Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-5

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Victoria Heights Sub.: Hwy. No. 4 - Concerns,
Mr. G. Gosse 195
Health - Autism Spectrum Disorder: Services - Enhance, Hon. B. Barnet 196
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 104, Regan, Laura: Acting Achievements - Congrats.,
(by Hon. R. Russell), The Premier 196
Vote - Affirmative 197
Res. 105, Educ. - Lifelong Learning: Importance - Acknowledge,
Hon. J. Muir 197
Vote - Affirmative 198
Res. 106, Smith, Dr. Murdock: Top Family Physician (N.S.) - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 198
Vote - Affirmative 198
Res. 107, Alliance Atlantis Communications - NSCAD:
Building Donation - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 199
Vote - Affirmative 199
Res. 108, Agric. & Fish.: Open Farm Day (05/10/03) - Recognize,
Hon. C. D'Entremont 199
Vote - Affirmative 200
Res. 109, Energy - Ministers (Cdn.): Meeting - Thank, Hon. C. Clarke 200
Vote - Affirmative 201
Res. 110, Moore, Sister Dorothy: Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 201
Vote - Affirmative 202
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 7, Labour Standards Code/Vital Statistics Act, Hon. K. Morash 202
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 111, Treaty Day: Anniv. (250th) - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 202
Vote - Affirmative 203
Res. 112, Hurricane Juan - Seniors: Gov't. - Assist, Ms. D. Whalen 203
Vote - Affirmative 203
Res. 113, Ward, Darlene: Educ. Efforts - Recognize, Mr. M. Parent 204
Vote - Affirmative 204
Res. 114, Hurricane Juan - Dart. North Residents: Compassion -
Commend, Mr. J. Pye 204
Vote - Affirmative 205
Res. 115, Insurance - NDP: Rate Reduction - Commitment Clarify,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 205
Res. 116, Defence Dept. (Can.) - Aircraft Surveillance:
Adequacy Concerns - Min. Notify, Mr. B. Taylor 206
Res. 117, Yakimchuk, Clotilda: Order of Can. - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 207
Vote - Affirmative 207
Res. 118, LeBlanc, Mme. Barbara: Médaille Léger Comeau - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 207
Vote - Affirmative 208
Res. 119, Londonderry Sch. Reunion Planning Comm.: Members -
Commend, Mr. W. Langille 209
Vote - Affirmative 209
Res. 120, Peace & Police Officers - Efforts: Tribute - Pay, Mr. K. Deveaux 209
Vote - Affirmative 210
Res. 121, Sawler, Gary - Lake Echo Commun.: Efforts - Commend,
Mr. K. Colwell 210
Vote - Affirmative 211
Res. 122, Wadden, Don/PCFA: FD of the Yr. - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 211
Vote - Affirmative 212
Res. 123, Hurricane Juan - Preparations: Assessment - Undertake,
Mr. H. Epstein 212
Res. 124, Internat'l. Day of Older Persons (01/10/03) - Acknowledge,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 212
Vote - Affirmative 213
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 14, Manulife Fin. - Maritime Life Acquisition: Discussions - Details,
Mr. D. Dexter 214
No. 15, Hurricane Juan - Seniors: Assistance - Details, Mr. D. Graham 215
No. 16, Insurance - Home & Tenant Coverage: Availability - Plans,
Mr. D. Dexter 217
No. 17, Hurricane Juan - Prem.: Press Conference - Occurrence Info.,
Mr. D. Graham 218
No. 18, Hurricane Juan - State of Emergency: Declaration - Lack Explain,
Mr. H. Epstein 220
No. 19, Hurricane Juan - Path: EMO Minister - Awareness Time Frame,
Mr. H. Theriault 221
No. 20, Agric. & Fish. - Hurricane Juan: Coastal Communities
Assistance - Details, Mr. W. Estabrooks 223
No. 21, Health - Hurricane Juan: Surgeries Backlog - Plan,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 224
No. 22, Hurricane Juan - Assistance: Fed./Prov. Talks - Details,
Mr. K. Deveaux 226
No. 23, EMO - HRM Non-Essential Employees: Stay Home Advisory -
Confirm, Mr. G. Gosse 227
No. 24, Service N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Hurricane Juan: Price Gouging -
Prevention Details, Mr. Gerald Sampson 228
No. 25, Environ. & Lbr. - Potable Water: Action - Time Frame,
Mr. C. Parker 229
No. 26, EMO - Shelters: Provision - Lack Explain, Mr. H. Theriault 230
No. 27, Hurricane Juan - Commun. Serv.: Food Replacement Assistance -
Amounts, Mr. J. Pye 231
No. 28, Insurance - Property Insurance: Plan - Details, Mr. Michel Samson 233
No. 29, Educ. - Hurricane Juan: Schools - Damage List, Mr. K. Deveaux 234
No. 30, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: C.B. West Road Plan - Table,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 236
No. 31, URB - NSP Linesmen: Complement - Review, Mr. C. Parker 237
No. 32, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sydney-Glace Bay Hwy.:
Crosswalks - Adequacy, Mr. G. Gosse 238
No. 33, Health - Self-Managed Care Prog.: Implementation - Time Frame,
Mr. S. McNeil 239
No. 34, Environ. & Lbr. - Hurricane Juan: Waterfront Residents -
Warnings, Ms. M. More 240
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 17, CBDC: Pension Disbursement - Refusal Condemn,
Mr. F. Corbett 241
Mr. F. Corbett 242
Hon. P. Christie 246
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 250
Mr. D. Dexter 255
Hon. J. Muir 260
Res. 51, Autumn House Dispute: Commun. Serv. Min. -
Responsibility Assume, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 261
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 261
Hon. D. Morse 263
Mr. R. MacKinnon 266
Ms. M. More 268
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Hurricane Juan - Workers/Vols.: Efforts - Congrats.:
Mr. G. Hines 272
Mr. H. Theriault 273
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 274
Mr. W. Langille 276
Ms. D. Whalen 278
Mr. C. Parker 279
Ms. J. Massey 280
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Oct. 2nd at 12:00 p.m. 281
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 125, Clark, Philip/Meehan, David: Woodlot Owner of Yr. Awards -
Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 282
Res. 126, Irving: Forest Stewardship - Commend, Hon. R. Hurlburt 282
Res. 127, MacMaster, Buddy: Order of N.S. - Applaud,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 283
Res. 128, MacDonald, Jane: Commun. Literacy Vol. Award - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 283
Res. 129, Burden, Dr. Robert Arnold: Order of N.S. - Applaud,
The Speaker 284
Res. 130, Colville, Alex: Order of N.S. - Applaud, Hon. D. Morse 285
Res. 131, Elliott, Shirley Burnham: Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 285

[Page 195]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 1, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Russell MacKinnon

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend all of the Nova Scotian workers and volunteers on their tireless efforts to restore electrical power and provide services to the residents of all communities affected by Hurricane Juan.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the residents of Kytes Hill Drive and Grand Lake Road in Cape Breton Nova, the operative clause which says:

195

[Page 196]

"We the citizens of Victoria Heights Subdivision (Kytes Hill Drive) for the past number of years have had some grave concerns when entering or exiting the Glace Bay #4 Highway to or from our street. These concerns have been brought to the attention of governments in power on several occasions with little success; however, each time we have been assured it would be in the 'next budget' or 'estimates'."

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 3,395 Nova Scotians and others in support of enhanced services in programs for children with autism spectrum disorder, specifically applied behaviour analysis. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 104

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

Whereas Nova Scotia actress Laura Regan is presently taking Hollywood by storm, playing the lead role as Jessica Lynch, the captured U.S. soldier rescued from a Baghdad prison camp in the NBC television movie to air on prime time later this Fall; and

Whereas this past Tuesday evening Laura was a special guest star in the CBS prime time drama Judging Amy, playing the role of a social worker trainee; and

Whereas Laura is the youngest and proud daughter of former Nova Scotia Premier Gerald Regan and his wife, Carole;

[Page 197]

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly extend their sincere congratulations to Laura on her outstanding achievements, and wish her every success as she moves onward and upward in her acting career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 105

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

Whereas in celebration of International Adult Learners' Week from September 7th to 13th, events and presentations were held in more than 50 countries to celebrate achievements and to promote all forms of adult learning; and

Whereas across Nova Scotia, the week was celebrated with events and activities 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

Whereas learning is an essential tool that helps individuals and societies grow, contributing to every aspect of life, be it the economy, our communities, family life, and recreation, and that those participating develop skills and confidence that enable them to embrace change and seize new opportunities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the real importance of lifelong learning for the individuals involved and for the communities in which they live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 198]

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. 106

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

Whereas Cape Breton doctor Murdock Smith has been named the top family physician in Nova Scotia this year by the College of Family Physicians of Canada; and

Whereas the Sydney physician was chosen by the College of Family Physicians for the commitments he has made and still makes to his patients, his profession, his community, and to his family; and

Whereas graduating from Dalhousie University Medical School in 1969, Sydney born Murdock Smith soon returned to his hometown to practise medicine and has become a well-respected and integral part of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dr. Murdock Smith on his top recognition and applaud his long-time dedication and service to medicine and his 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.

[Page 199]

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 107

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

Whereas Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. has donated the Alliance Atlantis Academy Building on Brunswick Street to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design; and

Whereas the academy has been used as a school facility, as well as a set for various film and television productions since its opening, which will provide an inspiring atmosphere for NSCAD's undergraduate film program; and

Whereas the new building will house the undergraduate program's 35 students and four faculty members, and the Alliance Atlantis graduate program when it launches in 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Alliance Atlantis Communications Inc. for their generosity in donating the academy to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, and wish the film program students good luck as they continue on in their studies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 108

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

[Page 200]

Whereas the Nova Scotia Agricultural Awareness Committee is pleased to be hosting the 2nd Annual Open Farm Day, on Sunday, October 5, 2003; and

Whereas on this day, 52 farms will open their farms to the public so that they will have an opportunity to experience the life and work of a farm business; and

Whereas this event is a great opportunity for producers to showcase their operations and raise public awareness for agriculture;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize October 5, 2003 as Open Farm Day 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 Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 109

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

Whereas this past Sunday, Energy and Mines Ministers from across Canada came to Halifax for an annual two-day conference to address common issues in mining, energy supply, and electricity generation and transmission; and

Whereas despite the devastating aftermath of Hurricane Juan, these federal-provincial-territorial ministers remained committed to the conference and continued to meet through difficult circumstances; and

Whereas yesterday's meeting of Energy Ministers resulted in a national commitment to work together on several critical issues regarding the generation, transmission and reliability of our electrical systems, renewable energy, research and development, and energy supply;

[Page 201]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House offer sincere thanks to our federal, provincial and territorial colleagues for their understanding and compassion and unfailing commitment to ensuring that Canada's energy issues receive the full attention they deserve, even in times of considerable distress.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 110

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour and is bestowed on those Nova Scotians who have given of themselves, their time and their talent and have made extraordinary contributions to our people and our province; and

Whereas Sister Dorothy Moore of Membertou is a well-respected elder and a leader in education, devoting many years to the preservation and restoration of the Mi'kmaq language and culture; and

Whereas largely because of her efforts, the Nova Scotia Department of Education has developed a provincial Mi'kmaq language curriculum, ensuring the language posterity and that young Mi'kmaq have access to the language of their history and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sister Dorothy Moore on being named to the Order of Nova Scotia and acknowledge the importance of her life's work for the people of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 202]

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.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 7 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Labour Standards Code; and Chapter 494 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Vital Statistics Act. (Hon. Kerry Morash)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 111

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

Whereas the area of Debert has long been regarded as a place of great historical significance to the Mi'kmaq people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq, led by Executive Director Mr. Donald M. Julien, has taken the lead in developing a Mi'kmaq cultural centre in Debert; and

Whereas September 25th marked the grand opening of the Mi'kmawey Debert Interpretive Trail with a special presentation of Mi'kmaq history and culture;

Therefore be it resolved that on this day the 250th Anniversary commemorating Treaty Day that the House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Donald M. Julien, the Confederacy of Mainland Mi'kmaq and the Nova Scotia Assembly of Mi'kmaq Chiefs for their efforts to protect and promote Mi'kmaq culture and heritage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 203]

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. 112

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

Whereas three days ago Nova Scotia suffered its worst natural disaster and approximately 150,000 residents are still without power; and

Whereas in my riding of Halifax Clayton Park many people still affected by power outages are seniors living in apartment buildings; and

Whereas we should be concerned that these seniors have no access to media for information, their food supplies have spoiled and they need assistance to cope with everyday life;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage this government to effectively reach out to all seniors who may be having difficulty during these trying times.

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 North.

[Page 204]

RESOLUTION NO. 113

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

Whereas Canning resident Darlene Ward recognized that computer literacy is a vital skill in today's job market; and

Whereas in the Fall of 2002 Ms. Ward entered the Office Information Technology program at the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College to gain the skills she needed to be successful in her future career; and

Whereas as part of her program, Ms. Ward is assisting area midwife Jen White to write a funding proposal for a project that will assist low-income teenage mothers;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize Darlene Ward for her efforts to develop her job skills and recognize all those who work so hard at providing Nova Scotians with a fine education at the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 114

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

Whereas the people of Dartmouth North have a long, proud tradition of pulling together and helping neighbours in time of need; and

Whereas virtually every street and neighbourhood in Dartmouth North was devastated by Hurricane Juan, leaving thousands of people without the necessities of life; and

[Page 205]

Whereas the people of Dartmouth North went out of their way to share the food, water and shelter they had with those who were without the necessities;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly commend the people of Dartmouth North and all of metro for showing the kind of compassion and caring for others that we have become known for.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 115

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

Whereas the NDP claim that public auto insurance is the only viable option for the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the member for Halifax Fairview publicly supports a cap on contingency fees for lawyers specializing in personal injuries derived from automobile accidents because these fees drive up the cost of insurance; and

Whereas the Leader of the NDP, who specialized in personal injury cases, is opposed to a cap on contingency fees;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP please clarify as to whether they are truly committed to reducing the rates for Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 206]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 116

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

Whereas Canada's national defence system has been gutted to such a critical level, where private companies are now being looked at to conduct air patrols over both the East and West Coasts of Canada; and

Whereas Canada's Navy and its Maritime Command Impact Assessment Report for 2003 noted that in the past decade, since the federal Liberals took office in Ottawa, the Navy has seen a 54 per cent reduction in the number of Aurora flying hours; and

Whereas the report continued saying money problems have limited the availability of spare parts for the Auroras and flying hours for all of the Air Force's planes;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly take a proactive approach and agree that with the unanimous approval of this resolution, the Speaker will send a letter notifying the Minister of National Defence of this House of Assembly's grave concern about his government's ability to adequately provide proper aircraft surveillance for Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 207]

RESOLUTION NO. 117

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

Whereas the Order of Canada is our country's highest honour awarded to individuals who have made a difference in various fields of human endeavour; and

Whereas Clotilda Yakimchuk has served in various capacities, including director of staff development and education services at the Cape Breton Regional Hospital, as a member of the African Canadian Advisory Committee to the Nova Scotia Community College, and as a member and chairperson of the Eastern Regional Health Board; and

Whereas on August 5th, Clotilda Yakimchuk was appointed to the Order of Canada in recognition for her many years of community service and outstanding achievements;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Clotilda Yakimchuk for this well-deserved recognition and commend her for the commitment and dedication she has demonstrated to the community of Cape Breton and to the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 118

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to present my resolution in French first and then with a translation.

