Since mid March and before, our province, our nation and in fact, countries around the world have been battling the COVID-19 virus. We have all seen our lives change dramatically, whether it was our employment, our access to childcare, public schools, public healthcare systems or all professionals who deliver services to our communities.
Together with strong advice from our Chief Medical Officer, Dr. Robert Strang and strong leadership from our Premier Stephen McNeil, Nova Scotians have made sacrifices and worked hard to manage this pandemic. We have been able to significantly reduce our positive cases. However, during the past four months many businesses and professional services have had to close. Restaurants, bars, lounges, recreational facilities, sports training camps and professional offices (doctors and dentists) to name a few, have been heavily and negatively impacted by this shutdown.
Borders have been closed to help contain the virus and that has been effective. However, it has greatly impacted the number of tourists who can visit our province, we are already into the second month of our tourism season.
Our province had a strong economy and had continually lived within our means through good fiscal management. We had also achieved one of the highest credit ratings and we have been able to maintain that. We are now however in a position to start re-opening our province and our economy. As we begin this process to recover from COVID-19, I have joined finance ministers from across Canada as we work together to identify the components of our restart program. This restart agreement will focus on funding to support many core areas that have been negatively impacted or that require additional support. These core areas include:
-- testing, contact tracing and data management
-- health-care capacity and mental health services and addictions
-- vulnerable populations, including long-term care facilities
-- personal protective equipment
-- early learning and child care
-- municipalities, with a proposed new public transit element
-- sick leave
Our businesses that have been negatively impacted will feel the impact for months to come. That is why federal funding to address these financial challenges is greatly appreciated. The majority of the federal funding will be allocated on a per capita basis. This will supplement our own provincial programs for small businesses so that they can work to recover from their financial losses.
As individuals, one of the best ways we can help with the economic recovery in our province is to visit our food and beverage establishments and other shops to make purchases that they so badly need. Premier McNeil’s message (stay the blazes home) was very effective in helping to manage the spread of this virus. He now wants you to get the blazes out, following public health guidelines and supporting our local businesses. We want them to survive. COVID-19 has been tough on our business community. Let’s show our support. Let’s show that we are better together.
Karen Casey, MLA