Today, we stand in solidarity with those who live with HIV/AIDS here in Nova Scotia, across Canada, and around the world. We remember all those who have lost their lives, and reaffirm as a society, our commitment to ending HIV/AIDS – and to supporting all those affected.
The health and safety of residents and staff in long-term care are of critical importance. That’s why our government is introducing ongoing voluntary testing to monitor, reduce, and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities.
With cases of COVID-19 rising, our government has implemented new self-isolation requirements for people hosting travellers from outside the Atlantic bubble. Effective today, if a person travelling for non-essential reasons enters Nova Scotia from outside Atlantic Canada, everyone in the home where they are self-isolating will have to self-isolate as well. Nobody in that home can leave the property for 14 days and they cannot have visitors.
There will be no change for rotational workers, specialized workers or those who have been granted exemptions under the health order, such as military, police, first responders, truckers, flight crews and others. Nova Scotians are also advised to avoid non-essential travel into and out of Atlantic Canada. The public is reminded again to continue following public health protocols – including washing your hands, wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and limiting social contacts.
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).
The Government of Nova Scotia continues to provide programs to assist low income families in keeping their homes warm. Two programs that are of particular interest to some families are available for those who meet certain criteria.
The Heating Assistance Rebate Program (HARP) offers rebates that range from $100 to $200. This helps low income Nova Scotians with the cost of heating their homes. Each winter the program helps thousands of Nova Scotians manage their heating costs.
The HARP program is available to Nova Scotians who buy energy to heat their homes with oil, electricity, natural gas, wood, wood pellets, coal, or other heating source. To qualify for the rebate, the income threshold for one-person households is $29 000 and $44 000 for households with more than one person.
Making funds available to volunteer fire departments through the Emergency Services Provider Fund is something of which I am very proud. Each year the Government of Nova Scotia has provided an opportunity for local fire departments to submit an application for eligible costs related to lifesaving equipment needed by the brigades.
This protective equipment is critical in keeping our volunteer firefighters safe. Each fire brigade identifies their own needs and submits an application for provincial funding up to 50% of eligible costs. This equipment varies from one brigade to another and I am pleased to announce that funding for 2020/21 exceeded $1 million across the province.
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
We can all be comfortable in our home…..Winter and Summer!