Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 09-31

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Charlie Parker

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

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

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2009

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 53, Electricity Act, Mr. A. Younger 1938
No. 54, Executive Council Act, Hon. F. Corbett 1938
No. 55, Green Energy Promotion Act, Mr. A. Younger 1938
No. 56, Public Utilities Act, Mr. A. Younger 1938
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 906, C.P. Allen HS Band: Intl. Luncheon - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1938
Vote - Affirmative 1939
Res. 907, Pap Test Awareness Wk. (10/25-10/31/09): Activities -
Support, Hon. K. Casey 1939
Vote - Affirmative 1940
Res. 908, Eleanor Pew Morris Mem. Arena: Wall of Fame - Inductees,
Hon. D. Peterson-Rafuse 1940
Vote - Affirmative 1940
Res. 909, East Dalhousie Fair - Anniv. (60th),
Mr. L. Glavine 1941
Vote - Affirmative 1941
Res. 910, D'Entremont, Laurent: Book Launch - Thank,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1941
Vote - Affirmative 1942
Res. 911, Paul, Chief Lawrence: Olympic Torchbearer - Congrats.,
Ms. L. Zann 1942
Vote - Affirmative 1943
Res. 912, Caisse populaire de Clare - 70e anniversaire,
Hon. W. Gaudet 1943
Vote - Affirmative 1944
Res. 913, Beaton, Kailyn: Locks of Love - Donation,
Mr. C. Porter 1944
Vote - Affirmative 1945
Res. 914, Mainville, Fleur: CD Release - Congrats.,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 1945
Vote - Affirmative 1946
Res. 915, Taylor, Corinna: UN Climate Change Conf. - Youth Delegate,
Mr. A. Younger 1946
Vote - Affirmative 1946
Res. 916, Kutcha, Kylee: Intl. Space Sta. - Q & A,
Mr. K. Bain 1947
Vote - Affirmative 1947
Res. 917, O'Reilly, John Joseph: RCN/RCMP/Commun. Serv. - Commend,
Ms. B. Kent 1948
Vote - Affirmative 1949
Res. 918, C.P. Allen HS Band: Cdn. Music Support - Congrats.,
Ms. K. Regan 1949
Vote - Affirmative 1949
Res. 919, MacEachern, Katie: United Church of Can. 40th Gen. Coun. -
Attendance, Hon. C. Clarke 1950
Vote - Affirmative 1950
Res. 920, Pumpkin Patrol (2009): Lunenburg Sen. HS Students -
Congrats., Ms. P. Birdsall 1950
Vote - Affirmative 1951
Res. 921, Hill, Simon: Voting - Importance,
Mr. H. Theriault 1951
Vote - Affirmative 1952
Res. 922, Millbrook First Nation: N.S. Come to Life Inits. - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1952
Vote - Affirmative 1953
Res. 923, Henley, Patricia - DAISY Award,
Mr. J. Boudreau 1953
Vote - Affirmative 1953
Res. 924, Prem. - P-3 Funding: Comments - Clarify,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1954
Res. 925, McInnis, Amanda: United Commercial Travelers
Poster Contest - Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 1954
Vote - Affirmative 1955
Res. 926, Canso & Area Arena - Anniv. (30th),
Mr. J. Boudreau 1955
Vote - Affirmative 1956
Res. 927, Oakdene Ctr. (Bear River): Stone, Cheryl/Blooms Farm -
Congrats., Mr. H. Theriault 1956
Vote - Affirmative 1957
Res. 928, McGinn, Paul - Hants Reg. Dev. Auth.: Exec. Dir. - Appt.,
Mr. C. Porter 1957
Vote - Affirmative 1957
Res. 929, McNeil, Neil - McCurdy Sydney Airport: CEO - Appt.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1957
Vote - Affirmative 1958
Res. 930, HPP: H1N1 Vaccination Prog. - Resources,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1958
Res. 931, Parent, Hon. Mark - N.S. Nature Trust Conservation Award (2009),
Hon. C. Clarke 1959
Vote - Affirmative 1960
Res. 932, Roots of Empathy Prog.: Boularderie Elem. (Gr. 3) -
Congrats., Mr. K. Bain 1960
Vote - Affirmative 1960
Res. 933, Rocky Lake Dome: Supporters - Thank,
Hon. R. Hurlburt (by Mr. C. Porter) 1961
Vote - Affirmative 1961
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 264, Health - H1N1 Vaccine: Physicians - Availability,
Hon. S. McNeil 1962
No. 265, TIR: Aliant Call Ctr. (Sydney) - Punitive Tactics,
Mr. A. MacLeod 1963
No. 266, Health - H1N1 Vaccine: Clinics - Challenges,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1965
No. 267, Health: Flu Assessment Clinics - Transportation,
Mr. A. Younger 1967
No. 268, HPP: H1N1 Vaccination Prog. - Administration,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1968
No. 269, Québec Hydro/N.B. Power Sale: N.S. Implications,
Hon. S. McNeil 1970
No. 270, Educ. - Library Bds: Funding - Details,
Hon. K. Casey 1972
No. 271, Com. Serv. - Child Care Ctr. Renovations: Funding - Deadlines,
Hon. Manning MacDonald 1973
No. 272, Com. Serv.: Social Housing Const. - Schedule,
Hon. C. Clarke 1974
No. 273, Educ. - HRSB: Prov. Initiatives & Grants -
Funding Reduction, Ms. K. Regan 1976
No. 274, LWD - WCB Unfunded Liability: Growth - Details,
Hon. K. Colwell 1977
No. 275, Health: Caregiver Allowance Prog. - Criteria,
Mr. K. Bain 1978
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO A CWH ON BILLS AT 3:52 P.M. 1980
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:04 P.M. 1980
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 52, Emergency Department Accountability Act,
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1981
Hon. Maureen MacDonald 1981
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1982
Hon. C. Clarke 1985
Mr. A. Younger 1988
Mr. H. Theriault 1990
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1992
Adjourned debate 1995
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Prem.: ER Closures - End,
Hon. C. Clarke 1996
Ms. V. Conrad 1999
Ms. K. Regan 2001
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 30th at 9:00 a.m. 2004
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 934, Acadia Univ.: Idling Ban - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 2005
Res. 935, Turner, Jeanette & Arlyn: Blanding's Turtles - Protection,
Ms. V. Conrad 2005
Res. 936, Queens Co. SeaFest - Anniv. (9th),
Ms. V. Conrad 2006
Res. 937, Queens Co. Nicks: Special Olympics Summer Games -
Silver Medal, Ms. V. Conrad 2006
Res. 938, Woodford, Sandra: Lun. Queens Vol. Partnership -
Recognition, Ms. V. Conrad 2007
Res. 939, Dennis, Lynn and Dean - Stepping-Stone Home for Seniors,
Ms. V. Conrad 2007
Res. 940, Higgins, Robert "Bob": Death of - Tribute,
Mr. L. Glavine 2008
Res. 941, O'Handley, Susan: Guysborough Co. Youth - Dedication,
Mr. J. Boudreau 2008
Res. 942, Delorey, Janet: East. Communities Youth Assoc. -
Dedication, Mr. J. Boudreau 2009
Res. 943, Jordan, Leonard & Joan - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. J. Boudreau 2009
Res. 944, Port Bickerton Women's Instit. - Anniv. (60th),
Mr. J. Boudreau 2010
Res. 945, Symonds, Sharon - Rosalin Nickerson "Care" Fund:
Support - Congrats., Hon. S. Belliveau 2010
Res. 946, Ross. Clare - Rosalin Nickerson "Care" Fund: Support -
Congrats., Hon. S. Belliveau 2011
Res. 947, Smith, Courtney/Forest Ridge Acad. Team:
Reg. Science Olympics - Congrats., Hon. S. Belliveau 2011
Res. 948, Hines, Chelsey: Hair Donation - Congrats.,
Hon. S. Belliveau 2012

[Page 1937]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 29, 2009

Sixty-first General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Charlie Parker

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll get today's proceedings underway.

The winner of the late debate, motion under Rule 5(5):

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier put an immediate end to all emergency room closures as per the Premier's campaign promise.

That was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton North. It will be held at the moment of interruption, at six o'clock or earlier.

We'll begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[Page 1938]

1937

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 25 of the Acts of 2004. The Electricity Act, Respecting Renewable Energy Providers. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 155 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Executive Council Act; and Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act. (Hon. Frank Corbett)

Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Review of the Green Energy Tax Credit in Manitoba for Implementation in Nova Scotia. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

Bill No. 56 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 380 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Utilities Act. (Mr. Andrew Younger)

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

[2:15 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 906

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

Whereas many of the students attending our schools are recent immigrants from other countries; and

Whereas last year Charles P. Allen High School in Bedford first held an international luncheon for students who have come from other countries, to help alleviate some of the culture shock they've experienced; and

Whereas this year more than 100 people from 20 countries attended the international luncheon;

[Page 1939]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Charles P. Allen High School, its principal, Jeff Lewis, and organizers of the luncheon for their efforts to make new students feel welcome, and wish the international students there every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 907

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

Whereas October 25th to October 31st is Pap Test Awareness Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has unacceptably high levels of cervical cancer, with more than 60 women diagnosed each year and about 23 of those women die from the cancer; and

Whereas increased public knowledge of the importance of a yearly pap test is a preventive health care measure;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support activities planned for Pap Test Awareness Week throughout the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1940]

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. 908

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 the Eleanor Pew Morris Memorial Arena in Chester, Nova Scotia, has added three new inductees to their Wall of Fame; and

Whereas this Wall of Fame recognizes athletes, coaches and builders from the Municipality of Chester who have made a significant contribution to recreation and sports; and

Whereas the inductees were Richard Graves - who competed in the Boston Marathon in the 1950s and won numerous medals, Lewis Page - a soccer player who was part of the Canada Games Team in 1985, and the Chester Municipal High School girls soccer team - who won nine consecutive Nova Scotia "AA" Championships from 1979 to 1987;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer our congratulations to Richard Graves, Lewis Page, and the Chester Municipal High School girls soccer team and wish them much success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1941]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 909

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

Whereas the East Dalhousie Fair marked its 60th Anniversary on August 29, 2009, with one of its best parades, led by a festive banner; and

Whereas it emphasizes food, craft, garden displays, horse and ox pulling, the ever-popular frog-jumping contest, and local entertainment that truly make the event an old-time country fair; and

Whereas the 60th Anniversary produced a special highlight of displaying the 50th Anniversary Community Quilt, which is an amazing display of heritage, a true time capsule;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the founders and all residents of East Dalhousie who continue to make the annual celebration a special and memorable day, and wish the community fair many years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 910

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

[Page 1942]

Whereas Laurent d'Entremont is a masterful storyteller from Lower West Pubnico; and

Whereas Laurent has been writing stories about everything from washing machines to tractors to fishing - always with humour and an Acadian twist; and

Whereas Laurent is launching a new book entitled Stories to Remember, Volume III, covering topics from the Great Depression to Canadian Idol;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Laurent d'Entremont for putting these wonderful stories to paper for all to read and remember, and wish him all the best with his new publication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill.

RESOLUTION NO. 911

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

Whereas the 106-day Olympic Torch Relay will visit more than 1,030 communities in every province and territory across Canada on its way to Vancouver for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games; and

Whereas Chief Lawrence Paul has been an outstanding chief of the Millbrook First Nation for 25 years and is a Queen's Jubilee Award recipient; and

Whereas Chief Lawrence Paul has been chosen as an Olympic torchbearer as the flame travels through six Aboriginal communities in Nova Scotia;

[Page 1943]

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Chief Lawrence Paul of Millbrook First Nation on receiving the honour of being an Olympic torchbearer for the 2010 Olympic Winter Games.

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. 912

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

Attendu que la Caisse populaire de Clare célèbre 70 années de service à la communauté de Clare cette année; et

Attendu que grâce au leadership de son conseil d'administration et de son directeur financier, Paul Émile LeBlanc, la Caisse poulaire de Clare a connu une croissance constante au cours des 70 dernières années et gère maintenant des actifs de près de 61 millions de dollars; et

Attendu que la Caisse populaire de Clare a grandement contribué au secteur économique de la Municipalité de Clare, en plus d'avoir effectué de nombreuses contributions sociales qui ont amélioré notre communauté;

Par conséquent, il est résolu que les membres de cette Assemblée félicitent le conseil d'adminstration, le personnel et les membres de la Caisse populaire de Clare à l'occasion de son 70e anniversaire, et leur souhaitent un succès continu dans leurs projets futurs.

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

[Page 1944]

Whereas la Caisse populaire de Clare is celebrating its 70th Anniversary in serving the community of Clare this year; and

Whereas due to the leadership of its board of directors, along with the chief financial officer Paul Emile LeBlanc, la Caisse populaire de Clare has grown consistently over the past 70 years and is now managing assets of almost $61 million; and

Whereas la Caisse populaire de Clare has contributed greatly to the economic sector of the Municipality of Clare in addition to the many social contributions they have made to improving our community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the board of directors, staff, and members of la Caisse populaire de Clare on their 70th 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.

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 913

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

Whereas Locks of Love is a public non-profit organization that provides hairpieces to financially disadvantaged children in Canada and the U.S. under age 18 suffering from long-term medical hair loss from any diagnosis; and

Whereas 3-year-old Kailyn Beaton of St. Croix, Hants County recently had her long locks braided, cut and donated to Locks of Love where it will become a beautiful hairpiece for another young child to wear; and

[Page 1945]

Whereas educating our children at a young age about the importance of charities and what those organizations may mean to the lives of others will inspire them to continue into the future with admiration for charity work;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly recognize and applaud young Kailyn Beaton on her generosity and selflessness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 914

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

Whereas Fleur Mainville began playing violin at the age of five and shortly after expanded her study into classical piano and voice training; and

Whereas Fleur Mainville, as a young teenager, became a member of MacKeel, the Celtic rock group from Pictou County that was nominated more than once for East Coast Music Awards and developed a strong following across Canada and beyond; and

Whereas Fleur Mainville released her latest CD at the deCoste Entertainment Centre in Pictou on October 22nd and in doing so brings Celtic rock back into the foreground, and is donating a portion of CD sales to support the work of the Canadian Cancer Society, following her personal battle with the disease;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly congratulate Fleur Mainville on the release of her new CD entitled My Rare One, and wish her continued success as a musician, vocalist and performer.

