Tri-County Vanguard

Houston excited about possibilit­ies ahead for Nova Scotia in 2022

Saltwire Network sat down with Premier Tim Houston as he reflected on his first months in office and what lies ahead


Overnight, Tim Houston went from a prominent position to the preeminent one in provincial politics.

“The day after the election, I was no longer anonymous anywhere in the province,” he says. “You're recognized.”

But Houston knew what he was signing up for.

After sitting for eight years in opposition and three years as leader of the Nova Scotia Progressiv­e Conservati­ve Party, he felt ready to step into the role of premier.

However, many would argue it wasn't an enviable time to take the reins.

Since assuming the position, he has had to deal with a province in the middle of a pandemic – making decisions on what rules to make or not make.

He's been handed a healthcare system that's seen everincrea­sing staffing shortages; along with an economy facing simultaneo­usly a labour shortage and waves of COVID blows.

Throw in a housing crisis and some severe weather washouts and you get a picture of Houston's first months in office.

“I feel the weight of that responsibi­lity and that just causes me to work harder and harder, because I know what's possible for this province,” Houston says.

“I feel the pressure to make sure that the right decisions are made to unlock that potential.”

Despite the many challenges the province faces, he believes there is hope.

“People are excited about what's happening in Nova Scotia and they're really excited about what's possible in the future,” Houston says. “I share their enthusiasm.”


There's no question healthcare was a top concern in the most recent provincial election, with thousands of Nova Scotians without a family doctor.

One of the first steps Houston took when he assumed power was to do a tour listening to health-care workers throughout the province.

“We know it's going to take time to really fix the health care system, but what I'm hearing is a lot of Nova Scotians sharing optimism, and they're hopeful because they can see incrementa­l change is happening.”

He believes the work his party did in opposition has set them up for success.

“We really took the time to understand the challenges and really think about how we can address those challenges with real solutions," he says. "I think people are starting to realize we were able to get to work because we did legitimate work from the opposition side.”

Some early steps he's taken were to make virtual care available to people on the waitlist for a family doctor. The government has also made a commitment that any nursing student who graduates in Nova Scotia will be guaranteed a job in the province.

But Houston continues to caution fixing the health-care system will not happen overnight.


A place that has seen growth in the province is in the number of people who live here. On Dec. 16, the government announced that Nova Scotia's population had breached a million people.

“That's a very significan­t milestone for the province,” Houston says. “It's on the way to two million. That's kind of the goal I laid out.”

Houston wants the province to reach the two-million population mark by 2060.

In some ways, the COVID pandemic helped has helped the growth with many people working remotely and longing for a quality of life offered in Nova Scotia.

Immigratio­n has also played an important role and is a key part of the premier's plans for the future. To that end, Houston says he is excited that Central Nova MP Sean Fraser is the country's immigratio­n minister.

“He understand­s Nova Scotia and the needs of Nova Scotia and we can work together to do good to increase the population,” Houston says.

In December, Houston and Fraser announced that the Atlantic Immigratio­n Project would be made permanent, helping to bring more new people to the province and alleviate labour shortages.

“They're wanting to come here and make their life here,” Houston says of immigrants.

As people move here, Houston says the government needs to do its part to ensure there is quality education and health care systems as well as other basic services that people are looking for.


It is undeniable that the service and tourism sectors have been hard hit during the COVID pandemic. Houston says he is committed to making sure that when travel does open up that Nova Scotia is on the top of people's destinatio­n lists.

“We'll make sure we market the province accordingl­y," he says. But as much as the pandemic has hurt some sectors, Houston says it has also highlighte­d the need to produce more locally.

“We've seen massive supply chain disruption­s for a lot of reasons and I think you're going to see more regional manufactur­ing and see more things produced locally," he says.

Nova Scotia has the ability to make products and grow produce that is within reach markets of nearly 200 million people in a reasonable amount of time, he says, and he hopes that potential is unlocked moving forward.

“There's tremendous opportunit­y to grow more of what we consume here in Nova Scotia," the premier says.

While he explores these new possibilit­ies, he is mindful of the challenges many Nova Scotians are facing, including rising house costs and food inflation.

“As a province, we have to be the compassion­ate, thoughtful government,” says Houston. “That's the type of government I want to be part of.”

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