April 23rd, 2022

Lack of solutions for cost of living and health care crisis in Houston’s first budget session

Halifax - The Houston government has failed to effectively address the problems people in Nova Scotia are facing, especially the rising cost of living and increased health care wait times, during the spring sitting of the legislature. The NSNDP began the sitting encouraging the Houston Conservatives to steal our ideas – the offer remains on the table.

“The Legislature closed this week, but the situation where every home in Nova Scotia is under increasing pressure from the rapid rise in the cost of living doesn’t end today,” said NDP Leader Gary Burrill. “We’ve heard countless stories over the course of this sitting about the impact of increased costs for gas, food, housing, and power – yet the Houston government is satisfied to leave the legislature after less than a month.”

The proposed ten per cent rate hike from Nova Scotia Power also remains on the table. The Nova Scotia NDP tabled four pieces of legislation that would help make power bills more affordable, restrict Nova Scotia Power’s profits, address equity and sustainability when setting power rates, and address the climate emergency. The Houston government has left all of those ideas on the table.

“Power bills are rising, and a 10 per cent increase is simply unaffordable for the people and families already struggling to keep up with rising costs. To that end nothing has been done this sitting to help people with their bills,” said Claudia Chender, NDP Natural Resources and Renewables spokesperson. “And, the Houston government closes this sitting having done nothing to rein in corporate and shareholder profits or make sure that sustainability and people’s ability to pay are a legislated part of the UARB’s mandate when regulating NSP.”

The government’s long-awaited health care plan was released at the very end of the sitting while more than 27,000 people remain waiting for surgery, and the family doctor waitlist has grown to 90,000 people. The NSNDP has proposed expanding midwifery services in Nova Scotia and allowing physician assistants to work in our hospitals to help take pressure off doctors. The Houston government has not given a satisfactory answer to why they won’t provide for more health care professionals to work in Nova Scotia.

“The Houston government made a lot of promises about health care in the last eight months, but instead of solutions that could make big changes quickly, we’ve seen back-patting and arrogance from this government,” said Susan Leblanc, NDP Health and Wellness spokesperson. “The NDP Caucus would be happy for Mr. Houston to steal any of the ideas we’ve put forward so that people could get the surgery or appointment they need sooner.”

The spring sitting of the legislature is Burrill’s last as Leader of the Nova Scotia NDP. He will step down when a new Leader is chosen on June 25 and continue as the MLA for Halifax Chebucto.