Since 2017, Rafah DiCostanzo has served the people of Nova Scotia as MLA of Clayton Park West. She is currently Government Caucus Chair and Government Caucus Whip. A strategic thinker and team player, Rafah has an integral, strategic role in nine provincial government committees, including:
Chairperson: Health, Human Resources, Veterans Affairs, Private and Local Bills.
Vice Chairperson: Community Services, Natural Resources and Economic Development.
Member: Public Accounts, Internal Affairs, Law Amendments.
Born in Bagdad, Iraq, Rafah emigrated to Canada in 1984. She and her family have lived in Clayton Park West for nearly 40 years. She holds a Bachelor of Arts, Modern Languages, from Mount Saint Vincent University. Part of her education in the sciences and medical field was also undertaken in England.
A previous small business owner and interpreter, Rafah speaks five languages. Rafah is highly entuned with the diverse populations within her community. She supports local businesses, churches, cultural groups, and community organizations. Rafah’s work ethic, integrity, and empathy help her connect with her constituents, whom she proudly serves.
Riding Achievements and Issues:-
Rafah listens to constituents’ concerns. Then she acts. Rafah has initiated and manages multiple constituency concerns, including: education and overcrowding, land protection and the environment, access to quality healthcare, supporting our seniors, and connecting with constituents.
Education and overcrowding
Clayton Park West is home to thousands of families. A mother of two, Rafah is working diligently with leaders in education and government, and alongside student and family representatives and local councillors, on the issue of overcrowding in schools.
In spring of 2021, Rafah was delighted to be at the announcement alongside the Minister of Education and Federal colleagues for the announcement of 12 modular classrooms for Park West School and 10 for Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary. Modular classrooms are great infrastructure that have their own washrooms. They will help educators maintain on-going health and safety protocols. Modular classes are also a flexible, temporary solution to enrolment demands. They will replace the portables currently being used.
Rafah continues to push for a new school for Clayton Park West.
Land protection and environment
Rafah is a major advocate for environmental conservancy and land protection. Clayton Park West is home to thousands of acres of natural beauty, including the hidden treasure of Blue Mountain – Birch Cove Lakes Wilderness Area.
The MLA, alongside key groups in the area, has been a strong voice in the effort to include 35 pristine acres of land behind Maskwa Aquatic Club as part of Blue Mountain – Birch Cove. This 2021 land protection announcement has been a priority for Rafah for many years. The new inclusion will act as a key access point for the urban wilderness area.
As part of her environmental work, Rafah is also championing an “MLA Challenge” to reduce litter in her riding and across the province. She initiated the Clayton Park West Litter Prevention Committee (CPW-LPC). It has grown from 5 members to now over 40 in the past two years. This wonderful group of dedicated constituents has done more than 10 constituency clean-ups. That number will continue to rise.
Access to quality healthcare
Perhaps at no point in our recent history has healthcare been more top of mind for people. COVID-19 has changed the way we view our frontline healthcare professionals and the need for improved access to state-of-the-art care.
As a former medical translator and the current chairperson of the Health Committee, Rafah has witnessed, first-hand, the trauma experienced by families who do not have access to the services they need.
As a result, she is a vocal champion of the new Bayers Lake Outpatient Centre. The 134,000 sq. ft. facility will modernize services and make them more accessible. It has a projected yearly visitation rate of 28,000 patients, plus 30,000 X-ray and blood collection appointments.
Supporting our seniors
The pandemic is also affecting the mental health of Nova Scotians, especially our vulnerable seniors who have been feeling particularly isolated.
Supporting our seniors is a major priority for Rafah, who grew up respecting and helping the elder members of her own family and community. Rallying around the very people who have spent decades building up our community is critical. As a result, Rafah continues to lead the Clayton Park West – Connecting Seniors (CPW-CS) group that meets regularly.
The CPW-CS is committed to ensuring senior citizens feel included, especially during this difficult chapter in our history. The group has valuable information brought to the members each meeting, from government and non-government organizations, as well it keeps seniors connected. There is always room for another elder. Please reach out if you or a loved one would like the support and friendship offered through CPW-CS.
Connecting with constituents
Rafah is a self-described “people-person.” It comes from her Middle Eastern roots, education, work as both a translator and small business operator, combined with her years of service to Nova Scotians. Rafah shines when she is connecting with her constituents.
She keeps her ear to the ground by hosting “Coffee and Conversation,” on the first Monday of every month. Guests are invited to join Rafah for a “cuppa and a chat” in the beautiful Bedford Market, overlooking Bedford Basin. The building is also home to her constituency office.
Coffee and Conversation is held in-person when COVID-19 safety protocols allow, or via Zoom when gathering together is not possible. Rafah is proud of her constituents and enjoys being a cheerleader for their successes, as well as a supportive ear and vocal advocate when times are tough.
Light on the horizon
Despite the many uncertainties Nova Scotians have faced over 2020-2021, one of things that has remained consistent is Rafah’s unwavering commitment to the people of both Clayton Park West and Nova Scotia.
Rafah is proud to serve the growing and diverse community in which she lives. She will continue to help constituents successfully tackle whatever challenges lie ahead.
With vaccination rates steadily climbing, COVID-19 testing continuing, and advancements in science and technology, there is light at the end of the tunnel. But we must remain vigilant. We have to stick together. Rafah is a proven leader. She will work diligently to maneuver Clayton Park West and Nova Scotia forward from this challenging chapter.