Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 10-13

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

Published by Order of the Legislature by Hansard Reporting Services and printed by the Queen's Printer.

Available on INTERNET at http://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 763
Fin.: Tax Increases - Halt, Hon. M. Samson 763^
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 344, Prov. Vol. Awards (36th): Nominees/Recipients
- Congrats., Hon. M. More 764
Vote - Affirmative 764
Res. 345, Acadian Seaplants Ltd.: Prov. Bus. Award - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Jennex 764
Vote - Affirmative 765
Res. 346, Black Educators Assoc./IBM Prog./Hfx. Commun. YMCA
- Anniversaries Congrats., Hon. P. Paris
(by Hon. Maureen MacDonald) 765
Vote - Affirmative 766
Res. 347, Gallagher, Sgt. Mark: Death of - Tribute,
The Premier 766
Vote - Affirmative 767
Res. 348, Xstrata Coal: Donkin Mine Proj. - Investment Recognize,
The Premier 767
Vote - Affirmative 768
Res. 349, Black Bus. Init.: Jammin' Prog. - Anniv. (10th),
Hon. P. Paris 768
Vote - Affirmative 768
Vote - Affirmative
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 27, Elections Act, Mr. C. Porter 769
No. 28, Fire Safety Act, Hon. M. Scott 769
No. 29, Municipal Government Act, Hon. R. Jennex 769
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 350, Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day (04/14/10): Campaign
- Support, Hon. S. McNeil 770
Vote - Affirmative 770
Res. 351, Anti-Bullying Day Movement - Significance Recognize,
Hon. K. Casey 771
Vote - Affirmative 771
Res. 352, Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day - Recognize,
Mr. J. Morton 772
Vote - Affirmative 772
Res. 353, Theatrical Commun. (N.S.): Cultural Contributions
- Congrats., Hon. Maureen MacDonald 772
Vote - Affirmative 773
Res. 354, Lill, Wendy: CBC Drama Series - Congrats.,
Hon. M. More 773
Vote - Affirmative 774
Res. 355, Clothier, Capt. Terry: Commun. Dedication - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 774
Vote - Affirmative 774
Res. 356, Casa Bella Gifts - Best of Kings (2010),
Hon. R. Jennex 775
Vote - Affirmative 775
Res. 357, Jensen, Dick: Commun. Bus. Dev. Corp. N.S. Vol. of Yr.
- Congrats., Hon. S. Belliveau 775
Vote - Affirmative 776
Res. 358, Glooscap Heritage Ctr.: Funding - Congrats.,
Ms. L. Zann 776
Vote - Affirmative 777
Res. 359, Mill Village Gen. Store: Queens Assoc. for Supported Living
- Ownership, Ms. V. Conrad 777
Vote - Affirmative 778
Res. 360, Tallahassee Sch. (Mrs. Toope's Class): Haitian Fundraising
- Congrats., Ms. B. Kent 778
Vote - Affirmative 778
Res. 361, Michael, Margaret: N.S. Recycles Essay Contest
- Congrats., Mr. L. Preyra 778
Vote - Affirmative 779
Res. 362, Brown, Aaron/Gallardo, Maria - Progress Magazine Recognition,
Mr. G. Ramey 779
Vote - Affirmative 780
Res. 363, McSorley, Ms. Erin: Habitat for Humanity (Louisiana)
- Participation, Mr. B. Skabar 780
Vote - Affirmative 781
Res. 364, Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa - Best of Kings (2010),
Mr. J. Morton 781
Vote - Affirmative 781
Res. 365, Lighthouse Publishing Staff -
Cdn. Commun. Newspapers Assoc. Awards, Ms. P. Birdsall 782
Vote - Affirmative 782
Res. 366, Guysborough Co. Kids First/Partners
- "Moms Making Me Move" Award, Mr. J. Boudreau 782
Vote - Affirmative 783
Res. 367, Redden, Ms. Glenda: Chester Basin 250th Anniv. Comm.
- Congrats., Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 783
Vote - Affirmative 784
Res. 368, Barger, John Wall - "Pain-Proof Men": Publication
- Congrats., Hon. Maureen MacDonald 784
Vote - Affirmative 785
Res. 369, Nickerson, Ena: Rosalin Nickerson "Care" Fund Soc.
- Fundraising, Hon. S. Belliveau 785
Vote - Affirmative 786
Res. 370, Medway River Salmon Assoc. - N.S. Salmon Assoc. Award,
Ms. V. Conrad 786
Vote - Affirmative 786
Res. 371, 2nd East. Passage Scouts/Leader/Vols.
- TD Great Cdn. Shoreline Cleanup, Ms. B. Kent 787
Vote - Affirmative 787
Res. 372, Lun.-Queens Parkinson's Support Group/
Kiwanis Club of Bluenose Golden "K" - Fundraising,
Mr. G. Ramey 787
Vote - Affirmative 788
Res. 373, Amherst Town: Age Friendly Communities Grant - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Skabar 788
Vote - Affirmative 789
Res. 374, Pulsifers Flowers & Foliage - Best of Kings (2010),
Mr. J. Morton 789
Vote - Affirmative 789
Res. 375, Second Story Women's Ctr.: Positive Aging Fund Grant
- Congrats., Ms. P. Birdsall 790
Vote - Affirmative 790
Res. 376, East. Communities Youth Assoc.: Lighthouses Prog. Funding
- Congrats., Mr. J. Boudreau 790
Vote - Affirmative 791
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 120, Prem: Barristers' Soc. Fees (Hon. M. Baker) - Tabling Explain,
Hon. S. McNeil 791
No. 121, Townsview Estates: Resident Care Workers - Pay Equity,
Hon. K. Casey 793
No. 122, LWD - Townsview Estates: Resident Care Workers
- Arbitration Decision, Ms. K. Regan 794
No. 123, Health: Lucentis - Funding,
Ms. D. Whalen 795
No. 124, Health: ER Closures - Explain,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 797
No. 125, Prem. - Southwestern N.S.: Transportation Study
- Fast-Tracking, Hon. S. McNeil 798
No. 126, Health - Autistic Children: Training Prog. - Lottery Draw,
Mr. K. Bain 799
No. 127, Educ.: Tuition Support Prog. - Extension,
Ms. K. Regan 800
No. 128, Townsview Estates - Employees: Min.-Meet,
Hon. K. Casey 801
No. 129, Nat. Res.: Shubenacadie Canal Comm. - Bus. Plan Request,
Mr. A. Younger 802
No. 130, Health - Lucentis: Seniors' Pharmacare Prog.
- Coverage Include, Mr. C. Porter 804
No. 131, Com. Serv. - Income Assistance: Tax Increase - Effect,
Mr. T. Zinck 806
No. 132, Affaires Acadienne - Période de Questions: MALs
- Usage Français, Hon. M. Samson 807
No. 133, Health: Satellite Dialysis Station (Bridgewater) - Funding,
Hon. C. d'Entremont ^809
No. 134, Environ. - Guysborough Mun.: RRFB - FOIPO Requests,
Mr. A. Younger 810
No. 135, Health: Physician Compensation - Range,
Mr. A. MacMaster 811
No. 136, TIR - Highway No. 101: Valley Passing Lanes - Fed. Funding,
Hon. W. Gaudet 812
No. 137, Fin.: Tax Increases - Decision Explain,
Mr. A. MacMaster 814
No. 138, TIR - Fairview Overpass: Penalties - Contract Details,
Ms. D. Whalen 815
No. 139, TIR - Donkin Hwy: Upgrade - Funding,
Mr. A. MacLeod 817
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 188, Antigonish MLA: Election Misleading - Remind,
Hon. M. Samson 820
Mr. A. Younger 820
Mr. M. Smith 822
Hon. M. Scott 825
Hon. S. McNeil 829
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 20, Health-care Sustainability Advisory Council Act
Ms. D. Whalen 832
Ms. D. Whalen 832
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 836
Hon. C. d'Entremont 838
Mr. L. Glavine 841^^
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 15th at 12 noon 843

[Page 761]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 14, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Gordon Gosse, Hon. Wayne Gaudet, Mr. Alfie MacLeod

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll call today's session to order. Before we do the daily routine I'm going to recognize the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and the indulgence of the House I wish to make a statement. I want to provide clarification around a remark I made in this House yesterday during Oral Question Period. The honourable member for Clare asked questions of the Minister of Finance in English, and the minister responded in French only. When I rose to start the next question, I suggested I would ask a question everyone would understand.

Mr. Speaker, my comment was made in a lighthearted manner and not one that was intended to offend. I respect both official languages and in my capacity as Minister of Education, I worked closely with the CSAP - the Acadian school board - to foster and expand French education. I meant no harm by my comment. I realize it may have been misinterpreted and considered offensive by some members of this Assembly, or to others in the Acadian community.

[Page 762]

761

Having said that, I hereby retract that statement and respectfully request the understanding of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. SAMSON: M. Le Président, je voulais juste prendre cette occasion comme Président de la Section Nouvelle-Écosse de l'Assemblée des parlementaires de la Francophonie de remercier la chef du Parti conservateur pour avoir eu clarifié ses commentaires. Je veux l'assurer que c'était très clair pour moi que c'était pas son intention de vouloir faire des remarques négatives envers les parlementaires francophones ici à l'Assemblée. Je sais que pendant son temps comme ministre de l'Éducation que c'était une grande amie de la communauté acadienne et francophone ici en Nouvelle-Écosse, mais je pense que le point qu'elle soulève est le fait que quand le ministre des Finances a répondu en français, que vous-même, comme Président de l'Assemblée, vous n'avez pas compris ses commentaires. La majorité des membres ici à l'Assemblée ne l'ont pas compris et ça c'est un problème qui existe ici à l'Assemblée que c'est le temps d'adresser une fois, pour faire sûr que ça ce n'arrive plus dans le futur.

Mr. Speaker, as the president of the Nova Scotia section of the international assembly of French parliamentarians, I want to commend the Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party for offering clarification of her remarks. I can assure her that neither I nor do I think any of the Acadian members of the Legislature took offence to her comments, but I do realize that the media did pick up on them and I appreciate her making it clear the point she was making. She raises a valid point here that when the Minister of Finance responded yesterday, I would submit that neither you, Mr. Speaker, nor the majority of the members of this Chamber understood his comments.

I think that's the problem that we have here in this Legislature that needs to be addressed and that the time has come for us to be able to address that, and I certainly hope that as Speaker you will take actions to be able to ensure that our rights as Acadian members and francophones to speak French in this Legislature be respected in the sense that all of our colleagues - all members, yourself included - can understand those comments when they are being made.

MR. SPEAKER: I can certainly take those comments under advisement.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 763]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, we are on day 12 of the sitting of the Legislature - 12 days of broken promises by the government opposite. What brought this petition before the House is the headline that read last year, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises," which we know has been broken every day since. The prayer reads:

"We, the residents of Cumberland County implore that Premier Darrell Dexter keep his word and build a correctional facility in Cumberland County!"

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by 58 people, bringing it to a total of 825, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition to the Legislature, the heading on it is, Say No to Tax Increases. The operative clause reads:

"We, the undersigned, petition the Legislature to preserve businesses and jobs by NOT increasing taxes. Balance the books over the medium term by rolling back the massive spending increases of recent years."

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by 11 individuals, mainly the owner, operator and employees of Burke Brothers general contracting in River Bourgeois, Richmond County, and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

[2:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Volunteerism.

[Page 764]

RESOLUTION NO. 344

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas more than 70 volunteers were recognized on April 12th at the 36th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards; and

Whereas each year Recreation Nova Scotia and the Volunteerism division of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection recognize these volunteers and the 500,000 other Nova Scotians who generously give of their time, skills, and experience to improve the lives of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas volunteers are an integral part of the social and economic fabric of Nova Scotia, providing essential services such as emergency response, coaching and sport leadership, educational support, mentoring, and countless other services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all nominees and recipients of the 36th Annual Provincial Volunteer Awards, acknowledge the hard work, dedication, and good will that Nova Scotian volunteers give every day, and encourage more volunteerism across our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 345

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 765]

Whereas Acadian Seaplants Limited, Cornwallis division, recently received the inaugural Lieutenant Governor's Persons with Disabilities Employer Partnership Award; and

Whereas the company was given the provincial business award for recognizing the value of employing persons with disabilities and its commitment to youth, middle-aged persons with disabilities, and the community; and

Whereas the award was accepted by Louis Deveau, chairman and founder of Acadian Seaplants Limited, who also serves as a volunteer member of the Immigration Advisory Council;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate management and staff of Acadian Seaplants Limited for their commitment to accommodating persons with disabilities in the workforce.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 346

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, behalf of the honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas several African Nova Scotian organizations are celebrating milestone anniversaries; and

Whereas the Black Educators Association is celebrating 40 years, the Indigenous Black and Mi'kmaq Program at Dalhousie University Schulich School of Law is celebrating 20 years, and the Halifax Community YMCA is celebrating 60 years; and

[Page 766]

Whereas all these groups have one thing in common, and that is in assisting and supporting the African Nova Scotian community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating these groups on their milestones and recognizing the members who have tirelessly served and continue to serve the African Nova Scotian communities through these organizations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 347

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Sergeant Mark Gallagher, former spokesman for the Nova Scotia RCMP, was volunteering with the United Nations in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, when a devastating earthquake struck the Caribbean country on January 12th; and

Whereas Sergeant Gallagher, a husband and father of two grown children, was killed when his apartment building in Port-au-Prince was destroyed; and

Whereas Sergeant Gallagher was viewed by all who knew him as a pleasant, caring, and generous individual and a true humanitarian who always put the needs of others before himself, which is why he volunteered with the United Nations to train police officers in Haiti;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature extend our deepest sympathy to the friends and family of the late Sergeant Gallagher and pay tribute to the officer's memory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 767]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[A moment of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 348

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Xstrata Coal has made significant investments to bring coal mining jobs back to Cape Breton Island in a safe working environment and the necessary economic viability; and

Whereas Xstrata has worked continuously with the Government of Nova Scotia, even through some difficult times for world coal prices, to keep its developing operation in Donkin viable; and

Whereas Xstrata has just awarded a contract to Municipal Ready-Mix to build a 2.2 kilometre access road to the Donkin mine site at a cost of over $1 million;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the significant investment and dedication to the Donkin mine project demonstrated by Xstrata Coal and their junior partner from Nova Scotia, Erdene Resources, even in the face of adverse economic conditions, creating much-needed and good jobs in Cape Breton.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 768]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 349

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Black Business Initiative has been creating a dynamic presence within the Nova Scotia business community for close to 15 years; and

Whereas one of its key components is the Business is Jammin' youth program with a mission that reads: where innovative ideas meet potential for successful development in African Nova Scotian youth; and

Whereas this provincial charitable initiative focuses on motivating youth through education, entrepreneurship, and personal development programs to instill confidence in business skills;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the BBI in its Business is Jammin' program as it celebrates its 10th Anniversary, and wish it future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

[Page 769]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the members' attention to the west gallery where we're joined today by Louise Gillis who is from Sydney, Nova Scotia. Louise is the second vice-president of the Canadian Council of the Blind, which is a national organization, and she's also vice-president of our Nova Scotia Division of that council. It's interesting to note that both of those councils, in order to be on the executive, you have to be somebody with vision loss, and Louise has been active and involved for the last 13 years since she lost her eyesight.

I would like to ask the House to welcome Louise and perhaps ask her to rise and receive our warm welcome. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness on an introduction.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like the members to direct their attention to the west gallery to recognize Chad Bowie. Chad is the President of the Nova Scotia Young Progressive Conservatives and he represents the future of good governance in this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland North on an introduction.

MR. BRIAN SKABAR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring everyone's attention to the west gallery where I'd like to introduce Mr. John Eaton, grandson of Cyrus Eaton, industrialist, philanthropist, internationally recognized for his efforts on world peace and a son of Pugwash. John, although now a resident of California, maintains a Nova Scotia connection as Chair of the Pugwash Park Commission, including the Thinkers' Lodge.

