Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-5

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

WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 151
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 53, Carey, Graham - HS Accomplishments, Hon. K. Casey 153
Vote - Affirmative 153
Res. 54, Amistad Freedom Schooner: Hfx - Visit Applaud,
Hon. B. Barnet 153
Vote - Affirmative 154
Res. 55, Can-Am East Equine Emporium: Organizers - Recognize,
Hon. B. Taylor 154
Vote - Affirmative 155
Res. 56, Nat. Res. - Manitoba Fires: N.S. Crews - Dispatched 155
Hon. D. Morse ~
Vote - Affirmative 156
Res. 57, Educ. - Go Active! Fitness Challenge: McDonald's - Sponsorship,
Hon. K. Casey 156
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 28, New Minas Water Commission Act, Hon. D. Morse 157
No. 29, An Act to Incorporate the Temple Sons of Israel, Sydney,
Mr. G. Gosse 157
No. 30, Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act, Mr. M. Samson 157
No. 31, Financial Measures (2006) Act, Hon. M. Baker 157
No. 32, Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Ms. M. Raymond 157
No. 33, Motor Vehicle Act, Ms. D. Whalen 157
No. 34, Maritime Conservatory Reorganization Act, Mr. H. Epstein 157
No. 34, Maritime Conservatory Reorganization Act, Mr. H. Epstein
No. 35, Junior Order of Nova Scotia Act, Mr. W. Gaudet 157
No. 36, Senior Home Medication Review Act, Mr. S. McNeil 157
No. 37, Income Tax Act, Mr. W. Gaudet 157
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 58, Child Care: Multi-Year Fed Funding - Support, Mr. D. Dexter 158
Vote - Affirmative 158
Res. 59, Francis, Britney - RBC Aboriginal Student Award, Mr. M. Samson 158
Vote - Affirmative 159
Res. 60, Big Wave Fest. Comm. - Anniv. (10th), Mr. K. Bain 159
Vote - Affirmative 160
Res. 61, Direction 180 - Anniv. (5th), Ms. Maureen MacDonald 160
Vote - Affirmative 160
Res. 62, Rogers, Richard: "Towns of Nova Scotia: Profiles and Ratings" -
Kentville Congrats, Mr. M. Parent 161
Vote - Affirmative 161
Res. 63, New Waterford Thursday Night Bridge: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Corbett 161
Vote - Affirmative 162
Res. 64, Bryden, Megan - Sir John A. Macdonald HS Awards,
Mr. B. Estabrooks 162
Vote - Affirmative 163
Res. 65, Doucette, Chad: Performing Talents - Acknowledgement,
Mr. K. Colwell 163
Vote - Affirmative 163
Res. 66, McIntosh, Rachel: Track & Field Succes - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 164
Vote - Affirmative 164
Res. 67, Main Street Streetscape Project - Congrats, Ms. J. Massey 164
Vote - Affirmative 165
Res. 68, Maritime Fiddle Fest. (57th Annual): Vols/Hosts - Congrats,
Mr. S. McNeill 165
Vote - Affirmative 166
Res. 69, Marshall, Micky - Cdn. Kickboxing Cruiserweight Title (2006),
Hon. J. Muir 166
Vote - Affirmative 166
Res. 70, Jardine, Jamie: Sunrise Trail MD Event - Fundraising, Mr. C. Parker 167
Vote - Affirmative 167
Res. 71, Gov't (N.S.) Gas Regulation - Reconsider, Ms. D. Whalen 167
Res. 71, Gov't (N.S.) Gas Regulation - Reconsider, Ms. D. Whalen
Res. 72, Amherst Reg. HS Concert Band: Atl. Band Fest. - Award
Hon. E. Fage 168
Vote - Affirmative 169
Res. 73, Snow, Gordon, Death of - Condolences, Mr. P. Paris 169
Vote - Affirmative 170
Res. 74, Digby-Annapolis - Visit, Mr. H. Theriault 170
Vote - Affirmative 170
Res. 75, Bedford Days: Vols. - Congrats., Hon. L. Goucher 170
Vote - Affirmative 171
Res. 76, Grant, Jill - Cdn. Instit. of Planners Award (2006), Ms. M. More 172
Vote - Affirmative 172
Res. 77, Doucette, Chad: Cdn. Idol - Support, Hon. W. Dooks 172
Vote - Affirmative 172
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 16, Premier: Mental Health Serv. - Funding, Mr. D. Dexter 173
No. 17, Premier: Conflict of Interest Rules - Strengthen, Mr. M. Samson 174
No. 18, Com. Serv.: Roberts Case - Treatment, Mr. D. Dexter 175
No. 19, Educ.: Education Act [Sect. 5(2)] Enforcement,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 177
No. 20, Hum. Res.: Conserve N.S. - CEO Appt., Mr. L. Glavine 178
No. 21, Com. Serv.: Adult Serv. Ctrs. - Wait Times, Ms. V. Conrad 179
No. 22, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Property Tax Assessments - Increases,
Mr. P. Paris 181
No. 23, Health: ER Closures - Solution, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 182
No. 24, Educ.: P-12 Schools - Advertising, Mr. W. Estabrooks 183
No. 25, Fish. & Aquaculture: Irish Moss Harvest - Expansion,
Mr. S. Belliveau 184
No. 26, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: HST Rebate Home Heat - Short-sighted
Ms. D. Whalen 185
No. 27, Fish. & Aquaculture: Lobster Fishery - Issues, Mr. S. Belliveau 186
No. 28, Environ. & Lbr.: Pension Benefits Act - Regulations, Mr. C. Parker 187
No. 29, Environ. & Lbr.: Climate Change Progs. - Fed. Funding,
Mr. K. Colwell 189
No.30, Educ.: Tuition Fees - Increases, Mr. L. Preyra 190
No. 31, TPW: Havill/Walker/Northwest Arm Drives - Safety Modifications,
Mr. G. Steele 191
No. 32, Env. & Labour.: Asphalt Plant (Goodwood) - Review,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 192
No. 33, Com. Serv.: Single Parent Educ. - Policy Revisit, Mr. S. McNeill 193
No. 34, Nat. Res.: Dept. Employees (Seasonal) - Union Eligibility,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 195
Mr. C. MacKinnon
No. 35, Health: Capital Health - Budget Increase,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 196
No. 36, Justice: Violent Crimes - Increase Address, Ms. M. Raymond 197
No. 37, TCH: Digby-Saint John Ferry - Closure, Mr. H. Theriault 198
No. 38, Health: Glades Lodge - Renovations, Mr. G. Steele 200
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. No. 21, Educ. - Hfx. Citadel: Sch. Closures - Moratorium,
Mr. L. Preyra 200
Mr. L. Preyra 200
Hon. K. Casey 202
Mr. L. Glavine 205
Mr. W. Estabrooks 207
Hon. B. Taylor 211
Res. No. 23, Fish. - Soft-Shelled Lobster Issue: Comm. - Strike,
Mr. S. Belliveau 213
Mr. S. Belliveau 213
Mr. R. Chisholm 215
Mr. H. Theriault 217
Hon. C. d'Entremont 219
Mr. C. MacKinnon 222
Mr. A. MacLeod 224
ADJOURNMENT
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Environ. & Lbr. - N.S. Drinking Water Strategy:
Mr. M. Parent 226
Ms. M. Raymond 229
Mr. L. Glavine 232
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thursday, July 6th at 12:00 noon. ~
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 78, Enright, D'Arcy - Shining Bell Award, Hon. J. Streatch 236
Res. 79, Ells, Brian - Shining Bell Award, Hon. J. Streatch 236
Res. 80, Canning, Herbert Frederick: Death of - Tribute, Hon. J. Streatch 237
Res. 81, Swinemar, Ricky & Derek: Big Red's - Success Wish
Hon. J. Streatch 237
Res. 82, Aspotogan Cons. Elem. Sch.: Knowledge Fest. - Judges' Choice
Awards, Hon. J. Streatch 238
Res. 83, Aspotogan Sch. Choir: Lun. & Dist. Music Fest. - Rose Bowl,
Hon. J. Streatch 238
Hon. J. Streatch
Res. 84, Tantallon Relay for Life: Organizing Comm. - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 239
Res. 85, Doggetts, David & Angela - Recreational Fishing Award,
Hon. J. Streatch 239
Res. 86, Harnish, Lois & Roy - Shining Bell Award, Hon. J. Streatch 240
Res. 87, Moore, Maureen - Shining Bell Award, Hon. J. Streatch 240
Res. 88, PEAK: Fundraising Efforts - Best Wishes, Hon. J. Streatch 240
Res. 89, Shoreham Village Fdn.: Palliative Care Units - Fundraising,
Hon. J. Streatch 241
Res. 90, Myra, Kim/ Skiffington / Keith: Walk to Cure Diabetes -
Family Chairs (2006), Hon. J. Streatch 241
Res. 91, Tantallon Elem. - Spring Fling: Organizing Comm. - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 242

[Page 151]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JULY 5, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North:

Therefore be it resolved that the government has made significant steps forward through the Nova Scotia Drinking Water Strategy, and continues to look ahead to make a vital resource even better.

The honourable Premier.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, if I might, I'll take the opportunity for an introduction. In the east gallery, we have some very special individuals with us here today. They are being accompanied by a friend, Mr. Burton MacIntyre. I'm speaking of some of the members of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association. There are many other members, one who sits here from time to time. They are performing this week in the Royal International Tattoo. I saw them perform the other night, on Saturday, and they did a tremendous job. They do a tremendous job all year long. It's great to see so many young people as part of the association, which is great for the music here in our province. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

151

[Page 152]

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

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, just in following the introduction given by the Premier, I find it important to point out that out of the 14 members of the Cape Breton Fiddlers Association, 10 of those members hail from the beautiful County of Richmond. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, fiddling has a long history, as well, in Richmond County. Unfortunately, during the past number of years, its popularity has declined. I can tell you, when you look at the faces up in the gallery, you can see that fiddling in Richmond County has taken on a renewed sense of importance, a renewed sense of pride. I'm certainly proud to see that so many representatives of this group are from Richmond County. May I also add that in two weeks, many of the members will be flying out to British Columbia, representing this province and playing at an event there as well. Certainly, on behalf of our caucus and all members, I want to wish them well.

May I also inform members that I've been told that the Cape Breton Fiddlers will be going down after this and will be playing a few sets at the Old Triangle. So, after Question Period, if members have the opportunity, they may wish to go visit that establishment and hear some fine Cape Breton fiddling music. I wish them well, Mr. Speaker, and hopefully members will get a chance to see them later this afternoon. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our special guests and all visitors to the gallery today. Indeed, I, as well, have the pleasure of making an introduction. I would ask you, as I call upon each, to stand. In the Speaker's Gallery today, we are pleased to have the esteemed company of the Honourable Denis Marshall, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association with us; his spouse, Ms. Ulrike Nevill. And, someone who is no stranger but indeed a friend to this House and all Nova Scotians, Art Donahoe, former MLA and Speaker of the House of Assembly and former Secretary-General of the Commonwealth Parliamentary Association, and his lovely wife, Carolyn. If you would stand and receive the warm welcome of the Nova Scotia Legislature. (Applause)

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

[Page 153]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 53

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

Whereas Graham Carey joined his friends and classmates at the final Grade 12 graduation at the current Sir John A. Macdonald High School on Thursday, June 29th ; and

Whereas Graham Carey has distinguished himself as a scholar and an individual by maintaining averages in the high 90s while participating in many extracurricular activities including student council, athletics and peer tutoring, as well as being a member of Amnesty International and volunteering with Feed Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Graham Carey is the recipient of the prestigious Dr. P. Anthony Johnstone Memorial Entrance Scholarship for 2006, a $6000 award that will help him begin studies at a Maritime university in the fall;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Graham Carey on his accomplishments in high school and for being a role model for students across the province, and wish him all the best on his life's journey that begins when he enters university this Fall.

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 African Nova Scotia Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 54

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

[Page 154]

Whereas the Freedom Schooner Amistad, a recreation of the 19th century schooner La Amistad, will visit Halifax from July 30th until August 7th; and

Whereas the Amistad incident of 1839 is one of the first human rights cases in the history of the United States to be argued on behalf of Africans, which was made famous by the Steven Spielberg movie, Amistad; and

Whereas the Freedom Schooner Amistad's visit to Halifax will be of historical importance to people of African descent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in applauding the Amistad Freedom Society of Nova Scotia for bringing the Amistad to Halifax, and urge all citizens to take part in the festivities.

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 Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 55

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

Whereas this past Canada Day weekend the spacious Agri-Dome at Truro Raceway Exhibition was host to the inaugural Can-Am East Equine Emporium; and

Whereas over 100 presentations and demonstrations involving some 30 different breeds of horses, expert clinics, and world-renowned performers were just some of the scheduled events over the four days; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation planned a wonderful event that promoted equine and equestrian activity;

[Page 155]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House recognize the work of the event organizers and the success of the largest multi-breed horse event in the Maritimes.

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 56

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

Whereas western Canada is currently experiencing serious forest fires, prompting emergency requests for additional fire management personnel and equipment, and we have been very fortunate here with wet weather preventing major fires; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources is responding to Manitoba's urgent request for assistance by sending a five-member Helitack team consisting of Eddy Allen, Andy Young, Phil Reid, Jeff Knock and Scott LeBlanc to Manitoba to assist with fire suppression; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources is preparing 500 lengths of fire hose, 13 complete fire pump kits, and six additional fire incident management team personnel to other destinations in western Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the professionalism of our Nova Scotia crews, and provide the full support of this House for them in their very important and demanding work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 156]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 57

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

Whereas this government has promoted the lifelong health benefits of children becoming more active every day; and

Whereas 2500 students at 26 schools across the province took up the cause in the Go Active! Fitness Challenge that measured gains in activities such as crunches, push-ups, standing long jumps, the 50-metre dash, shuttle runs and endurance runs; and

Whereas Hillside Park Elementary in Lower Sackville garnered a 22.5 per cent student fitness improvement, Kingswood Elementary in Hammonds Plains saw an 18.5 per cent improvement, and Nova Scotia students' activity level improvements exceeded the national average by more than 20 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate McDonalds Restaurants for sponsoring the Go Active! Fitness Challenge; Nova Scotia Olympians Karen Furneaux and Richard Dalton for helping the students improve their activity levels; and the 2,500 students in this province who out-crunched, out-push-upped, out-jumped, and outran the rest of the country.

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.

[Page 157]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 89 of the Acts of 1982. The New Minas Water Commission Act. (Hon. David Morse)

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 224 of the Acts of 1920. An Act to Incorporate the Temple Sons of Israel, Sydney. (Mr. Gordon Gosse)

Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 4 of the Acts of 1991. The Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act Respecting Certain Financial Measures. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 32 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 1998. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act. (Ms. Michele Raymond)

Bill No. 33 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 34 - Entitled an Act Respecting The Maritime Conservatory of Music and the Maritime Conservatory of Performing Arts Society. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

Bill No. 35 - Entitled an Act to Establish the Junior Order of Nova Scotia. (Mr. Wayne Gaudet)

Bill No. 36 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Establishment of a Process to Implement Senior Home Medication Reviews. (Mr. Stephen McNeil)

Bill No. 37 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 217 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Income Tax Act. (Mr. Wayne Gaudet)

[2:30 p.m.]

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.

[Page 158]

RESOLUTION NO. 58

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

Whereas a national report on early education and child care released today shows that only 11 per cent of HRM children are served by child care, although HRM offers more child care options than other parts of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas as the Environics survey released on June 20th found that the highest support for more child care spaces exists in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas multi-year federal investment in a national system of early childhood education and child care is essential to give Nova Scotia children a fair start in life;

Therefore be it resolved that this House affirms its support for multi-year federal funding of child care and early childhood education spaces so that Nova Scotia families have a quality, affordable early learning system.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 59

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

Whereas Britney Francis of the community of Millbrook received an Aboriginal Student Award through the RBC Financial Group worth $4,000 for a maximum of four years; and

[Page 159]

Whereas Britney, only one in five chosen for the award across the country, is actively involved in her community and is proud of her heritage and culture; and

Whereas this award will assist Britney to reach her dream of attending Acadia University and eventually earning a law or physiology degree;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Britney Francis on receiving an Aboriginal Student Award from RBC Financial Group and wish her every success along her academic journey to reach her dreams.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 60

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

Whereas in 1996, a group of individuals, including fishermen and various community-minded organizations, recognized the need for a summer event in the Big Bras d'Or area; and

Whereas the success of the Big Wave Summer Festival is attributable to the hard work and commitment of these volunteers and the community; and

Whereas the Big Wave Summer Festival will be celebrating its 10th Anniversary on July 22nd;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Big Wave Festival Committee on their 10th Anniversary and recognize their commitment in making the festival a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 160]

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. 61

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

Whereas Direction 180 is a methadone maintenance program, located in the North End of Halifax, which was the first service of its kind in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas Direction 180 employs a harm reduction, community-based approach to help its clients reduce drug use, improve their health and make positive changes in their lives, which also benefits the larger community; and

Whereas Direction 180 observed its 5th Anniversary of service to its clients and the community yesterday with a celebration at the MicMac Native Friendship Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Direction 180 and its staff on the occasion of its 5th Anniversary for their dedication and hard work, and wish them many more years of successful operation.

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 161]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 62

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

Whereas Towns of Nova Scotia: Profiles and Ratings, a book written by Richard Rogers, rated 31 Nova Scotia towns using 14 diverse criteria and strengths; and

Whereas Kentville showed strongly in the university educated population, land base, family income and early town status categories, and quality of MLAs; and

Whereas Mr. Rogers book ranked Kentville first above all Nova Scotia towns;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Richard Rogers upon publishing his book, and recognize Kentville as a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 63

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

Whereas Thursday night bridge at the Knights of Columbus hall in New Waterford has wrapped up for the summer; and

[Page 162]

Whereas Priscilla Kennedy and Margaret Ann Cann topped the North South teams with a score of 94, and Tom Jenson and Eileen Curry bested the East West teams with a score of 101; and

Whereas this long-standing tradition in New Waterford provides excellent entertainment and recreation opportunities for these residents;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the organizers and all team members of Thursday night bridge on a successful season.

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. 64

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

Whereas Megan Bryden has been chosen as the Female Athlete of the Year and for the David Myra Grade 12 Award at Sir John A. Macdonald High School; and

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

Whereas Megan Bryden's commitment to her school work and sports is exemplary;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Megan Bryden on her selection for the David Myra Grade 12 Award and Female Athlete of the Year at Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 163]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 65

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

Whereas Canadian Idol, a television show that airs weekly on CTV Television, provides the average person the chance to become a music star; and

Whereas Chad Doucette, a 17-year-old high school student from East Chezzetcook, was one of 12,000 people to audition for Canadian Idol in Halifax; and

Whereas Chad is the lone representative from Nova Scotia on the show and has made it to the final 18, proving that he is a natural singer and that Nova Scotians can put themselves on the national and international stage;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly acknowledge Chad for his extraordinary performing talents, and wish him the best of luck in his dreams of becoming the next Canadian Idol.

