Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 06-15

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, NOVEMBER 1, 2006

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW - Hwy. 14/Hwy. 214: Repairs - Prioritize,
Mr. J. MacDonell 840
Fish. & Aquaculture - Port Mouton Bay: Fish Farm - Oppose,
Ms. V. Conrad 840
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 488, Holocaust Educ. Wk. (10/30 - 11/09/06) - N.S. Museum on
Nat. Hist./Atl. Jewish Coun.: Partnering - Thanks, The Premier 841
Vote - Affirmative 842
Res. 489, Nat'l. Trucking Wk. (09/17 - 09/23/06) - Recognize,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 842
Vote - Affirmative 843
Res. 490, Take Our Kids to Work Day (11/01/06) - Recognize,
Hon. K. Casey 843
Vote - Affirmative 844
Res. 491, Take Our Kids to Work Day: Students - Welcome,
Hon. E. Fage 844
Vote - Affirmative 845
Res. 492, Immigration: New Citizens - Welcome,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 845
Vote - Affirmative 845
Res. 493, Pulsifer, Mark - N.S. Nature Trust Award,
Hon. D. Morse 846
Vote - Affirmative 846
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 494, CPR Awareness Mo. (11/06) - Recognize,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 847
Vote - Affirmative 847
Res. 495, Wagar, Prof. Terry - Personnel Mgt. Award,
Hon. K. Casey 848
Vote - Affirmative 848
Res. 496, EMO: Mutual Aid Commitments - N.S. Role,
Hon. E. Fage 848
Vote - Affirmative 849
Res. 497, Pachai, Dr. Bridglal - Gandhi, Kings, Ikeda Award,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 849
Vote - Affirmative 850
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 67, Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act,
Hon. K. Casey 853
No. 68, Pension Benefits Act, Mr. M. Samson 853
No. 69, Maintenance Enforcement Act, Mr. M. Samson 853
No. 70, Provincial Fish Act, Mr. K. Colwell 853
No. 71, Education Act, Mr. L. Glavine 853
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 498, Calvert, Prem. Lorne/Sask. Gov't.: Tax Reduction - Congrats,
Mr. D. Dexter 853
Vote - Affirmative 854
Res. 499, Diabetes Awareness Mo. (11/06) - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 854
Vote - Affirmative 855
Res. 500, Springhill Mine Explosion - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. M. Scott 855
Vote - Affirmative 856
Res. 501, Ferguson, Ralph: Disabled Commun. Work - Applaud,
Mr. C. Parker 856
Vote - Affirmative 856
Res. 502, Rastelli, Luigi & Elsa: Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 857
Vote - Affirmative 857
Res. 503, Holocaust Educ. Wk. (10/30 - 11/09/06): Organizers -
Recognize/Commend, Mr. L. Preyra 858
Vote - Affirmative 858
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 504, Nat'l. Sch. Libraries Day (10/23/06) - Librarians:
Contribution - Recognize, Ms. D. Whalen 859
Vote - Affirmative 867
Res. 505, Skinner, Kelly/Lakeside Child Care Ctr.: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 859
Vote - Affirmative 860
Res. 506, McNeil, Marjorie - Taigh Na Mara Nursing Home: Vol. Effort -
Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 860
Vote - Affirmative 861
Res. 507, Hantsport Shamrocks: Baseball Titles - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 861
Vote - Affirmative 861
Res. 508, Baudoux, Everett - The Wedge in the Door: Publication -
Congrats., Mr. C. MacKinnon 862
Vote - Affirmative 862
Res. 509, Springhill Mining Disaster Day (11/01/06) - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 862
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 510, Finewood Flooring & Lumber Ltd. - Nat'l.
Environmental Award, Mr. K. Bain 863
Vote - Affirmative 864
Res. 511, McMaster, Diane & Greg/Vintage Stove & Fireplace -
Amherst Bus. of Yr., Hon. E. Fage 864
Vote - Affirmative 865
Res. 512, Wal-Mart - N. Queens Elem. Sch.: Duration - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 865
Vote - Affirmative 865
Res. 513, Patterson, Doris - Birthday (100th), Hon. K. Casey 866
Vote - Affirmative 866
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 117, Energy - Conserve Nova Scotia: CEO Appointment - Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 867
No. 118, Energy - Conserve Nova Scotia: Mandate - Source,
Mr. L. Glavine 868
No. 119, Energy: Greenhouse Gas Emissions - Reduction,
Mr. D. Dexter 869
No. 120, Energy: Electricity Marketplace Governance Comm. -
Recommendations, Mr. F. Corbett 871
Recommendations, Mr. F. Corbett
No. 121, Energy: Wind Power - Min. Advisers, Mr. M. Samson 872
No. 122, Com. Serv.: Housing Grants - Delays, Mr. S. Belliveau 873
No. 123, Com. Serv.: Career Seek - ESIA Benefits, Mr. T. Zinck 875
No. 124, Energy: LNG Facilities (N.S.) - Interests Protect,
Mr. M. Samson 876
No. 125, Health: Wait Times/Overcrowding - Address,
Mr. D. Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 877
No. 126, Prem. - Sunday Shopping: Court Ruling - Response,
Mr. M. Samson 879
No. 127, Health: Emergency Health Services - Funding,
Mr. D. Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 881
No. 128, Fish. & Aquaculture - Port Mouton Fish Farm: Dev. - Cease,
Ms. V. Conrad 882
No. 129, Gov't. (N.S.): Gas Regulation - Abandon, Mr. M. Samson 884
No. 130, Nat. Res.: Protection - Review, Mr. C. MacKinnon 885
No. 131, Econ. Dev.: Trenton Works - Future, Mr. C. Parker 887
No. 132, Health: Flu Shots - Time Frame,
Mr. D. Wilson (Glace Bay) 888
No. 133, Com. Serv.: C.B. Housing - Need, Mr. G. Gosse 890
No. 134, Environ. & Lbr. - Water Strategy Program, Ms. M. More 891
No. 135, TPW: Bridge Repairs - Safety Ensure, Mr. W. Gaudet 892
No. 136, Educ.: NSCC (Akerley Campus) Rink - Status, Ms. J. Massey 893
No. 137, TCH: Prospect Road - Signage, Mr. W. Estabrooks 896
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 26, Cape Breton Strip Mines Moratorium Act,
Mr. G. Gosse 899
Hon. D. Morse 902
Mr. L. Glavine 904
Ms. M. Raymond 907
No. 59, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act,
Mr. D. Dexter 910
Hon. M. Baker 913
Hon. M. Parent 915
Mr. M. Samson 916
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 919
Hon. B. Taylor 92
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again Thur., Nov. 2nd at 2:00 p.m. 922
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Environ. & Lbr.: Wells/Septic Systems Environmental
Home Assessment:
Hon. M. Parent 923
Ms. M. Raymond 925
Mr. K. Colwell 927
Res. 514, Valley Drug Mart Health Shuttle - Drivers:
Contribution - Acknowledge, Mr. L. Glavine 931
Res. 515, Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality (HOPE) -
Anniv. (25th), Hon. R. Hurlburt 931
Res. 516, 4-H Conf. (Toronto): Attendees - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Taylor 932
Res. 517, Northup, Cindy: PSC - Anniv. (25th), Mr. C. Porter 932
Res. 518, Welland, Jeremy: TPW - Anniv. (25th), Mr. C. Porter 933
Res. 519, Bushell, Graydon: PSC - Anniv. (25th), Mr. C. Porter 933
Res. 520, Harvey, John F.: PSC - Anniv. (25th), Mr. C. Porter 934
Res. 521, Kalley Family - Sponsorship: Port Hood - Thanks,
The Premier 934
Res. 522, Bundy, Rosella: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 935
Res. 523, Ross, Bessie: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 935
Res. 524, Sparks, Bessie: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 936
Res. 525, Sparks, Florence: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 936
Res. 526, Sparks, Helen: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 937
Res. 527, Sparks, Louise: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 937
Res. 528, Sparks, Mable: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 938
Res. 529, Sparks, Mary: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 938
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell
Res. 530, Sparks, Spencer: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church-
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 939
Res. 531, Welch's, Vola: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 939
Res. 532, Sparks, Frank: Cherry Brook United Baptist Church -
Serv./Contribution, Mr. K. Colwell 940

[Page 839]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2006

Sixtieth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Cecil Clarke

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin with the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate has been submitted by the honourable member for Kings North. The operative clause being:

Therefore be it resolved that all members do their part to ensure Nova Scotians who rely on wells and septic systems are aware that they could benefit from a free environmental home assessment.

That debate will begin at the conclusion of the orders of the day.

We will now commence with the daily routine.

839

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

[Page 840]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause reads,

"We the residents living on and near Highway 14 and Route 214, and regular users of these roads which were last re-paved 26 and 30 years ago respectively, do hereby petition the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to immediately replace a portion of Highway 14 from the Nine Mile River Bridge in Hardwood Lands to Highway 2 in Milford, and Route 214, both of which are very busy throughways for traffic from Halifax and Truro to Windsor, at the top of the priority list for capital expenditure for 2007. We wish to remind the Government of Nova Scotia that investment in growth in this area is being hindered by the roughness and unsightliness of these patched-up roads."

Mr. Speaker, there are 714 signatures, which includes my own, and there were 170 outside my constituency, eight outside the province, and one signature from outside the country.

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 reads,

"WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, STRONGLY OPPOSE THE DEVELOPMENT OF ANOTHER FISH FARM, BY AQUA FISH FARMS LIMITED, OR ANY OTHER COMPANY, OR INDIVIDUAL, IN PORT MOUTON BAY. THE PROPOSED SITE ON THE WEST SIDE OF PORT MOUTON ISLAND, NEAR BACK BEACH, IS LOCATED IN PROXIMITY TO SEVERAL PRISTINE BEACHES - HUNT'S POINT BEACH, SUMMERVILLE BEACH, CARTERS BEACH, WOBEMKAK BEACH, SOUTH WEST PORT MOUTON BEACH AND SPECTACLE MARINE PARK (MATTHEW ATLANTIC) - WHICH ARE PRISTINE AND INVALUABLE SITES, ECOLOGICALLY, ENVIRONMENTALLY AND ECONOMICALLY. WE BELIEVE THE AREA REPRESENTS FAR GREATER VALUE FOR ITS TOURIST PORTENTIAL AND AS A VALUABLE LOBSTER FISHING GROUND AND SHELLFISHERY. IT APPEARS ALSO ON NAVIGATIONAL MAPS TO BE A SHIPPING CHANNEL. WE ALSO SUPPORT MAYOR JOHN LEEFE'S EFFORTS TO HAVE THE BACK BEACH, ALONG WITH ITS ASSOCIATED DUNES AND WETLANDS DECLARED A PROVINCIALLY PROTECTED AREA."

[Page 841]

There are over 1,800 signatures collected to date, with 200 coming from Mrs. Wilson's Grade 11 Oceans and Sciences Class of Cole Harbour High, and I affix my signature.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: Before we move to Statements by Ministers, I would like to make a special introduction to the members of the Legislature. We have a very special guest with us in the Speaker's Gallery today. I was very pleased, prior to this session, to have had the opportunity to meet with His Excellency Fakhraddin. Gurbanov, Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Canada, and his Second Secretary Jayhun Shahverdiyev, and I would ask them to receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause) Welcome to the proceedings here in the House today.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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 the Nova Scotia Museum of Natural History is commemorating Holocaust Education Week, October 30th to November 9th, with a series of special events each Wednesday at 7:30 p.m. for the next five weeks; and

Whereas in conjunction with the Atlantic Jewish Council, the museum is hosting weekly discussions, film presentations, and hosting special guests to share views on the Holocaust; and

Whereas it is at the same time hosting the ongoing showing of the Nova Scotia Human Rights Commissions Exhibition, Anne Frank in the World: 1929-1945;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the museum for partnering with the Atlantic Jewish Council to ensure the important stories

[Page 842]

communicated from these public events act as a reminder to all who listen of the eternal need for tolerance in our society.

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. 489

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

Whereas heavy trucks deliver almost 90 per cent of all consumer goods and foodstuffs within Canada; and

Whereas more than 400,000 jobs in Canada are directly related to the trucking industry; and

Whereas September 17 to 23, 2006 was designated as National Trucking Week in Canada as a time to recognize the efforts of the many people in the trucking industry who keep Canada moving;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize National Trucking Week to thank the men and women of this industry for their hard work and dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 843]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, prior to reading the resolution, I would like to make an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Please, do.

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce a number of Grade 9 students who are in the House today. Students who are participating in the Take Your Kids to Work Day at the Department of Education. If these students could please stand: Joseph Gaudet, Caroline Davison, Sara Burrill, John Mullins, Aleigha Benoit and Ariellel Thomson. I would ask these students to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

Whereas November 1st is Take Our Kids to Work Day, and Grade 9 students will be job shadowing in workplaces all over our province to explore the range of choices available after high school; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia is committed to introducing youth to the career opportunities that exist in Nova Scotia and to providing them with the education and training they need to take advantage of those opportunities; and

Whereas the Department of Education has many programs in place, including youth apprenticeship, Options and Opportunities, and co-operative education that provide students with valuable workplace experience to help them make informed career choices and decisions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize November 1st as Take Our Kids to Work Day and the importance of connecting youth with the workplace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 844]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, before I present my resolution on Take Our Kids to Work Day, there are a number of students here who have been chaperoned by various employees and parents from the Public Service Commission. I would like to ask those young people to stand and also receive applause from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas government's ability to deliver high-quality services to the citizens of this province is dependent on having a skilled, committed and accountable Public Service; and

Whereas many of Nova Scotia's Grade 9 students participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day are learning about various career options available to them through the Public Service here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas having students visit government departments provides an opportunity to showcase the Public Service as an exciting, rewarding and viable choice for young people's future careers;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in welcoming these young people to our workplace and sending a message of appreciation to their parents who are contributing to the future of Nova Scotia's Public Service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 845]

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. 492

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 earlier this month, Canadians across the country celebrated Citizenship Week and in doing so took time to reflect on the rights, privileges and freedoms we all enjoy; and

Whereas 1,146 individuals received their citizenship certificate so far this year and are now new Canadians; and

Whereas these 1,146 new Canadians have decided to make Nova Scotia their home where they will live and raise their families;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating our newest citizens and welcoming them to their new home.

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. 493

[Page 846]

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Nature Trust recognizes outstanding individuals and organizations that demonstrate a dedication to conserving our natural heritage; and

Whereas this year the trust presented the 2006 Conservation Award to Mark Pulsifer, a regional wildlife biologist with the Nova Scotia Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas Mr. Pulsifer's leadership and enthusiasm, especially for projects involving the St. Mary's River and Watershed, have inspired his colleagues and students at St. Francis Xavier University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and thank biologist Mark Pulsifer for his valuable contribution to Nova Scotia and congratulate him on winning this prestigious conservation award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, if I could make a quick introduction on this resolution, Judy Black and Allan MacAvoy from the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia are in the east gallery this afternoon. Judy Black is the resuscitation coordinator for the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia. Judy is a CPR instructor who co-wrote the Basic Rescue Manual in 2000, the CPR guidelines and provided input to the instructors' manual. In 2005, she wrote the instructor resource for resuscitation program in Canada with her counterpart, Paula Richards from Newfoundland.

[Page 847]

Allan MacAvoy is the government relations officer and policy researcher for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

Whereas each November, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia celebrates CPR Awareness Month as a way to remind Nova Scotians about the importance of recognizing a cardiac emergency and what to do if one occurs; and

Whereas the newly updated CPR and Emergency Cardiovascular Care Guidelines make it easier to learn CPR, the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia is urging Nova Scotians to learn CPR; and

Whereas by taking a few hours out of our busy schedules to learn how to respond to cardiac emergencies, Nova Scotians can increase a person's odds of survival and recovery by 30 per cent or more;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize November as CPR Awareness Month in Nova Scotia, and endorse the work of the Heart and Stroke Foundation of Nova Scotia in its call for Nova Scotians to learn CPR.

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 Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

[Page 848]

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

Whereas Terry Wager, a professor at Saint Mary's University's Sobey School of Business, recently received the President's Award from the International Personnel Management Association of Canada; and

Whereas the President's Award is the highest award attainable in the field of human resource management in this country and is equivalent to an honorary doctorate; and

Whereas this award recognizes the professor's high regard in his profession, his research and studies, his teaching, mentoring and writings;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Professor Terry Wager on receiving the International Personnel Management Association of Canada's President's Award, and wish him continued success and recognition in his profession.

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 Emergency Management.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

Whereas Nova Scotia continues to play a leadership role in cross-border emergency planning with our neighbouring provinces and the northeastern United States; and

Whereas CEO Craig MacLaughlan of the Emergency Management Office is Canada's co-chair of the International Emergency Management Group and was joined

[Page 849]

at a recent exercise in Vermont by colleagues from EMO, the Department of Justice, the Department of Health, and all U.S. and Canadian partners; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been asked to host the next major international planning exercise for the members of these states and provinces;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the pivotal role played by Nova Scotia in living up to our mutual aid commitments, established by eastern Premiers and Governors at a conference here in Halifax six years ago.

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. 497

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 Dr. Bridglal Pachai, who has served as the province's Human Rights Commissioner and as the President of the Multicultural Association of Nova Scotia, is an author and the recipient of many local and national awards, including the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Dr. Pachai will soon be honoured again, this time with the prestigious Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award by the Martin Luther King Jr. International Chapel, Morehouse College of Atlanta, Georgia; and

Whereas the award was created to celebrate human rights and non-violence and is named after three individuals: Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, Jr. and Daisaku Ikeda, three men from different cultures and countries who have followed a common path of profound dedication and achievement in improving the lives of all peoples;

[Page 850]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Dr. Pachai for this remarkable accomplishment, and thank him for all he has done and continues to do in promoting human rights, multiculturalism and diversity in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to the east gallery where we are joined today by Graham Conrad, who is the Executive Director of the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association in the province. I would ask him to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to all our guests who are visiting with us in the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Finance on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would ask the members of the House to join me in welcoming several young people who are visiting the Department of Finance today to learn about the workings of the Nova Scotia Government.

In the east gallery, Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce my son Matthew who has been here a number of times, not the least of which for the budget. Matthew is a Grade 9 student at Lunenburg High School. I thank all the members for voting for that budget and I look forward to that happening again. Joining Matthew in the gallery is Elizabeth Church. She's a Grade 9 student from Clayton Park Junior High School, a daughter of Michelle Church who is an administrative assistant at the Department of Finance.

[2:30 p.m.]

[Page 851]

As well, we have Christina Redmond who is a Grade 10 student at Sacred Heart School in Halifax. Christina is the daughter of Cathy Shaw, our Finance director of communications. Christina is joined by her friend, Leigh Ann Miller who is an exchange student visiting Nova Scotia from Lafayette, Louisiana. Leigh Ann is a student at the Sacred Heart School in Grand Coteau, Louisiana. Leigh Ann's mother is a Melancon and their roots go back to the Melansons who were expelled from Nova Scotia in 1755. So on behalf of the House I would ask the students if they would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services on an introduction.

