Keeping track of the N.S. election and promises from main party leaders

Nova Scotia will hold its first summer election since 2003. Political scientists say an off-season election could have an impact on voter engagement and turnout. Sarah Ritchie has more.

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.

Read more:
COVID-19 and Nova Scotia’s first summer election since 2003: What does it all mean

Check back, as Global News keeps a tally of the major parties’ promises as the campaign rolls on.

Liberals

August 15 

Rankin said a re-elected Liberal government will increase the number of midwives in Nova Scotia from 16 to 24, including expanded coverage in Annapolis Valley and Cape Breton.

August 14 

Rankin said a re-elected Liberal government would apply to a federal program to twin Highway 103 from Hubbards to Bridgewater and Highway 104 from Antigonish to Port Hawkesbury, with the province’s share of the cost for the two projects pegged at $237 million.

In addition, he said the Liberals would expand the gravel road improvement program first announced in 2017 by 50 per cent to $30 million, and would also double the amount allotted to repairing rural roads to $22 million.

August 12

Rankin spent Thursday campaigning in and around the Halifax Regional Municipality.

A re-elected Liberal government, he said, would grant $300,000 for affordable housing to a community group in the historically African Nova Scotian area of Upper Hammonds Plains. Upper Hammonds Plains was settled in 1815 by about 500 Black people after the War of 1812. The funding, Rankin said, would help the group create a community land trust to organize the housing project.

August 11 

Rankin announced today that a re-elected Liberal government would expand the list of presumptive cancers for volunteer and professional firefighters from six to 17.

The coverage is under the Workers’ Compensation Act.

The party said that expanding the list of presumptive cancers could help recruit more volunteer firefighters.

The PCs made a similar announcement on this day.

August 9

Nova Scotia’s Liberal leader said his party will implement a COVID-19 vaccination passport system.

Rankin told reporters that although the so-called “ScotiaPass” would not be mandatory, it would provide businesses such as restaurants, with a tool to help keep their patrons safe.

Rankin’s announcement was the first COVID-related policy announcement made by any of the parties in the provincial election.

August 8

Rankin said his party’s $4-billion plan to upgrade Nova Scotia health-care facilities will transform the way services are delivered, but critics say not enough is being done to support people with disabilities.

Ranking said his party’s health-care infrastructure plan will see new hospitals, emergency care centres and community health clinics built across the province.

He said the new facilities will improve patient safety through enhanced infection controls and new operating rooms, among other upgrades, which will help attract more doctors to the province.

August 6 

The Nova Scotia Liberals focused their election campaign on equity in child care.

The Liberals signed a deal with the federal government before the election call, committing to $10-a-day child care in the province.

Rankin said his party is committed to social justice and equity issues and helping those disproportionately affected by the pandemic.

August 4 

Nova Scotia’s Liberals pegged the cost of their election campaign commitments at $454.7 million over four years.

Rankin said $93.2 million is earmarked to be spent in the first year of a new mandate.

About $127 million is committed to health care, $77.8 million to skills and job training and $183 million toward economic and business programs.

Rankin also presented four new initatives in the platform, including a $30 million, 10-year funding commitment for the Centre for Ocean Ventures and Entrepreneurship in Dartmouth, which researches innovative technologies for the ocean.

Rankin announced $6 million for the cultural sector, including for a new $3 million dollar “content creator fund” to help boost local talent.

As well, he promised to create a new cabinet position called minister of digital government.

August 3 

Nova Scotia’s Liberal party released its environmental platform, which highlights previously set targets for greenhouse gas reduction along with a new promise to increase protected land in the province.

Much of the $173 million in promised spending over four years has already been set out as part of government policy or was announced before the Aug. 17 election was called.

August 2 

Rankin promised Friday to having his justice minister review and modernize the legislation on public information.

In contrast, the NDP and the Progressive Conservatives say that if they are elected in the Aug. 17 election, they would make information commissioner Tricia Ralph an independent officer of the legislature with order-making powers.

Rankin said if elected, he’s committed to having more “up-to-date legislation that allows easier access to public information.”

August 1

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.

July 30 

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.

July 29

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.

July 27

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.

July 26 

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.

July 25

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.

July 23

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.

July 22

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.

July 21 

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.

July 20

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.  

July 19

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.

Progressive Conservatives

August 14 

So far, Houston has almost singularly focused on the need to fix the province’s health system and is using the final days of the campaign
to hammer away at what’s seen as a vulnerability for the incumbent Liberals.

He entered the weekend having won an endorsement for his party’s health stance on Friday from Denise Peterson-Rafuse, who was a member of former NDP premier Darrell Dexter’s cabinet.

August 12 

Houston said he supports farmers and to encourage young people to enter the agricultural sector, those under the age of 30 who become agriculture technicians and “others in demand trade professions” will pay no tax on their first $50,000 of income.

August 11

Houston said the party wants to help seniors who want to stay in their homes. He promised that a PC government would establish a $500 Seniors’ Care Grant “to help with household services” for seniors who live independently.

The grant can be used towards services such as snow removal, home repairs, and grocery delivery.

Houston also promised to extend presumptive coverage to more forms of cancer for firefighters. A similar announcement was made by the Liberals on this day.

