The government acted to protect and create good jobs, boost productivity and economic growth, and ensure better health care in all regions of the province during the fall session of the House of Assembly, which wrapped up today, Dec. 15. “Better health care has always been a priority for Nova Scotians, but in these tough economic times it’s now clear that people want their government to focus even more on creating jobs and finding ways to grow the province’s economy,” said Premier Darrell Dexter. “The government is making significant progress in both areas.” The premier said one of the most important steps the legislature took this session was investing in the future of the Bowater Mersey pulp and paper mill in Queens County, a move that protects thousands of jobs in southwestern Nova Scotia. “The best way to protect the 2,000 jobs affiliated with that mill is to ensure it continues to be a viable operation well into the future,” said Premier Dexter. “This investment will help the mill address the many challenges facing the pulp and paper industry in North America by helping it become more efficient, productive and sustainable.” Members of the legislature unanimously approved the Bowater Mersey Pulp and Paper Investment Act, which gives legal authority to implement the multi-year agreement. The investment will come from the newly established Nova Scotia Jobs Fund, which will replace the almost 60-year-old Industrial Expansion Fund. The government opened the fall session by introducing the Nova Scotia Jobs Fund Act to better meet today’s economic development needs and increase accountability. The act responds to a recent report of the auditor general, and will be proclaimed later this month. The province also set up the Forestry Infrastructure Fund, a $14-million investment that ensures the idle NewPage Port Hawkesbury mill remains resale ready and keeps hundreds of people working while the court-approved sale process for the mill proceeds. The province has been working hard to identify opportunities and help prepare workers and companies looking to make the most of the $25-billion shipbuilding contract awarded earlier this fall. In partnership with Irving Shipbuilding, the province held the first of several information sessions last month for businesses interested in becoming part of the supply chain. The province also launched a new Workforce Strategy, part of the jobsHere plan to grow the economy. The strategy will help address the economic challenges presented by a shrinking workforce and ensures Nova Scotians know where to go to acquire the right skills for the jobs that are opening up. Nova Scotia companies are now a step closer to cashing in on thousands of jobs and millions of dollars in contracts tied to the development of hydroelectricity out of Newfoundland and Labrador. The two provinces have agreed to provide Nova Scotia companies with an opportunity to compete for all components of the Lower Churchill development. Preference on construction of the Muskrat Falls generating facility and the Labrador transmission link will go to companies in Newfoundland and Labrador, while Nova Scotia companies will get equal access to the jobs generated by construction of the Maritime Link, which is expected to create 2,700 person years of work. Government is further spurring job creation through its Jobs and Building Plan. The $610-million investment supports infrastructure projects most important to Nova Scotians, like schools, emergency rooms, roads and hospital equipment. This is the second year that government has released details of its capital expenditures in advance of the spring budget. The move sends a clear signal of the province’s plans for the year ahead and helps the private sector to prepare for upcoming projects, resulting in efficiencies and cost savings for the province. The plan includes $6.8 million to open collaborative emergency centres in more communities across the province. Centres are now planned for Tatamagouche, Pugwash, Springhill and Annapolis Royal, with more communities to be announced in the coming year. “Collaborative emergency centres are an innovative and exciting new way to deliver health care,” said Premier Dexter. “They ensure 24/7 emergency care and access to same-day and next-day medical appointments in communities where it’s often difficult to be seen by a family doctor. “The response to the CEC in Parrsboro has been tremendous. This is further proof that this government is fulfilling its commitment to provide families with better health care by keeping emergency rooms open and reducing wait times for patients.” The most recent fiscal update shows that departmental spending is projected to be under budget for a third year in a row, with a projected deficit of $365.2 million – an improvement of about $24 million. Following the update today, Finance Minister Graham Steele reaffirmed the government’s commitment to balance the budget in 2013-14. “By demonstrating tight control and good management of the public purse, this government is fulfilling its commitment to get back to balance and ensure the province lives within its means,” said Premier Dexter. “That is the only way that government can continue to deliver the quality public services, like health care and education, that Nova Scotians depend on.” The legislature sat for 33 days during the 2011 fall session of the 61st General Assembly – the longest non-budget session since 1995. During that time, 46 bills were introduced and passed. Other highlights from the session include: reformed auto insurance to ensure better coverage and more choice for Nova Scotians approved the Body Art Act that creates regulations and guidelines to protect people who want to get a tattoo or piercing passed a new Environment Act, based on public consultation took steps to reduce head injuries by passing legislation that makes ski helmets mandatory for all ages approved the Arts Nova Scotia Act and the Creative Nova Scotia Leadership Council Act to support local artists and the creative economy adopted first contract settlement legislation that protects against unnecessary labour disruptions consulted with scrap metal dealers and law enforcement to adopt a long-awaited law that protects businesses and homeowners, and helps stop the re-sale of stolen metal approved legislation that allows nurse practitioners to sign death certificates, speeding up the process for grieving families adopted legislation that increases the accountability of school boards across the province For a complete list of bills passed this session, go online at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/status-of-bills/ .
Two people who were attending the joint opposition May Day rally at Galle Face today, died on admission to hospital.The Colombo National hospital said that it was believed the two people died from extreme heat.