POLITICS

Nova Scotia legislature wraps after passing several contentious bills

11/20/2014 05:34 EST | Updated 01/20/2015 05:59 EST
HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia legislature wrapped up a two-month fall session Thursday, that was marked by a contentious health merger law and a ban on high-volume hydraulic fracturing.

Members of four major public-sector unions protested through the first weeks of the session as the Liberal government passed legislation to shrink the number of bargaining units for health workers from 50 to four — part of a wider bill that also reduces the number of health districts from 10 to two by April 1.

The government's fracking ban legislation also drew fire as the Opposition Progressive Conservatives said it sends a negative signal to the energy and business sectors.

Amendments to legislation were also passed that outlaw the sale of e-cigarettes to minors and prohibits the use of the devices in indoor public places, although the government again drew heavy criticism when it withdrew a provision that would have banned flavoured tobacco for more consultation and study.

Premier Stephen McNeil says although the session wasn't without its challenges, it showed his government is willing to face difficult choices "head-on."

But both the Opposition Tories and NDP say the government's performance was lacking when it came to important issues affecting jobs and the province's healthcare system.