AMHERST – A year after first being elected as an MLA, Elizabeth Smith-McCrossin said she’s a still determined as ever to put Cumberland North on the provincial map.
Speaking to members of the Amherst Rotary Club near the anniversary of her win in last May’s provincial election, Smith-McCrossin said it has been an honour to serve Cumberland North over the last year, but she still has lots of work to do.
“It has been a real learning curve for me with the commitment in the legislature, but I’m fully committed moving forward to continue serving the people of Cumberland North and also looking to serve as a potential leader for the PC Party of Nova Scotia,” the MLA said.
Soon after she was elected a year ago, Smith-McCrossin shared her long-range strategic plan with the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce saying the economy and access to health care would be her priorities.
Those are still important goals for Smith-McCrossin, who said she remains concerned with the impact tolls on the Cobequid Pass are continuing to have on Cumberland County businesses and how a provincial plan to continue tolls for commercial vehicles makes no sense to businesses on this side of the toll plaza.
“It’s important that the people in Halifax hear the concerns of the people and business owners of Cumberland County,” she said. “It directly financially impacts our businesses in ways that it doesn't in other parts of the province.”
The provincial government has promised on several occasions to remove the controversial tolls on the 44-km highway as soon as the road, opened in 1997, is paid for. However, Premier Stephen McNeil has said it’s possible commercial vehicles will continue paying the toll, as well as out-of-province vehicles.
For companies in Cumberland County, she sees this as an added tax that will continue to impact their competitiveness and views it as a disincentive for businesses to consider locating in the county.
She also remains concerned with the state of health care in the riding, amid concerns with a shortage of specialists and doctors and long wait times at the Cumberland Regional Health Care Centre’s emergency department because of continued ER closures in rural hospitals in Pugwash, Springhill and Parrsboro.
She is working with doctors and nurses, as well as with municipal leaders in Amherst, Cumberland County and Oxford to find solutions and ideas they can take to the Nova Scotia Health Authority and Health and Wellness.
“We have a very strong medical staff that is committed to this area. Not every hospital has that, so we’re very lucky we have such committed medical professionals and the areas that need work, they and the community are committed to helping find solutions,” she said.
Smith-McCrossin said she is continuing to watch the slow progress of the new health care facility promised for Pugwash to replace the aging North Cumberland Memorial Hospital.
“We want to make sure it’s not another forgotten election promise,” she said.