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed my delight to rise today and welcome to the gallery my son, Dylan, who has been here with us before on numerous occasions, but he's here today as the former president of the New Ross Consolidated School, a position which his sister now occupies. Having spent numerous hours in the gallery myself as an individual, I welcome Dylan here today and I hope some day he can take his rightful place on the bottom floor should he so choose. So, Dylan, please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration on an introduction.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, would like to rise today in my seat to introduce two students who are visiting us from Hebbville Academy. One of those students has definitely been here before, Kelsey Getson, and Hannah Harlow, a friend of hers who is visiting and taking part in Take Our Kids to Work Day. So I thank them for rising and getting up very early this morning to come in here. I hope they have enjoyed their day in here and if you two would rise and enjoy the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I hope the House will join me in welcoming back to the House Barbara Emodi who is currently on leave, working out at Mount Saint Vincent, and with her is her class - Stephanie McLean, Andrew Preeper, Lenore Parsley, Heather Wyse, Sadie Toulany, Lindsey Gillard, Ashleigh McDougall and Katie Hines. I'm sure that they will learn much from the House today. I understand it's a media class, they're looking at media writing. So they're not just here to observe us, they're here to observe the press so let them know that. Would you join me in welcoming them here. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed.

[Page 852]

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage on an introduction.

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, it's indeed a great pleasure to rise today to introduce Alex Warshick who is here and has been shadowing me today in my job as part of the Take Our Kids to Work Day. Alex is a Grade 9 student at Caledonia Junior High. He's a son of former HRM Councillor Brian Warshick who's here in the audience here today with him and his mom, Cathy Boyd. He's a platinum student, president of his student council. He's also very active in sports. He plays touch football, volleyball, soccer and is also a member of his school band. Alex, I would ask you to rise and receive a warm welcome from the Legislature here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour on an introduction.

HON. MARK PARENT: In the gallery opposite is my new executive assistant, Cethlyn MacKay, and I would like the House to welcome her. Cethlyn comes from a very interesting family with very different viewpoints. On the same day her brother asked me to go meet with Condoleezza Rice, her mother asked me to join the Pugwash Peace Conference. So she's working with me and I would ask her to rise to receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development on an introduction.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased today to introduce to all members of the House a young individual from Barrington Passage. He's a member of the high school, the French Immersion Program. I can assure all members of this House, he will be a member in this Chamber some day. He is 14 years of age, he's very involved in the political scene, he happens to be the President of the Youth PC Association in Shelburne, and he happens to be the secretary for the Progressive Conservative Association for Shelburne. His name is Rick Clark. Mr. Clark, please stand and receive the warm welcome of the members. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance, on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to introduce today, in the east gallery, Councillor Don Zwicker, our councillor for the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg, who has been here many times, but I would like for the House to give their warm wishes to Councillor Zwicker. I would ask him to rise. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Before we continue with the business of the House, I would like to say to all parliamentarians who take the time to provide mentoring opportunities to youth, it's very important to the parliamentary process. All students who have gathered with us, I want to say how important it is and how much it means for us to be coming

[Page 853]

here. I'm sure, in watching some of the displays on the floor, there should be a program of parliamentarians shadowing students. However, continuing with the daily routine.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 67 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 2003. The Apprenticeship and Trades Qualifications Act. (Hon. Karen Casey)

Bill No. 68 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 340 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Pension Benefits Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 69 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Maintenance Enforcement Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 70 - Entitled an Act to Declare the Brook Trout to be the Provincial Fish of Nova Scotia. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

Bill No. 71 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Education 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 Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 498

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

Whereas the NDP Government of Saskatchewan reduced its provincial sales tax from 7 per cent to 5 per cent, effective Saturday, October 28th; and

Whereas Premier Calvert noted that this would ensure that all Saskatchewan families benefit directly from the province's strong economy; and

Whereas Saskatchewan businesses, hospitals, schools and municipalities are among those whose costs have been lowered with this tax reduction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Premier Lorne Calvert and the Government of Saskatchewan for lowering the provincial sales tax to 5 per cent and thereby ensuring that everyone shares in the benefits of a strong economy.

[Page 854]

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 499

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

Whereas more than 2 million Canadians have diabetes, and by the end of the decade this number is expected to rise to 3 million; and

Whereas if left untreated or improperly managed, diabetes can result in a variety of complications, including heart disease, nerve damage, kidney disease and eye disease; and

Whereas each year, the Canadian Diabetes Association funds key research programs across Canada where critical work is done to help find a cure to this debilitating illness;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize November as Diabetes Awareness Month and praise the continued work by doctors and volunteers in their work to find a cure.

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 855]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 500

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

Whereas today, Wednesday, November 1, 2006, Springhill residents will gather to remember the 39 miners who lost their lives 50 years ago today in the Springhill mine explosion; and

Whereas this community was built on the hard work, integrity and family values of those men and boys who on a daily basis went down in the mines to make a living for their families; and

Whereas the commitment they made to the community, which for many were during very short lives, and the impact they had on the Town of Springhill and its residents is felt very much today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House rise for one moment of silence to remember all the men and boys who paid the ultimate sacrifice while earning a living for their families, thereby making a commitment that we will never forget them for what they have done for their families, communities and this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Please rise for a moment of silence.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 856]

RESOLUTION NO. 501

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

Whereas Ralph Ferguson of Pictou has always been a strong advocate for the disabled community, witness his fight for accessibility improvements at Caribou Park and the new convention centre in Pictou County; and

Whereas Mr. Ferguson was recently awarded the Mel Hebb Hourglass Action Award by the Partnership for Access Awareness Nova Scotia for demonstrating outstanding leadership and initiative in making communities more accessible to persons with disabilities; and

Whereas Mr. Ferguson has now started a monthly newsletter called Eastern Views to keep all informed of disabled issues and concerns;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Ralph Ferguson on a job well done and thank him for his strong advocacy for our disabled community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 502

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

Whereas an important part of Stellarton's industrial history was closed recently and pieces of its original machinery donated to the Museum of Industry; and

[Page 857]

Whereas Luigi and Elsa Rastelli, the Italian-born owners of Rare Knits Ltd., have retired this year after 48 years of service to the Nova Scotian and international communities, not only through their own business but as employees of the original, Italy-based Faini knitwear factory from 1958-1972; and

Whereas the Rastellis were well-known members of the Stellarton community and, among other projects, provided uniforms for the provincial Canada Games teams in both 1981 and 1983, where the province claimed prizes for the best uniforms, and also supplied exclusive Halifax retailer Mills Brothers with high-quality goods throughout the years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the nearly five decades of expertise and service provided to Nova Scotians at the skilled hands of Luigi and Elsa Rastelli, and may we use this opportunity to highlight the diverse industries that can be found in small towns across the province, and may we wish Luigi and Elsa nothing but the best for their much-deserved 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.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 503

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

Whereas October 30 through November 9, 2006, is Holocaust Education Week, and 2006 marks the third year that students at the University of Kings College and their community partners have organized a series of events in Halifax to educate the public about the genocide of Jews and other minority communities by the Nazis and their collaborators; and

[Page 858]

Whereas education, dialogue, and creative expression through art and music are means through which we can remember the horrors of the Holocaust, reflect on the contemporary legacies of the Holocaust, and pledge to speak out against discrimination and injustice in our own communities; and

Whereas despite all we may have learned from the horror of the Holocaust, we do not live in a world free of persecution and genocide;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize and commend the organizers of Holocaust Education Week for their efforts to promote tolerance and understanding between peoples of different faiths and backgrounds in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 504

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

Whereas National School Library Day was celebrated on October 23, 2006, with the theme Libraries; the world at your fingertips; and

Whereas school libraries, staffed with professional librarians and library technicians, have the potential to greatly enhance student learning; and

Whereas the aim of National School Library Day is to raise the profile and awareness of the critical role libraries and librarians play in education;

[Page 859]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate school librarians on National School Library Day and recognize their tremendous contribution to the education of our children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 505

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

Whereas the Lakeside Child Care Centre is now open on the St. Margaret's Bay Road; and

Whereas this valuable new business has provided a welcome service to the communities of Beechville, Lakeside and Timberlea; and

Whereas Kelly Skinner has worked hard to make her child care centre a reality;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly congratulate Kelly Skinner and the staff of the Lakeside Child Care Centre, with best wishes for many years of success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 860]

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 506

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 Mrs. Marjorie McNeil of Glace Bay is a volunteer at Taigh na Mara Nursing Home; and

Whereas Marjorie McNeil has accumulated over 5,650 hours of volunteer time in the past five years; and

Whereas Marjorie has been spending five hours daily, five days per week, bringing baked goods and treats to the residents of the nursing home and keeping them company, and also volunteers at St. Vincent de Paul in Bridgeport;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mrs. Marjorie McNeil for her kindness and generosity to the residents of Taigh na Mara Nursing Home and her selfless volunteer effort.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 507

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

Whereas the Hantsport Shamrocks were crowned the 2006 Nova Scotia Intermediate AAA Baseball Champions September 3rd blanking the Pictou County Molson Canadian Albions 4-0 in the provincial championship game played in Hantsport; and

[Page 861]

Whereas the win by the Shamrocks marked their second consecutive major tournament victory having won the Nova Scotia Intermediate Baseball League Title the previous weekend, this time with a 10-5 victory over Pictou; and

Whereas the hosting of a provincial championship tournament cannot be done without exceptional dedication to field work and organizational capabilities such as those shown by Laurie Johnston during the provincial championship tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the two championship titles by the Hantsport Shamrocks during the summer of 2006, and wish them every success in 2007 and the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 508

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

Whereas Everett Baudoux was an integral part of the first squadron of aircraft based at Gibraltar in 1942; and

Whereas the landing strip there became the essential launching pad for the North African invasion known as Operation TORCH; and

Whereas Everett Baudoux, the 23-year-old squadron leader in 1942, has recently written The Wedge in the Door to show the vital role this post played in the Allied military strategy and the human losses suffered;

[Page 862]

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia House of Assembly commend and congratulate Everett Baudoux of Big Island, Pictou County for his dedication and commitment to reliving, recording and publishing this literary piece of Canadian history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 509

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

Whereas the Springhill mining disaster of November 1, 1956 cost the lives of 39 brave miners and disrupted the lives of family and friends within the local communities; and

Whereas the heroics and courage of draegermen (rescue miners) and barefaced miners (those with no breathing equipment) who entered the collapsed mine and rescued 88 of their own; and

Whereas the 39 lives lost in that terrible disaster, and all those who perished before and after them while working the mines, continue to be recognized and remembered;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize today, November 1st, in honour of those lost in the Springhill mining disaster of 1956.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 863]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 510

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

Whereas a Victoria County business has recently been awarded a national environmental award recognizing its commitment to innovation and improving their environmental and financial performance; and

Whereas Finewood Flooring and Lumber Ltd. of Middle River received the award at the Eco-Efficiency Centre's Annual Environmental Excellence in Business Breakfast, which coincided with Canadian Environment Week; and

Whereas since attending the Eco-Efficiency Centre's Business Assistance Program in 2005, improvements were made and Finewood Flooring was ultimately rewarded for the proactive strategies it took to reduce its ecological footprint;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Finewood Flooring and Lumber Ltd. for its responsible and innovative approach to its work. May we use this opportunity to encourage other Nova Scotian businesses to become more active in promoting the positive relationship that can exist between an organization and its surrounding environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

[Page 864]

RESOLUTION NO. 511

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

Whereas Diane and Greg McMaster of Vintage Stove and Fireplace were named Business of the Year by the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce October 17, 2006; and

Whereas Diane and Greg took over the business that her father started in 1999; and

Whereas in three short years they've grown the business by providing honest, friendly, high-quality service and quality products. They are doing all the right things for their customers and staff who are true team players;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Diane and Greg McMaster for earning this honour, and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

RESOLUTION NO. 512

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 charity begins at home; and

Whereas fundraising is always necessary to help communities and individuals in need; and

[Page 865]

Whereas Bridgewater Wal-Mart employees donated $10,000 to North Queens Elementary School after they lost their school to a fire;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the staff at Wal-Mart for their generous donation to North Queens Elementary School in Queens County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 513

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

Whereas Doris Patterson reached the milestone of her 100th Birthday on July 13, 2006; and

Whereas she has raised eight daughters, all of whom were home to celebrate her special day with her; and

Whereas she continues to attend meetings of several groups within her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Doris Patterson on her 100th Birthday and for her healthy and active lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 866]

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.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to reintroduce just the operative clause of the motion I had on National School Library Day and read it again. I think there was a misunderstanding.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MS. WHALEN: Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate all those who work in school libraries on National School Library Day and recognize their tremendous contribution to the education of our children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:58 p.m. and conclude at 4:28 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ENERGY - CONSERVE NOVA SCOTIA: CEO APPOINTMENT - DETAILS

[Page 867]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question this afternoon will be for the Premier. This morning Ms. Foley Melvin would not describe the conversation that took place on June 20th with the Premier during which she was dismissed as his chief of staff and offered the position as Chief Executive Officer of Conserve Nova Scotia. The circumstances that led the Premier to appoint Ms. Foley Melvin to the new position are a legitimate issue for Nova Scotians who pay her salary.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier through you is, will the Premier please give Nova Scotians and this House a description of that conversation in which he removed Ms. Foley Melvin from his office and gave her a new job?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, as I said yesterday, I have every confidence in Ms. Foley Melvin's ability to be the new CEO of Conserve Nova Scotia. I think that if the Leader of the Opposition takes a look, we are well within the fair hiring policy in doing what we have done.

MR. DEXTER: Well, that will come as a surprise to many I think, Mr. Speaker. Ms. Foley Melvin stated this morning that all additional staff being hired by Conserve Nova Scotia would be recruited using the normal channels.

Now, as we know, Heather Foley Melvin did not have to go through any normal channels in order to get her current position, which comes with an annual salary of $130,000, as well as a very generous benefits package. I would like to ask the Premier, why does he feel it was appropriate to allow Ms. Heather Foley Melvin's appointment to avoid the normal channels of Public Service recruitment?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will ensure that the Leader of the Opposition receives a copy of the fair hiring policy and, indeed, this position conformed to that policy.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, when questioned about her connection to Rob Batherson, the consultant hired by Conserve Nova Scotia to communicate its message to Cabinet, Heather Foley Melvin stated, we all have our circle of friends. Everyone has friends, but few among us can appoint our friends to jobs paying more than $130,000. The Premier has already taken advantage of the normal goodwill of Nova Scotians by giving such an important highly-paid job to one of his political staff without an open recruitment process. So I would ask the Premier, does he feel free to give more of this province's senior Public Service positions to political staff and others in his circle of friends?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government will always conform to the fair hiring policies that are put in place. That caucus over there should be ashamed of how

[Page 868]

they treated an individual this morning, by personally attacking an individual who is working hard on behalf of this province. Instead of doing what they're doing and criticizing this person on a personal basis, they should be celebrating the fact that we do have this new agency in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENERGY - CONSERVE NOVA SCOTIA: MANDATE - SOURCE

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Today, in the Public Accounts Committee we had Ms. Foley Melvin as a witness before us. She confirmed today what was widely believed all along, that the scope and mandate of Conserve Nova Scotia did not come from the Department of Energy, did not come from energy experts from within the department, and it certainly did not come from outside individuals with vast expertise in the field. The mandate for this agency came from within the Premier's Office. My question to the Premier is, assuming there are no experts in the Premier's Office, why did you not allow the mandate for this important agency to be drafted at the department?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, we made a commitment in our platform with respect to Conserve Nova Scotia, and I'll be more than happy to provide a copy to the honourable member.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, well, we were also told by Ms. Foley Melvin that all the employees of her agency will be put through a fair, competitive hiring process. Well, this is certainly something I applaud, but I also think leadership comes from the top. This isn't a good example for you to set, Mr. Premier, when our most senior positions are political appointments and not held to same standard as other employees in the agency. In fact, most will have to have a greater background. I want to give you a chance today, Mr. Premier, to tell all Nova Scotians, this practice will end for good. Will you commit today to put every civil servant position in this government to a fair and competitive process?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we will indeed be following the policies that are in place. I want to agree with another member of that caucus, the member for Preston, who said about Ms. Foley Melvin, "I believe you will do an excellent job at Conserve Nova Scotia."

MR. GLAVINE: Well, Ms. Foley Melvin may work out okay, but Nova Scotians are under a cloud of suspicion. They are sick of patronage appointments, Mr. Premier, especially ones of this magnitude. People in this province deserve better. They demand that in the highest quality of an individual who will provide the highest level of expertise will be in positions within government to provide the citizens with the best possible services. This is clearly not the case here today. My question to the Premier is, will you

[Page 869]

revoke your political appointment of Ms. Heather Foley Melvin and allow for a fair and competitive process to take place for this position?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I stated earlier, I believe Ms. Foley Melvin is doing an excellent job in her new position, I believe that Conserve Nova Scotia will prove to have a lasting impact on this province with the various programs that will be introduced and indeed this government did follow the fair hiring policy which is in place and which I know that the previous government would have followed as well.

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

ENERGY: GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS - REDUCTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is to the Premier. From Heather Foley Melvin to a subject which she is going to have to deal with. Last Monday the British government published the Stern Review on the economics of climate change. Sir Nicholas Stern, a renowned economist, states simply that if we adopt a "business as usual" mentality to our growing levels of carbon emissions, the consequences will take humans into unknown territory. My question for the Premier is do you accept Stern's conclusions that a substantial reduction in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere must occur before 2050 if we are to avoid catastrophic climate change?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will refer to the Minister of Energy who will provide an update on what is happening through the department.

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, the province is very aware of the responsibility we have to reduce emissions. I would like to inform the Leader of the Opposition that we are moving in that direction and that we are putting initiatives in place to reduce gas emissions in Nova Scotia, a plan made for Nova Scotians.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Stern review concludes that energy efficiency has the potential to be the biggest single source of emissions savings in the energy sector, however the review warns that governments will have to assist families and organizations to make that transition and in particular recommends measures to help with up-front costs of energy efficiency. As you know, I believe that low-interest loans to retrofit homes and businesses are a sound investment in this province's future so I would like to ask the Premier when his government is going to introduce interest free loans so that Nova Scotia families can save money, reduce energy consumption and help reduce greenhouse gas emissions?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, we talk about Conserve Nova Scotia, Conserve Nova Scotia is going out to stakeholders as we speak to come up with solutions to help low-income families and we're very proud of that initiative and we'll have that solution shortly.

[Page 870]

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, I hope we get to it at a faster pace than they get to solving the long-term care crisis, I can tell you that. The Stern Review states that emissions from deforestation represent almost 20 per cent of global emissions, a share greater than is produced by the transportation sector. It recommends that action to preserve our remaining forests is urgently needed. So my final question to the Premier is, when are you going to put in place legislation to protect our forests, ensuring that at least 12 per cent of Nova Scotia is protected forever?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you for the question and for the opportunity to talk about some of the steps we've taken in protecting our forestry within Nova Scotia. We're moving towards the 12 per cent goal of protected areas, we're now at 9 per cent. I was in Antigonish where we made a good news announcement with eight new Nova Scotia Nature Trust areas that are under protection and I want to thank the member opposite for giving me the opportunity to boast about what this government is doing.

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

ENERGY: ELECTRICITY MARKETPLACE GOVERNANCE COMM. -

RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Clearly the Minister of Energy talks about his studies, well here in Nova Scotia, with the impact of the Stern Review, it could mean changes in how we govern the electricity market, changes we have already discussed and agreed upon. The Tory Government in 2004 accepted 89 recommendations from the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee - that's two years of sitting on desks and gathering dust. So, Mr. Minister, if you want a document to study from, there it is. Why don't you implement it?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the member across the way is informed about the draft regulations that are in place now to address the electrical file. That file is a very complicated one, and we have to move very carefully. But I want to tell you that we have a number of initiatives in place to address that issue. Thank you.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, when a peer report is done and a government chooses to ignore it, that's a problem. I understand the marketplace, obviously he and his government don't. Private investors, community groups, municipalities, want renewable electricity and they want it now and they are ready to move forward, but this government stands in their way. The government has wasted opportunity after opportunity to draw down on federal funding to provide for wind power generation, refuses to ensure that renewable producers can operate in a positive business environment. Through you again, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, when is your government

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going to ensure that renewable energy providers can sell their product at a fair price in this province?

