Nova Sco­tia NDP leader prom­ises to re­open talks with prov­ince’s teach­ers

Cape Breton Post - - Province/atlantic -

In the first full week­end of cam­paign­ing, Nova Sco­tia’s New Democrats took aim at the Lib­eral govern­ment’s rocky track record with teach­ers.

NDP leader Gary Bur­rill pledged to re­voke a con­tro­ver­sial bill that im­posed a con­tract on the prov­ince’s 9,300 pub­lic school teach­ers and re­open ne­go­ti­a­tions with the union.

“Bill 75 is such an anti-demo­cratic piece of leg­is­la­tion that it’s not a bit of an ex­ag­ger­a­tion to say that it’s im­moral,” he told re­porters Satur­day af­ter a lively cam­paign rally at the NDP head­quar­ters in Hal­i­fax. “Peo­ple have to have the right to free and fair col­lec­tive bar­gain­ing.”

Bur­rill, a United Church min­is­ter run­ning in Hal­i­fax Che­bucto, also promised to in­tro­duce class-size caps for all grades at a cost of $9.3 million a year if elected May 30.

In ad­di­tion, he said an NDP govern­ment would hire more class­room sup­port work­ers like psy­chol­o­gists and speech pathol­o­gists.

Bur­rill said the “small army of ed­u­ca­tional spe­cial­ists” would cost $7 million a year.

The NDP cam­paign com­mit­ment on ed­u­ca­tion comes af­ter the prov­ince’s Lib­er­als out­lined plans this week to launch a pre-pri­mary pi­lot pro­gram for about 750 four-year-olds across the prov­ince.

Lib­eral Leader Stephen McNeil said the pro­gram would be rolled out this fall in 30 lo­ca­tions, mostly in ex­ist­ing schools, with 25 chil­dren and two early child­hood ed­u­ca­tors per class.

While Bur­rill ac­knowl­edged the im­por­tance of early child­hood ed­u­ca­tion, he said it’s “darn funny” the Lib­er­als came for­ward with a com­mit­ment to pri­mary ed­u­ca­tion at the end of their term.

Mean­while, Nova Sco­tia’s Pro­gres­sive Con­ser­va­tive leader pledged to dou­ble the prov­ince’s ru­ral road main­te­nance bud­get to $32 million, up from $16 million.

Jamie Bail­lie said the bud­get was slashed under the for­mer NDP govern­ment and only marginally im­proved under the Lib­er­als.

“Since the Lib­er­als formed govern­ment, they have nickel-and-dimed ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties,” Bail­lie said in a state­ment be­fore tour­ing ru­ral roads in Colch­ester Val­ley .“Fail­ing to in­vest more in the (Ru­ral Im­pact Mit­i­ga­tion) bud­get means more dan­ger­ous roads, more money spent on vehicle re­pairs and ru­ral ar­eas fall­ing into dis­re­pair.”

CP PHOTO

Nova Sco­tia NDP leader Gary Bur­rill, right, speaks with peo­ple at a Tim Hor­tons dur­ing a cam­paign stop in Hal­i­fax on Fri­day.

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