Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 08-26

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://nslegislature.ca/index.php/proceedings/hansard/

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 2008

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TIR: Hirtle Rd. - Repave/Upgrade,
Ms. V. Conrad 2757
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health: Med. Sch. Seats (Dal.) - Addition,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2758
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2476, Educ. - United Way Campaign: Leadership - Congrats,
The Premier 2760
Vote - Affirmative 2761
Res. 2477, Reed, Dan: NBA Dev. League - Welcome,
The Premier 2761
Vote - Affirmative 2762
Res. 2478, LWD: OH & S/Environ. Professionals - Work Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 2762
Vote - Affirmative 2763
Res. 2479, Alice St. Elem. Sch./Truro Tree Comm.: Arbor Day -
Celebrate, Hon. D. Morse 2763
Vote - Affirmative 2764
Res. 2480, Cdn. Red Cross (N.S. Div.): Disaster Mgt. Conf. -
Delegates Welcome, Hon. J. Streatch 2764
Vote - Affirmative 2765
Res. 2481, Armitage, Fred - Inspiring Lives Award,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2765
Vote - Affirmative 2765
Res. 2482, Glube Cup: Competitors/Vols. - Thank,
Hon. B. Barnet 2765
Vote - Affirmative 2766
Res. 2483, N.S. Organic Coun.: Formation - Support,
Hon. B. Taylor 2766
Vote - Affirmative 2767
Res. 2484, Literacy N.S./LWD Poster Contest: Winners -
Congrats., Hon. M. Parent 2767
Vote - Affirmative 2768
Res. 2485, HMCS Charlottetown: Commander/Ship's Co. -
Welcome Home, Hon. R. Hurlburt 2768
Vote - Affirmative 2769
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 159, Tobacco Access Act, Ms. J. Massey 2769
No. 160, Heritage Property Act, Mr. H. Theriault 2769
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 2486, HMCS Charlottetown: Officers/Crew - Welcome Home,
Mr. D. Dexter 2769
Vote - Affirmative 2770
Res. 2487, Emera - Healing the Bruises Prog.: Support - Congrats.,
Ms. D. Whalen 2770
Vote - Affirmative 2770
Res. 2488, Glad Tiding Pentecostal: Leadership - Acknowledge,
Mr. C. Porter 2771
Vote - Affirmative 2771
Res. 2489, Burgess, Andrew/Avramenko, Derek: Heritage Fair Proj. -
Recognize, Ms. V. Conrad 2771
Vote - Affirmative 2772
Res. 2490, Bohemier, Albert - OTANS Petroleum Pioneer (2008),
Mr. M. Samson 2772
Vote - Affirmative 2773
Res. 2491, Eddy, Doug: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. P. Dunn 2773
Vote - Affirmative 2773
Res. 2492, Banks, Gary: Shag Hbr./Bear Point Vol. FD
Scroll of Recognition (35 Yrs.), Mr. S. Belliveau 2774
Vote - Affirmative 2774
Res. 2493, West Kings Dist. HS - Grease: Production Best Wishes,
Mr. L. Glavine 2774
Vote - Affirmative 2775
Res. 2494, Baddeck Curling Club: Work Ethic - Applaud,
Mr. K. Bain, 2775
Vote - Affirmative 2776
Res. 2495, Fraser, Ivan - Peggy of the Cove, Secrets:
Publication - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 2776
Vote - Affirmative 2776
Res. 2496, Lun. Co. Ground Search & Rescue Anniv. (30th),
Hon. M. Baker (by Hon. J. Muir) 2777
Vote - Affirmative 2777
Res. 2497, Ross, Lauren: N. Col. HS - Female Student of Mo.,
Hon. K. Casey 2777
Vote - Affirmative 2778
Res. 2498, N. Sydney Garden Club - Anniv. (50th),
Hon. C. Clarke 2778
Vote - Affirmative 2779
Res. 2499, Wagner, Gladys R.: Commun. Inspiration - Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 2779
Vote - Affirmative 2779
Res. 2500, Bedford Players - Anniv. (25th),
Hon. L. Goucher 2780
Vote - Affirmative 2780
Res. 2501, Boudreau, Andrew - Royal Conservatory of
Music Silver Medal, Hon. J. Muir 2780
Vote - Affirmative 2781
Res. 2502, Kings Citizens Patrol: Time/Commitment - Recognize,
Hon. D. Morse 2781
Vote - Affirmative 2782
Res. 2503, Yarmouth Co. Sports Heritage Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Hon. C. d'Entremont 2782
Vote - Affirmative 2783
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 227, Justice: Cent. NS Correctional Facility - Problems,
Mr. D. Dexter 2783
No. 228, Justice: Critical Incident Review - Findings,
Mr. M. Samson 2785
No. 229, Health: Physician Recruitment & Retention (Pictou Co.) -
Criticism Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 2786^
No. 230, TIR - Cabinet Vehicles: Personal Usage - Reimbursement,
Mr. F. Corbett 2787
No. 231, Health: Nurse Vacancies - Numbers,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2789
No. 232, Justice: Correctional Officers/Inmates - Ratios Maintain,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2791
No. 233, Justice: Electronic Monitoring - Status,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 2792
No. 234, Health Prom. & Protection: Mainland Common Rec. Ctr. -
Funding, Ms. D. Whalen 2794
No. 235, Health: Health Care Workers - Shortage,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2795
No. 236, Justice: Corrections Officers - Enforcement Tools,
Mr. M. Samson 2797
No. 237, TIR: Six Mile Brook Rd. (Pictou Co.) - Replacement,
Mr. C. Parker 2798
No. 238, Nat. Res.: Upper Ohio - Electrical Serv.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2800
No. 239, Econ. Dev. - Commun. Dev. Trust Fund: NS Portion -
Details, Mr. H. Theriault 2801
No. 240, Health: Continuing Care - Devolution,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2802
No. 241, Fin. - Pub. Serv. Pension Fund: NSGEU Concerns - Address,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 2804
No. 242, TIR: Crosswalk Safety - Funding,
Mr. W. Gaudet 2805
No. 243, Health - Autism Working Group: Formation - Timeline,
Ms. B. Kent 2806
No. 244, Com. Serv.: Home Repair Grants - Income Levels,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2808
No. 245, Educ.: Reg. Libraries - Financial Aid,
Mr. L. Glavine 2809
No. 246, TIR: Secondary Roads - Priority Status,
Ms. V. Conrad 2810
No. 247, Agric. - Agric. Ind.: Action - Lack Explain,
Mr. L. Glavine 2811
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 119, Health Act 2813
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 2813
Hon. C. d'Entremont 2817
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 2821
Mr. L. Glavine 2825
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 2082, Prem. - Gas Pricing: Plan - Develop 2828
Mr. M. Samson 2828
Hon. J. Muir 2832
Mr. G. Steele 2835
Mr. K. Colwell 2837
Hon. C. Clarke 2838
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. T. Zinck 2841
Mr. H. Theriault 2845
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 4:29 P.M. 2848
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 8:47 P.M. 2848
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 146, Motor Vehicle Act 2849
Ms. V. Conrad 2849
Mr. Manning MacDonald 2850
Hon. M. Scott 2850
Vote - Affirmative 2851
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 8th at 12:00 noon 2851
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 2504, Arsenault, Daniel/Trenton Elem. Sch.: MD Fundraising -
Congrats., Mr. P. Dunn 2852
Res. 2505, Gillis, Tom Art Lightfoot Mem. Award,
Mr. S. McNeil 2852
Res. 2506, Perry, Lauren: Prov. Debating Squad - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 2853
Mr. S. McNeil
Res. 2507, Shields, Kyla: Prov. Debating Squad - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 2853
Res. 2508, Rosconi-Robertson, Gabe: Prov. Debating Squad -
Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 2854
Res. 2509, O'Rourke, Justin - Chief Scout's Award,
Mr. S. McNeil 2854
Res. 2510, How, James & Pauline: Home Milestone (300 Yrs.) -
Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 2855
Res. 2511, Ramsay, Eileen: Special Olympic Medals - Congrats.,
Mr. S. McNeil 2855
Res. 2512, Lawrencetown Cons. Sch. - Mobius Award,
Mr. S. McNeil 2856
Res. 2513, New Beginnings Ministries - Anniv. (10th),
Mr. K. Colwell 2856
Res. 2514, Windsor Royals Jr. Hockey Club - Atl. Title,
Mr. C. Porter 2857
Res. 2515, Port Morien 1st Scout Troop - Anniv. (100th),
The Speaker 2857
Res. 2516, Young, Nathan: Commun. Example - Recognize,
Hon. M. Parent 2858
Res. 2517, Stack, Garry/Barnes Insurance Agency -
Brokerage of Yr. Award, Mr. E. Fage 2858
Res. 2518, McWaters, Cheney - Natl. Loran Award,
Mr. E. Fage 2859
Res. 2519, Pugwash Dist. Vol. FD: Training Sessions - Congrats.,
Mr. E. Fage 2859
Res. 2520, Bridge Adult Serv. Ctr.: Exec. Dir./Bd. Member/Clients -
Congrats., Mr. E. Fage 2860
Res. 2521, Randall, Donald: Food for Shelburne County Fundraiser -
Volunteerism, Mr. S. Belliveau 2860
Res. 2522, Hunt, Dwayne: Island & Barrington Passage Vol. FD -
Scroll of Recognition (25 Yrs.), Mr. S. Belliveau 2861
Res. 2523, Nickerson, Edward: Shag Hbr./Bear Point Vol. FD -
Scroll of Recognition (25 Yrs.), Mr. S. Belliveau 2861
Res. 2524, Van Norden, Emily: Common. Fundraiser - Thank,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2862
Res. 2525, ERMES Staff/Student Vols.: Student Secretary Prog. -
Thank, Mr. S. Belliveau 2862
Res. 2526, Evelyn Richardson Sch. Students: Reading Challenge -
Success Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 2863
Success Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau
Res. 2527, Nickerson, Ester - Clark's Hbr. Vol. of Yr.,
Mr. S. Belliveau 2863
Res. 2528, Dixon, Ethan: Shelburne Co. Minor Hockey Assoc. -
Gold Medal, Mr. S. Belliveau 2864
Res. 2529, Nickerson, Ethan: Shelburne Co. Minor Hockey Assoc. -
Gold Medal, Mr. S. Belliveau 2865
Res. 2530, Ogallak, Etuk: Shelburne Co. Minor Hockey Assoc. -
Gold Medal, Mr. S. Belliveau 2865
Res. 2531, Stoddard, Eugene: Island & Barrington Passage Vol. FD -
Scroll of Recognition (35 Yrs.), Mr. S. Belliveau 2866
Res. 2532, Atkinson, Fawn & Garvin: Holiday House Tour -
Congrats., Mr. S. Belliveau 2866
Res. 2533, Penny, Gabriel: Shelburne Co. Minor Hockey Assoc. -
Gold Medal, Mr. S. Belliveau 2867
Res. 2534, D'Eon, Dwight: Food for Shelburne Co. Fundraiser -
Volunteerism, Mr. S. Belliveau 2867
Volunteerism, Mr. S. Belliveau

[Page 2757]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 7, 2008

Sixtieth General Assembly

Second Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Alfie MacLeod

DEPUTY SPEAKER

Mr. Wayne Gaudet

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will commence the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the following petition, with the operative clause reading:

"We the undersigned and concerned taxpayers of the United Communities and surrounding areas are asking the Department of Transportation and Highways to remedy the following problem.

The Hirtle Road located between Exit 16 off 103 to Voglers Cove, and the Lighthouse Route (Hwy 331) has deteriorated and is unsafe. We ask that Hirtle Road be re-paved and up graded, without further delay."

Mr. Speaker, there are 231 signatures to which I have affixed my name.

[Page 2758]

2757

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause) Thank you very much to the Minister of Agriculture and the Minister of Economic Development. (Laughter)

I am very pleased to rise today to announce an exciting new investment in the health of Nova Scotians. My government is deeply committed to improving access to family doctors in our province. We are also committed to encouraging more Nova Scotians to enter health care professions and to improving access to medical school for our students.

To that end, I am pleased to announce that we will be adding 10 new undergraduate medical school seats at Dalhousie University. (Applause) That will be five in the Fall of 2008 and five in the Fall of 2009. Mr. Speaker, this is in addition to the nine new residency seats that will be introduced because of the budget this year as well.

The intent of this program is to increase the supply of family doctors in Nova Scotia. We know that potential medical students want the option to be trained right here in their own province. These 10 new seats will be reserved for Nova Scotians only. (Applause) In addition, we'll be providing tuition support for those students who, in turn, will set up practice in Nova Scotia upon graduation.

Already we are doing comparatively well in regard to the number of family doctors per capita in Nova Scotia and we know that 95 per cent of Nova Scotians have access to a regular family physician, as compared to the national average of 86 per cent. This initiative will ensure that we continue to grow and improve upon that success.

In the coming weeks, we'll be working closely with Dalhousie University to finalize the details of how this program will be delivered and administered. We will also continue to explore other options that will allow our province to continue to meet the evolving health care needs of Nova Scotians. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

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

[Page 2759]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It's about time that we finally hear something from this government. It has been nine long years that this government has been in power and we're finally seeing some initiatives . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, the member for Sackville-Cobequid has the floor.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): If they didn't hear me, Mr. Speaker, it has been nine long years and we haven't seen initiatives like this from this government. It is finally nice to see that they got their heads out of the clouds and they're starting to put initiatives in place that will start to address some of the concerns around the number of physicians we have in this province.

Ironically, we're going to be debating a bill that the Liberals brought forward yesterday or in this session, or maybe the last session, around a similar initiative, Mr. Speaker. It's interesting, we have a lot of questions around this initiative and part of having initiatives is having a plan. We know from this government that's something they usually don't have accompanying announcements like this, questions around if there are 10 seats available just to Nova Scotians, are they going to be limited to the other seats, if they apply?

We know that the President of the Canadian Association of Interns and Residents, Dr. Jean-Pierre Martel has stated, and I'll quote from the Canadian Press: "We know from previous surveys and previous studies that people tend to go practise back where they came from." So I hope that this initiative really targets rural communities because I've heard in my office, Mr. Speaker, rural students can't get into medical school and we need to target those areas, ensure that students from rural communities in Nova Scotia have access to these seats so that, I hope, they return to those areas. So with that, I'll take my seat.

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

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise to speak to the ministerial statement and I want to thank the minister for providing me with a copy of the statement in advance. Our Party saw that there was a need and we provided a common-sense solution to this government on how to deal with the issue of a shortage of physicians across rural Nova Scotia. Not only did we look into the short term, we were looking into the long term about how we would make sure that Nova Scotians have access to a family physician.

It's one thing to quote the number of 95 per cent of Nova Scotians have access to a family physician, but the reality is in many communities across this province, there are too many Nova Scotians who do not have access to a family physician. Many communities are asking themselves, what are we going to do in three, four, five years when our current physicians are looking for retirement?

[Page 2760]

I want to thank the minister and I want to congratulate the minister on seeing a common-sense solution in this program. In fact, working with the Dalhousie Medical School, this program was laid out in a common-sense way. We are able to do 10 seats over the next two years, but I want to remind the minister and this government that there will be 20 seats come available when 20 New Brunswick students will then begin to be trained in New Brunswick in 2009-10. Those seats should be identified for Nova Scotia students.

Mr. Speaker, let me be very clear about this, I will not apologize one minute for making sure Nova Scotia students have access to medical seats in this province, nor will I apologize for one minute that rural Nova Scotia students should have access to medical school seats in this province for a return for fee for service. If anyone else does in this House, then they should stand up and tell Nova Scotians they do not want their children and our children to have access to medical school seats. We will continue to lay out common-sense solutions that will affect the lives of Nova Scotians and I appreciate the co-operation of this government to make sure that our rural students will have access to medical school. (Applause)

[12:15 p.m.]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, if I might make an introduction before my resolution?

MR. SPEAKER: Please do.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we have some very special people with us here today in the east gallery. I'd like to acknowledge the CEO of the United Way of Halifax, Catherine Woodman, and Denise Green, a director at the United Way. Also in the gallery, they are surrounded by some of our very talented public servants here in our province who organize fundraising activities in support of the United Way across government workplaces each and every Fall. I will mention some of the names that we have here today joining the three individuals I've already mentioned. We have Jennifer Presti, Steven Stewart, Angela Pulsifer, Francene Sampson, Jennifer Thompson, and John Hoar. I would ask our distinguished guests to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2476

[Page 2761]

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

Whereas each year Nova Scotia's public servants show how generous they are by supporting the provincial government's campaign in support of the United Way of Halifax Region; and

Whereas the success of these workplace campaigns depends on the time and the energy of many dedicated and talented volunteers in the public sector; and

Whereas in 2007 provincial government employees had the most successful campaign to date, raising over $428,000 that will help the United Way of Halifax Region fund more than 100 programs at 50 agencies that help young children and families thrive, reduce violence, and build strong communities and volunteer organizations;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Department of Education for its outstanding leadership in this campaign and thank Nova Scotia's public servants.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 2477

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

Whereas the Halifax Rainmen, and team owner Andre Levingston, exceeded their goals of their inaugural season while giving back to the community by supporting basketball at all levels, inspiring children, motivating our youth, and entertaining Nova Scotians of all ages; and

[Page 2762]

Whereas the Rainmen are determined to make history and become Canada's first team in the National Basketball Association's Development League; and

Whereas NBADL president Mr. Dan Reed has chosen to visit Halifax today to see first-hand the vibrancy, growth, excitement and passion our province has to offer the NBA's D-League;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House welcome Mr. Reed and urge him to make Nova Scotia the home of Canada's first D-League team for the upcoming 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 Justice on an introduction.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased, as Minister of Justice and House Leader to introduce to the members of the House somebody who was a former police officer but now serves as a Member of the Legislative Assembly in Alberta and is joining us here, for discussions with various people, and I know yourself. I'm pleased to introduce Art Johnston, he's the MLA for Calgary-Hayes and with him is his assistant, Andree Morier and I welcome them. I also note, coincidentally, he's a hockey fan and happens to be in Halifax at this time. I would ask him to rise with Andree and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Not only is he a hockey fan, but he has actually played in two games so far and has another one to go.

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2478

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

[Page 2763]

Whereas May 7th is the inaugural Occupational Safety and Health Professional Day where the ongoing efforts of occupational safety, health and environmental professionals to protect Nova Scotians from workplace injury and illness is officially being recognized; and

Whereas Safety Services Nova Scotia are to be commended for 50 years of providing safety, education and training programs that have improved the quality of life for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the work of industry safety associations in Nova Scotia, such as the Construction Safety Association, Trucking Safety Association and the Forestry Safety Association need to be recognized for moving this province closer to a safe work culture;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the work that occupational safety, health and environmental professionals do every day to help keep Nova Scotians safe at work.

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. 2479

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

Whereas today, this province celebrates Arbor Day, an opportunity to promote and encourage the planting and care of trees; and

Whereas the students of Truro's Alice Street Elementary School and the Truro Tree Committee have embraced the occasion with plans for an assembly, a tree planting ceremony and lessons on tree care; and

[Page 2764]

Whereas Nova Scotians recognize and appreciate the important role that trees have played and continue to play in both the environmental and economic strengths of this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join the students of Alice Street Elementary School and the Truro Tree Committee in celebrating Arbor Day and the planting and care of trees 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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 2480

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 Nova Scotia Division of the Canadian Red Cross is the Department of Community Services' Response Agent, on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Red Cross's 2nd Atlantic Conference on Disaster Management takes place May 7th through 9th in Halifax and will provide an opportunity to share best practices and forge the relationships that will serve citizens well in times of crisis; and

Whereas this government has made public safety a priority and been proactive in investing in emergency preparedness through EMO;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House welcome delegates to the Red Cross's 2nd Atlantic Conference on Disaster Management as they gather in Halifax to work together for the betterment of public safety for all.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2765]

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. 2481

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 Mr. Fred Armitage has set a fine example for all men who suffer from depression by participating in a mental health awareness campaign in 2007; and

Whereas Mr. Armitage has inspired and given hope, not only to men but also to their partners, families and friends; and

Whereas the Mental Health Foundation of Nova Scotia is honouring Mr. Armitage with an Inspiring Lives Award today, May 7th;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Armitage on receiving an Inspiring Lives Award for the courage he has shown in sharing his story to help de-stigmatize mental illness.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion and Protection.

[Page 2766]

RESOLUTION NO. 2482

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

Whereas this weekend, federal and provincial prosecutors, defense attorneys, judges and elected officials came together to play in the fourth annual Glube Cup, another great hockey event in Halifax; and

Whereas each year Frank Hoskins and volunteers take the responsibility of organizing this tournament; and

Whereas the tournament raises food and money donations for Feed Nova Scotia and pays tribute to former Chief Justice Constance Glube, who managed to attend every single game;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating all the competitors, thank the volunteers, and recognize that the best team won for the third year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

AN HON. MEMBER: Prop.

MR. SPEAKER: A prop - sorry, the honourable member knows that this is no place to be showing his cup, and props are not allowed in this House. (Laughter)

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 2483

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

[Page 2767]

Whereas a new organic council has been formed which will work with the Organic Federation of Canada to address issues in the industry regarding standards and regulations; and

Whereas the new Nova Scotia Organic Council has secured $27,000 in funding from the Organic Federation of Canada for its development, which will be overseen by a steering committee; and

Whereas the new council will represent producers, handlers, processors, input manufacturers, importers, exporters, retailers, certification bodies, and the provincial government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize that organic agriculture is an important component of the future growth of agriculture in Nova Scotia, and show support for the organic sector and the new Nova Scotia Organic Council.

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 Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2484

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

Whereas in recognition of International Adult Learners' Week from March 3rd to March 9th, celebrations were held in more than 50 countries across the world where what is being done for literacy in Nova Scotia and Canada was recognized; and

Whereas across Nova Scotia the week was celebrated with a writing contest designed to promote the benefits of learning in the home, at work and in the community, and to highlight the many options available to adult learners in this province; and

[Page 2768]

Whereas Sherry LeBouthillier of Halifax, Kelly Carter of Port Williams, Kings County, and Stephanie Nickerson of Barrington Passage, Shelburne County, were winners of the province-wide writing contest hosted by Literacy Nova Scotia in partnership with Labour and Workforce Development;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. LeBouthillier, Ms. Carter and Ms. Nickerson for their achievements in literacy, and thank Ms. Ann Marie Downie of Literacy Nova Scotia for her constant support of literacy initiatives 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 responsible for Military Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2485

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

Whereas last November the officers and crew of HMCS Charlottetown left their friends and families for a six-month mission to the Arabian Sea as part of Canada's contribution to Operation Enduring Freedom; and

Whereas during the deployment the 4,750-ton patrol frigate became the first Canadian ship since 1995 to visit Israel and played a role in the rescue of 30 French sailors who had been seized by pirates in the Gulf of Aden; and

Whereas all Canadians are proud of the bravery, patriotism and commitment to Canada and its ideals that the officers and crew of HMCS Charlottetown have shown on this deployment and throughout their careers;

[Page 2769]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House welcome Commander Patrick St.-Denis and the ship's company of HMCS Charlottetown back to their home port and offer them a heartfelt Bravo Zulu on a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried. (Applause)

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 159 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 14 of the Acts of 1993. The Tobacco Access Act. (Ms. J. Massey)

Bill No. 160 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 199 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Heritage Property Act. (Mr. H. Theriault)

[12:30 p.m.]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 2486

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

Whereas on the morning of November 1, 2007, the HMCS Charlottetown sailed away from Halifax to begin a six-month deployment to the Persian Gulf as part of Operation ALTAIR; and

[Page 2770]

Whereas hundreds of family members lined the military dock as HMCS Charlottetown made its way out to sea to begin its six-month mission involving surveillance, boarding suspicious vessels, and making various ports of call; and

Whereas the officers and crew carried out their mission with the highest level of professionalism and are scheduled to arrive home, here in Halifax, today, May 7th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly welcome home the officers and crew of the HMCS Charlottetown and offer our sincerest thank you on behalf of Nova Scotia and Canada, while at the same time acknowledging and thanking the families of these sailors for the time they spent apart from their loved ones.

