Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-6

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

THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rpt. - N.S. Law Foundation, Hon. M. Scott 244
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 92, Science Fairs: Participants - Congrats., Hon. K. Casey 244
Vote - Affirmative 245
Res. 93, Sheppard/Hillier/Bodnarchuk/Marchand/Swan/MacDonald/Cheverie -
NHL Draft, Hon. B. Barnet 245
Vote - Affirmative 246
Res. 94, Seton Elem./Cape Smokey Elem. - Phys. Ed. Awards, Hon. K. Casey 246
Vote - Affirmative 247
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 38, Assessment Act, Mr. P. Paris 247
No. 39, Beechville Baptist Church Act, Mr. K. Colwell 247
No. 40, Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, Mr. T. Zinck 247
No. 41, Kingston Food Bank Act, Mr. L. Glavine 247
No. 42, Municipal Government Act, Mr. K. Colwell 247
NOTICES OF MOTION
Res. 95, Vineberg, Selma - Retirement, Mr. D. Dexter 248
Vote - Affirmative 248
Res. 96, Windsor FD - Anniv. (125th), Mr. C. Porter 248
Vote - Affirmative 249
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 97, Naugler, David - Caldwell Rd. Elem.: Serv. - Recognize,
Mr. K. Deveaux 249
Vote - Affirmative 250
Res. 98, Moirs Pond: Preservation Comm. - Recognize, Hon. L. Goucher 250
Vote - Affirmative 250
Res. 99, Murphy, Bernice - Shining Star Award, Mr. J. MacDonell 251
Vote - Affirmative 251
Res. 100, Acadian Seaplant Ltd. - Expert Growth Award, Mr. W. Gaudet 251
Vote - Affirmative 252
Res. 101, Boyd, Esther - Retirement, Hon. E. Fage 252
Vote - Affirmative 253
Res. 102, Brain Injury Assoc. (N.S.) - Bowlathon (2005): Vols./Sponsors -
Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 253
Vote - Affirmative 253
Res. 103, Siddiq, Auyon: Accomplishments - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 254
Vote - Affirmative 254
Res. 104, Oakes, Bruce: Caring Cdn. Award, Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson 254
Vote - Affirmative 255
Res. 105, Stonehame Lodge: Expansion - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 255
Vote - Affirmative 256
Res. 106, Donovan, Sarah Alison - Lt.-Gov's. Medal,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 256
Vote - Affirmative 256
Res. 107, Cook, Eric: Bus. Venture - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 257
Vote - Affirmative 257
Res. 108, Sir John A. Macdonald Flames - Softball Championship,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 257
Vote - Affirmative 258
Res. 109, Horsburgh, M. Spencer: Berwick Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. L. Glavine 258
Vote - Affirmative 259
Res. 110, Acadia Axemen Hockey Celebrity Dinner: Organizers - Commend,
Hon. D. Morse 259
Vote - Affirmative 260
Res. 111, Privateers Days Comm.: Vols. - Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 260
Vote - Affirmative 260
Res. 112, Digby-Saint John Ferry - Serv.: Issues - Resolve,
Mr. H. Theriault 260
Vote - Affirmative 261
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 113, Fleming, Alex - Midget Golf Championship, Hon. B. Taylor 261
Vote - Affirmative 262
Res. 114, Dart. Seniors' Serv. Ctr. - Anniv. (30th), Ms. M. More 262
Vote - Affirmative 263
Res. 115, Bare it for Life Calendar: Organizer/Models - Commend,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 263
Vote - Affirmative 263
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
^No. 39, TPW: Road Projects - List, Mr. D. Dexter 264
No. 40, URB: Stora Enso - Power Rates, Mr. Manning MacDonald 265
No. 41, Educ.: Teachers - Shortage, Mr. D. Dexter 266
No. 42, Educ.: Chester Mid. School - Renovations, Mr. W. Estabrooks 267
No. 43, TPW - Crosswalk Safety, Mr. W. Gaudet 268
No. 44, Women, Status of: Disabled Women - Inequalities Address,
Ms. M. More 270
No. 45, Agrig.: Horticulture - Aid, Mr. J. MacDonell 271
No. 46, Health - Fecal Occult Blood Test Screening Prog.,
Mr. David. Wilson (Glace Bay) 272
No. 47, Environ. & Lbr.: An Inconvenient Truth - Min. Opinion,
Mr. H. Epstein 273
No. 48, Immigration.: ESL Funding - Increase, Mr. L. Preyra 275
No. 49, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: East. Shore Shuttle -
Funding, Mr. K. Colwell 276
No. 50, African N.S. Affs.: Dep. Min. - Appt., Mr. P. Paris 277
No. 51, Health - Small Options Beds: Freeze - Time Frame,
Mr. S. Belliveau 278
No. 52, Health: Digby - Physician Licence, Mr. H. Theriault 279
No. 53, Health - Wait Times: Nurse Practitioners - Employ,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 281
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. G. Steele 282
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 1:54 P.M. 286
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 286
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)
Digby Ferry Closure - Gov't. (N.S.): Solution - Assist.:
Mr. H. Theriault 287
Mr. L. Goucher 289
Mr. C. Parker 291
Mr. J. Massey 293
HOUSE RECESSED AT 6:27 P.M. 292
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 6:30 P.M. 294
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 31, Financial Measures (2006) Act. 294
Hon. M. Baker 294
Mr. G. Steele 296
Ms. D. Whalen 302
Hon. M. Scott 310
Vote - Affirmative 310
No. 10, Protection from Illegal Drugs Act 310
Hon. M. Scott 310
Mr. K. Deveaux 311
Mr. Manning MacDonald 313
Hon. M. Scott 313
Vote - Affirmative 313
No. 19, Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act 314
Hon. M. Scott 314
Mr. K. Deveaux 314
Mr. Manning MacDonald 316
Hon. M. Scott 316
Vote - Affirmative 316
No. 16, Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day Act. 316
Hon. M. Scott 317
Mr. G. Gosse 317
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 318
Hon. M. Scott 318
Vote - Affirmative 318
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., July 7th at 9:00 am. 319
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32 (3):
Res. 116, Prall, Craig: Berwick Sports Hall of Fame - Induction,
Mr. L. Glavine 320
Res. 117, McIver, Samantha Anne - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 320
Res. 118, Bennett, Clifford Lee - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 321
Res. 119, Brookins, Jillian - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 321
Res. 120, Ellis, Andrew - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 322
Res. 121, Fahey, Ryan - Lt.-Gov's Medal, Hon. M. Scott 322
Res. 122, Gamblin, Rachel - Highland Dance Medals, Hon. M. Scott 323
Res. 123, Herrett, Brittany - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 323
Res. 124, Jackson, Tyler: Strength/Determination - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 324
Res. 125, McCallum, Victoria Anne - Lt.-Gov's. Medal, Hon. M. Scott 324
Res. 126, Jewkes, Bev - Retirement, Hon. M. Scott 325

[Page 243]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, JULY 6, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

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 Cape Breton South:

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government allocate the necessary resources and assistance to help work towards finding a solution for the closure of the Digby ferry.

We will now commence with the daily routine.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, if I could, on June 29th, it was a joyous occasion for the students at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. Graham Carey was one of those young adults. In Grade 11, Graham won the Lieutenant Governor's medal; in Grade 12, this French Immersion student maintained an 97.8 average. We recently announced that he is this year's

243

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recipient of the $6,000 Johnstone scholarship. Yesterday, I read a resolution that praised him for this accomplishment. Graham Carey is in the gallery today. I would ask him to please stand and accept our congratulations. (Applause) Best wishes, Graham, for a distinguished university career.

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome, Graham, and to all visitors to the House for our proceedings today.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report and Audited Financial Statements of the Law Foundation of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 92

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

Whereas 38 young Nova Scotian scientists represented this province at the Canada Wide Science Fair in Saguenay, Quebec, in May, winning two silver and four bronze medals in competition against other students from across the country; and

Whereas 2006 was the first year that students from CSAP and the Mi'kmaq First Nations schools competed in this national competition; and

Whereas the Truro area will host 450 young scientists and just as many volunteers at the 2007 Canada Wide Science Fair;

[Page 245]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate our students, and thank teachers and school boards across the province for encouraging their students to bring their scientific pursuits to this level.

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 Health Promotion and Protection.

RESOLUTION NO. 93

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

Whereas James Sheppard, Ryan Hillier, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Brad Marchand, Bryce Swan, Andrew MacDonald, and Marc Cheverie were all drafted recently in the NHL Entry Draft just two weeks ago; and

Whereas I have watched many of them advance throughout their development to become the great hockey players that they are today; and

Whereas I know these bright young men not only make their families proud, but also their communities by becoming role models for younger players;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating James Sheppard, Brad Marchand, Ryan Hillier, Andrew Bodnarchuk, Andrew MacDonald Marc Cheverie, and Bryce Swan for achieving this great accomplishment, and wish them all the best during the next steps in their hockey careers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 246]

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 Health Promotion and Protection.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, for the members of the Legislature, many of these young people will be here later on this afternoon, around 3:00 p.m., for a brief reception downstairs in the foyer. If members would like to take an opportunity to meet them and talk to them, I'd appreciate it if they did that.

MR. SPEAKER: Duly noted for all members.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 94

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

Whereas schools have a key role to play in promoting healthy, active lifestyles for students; and

Whereas research shows that a physically fit and active child grows up to become a healthy and active adult, especially if the healthy lifestyle is modelled and encouraged at schools; and

Whereas many of our schools in Nova Scotia, such as Seton Elementary and Cape Smokey Elementary Schools, are helping to lead the way to a healthier, happier future for their students by filling schoolyards with hopscotch blocks, pedometer challenges, and other imaginative and creative ways;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Seton Elementary and Cape Smokey Elementary Schools, the first from the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to win the national Quality Daily Physical Education Recognition Award - an award that encourages excellence in school physical education programs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 247]

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 Health Promotion and Protection on an introduction.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, today, visiting us from Fredericton, New Brunswick, is Shawna and Mark White. Shawna is the daughter and Mark is the son-in-law of our Sergeant-at-Arms, Ken Greenham, and they're in our west gallery. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 38 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 23 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Assessment Act. (Mr. Percy Paris)

Bill No. 39 - An Act to Ensure a Right of Way for the Beechville Baptist Church to Lovett Lake for Baptisms. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

[12:15 p.m.]

Bill No. 40 - An Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 2000. The Employment Support and Income Assistance Act. (Mr. Trevor Zinck)

Bill No. 41 - Entitled an Act to Exempt the Kingston Food Bank from Municipal Taxation in the County of Kings. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 42 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

[Page 248]

RESOLUTION NO. 95

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

Whereas Eric Graves Junior High School teacher Selma Vineberg has retired from the teaching profession; and

Whereas Selma Vineberg demonstrated her commitment and dedication to her profession and to her students for over 33 years; and

Whereas on Wednesday, June 21, 2006, friends and colleagues held a celebration to honour Selma Vineberg with a reception and roast at Brightwood Golf and Country Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Selma Vineberg on her retirement and thank her for the many years she has contributed to the educational development of students in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 96

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

Whereas the Windsor Fire Department is a volunteer organization that has served the Town of Windsor since 1881 and the Municipality of the District of West Hants since 1951; and

Whereas over this period of time, the department and its volunteers have battled many fierce and dangerous blazes, including the Great Windsor Fire of 1897; and

[Page 249]

Whereas this year, we are proud that the Windsor Fire Department is blowing out 125 anniversary candles;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend 85 members of the Windsor Fire Department, including Fire Chief Fred Fox, for their enormous contributions toward the protection and safety of our citizens in Hants West.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 97

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

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

Whereas Caldwell Road Elementary School is an excellent school in which the school principal has been vital to its success; and

Whereas David Naugler is being transferred to a new school after five years as principal of Caldwell Road Elementary School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize David Naugler for his years of service to Caldwell Road Elementary School and the community of Eastern Passage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 250]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 98

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

Whereas on Saturday, June 5th, Moirs Pond preservation was celebrated as part of Bedford Arbor Day; and

Whereas the Save Moirs Pond Committee presented petitions of more than 5,000 signatures to both HRM and the province when infilling threatened the survival of the pond; and

Whereas through four years of diligent efforts by residents of HRM, the province, and Crombie Properties, a solution was achieved and the last remnant of the Moirs Box Mill Factory was preserved;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House recognize everyone who worked so hard to preserve Moirs Pond and congratulate the community on safeguarding an important part of our past.

Mr. Speaker, I request for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 251]

RESOLUTION NO. 99

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

Whereas volunteers often are responsible for many enjoyable entertainment events; and

Whereas Mrs. Bernice Murphy is one of the founders and primary organizers at East Hants Bluegrass and Oldtime Music Association events; and

Whereas on April 28, 2006, Mrs. Bernice Murphy was honoured by the Municipality of East Hants by being presented with the Shining Star Award for her outstanding contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mrs. Bernice Murphy on receiving the Shining Star Award and extend thanks to her for helping to spread the joy of music throughout the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 100

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

Whereas for 22 years the Nova Scotia Export Achievement Awards have honoured local companies who have achieved excellence in exporting Nova Scotian products; and

Whereas Acadian Seaplant Limited was recently awarded the 2006 Export Growth through New Markets Award; and

[Page 252]

Whereas over the past 25 years Acadian Seaplant Limited has served as a world leader in sustaining the seaweed resource allowing them to export seaweed-based specialty products to 70 countries;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate President Jean Paul Deveau and all of the employees at Acadian Seaplant Limited and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 101

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

Whereas Esther Boyd of Amherst is wrapping up her teaching career after 28 years; and

Whereas Esther during her career has gone from the gymnasium to the library, being home with her children, to a certified teacher for the deaf, and completed a degree in psychology and English between the classroom and a resource job at a local high school; and

Whereas Esther eventually moved from a teaching principal to administration at the Cumberland North Academy and although she is retiring from this position, she will continue as a parent educator with the courts and sit on the Hearing and Speech Foundation board. Esther has also made it clear that her summers will be spent here in the Maritimes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Esther Boyd upon her retirement from the field of education and wish her all the best vacationing in the Maritimes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 253]

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. 102

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

Whereas I had the pleasure of taking part in the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia's 2005 Bowlathon; and

Whereas again this event was a great success which raised over $24,000; and

Whereas the money raised supports programs for brain injury survivors and information services for families, and funds also support education and prevention as well as advocacy for better services for those who live with the effects of brain injury;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia and their volunteers and sponsors on their successful fundraiser.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 254]

RESOLUTION NO. 103

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

Whereas Auyon Siddiq has been an exemplary student at Halifax West High School. He has excelled academically while pursuing many extracurricular activities as well; and

Whereas Auyon's participation with the World Involvement Committee stems from a trip to his parent's homeland of Bangladesh, igniting his desire to improve the lives of others; and

Whereas Auyon has been on student government, an active debater and has served as a student adviser with the Halifax Regional School Board. These activities combined with his high academic achievement made him the ideal choice for Class of 2006 Valedictorian;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Auyon Siddiq on his remarkable accomplishments and wish him every success in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 104

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 volunteers play a significant role in our communities; and

Whereas volunteering for more than 50 years for many different fundraising events is exceptional; and

[Page 255]

Whereas Bridgewater resident Bruce Oakes has been chosen for the Caring Canadian Award for his lifetime of volunteering services;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the wonderful volunteer contributions of Bruce Oakes.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 105

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

Whereas Stonehame Chalets of Fitzpatrick Mountain near Scotsburn in Pictou County recently celebrated the grand opening of their brand new 12 room building called Rock Maple Retreat; and

Whereas each of these new rooms designed for locals, tourists or corporate getaways, features queen size beds, a whirlpool tub, a private deck and are wheelchair accessible; and

Whereas Stonehame Lodge and Chalets offer a farmland setting with a panoramic view overlooking Pictou County, Pictou Island and P.E.I;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Gunn family on the fine new addition of Rock Maple Retreat and wish continued success for Stonehame Lodge and Chalets.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 256]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 106

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

Whereas Sarah Alison Donovan of Glace Bay is the recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for her outstanding academic achievement for 2005-06; and

Whereas Alison is a student of Glace Bay Senior High School and has kept her overall academic average of 96 since Grade 7, she also volunteers her time to the Glace Bay Minor Hockey Association and to tutoring other students; and

Whereas Alison is the daughter of Danette and Alan Donovan of Glace Bay and was presented with this medal by Lieutenant Governor Myra Freeman;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Sarah Alison Donovan on her achievements and wish her success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 257]

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

Whereas Eric Cook, owner of Cook's Lawn Maintenance, recently joined the Truro and District Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas Eric Cook and son-in-law Brian Dennis run their growing family business with administrative assistance from wives Michele and Sarah; and

Whereas Cook's Lawn Maintenance is a certified pesticide and herbicide applicator specializing in pest and weed control, pruning, planting, mowing, masonry work and landscape maintenance;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Eric Cook for being a model on how to effectively run a small business and how effectively a small business in Nova Scotia can grow and wish him and his family every success in their business venture.

