Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-4

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Cecil Clarke

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/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

TUESDAY, JULY 4, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. No. 2, Estimates: CWH on Supply - Referred, Hon. M. Baker 75
Hon. M. Baker 75
Mr. G. Steele 80
Ms. D. Whalen 84
Adjourned debate 90
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.-Wentworth Sch.: Closure - Prevent, Hon. M. Scott 90
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 27, Francis, Mayann: Lt.-Gov. - Appt., Hon. B. Barnet 90
Vote - Affirmative 91
Res. 28, Harvey, Frank/Thornhill, Esmeralda/Freedman, Bill - Educ. Awards
Hon. K. Casey 91
Vote - Affirmative 92
Res. 29, Black Loyalist Heritage Soc. - Best Wishes, Hon. B. Barnet 92
Vote - Affirmative 92
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 25, Income Tax Act, Mr. D. Dexter 93
No. 26, Cape Breton Strip Mines Moratorium Act, Mr. F. Corbett 93
No. 27, Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act, Mr. S. Belliveau ~ 93
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 30, Irving Shipyard - Naval Supply Ships: Bid - Consider, Mr. D. Dexter 93
Vote - Affirmative 93
Res. 31, War Brides, Year of (2006) - Recognize, Mr. S. McNeil 94
Vote - Affirmative 94
Res. 32, Todd, Terrance - 4-H Interprov. Exchange Prog., Mr. C. Porter 94
Vote - Affirmative 95
Res. 33, Pickup, Doug - Tallahassee Commun. Sch. - Serv. - Recognize, 95
Mr. K. Deveaux
Vote - Affirmative 96
Res. 34, Anderson, Andy: Acadia Univ. Sports Hall of Fame -
Induction (Posthumous) , Mr. H. Theriault 96
Vote - Affirmative 96
Res. 35, Stellarton Convention Ctr.: Const. Partners - Congrats, Mr. P. Dunn 97
Vote - Affirmative 97
Res. 36, North/South - Production: Participants - Congrats., Ms. M. MacDonald 97
Vote - Affirmative 98
Res. 37, Crosbie House: Vol. Bd./Vols. - Congrats.,^Mr. L. Glavine, 98
Vote - Affirmative 99
Res. 38, Dowe, Jessie - 4-H Interprov. Exchange Prog., Mr. E. Fage, 99
Vote - Affirmative 99
Res. 39, TPW: Havill/Walker/Northwest Arm Drives - Safety Modifications,
Mr. G. Steele 100
Res. 40, Bethel Pentecostal Church (Glace Bay): Legion Ceremony - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 100
Vote - Affirmative 101
Res. 41, Hockeyville Can.: Salmon River - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir, 101
Vote - Affirmative 102
Res. 42, Francis, Mayann: Lt.-Gov. - Appt., Mr. G. Gosse, 102
Vote - Affirmative 102
Res. 43, Silent Witness N.S. : Organizing Comm. - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen, 103
Vote - Affirmative 103
Res. 44, Blais, Dominique - 4-H Interprov. Exchange Prog.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 103
Vote - Affirmative 104
Res. 45, Slaunwhite, Candace - Hfx. West HS Female Athlete of Yr.,
Mr. B. Estabrooks 104
Vote - Affirmative 105
Res. 46, Weir, Dan: Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction, Mr. L. Glavine, 105
Vote - Affirmative 105
Res. 47, Bras d'Or Seniors & Pensioners Club - Anniv. (30th),
Hon. C. Clarke (by Mr. K. Bain) 106
Vote - Affirmative 106
Res. 48, Spryfield: Child Care Ctr. - Restore, Ms. Michele Raymond 106
Res. 49, Heart & Stroke Soc. : Staff/Vols. - Thank, Mr. David Wilson,
(Sackville-Cobequid) 107
Vote - Affirmative 108
Res. 50, Brown, Dr. Sheila: Accomplishments - Congrats., Ms. Diana Whalen, 108
Vote - Affirmative 108
Res. 51, TrentonWorks - Productivity: Workers/Staff Commend,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 108
Vote - Affirmative 109
Res. 52, Vol. Planning Task Force on Heritage - Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein, 109
Vote - Affirmative 110
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Prem.: Digby-Saint John Ferry - Closure, Mr. D. Dexter 110
No. 2, TPW.: Digby - Saint John Ferry - Closure, Mr. H. Theriault 111
No. 3, Prem.: Sunday Shopping - Policing, Mr. D. Dexter 113
No. 4, Dev.: Lightbridge - Closure, Ms. V. Conrad 114
No. 5, Com. Serv., Daycare - Fed. Funding, Mr. S. McNeil 115
No. 6, Com. Serv. - Joseph Howe Manor - Asbestos, Mr. L. Preyra 117
No. 7, Health: Bayside Home - Nursing Home Beds, Mr. S. Belliveau 118
No. 8, Gov't. (N.S.): Gas Prices - Lower, Mr. M. Samson 120
No. 9, Health: Rocky Lake Facility - Review Explain, Mr. P. Paris 121
No. 10, Justice: Police Officers Distribution, Mr. T. Zinck 122
No. 11, Fish. & Aquiculture: Highland Fisheries - Lockout,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 123
No. 12, Health: Surgical Wait Times, Mr. C. MacKinnon 124
No. 13, Immigration: N.S. Nominee Prog. - Contract, Mr. L. Preyra 125
No. 14, Health: Middleton Nursing Home - Announcement, Mr. S. MacNeil 127
No. 15, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Sewage Treatment, Mr. F. Corbett 128
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. V. Conrad 129
Mr. C. MacKinnon 136
Ms. K. Casey 141
Adjourned debate 141
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Environ. & Lbr.: Whitney Pier - Pollution 142
Mr. G. Gosse 142
Mr. M Parent 145
Mr. K. Colwell 147
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., July 5th at 2:00 p.m. 150

[Page 75]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, JULY 4, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

[Res. No. 2, Estimates: CWH on Supply - Referred - notice given June 30/06 - (Hon. Michael Baker)]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, pursuant to a notice of motion given by me on June 30, 2006, and the Rules and Forms of Procedure of the House of Assembly, I have the honour, by command, to present a message from Her Honour, the Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia, relating to the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007 which is:

75

[Page 76]

"I hereby transmit Estimates of Sums required for the Public Service of the province, for the year ending March 31, 2007, and in accordance with the Constitution Act, 1867, recommend them together with the Budget Address of my Minister of Finance and any resolutions or bills necessary or advisable to approve the Estimates and implement the budget measures to the House of Assembly.

Signed,

Myra A. Freeman

Lieutenant Governor."

Mr. Speaker, at this time I wish to table the message from Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor transmitting the Estimates for the consideration of this House; table the Estimates Books; table the Consolidated Fiscal Plan for the government consisting of the Government Business Plan and other information contained in the budget; table the Crown Corporation Business Plans; table the Estimates and Crown Corporation Business Plan Resolutions; deliver my Budget Speech and move the Estimates of Sums required for the service of the province for the fiscal year ending March 31, 2007, being Supply, to be granted to Her Majesty and the Crown Corporation Business Plans be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

Mr. Speaker, before I begin the Budget Address proper, I have a number of introductions of visitors that I would like to make. First of all, in the Speaker's Gallery opposite is Minister Bev Harrison, who is the Minister of Supply and Services for the Province of New Brunswick, and also the Government House Leader there, and a former Speaker of that province for many years. I would like Mr. Harrison to rise and receive the greetings of the House. (Applause)

Sitting next to Mr. Harrison, someone else many members of the House would know, is my wife, Cindy, who is here to join us today and watch me do it all over again, as they say. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: Where are your boys, Mike? Where are the boys?

MR. BAKER: My boys - unfortunately it's summer in Nova Scotia and, most importantly, it's sailing season in Lunenburg County.

In the gallery opposite, Mr. Speaker, I also have a number of other visitors whom I would like to acknowledge - my mother and father, Gilbert and Barbara Baker; my sister, Valerie; her husband, Paul Burley; and my nephew, Joshua Burley. The timing of the House this summer has been very convenient for them as they're visiting Nova Scotia from Ontario. (Applause)

Also in the gallery opposite, we have Mr. Richie Cotton, president of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities. (Applause)

[Page 77]

And last, but by no means least, I'd like to take the opportunity to acknowledge the staff of the Department of Finance, and Treasury and Policy Board, who are with us today. They have been very busy, not only with the original budget that I introduced, but with respect to the updated budget that I'm presenting today, and I would like them to rise and receive the acknowledgement of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and provide members with an update of the 2006-07 Budget Address. Members will be pleased to know that, as budget speeches go, my remarks today will be relatively brief, and for good reason. The budget I am tabling today includes the exact same spending commitments with the exact same timelines as the one I tabled on May 9th.

[1:15 p.m.]

It was a good budget for Nova Scotians then, and it is a good budget now. It's good for seniors and students. It's good for families and taxpayers. And it's good for our economy, an economy that continues to create quality full-time jobs and generate new revenues. Revenues that we are reinvesting in programs, services, and targeted initiatives that will enhance Nova Scotia's economic growth and social progress. (Applause)

I say this with confidence, Mr. Speaker, knowing that, to a large extent, the new investments outlined in our budget are supported by Nova Scotians from every region and every walk of life. Nova Scotians who gathered in church basements, Legion halls, schools, and community centres to advise us on how we could strengthen our economy and more appropriately respond to the needs of our seniors and students. We listened, and we responded with a budget that does just that. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am not going to reiterate all of the items referenced in my earlier Budget Address. I do, however, especially for the benefit of the new members of the House, want to put things into context and briefly speak to the highlights of our budget.

First and foremost, it is balanced. (Applause) In fact, it is Nova Scotia's fifth consecutive balanced budget, an achievement that has eluded many other provinces. It is a budget that projects a healthy surplus of $73.5 million that will go directly to the debt. This will further bring down our net direct-debt-to-GDP ratio, which has already dropped by more than 10 percentage points within the past six years, from 48.7 per cent in 1999-2000 to 37.9 per cent this year. Clear progress, and a clear signal to Nova Scotians and to our creditors that, as each year passes, we continue to put our fiscal house in better order. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, it is a budget that continues to create a climate of greater confidence in our economy by

� lowering business taxes and eliminating regulations that stifle business growth

� taking a more focused and proactive approach to skills and trades training

[Page 78]

� investing more dollars to promote tourism and to further support our growing arts and culture sector, and

� providing significant dollars to fix our roads and bridges, to make our highways safer, and to build, renovate or modernize our schools and hospitals (Applause)

It is a budget that will help tens of thousands of Nova Scotians better cope with the costs and the pressures of day-to-day life. It rebates the provincial portion of the HST on home energy costs and raises the basic personal exemption so all Nova Scotians pay less tax, and thousands pay no tax at all. (Applause) It increases funding to create more affordable housing units, to help income assistance recipients pay for their housing costs, and to help seniors and low-income Nova Scotians with emergency repairs to their homes.

It ensures that the $1,200 federal Child Care Benefit benefits young parents and their children to the full extent. And it kick-starts our commitment to create 1,500 child-care spaces. We will provide ongoing additional funding of $4.7 million a year to child care in Nova Scotia. This is part of our 10-year child care strategy. (Applause)

As well, beginning on October 1st of this year, our budget will provide as many as 33,000 children from families of modest means with the medicine they need to get better at home. Our Children's Pharmacare Program will not only reduce the emotional stress and financial pressures on thousands of Nova Scotian parents, it will provide the added benefit of reducing unnecessary and costly emergency room visits. And next year we will complement our Children's Pharmacare Plan, with the introduction of Atlantic Canada's first working families Pharmacare plan. (Applause) We will do this believing that no Nova Scotian, young or old, should be denied the prescription drug coverage most of us have come to rely on.

Mr. Speaker, our budget not only contributes to a more vibrant economy and provides assistance to individuals and families in need, it provides significant new resources to help our children learn better and live better. It commits an additional $20.2 million to implement the next steps in our Learning for Life II plan. In addition, it sets aside new dollars to support both students who excel and those who are at risk, by introducing the International Baccalaureate and Opportunities and Options programs into more schools. (Applause) These new investments, along with increased funding to implement the recommendations of the Hogg and Black Learners Advisory Committee reports, demonstrate our commitment to help all of our children succeed in school and in life.

Mr. Speaker, we also want all of our children to grow up healthy and stay healthy. That is why we are more than tripling our Healthy Living Tax Credit, hiring more physical education teachers, increasing the funding for Teen Health Centres, and stepping up our efforts to make our children more aware of the consequences of smoking, alcohol and drug abuse, and risky sexual behaviour.

[Page 79]

Mr. Speaker, our budget also recognizes the need to help our post-secondary students better manage and cope with the costs of their investment in a quality education. That is why our budget introduces Nova Scotia's first Graduate Tax Credit, doubles existing employment and repayment bonuses, reduces parental contribution requirements for Nova Scotia student loan eligibility, and adjusts loan repayment amounts to more affordable levels. We know the value of a post-secondary education. We know the costs are too high. And we know that we have a responsibility to young Nova Scotians and their parents, and to the future prosperity of our province, to do everything we can reasonably do to make a university or college education more affordable for more of our students.

Mr. Speaker, beyond the need to support young Nova Scotians in getting the education they need and deserve, is the need to provide older Nova Scotians with the care and support they deserve and need. And what seniors have told us they want and need most is the assurance that they can live as independently as possible, for as long as possible, in the comfort of their own homes. That is why our budget commits an additional $16 million this year to implement Nova Scotia's first Continuing Care Strategy, a 10-year plan that will expand home support services, add more restorative beds, expand the number of adult day centres, and create 1,300 new long-term care beds.

Mr. Speaker, members will note that every spending commitment made on May 9th is being made again today.

On Course, on Time, on Track

Members will also note that, along with all of the original budget documents tabled before the House dissolved, I have tabled a budget addendum. Simply put, it is provided to give members and all Nova Scotians the latest and most precise information on the minor changes that have occurred to our economic assumptions and revenue and expenditure projections since the budget was first tabled. In fact, when all of the most recent economic forecasts and revenue and expenditure projections are factored in, we are projecting a small gain on the positive side of the ledger of $1.6 million. Again, Mr. Speaker, every cent of this added surplus will be applied to our debt.

Fixing the Fiscal Imbalance

Mr. Speaker, I want to briefly mention an issue that members have been hearing a lot about in recent days, namely equalization. As members know, equalization is an extremely complicated formula that the Government of Canada uses to redistribute federal tax dollars among provinces. But equalization is a lot more than just a complicated formula - it is the federal government's constitutional commitment to you and me, every Nova Scotian, and every Canadian that says we are entitled to receive reasonably comparable levels of service at reasonably comparable levels of taxation. Clearly, that's not been the case.

And clearly, the federal government and all of the provinces and territories face a very difficult challenge in reaching consensus on what is a highly contentious and extremely

[Page 80]

important issue. As a government we expect, and will insist, that any changes to the equalization formula be fairly applied, that they do not create an even greater fiscal imbalance between and among the provinces, and that they honour Ottawa's constitutional obligations to Nova Scotians.

Beyond addressing equalization, the Government of Canada has the added obligation to address the broader issue of fiscal imbalance between the federal and provincial governments. An imbalance the new federal government has acknowledged exists, and has promised to fix. To that end, Nova Scotia will be calling on Ottawa to provide adequate, predictable, and long-term transfers and to recognize that provinces have differing fiscal capacities and different expenditure needs.

Conclusion

Mr. Speaker, in putting our budget together, we made the best possible decisions, based on the best information and in the best interests of Nova Scotians. Our budget takes steps to ensure Nova Scotia continues to create quality, full-time jobs in every region of our province. It will relieve the financial pressures and emotional stress facing many Nova Scotians struggling to heat their homes, to raise their children, or to care for an aging parent. And it positively responds to the issues that are of most concern to most Nova Scotians: timely access to health care, clean air and water, a first-class education for our children, better roads, and safer communities. It was a good budget for Nova Scotians on May 9th, and it still is today. Thank you. (Prolonged Applause)

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview. (Applause)

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is my privilege to rise again to begin the debate in reply to the budget on behalf of the Official Opposition. When I rose on May 9th, for the same purpose, I noted that the path between the budget as introduced and the budget as passed included an election. Today, we have essentially the same budget, but in a new context. There has been an election, the voters of Nova Scotia have spoken, and in our decision about what to do on this budget, we have to take into account the verdict that they have rendered on all of us.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my Party I said on May 9th that it would be very difficult for this Party to vote against a budget that included a measure as important and as necessary and as fair as removing the provincial portion of the HST from all sources of home heating. This is an important measure that the Leader of the Opposition and all of us in the NDP have advocated for a number of years, even when the members on the government side of the House said it was impossible, said it could not be done. Over and over again, the former Premier, the former Minister of Finance said, impossible, could not be done, and a few weeks before the election, the government says, oh, indeed, it can be done and it will be done.

