Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

Nova Scotia party leaders recap election promises

In this instalment of the Election Notebook: NDP talk meals for school kids, Liberals talk child care and representation, Tories talk health care and Greens talk universal basic income.

10 days to go until votes are counted

Welcome to CBC's Election Notebook, your source for regular updates and essential news from the campaign trail.

It's Day 22 of Nova Scotia's 31-day provincial election campaign.

Party leaders rehashed previously announced election promises Friday before heading into the fourth weekend of the campaign.

For NDP Leader Gary Burrill, it was a universal school meal program his party outlined in the platform released on Day 2 of the campaign.

On Friday morning, standing outside an elementary school in Dartmouth, Burrill put a dollar figure on the program.

He said it would take $23 million annually to provide one meal per day to 100,000 students across the province. That would cover the cost of food and wages for more cafeteria workers.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill, centre, speaks with a parent of elementary school children about his proposed universal school meal program. (Robert Short/CBC)

The NDP have slowly been releasing cost details about their platform over the course of the campaign. They are expected to provide a fully costed platform before election day.

Burrill said the school meal program would start in elementary schools and later expand to junior highs. There would be an emphasis on locally produced, nutritious and culturally appropriate food, he said.

Burrill said Nova Scotia needs a universal school meal program because of its high rates of child poverty and food insecurity.

"This is an issue that we can't evade or sidestep, that we need to address. And this is an important step, this $23-million universal food program, to address it."

Sound Off: Election Edition - Episode 3

2 years ago
Duration 4:13
Party platforms, planks and political positions are coming into focus. In some cases, there are some interesting role reversals.

There is an existing school breakfast program in Nova Scotia but Burrill said it has gaps because it is largely volunteer run. 

The Liberals have pledged to expand the existing school breakfast program to include lunches.

Rankin on representation

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin stopped at the East Preston Day Care Centre Friday morning along with his party's local candidate, Angela Simmonds. He reviewed several of his election promises including $10-a-day childcare and training for 300 early childhood educators.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin sits with children playing at the East Preston Child Care Centre earlier this month. (CBC)

The Liberal platform pledges a workforce strategy that would focus on bringing more Mi'kmaq, African Nova Scotians, Acadian and francophone Nova Scotians and newcomers pursue work in the field of early childhood education.

"We need to have every Nova Scotian well represented in early childhood education and frankly in every single institution we have in the province. And these threads, this emphasis on equity and on giving Nova Scotians tools for success can be seen throughout our platform, it's not just one pillar or one section."

Houston on health care

Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston highlighted pieces of his health-care platform again Friday morning, including extended hours in operating rooms to cut down on wait times and a pension fund for doctors.

The PC platform estimates all its health-care plans would cost $430 million annually

"A failure to invest in the health of people is a failure to lead. We have the team, the plan and the vision to fix the health-care crisis and to be honest with Nova Scotians about what it's going to cost."

PC Leader Tim Houston speaking to reporters on the campaign trail. (Jeorge Sadi/CBC)

Not included in Houston's platform is a plan for physician assistants — practitioners who work under the supervision of doctors in a variety of health-care settings — but he told reporters Friday he was interested in expanding their role in Nova Scotia. 

"Physician assistants are particularly interesting to me … it's a great opportunity for this province [and] we're gonna look at every opportunity, there's no question about that."

The NDP have pledged to hire seven new physician assistants to work in primary care and emergency, in addition to the three in Nova Scotia currently working in orthopedics as part of a pilot program. Physician assistants are common in other jurisdictions in Canada and in the military.

Alexander on guaranteed income

Interim Green Leader Jessica Alexander spoke about a central tenet of her party's platform, a guaranteed income, on CBC's Information Morning Friday.

The Greens have proposed ensuring all adults receive at least $18,329 per year with the aim of lifting people out of poverty and reducing the need for other social programs. 

Jessica Alexander has been leading the Green Party of Nova Scotia for the past five years. (Green Party of Nova Scotia)

Alexander said the negative health consequences of poverty alone mean Nova Scotia is "already paying for it."

Alexander also reiterated the Green position that open pen fish farms should be phased out of use.

"It's not an industry that Nova Scotia really needs."

She said aquaculture accounted for 215 jobs in Nova Scotia in 2019, which she compared to over 18,000 in fish harvesting.

On rent control, Alexander said the Greens are not absolutely opposed, but she believes it has downsides that must be addressed.

"We don't favour an artificially depressed cost of rent... it leads to development of slums when a lot of property owners are not able to maintain buildings properly. They can lead to serious decline over time."

The NDP is running on a promise of permanent rent control. The Liberals and PCs have both said they would not extend the temporary rent cap currently in place when the COVID-19 state of emergency is lifted.

How to vote

Check whether you are registered to vote with Elections Nova Scotia.

Once registered, you can vote in advance of election day by requesting a mail-in ballot or by visiting a returning office or advance polling station.

On election day, polling stations will be open from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

More information on voting is available from


Taryn Grant


Taryn Grant is a Halifax-based reporter and web writer for CBC Nova Scotia. You can email her with tips and feedback at

With files from CBC's Information Morning