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. 108

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

Whereas the Sir John A. Macdonald's softball team the Flames captured the Provincial Championship in Yarmouth on June 10th and 11th; and

Whereas the Flames beat Millwood High School 14-2 in the final; and

[Page 258]

Whereas this year's championship team was coached by Ryan Legere, Adam Legere, David Payne and Chris Grant and managed by legendary Sir John A. Macdonald teacher Art Campbell;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Sir John A. Macdonald Flames on their Provincial Championship.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

Whereas the 8th Annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in June 2006; and

Whereas during his lifetime M. Spencer Horsburgh set an example to his family and his community as a leader in business, as well as Mayor of Berwick, his commitment to grow his town, ensuring the success of many teams and athletes; and

Whereas the legacy Mr. Horsburgh has left in Berwick is immeasurable, his dedication is still being honoured after his passing; Mr. Horsburgh has been inducted into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of the work he has done to build the foundation on which sports have been built;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the contributions made by M. Spencer Horsburgh in building his community.

[Page 259]

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas the 2006 and 9th Annual Acadia Axemen Hockey Celebrity Dinner was another outstanding success; and

Whereas dinner chairman Len Hawley, and Axemen head coach Darren Burns, and their organizing committee were able to lure all-star defenceman Wade Redden of the Ottawa Senators, Hockey Hall of Fame great and current Chicago Black Hawk assistant coach Denis Savard, and the coach of the 1993 Stanley Cup Champion Montreal Canadiens, Jacques Demers to this year's dinner; and

Whereas close to 400 people were in attendance at last Thursday night's dinner, which also saw an autographed Pittsburg Penquins Sidney Crosby jersey auctioned off for nearly $5,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Mr. Hawley and Coach Burns and their committee for another outstanding dinner as plans continue to bring the National CIAU Hockey Championship back to Wolfville in 2007.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 260]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 111

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

Whereas the Privateers Days Festival was held June 29th to July 2nd in Queens County; and

Whereas this festival is renowned for celebrating the history of Liverpool's privateers of the 17th Century; and

Whereas this event would not be possible without the dedication and commitment of community volunteers who work tirelessly to make this event a success, resulting in a major contribution to Queens;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature recognize and congratulate the volunteers of the Privateer Days Committee for their tireless contribution to the festivities in Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 112

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

[Page 261]

Whereas the Princess of Acadia, a ferry that provides service between Digby, Nova Scotia, and Saint John, New Brunswick, has been part of our heritage in the western part of our great province; and

Whereas we are now in jeopardy of losing this great service that is part of our history, and government must help to resolve the issues Bay Ferries has raised in order to keep this service active; and

Whereas Bay Ferries is also committed to keeping the Princess of Acadia an active and working part of the ferry operation in this area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly work together with Bay Ferries to find a solution to this matter and ensure that the Princess of Acadia remains a part of Nova Scotia's ferry industry.

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. 113

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

Whereas the junior motto of the Nova Scotia Golf Association is "Dreams tell you where you would like to go. Hard work takes you there."; and

Whereas Alex Fleming of Brookfield, in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, can readily identify with this motto after recently winning the 2006 Nova Scotia Midget Golf Championship at Ken Wo Golf and Country Club in New Minas; and

Whereas the Midget Golf Championship is for players age 14 and under;

[Page 262]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the spirit and determined work ethic of Alex Fleming of Brookfield in winning the 2006 Nova Scotia Midget Golf Championship.

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. 114

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Seniors' Service Centre was created in 1976 at 13 Windmill Road as a drop-in under the leadership of Connie Wenaus, with support from the City of Dartmouth; and

Whereas the centre is now a multi-service centre at 45 Ochterloney Street, offering 34 recreational and leisure programs, including resource information, counselling and referrals with a $0.5 million budget; and

Whereas over 250 volunteers work with 12 staff and Executive Director Dave Camp under an active Board of Directors with Clint Schofield as Chair, serving more than 700 seniors and their families;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate the Board of Directors, staff, volunteers and members of the Dartmouth Seniors' Service Centre during their 30th Anniversary year, and thank them for their valuable contributions to the leadership and quality of life of seniors in our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 263]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 115

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

Whereas Joyce Cooke is both a psychiatric nurse at the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow and a breast cancer survivor; and

Whereas Joyce Cooke and 59 other Pictonians have tastefully posed in Bare It For Life, a 2007 calendar in support of breast cancer research; and

Whereas the calendar was released last week, and the response to their efforts is well received in Pictou County and beyond;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature commend organizer Joyce Cooke and the 59 other models in the Bare It For Life calendar in their efforts to support breast cancer research.

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 264]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period shall begin at 12:38 p.m. and finish at 1:38 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

TPW: ROAD PROJECTS - LIST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The onset of summer has many Nova Scotians taking vacations, visiting families and discovering other parts of the province. Because of the time of year, some people are encountering driving slowdowns because of road construction and repair. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, far too many, though, are encountering slowdowns because they are forced to drive on roads that are in grave disrepair. I don't hear the applause. Instead of making the situation better in many parts of the province this year, the department is today admitting that they are cancelling and/or scaling back many projects because of increased asphalt prices. My question for the Premier is, will he table in the House today a list of road projects that his government will be cancelling or scaling back?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I'm surprised to hear that the NDP are against road construction here in our province. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition that this side of the House is not against road construction here in our province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I believe the government likely knew about this months ago. It seems that May 10th was a long time ago. On that day, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works tabled a report that boasted that the province would undertake the largest road building program in 40 years. During the election, the government happily went about the province proclaiming this in every little nook and cranny. They repeated it in ads, they published it in local papers, they boasted of the millions that would be ported to roads in each riding. Given the low-key admission from the government that they will be paving less than they promised, my question for the Premier is, will the Premier tell the House what steps they will be taking to communicate these changes to the residents in the affected areas?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable Leader of the Opposition giving us an opportunity to speak about the fact that we do indeed have a record-setting paving program in the province. (Applause) That record-setting program will enable us to pave over 500 kilometers of pavement in this construction season.

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MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, they've never once actually spent all the gas tax revenue on the roads as they promised and they know that to be the case. You know, what's worst about the department's now admission is that companies across the province have made their hiring and financial plans based on contracts that were bid on and awarded. In most cases, they hired or scheduled staff on the basis of this work and cancelling projects midstream could mean less work or even layoffs for some employees. My question for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will he tell this House what impact analysis his department has done about the effect of these project cancellations?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again I want to thank the honourable member for the opportunity to speak about our program this year. Indeed, we are being impacted as is the whole country being impacted by high liquid asphalt costs. The $177 million program that we have is a program that will continue. That's four times the amount of money that we spent on capital when we became government in 1999. The impact is that the contractors of this province have had more work to do this year than they have had for a long, long time.

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

URB: STORA ENSO - POWER RATES

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the minister in charge of the URB. Recently we've heard that Stora Enso need to know about their yearly power rates before September because their competitors will have a competitive advantage in the market in bidding for important contracts. However, the URB is refusing to hold a rate hearing in the summer to accommodate those needs. Stora has told this government that they need to know about their rate so that they can price their product appropriately, and they cannot do that until they know about their rate. My question to the minister is, will you commit today to force the URB to convene this summer so that we can get a resolution to the Stora situation as soon as possible?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very important issue to the government and to Nova Scotians, and that is the employment of Nova Scotians with Stora Enso. We are very concerned and in fact have been working very hard on that file to make sure that the employees are able to resume their employment as soon as possible. To that extent, we've been doing everything we can, but unfortunately it was not the government's ability to force the parties to proceed with the litigation any faster than possible, although we would certainly encourage everyone to get to it as soon as possible.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary to the minister. The province didn't have a problem interceding in the URB hearing with the Chester decision a couple of years ago. There's no excuse and no reason why you can't force the URB to sit this

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summer and unless Stora Enso can receive fair, stable and predictable power rates, they will be forced to close their doors forcing over 600 employees out of work. This will have a devastating effect on the economy. My question to the minister is, Mr. Minister, this government has allowed over 400 jobs to be lost in the Digby area, are the 600 employees in the Strait area next?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again, as I indicated to the honourable member, we take this matter very seriously. As the honourable member would also know, if you intervene to force the arbitrator, in this case the URB, to rush the process, such that somebody is not ready to proceed, there are issues of natural justice that become affected, and by affecting the natural justice of the proceeding, you can, in fact, ultimately slow down the decision-making process.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we need to find a solution for this company, and we need to save the jobs of Stora Enso's 600 employees. I'm going to direct this supplementary to the Premier. Mr. Premier, you are from that area, you have family members working in the plant, and you know the impact this will have on the economy of Cape Breton and indeed the entire province. Mr. Premier, we're here sitting this summer, doing the business of the province. Will you here, today, commit to making the URB do the same thing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. The Minister responsible for the URB has already answered that question. This government has taken many steps involved in the process of Stora Enso in the last number of months, $65 million when it came to the issue of land, phasing out of large corporate taxes over the next number of years, the tax credit which we put in place through the budget process for new infrastructure in the years ahead, and when times are tough between the union and the employer, we have managed to pull the two groups together to continue the negotiations and move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

EDUC.: TEACHERS - SHORTAGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Approximately 950 teachers and administrators are expected to leave the Nova Scotia education system by the end of July this year. As of this week, over 800 members of the NSTU have given their notice to retire. One-third of them are in the Halifax Regional School Board. Years of cuts in education spending has resulted in poor job prospects for teaching graduates and forced many of our best young teachers to go west or south in search of full-time jobs.

My question for the Minister of Education is this, I would like to ask what measures the minister has put in place to ensure there will be enough teachers in our schools next September?

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HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I'm pleased to say that we have not decreased, and in fact we have increased our spending in the Education budget, increased that by 6 per cent this year, and there will be no teacher shortages as a result of lack of spending.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, an older, experienced teacher can earn up to $65,000 a year. A young or newly-qualified teacher makes just $37,000 a year. This means that this summer's exodus of teachers from the system will reduce salary costs by approximately $23 million over the course of the next school year. Now $23 million would go a long way towards implementing the Special Education Implementation Review Committee's report, it would go a long way toward hiring an additional 600 teachers that would dramatically reduce class sizes; $23 million would buy a lot of textbooks. My question for the Minister of Education is, can the minister tell us how much of the $23 million her department is planning to claw back from the school boards?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member, I'm pleased to have that list of opportunities for spending money identified, because we, in fact, are targeting any savings back into the education system in programs for our students.

MR. DEXTER: I'll give the minister this, she learns quickly, because that did not approach answering the question, which was how much were they going to claw back. Mr. Speaker, the Deputy Minister of Education is on record as saying, we make an adjustment and they get to keep some of it. So, if the school boards will only get to keep some of the savings that are being made through the early retirement of one in 10 of our most experienced teachers, can the minster tell us where the rest of the money is going to go?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I think if we look at the allocations per board for this upcoming year, you will find they are all increases. Thank you.

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

EDUC.: CHESTER MID. SCHOOL - RENOVATIONS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. Tes Ward has been an educator in Nova Scotia for 37 years and until recently, Mr. Ward was the principal of Chester Middle School. Last week, he announced his resignation. He stated at the time that he was disgusted with the Department of Education and its mishandling of cost overruns and the delays in making promised renovations at his dear school. Minister, why has the $700,000 necessary to complete this year's work on the school not been made available to the Chester Middle School?

[Page 268]

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to congratulate Mr. Ward on 37 years of contribution to education. (Applause) If I could add a second component to that answer, the $700,000 in question will be given to that school's project. It will not suffer.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, when we called the Department of Education on this last week, we were told the Chester Middle School project was costed in 2003 when the Premier at the time promised to deliver the renovations. But the costs have gone up substantially since then, particularly the price of copper. How many other projects are going to run out of money this year? Road work? School construction? Because, in this case, the Department of Education failed to take inflation into consideration when making plans for the school.

So the $700,000 is going to be made available. My question, for this teacher who resigned because of this issue, when will the money be on that door?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, my understanding is that the $700,000 will go towards the project so it will be completed. I have no comment about the date for the principal's resignation.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the Minister of Education, I was contacted by a number of my ex-students who are parents in the community. They expressed their absolute pain in losing their principal - this principal who for so many years had been a leader in their community. Mr. Ward made that decision to go, it was a painful one for him and a painful one for the community. Those parents are not going to be satisfied with soon, soon, very soon. That is not the answer they want. If the $700,000 is available, when will the project get this money and when school opens in September, will those renovations be completed?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, I'm sure Mr. Ward will be missed in his community as all good leaders are missed in their community. The connection to the $700,000, that project, as I've said earlier, will go with the $700,000 from next year's budget into this one. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TPW - CROSSWALK SAFETY

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. In the last six years, there have been over 500 injuries at crosswalks throughout Nova Scotia. Adults and children alike are being harmed at intersections that are supposed to be safe for them to cross the road. My first question to the minister is, why has your government allowed the safety at crosswalks to become a secondary issue when so many lives are at stake?

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HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing forward this very important topic and while I appreciate him bringing it forward, I certainly don't agree that we have treated it as a secondary matter. It's something that I have had active discussions with department personal and we recognize that education is a very important component of this, and we need to ensure that drivers, pedestrians, and everyone who uses our roadways are continuously aware of the need to monitor intersections and monitor identified crosswalks and where necessary, we will improve that identification.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, people have been fatally injured at crosswalks in HRM and across the province, and I might add that some of these crosswalks are not even at major intersections and are located on roads not heavily travelled. So once again, this government is turning a blind eye to public safety. So again, my question to the minister is, what is your government planning to do to ensure safety at our crosswalks and allow people to freely cross at appropriate places without fear of being struck by an oncoming vehicle?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again, I want to emphasize that this is a matter of the utmost priority with the department, not only my department but also the Minister of Justice. His department is involved in this and there is a road safety committee which is actively dealing with this matter and I would remind the honourable member that we recently significantly increased the fines for any offences with respect to crosswalks. This is something that is commanding the highest level of attention within government and within the departments involved.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the Government of Saskatchewan has implemented law requiring all crosswalk lights be red and coloured to make certain that drivers come to a complete stop. In Ontario, they have speed bumps before crosswalks to ensure that motorists slow down well before they reach the pedestrian crossings. So my final question to the minister is, will your government act now and begin legislation to make all crosswalks in Nova Scotia equipped with red warning lights, and perhaps introduce other measures, so we can reduce the senseless injuries and deaths of Nova Scotians?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again, the appropriate set of rules and regulations that should govern crosswalks is something that, as the honourable member has indicated, does not get unanimous agreement across the country. He made reference to one jurisdiction where there were red lights to identify the crosswalks. He made reference to another jurisdiction where speed bumps were employed in order to slow traffic down for crosswalks, and I think that points to the need for us to examine all of the options with respect to safety at crosswalks and ensure that the response we proceed with is appropriate and fits the needs for the safety of Nova Scotians.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

WOMEN, STATUS OF: DISABLED WOMEN - INEQUALITIES ADDRESS

MS. MARILYN MORE: My question is for the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women. In April 2006, the advisory council released a profile on women with disabilities in Nova Scotia. The facts and figures in the report paint a disturbing picture. Women with disabilities have lower employment rates, lower incomes and lower education levels than just about anyone in the province. My question to the minister is, what specific programs is her government undertaking to address these inequalities for women with disabilities?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, yes that report was released and it did show the findings. There are different programs throughout government that we have done as far as education. This government has allowed for 200 seats to be made available to low-income people so that they can qualify for them, and there are other programs through other service providers within government that are available.

[1:00 p.m.]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, recent studies have shown that Nova Scotia's poor continue to be the poorest in all of Canada, so we need to take enormous steps forward in order to improve that situation.