In his own right, John is noted for his involvement in the first joint venture between China and the United States corporation - The Great Wall Sheraton Hotel Beijing. John, if you would please stand. (Applause)

Along with John is Mr. Gerald Read, chairman of the board of CREDA, Cumberland Regional Economic Development Association, and municipal councillor for Cumberland County. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome all our guests here this afternoon and hope they enjoy the proceedings of the House.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 140 of the Revised Statutes of 1998. The Elections Act. (Mr. Chuck Porter)

[Page 770]

Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2002. The Fire Safety Act. (Hon. Murray Scott)

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act. (Hon. Ramona Jennex)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 350

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Wednesday, April 14, 2010, is Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day; and

Whereas more than 1,500 schools and countless other workplaces and organizations take part in this day in more than 25 countries around the world; and

Whereas the origins of Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day was right here in Nova Scotia at Central Kings Rural High School;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House add their support to this international campaign, which brings awareness to the need of the elimination of bullying, and commend all those who participate in today's events.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried. (Applause)

[2:30 p.m.]

[Page 771]

The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, before I read the resolution, could I have permission to do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery opposite, I would like to introduce some folks who we may have seen outside earlier today: Angela MacLean, Janet Tattrie, Betty Murray and Ted Crockett. Three of them are stewards of Local 721, the International Union of Operating Engineers, and they are here to send a message to this government and to hear questions in Question Period. So I would like the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 351

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in September 2007 two Kings Central High School students, Travis Price and David Shepherd, stood up for a fellow student who had been bullied for wearing pink; and

Whereas their efforts to stand up against bullying caught worldwide attention and generated momentum for this important cause; and

Whereas April 14, 2010, is Anti-Bullying Day across Canada and events are happening coast to coast in our communities and in our schools;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize the significance of this movement started by these two young Nova Scotia boys and reaffirm their commitment to eliminating bullying in our society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and I would ask that if this resolution is passed, that we would have an item delivered to each member of the House to wear in support of this important day.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly. There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

[Page 772]

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 352

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas bullying continues to be a major problem affecting the safety of children everywhere; and

Whereas in response to the bullying of a Central Kings Rural High School student in 2007, two of his school mates, David Shepherd and Travis Price, organized a Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day; and

Whereas the action of Mr. Shepherd and Mr. Price went viral, garnering international attention and culminated in the creation of an annual Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Pink Shirt Anti-Bullying Day and the efforts of those who help create an environment of respect that will make our schools, streets and communities safer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[Page 773]

RESOLUTION NO. 353

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the winners of the 2010 Robert Merritt Awards, honouring the best in Nova Scotia theatre, were announced in a ceremony at Alderney Landing Theatre in Dartmouth on Monday, March 29th; and

Whereas Bill Wood, well known for his work with the comedy group Picnicface, received the award for best supporting actor for his role as Hermann in East of Berlin, produced by 2b theatre; and

Whereas Will Perkins was the winner of the award for lighting design, also for work on 2b's East of Berlin;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Bill Wood, Will Perkins, 2b theatre, and the entire theatrical community of Nova Scotia for their ongoing and much appreciated contributions to the cultural life of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 354

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Wendy Lill is a Canadian-renowned playwright and writer and former NDP MP; and

[Page 774]

Whereas her radio and podcast drama series Backbencher will be heard throughout North America during April and May 2010 through CBC Radio One and Sirius 137; and

Whereas this story reflects the ethical, physical and emotional challenges of Nellie Gordon, a Nova Scotian paramedic who unexpectedly wins a seat in Parliament;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Wendy Lill for her CBC drama series Backbenchers, recognize her incredible creative talent and hard work, and thank her and CBC for another quality Nova Scotian production.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 355

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas November 15, 2009, marked the final run for Captain Terry Clothier on the William G. Ernst, the ferry that connects Tancook Island with Chester; and

Whereas Mr. Clothier served on the boat for 35 years and is the second generation captain, having taken over from his father, Mr. James Clothier; and

Whereas Mr. Terry Clothier is continuing with his love of the water by starting a new career with Metro Transit in the Halifax-Dartmouth ferry system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Clothier on his dedication to his community and wish him well in his new ventures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 775]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 356

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals in eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings Celebration on Wednesday, March 10th, at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas Casa Bella Gifts of Wolfville was awarded the prize for Best Gift Shop;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and staff of Casa Bella Gifts for their achievement in being named as the Best of Kings in 2010.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 357

[Page 776]

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Shelburne resident Dick Jensen was named Nova Scotia Volunteer of the Year by the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations at the AGM and conference in Moncton, New Brunswick, on September 16 to 18, 2009; and

Whereas Dick Jensen has volunteered his time by serving for 11 years on the Board of Directors for the Shelburne County CBDC; and

Whereas Dick Jensen is described as being a strong contributor to the CBDC's work in rural Atlantic Canada, as well as being community-minded and taking an active role in operations at the local level;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Shelburne resident Dick Jensen for being named Nova Scotia Volunteer of the Year by the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDC) at the AGM and conference in Moncton, New Brunswick, on September 16 to 18, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 358

MS. LENORE ZANN: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Glooscap Heritage Centre provides a rich environment for cultural preservation of the Mi'kmaq people; and

[Page 777]

Whereas the history of the Mi'kmaq has been maintained through the art of oral history; and

Whereas the Glooscap Heritage Centre has been awarded a $10,000 grant from the Province of Nova Scotia for a series of workshops for elders of the Mi'kmaq community, to share their unique history and culture with the community through the traditional story circle;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Glooscap Heritage Centre and the elders of the Mi'kmaq community of Truro in receiving this funding to help preserve their traditions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 359

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the everyday running of a rural general store takes a lot of hard work, organization and perseverance and general stores are one of the cornerstones of many rural communities; and

Whereas the Mill Village General Store recently changed ownership, with the Queens Association for Supported Living becoming the proud owners, and will officially open their doors in August; and

Whereas the non-profit group, which supports people in the community with special needs, will be carrying many local food stuffs, selling their own Penny Lane products along with products from other non-profit groups around the province;

[Page 778]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize Queens Association for Supported Living for taking over the Mill Village General Store and wish them great success when the doors officially open in August.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 360

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Mrs. Toope's Grade 4 class at Tallahassee Community School in Eastern Passage worked very hard to raise money for the Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund; and

Whereas the class, along with parents and staff volunteers, held a "Cookies for Kids" cookie sale at recess and lunch in an effort to better the lives of the Haitian people devastated by the massive earthquake; and

Whereas they raised almost $600 the first day, then cookies were sold during the Lions bingo and the school's Family Literacy Day, and a total of $1,253.55 in funds were raised;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend Mrs. Toope's Grade 4 class at Tallahassee Community School in Eastern Passage for their hard work in raising $1,253.55 for the Red Cross Haitian Relief Fund.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

[Page 779]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 361

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Recycles Contest encourages participation in recycling and composting programs among Nova Scotian youth; and

Whereas the 2010 contest, which encouraged students to become "Waste Warriors" and help Nova Scotia reduce our solid waste, saw over 9,300 entries from 227 schools across the province; and

Whereas Margaret Michael, a Grade 12 student of Citadel High School, was the regional winner of the 10th Annual Nova Scotia Recycles Contest and received a scholarship of $1,500;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Margaret Michael on winning the 10th Annual Nova Scotia Recycles Contest and receiving a scholarship of $1,500 for her essay.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

[Page 780]

RESOLUTION NO. 362

MR. GARY RAMEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Wildwood Cafe in Bridgewater has been recognized by Progress Magazine to be one of the best places to dine in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the owners of the cafe, Mr. Aaron Brown and Ms. Maria Gallardo, use organic ingredients purchased from local suppliers in the preparation of their delicious meals; and

Whereas the Wildwood Cafe has been a great addition to the business mix in the Town of Bridgewater and, in the wider context, is a perfect example of how a vibrant and high quality eating establishment can help grow and support the local economy;

Therefore be it resolved the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Aaron Brown and Maria Gallardo for their dedication, hard work and their success in obtaining this recognition from Progress Magazine and wish them continued success in the ensuing years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 363

MR. BRIAN SKABAR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the young people of Cumberland North are extraordinary; and

[Page 781]

Whereas 19-year-old Erin McSorley of Amherst recently showed just how extraordinary when she participated in a Habitat for Humanity build as part of ongoing relief efforts in Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina; and

Whereas our government has committed to ensuring that we highlight the best and brightest of what Nova Scotia has to offer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. McSorley on her dedication to the cause of helping victims of Hurricane Katrina and for being an excellent ambassador for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 364

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce (EKCC) is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations, and individuals in Eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings Celebration on Wednesday, March 10th at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa in Kentville was awarded the prize for Best Hair Salon and Barber;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the management and staff of Beleaf Aveda Concept Salon & Spa, Kentville, for their achievement for being named Best

[Page 782]

of Kings in 2010 and acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the Kings County community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 365

MS. PAM BIRDSALL: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Canadian Community Newspapers Association has announced the winners in its Better Newspapers Competition, with Lighthouse Publishing of Lunenburg County taking seven awards to be awarded in Toronto on May 13th; and

Whereas reporter Paula Levy took top spot for Outstanding Reporter Initiative for her feature series A Reason to Belize, while reporter Robert Hirtle took second place for Best Historical Story for the third year in a row; and

Whereas the Bulletin team won first place for Best Newspaper Promotion for the third year running, as well as taking awards for Outstanding Community Service, Best Special Section, and General Excellence, as well as being nationally recognized for their community Web site, "southshorenow.ca";

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Lighthouse Publishing staff for their national recognition by the Canadian Community Newspapers Association and commend Lighthouse Publishing staff on their hard work and commitment to community reporting.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 783]

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 366

MR. JIM BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Guysborough County Kids First, in partnership with the recreation departments of the Town of Mulgrave and the Municipality of the District of St. Mary's, was one of eight recipients awarded a national project called Moms Making the Move; and

Whereas the program is sponsored by the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity; and

Whereas the program will allow for the development and implementation of physical activity and/or sports programs for mothers who will participate in activities such as zumba, water aerobics, and weight training while their children are being engaged in child-based programs provided by Kids First;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates Guysborough County Kids First and their partners on being awarded one of the eight national projects, Moms Making the Move, and wish them the very best as they implement this national program in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 784]

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 367

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas January 1, 2010, marked the beginning of the 250th Anniversary celebrations of the community of Chester Basin, with the launch of a cancelled stamp representing the community; and

Whereas Glenda Redden, chairperson of the 250th Anniversary Committee, and her committee have worked many hours and years to make this dream a reality; and

Whereas each month of the year 2010, the community will hold a special celebration to recognize the heritage of Chester Basin;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ms. Glenda Redden and her community on this celebration and hard work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 368

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 785]

Whereas John Wall Barger is a poet and writer who lives in the north end of Halifax; and

Whereas John Wall Barger's first poetry collection, Pain-Proof Men, was published by Palimpsest Press in the Fall of 2009; and

Whereas many of the poems in Pain-Proof Men evoke images and memories of Halifax, and particularly of the north end of Halifax, both in their closely observed descriptions of people and locations and in titles such as "Cousin's Diner" and "Storm Night at Gus' Pub";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate John Wall Barger on the publication of Pain-Proof Men and express their appreciation of his accomplishments as part of the current flowering of literary, artistic and musical expression in Halifax's North End.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 369

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Shag Harbour resident Ena Nickerson has once again been a driving force behind the success of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk For A Cause, on September 25, 2009; and

Whereas Ena Nickerson, alongside her niece Shelley d'Eon, was a founding member of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society, which was initiated in 2004 to help cancer

[Page 786]

patients living in the Municipality of Barrington and the Town of Clark's Harbour financially, emotionally and spiritually; and

Whereas the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society has raised more than $250,000 since its inception, providing financial assistance of up to $1,000 to 94 local cancer patients to date, as well as other support services and lifelines;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly applaud Shag Harbour resident Ena Nickerson for once again being a driving force behind the success of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk For A Cause, on September 25, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture on an introduction.

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery where I'd like to introduce a friend and a constituent with the International Union of Operating Engineers, from Urbania in Hants County, in Hants East, Mr. Don Dixon. I'd like the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 370

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Nova Scotia Salmon Association has awarded the Affiliate of the Year award to one of their 25 affiliate associations from across the province; and

Whereas the successful association has worked around repopulating the Medway River by working with the schools in the area in the Fish Friends project; and

[Page 787]

Whereas the association is also working towards the liming of the Medway River;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize the Medway River Salmon Association for the award of Affiliate of the Year from the Nova Scotia Salmon Association at their annual general meeting and on their work with the schools and their work with the liming of the Medway River.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 371

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas last September, community groups across Canada participated in the Toronto Dominion Great Canadian Shoreline Cleanup through efforts to clean up their local shoreline to beautify and protect their environment; and

Whereas the 2nd Eastern Passage Scouts, leaders and volunteers in the Eastern Passage area focused their efforts on cleaning up McCormacks Beach while recording the types of garbage they found for educational purposes; and

Whereas Leader Dan Godin, Scouts Devin Godin, Kyle Walsh, Riley Courigan, Nathaniel Cennerini, Tyler Manthorne, and parent volunteers Denise Walsh and Tanya Manthorne, participated in the cleanup at McCormacks Beach;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the 2nd Eastern Passage Scouts, leader and volunteers for participating in the Toronto Dominion Great Shoreline Cleanup on September 26, 2009, and encourage their efforts to protect our beautiful Nova Scotia environment.

[Page 788]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 372

MR. GARY RAMEY: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Lunenburg-Queens Parkinson's Support Group and the Kiwanis Club of Bluenose Golden K have seen over the years a need to collaborate to raise money in support of those suffering from Parkinson's; and

Whereas together they sponsored the annual "Porridge for Parkinson's" fundraiser, which was held on March 27th in Bridgewater; and

Whereas this well-attended and successful event contributed much-needed funds to aid in fighting this debilitating disease;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly acknowledge the hard work expended by the Parkinson's Support Group and the Kiwanis Club of Bluenose Golden "K" to raise funds in support of Parkinson's research and programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 789]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 373

MR. BRIAN SKABAR: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas our government is committed to projects that make services more accessible to seniors in our communities; and

Whereas Amherst's Rotary Centennial Park will undergo landscaping and activity-related transformations with the help of a $5,000 Age Friendly Communities Grant that was awarded to the Town of Amherst; and

Whereas the funding will help to construct walking paths, install game tables, provide outdoor exercise units and upgrade landscaping at this community park;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Town of Amherst on receiving an Age Friendly Communities Grant so they may continue to upgrade and improve upon the Amherst Rotary Centennial Park.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 374

MR. JIM MORTON: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 790]

Whereas the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce, EKCC, is the chief advocacy group for more than 300 businesses, organizations and individuals in eastern Kings County; and

Whereas the EKCC held its annual Best of Kings Celebrations on Wednesday, March 10th at the Old Orchard Inn in Greenwich; and

Whereas Pulsifers Flowers & Foliage was awarded the prize for Best Florist;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the management and staff of Pulsifers Flowers & Foliage for their achievement of being named the Best of Kings in 2010, and acknowledge their exemplary contributions to the Kings County community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[3:00 p.m.]

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 375

MS. PAM BIRDSALL : Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the NDP Government is committed to giving seniors options to allow them to stay in their homes and communities longer; and

Whereas Second Story Women's Centre works to enhance women's lives by providing services of education designed to promote personal growth, awareness and social change; and

[Page 791]

Whereas Second Story Women's Centre applied for and received funding through the Positive Aging Fund grant;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Second Story Women's Centre on receiving the Positive Aging Fund grant so they may continue to serve people in Lunenburg County and keep seniors active in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 376

MR. JIM BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotia's NDP Government is committed to making communities strong; and

Whereas the Eastern Communities Youth Association is a non-profit organization that celebrated its 10th Anniversary of incorporation in 2009; and

Whereas the Eastern Communities Youth Association is using the funding received from the Lighthouses Program to create an anti-drug strategy for eastern Guysborough County by increasing family events, and encouraging and rewarding positive behaviour;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the Eastern Communities Youth Association on receiving funding from the Lighthouses Program to continue positive programming for the youth of eastern Guysborough County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request for waiver.

[Page 792]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 3:02 p.m. - we'll go until 4:32 p.m. - and just a reminder that no electronic equipment is to be on during Question Period and to direct all your questions and answers here through the Chair.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM.: BARRISTERS' SOC. FEES (HON. M. BAKER)

- TABLING EXPLAIN

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Last night after repeated requests, the Deputy Premier, on behalf of the Premier, tabled a document outlining how long taxpayers have been paying his Barristers' Society fees and how much they had shelled out. For the record: two partial years, two full years, to the tune of $9,761.54. But the Premier didn't stop there. The document tabled included the fees paid by former Justice Minister Michael Baker, a man who actually used his skills as a lawyer to perform his job and who is now deceased. I'm appalled at the decision of this Premier to table that information in the House. (Interruptions) So my question to the Premier is, could the Premier explain the relevance of tabling that information about a former member of the House, who I should point out is no longer able to defend himself?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that was the information that was provided to me to provide to the member. I think that, of course, the former member acted honourably and I don't really believe he had anything to defend.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier has suggested several times in this House that he was not the only member to have his Barristers' Society fees paid. Now the Premier is trying to compare his behaviour to that of a former Justice Minister. So my question to the Premier is, who advised you to try to shield yourself from criticism by impugning the reputation of a former member of this House who is now deceased?