[Page 1946]

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. 915

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

Whereas the United Nations Climate Change Conference will be held in Copenhagen, Denmark, from December 7-18, 2009, hosting delegates from 192 countries, including Canada; and

Whereas Corinna Taylor, a Dalhousie University student earning her Master of Science degree, is researching alternative energy sources as a means of waste disposal method and is an active volunteer with the Ecology Action Centre, Clean Nova Scotia and the Living Earth Council; and

Whereas Corinna Taylor has been accepted as the only youth delegate from Nova Scotia to attend the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Corinna Taylor on being selected by the Young Liberals of Canada to represent Nova Scotia at the 2009 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen this December.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1947]

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. 916

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

Whereas Baddeck Academy Grade 9 student Kylee Kutcha was one of 16 Nova Scotia students chosen to address Canadian Space Agency scientist and astronaut Robert Thirsk and the remainder of the six person crew floating 350 kilometres above the earth in the International Space Station; and

Whereas Kylee and 15 other students participated in their conversations yesterday through a satellite downlink at Mount Saint Vincent University in Halifax; and

Whereas students from across Nova Scotia were asked to come up with questions for the space crew earlier this month and those coming up with the most insightful questions related to space or the space station's mission were selected to participate;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly applaud the enthusiasm exhibited by Kylee in wanting to put forward questions to members aboard Canada's International Space Station and wish her every success with her academic studies and future career plans.

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 1948]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to do an introduction if I could.

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MS. KENT: If I could draw the attention of the House to the east gallery, we have a significant number of residents of Nova Scotia, particularly in the yellow coats which would indicate to most of us that they are Lions Club members. We have representatives from the Cole Harbour Lions Club. We have the Dartmouth Lions Club. I think there are a few others, maybe from the Valley, and commissioners, et cetera.

They are here today to honour a special friend and member of the club and an outstanding citizen of Nova Scotia, of which I'm going to present a resolution. J.J. O'Reilly has friends and family here as well. So if we could ask them all to rise and offer a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

[2:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 917

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

Whereas John Joseph (J.J.) O'Reilly of Cole Harbour served this country in the Royal Canadian Navy with dedication during times of war and peace, and was also a member of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, enforcing the law and protecting Canadians for many years; and

Whereas Mr. O'Reilly is a life member of Lions Club International, has been a volunteer for 35 years, and has also served lengthy terms in leadership roles such as district governor, cabinet secretary-treasurer, district council chairman for the International District of Atlantic Canada and the State of Maine, and many others; and

Whereas Mr. O'Reilly has also been chair of many local committees such as the Natal Day volunteers, blood donor clinics, Peace Poster Contest, Dreams Take Flight, while he also

[Page 1949]

finds time to deliver books and other useful items to hospitals, doctors offices, and the Royal Canadian Legion;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend John Joseph O'Reilly for his outstanding service with the Royal Canadian Navy and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, and his tremendous commitment to the local community through offer of service to many groups, organizations, and service clubs.

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. [Standing Ovation]

The honourable member for Bedford-Birch Cove.

RESOLUTION NO. 918

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

Whereas on October 21, 2009, the musicians of the Charles P. Allen High School wind ensemble presented the world premiere performance of Qawwali Party for clarinet solo and wind ensemble, written by composer Dinuk Wijeratne specifically for the C.P. Allen wind ensemble; and

Whereas these young musicians were joined on stage by the Acadia University percussion ensemble and professional musicians, Mark Adam and Kinan Azmeh; and

Whereas due to the hard work and dedication of each member of the C.P. Allen wind ensemble, along with the inspiration which comes from collaborating with professional musicians and composers, the performances of this new work were outstanding and enjoyed by all in attendance;

[Page 1950]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Charles P. Allen High School band and their director, Mr. Nathan Beeler, for their support for Canadian music and their continued dedication to excellence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 919

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

Whereas the 40th General Council of the United Church of Canada was held this past summer in Kelowna, British Columbia; and

Whereas Katie MacEachern, an advocate for green initiatives that protect our environment, a strong promoter of Earth Day, as well as a member of St. Matthew-Wesley United Church, attended the 40th General Council; and

Whereas Katie embarked on a 10-day journey of learning, fellowship, and spiritual engagement with peers from across Canada that challenged 15- to 20-year-old youth to go beyond local perspectives to explore international First Nation residential schools and the future direction of the church;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize youth like Katie who are willing to expand their understanding, perspective, and advocacy for the ministry of the United Church and its work with other youth and faith communities at home and around the globe.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 1951]

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. 920

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

Whereas the Pumpkin Patrol in Lunenburg was formed in 2002 by senior high school students after the devastating Halloween fire that destroyed St. John's Anglican Church in 2001; and

Whereas this highly successful group was modelled after a similar initiative called the All Saints Program, developed in Yarmouth in 1991, and designed to curb vandalism and help put the fun back in Halloween; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Senior High School students will once again take part in the ninth annual Pumpkin Patrol, along with the local RCMP and firefighters, ensuring that the streets are safe for everyone;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the students involved in the 2009 Pumpkin Patrol for their commitment to their town and their 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.

[Page 1952]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 921

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

Whereas during the last provincial election campaign I was invited into a home in Weaver Settlement, near Weymouth, Nova Scotia, by the family of Mr. Simon Hill; and

Whereas Mr. Hill, in his late 40s, was lying in the living room of his family's home, separated only by a curtain as I entered, and as he recognized my voice from hearing it on the radio, invited me to his bedside; and

Whereas Mr. Hill was dying and one of his last wishes was to vote in the upcoming election, and so a mail-in ballot was arranged for him to do so;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize that Mr. Simon Hill "got it right" by teaching us that your vote does count no matter what your circumstances, as Mr. Hill did not live to see the results of his vote - this was his last gift to our democracy that many of us just take for granted.

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. 922

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

Whereas Millbrook First Nation was featured in an article in the most recent Nova Scotia Come to Life initiative, entitled Building and Growing; and

[Page 1953]

Whereas this release comes at a time when a new $4.5 million infrastructure project is set to start on the development which will serve as a considerable expansion to the existing Power Centre, which has brought in roughly a dozen new tenants since 2001; and

Whereas the hard work of Chief Lawrence Paul and the band council, in partnership with other agencies and stakeholders, has provided significant economic spinoffs, as well as opportunity for the people of the Millbrook First Nation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Millbrook First Nation on being featured in the Nova Scotia Come to Life initiative, while thanking the officials and residents for their continued hard work and dedication to sustainable economic development.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 923

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

Whereas Patricia Henley, an RN from Sheet Harbour who has served her community by providing quality health care for the past 32 years, was recently awarded the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses from the DAISY Foundation; and

Whereas the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses was created in 2001 to say thank you to nurses, who the foundation believes to be the unsung heroes of the health care system; and

[Page 1954]

Whereas Patricia Henley is the first emergency nurse in Canada to receive this international nursing award;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Patricia Henley on being awarded the DAISY Award for Extraordinary Nurses, and for being the very first emergency nurse in Canada to receive this award.

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. 924

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 on November 23, 2007, the Premier stated in The ChronicleHerald that P3 financing didn't work in the past and cost taxpayers a lot of money; and

Whereas on March 28, 2008, the Leader of the New Democratic Party had this to say, "P3s are not a model for Nova Scotia. They haven't worked in the past. This process does not guarantee Nova Scotians that they are going to get value for money in these projects"; and

Whereas yesterday, the Premier publicly announced that he will now be seeking P3 funding from the federal government;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly insist the Premier clarify his comments on P3 funding and explain to this House his government's plan with respect to public-private partnerships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1955]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Interim Leader of the Progressive Conservative Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 925

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

Whereas 15 participants from the adult Colchester Community Workshop recently competed in the United Commercial Travelers Annual Safety Poster contest; and

Whereas Amanda McInnis, a resident of Valley, won first place from the workshop and first place at the grand convention in Dartmouth; and

Whereas out of thousands of entrants, Amanda won third place at the supreme convention in South Carolina;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amanda for her accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 926

[Page 1956]

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

Whereas the Canso and Area Arena will be celebrating its 30th Anniversary with the official re-opening of the arena on November 7, 2009, after a forced shutdown due to a failed ice plant in the 2008-09 season; and

Whereas the first season for the Canso and Area Arena was 1979-80 and this arena has always been a proud home for the Canso Bluefins and the Canso Flying Figure Skating Club; and

Whereas Canso and the surrounding communities were able to raise over $75,000 for the purchase of new equipment for the ice plant, and their efforts became a feature story on CBC's Hockey Day in Canada, which in turn resulted in numerous donations from all regions in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Canso and Area Arena staff, volunteers and all those who contributed to make the facility operational for the young skaters and hockey players on the celebration of their 30th Anniversary and the official re-opening of this very valuable community asset, with the very best wishes for future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 927

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

[Page 1957]

Whereas on July 26, 2009, the Bear River Blooms Farm located on Sissiboo Road raised $424 in under four hours by auctioning off large bouquets of flowers, selling 70 smaller bouquets and baked goods; and

Whereas the funds raised were donated to the Oakdene Centre in Bear River for much needed roof repairs; and

Whereas Blooms Farm co-owner Cheryl Stone sprouted the idea one day when she realized they had so many flowers and the Oakdene Centre was too valuable for the community to lose;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Cheryl Stone and the Blooms Farm on their fundraising efforts to help save the Oakdene Centre in Bear River.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 928

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

Whereas Paul McGinn was recently appointed the executive director of the Hants Regional Development Authority; and

Whereas Paul's wealth of experience will service the people of Hants County well, as he sets out on the crucial work of drawing long-term, sustainable economic growth and opportunity to the area; and

Whereas the vital work done by the Regional Development Authorities cannot be understated, as an increasingly competitive global economy emphasizes the need for

[Page 1958]

communities all across our province to assert ourselves and effectively showcase what we have to offer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Paul McGinn on being appointed the Hants Regional Development Authority's new executive director, and commit our support to help him do what is necessary to bring economic growth to the area.

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. 929

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

Whereas Neil MacNeil was recently selected as the new chief executive officer of the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport; and

Whereas Mr. MacNeil's extensive experience and leadership from the public and private sectors, as well as the Armed Forces, made him worthy of his unanimous selection by the board of directors; and

Whereas this airport has, and will continue to represent major economic benefits and opportunities for Cape Breton Island which means the work undertaken by Mr. MacNeil and others is an important element of our collective success and prosperity;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Neil MacNeil on being named the new CEO of the J.A. Douglas McCurdy Sydney Airport, and wish him continued success in his new role.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1959]

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.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Argyle.

RESOLUTION NO. 930

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 Nova Scotia is in the midst of the largest vaccination program undertaken in the history of the province; and

Whereas we have seen over 100 deaths caused by the H1N1 virus in Canada since Spring; and

Whereas the NDP Government appears to be obstinate to the fact that there are concerns about how the vaccination program is being delivered;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection realize that more resources need to be diverted for the vaccination program and for the minister to listen and act to the concerns of doctors about how the program is being executed.

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.

[Page 1960]

The honourable member for Cape Breton North.

RESOLUTION NO. 931

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Nature Trust annually presents an award to an individual, organization, or business that has demonstrated an outstanding dedication to private land conservation in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this year's recipient, the Honourable Mark Parent, former Minister of Environment and Labour, won the 2009 Nova Scotia Nature Trust Conservation Award; and

Whereas his passion and commitment to land preservation, restoration, and conservation continues beyond his time in politics;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mark on winning this prestigious award and wish him well with his continued advocacy.

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. 932

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

Whereas Boularderie Elementary Grade 3 students are undertaking a unique learning experience; and

Whereas it will be a while before two-month-old Lexi Bruce is truly ready for Grade 3, but she is being welcomed with open arms into the Grade 3 classroom through the Roots

[Page 1961]

of Empathy program in which students will have an opportunity to learn human sensitivities, such as reacting to other people's feelings; and

Whereas instructor Michelle Symes is the instructor with the Roots of Empathy program, and she noted the aim of the program is to foster such things as emotional literacy while advancing knowledge on infant safety and human and brain development;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Grade 3 class at Boularderie Elementary along with instructor Michelle Symes, for their interest in wanting to teach and learn about social interaction with individuals.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 933

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

Whereas in 1992 the Burke Oliver Report identified the need for a new rink in the communities of Bedford, Waverley, and Fall River, and in 1997 the HRM confirmed and supported this initiative; and

Whereas governments, both provincial and federal, supported the project through the efforts of minister Peter MacKay, as well as private sector partners Basim Halef and contractor Randolph Coombes, for guiding the construction of the rink to the benefit of all members of the community; and

[Page 1962]

Whereas the Rocky Lake Dome, opening October 30, 2009, will be the first new rink for the area since 1975 and will allow residents to have increased recreational opportunities for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank the Rocky Lake Development Association and its chair, Barry Mason, for giving significant time and energy to bring this much-needed facility to the area.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is now 2:51 p.m. and we'll go to 3:51 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - H1N1 VACCINE: PHYSICIANS - AVAILABILITY

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Premier. I'm sure the Acting Premier is aware, as a result of briefings from the Minister of Health, that the issue around H1N1 is becoming a bigger logistical challenge every day. The challenge, however, is probably greatest in family physicians' offices throughout Nova Scotia. Residents of the Capital District learned last week that clinics will not start until next week so that the employees of Capital Health can be immunized. While we have no problem with health employees being vaccinated, our issue is how this government has determined the priority list for health care workers. It would appear from all accounts that family physicians are not deemed a priority.

[Page 1963]

So my question for the Acting Premier is, why were vaccinations in the Capital Health District not made available to family physicians and staff in doctors' offices for their own use this week, considering they will be on the front line next week?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to defer that question to the Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. Health care workers, including family physicians, are indeed a priority for getting the vaccine. In speaking with Dr. Bob Strang this morning on this very point, he assured me that all physicians practising in the Capital District Health Authority, whether or not they have hospital privileges, are to be included in the priority for getting the vaccine.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, on the surface there doesn't seem to be any logical pattern emerging that would instill in us confidence that we are on target to make those most at-risk first in line.

Mr. Speaker, one family doctor in Halifax expressed concerns to the Minister of Health two days ago, but much to his disappointment, as of late last night he has not heard from the minister or the department. This physician works in a clinic with 18 other physicians, with a caseload of 50,000 active patient files. The physician complement in this clinic is now down by two. To make matters worse, with all of the pressures being placed on this clinic, a shipment from Public Health of 80 doses of vaccine earmarked for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation was received - not for doctors' use, not even for health care workers, but for the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation. So my question for the Acting Premier is, why would staff at the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation be seen as a greater priority than front-line family physicians and their staff?

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, these are very serious times and this is a very serious issue. Therefore, I want to revert this question to the Minister of Health.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in the Capital District Health Authority we have approximately 270 family physicians. Family physicians have been asked how much vaccine they wish to order. Some physicians ordered as many as 1,000 doses, and given that we have received less than 10 per cent of the vaccine that we anticipate, we were unable to fill the orders that we received from family physicians. I want to assure the honourable member that more vaccine will be on the way over the next few months and there will be enough vaccine for everyone who requires the vaccine.