[Page 81]

Mr. Speaker, I want to pay tribute to the Leader of the Opposition for his perseverance in the face of the relentless negativity from the other side. (Applause) As he has shown on so many other issues, it doesn't matter how often the people on that side of the House say no, it can't be done, he will push on until it is done. It could be done, it always could be done, and we are pleased to see that in the budget reintroduced today that it will be done.

That is why, Mr. Speaker, it is going to be very difficult for us to vote against this budget. We are going to do our jobs as the Opposition. We are going to go through the estimates debate. This is nearly a $7 billion budget now. We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to the people we represent to look at the budget very carefully, but unless there is something in the budget that we don't expect to find, some hidden measure that only comes to light in the estimates debate, then we believe it will be very difficult for us to vote against this budget. (Applause)

Of course, we have to be mindful of the election results. Mr. Speaker, we have to be mindful of the fact that in modern times there is only one time per year in this House that the government faces a confidence motion, and that is on the budget. Now since this is the first budget since the election, if the budget went down, then I expect that the Lieutenant Governor would be compelled to offer the opportunity to the Leaders of the other Parties to form a government, but let's be clear, that's not what the people of Nova Scotia voted for. More people voted for the Progressive Conservative Party, there are more members on the Progressive Conservative side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, we understand that verdict, and we respect that verdict. Nobody wants that kind of instability. Nobody wants to show a disrespect to the voters' verdict. That is another reason why, in all likelihood, if it is the right thing for Nova Scotia, this budget will pass. Let nobody be under any illusion that this is a budget that we would like to have seen, that this is a budget we would have devised ourselves. Even though, Mr. Speaker, we are very pleased that the government has adopted our policy, our long-standing policy of taking the HST off home heating fuel, we believe it should be done as of November 1, 2006. Not only can it be done, it should be done.

There is enough money in the surplus to bring it into effect when Nova Scotians need it, at the beginning of the cold weather season, not when the government is simply willing to offer it, which is not until January 1, 2007. There is enough money to keep the best features of the Keep the Heat program. We have to take frank account of the fact that this version of delivering, this method of delivering tax relief to people paying for home heating will work to the disadvantage of those at the lowest end of the income scale. The government should be under no illusion that our advocacy for this policy included the entire elimination of the best features of the Keep the Heat program.

Mr. Speaker, it is not possible for the Opposition parties even voting together to amend the budget against the will of the government, that's a matter of confidence in which the government could fall. We say in all earnestness to the government, those are two things

[Page 82]

that you can do and that you should do. You should consider amending your budget to bring it into effect the beginning of the cold weather season on November 1st. It can be done, it should be done. This government should consider keeping the best features of the Keep the Heat program. It can be done and it should be done.

Mr. Speaker, there are other things in this budget that are not what we would have done. I don't know if members recall how disappointed representatives of student organizations were after the May 9th budget. They saw very little in this budget for them. Since the budget is essentially unchanged, students, student organizations and students' families will continue to be disappointed by the little or no support that this government offers to recognize the fact that this province has the highest post-secondary tuitions in Canada.

We believe the government can move faster on long-term care beds and should move faster. It is unfortunate that the government has pushed out their long-term care plan over 10 years, far beyond the horizon of the next election and even the election after that. They're saying, sometime vaguely in the future we're going to get to it sometime. More can be done, more should be done and my new colleague, the member for Shelburne, spoke eloquently about this last week. Thirty years of promises in western Shelburne county for more long-term care beds and they still haven't come to fruition. The government's 10-year plan is not good enough. The government can do better and should do better.

One of the things that I heard, and I'm sure all the members in the House heard as we went around during the election campaign, was the desperate need to address waiting times in the health care system. There is very little in the budget that directly deals with that very, very significant problem. Mr. Speaker, even though this is not the budget we would have introduced, even though we don't think it deals with key elements of the better deal for Nova Scotians that we talked about during the last election, we are very pleased with this important and historic measure of taking the HST off home heating fuel, something on which there should have been no provincial tax in the first place.

We are mindful of the fact that by giving the government our support for this budget, that means that any opportunity to end this government now belongs to the government. Once this budget is passed and the government passes its first test of confidence, it is the government that will decide when the next election will be, either by calling the election themselves or by taking measures or steps or through their actions and inactions making it impossible for the members on this side of the House to continue to support them in the budget. The responsibility for what happens from here on rests squarely with the members on that side of the House.

There are some troubling signs. We will hold the government accountable for what it has done. The government has still not come entirely clean on what happened last year in the Economic Development portfolio. It refused to answer the questions and arrogated to itself the power to decide what documents would be released to a committee of this Legislature. That can't be right. It is somewhat troubling to see the government's new-found

[Page 83]

emphasis on the equalization formula. What I interpret that as being, Mr. Speaker, is the provincial government looking for somebody to point the finger at, somebody to blame. In this new environment, they want to be able to say it's the federal government's fault which is somehow ironic considering they are all members of the same Party.

Clearly, we support the government's efforts to get a better equalization deal for Nova Scotia. Clearly, as well, we understand that it is not likely that it is going to come about without a great deal of time and effort on behalf of all the provinces. Let's be frank, the large provinces, the better-off provinces, are completely against our getting a better deal. Ontario, British Columbia, and Alberta are opposed to what our government wants. Because of that fact it is somewhat disconcerting for us to see in the Budget Address today such an emphasis on blaming the federal government. It seems like this government, the provincial government, is setting up the federal government as the Party to be blamed if things don't go the way they want.

During the election this government made promises that are going to be very difficult for them to keep. It is also disconcerting to see in the Budget Address today discussion of topics that aren't even in the budget. Again, a tendency I think of this new government is to talk about things that they may do sometime in the future. I think we were all taken aback during the election when the Premier was talking about the new universal Pharmacare Program. He had a great deal of difficulty explaining the most basic details, like what kind of co-pay would there be? What kind of premium, if any, would there be? When would it come into effect? If it's going to be in next year's budget which we don't know for sure, is it going to come into effect for April 1st with the new fiscal year or is the government again going to push it off into the future, January 1, 2008 or even later?

Let's make no mistake about it, every single member of the House supports the concept but as we have seen with the Seniors' Pharmacare Program, there are few programs in the provincial budget that take up as much money and that grow as fast as Pharmacare. If we institute this program sometime in the future, how is the government proposing to pay for it when the Seniors' Pharmacare Program has shown double digit growth every year for the past many years, growing far in excess of provincial revenues. There may be answers but it is disconcerting seeing the government having no answers and yet spending time in this year's Budget Address talking about something that's not even going to happen this year at all. It's almost as if there's an attempt to deflect attention from what's going on in this year's budget by getting people to think about what's going to happen sometime in the future.

As I say, Mr. Speaker, passing the budget means this government determines how long it will last. The responsibility is in their hands. The responsibility is in their hands to listen to people on all sides of the House, to people on their side, to people in the NDP and people in the Liberal Party, not to pick and choose one or the other and say, we're going to listen to those ideas but not those ideas. Their responsibility is to do what's right for Nova Scotians. We know that, that is why we have been entirely consistent; we said in the Spring that it was likely that we would support the budget and we say again now it is likely we are going to support the budget.

[Page 84]

It is a little surprising, I expect that after I sit down the Liberal Finance Critic will get up and announce that contrary to what they said in May, that they intend also to probably support this budget. It is difficult for us to understand how a Party could be opposed to a budget in May and then when the very same budget is introduced later in the year that they, on the same budget, will vote the opposite way.

Mr. Speaker, speaking of inconsistencies, I think that Nova Scotians were able to see what happens when you have a Conservative Party that largely adopts NDP policy. The only Party that has been consistent throughout has been the NDP. I think that may be one of the reasons why more New Democrats were sent to this House. We have been consistent throughout, our Leader has been consistent throughout, focused entirely on what is best for the people of Nova Scotia. That will continue to be our standard now and in the future. Thank you.

[1:45 p.m.]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure today to rise on behalf of the Liberal caucus and provide a reply to the Budget Address that we received today. I would like to express our pleasure that the Minister of Finance is here himself to deliver the new budget today. (Applause)

It is worth noting that the budget before us today is the same as it was two months ago, that there has been an election, that the context of our debate will be different as a result of that, and I think it's important that all members of the Legislature be cognizant of the voice of the people, when we've had an election, when there has been a return of a minority government again, you know, much the same situation as we experienced prior to this last election call. Again, I think the people have spoken and we have to respect that and we have to work as much as we can together as colleagues to see that the government functions and functions in the best interests of the people of Nova Scotia. That's important to all of us.

In replying to the budget today, there are a few cautionary concerns that I have and would like to raise on behalf of our caucus as well. In the context of this budget, we now have a budget that is approaching $7 billion and I think it's worth noting for all Nova Scotians that this budget was only around $5 billion seven years ago in 1999. So Nova Scotians have seen an increase, largely in their own source revenues, although last year we had more from the federal government, but a lot of our own source revenues have increased and we're very fortunate that has been the case. The economy has been strong, not only here but in other parts of Canada, and we have benefited from that. We're all happy to see greater employment, more people in our communities working and able to have good lives here in Nova Scotia. So it is a good thing, but having that extra money in our hands here in the government to spend wisely means that there should be improvements that Nova Scotians can feel and that they can recognize that times are better.

[Page 85]

A lot of the measures in this budget, as in previous ones, don't necessarily advance our cause dramatically. I think that health care is a primary area to look at. We have been muddling along trying to improve health care, you know, spending a tremendous amount of money every year, additional monies year after year. Again, it's worth noting that in 1999 the Tory Leader at that time said that health care could be fixed for $46 million.

Well, today, Mr. Speaker, we're spending $1.4 billion more in that system or a total of $1.4 billion and it's still not enough. I think that a 7 per cent increase this year is tremendous. Last year it was double-digit increases and we still have the same concerns about wait lists and the lack of services, people waiting years for surgeries and so on. We have emergency room closures and a lack of doctors in rural areas. So people, I think, living in the Province of Nova Scotia would be hard-pressed to point to what has improved with the dramatic increase in spending in health care.

So clearly it calls for the government to look at new ways to do things. We can't just continue to tread water and do things the way we have before. This year alone we have $200 million more being spent in health care and I don't think it would surprise any of us that this is not sustainable, that the previous Premier of Nova Scotia said it was not sustainable. If it continues to grow like this, we'll be spending all of our money by the year 2020 on health care and that's just not the direction that we can possibly go.

Another concern, Mr. Speaker, in the budget, of course, is the timeline for a lot of these new initiatives. We're looking at anywhere from four to six to 10 years out, in terms of policies. A good example is the continuing care plan, looking at up to 1,300 new beds for continuing care, but over a 10-year span. We have fewer long-term care beds today than we did in 1999, we have an aging population, and we have increased pressure every year for long-term care and yet we're willing to wait 10 years to space out 1,300 new long-term care beds. We know that's actually the crux of a lot of the problems in health care because that's where the beds are being held in hospitals. I know probably others among us here have met people on the doorstep who were telling us that their relatives are spending four and six months in hospital beds waiting for long-term care beds and perhaps even more than that. I certainly have those discussions on the doorstep with constituents.

This is very hard on everyone. It is difficult in the system, but it is very hard on the families that are trying to do the best for their parents and relatives, and very difficult on the elderly who are in a position that is not the right place to be, as an elderly person - you don't belong in a hospital, you belong in a place where there is some social interaction and some different services that would provide some stimulation in their lives. We know that is one of the key areas of difficulty in the health care system, yet we are looking at a 10-year plan, presumably to solve it, if, indeed, 1300 beds would do that.

The promise to eliminate the corporate capital tax is not promised until 2012, so a full six years away from today, which, again, is too much time elapsing before we get to that. That is something that would make our province more competitive today. The corporate sector has been asking for that for a long time, and I for one believe that when you help to

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stimulate business you do, in fact, generate more jobs, as we said, that will help all of us. I think that is a very important thing that should be looked at, as well, in a more timely fashion.

Daycare, again, is an area that is very important to me. In this budget we are looking at a 10 year-daycare plan to add 1500 spaces. How many of us have talked to people in our constituencies and, in our work as ministers across the Assembly here, and realize that people are waiting a year and a half to get infants into a daycare centre, that parents are calling us in tears because they can't find those spaces. There is a tremendous need for spaces today, not in that many years down the road.

So I think it is really important that we look at these and to have more immediate needs. I am really shocked, actually, that the government would put forth a plan that is spread over so many years, because the impact is going to be so diluted by the time it finally comes. Those are all concerns we have today.

In terms of university students and their future, we are extremely concerned about the high debt load of students and the need for them to leave the province because they have to get higher paying jobs in order to pay back that debt. It really creates a vicious circle that hurts us economically, because we lose the benefit and the skills of those young people even before we have been able to harness them here in Nova Scotia.

I note that the government has introduced a graduate tax credit which would begin with this budget, but is $1,000 which they can benefit by over three years. I commend you for looking at this, it was a very big part of the Liberal platform that we put forward. We felt we were the only Party that really addressed that important need of trying to create incentives for young people to stay here. One thousand dollars over three years is just a token, really, and I think we recognize that. I would hope the government is going to look to expand that. Again, we are not even competing adequately with our nearest neighbour, New Brunswick, in doing this.

The parental contribution limits, which again are being reduced for parents, that is the right way to go but we are tinkering with this. We should get out of that entirely and allow students to be seen in their own right as individuals and adults. I think it is very important that they be seen as adults who are capable of assuming their debt and paying it back. There are too many unusual cases where students are denied any kind of student assistance and have to work extra jobs because they either have a falling-out with their parents, or their parents are unable or unwilling to provide the funds that we think that, under the government rules, should be provided. So I think there is a tremendous need to adjust that as well.

The measures for the students are very inadequate in this budget. Again, I think it is important in the context to recognize that the May Speech from the Throne created high expectations among students. The government, at that time, through the Speech from the Throne, said they would bring the average tuition in Nova Scotia to the Canadian average.

[Page 87]

We are, right now, $2000 above that national average. Then, when the budget was introduced just a few days later, there was no measure to begin that reduction in tuition this year. So I think the students were rightly very disillusioned and disappointed to see that the government did not act on their stated objective to bring us into line. Again, this plan that is in place is one that goes over many years. There is no reduction in tuition, you are going to try to hold the line until all the other provinces catch up. Well, guess what? They are not all catching up, some of them are reducing tuition, like they have in Newfoundland and Labrador. We have to be competitive with that province. So there is a great deal of concern there.

Mr. Speaker, gas regulation, this is certainly an area where the Liberal Party differs dramatically from the other two Parties in this House. The current gas regulation, which was just introduced on July 1st, is something we have opposed, and we have opposed it for many, many good reasons. All the clear evidence that has been gathered, including a $170,000 consultant's report, which the government commissioned and which was received last fall - the Gardner Pinfold report - all those studies said we could not affect the price of gas, because we are too small a province, and that regulation would only cost us more, that consumers would pay more at the pumps if we actually went ahead with regulation. Yet despite that advice, the government has done so. It is somewhat perplexing why any government, any group of people who are entrusted by Nova Scotians to make good decisions on their behalf, would not use your judgement and would not follow the advice of the experts, and really question this move. I think we should be monitoring this very closely, with an eye to removing it and removing regulation if, in fact, we see that the price is just higher at the pumps than it should be and, also, that there is no stability. The only possible excuse for doing this is to provide some stability at the pumps.

We are not going to see that under the current plan. You are allowing a two-week period for readjusting the price, which is very short anyway, and there is a provision to change it if something dramatic happens in the meantime. So, really, there is no guarantee for the consumers of this province that they will even have two-week periods in which they know what the price of gas is going to be. I think if you ask Nova Scotians, they would not want to pay more, not even a cent more to have their gas regulated if that was the cost at the pumps.

While we are talking about the cost at the pumps, how are we paying for the regulation of this new regime we are putting in place so we can control gas prices? We are paying for it by charging consumers. Here in Nova Scotia, the cost is nine-tenths of a cent for administration of the program on a litre of gasoline. So we are going to collect over $1 million - I think the cost is about $1.4 million, if I am not mistaken - to manage this program over an annual basis. That, as well, is being paid for by the people of Nova Scotia.

It is interesting at that point to wonder why New Brunswick is able to introduce this with a mere fee of a quarter of a cent in administration costs when we are going with nine-tenths of a cent. However, I will defer to the government about what it costs to actually

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introduce this. I think we need to look very carefully, as the year unfolds, at what the costs are and how it is that we, the people of Nova Scotia, have to pay those extra costs.

