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The Nova Scotia Liberals focused their election campaign Friday on equity in child care, while the Tory leader continued his relentless critique of the province’s health-care system.

Liberal Leader Iain Rankin made a campaign stop outside Halifax at the East Preston Day Care Centre, where he highlighted the $10-a-day child-care agreement his government recently signed with Ottawa.

“Access to affordable child care is an equity issue, especially for women, single parents, and low-income families,” Rankin said in a news release. “As we transform child care in this province, we’re focused on giving every child equitable access to opportunity.”

The Liberal event was held in the Preston riding, where three African Nova Scotian candidates are running in the Aug. 17 election. Preston is one of four so-called “protected” ridings that were restored ahead of this election as a way to improve political representation of Black and Acadian residents.

Preston is expected to be competitive. Liberal Angela Simmonds is vying for the seat against Progressive Conservative Archy Beals and Colter Simmonds of the NDP.

The Liberals are also promising a $10.9-million early learning workforce development strategy to train more than 300 early childhood educators. The plan designates seats and bursaries for the Mi’kmaq and other Indigenous Peoples, Black and African Nova Scotians, Acadian and Francophone Nova Scotians and for newcomers to the country who want to enter the field.

“Our children need to understand equity from a young age, so it’s critical that their learning environments model inclusivity and diversity,” Rankin said.

He also discussed a previous pledge of $3 million to provide elementary school students with healthy, locally sourced lunches.

During a stop in Halifax, NDP Leader Gary Burrill also stressed the importance of healthy eating for young children, calling it fundamental for successful learning and the development of lifelong healthy eating habits.

Burrill’s party is promising to create a program that would serve at least one meal to students during the school day, which would emphasize locally produced food that is nutritious and culturally appropriate.

“We can’t forget that there are many families who simply can’t afford to pack nutritious foods in their child’s lunch,” Burrill said in a news release. “Schools, especially in our rural communities, are much more than places of learning. Every child deserves a healthy meal so they can focus on learning.”

Meanwhile, Progressive Conservative Leader Tim Houston kept his focus Friday on the province’s health-care system. He highlighted new, monthly provincial figures indicating 71,666 Nova Scotians are without a family doctor.

The lack of family physicians, he said, is a symptom of the wider problems in the health network that make it difficult to provide consistent and timely care. His party is promising $430 million in new spending for the health system, including pay raises and a pension plan to recruit and retain family physicians.

Houston expressed no reservations for making health care the singular focus of his party.

“It’s where Nova Scotians want us to be,” he told reporters. “Our platform is very comprehensive but that (health care) is definitely the focus and our message is resonating with Nova Scotians.”

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