My next question is for the Minister of Community Services. The report shows that a third of women of working age who have a disability have less than high school education. Their median income was only $10,000 in 2001. Because women with disabilities live in poverty and are forced to rely on others, it opens them up to increased risk of physical and sexual abuse. My question to the minister is, why are women with disabilities in Nova Scotia allowed to live in deeper poverty and greater personal risk than other women in our province?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague across the way, I thank her for the opportunity to rise on this very serious issue. Indeed, we have grave concerns, as always, about the well-being of all Nova Scotians; and, certainly, men and women in our society have absolutely the right to feel protected and feel that they are, indeed, of quality and have a quality of life here in Nova Scotia. We have numerous programs which we have implemented to allow for that quality of life to exist in Nova Scotia. We will continue to build on those programs in the days to come. Thank you.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, well I suggest the programs are not working, because the gap between the rich and poor in our province is increasing every single year. Women with disabilities are twice as likely as women without disabilities to struggle with food and security, that is not having enough to eat, and worry about not having enough money to buy essential

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food. We must do more to support all people with disabilities, especially women in Nova Scotia, who are the most disadvantaged across many factors.

My final question for the Minister of Community Services, what measures is her department going to take to address the social and economic vulnerability that women with disabilities live with every day in this province?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again, to my honourable colleague across the way, I appreciate the opportunity to stand today and speak on a couple of programs that we do have across the province that help all individuals - men and women. There is no question that the programs introduced last year, the Direct Family Support, the Alternative Family Support and the Independent Living Support programs, indeed, help Nova Scotians every day in their homes and in their communities.

In May, we introduced a 10-year, long-term sustainable child care plan that will provide support to all Nova Scotian families - men and women, Mr. Speaker. As well, I would point out to all members of this House that for seven years in a row we have experienced a decrease, a decline in the number of income assistance recipients in this province. That is good news for all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: HORTICULTURE - AID

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Agriculture. The heavy rains of the past month and a half are causing hardship for many of our horticultural producers in Nova Scotia. With many producers unable to plant, not to mention poor crops for those who did plant, horticultural producers are facing a very serious year and the outcome may well jeopardize the existence of several farms. The minister may be new to his portfolio, but the damage caused by this Spring's weather would not be new to the minister. My question for the minister is, what plan do you have to address this issue?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out to the honourable member for Hants East that the Department of Agriculture, this government, and the Minister of Agriculture are very concerned. We do understand that farmers are having difficulty with their crops, related to the weather, and the government's Production Insurance Program provides insurance protection for crop producers, with some 33 crops being eligible for insurance. The current conditions, to my knowledge, are all insurable perils. I understand at least 500 farms are covered by insurance.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for an almost answer. I think the minister, to his knowledge, may believe that this is insurable. Frozen water in the form of hail might be insurable but this water is not. I want to say to the minister that we have

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relied too often on programs that don't work, the CASE program is a case in point I might say. Farmers require a made in Nova Scotia program to protect them from incidents just like this. Other provinces have insurance programs that help protect producers from losses incurred from excess water. When will the minister offer long-term plans to help protect farmers in Nova Scotia?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member does raise a very good question. This government is working, as that honourable member knows ,with the farming community especially with the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture. We know that some commodities are having especially difficult times and the government is working towards a long-term solution. We have some short-term measures in place - they were announced in our platform- I won't repeat them at this particular time because again I'm sure that the honourable member knows what those concerns are. I can assure members of this House that the Department of Agriculture, this minister and this government will not turn their backs on the farming community and never has.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I think when the minister goes down the road of saying it never has, I think he should realize there is a wealth of written material to the contrary on that. While the exact dollar value in losses won't be known perhaps for some time, there will be losses to income. Horticulture Nova Scotia and their members can see these losses coming and want to meet with the minister to discuss the problems facing these producers. My question for the minister is, will you meet with Horticulture Nova Scotia?

MR. TAYLOR: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - FECAL OCCULT BLOOD TEST SCREENING PROG.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. During the election campaign the Canadian Cancer Society surveyed all three Parties on issues and initiatives important for the prevention of cancer. One issue that received an identical positive response from all three Parties was the establishment of a fecal occult blood test colorectal screening program which would be a first in this country. Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Health is will the minister honour the commitment made by your Party to establish the fecal occult blood test screening program in this province?

HON. CHRIS D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, quite honestly we've been talking about this for a very long time. We've already engaged Cancer Care Nova Scotia to come up with a set of protocols. This is way before an election that we have said that we would be doing this and we will continue and honour that recommendation.

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MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'll take that as a yes because the minister knows that you made the commitment, you have to honour it. In this province alone there's about 760 new cases of colorectal cancer that will be diagnosed and 330 deaths will occur this year. The test has the ability to increase the survival rate and possibly avoid cancer altogether if this screening program is made available.

Again, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, will he commit then to meeting with the Cancer Care Nova Scotia and its partners soon to begin the process of establishing the fecal occult blood test colorectal screening program in Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is aware, we have asked Cancer Care Nova Scotia which is our arm that deals with cancer and cancer issues within this province. Colorectal cancer has been something that has been underlined by the Canadian Cancer Society and the Nova Scotia Cancer Society as something that is very important to us. This is the issue that we have right now and it is why we've been asking Cancer Care Nova Scotia to come up with recommendations on who should receive the test and what are the protocols to come down. The Throne Speech outlined it very well, that we will be proceeding with this. I can assure the member opposite that we will have a colorectal screening program in the very near future.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, as the minister knows, this test saves lives. It's as important as that. It's easy to make commitments during the course of an election campaign, and I welcome the minister's comments here today that he's going to move ahead. I'm looking for a little bit more of a commitment though, so I will ask the minister, finally, when can we expect, Mr. Minister, to have access to that fecal occult blood test in Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that we've asked Cancer Care Nova Scotia to come back with recommendations by the end of August, something I can share with all members of this House soon thereafter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: AN INCONVENIENT TRUTH - MIN. OPINION

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. The film, which was made by the former U.S. Vice President Al Gore, An Inconvenient Truth has gone into general release and is receiving very positive comment. One prominent film reviewer said, "Every school, college and church group, and everyone else beyond the sway of General Motors, ExxonMobil and the White House should see this movie . . ."

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All MLAs were offered tickets to a premier of this film on June 15th. I did not see the minister there, but I believe he saw the film last night. I wonder, Mr. Speaker, can the minister tell us what he thinks of its main message?

HON. MARK PARENT: It was a good film, Mr. Speaker. What can I say? I enjoyed it.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I guess we can admire the succinct approach, but one of the points that Mr. Gore makes in the film is that if the Arctic icefields melt due to global climate change, there would be a 20-foot rise in sea levels worldwide, even small changes in sea levels would be highly problematic in many parts of Nova Scotia, including the minister's own home constituency. I wonder if the minister will tell us, what is he doing to lead the way in coastal zone planning in order to avoid potentially disastrous consequences from flooding?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, if he saw the same movie that I saw, will also realize that in that movie it illustrated - Mr. Gore illustrated - that some of the most significant steps in dealing with the climate change problems that we're having are spearheaded by the New England States. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, you will be pleased to know that here in the Government of Nova Scotia, through the Gulf of Maine Committee and through other committees, we work very closely with the New England States, being on the forefront of this issue.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, a shorthand way to understand the important problem is to just keep in mind the term 'hot air'. We see a lot of that here. I addressed the minister's attention to the problem of consequences a moment ago, but the main approach should be on the side of prevention. Now, one of the main contributors to global climate change is the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide. I wonder, can the minister point to even one Nova Scotia law that controls the emission of carbon dioxide? (Interruptions)

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, there are so many that it's just hard for me to pick one of them, that's the trouble. I'm going through all of them in my mind, trying to figure out what's the best. I will name one that speaks a lot to me because the honourable member talked about hot air and so it brought the whole issue of wind power. The members in this House may not realize this is a very important point. By next year, one-sixth of the wind power generated in Canada will be generated in the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

[Page 275]

IMMIGRATION.: ESL FUNDING - INCREASE

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Immigration. The Lebanese community in Nova Scotia is celebrating its culture and history this weekend with its annual festival. This festival is a reminder to all of us of how rich and diverse Nova Scotia's culture really is. We wish to preserve and enhance this heritage. A recent ethno-cultural girls' research study undertaken here in Nova Scotia by the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia concludes that language is the key barrier to successful integrating in schools and community by young immigrants.

I would like to table a copy of that study, Mr. Speaker. As the study concludes, there are simply not enough resources for this essential program. English as a Second Language teachers often can work in up to eight schools. A few schools have full-time staff, but the service is limited to specific grades or to a single semester.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, my first question to the minister is, when is the minister going to properly fund school-based ESL teaching to ensure that it meets the needs of new Nova Scotians?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, the Department of Immigration, in the Primary to Grade 12 school system, currently funds in the amount of $250,000 for that program, for English as a Second Language.

MR. PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, the additional funds outlined are not even going to meet the demands for existing ESL teaching. The same survey found that schools with the YMCA Newcomer School Support Program were better able to provide the academic and social supports that immigrant students need to settle in. In the many schools that have neither a YMCA worker nor an ESL teacher, students surveyed had a more difficult time settling in and keeping up academically. My second question to the minister is, how much additional funding does her department intend to spend on settlement services to ensure that our young immigrants can achieve their potential academically and socially? Absolutely nothing?

MR. SPEAKER: No, no.

Order, please.

It's just you're asking a question referring to estimates in terms of the budget. So do you want to rephrase your question?

MR. PREYRA: Does the minister intend to add any more than the $250,000 that she has already outlined?

[Page 276]

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Yes.

MR. PREYRA: Well, my question is to the Minister of Immigration and non answers. Unlike other provinces with high immigration levels, the majority of funding for settlement services in Nova Scotia still comes from federal sources. The 2004 NovaKnowledge report card noted that federal funding dropped over the previous six years due to reduced immigration. This in turn will prevent Nova Scotia from improving its retention rate which at the present time runs at an abysmal 40 per cent. So my final question to the minister is, when is your government going to commit to at least the same level of funding as other provinces, thereby aiding Nova Scotia to attract and retain more immigrants?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, part of the immigration strategy that was put in place recognized the retention rate and set in place a goal so that by 2010 we would increase that goal from our 40 per cent to 70 per cent. We are on track. We have increased in the last two years. We will continue to do that and work with that. Now, there have been budget items passed along here. There definitely is money in the budget. So as soon as that budget is passed, settlement funding will increase in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: EAST. SHORE SHUTTLE - FUNDING

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question would be to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. On March 31st of this year, the Eastern Shore Shuttle, a bus service which linked communities along the Eastern Shore to metro HRM for decades, lost its provincial funding; $40,000 a year from the Community Transportation Assistance Program was discontinued by your government, leaving many residents along the Eastern Shore, as they describe as a lifeline, without the availability of affordable transportation. While the service will continue to operate until the end of September, the future is in jeopardy. My question to the minister is, why did you discontinue funding for this very vital service?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question, because it was also drawn to my attention by the member for Eastern Shore. Last year, that particular operation received a one-time grant of $40,000 so it could continue. I can tell you that because of the inquiry from my colleague, I have brought it into the department and we are re-examining that particular situation.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the truth is, funding for the Community Transportation Assistance Program has not kept up with reality. Increased costs of insurance and fuel, coupled with declining populations in certain parts of our province, are not being considered when it comes to ensuring that these vital community-based transportation links are maintained. Having said all that, the need for transportation remains. For many residents and businesses along the Eastern Shore, the Eastern Shore shuttle is a lifeline. That's how they get to work.

[Page 277]

It's how they get to medical appointments and, actually, in some cases, do their shopping. My question to the minister is, is it possible for your department to partner with the municipal and federal governments in order to ensure this important, vital transportation link is maintained?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, certainly, as I had indicated in the answer to his first question, that the matter is being re-examined in the department. I'm informed that there is some additional federal dollars going to flow to that type of transportation that will be available in the Fall. So what I can tell the honourable member is that the department is examining this issue to see what possibilities exist to ensure that it continues.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, what is needed now is leadership from this government and the minister. The need for this vital transportation link has not gone away and it's critical to the residents along the whole Eastern Shore and into Guysborough County. Will the minister commit to convening a meeting with the municipal representatives, federal representatives, local MLAs, and the residents for the purpose of coming up with a funding solution that can assure the Eastern Shore shuttle continues to operate beyond September 29, 2006?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the member for Eastern Shore has already met with the group of whom the honourable member speaks, and that was why he came to me, as a result of that meeting. As the department takes a further look at this issue, if it's deemed appropriate to have a meeting, certainly such a meeting will be convened.

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

AFRICAN N.S. AFFS.: DEP. MIN. - APPT.

MR. PERCY PARIS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. It has been three years since the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs was first promised. While there is now an office in place, it has little presence in the communities it is supposed to represent and serve. As my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, has raised in this House a number of times, the office doesn't even get the benefit of a deputy minister. It has a CEO and a small complement of staff. My question to the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs is, why hasn't your office taken steps, like appointing a deputy minister, to develop a stronger presence not only in the Black communities, but in all of Nova Scotia?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, we on this side of the House are very proud of the work that the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs has been able to do on behalf of Nova Scotians. The member opposite is very correct. It is a small, but effective office. They do great work and the accomplishments are mounting up daily, and we're very proud of the efforts of our CEO, who is at the deputy level, in the Province of Nova Scotia. So we're very pleased with the work that they are doing on behalf of Nova Scotians.

[Page 278]

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, there have been at least two reports or consultations with African Nova Scotians in the last 10 years, but few, if any, of the recommendations seem to have made it to the office that is supposed to represent the more than 20,000 African Nova Scotians. There are many issues facing African Nova Scotian communities, whether it's in settlements in Monastery, in the Prestons, or in Shelburne. This government recently promised the establishment of a satellite office in Cape Breton. My question to the minister is, has a decision been made about the location of that satellite office in Cape Breton?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, we're very pleased that we will be opening a satellite office in Cape Breton. As a result of this future budget, we will have funding in place so that we can do that. I can tell the member opposite the Department of Transportation and Public Works, which looks after the leasing of space for the Province of Nova Scotia, is actively engaged in finding a location for that office, and I'm very excited we will be able to fulfill that commitment that I made as the minister and move forward in the very near future.

MR. PARIS: Mr. Speaker, the mandate of the office is to strengthen the delivery of services to African Nova Scotians. It is supposed to provide information sessions and updates for all departments and provide community information, activities and workshops - we have seen precious few of these activities initiated by the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs. My final question to the minister is, when will he roll up his sleeves and get to work addressing the real and pressing issues facing African Nova Scotians?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased the member asked that question because it gives me an opportunity to tell the member opposite, and all Nova Scotians, that our office has held hundreds and hundreds of meetings and consultations with communities, myself included. I can tell you that very few members - I've seen no members opposite - attended those sessions that we've held. We've held them all across this province and they've been very well attended and they've been very helpful to us as government, so we can move forward with the development of this new office and I'm very proud of what we've done.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

HEALTH - SMALL OPTIONS BEDS: FREEZE - TIME FRAME

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Western Shelburne County is long overdue for a nursing home in this area, I believe the punchline is 30 years, but there are also many seniors who are not quite ready for nursing home care but need a little help with their daily living. The operators of Island Breeze Inn on Cape Sable Island have been trying to get a licence to operate a community-based small options home, but so far they have been met with delays and red tape. This would help fill a need in our community, so I ask the Minister of Health, how much longer will the freeze on small option beds continue in this province?

[Page 279]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member clearly articulates that Cape Sable Island does require a nursing home, which is why this government has taken over, from Community Services, Bayside and will be expanding that by 40 beds. As he talks about the community-based options homes, I do believe that's under the responsibility of Community Services, so I'll ask him to ask the question again to the minister responsible.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, these two women both have nursing home backgrounds and they want to provide quality care for some of their local citizens. The demand for such placement is very high. In the past, applicants from western Shelburne County have not been able to get licensed beds at all. Most seniors can't afford to live in such a facility unless there is some help with the cost, which means the beds must be licensed. I ask the Minister of Health, or the appropriate minister, what assurances can be given that applicants such as the Island Breeze Inn will be given a fair and timely review of their proposals?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, at this point I'm not aware of the proposal from the facility the member speaks of. I can say that as we go down the continuing care strategy and do announce the 826 beds and get those functioning, so that all communities will have the opportunity to apply to have those beds in their communities. Hopefully, we will ultimately be having good discussions with businesses just like that.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the right care in the right place at the right time is a critical part of keeping our seniors safe and healthy. Home care goes only so far before a higher level of care is needed, but that isn't always a full-fledged nursing home bed.

My final question, why have these small options applications been overlooked for so long, when they are a very reasonable option to keep seniors healthy in our rural community?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, quite honestly, as we go along in the continuing care strategy, we are looking at Level 1, Level 2 type care for our seniors. I also have to say that there are a number of aids that we, as government, can put in place to keep seniors where they belong, which is in their homes - more home care services, more changes in programs to make changes to their homes in order to keep them there longer, more access to services. I think this government on this side of the House looks at that being the option that Nova Scotians and seniors in Nova Scotia do want.

