Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 09-12

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/

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 336, Treaty Day (10/01/09) - Support,
The Premier (by Hon. F. Corbett) 676
Vote - Affirmative 676
Res. 337, World Breastfeeding Wk. (10/01 - 10/07/09) - Recognize,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald (By Hon. M. More) 676
Vote - Affirmative 677
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 338, Treaty Day (10/01/09) - Importance Recognize,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 677
Vote - Affirmative 678
Res. 339, Treaty Day (10/01/09) - Mark,
Hon. C. Clarke 678
Vote - Affirmative 679
Res. 340, Baker, Dr. Alberta Pew/Gibson, Dr. M. Allen: Bonny Lea Farm -
Life Membership, Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 679
Vote - Affirmative 679
Res. 341, TIR: Highway Priority List - Min. Find,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 680
Res. 342, HPP: Rink Revitalization Prog. - Funding,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 680
Res. 343, Anderson, Bruce - Beluga Award (2009),
Mr. T. Zinck (by Ms. V. Conrad) 681
Vote - Affirmative 682
Res. 344, Rogerson, Gail & Ron: Oaklawn Farm Zoo - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 682
Vote - Affirmative 682
Res. 345, TIR: Fairview Overpass - Solution,
Mr. K. Bain 683
Res. 346, Thomson, Lt.-Col. George: West N.S. Regiment - Commend,
Mr. J. Morton 683
Vote - Affirmative 684
Res. 347, Guy's Frenchys - IWK Fundraising,
Hon. W. Gaudet 684
Vote - Affirmative 685
Res. 348, Crawford, Bill: HOPE Ctr. - Serv.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 685
Vote - Affirmative 686
Res. 349, Billard, Allan/Warnica, Gordon - Yukon 1000 Race,
Mr. A. Younger 686
Vote - Affirmative 686
Res. 350, 4-H Pro Show: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 687
Vote - Affirmative 687
Res. 351, TIR: Fairview Overpass: Plan - Table,
Ms. K. Regan 687
Res. 352, Gaelic Affs.: Mabou & Antigonish Offices - Continuation,
Mr. K. Bain 688
Vote - Affirmative 689
Res. 353, Central Kings Gators HS Hockey Team:
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 689
Vote - Affirmative 689
Res. 354, Mahone Bay Scarecrow Fest: Vols. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 690
Vote - Affirmative 690
Res. 355, Doucet, Vincent - Cdn. Karate Championship,
Hon. W. Gaudet 690
Vote - Affirmative 691
Res. 356, Pettipas, Dana - Garfield Weston Fdn. Award (2009),
Hon. C. Clarke 691
Vote - Affirmative 692
Res. 357, Muir, Catherine/Ward-Paige, Christine -
Shark Finning Legislation, Mr. A. Younger 692
Vote - Affirmative 693
Res. 358, Sweeney-Goodwin, Paulette: Fundraising Exec. - Certification,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 693
Vote - Affirmative 693
Res. 359, Luckett, Pete: HRM - Contribution,
Ms. K. Regan 693
Vote - Affirmative 694
Res. 360, Hatchard, Grace - RCL Award,
Mr. C. Porter 694
Vote - Affirmative 695
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 82, Fin.: Unfair Taxation Policy - Eliminate, Mr. L. Glavine 695
No. 83, TIR: Fairview Overpass Replacement - Address, Mr. K. Bain 696
No. 84, Health: Caregiver Allowance Prog. - Status, Ms. D. Whalen 698
No. 85, Gov't. (N.S.): CBRM - Meeting, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 699
No. 86, Health: H1N1 Vaccination - Funding, Mr. C. Porter 700
No. 87, Energy: Encana Extension - N.S. Jobs, Mr. A. Younger 702
No. 88, Energy: EnCana Commitments - Details, Hon. C. Clarke 703
No. 89, Graduate Tax Credit: Educ./LWD - Min. Responsibility,
Ms. K. Regan 705
No. 90, HPP: Rink Revitalization Prog. - Funding,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 706
No. 91, SNSMR - Gas Reg.: URB Hearings - Cost,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 707
No. 92, LWD: NSCC/NSTU - Settlement, Ms. K. Regan 709
No. 93, ERD: RDAs - Support Confirm, Hon. R. Hurlburt 710
No. 94, HPP: Tobacco Settlement - Details, Ms. D. Whalen 711
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
N.S. Health Research Fdn. Anl. Rept., Hon. Maureen MacDonald 712
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. L. Glavine 713
Hon. C. Clarke 716
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO A CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:13 P.M. 721
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:00 P.M. 721
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
TIR: Roadwork (2009-10) - Priority List,
Hon. W. Gaudet 722
Hon. C. d'Entremont 724
Hon. W. Estabrooks 726
Ms. V. Conrad 728
HOUSE RECESSED AT 6:29 P.M.. 729
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:34 P.M. 729
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:58 P.M.
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 2nd at 9:00 a.m. 730
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3):
Res. 361, McNeil, Rebecca et al - Glace Bay Atl. Youth Bowling,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 731
Res. 362, McNeil, Shae-Lyn et al - Glace Bay Atl. Youth Bowling,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 731
Res. 363, Mersey Band: Music Educ. - Recognize,
Ms. V. Conrad ~ 732

[Page 675]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll get the business of the House underway. Before we get to the daily routine, I'll announce that the subject for the late debate, the motion under Rule 5(5), was submitted by the honourable member for Kings West:

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia provide the people of this province with a priority list of roadwork to be completed in 2009-10.

That will be at the moment of interruption at 6:00 p.m. We will now begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 676]

675

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 336

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Premier in his capacity as Minister of Aboriginal Affairs, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas Treaty Day was first established in 1986 to commemorate the peace and friendship treaties signed in 1752 between the Mi'kmaq and the Crown so they could live in harmony and peace; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia recognizes the important contribution of the Mi'kmaq to the province's history, culture, and economy; and

Whereas October 1st has been designated as Treaty Day - this day provides an opportunity for the Mi'kmaq and other Nova Scotians to come together to celebrate the significance of the treaty relationship and to recognize, through an awards ceremony, the important contributions from the Mi'kmaq youth and elders;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support Treaty Day and the celebration of our treaty relationships with the Mi'kmaq.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 337

[Page 677]

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

Whereas October 1st to October 7th is World Breastfeeding Week and our work in Nova Scotia supports national and global efforts to promote, protect, and support breast-feeding since breast-feeding is the healthiest option for women and their babies; and

Whereas many women do not feel confident, supported, or prepared to breast-feed, which can be challenging at first and is a learned behaviour for both mothers and babies; and

Whereas this week the Department of Health Promotion and Protection launched a new social marketing campaign to give mothers, pregnant women, and those who support them honest and realistic expectations about breast-feeding and help them find the support they need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize this week to be World Breastfeeding Week and acknowledge the importance of breast-feeding and its contribution to the long-term health of babies, mothers, and the community as a whole.

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 338

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

[Page 678]

Whereas in 1985 the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed the treaty of 1752 was still strong and called upon Her Majesty to honour the treaty and others made with the Mi'kmaq Nation; and

Whereas in 1986 the then-Grand Chief Donald Marshall, Sr. proclaimed every October 1st as Treaty Day; and

Whereas today, Treaty Day, marks the beginning of Mi'kmaq History Month, promoting public awareness about the Mi'kmaq culture and heritage for all citizens of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in recognizing the importance of Treaty Day and the Mi'kmaq's contribution to our province, and also to congratulate the recipients of the Treaty Day 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.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 339

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in keeping with the theme, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas October 1st of each year marks Treaty Day, a day which commemorates the signing of the 1752 treaty of friendship and peace between the Crown and the Mi'kmaq people; and

Whereas this day marks an opportunity to renew that pledge and focus on continuing to develop and improve this vital relationship; and

[Page 679]

Whereas Treaty Day marks the beginning of Mi'kmaq History Month, time to promote public awareness about Mi'kmaq culture and heritage;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly take time to mark this important day and encourage those around us to learn more about the storied past of the Mi'kmaq people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 340

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

Whereas on Wednesday, September 16, 2009, the Board of Directors of Bonny Lea Farm conferred Life Memberships on Dr. Alberta Pew Baker and Dr. M. Allen Gibson; and

Whereas these are two of the original founding members of Bonny Lea Farm; and

Whereas without the dream of these two dedicated people the idea of a school for people with learning and physical challenges may never have come to life;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Dr. Alberta Pew Baker and Dr. M. Allen Gibson on their dedication and hard work in making lives better.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 680]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 341

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

Whereas the NDP Government has been in office for 103 days; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal was yesterday quoted as saying that he does not know if a highway priority list exists within his department; and

Whereas the minister said that he has not asked department officials if such a list exists and that he deals with projects that come across his desk on a first-come, first-served basis;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister be provided with a phone directory and a map of the department so that Nova Scotians will not have to wait another 103 days to see a highway priority list.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not even going to bother asking for waiver of notice. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 342

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 Mike Trenholm, Arena Manager of the Al MacInnis Sports Centre said in yesterday's The Reporter, Port Hawkesbury's weekly community newspaper, that the rink revitalization program cancelled by the NDP Government went a long way to maintaining the arenas; and

[Page 681]

Whereas Mr. Trenholm also said, "I recognize they are not the government now, but the Conservatives deserve a lot of credit in introducing such a program"; and

Whereas Antigonish Arena Manager Bud MacInnis said in the same article, "rinks are the centre of every community whether they are 40 years old or brand new and you have to make them safe as the older they get, the more it costs in maintenance";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly roundly condemn the misguided viewpoints of the Premier, the Minister of Finance, and the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection, and encourage them to change their stance on the issue and put the $2 million back into the rink revitalization program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 343

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

Whereas on May 19, 2009, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography presented Mr. Bruce Anderson with the prestigious Beluga Award for 2009; and

Whereas Bruce has shown continuing willingness to serve on work, health and safety, union, public service, gift shop, and social committees for the betterment of the Bedford Institute of Oceanography as a workplace and as a major Canadian scientific institution; and

Whereas Bruce's enthusiastic can-do attitude is a key factor in assembling and inspiring volunteers who make successes out of events like the Canadian Hydrographic Association International Hydrographic Conference in 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Bruce Anderson for being recognized for his special contributions to the internal life of

[Page 682]

the Bedford Institute of Oceanography and to the outreach initiatives that present this institution to Canada and the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings.

