Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 10-25

 

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

FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 2010

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Justice - Correctional Facility (Cumb. Co.), Hon. M. Scott 1709
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Energy - Natural Gas Production in N.S.
(12-Year Retrospective) Rept., Hon. W. Estabrooks 1712
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 929, Fish. & Aquaculture: Coastal Strategy - Support,
Hon. S. Belliveau 1713
Vote - Affirmative 1714
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 55, Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act,
Hon. P. Paris 1714
No. 56, Special Places Protection Act,
Mr. A. Younger 1714
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 930, Cochran, Capt. Richard: Air Cadets - Serv. (30 Yrs.)
Mr. C. Porter 1714
Vote - Affirmative 1715
Res. 931, Long-Gun Registry - Abolition: MPs -
Constituents' Wishes, Mr. A. MacLeod 1715
Res. 932, MacCulloch, Terri - New7Wonders of Nature:
Bay of Fundy - Promotion, Hon. M. Scott 1716
Vote - Affirmative 1716
Res. 933, Morrison, Bruce: Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Bain 1717
Vote - Affirmative 1717
Res. 934, Doucet, Thomas & Gisèle: Argyle Mun. - Vol. Award,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1717
Vote - Affirmative 1718
Res. 935, Windsor United Baptist Church Youth Group:
Fundraising - Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 1718
Vote - Affirmative 1719
Res. 936, Justice - Police/Police Prep. Students Importance:
Recognize, Mr. A. MacLeod 1719
Vote - Affirmative 1720
Res. 937, Atkinson, Charlie - Springhill & Area C. of C. Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1720
Vote - Affirmative 1720
Res. 938, McGee, Beth - Environmental Network Award,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1721
Vote - Affirmative 1721
Res. 939, Lewis, Diane/Muise, Mary Elaine - Educ. Wk. Award,
Mr. K. Bain 1721
Vote - Affirmative 1722
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 52, Insurance Act
Hon. G. Steele 1722
Hon. M. Samson 1728
Mr. C. Porter 1735
Mr. L. Glavine 1746
Mr. A. MacMaster 1749
Hon. G. Steele 1755
Vote - Affirmative 1756
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. F. Corbett 1757
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. F. Corbett 1757
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., May 3rd at 4:00 p.m. 1758
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 940, Handley Page Squadron 689 - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Scott 1759
Res. 941, Brown, Chris: Album Release - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1759
Res. 942, Justice - Correctional Ctr.: Springhill Site - Reconsider,
Hon. M. Scott 1760
Res. 943, Prem.: Dexter Bus. - Leave,
Hon. M. Scott 1760
Res. 944, Jones, Joan - Parrsboro Bus. of Yr. Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1761
Res. 945, Parrsboro - Communities in Bloom Rating,
Hon. M. Scott 1761
Res. 946, Springhill HS Golden Eagles - NSSAF Girls Basketball
Championship, Hon. M. Scott 1762
Res. 947, Springhill HS Golden Eagles: Caledonia Reg.
HS Tournament - Congratulations, Hon. M. Scott 1762
Res. 948, Cumberland Singers: Haiti Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1763
Res. 949, Oxford Mini B Girls Basketball
- Cumberland/Westmorland Championship, Hon. M. Scott 1763
Res. 950, Reid, Margaret: Millvale United Church - Serv. (50 Yrs.),
Hon. M. Scott 1764
Res. 951, Warren, Nancy E.: Emmy Award - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1764
Res. 952, Vingoe, Mary: Merritt Award Nomination - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1765
Res. 953, Oxford Area Skating Club Starskaters: Medals - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1765
Res. 954, River Hebert/Communities: Haiti - Fundraising,
Hon. M. Scott 1766
Res. 955, Taylor, Susan - Paul Harris Fellowship Award (Posthumous),
Hon. M. Scott 1766
Res. 956, Corbett, William - Parrsboro & Dist. Bd. of Trade Bursary,
Hon. M. Scott 1767
Res. 957, Wheaton, William - Parrsboro & Dist. Bd. of Trade
Life Membership, Hon. M. Scott 1767
Res. 958, Henderson, John - Vol. of Year,
Hon. M. Scott 1768
Res. 959, McGregor, Karine - Parrsboro Vol. of Year,
Hon. M. Scott 1768
Res. 960, Spicer, Meggie - Soccer Accomplishments,
Hon. M. Scott 1769
Res. 961, Kossatz, Perry - Merritt Vol. of Yr. Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1769
Res. 962, White, Marley: N.S. Recycles Contest (2009/2010)
- Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1770
Res. 963, Cumb. Co. Blues - N.S. Jr. Hockey League
Championship, Hon. M. Scott 1771
Res. 964, Parrsboro Predators (Bantam & Midget):
Bluenose Tournament - Title, Hon. M. Scott 1771
Res. 965, Cumb. Health Auth. - Quality Work-Life Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1772
Res. 966, Walton, Brooke/Yorke, Kristen: N.S. Recycles Contest
(2009/2010) - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 1772
Res. 967, Canning, Evan: Bluenose Tournament
- Top Scorer Trophy, Hon. M. Scott 1773
Res. 968, Quinn, Patrick: Bluenose Tournament
- Top Defenceman Trophy, Hon. M. Scott 1773
Res. 969, Quinn, Ryan: Bluenose Tournament
- Top Defenceman Trophy, Hon. M. Scott 1774
Res. 970, Cobequid Fun-Tones - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. M. Scott 1774
Res. 971, Henderson, John - Vol. of Yr.,
Hon. M. Scott 1775

[Page 1709]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, APRIL 30, 2010

Sixty-first General Assembly

Second Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable members, I'm going to call the House to order here on the last day of the month, Friday.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, you're right, it is the last day of the month, but certainly not the last day of this petition. It is day 24 and, again, 24 days of broken promises. Of course, this petition was started as a result of a headline that reads, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory promises," and the prayer of this petition reads:

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

[Page 1710]

1709

Mr. Speaker, this petition is signed by 174 people, bringing the total today to 2,854, and I have signed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of privilege. Yesterday at the Law Amendments Committee we had many presenters appear before us and a request was made by our caucus, as well as the Liberal caucus, to have the opportunity to bring some of those concerns back to our caucus. That was denied - and I would like to table many bills that were at the Law Amendments Committee that were referred back to caucus - and the Law Amendments Committee met the next day. The fear is that we're setting a precedent here - that we have an opportunity to listen to presentations, but no opportunity to act on them.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask that you give a ruling on that point of privilege.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while it has been done from time to time in the past, it's not an ironclad rule. The reality is if members want to take that information back and caucus it, you have other stages in which to present amendments: Committee of the Whole House on Bills, third reading. So it has not always been a fact, it has not always been the convention in there, but from time to time, with all-Party agreement, I've seen it in minority situations where they have agreed to put it back. If they want to bring it back here and the House Leaders would want to get together and say, look, can you hold this back until we talk some more, we've been working quite well on that level. But more importantly, that is not the ironclad rule and I believe there is no point of privilege here.

[9:15 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I do rise in support of the point of privilege raised by the member for Victoria-The Lakes. While in full support of his point, I do so with some sense of reluctance, because I would have hoped that overnight the government would have had an opportunity to reflect on what took place at the Law Amendments Committee and that a compromise could have been reached. Unfortunately, it is very clear this morning that is not the case and that the government is not prepared to show the respect to the Opposition that it received while it was the Official Opposition here for many years.

Mr. Speaker, I've had the opportunity to sit on the Law Amendments Committee for the past 12.5 years under a Liberal Government, a Progressive Conservative majority, a

[Page 1711]

Progressive Conservative minority and now under an NDP minority (Interruption) Majority government, I should say, unfortunately. (Laughter) Thank you for reminding me of that.

Mr. Speaker, during the last number of years, you will note, with all due respect to the Government House Leader, he says that it is not an ironclad rule, I'm not really sure what is an ironclad rule in the British parliamentary system, but what we do rely on is tradition. I would submit to you that over the last number of years the tradition has been that whenever we have had presenters come before us at the Law Amendments Committee, the caucuses have taken that information and have gone back and reflected upon it and potentially brought forward some amendments based on that. I believe we owe that respect to the people who have taken the opportunity to come to the Legislature to express their views, that we would at least take that opportunity.

Now, the Government House Leader and the Minister of Finance and others will argue that it can be done at the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. Yes, it can. But, Mr. Speaker, you will note that we have not seen many amendments coming to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills in the last number of years. The reason for that has been that that debate has taken place in the Law Amendments Committee, which is a more informal setting, it is much easier to speak with Legislative Counsel, to speak with different members and make sure that there is clarity on amendments being brought forward. I would suggest to you that the Law Amendments Committee plays a vital role in this Legislature and has allowed us to have a very smoothly-operating Legislature, which I think is something we would like to see.

I remember the days where a Committee of the Whole House on Bills could consume up to 20 hours of debate on amendments. I would submit to you that we have not seen that in the last number of years because of the fact that there has been co-operation that has been shown at the Law Amendments Committee and, therefore, issues that had to be dealt with on amendments were dealt with there rather than being dealt with at committee and I'm sure a review of Hansard will see that most bills at the committee stage probably take a number of minutes to de dealt with rather than the usual 20 hours of debate, which I recall in 1998-99 and other years.

So, yesterday, I took as much opportunity as possible to suggest to the chairman that he recess, that he check with the Clerk of the House of Assembly and that he reflect on what the precedent had been on the committee. While he did recess, it is unclear as to who he spoke with but it was clear at that point that the chairman was not prepared to look at the precedent and instead was forcing a vote on the motion brought forward by the member for Cape Breton Nova to refer the bill back without giving an opportunity for members to be able to go back, review the presentations made and the amendments.

So I would suggest to you, Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, the action of the chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I do believe was a breach of the privileges of the

[Page 1712]

members of this House and I would also remind the Speaker, as I reminded the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee yesterday, that there already has been a case where the Speaker of the House has found the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee to have breached the privileges of the members of this House.

I was a member of the House at the time, I was a member of the Law Amendments Committee at the time. Ironically, I was the one who rose on that point of privilege back then when the Speaker did find that the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee had violated the privileges. Although some of the circumstances are a bit different, I would submit to you that this is another clear example of the chairman of the Law Amendments Committee having breached the privileges of the members of this House and I would encourage you to review what took place and make your ruling based on that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. Certainly the Law Amendments Committee is a very important component and plays a very important role in our legislative process, there's no question about that. I am going to need some time to review this matter. There are some precedents that have been set in the past, based on practice more so than our Rule Book. I'm going to have to review those before I make a final decision.

However, in the meantime, I would certainly encourage the three House Leaders to perhaps come together in a spirit of co-operation, I guess similar to what is being done in our federal Parliament right now where the Speaker has asked the Parties to come together to look for compromise on their issue. In that same spirit I would ask our three Party House Leaders today or over the weekend, before Monday, to come together and see if there is a compromise, a solution here.

I will rule, probably on Monday, on the issue but in the interim, I would ask our House Leaders to get together and in a spirit of co-operation see if we can find a middle ground here.

Okay, moving on then on the daily routine.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Excuse the voice, or lack of. I would like to table a report entitled 12-Year Retrospective of Natural Gas Production in Nova Scotia. This report shows that the offshore energy industry plays a big role in making life better for Nova Scotians. Between 1996 and 2007 Nova Scotia's offshore natural gas industry employed about 3,200 Nova Scotians annually. They came in a variety of professional trades and technical areas, for a total income of more than $115 million a year.

[Page 1713]

Mr. Speaker, I offer this report as evidence of our need to continue to seek new investment and new exploration in our offshore. It has clear importance for our economy but also natural gas has a role to play in meeting our 2020 renewable target, as a cleaner burning energy source that can back up the wind and tidal resources.

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure that I table the report 12-Year Retrospective of Natural Gas Production in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, with your indulgence and the indulgence of the House, I would like to do an introduction before reading the resolutions, if I could, please.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today we have members of my department of the Coastal Management Team. The staff members are part of the inter-department organization called Provincial Ocean Network. This group is working hard to develop a coordinated and strategic approach to coastal management.

The members joining us today are David Mitchell, Justin Huston and Sean Weseloh McKeane. I ask the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 929

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

Whereas with 13,300 kilometres of coastline, Nova Scotia is closely linked to the ocean, and coastal areas have played a significant role in making our province what it is today; and

Whereas this government recognized the importance of our coast by making a commitment to advance coastal issues and support coastal communities; and

[Page 1714]

Whereas the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture's coastal management team is engaging Nova Scotians by pressing coastal issues, to gain valuable input as part of the development of a coastal strategy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House support the development of a coastal strategy for Nova Scotia, to encourage citizens by providing input into the strategy and participation in the open houses being held during May in communities across the 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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 8 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Internal Trade Agreement Implementation Act. (Hon. Percy Paris)

Bill No. 56 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 438 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Special Places Protection Act, to Require the Designation of Certain Lands of Archeological Importance to the Shubenacadie Canal. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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

[Page 1715]

Whereas the Royal Canadian Air Cadets is a Canadian national youth program for persons aged 12 to 18, and together with the Royal Canadian Sea Cadets and the Royal Canadian Army Cadets it forms the largest federally-funded youth program in the country; and

Whereas Captain Richard Cochran of Windsor, Hants County, will be retiring after more than 30 years of dedicated service with the 106 Windsor Regional Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, where he has given so much of his time and effort towards youth development; and

Whereas on May 1, 2010, Captain Cochran will be the reviewing officer for this year's parade with the 106 Windsor Regional Royal Canadian Air Cadet Squadron, which will be a great way to honour all he has done for the cadets;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend Captain Richard Cochran on his 30 years of service and wish him all the best in his retirement.

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 Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas on May 15, 2009, Conservative MP Candice Hoeppner introduced Bill C-391, an Act to Amend the Criminal Code and the Firearms Act (repeal of the long-gun registry), which would kill the billion-dollar boondoggle; and

[Page 1716]

Whereas eight Liberal Members of Parliament and 12 New Democratic Members of Parliament voted against their Parties and with the wishes of their constituents, the people they were elected to represent, to abolish the long-gun registry; and

Whereas Cape Breton-Canso Liberal MP Rodger Cuzner insists that it is more important for Liberal Members of Parliament to believe what their Leader, Michael Ignatieff, tells them to believe rather than vote the way their constituents asked them to vote on this important issue;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud any Member of Parliament who is willing to stand with their constituents to abolish the long-gun registry in Canada.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 932

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

Whereas since September 2, 2006, Terri McCulloch of Parrsboro has been blogging about the Bay of Fundy, and was one of the driving forces behind having the Bay of Fundy nominated as one of the New7Wonders of Nature; and

Whereas the Bay of Fundy, with its highest tides on the planet, its diverse ecosystem, and its coastal rock formations and fossils is the only Canadian location in the final 28 natural wonders in the world; and

Whereas being chosen as one of the finalists in this global competition has raised the profile of the Bay of Fundy, and Nova Scotia, to potential visitors from around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Terri McCulloch on her many years of promoting the numerous attractions of the Bay of Fundy, and encourage all members of this Legislature and all Canadians to join Nova Scotians in voting for our country's greatest natural wonder to get the Bay of Fundy listed as one of the New7Wonders of Nature. Remember, every vote counts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1717]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[9:30 a.m.]

