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Nova Scotia government ends tax break agreement with Imperial Oil

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government plans to end a tax break agreement with Imperial Oil (TSX:IMO) because it no longer operates a refinery in Halifax. Municipal Affairs Minister Mark Furey says since the company is converting its site in Dartmouth to a storage facility, the taxes it pays to the Halifax Regional Municipality should revert to standard property assessment tax rates. Furey says changes to the province's Oil Refineries and L.N.G. Plants Municipal Taxation Act would ensure Imperial Oil pays the same rate of tax as other commercial properties.

Ecology Action Centre expresses support for Nova Scotia energy efficiency bill

HALIFAX - A Halifax-based environmental group expressed support Monday for the Nova Scotia government's energy efficiency legislation even though it's not what the Liberals promised during the election campaign. Catherine Abreu, energy co-ordinator for the Ecology Action Centre, said the bill introduced last week is contrary to the Liberal promise of making Nova Scotia Power pay for efficiency programs because it allows those costs to be passed on to customers.

Early learning youth centres open in three Nova Scotia communities

HALIFAX - Three new centres providing early learning programs and child care have opened in Nova Scotia. The facilities, known as early years centres, are located in Halifax, Sydney Mines and Monastery. A fourth centre is expected to open in September in Yarmouth. The provincial government says the facilities are located near or in schools. The centres work with local organizations to offer early learning programs for four-year-olds, early intervention, parent education and other services.

Nova Scotia introduces essential services bill as nurses prepare to go on strike

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government introduced essential services legislation late Monday, a move Premier Stephen McNeil said was necessary hours after the union that represents Halifax-area nurses filed notice that they were preparing to go on strike Thursday. The Essential Health and Community Services Act would require unions and employers throughout the health-care sector to have an essential services agreement in place before job action can occur, and if such an agreement can't be reached, an independent third party decides.

Mediated talks to resume Monday to settle labour dispute with Halifax nurses

HALIFAX - Talks aimed at averting a strike by 2,400 Halifax-area nurses are set to resume Monday. The Nova Scotia Government and General Employees Union and the Capital District Health Authority said Friday they have agreed to resume talks after receiving a call from mediator Bruce Outhouse. The nurses will be in a legal strike position on Thursday. Talks reached an impasse Sunday. The health authority said it has started cancelling elective surgeries scheduled for early next week because of the possible walkout.

Nova Scotia legislature sits for second day to deal with home-care strike

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia legislature is taking the rare step of sitting on a Saturday as the Liberal government looks to pass essential services legislation to end a strike by Halifax area home-care workers. Third and final reading is expected on a bill Premier Stephen McNeil says won't take away the right to strike. But McNeil says it would require an employer and union to determine who is considered an essential worker and if an agreement can't be reached, the matter would be submitted to the Nova Scotia Labour Board.

Tensions high in hearing for man charged with murder of Loretta Saunders

HALIFAX - Amid a heavy security presence and tensions that ran high, the friends and family of Loretta Saunders packed a Halifax courtroom Friday to get their first glimpse of the man charged in the death of the Inuit student. Moments after 25-year-old Blake Leggette entered provincial court, a man in the gallery screamed "You gutless coward" and "Watch, bud, watch" before being reprimanded by one of many sheriffs and police officers.

Body of missing Halifax student Loretta Saunders found on New Brunswick highway

HALIFAX - The hope that university student Loretta Saunders would be returned to her family ended Wednesday when police said they found her body off a busy highway in New Brunswick and were treating her death as a homicide. Halifax police say Saunders's body was found at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the median off Route 2 of the Trans-Canada Highway, west of Salisbury, N.B., two weeks after she disappeared. Salisbury is just west of Moncton, about a three-hour drive from Halifax.

Nova Scotia pulp mill surprised by government's refusal to access Crown land

HALIFAX - The Nova Scotia government has denied requests from Northern Pulp and Paper for more access to Crown land and financial assistance. A spokeswoman for Premier Stephen McNeil said the Pictou County mill asked to harvest an additional 500,000 green metric tonnes of fibre from Crown land. Laurel Munroe said McNeil told a business luncheon Thursday in Halifax that the mill's request was being turned down. After the luncheon, McNeil said, "if private sector investors aren't prepared to invest, we seriously have to ask 'Why are we?'"

Body of Canadian sailor found dead in the Seychelles islands to return home

HALIFAX - The body of a Canadian warship crew member who was found dead while on shore leave in the Seychelles islands in the Indian Ocean will be returned to Halifax on Monday. The Department of National Defence says a private repatriation ceremony for family and friends of Lt. Andrew F. Webster will take place at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport around 2 p.m. Webster was serving on board HMCS Toronto, which has been part of counterterrorism and anti-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea for most of this year.
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