M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

[Page 208]

Attendu que le 5 septembre, Madame Barbara LeBlanc a reçu la Médaille Léger Comeau;

Attendu que Madame LeBlanc fait la promotion de la culture acadienne et du patronoine acadien sans relâche;

Attendu que Madame LeBlanc a récemment publié un livre sur la culture et la valeur symbolique du lieu historique de Grand-Pré;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette chambre exprime ses félicitations et transmet ses meilleurs voeux de succès à Madame LeBlanc.

M. le Président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débats.

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

Whereas on September 5, 2003, Madame Barbara LeBlanc received la Médaille Léger Comeau; and

Whereas Madame Barbara LeBlanc is an outstanding promoter of the Acadian culture and heritage; and

Whereas Madame LeBlanc has recently published a book on the cultural and symbolic values of the Grand Pré historical site;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Madame Barbara LeBlanc upon receiving this prestigious award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

[Page 209]

RESOLUTION NO. 119

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

Whereas for nearly 50 years, from 1920 to 1969, the old Londonderry School was a place where memories were made and strong bonds were built; and

Whereas the three-room schoolhouse with students from Primary to Grade 11 in Londonderry School had a special community feeling and just this past summer, after a year of planning, more than 200 people returned to their old school to meet former friends and teachers and visit the place where they grew up; and

Whereas gathered at their old school, now the Londonderry Community Centre, people looked through nearly 50 years of photos and memorabilia and took time to be reacquainted and relive school-time memories;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs commend the members of the Londonderry School Reunion Planning Committee for their efforts in organizing this happy reunion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 120

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

Whereas Sunday, September 28th, was National Peace and Police Officers' Memorial Day; and

[Page 210]

Whereas communities across the province are thankful for the sacrifices and efforts of law enforcement officers day in and day out; and

Whereas too many families across Nova Scotia have experienced the loss of a loved one who served in law enforcement;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and pay tribute to the efforts and sacrifices of peace and police officers across the province and pay tribute to the memory of those who have died in the line of duty.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 121

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

Whereas Gary Sawler is an outstanding member of the Lake Echo community as a volunteer with the RCMP Citizens on Patrol; and

Whereas Gary retired from the Lake Echo community office in February, 2003, due to poor health; and

Whereas the absence of Gary from the Lake Echo community office will leave a great void in community policing;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House honour Gary Sawler for his years of dedicated service to the community of Lake Echo and its residents.

[Page 211]

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 122

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

Whereas Pictou County firefighters have been recognized for their tremendous efforts to raise money to assist people living with muscular dystrophy; and

Whereas Pictou County Firefighters Association President Don Wadden accepted the MDAC Atlantic Region Fire Department of the Year Award on behalf of all firefighters of the PCFA; and

Whereas over the past 20 years members of the PCFA have raised a total of $81,000 to assist people living with neuromuscular disorders;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House join me in congratulating Don Wadden and all members of the Pictou County Firefighters Association on winning the MDAC Atlantic Region Fire Department of the Year Award and extend our appreciation for their many efforts they make to make our communities better and safer places to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 123

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

Whereas the government has pointed with pride to 93 words from an old news release which was reprinted on the front page of the Sunday Herald as evidence that Nova Scotians were warned to get ready for Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the government has not yet explained why it held no briefings, issued no evacuation order or other alerts about this particular hurricane and provided no specific warnings about this storm to those in its path; and

Whereas any improvement in future preparation for serious storms must begin with a thorough assessment of recent experience;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to engage in a thorough and open assessment of how the province prepared for Hurricane Juan which respects the dedication and tremendous effort of Emergency Measures workers while ensuring that they can serve Nova Scotians even better the next time a major storm threatens our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 124

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

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Whereas October 1st is the International Day of Older Persons; and

Whereas today, worldwide, there are 600 million individuals 60 years of age and over with this number doubling by the year 2025; and

Whereas in our fast-aging world, older people will increasingly play a critical role - through volunteer work, transmitting experience and knowledge, helping their families with caring responsibilities, and increasing their participation in the paid labour force;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge today, October 1st, as the International Day of Older Persons and extend their appreciation to those older persons who, on a daily basis, strive to make our communities a better place in which to live.

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.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on a point of order, please. Yesterday, during Question Period, the members for Halifax Citadel and Halifax Chebucto, and again today the member for Halifax Chebucto, both felt the need to point out that the first news release issued by our government about Hurricane Juan was Sunday at 5:00 o'clock. I just want to table for all members copies of the news release issued by the government on September 4th advising all Nova Scotians that hurricane season was indeed upon us, while also advising various safety tips one could take.

I also want to table a release from June 24th of this year noting the fact that Canadian and American emergency experts were meeting here in Halifax for three days to discuss increased methods for cross-border co-operation in times of emergencies such as we just had. So for those two representative members to say what they did yesterday, and again today, about the event on Sunday, the evening's magnitude, was clearly erroneous and I would like to table the document in support of my argument.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, it's a disagreement of the facts between two members - or three or four, whichever.

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ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:35 p.m. and will end at 4:05 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MANULIFE FIN. - MARITIME LIFE ACQUISITION:

DISCUSSIONS - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The news that Toronto-based Manulife Financial is buying Maritime Life has left some 1,100 people who work for their company with concerns about the future of their jobs and has left concerns about the future of the entire operation. Manulife has indicated that a review of operations will take place before any job cuts are decided upon and that they would give the government the opportunity to meet with the company about the impact on the province.

Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, what meetings or discussions have taken place with Manulife about their plans for the Halifax operations?

HON. JOHN HAMM (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I share the concern of the member opposite relative to the news that Maritime Life, in fact, is part of the takeover of John Hancock, an American firm. The officials at Maritime Life briefed me on the weekend as to the impending news. Following that I had a meeting on Monday prior to their news conference, giving me some of the information that they later made available by way of the news media.

This is distressing news. One of the good-news stories in Nova Scotia has been the success of a major financial institution, Maritime Life. We now have to deal with the reality that a corporate takeover, in essence, has occurred, but we will be working with the officials of Manulife, with Mr. Black, and also with the office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions in Ottawa to maximize the potential of employment opportunities in the new structure.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we now know that the Premier has known about this for four days and I would say that when this government established Nova Scotia Business Inc., they said that keeping, growing and attracting business to the province would be its chief mandate. On NSBI's Web site they say they're committed to retaining Nova Scotia businesses. In recent Throne Speeches, the government has recommitted themselves to NSBI and their way of doing things. So, Mr. Speaker, my question is, where are they now?

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Mr. Premier, can you tell this House what detailed plan of action NSBI has to keep the operations of Maritime Life in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what will occur in the weeks ahead is that the Nova Scotia Government and Nova Scotia Business Inc. will do those things that are mandated to us by the people of Nova Scotia to maximize opportunities here in Nova Scotia. One of the good things is that until April 2004, none of this can happen because it really only becomes effective in April, so we do have time to work on remedial situations.

Now, having said that, it's not all good between now and April, because obviously Maritime Life will not be engaging new people and they won't be replacing people who may make a choice to leave that institution. On the other hand, nothing major can happen until April of next Spring, so we do have some lead time which we will utilize to maximum benefit to achieve what we, in this House, would like to achieve.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Premier knows that that lead time will be used to develop a business plan for the future of the operations of Maritime Life, so my question is really prefaced by saying that Mr. Fred Morley from the Greater Halifax Partnership is quoted as saying that Nova Scotia is well placed to successfully fight to keep Maritime Life jobs as long as we're armed with a good business plan. I want to know from the Premier, what business plan has been developed by his government to share with Manulife in order to fight to retain the 1,100 high-quality jobs here in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, we do have some natural advantages. I do know that of all of the Maritime Life operations this was the operation that was the most efficient, it provided the employees that were the most loyal to the company. We do have some great strengths here in Halifax that we will be able to make the Halifax situation attractive to the new owners. We will work with all of those who are prepared to work with us to put forward the business case to which you have referred that will make Nova Scotia, and Halifax in particular, attractive to significant activity within the new corporate structure.

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

HURRICANE JUAN - SENIORS: ASSISTANCE - DETAILS

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the 168 residents of Sir John Thompson senior complex have been without power since Sunday; until last night there were no emergency lights in the hallways despite regulations that require emergency lights in those areas. These residents have had no contact with emergency officials, except for the Red Cross who yesterday dropped off water and granola bars in the common area. Unfortunately, residents in wheelchairs don't have access to the common area. Now people like Ken Carroll are at a greater disadvantage because they use a battery-operated scooter and he can't recharge his scooter. He told me he feels trapped in his own building.

[Page 216]

The real tragedy from Hurricane Juan is the people who have been left in the dark, not just by the hurricane itself but by this government. My question to the Premier is, what is being done to reach out to provide meaningful support and information to seniors like Ken Carroll and others who feel trapped in their apartments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question; it is a good question. The government has provided a series of contacts that people can take advantage of if, in fact, they are in unusual circumstances as a result of the power failure in Halifax and in other areas across the province. If the member opposite could categorize those individual requirements, we can provide the member opposite with the telephone numbers that can be accessed to provide specific help in a specific instance.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, there are countless Ken Carrolls across this province who are without electricity, and it is the responsibility of this government to provide a level of leadership to find those people in their apartment buildings and to provide them with the support that they need. These people need electricity; they also need outside support and information; they need safe and nutritious meals; and they definitely need their medication.

People like Ellen Fahey, of the same building, who ventured out to the grocery store just in the last day and became ill in the store and had to be assisted back to her building because she didn't have her medication. The pharmacy was without power. My question to the Premier is, what is the Premier and his government doing to ensure that the Ellen Faheys and the Ken Carrolls are receiving proper personal attention in every building throughout Nova Scotia that doesn't have electricity?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can provide the member opposite with the contact numbers that will allow people to contact government if they have specific requirements that are being generated as a result of being without power. Those contacts are available. One of the responsibilities that we all have as MLAs is to seek out these people in our constituencies and provide them with the proper information. We're doing it in our constituency and I would hope you're doing it in yours.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier hopes that everyone in Nova Scotia receives the newspaper or watches TV or listens to the radio, and it's clear that the blackout is happening to more than just the 100,000 Nova Scotians, it's happening with this government that doesn't understand that people don't have electricity. This is an emergency - although I'm reminded the Premier doesn't consider it an emergency - this is about more than just restoring power and it's about more than just having a phone number to call to have information received. Nova Scotia Power is not charged with the responsibility of leading this government, this government is charged with that responsibility. So for people without electricity, especially the more vulnerable Nova Scotians, it's about finding simply the ways to get by. Mr. Premier, what are you doing to support the basic needs of Nova Scotians, to give them information, to provide them with support they so desperately need right now?

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[2:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services has some specific information that will be of interest to the member opposite.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving us a chance to talk about some of the things that have been done and some of the things that have been put in place. Of course, as the Premier pointed out, when one does become aware of somebody who is in need of assistance, it's very helpful to connect them with the appropriate organization.

I think the member opposite would probably know that the department works with various organizations, we have a contract with the Red Cross to provide emergency food and shelter and this, in fact, was in place. They set up an emergency shelter on Gottingen Street during this time, we are also working with HRM's emergency response organization and they have four emergency shelters. It's good that the Leader of the Liberal Party recognizes that we did not wait for everybody to come in, we were out there delivering food and water to seniors' apartments. In fact, we went to some of the public housing complexes which we thought were in need and we were trying to assist them.

Mr. Speaker, we could go on at some length and perhaps we will have a chance to do so further on in Question Period. I thank the Leader of the Liberal Party for allowing me to point out some of these steps that have been taken.

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

INSURANCE - HOME & TENANT COVERAGE:

AVAILABILITY - PLANS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for homeowner's insurance. Hurricane Juan brought to light one of the crucial problems that we have in this province, the increased difficulty in getting home and tenant insurance. My office has been contacted by a single mother who could not get home insurance, as an example. Luckily, she escaped damages from the hurricane but she is worried about what happens next time. My question, Mr. Minister, is, what plans does your government have to address the availability of home and tenant insurance?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to the Leader of the Opposition that this is an appropriate time to make that observation, since we have a bill on the floor of the House, the Automobile Insurance Reform Bill, which will set in place a review board for insurance matters related to automobiles but, as well, that same board will be monitoring the casualty, property, and liability insurance issues, as brought forward by

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members of the public, and through the consumer advocate we have at the present time in the Department of Environment and Labour.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister just didn't hear or didn't want to hear the question. These are people who can't get insurance, to whom home and tenant insurance is not available. All the review boards in the world aren't going to make any difference to them. If you can't get the insurance in the first place, or you can't afford it, then there's a problem. On Sunday, Hurricane Juan tore the roof off an apartment building of a couple who just the week before had been denied insurance. They had been told by this government that they should rely on private insurance to deal with damage caused by the hurricane. My question, Mr. Minister, if that is your position, how are you specifically going to address the concerns of people who have been denied homeowner and tenant insurance?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, insurance is a very individual matter and I would appreciate it if the honourable Leader of the Opposition would provide to me the name of this couple who were unable to obtain insurance and I will pass it on to the Superintendent of Insurance and we'll look into that matter.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is being willfully blind to a situation that exists right across this province. It's not about one person, it's about all of the people in this province who cannot access homeowner's insurance, who cannot access tenant insurance.

That is the problem. Yet this government, today, has issued a news release saying that relief will not go - disaster relief will not go - to those who could have had insurance, regardless of whether or not they were denied. My question is this, why is it that this government has brought forward a disaster relief program that will disenfranchise the very people who need it the most?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Opposition seems to be very long on rhetoric but very short on action. I have already advised the honourable member of what he should be doing. He also has EMO that he can contact. I would say that perhaps the Leader of the Opposition should recognize that he is also an MLA representing people.

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

HURRICANE JUAN - PREM.:

PRESS CONFERENCE - OCCURRENCE INFO.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Sir, have you called for or held a press conference since this disaster began?

THE PREMIER: No.

[Page 219]

MR. GRAHAM: Have you done a formal tour, Mr. Premier, of the affected areas, either on foot or by helicopter, a formal tour, sir?

THE PREMIER: I well appreciate that particular question. Yes, on Monday, I toured my own area of the province, Pictou County, and viewed the extensive damage. On Monday, as well, I toured some of the heavily damaged areas in Truro. Yesterday I toured some of the west end of the peninsula here in Halifax and as well have been over on the Dartmouth side looking at the damage over there. In the hours leading up to the House today I did an aerial surveillance of the CBRM area. As well, I was accompanied by the Minister responsible for EMO. So the answer to that question is yes. (Interruptions)

MR. GRAHAM: I appreciate the answer. There are times when Question Period really . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on the final supplementary.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, sometimes Question Period is about asking questions and finding answers, something that Nova Scotians have had dear trouble finding when it comes to this disaster.

Mr. Speaker, the question that we have for the Premier is quite simple. What coordination is being provided to people on the ground who require it, actual information. If they don't have electricity, they don't have a radio, they don't have a television and they are not receiving a newspaper, what leadership is being provided?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for EMO.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, this government, through Emergency Measures Organization, which I might explain to the member opposite encompasses not only this provincial government and every department. It encompasses all levels of municipal government as well as federal agencies, as well as the Red Cross, as well as rescue. It certainly includes, at this point, the Armed Forces as well as our health services. They are carefully coordinated and have been working on the lead-up to Hurricane Juan since last Friday. Since the hurricane was over in the wee hours of Sunday morning, all those dedicated individuals and volunteers - huge numbers, I might add - have been working tirelessly not only to provide information directly to the media through news releases from the various agencies as well as press conferences that I have attended. As well this government made the effort yesterday, since it was so crucial to get to people that may have not talked to their neighbour, may not have had batteries for their radio, emergency numbers were supplied to the member opposite. They were supplied to every member in this House so that when they ran into those circumstances or encountered them, as the member is concerned about, they would be able to distribute those numbers.

