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LETTER: Committees needed on health, education

In light of the dire straits our Province finds itself in terms of managing our health care and education systems, I believe that it is crucial we add two additional standing committees for Nova Scotia's legislature devoted to these two sectors.

We need to create more opportunities for Nova Scotians to present and speak out on holding government accountable for the decisions they are making when it comes to our health, and the education of our youngest citizens.

With the removal of the school boards and regional health authorities, elected MLAs are the only direct representation for Nova Scotians on both our education and health sectors.

Committees of the legislature normally meet monthly and can study the areas under their jurisdiction in-depth plus any other related business assigned by the House of Assembly. These committees can call witnesses, and consider requests from those who would like to present.

The protocol for standing committees is already well established. We have committees devoted to Community Services, Economic Development, Human Resources, Public Accounts, Resources, Veterans Affairs, Assembly Matters, Internal Affairs, Law Amendments, and Private and Local Bills. Note the big gaps – health and education.

Looking again at education there have been major changes in this sector over the last few years. These changes have been imposed top-down without any serious investigation by the members of the House of Assembly as a whole. Being able to call witnesses and directly hear from a diverse group of experts would help validate, or invalidate, the opinions they are expressing.

Law Amendments provides some of this function already, but it has been strictly limited in time frame, and only comes into force in the face of legislation.

There is a democratic deficit in our province, and that deficit can partly be addressed by creating more access and transparency on government decision making by creating standing committees to address health and education.

Tim Houston, MLA Pictou East

Leadership Candidate for the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia

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