Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-10

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Cecil Clarke

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2006

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health: Northwood Extended Care Facility - Rocky Lake Commons,
Hon. L. Goucher ~ 459
TPW: Route 210 - Upgrade, Ms. V. Conrad 460
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Foreign Animal Disease Emergency Support Plan - N.S. Response Plan,
Hon. B. Taylor 460
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 215, Oake, Cathy/LeMoine, Terry: Tim Hortons - Kandahar,
The Premier 463
Vote - Affirmative 463
Res. 216, Thompson, Ian: Gallivan Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament -
Hole-in-One, The Premier 463
Vote - Affirmative 464
Res. 217, Windsor, Howard - Retirement, Hon. A. MacIsaac 464
Vote - Affirmative 465
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 53, Day Care Act, Mr. T. Zinck 465
No. 54, Wilderness Areas Protection Act, Ms. D. Whalen 465
No. 55, Public Highways Act, Mr. L. Glavine 465
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 218, Stothart, Chris - Shining Star Award, Mr. J. MacDonell 465
Vote - Affirmative 466
Res. 219, Mira Gala: Organizing Comm. - Congrats.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 466
Vote - Affirmative 467
Res. 220, Eric Graves Mem. JHS - Outdoor Classroom Proj.,
Ms. J. Massey 467
Vote - Affirmative 468
Res. 221, N. Preston - Grads. Banquets: Grads. - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 468
Vote - Affirmative 468
Res. 222, Fage, Muriel: N.S. Sport Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. B. Taylor 468
Vote - Affirmative 469
Res. 223, Ballie, Sgt.-Major Bill: Sch. Naming - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 469
Vote - Affirmative 470
Res. 224, Healy, Helen - Park West Sch.: Serv. - Thanks,
Ms. D. Whalen 470
Vote - Affirmative 471
Res. 225, Robbins, Dale: Death of - Tribute, Hon. J. Muir 471
Vote - Affirmative 471
Res. 226, Shubley, Kyle: Brookside JHS - Male Athlete of Yr.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 472
Vote - Affirmative 472
Res. 227, McLean, Melvin/McNeil, Mrs. Lee: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 472
Vote - Affirmative 473
Res. 228, Lt.-Gov. Medals: Lun. Co. Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 473
Vote - Affirmative 474
Res. 229, Dubois, Elizabeth/Richardson, Andrea - Duke of Edinburgh Awards,
Mr. T. Zinck 474
Vote - Affirmative 474
Res. 230, Woodworth, Frank - Cdn. Blood Serv. Award,
Mr. L. Glavine 475
Vote - Affirmative 475
Res. 231, Dorrance, Adam/N.S. Chess Team - Accomplishments,
Hon. D. Morse 475
Vote - Affirmative 476
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 232, RCL Br. 38 - New Hall: Opening - Congrats., Ms. V. Conrad 476
Vote - Affirmative 477
Res. 233, Kennedy, Cst. John/Bernier, Cst. Nicolas/Smith, Cpl. Craig-
Reading Prog., Mr. H. Theriault 477
Vote - Affirmative 477
Res. 234, War Brides, Year of (2006) - Mark, Hon. B. Taylor 478
Vote - Affirmative 478
Res. 235, Vance/Wightman/Doyle/Boudreau - N.S. Men's Fours Lawn
Bowl Championship (2006), Ms. M. More 478
Vote - Affirmative 479
Res. 236, Fares Miller Group: Success - Wish, Ms. D. Whalen 479
Vote - Affirmative 480
Res. 237, Wiarton Willie: Death of - Tribute, Mr. H. Theriault 480
Vote - Affirmative 481
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 68, Com. Serv.: Mental Health - In-Patient Beds, Mr. D. Dexter 481
No. 69, Gov't. (N.S.): Gas Regulation - Reasons, Mr. M. Samson 483
No. 70, Health: Pain Clinic - Wait Times, Mr. D. Dexter 484
No. 71, Premier: Keep The Heat Prog. - Cancellation, Mr. D. Dexter 485
No. 72, Fin. - Equalization: Economist Panel - Recommendations,
Ms. D. Whalen 487
No. 73, Energy: Home Heating Assistance - Coverage, Mr. C. Parker 488
No. 74, PSC: Crown Attorneys - Gender Discrimination, Mr. K. Deveaux 489
No. 75, Hum. Res.: Conserve N.S. - CEO Appt., Mr. L. Glavine 490
No. 76, Environ. & Lbr.: WCB - Chronic Pain Decision, Mr. F. Corbett 491
No. 77, Agric.: AgraPoint - Failure, Mr. J. MacDonell 492
No. 78, EMO: Generator Purchase Prog. - Mun. Access,
Mr. H. Theriault 494
No. 79, Econ. Dev.: Job Creation - Statistics, Mr. H. Epstein 495
No. 80, TPW - Accessible Parking Spaces: Abuse - Action, Ms. M. More 496
No. 81, Environ. & Lbr. - Global Warming: Progs., Mr. K. Colwell 498
No. 82, Health Prom. & Protection: Tobacco Ads - Ban, Ms. V. Conrad 499
No. 83, Econ. Dev.: Brand N.S. - Ads Explain, Ms. J. Massey 500
No. 84, Energy - Wind Producers: Taxation - Fairness, Mr. F. Corbett 502
No. 85, Fish. & Aquaculture: Fish Plant Workers - Plans, Mr. H. Theriault 503
No. 86, PSC - Public Sector Careers - Youth Retention, Mr. G. Gosse 504
No. 87, EMO: Hurricane Season - Precautions, Mr. S. Belliveau 505
No. 88, Nat. Res.: Wildlife, Lands Game Sanctuaries - Intentions,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 507
Mr. C. MacKinnon
Mr. C. MacKinnon
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 71, Gov't. (N.S.) Gas Regulation - Reconsider 509
Mr. M. Samson 509
Hon. J. Muir 514
Mr. F. Corbett 517
Ms. D. Whalen 520
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 36, Senior Home Medication Review Act 526
Mr. S. McNeil 526
Hon. C. d'Entremont 528
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 532
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 535
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 537
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Scott 539
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 6:03 P.M. 539
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 10:00 P.M. 539^^^^
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thursday, July 13th at 540^^
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 238, Van Zoost, Phil - Retirement, Mr. C. Porter 541
Res. 239, Avon Valley Golf & CC: Status - Recognize,
Mr. C. Porter 541
Res. 240, Hopper's Jewellery - Anniv. (25th), Mr. C. Porter 542
Res. 241, Avon View HS - Football Team: Creation - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 542
Res. 242, MacNeil, Hugh - Avon River Heritage Soc.: Serv. - Commend,
Mr. C. Porter 543
Res. 243, Int'l. Elem. ESL Summer Camp - AVRSB - Organizing Efforts,
Mr. C. Porter 543
Res. 244, Bland, Allan - Fire Technician: Alberta Assist. - Applaud,
Mr. C. Porter 544
Res. 245, Hantsport FD - Anniv. (100th), Mr. C. Porter 544
Res. 245, Hantsport FD - Anniv. (100th), Mr. C. Porter
Res. 246, Crosby, Betty: Riverview HS Principal - Appt.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 545
Res. 247, Oravecz, Carolyn: Marion Bridge Elem. Principal - Appt.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 545
Res. 248, Stone, Jeanne: Mountainview - East Bay Complex Principal -
Appt., Mr. A. MacLeod 546
Res. 249, Urquhart, Marlene: Gorge D. Lewis Sch. Principal - Appt.,
Mr. A. MacLeod 546
Res. 250, Tufford, Dylan/Ramey, Garrett - Track & Field Championships,
Mr. A. MacLeod 547
Res. 251, Furey, Chad: Bridgewater HS Valedictorian - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 547
Res. 252, Stobbe, Marion: Lun. NSCC Valedictorian - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 548
Res. 253, Brazill, Robin: Parkview Educ. Ctr. Valedictorian - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 548
Res. 254, Rawding, Michael: Lun. Co. Adult HS - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 549
Res. 255, DesBrisay Museum - Heritage Gallery: Staff/Vols. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 549
Res. 256, MacDonald, Andrew - Track & Field Conquests,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 550
Res. 257, Relay for Life: Bridgewater Fundraiser - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 550
Res. 258, Read, Barbara: St. Joseph's Elem. (N. Sydney)/St. Mary's Elem. Principal -
Appt., Hon. C. Clarke 551
Res. 259, MacDonald, David: Florence Elem. Sch. - Appt.,
Hon. C. Clarke 551
Res. 260, Holland, Donnie: Sydney Mines JHS Principal - Appt.,
Hon. C. Clarke 552
Res. 261, Briggs, Janet: Thompson JHS Principal - Appt.,
Hon. C. Clarke 552
Res. 262, Miles, John: Bras d'Or Elem. Principal - Appt.,
Hon. C. Clarke 553
Res. 263, Jackson, Judy: St. Joseph's Elem. (Sydney Mines) Principal -
Appt., Hon. C. Clarke 553
Appt., Hon. C. Clarke
Res. 264, Blais, Patsy: Mem. Comp. HS Principal - Appt.,
Hon. C. Clarke 554
Res. 265, Pioneer Cemetary: Protectors - Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 554
Res. 266, Dobrowolski, Sarah: Athletic Ability - Applaud,
Hon. W. Dooks 555
Res. 267, Spicer, Katie: Athletic Achievement - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 555
Res. 268, Steeves, Kari-Lynn - Cdn. Corr. Services Prog.: Graduation -
Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 556

[Page 459]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, JULY 12, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

1:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We'll begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition containing 1,500 names, concerning the Northwood Extended Care Facility for the Cobequid Health area, and it reads as follows:

"We the undersigned are very concerned by the rumor circulating that Northwood have decided to locate the facility in Hammond Plains.

We believe the Rocky Lake Commons to be a superior location; more central, nearer to the Cobequid Health Centre, adjacent to shopping, with many youth facilities (the elderly will enjoy the young people), excellent transportation with the Burnside Expressway soon to be built, plus the land is available immediately for development."

459

[Page 460]

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature as well and wish to submit this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause is:

"Route #210 west from Greenfield to Route #8 is in bad shape and needs upgrading. This is an important connecter route for business, commuters to Liverpool, residents travelling to medical appointments and for the Greenfield Fire Department to respond to fire and medical emergencies."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the Legislature today to announce the signing of Nova Scotia's national response plan in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak such as avian influenza. We are extremely pleased to have developed this plan with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency.

The Foreign Animal Disease Emergency Support plan, or FADES as we refer to it, looks at the prevention, early detection and quick response to any foreign animal disease outbreak that may develop in the province. This is key to ensuring the sustainability of our agriculture sector.

Mr. Speaker, we have been working on developing this plan following the outbreak of the avian influenza in British Columbia in 2004. This FADES plan was developed through consultation with the two levels of government and stakeholders. Having an effective emergency plan in place prior to any outbreak is critical to its control and eradication. By understanding the process and steps to follow in the event of a foreign animal disease outbreak, we can respond quickly to the situation.

[Page 461]

Many of our agricultural producers in Nova Scotia have been working on their own emergency plan, which will link to our plan. Even with a quick and effective response to any outbreak, we know it could cause major social and economic losses. So depending on the issue, our response plan calls for such actions as quarantine, eradication practices, surveillance testing and repopulation.

We will regularly review and update the plan, as well as carry out exercises that will ensure that the contents remain pertinent and up to date. It's important that government and industry communicate on a regular basis and are ready to implement an emergency plan if needed.

I want to thank the Canadian Food Inspection Agency and industry for working with us on the national FADES plan. I want to also commend industry on their efforts to develop specific response plans for their sector. It has been a joint effort on the part of many people, and I also want to commend the honourable Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture for his support to this initiative, and I want to thank you, Mr. Speaker, and all members of the House. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in the absence of the Agriculture Critic, it is my pleasure to respond to this issue. I would like to say that we are glad to see that the province is preparing for such an event as the avian flu, a possible outbreak. We certainly hope and pray that we will not be encountering such a situation as British Columbia did.

Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the minister, the present minister and the former minister; it's nice to be able to have something to commend this government on. I think this is very appropriate to say a job well done. Any outbreak will lead to economic hardship and severe losses to our economy and for preparing for those situations we can only hope that impacts will be lessened if, in fact, an outbreak does happen here. This is something our Agriculture Critic hopes to get more details on from the minister in the near future.

In concluding, Mr. Speaker, I do want to say job well done to the minister. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

AN HON. MEMBER: We told him you were a good guy.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Is that a response for his reply, or the fact that I was standing up? (Applause)

Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the minister for the advance copy of his statement. We, as a caucus, are extremely pleased to see this plan unfold because quite frankly,

[Page 462]

about a year ago when I suggested that this province wasn't ready, I was accused of fear-mongering. I'm pleased today that the minister has acknowledged that we weren't. We have all gone through what has happened in the agriculture industry when a disease hits our country and we are not prepared for it, in the mad cow situation. Even though it didn't arrive in our province, it affected the industry and it affected the confidence of Canadians in the food security and whether or not the products they were buying were safe.

I am pleased to see that the province has worked with the federal government and its other counterparts to ensure that this plan is here. Part of this plan, Mr. Speaker, looks at three phases: prevention, early detection and a quick response. It is important for us, as a province, to be prepared if and when, quite frankly, it happens here in this province. More important, I'm pleased to see that this plan is dealing with the prevention side. Many of our agricultural community members have been way ahead of us. If any of you have been on a poultry farm in this province, you know they have been dealing with this issue for the last number of years and it is time that we, as elected officials, have caught up and begun to recognize the seriousness of the fact that this is going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, another part that I think the minister should be commended on, but also I would encourage the minister to take special note of the part of the review process. The industry is changing and the industry changes on a regular basis. Whatever plan is in place, it is important that it is able to respond to the industry at that specific time. I want to say to the minister that I would encourage his department to keep a special watch on this, because it is critical that we be able to respond to the needs of the industry, as it begins to unfold.

In closing, I just want to say to the minister how important - and he knows this, coming from his industry - agriculture is to our rural economy and, quite frankly, to the economy of Nova Scotia. Our rural economy has been suffering ever since the BSE crisis hit in western Canada and it has affected the economy of Nova Scotia and the rural economy. You can only begin to image what would happen if the avian flu hit this province and what would happen to our rural economy.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister that this is a great first step. I want you to make sure that this plan is continually updated, so that we can assure Nova Scotians that not only are we prepared to protect the rural economy and the jobs that are associated with that, but we are prepared to be able to tell them that the food industry in Canada and in this province is secure, safe and it is the best in the world, and that we are leading the world in that. So with that, I will sit down. (Applause)

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: This Chamber is familiar with many types of outbreaks for which there are not prevention plans, however.

[Page 463]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 215

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas over the years Tim Hortons has grown to become an unofficial Canadian symbol, with a franchise now opening up a home in Afghanistan, appropriately opening on Canada Day to the open arms of deserving troops serving in Kandahar; and

Whereas two staffers from Lower Sackville, Cathy Oake and Terry LeMoine, are part of the Tim Hortons crew who are serving up double-doubles and Boston Creams to lineups on a daily basis; and

Whereas as Mr. LeMoine was quoted in The Daily News today, "'It makes you feel really good.' . . . to give Canadian soldiers a little piece of home.";

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute our soldiers and their new supportive "crew", including our own Nova Scotian contingent of Ms. Oake and Mr. LeMoine, who are also braving the heat and dangerous conditions through their work at Tim Hortons in Kandahar for serving up a little reminder of life in Canada one cup at a time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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

[Page 464]

Whereas the saying "it couldn't happen to a nicer guy" was never more true when Ian Thompson hit a hole-in-one at the 22nd Annual DownEast Communications Danny Gallivan Cystic Fibrosis Golf Tournament; and

Whereas Mr. Thompson, our province's senior representative in Ottawa, was the founder, 22 years ago, of the tournament to help raise funds to find a cure for the devastating disease which so tragically ended the lives of his beloved and talented children, Jane and Rob;

Whereas this is just what this annual tournament did, raising almost $800,000 over the more than two decades it has been held;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ian Thompson on what he calls a lucky shot, which did net him a nice prize, but more importantly, signaled another successful tournament and raised further-needed support to help find a cure for those living with CF.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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

Whereas Howard Windsor, having served in excess of 28 years as a member of the Public Service of the Province of Nova Scotia, will be retiring at the end of this week; and

Whereas Howard Windsor has served the province in many capacities over those 28 years, most recently as Deputy Minister to the Premier, Deputy Minister of Treasury and Policy Board, and Deputy Minister of Communications Nova Scotia; and

[Page 465]

Whereas Howard Windsor has provided tremendous service, support and leadership to the Public Service of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their thanks and appreciation for his dedicated service to the province for over 28 years, and wish Howard Windsor and his family our sincere best wishes for a happy and fulfilling retirement.

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. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 53 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 120 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Day Care Act. (Mr. Trevor Zinck)

Bill No. 54 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 27 of the Acts of 1998. The Wilderness Areas Protection Act. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

Bill No. 55 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 371 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Highways Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 218

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

Whereas the many dedicated volunteers throughout our communities make good things happen; and

[Page 466]

Whereas Mr. Chris Stothart of Hants East Rural High has been active in holding positions on various student bodies; and

Whereas on April 28, 2006, Mr. Stothart was recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with a Shining Star Award for his outstanding contributions to the school and to his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Chris Stothart on receiving the Shining Star Award and wish him much success in further volunteer endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 219

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

Whereas the Mira Gala concluded its week-long celebrations on July 8, 2006, in Marion Bridge; and

Whereas this celebration has been ongoing for 30 years welcoming former residents and tourists to enjoy a parade, concerts, dances and barbeques to celebrate life along the Mira River; and

Whereas the Mira River is the longest river system in Nova Scotia and has been made famous by Allister MacGillvray's song Out on the Mira;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizing committee for their volunteer efforts to stage this important country-flavoured festival and extend its best wishes as plans begin for next year's Mira Gala.

[Page 467]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 220

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 recently had the pleasure to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Eric Graves Memorial Junior High School outdoor classroom; and

Whereas this event included the removal of asphalt and digging holes for the placement of trees; and

Whereas due to the volunteer efforts of community members, staff, students and the Evergreen Foundation, students have access to a lovely outdoor classroom complete with sitting stones;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly congratulate those involved in the outdoor classroom project at Eric Graves Memorial Junior High School, and thank them for all they have done for our students and our 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.

[Page 468]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 221

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

Whereas on June 24, 2006, the St. Thomas United Baptist Church of North Preston held their annual Graduates' Banquet, recognizing all the members of their community who graduated this year from high school, university, college, and for the first time in the community a graduate from the RCMP Academy; and

Whereas this year they had more graduates than any previous year for a total of 103; and

Whereas these graduates bring pride to their community and set a standard for all other youth who are coming behind them;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate all the graduates from the North Preston community and wish them success with their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 222

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the individual I'm referencing in this resolution is the first cousin of the honourable member for Cumberland North.

[Page 469]

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

Whereas Muriel Fage is headed to the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame this October in the builders category; and

Whereas Muriel has been involved with curling since 1977 at the local, provincial, national and international level, serving as President of the Nova Scotia Ladies Curling Association, and sitting on the Board of Directors of the Canadian Curling Association; and

Whereas Muriel has chaired the Scott Tournament of Hearts, the MT&T Curling Classic Bonspiel, and in 2003, was elected to the board of directors of the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, and organizes the National Telethon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our hearty congratulations to Muriel Fage for her induction into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame.

