NS Politics Potpourri

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I only have two names to share, Stockholm.  

In Sydney-Whitney Pier, Sandra Margettie, school board member for Whitney Pier area, is running.  She's been on the school board for a VERY long time.  Quite well-known and she's deeply connected to the community.

In Cape Breton Centre, Tammy Martin, a nurse and union activist is seeking the nomination.

If I hear anything else, I'll post.


Hunky_Monkey wrote:
 In Sydney-Whitney Pier, Sandra Margettie, school board member for Whitney Pier area, is running.  She's been on the school board for a VERY long time.  Quite well-known and she's deeply connected to the community.

In Cape Breton Centre, Tammy Martin, a nurse and union activist is seeking the nomination.

Last night Madonna Doucette [url=http://www.capebretonpost.com/News/Local/2015-05-26/article-4159989/Douc... the NDP nomination in Sydney-Whitney Pier, defeating Margettie[/url]. Doucette is the LGBTQ resource co-ordinator at the Ally Centre of Cape Breton.

I also understand that [url=http://thechronicleherald.ca/novascotia/1288952-martin-to-run-for-ndp-in... Martin has been selected as the NDP candidate in Cape Breton Centre[/url].



Correction on Tammy Martin.  She is not a nurse.  Works for the Health Authority in CB.


With all three parties having nominated their candidates I would expect to see the by-elections called sooner than later. Almost definitely for a deep summer e-day (so much the better to keep the voters away from the polls). Barring some massive shift I would expect the Liberals to run the table. They will easily take the two Cape Breton seats. The NDP nominated appealing but woefully weak candidates in seats that should have attracted stars given their long NDP history. The riding associations were left to atrophy and there are no two worse seats to have been abandoned by their MLAs as both were dependent on the appeal of the local MLA (in the case of Gordie Gosse it could not have been avoided given his health issues). These are "generational seats" that will go Liberal and stay Liberal a long time. It's horrifying but I think accurate.

Dartmouth South will be more interesting. The NDP have a great candidate and the mood in Metro is better for the party where voters are less pathetically in the throes of the Liberals and the lure of the government teat. But even there the Liberals nominated smart by picking Tim Rissesco, head of the Dartmouth Business Association. A typical backslapping, Lib-connected dude-bro/douche-bro, of the sort I find nauseating, but who makes up the bulk of the NS Libs. He has a very strong chance of holding the seat but it will be three-way-competitive and could go any which way. My hope is Marian Mancini squeaks in and runs for leader but my gut says Liberals go three for three and change the narrative from "Libs in trouble due to terrible governance and refreshingly aware public fighting back" to "Liberals are teflon."


Hope betrayed? The Nova Scotia NDP's rocky fall from power

If the NDP can't differentiate itself from other parties, should it exist?




Liberals found in violation of Nova Scotia Elections Act for pamphlet mailout



NDP surge in polls

The NDP made the biggest gains in this poll when it comes to voter intentions.

In the last quarter, those who picked the NDP as the party they would vote for if there had been an election jumped from 18 per cent to 27 per cent.

The Liberals are down eight per cent over the same period, while the PCs are the choice of 19 per cent of those polled.



Liberals still with a strong lead at 50%, NDP second with 27% and the PCs at 19%.

Choice of Premier is interesting.  While the Liberals are at 50%, McNeil is the top choice for premier with only 35%.  Interim NDP leader Maureen MacDonald is second at 20% while PC leader Jamie Baillie is third at 18%.

The Liberals have gone from 64% in November to 58% in February to 50% now.

If the NDP was smart, McNeil himself should be the big target.  Tie McNeil's unpopularity to his party and drag Liberal party support down.

The NDP now at 27% is a good start especially under an interim leader.  Usually tough to get traction with an interim leader.  Maureen has been doing an amazing job though.

Poor Jamie Baillie.  Problem for Baillie?  Most centre-right voters are now happy with the Liberals.

David Young

Cue the cries of 'Peter MacKay, we need you!' from the Nova Scotia Tories!



They have better talent in their current caucus, David.  Some of their new MLAs like Tim Houston.  Baillie was the only one interested in the job at the time of course so that's why he's leader.  

And I have always suspected CB Mayor Cecil Clarke would like to return to provincial politics but is waiting until the PC Party is in a stronger position to win.


Did anybody even bother to vote?

Dartmouth South goes NDP.


