Government continued to make tough choices to protect and invest in areas that are important to Nova Scotians during the spring sitting of the legislature, which wrapped up today, May 11.
“This spring, we continued the difficult work of regaining sustainability in our public finances,” said Premier Stephen McNeil.
“This is a difficult journey, but the destination we are seeking will benefit all Nova Scotians.”
Fiscal sustainability will allow government to invest in areas that are important to the province, such as access to health care, modernized education systems and investments needed to encourage job growth.
Budget 2015-2016 established a Department of Business, reduced the size of the public service, established a permanent review of all programs, provided funding to implement the Education Action Plan, increased university funding, increased funding to people with disabilities and addressed orthopaedic surgery wait times.
Government kept its commitment to the Pictou Land First Nation by putting a timeline into law for closing the Boat Harbour Effluent Treatment Facility in Pictou County. By January 2020, the treatment facility will close and stop receiving wastewater from the mill.
Government continued to invest in education by:
— increasing accountability and cost control for universities
— offering more security to university pension-plan members
— ensuring private career colleges train students for jobs in Nova Scotia
— establishing a provincewide code of conduct for schools
Government has increased access to health care by reducing wait times for hip and knee surgeries, increasing home-care spending and investing in the Senior Citizens Assistance Program. Legislation was also introduced to ban the sale of flavoured tobacco. The ban will include flavoured papers for rolling tobacco, and flavoured tobacco products that are not smoked, such as chewing tobacco and snuff.
“We are following a deliberate plan to respect taxpayers’ dollars,” said the premier. “Our approach is disciplined and responsible so that in the long-run, we can have the province we all want and deserve.”
Other highlights from the session included:
— creating a strong and more accountable governance structure for the Nova Scotia Provincial Exhibition Commission
— ensuring marine renewable energy projects are developed in a responsible manner to respect the environment and the interests of local communities
— amendments to improve the effectiveness of public inquiries
— further protection for transgender Nova Scotians from harassment and discrimination
— amendments to further strengthen protections for victims of sexual assault
For a complete list of the bills passed this session, visit http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/status-of-bills/ .