Nova Scotians are heading to the polls on Aug. 17 in the province’s 41st general election, and there’s no shortage of promises being made.
Summer elections are rare, and this one is especially different due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Check back, as Global News keeps a tally of the major parties’ promises as the campaign rolls on.
The Liberals unveiled its skills and training platform, as the province moves into the second half of the general election campaign.
The platform outlines a $78 million investment in the Nova Scotia Community College to train and educate residents for jobs. The investment will add 800 new seats to programs in residential construction trades, environmental stewardship and health care.
Rankin said if he forms the next government, he would develop a provincial housing strategy and legislation to compensate renters if they’re displaced by upgrades to rental properties.
Rankin visited a nursing home in Chester, to highlight a $152.6 million provincial announcement previously made to renovate 2,362 beds in 24 facilities.
The party stresses that in total, 500 new beds will be added in communities with the greatest demand and that the plan will reduce the average wait time for a home in long-term care to 60 days.
The Liberals unveiled their health care platform today.
Among the promises, the party would create a new office of physician recruitment and retention with an annual budget of $5 million.
They would also spend $6 million on expanding virtual care and $4 million to launch eight new mental health walk-in clinics.
The Liberals said they would spend $69 million over four years to assist the Nova Scotia Community College in training more skilled workers.
The plan would increase base enrolment by 800 in order to meet evolving labour market needs, including 400 new seats in health-related disciplines and 400 in residential construction trades, information technology and green energy programs.
The health-related expansion will include 270 new seats for licensed practical nurses.
The Liberal Leader was in Mount Uniacke today, and promised that a re-elected Liberal government would support the federal government’s initiative to allow fire hall infrastructure to be an eligible category of spending under the Canada Community Building Fund Program.
Rankin said he would make sure the change is implemented “as soon as possible.” The party said fire stations had previously not been eligible for this funding, formerly known as the Gas Tax Fund, which meant that rural stations have had to rely on community fundraising to pay for critical infrastructure.
Rankin promised that if re-elected, his government would extend a program that was started during the pandemic to help tourism operators.
The digital assistance program was created to help tourism operators market themselves better online.
The province gave $2.5 million to the program in June, with Rankin saying he would double that total over five years.
The Liberal leader visited a child care centre in Sydney, and highlighted the current provincial government’s affordable child care agreement with the federal government.
The $645 million plan signed last week aims to bring $10-a-day child care within five years and adds 7,500 new before and after school program spaces by 2026.
Rankin was in Antigonish today, and promised to twin sections of two of Nova Scotia’s busies highways: a northern portion of Highway 104 and portions of Highway 103 along the province’s south shore.
Rankin says the Liberals would drop fees for non-commercial vehicles from Nova Scotia on a 45-kilometre section of Highway 104, and build rest stations and maintenance facilities on both sides at the midpoint.
During this campaign stop on the Trans-Canada Highway with Cumberland North candidate Bill Casey, Rankin was booed by hecklers, who were in support of Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin, the incumbent in the riding who promoted a COVID-19 restrictions protest on the highway between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick.
Liberal Leader Iain Rankin said a re-elected Liberal government would invest $45 million over five years to renew a program that encourages businesses to invest in clean technology.
Rankin said the Sustainable Innovation Rebate Program will provide a 25 per cent rebate for the creation of innovative solutions and green technology.
Houston said a PC government would modify curriculums from primary through high school to increase teaching about diversity.
He said the proposed social studies curriculum would properly tell the stories and history of the Mi’kmaq, African Nova Scotian and Acadian presence in the province. He said the goal is also to ensure that students begin learning at a young age that equality for everyone is a human right.
The PCs said that a PC government would establish a website that tracks — in real time — the number of surgeries taking place in a day. The tracker would also specify what type of surgery was completed and how each day’s numbers impact the waitlist.
Houston said a PC government would establish a new Chronic Illness Treatment and Prevention Program.
The program would fund an in-home treatment model for patients with chronic illnesses.
As well, the party vowed to expand virtual options to monitor patients, and introduce a smoking cessation program.
The PC promised to provide publicly-funded universal mental health care if the party is elected to govern on August. 17th.
Houston said the new program would cost $100 million annually, and that mental health care should not be restricted to Nova Scotians with insurance.
He also promised a separate department dedicated to mental health, and to allow private mental health practitioners to bill the province for their services.
Houston promised his party would improve rural roads in the province by doubling the Gravel Road Reconstruction Program budget to $40 million and Rural Impact Mitigation Fund to $22 million per year.
The money would fund projects including ditching, culvert replacement and rebuilding roads to improve structure and drainage.
The party said having safe roads will create quality of life to attract tourists, migrants and immigrants.
The Progressive Conservatives continued campaigning on health care promises, with a focus to reduce the wait times for people looking for family doctors.
Houston said he will introduce a physicians savings plan to encourage doctors to remain in the province, and match RRSP contributions up to $15,000.