[Page 1964]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I have no doubt that family physicians from one end of this province to the other have requested a large number of dosages of vaccines but I can almost guarantee you that not one of them asked for 80 for employees of the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation to be a priority ahead of front-line workers, ahead of pregnant mothers, ahead of three-year-old children and under. That was not an answer to the question. This government has failed the people of Nova Scotia by making a joke out of this crisis that's in front of us.

It would appear that someone in their infinite wisdom decided that protecting the staff at liquor stores was more important than protecting family doctors. Lucky this particular clinic took the wise move and used these vaccines to protect themselves and not the liquor store employees.

My question for the Acting Premier is, given that it appears government's rollout plan did not include a plan to provide vaccine for family physicians in the Capital District, who is going to help the residents when family physicians fall ill in this district, the liquor store employees?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my response to the Leader of the Official Opposition is, this government, as all members of this House, understands the gravity of the situation when it comes to H1N1. We are dealing with this in a fair and go-forward motion. We take this very seriously, as I'm sure all members do and we're not going down the road of fear-mongering, we're going to help resolve this problem and everybody who needs a vaccination will get a vaccination.

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

TIR: ALIANT CALL CTR. (SYDNEY) - PUNITIVE TACTICS

MR. ALFIE MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you will be to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Yesterday I tried to ask a straightforward question to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development. I talked about the 103 layoffs that Aliant has made in the communities of Sydney, Truro and Amherst, to all of which the minister seemed to say, oh well, you win some, you lose some, you know, that's the way it goes. Well, I've got to tell you, if you tell that to the 103 families that have lost their jobs, they wouldn't see that as being very amusing.

Aliant is one of the most successful companies in Atlantic Canada and it is a valued business and it employs many in our province. Part of the reason that Aliant is so successful is because of the business of the province here, we provide a lot of business to the Aliant company. My question is, are you, Mr. Minister, willing to review any punitive tactics against Aliant in order to send a message that job cuts during a recession are unacceptable?

[Page 1965]

HON. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, that's the sort of question in this situation I would refer back to the minister who originally had the response but I've been advised by the Acting Premier today that he's certainly willing to take on the question.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it's not the position nor is it the philosophy of our government to break contracts with anybody or, as the questioner put it, to be punitive. If there is a question about renewing contracts, when contracts come open, we will go through the fair hiring process or the bargaining process and see what is best for Nova Scotia.

MR. MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, my question again will be to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Our caucus has been trying to ask a few questions about what is our governance business with Aliant. We are not receiving any answers from your department's CITO division. The Progressive Conservative caucus was told we would have to wait because they were deciding what information they could share. So much for the openness and transparency of this NDP Government. Heaven forbid we try to find out how much money taxpayers are paying for government services to Aliant.

My question to the minister is, if this information is so straightforward, why does this information require so much secrecy?

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, again I'm going to defer to the Acting Premier because this issue has never crossed my desk. It's not something I'm aware of and I'll ask the Acting Premier to respond.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the Third Party, when they were in government, signed the last contract with Aliant, so they should know the numbers if they indeed signed it in good faith. Thank you.

MR. MACLEOD: Well, Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting, this government has been in power now for six months - actually it seems like six years - but the reality is they are in government, yet the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal doesn't know what contracts his department holds for the Province of Nova Scotia, and our Deputy Premier says, well, you guys should know the answers. Well, you know, if we knew the answers we wouldn't be asking the questions.

Mr. Speaker, as government we hold a large stick when it comes to Aliant's business. We need to let them know that such cavalier treatment of Nova Scotian workers is unacceptable. By reviewing with them what our contracts are, and when they expire, and looking to negotiate with others would send a clear, strong message to Aliant that we are here and we want our valued employees protected and respected.

[Page 1966]

I, and the laid-off Aliant workers, find it galling to hear the Premier state yesterday that he was proud of his backbenchers who issued the same press release and how well his Cabinet was doing in letting 100 well-paid jobs disappear in rural Nova Scotia. Well, Mr. Acting Premier, you need a reality check.

My question to the minister is, your government was to provide a better deal for families, what are you willing to do to protect the jobs of laid-off Aliant workers by leveraging provincial contracts?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for a question that at this stage I am not aware of, but in the way that we do business in the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I'll make every attempt to make sure that you get that information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - H1N1 VACCINE: CLINICS - CHALLENGES

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday the Town of Westville held its first H1N1 clinic and, true to form, it did have its logistical challenges. Seniors, diabetics, families with young children, were part of a larger group of 600 and they were left waiting in the cold for seven hours to get their H1N1 vaccine.

The lineup is no different today. It is reassuring, from a public health perspective, that people are going to the clinics, but we're concerned that when people learn of these wait times they may choose not to be vaccinated.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Pictou East may be very interested in knowing that someone standing in that line yesterday was taken away by ambulance after collapsing, and he may be further interested in knowing that when the clinic was open until 7:00 p.m., they stopped taking people at 3:00 p.m. So my question for the Minister of Health is, what is her department doing to address these challenges that are happening today?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. At that clinic and at other clinics, because of the large turnout that we've seen - and we haven't just seen it here in Nova Scotia, we're seeing it in every province across the country - we've added additional staff at many of these clinics to assist with the numbers. We monitor the turnout day by day. We are asking that people who are in high-risk groups go to these clinics and allow the first doses of the vaccine to be directed toward people with compromised immune systems, pre-existing conditions, pregnant women - these people should have priority to the vaccine.

[Page 1967]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, unless the minister wasn't listening to our Leader, priority seems to have gone towards the Nova Scotia Liquor Corporation, and not to small children. How does the minister possibly explain that? Last of my knowledge, it was Jell-O shots that were sold at the liquor commission, not vaccine shots, Madam Minister. I'd like to know exactly what is going on in this province in terms of the H1N1 virus. (Interruptions) (Laughter) It's no joke; it's no joke at all. You had 200 people waiting in line in Baddeck and 600 people waiting in line in Westville - you knew those numbers were going to be big, Madam Minister. The minister knew.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister why did this government fail to see the logic of placing such things as consent forms online so that the waits in those line-ups could have been reduced prior to people going and standing in the cold for seven hours?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I and this government - we have faith in our public health officials who have been working on the plan for a mass immunization program of this kind for many months and weeks. We are very aware that there will be difficulties with a mass immunization program of this magnitude but I want to commend the public health workers who are working in these clinics for the fine job they're doing. Literally today, day three of this program, thousands of Nova Scotians have already received the vaccine.

MR. DAVID WILSON(Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, no one is finding fault with the workers and volunteers who are running any clinic in this province. What we find fault with is that minister and her inability to think the whole process through. Yesterday you had elderly people - 90 years of age plus - waiting outside, families, young children, diabetics waiting in the cold. My own community has to wait until November 4th and 11th to even have a vaccination clinic.

It would seem to me that, for instance, the Red Cross may be of some assistance in a time like this and they could set up such things as comfort stations. A community-minded individual in the Westville area called the Red Cross and do you know what she was told? That we would be more than willing to help, we just need the government to ask.

My question to the minister is, will government be asking for additional outside help, such as the Red Cross, in order to provide the support that's needed to Nova Scotians who are going to choose to wait for their H1N1 shots?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government and the public health officials have been in contact with many, many groups and organizations across the province for their assistance. We have already asked for people to come forward as volunteers to work in our clinics. We've also asked for retired health care providers to come forward as well. We're working closely with the VON and many, many other very excellent organizations and we'll continue to do so.

[Page 1968]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: FLU ASSESSMENT CLINICS - TRANSPORTATION

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last evening, the Capital District Health Authority established a flu assessment clinic at the Halifax Forum, which I believe opened today at noon - the only assessment centre so far in HRM. Now while we all agree that it is necessary to take pressure off of emergency departments, it does present a challenge for some individuals to actually get to Halifax in the first place. At present, the Halifax Forum is the only assessment centre, although others may be established at sometime in the future. For individuals in my constituency, Dartmouth North, Preston and other areas where there are high percentages of low-income families, their only option is to take the bus to get there.

I'd like to know whether the minister thinks that it's appropriate to have people take the bus, and use mass transit, while they think they may be infected with H1N1 to get to an assessment clinic.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, assessment centres, as the honourable member said, are places where people who are experiencing flu-like symptoms can go to be assessed rather than going to emergency rooms and putting additional pressure on those emergency rooms.

The first assessment centre in the province has opened today at the Capital District Health Authority. As we see increased numbers of people presenting themselves in emergency departments across the province, other assessment centres will be set up as the districts see fit. Thank you.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, that answer sounds a lot like yesterday when the Minister of Health suggested that two and three-year-olds should be told to cough into their sleeve and you can tell her I tried that with my two and one-half year old last night and I'm wondering if the Minister of Health might like to come to my house and try it as well.

The fact of the matter is, the whole point of these assessment clinics is to take the pressure off emergency rooms. As she heard from me in the past two weeks, you look at the Dartmouth General and the reason for their uptick is because of people presenting with flu-like symptoms. Those numbers are already there and yet there is only one flu assessment centre in Capital District. With the minister's background in social work, does she not see how this could present a challenge for many people and particularly low income families who have no way to get to the Halifax Forum?

[Page 1969]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the IWK Emergency Department has been seeing an increase in young children coming in to their emergency department with flu-like symptoms. They've also seen youth and the assessment centre that's open today at the Forum is a joint effort by the IWK and the Capital DHA. It will see young people over the age of five, older kids, at that assessment centre. Indeed, there will be similar assessment centres opening in other districts if required, if similar patterns of pressure and surges on emergency departments in those DHAs become apparent.

MR. YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Health may be missing the point here. The fact of the matter is that there already is an uptick elsewhere in the municipality and across Nova Scotia, in fact. There's already a need for other assessment centres. I'm going to try with another minister, so my follow-up is to the Minister of Community Services. Is the Minister of Community Services prepared to establish an emergency travel fund to help low income families in HRM reach the only assessment clinic for a municipality that's larger than the land area of Prince Edward Island?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member. What we do with this government is, we work together. We do not work in isolation, so my department works very closely with the Department of Health. We look at those issues, we discuss them together and we follow the procedures that the experts are advising us to do. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HPP - H1N1 VACCINATION PROG. - ADMINISTRATION

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I may as well continue this type of questioning. My question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. What we're seeing with the rollout of the vaccination program is troublesome. We're seeing long line ups with no prioritization, doctors who are raising legitimate concerns are being scoffed at by the Minister in the House, lack of immunization conducted within the province's schools (Interruptions) -if the member for Queens wants to answer the questions for the Minister of Health, I'll ask her to do that, I would really like to see her try to answer it, because we're not getting answers from the minister - lack of immunization conducted within the province's schools, which New Brunswick is doing right now, and now a potential vaccine shortage across Canada of not only the H1NI, as well as the regular flu vaccine.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, what mechanisms are in place to monitor and revise the administration of this vaccine program based upon the concerns that are being raised?

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have a very well laid out plan that was developed by the Public Health Officials, both in the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, Dr. Bob Strang, as well as medical officers in the DHAs. That

[Page 1970]

plan allows for us to modify the plan as the evidence indicates we need to be doing things differently. What we will not do is change that plan at every whim, based on no evidence, based on emotion and based on the kinds of hysterical accusations that we hear coming from the Opposition. (Applause)

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, there goes the Halifax-centric again - they're not seeing outside of HRM. In response to a question raised yesterday by my colleague from Hants West, the minister was evasive on the clinics being provided in rural Nova Scotia. Hants West has two clinics to cover 20,000 people. In Argyle, we don't even have access to a vaccine clinic until the end of November, into December.

Yesterday, in Baddeck, the vaccine clinic was so poorly organized that people with young children and the elderly with walkers were waiting with regular folks outside in the cold. In Westville, a clinic was shut down after 3:00 p.m. as people were told the clinic was beyond capacity and they had run out of the vaccine - perhaps the member for Pictou East might want to bring that up with the minister.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is, given the fact that we're in the midst of the second wave of H1N1, are you willing to reallocate resources from non-primary health care to address the serious shortcomings in the vaccination program?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the clinics that are happening across the province are hardly happening in major centres. On the 5th of November, there is a clinic in Saulnierville. There is a clinic on the 9th of November in Digby, and there is a clinic on the 3rd in Shelburne. I'll table that document.

Mr. Speaker, all of the vaccine has not arrived for this vaccination program up front. It will be coming over a period of weeks and it has to be distributed gradually. The plans for that have been made; they are being rolled out. Literally thousands of people in the province have already received the vaccine.

We are encouraging people from high-priority groups to be given the opportunity to get those vaccines first, Mr. Speaker. I assure people in this province that anybody who wants to get vaccinated and should get vaccinated, will have ample opportunity to do so over the next five to six weeks.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Five to six weeks, Mr. Speaker. I have been contacted by many concerned Nova Scotians at what is occurring. The Globe and Mail is reporting that because governments across Canada have done such a good job in respect to alerting people to the necessity of the vaccine, that there is the prospect of a short-term shortage. Of the 50 million doses Canada has secured, only six million doses have been allocated to the provinces. There are two major concerns: The demand will outstrip supply; and that a

[Page 1971]

number of family doctors will not be participating in the vaccination administration because, surprise, surprise, the unnecessary paperwork burden is too great.

Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, is the minister willing to review the paperwork process, vis-à-vis other government jurisdictions, and provide assurances that there will be adequate supply for Nova Scotians seeking the vaccine?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what I have to do to be able to lay out the plan of how we're rolling out this vaccine any more clearly than to say that we are doing it through large clinics as much as possible. Family physicians who want to sign on to this program have been asked to send in their orders, and those orders, if reasonable, will be filled as the vaccine is available.

Mr. Speaker, they will have to do a certain amount of paperwork so that we can keep track of who has received the vaccine and what batches are in use. That is the process they must agree to in order to get the vaccine.

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

QUÉBEC HYDRO/N.B. POWER SALE: N.S. - IMPLICATIONS

HON. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Premier. This morning the Premiers of New Brunswick and Quebec announced a deal that will see Hydro Québec purchase the assets of NB Power. As part of the deal, electricity customers in New Brunswick will see their power bills reduced by up to 30 per cent. This will have serious implications for the economy of our province because power rates for businesses and industries will be much lower in New Brunswick than here in Nova Scotia. So my question for the Deputy Premier is, what is your government doing today to make sure that businesses in our province remain competitive with businesses in New Brunswick?

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I share the concerns of the Leader of the Official Opposition around the proposed sale of NB Power to Hydro-Quebec but, you know, we've introduced a bill here in this House on supply side management. That's how we're going forward to protect the consumers of electrical power in this province, and we'll be doing more in the future.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Acting Premier knows that demand side management has nothing to do with the rate that someone is paying. What happened today is that customers in New Brunswick have a 30 per cent reduction in their power rates. What I asked the Deputy Premier is, what is he doing to make sure that Nova Scotia businesses stay competitive? I don't know if this government realizes, but a 30 per cent decrease in the power rates in New Brunswick will have a significant impact in Nova Scotia. Energy costs

[Page 1972]

are a major factor in where businesses are looking to go and set up shop. Trying to attract business and industry is extremely competitive.

