better health care for you and your family creating good jobs and growing the economy helping people make ends meet ensuring government lives within its means. Today, March 31, the province announced how it is building on its plan for change by creating good jobs and growing the economy, providing better health care, helping Nova Scotians make ends meet, and ensuring the province is living within its means. Lt.-Gov. Mayann Francis opened the Third Session of the 61st General Assembly of Nova Scotia with the speech from the Throne. In it, Premier Darrell Dexter reaffirmed government’s plan to do things differently and put the province on a better path forward. “We made commitments to the people of Nova Scotia, we are working hard to keep those commitments and make life better for Nova Scotia families,” said Premier Dexter. “As outlined today in the throne speech, the province is doing things better, the plan is on track and it’s working.” The provincial priorities presented in the speech are: Better Care Sooner is the province’s plan to improve health care for Nova Scotians. It ensures people will get the right care when they need it by keeping emergency rooms open, reducing wait times, and making efficient use of doctors, nurses, pharmacists, paramedics and other health professionals. In the coming days, government will start to announce new Collaborative Emergency Centres in communities across the province. These centres will ensure the level of service matches the needs of the community and reduce patient wait times. The province will work with the Pictou District Health Authority to build a new emergency department at Aderdeen Regional Hospital. The rising cost of drugs has hurt many Nova Scotia families. New legislation will be introduced this spring that will ensure better drug prices for Nova Scotians who rely on Pharamacare. To create good jobs and grow the economy, government is committing $200-million to the jobsHere plan. This investment will focus on innovation, competitiveness and learning. The province will also proceed with the first stage of the Lower Churchill hydroelectricity agreement. More Nova Scotians are gaining work experience as they learn after the number of co-operative education positions have been tripled. The Productivity Investment Program provides support for employees to expand skills or for businesses to make investments in new equipment. Business in Nova Scotia will also benefit from another cut to the small business tax rate, to achieve a 20 per cent cut in two years. These measures will strengthen the workforce and grow the economy. The province will continue to take steps to help families make ends meet. Last year, government removed the provincial tax on essential items like home heat, children’s clothes, feminine hygiene products and diapers. New tax credits were launched. Seniors receiving the Guaranteed Income Supplement will no longer pay the provincial tax. Tax rebates are available for people buying a new home or heritage property. Nova Scotians living with disabilities will also get help with improved services and waiting list for day programs. Education was also addressed. Nova Scotia’s students will benefit from a new program that will cap the debt load they face upon graduation. Parents, educators and students are becoming increasingly concerned about cyber-bullying, and the province will work to ensure students have the support they need to speak out and stand up to bullies. This year, the province will establish a new 211 information system so Nova Scotians can access a full range of social services in their community, just by picking up a phone. A new Elections Act will be introduced that will modernize the way elections are run in Nova Scotia. The province will also bring forward bills to increase penalties for actions that endanger lives. Consequences for Occupational Health and Safety offences and for impaired driving will both be strengthened.