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.

[Page 164]

RESOLUTION NO. 66

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 school sports are important to school morale; and

Whereas school athletes play a major role in the life of many students; and

Whereas Hebbville Academy student, Rachael McIntosh took 1st place in high jump and the triple jump at Regionals, and placed 1st in the triple jump at Provincials;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rachael McIntosh on her success at the 2006 Track and Field Meets.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 67

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

Whereas on June 7, 2006, I had the opportunity to attend the first workshop for members of the public who were interested in the Main Street Streetscape Project; and

Whereas residents and business owners from the area shared their complaints and wishes for the neighbourhood; and

Whereas some of the suggestions were new green spaces, more walkable streetscapes and pedestrian scale streetlights;

[Page 165]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Main Street Streetscape Project on a constructive first meeting, and wish them much success as they move forward with this project.

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 Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 68

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

Whereas the Maritime Fiddle Festival, in partnership with the Rotary Club of Dartmouth East, will team together to present the 57th Annual Maritime Fiddle Festival; and

Whereas from July 6-10, 2006, the Akerley Campus and Prince Andrew High School in Dartmouth will play hosts to the fiddlers and step dancers from across Canada; and

Whereas, like any event, it is the countless volunteers who work many hours to ensure that this longest-running fiddle attraction in North America continues to be the success that it is;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Jim Delaney and the many dedicated volunteers, as well as the Rotary Club of Dartmouth East, and extend our best wishes for a successful, fun-filled weekend.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 166]

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. 69

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

Whereas Micky Marshall of Truro, recently captured the 2006 Canadian Kickboxing Cruiserweight Division Title; and

Whereas Micky Marshall was joined at the competition by more than 100 supporters from Truro, including family, friends and fellow kickboxers; and

Whereas Micky Marshall will join fellow Truro kickboxer, Ryan Burgess in national team trials in July, to try for a spot on the Canadian team that will compete at the world championship in Spain;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Micky Marshall on winning the 2006 Canadian Kickboxing Cruiserweight Division Title, and wish him continued success in future competitions.

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 West.

[Page 167]

RESOLUTION NO. 70

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

Whereas Jamie Jardine of Union Centre, Pictou County raised $2,000 and was this year's top fundraiser at the Sunrise Trail Chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Walk, Wheel or Run event held in New Glasgow on June 24th; and

Whereas the money raised provides families with essential mobility equipment that allows individuals with neuromuscular disorders to be active and independent members of the community; and

Whereas many local participants, businesses, firefighters and organizers combined to make this a successful event;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Jamie Jardine as top fundraiser at the Sunrise Trail chapter of Muscular Dystrophy Walk, Wheel or Run event and all associated with the Sunrise Trail chapter of the Muscular Dystrophy Canada for bringing awareness to this important issue.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 71

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

Whereas the regulation of gas in Nova Scotia will only give consumers higher prices and will provide only an illusion of stability by the government; and

[Page 168]

Whereas yesterday, The ChronicleHerald asked an on-line poll question, "What do you think of gas price regulation now that the cost of gas has jumped by more than six cents a litre in some parts of Nova Scotia?"; and

Whereas out of the 3,175 votes received, a full 72 per cent, or 2, 274 votes, were registered saying that regulation was a bad idea;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly urge the government to reconsider its stance on gas regulation in our province and take advice from those who matter most - the citizens of Nova Scotia.

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 Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 72

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

Whereas the Amherst Regional High School band was named the most outstanding concert band by the Atlantic Band Festival; and

Whereas this band was one of 72 from all across Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, P.E.I., Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario, and Maine to participate in the festival at Mount Saint Vincent University; and

Whereas with this honour from the Atlantic Band Festival, this 80-member band is eligible to attend the next national festival in Richmond, B.C. next May;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the Amherst Regional High School Concert Band for this outstanding and deserved recognition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 169]

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 73

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

Whereas Gordie Snow was born in Windsor Junction and a lifelong resident and valued constituent of the Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank riding; and

Whereas the life of Gordie Snow was filled with service to his community and work on the former County Council for 13 years, as well as the amalgamated HRM Council for an additional four years; and

Whereas the passing of Gordie Snow is deeply felt by the people of my riding, and thoughts and prayers go to Gordie's wife, Betty, and the entire Snow family;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature remember and honour the life of Gordie Snow and offer his wife, Betty Snow, and their family, sincere condolences on his passing.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 170]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis

RESOLUTION NO. 74

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

Whereas Digby, Nova Scotia, is the most romantic town in Canada, and Annapolis is the best little town to live in in North America; and

Whereas the Bay of Fundy, which has 50 feet of rise and fall tides, making it the richest feeding ground for fish and whales in the world; and

Whereas for people who love the biggest animals on Earth and the best scallops in the world, it makes it a must-visit destination;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly and their families come to Digby-Annapolis to see the whales, eat the scallops, and fall in love with life like never before.

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 lovingly carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 75

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

Whereas 40,000 Bedford residents enjoyed the 29th celebration of Bedford Days from June 28th to July 3rd; and

[Page 171]

Whereas Bedford Days are the result of a year of planning by hard-working volunteers and is overwhelmingly funded by sponsors; and

Whereas family entertainment and three fireworks displays, including the largest Canada Day show in Atlantic Canada, were the hallmark of this year's successful Bedford Days;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the many volunteers who worked so hard to present Bedford Days and give them recognition and encouragement as they set about planning next year's celebration.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 76

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

Whereas Jill Grant is a respected teacher, academic, researcher, professor, and Director of the School of Planning at Dalhousie University; and

Whereas she has examined the important issues of how we plan our cities for over 25 years; and

Whereas her article "Rethinking the Public Interest as a Planning Concept" was recently recognized at the June 2006 World Urban Congress hosted by the Canadian Institute of Planners in Vancouver, in association with the World Urban Forum;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Jill Grant for receiving the Canadian Institute of Planners 2006 Award for the best article published in

[Page 172]

its journal Plan Canada and thank her for her contributions to research and education in community planning.

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 Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 77

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

Whereas 17-year-old Chad Doucette of East Chezzetcook was one of 12,000 talented young Canadians to audition for Canadian Idol during its 11 city cross-country talent search; and

Whereas Chad's talent and charisma have earned him a spot in Canadian Idol's top 18 competitors, making him the only idol competitor from Nova Scotia; and

Whereas I had the pleasure of speaking to Chad before his televised Canadian Idol performance this week to send him the good wishes of all his supporters on the Eastern Shore and all across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chad Doucette on his Canadian Idol success and encourage all of Nova Scotia to support Chad this summer as the competition to select the 2006 Canadian Idol continues.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 173]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Order, please. Before we continue with the business of the day I would just remind people before going into Question Period all electronic devices are prohibited.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:50 p.m. and end at 4:20 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREMIER: MENTAL HEALTH SERV. - FUNDING

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In June, Dr. Bill McCormick, a retired medical director of the Nova Scotia Hospital and practising psychiatrist spoke publicly about the sad state of mental health services in Nova Scotia. He said psychiatrists are frustrated at a recent decision by this government not to fund seven more mental health beds requested by Capital Health. Dr. McCormick says patients are admitted to virtual beds, kept in chairs in hallways and sleeping on mattresses on the floor. My question to the Premier is this, why does this government think it is acceptable for mental health patients to be housed in chairs and to sleep on floors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government certainly does take this issue seriously and indeed in the coming days, within the next couple of weeks, there will be an announcement with regard to five residential beds that the Leader of the Opposition is speaking of.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's ironic because since this government came to power they have cut mental health beds in Capital Health and in other communities. It is more than ironic that now patients who can't be treated in HRM are sent to Bridgewater and to Yarmouth. If you read the business plans for those health districts you will see that they are often pointing out the challenges they face delivering mental health care with the resources they have to the local populations they are supposed to serve. So I ask the Premier, when will his government stop shuffling patients from district to district and admit that there is a shortage of short-term mental health beds that must be addressed?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Leader of the Opposition did not hear my first answer. The government does recognize that there is a shortage, that is why we are

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announcing five more beds over the next couple of weeks. In addition to that, this government has been very proactive in investing in the area of mental health. Indeed, more needs to be done but we can point to many examples across the province and here in the Capital District Health Authority, where the government has made investments which are making a difference. (Applause)

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, if he thinks that five beds are going to address what is a province-wide problem across many health districts, he is sadly mistaken.

Last year this government passed the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act that gives doctors the authority to hospitalize mentally ill patients who are not complying with their treatment. This Act was passed with few additional resources placed into community treatment programs and supports or into in-patient beds to help stabilize patients who are in crisis.

I want to ask the Premier, why won't this government sit down with the health authorities and ensure that there are adequate resources, including adequate numbers of in-patient mental health beds, to meet the needs right across the province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly get the exact figure but I believe the figure might be about a $6 million investment over the last three years, in addition to what the government was already spending in the area of mental health across the province. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that I can provide that information to him and to all members of the House. The government takes this issue seriously, it is a challenge which is not only faced by our medical professionals but by families across the province and we will continue to make wise investments for the right reasons.

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

PREMIER: CONFLICT OF INTEREST RULES - STRENGTHEN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it has been seven years since the Ministerial Code of Conduct has been updated in our province. This past year we learned that the Ministerial Code is not adequate enough to protect ministers and the public from conflicts of interest. As elected members, we have a duty to ensure that Nova Scotians have confidence in the way government operates. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to ensuring that stronger and transparent conflict of interest rules are put in place?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Leader of the Liberal Party for raising that question. Indeed, it was our government during the last seven years that introduced the Ministerial Code of Conduct for Cabinet Ministers. It is something that we feel very strongly about and it is important for the public to know that that is in place. We have also indicated our intention, through the Speech from the Throne, to strengthen that Ministerial Code of Conduct and we are reviewing it now to see in what manner that will be done.

[Page 175]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier indicated, we are certainly heartened to see that the Speech from the Throne did contain a commitment to strengthening the rules surrounding conflicts of interest. There is no reason why we can't begin that process this very session. In fact, we could even implement stronger rules during this session. The public are not convinced that government is serious about this issue or that it has learned from past situations.

My question again to the Premier is, can the Premier today commit that before the House rises, that he will ensure the rules respecting conflict of interest for ministers will be strengthened?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have already indicated our intention to strengthen the Ministerial Code of Conduct. There is a code in place now and it is certainly appropriate that should a minister be in a perceived or actual conflict, that there are guidelines in place to deal with that situation. We do feel, as a government, that there is a need to strengthen that. We have made a commitment to do so and we will be taking the time over the next number of months to make sure we put in appropriate measures which will reflect that.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, improving these rules not only protects the public's interests but also protects Cabinet Ministers themselves from either real or perceived conflicts of interest. Provinces such as New Brunswick have actually a step-by-step process set out in legislation when ministers find themselves in a conflict of interest position.

My final supplementary to the Premier is, will he assure us new rules will be put in place shortly so his Cabinet can make a fresh start under better and stronger conflict of interest guidelines?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have already indicated that through the Throne Speech, as I have mentioned. We are committed to strengthening the code, and we will do so. We will do so with the appropriate review within government to make sure that we are adequately not only putting the safeguards in place for the people of the province, but for ministers of the Crown as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COM. SERV.: ROBERTS CASE - TREATMENT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question will be for the Minister of Community Services. Today, Jean Roberts is in court on arson charges after she allegedly set her apartment on fire. She is 70, in poor health and struggling with mental illness. The media knows that she needs help. The lawyers know that she needs help. In fact, everyone but Community Services and Health seems to know that she needs help. This fact is underlined by more than a dozen court appearances in a year.

[Page 176]

So my question through you, Mr. Speaker, for the Minister of Community Services is, when will her government do more for Ms. Roberts than simply hand her a cab chit and wave as the car pulls away from the courthouse?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: I thank the honourable Leader of the Opposition for the opportunity to rise on this very important issue. Mr. Speaker, while you and all members of this House know I will not speak to any specifics of any case in my care, I would like to let all members of this House know that mental health is indeed a top priority for me and my department. Within the next two weeks, as the Premier had indicated, we'll be rolling out the details on a five-bed residential transition home that will allow for some of the flow from the forensic unit to transition those individuals back into their homes and ensure that all clients and all residents in my care are treated with the respect and the concern that we certainly have for them.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think the minister gets the point, so I'm going to paint her a picture. This 70-year-old woman with Parkinson's disease, who was in court in her nightclothes, was sent away without any assistance. In fact, Ms. Roberts had locked herself in the bathroom when she was released because she wanted to go to jail so she would at least have a place to stay, food to eat, someone to care for her. Given all this, the best that this government could offer her was a cab chit and their best wishes.

So, Mr. Speaker, through you, I would like to ask the Minister of Health, why wasn't Ms. Roberts assessed by Adult Protection or Mental Health then and there, given her erratic behaviour?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I, too, cannot speak to particular cases, but to say that people are assessed - and I'm sure as it was in this case - unfortunately, that was the outcome.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, he's right, it's a very unfortunate outcome. The more unfortunate fact is that Ms. Roberts is not an isolated case. There are not enough supported living options for mental health consumers, and there are not enough in-patient beds for people in crisis. What happened, and is happening to this Nova Scotia senior is shameful.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the Minister of Health, I'll ask, will the minister and his counterpart in Community Services sit down today to review Ms. Roberts' situation and finally provide her with the support and the treatment that she needs?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the honourable Minister of Community Services.

[Page 177]

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again to the Leader of the Opposition, we have a continuum of care committee that operates through my department and the Department of Health to deal with very complex cases as they come forward. I'm not speaking to any specifics, but any of the number of complex cases that come forward are dealt with through that continuum care committee, and we have complex plans put in place, to deal with those very complex cases. I feel very confident that the staff of Community Services and the staff of Health, will continue to move forward, in the best interest of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

EDUC.: EDUCATION ACT [SECT. 5(2)] - ENFORCEMENT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you, is to the Minister of Education. Section 5, Paragraph 2, of the Education Act says, "every person over the age of five years and under the age of twenty-one years has the right to attend a public school serving the school district or school region in which that person resides, as assigned by the school board."

Mr. Speaker, I was recently contacted by the mother of an 18-year-old, with many challenges, who has just completed Grade 12, but who come this Fall, will no longer have access to school board services, although the working in the Act is quite clear and although this child continues to have many developmental and learning needs. So my question to the minister is, is it your intention to enforce Section 5-2, of the Education Act, regarding children with special needs?

MR. SPEAKER: Before the minister answers that, you cannot applaud or show either affirmative or negative to any discussion on the floor.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you Mr. Speaker and to the member opposite. I will not speak specifically about the individual because of confidentiality issues, but the question in general is the programming that is in place for students beyond the age of 18 and between the ages of 18 and 21 - and you're speaking about the Education Act - what we're doing is working with Community Services. We recognize that there is a gap between 18 and age 21, and some students who have completed an individual program in our public school system may not yet be eligible for programs through Community Services at age 21. That is an issue. That is not something we want to continue, and we will be looking at some solutions that will make it good for everyone.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Independent Living Resource Centre, here in Halifax, believes that in the Metro area alone, there are at least 165 young people with learning and physical disabilities, whose developmental and educational needs continue after they graduate from high school, and the very few programs that exist in Nova Scotia, including supervised and independent living, have wait lists of several years and are

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only available to those who have reached 21. So my second question to the minister is, how will you meet your statutory obligation to these young people, within the educational system?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, once again, I will recognize that public schools are responsible for providing an educational program. When we have students with special needs - I'm sure the member may be well aware of this- the teachers, parents and other supports in the school sit down to look at an individual program that is designed to address the needs of those students, and when those have been met, then the student has completed the requirements.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the Minister of Community Services can clarify for these parents, what this government will do for a very serious problem that these young people face. Last week, 21 youth with challenges graduated from the Access to Community Education and Employment Program here in Halifax, but the federal funding for this program has expired and its renewal is in question. Since helping people with special needs is, at least in theory, the mandate of the Department of Community Services, I want to ask the minister, what is the minister doing to work with the Independent Living Resource Centre, and parents of kids with special needs, to develop programs that will bridge the existing gap between Grade 12 and the existing programs for independent living?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to rise on this very important issue. Along with the Department of Education, the Department of Community Services is working to ensure that gap is filled.

I would like to point out for all members of this House, currently we have 40 day programs available in the Province of Nova Scotia. We serve over 1,900 individuals. That's a very fine fact that I'm very proud of. Indeed, we will continue to ensure that we service all Nova Scotians.

As it pertains to Service Canada, that's a question for another House that doesn't belong on the floor of this House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HUM. RES.: CONSERVE N.S. - CEO APPT.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. Recently this government appointed Heather Foley-Melvin to the position of chief administrative officer for an agency yet to be created called Conserve Nova Scotia. With the federal government refusing to address environmental issues and backing out of the Kyoto Accord, this position in our province will have extreme importance if we are serious about addressing these issues. Minister, why did you appoint a political friend to this position and not allow applications from experts in environmental issues?

[Page 179]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you and to the member opposite, certainly the individual in question has demonstrated that the skill of the understanding and the necessary learning are the tools she possesses and she will do a great job at that particular post.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, minister, this is sending a bad message to Nova Scotians. People of this province will not stand for political patronage appointments any longer. Ms. Foley-Melvin, who was formerly chief of staff at a Tory office, is going to receive over $130,000 in salary for an agency that is not yet even created. It seems as though this government is using Cabinet offices for campaign headquarters. Minister, will you commit to reopening this position to a competitive process so that Nova Scotians can have confidence in this new-found agency?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member opposite, certainly I would want to reiterate the individual in question has demonstrated she has the skills that are required for the job and will do a fine job.

I would also like to add, it is extremely important that at this time and the development of this province and, indeed, around the globe that issues dealing with energy efficiency, that energy conservation and the protection of our environment are absolutely key. This is a leading-edge province. Thank you.

MR. GLAVINE: Minister, political patronage appointments, financial handouts to friends and business partners and senior official bonuses - the message this government is sending to its people is that you are committed to the old style of politics and have no regard for public trust. Minister, will you commit today to implementing measures . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Can you please direct your questions through the Speaker and not directly to the minister?

