Allan MacMaster, MLA, deputy premier, minister of Finance and Treasury Board, minister of Gaelic Affairs, and minister responsible for Labour Relations.
September 8, 2021
-by Rankin MacDonald
It’s been many a moon since an Inverness MLA has sat at the table of power for this province.
It came to an end when Premier Tim Houston won 31 seats for the Progressive Conservatives in the August 17th provincial election.
Premier Houston was sworn in as Nova Scotia’s 30th premier on August 31st at the Halifax Convention Centre by lt-Gov. Arthur J. LeBlanc.
There are 19 in cabinet.
“This team will be focussed on taking action on the things Nova Scotians have clearly told us are important to them,” said Premier Houston. “I’m very proud of the talented committed people we’ve selected, and I know they will work hard for Nova Scotians. We will find solutions that move us forward, together.”
The cabinet and refocussed government departments reflect the premier’s vision for better health care, universal mental health services, dignity for seniors, rebuilding the economy, and more and better paying jobs.
The premier will also serve as president of the Executive Council, the minister of Trade, and the minister responsible for Intergovernmental Affairs and the Office of Regulatory Affairs and Service Effectiveness.
Allan MacMaster will be the deputy premier and will also be the minister of Finance and Treasury Board, the minister of Gaelic Affairs, and the minister responsible for Labour Relations.
Michelle Thompson will become the minister of Health and Wellness. She will also oversee a newly-created Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment.
Brian Comer assumes responsibility for the Office of Mental Health and Addictions. He’ll also be the minister responsible for Youth and Communications Nova Scotia.
Barbara Adams takes on the new Department of Seniors and Long-term Care.
Karla MacFarlane in the new minister of Community Services and minister responsible for the Status of Women and the Office of L’nu Affairs.
Jill Balser will be the minister of Labour Skills and Immigration and have responsibility for Apprenticeship. Brian Wong will lead a separate Department of Advanced Education.
Becky Druhan will be the minister of Education and Early Childhood Development.
Pat Dunn will return to cabinet as the minister of Communities, Culture, Tourism and Heritage, which assumes responsibility of Tourism Nova Scotia. He’ll also have responsibility for African Nova Scotian Affairs, the Office of Equity and Anti-Racism Initiatives, and the Voluntary Sector.
Susan Corkum-Greek will be the new minister of Economic Development.
Agriculture will be led by Greg Morrow. Steve Craig will be the new minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.
Brad Johns is the new minister of Justice and Attorney General. He’s also responsible for Elections Nova Scotia, the Human Rights Commission, and the Accessibility Act.
John Lohr is the minister of the Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing. He’ll also have responsibility for the Emergency Management Office and Military Relations.
Kim Masland will lead the Department of Public Works, formerly Transportation and Active Transit.
Tory Rushton becomes minister of the Department of Natural Resources and Renewables, combining the former Departments of Lands and Forestry and Energy and Mines.
Environment and Climate Change will be led by Tim Halman, who has also been appointed chair of Treasury Board.
Colton LeBlanc takes on the Public Service Commission, Service Nova Scotia and Internal Services, and Acadian Affairs and Francophonie.
MacMaster told The Oran that he is very pleased and excited with his cabinet appointments.
He said his work will also depend on the cooperation of many people, but he is excited to be in the Houston government with its new approach to provincial matters.
While he has to look province wide as deputy premier and minister he will still be working on the issues of his Inverness Riding.
“We want to take an in-depth look at the Port Hastings rotary to get it right for all concerned,” he said. “We also have to make sure Foyer Pere Fiset is done right and spend more attention on the roads in Inverness County in general.”
“It will be a challenge to make things better in all areas including housing, but it won’t be done all of a sudden and we must look closely to Inverness County,” he added.
Workforce solutions for a stronger economy are a big part of the new government’s initiatives.
Minister Jill Balser will lead a new Department of Labour Skills and Immigration. She will also have responsibility for apprenticeship.
Minister Brian Wong will lead the Department of Advanced Education, giving focussed attention to the province’s world-class post-secondary institutions.
“Just as we will take quick and decisive actions on health care, this team will be tasked with taking bold steps to ensure our workforce matches our province’s immense economic potential,” said Premier Houston. “We will invest for our future and help create jobs, attract and keep our youth here, increase wages, and bring more businesses to Nova Scotia – all key elements of rebuilding our economy and putting Nova Scotia on a path to stand out and succeed.”
The premier’s vision includes:
– doubling opportunities for high school students to take skills trade studies and updating the education curriculum to help youth find jobs that match the needs of their communities;
– eliminating provincial taxes on the first $50,000 of earnings for workers aged 30 years and under in designated trades;
– doubling the population by 2060 through a multi-pronged population growth strategy;
– ensuring every household has high-speed internet;
– working with employers to offer the better pay cheque guarantee;
– hiring 2,500 more health care professionals, with the creation of a team focussed on recruitment.
Premier Tim Houston and Health and Wellness Minister Michelle Thompson announced a new health system leadership team to take immediate action to improve health care in the province.
“I’ve said all along that transformational change was needed to improve health care and it starts today,” said Premier Houston. “We’ve put an experienced team in place with a mandate to listen, make decisions, and take quick action. They will remove the barriers that are getting in the way of change and providing better health care to Nova Scotians.”
The four-person leadership team will be led by Karen Oldfield, who has been appointed interim CEO of the Nova Scotia Health Authority (NSHA). Ms. Oldfield previously served in the office of former premier John Hamm and was CEO of the Halifax Port Authority.
Working with her will be:
– Jeannine Lagasse, appointed deputy minister of the Department of Health and Wellness after service as associate deputy minister.
– Dr. Kevin Orrell, appointed CEO of the newly-created Office of Health Care Professional Recruitment; he is the former deputy minister of Health and Wellness.
– Janet Davidson, appointed as the administrator of the Nova Scotia Health Authority; she is the former chair of the NSHA board of directors and was interim CEO of the NSHA in 2019; her previous roles include deputy minister of Health in Alberta, CEO of Toronto East General Hospital, and other leadership positions in several health organization.
The Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment will focus on recruiting and retaining doctors, nurses, continuing care assistants, paramedics, and other professionals. It reports directly to Ms. Thompson.
From September 20th to 23rd, the premier, minister, and the leadership team will tour the province to hear from frontline health care professionals.
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