It looks like in the byelections today the provincial Liberals won the two Cape Breton seats that were formerly held by the NDP.  And the Dartmouth South seat (formerly held by a Liberal) is too close to call between the NDP and Lib candidates, and may well require a recount.

So, no real surprises here, and probably a good predictor of the Federal vote in October.

ETA: NS Elections site now has the Dartmouth South count completed and has Marian Mancini of the NDP with an 80+ vote lead. So that sounds like a keeper.  And will be a great boost to Robert Chisholm who has a real race on his hand to hold Dartmouth for the NDP in October.


Discussion moved past Cecil Clarke and the PCs..... but Cecil both had a better shot when Rodney was elected leader / Premeir.... and they were governing then. [Not to mention he now has a bit of a financial scandal, that doesnt seem to hurt him as Mayor, but if he were to seek leadership.] Cecil's reasons for not seeking the leadership when it was something were essentially personal.


Sobering Messages for All Parties

Particularly for the Liberals:

They had constituents yelling at them. They were creating voters who would crawl over broken glass to defeat them.  For the first time, they had reason to doubt what they were being told by their leadership.  Sure, they'd been yelled at before, mostly about forced re-organization of health-care unions. Getting a police escort out of the legislature, twice, is a sobering experience for anyone who got into politics dreaming only of dancing with seniors and kissing of babies.

Just desserts to be sure.


Polls, byelections and ruts: Taking the temperature of politics in Nova Scotia ...rabble.ca - ‎7 hours ago

‎The Liberals are sliding into what the NDP were doing at this point. After a round of early studies and considerations, they took to what we could call bunkering -- making decisions in a vacuum with scant feedback from the real world. To some degree ...


The NDP has surprised me. After their debacle in government and having lost a large chunk of their base -- mainly environmentalists and longtime leftist supporters who felt shunted aside -- what remains has come back swinging more or less as they did before they ever came to power, hammering at the McNeil government on health and social issues primarily. In other words, amazingly, the party appears to have life, a base, functioning political machinery, and is an established contender for government.

Ken Burch

Has the/NSNDP had the #@$#%$# leadership vote YET?  If not, what's the freaking delay?  Who in the party benefits from keeping the leadership unfilled?


I would very much like to participate in a campaign aimed at ensuring the current liberal scumbag regime of McNeil and company wind up as a one term cabal of stooges in power, except that there are no viable replacements waiting in the wings.


I believe they pick a new leader in February

Ken Burch

Thank you for the information.  I hope they still have enough time after that to get it together for the next provincial election.


Ken Burch wrote:

Has the/NSNDP had the #@$#%$# leadership vote YET?  If not, what's the freaking delay?

Yes, it is difficult to find the information. One would have to look at the NS NDP web site: http://nsndp.ca/leadership2016


Trinity Western case heads to Nova Scotia court of appeal

"We would say that the community covenant, in that respect, really has nothing to do with wanting to push away members of the LGBT [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender] communities," said Trinity Western's Amy Robertson, who's in Halifax for this week's court hearing. "We do welcome LGBT to Trinity Western who want to be part of our Christian community. There are gay people at Trinity Western who find it sort of a safe, respectful place to be," she said.  

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Teachers and government workers say no to austerity in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s wild and wacky world of labour relations just got even stranger. Twice now the Nova Scotia Teachers Union (NSTU) leadership recommended that its members accept a negotiated deal, and twice the teachers said no thanks. On October 25 the teachers backed that rejection up with a 96 percent strike mandate.


What do the teachers want?

Teachers in Nova Scotia have lost confidence in education minister Karen Casey. They’ve been talking about their issues for a long time, and feel purposely ignored by a minister who engages in teacher bashing any time it is politically convenient. Removing the ability to bargain fairly and freely wasn’t building much trust either.

What they want is better working conditions, more money for education at a classroom level, and a fair contract.

Even a casual browse of a new blog that features anonymous teachers testimonials offers a sense that a bureaucracy infatuated with standardization, jargon and the usual grab back of neoliberal innovations has run amok.

“Curriculum decisions, scheduling and guides that insist on regimented pacing despite the teacher’s evaluation of her students’ readiness to move on, give the lie to the party line that teachers’ input is valued,” writes one such teacher.


The NSTU has agreed to join a committee to talk working conditions with the government and the school boards. How that unfolds remains to be seen.