MR. GLAVINE: Minister, will you commit today to implementing measures so that the people of this province can once again place their trust in their government?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I'm certainly not aware of any bonuses, but I am aware there's a highly qualified individual that is taking over the position of the much-needed body in this Nova Scotia, a much-needed body that will direct energy efficiency, conservation and help enhance our environment in this province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

COM. SERV.: ADULT SERV. CTRS. - WAIT TIMES

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Community Services. We already know about the service gap for adults with developmental

[Page 180]

challenges and other disabilities between the ages of 18 and 21. But even after they turn 21, the wait list for adult service centres, sheltered workshops and other programs are too long. Many of these programs are struggling just to keep going with minimal government support. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, just what does she expect these young adults to do with their time for the years they will have to wait for services?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, through you to my honourable colleague, as I have already indicated here in the House today, we're very pleased with the over 1,900 individuals who we are able to service through our adult day programs. We have 40 adult day programs across the province and we serve a variety of needs for our Nova Scotian clientele.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can clarify, the redesign of the former community supports for adult program is nothing more than a smoke screen to cut services and freeze admissions to community-living options. Adding adult foster care might be an option for some people, but it cannot be used as a reason to continue freezing admissions to group homes and small-option homes. Mr. Speaker, families are feeling more pressure and less support as their adult disabled children wait for years for a placement in supportive living. I ask the minister, when will her department open up more supportive living beds to address the huge waiting list across the province?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member opposite, we, through the Department of Community Services, have a variety of services available to our clientele across the province. Those include day programs, those include small-option homes. Indeed, we had three brand new programs introduced just last year that are proving to be very successful. We will be continuing to build on those programs with additional funds through the budget this year. They have proven to be very successful, and we will continue to operate and offer those programs to our clients across the province.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, to clarify again, I guess, 1,900 people being serviced is just simply not enough, and there are huge waiting lists. Young adults with disabilities should not have to live with their parents until it becomes a crisis situation when their family just can't continue caring for them, but that's exactly what's happening. Admission to housing is limited to crisis situations and daycare programs, bridge programs to employment and other services are just woefully inadequate. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, how much longer will adults with disabilities be prevented from full participation in society?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again, I rise in my place to speak of the three programs that we introduced last year that have proven to be very successful. We will continue to build on those programs across the province. Indeed, we have some phenomenal facilities out there that do some wonderful things for the residents of Nova Scotia. Across the province we have amazing facilities such as LaHave Manor, we have facilities like the Bonny Lea Farm, in my own riding. Those facilities, along with the programs we have in place now, do provide, along with the 40-day program for adults, service for thousands of Nova Scotians. Thank you.

[Page 181]

[3:15 p.m.]

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: PROPERTY TAX ASSESSMENTS - INCREASES

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. As all members of this House must realize, rising property assessments continue to be a problem for homeowners across Nova Scotia. People in low, fixed and modest incomes are seeing large assessment increases that are just difficult to justify. They are often told it is the result of a new home built in their area, or an investor with deep pockets who buys a nearby home. Nova Scotians need help. My question to the minister is, what plan does your department have to help Nova Scotians with the continuing problem of rising property tax assessments?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. We certainly recognize that property taxes is an issue for many Nova Scotians. The honourable member knows, too, it's not the assessment value that determines how much you pay by itself, there is a multiple in there, the mill rate was put on there by the municipality. It's one thing to look at the province, but there is also a mill rate that is assessed or determined by the municipality and it's based, basically, on need. As usual, look at the province to solve all problems.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, I could have answered my own question, that's how predictable this government's lack of a plan to deal with this issue has become. The fact of the matter is that the so-called assessment cap is not automatic, which it must be to have the desired effect. So I ask the minister, when will your government do the right thing and make the assessment cap automatic?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that the honourable member reminded colleagues in the House of the assessment cap that was put in place by the previous Progressive Conservative Government. I know that a good number of Nova Scotians have benefited from that. I am pleased to tell the honourable member that it is the intention of this government to continue that assessment cap - I guess I should also remind the honourable member that it is a commitment by this government as well to double the low-income seniors' property tax rebate.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, because this so-called cap is set so high it is becoming apparent that assessors have a ceiling under which they can boost assessments, leaving homeowners with little choice but to appeal and, for most homeowners, the appeal process is so daunting and time-consuming that it is really not an option at all. Will the minister tell this House when he will do as other governments have done - like the recent example in Ontario - undertake a full and independent review of the assessment system?

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MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is a legislated review of the assessment system and that will take place in due course. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH : ER CLOSURES - SOLUTION

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. In the last couple of weeks Nova Scotians, in certain communities anyway, have been experiencing a case of déjà vu. Emergency room closures are once again occurring more and more frequently; in fact, from the year 2000 to 2005, emergency rooms throughout this province have been closed for over 16,212 hours. To put that in perspective, that is the equivalent of about a year and ten months - almost two years of closures.

Mr. Speaker, even in your own community it has been severely impacted over the long weekend and will continue to be impacted until something is finally done. My question for the minister is, has your department completely abandoned the idea of coming up with a solution to resolve the large number of emergency room closures in this province?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up the issue of emergency room closures and the challenges that all district health authorities have in making sure that those emergency rooms are staffed to their fullest. As the member opposite is aware, doctors do deserve some recreation, some time off, some vacation, and that is what we experience during the summer months. Unfortunately, we are going to see some closures in some areas.

Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we will have every service in place, through EHS, through other hospitals, to make sure that all Nova Scotians receive the service they require.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I am sure that Nova Scotians, especially those who live in the communities most directly impacted by ER closures, are going to take a look at what is being spent on health care by this government and then compare that to the service they are receiving and they will wonder just exactly what is going on.

This past weekend Northside General, Soldiers Memorial, Inverness Consolidated - that, incidentally, had all emergency surgeries and obstetrical services cancelled - as well as Glace Bay, ERs were closed at certain times over the past weekend. So my question to the minister, what specific action plan has the Minister of Health developed to stop this revolving ER closure problem?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we are working closely with the district health authorities to make sure that we are aware of the

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closures, to see if we can backfill those pieces. Quite honestly, to the member opposite, normally we find out when they find out so we want to make sure that we have a good system in here to make sure that we have the systems in place to protect all Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, that's not an answer. That's not even close to an answer. Why doesn't the minister just tell people not to get sick in the summertime, because their ER will be closed? Well, at least in the closures of emergency rooms in New Brunswick, back in September 2005 when they had a similar problem there, they gave ER nurses more responsibility. Now that doesn't replace doctors, but at least it takes the burden off the other ERs that are taking up the slack. This is the fourth Health Minister in this government in seven years, the fourth minister, and we still have the problem.

My question to the minister is, when can Nova Scotians living in communities that are directly impacted expect this government to finally come up with a solution to the frequent ER closures?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is fully aware, we can't be everywhere at all times, and we want to make sure that we have an EHS, an ambulance system, with trained paramedics so that if you do have a problem, you are experiencing medical distress, you call 911. That is the plan, 911. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

EDUC.: P-12 SCHOOLS - ADVERTISING

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. The Nova Scotia Teachers Union recently published some very concerning survey results regarding the commercialization of schools here in our province. Two in five schools reported the presence of advertising and almost half our schools have an exclusive marketing deal with either Pepsi or Coke, compared to just a quarter of the schools nationally, across our country. So my question for the Minister of Education is, when is this government going to stop depending on pop companies to keep our schools properly funded?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, board policy and procedure is certainly taking a good look at what kind of revenue is generated in the schools and how that revenue is generated, and in keeping with our healthy lifestyles, our food policy on healthy foods in the schools, we will be addressing that concern at the board level.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I want to remind the new Minister of Education, you are the Minister of Education, the board level is not where this buck stops. Marketing and advertising are about buying and selling goods. Our children are already overexposed to the corporate message that says happiness comes from acquiring and owning things. Education is not a commodity. It's a social right. Our children deserve to go to schools in an advertising and

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marketing-free zone. So my question is, when is this government going to admit that their chronic underfunding of the P-12 schools in our province is undermining our children's education?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could to the member opposite, I indicated that there is board policy, there are also department guidelines. For example, we will not be allowing any soft-drink pops to be sold in our schools, starting in January 2007. That's the first step.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, marketing and advertising in our schools are particularly offensive, as our children are asked to believe that what they are taught in school, is in their best interest. Teachers' organizations, particularly in our province, the NSTU, are at the forefront of the campaign to reduce corporate involvement in our schools. One of them happens to be pop. However, let's look at what the RBC did at a local school in the school board where I believe the minister was previously employed - RBC wanting to teach economics to junior high students. So how is the minister and her department going to tackle the concerns of these teachers and tackle the problems of advertising in our schools?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, through you to the opposite member, the whole issue of advertisement in schools and students being exploited by big companies is something that we would not allow and we will frown on it, and we'll work to end it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: IRISH MOSS HARVEST - EXPANSION

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries. On July 3, 2006, I took part in a peaceful protest in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, involving Irish moss harvesters. They are looking to expand the area from which they can currently harvest Irish moss. The area in question is District 12, and the harvesters are looking to expand into District 11. Harvesters are looking for the support of the provincial government in their dealings with Ottawa. When will the minister engage in the discussions with the federal counterpart to make these changes so this valuable resource can continue to be harvested?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Those discussions will take place as soon as the Opposition lets us out of the House to enable me to go to Ottawa to discuss those issues.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the Throne Speech mentioned the need to help our rural communities. Everyone in the House knows too many young families are leaving our coastal communities to find work in other areas of Canada, while these resources could keep many of them here. Why isn't the government interested in helping to create potentially hundreds of resource jobs for fishermen in our coastal communities?

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MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we are working with the industry, we are working with the federal government to see if there can be changes made to the Irish moss fishery, and we'll continue to do so.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, senior biologists in DFO realize that District 11 is under-harvested and that a more substantial increase in harvests from this area would benefit these communities. Will the minister demand the Department of Fisheries and Oceans review the Irish moss harvesting proposals?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, the government and I will work with the federal government. We'll work with the people involved in the industry to see if we can make the industry better and to the benefit of all fishermen.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: HST REBATE HOME HEAT - SHORT-SIGHTED

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Just prior to the recent election, the Progressive Conservative Government made a classic flip-flop and suddenly committed themselves to taking the provincial portion of the HST off home heating fuels. This will cost millions of dollars and really does nothing to move our province forward in energy efficiency or conservation. Even the Ecology Action Centre has come out and said that this is taking the province in the wrong direction. Instead of promoting cutting-edge practices in conservation and energy use, the government has chosen a short-sighted tax rebate as an election ploy.

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, how do you reconcile the contradiction of creating Conserve Nova Scotia along with the short-sighted plan to rebate provincial sales tax on home heating fuel?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I just want to make sure I understand the question, is the honourable member saying that that rebate should not be given so that people experience 7 per cent less in their energy bills?

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I fear that the minister didn't fully understand the question I posed to him. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. WHALEN: The Tories and the NDP have joined hands to remove the provincial portion of the HST on home heating. The reason it's surprising, Mr. Speaker, is this plan hurts

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low income Nova Scotians. When this comes into effect, the people who are eligible for the Keep the Heat program will no longer get the help they need with their heating bills. The tax savings on average from this new motion will be about $200 per household. Last year the Keep the Heat program provided low-income Nova Scotians with $250 to help them stay warm in the winter.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, with the Keep the Heat program gone, what are you planning to do for lower income families that are not able to afford the cost of heating their homes this winter?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the tax rebate applies to all home energy sources, including electricity and it's 8 per cent, not the 7 per cent which I indicated in my previous response.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my point to the minister was that it's still not as much help as they received last year, for low-income Nova Scotians. So what I hear the minister say is that he has abandoned the lower income families and he's offering less help this coming year than he did last year. My question to the minister is, will your government revisit the decision to axe the Keep the Heat program this winter so that low-income families will get the direct assistance they desperately need?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the tax rebate system that has been put in place applies to propane, it applies to wood, it applies to electricity and it also applies to energy, other than the heating source, for every Nova Scotian. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: LOBSTER FISHERY - ISSUES

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question again is to the honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Each year $300 million to $400 million worth of lobsters are landed by approximately 3,000 lobster licence holders in this province. Nova Scotia lobster is a major export product, however, there are serious issues that need to be addressed, such as the soft-shelled lobster and marketing conditions relating to them.

My question is, Mr. Speaker, when will the minister and the department staff come to southwestern Nova Scotia and meet with fishermen and buyers so that all involved can begin to address this problem?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, we have been dealing with this issue for the last two years. The Fish Packers Association in the province and all the stakeholders have been involved. I will tell the member opposite that as soon as the

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House rises, one of my first trips will be to southwestern Nova Scotia to meet with the fishing community to see what the problems are and try to address them.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, in each of the last few years the Nova Scotia lobster industry has exported millions of dollars worth of soft-shelled lobsters outside this province for processing. The people of Nova Scotia are not receiving the full benefits of this natural resource. When will this minister take a leadership role and address the issue and keep the lobster industry strong and vibrant?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it is the intention of this government to keep the lobster industry as vibrant as we possibly can. The lobster industry is probably worth $300 million to $400 million a year to the Province of Nova Scotia in export sales alone. The seafood industry in this province is worth well over $1 billion to this province, so we will do everything we can to ensure that that keeps going. (Applause)

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, if this government really cares about the fisheries and the economic benefits, they would take these conferences to the fishermen and the buyers. It only makes sense if what we want to do is listen to the concerns of the fish harvesters, these meetings should be held from time to time in the communities, not only in Truro. My question is, when will the minister commit to holding a conference in southwestern Nova Scotia?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, we have a conference every year in Truro that represents all of Nova Scotia, all of the fishing industry, all of the lobster industry, all of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: PENSION BENEFITS ACT - REGULATIONS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. On December 9, 2004, the Progressive Conservative Government made a change to the regulations under the Pension Benefits Act to remove the requirement to fully fund grow-in benefits on the windup of a pension plan. This sweeping change leaves many employees in private industry at risk of reduced pensions, should a company be forced into bankruptcy at that time. My question through you to the minister is, what is your department's position about reversing the wholesale change made in 2004 to the grow-in benefit, and instead perhaps consider it on a case-by-case basis, where employers and employees agree to the change?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, probably for the first and last time, I will say how pleased I am to stand in this House and be able to answer a question in Question Period. (Applause)

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The government takes seriously our responsibility to private pension plans, not only for those currently receiving the pension but for those who will receive the pension plan in the future. This matter was already brought to me by one of our members, the member for Pictou Centre. I can assure the member opposite that we receive regular solvency plans from these private companies to ensure that the pension plans are in good health, so that they will continue to serve both the present and future recipients of that plan.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I guess all members of this House would certainly know that our pulp and paper industry in this province is facing some tough times. One of the companies that is facing a solvency deficiency at this time is Neenah Paper of Pictou County. Their most recent solvency-deficiency report to the Superintendent of Pensions, 2002, reported a $26 million solvency deficiency. The company is required to make up special payments through the end of 2007 to make up for that deficiency.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, can he confirm that the payments are continuing at this time, and perhaps undertake to table in this House a copy of the most recent solvency valuation of the company's pension plan?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, Neenah Paper has two plans, as the member opposite will know, one for hourly workers and one for salaried workers. I've checked with the Superintendent and she assures me that both plans are healthy and operating within normal parameters for private plans.

MR. PARKER: Again, my request, Mr. Minister, is that you table that here in the House for all to see. It's certainly a very serious issue for the workers at Neenah, both the pensioners and those who will be retiring in the future. More than 450 workers are directly affected, and their families, by the health of this plan and the way that the benefits are funded. It certainly could amount to a reduction in their pension entitlement. My question, again, Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, is, what guarantees will he give that his government will act to ensure that these employees' pensions are fully protected?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my first response, we take very seriously the health of private pension plans and public pension plans, and that's why we have one of the two tests, the solvency test, to make sure that the plan is healthy. That's a trigger to tell us if the plan isn't healthy. In this case, I've checked with the Superintendent of Pensions, and she has assured me that both pension plans are healthy and operating within the guidelines of private pension plans.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

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ENVIRON. & LBR.: CLIMATE CHANGE PROGS. - FED. FUNDING

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. During the most recent federal budget, the Harper Conservative Government eliminated funding for 15 climate change programs. Included in the cutbacks was funding for the One-Tonne Challenge, which was geared to changing the behaviours of individuals and businesses. Recent scientific reports released in the United States point to the fact that cancelling these programs was wrong. My question to the minister is, could the minister please indicate whether his predecessor in his department made any attempts to save the climate change programs from needless federal budget cuts, and if so, will the minister table this evidence before the end of Question Period today?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, on a personal matter, when I bought my scooter last year, I was able to meet my own " One -Tonne Challenge" very successfully. I will take that matter under advisement and speak to the former minister.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's quite evident the minister took the One-Tonne Challenge seriously and the federal government didn't.

Recently, scientific reports indicate the temperature on Earth has spiked over the past 140 years, with this spike being the direct result of human activity. In addition, the federal minister was advised that the One-Tonne Challenge was successful in encouraging citizens and was fundamental in addressing climate change. What plans do you have as a province to provide similar initiatives to the One-Tonne Challenge, given the federal government has abandoned this type of program?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, rather facetiously the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection has remarked to me that maybe we should offer scooters for all Nova Scotians to help them meet the One-Tonne Challenge.

On a serious matter, I've been in contact already with the Minister of Environment federally and, as soon as the House rises, we'll have an opportunity to meet personally and talk about these important challenges for not only Nova Scotians but all Canadians.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I also indicate that another minister over there took the challenge very seriously, so the program indeed did work.

Science has proven that the federal Conservatives are wrong in this decision. Politics has gotten in the way of rational decision making by the Stephen Harper Government, and all the while the environment and the health of Nova Scotians will suffer. Given the scientific proof that human activity has played a very significant role in global warming, what can Nova Scotians expect of a "made in Nova Scotia" One-Tonne Challenge program?

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MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, that's why I was so pleased with the rollout of Conserve Nova Scotia. I have talked to the head of that program already and we'll be meeting and chatting further in order to talk about these important challenges on the environment.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

EDUC.: - TUITION FEES - INCREASES

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. The constituency of Halifax Citadel is home to four of Nova Scotia's universities and nearly 60 per cent of our university students. These students are coping with the highest tuition in Canada - fees that are more than $2,000 higher than the national average. In May, in the last Throne Speech, this government committed to bringing tuition in Nova Scotia in line with the national average within five years, and in the recent election they amended this commitment to reducing tuition by $250 a year over the next four years.

Nevertheless, this Fall, the government will allow universities to increase tuition by another 3.9 per cent at a minimum. How are tuition fees supposed to get lower if her government keeps forcing it higher?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite. Our government, as has been suggested, does recognize that tuition costs in our province need to be reined in. We need to come more in line with the national standard, and we are making attempts to do that. One of the things that I would suggest to you is those attempts are being made within a balanced budget and they will be gradual.

MR. PREYRA: Those promises were made with one eye on the ballot box and not on the balanced budget, I suggest. Students and their families were hopeful following the government's May Throne Speech because it represented a significant departure from this government's approach to post-secondary funding - or so they thought. It's a triumph of hope over experience, Mr. Speaker.

Despite our experience, we took the government at their word that they would cut tuition to the national average. Within days after the election writs were issued, they backed away from this commitment. Why would the minister make a promise to cut tuition for students and their families that they clearly had no intention of keeping?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, we were talking and will continue to talk about a five-year plan to make that a gradual reduction.

