Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Newly-minted members of Nova Scotia's executive council were handed ministerial mandate letters from Premier Tim Houston outlining expectations and deadlines for the months and years ahead.
Local Progressive Conservative (PC) MLAs included in Houston's inner-circle tell LighthouseNOW they were very excited about their teams and thankful for supportive staff.
Queens MLA Kim Masland was named public works minister following the August provincial election when the PCs secured a majority government and pushed the Rankin Liberals to opposition status.
Masland said her department is very large and comes with an ambitious mandate but believes it is doable. She noted that her department covers everything from maintaining and building roads to issuing drivers' licences, building schools, hospitals and long-term care homes.
"This department really touches all Nova Scotians and I'm excited about it," she explained to LighthouseNOW.
Lunenburg MLA Susan Corkum-Greek was given the economic development portfolio. She said the mandate letter is helpful and it shares the premier's expectations with the public, making it a good accountability tool.
"There is a plan for the internet through Develop Nova Scotia. It comes down to, is it soon enough?" she told LighthouseNOW. "Frankly, for any member of the public who is on these latter stages of getting connected, I think they would say that's too long. The question is going to become what is reasonable and are there alternatives we can look at."
She also points out programs focusing on innovative, green and sustainable businesses. She is excited about the work that is already taking place and she and her team are looking for ways to assist commerce.
The other part of this point is finding ways to attract new businesses to the province.
"There are things going on in our province that have caused our profile to be raised in a positive way. We want to leverage that and let people know that Nova Scotia is open for business," Corkum-Greek said.
Lunenburg West MLA Becky Druhan was named the Minister of Education and Early Childhood Development. She said the mandate letter is reflective of the things that she had spoken about during the campaign.
Her mandate letter outlines a goal of developing and working on stronger and more collaborative relationships with partners in education.
"It was a real priority of mine and I think that is really infused in the mandate letter," she explained to LighthouseNOW.
The goal of developing students as "effective and engaged and responsible citizens. That to me resonates. It is about what education is," Druhan added. "It's more than just about preparing students to go out and get a job. For me this is a really exciting element."
Another priority is getting more students the opportunity to take skilled trades classes.
"It's important that students are aware of the options open to them and they have exposure to the various career and life path options," said Druhan. "The focus on expanding access and availability of skilled trades is going to augment that for them."
To view the full letters of each minister go to https://www.novascotia.ca/exec_council/letters.html on the internet.