Mr. Speaker, in terms of the offshore, the government is using offshore revenues to help balance their budget and to fund program spending. I think there is a note here that has to be cautionary in that. In just the two months, from May 9th, when the budget came in, to today, when it has been revised, we have seen the offshore revenues go down by $8 million. The one revision here was that it was to go from $288 million down to $280 million because of revised estimates on offshore royalties. We are looking at a resource here that is not renewable and its lifespan is not tremendously long.

The Export Development Corporation said the value of our offshore exports will decline by 5 per cent next year, just as an example. So we are looking at something that really should be invested for the benefit of Nova Scotians over the long term . We should be seeking some kind of an investment in infrastructure, a legacy, that would actually make Nova Scotia more competitive at the time when our gas is no longer flowing or this particular project is no longer there.

It has been wonderful to have this extra money the last few years and it is increasing very dramatically, but we know it is not going to last for long. I would, and on behalf of our caucus, very much like to see the government look at something that is an investment that is more permanent so that we could actually tie it to something that would be advancing our cause. Right now, we are not getting anywhere in terms of just putting it into programming that we may not be able to afford in the future. I think that is the big concern whether or not this is a sustainable move.

Mr. Speaker, our debt continues to grow. It is at $12.4 billion right now. We heard it was about $50,000 per family, $50,000 per family in Nova Scotia. Although our ability to service that debt has been increasing because of our royalties and our own source revenues, that's a positive thing, but while the debt continues to grow we are not going to be a competitive province. We do need a plan that's more aggressive in terms of addressing that debt, without a doubt.

[2:00 p.m.]

In terms of the fiscal imbalance- I'd just like to touch on that today because it's been a big part of this speech as well, I think there's a real parallel to just a few years ago, when the government ran their election on the 10 per cent tax cut and had very high expectations and hopes that they would re-arrange the agreement with the federal government and have enough money to actually offer that 10 per cent tax cut to all Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, we've seen that it didn't occur. In 2004, the tax cut was reversed, it was introduced and then reversed back to back because the good news didn't come from Ottawa.

During that year, year and a half, we heard nothing but blame for Ottawa, nothing but criticism about what Ottawa was doing in regards to negotiations with Nova Scotia. The

[Page 89]

reality is, we have to learn to live within our means. As I said in the beginning, we have almost $200 billion more in revenue today than we did seven years ago. Surely we can plan and live within our means with that and not continually look to Ottawa for blame. I would expect the government to continue to negotiate always and be a partner at the table in the fiscal imbalance negotiations, but not in any way to just look to that as an excuse for not following through on obligations. The obligations the government make should be based on their own source revenue that they can count on today and not in the future.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of areas I pointed out where I have concerns. One of them as well would have to be the troubling size of the Cabinet that the Premier has chosen to put in place; 18 members of Cabinet when we have a tiny province of less than 1 million people. I think it's just a bad signal in terms of governance and it is not very difficult to say that Canadians are over-governed and I think that we've just seen an example that Nova Scotians are currently over-governed. This is really crass, old-style politics to create such a huge Cabinet. You think so, I do. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, the concern today is that some of the ministers do not even have full departments, they have only a few little agencies or areas- not to say that any one of them are not important but a single minister could handle several of them. The Premier himself knows that he balanced several of those himself when he had the portfolio of Tourism and Culture, Immigration, and Health Promotions. It certainly can happen and I think that we've shown a signal to Nova Scotians that we don't care much about working as efficiently as possible. I think, as well, that it's worth noting that the Premier has appointed his former chief of staff to a position that pays $130,000 to head up an agency that doesn't even exist yet, that hasn't even been constituted. I think that again is a sign of lack of concern for the spending of the province, and we do need to look at that in some detail as we go forward.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's also important that we mention some of the more positive aspects of the more recent Speech from the Throne and perhaps the government's direction in choices. We are pleased to see that the government has looked at a dedicated department for seniors, and we will watch to see the time frame and the roll out of that. That was certainly again a major issue for the Liberal platform and we spoke about it at great length during the election. We believe that seniors- there are 160,000 seniors in Nova Scotia - need a better voice, a more focused voice at the Cabinet Table. That would be a huge department, that would be something of a great significance, it would also take pressure off the health department to have those issues dealt with in another area - we strongly support that move.

We also believe that the move to create a rural economic development division within the Office of Economic Development is a positive step, very much. (Applause) The rural economy is an essential part of the growth of this province, and our caucus is dedicated to ensuring the viability of our rural communities. Part of that is ensuring that there is positive sustainable growth, so we need an extra attention on that and we appreciate the move in that direction. We are also delighted to see the governments' willingness to accept the tax credits for graduates as an incentive to stay although, as I said, it's only the very beginning, we would like to see that extended to some considerable degree.

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Mr. Speaker, in closing I would simply like to say that we're committed to working with our colleagues here in the Legislature to examining the budget line-by-line with the ministers responsible, and to look for value for Nova Scotians in the way we spend their money and how we direct the priorities of this province. With that, I would like to thank my colleagues for their attention and I would adjourn debate. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The Estimates are referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Supply.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition on behalf of the residents of the Wentworth Cumberland County area. The operative clause is, "We the undersigned petition the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board to keep open the Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School." There are approximately 697 signatures on this petition, Mr. Speaker, and I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 27

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

Whereas Mayann Francis, current Chief Executive Officer of the Human Rights Commission, was recently appointed to the position of Lieutenant Governor of the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Whitney Pier native's historic and monumental appointment speaks to her professionalism, dedication to the plight of the marginalized and oppressed individuals and communities, and her role in creating positive change in the community as a whole; and

[Page 91]

Whereas Ms. Francis is a strong role model not only for the African Nova Scotian community but for all Nova Scotians and as Lieutenant Governor she will represent and serve her community and this province well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Mayann Francis on her recent appointment of Lieutenant Governor for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has ben 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.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education

RESOLUTION NO. 28

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

Whereas Dalhousie University Political Science Professor, Frank Harvey, has been awarded the Fulbright Visiting Chair in Canadian Studies at Plattsburgh State University, the first Atlantic Canadian to receive this honour and while in New York State, Dr. Harvey will research issues around homeland security; and

Whereas Dalhousie University Law Professor Esmeralda Thornhill has won a Fulbright honour and will be a visiting Scholar at Temple University, in Philadelphia and Dr. Thornhill, the first holder of the university's James R. Johnson Chair in Black Canadian Studies, will lecture and develop teaching materials that promote classroom equality; and

Whereas Dalhousie University Biology Professor Bill Freedman earned a gold place recognition and a $5,000 prize at the Canadian Environmental Awards in Vancouver in early June, for his efforts to preserve Canada's rich, yet fragile environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House offer their congratulations to Doctors Harvey, Thornhill and Freedman, for winning these prestigious awards and for bringing honour to their university and to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 92]

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.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister for African Nova Scotian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 29

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

Whereas years of research, records and artifacts were destroyed this past March, when the Black Loyalist Heritage Society's offices were set on fire; and

Whereas the Black Loyalists work very hard to tell their story, which is not only Black history, but Nova Scotian history; and

Whereas on July 10th, a benefit concert will be held in Halifax, featuring local and international choirs, to help rebuild what was lost in the fire;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending along our best wishes to the Black Loyalist Heritage Society and join me in the condemnation of this senseless act of vandalism.

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 93]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 217 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Income Tax Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Enforce a Moratorium on Strip Mines in Cape Breton. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 25 of the Acts of 1996. The Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act. (Mr. Sterling Belliveau)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 30

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has played a significant role in the naval affairs of Canada; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's Irving Shipyard has developed a strong reputation based in large part on the quality and skills of its workforce; and

Whereas the contract to build the country's new naval supply ships could sustain and help to revitalize the shipbuilding industry in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature urge the federal government to favourably consider the bid being put forward by the Irving Shipyard-backed consortium for the construction of the new naval supply ships.

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 94]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 31

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

Whereas 65,000 women and children immigrated to Canada during and following the Second World War, with the majority arriving 60 years ago this year; and

Whereas war brides from across Canada will come to Halifax on August 18th to 20th to a special 60th Anniversary Reunion; and

Whereas a Via Rail train will leave Montreal on November 6th and arrive at Pier 21 on November 7th picking up war brides and their families from various communities in between to join in a two day celebration of their arrival 60 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly officially recognize 2006 as the Year of the War Bride.

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. 32

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

Whereas 4-H has been helping to develop well-rounded, responsible and independent youth since 1913; and

Whereas eight 4-H members of Nova Scotia have been chosen to take part in the 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and travel to western Canada in July; and

[Page 95]

Whereas Terrance Todd, from Avondale, Hants County, was chosen as one of Nova Scotia's participants in the exchange program to travel to Alberta because of exceptional contributions to the 4-H program and to his community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Terrance Todd and all the participants in the annual Royal Bank of Canada 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and wish them happy travels.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for 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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 33

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

Whereas school administrators are crucial to the success of our schools and the education of our children; and

Whereas Tallahassee Community School is an excellent school in which the school principal has been vital to its success; and

Whereas Doug Pickup is being transferred to a new school after five years as principal of Tallahassee Community School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Doug Pickup for his years of service to Tallahassee Community School and the community of Eastern Passage.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 96]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 34

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

Whereas on May 13th Acadia University inducted Andy Anderson into their prestigious Sports Hall of Fame for being an accomplished athlete in rugby, hockey, baseball, and track and field; and

Whereas Mr. Anderson graduated from Acadia University in 1933 and went on to medical school at McGill University where he graduated to become a physician in 1938; and

Whereas Mr. Anderson later went on to win several service award medals in the Second World War, serving as a distinguished officer in Sicily, Italy and northwest Europe before he tragically passed away in a motor vehicle accident in Germany;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House honour the memory of Andy Anderson and congratulate the Anderson family for the recognition of the many contributions Andy made to our community and to this province, and to also honour his efforts and sacrifice for our country during his distinguished service as an officer in the Army.

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 Centre.

[Page 97]

RESOLUTION NO. 35

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

Whereas a 114-room Holiday Inn and 500-seat convention centre will be built in Stellarton's new industrial park and is expected to open for business in September 2007; and

Whereas the development is an exciting opportunity for Pictou County to enhance its tourism sector and will have many spin-off opportunities, starting with the construction of the facility; and

Whereas the new convention centre will provide opportunities for long-term employment for students from the Pictou Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College who graduate from the business, business information technology, office information technology and hospitality programs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate the Town of Stellarton, the MacKay Group and BANC Group of Companies on the deal to build the convention centre and the benefits the facility will have for individuals and businesses in Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 36

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

Whereas North/South, a six part dramatic series produced by the Halifax Film Company and Inner City Films of Toronto, hits the television screens today, probably in 12 minutes; and

[Page 98]

Whereas North/South is written and produced by Floyd Kane who hails from East Preston; and

Whereas this production was shot in and around Halifax with many local actors and an all-Canadian cast and crew;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend congratulations and best wishes to everyone associated with the production of North/South, particularly Floyd Kane, its creator and producer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 37

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

Whereas Crosby House has served as an abstinence-based addictions centre helping over 4,000 alcoholics, drug addicts and problem gamblers;

Whereas George Libby led a team of volunteers to raise funds and work with the business community to ensure the centre reopened after it was closed in 2003; and

Whereas in March of this year Crosby House reopened its doors as a private non-profit centre run by a volunteer board with charitable donations, allowing the centre to offer its services at a much lower rate than similar centres throughout Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the dedicated volunteer board of Crosby House Society and the volunteers who brought this much needed centre back to Nova Scotia and wish them continued success in helping others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 99]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 38

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

Whereas 4-H members engage in technical skill development, exciting projects, and form long-lasting friendships; and

Whereas eight 4-H members from Nova Scotia have been chosen to take part in the 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and travel to western Canada in July; and

Whereas Jessie Dowe from Amherst, Cumberland County, was chosen as one of Nova Scotia's participants in the exchange program to travel to Manitoba because of her exceptional contributions to the 4-H program and to her community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jessie Dowe and all the participants in the annual Royal Bank of Canada 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and wish them happy travels.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 100]

RESOLUTION NO. 39

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

Whereas the intersection of Walter Havill Drive, Albert J. Walker Drive and Northwest Arm Drive in Halifax is within provincial jurisdiction; and

Whereas this intersection has been the site of numerous collisions over the years, more than double the provincial average for similar intersections; and

Whereas Department of Transportation and Public Works staff have called it perhaps the most dangerous intersection in western HRM and have identified safety modifications to the intersection as being a regional priority for the 2006-07 budget year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation and Public Works should immediately make the necessary safety modifications to the intersection of Walter Havill Drive, Albert J. Walker Drive and Northwest Arm Drive.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 40

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

Whereas the congregation of Bethal Pentecostal Church in Glace Bay celebrated Canada Day with a special service Sunday, July 2, 2006; and

Whereas Pastor Bob Lawthor and his congregation chose to honour members of the Royal Canadian Legion, John Bernard Croach VC Branch 3at this ceremony; and

Whereas this event was much appreciated by the local community and those in attendance;

[Page 101]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Pastor Bob Lawthor and his congregation for the time and effort in organizing this very worthwhile event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 41

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

Whereas Salmon River, Colchester County, home of Deuville's Rink, is Hockeyville Canada, being named as our country's most spirited hockey community in the 2006 Kraft-CBC Hockeyville search; and

Whereas Salmon River bested 49 other Canadian communities to win the Hockeyville Canada title; and

Whereas Deuville's Rink, which began as an outdoor facility, was built by father Webster around 1960 for his children and neighbourhood kids, added a concrete floor in the 1980s, a roof in 1989 and artificial ice in 1997, is home to both ice and ball hockey;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Salmon River, Colchester County for earning the designation as Hockeyville Canada and thank Webster and Ellery Deuville and other members of the Deuville families for their outstanding contribution to Salmon River and surrounding communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 102]

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 Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 42

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

Whereas Mayann Francis, originally from Whitney Pier, one of the most ethnically diverse communities in the country, has been appointed Lieutenant Governor of this great province of ours; and

Whereas Mayann Francis will become the first Black woman to obtain this distinguished position; and

Whereas Mayann Francis currently holds the position of Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commission, was the former Nova Scotia Ombudsman and the first female to hold that position, served as human rights officer in Nova Scotia, was recognized for her achievements with the Harry Jerome Award, received an award from the Multicultural Education Council of Nova Scotia, along with being awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of the Legislative Assembly congratulate Mayann Francis on her appointment as Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and wish her all the best in her new role.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park

[Page 103]

RESOLUTION NO. 43

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

Whereas Silent Witness Nova Scotia has been organized to give voice to women who have lost their lives at the hands of their intimate partners; and

Whereas since 1990 more than 35 Nova Scotian women have been killed and their voices silenced by domestic violence; and

Whereas Silent Witness is in the process of commemorating the lives of these women through life-sized silhouettes which will stand as a memorial and a call to action to end domestic violence;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House encourage and congratulate the organizing committee as they seek to establish chapters throughout Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 44

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

Whereas 4-H Clubs focus on fun, friends and learning new skills such as creating crafts, building a Web site, producing a play, building a small engine or learning about animals; and

Whereas eight 4-H members from Nova Scotia have been chosen to take part in the 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and travel to western Canada in July; and

[Page 104]

Whereas Dominique Blais of Wileville, Lunenburg County, was chosen as one of Nova Scotia's participants in the exchange program to travel to Alberta because of exceptional contributions to the 4-H program and to her community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dominique Blais and all the participants in the annual Royal Bank of Canada 4-H Interprovincial Exchange Program and wish them happy travels.

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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 45

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

Whereas Candace Slaunwhite of Terence Bay was chosen as this year's Female Athlete of the Year at Halifax West High School; and

Whereas Candace Slaunwhite has excelled at various sports during her scholastic career; and

Whereas Candace's dedication and commitment to her school work and sports are exemplary;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Candace Slaunwhite on her selection as the Female Athlete of the Year at Halifax West High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 105]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 46

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 eighth annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in June 2006; and

Whereas growing up in an athletic community and being blessed with natural abilities, Dan Weir excelled at every sport he played and, in recognition of his skills and versatility, Dan has been inducted into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Dan has competed and won at provincial levels in tennis, fastball, as well as hockey where his 1970 record at West Kings for points per game still stands - his remarkable accomplishments in a variety of sports are to be admired;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Dan Weir on his induction into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame and wish him continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it 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.

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, before I present this resolution I beg your permission to do an introduction.