Today, trying to attract investment into our province has just become more difficult. So my question to the Acting Premier is, how is your government planning to address the challenges that will now face this province to bring new business here to Nova Scotia?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, obviously by the premise of that question, the Leader of the Official Opposition agrees with the sale of NB Power to Hydro-Québec. This presents an unrealistic pressure on the business community, we realize that. The Leader said that supply side management does nothing to help protect consumers; I say he's totally wrong. It does, and that's one of our ways of moving this forward.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I never once said that I agreed with the deal between Hydro-Québec and NB Power. As a matter of fact, quite frankly, all I know is that as Nova Scotians, we have to deal with what's happening and the reality is that Hydro-Québec has bought NB Power. The reality is that industrial customers in New Brunswick are going to get a 30 per cent reduction, and the reality of it is Nova Scotia is becoming uncompetitive. What I simply ask this government and this Acting Premier is, what is he doing to make sure that we are competitive, that our businesses have an opportunity to compete?

Mr. Speaker, electricity generation from hydro is much less expensive than electricity generated from coal. New Brunswick customers will now have access to cheap hydro electricity from Québec. Individual customers will benefit and businesses will benefit. So my question to the Acting Premier is, can you tell Nova Scotians what your government is doing to ensure that our province gets access to hydro power so that we can benefit from lower energy prices?

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'll tell you one thing we're not going to do. We're not going to sell out the resources of Nova Scotia for short-term political gains like the Premier of New Brunswick did. We will do the prudent thing and look after the business of Nova Scotia.

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

EDUC. - LIBRARY BDS: FUNDING - DETAILS

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. The Library Funding Task Force Report tabled in this House this week is one step closer to an agreement that gives predictable funding to library boards across the province.

[Page 1973]

Recognizing the importance of this agreement, my question to the minister is, will the minister explain why funding to support this agreement was not included in the September 24th budget?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member realizes, this was an initiative of the former government and they had put $1 million in the base funding for libraries for the coming year. My government worked very hard to protect that increase, and we have put - that's an 8 per cent increase in funding to the public libraries over the coming year.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly aware of the $1 million, because that had been a past practice, but $1 million will not address the funding formula. So there were millions of dollars allotted in the recent budget of the NDP to support their priorities. Those dollars would have been well received by library boards, library staff and library users. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain to this House and to all Nova Scotians and to all library boards and all library users and library staff why support for public libraries was not their priority?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I did take the opportunity to speak to representatives from regional library boards and the regional libraries and their administration, as well as representatives from the provincial library system last weekend and explained to them first-hand exactly why, because of the fiscal reality, we're not able to commit to the long-term funding requests that they were asking for, but also committed to move forward alongside them working on a number of the issues that were identified in the MOU. They know that public libraries are a priority of this government and we see it as part of our lifelong learning strategy. So we will be working with them on a number of the issues that were identified.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, in the recent comments from the minister - and I believe the minister is sincere, that she understands the important role of libraries, and the important role that they play as centres for our communities - she expressed gratitude for the work that people on the library task force had completed. But, unfortunately, libraries need more than gratitude to operate, they need money. If no money was available or if no money was committed, my question to the minister is, will the minister now commit in this House to request that the Premier and her Cabinet colleagues redirect money to the Department of Education so that agreement can be signed and library boards can move forward with their long-range plans?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, we're just beginning our budget discussions and deliberations for the Spring budget. Certainly, we will be looking at moving forward on a number of the identified issues and challenges for the libraries. I would be most pleased to include those among the critical issues to be discussed by the Treasury Board and Cabinet.

[Page 1974]

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

COM. SERV. - CHILD CARE CTR. RENOVATIONS: FUNDING

- DEADLINES

HON. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community Services. On Tuesday, the government announced more than $6.3 million for child care centre renovations. The minister at that time reassured this House that the funding was given out through an absolutely fair process. Well, guess what? On her department's Web site there is a press release from September 18th of this year calling on child care centres to apply for funding up until October 30th. I would like to table this, "Funding to Repair, Renovate Child Care Centres", you can apply up until October 30th.

Mr. Speaker, the funding announcement listing successful applicants was made on October 27th, three days before the initial deadline. For this announcement to have been made on October 27th, funding decisions would have had to be made even earlier than that. My question to the minister is, how is this process fair for child care centres that may have applied after funding decisions were already made?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. We have a variety of funding projects that we make available to the day care centres. There is the expansion fund, we have operational dollars, and it's a fair process where we lay out the criteria and as I mentioned yesterday, if there's any of that type of questioning that any of the honourable members have, we are more than willing to have staff sit down and go over those particular questions and answers for them.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I don't want her staff to answer those questions, I want this minister to stand on her feet in this House and answer those questions to the members of this House and answer those questions to the members of this House and to all Nova Scotians who want to know why these decisions were made before the application process was even completed.

Mr. Speaker, a gentleman in my area wrote me and told me that his application was denied. He doesn't know why it was denied, the staff don't know why it was denied. I want to know from this minister, was the fix in on this? Were these pre-selected before the application process was ever completed? That's the answer I want to know from this minister.

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, thank you to the honourable member for the question. What I would like to say to him is as I said before, we have a fair process,

[Page 1975]

there's a variety of different programs that we do have available. His concern, I will talk to staff about it because it could have been in reference to a different program and I can table and bring that information back.

As I said yesterday, we have nothing to hide. In fact, it is unfair for the honourable member to try to make out as if we're being unfair. Actually last year, with the expansion fund program, which has gone over three different years, 60 per cent of that funding went to the former government so the programs and the criteria are fair. (Applause)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not trying to say the process was unfair, I am saying it was unfair, to that minister. Obviously, based on her answer, she just doesn't know what is going on in her own department. How can you make awards to daycare centres before the application process is even finalized and finished? Now if the minister can tell me that, without asking me to go see people in her department, I'd be very happy to hear the answer. Tell me why these awards were made, before the deadline for applications is even met?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, what I'm trying to explain is that we have different deadlines, different programs that we do offer. For example, yesterday the indication from the honourable member was an unfairness in the Cape Breton area. I'd like to table the fact that we've had three rounds of expansion funds. In 2007 Cape Breton applied for three, they were approved for three. In round two they applied for one, were approved in one. (Interruptions) He doesn't care but yesterday he cared.

Mr. Speaker, in round three, which was our announcement this week, we had only four applications and two approved. So I'd like to table that to show that the process is absolutely fair. Thank you. (Applause)

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

COM. SERV.: SOCIAL HOUSING CONST. - SCHEDULE

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Community Services. I know the minister is aware of the pressing need to advance the federal-provincial housing agreement to realize both new social housing construction, as well as much-needed renovation. As the member for Victoria-The Lakes indicated yesterday, the agreement has been signed but there is no clear plan that has been presented to date. Can the minister inform the House what the current status is of the construction and renovation schedule and will she table a copy of the implementation plan to this House?

HON. DENISE PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, what I can report today is the fact that $54 million out of the $128 million for the stimulus funding is going towards renovations - $34 million of it has been spent to date, which means 950 units have been

[Page 1976]

completed. With respect to any of the schedules that we do have, I've always been open and honest that we can supply that information to the honourable member. Thank you.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, new social housing construction is essential and I recommend that it take place wherever the need is. However, the tenants in Cape Breton North are seeking renovations and retrofits to the current housing inventory. Would the minister commit to have her officials provide me with a report and plan for the Northside, as part of the wider delivery plan for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, absolutely, as I've always said, we will supply anybody, any of the honourable members, with the information that they request, thank you.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for her willingness to provide that plan. It is a very pressing matter and as I've said, while money is rolling out, there is a need in communities, and renovations, specifically in Cape Breton North, have been long overdue and are much anticipated.

For instance, the residents of the Devoe Street seniors complex, adjacent to Main St. in Sydney Mines, enjoy the location and the security of their complex. However, the interior condition has deteriorated and the tenants don't even have adequate kitchen cupboards anymore for their basic necessities. The seniors are very happy with their location but the overall condition is not suitable or adequate.

In fairness to the minister, it was anticipated that this provincial program would have been underway before but, Madam Minister, would you ask your officials to inspect the Devoe Street seniors complex and will the minister be able to provide me with a copy of the condition report as well as the accompanying scope of work that will ensue?

MS. PETERSON-RAFUSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact of the need for affordable housing and for the renovations. It's very important to our government and this is the largest renovation in the public housing system and building new housing in decades. Absolutely, the information that he requested will be provided to the honourable member. Thank you.

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

EDUC. - HRSB: PROV. INITIATIVES & GRANTS

- FUNDING REDUCTION

[Page 1977]

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Halifax Regional School Board budget summary for this year shows that funding for the provincial initiatives and grants has decreased by more than $6 million. When consulted about this reduction, the school board's finance department told us that there were four grant programs that have been cut by more than $2.5 million. These aren't just cuts that affect HRSB; these grant programs have been cut right across the province. My question to the minister is, why?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, as I explained during the Budget Estimates, most of the education budget is exactly the one that was presented in May by the former government. I believe at that time, they understood the growing fiscal reality of the province and had asked the department to come back with some cuts in expenditures. There was some consultation done to see where cuts could be made to do the least harm and there were some deferments of those expenditures.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, this government is being incredibly short-sighted when it comes to education in this province. Just look at the grants they've cut: the Literacy Improvement Initiative Grant, $461,000, cut; the Increased Learning Success Grant, $96,000, cut; the Innovation Challenge Fund, $351,000, cut.

Now, these grants reach out to children in need. They help literacy, something this minister has made several announcements about, and yet at the same time decides to cut funding. These grants are meant to foster learning among children in this province. My question to the minister responsible - how can you justify these cuts?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, as I've explained, these were decisions made by the former government and certainly all those issues will be reconsidered as we go forward with next Spring's budget. Thank you.

MS. REGAN: Mr. Speaker, it's not good enough to say the former government made the decision. You're on the government side of the House, you have to take responsibility for your decisions. Let's compare this government's actions with those in another province. Dalton McGinty made an announcement on full-day kindergarten in Ontario. Now this, despite a whopping deficit in the province, that Premier made it clear that education was a priority. When asked to justify his decision, he was unequivocal. This is what he said, "In a highly competitive, globalized, knowledge-based economy it is absolutely essential that we invest in the younger generation to ensure that we build a powerful workforce that can compete and win against the best anywhere on this planet."

He has outlined his priorities and stood firm on his convictions. My question to the minister is, what are your priorities?

[Page 1978]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, my government is quite clear in its priorities. They were certainly part of our campaign commitments, and we're working very hard to fulfill them. Certainly early learning and child care is a strong interest, and in fact the Minister of Community Services and I last night spent several hours with one of the major researchers on early learning and child care in Canada, Martha Friendly. It was a very interesting evening, and we heard a lot of good ideas and analysis of what's happening across Canada. Certainly our government, as well as going forward with our commitments, will be looking at new initiatives as we can afford them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

LWD - WCB UNFUNDED LIABILITY: GROWTH - DETAILS

HON. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. The question is, exactly how much has the Workers' Compensation Board's unfunded liability grown since April 2009, and what is the total unfunded liability debt today?

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the confidence that the honourable member has that I can remember all those facts and figures. (Laughter) I'll have to check with my department and get back to him on the specifics of his request. Thank you.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the board reported a total compensation loss of $248.6 million in its annual report, released in April 2009. Given that we are still in a global economic downturn, this is a massive debt and one that will be very difficult to overcome. My question to the minister is, what is your government going to do about this very serious situation?

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I believe the honourable member is aware that the Workers' Compensation Board is run by an arm's-length board of directors. Their funding comes from assessments of employers in this province, so they have the main responsibility. Certainly like all organizations, governments and individuals, they have suffered from the fiscal crunch that we're in. I know they have a very proactive, strong plan to deal with the recovery of that fund. Thank you.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, business must stay competitive in order to survive. It's even more important in today's struggle to recover. This escalation of unfunded liability is an added cost to businesses in Nova Scotia. It affects the competitiveness of all businesses in the province, large and especially small. This is a serious issue that deserves more than simply meeting over tea. My question to the Minister of Economic and Rural Development is, what direct action has the minister taken to ensure that the businesses do not suffer further?

[Page 1979]

HON. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, could I ask the member to repeat the question, please?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. COLWELL: I'd certainly be pleased to. Mr. Speaker, business must stay competitive in order to survive. It's even more important today as we struggle to recover. This escalation of unfunded liability is an added cost to the businesses of Nova Scotia. It affects the competitiveness of all business in the province, large and especially small. This is a very serious issue that deserves immediate attention and could result in very serious increases in costs to businesses. My question to the Minister of Rural and Economic Development is, what direct action has the minister taken to ensure that the businesses do not suffer further?

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I'm sort of torn here. There is a part of me that says that question should be tossed to the Minister of Labour and Workforce Development. (Interruptions)

HON. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I know that one of the areas of action that the Workers' Compensation Board is taking is to manage the risk in a more proactive way. So there are a number of sector councils set up to help people within the groups and businesses within those sectors to maintain higher safety records and to cut down on the incidents of injury and death. Certainly as those standards increase and those records improve, that's going to lower the cost to the employers.

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

HEALTH: CAREGIVER ALLOWANCE PROG. - CRITERIA

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health, and it deals with continuing care allowance. A constituent of mine in Ross Ferry, Sheila Barrington, has been turned down by what has rapidly become the infamous caregiver allowance. I use the term "infamous", minister, because Sheila has multiple sclerosis which you understand leaves one tired, affects their balance along with the strength of their bladder, and that's just for beginners. Sheila also suffers from epilepsy, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and depression due to illness.

Although she also meets the financial requirements, Mr. Speaker, she was turned down, and then her appeal was turned down. My question today is, what kind of caregiver allowance does your department have when you turn down people such as Sheila who are so much in need?

[Page 1980]

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the caregiver allowance that we have in our department is the caregiver allowance that was designed by the former government.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, the blame game continues, and this government has had since June to correct the problems that they see within the program.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, we have asked and encouraged you and your government to begin playing a leadership role on important issues, but we don't see any of that happening. Sheila Barrington received a letter that I will table from the Cape Breton District Health Authority turning her appeal down, stating: "Should your health status change, or if you feel we can assist you with any other services please call 1-800-225-7225 and you can have a reassessment completed or discuss any other needs with a Continuing Care Coordinator."

