N.S. politicians gear up for spring session
Published Wednesday, April 13, 2016 6:50PM ADT
Nova Scotia’s government and opposition parties are gearing up for the spring session of the provincial legislature, which begins Thursday.
Premier Stephen McNeil’s Liberal government hasn’t said what it will be focusing on tomorrow, but the opposition parties are making their mandate clear.
“We’ll be reaching out beginning tomorrow. That’s what the session of the house is about, we’ll be coming to the house prepared to present our ideas,” says Gary Burrill, newly elected leader of the N.S. NDP.
Burrill says the NDP plans to push for $15-per-hour minimum wage and guaranteed income. However, it doesn’t appear like the five NDP members will see much cooperation from the Liberal government.
“They had a whole host of issues that reflect on the expense side of the ledger. They had very little to add on the revenue side,” says Premier McNeil.
As for the Liberals, the premier says his government’s priorities will be clearly laid out in the 2016 budget, which will be tabled on Tuesday.
“Daycare affordability is part of what we will be talking about, but there will be other aspects as we table our budget,” says the Premier.
“I’ll be looking for growth opportunities in the budget this year and I really hope we see some, because at mid-term, it’s about time,” says Jamie Baillie, leader of the official opposition PC’s.
The official opposition says government’s about-face on pharmacare changes and the Yarmouth ferry deal will be top issues.
“We’ve gotta do all we can to get out of that bad ferry deal. I would renegotiate it in a second,” continued Baillie.
At the end of the last session, the Liberals forced a marathon sitting in order to pass Bill 148, which would force a wage pattern on public sector unions.
But the union representing civil servants has put off voting on a deal that includes a two-year wage freeze.
“Other unions aren’t in a position to meet yet, I think it’s a few months out when they’re going to be sitting with government,” says NSGEU vice-president Jason MacLean.
“We’ve been sitting down with all of them, doctors have been ongoing negotiations, there’s ongoing negotiations with teachers,” says the Premier.
Political scientist Jeff MacLeod says health care and budget concerns will be top of mind for government.
“The government has committed to a balanced budget sometime in the future, and it will probably frame the debate in an attempt to achieve that policy goal,” says MacLeod.
The premier wouldn’t say whether this year’s budget will be balanced.
With files from CTV Atlantic’s Sarah Ritchie.