Mr. Speaker, in your gallery are two constituents of Victoria-The Lakes, Brenda Wall and Tom Vickers. I would ask them to please stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 106]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 47

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton North, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on June 30, 2006, the Bras d'Or Seniors and Pensioners Club seniors gathered to celebrate 30 years of service to the community; and

Whereas Emerson Jessome, president of the club, acknowledged members of the club by presenting them with pins; and

Whereas the members enjoyed an evening of fellowship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending congratulations to Emerson Jessome and the members of the Brad d'Or Seniors and Pensioners Club.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 48

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

Whereas the Community of Spryfield lost its only child-care facility two years ago, depriving children, parents and the local economy of the benefits of locally accessible and affordable child care; and

[Page 107]

Whereas this government evidently understands the importance of "adequate, predictable and long-term transfers of funding for any enterprise" yet has done nothing to restore funding for the child-care services in Spryfield; and

Whereas all citizens of Nova Scotia, in all parts of the province, should have access to quality and affordable child care, including Spryfield;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commit to restoring a child-care centre to the citizens of Spryfield as quickly as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 49

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

Whereas June was Stroke Awareness Month; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has among the worst rates of death from stroke in Canada; and

Whereas the Heart and Stroke Society of Nova Scotia has been working hard to teach Nova Scotians to prevent strokes by eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy body weight and having an active lifestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature thank the Heart and Stroke Society staff and volunteers for working hard to reduce the number of strokes in our province and to keep Nova Scotians healthy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 108]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 50

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

Whereas Dr. Sheila Brown has been President and Vice-Chancellor of Mount Saint Vincent University for the past 10 years; and

Whereas Dr. Brown has made an indelible mark on MSVU in the areas of community partnerships, student scholarships and leading-edge education programs throughout the Carribean; and

Whereas Dr. Brown is retiring and intends to relax a little before embarking on new challenges and endeavours;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Dr. Sheila Brown on her many outstanding accomplishments and wish her all the best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 51

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

[Page 109]

Whereas Trenton Works is one of the economic engines of northern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Trenton Works is making strong efforts to compete with other Greenbrier plants in the United States and Mexico; and

Whereas the Pictou County plant has significantly increased productivity in recent months;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend and congratulate the 600 workers currently employed at Trenton Works, along with the management and support staff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 52

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

Whereas the Voluntary Planning Heritage Task Force recently released its interim report and recommendations for a provincial heritage strategy; and

Whereas many of the recommendations centre on greater protection of our built heritage; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has many fine examples of diverse and beautiful architecture that are well worth preserving as an integral part of our shared heritage and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Voluntary Planning Task Force on Heritage for the work done so far, and encourage all Nova Scotians to take part in the public feedback phase of the process which concludes on September 1st.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 110]

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: Question Period will begin at 2:34 p.m. and end at 3:34 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM.: DIGBY-SAINT JOHN FERRY - CLOSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Bay Ferries is the private operator that took over the Digby ferry in 1997 when the federal Liberal Government decided it would no longer run the operation. On Friday, Bay Ferries Limited announced that it plans to end the service between Digby and Saint John on October 31st. This move will put 100 Bay Ferries' employees out of work along with at least 30 people who work for associated contractors, all in an area that can ill afford these kinds of job losses. Tourism, of course, plays a large role in the area and tens of thousands of people used this route as their entry point into Nova Scotia. My question is, what is this government doing to ensure this job-killing plan is halted and that this important service continues?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition raises a very good point. Upon hearing of the news put out by Bay Ferries last week, I immediately contacted Mark MacDonald of Bay Ferries and had a discussion on this. Our minister has immediately moved forward to talk to a variety of stakeholders, both within various levels of government as well as Bay Ferries. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition and all members of this House that the government is working on this issue and we will do everything we can to see the return of this service.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, while Bay Ferries will continue to operate out of Yarmouth, the Princess of Acadia is the only ferry in southwest Nova Scotia that carries commercial trucks. The loss of this ferry will have a severe effect on companies that carry Christmas trees, ship fish and live lobster - without the Digby ferry, the trip to New England markets will be at least seven hours longer and much more expensive. This service is vital to the entire southwest Nova Scotia economy. My question for the Premier is, what does the

[Page 111]

Premier have to say to fishermen, small business owners and tourism operators about what he is doing to make sure this route continues?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned in my previous answer, I have already contacted Bay Ferries - myself personally - on this issue. We feel very strongly that this is important from an economic perspective, from a tourism perspective, for the transfer of goods for the region. The minister who is leading the charge on this file is our Minister of Economic Development and I have every assurance that they will continue to proceed with the file.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the shutdown of this ferry is going to hurt rural areas in southwest Nova Scotia the most. In last week's Speech from the Throne, the Premier alluded to fostering rural economic growth in Nova Scotia and I can only assume that would have included southwest Nova Scotia. My question is, if Bay Ferries Limited ends this service, what contingency plans will this government put in place to ensure the economic viability of this region?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unlike the Opposition, I'm not going to be a pessimist about this file, I'm going to be optimistic about this file. This government will not let the people of southwestern Nova Scotia down, I can assure you of that.

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

TPW: DIGBY-SAINT JOHN FERRY - CLOSURE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Last week this province received news of a potential shutdown of the Digby to Saint John ferry service. Bay Ferries has stated one of its problems is roads in western Nova Scotia. The road that comes from the ferry terminal that connects the traffic to Highway No. 101 is constantly jammed with local traffic. When the ferry traffic comes in, this road becomes a living nightmare for locals and tourists alike. The alders have grown up so badly on this road, last year residents who live along it cut some of them down themselves, from embarrassment, for the tourists.

After the ferry traffic fights through the alders and traffic jams to find Highway No. 101 towards Yarmouth, they find that it's not there. The sign says it's there, but it's not there. When the traffic heads up the Valley towards Halifax, the tourists find no passing lanes on Highway No. 101 between Bridgetown and Kentville - more frustration. No wonder tourist traffic is down. Who in their right mind would come back to a place like that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. THERIAULT: . . . especially after driving on New Brunswick roads.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Question.

[Page 112]

MR. THERIAULT: Is the Minister of Transportation and Public Works prepared to look into rebuilding the infrastructure of Western Nova Scotia, making it a welcoming entry point for our national and international visitors?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thought for a moment that we had reverted to the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and we were no longer in Question Period. However, we did hear a question and I can assure the honourable member that we are committed to improving the roads in this province, not only in the area that concerns him but all over the province. We've committed to 2,000 kilometres of pavement over the coming years and we're going to get on with that business.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, this question is to the Minister of Tourism. National and international ferry services and roads in western Nova Scotia are vital for the province's growth in both of its best economic generators, tourism and fishery. Both of these industries have the potential to double if the proper infrastructure, marketing and management are put in place. Our fishery can possibly double if we would only look at other countries that have already done this. Tourism could also be doubled if proper transportation connected us to one of our greatest trading partners, the United States.

My question to the minister is, is the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage prepared to look into investing proper access for our tourism industry, not just in regard to the Digby ferry but across our great province?

HON. LEN GOUCHER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In rising my first time in the House I'm not sure if that question should really be directed to me, possibly the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. From a Tourism, Culture and Heritage perspective we are very, very proud of the budget that we have put forth this year. We've had a $2 million increase in it, from a tourism perspective. We have a $600,000 increase in our marketing and with that $600,000 increase in marketing we will move forward to put our best foot forward in Atlantic Canada and the northeastern U.S. markets to ensure that our tourism projections for 2012 - which as everybody knows in this House calls for a doubling of the tourism revenue in this province for that time and you will see significant change within the budget. Thank you.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. This vital link directly employs approximately 130 people in both Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. At its peak, this service carries 190,000 passengers to this province, both national and international. It also carries a huge percentage of Nova Scotia products to vital markets in Upper Canada and the United States. Last year we saw the Scotia Prince stop its run from Yarmouth to Maine and it affected everyone in this province. Losing the link between Digby and Saint John is certainly going to be another large blow for business, not only for western Nova Scotia and Halifax but the whole province. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier and his ministers responsible meet with the wardens and mayors from western Nova Scotia Wednesday following the adjournment of this House?

[Page 113]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I thank the honourable member for the question. As you know I hail from the beautiful Yarmouth area and that is going to have a definite negative impact on my community. We are very concerned with the service in the Digby-Saint John run and I can assure the member, as I did on Friday, that there will be meetings and that member will be involved in the meetings and the meeting will be on Wednesday after the House gets out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM.: SUNDAY SHOPPING - POLICING

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. On Sunday, Atlantic Superstore opened its doors to retail shoppers shortly after it opened its doors to the police. Law enforcement officials were sent, tape measures in hand to ensure that these stores were in compliance with the Retail Uniform Business Closing Day Act, a piece of legislation that these days resembles a moving target. Instead of being out in the communities on patrol, law enforcement officials are now being asked to patrol grocery stores. They are in effect being asked to target their limited resources to policing grocers instead of criminals. My question for the Premier is, will the Premier tell this House why prosecuting grocery retailers is what his government wants to happen?

[2:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will say one thing and the reality is that there have been many perspectives across Nova Scotia on this issue. I, myself, have said it very clearly. I voted in favour of a form of Sunday shopping when the last plebiscite came up, but the people of Nova Scotia have spoken and I respect the plebiscite. Perhaps the Leader of the Opposition can say - does he respect the plebiscite?

MR. DEXTER: I'll tell you what I'm going to do, Mr. Speaker, I am going to outline for the Premier the process his government seems to be embarking upon. Very likely, whether charges proceed or not, Atlantic Superstore, and perhaps other grocery retailers will defy a law which may not be enforceable. If they or others are prosecuted and appeals are pursued, there could be up to four courts asked to rule on such a case, taking six or more years. The legal bills for the province would be significant, not to mention those for the defendants. Provincial legislation allows for the government to request a Nova Scotia Court of Appeal to rule on a question, and the process is perfectly designed for a situation like this.

So I ask the Premier, will your government refer this issue directly to the Court of Appeal, saving the province and our retailers a great deal in potential costs?

[Page 114]

[2:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to give the Leader of the Opposition one more chance, does he support the plebiscite or not? Leadership comes from example, and I can tell you I support the plebiscite. What does he support?

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, leadership comes with actually answering a question every now and then. It's clear that resources for both the provincial government and local police forces are needlessly diverted from other priorities while this course of action is being pursued. In the meantime, employees are being forced to work with little or no protection against intimidation or retribution should they choose not to work on Sunday. So my question for the Premier is, what protection will his government put in place for retail employees who may increasingly be forced to work on Sunday?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious the Leader of the Opposition doesn't want to go near that question, but the reality is, I will refer this to the minister responsible for the Act.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the Leader of the Opposition, I'm obviously aware of the process that he referred to, and we are obviously looking at everything. I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, that it's quite a simple situation. We have a law here, that Act, which was approved by the voters of Nova Scotia. The police have received complaints. The police will investigate complaints. The police will make a decision about whether charges should be laid, and if they decide to lay charges, obviously the Public Prosecution Service will go from there. That is the ordinary process, and that's the process that should be pursued.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

ECON. DEV.: LIGHTBRIDGE - CLOSURE

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Over two years ago and after significant investment by the local municipal government and ACOA, a new business facility was built in my home community of Liverpool. This helped attract a major new employer to the community. We were pleased to welcome Lightbridge as a good corporate citizen with well over 150 jobs created for local residents. Recently, the company announced that it will have to close the facility and lay off the employees in August because of the loss of a major contract. The window time is very narrow and employee morale is low. Will the Premier tell this House what steps he will take to ensure that keeping these people employed remains a top priority for Nova Scotia Business Inc. and the Office of Economic Development?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Economic Development.

[Page 115]

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I can assure that honourable member that Nova Scotia Business Inc. is well in tune with this file and, to date, I think there has been a potential of five clients go through that facility to look at maybe opening up business in that area.

MS. CONRAD: For the dedicated staff at Nova Scotia Business Inc. and other local officials who are working hard to find a new operator, I recognize the challenge posed in seeking a successor company to locate in Liverpool. I also know, Mr. Speaker, that there are many selling points to recommend our community as a great place to do business. In this case, there are over 150 committed, trained workers eager to keep providing for their families. There is also a turnkey facility ready for them to occupy.

I will direct this question again to the Minister of Economic Development. What assurances can he give that a new employer will be found before the August 24th closure of Lightbridge?

MR. HURLBURT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Sometimes there are challenges in rural Nova Scotia, that is why we announced in our Throne Speech that we would be looking at rural Nova Scotia. Also, I can assure the member and all members of the House that my deputy minister and my staff and Nova Scotia Business Inc. are doing their utmost best to find a candidate that will take over the facilities in the Queens area.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I have had many calls from concerned employees of Lightbridge who want to be assured that their government is taking every possible step to secure a new employer. Staff morale at the facility is getting very low and since I know the minister personally understands the importance of well paying jobs in rural communities, I would like to ask, when can we expect that he will come and meet with employees and local officials to hear their concerns and outline the steps being taken to secure a new employer? (Applause)

MR. HURLBURT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the honourable member, I can assure that honourable member that I travel that road approximately two or three times a week. I can also assure that member that I was in her community on last Friday evening and that if that member wants to arrange a meeting, that this minister will meet with those employees any day of the week. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

COM. SERV.:DAYCARE - FED. FUNDING

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In the dying days before an election, this government finally announced its vision for daycare in this province. Well, our province will lose the benefit of $98 million as a result of Prime Minister Stephen Harper's narrow-minded views about child

[Page 116]

care. Many parents and daycare operators are finally glad to see the province announce something, anything, with respect to a plan on daycare for this province.

My question for the minister is, given that there are huge demands now and a plan has been released, how much of the $20 million offered by the federal government in 2005-06 - in other words, the last fiscal year - will actually be spent this year helping daycare operators and parents across this province?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to rise in the House and speak on an issue that is important to all Nova Scotians, and indeed, all Nova Scotian families. The made in Nova Scotia blended child care plan which will take place over a 10-year period, puts families first. It is a blended approach that will ensure that we have over 1,000 new spaces created, over 500 new, subsidized portable spaces created, and an increase in funding to our family daycare which especially helps in our rural communities. So I am extremely pleased to continue with that commitment as laid out by my predecessor and look forward to unveiling the details of that in the coming days.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw your attention to a request for proposal that appeared on the government Web site on Friday, June 30th. This RFP is seeking the services of an early childhood development consulting firm, and has a budget in the amount of $3 million to $5 million, and a completion date of September 2008. By the time of this project, we will have no daycare workers left. Operational funding is required to provide better wages now, not two years from now. Families are waiting for spaces now, not two years from now.

My question to the minister is, why did your government announce a plan in May when it would appear from the contents of the RFP that we may not have any movement on these initiatives before September 2008?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again to my honourable colleague, I appreciate the opportunity to rise and address the $130 million commitment of this government to child care in Nova Scotia. It's a blended plan, it's meant to be a very complex plan that will include a lot of rural as well as urban issues. As we move forward with this plan in the days to come we'll roll out on the details.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, surely the government and this department are aware of what is needed; more daycare spaces, increased operational grants, wage subsidies and programs for families living in rural Nova Scotia. The issue has not changed, this government has made daycare promises but so far fallen short on delivery. My question is, will this minister outline today what components of the plan that was released in May will see immediate implementation to ensure that the daycare sector in this province is made stronger and not weakened?

[Page 117]

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again to my honourable colleague I would suggest that after being one week in the House on this First Session of the 60th General Assembly, a $130 million commitment on behalf of this government to roll out an increase of 12 per cent in child care spaces is a phenomenal commitment that all Nova Scotians welcome and support.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

COM. SERV.: JOSEPH HOWE MANOR - ASBESTOS

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Late on Friday afternoon it became public that asbestos was found at Joe Howe Manor. We know that there is asbestos in public housing in Sydney and it was kept secret by this government for months while construction workers and residents were exposed. Every attempt to get information about the audit that was conducted or may be conducted has been met with denial and secrecy. In fact, denial and secrecy have characterized this government's response to the question of asbestos in public housing. Its failure to deal with it in a timely and transparent manner is really driving much of the fear and anger behind this issue. My question to the minister is when will her department finally conduct an open, transparent and public audit of the presence of asbestos in all provincially operated housing?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague I thank him for the opportunity to rise in the House and speak on this very important issue. It is absolutely the mandate of our department to ensure the safety of all of our residents and indeed upon learning from Maritime Testing of the issue of asbestos at the Joe Howe Manor we immediately put into action the appropriate steps. We identified the problem, we alerted the residents and we had staff on site all weekend to answer their questions. In actual fact we met with the individuals at noon today to ensure that their concerns were raised. We are doing due diligence and the residents of the Joe Howe Manor are fully aware and they are not in danger.