MR. DOOKS: Thank you for the question. Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have many initiatives, but I will cite one here today. By February 2007, our government will approve regulations which will allow municipal utilities to buy from independent producers and allow that municipality to sell to their ratepayers. I'm very proud of that, and we have other initiatives in place as well.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, he knows he hasn't come within a mile of talking about Section 51 in EMGC, and he knows this. He has chosen to ignore that report and the impact it will have on the ability for some of these people to sell the energy, particularly IPPs and SOCs. So, Mr. Speaker, my final question to the minister is, when are you going to introduce an electricity Act that your government promised in 2004? When are you going to do it?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, as I said to the member opposite, this file is a very complicated one. The worst thing that government could do would be to move quickly. We have to make sure that we protect the ratepayers of Nova Scotia.

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

ENERGY: WIND POWER - MIN. ADVISERS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, given the current climate surrounding the volatility of the world oil market, and given that we consume so much oil here in Nova Scotia, what could be more important than investing in renewable energies? One of the most effective and sustainable renewable energies is wind power. Many people, both common folk and experts, agree that our province must move toward wind power to help curb high costs of energy and address environmental concerns. However, the Premier's Minister of Energy is not so sure that wind energy is something he wants Nova Scotians to invest in because of concerns he expressed when he said, what if the wind stops blowing?

So, Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, can the Minister of Energy tell us what expert advice did you get when you expressed fear that the wind might stop blowing in Nova Scotia?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, there is certainly enough wind over there to generate power. Regrettably, that comment was taken out of context. I would like to say here, I would like to say for all Nova Scotians that the Minister of Energy in this government would like to see wind energy advance, and we are putting things in place to make that happen.

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MR. SAMSON: Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, hearing a Minister of the Crown saying we're putting things in place is on about the same level as hearing, what if the wind stops blowing?

Mr. Speaker, the minister's suggestion that the wind would stop blowing here in Nova Scotia has brought nothing but embarrassment for our province. This government has announced that it wants to have 20 per cent of its power from renewable sources by 2013. This is a measure we needed a long time ago, and 2013 is just far too late. This goal would be very difficult to achieve if we don't begin to make significant investments in wind energy and other renewables, yet this minister has refused to allow independent power producers to sell directly to consumers. So my question is, what confidence should Nova Scotians have in this minister's ability to meet green energy targets for the Province of Nova Scotia?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I said earlier on today that this government is moving in a positive direction. We now have draft regulations in place that by February 2007, municipal utilities will be able to buy renewables or wind energy. That's a move forward. Also, it's this government that recommended, and the draft regulations are in place that will require Nova Scotia Power to replace the energy that's generated with fossil fuels by wind power. That's another positive step. Also, we have other papers out, and we are waiting for stakeholders to get back to us in the direction to allow yet further wind energy.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, my last question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, you sent quite a signal to Nova Scotians about how low of a priority you place on energy efficiency and renewable energy in this province. You appointed a CEO to Conserve Nova Scotia, who publicly admitted that she knew absolutely nothing about energy conservation. At the same time, you've put in a Minister of Energy who publicly went out and said he feared the wind would stop blowing in our province. My final question to you is, when will the Premier of Nova Scotia finally make our province a leader rather than a mockery in green energy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, making this province greener is a priority for this government. As I said earlier, and I quote, again, the member for Preston, in talking about the CEO of Conserve Nova Scotia, an agency we're all very proud of, "I believe you'll do an excellent job at Conserve Nova Scotia", and I couldn't agree with the member more.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

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COM. SERV.: HOUSING GRANTS - DELAYS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Since being elected to represent Shelburne County, one of the key issues people come to my office to talk about is housing. Many seniors and families are struggling with limited incomes and they need help keeping their homes in liveable conditions, yet they are waiting for months and even years for urgently needed help. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why are so many families with urgent needs waiting so long for help?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague across the way for the question. There's no question that the Province of Nova Scotia and this government takes the housing needs of all Nova Scotians very seriously. We are very pleased to be able to fulfill the $37.3 million commitment under Phase I of the housing agreement with the federal government, to a maximum of 928 units across the province. We're preparing to move forward with $18.9 million under Phase II. As well, we will include, of course, the federal housing trust of $23 million. We look forward to providing housing for all Nova Scotians, to meet the needs of all those seniors, low-income as well as modest- and medium-income Nova Scotians.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Well, Mr. Speaker, on the theme of wind, it seems to be a cold wind blowing across Nova Scotia. According to the staff members in Community Services, one of the reasons is there are not enough staff to handle the applications for housing grants and loans. As of August 8, 2006, there were 143 people in Shelburne County alone waiting for housing grants and loans. The number reflects only the process applications, so the number would actually be higher. My question, again to the Minister of Community Services, is, why hasn't her department provided adequate staffing to process new and backlogged applications for housing assistance?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I took the opportunity over the summer to tour the province and visit some of the hard-working, dedicated staff members who work for the Department of Community Services in the diverse capacities that they do. I want to inform all members of this House that the over 1,100 dedicated, respected, highly qualified staff of the Department of Community Services have my utmost respect and complete confidence in their ability to fulfill the requirements of their job.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, again, the cold winds of this winter are going to blow colder. There are 143 applications waiting for help; 80 were for $5,000 provincial emergency repair grants for health and safety issues for families and seniors. Again, my question to the Minister of Community Services is, when will her department put the resources in place to meet the urgent needs for housing repairs - not only in Shelburne County, but across this province?

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MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to rise in this House during estimates and remind Nova Scotians of the $3.5 million commitment this government made specifically for senior home repairs, along with an additional $1 million commitment from the Department of Health. We're moving forward on ensuring seniors, indeed low-income Nova Scotians, modest-income Nova Scotians, but more specifically seniors in this province, do get those repairs that are so needed.

If the honourable member for Shelburne has specific requests that are not being met, I would encourage him to come and see me at any time to ensure that we're meeting the needs of all Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV.: CAREER SEEK - ESIA BENEFITS

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my first question is for the Minister of Community Services. The minister recently announced the pilot program that will allow 50 single parents in receipt of the ESIA benefits to attend university each year. But like other students receiving the ESIA, they will have any shelter allowance they have to borrow through student loans deducted from their social assistance benefits. This means that your government believes those taking advantage of this program should have to borrow to pay for their rent. Given the existing inadequacy of student loans to cover the cost of post-secondary education in Nova Scotia, why does her government choose not to provide full ESIA benefits?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, when I first took the position as Minister of Community Services, I assured all Nova Scotians that I would bring the 15 years of experience that I had as a member of the public education system to the floor of this House. Career Seek is a positive program. It will empower Nova Scotians who are qualified to go on and seek post-secondary education beyond a two-year program. I'm extremely proud of this. I look forward to the results of Nova Scotia Income Assistance clientele getting back into the workforce, breaking that cycle and being able to move forward positively.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, there's no doubt the government is going to save money, hopefully they are going to help people. I would not want to be the 51st person who applies for this program and gets turned down. The average rent for one bedrooms in HRM is approximately running around $700. Even with a full ESIA shelter allowance and a student aid shelter allowance combined, it is inadequate. I shouldn't have to point out that a student loan is also just that - a loan that will add to the student's debt load for years after graduation. So I ask the Minister of Community Services, why is her

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government replacing provincial benefits with student loans instead of offering full support while their clients are getting an education?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, for the next four years 50 Nova Scotians will be permitted to go on to explore and experience the opportunities of a post-secondary education. I'm extremely proud of that - that's 200 Nova Scotians who are qualified to re-enter the workforce, who want to get back to work and provide for their families. I look forward to meeting each and every one of those on the successful end of his or her education.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, Newfoundland and Labrador is not so shortsighted. Recently the government took steps to eliminate clawbacks of student loan shelter allowance through social assistance clients pursuing education. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why won't her government follow Newfoundland and Labrador's progressive policy, move and provide full ESIA benefits over and above student allotments?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to rise in my place today, as a Member of the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia, and speak to a program that was designed specifically for Nova Scotians. I encourage all members of the House to be proud of being Nova Scotia members of the Legislature.

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

ENERGY: LNG FACILITIES (N.S.) - INTERESTS PROTECT

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, recently a meeting was held with members from the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline, Emera, municipal officials, and Department of Energy officials regarding liquified natural gas projects in the Strait area. The results from the meeting clearly were not what local officials and business representatives had hoped for. No assurances were given that the proposed bullet line from New Brunswick, directly to the United States, would not hurt the chances of LNG facilities here in Nova Scotia.

There is currently an application in front of the National Energy Board to allow the Emera-built New Brunswick pipeline to go ahead with no bypass tariffs, placing the New Brunswick LNG project at a clear advantage. My question to the Minister of Energy is, why are you not actively lobbying and fighting for Nova Scotia's interests on this matter before the National Energy Board?

HON. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, clearly we have intervened and we are intervening with the National Energy Board on this issue and we take this issue very seriously.

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MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we all know it should be the job and role of this minister and his department to fight for opportunities here in this province and by not even allowing their position to be made public to local officials and businesses, shows a lack of leadership. In fact, a former Tory member of the Legislature seems to have a lack of confidence in this minister and his department when Port Hawkesbury Mayor Billy Joe MacLean complained of a lack of information given from the Department of Energy officials. In fact, he's publicly quoted as saying, what is their position? What do they intend to do? No answers were given at that meeting.

Mr. Speaker, the proponents of the LNG facility had been guaranteed that no bypass tariffs will be charged. This same assurance has not been given to the Barra Head project at Point Tupper, Richmond County or the LNG project in Guysborough County. So my question is, will the minister commit today that his department will attend the National Energy Board meetings and fight any attempts by New Brunswick to have an unfair advantage over Nova Scotia's LNG projects?

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'm aware of the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce meeting with two senior officials of the Department of Energy yesterday. I assured the Chamber through the senior officials that we're taking this very seriously and I say to the Leader of the House and the Liberal Party that we are intervening and that we want to meet our objective, and that is fair tolls and tariffs for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we're all aware that this minister has not been actively fighting for the continuation and viability of LNG projects in this province. In fact, we all recall that when Anadarko announced it had failed to get a supply contract, the minister's response was, well, I'm hopeful. Nothing more. No offer of help. No offer of leadership. He told us he was hopeful.

Mr. Speaker, this is the same minister who recently told us he had concerns the wind would stop blowing in Nova Scotia. Renewable energy and economic development are the very things which concern Nova Scotians and this minister is nowhere to be seen on either of these two issues. So my final supplementary is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, will you personally intervene in this matter to ensure that Nova Scotia's interests are protected at the upcoming National Energy Board hearings?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member that indeed Nova Scotia will be aggressively putting forward the position of Nova Scotia at the hearings as an intervener. I can assure that member that we want to make sure that projects such as the potential LNG project, or others, have every single opportunity they can to move forward in this province and I can tell you that position will be put forward through those hearings.

[3:30 p.m.]

[Page 877]

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

HEALTH: WAIT TIMES/OVERCROWDING - ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health this afternoon. Even without the immediate prospect of a hospital workers strike, access to timely health care in Nova Scotia is in question. Rural emergency rooms continue to close because of a shortage of doctors and other health care providers. Surgeries are being cancelled and Nova Scotians are getting frustrated and worried. The Yarmouth Hospital, like many other rural hospitals in the province, is overcrowded and issued a code purple last month; this means that patients are forced to use stretchers in hallways as beds and are receiving hallway medicine. Our health care workers are overworked and stressed out.

So my question to the Minister of Health today, Mr. Speaker, is, when is your government going to address the long wait times and overcrowded hospitals in the Province of Nova Scotia?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question and we too are always concerned about the welfare of our patients. When it comes to code purple- of course we understand the reason for code purple, for those of you in the House, it is that we have basically too many people in the hospital. They're using other rooms as they are available in order to treat these patients, some are in hallways, sometimes they're in lounges. It's an unfortunate situation that happens from time to time in other hospitals, not just Yarmouth. What we're trying to do, of course - is the pressure from our ALC patients, or the alternate level of care that we do have - is to find homes for them, to move them out to the community, which is why we're working so hard on our continuing care strategy.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I have personally witnessed where Nova Scotians have been treated in hospitals. They're being treated in rooms where you dispose of bedpans. It's just unacceptable and this government promised that it would shorten wait times in hospitals. Despite this, Nova Scotians are still waiting far too long for surgeries. Acute care beds are being used to house long-term care patients waiting for placement, creating a shortage of beds for acute care patients and in turn lengthening the wait times for surgeries. This government has failed to meet its promise to create more long-term care beds, to ease the pressure on acute care, and give the seniors the dignity they deserve here in Nova Scotia. So my question to the Minister of Health is, how much longer will Nova Scotians have to wait on stretchers, in hallways, in our hospitals, receiving hallway medicine, before government acts?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure all members of this House, as well as all Nova Scotians, that we're working to the utmost possibility within our department to make sure that we have the beds available through the continuing care

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strategy - 826 beds across this province - making sure we have the right beds in the right locations and making sure those decisions are based on fact and maybe not in places where they're not required. We need to be working on a plan that makes sense for Nova Scotians and I think we are going to have very good announcements in the very near future, making sure that we have those beds available where they're needed.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health needs to work on a plan and implement it now, not in 10 years. The crisis is now. People are waiting now at home for surgeries. Nova Scotians deserve the high quality health care that they were promised repeatedly by this government. Instead they're forced to wait for nursing home beds, wait for surgeries, and wait in hallways in our hospitals. So I ask the Minister of Health, when is your government going to stop making Nova Scotians wait for the health care they deserve?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, I can assure all Nova Scotians that we're working our hardest to make sure that we have the resources available in the locations where Nova Scotians require them. We've had tremendous success in making sure that we have the positions and the specialists that we require across this province. Do we have more work to do? Of course we do, and we want to continue to work on those different strategies, making sure that we have the anaesthesiologists that are required in our hospitals. We just recently signed on to an alternate funding program for anaesthesiologists here at Capital Health making sure that we have those professionals. It is our estimation that we will have the full complement in a very short period of time. So those things all take time and all take planning and I can assure all Nova Scotians that we'll have these things in place very soon.

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

PREM. - SUNDAY SHOPPING: COURT RULING - RESPONSE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in 2004 this government attempted to gauge the mood of Nova Scotians on Sunday shopping through a poorly worded plebiscite question. Regulations were later introduced to prevent shopping on Sundays and the government thought it was done with the issue.

Mr. Speaker, we all know what happened after that, but I'm not sure this government really understands the court's ruling or, more importantly, the wishes of Nova Scotians. Instead of taking even a few minutes to think about the consequences of his response, the Premier threw his hands in the air and refused to show leadership on this important issue. He has now left it open for all retailers to open any day of the week, including holidays - case closed. My question to the Premier is, will you admit that you completely mishandled the issue of Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia?

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THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I believe the government has taken leadership on this issue. Indeed, if any political Party in Nova Scotia has flip-flopped more on this issue, it's the Liberal Party.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I think only Heather Foley Melvin, in this province, would believe that statement by the Premier, when he makes that kind of a statement. We are listening, our caucus has been listening to the voices of Nova Scotians who have said they do not want to be working, nor do they feel the desire to be shopping on statutory holidays. Nova Scotians are appalled at the thought of large stores opening on Good Friday or Canada Day, here in our province. What has been this government's response, to be reactive instead of proactive. Let's take this opportunity to do what's right for workers, business owners and the general public across this province.

There are only five statutory holidays in this province, seven days if you include Thanksgiving and Boxing Day, which were previously protected closing days under former legislation. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier commit to reconsidering his original position and do what's right and what the vast majority of Nova Scotians have requested by keeping stores closed on statutory holidays?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, on one hand the Liberals don't want regulation, and on the other hand they do want regulation. They don't know which direction they're going in. This government has clearly put forward our position. We've put the issue behind us. The reality is that what the Liberal Party and what the Leader wants to see is law enforcement officers back out with the measuring tapes; that's what he's saying today, he wants to see that again. We don't want that. We want them working on other things here in our province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind all members of the House that there is a bill before this House, so please keep your debate to what's relevant.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, what Nova Scotians are looking for is a Premier who will finally show leadership and address the priorities of Nova Scotians, rather than hiding behind his decisions and flip-flopping all over the place, as he has done. (Applause) On one hand, the government says, we're not in the business of regulating business any longer. Shopping will be allowed all over the place, we're out of regulation. Yet they continue with gas regulation here in this province. The hypocrisy that's coming out of this Premier each and every day is unbelievable. Our caucus asked Nova Scotians for their opinions on this.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Over 400 Nova Scotians responded, and the vast majority wanted to see stores closed on statutory holidays.

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MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: My question is, will the Premier commit today to allowing a full debate on the issue of Sunday shopping on statutory holidays during this session of the House?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I have no doubt that - I'm sure, it's Opposition Day today, or perhaps on another day - one of those bills will be called, and of course there'll be a debate on the floor of this House, and we welcome that.

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

HEALTH: EMERGENCY HEALTH SERVICES - FUNDING

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question, again, will be for the Minister of Health. Rural emergency rooms are facing temporary closures because of a shortage of doctors and other health professionals. When emergency rooms close, it means that the responsibility of potential patients falls onto the shoulders of paramedics who provide the care while transporting them to the closest open hospital. No additional resources, however, are being allocated to rural areas, which leaves Emergency Health Services short-staffed and has the potential to compromise their high level of service delivery.

My question to the Minister of Health today is, why is your government not providing more funding to staff Emergency Health Services when emergency rooms continue to close throughout Nova Scotia?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that, through Emergency Health Services, we monitor the situations in all those areas and move around resources as required. We have one of the best ambulance systems in the world, in my estimation. I know the member opposite knows it very intimately, being a paramedic himself. I can say that that service will provide all emergency services for Nova Scotians that they require, Mr. Speaker, and I assure all people that when they do have an emergency to please call 911.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, that seems to be the standard answer in all the government news releases right before they close an emergency room in this province. Ambulances are dispatched under the system status plan, or SSPs, for each region and these regions overlap. When there is a shortage in one region, ambulances are shifted from another region to cover that shortage. This means that when an emergency room closes in a rural community, ambulances often are brought in from the neighbouring region, as they are required. This stretches resources thinly across the affected area, not only in rural areas but across the province.

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So my question to the Minister of Health, why is your government allowing this potential life-threatening situation to persist?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Again, to the member opposite, I can assure him and all Nova Scotians that when there is a closure - which we hope to try to mitigate throughout the year but it is inevitable in some cases - that, through the district health authorities, they have a contingency plan for making sure staffing is in the right place at the right times, in the event of that, that EHS is, of course, available in the locations where they require them.

Mr. Speaker, the EHS system is one that is run on data and best practices, and I have full confidence in that system in protecting Nova Scotians.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, paramedics and the ambulance crews throughout this province are always on call, ready to respond to any emergency. The question here is that paramedics in Nova Scotia are qualified to deal with the patients they receive as a result of emergency rooms. We understand that they can handle it, it is a question around the additional resources needed to meet the needs, the potential needs. However, they cannot do their jobs well unless they receive those additional resources required to do their jobs.

