Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 09-30

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

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1842
Law Amendments Committee, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1842
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 867, MacNeil, Dr. Lawrence - Perkin Award,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1843
Vote - Affirmative 1844
Res. 868, Dao,Kim Hong, Bang Gia, & Niem Gia -
Youth Entrepreneur Award, Hon. P. Paris 1844
Vote - Affirmative 1844
Res. 869, Educ. - Workplace Educ. Progs.,
Hon. M. More (by Hon. W. Estabrooks) 1844
Vote - Affirmative 1845
Res. 870, Natl. Skilled Trades Wk. (11/02 - 11/09/09) - Celebrate,
Hon. M. More (by Hon. Peterson-Rafuse) 1845
Vote - Affirmative 1846
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 871, Health - Digby Neck: Nurse Practitioner - Secure,
Mr. H. Theriault 1847
Res. 872, Health - Digby Neck: Nurse Practitioner - Find,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1847
Res. 873, Sceles, Marilyn/Christie, Joan - AIDS Fundraising,
Ms. K. Regan 1848
Vote - Affirmative 1849
Res. 874, Sampson, Lynette: Olympic Torchbearer - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1849
Vote - Affirmative 1850
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 52, Emergency Department Accountability Act,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1850
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 875, Conrad, Suzanne & Hugh: Rug Hooking Museum -
Establishment, Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 1850
Vote - Affirmative 1851
Res. 876, Main St. Dart. & Area Bus. Improvement Assoc./Students -
Commun. Dev., Mr. A. Younger 1851
Vote - Affirmative 1852
Res. 877, McMillan Fam. - MADD Can. Award,
Hon. K. Casey 1852
Vote - Affirmative 1853
Res. 878, MacLellan, Natasha - Portia White Prize (2009),
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1853
Vote - Affirmative 1853
Res. 879, Clare Curling Club - Anniv. (10th),
Hon. W. Gaudet 1854
Vote - Affirmative 1854
Res. 880, Longley, Ann: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. C. Porter 1854
Vote - Affirmative 1855
Res. 881, Intl. Ukulele Ceilidh Comm. - Anniv. (3rd),
Ms. V. Conrad 1855
Vote - Affirmative 1856
Res. 882, Farmers Co-Operative Dairy - Top 15 Employers (N.S.),
Ms. K. Regan 1856
Vote - Affirmative 1857
Res. 883, Iona Connection Heritage Co-Operative - Anniv. (25th),
Mr. K. Bain 1857
Vote - Affirmative 1857
Res. 884, Macnab, John - Lt. Gov.'s Masterworks Award,
Ms. M. Raymond 1858
Vote - Affirmative 1858
Res. 885, Glace Bay Food Bank - Feed N.S. Award,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1858
Vote - Affirmative 1859
Res. 886, Easson, Paul - Atl. Provinces Trucking Assoc.:
Director - Selection, Hon. R. Hurlburt 1859
Vote - Affirmative 1860
Res. 887, Richard, Doreen: Mi'kmaq Elder - Installation,
Mr. B. Skabar 1860
Vote - Affirmative 1861
Res. 888, Université Sainte-Anne: Renewable Energy Projects - Congrats.,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1861
Vote - Affirmative 1862
Res. 889, Martin, Dave: Olympic Torchbearer - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 1862
Vote - Affirmative 1863
Res. 890, Sherbrooke Lake United Church Camp - Anniv. (45th),
Mr. M. Whynott 1863
Vote - Affirmative 1863
Res. 891, Craig, Muriel - Kingston Vol. of Yr. (2009),
Mr. L. Glavine 1864
Vote - Affirmative 1864
Res. 892, Bean, Ms. L.L. - Lobster: Maine/Nova Scotian - Supremacy,
Mr. H. Theriault 1864
Vote - Affirmative 1865
Res. 893, Longley, Ann: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. J. Morton 1865
Vote - Affirmative 1866
Res. 894, Bentley, Rob - Parrsboro Band: Director - Appt.,
Hon. M. Scott 1866
Vote - Affirmative 1867
Res. 895, Northwest United Baptist Church - Anniv. (200th),
Ms. P. Birdsall 1867
Vote - Affirmative 1867
Res. 896, Corkum, Taylor: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 1868
Vote - Affirmative 1868
Res. 897, Robertson, Danielle & Charles: Port Joli Coastal Habitat -
Protection, Ms. V. Conrad 1868
Vote - Affirmative 1869
Res. 898, Amherst - Natl. Communities in Bloom Contest,
Mr. B. Skabar 1869
Vote - Affirmative 1870
Res. 899, Gowan, Dr. Geoffrey: Sports/Broadcasting - Contributions,
Mr. L. Preyra 1870
Vote - Affirmative 1871
Res. 900, Scanlan, Marie - Sackville-Cobequid: Constituency Asst. -
Serv. (20 Yrs.), Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1871
Vote - Affirmative 1871
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 246, Health: Digby Neck - Nurse Practitioner,
Hon. S. McNeil 1872
No. 247, Prem.: Beef Ind. Plan - Funding,
Hon. K. Casey 1874
No. 248, Health - Digby Neck/Islands: Nurse Practitioner -
Min. Authority, Mr. H. Theriault 1875
No. 249, Health: Islands Community Health Ctr. - Consistent Service,
Mr. H. Theriault 1876
No. 250, Health: Digby Neck - Health Care Access,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1878
No. 251, Prem.: Budget Balancing - Election Commitment,
Hon. S. McNeil 1879
No. 252, Com. Serv.: Affordable Housing Prog. - Status,
Mr. K. Bain 1880
No. 253, Health - H1N1 Mass Vaccinations: Schools - Lack Explain,
Ms. D. Whalen 1882
No. 254, Prem.: Junior Ministers - Accountability,
Hon. C. Clarke 1884
No. 255, Health - H1N1 Vaccinations: Children - Prioritize,
Ms. K. Regan 1885
No. 256, ERD: Aliant Call Ctr. (Sydney) - Layoffs,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1886
No. 257, Health: H1N1 - Dalhousie Univ. Vaccine Memo,
Ms. D. Whalen 1888
No. 258, HPP - Vaccinations: Administering - Details,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1889
No. 259, Health - Dart. Gen. Hosp.: Overcrowding - Increases,
Mr. A. Younger 1891
No. 260, HPP - H1N1 Vaccine: Population Density - Effect,
Mr. C. Porter 1892
No. 261, Com. Serv.: Child Care Ctrs - Loan Announcement,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1894
No. 262, Prem. - PC Gov't: Commitments - Honour,
Hon. M. Scott 1896
No. 263, Health - Boarding/Transport./Ostomy Prog.: Budget (2010-11) -
Increases Confirm, Ms. D. Whalen 1897
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 568, Health - Digby Neck: Nurse Practitioner - Min. Recruit,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1898
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1898
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1901
Ms. D. Whalen 1903
Mr. C. Porter 1907
Res. 695, NDP Gov't.: Deficit Budget (2009-10) - Denounce,
Hon. K. Casey 1911
Hon. K. Casey 1911
Hon. G. Steele 1914
Ms. D. Whalen 1917
Hon. C. Clarke 1920
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Remembrance Day: Veterans - Thank,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1925
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1927
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1930
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 29th at 2:00 p.m. 1932
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 901, Murphy, Gerry/Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team (1971):
Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine 1933^
Res. 902, Acadia Sports Hall of Fame: Inductees - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 1933
Res. 903, Fleckenstein, Shelley: Profit Mag. - Enterprising Woman List,
Mr. C. Porter 1934
Res. 904, Advocate United Church - Anniv. (170th),
Hon. M. Scott 1934
Res. 905, Fuller, Jason - Prime Minister's Teaching Excellence Award,
Hon. M. Scott 1935

[Page 1841]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll start today's proceedings. Before we go to the daily routine, I'll announce the winner of the late debate:

Therefore be it resolved that with Remembrance Day upon us, we the House give heartfelt thanks to our veterans, both living and passed, for their sacrifices in the line of duty.

That was submitted by the honourable member for Queens, and debate will occur at the hour of interruption at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

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

[Page 1842]

1841

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 4 - Engineering Profession Act.

Bill No. 6 - HRM by Design Act.

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

Bill No. 10 - Personal Property Security Act.

Bill No. 15 - Beneficiaries Designation Act.

Bill No. 16 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 25 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 27 - Occupational Health and Safety Act.

Bill No. 34 - Emergency Management Act.

Bill No. 40 - Labour Standards Code.

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

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

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 1 - Motor Vehicle Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

[Page 1843]

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

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 867

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

Whereas Dr. Lawrence MacNeil of Arichat has demonstrated a dedication to his profession as a family physician, and a commitment to improving access to care; and

Whereas Dr. MacNeil scored top marks for patient care and has clearly shown that he cares about the health and well-being of the people in his community; and

Whereas the College of Family Physicians of Canada has awarded Dr. MacNeil a Reg L. Perkins Award as one of its 10 Family Physicians of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Dr. Lawrence MacNeil for his outstanding efforts that have made him a deserving recipient of the Reg L. Perkins Award as one of its 10 Family Physicians of the Year and a credit to his community and province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1844]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic and Rural Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 868

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

Whereas three Dao siblings originally from Vietnam, who have been living in Canada since they were children, are established entrepreneurs with two successful Thai restaurants in Halifax - Talay Thai and Chaa Baa Thai; and

Whereas they are representing Nova Scotia as winners of the Young Entrepreneur Award through Business Development Canada; and

Whereas these young entrepreneurs demonstrate forward-thinking, creativity and risk-taking with the necessary drive to potentially franchise their restaurants to build on their current success;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Kim Hong Dao, Bang Gia Dao and Niem Gia Dao for winning the Young Entrepreneur Award, and wish them all the best with their 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 Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

RESOLUTION NO. 869

[Page 1845]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas workplace education is an investment in the future of Nova Scotia's workforce and the provincial economy as a whole, and works to address changing labour market demands to promote a work culture that values and contributes to learning; and

Whereas investments in literacy and essential skills enables people to evolve in their jobs and adapt to workplace change while assisting the employers in retaining staff, enhancing performance, remaining competitive, and improving customer service; and

Whereas since 1989, Nova Scotia has worked in partnership with business, industry and labour organizations to develop and deliver customized workplace literacy and essential skills programs to thousands of potential and current employees;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and thank all those partners and employers who help to deliver workplace education programs and congratulate, on its 20th Anniversary, Nova Scotia employees who have successfully completed a workplace education program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 870

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

[Page 1846]

Whereas our skilled workforce represents one of the province's most valuable resources, and government works diligently with its partners in education and industry to deliver programming that supports a strong, skilled trades and technology sector in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas government also works in partnership with many labour organizations, boards, associations, employers and training providers to develop programming, as well as a system that supports our hard-working skilled tradespeople and technologists as they work to provide a safe and secure environment for Nova Scotians to live, work, and play; and

Whereas from November 2nd to November 9th we will celebrate National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, and work together to raise awareness about the excellent career opportunities that exist in the skilled trades and technologies in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the great work being done by the skilled tradespeople and technologists in this province as we celebrate National Skilled Trades and Technology Week, November 2nd to November 9th, and encourage today's workers that they lay the path for the next generation of skilled workers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, first, if I may, I would like to do an introduction. In our west gallery today, we have community leaders and residents of Digby Neck and the Islands, who are here to represent the interests of 1,500 residents who have been impacted by the sudden termination of a well-respected and well-loved nurse practitioner. We have Warden Jim Thurber from the Municipality of Digby, Andy Moir,

[Page 1847]

Roger Outhouse and Dr. Richard MacLaughlin from Dalhousie University, and also Bob Handspiker, whom I don't see right offhand but he's certainly around here somewhere. So if the House could give these people a warm welcome, I would appreciate it. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 871

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

Whereas nurse practitioners have become a great asset for our rural areas of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the community of Digby Neck and the Islands has been fortunate to have a nurse practitioner for many years, but they have come and gone mostly because of its isolation; and

Whereas the community finally found a nurse practitioner who was willing to stay and help the people in any way possible, but the district health authority does not want this to happen, leaving people thinking there is no hope for our terrible health care situation in this unique area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health take control and secure this community's nurse practitioner in order to give them, as well as all rural communities in Nova Scotia, hope that our medical situation will get better, not worse, and that the minister still has some control over our entire health care system.

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. 872

[Page 1848]

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 Karen Snider was dismissed by the South West District Health Authority, after making a permanent settlement in a community that has seen six nurse practitioners since 2002; and

Whereas the residents of Digby Neck, who have driven all the way here to personally impress upon the Minister of Health the importance of having a full-time clinic in Long and Brier Islands; and

Whereas the Minister of Health has discussed that it is not her role to become involved in the internal matters of the district health authority;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health show the ministerial accountability that the NDP promised during the recent election and for the minister to personally resolve the issue of finding and securing a full-time nurse practitioner in Digby Neck.

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 Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted an introduction. Seated in the west gallery today are 21, I believe, Grade 8 students from Armbrae Academy who are here to observe the proceedings and they are accompanied by their teacher, Jamie Langille, and the Deputy Headmaster at Armbrae Academy, Mr. John Stone. I would like them to rise and receive the warm welcome of this House, and welcome to the proceedings. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 873

[Page 1849]

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

Whereas the Stephen Lewis Foundation held it's A Dare to Remember fundraising week October 17-25, 2009, to raise money and awareness about AIDS in Africa; and

Whereas the Grandmothers to Grandmothers organization works with the foundation to help financially support grandmothers in Africa who care for their grandchildren left orphaned when their parents die of AIDS; and

Whereas Marilyn Sceles and Joan Christie of Bedford were among the Canadians who accepted the dare for Canadians to hold a thousand dinners across the country to raise money for these grandmothers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Marilyn Sceles and Joan Christie, the Grandmothers to Grandmothers organization, and all the other Canadians holding fundraising dinners across the country, and wish them well in their fight against AIDS.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 874

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

Whereas Lynette Sampson of Sydney River has been selected as a torchbearer for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games while the relay goes through Sydney in November; and

[Page 1850]

Whereas Lynette has been an active athlete in the Special Olympics over the last five years in swimming; and

Whereas in July of this past year, Lynette's hard work and dedication to her sport paid off as she captured one gold, three silver, and one bronze medal at the provincial swimming competitions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Lynette Sampson on being selected a 2010 Olympic torchbearer and wish her continued success in the pool.

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.

There has been a request to revert back to the order of business, Introduction of Bills.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 52 - Entitled an Act to Provide Accountability Respecting Hospital Emergency Departments. (Hon. Maureen MacDonald)

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

[NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 875

[Page 1851]

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

Whereas Suzanne and Hugh Conrad are embarking on a lifelong dream of establishing a rug-hooking museum; and

Whereas this museum will host a rug and artifacts collection from around the world valued at $1 million worth of inventory; and

Whereas this museum will house a rug and artifacts collection;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend our congratulations and best wishes to Mr. and Mrs. Conrad as they establish a rug-hooking museum in Queensland.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 876

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

Whereas members of the Main Street Dartmouth and Area Business Improvement Association have endeavoured to increase the sense of culture, community, and creativity for the residents, business owners, and friends of the Main Street area; and

Whereas the Main Street community is hosting several spontaneous, festive, and exciting performances of Michael Jackson's Thriller choreography in and around its businesses and public places throughout this week leading up to Halloween; and

[Page 1852]

Whereas a successful debut of the performance took place on Friday, October 23rd in the middle of a parking lot intersection, performed by over 100 students from local junior high schools and high schools, and the week-long event will be highlighted by a finale on Friday, October 30th;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the Main Street Dartmouth and Area Business Improvement Association and area students for their commitment to their community by fostering performing arts and encouraging the development of the community artistically, creatively, and through the involvement of Dartmouth's youth.

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 Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 877

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 MacMillan family, David, Julia, and daughter, Jill, from the North Shore of Colchester County were involved in a hit and run incident in March; and

Whereas David MacMillan followed the car to a nearby service station where the driver fled, and David pursued him on foot until RCMP officers were notified and apprehended the driver; and

Whereas recently at the annual general meeting of the Cobequid chapter of MADD Canada, the MacMillan family was presented with the Community Hero Award, of which only three were presented across the country this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the MacMillan family for receiving this Community Hero Award from Mothers Against Drunk Driving and

[Page 1853]

for going above and beyond to make sure this impaired driver did not get away with this crime.

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.

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 878

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

Whereas emerging playwright Natasha MacLellan was honoured this past weekend by being named as 2009 Portia White Protégé Prize winner by Mary Vingoe, this year's primary recipient of the Portia White Prize; and

Whereas it is a great honour for Natasha MacLellan to be selected to share the Portia White Prize, the most important arts award presented by the Province of Nova Scotia, with noted playwright Mary Vingoe; and

Whereas Natasha MacLellan is a native of Margaree, currently living in the north end of Halifax, who is the past president of the Playwrights Atlantic Resource Centre and the current artist in residence at Mulgrave Road Theatre in Guysborough;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Natasha MacLellan on being named the winner of the 2009 Portia White Protégé Prize and on her many accomplishments as we look forward to what will certainly be a long and successful career in the theatre.

[Page 1854]

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 879

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

Whereas 2009 will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Clare Curling Club; and

Whereas the club is home to many curling leagues including clubs for men, women, a youth league, as well as a seniors organization; and

Whereas there are additional programs for schools and the Special Olympics, including individuals who require the use of a wheelchair;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Clare Curling Club as they celebrate their 10th Anniversary and wish them continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1855]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 880

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

Whereas the Municipality of Kings County lost a dear and valued employee in Ann Longley who died suddenly Saturday morning; and

Whereas Ann was working as municipal clerk for the municipality and at the time of her death was employed with the municipality for slightly more than 44 years; and

Whereas Ann's motto in life was doing the right thing and encouraging others to do the same, was also executive director of the Fire Services Association of Nova Scotia at the time of her sudden death on Saturday;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly extend our sincere and deepest sympathies to Ann's husband, Paul, and members of her family during this difficult period in time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 881

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

[Page 1856]

Whereas Queens welcomed ukulele players from all over the world for the third annual Ukulele Ceilidh on October 22nd; and

Whereas the ukulele is gaining popularity throughout the world and the streets of Liverpool were full of ukulele music for four days; and

Whereas entertainers who performed at the Ceilidh this year were Chalmers Doane, Melanie Doane, the Langley Ukulele Ensemble from British Columbia, performers from England, the United States, and many more Canadian performers;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize all of the volunteers, participants and the Third International Ukulele Ceilidh Committee for all of their hard work and congratulates them on a successful four days of workshops, concerts and jam sessions in a wonderful part of Nova Scotia, Queens County.

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. 882

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Top 15 Employers were selected from applicants to the national Canada's Top 100 Employers competition, as determined by editors at Mediacorp Canada Inc.; and

Whereas Farmers Cooperative Dairy of Bedford, which manufactures and distributes dairy and related products across Atlantic Canada, has been named one of Nova Scotia's Top 15 Employers; and

[Page 1857]

Whereas this honour has been conferred on Farmers Dairy for their positive practices that enhance work-life balance, including allowing flexible work weeks, supporting employees' career development with tuition subsidies, paying paternal leave top-up benefits for new parents and helping employees save for retirement with contributions to a defined pension plan;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Farmers Dairy Cooperative President and CEO Ralph Ballam, its 170 dairy farmer owners and all Farmers staff on winning this award, and wish them success in their 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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 883

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 Iona Connection Heritage Cooperative had its origins in small museums and with small cultural groups; and

Whereas the Iona Connection's commitment to foster a communications network among heritage associations and organizations, its promotion of historical societies and heritage groups and its gathering of important heritage information have all contributed to the creation of a higher profile for heritage in Cape Breton; and

Whereas on October 24th the group celebrated its Silver Anniversary at the Highland Village in Iona;

[Page 1858]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the Iona Connection Heritage Cooperative on its 25th Anniversary and thank them for all their efforts in promoting Cape Breton heritage.