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

HEALTH: DIGBY - PHYSICIAN LICENCE

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the honourable Minister of Health. The residents of Digby are looking for answers as to why close to 3,000 patients

[Page 280]

were left without their doctor. On May 24th, with patients waiting and a full schedule of appointments, a physician in the community learned he had lost his licence. Practicing under a defined licence requires both a mentor and a sponsor, both physicians acting in these capacities withdrew their support. No one would tell the people what or why this happened. All they know is that they lost a popular doctor who had filled the gap that existed for a long time. My question for the minister, do you think it was appropriate that a doctor lose his licence just like that, without any explanation as to why?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite is well aware, we can't speak of any particular case. I can say that decisions of licensing are those of the College of Surgeons and Physicians and are ones that we have no hand in. It is unfortunate that that kind of service would be withdrawn from the area of Digby but one that is not in our purview.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, 3,000 patients no longer have a doctor and no one has stepped in to help. One would think that if there was a problem that patients would not be left yet again without a doctor. Residents have started petitions in hope that someone will listen since no one has listened so far. Who has ultimate responsibility to the people to explain why this has happened? Is it the College of Physicians and Surgeons, is it the DHA or is it the Minister of Health?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that when it comes to licences and defined licences and those types of things, it is the responsibility of the College of Physicians and Surgeons. In this particular case, I think you have to really weigh the issue of patient protection versus access. I have to say that I am sure the DHA is working its best to recruit somebody to fill that position, and in the meantime, while this case is being reviewed, to make sure that we have a fill-in physician within that area who can take up even the extra slack that we have within that system.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, there are residents who have appointments with specialists in Halifax made by the doctor who lost his defined licence. They no longer have a physician in the community to send the results to. My question, will the minister make contact with the appropriate authorities to determine why this has happened and ensure that these patients are assigned to a physician so that they continue to receive care?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite, the honourable member for Digby, to say that I'm sure that our provincial recruiter is working hard to make sure that the full physician compliment will be in the Digby area. I will also commit to the member opposite that I will make sure that the district health authority is aware and that there is a backup plan for the residents and the patients within that area.

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

[Page 281]

HEALTH - WAIT TIMES: NURSE PRACTITIONERS - EMPLOY

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the government continues to ignore a serious problem in health care. Wait times in our emergency rooms are growing every day. Nova Scotians who find themselves in emergency rooms are enduring excessive wait times. It's not unheard of for someone to wait eight and even 12 hours to see a doctor in an emergency room here in our province. The government doesn't have to look far to find a solution - nurse practitioners in our province are underutilized. My question to the Minister of Health is, when will your government utilize nurse practitioners in our emergency rooms so they can start to address the problems of wait times in our ERs?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can happily say that this side of the House and this government has done everything possible that it can to make sure that we have nurse practitioners in the area. (Applause) I have to say that we will be having nurse practitioners where we need them across the system to ensure that they deal with the cases across this province. I can also say that we're very happy to introduce a piece of legislation that will help this practice for these nurse practitioners and something that we will continue to expand, because we do value the use of nurse practitioners in this province. (Interruptions)

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, sad, sad, sad . . .

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

The honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture on an introduction.

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to draw your attention and all members of the House to the east gallery. We have in the gallery his worship Mayor Leonard MacDonald from the Town of Mulgrave. I'd ask Leonard to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to all visitors in the gallery today.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 282]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and that the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is an unusual part of the House this procedure that allows me now to speak for 15 minutes on a topic of my choosing. I'm going to take advantage of that to put on the record some issues from my constituency for which I have no other forum to put on the record. I'm going to address the series of issues that have arisen in my constituency.

The first one I raised in Question Period yesterday concerning a long-term care facility called the Glades Lodge that is in Halifax Fairview - a 123-bed facility. The problem with the Glades Lodge is that it was built in 1962 and it has not had any extensive renovations since then, and a study recently commissioned by the Department of Health indicates that all the mechanical systems in that facility are at the end of their useful lives. There is a long list and expensive list of renovations that need to be done so we are faced with two options: either an extensive renovation of the existing building or a new building on adjoining land . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: But instead of addressing this issue, which this study commissioned not by the owners of the building but by the Department of Health lays out very clearly, is that the status quo is no longer an option. We cannot continue with the Glades Lodge in the condition that it is in. It is a disservice to the residents, it is a disservice to their families, it is a disservice to the staff and also to the owners of that building. One of the interesting things about the building is that many of the staff live in the residential neighborhood immediately around the Glades Lodge, so this very much is a community thing. This institution is tucked away in a residential neighborhood and if one didn't know one's way there, one might not ever come across it, because it is chucked right in the heart of a residential neighbourhood. Many of the staff live around it. The other residents of the neighbourhood have had it as a good neighbour for over 40 years. So this is very important to everybody in that part of my constituency, not to mention the family members of the residents there who, of course, come from all over.

The pleas of the owners to have the Department of Health make some decision, any decision about the future of the Glades Lodge has been met with a deafening silence. The time for that silence is over, Mr. Speaker. The time for action is now. Just to give an example of how the Department of Health has treated the owners, the Department of Health commissioned a study last year, 2005, and then refused to give the results to the owners. This was after extensive review of the condition of the building, and the owners had to apply under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to get the department's study of their own facility. That is no way to deal with this issue.

[Page 283]

It is very important that whether it is an extensive renovation or a new building that it be at or near the existing site. I know, Mr. Speaker, that all of the staff support a renewal of the Glades Lodge, but since many of them live in the neighbourhood, many of them support it only on the condition that the existing building is renewed or rebuilt on adjoining land, because there is a large tract of empty land right beside the building. If the owners only had the go-ahead from the Department of Health for a new building, they could purchase the necessary land. The best option, the least disruptive option, would a new building on the adjoining land.

So I plead with the Minister of Health, it is time to give the owners and the staff and the residents and their families an answer. Silence is no longer good enough. We need to know what the future holds for the Glades Lodge, and we need to know soon.

Mr. Speaker, the next issue I want to address involves a public highway, a provincial highway that runs through my constituency. Again, I raised it in Question Period yesterday, but this forum gives me an opportunity to address it at a little more length. Northwest Arm Drive is a provincial highway running from Main Avenue in Fairview south to the Old Sambro Road. On that road is a very dangerous intersection, the intersection with Walter Havill Drive to the east, and J. Albert Walker Drive to the west.

How dangerous is that road, Mr. Speaker? The collision rate at that intersection is double the provincial average. There are two large condominium buildings looking directly over the intersection, and many of the residents can see, every day, every week, every month, the collisions and the near-misses at this intersection. It's impossible, really, to explain why without actually seeing the intersection, but it has to do with the curvature of the roads, it has to do with the terrain, it has to do with the turning arcs, it has to do with the sequence of lights, but when you put it all together, it creates a very dangerous intersection.

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation and Public Works staff, for whom I have the greatest of respect, acknowledge the problem. They know there's a problem. In fact, at a public meeting that I called a year ago, now a little over a year ago, the Department of Transportation and Public Works staff explained exactly what needed to be done in order to fix the intersection. They know. They even have some preliminary plans drawn up about how to make that intersection safer. They told the public meeting that all that was missing was funding.

[1:45 p.m.]

The public meeting was held a few months into last fiscal year, so they said, okay, we understand the problem, we know how to fix it, it's just that we don't have any money this fiscal year. We'll try to get it for the next fiscal year. Indeed, true to their word, departmental staff identified it as a regional priority in their budget plans for 2006-07. This, in the budget plan of the government that claims it's embarking on the largest road building project in 40

[Page 284]

years. You'd think that a government that was really doing that could find a few hundred thousand to modify the most dangerous intersection in western HRM.

Departmental staff, when asked, could not think of a single other intersection in their regional area, covering all of western HRM, with a collision rate higher than the Walter Havill intersection. They could not think of a single one with a higher collision rate. I'm looking right across to the member whose constituency is also in western HRM, and I'm telling that member this intersection is the most dangerous in the entire district. Yet one week before election day we were informed that there was no funding for these modifications in the 2006-07 budget.

I don't understand how that could be, Mr. Speaker. Who is making the decisions? It's not the departmental staff because they've identified it as a priority. It's not the residents because they've been asking for this for a long time, and every single resident of the Stoneridge subdivision - the people who have no choice but to enter and leave their neighbourhood through this one intersection - knows how dangerous it is, and they are pleading with me, they are pleading with the department to make the modifications. Yet it is our understanding that there is no funding for this in the 2006-07 budget.

Mr. Speaker, there is enough leeway in the departmental budget to provide funding for the necessary modifications. This is a critical matter of safety for the travelling public and, in particular, for the residents of my constituency who have to use that intersection each and every day to enter and leave their neighbourhood.

Mr. Speaker, I want to take a few minutes to talk about another issue which is always present in my constituency, about which I'm always starkly reminded at election time, and that is the level of poverty in my constituency and in Halifax Regional Municipality. We can't escape it. We can't hide from it. We can't pretend it's not there. It is made more difficult by rising rents in the HRM and the inadequacy of the shelter allowance offered by the Department of Community services which will not provide for safe and affordable housing for people who for one reason or another find themselves relying on the Department of Community Services for their income.

The food bank that served my constituency had to close down last Fall, Mr. Speaker, and there's a long story behind why it had to close down. It had to do with the safety of the building that had housed it for the previous 12 or so years. There's a very dedicated group of volunteers who keep that food bank going and are looking forward to the very likely reopening of the food bank sometime this Fall at the Salvation Army on Gesner Street, at the top of Fairview. I want to, today, thank the Salvation Army for opening their doors to this food bank so that it can reopen, but that will be one full year since this very large food bank serving all of the west end of Halifax, the old City of Halifax, has had to close its doors. Anybody who thinks that there is not widespread poverty in this area just needs to come to this food bank to see how many hundreds of families rely on it every month just to put food on the table.

[Page 285]

Mr. Speaker, one of the other issues that I have become acutely conscious of in the last week or so, because two very similar cases have suddenly come to my attention, is the abysmal lack of services for people who for reasons of mental illness are unable to care for themselves. In the last week I've dealt with two very, very sad and difficult cases, people living in Fairview who are in their own homes, but in the judgment of their relatives are absolutely unable to care for themselves because of a deterioration of their mental condition. These families have tried everything, every avenue that they can think of, in order to have these people declared incompetent, to have them taken into care because they are a danger to themselves first and foremost.

Mr. Speaker, they cannot care for themselves. Every time their relatives go into their homes- one lady was saying to me yesterday her heart is in her mouth because she doesn't know what she's going to find. The man threatened suicide repeatedly, and still it doesn't meet the threshold for being taken into care, or for adult protection to kick in. I don't understand this and when I started looking into it, I was told this is normal, this is routine, that there are dozens, hundreds of other cases just like them in HRM. The answer families are given, or the friends, or the neighbours, or whoever is looking into it, is that they don't meet the threshold for incompetency. But the real answer is that there are no services for these people and the people in the Department of Health who are responsible for these things set the bar so high because they know that if the people got over the bar, there are no services to offer them.

Mr. Speaker, surely these are among the saddest and most difficult cases that have come to my attention in the five years I have been an MLA, and I have sen a lot of sad and difficult cases. I wanted to put that on the record today because these families - not for lack of trying and lack of advocacy - they have tried everything. I have nothing to suggest to them. Everything that I could possibly suggest to them, they have already done. Yet there are no services, they don't meet the threshold. Their hearts are in their mouths every time they open the door because they don't know what they are going to find.

Mr. Speaker, I also want to mention Long Lake Provincial Park in my constituency, which is an issue I have raised in this House before. I am pleased to say that after many years of there being no management plan, of the Department of Natural Resources essentially keeping Long Lake Provincial Park a secret because they didn't want people to go in because they had no money to develop and manage the park, that steps are being taken to develop a management plan, led by, I must say, a citizen's group. One public meeting has been held, another public meeting is coming up on July 11. I commend to the attention of the Department of Natural Resources all of the community effort that is going into developing this park which is shared between myself and the member for Halifax Atlantic and the member for Timberlea-Prospect. This is a jewel in our midst. Very people know that in my urban constituency there is a very large, very beautiful wilderness park and it is long past time that there was a management plan for that park and we look forward to that happening.

[Page 286]

Mr. Speaker, those are a few of the issues that I wanted to take this opportunity to put on the record since, as I said, there are few other opportunities to speak in the way I just have. There are many other issues I hope to raise inside and outside the House. The election afforded me the opportunity, again, to feel that sense of renewal and energy that comes with talking to a lot of people, finding out what is on their mind, what kinds of issues they want me, as their elected representative, to bring to this House. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[1:54 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[5:59 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Cecil Clarke, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made progress and begs leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have reached the moment of interruption. The topic for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South:

"Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Government allocate the necessary resources and assistance to help work towards finding a solution for the closure of the Digby Ferry."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

[Page 287]

DIGBY FERRY CLOSURE - GOV'T. (N.S.): SOLUTION - ASSIST

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know how much more we can debate on the Digby Ferry. It has been debated quite a little. It has been well questioned. But we do have a problem, we have a problem for tourism in this province, we have a problem for businesses in this province that need a ferry service in western Nova Scotia. In 1998, that ferry service carried 190,000 people to this province, and that's a lot of people. It's down 25 per cent these past few years because tourism is down.

The Digby Ferry system also employs 130 people directly and 30 people indirectly. If this ferry closes, that's a lot more jobs that are going out of western Nova Scotia. Also, there are several businesses that may possibly fold up, because they have to ship a product across the bay to Saint John, which goes to the Boston markets. If they're forced to use other methods to get that product there, it's certainly going to cost business more and possibly cost this province more to transport that. With a ferry boat here, whatever way you want to look at it, I believe it would be cheaper to subsidize a ferry rather than charge the consumer more for a product out of western Nova Scotia, to the markets of the United States.

The President of the Bay Ferries has quoted the government, and they said that the government knew from the ongoing discussions with them about the challenges that that business faced, quite a while back. Clearly the government has known for some time about this closure. Hopefully it's not too late to find a workable solution to that. We have until October 31st of this year. The solution needs to be found, and it has to be found right away.

I have quotes in here from businesses, too, Mr. Speaker. Yarmouth-based Terry LeBlanc of Eastside Fisheries told the media that without the ferry it would be a challenge for fleets in the region to deliver fresh product, like lobsters, out of western and southwestern Nova Scotia. The alternative, by road, would increase costs, doubling delivery time and money. Many companies such as DB Kenney Fisheries, of where I live, use the ferry service to truck their lobsters across into the U.S. markets. Glenn Wadman, their manager, was quoted as saying that it will be more expensive in fuel and time to get to the Boston market, and with a longer trip you have a higher potential for mortality in lobsters.

Mr. Speaker, the Digby and surrounding counties will take a huge economic blow if the government does not find ways toward getting the ferry back up and running. Once we find out what Bay Ferries problems are, I believe we can all start working towards that solution. One of the major problems with the ferry system is the price of fuel. This ferry consumes 24,000 litres of fuel a day. Bay Ferries has stated that their fuel bill has gone up over 70 per cent in the last few years. Another problem we have is our roads in western Nova Scotia, which they have quoted as being so, and I know is so, and the people who live there and who have travelled on this ferry, a lot of them may not even come back because of the road situation there. Along the road where the ferry terminal is, the alders have grown up so bad in that area that signs cannot even be read. People last year took it upon themselves to cut these alders down. Once they get

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out through this traffic jam of this tiny road from this ferry service, people from all over the United States and Upper Canada, they get out and find that Highway No. 101 from Weymouth to Digby has not been completed, not started. It says that Highway No. 101 is there and it isn't.

When they come up through the Valley to come to Halifax to spend their dollars, they have to follow a slow line of traffic, at times at 40 miles per hour on Highway No. 101 because of a lack of passing lanes for 75 kilometres. That's the road problems down there with trying to bring ferries into western Nova Scotia. The Digby ferry is an important part of tourism to western Nova Scotia and of all Nova Scotia. It is going to place a further strain on the already suffocated industry in southwestern and western Nova Scotia if this ferry closes. It will be extremely difficult to double tourism by 2012 if we allow the ferry services to close around this province and that's what was stated by the Premier when he was Minister of Tourism, that we were going to double our tourism. How can we double that if we're taking the transportation away that brings them?