MR SPEAKER: I would just remind all members asking and answering questions to be mindful of language that borders on unparliamentary and could be called into question.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I was at that meeting this afternoon that the minister referred to and many seniors at the Joe Howe Manor reported breathing problems and issues with air quality. They certainly didn't speak with much satisfaction with the minister's policy on this issue. We know that the housing authorities have been instructed to look for asbestos and other hazardous materials at this manor. Residents are worried about the quality of information from the housing authority. They want to know how this is being handled and they want to know if they have been exposed. My question to the minister is how soon can the residents and workers expect a report back from this minister on this issue?

[Page 118]

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, as I've indicated earlier, the housing authority was on site all weekend, the residents were alerted and indeed we have instructed the staff to make sure that they do some dust samples as a precaution, to be on the safe side. When those results come back we will certainly identify if indeed there are any problems from that point forward.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier I was at that meeting and the residents were told that if they put another coat of paint on their walls and their ceiling, that would address a large part of their problem. We know that's the largest part of the minister's strategy on this issue. We know that Zonolite, containing one of the most dangerous forms of asbestos, is in at least some of these public housing units and if disturbed it can lead to lung disease including cancer for anyone exposed. Clearly the minister is not going to conduct an open transparent audit of asbestos. When can we expect full disclosure, all the findings regarding asbestos in public housing?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to again rise and assure all members of this House and all Nova Scotians that indeed we have done due diligence. The residents are not in any danger and I wonder what strategy my honourable colleague is referring to, I don't have a strategy, and if he is aware of a personal strategy that I have, I would offer him to propose that to me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

HEALTH: BAYSIDE HOME - NURSING HOME BEDS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, for 30 years, I repeat, 30 years, the residents of western Shelburne County have been waiting for a nursing home to be built. The Department of Health first indicated 12 to 16 beds could be added to Bayside Home. Far fewer than the 50 the community needs. Then the Minister of Health wrote the committee and said there would be no nursing home beds in the near future. But during the election, the Premier stopped by to commit 40 beds. My question to the Premier is, how many beds will the community get, and when will they be built?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed I did visit that facility and had an opportunity to meet the staff and many of the residents. I had an opportunity to see the fine quality of health care that is being delivered there. We made a commitment and I have made a commitment to 40 beds, and as such, they will get 40 beds during the continuing-care strategy.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the Minister of Health, and I am going to do my interpretation of Vanna White here. I would like to table a tender for . . .

[Page 119]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would also like to remind all members both new and returning, that the use of props is not permitted in the House and if you have a document to table, the Page will be happy to present it to the Clerks.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I'm quickly learning, but I'm not going to give up on the Bayside project. (Applause)

I tabled the tender for Brass Hill Manor, which dates back 30 years, and I will repeat, I'm going to say it repeatedly, 30 years. Let's all say it together.

SOME HON MEMBERS: Thirty years.

MR. BELLIVEAU: The residents of western Shelburne County are tired of broken promises. They are tired of sending their elderly ill away to get care, and they are tired of watching couples who have been married for 50 to 60 years, and more, torn apart, when one or both requires care. My question is to the Minister of Health, what assurances will be given today that this government will finally address the complete lack of nursing home beds in western Shelburne County?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to maybe dispel some of the myths about Bayside. Bayside, of course, is a facility in Cape Island, in Clarks Harbour that basically is a residential care facility, which we will be transferring, and we were very happy to announce that last week, the transfer of the existing 22 beds that are there today. We are going to be constructing, within the first four years, the amount of time that it takes to get a tender out, the amount of time it takes to actually construct things. We all get our hard hats together and get out there and build this home as quickly as possible. So I'm saying that since it has been 30 years that we have been waiting for a home in Bayside, that they will finally have what they deserve.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the Municipality of Barrington in the Town of Clarks Harbour have offered $280,000, plus land, to expand Bayside Home. Three political Parties agreed during the election that the community needs a nursing home. My final question to the Minister of Health is, the local communities are willing to do their part, so when will the minister put out a tender call for the need for the 50-bed expansion for Bayside Home?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I must correct the member opposite, that we have committed to a 40-bed expansion to Bayside because that is the amount of beds that that facility can sustain. Plus, we want to be doing some other things within that community, including respite care, including adult daycare and all the things that are going to help seniors stay in their homes longer. So Mr. Speaker, I am committing that as soon as we can get a budget done and we can get the tender documents down, that we will be announcing that as soon as we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[Page 120]

GOV'T. (N.S.): GAS PRICES - LOWER

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on Canada Day, the Progressive Conservative Government placed regulations on gas prices in Nova Scotia. It has been shown quite clearly that this will not help motorists and, in fact, will cost Nova Scotians more at the end of the day.

Nova Scotians woke up on Saturday to see higher gas prices in our province as a direct result of regulation. My question to the Premier is, when will his government finally focus on lower gas prices for Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed the Leader of the Liberal Party is correct, we did introduce regulation on July 1st. We are very clear and our intention was to give stability to Nova Scotians, as well, to provide additional opportunity for small retailers across our province. And I believe that during the election and following, that the people of Nova Scotia have spoken and the majority of Nova Scotians want to see that stability in place.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier continues to talk about stability and claims that by placing regulations on gas, we are going to have such stability. Let's face it, this does not ensure stability for any long-term period. Gas prices can still fluctuate and the consumers will continue to be gouged at the pumps. The bottom line is this, gas regulation is going to give consumers higher prices, while not allowing for the so-called stability this Premier has promised. So my question to the Premier is, what is your plan when gas regulation fails to provide consumers with the stability and the lower prices that all Nova Scotians are looking for?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the reality is - and we've been very clear on this - in regulation, there will be days where the gas prices will be lower, and there will be other days where it will be higher, but it will be a smoothing-out effect, which will provide for that stability.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the federal government has recently lowered the GST, on July 1st, to 6 per cent, but motorists are clearly not seeing this benefit at the pump. We are in a lose-lose situation here, with the people of our province suffering the most. Regulation does nothing to protect consumers from price increases, it just makes certain that gas increases last longer. My question to the Premier is, why are you subjecting the citizens of Nova Scotia to a policy that can only take more money out of their pockets and into the hands of large corporations?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said earlier, there are a number of things in place when it comes to the regulatory process. The intention, at this point, is to move forward to the URB later this Fall, and they will be conducting appropriate reviews and such. There is also a mechanism in place, through the regulations, that on a yearly basis it will be reviewed. We want to make sure that this is in the best interests of Nova Scotians and we feel that that stability and predictability is what Nova Scotians want at the present time.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River- Beaver Bank.

HEALTH: ROCKY LAKE FACILITY - REVIEW EXPLAIN

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Department of Health has announced a partnership with Northwood Care to build 150-bed facility somewhere in the Sackville-Bedford area. The facility site was originally to be located in Rocky Lake and the announcements go back four years. On no fewer than 10 separate occasions, the government committed to building the beds. Now they are delaying building the home even longer, by reviewing the site-selection process. My question to the Minister of Health is, the land has been cleared and things are ready to go on the original site, why the review now?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the question. Of course, this issue has been around for a very long time. Unfortunately, as we go on site selection there is a winner over a loser. I want to make sure that the decision we make is the correct one for the community. As the member opposite knows fairly well, there have been lots of questions about this and lots of interest on the Rocky Lake issue. I just want to make sure that our decision will be the correct one.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, on any given day 200 seniors are waiting for hospital beds in the Halifax-Dartmouth area, badly needed nursing home beds. The new Cobequid Nursing Home was approved in June, 2002. The project should have been completed in 2005 but the government has yet to break ground.

The site is ready to go, the need is obviously there, too. So my question to the minister is, why has his government continued to stall and delay building a nursing home that would have been housing seniors by now?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows very well, during the selection process there were probably 12 sites looked at at that time. Three of them were short-listed and, of course, there is a recommendation before me at this time that I want to make sure is the correct recommendation for all the citizens within the Cobequid health system.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, if you go to the site where the nursing home should stand, you will see nothing but an empty lot, as empty as the 2002 promise to build a nursing home for the residents of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. Seniors and their families in my riding and in the ones surrounding are waiting. My question to the Minister of Health; how much longer will the residents of this area and seniors in hospital beds throughout HRM continue to wait for Cobequid Nursing Home to be built?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the member opposite and assure the member opposite that I will be making a decision very soon.

[Page 122]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

JUSTICE: POLICE OFFICERS - DISTRIBUTION

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my first question is for the honourable Minister of Justice. My own riding of Dartmouth North received more than one visit by the Premier during the recent election. My constituents and I were particularly interested in hearing a promise made back in May to hire an additional 250 police officers for the province. As the Premier reiterated at the time, Statistics Canada figures have shown that HRM is a violent crime capital of Canada.

My first question for the Minister of Justice is, how many of those promised police officers will take up root and jobs in the Halifax-Dartmouth area?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Through you I would like to thank the honourable member for a very good question. As the honourable member mentions, he quoted a statistic that we are not very proud of in this end of the country. I can tell all honourable members through you, that this Department of Justice in this government is working with municipalities, with the chiefs of police, particularly the chiefs of police here in the HRM area, and with the chiefs of police in Nova Scotia, to ensure that we provide additional officers where they will be needed throughout this province.

Mr. Speaker, 200 was the number mentioned by the Premier . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: 250.

MR. SCOTT: Two hundred and fifty, and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that we will work with the municipalities and the RCMP over the next number of years to ensure that the proper number of police officers are put where they need to be in this province.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, in recent years the people of Dartmouth North have had to endure high incidents of juvenile crime, including vandalism, intimidation and swarming. Much of this crime is the outcome of poverty, instability at home and the fact that many of our young people feel alienated and disenfranchised with society. In Dartmouth North we have been successful establishing our Village Constable Program. It has been useful in outreaching and contacting the young people in the community, in schools and in helping them steer back on course.

My second question to the minister is, how many of those promised 250 police officers will be directed towards Village Constable Community Policing? (Applause)

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the honourable member, as I mentioned earlier, we will be working with the municipalities, with the chiefs of police, with the police departments and agencies and RCMP throughout the province to determine where those police officers should be stationed.

[Page 123]

As well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to mention that it has been identified that enforcement is not the only issue we have to deal with. We have to deal with the root issues of crime that we are faced with throughout this province. We, in the Department of Justice, through various programs, some of which are before this House today, on which we will be looking for the NDP support in regard to bills, will deal with that very issue of the problem of crime in this province.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, additional police forces and resources, much as they are needed, are only one part of the answer to our juvenile crime problems. Crime prevention legislation and resources to deflect our young away from bad life choices are just as important. My final question for the honourable minister is, will this government finally commit the needed resources to provide positive alternatives for youth and youth in conflict with the law?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again through you to the honourable member, as I stated earlier and I'll continue to state, the Department of Justice and this government will continue to work with all the stakeholders to ensure that we do what we can to help youth in this province who are in conflict with the law. Again, it's not merely just a matter of enforcement, it's a matter of looking at various programs, legislation not only here in Nova Scotia but across this country, which we are in the process of doing now, which will help with those issues the very member brings forward to this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: HIGHLAND FISHERIES - LOCKOUT

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Unfortunately, I have to rise today to tell you that Clearwater's Highland Fisheries Plant in Glace Bay is still closed and it has been closed for some time now due to a lockout. The government has refused to appoint a mediator to find a viable solution to the problem for both sides, and it now appears that the plant will be closed until at least next year, perhaps even longer.

So my question to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, Mr. Speaker, what further action is the minister going to take to assist the 100 locked-out workers at Highland Fisheries in Glace Bay?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite is quite right. There has been a lockout situation since quite some time in Glace Bay. We have met with the company. We have met with the workers down there. It's an unfortunate situation but, as it stands now, the plant is closed. (Interruptions)

[Page 124]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, Highland Fisheries is an important part of Glace Bay's economy. Surely the minister understands that the workers are now in dire straits. They have refused to appoint a mediator and one of the questions I would like to ask the minister then, what does the minister expect Clearwater is going to do with its fish quotas now that the fish plant is closed until next year, fish quotas that were supposed to be processed at Glace Bay's Highland Fisheries plant?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the shutdown at Glace Bay's Highland Fisheries, the company lost their buyers. They had no place to buy the product - crab, groundfish. So the markets are gone. It's going to be until 2007 - they're trying to get those markets back and they will work on it.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the lockout is now into its fourth month. The people in Glace Bay need a government that's going to help them now. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has thrown his hands up in the air and said there's nothing we can do. The workers are complaining about being kept in the dark. Nobody will even meet with them. So my final question is to the Premier of this province. Mr. Premier, your minister has given up on those workers in Glace Bay, will you take it upon yourself, Mr. Premier, to arrange a meeting, make Clearwater attend, and address the concerns and needs of those workers in Glace Bay?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member I realize it's a big issue in the Glace Bay community. I can appreciate that because I have similar situations in my own riding. The Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture has been very clear. His department and he, himself, are working diligently on this issue. There are a number of components to this issue. We will do all we can and we all hope that we see a return of those jobs next year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

HEALTH - SURGICAL WAIT TIMES

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Isabel Worth will soon turn 81 years old. In spite of numerous health challenges she has an incredible passion for life. Mrs. Worth has blockages cutting off the flow of blood to her leg and she needs surgery to correct it. She is waiting for that surgery in terrible pain because her doctor can't get the operating room time. She is on the emergency list but could wait more weeks or more months for surgery. My question to the Minister of Health, why are the wait times so bad that people on emergency lists - on emergency lists - are waiting weeks or months for surgery?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. We are very well aware that our wait lists are too long, that is something we've talked about on a number of occasions in this House and we are continuing to work with all the stakeholders, that's the docs, the district health authorities, in making sure that

[Page 125]

the correct operating rooms are available when and where they need them. I suggest to you that we will continue our work to make sure that we have the best health system in Canada.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, there are many factors involved. There's a lack of nursing home beds this government intends to delay addressing for up to 10 years. There's a shortage of specialists and little has been done to address recruitment and retention issues. This government's cuts to the Capital Health budget in 2000 and 2001 reduced operating room availability. None of this helps Mrs. Worth or her family. I ask the Minister of Health, when will his government start easing the bottleneck in short-stay surgeries?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to take three items that the member opposite talked about, long-term care of course. We're talking about the continuing care strategy. The NDP tends to try to blow it over that this is about in 10 years we're going to build, we're going to be building 826 beds within the first four years. They can gloss over the issue and make people believe that it's going to be 10 years. Our commitment is going to be doing that within the first four years. We have more doctors in this province, we have a nursing strategy that is retaining, training and making sure that our nurses are here in this province, staying in this province. We're doing everything that we can and we will continue to make sure that the health care system works in this province.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Worth is concerned about days not years. Mrs. Worth is in very poor health and every day she waits is a day that might bring even more complications and risk. She is joined by many Nova Scotians who are waiting for urgently needed surgery. My question to the Minister of Health, what message can I take back to Mrs. Worth and her family on his behalf?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member opposite that there are many people in this province that are in the same situation. I would do as I would do for any member of this House, if you bring that information forward, we will try to help Mrs. Worth as best we can.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

IMMIGRATION: N.S. NOMINEE PROG. - CONTRACT

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: My question is for the Minister of Immigration. In 2002, the PC Government did a deal with one of its supporters, without the use of a public tendering process, with Cornwallis Financial to privatize this province's immigration function. Last March, Halifax Global submitted a very critical review of that minister's policy and the minister sat on it for three months. Last Friday the minister announced the sudden termination of the Cornwallis contract. Mr. Speaker, can the minister confirm that there will be no payment made to Cornwallis Financial by the government in regard to the discontinuation of the Nova Scotia Nominee Program contract?

[Page 126]

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to say that the contract expired with Cornwallis, it was not terminated. We will be moving forward. The province is eliminating more provincial fees for new immigrants. There will be no fees for the skilled worker portion and we will continue to evaluate and look at our Nominee Program to assure that it is working in Nova Scotia.

MR. PREYRA: It is clear that the minister does not want to answer that question as to whether or not there will be a financial penalty for discontinuing that program.

Mr. Speaker, last Friday's announcement did not include any changes to the Nova Scotia Nominee Program's economic stream. The 400 families who have applied to move here this year must still give a local business $100,000 and pay over $30,000 in fees. In return they receive just $20,000 for six months work experience. Halifax Global, in its critical review, described this situation as unique in Canada - the NDP has consistently pointed out that it is unique for all the wrong reasons.