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 Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 884

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

Whereas John Macnab, a graduate of the Nova Scotia College of Geographic Sciences, is largely self-taught as a wood turner and a machinist, whose exquisite turned sculptures, burled bowls and tiger tables have been shown in galleries, art fairs and industrial design exhibitions across the continent; and

Whereas John has lived in Nova Scotia since 1970, working in Halifax where his studio has come to exemplify the creative relationship between tool and form; and

Whereas John has designed and built a 20-foot vertical lathe to turn complex curves, mimicking some of those found in nature, and has used it to create the 25-foot red spruce piece known as CSDC 3-8, first exhibited in Chicago last year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate sculptor and craftsman John Macnab on winning the 2009 Lieutenant Governor's Masterworks Award for Compound Spiral Double Cone No. 3, 8 Sided, and wish him well as he continues his work and extends the tradition of Nova Scotia artists and artisans recognized well beyond the bounds of the province.

[Page 1859]

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 885

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Glace Bay Food Bank has been recognized with a 2009 Outstanding Partner Award from Feed Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Glace Bay Food Bank embraces teamwork to make programs run smoothly and efficiently; and

Whereas under the leadership of coordinators Sandra MacPherson and Patricia Hurley, the dedicated volunteers of the Glace Bay Food Bank provide exemplary service to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the Glace Bay Food Bank for their dedicated community work and the receipt of the 2009 Outstanding Partner Award from Feed 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.

[Page 1860]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 886

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 Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association is the voice of the road industry in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas more than 400 commercial carriers, brokers, owner-operators, and associated trades belong to this association; and

Whereas the association on October 8th selected its new executive and board members, and Paul Easson of Eassons Transport Limited in Berwick was selected as director of the Atlantic Trucking Board;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Paul and wish the Atlantic Provinces Trucking Association a very successful 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 Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 887

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

[Page 1861]

Whereas the naming of a Mi'kmaq elder is a high honour bestowed upon a member of the First Nations community who has the knowledge and ability to guide and nurture youth; and

Whereas Doreen Richard, a Grade 1 teacher at the Cumberland North Academy in Brookdale, was recently installed as an elder in a special ceremony at the school in front of the students and teachers; and

Whereas by being a teacher, Ms. Richard is already living up to many of the responsibilities of an elder as she touches the lives of so many young people and provides sound advice from the heart;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend our congratulations to Doreen Richard on her new and significant role as a Mi'kmaq elder.

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 Clare.

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make this resolution in French first, please.

RESOLUTION NO. 888

HON. WAYNE GAUDET: Monsieur le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que l'Université Sainte-Anne dispose de la plus importante installation de chauffage solaire de l'eau au Canada atlantique, en plus d'une éolienne de 50 kilowatts et d'une chaudière à la biomasse de 110 chevaux-puissance; et

Attendu que ce projet d'énergie renouvelable permettra à l'Université d'économiser des centaines de milliers de dollars chaque année en frais de chauffage et d'électricité; et

[Page 1862]

Attendu que ces deux nouveaux systèmes seront utilisés ensemble pour chauffer le campus, conjointement avec l'éolienne de 50 kilowatts qui produit de l'électricité et permet de réduire les coûts et les émissions de gaz à effet de serre de l'Université;

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les membres de cette Assemblée félicitent l'administration de l'Université Sainte-Anne pour leur leadership et leur vision, et lui souhaitent un succès continu dans ses projets futurs.

Monsieur le Président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis.

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

Whereas Universite Sainte-Anne has the largest solar hot water installation in Atlantic Canada, in addition to a 50-kilowatt wind turbine and 110-horsepower biomass furnace; and

Whereas this renewable energy project will save hundreds of thousands of dollars annually in heating and electrical costs to the university; and

Whereas these two new systems will work together to heat the campus along with the 50-kilowatt wind turbine which provides electricity in an effort to reduce costs and limit the greenhouse gas emissions for the university;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the administration of Universite Sainte-Anne on their leadership and vision and wish them continued success in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

[2:45 p.m.]

[Page 1863]

RESOLUTION NO. 889

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

Whereas Dave Martin of Sydney Mines has been selected by the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Committee to carry the torch as part of its historic relay; and

Whereas his strength and reputation as a dedicated community volunteer, especially with minor baseball and amateur sport in his beloved community of Sydney Mines, earned Dave the honour to carry the Olympic flame; and

Whereas Dave Martin 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 Dave Martin for a successful Olympic torch run, and that the day of his run is filled with wonderful and proud memories shared equally with family, friends, and 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 Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville.

RESOLUTION NO. 890

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

Whereas Sherbrooke Lake United Church Camp of Franey Corner, Nova Scotia, has served the families of South Shore and Valley Presbyteries of the United Church of Canada for over 45 years; and

[Page 1864]

Whereas in a week of camp, children experience canoe and swimming instruction, crafts, nature activities, games, music, hiking, campfires and vespers; and

Whereas Sherbrooke Lake United Church Camp continues to have dedicated staff, camp council members, volunteers and supporters from the local United Churches and communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the staff, council members, and families associated with Sherbrooke Lake United Church Camp past, present, and future on their 45th Anniversary of serving the youth of Nova Scotia and wish them well 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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 891

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

Whereas Muriel Craig was selected as Kingston's Volunteer of the Year for 2009, based on an outstanding contribution to life in the village; and

Whereas Muriel was a member of the village commission who committed to enhancing tourism, main street beautification, recreation, and increasing the quality and quantity of participation in the annual Apple Blossom Festival; and

Whereas Muriel has been a major organizer of the Annual Village Harvest Dinner and Auction, bringing to this event, and all her involvements, a philosophy based on the strongest work ethic and if it's worth doing it's worth being the best;

[Page 1865]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Muriel Craig on being Volunteer of the Year and wish her the very best 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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 892

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

Whereas Miss Linda L. Bean, owner of the L.L. Bean mail order clothing empire, recently told The New York Times she's trying to keep Canadian lobster out of her chain of shops that sell lobster rolls in favour of Maine lobster because she thinks Canadian lobsters are "imposters"; and

Whereas it is a well-known fact that Canadian lobster is a superior product to Maine lobster because of its survivability, shipping success, strong, hard shell, better meat yield, and high customer satisfaction rate the world over, which bring tourists from near and far to our province to enjoy the delicacy; and

Whereas our Canadian lobsters continue to be in high demand across the globe as lobster lovers specifically request our lobster over Maine lobster when placing orders with lobster pounds and seafood companies for shipping, despite its higher cost;

Therefore be it resolved that we feel sorry for Miss Linda L. Bean for not knowing what the rest of the world has known all along, that Canadian lobsters are the best, and that she immediately stuff her rolls with what the world really wants - Canadian lobster.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1866]

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 Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 893

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

Whereas Ann Louise Longley was employed with the Municipality of the County of Kings for over 44 years, where she held the position of municipal clerk and served as the executive director of the Fire Services Association of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ann received many awards during her career and followed a philosophy of doing the right thing and encouraging others to do the same; and

Whereas Ann Louise Longley passed away on Saturday, October 24, 2009, at the Valley Regional Hospital in Kentville;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly pause to recognize the passing of Ann Louise Longley, her many years of service to the Municipality of Kings County and to offer condolences to her family and friends.

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.

[Page 1867]

RESOLUTION NO. 894

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

Whereas the new music director for the historic Parrsborro Band is hoping to see the group grow in its ranks in the months ahead; and

Whereas Rob Bentley recently took over from long-time director Don Short for the band's new Fall term, where he is looking forward to growth and sustainability for the citizens' band; and

Whereas the band now carries a core membership of 15 players and special plans are in the works to celebrate the band's centennial, and although records of the band date back as far as the 1870s, it was officially incorporated in 1909;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Rob Bentley on being the new music director of the Parrsborro Band and wish him and the band much success and congratulate them on their centennial 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 Lunenburg.

RESOLUTION NO. 895

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

Whereas John Dimmock of Chester and a group of 10 Baptist brethren gathered in Lunenburg in 1809 to form what would become the Northwest United Baptist Church; and

[Page 1868]

Whereas the congregation is still worshipping and gathering at the Meeting House two centuries later, a building designated as a provincial and municipal heritage property; and

Whereas the Northwest United Baptist Church is celebrating 200 years of regular meetings at their church on Big Lots Road with a special service on Sunday, November 1st at 3:00 p.m.;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize the 200th Anniversary of the Northwest United Baptist Church and wish them many more years of worship within 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 Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 896

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

Whereas 9-year-old Taylor Corkum continues to demonstrate compassion, selflessness and strength well beyond her age; and

Whereas despite being stricken with cancer, Taylor continues to support her peers through community fundraisers like Locks of Love; and

Whereas the Tantallon Elementary School student is currently raising funds to provide autistic student Jacob Freeman with a hyperbaric chamber for his oxygen treatments;

[Page 1869]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our sincere congratulations to Taylor Corkum for her dedication for making life easier for her peers and wish her continued success with her chemotherapy treatments and a speedy recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 897

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

Whereas the protection of critical coastal habitat in the Port Joli area along the south shore of Nova Scotia has been the dream of local couple Danielle and Charles Robertson; and

Whereas this dream became a reality with the assistance of the Nature Conservancy of Canada; and

Whereas this area has long been renowned for its exceptional wildlife habitat;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognizes Danielle and Charles Robertson of Port Joli for beginning the process to protect this 138 hectares of Port Joli's pristine coastal habitat which provides home for Canada geese, Harlequin ducks, American black ducks, as well as a number of other waterfowl and shorebird species.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1870]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cumberland North.

RESOLUTION NO. 898

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

Whereas the Town of Amherst recently attained a four bloom score in the National Communities In Bloom contest, earning a spot as a finalist in the 8,001 to 10,000 population category; and

Whereas the town was commended for the community garden off Veno Avenue, the tree carvings downtown, the public parks and the waste and recycling program, among other initiatives; and

Whereas the judges who visited the town were impressed with the interest in preserving heritage buildings, as well as the number of festivals the town organizes and hosts and told town officials that "Amherst should be proud of the projects and achievements that helped to make the community beautiful, healthy and sustainable";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly extend their congratulations to the Town of Amherst and the residents who helped make the town score so well in the National Communities In Bloom contest.

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 1871]

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island.

RESOLUTION NO. 899

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

Whereas Dr. Geoffrey Gowan was technical director and later president of the Coaching Association of Canada, the official body responsible for coaching and development throughout Canada, from 1972 to 1976; and

Whereas Dr. Gowan has made a lifelong commitment to sport as a competitor, teacher, coach, technical specialist, planner and administrator and his athletes have won medals on the track in Olympic, Commonwealth, European and World Student Games competitions, these are accomplishments for which he was inducted into Canada's Sports Hall of Fame and as a member of the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Dr. Gowan was on the CBC team as colour commentator and analyst at Olympic and Commonwealth Games, world championships of track and field and soccer, and numerous other national and international competitions for which he was inducted into the CBC Sports Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Dr. Geoffrey Gowan for his outstanding contributions to the worlds of sport and broadcasting and wish him a happy 80th birthday on November 2, 2009.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 900

[Page 1872]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas all MLAs know that constituency assistants play an important role in providing service to the residents we all represent; and

Whereas the residents of Lower Sackville have benefited greatly from the professional, dedicated work of constituency assistant Marie Scanlan; and

Whereas Marie Scanlan has served the residents of Lower Sackville for the past 20 years as constituency assistant for the former MLA John Holm and now the current member for Sackville-Cobequid;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House Assembly congratulate the constituency assistant Marie Scanlan for her dedication and professionalism while performing her duties and thank her for over 20 years of service to the residents of Lower Sackville and wish her continued 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.

Just a reminder before we go into Question Period that no electronic devices are to be on. That applies to all members - no electronic devices.

[3:00 p.m.]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time now is 3:00 p.m. and we will go until 4:30 p.m.

[Page 1873]

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH: DIGBY NECK - NURSE PRACTITIONER

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Residents and community leaders of Digby Neck and the Islands are understandably upset at how a former nurse practitioner of the Islands Health Clinic was let go. This part of the province has constantly been plagued with primary health care challenges. The residents of Digby Neck and the Islands quickly saw the value of a nurse practitioner. But it was not only the community that sang the praises of the nurse practitioner, also did the Premier when he was in Opposition.

In fact, just over a year ago, during Question Period, the current Premier asked the government of the day, how could you turn your back on a nurse practitioner who is ready and able to deliver primary health care. So my question for the Premier is, I would ask you to address the guests in the east gallery today and tell them, why is your government turning your back on their nurse practitioner?

HON. DARRELL DEXTER (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, my reply, of course, to the Leader of the Official Opposition would be, we do in fact support the ongoing presence of a nurse practitioner at that facility, we think it's important, we think it provides the level of care that is expected by the community there. I know that this is a very, very difficult situation and I, of course, understand the anxiety that is being felt by the people in the community. The reality is that the decision with respect to this particular individual was made by the district health authority, they are the employer.

MR. MCNEIL: The Premier is correct, there is a tremendous amount of anxiety in this community of Digby Neck and the Islands. It may have been a decision made by the DHA but the DHA can report to your minister and to your government and you have the ability to solve this issue, you have had the ability to solve this situation for the people of Digby Neck and the Islands since it started.

Mr. Speaker, residents being served by the Islands Health Clinic finally had stability. They finally had a nurse practitioner who cared about them and worked for them. They had someone who stood up for them publicly when she felt their health care needs were not being addressed properly.

Mr. Speaker, in 2001, twice in 2003, 2006 and 2008, this current government while in Opposition tabled whistle-blower legislation, legislation which would protect workers who disclosed information by choosing to speak up against management. Community members feel very strongly that the nurse practitioner was asked to leave because she publicly spoke out against the district health authority. So my question to the Premier is, why won't your

[Page 1874]

government practise what it preached while in Opposition and tell the district health authority to settle this issue once and for all?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure what that preamble had to do with the question at all but what I can say is that the district health authority had a meeting with the members of the community, there were a number of options, I understand, that were advanced by the members of the community for the district health authority to consider. I understand that process is still underway and I want the member to know that I respect both the work of the district health authority and the members of the community who participate in the community health board.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Premier, that community is without primary health care. You have the power to make a decision, and so does your Minister of Health, to solve this issue once and for all, instead of pushing the responsibility back to the district health authority.

Mr. Speaker, the DHA said that the decision to release the nurse practitioner from her duties was not clinical. This morning the CEO of the South West Nova District Health Authority apologized to the people of Digby Neck and the Islands for not being able to provide accessible primary health care. Actions speak louder than words. So my question for the Premier is, will your government demand that the DHA reinstate the nurse practitioner so that the residents can once again have access to consistent health care services instead of allowing them to hide behind what is publicly perceived to be nothing more than a gag order?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I already indicated to the Leader of the Official Opposition, there was a meeting, I understand there have been communications between the district health authority and the members of the public, the community health board there. They have set out the various options that they felt were appropriate. I did, in fact, hear what was being said by the CEO of the health authority. I believe that the district health authority has to be accountable to the people of that community and that's what they're doing. I guess we'll see what the result of that is, but that is the law in this province.

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

PREM.: BEEF IND. PLAN - FUNDING

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Yesterday in this House, the Minister of Agriculture indicated that he was working on a plan and, quote, "We have to make sure that the program design is one that will actually meet the needs of the industry".

[Page 1875]

Question, if the government is working on a plan, if they are working on a plan, can the Premier tell this House today how much money has been targeted in this year's budget to support the plan of the minister?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not at liberty to speak about the details of the plan that is still being worked through by the Minister of Agriculture along with the various stakeholders. They're trying to come up with a plan and an amount of money that will fit within the budget of the Department of Agriculture and will be effective for the industry. I think that's a perfectly reasonable approach to take and, of course, a more effective one than the previous government took.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I find that answer very disappointing. I'm sure the beef industry farmers do as well, because it sends a very strong message that perhaps there was no intention to have any money in a budget to support the plan. My question to the Premier is, without a clear-cut answer as to how much, will the Premier guarantee today that there will be money available to support the plan for the beef industry, understanding it perhaps was inadvertently omitted, but will there be money there when it's needed by the farmers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want the member opposite to know that the consideration of the importance of agriculture in this province, including, of course, the beef industry, is something that we are very much concerned with. This is not a single issue, it's about a myriad of issues that exist within the Department of Agriculture and, of course, within the budget of the Department of Agriculture is included money for the support of the policy and program initiatives that the department intends to enter into.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I asked a specific question and I did not get a specific answer, so my question to the Premier is, if assistance for Nova Scotia beef farmers was not a priority, and was not in the 2009-10 budget, will the Premier make it an immediate priority to re-direct any funding from any other government department to ensure that those farmers will be supported?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out to the Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party, the question of the importance of the beef industry in this province has always been an important one to this government. In fact, I can remember in the very early days after his appointment as the Minister of Agriculture, him raising this issue with me on a consistent basis, talking about the kind of work that was going to be necessary for him to do with the stakeholders in order to have a program that would realistically meet the needs of the beef industry. I think he deserves to be congratulated for the work he's done in this regard, and we're hopeful that he'll be able to conclude that work and put the program in place after the consultations are complete and the program design is complete.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

HEALTH - DIGBY NECK/ISLANDS NURSE PRACTITIONER

[Page 1876]

- MIN. AUTHORITY

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. For the second week in a row this minister has failed to assume responsibility when it comes to the sudden release of a nurse practitioner on Digby Neck and the Islands. It would appear that when you look at the legislation, the minister may have more authority than she thinks. Section 22(1) of the Health Authorities Act states, "The Minister shall make by-laws with respect to . . . the appointment, removal, functions and duties of officers, agents and servants of the authority."

Mr. Speaker, I will table that information. I'm aware of the minister's meeting with the representatives this afternoon, so my question to the minister - will she review these bylaws with the community representatives this afternoon so we can once and for all establish the fact that this minister does indeed have the power and authority to do something about this situation?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct. I have a meeting set up with the community representatives who are here from the Digby Neck area. I am very concerned regarding the situation in that area with respect to their clinic and health care being delivered in that community, but I think the way to reach a solution to this is through discussing the various proposals that have been exchanged between the district health authority and the citizens' groups, not by the minister sitting around and making bylaws.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, people in my community don't believe for a second this minister cannot solve this problem. They don't believe she cannot speak with the DHA and fix this situation. Taxpayers of Nova Scotia, including the taxpayers on the Neck and Islands, fund this DHA to the tune of over $70 million. People in this community believe that the nurse practitioner was terminated because she stood up for their health care needs, because she cared too much about her patients, all at the expense of hurting the feelings of her superiors in Yarmouth. So my question to the minister is, given that this minister tabled whistle-blowing legislation when she was in Opposition, why is she not willing to speak to the CEO of South West Health and put into practice what she preached?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have been speaking with the CEO of the district health authority. Last week I made the request that the district health authority sit down with representatives from the community, and indeed, last Friday that's exactly what occurred. Both parties, as I understand it, brought suggestions to the table. Responses to those suggestions have not concluded and until they do, I will meet with both sides in this issue. I will hear what they have to say, and I look forward to their finding a resolution to this matter.