So I ask the Minister of Health, when is your government going to fund EHS so that they can safely and adequately pick up the slack caused by temporary closures of emergency rooms throughout Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I hear what the member is saying but fortunately, we are doing just that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

FISH. & AQUACULTURE - PORT MOUTON FISH FARM: DEV. - CEASE

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture. As everyone in this House knows, Aqua Fish Farms Limited from Grand Etang, New Brunswick, has applied to open a 29 hectare salmon farm west of Port Mouton Island. The Friends of Port Mouton Bay are local residents, fishers, property and business owners who want to protect the bay by stopping the expansion of this farm. The bay is a natural resource that can aid in the development of the local economy through the lobster fishery, tourism and other activities.

Mr. Speaker, I understand that the approval process is continuing but in the face of the mounting opposition, this government seems to ignore the local concerns. My question to the minister is, why won't you listen to the local residents, businesses and Region of Queens and stop this development?

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HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to thank the honourable member for Queens for that question. The Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and the minister more especially, is listening very closely to the community and the concerns that the community has regarding that important project. As well, the minister is very concerned that all considerations are given due diligence and, of course, that would be working with the proponent, working with the community and, in fact, under the minister's good direction and guidance and leadership, he has asked that a delegation go in and meet with Queens County Council. I understand that has been done and Queens County Council was party to a presentation on behalf of the whole project. So there has been a lot of progress made on the project. Thank you.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I was present at that presentation made by the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture just last week and I can tell you that council is very concerned and we are not impressed with the presentation given. It just didn't provide enough information.

[3:45 p.m.]

The expansion is not wanted in Port Mouton, and that was very clear when they tabled a petition today of well over 1,800 signatures. The local group that has come together to protect this bay is looking for information and as MLA I am trying to get as much information as possible. We know the Department of Fisheries and Aquaculture have monitoring reports of the current operation run by Aqua Fish Farms Limited. However, when the Friends of Port Mouton Bay sought an access to these records they were turned down. In fact, on their behalf, I had to file a freedom of information request.

Mr. Speaker, these reports should be part of the public record and as such should be made available when requested. My question is, why is his department keeping this information from the Friends of Port Mouton Bay?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Queens made a claim, an allegation that information is being kept from the people. I would take that under advisement and communicate that to the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, and in fact will make that commitment today that I will bring that to the minister's attention.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my final question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Far too often this government is deciding to ignore the concerns of communities. We need not look too hard and we can find examples across this province like the Digby Neck quarry, strip mining, and now again in Port Mouton. My question, when will this government give the proper consideration to local voices when making decisions that will impact entire communities?

HON. MARK PARENT: Thank you very much for the question. We have a very strict environmental assessment regime here in this province that includes extensive

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public consultation, and that is one of the more rigorous ones across Canada. In terms of the Digby Neck quarry, for example, we have a joint federal-provincial review looking at this panel that was appointed jointly by the provincial and federal government. In terms of pioneer coal assessment, we had public consultation, and in terms of the LNG right now, I just signed off in Goldboro for a public consultation in three regions. So we have an extensive process.

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

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it has now been four months since this government, with the support of the NDP, forced gas regulation onto Nova Scotian consumers. The Premier put this system in place because he said it was what consumers wanted, consumers wanted stability over lower prices. Recent polls have shown that clearly the Premier does not have the pulse of the people. This Premier has forced consumers to pay higher prices, admitted the old system would give us lower prices, and still refuses to listen to the advice of his own commission study from last Fall. Mr. Premier, you clearly put the system in place of gas regulation because you thought it would win you votes. Now we know 70 per cent of Nova Scotians are opposed to regulation and even retailers today are rejecting it as well. So my question is when will you finally listen to Nova Scotians and abandon gas regulation in our province?

THE PREMIER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. Indeed we have already made a commitment to the people of Nova Scotia that we would do an appropriate independent review and that will be done after six months. I would hope, and I'm sure, that the Leader of the Liberal Party would also pay close attention to what that independent review will come back with.

MR. SAMSON: Needless to say our caucus has been listening to Nova Scotians which is why we're pleased that review has been agreed to and we look forward to the results. The Utility and Review Board was supposed to take over gas regulation from this government, today in fact, however the URB is recommending significant changes because, simply, the government got it wrong, so this government decided they would keep gas regulation longer. The URB agreed with the Liberal caucus that prices, if regulation was going to be kept, should be set weekly while, ironically, the NDP wants prices set for a full month at a time. This entire issue has been mishandled from the day it began. Any system which forces consumers to pay more than it normally would, is not in this province's best interest. The only thing that stands between lower gas prices and Nova Scotians, is the Tory Government and the New Democratic Party.

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

[Page 884]

MR. SAMSON: My question to the Premier is, how much longer will you sacrifice the personal finances of our citizens because you refuse to admit that you were wrong (Interruption) on gas regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we introduced regulation to provide that price stability for the consumers of Nova Scotia. Those I've been talking to across Nova Scotia feel they are receiving that stability. The reality is, though, we will do the independent review, we will have that done, and we will take a look at what that review comes back with.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is correct in saying that there is a review on the horizon for gas regulation, and we do certainly hope that that's going to be a proper review that will look at all aspects of the impact of gas regulation. The taxpayers of this province have already paid for a report, which told them that gas regulation was not in the best interests of the citizens of Nova Scotia. That was last Fall when the Tories, at that time, were opposed to gas regulation. Consumers are heavily against gas regulation, and are sick of paying higher prices. New Brunswick recently made our province less competitive when they reduced their motive fuel tax . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question.

MR. SAMSON: . . . by almost 4 cents. My final question to the Premier is, what plan do you have to ensure that Nova Scotia businesses do not suffer as a result of lower gas prices in New Brunswick, thus making us less competitive?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, first of all, the bill that enabled this government to regulate was supported by all the Parties in this Legislature, including that Party over there. You can't have it both ways.

Secondly, Mr. Speaker, if we reduced the tax rate, particularly on gasoline, by what the member is asking, it would cost us in the range of up to perhaps $50 million. I would throw it back to the member, where should that come from? Or does he want us to do what the Liberal Government in the 1990s did, and cut and slash the highway budget of this province?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would note to all members to be mindful of the length of time for asking questions and answering. They're getting too long in places.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

NAT. RES.: PROTECTION - REVIEW

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In 2005, this department took part in a review of game sanctuaries

[Page 885]

and wildlife management areas. Their original intent on de-listing these areas was met with a thunderous public response, demanding that government do no such thing. In fact, a large number of the respondents called for added protections in areas like Blandford and Liscombe. The minister of the day's final decision was to leave the status quo in place. When I asked this minister in July what his intentions were for these areas, his response was that he would not de-list any. That isn't enough. These areas need more protections. My question to the minister is, when will he finish the job of his predecessor and bring forward changes that offer these areas real protections?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. The member has quite correctly acknowledged that the former minister did do the public consultation, he listened to the people, and he respected their wishes. These game sanctuaries are there to protect the fauna of the province in that area, and that's what they will continue to do.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in some of these areas, there is not sufficient protection. People who sent in submissions are contacting my office and telling me that they did not ask for the status quo, they asked for more protections. I know there is summary of submissions received by the review available on the Web, but to get a full understanding of what the public is looking for, I think it is very important to have access to the actual submissions. The only way I have to get access to these records is through the Freedom of Information Act, with a total quoted cost of $449.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACKINNON: These are documents that for all intents and purposes should be part of the public record.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. As I indicated, I would ask that all members be mindful of the amount of time that it is taking to ask and answer a question. (Interruption) I was just getting there, yes, and so is supper coming.

To the honourable member for Pictou East - on the question, please, just the question.

MR. MACKINNON: My question to the minister is, why won't he grant full access to those public records?

MR. MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and to the member opposite, I appreciate his concern and anything that we are legally able to do under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act to assist the member, will be done.

MR. MACKINNON: I think it is very clear that more protections are needed. Liscomb continues to be clear-cut, and the Chignecto Game Sanctuary is currently under

[Page 886]

threat. The Blandford Game Sanctuary sits like a jewel in the Aspotogen Peninsula but, without protection, its future will remain uncertain. If the minister is unwilling to give overall protection to these areas, why won't he at least move forward and protect the Crown-owned parcels in these sanctuaries? Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to make it absolutely clear that this government has no intention of removing any of the protections for the wildlife in any of those game sanctuaries - absolutely clear.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ECON. DEV.: TRENTON WORKS - FUTURE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question through you is to the Minister of Economic Development. Less than a year ago, Trenton Works in Pictou County employed 1000 men and women, and the payroll was $42 million a year - money that went directly into our local economy. Today, only about 100 workers are still there and that number continues to dwindle - only 10 per cent of the payroll still remains and the county's whole economy remains uncertain.

So my question to the minister: What is your department doing to ensure that TrentonWorks remains a viable entity in Pictou County, and an economic engine in the Nova Scotia economy?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and through you to the honourable member, I can assure that member that I have met with the executive of TrentonWorks. My staff is dealing with them now, and we are looking at alternative means to use the facilities at TrentonWorks to see if there are other avenues that we can explore to help generate jobs for that community and enhance the workplace in the Trenton area.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question this time is for the Premier. On October 14th, the Premier spoke after a meeting in Arichat, in Cape Breton, and was quoted in The ChronicleHerald as saying "we are willing to work with them in whatever capacity we can" - referring to TrentonWorks. The article went on to say that the Premier has met with representatives of the U.S. parent company, Greenbrier Company of Oregon.

So my question to the Premier, who did he meet with, and what did he have to say about the future of TrentonWorks?

THE PREMIER: Indeed, Mr. Speaker, after speaking with the member for Pictou Centre, who was very concerned about the situation at TrentonWorks, I met with Bob Hickey, and following that I indicated to Mr. Hickey that a meeting will be set up with

[Page 887]

Nova Scotia Business Inc., Economic Development, and the minister, and we followed up on that request.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have met with Bob Hickey, the CEO of TrentonWorks. There is an old adage back home - as goes TrentonWorks, so goes Pictou County.

[4:00 p.m.]

Certainly TrentonWorks is a huge economic engine, a tremendous asset to Pictou County, and to Nova Scotia in general, and with a great skilled workforce that is ready and willing and able to go to work. The Premier says the province is willing to help Trenton Works, well, the question is, how? We're at the eleventh hour so, Mr. Premier, how is the province willing to help Trenton Works?

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

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I can assure the honourable member that we have dedicated employees at OED who are working on this file. We are looking at alternative ways to use the workers and the facilities there to see what we can do to enhance the workforce in that area. I had lunch with the executive approximately a month ago and I committed to those people that we would stay on top of this file and do whatever we possibly can as a government to help them out to make sure that we retain those jobs in that area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH PROM. & PROTECTION: FLU SHOTS - TIME FRAME

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last year's flu campaign began on October 18th, but flu shots this year will not be available until November 15th. The government has told us that there is a problem with the manufacturer's supply. We believe the Minister of Health has an obligation to inform Nova Scotians directly that flu shots will be late and we all know that seniors and people with heart and lung conditions are at high risk of getting the flu. Each year, between 500 and 1,500 Canadians die of pneumonia and other complications of the flu. My question for the minister is, why didn't the minister publicly tell Nova Scotians that flu shots will be late and advise individuals in high-risk categories the appropriate precautions to avoid getting the flu?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: I refer that to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

[Page 888]

HON. BARRY BARNET: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to tell the member opposite that in fact we did publicly tell Nova Scotians. We did a press release. We sent letters to all of the doctors in the medical clinics and hospitals in the province so they were well aware of the fact that the flu vaccines may be late this year.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Health. With Nova Scotia's aging population the province has a high rate of asthma as well; the reality is that a lot of Nova Scotians are sick or will get sick with the flu this year because of the delay in the access to the flu vaccine. We know that a small amount has been secured for individuals in long-term care facilities, but it doesn't take care of the problem elsewhere. Surely the minister could have secured enough of the vaccine to protect high-risk Nova Scotians from getting sick. My question to the minister is, did he try to obtain an earlier supply of the vaccine for high-risk Nova Scotians and what exactly were his actions?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: As the member full well knows, the responsibility for immunization is the responsibility of Health Promotion and Protection, so I will ask him to answer that question.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, in fact we did source a supply for high-risk Nova Scotians. We distributed it to those Nova Scotians. Furthermore, I'm pleased to tell the House today that the supply for flu shots will be in earlier than we expected, we expect to see them here on Tuesday or Wednesday of next week.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It had to take me asking this question to get that information from the minister, but yet he expects us to believe that he informed Nova Scotians before - maybe that's the whole problem with this government, they don't know what they're doing. Again I wanted to make sure that the Minister of Health knows at the very least he should have been publicly encouraging high-risk individuals before now to go to the doctor, get the shot that's available, otherwise they're at a higher risk of developing the flu. My final question to the minister today, will you commit today to publicly encourage Nova Scotians to get to their doctors as soon as possible when the vaccine arrives?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I can assure them that we will probably be doing this but it's a better question for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection, who has this responsibility.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to tell the member opposite that, in fact, we have done just that. We're very pleased with the fact that we were able to secure the shots we need earlier than we expected. This is not just a Nova Scotia issue, it's a Canadian issue. In fact, the good thing about this is the fact that the flu season traditionally doesn't hit in Nova Scotia until December or January and again in March

[Page 889]

and April. The benefit will be that the single flu shot will be able to cover both flu seasons, both the winter and the Spring flu season, that we traditionally experience here in Nova Scotia.

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

COM. SERV.: C.B. HOUSING - NEEDS

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Just a short while ago the minister said how proud she was of her government and the $37.9 million they spent on affordable housing. This government has failed to build one single unit of affordable housing in Cape Breton under the federal Affordable Housing Agreement - again, none. In addition, many public housing units are vacant, in need of repairs, including the removal of asbestos and insulation. Meanwhile there's a growing waiting list for families with a desperate need for safe, affordable housing. I ask the minister, why has this government ignored the housing needs in Cape Breton?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place and again inform members of this House of the $37.3 million which was committed to the Province of Nova Scotia under Phase I. Phase II will bring $18.9 million in the days to come and the income trust will bring $23 million that all Nova Scotians will see the benefits of.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, all Nova Scotians, not one unit to this day built, and that Affordable Housing Agreement was signed October 1, 2003, not one unit. Over half the renters in Cape Breton are considered to be in core need for spending over one-third of their income on housing costs. The government won't repair the vacant public housing and refuses to build new affordable housing for a growing list of needy families in Cape Breton. They have chosen to line the pockets of private landlords with rent supplements and sweetheart-deal constructions instead. My question to the minister is, minister, when is it Cape Breton's turn?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, it's no surprise to my honourable colleague across the way that, of course, Cape Breton has approximately 16 per cent of the province's population and Cape Breton has 30 per cent of the public housing portfolio. Approximately $4 million was committed in Cape Breton last year under the Affordable Housing Program, Phase I.

MR. GOSSE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would like to know who got the money because you can't knock on a door in your riding and I can't knock on a door in my riding because there are none built in Cape Breton, not one. This department is hiring consultants to review its housing program, including public housing - more studies, more delays in repairing and replacing aging units. My final question to the Minister of

[Page 890]

Community Services is, when will this government finally repair the vacant units and give families on the waiting list a safe, affordable place to call home?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place and inform all members of this House that indeed new rentals, 33 in Cape Breton; rental preservation, 104 in Cape Breton; home preservation, 65 in Cape Breton. Although I didn't teach math, that's 202 for Nova Scotia and Cape Breton. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WATER STRATEGY PROGRAM

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. As you know, Dartmouth is renowned for its lakes; however, increasingly our lakes are coming under threat. Most recently an algae bloom in Lake Micmac was found to be a result of municipal activities in the headwaters of Grassy Brook. Far too often, little thought is given to the impacts activities will have downstream. Pollution doesn't seem to be on anyone's radar. When it comes to protecting our lakes there is an apparent lack of leadership coming from the provincial department. No one seems to bear responsibility for ensuring our lakes are protected. My question to the minister is, what actions are you prepared to take to protect our lakes and waterways?

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the protection of our water system in the Province of Nova Scotia is something that all of us, I'm sure, are interested in and feel strongly about. I laud the former member for Kings South, my colleague, who helped launch our water strategy program. I understand that in this issue, we have a contract with the municipality for the protection of that water.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I'm sorry, I'm actually somewhat confused by the answer. I think perhaps there seems to be confusion about the responsibility among the three levels of government as well when it comes to protecting our lakes and waterways. Local residents look at their lakes and see that there are problems, but when they make calls, the answers they receive consists of finger pointing among different levels of government. It's hard to get answers when everyone's working in their own silo. The problem that began in Grassy Brook in Lake Micmac is now showing signs of spreading. When will the minister take action to remedy this problem and work with stakeholders to stop it from happening again?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'll be happy to take a look at the issue if the honourable member would like to provide me with the details of it. It is part of a contract

[Page 891]

development agreement with the municipality, but if she wants me to take a further look at it, I would be happy to do that.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, this is just one example among hundreds of the problem areas in this province. So to help un-muddy the waters, all levels of government have to come to the table with the community to develop a plan to save our lakes. I've spoken with many of the people involved and all agree that the provincial Minister of Environment and his department must take a leadership role in developing a detailed, comprehensive and coordinated strategy to protect lakes and waterways in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, how will you achieve this?

MR. PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the member makes a very good question about how the environmental issues go across all levels of government and across all departments of government. That's something we have discussed with Ministers of Environment. She'll be pleased to know that at my suggestion the Ministers of Environment have put the protection of water as the main agenda at their next AGM with the Ministers of Environment across Canada. We'll be talking about discussions and ways to do it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TPW: BRIDGE REPAIRS - SAFETY ENSURE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Bridges have collapsed in areas around this province in recent years. For example, the Meteghan River Bridge at home collapsed three years ago and we were lucky nobody was hurt at that time. I would hate to think that what happened in Montreal two months ago might happen here in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia highway engineers assess bridges in this province on a regular basis and they're recommending we need over $500 million in the next decade for bridge repairs. Some bridges in our province are over 100 years old. The minister and this government must address this matter before a disaster strikes here in Nova Scotia.

[4:15 p.m.]

My first question to the minister is, has your department commissioned a study or implemented any initiatives to ensure safety on our bridges, since the bridge collapse disaster in Montreal?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and the answer is yes.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the department engineers and staff inspect bridges throughout our province on a regular basis and monitor the condition of our bridges. This is a matter of public safety and the government has a responsibility to see to it. So my

[Page 892]

first supplementary to the minister is, how often are bridges in Nova Scotia inspected, and are bridge inspections available to the public?

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. The department does have a crew responsible for bridges. There are a number of them throughout the province. They do inspect the bridges, and the reports will vary depending upon the conditions which they encounter in the bridges they are inspecting.

With respect to the particular situation referenced in Quebec, I believe that we have only one structure of that nature in the province. It was inspected, and inspected rather thoroughly, and we don't anticipate any difficulty with that in the near future because it appears to be in very good shape, Mr. Speaker.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, in a recent presentation to our caucus on behalf of the Nova Scotia Road Builders Association, some interesting statistics were brought to our attention. The Department of Transportation and Public Works is responsible for maintaining over 4,000 bridges. That's a lot of infrastructure. What's more astounding is that the majority of the bridges in our province are past their expiry date, compared to the national average.

My final question to the minister is, what is the government's plan to rectify the current deplorable situation regarding Nova Scotia's infrastructure?