The federal government has got to play a role with this. It is essential that this government encourages their federal counterparts to come to the table and work towards a meaningful solution to make sure that this ferry service stays alive and well in western Nova Scotia and for all this province. Mr. Speaker, it would be interesting to find some other possible avenues to explore on this issue. For example, the cost of fuel is part of our problem. What other methods can we look at to help alleviate the price of fuel? What about the taxes the federal government and the provincial government put on this fuel to help make this ferry service keep going?

There are ferry services all over this country. Can we examine whether or not they have the same problems that we do? If so, what are these other services doing to resolve these issues? We have to explore all possible options with the federal government in terms of seeking financial help. What kind of help can we look at in terms of economic development? The government has pledged to invest in rural economic development, and this certainly falls under that area. In western Nova Scotia, Digby and Cornwallis, we have two industrial parks down there, one underutilized and one not used at all. I believe if the Department of Economic Development is serious about growing the economy of rural Nova Scotia, that western Nova Scotia would be a great place for manufacturing anything that needs to be exported to two of our greatest markets in this country which is three and a half hours across the Bay of Fundy. A five and a half hour boat trip could be from to Gloucester to Digby, where 15 million people sit and wait for our manufactured goods.

Mr. Speaker, I believe there are lots of ways this government can work to help Bay Ferries not only to survive, but also to grow. By doing so, we can prosper this whole province, not only Bay Ferries. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

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HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis for bringing this forward. It's a very important issue, and as a government we are very concerned. We are in the process of gathering the necessary information in talking with the right people. The decision has been taken by the board of directors for Bay Ferries, the shareholders, a private company, to cease the ferry operation at the end of October. The reasons given are high fuel costs, the high cost of insurance, the rising Canadian dollar, and a sharp decline in American tourists. These are being felt throughout not only Nova Scotia but throughout Canada and North America.

There has been a 26 per cent decline in passenger traffic on the ferry service in the past five years, as was mentioned by my honourable friend, from 190,000 to 140,000 passengers. The vessel, the Princess of Acadia, is 35 years old. She's getting probably close to the end of her time and requires an extensive maintenance program. Bay Ferries has crunched the numbers and concluded it can no longer operate the service and make a profit. They can no longer provide a business plan to close the gap on the current loss. Ending this service will impact, I believe, on approximately 100 employees, approximately 30 of them in Nova Scotia and 70 of them in New Brunswick. The fisheries industry, forestry, and general freight make up the bulk of the commercial traffic. The primary impact, of course, I think would be felt, as the honourable member said on several occasions, by the fisheries and, in particular, the lobster industry.

There are other spinoff effects as well, Mr. Speaker, and also the Digby Pines Hotel, the Upper Clements Park, that provides a service actually via the ferry for people coming from New Brunswick on a day and overnight basis. It's important to note though that Bay Ferries has not requested any financial support from the province. Nonetheless, we look at all the options available. We need to include the municipal and provincial governments on both sides of the surface as well as the federal government, and we have to get UNSM and our municipal units to engage their New Brunswick counterparts.

It was the federal government that provided this service for many years until it was privatized and I believe I'm not far off if I say that in those days they provided a $17 million subsidy annually to keep that service up and running. I should say this is a vital interprovincial transportation link and the federal government has to at least share some of the responsibility. The Premier and the Minister of Economic Development have met with Peter MacKay, Nova Scotia's representative at the federal table. I met last evening with municipal representatives from the Digby area and, Mr. Speaker, is it okay to name some of the names of those people?

Mr. Speaker, some of the people present were Jean Melanson, warden of the District of Clare; Peter Newton, warden of Annapolis County; James Thurber, warden of the Municipality of the District of Digby; also the spokesperson for all of the municipal units in the affected area, Frank Mackintosh, mayor of the Town of Digby; Ron Gullon, mayor of the Town of Bridgetown; and John Kinsella, mayor of the Town of Annapolis. Unfortunately, the mayor of Middleton was unable to make the meeting. Also at the meeting were the MLA for

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Annapolis; my honourable colleague across the table from Digby-Annapolis; and also the Deputy Speaker, the member for Clare. Also attending were myself and the Minister of Economic Development.

I don't think there's any doubt that all the levels of government have to be involved in trying to find a solution. We have to include the provincial and municipal governments in New Brunswick, and we need the municipal governments to engage the City of Saint John and also to engage the provincial Government of New Brunswick. Whatever options are available, we have to determine what is affordable. Some are calling for an operating subsidy, but we all need to have the facts and all the information before making any decision. We need to make sure we have talked to all the right people before making any decision on this particular issue. We are all working hard to try to find a solution. From a tourism perspective, this is a $1 billion-plus industry. It employs 33,000 people in this province. Transportation links to the tourism industry we realize are critical.

Mr. Speaker, last year we learned on a very short notice that the Scotia Prince would no longer run between Yarmouth and Portland. We found out at the beginning of the tourist season, and we know that it had an immediate effect on tourism not just in the region but across the province. While the news from Bay Ferries last week is not good news, we appreciate learning about it early so that we can have time to work together, as we're doing now, to find a solution that will not affect this tourist season which is just shifting into high gear.

I believe this is indicative, Mr. Speaker, of the relationships and partnerships we have with many operators in the tourism sector and the operators like Bay Ferries. We've been working closely with Bay Ferries over the last year in re-establishing the link between Yarmouth and Portland.

Over the long May weekend, Tourism, Culture and Heritage staff in partnership with Bay Ferries and many tourism operators staged a huge floating trade show on board the Cat in the Boston Harbor. I'm pleased to say that we had over 14,000 New Englanders attend that trade show. It was a great success.

Strengthening transportation links such as our ferry connections is just one way of developing tourism. Whether it's by air, ferry, rail or road, any visitor to Nova Scotia needs a pathway that's easy to find, book and access. We're building close co-operation with the Halifax International Airport Authority, Via Rail, CanJet and also our friends in the ferry industry as well.

Whether it's new pre-customs at the airport with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of improvements on our highways, roads, bridges announced in yesterday's budget, as a matter of fact, it's helping our tourists to travel through our province. As I mentioned, strengthening transportation links is just one of the many elements of our tourism plan.

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The 2006 plan covers a broad range of activities including improving transportation links, developing key attractions, exploring new markets, preserving our natural seacoast and continually investing in research.

Marketing is another important element in the plan as I said on many occasions and in a couple of questions in the House. This year's budget includes another $600,000 for the tourism market. We've stepped up our marketing in the last year to address the trends and challenges within our global tourism industry. In response to the growing trend to plan and book vacations on-line, for example, we're continuing to enhance our Internet presence. We're advertising on popular Web sites, such as Travelocity, MSN, Sympatico, partnering with well-known magazines to ensure our Nova Scotia image is getting out in the media. We're taking full advantage of festivals and promotions throughout the province and also throughout Western Canada.

These are just a few of the things we're doing to promote tourism and I can assure you that the staff in the department and operations throughout the province are working hard to bring more visitors to Nova Scotia this year.

You can be assured that we are working as hard as we possibly can in partnership with others to promote our tourism industry and to address the challenges such as the recent news from Bay Ferries. I am confident that through our friends here in the House, our friends in the municipal government and our friends in the federal government, we can find a solution to this issue of the Bay Ferries. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I should mention that I'm going to be sharing my time with my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, our Tourism, Culture and Heritage Critic. As Transportation Critic, I certainly welcome the opportunity to have a few minutes to talk about this veery serious issue. As the previous two members have indicated, it is a major concern, not just to southwestern Nova Scotia, but really to the whole Province of Nova Scotia.

This ferry between Digby and Saint John is a very vital and important part of our infrastructure and a vital link between our two provinces and, really, far beyond that. It's really an essential service. It's absolutely important between Digby and Saint John and between our two provinces. It's just as important as any stretch of the Trans Canada Highway or our air service or train service. Can you imagine if all of a sudden a 50 kilometre section of the Trans Canada Highway was taken out? This is a very similar analogy in that it's just as vital to have that section of Trans Canada Highway as it is to have this ferry service between these two communities. I can't imagine losing a section of Highway No. 101 or 102 or 104 and this ferry service is also vital.

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The Princess of Acadia has been running there between these two communities for decades and it has been established for locals and for tourists, for freight for businesses, as I said, it's an essential service. It brings to mind a very similar problem that we had in my county, Pictou County, we also have a ferry service there operated by Bay Ferries. It runs between Wood Islands and Caribou in Pictou County. A little over a year ago, the very same thing happened in that there was the threat of a closure or disruption of service. They were going to take away one of the two ferries - we have both the Confederation and Holiday Island and at least one of those was going to go- and probably a shorter season, instead of going up to December 20th, it was threatened to end around the end of October. In this case, the community rallied, there was public meetings on both sides of the Northumberland Strait, both in P.E.I. and in Nova Scotia. It involved groups such as the chamber of commerce, each of the municipality's elected MLAs and MPs, public meetings, tourist associations, everyone came together and said this would be a tremendous loss of our service, and it's not right. So I am encouraged to see there is involvement by elected officials and other community groups in the southwestern Nova Scotia area.

As mentioned earlier, there certainly is a large impact if we do lose this service - 100 direct jobs on the Princess of Acadia, 30 subcontractors, but it's going to affect a whole lot more than the people who are directly employed on these ferries - Christmas tree growers, other forestry operators, fish processors have been mentioned, live lobster producers. It's going to be a much longer route, at least an additional 13 hours to go out around Truro and back across the mainland into New Brunswick to get to the New England market. Just as an example of how that's going to impact on one fish processor was quoted in The Chronicle Herald here a couple of days ago by Glenn Wadman of DB Kenney Fisheries. This is the way he described it -it's bad news, bad news, bad news, and more bad news. It doesn't sound very good and it certainly is going to be a major impact on the fish packing industry.

It's going to impact on our tourism industry. Our Tourism, Culture and Heritage Critic is going to talk about that in a few minutes. As was mentioned, the spinoff to the restaurants, service stations, bed and breakfasts, gift stores, other retailers and so on, you can imagine it's a whole lot more jobs than the direct 130.

So I'm encouraging the province to continue discussions, continue negotiations with our local wardens and mayors and elected representatives, with similar people from New Brunswick and, certainly, with the federal government. Really, we cannot afford, in any respect, to lose this service, it's a vital economic link to the rest of the continent. I would encourage both our provincial and federal government to do everything in their power to keep and save this service, shutdown is not an option.

With those few remarks, Mr. Speaker, I'd like to pass and share my time here with our Tourism, Culture and Heritage Critic, the member for Dartmouth East.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

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MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand here this evening to talk about an issue that is very important to tourism in Nova Scotia. The shutdown of this ferry between Digby and Saint John would not only put 100 employees out of work directly and 30 people out of work indirectly - this is a vital link. The Princess of Acadia passengers, in fact, peaked at about 190,000 in 1998, and they have dropped since then by about 25 per cent. There already is an issue with tourism in the province, and this is just another nail in it's coffin, if I can be as blunt to say that.

In fact, the ferry service there has been blaming their loss revenues on factors like reduced traffic and the high costs of fuel in Nova Scotia and, of course, across Canada. The shutdown of the ferry will hurt rural areas in southwestern Nova Scotia the most. There's a collection of paper on this one issue already. Bed and breakfast organizations talking about the loss of their overnight accommodations, and the museum in that area that relies on tourists coming and going from the ferry. In fact, they're not going to continue with their plans, they're on hold as far as signage goes to bring people into that spot, because they don't know if there's going to be a ferry there unless something happens in the interim.

Let's make it very clear, this ferry service is vital for the province's growth in tourism and, in the end run, it is going to force motorists to make a route which is a journey that we don't need them to be making. If we have higher costs of fuel, this is going to put people off in travelling by land, when they can hop on the ferry, plus the time that's consumed.

The tourism numbers, using Digby as an entry point, have been declining in the recent years, Mr. Speaker. In fact, from 2000, they were up around 41,700, and around 2004, they were down to 35,200. As I keep repeating, it's on the decline, and this is yet another way of quickly putting it into its grave.

So where is the government's plan for this ferry? Well, there doesn't appear to be a contingency plan at all, even though we're hearing that the government indeed knew about this for quite a while. The Premier has ruled out that there will be a provincial subsidy. The new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, in fact, stated on July 4th that with an increase in marketing, we're going to move forward, put our best foot forward in Atlantic Canada, but they're projecting tourism numbers to double by 2012, and if this is the first step in making that happen this year, well, then we're on the road to destruction here. It's not a good start for a tourism season, and we've got four months to make that correction.

I did receive, in fact, a CD-ROM version from the government on what they're going to do in tourism, and it doesn't contain a plan that is suitable for Nova Scotia. Let's see if they come up, in fact, with a plan to save this ferry. We'll see what the meeting held, when we hear back, I guess, from the Premier. Hopefully we'll hear back from him in a couple of days.

Yes, tourism is a sustainable industry with room for tremendous expansion, that does has an impact on everyone in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I would end with that. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: The time for late debate has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I was going to suggest that the House would recess until 6:30 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will recess until 6:30 p.m.

[6:27 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:30 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The House will resume business.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 31.

Bill No. 31 - Financial Measures (2006) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise and speak for a few minutes on the Financial Measures (2006) Bill. This is, fundamentally, the same Financial Measures Bill that was introduced earlier, but which we did not have a chance to vote on, except for two changes that are significant. I would like to speak to those two changes initially. One, of course, is a change that simply embodies, in the Public Service Act, the changes for the creation of the new departments announced by the government. It simply puts into the Public Service Act those departmental changes.

The other change, of course, I think is an important change, and it's a matter of some public urgency, which is the issue on the Environment Act with respect to ministerial orders. In particular there has been a decision of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia that has made the enforcement of ministerial orders very difficult. Ministerial orders are a very important weapon in the ability of the Department of Environment and Labour in dealing with certain issues

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around the protection of our environment. As a result of that Supreme Court ruling, the House is being asked to make an amendment to the legislation in question to make it clear that ministerial orders are enforceable as previously had been issued.

Those are the two significant changes. There were some other fine-tuning kinds of changes in language but are not substantive. Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to remember that the Financial Measures (2006) Bill is simply the vehicle by which the government carries forward the plan that is our budget plan. The House had an opportunity to hear that budget plan the other day, and that budget plan, I believe, is a good plan for Nova Scotians, a good plan and one which will benefit many Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, there is obviously a myriad of changes in that legislation. A very significant one, of course, is the change that embodies the change in the elimination of the HST, and is in actual fact a rebate program on the HST so that Nova Scotians who pay HST on home energy sources, home heating fuel and electricity will receive that full provincial portion of 8 per cent back. Obviously other important changes are changes to the Income Tax Act which will embody the government's announcements in as far as the personal income tax. For example, and again these are just examples, they are changes that would include the increase of $1,000 over four years of the basic personal exemption; it would include the increase in the credits, the tax credits that Nova Scotians are entitled to use, at the same rate of increase as the basic personal exemption; and of course will embody full indexation at that point, when the four years is up. Those are important changes.

Another one, of course, is the large corporations capital tax, a very important change, that will be clear, as well, that tax will be eliminated. Another one, of course, which is a very important change to the corporations capital tax is the making sure the League Savings and Mortgage, which is in fact a compendium of companies represented by Nova Scotia Credit Unions, remains exempt from that tax.

There are a number of other good measures in that bill, but I won't take the House's time. I believe it's a good bill and one which, as it carries forward the budget which has wide support in the House, is well worth supporting.

Before I finish my remarks, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge the presence in our gallery of the Member of Parliament for South Shore-St. Margaret's, Mr. Gerald Keddy, who's here to enjoy the proceedings today and watch a number of us who we're very familiar with - and one person in particular he's very fond of. He is also my favourite Member of Parliament, but not in quite the same way. With that, I move second reading of the Bill No. 31.

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our special guests in the gallery who are with us here today.

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The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, tonight I had a choice - I could stay in the Legislature on a July evening and talk about the Financial Measures (2006) Bill in all its wonderful detail or I could have gone out to celebrate my birthday. (Applause) Thank you.

[The members sang Happy Birthday.]

MR. STEELE: Thank you. My choice is clear. Here I am. Here I stand with my very best friends in the world. (Interruptions) I'm really touched.

In all seriousness, I do want to take a few minutes to talk about our Party's reaction to the Financial Measures (2006) Bill. As all members of the House will know, this is a special piece of legislation. It is part of the budget, it is therefore a confidence measure - were this bill to be defeated or even amended against the government's will, it would be a matter of confidence in the government and the government would fall.

Therefore, I will say - and I don't think it will come as a surprise to members of the House - that our Party will support the bill on second reading for the same reasons that I spoke about in my address in reply to the budget. This is not the time to defeat a budget. It's not the time to defeat the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, it's not the time for government to fall. The people of Nova Scotia want stability, they have the right to expect stability in their government for the foreseeable future. This bill does largely enact the budget measures already announced by the government.

