Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Re-Elected McNeil Signals Tough Line with N.S. Unions, New Help for Health

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Re-Elected McNeil Signals Tough Line with N.S. Unions, New Help for Health

Article excerpt

McNeil signals tough line with N.S. unions


HALIFAX - A day after winning Nova Scotia's first back-to-back majority governments in nearly 30 years, Premier Stephen McNeil signalled he will continue to take a tough line with the province's public sector unions in his new mandate.

McNeil's first term in office was marked by labour strife as his Liberal government tried to rein in costs through wage restraint for teachers and civil servants.

Several contracts remain to be settled and McNeil was asked Wednesday how he plans to approach new deals for health care and other workers represented by the Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union.

"We are going to continue to live within our means," said McNeil.

"Nova Scotians gave our government a second majority ... and I'm looking forward to continuing to provide them with the government that they endorsed last night (Tuesday.)"

McNeil wouldn't say when the legislature would be recalled to pass the budget that was tabled three days before the April 30 election call. He said he had other immediate priorities, such as putting together a transition team and then naming a new cabinet.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie, who lost his second bid for government, said Wednesday he would stay on as leader for the upcoming legislative session, and "will take a look at where things are after that."

After winning 17 seats, Baillie said he's eager for the house to be recalled to deal with the Liberal budget. He has said the budget has to include more for health care and mental health.

"The business of Nova Scotia has to go on," said Baillie, a chartered accountant who served as CEO of Credit Union Atlantic before becoming party leader in 2010.

"We have urgent needs in health care and in mental health and I expect those to be addressed very quickly."

McNeil said the plan is to pass the same budget with some potential health-related additions, an issue largely seen to have contributed to the Liberals' loss of seven seats Tuesday.

"We'll assess that," McNeil said. "There's no question we heard about health care. We believe in our budget that we had things that would have addressed some of the issues that we heard, but we also heard some other issues that we may package up as part of that. …

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