My second question is when is the minister going to abolish this program and introduce a fair, equity-based economic immigration stream?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, when we look back over the last two years the Nominee Program has definitely benefited this province. Numbers are up 8.5 per cent in the last two years alone. We will continue to look at the Nominee Program, look at the economic component to make sure that it is working, and do a complete review of that program.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, the government's own review described the program as not working. Just one per cent of the thousands of immigrants who come to Canada come to Nova Scotia. The Halifax Global Report states that a key reason for her department's poor performance is a lack of investment in networks and settlement services for new Canadians. Perhaps we should call her the Minister of Out-migration.

Does the minister know that only 40 per cent of this paltry amount, 40 per cent of one per cent, stay here after coming to Nova Scotia? What are the minister's plans for dealing with this failure rate?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, again, the increase in immigrants into this province over the last two years has been 8.5 per cent. When we look at what has happened in the fee structure, we are going to eliminate the $5000 fee that was charged to skilled workers. This will increase the amount of skilled workers in this province so that we can move forward to definitely prosper economic growth in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 127]

HEALTH : MIDDLETON NURSING HOME - ANNOUNCEMENT

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: My question is for the honourable Minister of Health. For the past six years the Middleton and area Nursing Home Society has been waiting patiently for the government to give them an answer. In 2004 the government told residents that the needs of the community were being assessed by the department. Days before the election was called, additional nursing home beds were announced; however, there was no specific announcement for Middleton. So my question to the minister is just how long do the residents of Middleton have to wait for a formal announcement around a nursing home?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. As the member opposite is well aware, we did release the continuing care strategy just a few weeks ago. We want to be able to make sure that we work with Middleton, we work with other communities within the Valley to make sure that we place beds in the correct areas. That is what we are going to be doing over the next few weeks, making sure we have those in the right places, so that we can make sure we have the placements and those things in place.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, during the most recent election campaign commitments for 40 nursing home beds were received from all three Parties. As I am sure the minister is well aware, the Premier has committed to 40 nursing home beds in place before 2008. Given that the Premier has made such a commitment to the residents means that the department must be ready for an announcement, so my question to the minister is when will the Department of Health make an official announcement and go to tender for the 40 nursing home beds promised to Middleton by the Premier?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, as we look at the numbers making sure that we have the correct distribution across the province, and if the member opposite suggests that that is an under-serviced area, then I am sure that Middleton will get what it is due.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, during the most recent election campaign, commitments for 40 nursing home beds were received from all three Parties. As I am sure the minister is well aware, the Premier has committed to 40 nursing home beds in place before 2008. Given that the Premier has made such a commitment to the residents means that the department must be ready for an announcement.

My question to the minister is when will the Department of Health make an official announcement and go to tender for the 40 nursing home beds promised to Middleton by the Premier?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, as we look at the numbers, making sure that we have the correct distribution across the province, and

[Page 128]

if the member opposite suggests that that is an under-serviced area, when I am sure that Middleton will get what it is due.

MR. MCNEIL: It is not the member for Annapolis suggesting that, it is the Premier who said he would provide 40 beds during the election campaign. I welcome the Premier to the debate, Mr. Speaker, I have been telling him that for three years.

I am asking again, to the Minister of Health, will the minister commit that he will make an announcement in Middleton before the end of July that will ensure that the residents in Middleton have their new nursing home that the Premier committed to during the election campaign?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again I reiterate that through the continuing care strategy we have committed to 826 beds within the first four years, and 1320 beds within the next 10 years, to make sure that we have the right facility in the right place in the right communities across this province. If the member suggests that it is an underutilized area, I am sure it will get its due consideration.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. : DOMINION AREA - SEWAGE TREATMENT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. We know about a week before the election call that there was an announcement made about sewage treatment for the Dominion area over to Cadegan Brook. Then, just as the election trotted on, the Premier trotted out and got some Dominion sand in his shoes - I think it is for the first time. What is really needed there - that was one good announcement, but for the fullness of the effect of protecting that beach, we need sewage treatment from New Waterford on down, past Lingan and in that area, an area that I may say has already been set up because of the foresight of the late Dr. Danny Nathanson.

I want to ask the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, has he entered into negotiations with CBRM to finalize that section of sewage treatment?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for that question. The short answer is no.

MR. CORBETT: Well, Mr. Speaker, there wasn't much sewage in that answer, was there.

I want to move on then to the Minister of Natural Resources. As we know very well, this is the 100th Anniversary of the Municipality of Dominion and they have been celebrating, and the real celebrations take place later this month. I have often said in this House, Mr. Speaker, the centrepiece is the sand bar, the Dominion Beach area, an area that

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is under the responsibility of DNR, and I want to ask this minister what is he doing to assure that the boardwalk will be in perfect condition, will be cleaned up and ready to go when those celebrations start in two weeks time?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I assure the member opposite that the staff of the Department of Natural Resources is looking into this issue and the answer will be forthcoming soon.

MR. CORBETT: We have one of the finest communities in this province - and two non-answers from two senior ministers. This is their 100th Anniversary, Mr. Speaker, and this government has turned its back on them. Was it just pre-election promises or do they care about that little municipality? It is extremely important in this day and age that that municipality be given every chance to proceed and this government is turning its back. I want to ask the Premier, why have you done this?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

Order, the time for the Oral Question Period has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. First, I would like to thank all of the constituents of Queens who put their faith in my ability to represent their voices here in Province House. I would like to thank all of the many volunteers who helped put me here as well, through their hard work and endless dedication to see me elected here in the House.

I just want to give the House a little bit of the history of Queens and describe for you our communities and life in the riding of Queens. We, the residents of Queens, are blessed . . .

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MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Queens has the floor. If you could take conversation outside the Chamber, please do so.

The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I started to say, I'd like to give the House just some background and history on the riding of Queens and the residents in our communities, what we're all about and some of our issues and concerns. First, I want to start by saying that Queens is one of the most beautiful scenic rural communities in Nova Scotia. We're surrounding by ocean, lakes, rivers, streams, sensitive ecosystems of salt marshes, fresh water bogs, forests and fields. Queens is rich in history, heritage and culture. Since time undated, First Nations people, the Mi'kmaq, lived along the riverbanks of the Medway, Mersey and other riverbanks and held gatherings at Kejimkujik, today known as the Kejimkujik National Park.

Today some of our Acadia First Nations proudly claim the reserves of Wildcat, Ponhook and Medway. In 1604, our First Nations Mi'kmaq greeted Samuel de Champlain along the banks of Petite Rivière and today the sacred burial grounds of Mi'kmaq and Acadians are nestled near Indian Hill next to Sperry's Beach. In 1750, the New England planters arrived on the shores of Liverpool. Liverpool was known as the base for Nova Scotia privateers or the port of privateers and once was a hub for shipbuilding. Simeon Perkins, a local merchant at the time, recorded colourful detailed accounts of town life.

In the years 1776 to 1785, Port Mouton became a landing place and settlement for over 500 black loyalists and many of those descendants still reside in Queens County today. Many of our communities such as Caledonia, Greenfield, Mill Village, Charleston, Port Medway, West Berlin, Beach Meadows, Brooklyn, Liverpool, Milton, Port Mouton, Port Joli, Summerville, East Port Medway, Voglers Cove, Cherry Hill, Broad Cove, Petite Rivière, Crousetown, Italy Cross, Middlewood and Danesville have all played important roles in the history of our riding. Ports were bustling with fishing and shipbuilding activity, pulp and saw mills turned along the riverbanks, grand homes and hotels, strong farms and vibrant communities.

Today we celebrate our history and culture through the many festivals and events such as Privateer Days, and if any of you had the opportunity to visit Queens this weekend, you would have had a wonderful time meeting and greeting folks and partaking in the many wonderful activities. We also celebrate the enactment of Champlain landing in Petite Rivière. Today, while our communities have changed and have suffered many economic setbacks, we still continue to move forward and grow.

I want to talk to you a bit and share some of our concerns and beauty along our shores of Queens. Queens is blessed with many sandy, crystal white beaches, and they truly are one of our most best kept secrets in Queens. We also see many rugged coastlines surrounding some of those beautiful beaches. I recommend that anyone travelling in Queens take a trip by boat and have a look around at our beautiful coastlines. However, our

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coastlines are changing, and there certainly seems to be a need for a clear coastal management plan. There is potential for over-development along our coastlines, and while development is always good, we still need to keep in mind that coastal management is something of a concern in our coastal areas. With rising waters due to climate change and the instability of our coastlines, it's important that the province truly looks at strong sound management for our coast.

Our environment in our riding, we have fragile environments, we have a large watershed and while scenic, we still have concerns. There have been high levels of mercury tested and found in our Kejimkujik lakes and in our watershed area. We also have many endangered species. Most known as our endangered species, the piping clover and we also have been known to have many species at risk. Just last week, it was noted in the media that Queens has many endangered plant species at risk. The protection of the Tobeatic as one of the seven ecological reserves in Nova Scotia is to be applauded. We do, though, need to be conscious of the urgent need to continue to act in a responsible manner.

Queens has been blessed with an abundance of natural resources but, sadly, we, like many ridings across the province and in this country, are depleting our resources at an alarming rate. It is of utmost importance that we bring together all of the stakeholders and plan for the future - a plan for sustainable management of our resources. Value-added products should be a prime concern.

Queens has been renowned for its history in the forest industry and was once known as the forest capital of Nova Scotia. Sawmills, lumber mills, woodlot owners and Christmas tree owners make up that industry today. It is of utmost importance that government and the partners around the forestry industry table remain focused on strong and responsible forest management practices.

Our fishing communities have changed drastically over the past 50 years. The groundfishery is all but gone and the lobster fishery has been struggling. We need, again, to bring partners around the table to talk about a sustainable fishing industry, harvesting species that we never thought possible before.

In Queens we also have many small and medium farming operations. This, too, is a major concern, that we offer support for our farmers in our communities. We are proud to have Van Dyke's blueberry farming operation. Van Dyke's promotes all natural blueberry juice, and just started to sell that blueberry juice in European countries.

Economic development, this is a very real serious concern for our riding of Queens. We have small and medium industries. Bowater being one of the largest manufacturing pulp and paper industries in our county. Bowater at one time boasted employees in the numbers well over 1,000 employees. Today, there may be a little over 400 employees left at the mill. We need to start talking about the pulp and paper industry in Queens. Bowater is facing serious energy issues. There will be a time when we will be talking about supply management issues for our pulp and paper industry. If anybody has travelled behind one of

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our logging trucks and you see supply coming in no more than four or six inches, in cases, we're going to be facing supply management issues for our pulp and paper industry. Also, with fluctuating markets and the strong Canadian dollar, we need to be talking about the future of the economic sustainable development for Queens.

In my question earlier today, I made note of Lightbridge, a call centre, closing at the end of August of this year. This is a serious concern for well over 150 employees in the area. While for the first two years Lightbridge proved to be a good corporate citizen and provided gainful employment for those 150 people, unfortunately the reality is, call centres do not make strong long-term sustainable anchors in a community. We need long-term sustainable economic development in Queens and in other rural communities across this province.

We have in Queens a very strong small-business community. New businesses are looking to come to Queens and set up shop, but we need to make an environment or create that environment to actually attract small-business owners. We need to look at the red tape and the unnecessary regulation. We have to offer incentives for our small-business owners. We have expertise at the ready in our communities, and we need to build that stronger capacity for those small businesses.

We have a growing tourism industry in Queens. We have one of the most beautiful scenic beaches and coastlines and rivers and lakes. We're home to White Point Beach Resort, and we really need to get behind our tourism industry and build that stronger. We have a wealth of talent in Queens. We have artisans. We have artists. We have crafts people. We have musicians. We have actors and we have writers. We're home to Carroll Baker and Hank Snow. We need to get behind all the talent that we have in Queens and offer that to the many tourists who are coming through our county.

Of course, in order to attract those tourists to our county, Mr. Speaker, we need to have good infrastructure. We need to have well-maintained and safe roads for folks to travel on. We need clear direction from the government where that's coming from. We also need to strengthen that environment or create that environment to actually attract small business owners. We need to look at the red tape and the unnecessary regulation. We have to offer incentives to small-business owners. We have expertise at the ready in our communities and we need to build that stronger capacity for those small businesses.

We have a growing tourism industry in Queens. We have some of the most beautiful, scenic beaches and coastlines and rivers and lakes - we're home to White Point Beach Lodge - and we really need to get behind our tourism industry and build that stronger. We have a wealth of talent in Queens. We have artisans, we have artists, we have craftspeople, we have musicians, we have actors and we have writers. We're home to Carroll Baker and Hank Snow and we need to get behind all of the talent we have in Queens and offer that to the many tourists who are coming through our county.

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[3:45 p.m.]

Of course, in order to attract those tourists to our county we need to have good infrastructure. We need to have well-maintained, safe roads for folks to travel on. We need clear direction, where that's coming from the government. We also need to strengthen our ports and harbours.

Again, I need to say, long-term, sustainable economic development is very, very important for Queens. In this province, too, we have one of the strongest wind regimes and in Queens we have a very strong wind regime in our county. I think an opportunity for us in Queens would certainly be one to explore - renewable energy opportunities and looking at wind development as one of those potentials for economic development. I truly believe new economic development lies within renewable energy opportunities and we really should be looking at manufacturing every widget and gidget that belongs in every renewable energy project, whether it be wind turbine blades, the nuts and bolts to hold the blades to the turbine, whether we're manufacturing grates and any widget and gidget belonging to a tidal power plant - we need to be looking at that. (Applause)

We have a serious problem with out-migration of our youth, which brings me to education. Investing in our youth is an investment for our future. Investing in education is an investment in youth. We need to have better access opportunities for youth to post-secondary programs. We need more training and apprenticeship programs for those students who are not academically inclined to travel on to post-secondary.

We are losing youth in our Queens riding at an alarming rate. During the election campaign, I met probably no less than 25 young families who are seriously considering pulling up stakes within the next couple of months to move from Queens and to head out West where they can find stable, economic employment. This is a crime, to see our youth leaving our counties, leaving rural Nova Scotia.

Our health issues. We have seen many cutbacks to the service of our Queens General Hospital. We no longer have an obstetrics unit where a family can go and deliver their children. But then, if they're all pulling up stakes and heading out West, they're not delivering babies in Queens General either, I suppose.

The South Shore Regional Health Authority, I understand, is moving forward to an expansion with our hospital and I'm looking forward to meeting with the South Shore Regional Health Authority and also the honourable Minister of Health to move forward on that project. This is something that will really create a lot of benefit, a lot of economic benefit and also address some of our health care needs, our immediate health care needs in the riding of Queens. I look forward to working on that expansion.

Health takes me to seniors. When I'm thinking about seniors, I'm thinking about my grandmom who is 87 years old and just recently, about four months ago, suffered a major stroke. My grandmother has been one of the key figures in my life to help me shape the

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person I am today. My grandmom was always there for me and she is the true matriarch of our family. While I was growing up I was surrounded by seniors all of my life. I have the greatest respect for our seniors in our communities. I worked in both long-term care and the home care sectors and I worked on the front line. I took away so much wisdom from those seniors in our communities and the seniors I worked with, that seniors' issues and seniors' concerns are very important to me. I'm very passionate about representing their views.

I want to talk about home care and the government's plan to invest in a long-term continuing care strategy. While it is certainly commendable that the government is finally looking at that long-term continuing care strategy, I think it is a little bit late in the making. We have seen an erosion of health care and home care services over the past 10 years or more. We have seniors in their homes hoping to live independently with the help of those home care services and, unfortunately, many of them are not able to make it independently. We have stressed our caregivers, family caregivers providing care to their loved ones. It is so unfortunate that we have taken services away from our home care clients and we have placed that burden on the family caregivers.

Let me tell you that in my eight years of serving as a front-line worker in home care I have seen such inefficiency and such mismanagement of a continuing care strategy. When I first walked in through the doors to home care, I was hired as a home health aide. Within a year the course was changed, we were then hired as home health providers. Within another year we were known as home care workers and in another year we were known as home support workers. Then we went to continuing care workers. All though this process there was a total waste of taxpayers' dollars to reinvent the wheel. That is what has happened to this continuing care strategy.

When you look at the manuals and the tags and the letterhead and the training programs that are the same training programs year after year, reinventing the wheel; not once were the front-line workers, the workers with the expertise and the knowledge to be able to deliver a strong and supportive continuing care strategy, not once were we asked to the table. That is a crime.

In the eight years we have been waiting, I have watched the services to many of my home care clients deteriorate to the point where people were unsafe in their homes. We need a strong continuing care strategy and I really encourage this government, when they walk through that process, to talk to those front-line workers, the people with the expertise and the knowledge and those family caregivers at home and also the clients receiving the care.