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. 2487

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

Whereas statistics show that helping children heal from the effects of domestic violence can help break the cycle of abuse in future families; and

Whereas Healing the Bruises, created and coordinated by Alice Housing, helps kids affected by the devastation of family violence learn anger resolution skills, how to increase their self-esteem, and how to reach their full potential; and

Whereas every year the employees of Emera raise funds, which are then matched with a corporate donation, in order to improve the lives of children in our community;

[Page 2771]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate the employees of Emera for selecting the Healing the Bruises Program at Alice Housing for support through their three-year, $50,000 a year commitment to this very important program.

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. 2488

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

Whereas Corporal Brett Eagles of Martock is presently serving as a military police officer in Afghanistan; and

Whereas the congregation of Brett's church, the Glad Tidings Pentecostal in Windsor, gathered a care package six weeks ago to send to Brett; and

Whereas like all Canadians, the congregation is fully supportive of Brett and the Canadian Military in the war on terrorism;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly acknowledge the leadership exemplified by the Glad Tidings congregation, while wishing Brett a safe and speedy return home.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 2772]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 2489

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

Whereas every year the Heritage Fair is held at Mill Village Consolidated School for Grades 4, 5 and 6 students who work alone or with partners; and

Whereas these students create interesting and informative projects based on local and/or Canadian history, which are then shared with the public; and

Whereas the projects are then presented to judges with the hope that they will win a chance to go to the South Shore Historic Fair in May to compete against their grade level from other schools in the region;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Andrew Burgess and Derek Avramenko for their project, War Heros/Our Heros, with their first-hand information coming from Derek's grandfather and Andrew's great, great uncle, both who served in World War II.

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. 2490

[Page 2773]

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

Whereas Albert Bohemier has been named OTANS Petroleum Pioneer for 2008; and

Whereas his company, Survival Systems, has one purpose - to enhance and preserve the lives of workers through safety education, training technologies, and applied research and development; and

Whereas Mr. Bohemier is receiving this award because of his dedication to the establishment of international standards for underwater helicopter escape training for aircrews and passengers, improving the chance of survival should something go wrong;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly congratulate Albert Bohemier on being named OTANS Petroleum Pioneer for 2008 and commend Survival Systems on the important work they are doing.

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. 2491

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

Whereas New Glasgow businessman Doug Eddy recently passed away and will be remembered for his outstanding contribution to his community; and

Whereas Eddy, the founder of consulting firm D.B. Eddy and Associates, and past-president of the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce, came into contact with many people and was renowned for his fair and respectful treatment of others; and

[Page 2774]

Whereas he will also be remembered as a driving force behind the expansion of the Nova Scotia Community College, Pictou Campus, an integral, long-standing member of the Aberdeen Hospital Foundation, and for more than 40 years was a backbone of the New Glasgow Gyro Club, often seen as the face of the organization;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their condolences to the family and friends of Doug Eddy for his inspirational commitment to the Town of New Glasgow and the many lives he touched.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 2492

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

Whereas Gary Banks from the Shag Harbour Bear Point Fire Department was awarded a Scroll of Recognition on March 8, 2008, at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper from the Municipality of Barrington for his 35 years of long service to the fire department; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters give freely of their time to train for and respond to emergencies and have chosen to make long-term commitments to their local fire department; and

Whereas it is important to recognize the commitment and dedication all firefighters make to ensure the safety and well-being of their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Gary Banks on being awarded a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington for his 35 years of dedicated service to the Shag Harbour-Bear Point Volunteer Fire Department.

[Page 2775]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 2493

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

Whereas May 7th through May 10th, West Kings District High School students will be offering their rendition of the musical, Grease; and

Whereas this is the latest addition to a long list of musicals which have been performed by West Kings students throughout the school's 52 years; and

Whereas after many weeks of rehearsals, this musical will surely be one to remember;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly wish Director Mary Walker-Hope and the entire cast of Grease the very best of luck on their opening night.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

[Page 2776]

RESOLUTION NO. 2494

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

Whereas members of the Baddeck Curling Club have completed another invigorating year of fun and competition; and

Whereas the Baddeck Curling Club is a community gathering facility where many hours of leisure and recreation are enjoyed throughout the late Fall and winter; and

Whereas the 2007-08 season saw fundraisers hard at work for the club, resulting in another successful Fall Fun Draw with a $25,000 cash prize going to Anne Plant and her son Brian, with other lucky winners being Jennifer Williamson and Shirley Hefferon, David and Sharon MacRae, and Megan and Sheldon MacDonald;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly applaud the recreational enthusiasm and community work ethic of all members of the Baddeck Curling Club while wishing them every success as they look toward the 2008-09 curling season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 2495

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

Whereas residents of the St. Margaret's Bay area gathered on Tuesday, May 6th at the Tantallon Library for the book launch of Peggy of the Cove - Secrets by author Ivan Fraser; and

[Page 2777]

Whereas Ivan Fraser has masterfully created a wonderful adventure about this special young girl; and

Whereas readers young and old will absolutely treasure this book;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ivan Fraser on the publication of Peggy of the Cove - Secrets and recognize this Nova Scotian author for his initiative and dedication.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 2496

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

Whereas the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue was holding its annual banquet on May 10, 2008; and

Whereas the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue organization is celebrating its 30th Anniversary this year, which is a significant milestone; and

Whereas the volunteers of the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue team have made and continue to make a large contribution to our county and beyond with their search efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue team on their 30th Anniversary and thank them for the assistance they have provided to Nova Scotians over the past 30 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 2778]

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. 2497

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

Whereas North Colchester High School recognizes a male and female student each month who have great success in their school work, community involvement and academic studies; and

Whereas Lauren Ross is a hard-working student who has maintained a high academic standing; and

Whereas Lauren goes beyond the teachers' expectation for projects and assignments to achieve perfection, participating in math league, peer tutoring, student council, Remembrance Day contests, Dalhousie Science and Engineering Camp and also manages to balance a part-time job and an active social life;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Grade 12 student Lauren Ross of North Colchester High School for being selected female student of the month.

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 2779]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 2498

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

Whereas the North Sydney Garden Club held its first meeting April 14, 1958, in the North Sydney Town Hall, with nineteen members present at the time; and

Whereas the club has dedicated countless hours toward the care and beautification of the community, as well as peer education and mentorship; and

Whereas they have doubled their membership and are celebrating their 50th Anniversary this year with much to reflect upon, yet look forward to exploring and expanding the wonders of gardening;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the North Sydney Garden Club on this milestone achievement and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 2499

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

Whereas the 4th Annual Inspiring Lives Awards for inspiring others as they live with mental health or addiction was held on May 7th; and

[Page 2780]

Whereas award recipients were selected through a province-wide nomination process by a panel of health care professionals, community stakeholders, and the general public; and

Whereas Gladys Wagner overcame the stigma of having a mental illness through her sunny disposition and humour, by writing poetry, performing in local theatre, and by initiating exercise classes in support of others living with mental health or addiction in her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Gladys Wagner's inspiration to others in her community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Immigration.

[12:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 2500

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

Whereas the Bedford Players are celebrating 25 years of theatrical production for the community of Bedford and the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas these amateur performers provide the community an opportunity to experience and enjoy talent displayed by local performers; and

Whereas the Bedford Players have staged over fifty plays that have been attended by tens of thousands of patrons throughout the group's history;

[Page 2781]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Bedford Players on 25 years of theatre production and wish them success with their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 2501

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

Whereas Andrew Boudreau, a Truro resident and a Cobequid Educational Centre student, has a great love for music and great skill as a pianist; and

Whereas Andrew Boudreau recently was rewarded for his dedication to excellence when he received a Silver Medal on his Grade 9 exam from the Royal Conservatory of Music; and

Whereas Andrew Boudreau's talents earned the highest mark in Atlantic Canada in the Grade 9 piano division, and it was a second first for Andrew as he led the Grade 2 exam in 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Andrew Boudreau on winning his second Royal Conservatory of Music Silver Medal and wish him continued success both in music and his other pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 2782]

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. 2502

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

Whereas Kings County is a safer community due to the tireless efforts of our Veteran Kings Citizen Patrol Volunteers; and

Whereas the many sponsors and board members of the Kings Crime Prevention Association have demonstrated outstanding commitment to improve the safety and security of the community; and

Whereas the ten or more years service awards received by the Veteran Kings Citizen Patrol Volunteers are a symbol of commitment by individuals who place their communities' safety ahead of themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the time and commitment of those involved with Kings Citizen's Patrol in a common goal to enhance safety and security for the people of their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 2503

[Page 2783]

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 the 11th Annual Yarmouth County Sports Heritage Awards banquet was held on May 3rd at Rodd's Grand Yarmouth hotel; and

Whereas five individual athletes, one team and two others, received memorial trophies and were honoured for their outstanding sports achievements; and

Whereas Beverley Gallagher was inducted as a builder/ golf, Barb Muise as a runner, Greg Doucette for power lifting and body building, Patricia Nickerson for golf, Scott Jeffery for baseball, and the Men's Under Eighteen Curling Team; as well, the Nate Bain Trophy to Jon Rountree for power lifting and the Jim Hatfield Trophy to Kathy Colaincovo for Baseball Person 2007;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating these fine athletes for their hard work and dedication to sports, past and present, and wish them continued success in promoting all levels of sport, locally and throughout the 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 mined, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We will now move on to the orders of the day.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: The time is 12:50 p.m. and we will go until 2:20 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

JUSTICE: CENT. N.S. CORRECTIONAL FACILITY -

[Page 2784]

PROBLEMS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. My question will be for the Premier. Problems of over-crowding, low staff morale and poor management at the Central Nova Scotia correctional facility are longstanding. So are the concerns about poor health and safety, caused by overcrowding and the fact that the Burnside facility houses a large number of serious offenders awaiting trial or other court proceedings.

Our caucus has brought these serious concerns to the House but the government brushed them aside. It has taken the escape of Jermaine Carvery to get any response at all from this government. So my question to the Premier is this, why did this government endanger public safety by letting the situation at Burnside deteriorate?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I certainly wouldn't associate myself with the premise of the question. The minister has taken the advice, as put forward yesterday, he is moving forward with respect to the recommendations. Other occupational health and safety issues will be dealt with appropriately in that manner.

Mr. Speaker, the government has put additional dollars in the budget to deal with some of the pressures within our justice system and, as well, we have the independent external audit which is happening at the present time, which will also help the government in the formulation of a go-forward position.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the findings on the Carvery incident released yesterday by the Justice Minister would have been a comedy of errors if the outcome had not been so serious. Information about Mr. Carvery's previous escape attempt had not been recorded, Mr. Carvery's admission information was not entered in the Justice Enterprise Information System. Mr. Carvery, therefore, was not assessed at high risk.

In response, the Justice Minister announces that from now on they'll make sure the escort policy will include crimes of notoriety and previous escape attempts in the Class 3 category. So my question is this, how can the Premier claim he is making streets safer when this is how his government actually performed when it had to protect people from the alleged organizer of a major crime?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and to the honourable member, the Leader of the Opposition, with regard to the response, there have been a number of incidents and issues. Every jurisdiction would face them with the volume of individuals that we have within our correction system. We have standard operating procedures that are in place and, indeed, meant to be followed.

We have said very clearly, in dealing with any issues or concerns, we will do it in a forthright and public manner. We are doing just that, we are responding in a responsible way

[Page 2785]

to the issues of concern. As indicated by the Premier, in-house issues in terms of safety and security are being addressed, the protocols are being done. I've responded, there's a directive that went out today to follow up on those recommendations and indeed, action had been taken in the past, has been taken and continues to be taken on this matter.

MR. DEXTER; Mr. Speaker, you know, this government claims to be making our communities safer but long-time correctional officers assert that safety is too often ignored, as my colleagues have told this government repeatedly. Jails are overcrowded and understaffed, correctional officers are working under increasing stress and the fact is, management has just not been up to the task. The Carvery incident is a direct result of this government's neglect of public safety. My question for the Premier is, what kind of priority is this government giving to safe communities when this is what we get?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'll defer this to the Minister of Justice.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to safety concerns, this government and this budget has reflected and both responded operationally to pressures we're receiving due to the increase in remand population within our correction facilities. We're investing an additional $1.5 million and I've said, when I've toured facilities, that we will make sure the proper staffing complement is there for the safety and security of the workers, as well as for the environment itself to be secure. We're doing that; we're acting on the budget; we're doing operational adjustments; we've changed management structure to respond to that and I've said very clearly, if there are operational or management adjustments that are necessary, we're doing it and that's exactly what we're acting on, the recommendations.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: CRITICAL INCIDENT REVIEW - FINDINGS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the government released the findings of the internal review yesterday regarding the Jermaine Carvery escape. The results were troubling. The escort plan was inadequate and was incomplete. Basic procedures were not followed, including a proper body search before the escort, in total 21 findings and 12 recommendations that call into question the state of the corrections system in Nova Scotia and Nova Scotian's confidence in this government's ability to actually keep our streets safer. My question to the Premier is, why has your government allowed the state of our correctional facilities to get this bad?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member is suggesting that somehow the government is not keeping Nova Scotia's communities safe - well, I differ from his opinion. Eighty police officers last year and an additional 70 police officers this year on our streets are making sure that senior citizens, are making sure that the young people in our

[Page 2786]

communities feel safer when they're walking down Nova Scotia streets. We're seeing the difference made from one end of this province to the other and we're going to continue in that direction.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, three wrongful releases and putting Mr. Carvery loose on the streets of Nova Scotia is not what I call making Nova Scotia streets safer for Nova Scotians. The findings from the internal review also showed that Mr. Carvery wasn't even classified as a high-risk individual. Mr. Carvery is charged with several high-profile and violent crimes and there have been past escape attempts. It's hard to understand how, in this day and age, Mr. Carvery was not considered to be a high risk to flee. Several troubling things went wrong with this escort. It is clear that there's an immediate problem in this province that must be addressed. My question to the Premier is, when will you make the necessary changes to ensure that his never happens again?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, changes are already underway in that regard.

MR. SAMSON: This report points to policies that were not followed and to policies that need to be updated. Many changes need to happen in our correctional facilities and they need to happen now. When Nova Scotians hear of wrongful releases, overcrowding and a lack of proper equipment in our correctional facilities, that certainly does not give them a sense of confidence. Throughout all of this, the Minister of Justice has spent tens of thousands of taxpayers' dollars on a political road show, when he could have been at his department addressing these concerns and the concerns of the correctional facility officers. My final question to the Premier is, will you make sure that your Minister of Justice immediately implements the recommendations and ensures the highest level of public safety and the safety of correctional officers in this province?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, indeed, we do consider the matter at hand and the issue to be a very serious one and one that must be acted on and is. If that requires action, in a managerial or operational level, we're doing that. We have standard operating procedures. We also have men and women who come in with a college education in the process. I've talked to the Minister of Education and if we have to change a curriculum to reflect that as well as the standard retraining on the job that is required, we will do that. Again, we're showing our commitment by upping the budget to make sure those facilities have the resources they deserve and require.

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

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT & RETENTION

(PICTOU CO.) - CRITICISM EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The minister knows that recruitment and retention are major issues for hospitals outside the

[Page 2787]

province's two urban centres. Yet earlier this week, the minister stood up in this House to criticize a project that has proven to be a valuable incentive for the Aberdeen Hospital. A project that is helping the hospital keep and recruit doctors, nurses and other staff it needs to provide reliable, quality health care.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is this, can the minister explain to those doctors, nurses and other staff why he stood on the floor of this House to criticize a successful effort to keep doctors in Pictou County?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure in his supplementary he'll explain what my criticism was because I'm not aware of criticizing anyone during the sitting of this House.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health has criticized doctors at the Cumberland hospital. He has criticized the recruitment and retention of doctors at the Aberdeen Hospital. He has no answers for the tens of thousands of Nova Scotians who are seeing their hospital services shut down on a regular basis. This is a poor way to attract doctors outside of metro. (Interruptions)

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Pictou County Health Authority says that their project to do more orthopedic surgery has been positive for clients, doctors and staff. My question is, why does the minister criticize this initiative instead of taking it as a model?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can only comment on Cumberland where I did say that I was disappointed with that group of doctors, the ICU doctors as specifics, in not accepting the contract deal that we had provided to them as an interim solution to the master agreement. Again, the member opposite is putting some information on the floor of this House - I'm not certain what he's alluding to. He's saying that I criticized something at the Aberdeen Hospital when what I did is, I commended that group. I commended the DHA for the hard work that it does in recruiting doctors for that area.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I will table yesterday's news release by the Pictou County Health Authority. Referring to news reports of the minister's comments, this release notes that the Aberdeen Hospital is successfully providing quick access to low-risk ambulatory orthopedic surgery for patients who would otherwise have a long wait. The Aberdeen is reducing wait times in a manner that helps them recruit and retain needed doctors and staff.

[Page 2788]

Mr. Speaker, this is a success story and yet instead of duplicating the success, the minister criticizes it. So my question is this, why is this minister so out-of-touch with the daily realities faced by doctors, nurses and patients?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing this issue before Question Period. What I can say to the member opposite, I did not say anything negative to what was going on at the Aberdeen Hospital. What I did present during estimates and outside the Chamber are the costings and comparisons between what's happening at Scotia Surgery and happening at the Aberdeen Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, I will table again for the importance of this House, and maybe the member opposite could get a copy to check what I said, apparently not doing the research once again. The DHA 6 doing work on behalf of WCB on Saturday is doing it at a cost of $3,751 per case. Scotia Surgery, in the comparison that I gave, is doing it for $1,272 per case. Get your facts straight. (Interruptions)

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

TIR - CABINET VEHICLES: PERSONAL USAGE -

REIMBURSEMENT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Cabinet recently reviewed and approved new regulations, which deal with the personal use of government vehicles. These March 31, 2008, regulations state, "Any kilometres driven on personal use must be repaid to the province at the rate of 24.34 cents per kilometre." I am sure everyone in Cabinet was paying attention that day, yet one minister says she only paid for the gas when she or her family used her government car for personal use. Can the Premier indicate how much he and his colleagues are paying the province for personal use of their ministerial vehicles?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government position right now on the use of ministerial cars, indeed all cars which are owned by the government and used by employees, is a matter which has been of some concern and more concern recently, to be quite frank, because we did discover there is some inconsistency in the application of unclear policies. So we are currently undergoing a full review of that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like for the Premier or that minister to table any amounts that they collected from the ministers for the personal use of their vehicles. The

[Page 2789]

incident involving the Minister of Community Services' vehicle has raised a lot of questions with working families in Nova Scotia. Not only are they concerned with the personal use of publically-funded vehicles, they are also wondering how no one in this Progressive Conservative Government, including the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, knew and obeyed the rules that applied to them and to every other civil servant with a government car.

So, Mr. Speaker, I will table the government's own travel policy last reviewed on April 1, 2008, with copies for all the ministers to read. So my question back to the Premier is, why are you allowing your ministers to break the rules? Why are you so out of touch?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the answer to the first question, the policy is under review. I have been in government for 10 years and I have had a government . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Nine, it's nine.

MR. MUIR: Thank you very much, yes. It could be 10, 12, 15, whatever. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has the floor.

MR. MUIR: In that period of time, there has not been, I guess, a consistent policy. I guess I can respond to the first part of the member's question with some certainty. He wanted to know about expenses or the amount of money that was paid to the government. For most ministers, the use of a government car is a taxable benefit. It is included in your T-4 slips.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, most people - I would daresay all people - are aware that is a taxable benefit but there is a policy that they are supposed to reimburse the province. The question before, Mr. Minister, was quite simple - how much did you get back? Obviously, you didn't bother collecting.

So my question again is to the Premier, Mr. Speaker. The widely available government travel policy says, on Page 7, Article 12, "a government vehicle will not be driven by anyone other than an employee unless authorized by the deputy head." So again to the Premier my question is, why were his ministers so certain that they were entitled to this unauthorized use of government vehicles and what steps are you taking to ensure that these rules are being taken and stop being so out of touch.

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I will repeat what I said yesterday.

[Page 2790]

MR. CORBETT: Outside?

MR. SCOTT: I will repeat what I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, in case he forgot. I can give him a copy of Hansard in case he wants to take a copy of it home this weekend and read it. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. SCOTT: I said yesterday, Mr. Speaker, this issue is under review and we are doing a complete review of not only the issue of who can drive these government leased or owned vehicles, but as well a complete review of the use of government vehicles throughout all the government. When the review is complete, I will make that information available and we will ensure that all government employees and members elected are well aware of the policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: NURSE VACANCIES - NUMBERS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week I asked the Minister of Health to state for the record the number of nurse vacancies in this province. At that time, the minister indicated - I quote from Page 2353 of Hansard, "I am not too sure how many vacancies there are in this province."

Immediately following Question Period, the minister stood in his place and relayed the number of job postings for nurses posted by the various DHAs on CareerBeacon. My question for the minister is, could he please indicate whether he believes the number of postings for nurses on CareerBeacon equates to the real need being experienced by DHAs across this province?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as of this date, yes, that number represents the number of vacancies that are available in this province. We also have to project ahead to have the availability of those professionals when other retirements happen or other unfortunate events or people move away.

So, I can commit that number, which is somewhere near 100, is the number of vacancies in the province today.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, in the Liberal caucus, we believe the number of nurse vacancies in this province has reached a critical point - a point where we will see the delivery of health care services negatively impacted. We also believe there are more vacancies than what is being posted on CareerBeacon due to the inability of district health authorities to hire a full complement because of budgetary restraints which are due to

[Page 2791]

increasing overtime costs. My next question to the minister is, could he please indicate, yes or no, whether he has contacted the district health authorities as a result of the question posed last week so that he could ascertain the real need for nurses across this province?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, through the department we do have a manager of nursing services in the province, a lady by the name of Donna Denney who does a phenomenal job managing the nursing strategy. We did have a conversation with her. I had the opportunity to visit the Nurses' Union this morning at their annual general meeting. That number is representative of what is required today.

We will continue to expand the graduate seats, the number of nursing seats, in this province to make up for the deficiency that we will experience in the next number of years.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I was hoping overall that the minister would have shown a lot more concern for this issue. If you're not aware of the magnitude of the problem, then how are you going to fix it? In Newfoundland and Labrador, for instance, regional health authorities are required to report to all stakeholders - government, unions, regulatory bodies - the number of nurse and allied health professional vacancies in their respective regions. Given that Section 21 (c) of the Health Authorities Act requires a DHA to report to the minister such reports as required by the minister, let me ask him this question - could the minister please implement a regular reporting schedule on health professional vacancies so that everyone, including himself, is aware of what's happening and they can take corrective action before the situation becomes a crisis?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, there is regular reporting from the district health authorities to the department. Again, that's what we understand as being the nurse vacancies at this juncture. I can also say in this year's budget, we are increasing the seats for RNs, up to 70 RNs and we will be adding another 180 LPN positions into the community college system. We're well on our way to making sure the nursing shortage will be addressed.