[Page 1877]

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, that meeting last Friday on the islands was useless. Residents of our community heard the CEO for the district health authority on the radio this morning. They heard his apology to the community members about the fact that they no longer have access to consistent primary health care services like they had in the past. This is the very same person who caused this disruption in the first place.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, can the minister please confirm whether her bylaws created under Section 22(1) of the Health Authorities Act actually give her power to deal with the senior management at the DHA level?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I will say to the honourable member is that I am prepared to meet with people from his community to hear what it is they have to say today. Following that I will be in contact with the CEO of the district health authority, and I will continue to speak to the parties and attempt to find a resolution to this matter that is satisfactory to the community as well as to the district health authority and to myself as minister.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

HEALTH: ISLAND HEALTH CTR.

- CONSISTENT SERVICE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Residents of my community are very concerned, but none more so than Dorothy Outhouse. Dorothy was diagnosed with thyroid cancer in 2007 and received great hands-on care by the nurse practitioner who was suddenly terminated by the DHA. Dorothy's medical history was well-known to this nurse practitioner and much to Dorothy's surprise, when she reported back to her for her checkup earlier this month, the nurse practitioner was gone.

My question to the minister, tell Mr. Roger Outhouse, who is in the gallery today, why Dorothy is no longer able to rely on the delivery of the consistent primary healthcare services through the Island Health Centre.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, presently there is a temporary nurse practitioner two days one week, three days another week in the community. Now, we have committed to the district health authority to go forward in posting that position in their attempt to recruit a new nurse practitioner as the member would well know.

This is a personnel matter between an employee and an employer. The employee has available to her a grievance procedure and a union to represent her through that process.

[Page 1878]

MR. THERIAULT: By that answer, Mr. Speaker, I guess that means this meeting this afternoon is not going to mean too much. Dorothy is not feeling well and her symptoms are becoming worse. Dorothy reported to the Island clinic last Friday and after waiting almost two hours, she left. She was not seen by the nurse practitioner. She returned later that afternoon and waited again for another couple of hours. The clinic being open for five days over a two-week period is taking a toll on Dorothy and it's taking a toll on our community.

My question is, why is it acceptable to the minister that residents of Digby Neck and the Islands be subject to reduced health care services when the situation can be easily rectified?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we understand that the community is concerned. The district health authority has offered a variety of options, including expediting the grievance procedure for the employee in question, going directly to arbitration. They have also offered to have their decision reviewed by a third party, another district health authority. There are other options that are currently being examined, options that have been suggested by the community, and we will have the discussions and find a resolution through this process. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, when this minister and this government was in Opposition, they would have been mad when it came to reduced health care services in our rural remote communities like Long Island. They would have been demanding answers of government and crying foul when those answers never came. Now it seems like we can't get her and her government to assume any responsibility for her department.

My question to the minister is, will the minister take control of the money allocated for the Island Health Clinic in order to provide consistent accessibility and ensure that a nurse practitioner, who cares about this community, stays and helps these people?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think I've laid out fairly clearly what the issues are that we are dealing with. We have a situation between an employer and an employee. We also have a situation where a community has had a reduction in their normal health care services. I have brought the parties together, they have offered a variety of ideas in terms of moving forward on this issue. It is premature to take any action today until the ideas that have been put on the table have been thoroughly canvassed. That's what will happen before we move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HEALTH: DIGBY NECK - HEALTH CARE ACCESS

[Page 1879]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As the minister is aware, the Progressive Conservative Government, back in 2002, introduced one of the first nurse practitioner programs in the Province of Nova Scotia in Brier and Long Islands and Digby Neck. Unfortunately, today the minister has allowed the communities of Digby Neck to allow a committed, community-minded nurse practitioner, such as Karen Snider, to be dismissed without any replacement. I'm very glad the minister will be meeting with this group who are in the gallery today. But my question to the minister is this, what are you prepared to do, as per your ministerial accountability, in order to ensure the residents of Digby Neck have timely access to health care?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I have said, there is a nurse practitioner there two days one week and three days another week. That's hardly nothing, as I hear the members of the Opposition saying. (Interruption) Additionally, we understand the need for a full-time nurse practitioner in that community and we're very supportive of that. In the absence of a resolution to this problem, the district health authority has gone forward, in a timely manner, to re-post that position.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, during the recent provincial election, the NDP boasted they had all the answers in health care. Their election platform states two things: ministerial accountability for emergency departments and to improve access to primary care with more nurse practitioners. What the NDP have done is to reduce the access to primary care with one less nurse practitioner, and there is no ministerial accountability as the minister continues to hand off these duties to the DHA.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister, will you remove this decision from the South West Nova District Health Authority and will you personally ensure the placement of a nurse practitioner, in Digby Neck, full time?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I will tell the members of this House - unlike the former government that had no difficulty using the hammer on health care workers across this province whenever they felt like it, quite often for political gain - this government will respect the employment relationship. We will respect that there are collective agreements in place and we will ask the employer and the employee and their union to use the legal framework that is available to them.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as we've seen, this minister seems more interested in hurling insults across the floor, playing the blame game rather than finding results. The people who have driven many hours want to have their case heard by the minister. They want results and they deserve access to a full-time nurse practitioner. The Health Liaison Committee has told me that they were not informed of any problems nor were they consulted about the nurse practitioner situation. Ms. Snider had bought land, built a house, and by all accounts was doing a good job of treating the residents of Long and Brier

[Page 1880]

Islands. There have been six nurse practitioners since 2002, and Ms. Snider wanted to make her permanent home to be part of the community.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is this, will you place a nurse practitioner under someone else's responsibility in order to ensure health services is a priority over personal spite?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I would say is that, first of all to the honourable member, there is a difference between stating facts and hurling insults. I know that the member has a hard time with the difference but nevertheless, I have been clear (Interruptions)

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have been clear about what the process is in this case. We have an employer/employee relationship between the district health authority and an employee who has been let go. The employee has available to her a collective agreement and representation. The employer has offered an expedited grievance procedure and arbitration, and that is one of the options that is available and I am encouraging the parties to pursue that option.

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

PREM.: BUDGET BALANCING - ELECTION COMMITMENT

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. During the election campaign the Premier committed to Nova Scotians that he would balance the budget next year. My question for the Premier is, will you repeat that commitment today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I will do is indicate to the Leader of the Opposition that we are in the process of looking for the receipt of the report of the economic panel, and that we believe that balanced budgets are important for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier was a fan of balanced budgets in Opposition, and he was a fan of balanced budgets during the election campaign. Now it might be an operating principle. Now it seems balanced budgets were something that were expected of other Parties, not the NDP. My question for the Premier is what steps are you taking to ensure that next year's budget will be balanced?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to answer the question of the Leader of the Opposition. We are undertaking a number of activities to be able to put ourselves in a position to make sure the province's finances are sustainable. We did that in the beginning

[Page 1881]

by having a review done by Deloitte to indicate exactly the position that the province is in. We have commissioned an economic advisory panel that is going to report on the various options that are available to the province in order to be able to meet its obligations and to be able to provide some physical stability to the province.

In addition to that, internally the Minister of Finance, of course, is conducting his own consultations, reviews, and departmental initiatives to try to determine what can be done on the department's side as we get ready to receive this additional information.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the government has removed the requirement for balanced budgets for the foreseeable future. That says a lot more than vague promises during an election campaign - actions speak louder than words in this case. My question for the Premier is when is the first year that Nova Scotians can expect a balanced budget from your government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I just pointed out to the member opposite exactly what we were undertaking in order to bring the province's books back into balance and to make sure that we're on a sustainable path for the province. But I noticed throughout the election campaign, of course, the Leader of the Opposition said he had no idea when they would be able to balance the books of the province. (Interruptions) He recommended, in fact, and has recommended throughout (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. (Interruptions) Order. The Premier has the floor - and be careful of your language.

THE PREMIER: In fact, the Leader of the Opposition said it would (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. That language is not acceptable in this House. (Interruptions) I'm going to ask you one more time - that language is not acceptable in this House.

The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The member opposite, in fact, said that it would be unwise to balance the budget, so my question for him is (Interruptions) do we take his advice now or should I ignore him? ( Interruptions)

[3:30 p.m.]

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

COM. SERV.: AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROG. - STATUS

[Page 1882]

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. The Government of Canada, in its 2000 budget, announced $1.5 billion in federal stimulus funding for housing. The province's share was $96.12 million. These funds were to be delivered through an amendment to the Affordable Housing Program Agreement that my honourable colleague, the member for Argyle, signed when he was minister. It was to be expended within two years on a 50-50 cost share with the provinces.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, can the minister update the House on whether any monies have been spent, and if they have, where have they been spent?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for his question, and I would like to inform him that yes, we have gone forward with the housing stimulus 50-50 package, and we are presently - tenders are being sent out each and every day. The process is taking place and the different areas are all throughout the Province of Nova Scotia that we are actually putting the money for renovations and also new units, especially for seniors and persons with disabilities. Thank you.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the end result of these dollars was to create work in areas hit by the recession. The beauty of the retrofits in senior apartment construction was that smaller local companies could bid on the work. We're hearing that these companies are unable to win these tenders.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, could the Minister of Community Services provide the House with a sense of the work and the type of company that might be able to bid?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, actually to date we have created or preserved 1,200 units and the total investment is $128 million. Of that, $32 million was carried from the former agreement over to the present time, which makes it add on to the $96 million for the $128 million.

The tendering process is available for businesses to apply. The projects are going forth all throughout Nova Scotia, so I'm not quite sure what the honourable member is referring to. Thank you.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, I would ask if the minister could table that list for the House.

Mr. Speaker, the ability for local contractors to do work in their own community creates a lot of spinoff effects that would only bolster our economy and provide much-needed work in our provincial housing stock. My question through you to the Minister of Economic

[Page 1883]

and Rural Development is, as you are the minister responsible for procurement in the province, will you make the necessary changes to see that local contractors are given a competitive advantage to compete for this necessary Community Services housing work?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I certainly will take that under advisement and have discussions with the Minister of Community Services.

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

HEALTH - H1N1 MASS VACCINATIONS: SCHOOLS

- LACK EXPLAIN

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday Nova Scotians, and indeed all Canadians, were again saddened to learn that a 13-year-old boy from Toronto has become the latest victim of the H1N1 virus, the second young victim in our country in the last two days.

At one of Nova Scotia's first immunization clinics parents stood in line, some for as many as four hours, to get themselves and their children immunized. These recent deaths start to hit home for these and all other parents who are anxiously waiting for clinics to start in their area. Statistics south of the border, and those here as well, are showing that young people are particularly vulnerable. My question to the minister is, why did she not consider providing mass immunization clinics in schools so that children and teachers could be immunized both efficiently and expeditiously?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The Chief Medical Officer of this province, and indeed of provinces right across the country as well as our federal Chief Public Health Officer, Dr. Butler-Jones, spoke regularly throughout the planning for this pandemic with respect to the best way to get vaccines out.

It was determined that community clinics were probably one of the best ways to handle such a mass immunization program, Mr. Speaker, and with that we are seeing each of the DHAs roll out the vaccine program in the DHA. In some cases schools indeed will be used as sites, but they won't be a site solely for teachers and students. They, in fact, will be a community clinic site for the public as well.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, from September until June schools become a focal point for parents and children in every community. Every day parents deal with consent forms and they are accustomed to that. I expected the minister to tell me that they needed to do that which might have slowed things down. The consent forms are a common thing in schools and I think it would have been one less piece of paperwork that the actual DHA

[Page 1884]

would have to have contended with. New Brunswick, in fact - and following up on the minister's comment that all of the other jurisdictions have been in contact with each other - but New Brunswick is rolling out a school-based program because they see the value in delivering immunizations in settings where one of our most vulnerable populations gather daily. Yesterday, here in Nova Scotia, parents were actually taking their children out of school so they could line up for the public health clinics.

So my question to the minister is, does the minister agree or disagree with the concept of delivering a school-based H1N1 immunization program in Nova Scotia?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as we speak, community clinics are occurring across the province. Part of the establishment of clinics throughout the province, part of that process was having the district health authorities, who best know the regular patterns for immunization, other flu programs that they've offered in the past, the community use, for example, were all things that were taken into consideration, as well as personnel, what number of personnel were available to deliver programs throughout the province.

So, Mr. Speaker, we have a very good program of community health clinics, immunization clinics across the province occurring now in each of the DHAs, starting with health care workers in most cases, and we're asking that people allow high-risk groups, such as people with children under five years of age and compromised immune systems go first.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think we've heard a bit of a mixed message there because the community health clinics are for everyone. Everyone lines up with the same long wait in some cases and people, whether they're high risk or have other immune deficiencies, they're all lined up together. We are, in fact, fighting for time here. The evidence is that young people are more vulnerable to this virus and the schools make a lot of sense in terms of a location for that.

Some children are going to require two doses, three weeks apart, and we have heard in the media that it takes 14 days for the vaccine to become effective. So time is very important and we also know that we want to get the young people, particularly, vaccinated. So my question again to the minister is, will she reconsider offering a province-wide, school-based immunization program which would eliminate some of the stress on parents and reduce some of the potential lineups at public immunization clinics?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw the honourable member's attention to the fact that yesterday one of the clinics that was offered in the Colchester area was at the Douglas Street Elementary School in Truro.

The various clinics around the province are occurring in the community, in the places where the district health authorities have identified can handle large numbers of people in a short period of time. Thank you.

[Page 1885]

MR. SPEAKER: Just a reminder to members, some of our questions are a little long, some of our answers are a little long, if you can be concise, it would be appreciated.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

PREM.: JUNIOR MINISTERS - ACCOUNTABILITY

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. Last week when asked about his cadre of eight junior members of Cabinet and their associated responsibilities, assignments and accountability, the Premier faintly said they'll basically do a little bit of this and a little bit of that. What he wasn't specific about is the extent and nature of the work of these eight junior ministers. Can the Premier inform this House if he's had time to reflect on his knee-jerk actions to grow the size of Cabinet from 12 to 20 and if so, has he at least thought about public disclosure reporting and accountability measures for his junior ministers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the question from the member for Cape Breton North. I always enjoy a question when I've had a hand in writing it. The reality is that I saw the member for Cape Breton North outside of this place and I was pleased to tell him that with respect to any travel costs or anything associated with the ministerial assistants, that we would be pleased to include those in the reporting of the various ministers at the end of each month so that he can be sure to be able to track the activities of the ministerial assistants.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, well the Premier's ability to do policy on the fly is not isolated to flip-flops on election promises or fiscal positions - it now extends to his front bench and his gaggle of NDP Cabinet wannabes. Will the Premier commit to providing a written code of conduct, written policy directives, and financial accountabilities for his baby ministers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I pointed out in the past to the member opposite, he understands that because we have undertaken to shrink the size of Cabinet - something that was unknown to the members opposite when they were in government - that the work that's taking place by the ministerial assistants is in concert with the individual ministers that they are assisting, in concert with the decisions and programming that they undertake in their department. This is very good for the work of the individual departments, but it's also very good in ensuring the government has contact with the members of the public.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, since the Premier seems to be overseeing a covert operation rather than an open and transparent government, maybe, just maybe, he'll acquire the capacity to deal with the serious matter of Cabinet confidentiality, code of conduct and public reporting and accountability. Will the Premier finally admit that his knee-jerk reaction

[Page 1886]

to appease his backbench members with the sharpest knives is not good public policy nor is it appropriate executive decision making given the lack of structure, transparency, reporting and accountability from this government?

[3:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the openness and transparency of this government far exceeds anything that was seen in the time that I had been in the House of Assembly. Part of that openness, part of that transparency is making sure that the program of government, that the information of government gets out to the people of Nova Scotia, and of course the ministerial assistants perform that function. They make sure that the people of the province have an appropriate level of contact with the government.

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

HEALTH - H1N1 VACCINATIONS: CHILDREN - PRIORITIZE

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A situation was brought to my attention yesterday. A family in my riding has four children below the age of three. With triplets and another child and a mother who is an elementary school teacher, they knew it was important to get vaccinated. Now, they tried to book a vaccination with their family doctor, but they were told that even though children are supposed to be a priority, they couldn't get in for two weeks. So they packed up their children and drove to the clinic in Enfield. They arrived at nine o'clock in the morning and they stood in line outside, in the cold, with their four small children.

The only people being ushered in for priority vaccinations were pregnant women. Mr. Speaker, the father I spoke to didn't have a problem with pregnant women going first. He did, however, have a problem with children not being targeted here in Nova Scotia. My question is to the minister - why are children not a priority for this government?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member has it wrong. Children, in fact, are a priority for this government. Children, in fact, are a priority for the DHA where that clinic was held yesterday. People moved aside in the line to allow children and people with compromised immune systems or pre-existing conditions to get vaccinated first, and I want to take an opportunity to thank those people.

Mr. Speaker, I'll table the press release, a copy of a press release from that DHA, saying that in keeping with provincial recommendations, clinics will give priority to pregnant women and children under five.

[Page 1887]

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, the White family is trying to do the right thing. The department's own media release points out that H1N1 activity has been highest in the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority and Capital Health. The Health Department Web site has a link to the federal government site with this information: "As with the seasonal flu, children less than five years old and especially those less than two, are more likely to catch the H1N1 flu virus, and if they do catch it, they are more likely to develop severe complications, like pneumonia or breathing problems. This can put their health at serious risk. That's why it's important for parents and caregivers of children to reduce the risk of H1N1 exposure." I'd like to table that.

So the Whites tried to get vaccinated, but the lack of government planning made this impossible. After they stood in the cold for three hours, they gave up and headed home without getting vaccinated. Children and other individuals at high risk for H1N1 . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question, member.

MS. REGAN: . . . are being deterred from getting the vaccine. Why are there no clinics in metro this week? Where is the plan for children and those in high-risk groups?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I don't know if the honourable member heard the Chief Medical Officer from the Capital District Health Authority this morning on the radio; she was excellent. She talked about the community clinics that are coming next week. She talked about the decision that the CDHA made to do health care workers this week and start with the public next week in these clinics, when they will have an ample supply of vaccine so that they won't run out. They have six locations, they'll have 1,000 doses of vaccine in each of the locations, and they will be very prepared and very able to meet the demands out there, and I'm glad there is a demand.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, surely we can do more than one thing at a time. What is the White family supposed to do? Stand in line for hours on end at another clinic, hoping they will eventually get inside out of the cold before it is lunchtime or nap time or supper time? Hope one of their four small children doesn't get sick and infect the others? Hope mom doesn't bring the flu home from school because the province didn't run a school-based immunization program? My question for the Minister of Health is, what is the White family supposed to do this week?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have been talking about good public health and what that means. We all need to be practising good public health practice. We need to be washing our hands frequently. We need to be coughing into our sleeves. We need to be staying home if we are symptomatic. That is the best protection we have in terms of spreading, and trying not to contact the disease. We need to get the vaccine when it

[Page 1888]

becomes available. The vaccination program is a five-week process - not everybody is going to be able to get it on the first day of the program.

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

ERD: ALIANT CALL CTR. (SYDNEY) - LAYOFFS

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. This month, Aliant laid off 38 people at their call centre in Sydney. It is yet another blow to an area with a higher than average unemployment rate, an area which is already reeling from the worst economic downturn in a generation and this simply serves as another reminder of the importance of long-term sustainable economic development programs and not simply talk about tea and networking. Can this minister tell us what actions he has taken on this issue since it was brought to his attention in this House last week?