[Page 793]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, do you know something, it's just so regrettable that the Leader of the Opposition would take the opportunity to try to (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just think it's unfortunate. The former Minister of Justice, the former Minister of Finance was a friend of mine and he was a friend of this House. He acted at all times honourably, in my opinion, including when he extended that benefit to the Leader of the Opposition's office. It was designed to be able to support the people in the constituency who had a real need for services that he knew could be provided. I don't think there was anything that needs to be defended or was any reputation impugned.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I have asked the Premier repeatedly to table the information pertaining to the Premier and how long Nova Scotia taxpayers have been paying his Barristers' Society fees. No one on this side of the House has questioned the former minister's integrity. What the Premier did and what his staff has done by tabling that information is tried to shield himself from what the wrath of Nova Scotians - Nova Scotians have seen this to be an inappropriate expense - and what he has attempted to do is shield the criticism that Nova Scotians are directing at him by using that of a deceased member of this House.

My question through the Speaker is, will you do the responsible thing and the right thing and pay the money back to the people of this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the allowance that was extended was used in my office for the purposes of providing services to the people of my constituency. He knows (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: What the Leader of the Official Opposition knows (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: What the Leader of the Official Opposition knows and what is clear from the document that I tabled was that it was the practice of the former government for more than a decade, that it was started under the Hamm Government.(Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

TOWNSVIEW ESTATES: RESIDENT CARE WORKERS

- PAY EQUITY

[Page 794]

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Workers at Townsview Estates, like all workers - some of them are here today - want fair treatment. Since June 2009, when an arbitrator ruled that the resident care workers were performing duties equivalent to higher paid positions, the government has done nothing to rectify the situation. My question through the Speaker is, why has your government failed to correct this wrong?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I've had an opportunity to review the decision that was made by the arbitrator. I want the workers here to know that we very much appreciate and value the work that they do. What we do through the Department of Health is to fund the employer; it is up to the employer to meet the requirements of the collective agreement.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the International Union of Operating Engineers, now Local 721, explained in a letter to me, which I will table today, that the Deputy Minister of Health had told the union: " . . . that if we ceased the phone calls and letter writing and provided the Deputy with an argument that would protect government against having to pay all RCW's across the province the same increase, he would fix the problem."

These residential care workers perform the same tasks and have the same responsibilities as workers in higher paid classifications. My question to the Premier is, when will this government agree to pay equity for the residential care workers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I already answered that question. The reality is that we fund the employer. As I've said again, we absolutely respect and appreciate the work that is being done but we are also charged with the responsibility of ensuring that we provide the funds to the employer, which they use for the purposes of satisfying the requirements of the collective agreement.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, in a letter dated April 1st, the Deputy Minister of Health, speaking about a standards-for-care review process writes: " . . . we . . . will only be able to commence the process when we can secure funding for potential increases in costs."

My final supplementary is, has the Minister of Health provided the funding necessary to begin the review and to resolve the pay equity issues for the workers at Townsview Estate?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, workers in residential care facilities are not required to be trained as CCAs and the qualifications of staff in these facilities and the standards of care is something that my department does determine. It is something that we will review, Mr. Speaker, when we are in a position to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

LWD - TOWNSVIEW ESTATES: RESIDENT CARE WORKERS

[Page 795]

- ARBITRATION DECISION

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. It is our understanding that an arbitration decision involving 19 resident care workers at Townsview Estates and their union, the IUOE Local 968, now Local 721, has been sitting on the desk of the Minister of Health since last June. The arbitrator agreed that a residential care worker at Townsview was performing the same duties and responsibilities as a nursing assistant at Northwood. This ruling would put into effect a clause in the workers' contract that should have resulted in a rate adjusted increase of $2.91 per hour per worker.

My question to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is, why has the government failed to deliver on an increase that has been legally determined to be rightfully theirs?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, because this is part of the arbitration process, I'm not in a position to be able to comment on the details.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, this is not part of the process, it has been ruled on, so I fail to understand - why this very government, if they were sitting on this side of the House right now, they would be pounding on their desks demanding that those workers get the money that is due.

These operating engineers, this is a group of women who have proven they perform duties that are equivalent to a different classification of workers in other facilities and that makes them unique. One has to wonder if this had been any other union, whether or not those individuals would have had to join us here today to demand that they get the money that an arbitrator has already determined is rightfully theirs.

My question to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is, why is your government so determined not to provide the necessary resources to Townsview Estates to ensure these women receive their pay adjustment?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, my government certainly appreciates that this is a very important issue for these workers, and I think I could commit, on behalf of all the relevant departments, to sit down with them and discuss what information is public information with them - certainly this is not the place nor the time to get into negotiation and discussion of those details.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my, how things change. My final question is to the Minister of Health, and here is the irony - these women who provide hands-on care actually earn less money than the housekeeping aides and the cooks at Townsview Estates due to a review of their work conducted in the long-term care sector - and this statement is not meant

[Page 796]

to diminish the work of others but to make the point that these 19 women finally need to be recognized. These workers have already proven, and won, an arbitration case.

My final question for the Minister of Health is, when will these 19 women finally be recognized by this minister as deserving of the increase awarded to them in arbitration 10 months ago?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my department and I, we are very much aware of the excellent work done at Townsview Estates by these workers, these 19 residential workers, and in addition the residential workers in 30 other residential facilities around the province. As I indicated, my department is prepared to undertake a review, when we are able to do a review, with respect to the qualifications and the standards in residential care.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

HEALTH: LUCENTIS - FUNDING

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Health Minister, more than any other member of Cabinet, has been charged with a tremendous responsibility - that of curbing the spiraling costs of health care. She has the challenge of ensuring that the investments made today will yield savings in the health care system tomorrow. These investments in health must be strategic, but we should not forget that they should also ensure that patients do not experience a negative health outcome as a result of the government doing nothing.

My question for the Health Minister is, what is preventing the Health Minister from funding Lucentis? Is it the fact you can save money, or is it the fact that you don't regard someone's eyesight as a strategic investment?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, our government funds about $240 million in drugs through the Pharmacare programs. This is in spite of the fact that today the revenue of the province has literally fallen by hundreds of millions of dollars, as the honourable member, I know, has acknowledged.

That scenario has meant that, particularly for numerous new drugs that are coming onto the market, we have to make some very tough choices. One of the things this government is committed to do through our Drug Management Policy Unit is to work very, very hard to make sure that drugs are affordable for Nova Scotians as we go forward in very challenging financial times.

[Page 797]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, this is the government that, when in Opposition, spoke out for people who needed government support. But today, things are different. When they're in a position to do something, they are silent. Last week the minister spoke in this House about the cost of funding Lucentis, but she failed to mention the savings that are also attached to that funding.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, when patients have wet macular degeneration, they lose their sight. It will never come back unless the patient has access to Lucentis. Without treatment, the inevitable blindness will have a crushing impact on a person's quality of life. My question for the Minister of Health is, why is it acceptable for more than 90 per cent of Canadians to have access to Lucentis while Nova Scotians do not have access to this treatment?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my earlier response, there are many, many new drugs coming onto the market all the time that offer a better treatment than the last generation of drugs for similar kinds of illnesses and conditions. We weigh very carefully which drugs we are able to afford. To be able to get the best, most affordable drugs into the hands of the province we are now undertaking several initiatives through a new Drug Management Policy Unit, and we will see a reduction in drug costs for Nova Scotians with savings to the taxpayers in years to come.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, timing is of the essence in this issue. Lucentis can save people's eyesight and it can reverse some of the loss they've already experienced. Today I introduced Louise Gillis from Sydney, Nova Scotia, in the gallery. I explained to the members that she is associated with the Canadian Council of the Blind. My question to the minister is, will the minister address Ms. Gillis today and explain why it is acceptable for Nova Scotians to continue to lose their sight as a result of the Dexter Government's failure to fund Lucentis?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I would be happy to meet with Ms. Gillis following Question Period to have a discussion about this very important matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH: ER CLOSURES - EXPLAIN

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question today through you is, again, to the Minister of Health. During the last election campaign, the NDP promised to keep all emergency rooms open all the time. Last April the Premier introduced an Act to keep hospital emergency rooms open, and in June the member for Shelburne even stated the NDP had a plan to ensure there is emergency room care, with appropriate levels of staffing,

[Page 798]

close to home for all Nova Scotians. So my question to the minister is, if the NDP tabled legislation and had a plan for ERs, then why are we still seeing hundreds of hours of closures in some ERs around Nova Scotia?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member fully well knows, the problem in emergency departments didn't occur overnight and it won't be solved overnight. That's why we hired a very capable emergency room physician, Dr. John Ross, whose interim report has been released and we will be moving forward when Dr. Ross makes his final report. In the meantime there are a number of measures, in the budget that is here in front of us, designed to realize real improvements, both short- and long-term, in our emergency rooms.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, Pugwash, from July 1, 2009 to March 31st, has been closed 381 hours; Fishermen's in Lunenburg has been closed a grand total of 2,818 hours; Parrsboro, 648 hours in that same time period - and I'll table those when I'm done.

Nova Scotians elected your government based upon the pledge to keep ERs open 24/7 and that has not been accomplished yet. I'll use the Premier's question in a press release that he put out when he was Leader of the Official Opposition and it says, " Why doesn't the Minister of Health keep Emergency Rooms open when public health is such a priority?"

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure that I heard a question there, but I also didn't hear that we were able to reduce the amount of time that the Glace Bay emergency room was closed by about 50 per cent.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, like I said, thousands of hours since this NDP Government took power. There has been no change. They said to Nova Scotians in the last election . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They had all the answers . . .

MR. D'ENTREMONT: They had all the answers, they had a plan, they would solve it immediately - and that has not happened. I can tell you, they're looking for a way now to start closing some of those emergency rooms.

The Ross report is essentially a reprint of the PHSOR, or the Provincial Health Services Operational Report. What do you hope that the Ross report will say to enable you to deliver on your promise of no emergency room closures?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I remind the honourable member that Dr. Ross, when asked if any emergency rooms should close, had a very succinct answer - and his answer was no.

[Page 799]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM. SOUTHWESTERN N.S.: TRANSPORTATION STUDY

- FAST-TRACKING

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Victoria Day weekend is just around the corner, the traditional start of tourism season in Nova Scotia, including southwestern Nova Scotia. It has now been four months since the Premier killed the subsidy to the ferry service between Yarmouth and Maine, and we are still waiting for a transportation study for the area to be released. A study that the Premier told this House he would fast-track in the wake of his bad decision to kill the subsidy with no plan for the area. So my question to the Premier is, what have you done to fast-track that study?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I actually said was that I would make representations to ACOA to see if that could be fast-tracked. In fact I made that comment in a scrum along with the Mayor of Yarmouth who, at that time, advised me that he was on the subcommittee of that study group and that he felt that it could be done. And of course, we made the appropriate representations to ACOA to ask whether that could be done.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, it's typical for the Premier to make a promise and then back away from it or point the finger at someone else. In this case the province has put money into the study and has three members in the group with the job of putting the report together. My question to the Premier is, what steps are you taking to have that report delivered, given how long the people of southwestern Nova Scotia have been waiting for help?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my understanding from the conversations we had with ACOA is that the study is available in draft form. I think it is being communicated already to the committee members, so we're hopeful of having it very soon.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier just alluded to - and he knows there is an interim report and a copy has been circulating through members of that community since early January - he knows how vital that information contained in that study is to the people of Yarmouth and surrounding areas. So again I'll ask the Premier, what have you done personally to expedite that study with your own representatives on the working group and what kind of pressure have you applied to the federal government to ensure that information is out soon?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we are in constant contact with the federal department, ACOA; we have set up Team West; we agreed to co-lead Team Southwest Nova Scotia; all of these are designed to address the issue in southwest Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to remind the Leader of the Opposition of the comments of the member for Clare who said in this House, " . . . everyone knows that the Cat

[Page 800]

ferry was not viable. That is not a revolutionary statement from government." And I will table that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

HEALTH - AUTISTIC CHILDREN: TRAINING PROG.

- LOTTERY DRAW

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Constituents of mine, Margaret and Shawn MacInnis at Upper Washabuck, Victoria County, have been wanting to get their autistic child into Pivotal Response Training. Nine families needed this training for their children, yet only three spots were vacant, so they held a draw. The nine names were placed into a hat and three winners were chosen.

Only because of a recent cancellation have the MacInnis' been fortunate enough to have their son enrolled in the program. Madam Minister, clearly you must see something wrong with this picture and today I'm asking you, how are you going to remedy it so that all autistic children, and their parents, needing specialized training, will not suffer from what is essentially a lottery draw?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for bringing that question to the House. As all members of this House no doubt are aware, the EIBI therapy that is available to young children with autism is not a program that was established to be able to accommodate all of the children who require it. There is a waiting list; there has been a waiting list for some time.

When we ran in the election in 2009, our Party had a piece of our platform that indicated we would fully cover this program in the third year of our mandate. Mr. Speaker, I will ensure that, in fact, does occur, but for the moment the status quo is in place.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, through you, again, to the Minister of Health, John Ross MacInnis was first diagnosed with what was thought to be autism spectrum disorder in late April last year, before officially finding out on November 17th. His parents, and many other parents, are seeking answers from this government, which clearly stated in their election brochure last Spring that, "Each step in the NDP plan means more Nova Scotians can receive care when they need it . . ."

I am aware of four other children who lost their lottery draw, but how many other autistic children are still waiting? Madam Minister, how are you going to assist them?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we still have a wait list for that program. About 70 per cent of the children who require EIBI get access, but that does leave some children on a wait list.

[Page 801]

[3:30 p.m.]

As I indicated, our platform did make a commitment for a Kids First program that would see children with autism have access to this program in Year 3 of our mandate, and as I said, it is my commitment that we will fulfill that piece of our platform in Year 3.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, three years is a long time to wait if your child has autism. My final supplementary to the minister is, will the minister now assure me and all families dealing with this serious issue that their children will get the necessary expert help which will assist them in reaching their highest potential? Will the minister assure me and the parents out there that there will be no more lottery draws?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the honourable member was here in the Chamber throughout all of the 18 or so hours - or 100 hours, it seems - of Health estimates, but one of the things that we have done in the Department of Health is we have pushed money that we have been using in the department out into the districts, specifically the IWK, for programming around complex cases and autism. I don't know to what extent this will make a difference, but I'm hoping that having more funding closer to the service providers and receivers will, in fact, result in some improvement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

EDUC.: TUITION SUPPORT PROG. - EXTENSION

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. I am glad for the announcement for the Tuition Support Program which took place today. We know parents have been waiting a long time to find out whether this program will continue. My question to the minister is, is the program extended indefinitely?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased that the honourable member recognizes that today's announcement was a good-news story and answers a lot of questions and anxiety that some parents who are using the Tuition Support Program were facing. What we have decided as a government is that Tuition Support will recognize that it is a short-term intensive intervention, and after three years it will be expected that those students will transition back to the public school system, or depending on their age and grade level, they may go into a post-secondary placement or even out to work.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, that wasn't quite the question that I asked. I was asking whether the program is going to go on indefinitely or whether the program itself will be cut at some point. Today's announcement on TSP limits the program to three years, with a possible fourth transition year if the child qualifies. Mr. Speaker, TSP is not a choice. We are not talking about parents choosing to send their children to a private school over the public system. The public school system cannot meet the needs of these children at this time - it is

[Page 802]

a last resort. The TSP is a last resort, and as one parent said today, removing service from a child is like yanking a ramp from a student in a wheelchair. So my question is, why is the minister limiting families who may have further need for the program?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I believe most people in this Chamber recognize that tuition support is just one of many options available to students and families with special needs in this province - most of them, if not all, but tuition support provided through the public school system. Originally, this program - I shouldn't say "originally." This program was always intended to be a short-term intensive intervention, originally for two years. We've expanded that to three years with the possibility of fourth year if circumstances are exceptional. Every year, of that three years, it's intended that the designated special education private school will work with the school board and the department to enable a transfer back to the public school system.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, it's clear the government is trying to limit the Tuition Support Program. It's very hard for parents to find out about the program and to get the necessary assessment for their children to access it. In fact, we've had previous staff from the Department of Education say, I didn't want to advertise the competition. So I'm just wondering what plans does the government have to publicize the program now that it's permanent?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, all these programs are listed on the Department of Education Web site. Certainly we did receive some concerns that the application process could be simplified and we're going to look into that. I think the key message that comes out of today's announcement is that we listen to parents, we listen to educators, and we have a healthy balance between investing public money in the public school system for the majority of students, yet allowing this option for the few families who feel that that is necessary for the best interests of their children.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

TOWNSVIEW ESTATES - EMPLOYEES: MIN. - MEET

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, Angela MacLean, Janet Tattrie, Ted Crockett and other members of Local 721 are here today. They are looking for answers. So my question to the Minister of Health is, is the minister prepared to meet with these folks before they leave the House today?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, certainly I'm more than happy to do that. In terms of the time frame, it could be a bit of a juggle, if they're prepared to stay around. I understand I'm up in debate on a bill after Question Period.

