HALIFAX: The MLAs for Inverness, Antigonish and Guysborough-Tracadie have been named to the provincial cabinet.
Inverness MLA Allan MacMaster was named 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.
The new Minister of Agriculture will be Guysborough-Tracadie MLA Greg Morrow.
Antigonish MLA Michelle Thompson is now the Minister of Health and Wellness, and will also oversee a newly created Office of Health Care Professionals Recruitment.
Premier Tim Houston has given three cabinet members responsibility for health care, mental health and seniors’ care.
Brian Comer will handle Mental Health and Addictions, while and Barbara Adams takes over Seniors and Long-term Care.
“There’s a shortage of family doctors, a lack of mental health support and people are waiting far too long for surgery and long-term care beds. This is the team I’ve tasked with finding solutions,” the premier said in a press release.
The premier said his vision includes: patient care, recruitment and retention of doctors and shorter wait times for surgery; treating mental health care like physical health care; and more beds and more staff for seniors.
“We can no longer accept the status quo,” Houston said.
Houston was sworn in as Nova Scotia’s 30th premier on Aug. 31 and appointed a 19-member cabinet with refocused government departments.
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.
Karla MacFarlane is 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.
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 for 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.
The premier said his 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; and hiring 2,500 more health care professionals, with the creation of a team focused on recruitment.