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas on Friday, April 30th, Bruce Morrison of Baddeck retires after 35 years of service to the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas over those 35 years Bruce has worked for three different government departments as well as the Cape Breton District Health Authority; and

Whereas Mr. Morrison continues to serve as municipal councillor for the Baddeck area as well as warden for the Municipality of the County of Victoria;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Bruce Morrison of Baddeck on his retirement, thank him for his years of service and wish him many years of health and happiness.

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.

[Page 1718]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 934

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas April 18 to 24, 2010 was Volunteer Week 2010 throughout the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas on Friday, April 23rd the Royal Canadian Legion in Wedgeport hosted the Annual Volunteer Dinner for the Municipality of Argyle; and

Whereas two of the 20 volunteers honoured were husband and wife Thomas and Gisèle Doucet from Sluice Point in the Municipality of Argyle for their devotion of time and tireless effort to various causes in their community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Thomas and Gisèle Doucet on being honoured by the Municipality of Argyle and thank them, as well as all volunteers, for their dedication to others and wish them continued good fortune.

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 Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 935

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

[Page 1719]

Whereas famine is a widespread scarcity of food that can apply to any species and is usually accompanied by regional malnutrition, starvation, epidemic, and increased mortality; and

Whereas Maria Riley, Kelsey Hubley, Justin Ehler, Alex Pemberton, Bronwyn Spencer, Kayla Kidd, Erica Porter, Caitlin Seaward, Emilie Labrasseur and Jessie Porter from the youth group at the Windsor United Baptist Church along with their leaders, Allison Friars, Derek Ehler, Sharon White, Adam Pearce, Tracy Burgess, and Lois Kidd recently completed a 30-Hour Famine to raise awareness and money for World Vision; and

Whereas participating in events such as this will help our youth understand and appreciate what other children experience in less fortunate parts of the world, and will instill in them the importance of helping others;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the youth group from the Windsor United Baptist Church on their fundraising efforts and wish them all the best with future 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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 936

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

Whereas police and student volunteers from CBU's Police Prep Program are bringing a fingerprinting program into schools in East Division in Cape Breton; and

Whereas this program is designed to help ensure the safety of our children by having fingerprints on file, a process that can save countless hours of profile building for police in the event that something happens to a child; and

[Page 1720]

Whereas these student volunteers will be participating in more police week activities, including tutoring students, adopt a library, and school talks;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in recognizing the important work that our police services and police prep students do in keeping our communities safe and informed about good safety practices, an important part of the legacy left by the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia who implemented 150 new police positions in Nova Scotia since 2006.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

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

Whereas Charlie Atkinson of Springhill would agree that being named this year's Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce's Businessperson of the Year was three generations in the making; and

Whereas the Atkinson family name has been associated with good business since the family plumbing and heating business first opened its doors in 1924, operated by Charlie's grandfather, and when Charlie went on to earn his higher education, he returned home to help run the family business alongside his father, Herbie; and

Whereas while today, the pipefitting wrenches have been retired for all-terrain vehicles and motorcycles, business owner and award recipient Charlie Atkinson continues to bring a level of service to the community and abroad, through Central Powersport, that you can only get from a family organization;

[Page 1721]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Charlie Atkinson on being named Springhill and Area Chamber of Commerce's Businessperson of the Year and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 938

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Seabright resident, Beth McGee, is this year's winner of the Nickerson Lifetime Achievement Award presented by the Nova Scotia Environmental Network's Eco-Hero Annual Awards; and

Whereas she received this award for having a long and impressive legacy of environmental stewardship and leadership in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ms. McGee is the current Chair of Five Bridges Wilderness Trust and a member of the Chebucto Wilderness Coalition, St. Margaret's Bay Stewardshp Association, as well as other environmental organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Beth McGee of Seabright on winning this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1722]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 939

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

Whereas Provincial Education Week took place last week and it is an important event that allows the community at large to recognize the outstanding work accomplished by our teachers; and

Whereas this year's theme was Equity in Education: Supporting all Students; and

Whereas two Cape Breton teachers, Diane Lewis of Memorial High School and Mary Elaine Muise, a circuit guidance counsellor based at Thompson Junior High, have both won awards for their outstanding work in promoting equity in education;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join with me in recognizing the great work all of our teachers do to educate students and to congratulate Diane Lewis, Mary Elaine Muise, and all other nominees for their awards and nomination at the Provincial Education Week Awards.

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.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1723]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Insurance Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today in my place as Minister responsible for the Insurance Act and I'm pleased to rise on second reading of Bill No. 52 which contains some important amendments to the Insurance Act. The intent of this bill is to address concerns about the fairness of the existing cap on pain and suffering awards for minor injuries resulting from automobile accidents. Some of the changes being made, Mr. Speaker, are in the Statute and some are proposed for the regulations and, of course, only these proposed statutory changes are before this House and in this bill although at points in this speech I will be referring to the proposed regulatory changes as well. It is our belief that Nova Scotians need access to appropriate automobile insurance coverage at premiums that are affordable and stable. At the same time, the system must provide fair compensation to people who are injured in automobile accidents.

Allow me to take a few minutes to review the context for automobile insurance regulation in this province. Under the current laws and regulations, every automobile used on Nova Scotia's public roadways must be insured. Regulations define mandatory benefits that must be included in all standard automobile insurance policies. Automobiles are required to have coverage for third-party liability and medical benefits for people who are injured in automobile accidents. In the event of an accident, insurance benefits are available to help insured parties defray certain costs. Injured parties may claim compensation from the at-fault party for certain losses that occur. Economic awards are available to provide compensation for damages such as medical costs, rehabilitation expenses, funeral expenses, death benefits, loss of income, loss of earning capacity, loss of housekeeping capacity, and past and future medical expenses.

It is important to make clear that the amendments to the Insurance Act we are proposing in Bill No. 52, and indeed, the minor injury cap provisions we are replacing, do not affect and never did affect these standard economic and monetary awards. This bill speaks only to the category of compensation known to some as general damages and to others as pain and suffering awards and to others as non-pecuniary loss. Whatever this category of compensation is called, it is not based on a quantifiable loss of income or on an

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expense. Pain and suffering awards are intended to compensate for pain, inconvenience, lost enjoyment, lost amenities, and expectations of life.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, and as all members of this House will know, these awards have been subject to a cap of $2,500 since 2003, when the government of the day made a series of changes to insurance legislation and regulations. I cannot, of course, speak to the intent of the government of the day that introduced those reforms. However, members of this government believe strongly that this cap on pain and suffering has not been fair to many Nova Scotians who have unfortunately been victims of automobile accidents since 2003. It has been our belief since that time that the minor injury cap needed to change. That is why a review of the cap was a priority for our government during the first year of our mandate.

Insurance is a very complicated policy area. Nova Scotia has a competitive, market-driven automobile insurance system which is delivered by a large network of insurers, brokers, and agents. Automobile insurance rates are regulated by the Utility and Review Board. Insurance companies must seek board approval for insurance rates and risk classifications every two years for private passenger vehicles and every three years for other vehicles.

These submissions outline the insurance premiums companies believe they need to charge to offer a competitive insurance product, provide a reasonable rate of return to their shareholders, and set aside enough funds to cover the cost of accident claims. By definition, the setting of insurance rates involves complex predictions and estimates about factors such as the likelihood and cost of accidents, both to drivers themselves and the insurance companies that underwrite those policies. It is not an exact science, and the regulatory environment is unlikely to suit everyone's needs perfectly all the time. However, when there is obvious unfairness in a system, as we believe there has been since 2003, something must be done.

The Department of Finance, through the Office of the Superintendent of Insurance, conducted extensive analysis of various options. We consulted widely on the subject of awards for pain and suffering related to automobile insurance. As expected, responses to our January discussion paper confirmed that there is a range of opinions about the cap and how well it has been working. I encourage all members of this House and all citizens of the province with an interest in this subject to review the summary of our discussion paper responses that are now posted on the Department of Finance Web site. People who have been injured in automobile accidents said in their responses to the discussion paper that they don't feel the cap is fair, particularly when a so-called "minor injury" has had a major impact on their lives. They told us that the amount of the cap isn't high enough, that the legal definitions are confusing, and that it is difficult to get legal representation for cases that might involve minor injuries.

[9:45 a.m.]

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Some members of the legal community also suggested the current cap is unfair, and generally supported a return to a system of personal injury law as it was prior to 2003, without statutory limitation. Some members of the insurance industry reminded us of the need for certainty and clarity in the law so that they can properly underwrite risks, write policies, and administer claims.

In light of these varied concerns, we commissioned actuaries to explore various alternatives to the cap and assess whether and to what extent changes to the cap would cause a rise in insurance premiums. A summary of that report is also on the Department of Finance Web site, and once again I would encourage all members of this House and all citizens with an interest in the topic to review that document.

The legislative changes introduced in this bill and the related regulatory changes are the result of our analysis of all of this information and careful consideration of all the possible alternatives to the cap. That is why we propose in this bill that the existing cap on pain and suffering awards for minor injuries be removed and that the existing cap be replaced with a package of reform measures, as follows:

First, we propose to amend the definition of "minor injury" to reflect more closely what an ordinary person would think of as a minor injury. Specifically, the definition will focus on strains, sprains, and whiplash-associated disorders, mirroring the definition that has been in place in Alberta since 2004. Under the old definition almost any injury could be considered a minor injury if it resolved within 12 months. The new legislation and proposed new regulations will ensure that the cap captures only sprains, strains, or whiplash-associated disorders that do not result in serious impairment.

It should be noted that we have not used the term "soft tissue" to describe the type of minor injuries that we mean. That term means different things to different people, and we want to ensure that an injury to the brain, for example, which is a form of soft tissue, could not be considered a minor injury. In addition, we recognize that even some sprains, strains, and whiplash-associated disorders may have serious consequences. For that reason, we propose to amend the minor injury definition to exclude any injury that causes a serious impairment - a term that will be defined in the regulations.

The regulations will also make clear that the cap will not apply to anyone who sustains injuries that are so serious they cannot perform the essential tasks of their employment, training, or education, or if they cannot perform the normal activities of daily living, provided that their injury has been ongoing since the accident and is not expected to improve substantially.

The new definition explicitly states what types of injuries should be considered minor. Other injuries, such as scars and disfigurement, psychological injuries, and brain injuries will be outside the limit.

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Mr. Speaker, I know we have some special guests in the gallery and I would like to allow for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the Minister of Finance for interrupting his presentation on the Insurance Act. I'd like to thank Primary-Grade 1 class, Ms. Carol Blair and her students, for sitting through this second reading of the Insurance Act.

Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery today is Ms. Carol Blair and chaperones Judy Pizzariello, Adam Gascoigne, Carieme Parquet, Shelley Thompson, and Pam Cox. Ms. Blair and her Primary classroom at Saint Mary's Elementary, among other things, have been keepers of the Sconestone during the month of April. This stone has travelled internationally to promote acts of kindness among the speakers. Ms. Blair and her class have been practising acts of kindness in April - not just in April, I should say - and beyond that. I'd like to thank Ms. Blair and the chaperones and the Primary class for being keepers of the Sconestone and for promoting acts of kindness in our community.

To me, Ms. Blair and her classroom really represent all that is great and good in our public school system. I'd like to give them a warm welcome to this House and I'd like them to stand and receive the welcome to this House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. We welcome all of our special guests here this morning and hope they enjoy the proceedings of the House.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if I might add my own personal welcome to our guests. I have to say you are all behaving very, very well. You are a model to us all. For our guests I just want to mention that what I'm talking about today is about car accidents and what happens if you're in an accident. I just want to encourage everybody to use your booster seat and your seatbelt at all times. (Applause)

We are proposing through regulation to further define whiplash associated disorder known in the business as WAD injuries. The intent is that mild to moderate WAD injuries will be captured by the cap, but more severe WAD injuries will not be captured by the cap.

More severe injuries would exhibit neurological signs or a fracture to, or a dislocation of, the spine.

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Overall the changes to this definition mean that far fewer injuries will now be considered minor injuries. The definition will be clearer, less complex and should be easier to interpret, leading to fewer disputes over whether an injury is or is not minor.

The second major change we are proposing in this bill is to increase the upper limit for pain and suffering awards. As stated earlier, victims of automobile accidents will continue to receive awards for economic and monetary losses if appropriate. However, the new limit for pain and suffering related to minor injuries, defined as I have previously outlined, will go up to $7,500. Indexing will ensure that it increases with the cost of living each year.

The new limit is three times higher than the existing minor injury cap. It will also be highest among those provinces with similar, market-based insurance systems such as we have in Nova Scotia. We believe that $7,500 is a more-fair limit for compensation for pain and suffering related to a minor injury resulting from an automobile accident.

The third feature of this legislation relates to the introduction of optional, full tort coverage. Insurance companies will be required to offer consumers the choice to purchase automobile insurance with uncapped, full tort access - in essence, a policy that will remove any cap on pain and suffering awarded for minor injuries. But the optional, full tort coverage will need more work. It will be developed as part of the broader insurance review that we will complete - as promised - before the end of this fiscal year. We have to look carefully at how that full tort option will be implemented and priced.

I want to mention a few things that are specifically not included in our proposed legislation nor in the associated proposed regulations. Under the current minor injury definition if an injury resolves within one year it is considered to be a minor injury. We are not including this concept of "resolved" in the amended legislation. We believe this provision added unnecessary complexity to the determination of whether an injury is or is not minor.

We also propose to remove explicit reference to the burden of proof from the regulations. The 2003 regulations put the burden of proof on the plaintiff. By removing this provision from the regulations, it is the intention of the government that ordinary common-law rules respecting onus should apply.

The new measures will apply to accidents occurring on or after April 28, 2010, which is the date the bill was introduced in this House. The statutory amendments and associated regulatory changes will come into force on July 1, 2010, to allow insurance companies time to make necessary system changes.