[Page 803]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I understand that the minister may be delayed so my question would be to the Premier. If the minister is delayed, is the Premier prepared to meet with them immediately after Question Period?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the most appropriate person for them to meet with would be the minister. I think the delay will be a short one and I'm sure they're prepared to wait.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, well, I guess I will go to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development because this is an issue. I want to read from a letter from the Department of Health, which is why I focused my question there, January 27th to the administrator at Townsview which says the Department of Health, " . . . will be increasing your funding to reflect the rates with the expectation that these increases will be forwarded to your staff."

So my question to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development is, why have they waited from January and are still waiting without this increase?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I don't have those details. I would certainly be prepared to get my staff, if appropriate, to meet with the people who are here today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

NAT. RES.: SHUBENDACADIE CANAL COMMN.

- BUS. PLAN REQUEST

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources and, you know, it took a question from me in estimates for the Shubenacadie Canal Commission to learn, while they were sitting there, that they would be denied funding to trigger $1 million from other levels of government. I would add this is on top of the fact the department in the past couple of years also turned down a request for $150,000 which would have triggered equal amounts from rural Nova Scotia municipalities and ACOA and which would have created rural Nova Scotia jobs which have now been lost.

It seems his department has decided that those who act as caretakers of the Shubenacadie waterway - which incidentally provides drinking water to East Hants, irrigation for farmers, active transportation routes, flood control, and businesses - is not important despite the fact that the commission's record shows it has turned every dollar in capital money from the province into $3 to $9, and despite the fact they have a staff person on that commission.

My question for the minister is, why did his department encourage the commission to expend their limited funds to produce this business plan, which I will table, if they weren't going to work with them to see it implemented?

[Page 804]

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, maybe when the "younger" member is an older member, he'll get his facts straight. (Interruptions) The $1.5 million he refers to - actually HRM has not made any commitment on the $500,000 . They'll make a decision on May 2nd or May 3rd.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, since the minister can't get his facts right maybe he should resign, because at a recent council meeting, council, in fact, passed the approval of that monies contingent on the funding from the Province of Nova Scotia - and that is in the record of the minutes of Halifax Regional Council.

The fact of the matter is, yesterday in Question Period (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. There is too much chatter in the Chamber. The member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is, yesterday in Question Period the Premier suggested that the commission had never filed an application and that's maybe why they didn't get the money. Well, the fact is this is a provincial commission that since its institution, in 1986, has never had to file applications for capital funds because it was part of the department's business plan. The question here is - as the minister met with the Shubenacadie Canal Commission in the Fall and again in March and the Premier himself sat down with the chairman of the commission during the Fall session of the Legislature, and both times this was brought up and neither time did either one of these individuals suggest they should file an application . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. YOUNGER: My question for the Premier is, do you think it's reasonable that neither you nor your minister suggested to the commission they should file an application to get the money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, my opinion is a fairly straightforward one - if someone wants to get money through a program of government, they should apply for it.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my opinion is quite simple - the fact is when the minister sat down, and the Premier sat down with them, maybe they should have said that since it's a provincial agency that has never had to apply for capital funding before and he knows that.

The fact of the matter is the commission is required under provincial legislation, that I will table now, to meet certain obligations for the Province of Nova Scotia, yet they have to be funded to do that. I will also table the minutes from estimates the other day where the

[Page 805]

minister suggested it will be three to four years at least before they get any more money. My question for the Premier is, is the Premier's message to the volunteers of the Shubenacadie Canal Commission that they should pack up and go home since his minister says there will be no funding until the spending spree before the next election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, in fact, the Shubenacadie Canal Commission has been around for a long time. I served on Dartmouth City Council and am well aware of the work they do; I am also well aware that it is very valuable work to the community of Dartmouth - in fact very valuable work for the province.

The reality is that we are in very difficult financial times, and the member knows that. He knows we are trying to balance all of the program demands that exist in government, in health, in education, and in heritage and culture. We're trying to balance those and we're doing so in a reasonable way.

We are continuing with the operational funding for the Shubenacadie Canal Commission; he knows that. We're going to continue to try to address the questions associated with capital funding in a reasonable way, but we do have to balance them because we need to get the finances of the province back in order and we do have to live within our means.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH - LUCENTIS: SENIORS' PHARMACARE PROG.

- COVERAGE INCLUDE

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Many Nova Scotia seniors struggle with age-related macular degeneration, which is the leading cause of blindness in Canada. We all recognize that treating seniors with respect and dignity will allow them to stay in their homes and have a higher quality of life.

The drug Lucentis does help stay the progress of age-related macular degeneration. My question to the minister is, are you prepared to make Lucentis a drug covered by the Seniors' Pharmacare Program?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I've said a couple of times now, the government does fund our Pharmacare Programs to the tune of $240 million. There are new drugs that are coming forward all the time that we have to examine within the context of our ability to pay for these drugs and sustain those payments on a go-forward basis.

[Page 806]

Lucentis is not included in this year's budget and we are setting up a drug management policy unit designed to undertake a number of initiatives, which will see more affordable drugs for Nova Scotians at the end of the day, Mr. Speaker.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP campaigned over the last number of years on a promise to help seniors and that everything would be a utopia promised land under the NDP Government for Nova Scotia seniors. We're seeing more broken promises and seniors are left wanting - not waiting, but wanting.

Lalia Harvey of Three Mile Plains, who is in need of Lucentis but has been told that the drug is not covered in the Seniors' Pharmacare, is on a fixed income and her vision is deteriorating, Mr. Speaker. My question to the minister is, what will the minister do to help people like Ms. Harvey, who are facing a frightening prospect of losing their sight, today, not after years of committees meeting and trying to decide what is the right thing to do?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that member is a member of a former government that had hundreds of millions of dollars more in revenue, annually, than we have to work with and that government didn't include Lucentis on the formulary.

Mr. Speaker, what we are doing is we are setting up a drug management policy unit designed to realize some initiatives that will result in more affordable drugs for Nova Scotians, and we recognize we see many new drugs coming forward all the time with catastrophic drug costs that need to be managed.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the NDP, yes, have been in government now for nine months or so. Part of that minister's duties, as I am sure she knows, is to review programs and policies to see if they are meeting the needs of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, they are not. We have an aging population that is only going to grow and grow farther, quicker. The costs for seniors who do not receive this drug is purely a financial hardship, $1,000 per treatment every six weeks is the cost to this fine lady. Will the minister do the honourable thing and add Lucentis to the list of those drugs covered by the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program? One thousand dollars every six weeks - this lady won't be able to eat pretty soon.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my information is that Lucentis costs $2,000 per injection. I also have been told that the packaging of Lucentis is such that when it is opened, there's a significant amount of wastage in each unit, so we also end up paying for a fair proportion of the drug that is never usable for anyone.

However, having said that, Mr. Speaker, Lucentis, like many other new drugs that are coming forward, are very useful treatments for people with particular kinds of conditions. We want to ensure that people are able to have access to these treatments but we have to be

[Page 807]

able to do it in a way that is sustainable and that's why we are setting up the drug management policy unit.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV. - INCOME ASSISTANCE: TAX INCREASE

- EFFECT

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community Services. Currently a single, abled individual who is in receipt of Income Assistance exists on a monthly allowance of $300 for shelter and a personal allowance of $214. My question today to the minister is, how much more income will that individual see on a monthly basis in light of the new tax increase coming?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, we're presently in Budget Estimates, and that's a budget question. I invite the honourable member to ask me that question during estimates. Thank you.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, I'll go to another question. The shelter allowance for a single, able-bodied individual is currently $300. It hasn't been increased since 2006, by the Progressive Conservative Government. I would like to ask a simple question of the minister. In her opinion, where in Nova Scotia can an individual, able-bodied, looking for employment and receiving Income Assistance, find housing on $300 per month?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, where they can find housing - they can come to us. Every case is on an individual matter, and so that's why it's important to encourage people to speak with us, and we will work with them and we are working diligently toward our housing. We will be investing $128 million through the stimulus package for housing to increase those numbers, so that's why it's very important for individuals to talk with their case workers in order to go further with those types of issues. Thank you.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, quite simply, the housing money is not going to be enough. There are wait lists around this province that are extensive, so that individual out there trying to struggle and find a job is out of luck with that department.

My final question, the minister hopefully is aware of a policy - 5.7.29 - in and around income tax refunds. As the government is in hopes of helping the burdens of low income families, I would ask the minister, is she prepared to deal with this policy which states a 70 per cent income tax clawback in receipt of a refund? Is her government prepared to put that money back in Nova Scotians' pockets so that they can get on a Dexter bus and go for a ride instead of being run over by one?

[Page 808]

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, one of the important things is to be able to understand that within only the last nine months we are moving toward a different system for the Department of Community Services in Income Assistance. We don't want it to be a last resort. We want it to be a stepping stone, and that's why we've introduced programs like Target 100; that's why we've introduced the Affordable Living Tax Credit, where at the end of the day the individuals will actually be having $113 a year more in their pockets after they have to pay any increase that we feel would be in the HST.

It takes time and we've already made some fabulous decisions . . . (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: We've already made some very good decisions in that direction, and we will continue to do that, because we have a commitment to all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

AFFAIRES ACADIENNES - PÉRIODE DE QUESTIONS: MALs

- USAGE FRANÇAIS

M. le Président, hier pendant la période de questions, le ministre des Affaires acadiennes a répondu à une question de mon collègue de Clare en français. Le fait qu'il a répondu en français est la première fois qu'un ministre répond en français pendant la période de questions depuis les deux ans que je suis député. Le problème qui existe, est que vous, M. le Président, et la majorité des députés à cette chambre, ne comprennent pas le français. Alors, malheureusement, vous ne pouvez pas suivre les échanges qui prennent place en français. Alors ma question au ministre des Affaires acadiennes, est-ce que le ministre propose que les députés acadiens et francophones peuvent maintenant poser des questions dans leur langue maternelle pendant la période des questions?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for Acadian Affairs

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Merci M. le Président. Je me souviens très bien que le ministre Neil LeBlanc a répondu à une question dans la période de questions en français. En tout cas, je ne comprends pas la question parce que le député dit, est-ce acceptable de poser une question pendant la période de questions en français? Il vient de le faire.

MR. SAMSON: M. le Président, la communauté acadienne et francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse a fait plusieurs démarches pour protéger notre langue et notre culture avec la création de l'Université Sainte-Anne, le Conseil scolaire acadien provincial et la Loi sur les services en français. En même temps, cette Assemblée a reconnu l'importance de la communauté acadienne par reconnaître trois circonscriptions protégées pour les Acadiens

[Page 809]

et les Acadiennes, soit les circonscriptions d'Argyle, Clare et Richmond. Pendant que nous sommes permis de nous prononcer dans notre langue maternelle à l'Assemblée, il n'y a aucun système de traduction simultanée pour permettre à nos collègues anglophones de nous comprendre. Alors ma question est, est-ce que le ministre des Affaires acadiennes, qui est aussi le ministre des Finances, peut nous présenter les chiffres qu'il a reçu pour conclure que ça serait trop coûteux pour mettre en place un système de traduction simultanée dans notre Assemblée législative?

MR. STEELE: M. le Président, comme le député sait très bien, le processus de cette Assemblée est dans les mains de l'Assemblée. Ce n'est pas ma décision à moi de le faire. S'il veut présenter au Conseil de l'économie interne, une proposition qu'on étudie les coûts qui seraient impliqués dans une telle proposition je vais l'appuyer, parce que, pour, que, qu'il faut commencer les débats avec des chiffres qu'on peut vérifier. Nous ne sommes pas la première chambre à faire une telle chose. Nous pouvons étudier le Manitoba, le Nouveau-Brunswick et ainsi de suite et je serais moi-même très intéressé aux résultats de cette étude.

MR. SAMSON: Bien M. le Président, il y a un peu de problème avec ça, parce que le ministre des Affaires acadiennes parle des deux bords de sa bouche. Parce que hier soir à l'émission de SRC, le ministre des Affaires acadiennes a dit, et je répète, le ministre des Finances coupe court à cet espoir en évoquant le manque d'argent dans les coffres de la province. Nous ne sommes pas dans la position d'ajouter aux dépenses de l'Assemblée pour l'instant, indique le ministre des Finances. Alors M. le Président, aujourd'hui, le ministre nous dit qu'il est prêt à étudier cette question mais hier soir il s'est prononcé qu'il n'était pas paré d'augmenter les dépenses de l'Assemblée, qui me fait poser la question, c'est qui est responsable pour cette Assemblée? Vous le Président ou bien le ministre des Finances quand il s'est prononcé en disant ça? Alors, je demande la question encore, est-ce que le ministre des Finances, qui est le ministre des Affaires acadiennes est prêt de travailler avec tous les députés acadiens et anglophones pour mettre en place un système de traduction simultanée ici en Nouvelle-Écosse?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I know many members of the House won't understand what the honourable just said but they can see that he's very worked up about it.

Après une soirée de considération M. le Président, je crois que oui j'accepte que j'ai parlé un peu trop vite. Ce n'est pas ma décision à moi, c'est la décision de l'Assemblée mais il ne faut pas, il ne faut pas sous-estimer le coût d'une telle proposition. C'est une, faire la traduction simultanée, M., c'est une profession avec, qui requiert beaucoup de formation. Ça va coûter cher mais si on veut couper ailleurs dans les dépenses de l'Assemblée, c'est quelque chose que, avec mon chapeau de ministre des Finances, peut-être je peux appuyer.

MR. SPEAKER: Merci. The honourable member for Argyle

[Page 810]

HEALTH: SATELLITE DIALYSIS STATION

(BRIDGEWATER) - FUNDING

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Merci beaucoup M. le Président, j'aimerais beaucoup continuer sur cette question là, but I need to ask a question in Health, so I'm going to ask the question in English Mr. Speaker.

Last April, the former Progressive Conservative Government made an announcement on the implementation of a satellite dialysis station for Bridgewater. The decision to have the service added to the Bridgewater community was vital to the people who suffered from diabetes. The NDP and this minister have not honoured their commitment as their election pledge and their residents suffer. My question to the minister is where has the funding gone for the dialysis unit that was to be set up in Bridgewater?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said yesterday to the Leader of the Official Opposition, it probably would come as no surprise to many members of this Chamber that there were a number of commitments that the former government made that were never vetted through the department with respect to whether or not there were any funds to support those commitments. These commitments never went through Executive Council and I believe that particular commitment that he's referring to, in fact, may very well have been one of those commitments.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the funding was there all along to support the program from the former member of Lunenburg West. The current member for Lunenburg West has seemed to have forgotten about the people he represents and is now content to toe the NDP line instead of the needs of his constituents. My question to the minister is, like the member for Cumberland South, we're 12 days in - what happened to the NDP pledge to honour all previous commitments made by the PC Government? As it says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises." I will table this one as well.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I believe the former member for Lunenburg West had no authority on behalf of the Department of Health to make the announcement that was made. We have not been able to find one iota of documentation in the Department of Health to support, this although we have found some interesting documents in the Department of Health, I have to say.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I love questioning the Minister of Health because when it gets tough, she resorts to blackmail, she resorts to making up stories. (Interruptions) I can tell you if she has got interesting documents, then let her table them here

[Page 811]

in the House. Where are they? If that's what she wants to say, if that's what she says to the people of Bridgewater, the individuals who need dialysis, who do have to travel a way.

