The MLA's Desk

Brian Skabar
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Legislature closes with promises of good things for low-income families

Well, I’m back. After almost seven weeks in a very productive second session of the 62nd general assembly, I am back in my Church St. office, so please stop in when you get a chance and tell us what’s important to you.

The government passed 29 bills this session including the budget that outlines the first steps to restoring our provinces books back to balance. It also includes many measures to help make life better for today’s families. I am pleased that we have provided additional support for low and modest income families through the Affordable Living Tax credit. Households earning less than $30,000 annually are eligible for this quarterly payment that will benefit 225,000 families province wide. We also removed the provincial tax on the Guaranteed Income Supplement, which eliminated a financial burden on low income seniors. And to keep life affordable for families we implemented a point-of-sale provincial portion of the HST rebate on children’s clothing and footwear, diapers and feminine hygiene products. In tough economic times our NDP government believes that you should never have to struggle to purchase necessities.

Cumberland North specifically received good news in this budget, as funding has been set aside for a new West Highlands school. This year $1.1 million has been allocated for the design and planning phase of the project. The new school was a commitment made to our community in 2009 and reiterated by both myself and Premier Dexter.

I’ve had a number of conversations with Finance Minister Graham Steele and his staff about the possible implications the HST increase could have on our area. We will continue to monitor cross-border activities and explore possible solutions and opportunities for the area. In fact, Minister Steele was here May 19, to discuss the issue with the folks at CREDA and other local businesses.   

I would like to take a moment to thank the Amherst Chamber of Commerce for their work promoting local businesses. They are the foundation of our community. Think of the countless hockey, soccer and baseball teams that wouldn’t exist if not for our generous local sponsors. Think, also, of the many not-for-profit groups that benefit from business donors.

Gwen Kerr had an interesting article in the Amherst Daily on May 11, in which she outlined 11 reasons to shop locally. I can’t list them all here, but some of her points include its positive impact on the environment (less distance to drive, fewer pollutants) and access to the right products (local businesses select products based on local needs).

The Town of Amherst sign boasts, “Faith in our people, pride in our products.” Let’s work together and live up to this motto. By supporting our business owners, we ultimately contribute to the community as a whole. 

With that motto in mind, I am still disappointed with the report from the Utility and Review Board on the border gas-tax issue. I continue to have on-going discussions with the Premier and Minister Jennex about what the next steps will be. Our government will take everything into consideration and make a decision in due course.

I had the honour of attending a very special event at Pugwash District High School on May 13. To celebrate the new technology centre, Dr. Willard S. Boyle, recipient of the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physics, shared his experiences with the students and guests. Dr. Boyle was born in Amherst, and spends his time between his homes in Halifax and Wallace.

I was excited to attend the Canada Games Torch Run in Amherst on May 14. Amherst has been selected as one of only four “Kick off Celebration sites” for the 2011 Canada Games to be held in Halifax next winter.  

With fewer trips to Halifax on the horizon, I have more time to catch up with my constituents and their issues and concerns. A lot has happened in the past several months and I’d like to hear from you. Please, call my office at 667-9812 if you’d like to schedule a meeting.  

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