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, as always what happens when contact centres or when anything closes for that matter that NSBI has a hand in, one of the first things that they do is they put together a transition team; a transition team is in place. What the transition team does try to do and endeavours to do is to work with those employees and with the employer when jobs are lost.

On the topic of contact centres, contact centres have been around in the Province of Nova Scotia for some time and they create up to 9,000 jobs. Recently, we even made some rebate investments in additional centres to go in in other parts of rural Nova Scotia.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, for the members of the government backbench, I'd like to translate that. It means nothing was done, that's what it means. These workers need help now. Economic opportunities in the area are strained at best. The 103 workers that were laid off across the Province of Nova Scotia find themselves in need of concrete actions, not hollow promises. Can this minister specifically outline what additional programs will be made available to help these workers in their time of need, which will allow them to stay in their own communities.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, we just finished a very difficult year. There is a recession and people lost their jobs as a result of the recession. (Interruption) Yes, they have. That's unfortunate. The recession is being experienced around the world. We have fallen victim like everybody else. One of the good things though is that as of August of this year, more people are employed in Nova Scotia than any other year since the 1980s so we have worked hard to maintain jobs and to create new jobs in the Province of Nova Scotia. The reality of the world is, there is a recession going on.

[Page 1889]

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I guess what the reality is here is that nothing has been done for these 103 people. This government has really done nothing to help these people, but Sydney wasn't the only place that was affected by this. Amherst was affected, Truro was affected, and what was the NDP's response? Well, I will tell you, the honourable members for Truro-Bible Hill, Cape Breton Nova and Cumberland North all issued press releases, identical press releases, and in those press releases they all said the same thing, I will table them, they're right here - I understand that the employees and their families will be upset by this. Even one job loss is too many.

Mr. Speaker, this is shameful. At this time when these workers need their help, the NDP backbenchers cannot even form their own individual thoughts. They had to leave it up to the spin doctors of the Party. My final supplementary is to the Premier, how can these workers have confidence in his government when his own MLAs do not even care enough, or aren't allowed, to form their own opinions on this subject?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the members who were just identified by the member opposite for being engaged and concerned about their individual constituencies and they know that not only the Minister of Economic and Rural Development but, in fact, the entire Executive Council is engaged in making sure that there are good jobs in rural Nova Scotia. That's the work we're engaged in every single day.

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

HEALTH: H1N1 - DALHOUSIE UNIV. VACCINE MEMO

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Today students at Dalhousie University learned of the status of that institution's ability to offer on-site H1N1 clinics for their students. In a memo released today by the vice-president of student services, students were told that there are current challenges with regard to the availability of vaccine and that they were still awaiting word from Capital Health on when the vaccine will be available to the university. Given that this minister is responsible for the largest immunization rollout in the province, will the minister please enlighten all members of the House about the challenges being experienced with regard to the availability of H1N1 vaccine as referred to in this memo? I will table the memo.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. First of all, I want to assure everyone that anybody who wants to be vaccinated against the H1N1 virus will have the opportunity to be vaccinated. The program is a program that will occur over the next five weeks and we have placed an order for 1.4 million doses of vaccine, which will be more than enough to cover the demands. All of the vaccine does not arrive at once, Mr. Speaker. We received 52,000 doses last week. We received an additional 52,000 doses this week, and so on, we will continue on that kind of

[Page 1890]

a basis to receive vaccine. It then gets distributed across the province on a proportional basis to each DHA.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the assurances of the minister but there are a lot of people waiting for that vaccine and I'm not sure that we have the exact information we need. There are 16,000 students at Dalhousie University and they were being told in this memo to go to public clinics when they open next week in HRM. We all know that it's going to be a tough sell already to get university students to get vaccinated, and now it's an even tougher sell if we ask them to go to Spryfield, or downtown, or some other location, during class hours and to wait in line there. My question to the minister is, if there is a vaccine supply challenge, how does moving the entire student population of Dalhousie to another location within Capital District actually fix this problem?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the honourable member, and all the members of this House, that students in particular are a group that we want to get the vaccine. We will be making sure that we monitor very closely, on a weekly basis, the uptake of the vaccine. If we are having difficulty reaching that population, we will modify our approach to ensure that they get the vaccine.

Mr. Speaker, the clinics in the Capital District open next week for the public and students from Dalhousie or Saint Mary's, or anywhere else, are welcome to attend those clinics.

[4:00 p.m.]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that young people are a high- risk group, the minister has told us that the emphasis will be for high risk, that young people are included in the high-risk group along with pregnant women, and are being seen that way yet we're not making the vaccine convenient, to be provided at the place where there are 16,000 students in one place. My question to the minister is, why is it not possible to have some of the vaccine being used in other Capital Health sites delivered to Dalhousie, instead of making students travel to other public clinics?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as somebody who was a faculty member for many years at Dalhousie, I would like to assure the honourable member that Dalhousie students live all over the metro area and they will have great access to the public community clinics throughout the metro area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HPP - VACCINATIONS: ADMINISTERING - DETAILS

[Page 1891]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

Yesterday I tried to ask a very straightforward question. I want to work with this minister in a constructive manner. It has been brought to my attention that many general practitioners have serious concerns with what is being given to them by Health Promotion and Protection. I know that I would like to address an issue before a problem arises, so my question to the minister is, are you willing to look at a more efficient manner of administering these vaccines based on concerns raised by family doctors?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank Doctors Nova Scotia for their involvement in the rolling out of this vaccine. They have been very helpful in terms of providing us with people who will assist in this process and advice on how to do the process. There have been concerns expressed with respect to the paperwork, however this is because this is a new vaccine for a new virus, the requirements are requirements that come not only from our chief medical officer but, in fact, through Public Health Agency of Canada.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm certainly in full support of Doctors Nova Scotia and the work that they do and also the efforts of the Department of Health Promotion and Protection to ensure that many Nova Scotians will be vaccinated this Fall. I do have some concerns where the process can be improved, and I believe it is incumbent upon the minister to listen and act appropriately.

Two of the most pressing concerns that the minister should be interested in, that I'm hearing from practitioners, is the issue of the time required to administer the vaccine and the issue about the onerous paperwork that is being asked by the doctors' offices. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is this, is the minister willing to review the practices regarding solutions to reduce the paperwork burden upon doctors in order to address the shortcomings regarding the H1N1 plan?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it, physicians are required to fill out paperwork that will tell us who exactly is receiving the vaccine, some characteristics of those people, whether it's a pregnant woman, whether or not it is a child under the age of four, whether or not it is a young person, a young adult, and this helps us keep track of the uptake of particularly high-risk groups, and it allows us to modify our approach if we are not getting through to those groups, which is an extremely important thing in this particular pandemic.

Additionally, the paperwork allows us to keep track if there are any adverse reactions to the vaccine, Mr. Speaker. This is a new vaccine and the Public Health Agency of Canada, as I understand it, required that batches and those kinds of pieces of information need to be kept track of as well.

[Page 1892]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, there are always ways that things can be improved. I know that the minister is seeking the best results when it comes to the prevention of H1N1 in Nova Scotia. As we saw yesterday, there's a willingness for Nova Scotians to be vaccinated, as we saw in Elmsdale. Due to the time that is required by department officials to administer a vaccine, a lot of people were turned away after waiting in line to receive their vaccine. Many family doctors who have many years of experience in the health field feel that a shot can be administered in one to two minutes and that the four minutes is much too much time, given the nature of the pandemic. Right now the requirement is for four minutes per vaccine.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, is the minister willing to review the practices regarding the amount of time to administer the vaccines, in order to ensure a rapid response with the mass immunization clinics?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think no one could have predicted the number of people who turned up at Elmsdale yesterday for the vaccines, the fact that people travelled from fairly significant distances to get to that clinic.

Mr. Speaker, this is the largest immunization campaign that we have ever seen in this province. I'm sure that there will be a lot of reflection, once this process is completed, with respect to the effectiveness and the efficiency. We do surveillance throughout all of the five weeks and modify the campaign, given what we're seeing and the data that's being collected. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - DART. GEN. HOSP.: OVERCROWDING

- INCREASES

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week the Dartmouth General Hospital peaked at 240 per cent capacity. On Monday the hospital sat at 170 per cent capacity, with every single floor in the hospital holding patients waiting for beds, and some patients waiting in excess of 24 hours.

Yesterday it got no better - two surgeries were cancelled and one was put on hold due to lack of beds. Last week the minister said that the hospital was trying to avoid cancelling surgeries, to solve problems. Obviously that's no longer an option. The regularity of overcrowding and Code Census calls have increased dramatically in the past month. Mr. Speaker, will the minister admit that the overcrowding situation at the Dartmouth General Hospital has worsened since she became minister?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I am very concerned about the Code Census at the Dartmouth

[Page 1893]

General Hospital. Surgery has been increased in the hospital and, as I understand it, the surgeries have resulted in a loss of beds for people to be able to move from the emergency department onto the other floors.

I understand that two beds have been opened up but obviously this is not enough to accommodate the current situation. I will be seeking a meeting with the CEO of the Capital District Health Authority to see what else we might be able to do at the Dartmouth General Hospital to ease the situation, Mr. Speaker.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to hear that after two weeks of asking this question almost daily in the House that there's finally going to be a meeting with the CEO and finally some things are happening, but two beds isn't going to make a lot of difference. Tuesday morning started with six patients waiting to be admitted and an ambulance that couldn't offload because there was no bed in the hospital to move them into the emergency room.

The minister has repeatedly stated that the solutions will take time and has stated on the news that patients and staff will have to toughen it out. Mr. Speaker, what I'm unclear about is what level of overcapacity is the minister willing to accept before she recognizes just how serious it is and the fact that there will need to be additional funding to solve this problem. Is it 140 per cent, 170 per cent, 300 per cent? So will the minister please tell me exactly what level of overcapacity she feels is acceptable at the hospital while they wait for the long-term solutions?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm wondering whether or not the honourable member for Dartmouth East might make a recommendation for where the Liberal trust funds could go.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I felt I was being quite polite with the minister and trying to very much solve this problem, and unfortunately the minister has reverted to throwing insults and blaming others. If she doesn't want to do the job, maybe the Premier should just replace her. The fact is (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, this is truly a serious situation. This is a serious situation just like the situation in Digby is a serious situation. The fact of the matter is, this hospital is facing significant challenges and it undoubtedly will get worse as the flu spreads. It undoubtedly is going to get worse. Is the minister prepared to make additional funds available to the Dartmouth General Hospital when she meets with the CEO of the Capital District Health Authority?

[Page 1894]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my initial answer to the honourable member, I am very concerned about what's occurring at the Dartmouth General Hospital. As we all acknowledged in a debate here last week, the problems at Dartmouth General have been going on for more than 10 years. However, the Code Census situation in the last two weeks causes me great concern. I know the additional two beds have not really made a significant difference. I know there has been an increase of surgery there, and I would like to speak with the CEO of the DHA to find out from them what recommendations they are making to end this situation. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

HPP - H1N1 VACCINE: POPULATION DENSITY

- EFFECT

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Yesterday in this House of Assembly, the minister spoke of how the H1N1 vaccine would be made available based on population density. My question today to the minister is, quite simply, are the people living in rural Nova Scotia, in less densely populated areas, less important when it comes to protecting them from serious health risks?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if that was the interpretation that the honourable member took from my answer yesterday, I would like an opportunity to correct it. As I said earlier in Question Period, the vaccine is arriving on a regular basis. We started with 52,000 doses arriving last week and that was distributed to the DHA proportionately based on population. But smaller DHAs with less population did get vaccine, and then it's up to the DHAs to look at their communities and make decisions around the distribution of that vaccine.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, it's encouraging to hear that the minister sees that all Nova Scotians are important when it comes to who is at risk. It wasn't my perception - it was the phone calls and e-mails that I'm getting. That's the perception of the people where I come from. That's the reality.

Family physicians are attempting to assist their patients by providing clinics in their offices, yet because they themselves are unable to procure the vaccine, even though they've filled out the necessary application, no date has been verified, nor how much vaccine will be made available to them, making it impossible for physicians to tell their patients if they will have access to a vaccine. My question is, simply, when will the family physicians expect to receive the necessary vaccines to treat those who need it now?

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 1895]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I asked officials in my department that very question this morning and family physicians who are participating in this program are in fact receiving vaccine today throughout the province. Not all family physicians will be administering vaccines. There were some conditions. They have to be able to store the vaccine adequately and sign an agreement with Public Health in Nova Scotia.

MR. PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I would only say this from talking to my own family physician, it's hard for her to set anything up, which includes storage space for the vaccine, when they don't know when it's coming or how much is coming.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, my constituency of Hants West has a population of slightly less than 20,000 people. As it stands now, only two H1N1 vaccine clinics are scheduled, both at the Windsor Elementary School, on Monday, November 9th and Monday, November 16th between 3:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Why only two clinics in Windsor and none for the Hants Shore Health Clinic or in Hantsport, for example? Will local doctors be asked to be on duty these two Monday evenings and can slightly less than 20,000 people be vaccinated in a total of less than 11 hours?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the vaccination program is one that will occur over at least a five-week period. We have ordered sufficient vaccine for everyone in Nova Scotia who wishes to be vaccinated. We will monitor very carefully the uptake of the vaccinations and we will modify the administration of the vaccination based on the data that we're collecting on a regular, daily and weekly basis.

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

COM. SERV.: CHILD CARE CTRS.

- LOAN ANNOUNCEMENT

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the government made a $6 million loan announcement for 12 child care centre renovations. The government press release that went out yesterday said, "Subsidies may be available for qualified families . . ." so that they can ". . . take advantage of . . . child-care spaces." But looking at the announcement, it appears that the funding provided was through loans for renovations only. An interesting observation here is that nine of the 12 approvals announced yesterday went to NDP ridings, totalling $5.5 million out of $6.3 million. That's quite significant. My question to the minister is, was any money approved for additional child care subsidies as part of this announcement and, if so, how much; if not, why not?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for his question. Firstly, this process has been ongoing for awhile so there has not been any political involvement in the decision making. It's a very stringent

[Page 1896]

program. There are criteria and any one of the honourable members, or any members in this House, can certainly come to me. I've already offered to one particular member of the House, to have my staff sit down and go through what that particular process is - it is a scoring process. So that is certainly available.

With regard to the question on the subsidies, that's a different program all together. This was announcing the expansion loans that were made available to daycare centres throughout the province.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what the minister is telling this House and all Nova Scotians, I guess, is that nine out of 12 announcements in NDP ridings was just a coincidence, nothing to do with politics, and if anybody believes that, you know (Interruptions)

This announcement will do little to help people access child care, especially in Cape Breton. Of the $6.3 million announced yesterday, $173,000 is going to help renovate and expand just two child care centres on Cape Breton Island. Again, I'll remind you, Mr. Speaker, you and members of the House, that out of the $6.3 million, $5.5 million went to NDP ridings. I hear that the member for Cape Breton Nova got $13,000, and I guess that's the token payment in Cape Breton for his riding, $13,000. Cape Breton is not receiving its fair share of renovation funding from yesterday's announcement. Not only that, Cape Bretoners can't be guaranteed more subsidized child care spaces since this minister hasn't addressed this issue. My question again for the minister is, why are you treating Cape Breton unfairly when it comes to child care funding?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question. As I mentioned, if I wanted any brownie points in the process, I think the Premier would have gotten a daycare centre in his constituency, which he hasn't. It was an absolute fair process and as I said, I have invited anyone here that wants to know that process to sit down with staff because there are stringent criteria that we need to follow. We need to know that the daycare centre applying for the expansion funds has the ability to sustain the new daycare centre or the centre that they are expanding. We have to know that they have the board of directors and volunteers who are able to sustain it over the years. There are many, many varieties of criteria that have to be met and it's done on a fair basis. We have nothing to hide, so ask the questions, meet with the staff. We have nothing to hide. Thank you.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services mentioned that the Premier didn't get one in his riding. Well, the Deputy Premier didn't get one in his riding either, but of course, he's from Cape Breton. But anybody that will suggest that nine out of 12 in NDP ridings is a coincidence, well I'll leave that to your judgment and to the judgment of Nova Scotians.

[Page 1897]

Several months ago, Danny Ellis made an application to the Department of Community Services for his daycare, Explore & Discover, in Cape Breton. He was asking for $48,000 to expand his daycare for 16 additional children and was refused. The Department of Community Services said that no more funding was available. Based on yesterday's $6 million announcement, this can't be the real reason. My question to the minister is, can you explain why Mr. Ellis was denied funding to expand his daycare?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, once again, thank you for the question. I cannot speak on the individual cases, however, as I said there are criteria we go through. This is the third round of funding, so there has been daycare over the first and second round of expansion funding in Cape Breton that has received that funding. This is the third and the last part of the funding process and as I said, each and every application, there are many things that we have to review. So, if the honourable member wants to sit with staff, we can go over that particular application and identify to him where some of the issues might have been presented.

The other aspect is we have other funding within Community Services for daycare centres that can be accessed. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cumberland South.

PREM. - PC GOV'T.: COMMITMENTS - HONOUR

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, today my question will be for the Premier. I would hope that the Premier would realize, a lot of questions are being asked today that go to the very heart and credibility of this government. I would hope the Premier would be concerned about that. During the last election, the Premier, on many occasions, said that he would honour commitments made by the previous government. I would ask him today if he would tell this House what criteria he was using to determine whether he will honour that commitment he made during the campaign?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, obviously you take the commitments we make over the course of an election campaign very, very seriously. When we arrived in our offices we found, for example, that there were commitments that were made by various members of the government over the course of the campaign that hadn't gone through any process whatsoever, hadn't gone through the Executive Council. These were, of course, commitments that we were largely unaware of that were being made by the former government. So of course every one of those have to be assessed on the basis of merit, in order to determine (a) whether or not they amounted to an actual commitment made by the government rather than by an individual member, and (b) whether or not they were sustainable in the context of the budget, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you I'm going to table another document. I know the Premier has seen this many times. The headline says, "Dexter says he'd keep Tory

[Page 1898]

promises." Now he never said some or maybe - he said he would keep the promises. I am going to quote what he said, "We need to know just exactly what it is that the government has committed to those communities . . . If they have made a commitment to a community, then we will honour it."

Mr. Speaker, I want to know from the Premier today, will he keep that commitment he made or was that just an election promise to become Premier of this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, where there were commitments made on behalf of the government of the province, we're doing our best to honour all of those commitments. There were occasions where the commitments that were made were made without the allocations of the budgets by the former government. You have to really ask the question, if you make a commitment and you don't allow for it in the budget, how serious the commitment actually was, but because we take it seriously, in each one of those cases we have gone back to the budgeting process to see if they are sustainable.

Above and beyond that, Mr. Speaker, I think there is an obligation to make sure that what we do in relation to each one of these is actually the right thing for the province and the right thing for the community. Of course we are assessing those as well.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I know the people in my own area have heard what the Premier said during the campaign, and they're expecting him to keep his word. The Premier stated that the position of his government was to be open, transparent, and accountable. What we've witnessed since June is secrecy and uncertainty when it comes to these commitments.

Mr. Speaker, my question again through you is to the Premier. Would the Premier table the commitments that the previous government made and the ones that he is going to follow through on so that Nova Scotians will understand where this NDP Government stands, but more importantly, that they can count on the Premier of this province keeping his word?