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

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONAL OFFICERS/INMATES -

RATIOS MAINTAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question today, through you, is to the Minister of Justice. Members opposite on this side of the House are going to have the opportunity this afternoon to meet with a number of people from Local 480 of the Correctional Officers of Nova Scotia. They've come to our historic House along with their families and friends from five correctional facilities across the province. They're here to draw attention to a number of concerns affecting their employment and the operations of correctional services in Nova Scotia.

[Page 2792]

One of their ongoing concerns has been overcrowding and the failure of staffing levels to keep pace with the growing inmate population. This is a problem that threatens to get worse with the government's recent announcement of double-bunking. The minister has promised some additional funding and hiring to deal with double-bunking, which could add up to at least 150 inmates new to the system. My question to the minister is, can he assure this House that at the very least, existing staff to inmate ratios will be maintained in correctional facilities in this province.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. To the honourable member, and as I've indicated, we take any operational matters into consideration that are brought before us that have great concern. That is why, as well with the outside independent audit, there is indeed an opportunity for the NSGEU and the worker representatives. It was provided to have independent opportunity to present any concerns that they have to the auditors so that they are appropriately reflected, but also taking into consideration as part of that audit and, indeed to the honourable member, in terms of staffing levels. I've committed to doing that and will continue to do that and that's why we've reflected it in the budget, so to answer his question, yes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I encourage the minister to make sure that he makes that information available today, personally, to correction officers who will be present in our House.

The province's Auditor General reported on correctional facility capacity and staffing levels in a June, 2006 report. Staffing levels at that time worked out to be 0.57 full-time and 0.23 part-time per inmate. So increasing the capacity for 150 inmates, while retaining that ratio, would mean - and check my math if you wish, Mr. Speaker - the addition of about 85 full-time and 35 part-time correctional officers across this province.

My question, Mr. Speaker is, will the minister commit to adding that number of correctional officers to deal with the expansion that he has proposed?

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, we'll be committed to making sure where we deal with population pressures that, indeed, we respond with the appropriate level of staffing. I've indicated that the safety and security of the staff and the environment must be maintained and adhered to. We've committed to that, we'll continue to do that.

Part of that was the plan operationally to deal with Southwest Nova in Yarmouth, as well as central Nova Scotia, so that Southwest Nova could take more sentence inmate population for stability and the ability to add 30 more to that facility, as well within central Nova Scotia to handle the remand population. Again, it is our hope that if not need be, they

[Page 2793]

won't have those population numbers but the contingency plans have been put in place and the resourcing is there as well.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated that Burnside and Yarmouth facilities have additional capacity because they were originally built according to "best practices", best practices being one inmate per cell. Now the minister is moving away from best practices towards double-bunking. Double-bunking can have a negative consequence for inmates, for staff morale and for the safety for all involved.

My final question to the minister is this, is double-bunking, with all its problems, the new normal in the Province of Nova Scotia and its correctional centres?

MR. CLARKE; Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and to the honourable member, the issue of two beds per cell and the matter that is something that is a standard matter that is applied across the board. Indeed, when these facilities were planned, it was in terms of a best practice to have one inmate per cell and indeed, with the capacity to have two. Wherever possible, it will be one but as we go forward, the planning for both Cumberland and Antigonish Counties, those facilities that will have 150 beds will, indeed, have the capacity for up to 300 inmates.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on a new question.

JUSTICE: ELECTRONIC MONITORING - STATUS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Yes, Mr. Speaker, my questions again are for the Minister of Justice. Back in 2006, on the eve of an election, the government announced the implementation of an electronic monitoring system for offenders - the GPS technology. Since that time, we haven't heard much about electronic monitoring from this government. What we found out is that an electronic monitoring program has run into trouble, and that's putting it politely. The numbers dealt with through the program have not met expectations; the original contractor has left the scene and a new contract was awarded without a public tender.

So my question for the minister is, why is electronic monitoring by GPS launched with such fanfare two short years ago, now flying underneath the radar for this government?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague, indeed it's actually on the ink of the budget document with regard to resource for expanding that program for electronic monitoring. Indeed, we have 45 units now, with the additional resource it will bring it up to 80 units to be applied, as well. We'll be piloting that as well for young offenders, in addition to voice verification technologies that we're using with regard to adherence to conditions that are applied on parole.

[Page 2794]

Mr. Speaker, we're using technology wherever we can as a tool and it is not a replacement but a tool - it has shown to work effectively. There have been measures we have had to make to make corrections and we have a good system in place and we'll continue to expand it as the budget provides for.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, a better tendering system would have helped the system, for sure. The minister will say that electronic monitoring is a success, as he has just reminded us, yet we have no details about its aims or its objectives. It's not even mentioned in the department's latest accountability report, yet the government has entered into a three year contract worth $1.2 million for electronic monitoring. My question for the minister is, what analysis of costs and benefits were conducted before the government entered into this three-year, untendered contract?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable colleague would know, there are times when certain items are very much a specialty item. The current contract provider is a North American provider and provides an excellent service. As he indicated earlier in his first question, we did try to have a Nova Scotia-based solution. There were technical and persistent problems that occurred and when that was not possible, we moved forward with a different provider. That contract is in place, as he stated, at $1.2 million over three years and our budget provides for an additional $125,000 for additional units.

MR. ESTABROOKS; Mr. Speaker, electronic monitoring in one form or another has been going on for years in this province; whether it works or not is the open question. A review published by the federal government a few years ago found that electronic monitoring programs are unlikely to offer a cost-effective alternative to incarceration. My question to the minister is, what assurances can he give this House that this latest venture into electronic monitoring using GPS is not just another boondoggle?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know from previous questions in estimates, it was intended initially that we'd have up to 200. We're doing that by piloting it out and making sure that if the system is working, we will expand that from 45 to 80, as I've indicated to the honourable member. We're doing that in a responsible manner. Again, this is not about a supplement to incarceration, it's about adherence to conditions that are provided. That is one tool as we add in, and we're testing voice verification; that's another tool that will be used. We are trying to make sure we give our professionals that work in our system the tools they need to do the job and we'll continue to expand upon that and make further investments.

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

HEALTH PROM. & PROTECTION: MAINLAND COMMON

REC. CTR. - FUNDING

[Page 2795]

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection. Here in HRM, we currently have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to build a multi-sport recreation facility on the Mainland Common.

MR. SPEAKER: Order please. I'm having difficulty hearing the member.

MS. WHALEN: This project on the Mainland Common has been in the planning stages for many years and will serve a population of 200,000 people who are in a 20-minute driving radius of that site. The last figure publicly announced for the project for provincial support was $1.4 million, under a federal-provincial infrastructure program. We know that money is going to be coming for the Canada Games to build a field house on the site but the community has always stressed that there is a need for a competitive pool and for rinks. My question for the minister is, can he inform the House how much money the Province of Nova Scotia is prepared to invest in this signature facility?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm very proud of the contribution the province has made to a variety of sport and recreation infrastructure in this province. In fact, yesterday, we were in Lunenburg County and announced $10 million toward a $30 million facility. (Applause) We have been working very closely with Halifax Regional Municipality and the Government of Canada to come up with a plan to address the needs of that particular portion of the municipality and indeed, the province. I expect at some time in the very near future, we will make an announcement with respect to that facility.

MS. WHALEN: Well, Mr. Speaker, it sounds like the Government of Nova Scotia is in negotiations now with the federal government but yesterday's announcement of $10.4 million in Bridgewater was made prior to any federal contribution being in place and made in a very public way, with the full co-operation of the municipality. So the province proudly announces their funding for Lunenburg before any federal contribution is in place, but that is not the same treatment that is being given in the Mainland Common in Halifax.

So my question is, Mr. Speaker, why is the process that's being followed in Lunenburg County for their recreation centre more open and transparent than the secretive negotiations around the Mainland Common Project?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, municipal projects like this are the responsibility of the municipality and each municipality takes a different approach as to how they move forward with funding these types of programs. I'm very proud of the contribution we made to the Lunenburg facility. I'll be very proud of the contribution that we, as a province, will make to that facility, the Mainland Common. We have worked very closely with Halifax Regional Municipality and will continue to do so, so that part of this province will have the best facility it can have.

[Page 2796]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the Mainland Common recreation project has ignited a great deal of interest in the community and a lot of support as well. The community group, Build it Right Citizens Action, was formed in November 2005, to provide a community voice to the project that had been missing previously. They are committed to working with all three levels of government to secure a state-of-the-art, multi-dimensional facility. Since its inception, the Build it Right group has tried unsuccessfully to meet with the Minister of Health Promotion and Protection to discuss this project. Their most recent request was in writing on February 28, 2008.

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister, is quite simple. In the interest of ensuring that the voice of the community is heard, will the minister make a commitment to meet the Build it Right group?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member doesn't have her facts straight. In fact, I have met with members of the Build it Right group and I will continue to work with the municipality and other partners to ensure that the facility that we build at the Mainland Common is the best facility and the right facility for the Province of Nova Scotia, for the municipality and, most importantly, for the people we all represent.

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

HEALTH: HEALTH CARE WORKERS - SHORTAGE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The summary report on Health Human Resources issued on March 5th, for the Public Accounts Committee, says the government is laying the groundwork for a need-based approach to hiring health care workers in Nova Scotia. It's funny or sad, depending on how you look at it, that it has taken nine years for this government to start thinking about hiring the right health care workers. So I would like to ask the Minister of Health, why has it taken this government nine years to recognize we don't have enough health care workers in Nova Scotia?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can say that this government has been working very hard in the recruitment and retention of health professionals across this province. Just talking about nursing seats - expanding that number to 330 Bachelor of Nursing seats, graduating 297 of those individuals this year alone to work in our health care system that so dearly needs them. Our recruitment rate is higher than most provinces when it comes to over 80 per cent of those individuals being trained in Nova Scotia, staying in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, we've invested heavily, $60 million over five years to help improve our recruitment and retention efforts and to add new nursing seats alone. I think we're doing a phenomenal job.

[Page 2797]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): But yet, Mr. Speaker, the report was just tabled on March 5th of this year. Nine years is too long for anyone to go back to the drawing board when it comes to recruiting health care professionals. Because of the failure of this government, nurses are being overworked in every district in this province. In two years 1,300 nurses are eligible to retire and why wouldn't they? Now they face mandatory overtime, some of them are afraid to answer the phone when they're off.

MR. SPEAKER: Do you have a question?

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I would like to ask the Minister of Health, will the minister tell this House, what is the total annual cost for nurse overtime in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, that is some information that we provided during estimates and I will make it available again, as I don't have it at my fingertips. I can also say that we have been working very diligently, very hard, in changing the role of nurses, making sure that we look at the model of care, the way that health care services are offered in our hospitals to make sure that everybody is working to the full scope of practices, adding new professionals into those areas like porters, like clerks, and those kinds of individuals can do that extra work. We think by changing the model of care we will make health care more appropriate, more patient-centred, safer for those patients and, of course, a much better workplace for those nurses working in it.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): About $19 million is spent annually by the district health authorities on nursing overtime. Mr. Speaker, $19 million spent every year on overtime seems like a waste, because it is - we could hire at least 230 full-time nurses for that cost. Imagine the impact on staffing levels in this province if that happened. So I would like to ask the minister, why doesn't the minister invest $19 million on hiring new full-time nurses rather than paying overtime to overworked staff?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I think we have to train them before we can go and hire them. Once again the NDP feel that they can wave a magic wand and over 300 nurses will appear.

We are working hard to make sure that model of care is going to be appropriate to the patient care of Nova Scotians. I had the opportunity to speak to the Nurses' Union this morning - and do you know what? The nurses sitting at that conference were very interested in what I had to say when talking about nurses and the model of care. They look forward to the change. We look for the work that's going to be happening, and this government will make a difference in health care in Nova Scotia.

[1:30 p.m.]

[Page 2798]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE: CORRECTIONS OFFICERS - ENFORCEMENT TOOLS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, many Nova Scotians and correctional officers are baffled in this province. Correctional officers are not allowed to bring and use the same enforcement tools that are used in the correctional facilities on an inmate transfer. These well-trained individuals have the proper training to be armed on the escorts, yet this government refuses to allow them to have the necessary tools to ensure their safety and the safety of the public. My question to the Premier is, why are you refusing the use of tools that could help improve the safety of our correctional officers and Nova Scotians in general?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you to my honourable colleague. This is an important issue, and it is one the government feels very strongly about. That's why the minister has moved forward with respect to the independent external audit. Part of the consultation with respect to that audit is done part and parcel with the union. We feel that it is very important to have their input, and the government will follow the lead of that external audit.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's unfortunate this Premier, this government requires an audit to basically inform them of common sense. How can you have these correctional officers trained within the facility to use tools, but they are not allowed to bring them when they leave that facility on transfers? Correctional facility officers in this province are professional and they should be treated that way by this government. It's an insult to imply that they would readily relinquish their enforcement tools to any individual, or during a transfer. We trust most of our peace officers with these tools and yet you refuse to allow correctional officers to have them on their person while on an escort.

MR. SPEAKER: Do you have a question?

MR. SAMSON: We all realize an escort can be . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your question.

MR. SAMSON: . . . a high-risk environment and we saw this with the Carvery escape. My question to the Premier is, is the safety of the public and the correction staff less important to you when a transfer is taking place?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member. We take all the safety and security issues that are a concern, and when there are matters raised there are contingency plans in place. When there's a refusal based upon a concern for safety around that in security, Occupational Health and Safety deal with those. As was indicated by the Premier on many occasions, the external audit is to deal with that in context with the issues

[Page 2799]

and concerns that are being raised with the overall delivery. I also know that in the last 15 years there have been approximately 20,000 transfers that have been in place. I also recognize that within the care facilities there has been a desire not to have armament, and that is part of a wider consultation. It is not, in any way, shape, or form. I responded if there were concerns raised that we would put measures in place, and we have with regard to transfers at this time.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we had an unfortunate incident where a dangerous inmate escaped the custody of two unarmed correctional officers. We all know how that situation could have turned out very differently and the danger that those officers were placed in. This minister now knows what happens when you send correctional officers out without any form of tools, either to apprehend an inmate or even more important, as a mechanism of self-defence for them. It's common sense that if they can use them within the facility, they should be able to use them on transfers.

So my question again to the Premier is, will you finally show leadership, put the safety concerns of Nova Scotians and correctional officers out front, and immediately allow them to use the same tools that they are trained and permitted to use in correctional facilities, when doing transfers from here forward?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to my honourable colleague and to all members of this House, I can say that indeed, with regard to the findings, we wanted to make sure there's full public disclosure with the concerns. I say that I recognize, with regard to the Carvery incident, there are serious concerns that I want to address from a management to an operational point of view, and action has been taken.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize as well there are processes in place. We're following those processes with regard to that and indeed, we have an independent audit, as I've said, with experienced people and a company that will review the concerns that have been raised.

Mr. Speaker, we have a process in place that has worked very effectively for years and we put transitional measures in place where there is refusal to do those transfers.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

TIR: SIX MILE BROOK RD. (PICTOU CO.) - REPLACEMENT

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. My question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. One example of the crumbling infrastructure in Nova Scotia is the Six Mile Brook Road in Salt Springs, Pictou County, the large Morrison culvert washed out in early March and this is causing lengthy detours for local residents and certainly real anxiety over emergency response times.

[Page 2800]

In March I wrote the minister and in his reply he indicated that staff are finalizing the estimate to go to tender and that he would be expediting the process as quickly as they are able. Mr. Speaker, for the safety of this community, this culvert must be replaced as soon as possible. So I'd like to ask the minister, when will this large stream crossing be replaced?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the member opposite for the question and I would say that the honourable member for Pictou Centre, I know, has brought that to my attention, as well, in regard to what will be happening on the Six Mile Brook Road. I can tell the honourable member today that the tender for that particular culvert he is bringing to the attention of the House today has been signed and will be going out very shortly. It's approximate value is about $0.5 million, so it's a big job.

I know there's a second culvert on the road that the member is interested in as well. Staff are trying to ascertain how serious that problem is. If it's a larger problem than we expect, it will be attached to the original tender for repair as well. If not, then the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal staff will repair that one.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that answer. It's true, our roads are continuing to crumble and you're right, last week a second large culvert on the Six Mile Brook Road also collapsed and, in fact, local residents were trapped in there for a time and had no way out. The local department has set up signs and flashing lights, but really at that level they don't have the financial resources to repair both of those big chasms.

My question to the minister is, when will he put roads first and get serious about fixing our crumbling infrastructure, namely the two washouts on the Six Mile Brook Road?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question as well. As I indicated earlier, work is underway now, the tender has been signed. We'll get that repaired as quickly as possible for those residents of that area.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to remind the honourable member that this government over the last number of years has quadrupled our capital budget. I think it's indicative when citizens throughout the province recognize the tremendous work and the tremendous amount of resources that this government has put into repairing roads that have been neglected for 50 or 60 years in this province.

MR. PARKER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. We need a tender call today for both of these culverts. If he is unaware of the scope of the problem, I want to table a picture here - I think it's the largest pothole I've ever seen. I want to leave it with the Page, if I could. It certainly shows the damage on the Six Mile Brook Road at this time.

My question, again to the minister is, when will we see tenders issued for both of these stream crossings in Pictou County?

[Page 2801]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member opposite, I have already signed the tender for the first washout, the big one which was $0.5 million. The Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal staff are ascertaining right now, in fact an assessment has already been done as to whether that second washout is big enough that it should be attached to that tender. If it is, then it will be. If not, staff at the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal will repair that culvert.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

NAT. RES.: UPPER OHIO - ELECTRICAL SERV.

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. As the minister knows, there is a group of residents in the Upper Ohio area of my riding who are still waiting for a service that other Nova Scotians have been taking for granted for over a century. As unbelievable as this may sound, permanent and part-time residents in that area have no access to electric power. As their MLA, I have been working with Nova Scotia Power to get electrical service to the residents of Upper Ohio. Nova Scotia Power is ready to go but the minister's department is standing in the way. My question to the minister is, when will he stop blocking electrical service to the residents of Upper Ohio?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the chance to clarify the record on this. The member opposite is right. Nova Scotia Power has approached the department for an easement to cover Crown land so that they can bring electrical power to the member's constituents. We certainly are trying to work with them. We have given them a couple of options and we are waiting to hear back from Nova Scotia Power.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, since last September, Nova Scotia Power has been prepared to invest hundreds of thousands of dollars to extend power to Upper Ohio residents but their rules, approved by the Utility and Review Board, require that the residents obtain and clear a right-of-way of land that happens to be owned by the Department of Natural Resources. The department has been demanding that these residents pay $11,000 to obtain an easement and now the minister wants the residents to pay stumpage fees on trees cut down for the right-of-way. My question to the minister is, why has he been dragging his feet on help for the residents of Upper Ohio who can finally join the power grid?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite would want us to be fair with his constituents, just as we are with everybody else across the province. There is a standard rate. It has been offered to Nova Scotia Power. In fact, we have given them a choice of two ways of accomplishing this. With regard to the stumpage fees, he is quite right. We were asked, in fact, as to whether we would allow the residents to clear the land and we would be pleased to accommodate them, as we would any other contractor in these

[Page 2802]

circumstances which does involve some stumpage fees but the profit could go to the community.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, I see the minister starting to see the light here. Electricity is an essential service. A private, for-profit power company is prepared to live up to the responsibility to provide that service to a small group of Nova Scotians who are deprived of it. My question to the minister is, why won't he, and the government that he is part of, immediately live up to the responsibility of ensuring that all Nova Scotians have access to a basic service like electricity.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think I have been pretty clear with my first two answers, that this access has been made available to Nova Scotia Power. We bent over backwards to try to accommodate the community by allowing them to harvest the trees over the right-of-way and we will stand by those commitments to his constituents.

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

ECON. DEV. - COMMUN. DEV. TRUST FUND:

N.S. PORTION - DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. This past winter, the federal government announced a $1 billion Community Development Trust aimed at one-industry towns facing major downturns. There are communities across Nova Scotia that desperately need this funding and it is time for the government to tell us what is being done with Nova Scotia's portion. My question to the minister is, how much funding is expected for Nova Scotia from the Community Development Trust?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, $34.9 million.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, towns across the province have been hit hard by this economic downturn. The rising price of gas and the high Canadian dollar has seriously affected our small communities and are causing businesses to shut down and causing our people to move elsewhere to find work. Many of our people in small towns are barely hanging on. My question to the minister; can you explain to us what the plan is for the funding allotted to Nova Scotia from the Community Development Trust?

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. I want to thank the honourable member for asking the question in a manner which allows me to expand a bit on my answer. Mr. Speaker, we have put in place a process whereby we can accept, through the various government departments, ideas that would come forward from various parts of the province with respect to addressing the concerns which were so eloquently outlined by the

[Page 2803]

honourable member. Those will be brought forward; my department will play the key role with respect to the assessment of those plans.

Mr. Speaker, we are looking at, of course, specific towns. I was joined by the honourable Minister of Fisheries in Canso on Monday of this week, where we were able to announce funding for the re-establishment of the inshore fishery. Increasing the capacity of that industry, to be able to thrive in Canso and that was done through that particular program.

[1:45 p.m.]

We, of course, will want to look at other particular areas of the province that have been affected. Also, Mr. Speaker, we want to look at sectors of the economy that have been impacted by the sudden appreciation of the dollar and by other factors that have influenced the economy, such as the downturn in the American economy. So those things are all matters which will be taken into consideration with respect to the disbursement of those funds. I thank the honourable member for the question.

MR. THERIAULT: A great speech, Mr. Speaker. I appreciate it that Canso is getting help but I also need help in western Nova Scotia. The Village of Weymouth has been hit hard, especially with the loss of the Irving mill. Weymouth and surrounding communities rely on a few select industries and without them these villages will surely face difficult financial times in the future. The people of Weymouth need the Progressive Conservative Government to act and they need them to act now. So my question is, will your government commit to assisting and providing economic development to the Village of Weymouth and other surrounding communities?

MR. MACISAAC: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. We, of course, as I indicated in my answer to the first supplementary, are open to ideas that come forward from all parts of the province and certainly Weymouth would be included within that.

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

HEALTH: CONTINUING CARE - DEVOLUTION

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. On the heels of the Corpus Sanchez report, the devolution of continuing care to district health authorities is moving forward after spending seven years on the back burner. The Department of Health has not consulted with front-line workers or their unions on what this process is going to look like and how it will affect them.

