Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 07-4

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Alfie MacLeod

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

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.n s.ca/legislature/HOUSE_BUSINESS/hansard.html

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

____________________________________________________________________ _____________________________

Second Session

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2007

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Union Centre Bridge - Replace, Mr. C. Parker 235
Birchtown: High Speed Internet - Provide, Mr. S. Belliveau 236
TIR: Hwy. No. 103/Crouses Settlement Rd.: Intersection - Change,
Ms. V. Conrad 236
TIR: Hammonds Plains Hwy. - Rezoning, Mr. W. Estabrooks 236
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 254, Giffen, Len/Christmas Tree Coun. (N.S.) - Real Christmas
Trees: Purchasing - Support, The Premier 237
Vote - Affirmative 238
Res. 255, Power, Chris: Public Sector Award - Congrats.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 238
Vote - Affirmative 238
Res. 256, MacDonald, Ron: Fed-Prov. Terr. Humanitarian Award -
Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 238
Vote - Affirmative 239
Res. 257, Nat. Res. - Private Woodland Owners: Importance -
Acknowledge, Hon. D. Morse 239
Vote - Affirmative 240
Res. 258, Economy (N.S.) - Lobster Fishermen: Contribution -
Recognize, Hon. R. Chisholm 240
Vote - Affirmative 241
Vote - Affirmative
Res. 259, Dalhousie Univ.: Int'l. Workplace Choice - Congrats.,
Hon. K. Casey 241
Vote - Affirmative 241
Res. 260, Kaney Scotty: Death of - Tribute, Hon. B. Taylor 242
Vote - Affirmative 242
Res. 261, Health Prom. & Protection - Falls Prevention: Work -
Recognize, Hon. B. Barnet 242
Vote - Affirmative 243
Res. 262, EMO - Partners: Contribution - Acknowledge,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 243
Vote - Affirmative 244
Res. 263, Cumberland Reg. Library - Reopening: Staff/Vols./Donors -
Acknowledge, Hon. K. Casey 244
Vote - Affirmative 244
Res. 264, Com. Serv. ICM Team: Work - Commend,
Hon. J. Streatch 245
Vote - Affirmative 245
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 24, Dental Hygienists Act, Hon. C. d'Entremont 246
No. 25, Buy Locally Act, Mr. J. MacDonell 246
No. 26, Environment Act, Mr. K. Colwell 246
No. 27, Hospitals Act, Hon. C. d'Entremont 246
No. 28, Atlantic Gateway Secretariat Act, Mr. D. Dexter 246
No. 29, House of Assembly Act, Mr. L. Preyra 246
No. 30, Palliative Care Act, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 246
No. 31, Medical Act, Hon. C. d'Entremont 246
No. 32, Environment Act, Mr. K. Colwell 246
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 265, Halifax Rainmen - Nova Scotia: Welcome - Extend,
Mr. D. Dexter 247
Vote - Affirmative 248
Res. 266, Diabetes Awareness Mo. (11/07) - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 248
Vote - Affirmative 248
Res. 267, TIR - Victoria & Cape Breton Counties: Employees - Work
Applaud, Mr. K. Bain 249
Vote - Affirmative 250
Res. 268, Pictou Lobster Carnival: Vols. - Commend, Mr. C. Parker 250
Vote - Affirmative 251
Res. 269, Lake Echo Lions Club: Senior's Christmas Dinner -
Anniv. (25th), Mr. K. Colwell 251
Vote - Affirmative 251
Res. 270, Aucoin, Sheila: Generation B Campaign Finalist - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 251
Vote - Affirmative 252
Res. 271, Nurses/Health Care Professionals - Trust: Needs -
Recognize, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 252
Vote - Affirmative 253
Res. 272, Coll. of Registered Nurses (N.S.): Excellence Award -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 253
Vote - Affirmative 254
Res. 273, Kenrick, Paul: Public Serv. (35 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Porter 254
Vote - Affirmative 254
Res. 274, Cole Ford Row for Charity: Fundraising Efforts - Commend,
Ms. V. Conrad 255
Vote - Affirmative 255
Res. 275, Lung Cancer Awareness Mo. (11/07) - Recognize,
Ms. D. Whalen 255
Vote - Affirmative 256
Res. 276, Ross Ferry Crafters: Bear Proj. - Applaud, Mr. K. Bain 256
Vote - Affirmative 257
Res. 277, Fish. - LFA34/Fishers: Safety Concerns - Congrats.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 257
Vote - Affirmative 258
Res. 278, Prem./Gov't. N.S. - Health Care: Problems - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 258
Res. 279, Higgins, Stephanie: Int'l. Student Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. P. Dunn 258
Vote - Affirmative 259
Res. 280, Pictou Co. Seniors Fest.: Vols./Staff - Commend,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 259
Vote - Affirmative 260
Res. 281, Bonang, Dr. Lisa: N.S. Fam. Physician of Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 260
Vote - Affirmative 261
Res. 282, Bryan, Coach Jim/Avon View Avalanche Girls Rugby Team:
Prov. Title - Congrats., Mr. C. Porter 261
Vote - Affirmative 262
Res. 283, Prem./Health Min. - Health Human Resources: Digby -
Provide, Mr. H. Theriault 262
Res. 284, Fitzgerald, Amber: Canada World Youth Africa-Canada
Eco-Leadership Exchange Prog. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 262
Vote - Affirmative 263
Res. 285, CPR Awareness Mo. (11/07) - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 263
Vote - Affirmative 264
Res. 286, Jacquard, Ms. Jackie: Scouting Medal - Congrats.,
Hon. C. D'Entremont 264
Vote - Affirmative 264
Res. 287, Paris, Foster: N.S. Serv. - Thank, Hon. J. Muir 265
Vote Affirmative 265
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Joseph Howe Bldg.: Renovation Costs - Report Table,
Mr. D. Dexter 265
No. 2, Health: Fam. Pharmacare Program - Costs,
Mr. S. McNeil 267
No. 3, Joseph Howe Bldg.: Lease-Purchase Agreement - Justification,
Mr. D. Dexter 268
No. 4, Fin.: Public Schools: Public Sector Ownership - Retain,
Mr. G. Steele 269
No. 5, Prem.: Pharmacare Program - Up Front Costs,
Mr. S. McNeil 270
No. 6, Health: Rural ERs - Problem Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 272
No. 7, Health: Physician Recruitment - Statistics,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 272
No. 8, Health - Hyde Case: Treatment - Explain,
Ms. J. Massey 273
No. 9, Health - ER Closures: Increase - Stop,
Mr. S. McNeil 274
No. 10, Justice: Tasers - Governance Standards,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 275
No. 11, Health: Palliative Care Prog. - Status,
Mr. S. McNeil 276
No. 12, Econ. Dev. - Shelburne Co.: Revitalization - Plans,
Mr. S. Belliveau 277
No. 13, Com. Serv. - Poverty Consultation: Participation - Open,
Mr. T. Zinck 279
No. 14, Health - Wait Times Reduction: Plan - Info,
Mr. S. McNeil 280
No. 15, Econ. Dev. - Canso Fish Processing: Min. Support - Details,
Mr. C. MacKinnon 281
No 16, Nat. Res.: Forestry Transition Prog. - Funding,
Mr. C. Parker 282
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 13, Probate Act, Hon. C. Clarke 284
Mr. W. Estabrooks 285
Mr. M. Samson 285
Hon. C. Clarke 287
Vote - Affirmative 287
Bill No. 7, Motor Vehicle Act, Hon. M. Scott 287
Ms. V. Conrad 292
Mr. M. Samson 294
Mr. D. Dexter 306
Mr. L. Glavine 311
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Com. Serv. - Social Assistance: Personal Allowance - Increase,
Mr. T. Zinck 315
Hon. J. Streatch 318
Mr. Manning MacDonald 320
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
Bill No. 7, Motor Vehicle Act [Debate resumed] 324
Mr. L. Glavine 324
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 325
Ms. D. Whalen 329
Mr. L. Preyra 336
Mr. W. Gaudet 338
Mr. J. MacDonell 343
Adjourned debate 344
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Nov. 28th, at 2:00 p.m. 344
NOTICE OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 288, Marshall, Allister - Agric. Industry: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 345
Res. 289, Degiano, Cheryl: Gov't Serv. (30 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 345
Res. 290, McClare, Edwin: Gov't. Serv (25 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 346
Res. 291, Deagle, Faye: Gov't Serv. (30 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 346
Res. 292, Collier, Joan: Gov't. Serv. (35 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 347
Res. 293, Kaizer, Joan: Gov't. Serv. (25 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 347
Res. 294, Schwartz, John: Gov't. Serv. (25 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Streatch 348
Res. 295, Hirtle, Brian: Commun. Serv. - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 348^
Res. 296, Rosenbug, Brandon - RCL Track & Field
Championships: Medals - Congrats., Mr. David Wilson
(Sackville-Cobequid) 349
Res. 297, Hattie, Brenda - Yarmouth Lions Club Citizen of Yr.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 349
Res. 298, Yarmouth Civil Air Search & Rescue Assoc.: Rescue
Excellence Award - Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 350
Res. 299, Crowell, Lynne: Country Music Hall of Fame - Induction,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 350
Res. 300, Rankin, Sheila: Health Care Award - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 351
Res. 301, Brophy, Tracy - Prospect Rd. Safety: Efforts - Commend,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 351
Res. 302, Deinstadt, Rebecca: Angel Hair for Kids Prog. - Donation,
Mr. S. Belliveau 352
Res. 303, Gov't. N.S.: Health Care Problems - Cumb. Co.,
Mr. M. Samson 352
Res. 304, Constituency Assistants - Salute/Thank,
The Premier 353
Res. 305, O'Brien, Lois: Doncaster Award - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 353
Res. 306, Blake, Rob: N.S. Skills Comp. - Silver Medal,
Hon. M. Scott 354
Res. 307, Sanderman, Doug: Westchester FD Serv. (15 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 354
Res. 308, Allen, Jeremy: N.S. Skills Comp. - Gold Medal,
Hon. M. Scott 355
Res. 309, Balser, Kylee: Remembrance Day Proj. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 355
Res. 310, Barton, Brittany: KOC Championships - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 356
Res. 311, Boss, Dylan: Remembrance Day Proj. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 356
Res. 312, Bowes, James: Lt.-Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 357
Res. 313, Briggs, Lawrence: Oxford FD Serv. (20 yrs.) - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 357
Res. 314, Brown, Sharon: Doncaster Award - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 358
Hon. M. Scott
Res. 315, Callison, Savanna Faith: Lt.-Gov.'s Award - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Scott 358
Res. 316, CAN-U Prog.: Graduates - Congrats., Hon. M. Scott 359
Res. 317, Inverness Revels Girls Soccer Team NSSAF Championship -
Congrats., The Premier 359
Res. 318, McAuley, Jonathan: Heroic Actions - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 360
Res. 319, Deinstadt, Rebecca: Angel Hair for Kids Prog. - Donation,
Mr. S. Belliveau 360
Res. 320, Barkhouse, Joyce: Order of Nova Scotia - Congrats.,
Ms. V. Conrad 361
Res. 321, Forrestall, Tom: Order of Nova Scotia - Congrats., 361
Res. 322, Benda, Marek: C.B. Screaming Eagles Scholastic Player of Mo.
(10/07) - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 362
Res. 323, Clinkard, Anne & Ray/Sea Gulps Coffee Co.: Best Local
Coffeehouse - Congrats., Ms. B. Kent 362
Res. 324, Youth & Commun. Partnership Against Crime: Efforts -
Support, Mr. B. Kent 363
Res. 325, Gayton, Shawn: Clam Hbr. Sandcastle Building Contest -
Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 364
Res. 326, Boyle, Emma/MacDonald, Amie: Science Fair - Honourable
Mentions, Ms. J. Massey 364
Res. 327, Masters, Michelle/Zahra, Bobbi/Godwin, Matt: Holocaust
Remembrance - Congrats., Mr. L. Preyra 365
Res. 328, TCH: East. Shore Tourism Operators/Stakeholders - Work
With, Ms. M. Raymond 365
Res. 329, Sportwheels - Anniv. (60th) 366
Res. 330, Alice Housing: Donner Fdn. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Zinck 366
Res. 331, Fish.: Dietary Importance - Benefits 367
Res. 332, Addiction Awareness: MLAs - Promote,
Mr. W. Gaudet 367
Res. 333, Prem./Gov't. (N.S.): ER Closures - Problem Remedy,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 368
Res. 334, Health: Wait Times Reduction Strategy - Implement,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 368
Res. 335, Huntington Disease Awareness Mo. (11/07) - Recognize,
Mr. K. Colwell 369

[Page 235]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 27, 2007

Sixtieth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The draw for the late debate tonight has taken place and it was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova:

Therefore be it resolved that this government show respect for those unfortunate enough to live in poverty on social assistance in this province by increasing their personal allowances by more than the meagre $4 per month they received effective October of this year.

This will be debated this evening at 6:00 p.m.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a petition I would like to present on behalf of the residents of the Middle River valley in Pictou County. The operative clause is:

"Whereas the route 289 highway is the main traffic link for the residents of the Middle River valley; and

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235

Whereas the bridge crossing the Middle River at Union Center is in poor condition; and

Whereas the said bridge is restricted in weight which negatively impacts its use by loaded trucks thereby affecting the conduct of business;

Therefore we the undersigned request the government of the province of Nova Scotia to replace the bridge on route 289 at Union Center, N.S. as soon as possible."

It is signed by 312 residents of the area and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Birchtown, Nova Scotia. The operative clause is:

"We the undersigned, residents of Birchtown, are frustrated with the lack of high speed internet [sic] access. We feel it is time we have this service made available to us so we no longer have to depend on the unreliability of dial up."

There are 100-plus names, and I have affixed my signature to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition of 32 signatures, and my signature is attached. The operative clause is:

"We, the undersigned, would like to indicate to the Department of Transportation that a very dangerous intersection exists where the Crouses Settlement Road meets the 103 Highway in Italy Cross. We would like to request that the 103 Highway be changed so that it could cross the Crouses Settlement Road at a different location other than at the bottom of the hill where it now intersects."

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 237]

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of 35 residents in the Stillwater Lake-Hammonds Plains area. The operative clause is that we are in favour of re-zoning the Hammonds Plains highway to allow home-based businesses on this section of the highway.

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier

RESOLUTION NO. 254

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 many of our traditional resource industries are challenged because of the strong Canadian dollar - like the Christmas tree growers who are in the midst of their busiest weeks of sales here and around the world; and

Whereas as a government we are looking to our counterparts, provincially and federally, to help search for solutions to deal with the impact of the dollar's strength on our exporters; and

Whereas regardless of the difficulties, including a decrease of exports to the U.S., the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia says local prices for their quality product will not increase;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join Len Giffen, executive director of the Christmas Tree Council of Nova Scotia, in asking Nova Scotians to make a special effort to buy real Christmas trees produced in the province and show our support for our hard-working growers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 238]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 255

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 Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100 list by Women's Executive Network recognizes leadership and achievements of women in the Canadian workplace; and

Whereas Chris Power, president and CEO of the Capital Health District Authority, was honoured with the Public Sector Award given to women who occupy the most senior positions in the field and manage significant operating budgets; and

Whereas Ms. Power was one of only twelve women recognized under this category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Ms. Power on this well-deserved award, and thank her for her dedication and commitment to health care 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 Minister of Justice.

[Page 239]

RESOLUTION NO. 256

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

Whereas Ron MacDonald, Q.C., a senior Crown counsel of the Nova Scotia Public Prosecution Service, has distinguished himself as a prosecutor, legal educator and volunteer, both within his community and within his profession; and

Whereas the federal-provincial-territorial heads of prosecutions have recently awarded Mr. MacDonald with that organization's 2007 Humanitarian Award; and

Whereas this prestigious national award honours and celebrates professional excellence and exemplary service both within the work environment and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. MacDonald on his achievements and on the recognition he has brought to himself and to 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.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 257

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

Whereas woodlots, small and large, make substantial contributions to Nova Scotia's economy, its rural and urban communities, and its environmental values; and

[Page 240]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year Award recognizes and rewards residents who own between 50 and 2,000 acres and who practice outstanding stewardship and sustainable management of their woodlot; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources will be accepting nominations from across the province for this year's award until March 31st;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the importance of private woodland owners to the present and future of Nova Scotia, and encourage the nomination of deserving woodland owners for the 2008 Woodlot Owner of the Year 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 Fisheries and Aquaculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 258

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

Whereas the last Monday in November is "dumping day" as it is called, marking the beginning of the lobster fishery in southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas lobster fishery areas 33 and 34 represent the largest inshore fishery in Canada, supporting 1,700 licence holders, crews and families, and making this lobster fishery significant to the local economy; and

Whereas the conditions of the sea in late Fall and winter can be extreme in our part of the world, resulting in difficult working conditions on any given day for our fishermen, as seen by the delay of the start of the season for some fishermen in the Yarmouth area;

[Page 241]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize the contributions our lobster fishery makes to the economy of Nova Scotia and wish them a safe and successful fishing season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. KAREN CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. If I could, I would like to do an introduction before the resolution. I would like to draw people's attention to the group of students who are behind me in the gallery, a group of students from Dartmouth High School who are here to get a tour of the Legislature and to watch proceedings. I'd like all of us to join in welcoming them to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 259

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

Whereas each year the highly respected The Scientist Magazine seeks to identify the best place for scientists to work by ranking universities around the world; and

Whereas 83 universities were nominated and 8,000 scientists were polled by The Scientist Magazine; and

Whereas a Nova Scotia university, Dalhousie University, was selected by this worldwide group of scientists;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Dalhousie University for being chosen the best international place to work in academia.

[Page 242]

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.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 260

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

Whereas Scott Kane, known as Scotty to many, dedicated a large portion of his life to the Nova Scotia harness racing industry as an announcer, horse owner, industry promoter and writer for more than 50 years; and

Whereas Scotty's gifted voice and love of the sport of harness racing led him to a career as a longtime announcer at Sackville Downs and the Truro Raceway; and

Whereas Mr. Kane recently passed away at the age of 66 after a lengthy illness;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize Scotty for his lifetime contribution to the sport of harness racing and express condolences to his wife Judy, his five daughters and their families.

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 243]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

RESOLUTION NO. 261

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

Whereas falls among older Nova Scotians are one of the leading causes of injury in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas falls among seniors cost Nova Scotians $72 million per year and implementing falls prevention strategies and initiatives in our community will ensure the sustainability of our provincial health care system; and

Whereas preventing falls is a priority of the province's injury prevention strategy, as well as among the Department of Health Promotion and Protection, Seniors and Health and the Community Links Preventing Falls Together program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of the work being done by the various groups and individuals to prevent falls by seniors as November 22nd was Seniors' Falls Prevention Day.

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. 262

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

[Page 244]

Whereas the Emergency Management Office of Nova Scotia held its first public open house on October 30th; and

Whereas many of our emergency management partners provided command and response vehicles to help educate the public about our roles and duties in an emergency; and

Whereas those agencies included the Canadian Military, the RCMP, the Halifax Regional Police and Fire Services, Emergency Health Services, Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, Nova Scotia Ground Search and Rescue Association and the Office of the Medical Examiner;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the contribution made by each of these agencies to the success of their public education initiative.

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. 263

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

Whereas in March 2007 a devastating fire severely damaged the basement and main floor of the Springhill Public Library, resulting in the branch closure for repairs; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College and the Dr. Carson and Marion Murray Community Centre helped out with drop-off and collection services, ensuring that Springhill residents still had access to their library materials after the fire; and

Whereas after seven months of hard work by library staff, volunteers and donors, the Springhill Public Library has reopened and continues to serve the community;

[Page 245]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the combined efforts of everyone involved in the reopening of the library, and offer our congratulations and best wishes to the Cumberland Regional Library staff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 264

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

Whereas the needs of the Department of Community Services' clients are the first and foremost priority of the department; and

Whereas Department of Community Services staff launched a complex Integrated Case Management initiative in February and continue to adapt for the betterment of our clients; and

Whereas our ICM team was awarded a gold medal at a national Information Technology and Integrated Management Awards ceremony in October;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the hard work case management staff do every day to help Nova Scotians achieve their full potential and congratulate ICM staff specifically for an initiative not only appreciated by the Department of Community Services, but recognized countrywide for its innovation in improving service delivery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 246]

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 may do an introduction before I introduce a bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the individuals to rise to receive the warm welcome of the House. The Nova Scotia Dental Hygienists Association: President Karen Wolf; the Chairman of the Legislative Committee, Sue MacIntosh; some of the other legislative committee members are Patricia Grant, I believe that is Dianne Chalmers, Terry Mitchell, as well as Marjorie Hickey who is legal counsel for the association. As well, Dennis Holland, who is sitting out back there, I know he has been working very hard from our department as well on this bill. So I would ask the House to recognize these very dedicated individuals. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 24 - Entitled an Act Respecting Dental Hygienists. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 25 - Entitled an Act to Require the Government of Nova Scotia to Purchase Agricultural Products from Producers in Nova Scotia. (Mr. John MacDonell)

Bill No. 26 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act, to Prohibit the Burning of Tires in Nova Scotia. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

Bill No. 27 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 208 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Hospitals Act. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 28 - Entitled an Act Respecting a Secretariat to Promote Nova Scotia as the Atlantic Gateway. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 (1992 Supplement) of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The House of Assembly Act. (Mr. Leonard Preyra)

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Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Require the Minister of Health to Establish a Comprehensive Province-wide Palliative Care Program. (Mr. David Wilson, Glace Bay)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1995-96. The Medical Act. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 32 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act, to Prohibit Levies, Taxes, Fees or Additional Charges on Recyclable Items. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

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

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to do some introductions before I read my resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, and members of the House of Assembly, joining us today in the gallery are members of the Halifax Rainmen. I'm just going to read their names so that you can recognize them: Andre Livingstone, who is the team owner and CEO; Rick Lewis, the Rainmen's head coach; Shannon Hansen, the assistant coach; Peter Benoite, the team captain; Blandon Fergusson; Eric Crookshank; Brian Silverhorn; Derico Wiggington- Downey, who is from North Preston and I might add was a star at Prince Andrew last year; Chad Eichelburger; James Booyer; Jermaine Anderson; Kadiri Richard; Hardy Riley; Devino Williams; and Jad Crnogorac - have I got that right? Please give them the welcome of the House. (Applause)

[2:30 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 265

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is and has been home to many top-caliber sporting teams over the past number of years; and

[Page 248]

Whereas the Halifax Rainmen have already weaved themselves into Halifax Regional Municipality through their community events and partnership, giving back to their fans; and

Whereas in this their inaugural season, the Rainmen are proving that each time they step onto the court they give 100 per cent to make Nova Scotians proud and are working hard to become positive role models for their fans young and young-at-heart;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly welcome the Halifax Rainmen to Nova Scotia, and wish them every success on the court and in our community for many years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 266

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 disease;

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

[Page 249]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the House for giving me just a moment to introduce in the Speaker's Gallery very special guests. As we all know, we all have our constituency assistants who do, I know, a fine job on behalf of us all. We have a number of constituency assistants from this side of the House joining us here today.

I would ask them to rise as I call their name: Dianne Timmins, Victoria-The Lakes; Dale Keddy, Lunenburg; Madeline Rhodenizer, Lunenburg West; Bonnie Campbell, Colchester North; Barb Dobson, Guysborough-Sheet Harbour; Corinna MacAskill, Cape Breton North; Therese Boucher, Argyle; Valerie Shears, Eastern Shore; Joanne Williams, Eastern Shore; Jennifer Wadden, Pictou Centre; Margaret Embree, Bedford; Quentin Hill, Bedford; Willanna MacDonald, Inverness - I might say that again, Mr. Speaker, Willanna MacDonald, Inverness (Laughter) She is extra important here today - Janice Proctor, Antigonish; Jean Wadden, Cape Breton West; Judy Kelley, Kings South; June Mooy, Kings South; Sandra Falkner, Truro-Bible Hill; Joanne Bond, Kings North; Karen Barclay, Cumberland South; Andrew Keddy, Chester-St. Margaret's; and Anne Dillman of the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. KEITH BAIN: Mr. Speaker, if I might, I would like to add one more name to those introductions that the Premier has given.

MR. SPEAKER: Please.

MR. BAIN: I would like to welcome Wayne MacDonald, the CA for the honourable minister. (Applause)

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

[Page 250]

RESOLUTION NO. 267

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

Whereas heavy and torrential rain inflicted heavy damage on roads throughout Cape Breton on the first day of September going into the Labour Day weekend; and

Whereas the rain resulted in numerous washouts of roads in Victoria-The Lakes, leaving some impassable; and

Whereas crews of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal were quickly on the scene of these devastated roads and through hard work, soon had them passable once again;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the brilliant work of the employees of the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in both Victoria and Cape Breton Counties for their dedication and determination in ensuring the safety of the motoring public and the residents of the area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 268

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

Whereas the annual Pictou Lobster Carnival, hosted each July, has recently been selected as one of this year's Local Secret - Big Find for 2007 in Atlantic Canada by Travelocity.ca; and

[Page 251]

Whereas thousands of folks travel to Pictou every year to enjoy the Lobster Carnival's music, boat races, lobster dinners, antique car show, Mardi Gras parade and many other family activities; and

Whereas a new slate of officers was recently elected to prepare for the 2008 annual Lobster Carnival consisting of Chair Anne Emmett, Vice-Chair Robin Dalton, Secretary Tammy Nichol, Treasurer Jennifer Buchanan, and Executive Officer Kent Corbett;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend all the volunteers for their hard work and dedication, helping to make the Pictou Lobster Carnival an increasing draw for tourists and locals alike and wish the Pictou Lobster Carnival continued success for years to come.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 269

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

Whereas the Lake Echo Lions Club is holding its 25th Annual Seniors' Christmas Dinner on Saturday, December 1st at the Lake Echo Community Centre; and

Whereas over 200 seniors will attend this popular event and seniors who are shut in will have their dinners delivered to their door; and

Whereas the Lake Echo Lions Club provides this dinner at no cost to the seniors and provides transportation to those who need it;

[Page 252]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize the Lake Echo Lions Club for providing local seniors with this special Christmas celebration for the past 25 years and congratulate them on continuing this important tradition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 270

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

Whereas young New Glasgow native Sheila Aucoin is a busy third-year student at Acadia University; and

Whereas Aucoin was chosen as one of the 61 finalists to the second annual Generation B campaign, sponsored by clothing outlet Bootlegger's, highlighting the achievements of the outstanding youth in Canada; and

Whereas the 20-year-old has been responsible for organizing the Terry Fox run at Acadia University, charity work for the Heart and Stroke Foundation, as examples respectively at both the university and in her home town;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sheila Aucoin on her achievement and her enthusiasm for the communities she is part of and for being chosen as a representative of outstanding Canadian youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 253]

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 271

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

Whereas each year polling is conducted in Canada on the most trusted professions; and

Whereas for the past several years nurses have ranked number two, after firefighters, as the most trusted professionals in our country; and

Whereas each and every day we entrust nurses with the care of ourselves and the people whom we love;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize that trust needs to be demonstrated in actions and not just words for our nurses and other health care professionals 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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 272

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

Whereas since 1984 the National Quality Institute's Canada Awards for Excellence have been presented annually to private and public sector organizations with outstanding achievement in the areas of quality, customer service, and a healthy workplace; and

Whereas one of this year's recipients is the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia was presented with this honour at the 2007 Performance Excellence Summit Awards Dinner on October 24th at the Metro Toronto Convention Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia on being recognized for their vast achievements and wish the organization future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants West.

