Thursday, April 3, 2014

NS Budget: More Money For Health & Education

The Liberal government has delivered its first budget since taking office. Finance Minister Diana Whalen unveiled its details when she rose in the Nova Scotia legislature earlier this afternoon. The fiscal blueprint includes $9.6 billion in revenues, $9.9 billion in total spending, and a $279 million deficit. Some other highlights include, $19 million more for public schools, class sizes will be capped from primary to Grade 3 along with more support for math and literacy programs. In health, there is nearly $200 million more in the budget to support home care, improve access to cancer drugs and cut down wait time for hip and knee surgeries. Meanwhile, the efficiency fee will come off all power bills on January 1st resulting in energy savings for all Nova Scotians. As expected, the HST remains unchanged at 15%. Nova Scotia's net debt sits at a whopping $14.6 billion.

Bridgewater Man Facing Child Porn Charges

A Bridgewater man is facing child porn charges. Town police along with RCMP searched a Queen Street home on Wednesday. A number of computer-related items including USB drives and DVD's were seized. Police arrested a 31-year-old man and he is facing charges of accessing, possessing, and distributing child pornography. Additional charges could be laid once forensic examination of exhibits is complete. The man is expected to appear in Bridgewater court on May 28th.

Tops'l Tavern Now Known As King's Corner

It's official. The name of the Tops'l Tavern has changed. New owner Sharon Saulnier says it's now known as King's Corner. The tavern has been known as Topsl's since it opened in 1963. Saulnier says the name change makes sense.

Saulnier plans to leave the Tops'l signs on the building and add their own branding to help remember its history. The restaurant opened Thursday and the bar will open Friday evening.

Large Drop Likely In Diesel Fuel Price

There's been a large drop in the price of diesel fuel in New Brunswick. That probably means a similar move on the South Shore tonight when the utility and review board sets the coming weeks prices. Diesel is selling for almost ten cents a litre lower than yesterday in New Brunswick. Self serve regular has increased slightly though today.

No Plans To Extend School Year

There aren't any plans to extend the school year due to storm days. In Nova Scotia, some school districts have lost as many as 12 instructional days. Locally, there have been 10 days missed within the South Shore and Tri-County School Boards because of poor weather conditions over the winter. Communications manager Trish Smith says losing two weeks of classes is manageable.

For the South Shore, the back road closure plan was put into place 13 times this winter while two additional snow days were seen in the Chester area family of schools. Smith says it's been a challenging winter for all their staff, students and parents.

Ottawa Invests In Chester Theatre Council Society

An investment from the federal government is going to help the Chester Theatre Council Society. South Shore - St. Margaret's MP Gerald Keddy announced over $11,000 in funding to the Christopher Ondaatje Theatre Foundation, who will manage and invest it on behalf of the society. The money is being provided through a component of the Canada Cultural Investment Fund, which encourages Canadians to donate to professional arts organizations. The Chester Playhouse was purchased by Sir Christopher Ondaatje in 1987 and was donated to the Chester Theatre Council Society in 1992. The society's mission is to foster, promote, encourage and develop the performing arts and to maintain a community arts facility in the Municipality of the District of Chester.

NS Labour Relations In Tatters As HRM Nurses Walk: MacDonald

With many people fearing a strike will affect health care along the South Shore and elsewhere, nurses in the Halifax area have walked off the job today to back their demands for better patient-nurse ratios. Hundreds of nurses with the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union are picketting all health care facilities in HRM. Although her union isn't part of the labour dispute, Nova Scotia Nurses Union President Janet Hazelton tells us Friday's likely passage of essential workers legislation will probably mean the walkout will last only through today. She says there is a lot of frustration for nurses everywhere and anxiety for patients heading into today's walkout.

NDP leader and former Health Minister Maureen MacDonald says she's appalled the dispute between Capital Health and the NSGEU has reached this point.

The largest hospital complex in Atlantic Canada, the Q-E-2 Health Sciences Centre in downtown Halifax, is among facilities being picketted today by the nurses.