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MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, the students want more than talk, they want concrete action from this minister. Despite the government's contention that halting this year's tuition hikes would be too difficult, they went ahead and quietly renegotiated the MOU this Spring to suit their own interests, and without consulting with families, students and other stakeholders. When it comes to the interest of students and their families, the government denies that they have any role to play. Why does the minister's government refuse to do the right thing and stop tuition from increasing yet again, this year, right now?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, we do have a number of debt reduction programs that are in place. We have a graduate tax credit, we have the millennium access grants, there are a number of things being done to assist students with the debt load.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

TPW: HAVILL/WALKER/NORTHWEST ARM DRIVES -

SAFETY MODIFICATIONS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Northwest Arm Drive is a provincial highway in my constituency running from Main Avenue in Fairview south to the Old Sambro Road. At about the halfway point it intersects with another road called J. Albert Walker Drive on the west side, and Walter Havill Drive on the east side. Now, the Department of Transportation and Public Works own statistics show that that intersection has a collision rate that is double the provincial average. Department of Transportation and Public Works staff have acknowledged that there is no other intersection in western HRM with a higher collision rate. Residents of the new Stoneridge subdivision, who must travel daily through this intersection, are understandably apprehensive and have asked for modifications to improve the safety of that intersection.

My question to the minister is, when will the Department of Transportation and Public Works fix the Walter Havill intersection so that it is safe for the travelling public?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. I will certainly sit with the staff and have a real good look at the statistics that are referred to by the honourable member. We are attempting at all times to improve highway conditions throughout the province, and we do our very best to meet the priorities. We're always in a situation where the list is longer than the one we're able to address despite the fact that we quadrupled the capital budget in highways since we became government. Certainly, I undertake to look at this intersection very carefully.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, departmental staff told the public meeting I organized a full year ago that they knew what the problem was and they knew how to fix it, the only thing missing was funding. Since the public meeting was held a few months into the last fiscal year, they said that residents would have to wait until this fiscal year for funding to come through.

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Indeed, departmental staff included the fixes to the intersection as a regional priority in their plans for this budget year, but one week before election day we were informed, for the first time, that the departmental budget tabled on May 9th did not - I repeat, did not - include the necessary funding.

My question to the minister, what is it going to take for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to authorize the necessary safety modifications to the most dangerous intersection in western HRM?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my answer to the first question, this is a matter that I will review with departmental staff with a view to seeing when we can address the concerns raised by the honourable member.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, these modifications are not just something that it would be nice to have, they're not just something that local residents would like to have, they are essential to the safety of the travelling public and, in particular, the residents of the Stoneridge subdivision who have no choice but to use this intersection to leave and enter their neighborhood. My final question to the minister is this, this dangerous intersection is only a 15-minute drive from where we are right now, will the minister commit to meeting with myself and area residents at the intersection so that he can see for himself how dangerous it really is?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member seemed to indicate that he had great faith in the judgment of my staff and I will be glad to sit with my staff and review the situation. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

ENV. & LBR.: ASPHALT PLANT (GOODWOOD) - REVIEW

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour. Residents of the growing communities along the Prospect Road are upset with the recent announcement of approval by the Halifax Regional Municipality of an asphalt plant in Goodwood. I will table the press reports, the Masthead News included, where we actually received the news of this asphalt plant and the way we had to learn about it was through our local paper. It seems that whether it is the Otter Lake landfill site or the New Era Compost Facility, we are always the last to know about such HRM decisions.

A full environmental review must be a prerequisite before this asphalt plant is allowed to proceed, so my question to the minister is, will the minister commit to the residents of the Prospect Road that an environmental review will take place on this proposed asphalt plant in Goodwood?

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HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Environment and Labour, as you know, enforces the Environment Act and takes that enforcement very seriously. The Act doesn't require an environmental assessment in the case of LaFarge Asphalt, so because the Act doesn't require an environmental assessment, we are not authorized to do so by the Environment Act. That does not mean we don't take this seriously. We have invoked Section 7 of the Approval Procedures and Regulations of the Environment Act requiring LaFarge Asphalt to undertake a community consultation process since we believe that consultation with the community is very important in cases like this.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the minister because you have undertaken the important consultation in listening to residents, something that obviously the Western Community Council of the HRM is not listening to. From traffic concerns to the close proximity of the Drysdale Bog, the decision makers just don't seem to want to listen.

I would ask, however, if the minister would commit to making sure that this review, with the necessary input from the community, takes place in a timely fashion as soon as possible. We are, after all, dealing with LaFarge on a hit-and-miss basis, yet we have to count upon HRM councillors who have now stepped away from it. Can you assure our community that this review will take place in a timely fashion?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I want to reiterate that I did not commit to a review. I indicated that the Environment Act, which we enforce, doesn't require an environmental assessment, however, with regard to the community consultation which we have committed to, I will endeavour to make sure that the department encourages LaFarge to take this action very soon.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I thank the minister for clarifying that point. I heard what he said and I appreciate his initiative on this matter. I would urge, however, that it would be of real importance that the Department of Environment and Labour staff be present on that particular day or evening in our community when there is input, when the community will have its say. After all, we and our provincial government are committed to listening to Nova Scotians and I would ask for staff from your department to be present when that meeting is held.

MR. PARENT: Thank you very much. I will commit to having staff present at that meeting.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

COM. SERV.: SINGLE PARENT EDUC. - POLICY REVISIT

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: My question is for the honourable Minister of Community Services. Fact sheets produced by the Status of Women show that women must have a

[Page 194]

university degree before their earnings surpass those of men with a high school education. Certainly such findings should indicate to this minister that policy changes originally adopted by this government should be revisited, to enable single parents with children to enrol in a four-year university program rather than a two-year program. My question to the minister is, could the minister please indicate if she plans to revisit this policy with the intent of changing it in the best interest of single parents and their children?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to rise to speak on this very important issue. There's no question that ensuring that all Nova Scotians, be they male, be they female, be they single parents or families, have access to quality education, and indeed we'll be moving forward to ensure that the best possible programs are available to all clients under our care.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the minister must admit not supporting a single parent on social assistance to attend a four-year university program builds barriers that prevents their family from creating a better life. The minister also has the ability to do something to help these families by enabling them to attend university and breaking themselves from the cycle of poverty. So my question to the minister is, will the minister at least commit to discussing this issue with her Cabinet colleagues with the aim of convincing them, this is a discriminatory policy that needs to change?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, I speak quite frequently with members of my staff, as well as my colleagues here in the House, as we move forward to continue to build on these programs. I would also indicate that we've got some phenomenal programs available out there. We've got some amazing programs at community college, we have some great programs at Kingstec, and we'll continue to build on those programs to ensure that all needs of all Nova Scotians are met.

MR. MCNEIL: I take that as a no. Mr. Speaker, this government doesn't have a solid track record when it comes to this issue. Earlier this year the Community Services Committee held a Forum on Poverty, a forum which government representatives chose not to attend, where presenters expressed that the two-year policy needs to be changed. So my question is, will this minister at least review the evidence in a research paper produced by the Changes Coalition and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives with respect to the importance of a four-year university program for single parents on social assistance?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for the opportunity to correct the record. Indeed, my honourable colleague to my left here, the Minister of Environment and Labour, was at the poverty session, did take part, and took very seriously the issues that were brought to the table. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, as a final comment on the issue, poverty is an extremely complex issue and certainly, as we move forward in the days to come, all programs will be reviewed to ensure

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that we are meeting the needs of all Nova Scotians, low income as well as men and women across the province.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES: DEP'T. EMPLOYEES (SEASONAL) - UNION ELIGIBILITY

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. I would like to talk about an instance of discrimination that is taking place in this minister's department in regard to seasonal employees. Seasonal employees work from three to nine months every year, and there are many who have done this for 30 years, without a guarantee of being rehired - no benefits, no protections, and no wage parity for doing the same job. The problem is that they are not allowed to unionize. Will this minister please explain why these workers are ineligible to be protected by a union?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I was made aware that there was an interest out there amongst the seasonal workers during the election campaign to make this an issue. I'm advised that there's currently no accommodation for them under the Trade Union Act and the applicable labour laws, and that is something that would have to be addressed there to give that consideration.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, an election issue? More than 70 per cent of the 350 seasonal DNR staff signed union cards last summer, Mr. Minister, showing their desire for union representation. Last summer. This government continues to drag its feet on the issue. There are other seasonal staff within the provincial government who enjoy the protections offered by a union. Why are these employees not offered the same opportunity?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again, what I was told when I asked the question, is I was not aware there was any capacity for them to be able to unionize, but I will take it under advisement and give it the appropriate consideration.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, this is just a matter of rights and who is allowed to unionize and who isn't. The minister should take a long look at this situation, seek the needed information, the correct information on how he can get this done, and do it. My final question is, when will this minister do the right thing and give these workers the fairness they deserve?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite again for his question. I think it was answered in the initial question, in the first supplementary. I'm not aware that the capacity is there, but I will take it under advisement and give it the appropriate consideration.

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

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HEALTH: CAPITAL HEALTH - BUDGET INCREASE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. I'll table pages from the April Capital Health Operational Measures Indicators Report. The documents detail the wait times for elective CT scans. It says, "In the future, it is anticipated that both the QEII and Dartmouth wait times will decrease with the new CT scanner at Cobequid." My question to the Minister of Health today is, given this example of the impact the Cobequid CT scanner is having on wait times, why not add the resources to the Capital Health budget so its hours can be extended?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's a situation that we continually strive forward on, making sure that we have the correct equipment in the correct areas in all of the province, and making sure that we have the professionals to man them. We have given serious consideration and requests from CDHA to rectify this issue and make sure that the wait times are at an acceptable level.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, a year ago, the wait times for elective CT scans was 112 days at the QE II, that's four times the targeted wait days for elective CT scans. The wait time at the Dartmouth General was 80 days. Wait times at the QE II, now, are half that, and the Dartmouth General's wait times are improving every day. Given the long wait times at the emergency rooms in Capital Health, having a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week operation at the Cobequid makes sense. I ask the Minister of Health, when can the residents of the Cobequid health region expect around-the-clock access to emergency care so the Cobequid HealthCentre can play an even greater role in addressing the excessive wait times seen in the emergency rooms around HRM?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, we're very proud of the Cobequid Health Centre and the service it provides to the citizens of that area. As the member opposite has toured the area and checked out the facility, it is absolutely state of the art. During the construction phase and during the planning phase, of course, it was only designed to be a part-time ER, closing at 11:00 p.m. This is something we will continue to monitor, but at this time we feel that service is more than adequate with the other facilities in HRM.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, actually, the facility closes at 10:00 p.m. The new centre is a great facility, as the minister has stated. The new services will be greatly used and appreciated by the community when they are finally up and running. One of the essential needs is around-the-clock access to emergency treatment without having to go to Dartmouth, Halifax or Windsor. So I ask the Minister of Health again, when will Capital Health get the resources it needs to provide this essential service at the Cobequid Health Centre?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through you, to the member opposite, to make him understand, the DHA's have a business plan, they bring things forward to us and make

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requests for those types of services. As of yet, the DHA has not brought a request for us to continue or to have 24-hour service at the Cobequid Community Health Centre.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

JUSTICE: VIOLENT CRIMES - INCREASE ADDRESS

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Nova Scotians are disturbed by the rise of violent crime in many parts of the province, such a rise that the capital of our province has, in fact, become the violent crime capital of the country. In my part of the regional municipality, a series of violent incidents has left many community members on edge. A rash of shootings, murder, fire bombings and a full-scale manhunt have characterized the last couple of weeks and shaken the faith of local residents in the safety of our province. These are not isolated acts or random violence, there is in fact increasing evidence of gang involvement in many of these incidents. I'd like to ask the minister, what steps is the government taking to deal with gang violence in Nova Scotia?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite I thank her for the question. She brings before this House a very serious issue on something that I personally have taken a real interest in resolving. There are many initiatives this government is undertaking whether it's legislation, meeting with federal ministers, meeting with the local HRM police especially, to talk about programs and how we can assist. I can tell you that I just recently announced a task force on crime which I believe will talk about issues that you're talking about before the House today. To tell the minister opposite, we will do everything we possibly can with this government to support our professional police officers of this province to deal with major crime in Nova Scotia.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, the trouble is these resources need to be not only dedicated but coordinated. The subject of that full-scale manhunt was actually in police custody in Digby while Halifax Regional Municipality Police were looking for him. It really is essential that the conversations take place amongst forces as well as amongst levels of government. Will the minister tell this House just how there could have been such a massive lack of communication between two police forces within the province?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the member opposite would know that that person who was taken into custody down in the Digby area gave a false identification. I can tell the member opposite that I rely very heavily and believe in the professional police officers in the Province of Nova Scotia who do a good job and it doesn't do them any service to stand in this House and criticize them. I think the honourable member should rethink her position on this issue.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I too have great faith in the individual police officers of the province, however, it is in fact the coordination and the organization of those individual

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police members and their forces which is essential. Other provinces have managed to deal with this problem. Manitoba, British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec and Alberta all have integrated gang units which bring together police, Crown Attorneys and other officials so that the resources can really be effectively marshalled. To the minister, when will your government in fact support the establishment of an integrated unit to deal with the emerging problem of gang violence specifically in this province?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, on behalf of the police of this province, I'll accept that apology of the member opposite, and so you should. The honourable member would know (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please! The honourable Minister of Justice has the floor. (Interruptions)

Order, please! The honourable Minister of Justice has the floor.

MR. SCOTT: The police officers in this province - municipal, provincial and federal - are professional people, they deserve the respect of the members of this House and all Nova Scotians. This government committed $6 million last year to criminal intelligence in this province which is working very well with municipal and provincial forces.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that we have initiatives underway right now that I'm embarking upon that will assist police in this province. I believe that as a result of my discussions with them that they accept that very well.

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

TCH: DIGBY-SAINT JOHN FERRY - CLOSURE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. The answers I heard yesterday from the ministers and the Premier showed me they may not understand the importance of the Digby Ferry to our local area. The tourism industry in this province, and specifically in my area, is declining very fast. There's a reason why it's declining so fast, it's because the government may not be addressing the issues properly, such as the Digby ferry closure. Without a solution to this problem, our industry is only going to get worse. My question is, Mr. Minister, will you commit today to providing a solution to the people of this province that would see our ferry back up and running for the good of all Nova Scotians and businesses?

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for the question. I have some good news, some cautiously optimistic news, that the numbers within the tourism industry for this year, as of May, are up, which is good news for this province. (Applause)

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We have, as well, through the budget of the Tourism, Culture and Heritage Department, also increased the budget in the marketing division to attract our friends from the U.S. and from other parts of Canada, by over $600,000 this year. Also, as an initiative, this evening, through the Minister of Economic Development, Minister Hurlburt, we will be meeting with MLAs and with the municipal officials from the Digby area. Possibly, I could pass part of the question over to the Minister of Economic Development for comment.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. I would just remind the honourable member that you do not refer to a member by their name but by their title.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Tourism marketing plans are great, but shouldn't the Digby ferry and other transportation be a huge part of getting more people to this province? How will we ever double tourism without transportation systems to bring them here? Over 100,000 individuals, mainly tourists, use this ferry service each year to come to our province, to come to our attractions, to sleep at our bed and breakfasts. The easier we make it for them to come, the more they will come. My question is, Mr. Minister, how are you going to double the tourism industry if you refuse to address the issues, such as the closure of our ferry? Just what is the tourism plan to bring double the people here to this province?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I guess, in fairness with my last comment, the honourable member may not have been listening to what I was just saying. We are, as a government, increasing our tourism budget to draw and to market the province and its resources to other parts of Canada and the United States. We are, as well, with regard to the issue of the ferry - our government takes the issue of the Digby ferry extremely seriously. The meeting we are convening this evening, hopefully, will help to deal with and resolve that issue.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. The people feel that this government and your department may be giving up on western Nova Scotia and this province by allowing this ferry to close and allowing companies such as Shaw Wood and Weymouth Sawmill to close as well. The Digby ferry closure, the closure of Shaw Wood, the Weymouth Sawmill will account for over 400 jobs lost in my area this past year alone. My question is, this government subsidizes many companies in this province, are you still saying you refuse to provide assistance to companies in Digby County?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I can assure that member and all members of the House that the Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, and myself met with a federal minister yesterday at One Government Place on this issue. I can assure the member that we are going to be meeting with Minister Cannon in Ottawa on this issue and we are looking, we are going to be talking to representatives from the communities on both sides of the harbour, to

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make sure there is a resolution - we will find a resolution and we will do what we can to maintain that service. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH: GLADES LODGE - RENOVATIONS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Glades Lodge is a long-term care facility in my constituency, with a licence for 123 beds. It was built in 1962. A study commissioned last year by the Department of Health itself showed that all the mechanical systems in the building are past their useful lives. The list of renovations listed as "must do" is lengthy and expensive. The list of renovations listed as "should do" runs into the millions of dollars and is very long. Yet the Department of Health has shown only a deafening silence in response to repeated requests from the owners for some information, some news about what the Department of Health has in mind for the future of the Glades Lodge.

My question for the minister is, when will the Minister of Health deal with the concerns of residents, their families, the staff and the owners and give some indication of what the Department of Health plan is for the future of the Glades Lodge?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I thank him for the question because it is important. It is an issue that we see right across this province, of aging long-term care facilities. That is why we wanted to have a comprehensive, continuing care strategy and why within the continuing care strategy we talk about home care entitlements and making sure that we keep people in their homes as long as possible, but also looking at the creation of new beds within the system, of course talking about the 826 beds in the first four years and also talking about replacement.

Glade Lodge, of course, as the member opposite so eloquently talked about, does have mechanical problems, does have a building problem as it has been around for such a long time. I would hope that in the near future we will be talking about a replacement for that facility.

MR. STEELE: The time to do something, Mr. Minister, is now.

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

The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: I want to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery. The Mayors and Wardens of Digby and Annapolis Counties are here, as was stated earlier in Question Period, to participate in a meeting tonight to help find a solution to the loss of the Scotia Prince. I would like to introduce them by name: the mayor of the most romantic town

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in Canada, Frank Mackintosh; the mayor of the most livable small town in North America, John Kinsella; the Warden of Digby County, Jim Thurber; the Warden of Annapolis County, Peter Newton and the Mayor of Bridgetown, Ron Gullon. I would ask the House to give them a warm reception. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We indeed would like to welcome our guests in the gallery to the House today.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 21.

Res. No. 21, Educ. - Hfx. Citadel: Sch. Closures - Moratorium - notice given June 30/06 - (Mr. L. Preyra)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, I very much welcome the opportunity to discuss this resolution in this Assembly. It is a very important issue to the voters in Halifax Citadel and in communities all over North America. I understand that 11 schools are destined for closure this year and four in Halifax Citadel that I would like to speak about in particular.

With your indulgence, Mr. Speaker, I would like to read the resolution:

Whereas the community of Halifax Citadel has been well served by our neighbourhood schools; and

Whereas the province has agreed to spend $10 million to construct one large elementary school with over 700 students in the south end of Halifax to replace four existing elementary schools; and

Whereas the move to large, big box schools will be bad for students and bad for the communities that will lose their schools;

Therefore be it resolved that the government will not close four elementary schools in Halifax Citadel, but will implement a two year moratorium on school closures and to take meaningful community consultation and establish a committee to review the role of public schools in the communities.

