Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 09-26

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 22, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - North Hills Nursing Home: Closure - Prevent,
Hon. S. McNeil 1596
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 760, Tompkins, Graham - Natl. Geographic Geography World
Championships, Hon. M. More 1597
Vote - Affirmative 1598
Res. 761, Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse: Travail -
Felicitations, Hon. G. Steele 1598
Vote - Affirmative 1599
Res. 762, C.B. Ctr. for Craft & Design - Sydney Area Bus. Award,
Hon. P. Paris 1599
Vote - Affirmative 1600
Res. 763, Registered Nurses Coll. (N.S.) - Can Excellence Award,
The Premier 1600
Vote - Affirmative 1600
Res. 764, Snider, Steve - IBTTA: Pres. - Election,
Hon. G. Steele 1600
Vote - Affirmative 1601
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 48, Pension Benefits Act, Hon. M. More 1601
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 765, Fish. & Aquaculture Min.: Conflict -
Commissioner Re-Examine, Hon. S. McNeil 1602
Res. 766, Florida Panthers: Port Hawkesbury/Inverness Co. Training Camp -
Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 1602
Vote - Affirmative 1603
Res. 767, MacDonald, Shelley/MacEachern, Carla -
Prime Minister's Teaching Excellence Award, Mr. C. MacKinnon 1603
Vote - Affirmative 1604
Res. 768, Margaretsville: Lighthouse Commemoration - Congrats.,
Hon. S. McNeil 1604
Vote - Affirmative 1604
Res. 769, Laguna Pools & Hot Tubs - Sydney & Area Bus. Award,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1605
Vote - Affirmative 1605
Res. 770, MacDonell, Susan - Tom Parker Award,
Hon. J. MacDonell 1605
Vote - Affirmative 1606
Res. 771, Health: H1N1 Immunization - Nova Scotians Encourage,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1606
Vote - Affirmative 1607
Res. 772, Stephen Lewis Fdn.: Nova Scotians - Assistance Acknowledge,
Mr. H. Epstein 1607
Vote - Affirmative 1607
Res. 773, Willows, Tayte: Commun. Contributions - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 1608
Vote - Affirmative 1608
Res. 774, Fitzgerald, Henry - Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal,
Mr. K. Bain 1608
Vote - Affirmative 1609
Res. 775, Reimer, Cathy - Natl. Excellence Award for Teachers,
Mr. J. Morton 1609
Vote - Affirmative 1610
Res. 776, DeCoste, John - Atl. Univ. Sport Media Award,
Mr. L. Glavine 1610
Vote - Affirmative 1611
Res. 777, HMCS Kootenay - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1611
Vote - Affirmative 1611
Res. 778, Spa at Ninety4: Breast Cancer Awareness - Commitment,
Ms. P. Birdsall 1612
Vote - Affirmative 1612
Res. 779, RCL. Br. 22 (Bear River) - Walk of Fame,
Mr. H. Theriault 1612
Vote - Affirmative 1613
Res. 780, Westchester Vol. FD/Families/Ladies Aux.: Work - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 1613
Vote - Affirmative 1614
Res. 781, N.S. House of Assembly: Women Members -
Number Recognize, Mr. J. Boudreau 1614
Vote - Affirmative 1615
Res. 782, Nocturne: Organizers/Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1615
Vote - Affirmative 1615
Res. 783, Bras d'Or Seniors & Pensioners Club; Pres./Exec./Members -
Recognize, Hon. C. Clarke 1616
Vote - Affirmative 1616
Res. 784, Health Digby Neck/Islands: Nurse Practitioner -
Min. Review, Mr. H. Theriault 1616
Vote - Affirmative 1618
Res. 785, Meisner, Cheryl: Athlete Talent - Recognize,
Hon. K. Casey 1617
Vote - Affirmative 1618
Res. 786, Gillis, Charlotte & Dave/R.D. Gillis Home Building Supplies -
Sydney Area Bus. Award, Mr. A. MacLeod 1618
Vote - Affirmative 1619
Res. 787, Easter Seals Nova Scotia: Official Name - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 1619
Vote - Affirmative 1620
Res. 788, Colins, Ohra & Ross - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. M. Scott 1620
Vote - Affirmative 1621
Res. 789, Higgins, Bill - Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal,
Mr. K. Bain 1621
Vote - Affirmative 1621
Res. 790, Walsh, Vernon: Olympic Torchbearer - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 1621
Vote - Affirmative 1622
Res. 791, Prem./Cabinet: Economic Downturn - Combat,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1622
Res. 792, Health: ER Closures/Code Oranges - End,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1623
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 221, Prem. - HARP Cuts: Oil Price - Effect,
Hon. S. McNeil 1624
No. 222, Educ. - Pub. Libraries: MOU - Status,
Hon. K. Casey 1625
No. 223, Prem. - Feed Nova Scotia: Funding - Increase,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1626
No. 224, Health - Dart. Gen. Hosp.: Situation - Improvements,
Mr. A. Younger 1627
No. 225, Com. Serv. - Bonny Lea Farm: Meeting - Attendees,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1629
No. 226, Health: EIBI Prog. - Budget Allocation,
Ms. D. Whalen 1630
No. 227, ERD - Aerospace Companies: Nova Scotia - Expansion,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1632
No. 228, Com. Serv.: Foster Parent Per Diem Rates - Increase,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1633
No. 229, ERD - C.B.: Action - Details,
Hon. C. Clarke ~ 1635
No. 230, NSBI - Venture Capital: Green Companies - Access,
Mr. A. Younger 1636
No. 231, Educ.: P-12 Strategy - Consultations,
Ms. K. Regan 1638
No. 232, Nat. Res. - Spruce Bark Beetle: Outbreak - Plans,
Mr. K. Bain 1639
No. 233, Agric. - Kelco Rept.: Recommendations - Implement,
Mr. L. Glavine 1640
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 44, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act,
Hon. R. Landry 1641
Hon. R. Landry 1641
Hon. S. McNeil 1642
Hon. R. Landry 1642
Vote - Affirmative 1642
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 44, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act,
Hon. R. Landry 1643
Vote - Affirmative 1643
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 15, Beneficiaries Designation Act, Hon. R. Landry 1643
Hon. G. Steele 1643
Ms. D. Whalen 1643
Hon. M. Scott 1644
Hon. G. Steele 1644
Vote - Affirmative 1644
No. 25, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1644
Hon. R. Jennex 1644
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1645
Hon. C. Clarke 1646
Hon. R. Jennex 1646
Vote - Affirmative 1646
No. 7, Trade Union Act, Hon. M. More 1646
Hon. M. More 1646
Ms. K. Regan 1648
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1648
Hon. M. More 1648
Vote - Affirmative 1649
No. 34, Emergency Management Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1649
Hon. R. Jennex 1649
Ms. D. Whalen 1651
Mr. K. Bain 1653
Hon. R. Jennex 1654
Vote - Affirmative 1654
No. 9, Assessment Act/Municipal Grants Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1654
Hon. R. Jennex 1654
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1655
Hon. C. Clarke 1656
Hon. R. Jennex 1656
Vote - Affirmative 1656
No. 10, Personal Property Security Act, Hon. R. Jennex 1656
Hon. R. Jennex 1657
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1657
Hon. C. Clarke 1657
Hon. R. Jennex 1658
Vote - Affirmative 1658
No. 27, Occupational Health and Safety Act, Hon. M. More 1658
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1658
Ms. K. Regan 1658
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1658
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1659
Vote - Affirmative 1659
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health: EIBI - Funding Increase,
Mr. L. Glavine 1660
Ms. D. Whalen 1660
Hon. M. Scott 1662
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1664
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1665
ADJOURNMENT, The House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 23rd at 9:00 a.m. 1667
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 793, Sawler, Linda - PSC Long-Serv. Award (25 Yrs.),
Mr. C. Porter 1668
Res. 794, Bower, Lisa/Burns, Kim: Windsor Walk a Block for Lupus -
Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 1668^^^
Res. 795, Roach, Darlene: Liberty Lodge - Anniv. (25th),
Mr. L. Glavine 1669

[Page 1595]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 22, 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. Before we proceed with the daily routine, I'll mention the late debate topic, under Rule 5(5):

Therefore be it resolved that the government increase funding to EIBI.

It is submitted by the honourable member for Annapolis. That debate will take place at the moment of interruption, at six o'clock.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party on an introduction.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. We did have the pleasure yesterday of welcoming to this House MLA-elect Maurice Smith from the Antigonish riding, and we welcomed him. He was here to watch the proceedings and to receive our welcome.

Today we have the second MLA-elect as a result of the by-election, Allan MacMaster. (Standing Ovation)

[Page 1596]

1595

AN HON. MEMBER: Finally, a good-looking man over there. (Laughter)

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: That's your opinion.

MS. CASEY: And I love it. (Laughter) I do want to thank all members for welcoming Allan. Allan, as you know, is no stranger to government, having worked as a staffer, and is very pleased to join us now and will be joining us in the Legislative Assembly. He represents the area of Inverness. His home is in Judique, Cape Breton, and he certainly has a good understanding of the issues in Inverness County, has his ear to the ground, understands the culture, understands the economy, understands the needs.

I welcome him to our caucus. He will be a great addition. He brings a financial background which will be an asset to our caucus. I look forward not only to his looks but to working with him. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. We certainly welcome our MLA-elect and look forward to both MLAs joining us here on the floor of the Legislature in a couple weeks' time.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition entitled, Don't Close North Hills Nursing Home:

"We, the undersigned, ask that the NS government not allow this nursing home to close. Our loved ones will be moved a long drive away, making it difficult to visit them. In their final years, they must be near family."

Mr. Speaker, there are approximately 920 signatures, and I have affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

[Page 1597]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have a couple of groups I'd like to introduce in the gallery. Perhaps with your permission I could do one now and perhaps the other before I table a bill.

The subject of my resolution is in the gallery and I would ask him to stand - Graham Tompkins. He is here with his parents, Nancy Graham and Kelly Tompkins, if they would stand as well, and also his grandparents, Samuel and Marion Graham. I ask everyone to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 760

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

Whereas Dartmouth High School student Graham Tompkins dedicated large amounts of his personal time to studying for the prestigious National Geographic Geography competition this past summer; and

Whereas Mr. Tompkins and the two other members of the Canadian team were successful against groups from the United States and Poland to capture first place; and

Whereas Graham Tomkins is a National Geographic Geography World Champion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our sincere congratulations to Graham Tomkins for the amazing first-place win at the 2009 National Geographic Geography World Championships and congratulate him for his perseverance, work effort, and success.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1598]

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 Acadian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 761

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: M. le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse est un regroupement d'organismes régionaux, provinciaux et institutionnels d'expression française qui s'engage à promouvoir l'épanouissement et le développement global de la communauté acadienne et francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse; et

Attendu que les 23, 24, 25 octobre, la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse tiendra son assemblée générale annuelle à l'hôtel Park Place Ramada Plaza, à Dartmouth, proposant à ses membres une fin de semaine de réflexion sur les cinq prochaines années, ce qui a inspiré le thème de cette année: l'Acadie de la Nouvelle-Écosse, forte, engagée et prospère; et

Attendu que près d'une centaine de personnes se réuniront dans le but de souligner le travail de la FANE et de ses organismes membres durant la dernière année et pour assister au lancement officiel du Plan de développement global 2009-2014 de la communauté acadienne et francophone de la Nouvelle-Écosse;

Par conséquent, qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette Assemblée se joignent à moi pour féliciter la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse pour son travail remarquable au cours de la dernière année et pour souhaiter une bonne assemblée générale annuelle à tous ses membres.

Mr. Speaker, I will also table an English version of that resolution, the operative clause of which reads:

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House join me in congratulating the Acadian Federation of Nova Scotia for their remarkable work throughout the year and wish all participants a successful annual general meeting.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1599]

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 Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 762

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

Whereas arts and culture make important contributions to the quality of life enjoyed by Nova Scotians and help to ensure that our stories and ideas influence national and global culture; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design plays a critical role in nurturing the talent of craftspeople in Cape Breton in helping those artists reach wider and more diverse audiences; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design has received the Sydney and Area Excellence in Business Award for the not-for-profit sector for demonstrating excellence in operations, contributing to the cause for not-for-profit organizations, following best practices, and showing strong growth in performance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cape Breton Centre for Craft and Design on receiving this award which recognizes the Sydney and Area Excellence in Business Award for the unique contribution it is making to creative excellence in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1600]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 763

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

Whereas the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia is the recipient of one of the National Quality Institute's 2009 Canada Awards for Excellence; and

Whereas the Canada Awards for Excellence are presented annually since 1984 to private- and public-sector organizations recognizing outstanding achievements in the areas of quality, customer service, and healthy workplace; and

Whereas the Canada Awards for Excellence will be presented to 22 recipients today in Toronto;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia for winning the prestigious Canada Awards for Excellence and for their commitment to quality, customer service, and a healthy workplace.