We know that some people would prefer that the changes we are proposing today would be retroactive to a previous date. I can say that this was something we looked at very

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closely, and we even asked our actuary to study the cost. However, after careful consideration we believe it is not reasonable nor desirable to attempt to reach into the past and deem the law to be different from what it was. There is a good reason why it is exceptionally rare that a law is passed with retroactive effect.

As the House will recall, there was a constitutional challenge of this 2003 automobile insurance regime and it was ultimately rejected by Nova Scotia's highest court, the Court of Appeal. The courts have ruled that the government at that time had the proper constitutional and legal authority to make the changes it did. Aside from the legal considerations, applying today's legislation to circumstances of the past is fundamentally impractical. We don't know, and nobody knows, how many cases would be involved, how much those cases would cost to process, or whether there would be other factors that would alter the actuarial assumptions underlying the bill that we are debating today.

Overall, retroactive application of these amendments would cause a level of uncertainty in the insurance environment that's not consistent with affordability and stability, two of the other values that we are trying to balance with the increased fairness of these reforms. The changes we are proposing in this legislation are for the future.

Many consumers might be wondering if their automobile insurance premiums will have to increase as a result of these changes. As I stated earlier, insurance is a complex field and there are many factors that can affect insurance premiums over time. However, our actuarial analysis indicates that it will not be necessary for premiums to increase as a result of these reforms. We expect that the insurance industry will easily be able to absorb these changes without increases in premiums and, of course, any proposed changes in rates would have to be justified to the Utility and Review Board.

In addition to this review of the minor injury cap, the government will conduct a broader review of automobile insurance this fiscal year. This will give us more time to consider other insurance issues and make needed improvements as necessary.

In conclusion, the amendments we are proposing to the Insurance Act and the related regulatory changes that our government will be bringing forward will have the practical effect of getting more compensation to more people. For those to whom the cap does apply, the compensation would be more fair, while retaining a maximum limit on pain and suffering awards for minor injuries that will keep a check on insurance industry claims costs. At the same time, then, it will help premiums remain stable over the longer term.

We believe this package of reforms represents the best possible combination of measures. These reforms balance concerns about the fairness of the minor injury cap for people injured in automobile accidents with the need for stable, affordable insurance coverage for everyone in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

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[10:00 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HON. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I can say that it's a pleasure to rise to speak on the Insurance Act - it is almost like a nightmare that has come back. I can tell you that I'm pleased that our guests who are here had the chance to visit, but I'm also pleased they are no longer present because I'm not sure if I'll be able to hold the stone and perform any acts of kindness this morning. (Laughter) And I can tell you that I'm certainly pleased that our visitors weren't at the Law Amendments Committee yesterday, because they wouldn't have seen too many acts of kindness from this government towards the Opposition members at the committee yesterday.

It is with mixed emotions that I speak on Bill No. 52, the Insurance Act and the proposed changes being made. I had the opportunity to be a member of this Legislature during the difficult period of time in 2003 when changes were brought forward to the Insurance Act. At the time insurance rates in Nova Scotia, especially automobile insurance rates, were becoming unaffordable for many Nova Scotians. Many were choosing not to get insurance coverage and were driving as a result, which clearly is not something that we want to see on the roads of this province and it is contrary to our laws. So, at the time, Mr. Speaker, all political Parties were trying to find a way to suggest to Nova Scotians how stability might be brought to that system.

I recall, Mr. Speaker, it was leading up to a general election, and prior to the election our caucus had been working on trying to find a means of bringing some stability and the debate was whether we should release our campaign platform prior to the campaign or whether we should hold it. It was decided that we should release it prior to the election and give Nova Scotians exactly what the Liberal plan was for auto insurance.

So the plan at the time, under the Liberal proposal, would have brought a 15 per cent reduction in automobile insurance rates, and within a week of us announcing that, the government of the day, the Progressive Conservative Party, came out with their plan, which would have brought a 20 per cent cut to auto insurance rates. They went on to continue that through the election campaign, saying that their plan was better than the Liberal plan because it was a 20 per cent cut compared to a 15 per cent cut. So it was a tough political lesson for the Liberal Party as far as the merits of releasing your plan prior to an election campaign and what other Parties may do with it as a result.

Mr. Speaker, I've talked about the Liberal plan and talked about the Progressive Conservative plan, but you may be wondering, and possibly even some of the members of the government now might be wondering, what was their Party's plan in 2003? Well, their plan was public auto insurance, something we haven't heard about for some reason in quite a long time. (Interruption) And as one of the members reminds me, not yet, because the

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underlying question in all of this is, are we going down the slippery slope of government trying to justify public auto insurance in this province, as has been done by the provinces of which they are so fond? Saskatchewan and Manitoba, I believe, are the two that have these systems in place.

So what we have here, Mr. Speaker, is that we had the NDP in this House - many members of the government now weren't members at the time so they would have missed this opportunity - we got to sit here and listen to the current Minister of Finance, the Premier as the Leader of the Official Opposition, and a number of others, bring us stories of injured Nova Scotians who had fallen under the cap and were not receiving the compensation that they deserved. The NDP said they would change that. Going into the election campaign, the Premier indicated that he would eliminate the cap completely and put in a deductible system.

That was their campaign platform. They said that they would help accident victims, those who the courts had determined the cap was valid and were not able to get more than $2,500, they would change all of that. That was their commitment during the election campaign. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance, himself, openly mused about retroactivity in the changes that he would be bringing forward - nobody else but the Minister of Finance. So all of these accident victims whom they brought their plight to the floor of this House were led to believe that the NDP, if they voted for them, would make life better for them and would made retroactive changes to the Insurance Act.

Just mere months ago, the Minister of Finance again said he was examining the issue of retroactivity. So today he stands in the House and he explains how retroactivity is a bad idea.

When you look from a legal perspective and what the courts have said, well, Mr. Speaker, that's not new and the minister knew that when he made those comments about examining retroactivity. So we have to ask ourselves, and Nova Scotians have to ask themselves, was he being sincere when he said it because he's an intelligent man. He didn't just learn what the impact of retroactivity would be on legislation, what the financial costs would be, or maybe he's using the same argument of, well, we didn't know what the financial implications would be - the same as they're arguing we didn't know what situation the province's books were in.

Only members of the NDP Government, and I think they still believe this. Some of them probably are wise enough that they don't believe it either, but no Nova Scotian is buying that, that they didn't know what the books of the province were. No one is buying that. Now to hear the Minister of Finance say, I can't do retroactivity because there are legal implications, everything else, it's not often it's ever done and there are reasons for that, then why did he say it? I know in this House you're not allowed to impute motive - Nova Scotians will have to draw their own conclusions. I think the members of the NDP Government and the backbenchers will have to ask themselves, was he being sincere when he made that

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comment or were people being led on - injured people, people who had fallen under this cap and had still sustained significant injuries. They're the ones today who are sitting back and saying thanks to the NDP Government and they're saying thanks for nothing because they get nothing out of these changes. They've been thrown aside. They voted NDP, they helped to get this government elected, and now they've been thrown aside.

Well, that list is growing, Mr. Speaker, because yesterday we heard about the 12,000 retired civil servants in this province who have also been tossed aside. That list is growing and this bill is another reflection of those who are suddenly being tossed aside by the NDP Government because injured Nova Scotians were very useful to the NDP in this House, made for great stories, made for great questions in Question Period, made for great headlines, but now that the election is over they've been tossed aside with Bill No. 52. The minister says he has consulted widely on this. What happened to injured Nova Scotians? Where did their consultations go because they're not the ones who publicly said there should be retroactivity. The Minister of Finance said that - no one else - but that didn't happen.

Mr. Speaker, one of the biggest challenges in 2003 when the changes were made was what had been agreed upon in the legislation and what showed up in the regulations was something different. That's the challenge when you're asked to look at legislation like this that has so much of the meaning and the definition left to regulations. Had we seen the regulations back in 2003, our vote would have been different but the government of the day said, no, no, here's our intention, here's what we plan on doing, and then went in the back Cabinet Room, wrote up regulations which clearly increased the definition of minor injury from what had been agreed.

So there's a lesson for us to learn about the perils of allowing government to go back and to make regulations outside of this Chamber. So we've learned that lesson, or have we? Because Bill No. 52 is being presented to us with the Minister of Finance saying the definitions will be in the regulations which the NDP Cabinet will go and write outside of this Chamber.

Mr. Speaker, why won't he table those regulations here in the House because if he wants to table them, let him table them right here in the House and let him table them now. That's all he has to do. Let Nova Scotians see exactly what are the definitions that are going to be in those regulations. (Interruption) I'm wondering, when I hear the Minister of Finance telling my colleague, the member for Kings West, to see regulations, I'm curious if my colleague, the member for Kings West, had to sign the same confidentiality agreement that the Minister of Finance apparently made the NSGEU sign when it came to the issue of pension changes that were told to us yesterday.

So the open and accountable NDP Government is getting Nova Scotians to sign confidentiality agreements when they're bringing them in for discussions. So now when it comes to injured Nova Scotians, all of a sudden once again we do not get to see the

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regulations and we're asked, all legislators, to be voting on something that's going to have changes which clearly are going to affect Nova Scotians. One of the challenges here is when you talk about changes to the insurance industry most Nova Scotians don't appreciate the impact, because all of us hope that we will never get injured in an automobile, so most Nova Scotians today have little to no interest in what we're doing. Those who are injured realize they are getting nothing, so that's their interest, and that's the reality of the NDP majority government that they're coming to realize.

The average Nova Scotian doesn't appreciate what moving the cap from $2,500 to $7,500 means. What is that going to do when they haven't been injured and hope to never be injured? The definition of minor injury that is going to be set out in the regulations, what is that going to mean? It is up to us, as legislators, realizing that most Nova Scotians don't appreciate how these changes may affect them one day, to try to do our best to ensure the changes that are put in place do really have the impact that is being suggested.

When one talks about sprains, strains, and whiplash - that needs to be defined. We need to be able to see exactly what those regulations are saying. If the Minister of Finance has already shared it with certain members of the House, I see no reason why he can't table it and tell the House, these are the exact regulations that will be adopted. Now I believe that he has probably shared, in generalities, what the regulations will look like, but unless the regulations are presented to us as they will be by Cabinet - to simply give us a general discussion of what they will look like is not good enough.

Mr. Speaker, we went down that road before and we should have learned a lesson from that, but apparently this government is trying to do the same thing. Trust us - well, injured Nova Scotians trusted them, to their sorrow, 12,000 retired civil servants in Nova Scotia trusted them, to their sorrow, how many more are going to have to find out, being told to trust the government, only to see what has happened.

The minister has indicated that he wants to make sure, that even with the minor injury definition, that there will be a definition on serious impairment, that even if you initially might have been considered a minor injury, if it does continue to become a serious impairment, that should take you outside the cap. I looked through the bill and I looked for the definition of serious impairment. Guess what? It's not there. It is in the regs that have not been presented to this House is what the Minister of Finance says, and I know the minister hasn't presented in the House, and I appreciate him reminding me that he has not presented those regulations here in this House. I am at a bit of a loss why he won't do it, but I'm glad that he keeps reminding me that he has chosen not to present them here in this Chamber. I thank him for being ever so useful in assisting me in this debate.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the minister stands and speaks about wanting to bring in a system of optional, full tort coverage, yet the minister tells us, I have no idea what it is going to look like. So we're talking about something that is going to be made available to Nova Scotians

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today, and being asked to vote on a bill that we have no idea what it is going to look like. We have no idea what the cost will be, we have no idea how it is going to be set up. That certainly is of great concern to us.

Mr. Speaker, what I find unfortunate in this, is that if we are going to look at the insurance system and how it impacts injured Nova Scotians, there seems to have been no consideration for making changes to what has been known as the Section B benefits - the benefits involving economic loss and monetary awards. Having attended the recent dinner put on by the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia, a number of them said it is time to review what is being paid under the Section B benefits. They have not been increased in a significant amount of time, and it is time to do a review of that. Yet, unfortunately, the minister had an opportunity to look at this. All indications are, from looking at Bill No. 52, and listening to his comments, there has been no consideration given to that. Then the minister stands in the House and says these changes will have no impact on auto insurance rates. The Minister of Community Services says they shouldn't. Well, now, we can all hope, cross our fingers and hope that it doesn't go up.

Do we have proof of that? Has the minister gotten an agreement from the insurance industry that says, yes, we agree with your changes, we will not increase rates as a result of these changes? He doesn't. But he says, don't worry, because if they want to increase rates, they have to go to the URB. It's true. The URB has certainly proven to be an independent board. They will look at what the industry brings forward and if the industry says it needs an increase and justifies it, they will more than likely be permitted to increase rates. The government really will have no say in it.

[10:15 a.m.]

I can already predict what will happen. If the rates are going to increase, the Minister of Finance will stand in his place and say, shucks, the URB is an independent body, I have no control over it, there's nothing I can do, my God we feel bad for you, Nova Scotians, but really there's nothing we can do. That'll be the political excuse.

We've heard that, and, as many, I know the NDP calls them conspiracy theorists, we believe that increased rates are opening the door for the NDP to move towards a public auto insurance system. Only time will tell. They certainly were very enthusiastic about it in the past, and they suddenly went silent when they saw that that dog just wasn't hunting here in Nova Scotia. They decided it was time to move on and abandon that plan - or at least move it to the back burner, I should say, rather than abandoning. I don't think it has ever been abandoned. (Interruption)

The Minister of Natural Resources says they have more seats in the election because of me, because injured Nova Scotians who thought the NDP would help them voted for them; 12,000 retired civil servants who thought their pensions would be safe under the NDP

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voted for them. How many others voted for the NDP only to find out the reality of what it is? I have to share this because yesterday when Dave Peters made a presentation at the Law Amendments Committee, I asked Mr. Peters, you've been around this place a long time, you've been at these committees, and you've heard the NDP consistently criticize the previous administrations for lack of consultation, how do you turn your mind to explain what they did on pension indexing for retired civil servants? His answer was very simple: Nova Scotians got what they asked for.

I think that's a line that you're going to hear in this Chamber for weeks, months, and hopefully not many more years to come. Nova Scotians got what they asked for. Injured Nova Scotians who thought this government was going to fix the wrongs of the minor injury cap got what they asked for. Retired civil servants, whose pension indexing got taken away from them without even being told other than the phone call from the minister the day before the budget, got what they asked for.

That's what we're seeing in this bill. Once again, the NDP who joined us in Opposition in calling for the government to show regulations on such important issues - instead, now the Minister of Finance continues to remind me today that he has the regulations or supposed regulations, but he's not prepared to share them with the members of the House of Assembly.

