Premier Iain Rankin delivers remarks at Swearing-in Ceremony

- Halifax, Nova Scotia

Thank you, Tapadh leibh, et Bienvenue!

Kwe (G’way) – and Madainn mhath!

I want to begin by acknowledging that we are on Mik’magi – the traditional and unceded territory of the Mi’kmaq people.

Today is a great day. And such a proud day as I present to you, to the people of Nova Scotia, your new cabinet. These 16 women and men reflect the values, spirit and heritage that is modern-day Nova Scotia. More than that, they embody the work ethic and ambition of this beautiful province.

Nous sommes prêts et impatients de nous mettre au travail et de continuer de gagner votre confiance jour après jour. Nous allons collaborer pour faire avancer la province en ce qui a trait aux enjeux qui sont importants pour vous, soit les emplois, une économie fort, l'innovation, une province propre et dynamique, et l'enjeu le plus urgent aujourd'hui, vaincre la COVID-19.

We are ready and eager to get to work - to keep earning your trust day after day - as together we move the province forward on the issues that are important to you: jobs, a strong economy, innovation, a clean and vibrant province and the most urgent issue of our day – winning the war against COVID-19.

Seventeen days ago, when I became leader of the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia, I said to you that this was the beginning of the province’s next chapter.

And with the swearing-in today, we are putting pen to paper. We are writing a new chapter for sure. But it is one that reflects and respects our past.

The governments that have come before ours – whether Liberal or NDP or Conservative – have provided us with strong foundations to support our agenda. Our future looks bright, in large part because of the leadership of Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang during this difficult year, one filled with so much uncertainty.

Yet, Nova Scotians have emerged stronger. We stand out from the rest of Canada because we’ve sacrificed for the collective good. Businesses voluntarily closed in the early days of the pandemic to keep us safe; our health care heroes selflessly cared for us against all odds. Nova Scotians kept gatherings to a minimum, we self-isolate if we have traveled outside the province, we keep our distance and wear masks.

These measures have contributed to a semblance of normalcy – our kids are in school, our businesses are open, and commerce continues - while so much of Canada and so many Canadians remain locked down.

But we can’t rest on our laurels. There is more work to do.

My priority, my immediate focus for this province, is vaccine delivery. Soon we will have 10 community-based clinics running, throughout the month of March.

Every single Nova Scotian will have the opportunity to receive that much-anticipated shot in the arm.

So, get ready for it!

And as you are rolling up your sleeves, know that I, my ministers and caucus colleagues, are doing the same. We’re rolling up our sleeves and getting ready to work. We are planning for an Economic Recovery to position Nova Scotia with a competitive advantage.

The recovery that I envisage involves strategic investment, and continued discipline when it comes to taxpayers’ dollars – your dollars. It also leverages innovation and recognizes the economic power of a growing population.

Let me speak to that for a moment – because we have a good story to tell on immigration. It is one of economic prosperity, inclusion and growth. It is also one of a welcoming province and people.

Consider this. In 2013, the year that we came to government, we had a population of 940,000 with a downward trend. Now, Nova Scotia’s population has reached an all-time high of 980,000 people with an upward trend.

While Halifax is now one of the fastest growing cities in the country, which is good for our whole province, we are experiencing population growth across Nova Scotia, in every county, from outside and inside of Canada. In Cape Breton alone, the number of immigrants has more than doubled between 2015 and 2019.

During 2020, the province approved a record number of applications for newcomers, setting the stage for population growth and economic recovery. And here is what should make all of us proud: Research shows that nearly 90 per cent of Nova Scotians embrace immigrants coming to our province. And our retention rate for newcomers is the highest in Atlantic Canada, at 71 per cent.

That means more health care providers, more job creators, and an enrichment to the very fabric of our Province.

As we look towards economic recovery, our province is well positioned to continue to focus on regional labour market needs and fill gaps through in-migration.

I have spoken, too, about the work that still needs to be done in righting past wrongs. We have just begun the long-awaited journey of dismantling systemic racism.

Still, there is so much more we can do – and we are ready to do it.

There is more work to be done on the environment - and one of the biggest threats to our planet – climate change – is now explicitly named in the renamed Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The work we will be engaged in will be one of our greatest opportunities in our economic recovery efforts.

Consider this: A Dartmouth company (Carbon Cure) has developed the technology to inject carbon dioxide into concrete, making it more durable and helping the planet at the same time. This technology is being used across North America, Asia and Europe. That’s innovation. That’s job creation.

Meanwhile, large financial organizations are informing future investment choices based, in part, on environmental progress. Nova Scotia has the opportunity now to seize this moment. This is an opportunity to create JOBS in every part of the province.

By putting it front and centre, I want our government to consider the environment and climate change in decision and policy making. These mandate letters will be made public as we strive for transparency and accountability in our government.

All of you – not just the women and men who were sworn into cabinet today – have a role in building our future – young, old, retired, union member, business owner, student, part-time worker or volunteer.

This is your province. This is your opportunity.

This is our time to break through Nova Scotia. Let’s get to work.