RESOLUTION NO. 344

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

Whereas Oaklawn Farm Zoo in Aylesford was opened by Ron and Gail Rogerson 25 years ago, growing from a family farm to one of the Valley's largest tourist attractions; and

Whereas animal lovers, the Rogersons adopted many species of animals as family pets and eventually opened their doors to the public, developing one of the largest zoos east of Montreal; and

Whereas Oaklawn Farm is home to a variety of primates, large cats, including lions and tigers, and a variety of hoofed animals and reptiles;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Gail and Ron Rogerson for the success they have created, and wish them continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 683]

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. 345

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

Whereas the traffic chaos about to besiege commuters using the Fairview overpass while construction work is underway, the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal was evasive yesterday in this House of Assembly and offered not a single point of constructive thought on how his government might be able to assist during the upcoming period of traffic mayhem; and

Whereas the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal suggested commuters should make Metro Transit work for them despite the fact the mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality has said additional buses are not available to add during peak hours; and

Whereas it is the role of government - in this case the NDP Government - to provide a level of leadership on critical issues, something they are clearly not doing on a critical piece of infrastructure work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly condemn the minister and his government for their blatant lack of disregard concerning the Fairview overpass, and demand the minister and his government immediately step forward with a viable solution to solve the undeniable traffic chaos in the coming weeks.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 684]

RESOLUTION NO. 346

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

Whereas the West Nova Scotia Regiment has a long and proud history of service to Canada; and

Whereas the regiment is a significant part of the Kings County community; and

Whereas Lieutenant Colonel George Thomson assumed command of the regiment on September 12, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Lieutenant Colonel George Thomson on assuming command of the West Nova Scotia Regiment, and extend best wishes for the regiment's continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance on an introduction.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the members of the House to a couple of visitors in the east gallery - Ms. Catherine Joudrey who is the constituency assistant in my office in Halifax Fairview, and Ms. Kelly Wilson who is a constituency assistant in the office of Megan Leslie, MP. I would ask the members to welcome them to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome them, and all our visitors here today.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 347

[Page 685]

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

Whereas each year Guy's Frenchys stores across Nova Scotia and New Brunswick fundraise for the IWK hospital; and

Whereas this year's campaign raised over $75,000 enabling them to purchase a Field Analyser II for the Eyecare unit and a Hilrom Affinity IV bed for the hospital; and

Whereas this year Yvonne Surette was honoured by Guy's Frenchys and the IWK for the substantial effort she has made to ensure the Yarmouth walk-a-thon is a significant contributor to the fundraising efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the staff and customers of Guy's Frenchys for their effort to raise money for the IWK hospital and wish them continued success in 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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 348

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

Whereas the HOPE Centre has been a fixture in Yarmouth for 28 years, tirelessly working to promote equal opportunities for individuals with handicaps; and

Whereas HOPE president Bill Crawford will retire this week from an organization that he has been with since its infancy and worked tirelessly to build and promote; and

[Page 686]

Whereas Bill's work has directly improved the quality of life of countless residents of Yarmouth County living with disabilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank Bill Crawford for his years of service to the HOPE Centre and wish him a happy and healthy 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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 349

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

Whereas the Yukon 1000, the world's longest canoe event, is a 1,600 km race which is physically and mentally demanding, starting in Whitehorse, travelling down the Yukon River and finishing just north of Alaska; and

Whereas the Yukon 1000 is an unsupported wilderness race, meaning there are no safety checkpoints along the way and teams must be self-sufficient for at least two weeks; and

Whereas to prepare for this race, Allan Billard and Gordon Warnica trained tirelessly on the Shubenacadie waterway;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the achievements of Allan Billard and Gordon Warnica for their successful completion of one of the world's most challenging canoe marathons.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 687]

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. 350

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

Whereas 4-H is a nationwide program dedicated to the development of young people between the ages of nine and 21 to help them become responsible members of society; and

Whereas there are close to 2,400 members and 100 clubs in Nova Scotia offering more than 40 projects from livestock to computer projects; and

Whereas Bridgewater is the host of the 2009 4-H Pro Show, from October 2nd to 4th, where youth from across this province will demonstrate and display their projects which have gained them recognition to compete in this show;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish members, leaders and volunteers throughout Nova Scotia all the best in the upcoming Pro Show and remember 2009 4-H theme is "The Year To Shine".

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

[Page 688]

RESOLUTION NO. 351

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

Whereas yesterday the drivers of Halifax Regional Municipality were given a sneak preview of the traffic chaos expected when the Fairview overpass replacement project begins; and

Whereas construction is set to begin on Monday, October 5th, reducing inbound traffic to one lane and outbound to two; and

Whereas this government's plan appears to consist of simply warning residents without taking any concrete steps to reduce the traffic turmoil;

Therefore be it resolved that this government table an actual plan that would allow residents to commute in something approaching a timely manner.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 352

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

Whereas the Gaelic culture has undergone a revival in the last decade in Cape Breton and northeastern Nova Scotia; and

[Page 689]

Whereas it was the Progressive Conservative Government in December 2006, that created the Office of Gaelic Affairs to work with Nova Scotians in the renewal of Gaelic language and culture in the province; and

Whereas the Gaelic Affairs Office in Mabou and Antigonish are vital to preserving and promoting Gaelic culture and its valuable contribution to the cultural diversity of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly support the continued success of the Mabou and Antigonish offices by committing that both offices will remain open and active, showing that this government, like the Progressive Conservative caucus, values the cultural importance of Gaelic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 353

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

Whereas on June 6, 2009, the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony took place, celebrating both individuals and team accomplishments; and

Whereas the 1993-94 Central Kings Gators High School Hockey Team was recognized for their Provincial AA Championships; and

Whereas John Prall contributed to the team's success as the coach;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate the members of the 1993-94 Central Gators High School Hockey Team and their coach, John Prall, for their induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

[Page 690]

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. 354

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 Mahone Bay is both a postcard-perfect town and a destination for thousands of visitors annually; and

Whereas Mahone Bay is the home to the 11th Annual and North America's largest Scarecrow Festival, which will be happening this weekend, October 2nd to 4th; and

Whereas The Great Scarecrow Festival and Antique Fair attracts over 20,000 visitors who enjoy The Great Scarecrow Challenge, Granny's Attic Yard Sale, quilting demonstrations, Scarecruise Antique Car Show and many more events;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the many volunteers who spend endless hours ensuring the success of the Scarecrow Festival and exemplifying what volunteers can do for the local economy of the town.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 691]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 355

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

Whereas the 35th Canadian Karate Championships were held in Calgary, Alberta, in July, 2009; and

Whereas Vincent Doucet of Clare competed in the Cadet Boys 14 to 15 Kumite 57 kg division in this tournament; and

Whereas the hard work and dedication Vincent has displayed was rewarded with a second place finish in his division taking home a silver medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Vincent Doucet for his silver medal at the 35th Canadian Karate Championships and wish him continued success in 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 Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 356

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

[Page 692]

Whereas Dana Pettipas of Linwood, Antigonish County, has been named the recipient of the 2009 W. Garfield Weston Foundation Award; and

Whereas the W. Garfield Weston Foundation awards individuals for academic performance as well as values such as character, entrepreneurial energy and service to the community, Dana has proven herself a deserving recipient of this award and an invaluable member of her community; and

Whereas Dana's commitment to lifelong learning is an admirable trait and truly sets a positive example for all Nova Scotians to follow;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud Dana Pettipas on this impressive accomplishment and pay tribute to her community spirit.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 357

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

Whereas shark populations worldwide are rapidly declining and many species are at risk of extinction, causing a negative impact for our Atlantic fisheries and ecosystems; and

Whereas the decline in shark populations are made worse by the killing of tens of millions of sharks each year around the world, solely for their fins through shark finning, which involves slicing off a shark's fins at sea and throwing the rest overboard to suffer and drown; and

Whereas Canada's regulations regarding shark finning have fallen behind the efforts of many other countries, including Costa Rica, Colombia, Ecuador, Panama and the United

[Page 693]

States, as well as regulations recommended by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, which calls for sharks to be landed with fins naturally attached, and that damages the reputation of Canada's fishing industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly commend Dalhousie University's Catherine Muir, the project manager for the Future of Marine Animal Populations project and Ph.D. candidate Christine Ward-Paige for their efforts to improve legislation in Canada and around the world supporting shark finning bans, as well as their efforts to stabilize and protect the shark populations in the oceans of the world and particularly in Atlantic Canada.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 358

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

Whereas Paulette Sweeney-Goodwin, the managing director of the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation, was recently named a certified fundraising executive by CFRE International; and

Whereas this certification is provided only to those who possess the knowledge, skills and commitment to perform fundraising duties effectively and professionally; and

Whereas Paulette's commitment to her profession and the ultimate goal of improving the provision of health care in Yarmouth is deserving of our praise;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Paulette Sweeney-Goodwin on her recent certification and thank her for her continued work on behalf of the Yarmouth Hospital Foundation.

[Page 694]

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 Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 359

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

Whereas Pete Luckett is a well known greengrocer whose knowledge of fruits and vegetables is legend throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Luckett has converted a cattle farm into a vineyard in the Gaspereau Valley; and

Whereas the first wine to be produced under the Luckett Vineyard label has been bottled and is now available for purchase;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the economic and culinary contributions Pete Luckett has made to HRM and wish him continued success in 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.

[Page 695]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 360

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

Whereas Grace Hatchard of Windsor recently received the Merit Award at the Annual Honours and Awards Banquet at the Hants County Royal Canadian Legion Branch 9; and

Whereas Grace's commitment to the Legion and the broader community, of which she is a valued part, made her a deserving recipient of this honour; and

Whereas a recognition provided by an organization which serves veterans is an accomplishment that should hold extra significance in light of their sacrifice and valour in defence of the country and freedoms we hold dear;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Grace Hatchard on the award she received and express gratitude for all she has done for the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 9.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West on an introduction.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. If I could draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where today Bernie Walsh and his daughter are present. Bernie, of course, is well-known for his involvement and leadership with VOLTS - victory over VLTs - and if we could give him a warm welcome today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome these guests and all our guests here this afternoon.

[Page 696]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 2:41 p.m. We'll go until 3:41 p.m.

The honourable member for Kings West.

FIN.: UNFAIR TAXATION POLICY - ELIMINATE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Nova Scotians pay too much for gas. The members of this caucus are not the only ones in this House who feel that way. On October 23rd of last year, the member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank stated in a column which was published by Halifax News Net that, "Governments need to take steps to ensure gasoline is priced as low as possible." The member went on to argue, and I will table it, that eliminating the tax on tax would correct what was in his own words "an unfair taxation method." My question to the minister is, is the minister going to eliminate this unfair taxation policy?

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. It is a good question. It's a serious issue. Clearly that measure is not included in this year's budget but we'll welcome that suggestion and any other suggestion as we work toward building next year's budget.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the minister for that comment. Nova Scotia has one of the lowest pre-tax prices in all of Canada. However, after all calculations are done, Nova Scotians end up paying some of the highest prices in the country. This province applies a 15.5-cents-a-litre flat motive fuel tax, regardless of what part of the province you are from, and then goes about putting further taxes on what is now an inflated wholesale selling price. For example, what starts as 70 cents per litre ends up costing Nova Scotians $1.14 a litre at the pumps. Simply by calculating the HST before the flat tax, Nova Scotians could save $3.06 a litre. My question is, will the minister give all Nova Scotians a better deal and ensure that this inflated policy of tax on tax is immediately corrected?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is an issue of which I'm aware. It's an issue on which I personally have spoken about in the past. As I mentioned in my previous answer, it's not included in this year's budget. It's a good suggestion and we welcome that suggestion and any other suggestions the Opposition may have as we build the budget for next year.