Meanwhile, almost one year later, the roughly 7600 NSGEU provincial government workers still haven’t voted on their tentative collective agreement. The NSGEU has finally scheduled a vote for December 12-14 of this year, on a deal that is every bit as lousy as the one offered to the teachers.

It looks like resistance to the government’s austerity agenda and heavy-handed bargaining tactics is infectious.

After consulting with the membership, the NSGEU executive has reversed its earlier recommendation to accept the tentative agreement. That doesn’t bode well for the Liberals.


Nova Scotian politics have taken a sudden turn for the interesting .... building on the broad faced frustrations of rank and file teachers and spurred on by the breakdown of negotiations with the McNeil Gov't, last week the NS Teachers Union announced a work to rule starting Monday. (Believe it or not, the NSTU has never gone on strike Never.)

This was followed by a widespread walkout of high school students on Friday, in support of teachers demands. They marched on the offices of their respective MLAs across the province.  

And today, Saturday the Minister of Education announced a lock-out on Monday. Of students, not teachers.  With back-to-work legislation to be tabled in the Legislature first thing Monday morning.

The social media here are just humming with activity.  Everyone was assuming a post-budget election in the Spring ... this may move up that calendar a bit.  


ETA - And here is a good backgrounder from the Teachers' Union perspective: http://labornotes.org/2016/11/nova-scotia-teachers-verge-strike



Interesting development.  How is Burrill's NDP doing poll wise?


Poll-wise, Burrill does not seem to have made much of an impression with the broader public. The polls have had the provincial Liberals north of 50% for over a year, with the PCs and NDP both around 20% each.

McNeil runs well behind his party in the polls, leading to the general assessment that the NS Libs are probably still riding a bit of a Trudeau wave here.

For his part, Burrill has spent much of the past six months trying to re-energize NDP membership and grassroots. His Bernie Sanders / preacher-style persona has been generally well received by party members, deflated after the disappointments of the Dexter years and 2013 election. So I think he has made good progress on the party rebuilding agenda, at least in and around Halifax where the NDP won a byelection this summer, and where Burrill himself will run come the next election.

How Burrill is perceived by the general public remains to be seen. Over the past year, he has been solidly behind the teachers and so this current political 'crisis' may well be the moment in which his "brand" is more firmly established in the public's eye. For better or for worse.


Thanks.  It'll be interesting to see how it develops.


Well, its been a bizarre day.  The decision of the McNeil Gov't over the weekend to lock out students and bring in legislation to impose a contract on teachers seems to have had a galvinizing effect on the public.

This morning crowds gathered at schools across the province and at the Legislature to cheer on the teachers who had launched a work to rule today. Teachers started tweeting pictures of themselves standing in empty classrooms #readytoteach.

As MLAs reconvened for a hastily called session to pass the imposed contract, the Gov't abruptly adjourned the session. Rumours swept around that half a dozen or more Liberal MLAs had indicated to their House Leader that they would not vote for legislation imposing a contract.

Over lunch, the Gov't hastily reconvened with representatives of the Teachers Union to discuss "student safety" issues through the work to rule. With a face-savings piece of paper in hand that assured all that students would not be unduly at risk during the work to rule, the Gov't took the threat of an imposed contract off the table "for the time being". So schools re-open tomorrow, with teachers working to rule.

Which is more or less where we stood Thursday, before McNeil and Co put their feet in it.

As I said, a truly bizarre display of political ineptitude.   

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NS Liberals retreat in fight against teachers, students

What a mess. With less than 48 hours notice the government closed all schools to students today, leaving parents, scrambling for daycare. Parents, students and teachers were mad as hell. The government’s argument that safety could not be guaranteed while teachers worked to rule convinced nobody.

Feeling the heat, in a day full of surprising twists and turns including rumors of a bit of a caucus revolt, the Liberal government beat an embarrassing retreat.


And witness the 1,000+ parents, teachers and students who gathered at the Grand Parade in Halifax, prior to descending on Province House.

“This is about our children. This is about our teachers, and to support our teachers’ needs, Trish Keeping, one of the organizers of the rally, told an enthusiastic crowd.

“We don’t have enough school counselors in this province to look after our kids. We don’t have enough psychologists in our schools to look after the mental health of our children. Wherever the money is going, it’s not going into the schools,” she said.

“When teachers in our province have to buy their own books for their classroom, and their own art supplies. and their own science project supplies, and they are paying for kids’ lunches, than that is unacceptable.”