RESOLUTION NO. 273

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 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 Paul M. Kenrick of Windsor recently retired from the Nova Scotia Public Service, shortly before being recognized for his 35 years of faithful, dedicated service; and

[Page 255]

Whereas Paul, until his recent retirement, worked as a Conservation Officer with the Department of Natural Resources;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature applaud the tremendous work ethic and commitment of Paul Kenrick of Windsor for his 35 years of dedicated public service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens on an introduction.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to draw the attention of the House to the east gallery. With us today is Anne Cunningham, with South Shore Health. Anne is a dedicated health care worker and, as well, Anne is President of CUPE Local 1933. If Anne could rise - I can't see her, I'm a little short on this side - please give Anne a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 274

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

Whereas Queens County Sea Fest incorporates into its fun days in August a very successful fundraiser, The Cole Ford Row for Charity, which raised over $4,500 for charities in Queens County; and

Whereas nine eager and able teams participated in the Cole Row for Charity event, which also incorporated participants selling tickets on a door prize; and

[Page 256]

Whereas Cole Ford donated the money raised from these ticket sales to the Queens General Hospital Foundation, along with Exit Realty donating to the Hospital Hustle and Pharmasave donating to the Queens Fitness Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Cole Ford of Queens County and fellow competitors for participating in the Cole Ford Row for Charity in Queens County, and commend them on their fundraising efforts.

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. 275

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

Whereas each November is recognized as Lung Cancer Awareness Month; and

Whereas Lung Cancer Canada is an organization whose aim is to increase awareness about lung cancer in Canada and provide support and educational resources to patients, their loved ones, and health care professionals; and

Whereas throughout November, the organization undertakes a campaign to provide information and materials to hospitals and treatment centres throughout the country;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize November as Lung Cancer Awareness Month, acknowledge the tremendous efforts to create awareness of this disease and commend those who fight to eliminate this form of cancer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 257]

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 276

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

Whereas the Ross Ferry Crafters, through local emergency responders and health care providers, will bring a smile to the faces of children in time of need; and

Whereas the Ross Ferry Crafters spent numerous hours this past summer creating handcrafted bears which will be supplied to children in times of need; and

Whereas these bears will be given to children victimized by fires or disaster, or who are ill and simply need a hug and much-needed support;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly recognize the heartwarming project undertaken by the Ross Ferry Crafters, applaud them for their tireless efforts while recognizing even the smallest bear can make the biggest difference in a time of need.

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 258]

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 277

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

Whereas the lobster industry opening in Districts 33 and 34 in South West Nova officially started on November 26th; and

Whereas as usual the opening of District 33 from Sambro to Baccaro Point officially started at 7:00 a.m. on November 26th, and in a rare case the District 34 advisory committee recommended to DFO to postpone their opening because of weather conditions and safety concerns; and

Whereas the lobster industry is the economic engine in many coastal communities in southwestern Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the representatives of LFA 34 and fishers from Baccaro to Digby, along with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans who chose to put safety first, and further request members of the House recognize the value of this industry and congratulate the lobster industry on putting safety first.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 278

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

Whereas the status of health care in Nova Scotia should be listed as critical; and

[Page 259]

Whereas Nova Scotians depend on emergency room services to be there when they are most needed, but due to shortages in doctors, nurses and nurse practitioners a closed sign is hanging on the door; and

Whereas as of November 24, 2007, emergency rooms have been closed for 5,809.5 hours so far this year, almost 2,000 hours more than last year;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his new Progressive Conservative Government commit to addressing the real problems with health care in this province and address the crisis facing ERs throughout our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 279

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

Whereas Stellarton resident Stephanie Higgins recently returned home from the Dominican Republic where she joined 29 other students from across North America as part of the International Student Volunteers; and

Whereas the Dalhousie University student said that she is forever changed after the enlightening experience where she witnessed poverty that most of the island's tourists never see from the luxury of their resorts; and

Whereas Ms. Higgins also came home with a restored faith in Nova Scotia and Canada and was proud to offer some of the children on the island gifts such as books, skipping ropes and school supplies collected before she left for the Caribbean Island;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send appreciation and praise to Stephanie Higgins of Stellarton for her ambassadorial work in the Dominican Republic, a country whose citizens are in need and require as much support as possible.

[Page 260]

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.

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, before tabling a resolution, I beg leave to make an introduction. We have, in the west gallery, a valued member of the NDP caucus who is here to witness the first, I believe, Question Period that she has attended. Her name is Kathy Rennick and I would like to have Kathy stand and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 280

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

Whereas the Pictou County Seniors Festival is an annual three-day social event attended by seniors from across the province to take part in information exchange, games and activities and is highlighted by a pork barbeque; and

Whereas the event is organized by a committee of hard-working and dedicated volunteers working with recreation coordinator Martin Bates; and

Whereas the Pictou County Seniors Festival has taken place every August for the past 19 years with annual attendance reaching over 300;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend the dedication and enthusiasm of the volunteers and staff of the Pictou County Seniors Festival and wish the Pictou County Seniors Festival continuing growth and success in the coming years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 261]

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 281

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

Whereas Dr. Lisa Bonang is a family physician in Musquodoboit Harbour; and

Whereas Dr. Bonang leads a medical team of five at the Musquodoboit Harbour Medical Clinic and still has time to lecture at Dalhousie University; and

Whereas on October 9th of this year, Dr. Bonang was named Nova Scotia's Family Physician of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Dr. Lisa Bonang on her accomplishments and being named Nova Scotia Family Physician of the Year and wish her 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 member for Hants West.

[Page 262]

RESOLUTION NO. 282

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 Avon View Avalanche Senior High School Girls Rugby Team are the 2007 Nova Scotia Provincial Champions, having won it with an astounding season record of 25 wins and 1 loss; and

Whereas besides the provincial championship, the Avalanche girls won the Western Zone regional title, the David Voye Memorial Tournament held on Prince Edward Island, their own Windsor tournament and another held at West Kings District High School in Auburn, Kings County; and

Whereas Avalanche Head Coach Jim Bryan faced the prospect of having his head shaved if his team captured the Nova Scotia championship and, as a result of their provincial triumph, Bryan faced the razor shortly thereafter;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate Coach Jim Bryan and the 2007 Avon View Avalanche Girls High School Rugby Team for their strong dedication to commitment, their team spirit and their Nova Scotia provincial title.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 283

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

Whereas Digby is continuing to suffer from a health care crisis; and

[Page 263]

Whereas without doctors, nurses, and nurse practitioners, many of our elderly residents of Digby are put at an unnecessary risk; and

Whereas just recently we have received an emergency room doctor at the Digby General but we still have 6,000 patients in that area without a family doctor;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier of this province and the Minister of Health commit to providing the health human resources necessary to provide for the residents of Digby and its surrounding area immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 284

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 services provided by volunteers are essential for improved lifestyles; and

Whereas volunteers donate services valued in the millions of dollars each year; and

Whereas Amber Fitzgerald of Pleasantville, Lunenburg County, volunteered her services to communities in Nairobi, Kenya and Elora, Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amber Fitzgerald for her kindness, caring and donation of time and talents to help communities in Nairobi, Kenya and Elora, Ontario, through a Canada World Youth Africa-Canada Eco-leadership exchange program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 264]

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. 285

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

Whereas more than 50,000 strokes and 75,000 heart attacks occur every year, and one in three deaths in Canada is due to heart disease and stroke; and

Whereas in recent years the Heart and Stroke Foundation spent millions of dollars on research, funding research teams across Canada; and

Whereas the Heart and Stroke Foundation's tradition of funding world-class science means today's research climate is producing medical advances at a rate never imagined 50 years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize November as CPR Awareness Month and encourage the people of Nova Scotia to educate themselves on this vital procedure to saving lives.

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.

[Page 265]

RESOLUTION NO. 286

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 throughout 2007 Scouting marks its 100th Anniversary in 155 countries around the world; and

Whereas on May 12, 2007, Scouts Canada held an awards ceremony in Halifax to present the Commemorative Centennial Medal to many outstanding volunteers who are integral parts of the Scouting movement in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ms. Jackie Jacquard of Tusket was a recipient of one of these awards for her hard work and dedication to the Scouting movement;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Ms. Jacquard and all other volunteers who have invested many hours, days, weeks and years in the development of youth and Scouting in 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.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 266]

RESOLUTION NO. 287

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

Whereas Foster Paris, a resident of Truro, retired last April from Elections Nova Scotia where he faithfully assisted with the administration of elections for three decades and was Canada's longest-serving elections officer; and

Whereas Foster Paris joined Elections Nova Scotia staff in the Spring of 1977, was promoted to full time that Fall and became warehouse clerk in 1978; and

Whereas Foster Paris' first task was the 1978 election and he would go on to help administer eight other general elections, countless by-elections and more than 25 liquor plebiscites;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Foster Paris for his exceptional service to our province during his years at Elections Nova Scotia and wish him and his wife, Sheila, all the best in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: It is 2:59 p.m., Question Period shall go until 3:59 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

JOSEPH HOWE BLDG.: RENOVATION COSTS - REPORT TABLE

[Page 267]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, let me just start by saying it's good to be back. My question will be for the Premier. The Premier is a fan of public-private partnerships and you would know that the Hamm Government swore off the P3s because of the brutal financial losses taken by this province over the years. Now we have word that the Joseph Howe Building, which cost this government some $50 million in rental costs over the years through the lease-purchase agreement, will have to undergo $25 million to $30 million in renovations. This is a building currently assessed at $14.2 million. There is a report by CBCL on renovation costs and I'll table the cover page of the report which says that it was completed on October 31st .

My question to the Premier is, will the Premier agree to table the entire final report and all of the interim reports that led up to the final report?

[3:00 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do agree with my honourable colleague across the floor, it is great to be back here in the House of Assembly where the people's business is done. I appreciate his question regarding the Joseph Howe Building. As I understand it, I believe that building is about 33 years old, so I can appreciate the age that it finds itself in at the present time. Maybe we're both in need of a refit, I'm not sure.

In all seriousness, I can't speak to the report, I have not had the opportunity to see such a report yet, but obviously the reporting question was deemed necessary. It was deemed necessary because of the age of the building and we need to ensure that our buildings are up to a particular code for our employees. We need to make sure that the conditions, environmentally, the conditions from a working perspective are conducive to today's day and age. At such time that we can make the report available, we certainly will do that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a report paid for at public expense and it ought to be available to the people of Nova Scotia. This government's Joseph Howe lease-purchase deal has cost the taxpayers dearly and was part of the financial dealings by Progressive Conservative Governments in the past that ran up the debt of this province. Consultants were only brought in to examine the building after public servants - Health Department employees - said that their workplace was making them ill. Under the lease-purchase agreement, the province will own the building in 2012. Despite that, the consultants discovered that the owners had not done the upgrades to meet today's standards.

My question to the Premier is, is the lease-purchase agreement so bad that the landlord can get away with letting the building run down before handing it to the province, along with a bill for $30 million?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition is correct - the current lease arrangement expires in 2012 and obviously when you take a look at perhaps what has

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happened in our province and perhaps with many buildings here in HRM, Mr. Speaker, and government - lessons were learned and certainly this government will not be making the same mistakes.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, lessons learned at the expense of the taxpayers of this province. Thanks to the disastrous P3 deals, the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are faced with $25 million to $30 million in a bill to fix up a building assessed at $14.2 million and this is after paying some $50 million in rents over the years. My question is this, will the Premier table a copy of the lease agreement that made possible this fiasco?

THE PREMIER: As I indicated in my earlier answer, the Province of Nova Scotia, the government will take a look at the report, Mr. Speaker. We will make the relevant information available following that review. Clearly what the Official Opposition is attempting to do is to cloud the issue because the government is moving forward on the opportunity of strategic infrastructure partnerships - which we see from one end of this country to the other. The ones who don't believe in the private sector in this province are those on that side of the House.

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

HEALTH : FAM. PHARMACARE PROGRAM - COSTS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Let me agree, it's good to be back. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. At long last we finally see the Progressive Conservative Government's idea of a working family's Pharmacare Program and it leaves a lot to be desired. The Premier and his Minister of Health promised there would be no application fee, no up-front costs, no sign-up fee for this program but a fee by any other name is still a fee. So my question to the Premier is, why have you misled Nova Scotians about the real cost of the Pharmacare Program?

THE PREMIER: Through you, Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, he is correct, there is no application fee.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, while the Department of Health insists there is no premium to join - unlike the Seniors' Pharmacare Program, there is a 20 per cent co-pay and the deductibles are paid up-front as prescriptions are filled. Only after your deductible is paid will Nova Scotians begin to see the benefit of this program. Sounds like a premium to me. My question to the Premier is, why has the department insisted on recovering their deductible up-front instead of allowing it to be paid over the year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we clearly outlined the objectives of the program yesterday and we did that not only through staff but through the minister and I. The program is a very worthwhile program. We have 180,000 who do not have a drug plan today. This is

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meant to give them an opportunity, not to see them go forward in the upcoming years and not be able to afford many of the drugs that they require for them and their family. That is the purpose and the intent of this program. It's about individuals, it's about people.

Mr. Speaker, there is a cost to delivering any such program and the Province of Nova Scotia is investing heavily to make sure that this program is available to each and every Nova Scotian.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the Premier tells us deductibles are based on family income. He says that families with lowest income and the highest medical costs will benefit the most from this program. However, the Premier does not say that who will benefit the most from this program are unable to cover the up-front costs. So my question to the Premier is, will this government eliminate the barriers and allow for a gradual payment of this deductible over the year?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the program evolves, we will give consideration to many things in the program. Certainly we will take my honourable colleague's advice into consideration. We have already given that some consideration and if we deem it possible to do that, we will. If not, we will continue moving forward as we have announced.

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

JOSEPH HOWE BLDG.: LEASE-PURCHASE AGREEMENT - JUSTIFICATION MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Premier. The Joseph Howe Building is the headquarters for the Department of Health. In the event of an emergency, the people who work in that building may be called upon to provide important services, yet the building has no back-up power supply - and when a test was done on the back-up generator this weekend, it burst into flames. My question to the Premier is this: Why did the government tolerate a lease-purchase arrangement that can hinder this province's ability to respond to a public health emergency?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to my honourable colleague. It's the very reason why this government has put better roads and infrastructure as one of our top priorities for this province moving forward. We want to make sure that our employees have safe workplaces, we want to make sure they have quality workplaces. We are moving forward. We have moved forward in investments in many buildings.

My colleague asked for the report and we'll make sure that is tabled as soon as possible.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, despite the high cost this government faces arising from the untendered P3 deal for the Joe Howe Building, last night the Premier stood here and said

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that his government wants to sign more P3 lease-purchase deals. My question to the Premier is this: Are you now negotiating any agreement or have you made any agreement with a developer for a lease, for a lease-purchase, or for any other arrangement where the province provides assurances of rental income to enable construction?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if you include things like nursing homes, obviously the answer would be yes to that. Further to his previous question, we will be more than happy to make that lease available as well. With that, we'll continue to make sure, as we move forward with strategic infrastructure partnerships, that we do the appropriate work that's required to ensure that the people of Nova Scotia are getting the very best bang for their dollar.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Joseph Howe Building lease-purchase arrangement will cost taxpayers $50 million in rent and now there's a bill for as much as $30 million more that has been delivered through this report. It's the kind of financial irresponsibility that Progressive Conservative deals in the past piled up the province's $12 billion debt, and now the Premier wants to do it again. My question to the Premier is this: What is it about the Joe Howe experience that has led him to the conclusion that Nova Scotia taxpayers can afford any more of these deals?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, obviously the Leader of the Opposition is against what every other province in this country is doing - and that's making sure they have partnerships which are working on behalf of their citizens. We, as a province, want to do the same. We already see this, and a good example is with our ambulance system here in Nova Scotia - it's the best ambulance system in the world right here in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

Again, as I said before, the NDP are against the private sector in this province. They want to nationalize the insurance system here in Nova Scotia, they want to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN.: PUBLIC SCHOOLS: PUBLIC SECTOR OWNERSHIP - RETAIN

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Acting Minister of Finance. The previous government introduced P3 contracts that allowed private corporations to build schools and lease them back to the province. In trying but ultimately failing to keep the cost of these schools off the provincial books, that government spent over $30 million more than if the government had retained ownership - that's enough money to pay for a new high school in Eastern Passage or to fix up many schools across the province and have plenty left over to pay for teachers and supplies. My question to the acting minister: Why won't this government learn from the mistakes of the past and keep public schools in the public sector?

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HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the honourable member for the question. The fact is that this government indeed has learned and any arrangements that we will make in the future will not result in the kind of results the honourable member is suggesting.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, you know the private sector has always had a role in designing and building public schools in this province - it is not the private sector that we doubt. What we doubt is this government's ability to manage private-public partnerships in the public interest. They can't explain how they're going to avoid the P3 school fiasco of the previous government. They can't explain how they're going to avoid the P3 immigration fiasco which is still unfolding; they can't explain how they're going to avoid the Joseph Howe Building fiasco. Will the acting minister confirm that it is this government's position that there is nothing wrong with public schools being owned by private, for-profit corporations?

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. What I will confirm to the House is that this government will ensure that the necessary infrastructure that's required for the people of this province - whether it be in the field of education, in the field of health care, in the field of transportation - will be provided. We will draw upon the lessons of all jurisdictions in this country and elsewhere to ensure that we make the best arrangements possible for the people of this province.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, he won't deny it. We all heard that he won't deny it. In the year 2000, Jane Purves, the Progressive Conservative Minister of Education said that accounting reasons should not drive school construction decisions; educational reasons should. Her colleague, Neil LeBlanc, said at the time that we don't have to surrender ownership of our schools in order to finance and build them. My question to the Acting Minister of Finance is, why has this government decided that it will let accounting reasons drive school construction decisions, and that it will surrender ownership of our public schools?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I am really surprised to hear the honourable member go to the accounting argument because he is well versed in the concept of Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, as are undertaken by this province. Those practices do not permit us to avoid any debt on our books as a result of strategic infrastructure partnerships. That is not the reason we're doing it. We're going to examine doing this in order to provide the very best service that we can to the people of this province, not to avoid debt. (Applause)

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

PREM.: PHARMACARE PROGRAM - UP FRONT COSTS

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MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. A working family of four making $33,000 per year is required to pay $750 in co-pay and deductible before receiving any benefits under the Progressive Conservative Government's working families Pharmacare Program. So my question to the Premier is, how is a family of four making $33,000 per year expected to come up with that $750 up-front cost?

THE PREMIER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I don't have the exact facts and figures in front of me but if I do recall, a family of four, making $27,000, would pay roughly $640 and the Province of Nova Scotia would pick up the other $800 and some odd dollars, Mr. Speaker.

Again, we are providing a significant investment to ensure that these individuals, these families who are most needy in our province, are provided with the drug coverage that they need. Surely the Leader of the Liberal Party is not suggesting, as was put forward by his Party, to do nothing for these individuals, Mr. Speaker.

MR. MCNEIL: A single mother of three young children, making $15,000 a year, is expected to pay a deductible and co-pay of $75. While this may not sound like a lot to you, Mr. Premier, it is a lot for a family trying to barely survive on $15,000 a year. So my question to you is, if this is a true family Pharmacare Program, why should any family making $15,000 a year be expected to pay any deductible?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the individuals who will most benefit from the program put forward yesterday are those who are most needy here in our province. I'm sure we all agree with the fact that there's a cost to every program that we provide to the people of our province. As such, we're making a significant investment. It will cost over $50 million to provide opportunities for our families who do not have drug coverage at the present time but we all have to pay into that program and those who earn the fewest dollars in our province will have to put forward the fewest dollars, and that's to ensure that they can provide the needed drugs for their family members.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, many working families are struggling on a daily basis to make ends meet. This program with its up-front costs does very little to help alleviate the strain that these people face on a daily basis. The reality is even with this program, prescription drug coverage remains out of reach for many Nova Scotians. So my question to the Premier is, how can you call this a working family's Pharmacare Program when those who need it the most will not benefit?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Family Pharmacare Program will benefit every Nova Scotian. Every single person in this House today, every single Nova Scotian can sign up, and I encourage them to do so. I do not want to see, and none of us want to see, individuals go without the drug coverage they need. For the first time in our province,

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we finally see a government willing to move forward for those 180,000 Nova Scotians who don't have drug coverage today.

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

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HEALTH: RURAL ERS - PROBLEM ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Premier also. In the Speech from the Throne, the Premier's new Nova Scotia was a place that has more general practitioners per capita than any other province but despite the abundance of doctors, the Premier and his government still can't keep rural emergency rooms open because of a shortage of physicians. Just yesterday, the Lillian Fraser Memorial Hospital in Tatamagouche closed its emergency room for the 22nd time this year. So my question to the Premier is, why has his government failed to address an old problem like the crisis in rural emergency rooms?

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

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite that this will continue to happen from time to time, yes. We have the best population for a physician ratio of any province in Canada and we will continue to work with those physicians to get them to work in rural areas. We are open 98 per cent of the time in all ERs across this province and we have the best ambulance system in the world to make sure that they get to those ERs that are nearby.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Health thinks 22 times is time to time, he's mistaken and that's wrong. The Lillian Fraser Hospital is not the only emergency room experiencing challenges. Three emergency rooms in Cape Breton closed for a total of seven times in November. Pugwash emergency room closed seven times in October. Digby's emergency room is scheduled to close twice in November and the Shelburne Roseway emergency room is closed today.

The Premier and the Minister of Health have said in the past that they're taking action to resolve the emergency closures but the people in these communities know better. So my question is to the Premier, how can he claim that there has been success staffing emergency rooms and recruitment of physicians when they are still closing as we speak?

THE PREMIER: I'll refer that to the Minister of Health.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, let's take Digby, for example. In Digby, we have been successful in ascertaining another ER doctor. We have nurse practitioners going in there. So the Digby Regional Hospital emergency room will be open. We have continued to work on these one at a time and 98 per cent of the time, ERs are open in Nova Scotia.

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT - STATISTICS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the Premier, in his Fall 2007 brochure, What's New in Nova Scotia, claims to have hired 55 rural doctors since

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January, 54 of whom, he said, settled in rural Nova Scotia, but we know that that's not the case. The Health Department will tell you that only 31 rural doctors were hired, while another 15 left the practice during that time. So I would like to ask the Premier today, can the Premier tell us whose facts are right - the government's pamphlet or the Department of Health?

THE PREMIER: I will refer that to the Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm very happy to stand and speak to the successes that we've had in physician recruitment in this province. Nova Scotia has more physicians per population than any other province; more Nova Scotians have a family physician than people in any other province; and our physicians do well compared to other doctors across the country. Again, we have the highest percentage of alternate payment plans among all provinces. Four CAPP candidates will begin practicing in rural communities in the next 60 days. Since 2005, 23 IMGs have been mentored under CAPP and are working in our province. We have great successes in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - HYDE CASE: TREATMENT - EXPLAIN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Howard Hyde lived with paranoid schizophrenia for most of his adult life. He was known to frequently go off his medication, and that's when he got into trouble with the law. Last Thursday his condition worsened and he became agitated and aggressive. His wife called for help after he assaulted her, and the police arrived. Thirty hours later he lay dead in a cell. Will the minister please tell us why Mr. Hyde wasn't treated as a mental health consumer rather than a criminal?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite full well knows, I cannot speak to the specifics of any case before this Legislature. I'm very, very troubled by the incident that did happen. I know that the Minister of Justice, through his department, is reviewing exactly what happened here. Again, I cannot speak to the mental situation, nor the member's contact with the hospital system.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, there is ample evidence of Mr. Hyde's state of mind during that fateful night. His wife called the mental health mobile crisis unit and reported he was not taking his medication. Hyde was known to police after being Tasered two years earlier and he was twice arrested by the police and twice found not criminally responsible for

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his actions. My question is, given Mr. Hyde's condition and history of mental health challenges, why did nobody comply with the involuntary treatment Act in this case and get him the care that he needed?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, again, as I cannot speak to the specifics of any case, I know that it will continue to be reviewed and I know that we'll be sharing that information through the Department of Justice on this issue.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, this government has said many times that this Act would ensure mental health consumers would get treatment, not jail time. They said the criminal justice system was not the appropriate place for people who are mentally ill. I would like to ask the minister why he did not keep his promise to Howard Hyde?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I said, I will continue to review this particular case to make sure that we will not see a similar outcome. I will continue to work through the Department of Justice and the honourable minister, and will continue to implement the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act which, by the way, was not supported by the NDP.

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

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

HEALTH - ER CLOSURES: INCREASE - STOP

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. So far this year we have over 5,800 hours of emergency room closures across the province - almost 2,000 hours more than last year and almost three times as many hours as the year before. Digby General has seen three times as many closures this year over last year; Cape Breton District Health Authority has seen more than twice as many closures as last year and accounts for more than half of all closures across the nine DHAs; and the emergency room at New Waterford has been closed an astounding nine times more this year. My question to the Premier is what is the Progressive Conservative Government's plan to stop this outrageous increase in ER closures?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, as the Minister of Health answered in a previous question, there are a number of steps which the government is taking to keep our ERs open. From time to time we do see challenges with that, but over 98 per cent of the time these ERs are open, and I feel very confident in the abilities of our health care workers who are doing a fine job to ensure the safety and quality of health care provided to our citizens, that they deserve.

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MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this government has repeatedly tried to convince Nova Scotians that we are ahead of the game by having the highest patient- to- doctor ratio in the country. But no other province is suffering from the same outrageous ER closures; in fact our Atlantic neighbours rarely, if ever, have any ER closures. My question to the Premier is why can the other Atlantic Provinces maintain ERs and we can't?

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

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, we need to understand exactly what's happening. I know the member opposite mentioned some of the ERs that are closed from time to time. I had already referenced in a previous answer our solution to what's happening in Digby, and I thank the member for Digby-Annapolis for his support on bringing this issue forward and finding solutions. I can also say that in different parts across the province there are different issues. The issue of course in Glace Bay, New Waterford is the issue of nurses and I can say we have had the opportunity of training more nurses. (Interruptions) Well, maybe Glace Bay, maybe not New Waterford.

We've been working, we have over 500 new nurses in the last five years and we'll continue to do that; we'll continue to expand seats at the Dalhousie Medical School. The member opposite refers to other provinces and they did something that we are not going to do, which is close rural ERs.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, they say where there's a will, there's a way. It certainly applies to the current crisis when it comes to our ER closures. The new Progressive Conservative Government has been offered help time and again with ER doctors who, themselves, said they would help manage the ER crisis in this province, but the minister has refused that offer - it is clear there is a lack of political will to fix this problem. My question to the minister: Is this government preparing Nova Scotia for the ultimate, which is the closure of some ERs across this province?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it seems like I answered his last question in the last answer. It is not our intention to close ERs - it is our intention to find solutions to keep those rural ERs open.

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

JUSTICE: TASERS - GOVERNANCE STANDARDS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Justice and it concerns the governance standards for the use of Tasers by police forces in this province. Last week, in the wake of the tragic events in British Columbia, but

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before the unfortunate death of Mr. Hyde in Dartmouth, the minister reassured Nova Scotians that a governance standard outlining appropriate use of Tasers is in place for law enforcement agencies here. Can the minister tell the House what those governance standards are and, more importantly, how long they've been in effect?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect brings up something that is top of mind to all Nova Scotians - in fact, all Canadians, and that's why we acted so promptly to co-operate, and is part of the coordination and collaboration across Canada right now. Yes, we have a policy in place - I'll be happy to present a copy to the honourable member what that is. I'll be happy to disclose that and, more importantly, we have a ministerial review. Indeed, for Nova Scotia we're undertaking and will be announcing the details of that as part of our ongoing efforts of co-operation with this matter.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question was how long have they been in effect, but I will move on to this - police governance standards for the Province of Nova Scotia were circulated on December 12, 2006; however, those standards contained no timelines for implementation and no obligation for police forces to report back on this implementation. So my question is, how, then, did the minister know on November 20th that governance standards were in place for law enforcement agencies in this province?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it's simple, because that's my job, honourable member.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Well, on November 22nd, following the tragic death of Mr. Hyde, the minister announced this review of policies and procedures and protocols regarding the use of Tasers in Nova Scotia. So my final question to the Minister of Justice, will this imminent review also include a review of the action, or lack of action, by your predecessor, as the Minister of Justice, on this issue in this province?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, this government has been very responsible and takes this matter very seriously. If the member wants to politicize this, then let's have an open debate in this House with regard to that. I can tell the honourable member and all members of this House that this government will continue to be responsible in our management and actions and the policies and procedures as set out, and we will hold that course and stay the course for responsible use in this province.