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for the question. We have a Bridge Replacement Program that has a schedule of replacement, depending upon the availability of funds. I can tell you that if the Liberal caucus has their way and we lose tax revenue, then that list won't be very long because we need the funds in order to carry out the program, which the honourable member is asking us to do as he sits beside his Leader who is asking us to reduce our revenue for our highway repair and construction.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

EDUC.: NSCC (AKERLEY CAMPUS) RINK - STATUS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. On Tuesday, October 24, 2006, I was informed by the Dartmouth Whalers Minor Hockey Association that the rink in the Nova Scotia Community College, Akerley Campus, was going to be shut down. The rumour was that the rink space was needed to expand other programs at the campus.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The Chair can't hear the speaker.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

[Page 893]

MS. MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would you like me to start again?

This information did come as quite a shock to me and given the public reaction in the following days, it was news to just about everyone except the Nova Scotia Community College. Considering that the Dartmouth East community had recently concluded a consultation process . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. During Question Period, it's important for the Chair to hear the question. The audible levels and voice levels of certain members may be louder than others and more readily heard, as some people know. Other members have the right to be heard by the Chair so that the question can be asked and answered appropriately. So I would ask the indulgence of all members to recognize that the Chair must hear that. If a speaker is next to this Chair and I can't hear it, maybe there's too much chatter in the House.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

MS. MASSEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I'll try one more time.

Considering that the Dartmouth East community recently concluded a consultation process for a new community centre, which does not include a rink, I have to ask the Minister of Education, how can the Akerley Campus have plans in the works to take away a rink that not only serves Dartmouth East, but the surrounding communities without any type of community consultation?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for that question. Quite honestly, I'm not familiar with that particular situation, so I'm going to have to take it under advisement and respond.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. In a recent news article, the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection was quoted as saying: It's kind of unfortunate that they didn't think about the possibility of that ice surface closing, and somehow incorporate the overall ask to resolve both those issues.

Mr. Speaker, the "they" he is referring to is the Dartmouth East Recreation Centre Society. This is just a group of volunteers from the area who have worked diligently and very hard to make the dream of a community centre for Dartmouth East become a reality. Indeed, the society did not ask for a rink; why would they when a rink did exist, basically right across the street . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

[Page 894]

MS. MASSEY: . . . from where the community centre is going. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection is, when are you going to stop trying to blame the volunteers in the community and start working with us to fix the problem?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, as I've indicated to the member opposite in a voicemail, and I know that she heard parts of it, the "they" I was referring to was both Halifax Regional Municipality and the school as well. We want to support community initiatives to further the infrastructure in this province. Our track record speaks for itself. We've invested millions of dollars in rinks and community facilities across this province, and there's not a member opposite whose constituency wasn't impacted by our RFD program. We'd be more than happy to, and have arranged a meeting with folks from HRM and the school, as well, to discuss an interim solution to this problem so that we can get to a point where we have a permanent solution.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately the Minister of Education is not here, but I will . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. No member is allowed to refer to the presence or absence of a member in the House.

MS. MASSEY: I do apologize, Mr. Speaker. I totally didn't mean to do that. I'll pose the question to the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection, and possibly he can find out the information I'm looking for from the appropriate person. I do believe that this whole scenario is just another example of poor communication between various government departments. Anyway, I'm willing to work with whoever I have to, and so is the community, to solve this problem and move forward, but I do feel I have to stick up for volunteers in my community.

Mr. Speaker, my question is, through the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection, will you commit to keeping this facility open as a rink until a proper solution is found?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to again address the first question, and the fact that the member opposite wants to portray this as an attack on that community group. In fact, that is not the case. In fact, our department, Health Promotion and Protection has done a great deal of work to support recreation facilities throughout this province and particularly in that community. As I committed earlier, I've already arranged a meeting between myself, the Halifax Regional Municipality and the folks at the Akerley Campus to discuss an interim solution to this problem. It's important for Nova Scotians to have a healthy and active lifestyle. Our investment in these projects is part of our plan to make Nova Scotia the healthiest province in this country.

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

[Page 895]

TCH: PROSPECT ROAD - SIGNAGE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the members opposite and the members of the Third Party for paying close attention to this. My question is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. The Prospect Road is a highly-promoted part of the Lighthouse Route on the way, of course, to Peggy's Cove. This is a scenic highway, which is unfortunately cluttered with signs of all descriptions and all sizes. From the entrance to the Prospect Road to Exhibition Park, a distance of perhaps two kilometres, there are at least 91 signs on telephone poles, trees and other structures - an unsightly clutter, for sure. In 2000, a committee was formed to review signage across this province. I would like the Minister of Tourism to bring this House up-to-date on the progress of that committee. When will we hear from what has happened to the review of signage across this province as designated by the Minister of Tourism?

HON. LEONARD GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, thank you for the question. When it comes to signage within HRM, that is an issue with regard to the Halifax Regional Municipality. It's my understanding that, as of about three weeks ago, there was a brand new sign by-law that was passed by the regional municipality that would restrict signage and the type of signage in certain areas of HRM.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out to the member opposite that when Mr. Ron Russell - I believe I'm allowed to use his name in this situation - was the minister sitting on that side, the minister on various occasions corresponded with us on the problem of signage and the difficulties we're having around the province. The minister, at that time, Ron Russell, dealt with the issue and didn't pass it off to our friends - or maybe your friends - just up the hill here at the Grand Parade.

Prince Edward Island has a consistent sign policy that has been well received by tourists and businesses throughout the Garden of the Gulf. I want to know if this committee has consulted other jurisdictions. This committee was formed in the year 2000. What has happened to the report and has Prince Edward Island been consulted?

MR. GOUCHER: Mr. Speaker, I must honestly say I'll have to take that question under advisement and I'll get back to the honourable member as soon as I can. Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, that's the frustration that we have on this issue and any other issues along this status. We've heard the Minister of Health say, shortly we'll get a piece of good news. We've heard other ministers say, there will be something coming in the future. I'm talking about a report in a committee that we have waited for, for not one, not five, but six long years. Six years we're expecting this report - when will it be made public? When will the report be made public, who have you consulted, what's the status of this review?

[Page 896]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for Question Period has expired. Order. The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. I know in Question Period, we become animated. I know we get excited and we oftentimes speak out of turn or we speak in a reactionary mode. But, I have to rise on a point of personal privilege regarding comments made by my honourable colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova. I think what I'm going to look for is clarification.

On a day when we have young people in the gallery, when my own son was in the gallery - I've taught my children to have the utmost respect for people who serve the public and I know at times we do get animated. The comment that was made after I provided an answer, which included facts and figures, and the comment that then came back, I found offensive and I'm not sure if it was meant to be that way or if it was simply a reaction.

So, I rise on that point of personal privilege to ask for clarification, Mr. Speaker, on that point.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess, first of all, on a technical point, I think this would be a point of order, not a point of privilege or personal privilege, which actually doesn't happen in this House, and the Minister of Justice, thank you for your intervention.

[4:30 p.m.]

What I would say is that my understanding is the member has a concern about a point of order, about something that may have been said. Not putting on the record what it is, well, do you know what, if there's a concern about a specific word, let it be said. Let's talk about that. I would say, if I think what she thinks is the word that she is saying he said, I can table a definition of the word that talks about it as something of little substance (Interruptions) No, fine, I'll table it, there, I table it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, if this is an issue, I mean she hasn't said what the word is that she thinks he said, but if the member believes that there has been a word said that she feels somehow was offensive, then my position is, if I think it's the word that she says it is, that that word as interpreted is a word meaning of little substance and that's the intention that was used in the word. That is not a term that would be unparliamentary or would be a term that would be accusatory of any particular member.

[Page 897]

MR. SPEAKER: If there are no other comments at this time, I will take the comments presented.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I've been in this House for nine years and on many occasions I've had members opposite rise on a lot less important matters to talk about in this House. (Interruption) I am having input in this. (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I think I have the floor.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes. Order, please. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please.

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I have seen members rise on less important issues and make it a point of personal privilege. I think the honourable Minister of Community Services has risen in her position on a very important matter. It may not be important to members of this House, but I believe to women across this province. For someone to make light of it, I think is very unfortunate not only for this House but for everyone.

So I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that you take the matter under advisement and investigate it, because I think it's a very important matter.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There have been lots of things said in this House today that have been heard by the Chair whether on the record or off the record and the decorum of this House is very important regardless and all Nova Scotians expect us to adhere to that. I think, frankly, that we'll be very mindful of that the next time we come into this Chamber for a debate for that. However, as I was saying, I will take the matter under advisement, but I also would advise all members to be cognizant and cautious in their comments around this Chamber. So I will report back to the House at an appropriate time.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: 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 Opposition House Leader.

[Page 898]

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 26.

Bill No. 26 - Cape Breton Strip Mines Moratorium Act.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it's an honour today for me to rise on the matter of this bill, Bill No. 26 - Cape Breton Strip Mines Moratorium Act. The Department of Environment and Labour approved strip mining at Point Aconi. Conditions laid out by the province - let's start off with the Committee Against Strip Mining, they've tried for over a year and a half, or possibly two years now, to realize that what's going to happen to their beautiful part of Boularderie Island, Point Aconi, outside the fence of the Prince Mine, and now they have a problem with a committee. The province has overall jurisdiction of the coal leases in Cape Breton or anywhere else in the province. They have given a lease to Pioneer Coal Limited of Antigonish.

Mr. Speaker, the problem is that they have also implemented a community citizen liaison committee. It's the first time in the Province of Nova Scotia that this committee will remain anonymous. I will honestly say that the minister was quoted as saying, if I remember correctly, that we don't like operating in this way with a community liaison committee, it's better if it functions in a way that is more open. But apparently this committee is not going to be open. Nobody knows who's on this committee. The committee members felt it was necessary to stop their names from being forwarded of who is on that committee. Mr. Speaker, how can that be an open dialogue between the community liaison committee and the members against strip mining on Cape Breton Island? The Cape Breton Regional Municipality has passed the resolutions stating that they are against strip mining.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Victoria-The Lakes, in his campaign, said that he was against strip mining. So I'm hoping that with a little bit of support from the member for Victoria-The Lakes that he'll get the ear of some of his caucus colleagues to maybe tell them how important it is not to strip mine this beautiful piece of land, 228 hectares, of which 18 hectares is beautiful swamp land, cranberry bog, where they have fossil discovery, all kinds of beautiful places on the hill there, a beautiful beach; they're going to bring in a high-wall miner and dig down 150 feet into that beautiful piece of land. What's going to happen to the fishery? What's going to happen to people's water? What's going to happen to the water table? All of those issues.

If anybody in this Legislature wants to have a good look at what's happening in strip mining, take a drive to the Sydney-Glace Bay highway and alongside the airport - the old airport road in Reserve - and have a good look at that moonscape, have a good look at what was done to that piece of land when that was strip mined. It's a moonscape. There is nothing that grows there, there's nothing on it at all.

[Page 899]

Seventy-two per cent of the people living on beautiful Cape Breton Island do not want this strip mine on their island. I don't know what the message is, or how loud and clear we can get this through to the House of Assembly, to other people, when we have that many people - 72 per cent do not want strip mining on Cape Breton Island. I just don't understand. In a democratic society when you vote members to the Legislative Assembly to listen to the people, the people are saying overwhelmingly in Cape Breton that we're still having strip mining with the opposition that's out there now.

I recently attended a "day" held by the community citizens against strip mining over on the old road - I guess they call it the cranberry bog. I have some beautiful pictures I took on that day, beautiful pictures of growth forest, of the ocean, the Bird Islands and everything. To destroy that. How many jobs are going to be created?

It reminds me, to go back in the history of when the people from England came to Cape Breton Island to open up the coal mines there, we saw how they treated our grandfathers and our forefathers - they owned them. We saw the labour disputes, we have Davis Day, a holiday. We saw how the company owned the company store, people lived in company houses. Is this what we're going back to again? The history of strip mining is not a good piece of history in Cape Breton or anywhere else in Nova Scotia at this present time. Mr. Speaker, 72 per cent, 6,906 people were surveyed and over 72 per cent of those people said to them that they do not want strip mining.

It's very clear that this is an issue of government - government, very clear - more interested in looking after the interest of big business rather than looking after their citizens.

The member for Victoria-The Lakes lives in that riding, a part of that is in his riding. Now, Mr. Speaker, he campaigned in the election that he was against strip mining, he sits in that office with them. I just hope and pray that he can convince the members that he sits with on that side of the House to not strip mine beautiful Cape Breton Island, not so much for my generation but for my children's generation. To come down the back side of Kellys Mountain and see a 150-foot hole as you're driving down that mountain, for what benefit, benefit of big business?

We should be promoting ecotourism, we should be promoting the beautiful Cape Breton Island. Tourism rates are down in the Province of Nova Scotia and down in Cape Breton, why not promote ecotourism? Why not have people come to our beautiful island for boating and exercise and biking? Mr. Speaker, 228 hectares, 18 hectares of wetland, what's going to happen to the habitat of the wetland? Where are they going to go? Are they going to die off? Here we are with more species endangered in the Province of Nova Scotia.

It makes it very clear that this is to support big business, Mr. Speaker. I don't know how many rallies or how many protests over the years since I have been elected

[Page 900]

in this Legislature that I attended on behalf of the citizens in my riding and listened to the desperate plea of people. We got elected to come to this Legislature to do what you can do for the constituents that you represent, on a daily basis.

Now here we are hearing from 72 per cent of the people, 72 per cent who don't want strip mining. For what, Mr. Speaker? I could go on and make this political of how many people donated to the campaign of this Party and that Party. I'm not going to do that. {Interruption) That's right, who won the seat, I hear from the other side. Absolutely right, they voted in the member because he told them that he was going to go to Halifax and he was going to convince his caucus colleagues not to strip mine on Cape Breton Island. You're absolutely right when they said that member over there, absolutely, and they're not listening to him. They are still strip mining.

Mr. Speaker, there is an appeal before the Department of Environment and Labour; 50 recommendations that were to be met. Some of those recommendations are not being met. The member for Victoria-The Lakes knows how disappointed these people are that this is going to happen to their beautiful island. I guess when I think when the campaign was on and I think if I am correct that the member had said that it may have to go to the Supreme Court of Canada. I distinctly read that in an article, I think, somewhere when I was out, in the Cape Breton Post or The Chronicle Herald, that maybe we have to appeal the decision to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia.

Well, I am hoping that member can appeal that decision to the members in his caucus when he campaigned, like the rightful member over there said, against strip mining in Cape Breton - a beautiful island, but nobody wants strip mining, Mr. Speaker, nobody. Who wants to tear up that island, for how much? For 1.6 million? How much employment - I mean maybe the minister can stand up when I am finished here and tell everybody in this House how much money is going to be made, what are the benefits of jobs to the people of Cape Breton Island? We've heard that in our history, we were there when the people from England came in and took those jobs and put people to work and controlled their lives. We have been through all of those strikes and all those things in the past.

Here we are again, a democratic society, not listening to the people of Cape Breton Island, not listening because of big business. We're going to destroy that beautiful island - 1.6 million tons of coal. How much money is that going to bring? How much money is that going to give the Province of Nova Scotia? I don't understand why this government is so forceful on pushing strip mining on this beautiful island.

Now I know when the member for Victoria-The Lakes drives home every weekend like I do, when he comes down that back side of the mountain and sees that hole on beautiful Boularderie Island - I will be tabling pictures of that sometime in the near future in this Legislature; the one of the cranberry bog, the one of the ocean, the one of the view of Bird Islands, and the member knows how beautiful a place that is - all for

[Page 901]

big business. The citizens against strip mining are being left out. They protested for well over two years, if not longer, since I have been a member. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I do appreciate the chance to get up and speak on the importance of mining in Nova Scotia and I appreciated the comments from the previous speaker but I would like to draw attention to what this is about. This is a bill before the House. It is called An Act to Enforce a Moratorium on Strip Mines in Cape Breton. I'd like to talk a little bit about what is actually in the bill, and then draw to a provincial perspective and what that, in fact, would do to the provincial economy, and specifically the mining sector.

It explains that strip mining basically includes any kind of open pit mine, with the exception of a quarry. So I would assume that might even conceivably include gravel pits. It goes on to say that under this bill, were it passed today and proclaimed and put into law, that no new strip mine - again, that would be any type of open pit mine - shall be permitted to begin or any existing strip mine to expand its operations within Cape Breton, which is really quite a profound statement.

I would suggest, Mr. Speaker, that Acts that are passed within this Legislature should not be confined to just one part of the province - by and large - if this is what the NDP believes is appropriate, and that is fair ball.

[4:45 p.m.]

It's a policy question. It's a philosophical difference between the government and the Official Opposition, the government being in support of mining in the province - and I have no problem with the fact that we're having this debate in the Legislature. They've put their feelings on paper, their beliefs on paper. In essence, the argument that I am making is that this Act is so restrictive that if it was applied across the province - and I would suggest that if this seriously went forward, it would either be a provincial Act or it would be none - that in essence it would shut down mining activity in this province.

Why do I say that, Mr. Speaker? I would suggest that Nova Scotians might be interested to know that of the 35 active mines in the province, 33 of them are open-pit mines.

There are two underground mines - they're both salt mines, Pugwash and Nappan - but the rest are open-pit mines, and what I would suggest is that to put a freeze on that kind of activity would be absolutely catastrophic for the mining industry in this province. There is a mining policy that drives the decisions as to whether a mine is going to go forward or not in conjunction with the Department of Environment and Labour, which of course does the environmental assessment and, ultimately, if it passes, provides the

[Page 902]

industrial approvals. So we have a philosophical difference in our point of view as it pertains to mining.

Asking my department for their comments, they confirm that they feel that the definition of strip mine, as contained in the NDP bill, would appear to capture all open-pit mines including limestone, marble, gypsum, and other commodities. Staff advise that this bill would immediately shut down the entire mining industry in Cape Breton, including gypsum operations that collectively provide more than 220 direct jobs and, of course, enormous economic benefits to the affected community.

The mineral industry continues to provide stable, high-paying jobs. From exploration to extraction, mining is now a modern, capital-intensive industry that is dependent on sophisticated and automated computerized equipment and highly trained employees. Mining is very important in the Province of Nova Scotia, it's very important in this country. We are a leader in mining in the world, a world leader.

Mr. Speaker, it is very important to support our social safety net that we generate economic activity to create taxes, to keep our hospitals open, to support our public school system and all the other things that we cherish as Nova Scotians. In order to do that, and the way to bring that into the future, is to close the productivity gap that Nova Scotia struggles with, as does the rest of the Atlantic Provinces, and basically become a more affluent part of Canada, and with the taxes that will generate, will be good for supporting all those things that Nova Scotians hold dear.

To be specific there are also spinoffs from the mining. It provides employment, say in the Strait area where we mine gypsum. Mr. Speaker, you may be aware that Nova Scotia produces about 70 per cent of Canada's gypsum. We have a wallboard plant there, value added. What would happen to the wallboard plant in the Strait area if we were, in effect, to put a moratorium on expanding mining gypsum in Cape Breton?

That is clearly a matter that is worthy of debate, but I want to assure the people of Cape Breton that this government stands firm behind all the employees of those various mines and we will continue to support them.

Mr. Speaker, surface mining is not new to Nova Scotia, nor is it confined to Cape Breton - it takes place right across the province. Just a few statistics on the impacts of mining in the province - 5,300 jobs are dependent on mining. That is an enormous employer. A $400 million contribution to the economy and growing, and we hope it grows more. By supporting our mining policy, we believe that will happen. We are spending about $8 million annually - the industry is spending about $8 million annually in exploration for new mineral deposits in Nova Scotia, something that we must encourage. I'm not sure this bill is going to make any prospective investors want to do exploration in Nova Scotia, and that is a concern.