Liette Doucet, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, received a rousing welcome from the crowd.

“It’s a victory for our students that they will be back in class tomorrow, and that our teachers will be there ready to teach them,” said Doucet.


The map of Atlantic Canada shows that much of Nova Scotia having the highest risk of flooding (as indicated by its reddish colour) due to sea level rise is also where much of its population lives. 



The map below shows the sensitivity of the coastlines of Atlantic Canada to the expected rise in sea level, due to climate warming. Sensitivity here means the degree to which a coastline may experience physical changes such as flooding, erosion, beach migration, and coastal dune destabilization. It is measured by a sensitivity index that is obtained by manipulating scores of 1 to 5 attributed to each of seven variables: relief, geology, coastal landform, sea-level tendency, shoreline displacement, tidal range, and wave height. For details on the index refer to J. Shaw, R.B. Taylor, D.L. Forbes, M.-H. Ruz, and S. Solomon. 1998. Sensitivity of the Coasts of Canada to Sea-level Rise. Geological Survey of Canada Bulletin 505. Ottawa.



 sea level rise legend



Nova Scotia is facing a major problem as sea levels rise due to global warming bringing high risk of flooding along its coasts. Since 70% of Nova Scotians live at or near a coast, many of them are likely to face flooding problems if global warming continues and the government does not spend enormous sums on sea dikes.


The province of Nova Scotia has 13,300 km of jagged coastline that includes some 3,800 coastal islands, bays and estuaries81. Development in Nova Scotia tends to be clustered with a high intensity of residences along the coast. It is estimated 70% of the province's population lives on or near the coastline82.

Much of Nova Scotia is considered highly sensitive to SLR (sea level rise) and has been experiencing extensive construction and creation of parcels in scenic coastal locations – many of which will be in hazard zones in a few decades83. The south coast and eastern shores of Nova Scotia have been shown to have significant sensitivity to SLR and associated storm impacts.  ...

Pressure from future development will probably continue to be greatest along the coast, but there is little control across most of the coastal areas.  


(page 110)

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..short video

Alton Gas Blockade

During the fall of 2016 Mi’kmaq opponents of the Alton Gas project, supported by non-Indigenous allies, set up a truckhouse along the banks of the Shubenacadie River near the Alton Gas brine dumping site. This year, they set up a Treaty Camp along the entrance to the Alton Gas work site, effective blocking the company from working on the project. 

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Mi’kmaq First Nation files land claim for vast portion of New Brunswick

The Elsipogtog Mi’kmaq First Nation is laying claim to a large parcel of land in southeastern New Brunswick.

The land claim, filed in provincial court on Wednesday by first people’s lawyer Bruce McIvor, covers roughly one third of the province.

 “The claim itself includes the land, the rivers, the lakes, the air, the skies, the oceans, everything,” McIvor said.

The Aboriginal title claim has been made on behalf of the entire Mi’kmaq first nation, and asks that the court confirm they hold the rights to the large portion of the province.

The land claim comes at a time when indigenous people are repeatedly raising concerns about government decisions pertaining to lands and water in Mi’kmaq territory.....


Byelections loom across Nova Scotia as MLAs run federally


Three Tory seats in the Nova Scotia legislature will be up for grabs in byelections, and a fourth seat — that of former NDP MLA Lenore Zann — could soon be vacant, too.

If Premier Stephen McNeil is good to his word, Nova Scotians in the Tory-held ridings shouldn’t have to wait long for byelections. Last month, the premier said he’d call those byelections as soon as the incumbents resigned. The three departing Tories’ resignations are effective July 31.

Gone from the provincial Progressive Conservative caucus are longtime stalwarts Chris d’Entremont (Barrington-Argyle); Alfie MacLeod (Sydney-River-Myra-Louisbourg), and Eddie Orrell (Northside-Westmount).

The three long-serving MLAs have all been nominated to run for the federal Conservatives in this fall’s election. Orrell will run in Sydney-Victoria; MacLeod in Cape Breton-Canso; and d’Entremont in West Nova.

The Truro-Bible Hill riding that Zann has held since 2013 will become vacant if she is successful in her bid to win the federal Liberal nomination in Cumberland-Colchester. That nomination will be decided next Saturday.


The Narrative Research December poll shows the Liberals and NDP up in support while the PCs and Greens have lost support since September. 