During the election I met a lady receiving the barest of home care services. She has MS, she is totally confined to her bed and when she is not confined to her bed, she is confined to her wheelchair. This lady is perhaps about 48 years old, her husband works full-time in the fishery. He is working day and night just to make ends meet. She requires home care every day for personal care services. What has happened is the services have been cut so drastically that her 85-year-old mother, who is in need of care herself, is assisting her

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daughter with peeling vegetables and doing other menial tasks in the home which should be part of that continuing care strategy.

I want to talk about poverty in Queens. We have a growing number of families and individuals who are struggling to make ends meet. Some are just not making it. We have had an increase in trips to our local food back almost tenfold in the last several years. I have met people here in Queens with no running water. This is 2006 and we have people in Queens still living with no running water and adequate washroom facilities in their home. This is a disgrace. We have people who are waiting on housing lists for affordable housing. Just two days ago I received a plea from a family that is homeless in Queens. Who would have thought, when I read back through the history of Queens and our vibrant communities when everybody had a home, that in Queens we have homeless families. This is a crime.

We need to address the growing level of poverty in Queens by coming out with better incentives and long-term sustainable economic development for our area. We also need to have better training and apprenticeship programs for those individuals who do not want to pull up stakes and move away and for those young people who are not looking at post-secondary education. We really need to address the issues of poverty, we really need to give these folks a hand up.

I want to conclude with comments made on community volunteers and what really makes Queens the vibrant place that it tries to be in its place in Nova Scotia. I want to give a huge thank you to all of the committed volunteer fire departments and the volunteer firefighters across our riding, and in every community in Queens, who work tirelessly and endlessly, dedicated to the case of being there to protect their communities. (Applause) They are there year-round and when they have taken some downtime, these same firefighters, these same volunteers, are opening up their fire halls and they have the most wonderful breakfasts on Saturday morning.

Any Saturday of the year, you can go to any community in Queens and you can have the best, greasiest breakfast, but it's good, it's the grease that you need perhaps from the night before. I'll tell you, for $5 to $7 you walk away filled and satisfied, and it's also a great way to meet up with your neighbours and friends and really give these folks a round of applause.

Behind the scenes of those volunteers, we have women's auxiliaries all across our riding. Women's auxiliaries that serve with the local fire departments, or they serve with the local church groups or they serve with the local search and rescue. These women tirelessly work behind the scenes without being recognized for the service they do - well, they are recognized in our communities, Mr. Speaker, but they need to be recognized in this House. These women, if you go to any of our local suppers, again like our breakfasts, you will not walk away unsatisfied. These women will meet and greet you and they will bring you your coffee and your food. Most of it is homemade in their own kitchens. These women deserve a big round of applause for all their dedication and the service they give to our communities. (Applause)

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I want to talk about the Kiwanis Clubs and the Lions Clubs and the Key Clubs, and also the parent support groups and also the church groups and all the volunteers who support our recreation centre. These volunteers, year in and year out - and our members of the Legion year in and year out - raise funds for the less fortunate in our riding. These people deserve to be applauded and they really make our community tick.

I want to ask the members of this House that if you're travelling sometime through the summer months and if you get a little bit of time and you're thinking, well, where would I like to go for the weekend or where do I want to go for the week, I suggest that as many members or all members of this House travel at least once to the great riding of Queens. I can tell you that you will not be disappointed. If you watch the papers and all the great advertisements for the riding of Queens, maybe you'll hit town when we have our famous International Theatre Festival, or maybe you can come next year for Privateer Days; we have now become renowned for our International Ukulele Festival. That was a new festival created this year and it was an amazing event. If you ever wanted to hear a group of ukulele players strum out some Beatles retro or some Elvis Presley, it was quite impressive.

I would like to encourage many of you, too, to come out within the next couple of weeks. We have the world-famous plank salmon supper in Greenfield. I can tell you, this plank salmon supper put on by our tireless volunteer firefighters is world famous, it is just that, it is world famous. Be prepared to wait, though, at least three to four hours in line. Come early because it is first come, first served. No one will leave unfed. I can tell you that when I went last year, I met people who were repeat customers for the last five, six years. People actually book their vacation from Maine and Ontario and some people come from as far away as Germany. They book their vacations and their time in Queens just for this fabulous supper.

[4:00 p.m.]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to close. Again, I welcome you all to Queens. I expect to see you there. When you do get in town, give me a call and I'll give you a world- class tour of Queens.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to congratulate you, as Deputy Speaker, and the Speaker, on being elected. I would like to thank the people of Pictou East for electing me as the member. I should really go into some of the history of Pictou East, as the member for Queens did. However, I'm not going to do that, because what I want to do over the next couple of years is to try to restore Pictou East to its rightful historic place in the fabric of Nova Scotia politics.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to make some comments first on the election itself in Pictou East. I would like to commend the other candidates for one of the cleanest election campaigns that I ever participated in, and I have participated in quite a few. I would also like

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to thank those who worked so tirelessly for me. Especially, I want to pay tribute to the bravest person I know, and that is my wife. She was not able to help me during the campaign, even in making phone calls, because she has been fighting, very courageously, colorectal cancer. If I'm a little bit sluggish this afternoon, we were at the outpatients until 3:50 a.m. this morning. We spent most of the night in the outpatients at the Infirmary. However, my tribute to her is unbelievable, my belief and respect in her just grows by the day because she is such a fighter, and I expect her to be in the House in a few minutes.

I want to commend the government on what I believe is a good Speech from the Throne. Some of my colleagues here might not want me to do that, but I think it's an outstanding Speech from the Throne. What interests me most, Mr. Speaker, is the undertaking of the largest road-building program in Nova Scotia in over 40 years. My concern is how many years is it going to be spread over?

Our infrastructure has deteriorated so much through successive governments that it is in the most deplorable of situations. Most people I speak with feel it will be almost impossible to catch up. They find it's going to be almost impossible to catch up when they've been let down for so many years.

I've gotten so many calls in the little bit of time the constituency office has been open that I shouldn't really pick out one community, but I'm going to do that. The community of Sunny Brae is a very beautiful historic community and it knows all about promises because it was there that the Guysborough railway, the spur line, was a century ago heading towards Guysborough and never got there. It was one of the most infamous things that has ever happened in Nova Scotia politics and those people have been used to promises, but the promises that they're used to also are promises of today that have not been fulfilled.

I went to a concert, Mr. Speaker, a couple of weeks before the election and at that concert, when I was leaving, a woman said to me, Clarrie, watch the deer on the way home. It wasn't the deer that I had to watch, it was the hundreds of potholes along the way, you know, it's just deplorable that a situation like that exists. So far I have had calls on the Fox Brook Road, the Mark Road, the Sinclair Island Road, the River Road, the Lismore Wharf Road, the Hillside Loop Road, and a host of others.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a moment to talk about an American politician whom I read about one time, and I thought he had a very novel idea. This politician wanted to keep his roads in good shape so he got these rubber chickens, these flattened out rubber chickens that he kept in his constituency office, and any constituent could go in and pick one of these up. If a constituent could place that rubber duck or rubber chicken in a pothole and it was below the level of the road, that politician took $5 out of his own pocket.

Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia we couldn't buy enough rubber chickens and the rural politicians paying out $5 a pop for every pothole, not only would they be broke, they wouldn't have a pot to cook beans in.

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Mr. Speaker, what we need clearly is follow-through on some of these promises, and these promises also are not just in relationship to roads. The Speech from the Throne has a lot of good in it in relationship to health care, but I remind the members opposite that it's only words and we have to translate that verbiage into solutions for the benefit of all Nova Scotians. In relationship to health care, I'm going to just give a few examples of situations that I have run into already.

We have a situation in my riding, a situation in Pictou East, where a woman has been waiting to get into the pain clinic since 2003, Mr. Speaker. Not only has she been waiting that long, she has a letter from the former Minister of Health saying that she can get treatment in another jurisdiction, but to get that treatment in another jurisdiction she has to look after the travel costs and she also has to look after the accommodation costs. She's living in a home that she doesn't own. She doesn't have the money to follow through.

Yesterday I got a call from a 71-year-old, a similar situation. This man needs eye surgery. He has been told that he can get his eye surgery in Fredericton, or Montreal, or Toronto, and he is being advised that he has to pay the cost of getting there and pay for the accommodation and, Mr. Speaker, before someone else says it, I say shame.

We already talked in Question Period about the 81-year-old who has been waiting since May 16th for emergency surgery. I was at her house and she showed me her feet which are starting to get a little blackish around the toes. She is concerned about gangrene. She believes she cannot stand an operation that cuts off her leg. She's a diabetic.

These situations are super serious. I don't want to get too personal, but I mentioned my wife earlier in relationship to colorectal cancer. She has had six months of chemotherapy and 28 days of radiation. In the middle of the election campaign we went, as we did last night, to emergency. Her white blood cell count had dropped to .8, her temperature was 40 and the situation was getting worse. The situation in emergency was that she remained in emergency for over three days. Three days in emergency in isolation and the nurses said, now you see personally what this health care needs in Nova Scotia. We look at April as Cancer Awareness Month, every month should be screening month, every month. (Applause)

Also in the Speech from the Throne are some good things in relationship to education. Further reducing class sizes is important. I commend the government for having that in the speech, for sure, but there are many, many other problems, including the need - as the NDP put forward - to roll back tuition costs.

In my riding there is a good elementary school, many good elementary schools, but one in particular is the W.A. MacLeod in Riverton. It is facing declining enrolments - an excellent school, very good infrastructure. A few kilometres away, another elementary school is going to be the site of the spending of several million dollars in repairs and renovations. There are a lot of things that we have to look at in education.

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We also have to be aware of the need in that particular area - and many others in my riding and elsewhere in Nova Scotia, no doubt - that there has to be some kind of after-school child-care program. We need more day-long daycare in areas like Riverton and other areas of Pictou East.

Out-migration is something that I want to talk about as well. Out-migration really affects Pictou County to a tremendous degree because, of the 18 counties, we are the second in out-migration. This is in the age range from 18 to 24. These are 18- to 24-year olds who are going away and never coming back, not going away for their university, they're going away to maybe come back for visits, but they are working elsewhere and all kinds of people in Pictou East cannot see their grandchildren grow up, as is true throughout the province. So out-migration is, in fact, a concern we want to deal with.

[4:15 p.m.]

In the Speech from the Throne I want to talk about fisheries and agriculture and forestry for just a couple of moments. Establishing a new marketing program to encourage the purchase of local agricultural and fish products, that is good. However, in Pictou East, our local products cannot be processed anymore. In Lismore, where there was an excellent plant, we have a very mature and well-trained workforce that is totally unable to find any work. They are going considerable distances and the processing that used to take place there is now taking place in Prince Edward Island.

Mr. Speaker, I want to appeal to the minister to meet with me and the others in Lismore, on the soonest possible occasion, to deal with this situation. It is one that merits a very close look and I have already been working with a number of people in the area to try to do something. I believe that very little was said about agriculture during the election campaign, by any Party. I was approached by a farmer at an event in Pictou East on Friday night and he said that we feel totally neglected, we aren't getting the coverage that we deserve in these very desperate and struggling times. So I urge all of us to start looking closer at the agriculture issue and to make a case for the people who are so deserving of assistance in any way we can, because these people feed us.

Forestry. Well, forestry is something that I have jotted down a little note on. There are lots of issues, Mr. Speaker, other than Stora. One that really concerns me - and I'm not taking a shot at the government in relationship to Bowater Mersey and the purchasing of acreage that was actually not identified and unseen but then there was a purchase, but I believe that's a good thing, that we get more Crown land and that we try to protect up to 12 per cent of our province. However, at the same time, simultaneous to the Bowater purchase, we had a situation where Neenah Paper in northern Nova Scotia sold several thousand acres without, I don't believe, anyone at the table. Half a million acres sold without a blink by this government.

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Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the former minister, the minister who was involved at that time, I don't think that minister would buy a truck not knowing the year or the make or the condition. I think that is, in fact, what took place.

In relation to the environment there are a number of issues in Pictou East. There is the Boat Harbour issue that has existed for about 40 years; there is the fly ash at Nova Scotia Power Inc.; there is methane drilling and there is herbicide spraying on railroad beds. Mr. Speaker, the issues we face in Pictou East are enormous and, as I said in the beginning, I want to play a part in restoring Pictou East to its rightful place within the fabric of Nova Scotia politics.

Mr. Speaker, the issues are enormous that we face in Pictou East. I want to play a part, as I said in the beginning, of restoring Pictou East to its rightful place within the fabric of Nova Scotia politics, but before concluding I want to say that the HST removal off home heating, one of the several ideas highjacked from the NDP, was first ridiculed big time. It couldn't be done. It was impossible because of agreements with Ottawa and because of agreements with the other Maritime Provinces. So for six years there was this - it couldn't be done - and then Premier Lord sort of did a little something, and of course the NDP talked about it for six years, and it becomes part of the plank in the election campaign.

However, I want to add my voice to the fact that this assistance should come sooner rather than later. If we're going to help people out, let's help people out now. Help them in the Fall, not in mid-winter, not on January 1st when so much of the heating has already been purchased, the electricity of Christmas is behind us. Mr. Speaker, I think we need and owe that to the people of Nova Scotia. We need to do that and we owe that to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, before I conclude, I see in the gallery one of my daughters, Sara, who was a great door-to-door person in the election campaign. Also I have two of my grandchildren, who have just come in as well. One of them actually is called after Papa. Her name is Clara MacKinnon and her sister is Grace. I would hope that you would please stand up. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, since I am concluding, on a personal note I just want to say how humbled I am and honoured to be the member for Pictou East, which I probably said when I was starting my remarks. Someone talked about humble beginnings on Friday, and I just want to say that this honour to be a part of the 60th Assembly is a great one for me as the son of a coal miner who worked in the Drummond Mine in Westville for 33 years until he was smashed up in the pit. I do have one comment to make about my favourite person who has ever existed, and he did have a connection to this Assembly, not the 60th Assembly, but to this Legislature because as a young man he was the recipient of a resolution of commendation for heroic rescue service and was presented with a gold medal by Premier Angus L. Macdonald. So I'm very proud of that background. (Applause)

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Mr. Speaker, there are many other issues that could be addressed. However, let me conclude by saying that all 52 of us are trying to do the best we can for Nova Scotians and that we should work together when and where possible, and I know it's not always possible. Last week, I wanted a copy of a letter going to the Town of Westville, and was advised that it doesn't work that way. Well, it should work that way. Let's work together for Nova Scotia and for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I move the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be adjourned.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the adjournment of the debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne.

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

The motion is carried.

The Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, this is the conclusion of the business of the government for today. I would ask the House Leader of the Official Opposition to outline their business for tomorrow, as it is Opposition Day.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hours for tomorrow will be commencing at 2:00 p.m., and after the daily routine we will be calling Resolution No. 21 and Resolution No. 23. The House will be adjourning at 6:00 p.m.

I move that the House now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The adjournment debate was chosen and announced earlier. Tonight's resolution is:

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"Therefore be it resolved that this government work towards the solution to the pollution caused by coal dust, coke and petcoke in the community of Whitney Pier."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WHITNEY PIER - POLLUTION

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I find it an ideal time, I guess, to say that this would be about the fourth or fifth time I have stood in this Legislature in my place, to bring this problem of coal dust, petcoke, fly ash, whatever is flying all over the community. For over 100 years this community has been polluted by steel-making, coal dust being shipped out of the harbour, and it continues to this day.

The former Minister of Environment and Labour, the former member for Queens, went down last year to meet with the residents of this community to come up with a solution. Here we are, a year later, the minister is no longer with us and we still have the same problem.

I don't know, Mr. Speaker, the people in this community have had enough - enough is enough. I brought a coal dust rag to this Legislature and I was told by the former Speaker that props were not allowed because this rag might have been contaminated. Well, it was contaminated enough for the Pages or anybody else, so what do you think the people in the community of Whitney Pier are living with when they have coal dust blowing on their homes, from James Street to Matilda Street to St. Anns Street, to Dominion Street, to Star Court, all through the whole community, and now, Mr. Speaker, even to the senior citizens on Griffin Street. There is a gentleman in there who is 88 years old, named Mr. Mansfield, who turned on his air conditioner this weekand all that came out was coal dust or ash.

The Department of Environment and Labour is continually telling the residents and myself for the last three years that I have been in this Legislature, and I started saying this in October 8, 2003, in my very first sitting of the 59th General Assembly. Then the minister said we will investigate. They continued to investigate and nothing has been done. All they keep saying is that well, it is not Sysco, it is not Logistec, it is not Provincial Energy Venture, it is not the tar ponds. Who is it? It is the imagination of the people of Whitney Pier that this coal dust is in their homes, in their swimming pools, on their decks, in their fridges, their kids are playing in it, Mr. Speaker. When is it going to stop?

