2019-03-13

Federal seniors minister hears transit funding concerns during Bridgewater stop, addresses SNC-Lavalin affair

by Keith Corcoran

  • <p>KEITH CORCORAN, PHOTO</p><p>Federal Seniors Minister Filomena Tassi, centre, speaks with HB Studios Sports Centre facility manager Josh Goode and Flourish coordinator Tamar Drushka. Tassi toured the Bridgewater fieldhouse on March 6.</p>

Links to federal funds for transit and other assistance programs were among issues brought to the attention of the federal Minister of Seniors who spoke March 6 in Bridgewater to advocates of golden agers about what's top-of-mind for pensioners.

The town's mayor, David Mitchell, said seniors make up the largest demographic using the town's transit system, which received provincial money and is paid for by Bridgewater ratepayers.

But, Mitchell told Seniors Minister Filomena Tassi, the local bus system is ineligible for federal cash based on a prearranged long-term agreement. Mitchell suggested to Tassi the help from Ottawa would be appreciated and asked she examine the agreement and whether there are other avenues for assistance.

Municipality of Lunenburg Mayor Carolyn Bolivar-Getson commented her jurisdiction looked into public transit, but it's "almost impossible" to currently make it work.

Tassi promised to follow-up and speak to local MP and cabinet colleague Bernadette Jordan about the matter.

Tassi was in Bridgewater touring the HB Studios Sports Centre to learn more about organizations and facilities in smaller communities that are benefiting seniors and encouraging them to remain active. She told LighthouseNOW it was heartening to see so many seniors walking the upstairs track.

The facility routinely hosts activities geared toward seniors and, for example, an entity that's found a home in the building is Flourish, a non-profit society group that carries out positive-aging programs in Lunenburg and Queens counties.

The sports centre is housed in the Glen Allan Drive fieldhouse.

The latter is operated by a society, but is on town-owned property. The $3-million, 4,500 square-metre building opened in 2008. The building contains a ground floor artificial grass field and 60-metre sprint track and an upstairs, four-lane, 209-metre oval running track.

Bridgewater contributed $310,000 to the capital construction of the facility, with payments completed over a 10 year period. Ottawa contributed $537,000 and, in 2013, another $48,000 to expand the number of changing areas and washrooms.

Tassi said she'll take the information she heard in Bridgewater to caucus and cabinet and look at ways to focus spending to make the best impacts.

The SNC-Lavalin controversy

Tassi also commented on the controversy concerning SNC-Lavalin and recent resignations from cabinet. In short, she's not leaving Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's inner circle unless he wants her out.

"I'm sad that Jane Philpott and Jody Wilson-Raybould have made the decision to leave cabinet," she told LighthouseNOW, "however I am completely confident in the Prime Minister and I have full confidence in his leadership and in cabinet."

She added Trudeau gives women a fair hearing.

"Everytime I've been at that cabinet table he gives complete attention and equal opportunity and listens intently, and that's an indication of what he believes in terms of the contributions that women can make."

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