I'd like to ask the minister, moving continuing care into health districts has taken over seven years, why not extend this time but another few weeks and engage in a proper consultation by those who are affected by these changes, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 2804]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. To inform the member opposite, I thank him for that question. There is no date that we are envisioning. We will make sure the consultations are done correctly, to ensure that this much-needed change will happen within the continuing care system.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I hope the minister stays true to this. We know the trend from this government about informing and consulting with front-line workers in Justice and in Health. The health care workers of this province remember when the Hamm Government took away their rights in Bill No. 68. They are still reeling from Bill No. 1, this government's latest attempt to take away their bargaining rights. No wonder they are concerned about this process moving forward. They have not had the courtesy of any consultation from this government as it ramps up. So my question to the minister, why didn't his department at least keep health unions in the loop so they could address the concerns that front-line health care workers have about these changes?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know whether the question should be aiming at Bill No. 1 or if my answer should be aiming at the issue of the devolution of continuing care. I'm going to keep to the devolution of continuing care when it comes to those so valuable, the health care workers. We will be discussing it. There is ongoing - the member for Glace Bay, well, no, where is he, I'm sorry, I apologize, Cape Breton Centre. (Interruptions) New Waterford, New Waterford.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: I get so confused, I don't know where he's from to tell you the truth.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: If he could be quiet for 10 seconds, I could probably get my answer but apparently he can't do that.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, we're hearing from front-line health care workers, they're concerned with the changes. They want to be consulted. It seems that this government would rather pick a fight with health care unions than work with them when they're implementing major changes to health care delivery in the province. So I would like to ask the minister, will he commit to making sure front-line workers and their unions are kept informed as this process moves forward?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you very much for that intelligent question. It was good to see a good question come from the NDP and, yes, we will consult with them and we will make sure that they know what's going on. Mr. Speaker, I seem to be giving him the

[Page 2805]

answer he wants, yet he doesn't accept it. Once again, the NDP really don't care about what's going on in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

FIN. - PUB. SERV. PENSION FUND: NSGEU CONCERNS -

ADDRESS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Acting Minister of Finance. On March 26th the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union wrote the minister about the pension plans for Nova Scotian public servants. It's May 7th, Mr. Minister, and we haven't had the courtesy of a reply yet. The government employees union is very worried about the low returns on investment for the Public Service Superannuation Fund. Making sure our retired public servants have enough money for their old age is a very serious matter.

So, Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the minister, why hasn't his government addressed the Nova Scotia Government & General Employees Union's concerns?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I thank the member for that question and, Mr. Speaker, the issue of Public Service Superannuation Funds are a concern not only to the NSGEU, but to any member who is employed by the government. The government has a team which looks after investments. There's no question, you know, our funds, like those right across the country, have been subject to the economic downturn.

Mr. Speaker, the government is taking steps to - how am I going to say - perhaps renew the approach to the pension funds here in Nova Scotia and there is going to be a new person who has been hired. Anyway, there was an advertisement for a position to head up the pension funds here in Nova Scotia. I don't know whether the person is on board or not but I know a candidate has been selected.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, we, too, are looking forward to the new CEO being in place on May 12th, Mr. Minister. It's long overdue that someone be put in this position and having a new person in place, however, will not address the past 10 years of relatively poor investment returns.

Mr. Speaker, other members of the government employees union in health care are members of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organization's Pension Plan and in that plan, investment returns have outperformed the Public Service Superannuation Plan. If the Public Service pension plan had achieved the same rate of return as the health plan, there would be an additional $0.5 billion in their fund. I want to ask the minister, why have you neglected the public service plan when it has performed well below the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organization's plan?

[Page 2806]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can't comment on returns of the Nova Scotia Association of Health Organizations. They manage their funds, government manages its - but I can tell you the government funds have performed a lot better than many others organizations to date. We would all like to have a 10 or 15 per cent return on these things annually; we'd all be much more comfortable, including, I presume, the people in this House who also may - well, some people may draw benefit from it.

It is a concern to government and clearly the fact that a new person is being brought in there to head up that enterprise as a leader indicates how much priority the government is placing on it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the government has watched as an investment return crisis developed with our public servants' pension fund, and at the same time unilaterally increased their contribution rates to among the highest in the country. My final question for the minister is what's your long-term financial strategy for the public service pension fund?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as I say, there is going to be a new chief manager for the Nova Scotia Pension Fund. Over the ten-year average - and she is comparing the NSAHO with the Public Service Pension Fund - the return for the NSAHO was 8.7 per cent; the ten-year average for the Public Service Pension Fund was 7.2 per cent. Now I see that the NSAHO is higher, but the difference is not as great as I think the honourable member's question implies.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

TIR: CROSSWALK SAFETY - FUNDING

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. Back in April, the government announced funding totalling $300,000 for crosswalk safety and awareness over three years. Now, with the warmer months approaching and increased pedestrian traffic expected, I'm pleased the government has finally committed funding to address crosswalk safety and awareness, but $100,000 a year isn't enough. We need to change people's thoughts and ideas about crossing the street, and we need to change them now. My question to the minister is, what additional financial commitment is your government prepared to make to increase safety at Nova Scotia crosswalks?

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member opposite for the question. I will say I know the member has had a strong interest in this issue when it was brought before the House on many occasions and I want to thank him for that. The previous minister - the Minister of Economic Development - in partnership with HRM did form a committee, and that committee returned with forty-two recommendations for which we have

[Page 2807]

accepted all of them. The issue of the $300,000 in the changing of crosswalk lights from small 8 inch, the old style lights, to LED lights, 12 inch - we believe this should significantly help across this province at various locations. Municipalities do have the opportunity to apply to get us to help them with that.

HRM, through partnership with them, have identified five areas where they want to initiate a new process with regard to crosswalk safety, and I think it will go a long way to ensuring pedestrians are safer in this province.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, government is implementing changes to existing crosswalk lights and installing new eye-level amber lights for vehicles. While these are positive steps towards increasing safety, crossing the street is the shared responsibility between the drivers and pedestrians. We need to ensure that education is the key to bring safety on our streets. My next question to the minister is what educational components can we expect from government to increase crosswalk safety in Nova Scotia?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the member opposite for the question. Changing these lights and enhancing crosswalk lights across the province is the easy part and that's in the short term. In the long term, through working with our various departments, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations and other departments, the Department of Justice, we've advanced those recommendations to the Road Safety Committee.

Mr. Speaker, we'll be embarking on a large educational campaign across this province not only for existing drivers, but I believe there's a real opportunity for new and upcoming drivers who will be taking driver testing over the next number of years, to impact them in regards to crosswalk safety as well. So we will be embarking upon a long, multi-year, educational component of those recommendations.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, HRM is the largest municipality in Nova Scotia so, of course, it stands to reason that funding to increase crosswalk safety would be directed to them. However other municipalities, from Sydney to Yarmouth to Amherst, have crosswalks as well. So my final question to the minister is, what portion of the announced $300,000 will be allocated to other areas outside HRM?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member mentioned, we have indicated that we'll commit $100,000, over the next three years, for a total of $300,000. That money is available for those projects in HRM and as well, municipalities throughout the province can apply to do some cost-sharing in regards to what they may perceive as issues in their own communities. I see this as the first step in regards to crosswalk safety. It has been a real issue in this province for the last number of years. I believe this partnership we formed with HRM, is a real opportunity to ensure that our roads, in particular for our pedestrians, are safe in regards to crosswalk safety.

[Page 2808]

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

HEALTH - AUTISM WORKING GROUP: FORMATION - TIMELINE

MS. BECKY KENT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In November, 2007, the all-Party Standing Committee on Community Services unanimously supported a resolution to create a working group on autism. This group would consist of professionals and advocates for persons with autism spectrum disorder to discuss meeting the needs of people with autism in Nova Scotia, over their lifetime. The minister and his colleagues in Community Services and Education know that the needs are many and lifelong. My question to the minister, when will this working group be formed?

[2:00 p.m.]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to have to ask for your clarification on this - there is a bill before the House that was tabled by the member for Kings West pertaining to this directly. I am asking the Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The Rules of the House state that if there is a bill before it being debated, it's not supposed to be questioned in the House. Is there a way that you can rephrase your question?

MS. KENT: Mr. Speaker, the Autism Society of Nova Scotia has been told by the minister that there will be no working group. His rationale is that there is a working group attached to the EIBI Program at the IWK, but surely the minister knows that this is a parent group, limited to that particular program only. It's a far cry from the group that this minister's colleagues supported at the committee. So I ask the minister, will he review the Hansard from the meeting and sit down with the Autism Society to discuss the request for a working group?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have reviewed the Hansard from that meeting. As always, we'll continue to sit and meet with the partners that so care about these children and adults with this disorder.

MS. KENT: Mr. Speaker, the minister's own colleagues were there at the standing committee meeting and they voted in favour of this working group being created. If he won't listen to his own Cabinet colleagues at the table, will he at least listen to the stakeholders like the Autism Society who help families with this issue every day?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as always, we will continue to consult with all interested parties and we'll continue to consult with the community as we always have.

[Page 2809]

MS. KENT: Mr. Speaker, with reference to this working group that the Community Services Committee unanimously supported, is this minister willing to consider a group that has professionals and advocates for persons with autism spectrum disorder to meet the needs of people with autism in their lifetime, over their lifetime, not just to age five?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, we will continue to consult, we will continue to work with the groups that are so dedicated to this cause. We will continue to smartly invest the $4 million that we have now for that EIBI program.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Shelburne.

COM. SERV.: HOME REPAIR GRANTS - INCOME LEVELS

MR. STERLING BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Neil Shand is a constituent of mine. He lives with his disabled mother and has been her sole caregiver for a number of years. Mr. Shand has had to carry his mother up and down the steps to get her in and out of the house. He applied for a grant to put in a ramp but he was turned down because the household income is too high. They are living on two small pensions. My question to the minister is, why are household income thresholds too low, knowing that they are leaving many Nova Scotians out of luck, getting the necessary repairs for their homes?

HON. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, I thank my honourable colleague for the question, although my honourable colleague knows I can't speak to specifics of any case. Certainly the premise of his question regarding income levels and accessibility is a serious one. It's one that we take very seriously. That is why we invest over $18 million every year in the menu of housing, repair programs, et cetera, that we offer across this province. We have those income limits in place. Some programs, in cooperation with Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation, some provincial income levels and when we are able to, we increase those income levels and we will continue to do that on an annual basis as the financial ability of the province allows us to.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Shand could not wait any longer so he got a loan and put on the ramp. That might sound like a small bill to you. It poses a big challenge for Mr. Shand and his mother. There are other renovations that it would make it much easier to continue caring for his mother at home but there seems to be no way to get help. My question to the minister is, why don't the housing programs take disability and medical expenses into consideration when they are setting cutoff levels?

MS. STREATCH: Again, Mr. Speaker, there are a multitude of factors that we do take into consideration. The area in which individuals or a family live, the income levels of those individuals or families and, again, we have raised those levels when we have been able

[Page 2810]

to do so within the fiscal ability of our department. We will continue to do so, as we are able, to help all Nova Scotians who are in need of our assistance.

MR. BELLIVEAU: Mr. Speaker, Neil Shand has saved this province tens of thousands of dollars by being his family caregiver but he can't get just a little help to make his safe and comfortable for him and his mother. I ask the minister, why won't her government meet these families half way and help make life easier for people like Neil Shand and his mother?

MS. STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, again to my honourable colleague across the way, I know he raises this out of compassion for his constituents but, again, I have indicated that the over $18 million that is spent on home repair programs in this province is money well spent. We will continue to invest in those upgrades. We recognize that ageing in place is extremely important, as is assisting persons with disabilities. Again, when we are able to increase those household limits and when we are able to increase those grants - for the Access-A-Home program, the household income levels were increased this year as was the quantity for the grants.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: REG. LIBRARIES - FINANCIAL AID

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Libraries, large or small, urban or rural, help provide a holistic learning environment for every single region across Nova Scotia. Despite the requests by many regional libraries for additional funding last year, the minister and her department stood silent as many were forced to reduce operating hours, slash community programs and cut off the staff. After months of inaction, the minister finally responded to cries of regional libraries and announced a task force to examine the current funding formula. My question to the minister is, why didn't the minister show a more timely response to provide financial aid to regional libraries last Fall?

HON. KAREN CASEY: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the question of libraries and library funding was certainly asked last year. As a result of that, I have met with the regional library boards and listened to their concerns. They have fairly legitimate concerns about funding. The formula that's currently being used does not appear to be addressing the needs and as a result of that, there is now a new funding formula review committee that is doing their work, fair representation from a lot of the boards across the province. Their report to me is expected in June. Thank you.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the monies for libraries provided in this year's budget arrived 10 months too late. Regional libraries have publicly asked this government for additional resources in June, 2007, not May, 2008. Many libraries such as Cape Breton,

[Page 2811]

Cumberland, Pictou, Antigonish and Western Region are just a few of the libraries that have been put into crisis mode due to a lack of provincial funding. As a result of this government's neglect, many libraries have been forced into cost-saving measures such as reducing hours of operation, halting book orders, cutting staff work hours and even cancelling beneficial pre-school reading programs. My question to the minister is, will the minister allow regional libraries to close their doors to the public or will this government show leadership and provide funding for the real requirement for libraries?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say that in our base funding for last year, we increased the dollars to library boards by $1 million. This year, in the proposed budget that is before the House, we have increased it by another $500,000 and we will be looking at a new formula come June.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, we just hope that regional libraries don't get caught up like gas regulations, stagnant tourism revenue and the Atlantic Accord. The Pictou-Antigonish Regional Library has been forced to make many educational sacrifices to their community. In November, 2007, while government delayed its response to the library funding crisis, Pictou-Antigonish was forced to stop ordering books. Many more services at all regional libraries were cut and more will be cut if government does not provide them with the additional resources they need to provide community programs. My question to the minister is, why is the minister forcing regional libraries to stop book orders and cut early learning programs across the province?

MS. CASEY: Mr. Speaker, I want to acknowledge the excellent work that's done by the nine library boards and the 77 sites across the province. We value that. It is certainly an integral part of the communities in which those libraries exist. That's why we want to work with the library boards to make sure they can identify a funding formula that will meet their needs and we will respond.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

TIR: SECONDARY ROADS - PRIORITY STATUS

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal. We can all agree that Nova Scotia faces road infrastructure deficit. This is especially true in rural Nova Scotia where people are dependent upon our secondary highways to get to work, to get our children to school safety and to maintain the small business opportunities in our communities. With the growing deterioration of our secondary highway infrastructure, can this minister tell us, after nine years in power, why our secondary roads are a low priority for this government?

[Page 2812]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. The member is wrong. As I said earlier, this government in the last nine years has quadrupled the number of dollars being spent annually in capital. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, this government faces huge challenges. Every time the gas goes up in this province, petroleum, up goes the cost in repaving and resurfacing of roads. I think it's important to point out that one moment the NDP wants to rebuild all the roadbeds - which would mean probably $1 million per kilometre - and the next minute, they want us to pave all the gravel roads in Nova Scotia. Now, they're asking us why we're putting secondary roads behind. You can't have it both ways. All the NDP want to do is tax and spend, tax and spend. You can't have it both ways. We are doing a good job in regards to rebuilding roads in the province and I'm proud of the job this government is doing.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, this minister is giving us a lot of rhetoric here. This government has had nine years in power to really seriously look at our secondary roads. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The member for Queens has the floor.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, our secondary roads are vital gateways into our rural communities and I've written this minister and his department several times over the past two years regarding road issues that have been brought to me. I've tabled petitions in this House outlining concerns of local residents and I have personally driven over many of these secondary roads. In 2001, the department had a plan with its 10-year needs study. How close is this minister to completing this plan?

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, every MLA in this Legislature can talk about roads in their own constituency. I can, I've got roads in my own constituency. I just wish this government had the dollars to do them all but we don't, we don't.

Mr. Speaker, I've sat in this Legislature with the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition for 10 years and not once, not one time have I ever heard the honourable member say to a group, to an organization, to a community, to an individual, that you can't do everything for everybody. It can't be done. We're doing a great job with the money we have. We are paving roads in this province, unprecedented in this province. This government is doing a good job but, again, spend is all these people want to do, tax and spend.

MS. CONRAD: Mr. Speaker, the residents of Port Medway, Voglers Cove, West Caledonia, Westfield, South West Port Mouton and Italy Cross have been waiting far too

[Page 2813]

long for improvements to what they see as vital gateways between their communities. My question to the minister is, after nine years, why are these rural gateways continuing to crumble?

MR. SCOTT: Mr. Speaker, I think the record of this government speaks well for itself, you know, from $40-some million when we came into power, to last year, $145 million to capital in this province. We are partnering with the federal government in regard to infrastructure on our bridges and highways, on the 100-Series Highways, and we'll continue to put large amounts of resource into our highway system that had been neglected for so many years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

AGRIC. - AGRIC. IND.: ACTION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture. Well, once again it's Spring and once again I'm here to ask a question about the Progressive Conservative Government's lack of attention to one of the most important industries we used to have in agriculture - the hog industry. A few weeks ago, the Premier and his government went hog-wild on spending for the province and we saw meagre support for the beef industry, nothing for the hog industry. My question to the minister, why does the agriculture industry continue to suffer under your government's lack of action to aid these primary industries?

HON. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, I would like to inform him that just this morning the honourable member for Kings North, the Minister of Environment, convened a meeting in his constituency office where we had, in fact, the chairman of Pork Nova Scotia bringing forward some concerns and, in fact, we are working with the pork industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. Quite frankly, again, I think it is worth repeating, while we brought in our seventh balanced budget, we are also putting more into agriculture than any province in Atlantic Canada. We are investing in agriculture, we are investing in pork.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, earlier this month, the federal Conservative Government made an announcement to pay pork producers $50 million to slaughter 150,000 hogs across the country. This announcement is too little too late for many farmers in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, what conversations have you had in recent months, with your federal cousins, to try to secure funding and move the November date further back?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to inform the honourable member that we have spoken with the Honourable Gerry Ritz, the federal Minister of Agriculture. We have asked, in fact, that the hog cull program be retroactive to September because, in fact, we

[Page 2814]

recognize that this is a national problem right across this country and we took the lead here in Nova Scotia, we worked with the pork producers. We provided funding through direct assistance. We provided traditional money and we will continue, in fact, to work with our federal cousins in Ottawa to help that industry, that, in fact, is struggling, but it is a national problem.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to get the minister on the record to confirm that those exiting with the huge loans won't lose their home in the process.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I made a commitment, in fact, to the honourable member for Clare on that same point and he can consult . . .

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

The honourable Minister of Labour and Workforce Development, on an introduction.

HON. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce the Central Kings Canadian History Grade 11 class with their leaders Greg Milne and Maggie Milne. Half of the class is here, the other half has gone down to the Maritime Museum. They are here to observe the House and they are able to observe Question Period, which is one of the more exciting times. So I would ask them to rise and the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond, on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, today in the gallery, on both sides of the gallery, we have a number of correctional workers who are here from facilities throughout Nova Scotia. As I am sure you saw today, concerns were raised during Question Period and they are here to have the opportunity to raise those issues directly with members and certainly directly with the Premier, the minister and with the government. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that was actually my introduction but I just want to join in welcoming them to the House. (Applause)

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

[Page 2815]

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 119.

Bill No. 119 - Health Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place to debate Bill No. 119, the Health Act. This is a common sense bill that will, in the future, secure the supply of physicians to underserviced communities in this province. The issue of recruitment of physicians to underserviced communities in this province has been a challenge for some time. The current Minister of Health knows that. Ministers of Health before him knew that and, well, we will see if ministers to come will know that or not.

Let me say, much of the focus has been on recruiting doctors to underserviced areas through incentives and debt relief. Mr. Speaker, this focus needs to continue to ensure that family physicians, who need to choose either an area such as Digby or an area such as Glace Bay or Bridgetown, they need to choose those communities to practise in instead of Toronto, Ottawa or, for instance, Oakville.

This bill acknowledges that with the rising cost of tuition, recruitment will become even more challenging as potential doctors decide whether they can afford to enter medical school in the first place. A national physician survey that was released last week revealed that high tuition costs are a major factor in determining whether otherwise highly qualified students will actually enter medical school.

More than one-third of those students who participated in that 2007 questionnaire were expecting their debt load from going to medical school to exceed $80,000. A debt load from medical school alone does not factor in the undergraduate degree that's required to apply to medical school as well. Most undergraduate degrees, I would suggest, are in the vicinity of perhaps $40,000-some these days, so if you put the two of those together you can see a rather staggering debt load that medical students are facing once they complete their education.

All of these issues raise concerns over whether there are some brilliant students out there, especially those from rural communities, perhaps from Aboriginal communities or Black communities, that could even afford to train as doctors. This bill, Bill No. 119, gives

[Page 2816]

those students some hope. This bill also gives underserviced communities some hope as well - hope that there will be a future supply of 20 physicians available to establish practices in these communities, wherever those communities may be, in four years or five years.

We know today the communities that are struggling to find physicians. Let me give you some examples: Bridgetown requires two physicians; Kingston-Greenwood area requires two physicians; Berwick requires two physicians; one in L'Ardoise; there are three required in Dartmouth; one in Halifax; one in Hantsport; one in Mineville; one in Musquodoboit Harbour; one in Musquodoboit Valley; one in Sheet Harbour; there are two required in Bridgewater; one in Chester Basin; and there are opportunities in Lunenburg, Chester, and Pictou County needs four doctors; Digby requires three; Lockeport, one; Shelburne, one; Yarmouth, two. I'm still not finished - this will give you an indication of the problem. There are two in the Tusket-Argyle-Pubnico region, the minister should find that very interesting. There are two in Amherst, one in Pugwash and one in Springhill. That will give you an indication of the communities that require physicians as of today, even as we speak.

Certainly my own community in Cape Breton - and Cape Breton, in general, is not without its challenges - let me elaborate for a moment on my own community of Glace Bay. Recently I had conversations with a couple of residents in Glace Bay, a couple of constituents, who told me that at least two doctors have left the area. I've yet to have that confirmed by the Cape Breton Healthcare Complex, but we're working on getting that confirmation. These doctors who have supposedly left the area were family doctors, family physicians. As we all know, family physicians perform tasks such as filling up prescriptions for refills. One of the people who called me said they were having a problem getting referred to another doctor in order to get a prescription that was required to treat him for diabetes. In order to get that diabetes prescription refilled, he had to go to the emergency room in Glace Bay and sit for a six-hour period in order to see a doctor to simply write out a prescription to get his medication refilled.

Another constituent who called me said that her husband, his doctor left the area. Her husband is on dialysis and needs dialysis three times a week, but now he has no family doctor. She was very concerned about that, not about the fact that her husband wasn't getting the proper treatment in terms of dialysis - he still is - but she was very concerned with the fact that, along with any other ailments that might come about, he is not able to see a family doctor any longer.

Another constituent wrote me back some time ago that one of the doctors - and I'd be glad to table this e-mail after I'm finished with it - in Glace Bay was leaving at the end of the month and there would not be a doctor replacing that doctor, and no other doctors in town were taking on new patients. This particular person who wrote this e-mail, a constituent, said they cannot find another doctor. There's a walk-in clinic that's open in Sydney in the evenings, but it's only open from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. She was concerned as a patient who is not seriously ill, has no serious illness, but requires what she

[Page 2817]

referred to as a continuity in her health care due to her medical condition that she was concerned.

When she considered those who are in much worse shape physically, she said she was alarmed and she was worried about the strain that the lack of doctors would put on the local ER department - when it is open, Mr. Speaker, and she wanted to point that out, when it is open, because we have a frequency of ER closures in Glace Bay and surrounding areas. She was afraid that the strain it would put on them, causing longer waits and often for little more than prescriptions and referrals, as I indicated.

[2:30 p.m.]

The writer of this e-mail wanted me to bring this to the attention of the Premier and those having responsibility for the health and well-being of the population of not just Glace Bay, but all of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I would table that e-mail now.

Mr. Speaker, we are not - I don't think we are, anyway - naive enough to assume that this bill will solve everything and that government and future governments can say that our work is simply done in this field. It's not, but this bill is a longer-term solution, we believe, to an immediate problem. It is only one tool that's there to address the issues around physician recruitment in underserviced communities as well.

There is much that needs to be done, Mr. Speaker, to capture a new class of medical graduates who are going to receive their degrees over the next couple of weeks. It was just a few days ago that I read with great interest in The ChronicleHerald an article there from a medical student by the name of Tarek Ezzat, who is a resident of Glace Bay, he comes from Glace Bay. He was quite concerned, as a medical student, as to what was being done with recruitment of doctors.