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 responsible for the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 764

[Page 1601]

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

Whereas Steve Snider is the General Manager and CEO of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission and is responsible for the overall operations, maintenance, and administration of the Angus L. Macdonald and the A. Murray MacKay Bridges; and

Whereas Mr. Snider has held this position since 1994 and has led the organization through significant transportation projects including the introduction of electronic tolling and the construction of the third lane on the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge; and

Whereas the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association is a worldwide alliance of toll operators and associated industries with members in 25 countries on six continents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Steve Snider on being elected the president of the International Bridge, Tunnel and Turnpike Association.

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.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, we have students from Dartmouth High School. They include students from the Grade 10 Mi'kmaq Studies program and the Grade 12 Global Studies program and they're here with their teacher, Don Houle. Mr. Houle has been a strong supporter of Model Parliament and has organized the Dartmouth High Model Parliament for a number of years. So on behalf of the MLA for Dartmouth North and myself, I would like to invite them to stand and receive the warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

[Page 1602]

Bill No. 48 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 340 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Pension Benefits Act. (Hon. Marilyn More)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 765

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

Whereas the Official Opposition has requested the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine the sale of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture's lobster boat and licence, and a possible conflict therein; and

Whereas Section 9 of the Ministerial Code of Conduct states that a resolution of the House of Assembly or a request of the Executive Council may call upon the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to investigate a complaint under the code; and

Whereas the government has steadfastly claimed that there has been no wrongdoing on the part of the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly unanimously endorse this resolution, thereby enabling the Conflict of Interest Commissioner to re-examine this case and consider all pertinent information provided and available.

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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 766

[Page 1603]

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

Whereas the NHL Florida Panthers recently completed a training camp in Port Hawkesbury; and

Whereas the people of Inverness County embraced Canada's game and were treated to world-class hockey otherwise only witnessed on a Saturday night watching Hockey Night in Canada; and

Whereas the Panthers were treated to legendary hospitality and warmth by this community and had the opportunity to prepare for the upcoming season in front of a crowd whose knowledge of and love for the sport is second to none;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Town of Port Hawkesbury and the County of Inverness for successfully supporting such an impressive hockey event and also encourage the Florida Panthers to return again next year.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 767

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

Whereas Thorburn Consolidated School teachers Shelley MacDonald and Carla MacEachern introduced laptop technology with wireless access to all students and integrated it into the school curriculum; and

Whereas these educators were among 84 teachers to receive the Prime Minister's Award for Teaching Excellence at a ceremony on October 5th, 2009, in Ottawa; and

[Page 1604]

Whereas these awards recognize recipients for their ability to instill a love of learning through the use of technology;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Thorburn Consolidated teachers Shelley MacDonald and Carla MacEachern for receiving this honour and for their commitment to creative learning.

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 Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 768

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

Whereas one of Nova Scotia's earliest lighthouses, built in 1859 on the rugged coastline of Margaretsville in Annapolis County, is one of the few remaining beacons still flashing a warning to vessels travelling the Bay of Fundy; and

Whereas once powered by kerosene and now electricity, this powerful light has kept many ships from running aground on the rugged shoals off Margaretsville; and

Whereas while inspiring many artists, poets and songwriters and serving as a backdrop for many wedding photos, this seaside community is set to commemorate their beloved light;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly join me in extending best wishes to Margaretsville in celebrating this legendary landmark.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1605]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 769

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

Whereas the fact that the vast majority of new business start-ups fail within the first couple years of operation makes the prospect of small business success far more impressive; and

Whereas Laguna Pools and Hot Tubs of Sydney River is quickly becoming the benchmark for business start-ups to follow, as they were recently presented the Rising Star Award at the 20th annual Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce Excellence in Business Awards; and

Whereas the long hours of hard work, the professionalism and the knowledgeable staff make Laguna Pools a deserving recipient of this impressive title;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the staff at Laguna Pools and Hot Tubs for winning the Rising Star Award and wish them many years of 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.

[Page 1606]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 770

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

Whereas Tom Parker of Enfield was a successful entrepreneur and founding member of the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce honours his memory with an annual award in his name to a local entrepreneur; and

Whereas on November 20th, 2009, Ms. Susan McDonell of Catering Unlimited will be honoured with the Tom Parker Award by the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Susan McDonell on being honoured with the Tom Parker Award and wish her business great success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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. 771

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 the possibility of an H1N1 outbreak is a concern to most Nova Scotians; and

[Page 1607]

Whereas Dr. Robert Strang and his team of health professionals at Health Promotion and Protection have ensured that the H1N1 vaccine is ready for Nova Scotians to begin an immunization program this Monday; and

Whereas everyone will be able to be vaccinated whether they are in a priority group or not;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage residents of Nova Scotia to become immunized in the lead-up to the flu season with the H1N1 vaccine.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 772

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

Whereas the continent of Africa has been severely affected by the HIV/AIDS pandemic; and

Whereas the Steven Lewis Foundation has supported over 300 grassroots projects in sub-Saharan Africa; and

Whereas people across Nova Scotia and Canada have been taking part in the Dare to Remember Campaign;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the efforts of Nova Scotians as they help the Steven Lewis Foundation in their effort to turn the tide of HIV/AIDS in Africa.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1608]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 773

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

Whereas many community groups and organizations in our province would not be able to continue their work without the commitment and dedication of volunteers; and

Whereas on May 24, 2009, the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee held their annual Community Champions Awards Dinner to recognize outstanding volunteers who consistently dedicate their time and effort to improving the lives of others; and

Whereas Tayte Willows, co-president of Halifax West High School, has been recognized by the committee for her extraordinary commitment to volunteerism at her school, her church and in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tayte Willows for the tremendous contributions she makes in her community and wish her continued success in the future.

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 1609]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 774

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 Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal recognizes those persons who have dedicated themselves to preserving Canada's public safety through long and outstanding service; and

Whereas the awards are national in scope and are part of the Canadian honours system in recognition of service rendered to the country; and

Whereas DFO Officer Henry Fitzgerald of Dingwall was recently presented his Exemplary Service Medal by Her Honour, Mayann Francis for 30 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Henry Fitzgerald on receiving this prestigious medal and thank him for his 30 years of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 775

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

[Page 1610]

Whereas Cathy Reimer has had a 27-year career as an educator in Nova Scotia and currently teaches Grade 3 at Aldershot Elementary School; and

Whereas Cathy Reimer has been recognized as a teacher who demonstrates respect and outstanding authority in her approach to the academic, emotional and social needs of her students; and

Whereas the Heritage Educational Foundation has chosen Cathy Reimer as the 2009 Atlantic Provinces recipient of the National Excellence Awards for Teachers (NEAT) for her exceptional work with young students;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend Cathy Reimer for being a teacher who inspires a love of learning that can last a lifetime, and congratulate her on being the 2009 recipient of the National Excellence Awards for Teachers for 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 776

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

Whereas Acadia University alumnus John DeCoste is the inaugural recipient of the Atlantic University Sport Media Award; and

Whereas John writes for the Kings County Advertiser and Kings County Register in the Annapolis Valley where he covers Acadia University athletics both as a journalist and as a photographer; and

[Page 1611]

Whereas in addition to this honour, John DeCoste is nominated for the CIS Fred Sgambati Media Award to be presented in June;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate John DeCoste for this honour 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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 777

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

Whereas a memorial service is scheduled for 8:30 a.m. tomorrow morning at the Sailors Memorial at Point Pleasant Park here in Halifax in remembrance of the horrible explosion on the HMCS Kootenay 40 years ago tomorrow morning that claimed the lives of nine sailors while injuring 53 others; and

Whereas the temperature in the starboard gearbox on that fateful October 23rd morning in 1969 reached 650 Celsius; and

Whereas tomorrow's service, 40 years later, will remember the valiant actions of the crew aboard the HMCS Kootenay and the heroic actions of those involved while also remembering the nine brave sailors who did not survive the explosion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly recognize tomorrow's 40th Anniversary of the explosion aboard the HMCS Kootenay and recognize the brave actions put forth by all of our military both yesterday and today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1612]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 778

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

Whereas October 2009 is Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and

Whereas the staff of the Spa at Ninety4 at the Lunenburg Arms volunteered their skills to raise money for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation through Spa for the Cure on Wednesday, October 8th; and

Whereas the Spa for the Cure event not only featured pink-themed spa services but musical entertainment, stories from breast cancer survivors, and a nurse practitioner educating the group on breast exams;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the staff at Spa Ninety4 in Lunenburg for their commitment to raise awareness of breast cancer and wish them luck with their future fundraising 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 1613]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 779

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

Whereas time passes and memories fade, but the Bear River Legion Branch 22 is building a walk of fame of those veterans not recognized in the past; and

Whereas the walk of fame will consist of a walkway with foot stones and an arch whereupon the front will list the Navy, Army, Air Force, Merchant Marine, Peacekeeping Forces, the RCMP, and the rear will list all wars Canada took part in, including the war in Afghanistan as well as the words Lest We Forget written in both English and French; and

Whereas each marble foot stone can hold 12 names where 104 veterans thus far will be recognized and those wishing to put a name on a stone can do so for a small fee;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize Bear River Legion Branch 22 for their efforts to commemorate their veterans and wish them well with this endeavour.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 780

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

[Page 1614]

Whereas on November 28, 2009, members of the Westchester Fire Department, the ladies auxiliary and their families will gather to celebrate at their annual banquet to pay honour and respect to those who serve their community; and

Whereas this fire department and ladies auxiliary has given many, many hours of dedicated service to the local community and residents over the years, whether it be responding to emergencies, training, fundraising, or many other community events; and

Whereas this is an opportune time for members of the fire department and the ladies auxiliary and their families to take a moment for themselves, to enjoy each other's company, and to reflect on the great work that this volunteer fire department and ladies auxiliary does for the Westchester area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the members of the Westchester Volunteer Fire Department, the ladies auxiliary, and especially their families, and say a special thank you for the tremendous work they do on behalf of the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 781

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

Whereas October is celebrated as Women's History Month in Canada; and

Whereas the Persons Case became a legal history milestone in Canada when five women from Alberta, known as the Famous Five, asked the Supreme Court of Canada to declare that women were persons under the law; and

[Page 1615]

Whereas after the Supreme Court turned them down, they appealed to the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council on October 18, 1929, and the Privy Council declared in the famous Persons Case that women were persons and thus eligible to hold any appointed or elected office;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the record number of women in this House, the important roles women perform in this Assembly and the equally important roles that these women perform at all levels of governance in the Province 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 member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 782

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

Whereas Nocturne: Art at Night was a free event this past Saturday, October 17, 2009, that showcased and celebrated the arts scene in HRM; and

Whereas artists showcase their works at 32 galleries, 39 independent projects, and 6 "spotlights" at downtown businesses from 6:00 p.m. until midnight; and

Whereas two free Metro Transit buses transported the participants around the sites while Nocturne volunteer tour guides led tours at regular intervals throughout the evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the organizers of and participants in Nocturne and wish them many more years of creativity and success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1616]

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. 783

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

Whereas members of the Bras d'Or Seniors and Pensioners Club is a vibrant, active organization engaging seniors in healthy lifestyles and social activities while providing services to the public; and

Whereas the Bras d'Or Seniors and Pensioners Club has embarked on upgrading their facility, in partnership with the Cape Breton County Economic Development Authority; and

Whereas program activities will be enhanced through the installation of a new floor and other improvements complementing annual upgrades to the facility, ensuring seniors and the community have a quality, safe place to gather;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize club president Emerson Jessome, his executive and members for their enthusiasm, spirit and dedication to the well-being of seniors in the area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1617]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 784

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

Whereas residents of Digby Neck and the Islands are understandably upset at the loss of a nurse practitioner who very much cared for the well-being of residents in her community; and

Whereas there are strong feelings amongst the community members that her employment was not continued because she dared to stand up and speak out for the health and well-being of the community members that she served; and

Whereas we live in a country where standing up and speaking out should be celebrated and not penalized;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health review Digby Neck/Islands situation very carefully, take appropriate action and commit herself to ensuring that if any health worker wants to speak out, they will be respected and heard.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:45 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 785

[Page 1618]

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

Whereas Cheryl Meisener of Blandford was recently named the Cleve's Source for Sports/ New Balance Individual Female Athlete of the Month by Sport Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 27-year old Cheryl is an equestrian rider and recently took part in an international classic in Quebec, where she placed first in two events, giving her another chance to enter the 2010 World Equestrian Games in Kentucky; and

Whereas being named athlete of the month is nothing new for Cheryl as it marks the third time she had captured the Cleve's New Balance Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize the outstanding athletic talent being demonstrated by Cheryl Meisener of Blandford as she strives to compete in Kentucky in 2010 and also has her set on Olympics in London in 2012.

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 Digby-Annapolis is going to re-read the operative clause of his resolution.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health review the Digby Neck/Islands situation very carefully, take appropriate action and commit herself to ensuring that if any health worker wants to speak out that they will be respected and heard.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1619]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 786

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

Whereas the Sydney and Area Chamber of Commerce annually honours the best and brightest of the Cape Breton business community at the Excellence in Business Awards; and

Whereas R.D. Gillis Home Building Supplies of Sydney River won this year's Retail Award which proved what its customers already knew, that the professionalism and knowledge of its staff is second to none; and

Whereas in the face of difficult economic conditions, R.D. Gillis Home Building Supplies stood true to their core strengths which has led to their continued success;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Charlotte and Dave Gillis of R.D. Gillis Home Building Supplies on this important recognition and wish them continued growth and success in the years ahead.

