N.S. elec­tion has key is­sues

Cape Breton Post - - Province / Atlantic -

A look at some of the ma­jor is­sues in Nova Sco­tia’s elec­tion cam­paign:

Bal­anced Books: The Lib­er­als will por­tray them­selves as good fis­cal man­agers, hav­ing bal­anced the books in the last two years of their man­date and at a time when some gov­ern­ments in At­lantic Canada are run­ning mas­sive deficits. The Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tives will counter that the gov­ern­ment has done lit­tle to grow the econ­omy by way of tax cuts for busi­nesses. The NDP will main­tain that more spend­ing is needed in health care and com­mu­nity ser­vices.

Labour Re­la­tions: The Lib­er­als have gained a rep­u­ta­tion as hard-lin­ers when it comes to deal­ing with pub­lic sec­tor unions. The elec­tion comes on the heels of a con­tentious dis­pute with 9,000 teach­ers that saw the gov­ern­ment im­pose a con­tract af­ter the union re­jected three ten­ta­tive deals. There is still no deal with the civil ser­vice or with sev­eral health-care units. Unions will also point to the un­pro­claimed Bill 148, which could be used to im­pose set­tle­ments and re­strict ar­bi­trated set­tle­ments.

Ed­u­ca­tion: Some blow­back from the teach­ers’ con­tract dis­pute will also be felt as the Lib­er­als move to ad­dress class­room work­ing con­di­tions and to ad­dress the highly charged is­sue of class­room in­clu­sion. The Lib­er­als will de­fend their record, say­ing they have ful­filled prom­ises to re­store an in­creased level of fund­ing for the sys­tem to ad­dress such things as class­room caps and re­vamp­ing the cur­ricu­lum.

Health: Both the Tories and the NDP will ham­mer hard on an un­ful­filled Lib­eral prom­ise from the 2013 elec­tion of a fam­ily doc­tor for ev­ery Nova Sco­tian. Gov­ern­ment fig­ures re­leased in March in­di­cated just over 25,000 peo­ple were on the wait list for ac­cess to a fam­ily doc­tor or a nurse prac­ti­tioner, although fig­ures re­leased by Sta­tis­tics Canada said 11.3 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion, or just over 100,000 peo­ple, did not have ac­cess to a health-care provider. The Lib­er­als will counter that an­other kept prom­ise to merge health au­thor­i­ties has re­sulted in a more ef­fi­cient health sys­tem. An­other con­tentious is­sue to be raised will be the gov­ern­ment’s abrupt shelv­ing of a plan that would have tripled phar­ma­care pre­mi­ums for some se­niors.

Econ­omy and Jobs: Both the Tories and the NDP will point to a net loss of jobs over the gov­ern­ment’s man­date as proof the Lib­er­als had no plan for the sput­ter­ing econ­omy. The Lib­er­als will point to gains in im­mi­gra­tion and to pro­grams aimed at re­tain­ing uni­ver­sity-and col­lege-ed­u­cated work­ers in the pro­fes­sions and trades as proof of some progress in a prov­ince fac­ing de­mo­graphic chal­lenges.

Arts and Cul­ture: The Lib­er­als’ move to axe the prov­ince’s lu­cra­tive film tax credit early in

its man­date could likely have a lin­ger­ing ef­fect in the cam­paign, par­tic­u­larly in some Hal­i­fax rid­ings.

Yar­mouth Ferry: Although all three par­ties sup­port the Yar­mouth to Port­land, Maine, ferry, the level of tax­payer fund­ing will be raised by the op­po­si­tion. The Lib­er­als will point to an up­swing in the tourism sec­tor as proof the ferry is a much needed eco­nomic en­gine in south­west­ern Nova Sco­tia.

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