My question for the minister is, could she possibly explain what more Sheila would have to have wrong with her before she would be entitled to the Caregiver Allowance Program?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we have discussed this program here many times. This program, the caregivers program, was designed by the former government. It was intended to target low-income seniors with the greatest need based on a home assessment. If people in the assessment process were found not to have the highest level of need, using a home assessment tool, then they might not qualify for that. There is an appeal process, but not all appeals will be successful if the criteria aren't met. Our department is reviewing this process and our government has intention to bring forward our own in-home support program next year.

MR. BAIN: Mr. Speaker, through you and also to the Minister of Health, my final supplementary is short and sweet. The Caregiver Allowance Program is clearly not working. People are being left to suffer at home because your government is not prepared to inject a few more dollars into the program. Why don't you redirect some of that $81.4 million you have put in this year's budget to purchase land?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there are many worthy places where more money could be spent. We are certainly reviewing the current caregiver program. We are identifying whatever deficiencies there are in that program, with a view to developing our own in-home support program which we will bring forward in the upcoming budget in the Spring. Thank you very much.

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

[Page 1981]

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations on an introduction.

HON. RAMONA JENNEX: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is my pleasure to welcome to the House today three visitors. I have Weiying Zheng and her daughter Kathy Luo from Beijing. They are here visiting our beautiful province and they are guests of Marshall Tremblay. Marshall Tremblay is my constituency assistant.

I would also like to add that Kathy has just graduated in the Fall Convocation with her master's degree, and her mother is here visiting her at this time. So I welcome them and we are very pleased that you are here visiting us today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, before I call the order of business, may I be afforded an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Certainly.

MR. CORBETT: In the east gallery is a friend of many in this House and a long-time friend of mine, good Glace Bay roots, and he represented Cape Breton East for some time, Jeremy Akerman. Would you welcome Jeremy? (Applause)

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[3:52 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[4:04 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Charlie Parker, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 1 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 2 - Motor Vehicle Act.

[Page 1982]

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 chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 52 - Emergency Department Accountability Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the House this afternoon to talk about the Emergency Department Accountability Act, a bill that will

[Page 1983]

provide accountability to communities experiencing emergency department closures. Chronic short-term closure for emergency departments is a long-standing problem in Nova Scotia. This is a complex issue that will take time to address. This legislation enables government, district health authorities and communities to work through practical solutions together.

The introduction of this legislation will fulfill our commitment to provide ministerial accountability for emergency departments. This bill is focused on one aspect of the problem, which is information, consultation and reporting. District health authorities are already required, under existing legislation, to hold public forums. The new legislation requires consultation in these forums on emergency department closures and consideration of proposed community solutions. District health authorities must report to the minister about the results of these consultations, as well as on any potential closures. This legislation puts the right information in the right hands and ensures that district health authorities and communities are involved in the process.

Accountability is an important step in keeping emergency rooms open in our province. As Minister of Health in this Legislature these past weeks, I have been accountable to the people of Nova Scotia in Question Periods, through debates, in media scrums and interviews. This is the system we have and it's a great system. This bill requires further that the minister table a report for the people of Nova Scotia to see with respect to the operation of their emergency rooms, throughout the province, on an annual basis. At the same time, the minister has an accountability relationship with district health authorities. This legislation is about strengthening that relationship. All members of this House know that this is only one part of our plan to reduce wait times and improve the operation of emergency rooms throughout the province.

Dr. John Ross, a well-respected, very experienced emergency room physician is already hard at work as our emergency room adviser on this problem. We have other commitments that we will act upon during the course of this government's mandate, but today is about this legislation, a bill that is brief but big in meaning. In simple terms, the buck stops with the minister, and while the buck stops with the minister, it passes through a number of hands along the way, including district health authorities and communities. This bill defines and strengthens the accountability relationship every step of the way.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to stand and speak regarding Bill No. 52, the Emergency Department Accountability Act. In all honesty, I can't think of anyone, aside from myself in this House, other than the minister herself who stood on this side of the House when she was in Opposition, and I'll include the member for Sackville-Cobequid, both of them stood here hour after hour and debated and said many things about emergency room closures in Nova Scotia. I agree partly with the minister and

[Page 1984]

I agree that this bill is a step forward. Accountability is necessary in this issue. Where I tend to disagree is the fact that this may become part of the overall solution.

Mr. Speaker, we know, and we have known for years in this province - for years - that there is a problem with emergency room closures in Nova Scotia. The thousands and thousands of hours - it's true, Madam Minister, no one spoke more than you did on that very issue when you were on this side of this House, and you fervently said that something had to be done about this issue. You were very sincere - at least I thought you were at the time. You were very sincere in your challenges to the government of the day to try to come up with a solution to emergency room closures. I'll take you at your word that you're as sincere now as you were then in trying to find a solution to the problem with emergency room closures in this province.

We know that those thousands and thousands of hours are caused because many people in this province, whether they be in North Sydney or in Glace Bay or in Digby or wherever they may be - we know that the problem is they have nowhere else to go but an emergency room, because there's a lack of - whether the doctors' clinics are open, whether there are doctors indeed. That's why emergency rooms are clogged with - nothing more you can say but people who actually should not be there. We know that's a major problem.

There were studies done several years ago. The Murray report in Cape Breton identified that over 80 per cent of the people who attended ERs in New Waterford, Glace Bay, North Sydney, and Sydney probably would not be classified as emergencies. They should not be there. They went there simply because there was nowhere else to go, nowhere for them to get medical attention at that time of the day - usually in the evening or the early morning hours or overnight.

I welcome the fact that the minister has seen fit to include in this bill public forums. I think that's a key part of finding a solution to what's going on with this problem in this province, and I'm glad to see that there will be a proposed community solution to all of this.

I know, Mr. Speaker, that other members of my caucus want to talk on this. I'm sure the member for Dartmouth East has something to say about Dartmouth General Hospital - as a matter of fact, I can probably guarantee that - but I wanted to because, as a past Critic in the caucus for Health for several years, it was one of the major topics that we dealt with in this Legislature over at least the past five or six years, to my knowledge, and it's a problem that still exists.

Dr. Ross' appointment as an emergency room - he's a specialist, and we welcomed that. We do, we understand that it's going to take time and the minister has made reference: give us some time to try to find a solution to that problem. I'm also aware, as many Nova Scotians are aware, and as members of the NDP caucus are aware, that the minister has the experience in this field. She was a critic of this very field and this very subject for many,

[Page 1985]

many years. She knew the problem existed and she knew going into her Health portfolio that this problem was there and that it required immediate solution.

This problem does not go away - it will not go away overnight. I'm quite happy to stand here and say I agree with the minister that there is no overnight solution to the problem in ERs, but it is a problem that has been around for some time. Accountability, yes, is needed; it is always needed when we're talking about something as important as health care in this province, and a public forum is required. I dare say, Mr. Speaker, that we can't waste too much more time on an issue like this. We need some action. We need some kind of action from the Department of Health, from the minister who admits that the buck stops with the minister. It can go through the DHAs and it can go through the Department of Health, but ultimately the person who makes the final decision on such an important area as this in this province is the Minister of Health.

I'm not trying to preach to the minister. I know that the minister is well aware that the buck stops with her, and she's well aware that something has to be done about this, because as we stand here and speak, and the more time we delay, the more people are going to end up going to ERs that are not open, that are closed, more people who are not going to get the treatment that is necessary, and the more people who are going to stay home, whatever the case may be.

[4:15 p.m.]

We know that in times such as this, when we're dealing with pandemic illnesses, that ERs become even more important in this day and age. I again, as we move through second reading of Bill No. 52 and as it moves on to a stage of discussion, I encourage all members that if your area is affected by ER closures on a regular basis, as it is in my area - I often tell the story that at one point in time, the Cape Breton District Health Authority actually considered putting a sign at the bottom of South Street, where Glace Bay Hospital is located, that would flash whether or not the ER was open or closed, much as you would see if you were going to try to get the Englishtown Ferry on the way to Englishtown, whether the ferry was operating or not.

They thought that was a great idea. It's not bad to let people know, and advertise in papers, whether or not the ERs are closed. But imagine the thousands and thousands of dollars that have been spent so far telling people that their ERs are closed, whereas if a solution had been found to keep the ERs open, that money could have been used for another purpose somewhere else.

It may not amount to a great deal, but I'm sure there would be at least hundreds of thousands of dollars that have been spent on just advertising by the district health authorities to tell everyone that their ER is closed and they can't go there.

[Page 1986]

Again, I encourage the minister, and I encourage her as strongly as I possibly can, to take this by the horns and treat it with the seriousness that's required right now to finally find a solution in this province so that the people in this province are not living in a community where their ER is closed more often than it's opened. That is the case in many, many communities in this province.

We also learned not to think for a minute it can't happen in Capital District because it has happened in Capital District in the past years and it's happening right now. It spreads, Mr. Speaker, and it's not something that we want spreading across this province.

I know I'm going to be sharing my time with other members and they have other areas to speak about, but at this point in the debate, we will move along with second reading of Bill No. 52 and encourage public discussion, we encourage accountability on behalf of the minister, but most of all we encourage, and we hope, that a solution will finally be found to a problem that has been around for far too long. Thank you.

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak to this particular bill as many of us have first-hand experience, but also with the Northside General Hospital and also the Harbour View Hospital in my constituency, I'm very acutely aware of some of the pressures that we've been facing and what I can say is that when you look at the issues that have come forward, specifically with the emergency room at the Northside General Hospital and having to have patients diverted all the way over to Sydney, part of the challenges that we faced are ongoing, and I know in the last election it was very much at the forefront, at the doorstep, in people's minds, especially with their concerns.

The one thing I do know is the level of promises and commitments that were being made by the now government, the NDP, and that they were very clear that they had a definitive plan to deal with ER closures and people assumed that they had talked to their stakeholders and people assumed if they had worked out some form of plan or arrangement that when they would become a government that they would immediately implement.

What Nova Scotians have found out subsequently, and I'm sure there are candidates who ran for them who actually believed that promise as well, now what we see is some paperwork by virtue of a bill before the House with regard to accountability with our emergency departments. What we haven't had yet is accountability from the government about what they said, and what they promised, versus where they are with the delivery.

I do know that it's not just the Northside General Hospital, New Waterford Consolidated, Glace Bay General, all being directed from time to time, and on a more frequent basis, to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital. What we also know - and the minister referenced the $100,000 consultant who's working part time on a full-time, 24-hour-a-day

[Page 1987]

problem - in certain circles Dr. Ross is referred to as Agent Orange, that he's been assigned a task to do something that really has a hidden agenda.

That agenda, by virtue of the words from Dr. Ross himself, that closures and/or alternate plans would come forward and he hasn't dismissed that. What people are looking at with this paperwork is if you change things and have an independent person come in and recommend closures, then it gives the back door for the government to come in and basically walk away from emergency room delivery and care, and that's very disturbing when even before officially starting his work, he has indicated one of the planks of what he would consider.

For the minister to say that that's a plan - it's an atrocious one, if that's the case, because it is not meeting the needs. I know in Cape Breton North alone and the people who use the Northside General Hospital, a facility that was there for now over 50 years, providing excellent care, had been there, had been run at the time - because it was originally Saint Elizabeth's - when it was run by the nuns of the Catholic Church, which was a phenomenally-run and very excellently-run facility. It was expanded in the 1980s with much-needed extra capacity, and the concern that we have now is that we have a government that has a back-door plan to potentially close emergency rooms by virtue of just hiring someone for $100,000, two days a week, for what has been a massive political issue.

What I do know is that when I ran in the by-election in 2001, I know that the candidate of the day for the New Democrats was saying that our government's plan was to close the whole hospital. I had to fight a by-election campaign on the fact that the Tories were going to shut down the Northside General Hospital, that they were going to eliminate it totally, and just use that as an excuse. Well, what I do know is post-June 9th, and after going to those doorsteps, I can go back with great conviction and say that I have never misled my constituents. I never misspoke when it came to making promises I knew I couldn't actually deliver on, and the people of Cape Breton North now are breathing a sigh of relief that they have somebody in this Legislature who actually stood on conviction and stood about working through and managing the real issues rather than promising something we knew wasn't there, but working on a real plan in this province.

So now we have this bill with regard to emergency rooms and accountability, but it falls far short. It's paper, and what it really is, is a way for the minister and the government - while I won't take away from the overall merit of the bill, it really is just another step in a process to getting to a plan she says she has, but has never been able to produce a single document other than this piece of paper and other than writing a cheque for $100,000 to get a consultant in for two days a week. That's all we've heard of this plan, but Nova Scotians were led to believe that they immediately had worked a thorough comprehensive plan that was going to deal effectively with ERs.

[Page 1988]

So the accountability may be for emergency departments, but we have no accountability measures brought in by the minister or the government, and that is going to be the larger test - not just accountability at an ER level, it is going to be the accountability of this government to go back to Nova Scotians and actually say that they were going to do something. I can put on the record, Mr. Speaker, if in that report from Dr. Ross there are a series of recommendations about closing or consolidating ERs, then there was never a plan by the NDP other than a backroom-, back-door plan, to try to get their way out of a problem. I can tell them, they'll know that that's not going to wash, and let alone for us, who are 21 in the Opposition ranks, we'll be able to hold our heads high and deal with the issue, but it doesn't take away from the fact we have people who have no answers with the ERs right now.

So with this, Mr. Speaker, comes a framework for a bill. Supposedly it's part of a plan - there's never been even a piece of paper articulated by the minister or the government, or where it came from. However, on the merit of the bill, one can't argue with it, but one can argue greatly with regard to the intentions of the government around this. So with that, I know the people of Cape Breton North and those who utilize the Northside General Hospital are going to be watching very closely what this government's so-called plan is, and I would like to have more confidence that the government truly did have a plan, but they don't. She says this is the next step in that plan but can't produce a plan, can't produce any timelines, can't show any budget estimates, can't deal with the doctors' recruitment, staffing of personnel, can't even maintain nurse practitioners in a much-needed rural area as we've seen recently brought forward from the Digby area. So if you can't even deal with one health professional and show that leadership, how can Nova Scotians expect that they really have a plan when it comes to dealing with ERs throughout this province?

You can't get one employee, a co-ordinator, can't show leadership on one nurse practitioner that they would have - if it was the other way around - been crying bloody murder, but the minister has refused. The member for Digby-Annapolis knows, and he knows the local grassroots community aspect, and we can see the people who were here in the House. It is not very difficult political math to know that what we really have from a Party that talks about democracy and democratic adherence, yet we have an employee who actually spoke their mind about something and then were penalized by having their contract cancelled, and yet the people don't have the care they need.

So how can I reasonably listen to a minister here talking about ERs all over the province? How can anyone effectively believe, in essence, that they're sincere and their intentions are going to be met and they really are going to deal with a very massive, multi-million dollar issue, and what's more importantly, affecting the lives of Nova Scotians?