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 honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 1620]

RESOLUTION NO. 787

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

Whereas Easter Seals Nova Scotia is a local charity serving 152,000 Nova Scotians with physical disabilities; and

Whereas during the 78-year history, the organization has undergone a number of name changes and since 1985 has also been known as the Abilities Foundation of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Easter Seals wanted to clarify and strengthen their identity in the community and have chosen to return to their original and well-known name, Easter Seals Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Easter Seals Nova Scotia on their official name and wish their organization continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland South.

RESOLUTION NO. 788

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

Whereas on October 24th, 2009, friends and family of Ohra and Ross Colins of Wards Brook will join together to help this fantastic couple celebrate their 50th Anniversary; and

Whereas Ohra and Ross have given so much to the community of Wards Brook and Port Greville in Cumberland County, and our province over the last number of years through their volunteering through many organizations and interests that they have; and

[Page 1621]

Whereas Ohra and Ross have always put the community ahead of themselves and have been responsible for the success of so much in our area as a result of their dedication, commitment and compassion for their fellow residents and community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Ohra and Ross Colins as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary and we wish them many more years of health and happiness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 789

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 Peace Officer Exemplary Service Medal recognizes those persons who have dedicated themselves to preserving Canada's public safety through long and outstanding service; and

Whereas the awards are national in scope and are part of the Canadian Honours System in recognition of service rendered to the country; and

Whereas DFO Officer Bill Higgins of Christmas Island was recently presented his Exemplary Service Medal by Her Honour, Mayann Francis, for 35 years of service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Bill Higgins on receiving this prestigious medal and thank him for his 35 years of service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1622]

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. 790

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

Whereas New Glasgow's Vernon Walsh was selected by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee to carry the torch on its national relay; and

Whereas his strength and reputation as a dedicated community volunteer earned Vernon Walsh the honour to carry the Olympic flame; and

Whereas Vernon Walsh will participate in the longest relay held, in the borders of the host country, in history;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend best wishes to Vernon Walsh for a successful Olympic Torch run on November 17th, 2009, and a day filled with wonderful and proud memories.

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.

[Page 1623]

RESOLUTION NO. 791

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 economic downturn that hit the world economy last year was the most severe in a generation, with crashing stock markets and growing unemployment being a persistent theme; and

Whereas in the midst of the downturn, the federal government put forth unprecedented stimulus measures to combat unemployment and to get the economy back on track, yet since June our new provincial government has done very little to combat this serious issue within our province; and

Whereas the longer the government sits on its hands and lets the federal government do all the heavy lifting in terms of stimulus spending, more people lose their jobs and more partnership opportunities for true economic growth pass us by;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly call on the Premier and his Cabinet to immediately produce a detailed list of provincial measures to combat this downturn and immediately get to work putting this economy back on track.

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 Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 792

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 the Premier made a bold campaign promise of keeping all emergency rooms open, knowing the challenge we face in finding doctors and nurses to fill all emergency room shifts; and

[Page 1624]

Whereas while the government has hired an emergency room advisor, there are still many emergency room closures happening across all parts of Nova Scotia and Code Oranges seem to be happening daily at the QEII Hospital and the Dartmouth General Hospital; and

Whereas the NDP has been governing for 125 days;

Therefore be it resolved for the Premier to act and put an immediate end to all emergency room closures and Code Oranges as per the Premier's campaign promise.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:55 p.m. and end at 3:55 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

PREM. - HARP CUTS: OIL PRICE - EFFECT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Members on this side of the House are getting questions and concerns every day from people worried about keeping their homes warm this winter. You have eliminated funding to the Salvation Army this year for the Good Neighbour Energy Program and you have cut the amount of money for families eligible for the HARP from $450 to $200. Yesterday in this House, Premier, your minister responsible for the HARP said the cost of furnace oil this year is half of what it was this time last year. My question to the Premier is, do you stand by your minister's statement that the price of oil is half of what it was last year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I will say to the member opposite is that we are administering the program as it was inherited from the former government. What this budget does is it ensures that as many people as possible will receive assistance under the program. It does adjust the program to account for the fact that the price of oil has gone down and the

[Page 1625]

price of electricity has gone up so the program has been re-balanced to make sure that people are treated fairly. Thank you.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this is your budget and your program. Of course, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations had it wrong, the price of oil is about 30 per cent lower and now is on the rise the way it does every year as we enter into the winter season. She had it wrong, Mr. Premier. My question to the Premier is, since this false information was the basis for reducing the amount of money for families, will you correct the information, your minister and this mistake by your government and reinstate the $450 to help those families who need our help.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we're pleased with the improvements that have been brought about in the program, it ensures that people who are heating with electricity will have a bigger portion of what they pay covered because of the decrease in the price of oil, that naturally enough, has been adjusted downward. We're confident this is the program that will deliver the greatest amount of benefit to the greatest amount of our citizens.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, the information that you're using is wrong. The price of oil has continued to rise now. The information that you and your minister and your government are using is wrong and you're punishing those Nova Scotians who are heating their homes with oil and those Nova Scotians who need our help the most. The price of furnace oil wasn't the only thing the minister got wrong. She said the program reflects the fact that oil has gone down but the price of electricity has gone up. She says the program reflects that. But what she didn't say is that more than 60 per cent of families in Nova Scotia heat with oil and that most homes that heat with electricity have a second heating source. My question to the Premier is, now that you know the facts, how can you justify slashing the rebate to families from $450 to $200, a 60 per cent reduction?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will just reiterate for the Leader of the Official Opposition that the program is designed to deliver the greatest amount of benefit to the greatest amount of people. That's what the re-balancing of the program does. We're very happy with the design of the program.

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

EDUC. - PUB. LIBRARIES: MOU - STATUS

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. In November 2007 - 23 months ago - a task force was formed to lay the groundwork for a multi-year funding agreement for Nova Scotia's Public Libraries. The task force completed the report late in 2008 and developed a MOU with the Department of

[Page 1626]

Education. My question to the minister is, what progress has your government made with the MOU since taking office on June 9th?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for her question. This is something that the department has been studying very carefully. I've had meetings with the library boards, representatives from the Library Board Association, and I've accepted an invitation to speak to a major library conference in Yarmouth this weekend. I will be announcing the next steps, in terms of the recommendations to government, at that time. Thank you.

[3:00 p.m.]

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, the preliminary work that was done prior to the election. The President of the Nova Scotia Library Association, in a letter from the Minister of Education on August 14th, was told that it was the intention of the minister to take the task force recommendations and MOU to Cabinet as soon as possible.

On September 24th, officials in her department stated: No official decision but one is expected soon. So, Madam Minister, my question to you is this - library boards deserve a clear and concise answer. When will you be taking the task force recommendations to Cabinet?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member well knows that the agenda items for Cabinet and the timing of those is confidential. As I said earlier, I've had meetings with a lot of the relevant groups who are impacted by the analysis and recommendations from this study. I want to commend the honourable member for initiating the review a couple of years ago. It identified a number of critical concerns on behalf of the library system, and there are a number of approaches that our government plans to take to work alongside our colleagues and resolve some of these issues. So again, I thank the honourable member for the question.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, we all realize Nova Scotians use their public libraries on a regular basis. We have one of the highest rates of usage in Atlantic Canada, if not in Canada. We take very seriously the recommendations that have come through that study and the memorandum of understanding. My question to the minister is, when she is in Yarmouth and when she is meeting with the library boards at that time, will she be able to share with them any further steps with regard to the current MOU?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member appreciates, these discussions are an ongoing, sort of evolving process. I have to say that I was very pleased to be told by a very knowledgeable person about library systems in the province that there have been more positive announcements about provincial and regional libraries in the last four months than this person had experienced in a number of years.

[Page 1627]

I think this is an indication of the priority that my government gives to the library system in Nova Scotia. We see it as an essential piece of lifelong learning, and we're very pleased to continually make these positive announcements. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

PREM. - FEED NOVA SCOTIA: FUNDING - INCREASE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. We have brought it to your attention that the price of oil in Nova Scotia is actually rising, and we know the majority of people in Nova Scotia heat their homes with oil, and we know that the cut in the home heating rebate is going to hurt Nova Scotia families, and in particular we know that organizations such as food banks are going to feel the impact of that decision.

My question for the Premier is, since you know all of the above, will you increase the amount of money going to Feed Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Well, it's an odd and confusing question, Mr. Speaker. What I will say is that the design of the program for the heating assistance rebate plan is designed to deliver the greatest amount of benefit to the broadest number of families in the province. That's what it is designed to do, and I have confidence that is what it will do.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, let me clear up the Premier's confusion. We know that the government's decision is downloading the problem of cold and hungry Nova Scotians to food banks and churches and other charities - food banks such as the Chezzetcook Food Bank, which are telling us that people are going to suffer. Ms. Edith Rossiter, who runs the food bank there, says many of her clients depended on the $450 to help them make it through the winter. My question to the Premier, Mr. Speaker, is because of all of that, is the government going to increase the funding that it is going to give to food banks in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the member opposite is that, of course, this is a government that is very concerned with the most vulnerable in our society. That's why we have put in place a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy. We are going to continue to work on that over the mandate of our government.

I am very happy with the work of both Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and the Heating Assistance Rebate Program and the work of the Community Services Minister in regard to these matters.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, they used to say that Tory times are hard times. They might have to take a look at changing that saying right now. When the people who have been hurt by this government's decision land on the doorsteps of the food banks of this province and knock on the doors of Community Services

[Page 1628]

Departments, Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is, what are you going to tell those people? Where are you going to send those people to get home heating oil this winter, and where are you going to tell them to go, Mr. Premier?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there is a broad range of programming, through the various departments, that I've already set out for the members opposite. They're perfectly well aware of this. I know that in my office I continue to work hard not only with the government agencies that exist, but also with all of the other charitable organizations that are there, to ensure that whenever someone comes to our door they get the assistance they need.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: DART. GEN. HOSP.: SITUATION - IMPROVEMENTS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health, and I'm sure she knows where I'm going with this. While we debated the concerns at the Dartmouth General Hospital yesterday, it turns out the situation was worsening as we spoke. This morning it was even worse still. As I came in the House, this morning the emergency department is at 151 per cent capacity. This morning there are 41 patients in the ER and all units in the hospital were over-Census when I walked into the House.

The surgery unit has given up four beds to medicine and the hospital staff are trying to ramp up discharges. The staff at the hospital admit that may mean sending patients home prior to the ideal time for their case management. My question for the minister is, what is the minister doing today to improve the situation - the dire situation - at the Dartmouth General Hospital?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am here in my place being accountable, and this is the way the system works. We have an opportunity to talk about what the government has been doing.

Mr. Speaker, in the four months that I have been Minister of Health, we've hired an Emergency Room Adviser who is on the job right now, as we speak. Additionally, district health authorities have greater flexibility in the financial arrangements, to be able to hire locums and other professionals to go into emergency departments. We're working to open the long-term beds that are coming very shortly. In the early months of 2010 we'll see additional long-term care capacity added into the district health authority. This will allow people who are in hospital and unable to be discharged into the community to leave, so that beds will open up.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, you know, yesterday in our remarks here I suggested that I believe the Premier and the Minister of Health care about the situation, but it's becoming increasingly clear the Minister of Health does not understand how dire the

[Page 1629]

situation is at the Dartmouth General because these are the same responses she's been giving for two weeks to my questions, and the hospital is getting worse and the health professionals are now openly saying they cannot cope with the current demands and they are concerned about the daily situation and are concerned about it getting worse with a possible flu outbreak in the coming winter.

While some patients, that the minister indicated should not have been in the hospital, have been moved out, just as she said the other day, the situation has continued to worsen. Will the minister provide emergency funding to the Dartmouth General to open additional beds on existing wards to help alleviate the almost daily overcrowding at the Dartmouth General?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government made a commitment to have an Emergency Department Protection Fund with $3 million to be used very strategically to open beds, and part of the consideration with the Dartmouth General Hospital will be looking at whether or not some portion of that fund would be used to strategically open beds there. This is not the only emergency department that experiences these difficulties, and with Dr. Ross we will have some measures and move forward on those as soon as we've confirmed the best place to invest our resources.

MR. YOUNGER: Yesterday the minister stated during debate that Code Census is a sign for hospital wards and staff to be on high alert, and she's right, but the hospital staff cannot be expected to be on a permanent state of high alert and she just mentioned that there are other hospitals having trouble - she's right about that too. With the QE II also facing overcrowding and indicating publicly now that they're reluctant to accept other patients and the Cobequid Health Centre not open on a 24-hour basis, there are no options for the patients and health care professionals at the Dartmouth General.