Again, it looks like Nova Scotians got what they asked for. A Party that lamented so much what governments of the past did is quite happy now in government to do exactly what previous government had done as well. There was a lesson, a hard lesson, for us when the insurance changes were made in 2003. As I mentioned before, in such sensitive matters there needs to be an ability for the members of the Legislature to see the regulations and those definitions here in the Chamber. Nowhere else but here in the Chamber - not at meetings with the Minister of Finance in his office or at briefings, but here on the floor of this Legislature.

Yet today, unfortunately, when I hear the minister talk about serious impairment, it's all in the regulations. As a legislator being asked to discuss a bill and being asked to vote on a bill on behalf of the constituents and residents of Richmond County, I have to say I don't know what "serious impairment" is going to be by definition in this bill. I haven't seen the definitions of what "minor injury" will be. There is some reference made to it, but as far as the exact legal language that will be used, it's not there. That makes it extremely difficult for us to be able to do our jobs as legislators.

Again, I know the Minister of Finance will stand and say, well, how often have you seen regulations before, but this is a government that said they'd do things differently. They really told Nova Scotians, we will do things differently. We saw at the Law Amendments Committee how they did things differently. They took what used to be a process of consensus, a process of working forward in co-operation and they brought down the hammer.

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Yet, here today in the Chamber again, we have the Minister of Finance saying, well, I'm not going to show this House the regulations because other governments didn't show the regulations. For Nova Scotians who voted NDP because they wanted a government that would do things differently, apparently they got what they asked for.

Clearly, only time will tell what impact Bill No. 52 will have. When the minister says rates will not go up, I find that to be an empty statement because this is the same minister who said he was going to bring in retroactivity for injured Nova Scotians and he didn't do it. How can he stand in his place and say that rates will not increase?

Yesterday we had the president of the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union who said in her written presentation, the contribution by members will not increase for the next five years. I asked her, what proof do you have? Do you have anything that you can show us that says it will not go up? Oh, the Minister of Finance told me. Well, I'm sure there are many retired Nova Scotia civil servants who are also saying, they told us they wouldn't touch our indexing either and they have come to learn a very painful financial lesson when it comes to that.

I thought it was a bit sad to hear the head of a union of so many members make such a statement without having proof because there is nothing to stop the Minister of Finance tomorrow or next fiscal year, or the year after that, of bringing further changes to pension legislation. There's nothing at all. But I thought maybe they'd have a letter from the Minister of Finance where he states: I - I can't say his name but Mr. Steele, allow us to say - do hereby promise and give my word that for the next five years there will be no increases in contribution rates for Nova Scotia civil servants with regard to their pension plan, signed by the honourable Minister of Finance.

No, she didn't have that. I said, well, maybe the Premier signed a letter saying that. No, she didn't have that either. Yet, when the question was asked, was this put to a vote by her membership, these changes? The answer was no, it wasn't necessary. It's almost like the Minister of Finance today telling us it's not necessary for me to show you the regulations here in the House. Other governments didn't do it, why should I? But we're going to do things differently if you vote for us and we're going to be a different government. Another painful lesson for Nova Scotians.

Only time will tell what the impact is going to be of these changes. As I said before, many Nova Scotians don't appreciate the importance of such legislation because they hope to never be injured, all of us hope to never be injured in an auto accident. We have a responsibility as legislators to make sure that we put a system in place that whether it's us, whether it's our family or whether it's the people we represent or any Nova Scotian who is injured as a result of a motor vehicle accident gets the best possible benefits that are available to them.

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I would submit to you that the way Bill No. 52 has been presented to us without the regulations makes it impossible for me as a member of this House to be able to say to my constituents that I do believe this is a reasonable and a fair plan and that I have seen the regulations, I've seen the definition and do accept the minister's comments that it is a reasonable approach. I'm currently unable to do so when it comes to Bill No. 52 and for that, I say shame on the government for not bringing in the regulations along with this legislation and not allowing us as legislators to be able to do our proper job, for going down the very same road that we went down in 2003 when government was able to go in the back rooms of the Cabinet and make regulations that were not what was agreed to by the House of Assembly.

There is a way to fix that. The minister can stand in his place, he can make a quick phone call over to the Department of Finance and tell them to bring over the regulations, I am going to table them in this Chamber. There is still time, and I will be hoping that the minister will certainly do that and show the respect deserved to the members of this House and the respect deserved to all Nova Scotians, to make sure that when it comes to the Insurance Act, we get it right this time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to stand for a few minutes today and speak to Bill No. 52. A few things I want to cover - I guess probably most people in this House would know my previous background. Working in health care as a paramedic on the streets, I've seen more than my share of a variety of different accidents, incidents, and things like that. I want to talk a little bit - that's where I want to start, with some of the language that's in the bill. We see the word "accident" used in the bill, and we also see the word "incident" used in the bill, in a different clause there. In actuality, I'm not sure if that's the right language or not. I'm not a lawyer, and I'm sure that the minister, knowing he is a lawyer, and others he's probably consulted from the legal department, have put this together and feel that the right language is used.

I know that in the business I was previously in, the word "accident" was taken away because accidents, by insurance company definition are - 99.9 per cent was once quoted to us as being - I'm looking for the word, sorry, shouldn't have happened in the first place, were preventable. So it gets interesting in the language when I read the bill, and I've been through it a couple of times. Again, I'm not a lawyer and I've got a couple of definitions this morning, both on "incident" and on "accident," from the Oxford English Dictionary, and they are different, so one does not exactly mean the same as the other.

We went to calling them "motor vehicle collisions" because they weren't, in fact, accidents. They were collisions with consequences that were preventable. So I'm not sure in a court of law what that all means when it comes down to a judgment. In this case, where we're talking about a judgment that is going to be required to make an award potentially

[Page 1737]

possible to an injured victim, I think there's an opportunity here to make it very difficult and a long process, and it may slow people from actually benefiting from a bill, through the system that was put in place.

Again, I'm not a lawyer, but as a layperson who reads this and somebody with a little background and knows people who have been involved in accidents before the cap and since the cap came into place, there have been numerous issues with the longevity, the time it takes to get this case into court, the time to be heard, and then, if there is any kind of judgment awarded, the lawyers step in and they take their share, whatever it might be, or flat fees. Different lawyers, of course, work on different rates.

I really am concerned about the language by way of definitions. Again, you can go to the Oxford English Dictionary and you can find those definitions, which I have, and they are a bit different. So I'm not sure whether that's going to have any effect on the actual bill when it gets through the court system. I don't know what kind of effect it has had in the past, but I think there is something that needs to be further defined there, or clarified, along with those meanings. I don't really see any detailed meanings of "accident," "incident," or, in this case, this is actually a collision that should have and could have been preventable. This is generally always due to driver error, regardless of what the end result is. Even if it is a bad weather day, it still seems to come back on the drivers for not going slow enough or taking the precautions that are required. I think there is some room there.

There are a number of things - I want to get on to something that was said previously by the member for Richmond about people . Fortunately, and it is fortunately, many people have not been affected by this, and the fewer the better. I know, as I said, in my previous life I saw a lot of it and it seemed like it was a daily occurrence, although the numbers overall may be smaller or lower in number. I don't think people are listening to it. People are hearing it on the news about the insurance cap, the insurance cap going up - what does that mean to me? Well, all that means to me is my rates are probably going to go up because that's what has been portrayed.

We have heard the minister say in the news - I heard him this morning on CBC making a comment they covered about the cap and basically saying that the rates wouldn't go up. Yet I watched last night on the late news on TV, I think it was, and I heard a gentleman on there from the insurance industry saying there's a pretty good chance the rates will go up, but basically what it comes down to is that nobody knows.

[10:30 a.m.]

That is what will affect Nova Scotians the most. The insurance rates affect everybody, every driver in this province because it will hurt them in the pocketbook, and we don't know, the answer from one is no; from the other, in all likelihood yes, it will go up. Most Nova

[Page 1738]

Scotians, I don't think, are really paying attention right now to it because it hasn't affected them.

That has been said and I agree with that and a lot of this stuff they look at, you know, there are people who watch this Legislative TV on a daily basis. I don't know what those numbers are but I would predict that they're probably not really high. Maybe in Cape Breton West they may be significantly higher when certain members are speaking on certain topics but I can tell you I do know that people do watch it, they do pay attention to it, and they certainly watch the news. But again, people are oblivious to this unless it really has affected them or will affect them in the future, and then all of a sudden they'll look back and say what happened.

I have heard from constituents, only two now, with regard to the issue of the cap and feeling that the $2,500 that was in place was enough. I don't know in all honesty if they would have felt that the $7,500 that is now being put forward would be enough, and that takes me to the definition of the injuries, Mr. Speaker. We hear about serious impairment. Well, I know what that means to me. I know what a sprain and a strain and whiplash mean to me, as well, but I'm not sure how we're going to define that clearly enough in a court of law and to go through all of this to make it payable.

So a sprain, if I'm understanding this correctly, $7,500 is the potential you could be awarded. Strains, whiplash, the two minor ones, the strains and the sprains, I would agree are a type of minor injury given my background in the health care industry. Generally, I would say most people recover, back to normal, don't have serious problems, generally one time. I don't know for the most part though in all of the accidents, the motor vehicle collisions that I've done, how many strains and sprains that I have seen. I would think the number of motor vehicle collisions that I have done - and I can tell you there were a lot in 17 years, many, many of those on the street that I have been to, there are not too many that I could say - and I haven't gone to look at any data and I haven't pulled anything out of the records. I don't know the number for sure, only from experience, that the number of strains and sprains would not be that many.

Most collisions are more traumatic than that, they are more serious than that. So I'm not really sure of the relevance of all of the terms that we're using, the minor term, I'm trying to see how I could get a strain out of a minor motor vehicle collision. I'm not sure that that's possible. But what's more interesting than the strain, we'll get to the whiplash side in a minute because you certainly can and I want to talk more about that.

What I'm getting at here is, I think in some of these minor ones, are we now as legislators, and the minister putting this forward and writing the bill and the regulations, going to become medical professionals? How is the judge going to make up his or her mind when it comes to awarding how bad my strain is or was, or how bad my sprain is or was? I realize with an injury, you're going to go, I'm assuming, to the doctor or to the hospital.

[Page 1739]

You're going to receive the appropriate treatment. You're going to be assessed. The doctor is going to write this, you know, maybe it's a prescription, maybe it's an X-ray, maybe it's a wrap around your knee or your leg, or whatever might be strained for a period of time. How are you going to base the value of that?

So for clarity, I guess I'm wondering, is everything $7,500 or is it up to $7,500? Again, without the regulations in front of me, I can't speak to that but it is a concern that I have and I think that people will have in general. How do we put a price tag - you know, $2,500, okay, we agreed or we didn't agree, that's now history so I guess it doesn't matter, but we're going to a new figure. How did we come up with $7,500? If I'm an injured party, well, I can tell you there's probably no amount of money that's enough. I've paid insurance my entire driving career, maybe I should have the opportunity to go to court and sue for whatever I deem to be necessary by way of my injuries.

I realize the bill speaks to some other things, the mental anguish that you go through, Mr. Speaker, and a whole variety of abilities and topics as far as the law goes, but the whole thing, to me at least, seems somewhat convoluted. You're trying to determine now, as legislators, that we're going to put in place something that affects us medically. Well, I'm not sure how that's going to work out, but I do know that when I look at whiplash under the minor injury component, whiplash is not a minor injury. The other concern here is we're going to go to whiplash.

Just for a few minutes I want to talk about this. There's a traumatic - in a whiplash injury, again, I'm speaking from experience because I have done this and I have seen this. People will go in, it's doesn't take much for some to have a whiplash injury. For others, it can be quite a significant crash. The problem is that whiplash doesn't just come once, it's not like a sprain in your knee where you wrap it, you get medically, physically fit, better. You get into the whiplash thing and people go on about whiplash for years. It creates head, neck, and back injuries along with it. Things have been strained even more so in a whiplash injury.

What I'm worried about here is, if we're going to define this under minor, somebody's going to be in an accident, they're going to get a bump, they're going to see the $7,500 hanging out there all of a sudden, oh, I can pick up $7,500 because I have whiplash. One thing on whiplash, determining whiplash can be a very difficult procedure because you can't see it. You can't get an x-ray, the doctor will make an assessment, he's going to assume that you probably have whiplash. Your neck is sore, your upper back may be sore, your shoulders, et cetera, those parts of your body that have been affected by a sudden motion of a forward-backward type jerking motion that is going to create that whiplash, being rear-ended, generally, or front-ending something else, you are going to experience a whiplash.

When is it fixed? Some will tell you whiplash is never fixed. I'm assuming, I don't have the regulations in front of me, I wish I did, I know the minister spoke to that a few minutes ago, but I know that without seeing that - does this mean this is a one-time payout per injury? If I look at whiplash, and George down the street is in a motor vehicle collision

[Page 1740]

today and he goes to the hospital and it's determined he has whiplash, he can now go in based on yesterday's numbers and he can put a claim in for $7,500.

Well that's great, $7,500 is going to look good today, he's going to get that, he's going to pay his lawyer bill and heaven knows what that will be - probably substantial, they don't work for nothing, nor should they. Anyway, all said and done, he's got a few dollars in his pocket and maybe he's feeling pretty good. Mentally he feels he's been justified and the courts have ruled, but what happens next year when he's having neck pain, back pain, and now he can't work because everyday he has headaches and he's running to the doctor and he's getting more treatment.

The doctor says, what happened to you? How did this start? Well, I was in a motor vehicle collision six, eight months, a year ago. Oh, well. So this treatment goes on and on. His $7,500 claim is in and out and long since gone. I don't see where whiplash fits into this minor injury piece at all.

Are we taking away the ability for drivers who pay insurance for years and years, and generally speaking, they get that coverage, that liability - I guess there's a feeling of comfort with it because there's no other feeling with it. All you feel, or all I feel, and I'll only speak for me, all I feel every June or July when I get my insurance bill in the mail is frustration because I see the figures, and I generally go over to my insurance company and we have a sit-down and we discuss - there has to be a better rate here.

Sometimes, you're actually able to get a better rate. That insurance company you've been with for awhile wants to keep you. The Minister of Agriculture is laughing. Sometimes is correct, not always, you'll notice I did clarify, sometimes. I think those insurance companies, they shop around and they do their thing as brokers, and they try to get you a rate because they want to keep your business. There's no question about that, and that's fine.

