Nova Scotia: New Rankin government pledges focus on environment, equality, economic recovery in throne speech
The first throne speech for Premier Iain Rankin's government pledged to have a focus on inclusion, economic equality and respect for the environment.
"In framing my government's vision for Nova Scotia, it is nearly impossible to untangle and separate these three elements," according to the speech read by Lt.-Gov. Arthur LeBlanc at Province House on Tuesday.
Rankin made his commitment to the environment a key pillar of his recently successful Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership bid.
The speech also touched on the government's commitment to a more inclusive society, one that addresses issues such as systemic racism and the need for economic equality. To that end, the speech referred to the newly created Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives and the appointment of Andrea Anderson, a Black woman, as the new public service commissioner. Anderson is the first person of African descent to hold the powerful role in the Nova Scotia government.
The speech included promises of help for tourism operators, food producers and to address affordable housing. The government is awaiting the report from the new affordable housing commission, expected sometime in May, which will include recommendations.
Tory Leader Tim Houston said it's good to focus on people's well-being, but he said he wants to hear more concrete plans from Rankin and his government about how they plan to tackle certain issues affecting the public, particularly as it relates to health care. The Tories drew attention on Tuesday to the fact that 60,000 people in Nova Scotia are on a waiting list for a doctor.
NDP Leader Gary Burrill, meanwhile, said he was troubled by the absence of one subject in particular in the speech. "I think it's discouraging that we should mark the one-year point in the pandemic with a throne speech that doesn't even mention this key public health and economic issue of paid sick leave."