Nova Scotia·Nova Scotia Votes

New promises from some party leaders with one week to go until election day

In this instalment of the Election Notebook: New Democrats pledge income assistance bump and release platform costs, Liberals promise vaccine passports, Tories talk fertility treatment.

All 3 major parties have now released cost of election promises

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


It's Day 25 of Nova Scotia's 31-day provincial election campaign.

With one week to go in the election campaign, some of Nova Scotia's party leaders pulled out new promises Monday.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill started his week with a pledge to raise income assistance rates by $90 a month. The bump would be on top of the $100 raise made by the Liberal government earlier this year.

Burrill said the annual price tag for raising the rate would be about $27.5 million. 

Also Monday, Burrill's party released cost details for its full suite of election promises — details that have been anticipated since the party released its platform on the second day of the campaign.

The first year of an NDP government would see spending to the tune of $257 million. Some of the promises included in that figure include free birth control, a child and youth advocate, municipal climate change adaptation, and the elimination of ambulance fees.

The NDP also put price tags on its proposed capital projects, including the construction of 1,000 new affordable housing units at $158.4 million, and the construction of new long-term care beds at $386 million.

Cost comparison

All three major parties have now estimated how much their election promises would cost. 

The Progressive Conservatives said their first year would cost $553 million — a figure that includes major capital projects like the construction of 2,500 new long-term care beds.

From left to right: PC Party of Nova Scotia Leader Tim Houston, Nova Scotia NDP Leader Gary Burrill, and Nova Scotia Liberal Party Leader Iain Rankin. (CBC)

The Liberals said they would need to spend $93 million in their first year to deliver on election promises that include additional seats for a variety of post-secondary programs, and mental health walk-in clinics. 

The cost of the Liberals' plans vary over each of the next four years, totalling nearly $455 million. Their cost estimate does not include any pre-election spending announcements, including the construction of hundreds of new long-term care beds.

Liberals talk vaccine passports

Meanwhile, Liberal Leader Iain Rankin pledged to create a vaccine passport called ScotiaPass if the Liberals form government.

Private businesses including restaurants, gyms and retailers could ask to see it before allowing patrons to enter. It would not be mandatory for businesses to ask for the passport, but Rankin said that could change if COVID-19 cases begin to surge.

Quebec is implementing a similar system as a fourth wave looms in that province. It isn't mandatory yet, but Quebec Premier François Legault said last week that vaccine passports will soon be required to access non-essential services.

Tories on fertility treatment

At a campaign event Monday, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston highlighted his party's pledge to offer a tax break to people struggling to conceive.

The PC platform includes a tax credit for fertility treatment worth $8,000 annually, or about 40 per cent of the average cost of a cycle of in vitro fertilization.

Houston said the high cost of IVF and other treatments shouldn't stop anyone from having children. 

"We recognize this inequity and want to ensure that no one in this province feels like there are too many barriers for them to start a family, especially when those barriers don't exist for everyone," he said.

To be eligible for the tax credit, the treatment has to be provided by a medical practitioner licensed to practise in Nova Scotia or at a local fertility clinic. Individuals can claim up to $20,000 in eligible costs and the credit maxes out annually at $8,000.

Five other provinces cover some fertility-related costs. The Green Party of Nova Scotia is the only other party to raise the issue of fertility treatment in its platform this election. The Greens promise universal access to fertility services for anyone who needs them.

No foul, says election agency

Officials with Elections Nova Scotia say a Halifax-based website flagged by the Progressive Conservatives has not violated the Elections Act during the campaign.

The Tories filed the complaint after concerns that Urban Halifax and the website's operator, John Grant, was posting partisan information that was either untrue or violated rules about third-party advertising. Grant is open about his support for the Nova Scotia Liberal Party and at one time worked for the party.

In a letter to Grant, chief electoral officer Richard Temporale writes that Elections Nova Scotia does not believe that, to date, he's violated the act.

"Please ensure you contemplate your current and future activities with consideration to the relevant sections of the Elections Act," Temporale wrote in the letter, which Grant shared with CBC News.

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Grant said he was pleased with the findings, in particular because he's received no money from the Liberals or anyone else for posts on his blog. Still, Grant said Urban Halifax would no longer include explicitly partisan posts regarding the Nova Scotia Liberal Party.

Although his posts have been within the letter of the law, Grant said the change reflects other concerns.

"I've listened to my readers and they've made it clear that it is a conflict," he said.

The blog will continue to include his opinions on a variety of topics, said Grant, including what's happening in the Halifax Regional Municipality and politics at other levels.

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 electionsnovascotia.ca.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Taryn Grant

Reporter

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

With files from Michael Gorman

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