(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.
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.
Improving the lives of Nova Scotians, building on economic success, modernizing much-needed infrastructure and fostering confidence in a brighter future are the focus of government's fifth consecutive balanced budget.
"As a new decade begins, I am hopeful and optimistic about the future of our province. All Nova Scotians deserve to see benefits from the province's stronger economy and our positive fiscal position," said Minister of Finance and Treasury Board Karen Casey. "Budget 2020-21 supports Nova Scotians who may not have been feeling the success of the province. For our province to thrive now and in the future, we need to ensure our citizens receive the programs and services they need."
Budget 2020-21 estimates a surplus of $55 million with revenue of $11.60 billion and expenses, after consolidation adjustments, of $11.54 billion. It also projects balanced budgets in each of the following three years.
We can all be comfortable in our home…..Winter and Summer!