I've talked to a number of medical students at Dalhousie University. To my surprise, none of the students I spoke with have been approached directly by anyone to recruit them to stay in this province and to stay in rural areas of this province. I found that amazing, Mr. Speaker, that they hadn't been approached directly. I would have hoped that they would have said, look, we can't just simply keep them away from our doors, there are too many recruiters in Nova Scotia and they are continuously hassling me - will you please locate in Nova Scotia, we're going to do this for you, we're going to do that for you, please stay here - and in a couple of cases it was their home province.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that we have to be, we need to be, and we should be, proactive in this situation. We should be aggressive in this situation because, unless we are, those students are not going to stay in Nova Scotia - those students are not going to be interested in staying in this province and locating in rural areas, where they are desperately needed.

[Page 2818]

So we need this bill to provide the stability to the underserviced communities, not just now but especially down the road, and we feel it would give some otherwise very bright students some hope that they're going to be able to pursue their passion not only of obtaining a medical degree, but a review of what is being offered now, whether it's working, whether we can do things better, what needs to be done. Again, more solutions are required. We feel that this bill would be a huge step forward.

Mr. Speaker, we are glad to hear the minister stand in this House today and we were pleased to hear what the minister had to say about establishing new seats at Dalhousie Medical School. We do feel that it is a step in the right direction. I think the minister knows that we would have liked to have seen, perhaps, a little bit more. You can't always get everything that you want but we do realize that the minister - and I will say this, for the first time, for the first time in nine years, this minister, from this government is at least starting to pay attention to some of the things that we are saying. In the past, what we have suggested has been totally ignored. It is not surprising that we are in the mess that we are in today because of that.

We know, Mr. Speaker, that by working together in this minority government situation, perhaps we can make things change for the better. Again, we are not naive enough to know, or think, that we have all of the answers to solve everything and that we are going to suggest to government that this be the only answer. What we are suggesting to government, in this case, is that we have a good piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that deserves their attention. We think, ultimately, in the long run, that this bill - and hopefully through this debate today, from other speakers that we will hear shortly, that at the end of the day, at the end of this discussion, the minister and the government will understand that this bill not only deserves their attention, this bill deserves a commitment from this government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to rise today to speak about Private Member's Public Bill No. 119. Our government is deeply committed to improving access to doctors in our province. The member opposite spoke very well about the requirements for doctors in our rural areas. I can also say to the member opposite that we too get the phone calls and the visits to our constituency offices from people who do not have doctor coverage. I can also say that we are still very well represented here in Nova Scotia and I will get to some of those comments later on.

We are eagerly committed to encouraging more Nova Scotians to enter health care professions and to improve access to medical school and other training opportunities for students. While we agree with the intent behind this bill, we do not feel it is the right approach for Nova Scotia. Each new Nova Scotia medical student who is added requires a significant amount of infrastructure, logistic and financial support. With that in mind, we

[Page 2819]

must consider the ability of our medical school to support new students when considering any strategy.

Earlier today I was pleased to announce that we will be adding 10 new undergraduate medical seats at Dalhousie University for Nova Scotia students, five in the Fall of 2008 and five in the Fall of 2009. Mr. Speaker, I wish I could have gone and said there are going to be 10 available this year, but there is a matter of infrastructure at the Dalhousie Medical School. This will bring the total complement, I believe, to somewhere near 95, which does pretty much fill up the school. So there has to be some time for them to address that infrastructure requirement for those medical students.

The intent of this program that I announced today is to increase the supply of family doctors to Nova Scotia. We know that potential medical students want the option to be trained right here in their own province and these new 10 seats will be reserved for Nova Scotians only, as I mentioned before. In addition, we will provide tuition support for these students who, in turn, will set up practice in Nova Scotia upon graduation.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that the other option that we want to look at is that once we know that the full complement of family physicians is taken care of, that we can react and change the requirements to maybe look at other deficiencies within the system, whether it be for internists or ENT or whatever the specialty might be. Right now our focus will be on general practice, on family medicine.

Mr. Speaker, also to be considered in this discussion is the issue of the New Brunswick seats that will be coming available in the next number of years. I know the target that had been set originally by the Government of New Brunswick, as well as the Dalhousie Medical School, was to have a medical school set up and operational in New Brunswick and Saint John, I believe, by 2009 or 2010. I know with discussions with the medical school, with Dr. Harold Cook, who is the Dean of Medicine there, that the negotiations, even though they are still ongoing, that now without a final decision, that starts to get pushed off into the future. So I still cannot commit that those 20 seats will be available to Nova Scotia on that 2009-10 original date. We will keep the House apprised of the situation as things come along, as the deal with New Brunswick becomes closer and closer to reality.

Now, as I said earlier, we are already doing comparatively well in regard to the number of family doctors per capita in Nova Scotia. We know that 95 per cent of Nova Scotians have access, they may not be using that access, but have access to a regular family physician, as compared to the national average of 86 per cent. Mr. Speaker, this is, of course, an issue that we find right across the country. In places like Ontario, the number is actually worse than that 86 per cent. So, of course, we wish them well in their issues but we need to address those issues here at home. This initiative will ensure that we continue to grow and improve upon that success.

[Page 2820]

This, however, is not only the increase in medical student training seats in Nova Scotia. Included in this year's budget is also the funding for nine new residency seats at Dalhousie. Previously, seats at Dalhousie were also increased by eight. The other caveat that we want to put on this as an interim measure is to be able to offer residency seats to those individuals who are from Nova Scotia who have decided, or because of not being accepted to the medical program here at Dalhousie would have had to go elsewhere in order to get their medical training in places around the world, whether it be Hungary, whether it be the Islands of Sabah, whether it be somewhere in the U.S., to be able to give an opportunity for these individuals to come back home to get their residency, to get their final training here in Nova Scotia in order for them to practice here.

Training doctors enter these new residency positions under the agreement that they will practice in Nova Scotia after graduation. So, again, more return for service in our system. Training more doctors through the introduction of new medical school seats is important but so too is the retention and recruitment of these physicians as they become available to us.

I'm pleased to say that Nova Scotia is still able to replace any doctor who is leaving and increase our overall numbers. We've been able to improve the number of doctors practising in rural areas as well as increase those graduating from our medical program. However, we also know that as competition for precious human health resources continues to grow, so to must our efforts to make Nova Scotia even more appealing to doctors. We are doing so through a combination of competitive compensation in a number of programs and initiatives that each support the districts and our partners.

Mr. Chairman, - I apologize for that again. M. le président, again, we are at job fairs. We were at the Dalhousie job fair offering positions to medical students here in Nova Scotia. We end up in all places around Canada as these job fairs become available in order to talk to the medical students who are at various medical schools across Canada - so trying our best to twist their arms and get them to come to Nova Scotia. I know that hand in hand are the department, the DHAs and the communities to try to entice these so needed human health resources to come to our communities.

Nova Scotia has the highest percentage of alternate payment plans of all provinces. Of course, you're going to ask, well, what does that have to do with it? But it has a lot to do with it. These agreements are on the leading edge of physician remuneration and they are very appealing to doctors. Several alternate funding contracts are available to physicians in Nova Scotia, in the community these are available to physicians in areas with specific challenges, where doctors are working in collaborative practices. They're also available for physicians working in academic settings.

Since 2005, the CAPP program has helped 23 international medical candidates start practice in rural communities. A number of seats at Dalhousie University already have a

[Page 2821]

return for service commitments in the province. Actually I want to go back to the IMG issue, of course, CAPP, and I want to talk about the success that we are having in the Yarmouth area when it comes to those international medical graduates. Through the leadership of our Premier, the leadership of Dr. Shelagh, set forth a program to create a clinic where residents of Yarmouth could, under the supervision of the doctor, train three new medical students, three new international medical graduates.

Mr. Speaker, I can say that these individuals who have been trained under those auspices moved out of the training as they became fully-licensed doctors in Nova Scotia and moved into the community and are now working at the Harbour South Medical Clinic under the auspices of Dr. Roland Muise. I can say this is working very well for the community of Yarmouth and the surrounding area and one that we would want to replicate around Nova Scotia.

I can also say that even though there was a lot of discussion around this and a lot of hope, there were many more of these international medical graduates sort of hanging around, doing other jobs until they could get their further training to work in Nova Scotia. We have only been able to get 23 through that system yet and the demand for those IMG seats is actually diminishing. So we do hope that we can find more of these individuals who can be trained, in some cases, in a year or two years in order to work in the medical system here in Nova Scotia, and more particularly anywhere in Canada.

A number of seats at Dalhousie University, as I said, already have return for service. We provide reallocation allowances for physicians moving to areas that have significant needs. The community of Digby is a good example of having all those options available to them to get a doctor to relocate. Relocation allowances are supplemented through a site visit program for physicians interested in practising in specific locations where need has been identified. Basically study tours where we do have the opportunity to take a couple of medical students or a couple of trained doctors, to show them different parts of Nova Scotia that require doctors to be practising.

[2:45 p.m.]

In a lot of cases, when they have the opportunity to see a community, to see the people in a community, they make a decision much more readily and do move into some of these areas. So that's a very good program, I believe, that we do have in our department.

We have a debt assistance plan. We offer three levels of debt assistance to physicians who have recently completed their residencies. Of course there's a rural locum program that provides minimum income guarantees, living expenses, and mileage reimbursement for those family physicians and specialists covering vacations and other needs in the community across the province. We have the Summer Rural Preceptorship Program which is a summer program for second-year medical students. It allows them to work side by side with family

[Page 2822]

practitioners in rural areas, so another way to sort of get them to see what rural life is, what rural practice means, and hopefully entice them to set up their own practices or work collaboratively with the physician they get to mentor them.

We, of course, provide bursaries with return-for-service commitments for psychiatry residents at Dalhousie University. We do spend a lot of time talking about the requirement for family medicine or general practice to come to this province, but we do have other vacancies that need to be filled. Psychiatry is one of the biggest ones we need to continue to fill in this province.

I know that with this return-for-service commitment, with the bursary, we have been making inroads but there are still too many physicians who are unavailable. We have dollars in this year's budget to address some of our mental health wait times but until we have physicians, the psychiatrists in place, we will still always be behind the curve just a little bit.

We also support continuing medical education through alternative funding contracts and Doctors Nova Scotia, in order to continue to find locums to replace individuals as they go off to further their training to offer more services to the area. We fund benefits and retirement programs for all physicians through Doctors Nova Scotia, and through our Re-entry to Practice program, family physicians who have been practising within the province for two years can train in specialty residency programs. Why not take these family medicine individuals who are working in our communities and train them to work in our ERs on an on-call basis, to have more backup, if you will, for those individuals practising in our ERs.

As we move forward we're also looking at additional ways to achieve our objectives, whether that be through Web advertising, Web site availability, whether that be through more traditional types of advertising, through the newspaper, through TV, what have you, we are looking at all of our options to be able to do that.

As we move forward and renegotiate the physician master agreement with Doctors Nova Scotia, we are continuing to look for opportunities to ensure that Nova Scotia becomes an even more attractive place to practise medicine. I can say that talking to doctors - you know, why don't they do things, or why can't they do things - a lot of time they talk about the master agreement and the dollars that are available to them to do things like visit our long-term care facilities in order to care for those patients in those facilities. There's actually a monetary disincentive to do those things sometimes, when you're on a fee-for-service, for instance.

A physician is on a fee-for-service, working in his office, he basically has to give up a couple of hours, so that could mean 10 or 20 patients, depending on their load, to go and see maybe a couple of patients at a long-term care facility. So there's a disincentive there and I can say to the master agreement, we'll take some of those issues in place and understand that. A part of that, as well, is taking into consideration the transformation document and the

[Page 2823]

transformation of our health care system and what is going to be required of these individuals going into the future.

Together, the province and its partners are finding ways to meet the changing health care needs of our province, the challenges we face through a creative approach, working with our partners. We're establishing new ways to work together and to do business and we're ensuring the health of Nova Scotians comes first.

Again, I am very happy to have made my announcement today on those extra seats that will be going to the Dalhousie Medical School, again, the five that are going in this year, the five that will follow the next year and, of course, the incremental increase that will happen as those first years become second years and move on to their profession. I look forward to those individuals being trained and ready to go in six years to work in our rural areas. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak to Bill No. 119.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to stand in the House today to talk about one of the most important key components to the solution to some of our problems we see here in Nova Scotia around the recruitment and retention of health care providers, specifically medical doctors and physicians here in Nova Scotia.

I support the premise of Bill No. 119 and I think it's a good step that we're here debating, we're talking about the need for encouraging and supporting students in Nova Scotia to have the ability to attend medical school here in Nova Scotia. I said it earlier, it's ironic we're debating this bill now. Just prior to the session today, the Minister of Education announced his intentions to support five additional medical seats here at Dalhousie and five next year, which is great, and I said in my comments earlier today, it's about time that we hear initiatives like this coming from the government.

I've said it before and I will say it again, it's been nine long years for this government, who were elected on some of the promises by Dr. John Hamm that they would fix health care. In 1999, when they were elected, they recognized there was going to be a shortage of physicians, especially in rural communities. They should be well aware of it. The majority of the government is made up of rural MLAs. They know the pressures on the communities they represent, especially the pressures on the doctors who work in those communities.

We know - ironically, here's a bill from the Liberal Party - that they did cut health care and slashed health care in the 1990s and we're still feeling the effects of that. It's interesting to see this piece of legislation come here today. I hope that with any future announcements the government has, I hope that with the announcement they made this morning, they had some consultation, they talked to those who this piece of legislation - or

[Page 2824]

the initiatives the government's going to go forward with - those individuals who are affected by it. I mean the medical students that we have here in the province today. I know when the member for Glace Bay, or the Liberal Party said they were going to bring this forward today, we made several calls to try to see what the medical students today, the class of 2008, feel about this initiative.

Mr. Speaker, we were enlightened that really, for students who are working or studying today in the medical field, the students who are there now, there was little interest from those students to agree to free tuition for service deal, that they would talk or make an agreement with the government to be told where to go. One of the things they said is that they need support. They need the support of the tuition because tuition is so high here in this province, because the tuition is not just the only issue. Medical doctors want to be able to practice where they can and they are limited.

They also told us, Mr. Speaker, that 40 per cent to 50 per cent of the students would take up the option of getting tuition support, as long as there wasn't any real directive as to where they would have to go to practice. They still want to be able to make those determinations throughout their training in the medical field.

Increasing the number of rural doctors is so important and it has been an issue across the country, not only here in Nova Scotia. The key, I think, to increasing these numbers is ensuring that there are interested students, from rural communities, able to obtain that training. So what I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is that students who live in rural Nova Scotia, for example, need to have the opportunity to get into the medical schools. I've heard, and I'm sure other members of the House have heard, that that is very difficult. It's very hard for a student to get into medical school. I just don't understand why it has taken so long, that we're finally seeing some support in that area from this government.

We don't know what the government's plan is, Mr. Speaker, because of course we were never provided with one. This morning the minister said that they are going to be working on it over the next little while but I would think, with an initiative like this, that maybe consultation would have happened in the rural communities, to find out from high school students, for example maybe, what their intentions are when they graduate, or from university students who are from rural communities. That's easy to find out what their expectations are when they finish their degree and maybe want to apply to med school next year or in the coming years.

We see that in the next year there will be five additional seats - five seats next year, Mr. Speaker - but if this government made this initiative in 1999, we'd have some maybe 50, if not 60 medical doctors trained today in this province who could be servicing Nova Scotians. We know that if they are from Nova Scotia, the majority of them will stay in Nova Scotia.

[Page 2825]

So here's a prime number of physicians if we would have seen this piece of legislation, if the government would have supported it, or an initiative like the minister announced this morning - we'd have some 50 to 60 physicians in our province, hopefully some practicing in rural communities. That's why I want to emphasize the fact that I don't know what the regulations or the guidelines will be with this new initiative from the government, but I hope that they address the need to ensure that rural communities are at the forefront of this and ensure that students from rural communities have access to training, so that they can go back and practice in the rural communities.

It's not only us who is taking about increasing the number of rural seats. There was recently a report in the Canadian Medical Journal in January about just that issue, Mr. Speaker, and it talked about what is needed to increase the number of physicians in rural communities. They say you need to increase the number of medical students from rural areas, which I talked about, more rural undergraduate medical education and rural-focussed, post-graduate training. It's so important that when we have a young student who is being trained, that they are exposed and that they are allowed to experience the rural medical portion of a physician's workload. That's so important.

It was important in my training as a paramedic, when we did our practicums, one practicum was in a rural setting and one was in an urban setting so that as a paramedic, you can see both settings and hopefully, and I think part of the reason why was that they knew there was a need for paramedics in rural communities and there is still a need. It's so important and they have been successful in encouraging rural students to enter the paramedical field. We are starting to see rural communities having a complement number of paramedics. The same thing has to happen with medical doctors. I will table this later for the House.

The other thing the article talked about was improving financial incentives for rural practice and we see this happening now currently in Digby, for example, where the municipality and the community themselves came up with an incentive package and are trying to entice physicians to go to that part of the province, Mr. Speaker.

What else they have mentioned, the other issues here in the article, Mr. Speaker, was around the community involvement and support which is so important to someone who is making a decision to practice in rural communities. They need to know that community supports them. They need to know that community has the capacity to hopefully allow that physician, that person, their family to live there and to work there, to enjoy the additional downtown and recreational facilities that anybody would expect anywhere and also stable rural group practices with appropriate facilities and health care teams like collaborative practices.

What doctors want, especially if you are going to try to get them to go to rural areas, is that they don't want to be on call 24 hours a day. They don't want to be on call seven days

[Page 2826]

a week. They want to ensure that they have time off, that they can have time with their families, that they can take some time off to maybe upgrade, go to a conference, get additional training. That's the important part, Mr. Speaker.

[3:00 p.m.]

When it comes to the seats - and the minister mentioned in his time here talking about Bill No. 119 - the fact that now we are going to see the infrastructure needs of our schools if we increase the number of seats there. I agree with him completely. We just finished the Health estimates over the last couple of days, Mr. Speaker, and I was surprised that during those estimates, that consistently I could look at a line under the Health budget and we realize and recognize that the government has underspent in certain areas, like Pharmacare - grants and contributions under the Pharmacare Program, $7 million there; $8 million for the grants and contributions under medical equipment; $13 million underspent in grants and contributions for medical infrastructure. So just in those three line items, there was $28 million. So why doesn't that minister take that $28 million and support our educational facilities in this province to ensure that we have enough seats to train the doctors?

I questioned the minister on this earlier, around the fact that we have students here in Nova Scotia who want to be trained in the medical field; they want to. It was in the paper just last week in Truro, Mr. Speaker, where there was a young Grade 12 student who was frustrated because she wanted to work as an ultrasound technologist here in the province. She applied to the program, a straight A student, but was told that she is on a wait list. What frustrated this young student was the fact that the CEO of the Colchester-East Hants Health Authority, Peter MacKinnon, was in the paper stating that they wanted to create a bursary to entice young students from that area to attend medical school, especially around ultrasound, and the other technologist courses. No wonder the students are leaving our province after they are being educated. They are not getting the help and the support they need here in this province.

So, for example, this young student, she doesn't know what she is going to do next year. She is going to go off and try something else in school and we have just lost an individual who is from a rural part of this province who wanted to be trained, who would meet the needs of the community, and I know that is happening throughout all the professions, including medical doctors, Mr. Speaker. We have so many young students here in the province who are smart, articulate, who would want to get the training to become medical doctors but just can't. There are not enough seats.

So the government needs to ensure that if there is a demand - here we have a government recently saying that we have too many teachers being trained so they are going to cut back the number of seats for teachers. Well, we don't have enough medical people being trained, so why aren't we increasing those seats? We need to increase them more than what the government is saying they are going to do over the next how many years, Mr.

[Page 2827]

Speaker. They have had nine years to try To address this and it's not just about medical doctors, it's about nurses, it's about lab technologists, it's about X-ray technologists, it's about nuclear medicine technologists.

In all the fields, Mr. Speaker, there are wait lists - wait lists for people who want to be trained in this province to work in the medical field. That blows me away that we can't capture those individuals and ensure that they stay here. If we train a Nova Scotian student here in the medical fields, they're more likely to stay here. The government has said this time and time again and the minister likes saying that.

So are we allowing them to decide on other careers when we have wait lists for enrolment in medical fields like radiology technology, 13 seats available, there are almost 40 people waiting; nuclear medicine, there are only eight seats available, 18 people waiting; and I mentioned ultrasound where there are five seats, but there are 40 people waiting, even though the young lady I mentioned said she was 90 on a wait list. That in my calculation is just unreal and I don't understand why we're not putting more emphasis on the fact that we need to train more health care providers and that the facilities that do that need the support from this government and they need it today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise in my place today to speak on Bill No. 119. I know that the minister has made a very significant announcement here today but I think it's still important to talk about what the announcement means and some of the background relating to why Bill No. 119 came before the Legislature.

There is no question that for the long term, this is one part of a strategy - an action plan, a solution-driven approach - to a problem that has plagued and continues to be of major concern to rural Nova Scotia and that is the availability of a family physician. We've heard, on many occasions in this House, of numbers in particular communities. It's not a 100 per cent problem across Nova Scotia but rather it's primarily a rural problem.

So I think this announcement to provide the places at the Dalhousie Medical School for 10 positions for family practice is a very, very significant step forward, we know long overdue. So I think these targeted positions are going to go indeed a long way to solving a problem which has been very, very difficult and one that many families have had to struggle with - not having a family doctor. I guess the real caveat here will be targeting the students and having them commit for a period of time to Nova Scotia and to communities without a family doctor.

Two examples where this has been very, very successful, of course, are the military community and also northern Ontario. Now the military community has had a longstanding history with the med students that they provide their tuition for. There is a requirement of a

[Page 2828]

number of years that they will commit to the military and not necessarily to an actual community from the outset - just where their need is across the country, if they have provided the financial assistance. We know that financial assistance has become a greater requirement. We've heard now of med students coming out and having a six-figure debt. So by targeting students That will be trained in Nova Scotia and then go to our communities or have them make a commitment to rural communities is very positive indeed.

Northern Ontario found that they were having extreme difficulty in recruiting doctors to small towns and mining communities around the northern part of the Canadian Shield, Northern Ontario. I found out about this through one of my former students at West Kings District High School who is currently a med student at Dalhousie. He gave me a paper that he had prepared because I had been asking him whether or not he was going to return to the community where he grew up. I said Nova Scotia and other parts of the country are having great difficulty in attracting doctors to rural communities because the competition for doctors is extreme right across the country and other jurisdictions as well.

In this paper, he showed how in Northern Ontario - after students had finished the BSc, their basic science program - they had applied to go to med school in southern parts of Ontario to the universities there. Upon acceptance they were approached with financial assistance and tuition support if they would return to northern communities for a period of time. So what they did was they targeted students who had come from the northern part of Ontario who are now in med school and who wanted financial support and then in return going back to those communities to work.

We know that the connection that is made with the announcement today and some of the future solution for medical doctors is a very significant one. The area that I'm most familiar about had a deficiency of family doctors now for some time. This is showing up very strongly at Soldiers Memorial Hospital's ER and also at the Berwick Medical Centre. Recently in talking to one of the emergency room doctors - she is a lady from Windsor who travels to Middleton for a 12-hour shift in the ER - she said her common experience now in seeing 40 to 50 patients on her shift is to have 40 to 50 per cent who do not have a family doctor. We know that this is a much more expensive way to treat patients and again it's a rotation of doctors who can be providing the medical assistance to these patients.

