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Nova Scotia premier-designate Tim Houston talks COVID, housing, fixed election dates

Click to play video: 'Tim Houston says he’s ready to deliver what he’s been promising' Tim Houston says he’s ready to deliver what he’s been promising
PC Leader Tim Houston will be the province’s next premier. He says he’s ready to hit the ground running and start delivering on the solutions he’s been promising throughout the campaign. Alicia Draus has more. – Aug 18, 2021

After eight years, the Nova Scotia Liberals will soon no longer be in power.

Premier-designate and Progressive Conservative party leader Tim Houston – whose party was elected in a landslide during the 41st Nova Scotia election Tuesday night – said Wednesday he has already appointed a seven-member transition team to help switch over to the new government.

Read more: ‘What a night’: Progressive Conservatives projected to form majority government in Nova Scotia

This team will be chaired by Scott Armour McCrea, the CEO of the investment and real estate company Armour Group Limited. The other transition team members are:

  • Nicole LaFosse Parker, lawyer,chief of staff and general counsel to Houston
  • Chris Lydon, the regional senior vice-president of m5 Public Affairs
  • David MacGregor, former principal secretary to former premier John Hamm
  • Cameron MacKeen, campaign co-chair, lawyer and former reporter
  • Tara Miller, campaign co-chair, lawyer and former PC party president
  • Karen Oldfield, corporate director and strategist, retired CEO and former chief of staff for former premier John Hamm.

A date to swear in Houston’s cabinet will be announced soon.

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Click to play video: 'Decision Nova Scotia: Premier-designate Tim Houston says ‘we made history’ in election' Decision Nova Scotia: Premier-designate Tim Houston says ‘we made history’ in election
Decision Nova Scotia: Premier-designate Tim Houston says ‘we made history’ in election – Aug 17, 2021

Health-care spending

During a media availability Wednesday, Houston said he has already met with chief medical officer of health Dr. Robert Strang and will work with him – and the other main party leaders – to deal with COVID-19 moving forward.

The Progressive Conservatives focused their platform on improving access to health care in the province, and clearly, that’s resonated with voters.

Read more: N.S. Tory leader leans left with endorsement from former NDP cabinet minister

Houston said he does not plan to cut any other services to better fund the health-care system. The Tories have promised $430 million in spending on health care during their first year in power.

“We were very up-front about the investment that’s required,” he said, adding that the province will likely run deficits for the next six years.

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“The investment we have to make is because it’s been neglected for eight years.”

Housing crisis

Nova Scotia’s rent control program, currently capped at two per cent, is set to expire early next year, or whenever the state of emergency ends. Houston said he wants to make sure there is a smooth transition of power and will work with other party leaders to discuss issues like rent control moving forward.

However, he reiterated that he doesn’t support rent control.

“I understand and sympathize with those people across this province that are in rental situations and are worried about making rent,” said the 51-year-old Houston, adding he understands “completely” because he grew up in a family of renters – even though rental prices have skyrocketed in recent years.

Click to play video: 'Decision Nova Scotia: What the results of this election could mean for the federal campaign' Decision Nova Scotia: What the results of this election could mean for the federal campaign
Decision Nova Scotia: What the results of this election could mean for the federal campaign – Aug 17, 2021

“I do not believe rent control is the solution to the housing crisis in this province.”

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Houston, responding to a question about people being forcibly evicted from their shelters Wednesday morning in Halifax, said he was saddened that people have to live in tents in the first place.

Read more: Halifax police pepper spray crowd during protests over torn-down shelters

He said they will continue to focus on solutions, which include increasing housing stock. However, that will take some time and he didn’t bring up any immediate solutions for people who are struggling now.

Fixed election dates

In terms of when MLAs can return to the legislature, Houston said the transition team will help him work through those details.

“But I will tell you this: it won’t be a full year before the legislature sits, like we’ve seen in this province,” he said.

Houston also promised to introduce legislature to implement fixed election dates in Nova Scotia, which is currently the only province that does not have them.

“It’s my intention to actually select the next election date pretty soon,” he said.

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