During this campaign, I have heard from people across the Province. I have been part of discussions around kitchen tables, in living rooms, and in community halls. This is where our wisdom lies, and these conversations have led to powerful ideas that will change Nova Scotia for the better.
An authentic leader puts their values forward and lets Nova Scotians know what they stand for, but leadership also means open-mindedness. My promise to Nova Scotians is that I will listen to those with differing opinions - I may not agree - but I will listen.
I want to share with you some ideas on how to improve Nova Scotia and move towards a better future. This is not a comprehensive list, but these are issues I am frequently asked about.
THE STRUCTURE OF GOVERNING
Solving Problems, Not Stretching Them
I’ve heard it said that the elected people often get overrun by the bureaucrats – those who have long-established ways of doing things and ways of looking at the world. There are many excellent people working hard every day for the government. But we must make sure that our government remains nimble, competitive, and innovative. Good, strong leadership is the key.
The province needs a strong leader that can get people pulling together to solve problems, not stretch them. It also needs strong leadership in every single government department. I would require all deputy ministers to reapply for their jobs when I form government. Those that want to be part of improving the Province will stay.
Click here to let me know if you agree with this idea.
Policy and Platform Development
A political party is only as strong as its people. This leadership process has attracted and engaged thousands of Nova Scotians from across our Province to our Party. As Leader, I will constantly engage with members to seek their input on policies, ideas, and directions. It is what I have been doing and I will continue to do so. It is the only way to make sure that my voice is your voice.
The Party platform will be developed by the Party membership at a policy conference. It is essential that together we debate, deliberate and determine our Party’s priorities, policy and platform for moving Nova Scotia forward.
Supporting our Constituency Associations
Our Constituency Associations are the backbone of our party. They need to be strong in order to win the next campaign. I will make sure our Associations are supported in their fundraising, organizing and preparations for 2019. I will reach out to Executives across the Province to ensure they have the support they need to mobilize winning campaigns from Yarmouth to Glace Bay.
As the PC Member on the Public Accounts Committee, I would send out regular emails with a list of a few hundred people who expressed interest in the process. I know how important it is to keep party members engaged with all that is happening in government and in the party. As Leader, I will regularly reach out to members by phone, email and mail to ensure that you always know what is happening with your Party and you always know how to make your voice heard.
Click here to tell me your thoughts on the future of the PC Party.
Our healthcare system was designed generations ago to deal with acute conditions – people who showed up with emergencies who needed urgent care.
We see it everywhere: it was not designed – and cannot handle – the needs of Nova Scotians today.
Patients are telling us the system must change, doctors are telling us the system must change, families and communities are telling us the system must change.
Nova Scotians deserve more than 19th century tools for 21st century conditions.
Establishing a New Chronic Illness Treatment and Prevention Program
I will focus $100 million on an in-home treatment model for patients with chronic illnesses. We are already spending billions on chronic conditions, let’s spend it right. The Inspired program is a proven model that we need more of. Inspired focuses on individuals with COPD and means teams of professionals visiting patients in their homes. For every $1 invested this program saved $21 over the traditional system. Fewer visits to the emergency rooms, fewer nights spent in hospital means fewer dollars spent. Better care saves lives. Better care saves money.
I’ve been focused on chronic conditions because five percent of Nova Scotians consume seventy per cent of our health care dollars and many of those five percent are dealing with a chronic condition: diabetes, arthritis, heart disease, obesity. Doctors are asking for this focus.
Band-aid solutions to our healthcare system do not work. Our current health care crisis proves that. Addressing the root causes of conditions does work.
Click here to tell me your thoughts on the Chronic Illness Treatment and Prevention Program.
Creating a New Ministry of Addictions and Mental Health
We’ve gone from one in five people being affected by mental illness to two in five people. That’s hundreds of thousands of Nova Scotians needing a little help. Issues with mental health touch on many government departments, including: community services, justice and education, to name a few. When we do not deal well and efficiently with mental health in this Province, it costs us: in lives, in program spending and in productivity.
I will make mental health services a priority at the highest level of government. I will create a Minister of Addictions and Mental Health. I will make this person both responsible and accountable.
Today, the Minister of Health oversees 45 per cent of the provincial budget; the other 16 Ministers share the remaining 55 per cent. Does that make sense?
It is heartless, and it is lethal to make any Nova Scotian wait more than 300 days to see a mental health professional. The system is not working, and people are suffering.
Click here to let me know what you think about creating a new Minister of Addictions and Mental Health.
Instituting a New Standing Committee on Health
Politicians talk about being open and transparent but stop and ask yourself if you really know what happens at Province House. Have you ever really been invited to participate in the process?
I am calling for a new standing committee on health committed to transparency and accountability that will give Nova Scotians direct access to the Legislature.
We need to pull the curtain back, let Nova Scotians see how government works and let their feedback be heard.
This committee will also be a very public, official way for doctors, nurses and other health care workers to tell the government – in the moment – what changes are needed to fix healthcare in Nova Scotia.
Click here to support this idea.