The government has raised the bar when it comes to the fear factor with Nova Scotians, because Nova Scotians now know that there isn't a plan, but there is a piece of

[Page 1989]

legislation, and the merits of the legislation you can't discount, but at the same time, it really is reflective and indicative of something that has been a very shortcoming of this government. However, we will support the bill going forward, and I thank the House for the time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MR. ANDREW YOUNGER: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments about Bill No. 52, which interestingly enough, while it's titled an Act to Provide Accountability Respecting Hospital Emergency Departments, it would probably be better off being called either the "Emergency Room Reporting Act" or the "ER Paperwork Creation Act".

The thing about this is - and I'm going to read from it - it's an odd bill, the way it's worded, in fact, because it actually talks about reducing wait times in the preamble clauses, and it talks about overcrowding and wait times, and yet the problem is that the bill then goes on to address all kinds of issues about closure, but in the actual language of the bill, it never once talks about the issue of overcrowding beyond the preamble.

So I'm not exactly sure who wrote this bill, but the preamble and what's in the legal language of the bill later on don't actually match, which is very peculiar to me.

Mr. Speaker, as my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton North, suggested, it's not that what this bill is trying to do is a bad thing, because it's not. I think we all want to see accountability, but you begin this bill with two preamble clauses, and the first one says ". . . keeping hospital emergency departments open. . . " is a ". . . Government of Nova Scotia responsibility;". All right, that's fine. But then the second one says that when it comes to things like overcrowding and wait times, well, that's the responsibility of the district health authorities. So it divides the responsibility between the district health authorities and the Government of Nova Scotia and, by default, the minister.

I have a lot of trouble with that, because if the government is truly going to take accountability, it all comes back to the minister, because the district health authorities can only operate within the budget envelope that's provided by the Minister of Health.

So I would respectfully submit that that should be changed and that the entire element of this should be the responsibility of the Government of Nova Scotia, not just one portion of it, and if they want a second preamble that suggested the district health authorities have a joint relationship, that's fine, but in fact, the district health authorities are not the ones who are ultimately responsible for overcrowding because they don't control the purse strings and they don't control the regulations that they have to operate under - the Minister of Health does. So it's actually a shift of responsibility for the issue of overcrowding.

[Page 1990]

Nonetheless, despite the fact that the second preamble discusses overcrowding and the district health authorities, I can't find anything else in the bill - there's a page and a half to this bill - I can't find anything else in this page and a half of the bill that actually discusses reporting related to overcrowding. I'm not sure why because the preamble suggests that the bill is actually going to get into the issue, but it doesn't.

[4:30 p.m.]

Obviously you get past the definitions and you have Section 4 where it talks about an ongoing pattern of closure. Okay, that's really important and I agree with the government. It is important that ongoing patterns of closure be reported to the public, be reported to the minister, be reported to the House, for that reason. The public needs to know what's going on, the public needs to know what should be happening. They talk about consultation and they talk about the district health authority reporting for a potential closure, which I think they do now but that's fine, it's in the bill, there's nothing wrong with that and it goes on.

You'd think that when you get to page two that what would happen is you'd have the section on overcrowding, which is referred to in the second preamble. This isn't something that I'm just pulling out of the blue that I think the government should put in this bill. It's the fact that the government wrote it in their own preamble for the bill, yet it doesn't appear in any of the legal language - it's really peculiar. The first preamble has been dealt with, but not the second one, and I'm not sure why because the second page of the Act really just suggests that there will be a report annually on closures and that the bill will come in force when the government and council order it.

My hope is that the Minister of Health, as this goes through the process - I assume that the government is going to want to move this forward in this session of the Legislature - and I would hope that the Minister of Health is prepared to bring forward some amendments to deal with the second preamble, because at the moment the bill is silent on that issue of overcrowding. I know that the minister understands how serious the issue of overcrowding is. The honourable colleague from Glace Bay mentioned the Dartmouth General and it's not just the Dartmouth General. That happens to be the one that's having serious issues this week, and seems to be in a bit of a crisis situation, but there are other hospitals in Nova Scotia that are not necessarily closing but are facing overcrowding situations.

I have no doubt that to some extent that's been going on for a few years, but the fact is that it has gotten worse and we should expect that's going to get worse as the flu pandemic spreads across Nova Scotia. We're already seeing people turning up in emergency rooms and so forth, and that's leading to some of the overcrowding, although not all of it. Not all the overcrowding can be traced back to the flu.

[Page 1991]

Obviously the next step for this is the Law Amendments Committee and so forth, and so I'm hoping in that process the Minister of Health and the government has heard my concern here that this bill would appear to deal solely with the first preamble on closures with no language in this bill related, other than the preamble, to deal with reporting mechanisms and reporting of the overcrowding and wait times. I'm hopeful that the government will bring forward some amendments as this process moves forward and before we hit third reading, to provide similar reporting mechanisms that are provided in this bill for the closures, to also provide similar reporting mechanisms for overcrowding and the various levels of Code Census. I'm sure there are other levels in the chain throughout the process.

With that, I eagerly look forward and hope that the minister will bring forward such amendments for the House to consider in the coming days. Thank you.

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand in my place and speak on Bill No. 52, an Act to Provide Accountability Respecting Hospital Emergency Departments.

As you know, in this House, in the past three weeks, I've spoken a little, especially in Question Period, about the problems in Digby. I noticed today that the minister stated that this bill would create a better relationship with the DHA and the DHAs of this province, and I'm hoping that's true, because the relationship for the last three weeks, what we've seen in southwest Nova Scotia, especially in the Digby and Long Island area - the relationship didn't seem to be too strong between the minister and the DHA of that area. It almost seemed like there was no relationship whatsoever because that's what the people continuously told me down there, that there's something wrong with the Minister of Health, of this province, and between the CEO of the DHA in Yarmouth because there didn't seem to be any communication. It seemed like the DHA in Yarmouth was doing what he felt best that he could do there in that situation that has gone on there with the nurse practitioner, and the Minister of Health seemed to be not stepping in at all to take control, like the minister is supposed to in this department. Anyway, I hope that statement she made is true, and I hope that that is in this bill.

I want to speak about the Digby emergency room just for a few moments. I want to tell you how bad a situation it is there. There's one doctor down there, Dr. Ron we call him, and he's a wonderful man. He's been in the Digby area for the last couple of years. I think he has come to the point in his life where he can't handle the situation in Digby anymore. I've spoken to him a few times. He can't handle it because he's all alone down there and the people just seem to pile into the ER in Digby because they have no place to go. When they get sick, they have no doctor. A lot of people lost their family doctor down there - I know I have myself.

[Page 1992]

I had problems here a month or so ago and I ended up driving to Fall River to see a doctor who used to be in Digby - he moved out of the Digby area to come to Fall River. I had to travel over two hours to find a doctor, after having a heart attack. So I know what the people are going through, I'm going through it with them down there.

We have a doctor who is trying to run the situation that is going on, but he is getting ready to pack up and leave. So in July, the end of July this year, he contacted me and he said, Mr. Theriault, can you set me up a meeting with the Minister of Health of this province? I said, I sure can, I sure can try. So I tried to set a meeting up with the Minister of Health and him because I read the reasons he wanted to see the minister and I sent them along to the minister's office. I don't know whether they were ever received, but I have had correspondence back here lately saying I guess they do recognize that I'm trying to get this meeting with Dr. Ron, because Dr. Ron has some great ideas. He studied that problem in Digby with the overcrowding of the emergency room, and it is overcrowded - there are hundreds and hundreds of people down there, thousands of people, without a doctor.

One of the ideas he has - and I wish I had that document with me, I could table it here in this House, and I may yet before we are done, but one of the ideas was to have more nurse practitioners in the Digby area. If we had more nurse practitioners, it would take a lot of strain off the emergency room. You know, with enough nurse practitioners there, people are telling me, we may not even need an emergency room - that's what the nurse practitioners could do for that area.

Here we had one nurse practitioner down there, these past three weeks, who was willing to even work more than she was supposed to, and the CEO of the DHA down there - for not communicating well with the minister of this province and with the people - was going to let her go because she was working too hard.

Now I've been in business all my life, Mr. Speaker, and if I let the people who worked for me go for working too hard, I'd have been out of business long ago, I think. I always rewarded the people who worked too hard for me and still do, and always will. But it seems like in that DHA down in that area - if you work too hard, you're all done. Anyway, this is one of Dr. Ron's recommendations, that we have more nurse practitioners to ease up the problem in the ER.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is going to provide accountability respecting our emergency rooms. I hope somewhere in this bill that it creates a different atmosphere than what's in Digby, because if we keep going on in Digby the way we're going, there are going to be big problems. There are big problems there now, but it's even going to get bigger, because if Dr. Ron walks away from that ER in Digby I'm scared to say what's going to happen - I'm scared to think what's going to happen.

[Page 1993]

We need to correct this situation and it has got to be corrected soon in this province, especially in the Digby area that I know best.

So with those few words about the problems we have down there, Mr. Speaker, I hope that this bill goes through and I hope that it's acted upon, and with that, I'll take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Argyle.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to speak for a few moments on Bill No. 52, an Act to Provide Accountability Respecting Hospital Emergency Departments. I want to thank the minister and her office for providing me with a small briefing and an update on this bill before it came into the House. I think it's very important that we have an idea of the workings of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I see a pretty hollow bill sitting before us today when it comes to all the promises that have come from the NDP over the last number of months, years, and of course during the election. In the document that I've tabled on many occasions within this House of Assembly, "Keep emergency rooms open and reduce health care waits" and if I read what's in that promise that the NDP made during the election, what I didn't see anywhere in there is, create more red tape for the DHAs. I mean, really, if we look at what's happening here, there's a reporting requirement from the DHAs - so that is more paperwork.

There is another piece - to continue to consult - and all DHAs that I'm aware of, the ones that I was able to work with, consulted with their communities on many topics over and over again. So I'm uncertain of what benefit will be gained by this document. All I can figure is that because there were no great ideas on how to fix the problem, after they finally got into the department and realized that what we were telling them was that this was not an easy task and that it will not happen quickly - well we've got to put some kind of smokescreen in place here in order to make it look like we're doing things.

Mr. Speaker, I'm just going to look maybe clause by clause and wonder aloud of what possibly this is going to do to keep emergency rooms open, because that's what this is about. This is keeping emergency rooms open and so I'm going to go to a couple of clauses and wonder aloud on some of these. (Interruption) Oh, no, I'm not going clause by clause, but I'm going to bring a couple of these issues here and wonder aloud. I can wonder aloud on these things; I can talk to the House. I have a whole hour to talk to the House if I so well please - and I wasn't planning on it.

So I've got a couple of questions that I'm going to wonder aloud and I'm going to leave it at that. I know the Government House Leader is a little worried that I might go my full hour here, but of course it's my right to do that here. So I'm just going to look at clause -

[Page 1994]

I mean there are not a lot of clauses in here, thankfully, to go for. This is, again, a pretty hollow bill.

"Where the emergency department of a district health authority has experienced an ongoing pattern of closure of the emergency department since the last public forum . . ."- that they've got to hold another public forum. So a requirement, of course, that they're going to have to have another public forum because the emergency room is closed. Well, I can only imagine how many public forums they're going to have to have in Digby, or how many public meetings they're going to have to have in New Waterford, let's say, or I can go through the list of emergency rooms that will continue, even after this NDP is long gone, to experience problems with their emergency rooms.

[4:45 p.m.]

So, okay, they're going to have to consult. I would rather the health authority and the health professionals work in the emergency room. The public knows what's going on.

The second one, " The consultation must include consideration. . ." blah, blah, blah, provide alternative funding and ". . . provide alternative health services." That's the one that picks me the deepest here, which is Clause 4(2). Really, what that means is that after consulting with the community - there really is no solution. Many of these situations are lack of a doctor, lack of professionals and we can go on from there. Well, having a public consultation is not going to change the fact that there's no doctor. It's not going to change the fact that there's no nurse practitioner.

Saying maybe we should find some alternate health services, what that really means is that the emergency room will be closed permanently. It'll be called something else, a public health clinic or nurse practitioner clinic - whatever.

We can just see a lot of reporting requirements on the DHA. Reporting by the DHA is one thing, what that really creates is a dollar value. There needs to be a dollar amount set to all this reporting. I don't know if the minister knows, but these districts are pretty tight with their dollar and they work to the end, and over the last number of years have been almost bang on budget. There haven't been a lot of dollars to spare for extra documents, extra reporting time, extra accounting and whatever else that needs to go with what's being asked for here. I wonder aloud whether there's been a consultation with the district to say, how much might this cost to do?

If we move on, Clause 6 is really to provide that annual report, so somebody within the department is going to have to prepare a report. Again, it's going to have to print more paperwork, more work for the Clerks, they will have to take this in and give it a number and all that stuff that happens within this Legislature. But what did that do to keep emergency rooms open? Nothing, that's what it did, nothing.

[Page 1995]

So, really, what I would call this bill, if I were to put a name change in, maybe we'll do this in third reading or Committee of the Whole House, we'll just call it, "Blame the DHA Act". Or, maybe we could call it the "More Red Tape Act". What does it give? It's not fulfilling a campaign promise at all.

I don't see it here, the minister is speaking aloud here, maybe she'll address this when she sits here. I'm going to read this. I know I'll probably take a couple of laughs and some hollers from the NDP, but I think this is a good opportunity to read it out loud so everybody can hear it.

No. 2 "Keep emergency rooms open and reduce health care waits." I'll point to you when I want you guys to laugh, okay? They need the direction, especially the backbenchers, they seem to be muzzled an awful lot so we'll just tell them when to laugh and when not to laugh. "Too often Nova Scotians are turned away from closed emergency rooms, or forced to wait too long for the care that they need." Sounds like what's going on right now.

"You just can't count on Rodney MacDonald's Conservatives when it comes to health care." Okay, jeers now. Oh, they're not going to jeer. That's surprising, they're not going to jeer. "If anything, waits have gotten worse. Darrell Dexter and the NDP will open the hospital beds needed to ease ER overcrowding, and we'll recruit doctors to cover hard- to-fill shifts so emergency rooms can remain open. We'll improve access to primary care . . ."

I'm going to try to read this like maybe the commercial, "We'll improve access to primary care by reducing paperwork for family doctors, and boosting collaborative care with more nurse practitioners." Well, they already fired one of them. "The NDP will reduce wait times for surgery with Pre-Hab teams, and improve the focus on preventive care and disease reduction. We will make more effective use of prescription drugs. Each step in the NDP plan means more Nova Scotians can receive care when they need it, rather than waiting as their health gets worse."

Okay, I'm just wondering in here where it said that we need an accountability act, or more red tape or blame the DHA. I don't see that in here. Maybe if I looked behind where all these little check marks are - there's a whole bunch of check marks.