When considering which party to vote for, decided support for the provincial Liberals has reached its highest point this year, while support for the PC Party has reached its lowest. Liberal support now stands at 42% (up from 39% in August and 31% in May). The PCs received support from 26% of decided voters (down from 28% in August and 33% in May).

The New Democrats achieved a bump in support with 21% of decided voters, up 5 percentage points from August. Support for the Green Party dipped to 9% of the intended vote, as compared to 15% in August. ...

On the question of leadership, preference remained fairly consistent with last quarter. However, Premier Stephen McNeil  is at the highest point this year up to 28%. Tim Houston of the PC party is at 20% (compared with 19%), while Gary Burrill of the NDP remained steady at 14%. Thomas Trappenberg of the Green Party sees a four point decrease, landing the Green leader at 8% down from 12% in the summer.



With Tammy Martin's resignation taking effect February 6 and Truro-Bible Hill still vacant since Lenore Zann was elected federally, the NSNDP is down to four seats in the legislature and all of them are in Halifax or Dartmouth. What are the NDP's odds of winning either or both byelections when they are held? If the NDP falls short again will Burrill resign?


By election results are just starting to come in here: https://results.electionsnovascotia.ca/by-election_multi.aspx


A just released poll shows voter support in a holding pattern, although 1/3 of the electorate says they do not know who they would vote for in an election, suggesting potential problems for the Liberal government. 

Decided voters’ intentions show little change over the past quarter.  In fact, decided voter support for the Liberals holds at 43% (compared with 42% in November) while the PCs garner 27% of decided voter intentions (compared with 26% in November). Also unchanged is voter support for the New Democratic Party at 21%. The Green party holds support from 10% of decided voters in the province (from 9% in November). However, in a jump of seven points, one-third of residents in the province now indicate they do not know who they would vote for in an upcoming election.  

In terms of leadership preference, McNeil continues to hold the preferred spot with 31%, compared with 28% in November 2019, widening the gap with Houston, who distantly follows with 17%, compared with 20% in November 2019. Houston is aligned more closely with the proportion preferring the NDP"s Burrill (at 15%, compared with 14% in November 2019). Trappenberg is most preferred as Premier by 9% of the electorate, and Bethell 1%. Twenty-two percent of voters are undecided on the matter of leadership, while 6% prefer none of the leaders.




The two byelections resulted in victories for the NDP and the Conservatives, further suggesting their is some unhappiness with the Liberal government, with the NDP winning in a high voter turnout of 51.6% for a byelection. 

The Progressive Conservatives and NDP are each getting another seat in the Nova Scotia Legislature.

Tory candidate Dave Ritcey was elected in a byelection for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River on Tuesday. Ritcey opened a big lead over the field as soon as the polls closed.

New Democrat Kendra Coombes, meanwhile, was victorious in Cape Breton Centre, besting a field that included former Liberal MLA Dave Wilton. Unofficial results had Coombes with 2,731, good for a 43 per cent share. Ritcey's 2,922 votes amounted to a 51 per cent share.

Ritcey said he was thrilled with the result. "I'm very excited. I'm looking forward to getting to work," he said in a telephone interview as he headed for a victory party at Truro's Rath Eastlink Community Centre. Ritcey said he was feeling good heading into Tuesday night based on the reaction he was getting on doorsteps. "There was a different vibe, to be honest with you. I'm glad that the vibe swung this way."

The seat was up for grabs after former New Democrat MLA Lenore Zann resigned in September to run in the federal election. She was elected as a Liberal in the riding of Cumberland-Colchester.

Ritcey's win bumps the Tory seat count at Province House to 18. Aside from trying to tackle health-care concerns and meeting with as many people as he can to learn about their issues, Ritcey said he also wants to focus on getting support to upgrade the athletics facility in Truro. ...

The win for Coombes brings a seat back to the NDP that the party held until Tammy Martin resigned last month for personal reasons. At a victory party in New Waterford, Coombes thanked her partner, Matt Brown, for caring for the couple's eight-month-old daughter during the campaign. She joked that her first order of business would be catching up on sleep.

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality councillor said she's ready to hit the ground running and believes the political experience she already has will serve her well in her new role.

"I understand policy, I understand budgets, I understand how things work within the governmental system," Coombes told reporters at the French Club. It won't be a complete fish-out-of-water experience."