Another area that can hopefully be part of the new med students - I guess planning a little bit further out and long-range - is having some of these students also specialize along with family medicine in geriatric medicine. We now have a number of communities in the Valley that have 20 to 25 per cent of our population who are 65 and over. We know that population, that cohort, has special medical needs. Geriatric physicians can provide the specialty area that they are in need of especially around medications that they may have been accumulating over a period of time. This would be another area that could definitely help rural Nova Scotia and our small towns.

[Page 2829]

We've heard on many occasions in this House the member for Digby-Annapolis talk about the lack of physicians in his area. He, himself - he doesn't talk about this, I guess, personally, but I asked him today if I could use him as an example - he is on the long list of 3,000 or 4,000 or 5,000 patients in the Digby area who don't have a family doctor. The member for Digby-Annapolis would love to be going to a family doctor, but he is without one. So this bill and the initiative that we're seeing here in the House is a wonderful step forward.

It really is, I think, a great insurance program for rural Nova Scotia and there's no question that really it's a part of what we would call good public policy. I guess the Liberal goal here is to see the 10 become 15, become 20, and the next generation of doctors trained in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians, supported with their tuition, will go back to these rural communities. So that will go a long way, I think, in helping the recruitment of doctors, which has been very troublesome for our province.

[3:15 p.m.]

There are many things around recruitment that I still think we could be doing in this province. You know doctors who have graduated from Nova Scotia now have friends and associates who are practising in other places and who have probably perhaps tried on a number of communities - sometimes that personal invite can be a factor in recruitment.

Also of real interest is the number of Nova Scotia students currently at medical schools in the Caribbean, and two or three of these schools do have a very, very strong reputation. These students first have to get past their American medical exams and do intern work here in Canada, and then have to apply as well to the Canadian board to get their medical certification. We're talking, the member for Annapolis and I, and we identified between the two of us 10 people currently, 10 young students in the Caribbean who were unable to get into Dalhousie - in fact four of them were sons or daughters of doctors. Let's hope we can get them back here to Nova Scotia.

The minister announced a number of good initiatives that are currently in place: a remuneration program for rural doctors is an excellent piece, the alternate payment, the expansion of the collaborative practice - these are all very, very good initiatives. But I think there is none as strong as targeting Nova Scotia students by the announcement and by the intent that we had brought forward with Bill No. 119.

I would just like to end off by saying that I don't think there is any greater investment that the province can be making than in having family physicians for all Nova Scotians. We know the percentage is very, very good but we know there are some communities now whose quality - our citizens here in Nova Scotia - of life is impacted by not having a family physician. When we have areas such as the Digby area with 3,000 to 4,000 people who are not patients of family doctors, that is indeed very troublesome.

[Page 2830]

In my area the military has been so concerned that they are now building an off-base clinic. They will do their own recruiting and it's going to be not just good for the families of military personnel, but second in line is they are willing to take on retired military people in our community who do not have a family doctor. A family doctor can usually take around 2,000 to 2,500 patients and look after them well. They would even then extend to the third line, which would be people from the local community who don't have a family doctor. So that's another positive initiative.

As I started to say, the investment in family physicians, going to your family doctor who knows your history, who quickly identifies changes, whether they be small or large that are happening to your health, is one of the greatest preventive measures that we can often be given - advice that we can take with us as a patient, make the necessary changes, go to another consult, get the kind of test or exam that we need. So today's announcement is indeed a very positive one and I think will have long-range good impact on the health and well-being of Nova Scotians. With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate on Bill No. 119 has expired.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 2082.

Res. No. 2082, Prem. - Gas Pricing: Plan - Develop - notice given April 28, 2008 - (Mr. M. Samson)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today to speak on Resolution No. 2082. I'll read the resolution first:

"Whereas it has become increasingly evident that the Premier does not understand the problems that Nova Scotians face with skyrocketing gas prices; and

Whereas recently the Premier encouraged people to make use of a transit system or buy a fuel-efficient vehicle as a quick fix, not comprehending the fact that transit systems do not service many parts of this province, and not everyone can afford to buy a new fuel-efficient vehicle; and

[Page 2831]

Whereas an outstanding majority of comments on a ChronicleHerald story this weekend mirrored the thoughts of most Nova Scotians, informing him that maybe he should practice what he preaches and take the bus back to Mabou;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier become more in tune with the people of this province and develop a plan that helps all Nova Scotians battle the ever-rising price of gas."

Well, Mr. Speaker, how timely to speak on this resolution when one sees the continued high cost of gas here in Nova Scotia. This resolution has so many different aspects of it that one could talk about. I know that the story in The Herald says the Premier says take the bus. I know the Premier took exception to that and said, well, I didn't say take the bus, I just said you should use the bus more often. Well, in essence, he said take the bus. As we all know in so many of our ridings there is no bus system. If I'm going to have seniors in Richmond County wait by the side of the road for a bus to pick them up, they're going to be waiting there a long time. There is some hope coming for the residents of Richmond and the Strait area with the new Strait area transit system that's getting up and running, but again we have a long way to go.

Mr. Speaker, one of the issues which we have continually raised is the issue of gas regulation. Let me make something clear. Do we want to see a system that would assist rural gas dealers to be competitive and not squeezed out by large suppliers? There is no doubt. Does regulation work in its current form? I believe it doesn't. It's interesting to watch this government defend gas regulation and watch the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations defend it. We all know that prior to the 2006 election - and we can go through Hansard, we can go through the media - the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, the Minister of Economic Development and the member for Cumberland North are all on record saying how regulation is not the answer for Nova Scotians. So we all remember that. They started off opposed to regulation.

The NDP have always been in support of it, even though the member for Halifax Fairview would now have us believe that his Party is not married to gas regulation - they were the ones who initially proposed gas regulation. So now, once again, they wish to run away from it because it doesn't seem to be producing the results that they would like. No surprise.

Mr. Speaker, we have said all along that we need to try to find something to help our rural retailers, but at the same time putting in regulation has not worked. Has it worked in other provinces? No, it hasn't. So what were the three official things that gas regulation was going to do? Price stability; it was going to mean - what was the other thing - less closures; and I can't even remember the third. Nova Scotians always felt the third was going to be lower prices, but we all know that that hasn't been the case.

[Page 2832]

So price stability - the numbers, Mr. Speaker, speak for themselves. In 2002 there were 35 price changes in Nova Scotia throughout the year; in 2003, it was 60 times; in 2004, it was 50 times. The NDP and the government said that's too many changes - under the competitive market that's too much change, there's no stability. So we have regulation now that gives us a change almost every week. Well, there's a new price set every week - technically it could be the same price two weeks, but we have up to 52 price changes a year. So in 2004 when 50 times was too much, we have now put in a system that guarantees, for the most part, 52 changes a year. So it didn't do price stability.

Second of all, I know the member for Halifax Fairview said that the price is set and that's it - he should know that's not true. When the price is set, especially here in Halifax, there is a maximum amount and a minimum amount. What usually happens here in metro is that the first day it's announced, it's usually at midnight - Thursday night, or 12:00 a.m. Friday morning - and that day, here in metro, for the most part they go with that maximum price, and then by the end of the day, or the next day, they drop back down to the standard price. So that's not stability; it's not a set price because even that price is changing under regulation. So that hasn't worked.

The other thing we're being told is that it stopped the closure of rural gas stations. I only wish, Mr. Speaker, that it achieved that. I wish that I could stand in my place and say if there's one thing regulation has done, it has stopped the closure of rural gas stations across Nova Scotia. Unfortunately, the numbers from the minister's own department tell us that it is not true, and we knew that wasn't true because when we looked at P.E.I. it showed that under the competitive market Nova Scotia had lost the same percentage of gas stations to closure as what there was in P.E.I. under a regulated market. So we already knew from P.E.I. that regulation does not stop gas station closure, especially in rural communities.

So, Mr. Speaker, what do the numbers tell us? As of June 1, 2007, the difference from October, 2006, there were 16 closures in Nova Scotia and there were ten openings - that was for year one. Now, when we look from June 1, 2007, to April 1, 2008, we see 17 closed - 17 gas stations under regulation have now closed in our province and a mere nine have opened. So it has failed. You know the member for Halifax Fairview can say the review of six months was too early. It's not too early, the proof is there that it's not working because rural gas stations are closing because of rural depopulation, and regulation will do absolutely nothing to keep people in Richmond County, to keep people in Yarmouth, to keep people in Sydney, or to keep people anywhere else around rural Nova Scotia. For the most part, we know metro is growing, so it's not that much of an issue here in metro but it's certainly an issue back home.

The last census figures, when you look at the population decline in areas such as Richmond, in Inverness, in Guysborough and Victoria Counties, we've got a serious problem. Gas stations are closing because the people are gone, and regulation does absolutely nothing for it. Regulation is an excuse for us not to look at rural depopulation, it's a way for

[Page 2833]

us to say no, no, it's because of big oil companies that these gas stations are closing and that's why we need to put in regulation to protect them - pay no attention to the fact that Nova Scotians are leaving rural Nova Scotia in droves.

Mr. Speaker, what we should be debating here today is how can we keep our communities vibrant, how can we keep them stable, and that is what's going to be of real assistance to our rural gas dealers. There's no doubt, again as I said, that we'd all love to see our rural gas stations stay open. I'd love to see all of my convenience stores in Richmond County stay open. I'd love to see all of my convenience stores in Richmond County stay open and all of the small businesses that exist in my riding open. But, for a government that has said it wants to cut red tape - they put in a system of gas regulation which is all about more red tape. Again, that flies into what the government has been saying. That is why we have called upon the government to reduce the motive fuel tax. They've done it in P.E.I. and in New Brunswick and it hasn't been the end of the world.

The member for Halifax Fairview, when he spoke last week, said how irresponsible of the Liberals to suggest you can cut the motive fuel tax and not say where you're going to find the money. Yet this is the Party that had the issue a few years ago of nursing homes no longer charging people from their assets, which cost millions of dollars out of the provincial treasury - they never indicated where that money would come from. This is the Party that also wanted an 8 per cent cut in home heating oil and home heating costs - $75 million or more - but never said where that money should come from; yet, they throw the criticism at us. I think it's a hollow argument and I think that speaks for itself and I think members, deep down, know that it doesn't hold much weight to make that argument.

Nova Scotians are looking for a break. I'm pleased that our Leader in our Party has been trying to find ways of making us more competitive. We cannot continue as a province with NSBI or Economic Development trying to bring companies here to Nova Scotia when New Brunswick, right across the border, has seen a difference in gas prices of 9 to 10 cents. That's not sustainable. Who is going to come to Nova Scotia when they know they can save that much more money if they locate in New Brunswick if their business requires they do a significant amount of travelling at all.

Again, we have to do something as a province to provide and make it affordable for Nova Scotians to be able to continue to drive. It's not an option, it's not a luxury, in many areas of this province it's a necessity. They need government action and we're looking for that and I would hope all members would support that effort. Thank you.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 2834]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to rise today and talk for a few minutes about rising energy prices.

Before I begin with the comments I prepared, just a couple of issues that the honourable member mentioned about gas regulation. It's a fact - prior to regulation, we were losing about three rural gas stations a month. Since regulation, we're losing about one a month. It is a noticeable difference. (Interruption) You can take it any way you want, but the rate of closures has slowed down. I appreciate, if there's nobody there to buy the gas, the station is not going to stay open. The issue with gas regulation in Nova Scotia was, in many ways, to protect the margin for rural retailers who were being squeezed and that has been done.

It was also to prevent the number of price changes that were happening - sometimes once or twice a day - and that has been done. If you remember when we began, when we brought in gas regulation, we were changing the prices every two weeks. If they needed to be changed - there is an interrupter clause there. You also remember that after we had been in regulation only about six months, at the urging of the Liberal caucus, we had an external review done. The external review said it was really too early to do the review, but they did it anyway. One of the things they did recommend is that the system of regulation go to a weekly price setting so we accepted the advice of Gardner Pinfold and we did that.

I want to comment - he talked about Prince Edward Island being regulated, but they did cut their motive fuel taxes. I just want to draw to the attention of the House that my understanding is that the budget that was tabled by the Minister of Finance in Prince Edward Island this year had a $35 million deficit.

If you look at the issue of New Brunswick, it is kind of a matter of choices. In Nova Scotia, one of the things we opted for was to try and help people with home heat and I think the programs we have put in place have been good ones. On the issue of gasoline, there is no question. I would love to be able to stand up here and say I am going to take the tax off gasoline but the fact is, you have to make choices. The amount of money, people stand up on the opposite side of the House and rail on us about the roads and to be quite frank, I mean, despite my colleague who says - I do know that the roads in this province, some of them need some work, not very many, but some do, particularly ones . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Pictou County.

MR. MUIR: Some do. Well, there are one or two over in Pictou West, I know, that could stand a little bit of work but Richmond County, I thought they were all okay. The fact is that we didn't remove the tax. We made the choice to keep the tax and put more money into the roads.

[Page 2835]

The second thing, which the honourable member talked about - trade differences and companies relocating in Nova Scotia - it doesn't come up on the floor of the House but the price of diesel is also regulated in Nova Scotia and these other provinces. If you want to go back, and I will challenge you to bring it to the floor of this House to see the difference in diesel prices between Nova Scotia and the other three Atlantic Provinces - we have had a 5, 6, 7, 8 cent advantage over them for the best part of two years. So the diesel in Nova Scotia, which is the commercial thing, under our system has been noticeably different than it was in the other three provinces.

Now you don't talk about that because I guess you don't drive a diesel but I can tell you that my wife has a diesel automobile and she does remind me about the price of diesel going up too. Anyway, there are certain things - what I am saying is that he is only talking about half the story.

Now I am going to get into my text. (Interruption) Well, I could do that but it's a subject of another time.

Rising energy costs, Mr. Speaker - whether it is electricity, propane, gasoline or diesel - is one of the great challenges facing North America. The industrialized nations across the globe are coming to grips with the new energy reality. To be quite frank, the days of cheap energy are gone. They are gone whether we like it or not, they are gone. This isn't something that is happening only in Canada and Nova Scotia. It's affecting everybody no matter where they live.

For example, I was talking to the member for Digby-Annapolis today and I asked him about the fishing down in the Digby area. He said, well the fishermen are being challenged now by the increase in fuel prices. I talked with fishermen on the North Shore, they are being challenged. Everybody is being challenged by the increase in fuel prices but we aren't increasing the fuel prices here in Nova Scotia. I mean the fuel market is determined in New York and, unfortunately, we can't influence that. It's a world market and the fact of the matter is that we have China and India being industrialized and they want the oil.

I can give you an example, I guess. I don't how it works out with the commodity markets but somebody told me that yesterday on eBay there was a pair of tickets to the Canada-U.S. hockey game for $600. They went on eBay for $600 but somebody wanted them real badly so they came along and they offered $700. That is one of the things that is happening to the world petroleum market, the futures - people are coming and they are saying, it may be worth only x but country y is willing to pay z for it and therefore I am going to bid for this because I can sell it to them. It's a market-driven thing.

AN HON. MEMBER: If you went to the game, how much would you pay for gas to get there?

[Page 2836]

MR. MUIR: Look, I want to tell you, I will be quite frank - I was in here yesterday and I really shouldn't say this, inasmuch as I am on camera, but I might have enjoyed the game a little bit more than being in here yesterday. Tell me it's not so.

AN HON. MEMBER: You could have walked up the hill.

MR. MUIR: Anyway, I didn't. I did see the last couple of minutes of it and I was very delighted and was surprised. We should do a resolution in the House congratulating Canada for beating the U.S. (Applause) I can honestly say, Mr. Speaker, I have seen three really exciting sporting events in my life and I can remember it was about four or five years ago the World Junior Hockey Championships, which were held here in Halifax, and Canada and U.S. played on New Year's Eve and the Premier, the Minister of Economic Development and myself were privileged to be there for that and I don't think I've ever seen a building that alive in an athletic arena in my life. So I expect that if yesterday was like that, we all missed something.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, since World War II, North America - primarily the United States - has been the largest consumer of and customer for energy to support its economy. In the past, the advantage of being the bigger consumer of oil was the ability to help to control price. Therefore, it was cheap energy that spurred the tremendous economic expansion of North America.

However, Mr. Speaker, the world has changed significantly since the 1950s, and energy markets and the demand for energy has changed dramatically in the past 25 years. I will reiterate what I said earlier, North America now competes with the most populated country in the world, China, for its oil and other petroleum products. In addition, the Russian economy is opening up; India is experiencing a boom in its economy and all of these nations now compete with North America to buy energy in all of its forms, but especially oil and gas. This is the driving force behind the increasing global demand and the rising cost of energy. No individual country, be it the United States which has the most powerful economy or China which has the largest population, is able to control or prevent the rising cost of oil and gas.

Mr. Speaker, we recognize and appreciate the impact that rising energy costs are having on the day-to-day lives of Nova Scotia. However, this is the new reality of the times in which we live and it requires all of us to think about the choices that we make. In the budget, Mr. Speaker, we introduced a . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order please, order. That concludes the member's time allowed. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 2837]

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd like to thank the member for Richmond for bringing this resolution forward because, of course let me say right off the top that we agree with it because we, too, believe that the Premier is out of touch with the needs of the people of Nova Scotia.

Now the regrettable incident with the helicopter, Mr. Speaker, some would say that's a small thing but I think it - was it the New Glasgow Evening News or was it the Pictou paper, that had a very good editorial on this. It was about the symbolism of it really, was the issue. When ordinary Nova Scotians have a jammed schedule, sometimes they have to just make a choice, sometimes they have to say no. But when our Premier has a jammed schedule, he just hops in a helicopter which is funded by the taxpayers.

I think what really got to people was the symbolism of it all, not to mention the fact that it wasn't just the Premier. I think people are forgetting that it wasn't just the Premier and the Cabinet who, in the last year, took the Department of Natural Resources' helicopter. One Cabinet Minister, as I recall, took it from Point Pleasant Park in Halifax up to his constituency. I haven't heard the reason for that but I'm sure it was a good one. Another minister took it from Halifax way down to the southern end of the province, to his constituency. I haven't heard the reason for that one but I'm sure it was a good one. So it's not just the Premier who was doing it.

Then there was this misquotation, this widely spread misquotation about taking the bus. Now I readily agree the Premier didn't say that. I heard the words he actually used and I believe I'm right in saying that he said that Nova Scotians should take advantage of public transit, or words very similar to that. He took exception to that being paraphrased as "take the bus."

The resolution, on its own terms, we can agree with it - the difficulty we have, Mr. Speaker, is where the Liberal Party goes with this. They go to two places - one is that regulation is bad and must be repealed and then they go to cutting gas taxes.

Now, let's talk, first of all, about regulation. When the government is on the topic of regulation, they blame regulation for the price of gasoline. Of course, Mr. Speaker, regulation is not responsible for the price of gas; far from it. Despite what the member for Richmond says, the system of regulation has more or less achieved its objectives. The only way that the member for Richmond is able to paint the system as not having achieved its objective is by misquoting other people, including me, as he did in his speech. So he sets up something I never said and then says, well, that's wrong. He also selectively misquotes the Gardner Pinfold report because, for example, one of the things that report says is that, undoubtedly, regulation has had a positive effect on the closure of rural gas stations, but the Liberals choose to leave that out.

[3:45 p.m.]

[Page 2838]

Mr. Speaker, in a way, it doesn't really matter what we say because we're not the only ones who are just fed up with the Liberal position on this. I have here a very recent article from the Amherst Daily News, which I want to table for the benefit of the Liberal Party. I'm just going to read a couple of paragraphs from it first. It says, "The secretary treasurer of the Nova Scotia Independent Gas Retailers Association is challenging Liberal Leader Stephen McNeil to debate the merits of gas price regulation. 'I would challenge Mr. McNeil to a debate any time, anywhere, about gas regulation.' Pettigrew said Sunday. 'We have among the lowest gas prices in Canada before taxes. It's not because of regulation that prices are high.'"

I would invite the Leader of the Liberal Party, if he truly believes his position, to accept this challenge to debate the secretary treasurer of the Nova Scotia Independent Gas Retailers Association in public, on the record, about whether high gas prices are caused by gas regulation or not. I challenge that Leader to take up this challenge to a debate.

Now, of course, what the retail gasoline dealers want everybody to know - and here's another document that I'll table - is that in fact, under regulation, on-average prices in Nova Scotia have been consistently lower than the rest of Canada, whereas before regulation they were consistently higher. This is the kind of data that the Liberal Party doesn't want to hear. They only want to cite material that supports their already stated position, a position they took before regulation was put in place. So they have a political stake now in trying to persuade people that they were right regardless of what the data actually says. So I will table that for the benefit of the Liberal Party, and this article from the Amherst Daily News, as well.

Mr. Speaker, retail gas dealers data shows that, as of yesterday, the before-tax price in Halifax was 88.3 cents per litre, in Moncton it was 90.7 cents per litre, the national average was 92.0 cents per litre and in Prince Edward Island it was 93.2 cents per litre. So Nova Scotia's price is lower than the price in the rest of Canada, lower than Prince Edward Island, lower than New Brunswick. It can't be the fault of regulation, and it just isn't.

So let's turn then, Mr. Speaker, to this question of the gas tax, because the Liberals, once they leave aside their arguments about regulation, then turn to the gas tax and say they would cut the gas tax. In fact, their cousins in New Brunswick did exactly that.

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to table this article from the CBC News Web site from October 3rd, 2006: "New Brunswick Liberals cut gas tax on first day in power." Good for them, they promised it during the election campaign - their first day in office, they cut the gas tax by 3.8 cents per litre. But here is the part that the Nova Scotia Liberals always leave out - that is, from the same Web site, March 13th, 2007: "N.B. Budget brings tax hikes." The Budget that was delivered only a few months after the drop in the gas taxes raised New Brunswick taxes by more than $100 million. It also increased the province's debt by $356 million. Personal income taxes went up $50 million, which all by itself dwarfed the impact of the cut in gas

[Page 2839]

taxes and as if that weren't enough, the New Brunswick Liberals raised corporate and small business taxes by another $52 million.

Mr. Speaker, I'll table that for the benefit of the Liberals because, as I was saying just the other day and have time enough to repeat today, there are a few immutable laws of public finance. If you're going to blow a hole in your revenues, you've got to make it up somehow. You have to either run a deficit, or find a new revenue source, or cut services. There are no other choices, those are your choices, and we know very clearly what choice the New Brunswick Liberal Party made. They cut gas taxes and then within months turned around and raised everybody's taxes across the board by over $100 million because they had to make up for the revenue shortfall.

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, they plunged New Brunswick deeper into debt, just like the Prince Edward Island Liberals who have just finished delivering a deficit budget, a deficit budget from the Prince Edward Island Liberals. So now we know how Liberal math works. They say they would cut the gas tax, but what they don't say is which ones are going to be. Are they going to run us into deficit? Are they going to raise revenue somewhere else or are they going to cut services? I look forward, during the next 10 minutes, to hearing the Liberal answer to that question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great enthusiasm to my honourable colleague from the NDP as he went on about all the examples of increased taxes in other provinces and all the other things. At the time when this regulation was put in place- we've got numbers which I don't have with me today, we'll table them on another day - that when you track the cost of gasoline between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, gasoline prices are always higher in Nova Scotia, so you can go on with all the rhetoric you want and whatever you want to say, but the facts are the facts and those are the facts.

