October 18-24, is Small Business Week. Small businesses are an important stitch in the fabric of our communities, and they are the backbone of Nova Scotia’s economy. This week, we celebrate the Canadian entrepreneurial spirit, and the resilience of small business owners in our province – and across the country.
2020 has brought some of the most significant global health and economic challenges in modern history. Small businesses have stepped up to the plate, not only to persevere – but also to serve and support their communities. Local entrepreneurs have sacrificed so much in an effort to keep us all safe by responding with creativity, innovation, and community spirit.
Nova Scotia Health is offering a variety of online wellness programs this fall for adults of all ages on healthy eating, physical activity, mental wellness, parenting, and reducing one’s health risks.
The wellness sessions are offered in a friendly group setting using Zoom for Healthcare, and are facilitated by health care professionals, including dietitians, physiotherapists, social workers, and occupational therapists. Most sessions are an hour in length, and generally consist of a presentation, followed by a moderated group discussion. All of the online wellness sessions are free for anyone who lives within the province; a valid Nova Scotia health card is required to register.
The fall wellness schedule is now available online. Nova Scotians can register for sessions through www.HealthyNovaScotia.ca or call 1-844-460-4555 for more information. As well, this website contains a wealth of information about staying well (e.g. tips on mental wellness, physician activity, healthy eating, and parenting), as well as living a healthy life with chronic conditions (such as diabetes, heart and lung conditions, or chronic pain).
With the recent announcement regarding the UNESCO designation of a Geo Park, that includes much of Colchester North and with Tourism Nova Scotia’s recent launch of Re-Discover Nova Scotia, I am truly excited about the opportunities for us “along the shore”. The Geo Park designation highlights many natural attractions, including the Debert Archaeological sites, Economy River Falls, Thomas Cove and the Five Islands.
We know that many visitors have been and will continue to make this their destination. The new marketing campaign launch mid September by Tourism Nova Scotia adds to that excitement. Throughout the fall season this campaign continues to promote and extend the tourist season by focusing on many activities across the province.
Although temperatures within the last month have not caused us to think cold weather, it is that time of year we need to prepare for the upcoming colder season. The government of Nova Scotia continues to provide programs to assist low income families in keeping their homes warm.
Home Warming is a program for low income families made available through Efficiency Nova Scotia and supported by Clean Foundation, Nova Scotia Power and the Province of Nova Scotia. Home Warming asks us to think about ways to reduce heating and power bills and provides upgrades to those Nova Scotians who qualify. Home Warming offers no-charge energy assessments to eligible Nova Scotians. It is 100% free to all qualified home owners in the province.
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.
There is no question that our communities, our province and the world have experienced a pandemic none of us could ever have anticipated. It forced us to take extra ordinary measures to protect our own health and the health of others. Let me thank each of your for your commitment to respecting the directives from Department of Public Health.
Both Premier McNeil and Dr. Strang have been consistent in their commitment to communicate on a regular basis with respect to the situation in Nova Scotia. There were many days that their messages were difficult. However, those directives were critical to containing the virus and limiting the community spread.
As the number of confirmed cases has declined over the last two weeks, Public Health have been able to ease some of those restrictions and have allowed us to open our social and economic activities to more contact and more interaction. That has been made possible because Nova Scotia respected Public Health Information and direction.
The return to our “normal” will be gradual. We cannot afford to destroy all the good that has been achieved through your sacrifices.
As your MLA, let me thank you for your co-operation. We are not through this yet, but we are on the right side of the curve. Remember, we are Better Together. Stay strong, stay healthy and stay safe.
Karen Casey, MLA
As our communities, our families, our friends, our neighbours and our co-workers grieve the loss of 22 beautiful, innocent souls, we have come together in solidarity to support one another. As your MLA and Minister of Finance, I have worked closely with other Government Departments to provide access to the various supports available. Navigating the system can often be challenging, and it was my intent to make that process as easy as possible.
Under the leadership of the Attorney General, Minister Mark Furey, the various levels of support were co-ordinated and communicated to you. Connecting with Care, a Support Navigator Program was implemented and available to all communities impacted. This program includes a team of professionals who are trained in a variety of support services…grief and trauma counsellors, social workers, family resource staff, financial advisors, wills and estates advisors and supports for children and youth. These services are FREE.
Each year at this time, the provincial budget is released and it provides the fiscal plan for the next 12 months. As Minister of Finance, I was pleased to table Budget 2020-21 in the Legislature on February 25, and to support the passage of that budget on March 10. Although the release of the budget happens at this time, preparations begin several months in advance.
One of the first steps is to develop a set of economic assumptions on which to build a solid foundation. These assumptions must be challenged by a team of economists from all the major banks in Canada, universities, private sector, and of course, the Auditor General. The results of that challenge showed that our assumptions were “wise and prudent”.
The next major step is to consider all sources of revenue available to the province, and to identify expenses required to continue to deliver programs and services that Nova Scotians need and deserve. The completion of that process resulted in a positive financial position, and confirmed, that for the 5th consecutive year, the province was living within its means. This good fiscal management has built confidence in the private sector, both provincially and globally.
We can all be comfortable in our home…..Winter and Summer!