Coombes becomes the fifth MLA for the party in the House. The win brings the NDP some much-needed resources. The party came out of the 2017 provincial election with seven seats, but lost Zann to federal politics and Martin and Dave Wilson to other pursuits.

Ritcey and Coombes will have plenty of time to get set up before worrying about appearing at the legislature. The spring sitting wrapped up on Tuesday. ...

Although there was something for each of the opposition parties to celebrate on Tuesday, there were few silver linings for the governing Liberals. The seat in Truro has never been a strong district for the Grits. And while the party finished second to the Tories — ahead of the NDP — its share of the vote was no higher than it was in the 2017 general election.

The party had higher hopes for Wilton to win back the Cape Breton Centre seat. But despite pending health-care infrastructure projects and other announcements in the area, the party's vote share was lower than in 2017. ...

Voter turnout in Cape Breton Centre was 51.6 per cent, while in Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River it was 35.7 per cent.



Premier Stephen McNeil announced his intention to retire today, but will stay on until a new party leader is chosen. 

Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil announced Thursday he will step down. McNeil was first elected in 2003 as MLA for Annapolis and has been premier since 2013. ...

McNeil said he had made the decision to resign prior to the coronavirus pandemic, but he reconsidered when the virus arrived in Nova Scotia in March.

"All of those plans were put on hold, and I gave this my all. I spent five weeks here without ever getting home to my own property and my own home. [I was] away from my family because I was working with Public Health and with our team to try to get control of it." 

McNeil said he will continue to act as premier and Liberal Party leader until the party chooses a replacement. He said he expected a leadership campaign to take months. Nova Scotia does not have fixed election dates but is due for an election by 2022. ...

The long-serving politician is in his second term of a majority government. He said he feels two terms is a long time for one person to hold that responsibility and for the province to have the same leader. ...

Before being elected as MLA for his rural community, McNeil owned and operated a small appliance repair business.

When he was first elected, the Liberals were the third-ranking party in the province behind the governing Progressive Conservatives and opposition NDP.

McNeil was leader when the party became the Official Opposition in 2009, and then defeated the governing New Democrats in 2013 to form a majority government. ...

Health care was a hot-button issue in Nova Scotia even before the pandemic, with constant criticism from opposition parties about McNeil's handling of a shortage of physicians and scrutiny of plans to redevelop the province's largest hospital system.



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Province's attempts to deal with deficit will collide with major contract negotiations

A deficit of staggering proportions, and a declaration by Premier Stephen McNeil that reining it in will not wait, could add up to difficult contract negotiations on the horizon for much of Nova Scotia's public service.

Of the 308 collective agreements with the public sector, 68 per cent are at or near expiry, according to a provincial government spokesperson. The breakdown includes 44 expired contracts and 165 that will expire by the end of 2020.

That a contract has expired or is close to expiring does not mean the two sides are at the bargaining table. Active bargaining right now includes one of the province's major unions and several smaller groups.

The Nova Scotia Teachers Union, which represents more than 9,000 people, has been in bargaining since its contract ran out at the end of July 2019.

Union officials say talks were paused for a period as the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the province and to focus on the restart of school.

Major contracts about to expire

Other ongoing contract talks include the Nova Scotia Government Lawyers Association, which represents about 75 lawyers.

There are a variety of small contracts through the Health Department and Community Services Department, and 65 employees of Emergency Medical Care, who are represented by the Canadian Union of Postal Workers.

The expiry of most other major contracts is also looming.

The contract for about 7,000 civil servants, represented by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union, expires on March 31, 2021.

A fiscal update last month pegged the deficit at about $853 million, the result of COVID-19 virtually shutting down the province's economy beginning in March.

Finance Minister Karen Casey said at the time that turning the financial corner would take hard work and wouldn't happen quickly, and she said layoffs were not something the government was considering as part of the effort.

The following day, however, McNeil said efforts would begin right away to find new ways to generate revenue as well as find possible savings. The premier said the public service would need to be part of that effort.

"People need to understand that for four months there were many people in this province who lost their entire paycheque while others were continuing to be paid, and I think we need to be mindful of that," he told reporters last month.

"If the issue becomes that labour wants to continue to fight for more and more that the province does not have the ability to pay, then obviously that would mean there would have to be fewer people … They're going to have to make that decision and I look forward to continuing to work with them."

A mitigating factor in the tone and approach at the bargaining tables will be McNeil.....