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. 223

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

Whereas Bill Baillie was a regimental Sergeant-Major with the North Nova Scotia Highlanders from 1939 to 1945, who helped liberate Authie, located in Normandy, France; and

Whereas Mr. Baillie often returned to Authie, first as part of a documentary for the CBC, and for more than 25 years fundraising for the children of the community, establishing the Children of Authie Fund to raise money for their school, until his death in 2002; and

[Page 470]

Whereas in 2003, the Authie School was named the Bill Baillie School in his honour, and in June of this year, many of his family members once again travelled to Authie to donate his war medals and hat to this school;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate all the Baillie family members for this fine and fitting memorial to a true hero, Sergeant-Major Bill Baillie, North Nova Scotia Highlanders.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 224

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

Whereas Helen Healy is leaving Park West School after serving as vice-principal and principal since its opening in September 2000; and

Whereas Helen has successfully managed the challenges of this school that serves the fast-growing and diverse community of Clayton Park West; and

Whereas Helen worked tirelessly to include parents in all aspects of their children's education by nurturing a strong PTA and holding special events, such as literary cafes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank Helen Healy for her leadership and service while at Park West School, and wish her the best of luck as principal at Hammonds Plains Elementary School in September.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 471]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 225

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

Whereas it was with great sadness, in the midst of the general election, we learned of the loss of a friend to many in this House, Mr. Dale Robbins; and

Whereas before his retirement only a few years ago, Dale served as Director of Administration in the Office of the Speaker; and

Whereas he served with great honour throughout his years with government, assisting each MLA and their caucus offices with unending patience, efficiency and kindness for the last 10 years of his government employment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute Dale's life and his incredible work ethic, a life ended only after an incredible battle with cancer, and send condolences to his beloved wife, children and family.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 472]

RESOLUTION NO. 226

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

Whereas Kyle Shubley was chosen as the Male Athlete of the Year at Brookside Junior High School; and

Whereas, through his hard work and dedication, Kyle achieved this honour; and

Whereas Kyle Shubley's commitment to his school work and sports is exemplary;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Kyle Shubley on his selection as Brookside Junior High School's Male Athlete of the Year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[1:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 227

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 Mr. Melvin McLean is the President of the Hub Amateur Athletic Club, and Ms. Lee McNeil is a member of the Hub Club's Fundraising Committee; and

Whereas Ms. Lee McNeil had organized the 22nd Annual Christmas Daddies Mixed Slo-pitch Tournament, which was held at the Hub Amateur Athletic Club in Glace Bay; and

[Page 473]

Whereas this is the 22nd year for the Amateur Athletic Club hosting this event to raise funds for Christmas Daddies - 14 teams participated this year raising over $1,500;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate both Mr. Melvin McLean and Ms. Lee McNeil for their dedication in hosting and fundraising this event.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 228

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 celebrating the success of individuals promotes self-confidence; and

Whereas public recognition of students who achieve high academic standards encourages others to aim for greater academic success; and

Whereas six students in Lunenburg County were presented the Lieutenant Governor's Medal for demonstrating qualities of leadership and service within the school community while performing admirably in the classroom;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Kathleen Conrad and Christopher Ritcey-Conrad of Parkview Education Centre, Stephanie Tidd and Nicholas Sanford of New Germany Rural High, and Adrian Snow and Chelsea Hillier of Bridgewater High School for their outstanding achievements during their Grade 11 year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 474]

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 North.

RESOLUTION NO. 229

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

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Award, also known as the Young Canadians Challenge, is a mark of excellence for Canadian students; and

Whereas the qualifications to achieve the Duke of Edinburgh Award are rigorous and challenging and are designed to encourage young people to develop and maintain healthy, active lifestyles and get involved in their local communities; and

Whereas Dartmouth North residents Elizabeth Dubois and Andrea Richardson were recently awarded the Duke of Edinburgh Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elizabeth Dubois and Andrea Richardson as two Duke of Edinburgh Award recipients on this tremendous accomplishment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 475]

RESOLUTION NO. 230

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

Whereas on May 31, 2006, Frank Woodworth was recognized by Canadian Blood Services for his over 75 donations of blood; and

Whereas Frank has organized 17 of the Berwick Lions Club's blood donor clinics over the past 30 years; and

Whereas the Berwick blood drives have collected 444 units of blood between April 2004 and March 2005, saving over 1,300 lives;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Frank Woodworth for receiving this honour and recognize the contribution the Berwick Lions Club has made to others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 231

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

Whereas Nova Scotia sent a team to compete in the National Chess Championships for students, held in Moncton on May 22nd and 23rd; and

Whereas one of our team members, Adam Dorrance, won all nine of his games to win the Canadian Grade 2 championship; and

[Page 476]

Whereas this is just the second time a Nova Scotian has won a national title in this event;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize and applaud the accomplishments of all our young chess team, and in particular the performance of our new Canadian Grade 2 champion, Adam Dorrance.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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 work of veterans and Legion members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38 is honourable and they are proud to work in Queens County; and

Whereas this dedicated group of veterans and members could no longer financially afford the upkeep of their former Legion Hall and so committed to fundraising to support the construction of a new, smaller and more manageable Legion Hall; and

Whereas on June 3, 2006, the veterans and members of Branch 38 officially opened the doors to their new Legion Hall with a dedication ceremony celebrated by Legion members and residents from across many communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize and congratulate the remarkable veterans and members from the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 38 on the opening of their new Legion and offer them best wishes for many years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 477]

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. 233

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

Whereas in 1999 Constable John Kennedy of the RCMP in Stellarton began a program with the police and local communities to help children become comfortable with reading; and

Whereas "Stopping Crime, One Book at a Time" is a successful program where officers act as a bridge between communities, various types of libraries, such as public and school libraries, and even health clinics and women's shelters; and

Whereas Constable Nicholas Bernier of the Digby RCMP and Corporal Craig Smith are delivering a summer full of reading to the children of Bear River First Nations community promoting this valuable program;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the extra work that Constable Bernier and Corporal Smith are providing to the children of Bear River and hope that others may follow their example.

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 478]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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

Whereas between 1942 and 1948, 64,451 war brides and their children came to Canada, with almost all of them arriving at Pier 21 here in Halifax; and

Whereas this unprecedented influx of young women had a large influence on Canadian society as descendants of war brides and their dashing Canadian husbands number in the tens of thousands; and

Whereas the Colchester Historical Society Museum is compiling binders of photos and stories collected from the war brides in the county and until the end of the year the exhibit entitled "They Followed Their Hearts" will be featured in the museum. In addition, the Truro Daily News has been running a weekly series profiling these amazing women;

Therefore be it resolved that this House join with six other Canadian provinces in marking 2006 as the Year of the War Bride and commend the Colchester Historical Society Museum and the Truro Daily News for telling their important stories.

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. 235

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

[Page 479]

Whereas the four lawn bowling facilities in the Halifax-Dartmouth area include the Dartmouth, Bedford, Saint Mary's and Wanderers Clubs; and

Whereas the 2005 Provincial Men's Fours Team includes two Dartmouthians, Alex Vance and Wally Boudreau; and

Whereas this team will be representing our province at the Canadian Lawn Bowls Championships starting August 14th in Regina, Saskatchewan;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Alex Vance, John Wightman, Graham Doyle and Wally Boudreau for winning the 2005 Nova Scotia Men's Fours Lawn Bowling Championship and wish them well at the 2006 Canadian Championships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 236

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

Whereas WM Fares and Associates and J. Douglas Miller Architects and Planners have amalgamated to form Fares Miller Group - Architects, Engineers, Planners; and

Whereas Wadih Fares and J. Douglas Miller both bring many years of experience in development to the new organization; and

Whereas the Fares Miller Group will bring together a professional team with innovative ideas and experience to serve the development community;

[Page 480]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Wadih Fares and J. Douglas Miller and wish them every success with the Fares Miller Group.

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. 237

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

Whereas weather prediction is a difficult and complicated matter, taking years to study and perfect; and

Whereas Wiarton Willy, an icon of weather prediction with a proven track record of 85 per cent accuracy, died on Tuesday after a month-long illness due to infection; and

Whereas his fairly precise and accurate weather prediction made him a symbol for the Town of Wiarton, giving them world-wide recognition;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly thank Wiarton Willy for his years of service, as we look upon a life, once again, tragically cut short.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 481]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I draw the House's attention to the west gallery where I want to introduce Rene Ross. Rene, if you would stand. Rene is the Project Coordinator of the Social Assistance Reform in Nova Scotia: Moving Forward a Woman Positive Public Policy Agenda initiative, and I ask you to join me in welcoming her to the Assembly. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the west gallery I would like to introduce a few people, Starting with John McPherson, formerly of Glace Bay, and familiar to some of the members in this House, and now of Eastern Passage - sorry, the member for Glace Bay tells me he's always from Glace Bay - Ray Curran, formerly of Eastern Passage, now of Dartmouth; and my father, Eugene Deveaux, who used to be a councillor in Halifax County. He worked with the Minister of Energy. I want to welcome them to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, we welcome all our guests to the gallery today.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:43 p.m. and end at 3:13 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

COM. SERV.: MENTAL HEALTH - IN-PATIENT BEDS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. It has been demonstrated again and again in recent weeks that there is a deepening crisis in access to both in-patient mental health beds and supportive housing for mental health consumers in this province.

People in mental health beds are discharged, but can't leave, because there is nowhere for them to go. Likewise, people in the community in desperate need of in-patient mental health beds can't get in, because the beds are full. So my question to the Minister of Community Service is, how much longer will her department freeze community beds and delay projects that would bring some relief to the system and to mental health consumers?

[Page 482]

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the Leader of the Opposition for the opportunity to rise this afternoon and speak about an issue that certainly is a high priority to me and to the department. There is no question that we deal every day with a series of complex cases around the province and indeed many of these complex cases require a complex plan. I made it known in the House last week that I had indicated to the department that I wanted immediate steps to be taken to ensure that a five-bed facility would be ready. That's something tangible that we can more forward on and I fully expect those details to be rolled out in the immediate days to come.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, there are presently several proposals on the minister's desk to create badly needed new housing options for mental health consumers. One project on the South Shore has the donated land, some funding from donors and the endorsement of advocates, businesses and the community. The project would also provide a park space and river access for the public, something everyone can enjoy, and it provides high-quality supportive housing for mental health consumers. So I want to ask the Minister of Community Services, when can this group expect some forward motion on this project?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again, as we move forward with some of these homes and beds across the province, indeed, to serve all Nova Scotians, it would give me great pleasure to be able to move forward for something on the South Shore. I will certainly make the inquiries in the department to find out the specifics of that case and be pleased to get back to the Leader of the Opposition with the specifics on that one.

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's great, and maybe while the minister is at it, she can deal with this one as well. The Canadian Mental Health Association is spearheading a proposal to build 25 to 30 units in Dartmouth, but they waited without word for months and are now concerned that they may be frozen out of running their own project if it goes forward. These are just a couple of examples. So my question to the Minister of Community Services is when will these projects start moving forward so we can get discharged mental health patients out of hospitals and open up badly needed in-patient beds?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again to the Leader of the Opposition, I thank him for the opportunity to speak on this very important issue. As we move forward in the continuum of care, certainly my colleague in the Department of Health and I move forward as we deal with some of these complex cases across the province, indeed, we will be considering all proposals that come forward and be pleased to get back to the Leader of the Opposition with specifics on that case, as well, in the days to come.

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

[Page 483]

GOV'T. (N.S.): GAS REGULATION - REASONS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday we saw a small independent gas retailer refuse to adhere to the government's gas regulation system and raised the price higher than allowed. He knew he was breaking the law and could be fined, but simply could not survive under this system. When times are so desperate that Nova Scotians are willing to break the law, something is terribly wrong. There may soon be chaos in this province, much like in New Brunswick, with gas retailers refusing to obey laws, suppliers refusing to supply retailers and gas stations closing down. The situation we are faced with is because of this government's plan and commitment to base public policy on polls. There's clearly no leadership in that.

My question is, Mr. Premier, you put this system in place because you thought it would curry favour in the public eye, but consumers are now saying they don't want regulation, retailers are now saying they don't want it, my question is, what's left regarding regulation that you are clinging to?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Leader of the Liberal Party, the reason and the rationale for moving forward with regulation was to ensure stability for Nova Scotians at the pumps. I believe that the majority of Nova Scotians wanted us to move forward with that.

Mr. Speaker, the gentleman in question which the Leader has raised, has been already in contact - contact has been made between the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and that particular gentleman. There were issues that the independent gentleman was not aware of, and now he has been given that information.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier promised all Nova Scotians that this system would be the solution to our concerns. However, it has created a much greater problem to an already desperate situation. As one retailer has stated, "The province has betrayed us." No matter what type of system is put in, gas regulation is simply not the answer for our province, and the Premier has the independent report that he commissioned that tells him exactly that. A few months ago we had lower prices, retailers were not knowingly breaking laws, and we didn't have gas stations threatening to permanently close down. So my question to the Premier is, it has now been two weeks and already we are facing a desperate situation in our province, what is your plan now that you are forcing our rural retailers to break the laws or possibly have to close down their stations as a result of regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, before moving forward with gas regulation, one of the key groups we had discussions with was the gas retailers association. Indeed, there was a great deal of discussion on moving forward and gathering their input. There are guaranteed margins put in place for the retailers. We will continue to move forward in working with them. Yes, there will be questions that come up from time to time, and the government will work with

[Page 484]

them to ensure their questions are answered and that we provide stability at the pumps for Nova Scotians.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are seeing that the Premier's stability at the pumps means higher prices. We all wait to see what Saturday's new price is going to bring - more than likely even higher prices for Nova Scotians while at the same time clearly not providing independent retailers with the margins that they were enjoying prior to gas regulation. The whole system of gas regulation in many areas of this province is now leaving independent retailers and the middle suppliers with an even smaller margin than what they were receiving before.

The minister knows that. It was in Canso, he knows it's taking place in Richmond County - how many other areas of the province? My question to the Premier is - you knew gas regulation would not work based on that independent report, and you're now seeing, having it put in place, that it is not working - how much longer is it going to take before your government admits that it made a mistake on gas regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, when you take a look at the regulatory process, there are guaranteed margins in place. There are transportation costs recognized in the new regulated system. We, as a government, want to ensure stability at the pumps. There will be days where the price will be higher, there will be other days where it will be lower, but there will be a smoothing effect and that stability will be there for the people of our province at the pumps. I think that's something that we can all agree on that the people deserve to have.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: PAIN CLINIC - WAIT TIMES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Nova Scotians continue to wait for access to the pain clinic at the QE II. Last year the referral list contained 1,400 people, and one doctor at the clinic has referred to this as "the forever list". This situation has not improved and patients are waiting as long as five years to get into the clinic - five years - often in excruciating pain. My question to the Premier is, why has his government failed to take the necessary actions to address the pain clinic wait times here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the pain clinic is very important here in our province and, indeed, I agree with the Leader of the Opposition. We have an issue in the challenge of wait times here in our province, as we do across the country, and we continue to work within the Department of Health, across the district health authorities, to ensure that we invest - and that's why we are investing in facilities, investing in equipment, investing in needed drugs and front-line health care workers and will continue to do so. The Minister of Health has been doing so not only provincially, he has been working on this issue of wait times nationally and will continue to do so.

[Page 485]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government first invested money to study the pain clinic wait times in last year's budget, now their plan is to form a committee to talk about the pain clinic - a committee will take far too long to address an issue that needs concrete action now. We know we need more anesthesiologists, we need more resources, we need more staff at the clinic. There's a clinic in Cape Breton, and perhaps more satellite clinics will relieve the pressure at the QE II. So my question for the Premier is, why not just talk to the front-line workers and ask what they need in order to address the long waits?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to the Leader of the Opposition, in order to provide an appropriate update, I'll refer that to the Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, we know at this point that pain management in this province has wait lists that are far too long, and that's why the committee was struck some time ago. It has being chaired by Mr. John Malcom, who is providing utmost service to this province in all the things that he does, and it includes physicians, people in the DHAs, allied health professionals and, of course, DOH staff, and we have allocated $700,000 in this budget to address the recommendations coming from that committee, which will bring it to a total of $1 million this year alone to address the issue of pain management in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it has been six years - six years. I would think that after six years it's no secret that what this government wants to do is delay necessary resources that are needed. They delay spending that money. Whenever they want to do that, what they do is they issue a commission or they strike a committee. Well, you only have to look at long-term care or mental health to know that that's what the government does. I want to ask the Premier, it's not hard to figure out what is needed to reduce wait times, so why doesn't this government simply do it and bring long awaited relief to Nova Scotians? These are Nova Scotians who live every day in pain.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the minister has said, we are awaiting the appropriate recommendations from the committee, but recognizing that, there has been an additional $700,000 put in the budget to deal with this issue. I think that shows a commitment on behalf of the government, and it shows that the government really does want to deal with this issue.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREMIER: KEEP THE HEAT PROG. - CANCELLATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Most Nova Scotia households are heated by fuel oil. The price of home heating fuel has increased by more than 120 per cent in recent years. As a result, lower-income Nova Scotians spend an average of 14 per cent of their income on energy. Provincial heating assistance, despite its flaws, has helped many people on fixed and low incomes deal with skyrocketing costs of heating their

[Page 486]

homes. So my question for the Premier is this, will the Premier tell Nova Scotians why his government is cancelling its important low-income home heating relief?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, the government is providing HST relief to all Nova Scotians, regardless of their income. I'm sure we can take a look back at comments made by both the Leader of the Opposition and myself regarding this program, and perhaps we will do so. I'll look back at both our comments in the last number of months.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, taking the HST off home heating, an essential of life in our climate, is about tax fairness. Home heating assistance is required for thousands of Nova Scotians who live in energy poverty, because they must spend so much of their income on heat and electricity. This is about helping people avoid such depths of poverty that they cannot afford to stay warm during the winter. So my question for the Premier is this, will the Premier state now how he is going to tackle the increase in poverty that will occur because he has cancelled the province's long-standing home heating assistance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said, and I respect what the Leader of the Opposition is saying with regard to the Keep the Heat Program, but we cannot be all things to all people in our province. There are only so many dollars to deal with. Now the NDP may not realize that, but the reality here in our province is that we are taking major steps by taking the provincial portion of the HST off home fuel, regardless of what that home fuel might be. It's a significant step recognizing the challenges of all Nova Scotians, be it a senior or be it a family, and the government will continue to do so.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier doesn't seem to realize that these are two separate issues. We're talking about low-income individuals who are living in poverty, who need the assistance of government. This government usually waits until the last minute to announce its low-income heating rebates, when many of those low-income individuals already face the choice between home heat and food. The Affordable Energy Coalition is urging a long-term provincial strategy to reduce and eliminate what they call energy poverty. I would ask the Premier this, will the Premier say when his government is going to acknowledge that record-high prices mean that home heating assistance will be required again this winter?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has recognized, by providing the provincial portion of the HST. Annually, it will cost, I believe, $75 million, if I remember correctly. That's a significant commitment on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia to the people of our province. Certainly in the last number of years I've heard the Opposition speak at length about this issue. We both agree on this issue. In fact I think they very often criticize the Keep the Heat Program, and now we're hearing something totally different.

[2:00 p.m.]