There had been in the past a tendency on the part of the government, because this was a confidence measure, to put in a number of provisions that had no business being in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill. Some years, half the bill had nothing to do with the government's budget. I'm pleased to see that this year the government has pared it down to one or two matters.

The Minister of Finance referred in his second reading speech . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. There's too much chatter in the Chamber. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview on his birthday address; on Bill No. 31.

MR. STEELE: You know, after they sing happy birthday, they think they don't have to listen to me anymore.

I'm pleased to see the government has reduced their tendency to only one or two provisions that have no business being in this bill. One of them has been referred to by the minister; the Environment Act amendment, however important it may be, has absolutely nothing to do with the government's budget, nothing to do with the government's fiscal or tax

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policy - it belongs in a separate piece of legislation. But, of course, as we all know, the government is in a hurry to leave this place and so they are going to put forward the absolute bare, minimum amount of legislation they can get away with. So, they are taking a provision that has no business being in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill and trying to pass it as part of this omnibus bill.

Mr. Speaker, I know there's more of a story behind this because not only is it not a financial measure but there's a specific date mentioned that it is retroactive to, so I think there's a lot more to this story, and I think the minister really ought to have told the House a little bit more about why there's a specific date three and a half years ago that this is retroactive to, and what caused the government to bring this forward - in any event, I am going to move on to the items of fiscal and tax policy in the bill.

Now I know, Mr. Speaker, on second reading it is inappropriate to talk about specific provisions of the bill, but the Financial Measures Act by its nature has no theme. There is no principle of the bill, it's just a mishmash of provisions having nothing to do with one another. So I'll ask for the Speaker's indulgence as I address at a high level some of the specific provisions in the bill.

Going down in order, Mr. Speaker - the amendments to the Equity Tax Credit Program, an admirable attempt to try to tweak the Equity Tax Credit Program to attract more capital to Nova Scotia. Of course, we support that, it's a good move but, at the same time, the bill extends the large corporation capital tax and, as we all know, the absolute worst kind of tax in terms of encouraging investment in economic development is a tax on capital, because it's the kind of tax where the more somebody invests, the more they bring to the table, the more they get taxed - which is the wrong way of going about tax policy. We believe that the corporate capital tax should be eliminated, it should be eliminated now, but what the government has done is reduce it over a number of years but they have extended it so the elimination of the tax is merely a promise pushed out into the future. This year the large corporation capital tax stays, so the bill gives with one hand and takes away with the other.

I want to move on to another important provision in this bill which I find somewhat mystifying because it's not at all clear exactly how it's supposed to work - this involves the so-called Universal Child Care Benefit being implemented by the federal government. Now, Mr. Speaker, I don't know how many members in the House are eligible for this Universal Child Care Benefit, but it just so happens that I am and I didn't realize until just a few days ago that it wasn't an automatic benefit, that if you have a child of a certain age you have to apply for it.

The application process is not simple, I have to tell you, because I've just gone through it and it is not simple. I was hoping I could apply online, but you can't do that. You have to print out the forms, you have to fill out the forms, and you have to take it or mail it to the tax office. I don't think a lot of Canadians know that and I don't think a lot of Nova Scotians know

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that. It is not an automatic process and, as we know from the government's assessment cap program, any time that you make people jump through the hoop it is going to discourage some people who are not able to fill out forms without assistance. Some people won't even know that the program exists. That program, the cap program, should be automatic and so should this program, because the government knows already from my household tax forms that I have a child of the correct age.

In any event, bringing it back to the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, the Government of Nova Scotia is introducing a tax credit the effect of which is to ensure that there is no provincial tax on the Universal Child Care Benefit. I say good for the government; good for the government. It's a good measure. Now, I'm going to leave aside for now the merits of the Universal Child Care Benefit, that's a debate for another forum, for another day - as I look up to the gallery to our visitors.

However, if we are going to have this Universal Child Care Benefit then the government has done the proper thing, but I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that having read the provisions very carefully it is a mystery to me how the provision is going to work the way the government says that it's going to work, because the government has said there is going to be no taxation or clawback, but I don't see anything in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill saying that there's not going to be a clawback. The way it was explained to me by departmental staff - and I want to thank the minister for arranging for the briefing - of course, the simplest way not to tax this benefit is to declare it to be non-taxable income, but the departmental staff told me they can't do that - they can't - because we're tied into the federal definition, which is why it's done in the form of a tax credit, which is a very awkward way of not taxing a benefit. I pointed out to them that nowhere in the provision of the Financial Measures (2006) Bill did it say that you actually had to be in receipt of the benefit in order to claim the credit. It looked like if you just had a child at the right age, you got the credit but they said oh, no, it's not really what the words in the act say, it has to do with how the income tax form is set up. I thought that's a very peculiar thing because on one hand the government says here's what they're trying to achieve, but when you actually look at the words of the Act, it's not what it says. Now maybe at the end of the day it will have that practical impact.

[6:45 p.m.]

One would expect that members of the Opposition could read the bill and say yes, it does exactly what the government says it does. I reserve judgment about whether the very complex way the government has chosen to deal with the universal child-care benefit will actually achieve the result that it says it wants to achieve. Then I move on to some provisions in the bill that increase certain tax credits, which of course is a good thing, it's something that we've been talking about for years, that I, as Finance Critic, have been talking about for years.

I want to underline again that it was this government that divorced itself from the federal income tax system, it was this government that allowed provincial credits to fall out of

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step with federal credits, and it is this government which is ensuring in this Financial Measures (2006) Bill that there will never again be perfect harmony between provincial and federal credits. They've now gone on two different roads and the Province of Nova Scotia will never catch up again with the level of federal credits.

This is of some concern to many people who are eligible for these credits. As Finance Critic I get these calls and people are pointing out to me this year that they've had to pay provincial tax that they've never had to pay before. The only reason for that is because of the increasing divergence between the federal credits and the provincial credits. Although the Financial Measures (2006) Bill here goes some way to changing that instead of freezing the rates at least the provincial rates are going up. It still means that gap will never close and will get wider and wider over time. This is a taxing measure, let's make no mistake about that, this will result in Nova Scotians paying more over time than if the provincial government had never decoupled from the federal system.

There's also an increase in the sport and recreation tax credit. Of course that's a good thing, but let's not exaggerate how much money is involved here. The original credit was on $150 which when you applied the lowest tax rate amounted to something in the nature of $14 or $15 per child per year, which was surely not going to do anything to change the amount of recreational activity in which our children engage. This government is more than tripling the benefit. Now it goes from about $15 a year to about $50 per year. It's better than nothing, I'm not going to sniff at $50 but let's not exaggerate, it's $50 and if any family has one child enrolled in one hockey program, they know how much it costs and $50 is a drop in the bucket. It's a good thing, of course we support it, but let's not exaggerate how much money is involved here.

Then we get to the graduate tax credit, a new thing; $1000 for graduates, great, good. It's not as generous as the New Brunswick credit and we've said all along that the problem is not at the far end of the post-secondary education system, it's at the near end, it's in students getting into the courses in the first place, students having the money to complete their courses. The government has done a good thing, departmental staff tell me that this will be worth about $9 million a year based on their projections of how many graduates will be eligible for and will claim this benefit. Me thinks that the government is tackling the wrong end of the equation and the money probably would have been far better spent at the beginning of the post-secondary education program, not at the end when the student has already graduated.

Film industry tax credit, very interesting, Mr. Speaker. The changes that are being made by the government are, in their own words, to make the film industry tax credit work the way it was intended. The film industry tax credit is not working, has not been working, the way it was intended, so the government has found it necessary to amend that tax credit in order to reflect the way the film industry really does business. So of course that's a good thing.

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It's a good thing that the government is catching up, but let's make no mistake about it, errors were made in the way the film industry tax credit was set up. It has not been used the way it was intended to be used, and we're only now correcting the problem. We hope in the future that the industry will now be able to take advantage of it in a way that they haven't before. In a nutshell, the standard in the film industry is that every production has its own separate financing arrangements, its own separate corporate entity, but that was never taken into account when the government set up the frequent filmer credit, which assumed that it was the same company doing more than one production, and the government is only now getting around to recognizing that it set up the program incorrectly in the first place.

Energy tax credit - clearly a good thing. Who could be opposed to that? Certainly not us. Road spending guarantee in the provincial Financial Measures (2006) Bill, now it leads me to wonder, of course, that if the government were doing this already, as it claims, then why is it necessary to put it into law? Because, as the Leader of the Opposition pointed out today - and, oh, this gets under their skin so much, but we have the numbers and the numbers don't lie - they have never spent the money on roads that they claim to be spending, and now they're enacting it in law. See, it always gets under their skin when we say that, but we have the numbers. They never argue the numbers with us, all they say is, oh, yes, we do. They never actually deal with the numbers and show us where we're wrong and they're right, because they know we're right. They know we're right.

They've never followed through on their promise to spend all the motive fuel taxes and all the Registry of Motor Vehicles income on roads, because what they do, of course, as came out in a Public Accounts Committee hearing - and I'll send the transcript over to the Premier because he appears to have missed that one - is they're putting apples and oranges together, they're mixing up operational spending and capital spending, they're counting the power bill at head office here in downtown Halifax as spending on roads, all their employee benefits count as road spending.

Now, Mr. Speaker, those are all important - dental benefits for highway workers are important and necessary and the right thing to do. One just wonders whether when the government is bragging about how much it's spending on roads, if the people out in the rural areas of the province realize that they're counting dental work and power bills, as opposed to real, hot asphalt poured on the roads. We now have a legislated guarantee, and we'll see if the government is finally able to meet its commitment on that.

There's an interesting provision in here that has kind of gone under the radar in the amendments to the provincial Financial Measures (2006) Bill where the government is giving itself the legal authority, for the very first time, to loan money directly to students. Now I had to be reminded by departmental staff why that was necessary. As it stands now, the government offers a guarantee to loans that are offered by financial institutions. Now the government is giving itself the authority to lend money directly to students, without going through a financial institution. Now is that because the government knows something that they're not telling us?

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Does that give us an indication of where the Student Loan Program is going? Are they giving themselves this authority just in case sometime down the road it may be necessary?

We don't know because this is something on which the government has been quite quiet, but it's in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill. So when this Act passes, as we certainly expect that it will, the government will then have the authority for the first time to loan money directly to students.

Then we get into the other provisions of the bill, probably the longest part of the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, all the rejigging of departments and offices in this government. Mr. Speaker, I have to say one of the more disappointing things the government has done, in its youthfulness, by which I mean that it has only been in office now for a few weeks, the new government, is to have 18 Cabinet Ministers out of 22 members, 18 out of 22. When the former Premier came into power, he had 11 Cabinet Ministers out 30 members. We now have 18 Cabinet Ministers out of 22 and the work, I have to say, is spread pretty thin. That's involved the re-jigging of a number of different offices.

Is this actually going to improve the Government of Nova Scotia? Is this going to make things better? It remains to be seen, possibly it will, but dividing up offices and then merging them together and dividing them up and merging them and calling them different names, it keeps a lot of printers and other suppliers busy changing nameplates on the door. I think the jury is still out about whether it actually involves better service to the government because what I've seen over the time I have been here, is when the government can't think about what else to do about an issue, they just announce they're going to set up a stand-alone office or they're going to divide up a department for want of actually doing something real. A good part of this Financial Measures (2006) Bill involves changes to the Public Service Act, to give every one of the 18 Cabinet Ministers something to do.

Finally, this Act implements something that we've been asking for for a long time and that is the legal authority to offer a rebate to Nova Scotians for the provincial portion of the HST on your home heating bill. (Applause) Good for them, Mr. Speaker, good for them. I think every one of them should reach over and pat their neighbour on the back and say, good for you, good for you. And, good for you, you finally listened to us. They said it was impossible, it couldn't be done. We have reams of newspaper articles and news releases and technical briefings explaining how it couldn't be done and, Mr. Speaker, right here in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, guess what? All it took, at the end of the day, was one line. One line in one law in Nova Scotia was enough to finally implement what has been a longstanding NDP policy and I congratulate the government.

As the Leader of the Opposition has said a number of times, they don't have to steal our ideas, our ideas are free and we have lots more good ideas where that one came from. (Applause)

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Let me close simply by saying . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: He referred to the word steal . . .

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: Graham Steele.

MR. SPEAKER: You're not allowed to refer to a member by their name, either, so I would ask the member to retract that.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has the floor.

MR. STEELE: It was something I heard the Leader of the Opposition say so often, it never occurred to me it was unparliamentary, Mr. Speaker.

That crowd over there can take our ideas all they want, they can take them without compensation. Our ideas are free, there's lots more where those came from.

In conclusion, let me just say it's a long bill, it's a complex bill, a number of measures, some of which the government should be congratulated for, some of which I've raised some questions about how they will operate in practice. But, on the whole and particularly in reference to the home heating rebate, I think I can say, on behalf of our caucus, we will support the Financial Measures (2006) Bill for second reading.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure again to rise today to talk about the Financial Measures (2006) Bill which is before us as part of the budget. As was mentioned by the member for Halifax Fairview, this is a bill that's very important in the operation of government. It is part of a budget, it's also a confidence bill and it's enabling legislation to see the budget items become a reality and adjust all of the other Acts that require changes in order to be consistent with what's being put forward in the budget.

Therefore, it requires some fairly in-depth study just to see - it's also an omnibus bill as has been mentioned. In other years past, we've seen things crop up in this bill that had really no relation whatsoever to the budget that was before us and it just becomes an opportunity for housekeeping or for other measures.

It's interesting to analyze carefully and see what exactly may be proposed there and whether there's some enabling legislation for other priorities of government, as has just been suggested. In looking through the bill, certainly we've gone through in some detail and we see things that many of which we do think are the right direction if the measures are perhaps too small.

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[7:00 p.m.]

What I'd like to do just again is put in context the budget that we have before us. The budget is almost $2 billion more than it was in the year 1999. The revenues have increased in the province and we seem to have had no problem spending most notably on health care, for which the spending has gone up $1.4 billion in 7 years. This year alone, just looking at the budget brief, you can see it has gone up another $250 million and we've just spent a couple of hours in estimates talking with the Department of Health, with the Minister of Health and we do have to ask ourselves what indeed are the improvements that have been noted for all this tremendous increase in spending. We still have tremendous wait times, closures of emergency rooms, shortage of doctors and nurses and many other issues that concern us in our daily lives, with our families and with our constituents.

Given that the budget is a reflection on priorities and a reflection on advancements in the province, we do ask that some care be taken to analyze whether or not we're receiving benefit for a lot of these changes. In going through as well, looking at the budget for this year, it's interesting to note that there's over $300 million, in fact it's close to $400 million in capital spending. Let us remind ourselves that under the new process, under our Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, that money is all put into a capital side. It is not part of your operating budget, and the boast every year of a balanced budget by the government is taken into the context that your capital spending is dealt with differently, and that money is still being borrowed in order to cover the capital costs. I think sometimes those details are easy to gloss over when you're boasting and patting yourselves on the back as you just did.

For many of your measures, it's easy to gloss over the fact that your net direct debt for the Province of Nova Scotia continues to rise despite years ago the former Premier saying that he could not support a budget that had increases in the debt. The net direct debt in Nova Scotia has risen $1.2 billion over the 7 years and this year again it has risen in these last 12 months and will in the coming 12. There's no reduction yet in debt in this province, and that is a grave concern to all of us, especially as new spending priorities are being introduced.

As I mentioned the other day in talking about the budget itself, there are concerns that we're taking resources from our offshore which have perhaps a shorter lifespan than we would like to see. The millions of dollars that are coming in royalties may have a lifespan of only a few short years, and we're taking those and diverting them to our operational spending and new programs. We're not really investing them in more legacy projects, perhaps like our roads or infrastructure for ensuring that we have the right ingredients for future growth, things that would help us in the future to maintain our stability. The little bit of concern from our caucus on how we're applying what really are exceptional revenues at the moment because we cannot count on them in perpetuity or for years to come, I think we have to be concerned about that as well. Those measures are just trends within the budget and within this Financial Measures (2006) Bill that concern us.

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In going through some of the specifics that are in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, I would like to mention a few of them. The universal child-care benefit is mentioned in there and I'm glad to see that there have been measures put in place so that families will not be taxed additionally on that amount and that change was made so that the amount can be excluded from income and people will not be taxed on something that the federal government is handing out. There's also a provision there so that they are still eligible for the low-income tax reduction, should a family be on that borderline or close to that amount, and I think that's important.