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

HEALTH: PALLIATIVE CARE PROG. - STATUS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In May 2004, the former Minister of Health stood in this House and told Nova Scotians that palliative care is a priority, ". . . we are in the process of establishing a standard approach

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across this province, finding the best services that we can provide . . . . it is a priority with respect to moving forward." A detailed report recommending a province-wide, single point of entry palliative care program was authored by the Department of Health in June 2005. So my question is, when is the province going to implement their own recommendations and bring forward a province-wide, comprehensive palliative care program?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there have been steps taken with regard to the palliative care initiative and I would refer to the Minister of Health to update my honourable colleague.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, all Nova Scotians who need end-of-life care should have access to the same level of service regardless of where they live in this province. I can say that over the last number of years we have been working steadily to equal out the system. I can say that we have been working on hiring a coordinator to manage palliative care in this province and we will continue along this project.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is to the Minister of Health. The statistics are available and staggering - 80 per cent of the people want to die at home and yet 70 per cent are forced to die in hospital. The palliative care services that are available are often only delivered between the hours of 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. The only saving grace to this cruel reality is that the cost of medication is covered while in hospital, while they are not when a patient chooses to live his or her final days at home. So my question to the minister is, what does the minister have to say to those suffering Nova Scotians who are forced to spend their final days without proper palliative care?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the member opposite, medications are covered for those life-ending days. We are making sure that those individuals have more home care entitlements when they come into a palliative state. We continue to expand those services through the continuing care strategy.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, the department continues to announce piecemeal, band-aid solutions to the problem which is existing in the palliative care program across this province, all the while their own report and recommendations sit on a shelf collecting dust. So my question to the minister is - the department has already done their homework, the plan is available - when will the Progressive Conservative Government implement their own work?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in an answer previously, we will continue to expand the services as dollars do come available to make sure that we are doing it correctly and equitably across the province. We will continue to expand this very, very important program.

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

ECON. DEV. - SHELBURNE CO.: REVITALIZATION - PLANS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Over the last two decades Shelburne County has been hit by major job losses. We have experienced the closure of government facilities, including two military bases in Baccaro and Sandy Point. The people of Shelburne County have seen the loss of the School for Boys and now we're dealing with the downturn in the cod fishery. All of these closures have impacted severely on the lives of the people of Shelburne County. My first question to the minister is, when is he going to focus resources on revitalizing this part of rural Nova Scotia?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. We have indeed been working very closely with the municipalities in Shelburne County. We worked very closely with the South West Shore Regional Development Authority in that part of the province, finding ways to improve the level of economic activity in Shelburne as a priority of this government, as well as the South West Shore Regional Development Authority and the municipalities in the area, and we'll continue to work with them.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Government created the RDAs to help generate economic development and the growth in rural communities like Shelburne County. In my riding, the South West Shore Regional Development Authority has been tasked with the sale of the boys' school and the Sandy Point sound stage. The proceeds of those sales will go to the five municipal regions of Shelburne County to fund economic development work. Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, how will he ensure that these sales are completed in a transparent manner, to ensure the five municipalities will have a development fund?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, of course what we want to do is ensure that the funds to which the honourable member refers are indeed dedicated to economic development activity.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, residents of Shelburne County signed a petition this summer requesting a comprehensive audit of SWSRDA's handling of the sale of the Sandy Point sound stage and the boys' school. So far this request has not been dealt with by this government. Mr. Speaker, my final question to the Minister of Economic Development is, when will he ensure the audit, so that the money from these sales can direct for the betterment of the people of Shelburne County?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the answer to the previous question, our objective is to ensure that all of these monies go toward economic development. The honourable member knows that the South West Shore Regional Development Authority has

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representatives from municipal council on that authority and they, of course, are very much in tune with what is happening.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV. - POVERTY CONSULTATION: PARTICIPATION - OPEN

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Over 81,000 individuals, including 19,000 children, are living in poverty in this province. The department is engaging in a consultation that has left a lot of those Nova Scotians out of the process, particularly those struggling on low incomes.

Organizations were told that these First Voice people could attend the November 1st and 2nd meetings, but only if they were substituted as that group's participant. My question to the minister is, when will her consultation on poverty have fully public, open participation?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I thank my honourable colleague for the question. It raises a very important issue that we are extremely pleased to be moving forward on. The issue of poverty is one that is complex, does not belong to a single department, nor does it belong to a single group. That's why my honourable colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, and I have co-headed this poverty consultation. We will continue to work with stakeholders across this province, from one end to the other, to ensure that a multi-year poverty reduction strategy is in place as committed by our Premier.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, the Community Services Committee held two poverty forums and anyone who attended could participate. Recommendations on reducing the impact of poverty were brought forward based on input from dozens of groups and individuals. A poverty reduction strategy done properly is a positive thing, but measures could be put into place today while this process continues. My question to the minister is, why not listen to the advice of poverty groups now and improve on policies so that Nova Scotians get immediate help?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, this government and indeed our departments take very seriously the issue of poverty. We have over 70 programs throughout government today that address the very serious issue of poverty.

Mr. Speaker, some of the phenomenal work that was done by many members of this House during the Standing Committee on Community Services on their poverty forum has

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been incorporated into the analysis that we're doing. We believe it's important to consult. If memory serves me correctly, some members from the other side didn't think we should consult. I believe we should consult and we should ask Nova Scotians.

MR. ZINCK: Mr. Speaker, while it's consulting on poverty, the department has changed its policies to make access to Community Services Pharmacare more difficult. It has also cut off clients getting special needs items where they have had to get approval over again, paying unnecessary costs for doctors' letters and medical forms. My question to the minister is, why is her government talking poverty reduction out of one side of its mouth and making life harder for Nova Scotians from the other?

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, this government under the leadership of our Premier takes very seriously the issue of poverty. That's why we continue to invest daily in the quality care of all Nova Scotians and we will continue to do that as committed for many years to come.

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

HEALTH: WAIT TIMES REDUCTION: PLAN - INFO

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In December 2005 the Ministers of Health from across the country met on patient wait time guarantees and came up with wait time benchmarks. At that meeting the ministers agreed that wait times on hip replacement surgery would be decreased to 26 weeks. The ministers further agreed that all provinces would have detailed action plans on how they were going to achieve those goals by the end of 2007. So my question to the minister is, does your department have a detailed action plan to reduce wait times to 26 weeks that they agreed to and when will they reach it?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, over the last number of years Ministers of Health, including myself and previous ministers, have been working hard to work with the Department of Health and surgeons and hospitals to reduce wait times. I was very happy to attend an announcement by the QE II Department of Surgery and they have some real stuff that can make true differences and that's where the issue has to come from, from those individuals who actually do the surgeries. We can provide dollars, we can provide oversight, but until it comes from physicians, it really can't happen. So I'm very, very pleased with their work.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, Canada has the worst wait times of any G8 nation. Nova Scotia has some of the highest wait times for several procedures in the country, including joint replacement surgery. Only Saskatchewan has a longer wait list than we do. Alberta is

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performing hip replacement surgeries within three months of specialists' referrals. Recently Dal Surgery, the IWK and Capital Health released their own report on wait times for surgical services, including possible alternatives and solutions to this ever-increasing problem. So my question to the minister is, does this Conservative Government have a plan to reduce wait times for all procedures or are they going to let the doctors at DHAs figure this out on their own?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, we will continue to provide policy, we will continue to provide dollars, we will continue to provide as much oversight as we possibly can, but it has to happen on the ground. It has to happen with physicians. It has to happen with the electronic data systems. It has to happen on the ground and that is finally happening. I'm very proud to be part of that system.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this Progressive Conservative Government receives $64 million from the former federal Liberal Government to be spent in reducing wait times in this province. While some wait times have been reduced, it has been at the expense of others which continue to grow, yet there is money still in the Wait Times Reduction Fund sitting idle, unused, in a government bank account, while Nova Scotians suffer in silence waiting for medical services. So my final question to the minister is, when and how is this government going to spend the balance of this Wait Times Reduction Fund?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I know that the department staff, and through my offices, are looking at other projects that can make a difference in wait times. That is exactly why, in our Throne Speech, we have identified wait times as one of our five priorities. We will continue to work with all individuals within our health care system to make sure that wait times become better.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

ECON. DEV. - CANSO FISH PROCESSING: MIN. SUPPORT - DETAILS

MR. CLARRIE MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Canso has one of the region's best multi-species fish processing and storage facilities. The community also has a talented and eager workforce that is now jobless. Workers watch shrimp and other species, landed in Canso, being trucked to Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere for processing. This is despite an understanding by the federal and provincial governments that Canso deserves a supply of fish to be processed in that plant. I would like to ask the minister, what is he doing to support Canso's case for processing in the community.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is speaking about an issue that is of great significance to that part of Nova Scotia. It has been a real challenge for them since the closure of the fishery in unavailable species to bring to Canso. That's a

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problem that has been a real challenge, especially for the current owner and operator of the plant that's there. I have met with Mr. Barry and had a very detailed discussion with respect to the future of that plant, and I can say that in consultation with the Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture, who is also the MLA for the area, we are prepared to work very closely with the community and with all who are interested. As some who are interested in that area develop their plans even further, we will be able to move forward, but I don't want to create any great expectations - the challenge is very, very significant.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, once processed in Newfoundland and Labrador, shrimp has been trucked back to Canso for storage to a large freezing facility paid for in part by Nova Scotia taxpayers. The reason Nova Scotia taxpayers have subsidized that freezer was to keep fish processing jobs in Canso. Instead, greenhouse gas emissions have been increased in order to send unprocessed species to fish plants in Newfoundland and Labrador and elsewhere. I would like to ask the minister, how does this situation fit into his government's Buy Local campaign?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the honourable member that whatever solutions we are able to find for Canso are solutions that have to make sense both from the perspective of the operator that would work in Canso and, of course, for the community. There first of all has to be a supply of species available, and that needs to be able to be processed at that plant in a very competitive way, because there's no point in an operator going there - in fact, an operator will not go there if they're going to see that they will lose money into the future. So that's why I say that the challenge is very significant of finding somebody who can, indeed, operate in that facility and operate in such a way that people can look forward to a sustained operation in the future.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, many species are being trucked out of Canso. Without the tax revenues brought in from the Seafreez plant, the Town of Canso may not be able to sustain itself in the long term. Townspeople have been forced to travel to P.E.I. and elsewhere to work, just to get enough hours or to try to get enough hours to claim unemployment benefits. In August the Premier toured Canso and said he would see what your department could do. Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister of Economic Development, what is your department going to do?

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I can tell you by the very tone of the honourable member's question that he doesn't understand what is required for a solution. The only solution that he intimates toward is that the department have the solution. The department will have a solution, working with the private sector. That's the only long-term, viable solution unless, of course, they're advocating public ownership of that facility.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

NAT. RES.: FORESTRY TRANSITION PROG. - FUNDING

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MR. CHARLES PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Minister of Natural Resources. On October 12th of this year the minister announced a forestry transition program consisting of some $36 million dollars. In one part of this program it is the government picking up the tab for silviculture through 2008-09 and when the registered buyers were paying two-thirds of the cost it resulted, for the most part, in uneven age treatments to maximize production of softwood fibre. Really, Mr. Speaker, for this to be a transition plan we have to do something that will actually result in a transition. So my question is, with the taxpayer footing the whole bill for silviculture, why are we spending all of this money on a model of forestry that is not working and is not sustainable?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Well, thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I thank the member opposite for bringing up the forestry sector. This is one of the leading components of the Nova Scotia economy. It employs roughly 16,000 people and for some time we have been hearing from the whole sector and everybody who depends on the sector, for assistance.

Mr. Speaker, within the confines of the Softwood Lumber Agreement we feel that we have responded to their legitimate concerns. We wanted to make sure we did nothing to compromise their access to the American market, and the industry tells me they are pleased with our plan.

MR. PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The Association of Sustainable Forestry's two-year program to promote Category 7 treatments has already had one-half of its funds requested. The funds for uneven age stand management should not be allowed to run out. The pickup on the program shows that woodlot owners are interested in environmentally responsible forestry and with training and guidance, interest will grow. Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, to help in the transition of our forests, will the minister ensure that a much larger portion of the silviculture funds will go to the sustainable Category 7 treatments?

MR. MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm a little surprised by the member's question because I thought that he would possibly be aware that we, in fact, did specifically target $570,000 specifically for Category 7 and an education plan. It was done in consultation through the minister's Forestry Technical Advisory Committee and has the support of all stakeholders.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, $570,000 is only a very small portion of the $36 million that has been given here to the forest industry. I was aware of that, but it's really just a drop in the bucket. So I think any transition program has to involve a plan, a true plan to get long-term value for our forests. Many smaller woodlot and forestry operations involve small and medium-sized family businesses that lack the needed resources for effective market research and development. So my question to the minister is, of that $36 million, what proportion is

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going to be used to really investigate the value-added potential for Nova Scotia's forest industry at this time?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite is not happy with the plan. In a news release he put out, he says the pulp fibre industry is an important one, but the pulp fibre industry is a major employer in Pictou West and I'm surprised that he's not supportive of this program. I would table this.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable Leader of the Opposition asked during Question Period if the Premier would table the report with regard to the Department of Transportation and Public Works, at the time, for the Condition Assessment and Recapitalization Plan of the Joseph Howe Building. I table that at this time.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[4:00 p.m.]

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 13.

Bill No. 13 - Probate Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: I'm pleased to rise and begin debate on second reading for amendments of the Probate Act. These amendments will remove the requirement that people who act as witnesses to a handwritten will must be present when the will is written. The practice in most other Canadian jurisdictions is to allow a handwritten will to be proven by an affidavit stating that the person is familiar with the handwriting of the writer and believes the will was written by that person.

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We wish to adopt that practice here in Nova Scotia. The Wills Act was previously amended in 2006 to allow handwritten, or holograph, wills. These amendments support the changes made to the Wills Act. These changes update the Probate Act and bring it more in line with similar Acts in other Canadian jurisdictions. In addition, these amendments will make it easier for people to ensure their final wishes are fulfilled.

With those few comments, I look forward to the support of other Parties with regard to these amendments and if my honourable colleagues have any particular follow-up, I look forward to the interventions.

I move second reading.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I rise on behalf of the NDP caucus on Bill No. 13, the Amendments to Chapter 31, the Acts of 2000, the Probate Act. During the steep learning curve since I've been involved with the Department of Justice and at the briefing on this particular bill, the obvious question was asked and explained at the time. When I returned from the bill briefing, I was explaining to the member for Cape Breton Centre, with his strong legal background, the particular conditions with Bill No. 13.

At the time, the member for Cape Breton Centre was intrigued with what a holograph will was. Immediately I said to him, I know the answer to that and if I were a lawyer, I'd charge you $100 for consultation. I guess that's why we need lawyers in this province.

The one example I can give is that recently I was called upon to notarize a handwritten will by a woman who was involved in a situation on Prince Edward Island. At that time I was aware of the fact that I had to recognize, or she called upon me to recognize, the fact that this was actually her handwriting. This particular change is making it consistent with earlier amendments to the Wills Act, and of course that will be well-received in our community and around the province, making it easier for people with handwritten wills.

With those few comments, we look forward to this going to the Law Amendments Committee. It has the support of this caucus. Thank you, Mr. Minister.

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

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. I would like people's attention drawn to the gallery opposite. We have folks here visiting us from China, Taiwan and also from the City of Halifax. I would like welcome them to Canada, to Nova Scotia, to Halifax and to the Legislature and I would like to introduce them. Perhaps they could stand up and we could acknowledge them. Xu Jun-Jie, Tom Wu, Bruce Yeh, Robert Spence and Wendy Chen. (Applause)

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MR. SPEAKER: A warm welcome to all of our guests visiting us this afternoon.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise as Justice Critic to make a few remarks on Bill No. 13, the amendments to the Probate Act. As has been mentioned by the Minister of Justice, when we made the changes to the Wills Act, it was obvious the need was there as well to update the Probate Act. We are basically catching up here on something that should have been done at the same time as those changes.

Allow me to take the opportunity again - as a lawyer and a member of the Bar - to make a few comments on the issue of holograph wills, better known as handwritten wills. It's important that our legislation be there to recognize cases where there are handwritten wills, but I believe it is important for us, as legislators and important for the Minister of Justice to continue to caution Nova Scotians on using the practice of handwritten wills.

I have seen numerous people come through my office, both my law office and constituency office who have raised concerns about having a will, what's required and even the new legal will kits that are out. People's estates can be very complicated, especially if there are investments, if there are multiple property holdings, if there's insurance benefits that are there. The idea that the average person can sit there and simply write a handwritten will which will deal with all of the technicalities of their estate is one that is of great concern. That is why most lawyers will encourage people to go see an attorney to get their will done, rather than trying to write it on their own or rely on these homemade will kits that have been coming out.

I have been aware of many of the issues that have come up with people and with wills over the years. If there's one thing Nova Scotians do their best to avoid, it is having to pay any more taxes or fees on the administration of their estate than is required. There are very simple things that people can do - both in their will and in the administration of their estate - to avoid complications following their passing, many of which people are not aware of.

I can give you some obvious examples. The old practice here in Nova Scotia always was that when people were registering their deeds, it was registered in the husband's name only. That was on old practice, fortunately that practice has been changing and it's usually a joint tendency that is now taking place with the registration of these deeds. We're still seeing situations where seniors in Nova Scotia, once they pass, when it comes to the administration of their estate, the deed is still only in their name which causes issues with probate and creates complications which could easily have been avoided had the deed been changed prior to their passing.

Ownership of vehicles only being in one spouse's name creates difficulties and I've even seen a case where - what people don't realize is that while a will is there to take note

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of their wishes and everything else, there are some times when complications arise. For example, when you get life insurance, the person you put on as your beneficiary for that life insurance is who will be the beneficiary of that life insurance policy, regardless of what's in your will. There are many cases where individuals may change their minds over the years as to who they wish to be that beneficiary, yet they never change their insurance policy and they think that they're covered simply through their will. In many cases it has happened where people have changed spouses or decided they want a different beneficiary and they were not aware of that. Those are some of the dangers that people are not aware of and would not be told of unless they are going to see someone who is experienced on the issue of wills and estates, which is why I once again take this opportunity to remind Nova Scotians of the importance that they get proper advice when they are putting together their wills.

Handwritten wills should be an instrument of last resort, not something we encourage people to do because the last thing any Nova Scotian wants is that if they're leaving the wishes for their estate, that their wishes are not upheld because of the fact they did not properly indicate those through their last will and testament.

With that, I do look forward to any presentations we may receive at the Law Amendments Committee but certainly we would be supporting this bill going to that stage of the House.

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank my honourable colleagues for their interventions on Bill No. 13, the Probate Act, and indeed the honourable member for Richmond raised some very valuable points of concern to Nova Scotians. However, as you would also know, there are circumstances, as he has probably witnessed himself, where people have had a need to do that. So I do think he would have sage advice to offer to Nova Scotians as well as interventions from the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of the Probate Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 13. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 290]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise today to move second reading of Bill No. 7, amendments to the Motor Vehicle Act.

Mr. Speaker, we're seeing too many injuries and far too many fatalities this year and there's no simple solution to stopping this trend on our highways. That is the reason we need - and I stress need - to make several road safety amendments to the Act. We've introduced this bill to make our community safer and to address the concerns of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, street racing is a danger to the public and Nova Scotians will not tolerate such a dangerous activity. These amendments will give law enforcement officials and public prosecutors the tools they need to address street racing and other dangerous driving acts. Several provincial jurisdictions have addressed street racing through the provincial Motor Vehicle Act and traffic safety legislation, including Ontario, Manitoba and B.C. This activity is an emerging issue in Nova Scotia and we need to stop it before more Nova Scotians are killed or seriously injured. These amendments will increase penalties for street racing and related activities, including impounding vehicles for longer periods of time, suspending licences at the roadside, levying substantial fines, and significantly increasing consequences for repeat offenders. The amendments allow law enforcement officers to act immediately by suspending a driver's licence for seven days at roadside to prevent offenders from the temptation of reoffending.

Mr. Speaker, as you're aware, there are a large number of Nova Scotians operating vehicles with a suspended driver's licence. By impounding the vehicle, we're not only preventing reckless behaviour, we're protecting the law abiding driving public from these dangerous acts. Our measures will include immediate vehicle impoundment from 24 hours to seven days; increasing the fines for street racing summary offences from the current $250 to $1,000 for a first offence, from the current $500 to $5,000 for a second offence, and the current $1,000 to $10,000 for third and subsequent offences.

Mr. Speaker, these tough measures will send a message that Nova Scotia will not tolerate street racing in our communities. The police will have new tools to act immediately to curtail street racing and other extremely dangerous driving behaviours and the public prosecutors will have the ability to successfully prosecute offenders. Significant penalties will serve as a deterrent to street racing and other related behaviours.

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Mr. Speaker, this bill addresses serious concerns Nova Scotians have about cellular phone use and other driver distractions in motor vehicles. This bill makes it an offence to use a hand-held cellular telephone while operating a motor vehicle. Driver distraction and inattention are leading causes of crashes and taking action to address distractions will help to reduce injuries and deaths in Nova Scotia. It is estimated that about 20 per cent of crashes are linked to driver distraction.

Mr. Speaker, we are concerned for the safety of all Nova Scotians and evidence points to the fact that our young drivers are at the greatest risk of distractions inside the motor vehicle. Driver distraction is a growing concern for government and for Canadians. About 70 per cent of Canadians consider distractive driving a serious issue - up from just 40 per cent in the year 2001. An Angus Reid Poll conducted in 2007 found that 76 per cent of Canadians would support a federal ban on cellphones while behind the wheel. Here in our own province, a survey conducted by my department indicated that 88 per cent of Nova Scotians think it is unsafe to use a hand-held cellular phone while operating a motor vehicle.

Other road safety stakeholders have advocated for a total ban on mobile devices while operating a motor vehicle. To them, I would say consult with police forces as they are the agencies that have to enforce this legislation. Discussions I have had with Nova Scotia's policing community have convinced me that a ban on hand-held devices while operating a motor vehicle is enforceable while a hands-free ban would be problematic from an enforcement perspective.

Mr. Speaker, I believe it is incumbent upon all members of this House to create laws that are measured and enforceable. Cellular phone use, while it is just one form of driver distraction, is a growing problem. The amendments will also give us the ability, through regulation, to prohibit other specific distractions and include other electronic devices as technology changes so the government can respond effectively to new concerns as they arise.

Mr. Speaker, this government is committed to making crosswalks around the province safer for pedestrians and for motorists. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal has worked co-operatively with Halifax Regional Municipality in a joint crosswalk safety task force. This was to address our shared concerns over crosswalk safety. This government is deeply disturbed about deaths that have occurred at crosswalks, particularly in the Halifax Regional Municipality. The crosswalk-related rules and responsibility amendments are based on recommendations contained in the mid-term report from the Joint Crosswalk Safety Task Force. The final report for the task force is due shortly and it is expected to contain specific recommendations on education, engineering and enforcement aspect of crosswalk safety. While pedestrian fatalities have significantly declined in Nova Scotia over the past four years, I would urge all members of this House to agree that even one fatality is too many.

[4:15 p.m.]

[Page 292]

Since 2000, Nova Scotia has recorded 78 pedestrian fatalities; 11 fatalities occurred at crosswalks. My responsibility, as Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, is to do everything within my power to ensure that pedestrians and motorists are safe on Nova Scotia roads. These legislative amendments will clarify the responsibilities of pedestrians and drivers for crosswalk safety - an important first step in making crosswalks safer for Nova Scotians. Clarifying the present legislation enables the development of reliable enforcement strategies to respect pedestrians and educational materials to promote safer use of our crosswalks by pedestrians and increased awareness by drivers.

Fine levels for motorists who fail to yield to a pedestrian will be doubled and provide for an automatic seven-day suspension of licence. For a first offence, the fine will now be $500; for a second offence, the fine will be $1,000; and for a third and subsequent offence the fine will now be $2,000. In addition, a driver's licence will be suspended from the present 24-hour suspension to a new penalty of seven days. By suspending a driver's licence for a crosswalk infraction, we are sending a message that this is a serious infraction and attitudes must change regarding our streets if we are to save lives and have the necessary respect for our fellow citizens.

This government is committed to putting the necessary funding in place to educate the general public and targeted groups about the legislative changes. Public awareness is the key component to this legislation and the outcome that we hope to achieve. The bill will enable legislation for the use of red light enforcement cameras at intersections and also the use of photo radar on a trial basis.

Mr. Speaker, I know that all my colleagues in this House will agree that collisions at intersections account for a significant portion of our traffic injuries and deaths. One of the reasons is driver inattention but another major factor is racing through intersections to beat a red light. For the sake of trying to save a few minutes, too many lives have been lost and too many preventable injuries have occurred.

From 2001 to 2006, there have be 2,864 injuries and 10 fatalities recorded as a result of collisions at signalized intersections in Nova Scotia. Photo enforcement of speeding and red light violation programs will play an important role in reducing motor vehicle collisions, fatalities and serious injuries in Nova Scotia by encouraging drivers to improve their driving habits. The use of electronic image-capturing equipment, including photo radar safety cameras and intersection safety cameras is proven, Mr. Speaker, to make significant contributions to improving road safety by reducing speeding and intersection collisions.

Extensive research over the past 20 years and the positive results of image-capturing equipment in other provinces and in other jurisdictions support the implementation of a photo safety program in Nova Scotia. Where intersection safety programs are present, most jurisdictions have a very high compliance and violation frequency is significantly reduced.

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A 2007 U.S. study found that 40 per cent of collisions are intersection-related and that there was a 25 per cent decrease in right angle collisions after intersection safety cameras were installed. Evidence has shown that the presence of intersection safety cameras do improve driver behaviour. In Edmonton where an intersection safety camera program is in place, the number of tickets issued for violations declined from 172,000 in 2002 to half that, Mr. Speaker, at 88 in 2006. In Calgary where intersection safety cameras are in operation since 2001, right angle injury collisions decreased 44.4 per cent; right angle property damage collisions decreased by 27 per cent. As you can see, such measures as intersection safety cameras would drastically change driver attitudes.

Mr. Speaker, this government is not looking for revenue from motorists - rather, this is about seeing tangible results in addressing a very serious road safety issue. I want to highlight as well that in regard to a pilot project, that proper signage to warn the public they are entering into that type of a situation with photo radar would be well in advance of entering that area. Also, that charges would not necessarily result in every infraction; in fact, the threshold would be determined by the local police.

Mr. Speaker, another component of photo safety is a pilot project for photo radar. The province will institute an 18-month photo radar pilot program where the speed limit is 70 kilometres an hour or less. It should be noted that police agencies must apply to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal to seek approval on the location for a photo radar pilot project. There has to be sound and convincing data provided to warrant use at a particular location. Police have identified some locations where photo radar would be effective in reducing the instances of speeding that have chronically plagued our communities.

Mr. Speaker, it should be noted that photo radar is a monetary penalty only, where profits are mandated into road safety programs. No demerit points would apply to a person's driver record and the photo would be of the rear of the vehicle, capturing the licence plate. This is to ensure that privacy concerns are addressed about capturing a driver's identity. The owner of the vehicle would bear the financial penalty unless they can prove that the vehicle was used without their knowledge or consent.