August 9

Houston promised a PC government would cover about 40 per cent of the cost of fertility treatments provided by a licensed medical practitioner or infertility treatment clinic in Nova Scotia.

People can claim up to a maximum of $20,000 in eligible costs for a maximum of $8,000 a year.

The PC said they recognize the struggle that hopeful parents face and Houston said it is time Nova Scotia joined other provinces in supporting those who hope to conceive.

August 8

Nova Scotia’s Progressive Conservatives promised a $500 tax credit for people who adopt a dog from a recognized shelter if the party is elected to govern on Aug. 17.

Houston said dogs provide mental and physical health benefits and the tax incentive will encourage people to develop healthy routines after a difficult COVID-19 pandemic.

He said the tax credit for adopted dogs is a small but important piece of his health-focused platform, which pledges more doctors, more timely mental health supports and a commitment to long-term care.

August 6 

Houston took aim at the previous government’s track record on tackling the waitlist for doctors.

Houston said the most recent numbers released by the Nova Scotia Health Authority showed the wait list has grown by 2,600 people since the campaign started. There are now 71,600 people waiting for a family doctor.

August 3 

Houston vowed to revitalize rural rinks through the Rink Sustainability Fund to help with repairs and maintenance of aging facilities.

As well, Houston said a PC government would introduce the Kids Activity Tax Credit to cover the costs of enrolling children in sports and arts activities. Parents would be able to claim $500 per child each year.

August 2 

Houston continued to push his party’s plan to improve a health system he says is overstressed.

He said that to assist with staff recruitment, the Tories would also reinstate a continuing-care assistant training grant that was discontinued by the Liberals in 2013. At a cost of $4.5 million, the grant would fund 50 per cent of tuition costs in exchange for a two-year commitment from trainees to stay and work in the province.

As well, the party said that if they are elected in the Aug. 17 election, they will make information commissioner Tricia Ralph an independent officer of the legislature with order-making powers.

July 30 

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.

July 29 

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.

July 27

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.

July 26

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.

July 25

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.

July 23

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.”

July 22 

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.

July 21 

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.

July 20 

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.”

July 19

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.

NDP

August 14 

Burrill was in Cape Breton where he again stressed his health plan for the island during stops in three Sydney-area ridings.

The NDP unveiled its health plan for Cape Breton earlier in the campaign, with promises to keep hospitals open in New Waterford and North Sydney, which are currently slated for closure.

He also pledged to create 400 more long-term care beds and to establish a mobile mental health crisis response team on the island.

August 11 

Burrill teamed up with federal NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh to discuss the need for a national universal pharmacare program.

Burrill said a quarter of prescriptions written in Nova Scotia aren’t filled because residents can’t afford to pay the cost of medication.

He announced a provincial NDP government would introduce free birth control for anyone without private coverage.

Burrill said the party would also expand provincial coverage to include HIV PrEP medication and the shingles vaccine, as well as put $1 million into the Nova Scotia insulin pump program.

This prescription coverage commitment would cost $11.3 million annually.

August 10

Burrill spent the day campaigning in the Halifax area and the South Shore. He said if an NDP government is elected, he will stop the proposed sale of Owls Head, a formerly protected area on the Eastern Shore.

There is a proposal now for a golf course development on the land.

August 9

The NDP released its costed election platform, saying it would spend $151 million during its first year in power for initiatives such as affordable housing, mental health care, child care and long-term care.

On their big-ticket items, the New Democrats are pledging $158.4 million over four years to build 1,000 community housing units and $386 million for new and replacement long-term care beds. The party said that much of those capital costs would be shared with the federal and municipal levels of government.

August 7

Burrill spoke at a rally in Halifax to call on the province to halt the sale of more than 705 acres of crown land known as Owls Head to a U.S. developer who wants to build several golf courses.

The contentious sale of Owls Head is quickly becoming a major issue on the campaign trail.

The NDP said they would stop the sale of Owls Head and commit to ensuring no other park that is pending protection would be “sold in secret.”

The party also promised that an NDP government would move Nova Scotia towards protecting 25 per cent of the land and and water by 2025, and 30 per cent by 2030, in line with international commitments.

August 6 

Burrill said his party would provide healthy meals in schools.

The NDP plan would increase school cafeteria workers to a ratio of one for every 150 students and cost parents about $2 a day for the meal.

Burrill said it’s a step towards addressing child poverty.

August 5 

The NDP promised to open more collaborative emergency centres to improve wait times for ambulances.

Collaborative emergency centres represent a novel way of providing enhanced primary and emergency care. They were introduced in Nova Scotia in 2011 by the former NDP government led by Darrell Dexter. The goal was to address gaps in rural access to emergency care.

August 3

The NDP focused on affordable housing today, with Burrill vowing to build 1,000 new affordable housing units in four years at a cost of $39.6 million per year.

He said that units will be made possible through investing in publicly-owned, co-operative, and non-profit housing.

August 2 

The NDP said that if they are elected in the Aug. 17 election, they will make information commissioner Tricia Ralph an independent officer of the legislature with order-making powers.

July 31 

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.

July 30 

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.

July 29

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.

July 27

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.

July 26

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.

July 24

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.

July 23

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.

July 22

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.

July 21 

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.

July 20

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.”

July 19

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.

July 18

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 

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