THE PREMIER: I think it would really be more appropriate if they would actually table the commitments they made, because quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, there are still some that we're not even aware of. You know, all of the commitments (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: All of the commitments that were made over the course of the campaign, we are working on, Mr. Speaker. I can tell the member for Cumberland South - he should understand because he was a minister - that everything that we do with respect to the various aspects of program delivery or capital delivery has to be accounted for within the budget. So over the next number of budgets, where we are able to accommodate those

[Page 1899]

particular projects that make sense, of course we're going to do that, and we're going to do our best to make sure that they are the best decisions for the individual communities.

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

HEALTH - BOARDING/TRANSPORT./OSTOMY PROG.:

BUDGET (2010-11) - INCREASES CONFIRM

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This morning there was a breakfast by the Canadian Cancer Society - I believe the minister was at that breakfast - and they pointed out there that once again the Boarding, Transportation and Ostomy program has not been increased for the last 15 years. The last increase was under the Liberal Government then. My question to the minister is, will an increase in the income threshold be actively considered in next year's budget deliberations? Yes or no?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you, yes.

MS. WHALEN: Well, I think that's very good, Mr. Speaker. I condensed my question and we had a good condensed answer, because I know time is of the essence. I know that in the past the NDP have answered to the Cancer Society that, in fact, they did support that and that they had called on the Progressive Conservative Government to do the same, so I'm glad to hear that the minister has committed today.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order. The time for Oral Question Period has expired.

[4:30 p.m.]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHERS THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 568.

Res. No. 568, re Health - Digby Neck: Nurse Practitioner - Min. Recruit - notice given Oct. 13/09 - (Hon. C. d' Entremont)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to stand today and speak for a few moments in regard to primary health care services, and more

[Page 1900]

particularly primary health care services in the Digby area, and more specifically in Long and Brier Islands.

Mr. Speaker, a number of questions were fielded by the Minister of Health during Question Period. There is an opportunity today to sit with residents of Long and Brier Islands who are in the gallery today to discuss an issue which is very pressing for them, which is the fact that they no longer have a consistent primary care service on Long and Brier Islands. It was in 2002, I believe, when the first nurse practitioner came to the islands, put in place by our government at the time, because we were having tremendous difficulty in getting doctors to locate in that area. A novel idea came up which was to find nurse practitioners and put them taking care of the health of the residents of Long and Brier Islands.

Mr. Speaker, subsequently, it was continually difficult to keep nurse practitioners in practice in that area. I believe over the last number of years, I think this is the six or seventh nurse practitioner that we would have on Long and Brier Islands. What we're finding, though, is that this individual whom they have had over the last year, nurse Karen Snider, came from away, fell in love with the area, subsequently bought property, built a house and has committed to long-term staying in Long and Brier Islands, which is phenomenal. This is unheard of. You wouldn't expect something so great to have happened to the residents.

Mr. Speaker, from what I have been hearing from chatting with the residents, also with the member for Digby-Annapolis, is that the nurse practitioner was well loved, was well liked, not only as a nurse practitioner, but also the fact that she is a very nice person and has, of course, the health of her community in mind.

Now, a number of weeks ago something came to a screeching halt here. I don't know the full details around why this nurse practitioner was let go, but the nurse practitioner was let go. We're hearing things like, she spoke out. She was supporting the health care of her area, and her masters, the district health authority, didn't like what she was saying.

Now, that's hearsay, and I'm not positive and I'm sure the members in the gallery today can attest to what they're hearing with the district health authority and with the nurse practitioner. But the fact that we have today is there is a bridge service right now in Long and Brier Islands. The minister spoke to a nurse practitioner coming in, I think two days one week and three days the next, to try to serve that area.

Mr. Speaker, the residents of Long and Brier Islands of course have become accustomed to a 24-hour service, not 24 hours, but a seven-day week, six-day week, five-day week service from the nurse practitioner. Of course, the beauty of a nurse practitioner is not only that she has office hours, quite to the contrary, is that nurse practitioners do roll up their sleeves, get into the community, make site visits to those individuals who are unable to do so. What happens is that a nurse practitioner becomes more attuned to the health care needs of an individual. It's more than, maybe, let's say a family doctor. The family doctor comes

[Page 1901]

in, spends the 10 minutes with you, and goes on with the rest of the day. A nurse practitioner - I know initial visits with nurse practitioners are an hour or more. They don't just get to know one ailment, if you have a sore hip or you have a blood pressure issue. They talk about the full health care needs, the full health care picture of that individual.

I've talked about this before when I was minister and now in Opposition - I'm sure when the residents of Long and Brier Islands were first proposed with the idea of a nurse practitioner, they weren't too sure about it, but I think they were quickly sold when they saw the work of a nurse practitioner. I'm sure if we said today, well, heck, we'll substitute that nurse practitioner with a full-time doctor, well, I don't know if they actually would even go with that because the service is so different and in my mind I think much more personable.

We go back to the issue at hand, which is for some reason, and one that I'm not privy to, I wasn't at the meeting with the district health authority and the department and the community the other day, I'm not privy to the information that the DHA has, the things that have happened with the vice-president of community or whatever is going on here, but we have, in what seems on the outside, a personality conflict. There seems to be no reason. If she's providing good health care, if there are no, necessarily, health grievances against her - I know the minister spoke to grievances as well during some of her answers - you sort of have to question, why was she let go?

In this province we do have a tremendous number of health practitioners. We are lucky to have probably the highest concentration of doctors per population of any other community, but at the same time, we're always looking at options and we can't possibly say, if you're providing good health care, if you're providing care to your residents, sorry we don't want you, so go somewhere else or move away. Quite honestly, that experiment was tried back in the 1990s when a lot of nurses were let go and they had to go to other provinces, other states in order to find work. We're only today starting to see some of those individuals coming back. I'm not pointing any fingers on that one.

This individual, again, bought land, built a house and wants to set up her life in Long and Brier Islands and I can say that that's a big move for someone, to take her from another province in Canada, to maybe bring her from an urban area to put her in Long and Brier Islands, which is an absolutely beautiful area but, even at the own admittance of the residents there, it's a very remote place to be.

I'm looking forward to the comments of the NDP to find out maybe a little more information on this. Maybe I don't know some of the things that have transpired in having this nurse practitioner let go. I know that the minister on a number of occasions now has said it's not her responsibility to involve herself in the day-to-day operations of the DHA and I stood on that side of the House and I said that on a number of occasions as well, but I can say that I also know the minister has a tremendous amount of power. If that minister wants a resolution to an issue, just like every other minister that sits in those front benches, they can

[Page 1902]

have that happen. They can say to the district health authority, listen, I really don't care what the internal politics here are, I really don't care what that is, I want to make sure that the residents of Long and Brier Islands are taken care of, so please resolve this now. Don't resolve this with a grievance to the union, don't do this with talking to the district health authority. Tell the district health authority to resolve the issue.

There were a number of occasions, different areas, that with that phone call, with the minister calling the chairman or having the deputy minister talk to the CEO that things can be resolved.

I know that the Premier is shaking his head and he's saying, no, you can't do that but (Interruptions) The member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island once again is dishing his own Premier. He's saying that the Premier wasn't listening and I've got to say that the honourable Premier was listening. He looked at me and he shook his head. He was hanging on every word to make sure that I would say the right thing. So again, the "Minister Emeritus" is dishing his Premier, so I don't know.

Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, there's a resolution here, there's a simple resolution for the people of Long and Brier Islands and all we can hope is that this government takes the leadership role and resolves it. This is a simple one. So all I can say is I thank the members for bringing this issue forward, the member for Digby-Annapolis, and I look forward to the comments from the NDP as they stand and speak to this issue.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to talk about this very important issue today. I want to thank the residents from Digby, and Long and Brier Islands who have made the long trip today to the Legislature here in Halifax. I know it shows how compassionate and how important this issue is, not only to, I think, the people of this province, but especially that area of the province, and how important this issue is to those residents. It's important that we recognize the work that they do to ensure that they continue to have the appropriate level of health care delivery in their communities.

I share their concerns over the availability of health services in the area of Long and Brier Islands and the Digby Neck area. I know that this has been an important issue for many years - the issue of ensuring that services are available in that area of the province. I've attended meetings many times, and actually walks and public forums that have been held in that community over the years in my role, previous to the past election, as Health Critic. I know how passionate the members of that community are about the importance of health care delivery and the lack of some of the services that they see in this remote and rural part of our province.

[Page 1903]

It's important for rural and remote communities to have the proper health care. Like Long and Brier Islands, most rural and remote communities in Nova Scotia have a larger proportion of retired and elderly people living in them. Over the past few decades younger people who grew up in these communities have often moved to larger centres to look for work with the intention of retiring back home, as they say, and many of them are doing this just now. I know many former residents of Long and Brier Islands and the Digby area have returned in their retirement and need the support of health care services there. They're attracted by the beauty, the ocean, and the peacefulness of quiet communities, and I know that's what draws many Nova Scotians back to our province, especially many Nova Scotians who have moved from rural communities into the larger urban areas like Halifax, that they're drawn back to those parts of our beautiful province.

Adding nurse practitioners to our team of health care professionals allows us to better meet the needs of the people in unique areas of the province such as Long and Brier Islands, Caledonia, and Pictou, who have seen nurse practitioners practise their scope of practice in those communities. A community-based, collaborative team approach is the key to the renewal of primary health care in Nova Scotia. Nurse practitioners are a key member of that team approach, and I have spoken many times in this House on how important the role of nurse practitioners is to the people of this province. I will continue to do that, and I know that my government and my Minister of Health recognize the importance of these individuals here in Nova Scotia and the role they play at addressing the lack of services, especially in rural communities here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, nurse practitioners' positions in a team of collaborative health care services is an important delivery model. It's something that our government recognizes, that we need to ensure that they continue to progress and increase the number of these collaborative practices around this province. I know that Digby over the last number of years had been struggling to ensure that these collaborative teams have all the necessary disciplined health care providers in them, like nurse practitioners and paramedics.

[4:45 p.m.]

Nurse practitioners are a permanent part of our health care teams and our health care system here in Nova Scotia. They help Nova Scotians receive easier and faster access to health care when the system that we had seen in the past has broken down. We know - and the former Minister of Health, the member for Argyle, just mentioned earlier - about the fact that when they first tried, or were first speaking about the collaborative approach and a collaborative practice, that Long and Brier Islands were going to have, that some residents were upset about the fact that they couldn't get a general practitioner or a physician for that area.

I know in reading the reports from the collaborative practice that we see with the paramedics and the nurse practitioner on Long and Brier Islands, that there is a high

[Page 1904]

satisfaction rate with the residents who have been served by these individuals, who have delivered this service to the communities there on Long and Brier Islands. I know you could ask any of them who are here today how important it is to ensure that collaborative team continues to serve those communities.

I know the report they did initially in the trial that we have on Long and Brier Islands, that the actual number of visits to the Digby emergency centre, or the surrounding emergency centres, had dropped. Here we have a collaborative approach to delivering health care, to meeting the needs of rural communities with a high satisfaction rate from the community members and the residents, but also a reduction in the need to go on further to receive care in the larger emergency rooms.

I believe that between 2002 and 2003, the first year of this trial, the reduction in business to the local emergency room dropped by 23 per cent, which is a great indication of how well this collaborative practice approach was received by the members in the community on Long and Brier Islands. I advocated that the government - at the time as Health Critic - needed to take this model and duplicate it throughout the province because I think it can address a lot of the concerns we see in rural communities.

Unfortunately, we're in the position today that we see that one of the nurse practitioners in the collaborative approach team practice on Long and Brier Islands was let go. The Department of Health doesn't get involved in personal matters because it's not appropriate. The Opposition has mentioned that the Minister of Health should personally intervene in this matter and I think it's important that we recognize that this government, and my government, appreciates and supports the collective bargaining agreement that is in place here in this province. We've stood up many times in this House to defend it and to ensure that it's healthy here in Nova Scotia. In this case, the matter between the employer and the employee is a case governed by a collective agreement between the NSNU and the district health authority; that's where it should be. It's important that we recognize that agreement is there.

In that agreement, under Section 12.14(c) of the agreement, it spells out the responsibilities of both parties with respect to the probationary or trial period arrangements, which the nurse practitioner, in this case, and the district health authority had between each other, including the conditions under which they can be terminated as well as the scope of the arbitration judgement of a grievance brought under Section 14 of the agreement.

I'm not sure but I would assume, and I hope, that the nurse practitioner will take the steps available to her under the terms of agreement that she had signed with the district health authority, and hopefully take those steps, because that's how the system's supposed to work. We support the collective bargaining process and we support the right of both parties under this agreement that they had signed in good faith.

[Page 1905]

Interfering at this time in a personal matter at the district health level is inappropriate as a matter of discipline and it sets a terrible precedent. We have tens of thousands of health care workers here in the province and if the minister was to get involved in every single one of those collective agreements and the terms that they have with either their district health authorities or the organizations that they work with, I don't believe it would serve the province to the best capacity that a Minister of Health should get involved.

The government is responsible for policy and funding, and certainly this government supports the nurse practitioner models. As I said earlier, they're an important key component to the delivery of health care here in Nova Scotia and we will continue as a government to support these individuals. I know that the minister is meeting with the residents who have come to the Legislature today and, hopefully, with her intervention, with talking with these individuals, both parties can come to an agreeable solution to this.

The Minister of Health is working hard to ensure that the disruption of service that we see currently happening in Long and Brier Islands, in the collaborative practice there, is minimal. The minister wants to see a resolve to this issue and I know that the Minister of Health and this government is committed to ensuring that Nova Scotians receive the health care they need in a timely manner in the communities where they live.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I have only 11 minutes to address this very important issue, so I've got a lot to say - let me put it that way.

I'm happy to hear the comments from the member from Sackville-Cobequid who is speaking, I gather, on behalf of the minister, but our resolution before us is calling on the minister to do something about this issue in Digby Neck and the Islands. The actual operative cause says: "Therefore be it resolved for the Minister of Health to intervene on behalf of residents of Digby Neck and ensure the residents have access to health care in their community by making the recruitment of a nurse practitioner a priority . . ." That one actually came from the Progressive Conservatives.

We want to see a reinstatement of the current nurse practitioner in that area. It has already been said that the nurse practitioner who was terminated at the end of her probation period, Karen Snider, is loved by that community. She served almost a full year there - she has made Digby her home, and she has a commitment to that area. She is a fully qualified nurse practitioner who has had a long and distinguished career in northern B.C., has worked in other areas as a nurse practitioner, and we were so fortunate to have her recruited to our province.

We've had six different nurse practitioners in that position since 2002. It is not easy to find somebody who is free to go and live in such a remote area, who will make it their

[Page 1906]

home and commit themselves to be there - and they have just hit the jackpot as far as they're concerned in having a nurse practitioner like Karen, whom they love and have adopted, really, into their islands. What we see in the meantime is that the security of having a nurse practitioner living among them, living in their area and committed to Digby Neck and the Islands has been destroyed. They really feel like they've had the rug pulled out from under them and that really government has interfered with something that was working well for the people of that area.

We talked today about a bill that's going to have consultation around emergency room closures. Well, what about consultation when there's an arbitrary decision to take the one most important medical service provider out of a community like Digby Neck and the Islands?

We know that when the nurse practitioner was first introduced to that area, it was a godsend. Although they've had a bit of a revolving door because even when they've had good people and they've gotten along well, there are so many reasons why they couldn't stay or didn't stay, I think what we find here is somebody who has made that commitment to actually invest in the community, build a home, make it her home and the people there were very excited to think that they had hit the jackpot. It is an absolute shock to them to see that today they're at a position where the government can hide behind bureaucratic talk about worker confidentiality, or employment/ employee relations, those kind of things, and really in the meantime ducking ministerial responsibility because, ultimately, the Minister of Health is responsible for providing health care to Nova Scotians.

Digby Neck and the Islands cannot be considered just any area. I know the previous member from the NDP Government spoke about, well, we can't interfere everywhere and it wouldn't be the right precedent to set. But this is the first place that we piloted nurse practitioners in the province, and there's a reason for that - it is remote and it is difficult to access. People who live there have a hard time taking two ferries to get to the emergency room, which is apt to be closed anyway, as we know.

The Digby area has been plagued by emergency room closures, and the people who live on Digby Neck and the Islands don't have easy access to any other health care, so the nurse practitioner program - and I know the previous member spoke about its attributes and why it is strong, and why we want to encourage more and more nurse practitioners to come to our province. Well, that's the case, this is the test area. This is the area we felt was most pressing when nurse practitioners were first introduced to the province. So don't tell me that it is equating to any other situation in the province or any other employment situation, because we have a remote community that feels they have been - they have really had the government turn its back on them. I think that's very important as we go forward, that we're here today to reflect the issues and also the emotions of people when we have let them down. I think the government needs to know that, that there is ultimately somebody accountable.

[Page 1907]

Today, Mr. Speaker, I had a chance to stop, and perhaps other members did as well, and speak to some of the people who travelled from Digby Neck and the Islands today to bring their issue to the floor of the Legislature and to speak to us individually. The word "accountability" was what was mentioned to me in my brief chat to the people outside. They want the government to be accountable and to listen to them.

I know that one of my experiences as an MLA has been that very often the best solutions come from the people who live in an area or the people who are actually closest to the problem. In this instance, the people of Digby Neck and the Islands have presented a solution to the minister and to the DHA - they've asked to take back control of the funds that are dedicated to that nurse practitioner. They will manage it, they will be the employers.

There is a health advisory group in the area, made up of citizens. They're willing to take that responsibility on and have a direct relationship with the nurse practitioner in order to circumvent the bureaucracy that they're stuck in. That's really what has happened - for whatever reason, during the probationary period the nurse practitioner was not extended. Her contract was stopped. I believe it was bureaucratic bungling. I think that something went wrong or somebody's nose was out of joint.

We say we don't know exactly what happened or who said what or whether she stepped on somebody's toes in the hierarchy, but we do know that there is a newsletter in the area, and that she was quoted or wrote in the newsletter that she needed more support. She needed administrative support so she could see more patients. That was actually written in that newsletter, and we know that the member for Digby-Annapolis asked a question on that issue here in the House prior to us learning that she had lost her job. It makes it very easy to connect the dots, and maybe erroneously, but how can we do otherwise if we're not given other information?

Mr. Speaker, we know that the medical community - and these are collaborative practices, so any nurse practitioner works with a physician and works under supervision that way. We know that there is absolutely no question that - nobody has any reservation about saying that she was a very competent and qualified nurse practitioner. We have heard that physicians have said they would work with her again anytime, so we know it's not about anything to do with the scope of practice or inappropriate practice. I have no question about that.

What we want to know is, what went wrong, and why can't the minister turn this back over to the community, listen to the community's response - and their outcry, quite frankly? There's a reason why about 70 people traveled two and a half, three hours - in fact, if you take the ones coming from the island, it is probably three and a half hours, taking two ferries and travelling all that way to Halifax. As I said, I'd be hard-pressed to find an issue that would bring 70 people from Clayton Park to the doorstep of this House. It's a big issue to mobilize people and get them to travel here to see us. They came in large numbers from

[Page 1908]

a remotely-populated area to tell us how important this service is, how important this individual is.

The minister has offered to - yes, that there would be another person hired and they are out searching for another person and I actually went online and saw that - I think it was October 21st, there was a job posting made for Digby. But let's remember, it takes months to recruit somebody. Finding somebody like Karen in the first place was a coup. It was lauded as a wonderful success. There are not a lot of nurse practitioners out there and how do you think they're going to feel when they read about what's happened to this nurse practitioner? How quickly do you think somebody would jump into that situation not knowing what went wrong with the person who had already committed to be there? It now has a cloud over it, that position is going to be even more difficult to fill. Really, the people in the area have their own solution.