The minister was quoted on CBC Radio earlier today, again, just before I came in the House, saying that the staff at the hospital had been "toughing" it out for 10 years and will need to tough it out a bit longer. Mr. Speaker, I ask again, how much longer does the minister expect hospital staff and patients to tough it out before she takes action and provides the hospital with emergency funding to create at least temporary beds to ease the critical and immediate situation at the Dartmouth General Hospital?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that honourable member yesterday acknowledged, himself, in this House that we did not have the health human resources to staff some of the existing services. The idea that you can open temporary beds immediately is just a non-starter, you cannot open beds without having adequate staff and a plan. (Interruptions)

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

[Page 1630]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The "former former" Minister of Health indicated that this was a chronic problem that their government was unable to deal with over a 10-year period. In the four months that we've been on the job, we're getting expert advice, we've already started the discussions with the Department of Community Services to get better placements for people who get caught in hospital beds who require community placements - soon long-term beds will be opening up and we will see some relief in some of these facilities as a result.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

COM. SERV. - BONNY LEA FARM: MEETING - ATTENDEES

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Community Services.

Bonny Lea Farm, near Chester, is a facility committed to empowering special needs individuals, providing opportunities to experience faith, self-respect, love for one another, dignity, integrity, productivity, and responsible community living. This organization wrote to the minister in June 2009 requesting assistance for an expansion to their facility that would generate income and create two new jobs. They received no answer to the letter until it was brought to this government's attention by one of our staff in September. The minister then asked for her staff to meet with Bonny Lea Farm. My question to the minister is, who attended the meeting at the facility in her constituency?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, firstly, the facts are wrong. I was to an event at Bonny Lea Farm and spoke with the executive director there about this particular project. From there I had senior staff meeting with the executive director of Bonny Lea Farm. Thank you.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, well, it's a good thing that after almost four months, the hard-working staff, residents and volunteers in her constituency have finally met with senior officials from the minister's department. Will the minister please tell the House what the outcome of that meeting was?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, we're looking at an initiative through Bonny Lea Farm and we're having discussions with them. One of the issues, as everyone knows in this House right now, is the budgetary issue. It's a fabulous project, we're supportive of it and we're looking at what we can do to help them out in the future regarding the budget. Thank you very much.

[Page 1631]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I was told the outcome was that this was a great project and that it could only be supported if there was money left over at the end of the fiscal year. This government miraculously found $1.5 million for the Antigonish library, days before the election. Mr. Speaker, my question this time is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. Maybe your department could help this organization in the constituency of Chester-St. Margaret's in becoming more self-sufficient and taking advantage of this wonderful business opportunity.

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, as Minister of Economic and Rural Development, we are more than willing to look at anything pertaining to the business of government.

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

HEALTH: EIBI PROG. - BUDGET ALLOCATION

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As we are all aware in this House, autism spectrum disorder affects how a child's social and communication abilities develop. Without early treatment, the ability of a child to function in his or her family, in child care, and eventually in our school system, becomes more challenging. An investment in early interventions, specifically Nova Scotia's EIBI Program, not only provides immediate benefits to both the child and the family but will also reduce the cost, ultimately, to the education system.

My question to the minister is, will the minister please confirm the budget allocated to EIBI this fiscal year and indicate whether this represents an increase, a decrease or no change at all from last year?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it would have been probably better had the honourable member raised this question during budget estimates when we were going through line by line and I had that huge binder outlining exactly what was being spent for various programs. We spend $3.4 billion in the Department of Health. To the best of my knowledge, the budgetary line item for EIBI remains constant this year over last year, but I can't say that with absolute certainty. That is my recall, but I would be happy to check into that for the honourable member.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you very much. I'd appreciate receiving the figure when the minister is able to. Well over a year ago a report was produced on the effectiveness of Nova Scotia's EIBI Program and, as we know, the report was extremely positive. The program does work, Mr. Speaker. Families hoping to access the program this year, however, must enter a lottery and that has been a system that has been in place some time. So the access to the program is limited to those few who are lucky enough to have their name drawn. Imagine

[Page 1632]

the stress for families who are not so lucky, as their name goes back into the pot and they have to wait another year, wondering whether or not their child will receive any help.

Mr. Speaker, I stress, and the minister knows, that the earlier we can intervene and provide help for children with autism spectrum disorder, the more successful that intervention and help are. My question to the minister is, could the minister please tell me how many children received the funding this year and how many are still in the waiting line for next year?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I am very aware of the evaluation that has been done of this particular form of treatment for children with autism. The results have been very encouraging. Only yesterday, or the day before, I was sharing with my colleague, the Minister of Finance, an e-mail I had from a parent whose son has benefited greatly from this program, and I was saying to the honourable Minister of Finance that these are the kinds of e-mails that the Health Minister likes to receive. They were very positive in terms of the services that this family had received through the Department of Health, and we will continue to work toward the day when all of the children with autism syndrome have access to this treatment.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we still don't know the number of children who are still waiting for that help and the number that are helped. I'm happy to hear that the minister has heard from some where the families are happy. We know the program is successful, but for those who are waiting in a lottery situation it's another story entirely. I think we have to be aware of how important it is to provide some help to those families.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to suggest that we would never for one minute accept a lottery for people with cancer needs, or with other serious illness, and I don't see why we accept a lottery for families who have children with autism. My question to the minister is, are additional financial resources for EIBI under active consideration for the next fiscal year?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government did make a commitment to improve treatment for children with autism in our second year. However, having said that, we will certainly look at all of the programs in the Department of Health as we go forward, with a consideration of whether or not we are going to be able to enhance those programs in the coming fiscal year, and this program will be no different.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

ERD - AEROSPACE COMPANIES: NOVA SCOTIA - EXPANSION

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. I hope he is aware that Nova Scotia's aerospace industry is valued at $600 million to Nova Scotia's economy on an annual basis,

[Page 1633]

and that 6,000 individuals are employed. If you combine the defence component, the value to Nova Scotia's economy is $1.5 billion.

My question for the minister, Mr. Speaker, through you today is, are you aware of any new companies related to the aerospace industry wanting to expand into Nova Scotia?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to report that NSBI has been very active in that industry, and a recent indication of that activity would be the relocation of Lockheed Martin here in metro.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, that's the answer - I at least got an answer, I guess. I was expecting to hear about Xperion, that wants to locate in Nova Scotia. They want to put a plant in my community of Yarmouth. They made the announcement a year ago. They wanted some funding to assist them, but a company that is under the minister's jurisdiction, Composites Atlantic, that is owned by the taxpayers of this province - 50 per cent - under that minister's jurisdiction wants to partner with Xperion from Europe and they want to put a factory in our community for upwards to 300 employees. So my question to the minister is, are you aware of this file and have you read anything on it yet?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised at the question, and actually, there have been a couple of meetings. After taking on the portfolio of Minister of Economic and Rural Development, I had visited Composites Atlantic. We had a tour. I visited the facility along with my deputy minister, other members of staff and NSBI. We are working well with Composites Atlantic and we will continue to work with Composites Atlantic as they work through some things in the expansion of their own company.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, since this do-nothing Party has come to office, that company - the job losses they have at Composites Atlantic in this province. There is an opportunity here to grow the economy of Nova Scotia. Xperion has showed an interest in this province, they put the money up, they've showed that they had the financial means to put approximately three more factories in this province. Mr. Speaker, EADS has already let it be known that they want to sell Composites Atlantic. That minister is responsible for Composites Atlantic. I'm asking that minister today, for all Nova Scotians, what are you doing for that company to make sure the investment the taxpayers of Nova Scotia put into Composites Atlantic is secured and we expand the jobs in this province?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I thought I had just answered the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order.

MR. PARIS: The fact that we were there, the fact that we have been meeting with Composites Atlantic, just the fact that we are aware of the situation, the fact that we are working with them, the fact that were are doing due diligence and along with my deputy

[Page 1634]

minister, along with staff, we will continue to work with all Nova Scotians and search for ways to create employment for the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

COM. SERV.: FOSTER PARENT PER DIEM RATES - INCREASE

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Earlier this week the minister read a resolution commending Nova Scotia's 800 foster families and encouraging more families to open their hearts and homes to children in need. That was a great resolution, but this resolution in honour of Foster Family Appreciation Week is not enough. This government must show it values the community contributions foster parents make by ensuring that per diem rates are enough to adequately provide for foster children. My question to the minister is, will the minister take action and raise foster parent per diem rates rather than simply commend foster families for their work?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question and his concern for foster families. In Community Services and with this government, we certainly value what the foster families do for us and how they contribute to the lives of children who need that type of help. It is very important to us. It is something that is on our radar screen in terms of the budgetary pressures that we face. But we do know that it is a vitally important role in this province and we appreciate it.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister mentions value, and that's a great thing, but tangible evidence is also needed. I'm going to read a quote here, in a letter to the Minister of Community Services last week a foster parent and foster care advocate wrote: The number one concern every year is foster parents feel they're being taken advantage of by the Department of Community Services by the low per diem rates.

We are losing some very experienced foster homes throughout the province because they can no longer afford to foster children with such inadequate assistance.

In my first supplementary to the minister, Mr. Speaker, what does the minister have to say in response to these concerns?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, once again thank you for the question from the honourable member. Number one, my response is the same. We truly value the job of the foster parents. In 2008 there was an increase for foster parents with respect to transportation, to give them some added help. We do know that it is an issue. We have come into this as a new government with many financial issues that we're working through. I've seen many in

[Page 1635]

Community Services, we have a great deal of need out there. But we do respect it and we know that we're going to work towards making a difference for them in the future. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said before in this House, when it comes to Community Services, money should not be the be-all and end-all in this particular department. These people want to be valued. Foster parents are not asking for money in return for the care they provide to children, they are simply asking for per diem rates that reflect the cost of raising children. Those who choose to become foster parents do so because they want to give neglected and abused children a loving home. We must do everything we can to support them. The fact of the matter is, we need more foster parents to care for abused and neglected children in Nova Scotia. The minister recognized this in the resolution she read yesterday. My final supplementary to the minister is, how do you plan to encourage more parents to become foster parents without raising the per diem rates?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, once again, thank you to the honourable member for his question. I know about foster parenting because I have very dear friends, for 35 years, who are foster parents. I've seen the joy and the heartache they've gone through and the dedication that they've put into foster parenting. That is why I expressed my gratitude in a resolution. It is challenging in the fact that we are in a budget situation here. It's unfortunate that it wasn't recognized by the former government, over 10 years, to be able to look at those rates. We are left with a very unfortunate legacy on that. That's why the message is going out from me as Community Services Minister that I truly appreciate foster parenting and that we are looking at it.

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

ERD - C.B.: ACTION - DETAILS

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. Yesterday during Question Period, the minister once again dismissed concerns and issues in Cape Breton. First it was the lack of help for $7.5 million projects resulting in job creation, expansion of Williston House care facility and the second was his non-action on the Bell Aliant call centre in Sydney, basically viewing 35 jobs as not worthy of his interest or involvement.

This is a "say little, do nothing" member of Cabinet who's more fixated on tea, dinners and networking than the real work of a development minister at a time of real, pressing need in this province. According to the minister, there are no issues. But that's not what the people of Cheticamp are saying about the Acrobat Research call centre and their need for leadership from the minister. Cape Breton has an unemployment rate three times that of Halifax yet the minister sits silent and will not respond to the needs of the region. My

[Page 1636]

question is, will the minister inform this House of one - even just one - action that he specifically and directly as minister is doing for the people of Cape Breton? (Applause)

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of the House, I will not accept the responsibility of actions of certain members in this House.

AN HON. MEMBER: Name something you've done. One thing.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The honourable minister has the floor.

AN HON. MEMBER:. . . he had a question too, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister has the floor.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Economic and Rural Development and its agencies have been very, very active since the day I stepped into their office. That activity will continue and we will be (Interruptions) look, we've showed results. (Interruptions) We've done some things, we will continue to work for the people of Nova Scotia as long as I occupy that seat.

MR. CLARKE: There you have it," Minister Doolittle" is at it again, doing nothing and doing little for the people of this province when they have a mandate and agenda. (Interruption) The minister has had more than enough time to get up to speed on the real issues affecting real people who once thought the NDP were sincere in helping our economy. Issue after issue has been coming forward only to have the door closed or slammed on them by this government. The total failure of this government and the betrayal of the people of Cape Breton is further evidence of the government's putting the interest of one region of Nova Scotia against another. Will the minister inform this House what, if anything, he plans to do to take action to support economic recovery in Nova Scotia?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I must say, it's with restraint on my part that I don't want to (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: There has to be a level of decorum in this House and I expect all honourable members to respect each other when they're speaking, to respect the institution here, our democratic institution and respect the authority of the Chair. I would ask all honourable members to do just that.

The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I thank you for that personally. As I said, I will show some restraint but you know what? I am going to deviate just a little bit. Actually, I got a phone call today from a mayor thanking me and the department for the recent contact centre in Windsor, Nova Scotia.