Our economy is stalled. We are among the worst performing provinces in the country. To get our economy going we need more people and we need smarter government.
That’s why I have been talking about:
No Provincial Tax for Ages 25 and Under
To grow our economy, we need people. We also have an aging population and need to rebalance our demographics. We need young people and they are not staying here. We must send a message that says strongly: Nova Scotia wants you here.
I will eliminate provincial personal income tax for the first $50,000 of income earned by youth 25 and under. We have jobs in this province. From coast to coast business owners tell me that they can’t find people the fill jobs. Filling those jobs will create more business income and more growth. It tells our innovative young Nova Scotians and young entrepreneurs that this place values you.
Click here to let me know what you think of no provincial personal income tax for youth 25 and under.
Yes, ultimately we need to Lower Taxes for everyone
Our taxes are too high. People in other provinces pay much less. I want to lower taxes, but we need to be honest about how we get there. We have to start by growing the economy and get more people working. We need to start the ball rolling somewhere. For me, that starts with our young people.
Click here to tell me how your thoughts on our tax system.
Designing Smarter Economic Development Strategy
Every year tens of millions of dollars are sloshing around the Province in the name of economic development. And it is not making any difference. Taxpayer money – your money – should only be invested when there is a sound business plan supported by market-based analysis.
We must make sure that money invested in economic development is a catalyst for growth and not just a crunch for existence.
Entrepreneurs from startups to scale ups know what is needed. If we get it right, our tech hubs could produce high-value tech businesses, the film industry could again become a source of wealth, tourism, and innovation, and our province’s rural areas could finally access the high-quality internet they need to thrive.
Click here if you have ideas on how we can have smarter government.
A Film Tax Credit for Nova Scotia
Speaking of film, at one time, Nova Scotia offered one of the most attractive film tax incentives in the Country. As result, the industry thrived, and we benefited from its many economic spin-offs. Today, Nova Scotia is spending the same, if not more money for film production and animation than it did under the old tax credit, and it isn’t seeing a corresponding increase in jobs and production activity.
If you are spending as much money and you have less economic activity and fewer people working, you are doing it wrong. We lost many jobs when the film tax credit was axed. And we lost many young people to more competitive jurisdictions.
I will work closely with our film industry to bring back a refundable film tax credit that makes Nova Scotia competitive again. We have world class filmmakers and world class landscapes. It’s time to make Nova Scotia into the film mecca it can be.
World Class Agriculture
We have huge opportunities in agriculture. Nova Scotia has more than 2600 farms and more than 10,000 people are employed in relation to these farms. And yet, only Nunavut fares worse than Nova Scotia when it comes to producing what we consume. Nova Scotia places near the bottom of the national ladder on farm area and size, capital stock in farming, food manufacturing sales, and food manufacturing exports.
We need a Minister who consults with those on the ground – our farmers. We also need more agriculture representatives in the field. Experts who can help our farmers to start and grow their farms - people who understand agriculture and who are prepared to work with farmers.
We must look at other jurisdictions where the legislation is more favourable to farmers. We must work better with young farmers and remove barriers to entry for them to the industry.
Click here to tell me your thoughts on agriculture.
Nova Scotia can be an educational leader. It can be a Province that values and invests in education.
Hire More Education Program Assistants (EPAs)
Like doctors and healthcare, we can fix our education system if we listen to the people on the frontline. Time and again, one of the biggest hurdles teachers tell us they face in the classroom is time. It has become impossible to give all children the individual attention they deserve. We can change this.
One of the first things I talked about when I announced I was running to be leader was the need for more EPAs. EPAs mean more staff, more time, and more attention in our time and attention-starved classrooms. As a starting point, I will hire 400 more EPAs in the Province.
Beyond new hires, if we provide additional training to new and existing EPAs they can become more efficient and proficient in the assistance they offer to teachers and students.
Again, this is about smarter spending and smarter government.
Click here to share your thoughts on bringing more EPAs into the classroom.
Expand Skills Training in our High Schools
Our students must be able to understand and pursue their unique gifts and passions. This means different things to different students: carpentry, arts, plumbing, mechanics, even coding and technology. Our schools must reflect the full range of our students’ talents and the full range of needs of the economy of tomorrow. We need to offer more skills training opportunities so that more students leave high school armed with the tools they need to succeed.
Click here to tell me what you think about expanding our skills training in high school.
Institute New Standing Committee on Education
Too often in education, students, teachers and parents feel left out of decision-making. I am calling for a new standing committee on education committed to transparency and accountability that will give Nova Scotians access to the Legislature and to decisions on education. We need to end the cycle of short-term decisions with no consultation.
Click here to tell me your thoughts on a new standing committee on education.
Give Local Decision Making to Schools
We need to look for opportunities for parents, teachers and students to have a choice and voice in improving their education and their school. This could take many forms. It could be different for different communities and different schools. With the elimination of school boards, school-based decision-making is more important than ever.
Click here to share your ideas on how we can provide more local input.