The purpose of the 18-month photo radar pilot program is to measure the effectiveness of photo radar technology in reducing speed and collisions. The final six months of a pilot program will be used to evaluate its effectiveness. Other provinces, such as Alberta and Manitoba, have taken a similar approach in developing their photo safety programs. A recent study in British Columbia recorded a 14 per cent reduction in crashes at camera locations; a 19 per cent reduction at non-camera locations and a 16 per cent reduction along the study corridor.

In the State of Victoria, Australia study, where the State of Victoria has the most intensive photo radar strategy in the world, the following are facts from that area: the

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proportion of speeding vehicles in overall traffic flow decreased by 85 per cent; excessive speeding in excess of 30 kilometres over the limit decreased by 66 per cent; 16 per cent decreases in collisions: 21 per cent decrease in injury collisions, 30 per cent decrease in fatalities. Mr. Speaker, 92 per cent of offending motorists paid their penalty within 56 days. In July 2007, an Ipsos Reid poll marketing study found that 77 per cent of Canadians support the use of cameras for red light violations; 69 per cent support photo radar safety cameras in school zones.

Mr. Speaker, road safety is everyone's responsibility. These amendments will address safety concerns for motorists and people panhandling or offering services on a roadway without a permit. As the minister responsible for our roadways and highways, I take these duties very seriously. We're not going to wait until a tragedy happens at the Willow Tree or at another busy intersection to act. God forbid, Mr. Speaker, a serious injury or death should occur to someone who is on one of our roads.

Mr. Speaker, this is not about attacking the less fortunate in our communities; it is about protecting the less fortunate people who are now panhandling on the roadways. Our roads are meant to be used by vehicles and the public want efficient, safe roads on which to travel and this piece of legislation addresses this. The police and the public have made it clear that these activities pose a danger for both motorists and for individuals. At the same time, non-profit fundraising used in many communities across Nova Scotia can continue under these amendments, when they seek the approval and obtain a permit from the local traffic authority. These activities can be conducted in a safe and responsible manner.

Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 7, the Motor Vehicle Act. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise in my place today in my role as the newly-minted Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Critic to speak to this very important bill. I look forward to working very hard in my new critic role and I look forward to bringing many questions and concerns to the minister and to the House.

There's no question that safety on our highways is something that we all need to be very conscious of, and we are all very conscious of, for the safety and well-being of the motoring public and also many people who walk, bicycle and use other modes of transportation on our highways.

There's no question this is a very important bill to be moving forward, however, this is a collection of amendments thrown into one bill and I'm very concerned and puzzled as to how this bill is being presented - from squeegee kids to nitrous oxide being lumped together in the same bill shows that much in this bill has not been fully flushed out. I'm

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concerned there has been little to no consultation and I and my colleagues have questions around the lack of detail. We are concerned that those very important details will be left to the regulation process.

That being said, there are some very important pieces to this bill. In fact, they are so important to the safety of our streets, drivers and pedestrians that they should be standing on their own rather than being lumped into this one bill. It appears the government - I say, appears - is choosing to play politics with some of these amendments and that is somewhat problematic and raises many questions. Later, some of my colleagues will speak to those.

Safety of drivers, pedestrians and safety in general, as I said, is a huge concern. People have been injured or worse, killed, in vehicle and/or pedestrian accidents and one injury or one death is one too many. Unfortunately, in the last several weeks, we have heard and know of many people who have been injured and killed on our highways.

Some of the amendments my caucus can give support to include the initiatives to move forward with crosswalk safety. This amendment has been on hold for far too long. In fact, it was in 1999 when one of my colleagues, the then Transportation Critic, pressed the Liberal Government at the time to move forward with crosswalk safety. Again, the same member questioned the Progressive Conservative Government in 2001.

In 2004 several road safety initiatives were recommended by Transport Canada. While those initiatives were implemented in other jurisdictions, unfortunately, they were not pursued by this government. Today the minister acknowledges that since 2000 at least 78 accidents have happened in our crosswalks.

Moving forward with this bill now, this amendment, is a very good thing. However, it is most unfortunate, especially for those like the family of Mary-Beth Chaulk who was struck by a car on March 11, 2006. So, coming forward with this crosswalk safety initiative is something we will encourage. This amendment needs and should provide clarity of responsibility of both drivers and pedestrians.

Increasing the fines for those who exceed the speed limit while driving through school zones and temporary work places is something we also can support. The many work crews and children and adults in our school areas, on our highways, need to be assured their safety comes first. Drivers who fail to comply will need to be held accountable and for that we feel this is a good initiative coming forward in this bill.

The amendment in this bill regarding street racing is welcome, but I am puzzled when in August of this year when my Leader announced our Party would put forward legislation on street racing, this government was silent and when asked, said they would ask the road safety advisory committee on any steps that they should take.

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So we are flattered today that the government has decided to take action on an NDP idea by coming forward with this amendment. We will, however, be examining the details of this bill to ensure the adequate safety measures are in place and will rate it in comparison to our Leader's bill.

Another aspect of this bill I would like to talk about is the amendment that prohibits the use of hand-held cellular phones. This amendment is one we have been supporting for some time. In fact, for those of you who can remember, it was a former NDP member, Jerry Pye, who had tabled this bill time and time and time again in years past. Now, finally, Jerry Pye's bill is being taken seriously.

I think most of us can say we have been guilty of using a cellphone while driving. I know I'm one of the guilty offenders, but I can tell you today, in all honesty, since I got a hand-held device several months ago, that I'm working very hard and will ensure that this is one rule of the road that I will adhere to, as many of us will. So this amendment will certainly reinforce for all of us what a dangerous practice this is.

[4:30 p.m.]

We do, though, have many concerns and questions about the government's amendment, or rather the lack of definitions of prohibited driver distractions, or distracting activity. In this bill there is no clarity, and the government once again will rely on regulations to define distracting activity. Some of our questions are in the definitions. Will drivers' distracting activity include drinking coffee, listening to the radio, chatting with a passenger, perhaps eating a hamburger, or maybe listening to the chatter of children in the backseat, all of which can be considered to be forms of distraction. Leaving this to the regulatory process removes the responsibility from this government to take leadership. This amendment needs to have very clear and rational definitions.

Photo radar and red-light cameras are another aspect of this bill. Here we have many questions. Again, as with this entire bill, there is a lack of detail and a lack of clarity. We would be interested to know who this government has consulted with, or will this be another example of this government not fully flushing out this important piece of legislation. We would like to see further development of this amendment. The 18-month pilot project suggested for photo radar and red-light cameras needs to be reviewed after the 18-month period and brought back to the House for debate as to the results and effectiveness, and whether or not this pilot should continue.

There are other problem areas with this bill, such as prohibiting certain activities on highways that pose a risk to safety. And because we have so many concerns around this aspect of the bill, again it is not clear, again it singles out certain individuals within our society, it seems to be discriminating in some ways, and we really need to see some

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discussion and clarity around this aspect of the bill. Some of my other colleagues have concerns and questions and will be speaking to this very issue a little later on.

Overall, we do feel that this bill is still an important bill and does point out some good areas, and which I suggested earlier, ideas that have come from NDP members in the past. We do feel that this bill should move forward to the Law Amendments Committee, bearing in mind the concerns that I have laid out. Details are important to the success of any bill and consultation should be on the front end rather than after the fact or after regulations are already put in place.

I trust that the government and the minister will take our concerns and our suggestions seriously, should this bill move forward. I look forward to further discussion on some of the suggestions made here. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I want to take the opportunity to thank our Critic for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for allowing me the opportunity to say a few words on this. The honourable member for Clare has always been a great member of our caucus.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of elements to Bill No. 7 which one would argue are not only road safety but do have a justice element to them, especially when we're talking about the amount of fines, new infractions, that are contained within it.

I want to start with the comments I raised last night and I want to raise again; when the current Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal was the Minister of Justice, he would recall that many times, as Justice Critic, I lamented his introduction of Justice Administration bills. What he was doing with those bills was making wholesale changes to a number of pieces of legislation and he was putting it under one bill.

In many ways, many of the changes in the bill might not have been cause for concern but there were maybe one or two that did create cause for concern, which left us in a difficult situation of saying, do you say no to all of the changes because you don't like one or two, or do you pass the bill and hold your nose because there are some good changes contained with it?

He continued to do that, as Minister of Justice, regardless of the protests that I continued to make and as I said last night, the new Minister of Justice seems to have taken a different approach, bringing in separate bills dealing with separate issues, allowing us to be able to debate and explain to Nova Scotians clearly what these changes are meant to do.

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Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 7 is very similar to the Justice Administration Act, where it contains significant changes, some of which obviously would be supported by all members of this House, but others, I would submit to you, deserve further reflection by members of the House of Assembly, further reflection by Nova Scotians because there are significant changes that are being made here. We are being given statistics by the minister to back up his belief that these changes should be made, but it is important that we take the time as legislators to look at some of the other statistics which seem to fly in the face of some of the information we've been given by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and by members of his staff regarding this particular bill.

Mr. Speaker, I wanted to take the opportunity tonight to explain a bit better to Nova Scotians about what exactly is being proposed in Bill No. 7. Looking at it quickly, I've been able to break it down to at least six significant changes being proposed under this one piece of legislation. First, is the creation of image-capturing enforcement system in Nova Scotia, better known as photo radar. The second major item is the pedestrian-activated beacon, which is being put in place to help with crosswalk safety and safety at intersections in Nova Scotia. The third major item is dealing with street racing, where we talk about increased fines and increased suspension for anyone who is caught undertaking that activity.

The fourth major item deals with prohibited driver distractions but goes on to only specify hand-held cellular phones as the one item that is in the legislation. I'll talk more about that later.

The fifth major item that I see in this bill is proposing to double fines for speeding in temporary work areas, and the sixth major item in this legislation would be prohibiting solicitation along roadways, which I will speak about later but is better known as a ban on squeegee kids and the poor, soliciting drivers in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start with the issue of photo radar, more importantly, what has photo radar done in other provinces because it is not a new concept, it has been done in other provinces. It has been used in Alberta since 1988 and continues to be used. Ontario tried it from 1994 to 1995 when they got rid of it and British Columbia, I understand, had it but either ended their program or greatly reduced it.

Mr. Speaker, some of the benefits of photo radar which we are told to research is that photo radar is one of the tools available to police to enforce safe driving. Public advisories, consistent use of signage and clear criteria for selecting sites that have been identified as high risk will promote the appropriate application of this tool. Photo radar, we are told, combined with other speed enforcement methods, can help lower the number of collisions and fatalities on our roads. Signage - for photo radar to work appropriately - should inform drivers about photo radar locations.

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Locations where photo radar could be used include where conventional enforcement is unsafe or ineffective, areas with a history of collisions, areas with an identifiable documented history of speeding problems, high speed multi-lane arteries, school and playground zones, construction zones, areas where the public or a community has expressed concerns related to speeding and problems are assessed and confirmed by enforcement agencies responding to public concern.

Mr. Speaker, the benefit of photo radar tells us that the public should be made aware of what the problems are and be encouraged to help identify problem areas. The public should also be aware of what is being done to correct or manage the problem and should be informed on a regular basis of the results, either positive or negative, of using photo radar.

Mr. Speaker, an analysis of photo radar use in Calgary between 2001 and 2004 found a 29 per cent decrease in collisions at 20 sites where that type of radar is used. Some law enforcement officials favour photo radar but only if police officers monitor the technology and are there to pull over the cars.

Mr. Speaker, according to the findings of a poll conducted on behalf of the Canada Safety Council, it said that the percentage of Canadians who support the use of photo radar to identify vehicles that break the speed limit in school zones is 84 per cent. The percentage of Canadians who support the use of photo radar in identifying vehicles that break the speed limit on the highway, 69 per cent; and the percentage of Canadians who support the use of cameras to identify vehicles that go through intersections after a traffic light has turned red is 77 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, last year 14 people died in the Halifax Regional Municipality because of car crashes. Already in 2007, 18 people have died in auto accidents, speeding being the predominant issue is what we are told. A 2005 study of British Columbia experience attributed 1,542 injuries and 70 fatal collisions averted thanks to photo radar. Some of the same information that was shared by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal when he first spoke on this.

Mr. Speaker, there is another side to photo radar after those statistics I have just provided. One of the examples we should look at - because knowing that photo radar isn't something new - is what has happened in other jurisdictions that have used photo radar. Let's look at Ontario. They used photo radar from 1994 to 1995. Today, highway fatalities are up in Ontario and many are calling for the return of photo radar in that province yet, for one reason or another, the government refuses to bring back photo radar. Why is that? That is the question we need to ask because we are being asked to implement a system that Ontario had, Ontario got rid of and which Ontario, to this day, refuses to bring back to their province. So why is that?

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Mr. Speaker, in Ontario, the photo radar system was cancelled by the PC Government of Mike Harris as it was clearly politically unpopular. Why was it unpopular? Some argue that photo radar isn't a way to stop fatal highway accidents. British Columbia got rid of photo radar in 2001 and Alberta still uses it, yet photo radar failed to end deaths on their highways as proved by the statistics. Don McDermott, the retired Assistant Commissioner of the RCMP did a comprehensive study in 2004 for the Province of Alberta. He concluded that photo radar is not a substitute for investments in human policing, driver training, and safer highway infrastructure.

Mr. Speaker, the other thing that we need to keep in mind is that there is a cost that comes with setting up photo radar in our province. In B.C., for example, in 1996, 11 years ago, the total cost to set up photo radar in that province was $60 million - $60 million 11 years ago. What would that cost be to our province today if we are going to implement photo radar?

What many of the critics of the system said is that a $60 million investment requires you to issue many tickets to be able to pay for this investment. Mr. Speaker, because of this, there were accusations that the governments of the day were putting photo radars in inconspicious spots rather than advertising the presence of photo radar locations - the idea of trying to obtain as many tickets as possible. Some of the critics of photo radar have called them cash-grab machines rather than instruments of public safety. Why would they call them cash-grab machines? Well, in the City of Calgary, which the minister quoted some of the statistics from that city, one of the statistics he did not quote, though, was that in 2005, the City of Calgary collected $11.5 million in revenue from photo radar tickets - $11.5 million. Now, was that just a one-year event? Not at all, because in 2004, the same City of Calgary collected $12.5 million from photo radar, which is why Nova Scotians need to ask themselves if photo radar is strictly there for public safety on our roads or is it meant to increase revenues for cities and for the province. I simply put that out there, again, for Nova Scotians to consider if we want photo radar in light of some of those statistics and in light of the fact that Ontario, that had it, got rid of it, and is rejecting any notion of bringing it back.

Mr. Speaker, the other issue that many of the critics of photo radar will say is that it is irresponsible to believe that speeding is always the major factor in highway accidents. In Ontario in 2004, there were 1,208 highway deaths. Of those 1,208 only 84 were attributed to illegal speeding. In 2006, the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a study which said that 80 per cent of all police-reported car crashes were caused by driver distractions, not by speed. I know the minister has talked about driver distractions, and I'll be talking a bit more about that.

Mr. Speaker, what's most ironic is that if we look over at Germany, which has the autobahn, which has no speed limits - and we've all heard the stories about the autobahn - it has fewer fatalities in Germany than we have here in Canada with posted speed limits. So,

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again, something to keep in mind when Canadians are being asked whether photo radar should be implemented in this province.

Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Police Association, for example, has said that while they support photo radar, they only support it if it's administered by a police officer, because they argue that as part of discouraging people from speeding, it takes education, and it takes a police officer to be there to administer the ticket, explain why the person is being given a ticket and try to deter the person from doing it again. So even the Canadian Police Association doesn't seem to be in favour of bringing in photo radars that are not manned by police officers.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the question becomes, what type of system are we proposing here in Nova Scotia through Bill No. 7? From what I can understand from photo radar, there are two different systems, one has the vehicle which is manned inside by a peace officer, the other is a roadside camera that's automated and just does its work and doesn't need an actual person to operate that camera. I am still unclear as to which of those two the minister is suggesting that we bring in here to Nova Scotia. Maybe he can clarify that afterwards.

Mr. Speaker, what is being suggested here through Bill No. 7 for Nova Scotians is an 18-month trial period. I realize that the critic from the Official Opposition indicated there should be a review of it. Well, there is a review that is proposed in the legislation, a six-month review in fact, within that 18-month period, the last six months of the 18-month period would include a review but I didn't know her added suggestion that following that review it would be brought to the Legislature for discussion. I surely agree with her on that and commend her for that suggestion and would hope that the minister would consider it, after his pilot project of bringing the matter back to the floor here so the elected members of this province can debate the issue rather than Cabinet making a decision behind closed doors.

As part of the trial period, we are told that the sites will be chosen by the minister and I believe the minister's comments were that he will be hearing requests and, as a result of that, making a final decision on which sites will be approved for this trial period. What is interesting as well, Mr. Speaker, I should note that in his proposal, in this trial period, the minister has, as well, included in Bill No. 7 that the trial period will only take place in zones and on highways where the maximum speed limit is 70 kilometres per hour or less. So basically, I interpret from that that these photo radar cameras will not be put on our 100-Series Highways because for the most part all of our 100-Series Highways have a maximum speed limit of more than 70 kilometres per hour. So it would appear that the trial period would take place mostly within city or municipal environments rather than on our 100-Series Highways.

So that is something, again, I think is important, as we debate this bill, that Nova Scotians be made aware of, that this is not a system that is going to be put on our 100-Series Highways but instead will be put in the cities. I did note that the Chief of the Halifax

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Regional Police was here when the bill briefing took place. He gave a list of some of the different streets here in Halifax Regional Municipality where he would like to see the system put in place. So, again, that is an important element of this bill that I think Nova Scotians need to be aware of.

The other important element here, Mr. Speaker, and I think you indicated previously to me in conversation, that it is similar in Alberta, that if this photo radar does get your licence plate showing that you are going at an excessive speed in these zones, it is the owner of the vehicle who will be issued the ticket. So there will be an onus on owners of vehicles to keep in mind who was driving their vehicle because they may not necessarily been at the wheel when the photo radar was picking up their licence plate.

If I am not mistaken, the bill also says that the only image that will be taken is of the licence plate and of nothing else. I certainly look forward to seeing how that system would work because, Mr. Speaker, that brings in a whole host of privacy issues as well for Nova Scotian drivers if that image is taking more than just the licence plate and is instead looking at the activities within the vehicle which, with all due respect, is none of the business of our Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal or of the government. Again, we are told that the system would only look at the actual licence plate.

The other important element for Nova Scotians to keep in mind is that in Bill No. 7 it does indicate that if you are to receive a fine under the photo radar system, it will not impact your point system. Now as we all know, today if you are stopped for speeding you accumulate points on your licence. Back in the old days, you used to lose points. Now, I believe, you accumulate points. I haven't had too much experience with the system, which I am happy to report so I am not overly certain on how that point system works and I consider that to be a good thing that I am not an expert on that. Former members of this Legislature had much more experience with the point system, personally, than I have had and I don't wish to ever have that.

I think it's an important element as well, Mr. Speaker, because if we are going to implement a system that relies upon an image to find you guilty, then I believe that it is important to keep in mind that the point system will not apply as compared to the traditional way of being stopped for speeding where the police officer issues you a ticket and, there, certainly, you will accumulate points.

The other important element in here, which goes to the issue I've raised of our photo radar, it's a cash cow. What the minister has put in the bill, is to say that any excess in revenues - once the capital costs of setting up photo radar has been put in place - any additional revenues have to go toward road safety. Again, road safety is not described. It is left to the regulations and, again, it is difficult for us to determine what does road safety mean. But, obviously, Mr. Speaker, it does indicate that; we don't know what sort of revenues are going to be brought in, but that's put in the bill.

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Mr. Speaker, what's not in the bill regarding photo radar? The minister, in his comments on second reading, indicated that without a doubt proper signage would be put in place where photo radar is present. My submission to him is if that's the case, put it in the bill, make it a requirement in the legislation, through Bill No. 7, that any place that photo radar is put in the Province of Nova Scotia it needs to have proper signage, as per legislation.

With all due respect, the minister saying that he will make sure that that happens is not good enough if we're going to put in photo radar. Again, Mr. Speaker, I think you can tell from my comments that I'm still not sure about photo radar. I've given the pros, I've given the cons, and I think it's important as part of this debate that Nova Scotians consider both sides, which is what I've tried to give in my address on second reading, the pros and the cons.

I know the minister has been big on giving us the pros, and he has not shared many, if any, of the cons, but it is important to realize, Mr. Speaker, and we need to ask ourselves, there's no doubt that all of us are interested in road safety, the question is, is photo radar the answer or is it simply a distraction from getting to the real root of problems of road safety here in this province?

Let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, in my own opinion, while I've said I'm not sure about photo radar, one thing I am sure of, a big element of road safety that is not in Bill No. 7 is asphalt, because asphalt and better roads are what brings road safety. I need to tell you, Mr. Speaker, since 1999, this province has been under a Progressive Conservative Government. It pains me to no end that each week when I make the commute back to my riding, to see that since 1999, almost eight years, there is not yet a piece of asphalt that has been put to twin the highway from New Glasgow to the Canso Causeway - eight years, yet we hear announcements for Antigonish which we're going to have to wait 10 years or eight years before we're going to see.

Mr. Speaker, that's road safety and that's negligence by this government, because while they focus on Highway No. 101 and a bit on Highway No. 103, for almost eight years Highway No. 104 was completely neglected. If there's one thing, as a member from Richmond, from the Strait area, I really expected last year, with the election of a Premier from Inverness, a Minister of Transportation from Antigonish, and a Minister of Fisheries and Aquaculture from Guysborough, that we were finally going to see action and a plan to twin that highway from New Glasgow straight to the Canso Causeway.

Again, it disappoints me to no end, as I stand here today, that no such plan exists. A piecemeal approach is what has been taken, and road safety continues to be a big problem. Statistics continue to show - and many Nova Scotians don't realize this - that Highway No. 101 is not the most dangerous stretch of highway in this province. I believe the minister and his staff know that, and the former minister would know that - Highway No. 104, from New Glasgow down to Sydney, is the most dangerous highway for fatalities there is in Nova

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Scotia. That has been shown time and time again, yet, unfortunately, it has not been given the attention, and Bill No. 7 fails to address the concern over safety on that important stretch of highway not only for road safety, but for the overall economic development of eastern Nova Scotia that would come with the twinning of that highway.

So, on photo radar, Mr. Speaker, I think there needs to be more discussion, because this is a significant plan that's being proposed for our province, one that has been abandoned by British Columbia, one that Ontario had and has abandoned, and Premier Dalton McGuinty continues to say to this day, no photo radar for Ontario, and yet our Progressive Conservative Government here in Nova Scotia says yes to photo radar for Nova Scotia.

Nova Scotians need to be given an opportunity to fully reflect on whether they want that implemented in this province. I'm not confident that the way our legislative system has been working in the last few sessions, that they will be given the ample opportunity to accurately and timely reflect on these changes and whether it's something they want for us here in our province.

The minister has talked about crosswalk safety and some of the changes that he has implemented. No one could argue against crosswalk safety. What is unclear to me, is in one sense the minister's bringing forward changes, yet, when he's asked more questions about crosswalk safety he says, no, I have a review committee that I'm waiting to hear from. Well, why are we bringing forward changes if the review committee hasn't finished its work? Why are we not bringing them all in?

One of the things, Mr. Speaker, that both you and my colleague, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, have been very adamant in pushing for is red lights at crosswalks. I know the minister was asked that question and he said, I'm waiting for the review committee, I have to let them do their work. So we're asked to look at changes now, yet, we're unsure whether more changes will be coming or not. I do hope the minister seriously considers the issue of red lights at some of the problematic crosswalks that we have because too many Nova Scotians are being injured and too many lives are being lost because of crosswalk dangers that we have here in our province and especially here in the City of Halifax.

But there is no doubt it was important to the legislation to clearly set out what were the responsibilities of the pedestrian, what were the responsibilities of the drivers and that is mentioned here. As far as the increase in the fines, there is no doubt that that is something that would be supported, I'm sure, by all members of this House. Again, that goes to the challenge with this piece of legislation because while I've given you significant concerns over photo radar, I don't share the same level of concerns with the proposal for crosswalk safety, yet we're asked to vote yea or nay on everything put together.

The recommendations towards street racing is something again that is long overdue here in our province. We've seen too many cases of young people losing their lives, innocent

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people being killed because of street racing. It's no use for us to deny that it takes place, it's a reality and it has been such for quite some time and we're pleased the government is finally taking action on this to try to deter Nova Scotians as much as possible to not undertake this very unsafe and dangerous practice. Maybe the threat of seizure of vehicles is going to help in that deterrence. Only time will tell, but it clearly sends an important signal out to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, we're pleased as well because, as you will recall, my colleague from the Liberal caucus for Glace Bay did introduce legislation banning hand-held cellphoness in Nova Scotia. This is an issue we have supported and that we continue to support. The problem with this is that, once again, this government is asking to govern Nova Scotia through regulation. They're asking the Legislature to adopt these general concepts and saying, leave the rest to us, we'll take care of it in the Cabinet Room, behind closed doors and then we will show you how it's going to actually work in the day-to-day operation. I would submit that is not the way a well-functioning democracy should work.

Yes, are there specifics in regulations that don't necessarily need to be put in front of the House? There probably are, very technical specific stuff. Yet, when we are told the legislation makes reference to prohibited driver distractions, the only one mentioned in Bill No. 7 is hand-held cellphones. By voting yes to this, we're leaving it to say- Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, go back to Cabinet, go with your colleagues, sit behind closed doors and you tell us everything else that you think might be a prohibited driver distraction.

That's not good enough and I have a concern with giving the minister that type of authority without having to come back to this Legislature and seek the approval of the elected members of the House.

Again, this is an element where in principle we support, but the way the bill is worded, in Bill No. 7 and the fact that it's mixed in with everything else causes us concerns. I would submit to the minister that he may want to reflect on how that specific clause is presented because I believe a change in language and removing his ability to regulation to determine what prohibited driver distractions are, may make it easier for us to consider support of that specific provision.

I had the opportunity to be on a radio talk show with the Justice Critic of the Official Opposition just the other day and too many people believe that when you say you want to ban handheld cellphones, it's just to stop people from having the phone up to their ear. What people need to realize is, that's just one thing people do with cellphones. There is now text messaging and believe it or not, Mr. Speaker, people hold the steering wheel and yet use their two thumbs to text message while they are driving. Not only do they text messages, now you can check your e-mail on your cellphone while you're driving and you can read your e-mails

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- scroll down while you're driving, and now most cellphones allow you to browse the Web while you're driving.

You know, Mr. Speaker, it's important to realize that these are extremely dangerous activities and I would like to tell you that it's not only older Nova Scotians who are doing this, but we've got 16-year-olds who are just learning how to drive who are learning how to text messages while learning how to drive. You know this is a serious concern and it's something that we need to take very seriously. To minimalize it by saying, it's just to stop people from putting their cellphone up to their ear, it's not the case.

So I think it's extremely important that we have the discussion about what is appropriate use of a cellphone in a vehicle. Is having an earpiece sufficient to not be distracted? Is it a complete ban on using the cellphone unless an emergency situation as mentioned in the bill? Which one is it? Is pressing your rearview mirror to talk to OnStar to ask them whether the restaurant down the road is still open or how to get to the local motel in a certain community - is that a safe practice? Those are all discussions that, unfortunately, the bill doesn't set out for us. We're instead told that the proposal is to ban the use of handheld cellphones and nothing else.

I will submit to you again, Mr. Speaker, it's not enough because I don't think it's enough for us as legislators to be able to go back and say I voted this way on Bill No. 7 because I had all the details in front of me and I felt they were reasonable, or I didn't think they were reasonable and I sought to make changes. I think we need to see more information on that before we can make a responsible decision because it is an important issue and, as I mentioned, in some of the statistics, while we blame driving and excessive speed on many of the accidents, the statistics show us that driver distraction is the main cause of accidents and fatalities on our roads here in Nova Scotia. I think the minister has recognized that in some of the changes that are being proposed.