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Mr. Speaker, last Fall this government, without any consultation and over the objections of the local school board representative, decided to close four neighbourhood schools in Halifax Citadel - St. Mary's School, Inglis Street School, LeMarchant-St. Thomas School and the Beaufort School Annex, and decided to replace those four elementary schools with one big box school of over 700 students between the ages of five and 11 years old. It appears that the Minister of Education has established a policy that makes it easier to destroy elementary schools rather than to build them up and fix them and reuse them.

Mr. Speaker, these schools form the heart of the communities. Many people have moved around these four communities, young families have moved in and businesses and groups have formed around these schools. These schools form the fabric that binds these communities together, and taking away these schools will destroy these communities.

The big box schools will be bad for students and will devastate the community. It's a Wal-Mart approach to elementary schooling. We have lots of studies that show that students in big box schools are less connected to their communities and to their school; they're less fit because they cannot walk or bike, they are usually bused; they have less access to after-school programs; and they face more challenges with violence, drugs and discipline.

Mr. Speaker, the community was surprised to hear that the decision had been made; in fact, when I announced it in the middle of the campaign the Progressive Conservative candidate, who had consulted with the Minister of Education, was surprised. He said if such a policy was adopted he would fight it, and he was surprised to find that in fact the policy was adopted and a decision had already been made - there was no consultation and there was no warning. When we heard about this decision, we called for a moratorium and, in typical government fashion, the minister ridiculed it. He said his hands were tied and then, later on, he went on to adopt it, and later on during the election he claimed that it was his own idea, and he also suspended the review during the campaign when it became difficult for him to support his government's policy.

Mr. Speaker, we called for a moratorium because we want a more inclusive and transparent process and the community needs to participate in this process. We also want to review the criteria for closing schools. Community schools serve a broader purpose, and we should take into consideration the services provided by these schools: the recreational and fitness opportunities, language training, youth drop-in centres, after-school care, job retraining, and the numerous other opportunities that these small schools offer their communities - and we should consider the potential uses of these schools. I talked just recently with seniors at MacKeen Manor and Joe Howe Manor, for example, and they said they don't have any fitness facilities. They would like a place to go and just get together and keep fit, and keep their minds and bodies active.

Artists at the Khyber Arts Society have said that they don't have space to incubate their talents, to display their talents. We need spaces for new and emerging artists. We need child

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care space. Special needs programs have been cut for lack of space. We need programs for at-risk groups. These schools have a number of potential uses and, prior to being closed, we asked the minister to consult with community groups and conduct a broader review of the purposes that these schools serve and the purposes that they can serve.

In short, we are calling for a moratorium to give students and their families, and community groups, a meaningful role in a transparent process. We would also like the government to consult with other departments and agencies and Community Service groups - Health Promotion for example. This issue is far too important to be left to an arbitrary process without any consultation. Families in Halifax Citadel are calling on the minister to impose this moratorium; in fact, there is almost unanimous consent in Halifax Citadel for the government to embark on an open review. The minister announced that he would conduct a review, but did not agree to a moratorium and, presumably, now that the election has passed, the review is underway. The schools have closed for the summer and families have adjourned for the summer, and this review is underway. No one in the community seems to know who's on the committee or what the review is looking at, or even its terms of reference.

So, Mr. Speaker, we're calling on the minister to impose a moratorium on small school closures. We're calling on them to develop a meaningful, inclusive and transparent review process. We're asking for them to conduct a broader review of the criteria under which schools can be closed, and we're asking them to investigate more the potential uses of these schools, especially for Community Services' purposes, before these schools can be closed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Halifax Citadel for giving me a chance to share with him the details regarding school review processes, consultations, and what this government is doing to revitalize school infrastructure across the province. This government is investing more than $400 million over eight years to build new schools and support extensive renovations work. We are making this investment even at a time when student enrolment is declining and, to put it simply, we're building and renovating the schools to provide students with a safer and more healthy learning environment. We are replacing schools that are past their useful lives according to the school boards that manage them and the school communities that use them, and we are renovating schools to extend their useful life where this is more appropriate.

The member may or may not know that before entering public life, I was a school administrator, principal of North River Elementary School and an assistant superintendent of schools. I was also closely involved with the communities in site selection for new schools, facilitator of school steering teams, and that team is the one, through public consultation, that sits in an advisory capacity to plan and design schools. So I'm very aware of the process. There are beautiful new schools and they are much loved by the schools that we serve, and they have been involved in consultations with school communities. The leadership and co-operation

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between and among parents, teachers and school principals has been exceptional in all of those school steering team reviews.

[4:30 p.m.]

The process for choosing capital projects is important to understand, and capital projects are based on priorities that are identified by school boards, not the minister, not the Department of Education, and not the Province of Nova Scotia. The School Capital Construction Committee includes representatives from several government departments and the committee also includes representatives from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association. Only through this level of involvement can the members of the School Capital Construction Committee prioritize projects that have been presented to them and, as a result of that process, we have a solid fiscally responsible long-term plan to fund Education's capital projects.

Quite often the community will identify elements of a project that are good for the community but not necessarily for the delivery of public school programs, and it might be meeting some community activities, such as an enhanced gymnasium or auditorium facilities. In these situations the government works with school communities to make these things happen. They piggyback on the construction work that is underway and they fund raise. This is good for communities. This opportunity has translated into many communities now having their new school as well as enhanced community facilities such as presentation theatres, cafetoriums, libraries and other outdoor recreational facilities. At the end of the day the community has a new recreational facility and all of the costs are far below what it would cost to do a stand-alone facility.

I think it's important to look at the timeline here and, to that point, as part of the School Capital Construction Committee, a process in 2002, the Halifax Regional School Board requested a new school within the riding boundaries of Halifax Citadel. The proposed school is designed to accommodate 700 Primary to Grade 7 students and will replace four aging schools in the region.

Halifax South Elementary School is one of 12 new schools, and those schools were approved in 2003. It is now 2006. At the same time 45 other schools were approved for additions and renovations. The new $10 million school is due to open in September 2009, and at that time the four existing buildings will revert back to the municipality which will then determine how to best utilize them in the interest of the communities. In Resolution No. 21, the honourable member for Halifax Citadel has said that consolidating four older and smaller schools into one larger institution was a move to "big box schools", and he suggested that this is bad move.

Larger schools provide significant opportunities for students, they offer greater diversity, they offer opportunities for sports and academic challenges that might not be feasible

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in a smaller school. At the high school level it's much more cost effective with your critical mass to put in high-grade lab technology services and staffing.

It is not uncommon in small high schools to have a teacher with a science background delivering physics, chemistry, science and perhaps even math or physical education. That critical mass is important at whatever grade level.

The resolution that the minister has put forward requests that the government impose a two-year moratorium, but let me explain. The department and the province do not close schools. School boards identify schools that are not operating at sufficient capacity, that cannot operate efficiently, and recommend them for review and possible permanent closure. School boards do not take the closing of schools lightly. It is a last resort, but sometimes it is a necessary one.

It is intended to ensure that communities are aware of school boards, what school boards are considering for permanent closure, to give them a chance to appear at public meetings to provide time for the board and communities to ponder the opinions that were shared at these public forums, to provide time for the communities to comment on the report and to make a recommendation. That process would have been followed.

When a school closes, it does revert back to the municipality and the building, as I said, could be something of value to the municipal development in that area. Last Spring, my predecessor, the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill and then Education Minister, asked the school boards that were reviewing some school permanent closures to suspend those deliberations. This suspension was for school boards which were already reviewing schools for possible closure, it was not retroactive. He has put into place a two-member committee that would meet with school board members and their staff and with school communities to determine if Education Act regulations related to school closures need to be reviewed.

The review is being conducted by credible people - Norma Kennedy, the former chairman of Halifax County- Bedford District School Board and the Halifax Regional School Board, and Mike McDougall, former principal of Judique-Creignish Consolidated School. It will focus on the steps outlined in the Education Act and the regulations for school review studies. The team will also consider how alternate uses of schools might be factored in. With the calling of the June 13th provincial election, the review was postponed until Fall, and it will resume in the Fall, and I'm expecting that there will be a report tabled early in 2007.

Regardless of the recommendation from that committee, whether it's recommending status quo, or changes to the legislation, the impact will be the same - no public schools will close in this province, with the notable exception of one in Cape Breton that has been closed because of safety reasons, before June 2008. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

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MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am certainly pleased to rise today and speak on Resolution No. 21. This resolution is very specific pertaining to Halifax Citadel and the closure of four small elementary schools and, of course, to build one 700-person school at a cost of $10 million. Certainly there are many concerns that can be raised around the size of this particular school and the closure of four community-based, and that is inner-city communities that do have a culture, a tradition and a practice in close association with the schools of those areas.

I do want to go beyond those bounds a little bit and talk about small schools, rural schools, in general, in the province. I think the time has come to put our children and the education of our children in a stronger position here in the province. We have been seeing school closures right across the province in the past seven or eight years, I think, and in particular, the past three years.

As Education Critic, I have noted a number of schools from Sydney to Yarmouth, from Bridgewater to Amherst that have been closed. On some of those occasions, it was a matter of almost looking for reasons to close them as opposed to what is the raison d'être, what are the strong reasons why we should continue to hold on to those small community schools.

In some other provinces - I do want to draw our attention here to what has happened in a few of the other provinces that perhaps can give us a little bit of guidance and shed a bit of light on this particular topic. For example, in Quebec, in January 2003, a report from the working group on maintaining village and small schools was presented to the Quebec Provincial Government and the working group was co-chaired by the president of the Federation of School Boards and the president of Rural Solidarity of Quebec.

The provincial government responded to the report by introducing a policy to save village schools, to save, for example, what in our case here, would be rural schools and in this case, in particular, pertaining to Halifax Citadel, would be small, inner-city schools; declaring that, having a school is a strong symbol for the development and vitality of rural communities, small communities and inner-city communities.

Also, the government developed a program that included additional funding to ensure that small schools were able to hire well-qualified teachers and to ensure the buildings were maintained. So, Quebec went the other way. They found reasons to continue to support the small school and then went about putting in place a policy and a program whereby there was sufficient funding and support services were put in place.

As well, school boards were to put in place policies requiring public consultation on school closures and requiring consultation between school districts and municipalities when a school is considered for closure with the intention of maintaining schools in single school communities.

[Page 207]

In Newfoundland and Labrador - and I like this whole concept and the whole philosophy that emanates from just three simple words or a phrase that they use. They recognize the critical role of small schools, rural schools and they put in place a designation for "small but necessary" schools. In this case here in Halifax Citadel, we may have four inner-city communities and, in fact, the small school may add to the total vibrancy of that community; in fact, perhaps even be a spark for renewal. So, I think that's the case that is being made here.

Just this afternoon I decided to make a quick call to a friend who has done a lot of consulting work for the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board. He constantly reads research. His name is Barry Corbin and he says that now in many of the jurisdictions across the United States, they have a policy whereby they will not build a school to house more than 400 elementary students. There is all kinds of research that could be brought in here to provide strong documentation for that.

Continuing with the theme, Saskatchewan, the province provides a grant to promote small schools which include an enrollment factor and a location factor for funding purposes. Again, that's making a case for the rural school.

Recently, in British Columbia, the ministry in 2002 set up a task force to look at small schools and rural schools in particular. The task force came back with that wonderful statement that we've heard from many parents, many people who have a strong investment in school life, and they said the public schools are the heart of the community. In this case here, if we have four schools with four inner communities within Citadel, then that, surely, is a real strength. Again, they came up with a perspective that the rural school in particular represents more than a place for the children to be educated. In many ways it also represents the right to preserve a rural culture and a viable economic development. So I think here in the Province of Nova Scotia this is a great opportunity, through this review committee, to, I think, set in progress a whole new approach to why we need small schools within our cities, within our small towns and, in particular, in rural Nova Scotia. I think it is an opportunity to breathe some new life, whether it becomes, again, a community centre for many of our communities and I think that is the kind of thinking we need to approach here.

Just before the election, the Liberal caucus was certainly in favour of a moratorium on school closures and I think in this case here in Halifax I don't think the consultation process has been as wide and as intense as is necessary to come up with what is the best future for these four elementary schools and the final decision on what should be done with these schools.

In March 2006, the former Minister of Education asked for a review of legislation covering the process for considering school closures in Nova Scotia. We firmly believe that this review must seek advice from school board members, administrators and the public, to find the best possible solution. As the new Minister of Education has outlined, this task force is now in place and I think the widest consultation process must certainly be there.

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We also called for the implementation of the Hogg report which was funded by the Government of Nova Scotia and completed almost two years ago, and the formula for all schools can provide a solution to school closures, as well as many other issues within the school system. Once again, the driving force behind the Hogg report was that we would not be treating every district, every school board and every area in a cookie cutter fashion, that we would account for the unique cultural elements that are at play in all our communities. If the Hogg report is truly to be implemented, it should not take longer than three years and, again, I think this is another avenue now that we have at our disposal in the province to review the appropriate size of schools and what schools should and should not be closed.

In closing, I want to say that while we have summer recess going on in the province, there should be no recess and no summer break from finding the best solutions for our education system, as the learning capabilities of our children should be of the highest priority for the House of Assembly. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea - Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Deputy Speaker, and welcome to the Chair and congratulations on your selection. I would like to take a few moments of the time of the House this afternoon to review this very important issue of small school closures, small schools, an important fact that the minister seems to have passed by.

In the way of compliments, I would like to begin by complimenting my new colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel, for bringing forward this important issue where neighbourhood schools, particularly in your community, the parents feel they have not been part of the loop. That is a key element in this. On the topic of compliments, I think we should look at the fact that we had a minister previously who took the initiative in the middle of the shambles that we were facing around this province. Whether it was in Wentworth, or River Hebert, whether it was in Morien, or whether it was in Clark's Harbour, whether it was in Shatford Memorial, he interceded and said there's going to be a stop to this, I'm going to have the whole process reviewed, because that minister knew, based upon the advice that he was receiving, that the process was flawed. I'm looking forward to the committee when it reports back. I'm sure, knowing Mrs. Kennedy personally and her years on the school board, there will be an extensive report on the process of how schools should be closed, if they indeed need to be closed across this province.

I want to pass on a compliment to the MLA for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, the Minister of Agriculture. Many times in this House, that member has stood in his place, probably a lot more passionately when he was on this side than when he sits now over there, but the MLA for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I want you to know that he stood in Upper Musquodoboit Consolidated School. He stood in Upper Musquodoboit

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Consolidated School, surrounded by parents, and he clearly made the case that that small elementary school should remain open. His input that night, and the fact that he had his say as an MLA, was important. He wasn't grandstanding, although he does that on occasion in here once in awhile, in fact I've taken a few lessons from him over the years. He was making his point on behalf of his community. He was listened to, and it was important that he said at that time some of the information that was forthcoming there was just not correct.

Also at that meeting I had the opportunity to see the Reverend Gary Burrill in operation. Reverend Burrill, of course, who has a very prominent volunteer role in the community, showed great initiative in collecting the correct information to pass on to the school board. Reverend Burrill, in fact, must have had a conversation with my Leader that evening because later on, within the next number of months, he decided to make the wise choice of offering for the NDP, and he did exceptionally well. So I want to thank Gary Burrill for showing his initiative. (Applause)

But away from the compliments, if I may, because the process that I've endured when it comes to small school closures is flawed. I can give you a number of examples in that case. I want to turn particularly to the community of Hubbards, Shatford Memorial, an older school that's crucial to that wonderful community on the South Shore of Nova Scotia. When the HRSB, the Halifax Regional School Board, collected their information and were going to make their decision based upon what they had collected, much of that information was just incorrect, particularly not just the enrolment statistics, Mr. Speaker, but those other numbers - economic development, new businesses moving into the community.

That's the flawed part of the argument when it comes to the school boards. They look strictly at enrolment statistics. They look strictly at how many young children are coming along. They don't look at other things that are happening in the community and I think one of the best examples of that was in Upper Musquodoboit. When the school board members all were there at the front, a particular man stood in his place and informed them that he was interested and looks forward to opening a gold mine in that community, a real gold mine. That, after all, is a wonderful initiative of economic development in rural Nova Scotia and the school board members said what gold mine? Now, here they are, they've done their research, but the research has to be delivered by people such as Reverend Burrill. It has to be delivered by volunteers in the community.

A better example that I can give to the House is that when we visited the riding of Glace Bay and had the opportunity to go out to Morien, a beautiful seaside community, and see their school, the information that that school board collected was flawed again. In fact, a mother took the initiative to knock on every door, proving to the board that they had the wrong number of potential Primary students who would be coming to the school. That mother took her own time and went door to door in the community and got the correct information, and then took it to the public meeting and pointed out to the board, you don't have your facts right. Again, that board said, oh, we've made a mistake, this is a school that should continue to remain open.

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I heard the minister stand in her place earlier and read from a prepared text, as she's supposed to do in this place. I want to point out to her this very simple theory, big ain't better when it comes to schools. Excuse my grammar but I'm going to put it that way, Mr. Speaker - big ain't better.

Now every once a year we are subjected to this AIMS report, this fabulous AIMS report. Mr. Cirtwill will get himself all kinds of cheap publicity when he goes around and rates the high schools in this province. I want to point out that the top high school he always rates is one of the smallest high schools in the province. The argument that the minister brought forward before when she spoke from her prepared statement saying that that teacher has to teach multiple disciplines and that he or she can be the physical education teacher and the physics teacher and the chemistry teacher, well, a teacher is a teacher and in many of those small schools the children are receiving a wonderful education.

In that particular school, big is not necessarily better, that's important for all of us to continue to maintain, that's at the high school level .But I want to point out to the minister and to the members opposite and to the members present, let's look at elementary schools and I could give you two prominent examples. In Timberlea-Prospect we have an elementary school, Primary to Grade 5, Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea school. They have over 800 students that attend BLT Elementary and I want you to know that when you go into that school at the first of the day, it's a bus-stop-glorified-traffic director's problem.

I've seen the principal out there some mornings along with parent volunteers making sure that the kids are dropped off in the right place and the school buses can move out at the right time. Because of the growth in the community, the decision was made that the elementary school would be built next to the junior high school and now the junior high school and the elementary school are called Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Elementary School, 800 students. The challenges that the principals, the vice-principals and the teachers have in that school continue to be faced each and every day. I've talked to many of them personally and many of them wish that they were in a smaller school, not that there's a quality of education problem there but you face a whole new set of challenges at BLT Elementary.

BLT Elementary was also the school of Paula Gallant, whose tragic death and murder is still not solved. I've been in Paula's Grade 3 class and let me tell you, there was something magical that happened there. The magic that happens between a small school or a big school still comes down to what the teacher and the students are doing. I can go from 800 students in an elementary school to a small school, again a Primary to Grade 5, in the rural community of Terence Bay. In fact, members opposite have heard me speak of Terence Bay many times. I go to their school on every occasion possible. It's not hard to forget their names because most of them are Slaunwhites of course, there might be a Harry or two in there. That family of schools and that family of feeling that happens in Terence Bay Elementary happens because of the size of the school - 65, 67 students in that school.