Respecting our Seniors
Improving health care helps seniors. In-home care for seniors with a chronic illness helps, but still we need more. Particularly, more in-home care. Why do people go into care facilities? Why do they go in prematurely? Often, it’s because they don’t have family around to support them. I will expand the caregiver program to allow more family members to help.
We also need to think outside of the box when it comes to engaging one of our greatest resources – our seniors – and helping them stay mentally and physically active and connected to their communities. The starting point is keeping those can stay in their homes, in their homes.
Click here to talk about ways to support seniors.
Help Nova Scotians Lift Themselves out of Poverty
We must ensure that the over $1 billion in community services funding is being spent wisely and delivering results to those that need it. That means examining the root causes of poverty – education and skills training, health issues, mental health, family circumstances and discrimination – and working with families to resolve them.
Complete as Many Infrastructure Projects as Possible
Infrastructure and the economy are closely linked. People have to be able to get to work and projects have to be able to get to market. With the proper infrastructure in place, our economy will grow.
Every project must be based on a business case. I want to be able to stand by any decisions made concerning government investment and that means being able to put my hand on my heart and answer three questions:
- Why we are investing in one project over another?
- Does this project increase economic growth? Will it get products to market?
- How is the project being funded? Is the private sector invested? Are all three levels of government invested?
Smart decisions, not political decisions.
Click here to tell me if you like this idea.
Address HRM Transportation Problem
Anyone who lives in or visits the Halifax Regional Municipality (HRM) can see that there is a huge and growing traffic congestion problem. I will commit to leading discussions on funding from all levels of government. This means working with the HRM on their integrated mobility plan. It means consulting with Leading with Transit and the Halifax Light Rail Alliance.
Click here to let me know your thoughts on traffic in HRM.
No Forced Amalgamations
Living in Pictou County, I know how divisive the issue of municipal amalgamation can be. One thing I have learned is that people know what is best for their community.
We must consult with them more frequently about the decisions that impact them. As a result, I don’t support forced amalgamations. I believe that this decision should be left to the affected communities, not politicians in ivory towers in Halifax.
Click here to tell me your position on amalgamation.
Negotiate a New Shared Services Agreement with Municipalities
Funds going to the municipalities from the Province have been frozen for more than ten years, while the transfer funds paid by municipalities to the Province have increased each year. This is unsustainable and when we truly look at the fiscal health of our municipalities, we see crises and crises-yet-to-come. As a stop-gap measure while we negotiate a new shared services agreement, I will double provincial equalization payments to our communities.
Click here to discuss this idea.
No Carbon Tax
A carbon tax in Nova Scotia represents an investment in the land of diminishing returns. This is not an environmental question, but rather one of bad investment.
A carbon tax won’t change our consumption pattern. We still need to drive vast distances in our Province and we still need to heat our homes. Since it won’t change our usage, it won’t improve the environment. For this reason, I am against the carbon tax.
Click here if you oppose the carbon tax.
Renewal of Good Environmental Legislation
What can be done to ensure a balance between industry and the environment? Well, it’s time to revisit Nova Scotia’s Environmental Goals and Sustainability Prosperity Act (EGSPA). This is a progressive and visionary piece of legislation that recognizes that a prosperous economy and a healthy environment are not incompatible.
I will champion the renewal of the EGSPA to better integrate our economic and environmental goals so that Nova Scotia can take advantage of one of the fastest growing sectors of the global economy: the clean economy.
Click here to tell me your ideas to improve the environment.
Harvest our Forest Sustainably
Any conversation around forestry must focus on conservation: Reforest, re-grow and re-manage. In Nova Scotia it can take 30 years to grow our trees. Compare that to New Brunswick, where they have figured out how to reforest and re-grow their trees in 20-25 years.
We should acknowledge the Lahey Independent Review on Forest Practices and work towards finding a balance between industry and environment so that we can make our forestry a strong sector of our economy for generations.
Of course, I can’t talk forestry without talking Northern Pulp. The foremost job of government to properly scrutinize projects put before it. I support forestry industry and I support the mill, but a project of this magnitude needs to be properly scrutinized and for me that is a Class 2 environmental assessment. Government’s job is to provide comfort that corners are not being cut. We need a good process that citizens and industry alike can depend on – sound, transparent, evidence-based, third-party, and consistently applied.
Click here to chat about forestry.
INTRA PROVINCIAL BARRIERS
Allow Alcohol Made in Atlantic Provinces to Cross Borders Freely
Nova Scotia breweries and micro-breweries are one of our fastest growing high-potential industries: products that are made-here in facilities that employ Nova Scotians. We have made some progress in interprovincial trade within Atlantic Canada, but we haven’t gone far enough. We need to establish a free trade agreement in Atlantic Canada to permit the cross border sale of alcohol.
Establish a Mobility of Labour Agreement
It’s time for universal safety regulations in Atlantic Canada for certain industries. We have been talking about this for too long and uneven regulations means more time and money spent by Nova Scotians and those looking to live in Nova Scotia. I am committed to advancing the creation of universal safety regulations and certifications for industries that have to and should be able to work across Atlantic Canadian borders.
Click here to tell me your thoughts on interprovincial interactions.