[Page 903]

A wide range of Nova Scotians provide services to the mining industry. We have transportation, manufacturing, construction services, business services, wholesale and retail, financial services, laboratory and testing services, technical services, engineering, heavy equipment sales - I could go on, Mr. Speaker, I could go on for some time. How does the mining industry pay its employees? It pays them, on an average weekly wage, of over $1,000 a week. That's over $50,000 a year. And where are those jobs? They're right across the province, but a lot of them are in rural Nova Scotia where we need that economic development. We have to support that economic development. That's more than 40 per cent higher than the average of all other sectors.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important to bear in mind that this government's mining policy, developed over the years, supports the rural economy. A wide variety of manufactured products are produced right across the province. If we were to implement this bill effectively, we would shut down those mining operations over time, because there would be a freeze on any expansion of the existing ones, and other promising ones that are in the chute would be shut down. This would send a very sinister message to the mining industry, if this House were to consider passing such a bill.

Mr. Speaker, I could go on, but I think that we've made our point. We're very proud of our mining sector in Nova Scotia, we want to be supportive of our mining sector in Nova Scotia. It is an integral part of our economy, and it is part of the solution for the Province of Nova Scotia to be able to continue to support our cherished social safety programs. With that, I will take my seat and look forward to the comments from the Liberal Party.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister - the member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate that introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: I figured you would.

MR. GLAVINE: Certainly, on this bill, we had staked out our position earlier when this was first introduced in the House. Our position is that we would take each application for strip mining in Cape Breton or anywhere across the Island and take a look at the merits of that particular application. To say that we should have no mining, no strip mining whatsoever, on Cape Breton or anywhere else in the province is certainly an unrealistic position. We're not in support of a moratorium for strip mining for Cape Breton.

However, because I look at, for example in the Annapolis Valley, the 80-year history of the gypsum mine in Falmouth. There's no question that they have done a very responsible job in the totality of that mining operation. They've been great corporate citizens. Any time there have been environmental concerns and issues raised regarding

[Page 904]

water issues, dust and so forth, the company has responded very strongly and very favourably, and they have been a tremendous employer.

However, in regard to the strip mine at Point Aconi, we have some major concerns about that particular area, and certainly would like to review for the House some of the developments around the approval to go ahead on Point Aconi. It was on December 2, 2005, the Department of Environment and Labour announced several changes made in the response of the cumulative effects of surface coal mining on the island. In particular, that approvals for surface coal mining applications in Cape Breton Regional Municipality will have a greater emphasis on restoring disturbed land to its former or other productive uses. Nevertheless, on the same day that this new guide to surface coal mining reclamation plans and the surface coal mine action plan were released, in fact it was on December 2nd that Pioneer Coal registered its additional information as an addendum. The Nova Scotia Department of Environment and Labour accepted public comments for the project addendum until December 16, 2005.

Now, with the new action plan and guide to surface coal mining, plans quickly forgotten on December 28, 2005, the Minister of Environment and Labour released his final decision on the project: "The Minister has decided to approve the undertaking in accordance with Section 13(1)b of the Environmental Assessment Regulations, pursuant to Part IV of the Environment Act." Based upon a review of the conceptual design, environmental baseline information, impact predictions and mitigation presented in the registration information and subject to a number of conditions. "The proponent is required to obtain all other necessary approvals, permits or authorizations before commencing work on the undertaking."

So then, on April 4, 2006, the provincial government issued a press release stating that the province is scaling back the size of the lease area for a surface mining project at Point Aconi, while putting 13 other potential surface coal mining projects on hold for three years. Obviously, the minister here was trying to appease everybody in this regard. Once the company received industrial approval from the Department of Environment and Labour it will be able to mine a full area for which it applied, however, that area is only 58 per cent of the block originally tendered by the province. No applications have been made to the Department of Environment and Labour to mine the remaining area. Thirteen other potential lease sites from the former Devco lease will be put on hold then for three years.

News articles of Minister Taylor's private press conference in Sydney on April 4, 2006 report that Pioneer Coal of Antigonish has so far received provincial industrial approval to develop a surface mine in Point Aconi. Mr. Taylor said a proposed site on 288 hectares - and this is where the real problem arises and this is why the member for Victoria-The Lakes has a little bit of difficulty sleeping at night, I hear this from several sources - the site of 288 hectares is mostly wetlands and forest near the defunct underground Prince Mine, and it had been 42 per cent larger before Monday's

[Page 905]

announcement and contains multiple shallow coal pits illegally dug by hand over the years. This is the area that I have been able to participate in a tour and see the site first hand. I know that during the environmental approval process, and I probably should table those documents perhaps at another time but, certainly the Department of Environment and Labour field workers themselves raised a lot of issues around the environmental impacts that the strip mining on Bouladerie at Point Aconi was going to have. In fact, if we take a close look at that document, we will clearly see that they raised issues during the application process, which in fact got pushed aside.

[5:00 p.m.]

On June 13, 2006, 13 out of the area's 14 candidates campaigned against strip mining, including two newly-elected Conservatives. Ignoring the facts and the will of the people and their other elected representatives, on September 13, 2006, the Nova Scotia Government announced that they have issued an industrial approval for Pioneer Coal to strip mine Point Aconi.

One of the most significant environmental concerns around coal mining and aquatic environments is acid mine drainage. Certainly again, if we take a look at the history of aerial photography in this area - and again, that's something that we certainly feel the Department of Environment and Labour neglected to take into account and that was the runoff from some of the older sites of strip mining, and the acid mine drainage that was going right along the coastal area. Certainly, again, a great concern raised for the lobster fishery, in particular, in that area. The influx of untreated acid mine drainage into streams can severely degrade both habitat and water quality, often producing an environment devoid of most aquatic life and unfit for desired uses.

Surface coal mining can affect the transportation network. These effects can be broadly classified as short and long term effects, and short term adverse effects are expected since traffic associated with coal development is likely to place increased demand on local roads and associated infrastructure.

One of the issues, of course, that we feel is not balanced here is the fact that royalties that the province will receive amount to approximately $9 million. So we have made the tradeoff of $9 million on royalties that certainly will impact on the wetlands, on the forests, agriculture, tourism, and certainly a disregard for the citizens who wanted to keep the gem of Boularderie Island in a stronger long- term natural state. I personally think, and the caucus has talked about this, that there will be short and long term implications of this mining operation. So I wanted to bring that up in the context of this bill, the NDP, and the moratorium that they are presenting.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 906]

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak to this. What I think I should probably begin with, though, is talking about some of the things that this bill does not say because that seems to be a lot of topic of discussion so far. It has been said that Acts in general should apply to the entire province. First of all, I'm not at all sure that that is a principle of this House, and there are numerous private Acts as will.

This bill, however, does not purport to apply to the entire province and nor do a great many other bills. The Minister of Natural Resources has said that if the bill applied, then it would shut down open-pit mines all over the province. Well, it doesn't apply to the entire province. It applies to Cape Breton. He has also said that it talks about quarries. Unfortunately, it doesn't. (Interruption) I beg your pardon? Why Cape Breton? Why not Cape Breton? If it did, in fact, speak about quarries - it doesn't. It says, specifically, that it does not include quarries. It doesn't actually ban mining. What it asks for is a moratorium, a three-year moratorium, and in effect this is perhaps tantamount to what has been said by my Liberal colleague, who says that every mine should be dealt with on a specific basis of its own.

The minister has also said that there is a philosophical difference in the province about mining. Perhaps there are some differences about this mine and these mines, but if there is a philosophical difference, I would suggest that it is on the extent and the purpose of consultation and assessments. What the bill does talk about is the need for having an effective assessment process. The fact of the matter is that not only the residents of Cape Breton, but the residents of the province have a stake in this, not just the economic gains but the environmental losses.

There is a phrase that says, when coal was king. Coal isn't king any more, except perhaps on Boularderie Island. We noted today in this House, the 50th anniversary of the Springhill mine disaster. We know that coal is old technology. This proposal is to go back to reclaiming or to expanding on the scarred areas around an old mine. Coal mining has taken place in Nova Scotia , as well as in other parts of the world, for hundreds of years but we are now realizing that greenhouse gas emissions, which are a significant product of the combustion coal, stand to do tremendous damage to all people on this planet, not just to the people of Boularderie Island.

The people of Boularderie Island have certainly got some other concerns, though. They are quite justified in worrying about their groundwater supply. They have tried to make this point over and over again, but the result of it has been that an industrial approval has been granted for seven years to Pioneer Coal to work these mines and extract 1.6 million tons of coal during that time.

Interestingly, though, it seems that almost everything except the coal itself in this enterprise is covered. We hear about private press conferences and that really amazing phrase, an anonymous citizen's liaison committee. How exactly is this kind of liaison

[Page 907]

supposed to take place? Does the committee put bags over its head before it asks a question, what do you think, and this is what is about to happen. Citizens' liaison committees can hardly liaise if they are anonymous. This is an extraordinary violation of all the stated principles of consultation and, one would think, of community development.

Secret communications - there is a massive document out there on how to do consultation. I am afraid sometimes I find myself tempted to say that consultation is not much more than Nova Scotia's most expensive hobby. It takes a tremendous amount of time, energy, and money, and it doesn't always end up bearing fruit. What we hear all the time is, we're listening. We don't always hear, we hear. I can tell that, because frustrated citizens approach all levels of government about the fact - and these are large numbers of frustrated citizens - about the fact that referendums, plebiscites, consultations, have ended up without any result that they would hope for.

We get petitions sometimes, and that is a good qualitative way of doing it. It is not a very fine tool, but we can spend years in consultations. It seems to me that what this bill is asking for, is a really solid and focused report that comes back to the House of Assembly because this is a serious matter. It is not even just a matter of one coal mine, it is not a matter of one strip mine or one island in Cape Breton. It is a matter of, how do we handle the comments, the beliefs, the very health of our citizens nearby and all over the province.

The fact is that we are hearing over and over again that people don't want this to take place. They don't want this old technology, they don't want the groundwater breached, they don't want it contaminated with the mercury that often flows out from peat bogs, they don't want salt water flowing into their wells, they don't want coal burnt either in the United States or here. In fact, we are now apparently engaged in complaining to the United States about their burning some of our coal. We don't want those things because of the impact it has around the world. The consultation is narrow, and it's not heard.

So I would say that when a member of the government suggests to his - oh, I'm sorry.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is very difficult for the Chair to listen to the speaker. I would ask honourable members to take their volume outside, if at all possible. Thank you.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic has the floor.

MS. RAYMOND: Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 908]

When a member of the government has to say - and I feel great empathy for him - that he has to say to his constituents, well you can appeal to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia, that says dreadful things about the way which this government places on environmental concerns. Three seconds or three minutes?

There's an irony, too, in that the Department of Environment and Labour at this point, which has just granted this approval, is the very same body which is about to begin issuing well testing kits. The same body, which says it's important to know what's in your well water, but is offering no way of protecting your well water. There's a tremendous lack of coordination here. There are no doubts whatsoever that acidification of the ground water table presents a tremendous threat to everybody with a domestic well supply. I'm not aware that we are suggesting that central water service be extended throughout Boularderie Island.

So, there's a double assault on the water table. There's the breaching, there's - in fact, I'd say there's a triple assault - there's a breach in the water table, there is a threat to quantity, there is danger to the chemical composition as a result of acidification when the overburden leaches and bleeds into the existing water table, as well as the loss of the natural filtration, which is performed by wetlands and bogs on Boularderie Island as anywhere else. When the water is compromised, it's not just compromised really, really close to the site.

We have a bigger problem here. There's no reason for the people of the province to be overriding - to be asked to overlook the overriding of the pleas to not exploit this old technology, that which was king many years ago, to not further endanger the climate of the province and please, by the way, to leave alone Boularderie Island. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for debate on Bill No. 26 has expired. I recognize the honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, please call Bill No. 59.

Bill No. 59 - Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. For the honourable member, the leader, I just want to figure out what the times are going to be that we're speaking on this bill. I'm sorry to interrupt.

MR. SPEAKER: The Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: We had time set aside, we'll just adjust them all by five minutes, except the final one, the NDP second speaker will have five minutes less.

[Page 909]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: I'm pleased to rise today to participate in the debate on Bill No. 59, which, of course, is the bill I introduced. The essential point of this bill is to remove Sunday from the list of uniform closing days in the Act, in the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.

The reason why this bill is necessary, is because of the actions of the government with respect to retail business closing. I think if there was ever a broad consensus on anything, there was a broad consensus that this was probably one of the most incompetently handled matters in public debate in many, many years. The government vacillated back and forth between every conceivable position, they brought in regulations that were struck down by the court, they couldn't decide whether they wanted to be open or not to be open. Then, they brought - I'll give you an example. I want to give you an example.

[5:15 p.m.]

What they did is, they brought in a set of regulations and, in response to that, police officers had to go out and measure off the various pieces of grocery stores to see whether or not they were in compliance with the regulations they brought in. Those regulations were subsequently struck down and I hear the Premier, still today, refer to those regulations that don't exist and say, well, they want to put police officers back in the grocery stores to measure when those regulations were already struck down, so you don't have to worry about that.

Mr. Speaker, what the ordinary people in this province are worried about is the question of whether or not the holidays that were contained in the Retail Business Closing Day Act were going to be respected by the government. In everything I have ever heard about this debate, not one of the retail stores told me that they wanted to be open on statutory holidays. They recognize that these were times for people to be with their families, that these were times when they would be able to relax, would be able to enjoy some family time, maybe watch a football game, maybe go for a walk in Shubie Park - to do whatever they could do to enjoy their lives.

They are completely distraught that the reaction of the Premier and of the ministers of government was to respond by doing what they did which is to completely misinterpret, and deliberately so, the decision of the Supreme Court and to completely - by the way, my bet is that if anybody challenged the regulations that they've now been brought in because they are completely contrary to the Act - I believe they will be struck down as well. Really, there's nobody with an economic interest out there who wants to do that.

[Page 910]

Mr. Speaker, this is a huge disturbance to the people of the province, but I want to draw one fundamental point to the attention of the members of the House, and indeed to the members of the public and to the members of the press, because there are a number of different ways to approach this, and in fact they have been approached in different ways in different jurisdictions. Manitoba has a Retail Businesses Holiday Closing Act, they set out the holidays that are there. They include New Year's Day, Good Friday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day and they just simply say that no one who owns or operates a retail business in a retail business establishment will admit members of the public therein or sell or offer for sale any goods or services there on a holiday. That's the way they've chosen to deal with it.

I'm not going to go through all of these different Acts. New Brunswick has an Act respecting Sunday shopping and when they enacted that they also enacted specific subsections that dealt with holidays. Quebec has an Act respecting holidays and days of admission to commercial establishments, which is essentially set out in the same way to provide for statutory holidays and Nova Scotia does not do that. So working people in Nova Scotia don't have the benefit of those protections. You know something, there's another group of people who have approached this in a different way. There's a group of people who have the protection of statutory holidays, there's a group of people who are set apart from the rest of the people of Nova Scotia in terms of whether or not they have to work on holidays - do you know who they are, Mr. Speaker? They are us. We are protected against working on statutory holidays.

In the Rules of the House of Assembly, we don't have to work - in fact it's prohibited the House doesn't have to sit. I'll read specifically what the Rules of the House say, "The House shall not meet on New Year's Day, Good Friday, Easter Sunday, Easter Monday, Victoria Day, Canada Day, Labour Day, Thanksgiving Day, Remembrance Day, Christmas Day, Boxing Day." Mr. Speaker, these are the rules for the members of the House of Assembly. If the House of Assembly, the very people who are here to represent the people of the province, are protected against having to work those days, and if it's good enough for us, why isn't it good enough for the people of the province? I don't understand why the government would take it upon itself to set itself above and apart of the people who elected them.

On the days that the Premier and the members of Cabinet will be home with their families relaxing with their feet up in front of the television, when they'll be home enjoying Thanksgiving dinner, when they'll be home - or maybe perhaps not home, but visiting their relations - the people who elected them, the people who made their way to the ballot box to ensure they could sit in this House, will be at work . That's where those people will be, while we have the luxury of being able to spend time with our children. While we have the luxury of being able to visit with our parents, while we have the time to enjoy our friends, while we have the opportunity to relax and engage in recreational activity, the people who elected us will have to work.

[Page 911]

Now that seems to be - and I know I can see the wheels in the Minister of Finance's head going, because there is an exemption that says you can give notice and not have to work on a uniform closing day. Everybody knows that the economic reality is different. The economic reality is that those people are going to have to work.

So if there are protections for the members of the House of Assembly - in fact, we went out of our way to put this in the House of Assembly Act, and I assume for good reason. I assume that we recognize that there is some value in these holidays, that they recognize significant events during the year. I mean we even have protection that says we don't have to work on March Break, Mr. Speaker. That's what's contained in the Rules of the House of Assembly.

So we have provided for lots of protection for the members of the House of Assembly, for the elected members of this Legislature. Surely to goodness we could extend to the people of Nova Scotia the benefit of some legislation that would protect them so that they don't have to work when we're not working. Mr. Speaker, surely that's in the interests of the people of the province. Surely that's good public policy. Surely the Premier can understand that what he did when he brought forward these broad, sweeping regulations that essentially eviscerate the Act, was an over-reaction, and I think an over-reaction to a misunderstanding of what the courts were telling him.

That's the problem, Mr. Speaker, and this goes right back to the very beginning of this issue. We warned the government over and over again that there was a good chance that this legislation and the regulations thereto would not stand before the courts. We asked the government to go forward, and one of the things they could have done was they could have simply framed it as a constitutional question to the court, but they decided not to do that. They decided in a very clumsy way to try to manipulate the regulations in a way that they thought somehow would appease certain groups of people or certain parts of the business community.

They completely misunderstood what the people of Nova Scotia want, and they completely misunderstood what the business community wants. The business community was not asking to change the rules with respect to statutory holidays. They didn't ask to be open on Good Friday, they didn't ask to be open on Thanksgiving Day. They were worried about the fact that they were not being treated fairly in the same way that the other businesses were being treated.

So this is the crux of the argument around this bill. What this bill does is it restores to the people of Nova Scotia the position that they were in prior to the bringing forward of the new set of regulation under the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.

Workers right around Nova Scotia - what we're doing here today is simply expressing to the Premier and the ministers that which we have heard from many, many retail workers around the province. I know over there that there are many members on

[Page 912]

the government benches who know that this is true. They know that people have been coming to them and saying to them, it's simply not right to have taken away these statutory holidays.

So I want to end this evening's debate for my part on this bill with simply this: we have protections under the Rules of the House that provide that the members of this House do not have to work on these statutory holidays. If it's good enough for the members of this House, if it's good enough for those who got elected by the constituents in each one of your individual constituencies, surely it's good enough for them. Surely you can do for them what we've done for ourselves. Surely we can make certain that they do not have to work when we're going to be home relaxing with our families, enjoying time with our kids, visiting our parents, and engaging in recreational activity. Surely we can give them the same benefits. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition and I don't agree on many things, and one of the things that I don't agree with is the premise of his suggestion. The premise of his suggestion was that the members of this House are not working other than when they're sitting in this room. In fact, the most important things that the members of this House do are back home in constituency. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, whether it's March break or any one of the other holidays, the members of this House, at least on this side of the House, spend their time working for their constituents on many days, including Sundays. The implication of the suggestion and the rules is, in fact, those rules are to ensure that members can be back home in their constituency representing their constituency. It's not an assurance that they won't be working on those days.

