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MLA report: Health care, climate change among looming issues

NDP MLA, caucus chair and party spokesperson on the environment Lenore Zann.
Lenore Zann

BY LENORE ZANN

TRURO, N.S. —

The recent sitting of the Legislature is now done, and it’s good to be home with constituents, friends and family.
On June 9, I celebrate my 10th anniversary as your MLA. My sincere thanks to everyone who has supported my journey so far.
During this period, I’ve been the recipient of the Duke of Edinburgh Gold Lifetime Award for Service to Community & Country, as well as several Readership Awards including Bronze & Silver in the Coast Magazine’s Best MLA for 2016, 2017 and 2018; and a Gold Award as Truro News’ Best Politician of 2018.  
A rapidly-aging population, lack of family doctors, elimination of local health authorities, and ridiculous wait times for mental health services are all contributing to our health-care crisis. Too many hospital beds are being used for seniors who should really be in nursing homes with trained staff looking after them. So, in the latest Legislative session my caucus introduced numerous health care, social justice, and poverty-reduction legislation including a bill calling for financial investment in long-term care. 
For weeks I spoke out about the need for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner at our Truro hospital, until it was finally included in the Spring Budget. 
As Environment Critic I introduced a number of Bills to help address another major challenge facing us today: the Climate Change Crisis, proof of which is obvious from the recent devastating floods, wildfires, droughts and, more frequently, severe storms.
These Bills include: An Environmental Bill of Rights; Green Jobs Act; and bills that would ban Tire-burning and Single-Use Plastic Bags.
I also re-introduced my Private Member’s Bill #111 An Act to Redress Environmental Racism, the first bill of its kind in North America. (Examples of Environmental Racism are Boat Harbour in Pictou Landing First Nation, the Alton Gas project in Sipekne’katik First Nation, and waste sites near African Nova Scotia communities.) 
The health risks firefighters face is another major concern. Many thanks to the local firefighters who traveled to Province House to support our Bill #85 which, if passed, would expand presumptive Workers’ Compensation coverage for all firefighters to include more forms of cancer linked to their work. 
As the session came to a close, I was honoured to speak to Bill #133, The Organ Donor and Tissue Act, just one day after my 15-year old niece, a gymnast, received a transplanted femur bone during a 10-hour surgery at the IWK. This historic Bill hit close to home and after my speech a number of fellow Members were teary-eyed. So, to mark the occasion the Premier, Speaker of the House, and every Member of the Legislature signed a copy of the Bill for my niece. A touching gesture which my family truly appreciates. 
Now that the House has risen, I continue to meet with constituents and to attend local events. But I’m deeply saddened by the announcement of the closure of the local carpet manufacturing company. My heart goes out to the employees and their families. 
As soon as I heard the news I met with management, UNIFOR (Union), Department of Labour and Advanced Education reps, and other elected officials to discuss financial and transitional supports and retraining opportunities that must be made available for employees. In the hope of saving jobs, I also took meetings with local businessmen who called me to express interest in possibly buying the business, as well as contacting a senior Tarkett company official to set up a meeting between the interested parties. Nothing definite, but at this stage anything is worth trying. 
***
On May 1 rehearsals began for Guys and Dolls, a community musical I’m co-producing with Ross Thompson. We’re presenting the show July 5, 6, and 7 at the First United Church with a cast of 25 people aged 10 to 70.  This is the first play I did in Grade 10 at CEC. I was 15 when I played Adelaide. That experience inspired my professional acting career. 
Numerous roles followed in theatre, television, radio, film, and cartoons – like Marilyn Monroe and Rogue in Marvel’s original X-Men series – now one of the three most popular animated series in television history. Not bad for a kid from Truro! 
Finally, I’d like to share with you that I am considering the invitation to switch to Federal politics, since so many of you have expressed the desire to see me represent our Northern region on the national stage in Ottawa.
Rest assured, any decision will be made with your best interests in mind. 

-Lenore Zann is MLA for Truro-Bible Hill-Millbrook-Salmon River. 

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