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I think, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member's question is a good one but the information is being provided with all means possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

HURRICANE JUAN - STATE OF EMERGENCY:

DECLARATION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Emergency Measures. The minister is empowered to declare a state of emergency in some or all of the province by Section 12.1 of the Emergency Measures Act. To be clear, the minister can declare a state of emergency in advance of the actual event. But the pre-hurricane attitude is evident from a news report posted at 1:56 p.m. this past Friday, which was headlined, Juan to Bring Showers to Province. Why did the minister not declare a state of emergency in advance of this hurricane in order to provide leadership in urging people to prepare in every possible way?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is certainly well aware if he had the opportunity to glance at or read or study in-depth papers such as The Chronicle-Herald on last Saturday and Sunday. On both occasions they listed the necessities of being prepared boldly on the front page in colour, being prepared for a hurricane, what precautions to take and certainly every organization connected with EMO was doing their utmost to warn people of the dangers of the approaching hurricane.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, every Nova Scotian, of course, appreciates how the EMO staff and others have been working flat out to help people deal with the consequences of the hurricane. But it is simply a fact that no Emergency Measures advisories were issued over the weekend. It is now widely understood that in times of crisis, people expect their elected leaders to provide specific advice and accurate information - in this case, in advance. Why did the government decide that its leaders would not take an active role in urging all possible preparation for the mis-emergency and why did the minister decide not to issue advisories over the weekend?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the member opposite is a bit confused on advisories and what EMO means. EMO is the culmination of all provincial agencies, all municipal agencies dealing with rescue, fire, health, social services. All those groups were at a state of preparedness, all forms of the media that could be used during that time were advising the residents of this province that a hurricane was imminent, to take precautions, to ensure that they had staples, batteries - all the precautions were taken. The advisement to the citizens was made in those media forms. Certainly the member opposite can't deny that.

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MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, in the United States where hurricanes are much more common, the authorities have been willing to and they routinely issue warnings in advance and they ask people to take precautions when they think that they're in the path of a hurricane. Other governments have sought the active co-operation of broadcasters, newspapers to provide every possible warning and detailed advice rather than leaving people to interpret weather forecasts for themselves. What I would like to know from the minister is, how will he and his government review its role and consider other measures that can be taken whenever a major emergency is anticipated?

MR. FAGE: Again, I guess the important thing is to point out to the honourable member, those radio stations throughout Nova Scotia, that were personned on Sunday afternoon rather than a recorded broadcasting, was initiated by this government, by EMO, by this minister, in conjunction with storm warnings. The articles supplied to newspapers, the recommendations, were put there because EMO was doing their job and the situation was constantly monitored with as much information as possible being supplied to the general public, as well as all people involved in EMO, ensuring that they had access to materials, supplies, the centres were open and that warnings were going out to people asking them not to be near water's edge - such as Peggys Cove, Lawrencetown, waterfronts. Those actions were all taken. Obviously the member opposite must have been doing something else on Sunday last.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Just a reminder to all members to direct their questions and answers through the Speaker, please, as opposed to directly to each member.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

HURRICANE JUAN - PATH:

EMO MINISTER - AWARENESS TIME FRAME

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. It is clearly evident that the appropriate emergency procedures were not in place for Hurricane Juan. We only have to look at how much advance warning was given to the citizens of Nova Scotia that Hurricane Juan was on its way. My question to the minister is very simple, Mr. Minister, when were you personally aware that Hurricane Juan was going to hit Nova Scotia?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously the hurricane, once it had formed late last week, EMO was aware of it. Certainly, as minister responsible, preparations began late Thursday, continued through Friday, Saturday and Sunday. I would say to the member opposite, I certainly hope that he was able to obtain a copy of The Chronicle-Herald and read of that event on Saturday and Sunday also.

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MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. The minister did not issue a press release until 5:07 p.m. on the evening of September 28th. They didn't even start evacuating citizens who were in harm's way until the hurricane was on our doorsteps. The minister may not know this, but a popular way for notifying citizens that an emergency is on the horizon is in the form of a crawl along the bottom of one's television screen. We all know that the people like to watch TV on Sunday nights. So my question to the minister is, when did you first authorize the use of a crawl to be used on our local TV stations, such as ATV, CBC and Global, and what was the time that it first appeared?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member again for his question. I would also like to read from this document, and I will certainly table it. This is Saturday, September 27th, and I assume the member opposite has ATV available on his channels as well. This is EMO advising Maritimers to get ready. This is Sheilah Tulloch reporting for EMO and the minister. "You should review an emergency kit. Things that should be in it include a supply of water, battery powered radio, a flashlight, extra candles, matches, food, things you may need in case the power goes out. Homeowners are also advised to remove any dead branches from trees and to secure any loose objects like lawn chairs and barbeques. Finding a safe spot for the family in case of any emergency is also being advised." Ken Kirkwood, National Hurricane Centre. "It's going to be a very significant storm as it approaches Nova Scotia. As I mentioned, we're going to have wind warnings out for pretty much all of mainland Nova Scotia. Heavy rainfall warnings are out for Nova Scotia as well." These are just a number of the ATV reports supplied on Saturday in the lead up. I assume that the honourable member has a TV.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I know a lot of people who don't take The Chronicle-Herald, a lot of them. My final question is to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. It may be interesting to some to know that the Manitoba Government issued a press release yesterday from their Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. They are establishing a new joint emergency alert system so Manitobans will receive information on potential emergencies in a more timely manner. No doubt they watched how the Tory Government in Nova Scotia fumbled on Sunday evening and apparently do not want to make the same mistakes. My question to the minister is, will the minister finally admit to Nova Scotians that under his direction, that the EMO was clearly unprepared to handle the emergency that arose from the effects of Hurricane Juan?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would assume the honourable member will have the Manitoba Legislature and minister put that out on TV, in the newspaper and possibly radio as well to report that to the citizens, but in regard to his question, I would like to table this as well: Hurricane Juan turns towards Nova Scotia - a byline on Saturday, September 27th, The Halifax Chronicle-Herald Limited - a tropical visitor is heading our way, straight for Nova Scotia, packing winds of 120 kilometres; the same is expected to dump rain and water on parts of Nova Scotia. The byline with it on the side: The provincial Emergency Measures

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Organization says things are the same as reported by the reporter and that a hurricane storm approaches the province. Obviously the papers in this province report what the government and EMO supply to the citizens. The ATV News does. Obviously the Opposition didn't have a chance on the weekend to see it.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - HURRICANE JUAN:

COASTAL COMMUNITIES ASSISTANCE - DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries and I would like to table photographs of the wharf in the historic Village of Prospect. I know I'm not allowed props. This is the before, this is the after, and I'm going to table them now. These Nova Scotians need help. They need help cleaning up the debris before they can even start to replace damaged wharves, buildings, and from where I was this morning and where the member for Halifax Atlantic is currently, time to actually replace important parts of their lives. It's an emotional, scary opportunity when you see people who have lived in that community their entire life break down and talk about how lucky they are. So my question to the minister is, what immediate help can these Nova Scotians living in coastal communities expect from your department immediately?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: I want to thank the member for the question and I did spend a fair amount of time the last two days surveying the damage across this province, whether it be in the agricultural sector in Stewiacke, Musquodoboit and the Colchester areas and, of course, this morning going down and checking out the areas of Sambro, Prospect, Herring Cove and those areas. It's horrific. It is absolutely horrific to see the damage that this hurricane has provided for us.

It is a tribute to the fishermen and the people in those areas that they did survive this, that there is no loss of lives. I know they did spend a fair amount of time watching their equipment, watching their homes, watching their vessels and making sure that there were no more losses than there were. We are doing an inventory at this point to find out what the losses are, to have a better handle on that so that when we do sit down with our federal counterparts, when the Minister responsible for EMO will be sitting down with them, that we will have a good idea of what we need to provide for these fishermen.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, today I hear the soothing words from the rookie Cabinet Minister. I actually realized, at the time I thought he was going to say I feel your pain. Yet I want to inform that minister of this press release from the Minister responsible for EMO in which it says, and I will table this so the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries will realize feeling the pain is not going to help considering the words that are on this paper: Under terms of the province's disaster assistance policy, help is only available for uninsurable damages. This means that if losses sustained in the hurricane are or could have

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been insured through personal or corporate insurance, then they are not eligible. Mr. Minister, what did you tell those fishermen, what does this mean to them now?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I just want to say that's a very pointy finger. It is very important for us to get out there. This is a very serious issue and I know it is and that's why I was out there trying to understand the impact to the communities. That's why that is ongoing, that's why we are doing an inventory, and that's why we'll be sitting down with the federal minister, as soon as possible, to table the damage and our estimates on repair.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, our fishing communities are made up of real people, like Barry Slaunwhite and Everett Pettipas, who the minister took the time to meet with today. These men and their families want people with power to get things rolling and to come assess the situation in person. My advice to that minister and to the Premier is to set up a community meeting in Sambro, set up a community meeting in the Village of Prospect, set up a community meeting in Terence Bay. Go to those communities and sit and listen to them. Are you prepared to do that, Mr. Minister?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for that suggestion. I will take it under advisement and I will continue to lobby the federal government, through our Minister responsible for EMO, to help the fishermen. I just want to preface this also by saying my father is a fisherman and has been a fisherman for close to 40 years. (Interruption) No, he would be very happy that I'm helping out. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has the - order, please. The honourable member will bring himself to order or I will ask him to leave. The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries has the floor.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I understand the problems that these communities are under, the stress that these are under. The lobster season is upon us, it's less than two months away. People have been working very hard getting their equipment ready, their ropes, their buoys. A lot of these guys have lost their buoys, their ropes, and all of their equipment, so I understand what they're going through. We are going to be helping them as best we can in the days to come. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - HURRICANE JUAN: SURGERIES BACKLOG - PLAN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As we all know, Hurricane Juan has left a path of destruction that is quite visible as you travel throughout HRM and surrounding areas. What is not so visible is the impact that

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Hurricane Juan had on those individuals who were scheduled for elective surgeries. Many surgeries were cancelled and in addition, doctors have patients who can't be discharged to homes because they do not have power there. My question to the minister is, has the Department of Health provided any assistance to the capital district in developing an action plan that will deal with the backlog of surgeries?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are in constant contact with the Capital District Health Authority. The problems to which the honourable member refers, of course, is a problem that cannot be resolved through the waving of a wand. There are some very real difficulties that have to be overcome, in order for the surgeries to get back on schedule. We are working with the authorities, the capital health people, and the hospitals to ensure that as quickly as possible the surgeries are rescheduled and things can move back toward a normal situation.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, in addition to the surgeries and the backlog, equally serious is the issue regarding emergency rooms as well. Because of the power outage, many doctors' offices are closed and people are finding themselves arriving at emergency rooms and waiting 10 to 12 hours to be seen. Some are leaving without receiving any assistance and this has put a strain on an already strained health care system. My question to the minister is, what contact has the minister had with the capital district to provide assistance in dealing with the emergency room situation?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question and as I indicated previously, with respect to the issue of surgeries, we are in constant contact with the authorities to provide whatever assistance we can, to monitor the situation and to ensure that we can be as responsive as we need to be in assisting them in returning to normal.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I think the situation requires more than just monitoring right now. Mr. Minister, I can't believe you haven't taken any action to help assist with at least the emergency room situation. You could provide funding so that the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre could stay open, for instance, a little later to deal with the backlog. You could set up and broadcast the telephone line, so that people could relay their symptoms, perhaps - I'm just suggesting - and receive advice, until all the doctors' offices are open again. Or you could make contact with other health districts to see if they could perhaps assist with surgeries. Just some ideas for the minister.

Mr. Speaker, it all requires additional money, and here we go, your $155 cheque is coming back to haunt you once again. My question to the minister is, why is the minister more content with saving money than addressing the health care needs of HRM?

[Page 226]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I do not accept the premise of the honourable member's question.

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

HURRICANE JUAN - ASSISTANCE:

FED./PROV. TALKS - DETAILS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. There's no question that Hurricane Juan cut a swath through the middle of this province. Yet the approach of Nova Scotia's federal Cabinet Minister seems to be that any assistance to fishermen, farmers and others affected in Nova Scotia is going to come out of existing ACOA programs, including the Atlantic Innovation Fund. This statement is, quite frankly, outrageous, and it totally fails to understand the scope of this situation. My question to the Premier is, what discussions has the Premier had with Mr. Thibault about the fact that any federal assistance needs to be over and above existing programs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do appreciate the question because it allows me to report to the House that in conversations this morning that I and the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act had with two federal Cabinet Ministers, Mr. Thibault and Mr. McCallum, we indicated that there were situations that did seem to fall outside of current programs. We asked them to look at those kinds of situations and see if additional funding, outside of existing programs, could be made available.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, whenever we talk about a disaster and damages from those disasters, that's an emergency and the funds must come from an emergency fund. If we take it from existing funds, like ACOA or the Atlantic Innovation Fund, someday, someone is going to be shortchanged. That money is meant for things, non-disaster, non-emergency related. My question to the Premier is, what does the Premier plan to do to ensure that Nova Scotia gets its rightful share of federal funding, emergency funding to help fishermen, farmers and others affected in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is a good question. I believe we made a significant step forward today in having a direct dialogue with two federal Cabinet Ministers, articulating for them and to them the problem as we understand it today. They have been receptive to the things that we presented to them today. Obviously if they are to make an extraordinary response, which means a response outside of established programs, they have to get some kind of Cabinet approval. Today we were able to lay out for them a framework of a problem as we see it.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I do want to acknowledge that the Premier has begun the process of dealing with the federal minister who clearly seems to not appreciate the need for emergency funding with regard to this disaster. In particular we can talk about the disaster

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financial assistance funding, but that only covers a bare minimum of the problems that are going to be faced by Nova Scotians in the coming months, to be told that existing funding from other programs means that somebody at some point will be shortchanged, and we in the Opposition will not stand for that. My question to the Premier is, will he commit in this House that his government will stand up to the federal government and will continue to put pressure on them to ensure that emergency funds are available for an emergency and that existing funds will not be used?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the first part of the question is yes. I'm uncertain as to exactly what the member was driving at in the second part of his question, but if he was asking is the government prepared to negotiate additional funding outside of disaster relief with the federal government, to mitigate what has happened on Sunday night and Monday morning, the answer to that, again, is yes.

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

EMO - HRM NON-ESSENTIAL EMPLOYEES:

STAY HOME ADVISORY - CONFIRM

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. On Monday and Tuesday of this week, while under a municipal state of emergency, homeowners were attempting to clean up their properties and remove hazards. Everyone was working hard - no one had any other option. The province through EMO advised all non-essential employees to stay at home on Monday and Tuesday unless contacted by a supervisor asking them to come in, and I will table the press release EMO sent about this. Of course it's understandable that they would have as few people as possible interfering with the cleanup efforts and for safety and efficiency. Will the minister confirm for this House that the province through EMO advised all non-essential employees in the HRM to stay at home on Monday and Tuesday?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Yes, all provincial employees in the HRM area, as well as some other affected areas, were advised to remain at home if they were not essential on Monday and Tuesday of this week.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, you will have to excuse me if I'm perplexed with the minister's answer. You see, even though the province directed people not to come to work at some provincially funded agencies, they're now telling employees who obeyed the EMO directive to stay at home that they may be docked pay. I will table two memos sent to the employees of the IWK Hospital which say that they would be paid for day shifts on Monday, but would be forced to take vacation days if they did not return for work on Monday night or Tuesday. My question to the minister is, can you explain to this House why provincially funded agencies are docking people's pay because they obeyed a directive issued by EMO?