MR. GLAVINE: I thank the minister but we do still have three parts to our questions. Mr. Speaker, the Premier himself has argued this method of calculation. In an article published in Metro dated April 25, 2008, the Premier stated, ". . . I don't think tax on tax is

[Page 697]

fair." I'll table that. In this particular instance, the Premier is correct - tax on tax is unfair. My final question to the minister is, in the past 103 days, why has the minister not fixed what the current Minister of Economic and Rural Development and the Premier have clearly said was an unfair taxation policy?

MR. STEELE: What we found when we came into office was a province on an unsustainable financial path in which the previous government had placed us. At this late stage of the fiscal year, Mr. Speaker, it was not possible nor desirable to introduce a completely new budget because of the stability that is required, particularly in times of recession, and that is why there were no major tax policy changes other than the commitments that were made during the election campaign. However, we do welcome the suggestion. We agree with the member that it's an issue that needs to be addressed and we look forward to dealing with it as we build next year's budget.

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

TIR: FAIRVIEW OVERPASS REPLACEMENT - ADDRESS

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Deputy Premier. As you might have heard in my resolution, your Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal was exceptionally evasive yesterday when asked about plans to alleviate traffic chaos around the Fairview Overpass. Up to 30,000 vehicles drive on the overpass every day. Metro Transit buses are practically crammed to the limit during rush hours, the Mayor of HRM says there are no additional buses which can be put into peak hours of service. However, the minister stood over there yesterday and said, make Metro Transit work for you. We understand and appreciate this section of overpass has to be replaced, no one is disputing this, but what about a plan to reduce the traffic chaos? Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the Deputy Premier, on behalf of your government, is, can you address this issue today?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, thank you for the question. It's vitally important that we not only build but maintain the road infrastructure in this province. We appreciate that there will be some inconvenience in this, but it's for the overall good of the residents and indeed the people who come in to that part of Halifax. We look forward to having the Fairview Overpass repaired and we look forward to having our commuters come in, in a timely fashion, and we will do that in the most constructive way possible.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, information contained on the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Web site said it's expected the contractor will have to do evening and weekend work during some phases of construction. It is done in jurisdictions all over North America with heavy lighting, work begins on projects at 6:00 p.m. and ends at 6:00 a.m. the

[Page 698]

next morning. My question to the Deputy Premier is, why can't your government look into seeing how much additional evening and overnight work can take place? Anything to lessen the crushing traffic congestion between now and March.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, thanks through you to the member again for that question. We will endeavour, if that's possible, within the confines of the contract that they have with the private contractor doing that, if that's possible. We are looking at all options and if that's one, we would certainly take that as far as we can and we appreciate his input. Thank you.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Deputy Premier is, as mentioned yesterday, has there been discussion with the Public Service Commission about the potential of members of the Civil Service living and using this section of roadway possibly having an interim change in their work hours that would lessen the traffic nightmare?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again, thank you to the member. The short answer is no. The fact of the matter is, that would be terms and conditions of the collective agreement and that would have to be done through PSC and the other bargaining agent, the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union. We will tell him that right now neither party has started down that road of negotiations, pardon the pun. We would certainly look at that, if it is possible and if they had problems getting back and forth to work. It is one bridge as there are many bridges and I know in the member's riding, I'm sure, there are many bridges which we would try to repair in a timely manner.

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

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE PROG. STATUS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday during Question Period, in an obvious attempt to deflect further questions around the caregiver allowance, the Premier stated, ". . . it is our intention to monitor the progress of the program as it goes along . . . and take that into account when we . . . launch our own program next year." That sounds like code for something but we're not sure just what.

I don't think I need to remind anyone in the NDP Government that the structure and objectives around the Caregiver Allowance Program and their new self-managed care program are very, very different. My question to the minister is, does the minister plan to fix the Caregiver Allowance Program now and maintain it or does she simply intend to replace it with another program of her own next year? Which one is it, minister?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to say to the honourable member that we will look at whatever developments there are in any programs that are being delivered from the Department of Health and where there are things that we feel are possible

[Page 699]

to do within a time frame and the existing budget, we will do it. Otherwise, we will be looking forward to the next budget year in terms of what is possible for the various programs that we want to deliver. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, that doesn't help us necessarily to know whether or not a second program is being intended to replace the current one we are discussing today. But, I refer back to the Premier's quote yesterday: The very foundation of understanding whether a program is working or not - as he refers to monitoring the program - is getting numbers around that program.

Mr. Speaker, we don't have the numbers available, although we have asked on several occasions. We need solid numbers to know whether the current program is in any way successful or in fact just how unsuccessful it is. My question to the minister is, when can we expect the minister to report to the House with the numbers of people who have applied and the number of people who have been qualified at this point to receive the Caregiver Allowance Program?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Through you to the honourable member, I would like to - and I will table these - we've been able to compile the numbers with respect to the Caregiver Allowance Program, as I indicated we would be doing.

Currently, 140 people have been approved province-wide for the Caregiver Allowance Program. There are 286 people waiting to be assessed and 276 people have been assessed and have been found not to qualify for the program. We had anticipated that roughly 750 people would qualify for this program over a year and based on these figures, we figure we're just about on target. Thank you.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to see that some numbers are available today. We've been asking for over a week for those numbers and we felt they should be available and constantly monitored at all times. The program isn't done yet so we'll be following that further to see where we're at. I'll go back to my original question and ask whether the minister could please tell us whether or not her intention is to simply let this program run for this year and then completely unravel it and replace it with her own program?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are many decisions to be made about this program and our own program that we promised in the election. I can assure the honourable member that unlike her colleague, the member for Glace Bay, who last week suggested we shouldn't have introduced any program, I think we are very pleased and so are the people who have qualified that the program is in place for those who will benefit from it. Thank you.

[Page 700]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

GOV'T (N.S.): CBRM - MEETING

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Deputy Premier. It seems as though the people of Cape Breton Regional Municipality have no friends at all sitting around the Cabinet Table these days - even the self-appointed political minister for Cape Breton. The municipality is faced with high taxes, low revenues, over $100 million in debt and a declining population. Since the NDP has taken power, CBRM seems to be facing a great big wall of silence. So far, the only answer to the concerns of the CBRM has been, we'll get around to it. My question to the Deputy Premier is, would he tell the people of CBRM when they can expect his government to get around to it and actually have a discussion?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for his question; it's a valid one. As a matter of fact, I was at meeting just about two weekends ago with the mayor and he didn't think it was important to ask me or any of my colleagues to have a meeting, but through you to the member, if he has the ear of his good friend, the Mayor of Cape Breton Regional Municipality, I'd be - and I'm sure as the minister stated yesterday, we'd be glad to meet with him. So we would be more than happy to meet with the mayor, but he may be the best conduit. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Well, Mr. Speaker, these are important issues that the CBRM is facing and bringing up but it doesn't appear that anybody in this government is even interested in listening, and that has just been confirmed. The municipality argues that they're losing out on $20 million a year in equalization payments and that's money that could go toward service of the program. My question to the Deputy Premier again is, instead of just running into the mayor and not talking to him, why doesn't the Deputy Premier just pick up the phone and call the mayor, my good friend?

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Now that we've established the friendships, it's extremely important that lines of communication be open. I've talked not only to the mayor but to many members of council and people at the executive level and it is important. We also have to realize certain aspects of the question just asked are before the courts today and there are certain things that we're restricted to talking about. But outside of that, certainly we would be willing to talk, not only to CBRM but to any municipality throughout this province. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): I'll just remind the Deputy Premier, Mr. Speaker, through you, that there's a very extensive phone directory on the CBRM's Web site and if the government has lost the phone number, I'd be glad to oblige. This seems to be an issue that's pretty low on the NDP's priority list or maybe it's somewhere on the priority list that the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal still hasn't bothered to ask for.

[Page 701]

My final question to the Deputy Premier is, why won't he just tell the people of Cape Breton Regional Municipality why this government hasn't bothered to make this a priority yet? Or, again, will he simply just contact the mayor and request a meeting? Don't make the mayor come crawling, give him a call, tell him it'll be sooner than later, Deputy Premier.

MR. CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again I want to thank the member for the very heartfelt question. There is no win in making anybody beg for anything. As I said to you, I've seen the mayor on many occasions since the election, I've talked to many in the council and nobody has asked us for it. You know what? I will call, and if they wish to have a meeting within the context of the sitting of this House, we will try and contact them, or I will. We will do it again, within the context of the sitting of this House, and we will do it as soon as we can. I thank that member for the urging and the representation of his good friend, the Mayor of CBRM.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HEALTH: H1N1 VACCINATION - FUNDING

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Deputy Premier. Yesterday at Public Accounts Committee it was disclosed that up to nearly $11 million has been directly spent on the H1N1 vaccination effort yet doesn't even cover the cost of the delivery. There is no budget allocated for the potentially tens of millions in additional cost. Can the Deputy Premier inform this House where the money will come from? Is it from the Minister of Finance's deficit slush fund or can he detail what cuts will be made to cover the massive cost of immunization?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I will ask the Minister of Health to answer that for the member.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much (Interruptions)

[3:00 p.m.]

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, how the government is preparing for the H1N1 virus is a serious matter - and I remind the members it's not a laughing matter, it's a very serious matter. (Interruptions)

The member asks about revenue to support supplies and personnel to deal with the impending pandemic. The government has allocated revenue, $54- to 57-odd million added to the restructuring fund, and part of that is contingency for the H1N1 virus costs.

[Page 702]

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, pandemic preparedness is a priority of Nova Scotians and further highlighted by the Auditor General. Officials have worked hard to address this matter, but apparently Cabinet does not have a strategy. They have costed communications and delivery costs with Nova Scotians, yet we now know tens of millions will likely be needed to provide Nova Scotians with the protection they need and deserve. Again my question through you to the Deputy Premier is, can he please explain why Cabinet is so unprepared to deal with the H1N1 immunization strategy even though health and emergency officials have their priorities straight?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, while I appreciate the question to me, I think for the best possible answer I will put it over to the Minister of Health.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, the Department of Health and the Department of Health Promotion and Protection have had absolutely no difficulty whatsoever in accessing resources required to prepare for the pandemic. We've had approval for more than $5 million for additional ventilators for all of our DHAs and the IWK; we've had approval for $1 million for masks; we've had approval for more than $4 million, our share of vaccines; and I am confident and the department is confident that we will receive the necessary financial support in order to protect the health and safety of the people of this province.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, the lack of ability within Cabinet to handle a matter of such a public priority is concerning to say the least. Up to 4,000 retired nurses could be called upon to administer the H1N1 vaccine, yet the NDP Cabinet has no plan and no idea how to deal with the massive rollout of millions of dollars that they've not even budgeted for. My question was for the Deputy Premier, but there's no sense going there. Can the Minister of Health, then, please explain how they can possibly recruit, educate, and deliver 800,000 vaccinations in time for Nova Scotians before the coming flu season?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'll tell the honourable member how we're going to be able to do this - we have the finest health care workers in the country. (Applause) We have received absolute support and co-operation from all of the various health providers and the DHAs across the province. The Chief Medical Officer is a very competent and well-trusted leader in this province, and when the vaccine is available I encourage all of the members of this Chamber to get vaccinated and spread the word about the importance of getting the vaccine.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ENERGY: ENCANA EXTENSION - N.S. JOBS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. Yesterday the NDP Government provided an unconditional extension to EnCana for a rig-