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Terence Bay Elementary School is more than just a school, it's a place where the seniors drop in, seniors come into that school to assist teachers. They come in at various times during the year for not just social events but to speak to the students. It's a special school because of its size. It's also a special school because that school is the meeting place in that community, that's something crucial we all have to remember. You close a small school, you're not just closing the school, you're closing the community's heart and the centre of it socially, and in some cases athletically and of course surely scholastically.

The best example that can be brought to mind aside from Terence Bay is in the beautiful community of Clark's Harbour. I had the opportunity to visit Clark's Harbour along with my friend from Cape Breton Centre, at which time we met with parents and they were facing again the closure of a small school. Clark's Harbour as you all know is a wonderful, unique community. They have a sense of community in Clark's Harbour and it revolves around not just their ballfield and their famous ball players who come out of that great community, but it revolves around their school. Yes the church is an important part of the community, yes the fire hall is an important part of the community, but the school is where it happens, the school in Clark's Harbour, the school in Terence Bay, the school in Wentworth, all of those schools are more than just buildings.

We are tampering with the very fabric of small towns, small villages and hamlets by removing their schools from them. Putting students on school buses and travelling down the road for so many kilometres does not assure them a better education, particularly at the elementary-age level.

Now I will admit that in high school, it is necessary, in some cases, growth areas such as those I represent in Timberlea-Prospect, the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, we are going to celebrate the opening of the new Sir John A. Macdonald High School, and students will be bused a long distance to come to this new high school, which is well received in our community, but they are high school students. They are high school students, they're not elementary students, who are going to travel great distances.

So I want to point out the most eventful thing of closing the school was when we were in Upper Musquodoboit, in fact we were in Upper Musquodoboit early, and I don't know why our MLA for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley wasn't aware of it, because he's at every event, of course, but he didn't take the magical bus tour that they put us on. They put us on the magical bus tour of the back roads of that community, and then pointed out how far we would have to go when Upper Musquodoboit Consolidated School was closed.

The acting chairman - I believe that was her title at the time - of the Halifax Regional School Board, she was so, how shall I say this, physically upset with not just the distance and the turning of the buses, and of course the poor conditions of the road, she became physically ill. She became physically ill when she stepped off the bus. She did have something else to emit and it wasn't something that I wanted to clean up. There was an example, Mr. Speaker, of when

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it comes to an elementary school, an elementary school putting those little children on those distances, it's just an unacceptable way to handle the issue.

I want, finally, to remind the Minister of Education that perhaps it would be appropriate for her to talk to some of her Cabinet members, some of the various other members of the Cabinet, because I think it would be appropriate for her to know the thoughts of the member who is the Minister of Justice, for her to know what other members in Cumberland County think of the possibility of closing the Wentworth Consolidated Elementary School, closing the River Hebert Elementary School, all very controversial decisions. The cookie cutter does not work here. One size does not fit all. When it comes to small schools, small elementary schools, they must remain open across this province at all costs. Thank you.

[5:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, congratulations to you. You've served this House in a capacity as Speaker and Deputy Speaker in the past, and I know you will preside over this whole establishment with a lot of class and dignity. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I want to, as well, thank the honourable member for Halifax Citadel for bringing this resolution forward this afternoon. This is a very important subject. It's near and dear to the hearts of many, many Nova Scotians. While the province, without question, is reviewing the school review process that's contained in the Education Act, I want to point out that the government is doing that to ensure that it continues to meet the needs of our community, the department and the school boards. I think the key here is the community and the community needs.

I want to commend the former Minister of Education, the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill, because through his leadership and direction, this government took a very important step. It did listen, it listened to all members in this Chamber, but especially, I do believe, the honourable member for Cumberland South and other members in our caucus, put forward some very compelling reasons why the whole school review process must be reviewed. It's legislation; it's in the Education Act. It's easy to stand here, if you will, from a riding that's out in rural Nova Scotia, and look at things, perhaps in a context that may be, from an urban perspective, a little bit narrow, and be perceived that way.

It doesn't matter where you live, the school can be, and, in many cases is, the heart of the community, but in rural Nova Scotia we don't necessarily have the same amenities, if you will, Mr. Speaker - as you know, representing Clare - that some of the more urbanized ridings have. Just the same, we have to point out that the urban areas have some concerns that may be very, very important to them that we perhaps don't have a full comprehension of.

[Page 213]

So I do commend the member for bringing the resolution forward, but, in the same context, and in fact every bit as important, I think the honourable member and members of the NDP caucus should recognize the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill, as through his leadership, the step was taken to conduct a school review process. It was an important step and I want to commend my colleague from Truro-Bible Hill.

I had an invitation from the honourable colleague for Cumberland South to attend a meeting in River Hebert. The people in River Hebert are very, very passionate about their school; to the person, they are behind that school remaining open. We all know that because of our demographic, enrolments are declining. It's very difficult, it's a challenge, but the folks in that community have spoken loud and clear and the honourable member for Cumberland South has worked very, very hard.

During that meeting I was struck by something that a member of the Chignecto- Central Regional School Board said and that was, to paraphrase, that the professionals are telling us that the students would be better served in a larger school. I think generally we recognize that there are so-called benefits and, as well, there may be some drawbacks from moving to a bigger school. But a member of the teaching fraternity there raised a concern about just who the professionals are - it's not the professionals at the River Hebert School, it wasn't the professionals at the Upper Musquodoboit Consolidated Elementary School. The teachers will tell you that in the small settings, in the small schools - and I have a number of educators in this caucus and there's a number of educators in every caucus - and with my very informal discussions with members on all sides of the House, I think we value and believe that there are benefits in some of the bigger schools. But, just the same there are benefits that may outweigh those perceived benefits in the little schools.

So, it's something that was needed, it's something my government has taken a very bold step in and it's something we all should support. If we do have concerns and issues, we have a consultation process that is a key element to this whole school review process. Again, I think we have some opportunities.

As well, I want to point out that the Premier of this province knows full well how valuable schools are to any community in Nova Scotia - again, a bold step by the former Minister of Education and a bold step by the Premier in this government about this. There will be times when we have votes, there will be times when we don't have votes. This is going to be one of the times we're not going to have a vote, I'm very sorry to tell the honourable member, because the process has been opened up.

Again, it's through the leadership of this side of the House, you know. It was a bold step, it was a very important step this government made. (Applause) I think we all see eye to eye on that. There's no need to go out and recreate the wheel here. The current minister and the former minister are very, very supportive of reviewing the school review process contained in the Education Act.

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The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has been around this Legislature for quite some time and the honourable member and I, outside of politics, have engaged in some extracurricular activity and for the most part, I will say that we usually- what kind of extracurricular activity? Well, let me say that during the conclusion of one hockey tournament, a very close game, the honourable member was kind enough to come over holding what appeared to be a tray with a refreshment on it. He brought the refreshment into my team's dressing room and not only did he leave the refreshment, he left the tray. The tray was not as popular as the refreshment. The tray happened to be one of the honourable member's lawn election signs. I still have that in a not so very prominent place in my house. I'll tell the honourable members later where it is, but it's still in a place that is quite obscure, but nonetheless members of the Taylor household and some close friends are very aware of that sign and where it is. But just the same, I want to thank the honourable member for going to Upper Musquodoboit that evening and helping us and helping Reverend Gary Burrill who, incidentally, as the honourable member acknowledged earlier, was the NDP candidate in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley during the last election. I want to commend the Reverend for running a very dignified campaign.

I was very pleased that we had an opportunity to once again win the riding, and I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and to thank all members.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for debate on Resolution No. 21 has now expired. (Applause)

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 23.

Res. No. 23, Fish. - Soft-Shelled Lobster Issue: Comm. - Strike - notice given June 30/06 - (Mr. S. Belliveau)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, first I would like to refresh the members of the House with Resolution No. 23 and I will read:

Whereas the lobster industry is the backbone of the fishing industry and the main economic engine that drives the economy in many of our coastal communities in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas landings of lobsters are valued at over $300 million and account for almost half of the value of fish landed in Nova Scotia; and

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Whereas issues surrounding the marketing of soft-shelled lobsters requires government leadership and immediate industry consultation;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries immediately strike a committee to meet with stakeholders in southwestern Nova Scotia to discuss the soft-shelled lobster issue and come up with meaningful recommendations for the industry before the next lobster season is upon us.

Mr. Speaker, I want to echo again the privilege and honour to take my place in this seat in this House. I thank you again and, first of all, I would like to point out to all the members of this House that there are a number of likenesses or similarities between lobsters and politicians. First, both need to have a tough skin or a shell and at times both can feel trapped if they do not go in the right direction and, more important, if they are not careful, both politicians and lobsters can find themselves in hot water.

Mr. Speaker, the need for consultation to address this issue surrounding soft-shelled lobsters is very important. I might suggest that the opening of the District 33 and District 34 lobster seasons on the last Monday in each November is a great sight to see. The large processors in southwestern Nova Scotia talk about their humble beginnings from a simple wheelbarrow in the saltfish business. The largest lobster processors in Nova Scotia tell of their humble beginning from the sales from the back of a half-ton truck.

My grandfather fished and navigated the waters off Nova Scotia from Cape Breton to the U.S. marine or Maine border with nothing more than a compass, a watch and a sounding lead. Mr. Speaker, yesterday I was corrected for using a prop but I am going to ask you to use your imagination because there is nothing more powerful than your imagination. I simply can't see or imagine that this industry is going to be lost or be in jeopardy simply because we do not take action. My grandfather travelled this coast with nothing more than a simple lid. I ask you to use your imagination and put the lid overboard. The simple depth of that water was indicated, knowing how close they were to certain shoals. By simply putting grease in a cavity in that lid they realized that the bottom was either gravel, sandy, muddy or rocky. That simple beginning of the Nova Scotia lobster fishery industry is known to all residents across Nova Scotia and in many coastal communities. This particular product is known world-wide. Today the fishing industry has evolved from the Cape Sable Island boat made of wood to fibreglass, their hydraulics, powerful engines and high tech GPS global plotters. Many vessels have as good communications and technology, if not more equipment, than some of the 747s that are flying over our heads as we speak.

One of my fishing friends could put an anchor, a string of long line gear, or a lobster trap in this harbour if you mark the spot - and they can do this with blind visibility, in zero visibility, you can literally board the windows up of their cabins and tomorrow morning if you mark the x, given enough time, they can put that particular gear in that spot. This is how far this industry has evolved in a few hundred years.

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However, the market strategy has not evolved along with this particular lobster industry. Each year in southwestern Nova Scotia, we export millions of dollars worth of this product to other provinces. The lobster fleet is very capable of landing high volumes of lobster in days or even 72 hours. Our lobster fleet fishes farther afield, our climate is changing, and some of these lobsters molt at a different time in our seasons. I've been instructed to inform you, Mr. Speaker, that the fishermen on the Maine coast have indicated the molt this particular season is earlier, which indications show we will have a strong, healthier lobster in the upcoming November fishery.

I just want to point out that this molting process goes on each year. If you look at our climate, you can suggest there is some changes here. We look at our polar ice cap, we look at the polar bears and their loss of habitat and this is all taking place in our environment. One suggestion is this may be an environmental issue of dealing with lobsters that are molting closer to the beginning of the season. I strongly suggest to the members they may want to pay attention to this particular point because this is something that needs to be addressed in consultation with our fishing industry.

[5:15 p.m.]

The fishing industry has built a good number of lobster holding facilities across this province. Many can be found in southwestern Nova Scotia; Shelburne County is the home of most of these facilities. This fishing industry is the lifeline of our community.

The lobster industry employs thousands of Nova Scotians each year. Fishermen, crew members have to make a profit. Dealers, lobster buyers have to make a profit. Large processors, they also need to make a profit. The consumer demands a quality product at a reasonable price.

The Nova Scotia Government needs to take a pro-active approach to address some of the concerns around marketing of soft-shell lobsters. The industry wants to sit down, come up with recommendations to have in place for the upcoming Fall lobster season. The Nova Scotia Government should facilitate and hold such meetings in southwestern Nova Scotia.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, the lobster industry is the major export of the Nova Scotian economy. Our coastal communities want this issue addressed. Let's show the public that there is a difference between a politician and a lobster, because surely this government will choose the right direction and not find themselves in hot water.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture.

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to congratulate you on your appointment as Deputy Speaker. As my colleague from Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said, you've been the Deputy Speaker and Speaker, so congratulations on that appointment.

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Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for Shelburne for bringing this concern to the floor of the Legislature for debate tonight. I know the member has a very keen interest in the issue of soft-shelled lobster, not only as the Fisheries Critic but as a resident of one of the most lucrative lobster areas, southwestern Nova Scotia. I also understand that the member, in a previous life, was a lobster fisherman, and maybe he still is.

Mr. Speaker, the lobster industry in Nova Scotia is a major contributor to the provincial economy and the largest component of Nova Scotia's seafood exports, totalling over $1 billion annually. Nova Scotia lobster is known internationally for its great taste. We have successfully reached many markets around the world because of that quality. In 2005, the Nova Scotia lobster industry landed $338 million worth of lobster in the province. The southwestern area of the province is known as the lobster capital because a large majority of landings come from that area, but I would have to say, after this year's season on the Eastern Shore, we're running a close second.

No question, the seafood industry and the lobster industry are the lifeblood of the economy of southwestern Nova Scotia. As we know, Mr. Speaker, thousands of people are employed directly and indirectly by the lobster industry. We also know the vast majority of lobster caught in Nova Scotia is very high quality. The current fishery has been structured, in part, to avoid landing lobster during the molting period. This allows lobsters to fully recover from the molt before the fishery opens in the Fall.

We are also aware of the concerns over the past few years regarding lobster quality. These concerns are due to periodic increases in the landings of soft-shelled lobster in some areas. Although healthy, these lobsters contain less meat and in many cases are not suitable for shipping. There are, however, places in the market for these lobsters, such as processed lobster products. Proper grading and handling of lobsters are ways the industry is mitigating this problem when it occurs.

Current thinking attributes periodic increases of soft-shelled landings to changes in molt timing, probably due to environmental factors. A delay in this natural process results in a small portion of lobster population to not be fully recovered from the molt and full of meat in time for the fishing season. Other theories to explain this problem have also been discussed. While the government takes this issue seriously, I want to emphasize that the Nova Scotia lobster industry has a solid reputation and provides top-quality lobster to the domestic and international marketplace.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture has been engaged in addressing this issue for several years. We are working with the industry, we are working with DFO, we are working with other stakeholders to better understand the nature and the extent of the problem in order to develop appropriate solutions. As part of these efforts, Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture has made financial contributions to the joint industry-government

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molt monitoring program. For example, $10,000 was provided in 2004; $58,000 in 2005; and again this Spring, in 2006, there was $20,000.

In addition, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Fisheries and Aquaculture's budget, which is under review, has allocated $50,000 to province-wide lobster research initiatives. As well, Fisheries and Aquaculture will participate in research efforts again in 2006, and has set aside a budget allocation for long-term partnerships with these groups. In addition to financial contributions, staff are active participants in several committees that are already in place. These include the Lobster Advisory Committee, the Lobster Sciences Committee, and the LFA 33/34 Lobster Action Committee. Other participants include fishermen, buyers, processors, DFO managers and scientists, the Atlantic Veterinarian College, the Lobster Science Centre, fishermen and the Science Research Centre.

I want to assure the honourable member that all stakeholders are fully committed to addressing this issue and ensuring that the Nova Scotia lobster industry continues to enjoy its reputation for a top quality product. (Applause)

As well, Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Government is also committed to using its resources to address any marketing solutions that may be identified. I want the member to know that the government remains committed and open to working with industry to explore strategies to resolve the concerns around this issue. Because there are a number of partnerships already in place at several levels, there is no need at this time for a new committee. The government will continue to work with the stakeholders in South West Nova, as well as with all the stakeholders in the Province of Nova Scotia. I want to thank the member for bringing this resolution forward and giving me the opportunity to discuss this very important issue. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Before I start, I would like to draw your attention to the west gallery. A friend of mine and a man who is very knowledgeable of the fishing industry, who is the head of the Nova Scotia Fishpackers Association, Mr. Denny Morrow. I would like the House to give him a warm welcome. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and participate in the debate on Resolution No. 23. It reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Fisheries immediately strike a committee to meet with stakeholders in Southwest Nova to discuss the soft-shelled lobster issue and come up with meaningful recommendations for the industry before the next lobster fishing season is upon us."

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Mr. Speaker, without a doubt a healthy, world-class, first-class lobster industry in Nova Scotia is vital to this whole province. The industry is the mainstay of many of our coastal communities and we must do all we can to keep it that way. Each year $300 million to $400 million worth of lobsters are landed by about 3400 lobster licence holders in this province, mostly in southwestern and western Nova Scotia. We are very fortunate to have a diversified fishery in our province, but lobster is by far the most valuable sector that we have. While Nova Scotia lobsters are sold world-wide, the United States is our most important customer. Access to this market must be protected. The economies of a vast area of Nova Scotia depend on a healthy lobster fishery and a healthy market.

Mr. Speaker, earlier this year the former Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture wrote a letter to the editor expressing concern about illegal lobsters being sold in this province. While there is no question that this is important, the issue we are debating is equally important. It is an issue which impacts our province's reputation as a world-class leader when it comes to the export of lobsters around this world. It is an issue that requires addressing, it is an issue that requires leadership to get started. I believe it is incumbent upon the Minister of Fisheries and Agriculture to show some leadership and to provide some direction on this issue, before it is too late to correct it at all.

Mr. Speaker, shedders, or soft-shelled lobsters, have always been one sector of the lobster market in the United States. It is nothing new to them. Shedders or soft-shelled lobsters have been in that market for many years but they are always separated from the hard-shelled lobsters. Over the past four years, the landing rate of shedders has increased in Nova Scotia waters, even during the winter months, which is very, very unusual. The challenge, however, is quality for our greatest markets. The Canadian lobster is known globally as having top-quality, hard-shelled lobsters, not soft-shelled mixed with them.

Mr. Speaker, this reputation is in jeopardy. However, it is in jeopardy because the lobster buyers sell a mix of both hard-shelled and soft-shelled lobsters and not to all their blame. Something needs to be done to correct this.

Mr. Speaker, there are essentially three approaches a committee could look at. They could first review the role of the lobster buyer processor on how they handle this lobster. Soft-shelled lobsters and hard shell lobsters could be separated at a buying station, not letting the soft-shelled lobster to get into the hard shell lobster market. This would still allow the soft-shelled lobster to be sold in the traditional United States market without jeopardizing our world-class reputation for our hard shell lobster.

Mr. Speaker, fishermen could separate the soft-shelled lobster and the hard shell lobster to the point of catch. This recommendation may sound simple, but it's not because winter weather conditions make this task aboard a boat very difficult. Fishermen could return the shedders to the water, not including these lobsters as part of their landed catch. This would happen if lobster buyers refused to purchase shedders in the first place. It would appear that

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fishermen, buyers and processors need to play the largest role in this solution. They must be part of the solution or they will continue to be part of the problem.