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

[Page 487]

FIN. - EQUALIZATION: ECONOMISTS PANEL - RECOMMENDATIONS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. A month ago a panel of five economists commissioned by the Prime Minister made several recommendations with regard to equalization and the fiscal imbalance among provinces. Among the recommendations were proposals to cap the amount of money our province can receive under the Offshore Accord and also a proposal that could potentially clawback significant amounts of offshore revenue received by our province. Although the proposal could see Nova Scotia gain extra revenue in the first year, there's a significant concern that amounts would be decreased in the years to come. My question for the minister is, do you support the findings of the panel presented to the Prime Minister?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, to be very clear on this, the Government of Nova Scotia in no way would support anything that would in any way affect the Offshore Accord. I am very pleased to report to the House that I understand that Mr. Flaherty has made comments, that is the federal Minister of Finance, quite clear comments that they're not looking backwards at any agreements so the Offshore Accord should remain unimpaired.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think what the minister is saying is somewhat comforting but of course time will tell as we go forward. My concern today is that we've been getting mixed signals from the government. In the Budget Speech the minister was clear and raised concerns about the Offshore Accord, equalization payments and the fiscal imbalance issue however, Ron Russell who attended meetings during the election on behalf of the Premier stated that both himself and Premier MacDonald initially welcomed the results of the panel's proposals. At the same time, the Deputy of Intergovernmental Affairs stated that the province may not have done enough analysis to take a strong stance at that meeting. My question to the minister is, given the mixed signals from government, can you tell us today what the official stance of government is on this issue of the proposals from the economists to the Prime Minister?

MR. BAKER: To the honourable member, I believe that there may be some confusion around the fact that there have been two panel reports. There is the report to the Prime Minister that the honourable member alluded to, then there was a report by the council of the federation as well on this subject. What I believe the former Deputy Premier, Mr. Russell was referring to was the report to the council of the federation and not to the report to the Prime Minister. Again, to make it perfectly clear, the Government of Nova Scotia in no way would support any change that would affect the Offshore Accord.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important for the entire House to understand fully that this has enormous impacts to the province of Nova Scotia. I understand that the minister would agree with that. I want to ask my final question to the Premier. Mr. Premier it was unfortunate that you were unable to attend the meeting in June with the Prime Minister but another meeting is coming up at the end of July where equalization and the

[Page 488]

provincial fiscal imbalance will be at the forefront. My question to the Premier is, will you assure all Nova Scotians today that you will be attending that meeting and that you will advocate strongly that there be no cap on equalization payments and that there will be full protection for our Offshore Accord?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the answer is absolutely yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENERGY: HOME HEATING ASSISTANCE - COVERAGE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Energy. Following years of work by thousands of Nova Scotians and members of our caucus, the government has finally agreed to remove the HST from home heating sources: oil, electricity, propane, coal, firewood, or wood pellets. This HST relief will help many Nova Scotians with their heating costs but the program put forward by this government does not start until January 1, 2007 - halfway through this coming heating season and certainly after the Christmas lighting season. As we've heard just now from the Leader of the Opposition this government has cancelled low-income heating assistance programs, so my question through you to the minister is, why does this government refuse to offer heating assistance from the start of the heating season when it is really needed?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, the government is very aware of the difficulties that people experience through the winter months with heating. This government has put a plan in place, this government has put a solid plan in place, and one that the government is going to stand by. Also, it's not only just about the rebate of the HST on both fuel and energy costs in the home, but also it's an efficient use of energy.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, consumers are not the only ones who face a challenge dealing with this government's choosing of an arbitrary date to start the HST relief. I have been talking to retailers who say they will be hurt by this, as well. One building supply dealer tells me he will be stuck with a stockpile of wood pellets, and an oil wholesaler also indicates that this date will cause problems for him. After all, who wants to buy their cords of wood or use their extra bit of oil if it's cheaper after January 1st.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister again, when will he get in sync with the seasons and start this HST relief at the beginning of the heating season?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I say to the member across the floor, all new plans take certain timing, and we have to make sure that these plans are solid. This plan that has been delivered by this province is solid, and we put this forth so all Nova Scotians can benefit.

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MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, the government was finally starting to head in the right direction on this issue, and then when they admitted that heat is an essential and that it ought not to be taxed, that's great, yet they persist in taxing nearly for half the coming heating season. My final question to the minister is, how can you justify continuing to take in millions of dollars of tax revenue from something you have admitted should not be taxed in the first place?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I want to share some numbers with the honourable member across the floor. This government has a $70 million program in place - $70 million, $70 million. I could stand here all day and say the amount of $70 million. This government is aware of the cost of energy to low-income families and, once again, all Nova Scotians will benefit from this program.

Also, Mr. Speaker, there is $10 million in a program called Smart Energy Choices, $10 million which people can benefit from. Also, while the provincial government is awaiting the federal decision on EnerCan, it's making forward steps to put programs in place to help people to properly insulate and bring their house up to a place where they could afford their energy costs. Thank you.

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

PSC: CROWN ATTORNEYS - GENDER DISCRIMINATION

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. Female Crown Attorneys in this province are being treated unfairly by this government, and they have been for a number of years. Female Crown Attorneys who choose to take maternity leave lose up to one year of benefits with regard to pay scale and seniority. I would argue that this is very discriminatory against these female Crown Attorneys. They do a very important service for Nova Scotians. So my question to the minister is, why is his government continuing to discriminate against female Crown Attorneys?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, as the member knows, the Crown Attorneys negotiate their own agreement with the Province of Nova Scotia, and the Crown Attorneys will address that issue in discussions, I'm sure, in the future.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the minister understands. It should not be a matter for negotiation. There should be a minimum standard that every woman who works in the Civil Service has a right to ensure that when they go on maternity leave they do not have to be penalized for that. This would take only a simple policy change within the Public Service Commission to ensure that every female civil servant had this same benefit. So my question to the minister is simple, when is his government going to change this policy, direct the Public Service Commission to do the right thing, and stop discriminating against female Crown Attorneys?

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MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, obviously the member opposite would know that it's not an issue of straight seniority, it's of significant years of service, the way that the Crown Attorneys count their time. The issue here certainly is one that the Public Service Commission is prepared, and is exploring with the Crown Attorneys. Since the agreement expired this April, those discussions will occur in the future, this summer.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my last question is for the Minister of Justice. He's the minister in charge of the Public Prosecution Service, he's the minister in charge of the Human Rights Code and he's the minister who's supposed to be upholding the Charter of Rights in this province. My question to the Minister of Justice is simple, when is he going to enforce the Human Rights Code on his own government and ensure that this government stops discriminating against female Crown Attorneys?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member opposite for bringing a very important issue before this House. I've had the opportunity, as you know, to work with a lot of these Crown Prosecutors. I appreciate what the member is bringing before the House, and I will make a commitment to this House that through my department I will bring this issue forward, study it and place it under review immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

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

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. Both last week and again yesterday I posed a question to the Minister of Human Resources, and I must say the minister left me with far more questions than answers. As everyone is aware, this government recently chose to appoint a political friend to a well-paid important position that has yet to be created in this province. According to the business plan for the Public Service Commission - and I will table the executive summary - the minister is responsible for high-quality human resource principles and practices. My question to the minister is, do you believe that appointing an individual to a position that did not even go through a competition process is an example of a high-quality human resource management principle?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, part of this government's initiative with the Department of Energy is a program, Conserve Nova Scotia, which is extremely important for fuel efficiency, protection of the environment, and dealing with issues because of the high cost of fuel and because of our concern as a government over the state of our environment and being able to preserve it. Using the services of an existing individual to ensure that it's set up properly, then manage it, is a practical and right thing to do.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, well, we didn't get too far there. Last week the minister indicated that Heather Foley-Melvin possesses key skills to perform the job, namely

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understanding and learning. It sounds like these key skills are more or less found in about 99 per cent of working-age individuals in Nova Scotia. The minister's business plan also states that the minister is responsible for providing consistent application of human resource practices across the Public Service. Given that the minister is responsible for consistent application of human resource practices, would the minister please indicate whether appointing political friends, without going through an open and transparent competition, is a practice that is carried out by this government throughout all departments or was this a special case?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly would agree with the member opposite on one point, that Nova Scotians, as a skilled workforce, are some of the best in the country. Learning and understanding is part of the culture of education and employment in this province, and I'm pleased to see the member opposite acknowledge that particular fact. But I think it's important that people with experience who have been involved in government are there to help set up important institutions that will be of benefit to all Nova Scotians.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, well, it would appear that this government stands by its word when they state that Heather Foley-Melvin is qualified, the best-qualified, perhaps, in Nova Scotia to become CEO of Conserve Nova Scotia, and given that they are so certain that this is the case, will the Minister of Energy, before the end of business today, table a copy of the job description for the CEO of Conserve Nova Scotia, including the qualifications required for the position?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, earlier on this morning I had an opportunity to meet with Heather Foley-Melvin. At that particular time we discussed some operations within the department. She's going to work with the Department of Energy and I feel confident that this lady, who has a background in marketing and promotion and advertisement - this is what we need to forge ahead with the Department of Energy's plan and we're glad to have her aboard.

[2:15 p.m.]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WCB - CHRONIC PAIN DECISION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. As we're well aware in this House, in October 2003 the decision came down from the federal Court of Canada regarding chronic pain and stripped away many of the positions in the Workers' Compensation Act as related to chronic pain. Chronic pain sufferers in Nova Scotia should have been celebrating that case, and for a short time they were but now, due to the punitive actions at the WCB, many are back suffering even more.

[Page 492]

In my constituency alone, Mr. Speaker, I have an injured worker who is over 80 years old and has been in the system for over 60 years. His case will not be decided on because he was a pre-Charter injury. So I want to ask the minister responsible for WCB, why is he being so callous and allowing this to go on at the Workers' Compensation Board?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is the intention of the provincial government, as stated before, to compensate those who developed chronic pain on or after April 17, 1985, in light of the Supreme Court decision, and we are doing that.

MR. CORBETT: So, Mr. Speaker, what he's telling the House today is that has been decided on, that WCB has decided that it will not pay pre-Charter injuries. Can the minister tell me in this House today, when was that decided on and why weren't these workers told?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the member raises a very important issue in terms of chronic pain. The Workers' Compensation Board is looking at this issue and they're working very hard at it. We have hired 70 extra staff people to help deal with it. As you know, 6,000 individual cases have made application and all of them need to be individually appealed, and we're working hard at it.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, either that minister doesn't know his department very well or he's not being very forthcoming with this House. He made one statement which was erroneous, or he should have answered the other question and told us when those poor injured workers, like Mr. Poirier in Dominion, will know. Mr. Minister, you are abdicating your responsibility. This is shameful. When will these workers know - since you have told this House that that decision is made - when will these pre-Charter injured people know that they've been excluded?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the member obviously has constituents concerned about an issue. (Interruptions) I will check into this and get back to the member.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC.: AGRAPOINT - FAILURE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Agriculture. In April 2000 the Progressive Conservative Government cut nearly 100 experienced marketing crop and livestock experts, technicians and support staff from that minister's department - some of them with 31 years experience.

During the recent election this government said it would hire 10 support staff, and I assume that means they would be employed within the Department of Agriculture. Mr. Speaker, AgraPoint was created and is funded to the tune of $2.2 million a year to provide the support services to Nova Scotia's agricultural community. So I would like to ask the minister -

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who by the way is AgraPoint's sole shareholder - if hiring department support staff is an admission of AgraPoint's failure?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to say how proud I am of the record of this government on this side of the House and, in fact, we have committed to the farming community through our political platform, yes, to hire 10 additional support workers to help the farming community.

Mr. Speaker, I further would say that we were extremely pleased when we were the first province off the mark to establish a task force in this province to deal with the mad cow disease and that caucus, the NDP caucus, even though they were requested, did not send a member to support the mad cow task force and on the other hand, the Liberal caucus did send their Agriculture Critic.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, fortunately the NDP learned early on how useless Progressive Conservative task forces are. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, looking at the AgraPoint Web site, I discovered that Nova Scotia is not mentioned in their mission statement nor is the word "Nova Scotia" mentioned once in their About Us Page.

AgraPoint has an office in Kentville and one in Truro, but as yet has no one serving Cape Breton. AgraPoint has an employee working on Prince Edward Island in the Souris area so my question for the minister is, how does an AgraPoint employee on Prince Edward Island help Nova Scotia farmers, especially in light of the fact that farmers on our own island of Cape Breton don't have an AgraPoint staff posted there?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to tell the honourable member that this government and this minister is looking at the situation in Cape Breton and we expect in the coming future to have an announcement about AgraPoint and in fact, the coverage in Cape Breton. We're working hard with the farming community because, after all, farmers feed us all.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a good thing that farmers feed us all because they're finding it hard to swallow what this government has been feeding them.

You would have thought a government that cut agricultural services here wouldn't be using taxpayers' dollars to supply services in P.E.I. I want to ask the minister, will the minister stand in this House today and admit to using Nova Scotia taxpayers' dollars to fund services in other provinces when our industry is under serviced, clearly indicating the failure of his department to recognize the needs of the agricultural industry in our own province?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, it's important that the honourable member recognize the Board of Directors at AgraPoint is run essentially by industry. The very people he has criticized

[Page 494]

are running AgraPoint, and this government and the Department of Agriculture has a memorandum of understanding that is supported by industry. The professional who is providing the services from Prince Edward Island is doing so out of her own home at no cost to the Nova Scotia taxpayers, and yet the money is coming back to the Province of Nova Scotia. We're being extremely well served by the professional help that we're getting from Prince Edward Island. (Applause)

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

EMO: GENERATOR PURCHASE PROG. - MUN. ACCESS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Emergency Management . Yesterday, forecasters expressed concern that waters off the coast of Nova Scotia are now measuring two to five degrees warmer than usual. All this points to what could be an active hurricane season. I'm sure we can all recall the prolonged power outages of both Hurricane Juan and White Juan.

Last October representatives of EMO, during a committee meeting, mentioned a program to help municipal units purchase generators for comfort centres. As I understand it, the second and final phase of this program was announced in November. My question to the minister is, was there 100 per cent take-up on this program and do all the municipal units who made a request to this program have access to generators in case of any future emergencies?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks a very good question. Monies were made available in the last year to municipalities to cover the partial cost of generators that would be used in designated emergency or comfort centres throughout the province so that food and heat, if needed, could be supplied in the case of a natural disaster or any other type of occurrence. Those monies were fully utilized at approved comfort centres, last year. We continue to monitor what the demand is for future need of generators for those comfort stations and when the need is there, we will be taking appropriate actions to support them again.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, last year, during committee, concerns were expressed about the most vulnerable citizens, our seniors, who reside in nursing homes and facilities and who would require immediate attention and care, in times of emergencies. At that time, we expressed concerns as the Auditor General stated over two years ago that emergency planning for homes for special care needed to be reviewed. The response from EMO was that the Department of Health failed to provide a list of facilities to be assessed to ensure that nursing homes are ready for an emergency. My question to the minister is, has this list now been provided to EMO from the Department of Health, and have the assessments and emergency exercises been done on these facilities.

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MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member opposite, that assessment and work with the Department of Health is ongoing to ensure that those people in vulnerable situations through those homes can receive the greatest degree of protection during a natural disaster as possible. We will continue this year working with the Department of Health, and other departments across government, to ensure that we are in a position to provide the protection that is required and is possible under those conditions of a disaster.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of Health. I can't think of any segment of our population that deserves to be reassured that the homes they reside in are ready and prepared for an emergency than our seniors. My final question for the Minister of Health, given that it has been two years since the Auditor General issued a warning, are you 100 per cent confident that emergency plans for all homes for special care under your control are up to date and emergency exercises are routinely conducted?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: I thank the member opposite for highlighting this very important issue and I can assure all members of this House that the preparedness plans have been done and the Continuing Care Branch has identified all the needs and requirements of the seniors in the province who reside in our facilities, and that has been shared with the Department of EMO.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ECON. DEV.: JOB CREATION - STATISTICS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: This will be to the Minister of Economic Development. Mr. Speaker, this government has tried to claim credit for extensive job creation in recent years. It was one of their main claims during the recent election. The government tries to portray itself as a good manager of the economy but, between the election in 2003 and now, the total number of employed persons in Nova Scotia increased by only 11,000, not the 40,000 the government often mentions and, of those 11,000, some 10,000 have had to come through government subsidies of $24,000 per job.

Will the minister admit that his government has been claiming credit for way too many new jobs in Nova Scotia and that real job growth has been minimal?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I thank the member for recognizing the track record of this government since 1999. The job creation in this province is on record. We broke all records since 1999, when this Party formed the government in this province, and we stand very proud of that record.

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[2:30 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, thank you. Even if 1999 is taken as the base, it is still not 40,000, and there is more bad news. The Nova Scotia labour force has declined substantially, just in this last year. Between February 2005 and May 2006, over 7,600 people have left the Nova Scotia workforce, that's a 1.5 per cent drop in just 13 months. All the talk we hear about Nova Scotians moving to Alberta is real and it's showing up now in the official statistics. One of the anomalies associated with this is that when our young people leave the province, it makes our unemployment figures go down.

Mr. Speaker, will the minister confirm that out-migration is the real reason why our unemployment rate is dropping?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, what I will deal with is, unemployment is down, employment is up in this province. I can assure that member and all members of this House that this minister and my department and this government will be reaching out in every community in this province looking for opportunities for economic growth in this province.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's the labour market in rural Nova Scotia that is especially disturbing. In primary industry - manufacturing, food production and tourism - employment is in decline in all of them. Think Stora Enso, think Shaw Wood, think LightBridge, think Highland Fisheries. Will the minister explain to rural Nova Scotians why they have been abandoned by his government?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite and all members in this House, this government knows that there's a rural-based end of this province and we are dealing with every rural area in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have a great tool at our disposal and that's called the RDAs in our province. We are working with the RDAs and those RDAs are made up by local governments and local communities. I can assure the member opposite that we have the Office of Economic Development and we have Nova Scotia Business Inc. and they are doing their due diligence and they are finding and attracting new companies to come to our province.

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

TPW - ACCESSIBLE PARKING SPACES: ABUSE - ACTION

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Since their creation accessible parking spots have been the subject of abuse by unauthorized users, people with no permit, with an expired permit and sometimes even permits not belonging to them, are parked in the allocated spots. Holders of these permits do not get them for convenience, they obtain them out of need. A person in a wheelchair requires

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these wider spaces to manoeuver out of their vehicles. My question to the minister is, what is your government doing to curb the abuse of accessible parking spaces?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member indeed brings forward a question which is very worthy of the consideration of the House and of the municipalities in this province, which are responsible for the enforcement of parking regulations. I can assure the honourable member that the abuse of this is something we're not at all pleased with and we will certainly work with the municipalities to lessen that abuse to the greatest extent possible.

MS. MORE: Currently, someone found illegally in one of these spaces would receive a fine in Nova Scotia of $75. In Ontario the fine ranges from between $300 and $5,000 for the same infraction. For the benefit of persons with disabilities who need these parking spaces, something more needs to be done to deter those who would abuse them. This government has increased fines for other vehicle infractions and a change is needed in this case. My question for the minister is, when will he increase these fines to make them an actual deterrent to such abuse?