[Page 228]

MR. FAGE: I think the member will find - first of all, on total clarity, there was a proviso with the Capital District Health Authority's employees that they are the employer, and they were dealing with those employees, but I certainly would like to have a copy of the memo so that I can have it investigated further, Mr. Speaker.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I table those for the minister. Many of the affected employees are just returning to work today. Some may still be at home dealing with the disastrous aftermath of the hurricane - they may not even know of this unfair loss of pay. Mr. Minister, all of these employees deserve an explanation of why they are being penalized for following rules set out by the province. Will the minister undertake to report back to the House by tomorrow about how widespread this practice is across provincially funded agencies and what will he do to correct it?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I guess I misunderstood the IWK when I made my statement earlier. It is not part of the Capital Health District and I just wanted to correct that in my previous answer, but I certainly have no problem of reporting back tomorrow on what the honourable member has raised.

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

SERVICE N.S. & MUN. REL. - HURRICANE JUAN:

PRICE GOUGING - PREVENTION DETAILS

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. During times of crisis consumers may be placed at a disadvantage with regard to supply and demand. In the Emergency Measures Act it states that during a state of emergency no person in the province may charge higher prices for food, clothing, fuel, equipment, medical or other essential supplies, or for the use of property, services, resources or equipment than the fair market value of the same thing immediately before the emergency. My question to the minister is, what is his department doing to ensure that there is no price gouging as a result of Hurricane Juan?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. We will work closely with EMO and with the other departments affected to ensure that that doesn't happen and apply the full extent of the law.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, we have had calls from people who claim that batteries are being sold individually at higher prices and that rooms in some hotels that were going for one rate last week are more expensive this week. At the very least, the minister's department should tell Nova Scotians that it is illegal to charge more in a state of emergency. Will the minister bring the full weight of consumer protection to bear upon people who may be trying to unfairly profit from this disaster?

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MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I would ask him that if he has specific information about those types of claims that he provide it to our departments. Yes, we will apply the full extent of the law.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, many homes will need electricians to get ready for new power. The backlog will be as much as nine days because electrical contractors are stretched to the limit. People still need batteries, food and lodging. Can the minister pledge to do everything possible to ensure that laws are obeyed in this state of local emergency so that consumers are protected?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the answer is yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - POTABLE WATER:

ACTION - TIME FRAME

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Making sure we have clean drinking water and safe water should be an absolute priority right now. Yesterday I raised my concerns in this House. In response, the minister said that if people are worried they should boil their water for three minutes. To date this government still has not issued boil water advisories or outlined how they're going to help thousands of homeowners with water quality problems. My question through you, Mr. Speaker to the minister is, when can we expect your government to take action on this critical matter?

HON. KERRY MORASH: I'd like to thank the member for the question and we'll have information going out this afternoon.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the government issued a release warning people about food safety, candle use, appliances and even smoke detectors - but no warning was given about water quality even though 40 per cent of Nova Scotians rely on well water that may have been affected by the storm. So we need three things - an immediate boil water advisory, subsidized water tests and an interim water supply for those in need. Mr. Minister, how long will we have to wait for these three safety measures to be implemented?

MR. MORASH: I would like to thank the member for the question. As I mentioned yesterday, anybody who has any concern who has a well or a private well should certainly take every precaution if they believe that the water has been breached and is contaminated in any way and make sure they do not consume that water. Currently the fire departments have set up stations and will provide safe drinking water for people who are in need and they just need to find out the location of their nearest fire department and obtain that water. Thank you.

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MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the minister said he's been talking with his staff about drinking water protection yet we're still waiting for adequate action. It's the responsibility of this government to ensure that we have safe drinking water, especially in times of crisis. Mr. Minister, what is your action plan?

MR. MORASH: Again, I'd like to thank the member for the question. At this point in time, anybody who has any concerns can contact the Department of Environment and Labour and they'll receive advice as to what they should do with regard to wells. Municipal water is certainly being monitored by the municipalities and the Department of Environment. We are confident at this point in time that things are progressing as they should.

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

EMO - SHELTERS: PROVISION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. Yesterday a call was placed to the EMO office looking for information as to where people in the HRM could be directed to receive information. The caller was told that there were no shelters available where people could go and get information. I find that quite shocking. Perhaps this government should take a refresher course from the U.S. on how to be able to establish shelters in times of emergency. My question to the minister is, why did EMO fail to set up any shelters and instead relied on

media to relay information, media that many homes are unable to access?

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, we did set up shelters across this province to receive people who needed refuge from the storm. As of yesterday, the major one here, the Dartmouth Sportsplex, I believe there were 15 residents there. Normally shelters are for people. Telephone lines and media outlets are for information.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, people are receiving all sorts of mixed messages. It's not right. I note with interest that the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act has access to 1,550 volunteers on the ground search and rescue team that can be called out to assist in any number of different emergency situations. My question to the minister is, why has the minister not called out any of these volunteers to assist?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, that's a very important and good question. The situation here certainly isn't one of removing - thank goodness - injured people from buildings in the aftermath. We had, unfortunately, two fatalities, which is very disheartening. As far as injuries in the aftermath, of that sort, after the hurricane had proceeded, the major priority was re-establishing power. The federal government has now committed over 1,000 troops to the HRM area to help clear brush and

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assist Nova Scotia Power in getting power back up, which is the number one priority, as pointed out by members opposite, for people's lifestyle and well-being.

Those activities for the Army are directed by Nova Scotia Power crews, because, Mr. Speaker, as you well realize, the safety around re-installing and re-charging lines is paramount. The Army is supplying that well-coordinated personnel with specific individuals who have those skills and who can monitor and work with the situation. At this point, the skills of search and rescue are not required.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I believe people's lives are more important than power. Our Leader earlier expressed concerns about the Sir John Thompson Manor. There are countless other facilities like this across HRM. Even if you called out 100 people to knock on each of the doors to see if there was anything that they required or if they were okay, this would have been a great asset, indeed, and comfort to the residents, especially the seniors. My question to the minister is, why has the minister not used his authority to call on the resources that could assist in helping people in the HRM, such as our seniors?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, again, the Emergency Measures Organization is a well-organized and coordinated effort by government agencies, as well as independent agencies, such as the food bank, such as the Red Cross and community centres as well. The HRM is running the information centres in this locale, the same as would happen in Truro, the same as would happen in Lunenburg, the same as would happen in Pictou. That's how the chain of events and command occurs. Here in HRM, seniors in a number of residences have been supplied with food and with drinks while their power is out. Any situations that are called in and reported, between those organizations and Community Services, as pointed out earlier, aid is obtained on an immediate basis.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HURRICANE JUAN - COMMUN. SERV.:

FOOD REPLACEMENT ASSISTANCE - AMOUNTS

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Perhaps one of the most tragic outcomes in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan is the amount of spoiled food that families have been forced to discard. For many people it is an inconvenience, but for low-income families, seniors and those on social assistance and the disabled, it is a crisis. Yesterday the minister advised the people on employment support and income assistance simply to call their caseworker. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how much assistance can families and individuals expect to receive to help replace the lost food?

[Page 232]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for raising this important question. It is true that last Friday was the date for the monthly social assistance cheque, and as such, for those who buy on a monthly basis and put it in the freezer, it can lead to a serious situation with the extended power outage. As I did point out yesterday, the caseworkers are there to assist their clients. Everybody's case is a little different from their neighbour's. There is a basic amount of $50 per family, and then it goes up based on the number of children. That's just an initial assist, and if that's not sufficient to address the problem, they should get back to their caseworker and we will work with them.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to know how the minister calculated that kind of a method to develop the $50 basic amount to each one of those families, and if the minister will table that tomorrow in this House. Louise Butler is a disabled person and she is a diabetic. For several months she purchased meat and vegetables when they were on sale, filling her freezer with enough food to help her through the winter, when she will face added expenses such as heating and electricity. Yesterday she had to throw out the entire contents of her freezer, which represents months worth of food. I ask the Minister of Community Services, his department is telling people that they will get $50, how does he expect Louise Butler to eat all winter on that amount of $50?

MR. MORSE: Thank you, honourable member. That is exactly why you have caseworkers. That's why you go to them, you explain your circumstances, how you managed to build up your food supply for the winter when the heating season kicks in. That's exactly the reason why you should go to your caseworker. I appreciate the member opposite giving me the chance to explain that yet again, that everybody's situation is unique. The $50 will get them through for a few days. If that's not sufficient, then by explaining those circumstances to the caseworker, the appropriate provisions can be put in place.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the honourable minister that the number of calls that have come through my office this morning, the maximum amount so far that the Department of Community Services has offered is $50. That's not even a meal on a plate. This House receives $65 per diems. Our office has been flooded with calls from people in a similar situation. They literally have nothing to eat. Families bought food meant to last them a month longer and now they have nothing. My question to the minister is, will you assure this House that adequate support and assistance will be there to ensure that these Nova Scotians do not go hungry because of Hurricane Juan?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member once again for allowing me to have the chance to assure those people who have been hurt by the aftermath of Hurricane Juan by loss of their power that by working through their caseworker, we will address their individual circumstances to assure them that they will not be without in the aftermath of the hurricane.

[Page 233]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

INSURANCE - PROPERTY INSURANCE: PLAN - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, for over a year now we have heard from Nova Scotia homeowners, especially seniors and low-income earners, about their home insurance either being cancelled or being faced with huge increases. This government's record of dealing with issues in a timely manner is tenuous at best, especially when one is reminded of auto insurance. This has been an issue that has been pressing on this province for well over a year and long before Hurricane Juan hit the shores of Nova Scotia. My question, therefore, to the minister responsible for insurance is, can the minister please explain to this House what plans, if any, he has in place to address property insurance in order to protect Nova Scotia homeowners?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the member points out, the problem with property insurance has been around for quite some considerable time. I would point out it's not a problem confined to Nova Scotia, it is one that is Canada-wide and it's one in which the federal government also has a role. We are actively pursuing the establishment of an automobile review insurance board at the present time and part of that board's mandate will be to monitor and to accept recommendations as to what action can be taken to protect the public of Nova Scotia when they purchase property, casualty and liability insurance.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, the minister has just admitted that this has been a long-standing problem for well over a year. Today is October 1st, if we're to go with the minister's solution, he's already indicated to us that his insurance review board would not be up and running before January 2004 at best. So it's been a year, it's now October 1st and we're being asked to tell Nova Scotians to wait at least another three or four months. Many Nova Scotia seniors and low income earners in this province go to bed at night without any property insurance. They've had insurance, in some cases, 40 years and have been suddenly cut off. To tell these people to wait until an insurance board is set up in January is clearly unacceptable. Once again, it's a sign of how this government is dragging its feet in dealing with issues that affect Nova Scotians. Therefore, my question to the minister is, since the trend has clearly shown that increased premiums for property insurance were well in place in Nova Scotia long before Hurricane Juan arrived - is this minister today prepared to allow property insurance to reach a crisis situation before he's prepared to take immediate action?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I find it strange that the member for Richmond, who is encouraging the government to move with great rapidity, when he was speaking of auto insurance he was recommending that it go to the URB for resolution. If I remember correctly, the last time the matter of insurance went to URB, it took a year for resolution. We at least

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have moved on that front with the establishment of an insurance review board which will be up and running as soon as we get this bill through the House. We will be in the process of appointing members and establishing their mandate and having them up and running. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest to you that this board will be very active in all realms of insurance in this province.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the insurance review board that he speaks of does not exist in this province. The minister knows that - there are no members, there's no office, there's no phone number - although they're big on phone numbers. Why don't you give us the phone number for the insurance review board? It just doesn't exist and it will not exist for at least another four months yet. Its mandate is still not clear - it has gone from auto insurance now to home insurance and everything else is going to be thrown on it also leaving Nova Scotia homeowners to go to bed tonight without insurance wondering how much longer must they wait until this government is prepared to take action.

Being that the minister is clearly not interested, my final supplementary is to the Premier. When is the Premier prepared to finally take a leadership role in this province and ensure Nova Scotia homeowners who have had property insurance all their lives and have been suddenly cut off, as to when this government will take action so that Nova Scotians can get property insurance as they've had for years?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does bring up by way of his question the new dimension that Hurricane Juan will place on property insurance. You only have to do a minimum amount of touring around the province to look at the amount of house damage that has occurred on Sunday night and Monday morning. The problem, in fact, has become even more acute. What the member opposite I think is urging the government to do and exactly what the government is going to do is to put in place, with all possible speed, an independent insurance bureau or review board that will deal with all aspects of insurance. We will do that immediately on passage of the bill, so I would urge members of the House to expedite passage of the bill.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

EDUC. - HURRICANE JUAN: SCHOOLS - DAMAGE LIST

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. I learned that Tallahassee Community School in Eastern Passage will be closed for probably six to eight weeks, at least, due to the storm damage from Hurricane Juan. I'm also told that there will probably be a community meeting tomorrow night to discuss future arrangements with regard to that school, and we've heard other stories of other schools - or rumours of other schools - that may have been damaged by the storm. So I want to ask the Minister of

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Education, can he provide us with a detailed list of the schools that have been damaged and where they are?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, Tallahassee Community School was probably the hardest hit in the province. It lost its roof and there is going to have to be some adjustment made for that population for six to eight weeks. The board is meeting with the people tomorrow night and they've been discussing it. The South Shore, all schools open today and reporting no service disruption; Tri-County, all schools open, no disruptions; Strait, all schools open, no disruptions; Halifax Regional School Board, all schools closed today until the end of the week.

What they are doing is a lot of that is power-related, Mr. Speaker, and they've got to get in there and they've got to allow 24 hours to examine the schools - and the other thing, as people would know, particularly with Primary kids, Primary young people, if they are walking to school and there are wires down, the streets have to be safe before they can be allowed to proceed to school. (Interruption) The CSAP schools - I thank the member for Cape Breton Centre for that helpful intervention - no damage to those schools, they are closed; Chignecto-Central, the schools are closed; and a number of schools - all schools in Pictou County, with the exception of River John Consolidated, are open - and I understand that that's a power problem.

In Cumberland County all schools with the exception of Wallace and Wentworth - I understand that's in your constituency, Mr. Speaker - I do believe that's a power problem, again no physical damage to the schools; Cape Breton-Victoria, no damage to the schools there; Annapolis Valley, we have not heard of any reports of damages there; colleges and universities . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I really appreciate the information for the House but perhaps the honourable minister could table that and all members could read it.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on your first supplementary.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I was actually hoping maybe the minister could identify specific schools other than Tallahassee. I think we've heard rumours of Sackville High School, for example, being damaged and I was hoping the minister might be able to provide us with some information as to which schools were specifically damaged.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the only two schools in Halifax County I've heard of with specific major damage have been Tallahassee and Sackville High. In the case of Sackville High what happened is that the roof I think came off the gym, or something happened and it may provide some displacement of students, but that has not yet been determined. We have not had reports of severe damage to other schools that would prevent them from reopening.