Mr. Speaker, leadership on the part of this minister and this government is needed. The minister must play a leadership role, educating fish buyers, lobster shippers, fishermen, and the general public. It is obvious that this problem cannot be allowed to continue. Our treasured world-class reputation is at risk so the minister must act and act now. The lobster industry is far too important for us to allow it to be jeopardized by those who are careless with their actions. We must all work together to protect the number one fishery in the Province of Nova Scotia. The times and the climate in our ocean are changing. If we don't work to change with it, we may be very sorry for that in the not too distant future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to congratulate the Speaker on sitting in the Chair. Je me remercie en français aussi d'avoir un président-adjoint qui peut faire des débats en français que je pense que moi, le député de Richmond et quelques d'autres pourrait faire des débats en français sans faire du traduction.

[5:30 p.m.]

Again, I will do some translating here to thank and welcome the [Deputy] Speaker, that we might be able to do some debates in French with the member for Richmond and other members in the House not having to actually translate on the fly, because sometimes it takes a fair amount of time. Donc, bienvenue et j'espère le mieux qui va se passé là.

I want to also welcome the new member for Shelburne joining us in the House. The member and I have been acquaintances for quite some time and, quite honestly, not so long ago he was one of my bosses, so it's quite interesting to see how life changes and how friends come back in different ways. I do want to commend him for his commitment to the fishery, because the member opposite has spoken on a number of occasions in his capacity as Warden for the Municipality of Barrington, as member of the South Shore RDA, and other organizations that the member did sit on in his previous life. I do welcome him to this House and thank him for bringing these issues forward.

Also being a neighbouring riding, Argyle and Shelburne share a common ground and a common area of Charlesville, the line's right there and I have to say that I think I have two of his siblings living in my riding - his sister who lives in East Pubnico and his brother, Chum, lives over on the west side. I'm very happy to have part of his family in my riding. I don't know if they voted for me, but I'm kind of hoping - it's hard to say.

AN HON. MEMBER: You know what the [Deputy] Speaker said? He said if he lived in Argyle he would have voted for you.

[Page 221]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: There you go, I'm glad to hear the Speaker with that kind of ringing endorsement. Unfortunately, that's not our discussion for this evening. It would be a very interesting discussion though, I think, if we went down that road, but I will endeavour to stay on track to the issue at hand which is the soft-shelled lobster issue in southwest. The in-lobster fishery is by far a booming industry in southwest, the number one industry and I wonder at times and we've had long discussions at times, what would southwestern Nova Scotia look like without lobster? What would the folks be doing? Would the folks still be there? I have to say that they wouldn't. It has been a tremendous economic driver and a tremendous opportunity for thousands of people for a very long time.

The member opposite talked about his heritage and his connection to the fishery. I do want to also mention that Belliveau is another Acadian name, so it's no good to have another Acadian in the House so we'll teach him some French. I know he's got some scratchy French but it would probably be better for another establishment other than the floor of this House. My grandfather too was a fishermen who fished swordfish and other species from the end of Georges Bank to the Grand Banks for a very long time until he passed away at an early age of 48-some 50-odd years ago. A tremendous grandfather and I wish I would have had the opportunity to meet him and understand his passion for the sea. Ultimately in those days they didn't have GPS and they sure as heck didn't have radar, they were true fishermen, true master mariners. Not to say that today's fishermen aren't but they are of a different breed and the technologies that they have allow them to do the fishery somewhat differently and somewhat more dramatically.

Knocking on doors over the last number of months gave us an opportunity to talk to fishermen, talk to fishing families and to communities that are so dependent on this fishery. Whether you're in Lower East Pubnico, Wedgeport or Lower West Pubnico, talking about the fishery you hear different solutions or different reasons why the fishery is not doing so well or why we're seeing the advent of soft-shelled lobsters. I think we still have the fishery well in hand with the community involvement, with the folks who dedicate an awful lot of time discussing these issues and coming up with solutions. I want to thank Denny for being here, he will be discussing other fishery issues and I'm glad he's here in the House to participate in this debate. I want to thank him and all of the fish packer associations for their constant eye on the fishery and their constant information flow to government making sure that we understand what's happening on the ground.

I want to thank people like Ashton Spinney from the District 34 Advisory Committee, LFA, people like Craig Prouty, and I just talk about people on the wharf like Jeff Edgar and people like that who continually call me and bring their concerns to us to say here's what we're seeing. The product itself, lobster, is a leading seafood product across the world - Nova Scotia lobster is number one by far. The concerns over the last number of years can be tracked to a number of factors, some of it as outlined by the member, climatic change, warmer waters and different molting times do cause lobsters to molt late and of course have soft shells.

[Page 222]

I also think it really has to do with the concentration of the fishery and where the concentration is happening. If you look 10 years ago or 15 years ago at the concentration of the fishery and where it was, there were a lot of inshore boats in Lobster Bay a little to the eastward where the honourable member fished for many years. As the new fishery came in, the new fishermen were buying rigs and moving further to the westward going further offshore, some things that we hadn't seen in the past. I think with that effort we've seen more soft-shelled lobsters and bigger lobsters. That's another issue of whether or not we should be leaving the large lobsters, the jumbos in the water or not. I have a whole bunch of different responses from different fishermen if you ask them that question.

Ultimately, as you look at the effort, you are also looking at the money invested in this fishery. If you look at a new fisherman, the new fisherman would probably be out somewhere close to $1 million to buy that rig, that licence, the equipment, in order to go fishing. What they're finding is that as they enter this fishery, the inshore is pretty much taken up by the established fishermen, that's where they are fishing, so they have to go west.

It's a funny thing where we talk about going west and going out West to work in Calgary and things like that, but ultimately our new fishermen, for those who are lucky enough to get into this fishery, find themselves going westward to catch their lobsters. The quantities have been okay in that area, but the quality of the product has basically given us a bit of a black eye as those products make it to market. I think that we, as a government, understand that and have brought this issue, on numerous occasions, to our federal partners and to our community, because ultimately this issue can only be solved by a long-lasting partnership between industry and levels of government and between communities. Everyone has to buy in; everybody has to understand what this resource is doing.

I think that the commitment here from this government has been understanding the importance of the fishery and why I am very happy to have a colleague sitting in this House, around a Cabinet Table, whose responsibility is, again, Fisheries and Aquaculture. I am very happy that the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour has been lucky enough to fill that post and I'm sure we will be working very hard with Minister Hearn and all people to make sure the lobster fishery is supported and protected, and making sure it is there for the long term for all communities in southwestern Nova Scotia.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would say that the concerns we have in Districts 33 and 34 are ones that are very serious, ones that probably don't have very simple solutions, yet I think you have all the parties on board to make sure we are there to protect it.

I would also ask the member opposite, does it mean having a big measure? Does it mean leaving some of these lobsters in? Does it mean closing certain areas where we are seeing a proliferation of the soft-shelled lobsters? There are a lot of things that a lot of people have to deal with in order to bring those suggestions to governments. I think we have a wonderful

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industry - it is very vibrant, it is full of people whom I have tremendous respect for, and I think they have it in their best interests, too, to protect the fishery as it stands.

When all the big boats tie up to the wharf - my dad is a scallop fisherman and when he ties up his boat because it's getting too messy out there, it's getting too cold out there, that's when our lobster fishermen in southwestern Nova Scotia go out fishing. I give them tremendous kudos for working so hard to protect their families, to provide for them. I have to say that this government and this House is on their side to ensure we are going to protect and make sure of the continuation of our families in southwestern Nova Scotia.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would thank the member opposite for bringing this issue to the House of Assembly, to this Legislature, because ultimately this is the place where such important things are discussed. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the first thing that I would like to do is commend the former minister and the member for Argyle for filling in there because some members I guess were a little bit short in their remarks. I might have been caught a little off guard because I was in the balcony speaking with the very, very knowledgeable Denny Morrow, who has already been introduced to the House, the head of the Nova Scotia Fish Packers Association.

One of the things I would like to say first, Mr. Speaker, is how happy I am this afternoon to sort of ride shotgun for the very distinguished member for Shelburne. I identify him with the Municipality of Barrington so much because he has been such a part of that. It's my understanding that he has served as the warden for a good number of years and, if my memory serves me right, it was something in the order of seven years and he was a councillor before that. More importantly, in being associated with this member, is the fact that he has fished for 38 years, that this member has been fishing since he was 15 years old, for 38 years on the water, and that kind of experience is not duplicated on this side of the House or the other side of the House as well. What a great thing it is to have a fish harvester with that kind of experience on this side of the House. (Applause)

[5:45 p.m.]

Now, addressing the issue, Mr. Speaker, the soft-shelled lobster issue, the crux of the matter is that the shedding or the moulting has been taking place later than it did in the past. This is causing a severe problem with 30 per cent, sometimes 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the lobster being landed in the first two or three weeks of the season, being soft-shelled. This is a severe problem. Hopefully, the meetings that we're looking at the minister taking the initiative to have will, in fact, address some of these situations, but looking at season change is a difficult

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thing. We have a very substantial Christmas and New Year's market that has to be met, and some people would say the obvious solution is to change the season.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I think there would be a lot of concern about that. Not only do we have a situation where the soft-shelled lobster is a problem for the first two or three weeks, many of the fish harvesters in southwestern Nova Scotia hold their lobsters until the first part of the new year. So we have those lobsters that were held also having 30 per cent to 40 per cent soft-shell as well.

So we almost have two situations. We have one that is in the first couple of weeks, two or three weeks, and the other being when the held lobsters are in fact sold. Now, some people, and I think probably most, point to environmental factors. They point to water temperature change and I think, Mr. Speaker, to use an example of how water temperature can really affect any number of species. Probably about eight or nine years ago, there was a situation where silver hake had its greatest, its best year class in the longest period of time, years and years, the very best year class. Two years before, a little blip of water, an area of water was identified off Newfoundland and Labrador, and it took almost two years for that water to move down along the shelf, the Nova Scotia shelf, the Scotian Shelf. When that cold water got down along the shore, along the shelf, it came up and went into two of the basins, LaHave and Emerald Basins, two areas that the silver hake were found in tremendous numbers.

Mr. Speaker, in that situation, we ended up with that best year class to come along in years and years that it almost disappeared. That's what a couple of degrees can make in temperature. I think we have to recognize that as one of the possible problems that we're dealing with.

Another that is mentioned quite often in Maine and other areas of the Eastern Seaboard of the United States is related to diet, what is there - and there are always changes, predator, prey changes that are taking place all of the time. Diet seems to be one of the things that is being put forward by some of the American fish harvesters, and it is being echoed, to a certain degree, I believe, as well, in southwestern Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I think the most important thing that we can do right now to support this industry, which the minister mentioned was $338 million in landed value - that's not market value, in landed value, $338 million - I think what we should do is support the request for consultation as soon as possible with fish harvesters and buyers, and that the next ministers' conference be held in the Municipality of Barrington rather than in Truro with soft-shelled lobster as a primary agenda item.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, the whole issue of lobster quality must be addressed, other issues, other than the soft-shell situations. They should be on the agenda as well. Lobster is, in fact, the most important species from Yarmouth right through to Bay St. Lawrence, the number one species. It spreads wealth out throughout the industry. There are some fisheries that

[Page 225]

only a few take the value from, but this is one that so many fish harvesters benefit from. That quality is most important.

In southwestern Nova Scotia some of the lobster boats have become so large that to make them pay they have to work around the clock at the first of the season, 24 hours, sometimes with two crews working these lobster boats. If there were some way, Mr. Speaker, that the harvesting could be at least slowed down at the first of the season, I think this would be a tremendous benefit. You can't have 30 per cent of your harvest going to poor quality.

I understand that I'm running out of time, so I better speed up. I was trying to fill in the time period by doing a little repetition, but I'll move very quickly now.

We are looking at a number of issues - one is that the wooden crates that used to be used meant more handling of the lobster. Today there is much less handling because the crates used to have different weights, sometimes they varied from 22 to 28 pounds. But now, with the plastic crates, they're 17 pounds so there isn't the handling of them.

The situation is that I think the minister should take this very, very seriously. When people start to sell their toys it's one thing. If they're selling four wheel vehicles or whatever, but when someone is losing a boat, it's another thing entirely. When people start to see dollar signs on the ceiling - it's one thing for the minister to sweat in this House for a little while, but it's another thing for people to wake up in the middle of the night in a cold sweat seeing dollar signs on the ceiling.

I believe the minister has to do something and do something fast. This pittance of $20,000 to an industry that is worth $338 million is a far cry from what's needed. It's my understanding that twice that much is needed to do the work that has to be done in the science that is currently taking place. Mr. Speaker, we need $40,000 for that job. (Applause)

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

MR. ALFRED MACLEOD: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if that was for me or Clarrie, but it gives me great pleasure to stand in my place today to talk about this issue.

The reality is that the lobster fishing industry is an important industry not only in southwestern Nova Scotia but in all parts of Nova Scotia. The area that I represent has a large fishing community - areas like Port Morien and Louisbourg, Main-à-Dieu, Main-à-Dieu being known as the lobster capital of Nova Scotia and probably of the world, as far as I'm concerned. But the whole issue of (Interruptions) it would be a debate, but not from my point of view.

Mr. Speaker, I guess what I really wanted to say is that the industry is important. It's important to southwestern Nova, it's important to Cape Breton Island, it's important to all parts of Nova Scotia. We, as a House, have an obligation to work together to make sure this industry

[Page 226]

survives and strives and delivers the kind of value that it does to our economy so the people of the Province of Nova Scotia have this benefit.

The minister spoke of all the monies that are brought into the Province of Nova Scotia by the landings. This money and the jobs created are very important to every section of Nova Scotia. We need to make sure this lobster industry survives, continues to grow and flourishes as we move forward.

Mr. Speaker, there are many, many different issues that are involved with this lobster industry and the ones that I would like to - I ran out of time, I'd like to talk a lot more but I'm sorry I can't.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to move that the House meet tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to meet tomorrow from 12:00 noon to 8:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion, please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the government business for tomorrow will be the daily routine followed by the Committee of the Whole House on Supply and the Sub-committee and following that, with any extra time, we will be doing government bills for second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: Another riveting day ahead? We now move to Late Debate.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour has submitted the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that the government has made significant steps forward through the Nova Scotia Drinking Water Strategy, and continues to look ahead to make such a vital resource even better."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 227]

ENVIRON. & LBR. - N.S. DRINKING WATER STRATEGY

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. It is a pleasure to rise and speak on this topic. I want to make an apology to the Opposition members before I start, in that I'm booked to go see Vice-President Gore's film, An Inconvenient Truth, at 6:45 p.m. so I may have to pop out a bit early, but I will certainly read the members' remarks in response to what I have to say, in Hansard, and will look forward to hearing what they have to say. So with that apology being said, I hope that the Opposition members will given me that latitude. I don't know if they have seen the film themselves, but I understand that it is quite a worthwhile film.

AN HON. MEMBER: Tell us about it tomorrow.

MR. PARENT: Yes, I can tell you about it tomorrow. I want to start with a big drink of nice clear, crystal water. I want to do that, Mr. Speaker, because I think we take for granted the fact that we have this resource. I know that having grown up in Latin America, that it is not something that is taken for granted in various countries and communities in the world. Even in our own country of Canada, we have seen in northern Ontario that clean, safe drinking water is not something that everyone can enjoy, so we don't want to take that for granted.

It is something that the Department of Environment and Labour considers to be a very serious matter, the quality and quantity of drinking water for Nova Scotians. We take deliberate steps to provide Nova Scotians with water that is the cleanest achievable with the modern technology we have and provide security for public health. The health implications of unsafe drinking water are very severe. That is why the department has worked diligently to define a strategy that ensures safe drinking water supplies for our citizens. These challenges of safe drinking water are great, they demand new and innovative approaches, so the department is committed to a more scientific and pragmatic approach to policy creation and management.

The drinking water strategy of 2002 that my colleague and my neighbouring MLA in Kings South was instrumental in creating was created with the intention of defining an approach to drinking water management that would ensure the sanctity of the supply of clean, safe drinking water. It incorporated the best science available to ensure quality outcomes and it spurred the development of the Department of Environment and Labour's science strategy of 2005.

[6:00 p.m.]

Both the drinking water strategy of 2002 and the science strategy of 2005 are geared towards one goal, Mr. Speaker, ensuring that government policy is based on sound, scientific principles when it comes to ensuring that Nova Scotians have access to good, clean, safe drinking water. To do that, we rely on information that is current and that information is timely and we recognize the need for co-operation amongst the stakeholders, so that this common goal of delivering clean, safe drinking water to Nova Scotians is achieved. We, in the department,

[Page 228]

can set standards, but unless we work co-operatively with municipalities, those standards will be standards that are simply on paper and standards that won't reach the citizens we want them to reach.

The drinking water strategy is a product of the Interdepartmental Drinking Water Management Committee. This committee brought forth experts from several departments: Environment and Labour; Health; Agriculture; Fisheries and Aquaculture; Natural Resources; Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations; Tourism, Culture and Heritage;

and a very important department, Mr. Speaker, run by a very able minister, very fair in how he allots his paving contracts, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

What I am trying to say by this is that this strategy was not simply a strategy. If you hear a sucking sound as I made that, Mr. Speaker, that probably can be read into the record, I think that would be fair to say that.

This is not a Department of Environment and Labour initiative, Mr. Speaker. What I want to state is that this is an initiative that crosses many different departments in government because the whole government is committed and has shown substantive progress on ensuring that Nova Scotians have clean, safe, drinking water. This multi-disciplinary, multi-departmental approach is an approach that has worked well.

Just as an aside, Mr. Speaker, having served and still being a member of the Crossing Boundaries Political Advisory Committee, a national committee made up of municipal, provincial and federal leaders, politically and within the Civil Service, that increasingly, with the issues that we have to face as a government, we're going to have to be able to work interdepartmentally and in co-operation with other people outside of government as well. The old system where departments could operate in isolation from each other - the technical word they use "in silos" - is gone. Departments need to be able to work on a horizontal basis, reaching out on these issues that cut across many different departments, doing so not with the attitude of trying to preserve their departmental budgets, or power, or influence, but working co-operatively for the good of Nova Scotians. So on this crossing boundaries, we've talked about citizen-centred democracy, and we've talked about citizen-centred services on both federal, municipal and provincial levels.

I think the water management strategy that the province came up with is one example of how these different departments have been able to work together, and I think it's one that we want to give credit to the ministers who were involved at the time and also to the department staff in all those very departments who have worked together co-operatively, Mr. Speaker, for the good of Nova Scotians.

As I said, this is something that we need to work on with the municipalities. One of the things as an MLA in a rural riding that I have observed - that I'm sure the member for Kings West, who is sitting there, I know he knows this as well - is that when they come to me they

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don't differentiate between municipal, provincial and federal governments. They expect that I'll be able to help them, I'm the face of government to them, and so on this water strategy not only do we have to work interdepartmentally but we have to work, as I said, with municipalities - aiding them, supporting them, encouraging them and, most of all, ensuring that Nova Scotians have clean, safe drinking water.