Under No. 2. Keep emergency rooms open and reduce health care waits:

Open the hospital beds needed to admit patients stuck in overcrowded ERs - that's constructive, that's a good suggestion and I would support that, but they're not doing that, they're creating a bill to create more paperwork.

[Page 1996]

Emergency Department Protection Fund to hire needed doctors, keep ERs running - great, that's a great suggestion and I'd support that, but that's not creating a bill that doesn't do anything.

Open Cobequid Community Health Centre 24/7, including 3 additional assessment bed capacity- I'm very glad the member for Sackville-Cobequid supports this one as well.

Provincial Advisor to lead Emergency Care Improvement - well there you go, that's one thing they actually did that they said they were going to do.

Ministerial accountability for Emergency Departments - well, the minister in her opening (Interruption) I'll give a check mark because the minister in her opening remarks said the buck stops with her.

But she's hoping (Interruption) I'm not bitter at all, I'm glad they are government today because Nova Scotians will finally see that they have hollow promises and they haven't got a clue - that's what they're going to see. (Interruption) Oh, they're more than risky, they're dangerous.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on for a long time on this one, but I see we're really getting close to the supper hour and I need to really dig into this bill. This bill is so deep it's going to take me hours and hours to review as we go forward. So I'm going to reflect on it some more and maybe come back another day, and maybe we'll talk about Agent Orange, we'll talk about Code Orange at the ERs and we'll talk about Dartmouth General Hospital and the problems they're having that are not addressed in any of this.

Mr. Speaker, for the meantime I'll adjourn debate on Bill No. 52.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 52.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Acting Premier.

HON. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that concludes our business for today. Tomorrow we will be doing Public Bills for Third Reading and, if time allows, we will do Bill Nos. 14, 17 and 20, and Bill Nos.30 and 50 for second reading. The hours will be from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1997]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The late debate topic was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton North:

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

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

PREM.: ER CLOSURES - END

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise for this debate. It's kind of ironic that it just flowed out of the legislation we were just talking about regarding emergency room accountability.

As I stated in my comments on that particular bill, what we haven't had is accountability from the minister or the government. While in her debate she said the buck stops with her - what we do know, it obviously is the case because the government is not putting the bucks where they are needed, and spreading them around in the areas to help people that they promised they would deal with, with regard to ER closures, and to the point, Mr. Speaker, that we now are concerned about our ERs that have already been stressed. The government has not dealt with them, and now we have citizens who are not sure about the H1N1 vaccination program and/or the regular flu shots - citizens don't know.

Sometimes the government says we'll put it in the paper. Well, the minister and the government have to recognize there are many Nova Scotians who don't receive a paper, don't have access to newspapers and, quite frankly, there are a lot of Nova Scotians who don't have the luxury of spending those extra dollars, so they're left to go to where they know, and because we have challenges they look to ERs to try and deal with these things.

Now they're hearing from their friends and their neighbours and in media reports elsewhere that there are further concerns. There is another problem we're going to have with

[Page 1998]

our ERs, and that is where we're seeing a very large concern about the delay in getting vaccinations out for H1N1, and the fact that doctors are not getting - they're being told by the minister's office they cannot get the regular flu shot provided to them. They're making requests and those doctors have to put up a roulette wheel and spin it to see which patient deserves it or not, and they're being told the supply is limited, which is very concerning. So they can't get it at their doctor's office, so then where do they go? Well, the only place they otherwise know is to go to an ER because the government has not had a proper schedule, has not dealt with our emergency rooms properly.

Here we have in the Cape Breton District Health Authority 8 - I know as I've spoken about the Northside General Hospital and the concerns about the emergency room there, and I dealt with, in an election campaign, an NDP candidate who was constantly going on about their plan - the NDP plan - with regard to emergency room closures. We now know that that was not even a sincere promise, because there is no plan - there hasn't been one piece of paper other than a platform document that said that they had a plan, and we assumed it was well thought out and, in fact, the only thing that was well thought out was a political strategy rather than a people strategy to deal with their health care needs.

The spin doctors within the NDP camp were effective, and I guess we have to give them that because they were able to entice Nova Scotians to give their brand of politics a try. Well, their brand of politics is searing the backsides of most Nova Scotians because they're getting turned away from the ER rooms; they're getting no proper attention from the minister and her department, that her ability to deal with this effectively is really not. The buck might have stopped with her, but, again, the real impact is the fact that the government is bucking Nova Scotians on a very important matter, and that's the ERs.

When they had a choice, as was stated, to do something constructive, to help the people who are providing health services, they take away a nurse practitioner who could have been providing vaccinations because she was a capable, competent person - but they eliminate that. Then in the House the minister gets up and states, well, here's the schedule, which five, six, seven weeks away for people who are looking for vaccinations now, who are looking for a government that should have clarity.

So they had no plan with regard to ERs, they have no plan other than what is being cobbled together with regard to a proper management of a very serious matter that's concerning Nova Scotians. When they've been turned away from these clinics, they'll be turning to their doctors who have been restricted supply of vaccinations for the regular flu as well as for their H1N1. Then where do they go? Again, as I've stated before, they will go to the ER rooms that are already stressed and/or closed and send them someplace else.

[5:00 p.m.]

[Page 1999]

There is no plan to effectively deliver to Nova Scotians that are most in need. I know in my own case, if you're at the Northside General Hospital and the ER is shut down there, you have to go to the regional hospital. Unless you have transportation, and many people don't, seniors and low-income households or persons who don't have that - well, I can tell the minister doesn't appreciate the fact that it's at least a $25-plus cab ride each way to get to that hospital for the ER, and then they're afraid to pick up the phone and call for emergency assistance because if they call 911, they're panicked that they're going to get a bill for an ambulance ride if it's deemed it wasn't really an emergency, even though they needed health care.

That's what we're up against, and that's what we had with the New Democrats that got up and said they had a plan, and all they've done is purposely turn their backs on Nova Scotians for crass political purposes to get their ranks over there from 31, 32 seats. Well, they have them now, but what they have failed to recognize is that they have to go to the doorsteps that I had to go to and try to convince people there was something sincere in their platform. They know it from the coffee shops, they know it from the corridors of the community halls, they know it - that the sound is resonating rather hollow in the emergency rooms in the hospitals in their regions. They know that they won it and were willing to get power at any cost, and we now see they're willing to do anything with power at any cost to Nova Scotians, and that is just not right. It is not right, it is not fair, but the day of reckoning will come for the now government. Their majority will quickly be emaciated when they find that Nova Scotians do and are capable of recognizing when a promise has been made and when a promise has not been kept. The New Democrats are finding it not just on health care, but other things.

So they've disappointed people with ERs they have no ability to properly fund, they passed the buck to the DHAs - so a leadership issue comes up and the minister says the buck stops with her, well she keeps the buck and blames the DHAs. We see it with the government when they can't even do gas regulation, we'll put that to the UARB. They move everything out to some other outside agency if it's tough or contentious, find a way to get the back door open and get it off our desks so we can blame it someone else.

They're doing it with their outside consultants. They're spending money - drunken sailors couldn't spend money the way they've been spending it on consultants to give them advice that they only turn around, and then don't take it anyway, and then add hundreds of millions of dollars on the backs of Nova Scotians for the debt burden of this province.

Then when they were supposed to be responsible, they eliminated the provisions even in the Financial Measures Act to dealing with recognizing and paying off the deficits that they accumulate. So what we do know is that they have been prepared to spend recklessly, for hundreds of millions of dollars, yet are not prepared to invest in people and/or the supplies they need, and the supports they need, and that's why we're here again talking about ER closures.

[Page 2000]

You know, since they've come to government - almost six months now, Mr. Speaker, of having a plan that they said they had and then it turns out that they have nothing. The minister, the Premier, the Cabinet, not a single member of that government can produce a single sheet of paper to articulate what the NDP plan is for ERs.

They have not been able to do one single thing, but they're trying to do management, basically, by the day, by the hour, by the minute and what they're finding is they're making some quick decisions. They're trying to say, well, we'll put some legislation for it, that'll give us cover and that will keep people busy, but all they're doing is putting legislation in that gives more pressure to administrators to follow up on but does nothing for the front lines, does nothing to keep our ERs open. They haven't dealt with the doctor recruitment, the professionals. When they have an ability to do and provide leadership, they walked away from that, and that is with the most recent nurse practitioner.

So, if you can't show leadership for one single position and a community that comes all the way - 70 of them came to this legislative building from down in Digby County and came here with the member for the area and say, we are saying to the minister we want you to be involved, we want you to use your executive authority to do something for the people, and she won't do that. If she can't even make one human resource decision, and that's to tell a DHA to stop playing petty politics with people in their community when they have a need, and a person capable of doing it, but because they disagree with the person's personal opinion on something, just speaking out is not what's allowed.

We know that from the government side, because their members aren't allowed to speak out. We've known about the muzzles that have been put on. If it doesn't come from Chairman Dexter and the head of the socialist regime (Interruption) then nothing can be said or done. We know that. The member for Queens, who I'm assuming, because her podium is out, must be going to speak next, she's going to probably tell us how she campaigned to tell people they had a plan for ERs, yet they have no plan. Maybe the minister gave her a piece of paper with a plan, and I would be happy to hear from the member for Queens to present to us how it is. Because I know one thing, I will gladly go to any door in Cape Breton North and defend our past record because it is now up to the member for Queens and her government to start determining what their record is, other than the broken one we've heard so far.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place to speak to this very important resolution on emergency department closures all across this province.

I'm pleased to stand here and also give kudos to our Health Minister on this side of the House who has been working for the past four to five months on ensuring that the

[Page 2001]

problems faced by ERs across this province will, indeed, have some resolution over the next couple of years.

We all recognize, on this side of the House, that this has been a longstanding problem in our ERs. It just hasn't happened overnight. These problems with ER closures, within our health care system here in the province, they have been long-standing problems and certainly have been developing over the past decade or more.

We know on this side of the House that it will take time to address these problems, and we have started. Our Minister of Health on this side of the House has wasted no time in putting together plans and finding solutions to keeping ERs open and keeping our commitment as government. The previous government only acted on this problem - a decades-old or more problem - of ER closures, only on the eve of an election in the minister's backyard. We committed and will continue to commit to addressing these problems for all Nova Scotians, and from a system perspective and not political one-offs.

Presently our minister is working and taking action as we committed to during the election. Dr. Ross is already on the job, Mr. Speaker. He is aware of the challenges in the Capital District Health Authority, and he has met with the deputy minister already on potential in-term and short-term actions to relieve the pressures of our ERs across this province. New beds have been added. Dr. Ross also has a work plan which will see him visiting facilities and staff in DHAs across the province and reporting back his advice to the deputy minister.

This will inform future short-term actions. DHAs have been told they have more flexibility in their funding arrangements to find locums, but we know on this side of the House - and our Minister of Health is very much aware - that chronic and systematic problems this long in the making won't be addressed overnight, and certainly not within a few short months of governing on this side of the House. We need to be realistic. We need to look at the fact that these problems in ERs, again, are decades old. They cannot be solved in a few short months. There are a lot of issues that have resulted over the years in terms of ER closures and it's just not finding that simple one cure-all solution.

Unlike the Opposition, we will not tell Nova Scotians that there is a magic wand to solve these problems. There is no magic wand. What we told Nova Scotians in the election - and now - is the truth. It is a big, complex, longstanding problem that has been neglected for far too long, but we also told Nova Scotians that we had a plan, and that's what we are implementing, and that's what our Minister of Health has been working on for the past four to five months since we have taken this side of the House.

It began with Dr. Ross. Yesterday the minister introduced a bill - Bill No. 52 - which was passed today in this House that would strengthen the reporting and accountability relationships, Mr. Speaker, and that's a good thing. That is a responsible move to a

[Page 2002]

longstanding problem that will help to start finding resolution to ER closures in this province. In and of itself, it won't fix the problem - we realize that, and the minister realizes that it alone will not fix the problem to ER closures in this province, but it is an important piece of the complex puzzle of ER closures. We said as a government that we would be accountable to Nova Scotians. This will help do that, and that's what we committed to in the election.

In the coming months we will implement additional measures including recommended actions by Dr. Ross, but also additional beds where needed and an emergency department protection fund, and that is another responsible action and responsible solution to a possible resolution to ER closures across this province. We also know that addressing this problem requires doctors and nurses, and actions like this will help recruit and retain those good doctors and nurses for this province.

Our Minister of Health has been giving due diligence to the problems of ER closures in this province. Our minister is committed to finding the most reasonable and the most responsible solutions that in the end, and over the next few years, will certainly see positive results to some of the crises we see in emergency departments all across this province.

We shall not forget that these are just not overnight solutions that are going to help solve this crisis; this is about good planning, good governance, accountability by this government and by this Minister of Health for this government. We will ensure that we are accountable to the people of Nova Scotia and the commitments this government made during that election.

We will commit to working with all stakeholders in finding these solutions. I admire and feel quite confident in our Minister of Health, in this government, who has been acting as quickly as possible given the few short months that we have been on this side of the House, to move forward with positive action on a long-standing crisis in this province over the past decade or more. I feel quite confident, standing in my place on behalf of this government and discussing this very important issue, that we, as representatives on this side of the House, and I know all members of this House, are very concerned about the growing problems within our health care system.

I can tell you, this government and this Minister of Health, our Minister of Health, are committed to finding those resolutions to the problems we are faced with in health care today. One of them, and a very important one of them, the one we're debating here tonight, is the problem of ER closures all across this province. Each and every one of our communities that have a hospital that has faced closures - we know the impact that it has on our community members. We know the difficulty that it is for staff and doctors to manage those closures, to not be able to deliver the care in their communities that they have trained for, that they are committed to providing that good health care.

[Page 2003]

We also know, Mr. Speaker, that this government and this Minister of Health on this side of the House has been working diligently at finding those solutions. I trust that the members on the other side of the House, given time, will recognize that this government is committed, that this government has been working diligently, and that they'll also recognize that this is just not an easy crisis to fix. It can't be fixed in four months, and they know that, we know that. So obviously the good members on the other side of the House also recognize that these long-standing problems of closures in our communities across this province cannot possibly be fixed in a few short months.

So we, on this side of the House, have trust and faith in our government, in our Minister of Health, giving good accountability and coming up with productive solutions - that eventually, over the next couple of years, we will see some positive results in the crisis that we are facing today in our emergency rooms. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to debate this serious topic.

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

MS. KELLY REGAN: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased today to rise to speak to the topic of emergency room closures, although I'm not pleased that we are forced to be discussing this still because really, from day one the NDP has approached governing from the same perspective as the last government did - it's good enough, it's good enough.

[5:15 p.m.]

