News Release Archive

Changes that will bring better government service to Nova
Scotians, particularly in rural parts of the province, were
unveiled today by Premier John Savage.

The centrepiece of the reorganization is a new department called
Business and Consumer Services. The new department - "an open
door to government" - will take a range of services to storefront
locations in communities across Nova Scotia.

"Fast, effective, responsive, user-friendly service that is
easily available to all Nova Scotians is an attainable goal for
government. By integrating service delivery systems and wise
application of technology, we will make life easier for
businesses and individuals in their day-to-day dealings with the
government. There is no question, this is change for the better,"
the premier said.

Business and Consumer Services integrates nine agencies. Each of
them conducts a high volume of transactions with Nova Scotians.

Other changes announced by the premier include the integration of
the departments of Supply and Services and Transportation and
Communications to form the new Department of Transportation and
Public Works.

The services now offered by the Department of Housing and
Consumer Affairs will be reallocated along functional lines, with
consumer and corporate services going to the new Business and
Consumer Services department. Housing programs will be integrated
into the Department of Housing and Municipal Affairs.

A new Technology Secretariat will be created to develop
consistent policy and lead government's information technology
initiatives. The secretariat, formed from the communications
technology group in Transportation and Communications and the
Information Technology policy groups in Supply and Services, will
set standards to be followed across government.

The government is also integrating corporate service functions,
such as human resources, finance and administration and MIS.
Currently most departments have their own units. With the
reorganization, eight corporate service units will serve
departments and agencies.

Premier Savage said the integration of Supply and Services and
Transportation brings together those parts of government that
construct, maintain and manage highways and other
provincially-owned property and infrastructure.

"This merger will help maximize the benefits to the province from
the tax dollars we spend on building and maintaining roads and
other capital projects. It also allows us to maintain, within
government, a high level of expertise in the engineering field."

The new Business and Consumer Services Department integrates the
Registry of Motor Vehicles; the consumer and corporate relations
and financial institutions divisions from Housing and Consumer
Affairs; vital statistics from Health; the Registry of Joint
Stock Companies; the Provincial Tax Commission; the Gaming
Control Commission; Access Nova Scotia, a division of the
Economic Renewal Agency; and the government bookstore and public
enquiries service.

Once fully integrated, customer service representatives from each
component of the new agency will be trained to offer a wide range
of services. Initially these will include business and individual
registrations, licensing, permits, as well as inspections, tax
administration and information distribution.

The changes announced today by the premier are effective April 1,
the beginning of the new fiscal year. However, more time will be
needed to complete the integration of services. For example, it
will be six to 12 months before the various component parts of
Business and Consumer Services are integrated to the point where
each unit can offer the full array of services.

Today's announcement by the premier accelerates the transition
process, and broadens to all employees the opportunity to provide
input and help shape the new departments and agencies. Employees
were notified of the changes in meetings held across government
today. Issues, such as physical location, appropriate staffing
levels, new job descriptions and classifications and retraining,
will be settled during the transition and integration processes.

Any financial savings from these initiatives will be determined
during the budget process, but initially savings will not be
substantial. Downstream savings are expected. Those efficiencies
will result in elimination of some positions, but it is expected
those reductions will come almost entirely through natural
attrition and voluntary retirement. The overwhelming majority of
employees will simply work for new departments.

"This is about better service. It's not a belt-tightening
exercise," said the premier.


Contact: David Harrigan  902-424-3750

         Jim Vibert      902-424-4886

trp                       Mar. 07, 1996 - 2 p.m.