Mr. Speaker, we see as well where the minister is proposing to double the fines for speeding in temporary work areas. Again, these are issues which have been raised by members from all sides of the House. We've talked about school zones. We've talked about work zones. This is something again that would not be a problem for us to support but, as I mentioned before, it's again mixed in with other items which are a bit more cause for concern when one looks at them. Yet, unfortunately, we're being asked to consider them all in one bill.

Now, Mr. Speaker, the final major one in here - and there are significant smaller changes, but one of the final ones is the one that deals with the prohibition of solicitation along roadways here in Nova Scotia. All of us here as elected members who travel to the city from all the different corners of our province - it would be impossible for you to travel inside this city or go any distance in this city without encountering at intersections for the most part young people, some not so young, who are either asking to clean your windshield, known as

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squeegee kids, or people who are walking with signs asking for people to give them money. This is a phenomena which is not new in our country or not new in the world, but I can tell you it's something that I don't think you saw very much of 10 years ago, but you certainly see a lot of it here in HRM in the last number of years.

My question when I look at this is, is this section of the bill really aimed at improving driver safety and road safety or is it a means of trying to make disappear a social problem that exists here in our province? At the end of the day, Mr. Speaker, if we are being asked to vote yes to make sure that there is no longer anyone at intersections holding a sign asking for help, there is no longer anyone asking to clean our windshield, one would expect in return the government would say, here is what our plan is to help these individuals. Yet this bill was introduced last week, there is no bill that has come forward to say, here is what Plan B is if you vote in favour of this change.

Mr. Speaker, our Leader of the Liberal Caucus has been very adamant - both during his leadership campaign, prior to his leadership campaign and since becoming Leader - about the issue of poverty here in Nova Scotia, not just in Halifax but throughout the province. The fact that we, as legislators, need to do more to ensure that Nova Scotians are given equal opportunity to enjoy a good quality of life here in this province and good opportunities. Too many people, as the years go by, are being left behind. We have a choice, as legislators, where we can look the other way and try to make the problem disappear without addressing it or will the government say, vote in favour of this because it's a road safety issue but no, but here is what our plan is to deal with the social root of why people are standing at our intersections and our roadways to start off with.

I can't blame the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal for this because I can see where he is talking about road safety and that is part of his bill but he is a member of government and he is a member of a larger Cabinet. He has an opportunity, as well, to be able to say to his colleagues, if I am going to be banning squeegee kids and people from soliciting at intersections, you need to do something in return to help them out - and that is not happening here.

Again, Mr. Speaker, as I have said throughout my entire speech, this is an element that is being packaged in with other items which we have no problems supporting but this is another element of this bill where we have concerns. Unfortunately, the fact that it is all being bundled into one bill puts us in a difficult position of either saying yes to everything, even though there are concerns that we have and changes that we would like to see, or saying no to everything, knowing that there are some very positive elements contained within this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I believe Bill No. 7 is one that members of this House should take the time to debate. I have tried, tonight, to give different statistics, a difference side of photo radar than what was presented by the minister. I would encourage other members to reflect

[Page 308]

on some of these changes as well and to be able to allow Nova Scotians the opportunity to tell us if they support these changes. With all due respect, I don't think we can just simply send this off to the Law Amendments Committee and then decide afterwards because Nova Scotians need to hear from us, prior to going to the Law Amendments Committee to determine if there are any concerns with this. Sending this bill to the Law Amendments Committee by only hearing the statistics quoted by the Minister of Justice about the benefits of photo radar is not an appropriate debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

MR. SAMSON: The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, I apologize. But only listening to that side, Mr. Speaker, and then sending it to the Law Amendments Committee, most Nova Scotians would be left with the impression that the Opposition believes photo radar is only a good thing, there is no down side to it. He did not share in his presentation the Ontario experience. He did not share the fact that B.C. got rid of it. He did not share the fact that even though the police are asking for it in Ontario, the government continues to say no, there have to be other ways of reducing speed and reducing road accidents other than going back to photo radar.

So those are some of the challenges that are faced in this legislation. I hope I have given an opportunity to Nova Scotians listening and to members of this House to reflect on some of the concerns with this bill and some of the positive elements that are contained in the legislation. I do look forward to the debate that will take place from other members of the House. We will then be going to the Law Amendments Committee and see what is going to happen at that stage but, Mr. Speaker, as I have indicated to you, I have issues with the bill. I have not made any final determinations on the bill and I await to see what the further discussion is going to be on this as we move forward to closure on second reading and the vote as to whether this bill does move forward or not in its current state.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston on an introduction.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Yes. Thank you very much. I'd like to make an introduction in the west gallery if I could, one very special person in my life, my brother, Richard Colwell, is here and with him is Dilip Mukhedkar - if I've pronounced your name improperly, I apologize for that. Dilip is a senior engineer, actually the director of marine ship support for all the navy ships in Canada. A very important individual to be here and supports our troops when we have to move around on our ships. My brother also works at HMCS Dockyard and he's responsible for keeping all the generators working in all the ships. They both have very important jobs that support our country and the people in the country, along with all the great people that work with them, so I'd like the House to offer them a warm welcome for being here. (Applause)

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

[Page 309]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure this evening to join in the debate on Bill No. 7 with respect to the amendments proposed by the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal in respect to the Motor Vehicle Act.

[5:15 p.m.]

My colleague for Richmond did an adequate job of setting out the various pieces of this legislation, and I'd just like to add my commentary on a number of those particular aspects of the bill which I think are important for people to understand.

I guess I will start off with photo radar as well. Photo radar, in fact, has had a very mixed experience across the country, as my colleague pointed out. In this particular bill, there's a proposal for a pilot project set out over 18 months, and I think if it is going to be a pilot project, then it should in fact be a real pilot project. That's what the legislation should authorize - there should be an 18-month period for the government, there should be a proper report generated, and that report should come back to the House of Assembly because that would inform the debate about whether or not you actually wanted to go ahead with photo radar.

The bill itself should not allow the government to simply say they're going to have a pilot project and then at the end of it, no matter what the report says, just extend photo radar as a fact in the province without coming back to the Legislature and saying, here's what our report found, here were the recommendations and we're just going to go ahead and, without any debate in the Legislature, continue with photo radar.

If it's going to be a pilot project, it really should be a pilot project. Then, once the results of that project are known and the report comes back to the Legislature, we could have a fuller debate on the merits of whether or not Nova Scotians would want to see photo radar implemented on a full-time basis in the province. So that would be the first thing.

The second thing - and this is something I know I've mentioned on a number of occasions, certainly in the public discussion when people have asked me about photo radar, I've related to them the experience I've had in other countries where they have a very specific use for photo radar. They say the purpose of photo radar is to slow down the traffic and to make sure that people actually obey the speed limits - it's not meant to be a cash cow; it's not meant to generate more money for the province.

What they do is they actually put up signs in advance to warn people that the photo radar is going to be there. This kind of notice, the notice provisions - and the minister is saying he agrees with this - are important. We do this all the time already in the province. We do that on the bridge; I've seen neighbourhood signs that say the speed is monitored by radar in this area; and when we were using the airplanes to monitor speed on the highways, there were signs up around the province. In fact, some of them are still up - I don't know if they

[Page 310]

still use the airplanes or not, but the signs are still up. I don't know if they still use the airplanes or not but the signs are still there and the markings on the highway are still there so that was a function of notice with respect to the use of photo radar.

It seems to me - and I have had this discussion also with RCMP officers, they told me that they are not tax collectors for the government. They are there as a function of public safety, to be a presence on the highway, to be a presence on the street and to slow down the traffic and to make sure that people are essentially doing the things that they ought to be doing which is obeying the speed limits.

So, Mr. Speaker, those are my comments with respect to photo radar. I think it ought to be an actual pilot project with a report back to the Legislature and then the full debate on whether or not we are going to implement it as a program province wide.

I don't know and I am not trying to question the member for Richmond's reading of the legislation because he is certainly perfectly competent to do that, but he talked about the fact that points accumulated as a result of a photo radar offence wouldn't be counted against your licence and that is not actually true. You have to be able to satisfy the court that you were not the driver of the car and if you can satisfy the court that you were not the driver, then the points wouldn't count against your licence. It's still an offence if you are the owner of the vehicle. That's what it says in the legislation. (Interruption) Okay, that is not what the legislation says, no it doesn't, but if that is what the minister intends, that there will be no points, then it is going to need to be spelled out better than it is in the legislation currently because it very specifically says, and I don't mind reading the actual section, if I can find it, with respect to the question of points. Maybe I will come back to it if I can find it as we complete the debate.

AN HON. MEMBER: Clause 15.

MR. DEXTER: Clause 15, Section 259A(2), "Subsection (1) does not apply if the owner satisfies the court that, at the time that the vehicle was involved in the offence, (a) the owner was not driving the motor vehicle; and (b) no other person was driving the motor vehicle with the owner's expressed or implied consent. (3) A person who is guilty of an offence pursuant to this Section is not liable to imprisonment in respect . . ."

AN HON. MEMBER: Subsection 3.

MR. DEXTER: ". . . and the point system table . . . does not apply to that offence." (Interruption) Well, I will take my friend's interpretation. (Laughter) But it's not clear to me that that is the case. (Interruption) He says he had to read it few times. Anyway, as I say, it isn't clear to me - I understand the intention, it isn't clear to me that that is actually what the legislation does.

[Page 311]

The member for Richmond points out that with respect to photo radar this clause of the bill is something that there is not going to be unanimity in the province on. There probably isn't unanimity among the caucuses with respect to it and it's unfortunate when they become omnibus bills in this way. Because although you might agree with much of what is in the bill and, for example, the crosswalk safety piece which doesn't seem to me is controversial in any way, you want to support that but you might not necessarily want to support the photo radar section. You are going to have to balance those things off in determining the bill but perhaps there are things that can be done to try to make the bill a better bill as it goes through the Law Amendments Committee.

The street racing piece - and I find this interesting because I first proposed a bill with respect to street racing some time ago. I laid out what I thought the elements of it should be. I came back and introduced and set out for the public a second kind of draft of the street racing bill. It seems that much of what I proposed in that legislation is contained in this. So this is the real problem on our highways, it has become more evident over the years. I heard from a gentleman shortly after I had introduced mine and he said that he had lost his son some years ago in a street race. His son was participating in it and that's the thing - it's not just the innocent bystanders, it is the kids who are involved in it as well. I say kids - I know they are not all kids but in this case they were. He said he had wished that this kind of legislation had been around in those years and perhaps if the gravity of the offence was understood, circumstances would have been different in his family.

These things profoundly affect. The consequences of street racing are so grave that we have to do whatever we can to try and drive home to potential offenders that it is not going to be tolerated on our streets and the ability to demand the surrender of a licence and the impound of a vehicle, which sometimes seems extreme, in the circumstances I think is a reasonable limitation on people's rights.

I also note that originally, when I first proposed this, there were some on the government benches who said it wasn't necessary, that we didn't have to go forward with this kind of legislation because it wasn't an epidemic on our highways. I'm glad to see that the government relented in relation to this particular offence. I think it is one that deserves the attention of the Legislature and I'm pleased to see that this piece of the bill is in; much like the points piece, we're going to look at it again and try to reread it and make sure that it's doing what it is supposed to be doing because to make a mistake on it would not serve a proper legislative function.

On the cellphone ban, around here we kind of refer to that as the Jerry Pye bill. Jerry introduced that legislation on a number of occasions over the years. He talked about what he considered to be a real problem on our highways. The member for Richmond pointed out there are a lot of things that go on in cellphones today. The Blackberry is virtually ubiquitous, with politicians at the very least, and among most people in business today they have Blackberries, which have so many functions on them, everything to e-mail to telephone to

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texting - there are even games on them, Mr. Speaker. So there's a lot that can happen on one of those little hand held devices.

The minister asked me if I play the games on it - well, I'm not technologically advanced enough to get into those, but I do use the telephone and the e-mail functions so I know that there's a lot on those, more than just the phones.

The other question was the whole question of what's going to be defined in the regulation as a prohibited driver distraction. That's a really good question. It's pretty broad, it's part of allowing the government again, by regulations, to define things, not knowing what it is that the government is going to add in after the fact, after the legislation is passed by the House. You know, frankly, on this side of the House, we're tired of it. We're tired of passing bills that have broad regulatory powers only to find out later on that the government does something under regulation that was not contemplated by the Legislature at the time, and had we known, we would have had a much different debate.

So I think we have to start looking at how we reign in some of these regulatory powers that are being essentially abused by the government. If they want to do and they want to proscribe specific activities by drivers and cars, they should be prepared to set them out - what are those kinds of distractions going to be?

I'll give you just a brief example. I know that a lot of the vehicles nowadays have satellite radio. I'm sure for a lot of people it's very, very useful and it gives you access to a broad variety of channels from across North America. One of the functions on those satellite radars is that they will give you sports scores and they will flash them up on the screen. So it's a legitimate question as to whether or not that would be a prescribed distraction. They update them very quickly and literally almost instantaneously with whatever sporting event is going on. So, you know, those are the kinds of questions that you have to ask yourself when you look at these kinds of regulatory powers.

The temporary work zones and the ability to double the fines, you know, this is an occupational health and safety question for those people who have to work on the highways. They're working under sometimes very dangerous circumstances on our highways to try to make sure that our transportation infrastructure is the best quality. You will see this, and I've seen this many times in the United States, you will go along and you will see the sign for the construction zone and the next sign that you will see is a sign that says that fines are doubled in this zone to drive home the message to people that this is a workplace. This is a place where individuals are coming to work and they have the right to be protected. They have the right to be safe in their workplace the same way that we all expect to safe in ours. So I must say this is, in my view, the kind of thing that those workers deserve to have. They deserve to have that kind of protection.

[5:30 p.m.]

[Page 313]

The last thing that I'm going to just address, and very briefly, is what has become known as the squeegee kids' piece of the legislation and I have to say I, like everyone else, you know, I travel around the city and I see the individuals who are there on the streets. Many of these people are on the jagged edge of society. Every day many of them are homeless. They're poor. They have a very difficult time trying to maintain any quality of life whatsoever and the idea that you could somehow bring in legislation that's going to fine them or to take action which is somehow going to have a real meaning to them when they're already economically so impoverished, I mean I don't understand - other than making the political point, other than making a political statement - I don't really understand the ethicality of this legislation.

If we want to take those people off the streets, if we really want to deal with what's putting them there in the first place, then we're going to have to deal with the economic issues and the social issues that underline what's putting them there. Those are issues relating to poverty, relating to a host of social considerations, everything from education to health, to mental health. In every case I'm sure it would be a different constellation of social difficulties that places a person in this circumstance. We are standing here as legislators and saying in legislation like this that we are going to judge all of them to be the same and we are going to pass judgment on these people in a way that I just don't think is fair.

I think we need to take a broader view of this and try to establish how we are best able to take them off the street corners and out of the roadways by giving them decent alternatives to that lifestyle that they're leading. I think that any society is measured by its capacity to have compassion for people who find themselves in the circumstances that these young people - a lot of them are young people - find themselves in. So my assertion or my plea to the government would be to look at this and ask yourself, is this really what you want to do? Do you really think that this is going to deal with this issue? I really think, if you think about it in your heart of hearts, you will know that this just isn't going to deal with the problem. Somebody who has no economic means to pay a fine - the fact that you write them another ticket is not going to deter them from doing what they are doing. You have to address the underlying issues associated with why they are there.

So, Mr. Speaker, those are my comments on the bill. This is going to go forward to the Law Amendments Committee. We are going to have the opportunity to talk about it some more to discuss the various provisions in the bill. I look forward to that. I look forward to hearing the varied opinions, some of which have been shared already. I will make this final point on it because already on this bill, I think we have seen some very good and constructive debate around the various aspects of the various pieces that are in the legislation. I think that is good for the Legislature as a whole. I think it's a good discussion of public policy and that really is why we are here. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 314]

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in my place tonight to speak on a few of the aspects of this bill. One of the areas that we have been involved with in the House, of course, is crosswalk safety and this is an issue that has been taken up not just here in metro, but in many parts of Nova Scotia because we have simply seen too many accidents and also 11 fatalities on crosswalks since the year 2000.

We have been looking at what other provinces have been doing because there are good records in other provinces. One of the ones that I looked at was in Regina where pretty well throughout the city they do have flashing red lights to indicate that people have entered the crosswalk. Regina has an outstanding record of crosswalk safety.

Here, in our province, as much as we have been trying to educate Nova Scotians about responsible use of crosswalk safety, the fact that we have over 600 injuries in HRM again since the year 2000 alone is justification for the minister to look at bringing in a bill that will increase safety. We raised this issue in the House a number of times since the Spring of 2006 and now, I think, Nova Scotians are really asking for action on this particular issue. I think the time has come.

There is no question that I think our schools can become a wonderful avenue and provide a great opportunity for crosswalk safety whether we do it by things like book markers, whether or not we put it inside one of the current courses that we have in our school. I am more in favour of a reminder, an education program that is there each year. There are occasions when we do have days in our school where there are assemblies and bringing in somebody who is, again, not just an expert, but a real advocate for crosswalk safety. The record in our province is, in fact, quite alarming. I filled in for our critic at one time on this issue and had an opportunity to speak publicly about this, and it's one of the areas that I feel needs to undergo a substantial change.

It is interesting - the Town of Kentville is one of the communities that I have noticed in the past year. They have now installed red flashing lights, also the pedestrian who enters the crosswalk has the opportunity to push the button. It is almost immediately engaged and they are red flashing lights. They have these now installed at the busiest crosswalks in town. There is no question that, from a pedestrian point of view, I think you feel safe if you've experienced it from the other side which is as a driver because immediately your attention is caught by a good eye level view of the flashing lights.

Again, Kentville is a community that had a number of accidents and one death that I am familiar with on the crosswalks of their community. So, they've gone ahead with this and I believe it's one that needs to be taking a strong look at implementing and instituting here in Nova Scotia.

In many ways, it's not really the fault of the lights all the time, but rather I believe it's the mindset as well that we take to the crosswalk. Very often, for example, we don't make

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eye contact with the driver. I believe that's one of the safest ways of personal responsibility is to have a look at the driver as you get ready to move into the crosswalk. I think because of the number of incidents that we have had - fatalities, serious injury and some very close calls - perhaps when our Speaker gets an opportunity to stand on his feet on this bill, he'll talk about one very close call that he has had here in the city as well. There's nothing like those personal accounts.

Again, if the driver and the pedestrian do make good contact, then I feel that's another element that we can take as a good and safe practice. I think as we look across the country, there are a number of changes that are taking place so that we can bring much more attention to this issue, as well as doing what we can with the mechanical apparatuses that are available to us.

It will be interesting when we go to the Law Amendments Committee as well as we hear from Nova Scotians and some of the people who have a degree of expertise on this particular issue coming forward. In this House, of course, we have had petitions entered, we also had the school community in Dartmouth where we saw two tragedies within the past three years and they collected a massive on-line petition for all legislators to bring this issue once and for all to the floor of the Legislature and to have some concrete actions taken. So this is one that all Parties, I'm sure, will find the resolve to move it forward.

One of the things, of course, there's no question that's an area that we can support but as we move and take a look at other aspects of this legislation, then this is the area that we as a Party have to take a serious look at what will be our final position on photo radar, for example. So having an omnibus bill here could be a little bit problematic, because I don't think there's an MLA in the House who isn't committed to the first issue that I've talked about here and that is crosswalk safety.

In terms of photo radar, we have a history here where some jurisdictions have had it in place for a period of time and then decided against continuing with photo radar. One example, of course, is Ontario and British Columbia, as well, had photo radar and no longer have it in use. It's one where the jury is out, I guess, in terms of its total effectiveness, and as a result our caucus will study this issue again to gather expertise from other jurisdictions before we make a final decision.

[5:45 p.m.]

It seems, however, that perhaps photo radar, once again like many of the tools or the instruments that police do use to facilitate their work and there may very well, in fact, be locations where photo radar can be an asset. Some of the ones would include areas that have proven to be very troublesome, and I think many of us as MLAs have met with either the local RCMP or police force. On occasion I get to sit down with Inspector Brown in New Minas who is responsible for the Valley detachments, and inevitably there are one or two

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roads, one or two areas where once again I will say, you know, there have been a number of accidents here, or a number of areas where straight stretches, few homes, and very, very high speeds. In fact, a couple of areas in my riding are not immune to cars racing, especially during it seems the summer months. The summer months, in particular, seem to invite that activity.

So there could be some areas where photo radar could be of some value and that is a personal perspective that I take to this debate - areas, again, that have a documented history of speeding where the police can tell you that over the past month or the past six months, or the past year, this is the number of violations that have occurred in this area. So if they've picked up this number of speeders, we certainly know that this is a very serious problem for particular areas - areas where there is a history of collisions, and that's one of the things in most of our areas, that seem to have some anomaly in the road construction or weather conditions seem to impact to a greater degree or the approaches don't all have the highest amount of visibility and it's a chronic problem of having a fair number of accidents. So this, again, is potentially another area where photo radar could be of some help.

Now the history of accidents relating to the first topic I talked about today and that is crosswalks - that may be another area where photo radar could be of some assistance. These are areas of high concentration, high density of population just for a set time. So during the hours of a school day may be a time, again, when photo radar can come into play where school zones are very specified with signage, with a speed limit and we have children who go onto the sidewalks, cross roads, some even, of course, during the recess period in high schools, during the noon hours. So, again, photo radar in those areas may, in fact, be able to complement the eyes of security guards and those who are there to assist students in crossing the road, who carry the signs to stop. All of these people do sometimes need that technology, I believe, to help them out a little bit and clean up some of those areas.

Also, construction zones have become a considerable problem for us in this province. Again, another location where we have had a couple of deaths, unfortunately. These may be areas that again can be identified to be helped with radar. Areas where the public or a community has expressed concerns relating to speeding and problems are assessed and confirmed by enforcement agencies responding to public concern.

We sometimes, of course, get major housing developments. We all know how quickly some of our business areas can grow up in our midst and have dramatic increases of traffic and with that, accidents and also infractions of existing rules of the road. So, again, perhaps that's an area where some help can be obtained through the use of radar.

The public should be made aware of what the problems are and be encouraged to help identify problem areas. The public should be aware of what has been done to correct or manage problems and should be informed on a regular basis of the results, positive or negative, using photo radar.

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So if this is implemented on a trial basis, then Nova Scotians and those areas in particular that are part of any trial, then people get good feedback on what the observations have been and the analysis of that kind of data to help move this forward if it's going to be implemented on a long-term basis.

For example, an analysis of photo radar use in Calgary between 2001 and 2004 found a 29 per cent decrease in collisions at 20 sites where that type of radar is used. So, again, the effectiveness of photo radar may be in selected sites, whether it's in Sydney, Yarmouth, Halifax, Dartmouth. Wherever we seem to have already collected a fair body of information, now photo radar could become an instrument to deter those who are pretty regularly breaking the law with speed, not yielding to traffic, whatever the infraction may be.

Some law enforcement officials favour photo radar, but only if a police officer monitors the technology. Perhaps this is one of the real contentious points about photo radar is that it's a constant electronic device that is snapping the licence plate of people as they drive by without anybody manning the technology. Some see that as a bit of a cash cow, especially on major highways where they've determined that going eight kilometres or 10 kilometres over the posted speed limit, then you're going to get nailed for the infraction. There seems to be - I guess some of the literature is challenging the use of photo radar in that regard.

According to the findings of a poll conducted on behalf of the Canada Safety Council, the percentage of Canadians who support the use of photo radar to identify vehicles that break speed limits in school zones is as high as 84 per cent. Here in the Legislature, we introduced a bill calling for the doubling of the fine when we have a school zone infraction. That was one way of trying to change the culture of drivers in an area like a school zone and we're all very much aware that children are not 100 per cent safety conscious and will go out onto the street without looking, will enter crosswalks at a very rapid speed, almost running across the crosswalk. Those, as we know in this city, have proved to be tragic.

Again, I go back to this area if we're going to take a look at supporting the bill we need to know a significant amount of detail around what will the parameters be, the regulations be - in other words, how photo radar would be used. As I mentioned earlier, the percentage of Canadians in this Canada Safety Council poll went down when it was just used to target speeders on an open freeway.

The percentage of Canadians who support the use of cameras to identify vehicles that go through intersections after the traffic light has turned red, the percentage there was at 77 per cent. Ones that are clearly often violated and often end in very, very serious accidents because there's very often no preparation for that from an oncoming vehicle. Again, a very high percentage of people support photo radar in very specific locations - a targeted reason for having it implemented.

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Last year in HRM there were 14 people who died as a result of car crashes. A few of those were people who went through a red light with no expectation of a vehicle coming. In 2007, 18 people have died in auto accidents with speeding being the predominant issue here in HRM.

So it's one that I'm really looking forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee, as my time quickly comes to a close here, as we break for late debate. I hope to resume and make some further comments around the use of cellphones and other aspects of the bill. I look forward in particular to those who will come to the Law Amendments Committee and shed, I guess, expertise and good data on many aspects of a bill that has a number of parts to it that our caucus feels are, in fact, overdue.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, honourable member. We have arrived at the moment of interruption. The honourable member will be able to continue with his debate following tonight's late show.

The adjournment debate has been chosen as announced earlier and won by the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, who submitted the following resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government show respect for those unfortunate enough to live in poverty on social assistance in this province by increasing their personal allowances by more than the meager $4 per month they received effective October of this year."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COM. SERV. - SOCIAL ASSISTANCE:

PERSONAL ALLOWANCE - INCREASE

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I take my place today to speak to a very, very important issue, as made mention in the Throne Speech, the importance of reducing poverty, as we've heard over the last year with resolutions brought up by the Conservative Party to address poverty in our province.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, what we have here today is an announcement that took place in October that disappointed many, many Nova Scotians across this province. We had an announcement that at that time the minister came out publicly and said, we have to look

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at the big picture. That statement itself, the big picture, takes into account a whole lot of aspects and situations that people find themselves in when they receive only a $4 increase.

What I want to do, Mr. Speaker, is paint a picture for you. I want to dispel the myth that certain portions of society do not understand about social assistance recipients. I want to allow them the full understanding of what an individual actually receives when they are at their lowest point where they have to come to their last resort, which is the government, and ask them for help. I honestly don't believe that all society realizes that those individuals affected by poverty and suffering from low income, there's a myth out there that part of society thinks that they are bilking the system, that they are living a lifestyle that they do not deserve.

What they actually receive - and I want to go through some of the numbers - if an individual, Mr. Speaker, comes into my office and is looking for help and I point them in the direction of this government, currently that individual, if they are a single, able-bodied person, would receive a personal allowance of $204 and a shelter allowance of $300.

If two people, if a couple comes into my office, they're allotted $204 each for personal and $570 total for rent. If an individual comes in, say it be a single mother and they're raising three children, that individual will receive $204 and $620 for rent.

Now you might ask why I'm mentioning shelter. The important thing that we have to understand that I want society to understand is that a $4 increase in personal allowance, what that enables a person on social assistance to do - and here's the breakdown. If I'm a single, able-bodied person, I'm down on my luck and I reach out for help, maybe I lost my job, something drastic happened that I have to approach government for, they will allow me $300 for shelter. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, where do I live in this province - where do I find shelter for $300 a month? If I am a disabled person, or a person over the age of 50 who has been affected and can no longer find themselves work in the workplace, they will be entitled to $535 for shelter, an additional $200, and now $204 for their personal allowance.

What happens, Mr. Speaker, is that a rental increase comes in at some point. When that happens to my constituents, and to constituents all around this province, what happens is that the $535 goes toward the rent that has now become, in HRM predominantly, $575 to $600 a month for one bedroom. So what do we do? The extra $4 allows them to take a portion of that and pay their rent.