But there are no bargains anywhere when it comes to insurance rates. None. Not for your home, certainly not for your vehicles. It doesn't seem to depend on whether you're - maybe it does - male or female anymore. I don't even know - they lay all this stuff out in front of you, and they show you the fine print about age groups, and by the time I get to start reading that I'm so frustrated just from looking at the bottom line and the dollars, I'm long past the fine print and I'm trying to negotiate something better.

In all honesty, I'm guilty of saying I probably don't even know what's in the fine print sometimes because I'm frustrated solely by the number. If we continue to put this in, and have issues - we've had issues over the years before the cap came in, there were issues with high insurance rates. There are claims those rates have gone down since the cap has come in, I guess there's factual detail to say that there are figures that insurance companies will provide, that rates have gone down with the cap in place.

[Page 1741]

There's a fairness issue here too. What happens to the driver that never uses his insurance? Well, there's that great feeling of comfort again, except that every 12-month interval when you have to pay the bill. But there is a feeling, it is the law, you have to have it. and although many dispute it, they don't like it. Well, I think it is probably worthy because we all do know that motor vehicle collisions do happen and they happen every day, and protection must be here for drivers and for those who they're involved with, and passengers and so on, that are involved in such a collision.

It is interesting to hear some of the comments with regard to what I'm calling, I guess, a sort of two-tiered proposal system that's maybe going to come into place with a cap fee for drivers and maybe a no-cap fee so you can actually opt out of this thing. Again, without the regulations in front of me and any more detail on it, I don't know what that means. Does that mean that there will be an opportunity for me as a driver to say, well, I think I'm a pretty good driver, I don't think the $7,500 is going to mean a lot to me if I'm in one of these little minor incidents, minor accidents, minor collisions, or whatever the right language might be?

I agree with the fact that the cap came in in 2003 when it did because it reduced the rates. I think that what people see the most is that simple pocketbook measure where it matters, and generally only matters in that 12-month interval when you've got to pay the bill, and most people would like to see that even less than what it is today.

What's been portrayed, however, is that that fee is going to rise, whether that's reality or not - the minister says no, the insurance experts out there will say yes. Again, it is one of these things that we don't know at this point. I can tell you that most are hopeful that insurance rates will not go up, that they would, in fact, go down. I don't know if there is any benefit to this piece of legislation that is going to help insurance rates go down. Perhaps it will - doubtful, perhaps it will, but these fees are of great concern.

Along with the fees - and I've spoken about the frustration of the 12-month interval in having to pay the bill - again, there is a wonderful feeling of comfort knowing that you have this insurance. Given that it is legally required, you don't have any choice anyway; otherwise you're likely to be reprimanded by the law in other ways.

We have to remember that there are people in this province who are not all born with a silver spoon in their mouth. They work very hard every day; they don't have more to put towards things like insurance. At some point, my fear, my worry, my concern, is simply going to be that we're going to see drivers opting out. They're gong to look at this and they're going to say, you know what, I work hard every day, I'm an honest man or woman, I go to the job, I do my piece, I come home and raise my family, I provide as best as I can, but if the rates continue to go any higher, I've got to make decisions. Maybe there are two-vehicle families that will go to one. That will obviously drop - there are things like that.

[Page 1742]

Even more concerning are those folks who are going to say, food on the table or paying the insurance bill? There are concerns that we have, that I've always had. You can't take too much more away from Nova Scotians. We're just going through now, we're nowhere near completing the end of this recession, the hard economic times that we are in, and I think that people are already of the opinion, where am I going to find the money come July to pay the bill that's maybe a couple of thousand bucks to drive a couple of cars a years? Maybe I do need to get rid of one, maybe I am going to need to cut back. How many are going to take that extra risk, though, and not pay the bill and drive without insurance and go, ah, I made it another day, I've been to Halifax and back on the job and I made it another day? There were no issues, no incidents that are going to see me in front of a judge for the wrong reason.

I think that that's reality. I think that people out there will start thinking when they can no longer afford to pay their insurance - they won't pay it. We see it now. People don't buy house insurance; their homes burn down, there's nothing left. I don't know how many times I've seen that over the years. Lots, Mr. Speaker.

We have to remember the average, everyday Nova Scotian when it comes to this issue. I'm not sure what the numbers are. They haven't been presented to me as to how many people have used the cap over the years or are in the midst of a battle through the courts right now. I have no idea what those numbers are. Will they increase when the pocket of money that looks so good from $2,500 to $7,500 - and we know those people are there because there are many people, as the minister knows, who are arguing the point that $2,500 isn't enough, obviously, and it should be more. I've heard from a couple of those. They favour the cap being removed, actually, is what a couple of people that I spoke to, so they could go for what they felt was a reasonable dollar.

[10:45 a.m.]

Those people will not be happy with $7,500 either, I really don't believe, although it will benefit them more and perhaps they will feel that well, it's not off, it doesn't allow me to go for $100,000 or $1 million or whatever it might be. But I do recall people who have been involved in these collisions who went for years, 10, 12, 15 years through the court system, and only ended up with - and I say "only" - ended up with $12,000, $15,000, $20,000 after all of those years and by the time they paid their lawyer the commission, if that is what he or she worked on, there was actually very little left in it.

I'm not sure that no cap is going to make it any easier and I think that's why, when it came in, this is a very difficult situation because of the definitions - again, I'm going to go back to that - the definitions that are trying to be put forward I don't think are clear enough.

[Page 1743]

Unless the province or unless the Minister of Finance is going to hire a doctor to do nothing more than work insurance claims and arbitrarily make the decisions based on an assessment - it says George, you just had this motor vehicle accident, here is your assessment, here is the final decision, this is it, and it is then presented to the judge, the judge looks at this evidence by way of this assessment that has been done by the physician and says here is your award. End of story.

I don't know how else you're going to get a consistent application because you can't get any two members hardly to agree in the House, let alone any two physicians or any two other professionals. We already see that with the Insurance Bureau - some may say well no, this won't do anything to the rates, others are saying yes it will; the minister says it won't, another member will say it will. Again, there's so much discretion in all of it, it's the clarity - if you're going to put something like this in place, that needs to be defined and the definition.

I'm not sure, having a bit of medical background as I said, that you can really lay out everything. I think probably you can't, there's grey in everything and it would be difficult to, but I think you could really define - we must define in this bill what it is you are attempting to outline by way of injuries. It is one thing to say well it is this and this and this but, oh, by the way this clause is going to supercede all of that so you can still do this. On the mental anguish side of it, well we all know what that is like. It is a very stressful time for people, and I agree they should be able to go in and do - people are horribly mentally affected certainly by more traumatic types of events. Believe me, unfortunately I've been there and it is not good. I think that these folks should have the right, especially when they're not in the wrong and others have, unfortunately, for whatever reason, created incidents and collisions and so on that affect families - people for lifetimes are changed sometimes.

Again, I guess this is where it gets sticky; if it's that simple, if there's a clause that basically says that everything else is superseded by this and by that, then why are we actually going down the road of a cap? Perhaps that's why the minister, in his days over on this side of the House, said we're going to remove the cap; maybe that is why, when he campaigned, he thought we could just remove the cap.

Maybe there's more thought that needs to go into it. I'm not saying that the cap should be removed, I guess I'm just asking, has enough thought really gone into this? I hope that we don't rush this bill through this House and it not be what the people want in this province.

I know I look forward to what - and I think, I hope, at least that there will be a number of presenters from all sides; from the industry, from people who have been injured, maybe from just everyday folks, who have been driving for many, many years and have paid rates through the years when they were extremely high, as well who will present and will say put things on the table and make the minister aware that perhaps there are some options, perhaps there are some amendments that could be made in this bill.

[Page 1744]

Again, as I said, I'm concerned about the language around some of it and, again, I'm not a lawyer, maybe it's irrelevant what I think with regard to that, but the definition of that minor injury I think has always been most concerning. I think once you're an injured party who is going to file for this cap, regardless of what the fee has been or what it might be in the future, I think those people are the ones who are affected by the definition because the definition is where it gets grey. The definition is where it allows longevity in the court system because there are no clear points on this issue. There's no clear definition, only what may be - and I'm not saying "only" and no disrespect to the physicians, but how far do you go? Do you go to the physician in the ER, who is an ER physician, do you go to a specialist because you've got a sprain in your knee or you've got a strain or you've got whiplash - how far does it go? How many reports are required? It doesn't go into that detail in here, and I think that people who are injured certainly don't feel that everything is in place in a definitive enough manner legally - and there's so much legalese once you get into the court system that most people probably, it's fair to say, wouldn't even understand what was being talked about, wouldn't even be sure of what they were hearing in a court when they got there, and that's not fair either.

I think, in all honesty, the more that can be defined really has to be defined, and I think it's an issue of - the sprains, I agree, I think a sprain is a minor injury. Again, from experience, I think a strain is probably a minor injury. The whiplash, I think there is room for debate there. I think that there's some reconsideration that I'd really like to see you define, go into, get more information on if need be. I think if I were a patient who was in an incident and had whiplash, I would argue that that's not a minor injury. I wouldn't see that at all as being a minor injury, and that may be just solely based on my experience, knowing what I know about injuries like this when you get into whiplashes and down to your back. How many people are off now, long-time pensioned-off young people with this type of injury and back injuries that are related to it? They just cannot work any longer. They would hardly agree that this is a minor injury and that they should be put there and maxed out at $7,500.

Again, I don't think that there has been enough put in this, and I wish I had the regulations as well, and before I spoke. I look forward to maybe coming back here in third reading after the Law Amendments Committee has been done, and maybe we'll see some regulations that are clearly defined and there will be more to speak to and maybe in a more positive manner, if I've not been positive.

One of the other issues with this small amount - $2,500, $7,500 - again, it sounds like a lot of money. It isn't. As we all know when we look at the long term, $7,500 is nowhere near enough. It likely won't even pay the bills that you've incurred during your time off and different things. I realize it doesn't cover that, there are still other exceptions to that, but what about legal representation? We know that it's been difficult to get lawyers who want to take on clients for these minor claims, because in all honesty it's a lot of work, probably, and

[Page 1745]

they're not making any money at it, so most don't want to work for nothing. That's fair, and we have to keep that in mind as well.

I am sure that I don't agree with the definitions that are presently put forward. We need medical definitions. Who is the onus of proof on? Is it on the lawyer who is representing the client who has been injured? Perhaps it is. Probably it is. How much effort will be put into that, and where will they get the evidence from? Will it come from the physicians? Will it come from a regular ER doctor? Will it come from a family doctor? Will it have to go through all of these tests - the CT scans, the MRIs, the specialist appointments? How much are we going to put them through? Again, it would be nice if it were defined in here. You're saving court time if it is. You're saving hours, you're saving dollars. Court times now are phenomenal. I think court times will go up with this, actually, with the fee going up to $7,500. We're probably going to see more people attracted to the minor injuries.

We know, as I said, accidents - or motor vehicle collisions, as we refer to them - happen almost every single day in this province to some degree. Not all severe - some are, not all severe, and of course those are the ones that we're looking at here. People will be looking at this piece of legislation going, can I get compensation from that? That's going to take up court time.

Mr. Speaker, I know I've rambled on a bit about some of these things, but I'll certainly have more to say once we get through the Law Amendments Committee and third reading on it. I know others want to speak, but again, I want to raise the issue of the definitions. I want to talk and I want to see definitions. I'd like the minister to go back and look at the accident/incident versus collision, what the right language is. Again, I'm not a lawyer. I know he has a team of lawyers who work over there with him, and something so simple may be becoming very convoluted simply by the wrong language, and that is an issue.

The other I would really want to see stressed in this bill, and I hope that the people who come in to speak to this in the Law Amendments Committee and other members will speak to the sprains, the trains and the whiplash. Did I say trains - the sprains, the strains. I was thinking automobiles but I wasn't going to say that. Pardon the pun in all of it because it's not a funny issue by any stretch but that whiplash issue is not a minor issue in my opinion. Again, I'm not a physician but I worked a long time in this business. I've seen a lot of this stuff, but from my own perspective I don't see that as a minor injury. I don't know how a judgment could ever be awarded in such a case and then those folks left out in the cold and not ever able to come back.

People need to be aware of that. They need to know that this is an issue that they could be left out on, that they could actually take a lump sum of money, which may seem like a lot to some folks, and actually be hurting themselves in the short and long term, especially if they're young folks. It doesn't matter what their age is but it's a long road after that. These injuries can take a long time to heal and whiplash is a pretty significant issue that just cannot

[Page 1746]

go, I don't think, the way that it is right now. Again, just very briefly, the risk of people driving without insurance because they're not going to be able to afford it. The minister says, no, the rates won't go up although the people who work in the industry say, yes, there's a pretty good potential and we don't know how he could make that statement.

As one of the other members here spoke, he said, let's see some stuff on paper, minister. I would love nothing more than to see a letter from the minister stating for the next five years that - a different issue maybe - the rates aren't going to go up on insurance; perhaps the government has a plan to hold those rates. I would be certainly looking forward to seeing what that is as well and maybe they have no plan to hold the rates, maybe they're just best guessing and they're hoping that the rates won't go up. But what we know is if you see things being activated and you see this getting busy and the more people taking advantage of the cap and the more activity in the courts, I can say that the rates are going to go up because the insurance companies will have to.

A huge, huge fairness issue - look at all the people who have driven in this province over the course of their lifetime, many years, and have never had an accident, not so much as a bump, but their rates are going up because of others. I see that as the bigger fairness issue than anything else when it comes to insurance. Why am I paying because somebody else has had accidents time after time? Perhaps we're not strong enough when we look there. Again are we looking at all aspects of this insurance issue? Maybe there's a point when we just shouldn't be driving any more. I'm not suggesting any one person, I'm just saying there has to come a time when the average Nova Scotian who has never had a problem, never had an incident, an accident, a collision, a payout, a claim of any kind, who's still paying for all those who have - tell me why that's fair.

I don't think that that's fair and, again, this comes back to my frustration every 12 months when I see that insurance bill come in and I'm going, I didn't have any accidents last year, how come my rates are going up, that's not fair. Well, you know, the industry is busy, we're paying out a lot of money, one you're probably not going to win with the insurance companies, Mr. Speaker, but I know I do my best every June and July, whenever that bill comes due, to argue my point and try to save a few dollars where I can because I feel that the rates are extremely high now, even though it has gone down in recent years because of the cap that was put in in 2003.