Mr. Speaker, the problem with the NDP bill is that when you look at the bill, it looks like it's a simple solution to the problem, but the problem is the bill simply underlines the reason why the government chose to do what it did. First of all, what this bill does is perpetuate no protection for anybody from working in the grocery store on a Sunday or any other holiday. The point being is that there is no protection for workers who were previously protected - on the question of the plebiscite. The whole premise of that was that the grocery stores, large grocery stores, would be prevented from being open.

In point of fact, this bill continues the court decision. The court decision ruled that the regulations that prevented the exemption of small retail grocery stores, that exemption was made illegal. Therefore, all grocery stores, by virtue of that decision, are open. They'd be open, by virtue of this bill, every day, including the protected holidays, because that's the effect of the bill.

[Page 913]

Mr. Speaker, then we get into what is really the rub here. What's a grocery store? Does Wal-Mart's grocery section make Wal-Mart a grocery store? In fact, if I sell food in my store, am I a grocery store? The courts have said that basically we can't discriminate between, under the regulatory power.

Mr. Speaker, the point is that this sets Nova Scotians up to be in the constant job of measuring how many square feet of groceries - does selling chocolate bars make you a grocery store? Quite frankly, government is not in a position to send police officers and other enforcement officials around every other store in Nova Scotia to determine whether or not Wal-Mart is a grocery store, or is a small shop that sells some other product not related to food a grocery store. That, in my view - one of my colleagues suggested a flower shop. If the flower shop sells candy bars, is it a grocery store or is it a flower shop?

Again, I'm not making a point other than to suggest it's just a question of - the square footage rule is clearly not possible to use anymore, the grocery store square footage. What we would have to do is be making more regulations. That member has criticized this government extensively - we're accused of constantly tweaking the regulations. Now tweaking the regulations is all right.

The New Democratic Party, in my view, has an inconsistent position on Sunday shopping, saying to one group it's for it, and to some groups that it's against it. Mr. Speaker, what we are for is protecting workers. I will defer the rest of my time to the Minister of Environment and Labour, who can talk about worker protection.

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

HON. MARK PARENT: I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak on this bill, and speak on the bill that I brought in with the unanimous consent of the House, including the members opposite, to protect workers on Sunday and on uniform retail closing days. I wrote a piece that was in The Daily News - I'll table it for the benefit of the member so that he can see, because the bill that was brought in does protect workers from working on Sunday, from working on other uniform retail business closing days. The member opposite knows that. In fact, his bill would not even protect them on Sundays.

[5:30 p.m.]

The bill I brought in, that they supported, protects workers. All they have to do is tell their employer, give them seven days' notice, which is seven days less than in New Brunswick, which is 14 days, that they will not work on that particular day, be it Thanksgiving Day, be it Boxing Day, be it Christmas Day, be it Sunday, and they have that protection there. I don't know why the member opposite refuses to acknowledge that

[Page 914]

they have that protection. In fact, his colleague seated to his left stated on his Web page that Sunday shopping is inevitable, so let's protect workers and move on.

That's what we're doing, Mr. Speaker. We've protected workers with this bill. Seven days' notice is all they need to give. They are protected against any form of discrimination, be it change in hours, be it a change in shift, be it a few hours as a result of invoking this protection, and I would encourage all workers to take and avail themselves of this protection. Workers are protected. He ended his quote by talking about, we're protected under the House Rules. Well, workers are protected. They're protected under Bill No. 45. They're protected from working on uniform closing days and, also, they're protected from working on Sunday, which this honourable member, who said he's speaking on retail workers and on behalf of retail workers - I've heard many retail workers who have said, thank you for the protection, not only we have to not work on uniform business closing days such as Thanksgiving, but we also don't have to work on Sunday, thanks to your bill.

The honourable member knows that this bill is in place, because he helped support it. This bill is a good bill and it supports workers, protects workers, and that's why it was brought in, in order to protect workers in those retail businesses that entered into under condition that they wouldn't have to work on these days, and now this bill protects them. Seven days' notice is all it takes, Mr. Speaker, seven days' notice to their employer that they don't want to work on Christmas Day, they don't want to work on Thanksgiving Day, they don't want to work on Boxing Day, they don't want to work on Sunday.

So I fail to see the honourable member - I fail to see the intent of his bill, because we've already accomplished what the honourable member wants; in fact, much broader than what the honourable member is saying because we've included Sundays in Bill No. 45. It was, as I said, a bill that all the members in this House, all the Parties in this House supported, Mr. Speaker.

This Party and this minister believes very strongly in protecting the most vulnerable service workers, which is why this bill was brought in. It was brought in with the agreement of all the Parties, but it was brought in by the government Party because I believe, and I know our Premier believes, in protecting service workers who are not unionized, who fall under Labour Standards and whom we felt, looking at the court cases, might not have the protection that they had back then.

So we brought in this bill even before the court case in order to provide an extra bulwark of protection for these vulnerable workers. These workers who are making minimum wage, and each of them across the province, from Sydney down to Yarmouth, from Kentville down to Canso, from Halifax down to Springhill, all of them, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, in your riding in Clare, all of them have the right not to work on uniform retail shopping days, including Sunday, simply by invoking this bill.

[Page 915]

So, Mr. Speaker, with that point that we have the protection in place that the op ed stated, that the protection is there for workers and that the honourable member knows that protection is there for workers and he's simply playing games with this. He's not even in this bill, he's not even bothering to extend it to include Sundays, which Bill No. 45 does to protect workers. I take my place.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to take this opportunity to commend the Leader of the NDP for bringing forward Bill No. 59, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act. First of all, I can say I'm a bit fonder of Bill No. 60 than I am of Bill No. 59. Bill No. 60 is a bill which I introduced on Monday night, as well. In fact, it was my understanding that the NDP had scheduled a press conference for Tuesday morning to introduce their bill and, unfortunately, after we clearly indicated we would be doing it on Monday night, they also introduced it. Regardless of that, I think the point is that while our bills use a different approach, their goal at the end is the same.

In fact, while our bill talks about the five statutory holidays in the Labour Standards Code, the NDP has also included the extra two holidays of Thanksgiving and Boxing Day, which were under the original Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act. As the Leader of the NDP has just said, yes we brought forward legislation for the Joe Howe Day so maybe that will be another statutory holiday as well.

Needless to say, in that regard, we have the same intent. Instead, we're going at it from a bit of a different angle, and the one concern we would have is the approach in the NDP bill and especially- the leader would find this ironic if he was listening to his colleague from his colleague from Halifax Chebucto talk about trying to make legislation less confusing and that we're not all lawyers. The fact is, we realize the government made this legislation extremely confusing to start off with, and the regulations made it more confusing. So our only concern is that the NDP bill tries to work around those regulations and everything else and add a bit to the confusion. That would be the only concern, whereas we felt our approach was just to write a new act and try to bring some sort of sanity so the average person would be able to make some sense of it, but the goal is the same.

The leader of the NDP caucus and his caucus knows exactly what we know. We've been inundated with phone calls from Nova Scotians who have said at no time during the Sunday shopping debate, regardless of what your position was, did anyone in Nova Scotia believe that statutory holidays would be part of the mix. The government knows that, and I haven't heard anyone of them yet say that they've heard from Nova Scotians saying, we want to be able to have large box stores and large shops open on statutory holidays. So how did we get here? We know that unfortunately the courts - I shouldn't say unfortunately, but I think it's a bit fortunate for democracy in our province that the courts chastised the government by saying it was unconstitutional for them to

[Page 916]

make the decision in the regulations through Cabinet, outside of this Legislature, trying to amend the Uniform Business Closing Day Act - that's what the court said. More specifically, the judge in that decision said, had this been passed by the Legislature he would respect it, but he said Cabinet went beyond its powers given to them from the Legislature when they tried to bring those regulations in. That was the decision, yet somehow the Premier has decided, I'm going to take that decision to say that we have to have full blown Sunday shopping.

We all know here in this Legislature- and Nova Scotians are also learning more and more- that it was not the case. Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, no one in Nova Scotia throughout this whole issue - and the government can say this party had this position and that party had that position. Knowing how they've been all over the map on this issue, they should not be pointing fingers at anyone on this matter. That's the bottom line and I think they realize that. Yet, when you're in a corner, you tend to try to attack others rather than recognize your own failings on specific issues.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased that the leader of the NDP has brought this bill forward to allow for debate but we all know that on opposition day, the chances of this bill going anywhere, unfortunately under our British system, are nil and based on the comments we've heard from the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Environment and Labour, this bill is not going to go anywhere today - let's be realistic about it.

Mr. Speaker, I was going to limit my comments today because I was afraid only the Minister of Finance would speak and that the member from Kings North would not have been given the opportunity to speak on this bill but let me say - I sat here and I said, what would he say if he was given the chance to speak, knowing how closely he was affiliated to the anti-Sunday shopping lobby in this province? What is he going to tell them now about his government's about-face; for so many months, they were going to stick to the plebiscite. He was more closely associated to that group than any other member of this House, and he used his position and his background to associate himself even closer to them.

Mr. Speaker, I am reminded of his position on Bill No. 68, what we went through with that member when he was in such a dilemma about what to do and, at the end of the day, he toed the government line. Today he was again given an opportunity to tell all the members of his group who wrote so many letters and worked so hard and relied upon him to be their spokesperson - he booked Province House here, he booked the Red Room, he booked their press conferences. I didn't hear him at one time say, as long as you protect workers rights, I am all for Sunday shopping, I am all for shopping on Good Friday, I'm all for shopping on Christmas Day- I didn't hear him say it once. I didn't hear anyone in his organization say it once. Now you're here today as a member of Cabinet - all of a sudden as long as workers right are protected, let her all go.

[Page 917]

Mr. Speaker, there's a word for that, and I think we all know what that word is and I think that member knows what that word is. That word applied to him on Bill No. 68, and it applies to him here again today, and it is he who will have to look at those people in the face and explain his comments here in this House, and how he has suddenly pushed away any sort of policy that he had on that. We know how he mixed his background into this debate, and made it into an issue involving outside elements as well. Yet today, after putting pressure on all members of this House, through his group, all of a sudden today there is the about-face. I was pleased to see that he spoke, but I can tell you - I think anyone in that organization and any Nova Scotian would once again have significant disappointment in that member in particular, for having gone so far out, and yet today stand in this House and chastize the Leader of the NDP and chastize any member of this House. Of all people, on this issue to be chastising - that member. But, Mr. Speaker, I thought Bill No. 68 might have been an anomaly. It was not an anomaly. We see it here again today. He'll have to have that with his own conscience and with his own actions. His voters will judge that and everyone in that organization will judge that as well.

Mr. Speaker, we're not going to call our bill on Opposition Day because we want the government to allow for a full and open debate and a vote on our bill, and I am sure that the NDP would have wanted to do the same, but at least they have forced the discussion to take place, which may have never happened had they not done that. So I do commend them and the fact is, we are lucky because there is a second chance with this bill. So we will hold the bill back, and we will give the opportunity for the Premier to show leadership and to allow Nova Scotians their say. I would guess, Mr. Speaker, without having a crystal ball, that there is polling taking place right now, that Nova Scotians are being asked, do you support having full-blown shopping on statutory holidays? I have a funny feeling that we may have some results coming for Nova Scotians, for this House and for this government very shortly. I believe it will clearly show that Nova Scotians, by and far, never wanted shopping on statutory holidays regardless of what their position was on that issue. The government has a chance to allow full debate and, after the judge chastised them for trying to make decisions in the Cabinet room, what better place than this Parliament, this Legislature, to make those kinds of public policy decisions and at least allow a full debate on it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, our Bill No. 60 will stand. Hopefully, the government will call it. We realize that under our system, only they can call it to have any chance of being passed, but it is still - there is an opportunity for the will of Nova Scotians to be heard on this matter and I do hope the Premier and his government will finally show leadership on that. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I am very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place for a few minutes to speak on this bill.

[Page 918]

You know, I think we probably all had the experience, when Mr. Justice Richards' decision came and the government announced that they were abandoning all attempt at ensuring that there were any uniform retail closing days with the exception of Remembrance Day, of the shock that was experienced throughout our communities,.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there were people who were very happy that Sunday shopping was coming because that's what they wanted and there were people who weren't so happy, especially retail workers and small, independent retail shop owners, and corner store operators and certainly members of many Christian denominations. Also, we have to acknowledge that there were people who probably didn't care at all, one way or another. But the thing that struck me about all of those different points of view was what the Leader of the Liberal Party said, and I completely concur with his remarks. The absolute confusion and the genuine concern that people all across the spectrum, in terms of their viewpoints on this issue felt, when the government made their incredible flip-flop on this very important issue and essentially hid behind Mr. Justice Richards' decision and I think added to the confusion in the public. I wouldn't say wilfully added because that would be impugning motive, which isn't permitted here, Mr. Speaker, but certainly their position added to the confusion and perpetuated the idea that somehow the courts had struck down Sunday shopping in our province. That simply did not occur. That wasn't what happened, but what the courts did, they said the regulations that the Cabinet had passed in response to Sobeys and Superstore opening their boutique-type arrangements was a regulation that exceeded the power of the Cabinet. The proper place for debate around how to deal with uniform retail closings in the Province of Nova Scotia is not behind that secret curtain that the Cabinet so often likes to hide behind. It's here on the floor of the House of Assembly.

[5:45 p.m.]

Yet, this government has continued to fail to bring forward a debate on this important issue here. What I heard people say in terms of characterizing the loss of statutory holidays, in terms of business uniform closing, they called the government's response impetuous, immature, and spiteful. People were very angry in my constituency around the government's reaction to the court decision. They still are very concerned and very angry about the failure of the government to provide for some uniform closing days in the province.

There are people who think that the statutory holidays that are laid out in the Labour Standards Code mean uniform closing days, and they don't. Statutory holidays in the Labour Standards Code are merely about rates of pay and what workers need to do to have time off. They have nothing to do with whether or not retail shops are open. There is still a very strong desire in the constituency that I represent to have some uniform closing days that go beyond Remembrance Day. People in Halifax Needham do not want to see shops opened on Christmas Day. They do not want to see the shops open on Good Friday. They do not want to see the shops open on New Year's Day.

[Page 919]

This is of profound concern to many, many people - not only people who work in the retail sector. I have to say, I'm very disappointed in the Minister of Environment and Labour's response here today with respect to discussing this particular bill. The Minister of Environment and Labour has a responsibility to protect workers in this sector and I would think that what the Minister of Environment and Labour should be doing is advocating with his colleagues for some uniform closing. There would be no greater protection provided to workers in the Province of Nova Scotia than a Minister of Environment and Labour standing in his place in this Chamber and saying, workers in the Province of Nova Scotia will not have to work on New Year's Day, Christmas Day, Good Friday, and they will not have to work on Canada Day.

I think we need to think about family time and the opportunities that people in this sector need to have with their families. The Minister of Finance talked about how members of the Legislature - we put in all of these incredible hours, when we're not working here in the Chamber we're working in our constituencies. We're working in a way that people maybe can't see. You know, in my constituency, people are wonderful. I go to events and they frequently say to me, it's wonderful to see you here, you're at everything in the constituency, we see you everywhere, you work so hard, you care about our community.

But, Mr. Speaker, I have time off. I don't work Christmas Day; I do not work New Year's Day. We have to have time for family members. We should have uniform closing days. Other people in our communities deserve the same rights, the same opportunities for quality time. I think we will have an opportunity to continue to have this debate, as the Leader of the Liberal Party said earlier. This isn't an issue that is done and finished with, because the government decided that they don't want to deal with it anymore. It has been too bothersome for them; it has been too difficult. They can't get their heads around trying to define what a grocery store is.

Mr. Speaker, I rather suspect that there were kids, Grade 9 students, here in our Chamber today who could lend the members a little help in that regard. It's not that complicated to come up with definitions, and to have the debate and the discussion. I think that the government would be quite surprised to learn that there is unanimity in the province - with maybe the exception of a very narrow commercial interest that would like to see enterprise go on 24 hours a day, no family time, no protection for workers. We all know that those kinds of ideas exist out there, in sort of a never-never land of, let's have a complete unregulated - which is often coated in the phrase, red tape, let's not have government red tape, i.e. no regulations, let commercial enterprises do whatever they will to make a buck.

Mr. Speaker, we have to strike a balance here in this Legislature. We have to find the mechanisms that will provide protections for workers, a quality of life in our communities that people not only demand but they deserve, along with doing business in a way that's fair and provides a level playing field.

[Page 920]

Mr. Speaker, no one in this province was anticipating that the end result of the government's ineptitude in dealing with this issue would be the elimination of all uniform closing days in the province, and this is why the Leader of my Party has brought forward this bill here today. We would very much like to see the government show some initiative and enter into a real debate around what days, beyond Remembrance Day, should business be uniformly closed in the province.

Mr. Speaker, with those remarks, I would take my place, but I think I would like to move that we vote on this question.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture. You have approximately one minute.

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, this is a very interesting debate going on today about the NDP's piece of legislation. I know that the NDP put a lot of thought into their bill, and I'm quite certain that the Liberal caucus did as well. I understand they have a bill that's somewhat similar. The Leader of the Liberal Party said that, in fact, he likes his bill better, so it would seem that there must be some differences in the pieces of legislation. On this side of the House, we really like consistency.

I do have to say that I think all members in the House, all honourable members, and all members in this House are honourable, that we do have genuine concerns about the employees. But as well, especially on this side of the House, we also have some time for the employers, the businesses . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time has expired for debate on Bill No. 59.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise to move adjournment of debate for today in the House. I would also suggest to the House that the hours for the House tomorrow be from the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The order of business that the government would plan to call would be Public Bills for Second Reading - resumed debate on Bill No. 22, Bill No. 5, Bill No. 12, and Bill No. 62. I suspect if we finish all of those bills tomorrow in the time allotted, we'll be able to go home at that point, but I suspect that we have more business, then we will be concluding. I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion before the House is for the House to rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit tomorrow between 2:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[Page 921]

The motion is carried.

Order, please.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The adjournment motion this evening was submitted by the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour. The debate tonight will be:

"Therefore be it resolved that all members do their part to ensure Nova Scotians who rely on wells and septic systems are aware they could benefit from a free environmental home assessment."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WELLS/SEPTIC SYSTEMS -

ENVIRONMENTAL HOME ASSESSMENT

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to rise to speak to this program and to speak to the obligation that all the MLAs have with programs like this to inform their constituents of the program and the opportunity to apply for it. The program is called the Environmental Home Assessment Program, and it will benefit about 400,000 Nova Scotians who rely on well and septic systems throughout the province. That's almost half the population of Nova Scotia who rely on wells and septic systems.

So, Mr. Speaker, it's a very, very important program. For those who are on city or town water systems, they often take their water for granted. But for those of us who live in rural areas, who have wells, who have septic systems, we know how important it is and we want to provide, as a government, tools to help people take advantage of this. So I would encourage all the members to make sure that if they need the phone number for the group in their area that's delivering this program, to contact me or my department and we'll provide it for them because it is a very good program.

The program is designed to help protect the health and well-being of Nova Scotia families in the first instance; secondly, to protect the environment from the harmful effect of poorly maintained septic systems; and to encourage homeowners to regularly test their well water, Mr. Speaker. In addition, part of the program is to look at the maintenance of oil tanks because we know that faulty oil tanks not only result in environmental damage to the soil, but can result in environmental damage to the water as well. The program is a program that is free to Nova Scotians. It's roughly about a $2.5 million program that, as I said, will benefit 400,000 Nova Scotians.

