Former Kings North MLA named as chief of staff for NDP leader

Ashley Thompson athompson@hantsjournal.ca
Published on March 9, 2016

Jim Morton

HALIFAX - A former MLA for Kings North is taking a chief of staff position with the provincial NDP caucus.

Jim Morton, who represented Kings North from 2009 to 2013, has been selected as the chief of staff for newly elected NDP leader Gary Burrill.

Morton, a social worker, has recently been working for the Nova Scotia Health Authority as a manager in mental health and addictions. He’ll be stepping down from that position in the coming weeks, but plans to continue to push for government investments that will improve the health care services available to Nova Scotians.

“One of the things that we need to do is invest more in the world that I’m in, in the mental health and addictions world. Of the health care services, it’s not the one we necessarily hear the most about but it’s the least well-funded part of the health system,” said Morton in an interview March 8.

Discussions about gaps in service come and go, but Morton believes the need for discourse regarding the topic of mental health is unwavering.

“There’s still a hidden quality to mental health and addictions issues… there’s a stigma that’s real and it tends to lead people to avoid talking about them,” he said.

“I think, in part, it’s that stigma that’s allowed an under funding of service.”

Morton intends to use the insight he’s gain through 40 years in social work to advocate for health care plans that call for more frontline service providers, and more collaborative approaches to service delivery.

Morton’s political aspirations held strong following the 2013 election that saw Tory candidate John Lohr claim the Kings North seat.

“What has kept me interested is a belief that the world can be a fairer place,” said Morton, who started working with Burrill soon after the last provincial election.

Listing climate change and poverty as top concerns that require immediate attention, Morton said he intends to help the NDP rebuild and hold the governing Liberals to account.

“We need a more egalitarian province, a place where more people have access to the kinds of things they need to have a decent life,” he said.

Accepting the chief of staff position after working as the chairperson of Burrill’s leadership campaign team, Morton is already in the midst of transitioning to his new role.

“Jim’s deep commitment to eliminating poverty in Nova Scotia and his keen sense of administration and political organizing made him the clear choice for chief of staff for the new direction of our party,” said Burrill in a press release issued March 9.