There is documentation to point out what those numbers are percentage- wise, Mr. Speaker, they do exist, there are other provinces. Nova Scotia's insurance rates are lower than Alberta, Ontario, B.C., Manitoba and the Northwest Territories right now according to documentation. Since 2003 the average has dropped by 23 per cent. Well, it may have dropped by 23 per cent and even knowing all of that, I still am frustrated. I'll be frustrated again this summer when I go in to pay that bill. I'll be asking when is the next drop, what's the next percentage going to be added onto it, can't wait, let's see it go down. If this is so good, let's see those rates drop down.

[Page 1747]

I think in all honesty the insurance companies, Mr. Speaker, want to see, would probably love to see, the rates go down so that they can all get out there and they can get more customers and they can make sure that everybody is paying and getting the appropriate insurance that they require to be driving on the road. People aren't going to be complaining, they're going to be happy to pay their insurance bill. I don't ever foresee that day. That's a dream that I have, probably one that will never come true, and I should probably wake up and smell the coffee on this one because it's not reality.

However, I think what's best for Nova Scotians is reality and I think we should be looking at that. If there are ways to make rates better, that's a good thing. I'm not sure that this bill reflects that, but I do anxiously wait to see. I look forward to other comments from other members in the House. I look forward to the Law Amendments Committee being put through over there and to see who does come in to present. I look forward to future comments from the minister and I know that there will be questions put to the minister on this as we move forward. With that, I hope I haven't taken too much time. Thank you for the opportunity to speak today.

[11:00 a.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased today to join the debate on the bill before the House regarding changes in auto insurance. First of all, I do want to recognize that the minister had provided our caucus office with a draft of the regulations. It's important to note that it is a draft.

In many ways today is a déjà vu moment. The very first bill when I arrived here in the House in 2003 was Bill No. 1, the Automobile Insurance Act. That brings back a lot of moments in the early days of my time here, the kind of discussion and debate that goes on in the House. My colleague, the member for Richmond, outlined how the election of 2003 was shaped very, very much by the auto insurance industry, the premium rise that had taken place over the previous two years. We know that things had to change, and as a result the debate was around how much we could reduce premiums in this province by.

We thought 15 per cent was quite an acceptable reduction. The Progressive Conservatives figured the industry could bear 20 per cent, so that's what the government of the day, who won the election, decided on. We know that rates went down some - perhaps not even as much as many thought they would. In fact, some individual companies raised their premiums just prior to dropping 20 per cent. We know that business game was played out during this particular time, but overall, Nova Scotians did see a reduction in premiums.

[Page 1748]

We know there was much debate in this House, again coming from the Opposition of the day, now the government, that public auto insurance was the best of all worlds. That's why today I say it's a déjà vu moment, because there could be some elements in this bill and in these changes that could ultimately cause the NDP Government to have a serious look at the development of auto insurance for this province.

One of the provinces, of course, that has public auto insurance, British Columbia, which was brought in under an NDP Government, has remained in place. I don't think it would be remaining in place if it were losing big amounts of money. This could become another revenue generator for this government if they were to go down that road.

To speak to this bill is one that we're still assessing in our caucus. Auto insurance gives us that desired coverage that we all hope we have should we have that unfortunate time when we do have an accident, and personal injury is part of that. We hope we have full coverage. Many Nova Scotians discovered that the current legislation and the definition of minor injury limits them substantially on what they can receive as compensation for what becomes a lingering injury, one that affects their quality of life, one that affects their very enjoyment of life and $2,500 doesn't seem to be in any way an adequate compensation, should somebody have a current soft- tissue minor injury in this province.

We all know that the cap struck at $2,500 was very low. We've gone seven years without any inflationary factor brought in to the cap, so we don't disagree that having some improvement in that amount was needed to come forward.

Again, how will the $7,500 impact our insurance rates? We really don't know. We have to hear from the insurance industry and I know if there's one piece of legislation coming along like the one we saw yesterday, with the Financial Measures (2010) Act and we saw those impacted by changes in their pension come to Law Amendments Committee. We know we can get some solid information. We know we can get the other side of the story because again, we know that while we have these regulations, at this stage it's a draft copy. We don't know how it's really going to come out to affect and to impact on people. We are truly waiting for the Law Amendments Committee on this issue to take a look at what will be the impact of the $7,500 cap.

To move on to an area in which many people thought there would be at least some accommodation and that was when the changes came in that there would be retroactivity. This was an area that the NDP had talked about in opposition. In fact, I could very well be in place here of an NDP member in Opposition, who told a heartfelt story of somebody who, in fact, was negatively impacted by the current cap of $2,500 and how their life was actually changed dramatically as a result of having been impacted by a cap of $2,500 and that very definition of a minor injury that, in fact, at the end of the day that we supported Bill No. 1, but we know that the regulations changed the whole intent of that bill very dramatically.

[Page 1749]

That being said, however, the NDP over the past six, seven years have made a major issue out of what took place. Those words ring very loud for this MLA, when NDP members over the years said, and during the heated months of May and early June last year, during the election, was that we will right a wrong. That's right: We will right a wrong if we go to government. So we know that this piece of legislation, as it stands, will not do that. In fact, I've already had several e-mails from constituents of mine who have been impacted and others outside who know that I've been speaking about this issue as a critic and are pleased at the comments I made in the ChronicleHerald of Thursday around retroactivity were, in fact, brought forth to challenge this government on.

We will see whether or not the Law Amendments Committee will have any impact on this bill. If yesterday's story is repeated, then we know that the Law Amendments Committee can become a sham, the Law Amendments Committee may not reflect the voice of Nova Scotians. Yesterday was a sad day, in my view, for the Law Amendments Committee. I happened to be an observer and it was totally a change from what I had seen, experienced and felt the value of the Law Amendments Committee to be, that was when the voice of the public - I saw how the voice of the public changed many bills. I think of hearing 84 presenters on a very contentious issue in this province, ATVs, and it shaped the legislation. Those 84 presenters shaped and changed a very significant piece of legislation for this province.

I think the voice and value of the Law Amendments Committee was changed yesterday. I hope that when the Speaker takes a look back through previous cases that, in fact, a true judgment about how the Law Amendments Committee should be executed will be brought before this House. That is something that, again, this bill around the Insurance Act can have a good review if Nova Scotians, those who have been impacted by the current legislation and how their lives were negatively affected by it, what the automobile insurance people will have to say, I think, is going to be very valuable to this process.

The area of capped and uncapped policies. Once again, we will have to get some kind of sense how that will impact rates in this province. We know that as a consumer if I have a policy which will be more open-ended around soft-tissue injury compensation, we know we're going to be paying higher premiums. How much higher, and apart from this draft document, whether or not there will be some curtailment on that as well. Much is yet to be worked out and we don't have a clear picture.

We know that this is the system in a province that this government likes to take a look at, and that is it's in effect in Saskatchewan. We may need to have a look at consumers of this type of policy and what effect it does have.

In many ways while we have a draft copy of regulations, we don't really have a final document that can be presented to Nova Scotians to say, this is how this bill will, in fact, impact on you. That is something that still remains and we hope that perhaps before this

[Page 1750]

House ends its session that we will, indeed, have a very clear picture of the regulations and the changes in the Insurance Act.

With those words, I'm looking forward to the Law Amendments Committee, I'm looking forward to a number of voices, in fact, that will come forward during that process to let government know that there are some challenges around the changes that are coming forth on this legislation. With that, Mr. Speaker, I take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Inverness.

MR. ALLAN MACMASTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak on second reading of the changes that will be made to the Insurance Act. Where do I stand on the changes to the automobile insurance proposed by this government? Well, I have not yet decided. I am glad we're not voting on this bill today because I would have difficulty choosing a position with the information available.

In the coming days more research will be conducted and my position will be defined. I do not like the idea of sitting on the fence, Mr. Speaker, as my aim in representing the people of Inverness is to let them know where I stand and to do so with conviction. My conviction today is not strong one way or the other because there are so many unknowns with this bill and not just with the bill, but with the nature of the topic that we're discussing.

Today I will review some of my thoughts on automobile insurance and some of the variables governments must consider when changing the ground rules for the system which protects Nova Scotians who are injured travelling our roadways. I would like to thank the Minister of Finance for a briefing that he extended to the Progressive Conservatives on the proposed changes.

So who are the players that are involved in this matter that we speak about today? We have people who are injured or people who may be injured. We have the lawyers who are representing them. We have the insurance industry, the industry that provides coverage and benefits to compensate those who are injured, and we have the government, this House, that sets the ground rules for all of that to happen.

Let's start with the people who have been injured in automobile accidents. I want to tell you a story about somebody who contacted me over the past couple of weeks, who told me about their story, about their injury. In this case it was a mother and a daughter, and they were travelling and the accident came across them. They were driving along, and through no fault of their own, they saw a car hurtling towards them on the highway. It turned out that the car that had lost control, the tires were pretty much bald on the car, and the driver was in a rush and the car ended up hitting their car side-on - tore off the door. Seven years later, the driver of the car has a limp, and to me that doesn't seem like a minor injury, but this person is still suffering the effects of the accident. The passenger, the woman I spoke with, had

[Page 1751]

cracked ribs at the time and she still has pain to this day. They did not ask for this to happen. They did not expect for this accident to happen.

[11:15 a.m.]

I guess the question should be asked, what should be done for people who this happens to? First of all, these people have health expenses. The next thing they may have is income loss. If they can't go to work, they're going to have difficulty paying the bills for that period of time when they can't travel to work and be at their place of work. There's also an element of pain and suffering, and that's what this bill that we're discussing today is all about. The question I would ask is, how can pain and suffering ever really be compensated for? When you wake up in the morning and you turn to get out of bed and your ribs hurt because you have arthritis, which is a result of an injury, no money can ever really compensate for that. Or can it? I guess that decision is up to the person who makes a claim.

In the past, if we go back to the early 2000s, we saw insurance premiums were rising. Auto insurance is becoming expensive for Nova Scotians. I am concerned about those injured, and I am also concerned about consumers - the people who are paying insurance premiums, all of us who are paying insurance premiums each year or month or every six months, whenever people choose to pay it. We have to pay these premiums by law to drive on our roads in Nova Scotia. So what is causing the increase in auto insurance costs for Nova Scotians? Well, there are a number of elements. One is the stock market and the bond markets. The insurance companies pool all of our premiums together and they invest them, and the goal is to generate returns.

If we look back to the early 2000s, we had the tech bubble burst when everybody was in - I'm sure there are people in this room who were invested in companies who were technologically inclined, in the IT sector perhaps, and those companies, they had problems. People lost faith in them. There were issues around the value of what they actually had; it was intellectual property and sometimes there was a lot of speculation to the value of what those companies had. The result was that a lot of those companies' values dropped and investors and insurance companies who were investing premiums lost a lot of money at that point in time. If they lose money, they have less money to cover accident claims, so premiums had to rise.

Now, if we look at the investment environment today, we just saw the stock market take a tremendous decline, but it has also been recovering quite nicely, and that's one side of it. If we look at the bond side of it we have to look at interest rates because most of the money that insurance companies invest in has to be in something that's safe, which could be bonds, could be Nova Scotia provincial bonds. Interest rates are quite low right now, so there's another pressure on insurance companies to generate earnings from the premiums that we pay to them.

[Page 1752]

People make bets today. We have an ability to make bets in the stock market or investing in bonds, and in the stock market, things are securitized so you don't actually have to own - we had a bill put forward earlier this week, which the government wisely put forward, and that was to make it easier for people who are transferring securities, so they don't actually have to hold the certificates. We're moving into a day and age when people want to be able to have the flexibility, and they deserve to have the flexibility, to be able to make transactions without having the physical asset in hand.

I can think of the value that this brings in our world. I can think of stories of commodities trading, where people might end up, perhaps, trading hogs - and I don't know if anybody here would like a boxcar load of hogs, but there could be one down at the station, down below here, below us. You had instances in the past where people were trading, and they were trading in, say, hogs. They decided to purchase them for sale at a later date when they felt they might be able to profit from that transaction. If they didn't complete the transaction and sell it to somebody else, they might have to take delivery of it.

The insurance industry does the same thing. They make bets with the premiums that we pay them and do it to generate earnings from the premiums to pay out claims. Another area they make bets is on whether or not people will get injured. They bet on the frequencies. Really what we're talking about today is the frequency of injury on the roads in Nova Scotia by people who are driving on them.

I think the best example, the best way of looking at this, the best way for people to visualize it, is there's a commercial that has been on TV lately where there is an insurance company advertising how they make their assessments. It is kind of funny - one of the last examples is they're talking about the probabilities of things happening, and the last thing that happens in the commercial is a man riding an ostrich, and the insurance agent says the probability of that happening is quite low, but now that we've seen it, it's 100 per cent.

That's essentially the bets the insurance companies are making. They're good bets. We need them to make those bets, because that's what helps protect us when we have an accident or when we don't have an accident, because we try to offload our risk on to the insurance companies and we let them protect us.

So another example of this - and I hope I'm not being too protracted here, but I think this is interesting and it is good for people to have an understanding of this. If we look at the housing bubble, which has caused a great decline in the stock markets the past couple of years, a lot of this has happened because of the ability to securitize assets. Essentially, what you had was organizations lending massive amounts of money to people to buy homes or build homes, who really couldn't afford to own those homes. When the bubble burst, it destroyed many U.S. banks, it destroyed many insurance companies, and the wealth of many people evaporated: people who had money in pension plans, Nova Scotians who had money in our pension plan here, and people who work for the government. Their wealth evaporated

[Page 1753]

because the value of the assets dropped down to almost nothing, and anybody who was left holding that bag was holding a bag of almost nothing.

I will give you another example of securitization. Right now pension funds have an option of investing in catastrophic event insurance. This is a way for them to diversify their investments. The stock market, as you know, goes up and down. When does the catastrophic event happen? Completely unknown. When is the next hurricane going to hit? We don't know, but that's an option for people to invest in, and we're starting to see pension funds invest in those kinds of investments because they generate returns that don't correlate with the broader stock market. That's good for their pensioners because it evens out the volatility in the returns that come in, that end up paying the pensioners each month when they get their pension cheque.

So some of these things are very good, but I also want to say that, like I was just explaining in the example of the housing market, there are some people who are making a lot of money, a lot of imaginary money, and that is not good. When I think of the wealth that many people lost - many average people lost - over the past couple of years because of what happened in the stock market, and I look at those who walked away with the profits, many large U.S. banks, and when I look at the U.S. Government bailing out those banks, it's really sad. In my mind, and this might sound funny for me to say this, I think it is an affront to capitalization, because it hurt people who have made a bet in good faith and there have been people who have taken them to the cleaners on that. That is why it is important for government to be watching that. We have a role here, and we don't watch matters, perhaps, of that extent in our province, but it's important for us to be aware of them.

