Free tuition, deferred loan payments for business part of Delorey's rebound plan

·3 min read

Nova Scotia Liberal Party leadership candidate Randy Delorey pitched a slate of policies Monday he said would improve the province's economy and help Nova Scotians on the other side of COVID-19, including offering free tuition in some cases.

Delorey's economic rebound plan promises to defer provincial tax and loan payments for businesses until after the state of emergency is lifted. The plan also includes cash flow loans for small businesses, as well as grants for facility upgrades and marketing for tourism and cultural operators.

Provincial income tax would be waived in 2021 for hospitality and food service businesses, given that they've been the most impacted by the pandemic and Delorey doesn't expect an immediate rebound this year.

"It's going to be another tough year this year, so we want to lessen that burden within the sector," the Antigonish MLA said in an interview Monday, a little more than a month before Liberal Party delegates select a new leader and premier on Feb. 6.

More job training, education supports

The former finance minister has underscored his economic bona fides during the leadership campaign, but Delorey reiterated that now is not the time for an aggressive push to balance the books.

Much of the support he is pitching is related to education and improved training for people who are out of the workforce or whose jobs were affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

"It is an area that I believe supports the other priorities," said Delorey, who has also served as health minister.

"Economic impacts are positive with education, health benefits are recognized with education, and, I think, so are social outcomes improved with education."

Free tuition for some people

Delorey is promising to fund short-term training for high-demand fields so businesses can hire more people. He also wants to expand post-secondary support for parents to get the training they need to enter or re-enter the workforce. Specific details would come from discussions with the Labour and Advanced Education Department, he said.

He's also promising free tuition for low-income Nova Scotians who lost their job due to COVID-19 and do not have a post-secondary education. The focus would be degrees from the Nova Scotia Community College and undergraduate degrees or diploma programs.

"If you have a Nova Scotian who's worked hard to become employed and they're falling behind because of no fault of their own, it gives them the opportunity to get further training and education to, again, have more opportunity in the workforce," he said.

Delegate registration deadline looming

While he's a candidate, Delorey said he does not have access to statistics that would show how many people might qualify for the programs he's pitching. All of that would be studied and settled if he becomes premier, he said.

The economic recovery plan released Monday is a result of consultation with party members and other people in the last few months, said Delorey.

Thursday is the deadline for people to become members of the party and register as a delegate to vote. Existing party members have until Jan. 12 to register as a delegate.

Along with Delorey, Halifax Citadel-Sable Island MLA Labi Kousoulis and Timberlea-Prospect MLA Iain Rankin are seeking the party's top job.