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MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, obviously there are a lot of questions surrounding those two schools, and potentially others, when the power comes back to them. One of the biggest questions is who is going to be paying for the needed repairs, and cash-strapped schools across the province are wondering how they're going to deal with the disaster - and including resource teachers who are worried about the impact on the classroom and on resource teachers. So my final question to the minister is, can the minister give assurances today that the province will be stepping in to fund any repairs of these schools and that they will not be coming out of budgets directed to classroom activity?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, could I add something to the last question? I forgot there was a school in my own constituency that lost three windows, a high school there.

Mr. Speaker, we don't know the financial extent of those damages and whether they're insured or whether they're not insured at this particular time, but I want to assure the honourable member that money will not be coming out of classrooms to effect those repairs.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: C.B. WEST ROAD PLAN - TABLE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on July 20, 2003, the councillor for the local community where I reside issued a letter to all the residents, indicating that he had developed, with friends and an engineer, a four-year roads plan for the roads within Cape Breton West. That plan had been provided to the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works on July 3, 2003, for his review and approval. I will table this letter for the present minister. I would ask if the present Minister of Transportation and Public Works would be willing to confirm if in fact there is such a plan and, if so, will he table it in this House?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will have to check with the previous minister to find out what particular list he was referring to. I can assure the honourable member that if the list is around, he can have it.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister is a little tone deaf. Yesterday he introduced a resolution on this very issue and today I didn't indicate that I was talking about a specific list, I was talking about a four-year plan that was submitted to the minister's office. In fact, it was confirmed in a letter on July 16th by the former minister and signed Michael G. Baker, Q.C., confirming that that four-year plan had been submitted. I would ask if the minister would confirm if in fact the Marion Bridge Highway was included in that four-year plan, and when the government, in fact, plans to pave that roadway?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, a very good question. I will have to take it under advisement.

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MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in 1999 the government indicated in its blue book that it was going to prepare, in its first term, a 10-year non-partisan plan for road construction, maintenance and improvement in the province, and to date we haven't seen that. Yet we have seen evidence of the Marion Bridge Highway paving project being put on hold, a Highway No. 4 paving latest upgrade section being put on hold, the upgrading of the Highway No. 4 that was announced by the former Minister of Economic Development with great fanfare, that has now been put on hold. Many suspect it's to enhance road improvements in Cape Breton North during the last provincial election. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will you please table, in detail, what your roads plan is for Cape Breton County before this House rises in this session?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the honourable member for Cape Breton West that the amount of capital dollars expended by the Department of Transportation and Public Works in Cape Breton this year has just been phenomenal in this past construction year. That also happened in the prior year. If the member wants to contact me about any particular road, he can certainly do so. With regard to Highway No. 4, I think he is well aware that that particular section came in way over the estimation and that is why the contract was not proceeded with.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this is what the minister is telling him, this does happen periodically. I had a road in my constituency that came in way over - it was put out for tender, came in way over, was turned down, put out to tender again and it was still too high so we sent it back again for re-tender. Third time lucky, it came in okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

URB - NSP LINESMEN: COMPLEMENT - REVIEW

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Utility and Review Board Act. Tens of thousands of Nova Scotians remain without power in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan. Nova Scotia Power officials have stated that the hurricane is the worst disaster the utility has ever had to face, and there's no doubt the destruction is massive. However, the number of linesmen at Nova Scotia Power and its ability to repair damaged lines quickly has long been a concern. So I ask the Minister responsible for the Utility and Review Board, will he be recommending staffing levels be reviewed for any possible connection to extended power outages after the hurricane?

[Page 238]

HON. KERRY MORASH: I'd like to thank the member for the question. There's no question that when we finish this ordeal and get power restored, there will be a complete review and we will be reviewing all things that take place to ensure that things are where they should be.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, in 1997, two back-to-back winter storms resulted in massive power outages lasting as long as 78 hours. The Utility and Review Board investigated and found that an insufficient number of linesmen was a major factor in that extended outage. The URB went so far in its 1998 findings to recommend that Nova Scotia Power report back on the cost of returning staff to the 1994 levels. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, can the minister responsible for the URB explain what actions have been taken since then to ensure that Nova Scotia Power has adequate staff to address emergencies such as Hurricane Juan?

MR. MORASH: Thank you for the question. That's information that I'm not aware of at this time, but I will endeavour to review that. It is up to Nova Scotia Power to determine their levels of staffing.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, as of 1998, Nova Scotia Power had cut its linesmen by 30 per cent and further cuts have occurred since then, including 40 apprentice linesmen just last year. So I ask the minister, we have seen the many consequences this week of extended outages - will he request the URB to investigate staffing levels at Nova Scotia Power?

MR. MORASH: Thank you for the question. It wouldn't matter I don't believe how many linesmen we had right now, it wouldn't be enough. We certainly have people that are coming in from other areas to help out with this catastrophe and disaster that we have. I'm sure that Nova Scotia Power will be reviewing their levels of staffing after the storm is complete.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SYDNEY-GLACE BAY HWY.:

CROSSWALKS - ADEQUACY

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. On September 4th Mitchell Caldwell was seriously injured when he was struck by a car when crossing the Sydney-Glace Bay highway. The highway is the link to hospitals, the airport, UCCB, call centres and many shopping centres yet it doesn't have adequate crosswalks and has no sidewalks on one side. I ask the minister, how much longer is the safety of drivers and pedestrians going to go unaddressed on this highway?

[Page 239]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I understand there's an ongoing review of the signage on that highway and as well as with the signage, the requirement for electric traffic signals.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the Kyte's Hill Road intersection on the Sydney-Glace Bay highway has been the scene of multiple collisions and injuries in recent years. Yet, the minister just spoke about the recent evaluation and states the intersection doesn't have enough points to qualify for a set of lights to provide safe access and slow down traffic. I ask the minister, how many more people have to be injured before this dangerous intersection gets a set of lights?

MR. RUSSELL: Certainly the safety of pedestrians and the safety of motorists is the number one priority of our department and we will do our best in every case to keep those numbers at zero.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I tabled a petition today with over 200 signatures of residents who are afraid every time they have to use this intersection. I ask the minister, will you commit to having your staff review this decision in the light of the danger this intersection poses to residents?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there is still a review underway and the department - and I believe it's in co-operation with the municipality of Cape Breton to determine whether or not there are other electric type signals that would alleviate the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH - SELF-MANAGED CARE PROG.:

IMPLEMENTATION - TIME FRAME

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In 1999 your government promised they would implement a province-wide self-managed care program. My question is, when will the province see a self-managed care program implemented in Nova Scotia?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. We are working on a continuous basis with all elements within the health care delivery program toward these objectives and we are making progress.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this program was a pilot program that I'm pleased to say was started by the previous Liberal Government. This program is not only effective in meeting the needs of the consumer, it has also been shown through a pilot project to be

[Page 240]

efficient - it saves money. My question to the minister is, when will they begin the process to implement this province-wide self-managed care program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are moving in that direction now and it's under review. I can say to the honourable member that indeed there have been some programs implemented by the previous government that we deem to be worthwhile and that's one of them.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this government will receive hundreds of millions of dollars from the federal government over the next five years. This program enables people with disabilities to stay in their own homes and not be institutionalized. When can individuals wishing to access this program be able to do so on a province-wide basis?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated previously, we're moving in that direction and as the federal money becomes more available, it will allow us to move that much quicker.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - HURRICANE JUAN:

WATERFRONT RESIDENTS - WARNINGS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Based on media coverage it was clear that some people living on the waterfront were unprepared for the seriousness of the situation they were in when Hurricane Juan struck. Now they are faced with the prospect of cleaning up some very unpleasant materials thrown up out of the harbour. Will the minister tell the House today what warnings were issued to people living on the waterfront before the storm hit and what information is being issued about cleanup precautions now that the storm is over?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the question. There certainly were a lot of warnings that went out with regard to the paper and radio, as the Minister responsible for EMO has mentioned here earlier, to let people know what they could expect. With regard to cleanup, I would suggest that everybody should contact the Department of Environment and Labour if they have a specific concern and I'm sure they will get specific information so that they can take care of the particular problem.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, there are serious potential health hazards involved with some of the materials these residents are finding in their backyards - materials like human waste. What physical and financial assistance is being offered to homeowners to assist with this cleanup so that it is done thoroughly and safely?

[Page 241]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the question. It would be most helpful if specifics of the cases that are being discussed here could be brought to me and we could look at them individually to make sure that they are being addressed as they should be.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, we all know that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. What plans does this government have to ensure that there is broad public education that will prevent unnecessary illnesses and infections?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, certainly there's a lot of work that has been done and a lot of educational information that has been available. There is also educational information that's being distributed as we speak and has been distributed over the past few days and we will continue on forward to make sure that we have adequate information and educational information out there to protect the public.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired. I understand there's an introduction. (Interruptions)

Order, please.

The honourable Premier on an introduction.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would draw to your attention and to the attention of members of the House a special guest in the Speaker's Gallery today. We have with us enjoying the proceedings, Mr. Rob Anders, who is a Canadian Alliance Member of Parliament for Calgary West. He is in the Speaker's Gallery, and we welcome him to Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guest to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 17.

Res. No. 17, CBDC: Pension Disbursement - Refusal Condemn - notice given Sept. 26/03 - (Mr. F. Corbett)

[Page 242]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this is a resolution that I brought forward last Friday and would have hoped at the time that it would have gotten the approval of the whole House, but for reasons unforeseen to me it was nayed. So I think it is appropriate that we bring it back to this House at the earliest possible time, which is today, our Opposition Day. The reason that I brought this forward was very clear, we have something going on here with a federal agency. I had thought our provincial government would support the pensioners of my community, indeed of all the former pensioners who worked for the Cape Breton Development Corporation and their widows.

It's a very simple task, Mr. Speaker. What we asked was that the Cape Breton Development Corporation stop forthwith the fight it has with the widows and the pensioners, and take the excess funds that are in those pension funds and return it to the rightful owners, who are the pensioners and the surviving widows of those employees. During what I thought would have been a fairly straightforward resolution, it was nayed, and so here we are today, dealing with this issue.

Now, when speaking with the federal government on this, it's a very interesting thing. The two local Members of Parliament who are both Liberal say, oh no, we have no jurisdiction over that, we have nothing to do with that. The Cape Breton Development Corporation is an arm's-length corporation, Crown be it, but it's still at arm's-length from us. That's their position on these pension funds. The same group of people had run for office and told all of us how they were going to protect the Cape Breton Development Corporation, but when it comes to the rubber hitting the road, so to speak, they move off that issue. They say no, there's a duly appointed board of directors and we have nothing to do with that. So therefore, we just wash our hands of it.

Well, let's see what they're saying about those funds. Are they funds that are going to help the people in the affected communities due to the closure of the Cape Breton Development Corporation? No, Mr. Speaker, quite the opposite. What the government is going to do is they're going to use this as part of their close-down costs of the Cape Breton Development Corporation. They're taking the hard-earned money of the coal miners from the Cape Breton Development Corporation, taking their hard-earned money and helping to pay down the closure costs, which they began, which the federal government began. So we're not only going to kick you out of work, we're going to take your excess pension funds also. And they believe this is all right. The local MPs stand by and say yes, yes, that's it. It's an arm's-length Crown Corporation. We have no problem with that.

But let's look at some of the complexities or perceived complexities around those pension plans, Mr. Speaker. Now there are two types of pensions, by and large, with the Cape Breton Development Corporation. One was what's commonly referred to as the non-contributory pension, and the other pension is what's commonly referred to as the

[Page 243]

contributory pension, which was brought in later in the mandate of the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

Now, let me talk about the latter first because it mirrors more accurately what we see in businesses and many workplaces today - a 5 per cent contribution by the worker and a 5 per cent contribution by the employer. These funds go into one pot and are to be meted out upon pension as a defined benefit package. So that's probably the easiest one to explain. It's your basic, very fundamental, defined benefit package pension. It's not a money purchase pension. It's a defined benefit package pension which allows, by that fact, it's allowed to accrue and therefore from time to time you will see excesses in that fund.

So what's next is what's commonly referred to, which every employee of the Cape Breton Development Corporation had access to, as non-contributory. The non-contributory was basically a pension plan set up with contractual obligations with various unions and the employer, if you will, paid the full costs. (Interruption) But - as my learned friend over there says, right - the infamous "but" here is how did they arrive at the non-contributory pension? Was it out of the goodness of the employer who said, look, we're going to put in a full unfettered defined pension plan for you? No, that's not it.

What it had been, actually we have to go back quite a few years, almost 90 years, for the essence of how the non-contributory started. I don't want to belabour it that far but by and large what happened was in the struggles in the coalfields back in the early 1920s there were problems. Obviously not just with pensions but over wages and working conditions. One of the aspects that was arrived at for a pension plan through many very arduous contractual negotiations was they arrived at a pension fund predicated on this method of the long ton versus the short ton. I forget the exact number, but I think the visualness of those words describe it. One, you would mine a long ton but it would be sold. It would be theoretically bought from you as a short ton so what you're doing is that excess capital would be going into the business. So if you mined a long ton and say at that time it was being bought for $5 a ton, your endeavours would show it as $3 perhaps. Part of that was that the extra capital that the employer was allowed to gain would go into setting up what's referred to as a non-contributory pension plan. So, in fact, it was a contributory plan, only that it was administered solely by the employer and was not taken off as a seeable or visual deduction every week or every two weeks, however you would be paid. So that's how that arrived.

So we kind of fast forward again to the late 1960s when the federal government sets up a Crown Corporation and, you know, it took them about 30 years to do it. They set up a Crown Corporation to close the Cape Breton coalfields, but indeed what they did, in the time frame in the midst of setting up the Cape Breton Development Corporation, there was, as many of us in this House remember, a problem with OPEC. We had oil shortages and an energy crisis and again coal became much more fashionable. Then we saw the construction of such a thing as the Lingan generating power station which is in my backyard and which

[Page 244]

has just lately been called the heaviest polluter in this province, but that's a whole other issue rather than today's debate.

So we're there and so at this point we have real negotiations going on between the leadership of the Cape Breton Development Corporation and the leadership of the various unions that represented employees with the acknowledgement that the idea of long ton, short ton was still an aspect, it was still on the table and, that was, by the way, how the non-contributory pension fund would be paid for.

[4:15 p.m.]

It brings us here today. Why is the government taking those funds? As I said earlier, the reason they're telling the public is that they're taking those funds to help pay down the closure costs of the Cape Breton Development Corporation, which is evil enough if they had held back on the overall compensation package that they had been paying the miners, which by industry standards was extremely frugal. They did not give them an adequate pension package going out the door. I appreciate the fact that any time you do negotiations and there's a line drawn, there's going to be people one day on one side but one day on the other side of it.

So this was a real problem that the federal government had incurred. They really nickled-and-dimed the employees as they were going out the door. So they're going out the door and they've really been given inadequate pensions. Now we've had these other people out here, who through the auspices of the Devco Pensioners Association, have been fighting this, long before even the outright kind of ownership of Devco's closure was taken over by the federal government. These folks were saying look, there's excess funds in there and we believe that we should have access to them.

Did the federal government help them? No, it fought them every step of the way, even to the point that there is an arbitration system within their pension system to fight this very problem, to talk about what you do with these excess funds. Now, was the federal government up front and honest with these folks and saying look, we all agree, bang, we're going to hit in and we're going to allow the arbitration process that's set down on paper for us to go forward? No. The federal government took these people right to Supreme Court.