Now the last minister went down there and met with these people, Mr. Speaker, and I spoke to the Department of the Environment and Labour as recently as last week or the week before. They are down taking samples. They have done this before, they have taken sample after sample to find out the origin of the pollution, where is it coming from? Nobody

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knows. Enough is enough. This community and the people who live in this community want answers from this new minister and they want answers from the members of this Legislature.

Do you think for one instant, Mr. Speaker, that if this was going on in Mabou that I would be standing in here today? Do you think that if this was going on in this capital city that this would be going on today? No. Three years now ongoing, coal dust, fly ash, petcoke, it is a mystery.

Mr. Bill Lawrence wakes up in his home today, coal dust all over his car, all over his home. Kendra and Eddie Christie, swimming pool is like quicksand; Pat and Jean Murphy, swimming pool; Alden and Frances Meagher - I'll go on and on. These are the phone calls that I receive as a Member of the Legislative Assembly to deal with this issue, three and a half years going on and on and on.

The department always says we're going to get an example, we're going to know. I want somebody to be held accountable, I want whoever is causing this to be fined and I want restitution to be given to the members of the community. It's coal dust and pollution all the time.

For over 100 years steel making polluted this area where you live next door to the toxic, toxic - Canada's most toxic site - the Sydney tar ponds. When you mention that, people just step away from it, but here we are again with coal dust. On May 6, 2004 in this Legislature I stood up in my place, Wednesday, September 29, 2004, I stood up in my place. Mr. Speaker, the former minister told me that he will continue to investigate, he will continue to find a solution. At a meeting I was at with the Minister of Environment and Labour for that government, he told the residents he met with in Sydney that this was going to stop, this was not going to continue.

Well, it's still continuing. It didn't stop. The minister is no longer here. We have a new minister, so I'm asking this minister in this Legislature to do his job and step up to the plate here and when they do the investigation, I want somebody charged. I want somebody to be held responsible. Do you think that if this was down in the beautiful Annapolis and there was coal dust all over the place, this would be going on? Do you think if they woke up every day in Kings North with stuff all over their homes, waking up with coal dust, do you think his phone would be ringing off the wall every day?

I have pictures on files in my computer, in my office, of coal dust on the siding, in the swimming pools, on the decks, on the BBQs, in the homes, on the fridges, on the window ledges - it's everywhere. When is somebody in that government over there going to step up to the plate and find a solution to this problem instead of always finger pointing? It's not our fault, it's not Provincial Energy Ventures, it's not Logistec, it's not Sysco, it's not the tar ponds. Well, whose fault is it?

Each and every time somebody from the Department of Environment and Labour goes down, they take a soil sample, they look at it and they say, okay, we'll get back to you.

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They've never done anything. The people in this community are starting to turn the corner in this community. We lost the steel plant and the coal mines, we have the highest unemployment in Nova Scotia. The little pride we have in our community and our homes and backyards is being polluted every day. With a little bit of pride, the people are starting to turn the corner and put money back into their homes, their properties. Maybe someday the assessments of these homes will go up.

The people are proud of where they live. They're a very proud, multicultural society, but to have to wake up each and every day and call your MLA and call your councillor and your MP - we're going to have to call ghostbusters next because they don't know where it's coming from. They just don't know where it's coming from.

I'd like to see the new minister come down and we'll get a little hall in that community and we'll meet with the people and he can tell them what's going on in that community. He can stand in his place as the Minister of Environment and Labour and tell them he's going to live up to the former minister's commitment that this was not going to continue. Well, I challenge him to stand up in his place and tell the people in that community he's going to go and deal with this ongoing nightmare, that this nightmare is going to be taken care of.

I appreciate what the former minister had said he did. The former minister came and met with these people, but the problem is still there. If it weren't, I wouldn't be standing in my place today talking about the problem still being there. As I said, I would like to challenge the Minister of Environment and Labour when this House is finished and rises, to come down and meet with the people. He's going to get up in his place and say, you know, the Department of Environment and Labour had asked these industries to give them an action plan. They're going to give them an action plan of what they're going to do for the health and safety of the workers and the community.

What I'd like to see is somebody held responsible and accountable. Who's going to pay for cleaning the siding on these homes? Who's going to pay for the cleaning of the pools? Who's going to pay for cleaning the homes? Who is going to do this? Ash, coal dust, for generations we've lived under this pollution. So we finally don't have a steel plant, we don't have coal mines, but this is what we have each and every day. I say, if this was going on in Mabou it wouldn't be going on, somebody would be charged and somebody would be fined.

I want the minister to stand up in his place and tell the people in the community of Whitney Pier, from Bay Street to Roberts Street to Henry Street to Webster Street to Ferris Street to Bryant Street to Breton Street to James Street to Furnace Street, all the way down that whole area, where they wake up each and every day, they don't know what it is, petcoke, coal dust, fly ash, something has to be done.

This department for far too long has been getting away - we're coming in, we're going to do an investigation, but nobody's ever been held accountable. I say to the new

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Minister of Environment and Labour, hold somebody accountable for their actions in making these homes the way they are today. Thank you.

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this concern forward. I've watched him in action as an MLA, particularly as we sat together on the Standing Committee of Community Services. I know he's a passionate and concerned spokesperson for his riding and for his people, and I commend him on that.

I do want to speak to the dusting issue, but he did challenge what would happen if a dusting issue took place in Kings North. Just as background, we had one in Kings North, in the Town of Port Williams. The thing that made it a little easier there in terms of determining who was the culprit, was that there was only one industry there. It was an industry that caused the dusting, but even though we knew which industry was causing it, we had a terrible amount of confusion and time trying to determine what exactly within that industry was causing it and how exactly to fix it up. It took quite a long time, as MLA for that area.

My present president of the Kings North PC Association was the one whose house was most directly affected by this dusting incident in Port Williams, so I heard from him on a continual basis. I understand, honourable member, when people phone you, particularly people who you are friends with and people who you happen to live beside, how disconcerting this can be. I want to extend my sympathies to the residents of Whitney Pier area for the inconvenience they had to put up with.

It is a disconcerting experience, as I know from my own experience in Kings North. I assure you that the Department of Environment and Labour is devoting the appropriate resources to finding the source of the material. That, of course, is the difference between my case, where there was only the one possible culprit, which we identified fairly quickly, and the case here where it's located in an area surrounded by three heavy-industrial sites: Sysco; the Provincial Energy Ventures bulk handling facility, which handles coal and salt; and the Logistec Stevedoring bulk handling facility, which deals with coal and petcoke, derivative of Bunker C, that's almost all pure carbon. I know the MLA for the area knows this as well, but I'm just sharing this for the elucidation of other MLAs in the House who may not be aware of the industrial sites surrounding this particular community in Whitney Pier. That, of course, makes it a little harder. As I said in my issue, there was only the one site, but even then it took awhile to figure out what was causing the dusting and to figure out how to stop it.

With these three sites, contacts have been made with all the major industrial firms in the area. Each firm was asked to review their current dust management plans for

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completeness and implementation. The exception was Sysco, and Sysco was required to submit a plan by Friday, June 30th, so just very recently. That plan has been received by our staff and is currently being reviewed, and we're looking into it.

Soil stabilizing cement was added to the fly ash pile at Sysco on Sunday, June 25th. Paving is planned soon for the Sysco access and internal roadways. Again, we're not sure what's causing the dusting, and that's the problem. All these things, of course, we expect will have some measure of mitigating the problem, and a water truck has now been dedicated to the Sysco dust suppression program. So there is some progress. As I said, we received the dust management plan from Sysco on Friday, June 30th, so just a few days ago, right before the long weekend, and we're reviewing it, our staff. The MLA for the area may be pleased to know that one of the very first items I was briefed on was this item. So, clearly, the department staff have it on their radar.

There was a joint meeting with the majority of operators held on Thursday, June 29th, again, very recently, Mr. Speaker, to discuss the merits of a common response, because it seems like the three industries are going to have to work together in order to provide alleviation for the problems and for the residents of that area. This would provide sort of a one-window approach. I think that is new, and I think that will be beneficial to the residents to voice their concerns and have their concerns addressed, as well, rather than having to individually try to deal with these problems.

We still haven't confirmed the source of the dust, and that's what we're focusing on now. We've been taking statements from complainants as well as other potential sources, and the analysis of samples we have taken are expected by July 20th. So it won't be a long wait for those residents, and we're going to get on this very quickly. Staff have met with each complainant, Mr. Speaker, and are still in the process of following up on new calls.

In the meantime, I do want to stress that we're deeply concerned about this problem. We intend to get to the bottom of it. We intend to see that the problem is put to rest for the good of the residents, but we want to caution that the source of the dust has not been determined. We don't want to leap to any conclusions or make irresponsible statements until we know the source of it and until we can do the necessary work to help remediate the problem.

So I guess all I can say to the honourable member at this time is thank him for bringing the issue forward. He brought it to me previously, this issue, and alerted me that this is an issue that was of deep concern to him and to the residents. Again, I commend him for being an MLA who works hard for his residents. We are getting very close, I believe, to being able to solve the problem. There has been some progress made in this, and we hope with this one-stop window, this one-stop solution, that we'll help both the residents and the industrial companies in the area to be able to work together, and we'll have the solution to the problem within a very short time. As I said, the analysis from the soil samples were taken June 29th, June 30th. We hope to have that analysis back July 20th. So we're working as quickly as we can, Mr. Speaker.

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So, again, I want to thank the member for bringing this to my attention. As the new Minister of Environment and Labour, I want to assure him that the department has been very active on this file and, as I said, this is one of the first files I was briefed on. I want to assure him that I'm interested in helping to alleviate the situation in his riding, since I understand, having gone through this in my own riding, that it's a perplexing problem and one that you want to solve quickly. We'll be working on it and doing our best for the citizens of Whitney Pier and for his riding.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It is a privilege to again stand in this House and speak on issues that concern many of our residents. You know, as we look at the discussion we're having this evening, the dust complaints in Whitney Pier, the coal dust and the problems that are associated with that, the health problems, and the problems we could go on and talk about for a long time. I have a great deal of faith in the staff at the Department of Environment and Labour. They are usually very, very prompt to react to an issue when it comes forward, and they ensure that they do their due diligence, as they must do, when they proceed. Hopefully, in this case, this problem will be resolved, and the minister has given us the indication that it will be as quickly as possible. As a new minister in the department, I can understand it will take him some time to go through this process.

I have an article here from the Cape Breton Post, which I will table when I have finished quoting from it. Over and over again you have talked about the different people from different organizations saying that it is not their dust, and the next organization saying it is not their dust and I will just read, "Sysco site manager Joel MacLeod said he doubted the majority of the dust was coming from his site" and they you go to the next one and it goes on down through the whole thing, that Sysco says the same thing and Logistec Stevedoring (Atlantic) says there is not a chance that it is from their organization.

[4:45 p.m.]

It is a funny thing, everybody runs and hides as soon as there is a problem created in the area. Definitely, if there is this much coal dust, and I have not personally had the opportunity to see the coal dust, but I am sure if the honourable member who represents the area indicates that there is and the minister indicates there is a problem, there is definitely a serious problem here, so it should be easy to find out where this material is coming from. I hope the department is taking samples and comparing samples with the potential sources of the contaminant, and will act accordingly when they locate the source and hopefully get it stopped and get a long-term solution to this problem. If somebody has not been acting properly, we will charge the culprit with the problem and that will be the end of it and set an example for other people.

When we talk about that, I also want to raise the issue about dust and pollutants at the Tufts Cove generating plant here in Dartmouth. When you drive into work in the morning on a still day, without the wind, you can see an orange cloud hanging over the city

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and lo and behold, the orange cloud is exactly the same colour as the fumes coming out of the Tufts Cove generating plant.

I brought this issue up before, with the previous minister and other ministers regarding this, at many committee meetings over the last many years that I have been here in the Legislature. At one time, one of the engineers in the Economic Development Committee many years ago, from Nova Scotia Power, said we don't pollute, the stuff you see from there is not pollutants. Well, that has been proven wrong. You see the pollutants coming. There are a lot of health issues that are probably coming from that thing, and again probably, who knows until definitive tests are done.

Last year or the year before, I asked him, who monitors this, and they said well, the company does, Nova Scotia Power does. Well that puts the onus on the company to tell us whether they are polluting or not. It doesn't sound right to me. That is something that, at a later date, I would probably ask the minister to check into because I think if you are going to set up regulations like this, and the same thing would apply in Cape Breton where you have this coal dust, it should be something that the Department of the Environment and Labour should monitor. It is so important to make sure that the health of the people is protected, that especially their overall environment is protected. I think it is time that the Department of the Environment spends some more money on direct monitoring of these organizations, and sets the standards pretty high so that we can cut down our health care costs and all the other costs that are associated with that. Never mind the individual costs to the families when someone in the family gets ill from something that could have been prevented.

I am not saying that this is causing a health problem, but all indications are in other areas that this sort of pollution does cause long-term health problems. It is something that should be investigated. You see our health care costs soaring in this province to a point where we are soon not going to be able to pay for them. We are going to have to very seriously look at these pollutants and see if we can stop them, especially when they are in our own back yard.

You see Nova Scotia Power, I believe, and I can't remember the exact number, it is one of the worst polluters in all North America - number three in all North America. That tells us that there is a serious problem here. I think it is time we looked at these issues that we have to go forward with and make sure that our citizens are protected.

It's one issue to get coal dust on your car or your home and all that stuff - and that is a serious issue because it would probably do some serious damage over time, but what about the people who are breathing this coal dust in? What about the people in Cape Breton who are doing that? What about the people here in Halifax and Dartmouth and the surrounding areas who are breathing in the fumes from the oil refinery here in Eastern Passage, Woodside to be exact? I used to live near that refinery and I can tell you some mornings I got up and my vehicles were covered with black soot, and the smell from the refinery was atrocious . Now they improved things a lot in the refinery since then but again

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it's an area of pollutants, it's an area that the Department of Environment and Labour should monitor and should ensure that these companies are doing their job properly to ensure the health and safety of all our citizens.

Again I'll talk about Tufts Cove. Years ago there used to be a line where the pollution stopped and you could very clearly see it - it was just about the city boundary with Dartmouth and that was a few years ago, I'd say about 10 or 12 years ago. The line now has moved out to Lake Echo, it's gotten that much worse. I'm sure it's not all Nova Scotia Power's fault because a lot of vehicles, a lot of home heating and other things go on that cause some of the contaminants, but the colour of the pollutants are the exact same colour coming out of the stacks of Nova Scotia Power. You could drive across the bridge some mornings - I see this every day because I travel in here every day - and some of the days when it was really hot and the air was heavy, the pollutants were coming down and just laying a big cloud over the whole city, an orange-coloured cloud.

I guarantee, if you're going to breathe that material in, it can't be good for your health. We have a high incidence of cancer in the communities and other respiratory diseases and other diseases that are probably, in one way or another, related to the pollutants we breathe in the air, wherever they come from.

I would encourage - more than encourage, I would insist that the department start monitoring these potential sources of pollutants, see what the exact pollutants are in the air, see if there is a direct correlation between what's being spewed into the air and what we breathe and the health and safety risks that are associated with our residents and see if there's a connection between the respiratory problems and the chemicals that come out of the air. If there's a correlation, it would make a lot of sense to tighten these regulations up sooner rather than later - it may be cheaper to have the province help implement some pollution control equipment than it is to pay for health care costs and all the suffering and pain that goes with the health care costs of people not being well enough to continue with their work, the stress in the families if someone happens to die from an illness that could be prevented, and all the other things that could be the case.

We talked many years ago, I remember, in this House about the issues of smoking. Everyone at that time knew it was dangerous - it has become obvious recently that it's a lot more dangerous than we ever envisioned, but today it's accepted for people not to smoke in public places. If you would have said that 20 years ago people would have said forget it, I've got the right to smoke here, and the people who didn't smoke really didn't argue about it too much. I think it's the same thing. We have a big smoke stack, a big cigarette that's lit over there in Tufts Cove spewing out tons and tons of contaminants - which they could easily change over to natural gas, by the way, which would have a lot less contamination in the air and help, possibly, to prevent some of these long-term illnesses.

I would encourage the department to move quickly to resolve the problem that you have in the Whitney Pier area with the coal dust, and also to look at the other issues we have around the province to ensure that these pollutants aren't affecting our health in the long

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term. We need for residents to live well and to be productive in our society here in Nova Scotia to make it the best place in the world - which I still believe it is the best place in the world to live and encourage our children to be brought up in a safe environment. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank all of the honourable members for taking part in tonight's late debate.

The motion for adjournment has been made. The House will rise, to sit again tomorrow afternoon at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 4:52 p.m.]