[Page 703]

building program in Cape Breton. However, the minister also admitted that 280,000 person hours of work involved in building accommodations, which were lost will now, maybe, won't be done in Nova Scotia. He doesn't know what will happen. Mr. Speaker, 75 jobs that Nova Scotians were promised for last year are now gone. My question for the minister is, why is your government ignoring Nova Scotia workers and not ensuring that our province is the primary beneficiary of our offshore resources?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for that important question. I would like to correct the member with a couple of very salient facts here. Workers from Cape Breton and my good friend from Whitney Pier, and my colleague for Cape Breton North are fully aware of the fact that there are jobs available because of the extension of an important deal with Laurentian. We're also talking about workers in Eastern Passage, workers in the Eastern Shore, workers in Pictou, workers in Dartmouth. Those many, many people who greeted the Deputy Premier when the announcement was made about the work that was going to be done at the shipyards. Tell those workers in those places. Those men and women who have had the opportunity to work on these projects through EnCana, tell them that they weren't pleased those days, particularly that day when the Deputy Premier was so welcomed at the Halifax Shipyard. Then you will realize that this government cares and provides work for Nova Scotia workers.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, the minister would like to rattle off old commitments, but still has no explanation for the lost jobs yesterday that he has no replacement for. So they are jobs lost in this province for Nova Scotia workers. Yesterday, the minister also said that he knew about the requirements for this extension in June, he's added nothing to the extension other than a blanket extension with no new work. So if he knew about it then and he wasn't going to ask for any other concessions from EnCana, why didn't he just make the announcement in June?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I think it is really important. We have assumed the responsibility of a contract that was assigned in advance. I don't think it is appropriate at this time to stick a fork, if that's an inappropriate expression, I apologize for it, or one way or another look at the contract - we would, perhaps, have done it differently. But this contract was a contract that we believe we can work with, with EnCana. The people at EnCana are good partners. They along with the government back then and the government today are trying to provide good work for workers from one end of Nova Scotia to the other.

We have an open door policy at the Energy Department. I look forward to working with EnCana and I look forward to working with other people in the offshore. The key thing is, let's be positive. Nova Scotians are at work, Nova Scotians have some good jobs because of the working relationship with EnCana, this government and the previous government.

[Page 704]

MR. YOUNGER: There is no question that there are some good jobs for Nova Scotians in the offshore, but this government has failed. This minister had a choice, and he chose not to take it, to make sure that Nova Scotians are the primary beneficiary of our offshore resources. (Applause) The minister went on further to say yesterday, as quoted in today's paper that recovery will depend on the health of the economy in western Canada. Well, Mr. Speaker, that sounds to me like this government is waiting for Alberta to decide the future of Nova Scotia's economy and energy production. So I want to know, why is the minister letting Alberta set policy for Nova Scotia? When will his department make it known that Nova Scotia is a strong province of its own, has important resources, a talented workforce and we will be the beneficiaries of our offshore resources?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, at no time do any members on this side question the fact that we don't have a great work force in this place, particularly when it comes to the offshore. I think we should particularly look and let's be clear on the fact that a two-year extension that will help those jobs in Cape Breton are important roles. That two-year extension is based upon the fact that there are some economic trends, these are on land. These are rigs that are going to be built with the Laurentian company, with $1 million for each rig. They're going to be built in Cape Breton, they're going to provide jobs in Cape Breton and that particular company, EnCana, is working very closely with this government. That's progress. That's jobs where we need them - in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

ENERGY: ENCANA COMMITMENTS - DETAILS

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Energy. The Deep Panuke project is one that the Progressive Conservatives are very proud to have facilitated with EnCana Corporation. The economic downturn put the offset program with Laurentian Energy in Cape Breton to build land rigs on uncertain ground. I don't have to remind the minister of the merits of this offset agreement. However, I am encouraged that this new government has continued a Progressive Conservative business initiative by working with Laurentian Energy. Mr. Speaker, would the minister please detail to the House the arrangements with that deal and also ongoing commitments from EnCana to realize the full benefits for Nova Scotia?

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member, I'm aware, of course, and I do appreciate the advice that the previous government Cabinet Ministers have given me, in particular, and I know that there are various things, when it comes to the details of agreements like this, that we have to work our way through.

This particular project has the endorsement because we do not have a patent on all the good ideas when it comes to something of this nature. This was an important piece that we decided we could support and we could live with. It is a good idea. It is an original idea

[Page 705]

of the government previously. Now, the contract itself causes us some concerns; perhaps there are some provisions that we could learn from. It has been a learning experience for us and for this minister, particularly when it comes to EnCana, but I want to assure the member opposite that your advice, your expertise and your working relationship with the staff, are all appreciated and I thank you.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am encouraged if the minister sees the merit in this good business program and I expect he will continue to work on this initiative, but my first supplementary is to the Deputy Premier. Mr. Speaker, will the Deputy Premier commit to continue to work with Laurentian Energy, not only to realize the completion of the Deep Panuke offset, but also to provide a revolving financing mechanism to realize future energy projects, opportunities not unlike those done for Irving Shipbuilding, Cherubini and Secunda, to make sure they have the mechanism that this was intended to realize new opportunities in the future?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I guess the best way to put that through you to the member, I would be reticent to say exactly 100 per cent yes to something on the floor that you haven't seen but, in essence - the essence of that question we agree with and we will move forward. As the member for Cape Breton North and the member for Yarmouth, I had worked with both of those members when they were Energy Ministers. They did a fine job and they realized what this means to Nova Scotia, in particular, what Laurentian means to Cape Breton, and we will do everything possible to help the economy of Cape Breton. If that means working with Laurentian and other groups, we will.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do thank the Deputy Premier for his response and I appreciate the proactive approach to this because it is very important to the interest of not only our economy but the people of this province who work so hard and do a great job. Mr. Speaker, Progressive Conservatives recognize the cyclical nature of the energy sector. However, during a recession the impact of global energy pricing has an additional negative impact. My final supplementary is to the Minister of Energy. Would the minister inform this House of what actions, initiatives or efforts he has been taking to pursue new activity in our offshore energy sector?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I know with the constraints of time - and you have reminded me in the past, and me perhaps particularly - that I have to be careful that I don't go on at great length. On many occasions I was allowed to talk for an hour. So I'll give you a few moments at this time. I want the member opposite to know that when it comes to issues of this sort, regular weekly meetings are held with my staff, and one of the questions we constantly look at, and one of the answers we continually are searching for is what kind of initiatives can we continue to bring forth to make sure there's employment and initiatives in the offshore.

[Page 706]

I want that member to know, and all members of this House to know, and of course Nova Scotians to know, this is an important issue for our province. It's an important issue for not just Cape Breton, it's an important issue from one end of the province to the other. I assure that member opposite we will continue to do everything that is possible, with input from the expertise of people on my staff, with expertise from other people around the province. I thank you for your time.

[3:15 p.m.]

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

GRADUATE TAX CREDIT: EDUC./LWD - MIN. RESPONSIBILITY

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. During the recent election campaign your Party received a C grade for its post-secondary education promises from the Alliance of Nova Scotia Student Associations. The NDP promise of a graduate tax credit was evaluated by ANSSA. The organization said they did not see this as: A responsible use of money earmarked for post-secondary education.

My question for the minister is, will responsibility for the implementation of the graduate tax credit fall under the Minister of Education, thus being considered money for post-secondary education?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, that rebate is as much of a worker recruitment and retention tool as it is to keep graduate students in the province. There are other ways to increase accessibility and affordability for university and post-secondary education. I just want to clarify that we see that as providing the well-trained workers in this province, so it's more on a Labour and Workforce Development strategy than it is an access - to improve access or affordability of post-secondary education in the province. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, then might I respectfully suggest that that be considered under Labour and Workforce Development and not, in fact, post-secondary education. In fact, both ANSSA and the Canadian Federation of Students have made it clear that graduate tax credits do nothing to help students who cannot afford to attend one of our universities in the first place. A graduate tax credit will do little good if none of our students can afford to graduate. My question to the minister is, will the minister acknowledge that graduate tax credits are an ineffective tool for making our universities and colleges more accessible and affordable?

MS. MORE: I can only repeat what I said in answer to the first question, that this is a labour retention and recruitment strategy, and certainly the former government has done - and we support efforts that they have made to make university education more affordable, such as putting more of the student assistance up front as grants and providing additional

[Page 707]

funding to universities so that we can have a freeze on the tuition. I think there's a little bit of confusion about the intent of the graduate rebate - retention rebate. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, the problem is that not only do graduate tax credits not increase access to post-secondary education, but recent examples show they don't even work as a retention tool. In an op-ed to the ChronicleHerald, the Executive Director of ANSSA stated that governments in Manitoba and in New Brunswick have invested $100 million in tax credits like this, but no changes in retention rates have been observed since the credits were implemented. These examples cause leading education expert Alex Usher to conclude that graduate tax credits provide, and I'm quoting here, "windfall gains to people doing exactly what they were going to do anyways". My question to the minister is, will the minister acknowledge that graduate tax credits are not only ineffective as a tool to help gain access to post-secondary education, but they are also ineffective as a graduate retention tool.

MS. MORE: Well, as it turns out, we have considerable numbers of students from outside our province attending our post-secondary institutions. Currently about 20 per cent of them stay in the province. We feel that this graduate retention rebate will actually encourage those numbers to go up. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HPP: RINK REVITALIZATION PROG. - FUNDING

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Deputy Premier. On Tuesday afternoon during Question Period, when the Premier was asked about your government's slash-and-burn technique toward the rink revitalization program across Nova Scotia, he said the program ". . . had no criteria, there was no policy in place for its administration." In fact, "It was simply a line item . . ." in the budget. I want to table for the Deputy Premier this afternoon - perhaps he could make sure the Premier is given a copy - a copy of the Rink Revitalization Program guidelines as well as the application form that is required to be filled out by all 74 arenas in Nova Scotia. My question for the Deputy Premier this afternoon is, what does he tell members of his own caucus, such as the member for Queens or the member for Lunenburg, when they come seeking funding for improvements to their aging rinks?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the Rink Revitalization Program, as the Premier mentioned the other day, was not meant to be an ongoing program, as the member for Argyle well knows. Inasmuch as a response to other members of this House asking me about how they would go about getting initiatives for their arenas, that there are other programs in Health Promotion and Protection that they can go to.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: The past president of the Recreation Facility Association of Nova Scotia said in an email on September 21st - and I'll table that as well - that promises

[Page 708]

were made by the NDP throughout the election campaign and again all summer, that there will be no changes or deletions from the budget defeated on May 4th. As a result, the rink commissions went ahead; they've set their budgets. My question today to the Deputy Premier is, why did you break that promise and leave 74 arena managers scratching their heads and looking for $27,000 apiece?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my previous answer, there is money available to arenas in other programs in Health Promotion and Protection, and certainly we welcome each and every arena to apply for those programs where there are better criteria.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: The past president of the Recreation Facility Association of Nova Scotia also said it is the goal of every community arena to keep ice rental rates affordable, and every member in this Legislature should know the demand for ice time in every rink in Nova Scotia is absolutely crazy. The past president also said he was sorry to hear the news that government does not believe that community rinks are much of a priority.

