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).
Protecting personal and public property is one of the great services provided by volunteer fire brigades throughout the province. Communities feel safe knowing that these volunteers are only a phone call away. Sometimes that service is provided as first responders to attend to motor vehicle accidents, to rescue people and animals in distress, to provide emergency medical aid, and of course for fire related incidents. Whatever the call, we are comforted to know there are men and women in our brigades who respond.
It was recently brought to my attention by Eric Moore from the Economy Fire Brigade that access to both motive and diesel fuel was a challenge, not only for Economy, but also for brigades in Five Islands and Bass River. None of these communities have a local service station or gas bar and travelling to their nearest service centre includes time and distance to Parrsboro or Great Village. Time is of the essence no matter what the call to the brigade.
As the conversation continues regarding gold exploration rights in the province of Nova Scotia and in particular the Warwick Mountain area in Colchester and Cumberland County areas, I wish to provide the following update.
On March 12th, the Municipality of the County of Colchester copied me on a letter to the Honourable Margaret Miller, the Minister of Natural Resources for the province. That correspondence focused on the development of best management practices for exploration, in particular, the French River Watershed.
The County’s primary concern was that an RFP (Request for Proposal) for such exploration rights must include the specific standards and practices needed to regulate such exploration activity. That correspondence also welcomed the assurance that the RFP will emphasize community engagement including community influence. Municipal Council also requested a delay in the issuance of the RFP.
I was pleased to be copied on that correspondence and to support the request from the Municipality. I am also pleased to learn that the issuing of the RFP has been delayed and that input from both the Municipal Government and the public will be considered as the RFP document is finalized.
It is always important to have and to keep jobs in Nova Scotia. Recent trends in jobs and unemployment statistics are reasons to be optimistic. However, it is equally important for the voices of business owners to be heard. As employers, they are the economic drivers in our communities. Their success is our success.
As the One Nova Scotia Report states very clearly, “we need business and community leadership in the pursuit of economic growth: these sectors need to pull the economy forward rather than it being pushed by government policies and investments”.
I recently met with business leaders in Colchester County to hear their concerns and their opinions. Two recent Tax Reforms were well received by the industry, and Government was encouraged to move forward gradually with other measures.
Province Supporting Business by Reducing Red Tape
A vibrant and growing economy is a critical part of a strong province. It’s the foundation for safe and connected communities, our health and well-being, and educating and training our youth for the future.
While we see the private sector taking the lead in spurring economic activity, government can help create a business climate that supports economic success.
That includes developing and maintaining an efficient regulatory system that protects consumers, citizens, workers and the environment without creating unnecessary complexity or cost to business. And, it includes working with our Atlantic neighbours to harmonize and co-ordinate business rules where it makes sense.
In January, we recognize Red Tape Awareness Week – a week the Canadian Federation of Independent Business created 10 years ago to shine a light on the burden of red tape and highlight the opportunity regulatory reform can have as part of a broader economic strategy.
One of the priorities for the province is to promote a more inclusive and accessible province. This is a vital part of the Nova Scotia Culture Action Plan and in order to improve that accessibility the province is providing funding to support small businesses throughout the province.
One in five Nova Scotians identify as a person with a disability. We know that small businesses need support as they improve accessibility in their own facility. The province will fund up to 66% of project costs to small businesses through the Small Business ACCESS-Ability Program.
The 2017/18 Budget is the first Budget of the province’s second mandate. This is the first back to back majority for a government in Nova Scotia in close to 30 years. As we begin 2018, it is important that all Nova Scotians understand the success of Premier McNeil and the government in restoring the fiscal health of the province. As the Minister of Finance and your MLA in Colchester North, I was pleased to recently present our second consecutive balanced Budget.
We can all be comfortable in our home…..Winter and Summer!