Commission for Economic Equality promotes shared prosperity

    ANTIGONISH: Discussing successful projects across the province and new ideas for offering better services to Nova Scotians, the NDP caucus hosted a series of community suppers this past month.

    “Prosperity Shared: The Commission for Economic Equality in Nova Scotia,” is an effort from the provincial NDP that saw six meetings take place across the province that gave members of the public an opportunity to discuss policy proposals, including expanding school food programs, public-led Internet and cell phone initiatives, and home retrofit programs.

    “Essentially what we’re here to do is have some discussion about what it means to have a shared prosperity,” said Susan Leblanc, MLA for Dartmouth North and NDP Caucus Chair. “Or [how] to take the prosperity that we do have in Nova Scotia and make sure everyone has an equal or equitable share of it.”

    The commissioners will take the information they’ve been hearing and absorbing over the six sessions and will create some kind of report about it that the NDP can use as a guiding document moving forward.

    Photos by Drake Lowthers —

    Antigonish municipal councillors Vaughan Chisholm (left) and Donnie MacDonald, look over material during the “Prosperity Shared: The Commission for Economic Equality in Nova Scotia” meeting hosted by the NDP caucus in Antigonish on November 27.

    Each meeting included a presentation from a local organization about community-led solutions working in their region, and Antigonish’s presentation was from Colleen Cameron with Antigonish Affordable Housing Society (AAHS).

    Cameron explained how the AAHS built 14 affordable housing units and how the community aspect is a very import part for them as they want people to feel included.

    “Somebody said it takes a village to raise a child,” she said. “Well it takes a community to build a community.”

    Cameron said when talking about injustice and economic insecurity and inequality, housing is probably one of the most obvious signs of inequality.

    “When you look at where people are living, and how they’re living, and how they’re struggling on that,” she said. “That is the visible, you don’t know they’re not getting to eat three times a day – you can see where people live, and the struggles they go through. Providing affordable housing and working towards that is helping reduce that inequality.”

    A total of six meetings took place across the province that gave members of the public an opportunity to discuss policy proposals including expanding school food programs, public-led Internet and cell phone initiatives, and home retrofit programs.

    The party’s provincial leader, Gary Burril, said the premier, when asked questions about the economy every day in the legislature, whether by them or by reporters, always gives the same answer that the population is increasing, young people are returning to the province, and the economy of Nova Scotia is thriving.

    “It’s important to understand what is the real situation and I think it is actually hurtful, it’s a hurtful kind of denial of the actual extent of financial struggle,” Burril said. “When the actual situation is today, that of all the 10 provinces in Canada, the one that has the single lowest median income is our province.”

    He suggested a thriving economy cannot exist when people don’t have money to pay rent, to cover the first tank of oil in the winter, to get prescriptions filled, or to get groceries.

    “There’s only one province where the line of child poverty is going in the opposite direction, and that’s Nova Scotia,” Burril said. “The lowest income in the country, and the worst child poverty – our leadership – their approach is to think in the opposite direction and deny what is going on, the first step is to actually acknowledge the real situation that we’re in.”

    He added it’s important the commission goes around the province to host meetings like this where they talk together about steps that could be taken to address the crisis of income inadequacy and income inequality.

    “We want to build the economy for the many.”