My question to the Deputy Premier is, will you see what can be done to keep this valuable $2 million in place?

MR. CORBETT: I suppose in the questions, the one thing we agree on is the key role that these arenas play in all of our communities. We want to support them, and we think the best way to support them is through the existing programs in Health Promotion and Protection, and we encourage each and every arena to apply through there where the criteria are best explained and more realized.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SNSMR - GAS REG.: URB HEARINGS - COST

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Yesterday I asked the minister about any increased costs associated with gas regulation now that the responsibility is moved to the URB, and the answer was, no change. Well, today is the big day - the URB now controls what price Nova Scotians will pay to fill up their cars - so let's examine what has changed. For one, there will be at least two public hearings coming up that will examine issues of border taxation and promotions, and those public hearings are not cheap, so let me give the minister another chance. My question is, how much are these hearings going to cost Nova Scotians?

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: At this time there are no additional costs. Those would be covered under the fees that are already associated, and that is a question that you would have to direct to the Utility and Review Board. Thank you.

[Page 709]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the minister says, there are going to be costs associated with moving regulation to the URB and these issues that these hearings will address, taxation levels in border areas and the effect of promotions on the viability of rural stations, are not localized discussions. Yesterday the minister indicated that she is unable to tell us where these hearings will be located. Now these hearings are important to all Nova Scotians and participation is vital to their success. My question to the minister is, what steps has the minister taken to ensure that all Nova Scotians are able to participate in these important debates?

MS. JENNEX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. That is a very important question and I thank you for asking that. One of the steps that we are taking is to make sure that there is a consumer advocate on the committee and if a consumer advocate is not named, then we will make sure that a person is provided to that committee at this time. Thank you.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, there's another change happening today, there are now going to be different people choosing what Nova Scotians pay at the pumps. A third change will be taking place in the coming days as well because the URB is going to grow. In fact, the URB is looking for two people to advise them on petroleum products, with combined salaries of $145,000 per year. That's not all the change Nova Scotians will see, though, because for all the talk of transparency and openness of the NDP, the actual price setting will still happen in a room and it will still happen behind closed doors. Mr. Speaker, maybe it will be a different room with different colours but it is still in secret. My question for the minister is, since she has assured Nova Scotians that there are going to be no extra costs, will she tell us who in Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations she is going to lay off in order to balance out those two new salaries?

MS. JENNEX: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. There will be no layoffs at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. There is a lot of work to be done at Service Nova Scotia and at this time two of our people will be seconded for a short time during the transition but will be coming back. There is lots of work to do and the people at Service Nova Scotia do that well. Thank you.

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

LWD: NSCC/NSTU - SETTLEMENT

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. Nova Scotia Community College faculty have been in a strike position for several days after voting overwhelmingly in favour of strike action. Yesterday it was announced that the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, representing those faculty and professional support employees, had accepted an offer from the community college to return to the bargaining table this Friday. Now the community college is in agreement with the faculty that they should receive a 2.9 per cent wage increase but they cannot afford to provide

[Page 710]

it. My question to the minister is, does the government agree with both the NSTU and the NSCC that a 2.9 per cent wage increase is a reasonable settlement?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member appreciates that as the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development and also the Minister of Education, I cannot get involved in ongoing negotiations. I have the utmost confidence that there are reasonable people on both sides of the negotiating table and I look forward to them coming up with the result that is in their best interest and the best interest of Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, when responding to a question in the House last week, the Premier said he would respect the collective bargaining process but we know what the problem is and it isn't going to be solved simply by the collective bargaining process. Both sides have already agreed that the 2.9 per cent increase is necessary for NSCC faculty but the money simply isn't there. My question for the minister is, has your government provided additional funding or are both sides just wasting their time at the bargaining table?

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, collective bargaining has served our province very well. We have a very enviable and stable workforce track record. I'm sure the honourable member appreciates the fact that I cannot comment or answer that question at this time. I can only repeat that I'm gong to honour the collective bargaining process and stay out of it and certainly we're going to respect the outcome of it. So we anticipate that reasonable people understand the tough economic times we're in and that they'll work out a solution in their best interests and in the best interests of all Nova Scotians. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, should a strike occur it will have lasting repercussions. Thousands of students will be negatively affected. Semesters and exams will have to be altered and students who have jobs lined up may be forced to alter their plans. The faculty at NSCC are leaders in their fields. They could be making a lot more money in the private sector but they've chosen to enter the teaching profession and help educate thousands of individuals with lasting impacts for our economy. We must compensate them appropriately or else we risk losing them as they seek other opportunities. My question to the minister - and not the Minster of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal - is, when will the government start thinking of the faculty and the students and do what is necessary to avert a strike?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the honourable member in terms of the excellent contribution and worth of the faculty and professional staff at the Nova Scotia Community College. I have visited various campuses many times over the last several years and I have the highest regard for their work. I also understand the anxiety of the students and their families. All I can say is that collective bargaining has worked well. It's a process that my government is going to respect and honour and allow it to continue. Both sides

[Page 711]

understand that this province is on an unsustainable path and that we have to have reasonable people making reasonable decisions. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

ERD: RDAs - SUPPORT CONFIRM

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. I would like to know and all members of the House would like to know, if this minister and his government support RDAs across this province?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. We've been very supportive of RDAs for the last three months and we will continue to be supportive.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, as early as last evening and this morning I've talked to RDAs across the province and to the RDA association and they have asked for a meeting with this minister. This minister has not had a meeting with the association of RDAs as yet or to any other RDA that I spoke to and, as of noon today, he has not met with one RDA. They want to have a meeting with this minister and they said they would provide the coffee and biscuits if that is what he wants. So will that minister commit today that he will meet with the RDAs and the association of RDAs, a volunteer board made up of the business communities across this province. He says that he supports small business in the province, so why would he not meet with the RDAs and the RDA association?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, in response to the question, I would be more than pleased to meet with any RDAs in the Province of Nova Scotia. We certainly recognize the RDA association and we would be more than willing to meet with them. It has been a busy time. We get lots of phone calls, lots of requests for meetings, and over the last three months we've been trying to adhere to the requests that we do receive.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, the RDA association and RDAs across this province have asked to have a meeting with this minister, and he has refused to have a meeting with those RDAs. As early as 3:00 o'clock this afternoon he has directed his deputy minister, instead of him, to meet with the RDA association. That's shameful. The RDAs are a great tool for this province of ours; they are business people spread out across this great province of ours and they have great knowledge of the business and what is needed in the communities across this province. Why will this minister not sit down with the RDA association and the RDAs and their boards and offer a tool to them to grow the economy across this great province of ours?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, what I will reiterate is that I am more than willing to meet with the RDAs - as I have been with anyone and everyone - and, do you know, I would like

[Page 712]

to see something in writing where I've said that I refuse to meet with an RDA, or anyone for that matter.

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

HPP: TOBACCO SETTLEMENT - DETAILS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. On July 31, 2008, an agreement was reached between the federal and provincial governments which saw Nova Scotia receive $27.5 million over a 15-year period as a result of civil and criminal penalties that were levied against two large tobacco companies. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is, could she confirm that her department, the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, received $2.2 million this fiscal year as a result of this July 2008 agreement?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to indicate to the honourable member that I'm not really sure which lawsuit she's referring to. Perhaps she could restate the question, or provide the information by tabling the decision that she's referring to.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I can table a distribution schedule of the amount of money that we were to receive as a province, and the total amount for the whole country as well, but what I would like to make a point of is that New Brunswick, as well, was receiving money. Ours was $27.5 million; New Brunswick was to get $22.6 million, again over a period of time, 2008 until 2023, a 15-year period, and in New Brunswick there was a great deal of fanfare about where they directed that money. So I'm wanting to know whether or not the minister is aware of the amount of money that we would have received as a province - and in 2009 it was to be $2.2 million - so I wonder if that helps to clarify what I'm referring to? And I would be happy to table this distribution schedule.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I'm not sure if we have received that money, but I will check into it and provide that information to the honourable member.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in light of the minister's answer, I think this becomes a little speculative, but I would like to ask the minister to track down that money, which I believe we've received in this province, and ask the Minister of Finance to direct it towards Health Promotion and Protection because that money is coming from a tobacco settlement - it actually comes from tobacco smuggling or somehow involvement with smuggling on the part of large tobacco companies, and I believe it should be directed to some specific programs in Health Promotion and Protection. So I'm asking the minister, would she track down the money and get it directed to the help of Nova Scotians?

[Page 713]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will track down the information. With respect to allocating it though directly to the department's budget, this is something that would have to be discussed, I think, more completely with my colleagues. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. In April, following a number of years of work when I was on that side of the House, I was proud to stand in Kentville and announce Nova Scotia's $155 million poverty reduction strategy . . .

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, with the indulgence of the House, could we revert to order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulation and Other Papers?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I would like to table the Annual Report of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation and, with your indulgence, I'd also like to make an introduction if I could.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the attention of members of the House to the east gallery. There are four staff members from the 2010 Canada Games Society in the gallery with us today - Melissa MacKinnon, Chantal Gallant, Dean Gallant, and Andrea Young - oh, they are in the Speaker's Gallery. I would ask them to please stand and receive the warm reception of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our special guests, and all our guests here today.

The report is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

[Page 714]

MR. SPEAKER The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, today I'd like to return to a question that I brought to the Minister of Natural Resources yesterday regarding Brigadoon and the protection of a wilderness area that is so critical and so important to Brigadoon's future.

As I was asking the minister yesterday - it was to alert him to the fact, the possibility of the Aylesford and Loon Lake society, and Brigadoon, that could lose this land to a possible buyer who may not be as friendly in the types of development that could take place and that is very, very much of a concern to Brigadoon.

I know many of the members in the House know about Brigadoon and its intentions to build a facility for chronically ill children on Aylesford Lake . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There seems to be a bit too much chatter in here and it's difficult to hear the member who is speaking. I'd ask if members have conversations, they could please take them outside the Chamber.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. GLAVINE: Thank you Mr. Speaker.

I do want to reference just a couple of statements that Brigadoon has on their Web site and their literature as they present to Nova Scotians the concept - well-developed , well- advanced - of a camp on the Aylesford Lake in a pristine wilderness area, the first of its kind in Atlantic Canada for chronically ill children. In fact, there seems to be very early recognition that it could become not just a national, but a well- known international facility because of the kind of plans and programs that they have.

[Page 715]

Brigadoon is a non-profit organization rooted in the belief that children and youth have infinite potentials when given the chance to explore, discover, challenge, innovate and create. Their goal is to develop and manage an exceptional year-round facility for residential camps for children and youth living with a chronic illness and Brigadoon will continually investigate the unmet needs of the pediatric and youth chronic-illness community and explore how to address those needs with partnering organizations.

Partnering has been a very strong suit of Brigadoon. Their goal to raise $5.75 million to develop this facility is well underway and the IWK is going to be one of the major partners in providing medical expertise and, no doubt, personnel to Brigadoon.

The previous government - and I do compliment the Progressive Conservative Government for the contribution that they made to Brigadoon and set them well underway to reaching the target of $5.75 million, but they have partnered with many groups, many organizations across Nova Scotia, and that's what their plans are as well for the future - to continue that kind of process.