MR. MACISAAC: One of the concerns that we must take into account when considering fines is that you know you get so upset with the kind of abuse you see that you would really like to shove it to them in terms of the amount of the fine. Mr. Speaker, if you need me to change my language I'll try, but I just share the honourable member's frustration with people who abuse the parking spots. If the fine is too high, then the courts tend not to find people guilty in those circumstances. Certainly, I take the honourable member's suggestion, and we will have a look at current fines and what the practices are in other jurisdictions.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, certainly a significant increase in fines would deter the abuse of these parking spaces, but there are other transportation needs of the disabled community that must be addressed as well. Nova Scotia needs more accessible transportation. So I ask the minister, how will this minister work with representatives of the disabled community to develop better accessible transportation options?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I know from a previous portfolio that accessible transportation is an issue for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and I would ask that minister to respond.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is a very good question from the honourable member. This caucus has met with representatives of the disabled group annually, as I assume the other caucuses have, to address the case of more accessible transportation. There are programs in the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and there are monies available to organizations to improve accessible transportation.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - GLOBAL WARMING: PROGS.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Environment and Labour. One week ago today I posed a question to the Minister of Environment and Labour with respect to initiatives his department plans to take with respect to changing public attitudes about climate change. After making light of the situation, the minister responded that he would talk to the federal government. With all due respect, the federal Conservative Government has already shown how much priority they place on the environment by cancelling programs. Quite frankly, this minister's response is not good enough.

My question to the minister is, when will he, as minister, be announcing a replacement program that will encourage Nova Scotians in the impacts and actions they need to take in order to lessen the impact of global warming on Nova Scotia?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as I responded before- and I certainly didn't mean to make light of the member's comments because it's a very important issue for Nova Scotians, for Canadians, indeed, for all citizens on this globe of ours- that I had already touched base with the federal Minister of Environment, that I was looking forward to meeting with her and talking about this and other environmental issues. I intend to keep that promise that I made to the honourable member last time.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, two years ago New Brunswick partnered with the federal Environment Department to study the impact of sea level rise and climate change. Through the results of this study, New Brunswick has identified future rates of erosion as a result of sea level rise, so that vulnerable areas can be identified and appropriate measures implemented to protect these areas. Research yielded a 3-D map that can be used in computer simulations to see which areas would be flooded when sea levels rise to various heights. These results would be useful when it comes to evaluating coastal communities in times of sea surge. My question to the minister is, do we have similar information here in Nova Scotia so that we can know exactly which of our coastal communities are vulnerable and need to be protected when increased sea levels are accelerated as a result of climate change?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I personally, as MLA, have access to information that was published out of Acadia University that shows the change to Nova Scotia in regard to rising sea levels. However, the information that the scientist gave me from Acadia University, he told me, was provisional, and so I will endeavour for the honourable member to see if we have more accurate data that I can provide for him.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, one of the partners in the New Brunswick study was the actual team from Nova Scotia Centre for Geographic Studies, which used light detection and ranging technology with digital evaluation modeling to identify vulnerable areas. This begs the

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question as to why we in Nova Scotia have not engaged in a similar province-wide, provincially funded project. When will the minister follow New Brunswick's lead and implement a similar project in all coastal areas of Nova Scotia, for the safety of all Nova Scotians?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, as I've told the House on several occasions before, one of the very first things I did was meet with the head of Conserve Nova Scotia. We had a good discussion about these issues. We will continue to have those talks. I know that although there will be a narrow focus to that agency that there is the wider focus on air quality and I intend to follow through on those talks and on my promises I've made to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

HEALTH PROM. & PROTECTION.: TOBACCO ADS - BAN

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. The news that fewer teenagers are smoking in Nova Scotia is welcome. However, this government still has done nothing to address the blatant advertising by tobacco companies to our children and youth. Tobacco power walls are displays of products and advertising behind counters, often located near products children are attracted to like candy and videos. I ask the minister, when will this province ban tobacco power walls and force retailers to put these products out of sight, where they belong?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very important issue. We're very proud of our track record here in Nova Scotia, in the ability to reduce the prevalence of smoking, particularly in our young people. We've worked very hard with that. The tools and the measures that we've put in place have shown results and we'll continue to work toward further results.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, everything from poster height to the colourful packaging is designed to catch the eye and market these deadly products to the next generations. Tobacco companies invest a lot of money on researching how to hook children and youth on smoking, and it's up to this government to make it harder for them to succeed. Other provinces, most recently Prince Edward Island, have banned point-of-sale marketing and displays of tobacco products. I ask the minister, why is this government dragging its feet in doing the same thing?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my first answer, we're very proud of the work that we've done and the results that that work has shown here in Nova Scotia. We will continue to work, to find ways to reduce the rate of smoking in Nova Scotia. We know that smoking-related illnesses kill nearly 1,600 people every year here in Nova Scotia, and that's why we've dedicated so much time, so much effort and so much energy into reducing that rate of smoking prevalence.

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MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I am referring to the power walls of advertising that the tobacco companies use and for every teenager this province convinces to quit smoking, or not to start at all, the tobacco companies are coming up with countermeasures to ensure that they have a new generation of consumers. We must do everything we can to protect these young people from exposure to tobacco use.

So, Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, why won't he commit to bringing forward legislation banning point-of-sale displays this Fall?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, in fact, we already have committed to do that this Fall. In fact, it appears in our platform that we presented to Nova Scotia - Building for Families, Building for the Future. The platform's commitment is clear, a ban on aggressive point-of-sale advertising is one of the commitments that we made to Nova Scotians and we are doing it this Fall.

MR. SPEAKER: The member has been asked to table that document that he is referring to and will table a copy that he read from.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

ECON. DEV.: BRAND N.S. - ADS EXPLAIN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Since April 2003, Communications Nova Scotia's advertising budget has increased by nearly 90 per cent. Last year alone, it increased by almost $600,000. By March 2006, Communications Nova Scotia spent almost $4.8 million of taxpayers' dollars on advertising. Nearly all of this money was spent on the provincial Come to Life campaign.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the honourable Minister of Economic Development is, will this minister explain why Communications Nova Scotia spent $4.7 million advertising Nova Scotia to its own citizens? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The question being asked specifically refers to matters that would come before estimates before the House. I would ask the member to rephrase her question.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, why is the Department of Economic Development advertising to Nova Scotians, with our own taxpayer dollars? Why are they advertising information that we already know, to the tune of a lot of money? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: A fair question for the honourable Minister of Economic Development.

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HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I would love to respond to the question the honourable member posed to me, but I refer that to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to answer the honourable member's question. The fact is that not all Nova Scotians are aware of the information we provide through our campaign, through Brand Nova Scotia, and I believe it is important that Nova Scotians fully understand, through the Brand Nova Scotia initiative, the impacts.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, the more important part is the fact that the Brand Nova Scotia initiative reaches out well beyond Nova Scotia borders, to all Canadians and to all those who need to know about Nova Scotia.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, the Communications Nova Scotia business plan for 2006-07 states that the agency's role includes managing and delivering Nova Scotia's Brand initiative. As the business plan states, now that we have our mitts on it, Brand Nova Scotia is plunging forward with the brassy vigour of a marching band.

So, Mr. Speaker, although I cannot ask a direct question involving money, does the Minister of Economic Development think that he will continue marching along in the same (Interruptions) Health Promotion - whoever wants to answer the question, go for it. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Has the minister heard the question?

MR. BARNET: Yes, Mr. Speaker, we intend to continue marching along.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, the Communications Nova Scotia Business Plan also states that the environment in which we work values, in fact demands, accountability and demonstrable bang for buck. So does the Minister of Economic Development think that Communications Nova Scotia currently represents accountable or demonstrable bang for buck?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, could I have the question re-posed to me please?

MR. SPEAKER: About that outbreak protection.

Would the honourable member for Dartmouth East repeat the question for the honourable Minister of Economic Development?

MS. MASSEY: Not a problem, hope he has his ear plug in.

Mr. Speaker, the Communications Nova Scotia Business Plan states that the environment in which we work values, in fact demands, accountability and demonstrable bang

[Page 502]

for buck. So to the Minister of Economic Development, does the minister think that, indeed, Communications Nova Scotia currently represents a demonstrable bang for buck?

MR. HURLBURT: Yes, absolutely.

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

ENERGY - WIND PRODUCERS: TAXATION - FAIRNESS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is for the Minister of Energy. You know Nova Scotia has no policy for wind installation and taxes them like any other business. The assessment regime results in the highest taxes on wind farms in Canada. A 2005 report from the Canadian Wind Energy Association states the tax assessment for a 20 megawatt wind installation in this province would be almost $0.5 million per annum. In comparison, Nova Scotia Power pays a grant in lieu of property taxes. This means wind projects in Nova Scotia pay over seven times as much as NSPI. So through you, I want to ask the minister, why is he rewarding large polluters like NSPI and punishing wind producers?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, as a matter of fact the Departments of Energy and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations are working with industry as we speak.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if they're working with it, then I would like to ask this next question for sure. The federal wind production incentive is running out, it is only available to wind farms commissioned before March 1, 2007. Nova Scotia currently has one wind farm located in Pubnico Point. In addition, other turbine operators in the province - and there are many other installations planned across this province, however, many of these proposed investments are running out of time. So I want to ask this minister, what is he doing with his federal cousins to move these forward?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, to the member, as I said earlier, the Departments of Energy and Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations are working with the municipalities and also industry to put a plan in place where we all are winners, that we all enjoy the benefit of wind energy in Nova Scotia. The department is focused on moving forward in this avenue and we will do that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if they're working arm in arm in here, they sure have a certain line of tough love. The owners of that wind farm in Pubnico appealed the assessment, were successful to regional assessment appeals and paid the sum the regional Appeals Court recommended. It sounds fair to me, not to this government though. This government appealed the decision to URB. Then they didn't stop there. They then appealed it to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia claiming their own regional Appeals Court had no jurisdiction. So I want to ask this minister again, whose side is he on?

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MR. DOOKS: The easiest question to answer, Mr. Speaker, this minister and the department is on the side of Nova Scotians.

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

FISH. & AQUACULTURE: FISH PLANT WORKERS - PLANS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. Groundfish processing plants are closing all over the province and yet we see little or no action from this government. The situation we have in places like Glace Bay, Cheticamp and Louisbourg are just more causalties of our declining fishing industry in Nova Scotia. At one time there were 20 processing plants in the Digby area alone. Now we're down to just two and they're on the verge of closing. My question to the minister is, has the government made any plans for the remaining fish plant workers in Nova Scotia or are more people going to have to leave this province in search of employment?

HON. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, this government does have a considerable amount of concern for the fish plant workers we have in the Province of Nova Scotia and the situation we see ourselves in with the fish processing sector. There are a lot of different things that contribute to the problems that we're having in the sector right now, the price of labour in China, getting raw resource to produce, a whole host of things. The Canadian dollar and the American dollar is a problem. So, yes, we do have concerns. We do have some things that we want to discuss as soon as possible with the federal government and the federal DFO Minister. So when I get an opportunity to do that, those issues will be brought forward and we will work on them.

MR. THERIAULT: The groundfish industry was one of the cornerstones of Nova Scotia. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, the industry is quickly going the way of the dinosaur in this province. Communities are dying and people are suffering because of these closures. Han Beck Sea Products has less than a week to save this season's production, but what about the next year and the year after that? The escalated situation at Highland Fisheries is proving to us that workers are becoming desperate to keep themselves financially stable. My question to the minister is, will your government commit to creating sustainable programs and help keep the people who work in these plants here, so no more are forced to leave this province?

MR. CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, just this morning my colleagues from Cape Breton North, Cape Breton West and Victoria-The Lakes had a meeting regarding such issues as the Cape Breton processing facilities that we have. As well, I had one in my own riding in Canso.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we will work with the federal government, we will work with the municipalities, we will work with the members of the Opposition to see that we get positive results for fish plant workers in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Premier. As I stated earlier, thousands of people are leaving Nova Scotia in search of employment in other provinces and even other countries. Our population is aging and declining at the same time. Rural communities are the heart of Nova Scotia, and they're going to be extinct if something isn't done. Other countries have worked and found solutions for their coastal communities, and they are alive and growing. My final question for the Premier is, will this government make a commitment to look at other industrial fishing countries and see how they saved their coastal communities from extinction?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member brings up a very good point. I can assure that member and all members that the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture will continue its work to ensure that we take a look at what is happening in other parts of the country and other parts of the globe. We want to make sure that our small communities out in rural Nova Scotia - I represent many of those communities myself - have every opportunity for survival. It is because of the work that was done through the Department of Fisheries and the Department of Economic Development, as an example, that we're seeing the Cheticamp fish plant reopen this very month.

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

PSC - PUBLIC SECTOR CAREERS: YOUTH RETENTION

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. All members of this House are familiar with stories of young people from our communities going down the road to find work. While this situation has been mostly present in the trades and manufacturing, the aging of baby boomers is adding a new dynamic to this situation. More and more of our young people are leaving the province to take positions in the public sector, whether it's teaching, health care or civil service in other provinces. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, what steps is his government taking to retain our young people in this province for careers in the public sector?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, certainly the Public Service Commission and Human Resources are very concerned. As we see the workforce here in the province, the Public Service, many of them approaching retirement age, there are a great many opportunities for young Nova Scotians. That's why we do have HR corporate strategy for that turnover. It's why we have programs that mentor and bring young university graduates into the Public Service for work training and work periods. It's also why this government, through many of the departments represented by my colleagues here, employ young Nova Scotians for summer terms so they can experience what it's like to work for the Province of Nova Scotia and work for the citizens of Nova Scotia, as well.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad he mentioned programs. One of the obvious ways to get more young people interested in the public sector is to offer them co-op and internship

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opportunities, yet this government has only 16 positions through their Career Starts Program, Post-Secondary Internship Program. That's 16 positions, when we have 1,700 employees in the Civil Service who will be eligible to retire within three years. So I'd like to ask the minister to tell the House why this government has failed to offer more internship opportunities for young people in this province.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, the intern program is a very important program and a wonderful way to initiate new university graduates to the Public Service. I'm glad the member has commented on that and recognizes that.

[3:00 p.m.]

I'd also like to reiterate the Corporate HR Strategy deals with many other strategies to point out to Nova Scotians and graduates from post-secondary that there are career opportunities in our Civil Service for many disciplines, training and specialties. One of the key ways we do that is through summer employment programs which allow many young Nova Scotians to experience two to four months of working for the people of Nova Scotia and being employed in the Public Service.

MR. GOSSE: In a letter from the previous minister I received in the Fall of 2004, the government said that one-quarter of the Career Starts interns were outside metro Halifax. I'd like to bring to the minister's attention that two-thirds of the population lives outside metro Halifax, so how will the minister ensure that areas like Cape Breton and rural Nova Scotia get internship positions they deserve?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raises a very good question. One of the principles on summer employment is obviously the population dispersion throughout the entire province not the 50 per cent here in metro. That's one of the principles in which those summer employment opportunities are allotted to students.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

EMO: HURRICANE SEASON - PRECAUTIONS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Emergency Management. Nova Scotia has become increasingly vulnerable to severe weather. Things like hurricanes and tropical storms are fast becoming a feature of our late summer and early Fall. It has been three years since the province experienced Hurricane Juan, it has been nearly two years since the November 2004 storm that caused massive power outages. Today officials at the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Dartmouth are warning that higher than normal temperatures in the North Atlantic could lead storms to be more severe when they come ashore on our province. Will the minister tell this House what additional precautions the EMO has taken to alert Nova Scotia about this news?

[Page 506]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member opposite, the Emergency Management Organization here in Nova Scotia is one of the leaders in the country as acknowledged by the Senate of Canada, and certainly even the federal Government of Canada over the last several years has been using us as a model for the set-up of their service.

I can certainly assure the member opposite that over the last several years we have instituted a report card with each municipality on the responsibilities for emergency management and preparedness that we require from them. We score them, we rate them, we work with them, and I must say we've had great co-operation from the municipalities in upgrading our emergency preparedness. The department alone has hired several new zone controllers and we have worked very closely not only with the provincial organizations, but municipal organizations and federal organizations so that we stand as prepared as we possibly can be in case there is a natural disaster or disaster of some other kind.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, other than report cards there are many other things that this government can do, one of them has been long suggested by members of our caucus and that is to establish a list of vulnerable persons for use in emergency situations. This would be the only reliable way to ensure the safety of seniors, those with certain medical conditions and other vulnerable people in emergencies. Will the minister tell this House why this government refuses to undertake the preparation of such a list?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, one of the things in the set-up of any Emergency Management Organization, and one we adhere to very closely here in Nova Scotia, is the principle of marshalling all of the resources not only in emergency management, but in every government department across government and the key part in organization is that EMO is there to manage the response. So we have extremely close liaisons and ties with each provincial government department that has lists of vulnerable seniors or disabled or other people who could be vulnerable. We even take that a step beyond that though in Nova Scotia, we work with all the municipal organizations to ensure that we have comfort centres in place, to ensure that there are emergency centres in place. The local fire departments and the local search and rescue are there to handle it, Mr. Speaker. Thank you.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, as someone who has spent most of their life on the sea, I understand how important it is to be prepared for the unexpected. The fishing industry has a great expression for this, "Prepare for the worst and hope for the best".

My final question for the minister, who may be just hoping for the best and not preparing for the worst, what is the status of this government's commitment to ensuring generators are installed in seniors' residences across the province?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very good point and one that this government, the entire government, is very proud of. This is the only government in

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Atlantic Canada that has offered generator programs. We have done that through, again, important management commitments. Those are commitments from each of the municipalities across this province in which emergency centres and comfort centres have been established in this province by the municipalities and, by their designation, we then support the financial cost of acquiring a generator for that particular site, so that the plan is that no area of Nova Scotia or regions or groups are left out of that planning.

The municipalities have taken it very seriously with us; we have taken it very seriously as a department in government. That is why those funds were made available last year, that is why a large number of generators were purchased. We will monitor that closely, Mr. Speaker, and if the need is there again this year, we will ensure that those funds are again available. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: WILDLIFE LANDS & GAME SANCTUARIES - INTENTIONS

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Between January 18 and May 31, 2005, the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources conducted a public review of the province's 26 sanctuaries and wildlife management areas. Initially the government seemed to be using this exercise as a means of de-listing at least 13 of the wildlife management areas and game sanctuaries. Luckily, and I say luckily, the public outcry awakened the minister of the day and in the end he partially listened to the people of Nova Scotia and did not de-list these areas. My question for the minister is, what are his intentions with these lands now?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I think that the former minister did the right thing by listening to the people of Nova Scotia. There was a public consultation process put in place. He heard the concerns of Nova Scotians and he acted on them and I stand by the example that he said and we will not be de-listing any of those sanctuaries. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, if in the future the province is going to want to live up to its commitment of protecting at least 12 per cent of Crown lands, it will need a base from which to draw upon. Nova Scotians spoke loud and clear in the review and they want these areas to be better protected. The department was right in not de-listing these areas, but now it is time to take the next step. When will this minister bring forward a plan to protect Nova Scotia's sanctuaries and wildlife management areas?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question and his concern about protecting public Crown land. He mentioned 12 per cent of Crown land - in actual fact the member would be pleased to know that we actually protect far more than 12 per cent of Crown land. What I think he's referring to is the target of 12 per cent of provincial land. In that regard it is a bit of a challenge in Nova Scotia because we do not have as much Crown

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land as some of the newer members of Confederation. This government has very ambitious plans - for example, working with Bowater to purchase more of those lands back for the use of the people of Nova Scotia - and we're very proud of the steps that have been taken by this government.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I don't think I'm getting an answer. I hope that tomorrow, in estimates, we will get much clearer answers from the minister, because we're asking about the future protection. If nothing is done to protect these areas, the review was a waste of money and the public's effort. This government repeatedly says that it listens to Nova Scotians, well, now is the time to prove it. Why won't this minister listen to Nova Scotians and take the next step in protecting these areas?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, again I'd like to point out that far more than 12 per cent of Crown lands are already protected in this province. This is something that has happened over time. Certainly more has been added during the previous two governments under Premier Hamm, and now under the government of Premier MacDonald. A very ambitious commitment has been made to purchase additional lands, in particular we're targeting the lands owned by Bowater. It's certainly exciting to be the minister at this time, and I'm looking forward to working with them and selecting those sites that are most important for protection for Nova Scotians. I think that this is the biggest commitment, probably in quite some time, for protecting Crown lands.