[Page 1637]

MR. CLARKE: Part of the problem here is when questions that are very clear are being asked for a decisive answer and there is nothing coming back, then Nova Scotians rarely get an answer from that minister. Again, it's been four months now and Nova Scotians are suffering through a "say anything, do nothing" government and we're seeing evidence of that here today. Since the minister can't perform his duties and get anything done for Cape Breton's economy, will the Premier explain what he's doing for the Cape Breton economy and why doesn't he put a minister in place who will actually do what is required for economic and rural development in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member for Cape Breton North that for the first time in almost 10 years the Department of Economic and Rural Development has a minister who is actively seeking investments, not just in mainland Nova Scotia but in Cape Breton. (Interruption) He represents all of the province, he meets regularly, not only with new businesses that are coming into this province - and I want to congratulate him because I don't know if you know this or not, do you know that the unemployment rate in Halifax is 30 per cent lower than Toronto? (Interruptions) This is the product of the work that is being done by this Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

NSBI - VENTURE CAPITAL: GREEN COMPANIES - ACCESS

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Nova Scotia Business Incorporated. Yesterday the Premier announced that his government was investing $2 million through NSBI over the next 10 years into a Quebec-based venture capital fund. Now, this fund is directed through green technology and entrepreneurs in the region. The Premier commented with " great confidence" that Nova Scotia companies exploring green technology will be able to access that fund. Can the minister tell me exactly how and when green companies in Nova Scotia will be able to access this venture capital?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we are accepting applications now, so just as soon as applications are made, due diligence is followed by staff. It has to go through Cabinet, it has to go through all the proper channels.

MR. YOUNGER: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's a little bit different than what the program's Web site says, which indicates that the government has invested in a private venture capital fund, so I'm not quite sure why applications to a private venture capital fund would go to government and through Cabinet. That makes absolutely no sense to me.

Mr. Speaker, while we're contributing $2 million to this fund, and I can't disagree with the minister or the Premier that Nova Scotia companies need better access to venture

[Page 1638]

capital, however, when you read the criteria on this Web site for this fund, there appears to be no guarantee that any of the money will ever come back to Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, what commitment has your government received to ensure that no less than the $2 million that is being invested will come back to Nova Scotia firms?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, as I said, once determinations are made, we treat every application individually and we make decisions based on merit. We trust that any money that is vested in companies will be returned to the Province of Nova Scotia twofold.

MR. YOUNGER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure whether the minister doesn't understand my question or whether the program information that's out in the public domain is incorrect or whether the minister is talking about a separate fund. Because I'm talking about a private fund that the government announced it was investing money into and has a Web site with criteria that says nothing about going through the Nova Scotia Cabinet and, in fact, says that anybody in Canada can apply for money from that fund.

It appears to me, Mr. Speaker, and if there's different information I would ask the minister to table that, if there is different information then I would like the minister to be able to provide us information that ensures that the innovation brought forward by Nova Scotia companies will be brought to market in our province. My question to the minister is, why didn't the government create it's own venture capital fund for solely Nova Scotia companies creating green technology, to ensure that Nova Scotia innovation doesn't come to market offshore?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we do have a venture capital fund. What we do is we encourage anyone, whether they be in Canada, whether they be in Nova Scotia, whether they be anywhere in the world, we encourage people from all over the continent to invest here in Nova Scotia. that's one of the purposes of the fund, Mr. Speaker.

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

EDUC.: P-12 STRATEGY - CONSULTATIONS

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Department of Education's 2009-10 business plan states that it will continue to support key projects introduced as a result of Learning for Life II: Brighter Futures Together.

Mr. Speaker, like nearly everything else this NDP Government has been doing, the Department of Education's current P to 12 strategy is based on something developed by the previous government. However, Learning for Life II is about to run its course and there is a need for a new direction.

[Page 1639]

My question to the minister is, which groups have you consulted with about our P to 12 strategy to date? What have they told you about the successes and failures of the past strategy?

HON. MARILYN MORE: This is a very complex question and I'm sure that the House doesn't have time to hear all the details. What I'd like to do is to set up a meeting with myself and my officials and sit down with the honourable member and we can review what were the objectives of that strategy, the outcomes and perhaps go over some of the reviews and analyses that have been done through the department.

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her offer. I would like to point out, though, that the public consultation was a large component of the development for Learning for Life, and even though we are in the fourth and final year of Learning for Life II, there doesn't appear to be any invitation for parents, educators, students, and community members to be part of future department planning. So it seems obvious that parents should at least have a say in the future direction of their children's education. My question to the minister is, will planning for the future direction of our education system openly involve parents, educators, students, and community members?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I think anyone who understands the approach that my government takes would understand and assume that - and be correct in that assumption - of course, we consult with all the stakeholders. I certainly had the wonderful opportunity back in the late 1980s to be part of the Minister's Advisory Committee on the Public School Program, and certainly that's a more formal process where representatives from the school boards, from parent associations, from the department, from the school administrators, and also from the Teachers Union came together and did an analysis of the curriculum, and sort of visioning into the future, it made recommendations to the minister. So there are a number of different ways for the stakeholder groups to be involved in the consultations and make recommendations based on their experience and their insight.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I take from what the minister says that there are no consultations thus far with parents, and even though this plan is due to expire very soon, we are not seeing any consultations. In fact, we're not seeing any leadership from this minister. She has refused to become involved in issues central to the well-being of students across Nova Scotia. Planning for the future of Nova Scotia's education system is not something that you can ignore without consequences. My question to the minister is, when will you show some leadership and inform this House about your plans for the education system?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I have been very busy since day one in my office as Minister of Education, meeting with groups and also, as I mentioned earlier in the session, I have finished a tour of going around the province and meeting with school boards. I have met with school administrators, with the Teachers Union, and also I have set up some

[Page 1640]

meetings with parent groups. I'm trying to collect all the information and make sure that we make a very reasoned, careful approach, because public education of this province is extremely important and we have to be careful that any changes we make have positive educational outcomes for students.

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

NAT. RES. - SPRUCE BARK BEETLE: OUTBREAK - PLANS

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Mr. Minister, during Question Period last week you said that your staff is reviewing the issue of the continuing spread of the spruce bark beetle, and that as soon as you had a plan, you would table it in this House. With the beetle now in six of Nova Scotia's 18 counties and showing no sign of slowing down, my question to the minister is, is he able to table that plan today and, if not, when?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. I don't remember saying I would table it in the House. I thought I said I would get it for the member for Cape Breton West, but anyway, as it turns out, I've given that to him and I think I have other copies in my desk. I'll check and, if I can, I'll table it for the House.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the latest outbreak has been reported in the Big Harbour, Victoria County, area of Cape Breton. I noted last week that the Crown land forester working for DNR in Baddeck said most of the foresters expect this pest will destroy most of the mature white spruce population throughout Cape Breton in the next few years and, Mr. Minister, you yourself said a lot of damage to pine trees would occur as well. My first supplementary, does the minister have an estimation of exactly how much Nova Scotia forest has been destroyed to date and how much more will go by the wayside?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, actually, no, I don't have a number of volume that has been destroyed. It's not clear yet that even the trees that are dead, that we can't harvest those in some way and still make use of them. So it might be a bit premature to think that they're going to go by the wayside. We're hoping that they still can be harvested.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary to the minister is how heavily involved is the Canadian Food Inspection Agency in dealing with this insect, and what are they telling you and your officials about slowing down the growth of the beetle?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm worried that I may have misinterpreted the member's question. I thought he was talking about the bark beetle - the beetle that he is referring to that would trigger CFIA is the brown spruce longhorn beetle. The bark beetle wouldn't be one the CFIA would have a concern about - it's an indigenous species in the

[Page 1641]

province, and it would only be the longhorn beetle or some other non-native species that would show up in the province that would have the interest of CFIA.

I'm thinking that CFIA wouldn't be involved in this and I've had no discussion on the bark beetle with CFIA.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC. - KELCO REPT.: RECOMMENDATIONS - IMPLEMENT

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, markets do not currently provide Nova Scotia farmers with a reasonable return for their production activities. This is the main concern for farmers, corroborated even further by the results of the Kelco report three years ago. Nova Scotia cattle producers need decisive action from government and they need it now. My question to the minister is, will you implement the recommendations from the Kelco report, recommendations asked for by the beef industry?

HON. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, there were four components, I believe, to the Kelco report, or the Industry Transition Competitiveness Report. Three of those components - and I won't try to say those off the top of my head - have been for some time worked on by my department staff in conjunction with the Federation of Agriculture. The fourth component of trying to get more money out of the value chain for producers has not really received much attention from the previous government.

I've asked my staff to include that component as well, to see whether or not it is possible to examine the value chain and see if there is anywhere we could get more for our producers. So the Kelco report is one that we have been working on and certainly at a higher level with three of the four components of the report.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, even if the province implemented recommendations from the Kelco report on a trial basis with one or two commodities, it could really put money back into the pockets of farmers. The time is now to continue developing a local food economy. This report has such value that it should no longer collect dust on the minister's shelf and should be implemented. My question to the minister is, will you implement the Kelco report recommendations, on an experimental basis, to save the cattle industry in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to . . .

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

[Page 1642]

I have one reminder from Legislative Television, I believe, just to remind members that when they're speaking, if they have papers in hand, try not to hit the microphone because it distorts in the earpiece. So just common-sense advice from Legislative Television, please.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you call Bill No. 44.

Bill No. 44 - Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to be here today for second reading on an amendment to the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. These amendments will prohibit political contributions by corporations, trade unions, and partnerships. The amendments will also prohibit the use of held assets by Parties for political purposes.

Mr. Speaker, the purpose of these changes is to improve transparency in the electoral system in Nova Scotia. This will level the playing field by having one set of rules for everyone. Current legislation permits individuals, corporations, trade unions, partnerships to make annual contributions for up to $5,000 to a recognized political Party, its electoral district, and its candidates. The current legislation also permits held assets to be used for the operation of the Party outside the election period.

During this provincial election campaign, there were concerns raised about corporate and union contributions. At that time, our Leader committed to ensuring a level playing field. The best way to ensure clarity and transparency is to limit contributions to individuals. The government's goal is to have one set of rules that everyone understands. I believe that this is a great first step.

We are not the first province to adopt these types of restrictions, and I don't believe that we will be the last. Other provinces, such as Manitoba and Ontario have imposed similar limits on who can provide political contributions.

[Page 1643]

The proposed changes would take effect on January 1, 2010, to allow Elections Nova Scotia, recognized political Parties, and members of the public sufficient time to understand and comply with the new rules. The held assets provisions take effect on the day the bill is tabled. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 44. I want to acknowledge to the House that our caucus will be in support of moving this legislation forward, and I ask the government and House Leader that at the end of second reading today he call this bill for third reading. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 44.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 44. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to move this bill past the Law Amendments Committee, past Committee of the Whole, and right to third reading, with unanimous consent.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. ROSS LANDRY: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 44.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 44. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 1644]

The motion is carried. (Applause)

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Beneficiaries Designation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to offer some very brief remarks on second reading of Bill No. 15 which is an amendment to the Beneficiaries Designation Act. This Act was amended by this House in 2008, but this one-word amendment is required in order to offer some clarity.

The reason we are doing this is because we would like our Act here in Nova Scotia to mirror the language used in the federal Budget Implementation Act 2008, which established tax-free savings accounts. It has been brought to our attention that because of a one-word difference between our statutory language and the federal language, that some financial institutions are not accepting certain designations of beneficiaries.

This minor amendment will ensure the designated beneficiaries can receive tax-free savings accounts outside of a will. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Thank you very much. We are pleased in the Liberal caucus to support Bill No. 15. I think that's been something we had noticed in our own constituencies, having heard from people who are having difficulty opening the tax-free savings accounts. With this change we will now have that difficulty removed, so that's certainly something we support and we look forward to this moving forward. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honouable member for Cumberland South.

[Page 1645]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, we too will be supporting this bill. I appreciate the minister's comments with regard to beneficiaries. I think anything this House can do with regard to protecting Nova Scotians, particularly around issues such as beneficiaries and this designation Act as he talked about, can only help people in this province. We'll certainly move second reading of Bill No. 15.

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

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the members opposite for their comments and for the support of their Parties. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 25.

Bill No. 25 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say a few words about Bill No. 25. This legislation will amend the Motor Vehicle Act to formalize, in law, the long- standing practice of charging vehicle dealerships a fee to obtain a certificate of registration in the name of their business. Section 302 of the Motor Vehicle Act has always given the province the right to set fees for documents and services. The measures made in Bill No. 25 are in line with the authority spelled out in the Act. In the 1960s motor vehicle dealerships were made exempt from paying fees for certificates of registration in the name of their business. These certificates were not required for dealers and at the time of the exemption, there was not much demand for registration certificates.

While certificates in the company's name are still not mandatory for dealers, business practices have changed and the demand for certificates of registration has increased. In 1991

[Page 1646]

the practice of exempting dealerships from paying the fees was ended by the government of the day. At that time the government notified motor vehicle dealers that they would have to pay the required fee in order to obtain a certificate of registration.

The amendments contained in Bill No. 25 simply formalize into legislation what has been the practice for nearly 20 years. The changes make it clear that dealerships, like all Nova Scotians, must pay a fee to obtain a certificate of registration. The current fee for a certificate of registration is $11.86. The fees that government collects allows us to offer important programs and services to Nova Scotians in the province. A key goal of my department is the safety of Nova Scotians, that is why so many of our programs are focused on road, vehicle and driver safety.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to close by thanking the staff of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for the fine work they do each and every day to assist Nova Scotians and enhance their safety.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and address this bill, Bill No. 25, the Motor Vehicle Act. The minister is correct, this is the formalization of a practice that has been in place for some time and the current fee, the minister is correct again, it is $11.86 but the minister left out a few details there and that is that fee has gone up to $11.86 as of July 1st, I believe, of this year. If I'm not mistaken, the fee before that was about $10, so there has been an increase in the fee and it's not because of inflation, it's because there is a new government. Let's keep in mind and always be careful of the fine print. Anybody will tell you to read the fine print in a contract, and in the fine print of this bill there is an increase to the dealers who are going to have to pay.

