The new MHA for Mount Pearl North was sworn in on Thursday, and Jim Lester says he is already hearing from constituents who are struggling to make ends meet.

"This time of year is a very challenging time of year for a lot of people, and as elected officials … we do our best to try to help those people out," he said, just after taking the oath of office at Government House.

"Everything from financial challenges to additional strain and stress of the holidays. It's a tough time of year for everybody, especially if you are experiencing any sort of family disruption or income reduction."

Jim Lester with nan

Lester is congratulated by his nan as he moves from the farm into the House of Assembly. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Lester, a farmer who won the district for the Progressive Conservatives in a Nov. 21 byelection, took his seat in the legislature on the day before the House of Assembly adjourned for Christmas.

"It's been a bit of a challenge. I mean, there's no doubt about it," said Lester. "Usually the individuals I deal with don't speak human, on my farm."

He'll be putting his background to use as the party's agrifoods critic, and will also shadow the minister responsible for Newfoundland and Labrador Housing.