I looked at the newspaper yesterday and I saw insurance companies suing the City of Halifax for negligence, it is claimed, by the firemen who were fighting fires - I believe it was about a year or a year and a half ago. Maybe it wasn't even that, it may have been last Fall. My life has been so busy the last number of months I can't think of the time on that right now. I can think of these firemen and firewomen who were obviously out to do a good job. They were putting their lives on the line and they did things to the best of their abilities, and I couldn't imagine them not doing that, when they were fighting these fires. Now we have insurance companies that are trying to sue the city, and this is almost akin to, sort of, the making of imaginary money that I was trying to describe earlier, with companies who are securitizing assets, and putting them on the market and selling them, and maybe those assets aren't worth anything.

I think I'm going into way too much detail today, I guess what I'm trying to say is, I am not one to jump up and advocate for insurance companies here. My goal is, I respect what they do, and if they are operating in good faith, we're lucky to have them operating in good faith, and I hope they are.

[Page 1754]

So before I diverged from that discussion, I was talking about insurance companies and how they earn money to pay for injury claims of Nova Scotians. I was asking if the cap that was put in place by the Progressive Conservatives - did that help to reduce the cost for insurance companies? That was put in place, of course, in 2003.

What did we see? We did see premiums drop for Nova Scotians - and I heard a figure of 23 per cent, I also heard a figure in excess of 25 per cent - that premiums for Nova Scotians who were purchasing auto insurance, they dropped by over 25 per cent. So I believe the cap helped to achieve that. I also believe the recovery in the stock market from the early 2000 period, the period since 2002, since the tech bubble burst, I think the recovery in the stock market helped insurance companies as well, because that helped to improve their finances to pay out claims and reduce the need to increase premiums.

I am also told that the insurance industry took measures to stabilize their pricing by protecting the cost component of underwriting. The insurance industry was getting so competitive at the time, that they were moving that cost somewhere else on their books, and it was causing a bit of chaos, and it was causing volatility in the pricing of premiums. I think that measure they took was a good one.

Was the cap 100 per cent responsible for decreasing the cost of insurance? Well, I think the evidence I've given today says that it wasn't 100 per cent responsible, but I do believe that it was partly responsible. So today, the government wants to change the ground rules for the insurance industry, and there is a focus on that cap, and they are trying to change the benefits that are extended to Nova Scotians who are injured.

What do lawyers, who represent the injured, think of these changes? Well, I expect they will be pleased, but I haven't heard a lot from them yet, and I look forward to hearing from them. Now these lawyers help people to gain compensation from the insurance companies that help the injured and offset the impact of their pain and suffering. I know I've made some remarks, in the past, about lawyers in the House, and for any I have offended, I will extend an apology at this time.

I had indicated that some lawyers are out to make a profit on representing the injured, no matter if that person has a meaningful injury or if they have meaningful pain and suffering. Now, does that practice exist? I don't know. I know my colleague, the member for Hants West, raised some very valid concerns. When you have injuries that are hard to quantify, they are subjective, and you allow that. We allow that, as lawmakers in this House, to go to a court without a clear understanding of how that can be judged. When we let it go there, God knows what is going to happen to it. You can have abuse, and that's what the cap was put in place to try to protect against. For that reason, and in those cases, I think there was great value in the cap.

[Page 1755]

I will say that there are lawyers who are there and they're there to represent people who have legitimate injuries. They want to help those people and much like the story I told you earlier in my remarks, people who have been injured through no fault of their own.

[11:30 a.m.]

We've talked about the people who are affected by injury, we have talked about all of us who are paying premiums for insurance, we've talked about the legal community who represent the injured and we've talked about the government who are essentially the rule makers. I would like to get off the fence that I've mentioned I'm on today as I opened my remarks because I said people deserve to know where I stand on this issue.

For myself and for Nova Scotians who want to decide how they feel about these proposed changes, we have to start to dig into the details. Those details include the definition of what constitutes a minor injury. I think back to the story I told about the person who has a limp seven years later and that doesn't seem like a minor injury to me. It seems like there should be something more for that person and maybe this cap doesn't even apply to that situation. We have to look at the definition of injuries, we have to look at the profit margins of insurance companies to ensure that they're reasonable and fair. They deserve to make a profit, but not a profit that may be deemed in excess.

There are a lot of unknowns that we're looking at here. We don't know what the impact of these changes are going to be until the legislation comes into effect. Perhaps that's the biggest reason why I have difficulty having a position on it today is because we don't know what's going to happen. Insurance companies, with these rule changes, are going to have to change their model of business. That's going to affect the service they deliver to Nova Scotians and it's going to affect the cost of the service for Nova Scotians.

We have to look if the auto industry can absorb the costs. The onus of proof is now on the insurance industry to prove that injuries are not injuries. That's going to create higher legal costs for them. There's a higher cap - $7,500 up from $2,500. Perhaps a raise in the cap is worthwhile. If we look at inflation since 2003, there would certainly be a reason for an increase. We see the rate is indexed for inflation going forward, I think that makes sense. It makes complete logical sense to me.

We also have to look at the option of having no cap. What is that going to do? If the limits for payouts for minor injuries are limitless, that could affect whether or not insurance companies want to offer that and I hope we're not moving down a road towards public auto insurance if they won't. It also is going to affect the price if they do offer it. It's probably going to be much higher than a capped insurance plan, which may make it irrelevant and impossible for people to afford anyway. I hope for that reason this government does not go down the road of trying to bring public auto insurance to Nova Scotia. If they do, we'll certainly get into debate on that in the future.

[Page 1756]

One thing that we will know is what Nova Scotians think if their auto insurance premiums start to rise, we're going to hear loud and clear about it. The government will hear loud and clear about that. If we look at, will that happen - I'm going to close up here soon, Mr. Speaker, but there's a discrepancy. We hear the insurance industry tell us their rate of profit is about 10 per cent, their profit margin. I know the minister indicated from actuarial analysis that their rate of profit is closer to 20 per cent. I don't know if that's information the minister can release publicly or perhaps table here in the House. I would like to see that information.

The question, I'll repeat it again, what is the effect going to be on auto insurance premiums? I'll tell you what's been quoted by the industry, this is basically what's being said here, that prices will rise in the short term based on speculation from a release from the insurance industry, they say that "Business works best in an environment that is stable and free of uncertainty. Insurance companies face the dilemma of pricing their product before knowing what their costs, particularly claims costs, will be. In Nova Scotia, there has been the added uncertainty that comes with the constitutional challenge against the cap, which remains today."

Essentially what they're saying here is they're going to have to start pricing their insurance for Nova Scotians in advance of knowing what the claim costs are going to be, so they're pretty much telling us already that insurance prices are going to go up for Nova Scotians. Maybe things will even out in the end if it is, as the minister says, that the insurance industry can absorb the costs. Well, perhaps those costs, the price will drop back down, but I think they pretty much told us already that insurance costs are going to rise.

So it remains to be seen and that's why I'm having difficulty choosing to vote for or against this bill. I am going to keep looking at it; I'm going to continue to do research on it. When the time does come for a vote, I'll be prepared to make a decision and I'll stand by it.

With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will conclude my remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank all members for their contributions to the debate and we will consider this very carefully. We think this is a good bill, but it can always be made better.

Although I appreciate the interventions of all members, I particularly want to mention the intervention of the member for Hants West who, I have to say, on this topic and others takes a resolutely non-partisan approach. He acknowledges what is good in a bill, asks

[Page 1757]

questions where things are not clear, makes positive suggestions for change, and we'll be looking very carefully at his remarks - and, of course, the remarks of all other members in order to take a good bill and to make it better.

I did want to note that the member for Richmond had pointed out that the regulations hadn't been tabled, and in the course of the debate this morning the draft regulations have been distributed to all members. It is unusual for a government to introduce a bill giving regulation-making authority and at the same time distribute to members of the House the proposed regulations to go with the bill, but we felt that was important and necessary in order that members of the House could see the entire package, both Statute and regulation, so that they could make their judgments accordingly.

I did think it was perhaps a little unfair, some of the remarks of the member for Richmond, because the draft regulations had been distributed on Wednesday at the bill briefing and it was distributed, among other things, to a staff member of the Liberal caucus, and it's hardly my fault if there had been a lack of communication between Liberal staff and Liberal members. But having said that, I acknowledge that perhaps I should have foreseen that it would be helpful to distribute the regulations to all members prior to the second reading debate.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, we think this is a positive, constructive improvement to the automobile insurance regime in Nova Scotia, and we thank all members for their interventions. We look forward to the Law Amendments Committee so that we can take a good bill and perhaps make it even better.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 52.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is for second reading of Bill No. 52. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee on Law Amendments.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the concurrence of the House, could we revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1758]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 13 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 18 - Vital Statistics Act.

Bill No. 19 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 23 - Sea, Army, Air and Navy League Cadets Day Act.

Bill No. 24 - Financial Measures (2010) Act.

Bill No. 29 - Municipal Government Act.

Bill No. 36 - Engineering Profession Act.

Bill No. 41 - Volunteer Fire Services Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 10 - Cape Breton Island Marketing Levy Act.

Bill No. 33 - Securities Transfer Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

[Page 1759]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I again want to echo the words of the Minister of Finance and thank everybody who involved themselves in the debate this morning. I hope that we all have an enjoyable and safe weekend, and hope to see everybody here on Monday in good order.

The business for Monday will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill No. 53, the Fur Industry Act, and then we will resolve ourselves into the Committee of the Whole House on Bills. Thank you.

I move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday from the hour of 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The motion before the House is for the House to now rise and meet again on Monday at 4:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

The House stands adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 11:41 a.m.]

[Page 1760]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 940

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas for 25 years local youth have benefited from the Air Cadets program, and the organization will take the time to celebrate its milestone in April, 2010; and

Whereas the 689 Handley Page Squadron, under the direction of Commanding Officer Keith Odlin, will mark the 25th Anniversary of its charter on April 1st; and

Whereas hundreds of Parrsboro area youths have gone through the cadet program, participated in countless summer camps, flew glider and power planes in Debert and went on to careers either in the military or civilian life, benefiting from the leadership skills they picked up in the cadet program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the 689 Handley Page Squadron on their 25th Anniversary, and wish them many more years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Chris Brown is an up-and-coming musician and entertainer from Springhill; and

Whereas Chris, after years of touring success as a member of the band Nicknameless, has released his first solo album, Into the Woulds; and

Whereas this album is a retrospective of the last two years of his life touring Atlantic Canada with his former band and includes the song, What You're Looking For, specifically about his home town of Springhill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Chris Brown on his first solo album, and wish him the best of luck with his musical career.

[Page 1761]

RESOLUTION NO. 942

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas in December, Justice Minister Ross Landry announced that the correctional facility originally slated to be built in Springhill would be built near his Pictou Centre constituency; and

Whereas recently a Department of Justice official said the site selection was an important decision that required time to make sure we make the right one in relation to geothermal energy and environmental concerns; and

Whereas Springhill has one of the best sources of geothermal energy in our province, with a virtually unlimited amount of mine water in the old coal mine shafts;

Therefore be it resolved that the government reconsider their decision and build the correctional facility in Springhill, where it should be located and was promised.

RESOLUTION NO. 943

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Nova Scotians from Yarmouth to Sydney to Cumberland County have been run over by the Dexter bus; and

Whereas Nova Scotians believed in NDP Leader Dexter and his campaign platform on June 9, 2009; and

Whereas it is obvious that Nova Scotians were sold an empty bag of promises when NDP Leader Dexter introduced his campaign platform, and that it was not worth the ink it took to print it;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly encourage Premier Dexter to get off the Dexter bus and understand what Nova Scotians who have been run over by this government are feeling almost one year later.

[Page 1762]

RESOLUTION NO. 944

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Joan Jones, owner and operator of the popular gift show, Sweet Brier Boutique, was honoured with the Business of the Year Award from the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade in March 2010; and

Whereas Joan, who has been in business for 30 years, says that she believes in her Town of Parrsboro and has ever since she first saw a for sale sign in the window of the Parrsboro Flower Shop in 1980 and decided, on the spur of the moment, to buy and run the shop for more than a decade, then converting it to a gift shop during the mid-1990s, renaming it Sweet Brier Boutique; and

Whereas Joan admitted that it has not always been easy to deal with economic downturns like the present and to compete with shopping opportunities in the cities, but loves what she does and always continues to work with others to improve the Main Street business district for the future;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Joan Jones on receiving the Business of the Year Award and on 30 years of business, and wish her many more years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 945

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the first year of participating in the Community in Bloom program has been a tremendous success for Parrsboro, which received a four-bloom rating from the program awards ceremony; and

Whereas rated in criteria such as tidiness, community involvement, culture, heritage, and environmental awareness, the four-bloom rating was accepted with delight by community development coordinator Mary McPhee, who was shocked and pleased at placing so high so soon; and

[Page 1763]

Whereas McPhee and her band of volunteers spearheaded a number of Communities in Bloom initiatives during the summer, including the repainting of the bandstand, removal and replanting of flowers and shrubbery, street and beach cleanups, planting of trees, and a garden showcase that invited residents and business owners to take part;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Town of Parrsboro and its residents on receiving this prestigious award and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 946

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Springhill High School Golden Eagles posted three wins to claim the NSSAF Northumberland Division III girls basketball regional championship; and

Whereas the Golden Eagles defeated Musquodoboit High Mustangs 55 to 20 in the final to capture its 11th regional banner in 12 years and moved on to beat the Pictou Academy Pitbulls 92 to 35 and earned the right to face Hants North Flames in the championship game, beating them 87 to 37; and

Whereas members of the Springhill High School Golden Eagles consist of Katelyn MacDonald, Brittany Barton, Shauna Ryan, Kirsten Gogan, Leah Crowe, Trisha Thompson, Meagen Bowers, Danika Beaton, Taylor MacDonald, Jill Casey, Emily Moore, Meagan Moore, and coaches Julie Best and Kerry Curtis;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Springhill High School Golden Eagles on winning the NSSAF Northumberland Division III Championship title and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 947

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Springhill High School Golden Eagles senior girls garnered three victories to capture the 6th annual Caledonia Regional High School Tigers invitational basketball tournament in January 2010; and

[Page 1764]

Whereas Kirsten Gogan was selected a tournament all-star and Leah Crowe earned the title MVP; and