The personal allowance is supposed to go toward their food, their clothing, perhaps a haircut, some toiletries. So if I am paying $600 now for my one bedroom and I am getting $535 for shelter, where does the additional money come from? Well, it comes from the personal allowances that we give to individuals on social assistance. That $4 is measly, a measly amount of money that does not - and when we go into society, when I talk to local businesses, when I talk to those people who are affluent in our communities, who have been

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successful, they will ask why are people on social assistance? My response is, what have we done to encourage people to get off the system?

We have created programs like Harvest Connection, a wonderful program for those individuals located in the Valley. It helps farmers, but it doesn't pertain to all Nova Scotians. A simple solution would be to allow a program like that, expand it and bring it across all industry. Allow individuals to take a program like that that would enable them to keep $3,000 of their income if they participate in the Harvest Connection Program, take that program and implement it if they want to work at McDonalds or Tim Hortons. That's the extra encouragement that people on social assistance need. That's the support and encouragement that would be supported by all of society.

Recently, there was a week that was put on by the coalition against homelessness action group, and it was a week discussing homelessness and the effects of homelessness on Nova Scotians. I attended a presentation that was very thought out, that entertained us with a speaker from Newfoundland and Labrador who told us about the strategy they took on, the Newfoundland and Labrador Government, which I know this current government has looked at. They have looked at the Ireland government, as well. The problem I had during that lecture was that the minister took some time to come out and potentially answer questions, which didn't happen, but gave a wonderful speech about how concerned she and her government were about poverty and about homelessness.

What I say to Nova Scotians now is wake up, wake up, because a $4 a month increase in personal, and no shelter allowance tells me that this government does not care about homeless people. I will tell you, when this came down the tube in October, my phone rang off the hook. I had e-mails like you wouldn't believe because people did not receive that portion of the shelter increase. Again, this is about the $4 increase, but it has an effect, when we are asking people on social assistance to raise their families, to stay healthy, to potentially get off the system, and we go and we give them $4. It's not enough, it's not enough, but this current government will tell us, and they have implemented a first stage of consultation processes.

My comments are, Mr. Speaker, we have done the work. Organizations in this province have taken on the challenge of trying to come up with solutions and address the situations of homelessness and poverty. The Standing Committee on Community Services has done this each of the last two years. Last year, we brought all the organizations and individuals back to tell us how well we did from the first forum. What they told us is that we haven't done the job effectively. One of the recommendations was to raise the shelter and raise the personal allowance. We did not need to go into a November 1st or November 2nd consultation to hear that all over again.

As I brought up during Question Period, there are solutions out there now. The minister knows, the government knows, the Cabinet knows. When we're looking at the big picture

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and we're not taking into consideration of how we're encouraging and how we are enabling the marginalized people in this province, if we do not look at the big picture of where we're going to be, and potentially this is the last time that you'll hear me say it, in a new Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, where are those people going to be in 2020?

I'll end on this point. Ten years ago I found myself approaching the government for help. I had lost my job. It was a merger, a company takeover, and I lost my job. Ten years ago I contacted Community Services and they told me I would receive $230 for my shelter. Ten years ago, Mr. Speaker, I was paying $400 a month rent for a one bedroom. Ten years later a single, able bodied person who finds himself out of luck, perhaps homeless, receives $300 - a $70 increase in 10 years - and a personal allowance of $204. I ask you today, Mr. Speaker, and I encourage Nova Scotians to wake up to what this government is actually really concerned about and it's not those affected by poverty and homelessness. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, each and every one of us here this evening has an idea of how to fight poverty. What we are trying to do with the development of a provincial poverty reduction strategy is form a coherent, informed, co-operative and sustainable plan. Addressing poverty is not only government's responsibility, it's not up to churches or businesses to go it alone. Advocates can't be expected to shoulder the obligation. We all need to play a part in finding a solution.

As I mentioned earlier today, my colleague, Minister Parent, and I are co-leads on the development of the multi-year poverty reduction strategy. We look forward to the next round of consultations and the opportunity to hear from the wider public. We also look forward to delivering the strategy to Nova Scotians next year. Now, money alone is not going to solve the problem of poverty. To address and alleviate poverty we need support at all levels of society.

For our part, Community Services provides a range of income, housing, employment and family supports. We also help fund shelters and other community initiatives to help those in need. Our $748 million annual budget funds a variety of supports including early childhood development programs, subsidized daycare spaces, all of the employment programs under our Employment Support Services Program, social housing, affordable housing, a 13 home repair programs, child welfare and residential services, services for persons with disabilities and more.

Income assistance is just one tool in addressing poverty. Income assistance rates continue to go up in Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, while the number of people on income assistance drops. This is the fourth consecutive year this government has increased income assistance rates. The personal allowance increased this past October by $4 per month bringing the rate up to $204 per month. In 2006 it went up $10. In 2005 it increased by $6

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and in 2004 it increased by $4. That is a 13.3 per cent increase in four consecutive years. We have also increased the shelter allowance two years in a row as well.

Now, this government is committed to an annual increase and we met that commitment, Mr. Speaker. This year's increase was tied to the Consumer Price Index and we will continue to review rates on an ongoing basis using a number of economic indicators to assist in that review process. Nova Scotia is also one of the provinces that does not count the Canada Child Tax Benefit and the Universal Child Care Benefit as income. Therefore, it doesn't affect people's eligibility for income assistance. Also in Nova Scotia child personal allowances are not tied to the income assistance system; therefore all low-income children receive financial support as well.

Income assistance recipients are also getting help in other ways. Along with personal allowance, the other main benefits to income assistance families include shelter allowance, plus special needs such as Pharmacare, transportation, child care, et cetera. Our clients may also be eligible for the child tax benefit. Employment is also a big focus of Community Services supports.

Each year, about 10,000 Nova Scotians participate in employment services and 2,500 Nova Scotians return to work. Access to affordable housing and child care are also key components. A 10-year, $140-million, made-in-Nova Scotia child care plan will ensure quality child care for all Nova Scotians. Last week we announced a $5.2 million investment in child care in the province. The new money will fund new spaces, as well as a change in income eligibility - meaning more families will qualify for child care subsidies, making child care more accessible and affordable.

[6:15 p.m.]

As well, government will work with its partners to commit over $56 million by 2009 for the renovation or creation of affordable housing - a $23 million affordable housing trust will also help maintain and create affordable housing, to be committed by 2009. More than 20,000 Nova Scotian families live in social housing provided by government.

We will continue to look for ways to help our income assistance recipients. For instance, recently we changed the treatment of income tax refunds to allow working clients to retain more of that hard-earned dollar; we increased the investment in subsidized child care, affordable and licensed child care spaces; we increased the investment in the creation and preservation of affordable housing options; and we developed a Harvest Connection Program to allow seasonal workers to continue earning income assistance.

While we recognize that programs are implemented, programs also need to be reviewed to ensure the maximum number of benefits to Nova Scotians is received. We are

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doing that on a regular basis at the Department of Community Services and we will continue to do that to ensure the maximum benefit is available to all Nova Scotians.

We also recognize there are many Nova Scotians who are not on income assistance who also need support. To help them we have invested $2 million in a new Pharmacare Program for children in low-income families, which is complemented by the Premier's announcement yesterday on family Pharmacare for all Nova Scotians.

We implemented the lone parent student housing program that helps subsidize rent for single parents enrolled in university. All of these efforts and a stronger economy are producing results. Between 1996 and 2005, the most recent year for which data is available through Stats Canada, the number of Nova Scotians living in low-income situations declined by over 35 per cent. In 2005, 8.9 per cent of the Nova Scotian population lived in low- income situations compared to 10.8 per cent for Canada as a whole. The prevalence of low- income in Nova Scotia is the fourth lowest amongst the 10 Canadian provinces.

Encouragingly, the number of children under 18 living in low-income families continues to decline, falling from 22,000 in 2004 to 19,000 in 2005. That makes Nova Scotia's average 10.4 per cent compared to the Canadian average of 11.7 per cent, Mr. Speaker. Still we recognize we're working for a day when no Nova Scotians live in poverty.

Mr. Speaker, do we wish we could do more? Yes. The poverty reduction strategy will lay out how we can have an immediate and sustainable effect on poverty in Nova Scotia. There's no question that together our strongest and most persistent assault on poverty is a strong economy. We know that Nova Scotians want to be productive members of their communities. We know that Nova Scotians, given the choice, will continue to be productive members of their communities, and we recognize that there are times when Nova Scotians are unable - that is when they turn to us and we have been there and we will continue to be there.

Now, Mr. Speaker, resolutions are not enough to solve this problem. We need a co-operative approach influenced by different levels of society, many sectors of the community, and the very people who live and breathe poverty. We have the research; now we need the voices to inform the strategy. This is the only way we will truly address poverty in Nova Scotia and truly make it the best province to work and raise a family.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place and offer a few words. I notice the minister is leaving, but I wanted to mention before she left that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member certainly has been here as long as I have, and it's not the custom . . .

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MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, I sat here and listened to her for 10 minutes, she can listen to me for 10 minutes . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member knows the customs of this House.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister's passion was certainly there, but it was rehearsed - there wasn't a word come out of the minister's mouth that wasn't rehearsed and put on paper by the minions over there at the Department of Community Services. If this minister really cared about her department, and where that department was going, she would speak from the heart and not from a prepared statement that somebody over in that department put in front of her because they knew that was coming here tonight. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, members opposite who are still here will remember in this House a previous Minister of Community Services, when asked a question about the poor in this province said, well, the reason they are poor is they don't have enough money - a piercing glance at the obvious - that's what the previous minister stated. Also, when questioned about the amount of money people on community services were receiving, that same minister said maybe they should eat more pasta. Now is it any wonder the Premier had to take that minister out of that portfolio?

Now he has replaced with a minister who, I believe, is very eloquent on her feet when she speaks about Community Services. However, those are not her words or her thoughts, they are rehearsed by the Department of Community Services. She referred to the statement, Mr. Speaker, the entire 10 minutes she was speaking. I would have rathered that the minister had spoken from her heart about what's really happening in the Department of Community Services. The minister eloquently talked about all of the things that were right in the Department of Community Services. However, she didn't talk about anything that was wrong, so I guess in her mind, or in the mind of the department, there's nothing wrong with the Department of Community Services - nothing at all.

Well, for a few moments, Mr. Speaker, let's talk about real people and real circumstances that the people in this province have to endure under this government, the plight of the poor, the continuing subject of concern here in Nova Scotia - and do you know what? They are the only group in this society that we live in, this supposedly rich province, according to the government anyway, they are the only group that doesn't have an advocate. My colleague in the NDP, who spoke previously here this evening, hit the proverbial nail on the head when he said these people are vulnerable. They are vulnerable when it comes to paying rent, they're vulnerable when it comes to living from day to day and there's more month left at the end than money, that's for sure, with this group of people.

The face of the poor in Nova Scotia may be changing a little bit, but it's still there and I'll tell you why. It's changing because single mothers in this province are enduring a

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hardship like they've never done before. The Family Courts aren't addressing the problems of deadbeat dads, the minister never even made a mention of that, because that wasn't in her script, I guess. I'm going to tell you, when they do get support, eventually when they do find these deadbeat dads, whether they're out West making big money or wherever they're at, then the Department of Community Services claws back any money they get, and they have to wait for it.

In the meantime - and the ridiculous thing that happens in this province is that when people try to exit the system by improving themselves, they're held back by regulations in the Department of Community Services that state, for example, if they're going to apply for a student loan, they're not deemed ineligible when they get the student loan, they're deemed ineligible when they apply for the student loan. So what are they supposed to do in the meantime?

Now, Mr. Speaker, I've gone through this speech before and I'm sure that my colleagues in the NDP have also expressed concerns about Community Services, and I've said it here before and again I'm going to talk straight to the minister on this, that department is operated by lawyers and chartered accountants these days. There's nothing wrong with lawyers and chartered accountants; as a matter of fact, the one who's running the Department of Community Services is a very capable person. But I go back to the days when the Department of Community Services looked at service first and finances second; it's just the reverse now in the department.

The previous minister got up on his feet in this House and talked about how they saved money one year and they actually came in with a budget surplus. Now isn't that some statement for a Minister of Community Services to get on his feet in this House and say that they (Interruption) Yes, that's right.

That minister also said, in the same Question Period, that the people on community services were better off here in Nova Scotia than anywhere else. How he would know that, I don't know but he said there are no problems, when questioned about transition houses, for example. Thank heaven there are transition houses and food banks and everything else in this province to keep the people who need assistance from starving to death, or to get assistance to keep them from people who are predators. The previous minister says, oh, we don't need any transition houses down our way, we're fine, we know how to handle these situations.

I shudder to think that would actually be something he would believe in, but those are statements that were made. Now for the minister to say all the good things that are happening in the department - there are some good things happening there, I'll allow that, but down to the root of the problem is that the people in this province are not getting a chance to exit the system. There are too many roadblocks put in place to have that happen. Even the fact about single-parent families - and most of them female, by the way, if not 99.9 per cent are - are trying to get a better education from the system and can't get it. There's a

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pilot program here and a pilot program there, a two-year program, but they can't get a four-year program. All of these impediments are put in the way of somebody trying to actually make a better life for themselves and their children.

You know in this day and age, with all the wealth that abounds here in Nova Scotia that we talk about with the style of living here in Nova Scotia, that we can't look after this segment of our population that needs an advocate. I mention the word "advocate" because if you were on community services or you were trying to access somebody about housing, or community services, now they have the places locked up where you can't get in there, you have to speak to somebody through a door somewhere or something, or if you - the accent seems to be on looking after the system and not the people who have to access the system, Mr. Speaker.

Now if you're trying to access somebody in government, it's almost impossible. That's why we, as MLAs, have to make calls on behalf of these people, day in and day out. I spend most of my constituency work dealing with people on community services who need housing, who need assistance with the Family Court in getting money that's owed them. I can go on and on about the different things, Mr. Speaker, that people need an advocate. They can't access the system. You try to access the system in Nova Scotia, you can't do it. MLAs can . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And they have to talk to supervisors.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Yes, and they have to talk to supervisors. The member is reading my mind here. But you're absolutely right, and it's amazing - but you know what? The workers in the system, and I mentioned this before, and the minister knows that I talked about this before, the ministers in the system do not have the latitude to do what they feel should be done anymore. They're bound by limits of the almighty dollar, the computer, the assistance levels, what they can give and what they can't give, that type of thing. The ability to make a judgment on going the extra for somebody is not there anymore.

It's with the MLAs, because we have to realize that these people - put yourself in their position. I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, that we are the advocates for the people who need help in our community. It shouldn't be that way, but it is that way and it's a reality in Nova Scotia that there is a lot of work that needs to be done in order to improve the system. I'm going to tell you, there are a number of people in this system who would love nothing better than to have nothing to do with this system anymore. All they need is justice. They need the Minister of Community Services to sit down with the Minister of Justice and look after the situation in the Family Court. They need the minister of housing to get in there and start giving adequate housing to people on community assistance at reasonable rates instead of shoving them over to slum landlords, as is the case in my area.

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That's the kind of thing this government should be working on, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure that I'll be back here maybe at the next session of this House, or maybe next week, talking about it again, but I'll keep talking about it until things start to happen that I think are benefitting the people in this province who need the support. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. We'll now return to second reading on Bill No. 7.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

Bill No. 7 - Motor Vehicle Act. [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I just have a few minutes to finish up on this particular bill, Bill No. 7, an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Motor Vehicle Act. The third area I would like to reference, after speaking about crosswalk safety and photo radar, is the cellphone ban. This is an area that as a Party we've been very decisive on. In April, Dave Wilson . . .

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Who, who?

MR. GLAVINE: I'm sorry, the member for Glace Bay - in my notes was his name - to prohibit the use of hand-held cellular telephones while operating a motor vehicle. So we are on record as having stated a very firm position.

Newfoundland and Labrador is currently the only jurisdiction in Canada with a ban. They still, however, allow hands-free models. There are no clear statistics in Canada that we can reference in regard to the impact on accidents, loss of life, and injuries. However, in the United States, a Harvard study a few years ago found 2,600 deaths and 330,000 injuries were caused every year in the United States by drivers distracted by cellphones. So there is no question that it is a major problem on our roads and highways today, although I'm sure all of us would admit, as drivers, that there are actually very many distractions that do cause accidents.

Currently there is a Coalition for Cellphone-Free Driving and they're lobbying, of course, to stop answering cellphones, including the hands-free models. Studies have found that by using either hands-free or hand-held phones increases the risk of crashing by four times and slows reactions by 18 per cent. So we do have a lot of evidence that points to the fact that cellphones are a major problem for drivers.

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It is interesting to take a look at the countries around the world that have now instituted bans - from Australia and Austria to China, to Italy, to Japan, Portugal, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey, the U.K. - there are at least 50 major countries that have banned the use of cellphones.

It will be one of the pieces inside of Bill No. 7 that we are strong on supporting once we see the actual details of how government is planning to have this rolled out. Perhaps we may need to come back to a stand-alone piece of legislation because there are a number of things about Bill No. 7 that we don't have a lot of details at this time and I think it's important for a government to do its work on this bill, give us the details and Law Amendments could help us shape and define Bill No. 7.

With those words, I will take my place. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Thank you. I take my place this evening briefly to speak to Bill No. 7. First of all, Mr. Speaker, I would like to say how nice it is to be back here on the job and I'd like to once again thank the people of Halifax Needham for their continued support. I hear the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations over there saying he was really happy to get back here as well and he was getting concerned, as I was, that maybe we would never be coming back here. So, I share his point of view on that, that it was high time the Premier decided to come back.

I've been a proud resident of the North End of Halifax for the better part of 30 years and it's a wonderful part of the city. It's a part of the city that frequently is stigmatized with concerns about crime and safety. Safety concerns are always at the forefront of my work, especially because of that stigma in parts of my community. I was very happy to attend some of the town hall meetings that were organized around the city, particularly at the North Branch Library. The former Minister of Justice was there at the beginning of that town hall meeting.

I'd like to say that I don't recall that evening any of the issues that are in this bill coming up with respect to what the area concerns were around safety. That's not to say that these concerns don't exist. I think it would be fair to say that we all share concern around speeding and racing, crosswalk safety and people who are operating motor vehicles when they're preoccupied with other things, including cellphones.

My colleagues have all spoken very well to those issues. My purpose in speaking here tonight on Bill No. 7 is to bring forward some of the safety concerns that I do hear in my constituency, but more to the point, to address the specific piece of this omnibus bill that looks at squeegee kids and panhandling on the streets in Halifax.

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The issues I hear in my constituency tend to be more about swarming, sort of wannabe gangs - we don't have gangs but we have groups of young people who are behaving almost caricature-ish, in ways that the chief of police has told me mirrors certain behaviours of gang culture elsewhere but it has not evolved to that stage where we actually have entrenched gang culture. People are concerned about graffiti and certainly around gun violence there has been some concern.

Something that I have never heard, I think, this government address and speak about but I think is very important to have a discussion around and that is the whole issue on Black on Black violence in our communities where there are substantial Black communities and people who deal with the realities of racism every day and the loss of young Black lives, young Black Nova Scotian lives. That is of real concern to me, Mr. Speaker, and I know it is probably to many other members of our Legislature and our broader community. I guess I would say I would really like to see this government take some initiative in terms of dealing with some of those more serious crimes.

The other issue that came up at that town hall meeting in my constituency is the number of unsolved murders in HRM. It's substantial. I think there are approximately 30 or 40 unsolved murders. Mr. Speaker, we know that there are a number of unsolved murders with respect to women in our province and I know that is of great concern not only to their friends and family members but certainly in their communities.

Mr. Speaker, this bill doesn't deal with any of those issues. It doesn't deal with crime. It doesn't deal with swarming, graffiti, gun crime, gang crime, all of these kinds of serious problems that people are very concerned about. It doesn't deal with the issue of assaults on the Common which has been an issue and I did have the opportunity to attend a meeting about crime on the Common and I am pleased to say I signed up as a Citizen on Patrol and hopefully by the Spring that will be organized.

I was very pleased today to see that Chief Beazley has spoken out about his concerns around the Guardian Angels coming to the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, unlike the Citizens on Patrol, which is an effort for citizens to organize themselves to be eyes and ears and if they see anything suspicious to report that to the police who have the proper training and equipment to intervene. There is great concern in the constituency I represent that the Guardian Angels are much more interventionist in their orientation with people who are neither trained nor equipped nor with the judgment nor with the kind of proper screening to be out there on the streets doing this kind of work. To hear Chief Beazley today, or to read his comments, was a great relief to me. I diverge a bit from the bill and I thank you for your indulgence in that.

Mr. Speaker, the bottom line here for me is that in the 10 years I have been a member of this Legislature, or almost 10 years, I have had almost no calls or complaints about squeegee kids or about panhandling on the streets in Halifax. I remind members that I

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represent a substantial portion of peninsular Halifax. My constituency, in fact, includes the Willow Tree intersection at the Holiday Inn at Robie Street and Quinpool Road. It also includes the intersection at the end of Windsor Street overlooking Fairview Cove. It includes these places I point out because this quite often are intersections and locations where you will find squeegee kids or other individuals with signs asking for change.

In the 10 years I've been here, next to no calls. I won't say no calls, I can recall two calls. So, in a way, I'm reminded of the debate at City Hall around the cat by-law when councillor after councillor was interviewed about the number of calls they had with respect to pussy cats. They had either none or almost none. So, with respect to calls from constituents around squeegee kids or panhandlers, primarily in the intersections where I see them in my constituency, two calls in 10 years.

I'm wondering how this has become a priority item for the government here today? I do know that this issue - much like the cat debate and debates at City Hall about concerts on the Commons and arresting people who go through blue bags looking for bottles - has, in fact, preoccupied some of the councillors at City Hall. Some of the HRM members have advocated for this kind of thing. I'd like to recognize one of the councillors who represents part of my constituency, Patrick Murphy, who actually, I think in the paper last week, when this bill was introduced, to his credit raised questions about whether or not this is the right way to go and the fact that perhaps we need to be thinking more about addressing the causes and the reasons for people being at our intersections offering to wash our windshields or asking for change. I totally support his point of view.

It seems to me this approach that is being taken here is not the right approach. I think it misunderstands who are the people who are at these intersections and why are they there asking for change or to clean our windshields. I can't imagine this government, with all the resources it has available to them in an excellent Public Service, doesn't understand what the research tells people about who these people are and why they're there.

Certainly, there's a lot of information out there. First, many of the people who are there are young people and that's been made mention of. A very high percentage of young people who are among the homeless on our streets are, in fact, former wards of the child welfare system and child welfare agencies. Many of these young people were kids who were in care. We could speak with Dr. Jeff Karabanow over at Dalhousie School of Social Work who is an international expert on street kids, not only here in Canada and Nova Scotia, but internationally - throughout Latin and South America as well as here.

Dr. Karabanow could certainly tell us about the numbers of kids who eventually find their way onto the streets and homeless having been wards of the child welfare system. I think this would suggest that a better approach to dealing with who people are in these situations would be to examine the child welfare system and fix the lack of services that are often available - mental health services, support for good foster care in terms of ample

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financial and other supports and to examine the practice of the termination of care of young people and young adults when they get in crisis, when the state is their parent, and I've seen this in my own constituency numerous times. A young person who is in the care of the Department of Community Services and the department gets to the point where they just throw their hands up, they terminate their wardship or they don't extend it, they allow the term to end, and they return the care to a parent who has been unable to cope with the previous behaviours and nothing has changed in that circumstance and you have young people who are in crisis and they're frequently then found in our community and on the system. This is well-known. It's well-researched, it's well-documented, and I would think that a much more constructive approach to dealing with why we have people on our streets asking for change, asking to clean our windshields, would be to look at some of those problems.

Mr. Speaker, the education system was mentioned as a place that we need to look at in terms of failures and kids falling through the cracks. Mr. Justice Nunn, in the Nunn Commission, looking at the case of one young person spiraling out of control, as he called that report, identified failures in the system in that case. Well, that's not the only case. That's not the only situation where young people are failed by the education system. So we see this often and people have this idea that because you have somebody who looks healthy and they would have all of the appearances that they should be able to get a job, they have no idea what their literacy is, what their numeracy is, what any of their skill levels are, and I can tell you many, many of these young people are barely literate. They're unable to really do any of the skills that are required even in the McJobs world where you have to have some level of literacy and numeracy.

Mr. Speaker, young people aren't the only people though whom we see at our intersections and we all know that. We see people at our intersections who are people with addictions. We see people at our intersections who are people with disabilities and we see single, unemployed people as well. We all know what the wait lists are like for mental health services, we know what they're like for addiction services, and a much more constructive approach to dealing with this problem would be to deal with the issue of wait times for addiction services and mental health services, for sure.

Earlier in this debate, my colleague and your colleague - the member for Richmond - noted that we didn't see people on the streets asking for change or asking to clean your windshield a decade ago. He asked, why is that, what has changed? Well, Mr. Speaker, you probably would remember full well because you would have been in this House and on the government side as a minister, that in 1995 the federal government cut the heart out of social program funding in this country. They eliminated the Canada Assistance Plan. They eliminated established program funding. They replaced that with the Canada Health and Social Transfer and they reduced by billions of dollars the amount of funding that they would have available for social programs under those two other plans and programs. They cut EI to the bone. They eliminated the National Housing Program that gave provinces an

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opportunity to build affordable housing. Many of us in the social policy community at that time predicted that in 10 or 12 years time the impact of those cuts would be more homelessness, more crime, more poverty, more misery, more people on the streets, and guess what? We were right. We were right. I take no joy in saying that, but my point would be that we can do a lot better than bringing in an amendment to the Motor Vehicle Act that would fine and possibly incarcerate people who are poor, who have been failed by the education system, who have been failed by the child welfare system. Who have been failed by the lack of mental health services or addiction services in our health care system and that we would criminalize these people by taking away one option that they have to try to generate a small bit of change.

Mr. Speaker, I had the pleasure of supervising a Masters thesis of a student of social work a few years ago, Michelle Hebert, whose brother-in-law actually was a member of the Cabinet of this government for a period of time, Mr. Kerry Morash. She did research on the setting up of relief after the Halifax Explosion. In the process of doing that research, she looked back a bit to the history of how the poor and disadvantaged were treated in the Province of Nova Scotia.

When this bill was introduced, I was reminded of a piece from her research that members here may find interesting. She found in her research that 149 years ago almost to the day - on December 13th, so we are just a few days away from - this Legislature passed a bill entitled An Act for Erecting a House of Corrections or Work House Within the Town of Halifax. That work house, in fact, was set up the following year, called the Bridewell. According to one of her sources, the people who were taken in to the Bridewell were all disorderly and idle persons and such who shall be found begging or practicing any unlawful games or pretending to be fortune telling, common drunkards, persons of lewd behaviour, vagabonds, runaways, stubborn servants and children and persons who notoriously mis-spend their time to the neglect and the prejudice of their own or their family's supports.

Mr. Speaker, this piece of legislation is not setting up a work house or a poor house but we might as well be because this piece of legislation is substituting a jail cell for people who we feel are not behaving by some standard that has been established without really looking behind what is it that causes people to be begging in our streets. Begging is not a new activity and responding harshly through the law is not a new response but for a period of time in this country, we had a different response. We had a response that supported social program spending and as the member for Richmond said earlier, there was a period of time when we took that response that we did not have the problem on our streets. I would hope that a more enlightened government would look back in history and see what works and see what hasn't worked and act accordingly. Thank you.

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

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MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise tonight and say a few words on second reading with Bill No. 7, an Act to Amend the Motor Vehicle Act. It includes a lot of different provisions and actually covers quite a number of areas, so I hope to be able to touch on at least a few of those in some detail tonight.

Certainly, Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of concerns about changes that we do make, and I'd like to preface my remarks tonight going back to a bill that was brought in here a couple of years ago, I think it was the Fall of 2005, I had introduced a Private Member's Bill calling for double fines in school zones, in playground zones. The government actually, the Minister of Transportation Public Works at the time, introduced your own bill, a government bill, that would achieve that aim in school zones.