Mr. Dave Frank of Bridgewater - I know he's watching online today - suffers from renal failure. He has been working since 1998 to have a satellite dialysis located in the Bridgewater Hospital instead of making those many trips to Liverpool. The weather conditions for a senior to travel many times a week to Liverpool can be dangerous. My question to the minister is, what does the minister tell people like David Frank - never mind us, never mind blaming us - who are going to have dialysis in Bridgewater (Interruption) No.

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, please.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I'm trying but they're not giving me a chance here, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, what does the minister tell people like David Frank, who were going to have dialysis in Bridgewater, and who have now been abandoned by their MLA, the Minister of Health and this NDP Government?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health, in fact, does have a plan to expand - on a go-forward basis - satellite dialysis throughout the province. We have a number of sites around the province for dialysis. It's true that there are people who are traveling great distances. The honourable member for Richmond raised this with me on behalf of people in the constituency that he represents in eastern Nova Scotia. As we are able to expand dialysis services around the province, this is something that certainly we will be keeping in mind as we grapple with a very stressed health care budget, but a great need in the province to address people's health care needs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENVIRON. - GUYSBOROUGH MUN.: RRFB - FOIPOP REQUESTS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment. Yesterday the Municipality of Guysborough announced a lawsuit against the Resource and Recovery Fund Board over the handling of the tire recycling facility tender. Now, while I understand the minister can't speak to a lawsuit itself, it has raised questions about how the minister's department, and agencies under the minister's control, handle Freedom of Information requests.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, why is the minister's department not requiring that the successful bid document be released, as is standard with contracts once awards are made?

[Page 812]

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the member opposite for getting his facts right. This particular situation is before the courts and I believe it is inappropriate for me to speak at this time. Thank you.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, well as the minister will know, the subject of the law suit is not the Freedom of Information request. The facility that won the tender is already under construction in the riding of Timberlea-Prospect and the contract has been awarded. So it is underway, I would assume payments are being made since it is under construction so there's no reason to deny the release of the successful contract.

Guysborough was forced to contact the FOIPOP Review Officer because the RRFB wouldn't even talk to them about it. They received a reply which says: "there are no timelines and the process can ... take up to a year..." I will table that reply.

Mr. Speaker, even outside of a lawsuit, does the minister think it is reasonable to wait over a year for a FOIPOP request from agencies under his control?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I don't get very many opportunities in this House to congratulate the researchers and the member opposite. He had the facts right in the very first sentence, this is before the legal system and it is inappropriate for myself to address that at this time.

MR. YOUNGER: Well thank you, Mr. Speaker. You know the interesting thing to me is until I started getting answers from the minister, I wasn't suggesting that the minister was hiding anything but now I'm wondering whether he is.

The fact is the RRFB and the FOIPOP request is not a matter of this lawsuit. The RRFB is under his control and yet the minister and the NDP love putting things at arm's length and today the arm's length is oh, there's something before the courts, but this isn't what is before the courts. The FOIPOP request is not before the courts. So, Mr. Speaker, will the minister order the RRFB to release the successful bid document?

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again I have been very clear that this particular case is before the courts, but I do encourage the member to participate in the estimates and I look forward to his questions. We live in a clean and green environment in Nova Scotia and I'm honoured to be the Minister of Environment. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN COMPENSATION - RANGE

[Page 813]

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Can the minister provide the approximate range of compensation paid to physicians in Nova Scotia?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well there's quite a broad range of payment arrangements for physicians in Nova Scotia. I think because it is so individualized, it is really hard to say. There are retired physicians who still do a bit of work on fee-for-service, there are many physicians who work with a reduced workload, on a part-time basis. We certainly have some extraordinarily high-end, very skilled, very exclusive professional niche practitioners in the province. Neurosurgeons, for example, come to mind, so it is quite a broad range.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health, what is the average hourly workload per week experienced by our physicians?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are many, many physicians in the province who work very, very long hours, but we also have physicians who, by choice - perhaps they are tending to young children - have chosen to have a reduced workload and a reduced workload and a reduced workweek and, again, the answer is pretty similar to the first answer. There's a very broad range of diversity in our physician population in terms of their average weekly work pattern.

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, most Nova Scotians work hard for their daily wage. Few in this House could debate how hard physicians work, devoting their lives for the betterment of our health. Most earn in excess of $150,000 per year.

My question to the Minister of Finance is, how will a Nova Scotian physician feel about working their 12th hour of the day when they know that for every dollar they make, your NDP Government will now take more of it than they will get to keep with a new top marginal tax bracket in excess of 50 per cent?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, while we're on the subject of asking questions, there's one that that member still hasn't answered. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please. The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that member has said that his Party would balance this year's budget, so that means that he wouldn't have a $222 million deficit, that he wouldn't have a $215 million need for new revenue, which means that he would have to find cuts of $437 million. I'm still waiting for him to tell the House where he would find those cuts.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

[Page 814]

TIR - HIGHWAY NO. 101: VALLEY PASSING LANES

- FED. FUNDING

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. I don't know if I should be on that side of the House or this side of the House to ask questions. In November 2007, the former government announced that planning was underway to construct passing lanes from Berwick to Kingston within the next three years. In March 2007, the federal government announced they would contribute $6.75 million, and the province announced it would contribute $10.75 million toward the construction of passing lanes along Highway No.101.

My first question to the minister is, will this $17.5 million investment be used to construct passing lanes along Highway No. 101 through the Valley?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Merci, M. le Président. Under no circumstances do I make light of that, I assure the member for Richmond. First of all, I'd like to thank the member for Clare for this question, but I must point out to him that he must have been bugging my office this morning because of my weekly meeting that I have with staff further to the topics that we had talked about earlier. This was a conversation that I had addressed with the staff this morning, particularly when it comes to that amount of funding and the commitments and when it's going to be kept, particularly when it comes to the timeline. I'd like to thank the member for bringing the question to the floor, and when I have those details I'll bring them to your attention.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, last year a tender was issued for 2.16 kilometres of passing lanes. However, that announcement was for eight kilometres in the Valley, leaving over five kilometres of passing lanes yet to be constructed. My question to the minister is, when is the province planning to call the next tender to construct more passing lanes throughout the Valley?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. It's been an ongoing question over the last number of days. It must be the climate, it must be the budget, because I'm constantly being asked that question about tenders in my constituency, your constituency, across my table yet, across my desk yet. I want that member to know that when it comes to those passing lanes - I know it's a priority, not just for your constituency but for the other constituencies along through the Valley - when those tenders are available I will assure you they'll be signed promptly and you, as the member involved and other members through the Valley, will be notified.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. The minister knows that Highway No. 101 is one of the most dangerous stretches of road in our province. These

[Page 815]

passing lanes are important to the safety of Highway No. 101. My final question to the minister is, will there be more passing lanes constructed along Highway No. 101 and will we see passing lanes specifically between the areas of Bridgetown and Kingston?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite. I share the member's concern. This is an issue that has been brought to my attention over the last number of months by members from the Valley who have taken the opportunity to meet with me in my office and highlight the fact that there is need for more passing lanes.

The specific passing lane that you requested at this time, I am not privy to that information, but as soon as it becomes available I will inform the member opposite, the other members also, I want you to know the direction from my staff is, of course, when the tenders are notified - and I know the young member for Inverness is very interested in the tender process - when there is a tender called and signed in my office, you, as the MLA involved, will be notified.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

FIN.: TAX INCREASES - DECISION EXPLAIN

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, my question once again is for the Minister of Finance. I hope, for the benefit of Nova Scotians, he'd be willing to answer their questions because ultimately I am asking on behalf of many Nova Scotians today.

To the Minister of Finance, why do you begrudge the success of Nova Scotians who work hard for the daily wage they earn, as evidenced by your NDP Government's decision to further increase the taxes of Nova Scotians?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the main reason, of course, is because of the mess they left behind. I wish it wasn't necessary, but if we're going to maintain a strong health care system, if we're going to have good jobs and a strong economy, then we have to do the things that we have laid out in our plan. That means that in order to close the $1.4 billion structural deficit left to us by them, we are going to find $1.1 billion in savings and expenditure restraint and the rest through revenue.

What that Party can't answer is that if there's going to be no revenue increase, what exactly would that member cut? In order to do what they say, Mr. Speaker, it has to add up to $437 million. What would that Party cut?

MR. MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, since I've been elected I've heard a lot of complaining from that side of the House about the mess that was left to them, the condition that government was left in. I have a very simple question for the minister, how many balanced budgets have you voted against since you were elected to this House of Assembly? (Applause)

[Page 816]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, you know I remember that I voted for some and I voted against others because, of course, the budget essentially represents the government's plan about what it is going to do over the next fiscal year. I can tell the member one thing for sure, I'm going to vote for this one and I'm going to do it proudly. (Applause)

MR. MACMASTER: For the benefit of the minister I did some research today and I discovered in recorded votes he, in fact, voted against three balanced budgets - in 2002, 2003 and 2009. Mr. Speaker, leaders are not complainers. Now that he's on the government side of the House, this Finance Minister is not willing to make the decisions to balance the budget for Nova Scotians. Instead, he hands the costs of his deficit budgets to the employers and also the workers in the private sector.

Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Finance, Nova Scotia needs people with ideas, with energy, with a willingness to take a risk, people who will invest their own family money to start businesses, grow businesses and create non-tax-dependent jobs for the people. These people are willing to put skin in the game, why does your NDP Government insist on extracting your pound of flesh from them with a display of some of the highest taxes in North America?

MR. STEELE: One of the things that did take a little while to learn in this House, Mr. Speaker, is that rhetoric doesn't get you anywhere. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Look, here's the thing, it's a balanced budget for difficult times and we did try, as the Halifax Chamber of Commerce said, we did try very hard to be fair to everybody.

Now, Mr. Speaker, if that Party is going to do what they say they would do, they would have to find immediate cuts of $437 million. They may be willing to close hospitals, they may be willing to close schools, they may be willing to lay off nurses, they may be willing to lay off teachers, but we are not. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

TIR - FAIRVIEW OVERPASS: PENALTIES - CONTRACT DETAILS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. The $9.2 million Fairview Overpass project was supposed to be completed by the end of March of this year and according to the agreement,

[Page 817]

there is a penalty to be paid of $10,000 a day for every day the work continues beyond the end of March. The project, as I have said, is now two weeks behind schedule.

The ChronicleHerald, April 12th, stated that the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will ". . . look at what may have contributed to the timeline and whether or not any delay was within the contractor's control." Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, did the contract specify that penalties could only be levied if the contractor caused the delay?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for Halifax Clayton Park for the question. First of all, let's look very clearly at the fact that when initially this project began, the naysayers on the other side of this House said that it was the wrong time, it was going to take too long, it is not the time of year to be doing it. Yet, I want you to know, as many of the members in this House are aware of the fact, this project has been exceptionally well received in the community. People travelling to and from Halifax, as commuters, are well received with the fact that they are impressed with how fast this work has gone ahead.

There have been some delays. The work with CN, in particular, caused some problems and there was fibre optics cable that was of some real significance and because that fibre optics cable was there, through no fault of their own, the company that was doing the work had to basically sit and wait until that fibre optics was safe for them to continue to work. It has been a good project. It has been a project that has been well received and it is a project where we literally can see the end of the tunnel. In this case, we can see the end of the bridge and the end of the overpass.

I want to thank Nova Scotians and the people of Halifax and Dartmouth for their patience because it is a well-received project and it is going to be completed any day.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I was asking a specific question about the contract and the penalties for delay and the minister has given us quite a spiel on what a good project it is. I will say that the people of Halifax and Bedford have adjusted their schedules quite admirably. But at the same time, we want to know about the financial aspects of this contract.

In a note that was placed on the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal's Web site, the public was told that, "To meet the project deadline we expect the contractor will have to do evening and weekend work during some phases of construction." Any sensible project manager working on winter construction will surely have built in a cushion of time to account for some delays, so my question to the minister, again, is, can the minister tell this House if his department will also examine what extra steps the contractor took to meet the projected timeline to March 31st?

[Page 818]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite and to the members of the House, let's be positive for a change. Let's look at how well-received this project has been; let's look at what we're having created here - an important project that had to be done because of how we were going to look at the dangerous situation with that particular section of the Fairview Overpass. Let's have the project completed. At that time the review will be underway, at which time the contractor and the department will be looking at the final solution when it comes to the negativity of penalties and punishments. Let's be positive.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think people know that we are positive in this House and that we do look at positive things, but the fact is $10,000 a day is already $140,000 and I think that perhaps the minister should speak to the Minister of Finance and ask him how he feels about just being positive and thinking happy thoughts and leaving that on the table. It's going up by $10,000 a day and with the financial position of this province I don't think that we can afford to leave that on the table. I also think if there had been any incentives built into this contract the company would certainly have come forward and claimed them if they were done on time or done early.

My final question to the minister is, will you commit today to collecting every cent owed to the Province of Nova Scotia by the contractor for the delays in the Fairview Overpass replacement project?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite should be aware of the fact that I know there are other members from around the province who take the opportunity to drop in and talk to me about various issues, and it's always impressive when you get a list - and I have one I would like to table today. The Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, she had her priorities list - she gave it to me on this napkin. That's how you do business with this Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. You go out and you make sure the list is there and you take the opportunity to come into the minister's office and talk about these issues.

Has that member ever been to my office with these sorts of questions? No, instead she wants to get in here and grandstand, making negative complaints. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

TIR - DONKIN HWY: UPGRADE - FUNDING

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I may regret this, but my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

First, I would like to start off by thanking the minister for an excellent job that his department has done on replacing the bridge at MacAskill's Brook, which is locally known as the white bridge on the Donkin Highway.

[Page 819]

Secondly, earlier today we heard today that Xstrada Coal announced a $2.5 million contract to Municipal Ready-Mix to do some work on their property. I want to say that in order to build a mine there's a lot of heavy equipment and heavy materials that has to be brought in. Late last year when I talked to your department, there were dollars in the budget to upgrade the Donkin Highway to all-season levels. I was wondering if the minister could tell me if that money is still available and, if it is, when would the work start?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member for Cape Breton West for this question and doing it right, as we established before, of making sure that you come to the office, you have the opportunity to meet with staff and myself. That is the open line of communication that I appreciate with members opposite and that's the open line of communication I appreciate from the members present.

I want you to know, and it is of some consequence, that when these tenders cross my desk, as I said earlier to the member for Cape Breton West and to the House, when those particular decisions were made, when that tender is signed, you - as the member involved - will be notified by my staff.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for that answer. As I'm sure the minister is aware and the government is aware, Xstrata has already spent some $25 million into the economy of Cape Breton and Nova Scotia. The mine that is proposed is going to employ somewhere between 200 and 250 people and would have spin-offs of at least 750 people. What I need from you, Mr. Minister, what we need from your government, is the assurance for the people of the community of Donkin and Port Caledonia that the road will be upgraded so when the heavy equipment is going through there, it can go through there in a safe manner.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the member opposite. I know that member and I know members on this side of the House, particularly the member for Cape Breton Centre and the member for Cape Breton Nova, have said on a number of occasions to me personally and privately the importance of this particular project. Of course, the connecting item is the importance of that road. I want that member to know that on this side of the House that particular project is of some significance. It's important for Cape Breton Island; it's important for the members for Cape Breton Island on this side of the House and I know it's important for that member; when that decision is made, you will be informed.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure that minister that it's not only important to me but it's important to all Nova Scotians that this project go ahead with private money being invested; $300 million-plus of private money. One of the things that we need to make sure is when this project goes ahead that sidewalks are put in because as important it is to make sure that the highway goes through, we need to be sure the people who live in

[Page 820]

the community are safe. Could we get a commitment from you that sidewalks will be part of the tender process?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, sidewalks are not part of the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal but come and talk to me about it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to arise on two points of order today. First of all, over the last number of weeks I've been asking the Premier about his Barristers' Society fees and he continually refers to a policy by the former government to pay for professional fees. I would ask the Premier if he would table that policy in the House of Assembly.

On my second point of order, on the second question I spoke today in my final question, the Premier read from Hansard and quoted the member for Clare. I want to read what the member for Clare actually said, "Mr. Speaker, everyone knows The Cat ferry was not viable. This is not a revolutionary statement from government. This is an international highway link. Surely the NDP Government and the federal Conservatives could have found a financial subsidy to keep this ferry service going until a viable option could be found. So my final question to the Deputy Premier is, why wasn't a one-year subsidy granted...?"