Now, kind of at the eleventh hour, for reasons unknown to me, some of the unions got involved and are, to the best of my knowledge, allowing and helping these proceedings with some legal advice, whether they're paying the lawyers directly or not, I'm not sure. Previous to this, there were huge meetings held in and around the coalfields of Cape Breton, where you would actually see lineups of 300 and 400 pensioners and their widows, willing to put their $5 down to be able to take part in a class action suit against the federal government to redeem this money.

[Page 245]

What's interesting about this fight is there is nobody in this area who is going to get wildly rich on this, Mr. Speaker. The estimates run anywhere from about $2,200 to maybe a maximum of $4,000 in what revenues could be gained by these people. We're not talking about any kind of great change in their lifestyle. It would be a little bit of comfort money for them, maybe to help them through this winter coming up and all these other things. That's all we're talking about, on average, here.

But the federal government, and I can only categorize it as an extremely mean-spirited act, has put just another piece of shame on the hardworking coalminers of Cape Breton Island. They weren't satisfied with degrading them by closing the industry. They weren't satisfied with degrading them by giving people who gave years of their lives to that industry inadequate pensions. Now they want to push them down even a bit further. They're saying to the very people who built these towns of New Waterford, Glace Bay, Dominion, North Sydney, Sydney Mines, Reserve, these areas, no, your government would rather take that money and use it where it wants to use it rather than putting it in your hands. We don't respect the hard work that you have done in supplying this province, this country, through times of war, through times of energy crises - that's all out the window now. It's all our money and we don't care what we put you through, we believe we own it, we're taking you to court and we're going to take it from you, and that's shameful, Mr. Speaker.

I believe that governments work because, obviously, they're elected, but when in power have to use a line of compassion towards its people. Mr. Speaker, $2,000 or $4,000 in the pockets of pensioners in and around the coalfields of Cape Breton, I believe will be much more wisely spent in their hands than in the hands of a federal government that has shown how well it can manage money around its gun registry.

That's what we have to look at. That's why I bring this resolution forward. It's not a matter of saying, give us something because we want it. I think if they go to court, they'll prevail. They will prevail, but it's the indignation of it all. It's the fact that they just can't see what's right and we also know very well that through the court process it will be an expensive process. So when they do win, when these pensioners finally come to collect what monies are owed to them, it will probably be halved by the time they get all this together.

This was the reason I brought this forward last Friday. It was my first resolution of this session of the House and it was to show that there has to be a line of compassion. This money - no matter who's right or who's wrong - is best put in the hands of the people who toiled in the coal mines of Cape Breton for this money, and that is the widows and the pensioners, and to give it anywhere else, whether it's to the judicial system or to a government agency, is simply wrong. It's the people in the coalfields of Cape Breton who own and deserve that money and that's where it should go. Thank you.

[Page 246]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a pleasure to welcome you to the Chair. It's the first opportunity I've had to speak with you in the Chair and I certainly look forward to it.

I would like to make a few comments and a few interventions on the motion put forward by the member for Cape Breton Centre. I think the thing we should make clear here at the very first, as the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre referred to the government, I know he was referring to the federal government, but I just want to clarify that for all the people who might be watching, or indeed the people in the Chamber here. I have made the assumption he was referring to the federal government because I think we all agree and understand that it's a federal government responsibility.

I think the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre gave us a fairly good lesson in terms of how this has developed. As he mentioned, in the 1990s when the federal minister cut the funding to Devco, this process was put in place and, as the honourable member knows, there is a process - there is a superintendent - and it's very clearly spelled out in the Pension Act how the process is to go.

I think before I start and make some comments on that, I do want to recognize and say to the honourable member that I am not from the area of Cape Breton and my riding is not in the area of Cape Breton, but we do recognize the severe impact that the Devco closure caused in that area. We do recognize the tradition of coal mining in that area and how the impact of this change involved a lot of people. Indeed, that was the livelihood of a lot of people and they had worked at it for a long time and a family tradition went on in that area.

There is no question, Mr. Speaker, that was a dangerous occupation and we all understand that and it is well known to everybody. I suspect that if those mines were open today, there would still be people working there because there are people who would take on that challenge - they saw it as a way of life and they would continue to take on that challenge.

Before I go too much further, I would like to say at this point that that is one of the things why this government has worked hard to negotiate the relinquishment of the mine leases from Devco, so that Nova Scotians could have control over these resources.

Mr. Speaker, it has been a long time in working on that. The Cape Breton Development Corporation has finally relinquished these leases and it has been a long time to get to there. As part of that, we all understood that Devco had to act responsibly. Now, I think it was interesting to note the member for Cape Breton Centre talked about the contributory and non-contributory plan and indeed the member knows quite well that as we got into the late 1950s and 1960s, those non-contributory plans were becoming quite prevalent across this province. If you look at our major utilities across this province you will

[Page 247]

recognize that they had moved to a non-contributory pension in that base. I think the honourable member would also recognize that they were based on incentive plans. There wasn't some incentive to build it because if the corporation made money, the corporation could put money into the pension plans and indeed they could have the money to invest in those and that would provide the pensions.

The honourable member talked about the non-contributory and the contributory plan. I know the honourable member knows the numbers that I have seen is that there are about 5,800 people in the non-contributory and only 9,900, I believe, in the contributory plan. So, as you said, the weight factor was clearly, the population people, the greater number were in the non-contributory plan.

Mr. Speaker, as I recognized earlier - and we talked about who owns this problem, if you will, or who is involved with this file - I was looking at The Cape Breton Post this year and I noticed the federal member for Bras d'Or-Cape Breton, the MP from there indicated - my reading was the same as the honourable member's - that Devco was arm's-length, so therefore the federal government wasn't involved. I also noted in the newspaper articles from July that the honourable member's federal Leader was in Cape Breton on one occasion and his indication was that he was going to go back and fight - I believe the words were - with the federal government, to try to resolve this problem. So, indeed, he recognized where this debate had to be.

I also noted in some newspaper articles that the Leader of the NDP was in Sydney and he indicated they were going to become an intervener in this (Interruption) An intervener indeed, and they were going to be an intervener in the Supreme Court case. (Interruption) Well, that's where I'm going with this. When the NDP Leader said he was going to be an intervener, I presumed he was talking on behalf of himself. I don't know if he was talking on behalf of the Premier, but I noticed he indicated he was going to become an intervener and so (Interruptions) Oh, he's going to be Premier, okay.

Mr. Speaker, this issue is going to take about four to six months, so the NDP Leader is going to have to hurry along if he's going to be a Premier to be an intervener here, but I presumed when I saw that - as he said he was going to be an intervener - he was going to coach the government. That's why, when I looked at this resolution, the resolution said that you condemn people who are not going to give the pension. The resolution didn't take the next step, which said there was going to be intervener's status or who was going to do it, and I was surprised to see that.

Let's go back to Devco, Mr. Speaker, and let's look at the issues that they have and what they've been doing. One we know, and as we've been working with Devco in terms of the coal leases, we know that Devco has to be responsible for the subsidence. The reclamation and environmental issues and remediation is part of that reclamation, and they have to be involved in that. Also, as we look at the transfer of leases, we have to look at what

[Page 248]

these opportunities could do. These opportunities need to set up legislation to provide an equitable distribution between the employers and the employees and indeed there are examples of areas where people and co-operatives have gone into the leases.

I know the honourable member is well aware that the Cape Breton Miners Co-op, the 30 miners that formed the co-op, with their severance packages, looked at acquiring some of these resources. As these resources become more available, there will be opportunities to acquire them. Just to kind of put this into context, I think we are looking at somewhere in the vicinity of $26 million in terms of the non-contributory plan and the surplus, and $9.1 million in the contributory surplus. Indeed, the first review of this indicated that there were three areas and three people who had to be involved and had to look at these. As I said before, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has to approve the termination of this. Indeed that is what the challenge is now, and the Supreme Court is to direct.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I was interested in the review of the past few years that the honourable member brought to us, as to how the pension plans had developed and how they had formulated. Indeed, going back, as he did, to the early 1990s, how those pension plans had developed. But that brings the question on the issue that's raised here, what is going to happen to the surplus? We all recognize there are formulae, we all recognize there is legislation which governs this.

What this resolution is trying to do is move outside the regulations and to the political will. Indeed it's the political will that the honourable member is speaking to, and he's talking about whether the federal government has the political will to forget all of what's written in the books and all of the regulations and everything, and move to go do that. (Interruptions)

The lawyers can only go so far, and then the people have to enter into this. Mr. Speaker, I do want to state the government's position here. What this government has said on more than one occasion and, as I've indicated before, we know that it's a federal matter. We hope that the federal minister and those other people who are involved will do the right thing for the former employees. Now the right thing - there's a question, they have to evaluate how much. The honourable member said if you take the number of people and divide by the surplus, you come up with $4,000. However, it's up to the Supreme Court to decide if there are real costs that have to be associated with that, and obviously the costs have to be netted out for that.

I think what I'm saying from our government's position is that we hope that the federal government tackles this and does the right thing for those people. I am not in the position to stand here and say that I know there is this cost that has to go to the fund or I know that the fund is up or down now because of the marketplace. I am not in the position

[Page 249]

to say that. The real question here is what is going to happen to that surplus, whatever it might be at the end of the day, in the determination.

The motion is suggesting that we condemn the people who have taken the pensions away from people, but I think the more important issue is that we send a message from here that we think that Devco and the federal government should do the right thing. In essence, that's what I heard the honourable member saying. I heard him saying that he believes it should rightfully rest with the pensioners and the widows. I think from our position we're saying the right thing would be to return that money to those people, calculating whatever cost and whatever details you have to calculate, but at the end of the day you will return it to those people.

Mr. Speaker, I also think that we need to send a message that there are other areas of hope. That's why I raised the Devco leases. There are other areas where people can get involved. There are areas where we're not just talking about perhaps, here's your pension money and that's it, everything is quiet now and everything is going well. There is hope, there are things that are happening for those people, so that they will understand that some of these things are going on.

One of the things that did concern me - and as I mentioned I had an opportunity to look at some of the Cape Breton Post articles surrounding this, and the members from Cape Breton would be well aware of that - is that there seemed to be, when the discussion of the surplus came up, the populous and the people who were on pension seemed to be concerned that perhaps something was going to happen to those pensions that had already been fully vested. I think people have to be fully aware that there's no discussion here about any change in the pensions that are fully vested. It's only, as the honourable member raised, the additional money. I know the honourable member has had an opportunity to assure people down in his area that the pensions they are currently getting are not affected, it would be in addition to.

Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to have this opportunity to enter the debate. The honourable member for Cape Breton has brought a good point to the House and I think it is certainly worthy of discussion. As I say, from our perspective, we believe that the federal government, where the problem lies, should be challenged to do the right thing and hopefully they will.

So, Mr. Speaker, I guess, as we talk about this and as we communicate with the federal government - and the honourable member mentioned that he had spoken to his MP - as we look at the other MPs from our areas, we need to communicate that to them so they meet and discuss this. They can look at how they are going to challenge it. But I did hear the honourable member say that he believes that the court case is already lost. Now maybe that's right, and I think what I heard him say (Interruption) okay, that the case is, I think what I heard him say is that the case is stacked against the pensioners and the widows and that court

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case was going to go on. I don't know if I take that pessimistic a view of it. I think as the court looks at it, as the court looks at the superintendent's report, and the court looks at all of the different issues in here, that perhaps they will draw the same conclusion, that the people who worked on the production side of things, the people who worked to put the money in there, will have a substantive portion of that come back to them.

So I do think, Mr. Speaker, that this issue is something that the court will have to grapple over. I think that as the federal government looks at it, they will probably start to view it in a little different light. After they have gotten the actuary reports, after they have looked at the costs and everything, they will see that this is probably an issue that arose while people were working in Cape Breton and while they were mining the coal and that it will stay with those people. So, as I say, I don't take such a pessimistic view. I think perhaps there are some opportunities here.

But in closing, Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that we, as the government, will encourage the federal government to try to do the right thing through our members and, indeed, other Parties to encourage the federal government to meet the challenges there through talking with their MPs. I do want to leave the message that with the coal leases and developing, there will be opportunities down in that area for people to continue doing that. Although we can take some negative views on these things, I think if you open it up and look at both sides of the issue, this one is a challenge but there will be opportunities down there. There will be issues that can be met. This happens to be one of the issues that has to be dealt with and I think this will probably be dealt with. I am encouraged to hear this coming before the House and I think, as we all speak to our federal MPs, that perhaps we can encourage them to try to do the right thing.

So, Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to make an intervention on this resolution today and I look forward to hearing other members on this topic. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre for putting forward this resolution and giving me the opportunity to talk about this resolution. I wasn't sent to the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly to apologize for the actions of Devco's Board of Directors. I wasn't sent to the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to apologize for the actions or words of federal MPs from my area and I wasn't sent to the Legislative Assembly of the Province of Nova Scotia to apologize for anything in terms of what I believe personally to be what rightfully and morally belongs to Cape Breton coal miners.

Mr. Speaker, I do have some exceptions to the way the resolution has been worded and I take some exception because I can't stand here and condemn someone. I think condemning someone is a fairly strong statement, to condemn someone who may have

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thought what they were doing was the right thing to do. How am I to stand here and say that perhaps members of Devco's Board of Directors, some of whom are provincially appointed, some are federally appointed, some are former coal miners, how can I say that those people didn't actually think they were doing the right thing? How can I condemn them for perhaps at least thinking that they're doing the right thing?

Now, having said that, and I appreciate the member for Cape Breton Centre who gave us a quick rundown on non-contributory and contributory pensions for Cape Breton coal miners. I know the member for Cape Breton Centre has the background and I appreciate that and he did a fairly good job of explaining exactly what happened. But when you're explaining it and when you start using words such as evil, or nickled and dimed, or mean-spirited, or degrading, then I have to wonder what is the purpose? Is it the purpose because you really strongly and forcefully believed in the resolution you're putting forward? Are you putting forward a resolution just to try to grab a few headlines and make political hay out of a situation which we should not be making political hay out of right now? This is too serious to be doing that.

What we have here is a group of employees, a group of men, who put forward their blood, sweat and tears on behalf of not just their families or Cape Breton, but on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia. By the way, at one time, Cape Breton coal powered this province and made it exactly what it is. At one time, there were 14, 000 people employed in the coal mining industry in Cape Breton. At one time, there were 11 coal mines alone that operated in Glace Bay, just Glace Bay. This was an industry that meant everything to this province. Granted, this is an industry that is now gone. No one could be any less happy about that than myself, and I'm sure the member for Cape Breton Centre and many other members in this House would agree with that as well, and they do not want to see what has happened.

The fact of the matter is, Devco has closed, for whatever reason. We've moved on, to a certain extent. But there have been some things left behind that perhaps could be cleared up. The Devco pension issue is one of those things that has been left behind.

Again, I'm not here to defend anybody with the board of directors. I personally - and I've made these statements in the press - disagree with the decision they made. I think this probably, at best, should have been sent to arbitration. There are many cases of things that have happened at Devco that have been settled by third parties in the past. In recent memory, both decisions regarding closures, arbitrators were involved - the Outhouse decision was one of them. This has been done in the past for many, many times at Devco, that a third party would become involved to finally decide what was going to happen with regard to pensions or wages or whatever the case may be.