Whereas members of the Springhill High School Golden Eagles consist of Katelyn MacDonald, Brittany Barton, Shauna Ryan, Kirsten Gogan, Leah Crowe, Trisha Thompson, Meagen Bowers, Danika Beaton, Taylor MacDonald, Jill Casey, Emily Moore, Meagan Moore, and coaches Julie Best and Kerry Curtis;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Springhill High School Golden Eagles on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success throughout their high school basketball career.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cumberland Singers performed for Haiti earthquake relief at the Wentworth Recreation Centre under the direction of Jocelyn Morris; and

Whereas the singers varied in ages and spanned three generations, offering entertainment from solo artists, duets, trios, quartet singers, band members, fiddlers, step dancers, and much more; and

Whereas entertainers from all ages and walks of life came together in this community to show their support for those affected by this devastating earthquake and raised a significant amount of monies that will make a difference to those in need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Cumberland Singers and those in the community who helped raise funds for such an important cause and wish them all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 949

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Oxford Mini B Girls won their division of the Cumberland/Westmorland Girls Basketball Championship; and

[Page 1765]

Whereas the girls worked hard all season under the direction of their coach, Carla Patriquin; and

Whereas members of the championship team consist of Kya Milton, Katie Hawkes, Olivia Lyness, Autumn Weatherbee, Courtney Patriquin, Hilary Rushton, Lydia Wood, Cassandra Cotton, Emma Oderkirk, Madison Bragg, Jessica Broughton, and Asia Upham;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Oxford Mini B Girls on winning the Cumberland/Westmorland Girls Basketball Championship and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 950

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas 50 years ago a 27-year-old Williamsdale girl was asked to take on the duties as clerk for the Millvale United Church in Cumberland County, and

Whereas that young girl was Margaret Reid, who was honoured recently during an annual church meeting for her 50 years of service as clerk and for her dedication to her church; and

Whereas in over 50 years Margaret has only missed one meeting because of illness, and as soon as the annual meeting was over and she had been presented with a cake and a bouquet of flowers she was the first one on her feet to make the tea and warm the donuts for those present;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Margaret Reid on her 50 years of service to the Millvale United Church and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 951

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

[Page 1766]

Whereas Nancy E. Warren, a Springhill native, always knew she wanted to be a hairstylist for movie stars and now her hard work and dedication has led to her first Emmy Award; and

Whereas Nancy Warren won the Emmy for Outstanding Hairstyling for a Miniseries or Movie for Grey Gardens, a television movie starring Jessica Lange and Drew Barrymore; and

Whereas Nancy Warren is being nominated for another Emmy Award for When Love is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Nancy E. Warren on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 952

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas Mary Vingoe, noted director, actor, and co-founder of Ship's Company Theatre in Parrsboro, is nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role for her dynamic portrayal of Minnie in the play Ivor Johnson's Neighbours; and

Whereas two Ship's Company Theatre performances are represented in the nominations for Robert Merritt Awards in recognition of excellence in Nova Scotian theatre; and

Whereas during its 2009 season Ship's Company Theatre celebrated its 25th Anniversary of presenting live theatre in Parrsboro and continues to be a prime centre for the development and production of new Atlantic Canadian works;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mary Vingoe on being nominated for Outstanding Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 953

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

[Page 1767]

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

Whereas the Oxford Area Skating Club Starskaters were in top shape as they headed to Amherst for competition on March 3, 2010; and

Whereas the club brought home numerous gold, silver, and bronze medals, including the Pirate Precison Line, where Oxford again brought home first place for the third year in a row; and

Whereas members of the group include Mikhayla Sweet, Ashley Wheaton, Erika Scott, Jill Gordon, Emily Rushton, Megan Purdy, Sasha Baldwin, Kendra Mattinson, Makayla Rushton, MacKenzie Wheaton, Danielle Wilson, Claire Moore, Sara MacDonald, Railyn Cann, Alyssa Theriault, Oliva Wilson, and Kelsey Rideout;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Oxford Area Skating Club Starskaters on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 954

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas the small community of River Hebert showed its generosity when $18,000 was raised for ShelterBox tents ($1,000 each) to be sent to earthquake-torn Haiti; and

Whereas over 100 people from River Hebert, Amherst, Sackville, Parrsboro, and all surrounding areas arrived at the River Hebert United Church to show support and make donations to the ShelterBox Concert for Haiti; and

Whereas funds raised enabled 18 ShelterBox tents to be purchased and donated to the survivors of the devastating Haiti earthquake to help shelter these refugees from the centre of the city, allowing them to stay close to their communities and carry on with their daily lives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the community of River Hebert on bringing together the communities to donate these ShelterBox tents to the people of Haiti.

RESOLUTION NO. 955

[Page 1768]

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Paul Harris Fellowship Award is the most prestigious award that an individual can receive from the Rotary Club; and

Whereas Susan Taylor was a popular and award-winning teacher who developed the Amherst Regional High School's band program into one of the most successful in the province prior to her unfortunate death following a boating accident; and

Whereas Susan Taylor was posthumously awarded the Paul Harris Fellowship Award by the Amherst Rotary Club at their 75th Anniversary dinner on March 12, 2010;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Amherst Rotary Club for once again choosing such a worthy recipient of the Paul Harris Fellowship Award.

RESOLUTION NO. 956

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas William Corbett was the recipient of the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade's 2009 bursary; and

Whereas the bursary is awarded to students who might stay and work in the local area; and

Whereas William Corbett is now taking an electrician's course at Nova Scotia Community College in Springhill;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate William Corbett on receiving the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade's 2009 bursary and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 957

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

[Page 1769]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas William Wheaton of Parrsboro was honoured with a lifetime membership to the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade; and

Whereas William received this membership along with a plaque from president Karen Dickinson at the annual meeting in March; and

Whereas William was described by Karen Dickinson as the unofficial ambassador for the Town of Parrsboro;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate William Wheaton on receiving a lifetime membership to the Parrsboro and District Board of Trade and wish him all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 958

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas John Henderson of Springhill was recognized as Volunteer of the Year in Halifax where he was honoured for 48 positive years that he has spent helping the community of Springhill by making changes and raising the quality of life for others; and

Whereas John Henderson of Springhill, a former town councillor and miner who was one of 10 handpicked men to go down the coal mine in 1956 to put out a fire and find survivors following an explosion; and

Whereas John Henderson is a devoted member of the Springhill Baptist Church and has been an active participant in canvassing for the Red Shield, the Arthritis Association, the Canadian Cancer Society, the Nova Scotia Kidney Foundation, and has cooked more turkey than one can count for turkey burger fundraisers and luncheons;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate John Henderson on being named Volunteer of the Year and thank him for his many years of dedicated service to his community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 959

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

[Page 1770]

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Karine McGregor of Parrsboro has been recognized by the town and honoured by the province for her dedicated volunteerism; and

Whereas Karine is a busy retiree who is involved with Parrsboro's Communities in Bloom project, the Catholic Women's League, Relay for Life, Ship's Company Theatre, and Ottawa House By-The-Sea Museum; and

Whereas Karine was honoured and humbled by the award and said that she didn't expect anything in return, and that she just wants to fill her life and be a part of the community that has embraced her since her move here six years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Karine McGregor on being named Volunteer fo the Year and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 960

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Meggie Spicer of Spencer's Island, Cumberland County, helped her Dartmouth United Under 18 soccer team with the Tier 1 Provincial Indoor Championship, defeating Halifax County in the semi finals; and

Whereas Meggie started playing youth soccer with the Fundy Soccer Association in Amherst and plays for Advocate District High in the school soccer season; and

Whereas Meggie has played for Dartmouth United for the past four years, and represented Nova Scotia at the all-star competitions for four years, and has had a great winter season, finishing fifth in the league scoring, and being called to play in the women's premiership seven times;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Meggie Spicer on these outstanding accomplishments, and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 961

[Page 1771]

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Perry Kossatz, a dedicated member of the board of Parrsboro's Ship's Company Theatre, was surprised to be announced as the recipient of a Robert Merritt Award for Volunteer of the Year; and

Whereas Perry Kossatz has been a member of the board of directors of Ship's Company Theatre since 2007, during which time he has demonstrated extraordinary commitment to a number of aspects of the company; and

Whereas as chair of the revenue generating committee, he has been instrumental in raising significant and consistent monies in the tens of thousands of dollars through fund-raising initiatives and new sponsorships;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Perry Kossatz on receiving the Robert Merritt Award for Volunteer of the Year and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 962

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Marley White, a Grade 6 student at Parrsboro Regional High School, has won the Nova Scotia Recycles Contest for 2009-10 in Region 3 in her grade category; and

Whereas Marley White will be honoured at a ceremony celebrating the achievements of local students whose talent has made them winners in the 10th annual Nova Scotia Recycles Contest; and

Whereas this celebration brings together many who have contributed to the success of our waste reduction programs, including provincial and municipal officials, waste reduction staff, students, teachers, principals and RRFB Nova Scotia representatives, all there to applaud the work done by Marley White and the other students who take recycling very seriously and understand the importance of it to the province, country and indeed the world;

[Page 1772]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Marley White on winning the Nova Scotia Recycles Contest for 2009-10 and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 963

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cumberland County Blues are the 2009-10 Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League Champions after a 2-1 win over the St. Margarets Bay Ducks; and

Whereas the Blues are repeat NSJHL champions after winning the best of seven series 4-0 and going through 12-0 in the playoffs; and

Whereas up next for the Blues is the Don Johnson Cup Atlantic Junior B tournament which will be hosted by St. Margaret's Bay from April 20th to April 25th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Cumberland County Blues on winning the Nova Scotia Junior Hockey League Championship and wish them continued success in the season.

RESOLUTION NO. 964

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Parrsboro Predators claimed both midget and bantam division championship games during the Bluenose tournament Sunday at the Amherst Stadium; and

Whereas this was the midget's first tournament win of the season, with both championship games going into overtime, with Midget Predators beating out Cumberland Midget Grinders 6-5 and Bantam Predators finishing with a 5-4 win against Cumberland Bantam Lions; and

[Page 1773]

Whereas both Parrsboro teams worked hard under the direction of Bantam Coach Greg Matthews and Midget Coach Mike Johnson;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the Parrsboro Predators, both bantam and midget divisions, on claiming the championship title at the Bluenose tournament and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 965

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Cumberland Health Authority was the recipient of the Big Strides in Quality Work-Life Award, recognizing and encouraging the continuation of ongoing QWL activity for an organization that has made significant strides in overcoming major challenges or barriers to address quality work-life in their organization; and

Whereas the award was given out during the Provincial Healthcare Leadership Conference in Halifax on March 29, 2010 and is a new award, which recognizes outstanding leadership by health service organizations in the province; and

Whereas the health authority was given a $5,000 cheque to support ongoing work in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Cumberland Health Authority on receiving this outstanding award and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 966

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Brooke Walton and Kristen Yorke are Grade 7 students at Parrsboro Regional High School and have won the Nova Scotia Recycles Contest for 2009-10 in Region 3 in their grade category; and

[Page 1774]

Whereas Brooke and Kristen will be honoured at a ceremony celebrating the achievements of local students whose talent has made them winners in the 10th annual Nova Scotia Recycles Contest; and

Whereas this celebration brings together many who have contributed to the success of our waste reduction programs including provincial and municipal officials, waste reduction staff, students, teachers, principals and RRFB Nova Scotia representatives, all there to applaud the work done by Brooke and Kristen and the other students who take recycling very seriously and understand the importance of it to the province, country and the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Brooke Walton and Kristen Yorke on winning the Nova Scotia Recycles Contest for 2009-10 and wish them continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 967

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Evan Canning was awarded the trophy for top scorer for the Parrsboro Predators midgets as they claimed both midget and bantam division championship games during the Bluenose tournament Sunday at the Amherst Stadium; and

Whereas this was the midget's first tournament win of the season with both championship games going into overtime with Midget Predators beating out Cumberland Midget Grinders 6-5 and Bantam Predators finishing with a 5-4 win against Cumberland Bantam Lions; and

Whereas both Parrsboro teams worked hard under the direction of Bantam Coach Greg Matthews and Midget Coach Mike Johnson;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Evan Canning on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 968

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1775]

Whereas Patrick Quinn was awarded the trophy for top defenseman for the Parrsboro Predators Bantam As as they claimed both midget and bantam division championship games during the Bluenose tournament Sunday at the Amherst Stadium; and

Whereas this was the midget's first tournament win of the season with both championship games going into overtime with Midget Predators beating out Cumberland Midget Grinders 6-5 and Bantam Predators finishing with a 5-4 win against Cumberland Bantam Lions; and

Whereas both Parrsboro teams worked hard under the direction of Bantam Coach Greg Matthews and Midget Coach Mike Johnson;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Patrick Quinn on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 969

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Ryan Quinn was awarded the trophy for top defenseman for the Parrsboro Predators midgets as they claimed both midget and bantam division championship games during the Bluenose tournament Sunday at the Amherst Stadium; and

Whereas this was the midget's first tournament win of the season with both championship games going into overtime with Midget Predators beating out Cumberland Midget Grinders 6-5 and Bantam Predators finishing with a 5-4 win against Cumberland Bantam Lions; and

Whereas both Parrsboro teams worked hard under the direction of Bantam Coach Greg Matthews and Midget Coach Mike Johnson;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Ryan Quinn on this outstanding achievement and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 970

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

[Page 1776]

Whereas the Cobequid Fun-Tones marked 25 years since their formal organization as a chapter of Harmony, Inc., the international organization for women's four-part acappella singing in the barbershop style; and

Whereas the group plans to celebrate the event later this Spring and is very busy rehearsing for a number of events including an annual evening of song at the United Church and performances at the Little River Baptist Church and the Church of the Nazarene; and

Whereas the Fun-Tones membership now stands at 24 including two of the original members, Timble MacDonald and Shirley MacDiarmid;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Cobequid Fun-Tones on 25 years of music and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 971

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas John Henderson of Springhill was recognized as Volunteer of the Year in Halifax where he was honoured for 48 positive years that he has spent helping the community of Springhill by making changes and raising the quality of life for others; and

Whereas John Henderson of Springhill, a former town councillor and miner who was one of 10 hand-picked men to go down into a mine in 1956 to put out a fire and find survivors following an explosion; and

Whereas John Henderson is a devoted member of the Springhill Baptist Church and has been an active participant in canvassing for the Red Shield, the Arthritis Association, Canadian Cancer Society, the Nova Scotia Kidney Foundation and has cooked more turkey than one can count for turkey burger fundraisers and luncheons;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate John Henderson on being named Volunteer of the Year and thank him for his many years of dedicated service to his community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.