Their goal is to have 800 children with chronic illness go through their facility in a year-round approach. It will be the first facility of its kind in Atlantic Canada and one of only a handful of facilities in Canada that focus on experiential-based learning, research and teaching through partnerships and Brigadoon will encompass the facility capacities of all of the presently existing special needs camps providing an excellent space option.

With the capacity to develop more camps, Brigadoon will be able to focus on uncovering the vast unmet need of the pediatric chronic illness population in Atlantic Canada, so it's a very admirable goal that Brigadoon has. However, there is, as we say, a fly in the ointment. There is a very big concern that the wilderness area that borders the property of Brigadoon could be sold to a developer since it's on the market in Canada and the United States.

Just a couple of weeks ago, Dodge Island - which is in Aylesford Lake and very close to Fancy Cove where Brigadoon will be constructed - does set up the possibility that the land close to Brigadoon could also be sold. Now fortunately, Dodge Island looks like it's in hands that will indeed be very cooperative with the Aylesford and Loon Lake Society as well as Brigadoon. In terms of the land, Brigadoon was fortunate to get a 99-year lease from land owned by Nova Scotia Power so it sets them up with not having had the cost and the cost of lakefront land, as we know, is indeed very expensive. With the potential of losing this area, it would change the whole nature of Brigadoon wanting to have its site and its main buildings in the very current pristine area of Fancy Cove.

CPAWS, under Dr. Chris Miller, did have a very intensive look at this area and while it may not meet all of the criteria to become a protected area, it does have some uniqueness in that it is a site for bald eagles and osprey to nest and also, most of the trees are about 70

[Page 716]

or 80 years old, which means that the other possibility for Wagners, a forest management company, is to go and clear-cut this particular site. So we do have an old-growth forest and also it is an Acadian forest so it has, I think, that wonderful characteristic of being an area where again hiking and winter activities of snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, all of these things could be available to the children who would be going to Brigadoon. So losing the current nature and state of the wilderness in Fancy Cove is of major concern.

There are 1,241 acres in the primary block that ALLPOA, which is the Aylesford Lake and Loon Lake Property Owners Association and also Brigadoon would like to have. As I said, it is currently up for sale. So it may not necessarily be that government needs to purchase this entire block but purchasing enough acreage for a buffer is, indeed, a primary concern because the environs have a self-contained, idyllic lake that is so secluded that the majority of residents and visitors are unaware of its existence.

Here we have again one of those one-of-a-kind places in Nova Scotia that is going to be the site of children who have spent a good part of their lives at IWK, or annual visits, because of their chronic illness, who would have this very unique opportunity. About 16 months ago, ALLPOA and Brigadoon wrote letters to the Premier of the day and they also renewed these letters in July and again in August and September to the Premier, to the Minister of Natural Resources and to the member for Kings South who, in fact, is the member where most of the land for ALLPOA and Brigadoon is contained.

It is a block of land that had been looked at by the previous government and definitely under their protection, their Sustainability Act, saw that this was land that they were very interested in. The price tag at the time, however, with Wagner was pretty high. However, in the current climate, where standing timber on some of their blocks of land may not be worth quite as much and in this recessionary period also, selling land to potential developers, I think the prices are certainly down some. It may be an excellent time for government to even try to work with Wagner to look at being a good corporate citizen.

So far, dealing with Wagner, an American company, and what truly is an investment company, they are an investment company that uses forestry as their means to support, whether it be pensions for universities and the like in the United States. In many ways it needs to be challenged a bit, I think, by this government and all citizens to make some contribution to what will be a world-class facility, Brigadoon.

It is hoped that the special status to the Cove, the Cove, as it is affectionately called, will remain in its current state. So yesterday I was asking the minister and his government to sit down with Wagner. Try to work out a deal that, in fact, would be satisfactory to them and the 220 cottages and now many year-round resident owners on Aylesford Lake, that this land would not go under the development path and that it would, in fact, become protected lands for the future of Brigadoon and for the future of Nova Scotians. The intent is to commence, at least getting the road built into the site this Fall, and commencement on their

[Page 717]

buildings will begin in 2010. So it's now going to become a reality - the dream of Brigadoon will be realized.

The support throughout Nova Scotia, and probably New Brunswick and P.E.I., people as we all know from those provinces, have had a connection with the IWK. They know the people who will be responsible for Brigadoon, so those provinces and people in them have been supporters and fundraisers - indeed the future definitely looks very promising.

One of the big advocates, of course, has been a man by the name of Andy Bryski who has been president of ALLPOA. He has proposed, actually quite some time ago, even before Brigadoon was on the radar to become a camp facility for chronically-ill children, he looked at some of the European models of protecting small areas of wilderness known as pocket wilderness areas. By doing this and keeping the wilderness here for walking trails, eco-centres, CCTVs could be established on this property for the benefit of children and future application could include the public at large and also provide ecotourism opportunity.

Mr. Speaker, as I conclude my remarks in Supply today, I think there's a great case that is being made by the residents of Aylesford Lake and Loon Lake and Brigadoon, and the kind of both unique and sustainable mission that they have for this area. Really it's one of those occasions where time is of the essence, where government moves to either partner with Wagner or to purchase from Wagner the entire block of 1,241 acres of land, or at least to create a buffer zone so that Brigadoon has the safeguards to remain a pristine wilderness area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise as we go into the debate on Supply and be able to speak this afternoon about some things that are very important and pressing within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and within the wider region itself.

Mr. Speaker, as you know, and members of this House know, policing issues within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality are very much at the forefront of concern for the citizens there, as it was for the previous government a priority to address the policing needs of the community for the second largest metropolitan area of Nova Scotia with over 100,000 residents there within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. But also the policing that would happen between the CBRM and Victoria County, Richmond County, in working with the RCMP.

As we know, outside of the RCMP the two other larger forces, of course, the Halifax Regional Police Service as well as the Cape Breton Regional Police Service and the work that they do, working in partnership on intelligence work, working on the day-to-day grassroots policing that is required but also the specialty areas that they build upon. I do

[Page 718]

know that in the community - and last year we had an announcement of 10 police officers for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Those 10 officers were to be detailed between seven officers who would be designated for the Cape Breton Regional Police Service as well as three officers, three positions, that would be designated for a safer communities office.

I just want to provide some background about why it is so important. I know I've asked the minister and the Attorney General who oversees that program with regard to supporting the community and the concerns within the policing community, the police board, the municipality and community stakeholders about the lack of clarity for all 10 of those positions because as the Attorney General will appreciate, there was a major transition that happened a number of years ago. The co-operation and the evolution of relationships between municipal and RCMP policing, I view to be very positive in the region and emerging into a new realm.

[4:00 p.m.]

The policing issues are addressing those things that are of concern to the citizens, but also dealing with managing opportunities, because we know that with growth come challenges and thus you have to have that. So of the seven officers who were committed to the Cape Breton Regional Police Service and the CBRM, three were specifically designated for drug crime and related activity in the community. We all know the success that has been achieved by the Cape Breton Regional Police Service and building on the intelligence unit here in Nova Scotia, they've done some very effective work and been able to collaborate and build on that.

We know that in our area, regrettably, when you still have unemployment rates three times higher than in the HRM, there are realities that go beyond just counting bodies that live in a municipality and dealing with the issues within those municipalities. The success that has been achieved in Cape Breton, in dealing with drug-related crimes, was a reason for committing those three additional officers for the community.

We also know of the Sydney Port Authority - the Sydney Port initiative, supported by the Chamber of Commerce, supported by the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, by the federal government, by this provincial government when we invested $2 million toward building up the port master plan that was in place. In fact, all three Parties, all members for Cape Breton signed onto the MOU to develop the port.

Mr. Speaker, in responding to the level of support activity that was increasing, and being part of the Atlantic Gateway Initiative, was adding two officers specific to port security for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality because we have tens of thousands of people in cruise ship activity alone who disembark without a targeted effort. Those officers were to work with the federal government, work with the RCMP, work within the community with the Sydney Ports Corporation and provide them with the capacity and ability to make sure

[Page 719]

we have the safest port area as possible. We know the federal jurisdiction, as everyone including the minister as Auditor General is very clear, the federal government in its jurisdiction on water versus - and outside of any protocols that are established through agreement - that the onshore aspects needed that policing effort and that's why we're pleased to work with the Cape Breton Regional Police Service because it was a priority of the people of the community.

Mr. Speaker, we also committed to build on the ICE unit - the International Child Exploitation initiatives - here in Nova Scotia and to provide the Cape Breton Regional Police Service a position to deal with child pornography and the exploitation of children. Regrettably, in Nova Scotia it has been brought startlingly to our attention, and thus the reason of its importance, because of the public response to the most recent issue of child pornography.

The issue for us and the policing community is not just dealing with those people accessing it because whatever images they've accessed, some child somewhere has been abused in that process to actually be in those images. That is something the policing community needed to work on. That was an effort to add a position to the Cape Breton Regional Police Service.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, I'm building on a previous year's commitment and working with the Cape Breton District Health Authority - health authority No. 8. A position in the prior year was made for a mental health officer, and I've heard the members of the government and they recognize the importance of mental health policing, making a connect between the mental health service providers, the district health authority and the policing community. So the seventh position that was committed for the Cape Breton Regional Police Service was an additional position for a second mental health officer so they could deal with around-the-clock issues, that those officers could work with their peers to understand mental health issues.

We all know, Mr. Speaker, in dealing with issues that have been here within the HRM, where there's an inquiry now, the sensitivity that people have and the importance of mental health policing, it was there. So in some of the response from the minister when he would say that, well, we have to look at all the province-wide initiatives - everything that was committed for the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, directly went to a wider network building within Nova Scotia, within Canada and internationally.

None of these initiatives, none of these positions were gratis or extra positions. They are all targeted positions that were provided to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and its policing and justice partners in that area.

Mr. Speaker, those seven positions were to add on to the three positions committed to the Safer Communities Office. I know that the Auditor General would be very keen on

[Page 720]

this, there is no clarity as well, but in his prior role within the RCMP, he would know of the working relationships and wanting to make sure that we could collaborate between municipal and federal services, we've seen that in Pictou County and in Cape Breton.

As I say, there was a transition of services that had some difficulty and things were emerging to build on that and we looked at spaces. Within the CBRM there were two RCMP detachments that were left, one was in Reserve Mines, one was in North Sydney. When we consulted with the RCMP, very clearly they recommended the space - because they had additional capacity - in the North Sydney detachment, versus the Reserve Mines detachment. If they had strategic or tactical initiatives, especially drug related, the RCMP would emerge through Reserve Mines and they didn't want to over-burden that. Thus the North Sydney office was chosen.

The other thing that the RCMP indicated was that it was their preference to have North Sydney as a location for the safer communities office was because it would allow them direct access to the Transcanada Highway to Victoria County as well as direct access over into the Sydney area through the Highway No. 125 . They had immediate highway access for strategic and tactical responses to deal with those things that would be important as investigators.