Mr. Speaker, if you're dealing with what perhaps would be a very stringent set of rules - which I am to understand are set out by the Financial Administration Act, which is what governs these pensions and which governs, in particular, Devco as a Crown

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Corporation. I wasn't at the board meetings, I didn't attend. I'm not a member of Devco's Board of Directors, but perhaps because of those stringent regulations, they had no other choice. They had no other choice. I don't think anybody can say that's not a possibility. Surely, if we're all thinking people in this Chamber, then at least we can think to the extent that perhaps this was a possibility, that they had no other choice but to do this. Perhaps the directors, working in the best interests of what they thought were the best interests of the corporation, decided the only path to follow was to send this to a court of law and finally deal with it once and for all.

On that note, before I continue, as the minister stated, perhaps somewhat in error, I think the member for Cape Breton Centre made it perfectly clear that he hopes that the court decision will come out and he believes the court decision will come out in favour of Devco's miners. That is my hope and my wish as well. Also, it's my way of thinking that that will happen. I wanted to clarify that because I think the minister perhaps didn't hear it exactly the way it was said.

Getting back to the pension itself, as I said, arbitration probably was, in my personal opinion, the best option that could have been followed. It certainly was allowed for under the Financial Administration Act as well.

[4:45 p.m.]

I understand that miners are upset. During the election campaign, Mr. Speaker, I heard about it all the time. I heard about it from miners themselves, who said, look, we deserve this money, we own this money, this money is ours, it's not a great deal of money when you put it in perspective. No, it's not a great deal of money. I agree with them. I have no problem whatsoever taking that stand and saying that I agree with them, I agree that this money should have been dealt with.

But there are times when we have to take things to stages that we don't want to. This is an example. This is now before the courts. In November, as I understand it, there are groups that will be given standing to appear before the courts and argue on behalf of their organization. The Devco pensioners organization and the United Mine Workers of America are a couple of groups that will be arguing. As I understand it, I even think the two MPs in the area are considering applying for standing before the court to argue their case on behalf of Devco miners. I don't know whether or not they've received permission or standing before the court, I'm not sure, and I'm not sure what other groups there are.

I am sure there would be many other interested groups, and I'm not sure if the minister, again, is right in suggesting that the NDP was one of those groups that perhaps would consider applying for standing before the court. I don't know. Again, I don't attend NDP caucus meetings either, Mr. Speaker, any more than I attend Devco Board of Directors meetings. And I'm not looking for an invitation either, by the way.

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Mr. Speaker, what we have to do here is, just for a minute, not let this be turned into anything more than what it should be. This has been used as a political football, not only by the NDP but by other people as well. Many times this has been used by them to try to get miners and their families up in arms and outraged over the fact that this is their money that's being taken away from them, that Devco has been closed, industries have been destroyed. We know that. We know that it's not what it used be, that things aren't the way they used to be, and probably never will be again.

At some time, you turn the corner and you hope that things will be better, you know they will be better, you deal with what's before you. I am one of the few people who still happens to believe that there is a place in Cape Breton for a coal-mining industry. There are 3 billion tons of coal out underneath the ocean, and there are all sorts of people waiting to buy that coal. Now that I will put directly in the laps of the provincial government, because they, eventually, will own the leases, the coal leases. It's up to this provincial government to finally turn things around, in this instance, in the coal industry, and promote private industry, help them as much as possible, and get a private industry coal operation and put people to work in Cape Breton once again.

The provincial government knows that could be done, Mr. Speaker, and they know it's a great possibility that it actually will happen. I, again, have congratulated the member for Cape Breton Centre for bringing forward the resolution. When I first heard him read the resolution, and this happens in this Chamber quite often, a resolution can be read and all of a sudden when it comes time and a request for waiver of notice is given, and the Speaker will say, is this agreed, and occasionally the Speaker will hear a no, and the Speaker will say, the notice is tabled.

Mr. Speaker, in this case there was a no that was heard, but let me tell you, unequivocally, that no did not come from any member of the Liberal caucus of Nova Scotia. I'm not saying anyone suggested that it did, I just want to make that perfectly clear. Although there were some mutterings, perhaps, there were some mutterings from some members that it did come from here, it did not. Obviously it didn't come from the NDP caucus. That probably leaves only one other place for it to come from. I want you to know that it did not come from this side of the House. It did not come from anybody who sits as a member of the Liberal caucus in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we have shown over the years, previous Leaders of this caucus, previous Liberal Premiers in this province have shown, and when they were Members of Parliament at the time, have shown that they cared as much as anybody could possibly care about the employees of the Cape Breton Development Corporation and their families. In particular, I'm talking about former Premier Russell MacLellan, the former MP who represented the area for many, many years. Devco was one of his top priorities while he was MP.

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Mr. Speaker, there is a fact, you know we forget sometimes that we talked about all of the bad things that happened not only at Devco over the years, but in Cape Breton, but we talk about some of the great things that happened there as well. This was an industry that thrived. This was an industry that had tremendous workers. This was an industry that had people who were proud to go to work on a daily basis and showed up in one of the most dangerous industries you could ever be employed in.

Mr. Speaker, my relatives worked in the coal mines. My relatives worked on the railway. My friends worked in the coal mines. There were people whom I went to school with who perhaps sometimes back in the heydays when they were hiring, left school to get a job. Devco was the only thing around that was employing people, but it also gave you a good secure job at that time which would carry you through to a retirement and, hopefully, a proper pension. As my colleague from the NDP, the member for Cape Breton Centre, has said, there are many people who rightfully deserve this pension. There are a lot of people now who unfortunately are not with us who would have deserved this pension. I would have been glad to see a lot of my friends and family, relatives, and neighbours who I wish were here now to listen to people talking about can we get an excess in funds from the Devco pension fund. Because, if they were, it would mean that they were collecting a Devco pension themselves and that they were still on this earth to be doing exactly that, but that's not the case. Some of them passed on because of the fact that they had spent many years of their lives employed in the coal mines.

Mr. Speaker, it's a matter that at home has, I guess one could say, touched a nerve in a lot of people. It's one that is personal because of the fact that the people involved believe that the money is certainly theirs, that it belongs to them. It has taken its ups and downs because it has been tossed around, as I said, as a political football by some people. It has also been used and abused in some cases by some members and by some Parties to try to make some hay because of the fact that this is an issue that upsets a lot of people.

Mr. Speaker, whether or not some members in this Chamber think it's appropriate or not, again it is a point to be considered and one that should be considered very carefully before we get to approving these resolutions and actually when we consider them. As I said, you know, well, the language in itself, when you condemn a board of directors that has some committed people on that board of directors and I'm sure they're all committed to what they're doing, but the fact of the matter is that it doesn't matter if they're Liberals on the board of directors or if they're New Democrats or if they're Progressive Conservatives. Can you not be committed if you're from any political stripe? Is that not possible or are we too narrow in our thinking to think that perhaps that can even happen?

Well, I believe, Mr. Speaker, and I think again most free-thinking people would realize, that if you're committed to a job, regardless of what political stripe, you can still be committed. You can still make decisions, the right decisions perhaps. Is making the right decision, is being right or being morally right, or being morally responsible an exclusive

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ownership of the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia? I don't think so, I don't think so. You know there are other members in this Chamber who belong to two other political Parties in this province who certainly believe that you can make the right decision regardless of your political stripe.

Mr. Speaker, again I did thank - and I meant it - the member for Cape Breton Centre for bringing forward this resolution. I agree with him to a certain extent because I agree personally, myself, that this money, that these pensions, belong with the people who own them and that would be Devco's miners and widows, who certainly deserve them. They should be back in their hands.

I also think, as the member for Cape Breton Centre does - we don't agree on a lot of things, but these are two things we've agreed on - that the current court case will end up with that decision. I don't think there's any other decision that could be the right decision to make. Of course that's up to a judge now, and the judge will decide what happens in this case.

Again, Mr. Speaker, to make it perfectly clear, did I hope or did I think or did I wish that it would end up at this stage, before a court? No. I would have hoped that the decision would have been made by whomever, that they rightfully belong back where they should have been, with Devco's pensioners and widows. I still, to this very day, believe that that is going to happen. I have spoken out on it many times that that is my wish.

Again, I want to congratulate the member for bringing it forward. It's been a pleasure to stand here and talk about the great respect that I have for coal miners, that I have for the miners and their families, over the years, for my friends and my neighbours and my family. Again, as I said many times, the blood, sweat and tears of those people has certainly made it possible for me to be here today and to talk about exactly what I'm talking about.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for your time. With that last message, I will again take my chair.

MR. SPEAKER: We will continue debate.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is with great pleasure that I join the debate on this resolution. I think it's an important one, one that underlines the unfairness of the situation with respect to the Devco pensions. I couldn't help but observe the attitude and the demeanor of the previous speaker. I must say, the member for Glace Bay is often entertaining, he has a kind of bombastic manner that he portrays in almost everything he does, and he argues, almost always, that black is white, that you shouldn't have to take any responsibility for those decisions that are made by those in your Party at other levels. He's quick to heap, of course, scorn on the government's federal colleagues or those in our Party,

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but of course that's part of the rhythm that the member has. He can argue in almost a perfect circle. He begins at the point where he's taking absolutely no responsibility and he ends at the point where he takes absolutely no responsibility. That's not a surprise, but it is sometimes a wondrous thing to watch unfold, that's for sure.

I do agree with him on this point, Mr. Speaker, that the miners who worked in the mines of Cape Breton didn't do it just for their family, for their own benefit, didn't do it just for the right to work, to put money into the economy of Cape Breton, they worked in order to be able to supply energy to all of the people in this province and further afield.

I will tell you something else I know about the miners in those communities, whether it's in New Waterford or in Glace Bay, when they walked down to the pits with their pit helmets and with their lunch kettles, when they walked down to take their shift in the mines, they weren't just men going to work, they were symbols of the strength of a community. They were symbols of the stability that was brought by coal and by their hard work to those communities. They were much larger than life in many regards, the contribution made by the miners in Cape Breton.

That is why it is with such great disdain I hold the decision that has been made by the board of directors of Devco and complicit in that decision, of course, is the federal Liberal Government. The reality is that it's simply outrageous that the federal Liberal Government is not happy enough with wiping out good paying jobs on the Island of Cape Breton, they have to come in afterwards and take the pension funds that belong to the miners, that belong to the widows, that belong to the families of those people who poured their blood, sweat and tears into the work in those mines. That's what makes it such a difficult thing to have to deal with.

[5:00 p.m.]

I listened to the entreaties of the Minister of Finance, who did a fairly good review of the press clippings from The Cape Breton Post and The Chronicle-Herald but, other than that, said not much of anything. He wanted to continue to say that this is a federal government responsibility - and that's true, we all acknowledge this is the responsibility of the federal Liberal Government - but that doesn't get you off the hook. That doesn't get you off the hook in this matter, you have a responsibility to the people of this province, to the people of Cape Breton Island. Has the Premier of this province so much as lifted a finger to write a letter to the Prime Minister to object on this matter? Not to our knowledge. Have they taken any steps to try to support the pensioners' association? Not so far as I'm concerned.

During the last election I made it clear that an NDP Government would use the resources of the province to support the pensioners, to support the miners and the widows of those who worked in the mines, that we would seek intervener status. We didn't do that because we thought it was a good political statement to make, we said it because it was the

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right thing to do. We said what we meant and we meant what we said, and that's what is disturbing about this - and yes, much has been made about the fact that this was a non-contributory pension, but the reality is that pensions are simply the wages of miners that have been bargained for, that have been delayed in order to make sure that they have a decent standard of living once they retire. That's what pensions are - they are wages by another name.

Why is it that the federal government should feel free to come in at a time when the economic base of those families has been taken away and decide to further impoverish them by taking their pension benefits? As far as I'm concerned, this is not fair by any stretch of the imagination because in those negotiations when the non-contributory pensions were set up, the employees of Devco gave up other benefits, they paid wage concessions. The reality is that those funds in those pensions belong to the miners; they belong to the pensioners; they belong to the widows of those miners who died. That's where they ought to belong. They belong in the hands of those people and they belong in the economy of Cape Breton, and it's a responsibility of the provincial government to stand up and say so.

It's not a surprise that the federal Liberal Government would do this. They're all about finding ways to wring money out of people who need it the most. Just look at the federal government's attitude toward the EI fund. How much money has the federal government taken from the contributions of working people?

AN HON. MEMBER: Billions.

MR. DEXTER: Billions of dollars robbed out of the EI fund. This province is suffering because of it; that is money that would have gone into the economy of Nova Scotia, but doesn't because the federal Liberal Government has appropriated it. They did the same thing with the CHST, which was nothing but a way for the federal government to reduce the transfers to Nova Scotia and to other provinces, frankly, so it could underfund health care and other important social safety nets in this province. They did that to the tune of billions of dollars.

What do they do with it? I don't know what they did with the money. I suppose it went toward fattening their bottom line - maybe they used it in Mr. Radwanski's office, I don't know. Maybe they used it in the billion dollar HRDC bungle. All I do know is that it's not going back into the pockets of the people of Nova Scotia and into the pockets of the people of Cape Breton Island.

When I was in Cape Breton talking with the miners and the Devco Pensioners Association - and we met with them on many occasions - they said to me, you know this shouldn't be a surprise coming out of the federal Liberal Government, this is the same kind of thing that Paul Martin did with the employees of Canadian Steamship Lines - same kind of thing.

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Now, I don't know that that's the case, Mr. Speaker, but that belies the attitude that people have taken with respect to the way that the federal Liberal Government treats people who they should consider to be in a fiduciary relationship with them, that is that they should be charged with the responsibility for looking after pensioners and widows and their families. So it begs the question and the member for Glace Bay said he's not here to apologize on behalf of MPs from his area. Well, you know, no wonder. I mean where have Mr. Eyking and Mr. Cuzner been in this? Barely a sound. In fact, if it weren't for Alexa McDonough, Wendy Lill and Peter Stoffer, the name Nova Scotia would almost never be heard in Ottawa, if it weren't for those MPs standing up. (Interruption)

Well, do you know something, Mr. Speaker, the minister says what about Peter MacKay and it is true. We hear about Peter. Whenever he has made another deal, we hear about it. There's no question about that; whenever another deal has fallen down or another backroom deal is going down, Peter MacKay is at the root of it somewhere, but that is a debate for another day. That's the problem and they recognize it only too well, is that there are not enough champions for Nova Scotia in Ottawa. If there were more champions of Nova Scotia like Alexa McDonough, like Wendy Lill, like Peter Stoffer, in Ottawa, we would be a heck of a lot better off than we are today. That's reality.

It is completely unbelievable, Mr. Speaker, that (Interruptions) Well, they laugh but, you know, who is the only MP to ask questions about the hurricane damage in the House of Commons? That was Alexa McDonough. Who were the people who consistently raised issues of importance to Nova Scotia? That's the NDP caucus, that's who raises them. When it comes to this, the Minister of Finance is quite correct, the federal Leader of the New Democratic Party, Jack Layton, felt it was an important enough issue whether or not the miners, the pensioners and the widows have the right to get what they're entitled to travel to Sydney to meet and to talk with those concerned and to pledge the support of the federal New Democratic Party caucus in that endeavour. That's because he recognized the injustice that was being done by the federal Liberal Government and vowed to help set it straight. That was the right thing for him to do and it would have been the right thing for the Prime Minister to do, to come.

The only time that the Prime Minister came to Cape Breton was just before the federal election in a rather crude attempt to influence the vote there which apparently he did because he got two MPs. I've got to tell you, I don't know if you've been to Ottawa and seen the setup there, Mr. Speaker, but the MPs there have a really good view of the Prime Minister because they sit on the other side so they can get a good look at him. They may not get a chance to talk to him, but they have a good view of him, that's for sure.

