by Jordi Morgan, who is guest-hosting The Rick Howe Show, to talk about issues facing Nova Scotia. I loved taking calls from Nova Scotians and I look forward to doing it again. In the meantime, take a listen here.

Tip of the hat

Really great news coming out of the film industry here in Nova Scotia. Halifax-shot series Diggstown has been acquired by FOX for broadcasting in the United States.

I’ve had the opportunity to tour the set and meet some of the actors — congratulations to creator Floyd Kane and the whole team.

I’ve said it before but I will say it again: our film industry is so important to the economy. I’ve made the pitch to government before that we have to take every advantage of our film industry and that one way to showcase our beauty and amazing, unique experiences is through our film industry. Nova Scotia has been the site of some incredible television and movie productions.

We must do everything we can to support the industry. Our low COVID cases have made us a destination for upcoming productions, and I wish all success to Diggstown and other in-progress productions.

Failing grade

On September 26, 2019, the Premier said the following:

“Mr. Speaker, in accordance with Rule 43(1), I am making a motion for an emergency debate on climate change. This is an issue that is important to all members of this House and, indeed, all Nova Scotians.

We have seen this issue take the forefront of the global community, and it is important for Nova Scotians to be recognized for the work they have already done, but also for all of us in this House to recognize there is way more work for us as a province to do.

I ask that the business of the House be set aside to deal with this urgent matter.”

Sixteen months later at a Committee of the Legislature, we find out that a roundtable on environment and sustainable prosperity, meant to advise the Minister of Environment, is mostly vacant. It has 15 positions, and 12 vacancies. That's despite 55 people putting their names forward for consideration.


It’s easy to have the sound bites, and it’s easy to stand at a podium and make promises, but if you don’t actively work on achieving them, they are merely empty promises.

There’s no reason for this roundtable not to be fully staffed and advising the Minster. Everyone has shifted to working from home and embracing technology. This roundtable could have been doing the same.

It’s shameful, and I’m glad our Environment Critic and committee member, MLA Brad Johns, has been there to call it out and encourage the Minister to fill these vacant positions right away.


On Tuesday, the Standing Committee on Community Services meets to discuss Phasing Out Adult Residential Centre and Regional Rehabilitation Centre Facilities. The witness is Tracey Taweel – Deputy Minister from the Department of Community Services.

On Wednesday, the Public Accounts Committee will meet to set the agenda.

Until next week,