The party also announced it would stop fish farm expansion projects, forcing them to go through what they call an “independent, rigorous approval process based on science.”
The party released its election platform today, which projects $553 million in spending in their first year in office, based on promises made during the campaign.
Houston said the new spending would increase this year’s estimated provincial deficit of $584 million but the bulk of the added cost would appear in the 2022-23 budget.
The 130-page platform budgets $430 million for the health-care sector, including extended operating room hours and more long-term care beds. It also budgets $140 million on a program that allows companies to pay lower taxes if they increase workers’ salaries.
Tim Houston held his usual morning news conference at party headquarters, highlighting the party’s plans to build long-term care rooms, before heading off to campaign with candidates.
Houston announced the creation of “Nova Scotia Loyal,” a program that would reward shoppers with cash back for buying participating local products. According to the party, the program would give shoppers 10 per cent off before tax on local food products and three per cent off non-food items.
The PC said studies showed consumers were more likely to change their shopping habits when offered a loyalty program.
The points would be redeemable as dollars at participating stores or “government services.”
Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston started day three of the Nova Scotia election campaign by saying it’s often quicker to order a pizza in the province than to receive ambulance services.
Houston told a news conference a PC government would consider increasing the emergency services budget once it sees data on call volumes and staffing levels.
Burrill promised that an NDP government would legislate 10 paid sick days.
He said the NDP’s sick leave program won’t require employees to have a doctor’s note, in order to avoid overworking the province’s physicians with requests.
Burrill said an NDP government would create emergency mental health response teams in all four provincial health zones. The only such response team now is located in Halifax.
The NDP leader was talking about his party’s commitment to long-term care today. He reiterated that an NDP government would set a minimum standard of 4.1 hours of care per resident each day and 1.3 hours of nursing care.
He blamed the Liberals for a “crisis in long-term care” and accused them of not building new long-term care beds.
Burrill said he is committing his party to a faster pace of reducing greenhouse gas emissions in the province.
The NDP would introduce a target of lowering carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gas emissions by 50 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030.
Net zero emissions means the total greenhouse gases resulting from human activity would be equal to the amount removed from the atmosphere through natural means and sequestration, also known as carbon capture.
Burrill said his party’s promise is the equivalent to taking 240,000 cars off the road, as compared to existing targets.
Burrill campaigned in Sydney, where he highlighted his party’s commitment to bolster health care in Cape Breton.
The party repeated a pledge to keep hospitals open that are slated for closure in New Waterford and North Sydney and to create 400 more long-term care beds.
Burrill was in the newly-created riding of Preston, which is predominantly African Nova Scotian, to announce that his party would ban street checks to curb racial profiling if they win the provincial election next month.
Burrill said his party is also promising to do away with the “suspicious activity” exception for the checks, calling the practice “highly problematic.”
The Nova Scotia government promised to ban the practice in 2019 after the release of a report from the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission that found street checks disproportionately affect Black Nova Scotians.
Burrill said despite the promise from the Liberal government to do away with the practice, Black people in the community continue to experience unfair interactions with the police.
The NDP said it would offer free before and after school child care in the province.
Burrill said removing the cost of child care entirely for families will help those struggling to make ends meet.
Burrill said an NDP government would create same-day and next-day mental health clinics to make mental health care more accessible for Nova Scotians.
The leader made the promise at a Lower Sackville comic book store that has an office space for a social worker, so that youth can access free mental health support.
Burrill said this type of universal and accessible care should be available to anyone.
Burrill said he would get rid of a tax break for corporations introduced in the last provincial budget.
The NDP leader held a news conference outside a downtown barbershop and promised that after he ends what he called a $70.5-million tax break, he would reallocate the money to small businesses.
He also proposed tax incentives to small tourism operators for innovations that would extend their seasons, and is pledging to create programs that would help small businesses pay employee benefits.
Burrill focused on housing during his campaigning today, and said his party is committed to permanent rent control. He said the goal is to have families afford to stay in their communities or save enough money for a down payment.
The NDP said Halifax had the worst vacancy rate of any major city in Canada in 2020, and accused the Liberals of being committed to removing the current rent cap “leaving people without protection from unfair rent hikes.”
Burrill said an NDP government would permanently eliminate ambulance fees for all Nova Scotians.
Het met with Danica Pettipas, who was shocked when she received four ambulance bills for travel between the Halifax Infirmary, the COVID-19 unit and a recovery hospital during her illness with COVID-19. She said two COVID-related ambulance fees were waived, but two did not qualify to be dropped.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill took to the podium to launch the party’s 10-year plan for the province that would include permanent rent control and paid sick days, as the province entered the second day of the election campaign.
Burrill released the so-called “vision document” outlining the party’s plan for Nova Scotia in the event of a New Democrat victory.
A traditional platform will be released in the coming days, he said.
With files from The Canadian Press