The member opposite discussed a magic wand. There's no magic wand. In fact, I would say that the magic wand was the NDP campaign document, because they were so sure that this was some sort of magic panacea that was going improve everything. If we look at the campaign document, they said, "You just can't count on Rodney MacDonald's Conservatives when it comes to health care. If anything, waits have gotten worse." Guess what? In the last five months, if anything, ER closures have gotten worse. Point 2 goes on to say, "Each step in the NDP plan means more Nova Scotians can receive care when they need it rather than waiting as their health gets worse."

I would suggest to you that if we are waiting because our local ER is closed, then, in fact, our health is getting worse. In fact, since this government came to office, we have seen more than 4,000 hours of closures since June 10th, the day this government took power; his equates to more than 166 days. They have had five months to make improvements. They kept talking all through the election about this plan, the plan to fix ERs, the plan to fix ERs, and in fact, what we discovered upon arriving here in the House is that there was no plan. The plan was to hire a physician to come in part time and come up with a plan. There was no plan.

[Page 2004]

Over and over again, on a variety of issues, what we hear from this government is, it's good enough, it's what the last bunch did so I guess that's good enough for Nova Scotians, and it's not good enough. It's high time this government stopped blaming others and start governing. They were elected by the people of Nova Scotia to point to solutions, not to point fingers.

Speaking of points, emergency rooms have become the first point of access to our health care system. They have become the places where people in communities go to access primary care. They now function as doctors' offices. Why is this happening? Well, we have doctors going off and doing locums in Ontario, and they're doing that because they ( a) know in advance when they're going to be needed and ( b) they can make a lot more money going there. That problem could be solved with some planning and a little bit of money. But, do we see that? No, we do not.

Multiple hospitals and facilities in adjoining communities are facing closures on the same day. That has a cascading effect on our regional hospitals and it puts tremendous pressure on them as well. The one thing we've seen in this last little while is that the government has appointed a very learned person to be our ER adviser. But what we need to see now is the plan that the NDP supposedly had when they promised to keep emergency rooms open. There is no plan.

This NDP Government has not been able to effectively produce a plan for emergency rooms, for caregivers, for nurse practitioners, for community clinics or for H1N1. While other provinces were coming up with effective strategies to deal with these issues, our Minister of Health was standing there and pointing over at these guys telling them it was their fault. While other provinces are executing their strategies to combat H1N1, the Minister of Health is telling toddlers to cough up their sleeves. Good luck with that.

While Nova Scotians are facing frustrating line ups and overcrowding while waiting to get vaccinated for H1N1, in Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario, over the past week, 23 staffers at a local call centre have been working 12 hours a day booking appointments - 3,500 appointments a day. I have an article here I'd like to table. Because these appointments are being booked ahead of time before the appointments actually start, there's no big rush at the door, there's no big cluster standing outside in the cold, in the rain, in the wet. People who have diabetes aren't keeling over because they haven't had their meals.

AN HON. MEMBER: You mean organized.

MS. REGAN: Well, yeah, they're organized. It's an efficient use of everyone's time and resources.

It's not like Nova Scotia doesn't have the human resources to run call centres. All we have to do is ask the Minister of Economic and Rural Development and he'll tell you about

[Page 2005]

the vast number of call centre employees who are facing unemployment in all parts of the province.

What Nova Scotia is lacking right now is leadership, the type of leadership that's creative enough to think outside the box, the type of leadership that's creative enough to think outside the box, the type of leadership that demands that it's a good enough approach is not good enough for Nova Scotians.

This Minister of Health seems to be perfectly fine with a lack of clinics in Bedford, in Hammonds Plains and in Clayton Park. These are the fastest growing communities in HRM and let's take a look at where those clinics are. Well, we look for the next week and there is no clinic in Bedford, in Clayton Park, in Hammonds Plains. We look for the following week and, do you know what, there is no clinic in Bedford, there is no clinic in Clayton Park, there is no clinic in Hammonds Plains. Then we look for November 16th to November 22nd and, guess what, there is no clinic in Bedford, there is no clinic in Clayton Park, there is no clinic in Hammonds Plains. Then we look at November 23rd to November 29th - a full month after the clinics start - and guess what, there is no clinic in Bedford, there is no clinic in Clayton Park, there is no clinic in Hammonds Plains.

Yesterday I spoke in the House about the case of a family who have four children below the age of three. They are supposed to be among the priorities. So this family packed up, went out to Enfield to the clinic, and they got there at 9:00 a.m. They stood outside in the cold - the triplets and the other child, the mum and the dad - and they waited for three hours. The only people who were being plucked out of that line as priorities were pregnant women and the father said, gee, you know, I have no problem with pregnant women going ahead, I understand it's a very real health risk here. But he did object to the fact that he had four small children below the age of three and they were not asked to proceed up the line. After three hours there were still 100 people ahead of them in the line and their children were tired, cold and hungry, and so they took them home.

Now, one of the excuses I'm hearing is that they couldn't do a clinic in Bedford because you can't just do a clinic one day, you have to do it for multiple days in a row, but I find it interesting that we got an e-mail in our government e-mails today saying that there will be clinics held on November 5th and November 10th at the World and Trade and Convention Centre for government workers. So those are two clinics five days apart and if we can do it for government workers, how come we can't do it for people in Bedford, in Clayton Park and in Hammonds Plains? I don't understand that.

It seems to me that children below the age of three are probably a little more important than we government workers, and this is just typical of what we are seeing from this government. There is no plan or it's half a plan, or it's not thought out. I have heard that once you get inside, it's very professional and that's wonderful, but there's a big knot when you get inside because people have to fill out the forms. Why wouldn't we just put the form

[Page 2006]

up online so people could download it and fill it in earlier? That's what they're doing in New Brunswick. It's much easier if people can get that done ahead of time. They don't have to fish through their bags trying to find their health number and all that kind of thing. I don't understand why this wasn't thought through better.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for this evening's late debate. I want to thank the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

The motion to adjourn was made earlier.

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

[The House rose at 5:24 p.m.]

[Page 2007]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 934

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas on October 22nd, Acadia University, in Wolfville, marks Sustainability Day on campus where students and staff alike strive to raise awareness about the importance of environmental initiatives; and

Whereas this year, as part of its celebrations, Acadia banned vehicle idling on campus to help support broader initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions; and

Whereas the leadership shown by Acadia on this and many other initiatives make the university an important benchmark for citizens, businesses and other academic institutions in this province to live up to;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the faculty, staff and students at Acadia University for imposing an idling ban on campus, as well as for their continued work and leadership on a number of environmental initiatives.

RESOLUTION NO. 935

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas in the Spring of each year Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute helps to deliver the Blanding's turtle next protection program; and

Whereas for over seven years Jeanette and Arlyn Turner in Pleasant River, Queens County, have been protecting the Blanding's turtle nests on their property; and

Whereas they have been responsible for protecting dozens of nests and hundreds of hatchlings during the month of June, where they patrol their Christmas tree lot and surrounding area every evening for female turtles;

[Page 2008]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognize Jeanette and Arlyn turner of Pleasant River, Queens County, for all of their work helping with the nest protection program for Blanding's turtles through the Mersey Tobeatic Research Institute.

RESOLUTION NO. 936

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the ninth annual Queens County SeaFest was held in August at the Brooklyn marina to showcase fishing and all things ocean related; and

Whereas 2009 proved to be a bit of a challenge as Hurricane Bill interrupted a number of the proceedings, but with very clever organizing a number of events were able to be completed; and

Whereas members of the organizing committee and many, many volunteers worked very hard to get the Annual Groundfish, Mackerel and Shark Tournament completed, along with the Cole Row for Charity;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognizes the Queens County SeaFest 2009 organizing committee, the volunteers, the winners of the Annual Groundfish, Mackerel and Shark Tournament: Chris Graham, Mark Cole, Jason Veinot and Keith Graham; and the winners of the Cole Row for Charity winners: Team Veinot's Print, Lorrie Wolfe, Ryan Dagley and John Long.

RESOLUTION NO. 937

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Special Olympics Summer Games plays such an important role in the lives of many Queens County participants; and

Whereas during the summer of 2009 the Queens County Nicks competed for and won the silver medal at the Summer Games held in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Special Olympics are dedicated to enriching the lives of Nova Scotians with an intellectual disability, through sport;

[Page 2009]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognizes players Amanda McCoombs, Nicholas Whynot, Warren Guest, Devin Whynot, Candace Neals, Rebecca Maule, Raymond Forward, Kevin Gehue, Matthew Walsh, Todd McGinnis, Michael Moreau, Jillian Young, Freeman Wamboldt, head coach Kelly Young, coaches Terriann Munroe and Kimberly Whynot-Munroe, and manager Troy Schrader on their silver medal win.

RESOLUTION NO. 938

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas volunteers are such an important part of the communities in Queens County; and

Whereas Queens County has had a volunteer involved with many aspects of the community - the arts, education, sports, health, and recreation; and

Whereas the volunteer efforts of one Queens County resident has been recognized by the Lunenburg Queens Volunteer Partnership;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize Sandra Woodford for her contribution to the well-being of her community and for her help to people in her community.

RESOLUTION NO. 939

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas seniors are such an important part of our society, and Lynn and Dean Dennis in Liverpool have opened a stepping stone between independent home ownership and a full-care manor for a few seniors in the community; and

[Page 2010]

Whereas it is important for seniors to live in a residence with the feeling of home so they can interact with others and have the privacy they deserve; and

Whereas this new living arrangement will provide all of the essentials necessary to provide a safe, social residence for seniors in Liverpool;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly recognizes Lynn and Dean Dennis for turning a property in Liverpool into a stepping stone living situation for seniors.

RESOLUTION NO. 940

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 Robert "Bob" Higgins passed away on October 10, 2009, after a lifetime of love and dedication to his family, to youth education, to amateur sport, and to community development; and

Whereas Bob held in the highest regard his community, his church, school life, and lived the creed that volunteerism could enrich and make our communities a better place to live, and his volunteer work has left a legacy in his home town of Kentville; and

Whereas Bob's passion for teaching and coaching helped youth aspire to high ideals and act for a higher purpose, and he also inspired youth to be more aware of the natural world around them;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly acknowledge a life lived to the fullest, and express condolences to his wife Marcia, family, and friends.

RESOLUTION NO. 941

By: Mr. Jim Boudreau (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas Susan O'Handley was a founding member of the Eastern Communities Youth Association, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary of incorporation in 2009; and

Whereas Susan has held various executive positions on the Board of Directors for ECYA, including president; and

[Page 2011]

Whereas Susan has successfully secured funding for the organization through her dedicated efforts, which included writing several successful funding proposals over the past 10 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognizes Susan O'Handley for her dedication to the youth of eastern Guysborough County and for the spirit of volunteerism which she has helped ingrain in the members of the Eastern Communities Youth Association.

RESOLUTION NO. 942

By: Mr. Jim Boudreau (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas Janet Delorey has been a charter member of the Eastern Communities Youth Association, which is celebrating its 10th Anniversary of incorporation in 2009; and

Whereas Janet has been the Chairperson of the Board of Directors for ECYA for the past nine years; and

Whereas Janet is an excellent volunteer for ECYA's fundraisers and she has proven herself to a strong advocate for the youth of the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognizes the dedication and volunteerism which Janet Delorey has extended to the youth involved with the Eastern Communities Youth Association.

RESOLUTION NO. 943

By: Mr. Jim Boudreau (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas October 24th marked the 50th Wedding Anniversary of Leonard and Joan Jordan of Indian Harbour Lake in the constituency of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour; and

Whereas a community celebration will be held on the date of their wedding anniversary to celebrate their 50 years of dedication to one another; and

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Whereas anniversaries are an occasion for family and friends to get together and celebrate the life of two individuals united as one;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House join me in congratulating Leonard and Joan Jordan on this remarkable 50-year milestone in their life together and wish them many more happy years of marriage.

RESOLUTION NO. 944

By: Mr. Jim Boudreau (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas the Port Bickerton Women's Institute celebrated its 60th Anniversary in 2009; and

Whereas the Port Bickerton branch of the Women's Institute was formed on July 20, 1949 by the founding president, Mrs. Elizabeth Kaiser; and

Whereas the milestone for this dedicated group was celebrated on September 12, 2009;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulates the Port Bickerton Women's Institute on their 60th Anniversary with very best wishes for future success.

RESOLUTION NO. 945

By: Hon. Sterling Belliveau (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas Centreville resident Sharon Symonds has once again gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk for a Cause, on September 25, 2009; and

Whereas Sharon Symonds, along with friends Marlene Chetwynd, Linda O'Connell and Claire Ross have formed the Focus on Life Team which fundraises throughout the year in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund; and

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Whereas the Focus on Life Team has raised more than $27,000 in the last two years to support the fund which helps local cancer patients financially, emotionally and spiritually;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Sharon Symonds for once again going above and beyond the call of duty in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk for a Cause, on September 25, 2009.

RESOLUTION NO. 946

By: Hon. Sterling Belliveau (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas Clam Point resident Claire Ross has once again gone above and beyond the call of duty in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk for a Cause, on September 25, 2009; and

Whereas Claire Ross, along with friends Marlene Chetwynd, Linda O'Connell and Sharon Symonds, have formed the Focus on Life Team which fundraises throughout the year in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund; and

Whereas the Focus on Life Team has raised more than $27,000 in the last two years to support the fund which helps local cancer patients financially, emotionally and spiritually;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Claire Ross and friends for going above and beyond the call of duty and her friends Marlene Chetwynd, Linda O'Connell and Sharon Symonds in support of the Rosalin Nickerson Care Fund Society's annual fundraiser, Walk for a Cause, on September 25, 2009.

RESOLUTION NO. 947

By: Hon. Sterling Belliveau (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas Forest Ridge Academy student Courtney Smith was a member of the overall winning team, the Mad Scientists, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009; and

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Whereas Courtney Smith helped her Grade 5 team score 73 out of a possible 75 points to win both the Grade 5 event as well as the overall title at the Regional Science Olympics; and

Whereas the Mad Scientists placed first out of the 27 teams of Grade 4 through Grade 6 students who competed at the Regional Science Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Forest Ridge Academy student, Courtney Smith, who was a member of the overall winning team, the Mad Scientists, at the Tri-County Regional School Board's Regional Science Olympics on June 4, 2009.

RESOLUTION NO. 948

By: Hon. Sterling Belliveau (Fisheries and Aquaculture)

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

Whereas 13-year-old Chelsey Hines of Lower East Pubnico, Nova Scotia, donated 10 inches of her hair to Headquarters Hair Solutions Clinic on March 26, 2009; and

Whereas Chelsey Hines wanted to donate her hair so it could be used to make wigs for cancer patients; and

Whereas Chelsey Hines was very happy and very willing to donate her hair to the less fortunate who have been stricken with cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Chelsey Hines of Lower East Pubnico, Nova Scotia, for donating 10 inches of her hair to Headquarters Hair Solutions Clinic on March 26, 2009.