When you talk about these things - the NDP must be nervous about us now because they're starting to attack us. Once someone starts to attack you, you understand that they're worried and they should be worried. They absolutely should be worried. Here's the Party that will spend us to death, that will unionize everything in this country, and then come back and tax us to death. You've only got to look in B.C., Ontario, and every other place that the NDP Government has been in place and see what happened to most all of those governments that were NDP. The people threw them out after one term. Unfortunately, in the meantime, it had an extremely negative impact to those provinces' economies. The economy suffered and suffered and suffered.

Now, I don't agree with what the Tories do most of the time, needless to say, but at least they have some things that they do on a regular basis that I'll give them credit for. I'm afraid, you know - you hear the stories about the NDP, all these wonderful things they're

[Page 2840]

going to do, and one of the ministers said today in government, he said, you know, it's always yes. Anything you want done, the NDP will do it. It doesn't matter what it is, you know, if you want some more people hired to do this or do this, and you want someone else to do this and someone else to do this, well, they never talk about taxes going up, but the taxes are going up.

With them, we've got an example, the member who was just speaking indicated that the cure to fixing the tire problem in Nova Scotia recycling was to add cost to taxes, charge people more for the collection of tires. Do you know what? That's where these guys are coming from - more taxes, more taxes, more taxes. So they talk about a New Brunswick Government, what they would do, they didn't ask us what we will do. There's a big difference. Anyway, with that, I would like to turn the rest of my time over to an honourable colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise with regard to the discussion at hand. Prior to going into the specifics of the motion, I do note that in the course of the debate, the honourable member for Halifax Fairview had his own observations around what he deemed to be excessive or unfair and his interpretation of words of other members of the House. Specifically, to the Premier's response, which was dealing with a very serious matter and how to look at alternative forms of transportation that this government has invested in and previously had.

I don't think, Mr. Speaker, when Cape Breton University was looking at providing greater accessibility for students and also dealing with the desire to reduce greenhouse gases and looking to the province for support to buy two transport buses for that community, be a negative investment by this government. This government has two vehicles with Cape Breton University logos proudly displayed on them in the transit system that are there to help that university but also provide greater accessibility. Also to recognize that, yes, energy pressures are upon us and government has been dealing responsibly in that and it means about finding the appropriate balance.

Mr. Speaker, not only that, working with the university to have appropriate transit transfer station in place. All of those are constructive things. When I look at the federal-provincial initiatives to provide resources to provinces - it was too bad, when they were doing it back in the Paul Martin days, I do believe, when they were trying to deal with it and look at the transit dollars and how it was transferred- unfortunately when the NDP were looking to provide support to that federal government, they also, at the same time, provided a caveat in that it limits the ability to support the municipality out of the fund that is for Nova Scotia for those dollars. I will happy to get further details of the result of that discussion.

[Page 2841]

So, again, some of their cousins have to look at the implication on non-metropolitan but urban areas at the same time and what that results in. What I am coming to, Mr. Speaker, is not everything is based on one perspective of Nova Scotia. When it comes to trying to administer and operate a government to deal with the economy and the diversity of that but also the diversity of our constituencies, I do take exception for the member for Halifax Fairview to talk and try to make some illusion of irresponsibility and excessive use. I think before he talked about jet fuel being used for a helicopter and the like by the Premier.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, as a member of this government, I, indeed, have traveled for the business of the people of this province, to rural areas and yes, I have done it on a helicopter. I have done it with a chartered aircraft to do business, as a member of this government. If we are going to have a debate, let's debate where we are. It is about the choices. If we want to reduce fees or taxes in one area and we know that we have a legislative responsibility,to go against immediately, all the benefit from that to our roads and our infrastructure associated with that, then there are choices that are to be made.

What they are not talking about and the honourable member didn't say is what he would cut to give, and that is the thing that we have to deal with in being responsible, what are we going to cut? But then to try to use, which I consider far-fetched, far-fetched scenarios with regard to excessive uses and almost to suggest abuses of a means of transportation. Well, I can tell you that it is an affront if he stands and says that's the NDP's view, then it is very much against Cape Breton, against rural Nova Scotia.

I do believe, Mr. Speaker, and I know, I think of when we, as members of this House, I think of when we had the tar ponds announcement, I know that when we travelled down to that announcement, the most expeditious way, when the House was in session to go there, we travelled with a chartered aircraft down there and we travelled back. On that plane were representatives of the Progressive Conservative Party, of the Liberal Party and the New Democratic Party.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Noooo. Don't say it's so.

AN HON. MEMBER: Cecil, did he write you a cheque for the gas?

MR. CLARKE: The point is, Mr. Speaker, I never looked at that to be excessive or inappropriate at all. I don't believe that if his own Leader deems, as the Leader of the Official Opposition, that he wants to take a charter as the Leader of the Official Opposition, or any other Leader, if they want to be able to travel to do the business of doing their duties and obligation, if that means that they have to charter to do that, I'm not sitting here counting the litres of jet fuel going into a plane that his own Leader would use. I don't think that's constructive. I don't think it's constructive to talk about the fact that when we have a Premier of the Province of Nova Scotia, who is proudly from a rural region of this province

[Page 2842]

(Applause) - if you're from a rural region of this province, Mr. Speaker, you know, you know in your conscience of the challenges and the restrictions.

It is easy for someone to say well, you have to make choices and say no. So do you make choices to say no to your constituents, that you should not be in your constituency and represent them and do business for them, such as the Cape Breton Business Partnership, Mr. Speaker? Is it right to say no to your obligations in the capital district, the capital region being the HRM, which we're very proud of? A beacon, as we celebrate, was indicated the seat of representative government in this country. I don't look at it as a negative, it is a reality. If we're going to have a debate, then maybe we should talk about the reality and the choices that have to be made to do that. When we talk about gas regulation, Mr. Speaker, it's about pacing and understanding, indeed where the measures are in place so Nova Scotians can appropriately deal with their affairs, doing it in a responsible manner, not having the day-to-day spikes that people were concerned about.

If we're going to sit in the House and start attacking what is legitimate affairs in business and one debate and go into another, then I think it's appropriate that we respond accordingly. What I can say is that government has, and will continue to adhere to, is a responsible, balanced approach, a reasonable and reasoned one that we'll stand accountable for and go to the people with any day, Mr. Speaker.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for debate on Resolution No. 2082 has now expired. The Chair now recognizes the honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the Opposition Liberal Party business for today and I'll turn it back to the Government House Leader.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

[Page 2843]

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. TREVOR ZINCK: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. It gives me great pleasure to again have a few moments to talk about issues and goings-on in my community, the constituency I represent, Dartmouth North. Just the other day, I was in my office and had the opportunity to spend some time going over some cases with my constituency assistant. Remarkably, Mr. Speaker, both of us concurred how well connected the people are in the community of Dartmouth North. Considering that more than 60 per cent of the community resides in apartment buildings, where we know that many people transition in and transition out of our community, it's amazing to find out that when you walk down the street, you actually know an individual, you can acknowledge them and say hello. That there is a powerful thing of connection in our community.

Mr. Speaker, we've witnessed that recently in the consultations that the Department of Education has put on, the Imagine Our School process. Again, we've seen the issue of school closures come up and a community that came together, that put on several presentations to the school board, to explain and to have their stories told as to how important the schools were in our community. It was an excellent, excellent opportunity for me, as an elected official, to consult with those constituents and to really see how vibrant and connected the community is.

Mr. Speaker, right now we have the great pleasure, as a community, to be partnered with the United Way program, a program that is centered around action for neighbourhood change. In years past, the constituency of Halifax Atlantic had benefitted from this program and now Dartmouth North is going through those same motions.

Tomorrow evening I'm hoping to have the opportunity to attend the first public consultation, to hear and have the opportunity to address some of the constituents on issues of concern for them and the possible solutions that we can take as a community. I want to thank the United Way for giving us that opportunity to help us become closer connected.

The big thing with this program is the fact that we want to engage people in our community, we want to get to know our neighbours. It's very important in a community that only has 30 per cent of individuals who actually own homes, and I say that because as a former apartment renter it was difficult to get to know your neighbour. Chances are you might have known the person outside your doorway or you might have met an individual in the laundry room, but in a lot of these buildings there are many tenants that you don't get to see, and the benefits of having this program is that we do. We want to engage the

[Page 2844]

community, we want to get people and allow them an opportunity to get to know one another, to have a better understanding.

Currently, going back to the Imagine Our Schools process I know I'm looking forward to having an opportunity with the Minister of Education to discuss some of the issues that we currently see in our school system on the Dartmouth side - the Dartmouth family of schools in particular. I know the minister has toured Dartmouth High on a number of occasions, and she is well aware of the issues there, the battles that the community has had over the years to have renovations but in all truth, we have an issue with a number of schools in the community of Dartmouth North. We recognize that we have some aging facilities but still the teachers, the resource people, the community outreach people who work out of those schools, some guidance counsellors at the elementary school age - I know the minister had made mention of that in her opening - hopefully with their strength and the current government's support we can refurbish those schools and bring them up to par.

Mr. Speaker, the community of Dartmouth North is growing; it's absolutely amazing. I can honestly say that a lot of the infrastructure that the community would have benefited from if we would have been successful if the Commonwealth Games bid - this community would have blossomed. However we're not going to stand back, we're not going to let that block the road for us to completely develop our community. We have a development right now taking place off of Windmill Road, up on Trinity and Fernhill, that will see 194 townhouses. I am encouraged that we will have families coming into our community. We will have families that have ownership in our communities, not just renting apartments. That will benefit, and hopefully the Minister of Education will be well aware that we will need additional resources in our schools.

Along with that development, there are four condominiums being developed as well. That initially was a real issue. I know it's been an issue for our community in years past and continues to be. However, in meeting with the developer, he has decided to take two of those condominiums and design them for assisted living for seniors. So with that development I'm even more encouraged now, because we do have a shortage of affordable housing for seniors in our community.

Mr. Speaker, we had an opportunity several months ago to have the Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal over to address the Greater Burnside Business Association. The minister came over to talk to us about an issue that's been pressing the industrial park for a number of years and that issue was the Burnside expressway. With the Premier's announcement in the Throne Speech back in the Fall, we were very encouraged to have it made mention that the expressway was definitely going forward. I know that the minister took the opportunity to come over - he's been over on a number of occasions in Dartmouth North on issues with me and I appreciate him taking the time to come over and to address some of the business owners in the Burnside Business Association. That is an important piece as we know to the success of the Gateway. The communities, transportation,

[Page 2845]

traffic, all of those issues - that one piece, if we can put that in place over the next number of years it will be very crucial to us.

Burnside has also seen some growth in the Dartmouth Crossing area. Dartmouth Crossing, I know, was initially a concern for a lot of people, a lot of businesses, and how it was going to affect their individual businesses. It's become a retail centre and it's thriving. We have a number of businesses, and the ins and outs, the actual traffic flow, in Burnside is being remedied by some successful decisions made by the municipality. It's not a juggernaut like going into Bayers Lake park. That was very important for those businesses.

Development. We talk about development, affordable housing. We have a huge opportunity and, as I said, with the Commonwealth Games bid, when we lost that, the community was very disappointed because we weren't going to receive that infrastructure. But we're not going to stop. Shannon Park, I'm hoping to hear by the end of this month, Mr. Speaker, that Canada Lands will actually obtain that land from National Defence and we can go out to the public. I'm very encouraged. I have met with Canada Lands on a number of occasions and they have reassured me that parcel of land will be developed in the best interests of the community.

That is very important because the way development takes place now is the developer will go out and actually work with the planning department and they will make sure that everything is coordinated and fits with the MPS of the day. That being said, when it actually comes to the public, a decision is made, it's already made in the public's eye. We have our five minutes that we can express our concerns about the development but we know the developer has been working.

I am encouraged with my talks with Canada Lands because they have said to the community, they want to hear how the community wants Shannon Park developed. That's very important and we will draft up a list of 10 commandments and then we'll go to the developers and the developers will have to develop something that the community wants. Mr. Speaker, I have said on a number of occasions that Shannon Park, I believe, could be the jewel of this city if we develop right, if we have a portion of it affordable.

Dartmouth North, as we know, is not without its troubles. In 2006, the Premier came to our community, on Ernest Avenue, and made an announcement about 250 police officers. I raised the question, my first question in the House, Mr. Speaker, was to the Justice Minister as to how many officers we are going to see in the community of Dartmouth North. I know it's a process, I know there are finances that are tagged along with that. We heard today in the House that the Premier had stated that, as of today, there are 150 officers on the street. That's part of the plan.

Mr. Speaker, we still have an issue with crime, violent crime. Just the other day we had some shootings up on Brule Street and when I speak with the local community constable,

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there is a frustration that they don't have enough resources to deal with the issue. We have inmates housed in Burnside and we know that there are a number of high-risk inmates who are going to come back out and come into our communities. I want to encourage the Premier to spread some of those resources and bring them back across to the very point where he did make that announcement in the community of Dartmouth North. It's very important because the Pinecrest Drive and Brule Street area is an area that is experiencing tremendous amounts of poverty and crime, drugs, street crime, gun violence. It's a difficult area. So I want to encourage the Premier on that.

Mr. Speaker, the housing situation in Dartmouth North, as I stated, there is a large portion of our community that doesn't have representation or home ownership. That's key in connecting with your community and feeling obligated to become a part of your community. Currently right now we have one landlord from Toronto, TransGlobe, that has pretty much dominated the market. Yes, they have come in, they have refurbished some of the buildings, they have done some exterior work and they are trying to bring up the standard of housing, but along with this they have also brought up the rents.

To be honest with you, the individuals who reside in Dartmouth North, the other side of Albro Lake Road, the non-homeowners, are the ones who, unfortunately, are living in poverty and just can't afford that. Mr. Speaker, you have heard me mention before in the House that a number of individuals who, unfortunately, have to seek assistance from the government through the Department of Community Services, they unfortunately don't have adequate shelter allowances. So when the landlord comes in, it doesn't really matter that the outside of the building is getting fixed up when they know that their rent is going to increase. So we need to take advantage of any potential development that we have in Dartmouth North to ensure that the community does benefit from a portion of it being affordable.

I know there are individuals out there who will say we should open Shannon Park up right now for housing. Well, for one, Mr. Speaker, we can't do that because those buildings should actually be condemned. There hasn't been heat on in a number of years and I would not want to see a group of individuals who are marginalized put down in one area, because it stigmatizes the community.

That leads me to my other frustration currently. We've seen the regional municipality come up with their 25-year plan. I participated in several of the focus groups before I entered into the political arena with great interest in what's going to actually happen to Dartmouth North. One of the frustrations right now - I know in Halifax Needham they're experiencing the same thing in and around the Uniacke Square area - we are two communities that are at risk of gentrification. The piece of the puzzle with the 25-year plan, the next step for HRM Council is to actually go out and engage communities.

It's a community visioning process and they've done this in Fall River, in Bedford, Musquodoboit - the frustration though with my community, I know several of the people in

[Page 2847]

Halifax Needham who I met with two weeks ago on housing issues, is the fact that these are two communities that are at high risk of gentrification. These are two communities that should automatically have the opportunity first to have that community visioning process put in place.

In a community that we are well aware, the planning department is well aware that it was planned wrong - Dartmouth North was not planned properly. It's not a healthy community. We should have been given that opportunity and that frustration is there.

Again, I want to end by saying that I've enjoyed two years representing this community. It's amazing how connected we are, as I said, with so many people transitioning in and transitioning out, it's amazing that we have a connection. That I can walk down the street and I can know somebody on the street and say hello, I take great comfort in that. If somebody walks into my office, my constituency assistant or myself, we know who they are, we know their family background. There are people that have lived in this community, have thrived in this community for 40, 50 years. I take great comfort in that.

[4:15 p.m.]

I know that the United Way has come to us because they realize we have organizations in place, we have community leaders in place that are willing to take on that challenge and get Dartmouth North on to that next step. If we can get all the players, the different levels of government to come over and address some of the issues we have, I know we will be successful. I'm confident that I will continue to represent this community and I enjoy seeing individuals understand and take on a new challenge of responsibility, engaging their community and actually having hope.

I think that's been the piece that's been missing in Dartmouth North, hope. With that, I'll take my seat and continue to represent this community.

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand here in my place today and have 15 minutes to speak on what issue I'd like to speak on. Well, I want to keep speaking on the price of fuel, the price of energy. I believe that's a very, very important issue, and I'm going to give you some examples.

There's been a lot of talk about our cars and our consumers being in hard shape to buy fuel for the cars. There's not been very much talk about our industries of Nova Scotia and the problems they're having. Today in debate over fuel prices and regulations, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations spoke about something I spoke to him earlier about - problems with the scallop industry in Digby, the fishing industry. I don't like predicting catastrophes because sometimes if you predict a catastrophe you have to live

[Page 2848]

through it twice. But I'm telling you there are going to be problems, there are problems right now in this province.

I want to go to the scallop fleet in Digby. This scallop fleet is trying to earn a living by putting fuel aboard their boat, which is over $1 a litre - right now, $1.10 a litre or whatever it is. These boats are going out fishing, one boat last week - I'll use one boat for an example - he went fishing last week for four days, fished night and day, with a crew of three men aboard it. They caught over $6,000 worth of scallops. They came in to settle up the end of that week after putting 98 hours in, or 96 hours, whatever it was, the four full days, 50 per cent of that's taken for the boat. That's the upkeep of the boat, that's the way it has always been with the scallop fleet. The other 50 per cent goes to the crew members, and they have to pay for their fuel and they have to pay for their groceries to keep them fed out there for the four-day trip. After they paid their fuel bill of $2,600 for four days fishing, each crew member had $90 after fishing for nearly 100 hours that week.

Well, Mr. Speaker, the scallop fleet is slowly piling up in Digby. Every week there's another one tied to the wharf, and the crews and the captains are headed West. That's kind of ironic, too, because as the people head West working the oil fields, the higher the price goes again, because it's more money for more people, creating more demand on the money from the oil. So that's kind of a Catch-22 situation, I guess.

Then you have the groundfish fleet, the groundfish draggers that are debating down there probably this afternoon, should I go out and try to catch my quota of fish - they're on a quota - should I go out to try to catch that quota of fish, or should I wait to make sure if I can get that or not? Because to fuel those boats up, the fish draggers, you're talking $5,000 to $6,000, and they may be able to go out to get $10,000 or $11,000 worth of fish - in the same situation as the scallop boats.

You have the lobster fleet. Right now, in South West Nova, that lobster fleet should be fishing every day. Once May comes in, they fish every day. That fleet now has cut back to every other day, which is cutting the catch down because they're trying to do it to save fuel. They've laid one of their people off aboard that boat. That's what's going on in the fishing fleet here. It's going downhill. Nobody is saying a word about it. I hear it all the time down there, why don't you say something about this, what can we do, what are we going to do? Good question. What are we going to do?

You have the same thing in the trucking industry. We have truckers down there. I know one fellow who has three trucks and is pulling one off the road, he is going to try it with two. I don't know what they're going to do. Their fuel bill has gone from $20,000 per year to $40,000 on the average. This morning you hear about fuel going up, maybe going to be $200 a barrel in the next year and a half, maybe less. What's going to take place then? I don't know. I'm just asking these questions. I'm not sure, but I want to get to something in the end of this that maybe everybody should have a heads-up.

[Page 2849]

In the papers this past week, we're hauling product around in these trucks that is costing more to deliver than what the product is worth. A loaf of bread now costs you more to get it to your home for the price of energy than it does to make the loaf of bread. There's something wrong with that one, that's for sure. Then it is going to double again in the next year. People on fixed incomes can't pay their grocery bills now, companies that can't charge the consumer any more because the money isn't there to charge. Somewhere, Mr. Speaker, there's a breaking point. There has to be a breaking point to this somewhere. I'm not sure where. I'm hoping that somebody can come up with some answers.

I want to touch on the farmers too. Farmers are another high volume fuel user. They're running trucks, they're running tractors, they're running machinery to get the fields planted so they can grow food for us to eat, and they're going to be in trouble. They're in trouble now, some of them. Some of the boats, too, are in trouble because the fuel companies, the local fuel companies are afraid now to go down and fill those boats up. They used to go down and fill them up. They used to come fill the farmers' tanks up full of fuel, but now they're saying I had a hard job to get last week's pay out of him, am I going to get next week's pay for that oil? That's going on in the industries of Nova Scotia.

Then we have tourism coming on, we've got boat tour operators, we got bus tour operators. They're not sure if they can raise the price a hair more or not, because they're afraid the tourism, by all that's being told and all the speculation, that tourism is going to be down. They don't know whether they dare to raise the price any more for their tours, to make a go of it. I hear that every day down there in western Nova Scotia, a lot of tour operators are very concerned about the price of fuel.

Already, 70 per cent of the people in this province are saying that the price of fuel is going to change their plans for vacationing this summer. I mean a lot of us are not going to bother, as long as you have a nice paycheque coming in every week - you know, most of us in this room probably do, we can afford a tank of gas right now. I'm talking about industry here, industry that is going to run. Maybe when you get to White Point Beach, there may not be a tour there to go anywhere, I'm not sure. You may not want to go again.

Mr. Speaker, oil, as I said, is $122 a barrel and it is going to rise to $200, the prediction. Now that's being said on the radio and again, I don't really know the answer to it. The only thing I can say is, investors of the world investing in oil, beware, government beware, because I'm going to tell you why. I have a document here that I want everybody to read. I want everybody to read this because it will open up your eyes and probably you've read the story about the Great Depression. It's not a story, it's the truth.

There's a document here that I'm going to table in the end and I want you all to read it, but I want to read you one little thing out of it. The Great Depression was a dramatic, world-wide, economic downturn, beginning in some countries as early as 1928. The beginning of the Great Depression in the United States is associated with the stock market

[Page 2850]

crash of October, 1929, known as Black Tuesday. The Depression had devastating effects in both the industrialized countries and those which exported raw material. International trade declined sharply as did personal incomes, tax revenues, prices and profits. Cities all around the world were hit hard, especially those dependent on industry. Construction was virtually halted in many countries. Farming and rural areas suffered as crop prices fell as much as 50 per cent. Facing plummeting demands with few alternate sources of jobs, areas dependent on primary sector industries such as farming, mining and logging, suffered the most.

Mr. Speaker, Franklin Roosevelt's Chairman of the Federal Reserve from 1934 to 1948 stated what he believed caused the Depression. As mass production has to be accompanied by mass consumption, mass consumption, in turn, implies a distribution of wealth, not existing wealth, but wealth that is as it is currently produced, to provide people with buying power equal to the amount of goods and services offered by the nation's economy machinery.

Instead of achieving that kind of distribution, a giant suction pump had, by 1929, drawn into the few hands an increasing portion of currently produced wealth. This serviced them as capital accumulation, but by taking purchasing power out of the hands of mass consumers, the savers denied to themselves the kind of effective demand for those products that would justify reinvestment of their capital accumulations into new plants.

In consequence, as in a poker game, when the chips were concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, the other fellows could stay in the game only by borrowing. When the credit ran out the game stopped.

Mr. Speaker, the average Canadian debt in Canada is $80,000. Fifty percent of those people are in a financial disaster mode, only three paycheques away. That's what kind of shape this country's in and that's what's going on. Listen, I'm not trying to scare people, my belief is you prepare for the worst and hope for the best. Something that I would like to close with and it's true - money is like manure. If it stays in the pile it's a pile of manure, if you spread it around it makes things grow. What's going on in this world now is being piled in a pile and if it keeps piling in a pile we are in trouble. I will table this document for all to read and I hope you do and I believe we can find the answer.

