Fall 2018 Update
We’re deep into fall in Nova Scotia. Before the holidays are upon us, here is an update of the last legislative session, what our office has been up to, and some “news you can use”.
As always, if you have any questions about this or anything else please don’t hesitate to reach out to our office by email or phone (902) 406-2301, or pay us a visit at 120 - 33 Ochterloney St.
DOCTORS IN DARTMOUTH
As of November 1st, NHSA reported that 439 people from Dartmouth South had found a Primary Care Provider since November 2016. Unfortunately, 2,735 are still without Primary Care.
If you do not have a family doctor, please put your name on the waitlist by calling 811 or visiting needafamilypractice.nshealth.ca. Note that if you receive an offer of a doctor that is too far away for you to reasonably visit, you can refuse that doctor without losing your spot on the waitlist. You may also call 811 for non-emergency health-related advice.
Recently our office has been informed that the Dartmouth Medical Centre, Royal Bank Building, 44-46 Portland Street, has new doctors who are accepting patients. All doctors were recruited from the United Kingdom, where they had established practices.The main line for the Dartmouth Medical Centre is 902-465-4530. If you are in need of a physician we encourage you to call as soon as you can.
The largest piece of legislation considered this fall was the new Traffic Safety Act, and the Motor Vehicle Act (Amended) replacing the old Motor Vehicle Act. The new Acts essentially modernize the old one. People were particularly happy to see the inclusion of “vulnerable transit users” referring to people on bicycles. There was some disappointment, however, at the fact that despite consistent lobbying by municipalities and active transportation groups, municipalities were not given the power to reduce speed limits. They must still apply to the Province in each and every instance. For a municipality the size of HRM with an entire department that handles this, it doesn’t make sense at all. Hopefully this is something that will change in the future.
The government also introduced an amendment to the Labour Standards Code. The rationale was to update the Code to allow for Nova Scotians to take advantage of the new extended 18 month parental leave introduced by the federal government. Unfortunately, the bill as passed does not reduce the timing for job protection to bring it into line with the time period for benefit eligibility, which would be around 17 weeks. The current time period for job protection in Nova Scotia is one year, the longest in the country. The Minister has offered assurances that this can and will be changed in the regulations, and has promised this change would occur before Christmas. I took place in a consultation session with the Department of Labour and Advanced Education on November 12, and am looking forward to the changes being announced soon.
The fall sitting saw the introduction of a name change and expanded scope for Develop NS, formerly Waterfront Development Corporation. Chief among their new major projects is the huge investment in rural internet announced by the government in the Spring and which we’ll be watching very closely as the rollout begins in the new year. You can read more about the plans here.
I also introduced a bill calling for the newly formed Provincial Advisory Council on Education (PACE) to have two public meetings per year and to publish the minutes and agenda of each meeting. In the absence of elected School Boards, it’s very difficult for parents and the public to keep on top of the developments in education. PACE met for the first time recently. The Minister has agreed to publish agendas and minutes of the meetings, which is a start, but we will continue to lobby for at least one open meeting.
I was proud to introduce a Private Members Bill that would restrict large property holders from placing covenants on the sale of property which restrict grocery or pharmacy. There are currently several of these covenants in place, most notably on the old Sobey’s property on Pleasant Street next to the Pleasant Street Diner. Thanks to the Pleasant—Woodside Neighborhood Association for working on this issue.
I’ve been out canvassing the community and regularly hear how proud people are to live in Dartmouth South. Unfortunately, I am also hearing more about the lack of doctors and the fallout from the education changes enacted by the government in the spring.
There are always issues with roads, snow clearing, garbage, etc. For these and other municipal issues, call 311 or contact your councillor directly.
I visited 211’s offices over the summer, and was impressed by their team. 211’s mandate is to connect people with programs and services, as well as to collect data on the needs of Nova Scotians so that policy-makers can make evidence-based decisions. They are specialists who are familiar with each service’s criteria and will help you to figure out what you are eligible for. 211 is available in over 100 languages.
NS Legal Services
Our office received an updated list of free, mostly province-wide, legal services available to Nova Scotians including:
Family Law: online resources, information sessions, and free legal advice.
General Law: online resources and a lawyer referral service.
Civil Law: free legal advice in Halifax and Sydney only.
Free legal services for sexual assault cases.
Apply for the Heating Assistance Rebate Program for help with the cost of home heating. You can receive up to $200 if you qualify. We have printed applications in our office.
To find out what other energy rebates or assistance you may be eligible for, try EnergyAssist
Dartmouth has been getting its due on the business front. Dartmouth's food icon, Renée Lavallée, received the prestigious Gary MacDonald Culinary Ambassador of the Year award from Taste of Nova Scotia, recognizing her huge contribution to the local culinary community. Watch her story. The Canteen on Portland also racked up five gold and three silver awards in The Coast’s annual “Best Of” series.
The Watch That Ends the Night was recognized nationally as Canada’s Best New Bar by enRoute Magazine, and also picked up three “Best Of” awards.
Other restaurants that were recognized by the annual survey include: The Wooden Monkey, Yeah Yeah’s Pizza, John’s Lunch, Evan’s Seafood, Battery Park Beer Bar, Habaneros Modern Taco Bar (Pleasant Street) and Two If By Sea.
Other Dartmouth-based businesses recognized this year include: Amy Chandler (Friday55), The Bike Pedaler, The Dart Gallery, The Dartmouth Makers, Halifax ReTales, Joel Plaskett, Kept, ReFound Shop, Lucky Cat Barbershop, Taz Records (New Scotland Yard), Oceanic Art, Room 152, Low Point Coffee’s Jeremy Waterman, Mac East, Mo Kenney, Portland Street Honda, Retrospekt, Strange Adventures (Dartmouth), Vivacious Vixen Apparel.
We have a slew of new social destinations in the downtown area. Welcome Lake City Cider, New Scotland Brewing Co., Brightwood Brewery, Cafe Good Luck!
Cheers to the excellence in our community!
Volunteering is a great way to get involved with the community at any level of time commitment. Volunteer Nova Scotia keeps an updated list of volunteering opportunities around HRM. If you’re looking to stay within the community, check out the volunteer section of my website for local leads.
If you are planning to apply for an energy-related program at a university or NSCC, consider applying for the Pengrowth-Nova Scotia Energy Scholarship. Deadlines are January 18th, 2019 for university students, and May 4th, 2019 for NSCC students