Another factor of this is that 40 per cent of Nova Scotians are on private wells. I, myself, Mr. Speaker, am on a private well. To my chagrin, I think I've gone a little bit over a year without testing it, and we in the department would encourage everyone on private wells to test their wells on a yearly basis because it's important that the testing be done in order to ensure that our citizens, the families, the children, are drinking clean, safe drinking water, and we assist them in that process. We also support scientific research on this because we've reached out not only to municipalities but to the scientific community - and that's what we base our policy on, scientific evidence, good, strong-based scientific evidence. Dalhousie University has been a key source working with us in the areas of arsenic and haloacetic acids in drinking water.

Now, there are three key accomplishments of the Drinking Water Strategy that I'm proud to share with you and that I'm really proud of our government for: first, all municipal water utilities in the province now have consistent approvals that require them to meet clear province-wide standards for water treatment and operator certification - that's an important step that we've taken as a province; secondly, about 1,800 small public drinking water supplies are now registered with the Department of Environment and Labour and are required to monitor their water quality and report problems to the department - facilities such as restaurants, campgrounds, and schools that may have their own water supply; and thirdly, we have remained dedicated to our role as educators - the education documents we prepared as a department to help private well owners understand their role of protecting and testing their water has been a great success. Further, all our water utility operators tell us that they're now better prepared as a result of our education program to manage the responsibility bestowed upon them as keepers of our clean water.

Mr. Speaker, our children are going to look to us for many things, but I think one of the key things that they're going to judge us on is how we cared for the environment, how we cared for the quality of the air, the quality of the soil, the beauty of our forests, and how we cared specifically for this very important resource, the resource of water.

Mr. Speaker, we talk so much about energy. I was at a conference in Washington, D.C., a very fascinating conference on energy. The United States feels so threatened by the rising energy demands in the country of China. Interesting how they feel about that, and interesting in light of the fact that they're the greatest consumers of energy but, when you think about it, water is an even more precious resource than oil and gas - not that they're not precious resources for the industrial society we have, but without water we're really in trouble. Who would have thought, Mr. Speaker, even when I was in university, my first years, that we would

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be buying bottled water and paying more for that water than we pay for a litre of gasoline, and yet that's the case.

People realize that water is an important commodity and, fortunately, in Nova Scotia, we have a government that has been working diligently. I don't take credit for this at all, having been in the department for one week, enough time not to get any sleep and have my head spinning from all the briefings, the credit goes to my predecessors and all of those departments I've mentioned and, particularly, our fine civil servants.

Mr. Speaker, I know I'm coming to an end but I do want to speak to our civil servants. I have been so impressed with the dedication of our civil servants. I speak across the board for my seven years, but particularly now for this week in the Department of Environment and Labour, working hours beyond what anyone would expect for the remuneration they get to care for citizens.

Our civil servants, at least in the department I work in, see this task not simply as a job but as some sort of calling to help provide the best government that they can provide for the citizens of this province. I do want to thank them for that, and I am humbled, actually, by it. I do want to boast a little bit, again not on my own behalf, but boast about what the department has initiated, what this government has done on safe drinking water and commit that we will continue to make water in Nova Scotia safe for all of Nova Scotians. We can all have a glass to that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, it's a real privilege to rise to speak on this favourite topic of mine, which is the one of water. It's funny, because we live in this province, which is one of the wettest of all of the provinces. We're surrounded by salt water, and yet 40 per cent of the people in this province get their drinking water from a source that has gone largely ignored by the Drinking Water Strategy produced by this province. We know that water is an essential good. Twenty per cent of the world does not have safe water at this moment, and the lack of safe potable water kills something like 4,500 children a day. Project that into the local circumstance and you can see the magnitude of the problem of unsafe drinking water.

The strategy does an excellent job on the protection of municipal water supplies, but as the member opposite has pointed out, some 40 per cent of Nova Scotians do depend on groundwater. It's the groundwater and the recharge of that resource which is essential not only to well owners, but also to those who depend on the municipal supplies.

It's interesting to note that some of the larger cities in the world, at the moment, for instance, New York, are quite willing to invest in source water protection, knowing that their costs will be magnified tenfold if they have to deal with treatment in the plants when they could

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in fact be protecting their source water. It's an economic argument as well as a health and humane argument.

Having said all this, it's very true as the member opposite has pointed out, that water is affected by almost every activity that goes on in the province. Unfortunately, however, many of those activities in the province constitute nothing more than assaults on the ground water quality here. They are such things as the movement of contaminated soils, a particular difficulty, brown field sites, which have gone unremedied, in other words water flowing through contaminated sites ending up in the groundwater recharge system. There are very severe questions around the application of bio-solids of various sorts to agricultural lands and, of course, even in urban settings there's the question of runoff of fertilizers and, worse, of pesticides into local watercourses and, ultimately, into the groundwater.

We also have real difficulties with airborne pollutants, and the low amount of commitment that we have been able to demonstrate to our own lot in the Kyoto Protocol is evidence of what we may be doing to our water supplies. I would say that even the lack of a really comprehensive public transit strategy and a commitment to ensuring that public transit is, in fact, available to large numbers of our populations. That lack of a commitment ends up having an impact on air quality and, ultimately, soil quality and water quality as a result of that. Septage and sewage similarly find themselves in the water table. The loss of wetlands, whether through infilling or through the compromise of quality is also a serious threat. Wetlands act as a natural filter, and to the degree that we are allowing them to be filled with rock and non-porous substances, we are in fact decimating the filtrate, the natural filtration abilities of the soil.

Having said all this, we also have some real problems with water quantity, as well as quality. There are very few municipalities at this point across the country which look at quantity specifically. The groundwater is essential to supply the municipal water supplies, as well as wells. We've had a number of discussions in this House over well fields being drained, in effect, for the use of consumers in other areas. This has happened in Cape Breton, it has happened in Sackville, it has happened in my own area, and there could be nothing more disconcerting than living for a long time in an area, depending on a well, and discovering that with the arrival of new development that in fact the well field has been drained and there is not even an adequate quantity of water, where there has always been in the past.

Some members may remember that I had introduced a bill on hydrogeological surveys, permitting such surveys to be required as a condition of development applications. I would still encourage this government to look at that as an option, because when there is disruption of the aquifer, the quantity is frequently diminished. This looks, too, at the need for planning by watershed area, and I think we should be looking very seriously at ensuring that the threats in one watershed are not transferred to become the threats to another.

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[6:15 p.m.]

In connection with that, it's curious to note that, of course, even our federal government was recently willing to make an offer, to make a deal to sell our water, bottled, to Saudi Arabia and to other dry countries. On a smaller scale, every year we export from the province- I'm afraid I don't have the number in front of me - very large quantities of water at very low fees in the form of bottled water. This, too, does in fact have an impact on our groundwater and the satisfactory levels of our aquifers.

I would suggest that if we are really serious about groundwater protection, we need to be looking very seriously at soil protection. We need to be looking at the remediation of contaminated sites. We need to know, not only that the material has been removed from a contaminated site, but where it has gone. As pointed out in a Municipal World article recently, and the IJC, the International Joint Commission, has reported recently some of the biggest threats to water quality are in fact what is euphemistically called waste disposal activities. Those waste disposal activities, legitimate or not, constitute a very serious menace to our drinking water and to the health and safety of humans, animals and plants alike. Until we know where the waste is going, we are not going to be able to really ensure that our drinking water supplies are safe.

I have numerous cases in my constituency, which is theoretically an urban constituency as it falls inside the Halifax Regional Municipality, large numbers of constituents who do in fact depend on wells. It's great to educate people about the need to test their wells. I know people who cannot afford to test wells, and what happens in some neighbourhoods is that eight or 10 households will band together once every two years to pay for a water test for one of their wells. That's just not good enough.

So until we can make that testing affordable and accessible, then we really are not acting to protect the drinking water of those 40 per cent of Nova Scotians who depend on the groundwater supplies. I would say that education is fine, but affordability is key. I should note, as well, it seems ironic at times that there are public housing facilities in this province which are literally supplied with bottled water, because there is no adequate drinking water in the area. It does seem ironic that this would not have been dealt with.

I mentioned in-filling. In-filling is really a very serious problem in terms of the loss of wetlands but also in terms of the contribution to the substances that are in the water. This is freshwater in-filling that I'm talking about. The fact that we haven't enacted any riparian protections is really shameful, that's to say a municipality can enact that no building and certain designated activities cannot take place closer than 50 or 100 feet, as the case may be, no closer than that to the edge of a watercourse. But if in fact it's possible to strip all the vegetation from that watercourse, one is inviting erosion, massive erosion, and everything that flows into the watercourse with it is in fact a compromise, potentially, to the water quality. Again, Mr. Speaker, with that I will take my seat.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it's certainly great to see you here this evening for late debate, setting a good standard for the Speaker's Chair. I commend you for that. This is a very important topic brought forth by the Minister of Environment and Labour, the member for Kings North, but I guess he had to hustle off to some other meeting or event this evening. I do thank him for bringing this forward. I do appreciate the member opposite and her comments made on what is an important and also timely topic in light of the concerns that Nova Scotians do have with their drinking water.

At same time, I'm a little bit surprised, perhaps, that this topic was brought forth, as one of the first ones, by the minister, because over the past six, seven years, since the life of this government in 1999, there have been a number of issues around drinking water. One in particular is the presence of THMs in water. In 1999, when the Department of Environment and Labour launched a test of community water supplies, there were 18 communities at that time that had the presence of and unacceptably high levels of THMs in their drinking water. Certainly the chief medical officer of the day, Dr. Scott, pointed out that when there are these higher levels of THMs in our water, in fact, there is about a 15 per cent greater chance of getting cancer from drinking the water with those high levels. So it has become a concern and an issue for the department. Once again, in the year 2004, the number of communities with unacceptably high THMs was still at 10.

So it is an issue that certainly has not gone away. It is worthy to point out that the number has decreased, down to 10, which certainly is an improvement. I think, however, it is still an area that we need to monitor very closely. Hopefully the minister will take a look at some of the comments that were made by the members opposite tonight, because it is an area where I would like to see, in 2006, further improvements, or are we at the same level, or have things in fact perhaps gotten a little worse. THMs are a very important issue for our drinking water here in the province. One of the other more recent studies and commentaries that I have heard was from the Clean Annapolis River Project, which has their headquarters down in the Annapolis Basin. They've done quite an intensive study involving satellite photography, and looking at the amount of clear-cutting that has been done in southwestern Nova Scotia and the impact it is making on the quality of the water in the lakes, the levels of the lakes because it affects the recharge, obviously, ability of those areas.

That's another whole sort of area that we in Nova Scotia - where, in fact, we don't have an allowable limit for cutting our forests - I think it's an area that certainly needs a strong piece of investigative work. Certainly, the Clean Annapolis River Project did make the statement, their expert science-based analysis is that the quantity and the quality of our water due to excessive clear-cutting is having an impact on our lakes, our groundwater, which as we know is our drinking water.

[Page 234]

The other area that we often don't take a strong enough look at is the pollution that we have in our waters. If we take a look at the fact that in Nova Scotia, we still produce a tremendous amount of our electricity from burning coal and fossil fuels. The one plant alone at Lingan is the third-worst polluter in Canada. When we look at the fact we don't always have westerly winds prevailing and that fallout doesn't necessarily go out over the ocean, but, in fact, ends up in water supplies. We know this area in particular in Cape Breton has one of the highest, if not the highest, cancer rate in Canada. Again, perhaps a strong association with the drinking water.

Then if we take a look at the convergence of air masses over Nova Scotia where we have the northern air mass, the central air mass and the Gulf Stream bringing all of the pollutants from those areas, especially the Ohio Valley, into Nova Scotia and impacting on our water supplies.

In the last number of years as our summers and early Falls seem to have gotten much warmer - I know in the Annapolis Valley where I live, we have this haze covering the Valley which was not very prominent years ago which now does affect the quality of our water, going into lakes and groundwater, is one of the areas I think the department needs to be much more cognizant of.

I did welcome the comment made by the member opposite, when talking about the well system and the source of 40 to 50 per cent of the water from Nova Scotians. They use well water - in fact, I have a system and there may be a few here that in the Valley, if you live close to the Valley floor, you can actually have a gravity-fed water system from a spring. I have a gravity-fed water system in my home, fed from a spring.

But, once again, testing is critical to knowing what my water quality is like. I did learn quite a lesson first when I was using this source of water in that an animal had gotten in the water supply, and we in the household got sick and it certainly heightened the number of times we tested our water, especially during Spring and summer months.

I think it's now fair to say that the affordability and, in fact, accessibility, are critical elements for the 40 per cent of Nova Scotians who get water from wells. At one time you could take your water sample down to the local hospital and could at least find out if the coliform count of the water was high. That at least gave you a little bit of assurance, especially through the warmer months, if something adverse was happening to your water and you shouldn't be drinking it.

I think once again, as a province, we should be looking at greater accessibility for the private wells here in the province. I think protection of our water bodies is a critical piece. We are going to have greater pressure to sell our water, there is no question that that is coming at us, I think very strongly. In fact it is interesting to note that when GPI did a major study about five or six years ago they made one piece that I would just like to make a quick reference to,

[Page 235]

that is, one-third of Nova Scotians now spend about $300 a year on buying bottled water and filtration systems because they no longer have that great trust in their water supply. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for debate has expired. We stand adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

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

[Page 236]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3)

RESOLUTION NO. 78

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas D'Arcy Enright is the co-founder of the Blandford and Area Historical Society and the chairman of the Seasiders, a seniors group; and

Whereas in order to raise much-needed funding for the museum, D'Arcy took on the task of walking the entire Aspotogan Loop, and is now involved in a new federal program to showcase the area - the New Horizons Program; and

Whereas he recently received the Shining Bell Award for services to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank D'Arcy Enright for his dedication to the community.

RESOLUTION NO. 79

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Brian Ells is the owner of Hubbards Save Easy; and

Whereas Mr. Ells' unwavering and generous attitude whenever he is asked to give food or commodities to the community for an upcoming event in the Hubbards area has helped many organizations over the years; and

Whereas he recently received the Shining Bell Award for services to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Brian Ells for his dedication to the community.

[Page 237]

RESOLUTION NO. 80

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Herbert Frederick Canning was born in Port Greville, Nova Scotia, in 1920; and

Whereas after serving in England as a mechanic during the Second World War, he set up a service station in Seabright, during which time Mr. Canning was instrumental in starting the Seabright Fire Hall; and

Whereas on May 4, 2006, Mr. Canning passed away at the age of 86 in the QEII Health Sciences Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their deepest condolences to the family of the late Herbert Frederick Canning.

RESOLUTION NO. 81

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas, brothers, Ricky and Derrek Swinemar, owners of Big Reds, got the whole ball of dough rolling in the family kitchen some years ago; and

Whereas Big Reds has proven that they have the recipe for success - mix tasty ingredients in good measure with homestyle flare and the menu is ready to write itself; and

Whereas the red and white decor is now proudly displayed at their newest location near the Cross Roads in Upper Tantallon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish these business owners much success in the years to come.

[Page 238]

RESOLUTION NO. 82

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Grades 4 and 5 students at the Aspotogan Consolidated Elementary School have a good reason to hold their heads high; and

Whereas these two classes recently shared a Judges' Choice Award for producing two excellent videos that were showcased in the Knowledge Festival at Parkview High School in Bridgewater; and

Whereas the students created a 20 minute playground safety movie, with the assistance of teacher Linda MacIntyre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and the teachers on a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 83

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the Aspotogan School Choir, under the direction of Glynda Wimmer, recently participated in the Lunenburg and District Music Festival; and

Whereas the ACES Choir tied for first place, along with the Lunenburg Academy, and took part in the "Stars of the Festival" concert at The Pearl Theatre in Lunenburg on April 29th; and

Whereas the choir received a Rose Bowl and 1st place plaque for their efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Aspotogan School Choir on a job well done.

[Page 239]

RESOLUTION NO. 84

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas in just over two months, a small committee of four grew to an event with more than 250 volunteers, consisting of cancer survivors and teams of friends and neighbours; and

Whereas the June 16th event turned the Centennial Field in Tantallon into a tent city for the first-ever Relay for Life; and

Whereas all of the volunteers' hard work helped net the Canadian Cancer Society over $16,000 for cancer research;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizing committee of the Tantallon Relay.

RESOLUTION NO. 85

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas about four years ago, David and Angela Doggetts of Chester created the NovaScotianFishing.com Web site, which promotes conservation of all fish stocks and the environment through catch and release practices and the ethical use of fishing resources; and

Whereas offering free membership, the site now counts 4,200 members and is used as an anglers' forum through an on-line magazine; and

Whereas on June 12, 2006, these two anglers received a national award that recognizes their hard work and dedication in promoting and developing the recreational fishing experience throughout Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all Members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Doggetts on a job well done.

[Page 240]

RESOLUTION NO. 86

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Lois and Roy Harnish started the Shore Club in Hubbards many years ago; and

Whereas they have been giving to the Hubbards community ever since; and

Whereas they recently received the Shining Bell Award for services to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Lois and Roy Harnish for all their dedication to the community.

RESOLUTION NO. 87

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Maureen Moore has provided an outstanding effort to revitalize the Hubbards and Area Business Association; and

Whereas under her guidance, the association has grown in numbers, launched Hubbards and the surrounding area onto a path of community promotion and beautification, established the annual Hubbards Business Fair, and published a community business directory; and

Whereas an emotional Maureen recently received the Shining Bell Award for services to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Maureen Moore for her dedication to the community.

RESOLUTION NO. 88

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

[Page 241]

Whereas the parents behind PEAK (parents encouraging active kids) has good reason to be excited; and

Whereas PEAK has received a commitment from the Department of Health Promotion and Protection for $35,000 to fund one-third of the cost of a new playground; and

Whereas the committee has been working extremely hard to approach businesses to ask for assistance, as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their best wishes as PEAK continues their fundraising efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 89

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the Shoreham Village Foundation has embarked on an ambitious fundraising campaign to help fund new palliative care units at their facility; and

Whereas about 50 people showed up for the launch of the foundation's newest venture; and

Whereas the foundation has already reached a milestone by raising $50,000 of the total

$300,000 needed for this project;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish them much success in reaching their goals.

RESOLUTION NO. 90

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas Kim Myra, Keith Skiffington and their seven-year-old son, Bradley, are from Tantallon; and

Whereas in April 2005, Bradley was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes at the young age of seven; and

[Page 242]

Whereas Kim and Keith have been appointed as the family chairs of the 2006 Walk to Cure Diabetes, and Bradley as the ambassador;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their most sincere thanks to this very dedicated family.

RESOLUTION NO. 91

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas volunteers, parents, students and staff spent approximately four months organizing the Tantallon Elementary Spring Fling; and

Whereas the school was packed, with everyone laughing and having a good time, regardless of the weather outside; and

Whereas all their efforts paid off as the spring fling netted $14,000, which will be used to help the school in various ways;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizing committee on a job well done.