[5:00 p.m.]

So I have a hard time not speaking out, even in Question Period, Mr. Speaker, when the minister said that we have a job application available and the job is open and it is being advertised, because I know it will take months, if not longer, to fill that position. In the meantime, the people of Digby Neck and the Islands are going to get part-time service, and, as we heard today, there are individuals with serious illnesses who aren't going to get the care they've been used to because they're no longer going to have a full-time nurse practitioner in their community until the new recruitment - which might be successful.

Again, I'm not optimistic, that's what I'm saying. They can't understand why they have a person with impeccable credentials living among them who has had to go home, and sit at home, and not be able to help them anymore because of some bureaucratic decision that was made further up the line.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Digby-Annapolis has been very vocal here in the House speaking out for the constituents and I think it is important that we mention that over the years he has been a huge supporter of nurse practitioners as well. I think for the government to sit back and see what was always their signature example of where nurse practitioners have worked well, that it has been the first place where we tried it, a pilot project that was lauded and studied by other countries, even, to say that it was so good, how can the government sit back and watch that collapse in chaos, with an extremely unhappy community, with the waste of somebody that we have recruited from afar to come here to Nova Scotia?

Mr. Speaker, I received an e-mail, maybe other members did, from somebody who actually encouraged that nurse practitioner to come here. She said she was embarrassed that she had told that woman what a great opportunity it was and how wonderful Nova Scotia was to come to. Somehow or another that hasn't worked out. She wrote in anger to say, I'm

[Page 1909]

embarrassed that I encouraged this woman to put everything on the line and uproot herself and come here to Nova Scotia, because look what has happened. We don't have an adequate explanation of why and neither does the community. It really does lie at the foot of the Health Minister and the foot of this government.

Mr. Speaker, we would like to see the minister listen to the community, look for that home-grown solution, find a way out of this, because ultimately the responsibility does rest with government and there has to be somebody accountable.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants West.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to have a few minutes this evening to speak to this resolution. There is so much that could be covered, I know that 11 minutes will go by fairly quickly, but I'll take a few minutes anyway and speak to it. We know a little bit about this. I have a nurse practitioner who works in my area, in Hantsport, and the vital role that Dawn Lowe plays there has been just incredible.

The people in Hantsport, I know at the time, we were trying to get a position put in place with Dr. Iona Wile and it took quite a while to get it in place, but we finally did, fortunately, get things working. The people who supported this, locally, who knew Dawn and knew of the position and knew the qualifications, the scope of practice, and knew what could be accomplished by having that extra pair of hands, a very qualified pair of hands, by way of a nurse practitioner, in an office. It makes a tremendous difference, Mr. Speaker.

We have to consider this position in Long and Brier Islands and Digby Neck, a beautiful part of this country, a beautiful part of this province, but a very difficult one - a lot of people just don't want to go and work in a remote area. I can appreciate that very much as well. We have students, new doctors who are coming out who want to work in the urban areas, who want to have all of the toys - for the lack of a better word - the most modern technology and equipment to work with, and that's a wonderful thing as well. But when we have somebody like this fine lady who was down here practising on the Islands, serving the people well in Digby Neck, getting to know them, getting to know their families, getting to know their medical needs, Mr. Speaker, and then, all of a sudden, it's over.

So, what do we have to offer? Well, first of all, we have part-time health care. That's just not good enough. We saw people come to this Legislature today, and they heard some talk on this, but what answers did they get? I don't think they took a whole lot. I don't think they left with great hope.

I can certainly understand the frustration. I know that I live in rural Nova Scotia, we've been very fortunate not to have hospital closures. However, we have undergone the issue of family physicians which is very, very difficult in part of this province. So when we have good folks like nurse practitioners who have taken the extra effort - they've gone to

[Page 1910]

school, they've acquired this great scope of practice to assist physicians and work on their own in certain cases. This cannot be overlooked. We have to be seeking out more of these people, because other provinces in this country are taking the time and they're looking.

I spoke about Dawn Lowe in Hantsport, who is working with Dr. Wile. She was on the verge of leaving us; fortunately we were able to keep her. The people were upset - I got e-mails, I got phone calls of support, and I can see why we had 70 people today. The former speaker talked about how we could ever get 70 people to come all the way from the Islands. It means a lot to these people, it means a lot. We have to keep that in mind. The minister spoke today about not getting involved, not getting involved. She has to be involved - she's the one with all of the power. She and the Premier of this province have all the power in the Cabinet to make this happen.

What bothers me a little bit about this is how it was all done. This nurse practitioner, who obviously has no problem with the scope of practice, who had no issues with patients, from what we understand, great health care provider, available to the people all the time, but yet, in a free country, in a free province like this, she is unable to speak her piece. There is something wrong with that philosophy.

Now, I don't understand. I know the former Opposition, the new government in this province, talk about a better deal for today's families. I can't see it. How is this a better deal for today's families? We're not fixing problems, we're adding to the problems by part-time health care, a couple of days one week, a couple of days the next. We're adding to the problem by even getting involved in this, by not allowing people to have their say in this province. How is that helpful? It's not helpful. We need people on the Islands - doctors, we need nurse practitioners. We need them everywhere in this province, not just in the far remote areas; we need them all over the province. These are a valuable resource that we've not really delved into, I don't think, personally, as much as we could. I know that the scope of practice took a long time to get in place. There were a few trials that went on that we've seen. It's been very successful.

We need to continue to work somehow to resolve these issues of no family physicians. The nurse practitioner who wants to go out and live, buy a home, maybe raise a family sometime in rural Nova Scotia - that's important to the people on the Islands and Digby Neck and all over Nova Scotia, and I'm certain all over this country, because as I said, we're not the only province who is seeking out these positions, they're looking and recruiting. What are we doing? Are we recruiting? If we are, we'd like to see some results.

There's no question, we'd love to have results, again, not just for the islands. The islands are important but, again, there are lots of places in Nova Scotia. I know in Cape Breton Island, there have been issues with ER closures. We've seen it here in Halifax, we've seen it in various parts, we've seen it in the South Shore. Again, we have not seen it in Windsor, and we've been very fortunate in the Hants community only because we have two

[Page 1911]

or three physicians who are committed, who have been there for 25, 30, 35 years, who say they will work around the clock if they have to to keep it open. That's the kind of commitment we had from this lady in Digby Neck, but yet not good enough. Because she speaks out, we say, sorry, you can't work here anymore, and we have to fill it with a part-time position. That's not good enough.

Today these people came - 70 people from three hours away, three and a half hours to get here and took away nothing, from what we could tell as far as the questions and answers went today. There weren't a lot of answers, as is traditional in this House, I guess - there are not a lot of answers. Lots and lots of good questions by members on this side. I heard today a lot of speeches from the other side - no answers in it, a lot of speeches.

Those people in the gallery today, those 70 people that drove three, three and a half hours weren't looking for speeches. They were looking for answers. They were looking for comfort, that's what they were looking for. They wanted to know how, when those other three and four and five days a week, when there's nobody there, who is going to look after our medical needs. Here we are, they say, and I guess it's true, we're seeing people that are sick. It's the flu season, whether it's the H1N1 or the regular flu, we're upon that.

What are the good folks in Digby Neck going to do, Long and Brier Islands, when they get sick? Are they going to have to wait and catch a ferry, hope to go over to the Digby General Hospital? Hopefully there will be a physician there - maybe, we're hopeful. We know that continuous problem that's existed for some time and we're working on that. What are we going to do? What are these people going to do? Where is the comfort for them? There is no comfort, just like there were no answers - speeches, and the speeches weren't even all that comforting today. There was nothing in it, nothing. Well, we'll talk to them but we're not going to tell them anything, at least that's what we took from that. There were no answers.

The right answer was to go back out and hire this person full time, put her in place, a person who knows the families, knows their issues, knows all their medical concerns, knows how to look after them. We need to go out and we need to find more. We need to find physicians. We keep hearing about a recruitment drive - doctors, no doctors; ER closures.

There was a resolution I heard on this side of the House that prior to June 9th all the answers were over here. So the people of Nova Scotia, obviously, they believed that all the answers were with the NDP, now the government. They did, they believed that in my area, fortunately not quite to the degree that they did in some of the others. (Interruptions) No, no.

Let's clarify, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't even close. It wasn't close at all. As a matter of fact it was far behind in my area fortunately but I can tell you they did believe in this province that they had the answers to the health care problems, there were people. They had the answers for the nurse practitioners. They had the answers for the doctor recruitment. They

[Page 1912]

had the answers for everything, for all the health care, for the ER closures and what did we do (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, that's okay, they can heckle all they want, we're used to that, and the people know they don't have the answers. They're not going to have the answers because if the fix was that easy, it would have been done. (Interruptions) It's horrible when it's on your own side. It makes it even worse. The members on the other side (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Hants West has the floor.

MR. PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, we're trying to get back on track here. Just to wrap this up, the good people of Digby, Long and Brier Islands, and all of Nova Scotia deserve good health care. They deserve good nurse practitioners. We had one, not part-time health care, full-time health care. The opportunity is there for full-time health care but we don't allow - or not we, sorry, I'm going to correct that. The Government of Nova Scotia today does not allow the people of Nova Scotia, obviously, and the people that they employ to have a say. Now, I don't know why that would be. Speak out and you're fired. That's the perception because there did not appear to be anything wrong with her health care practice, none whatsoever; speak out and you're fired.

I'm certain that all the public servants today who may not be in a union and protected by a collective agreement are probably somewhat worrisome. They're probably worrying about what are we going to say now, what will I be fired for, maybe I had better just be quiet and do my job and go home. Don't have an opinion, that's not fair. That's not what the NDP want me to have. They want me just to do what they say and nothing more. Don't offer any input; it might be good but don't offer any because it's not important, obviously, it's not important to the government because they very quickly made a decision. Goodbye, nurse practitioner, you spoke out, you shouldn't have done that.

Did you give a second thought, though, to the people on the islands? It's not funny. Did you give a second thought to the people on the islands? I don't think so, it was done rather quickly and if there was a second thought, maybe there should have been a third, Mr. Speaker. The people of Digby Neck, Long and Brier Islands, who came down here today, those 70 and everybody out there, deserve quality first-class health care like the nurse practitioner they had in place and we would urge them to reconsider that and put her back in place. Let her do the job that she can do for the good people of Digby and the Islands. Thank you for the opportunity to speak this afternoon.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 695.

[Page 1913]

Res. No. 695, re NDP Gov't: Deficit Budget (2009-10) - Denounce - notice given Oct. 20/09 - (Hon. K. Casey)

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place tonight to speak to Resolution No. 695. I will not read the full resolution but I do want to read the "Therefore be it resolved" which is the essence of this:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House denounce the actions of the NDP Government in creating a massive deficit for blatant political purposes and urge others to join the efforts of the Progressive Conservative Party in not supporting the illegal 2009-10 budget."

I think the operative words, Mr. Speaker, in that particular resolution are artificial deficit and "blatant political purposes". During the campaign we heard a Party that was campaigning on fairness, better deals for families, living within their means, and also being prepared to honour all commitments that were made by the previous government and also commitments that they had made during the campaign.

[5:15 p.m.]

We've heard in this House as recently as today that they're not sure, and so Nova Scotians are not sure, if all of those commitments will be kept, when they will be kept, and the degree to which they will be kept. One of the things that is most disturbing for those of us who were part of a government that showed good fiscal planning and who, under the leadership of former Premier John Hamm, were able to introduce for seven consecutive years a balanced budget. That was a legacy that we, as Progressive Conservatives, can be very proud of. It was a legacy that began with former Premier John Hamm, and it's very troubling for Nova Scotians to believe that all of that work that had been done during those seven years of balanced budgets would be lost.

There was a real feeling of anxiety, knowing that when this government presented their budget, which they tried to portray as ours, and there's nothing like it at all - they presented that, and the first thing Nova Scotians were looking at is, where did the deficit come from? Again, one of the operative words here is "blatant political purposes" and this is exactly what has happened. In order to create something that would allow this government to spend freely, without any caution, without any fiscal restraint, all they had to do was simply mount up more and more and more so they could create this huge deficit - which is not one that they inherited, it's one they've created. Nova Scotians are now saying, what has happened to this government that was supposed to be able to "live within their means"?

[Page 1914]

One of the things, obviously, that the government did right away was to commission an audit. The staff in the Department of Finance have and always have had the numbers that would talk about revenue and expenses. But this government felt that they needed to hide behind something, so they went out and they commissioned an audit. They spent $100,000 to find out exactly what was already known within the department.

When that audit was presented, there certainly were a lot of suggestions that now, with this new set of numbers, they were still going to be able to present a balanced budget next year. Well, I think we heard today comments that, well, that would be something they would try for. Nova Scotians are sick and tired of hearing a promise that's not been kept, and in the last four months there is a whole list of commitments and promises that have not been met.

One of the biggest fears that Nova Scotians have - they know that the legislation has been changed, they know that legislation will allow for deficit budgeting. They know that the first charge against the next year will not be the deficit, so there's no control, there's absolutely nothing to help Nova Scotians understand or appreciate the fact that this huge deficit will not continue to grow.

We talked about it being artificial. One of the greatest ways to create that artificial deficit was to do what they considered was a favour to universities, and that was to prepay the university assistance. Prepaying university is one of the things you can do when you have a surplus. But this government created a huge deficit in order to prepay something that did not need to be paid and did not need and will not be, as you know now with the new legislation, will not be the first charge against next year.

Nova Scotians are saying, what is happening? Who is going to pay for this in the long run? Is it going to be our children? Is it going to be our grandchildren? There's a real fear that that deficit will be seen as the dumping ground and they can do whatever they want and charge whatever they want and put it into this deficit and allow that to grow. Nova Scotians are smarter than that, and they will not be misled. They know that that deficit, if it continues to grow, will be on the backs of their children. It will be increased taxes, it will be cutting of programs, it will be whatever is necessary in order to allow this government to do their careless, reckless spending.

If you want to look, for example, at some of the programs that we had in place and some of the programs that this government indicated they would continue to support, the dollars are not there, and yet they claim to be making good fiscal decisions. For example, in a time of decreasing revenue, and I think everybody acknowledges that the revenue stream in this province is decreasing and so you have to make some tough decisions, is that the time to take an additional $66 million for land purchase?

Nobody will question, Mr. Speaker, the importance of land purchases in this province, but is that the right decision to be making at a time when we do not have the

[Page 1915]

financial means to put that money into land purchases? Look at the programs that are being cut; look at the Rink Revitalization Program - a small, $2 million which did so much for 74 rinks and arenas in this province, but they could not find $2 million, yet they could spend and they could build a sky-high deficit, but 74 rinks and arenas in this province are paying a price because nobody, nobody, in that government cared about rural Nova Scotia.

I have to tell you that some of those rinks and arenas were not only in rural Nova Scotia, so it extends to 74 communities all across this province. When you have families who are going to the rinks now and they are seeing that the registration for their kids to enter into a minor hockey program for this winter, that those registration fees have increased, they know exactly why they've increased, they know exactly what government did that and they know exactly that $2 million would have prevented that. But this government, claiming to make wise, prudent decisions, fails to recognize the importance of those programs for the kids in our communities.

Some families may not be able to pay the additional fees, may not be able to handle the increase in fees for minor hockey, so what are those kids going to do? Those are the kids who we want to be constructively involved and actively working through their spare time in a sports program - no better place to learn some of the best lessons in life than on a team with a good coach. But they may be denied that because they have not had the opportunity to go to those rinks because they cannot afford to pay the registration, and the reason they can't afford it is because the rinks are struggling - they don't have very much money and any money that they have has to go for operating expenses.

What the $2 million Rink Revitalization Program allowed those rinks to do was to deal with some of their minor capital expenses. Now the operating dollars have to do both - the operating dollars have to pay for the capital, and they have to pay for the operating. And you know, Mr. Speaker, who is paying for that. It is the families who have children, who want their children to be actively involved, who want them to have the skills and be part of a team - they are the people who will be paying a price for that.

We could go on about some of the other promises and some of the other expenses, but let's look at consulting. We hired a consultant to do the Deloitte report to get information that this government already had - staff in the Finance Department had that - then we hired a consultant to tell this government what they needed to do with emergency rooms. Well, every bit of information that this government needs on what to do with emergency rooms is available at the Department of Health; all the minister needs to do and all the staff needs to do is say, let's look at how we can resolve those ER closures.

I can tell you that I know the facts, I know the statistics, and I know that there are solutions. I know that when there's a will and somebody rolls up their sleeves and starts to work with the people who are involved, you can get a solution.

[Page 1916]

We know, Mr. Speaker, that Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital is one of the best examples that we can talk about because up to the time when there was an agreement worked out within existing human resources in the DHA 4, they experienced closures. Since there was a will, and using existing human resources to cover that, there have been no closures, yet the minister and the deputy went out to some of the other areas and that's what we have to live with - we have to live with the deficit budgeting of this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the previous government put the province on an unsustainable financial path and they have left it to this government to put the province back on a sustainable path. There is no better, no smarter, no more engaged, no more focused group of government MLAs than the ones who are around me today. Mr. Speaker, we're focused on the task at hand (Interruptions)

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

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, we have a very focused, a very engaged group, who are focused on the task at hand of putting this province back on a sustainable financial path. It is regrettable that the Third Party, when this province is in such need of a good, informed debate over the future fiscal path of the province, would put forward a resolution like this. It says something about condemning the government for introducing an illegal budget, some such nonsense as that. It is just not helpful with the challenges that are facing the province in the present day.

Mr. Speaker, let's make no mistake about it, the budget introduced by the Progressive Conservative Government on May 4th was a deficit budget, but it was a deficit budget in disguise. The fact that we're near Halloween may lead us to imagine what disguise it was in, but it was a deficit budget that the Progressive Conservative Government introduced and now they are purporting to condemn our government for simply presenting a more accurate picture than they were able to present on May 4th.

This government adopted substantially the same budget as the Progressive Conservatives introduced on May 4th but with a number of key differences. We introduced substantially the same budget, because having been elected one-quarter of the way through a fiscal year, Mr. Speaker, we felt that in the interests of certainty and stability, in the midst of a global recession, it was necessary to assure Nova Scotians that their government would continue to function smoothly. That is why we adopted substantially the same budget as the previous government, but there were some significant differences.

Let me just run through a few of them, or I may say, Mr. Speaker, remind the Progressive Conservative Party of a few of the differences that we adopted. The first one was

[Page 1917]

simply that our revenue dropped by $125 million between May 4th and September 24th. Included in that, for example, was a drop in natural gas royalties of $45 million - just between May 4th and September 24th. That factor, in and of itself, all alone would have driven the May 4th budget into deficit.

Now, Mr. Speaker, there's plenty that we can blame the previous government for, but that particular thing is not their fault, so to speak, because the forecast they had on May 4th was the best forecast they had available, based on the information they had at the time, but on September 24th we had more information, we had better information and that showed a drop in revenue of $125 million. That alone would have driven any government, of any colour, into deficit.

