February 28, 2021: Federal government letting Atlantic Canada down

I’m saddened to hear that Stanfield’s has had to lay off over 150 of their employees.

These aren't just job numbers. They represent people getting up and going to work every day. In this case, these were people supporting Canadian frontline health workers during a global pandemic.

When it was discovered that the federal government did not have a sufficient stockpile of personal protective equipment to protect nurses and doctors across Canada, it was Stanfield’s and their employees that got to work making more.

Nova Scotians - and specifically Stanfield's - were among the first companies to step up. By ignoring Atlantic Canada, I feel the federal government is letting them down.

MLA Dave Ritcey has reached out to the area MP to find out why the federal tender was awarded to another province. This has left these hardworking Stanfield’s employees who supported our frontline healthcare workers during a global pandemic without jobs.

What else happened:

  • I am disappointed that, despite MLA Colton LeBlanc making a request to the Health Committee Chair Ben Jessome for an emergency meeting on ambulance service over a week ago, the Chair took his time acknowledging the request, didn’t poll members and decided that this request can wait until the Committee sets the agenda next time. This is a situation that needs immediate attention and the government should recognize that.
  • Under the current government, getting Nova Scotians access to affordable housing has been a departmental hot potato. With three Ministers and three Deputy Ministers responsible for the housing file since 2019, PC MLA and Housing Critic Steve Craig says the lack of results is related to the lack of leadership. The topic was discussed at the Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee this week. MLAs Steve and Dave Ritcey were present and engaging in solutions for medium and long-term plans. The housing crisis is not just a Halifax issue, it’s all over the province.
  • MLA Colton LeBlanc discussed the new cabinet, our Caucus listening to Nova Scotians, presenting our healthcare plans and “Code Critical” this week on Radio-Canada en français. Listen here/Écoutez-ici.

Tip of the hat

This week, we learned that in the province’s nearly $100 million of spending on the Yarmouth ferry, at least $3.5 million has been paid to the operator over the last three years to operate a ferry that has not carried a single passenger.

That’s nearly $100,000 a month. Month after month. And over a million dollars a year.

It was ultimately Bay Ferries - not the Liberal government - that disclosed the $1.17 million annual guaranteed payment. I tip my hat to the company for agreeing with the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, and disagreeing with the Liberal government, by releasing the management fee.

Failing grade

Not one province in Canada mandates teaching students about sex trafficking, even though schools are prime targets for perpetrators.

This came to light when the Globe and Mail published an article that surveyed all provinces and territories and found that there are some ongoing efforts to teach students about sex trafficking, but they are inconsistent.

Human trafficking is a problem in Nova Scotia. Numbers released from Statistics Canada in June show that Nova Scotia is one of the worst provinces, along with Ontario, for human trafficking. Both provinces have rates higher than the national average. Nova Scotia, which accounts for three percent of the overall Canadian population but six percent of all human trafficking incidents, was the only other province or territory to be overrepresented in this manner. It ruins lives.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick is a major human trafficking corridor. Truro is considered a hub for human trafficking due to its location between Halifax and Moncton, along with its high rates of poverty, addiction and lack of affordable housing according to the executive director of the Colchester Sexual Assault Centre.

We must do better. MLA Karla MacFarlane has been bringing awareness to the issue for years, and introduced three pieces of legislation that would help to protect our children. We have a responsibility to take action to protect them from human trafficking. Survivors have suffered for far too long and have endured far too much without appropriate resources. The results are devastating.

Karla will be re-introducing a private member’s bill that proposes making lessons about sex trafficking mandatory for students in Grades 7 to 9 when we get back to the Legislature.


On Tuesday, Community Services will meet to discuss Overrepresentation of Black and Indigenous People In the Justice System. The following witnesses are scheduled to appear: the Department of Justice; Emma Halpern, Executive Director with the Elizabeth Fry Society of Mainland Nova Scotia; and Vanessa Fells, Coordinator of the African Nova Scotian Decade for People of African Descent Coalition.

Until next week,