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

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to introduce, in the west gallery, a constituent of mine, Will Muise - if he would stand - he worked on my campaign and has done a lot of work in the community as well, and I want to recognize him for his efforts. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to all our visitors in the gallery today.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 71.

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Res. No. 71, Gov't (N.S.) Gas Regulation - Reconsider - notice given July 5/06 - (Ms. D. Whalen)

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today and speak on Resolution No. 71. That resolution was introduced by my honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Clayton Park. It reads as follows:

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

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

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

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

Mr. Speaker, the fact that I'm here this afternoon speaking on Resolution No. 71 is because members of the government voted no to that resolution - no surprise there. Probably the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations was the loudest no of them all, but I digress - let me go back to how we achieved regulation again here in Nova Scotia.

We know in the early 1990s regulation existed in Nova Scotia. The government of the day made the decision, looking at other jurisdictions and looking at studies at their disposal, that regulation was not what was in the best interests of Nova Scotians, so our market was deregulated. We have gone on now for almost 15 years under an unregulated market.

[3:15 p.m.]

Now during that time there have been concerns. We have seen where gas prices have gone up sometimes inexplicably and we've seen the frustrations Nova Scotians have expressed. We've also seen closure of a number of gas stations throughout our province so the government, being under pressure from the independent gas retailers who were asking for some action, decided the best way to answer this was to commission a report. So they went to Gardner Pinfold who are well recognized in this industry, certainly very credible to speak on this issue, and they produced a report for them. I believe that report if I'm not mistaken was at a cost of about $170,000 to taxpayers so it was a well-detailed report.

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The conclusions of that report were clear. Regulation overall means higher prices for Nova Scotians, that was the first conclusion. The other conclusion was, what's most important today and I hope the minister will address, that regulation does not protect small independent retailers throughout Nova Scotia. That's the other important element of this debate, and for the government to continue to suggest that regulation is helping small independents it's just not the case. Why is that? Because the report looked at P.E.I. who had regulation and so the question was has P.E.I. lost as many gas stations proportionally as we have here in Nova Scotia? We all now know the answer was yes. P.E.I. under a regulated market lost just as many service stations, percentage wise, as we did here in Nova Scotia, and gas stations continue to close in P.E.I. even under the protection of regulation.

We now know that regulation couldn't have been to protect small independents, because it doesn't do that. It couldn't have been to provide for lower gas prices, because the report said it wouldn't do that. Now the government says, well, it will provide stability and the minister continues to refer to a poll that said 70 per cent of Nova Scotians supported regulation. Today, I would hope the minister would table that poll. Table the questions that were asked when that poll was conducted and how many people were questioned. Table it here in the House because he has mentioned it, the taxpayers have paid for it, so the least we can do is have it provided here.

Now the minister is here shaking his head saying the taxpayer didn't pay for it so the question becomes, who paid for the poll? Is it the PC Party of Nova Scotia? Is it independent gas retailers? Is it an interest group? Who has paid for this? If the minister is going to continue to refer to the poll and give those numbers - and I believe you have an obligation to direct the minister to table in this House exactly the documents and the figures he is referring to, the Rules of the House would require him to do so. The fact that he has done so repeatedly, I would ask that when the minister does rise the Speaker would request him to table that poll here in the House because he has referred to it on numerous occasions. He has given the figures from that poll and I believe, under the Rules of the House, he would have an obligation at that point to table that poll here in this Chamber.

The poll he claims, that we have yet to see which I'm looking forward to seeing this afternoon, says that 70 per cent of Nova Scotians wanted stability, so what does stability mean? Well, the government has interpreted that to mean two weeks. But was it even two weeks, because the government also allowed itself within that two week period an interrupter clause that would allow them to increase or make changes to that rate. They would argue it would allow them to decrease - I can't wait to see when this government will use that interrupter clause to actually decrease prices within that two weeks. We all know that it will be used to increase prices within the two-week period, so what have Nova Scotians achieved? Is that stability for two weeks? The results are speaking for themselves. Less than two weeks into regulation Nova Scotians are clearly expressing their displeasure with the regulated market.

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If anything else, I believe Nova Scotians over the years have sent us the message that they wanted to see less red tape, less regulation, a more free market. This is the government that in their Throne Speech had the audacity to again say that they are committed to reducing red tape, open up the marketplace, more business friendly and then turn around and say we're going to put in gas regulation, more red tape, more regulation and more interference. Mr. Speaker, the government, I don't know if they're doing polling now, they're probably choosing not to do polling now because the polling numbers clearly would not be very favourable to them at this particular time, and gas regulation is one of those important reasons, but rather than just being the Liberal Party, which has been the only Party in Nova Scotia that has spoken against gas regulation, we now have the people who it was meant to protect; the gentleman in Canso who says that he had to go and break the laws by increasing the price of his gas just to survive. We have the middleman in Richmond County who is saying at this point he can no longer provide gas to three independent service stations because of the fact that his margins that are supposed to be protected under regulation just aren't happening; another possibility of three rural stations being closed if they can't achieve supply from that distributor.

So where is regulation working? Who is it protecting? The morning that regulation kicked in, Nova Scotians awoke to 5 cents to 6 cents more per litre for gas. Well, certainly that's not a saving. Now we wait until Saturday morning, Friday at midnight we're going to see, where does gas go in Nova Scotia. I don't have a crystal ball but I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that it's going to increase again. So is that the stability Nova Scotians wanted - higher gas prices, two-week periods? Then we still see the small independents telling us that they're not making the margins that they were making prior to regulation, and it's only going to get worse because many independents out there are still trying to figure out what regulation means and how it's working. So it's not going to get any better.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, it is only our caucus that has spoken out against regulation from day one. We have said that it was a bad idea. We referred to the government's own comments on the report that they made. I thought it was a bit sad, and maybe it fits into the cynicism around elected officials, when the current Minister of Human Resources spoke this Spring about how regulation was in the best interest of Nova Scotians, our research staff immediately went back and looked at last Fall and saw the comments from the current Minister of Human Resources who said how gas regulation was terrible, the report said this, here are the conclusions. It was clear that gas regulation was wrong. What a flip-flop and we know why it was a flip-flop. It was to try to curry favour with Nova Scotians going into an election.

Mr. Speaker, I need only look across the Chamber here to see that it didn't work because there are even less government members today than there were before the election. So one would have thought the government would have said bad idea. It certainly didn't get us any more votes, it may have cost us votes, but it certainly wasn't a vote getter. So do they do the honourable thing and pull out? No, here we are still under a regulated system and Nova Scotians continue to express their displeasure.

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Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate that the NDP have continued to be silent in the face of small independents who are expressing concerns, distributors who are expressing concerns, and Nova Scotians who are expressing concerns about the higher prices and more to come. I find it ironic today - and I think the government should hopefully learn these lessons - to watch the Leader of the Opposition criticize the government for cancelling the Keep the Heat Program. If we look back, there's only one Party that was saying to keep that program and it was the Liberal caucus because it was clear that for many Nova Scotians, the amount of money they were receiving under Keep the Heat was more than they will ever receive by removing the provincial portion of the HST from home heating oil and other forms of electricity. Yet no one listened.

The government thought, no, we have to go with the NDP plan and we're going to implement it. It's going to get us lots of votes. Well, again, looking across the Chamber today, that didn't happen. It didn't work. There are less government members than there were before and yet how ironic that, having appeased the NDP, they now find themselves being criticized by the same Party saying that they should have maintained the Keep the Heat Program and that they should move up the date of January 1st for the implementation. So with friends like that, no wonder the government finds itself in the situation that it's in today. Hopefully, the government is learning from all of this and only time will tell whether they are learning or not.

Mr. Speaker, I don't have that much time to speak on this and I know that my colleague, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, our Finance Critic, will speak on this as well, but let me finish in the last few minutes by saying the government has at least put in an indication that they are prepared to review gas regulations after a year. One has to question whether that is too long of a period to see as to whether that should take place or not. So maybe the government should consider the possibility that maybe an earlier date, I'm sure those discussions can take place as we move forward, but I think it might be something at least to show Nova Scotians that the government is listening to the concerns, from retailers, from families and from distributers, who overall are not pleased with the system of regulation in this province.

So, again, Mr. Speaker, before I wrap up my time, it is my hope that the government will reconsider the issue of gas regulation and the fact that it has not having the desired effect. If there is one more request I can make, and our caucus has made it before, when the government announced regulation after its previous position, which I've gone through, the Premier, the minister, continued to say we need to have regulation in Nova Scotia because if we don't we'll be the only province in the Atlantic without regulation. Okay, what does that mean? They never answered and never followed that up. They never said why it would be bad for Nova Scotia to have competition, if New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Newfoundland and Labrador had regulation. Now maybe there is a reason. I just don't know what it is, and the government has never shared it with us. Instead, they've only said, we need regulation because everybody else has regulation around us, but they've left it at that.

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So I would hope that the minister today, given the opportunity, will tell us exactly why, and maybe there is a valid reason. I'm not dismissing it, but they've never shared it with us. We try to get them to tell us why they say that and why it might be a bad thing, they never answer. So are they just saying it because they have nothing else to say? Or is there something more they can share with us that may justify their actions?

Again, I'm not passing judgment, I'm just saying, we need more information and you can't make the blanket statement, we need regulation here because everyone else has it. That, again, goes to the whole thing, if someone jumps off a bridge, are we all going to do it? Here's the question again, why are we doing regulation, because everybody else is? If that's part of the logic of why the government did it, let's hear the economic and the other social reasons as to why that was the case.

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I do hope that you will ask the minister to table in this House the poll that he has referred to repeatedly, that he has cited specific numbers from, and that we can have that here for all members of the House to confirm the exact figures that the minister has been providing to this House, on numerous occasions, and I hope you will instruct him, today, to table that here, so we may all have the opportunity to see exactly the question asked: who commissioned the poll and how many Nova Scotians answered that based on what the minister has been telling us? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just before I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, I would just like to comment with regard to the request made by the Liberal Leader, and that is with regard to the publication or the tabling of a document that the minister would have referred to. It is my understanding from the discussion and debate that I have been privy to in this Chamber, the minister has referred to some polling information as a specific number but has not got into detail specifics around that, has not brought a document and read from that document in the Chamber, and as the honourable member would know, in making any statements, in this Chamber we take all honourable members at their word whether that is statements on behalf of concerned constituents and/or their other work, so I don't feel or believe that the minister would have an obligation to have to table something today, just because of the generalities he has spoken to around that information.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I guess just in hearing your ruling, I would simply point out that the minister has not only given the figure of 70 per cent, he has gone on further in his comments to specifically say what that 70 per cent was supporting, and he has gone on to give a clear indication of exactly what they were being asked without telling us exactly how the question was put. It's not just a matter of referring to a figure at will, we all tend to use that,

[Page 514]

but the fact that he has followed that up by giving specific information behind that figure and unfortunately when he's standing, I don't know what's on his desk. He may have had the poll directly in front of him. Unless he held it up for us to see, it's difficult for us to tell whether he had it in his possession at the time and that he was specifically reading from that. I just find it concerning that if a minister is going to stand in the House and talk about a specific poll, talk about the exact number of results, what kind of question they were speaking on, I believe that is getting into specific details and it is not just a general document. At that point it is quite specific. He has done it on numerous occasions and so I would just ask you to look at the fact that under the circumstances I have just raised, the repeated nature that has taken place and the fact that we have no idea if he had it right in front of him to be reading from at the time, I do believe it does meet the test of asking the minister to table that document in the House, because of his frequent and specific reference to the details of that document.

MR. SPEAKER: To the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, I will take your comments under advisement and report back to you. However, I believe some of the normal course of questioning around supplying that information would be in the course of a Question Period to the minister, in terms of the statements they have made.

However, in the context of what you have represented, I will take it under advisement and I am sure the minister will be happy to speak to his statements as well.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The resolution today on the appropriateness of gas regulation is one that has been not only in this House, but in the public agenda for quite some time. About 11 months ago, I remember a trip to Prince Edward Island when the price of gasoline in Nova Scotia spiked to about $1.40 a litre. There is no question at that time, I can tell you, that the hue and cry in this province, including from all members of the Opposition, was why was the price of gas cheaper in Prince Edward Island? Well, it was cheaper in Prince Edward Island for a little while because they were under a regulated system.

Just one other general comment, Mr. Speaker, before I begin to get into my text is that the comments which have come from the Liberal Party about the issue of gas regulation, which is a very new phenomena right now in Nova Scotia because it has just been in place for a little less than two weeks, and certainly to pass judgement on it in a two week period, I don't think is really using much good judgement from the other side of the House.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure we all remember the Standing Committee on Economic Development in June last year, when members of the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association of Nova Scotia appeared. The committee heard from independent gasoline dealers across Nova Scotia. They told us how they were being squeezed out of business, how they needed regulation or else gasoline stations in rural Nova Scotia would start to close.

[Page 515]

The retailers certainly received the ear of the committee with a great deal of sympathy. There was no question in the minds of the committee that these independent gasoline dealers were in a bind and they did need some help. But it is not only the small- business owners who make their living selling gasoline who asked for help. In my office, there is a file the size of two Halifax phone books. It consists of letters written in 2005 alone, from ordinary Nova Scotians, consumers of gasoline who were fed up with the sudden and sharp increase and the slow and tiny decreases in the price of gas. They spoke of their frustrations, about how the same gas could cost more in the evening than it did in the morning. They wrote about how frustrating it was for the price of gas to always to up like a rocket, but come down like a feather. It seemed that the only ones who were happy with the status quo were the major oil companies.

Now let's not forget, Mr. Speaker, that if we did not regulate, we would be the only province in eastern Canada without regulated gas prices. So now that we have regulated gas prices in our province, what does that mean for Nova Scotians? Well, regulation will mean different things to different sectors of the industry and to the general public.

For consumers, it will mean more stable gasoline and diesel fuel prices. Except for extraordinary circumstances, the price you pay when you go to work in the morning will likely be the same price you pay when you drive home in the evening. In fact, it won't be unusual, Mr. Speaker, for the cost of gasoline and diesel fuel to remain unchanged for up to two weeks at a time. Now I must say, in the event of a disaster, like Hurricane Katrina, the price may change more rapidly, but other than that, the days of the two or three price changes in a single day are over.

If you are a gasoline retailer, it will also mean that when international crude prices or other factors drive the cost of gasoline up, you'll still be able to make a fair profit, instead of being caught in the squeeze between consumers and gasoline suppliers.

In turn, this means that for Nova Scotians in the rural areas of the province where it's a 10- or 15-minute drive to buy gasoline, the chances are that your local gas station will continue to operate a little better than now. That means, if you are a senior or are travelling in winter weather, you'll still be able to get the amounts that are an essential service to you and to your community.

The price of gasoline, Mr. Speaker, as all members of this House know, was first set on July 1st, and the next price setting period will begin Thursday, July 13th at 12:01 a.m. After that, the price will be set every second Thursday, with an interrupter review during the interim week to determine if substantial changes in the world market require a price adjustment. If markets are fairly stable, there will be no need to change prices for more than two weeks at a time.

[Page 516]

The regulator's authority for price regulation is contained in the Petroleum Products Pricing Act, Bill No. 79, which was passed by the Legislature last year. Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has been responsible for the Petroleum Products Pricing Act since its inception in the Spring of 2005. Now that the Act has been proclaimed, the department will act as the interim regulator until November 1, 2006, when the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board will take over authority for gasoline and diesel fuel recommendations. Now the URB has indicated they will be holding public hearings in relation to gasoline and diesel pricing in Nova Scotia before it resumes its new mandate as the regulator.

The interim regulator is using the New York Harbor Daily Spot Price for gasoline and diesel oil. A similar benchmark the general public can follow at no cost is the NYMEX Daily Spot Price, which happens to have the Web site, www.nymex.com. Based on this daily spot price average, the regulator will add a fixed wholesale margin to cover wholesaler costs, including zone differential for transportation within the province, and also a profit margin. The fixed wholesale margin has been set at 6 cents per litre plus the zone differential, ranging from three-tenths of a cent per litre in metro Halifax to 2 cents per litre in most of Cape Breton. On top of that, the regulator sets a minimum retail margin and a maximum retail margin.

Now, the regulator will be monitoring and analyzing a variety of local and international market data, as well as information it collects under the Petroleum Products Pricing Act to determine that prices remain fair and reasonable and if a price adjustment is necessary. In the event that markets are either consistently rising or falling, the regulator has the authority to forward-average so that increases are smoothed out over time or that decreases can be accelerated in terms of savings for the consumer. The cost of energy is now the single largest component in manufacturing and has surpassed the cost of labour and raw materials.

When you also consider emerging industrial nations such as China, there's a tremendous demand for gasoline and crude oil. In fact, both of these commodities are traded on a global market virtually 24 hours a day and often reflect geopolitical events that occur well outside our national borders. At the same time, the actual cost of crude oil is just one factor that determines the price of gasoline. Other national policies, such as the U.S. intention to stockpile a year's supply of crude oil and gasoline to deal with emergency circumstances; the recent events in Iran and North Korea, they also affect the cost of these products as does the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries when they meet to set production limits.

In today's world where information travels instantly around the globe, these considerations affect market prices instantly. Oil and gasoline, unlike other products, no longer track the marketplace, they predict. They predict the market's future, often for days or weeks ahead. Other factors include the supply and demand for oil products, the interruption of supply as a result of geopolitical occurrences such as civil unrest or war, natural disasters and weather patterns, speculative actions on the part of money managers and seasonal demands that see gasoline spike during summer vacation periods.

[Page 517]

While people often ask, isn't Canada self-sufficient when it comes to oil and gas? Why can't we just set our own price here in Nova Scotia? Well, Canada is a net exporter of crude oil on the world marketplace and while most of what we export, in fact, goes to the United States, it is sold on the global marketplace at world prices just like any other product, be it lobsters in Boston or Christmas trees in Texas, producers naturally sell into the market willing to offer the best prices.

The reason we pay higher prices is because we don't compete as consumers, i.e. by offering lower than fair market value, suppliers will simply sell to another customer. That in turn could result in supply shortages for gasoline and oil here in Nova Scotia. There are no laws that can force any business to sell in the Nova Scotia marketplace and it is unlikely any such law, if it existed, would be enforceable. No firm would sell into a market where sustained losses are likely. In short, industry withdrawal from the marketplace would occur.

The reality is, consumer demand plays a larger role in high market prices as do most other factors. While it's popular to blame the industry for high prices, international markets decide the market price, not the oil industry. The laws of supply and demand are at work and international markets react to such demand.

The purpose of regulation is to provide consumer confidence in the fact they are being treated fairly and that prices, while they may be up or down, are justifiable. Part of that responsibility for consumer protection also relates to ensuring that there is supply available for consumers.

Experience in other jurisdictions has indicated that even a price increase of 3 or 4 cents will result in long lineups and can cause dangerous traffic situations. In some cases, where there are smaller rural stations, the chance of an actual run out of gas is possible, leaving emergency vehicles and the general public without service.