Mr. Speaker, is it too much to ask of Nova Scotians that the Premier not continually mislead this House? Is it too much to ask that he not mislead this House?

MR. SPEAKER: Okay. I will take that under advisement and report back at a later time. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to introduce, in the east gallery this evening. Today we have a constituent of mine who's up visiting and enjoying the proceedings. His name is Richard MacEwan and I'd like him to stand and get a warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

For the members here, Richard's father was Paul MacEwan, the former Speaker of the Nova Scotia Legislature and the longest-serving member in the history of the Nova Scotia Legislature with 32 years of service to the people of Cape Breton Nova. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, I have two requests. One is that each day before we go into Question Period - and as I think you would agree, question

[Page 821]

and answer is very important to members of this Legislature - and I would ask that each and every day before we go into Question Period, you use some of the time to give some of your rules or some of your thoughts about the process throughout the House, and I appreciate that, but I would respectfully request that any instructions you're going to give to the House, if you would give them before you start the clock for Question Period.

MR. SPEAKER: Point taken.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, a week or two ago I asked you to have a look at Hansard and look at the length of time questions and answers are taking. I don't think you ruled and reported back to the House yet, I don't believe. If you haven't, I would ask you again

MR. SPEAKER: I will have a look at the record. (Interruption)

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I will speak louder so the member opposite can hear. Questions and answers both, I said, from both sides of the House, and if you could review that, please, and report back to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I can do that, thank you.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 188 first, rather than Bill No. 20. I understand that's to accommodate the Minister of Health, who has promised to go to a meeting - that will accommodate her. So will you call Resolution No. 188. Both resolutions are the same time frame, anyway - so Resolution No. 188.

Res. No. 188, re Antigonish MLA:Election Misleading - Remind - notice given Apr.7/10 - (Hon. M. Samson)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, you know, isn't the Internet a wonderful thing - especially when the NDP doesn't take down their election Web sites for candidates in the riding of Antigonish, where even though the Deloitte report, that - listen, the NDP were elected to a majority government on June 9th. On August 7, 2009, Deloitte released a report which said, "Growth in expenses outpaces revenue gains . . . into and past 2010-

[Page 822]

2013," and goes further to say, "the Government of the Province of Nova Scotia must address significant spending challenges and . . . [adjust] program spending."

Yet still on that Web site, as the promise during that campaign which came out after, is this brochure, which I will table. I will also table the Web site, Mr. Speaker. It is absolutely baffling to me that during the by-election - you know, it's one thing for the government to say, well, during the general election we didn't know how bad the finances were, we didn't know. Well, frankly, they might have been the only ones who didn't know. I know that the member for Annapolis was calling on the now-Premier to explain how he was going to meet those promises, because he felt the finances were worse than the NDP obviously thought they were, and indeed, that is what the case turned out to be. Yet there is no excuse by the time we got to the by-election in Antigonish, because by that point the government had already received the Deloitte report and already had the advice which clearly stated that things were out of control, that there needed to be a clampdown on spending, that balanced budgets were not possible.

Yet on the doorsteps during that election, as I tabled, during that by-election, and still on the member for Antigonish's Web site this morning is this brochure with the seven promises that he's committing to meet, plus the timeline - a timeline which includes a balanced budget for this year.

So, Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 188 is very clear in the operative clause being that we argue that the member for Antigonish misled his constituents and he broke his promises. Well, he did mislead his constituents. There's absolutely no question about that, because the fact of the matter is that he ran not on an adjusted platform but on the exact same platform that the NDP ran on on June 9th. By that point they already had information from Deloitte that said that platform would not be able to be fully met.

Mr. Speaker, that is, of course, deeply troubling. It's deeply troubling because the fact of the matter is that politics in Nova Scotia, and indeed around the world, is under siege in public opinion. People don't trust politicians. They rapidly don't believe the promises that are being made, and here is a clear example where even if we were to take the NDP at their word, that they honestly believed they could meet the promises that they said during the June election, they already knew by the time the by-election came around for Antigonish that those promises, at least some of those promises, would not be able to be met. Yet they still went door to door with those. Even during Question Period during that by-election, the Minister of Finance wouldn't agree that he was going to keep his promise of a balanced budget, and yet they still delivered this to doorsteps in Antigonish.

Mr. Speaker, that's troubling, because then we come to this year's budget. Listen, I agree with the Premier and the Minister of Finance that the Third Party had introduced some spending programs which were not sustainable in the long run, and I think that they should have known they were not sustainable when you looked at where natural gas royalty prices

[Page 823]

were going and where you looked at a number of other elements. I agree with that statement, but what I don't agree with is the fact that they ran on a serious of promises in Antigonish that by then they were already moving away from, and already had the reports that showed they couldn't be met.

You know when we look at the current budget, we talk about, who does it hurt, who does it help? Well, many of the decisions that this government has brought down hurt the middle and lower-income working class the greatest. The example I'll give you is you look at this budget and there's the HST relief for families with under - I believe the number is $34,000, it is around $34,000. That's a good move. The problem is, though, a very large percentage of the working poor have family incomes that exceed that. In fact, by many measures, for example from the Coalition Against Poverty, that measure is well below what they consider to be the poverty line for families. So it's something that we need to remember, it's something we need think about when we look at that, because that is not the promise they brought forward.

I spoke to a couple in my constituency of Dartmouth East this morning who were very troubled by this particular budget over arts and culture funding. They have been long-time NDP supporters - not anymore, and not anymore for one basic reason for them. When you look at the arts and culture numbers in the budget, they disproportionately are reduced more than any other line item in this budget.

THE PREMIER: No reduction, none whatsoever.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier should read his own budget because it is the one that has the highest reductions in funding. The fact of the matter is, the answers that the Premier is trying to throw back are ones that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage provided to the arts and culture community and they reviewed it and they disagree with him.

The fact of the matter is there were promises made, there were expectations of this government based on this piece of paper, and particularly expectations after the Premier became the Premier, that should not have been made during the Antigonish by-election because it was wrong, it was deceitful and it should not have happened during that by-election because by then they had been in government long enough. They had the Deloitte Report that told them that some of the items on this list could not be met in the terms shown. This should have been modified before that election.

It wasn't done and this, today, still appears on the member for Antigonish's election Web site and on his NDP Web site - today, this morning, as I tabled the Web site. The fact of the matter is that according to the member for Antigonish, these are the commitments he is still standing by and the commitments that the government has already admitted they can't meet.

[Page 824]

Mr. Speaker, I'm looking forward to hearing from the member for Antigonish and I hope he's going to get up and deliver a mea culpa. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Antigonish.

MR. MAURICE SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in this House today to speak to this resolution. It is with a strong sense of pride and honour that I represent the constituency of Antigonish. As the members of this House are aware, Antigonish is the Highland Heart of Nova Scotia and boasts the honour of hosting the oldest continuously run Highland Games in North America. People come from all over the world to see the Games and stay to enjoy our beautiful area of Nova Scotia and the amazing people who live there. It is these amazing Nova Scotians who started up the Sisters of St. Martha, Bethany House, built St. Martha's Hospital and established the renowned school of nursing.

Antigonish is also the home of St. Francis Xavier University and all of the amazing staff and students who work hard to make the university what it is. St. F.X. has been ranked first in Canada by Maclean's Magazine five times in the last decade. All of this and more contributes to the pride I feel in being part of the government that is making the right decisions for Nova Scotia families.

One of this government's decisions to make life better for residents of Antigonish is the decision to provide funding for the new Antigonish Town and County Library. My government recognizes that libraries are a valuable component of community infrastructure. They support learning among all ages, reading for leisure and providing free access to information resources. This is why this government recently launched the Borrow Anywhere, Return Anywhere Program, a new service that allows library cardholders access to more than 100 libraries in the province with no fees for borrowers. Through collaboration with all public, college and university libraries in the province, the program creates seamless, barrier-free library access.

[4:45 p.m.]

We believe that the best way to improve literacy and build a better society for our children is through public education and public libraries. It is because of this that we have invested significantly in library infrastructure since being elected.

The new Antigonish Town and County Library will use a geothermal heating and cooling system, energy-efficient glass and solar hot-water heating. This means the library will not only be a great resource for the area but will be a green choice that will be sustainable to operate in the long term. Just yesterday a press release was issued indicating that tenders for this construction will begin next month and I would like to table a press

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release from the People's Place Project that outlines the status of construction tenders and the call for artistic and artisan elements.

This government has made numerous investments in the Antigonish area. Fire departments and response units in the Antigonish area have also received funding from this government. These include the Antigonish Town Fire Department, the Antigonish Special Hazards Response Unit, the Four Valleys Volunteer Fire Department, the Havre Boucher and District Volunteer Fire Department, the Tracadie Fire Department, and the West River Fire Department.

My government is committed to making life better for Nova Scotian seniors and providing them with options to stay in their homes and communities longer. That is why we have provided a Senior Safety Grant to the Antigonish Senior Safety Program and provided an Age-Friendly Communities Grant to the Town of Antigonish for new benches.

The members of this House know that child care is a key issue for today's families. Our children are far too important not to offer them the best possible start in life and this government recognizes that investing in child care is a wise choice that benefits all of society. We are committed to community-based organizations with a goal of affordable, accessible and high-quality child care for all Nova Scotians. That is why we have provided a $6 million investment to make child care more accessible and affordable to Nova Scotians, and a $1.3 million investment to help child care centres repair or renovate their facilities. This funding has helped to create an additional 300 child care spaces across the province.

Just this week, my government announced another significant investment in child care with $5 million in funding for 400 new child care subsidies, the elimination of a fee for families and a new grant for child care providers. This is an important step towards ensuring quality child care for all Nova Scotians. We will continue to move forward with plans to improve access to daycares with the addition of another 250 subsidized spaces in 2011 as part of our government's commitment to today's families. One of the groups that received funding through our commitment to child care is the Lower South River Preschool Society, a great facility in my constituency.

We all know the importance of preventing crime before it happens, that is why my government has created the Lighthouses Grant Program. This program is an example of a promise kept by this government and shows how we are making life better for Nova Scotian families by helping community groups provide recreational, educational, cultural and life-skill programs for Nova Scotian youth. Lighthouses Program grants are going towards organizations with proven track records, organizations that can help divert youth at risk from the potential to offend. One of the groups that received funding is the Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and Sexual Assault Services Association.

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My government has made $500,000 new dollars available for operational costs to be shared among transition houses and women's centres. Two groups from Antigonish are included in those that will benefit from this funding: Antigonish Women's Resource Centre and the Naomi Society. These are two very valuable assets to our community and I'm very pleased that our government is recognizing the value of the good work that they do.

As the members of this House know, the Strategic Infrastructure Fund is a $6 million fund that increases collaboration and partnerships between government and the agricultural industry. MacMaster Choice Meats of Antigonish received funding through this fund to develop production and processing systems that will result in increased opportunities for the Nova Scotia beef sector.

Mr. Speaker, I think it is pretty clear that this government has made and will continue to make the right decisions for Antigonish, decisions that are making life better for all of Nova Scotia's families. Unfortunately our government inherited a fiscal reality that was created by a legacy of unsustainable spending, but let's be clear this is a legacy that we are changing by making the right decisions that will bring Nova Scotia back to balance.

Mr. Speaker, an indebted government cannot deliver critical programs and services in health and education, high quality service that Nova Scotians both expect and deserve. As the expert advisory panel pointed out, in order to address the province's financial challenges, government has three strategies to work with; spending must be controlled, revenues must be increased and the economy must grow.

We agree and today we are taking the necessary and decisive action. In our budget and in our four-year plan we have found the right balance and are using the strategies we have available to us. As a result of the measures taken in this budget and measures still to be taken, we believe it is reasonable and achievable to forecast a return to balance in the budget of 2013-14. Getting back to balance is going to take some time and a lot of hard work and is something that this government is committed to and has already begun.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak a little bit about the comments my friend made with reference to the arts. There have been no arts funding cuts. What has happened is that there has been some reallocation of the funding in the program but there has been no overall or net loss to the arts.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for raising this issue and for providing me with the opportunity to outline for this House the support that our government has given to Antigonish in the six short months since I have been elected to represent them. The people of Antigonish appreciate this support and are very supportive of me in my role as their member. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

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HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to be in this House again today and to rise and speak to some of the issues that are facing, obviously people in Cumberland County, and more widely, people across Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to congratulate the Liberal Party for bringing forward this resolution, to remind all of us that when we go out and seek election in this province - each and every one of us - whether we end up getting in Opposition or on the government side or end up being the government or part the Cabinet, or in fact, end up being Premier, the one thing that people rely on is that when you tell them something and you give them your word and you give them a promise, that you will keep that commitment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by tabling a document that many have seen in this House before and you're going to see it many times, each and every day this House sits, whether I introduce petitions on behalf of my constituents, whether I'm talking about issues - the fact that people down in Yarmouth in regard to The Cat, whether I'm talking about correctional facilities, whether I'm talking about road commitments that were made, whether I'm talking about balanced budgets or raised taxes - and that's a headline that people in this province saw last year. They saw this and they really honestly believed that if the NDP formed the next government, that commitments they had heard, that were provided to them through the media, through their members, the commitments that were provided to them that they knew were supposed to happen in their constituency throughout this province would be honoured.

You know, Mr. Speaker, we all know in this House today - some may not want to admit it - but I can tell you this, there are some people in the backbench on the opposite side, I've heard some rumours, are not very happy and so they should be. I feel sorry for anybody who ran in the recent by-election, I feel very sorry. In fact, I'll tell you a little story about the NDP candidate in my own riding. Well you know, the candidate for the NDP in my own riding, the President of the Party, when he found out that the Premier who had made a commitment, broke his word, he did the honourable thing and quit that Party, gave up his position and publicly said why.

Mr. Speaker, I have a lot of respect for that man, he has been a friend of mine for many years, but I have to tell you, I've a lot of respect for the person who would stand up and say you know, commitments were made. This headline says Dexter - we all know who that is - "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises". Now there's only one Dexter that I'm aware of, other than the construction company which does fine work. He said he would keep his word but guess what, he broke his word and he is breaking it every day this House sits.

I'll table it, Mr. Speaker. Oh, just before I do, it says here - what does he say here? All in due course now. He says, "we need to know just exactly what it is that the government has committed to those communities, and what I have said is that we would live up to those.

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If they have made a commitment to a community, then we will honour it." That's the NDP way.

Well, if the Premier missed what I just said, his candidate in my riding, the President of his Party, quit. Do you know why he quit? Because of that, he quit because of that. He quit because he knows that when you make a commitment in this province, when you give your word as a Nova Scotian, you're expected to keep it. But guess what? Broken promise.

Mr. Speaker, in Cumberland County NDP has a new meaning. NDP, New Definition for Promise, New Definition for Promise. Well, let's examine it a little bit. Let's look at a few things that the NDP promised. They promised, oh, you elect us, we'll fix everything in your riding, don't worry about it. Under the NDP Government we will not raise taxes. Now, we all know what is going on there. I was chastised last week for making some unparliamentary comments, and I won't say that, but I can tell you that the words in my constituency are a lot harsher than what I said here, a lot harsher what they're saying in my area.

In mining communities - and I know the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre - a mining community, these miners believe when you put your hand out and shake a man's hand, that's it, you don't need a written document. You don't need any signed contract. When you say, I give you my word, they expect you to stand by that. Mr. Speaker, what they heard loud and clear was, no, we won't raise your taxes if you elect us. So, up go the taxes by the NDP.

But I was reminded last weekend, actually by a lady coming out of church, she said, Murray, we told you this a long time ago. You knew when they were elected last June that they would not only break promises, the first thing they would be looking at doing is like they do in the rest of this country, the NDP, raise the taxes. So what did Marilla Stephenson say? Borrow, tax and spend. There they are, borrow, tax and spend, true to the NDP across this country. I think we should put a resolution forward across this country and change the NDP to say, New Definition of Promise, because it was broken promise, Mr. Speaker, right from day one.

The Premier knows that. He knows that. I don't know how he can stay in this House and say, I went around and told everybody across this province that I would meet those commitments and I would do certain things, I wouldn't do other things. But you know, I've been here for 10 years, he would say, I didn't realize things were like they were. I was just sitting over here putting in my time, in my space, and I didn't realize things were that bad. I don't know where he has been for 10 years, Mr. Speaker, but I can tell you, people in my riding, people in Cumberland County are pretty disgusted today. They're pretty disgusted that this government would jack the taxes and turn their back on Cumberland County business.

