Recent experience with cyberbullying ‘challenging time’
Recently the new Liberal government presented its first budget update. I'd just like to pass along a few of the actual facts regarding what they reported.
What the Liberals said 1. Revenue projections used by the NDP in the spring budget presented a ‘rosy picture’ and were not accurate.
The Truth: To the new Finance Minister's credit she confirmed that the revenue projections used this spring were reasonable and appropriate. Any loss of revenue in the current budget is the result of unforeseen economic factors beyond the government’s control.
What the Liberals said 2. The 2013-14 Community Services budget only had funding for 11 months of Income Assistance, forcing the Liberals to add $17 million.
The Truth: The 2013-14 budget only had funding for 11 months, because the 2012-2013 budget included funding for 13 months. People receiving income assistance were not going to experience any disruptions in their payments.
Keep in mind the Liberals have promised to cut $10 million from Community Services next year.
What the Liberals said 3. The NDP left the province’s finances in bad shape.
The Truth: The current budget deficit has been inflated by the Liberal’s decision to place almost $300 million in unfunded pension liability on a single budget. The proper approach would be to amortize the total over 11 years to minimize the impact. This was the advice the previous NDP Finance Minister Maureen MacDonald received - advice the Liberals have chosen to ignore. What the Liberals are doing is the equivalent of trying to pay your entire mortgage in one year. It’s just not reasonable.
What the Liberals said 4. The NDP are bad at managing finances.
The Truth: This claim is ridiculous. In 2009, Nova Scotia was facing a $1.3 billion dollar deficit. When you take out one-time costs, the actual provincial deficit right now is about $80 million. With the exception of P.E.I., that gives Nova Scotia the third lowest deficit in Canada for the current fiscal year (Saskatchewan and British Columbia are projecting surpluses). So, compared to the rest of Canada, Nova Scotia’s finances improved dramatically under the NDP.
Again, I just wanted to make sure you had the real facts about our province's fiscal situation.
On a more personal note now that our NDP Caucus sits in opposition, I am thoroughly enjoying my new role as NDP Critic for environment; agriculture; arts, culture and heritage; and the status of women. I enjoy meeting with various stake-holders for my portfolios and asking probing questions of the ministers, as well as debating important issues and delivering speeches on the floor of the Legislature.
After four years as a member of the government caucus, and now one of the new NDP ‘Group of Seven’ I feel I am truly coming into my own.
I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has sent me messages of support and encouragement regarding my recent experience and stance on cyberbullying.
While it was definitely a challenging time for me and for my family, I believe I conducted myself with truth and integrity, and stood up for the values many Nova Scotians still cherish. This is thanks in large part to a strong upbringing by my parents, educators Jan and Paul Zann - who taught me from an early age that treating others with respect and kindness is the only way to build healthy relationships between individuals, our community, our province, our country - and in fact our world.
Nova Scotia's recent Cyber-safety Act, the first legislation of its kind in Canada, was introduced by our previous NDP government in order to address the growing societal problem of online bullying - specifically to protect the victims and make those responsible accountable under the law.
The Cyber-safety Act defines cyberbullying as any electronic communication through the use of technology (including computers, mobile devices, social networks, texts, instant messaging, websites and e-mail) typically with content that is repeated or with continuing effect, that is intended - or ought reasonably be expected - to cause fear, intimidation, humiliation, distress or other damage or harm to another person's health, emotional well-being, self-esteem or reputation. Cyberbullying also includes anyone who assists or encourages such communication in any way.
Nova Scotia's new CyberSCAN Investigation Unit also has been in operation since Sept. 30, 2013. As Canada's first-ever cyberbullying investigation unit, it has already had 57 cases reported, not just involving teenagers but from people of all ages - including seniors.
Other provinces are now interested in this model because instead of relying solely on police pursuing criminal action, victims and their families now have new civil options to address the problem of cyberbullying - including a prevention/protection order, suing the perpetrator, computers and other technical devices can be confiscated and parents can be held responsible for minors. People who disobey these orders can pay a fine up to $5,000 and/or do jail time for up to six months.
Nova Scotia's CyberSCAN Unit team will work with victims of any age or profession, parents, families, teachers, principals, police, or other members of the public, to investigate complaints, gather any evidence and help stop cyberbullying in its tracks.
Here's how to contact the CyberSCAN Unit if you or anyone you know needs help: call 1-855-702-8324 o r 424-6990 in the Halifax Regional Municipality, or visit www.cyberscan.novascotia.ca
If you or someone you know are suffering needlessly from cyberbullying, contact Nova Scota's new CyberSCAN Investigation Unit to receive help. Don’t be afraid or ashamed to come forward. You could be saving a life - possibly your own.
On that note I hope this information helps any individual or family who may be struggling with this problem this holiday season and beyond. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed and everyone has the right to lead a happy, healthy life free from harassment.
I wish everyone joy and peace of mind this yuletide season. Here's hoping that you and yours have a very healthy, happy and prosperous 2014.
After all is said and done, love is all that matters.
NDP Lenore Zann has served as MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River since 2009.