Now, we haven't heard clarity from the minister or from the government about what they're going to do to honour these commitments that, and again I go back - they were not just padding a police force or adding officers for the sake of adding officers. They're very key and strategic to the interests and the needs of safer communities to helping with efforts to grow the economy. To deal with the scourges on society from those who would break the law and abuse children, to dealing with the sensitivities of those facing mental health issues.

The minister would also be aware, through his own statistics, of the success that's been had through the safer communities initiative. The reason for a satellite office within the Department of Justice, working in partnership with the RCMP and then working with the Cape Breton Regional Police Service, was to make sure that we had the hands-on - that the people would be on the ground doing the investigation. Rather than travelling on the highways, they would be on the streets and in the neighbourhoods of the people concerned about illegal activity going on and being able to directly respond to those people.

Mr. Speaker, we have not heard clarity from the Attorney General. I've heard about provincial priorities and I don't disagree with that, but seven officers were hired, furniture was bought for the North Sydney office. It's never the wrong time for the minister as Attorney General to do the right thing for this community because, again, this community was in need of these positions, was deserving of these positions. I'm sure, I'm confident that the Attorney General will honour those commitments that were made and working with his Cabinet colleagues and working with the Deputy Premier and the Premier who understand the uniqueness within Cape Breton right now to deal with a whole wide array of issues

[Page 721]

affecting the community - that we can actually build that broader ability, to build on the initiatives that are happening as we go forward. As the minister also knows, we've got the Provincial Policing Contract that will come up for renewal in this province. This will help strengthen that relationship, build the bonds between municipal and federal policing services, create a strengthened relationship with the Department of Justice and public safety officials who do a phenomenal job in this province. We always know there are always more pressures; that is very clear.

The Attorney General knows from his own working career, you can never possibly deal with all the pressures that are before us, but it's how we manage them and how we resource those areas where other people have stepped up to the plate to deliver services. I know the Attorney General is working with the Chiefs of Police Association. I know the Attorney General will work with his public safety division, work with his Cabinet colleagues and in government to make sure that these 10 positions - 10 very focused, specific, complimentary and additional positions - to deal with issues in an area that has had more than its fair share of challenges. To help the Cape Breton Regional Municipality go through a transition to get to a growth opportunity and as I indicated, some of these deal with managing growth.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that all colleagues from Cape Breton - regardless of what political party they're from - welcome any additions to the policing complement, another tool in the drawer of law enforcement officials, to build on the capacity to address those concerns, and we continue to have these challenges. We have a Police Board in Cape Breton that's looking for the clarity of the funding for the seven positions, we have communities looking to find out where the status of the safer communities office is. Again, I know the Attorney General is a reasonable and responsible person and will see that those obligations that have been made to the community are honoured. The reason I raise it here today going into Supply is to show that it wasn't just a matter of saying, here's 10 positions, why didn't other communities get it?

Again, Mr. Speaker, it's the second largest metropolitan area. I know that members of this House know that the Department of Justice prior would deal with issues within the HRM, to add additional officers, as four were added to help Chief Beazley and his team with regard to the downtown bar establishment problems and the challenges they'd faced. They were very proactive in dealing with that and establishing the community policing and someone to see the oversight of public safety and working with the community and council and all the justice partners.

Mr. Speaker, as we go forward, I know there are other communities that all have requests for additional officers, but the 10 positions for Cape Breton, the strategic investments that were being made and were acted on sincerely, because it was a sincere - it was a legitimate need that was being met by the government that I was part of. I also know that it was helping out - it's helped out in Whitney Pier, it's helped out in New Waterford,

[Page 722]

it's helped out in Sydney and Glace Bay, it has helped out in my own area (Interruptions) While Glace Bay may have some characters, they have needs in their community, Mr. Speaker, to deal with these pressures.

I do know that the Deputy Premier regrettably, like me, has had a higher than desirable number of drug-related problems and crimes. That's what these additional officers were focused on in helping. So, again, when you look at drug crimes being addressed, port security being addressed, child pornography and child exploitation being addressed, mental health policing being addressed, as well as safer communities and investigative capacity for people to know that they don't have to stay at home and stand behind their four walls, their house, in fear - that they can pick up a phone, anonymously send a concern, report an incident, and it will be investigated and action will be taken. That is doing the right thing for and by the people of this entire province, and we're meeting an acute need within Cape Breton.

I will close my remarks by reiterating, for a third time, that it is never the wrong time to do the right thing. I have every confidence that the Attorney General and his colleagues in Cabinet will see fit to honour the 10 policing positions so that this good work can continue, that the good partnerships and relations that have been forged will continue well into the future.

So, with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleagues for their attention, and I want to thank the Attorney General for listening attentively and knowing that he and his colleagues will follow up within the Cape Breton community and know that there was a business case worthy of the investment of this government, and I'll look forward to standing in my place another day and complimenting them in honouring those commitments and congratulating them for doing what is good. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member.

The motion is carried.

[4:13 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

[6:00 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Gordon Gosse in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: We have arrived at the moment of interruption. Tonight's resolution, submitted by the member for Kings West, is:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia provide the people of this province with a priority list of roadwork to be completed in 2009-10."

[Page 723]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TIR: ROADWORK (2009-10) - PRIORITY LIST

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and say a few words on this resolution.

I'm sure I'm not the only MLA who receives calls from constituents - as a matter of fact, I'm sure every MLA, especially rural MLAs, receive calls with regard to roads. Mr. Speaker, I think every week I hear from constituents who have concerns about their roads at home. I also know from speaking with many of the constituents who do call in, they also take the time to call the staff at the local transportation office to raise their concerns with staff over there. So, as I said, roads are certainly important, especially in rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, back on the campaign trail, many voters expressed concerns about their roads to me at the door - they want to know when you're going to pave their road, when you're going to fix their road. So certainly roads have generated a lot of discussion over the years and I am sure they will certainly continue to generate a lot of discussions, especially among rural MLAs.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, many times when constituents raise these concerns, you certainly agree with them - that their road needs some work done. Again, you take the information, you tell the constituents that you will bring their concerns forward to the department's attention, which I do, and I am sure every member here in the House does as well.

At the same time, I'm sure the department staff keeps track of all the roads in our province and their conditions, which ones have to be fixed, which ones need fixing again and, of course, which roads haven't been fixed yet.

Many people have difficulties understanding why nothing gets done repairing their road - they are quick to tell you that they are paying taxes and still nothing gets done on their road. So, as you are aware, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is given a budget by the government every year. Some funding is allocated to fixing our roads and our bridges. Is it enough? When you take into account that we have more than 23,000 kilometres of roads in our province and the department has also to look after somewhere around 4,100 bridges, I'm sure again that there's not enough money.

[Page 724]

We've heard that our government would probably need somewhere over $3 billion to bring our roads and bridges to an acceptable standard - over $3 billion. Again, when you look at the number of roads and the number of bridges that we would have to bring up to standard, I'm sure it would cost a lot of money.

Again, Mr. Speaker, when the government is planning to invest $325 million in capital spending on our roads and on our bridges this year, you know that the government has practically an impossible job in front of them. So what Nova Scotians would like to know is what the department's priorities are for this current year - where is the department planning to spend this $325 million on our highways and on our bridges?

Mr. Speaker, our Liberal caucus has tried more than once to get the government to table their priority list so everyone can see for themselves what road, what roadwork, and what bridges will be replaced or repaired in 2009-10.

I recall a meeting with representatives from Nova Scotia Road Builders Association back in January of this year. I was told it cost approximately $300,000 to repave one kilometre of our roads. Another number that was really astonishing for me to learn was it cost approximately $2.5 million to construct one kilometre of a new road. Road work is certainly not cheap to do but again, when the department is planning to spend $325 million this year, I'm sure the department has a priority list inside the department. I fail to understand the reasoning behind why the government failed to provide us with that list.

Back in 2007, the federal government announced the Building Canada Fund; this is a new infrastructure program. Under the program, the federal government announced that the priorities for funding would include our national highway system, drinking water, waste water, public transit, green energy. Under this fund, Nova Scotia is going to receive $235 million in federal funding. This money is going to be divided up in two components.

The first component is called the Communities Component and it's to help communities with a population of less than 100,000 people. Under this component, Nova Scotia's going to receive $37 million that will be set aside by the federal government. The second component, our province is to receive a little over $198 million in federal funding to assist with major infrastructure projects.

Under the Building Canada Fund, Nova Scotia is to submit projects that are cost-shared. The arrangement may vary for cost-sharing of these projects among the different partners. Normally the cost of infrastructure projects is a three-way split. Each partner is putting 33 per cent of the cost forward among the federal government, the provincial, the municipalities or other partners. The funding arrangements can vary, can be split among two partners or three partners. So, the arrangements are left to be negotiated by the partners involved.

[Page 725]

I'm sure when the federal government did announce the Building Canada Fund in 2007, our provincial government had their priority list. Our Liberal caucus has attempted, on many occasions, to find out what our government's priorities are and still, for whatever reason, the government is holding back on providing that information to the people of Nova Scotia.

The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has told us in this House, just a few days ago, that he has been speaking with the federal minister responsible, so obviously the minister has a list of projects, but continues to refuse to share that list with the people of Nova Scotia. For a Party, when they were sitting on this side of the House, not that long ago, they were calling upon the government to be open, transparent and to be accountable to the people of Nova Scotia. Now that Party is over there on the government benches, what happened to open, transparent and accountable? This government is no different from the previous government.

I'm calling upon the minister, I'm calling upon the government - we have tried on many occasions to get the government to table that priority list of road work to be carried out in this province, in this current year. I hope the government will take this under consideration and table that list. I know my time is coming to an end and I'm sure I'll have an opportunity again to an end and I'm sure I'll have an opportunity again to raise the very same concerns. So thank you again to have the opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to stand today to talk in late debate about the resolution and, of course, the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia provide the people of this province with a priority list of roadwork to be completed in 2009-10."

Mr. Speaker, I too, do remember on many occasions the Opposition criticizing us, of course, for not providing a long-term plan for road work in this province. I can assure you that we had a plan but that plan - as I'm sure the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is finding out - is apt to change on a regular basis as issues are brought forward. It's very difficult to say that this is going to be done, that's going to be done, this bridge needs to be done. Because, as we all know, things come up, whether they be rainstorms, whether they be structures breaking, hurricanes - you name it - causes lists of course to change because the priority is a need to react to those specific incidents.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that as much as this caucus would like to see a list as well, I can tell you that I know it's not very easy to put together. So, of course, put that information as best you can, work it as best you can with the information you have and what the department is providing you with. I am going to use my time speaking more specifically of

[Page 726]

one project that I want to see on the list, one that I have been working for, working hard for a very long period of time, and one that I had on the list, and one that I hope will stay there. That is the Indian Sluice Bridge in my constituency.

