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Nova Scotia Premier Tim Houston at the Fairmont Empress, in Victoria, on July 12.CHAD HIPOLITO/The Canadian Press

Nova Scotia’s legislature will reconvene next week to stop the implementation of a pay bump for its members that would raise annual salaries above $100,000, Premier Tim Houston said Tuesday.

In a statement, the premier said, “when inflation is at a 40-year high, gas prices are at historic levels and many hard-working Nova Scotians are struggling to make ends meet, it is not the time to increase the pay of MLAs.”

Houston was responding to an independent panel that recommended a 12.6 per cent pay raise for members of the legislature, which would bring their annual base salaries to $100,481 from $89,235. The panel was composed of a Dalhousie University professor and two Halifax-based lawyers.

The panel’s recommendations are binding and would come into effect retroactively as of Sept. 1, 2021. In response, the premier asked the Speaker to reconvene the legislature so the government could table amendments to the House of Assembly Act that will prevent the MLA pay increase.

The Speaker’s office approved Houston’s request to reconvene and said in a statement the first session of the 64th general assembly will resume next Tuesday at 2 p.m.

Liberal Opposition Leader Zach Churchill said in a statement he agrees with Houston’s decision, but he accused the Progressive Conservative premier of otherwise falling silent on the rising cost of living.

Claudia Chender, leader of Nova Scotia’s NDP, said in a statement the party welcomes the return to legislature but thinks the session should be used instead to address health care and “skyrocketing” living costs.

“If the premier wants to block the recommendations of this report he can do so in a fall sitting,” Chender said about the independent panel’s work. “If he is looking for more than a grandstanding gesture he should be prepared to hold a full session to properly address the needs of Nova Scotians.”

With files from Sarah Smellie.

This story was produced with the financial assistance of the Meta and Canadian Press News Fellowship.

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