Roundup: COVID update, gov spending blitz continues, 20,000 more Nova Scotians on doctor wait list, saving Pictou’s heritage

Hfx Wanderers FC coach Stephen Hart. Photo: Submitted

Nova Scotia has 58 known active cases of COVID-19, with three new cases and seven recoveries reported in the latest government update. Two of the new cases are in the Central Zone, where health officials say there continues to be “limited” community spread. There are two people hospitalized in provincial COVID-19 units.

Despite the decreasing numbers, Premier Iain Rankin urges continued caution.

“Just a few months ago we were experiencing the highest rates of COVID-19 that we’ve ever seen in the province,” he says in a press release. “COVID-19 variants can spread much quicker and more easily, so we need to do what we can to prevent it from spreading: get tested, get vaccinated, and continue to follow the public health measures.”

So far, COVID-19 has killed 26,214 Canadians, including 92 Nova Scotians.

Doctor wait list grows
When the Liberals won power in Nova Scotia in 2013, then-leader Stephen McNeil’s pledge of “a doctor for every Nova Scotian” was a key campaign plank.

McNeil retired without fulfilling that promise, and the number of Nova Scotians needing a family doctor has grown since Iain Rankin succeeded him as premier. A June 1 report from Nova Scotia Health shows 66,404 people on the wait list, nearly 21,000 more than were on the list in June 2020.

“They have failed miserably on doctor recruitment,” says Tory Kim Masland, MLA for Queens-Shelburne. “Back in 2013, they had a great campaign line … Here we are eight years later.”

Kevin McBain reports for LighthouseNow.

Iain Rankin. Photo CNS

Election speculation
Spending announcements are coming like clockwork from the provincial government (recreation infrastructure in HRM on June 26, transportation in Antigonish on June 24, filmmaking in Lunenburg on June 23, just to name a few) but Premier Iain Rankin insists the blitz isn’t a taxpayer-funded pre-election campaign.

“We’ve reached our four-year mark; I’m still focused more on managing the pandemic,” Rankin said. “We’ve just come down from a third wave. The reopening plan is going well … The announcements will continue to let Nova Scotians know where we are prioritizing provincial funding.”

Jake Boudrot has more for The Reporter.

Saving Pictou’s heritage homes
St. Clair Prest knows much of Pictou’s rich history by heart, so he was dismayed when he saw what was happening to many of its heritage buildings and historic neighbourhoods.

“Things were disappearing,” he recalls. “And being the owner of perhaps what is the oldest building in town, I went to council one day approximately two years ago complaining. So, under the umbrella of the council, we formed this Heritage Advisory Committee.”

The seven-member group works to make people aware of the town’s treasures.

“This is a pretty old town and we have so much here to offer—the Scottish architecture is important,” Prest adds. “We’ve had a few disasters along the line but what’s here we need to keep. We have tons of century-old houses.”

See Jackie Jardine’s feature in The Pictou Advocate.

Murray Doner

The final bubble
On Saturday, Hfx Wanderers FC began their Canadian Premier League season, losing 2-0 to Pacific FC.

As the pandemic continues to loom, with the pro soccer team beginning play in a bubble in Winnipeg, players and coaches are opening up about the mental health toll of COVID-19.

“It’s important to talk about the mental side of sports; a lot of people don’t talk about it,” fullback Morey Doner says. “I had a lot of anxiety, and was pretty emotional about the whole situation … When you are going through a tough time, you should be honest with yourself about it. Then you attack it, and it makes you stronger. I looked up to a lot of players, and they go through those things as well.”

Ameeta Vohra interviews Dorey, captain Andre Rampersad, goalie Christian Oxner, and coach Stephen Hart in this new Halifax Magazine feature.

Need to know
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This story was originally published in Halifax Magazine.

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