Premier Dexter makes changes to cabinet

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Premier Darrell Dexter welcomes new cabinet ministers Dave Wilson (left) and Charlie Parker.

Premier Darrell Dexter has added some new faces to his cabinet, and changed the names and structures of some government departments. The changes were announced on Jan. 11. It’s the first cabinet shuffle since the NDP took power in 2009.

The premier said changes have been made to cabinet and government departments to better distribute the workload of ministers and to ensure more effective service delivery.

The new faces to cabinet are Dave Wilson and Charlie Parker.

Wilson is the minister of the new Department of Communities, Culture and Heritage. This department will focus on the diverse needs of communities across the province while preserving and promoting Nova Scotia's rich and diverse heritage and culture.

Public libraries in Nova Scotia will move from the Department of Education to Communities, Culture and Heritage. The offices of Acadian Affairs, Gaelic Affairs, and African Nova Scotia Affairs will be integrated into this new department for administrative purposes. Each office will continue to be represented by its own minister. Wilson also becomes the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation and Part 1 of the Gaming Control Act.

Parker will become the Minister of Natural Resources and the Minister of Energy. Parker resigned today as Speaker of the House, a position he has held since June 2009. Premier Dexter will nominate Gordie Gosse as the Speaker of the House of Assembly. Gosse was first elected in 2003 and re-elected in 2006 and 2009.

Premier Dexter also announced other departmental and ministerial changes, effective immediately.

• Maureen MacDonald is minister of the Department of Health and Wellness. This department will merge the departments of Health and Health Promotion and Protection to provide better health care to Nova Scotians. The merger will streamline operations and ensure better integration between the prevention and treatment sides of health care. An associate deputy minister of Wellness will be appointed in the months to come to deal with issues related to health prevention and promotion.

• John MacDonnell is Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The Alcohol and Gaming Division will move to Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations as it conducts similar work in licensing, permits, enforcement and providing front-line service to the public. This merger will lead to a greater efficiency and improved client service.

• Marilyn More is minister of the Department of Labour and Advanced Education as well as the Minister of both Immigration and Status of Women. Post-secondary education will be transferred from the Department of Education to this new department to provide adult learners and employers one point of contact for all aspects of learning, including universities, community colleges and workforce training and development. For administrative purposes, the offices of Immigration and Status of Women will be integrated into the department.

• Percy Paris is minister of the Department of Economic and Rural Development and Tourism. The department will now be home to provincial-related tourism activities to bring a sharper focus to tourism as an economic driver in Nova Scotia. The province's Gateway Secretariat and all trade-related policy within government, including fisheries, agriculture, energy, NSBI, and intergovernmental affairs, will fall under the responsibility of the department. In addition, NSBI field staff from across the province will join the department to better align the services of Nova Scotia's economic development agencies and to improve service to clients.

• Ramona Jennex is the Minister of Education. The department will focus exclusively on the education and development of young Nova Scotians from grades primary to 12 to ensure they continue to receive an excellent education.

• Ross Landry is the Minister of the Emergency Management Office. This office is being transferred to the Department of Justice for administrative purposes.

Progressive Conservative Leader Jamie Baillie says it was inappropriate for Premier Dexter to expand the size of his cabinet before balancing the province’s budget.

“In the last campaign, the NDP said the ‘plan to address expenditures needs to start at the top’,” said Baillie. “It is not reasonable for the Premier to be expanding his cabinet and staff at a time when government is digging deeper into people’s pockets, and Nova Scotians are getting by on less and less.”

Baillie pointed out that the Progressive Conservative cabinet of Premier John Hamm did not expand from 12 to 14 until after Hamm’s government presented its first balanced budget in 2002.

Organizations: NDP, Department of Education, Acadian Affairs African Nova Scotia Affairs Gaming Department of Health and Wellness Alcohol and Gaming Division Department of Labour and Advanced Education Department of Economic and Rural Development Gateway Secretariat Minister of the Emergency Management Office Department of Justice

Geographic location: Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians

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