Nova Scotia

'A message for all of us': McNeil sober about loss of seats amid win

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil says his government will stick with the budget it laid out days before calling the provincial election.

'I think they felt their voice was not being heard,' Stephen McNeil says of Cape Breton voters

Premier Stephen McNeil speaks with reporters at the Nova Scotia Legislature on Wednesday. (Robert Short/CBC)

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil acknowledged voters had sent his party a message by defeating a number of incumbents in Tuesday's election, even as he celebrated his second majority government.

"Our party lost some very valuable people," he told CBC's Information Morning on Wednesday. They include cabinet ministers Michel Samson of Cape Breton-Richmond and Joanne Bernard of Dartmouth North.

"It's not been without a message for all of us."

The win marks only the second time in nearly 30 years that a Nova Scotia government has achieved a back-to-back majorities. The last time was in 1988 under PC leader John Buchanan.

The Liberals did, however, drop six seats from their showing in the 2013 election.

'No short-term fix'

McNeil said he understood that Cape Breton residents, who in Tuesday's vote turfed three Liberal incumbents on the island, believed they were being short-changed in health care, particularly in the lack of doctors serving the region.

"I think they felt their voice was not being heard."

Nonetheless, McNeil was firm that the dissatisfaction would not result in a return to the creation of regional health authorities.

"I absolutely believe one health authority is enough."

Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil leaves the polling station in Granville Centre, N.S. on Tuesday after voting. (Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press)

He chided those, whom he believes, are seeking quick solutions to the province's health-care woes.

"Everyone looks for a short-term fix. There is no short-term fix ... [it's] tough to look beyond that."

The Liberals have said they intend to increase the province's physician residency seats by 20, which will add 56 family practice doctors, as well as increase specialist positions by 15, five of which would go directly to Cape Breton. Seven nurse practitioners are also slated for the region under the plan.

Lower voter turnout

McNeil was also adamant that the Liberals will stick with the budget they laid out days before calling the provincial election.

"We have every intention of delivering that budget."

There is no date for recalling the provincial House of Assembly. McNeil said MLAs must be sworn in first and then a 30-day notice is required.

One downside to the Liberals' win is the drop in voter turnout, he said.

"That is the saddest thing about last night," McNeil said.

With files from CBC Information Morning


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