[Page 922]

We've all heard horror stories of people who have had faulty oil tanks resulting in expensive cleanups, faulty septic systems resulting in expensive cleanups, or well water that's contaminated. So this program is going to be rolled out over two years. It's going to be rolled out through the cooperation of three environmental non-government agencies - Clean Nova Scotia, the Atlantic Coastal Action Program in Cape Breton, and the Clean Annapolis River Project. We've contracted with these three NGOs, Mr. Speaker, because they have a proven track record of environmental education, and of working with people on environmental issues. They are going to be providing septic system assessments, water quality sampling kits and water saving devices, and also giving information about assessing the security of their oil tank system.

[6:00 p.m.]

These community groups, as I said, are hired by our department to carry out these assessments because of their expertise, because of their closeness to the people that they work with, Mr. Speaker. They have a good track record in this and any expertise that they lack, the department officials will be there to back them up and to help them.

As part of this program we're offering an incentive, a $50 rebate for anyone who pumps their septic system. I know that can cost anywhere from $200 to $300, so it's certainly not going to cover near the amount we'd like to cover, but hopefully it will be some sort of incentive for people to pump their septic systems. We recommend that septic systems be pumped on a three-year basis in order to make sure the septic system is working properly, in order to make sure that they forestall expensive septic repairs - and septic repairs can be very expensive.

As part of this program as well we offer a $3,000 grant to owners who have found, through this Environmental Home Assessment Program, to perhaps have a faulty septic system - a septic system in need of repair, a septic system that may be polluting the environment and also endangering the health of the residents of that home, and perhaps their neighbours as well. So $3,000 is available, a maximum of $3,000 for people who want to take advantage of this program and to repair their septic system or replace it. It will go a great deal of distance - the $3,000 - in terms of repair. In terms of replacement it will be about one- quarter of the cost. Septic systems can cost $10,000, perhaps even more, and I know the honourable member from the Liberal caucus knows far more about the cost of these systems than I do and will probably point out that they're even higher than that, but nonetheless this is what the department is able to provide under this assistance program.

We also are providing eco-friendly products for septic systems and as I pointed out when this program was launched in Hammonds Plains that these eco-friendly products for septic systems really are products that we should be using in all of our homes because, as I said, people on municipal water systems somehow take for granted the treatment of the water, but if we use these eco-friendly products, which we're going

[Page 923]

to be providing under this program, on both home septic systems and on municipal water systems, it will put less of a strain on the environment.

The final part of the program to encourage homeowners to use less water, we're giving some water-saving devices too. If less water is being used, not only does it save energy, but we don't have to worry about the treatment of that water as much because less water is being used. So I think it is a very, very good program - sometimes governments get things done right. I think this is one of them, I think it's a proactive program and I simply want to encourage all of the MLAs from whatever Party to take advantage of this program, to let their citizens know about it.

Hopefully, if the uptake is good and the need is there, we might be able to twist the arm of the Minister of Finance that maybe in two years, if this program has proved to be helpful perhaps it might be worthwhile to continue the program, but that's to be seen in two years time. So I simply want to encourage all MLAs of whatever Party who have residents who depend on septic systems and wells to take advantage of this program, and if they need more information to contact my department or contact me. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you for the opportunity to speak to this. I think this is a bill that nobody could really argue with in that it is essential and incumbent on all of us as members of the Legislature to ensure that our constituents are well aware of and take full advantage of all programs that are offered through the offices of government. Having said that, I will be very pleased indeed to be able to tell some of my many constituents who rely on wells and septic that there is in fact this assessment available.

The only difficulty with this of course, as I believe the minister knows, that it's one thing to know there's a problem but it's unfortunately quite another to be in a position to do anything about it, and of course my concern as the minister again well knows is primarily concerning wells. As we've discussed on various occasions, a number of my constituents are reliant on wells, they live in an area which is considered part of the metropolitan region but is, in effect, rural being encroached on increasingly by urban development with all the disturbances that take place in surface water, ground water, filtration, construction, as well, of course, just increasing air pollution and so on.

These are not the only threats, of course, that take place with increasing urbanization. There is also the increasing concentration of human use, and that is where the business of septic fields comes into play. The more people who are using a given area - in fact, the water cycle is completed, I guess, in essence, in that in septic fields ultimately the water is returning to the ground water at some point.

[Page 924]

We are certainly very glad to be able to offer people the chance to assess the state of their septics because that is one thing that everybody prefers to keep underground and most people have very little idea of the condition of the fields or the tank, as the case may be. The additional incentive to pump out is a very good idea because that's one of the things that contributes to the deterioration of septic fields, is that they are not properly maintained. So the eco-friendly chemicals as well will be very helpful.

There are going to be cases where people's field tank systems need repair. Certainly, $3,000 is a great help but I think one can only imagine just how prohibitive the remaining costs of repair will be - $9,000 and more in many cases. When you think about the fact that there are people in this province, and certainly in my constituency as well, who literally don't have the money to afford to test the water they actually drink so they are not able to intervene at the most direct level to find out the quality of what it is that they are consuming.

The well water in many settled parts and old settled parts of this province is really pretty frightening. Significant levels of E. coli, as well as significant levels of mineral and industrial pollutants which sometimes have built up over many years, from the old practices we had about disposing of things. Somebody referred to it recently, the time-honoured Nova Scotia sport of illegal dumping, and that has affected the wells all around the province, but particularly where there are densely settled areas.

So I am really pleased to know that this is going to bring to the attention of, hopefully, all of those 400,000 to 460,000 Nova Scotians who rely on well water, that it will bring to their attention the need for testing their water and testing their septic, or looking at their septic as part of the same closed system. I can only say that I sincerely hope that there will in future be an opportunity to offer assistance to more low income Nova Scotians with the testing of their water. It is terrifying when you have entire communities that, because they cannot afford to test their well water, may perhaps test it every five, six, ten years, or may alternate, knowing very well that they ought to be testing more frequently, but that they simply cannot afford the cost of getting that done.

So I think that one of the other things I would like to bring up, too, is that this is a very good program in that it will bring to the attention - or I hope will bring to the attention - more of the rules, the basic ground rules concerning maintaining a well, although I hope that we will be able to offer some assistance in actually putting those ground rules into effect. Things like keeping the grass cover around a well, things like ensuring that local wetlands are still providing filtration for the ground water, keeping animals and animal feces well away from the actual well itself, checking well casings and caps regularly.

So to the degree that this is an awareness-raising program, I am very pleased indeed to see it come forward. This is one of those programs, I hope, really will be very well publicized and I certainly look forward to taking my part in publicizing it because

[Page 925]

knowledge is certainly the first step to power. I do hope that having done this, that we will be in a position to give more Nova Scotians the power to actually do something about whatever it is that they do find in the water, if it's anything other than pure and potable. With that, I'll take my seat. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: This is a very important topic to anyone who lives in a rural area. First of all, I want to commend the government for coming forward with a program to do this. It's been an issue and I've had many, many people on low income or very limited income or even working families come forward with a malfunctioning septic system and they simply haven't had the money to repair it.

Unfortunately, or fortunately - whichever way you want to look at it, depending on your circumstance - the Department of Environment and Labour can make you repair them. They really do need to be repaired if they are indeed malfunctioning.

As the minister has already indicated, there is a significant cost to repairing these. The $3,000, again, based on income, is not nearly enough money to do the job. It's not even enough money, in some cases, to do a fraction of the cost of the job. Some of these systems today are really cheap, inexpensive systems, in ideal situations probably as low cost as $6,000. That's a low cost one. A $3,000 grant wouldn't be too bad as long as you could raise the other $3,000 somehow or make some kind of a deal with the installer to give you a break and pay over time or whatever the case may be. These systems go up well over $35,000.

Indeed, usually if it's a malfunctioning system, it's malfunctioning because soil conditions aren't right or because the systems haven't been looked after, the systems haven't been pumped. I'm glad to see they've come across with a $50 credit towards pumping if you do the assessment.

The problem with doing the assessment is, once the assessment is done and the Department of Environment and Labour is aware there's a malfunctioning system, the system has to be fixed. So, it's a catch-22. I have many people in my riding, for instance, who are widows with very limited income and just to get their septic system pumped is a really serious financial burden. As we already indicated, this can be around $250 to $300, maybe a bit more with tax.

Then, if it's assessed and they find out it doesn't work, the $50 they got for the pumping doesn't matter anymore because the system has to be fixed anyway. That won't be good for the next year anyway, so that's gone by the board. Hopefully, you will get the $3,000, hopefully the repair isn't over $3,000, it almost always is over $3,000. It's a real dilemma.

[Page 926]

So, you get your system tested, you find it doesn't work, and then you go for help. So, if you're in a low income bracket, you maybe get $3,000. Hopefully you can be fixed for $3,000, very doubtful. So you're in a real dilemma. Then what happens in some of these old systems that really weren't installed properly years and years ago, they will definitely have to be totally replaced - a new tank, new field. Now with the regulations the department has, which I think are very good regulations for the installation of new systems- I think that was a very positive move when that all transpired - it will mean that people have a major problem.

What do you do? Maybe you have your mortgage paid off on your home, you're a widow or a widower and you're living in your home and just barely getting by - you can't afford to do the maintenance, so, bang, what are you going to do? You either have to sell your home or put a mortgage on your home that you can't pay, so you're in big, big trouble.

I don't know how many people, when they really realize how much this assessment can cost them long term - which I know is not the intent of this program - won't do the environmental assessment because if they do and they figure there's anything wrong, they're nailed. Then they only have 30 to 90 days to get this thing fixed and then try to find someone in 30 to 90 days to get it fixed. If you don't get it fixed, the Department of Environment and Labour can, potentially, remove you from your home. In other words, you won't be able to live in your home anymore.

It does present quite a dilemma. I think the concept is fantastic. I think we have to do more and more to make sure our septic systems are working properly.

[6:15 p.m.]

We have to do more to make sure that well drinking water is safe to drink. I note on the release they have here, the water quality sampling kit - well, I have those in my office, I give away anyway free of charge, because they're free to me. The Department of Environment and Labour has graciously given us a whole bunch of those, which is very positive. I'm sure any MLA who wants them can get them. The problem doesn't go there, then the people have the trouble of getting it transported to where it can be tested, which can be a real financial burden on some individuals who don't have transportation. Then the other problem is when the bill comes back, or the bill in advance of paying this - and some of these tests aren't that expensive, but some are very expensive - if it comes back and there's a problem, then you have to shock your well, which is not expensive, if you're lucky enough to get away with that, or you may have to install an ultraviolet light. Those things don't appear to be covered here. Now I could be wrong, I hope I'm wrong with that. An ultraviolet light is over $1,000 to install it.

It's important that these safety features are put in the wells. Most of the wells that were dug before the new regulations came out, which are very positive, aren't dug to the

[Page 927]

standard. When you look at the standard and see where they should be, it's very obvious why the standards are done the way they were, and they're right, but 90 per cent of the wells, or probably more than that, aren't to the new standard. So surface water can easily get in the wells, and as soon as surface water gets in the wells, 99 per cent of the time you get contamination. Even if there are birds on your lawn or wildlife on your lawn or you have a pet on your lawn, or you fertilize your lawn, it gets in the well. There's very little to resolve that.

To dig a new well, if you dig a new well you're looking at a minimum cost of $4,000, if you're lucky enough to get away with $4,000. I installed a well for myself a few years ago and the cost was something like $2,500, and that didn't include any of my time and there was no markup on materials or anything, but it was that much money. If you get some individual or a family who is working and just surviving, trying to pay the bills and work and get their children educated and all the things that we should be doing as Nova Scotians, it's a big bill.

I think that this program is excellent. I think it has to be improved some more. I think we really have to look at it and look at the real need. Now, some people may need $500 to make a repair to their system, and that's fantastic, and that usually isn't an issue, somehow or other they'll get $500. That's seldom the case. If you have to replace that field, number one, you have to get rid of the material, and you don't just dump that anyplace, because it's contaminated. Then you have to assess the property and see if it can be reused, what you had, hopefully you don't have to go to a really expensive pump system and raised field and all that, if you have the land to do it.

If not, and if you're on a hill, you might be able to go to a sloping sand filter. Those are super expensive, because it means you have to put a pump in and another pump chamber, and all the material like that. A load of sand, for instance, today, proper sand to use in the system is close to $500 for one load. Some of these systems take 30 loads. Then you have to put gravel in it, topsoil, and usually the best way to do it is to sod it, and that's really expensive. Then, never mind the cost of the piping, the cost of the tank, and if you're lucky enough, you don't have to put another tank in for a pump chamber, and then a pump, and the whole system. So it's very, very expensive.

There's one suggestion I'd like to make, one thing that these things don't cover - and these environmentally-friendly septic cleaners, I don't even think they're recommended by the department; they say they're useless, in the courses we've taken on this system. So I think a couple of things the department should look at is paying for filters on washers and outlet filters on septic systems, and that may help resolve a lot of the problems they have there. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: I want to thank all the honourable members for having taken part in tonight's late debate.

[Page 928]

The motion for adjournment has been made.

The House stands adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. Thank you.

[The House rose at 6:20 p.m.]

[Page 929]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 514

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas in 1986 George Fairn began the Valley Drug Mart Health Shuttle and for the past 20 years a team of volunteer drivers have shuttled people to and from Halifax hospitals for much needed medical care; and

Whereas the Valley Drug Mart owners, Sandy Penny, Robert Perry and Kathy Spurell have coordinated at their expense this service which is well used and for many is considered a lifeline as they would have no other means of transportation to receive medical care; and

Whereas Thursday, November 2nd, the Valley Drug Mart will host a ceremony to recognize the tremendous contribution these volunteer drivers have made to strengthen the communities from Kingston to Middleton with their dedication;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge their contribution to the province and thank them for their service to those in need.

RESOLUTION NO. 515

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Economic Development)

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

Whereas in 1981 Handicapped Organization Promoting Equality was formed in Yarmouth with a mandate of reaching out to people with disabilities to determine their needs and concerns; and

Whereas HOPE has continued to deliver and exceed the expectations of its mandate and respond to these needs and concerns in many ways, including the establishment of an accessible dial-a-ride transportation system which now includes three vehicles; and

Whereas Eleanor Cottreau has been HOPE's coordinator since its formation 25 years ago and current president, Bill Crawford, has been a HOPE volunteer for 22 years;

[Page 930]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House in this very important 25th anniversary year recognize and applaud the important service HOPE provides to the community of Yarmouth and the work of the dedicated staff and volunteers, especially coordinator, Eleanor Cottreau, and current president, Bill Crawford.

RESOLUTION NO. 516

By: Hon. Brooke Taylor (Agriculture)

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

Whereas during National 4-H Month eight 4-H members and seven 4-H leaders from Nova Scotia will attend two National 4-H Conferences in Toronto November 1st to November 5th; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia members who won travel awards are: Benjamin Cook of Bridgewater, Lunenburg County; Carolyn MacDonald and Erin Sutherland of Brook Village, Inverness County; Natasha MacDonald of Boulardie, Cape Breton County; Robert Parker of Pictou, Pictou County; Jennie Pick of Rawdon, Hants County; Jillian Robinson of Aylesford, Kings County; and Lindsey Van de Riet of Shubenacadie, Colchester County; and

Whereas Nova Scotia 4-H leaders attending this conference are: Eva Cook and Jackie Groves of Truro; Shirely Giffin of Antigonish; Leslie Harris of Deep Brook, Digby County; Mary MacPhee of Mabou, Inverness County; Sharon Shaw of Paradise, Annapolis County, and Eleanor Tree of Waterville, Kings County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the 4-H members and leaders on this wonderful development experience.

RESOLUTION NO. 517

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 Scotia Public Service Commission is dedicated to building a service that strives for excellence while recruiting Nova Scotians to meet the needs of a modern and innovative public service; and

[Page 931]

Whereas Mrs. Cynthia Northup, better known as Cindy, has served the Department of Transport's Windsor office for a quarter of a century, doing an outstanding job in her administrative role; and

Whereas Mrs. Northup, a resident of Falmouth, was recently recognized by the Province of Nova Scotia for her long-term service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous work ethic and commitment of Mrs. Cindy Northup to Nova Scotia's Public Service and for a job well done.

RESOLUTION NO. 518

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 Scotia Public Service Commission is dedicated to building a service that strives for excellence while recruiting Nova Scotians to meet the needs of a modern and innovative public service; and

Whereas Jeremy Kelland has been employed with the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation and Public Works for the past 25 years; and

Whereas Jeremy works as a Project Engineer, a job he does exceptionally well and while working out of Wolfville, resides in Newport;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous work ethic and commitment of Jeremy Kelland, Project Engineer with the Department of Transportation and Public Works, to Nova Scotia's Public Service.

RESOLUTION NO. 519

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 Scotia Public Service Commission is dedicated to building a service that strives for excellence while recruiting Nova Scotians to meet the needs of a modern and innovative public service; and

[Page 932]

Whereas Graydon Bushell of Three Mile Plains in the constituency of Hants West, recently retired from the Nova Scotia Public Service, a few months before being recognized for his 35 years of faithful public service; and

Whereas Graydon, until his recent retirement, worked as a manager with the Department of Transportation and Public Works, dealing with the acquisition and disposal of real property;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous work ethic and commitment of Graydon Bushell of Three Mile Plains, Hants County, for his 35 years of dedicated public service.

RESOLUTION NO. 520

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 Scotia Public Service Commission is dedicated to building a service that strives for excellence while recruiting Nova Scotians to meet the needs of a modern and innovative public service; and

Whereas John F. Harvey has been employed with the Nova Scotia Department of Justice for the past 25 years and works out of Kentville; and

Whereas John works as a Deputy Sheriff, a job he does exceptionally well and while working in Kentville, resides on the Fuller Road in Hantsport;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the tremendous work ethic and commitment of John F. Harvey, Deputy sheriff, Department of Justice, to Nova Scotia's Public Service.

RESOLUTION NO. 521

By: The Premier

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

Whereas it has always been said that Cape Breton hospitality knows no bounds; and

[Page 933]

Whereas just recently that spirit has reached a family of four who escaped from civil war in Sierra Leone and who had spent the last seven years in a refugee camp; and

Whereas thanks to a sponsorship by the community of Port Hood, led by Hermina VanZutphin, Donald Kalley, his wife and two small children now have an apartment and the essentials in Inverness County, along with a lot of support and hospitality;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank those in Port Hood who extended this international helping hand and wish the Kalley's well as they settle in and adjust to their new home, knowing they will find continued strength and support through their new community.

RESOLUTION NO. 522

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Rosella Bundy and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Rosella Bundy's many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Rosella Bundy for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 523

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Bessie Ross and 10 other senior members; and

[Page 934]

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Bessie Ross' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Bessie Ross for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 524

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Bessie Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Bessie Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Bessie Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 525

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Florence Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

[Page 935]

Whereas Florence Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Florence Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 526

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Helen Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Helen Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Helen Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 527

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Louise Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

[Page 936]

Whereas Louise Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Louise Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 528

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Mable Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Mable Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mable Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 529

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Mary Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

[Page 937]

Whereas Mary Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Mary Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 530

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Spencer Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Spencer Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Spencer Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 531

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Vola Welch and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

[Page 938]

Whereas Vola Welch's many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Vola Welch for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.

RESOLUTION NO. 532

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club will be hosting a recognition dinner in honour of Frank Sparks and 10 other senior members; and

Whereas this event will be held at the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church on Saturday, November 4, 2006, at 5:30 p.m.; and

Whereas Frank Sparks' many years of service and contributions will be recognized by the members of the Lake Loon/Cherry Brook Seniors Club on this special evening;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Frank Sparks for receiving this well-deserved recognition by the Cherry Brook United Baptist Church.