Legislative Spring Session Wraps Up Oped

first_imgIt was springtime last year when government started the process of providing genuine leadership and a better deal for today’s families. Since then, the government has inherited great challenges. Nova Scotia has among the worst debts of any jurisdiction in the country. The province was on a rapid path to a $1.4-billion deficit. There are long waits and high administration costs in health. We had the worst economic performance in the last 20 years. And we have an aging workforce and are on the brink of population decline. Now, a year later, government is wrapping up its first spring session in the House of Assembly, and I’m happy to report that it was a productive sitting focused on many of the difficult challenges facing the province. In just under seven weeks, government passed 29 bills that make life better for families. We also passed a budget that begins the hard work of getting the province back to balance — a budget that will also ensure better health care for Nova Scotians and create good jobs and grow the economy. To help get back to balance, government increased revenues and introduced measures to make life more affordable for many Nova Scotians. We worked to make life more affordable for seniors by eliminating provincial income tax for 18,000 seniors who receive the Guaranteed Income Supplement. Beginning July 1, Nova Scotia households with low and modest incomes will receive a refundable tax credit payment every quarter. The Nova Scotia Affordable Living Tax Credit will offset the restoration of the HST and provide additional net income for these households. The annual amount of the credit will be $240 per household, plus $57 for each child younger than 19. We are making life more affordable for those who are most vulnerable through the Poverty Reduction Credit, which will provide tax-free payments to help about 15,000 low-income Nova Scotians, many of whom have a disability. And for the first time in 10 years, we are increasing funding for transition houses. These are the right decisions for Nova Scotia families. In response to the auditor general’s report, government introduced new regulations for MLA expenses. These clear guidelines create an open and accountable system that will help restore Nova Scotians’ faith in their elected representatives. Last month, the province announced its new Renewable Electricity Plan that creates jobs, stabilizes energy costs and makes Nova Scotia one of the most progressive energy jurisdictions in the world. As part of that plan, the province has set a new goal of 40 per cent of electricity coming from renewable sources by 2020. That is nearly four times higher than 2009 levels. The government is banning the use of cosmetic pesticides starting in 2011, has raised the insurance cap to ensure fair compensation for victims of car accidents, and has proposed better training in the security industry. This government knows that to create good jobs and grow the economy, you need to invest. Over the last few months, the province made strategic investments to support local industries, including shipbuilding, aviation, and high-tech electronics. In addition, the budget will create 7,000 person-years of employment by maximizing federal infrastructure money. We have partnered with Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering of South Korea to develop the former TrentonWorks site into the company’s North American base for producing wind turbine parts. This joint venture creates hundreds of jobs and takes advantage of the burgeoning green economy. We also invested $12 million to help the Nova Scotia Community College system expand its programs and build new facilities, and provided millions more to projects and grants targeting seniors and children that will make like better in every region. Finally, government is making health care better by hiring an emergency room advisor and implementing a plan to cover travel and accommodation costs for those who must leave the province for health care, just like we said we would. In addition, the province has also invested $50 million to programs such as the Capital Health Community Living Initiative, the development of Cancer Research Centres in Halifax and Sydney, and the construction of the Colchester Regional Hospital. These are the right decisions for Nova Scotia families. But of all the achievements and announcements, one of the most important was the government’s recent free pardon and apology to Viola Desmond. Mrs. Desmond, of Halifax, was an African Canadian wrongfully jailed and fined in 1946 for sitting in the white peoples’ section of a New Glasgow movie theatre. It was a historic day for the province as it was a chance to finally right the wrong done to Mrs. Desmond and her family, and it was an opportunity for us to acknowledge the incredibly brave actions of a woman who took a stand against racism and segregation. It is moments like these, moments when we are changing the landscape of Nova Scotia and making life better for families in every region, that I am truly proud to be the premier of this great province. -30-last_img read more

