I was saddened to hear the news that Donald Sobey passed away.
Donald will be remembered for his successful business career, support for countless organizations and his passion for the arts. Donald never forgot where he came from, and was always proud to call Pictou County home.
My prayers are with Beth, his children and the entire family.
What else happened this week:
I, along with my colleagues, MLA Brian Comer and MLA John Lohr, introduced three pieces of legislation that continue to build on our commitment to Universal Mental Health Care. Nova Scotians have been honest and open about their mental health struggles and have been demanding better services, even before COVID-19. With the pandemic and isolation taking a significant toll on too many, the PC Party of Nova Scotia wants to ensure that mental health services are available to everyone, regardless of circumstance.
- MLA Larry Harrison asked a question to the Minister of Health and Wellness about Emergency Room closures and doctor shortages in Colchester County. Nova Scotians continue to do their part to keep one another safe. With loosened restrictions, people are starting to look around and notice that the problems we had before the pandemic are still with us—like ongoing Emergency Department closures. There was a two-day closure of the ED at Eastern Shore Memorial Hospital and the Musquodoboit Valley Memorial Hospital, and it’s because of the doctor shortage. It doesn’t just stop at the ER closures. When you layer in the ambulance response times, what has developed is an emergency medicine desert that covers Musquodoboit Harbour to Truro to Sherbrooke (and many other regions). We know that patient outcomes suffer the longer an emergency patient waits to see a doctor. It’s totally unacceptable.
- Tory finance critic Murray Ryan says a new promotion from the Atlantic Lottery Corporation amounts to dropping breadcrumbs in front of people who wouldn't otherwise choose to gamble. In January, our critic for Mental Health, MLA John Lohr, wrote to the Minister of Finance to express grave concern that the Crown corporation was considering taking the casino business to the internet with high-stakes online gambling. It’s dangerous. Gambling is a serious addiction that has plagued families from every corner of this province. Making it easier for new people to gamble and those already struggling with addiction during a pandemic is wrong. Potentially increasing the likelihood that they will do so by sending out mass promotions is incredibly concerning.
Tip of the hat
Commercial flights to and from Cape Breton were suspended on January 11th due to the pandemic. This week, I was thrilled to hear that flights will resume! This is welcome news from both Westjet and Air Canada for the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport and all Cape Bretoners.
This is a great first step in reestablishing connections and commerce in Nova Scotia.
A great next step would be setting up testing at airports. We know that the virus comes into our province via travel and in order for Nova Scotia to continue to fight COVID-19, government must set up testing sites at our airports.
The budget was tabled on Thursday. It is a mile long and an inch deep! The more you dig down, the more you will find there is a lot missing.
This isn’t a budget that aims to provide solutions. It aims to grab headlines.
With very few exceptions, this budget won’t offer hope to Nova Scotians who have felt left behind—or let down—for the last eight years.
My first few questions to the Premier after the budget was tabled were on long-term care and mental health because they really missed the mark. COVID-19 has shone a light on many gaps within our society. Two of those gaps have been how we treat our seniors and how the government hasn’t kept up with investments in mental healthcare.
For example, in the budget, Liberals claim they’re announcing 236 long-term care beds, but those beds were already previously announced. Meanwhile we have over 1,500 people in the province waiting for a long-term care bed. This doesn’t begin to scratch the surface.
Another example of how the government continues failing to invest in long-term care is Roseway Manor. In Thursday’s budget, there was no mention of Roseway Manor in Shelburne despite this government's 2014 commitment to replace the facility. The building is failing seniors: uneven floors make it difficult for residents to navigate, buckets catch water from leaky pipes, and a single washroom can be shared by four residents of different genders.
The MLA for the area, Kim Masland, continues to advocate to get funding to replace this facility. The Minister says he hasn’t been briefed on the dire situation of the facility.
The Law Amendments Committee will be held virtually using Zoom on Monday at 9:00 a.m.
At that meeting, the following Bills will be considered:
Bill No. 1 – Police Identity Management Act
Bill No. 4 – Biodiversity Act
Bill No. 9 – Crown Lands Act (amended)
Bill No. 23 – Adoption Records Act
The Committee will also meet by video conference on Wednesday at 9 a.m. to consider the following bills:
Bill No. 28 - Land Titles Initiative Acceleration Act
Bill No. 47 - Municipal Government Act (amended) and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (amended)
Bill No. 50 - Municipal Government Act (amended) and Halifax Regional Municipality Charter (amended)
I encourage all Nova Scotians who have an opinion on any of this proposed legislation to please sign up and have your say. Click here if you’re interested. The Premier is saying that his government is making changes to the Biodiversity Act, but will not share the amendments in advance. Law Amendments is far less effective when you don’t know what the bill looks like. I hope that the Premier changes his mind and releases the amendments prior to the meeting.
The standing committee on Human Resources will meet Tuesday to make appointments to agencies, boards and commissions.
Until next week,