[3:45 p.m.]

While anyone can follow oil and gas markets that trade in the daily paper and make an educated guess as to where prices may go, the regulator - in order to be fair to everyone involved - has to make his changes opportunity-neutral or designed to minimize the potential for any party to take unfair advantage of dramatic or significant change in price. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, Resolution No. 71 is an interesting resolution and I want to touch on the previous speaker's position. This is a plan or a scheme - however you want to put it- that's less than two weeks old and already people are denouncing it. I think it's for political purposes. I noticed when the Leader of the Liberal Party spoke, he kind of gave the government some advice by saying, well, you know how trustful these guys are- meaning

[Page 518]

our Party- about certain pieces of information. I have got to go by and realize that in '04 they opposed regulation, in '05 they flip-flopped and passed the government bill and lo and behold those six were against it - I wonder what '07 is going to have for us.

A regulated market used to be put aside here in the province because the essence of it was- you're the only one here, just little Prince Edward Island is the only one left regulated therefore it is just too big of a tiger to grab and try to wrestle it down. Lo and behold, you've got Newfoundland and Labrador with regulation, you've got New Brunswick with regulation, you've got Quebec with regulation and an all-Party committee in Ontario which I believe is a Liberal province, looking at regulation. Now what we have is more than geographically half the country, probably population-wise more than half the country, looking at some form of regulation.

Two weeks into it, it is it fair to pass judgement and say that this is an ironclad way to protect consumers when it comes to regulation? I would say no. The former minister responsible for this Act- we talked about this Act, we voted for it and we disagreed on sections, but you look at its wholeness and from there you look at it in the perspective of something in there that could move this forward and that being regulation. I think it is. I think what we have to start looking at though, is that if you listen to the Liberal perspective on this, they're saying we're paying too much for motive fuel this week. I guess if that's the case, if we're paying too much now, then at 12:01 a.m. prices are going to go down. Isn't that what the regulated market will tell us - that it will go down? We'll find that out at 12:01 a.m. I'd like to know where that comes from.

We have a very different market as it relates to motive fuel especially in this province. You've got to take HRM here, if you will, as an anomaly. It's almost 100 per cent owned by the large oil companies and leased out. I doubt if there are three independents in all of HRM anymore, they've effectively gone out of business. That is of itself a bewilderment of saying what is happening. The Premier is telling me there's one in all of this - the largest market in the province - there's one that survived. Who was really consulted in this? I will say that we voted for the bill and we saw some movement forward, but what bothers me, I guess, is the devil's-in-the-details thing. In forming these regulations, I believe too much power and too much time is spent listening to big oil companies and not enough spent talking to the small independents about how it would be.

One of the complaints we hear now is the 2 cent issue and how that's zoned out. The cost of transportation in P.E.I. is 1 cent. None of the oil companies at that time expressed that as a particular problem as being too low, but today they're telling us that it's too low. They certainly had the ear of government to tell them at that point that they disagreed with the 1 cent a litre aspect of this, but where were they then when asked that question? They certainly weren't at the table.

[Page 519]

Another big problem, especially one that causes a great deal of problems for the independents of which the majority of rural Nova Scotia is made up, I would make the statement, be so bold to make it, that probably the only groups that aren't independents in the rural areas are some Irvings. The rest are, by and large, independents. The government is, I think, telling these folks some misinformation, they're not telling the right thing as it relates to regulation about cross leases and how cross leases are going to affect - they're going to say that you, in effect, can't have cross leases any more.

Well, really that's a real estate problem, Mr. Speaker. It's not a regulated price problem, it's a real estate problem which government should speak on another level to this, and I hope the minister reconsiders the choice than, say, forcing independent retailers to sell or get rid of these cross leases. The idea, what was happening about the independent retailer today in Canso Town, now that is a problem and I know this is of little or no comfort to that retailer, but it was a matter of not getting enough information out. I'll lay the blame on the government only because of this, the fact is they're much larger and this guy is out there trying to eke out a living in the small Town of Canso, doing the best he can. If government implements something, I think the responsibility to getting correct information to that retailer in a timely manner is the responsibility of government. It's not the responsibility of a small business owner-operator in rural Nova Scotia.

I want to go back and speak on a few things about why I support regulation. I guess it goes back to the time when a former Liberal Government got rid of gasoline regulations altogether. That was at a time they not only regulated prices but they regulated an area around such things as where you could build a gas station, how many pumps you could have and all those things, I think to respond to the market. I believe getting rid of that section of regulation was a good thing because then it would allow people to respond to consumers' needs more appropriately, but at that point they got rid of it all, the pricing aspect and the regulating of pumps altogether.

What we've seen is a move by the large oil companies to get out of not only the regulated side of motive fuel but also there are very few full-service stations left, not only full-service pumps but I mean with bays and so on. As part of the Nova Scotia Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing, we also found that these large oil companies are playing extreme hardball with a lot of these small independent owners. This is not a phenomenon just germane to Nova Scotia, it goes throughout the country. I talked earlier about an all-Party committee report in Ontario and there's a broker, and he sells gasoline to independents. These are his words, not mine, Mr. Speaker, and I'll table it if you wish:

Big oil companies manipulate prices by selling gasoline below its wholesale cost at stations they own and operate. This the big company can afford to do because they're making so much money from upstream operations, extracting and refining oil, but it places independent gasoline operators in a bind. As a

[Page 520]

result, the independents' share of the gasoline market in Ontario has dropped from a peak of 40 per cent 15 years ago to 20 per cent today.

Well, that's what we see. The real play going on here is big oil. We've had, as I've mentioned earlier, growing pains with this. The one thing, I suppose, that hasn't been proposed directly by anybody is if they thought that this review time might be dropped from 12 months to six months, just to see if it's working. That may be a bit more appropriate at some point, but right now I don't think that at less than two weeks into this regime we should tell people that it's not working. People will come to this. There will be some problems, some learning curves. As the government has said, they did not get the information out as quickly as they could, they didn't get it to the appropriate people.

Yet, what we have to worry about, largely, is some of the other information that government is giving out, especially as it relates to cross-leases, because that's the lifeline of nearly all the independents, it's how they operate, with cross-leases. You may very well be bannered as a Shell but your oil comes from the refinery over here from Esso, there's an additive in there that makes it appropriate to Shell's needs and their octane rates and so on. These are aspects to look at.

We'll even go back to the 2004 report and say that seven of nine members of that report signed on to that. We had heard much from the people of Nova Scotia. I don't believe, at that time - and I think I can say this with some sincerity because I was a member of that select committee. From day one of that committee, it wasn't a group of people who were kind of focused on how we could bring regulation back to Nova Scotia. We are a large number of people around that table who, if you asked them on day one, what's your feeling around regulation, they would have been negative towards it.

But this overwhelming amount of evidence that came to us had swayed people. I feel kind of sorry that the government uses this point for regulation, that they had a poll done and the Liberals, their reason for opposing it was because the poll was done in The Halifax Herald, but if you saw the preponderance of evidence that was given to our committee, then you would realize it. You would realize it when a fire department in rural Nova Scotia had to travel 40 minutes back to Cheticamp from Pleasant Bay to get petroleum for their fire trucks. (Interruptions) There are no garages in Pleasant Bay, that's what the Premier is saying, and he's right. That's the problem. A lot of this was a lot to save these areas.

Again, I have to admit, there was a blip this week about some people in the rural areas, but we're hoping - I would hope - that the government would be responsive and responsible enough to fix those. What I'm asking this Legislature today - I don't think this is the time to say it doesn't work. I think this is a time to look at it. We're giving price certainty. I've never been one to say that this will guarantee low prices. This will guarantee price certainty for a while.

[Page 521]

You've seen the studies done in Ontario, they say this. So they're probably heading in that direction. So we're going to have Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland and Labrador under some kind of regulated regime. I think it's the reality of where we're moving to protect consumers. It's a good deal. I would have wished for a little clearer one for consumers, but nonetheless, I will not be supporting this resolution. I would give this some time. I think we should give it some time to study it and come back to see if regulation really works. I believe it will. (Applause)

[4:00 p.m.]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to rise today to close debate on this resolution. The resolution, of course, was calling for - let's go to the operative clause - it's questioning the gas price regulation. I have so many things to say about this, especially in relation to the comments of the members opposite, and the members of the Opposition who have spoken.

Essentially what the resolution is calling for is that it be re-examined, that we listen to the advice of experts and the costly reports that have been done and look at the history that we have here in this province ourselves. We don't have to go far afield to find out whether or not regulation has been a good idea and whether it has served the consumers of Nova Scotia.

Our primary reason for objecting to gas regulation is that our own reports that have been commissioned by the government, and most recently the one from- I guess it was last fall- the Gardner Pinfold report which cost $170,000 and was an extremely extensive review of gas pricing, why is it volatile, why does it change from hour to hour or day to day. After reviewing it all and looking at the experiences of other provinces that have regulation, the recommendation was clear and the findings were clear. First of all, it found that the market system has served us very well here in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker. The market system has ensured, over time, that Nova Scotians paid less at the pumps than they did if you were a consumer in Prince Edward Island, or in another regulated market. So we had complete evidence here in our own region of Atlantic Canada that we had cheaper prices overall.

There is no question that there is a volatility there and that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations spoke about his own constituents and their concern around the volatility in the prices. I know from our own caucus that one of our members who was previously minister of that same department had said that they also had those questions and wondered, how do you explain to people why it bounces so much in terms of price.

Price stability is coming to us now and, in fact, it is not even stable and there is a cost to be paid by the consumer. I think if consumers knew that, if they recognized that they are now paying more, which I think they do recognize, and were able to have the facts and figures, that

[Page 522]

they wouldn't want this at all. Any polling done that just said, do you mind having prices jump from day to day, of course people are going to say they mind that. They would rather have it set low and stay low. We have to know that we have been well served by the market forces that have been at play here.

There are three factors in looking at regulation, Mr. Speaker. First of all would be whether or not we are getting better prices for the consumers. What is the answer? It is clearly no. The former Premier knew that, the Gardner Pinfold study showed that, we know that for a fact. Consumers will not pay less under a regulated price.

The second reason was to protect our rural retailers. There has been a lot of talk about that today, particularly in light of confusion and problems- actually business problems - with those retailers under the new regime. It has been pointed out that it is less than two weeks old, but I go back to the fact that it doesn't take a long time to realize that more red tape, more regulation, more rules to be followed, complex things for the retailer to figure out, is going to cause problems. This government is instituting a new program to lessen red tape on the one hand, and introduces this regulation on the other. That is clearly hypocritical. It is two totally different moves. At the same time, on the protection of the rural and small town retailers, there has been a lot of misunderstanding about their systems and how they are priced.

I would propose to the government that the issues around supporting rural gas stations is really an economic development decision. It should be resting with the Department of Economic Development and your new division of Rural Economic Development. Clearly small towns and isolated areas need access to gasoline. There is no question. We talked about their fire departments, emergency services, elderly people or people with less money who can't afford to travel a long distance just to fill up. There are so many reasons why you want to support the community in these smaller places. But to introduce gas regulation as a heavy hand across the entire province is an unnecessary step. It is also a step that is going to cost us an additional $1.1 million in a year to regulate. That is the government's own changes.

Now, rather than working that into the estimates and saying we are going to find $1.1 million, how are we going to raise that money? The government decided to build it into the gas price and charge Nova Scotians at the pumps, those consumers who we talk so lovingly about and who are so concerned about all their extra costs, but not in this case, Mr. Speaker. In this case of gas prices, we are not interested in that. Now we are more worried about stability and let's go back to stability. Is there any stability in the price? No, the price is going to bounce around every two weeks, which is a very short period of time. In fact, the minister's own words in his reply here were that if you go to work in the morning it is likely to be the same price when you come home at the end of the day so they have the comfort of knowing it's likely to be the same. And there is the interrupter clause, which means during the two weeks we may change it, that's why you can't be absolutely sure that it will stay the same.

[Page 523]

The minister referred to barring any disasters. We know what happened in P.E.I. that had a longer period of time and no interrupter clause, the suppliers at one point refused to bring any gasoline to the Island because they said they simply wouldn't sell it at a loss. The minister has put in the interrupter clause so that we don't run into that problem and we'll be able to respond if prices spike and the suppliers balk at serving our needs here in delivering to Nova Scotia.

So we know that it's not going to go down in that period of time, but there is an opportunity or a window available to the government to increase it during the two weeks. So the stability that we're referring to is, I say, very, very limited. It's more of an illusion of stability and it's an illusion that the government is doing something.

The government is being bombarded and the minister referred to having many, many contacts from constituents - the size of two phone books, I think we were told. Everybody had calls on this issue, but because the government was unable to explain it properly to people or explain the system was working to the best advantage, they've gone instead to what becomes an easier thing to do - a stroke of a pen and we'll create regulation. It has a cost, it creates a bureaucracy, it just seemed easier to do that and then really, as an election issue, to turn to the people of Nova Scotia and say, look, we're doing something and it's a good thing to do.

But it doesn't explain what the benefit is to consumers and there is none. Both previous Parties have spoken, instead it was so important we keep pace with the surrounding provinces - that New Brunswick was doing it, that P.E.I. was doing it. Well, New Brunswick has more holidays than we do, but we're not adopting more holidays, are we, Mr. Speaker? We don't have as many holidays as they have and we don't have the same start date for our school year as New Brunswick has - and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations knows that's an important issue as well - yet we have not jumped on board to do the same thing as New Brunswick in that case.

So there's really no compelling reason to say that because the rest of Atlantic Canada has gone to a regulated market that we should join them in that endeavour. Because, again, the evidence is absolutely clear, it's going to lead to higher consumer prices and it's going to create only an illusion of stability. There's lots of room for prices to move up during that period of time.

Then we look at whether or not it protects the small retailers. Even that now has been called into question. As I said in formulating a response to gas regulation, our first and foremost concern has been the price to consumers. When we knew, and when the previous Premier knew and the government of this province knew, that it would not lead to lower prices for consumers, but would in fact increase them, they still went ahead.

The Liberal Party stood up and said, no, this is the wrong way to go. We have hundreds of thousands of people in Nova Scotia that need to buy gas - many of them for their businesses,

[Page 524]

many of them in order to get to work. It's an essential cost, an essential commodity and we didn't want to do anything that would increase the cost. That's the bottom line.

At the same time, there might have been an argument that would say this would protect our small retailers, those retailers who are operating in small markets in rural locations. That would have been something positive if it would work out, but we're seeing already in a very short period of time that the retailers do not feel there's sufficient money for them, that some of them are feeling even more pressured than they did before and are, in fact, saying they will have to close. Some of them right now are recognizing this does not improve their situation and they don't feel they've been properly informed or that this is doing what they intended.

All of us had met with those small retailers and the gasoline retail association, and that had been a big issue. I'm not saying that we were not all very concerned about that situation, but I was concerned from a point of view of rural economic development and sustaining our rural communities. That's really what is at issue here - if you lose a gas station in a remote community.

I think you could almost say there's a parallel to losing public services like schools in a community. They really are very important to allowing people to conduct their business in that area and not have to always gravitate to bigger towns and cities. We felt that would be an important thing to respond to.

Again, I call on the government to look at their own Department of Economic Development - I should say, Office of Economic Development - in which there is now a division of rural economic development, and look for solutions within that role, because if they're essential services and if they're threatened, then the government could have a different response to seeing that they stay in business. I think that would make a lot more sense, again, than having a heavy hand of government, more regulation, more cost to consumers, and I refer again to the $1.1 million that it's going to cost us to maintain this system. There have to be people who are now going to be involved and set those prices and monitor it, and I'm sure, similar to the Sunday police visits, we'll have people visiting gas stations to make sure that they're also adhering to the prices that have been set out in this regulation. So we're just creating a bureaucracy that's very unnecessary.

Again, I would call on the government to look sooner, rather than later, at reviewing this. If the government insists that it hasn't had enough time to be proven, again, I disagree with that. I believe we saw the evidence of it in 1991 when the government took a clear look at it, and I should mention it was 1991 that it was revoked here in Nova Scotia, and that was not a Liberal Government that revoked it at that time, it would have been a Progressive Conservative Government that looked at it said, you know what, this isn't serving Nova Scotians. It's not the best system, and we're going to allow the free market to reign. What happened in 2005? An expensive consultant's report said that was the right decision, that having an open market and allowing market forces to decide the price was the best way to go.

[Page 525]

I found it amusing that the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations was suggesting that consumers could go to the Web site. It was interesting to me, today, that the minister referred again to the Web site, urging regular, ordinary Nova Scotians to check the Web site for the New York spot price on gasoline, and then you can figure out - you, yourself, in your own home - the upcoming price for gasoline. I think it's just a little bit ludicrous to imagine that ordinary Nova Scotians are going to be going daily to the spot price in New York to see whether or not it's the retailers that are benefiting at the moment, or the consumer, or the government. They're not going to be doing that, Mr. Speaker. The need for stability is not that extreme. I think, really, what it is, it's the government's job to allow business to dictate what is the best way to proceed.

Mr. Speaker, it was suggested by the NDP that there are political purposes for raising in the House the issue of gas regulations. I can tell you, clearly, that this is simply about consumer rights and about bringing the best cost to consumers at the pumps. I said this is an essential product for Nova Scotians, and it drives our economy literally. So it's very important for us to speak out when we see a policy that is going to harm Nova Scotians in their pocketbooks at the gas pumps every time they fill up. I don't call that politically motivated, I believe we're all elected and we sit here to use our judgment based on the best information available, based on the advice of our bureaucrats and what the people within the Department of Energy and the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations are advising. I would sincerely doubt that they were advising anything to do with gas regulations. That is a politically motivated move.

As I said earlier, it was a very expedient thing to do on the eve of an election. It was an NDP-suggested platform. It was adopted by the Tories, and they ran an election on it, and we were alone in saying that this is not good for consumers. In fact, to take a little note out of the NDP's book, it's not a better deal for families, it's not a better deal for families and drivers and parents and everyone else who lives in Nova Scotia.

Again, I would urge the government to look sooner, rather than later, at seeing this changed. I think that we should be looking at conservation measures and perhaps the new Conserve Nova Scotia, no matter who manages that department or agency, will look at methods to conserve, because the minister referred to spikes and prices during seasonal times. Well those spikes are driven by consumption. The price goes up in the summer because people are on the road travelling, visiting family and going places on holidays, and that's clearly what drives it. If we could get a diversion of use, we'd do a lot better in the long run.

So conservation is the right way to go, Mr. Speaker. I would hope that in the next few months this will be withdrawn and reviewed. Thank you very much.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The time for debate on Resolution No. 71 has expired.

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The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 36.

Bill No. 36 - Senior Home Medication Review Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to stand and say a few words on Bill No. 36, the Senior Home Medication Review Act, a bill respecting the establishment of a process of implementation. This has been an issue not only in this province, but I think if you look nationally across the country. It is one that Australia has taken the lead on, in showing us a way not only to provide better care for seniors in this country but also, I believe, to reduce the costs that are being borne by them.