The problem I have, Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor. Thank you.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you. The problem I have, Mr. Speaker, is that the bill passed, it was a government bill and it had support from the House and it was to double the fines in school zones for speeding. Clearly, again, a safety move, a move intended to help children be safer. We're all encouraging kids to walk to school. There's a big effort in the schools in my area to encourage the children to walk; a lot of parents are worried because of traffic and speeding around the schools. So I think it was an important bill at the time. But the point I wanted to raise, as we look at these new amendments and new suggestions, is that from that bill there was no signage ever agreed to. So when a driver approaches a school zone and is entering that area they have no way of knowing that if you're speeding in that zone you're going to get double the fine.

I raised that at the start of the school year this year, and there was a government press release that came out afterwards saying, oh, by the way, school is starting and make sure you don't speed because it is double the fine, but what's the chance that most drivers know anything about that? Really my intent, when I raised the bill, was that there would be signage at school zones that would really reinforce the importance of going slow and being careful in school zones.

Here we are, we have something that isn't signed properly and has yet to be enforced, Mr. Speaker. There have been speeding tickets given in school zones since that bill came into effect and none of them have had double the fines. I had looked into that recently to see if it has been enforced at all. So it hasn't been enforced. I can clearly tell you that the HRM police will not be concerned about laws that we pass here if we don't enforce them ourselves, if we don't have a commitment to it or we're ignoring the importance of it, then they will not take it seriously either.

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So when we go forward with any of the changes that are proposed in this bill, I hope that there will be a greater attention to detail and a greater intent to let the public know to have proper signage for anything that we're doing that makes a substantive change and to actually follow through on it, because that's where the deterrent comes in, Mr. Speaker, when people know that there's actually this additional fine and people are aware of the impact; otherwise, it's entrapment to offer to double the fine when nobody even knew it was in existence.

So I think it's really incumbent upon the government to ensure that they follow through with the proper implementation of any of these changes that may find their way through with this bill. I think that's very important just as a way of showing our certainty around this.

Now crosswalks are a big part of this, and in the summer the government came out with their interim report from the committee that's been discussing crosswalk safety, a very important committee, a multi-stakeholder committee. I believe it has police, RCMP, HRM and the province. It's a group of experts who are looking at crosswalks. What a disappointment that interim report was, because the biggest recommendation came down to better definitions of a driver's responsibility and a pedestrian's responsibility and who is supposed to do what. Really, I don't think there's a great deal of confusion about what a pedestrian should do. I mean, their intent is to cross safely, they should be attentive to that. Both parties have a responsibility; drivers are responsible for being careful, as well.

Just going through the detail of the bill tonight, having a look at some of the clauses, they seem very self-apparent. Now perhaps it's because I'm not a lawyer that I wonder whether we have to actually legislate and spell out some of these requirements that pedestrians have. One certainly suggests that you must not cross the street if there isn't enough time for a car to stop safely. I think people know that when they're standing on the side of the road, Mr. Speaker. I think what is required are some more changes that are going to be more substantive than simply finding legal words to define what my role is as a pedestrian or someone else's role is as a motorist. I just find that is not getting to the crux of the matter.

In my riding of Clayton Park, certainly we have a large stretch of the Bedford Highway there; probably at the moment the crosswalk with the most attention and the most trouble is the crosswalk in front of Mount Saint Vincent University. I think it is a 50 kilometre per hour zone but cars go a lot faster. The students are arriving, many of them on the bus, and they have to cross the street to get from the bus stop to the school, and there are large numbers of people crossing. They have, again, a lot of near misses and a number of collisions with pedestrians every year. The student body has been very upset about this and raising the issue repeatedly and what they are asking for is a red light that is pedestrian- activated. This is not a new idea.

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Even here in HRM there are about five locations that have what are known as half lights. That is where you have a crosswalk and you install a light that will turn amber and then solid red when a pedestrian pushes the button. There are two, I believe, on Quinpool Road in Halifax that are on small side streets. The incoming side streets only have a stop sign, they are not fully signalized intersections. I am sure the minister is aware of these as well but they have worked really well. I can tell you there are two in the area that I have represented. One of them is in the Bedford riding now that I represented as a city councillor and when that was put in, I went from getting daily calls from distraught parents and neighbours who were watching near accidents on Kearney Lake Road to hearing nothing but praise for how well it works. It puts people's minds at ease. It is providing a much higher level of safety and people had no reason to call me as a city councillor any more about that intersection because it was working property. People who are driving cars understand the difference between a flashing orange which is a bit nebulous and a solid red. They know they are supposed to stop. There is no question about it. You come to a full stop when you are at a red light.

As I say, the introduction of that one on Kearney Lake Road was wonderful and there is also one in my riding, on Lacewood Drive, which is in front of the Keshen Goodman Library where not only do a lot of people go to the library but hundreds of students walk to Halifax West High School. There are just floods of pedestrians going through there every day, really all day long, and it has been very successful there as well, which is a fairly fast four-lane roadway. I find it works very well and yet HRM isn't taking any steps to extend this option of red lights at pedestrian crossings and we haven't got the leadership here in the House to move ahead with that. I do believe that the evidence is clear, not only here in our own municipality but in municipalities across the country that this is effective not for every intersection. It is not needed for every intersection but it is very effective at high traffic, high pedestrian-crossing, fast stretches.

I think we need to look at it and have an open mind about introducing that. I believe my colleague, the member for Clare, had brought that in a bill last winter or last Spring, asking that the government look at that and that would be the solid red lights that are known as half lights. That was something I was very sorry not to see in this bill and to really just see the further extension of the definitions that were called for in the interim report.

Another point I wanted to raise around crosswalks was the need for education. I have been hearing this, again, for the last seven years, since I was first elected to Halifax City Council, that the city was going to do a big education plan and that is what is needed. I am sure others who have just come from council have heard a lot about the education that is needed but we need to give kudos to HRM who, in September of this year, released a little booklet that exactly lays out what you should do and how to be safe on the streets as a pedestrian. It talks about crosswalks. They circulated that. I believe they mailed it to every home in HRM because I know I received one at my house. What I did hear, having talked to some people around the rollout of that program, was that the province had an opportunity to

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participate in that booklet and to participate having their name and provincial recognition on that program so that it could be extended to other cities and other towns and used across the province but there was no interest on the part of the province or the provincial representatives who were engaged in this crosswalk committee and therefore it came out solely under the auspices of HRM.

Again, I chide the government because I think that was an opportunity for you to co-operate. We hear a lot about partnerships and combining our resources. That would have been a good opportunity to put your stamp on it as well, have it be a Province of Nova Scotia initiative. It's a very effective booklet and I think that perhaps there's still time to return to HRM and ask if there couldn't be a partnership made so that all towns, from Springhill and Truro, all the way to Sydney and Yarmouth, can have the opportunity to have that information. We are seeing collisions and fatalities in many smaller communities, it's not just here in HRM, but there are other cities and other towns that could benefit from that. I would very much like to see some action on that, I thought it was a disappointment that came out solely from the city, but I do commend the city for moving forward and finally having something like that in place. I think that is important.

Going through the bill, there were a number of things I did see. We're talking about distractions, I had a concern - as I believe my colleague, the member for Richmond has already pointed out - about what would be considered a distraction that we will see later in regulations. By passing something with that kind of wording, we're leaving an awful lot to the government or bureaucrats to decide behind closed doors. I believe we should be able to identify here and within this bill what kind of distractions we're considering to be an offence. I'd like to find the exact spot so I could tell you where it is, it's quite early on in the bill. (Interruption) There you go, it's actually Clause 7, Section 100D, which says, "'prohibited driver distraction' means a distracting activity or distracting device prescribed by the regulations."

In casual discussion we were wondering what exactly that could be. There are a lot of things that we have maybe in our cars or on the side of the road that are distracting, but we need to know what they are so we can give them proper consideration. It makes me nervous to allow that to stay as is. I hope we do hear more in the Law Amendments Committee - maybe some people will have some comments specifically about that, but I think it's important to signal to the government that there's a great deal of detail here about who a pedestrian is and what their responsibility is and a lot of other very detailed things and yet something as important as defining distractions has been left for a later time to be looked at. That is something I would like to see changed.

Going back to the double fines, I see it's going to be introduced here for the temporary work hours, which I believe would be covering road workers in the summer months. I go back again to the fact when I saw this in place, I saw this in Maine and a couple of the American states that I've travelled in, they've definitely posted signs that say clearly,

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fines doubled - it's in bold, two words - so I hope the minister will be looking at that as well as we go forward to consider what is needed.

Photo radar and the red light cameras are both covered in this bill. I gather it's really enabling legislation, from what I've been told. Again, there is probably some merit to exploring it and if it is a pilot project, I think all the more so. We can gather some evidence here in HRM and I think that is important. I heard the minister say they would be looking for pilot or test areas and in my riding, the lower part of Lacewood Drive, below Dunbrack, has been the scene of a number of terrible accidents in the last year where cars have gone out of control and literally mowed down pedestrians on the sidewalk. Just last week, an accident in the wee hours of the morning - about 1:00 a.m. - with three young people seriously, in fact, critically injured at that corner.

I've seen the speed records that have been captured when they put the temporary speed signs up. They keep a record over a period of time and it's not uncommon for cars going 70 and 75 in that area which is a 50-kilometre zone. There are a lot of homes along that stretch so it would be a good one to look at for a stretch of road that should be kept under control.

I have seen more police in that area in the last year, there has been more radar and police checks, but the speed of traffic there is really dangerous. I would be - along with other members of this House, I'm sure - willing to consider whether or not this would improve safety. If it would, I think there would be an appetite for it in our riding and among the citizens of HRM.

But we do worry and I think it would be inappropriate not to mention the concern that any area that's going to have photo radar must be properly signed. I've seen sections in Calgary when I've driven there where there's clearly a sign with a little camera on it, so you don't then have the criticism the government is entrapping people and tricking you about moving around the sections that are essentially under this camera surveillance. I think it is important, that's being up front, honest and it's being clear. So I would very much really push that the government continue and look at the signage as an integral part of the program.

Again, I think with the red light cameras the evidence is that a disproportionate number of our accidents do occur around intersections, with left hand turns or people running a light when they shouldn't be. The red light cameras may again make it safer in those intersections that are so busy.

I would still prefer to see what we hear from the public at the Law Amendments Committee and to look more at the evidence in other jurisdictions but I think that the government is, in this instance, looking for ways to try to cut down on accidents in the city and trying to find ways that we can be safer. Frankly, I've just seen an awful lot of speeding and inappropriate driving and running of red lights, so I think that we need either more

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policing or we need another method to get people under control. So this may be something that has merit but we do want to look at that, needless to say with both those being quite a major change, in terms of using technology in this way, I would want to see more about how that might work here in HRM, whether it is appropriate.

The street racing I think is a very important thing to address and the impounding of the cars and taking away of licences from the drivers is important and stronger fines as well for street racing I think send a strong signal. So those are all important things.

[7:15 p.m.]

In talking about distractions on the road I thought it was a good opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to go back to modified mufflers. I didn't see anything mentioning modified mufflers but I think really loud motorcycles on roads are a huge distraction to other drivers. I think they frighten drivers when the vehicles pass and I think they frighten pedestrians.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, the chatter is getting a little high.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I say, I believe there should be legislation that looks at how we control modifications to vehicles that are made, particularly motorcycles but not only motorcycles, they are made to some of the smaller cars, like Honda Civics are very popular ones. We all see it at Canadian Tire or other places where they are advertising these great modified muffler systems. They do make more noise and to what benefit? I can find no benefit to them, to be honest. It isn't a performance issue, it doesn't improve your car's performance or efficiency, it just makes more noise. I think that is something that I would call a distraction. If you want to name that in the regulations maybe that would be a good thing that I would suggest as we go forward because that is a real distraction and really takes away from quality of life as well for people in the city.

So that covers just about all of the aspects of this bill, I think, that we identified. Oh, the cellphones, we haven't talked about the cellphones. That's a big one. There's a lot in this bill, isn't there, Mr. Speaker. I think for a new minister he has put a lot into one bill, no question about it.

I'm really glad, frankly, that we'll be able to have this discussion here in the House and at the Law Amendments Committee because I think as members of the Legislature, we have all heard repeatedly, really, from others and our constituents, about why is it allowed, really. We've all seen bad driving as a result of somebody being on a cellphone and we may, in fact, be guilty ourselves of distracted driving. I will include myself in that number because I think it is a genuine distraction to good driving.

The fact that we have a chance to talk about it is good. I often, in fact, Mr. Speaker have criticized this government for wanting to be the last to adopt new measures. This is

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something where I believe only Newfoundland and Labrador have tackled this in all of Canada so if we're going to be among the first in this country to look at it, I think that's something to be proud of because too often we wait to see what everyone else is doing and we are not the ones who are setting the pace, we are the ones who are just following behind.

This is something that there's been a great deal written about and a lot of evidence from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. They've gathered a lot of statistics around the accidents that are related to cellphone usage. They have sort of a mobile unit where you can be driving, they demonstrate it with a test situation, how much distraction there is from talking on the phone or from other activities that some people are doing while they are driving and it's very compelling evidence that you are not responding quickly enough to what is going on in the road around you.

So I think really in looking at the ban on hand-held cellphones, it means the government is trying to adopt the evidence that's out there and really do their best to move forward as a province in adopting the evidence that we see and that we know will make the roads safer. So I think that's something that we're interested in and glad to see discussion about. I do think I would be remiss if I didn't acknowledge that we would be the second province in Canada to go that route rather than the last which always troubles me, you know, to be so reluctant to adopt change. So this would be a positive thing I think for many drivers and really even those who might not want to do that because they talk on the phone a lot in their cars, they would still have the option of a hands-free unit and that is safer than holding the phone most definitely.

So, Mr. Speaker, with those few comments I'm anxious to see this go to the Law Amendments Committee and I look forward to its continuing debate. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

MR. LEONARD PREYRA: Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 7 is an omnibus bill. It has many, many significant changes proposed and my colleagues, the members for Queens, Cole Harbour and Halifax Needham, have spoken eloquently about many other aspects of the bill. I'm going to confine my remarks to Clause, Section 173A (1) which reads: "No person, while on a roadway, shall stop, attempt to stop or approach a motor vehicle for the purpose of offering, selling or providing any commodity or service to or soliciting the driver or any other person in the motor vehicle."

It's a pretty innocuous sounding amendment, Mr. Speaker, and although it appears to be aimed at everyone, we know that it will largely affect young people - young poor people. In fact, it reminds me of something that Anatole France wrote in the Red Lily which was published in 1894. Anatole France says, "This law in its impartial majesty forbids rich and poor alike from sleeping under bridges, from begging in the streets, and from stealing bread."

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We know, Mr. Speaker, that this law forbids everybody but we also know that it's aimed at squeegee kids - those poor young people who work at well-travelled intersections in our cities by offering to clean windshields for donations. Ironically, this bill allows those who fundraise on behalf of those same young, poor people to solicit in the streets but it does not allow them to do it themselves.

Mr. Speaker, what is the threat or danger that this bill addresses? Is it vagrancy? Is it pedestrian safety? Is it threatening or aggressive behaviour? If so, we already have laws dealing with those issues and if we don't, the Motor Vehicle Act may not be the best vehicle for action on these issues. I don't blame the government for trying to ban this activity. It makes them uncomfortable. It makes them uncomfortable to come face to face with poverty. It makes them uncomfortable to come face to face with youth unemployment. It makes them uncomfortable to see what eight years of Tory rule have done to our young people. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, this government wants them out of sight. It makes them uncomfortable to hear the truth. This government wants them out of sight so they can put them out of mind. ( Interruptions) This government wants to move them from our high traffic areas to the Dickensian world in the shadows of society solely because it makes them uncomfortable. (Interruptions)

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

MR. PREYRA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would like to invite the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal and his colleagues, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Health, the Minister of Justice and the Minister of Education, I would like them to come with me to Spring Garden Road, to Barrington Street, and to the corner of Robie Street and Quinpool. I would like them to speak to these young people whose livelihood they wish to take away. Many of these squeegee kids are proud young people. They are too proud to beg, Mr. Speaker, but they are not proud enough to do menial work. These ministers should talk with them or, if it makes them uncomfortable, they should talk with Bernie Smith of the Spring Garden Road Merchants Association. They should talk with Paul MacKinnon of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. They should talk with Jim Matthews of the Quinpool Road Merchants Association and they will know that these young people come from broken families, some of them from rural Nova Scotia who have fallen through a torn and tattered safety net.

AN HON. MEMBER: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member permit a question?

MR. PREYRA: No, Mr. Speaker, they will have their time to speak. (Interruptions) Some have (Interruptions)

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MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel has the floor.

MR. PREYRA: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I will repeat, in case they missed it. (Interruptions) They should talk with Bernie Smith of the Spring Garden Road Merchants Association. They should talk with Paul MacKinnon of the Downtown Halifax Business Commission. They should talk with Jim Matthews of the Quinpool Road Business Association and they will find out that many of these young people come from broken homes and broken families. Many of them come from rural Nova Scotia where they have fallen through a torn and tattered safety net. Some have substance abuse issues and addictions. Many need mental health support and some are supplementing their income because their part-time, minimum wage jobs alone cannot sustain them.

Mr. Speaker, if the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal listened to these squeegee kids, he would realize that in addition to renewing our transportation infrastructure, we need to renew and strengthen our social infrastructure. The Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, in his brief term as Minister of Justice, promised to implement the recommendations of the Nunn Inquiry. He promised to help with youth in care and youth at risk.

Mr. Speaker, it's a disgrace that the first initiative of this government, specifically aimed at youth issues, should target squeegee kids. Mr. Justice Nunn did not talk about squeegee kids, he spoke about identifying youth at risk, youth in care, many of them under the care of the Minister of Community Services, youth with mental health issues, youth who were dealing with substance issues and challenges, youth who are dealing with literacy and numeracy challenges. He said our system misses too many opportunities to help families and youth on the road to tragedy. The fact is that this government will not pay attention to young people and their families and their challenges until they engage in anti-social behaviour, until they engage in criminal behaviour and until they engage in repeat violent offences. Until they and their families are spiralling out of control, and where they do not engage in criminal behaviour, they will criminalize that behaviour because it makes them uncomfortable and they are now criminalizing poverty precisely for that reason.

In summary, Mr. Speaker, I urge the minister to talk with these squeegee kids and their families, if only out of a sense of noblesse oblige, more importantly, they should listen to them, listen to Bernard Smith, listen to Justice Nunn. I urge the minister and his colleagues to address the root causes of youth poverty, of youth homelessness, of youth unemployment and withdraw this Dickensian amendment. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and say a few words on this bill. I have had the opportunity to listen to many of my colleagues today and share some of their comments. Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to repeat everything that has been said, but

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I just want to make a few observations. I think that improving the safety on our roads throughout our province needs to be a high priority of our government, and I welcome this piece of legislation in the House. There continues to be too many accidents. I think - I won't say every day, but certainly quite often, the reports that we do see through the media, there's definitely too many accidents. There are too many people killed on our highways and there are too many people injured on our roads.

We certainly need to do more as legislators to help improve the safety on our roads. This bill that's before the House is proposing a number of amendments to help improve safety on our roads - and I'll comment on some of these in a few minutes - some people might agree with everything that's being proposed in this bill and some people may disagree with certain parts of this bill but, as you know, once this bill finishes going through second reading, this bill will then move on to the Law Amendments Committee to allow the general public to have their say. So anyone interested in speaking in support or speaking against certain amendments in the proposed piece of legislation will have their chance, will have an opportunity.

[7:30 p.m.]

I just want to touch base on several of these amendments that are included in this bill, and the first one I want to talk about is cellphones. This proposed amendment is to prevent drivers from using a hand-held cellphone. Any drivers know that when you're operating a vehicle on our highway you need to pay attention to your driving and you need to pay attention to others driving on the same road as you are.

When you look at the number of accidents on our roads this year alone, you realize these accidents were caused by some factors. Now, I'm not going to list all the factors, but one of these factors is certainly being distracted while you're driving - so you're not giving your full attention to your driving. We have seen that various groups in our province have already been calling on the province to ban cellphone use while driving; Doctors Nova Scotia is on record and the Cape Breton Regional Police are on record.

I know there have been bills tabled here in the House by the Opposition over the years and most recently to ban cellphone use while driving, but those bills were never passed by the House, so here's an opportunity to debate this issue and do something. When you look across the country we see that the government in Newfoundland and Labrador is the only government that has banned cellphones so far. The government in Quebec and other provinces are in the process of considering banning the use of cellphones. I know I'm not the only one, I'm sure all of my colleagues have received numerous e-mails, letters, calls from people trying to lobby for the government to ban the usage of cellphones.

A poll that was conducted in September across our country - and this is interesting - showed three-quarters of those polled supported banning the use of cellphones while driving.

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Across Canada - so it's not just a problem here in Nova Scotia, this is a problem that needs to be addressed and here's an opportunity. Under this piece of legislation, drivers will still be allowed to use hands-free phones. Now I'm sure this will generate some discussion at the Law Amendments Committee if Bill No. 7 finds its way over there soon. I know some people are looking for more than just banning held-held cellphones.

Furthermore, Mr. Speaker, we don't know what kind of penalties drivers will face if they're caught using a hand-held cellphone while driving, if this legislation goes through. I hope, maybe when the minister closes debate on this bill, that he may wish to inform us on the penalties that drivers will face if charged and found guilty of this offence.

I want to touch a little bit on crosswalks; crosswalks certainly have been the talk in this House for a little while. Under this bill, Mr. Speaker, there's a proposed amendment that clarifies the responsibility of pedestrians and drivers for crosswalk safety. Now, I have to say I was expecting to see a lot more from this government on addressing crosswalk safety, and I have to say I am really disappointed.

Mr. Speaker, crosswalk safety was an issue that was debated and highlighted this Spring, last year. It has been in the media, it's a real concern for many, many people. Looking at the alarming number of crosswalks accidents throughout our province in recent years again clearly shows the need for government to do something.

Now looking back when the government announced in early September of this year that they would be introducing a series of legislative changes this Fall to make crosswalks safer; certainly expectations were created, and all we have today are clarifications on the responsibilities of pedestrians and drivers at crosswalks.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to quote just a couple of lines here from the Interim Report of the Crosswalk Safety Task Force that is dated July 31, 2007. I quote: "Over the past several years Nova Scotians have expressed concerns about crosswalk safety. According to the Road Safety Advisory Committee (RSAC) there are at least three pedestrians seriously injured or one killed a month as a result of a pedestrian collision."

Now, I don't think we need to have a task force to tell us how serious crosswalk safety has become in this province. I had a close call myself, Mr. Speaker, and I can tell you it happened just down the street not long ago, and I was paying attention. Of course there was a light that said Walk. At the same time, there was a car stopped at the red light but it was obvious the motorist was determined to make a right turn on a red light. So, again, trying to make eye contact with the driver, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't going to get run over, so I was really paying attention.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe he knew you were a politician.

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MR. GAUDET: Well, maybe that. I hadn't considered that, but that's always a possibility. Anyway, I did step in the crosswalk, keeping eye contact with the driver, and as soon as I stepped in, the driver just hit the gas, determined to make a right turn on that red light. If I hadn't paid attention, I was definitely going to be hauled underneath that car. I just started pounding on the hood of that car, so finally the driver stopped (Interruption) (Laughter)

AN HON. MEMBER: Get out your cellphone.

MR. GAUDET: I'm not going to go there.

MR. ESTABROOKS: You got his attention, you should have done his windows.

MR. GAUDET: Immediately after I pounded on the hood of the car, I just kept on going. The driver just floored it, took off and made a right turn. The car behind this car stopped, rolled the window down, checked, sir, are you okay, are you all right? I said, no problem, thank you for stopping. Let me tell you, after having a close call, the next time you go through a crosswalk, you certainly pay a lot more attention. So we can pay all the attention we want but let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, in just a matter of a split second, things could have gone terribly wrong here.

Again, looking at the proposal that is here in this bill, I am very disappointed with what the government is proposing. The government had lots of time since the Spring and certainly over the last few years. The government truly does not need to reinvent ways to improve our crosswalk safety. I am sure with the help of other provincial jurisdictions, with the help of our federal Department of Transportation and with the help of other jurisdictions out of our country, the government could have made significant proposals or brought significant proposals for us under this piece of legislation to start addressing crosswalk safety. But for whatever reason, the government has decided not to and we are going to have to wait longer for this government to act on crosswalk safety.

Also, in this bill, Mr. Speaker, the government is proposing fine increases for motorists who fail to yield the right of way to pedestrians in crosswalks. We see the first offence, we are looking at a $500 fine, the second offence $1,000 and the third offence $2,000. Again, I am sure government can do better to come up with ways in order to help address crosswalk safety.

Before I move on to the next amendment, Mr. Speaker, I want to commend HRM - the Halifax Regional Municipality - for the pamphlet that they have forwarded to residents here in HRM on crosswalk safety over the summer months. This type of initiative is certainly needed and needs to be repeated. The more information that is circulated to the general public, the more successful we are going to be in addressing crosswalk safety.

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I want to say a few words on street racing. This bill proposes to address street racing. As everyone is aware, street racing has become a more serious problem in our province and police need tougher laws and tougher penalties in order to try to control it. Street racing is definitely not acceptable on our roads and we need to put a stop to this before any more innocent children, innocent people get hurt or killed. Mr. Speaker, we have had terrible accidents in our province and we have seen terrible accidents happening outside of this province not that long ago. So when I look at one of the neighbouring provinces, Ontario for example, that has brought in tougher penalties in order to crack down on street racing, then we need to do the same before we have more serious accidents and more people killed or injured on our highways. So I welcome the change that is being proposed there.

Mr. Speaker, in this bill we are talking about the use of red light enforcement cameras and the use of photo radars. Again, this is another proposal that is in this bill. We do understand this has been tried in Ontario and later was scrapped by the government. It was also tried in British Columbia and scrapped there as well. So again, Mr. Speaker, by proposing to bring in photo radar and red light enforcements, especially at intersections, you have to ask yourself who did the government consult with? Why is the government bringing this forward? We know it hasn't worked elsewhere but yet here we are looking at trying this out. We know that if this amendment does pass, motorists will be responsible if they lend their vehicle to someone else to drive. Now, these systems will automatically take a picture of the speeding vehicle going through a red light at an intersection or, at the same time, vehicles that are speeding on our streets.

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[7:45 p.m.]

Now, I would anticipate these photo radar machines will be installed probably within the city or town limits. Again, this raises more questions on how vehicle owners will sort this out once they get a ticket in the mail. You know, their vehicle has been ticketed by the police for going through a red light or for speeding on our streets. So I can just start imagining the debate that will evolve among drivers when the owner herself, or himself, was not driving that vehicle but, at the same time, here's a ticket or a bill that needs to be paid. So, again, I have many concerns and I'm sure many Nova Scotians share those same concerns on photo radars and on these red light enforcement cameras.

They've been tried elsewhere. They've been discontinued. We don't need to reinvent this whole system, Mr. Speaker. I think the minister and his staff have an opportunity, they have an opportunity to consult with those jurisdictions that had tried this and unfortunately for whatever reason have decided to discontinue this service. So, again, I hope the minister will be able to provide us with some explanation, you know, why the government is recommending to go forward with this and at the same time some of his colleagues have decided to discontinue the usage of this.

This bill also provides the authority for doubling the fines for speeding in school zones and in temporary work areas. Again, other jurisdictions have had this in place for some time. I recall a few years ago, Mr. Speaker, travelling in British Columbia and seeing posted signs along the highway to advise motorists for such infractions. So if you happened to speed in an area where highway workers were doing work on the highway and you were caught going over the speed limit, your fine was going to be doubled. Now, at the same time, we have had debate about increasing the fines for speeding in school zones. So this under the Motor Vehicle Act that's before the House will allow the police to charge motorists and unfortunately motorists will have to pay double the price for speeding in such areas.

