News / Halifax

Stephen McNeil on Yarmouth ferry: 'the tourism numbers speak for themselves'

Premier Stephen McNeil says the opposition parties have been negative, "pointing out the obvious," but aren't offering solutions.

Metro file

Regardless of negativity from the opposition, Premier Stephen McNeil says the Liberal government will continue to stay positive and work with Nova Scotians.

“Here’s the contrast: we’ve been providing solutions to the problems that we know Nova Scotians have. The opposition party has been sitting here pointing out the obvious,” McNeil said. “We know there are challenges but what’s your solution?”

With regard to the Yarmouth ferry, McNeil said, “the tourism numbers speak for themselves.”

“Room nights are up 21 per cent in Yarmouth, they’re up across the Valley, they’re up across the South Shore. Those are room nights sold,” McNeil said.

The Premier said it’s been a banner year for tourism and in his view the Yarmouth ferry is an important part of that. He’s been on board the vessel and it’s remarkable to see the amount of local product being sold.

McNeil said the “investment of the people” would be reduced over the coming years and we’re seeing some positive signs of what is going to happen. If changes are required, the province will work with the operator to address them.

McNeil said the Tories don’t support this Yarmouth ferry deal but would support another one. He wonders what the other deal is.

“The vessel is working despite the fact that people are doing everything they can to make sure it doesn’t,” McNeil said. “We knew early on there would be an additional start-up cost to this, anybody does.”

He said that, as they’ve been dealing with challenges and getting back on the road to fiscal health, the population has continued to grow and Nova Scotia retains more young people per capita than any other province. McNeil said they’re making human investments while dealing with infrastructure challenges.

McNeil said they “tore down the walls” between health authorities across the province. There were nine authorities with nine different approaches to dealing with problems.

There’s now one single system that looks at the province holistically. Ironically, he said, doctors are telling them this collaborative approach is the model that should have been used 10 years ago.

There’s always more work to do but McNeil said they look forward to rolling out more innovative ideas on how to deliver health care.

He said they’ve invested in Schools Plus, an adolescent mental health program focusing on early detection. After all, everyone feels the anguish when a family loses a loved one.

“It’s heart wrenching,” McNeil said. “We know that we need to work with families and our healthcare providers so the system is available for those who require access to it.”

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