The minister is correct again, but the demand has increased so there are more certificates of registration out there, which again means there's more money that's going to be coming into Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and in particular the Motor Vehicles division.

Regardless of that, I'm hopeful anyway, although I'm not sure, but I'm hopeful that there has been some consultation with the automobile dealer associations throughout the province. I have not heard from any of them personally. I've talked with a few of them. They realize that this practice has been there for some time. They realize they have to pay when they put a car in their name and take it from - it's actually a transfer from a motor vehicle owner to that dealership, and they realize that they have to pay a fee and I'm sure that they're understanding of the fact that this is the case. Having said that, we in the Liberal caucus are pleased to let the bill flow through the proper process of the House and support it at this stage.

[Page 1647]

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: I, too, am pleased to rise on behalf of the Progressive Conservative caucus and to respond to the minister's legislation, and we recognize that from time to time adjustments have to be made. Between the minister and my honourable colleague, the member for Glace Bay, I think they've articulated the purpose of this and we in the Progressive Conservative caucus support this measure, continuing to go forward, recognizing that this is one of those files with a bit of history and it needs to be tended to. As a result of that, we support this and I look forward to it continuing forward to the Law Amendments Committee. With that, I will take my seat.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 25.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 25. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Trade Union Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to begin second reading of Bill No. 7, which would amend the Trade Union Act. This bill would provide timely changes to the Act. These changes would provide a new option for employers and workers to resolve grievance disputes and to preserve the confidentiality and impartiality of those services.

At the Law Amendments Committee our government will introduce additional changes to extend the provisions of Bill No. 7 to the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, and the Corrections Act to give these workers and employers the same option of using mediation-arbitration.

[Page 1648]

I would like to point out at this time that employers and workers and our department have an enviable record when it comes to resolving labour disputes. Since April 1992, when mediation was first offered by our staff, more than 1,100 hearings have been held and the average settlement rate is 86 per cent. This stands as a testament to the professionalism of the women and men of the Labour Services division who provide this service on request, and the commitment they share with employers and unions to resolve differences through dialogue. The first amendment that we are proposing to the Trade Union Act would offer parties to a collective agreement a dispute resolution process that could prove faster and more effective. It would be a way to resolve disputes around the interpretation, the application or an alleged violation of a collective agreement. The process is called mediation- arbitration.

In mediation-arbitration, Mr. Speaker, a third party provides impartial assistance to unions and employers who cannot resolve workplace disputes on their own. The process would begin with the two parties agreeing on a mediator-arbitrator, or my appointment of a mediator-arbitrator at the parties' request. That third party would offer a mediation process to the parties in an effort to resolve their dispute. That option would be available to the parties at any point before the proceedings revert to arbitration.

If an agreement cannot be reached, the mediator would then take on the role of an arbitrator and impose a binding solution on both parties. Under these proposed amendments the process would conclude within 30 calendar days of the end of the arbitration hearing. Currently some mediations can resolve a dispute in one or two sessions. Contentious issues could take longer. This bill would reduce the number of prolonged arbitrations because the mediation process will usually narrow down the number of issues that remain on the table.

As I mentioned earlier, our experience shows that employers and unions are committed to resolving their disputes when they agree to mediation. Most parties prefer to arrive at their own mediated settlement rather than have one imposed upon them. Whether the mediation-arbitration option is used would be up to the parties. The choice would always be theirs.

Mr. Speaker, the second amendment to the Act would protect both mediators who assist the parties in collective bargaining disputes and mediator-arbitrators who assist the parties in a grievance dispute from being compelled to testify before a court or a tribunal. During contract negotiations and mediation discussions, unions and employers provide mediators and mediator-arbitrators with sensitive information and do so in the expectation that the information will only be used in the services provided to them. Other jurisdictions, such as Ontario and British Columbia, already protect mediators and mediator-arbitrators from being compelled to testify before a court or a tribunal and from breaching the parties' expectation of confidentiality. Our government is proposing that Nova Scotia's mediators and mediator-arbitrators have the same level of protection that their counterparts enjoy in other Canadian jurisdictions.

[Page 1649]

Currently, Mr. Speaker, Labour and Workforce Development staff cannot be subpoenaed and asked to release information that's provided to them in the exercise of their responsibilities. However, mediators and mediator-arbitrators are not department staff. The Arbitration Advisory Committee recommended that the province adopt mediation-arbitration and we are accepting that recommendation. As well, the committee did not raise any objection to staff's suggestion that mediators and mediator-arbitrators be protected from compellability.

I would remind the honourable members, Mr. Speaker, that the Arbitration Advisory Committee was appointed in 2006, following an earlier all-Party recommendation. The committee, made up of employer and union representatives, advised the minister on the appointment of arbitrators and on issues relating to arbitration. I am pleased to bring forward this change which has the agreement of both union and employer representatives.

Mr. Speaker, a third amendment under this bill would correct a typographical error in the Act. It would amend a reference in Section 91(1)(k) that refers the reader to Section 54(a). The amendment would correct the reference to Section 56(a). I look forward to hearing the comments of other members as we move this bill for second reading.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, the Official Opposition is pleased to have this bill go forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, we've listened to the comments of the minister, we agree with the bill going through second reading and we will be in the Law Amendments Committee to hear from the witnesses who come to the Law Amendments Committee and see if changes should be done there. So with that, we agree for it to pass second reading.

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

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable members for their support during second reading. I look forward to the bill going to the Law Amendments Committee and with that, I move second reading of Bill No. 7.

[Page 1650]

MR. SPEAKER. The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 34.

Bill No. 34 - Emergency Management Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, there is no greater priority than the safety and well-being of all Nova Scotians and their families. When it comes to safeguarding lives and property, we must never rest. That is why I'm pleased to stand here today to outline amendments to the Emergency Management Act. Today Nova Scotia takes another important step towards stronger, safer communities.

Mr. Speaker, experience has shown us that emergencies can and do happen here. I am proud to be the Minister of Emergency Management in a province that has built a strong and coordinated emergency management network. With the leadership of the Emergency Management Office, the province stands ready to respond to any and all events, but when it comes to preparing for emergencies, we must be ever-vigilant. All that can be done to protect our families, our communities and our property must and will be done.

Mr. Speaker, as time passes, standards evolve, experience is gained and better ways to do things are found. The professionals at the Emergency Management Office and their partners across this province are constantly evaluating and learning. They closely follow the evolution of best practices and they adapt; this ensures that Nova Scotia is prepared and that those who live here receive the prompt and effective emergency response that they deserve.

Mr. Speaker, the proposed changes to the Emergency Management Act build on the work that is already constantly taking place. They will formalize the way that emergency management is currently being conducted in this province and they will solidify existing relationships within the Act. A provincially coordinated and comprehensive approach to emergencies delivers the best possible results to Nova Scotians. Timely responses in which all of our resources are brought to bear save lives and reduce injuries. They also make for

[Page 1651]

faster recoveries by limiting the economic impact of a crisis; we keep people working, fortify our communities and ultimately make life better for today's families.

Mr. Speaker, these results cannot be achieved in isolation. Partners at the provincial and municipal levels and in the private and non-governmental sectors must and do, work hand in hand, each bringing their expertise to the table. They do so in the context of a proven leadership structure that allows for the timely sharing of information. The changes to the Act will capture today's practices in legislation.

Mr. Speaker, in any emergency it is critical that the leadership and command structure be clear and defined. The Emergency Management Office currently works within the incident command structure to manage emergency response. As part of this internationally-recognized management model, an executive team presides at the top, providing leadership and accountability. Building on this, on July 1st I named the members of the Executive Emergency Management Committee who will advise me on the coordination of responses to all provincial emergencies.

Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Act will document the Executive Emergency Management Committee. Its members' role and mandate will be permanently added to legislation. In addition, the existing leadership and command structure for provincial emergencies will be enshrined. The revisions to the Act will document that the central coordinating agency for provincial emergency response is the Emergency Management Office. The revisions will note that the Emergency Management Act take precedence over other declarations of emergency that may be made under other provincial legislation. When a crisis strikes, people in many agencies and organizations across government and the province must work closely together. Good and timely information means better decisions and a faster response.

It is, therefore, in our best interests, Mr. Speaker, to do all we can do to encourage a smooth exchange of critical intelligence. Already, provincial, municipal, private sector and non-governmental organizations freely share information as they respond to emergencies. Working together they provide Nova Scotians with a well-coordinated response. The amendments we are proposing will further facilitate the flow of information among the responding organizations before and during an emergency. The requirements and processes for sharing information about municipal states of readiness and the occurrence of major events which already exist in practice will be formalized. The Act will now state that municipalities must immediately inform EMO of an event or an emergency that could impact the health, safety or welfare of Nova Scotians, their property, or the environment.

Mr. Speaker, the Emergency Management Office has and continues to work with essential non-government agencies providing ongoing advice and support in emergency planning. They also work to ensure that these agencies' emergency plans align with the provincial emergency response. Plans are tested during training and exercises. Many of these agencies have robust plans and in-house business continuity expertise. They have the

[Page 1652]

business area knowledge needed to develop, train and exercise their internal plans. However, proposed changes to this legislation will provide the province with a means to compel a non-government entity to provide its plan if requested during a crisis.

These amendments will further strengthen EMO's regulation-making authority regarding the duties of municipalities during emergencies and allow for regulation-making power respecting emergency planning, evaluation and reporting for non-governmental agencies. This will support a common strand of preparedness among all provincial partners enhancing Nova Scotia's resilience to emergencies.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, the changes to the Act will allow the province to impose greater penalties for offences under the Emergency Management legislation. Higher penalties for offences such as price gouging during a state of emergency will give the province better tools with which to protect the public interest in vulnerable times. Given the seriousness of such offences, the penalties will be significantly increased. Individuals violating the legislation can be fined up to $10,000. Corporations can now be fined up to $100,000. In addition, courts will have the power to increase any fine by the amount a person gained by committing the offence.

Mr. Speaker, we cannot always prevent emergencies from happening; good management, however, allows us to reduce the impact they have on Nova Scotian families, their lives and their property. It gets Nova Scotia back to normal as quickly as possible and that's good for families, good for communities, and good for our economy. These changes reinforce the best practices that are already taking place in our province and enshrine them in provincial emergency management legislation.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to say a few words about Bill No. 34 today, on behalf of the Liberal caucus. This is certainly something that is very timely, given the pandemic planning that has been discussed at the Public Accounts Committee and certainly in the public sphere there is a great deal of interest and concern to be assured that the province is well planned and well prepared.

We understood from the Public Accounts Committee meeting recently that, again, legislation was coming, which it has, and that it's here before us today to do some of the things that are necessary, like formalizing the Executive Emergency Management Committee. But, Mr. Speaker, we have some concerns with the bill in that it does not strongly, I think, prepare the province, in terms of pandemic planning and other emergencies that might arise, particularly in that it gives the government the power to call for emergency plans and what plans are in place from the private sector and from municipalities and from other organizations.

[Page 1653]

The minister has been very clear and I think the way the Act is written, it is quite clear that it is only in an emergency that they will ask for this information and that it is not required, that it is a possibility. We could ask for it in an emergency. Well, I understand that the government needs the power to call that, we can't force companies if there is no legislative framework to do so. I also appreciate that the private sector companies - and I know the municipalities work closely with the Province of Nova Scotia and with the EMO office and are very positive that that relationship is supportive and is, in fact, a model for many other provinces to look at because we have a good, close relationship and a central command as well for any emergency.

In looking specifically at the pandemic planning that is going on now, I think it is reasonable, and our caucus believes it is reasonable, to require companies and private sector organizations to provide their plans in advance of an emergency, because once the emergency is underway, there is going to be no time to call for them, no time to assure ourselves that all of these multitude of organizations actually have a plan in place. Knowing that that is the case, that companies and all of our essential services, particularly, have their emergency plans in place, is what the public is relying upon. We can't say definitively that the province is prepared if we don't know the level of preparedness at all of our emergency services.

Those services are not all within the control of the provincial government, clearly. We have transit services and we have power companies and communications companies and so many others, right down to knowing that the grocery stores can be open and people can get their groceries and their gas so they can operate their vehicles. Everything is dependent on private sector companies and municipalities having their plans in place.

This legislation, although it is giving the provincial government the legal authority to call for those plans, is not going far enough in terms of ensuring that we can actually receive them. We think that, in a lot of ways, the way it is written, just simply allowing them to ask for the plans, makes it toothless, makes it almost meaningless in a lot of respects, if you're not going to have an intent to follow through and to ask for those plans in a timely fashion.