What good does it do to bring forward a resolution condemning an illegal deficit in those kinds of circumstances, Mr. Speaker? There's another factor, though, the drop in revenue wasn't the only factor. That government, that Party over there that is condemning us for an illegal deficit, had no provision for H1N1 in their budget. I would like the Leader of the Third Party to stand up - or their Finance Critic, or their Health Critic - I would like to ask them to stand up and explain to Nova Scotians why there was no money in the May 4th budget for H1N1? How can they explain that?

[5:30 p.m.]

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Why?

MR. STEELE: I've asked them that question here, I've asked the question in estimates, I'm asking it again tonight - how can that crowd condemn our government because we are providing for a pandemic? We are providing for the largest mass immunization program in our history, a program for which that crowd provided no money, and they are condemning us for running an illegal deficit. I would like one member to stand up there and tell this House, tell the people of the province, why there was no money in the budget for H1N1.

Mr. Speaker, another question, another factor in the deficit this year. That crowd over there - the Progressive Conservative Party, the Third Party - had provided for 0 per cent wage settlements in their budget. The Interim Leader of the Third Party stood up and said, she was going to go to the wall with the community college teachers. How is it that she was going to explain to them that, if they'd been the government, the settlement would have been less than was offered to them by the community college? In the May 4th budget, this supposedly surplus budget which was really a deficit budget in disguise, that crowd provided for wage settlements of zero.

I would like to ask the Interim Leader of the Third Party, I would like to ask their Finance Critic, I'd like to ask their Education Critic how can they stand up and condemn this

[Page 1918]

government for an illegal deficit when they provided 0 per cent for public sector wage settlements?

What about the other bills that they left for us to pay? The unbudgeted bills like the EnerGuide program? We walked into office and we were told that there was an $8 million bill that they had not provided for in their budget so, of course, we had to pay it. If you take all of these factors together, that is what drove the government into deficit. Why is it now that they have the nerve to stand up and condemn this government for an illegal deficit when the budget they presented on May 4th was so deficient?

Mr. Speaker, the other factor in the budget, of course, was the MOU payout. As I've said here, and as I've said elsewhere, of course we could have made a different choice there, although I have yet to hear anybody from either of the Opposition Parties explain why paying the amount next year and leaving zero this year, or doing it the other way around, why one is more virtuous than the other. It was that crowd who entered into a complex and unnecessarily confusing arrangement with the universities and then started moving money around in order to make it appear that the deficit or the surplus was a certain thing rather than another. What this government did is, we took that confusing and unnecessarily complex arrangement and we brought it to an end. (Applause)

So what good does it do to call this budget illegal? When we introduced the budget, the Provincial Finance Act says the government shall not introduce a deficit budget. What did they want us to do? Did they want us to deliver a pretend budget like they delivered on May 4th, or are we simply going to recognize the actual circumstances facing the province, the unsustainable path that we were on, and simply acknowledge what they should have acknowledged when they were in office. That is, in this year, in the midst of a global recession, this province is in a deficit.

This province has a long-term challenge. The previous government, over the 10 years they were in office, has inflicted on this province's finances a structural deficit and that goes beyond the cyclical deficit that goes with the economic cycle. They took falling revenues and matched it against climbing expenditures and then they have the nerve to stand up and condemn this government. We inherited a financial problem created by them.

Mr. Speaker, we need the Opposition Parties to engage in a really informed debate that will help work with my Party, my colleagues, and put this province back on a sustainable financial path. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 1919]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus to have a few minutes to discuss and add my voice to this debate on Resolution No. 695 which was brought forward today from the Progressive Conservative caucus. We've heard a lot from the current Minister of Finance, whom I know takes his job very seriously, and is very adept at defending his position most of the time, but he's in a very shaky position today.

Today, Mr. Speaker, he is in a very shaky position because only months ago he very eloquently attacked the government of the day for what he saw as inappropriate financial maneuvering. He saw the government in a tight spot and he attacked them for making changes that he felt were wrong. He felt it was wrong to redirect the offshore offset money that we received, to use it against regular operating, and to no longer put it toward the debt which was what it was originally intended for.

I will remind the members of the House - and I know many of you were here at the time when we signed an agreement with the federal government that brought over $800 million to our province, and as I have said before, there's a rather complicated accounting mechanism to recognize that money. We couldn't just recognize it the year it came, which would have been nice and handy, and just put it against the debt that year. We had to show that it was received over a period of years and that way each year we had to show that we had a surplus which represented that amount that was associated with that year and we had to put that surplus against the debt.

That was what we had legislation in place to do, and that is how we came to have a rather confusing definition of what a balanced budget truly was because we were obliged to hold that portion of the money that had been negotiated by John Hamm with the Liberal Government of Paul Martin and had been brought to our province to great fanfare - (Interruption) You may groan at the other side of the House, but that was brought in with great fanfare and it was an absolute bonus and an opportunity for this province. If we spend that money year by year on our operating deficits and just on keeping the doors open of our schools, hospitals and public buildings, then we've squandered an opportunity. We know that that's exceptional money that we can't expect to see again.

My point is you're now talking out of two sides of your mouth, really. It's absolutely two-faced to say a few months ago that was the wrong thing to do and suddenly to be quite happy to rewrite the legislation because of a Deloitte Touche report, which you knew the answer to, anyway. We all knew that it was unsustainable. That was not a revelation that came from a $100,000 report, but let me remind the members, because my time always goes faster than I think, that in fact that report by Deloitte Touche was commissioned by the government. It's not finished yet. We understand there's another piece to be coming. The Public Accounts Committee is hoping to have both parts of that report in so that we can get a better picture of the finances of the province.

[Page 1920]

One of the key recommendations in the first part of that report was, " . . . for recurring assistance payments . . . avoid one time or pre-payments." That's pretty clear. That's not confusing as our definition of a balanced budget was, that's really clear - don't make prepayments, avoid one time prepayments. This is exactly what it's referring to, it is what we have gone and done in our prepayment of a memorandum of understanding obligation to our universities in this province. We had a multi-year agreement with the universities, which they were delighted to get in place. I don't know whether it was too complicated, but they were delighted to have it in place because it gave them an assurance of what their funding would be from the provincial government, and they needed that for better control and better management, so we had put in place a system where the universities got that.

Now, for some reason - and really, the minister has heard me say this before - his explanation of how his approach to this is better or somehow justifiable is nonsense, and that's another one of the minister's favourite words. "Absurd" and "nonsense" are two of his favourite words. Well, this time they have to be used against the government, because it is nonsense to suggest that this is better management.

I've said it before - how is pre-paying an obligation that you don't have this year, how is pre-paying it a whole year early and having no payments to make next year good management? It's not, and anybody who took Finance 101 or Accounting 100 would tell you that's not the way you run a business. It's not the way you do that. (Interruptions) No, it's just the wrong thing to do and I think while I'm speaking here, I'll just continue on that track.

The Deloitte accountants and consultants were smart. They looked at this, they said don't pre-pay any obligations, you don't have the fiscal room to do it. The minister himself has said we had - in just about a four-month period, we were down $125 million less in revenue. Certainly we're in times that are tight, it's a recessionary time - that's why we want to know more about what the Deloitte report says about our fiscal health in this province. At the same time, if you knew your revenue was plummeting, why would you increase your expenditures by $300 million plus? That's just what we did - we gave that money to the universities a year early. Of course they've accepted it, but now there is no payment to be made next year and what's going to happen is - it's self-serving, and I'll say that again, it's self-serving for the Minister of Finance to tell us that that made good sense because, in fact, he was doing it to improve their fortunes next year.

By pre-paying that $353 million, he's able to blame others for his problems, number one, and now he can try harder next year because he'll have $350 million less that he has to pay next year. He can maybe squeeze out a balanced budget or less of a deficit, but anything he does better than the current $592 million deficit will look like an improvement, so he's put himself in a very comfortable position. In fact, the wiggle room he's given himself is $353 million. That's a pretty wide margin of error for next year, and he can still come out and say he's improved the situation, however marginally he's able to do that.

[Page 1921]

I see that as really being - you know, when you talk about creative accounting, I think that that just strains credibility, it really does. It concerns me that here in this province that we have a system in place that allows us to do that, and I think that it behooves members of the Opposition, whose job is to expose what we see as misleading information or inappropriate information - the onus is on us to say so, and we believe that this is smoke and mirrors and that it has been contrived by the NDP Government to make their cause and their position stronger next year.

I would really like to know how the minister would respond to that exact quote from the Deloitte report saying, " . . . for recurring assistance payments . . . avoid one time or pre-payments." There is no defense for that. He went against the $100,000 report recommendation and did not do as he was advised by those, you know, high-price consultants. No question about it.

We had to make changes to the Financial Measures Act this year in order to allow that money from the offshore offset to be put toward our operating costs, and I think there has been very little said about what a sad day it is to see that happen, because that is an opportunity that's wasted. We are not going to see very many - in fact, I see no other great, large, almost $1 billion brought to our province. That's an exceptional payment. We are not a well-off province, and we struggle with our debt, which this year now goes over $13 billion. In a little province of less than a million people, that is a huge burden to bear, and we should never forget it.

[5:45 p.m.]

I know we have pressing programs, I know we wanted to provide for the people of the province but we can't forget that it is going to require some tough decisions and that's not what we have seen the government do this year. We have not seen tough decisions. Even the decision to follow through on the cutting of the HST off electricity was an ill-timed decision.

That cost $15 million more out of our revenue pot this year, $30 million next year and let me remind the members of the House the beneficiaries of that, the beneficiaries are not low-income Nova Scotians, the beneficiaries are you and I in this Legislature, middle-income and higher-income Nova Scotians who have larger houses and heated garages and who knows if they have pools; all of those things using electricity that are additional to their needs. I always says it's in the South End (Interruption) Yes, that's where they have the hot tubs, in the South End. Anyway, all those things, Mr. Speaker, are wasteful and they're not good for the environment.

The environmental coalitions were loud and strong in saying that it was the wrong decision for the environment and I felt that strongly myself, as I campaigned on that and I believe it is very poorly timed here in the House to be introducing that kind of a cut for the

[Page 1922]

people who do not need it when we don't have enough money to put towards our Keep the Heat Program, we've had to cut that more than one-half, and we don't have the money to do many other things that are important in this province.

So we see some very poor ideas of financial management. We see a huge prepayment to the universities, which gives them enough wiggle room to drive a truck through next Spring, which is self-serving in the extreme, and we see a policy brought forth that was, again, something pandering to voters and not looking at sound public policy.

The members across from me know that that is true. They squirm as well about that public policy, Mr. Speaker. Anyway, I'm very pleased to have had a chance to join the debate today. Thank you.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise and join in the debate and to deal with (Interruptions) I'm glad to see the noise levels of the House have already gone up, because methinks the government dost protest too much because you know what, they can't justify the things that their government have already been doing to Nova Scotians and the pain they're inflicting through fiscal imprudence within the Province of Nova Scotia.

We heard the Minister of Finance get up and suggest that these members of the Legislature talk about what happened with the previous government. Well, I'm pleased to stand up and I heard the Minister of Finance talk about the Party in third place, which is the Progressive Conservatives, but I'll tell you something, Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to be part of a Progressive Conservative Party that's third place and principled than throwing their moral compass out the door like the government did when they went across the way. That's the reality because I can say we can stand on our pins with conviction and knowledge because we can say we presented to Nova Scotians eight consecutive balanced budgets. (Interruption) Not a massive, massive deficit.

I heard the Minister of Finance stand here this evening and say, well, you know, in fairness, projections have changed and it was $125 million between May and September, the same minister that was reckless to come forward and could have chosen to reduce the deficit by $125 million and what did he do? He threw 'er out. He threw 'er up there and he's throwing the debt out to Nova Scotians to put on the back of hard-working people. That is not a fair deal, it's a raw deal today's working families are experiencing as a result of the onslaught of the negative actions of New Democrats who have quickly forgotten what they said when they were in Opposition and now find themselves in government. The numbers speak for themselves.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, I heard the Minister of Agriculture, and Natural Resources saying, did you hear about the by-election? We heard about the by-election in Antigonish and in Inverness. He would know that the popular vote between those two

[Page 1923]

ridings, although there was one NDP seat and one Conservative seat was 6,010 votes for the Progressive Conservatives and 5,652 votes for the New Democrats and 4,935. So I know one thing, in eastern Nova Scotia, there are more common sense Nova Scotians than there are people who are going to vote for the raw deal that they're presenting to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Finance said, when we get up and look at our forecast and where we have been, well, I know that we have forecasted from last year a surplus, we projected lower, we came in higher, with $19 million when the books were closed. But since the books were closed, the NDP have thrown the deficit doors wide open on Nova Scotians. They have abandoned any of the principles they once talked about; they've abandoned their own advice that they go and spend $100,000 to throw that piece of paperwork out the door - they can't even coordinate with regard to the finances of this province.

I'll tell you, the member for Halifax Citadel-Sable Island, "Minister Emeritus" over there, the people of South End Halifax are wondering where that member was when he sat over here. I can tell you one thing, I guess the member is more representative of the outflow of what happens from the horses over on Sable Island than he is about staying true to his principles when they were on the Opposition side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, we've always had an open and transparent accountancy in the province. I know that under Progressive Conservative Government the debt to GDP ratio was coming down, a debt management plan was put in place, of which the NDP have totally abandoned since they've come in - it is gone. We've heard from these folks about structural deficit. What we, as Progressive Conservatives, did when we were in government is that we responded to the issues of the day, the expectations and the expenditures and the revenues and have always been able to balance it, not only with our priorities, but balance the books of Nova Scotia - something the NDP have proven themselves totally incompetent and inept at doing.

It's absurd for the Minister of Finance to stand here and ask for people to hold account with regard to the H1N1. Well, the Minister of Finance would know, he wanted to give us a history lesson of what happened between May 4th and September 24th, he would also know when it came to that issue, there was no national program, there was no national standard, there was no interprovincial discussions with regard to having a contingency. I can tell you one thing, as Progressive Conservatives we would deal with the issues of the day without throwing Nova Scotians into massive debt - and that means making the necessary and sometimes difficult choices.

All they've chosen is an easy backdoor to try and blame a previous government for a massive deficit. Nova Scotians have seen through them - and they're seeing red. Nova

[Page 1924]

Scotians are seeing red, and that's the red ink that is bleeding from every document and every proposal brought forward by the New Democrats.

Now, next Spring - then we see the ensuing budget. We've seen the preamble that the NDP promised they'd balance the budget, where in the Spring of last year when they said we had to balance the budget - and we did - they come in and say they're going to balance the budget - and they can't - and now the question that Nova Scotians have after $593 million of unnecessary deficit, how large a debt are they going to encumber Nova Scotians with next Spring?

I'll tell you, they may be the government, but they're going to have an Opposition that's here to hold them to account. I can tell you, every day that passes is one day shorter that they have to be in power and one day more that we will be marching back to power with the basis of what Nova Scotians now know.

I can tell you when I look at where the government is today, they said we mostly took in factors, well they made some terrible choices. It was absurd, nonsense, that the Minister of Finance put into looking at these matters. What I knew about being part of a Progressive Conservative Government was making sure you bring revenues and grow revenues in this province - bring the dollars in to deal with the priorities of Nova Scotians.

But since June 9th, the NDP, what have they done? Nothing, other than borrow money and burden Nova Scotians more. At a time when people talk about, and I heard the Minister of Finance say at a time of great uncertainty with the recession, what has the government done about growing the economy? We know the best way, as Progressive Conservatives, to deal with the social priorities is to grow the economy and grow benefits and drive them for Nova Scotia.

You know what? No one on that front bench, including the Minister of Economic and Rural Development, has been able to state one, one new initiative by the New Democrats that will help grow the economy of Nova Scotia - not one single thing. But yet they know how to spend, and spend they've been doing. They have not produced one initiative of their own to bring new dollars into this province, yet will want to blame a previous administration.

I can tell you I know what it's like to be part of bringing in an offshore accord dealing with the Crown share, dealing with Deep Panuke, doing things, working with the credit union for small business for a loans program. We hear nothing of that to support small business in the province; we hear nothing about what we're doing to help sustain and grow business opportunities. We see a government that is adrift and the "Good Ship Dexter" has hit rocks and it's going to go to solid bottom before the next four years is out.

[Page 1925]

Then we have the Minister of Finance, the $0.5 billion man, and there isn't going to be enough money to put him together after the next election is done, because the people of Nova Scotia have seen clearly through the hypocrisy that has been presented with the government now, when they were in Opposition, and have now come forward.

You know the Minister of Finance kept saying - he likes to use this term structural deficit, well we all know that that's pretty absurd. What he's really trying to mask is his own ineptness to be able to deal appropriately and properly with the finances of the Province of Nova Scotia.

I know he can sit there and laugh, but other Nova Scotians really aren't laughing, and it's no laughing matter what he is doing, and the debt burden he is putting on them and their grandchildren and future generations. Nova Scotians aren't laughing, they're out of work right now with the Department of Labour and Workforce Development that are doing practically nothing to support them.

Mr. Speaker, again as I say, we all know we've got a beef industry looking for a response and all we've heard from a Premier and a minister who says soon, very soon, but says we'll deal with it at the eleventh hour, but the problem is, what more damage will the NDP do to the industry of Nova Scotia that we're expecting to help derive revenues. Again we look, that's gone.

We're got a Minister of Energy and Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal who has not brought in new initiatives to this province. That minister knows he could be doing more, should be doing more, and he can do more, but it's about political will and choice. You know what? I actually believe that he will get things done and move things forward because I know he's a man of his word when he says it. I just wish his colleagues would support the good Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, support the Minister of Energy, because he understands what grassroot things are like.

That's right. Maybe, minister, you could talk to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and get him off his duff to do the things that you do for your people. I'll give you the compliment because you need to spread the joy of what it is to actually put some hard work in, Mr. Minister.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say hello to the Deputy Premier in the Chamber. You know he's working hard. Mr. Deputy Premier, can you get your colleagues to do something for Cape Breton because you know they have not been doing the things to support you as they should. The dollars that they are spending are not being derived with regard to the people of Cape Breton. Maybe the Deputy Premier and the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal can take some time to talk some sense, because they are common-sense people, with the people of Nova Scotia, get the Minister of Finance to recognize the

[Page 1926]

reality of what he's done to hurt Nova Scotians, not help them at the time of greatest need. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Progressive Conservative Party.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal would make an announcement we'll certainly give him time.

That's the end of the Opposition business for the day. Now I'll call upon the Government House Leader to give tomorrow's hours and the order of business.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, I tell you I'll try to get it right. The hours for tomorrow will be 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. After the daily routine, we will be calling Public Bills For Second Reading, Bill Nos. 14, 17, 20, 30 and 50. Also we'll be doing Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

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

The motion is carried.

The House will sit tomorrow between the hours of 2:00 p.m. and 10:00 p.m.

We have now arrived at the moment of interruption. The Adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier and was won by the honourable member for Queens. The resolution reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that with Remembrance Day upon us, we the House give heartfelt thanks to our veterans, both living and passed, for their sacrifices in the line of duty."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 1927]

REMEMBRANCE DAY: VETERANS - THANK

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's a great pleasure for me to rise in the House, and as you can see, I am not the honourable member for Queens but I am quite honoured to have the opportunity to speak tonight on a subject that is very near to my heart and we are talking about remembrance and Remembrance Day. When we think of our veterans, we think of several words - several words come to mind - and certainly honour, respect, thanks, and remembrance. These are words that come to us not just on November 11th but throughout the year.

[6:00 p.m.]

I am so honoured to be the chairman of the Veterans Affairs Committee of this House. We have a nine-member committee, nine members representing all three Parties, and that committee is a good committee of the House with excellent members, and I think we're going to do some very good work in that committee.