Mr. Speaker, with that I will take my seat. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[4:29 p.m. The House resolved itself into CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

[Page 2851]

[8:47 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Wayne Gaudet in the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. CHUCK PORTER: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 146.

No. 146 - Motor Vehicle Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MS. VICKI CONRAD: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, I'm pleased to rise and speak to Bill No. 146, an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Motor Vehicle Act. I thank the minister for bringing this bill forward. It is a bill that I feel we can support. Some of the items of the bill are clearly housekeeping items, while others are clarification and/or new provisions to be added to the Act, such as the clarity around ignition interlock pilot projects.

The provision giving law enforcement more clarification and the ability to seize, impound and dispose of vehicles may allow for a more efficient process and will enable law enforcement to seize or impound vehicles that could be used in criminal activity and vehicles driven by delinquent drivers.

There are some cautions, however. We would want the minister to ensure that the bill does not allow for indiscriminate seizures of vehicles whose owners perhaps have accumulated a small number of parking tickets, or the safety inspection for a newer vehicle has run out by a few days. If the bill's intent is to deal effectively with habitual delinquent drivers who drive while suspended, or with no insurance, or who are impaired, or who are using the vehicles for criminal activity, then this is clearly a good bill.

[Page 2852]

Another feature of the bill we can support are the provisions for the registry and law enforcement to deal effectively with impounded vehicles. Possible transfer of ownership to impound facility operators of impounded vehicles with little value or whose owners have not claimed them or have not taken responsibility for paying storage fees will allow for a more efficient and cost-effective disposal of those vehicles.

Another aspect of this bill that we do support are the deterrents and penalties for driving while suspended or while one's privilege to obtain a licence has been cancelled. We are concerned, though, that the doubling of fines may result in other difficulties for the registry and law enforcement. The collection and penalties for default of fines could pose unforseen added backlogs in the court system but, hopefully, the message of increased penalties will be enough to deter drivers and make them think twice before getting behind the wheel while their licence has been revoked, suspended or cancelled.

Mr. Speaker, we do feel we can support this bill, and with those cautions to the minister, as he moves forward and tweaks this bill, I feel that it will be a good piece of legislation.

So I'll close by saying that, in essence, this is a good bill and, again, with tweaking, it will provide more clarity for drivers and law enforcement and ensure more safety on our streets and highways. This bill has our support and we look forward to it moving to Law Amendments Committee and receiving response from interested parties. Thank you.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker. A few comments on behalf of the member for Clare, who is otherwise engaged at the present time. I'd like to just say that we're pleased that the minister has brought this bill forward, Bill No. 146. It's a bill that makes some significant changes in the Motor Vehicle Act, and actually three areas of importance are amended - the Ignition Interlock Program, the vehicle impoundment, and the significance of the driver fines with suspended licences.

We've heard the minister his preamble on the bill, and we certainly don't want to hold this bill up, Mr. Speaker. We'd like to see what's going to happen at the Law Amendments Committee with this bill, and if there is sufficient interest to come to the Law Amendments Committee to talk about the bill, then it would give us a better idea to judge some public opinion on this particular piece of legislation.

So with those few comments, we'll be supporting this bill at second reading.

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

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal.

[Page 2853]

HON. MURRAY SCOTT: I would like to thank my honourable colleagues opposite for their comments. I can tell you we will take those into consideration. I'd like to thank you as well, Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, for your meeting with myself and the honourable member of the Official Opposition, the Critic for Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal, for your comments. I certainly look forward to the Law Amendments Committee, as well. It's a very important bill with regard to road safety and I think it will go along with helping make our roads safer for Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, it's a great privilege that I move second reading of Bill No. 146.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading on Bill No. 146. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, that concludes the government business for today. I would move the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and meet until 8:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Oral Question Period, we'll have the debate going into Supply, the debate on estimates, and following that we will go to Government Business, Public Bills for Second Reading, a continuation on Bill No. 146, Bill Nos. 157, 120, 130, 131, 133, 148, 151, and 156. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do now rise and meet again tomorrow at 12:00 noon.

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 House rose at 8:55 p.m.]

[Page 2854]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 2504

By: Mr. Patrick Dunn (Pictou Centre)

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

Whereas earlier this year the students of Trenton Elementary School raised more than $1,200 for Muscular Dystrophy Canada; and

Whereas five-year-old Daniel Arsenault was the inspiration behind "The Hop", complete with bunny ears, that was organized to raise money and awareness for his condition to the entire school community; and

Whereas the students spent the morning learning about the disease and "hopping" around the gymnasium, while always making sure to be extra careful with their friend Daniel. In addition to this fundraiser, the school also widened an entrance door to allow freer movement for Daniel while he's in his wheelchair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send warm wishes and congratulations to Daniel Arsenault and the entire study body and staff at Trenton Elementary School for doing more to make the school community an inclusive one, keeping in line with Nova Scotian values.

RESOLUTION NO. 2505

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas Tim Gillis of Middleton has been assistant coach for the Middleton Blues Hockey Team for 28 years; and

Whereas Tim has been a dedicated volunteer for the team acting as a "positive force on the bench, in the dressing room and on the bus" and has served as a constant source of encouragement for both MRHS coaches and players; and

Whereas Tim's dedication, perseverance, and love of the game, as embodied in the spirit of long-time Valley High School Hockey League volunteer and executive member Art Lightfoot of Kentville, was recognized at the VHSHL annual banquet held on April 3rd,

[Page 2855]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Tim Gillis on being this year's recipient of the Art Lightfoot Memorial Award and wish him many more years of coaching success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2506

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas three Middleton Regional High School Grade 9 students have earned the opportunity to represent the province in the Canadian Junior High Nationals Debating Championships being held in Newfoundland May 8 through 12; and

Whereas this is the first year MRHS has entered a junior debating team into competition and during the regional championship, held in Halifax on March 29, the team was required to compete against more seasoned contenders; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has some of the strongest debating teams in the country and have proven consistently successful in facing off against the stiffest of competition.

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating team member Lauren Perry on earning a spot on the provincial debating squad and wish her and her team success at the national competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2507

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas three Middleton Regional High School Grade 9 students have earned the opportunity to represent the province in the Canadian Junior High Nationals Debating Championships being held in Newfoundland May 8 through 12; and

Whereas this is the first year MRHS has entered a junior debating team into competition and during the regional championship, held in Halifax on March 29, the team was required to compete against more seasoned contenders; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has some of the strongest debating teams in the country and have proven consistently successful in facing off against the stiffest of competition.

[Page 2856]

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating team member Kyla Shields on earning a spot on the provincial debating squad and wish her and her team success at the national competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2508

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas three Middleton Regional High School Grade 9 students have earned the opportunity to represent the province in the Canadian Junior High Nationals Debating Championships being held in Newfoundland May 8 through 12; and

Whereas this is the first year MRHS has entered a junior debating team into competition and during the regional championship, held in Halifax on March 29, the team was required to compete against more seasoned contenders; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has some of the strongest debating teams in the country and have proven consistently successful in facing off against the stiffest of competition.

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating team member Gabe Rosconi-Robertson on earning a spot on the provincial debating squad and wish him and his team success at the national competition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2509

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas Scouts Canada has been involved in educating youth for over 100 years in how to build a better world where people are self-fulfilled as individuals and play a constructive role in society; and

Whereas Justin O'Rourke has been involved in the Scouting Movement in Middleton, Annapolis County for over 10 years and has been working diligently volunteering in his community, educating himself and fellow scouts on topics of citizenship, leadership, personal development, conservation, science and technology and setting an example for scouts in the organization; and

[Page 2857]

Whereas on April 19, 2008 Justin was presented with his Chief Scout's Award, the highest achievement that can be earned in the scouting movement by the Right Honourable Lieutenant Governor Mayann Francis.

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating Justin on this proud achievement.

RESOLUTION NO. 2510

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas history enthusiasts in Annapolis Royal and indeed all across the province are looking forward to celebrating an important historical milestone; and

Whereas the oldest wood-frame house in Canada that has been constantly lived in by more than thirty owners over the centuries including Lieutenant Governor Alexander Cosby in the early 1700s, and is a real tribute to a time when Annapolis Royal was leading on the international stage; and

Whereas this two-storey, ten room cottage, with its distinctive Gambrel-style roof, was built in 1708 by Louis de Gannes de Falaise, son-in-law of the governor of Acadia and played host to numerous meetings of the first acting government of Nova Scotia before the founding of Halifax.

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislative Assembly join me in congratulating current owners of this historical treasure, James and Pauline How, on celebrating a significant milestone in this home's history of 300 years of providing shelter and memories for many families throughout the ages.

RESOLUTION NO. 2511

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas we often hear of athletes who, through hard work and perseverance and in the face of obstacles and challenges, are able to rise above their competitors to capture top spot in their event; and

[Page 2858]

Whereas Eileen Ramsay encountered unique challenges as a Special Olympian, yet through determination and a positive outlook, challenged both herself and her rivals; and

Whereas Eileen began cross-country skiing in February, 2007, and after only two weeks, competed at the 2007 Atlantic Winter Games in Bathurst, New Brunswick, where she captured a bronze and silver medal; one year later, as a member of Team Nova Scotia, Eileen captured two gold medals in the 100 metre and 500 metre events in cross-country skiing at th 2008 Special Olympics National Winter Games in Quebec City this past February;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislative Assembly join me in congratulating Eileen on her exciting and hard won victory and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2512

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Leader of the Liberal Party)

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

Whereas by practising the three new Rs in education: recycling, reusing and reducing, schools are teaching a new generation about environmental responsibility; and

Whereas Lawrencetown Consolidated School in Annapolis County has set a fine example for all schools to follow in their practice of reusing food containers and cutlery, using compostable wrappings, bulk ordering to reduce emissions in transporting supplies and sorting recyclables and refundables; and

Whereas this environmentally progressive school's efforts were recognized in being named School of the Year in the 10th Annual Mobius Environmental Awards;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly join me in congratulating students and staff at LCS on receiving this prestigious award, but more importantly, in committing to making a difference for the benefit of all of us.

RESOLUTION NO. 2513

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

[Page 2859]

Whereas New Beginnings Ministries was officially founded on Easter Sunday, April 12, 1998; and

Whereas on Sunday, November 5, 2006, New Beginnings Ministries held their opening ceremonies in their brand new facility at 26 Cherry Brook Road in Westphal; and

Whereas on the weekend of April 25, 26 and 27, New Beginnings Ministries marked their 10th anniversary with celebrations including special speakers, various choirs as well as a banquet for more than 500 people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate New Beginnings Ministries on their outstanding achievements since opening their doors 10 years ago and wish them well in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 2514

By: Mr. Chuck Porter (Hants West)

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

Whereas the Windsor Royals Junior Hockey Club won the 2008 Don Johnson Cup in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island, symbolic of Junior B Hockey supremacy in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the Royals, along with teams from Newfoundland, P.E.I., New Brunswick and host Sherwood-Parkdale all finished with identical 2-2 records in round robin tournament play, but Windsor put together two exceptional playoff games to win their first Atlantic title in seven years; and

Whereas the Royals have a proud 41-year relationship with the Windsor-West Hants community, but the job could not have been done this year without the effort and time put in by volunteers Tim and Tina Shearer, Cecil Greencorn and Linda Leopold;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate the Royals on an outstanding season and wish them many future years of success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2515

By: Hon. Alfie MacLeod (Speaker)

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

[Page 2860]

Whereas scouting began in 1907 when Lt. Gen. Robert Stephenson Smyth Baden-Powell took a group of youth to camp with the movement becoming incorporated as The Boy Scout Association throughout the Commonwealth by Royal Charter granted by King George V in 1912; and

Whereas in 1908, a gentleman by the name of William Glover brought 11 boys together in Port Morien to form the 1st Scout Troop in North America; and

Whereas the 100th Anniversary of the first Boy Scout Troop in North American is being celebrated this summer from July 10-13 at Port Morien;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Boy Scout movement and wish organizers every success with their century milestone celebration at Port Morien.

RESOLUTION NO. 2516

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 4th Annual Inspiring Lives Awards for inspiring others as they live with mental health or addiction was held on May 7th; and

Whereas award recipients were selected through a province-wide nomination process by a panel of health care professionals, community stakeholders and the general public; and

Whereas Nathan Young was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and realized that the most important day of his life was the day that he began his medication and was able to return to school and find meaningful employment;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Nathan Young for his example to others in finding help in his community and making a difference, not only for his encouragement of others but in his own life.

RESOLUTION NO. 2517

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

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

[Page 2861]

Whereas the Insurance Brokers Association of Nova Scotia has introduced the Insurance Awards Program to showcase top-class performance and innovation among members of the industry; and

Whereas Barnes Insurance Agency of Amherst received Brokerage of the Year for best reflecting the values of the association, including dedication to clients and the industry, community involvement, volunteerism and professionalism in core business values; and

Whereas Garry Stack received this award for his business during the performance awards dinner held recently in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Garry Stack and his staff at Barnes Insurance Agency for this honourable recognition.

RESOLUTION NO. 2518

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

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

Whereas Cheney McWaters, a student of Pugwash District High School, has been presented with the national Loran Award; and

Whereas this award which covers tuition and lodging is the most prestigious scholarship in Canada; and

Whereas Cheney plans to study engineering at the University of Toronto, also to his credit, a Nova Scotia Recycling Award for placing second in the video category;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to Cheney McWaters for his great achievements.

RESOLUTION NO. 2519

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

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

[Page 2862]

Whereas 100-plus volunteer firefighters from across Cumberland County took part in a two-day training session at the Pugwash District Volunteer Fire Department recently to sharpen their skills and learn changes in the field of firefighting; and

Whereas the courses included basic wild land firefighting, communications, strategy and tactics, rescue and traffic management where a new bright pink sign was introduced to be used at emergency scenes; and

Whereas its use will warn motorists they are approaching an emergency scene and to use caution. This course was appreciated by participants who were able to receive training locally. There are 14 rural fire departments in Cumberland County solely run by volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to these dedicated people who give their time for training in order to serve as effective firefighters and emergency responders.

RESOLUTION NO. 2520

By: Mr. Ernest Fage (Cumberland North)

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

Whereas it was a day of laughter, smiles and hugs recently as clients, executive and board members of the Bridge Workshop recently broke ground for a new facility; and

Whereas this organization lost its building to a fire in October of 2006, which was devastating to its 27 clients and staff who depended on it for their daily living and work; and

Whereas the organization is about 10 per cent away from having reached its funding target and will fundraise for the remaining funds although the community has been very responsive and generous to its needs;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the executive director, Susan Thiboudeau, board members and clients of the Bridge Adult Service Centre for their perseverance and hard work.

RESOLUTION NO. 2521

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

[Page 2863]

Whereas Donald Randall volunteered his musical talents and drumming skills to perform at the Barrington Municipal High School for the Food for Shelburne County Fundraiser on February 23, 2008; and

Whereas $2000 was raised and distributed towards all three Shelburne County Food Banks; and

Whereas each month 40,000 individuals are assisted by food banks in Nova Scotia, of which one-third represents hungry children and 9.4 per cent represent the working poor in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Donald Randall for volunteering his musical talents and drumming skills to perform at the Barrington Municipal High School for the Food for Shelburne County Fundraiser on February 23, 2008, to help hungry families in Shelburne County.

RESOLUTION NO. 2522

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Dwayne Hunt of the Island Barrington Fire Department was awarded with a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper for his 25 years of long service to the fire department on March 8, 2008; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters give freely their time to train for and respond to emergencies and have chosen to make long-term commitments to their local fire department; and

Whereas it is important to recognize the commitment and dedication all firefighters make to ensure the safety and well-being of their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Dwayne Hunt of the Island of Barrington Volunteer Fire Department who was awarded a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington, at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper, for his 25 years of long service to the fire department, on March 8, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2523

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

[Page 2864]

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

Whereas Edward Nickerson of the Shag Harbour Bear Point Fire Department was awarded with a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington t the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper for his 25 years of long service to the fire department on March 8, 2008; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters give freely of their time to train for and respond to emergencies and have chosen to make long-term commitments to their local fire department; and

Whereas it is important to recognize the commitment and dedication all firefighters make to ensure the safety and well-being of their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Edward Nickerson of the Shag Harbour Bear Point Volunteer Fire Department who was awarded a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington, at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper, for his 25 years of long service to the fire department, on March 8, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2524

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas a community fundraiser was held for two-year old Emily Van Norden, who has been diagnosed with a rare form of Long QT Syndrome, at the Port Clyde Fire Hall on May 3, 2008; and

Whereas family, friends and neighbours have raised over $15,000 with continuing monetary support; and

Whereas all proceeds will go towards helping with medical expenses while the family is at the Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, where Emily will have a pacemaker with a defibrillator attached to her heart;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank the community and everyone who donated and dedicated their time to the community fundraiser held at the Port Clyde Fire Hall on May 3, 2008, to help two year old Emily Van Norden who has been diagnosed with a rare form of Long QT Syndrome.

[Page 2865]

RESOLUTION NO. 2525

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas in September, 2007, ERMES started a Student Secretary Program where Grade 5 and 6 students volunteered to answer all incoming calls while the administrative assistant took lunch break between 12:20 and 12:55; and

Whereas the volunteers received training in phone etiquette, confidentiality, PA systems, photocopying, fax machine, proper message taking, redirecting visitors and even retrieving mittens and band-aids for younger students; and

Whereas the program has been very successful as the students have acquired new skills and have explored an opportunity to gain self-esteem and confidence;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thanks the ERMES staff and student volunteers for their hard work and training commitments to make the Student Secretary Program a great success.

RESOLUTION NO. 2526

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the young students at Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School have exceeded the challenge to read 2,007 books by more than tripling the number of books read, with a grand total of 6,500 books; and

Whereas the school principal, Mary Manning, set this challenge for her students; and

Whereas Ms. Manning honoured their achievement by dressing up as a clown and kissing a pig;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the young students of Evelyn Richardson Memorial Elementary School for exceeding their challenge to read 2,007 books by more than tripling the number of books read, with a grand total of 6,500 books.

[Page 2866]

RESOLUTION NO. 2527

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas the Town of Clark's Harbour selected Ester Nickerson, who is 92 years young, as the Volunteer of the Year for Clark's Harbour; and

Whereas Ester has been teaching Sunday school for the last 60 years at the West Head Advent Church; she also has been a lifetime member of the Ladies Missionary Group and has managed an active youth group for many years; she has volunteered as an ambulance attendant; campaigned for local and provincial charitable organizations; an active member with the Cape Sable Island New Horizon's Seniors' Club; and volunteered in the Clark's Harbour Visitation Program where she has spent considerable time with shut-ins and the very ill; and

Whereas Ester will be attending the Provincial Volunteer Awards Ceremony and Dinner on Thursday, April 24, 2008, at the Westin Hotel in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ester Nickerson, who is 92 years young, for being chosen by the Town of Clark's Harbour as the Volunteer of the Year, and best wishes in future volunteering endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 2528

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Ethan Dixon of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association won the gold medal in the Atom B League Tournament on March 8 and 9, 2008, held in Chester, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas hockey is an enthusiastic and passionate sport that needs a lot of skill, devotion, hard work and dedication, and the team put forth their best effort in succeeding to win the gold medal; and

Whereas the coaches and assistant coaches, Travis Devine, Demiah Symonds, and Shannon Garland are very proud of their team for their great sportsmanship and hard work in winning the tournament;

[Page 2867]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ethan Dixon of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association Atom B team for winning the gold medal in the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Atom B League Tournament held in Chester on March 8 and 9, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2529

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Ethan Nickerson of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association won the gold medal in the Atom B League Tournament on March 8 and 9, 2008, held in Chester, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas hockey is an enthusiastic and passionate sport that needs a lot of skill, devotion, hard work and dedication, and the team put forth their best effort in succeeding to win the gold medal; and

Whereas the coaches and assistant coaches, Travis Devine, Demiah Symonds, and Shannon Garland are very proud of their team for their great sportsmanship and hard work in winning the tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ethan Nickerson of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association Atom B team for winning the gold medal in the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Atom B League Tournament held in Chester on March 8 and 9, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2530

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Etuk Oqallak of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association won the gold medal in the Atom B League Tournament on March 8 and 9, 2008, held in Chester, Nova Scotia; and

[Page 2868]

Whereas hockey is an enthusiastic and passionate sport that needs a lot of skill, devotion, hard work and dedication, and the team put forth their best effort in succeeding to win the gold medal; and

Whereas the coaches and assistant coaches, Travis Devine, Demiah Symonds, and Shannon Garland are very proud of their team for their great sportsmanship and hard work in winning the tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Etuk Oqallak of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association Atom B team for winning the gold medal in the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Atom B League Tournament held in Chester on March 8 and 9, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2531

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Eugene Stoddard of the Island Barrington Fire Department was awarded with a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper for his 35 years of long service to the fire department on March 8, 2008; and

Whereas volunteer firefighters give freely of their time to train for and respond to emergencies, and have chosen to make a long-term commitment to the local fire department; and

Whereas it is important to recognize the commitment and dedication all firefighters make to ensure the safety and well-being of their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Eugene Stoddard of the Island Barrington Volunteer Fire Department who was awarded a Scroll of Recognition from the Municipality of Barrington at the Shelburne County Mutual Aid Supper for his 35 years of long service to the fire department on March 8, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2532

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

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Whereas Fawn Atkinson and Garvin Atkinson opened their home to host a Holiday House Tour on November 16, 17, and 18, and December 1 and December 2, 2007, to fundraise for the continuation of the Wayne and Lynn Perry Scholarship Fund; and

Whereas the fund is a legacy project of the South Shore Tourism Association; and

Whereas the scholarship fund is in honour of Fawn's parents, Wayne and Lynn Perry - Sarah Belong of Lockeport Regional High School was the 2007 recipient of the $1,000 scholarship, where she is attending Dalhousie University;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Fawn and Garvin Atkinson on their excellent fundraising endeavour to raise money in honour of her parents and to also contribute her efforts to further students in education in Shelburne County through the Wayne and Lynn Perry Scholarship Fund.

RESOLUTION NO. 2533

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Gabriel Penny of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association won the gold medal in the Atom B League Tournament on March 8 to 9, 2008, held in Chester, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas hockey is an enthusiastic and passionate sport that needs a lot of skill, devotion, hard work and dedication, and the team put forth their best effort in succeeding to win the gold medal; and

Whereas the coaches and assistant coaches, Travis Devine, Demiah Symonds, and Shannon Garland are very proud of their team for their great sportsmanship and hard work in winning the tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Gabriel Penny of the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Association Atom B team for winning the gold medal in the Shelburne County Minor Hockey Atom B League Tournament held in Chester on March 8 to 9, 2008.

RESOLUTION NO. 2534

By: Mr. Sterling Belliveau (Shelburne)

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

Whereas Dwight d'Eon, a noted musician from West Pubnico who placed fourth in the 2007 Canadian Idol, volunteered his musical talents to perform at the Barrington Municipal High School for the Food for Shelburne County Fundraiser on February 23, 2008; and

Whereas $2,000 was raised and distributed towards all three Shelburne County food banks; and

Whereas each month, 40,000 individuals were assisted by food banks in Nova Scotia of which one-third represents hungry children and 9.4 per cent represents the working poor in our province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly thank Dwight d'Eon for volunteering his musical talents to perform at the Barrington Municipal High School for the Food for Shelburne County Fundraiser on February 23, 2008.