I would also caution that the government be aware of many other programs that are income related. I know that in one of the Department of Finance briefs, they've indicated that the government will be reviewing social programs in light of this new measure from the federal government. It's really important that an extra $1,200 a year for each child that's under six years of age could in fact influence the overall income of a family and perhaps make them ineligible for something like child care subsidy, which they might now qualify . If they happen to have young children and also university-aged children, it might affect their parental contribution for student loans, for example. It could affect the amount they're eligible for Social Assistance. There are an awful lot of income-based programs, even the former Keep the Heat program, which we'd love to see remain in place, but at the moment is no longer a program of the Government of Nova Scotia.

So all of those are income-based, and we would ask that this be very carefully analyzed. I'm sure in our own constituencies we will be hearing of cases where people are suddenly in jeopardy of losing certain benefits. So I would like to see that all of those conflicts be removed so people are not jeopardized.

Again, whether or not the federal program is the correct program, we will differ on that. I think that it's a very short-sighted program, putting money, at that rate, in the hands of families, since it will not be enough to actually allow you to afford a daycare space; for a baby, a full cost of a daycare space for a child under 18 months is over $700 a month, and the $100 you'll be receiving there will not suddenly open access to child care for many of the low-income families in Nova Scotia. I'm not sure it will have the impact the federal government ever intended. However, as I say, given the provisions to protect families and not double tax them on this, I think that it's a move in the right direction that at least we made provisions to deal with it.

On the film tax credit, we were pleased to see that Nova Scotia remains competitive. I think it's really important in this industry. I know that the many people in Nova Scotia who are employed in the film industry, or have their livelihood as a result of those kinds of activities have been very active in lobbying members of the Legislature and telling us about their needs in terms of sustaining the industry. It was very important that this tax credit remain competitive with our other neighbors, the other provinces in Canada, that are vying for that business.

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So what we have is an acknowledgment that we continually need to reassess this. There has been an additional 5 per cent credit added for frequent film productions. So if a producer is here on a more frequent basis, they get a bonus, and also a bonus for films that are produced outside of what they call the eligible area, and I would say the normal area would be HRM. So, if you're drawn to make your productions outside of HRM, there's an additional 5 per cent tax credit. So I think that is also going to be very helpful.

One other suggestion that the Liberal caucus had made to the government was that films that employ 60 per cent or more Nova Scotians should also receive an additional credit, because it would be an incentive to train or to hire those who are here who already have the experience. So it's a way for us to develop that skilled base of employees who are so important in a creative endeavor like film making. So that would be one other suggestion, but you've taken the provisions, and the fact is that the adjustment to the film tax credit allows us to remain competitive. I think that is of grave concern to all of us.

On the large corporation tax, I have to share the concern raised by the member for Fairview because, in fact, phasing out this tax by the year 2012 is a long time to wait; that's a six-year wait to see any kind of elimination. We're going to slowly reduce, but not eliminate that. Again, this is a very regressive tax. Any company that has assets over $5 million begins to be taxed in a regressive way, which is a definite disincentive for you to put money into your business, to upgrade and improve your equipment and capital base. We need to eliminate that because, again, Nova Scotia has some large industry and we need them to remain modern and competitive. Even the case of Stora Enso, if a plant like Stora Enso kept their plants more up-to-date, perhaps they'd see it as a more efficient operation, maybe it would be a more attractive business. I think that we need to make sure that the companies do reinvest in Nova Scotia, and that's one way to do it. So perhaps the government could look at moving a little faster in that direction to get rid entirely of the large corporation tax sooner, rather than in the year 2012.

Going back to the budget itself, we know there are several other items that were done over many years. If we remember in 2003, the election just three years ago, the government was promising new schools in the year 2012 and 2010, and even some of those building plans have now been pushed back further. There's very little comfort to the people of Nova Scotia to see a budget that has spending plans and priorities that go years and years down the road. It's very difficult to hold the government accountable for something that's going to be maybe two terms in the future. So that's a concern as well that the government should remain more focused on the period of time in which they have the chance to influence change.

The energy efficiency tax credit is something that is particularly good. Again, it's aimed at reducing the large corporation tax. So that's a positive thing. I've just said that the large corporation tax hurts business and it hurts our economic climate, but if you reduce it through investments in energy efficiency, that will help and the maximum, according to the Financial Measures (2006) Bill, Mr. Speaker, the maximum that can be reduced is 50 per cent of the large corporation tax that would be owing. So it doesn't, again, go quite far enough to eliminate

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it completely, but it's an incentive for some good energy efficiency practices, and perhaps that will tie in nicely to the new Conserve Nova Scotia that we're looking forward to seeing in the near future, to see how that will be structured, and what the priorities will be there.

The changes to the basic personal exemptions are an important move but, again, in this particular case they're really just scratching the surface. It's a change that provides too little in the way of assistance to Nova Scotians and doesn't do nearly enough to bring us into line with other provinces or, again, to keep us competitive. That really is the theme I think of managing the government, and there is no competitiveness in this slight increase of $250 a year over the next four years to bring us up to $1,000. What we have to know is the context in which you're moving this up and, as of today, the basic personal exemption in Nova Scotia is the lowest in the country. Again, when you get that list of all the provinces, we are dead last in Canada. Now, Alberta is a complete exception. They are double the amount that it is here in Nova Scotia. So in Alberta you could earn $14,899 and have no tax payable. That's right off the top a basic personal exemption.

Now, I know they're exceptional so let's throw them aside, as the members of the government might like us to do, and say where do we stand otherwise? Even our close neighbour, New Brunswick, is $800 higher than we are today in terms of the basic personal exemption and it will take us a long time to catch up. We're assuming that over four years we'll increase by $1,000, but I can bet you today that the other provinces in Canada have no intention of freezing theirs where they stand. In fact, all but four provinces have their levels indexed, so they're indexed for the cost of living, and we are one of only four provinces that has not chosen to index our basic personal exemptions to inflation. So it's guaranteed that all the other provinces will continue to move upward either aggressively because they want to be more competitive or by law because they're indexed to inflation.

We are not going to take our place in the middle ground where we should be in terms of tax attractiveness here in Nova Scotia, and I think that's an important factor when you're talking about employment and you're talking about retaining young people in the province. The amount of money they can keep in their pocket after working is very, very important.

We do have, and I think it's worth noting - it was something that surprised me greatly when I first became an MLA and looked at this- but in Nova Scotia 50 per cent of our taxpayers earn in the lowest tax bracket. They actually have net income below $29,000. Now, that is really, really alarming. It should concern everybody here that 50 per cent of Nova Scotian taxpayers are in the lowest tax bracket. They don't even edge into the second bracket and, if you recall, it came to light when the government was able to give a slight decrease in taxes to that bracket alone and clawed back the 10 per cent tax cut from all of the higher brackets. Something like the basic personal exemption is very, very important to people who are living on that poverty line and on very fixed incomes, tight incomes. We really need to be more aggressive than a $250 a year increase in that. I think the government needs to recognize that we are not going to stay competitive at that slow, slow rate.

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The Canadian Federation of Independent Business, as we were approaching the budget time and going into the election, actually made these basic personal exemptions their number one issue in speaking to members of the Legislature and the Finance Critics and so on.

[7:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. So as I was saying, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business made this a priority in their lobbying and discussions with members of the Legislature going into the election. They want to see more aggressive action on the indexing of those levels and also on an aggressive increase to make us more competitive. Again I think if nothing else let's index them now to inflation and to the cost of living so that we don't continually have to go back and see Nova Scotia dead last on a list of Canadian provinces. It's something that gets a little bit tiresome here in Nova Scotia. So that is one major concern right there.

The child tax credit for - I guess it's not a tax credit, the one for sport and recreation, I think is very laudable. It had been discussed that that should be something for Nova Scotians of all ages but at least we're looking at young people and trying to keep them active, which I think is important. It really was no more than a token the year it was introduced at essentially $15 per child eligible. If you took the whole $150 tax credit it would mean $15 saved but I think extending that to a $500 tax credit, it's about tripling the amount, we're almost at $45. I think that begins to make a difference. Although it has been mentioned that enrolling your children in these programs is enormously expensive for things, particularly like hockey, I think that at least it's a move in the right direction, we have to say that it's a good thing.

Mr. Speaker, I think the graduate tax credit is something that deserves a little bit of attention as well which is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much chatter in the Chamber.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the graduate tax credit is outlined as well in the Financial Measures (2006) Bill and it's another example of a program that is just scratching the service. We are several years behind, at least two years behind, New Brunswick taking this move. They were one of the first, maybe the first in Canada to announce what they call the tax cash back for graduates. Remember this tax cash back for graduates that they did in New Brunswick is for all graduates regardless of their level of student debt, whether or not they were even studying in New Brunswick. If a young person is a graduate and comes to live in New Brunswick they will receive that. Theirs is much more generous in New Brunswick, they're

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offering $20,000 - $1,000 a year over 20 years. In the recent election the Liberal platform had invested a lot of effort and funds in a promise to do a very similar program here in Nova Scotia.

I do differ with the Finance Critic for the NDP in regard to whether or not this is an important measure. I think the government has at least seen that it's important to offer not only help at the front end in university but also on the retention piece. I think the big difference is we shouldn't be looking at it as much as an education program as it is an economic development program. It really doesn't qualify as an education piece. I think that what we're really doing by offering an incentive for young people to stay in Nova Scotia is trying to harness their energy, their creativity, their ideas, having them stay here and work and contribute to our economy and that helps all of us in our future.

I think that any government that ignored that would be guilty of negligence because we are facing a very severe crisis in terms of our demographics. We know we're an aging population and we know that we have probably the highest level of out-migration of our graduates of any province in Canada. We are not only suffering those kinds of stresses with a province that has high tax, not enough high-paying jobs for them but we're really facing a lot of competitive pressure from other provinces in Canada. If we don't take measures to try to make it more attractive, try to offer incentives, then we would be negligent. The government has done the right thing in acknowledging the need for a tax credit for graduates. I think that the tax credit being offered is again more of a token at this point, and I would hope that in future years we will see that tax credit increased. It certainly was an idea that the Liberals have promoted and we support it wholeheartedly.

Certain things have been harmonized. The bill has harmonized the medical expense credit, it said, so that our Nova Scotia credit is harmonized with the federal credit. I think what this signals is there's a tremendous need in our entire tax system to get some harmonization with our federal levels. As has been mentioned, I had calls as well this year from constituents who, for the first time ever, were paying provincial tax when they never had before, and they paid no federal tax. When we had a system that was linked to the federal tax you paid, of course your provincial tax was a percentage of that. That has been changed. It was totally de-linked or uncoupled, and that was done by the Progressive Conservative Government. Yes, and just a few short years, and we are feeling the pain of that for quite some time. (Interruptions) No, I don't think so. No, it was definitely not. It was not a Liberal measure. No.

We're seeing the pain of that actually, right now, because people can look over a period of years and see how much extra tax they're paying as a result of that de-linking. I know many of you are familiar with the term bracket creep, and it may make your eyes glaze over a little bit, but that's exactly what the Liberals raised in 2003, it's the problem now that the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has recognized and made a top priority. So, believe, me, it's as important today as it was three years ago, and it has a huge impact on individual Nova Scotians. I think maybe it's just the way it's described that's most important. That's what's important there.

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Mr. Speaker, just in closing, I would like to mention the student loans and the change that's made in this Financial Measures (2006) Bill to now allow the government to make loans directly to students. This is certainly the method of providing student loans in other provinces, and the federal government does it directly, as well, as I understand it. I have actually, in my role as Education Critic, had discussions with the staff of the Department of Education who said that at some point the current arrangement will expire, and there's an opportunity to either extend it with the financial institutions or begin to finance student loans directly. So, clearly, this is one of those measures that has been brought in today in order to pave the way for a policy change or a regulation change within government. That may in fact be a good thing, but it's interesting to highlight it today and be on the lookout for changes that will come in that regard.

Mr. Speaker, again, with the budget, there are elements that we do support and certainly much of it is in line with priorities that the Liberal Party has pursued. We're happy to see certain measures brought in for the university students. We would certainly like to see a more aggressive reduction in tuition, because that has not been addressed this year, and I think that the government, having mentioned it in the Throne Speech in May, is obliged to look at a method of coming up with real reductions in tuition and not just waiting for the rest of the world to catch up to us. We really need to look at some way to directly reduce tuition for our students.

As I said, overall there are some positive and forward-looking measures here. We would hope that you will continue to protect those on low income in our province, and we look for some other changes that will make investment more positive. I didn't mention the community economic development fund. The equity tax credit that we have in place has actually been very successful in Nova Scotia, allowing quite a few of these community economic development funds to be put in place.

I believe that the measures that are in this Financial Measures (2006) Bill simply make it a bit more attractive, extending the length of time for some of those that need to be held. What it does is really allow some community ventures to exist because of the attractive tax treatment of those investments. So we do think that that's moving in the right direction, too, particularly with the new emphasis on rural economic development which has been signalled by the government in terms of creating a division for rural economic development. I think that ties in nicely with that trend, as well, and is, again, a Liberal priority, that being rural economic development.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to end my remarks today, and I thank you for your time. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate.

[Page 310]

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 31.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 31. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Protection from Illegal Drugs Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour and a privilege tonight to rise to move second reading of Bill No. 10, the Protection from Illegal Drugs Act. Nova Scotians are growing increasingly concerned about the impact of illegal drugs in communities across our province and, particularly, how it affects our youth. The development and distribution of illegal drugs and the resulting crime has also led to an increasing concern among law enforcement officers who protect our province.

This legislation will allow us to tackle this crime by providing more tools to help Nova Scotian communities be safer. The Protection from Illegal Drugs Act will allow the government to regulate issues around the storage, transportation, distribution and sale of ingredients, materials and equipment used in the production and the use of illegal drugs. While we have yet to see a significant instance of crystal meth here in this province, it's very much on our radar and, in fact, has grown increasingly in the western provinces, and we know the negative effect it has had on those communities and its people. This legislation will allow us to put in place very strict controls - for example, the bill requires people to notify authorities if they become aware of the loss or theft of certain ingredients, materials, or equipment. This kind of information is critical to law enforcement officials in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we also know that sometimes children are put at risk by those involved in the illegal drug trade. Under this legislation people will also be required to notify authorities if there's reason to believe that the health or the safety of any child in this province has been or is at risk from the production, manufacture, growth, or the use of illegal drugs.

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Mr. Speaker, this legislation will put serious penalties in place for those involved in the illegal drug trade. Conviction of a first offence will result in the fine of $2,000 for an individual or $10,000 for a corporation; fines for second and subsequent offences increase to $10,000 and $50,000 - this, of course, will be in addition to any other charges that could be laid under the Criminal Code or Narcotic Control Act.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation is an important step and we know other measures are needed to fight against the illegal drug trade in Nova Scotia. We know it needs a co-operative approach such as the work done in Cape Breton against illegal prescription drugs - and that's a very good example that we can use across the province. To that end we're working with law enforcement and other key partners to create a comprehensive drug strategy tailored to meet the needs of Nova Scotians. This new legislation will support that effort. That strategy will focus on prevention, enforcement, reduction of harm and, obviously, treatment. Partnering departments include Justice, Health, Health Promotion and Protection, Community Services, and Education.

A great deal of work is underway to prevent and address the illegal drug use in Nova Scotia. A Nova Scotia drug strategy and new legislation will tie these efforts together and ensure that we are doing all we can to address our current needs and prevent the problems being experienced by other provinces. With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 10.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to be able to stand for a few minutes and speak on Bill No. 10. This is a bill that the NDP, our caucus, has put a lot of effort into making sure we got to this point; in fact I believe we actually got to this point on this bill before the election as well, if I recall. This bill is the only bill we actually passed second reading before the election was called, so after a slight delay of about two months, or a month and a half, we're back here debating the bill again.

Mr. Speaker, this is an important piece of legislation and one that the NDP has been calling for - for probably about a year now. Clearly there is a sense in this province that crystal meth is coming. It's like watching a tsunami building and coming towards the province, from the West it is coming here. We've already heard from some of the people who are on the ground doing drug intervention work that they found it being mixed with crack and cocaine. It is a form of speed; it's a very dangerous form of speed. Compared to crack and cocaine, some say this stuff is 10 times stronger. In many cases, they said, with crystal meth you are in a situation where you take it once or twice and you are addicted.