With November 11th coming up, we are on the verge of a remembrance that will look at communities from Cape North through to Yarmouth. We will have hundreds of ceremonies at cenotaphs throughout this province, but I want to just pick a few communities: one, Mount Uniacke; another, Upper Musquodoboit; another, Whitney Pier; and perhaps some in my own constituency. I want to just use those as examples. For 10 years as a municipal councillor in Hants County, I was the master of ceremonies at the cenotaph in Mount Uniacke. Something I learned in that community is that we are not just dealing with names on a monument. When you look at First World War vets, the First World War, those who served, we have to think for a moment, and vets are those who returned. A lot of service people never returned, never had the opportunity to be veterans.

I remember a name, and the member for Hants East and the member for Hants West would know this name: McClare. It's a name that straddles both of those constituencies. For 10 years the McClare name was read - a First World War vet - that name was read and it really meant nothing more than a name on the monument to the young folk who were there, for me as a Pictonian who was displaced, and so on. It was only family members who remembered the name because so many years had gone by. So it was a name on the monument to just about all those in attendance at that ceremony, but a grandniece wrote a book, and in that book - the book was composed of letters, letters from a young serviceman, 17 years old, 18 years old, 19 years old, a young man who served for three years overseas.

I was so touched by those letters because there were letters to Dad talking about the farmland, letters about what they could do when the farmland in England, the green fields and so on - very touching letters, letters to Mum about the prayers that she was saying and

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so many things that were happening at home, letters to sisters and to a little brother and so on. These were very, very touching letters. That book brought that person alive for me, and to have a letter written after Vimy Ridge, and to say to his mother, I survived Vimy Ridge. It is going to be remembered in history in Canada forever. Vimy Ridge will be remembered in Canada forever.

This was the insight of a 19-year-old at that time, and the fact that he had survived Vimy Ridge and had certainly taken a little bit of shrapnel and so on, but he was killed six days later and his body was never recovered. That was actually a coming alive in the history of that community for me.

Now, I have the pleasure to go to Upper Musquodoboit on the Sunday before Remembrance Day. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has asked me to go over and read the names at the cenotaph and I'll be reading 17 names there, including one from Afghanistan. We have to remember a span. Basically, growing up there was an elderly chap down the road from me in the Black Diamond in Westville, a coal-mining area, a guy down the road from me had actually served in the Boer War. You know, our remembrance is actually from the Boer War right through to Afghanistan. When we go to Stellarton on Remembrance Day, there will be a name on that cenotaph from Afghanistan as well, so we look at the spread of those names.

I talked to the [Deputy] Speaker just a little while ago when I found out at sort of the last minute that I was going to be speaking in this late night debate, he told me of a friend of his who survived, he did come back and he was a vet, but he just passed away very recently. He had been mentioned in so many dispatches over the years and was so highly decorated and the [Deputy] Speaker is so proud of this person, I would like to mention his name. His name is Steve Humeniuk and he served with the Cape Breton Highlanders, saw a tremendous amount of action, was a member of 128 Branch of the Royal Canadian Legion for years and years and lived his return life in Whitney Pier. He certainly was a person who we should think of on November 11th. (Interruption) He served with the member for Cape Breton North's grandfather.

Now, I don't have too much time, but Remembrance Day means a lot to me because I had two uncles who went overseas and one of them actually came back with a war bride and she just passed away a couple of weeks ago. She took my first cousin back to Pier 21 and she had some neat experiences at Pier 21, but I don't have time to get into those.

My father's kid brother, Clarrie MacKinnon, who I'm called after, was wounded twice in Italy, came back from the Netherlands on a hospital ship, spent most of his life thereafter in Camp Hill Hospital, and died at the age of 45. He'd actually gone overseas when he was very young so he did have some years afterwards. One came back with a war bride and a son and another came back with a body that was - he came back with a wounded mind, a wounded body and a wounded soul, and certainly was never right after his service, but

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certainly a guy who I am very proud to have the same name as and I remember his service to his country. I actually still have his service book. There are just so many people that I would like to talk about.

I'm going to be involved with five ceremonies, one in my home town of Westville, one in Thorburn. In Thorburn, my wife's father served overseas and her mother was a vet as well and just died recently in a vet home. Glencoe, a little community with five names on the cenotaph and three or four of them are Thompsons and there are only about a dozen people that live in Glencoe now. Eureka and Hopewell - I have five wreaths stacked in my office ready to be laid on Remembrance Day and we shall not forget.

MR. [DEPUTY] SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton South, whom I recognize, has been a long-time advocate of the Legion in Ashby, and it's my pleasure to recognize him on this topic tonight.

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Thanks very much for the commercial for my branch there, which is in your riding, by the way. Look, it's a pleasure to be here this evening to engage in a debate that all three Parties agree with, and all three Parties will have an opportunity to talk about something that's very near and dear to Nova Scotians, and, indeed, Canadians. I want to congratulate the member for Pictou East for his remarks today. I know that he's very sincere when he talks about the role of Remembrance Day and the role that we all must play in Remembrance Day to ensure that we don't forget the Canadian veterans who have passed on and those who are still with us.

Mr. Speaker, you mentioned me and the fact that I have a long association with the Legion but, you know, I've been going to Remembrance Day ceremonies since I was 10 years old. When I tell you the line of how many years now you'll know how old I am, but I don't mind that. That's 57 years ago. I started out with my father, who was a proud member of the 16th Independent Field Battery and the 6th Heavy Artillery back in those days, and with the militia in Cape Breton.

Following that I joined the Sea Cadets, much to the chagrin of my father, because he thought I was going to join the Army Cadets - and I didn't, I joined the Sea Cadets - but I attended ceremonies every November 11th with my fellow cadets in the Sea Cadets movement. Then after that I became a Sea Cadets officer and still attended them; then a Royal Canadian Naval officer, reserve officer. After that, of course, the Mayor of Sydney and on to the provincial government, a member of Cabinet, and then a member of the Opposition. All of those, there was one event every single year that I would not miss, and no matter what I was doing or no matter what role I was playing at the time, that was to go to the Remembrance Day ceremonies in Sydney.

Now, four branches - you mentioned Ashby Branch, Mr. Speaker - also Whitney Pier, Westmount, and Branch 12 downtown are all branches that I ensure that I attend every

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year, to say hello to the veterans who are still there and to pay homage at the official ceremony. In Sydney we have an agreement between the three branches in the city, the old City of Sydney, that each one of them does a year and then the other two go there for the official ceremonies, and then they have their own ceremonies at their own branches. That's a good thing, because it gives everybody a chance to go to one major event that day and then go back to their home branches, lay wreaths on behalf of the veterans from those branches, and in the case of the Ashby branch, I'm extremely proud to be a life member of that branch. I know each and every year that the wreaths get more and more as people come out to the ceremony at Ashby, present their wreaths on behalf of their loved ones, which names are read out, and I can tell you that there are some pretty interesting moments during that session if you watch the expressions on people's faces. The grandsons, the granddaughters, come forward with their mothers to pay homage to their grandfather, or perhaps in some cases their grandmother, who is also a veteran, and you know, it tells me that the young people are still coming to these events, and that's a good thing. They're still paying homage to their fathers, their grandfathers, and relatives.

I can tell you that each year I'm pleased that the number of people who are attending these events is growing, not diminishing. It seems that the message is getting out there that we should never forget the veterans who have come before and should continue to support the veterans who are still with us.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you would recognize some of the names I'm going to mention here - I'm sure the member for Pictou East would - some veterans that I see each year who are friends of mine that I would like to give them a mention here today: Stan the Man MacDougall, you know Stan, the hockey legend of Pictou County and in Cape Breton; also we have Jack Compton, and also Spike Spears, you know, from Branch 12. You remember Spike. Spike certainly was a major player in his Legion. Jack Youden from the West Side Legion - get my Jacks here, there's more than one Jack in Cape Breton, as you know - but Jack Youden.

One of my favourite veterans is Alec MacInnis MacInnis, who served with me on city council in Sydney and everybody knows Alec MacInnis. He still travels every year over to Europe to visit the place where he fought, the place that he holds so dear in his heart, and he makes that pilgrimage almost every year, back to Italy, back to Holland, all those places over there that he was involved with during the Second World War.

[6:15 p.m.]

He tells a story once in awhile about me. I'm fortunate enough to have a Canadian Forces Medal for - they call it in the Forces, 12 years of undetected crime - it's called a Canadian Forces Decoration and I'm proud to have that. But Alec MacInnis reminds people that my only contribution to the Second World War was to be born during it, and he's absolutely right, but it causes people to reflect that if I was only born during the Second

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World War, how many people are still out there who fought in the Second World War who I see each and every Remembrance Day? Really, they don't feel any older than I feel because they're still out there, they're still doing their thing, they're selling their poppies, they're doing their community work. Alec and Stan and those guys who I've mentioned, Spike and the others, are still around and have played major roles in our community.

The Remembrance Day ceremony itself is perhaps one of the days in our calendar each year that is most important to a lot of people and means so much to those who have had somebody in their family involved with the military in the past in one way or another, or who still have people involved in the military in Afghanistan today and other hot spots throughout the world. We must not forget. Just the other day, we had one of our warships sail for six months, I believe it was the Fredericton, gone for six months. Just imagine the families of the people who are on the Fredericton. They don't know what to expect when they're going out there for six months in these volatile days. We have to remember them when we're attending Remembrance Day services, you know, remember the people who are serving today as well.

The horror stories that are told about the Second World War and the First World War, the Korean Conflict, the Afghanistan and Bosnia incidents, and everything, all involving Canadians who have gone before, some of whom have lost their lives and others who have come back in various stages of repair, I guess, in terms of mental and physical well-being. We must never forget those particular veterans and those people who have ensured that we can stand here in our places and speak freely.

Just imagine where we would have been today if the Nazis had won the Second World War or the forces against freedom, not only the Nazis, but the other forces that were aligned with the Nazis during the Second World War. One wonders where we would be today if we didn't have the people over there to defend and indeed to help us conquer the enemy in those days to preserve freedom and all the things that we hold so dear here in Canada. Sometimes we take it for granted, a lot of the times we take it for granted.

But it is encouraging that young people are still coming out in large numbers to Remembrance Day ceremonies. You see that in Whitney Pier, in the Whitney Pier branch, and I see it in Whitney Pier branch and in the Ashby branch and I can tell you that I would never let Remembrance Day go by - and the member for Pictou East mentioned it - without going to all four branches in my area to see people whom I see sometimes once a year in those branches.

I can tell you, when I'm on the stage, giving remarks - and you and I have been there together, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker - I look out and I see the faces of veterans who aren't there anymore, but I still see their faces. They're there because they were friends of mine for years. I'd seen them over the years, coming in wheelchairs, coming with their friends helping them to sit in the chair at Remembrance Day and be recognized, and just be there for their other

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comrades. This year, again, I'll be there and I'll be giving my remarks and I'll be looking at those faces. They won't be sitting there anymore, but I'll be seeing their faces.

I'll just close by saying that we should never forget, and I salute the veterans, and I'm sure every member of this House does as well. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Yarmouth.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to stand in my place and speak on late debate this evening about a very important topic to our nation, to our province, and to our communities. I can say I've been in politics for 20-plus years and one of the highlights of my political career was when Premier Rodney MacDonald asked me to serve as Minister responsible for Military Relations, and that was a total honour for me to be the Minister responsible for Military Relations for our province.

In my term I served around the province. I was in Greenwood, I went to the walkathon that they had , the Greenwood Base with all the military personnel and people from the communities all across this province gathered there and we walked the same distance as it is from Nova Scotia to Afghanistan. I was honoured to be part of that, Mr. Speaker.

I can tell you that my caucus members, all of my caucus members, 100 per cent, support our men and women in uniform who serve our great country that we live in.

I also had the opportunity to visit the Family Resource Centres across our province, and how important that is - the loved ones serving overseas have no idea if they're going to come back the way they left or if they're going to be wounded or what have you, and those Family Resource Centres are very, very important to the men and women who are left behind and their loved ones. I can tell you our caucus fully supported the resource centres.

You know, Mr. Speaker, also as the minister I had one other great opportunity, I sat shoulder to shoulder with General Rick Hillier, and I think that was the highlight of my term as Minister responsible for Military Relations. I was in Bridgewater on a walkathon with General Hillier, I was at dinners with him, and it was a total honour for a little guy from Yarmouth to be sitting at the same table of such a high-prestige member of our society as General Rick Hillier. I salute him for what he has done for our country and for our nation.

Mr. Speaker, before I move on to our veterans, I am also proud that during my stint as minister we also developed our own pin here in Nova Scotia that I wear very, very proudly, our Support Our Troops, and it has the Nova Scotia flag on it. I am very, very proud of that pin, as I am of the pin for our great nation that we have.

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I can also tell you that we had a budget that we supported our men and women and our veterans. I can tell you that any person from any political Party who brought an issue to me for our Legions, I always did my utmost best to help that member out because our Legions needed help. I don't know where the budget is today, but there are a lot of Legions that are still in difficulty - that is the home for our veterans, and I think that if there's anything that any of us can do to support, we should be doing that.

I know there are issues around our province. We heard today about our health care, we hear it on our economy, we hear it on a number of issues, but our men and women who serve our country and who make it back home, they still have those memories and they still have those scars, and their Legions are their place to have a get-together and talk to their comrades and just have some time for themselves. I think that it is incumbent on every member of this House to support our Legions. I can't speak loud and hearty enough on that issue, how I believe our Legions are the backbone of our communities. There are a number of them across our great province.

I can tell you, my Legions in my community, they know where I stand, and I support them. I don't want a pat on the back, but I can tell you the men and women who served overseas were in a little hut up at the Y Camp in my community of Carleton, where I was born and brought up. I saw that as not having enough respect for our men and women who serve, and there they were in a little hut, and cold in the winter. I donated the land for those people to build a brand new Legion in Carleton. I didn't want a pat on the back for that, I wanted to show those men and women the respect that they deserve.

We did an old-fashioned barn raising and we did that Legion in one weekend - in one weekend we raised and we closed that Legion in. It was like beavers running around the community helping out - the women were there, they were hammering nails, getting meals ready, but we had people from all over the communities supporting and helping out. So that Legion meant so much to that community, and it meant so much to me, not only as their MLA, but also I had loved ones who went overseas and never came back, Mr. Speaker. I have family members who did come back. My uncle, who lived just up the hill from where we built the new Legion, was wounded overseas; he has passed on now, but I know what it meant to them to say, this is our new home. This is our Legion, Branch 167. It meant so much to them. We'll never, ever forget what our men and women have done for our great country.

Mr. Speaker, I'm also very blessed in my community to have something that I'm very proud of, and that is our memorial clubs. The Maple Grove and the Yarmouth High Memorial Clubs - you will see them up here in the Parade Square. They are always going around to the veterans. They have developed the Silver Cross for the families of loved ones who perished overseas and in the Afghanistan war. These are young men and women in our high schools in the Maple Grove Memorial Club and Yarmouth High. What they do - and

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every bit of that is volunteer work. I think there are about 150 young boys and girls, and God bless Joey Bishara - the man has been the backbone of this now for a number of years.

He has brought this club to where it is today, and I'm so proud of him. They have been here in this great Chamber, and I've introduced them here and I've supported them. They just erected a new cenotaph at the Maple Grove School, showing the respect for our fallen soldiers in the Afghanistan War. We just had the general in our community and he was so moved, there were actually tears in the man's eyes when he came and visited the Maple Grove Memorial Club. He addressed the club.

We owe so much to our men and women who have served our great country, and we should not only mark November 11th as the day to remember. We should remember them every day. Our men and women who are in uniform, every time you see one, you should tap them on the shoulder and say, thank you. They are doing our nation a great - they contribute to society, helping in other countries, trying to bring peace to other countries, and just a little thank you from each and every one of us to them means a lot to them.

Because I can tell you, when I met with the men and women in uniform, they told me numerous times of what it meant to them, the respect that the Province of Nova Scotia has shown to our men and women in uniform. That goes for all men and women - it could be police officers, our RCMP officers, which I would have to say because my son happens to be an RCMP officer. But they risk their lives for their fellow neighbour. I think the least we can do is to show our respect, and not only on Remembrance Day - but Remembrance Day, I can tell you that Nova Scotia does show the respect on Remembrance Day, and there are other provinces in our great country that do not do what we do right here in Nova Scotia.

So hats off to the members of this Legislature for showing the respect to the men and women on November 11th at the 11th hour, but also throughout the year. I would ask the government side to make sure that there is funding available through Military Affairs to support our Legions, because they do need that help. They don't ask for much, but they just ask for a little bit of help and, Mr. Speaker, I think that's the least we can do. I want to say to all of our men and women that our caucus will never, never forget. We will always remember. God bless them all. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members tonight for an excellent debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made earlier today.

The House now stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 1935]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 901

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 the annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony took place June 6, 2009 celebrating locals' accomplishments in sport; and

Whereas the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team was inducted in this year's ceremony in recognition of their accomplishments on the field; and

Whereas Gerry Murphy contributed to the success of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team as a player;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Gerry Murphy of the 1971 Berwick Alpines Men's Fastball Team for his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 902

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 Acadia Sports Hall of Fame was initiated in 1988 as a way to recognize those individuals and teams who have made a significant athletic contribution to Acadia as athletes or builders; and

Whereas from all accounts, this year's event was a huge success with more than 300 tickets sold and a net total of $25,000 raised; and

Whereas the inductees included former Acadia president Dr. James Perkin, former Acadia football coach John Huard, swimmer Holly LeReverend Smith, basketball player Dave Rode, and the 1995-96 CIS Champion Acadia Hockey Team;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the organizers on a very successful event and the inductees on their contributions to athletics at Acadia.

[Page 1936]

RESOLUTION NO. 903

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 New Minas entrepreneur Shelley Fleckenstein made the top-100 list of enterprising women in Canada this year, compiled by Profit Magazine; and

Whereas the 11th annual Profit W100 list showcases female entrepreneurs delivering world class products and services; and

Whereas Ms. Fleckenstein, owner of Kings Physiotherapy Clinic Ltd., which employs 21 full-time staff, ranked 74th on the list by Profit Magazine;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate owner Shelley Fleckenstein and her staff at Kings Physiotherapy on receiving this recognition.

RESOLUTION NO. 904

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas 170 years ago an "extensive Methodist Revival" led to the organization of the Advocate United Church and the historic church was established in 1839 with the building opening at its present site behind the dyke at Advocate Harbour in 1856; and

Whereas a long history of adaptation began with the addition of the second storey in 1896 through to the more recent restoration of the original rose window, and in July 1998 the church was designated a municipal heritage property; and

Whereas in 2005, Advocate United accepted an invitation to join the Parrsboro-Port Greville Pastoral Charge and in September 2009 these three churches worshipped together and are celebrating the 170th Anniversary of Advocate United Church;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Advocate Church on its 170th Anniversary and wish them all the best in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 905

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Cumberland South)

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

Whereas when Jason Fuller, a Springhill native, began teaching students outside of Horton High in Annapolis Valley, students knew they were receiving an experience unlike any other; and

Whereas Fuller brought the world of advanced biology to students who otherwise wouldn't receive the course, using the Internet and creating a virtual classroom experience; and

Whereas Jason Fuller's work and his students' praise earned him a place on this year's Prime Minister's Awards for Teaching Excellence;

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