MLAs vote against funding additional assistants

Progressive Conservatives halt effort to hire more staff to improve safety

2 min read
caption NDP MLA Susan Leblanc speaks to media following Wednesday's meeting.
Megan James

A committee of MLAs dominated by the governing Progressive Conservatives defeated a motion Thursday to spend $4.5 million to fund an additional constituency assistant in their offices.

Instead, MLAs will have to fund security measures from their own budgets. The House of Assembly management commission meeting was a continuation of the meeting held on Jan. 24.

The motion was made by NDP MLA Susan Leblanc to increase security measures for those working in MLA offices. Her motion advocated spending $4.5 million in the MLA budget for the extra positions.

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Liberal and NDP MLAs fought for the motion. Leblanc criticized Finance Minister Allan MacMaster for accusing the opposition of “playing politics” during a media scrum following the last meeting.

“I am offended, I think every CA (constituency assistant) in this province should be offended by those comments,” she said on Wednesday.

At Wednesday’s hearing, Leblanc presented a list of media headlines involving security incidents in public offices. The headlines included incidents of vandalism, physical attacks and dangerous packages received in the mail.

“There are certain things that cannot be taken for granted and that is safety,” said Leblanc.

“I implore the government members to take a look at this issue square on, think about your own CAs and make the right decision and support this motion,” said Leblanc, stressing the importance of providing a safe working environment for staff members.

But PC MLA Danielle Barkhouse said “we need to learn to choose how we spend our money for our budget.”

At the last meeting, Barkhouse said MLAs should first take measures that include de-escalation training for staff, and installing panic buttons and doorbell cameras in offices.

Leblanc said that after buying the security measures suggested, she still advocated for the motion “to make people safe, or to make sure that they are as safe as possible.”

Safety measures cannot add the same level of safety as another full-time constituency assistant, she added.

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About the author

Megan James

Megan is a bachelor of journalism student from Enfield, Nova Scotia.

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