If anyone has seen the photographs from out West where they've had this problem for a long period of time - they have the before and after shots of people who have been addicted to crystal meth and it is a very sad situation to see the addiction and to see the level of

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destruction and self-destruction this drug causes. I think the other part of this is, this is a drug that particularly affects rural areas. This is a drug that sort of comes in the back door. I think in many cases in the last 30-40 years, dealing with drug rehabilitation, in most cases we've dealt with it in urban centres, in urban settings where drugs like cocaine and heroine have been very serious.

[7:30 p.m.]

But this is a drug that hits rural communities. This is a drug in western communities - it's the rural areas that are hit very hard and this is what will happen here. Probably because a lot of the ingredients are things that are found in rural communities like ammonia and other things from farm supplies and fertilizers. You also have the issue, probably in rural areas, that the pharmacies would have been a little more lenient in the sale of Sudafed and other drugs that can also make up the use of this.

The drug can be made in someone's bathroom or in someone's barn or shed. Some call this bathroom crank, this is how it's known by some. This is a drug that's a serious drug, it's going to have a serious impact in our province. I'm glad to see the government has recognized this and has joined the NDP in saying that this is an important proactive measure that we can take now to ensure that crystal meth is something we're going to try to deal with. It is going to come here, we know that. The more we're ready for it, the better off we are.

A couple of things that are missing from the bill that we would like to see is a task force because we see the need for people who are on the ground dealing with this drug to have some input into the process. It's nice to have bureaucrats, it's nice to have police officers, but the people who are dealing with those who are addicted to the drug on the ground need to be part of that process - to hear from them some of the grassroots measures that can be taken. We'd like to see that addition. We'd like to see some component of education. I know that's a budgetary issue, but one we think needs to be done in order to ensure that we not only talk about this, not only that we have people come together and talk about it, but that we have direct measures of education.

The best way of stopping this drug from being a serious, serious health problem in our province is to educate people beforehand so they don't take it. If you can take it once or twice and be addicted, there's no opportunity to educate people after they've taken it. We have to educate them before the drug gets here and before it becomes common, particularly in rural Nova Scotia where people and infrastructure are not ready and capable of dealing with it.

We're glad to see this bill go forward, we might want to talk about some amendments at the Law Amendments Committee to see if we can get some improvements. In the long run, the NDP are glad to see this Tory Government finally agree with us that we need to do something about crystal meth. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this bill this evening on behalf of our Leader and our caucus and join the NDP in supporting the government on this particular bill. I would like to commend the Justice Minister for bringing this bill forward this evening. It's a bill that deserves the support of this House, albeit there may be some amendments at the Law Amendments Committee, like the NDP House Leader has suggested, but we're prepared this evening to have this move along through the process of the House.

Crystal meth has been a serious problem and continues to be in our Cape Breton area. I thank the minister for making mention of that fact. Also, again, on behalf of our Leader, thank the minister for introducing this this evening. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Opposition House Leader and the House Leader for the Liberal Party for their support of this government initiative. It is a good bill, it's something that's much needed in our province. As the House Leader for the Liberal Party said, in Cape Breton they're taking a real lead on these types of initiatives. Chief Edgar MacLeod, who I've met with in Cape Breton, is doing a wonderful job there, he and his police department. I know the Cape Breton communities are very proud of them and so they should be.

This is a very important bill not only to law enforcement, but to the province as a whole. I appreciate the support we're getting from across the way. We look forward to a speedy passage so we can get on with doing the job of protecting, particularly our youth, in this province. With that, I move second reading of Bill No. 10.

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

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 19.

Bill No. 19 - Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, this legislation will strengthen protections against the disclosure of Nova Scotians' personal information, under the U.S. Patriot Act. The new Personal Information International Disclosure Protection Act outlines a series of requirements and penalties that protect personal information from inappropriate disclosure. We know that the U.S. security legislation has caused concerns about the American Government's ability to access personal information of Nova Scotians, held outside of Canada. This legislation clearly outlines responsibilities of public bodies, municipalities and technology service providers and the consequences if these responsibilities are not fulfilled.

Under the bill, the Minister of Justice must be notified if there is a foreign demand for disclosure of any personal information of Nova Scotians. The bill also requires that service providers storing information only collect and use personal information for the purposes of their work, for a public body or a municipality. In order for these measures to be successful, staff must be sure they will be protected if they come forward to report wrongdoing, under this bill. To that end, the bill will also provide whistle-blower protection for employees of external service providers to ensure they are protected if they report an offence under the bill. Whistle-blower protection for Nova Scotia Government staff already exists under the Civil Service Act.

Mr. Speaker, penalties under the Act include a fine of up to $2,000, or six months of imprisonment for malicious disclosure by employees of public bodies and municipalities. The Act also creates offences for service providers with penalties of up to $2,000 for employees and $500,000 for companies. Under this bill, these penalties will become part of any new contract. At the same time, we are working to strengthen our existing contracts with current service providers.

Mr. Speaker, this is a serious issue and this bill will help ensure that the privacy of Nova Scotians' information continues to be protected. With those few comments, I move second reading of Bill No. 19. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 19 is a bill that the NDP has been pressuring the government to pass for, I guess, two years. This is a bill that two years ago when the NDP discovered, I think it happened in British Columbia originally where the Privacy Commissioner - where they actually have a Privacy Commissioner, I may note, for the record - noticed that under the Patriot Act in the United States, an American investigating body, FBI, CIA, National Security Agency, what have you, under the Patriot Act, if there are records held

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by an American corporation or its subsidiary, in another country, that those organizations can go in and access those records; it may even be without a subpoena, but there's probably very little judicial review, but under the Patriot Act they have access to that information.

So, for example, in Nova Scotia, if our government contracts out the maintenance of the data for people who are on social assistance, or motor vehicle records, that information is handed over to an American corporation to manage that data, that maybe even a subsidiary of that company in this province or in Canada, the American authorities would have access to that. That is a concern, one that British Columbia addressed a while back and it's one that I know that this province, for two years we've asked this government to do this, it's one that we have introduced legislation on and it's one that we're now glad to see the government also understands, finally, that what the NDP was asking for is something we need to do.

It is abhorrent that even for two years we allowed this province to farm out information that could easily be accessed under the Patriot Act. Now even more, we've heard recently how the American authorities have been poring over telephone records, have been monitoring telephone calls. In this age in which - if you want to call it Neo-McCarthyism, in many ways - it's very important that we have an opportunity to ensure that the information in the private information and data of Nova Scotians is protected.

Now, someone raised this with me when the bill was first introduced back in the Spring, before the election, Mr. Speaker. At that time, we had an opportunity - it was asked, well, what's a $2,000 fine going to do? They're probably right. To be frank, the fines in this legislation are not punitive, are not a form that is going to look at these findings and say to themselves wow, do we pay a $2,000 fine and give them information to the FBI or do we say under this act we can't?

The real punitive measure in this is that the contract can be cancelled immediately if there's a violation, that is important. I suspect if we're talking about a long-term contract of maintaining data, I would suggest to you that it would result in that company having to think long and hard about having that contract ripped up and voided. That's the kind of punitive measure we can put in. I would also suggest to the government, for the record, that if they want to avoid this from happening it can easily be done by ensuring that the maintenance of that information remains in house within the government and isn't contracted out. When you contract it out then the opportunity arises.

Mr. Speaker, these are things that can be done, I'm glad to see this legislation coming forward, I'm glad to see the Tory government finally agreeing with us. I will note for the record that the minister's comments that there is a whistle-blower protection in the Civil Service Act is not correct. I would suggest to you that the regulations that were passed about a year ago, a year and a half ago in regard to whistle-blower, do not provide any protection for civil servants. Frankly, they only require them to basically have to report their problems higher up and God knows what will happen after that happens. I would suggest to you that this legislation is the

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first step, it's a good step, the NDP has asked for this for two years, we're glad to see this legislation coming forward, we're glad to see it go to the Law Amendments Committee and we're hopeful we can get it passed in this session. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our Leader and our Justice Critic, I stand in my place this evening and say that we too will be supporting Bill No. 19 as it moves through the House. I want to commend the minister for bringing this bill forward this evening. I believe that it's an important protection for Nova Scotians and I think all Parties in this House realize that this is a bill, as the NDP House Leader states, that may be able to be improved on over time. Certainly it's a first step to have it here and hopefully it will meet with a smooth passage throughout the Law Amendments Committee and on to third reading. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Leader of the Opposition and also the House Leader for the Liberal Party for their support of this government bill. We can stand in the House and we can all take credit for good things that have happened here. This is an initiative of government and over the next coming weeks there's going to be a pattern formed here that this government is intent on increasing the penalties and supporting the laws in this province, bringing new legislation such as this, that will make our province as safe as we possible can, and that's what Nova Scotians want.

Mr. Speaker, this is a good bill that goes a long way to doing that and with that I move to close debate on second reading of Bill No. 19.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 19. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 16.

Bill No. 16 - Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day Act.

[Page 317]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I could say that I'm proud tonight to rise on this bill but it's also a sad issue that we have to bring before this House Bill No. 16, Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day Act. As we've seen this past year, police officers across this country have lost their lives in the line of duty. A lot of times these are veteran police officers but many times they are new recruits who have opted to ensure they bring peace across this country. I think that it's a sad but real demonstration of the courageous and selfless acts these many men and women do on a daily basis, to do everything they can to keep our communities safe.

[7:45 p.m.]

This situation illustrates that the job comes at a great personal risk for those who keep peace in Canada and here in Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, under the Police and Peace Officers' Memorial Day Act, the third Sunday of each October will be designated as a special day for Nova Scotia to commemorate peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty. It will be an opportunity for all of us to pause for a moment, to think of the great sacrifice of those who have given their lives protecting others, who paid the ultimate price; we are grateful for their selfless actions.

Since the 1930s, Mr. Speaker, 15 Nova Scotians have died in the line of duty in this province, and while they deserve our recognition every day, an annual designated day will ensure that we take the time to properly acknowledge their service and commitment to their fellow Nova Scotians. I know the Nova Scotia Chiefs of Police Association recently passed a motion supporting the designation of an annual day to mark fallen peace officers. This bill acknowledges our mutual commitment to honour those heroic Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the support of all the members of this Legislature in quick passage of this legislation, so that this October this bill will be enacted and law in this province to support, again, the recognition of police officers and peace officers who have lost their lives in the line of duty to ensure that each and every one of us and our families have a safe community. (Applause)

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, throughout each end of this province, every day, police officers put on their uniforms. They wear them with pride, but remember that they protect each and every one of us as citizens. They protect our children, our grandparents, they protect society, they put their life on the line each and every day that they put their uniforms on. I'm also proud to stand in my place today and realize that I do agree that there should be a day to recognize police and peace officers, the memorial day Bill, each and every day they

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put their lives on the line for our families and for all us to make our communities a safer place. I, too, will be supporting this bill, myself and my caucus members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, every now and then there's legislation that comes through the Legislative Assembly that everyone agrees makes perfect sense. And in this case, in the case of Bill No. 16, the Police and Peace Officers Memorial Day Act, is such a piece of legislation. The men and women of this province who serve and protect the public in Nova Scotia, and included among them, one of my brothers is a police officer, and the Justice Minister is a former police officer. My brother is a member of the RCMP, a proud member of the RCMP, who, by the way, is on his way back to Nova Scotia to serve in Canso, so I should serve notice to the people of Canso to beware.

It's a profession, Mr. Speaker, as you're well aware, that we take for granted. We take it for granted that our police officers are on the streets and putting their lives on the line every day. It's quite fitting to pay tribute to those who have lost their lives in the line of duty, that this province would set aside one day every year to do exactly that. I congratulate the Minister of Justice for putting this bill forward. Of course, we intend, as the Liberal caucus, to give it our wholehearted support. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite for their positive comments, and we look forward to speedy passage. I should mention that it is the police and peace officers - and peace officers include an array of other folks, such as correctional officers, it includes fisheries officers, it includes other officers who are sworn as peace officers in this province. So, it's police and peace officers. We owe a great deal of thanks to all of those folks. It's an honour for me tonight to close debate and move second reading of Bill No. 16.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 16. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

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MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I move that the House adjourn, to sit again tomorrow morning beginning at 9:00 a.m., until 6:00 p.m. After the daily routine, we'll move into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply, followed by Public Bills for Second Reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to now rise and meet tomorrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We stand adjourned.

[The House rose at 7:50 p.m.]

[Page 320]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 116

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the 8th annual Berwick Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony was held in June 2006; and

Whereas Craig Prall's athletic career began as a child, playing in his father's school gymnasium, he soon developed outstanding hockey skills, on one team he excelled as a forward, and on a second team he mastered the skills of goaltending; and

Whereas Craig's skills at the hockey rink were matched by his abilities on the fastball diamond, and it is for his lifetime achievements in both sports that Craig has been inducted into the Berwick Sports Hall of Fame 2006.

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Craig Prall on this recognition and wish him continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 117

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Samantha Anne McIver, a student at River Hebert District High, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005-06 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County, and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to the community that they have given a lot of themselves, and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Samantha Anne McIver on receiving this outstanding award and wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 321]

RESOLUTION NO. 118

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Clifford Lee Bennett, a student at Parrsboro Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005-06 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County, and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to the community that they have given a lot of themselves, and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Clifford Lee Bennett on receiving this outstanding award and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 119

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Jillian Brookins, a student at Oxford Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005/2006 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to community that they have given a lot of themselves and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jillian Brookins on receiving this outstanding award and we wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 322]

RESOLUTION NO. 120

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Andrew Ellis, a student at Springhill Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005/2006 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to community that they have given a lot of themselves and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Andrew Ellis on receiving this outstanding award and we wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 121

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Ryan Fahey, a student at Oxford Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005/2006 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to community that they have given a lot of themselves and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ryan Fahey on receiving this outstanding award an we wish him continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 122

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Rachel Gamblin, a young student at Advocate District School, has had a long and tiring road to overcome, and is well on her way to fulfilling her dance dreams; and

Whereas a serious knee injury threatened the normal everyday life for this young Highland dancer when she went through extensive testing, physiotherapy and reconstructive surgery; and

Whereas after a long, hard road of rehabilitation, never having given up on her dream, Rachel received the blessing of her doctor to once again participate and compete in dance, and she rejoined the dance school, and in May 2006, she brought home one gold, three silver and a bronze medal in her division from the Capital Feis in Ottawa;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rachel Gamblin on these outstanding achievements, and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Brittany Herrett, a student at Springhill Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005-06 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County and Hants County; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to community that they have given a lot of themselves, and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Brittany Herrett on receiving this outstanding award, and wish her continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 124

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Tyler Jackson, a Grade 12 graduate of Oxford Regional High School, is a high school athlete who should and can be admired and respected for the strength and heart that he possesses for his team; and

Whereas Tyler was born with cerebral palsy and has gone through many operations over the years and has never used this as an excuse to accept anything but the best he can give in all aspects of his life; and

Whereas Tyler is a thrower but was needed by his teammates to join in as a runner in the relay race, and he would not use his cerebral palsy as an excuse to let his team down, so as he ran, it was noted that a tremendous amount of pressure is placed on the outside parts of the body, the right side being his weaker side, and it was notable that he was starting to suffer from the effort, and he stumbled and fell hard, rolled over once, and he got to his feet torn and bleeding, and continued on to pass on the torch to the next runner, inspiring the teammates from all communities and every spectator, who were on their feet cheering him on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tyler Jackson on his strength and determination that has shown the character of this young man who has taught us all a lesson, and we know that he will be a success in whatever endeavours he decides to pursue.

RESOLUTION NO. 125

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Amy Victoria Anne McCallum, a student at Parrsboro Regional High School, was honoured to receive the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for the 2005/2006 school year; and

Whereas Honourable Myra Freeman, Lietenant Governor of Nova Scotia, presented the medals to only 29 students from Cumberland County, Colchester County, and Hants County; and

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Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Medal is given to recognize these students who have shown through their studies and commitment to community that they have given a lot of themselves, and they deserve to be recognized, celebrated and cheered on.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Amy Victoria Anne McCallum on receiving this outstanding award and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 126

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Bev Jewkes of Springhill was honoured by her friends, family and her co-workers and the board of the GOVRC as she retired after 36 years of dedicated service; and

Whereas Bev baked, packaged and produced products for the GOVRC for 36 years and has always been dedicated to her work, never missing time and never taking time off for a vacation; and

Whereas Bev has been at the GOVRC since 1970, when it first opened, and is loved and will be missed by all as she retires to the High Crest Nursing Home, where she will no doubt spread her warmth to many in need;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Bev Jewkes on her retirement after 36 years of service, and thank her for her dedication to the GOVRC for those many years and wish her all the best in the future.