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Mr. Speaker, we all know about the issue about cross border shopping and how that is impacting Cumberland County. Their answer to help Cumberland County business is to put the taxes up, drive the rest of them across the border, put taxes up further on gas and every other commodity. Business people in Cumberland County are afraid that they will not be able to survive. There is no question about it.

Mr. Speaker, there is a petition that is ready to come to this House by a gentleman by the name of Mike LeBlanc, who owns a convenience store in Cumberland North, in Amherst. I'm waiting for that petition, because if it doesn't come to this House, I will table it on his behalf. He has a sign up thanking the government for driving all of his business across the border into New Brunswick. What's their answer to help for businesses in Cumberland County?

I put a resolution forward last week and the week before the Premier said to me, well work with us, never mind arguing against us and bringing this issue to us, we're not interested to hear that stuff. Work with us. So, I put a resolution forward. I simply said, I simply requested on behalf of the business people in Cumberland County for the Premier to convene a committee to come to Cumberland County and work with the Chambers of Commerce, the Boards of Trade, CREDA, that the regional development association, use the Department of Economic and Rural Development, use some business people. I just simply said, I asked the Premier, I'm asking him, please, convene that committee and work with the people of Cumberland County. What did the NDP say?

No, we're not interested in that. The Minister of Finance has been up to listen to all that before, we're not interested in listening to those people again. Now, he's going Friday. I can tell you, people up there are pretty upset. He is going to get an earful on Friday.

Mr. Speaker, there is an assault here on rural Nova Scotia, which is pretty obvious. The people can see it every day. The honourable Minister of Justice rose in his place yesterday and he was talking about this business plan and he said he couldn't find any business plan and he talked about it. Do you know, it was his staff, three weeks after they got elected, that quoted him in the papers saying, we will find a place for the correctional facility in New Glasgow and their response was, we better get out there and build this case ASAP to satisfy the words that he said publicly?

[5:00 p.m.]

Now, what does that tell anybody, three weeks after you're elected? They knew exactly, I have a question for the Premier, and one of these days in Question Period I'm going to ask him. I would like to simply know, did the Premier tell the member for Cumberland North, as his candidate, if you get elected, you may be saying goodbye to that correctional centre in Cumberland County? I would just like to know if he did or not. I would just simply like to know if he warned that member that if I'm the Premier and we form

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government, your county may be saying goodbye to those jobs and that service out of Cumberland County?

Mr. Speaker, I don't know if he would even answer it - I'm sure he wouldn't answer, but there are many people who would really like to know. (Interruption) Well, I'll sit down. In the spirit of co-operation, I'll sit down and let the Premier answer that question, if he would.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know that the time for Question Period has elapsed, but seeing how the member was willing to cede the floor long enough for me to respond to the question he had, I wanted to make this very brief point.

One of the things that we said throughout the campaign was that we needed to understand what the commitments that were made by the government were and, you know, one of the most disappointing things we found when we got into government was that there were many things that were said by many members, many of which were not supported by business cases and did not go to the Executive Council, did not represent the policy of government.

So, Mr. Speaker, our task and challenge was to make sure that the decisions that got made by the new government were not made in the way that the decisions were made in the past government. They had to be based on an actual business plan. They had to be based on what was in the best interest of the system that they were going to try and serve - whether that was health, education, corrections - that these had to be the best possible decisions.

The candidates who stood for election - including the candidate for Cumberland North - understood that the responsibility of this Party, and the responsibility of the now-government, was to ensure that we had a proper stewardship of the resources of this province, including the financial resources. They understood that - every single one of them - and they were proud to stand and serve under my leadership and under the NDP banner in the last election.

I'm sure, Mr. Speaker, that those who did, and the member for Cumberland North knows, that we are paying close attention. In fact, we attempted to bring forward a resolution of support for border communities and unfortunately, those attempts to try to assist in those areas were actually opposed by the members opposite and by those who were pursuing narrow political interests rather than the actual interests of the people of Amherst and of those other border communities.

But that's not going to stop us. The Minister of Finance is going to meet with people in Amherst. He's taking with him additional information to share with them, because we

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think that these decisions ought to be based on the best possible information. So we're going to ensure that that goes forward to them so that they can -

AN HON. MEMBER: Answer the question.

THE PREMIER: I did answer the question. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, just so we're clear, what I told the member opposite is that he can expect the fairest possible treatment from our government for his community, for his riding, and that all the decisions that would be made would be made on the best possible information and on the best business case. So I will turn it back over. I know that the member is disappointed to hear that it will be done in that way, but that is the way we're going to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to say I really appreciate the fact that I get a chance to join this debate, and I'm pleased that the Premier came in to join the debate, quite frankly. During the election campaign there was no reference to looking at the books. He made a firm commitment to the people of Nova Scotia; as a matter of fact, he did it on a number of occasions. He would balance the budget every year. He would not raise taxes. He would not cut any services. He misled the people of Nova Scotia - just like he did in the House today, referring to the member for Clare, cherry-picking one sentence out of an entire statement. He intentionally misled this House.

When the member for Cumberland South stood earlier and spoke and talked about being from a mining community, and when those men and women stick out their hand and shake it, that's all they need. They take you at your word. That's what Nova Scotians do. They take you at your word. What this Premier did, and what this government did in the last election, was mislead Nova Scotians and they continue to back away from every promise.

From June 9th until now they find someone to hide behind every single day. Stand up and be accountable for what you said. Don't look to the previous government, don't look to the previous government to make mistakes, you've made them already. You misled the people of Nova Scotia during the election campaign, intentionally.

Their thirst for power overruled the integrity of this House, their thirst for power. They were going to say anything. The end would justify the means, exactly what they were going to do. They told the people on the New Brunswick border they were going to move the border, give them free gas, cheaper gas for those of you on the border. What did they do? They found a way to back away from that promise. Every Nova Scotian knew it was a silly idea to begin with, but he continued to repeat it around the campaign and he continued to repeat it in Cumberland North for cheap votes. That's what that was about, misleading the people of Cumberland North. He knew then he couldn't deliver on it and we knew then he couldn't deliver on it.

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He knew he couldn't deliver on a balanced budget. He knew it. Every Nova Scotian knew he couldn't deliver on it and for him to stand in this House today, in this debate, and say that he had to get in power to look at the books is misleading. You knew it then, you know it now. You could not keep that commitment to the people of Nova Scotia, but you ran on it.

He also told them he would keep it without raising taxes. Well, guess what? He just dug his hand deeper in the pockets of Nova Scotians while he gave himself a tax break. He gave me a tax break. A family in my community making $34,000 of combined income just got whacked by that government, just got whacked by that government at the same time he's giving himself a tax break, the same time he's giving me a tax break. That is unconscionable.

This is a government that has said they're going to stick up for the working family. I would like to know what working family they're sticking up for, the working professional family? Is that the one you're sticking up for? The family with two professionals working that just got a tax break from you? Well that's not the majority of Nova Scotians. Someone making $34,000 as a family combined income just got whacked by the government decisions you've made.

That wasn't something they said to the people of Nova Scotia. What they said was, they weren't going to raise taxes. Lo and behold, we got into power. They're going to balance the budget. The first budget they deliver, over a $500 million deficit, $480 million are promises they made. They bought land. While every Nova Scotian believes it's a good idea that we should own more of our province, when you ask them, should you pay more taxes to buy that land, they would probably say no. The majority of us would say no. We could buy that land when we were in a better financial situation.

But for the Premier to stand in this House today and tell the people of Nova Scotia that when he got into power he had a better view of the books. Every single Nova Scotian - when I stood in front of Nova Scotians, I said there was not a single politician in North America that could tell their constituents that they could balance the books next year without knowing how far we were going to be in deficit and what the revenue projections were going to be for our province.

He ridiculed me for that. I guess he got what he wanted. He got in power. His thirst for power overruled common sense. Now, he has to turn around and tell those Nova Scotians that he misled them, and that's exactly what he did, on every single promise.

This little brochure, this little pamphlet that's his election pamphlet, cost it out. We get ridiculed, I was ridiculed for actually giving a full costing of my platform, a full costing, Mr. Speaker. What this Premier did was cherry-pick one year at a time, one year at a time,

[Page 833]

put it out there and lowball it. Guess what? One more time, Nova Scotians got run over by the Dexter bus. One more time.

One of the challenges about this profession is that as soon as you get elected, people consider you to be dishonest. It's decisions like that that affect the entire profession, when you intentionally stand in front of the people of this province and mislead them, knowing you cannot deliver on the promises you make.

In 2003, when I ran in the campaign, I made a commitment to the people of Annapolis that I would not tell them one thing in an election campaign and tell them something different afterward. I understood very clearly that I had to look those men and women and their children in the eyes because they are my neighbours, they are the people that I associate with, they are the people that I go to the hockey rink with, they are the people that I go to school with. I wanted to be able to look them in the eye and tell them that I did not mislead them, even when the answer that I was going to give them wasn't the one they were looking for, and how tough it was going to be. I was not willing to mislead them.

This government misled Nova Scotians. They looked them in the eye knowing they couldn't keep their commitments. They looked them squarely in the eye and they misled them, and those are the facts. You looked in the eyes of your neighbours and you misled them, and you looked in the eyes of my neighbours and you misled them.

Perhaps the next time the member from Sackville-Cobequid will stand on his feet and speak from his heart and not speak from the words that are being sent down from the tower above, that the Premier won't allow him to talk. Perhaps the script will be put away, and tell him what you really feel. Tell the people of Sackville that you were going to raise their taxes, tell the people of Sackville-Cobequid that you were prepared to raise their taxes, cut services to them - tell them that. You didn't tell them that during the election campaign, did you? But when you looked them in the eyes I'll bet you said you were going to balance the budget. I'll bet you said you weren't going to raise taxes, and I'll bet you said you were not going to cut services, just like you were going to do, right? Just like you said. Did you say it? Of course you didn't. What they did, they misled Nova Scotians and here we are. Now Nova Scotians are stuck with this government for the next three and a half years.

Now we have Dr. Ross going from community to community, creating uncertainty because the Premier won't stand in this House and tell the people of this province that no emergency rooms will be closed and no hours will be cut. He has an opportunity to stand in this House and say no emergency room will be closed nor will any hours be reduced. They're looking for a way to back away from that commitment they made to Nova Scotians. They will be looking to find a way to back away from that commitment.

[Page 834]

I can tell you as I travel this province, the same as the member from Cumberland South was saying in his remarks, Nova Scotians were sold a bill of goods. They were misled, and they know it now. Unfortunately, they have to live with that for three and half years.

I know I can look in the eyes of Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other and tell them that I told them the truth. I told them the truth, Mr. Speaker. I told them the truth. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allocated for debate on Resolution No. 188 has now expired.

The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills For Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 20.

Bill No. 20 - Health-care Sustainability Advisory Council Act

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today and join in the debate here on Opposition Day, which is the Liberal Opposition Day today. For our second subject we are going to be discussing Bill No. 20. It is called the Health-care Sustainability Advisory Council Act, and it was introduced just in this session of the Legislature.

As a member of the Opposition, I believe we have a job to do - not only to criticize, not only to hold the government accountable, but also to talk to them about possible improvements, make suggestions, and bring forward good ideas. That's why I'm pleased to speak today on this bill, because I think it is something that warrants attention from the government and that actually brings in place an idea of a new body that would help the Minister of Health and help that Department of Health gain some perspective and gain control of some of the expenditures.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as you know, for the last number of days we've been having - I think we had 14 hours of debate around the health estimates. The minister did quite a marathon there of answering questions and talking to us but a lot of times we didn't get answers that

[Page 835]

we were looking for. I'm hoping the minister has been listening where good suggestions had been made. We feel there is a role to be played by an advisory group like this health care sustainability advisory group that we're proposing.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what the bill is proposing - just because I am conscious of the time allotment, I'd like to be clear for those who have not had a chance to read it - that it would be a council with nine members. We see this council as being a group that would be appointed through our agencies, boards and commissions and it would be a group that would report to the Health Minister. What this group would do - we don't want it to be top-heavy with health professionals and the way we would see it, four of the nine positions at most would be people who are licensed in one of the health care professions. It would really recognize that Nova Scotians in all walks of life have something to contribute to this debate, are able to analyze and make suggestions and come forward with good ideas for the minister.

I think the minister - if she harkens back to her years as a community worker and a social worker and so on - would agree that, really and truly, people in our communities have answers. They experience first-hand some difficulties or challenges and they often have an answer and around their kitchen table or at a coffee shop they're saying, why don't they just do it this way, or I can see a better way for this to be managed or operated.

The best governments are the ones that listen and at least give them the time of day to consider that. This council would do just that. We're looking for an advisory council that would be available - I say solicit and evaluate proposals from any individual, from any group or organization, that would result in a better, safer, more effective, cost-efficient health care delivery. I think what it would do is just give another avenue for those people who have ideas.

I know the Minister of Finance has just been around the province. He also has had a lot of meetings, asking Nova Scotians what they think. I know you have to sift through those ideas, but there are good ideas in among the myriad number of suggestions that come forth. I'm suggesting here that we not be pompous or sort of elitist about where those ideas come from and that the government make itself open to those suggestions. Clearly the minister needs a way to do that, a way that isn't filtered with political staff or filtered through a department that has a big, vested interest in what goes on.

One of our biggest problems in health care, Mr. Speaker, is that we have a lot of silos and a lot of DHAs and a lot of different professions that are protecting their territory, their turf, their scope of practice, their traditional role in health care. Overall that doesn't leave for the greatest integration; it doesn't lead to the best health care delivery. Individually they are all professional, I'm not saying anything negative about our health care professionals, but we need to foster and encourage the collaboration and the openness to new ideas, particularly. That's really what I'm talking about.

[Page 836]

I think that Nova Scotians, the sort of people that we would see on a council like this health sustainability council, would really be able to do that because they wouldn't have a vested interest and they would understand what actually makes good sense and this is harkening back to common sense, which is sometimes completely missing in this House, or perhaps through the advice that comes through our departments in government. We want to remember who we are here for, who we are serving and this council could do exactly that.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how much time I have because you went beyond 5:12 p.m. and perhaps you could signal me that because I have much to say.

MR. SPEAKER: Your time ends at 5:24 p.m.

MS. WHALEN: Well thank you, that's good, I have a few minutes to go.

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of issues that I wanted to raise in particular around the idea that individuals have a lot to contribute and that they shouldn't be shut down and nobody has the monopoly on good ideas. If nothing else, if the minister and the members on the opposite side of the House would just hear me out on that, there is no single person, organization, professional, that has the monopoly on good ideas.

I know that all of you will hear from people in your ridings who come into your constituency office or e-mail you with good ideas.

Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to work with somebody in this province who brought to me a good idea and I'm going to table a letter that I received from the Minister of Health about this. I don't believe the issue has been resolved just yet so I'm not bringing up the particular issue. It may still be a possibility that this will change but the issue is around something called endovenous laser therapy - EVLT - which is a different therapy for dealing with varicose veins.

It's different in that you don't need surgery, it's a laser surgery. There are people in the province who can afford to have it done and they go to clinics to have that done. It costs about $2,000, I think, maybe $2,500. People are having it done. I know that the member for Clare had somebody in his riding who had it done and the very next day he was out hunting. The story was given to me that he was so well he didn't need any recuperation time, he was able to go hunting with friends the next day, but if you have surgery, you have at least a month that you're laid up essentially recovering. You're off work. You can't be active. You've got to recover. You also have a hospital stay because you've had full-blown surgery. You've got to be in the hospital for a few days at least.

So it's much more invasive, the recovery rate is much slower, the cost is greater and when we had brought this issue to the minister, the part that surprises me is that the minister in her letter back to me, it's December 11, 2009, really said that physicians are the ones that

[Page 837]

she'll listen to when it comes to changes, that it's the physicians in this province who are going to direct us on what to do. She said, "Before a new procedure such as this is insured in Nova Scotia, two things need to happen, and both require physicians to be leaders in the development of the proposal to insure the new service. The first is for the physician who wishes to provide the service to approach the DHA . . ." Then it goes on from there and I will table this letter.

Mr. Speaker, the point is, why would we expect doctors who are making more money by having a physician in a hospital perform a surgery, why would they take time to advocate for a new method that they are charging in their clinics for anyway? The ones who want it are paying in their clinic. There's no financial incentive for them to do it. Again, the minister has talked about how busy they are, there's no time incentive for them to be the advocates for this. They're busy and they're still working and they're doing both procedures in the province today.