Mr. Speaker, we feel that it doesn't go far enough in any way to ensure that Nova Scotia is ready for any kind of an emergency because again, although we have the highest respect and think so well of the EMO office and all the work they do and the co-ordination that exists and the informal relationships that exist, we do believe that it is proper to prepare and to assure ourselves that all of the other agencies and non-profit groups and private sector groups have also done their preparation and are also ready to ensure that their essential services continue. That is really our main concern with the bill that is before us today, Bill No. 34.

Mr. Speaker, the idea of increasing fines for price gouging - that is Clause 4 in the bill where there's a significant increase - my understanding is that is in line with what is in

[Page 1654]

place in other provinces. We have looked at that and I don't think we have a problem with that, although we have never in this province, to the best of my knowledge and from the bill briefing, seen any examples where any company or any individual has been charged with price gouging.

This may improve our fines for that but we have to know whether or not it is going to be backed up by some mechanism of enforcement. In a time of an emergency it would be nice if we could know here what the plans are, to actually see that it will be enforced. How are we going to determine where it's happening in the midst of an emergency of any sort?

[4:30 p.m.]

We would like to know more about exactly what mechanism might be used to actually ensure that that doesn't happen because right now we have never seen any charges laid in Nova Scotia. Again, it seems to be a bit more of a formality than something that's going to be meaningful unless we know that, in fact, there will be somebody within government charged with investigating complains and ensuring that that is done.

I think that there may be discussion about this as we go forward into the Law Amendments Committee and certainly will be following that to see what discussions are coming forward. It's possible that we might seek an amendment but I think we'd simply want to leave that option open. At the moment we're happy to see it move through the second reading and on to the Law Amendments Committee. But I think it was important to raise those two issues that we have some concerns about because at no time has it been more important that we know we're ready for an emergency than right now when we are, in fact, really expecting a flu or illness pandemic very soon in this province. We need to be ready. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place today and talk to Bill No. 34. As mentioned before, this is indeed timely that this bill come forward now and I think that we could never do enough to ensure we're prepared in case of emergency.

Our caucus will be supporting this bill but we do have a couple of concerns and those can probably be corrected as the process goes along. The first is the makeup of the Executive Emergency Management Committee and the last item, Clause 2, Section 5A (1) (f) "such experts as appointed by the Minister". Our caucus feels that these experts should be better defined so that Nova Scotians know who the experts are and what their level of expertise is.

Also, the reporting for non-governmental entities is another concern that we have but I believe that a request was made at the Public Accounts Committee that a list of those non-

[Page 1655]

governmental entities be provided and hopefully that might be done as the process continues. Our caucus looks forward to this bill going forward to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 34.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 34. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 9.

Bill No. 9 - Assessment Act/Municipal Grants Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to say a few words about Bill No. 9. This legislation will amend the Municipal Grants Act and Assessment Act to enable the province to pay grants in lieu of taxes to municipalities that house provincially-owned courthouses. It is important to point out that this measure is in response to a request by the municipalities and our government is happy to put this forward.

At the time of the service exchange between the province and municipalities, courthouses were owned municipally. When they moved to provincial responsibility, no grants in lieu of taxes were established. By putting a grant-in-lieu system in place, Nova Scotia will be in line with other provinces and the federal government, which pay grants on their courthouses. We are pleased to do this. Our government believes it is important to do what we can to keep our communities healthy and strong. We recognize that these are challenging times for municipalities and hope that this increased revenue will benefit communities and the families who live there.

This new program will be phased in over three years beginning in the current budget, which provides 10 per cent of the grant in lieu this year. In the second year, municipalities

[Page 1656]

will receive 50 per cent of the grant in lieu and in the third year and beyond they will receive 100 per cent. Phasing these grants in over three years is a balanced approach that enables our government to move forward with this initiative while recognizing the fiscal realities we are facing.

Mr. Speaker, I hope the members opposite will lend their support in sending this bill to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand and speak in support of Bill No. 9, the Assessment Act and the Municipal Grants Act. The minister is correct when she says that this is a request that comes from the municipalities themselves. She's also correct in saying that there is a phased-in, three-year approach, which is a reasonable approach. She's correct in saying that this is something that is necessary and is wanted, and it's a considerable amount of money when you're talking about the 10 municipalities affected.

I would be remiss to stand here and not point out that the minister has not made the distinction that this was not her government's idea. This is not her government's idea. I know that my honourable, humble colleagues in the Third Party, that they may not be able to stand, themselves, and say that this was their idea, but I want everyone to know that, indeed, this was an idea that came from the former Tory Government. It was the former Tory Government that put this idea through. What I don't like, and what I don't think anybody - and I think they will understand that you give credit where credit is due, that you should not be taking credit for a bill when you didn't come up with the idea in the first place.

So I'm somewhat disappointed that the minister didn't make that distinction, that this is not her government's idea, it's not her idea, this is an idea that was taken to the former Tory Government, by the municipalities, and that government put it in their budget, which is now the budget that the NDP says is not their budget, but it's there. Do you understand where I'm coming from, Mr. Speaker? There may be some confusion with the whole point of whose budget this is, but there's no confusion that this wasn't their idea to begin with, this was an idea that came from the former Tory Government.

I want everyone to know that's exactly what's happening, because we support that (Interruptions) And it was at that time a rather credible minister, I must admit, Mr. Speaker. I want you to know that I want to set the record straight, regardless of where this idea comes from, we in the Liberal caucus will be supporting it in second reading, moving on to the Law Amendments Committee where I'm sure others will again point out that this was not the NDP's idea in the first place. Thank you.

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

[Page 1657]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I don't mind that the member for Glace Bay was suggesting we might be humble in third place, but we do not forget where we were and what the initiatives were. Quite frankly, there (Interruptions) Whoever is last will be first yet again, it's all a question of time.

The good member for Glace Bay, I know, in pointing this out, does reflect that we are in a transitional period. There were a number of bills that were brought forward and initiatives of a former government that were in place. It's not just this one, with many of the bills that we'll consider, the government would know that we will support them because they were initiatives that the Progressive Conservatives were working on to bring forward. This is no different. Again, it was, as was reflected, it's correct that we worked with the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities to look at where we could find a new system, get co-operation. It was my colleague, the honourable member for Yarmouth who, as Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, was able to bring this forward. I do recognize my colleague in doing that.

With that said, I don't think we need to prolong this discussion because we know, as my honourable colleague, the member for Glace Bay made very clear, the root of this bill, and we will support it moving forward.

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 9.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 9. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Personal Property Security Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 1658]

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to offer just a few brief comments on Bill No. 10, amendments to the Personal Property Security Act, and I give full credit to the honourable members across from me for this. (Applause)

The Personal Property Security Bill provides a legal framework for registering security interests. If, for example, you obtained a car loan with a bank, your car is security for that loan. The bank registers their interest on your car with the Personal Property Registry. This notice of registration is there for any other lender who is considering using your car as collateral. It is also available to potential buyers if you choose to sell your vehicle.

Mr. Speaker, these amendments will revise some of the wording in the Act to align it with legislation across Canada. This is part of a national initiative to create more uniform laws across jurisdictions.

These changes clarify the Act but do not change its intent. I would also like to point out that the process of identifying the necessary amendments has been completed in collaboration with the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society. With that, thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Once again it's a pleasure to stand and speak in support of a bill, in particular Bill No. 10, the Personal Property Security Act. It is a bill that is being amended to make its wording consistent with similar Acts in other provinces, and part of a Canada-wide initiative to use similar language in commercial legislation across the provinces. I don't have much more to say to that, other than it's a pleasure to see the minister stand and give credit where credit is due. It shows that the minister indeed has an open mind, and perhaps someday will agree with some things that the Official Opposition says, as well. I give her credit - well, I won't hold my breath waiting for that, but I will hold out hope that it may happen.

Having said that, I will give our support on behalf of the Liberal caucus to second reading of Bill No. 10, and moving it on to the Law Amendments Committee. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I'm glad that the member for Glace Bay agrees with the minister that she agrees that this was a good initiative of a past government to bring forward and continue the process. So I thank both of my honourable colleagues, and obviously, as with my other comments, we feel that these measures are all in a positive vein and to move things forward. So with that, the minister knows of our continued support of these initiatives, and I thank her for moving these forward in the House today. Thank you.

[Page 1659]

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

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Thank you very much. I now move second reading of Bill No. 10.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 10. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 27.

Bill No. 27 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. This bill streamlines the appeal process for discriminatory action decisions. The amendment eliminates an initial appeal to the director of Occupational Health and Safety and sends appeals directly to the Occupational Health and Safety Appeal Panel, and I hope members with their comments will see this piece of legislation go through the process.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Liberal caucus is agreeable to seeing this bill proceed on through to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

[4:45 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I can just say quickly in response to Bill No. 27 that anything that streamlines a process like a discriminatory action decision is a good one, one that will flow things along much quicker. So our caucus, of course, is in favour of this housekeeping bill.

[Page 1660]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 27.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 27. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for today so I would ask that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. After the daily routine, we will have Public Bills for Second Reading - Bill Nos. 14, 16, 17, 20, 24, 30 and 39. I ask that we do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is for the House to rise and meet again tomorrow at 9:00 a.m.

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 House stands adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption which was submitted by the honourable member for Annapolis:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government increase funding to EIBI."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1661]

HEALTH: EIBI - FUNDING INCREASE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place to speak on the EIBI as part of the autism initiative in our province. This goes back to one of the areas that I have been involved with since arriving here in 2003. In fact, in the 2004 budget year there was no line item for EIBI. There was a small amount of money available for speech pathology for children diagnosed with autism. So over the past four or five years the province has come a long way. This is an issue that is 100 per cent non-partisan. This is about our children - our special children - and families so unfortunate to have to deal with this on a daily basis and indeed for a lifetime. However, EIBI has proven to be a successful intervention. It's an Early Intensive Behavioural Intervention and so this is something that we now see happening across our province, and again families are talking about the success.

Last year we had a formal report that was carried out in the province which, in fact, showed that EIBI was working. In fact, it was a headline in The ChronicleHerald - successful but government was not putting enough money into this program. So it's one of those bittersweet developments that we have in Nova Scotia. It's helping some families but others are left out. Because of the limited amount of money in the early intensive behaviour program, we will see some children who will move through those two or three years from three years, four years and five years of age when this therapy has the greatest chance of having a reversal of some of the symptoms that are exhibited in a child with autism.

In fact there is a tremendous range of symptoms exhibited by children with autism. It can be mild to very, very severe, and one of the great hopes, again, not just simply by itself and a therapist who is involved in the program but it takes parents, it takes a family, it takes all of those dealing with a child to be able to make the kind of differences that the basis of this program does claim very, very good success for. However, at the present time, the fact is we have a lottery system in Nova Scotia and perhaps that's the most unfortunate aspect of where we have arrived with EIBI and it will be one of the challenges that the new government faces and we are certainly hoping, on behalf of those parents and children and future Nova Scotians that there will be a positive response.

My colleague, the member for Halifax Clayton Park and the Health Critic, would also like to say a few words in late debate on this topic.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I am conscious that we don't have a lot of time in late debate for subjects that are often very pressing and very important to Nova Scotians. This question of how we serve the children and the families who have autism in our province has been very much on the agenda of government since I arrived here in 2003 and, in fact, it was the subject of my very first private member's bill as a new member of this Legislature.

[Page 1662]

In 2004, I introduced a bill that called for funding for behavioural therapy and at the time, there was no funding provided and families were covering the full cost of it themselves.

Again, although the government over that ensuing five years have put a program in place and made some money available, we know that that was only $4 million last year and that's not just for EIBI. I don't know how it breaks down and hopefully the minister's comments might provide some guidance on that, but today in Question Period the minister told me that she thinks the funding has been stable, that means no increase has gone to the families and children in Nova Scotia. We haven't been able to hire more of the people that can help with EIBI therapies and therefore we are not covering the tremendous demand that families have.

I think it's only proper in these few minutes to talk about the effectiveness. I know the member for Kings West talked about the effectiveness of the EIBI program, the study that was done just a few years ago showed that it was tremendously positive. Families said time and again what a huge difference it had made to the stress level that they live with every day and as their children gained a little bit more in verbal and communication skills, they actually saw a demonstrable decrease in the number of disruptive behaviours and in actually a much more peaceful and harmonious life for the family. I think none of us can imagine the stress that families live with when they know their children need this kind of intensive therapy and behavioural work and yet can't get it. If they don't have the thousands of dollars to hire speech pathologists and hire specialists in autism who work and provide therapy, then their children wait on that waiting list.

The key thing that we are so concerned about here today is that here in this province, in the year 2009, children with autism have to go on a lottery list and their name has to be drawn in order for them to receive this help. If their name is not drawn can you imagine the sadness and the despair of families who do not find their opportunity coming through that lottery system?

I know we have scarce resources but as I said in Question Period today, we would never in a million years imagine telling somebody with cancer that they have to go on a waiting list or wait for a lottery to see whether or not they're going to get their services. We have to pay now or we're going to be paying so much more in the future. If we could just utilize this EIBI to its fullest. In fact, it's a cost effective way compared to other therapies because it actually helps to equip the family as well. It trains the family members and that's where I said, there's a lot less stress in the home where the children have received EIBI because the parents themselves feel they have the capacity, they have the tools and the skills and the strategies to work with their children and to improve the outcome. It is such a great way to empower families and improve the outcome for our children.

