The government of Premier Darrell Dexter announced Tuesday it will continue to move the province forward by seizing opportunities that will make life better for Nova Scotians. Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant opened the new session of the legislature by reading the speech from the throne.
HALIFAX â€“ The province announced Tuesday it will continue to move Nova Scotia forward by seizing opportunities that will make life better for families now, and build a better future for generations to come.
Lt.-Gov. J.J. Grant opened the Fifth Session of the 61st General Assembly of Nova Scotia with the Speech from the Throne. In it, Premier Darrell Dexter outlined how the province is starting to turn the corner with new opportunities and jobs.
"We believe in Nova Scotia and we're fighting for it," said Premier Dexter. "That means competing for new businesses and jobs, building a made-in-Atlantic Canada clean energy future with Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link, and investing in education and skills training.
"This session will continue to build momentum on those opportunities, and will help Nova Scotia families better prepare for the good jobs and other benefits that these projects will bring."
The cornerstone of the spring legislative session will be fulfilling the commitment to Nova Scotians to balance the budget, the premier said.
"The past four years have required sacrifice and commitment," Premier Dexter said. "The credit for getting back to balance belongs to all Nova Scotians. Our province is one of the only ones in Canada that will table a balanced budget this year, and we will do that while protecting the programs and services families and seniors need and depend on."
Nova Scotia is facing unprecedented opportunities with the shipbuilding contracts, Muskrat Falls and the Maritime Link, new high-tech jobs, renewed offshore exploration and a revitalized forest industry. jobsHere, the province's plan to create good jobs and grow the economy, is ensuring that Nova Scotia is ready to seize those opportunities with a continued focus on innovation, competitiveness and learning.
As part of jobsHere, the Productivity Investment Program has already benefited more than 400 Nova Scotia businesses and resulted in the private investment of more than $105 million to improve the productivity of local companies. Some 10,000 Nova Scotia workers have also upgraded their skills and are claiming better jobs for the future.
Children deserve to have the best possible start in life to help them develop to their full potential. Nova Scotians will see a renewed focus on children and youth this session, including the creation of the Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.
The department will bring together dedicated staff from Education, Community Services, and Health and Wellness in an Early Years branch to improve the way the province supports children and their families in the first years of life.
Nova Scotia will soon have its first housing strategy, helping to make home ownership a reality for families with modest incomes. The plan will also help increase the supply of affordable housing with a focus on mixed-use development.
Government will introduce the province's first sustainable transportation strategy to encourage people to drive less and to travel actively and more efficiently.
In partnership with universities and the private sector, the province will launch Nova Scotia's first Innovation Summit to spur commercialization of research and move Nova Scotia into a leadership position as a competitive and innovative force in the global economy.
The province reaffirmed its commitment to support the commercial fishery by promoting training, skills development and safe practices by assisting fishers in their efforts to create the Fish Harvesters Registration and Certification Board.
Buying locally produced foods means Nova Scotians are getting fresher, healthier food and practicing environmental responsibility. Government will increase Buy Local efforts through an expanded Select Nova Scotia marketing and awareness campaign to educate people on where their food comes from and the importance of supporting local farmers, fishers and vendors.
Over the past three years, the government has made historic investments in the province's roads, highways, bridges and other infrastructure. The province is reaffirming its commitment to work with the federal government on the next phase of infrastructure funding, to begin in 2014.
Premier Dexter and other government representatives have met extensively with former residents of the Nova Scotia Home for Coloured Children who allege they were abused, as well as other members of the African Nova Scotian community.
From those meetings, the province announced it will appoint an independent panel that will provide a forum for people to share and have their voices heard. Government will develop the Terms of Reference for the panel in consultation with the community.
Legislation was also addressed. This year, the province will introduce legislation to better protect animals and stiffen penalties for animal abusers.