Campaign issues examined
Nova Scotians will elect a new government on Tuesday
Nova Scotians will pick the next provincial government on Tuesday and each party has made a raft of promises in a bid to woo them. Here are highlights from the Liberal, Progressive Conservative and NDP platforms:
SLOGANS Liberals: Building on a stronger Nova Scotia.
Tories: Vision. Action. Baillie. NDP: Together we can do this
HEALTH Liberals: Leader Stephen McNeil promises $34 million for new collaborative care clinics, nurses, social workers, mental health workers and other health-care workers. In a significant shift, the Liberals would allow doctors to choose where and how they practise. They also pledge to reduce wait times for hip and knee surgeries and to expand the caregiver benefit program.
Tories: Leader Jamie Baillie promises $13.5 million to hire more doctors and specialists, expanded tuition relief for doctors, investment in nurse practitioners, funding for at-home cancer medications, and administration cuts to reinvest in front-line workers. The Tories also promise $8 million for mental health crisis centres.
NDP: Leader Gary Burrill promises $120 million over four years for new doctors and primary care givers, to reverse cuts to nursing homes, to create new long-term care beds, to improve access to mental health care, to keep emergency rooms open and to double the number of midwives.
JOBS Liberals: McNeil promises $45 million over four years to create more than 2,700 jobs for young Nova Scotians through a graduate opportunity program, the Mitacs Accelerate program, vocational training in high schools and other programs. The Grits are also promising cash to support export growth and the province’s wine industry.
Tories: Baillie says his goal is to put 10,000 Nova Scotians to work rebuilding the province. The Rebuild Nova Scotia Fund, with $1 billion in provincial money, will create thousands of jobs through infrastructure spending, he promises, as will changes to the tax system.
NDP: Burrill will increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour, reverse cuts to the film tax credit and reinvest in employment programs tailored to women and African Nova Scotians.
EDUCATION Liberals: The Grits promise universal, full-day pre-Primary for four-year-olds, saving families up to $10,000 a year. Liberals would also expand the reading recovery program, expand school breakfast programs and reduce waitlists for speech and language help and psychology services.
Tories: Baillie pledges to put vocational training back in schools, at a cost of about $32 million. He’s also pledged more educational assistants, hard class caps, an end to the “no fail’’ policy, to bring university tuition down to the national average and to require universities to focus on innovation and job creation. The Tories would also spend about $27 million to reinstate the graduate retention rebate.
NDP: New Democrats promise to make daycare free for people making less than $30,000 a year, to create 400 new child-care spaces and to move towards $15-a-day childcare. The NDP also pledges to make community college free and reduce university tuition fees by 10 per cent over four years. Burrill has also promised to bring in class size caps up to Grade 12 and to increase classroom supports.
TAXATION Liberals: A cornerstone of the Liberal platform is a broad middle class tax cut, raising the basic personal exemption for anyone taking home $75,000 a year or less. Once the tax cut is fully rolled out in four years, about 500,000 people will save an average $160 and 60,000 people will no longer pay any income tax. A tax cut on small business income, meanwhile, will cost about $14 million a year.
Tories: The Tories have promised to increase the basic personal income tax credit, a move they say will help a half-million taxpayers and cost the government $276 million over four years. The small business tax threshold would increase to $500,000 from $350,000, which Baillie says will free up cash flow for businesses to grow and create jobs. Meanwhile, the party is pledging to oppose a carbon tax, and to bring back a refundable film tax credit, which Baillie estimates will cost $34 million.
NDP: The New Democrats are promising to raises taxes on Nova Scotia’s wealthiest. The new highincome bracket would tax earnings over $250,000 at a marginal rate of 24 per cent, up from the current top bracket of 21 per cent for anyone earning above $150,000. An NDP government would also reinstate the film tax credit and eliminate the provincial portion of the HST on funerals.
ETC. Liberals: McNeil says building a green, sustainable economy is a priority. He is promising to implement a cap and trade system to fight climate change and cut greenhouse gas emissions.
Tories: The PC platform commits to justice for survivors of sexual assault and abuse. Baillie promises to reverse cuts to the boots-on-thestreet program, to ensure the ongoing education of judges in sexual assault law, to pass a Dignity for Victims of Sexual Violence Act, and to require post-secondary institutions to develop sexual assault policies and supports.
NDP: Burrill says no one in Nova Scotia should be forced to go to a food bank. The New Democrats would spend $40 million ensuring that everyone on income assistance can afford to buy food at a grocery store. An NDP government would also commit to studying a basic income guarantee.