The Indian Sluice Bridge, a number of weeks ago, celebrated its 100th Anniversary. One hundred years ago, with the help of the federal government at that time and the Province of Nova Scotia, I believe, built the Indian Sluice Bridge. I forget how many feet long it is, it's over 100 feet, if not 300 feet long. It spans three spans of bridge, two abutments, of course, on each end, and two supporting those structures as well. So it's 100 years old this year and we had a wonderful celebration on Surettes Island, Ile de Surette, where we celebrated on August 15th not only the anniversary of that parish but also the 100th Anniversary of the bridge.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that the residents of the island are very concerned about their bridge. What I had asked originally of the previous minister and the previous, previous minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal is to have a plan, you know, simply a plan. I wasn't necessarily asking to go and replace the bridge today but it was more to have a plan to replace that bridge should the funds become available, like the Building Canada Fund, or what have you. Because I knew, and I'm sure the residents of Surettes Island and Morris Island understand, what kind of costs would be attributed to building a bridge of that size. Numbers have been thrown around of anywhere from $10 million to $14 million, to $16 million, to replace that bridge. So it's not the same thing as many of our little bridges here, there and everywhere where we're replacing those green bridges that were constructed for a time when there were horses and buggies and we weren't putting a whole lot of weight across them.

This bridge has such a span in it that a Bailey Bridge, or what have you, will not suffice. So should the structure fail, as it did in I believe 1996, or 1995, I can't quite remember the exact date that the bridge failed, where - basically, after receiving a whole replacement of the underneath, they replaced every U-bolt, every piece they needed to replace underneath. A gravel truck comes across it and the back wheels of that gravel truck did not make it off the bridge. For approximately three months the residents of Morris Island and Surettes Island had to walk across a little gangplank, across the work that was being done to the bridge, to get to the other side in order to partake in life - meaning the kids going to school, going to the grocery store, going to work, going to visit friends.

[6:15 p.m.]

Luckily, because of it being a small community, people prior to the collapse were at work or doing some other thing, so you pretty much had half the cars in Sluice Point - which is the land side of the bridge - and you had half the cars sitting in Surettes Island. So basically what was happening is that people were leaving their keys in the cars and saying, listen, I'm going home, you can use my car to go to town, and vice versa. We were lucky in that case.

[Page 727]

So a guy like Eddie Madden, who lives right off the bridge - it's the first house to the right - he had about four cars, so he had two on one side and two on the other, and anybody who wanted to use them were more than welcome to use them during that period. For three months that bridge was down until it was safe to cross again.

So here it is, 100 years old, and we don't really have our plan ready, and what I'm saying - and I thank the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for meeting with me and talking about this bridge and his work to make sure that this bridge is on the lists. It's all we ask, Mr. Speaker, it's all we ask, Mr. Minister, that this is on the list slated for replacement at the earliest possible convenience. The people of Surettes Island and Morris Island are tremendously concerned because it is the only access to the mainland for these communities.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much for the opportunity to speak to this resolution today and the importance of having a good list, but one that will react to the needs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will be sharing my time with the good member for Queens.

The topic of Nova Scotia roads and highway systems is very important to me, to every member of this House and, of course, to all Nova Scotians. As MLAs we regularly hear from our constituents about roads and bridges that need improvement. As my colleague, the member for Argyle mentioned earlier, it was a pleasure to meet with him earlier in the session to look over the needs of that particular bridge that he has mentioned.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure you that the need for road improvements is a key focus of this minister, this government, and the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. There are more than 23,000 kilometres of roads in our beautiful province. This, of course, includes 100-Series Highways and a vast network of secondary roads. Whether it's a major highway or a less-travelled secondary road, each and every kilometre is important to the people who use it. These roads are important to local businesses, whether they're receiving much-needed goods or exporting our homegrown products. They are important to our tourism industry so that we can continue to attract visitors and keep them coming back to our wonderful province. A strong road network is important to all Nova Scotians, to make sure that we have safe and efficient ways of travelling between our communities.

Mr. Speaker, since coming to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I have had many, many tenders cross my desk. These are brought forward to me and have been brought forward to me on a daily basis by experienced, skilled, and dedicated

[Page 728]

staff. I've met with area MLAs on all sides of the House, and I want to make this very clear again for all members present, that at no time when I saw a project which had been brought to my attention did the question ever cross my lips, in whose constituency is this particular project? Now, that might be a little bit different from past times.

I'm looking at my staff and they're saying these projects are projects which we consider a priority and that we need them done for various reasons. This staff has very detailed information about the condition of each and every road, and each and every bridge. They know what they are doing, they care about the communities, and they are making sure that this minister is getting the best possible advice. They apply the knowledge in a strategic way, so I can trust their recommendations.

Mr. Speaker, it's been an extraordinarily busy summer for road construction in this province. There have been road builders busy right across Nova Scotia, helping to deliver the largest highway construction and improvement program in our history. It has been a very busy summer and I know, of course, we had an election at the beginning of our season and that certainly called back some of the tenders that we couldn't get all announced, but we've announced many, many projects. We've shared this information about these projects in our communities and, of course, all tenders are posted on the procurement Web site with the department.

Mr. Speaker, I know Nova Scotians are pleased to see these improvements. We all know there are many needs, however - many different needs - and I appreciate hearing from people when they have concerns. Part of the conversations that I'm having with Nova Scotians is sharing information about our work, including the challenges and opportunities, but listening to what they consider their needs in each one of their communities. That is why we are committed to delivering a five-year plan. It is something we've asked for ourselves in the past - a plan.

Mr. Speaker, I met with staff some time ago to start the discussion about fulfilling this commitment. This long-term planning will mean a new approach to doing business in this province when it comes to transportation, when it comes to infrastructure renewal, when it comes to improvements to our bridges and our road system. It will be good for staff, it will be good for road builders, and it will be good for Nova Scotians.

Building a long-term plan means determining which projects need to be done, when they need to be done, and how much funding we can reasonably plan on to make sure they do get done and how we are making sure we're getting the most bang for our buck. Mr. Speaker, it is a challenge, but let me assure you it will be a reasonable plan, one that balances the improvements needed along with our need to live within our means. We will construct the plan carefully and we will share it with all Nova Scotians.

[Page 729]

We are committed to the plan. I look forward to sharing it with members of this House and all Nova Scotians, because without a good plan you never know where you're going. I will share the remainder of my time with the honourable member for Queens, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to stand in my place to speak to this resolution. I am also very pleased to have been appointed ministerial assistant to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. We work very well together and I am very committed to working on whatever tasks he feels that I am able to assist him with.

I also know that the minister is very committed to working with all members of the House. I am very pleased to know that the member for Argyle is also pleased to know that the minister is committed to working with all members of the House in regard to their concerns and their constituents' concerns about the roads in their particular ridings.

I also want to say that prior to the election and my time as the Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Critic, I recognized very quickly the importance of our roads and infrastructure across this province. I am also pleased to say that during that time as both critic and now serving as the ministerial assistant to the minister, that the dedication and the commitment and the expertise and the knowledge of all of the staff who work within the department is to be commended.

When I was first elected as a member, I had the pleasure of going out with my area manager in Queens. He took me all across my riding so that I could have a better understanding of not only the different types of roads we have within that riding but also he pointed out the different levels of maintenance required for each particular road infrastructure. We're so fortunate to have staff working in the departments who do have the expertise and the knowledge.

I want to assure all members of the House that the minister has been working diligently on ensuring that our road priorities are being met. A few examples of those priorities: On Highway No. 101, we're seeing a new interchange and connector road in progress at a cost of $7.5 million; at exit 5A into Windsor, there's a new roundabout being constructed; and at exits 4 and 5, the twinning is moving forward at a cost of $9.5 million.

Highway No.102 is seeing work done on Larry Uteck Boulevard and on Highway No. 104, we see the continuation of the twinning. We see phase one of the Antigonish highway, the new four-lane highway, that is, at a cost of $80 million. We also see on Highway No. 125, twinning moving forward at the Balls Creek and Coxheath section at a cost of $7.3 million. All of these great projects can be accessed on the government Web site - the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Web site.

[Page 730]

We also have great work being done in Pictou East. We have a 4.4 kilometre section of Route No. 347. We have a 5 kilometre section on Route No. 245 and we have a new bridge crossing, the East River of Pictou County. These projects are nearing completion and it's a good sign that the minister and his department are taking road priorities seriously.

On Trunk No. 4, upgrading is happening at a cost of $25 million. Trunk No. 3 in Lunenburg County, the Gold River bridge was replaced and it was well needed in that community. In the riding of Queens, after Hurricane Bill came through, the Western Head causeway suffered tremendous damage and was completely washed out. I can tell you the staff at DOT and the minister acted very quickly to stabilize the area and work is continuing over the coming weeks. Upon completion, that causeway will be improved to ensure a stronger foundation and shoreline protection.

I want to tell you that just last week, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal replaced the old and aging Westfield Bridge on Old Westfield Road. Both safety and fish habitat were taken seriously by the department when this bridge was replaced. On Drews Hill Road in Lunenburg County, there is ditching and culverting, much needed work on that particular section of road.

Bush cutting and culverting is in progress all across this province and is being completed. There are numerous roads throughout this province that are seeing much needed patchwork and all of the maintenance required, and that will continue.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say I have full confidence in the minister and the department staff to carry out road work in this province in a manner that takes the needs and safety of Nova Scotians as one of its first priorities. That should be important to all members of this House, that we take the safety and the priorities of Nova Scotians across this province very seriously.

I'm here to assist our minister to the best of my ability and I look forward to working, over the next months and years to come, and all of the good projects that we'll see moving forward. Thank you. I believe my time is - I still have two minutes?

MR. SPEAKER: No, you still have 10 seconds.

MS. CONRAD: Ten seconds to talk about . . . well, the member for Argyle certainly had some opportunity . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. The honourable member's time has expired. I want to thank all the honourable members tonight for an excellent debate. I will now ask that we recess for a few short minutes so I can ask the honourable Minister of Health to get her staff back in and we can resume debate on Supply. Thank you.

[Page 731]

[6:29 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:34 p.m. The House reconveved into a CWH on Supply.]

[7:58 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Charlie Parker, resumed the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

THE CLERK: That the committee has met, made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I move that the House do now rise, to meet tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. After the orders of the day we will resolve into Committee of the Whole House on Supply. I move we do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a motion for adjournment.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

[The House rose at 7:59 p.m.]

[Page 732]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 361

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the girl's junior bowling team from Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling participated in the Canadian National Youth Bowling Championships hosted by Heather Lanes in Sydney; and

Whereas the girl's junior team from Glace Bay won silver in the Canadian National Championships; and

Whereas team members are Rebecca McNeil, Caitland MacLean and Kelsey Clements;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Rebecca McNeil, Caitland MacLean and Kelsey Clements of Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling for their accomplishment.

RESOLUTION NO. 362

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the girl's bantam bowling team from Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling participated in the Canadian National Youth Bowling Championships hosted by Heather Lanes in Sydney; and

Whereas the girl's bantam team from Glace Bay are the Canadian National Champions; and

Whereas team members are Shae-Lyn McNeil, Natasha Brown and Kayla Boutilier;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Shae-Lyn McNeil, Natasha Brown and Kayla Boutilier of Glace Bay Atlantic Youth Bowling for their accomplishment.

[Page 733]

RESOLUTION NO. 363

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas a long tradition of providing music education to Queens County residents has been provided by the Mersey Band; and

Whereas the Mersey Band's mandate has always been to offer training programs through summer camps, adult band camp and year long lessons; and

Whereas all ages can participate in the training programs offered by the band;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize members of the Mersey Band for continuing their long tradition of providing music education in Queens County.