Nova Scotia

The 1 thing each main party leader says they would change

During this election all three main party leaders have talked about wanting to make Nova Scotia a better, greener and more prosperous province. But what's the one thing they would do, given the chance, and how different will the province be four years from now?

Also, how Rankin, Houston and Burrill say N.S. will be different in 4 years if their party wins the election

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

When Liberal Leader Iain Rankin officially kicked off this election campaign on July 17, he was unequivocal. 

"This election will be about how we best position the province for a strong economic recovery," he told reporters gathered outside Government House.

PC Leader Tim Houston took a similar single-issue stance.

"There's one question to be answered in this election — who can actually fix health care?" he said at his party's kick-off rally later that day.

NDP Leader Gary Burrill took a different tack, suggesting the election would revolve around people, their issues and concerns.

"Real people's real lives and what is needed in real people's real lives are going to be placed at the real front and centre of every decision that's made for the next four years in Nova Scotia, and that's what's going to happen if the NDP is elected," he told supporters.

CBC spoke to all three main party leaders to try to better understand what they want to achieve if they're chosen to lead Nova Scotia, and how the province might change under their leadership.

We asked each the same two questions. Here are their responses and some of the policies they're espousing to get them there.

You have the power to change one thing in Nova Scotia, what is it?

Rankin: "It's to deal with the climate crisis and transition off of coal."

The Liberals are promising to end Nova Scotia Power's use of coal by 2030. While in government, the Liberals have announced a number of projects aimed at greening Nova Scotia. Those include providing money to buy electric transit buses (with the help of Ottawa), and designating 14 percent of the province as protected areas.

Houston: "First thing I'm going to do is sit down with doctors. That's my focus. So sit down with doctors and make sure that we get that pension plan implemented, but make sure that we know what health-care professionals need to do their job." 

As part of its plan to attract and retain physicians, the PC Party of Nova Scotia is promising to create a pension plan for doctors, as well as create a bill code for private practitioners to bill the province for mental health support.

Burrill: "I would say that in the summer of 2021, there's a great hunger across our province being expressed in many ways, that if we could make one change in our province, we would obliterate racism in all its forms, its overt forms, its systemic forms and in many of its subtler forms as well."

The NDP has promised to end all street checks by police, provide funding for housing projects in Black communities and to explore the possibility of reparations for communities hurt as a result of racism.

If Nova Scotians (re)-elect your party as government, four years from now what's changed?

Rankin: "Universal child care. Everyone will have $10 a day child care by then and by next year, everyone's fees will be cut in half. That's a landmark deal for this province and I'm very proud of that commitment." 

Just before the election was called, Ottawa and the province announced an agreement that will see child-care costs halved in the province by the end of next year and become, on average, $10 a day by 2026. Under the deal, the federal government will commit $605 million over five years and the provincial government will add another $40 million, on top of what it currently spends on the sector.

Houston: "Access to health care, No. 1 thing."

The party has made health care the main plank in the 2021 platform, promising to spend about $430 million more starting the first year of the mandate. The plan includes building 2,500 new single long-term care beds, offering improved access to universal mental health services and attracting more doctors.

Burrill: "There will be a great deal different. There will be a system of permanent rent control so that the people of Nova Scotia will have the same protection against sudden, dramatic, unsubstantiated rent increases that are enjoyed today by a majority of Canadians. Every working person in Nova Scotia, no matter who they work for, in what setting, will have 10 paid sick days. The minimum wage will be $15 and it will be on the road toward a living wage.

"There will be a network of 14 mental health clinics across the province so the people experiencing mental health issues will be able to see you today or the next day.

"All parents of elementary school-aged and pre-primary aged children will have free before- and after-school care, and everybody who lives in a nursing home is going to be able to have confidence [that] when they reach and ring that buzzer, there's going to be enough staff on the floor of the facility where they are, but that buzzer is going to be promptly answer."

The party has promised all of the above.