The bill basically makes up a committee of health care professionals, doctors, nurses, community members and someone from the Group of Nine. One of the other important things that has been brought to my attention - perhaps we missed a health care profession group and that would be the paramedics, they are often front-line people in the health care profession who are dealing with drug issues on a very rapid rate, on the fly, shall we say, oftentimes in somebody's home or on the roadside. That's an amendment that possibly could happen and I look forward to listening to the comments around some of that.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is basically asking the government to strike this committee so that this committee would review what's happened in Australia, how they've implemented this program, what the cost savings have been, what the effect has been for seniors and their care is one component. The other one is implementing this and putting together an annual review to ensure that this was on an ongoing basis for those seniors who wanted to participate in this program. Part of it said that they would have to have these recommendations into the Minister of Health by March 31, 2007, and that all money that was used to put this Act in place would be borne by the province. Not by Pharmacare, not by seniors, but would be borne by the Province of Nova Scotia.

I guess I want to make it very clear, Mr. Speaker, this is not about having seniors removed from medications that they require, this is not about looking at the formulary process to decide which drugs are on for Pharmacare that are being covered, that is not at all the

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intention of this bill. The intention of this bill is to ensure that when seniors are given medications over a 12-month period, that they have the opportunity to go to a health care professional to ensure that there is not a conflict between the medications that they are being provided. If you look at what has been taking place in other jurisdictions, the quality of care that has been provided to those seniors has increased as well as a cost reduction, quite frankly, to those seniors. This goes back to providing the best possible care.

In the last government, we introduced a bill called self-managed attendant care which provided care for people with disabilities. It provided a better quality of care and it provided it at a cheaper cost to the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I think this is another common sense piece of legislation that does the same thing - provides a better quality of care to those seniors in our province and it provides it at, in my view, a cheaper cost to those seniors. It's important to note that this is a voluntary process, seniors will not be forced to enter into this program, but it is one that we make available for seniors to be able to go on an annual basis to have that reviewed.

As I'm sure many members of the House will remember, in February there was a study released at Mount Saint Vincent on aging. Some of the findings were interesting. There was one-quarter of the province's seniors who did not follow their doctors' orders when it came to taking prescription medication. Part of that was based, I think, on a couple of reasons, but the study pointed out four basic reasons: drugs were too expensive, they were worried about the side effects, they felt that their drugs did not work and they felt their condition would not improve.

Mr. Speaker, this legislation would help relieve some of those fears and concerns. Number one, it would reassure Nova Scotians that the medications that are being prescribed to them, medications that are extremely expensive, are necessary. It would also reassure them that there will not be drug reactions with one another. It allows them that sense of security, so to speak. It also, I think, would eliminate not only the reaction there but the duplication that happens sometimes in-between in the medical profession.

This again, and I want to reiterate, is about providing the best quality care for our seniors that we can and this annual review would eliminate some of those concerns.

One of the other things that was interesting in this study was that low income seniors were the most vulnerable, surprise, surprise. Many of those I would say to you, the 25 per cent who were not following their doctors' orders- some of that was based on cost, Mr. Speaker, of not being able to afford the medication without feeling, quite frankly, that medication was going to provide them with the relief that was required to ensure that the expenditure was going to solve the issue that they had.

When I had mentioned earlier about Australia and what they were doing in Australia, and the findings in some of what they were doing down there, it was interesting as well when

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you compare it to what was happening at Mount Saint Vincent. It was interesting that 90 per cent of these seniors had at least one medication-related problem. When you look at the study that was done in Australia, 90 per cent. Thirty three per cent were found to require additional monitoring. It wasn't a one-time issue. It was one the health care professional who was chosen in Australia, a pharmacist - that doesn't necessarily mean it has to be here in the Province of Nova Scotia - but from their professional judgment, seniors in Australia needed more monitoring. Just imagine though what the savings will be in the long run when those issues are dealt with for that senior.

Twenty-five per cent required additional medication, 25 per cent were using the wrong or inappropriate medication, and finally, 20 per cent were using insufficient medication. Much of that, Mr. Speaker, I think is based around not having the security of feeling that medications they are given are going to work properly when they take them all collectively.

One of the other things that was interesting in Australia was the fact that people who live in rural areas were most vulnerable. I think, quite frankly, Mr. Speaker, that would apply here in the Province of Nova Scotia. When you look at somebody living in Springfield, Annapolis County, living in Victoria Beach, they're often in isolation. This would allow them to have that health care professional whom they could rely on, whom they could trust to go and review the medications.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I think it starts bringing our health care providers together, having the co-operation and collaboration to ensure that our seniors are getting the kind of care that they deserve. We should automatically believe this happens in the Province of Nova Scotia but, unfortunately, that's not the case. This bill, I believe, would allow that collaboration to take place. It would allow us to ensure that the seniors in this province are receiving the best possible care. I want to close off by saying, this is not about eliminating medication from seniors, this is about ensuring that the medications they are receiving are working properly. It's ensuring that seniors in this province are being treated the way we all hope to be treated and the way that we want our parents to be treated. So I look forward to receiving the government's support on this piece of legislation as we continue to move it forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing Bill No. 36, the Senior Home Medication Review Act, to the floor of this Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, I want to begin by saying that I understand the need to optimize drug therapy for seniors. This government is deeply committed to improving access and quality of care for seniors. Nowhere is it more clear than in our recent launching of the continuing care strategy, which will initiate a wide series of improvements to long-term care and home care

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over the next 10 years. Through this strategy, we'll commit more than $122 million in the next four years to help Nova Scotian seniors achieve maximum health and independence.

Mr. Speaker, I can also say to the honourable member for Annapolis, you know, we're seriously looking at areas to improve seniors' care right in his own riding. Now, we are well aware of the medication needs for seniors. We are supporting these needs in part through the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program. This is a great program, a provincial drug insurance plan that help seniors with the cost of their prescription drugs. We currently have 95,000 seniors registered in Nova Scotia's Seniors' Pharmacare Program and we had an increase this year of somewhere close to $13 million because of utilization and extra people signing on to this program.

Mr. Speaker, I can also commit to all members of this House that we are currently making changes, such as the requests from the Group of Nine, to allow for the cost of their prescriptions being spread over a longer time because of the issue of having a fixed income and being unable, sometimes, to afford the almost $300 that they might have to dole out on a single month's worth of drugs.

Now we're certainly aware of the problems that result from taking medications, not just for seniors but, of course, for people of all ages. There are both risks and benefits that come with the use of medication. Those risks increase when individuals are on multiple medications or are living with chronic disease. Currently, I have a personal case where I have an aunt who was on a whole course of treatments to give her the best quality of life possible. Unfortunately, she's at a point where they're really reviewing the medications that she is receiving and trying to make some adjustments so that she can continue with the quality of life that she had. But it is a concern with the amount of drugs and the different types of things that each one of them do.

Mr. Speaker, I can say, as well, that pharmaceuticals, even though they help with the quality of life, they help maintain a certain level of health, most of these pharmaceuticals, of course, are not cures for anything, they basically keep things in check. So if one is not working right, and another one is reacting with another, it does cause great concern to most health professionals.

Health professionals are also well aware of the risks that come with medications. These care providers, pharmacists, doctors, nurse practitioners, already carefully monitor the medications prescribed to their patients. Now pharmacists have a particularly important role to play in regard to monitoring drug therapy and to promoting the appropriate use of drugs. Mr. Speaker, I'm confident in saying that they're doing their best on a daily basis to ensure that this is a part of the service they provide to seniors, and indeed to all patients in Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) I have a whole bunch of discussions going on at the same time here.

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I would also like to say that the pharmacists also hold a key that maybe some other health professionals don't have. As you're working with a patient and you have your health record - and I know my health record, for example, is thick, it has lots of pages, not because I'm a sick person but because I do visit my doctor on a regular basis - I know that if she's prescribing something to me, she might not be aware of some of the things she has prescribed to me in the past because it might be a few pages down. What a pharmacist has, of course, is your basic health record of prescriptions sitting there in front of them on the screen. I think they have a better opportunity to look at those medications and make suggestions as to which ones would work and which don't work, and make changes accordingly.

I'm saying that I personally, and through discussions with pharmacists and with different groups, would like to find a way to allow pharmacists to make more decisions, and to give them more leeway on offering pharmaceutical solutions to patients and people in Nova Scotia. I do believe the medication review process would help all care providers do a better job. Governments, too, would be interested in exploring models that would encourage collaboration among care workers, and ensure Nova Scotians continue to receive the best care possible.

The question remains, however, whether the Australia model has the best program for Nova Scotia. Now we certainly cannot know what the best model for Nova Scotia is without an extensive review that would include looking at the literature and experiences in other jurisdictions. The Australian Government introduced the Home Medicine Review in October 2001. It is a program that promotes collaboration among physicians, pharmacists and other health care professionals, with the aim of improving patient health and well-being.

[4:30 p.m.]

Funding provided for the implementation of this model over its first five years was significant, $18 million for physician services - of course, we are talking about Australia, which has a population a lot larger than Nova Scotia - $25 million for pharmaceutical services, and $20 million for the medication management review facilitators. Though we aware of the Australian program and its successes - and the member for Annapolis underlined a number of those successes - I think we all can extrapolate what some of those successes would be because of the continued health of Nova Scotians.

We are aware of some of the pitfalls experienced with the implementation of that model as well. For instance, uptake in the program had not been as high as expected. The Australian model requires seniors to be referred to the program by their physician. Mr. Speaker, I can say that as the physician is the primary health contact, I would believe that they would feel their prescription methods and their expertise would suffice in most cases. This appears to be a significant barrier to participation, as referrals have been much lower than expected.

The decision-making structures for this model appear to be very complex and we would have concerns with the payment levels and accreditation requirements for providers; in addition

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there appears to be issues related to data collection and evaluation. Now, again, this is a new program for them as well. I'm sure as we and other governments implement programs, that they experience growing pains and will go on with adequate changes to make sure that the programs work to the best of their ability.

It's not just models of care that we need to evaluate, Mr. Speaker, but also models of payment, and certainly it would be necessary to engage our affected health care providers in these kinds of discussions prior to adopting any model.

Now, of course, there is still a lot of merit in considering some type of model to help citizens with their medications, as this can only improve the quality of life for patients. It also seems to me, Mr. Speaker, that it would make sense not just to look at Australia, but to look at models that are already in use in this country to see what kind of success they are having and what we can learn from the experiences of other provinces.

Mr. Speaker, let me make it clear that we would always consider improvement to our health care system that would mean better care for seniors and others. I believe this bill brings forward an important issue, and again I thank the member opposite for bringing it for discussion here on the floor of this Legislature. I believe that this bill has good content. I also say that even with a quick discussion here in the House, we can also see some improvements, some changes you might want to bring forward to it - being that in the list of professionals that would be included on the review committee the honourable member for Hants West suggested that maybe we should have paramedics on there, as paramedics are front-line care workers who deal with a lot of these patients at their worst time - when they are sick and in need of emergency care. They see, on many occasions, times when an incorrect dose of pharmaceuticals or meds is really impacting the quality of life of some of these patients.

Unfortunately it doesn't appear to take into account all the issues, but it must be investigated and managed before a program like this can be implemented. As I'm getting along here, let me reiterate what we understand are the pros and cons of the Australian program, but that's not enough of a foundation on which to initiate a program for Nova Scotia. We need to look at other models of care and payment from other jurisdictions and we need to do a careful review. We need to talk to stakeholders; we need to be sure that the model we put in place is the right one for all Nova Scotia.

Now, in the meantime, as we are having discussions like this and as we are, of course, reviewing different models, as we are talking about the greater issue of the health of Nova Scotians, I would suggest that we should urge all those workers who are involved in the health of Nova Scotians to take this matter seriously, to do all they can to review the medications that all Nova Scotians are using today.

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Mr. Speaker, I can say that many of my constituents, especially as they get a little older and along in life, their medications are quite extensive sometimes, if you see the different types of medications they take on a daily basis.

I can say that not only is it up to the doctor to prescribe and to make sure of their health, but I'm saying that the pharmacist should be involved. I think we have a system here today that we might want to make adjustments to, maybe give more responsibilities and more leeway to make changes and to take care of the health of Nova Scotians so that we don't have to create a whole, full model, so we don't have to go through this huge expense of setting up a system. I'm sure the member opposite will have a couple of suggestions around costs and the timing to be able to set up a program like they have in Australia or some similar model.

I can also say, Mr. Speaker, that as we look at primary health care, I think we need to find ways to make sure people are healthier in their communities. I think that also falls around the purview of the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection of offering true programs for seniors. I take, for example, a program that's in my constituency, which is Seniors Kicking Country, which is a line-dancing group that travels the province. They get together and have a good time, they dance. A lot of those folks who are in there - and I'm saying some of them are getting on in age - are not on all the medications that some of their friends are on because they're active, they're getting out in the community, they're meeting friends and having fun.

I can say that we need to be supporting a lot more programs like that, and investing our money in wellness in Nova Scotia. I think it will go a long way in helping out the quality of life of seniors. The member opposite is quite right, it's not a cost issue for the province, this is maybe a savings for some of our seniors, in the drugs, if they're not on the right one or maybe they're on some expensive drug therapies.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that we are going to continue to discuss this and work with our members opposite to make sure that the quality of life for all Nova Scotians, including our seniors, is better, and lets them live longer in places that are important, such as their homes and in our communities. With that, I would take my place and let the honourable members discuss this some more.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, first, I want to thank the member for Annapolis for bringing forward this piece of legislation, Bill No. 36. I think it's important that all members of this House talk about issues important to the residents of Nova Scotia, to the residents here in our province. I think the topic of senior safety, especially around health care, is a topic that all members would have interest in, and especially in trying to see what we could do to improve the current system or the current status around that issue here in the province.

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The bill goes into details around establishing a committee to look at a model that has been up and running for several years now, I believe, in Australia, around medication management review. I think it has some merit. It has the potential for government to look at this and see what we can do to improve our system here in Nova Scotia. I think, especially, around the comments from the Minister of Health, everything is on the table, I know those words have increased the debate around health care and the delivery system in this province.

I, for one, have great interest in ensuring that those delivery systems are protected under the public health system that we see here in the province. I believe this could definitely be worked into the system we have today. I think it's an important issue, and it's important that we talk about our seniors and the medications they use. I know, as a paramedic, that seniors use medication, and pharmacology is an important tool in health care and the health care of our seniors here in Nova Scotia.

A large portion of our seniors use one or several medications to hopefully prolong their life or help them deal with the health issue that they're fighting, or an ailment. That's where I think we need to look to see if we can improve the possibility or the potential for our seniors to have an adverse effect around a drug, a medication that they're on. I've witnessed it myself. Not only are individuals - but seniors affected by the medication they're put on, they're also affected by several medications. When seniors are given multiple medications to fight different ailments there can be reactions when a person ingests different types of medication.

I know, currently, the system we have here in Nova Scotia provides some comfort and some safeguards when it comes to health care providers who issue the medication to those who actually distribute the medication to the patient. The onus is on several individuals and several groups. I think the first group the onus is on, when it comes to medication and adverse effects and possible potential problems with ingesting several medications at once, is the patient themselves. It's important that individuals recognize and hopefully inform their physicians or their pharmacists that there's something not right when they're on a medication. So, ultimately, the onus is on the patient.

Also, I think our physicians have a huge responsibility, when we talk about this issue, because they are the individuals in our province who are actually prescribing the medication to individuals, and especially the atmosphere our physicians find themselves in here in Nova Scotia adds to the potential of a problem. What I mean by that is, it's a fact that most of our general practitioners here in the province have thousands of patients, Mr. Speaker, thousands. With those increased visits that individuals have to these physicians' offices, the increase of requests to hopefully get some kind of medication so it can improve their life or hopefully get them through that ailment also puts another burden on that physician to ensure he or she is giving the proper medication and that there's no reaction when they're on multiple medications.

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With the increase of pharmaceutical companies distributing more medication to hopefully increase the ailments that we can cure or fix in health care or in a certain disease, it's harder for physicians to maintain that level of knowledge around pharmaceuticals and their adverse effects and the possibility of complications when a patient is on several medications.

Also, the onus would be placed on the pharmacist at that point, where many of them try to do their best today to ensure the medications they distribute to residents are the proper medications, or medications that will actually better their lives. Mr. Speaker, I know from past experience that seniors don't just use one pharmacy, they use several. I've witnessed many times going to a call where you've asked the senior for medication and they have medication from several different pharmacies.

With that, another person the onus is on is government. I think it's important that government recognize that they do play a role in this and they could help alleviate some of the problems or some of the concerns that the member for Annapolis has around seniors and the medication they're on and the possibility of an adverse effect from taking medications.

The government needs to recognize that they could put in place, not only this committee, maybe look at what we see in Australia, look at - and hopefully we'll see this one day - a province-wide link between pharmacies, physicians' offices and the Department of Health, where if a senior goes to one pharmacy and fills a prescription, and maybe because they're at the cottage in a different part of the province they go to another pharmacy, that that link between these pharmacies and between physicians' offices and between the Department of Health, that those potential risks are caught early on before a senior could potentially be affected by the medication mix, or the adverse affect of a medication. So I think it's important that government look at good public policy no matter what Party brings it forward, especially when it comes to the floor of this Legislature, to look at it and potentially see what we can come to, hopefully to improve the lives of our seniors, but most importantly, potentially reduce the health care costs and the health care budget.

[4:45 p.m.]

So I think at least looking at what the member for Annapolis brought forward, we can take those steps to ensure that our seniors are on the right medication, that they aren't potentially putting themselves at risk, and that we have another step to hopefully minimize the costs in health care when a senior may have a reaction, Mr. Speaker; because there's a huge cost on the health care system when a senior is potentially at risk and has some kind of medical problem due to what some people call over-medicating, or adverse effects with medications or mixtures of medications.

Potentially it could reduce not only the health care budget when a senior has an issue or a medical emergency and might potentially need to be seen in an emergency room, but also the costs on our Seniors' Pharmacare Program. It's a huge cost that's growing every year.

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Potentially a program that simulates that, like the one we see in Australia, could reduce the number of medications seniors are on and, hence, reduce the cost not only to that senior for their co-pay, or for their subsidies, but what government is responsible for through the Seniors' Pharmacare Program.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important that we have these discussions, that we look at all avenues of hopefully reducing the costs of health care, the budget, and the burden placed on government and the taxpayers for funding the health care budget. I hope the Minister of Health does walk away from this and maybe it sparks something with him that he needs to look at this, or something around this, if not this system, then hopefully an integrated system or link between pharmacies in this province with the physicians and the Department of Health so that we can ensure the safety of our seniors when it comes to medication.

It also could reduce the risk of some of the infections we see, Mr. Speaker, things like MRSA, VRE, or antibiotic-resistant infections that we have in our hospital systems now, and that's largely due to over-medicating and prescribing antibiotics when really they're not needed. So I see a lot of potential with this piece of legislation, or at least the concept for government to look outside the province at what other jurisdictions are doing, like the one in Australia.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member for Annapolis for bringing this forward. I hope government looks at it and takes something from this to improve the lives of our seniors here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely pleased to rise to make some comments on Bill No. 36, the Senior Home Medication Review Act, because the details of this bill are relatively straightforward - to establish a committee from various representative groups for the process of reviewing in detail the Home Medication Review program in Australia and beginning the process of implementing a similar program in Nova Scotia.

So that's about as straightforward as you can get, Mr. Speaker. While the bill is straightforward, the ramifications, in terms of a better quality of life for seniors as well as reducing some of the pressures on the acute and long-term care sectors, are absolutely immense from this bill. As my honourable colleague, the member for Annapolis, stated earlier, this is not about establishing a process that would see seniors cut off from their medications, or a review of the Formulary for the purpose of removing needed prescriptions from the list. This is about developing a process that will reduce hospitalizations. It's a bill that will reduce drug complications and, most importantly, this is a bill that will improve the quality of life of seniors in Nova Scotia.

