Since 2017, Rafah DiCostanzo has served the people of Nova Scotia as MLA of Clayton Park West. A strategic thinker and team player, Rafah has an integral, strategic role in one of the most important legislative committees, the health committee. Rafah has three shadow critic portfolios – Immigration, Status of Women and Mental Health and Addictions. Rafah is proud to be critic of all three portfolios. Clayton Park West is a perfect example of the success of our immigration and integration. Rafah as a first-generation immigrant takes pride in being the voice for all immigrant issues at the legislature.

Rafah has previously served as Caucus Chair and Caucus Whip

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. Rafah raised two daughters in Clayton Park who graduated from Halifax West. 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 worked diligently to get a new school for the area. She was thrilled when the new school was announced in April 2018. Site Selection is underway and the new school will begin construction.

Rafah is extremely proud to be part of the government that introduced Pre-primary to Nova Scotia so that any child, no matter what socio-economic situation they find themselves in will be given the same opportunities for early learning. This will have enormous long term advantages for the children of Nova Scotia and their education.

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.

Rafah and her husband are avid cyclists and enjoy the many beautiful trails we have in Clayton Park West.  Rafah is passionate about our parkland and trails.

Access to quality healthcare  

Health Care, in particular access to Primary Care is the number one issue facing our community today.  There are more citizens than ever on the “Find a family practice” registry since its inception.  Longer wait times at emergency rooms and for surgeries.

As a former medical translator and the current member 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 Bayer’s 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. The building is set to be finished in August 2023.

With our growing population, Rafah is advocating for 24 hour urgent (non-life threatening) care to be added to the Bayer’s Lake Facility.  This will alleviate the congestions at the downtown emergency departments.  Rafah has also been advocating for the government to introduce “One Patient, One Record” in the province so that we may have a centralized medical history.  This is more important today than ever as people are accessing healthcare from many different points of entry.

Supporting our seniors  

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 will begin meeting regularly in 2023. There had been a pause during COVID -19 pandemic.

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.

Walk to School Initiative 

Rafah is very passionate about the health of our children.  Both physically and mentally we know that walking to school is a great way for children to start their day.  We also heard from many constituents that the traffic congestion in and around schools is getting out of hand.  That’s when Rafah came up with the idea of a Walking School Bus. What began as an idea, soon connected with parents and the school principals.  Clayton Park West is fortunate to have amazing volunteers who stepped up to help and lead this initiative.  The current initiative is beginning at Rockingham School and Rafah hopes to expand it to other schools.

Litter Prevention Committee

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).  LPC started in 2018 with 5 volunteers and now has over 40 . This wonderful group of dedicated constituents has done more than 15 constituency clean-ups. That number will continue to rise.

Rafah is presently working with the Halifax West High School environmental team and residents to begin a focused litter prevention team at the school.  She has received many complaints and photos of the litter surrounding the high school.

Connecting with constituents

Rafah is a self-described “people-person.” It comes from her Middle Eastern roots, education, work as both a interpreter 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 at the lovely bistro attached to our office. 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 are facing in terms of rising inflation and a challenging healthcare situation, 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.

Rafah is a proven leader. She will work diligently to maneuver Clayton Park West and Nova Scotia forward from this challenging chapter.

Onward. Together.