(From Globe and Mail.. Saturday, April 17, 2021)
The governments of Canada's four easternmost provinces have spent the past year enrolled in the COVID-19 gifted program. Their early, aggressive action to suppress the virus and keep it down, allowing their economies to largely reopen, puts them on a par with the world's most successful curve crushers, from Austrialia and New Zealand to Japan and South Korea.
Karen Casey quote.. "Our thanks for the leadership of former Premier Stephen McNeil and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Robert Strang. This leadership began 12 months ago, and has protected us from COVID-19, and has allowed us to become the envy of the country. Congratulations to both."
The Nova Scotia COVID Relief (NSCR) Fund was established by the Government of Nova Scotia from the Federal Safe Restart Agreement in April 2021. The $3.5 million fund supports low-income Nova Scotians who are struggling to pay their home heating or electric bill as a result of income loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This program is administered by The Salvation Army.
The Fund provides one-time assistance to help Nova Scotians with their home heating costs or electricity bills. Each household may be eligible for up to $400 in support.
For more information CLICK HERE
For the NSCR Fund Application CLICK HERE
Our government is on track to give every person who wants a COVID-19 vaccine in Nova Scotia their first dose by the end of June. Health-care workers, staff and residents of licensed long-term care facilities will be fully vaccinated by the end of April.
We are implementing a flexible model of vaccine delivery, using community clinics, pharmacy clinics, primary care clinics, outreach clinics and mobile clinics. By May, we will be able to administer about 86,000 doses per week. Most Nova Scotians will continue to receive their vaccine when they become eligible by age and based on anticipated vaccine supply.
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.
In my earlier MLA Report (link here), I wrote about the opening of provincial parks across the province. Of course, the one of great interest “along the shore” is the Five Islands Provincial Park. I wrote about the hundreds of tourists who visit Nova Scotia each summer, and many of those tourists enjoy camping in our parks. With the tourist season officially over, our province can boast having the best tourist season on record with over 1.9 million folks choosing Nova Scotia as their destination. That increase in tourists resulted in a significant increase in the number of campers to Five Islands Park, 4 371 visitors enjoyed the overnight camping experience in our Park in 2017. That is an increase of over 1000 visitors since last year. In fact, the number of visitors has increased consistently since 2014, when the number of camper sites was 2003.
We can all be comfortable in our home…..Winter and Summer!