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Mr. Speaker, I believe, I know that probably my colleague, the member for Annapolis, already stated those points but I think that those are points that are worth repeating because they're especially important. The issue of annual senior medication reviews is not new. It has been talked about at the department for some time and it's not new to the Liberal caucus either because the suggestion that these reviews be done was recommended in our Liberal caucus wait times report which goes back about three years ago, if my timing is correct, and they were very good reasons at that time. As you can recall - I'm sure you would - the Liberal caucus wait times report was compiled after we travelled across this province, from one end to the other, and listened to various stakeholders and ordinary Nova Scotians who were telling us about what the problems were within health care.

One of the main things that we did find out was that this was one of the problems because of everything that accrues from this, in terms of what can be done, if indeed there is an annual review of the pharmaceuticals that are used for seniors. Any process that ensures that we're going to reduce, for instance, hospitalization, and frees up beds for other uses like the availability of a bed to recuperate from surgery, is a good process. It's a good idea. There are many seniors with adverse drug reactions who end up accessing the health care system through, for instance, an emergency room. Again, that's another instance of any program that would have a benefit of reducing emergency waits in this province, has to be considered, because we all know the problems that we are experiencing with emergency room wait times in Nova Scotia.

By the process of an annual review of prescription medication for seniors, the medication under this Senior Home Medication Review Bill, then if that would in any way, shape or form reduce the amount of time that you are waiting or not even having to go, for that fact, to an emergency room in Nova Scotia, then again it's a worthwhile effort, Mr. Speaker. Again, I think that my colleague, the member for Annapolis, backed up his position with some very solid research and some very solid numbers - numbers that merit serious consideration of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, there were also other findings in this same study that reviewed the impact that adverse drug reactions have on hospital admissions as well. Because according to these findings, 13 to 22 per cent of hospital admissions are due to medication-related problems. Prescribing factors were considered responsible in 26 per cent of such admissions and patient non-compliance in 27 per cent, and adverse drug reactions in a further 47 per cent. Older people are most vulnerable to adverse medication-related events. There is about a quarter to a third of unplanned hospital admissions involving the older population and they are medication related.

I don't know, for instance, if we hadn't brought this to the attention of the Legislature and to the attention of perhaps the general public, that a lot of people would realize that a lot of the visits that are made to emergency rooms, a lot of the beds perhaps that are taken up in

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hospitals, could actually be prevented. I don't think there's any question about that. They could actually be prevented if this kind of review was done on an annual basis.

Because of medical complications, it's very easy for seniors, no matter how much care is provided, how much importance is put on the subject by their doctors or by nurses or whatever that perhaps because of the condition that the senior suffers from, perhaps that medication, that slip-up or that mistake that's being made could prove to be a hindrance to the senior involved. As a matter of fact, in some cases (Interruption) That's right, as one member points out to me, in some cases it could prove to be fatal, and it's totally avoidable in a lot of cases and this is a way to make sure, to at least try to make sure, that it doesn't happen.

Mr. Speaker, this is a government that I would suggest is desperately looking for solutions to wait times, and it's a government that speaks often about the care and compassion that they have for seniors. So this bill is a perfect opportunity, with a bill that would put action into words, and would enable them to address the issue of wait times. At the same time, as my honourable colleague, the member for Annapolis, indicated earlier, the issue is a very important one from a quality of life point of view for seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as I stated previously, it's equally important to an efficient functioning of our health care system. We are constantly looking for ways to make the health care system become more efficient. This is a perfect example of how we can do that at very little cost and with a minimum amount of effort, because with an annual prescription drug review, we could save - I don't know, I haven't seen the figures, but we could save - a lot of money, I would suggest, in terms of the health care system itself.

Mr. Speaker, if we are able to implement programs that prevent seniors from being admitted unnecessarily to hospitals, then it would make, in this case, common sense, I think, to move forward with this bill. If we can reduce such things as falls by seniors, and at the same time we make a senior feel better about their medications and how they work, then now would be the time to move this bill forward. This bill is a positive one that I think would yield positive results for all parties that are involved. Having made those comments, I would now urge that this bill move ahead, and I would take my seat as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise today to speak to Bill No. 36, the Senior Home Medication Review Act. I'd like to say that sitting here as Nova Scotia's first Minister of Seniors, there have been a lot of good comments made by all three caucuses here. I want to begin by saying that I understand the need to optimize drug therapy for seniors. The government is deeply committed to improving access and quality of care for seniors. This is why the government carried out the first-ever Task Force on Aging.

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The Strategy for Positive Aging in Nova Scotia was released in December 2005. In 2006-07, the province will lead the implementation of this strategy. It identifies vision, guiding principles, positive aging goals and key societal actions that must be undertaken to meet the needs of seniors, and provide them with a positive aging experience. Through this long-term care strategy, we will commit more than $122 million in the next four years to help Nova Scotia seniors achieve maximum health and independence. We've committed to over 800 new long-term care beds in the first four years, with a maximum of 1,300 over the next 10 years.

We are also well aware of medication needs for seniors. We are supporting these needs in part through the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program, a provincial drug insurance plan that helps seniors with the cost of their prescription drugs. We currently have 95,000 seniors registered in the Nova Scotia Seniors' Pharmacare Program. We are certainly aware of the problems that result from taking medication, not just for seniors but all people of all ages. There are both risks and benefits that come with the use of medication. The risks increase when . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate has expired.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this concludes the Liberal Party business for today.

MR. SPEAKER: The House shall now recess, and will reconvene at 6:00 p.m. this evening.

[5:00 p.m. The House recessed.]

[6:00 p.m. The House reconvened.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 45 - Labour Standards Code.

Bill No. 47 - House of Assembly Act.

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

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: 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 motion is carried.

[6:03 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Chuck Porter in the Chair.]

[10:00 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:

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. PATRICK DUNN: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government's business for today. I move the House be adjourned to sit again from 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. After the daily routine, we'll move into the Committee of the Whole House on Supply for eight hours, followed by Private and Local Bills, Public Bills, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet again at the hour of 11:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

From 11:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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 10:01 p.m.]

[Page 541]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 238

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas after more than thirty years of teaching, Avon View High School Principal Phil Van Zoost will officially retire in early September; and

Whereas from his first teaching job, a Grade 8 homeroom class at the old Windsor Regional High School in the early to mid - 1970s, to his involvement with Adult Education in Hants West to his tenure as vice-principal and then principal at the new Avon View High School for the past three school years; and

Whereas Phil's immense dedication to his students and wanting nothing but the best for them at all times, and his community involvement in a wide array of activities is something that will not be replaced in a short period of time;

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this House recognize the positive learning experience Phil Van Zoost has had on the lives of hundreds and hundreds of students in Hants West through more than 30 years of teaching, and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement from the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board as principal of Avon View High School in Windsor.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Avon Valley Golf and Country Club in Falmouth is hosting the 2006 Nova Scotia Junior Golf Championship beginning Monday, July 10th ; and

Whereas Avon Valley is home to a successful junior golf program, with students as young as eight and nine years old learning to play the great game of golf; and

Whereas following intensive debate, the Avon Valley membership is moving ahead with nearly $1 million in renovations, with work anticipated to start later this summer or early Fall;

[Page 542]

Therefore be it resolved that the executive and club membership at Avon Valley Golf and Country Club in Falmouth be recognized for their dogged determination in keeping Avon Valley one of the premiere places to play a round of golf in the Maritimes.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the lifeblood of any small rural Nova Scotia town is the business community and volunteers who shape the particular identity of a town or municipality; and

Whereas Hopper's Jewellery, located on Gerrish Street in downtown Windsor, is celebrating their 35th Anniversary in the Windsor-West Hants business community in 2006, having first opened as a business in downtown Windsor in 1971; and

Whereas Bob Hopper and his wife, Anne, always have a pleasant smile and a ready- to- help attitude whenever you enter their store, and have assisted the community in so many different ways over the years;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the hard work of Bob Hopper, his wife Anne, and staff, for their belief in Windsor-West Hants and their tireless work ethic over the past 35 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 241

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Avon View High School in Windsor will be home to a high school football team this Fall, with the team competing in the new Nova Scotia Schools Athletic High School Football League; and

Whereas the new 15-team football league replaces the former Metro High School Football League and will see teams competing against each other from Kentville to Port Hawkesbury; and

[Page 543]

Whereas students and parents have been working diligently for the past number of months on issues such as overall funding costs and other pertinent issues like equipment, transportation, size of the new football field, and coaching;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the exceptional organizational abilities of the students and parents and staff at Avon View High School in Windsor in bringing a football team to Avon View, while wishing them every success in their inaugural season.

RESOLUTION NO. 242

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas Belmont resident and retired Vice Admiral Hugh MacNeil's dedication to his community is as reliable as the tide in the Avon River; and

Whereas Mr. MacNeil's efforts toward raising community spirit and economic renewal in rural Hants West include the founding of the Avon River Heritage Society, the rebuilding of the ship Avon Spirit, and the construction of the building at Newport Landing which houses the Avon River Heritage Museum, as well as the charming Lydia and Sally Tea Room; and

Whereas Hugh MacNeil, who has been both an anchor and captain of the Avon River Heritage Society, as a member and president, is handing the wheel of the society over to another;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend Hugh MacNeil for his command of the Avon River Heritage Society and wish him well in his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 243

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the constituency of West Hants is a great place for children to learn and play; and

[Page 544]

Whereas 13 students from Mexico and Korea, ranging between 8 and 13 years of age, arrived in Canada for the first time last weekend and are living at King's-Edgehill, in Windsor, until August 5th; and

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board planned a month-long schedule of fun- filled recreational and educational activities in West Hants for the students to help them learn English, and about Canadian culture;

Therefore be it resolved MLAs in this House of Assembly give a warm welcome to our Nova Scotian visitors, and commend the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board for their efforts in organizing the International Elementary ESL (English Second Language) summer camp.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotian Department of Natural Resources sent a team of seven fire technicians to Alberta last week to help battle the fires raging in their forests; and

Whereas Allan Bland of Windsor is the liaison officer for the Nova Scotia team; and

Whereas within a day of being asked for help Allan kissed his wife and two children goodbye, gathered his team from across Nova Scotia, assembled their equipment, and boarded the plane for Alberta;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud Allan Bland's tremendous courage and assistance to the Province of Alberta, and wish him and his team a safe return home to Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Hantsport Fire Department is celebrating their 100th Anniversary in a special commemorative style in 2006; and

[Page 545]

Whereas numerous events have either been held or will be hosted by the department this year - events such as the dedication of the fire station in honour of former Fire Chief Don McNeil, the centennial banquet, and the publishing of "From Bucket Brigade to Mutual Aid" by author Heather Davison, covering the 100-year history of the Hantsport Fire Department; and

Whereas the Hantsport Fire Department, under the capable leadership of Chief Phillip Scott and 34 fellow firefighters, responds to anywhere between 60 to 100 calls annually, covering the Town of Hantsport, points just west of Hants Border, and eastward toward Mount Denson;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the tremendous volunteer spirit of the Hantsport Fire Department for their active role in the community over the past 100 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 246

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas Betty Crosby is looking forward to her new job as principal of Riverview High School in Coxheath this September; and

Whereas Betty is one of 21principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-2007; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all course programs, the well-being of the students and development of the teaching staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Betty Crosby on her new challenge, wish her continued success and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

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

[Page 546]

Whereas Carolyn Oravecz is looking forward to her new job as principal of Marion Bridge Elementary in Marion Bridge this September; and

Whereas Carolyn is one of 21principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-2007; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all course programs, the well-being of the students and development of the teaching staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Carolyn Oravecz on her new challenge, wish her continued success and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 248

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas Jeannie Stone is looking forward to her new job as principal of Mountainview-East Bay Complex in Howie Centre this September; and

Whereas Jeannie is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-2007; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all course programs, the well-being of the students and development of the teaching staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Jeannie Stone on her new challenge, wish her continued success and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

By: Mr. Alfred MacLeod (Cape Breton West)

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

Whereas Marlene Urquhart is looking forward to her new job as principal of George D. Lewis School in Louisbourg this September; and

[Page 547]

Whereas Marlene is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-2007; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all course programs, the well-being of the students and development of the teaching staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Marlene Urquhart on her new challenge, wish her continued success and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 250

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas school sports promote healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas a large number of students are provided with the opportunity to participate in a variety of school sports; and

Whereas Bridgewater High School student Dylan Tufford took 1st place in the Junior Boys Triple jump at the Regional Track and Field Meet, and Garrett Ramey took 1st place in the Senior Boys Shot Put at the provincial meet;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dylan Tufford and Garrett Ramey for representing their school to a first-place finish in both the regional and Provincial Track and Field Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 251

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas high school graduation is a very special event in the lives of students and parents; and

Whereas members of the graduating class are recognized by their school, family and friends for their successes; and

[Page 548]

Whereas one of those grads is selected to address the graduates as class valedictorian;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chad Furey for being chosen as class valedictorian for the 2006 graduating class at Bridgewater High School and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas high school graduation is a very special event in the lives of students and parents; and

Whereas members of the graduating class are recognized by their school, family and friends for their successes; and

Whereas one of those grads is selected to address the graduates as class valedictorian;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Marion Stobbe for being chosen class valedictorian for the 2006 graduating class at Lunenburg Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 253

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas high school graduation is a very special event in the lives of students and parents; and

Whereas members of the graduating class are recognized by their school, family and friends for their successes; and

Whereas one of those grads is selected to address the graduates as class valedictorian;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Robin Brazill for being chosen as class valedictorian for the 2006 graduating class at Parkview Education Centre and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

[Page 549]

RESOLUTION NO. 254

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas high school graduation is a very special event in the lives of students and parents; and

Whereas members of the graduating class are recognized by their school, family and friends for their successes; and

Whereas one of those grads is selected to address the graduates as class valedictorian;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Michael Rawding for being chosen as class valedictorian for the 2006 graduating class at Lunenburg County Adult High School and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas the collection and safekeeping of artifacts is important to the preservation of our heritage; and

Whereas the collection of artifacts owned by Judge Mather DesBrisay of Bridgewater has contributed greatly to the development of the DesBrisay Museum; and

Whereas the staff and volunteers have created the Heritage Gallery to focus on the Heritage of Bridgewater and area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the staff and volunteers at the DesBrisay Museum for their creative work in the development of the Heritage Gallery.

[Page 550]

RESOLUTION NO. 256

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas school sports promotes healthy living through physical exercise and sportsmanship; and

Whereas a large number of students are provided with the opportunity to participate in a variety of school sports; and

Whereas Bridgewater High School student, Andrew MacDonald, took top spot in the Junior Boys' shot put, javelin and discus at the Regional Track and Field Meet, and1st place in shot put and discus at the provincial meet;

Therefore be it resolved that the outstanding efforts of Bridgewater's Andrew MacDonald are recognized by this House and wish him success with his track and field conquests.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Immigration)

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

Whereas cancer survivors are very special people; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians want to find a cure for cancer; and

Whereas volunteers who help raise funds for the cure give us hope for the future;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend special thanks and congratulations to all who helped to raise over $106,000 at the 2006 Relay For Life fundraising event in Bridgewater.

[Page 551]

RESOLUTION NO. 258

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas Barbara Read is looking forward to her new job as principal of St. Joseph's Elementary and St. Mary's Elementary Schools in North Sydney this September; and

Whereas Barbara is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Barbara Read on her new position as principal and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas David MacDonald is looking forward to his new job as principal of Florence Elementary School in Florence this September; and

Whereas David is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leaders of the school, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating David MacDonald on his new position as principal and thank him for his dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

[Page 552]

RESOLUTION NO. 260

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas Donnie Holland is looking forward to his new job as principal of Sydney Mines Junior High School in Sydney Mines in September; and

Whereas Donnie is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the schools, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Donnie Holland on his new position as principal and thank him for his dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 261

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas Janet Briggs is looking forward to her new job as principal of Thompson Junior High School in North Sydney this September; and

Whereas Janet is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the schools, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Janet Briggs on her new position as principal and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

[Page 553]

RESOLUTION NO. 262

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas John Miles is looking forward to his new job as principal of Bras d'Or Elementary School in Bras d'Or this September; and

Whereas John is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating John Miles on his new position as principal and thank him for his dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 263

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas Judy Jackson is looking forward to her new job as principal of St. Joseph's Elementary School in Sydney Mines this September; and

Whereas Judy is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Judy Jackson on her new position as principal and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

[Page 554]

RESOLUTION NO. 264

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Speaker)

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

Whereas Patsy Blaise is looking forward to her new job as principal of Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines this September; and

Whereas Patsy is one of 21 principals appointed by the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board for 2006-07; and

Whereas the principal is the educational leader of the school, responsible for all the programs that are offered and also responsible for the well-being of the students as well as the well-being of employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Patsy Blaise on her new position as principal and thank her for her dedication and commitment to the education of our youth.

RESOLUTION NO. 265

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre )

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

Whereas the Pioneer Cemetery has long been recognized as the final resting place of some of New Glasgow's earliest entrepreneurs, clergy, and settlers dating back to as early as 1719; and

Whereas the Pioneer Cemetery is historically significant and contains grave markers made of sandstone quarried and carved in Pictou County; and

Whereas the Town of New Glasgow, upon recommendation of its Heritage Committee, has named the Pioneer Cemetery an official heritage site with a dedication ceremony that was held on Monday, July 10, 2006;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Town of New Glasgow, Pioneer Cemetery Board of Trustees President Ruth Paris, and the other countless volunteers who have maintained, protected and recognized the importance of Pioneer Cemetery as a window to Pictou County's past.

[Page 555]

RESOLUTION NO. 266

By: Hon.William Dooks (Energy)

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

Whereas Porters Lake native Sarah Dobrowolski, having just captured her third Canadian skipping rope championship, is now aiming for the world title in Brampton, Ontario, on the 23rd of this month; and

Whereas Sarah, a 21- year-old student who attended Mount Allison University in 2005-06, practices an average of three hours every day, and is a member of the Eastern Shore Mariner Skippers Club; and

Whereas in winning her third consecutive Canadian championship, Sarah, for the first time, won each and every event at the national championships, which included 30-second and 3-minute speed events as well as a consecutive triple-under and a freestyle event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the dynamic athletic ability of Sarah Dobrowolski, and wish her every success in bringing a world championship back to Nova Scotia and the Eastern Shore later this month.

RESOLUTION NO. 267

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Katie Spicer, a former resident of Spencers Island, has always been a spectacular athlete in her community - and still can't get enough of soccer, and has suited up for the Cape Breton University Capers for the last three seasons, and is now in Moncton helping to look after the Codiac Youth Soccer Association and playing Division 1 soccer; and

Whereas Katie is the technical coordinator and runs summer camps, skills camps, and organizes the house league youth soccer that has more than 1500 participants; and

Whereas when Katie is not doing all of this, she suits up for the First Touch senior women's team in the provincial league;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Katie Spicer on her outstanding athletic achievements and wish her continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 268

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Justice)

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

Whereas Kari-Lynne Steeves, formerly of Wentworth, recently graduated from the Canadian Correctional Services Program in Saskatoon; and

Whereas Kari-Lynn is a graduate of St. Thomas University with a BA, Major in Criminology, Minor in Psychology; and

Whereas Kari-Lynn has accepted a position with Correctional Services Canada in Alberta;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kari-Lynn on this outstanding achievement and wish her all the best in all of her future endeavours.