Mr. Speaker, we know that if children don't get that help in those first five or six years that are most formative, they can be helped but it will not have the same dramatic effect

[Page 1663]

that we know happens with preschoolers. So it is critical - it is time-sensitive and critical to provide that intervention at that early time.

Mr. Speaker, we thought with the study that was done, showing that we have the right program in place and showing that it has helped families on so many different levels to cope better, to see their children improve - as the member for Kings West said, there's a whole spectrum of autism disorder, some of them are fairly mild and some much more severe, but we've seen huge benefits in each and every one of those levels of disability, and children can actually become fully functional, moving into our school system with no trouble.

With this lottery, again I have to point out that, as it stands now, if your name isn't drawn you go back in the pool with all the other children who have autism who have not been helped and all the new children who are being identified every year, and again your name waits. So somebody could, in fact, wait two months and get lucky and have their name drawn, while another child waits one year, doesn't get their name drawn, waits another year, their name doesn't come up - they could be years on the waiting list.

Mr. Speaker, just to close, what happens to those children who enter our school system? Well, what happens is if their name hasn't been drawn, they go back into another waiting list and it's up to the Department of Education to help them.

Today we're calling for more funding for EIBI in this province because it's an essential thing for our young people and the families that are affected. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First of all I want to say thank you to the member for bringing forward this issue for late debate tonight - the Intensive Early Intervention Program for children with autism.

I just want to take a couple of moments to speak about early childhood intervention in Cumberland County and the wonderful group of people who are working together there to do everything they can to ensure that programs are in place for children, preschool, who face so many challenges in their life.

Mr. Speaker, I know that many issues come before this House and we're all speaking about, in this case now, the government putting more money into different programs and there's no question - I think I heard one of the members in government today, in days gone by say that there's never anything that comes before this House where there's an argument for money that is not a good program and certainly deserving, and I certainly agree with that.

In this case I know in Cumberland County I had the opportunity to meet with a group of concerned parents and people who are involved with the early intervention program there. They are very concerned as to where in the future what the opportunities may be for this type

[Page 1664]

of program. Many of these were parents with children who are preschool who are watching what's happening with, for example, teaching assistants and questioning whether the number of teaching assistants will be available in the future in the classroom.

I think we'd all agree that over the last number of years the additional tasks that are put on the backs of teachers in classrooms continue to grow, when we see teachers who are being asked to do more and more each and every day in the classroom. But we need to ensure the resources are in place for them to ensure that they can do the job themselves, on behalf of the students, and of course for those who are in the classroom who are facing challenges and need additional resources.

Mr. Speaker, on the early intervention program, again in Cumberland County, folks here are very concerned as to the types of services that will be available. When people hear about draws, children's names being put in a lottery and drawn for services, they really question government's thoughts around allowing that to happen. When you have the number of children that we have in Cumberland County who require these services, to have a parent told, sorry, we did the draw and unfortunately your child didn't make the draw, maybe better luck next year, that doesn't sit well with many people - it certainly doesn't sit well with the parents.

As a government, I would hope that the government would look at, in the future, how they can address that very important issue. My understanding in Cumberland County, for example, the numbers on the waiting list continue to grow. These people who are involved in this program, and the parents, want to ensure that the government will do everything it possibly can to meet the needs of these children in the future.

[5:00 p.m.]

Four years ago, our government made $4 million available through the health authorities for this program. I know that seems like a lot of money, it sounds like a lot, but when you divide it up around the province for the number of children who are in need of these programs - like other programs, it's not enough. I know the government will have a huge challenge in trying to find additional money.

My understanding, as well, meeting with this group, they've been told by the government that this program - along with some other programs - are being reviewed now or will be reviewed this Fall. On behalf of the people whom I represent in Cumberland County, the folks involved in the program, the early intervention program, the parents of these children and more specifically, on behalf of the children, I would ask the government to give serious consideration as they review these programs. As was said to me by a parent, investment today in this program, but what will it cost down the road - whether it is health, whether it is justice, whether it is social programs to the province - if we're not able to find the resources to ensure these programs continue to provide the services that are expected by the families, by the people who run the programs and by the children?

[Page 1665]

I think that if there's some way that the government can actually cost out that eventual savings that will be achieved as a result of investing now, I think it will far outweigh what the cost will be today.

I'm going to share my time with my colleague, the honourable member for Argyle. With that, I'll just ask the minister and the government that they would consider the parents and children of Cumberland County and what they've said to me and they would actually ask that when the review of this program is done, that their thoughts be considered and that the program be expanded as much as possible within the financial parameters of the government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to speak a few moments on the EIBI Program. Of course, the EIBI Program was one that was brought forward by our government in 2005-06. At that time we were making $4 million available for the program where a little over $3 million was provided to the district health authorities and the IWK, with a few dollars going to Department of Justice and Community Services as partners in this program.

I think we were very, very happy with the outcome of this program insofar as that for the children who were able to be in the program, we were seeing some pretty darn good results. These children, as they were worked with, as they were challenged, they were coming out with much better language skills, much better deductive skills and we hope that with that intervention, they would move on into the school system and get some of the services that are available to them there.

Of course the challenge that the minister is going to have, is finding some more dollars for this program as well. Even if we talk about it as a very small program, $4 million, what is the next step that you take? Right now, it's serving about 27 to 30 children per year, which doesn't sound like a whole lot but because of the intensity of this program, it is about as much as the IWK and the district health authorities can do at this time.

If I remember correctly, one of the biggest challenges that we had for this program was actually finding the early interventionists - people who not only do the assessment at IWK, but also end up working very hard with the child and the family. Not only is this a challenge for the child, it's a challenge for the family to work with this disorder.

There are actually some scary statistics, if I remember, and I wish I had them with me; I hope the minister does. The prevalence of autism in our communities continues to balloon. I never heard of autism when I was a child. It wasn't until the movie Rain Man before autism would have come, not mainstream, but at least known to the broader community. Since that time, it just seems, time after time, children are having this diagnosis of autism.

[Page 1666]

I think it went from one in 100,000-plus at some point to one in 5,000 and even something less today. I can only go by what I've seen in my communities, especially in the schools, what we're seeing is children who are diagnosed late with autism. Maybe at one time we would have called them developmentally delayed or whatever the term was back in the day, but we're seeing it is more specific. By the time they're in school, even though there are some wonderful services that they can get, it is almost too late for those real language skills, those very personal skills which seem to be the disconnection with children with autism disorder.

Mr. Speaker, I hope as we go along, it is increasing that child's ability to communicate so that they can function within the school system. I can say that I've seen some of these kids get through and actually be very good folks within our community who can really give back to a community. That's what we want. That's what a parent would want - the best for their child, knowing the challenges that they have and not having to be frustrated in trying to find the services that are available to them.

So I hope that the minister continues to keep her hand on this program and continues to try to find ways to expand it. I'm hoping that more children can access this program, because we need to serve those kids as much as we can. I hope that someday we'll see the run of children with autism start to go down again. It seems to be an odd random event that we seem to have more and maybe some day we'll have less. That's what we can hope in the long term. So, Mr. Speaker, I thank the Opposition for bringing this forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to thank the Opposition for bringing such an important topic forward. One that I've been interested in for quite a number of years and do very much welcome an opportunity to have some discussion and hear from members of the Opposition on this.

The timing could not have been better, in some ways, because in the last day or so I was sharing with my colleague, the Minister of Finance, an e-mail that I had from a mom who has a little autistic boy, who was one of the children who received the EIBI program. She said in her e-mail to me that it really was like winning the lottery for them and that he had gone from barely speaking at all to becoming a chatty, social child who is having success at school and he's just entered Grade 2.

I said to my colleague, it's so fantastic to get an e-mail like this as Minister of Health. I don't get a lot of e-mails like that, I can assure you, Mr. Speaker. I do get a lot of e-mails though (Laughter) Yes. I do get a lot of e-mails but I don't necessarily get a lot of e-mails like this one. It brought a big smile to my face and I have to say, it's really wonderful. But

[Page 1667]

this little boy's mother wasn't only writing me to say what a great program this was for her child, she was saying, please make sure that other kids have these opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, when I was a younger person, a young student in university and was trying to decide what I would do after I studied in a Bachelor's program, I almost took Special Education and was very interested, actually became quite interested in kids with special needs, particularly kids with this disorder, autism. As the honourable member for Argyle said, it wasn't something that we heard a lot about. But I think just in the 1960s and 1970s, it was starting to become a bit more known as a disorder. There's still a great deal to be learned and known about this particular disorder and not all children with autism exhibit identical behaviours. It manifests itself in a variety of ways. Sometimes it takes a considerable period of time to even arrive at a diagnosis.

The number of children who are receiving the EIBI treatment today in Nova Scotia has increased from 26 to about 61 or so, but there are 100-plus children waiting on wait lists around the province for the program. To be clear, I think we don't really know how many children actually have autism or would be diagnosed and fall within that spectrum of characteristics and behaviours that could be characterized as autistic. This is something that I certainly would like to see the research done on, to help us understand the magnitude.

In the meantime, that shouldn't hold us back from doing what we can for those kids and those families, the children who have been diagnosed and who need treatment. Now, all of the members who have spoken have acknowledged the financial challenges, but also have acknowledged that the importance of providing treatment that is effective to children should take some precedence over the financial considerations.

In the election, this Party - the Party I am a member of, and now the Government - we did make a commitment to increase funding for treatment programs for children with autism. We talked about providing a program called Every Kid Counts. Part of that would be to expand the autism services by introducing intervention services for preschool children and to deal with the backlog in school-age autism assessments in year one of our mandate and determine the numbers of children with autism in Nova Scotia and their needs and begin a phase-in of intervention services for children, using the model that New Brunswick has, which would allow us to establish five agencies to administer the delivery of services throughout the province. These agencies would work with the schools to transition these children from their family into the school system and work continually to develop individual education plans.

This is a very true statement the member for Cumberland South made - you can pay now or you can pay later. I think, as somebody who has also worked with kids in the justice system, I know well that children who could be worked with at an early age and their families and could see great benefit could be diverted out of our justice system, which turns out to be probably the most expensive way to deal with people who have any kind of behavioural or

[Page 1668]

other form of disorder. So this is something that I certainly keep in mind all the time, Mr. Speaker.

[5:15 p.m.]

The department is very sensitive and very aware of the fact that the current treatment is, indeed, offered through a lottery program. The former government were very sensitive and very aware of that. In their budget process they certainly attempted to increase. The member for Argyle wasn't the minister at the time, but he may have had some of the preliminary discussions. Certainly his Leader would have been Minister of Health and led a process of looking for dollars that would see the expansion of this program, and it didn't come to fruition.

We went through a similar process when we took office and inherited that budget. We certainly looked for the same dollars and were unable to achieve them, but we will have an opportunity this Spring, having gone through another process, and I want to assure members that providing the adequate treatment for children with this syndrome, particularly those young children who are on wait lists - at the moment there are a small number of approximately 100, nevertheless an important number- we need to attempt to address that in some way.

So we're always very mindful in the department that this is a group of children who would benefit. The evaluation of the EIBI, which was introduced as kind of a pilot project with a research component by an academic with some expertise in evaluation from Dalhousie University, has demonstrated that it is a very effective treatment, but an expensive treatment. So I will and this government will be certainly moving to provide better services to these children in hopefully the not-too-distant future.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

The motion to adjourn the House was made earlier.

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

[The House rose at 5:17 p.m.]

[Page 1669]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 793

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Public Service Commission is dedicated to building a service that strives for excellence while recruiting Nova Scotians to meet the needs of a modern and innovative public service; and

Whereas Linda Sawler, a resident of Ellershouse, was recently recognized for her 25 years of exceptional service with the Government of Nova Scotia's Department of Justice; and

Whereas the public service of Nova Scotia contributes in a fundamental way to good government, to democracy, and to society in general;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Linda Sawler, of Ellershouse, on her outstanding work for the Nova Scotia Government's Department of Justice over the past two- and- a-half decades.

RESOLUTION NO. 794

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas on October 25th in Windsor, Walk a Block for Lupus will take place to raise awareness and support a cure for this autoimmune disease; and

Whereas tens of thousands of Canadians live with this disease, and Kim Burns of the Lupus Society as well as Lisa Bower of Lisa's Café are spearheading this worthwhile event to coincide with Lupus Awareness Month in October; and

Whereas the hard work and time put forth by all those involved can have a major impact in the lives of many Canadians stricken with lupus;

[Page 1670]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Lisa Bower and Kim Burns for their hard work on this initiative and encourage one and all to do their part to eradicate this terrible disease.

RESOLUTION NO. 795

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas Darlene Roach has had a working career providing a valuable service for some of our most challenged and vulnerable citizens; and

Whereas Darlene has made a commitment to Liberty Lodge that speaks of dedicated service and special support for the clients; and

Whereas Darlene has made a positive contribution to developing a caring community where the client's well-being is the highest priority;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate and commend Darlene Roach on the occasion of her 25th Anniversary at Liberty Lodge.