Mr. Speaker, again, there's no doubt, we need to do more. We need to do more to protect students in school zones and we need to do more to protect highway workers while working on our roads.

This is certainly welcome news but as I have indicated earlier, Mr. Speaker, this bill certainly has some areas that are probably up for discussion and up for debate. I'm sure it's going to generate a lot of attention in the days and the weeks ahead.

Now I'm sure at some point this bill will eventually go through second reading before it is sent over to Law Amendments Committee. Mr. Speaker, this afternoon many of my colleagues have raised many concerns with regard to this bill. I don't anticipate that the minister has all the answers at his fingertips tonight but I hope that before the minister closes debate on second reading on Bill No. 7, that the minister will provide the House with a little bit of background information on some of these proposals that are before the House, why

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these are being recommended - unfortunately, not having all the background that the minister and his department staff has, in order to make a final decision on supporting this bill as it is.

Now unfortunately when we do vote on this bill, Mr. Speaker, as you are fully aware, even though there are certain parts in this bill that we have no problem in supporting but then, at the same time, we have questions in other areas of this bill that's before the House. You can't decide to vote one way on just a few clauses of this bill - it doesn't work that way. You end up at the end of the day, at the end of the exercise, to vote either in support or against the bill that's before the House.

So many concerns have been raised. Unfortunately, as I've said, we lack some of that information here tonight and I just hope that at some point some of that information will be provided to the House. So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my seat and I'll return another day. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I guess this must be a clapper light because it came on when my colleagues applauded. I'm glad to have an opportunity, actually, to speak to this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I guess one of the areas that I do want to address is around the section of the bill that would make it an offence for squeegee kids to solicit money. I know that's not the wording in the bill but that's basically the context in which I see it.

I want to say to the House, Mr. Speaker, that for those who wouldn't know, I was a teacher for 15 years. (Laughter) No, I wasn't a squeegee kid, no. One of the things I learned, I think, in 15 years of teaching was that people should not really worry about the state of the planet in terms of the next generation. Most young people that I taught were fine people, they were excellent people. They are the kind of people that you could sleep well at night knowing that at some point in time the world would be in their hands.

So, Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this part of this piece of legislation - you really have to wonder, with all the important issues that could be dealt with by a government, why this would be deemed to be significant enough to be put into legislation to really prevent this activity or prevent these people from trying to get some money and trying to offer a service to justify asking for that money.

I think I'm a bit disturbed by that section of the legislation. I think my colleague, the member for Halifax Citadel probably said it best - and I won't try to reiterate all of that - but I have to say that quite often one of the phrases we hear from government is, evidence-based. You know, we have evidence-based policy, we have evidence-based legislation. I want to say

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that in some of this bill, I would agree with the minister that there's evidence to do some of the legislation that's being enacted in this bill.

I would agree that all of the stats are supportive of his trying to bring in cellphone legislation so that in this province we can try to avoid the accidents that would occur from inattention with people using hand-held cellphones. That is part of this legislation that I would say to the minister that I would agree with, that it's evidence-based and kudos to him for doing this. I would say our former member in this House, Jerry Pye, would be very pleased to see that the minister has gone down this road.

We're getting close to the hour of adjournment for the day so, with that, I move adjournment of this debate. I'll take my seat in hopes to rise again on Thursday for this. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 7. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with that adjournment, that concludes the government's business for the day. I now call upon the honourable Opposition House Leader for Opposition Business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I move that we do now rise to meet tomorrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. After the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Bill No. 9 and Bill No. 17.

I move adjournment.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise to meet tomorrow at 2:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 7:56 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 288

By: Hon. Mark Parent (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas the late Allister Marshall of Woodville, N.S., was inducted into the Atlantic Agriculture Hall of Fame in a ceremony on October 25, 2007, at the Nova Scotia Agriculture College in Bible Hill; and

Whereas Mr. Marshall contributed significantly to the agriculture industry throughout his years working with the province in the field of tree fruit production; and

Whereas Mr. Marshall made significant contributions to organizations in his community by his dedication to his 26 years of employment with the Department of Agriculture for the Nova Scotia Farm Loan Board, as a board member on the Scotian Gold Cooperatives Limited, and the Nova Scotia Fruit Growers Association;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Mr. Marshall's outstanding efforts to champion and help develop the agricultural industry in western Nova Scotia as it is known today.

RESOLUTION NO. 289

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Cheryl Degiano from Hubbards has been recognized for her long service of 30 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Cheryl Degiano for her dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish her much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 290

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Edwin McClare from Hubbards has been recognized for his long service of 25 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Edwin McClare for his dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish him much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 291

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Faye Deagle from Boutiliers Point has been recognized for her long service of 30 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Faye Deagle for her dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish her much success in the years to come.

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RESOLUTION NO. 292

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Joan Collier from McGraths Cove has been recognized for her long service of 35 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Joan Collier for her dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish her much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 293

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Joan Kaizer from Hubbards has been recognized for her long service of 25 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Joan Kaizer for her dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish her much success in the years to come.

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RESOLUTION NO. 294

By: Hon. Judy Streatch (Community Services)

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

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia depend on many government services that are essential to their every day survival; and

Whereas these services are delivered by dedicated professionals from every corner of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas John Schwartz from Hubbards has been recognized for his long service of 25 years to the people of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank John Schwartz for his dedication and commitment to serving the people of Nova Scotia and wish him much success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 295

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas the Burlington Community Club has been in existence since the 1950s, gathering together the community for a wide variety of events; and

Whereas for the past 20 years, Brian Hirtle, the Burlington Community Club President, has spearheaded efforts to raise funds and unite the community with the common goal of creating a vital and sustaining community organization; and

Whereas 2007 marks the 20th year that the Burlington Community Club has put together festivities to celebrate Canada Day, a day to look back on the accomplishments of fellow Canadians, the sacrifices that have been made on our behalf, and to reflect on what a great privilege it is to live in this country;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly commend Brian Hirtle on his community-minded efforts and recognize the people of Burlington for their dedication of commemorating Canada's anniversary of Confederation.

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RESOLUTION NO. 296

By: Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas Brandon Rosenburg is a member of the Sackville Chebucto Athletics, a track and field organization that has been in existence for 35 years; and

Whereas 8 out of the 18 medals won by the 2007 Nova Scotia Legion team at the Royal Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships were awarded to members of the Sackville Chebucto Athletics; and

Whereas Brandon Rosenburg was awarded a gold medal in the Juvenile Boys Triple Jump with a distance of 13.55 metres and a bronze medal for Juvenile Boys High Jump with a height of 1.95 metres;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Brandon Rosenburg of the Sackville Chebucto Athletics for winning a gold medal in the Juvenile Boys Triple Jump and a bronze medal in the Juvenile Boys High Jump at the 2007 Royal Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 297

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Energy)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Lions Club named Brenda Hattie as their 2007 Citizen of the Year in recognition of her tremendous gift of benevolence in the giving of her time and talents; and

Whereas Brenda is always involved in a variety of fundraising efforts and is a key volunteer at the Tabitha Centre clothing and furniture bank; and

Whereas besides her involvement at the Tabitha Centre, Brenda is also an active volunteer providing numerous Christmas dinners while also organizing a project to assist young people in getting bicycles;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly commend Brenda Hattie for her dynamic volunteer work and congratulate her on being named 2007 Citizen of the Year by the Yarmouth Lions Club.

RESOLUTION NO. 298

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Energy)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Civil Air Search and Rescue Association was awarded the Lieutenant Colonel Colin Goodman Search and Rescue Excellence Award for compiling the best score at the recent Canadian Civil Air Search and Rescue Association competition held in Goose Bay, Labrador; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Civil Air Search and Rescue Association became the only team to ever win this award of excellence twice; and

Whereas the 2007 Yarmouth team consisted of members Cliff Gavel, Jaye Frye, Jon Smith and Barry Goreham who are already thinking about the 2008 competition in Manitoba;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of Cliff, Jaye, Jon and Barry for bringing home this prestigious national honour to Yarmouth and wish them every success in 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 299

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Energy)

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

Whereas Barrington's Lynne Crowell, in September, was inducted into the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame in Bridgewater; and

Whereas Lynne has performed publicly since she was three years old, singing and entertaining people from across Nova Scotia while being the recipient of the Lighthouse Route Volunteer Award in 2000; and

Whereas Lynne has also appeared on television shows, singing with different groups as well as choirs while supporting numerous volunteer initiatives;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud Lynne Crowell of Barrington, Shelburne County, for achieving such a significant milestone in her musical career with her induction into Nova Scotia's Country Music Hall of Fame.

RESOLUTION NO. 300

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas each year the Canadian College of Health Service Executives - Bluenose Chapter give the CEO's Award of Leadership and Innovation in Health Care to a deserving individual or team; and

Whereas the award recipient must display leadership excellence in organization or the health care field, promote the health services profession, show outstanding contribution as a mentor in the field, and demonstrate innovative operational approaches to significantly improve the delivery of health care; and

Whereas this year's recipient of the CEO's Award of Leadership and Innovation in Health Care - Bluenose Chapter is Sheila Rankin, Director of Human Resources with Annapolis Valley Health.

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Sheila Rankin on this achievement and recognize her efforts in bringing leadership and innovation to the health services field.

RESOLUTION NO. 301

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas Tracy Brophy of Whites Lake has patiently requested proper signage for reasons of safety at the corner of Bayview and the Prospect Road; and

Whereas this responsible parent should be recognized for her initiative; and

Whereas children's safety going to and from school must be a priority;

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Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend and thank Tracy Brophy on her initiative and in her attempts to make the Prospect Road safer for the local schoolchildren.

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RESOLUTION NO. 302

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Rebecca Deinstadt of Churchover, Shelburne County, donated her hair to the Angel Hair for Kids program that provides wigs for children who have lost their hair due to illness; and

Whereas Rebecca went into Jacklyn's Hair Salon for a trim and came out with an 11.5- inch ponytail in hand; and

Whereas the donated hair helps make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to alopecia, burns and cancer treatments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Rebecca Deinstadt for her unselfish gift of hair to the Angel Hair for Kids program to help make wigs for those less fortunate children living with hair loss due to various health-related illnesses.

RESOLUTION NO. 303

By: Mr. Michel Samson (Richmond)

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

Whereas the Cumberland Health Authority was recently forced to close its intensive care unit for the next seven days because of a lack of internal medical specialists; and

Whereas patients from Cumberland County will now be forced to travel outside their community to receive medical services; and

Whereas it is the second time this year that the Cumberland Health Authority has found it necessary to close its doors and transfer patients elsewhere;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly urge this government to deal with the real problems facing our health care system and to stop picking fights with our health care professionals.

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RESOLUTION NO. 304

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (The Premier)

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

Whereas constituency assistants are the front-line workers of our local offices; and

Whereas these valuable team members respond each day to the concerns of local citizens and make the job of MLAs much easier; and

Whereas their task becomes that much more difficult when the House is in session, as they hold down the fort while we spend the majority of the week in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute all constituency assistants and thank them for their dedication to their communities and our province.

RESOLUTION NO. 305

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Lois O'Brien of Oxford, Cumberland County was one of several who were recognized for their dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department's Auxiliary by receiving service awards; and

Whereas on November 10th, friends, family, firefighters and auxiliary gathered together in Oxford to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas and it was essential that the volunteer auxiliary be recognized for their service as they play such an important and crucial role in the success of any department; and

Whereas Lois O'Brien was recognized on that evening by being named co-recipient of the Marion Doncaster Award for Auxiliary Member of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lois O'Brien for her years of dedicated service to the auxiliary, her community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

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RESOLUTION NO. 306

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Rob Blake, a Grade 10 student at Oxford Regional High School participated in the Nova Scotia Skills Competition at NSCC Akerley Campus in April, 2007; and

Whereas Rob brought home the Silver Medal for his skills in the outdoor power and recreation equipment component of the competition; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Skills competitions are held to encourage Nova Scotia's youth to explore and choose skilled careers in trades & technologies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rob Blake on this outstanding achievement and we wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 307

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Nova Scotians realize the dedication and hard work of their volunteer firefighters and were honoured to gather together to recognize their efforts; and

Whereas on November 24th, friends, family and firefighters gathered together in Westchester to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas; and

Whereas Doug Sanderman was recognized on that evening for 15 years of dedicated service to the Westchester Fire Department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Doug Sanderman for his 15 years of dedicated service to the department, his community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

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RESOLUTION NO. 308

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Jeremy Allen, a Joggins native, has proven that he is among one of Canada's best up and coming mechanics; and

Whereas in April 2007, Jeremy took home a Gold Medal in post-secondary automotive service at the 2007 Nova Scotia Skills Competition in Halifax, earning him the right to participate in the Canadian Skills Competition in Saskatoon in June; and

Whereas Jeremy took great pride in representing Nova Scotia and studied hard to prepare himself for the competition where he proudly earned a Silver Medal in automotive service repair;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jeremy Allen on this outstanding achievement and we wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Kylee Balser, a student at West End Memorial School in Springhill was one of three Grade 3 students whose Remembrance Day project was chosen to be presented at their Remembrance Day program; and

Whereas family, friends, teachers, students and local dignitaries gathered at the school to pay their respect to the soldiers who fought for our freedom and those who continue to do so; and

Whereas Kylee Balser showed her respect for the veterans with her project that was presented during the ceremony;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kylee Balser on having her Remembrance Day project chosen to be presented at this very important ceremony and wish her continued success in all future endeavours.

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RESOLUTION NO. 310

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Brittany Barton of Springhill participated in the Knights of Columbus Nova Scotia Free Throw Championships in Truro in May, 2007; and

Whereas Britanny, along with 150 other students between the ages of 10 and 14 participated in the annual event; and

Whereas Brittany came home with a Silver Medal for her score of 18 out of 25;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Brittany Barton on receiving the Silver Medal for the Knights of Columbus Nova Scotia Free Throw Championships and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Dylan Boss, a student at West End Memorial School in Springhill was one of three Grade 4 students whose Remembrance Day project was chosen to be presented at their Remembrance Day program; and

Whereas family, friends, teachers, students and local dignitaries gathered at the school to pay their respect to the soldiers who fought for our freedom and those who continue to do so; and

Whereas Dylan Boss showed his respect for the veterans with his project that was presented during the ceremony;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dylan Boss on having his Remembrance Day project chosen to be presented at this very important ceremony and wish him continued success in all future endeavours.

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RESOLUTION NO. 312

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas James Bowes of Springhill Regional High School was the proud recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for 2006-07; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Award was instituted and administered by the Department of Education, Province of Nova Scotia, which is awarded to one boy and one girl in each school who has commendable performance in the courses in which they are enrolled and who has demonstrated qualities of leadership and service in the school and community; and

Whereas the Grade 11 high school students and first year vocational school program students were nominated by their school and the students nominated are certainly worthy recipients of this award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate James Bowes on receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Award and wish him all the best in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Nova Scotians realize the dedication and hard work of their volunteer firefighters and were honoured to gather together to recognize their efforts; and

Whereas on November 10th, friends, family, firefighters and auxiliary gathered together in Oxford to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas; and

Whereas Lawrence Briggs was recognized on that evening for 20 years of dedicated service to the Oxford Fire Department;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lawrence Briggs for his 20 years of dedicated service to the department, his community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Sharon Brown of Oxford, Cumberland County was one of several who were recognized for their dedicated service to the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department's Auxiliary by receiving service awards; and

Whereas on November 10th, friends, family, firefighters and auxiliary gathered together in Oxford to honour the years of service of those members who give so unselfishly of their time and efforts to help ensure the safety of their community and surrounding areas and it was essential that the volunteer auxiliary be recognized for their service as they play such an important and crucial role in the success of any department; and

Whereas Sharon Brown was recognized on that evening by being named co-recipient of the Marion Doncaster Award for Auxiliary Member of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sharon Brown for her years of dedicated service to the auxiliary, her community and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas Savanna Faith Callison of Advocate District School was the proud recipient of the Lieutenant Governor's Award for 2006-07; and

Whereas the Lieutenant Governor's Award was instituted and is administered by the Department of Education, Province of Nova Scotia, which is awarded to one boy and one girl in each school who has commendable performance in the courses in which they are enrolled and who has demonstrated qualities of leadership and service in the school and community; and

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Whereas the Grade 11 high school students and first year vocational school program students were nominated by their school and the students nominated are certainly worthy recipients of this award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Savanna Faith Callison on receiving the Lieutenant Governor's Award and wish her all the best in all future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 316

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal)

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

Whereas on May 16, 2007, many residents of Cumberland County took a major step in improving their future by graduating from the CAN-U Program in Amherst, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the CAN-U Program, formed in 1994, with classes in Cumberland County first offered in 1955, offered to Adult Learners (the heartbeat of CAN-U) from various backgrounds who share common goals and barriers and have returned to class to improve their educational skills and to feel good about themselves, their accomplishments and their potential; and

Whereas we are proud to include the following constituents of Cumberland South to the list of graduates of the CAN-U Program: Donna Benjamin, Carrie Brown, Kevin Capone, Marie Charlton, Naomi Cole, Brenda Creelman, Ronnie Ellis, Heidi Fortune, Liz Higgins, Linda Lockhart, Rubin Millard, Gloria Miller and Melissa Patriquin;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the CAN-U students on receiving their certificates and wish them all the best of luck in all of their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 317

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (The Premier)

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

Whereas just as the sport of soccer continues to grow worldwide, so too is it growing in popularity in the County of Inverness, a region rich in athletic tradition; and

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Whereas the Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Division 4 Girls Soccer Championship was recently held in Lunenburg; and

Whereas the Inverness Rebels, undaunted by Hurricane Noel, which hit the province that day, defeated Pugwash in a shootout to claim the Division 4 Girls Provincial Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the coach and members of the Inverness Rebels Girls Soccer Team for their talent, diligence and hard work in attaining the 2007 championship.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Cole Harbour)

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

Whereas during the night of August 27th, Silvia Bortignon was assaulted by three individuals as she walked across the Common in the City of Halifax; and

Whereas this elderly lady was unable to defend herself against the attack; and

Whereas Jonathan McAuley, who earns his living doing odd jobs and as a squeegee kid near the Halifax Common, quickly responded to cries for help from Silvia Bortignon, and coming to her aid along with his faithful dog, Sheba, chased after the attackers to help police apprehend and place the attackers into custody;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend our gratitude to Jonathan McAuley for his swift and selfless action in rescuing an elderly woman from certain harm and preventing a much more severe injury due to a cowardly attack.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Rebecca Deinstadt of Churchover, Shelburne County, donated her hair to the Angel Hair for Kids program that provides wigs for children who have lost their hair due to illness; and

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Whereas Rebecca went into Jacklyn's Hair Salon for a trim and came out with an 11.5 inch pony tail in hand; and

Whereas the donated hair helps make wigs for children who have lost their hair due to alopecia, burns and cancer treatments;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Rebecca Deinstadt for her unselfish gift of hair to the Angel Hair for Kids program to help make wigs for those less fortunate children living with hair loss due to various health-related illnesses.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

By: Ms. Vicki Conrad (Queens)

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is the highest honour bestowed to individuals by the Province of Nova Scotia , encouraging excellence by recognizing Nova Scotians for their outstanding contributions or achievements; and

Whereas Joyce Barkhouse, a recent inducted member of the Order of Nova Scotia, spent years of her teaching career in Milton and Liverpool, Queens County; and

Whereas Joyce wrote many books which include Pit Pony, Anna's Pet, Smallest Rabbit, The Heroine of Lunenburg, and Yesterday's Children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Joyce Barkhouse on the honour of being one of five Nova Scotians recognized by the Order of Nova Scotia for her outstanding contributions and achievements and commend Joyce on her writing achievements.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

By: Ms. Marilyn More (Dartmouth South-Portland Valley)

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

Whereas internationally-renowned artist, Tom Forrestall, was inducted into the 2007 Order of Nova Scotia for his "meaningful and widespread contributions to the cultural vitality of the province"; and

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Whereas as the official cultural advisor to the locally-based Pugwash Peace Exchange, Tom unveiled his painting of the historic Nobel Peace Medal awarded to the Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs; and

Whereas Tom Forrestall wants this painting to inspire others to work towards nuclear disarmament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Tom Forestall for his many contributions to our visual arts and cultural life on the occasion of his induction into the 2007 Order of Nova Scotia and thank him for his enduring message of peace.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

By: Mr. Gordon Gosse (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas on November 15, 2007, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League announced its scholastic players of the month; and

Whereas this award recognizes student athletes for their performance both on the ice as well as in the classroom; and

Whereas Marek Benda of the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles was chosen scholastic player for the month of October 2007;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Marek Benda on being named the recipient of the scholastic player of the month for October 2007 and wish Marek all the best in his future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 323

By: Ms. Becky Kent (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage)

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

Whereas Sea Gulps Coffee Company of Eastern Passage is a new business in our community that offers an inviting place to enjoy a cup of coffee and relax; and

Whereas Sea Gulps supports the community through donations, fundraising and community events such as Canada Day activities for children, story time, the making of

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Christmas ornaments, as well as offering a free meeting space for community groups to gather; and

Whereas Sea Gulps has been voted the best local coffee house by readers of the Dartmouth Cole Harbour Weekly News;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate owners/operators Anne and Ray Clinkard of the Sea Gulps Coffee Company on being voted the best local coffee house and thank them for the support they have both shown and provided to the community of Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

By: Ms. Becky Kent (Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage)

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

Whereas neighbourhood safety and crime in our communities is foremost in the minds of the citizens of Nova Scotia with the current government acknowledging this issue as a priority in our province; and

Whereas YACPAC - Youth and Community Partnership Against Crime, was formed in the communities of Eastern Passage and Cow Bay in the year 2004 and has been instrumental in the re-establishment of the DARE program (Drug Awareness Resistance Education) in our local schools and continues its efforts to re-establish a youth drop-in centre in the area; and

Whereas YACPAC has the mandate of engaging the youth of the area to be involved in their community, taking action against crime, and toward positive actions in the community and has been instrumental in the development of SK8 Park, Community Youth Needs Assessment, Neighbourhood Watch, Citizens on Patrol, and community policing offices in both communities of Eastern Passage and Cow Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly encourage and support the efforts of YACPAC, Youth and Community Partnership Against Crime, in their ongoing efforts to reduce crime by working with the youth of the area in a community partnership forum and thank YACPAC for taking on this challenge that faces so many of our communities in such a constructive, positive and effective way.

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RESOLUTION NO. 325

By: Mr. John MacDonell (East Hants)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is marketed as Canada's Ocean Playground for good reason; and

Whereas the Clam Harbour Sandcastle Building Contest is a popular, seaside annual event; and

Whereas Shawn Gayton of Nine Mile River won the sandcastle category this year at the 29th annual event;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Shawn Gayton on his ability to turn sand into a creative masterpiece and on winning the 29th Annual Sandcastle Building Competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 326

By: Ms. Joan Massey (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas on May 18, 2007, 26 Nova Scotia students joined about 450 of their peers from across the country for a nine-day science fair competition in Truro, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Nova Scotia came away with four silver and seven bronze medals; and

Whereas Emma McBoyle and Amie MacDonald, students at Ellenvale Junior High School, received honourable mention in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences for Mycological Medicine;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Emma Boyle and Amie MacDonald on their honourable mentions in biotechnology and pharmaceutical sciences for Mycological Medicine at the National Science Fair.

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RESOLUTION NO. 327

By: Mr. Leonard Preyra (Halifax Citadel)

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

Whereas the Holocaust represents one of the darkest chapters in human history, one that must not be forgotten; and

Whereas this past October 29th to November 9th, the 4th Annual Holocaust Education Week was held in Halifax; and

Whereas the Holocaust Education Week's organizing committee was co-chaired by Michelle Masters, Bobbi Zahra and Matt Godwin;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Michelle Masters, Bobbi Zahra and Matt Godwin for their work in helping us to remember the Holocaust and its legacy and in promoting understanding and respect between people of different faith and cultures.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

By: Ms. Michele Raymond (Halifax Atlantic)

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

Whereas the honourable member for Eastern Shore is the new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage; and

Whereas the Eastern Shore has suffered from years of neglect by this government and its tourism, cultural and heritage infrastructure faces many challenges; and

Whereas these challenges are growing in urgency and a plan to stabilize and strengthen the tourism industry on the Eastern Shore is desperately needed;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage publically resolve to work with tourism operators and stakeholders on the Eastern Shore to address that region's specific issues and needs.

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RESOLUTION NO. 329

By: Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas Sportswheels began in Prince Edward Island as a bicycle repair business in 1947; and

Whereas Sportswheels moved to Sackville, Nova Scotia, in 1963 and has since expanded to include sales of bicycles, hockey and sporting equipment while providing exceptional customer service; and

Whereas Sportswheels will mark their 60th Anniversary this year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Sackville's Sportswheels on their 60th Anniversary and wish them continued success in the years to come.

RESOLUTION NO. 330

By: Mr. Trevor Zinck (Dartmouth North)

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

Whereas in 2008, Alice Housing will mark its 25th Anniversary helping women and children in need; and

Whereas on October 22nd, Alice Housing was awarded the Donner Foundation Award for the second time in three years; and

Whereas the Donner Awards are the largest and most prestigious awards program for the non-profit sector in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the staff, board and volunteers at Alice Housing for their hard work and for this recognition and wish them all the best as their silver anniversary approaches.

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RESOLUTION NO. 331

By: Mr. Harold Theriault (Digby-Annapolis)

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

Whereas the importance of fish in the Maritimes is diverse as it not only provides thousands of jobs on both coasts but is also essential to living a long and healthy life; and

Whereas fish is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids which are essential for a healthy heart and optimal brain growth and development; and

Whereas numerous studies prove that fish-based Omega-3s also play a role in decreasing cholesterol, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, Alzheimer's and certain cancers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage the education of Nova Scotians on the benefits of incorporating fish into our diet.

RESOLUTION NO. 332

By: Mr. Wayne Gaudet (Clare)

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

Whereas the week of November 15th through November 21st is recognized as National Addictions Awareness Week; and

Whereas Addictions Awareness Week is a great opportunity to promote healthy choices in dealing with substance use, gambling and addictions-related issues; and

Whereas this year marks the 20th Anniversary of Addictions Awareness Week;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly work in their constituencies to enhance people's awareness of addiction and strive to promote healthy choices surrounding addictions.

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RESOLUTION NO. 333

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas it is a well-known fact that ERs throughout Nova Scotia are suffering due to staffing shortages; and

Whereas hospitals throughout the Cape Breton District Health Authority have been among the hardest hit, with New Waterford Consolidated being closed 1,092 hours so far this year compared to 114 for all of 2006; and

Whereas this is unacceptable and action needs to be taken immediately to remedy this growing crisis;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and his new Progressive Conservative Government act quickly to remedy this problem which they have let go on for far too long.

RESOLUTION NO. 334

By: Mr. Manning MacDonald (Cape Breton South)

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

Whereas in December 2005, Health Ministers from across the country met on patient wait time guarantees to develop wait time benchmarks; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has some of the highest wait times for many surgical procedures, such as knee replacement; and

Whereas the monies allocated to the province from the federal government in the form of a Wait Times Reduction Fund is sitting idle in a government bank account while many Nova Scotians continue to suffer while waiting for medical procedures;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly encourage the Government of Nova Scotia to put the priorities of Nova Scotians first and commit to a real wait times reduction strategy.

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RESOLUTION NO. 335

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas approximately 1 in every 10,000 Canadians has Huntington Disease and approximately 5 in every 10,000 are at risk of developing the disease; and

Whereas there is still no cure for Huntington Disease and there are no known treatments to prevent Huntington Disease or slow it down; and

Whereas the accelerating pace of research for Huntington Disease is offering more hope than ever before that a cure will be discovered one day;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly recognize November as Huntington Disease Awareness Month and acknowledge the dedication provided by those who work to eliminate this affliction.