Loonie soars on hawkish BoC comments as financials help lead TSX gainers

TORONTO — The Canadian dollar surged to a level not seen in four months Wednesday as investors digested a more hawkish tone on interest rates by Bank of Canada governor Stephen Poloz.The loonie jumped 0.74 of a U.S. cent to an average price of 76.57 cents US after comments from the head of the central bank raised speculation that an interest rate hike could come as early as next month.The currency’s ascent helped send financials stocks higher, with that sector leading gainers on the Toronto’s S&P/TSX composite index, which climbed 74.36 points to 15,355.58.Bank and insurance stocks typically benefit from higher interest rates because it helps increase profits for short-term loans and increases yields for insurers.Poloz said in an interview broadcast on business news channel CNBC that the Canadian economy enjoyed “surprisingly” strong growth in the first three months of 2017 and he expected the pace to stay above potential.He also noted again that interest rate cuts that were put in place in 2015 appear to “have done their job.”TD Wealth portfolio manager James Morton says the tone of Poloz’s remarks signalled to financial markets that a rate increase at the bank’s next meeting on July 12 “is on the table and could certainly be in play.”But even if a hike does occur, he added, it doesn’t necessarily mean it will be on a fast-moving upward trajectory.“It would be a very small incremental movement,” said Morton, adding that the central bank would “want to make sure they don’t cause too much of a dislocation in terms of other impacts across the market.”The bank lowered its rate twice in 2015 to the very low level of 0.5 per cent to help offset the effects of the oil-price shock. But Poloz says that growth has rebounded with an “encouraging” pace in recent months.Meanwhile south of the border, it was a similarly positive day for New York indexes as the Dow Jones industrial average gained 143.95 points to 21,454.61. The S&P 500 index added 21.31 points to 2,440.69 and the Nasdaq composite index was ahead 87.79 points to 6,234.41.In commodities, the August crude contract advanced 50 cents at US$44.74 per barrel and the August natural gas contract was up three cents at US$3.09 per mmBTU.The August gold contract gained $2.20 to US$1,249.10 an ounce and the September copper contract climbed a penny at US$2.68 a pound.— With files from Andy BlatchfordFollow @LindaNguyenTO on Twitter. read more

Police standoff at Barton and MacNab

(Updated)No word from police tonight on a standoff that shut down a section of Barton Street for more than four hours, this evening. The area bounded by James and MacNab running from Murray to Mulberry Street was sealed off as police focussed their attention, on a home at the corner of Barton and MacNab.They say they will not have a release of information this evening, until at least midnight and so far we have not been able to confirm any of the information that we were able to gather at the scene.This all started around 3:30 this afternoon on Barton Street, between James and MacNab.Police were notified about a robbery, on the street and when the CHCH cameraman arrived, one of the victims shouted that he’d been robbed of $12,000 at gunpoint.Police then hustled the man, and his companion into a patrol car, and removed them from the scene.One is described as being in his 40’s, and walking with a cane. The other was a younger man, possibly in his 20’s.Police then sealed off the area and began a lengthy vigil, centered on a home at the corner of Barton and MacNab.At various times, we saw people both in a front window of the house, and on a porch at the side of the home. One of them shouted to police that he was calling the owner of the property.Around five o’clock, we saw those same residents exiting the house, under the direction of police.As the sun went down, residents of the area were told to stay in their homes, and at least one officer near Murray Street was seen securing a rifle, in the trunk of his car.Just after 7pm, members of the police tactical unit, appeared in the area, and an armoured vehicle was stationed outside the home.Spotlights were used to light the exterior, and half an hour later, police used a loud-hailer to call to any remaining occupants inside the house, ordering them to come to the door with nothing in their hands.When they received no response, members of the Emergency Response Unit opened the door and went in. After several minutes they came out again, without a suspect, and soon after, left the scene.Since that time,CHCH has contacted police to find out why they entered the house and what they may have been looking for.We also wanted to confirm, that the two men who called police to the scene in the first place had actually been robbed at gunpoint.But no information on this incident is forthcoming from police and we don’t know whether an armed suspect may still be at large, in the area of MacNab and Barton Streets. read more