What I want is that people who can't afford to pay for this themselves, that they be covered under our health service. Several days' stay in a hospital is bound to be more cost, direct costs, than it is to have an outpatient procedure in a clinic, which is what you do. You go to a doctor's clinic, have this laser surgery, and you're back on your feet within 24 hours. I don't know how we cannot look at that and I just bring it as an example because there are other examples but this one, to me, is so obvious.

Mr. Speaker, thank you, my time is really going quickly but I think I've made my point on that as one small example of where there's a savings to the system, better health care delivery, better turnaround, more productivity in this province, and yet we're not looking at it because it wasn't suggested by a doctor. If nothing else, that letter suggests to me that we have a real problem and that we have to have a council like this bill is suggesting, a health care sustainability advisory council, where the minister would have the opportunity to listen to a group that she can rely on, that they can measure some of these proposals and make some good recommendations. I just think the time has come now for that and I hope that the minister will view it favourably.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the honourable Minister of Health, I will let you know that there has been an adjustment to the schedule and the honourable minister's time ends at 5:34 p.m.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise today to speak to Bill No. 20, an Act to Create a Provincial Advisory Council on the Sustainability of Health Care.

Now, Mr. Speaker, at first glance it might appear that this simple bill would offer a reasonable suggestion but we know that health care is not simple, it's a very complex system

[Page 838]

and a very expensive one. This year we will spend $3.6 billion on health care in Nova Scotia, double what we spent just 10 years ago.

Our government places great importance on timely access to health care for Nova Scotian families, and I'm very proud of the health care system that we have. We have a robust and a responsive health care system, but at the same time we know there's much work to be done and a fine balance to be reached in continuing to provide the services that Nova Scotian families need and ensuring that we live within our means.

I'm concerned that this bill won't, in fact, do anything to address the financial challenges that we face in health care, and it appears to me that this additional layer of bureaucracy would only serve to add more expense to the system and, in fact, would result in some duplication in terms of what we already have in place.

Part of this bill talks about soliciting and evaluating proposals from individuals, groups and organizations that would result in the delivery of safe, effective and cost-efficient health care, and I want to assure the honourable member and all members of this House that there isn't any shortage of proposals coming in from groups and organizations from across the province with respect to the delivery of health care.

When I became Minister of Health the executive assistant in the department to former health ministers, one of the first things she handed to me was a list of more than 300 stakeholder organizations to the Department of Health - groups like the Heart and Stroke Foundation, Cancer Care Nova Scotia, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia, groups like the Group of IX, Dalhousie Medical School, the Faculty of Health Professions, the College of Pharmacy, the College of Nursing, and Doctors Nova Scotia.

We have a vast array of groups and organizations, and in the 10 months that I've been minister - the member talks about the importance of listening to people with good ideas - I've heard many good ideas. I've had opportunities to meet with the Alzheimer's Society; I've had opportunities to meet with individual physicians; I've met with district health authority boards; I've met with community health boards - and one of the interesting features of the system that we have is the fact that we're already able to engage so many people in our health care system. We have a very democratic kind of health care system.

Our district health authority boards, as I was saying in estimates yesterday, are not the pompous, elitist group that perhaps the honourable member was implying - and I hope she wasn't implying that because two-thirds of the members of district health authorities are members of community health boards. These people are volunteers from communities throughout the province and they give freely of their time because they are so committed to their communities and so interested in health care at a local level. I think it's really important that we remember that when we think about our district health authorities.

[Page 839]

[5:30 p.m.]

So I am concerned, Mr. Speaker, that this bill would do nothing to address the financial challenges facing health care in the province. I think it would be difficult for a part-time council to conduct the volume of work that would be required here, without staff. To solicit and evaluate proposals requires a great deal of time, and then to formulate, make recommendations to the Minister of Health respecting the delivery of programs and services.

The third function of this council would be to review the administration and operations of district health authorities for the purposes of recommending changes to the governance structure for the delivery of health care. The Capital District Health Authority is a $750 million operation - I can't imagine some advisory council reviewing the operations of a district health authority.

We are in the process, in the department, of setting up an internal audit process, and I think when you get into an organization of such magnitude as these organizations are, this really is what is required. There's a role, I guess I'm saying, for citizen bodies and I'm very much in favour of citizen-based advisory bodies, but this is not the way I would do it.

I think the community health boards, a council of community health boards perhaps. There are lots of ideas that I have about how we can strengthen the democratic participation of people in our health care system, but not necessarily in this way - setting up an advisory council.

I think about the onus we already place on communities to come out for consultations on the emergency room closures, for example - I introduced legislation in the Fall that asked DHAs to do more consultation in communities where there are chronic problems around emergency room closures. I think that is a really important vehicle to get district health authorities and communities talking to each other, problem solving together, collaborating and will fulfill some of the ideas and the notions that the honourable member has with respect to engaging the community, listening to the community, responding to the community, and adopting good ideas that exist in the community. Certainly there are good ideas, but this isn't necessarily the way to go.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle, and the time will end for your period at 5:44 p.m.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand and rise and talk to Bill No. 20. I hope the minister is doing okay - get the water in there, her throat was giving her a little bit of trouble. I give her full credit for talking out the time on this issue.

[Page 840]

Sometimes there are things that are earth-shattering that happen in this House. I'm sure people who sit and watch this at home, or have the opportunity to come here to Province House and sit in the gallery and see Opposition opposing everything that government presents and the lack of camaraderie that I think people see on TV - I tell you, in this particular case, I have to agree with the minister. (Interruption) I know, there's the gasp. (Applause)

The member for Sackville-Cobequid just lost two pounds in listening to that.

As a former Minister of Health, I can say that there are a lot of organizations, grassroot work, and a lot of suggestions that come every minute of the day to the Minister of Health. The system is one that is extremely complicated, I agree, and one that I know can be streamlined. I can say that through the community health boards, up through the district health authorities and to the department, many good initiatives are brought forward - many good ideas, many good ways to make our system stronger and, in a lot of cases, to save money and make things more efficient.

Mr. Speaker, we have an administration in Nova Scotia - we have the highest rate of administration in the Department of Health of any province across Canada. What this bill essentially does is create another layer of administration. I know the member says there are volunteers on this, and yes, they're volunteers, but they need to respond to someone. I mean, volunteers at any board within government just don't sit outside of government and make up ideas and make up new policies and don't present it. They have an input method. What is that input method going to be? Well, that's staff at the Department of Health. Staff that we know we're overburdened with at this point, but staff that I know work extremely hard and are overworked. So how is that actually going to work?

I just have to say that the Liberals are a little off base on this one right now. Every good idea can be debated in this House of Assembly, and I would be happy to stand on other occasions and support the Minister of Health when it comes to working the health system and trying to make it work better. But for the reason of a doubt here, let's look at what this bill will really do.

It's a bill to create a provincial advisory council on the sustainability of health care. Well, I can say we could probably make a council of members of this House and constitute the same thing, that that would do. We all have our ideas on how to make our system more sustainable. So can we sit on it, or can someone else sit on it? Is it going to be a bunch of doctors, is it going to be a bunch of people (Interruption)

Well, still, it is four members more for this House to consider, four more members that the Human Resources Committee is going to have to consider. It is four more members that we're going to have to pay per diems for. It is four more members that we're going to have to bring into the fold, when really, as an HR Committee - and I do get to sit on that one

[Page 841]

- we should be finding ways to get rid of some of these advisory boards, because we do have far too many of them in the process.

Mr. Speaker, the advisory council - apparently, as it is presented, Section 7(a) - "solicit and evaluate proposals from any individual, group or organization that would result in the delivery of safe, effective and cost-efficient health care." Well, what do the health boards do? Anybody who is interested in the health of their community, they become a member of the community health board, and those members can present, of course, to the administration or the group of that health board, and that can be brought forward to the district health authority. The district health authority, of course, are the folks that are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their districts and, of course, the programs that are held within those districts. So we already have that.

Mr. Speaker, it says in Section 7(b), "make recommendations to the Minister of Health respecting the delivery of programs and services to ensure and maintain the delivery of safe, effective and cost-efficient health care." Again, that sounds like a district health authority to me, and as the minister brought up, two-thirds of those members within the DHAs are community members. They're made up of people that are put forward by the community health board. The minister or the government really only has that small work to be able to put some of its own members on those district health authorities, and most times they are, again, community members. They're not doctors and elitists and all those people - they're common people like you and I.

Again, Section 7(c), "review the administration and operations of district health authorities for the purpose of recommending changes to the governance structure for the delivery of health care." Well, Mr. Speaker, I've got to say that I spend an awful lot of time defending the PHSOR in this House, the facilities review that we did that talked to that very thing. We've got a document sitting on a shelf that could do it. So we could bring that piece in, when we had the transformation office within the Department of Health today that really wants to go to the change of the system, to really go to the safety and the health care within the communities. It is already being done.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberals want a board that consists of nine paid members appointed by Governor in Council, with four of those nine board members being registered health care professionals. Well, that's more than four, the member just heckled over, you know a maximum of four - well, there's a total of nine, there's a nine-member board on this one.

The role of the authority of the advisory council is something to be determined by the Governor in Council. So really, what the member has proposed here is not only to just create a board, it's well, you're going to let the Governor in Council figure out what the actual purpose of the legislation, except in place of the advisory council of citizens and health care professionals. So really it's a board, even though it has a wonderful title, it has no mandate.

[Page 842]

I have to say we've criticized this government about placing responsibilities on committees and consultants. I mean how many times am I going to stand in this House, and other members of our caucus, and talk about Dr. Ross, and putting him in between the decision-making process and trying to - what we would say is rag the puck in hockey - but it is ultimately to try to put a buffer on time, so that when the tough decisions can happen, they happen at a later date.

We've criticized this on a number of occasions and what this would do is create another group that you could either blame or herald, if they do some good. Ultimately the people who are responsible for health care in this province are we, the folks who are elected, folks who sit in this House of Assembly, this great House of Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, we don't need to create another level of government, another level of oversight. Again, we're overdone today. The intent to help the health care system is always welcomed by Nova Scotians, but given the content of this legislation, I don't believe that it would have the ability to address health care sustainability in a meaningful way.

Again, Mr. Speaker, we're elected to this House to talk to our constituents and not only do we have community boards working through district health authorities, we have our own constituency offices, we have our visits to the Tim Hortons, we have our visits to communities. I don't know how many times the member for Cape Breton North can be talked to about the closures at the Northside General Hospital, or I don't know how many times the member for Cape Breton West will sit and talk about Glace Bay or the other issues that are important to his constituents. Every one of us has our individuals who have special issues, but I'll tell you, a lot of them are very much the same.

Mr. Speaker, even though I thank the member for bringing this forward so we could have this discussion, I couldn't support Bill No. 20, an Act to Create a Provincial Advisory Council on the Sustainability of Health Care. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The honourable member for Kings West. His time will finish at 5:54 p.m.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise on Bill No. 20 and take a look at the merits of this proposed piece of legislation. What we've had so far today, I think, is good exposure of this bill, looking at some of the merits and some of the challenges around this bill. I like the idea of an advisory council that would have the direct ear of the minister in this case. There are many organizations, both governmental and non-governmental, that work with advisory boards, advisory councils.

[5:45 p.m.]

[Page 843]

In fact, this is a bit of a takeoff on what happens in Saskatchewan. Saskatchewan believes in a health quality council so strongly that they've actually - it's now evolved into a $10.5 million budget from government. So in other words, the investment there into a council is actually (Interruption) No, I'm just saying, this is what they do in Saskatchewan. If you take some of the conceptual idea of what is taking place there, they found so much merit that they would actually make it into a large paying proposition, so I suppose sometimes, if you invest and you can get the kind of returns, then perhaps there is value in this.

One of the things that we all know and my colleague brought forward, a case, for example, around the EVLT. To get that moving forward, if it isn't a doctor, if it isn't somebody in the higher echelons of administration, it may never get there. I can tell you from the household dinner talk, the greatest frustration that my wife, who was a professional, clinical site manager during the days of reform at Soldiers Memorial, and would have ideas about cost saving. As a manager she wanted to do the work efficiently and save money, to get the idea to the decision-maker and actually have it executed, the most difficult, the most frustrating part of her work, absolutely bar none. That's why an advisory council can have some merit.

Maybe the minister here didn't like the word sustainability advisory, because this is a minister who approved, for example, the over-resourcing on Digby Neck to solve what really should have been a minor problem, and an adjustment, and have the nurse practitioner who was there either continue, with certain criteria and a probationary period or whatever, or a replacement nurse practitioner. What did this minister do? Farm it out and on some days it is now costing the Department of Health almost $200 an hour because there is a doctor and a nurse practitioner who are serving the public.

It's a wonderful service, but if you're seeing five, six patients a day, not an hour, then the minister here, she's not as interested in sustainability as we would like her to be. We want her to be successful because it means good things for Nova Scotia, right? Absolutely, because it's going to be the delivery of health care as our baby boom generation moves through an even higher demand on the service. If we're looking at $3.6 billion now, you can be sure in 10 more years it will probably more than double just to maintain basic services. We have to bring forth whatever ideas that we possibly can to create the kinds of efficiencies.

I brought this up to the minister yesterday - and I thought she was going to be stronger in her response than I received - and that was to review administration operations of the DHAs for the purpose of recommending changes to governance structures. Well, if we have an advisory board of people who have had some time, perhaps in management, who excelled at this and could be a direct link to the minister, perhaps we could start to take a move on what is an unsustainable picture of administration currently in Nova Scotia.

The national average is 5.3 per cent of budgets going into administration. On the whole in Nova Scotia we're at 6.3 and it's really skewed, because Capital Health is under the

[Page 844]

national average at 4.6 per cent and we all know they have a huge amount of our budget; in the Annapolis Valley, 8.3 per cent, 3 full points above the national average; Cape Breton District Health Authority, 6 per cent, a little bit, again, close to the national average; Colchester East Hants Health Authority, 9.1 per cent; Cumberland Health Authority, 10 per cent, $1 in every 10 goes to administer a small system; Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority, 10.8 per cent; IWK Health Centre, 7 per cent; Pictou County Health Authority, 8.7 per cent; South Shore Health, 7.1 per cent; and South West Health is at the Nova Scotia average of 6.3 per cent.

That's what I call the emergency in dealing with our health care system, and this is an exact case of where an advisory council can say, you know, we have to make some changes, this is not sustainable, moving our health care system forward. So those kinds of statistics just jump off the page at us, and we know that where we need people is in the front lines. We need the front line of people.

In the health district that I live in, which I can best speak to, and again, you know, the one thing we can never really castigate in any way is the health care professionals, and again, the lead in our area, the CEO, Janet Knox, who has an open-door policy to receive people - but administration, you could literally watch it grow, because it had to move out of the hospital setting. We couldn't contain the administration, and so they moved to an entire new building. Remember, administration was not always at the Chipman Complex in the industrial park. It was not always there. It grew so big we had to find another venue, another place to have them work. So now we have a sense of urgency about filling all the cubicles that we must add to that layer, and that's why I think an advisory council can take a look at those kinds of areas.

I think things like having Lucentis brought in for treatment in our province, EVLT - I mean, I'm pleased the minister is wanting to put in place a midwifery, a Nova Scotia solution to the introduction of midwifery, but it's not something that we have to reinvent the wheel on. It has been practised for 20, 25 years in some of the health districts of Ontario, and again, it's a cost saving, and it is top-notch health care. So I think there's a lot of merit where the council would solicit the ideas, have the ear of the authority and of the minister to move those forward.

So I would hope that some of the ideas around a nine-member council would in fact be given strong consideration, and that this unbiased stakeholder professional group would in fact provide some benefit to the system. Taking a look currently at something like increasing residencies in Nova Scotia, again, is something that an advisory council could help with, getting front-line workers. With that, Mr. Speaker, my time has elapsed.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all of the honourable members on an excellent debate today.

[Page 845]

The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: That completes the Official Opposition's business for today, and I would like to turn it back to the Acting Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Acting Government House Leader.

MR. MAT WHYNOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to serve as Acting Government House Leader. That concludes government's business for today. The hours tomorrow, Thursday, April 15th, will be between 12:00 noon and 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we will have debate on Supply, followed by Government Business: Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill Nos. 1, 7, 13, 16, 18, 19, 22, 23, and 24.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet at the hour of 12:00 noon tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion for adjournment has been made. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 5:55 p.m.]