So, Mr. Speaker, what are the details of this? We've got a $26 million pension fund, money that could be going into the Cape Breton economy, that could be going into communities in Cape Breton North, in Cape Breton Centre, in Glace Bay, but instead it's going to be appropriated by the federal government for their own purposes and we say that's

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wrong and I think that the Devco Pensioners Association, certainly President Sam Boutilier, along with Leo Evans, Pat Burton and Omar MacPherson, who we met with - myself and the member for Cape Breton Centre - certainly understand (Interruption) Certainly and the member for Cape Breton Nova, that's right, certainly know that what is happening to them under the federal Liberal Government is wrong and we're not the only ones who think that. The reality is that the Mayor of Sydney has said on occasion and vociferously I might add, that this is wrong.

I know that they have taken the steps to try to impress that point of view on Ottawa, as we have. Our point in bringing forward this resolution today is to say, well, there are avenues other than just an election campaign when this can be pursued. The House of Assembly is one of them. Mr. Speaker, our entreaty to the government is don't sit around. I will draw an analogy to the Maritime Life decision. Surely they're not going to sit around and simply let those jobs leave the province. They're not going to sit around and simply allow that engine of the economy to go down. Well, you shouldn't be doing that with respect to the pensions either.

That's pension money that could be going into the economy, and the government, through the appropriate offices, through the Premier, through the appropriate minister should be on the telephone, should be writing the Prime Minister and expressing the extreme dismay of the Province of Nova Scotia in this decision. I don't think that's a long stretch, Mr. Speaker, I think this is only a reasonable request. It's one that has been put forward time and time again.

Mr. Speaker, we have said that were we the Government of Nova Scotia, we would seek intervener status in the court challenge. Part of the problem is that, of course, the Province of Nova Scotia has the resources to be able to put forward that case in a forthright manner. The problem, of course, for the pensioners and for those involved in this court case is that it puts a very onerous burden on them to come up with the resources to be able to support litigation. The province knows this. They know what it costs. They look at, for example, the Laurentian Sub-basin fight, the amount of money that was spent by the province in order to advance its case during those hearings. It was, as I understand, a very large bill to the province. This one is going to be substantially less, but no less important to the people who are affected.

That's why we have said right from the very beginning that the moral thing to do, the appropriate thing to do, is to join the pensioners and widows and their families in saying very clearly that we're not going to stand by and allow the federal government to take what rightfully belongs and what was rightfully paid for, in the mines of Cape Breton, by the miners and their families.

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Mr. Speaker, I think it's pretty clear what the government ought to do. It certainly would be a good thing for the Liberal caucus in this House to support us in this regard. I understand that you're signalling that I only have a minute left, and before I do wind up I wanted to say this, that I think the Minister of Finance, in talking about the federal government taking responsibility for subsidence and those issues associated with Devco, is not correct in that. They have never admitted, as far as I know, to taking responsibility for issues related to subsidence. If that was the case, then perhaps the school issue in Dominion would have been resolved more quickly and more favourably than it otherwise has been. Devco has in fact proved to be a very difficult negotiator when it comes to issues between the province. I think, if anything, taking the stand with respect to Devco pension monies would be another lever for negotiation by the provincial government.

Right now, Mr. Speaker, what I would like to see happen in support of this resolution is I would like to see the provincial government take a strong stand and I would like to see the Liberal caucus take a strong stand in support of the miners, the pensioners and their families. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to speak on this motion having to do with the closing of the Cape Breton coal mines and also the disposition of the assets or the surplus in the pension funds. Just to set the record straight, one may say why am I particularly interested in this.

First of all, I in a former life had done a bit of mining, never in the coal mines, but I did do hard rock mining for a couple of years and I do understand back when I did it (Interruption) That's right, absolutely, I did that. The conditions were not quite what they are today in working in mines, I might say, in terms of this. But the thing that puzzles me, Mr. Speaker, is rather than this particular resolution calling for some resolution to this issue, and which by the way I support, what the resolution talks about is condemning the Devco Board of Directors.

[5:15 p.m.]

I don't know why they want to condemn the Devco Board of Directors rather than wanting to do something about the problem. That would seem to me to be a more productive and proactive thing to do. (Interruption) I don't know, but it would seem to me that if there is a problem, the best thing to try to do is solve it and why would you put a resolution out there condemning the board of directors rather than saying let's change the decision and get on and work with the federal government and put pressure on the federal government. I mean there's no question that this is something that was created by the Liberal Government with probably the support of the NDP members up there.

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Where were the NDP? I haven't heard Alexa McDonough stand up and say anything about the pension surplus and Devco. I haven't heard Mr. Layton stand up and say anything about it. I haven't heard Peter Stoffer stand up and say anything about it. You know all they want to do, the issue is if you've got enough to complain about, Mr. Speaker, then you get your name in the paper. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on a point of order.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: No, it's not a point of order, on the next matter.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 51.

Res. No. 51, Autumn House Dispute: Commun. Serv. Min. - Responsibility Assume - notice given Sept. 26/03 - (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place to speak on a resolution I brought to the House on Friday with respect to the first strike in the history of this province in a transition house in Nova Scotia. It's unfortunate that we have to have this debate, frankly. However, as most members in this House will know, transition houses are emergency shelters where women and children in abusive situations in intimate relations sometimes have to go to get away from the crisis that they experience.

In the small community of Amherst, the transition house there, Autumn House, the workers have been on strike since August 11th. Mr. Speaker, this is a small transition house. It has six beds, 10 workers and, sadly, the Minister of Community Services and this government have turned their backs on this situation and we're hoping to draw some public attention to the situation and encourage the minister to take responsibility for what is happening there.

The workers who work in the shelter are women whose work is to prevent violence. They do a lot of outreach in the community in education. They work with women and children who come into the shelter when they require safety. They deal with the crisis that's happening, the physical, the emotional crisis. They assist them in getting legal services, medical services, and the women who do this work are well trained. Many of them have degrees in the social services and for this, Mr. Speaker, they earn what could be considered quite modest wages, annual salaries in the high $20,000 to low and mid-$30,000 range, not a high wage by any stretch of the imagination. They receive no paid overtime. They have no pension plan and the benefits that they have apparently are few and are of little importance to this government and this minister.

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Mr. Speaker, the issues in this labour dispute are around things like job security. The board of directors which is their employer, a volunteer board as is the case in most of these shelters - has put forward ideas like being able to use volunteers in certain aspects of the work, a reduction in benefits that are currently enjoyed in the shelter by the workers, a reluctance to pass on the modest wage increase that this government provided for in its funding and a changing in the shift scheduling.

Now many of these issues are at the bargaining table and there has been some give and take but yet, the situation has not been resolved and frankly it hasn't been resolved and it won't be resolved because behind this dispute is an inadequacy of funding. The shelter, like all shelters in Nova Scotia, is funded by the Department of Community Services. As we saw with the RRSS strike, the minister has attempted to hide behind the structural legal framework where there is a volunteer board of directors who, in fact, are legally constituted as the employer but don't have the financial independence or ability to provide the kind of support that is required to adequately compensate the workers for the job that they do.

Mr. Speaker, all transition houses in Nova Scotia run deficits and because government funding is inadequate and they have to fundraise or find grants from other levels of government to meet their program and staffing commitments. Autumn House is no different. It has been running a deficit and this has placed an extraordinary amount of financial pressure on that board to find ways to deal with their financial crisis.

Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services knows full well that these houses are underfunded. He has in front of him a report from the women's centres, the transition houses and the men's programs back in the summer months that indicate what is required to adequately fund these organizations. He has been silent on responding to that report. He has the power to assist in the settling of this strike in Cumberland County. I want to point out to the minister - and he can go back to his department officials and check, that many other shelters in this province - Bryony House, Chrysalis House, Harbour House, the transition house in Yarmouth, they have all run deficits in the past, they have experienced crises and governments have come to the aid of those organizations to keep them from shutting down their services and closing their doors and yet, we see foot-dragging in this situation.

I would like the minister to tell the workers, the board members and the people of the Cumberland County area that is served by that shelter what is different about the Amherst area that your government isn't prepared to intervene to assist in a crisis when previous governments have intervened in Halifax, in Yarmouth, in Kentville and in Bridgewater. I would like that question answered for the people in Cumberland County who are served by that transition house.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I've been on both sides of this issue personally. I've been a member of a volunteer board of directors of a transition house. I know how difficult it is to find money. I have also negotiated on behalf of workers who work in these shelters and I

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know how much these workers are prepared to work with inadequate compensation, but I want the minister to tell us here today why his department and his government are unprepared to fund these services like other services in this province that deal with protection and security? We do not ask the police departments, the fire departments, the child protection agencies, the adult protection services to raise 5 per cent, 10 per cent, 15 per cent or 25 per cent of their operating budgets for core services by holding bake sales and benefit suppers and dances and bingos. So why are we asking women's services, that deal with the safety of women and children, to deal with those kinds of activities to get adequate funding? These are questions that the minister needs to stand in his place and answer because the people in Cumberland County have been, for quite a significant period of time, without a service that they have dedicated themselves to over a good many years.

The final point, Mr. Speaker, is that Autumn House has a unique model of operating that provides outreach services that has been recognized right across this country as a valid and important model for providing services in rural communities. This will be lost if this organization is forced to cut in the way that it is being made to do so by the Minister of Community Services. So these are questions we would like answered today in this debate.

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

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing the resolution forward. The operation of not only Autumn House, the transition house in Cumberland County for the victims of domestic violence, but all nine across the province are of great concern to this government, this department and this minister.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by saying, as such, the member opposite has referred to an equitable way of trying to treat all the transition houses in the province and, in fact, that is exactly what we strive to do. There is a funding formula in place, and I'm sure the member opposite would recognize that. I am sure that she would also recognize that it is not six beds but nine beds that are funded by that funding formula that provides for eight full-time equivalent employees. They are paid for entirely by the Department of Community Services. If any transition house wishes to be creative and augment their services, we certainly encourage them to do so - and they have done so. But if they go outside the funding formula, one would expect that they would make provision to fund those additional services that they want to add to the provincial model.

To the member opposite, I want to tell her that in times past I have enjoyed her exuberance in the House, and sometimes when those of my gender have gotten a little over-exuberant, she has pointed out to us that there is a lot of testosterone floating around in this room. I do want to just gently chide her for the, "Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services stop hiding behind the skirts of the Autumn House board . . ." I liked

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the term that she used here - hide behind the structural legal framework - was perhaps a more dignified way of making her point, but my point is touché with regard to the levels of testosterone. Honourable member, if you are wondering whether I was paying attention to some of your past dissertations, please take note.

[5:30 p.m.]

I think, Mr. Speaker, ultimately we should never forget the reason why we have transition houses, and it is a sad reflection that we need them. It's a very positive reflection on this government that during our last mandate we made changes to the family violence legislation and that we put in place provision through Justices of the Peace that the abused members of the family - the battered wife, the children - can have immediate possession of the matrimonial home and also protection for the matrimonial assets. That goes to the root of the problem.

The transition houses provide an interim solution to give those members of our society the protections that they need, that are necessary because of the unfortunate relationship that is developing in that home, the abuser. It's very important that we have these services. When the department saw that there was the possibility of an interruption in service, we asked the board to put together a contingency plan to ensure that the women and children in Cumberland County would always have access to those services.

They did bring forward a contingency plan. That is paramount. We should never lose sight of the reason why these transition houses are there - it is to serve the battered spouses, the battered women and their children. That is in place, it's working, support has been arranged with other transition houses and the local police services, the crisis phone line is still in operation, and department staff are in regular contact with the executive director to ensure the contingency plan is in place and people are getting the help that they need.

That is the case, Mr. Speaker, so let us not forget that the primary purpose for this is to care for those battered women and their children in time of need.

That said, it's important to point out that these negotiations are not between the government and the union. The government is not the employer; the employer is the dedicated board of directors - as the member opposite offered up to the House. She, in fact, held one of those positions in a past career, past life, and it is an honourable thing to do, to offer in that capacity. We must respect their role in this - it is Autumn House and their board of directors that is the employer, not the Department of Community Services, not the Government of Nova Scotia, and we will respect the collective bargaining process.

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Clearly, we are disappointed that an agreement could not be reached to this point in time between the employer and the union, but again it is not our role to interfere in the collective bargaining process directly as a third party. We respect the employees' right to exercise their rights under the Act.

Mr. Speaker, the conciliator has been in place and remains in place, and the parties are able to go back at any time and draw on the conciliator's expertise to bring forward a negotiated settlement. It is the position of the government, it's the position of the department, and it's certainly the position of me as minister, to urge the parties to work hard at the negotiating table to get an agreement. That is the only place where real progress can be made to bring an end to this dispute.

We are very proud of our work to support victims and to address the issue of family violence in Nova Scotia. The province funds nine transition houses in communities across the province. Transition houses receive funding to hire staff and cover operational costs to serve the number of beds in their house.

I want to emphasize again that the funding is for 100 per cent - 100 per cent funding for those eight full-time equivalent employees that cover nine beds for the women and children in need in Cumberland County. If the board chooses to provide additional services or hire additional staff, that is certainly their right to do so and that is one of the advantages of having a local service delivery model, such as provided by this wonderful board of directors and their wonderful staff. But if they do so, clearly, they're responsible for covering the costs of those services.

The honourable member talked about volunteers and bake sales. I would point out to the honourable member that in rural Nova Scotia there are a lot of organizations that do this. The one that comes to mind is volunteer fire departments, a wonderful group of people not unlike the people who are involved in the Autumn House situation.

Mr. Speaker, each year, taxpayers provide more than $4 million to support transition houses in Nova Scotia. That's not the end of it. They recently received additional funding to provide a 9.3 per cent wage increase to staff, adding approximately $300,000 to transition house annual budgets. In addition, the province funds six men's treatment programs in Nova Scotia and seven women's centres across the province. Autumn House, in particular, receives approximately $360,000 for transition house services and $83,000 for their men's treatment program. We have also provided the services of a professional negotiator to move along the negotiations to hopefully bring about a negotiated settlement.

Mr. Speaker, it's clear these are important services, it's clear that the Autumn House staff is dedicated to the people they serve, and the volunteer board cares very much about these services. We are doing all we can to facilitate a successful end to this labour dispute.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise in support of this particular resolution, albeit for slightly different reasons but the general principle in support is one in the same. In Cumberland County, at Autumn House, last year alone there have been more than 5,000 counselling sessions that have taken place, 5,000 in Cumberland County alone.

Mr. Speaker, I heard the minister indicate that it was not the minister's or the department's responsibility to become directly involved in the collective negotiating process. I will present evidence to the contrary. The minister has suggested that abused women and children should go to the nearest crisis centre. Okay, where is it? Tearmann Place in New Glasgow, that's the nearest one. Is this minister for real, that an abused woman or child or family has to travel 135 kilometres to get any help? Is that the type of support that's coming from this government and this minister? I hope not.

Now he's downloading the responsibility for transition houses on volunteer fire departments. Can you believe it? This morning they were downloading the responsibility for EMO on volunteer fire departments. What is it going to be tomorrow? They already have the responsibility of first responders. How much can volunteers do? On July 17th of this year, the minister's own department issued a communiqué to the executive director of Autumn House, indicating quite clearly that the reason for providing additional funding was to deal with the salary increases, retroactive back to April 2000-01.

Mr. Speaker, clearly the minister is involved. In the year 2000-01, a 2 per cent increase; 2001-02, a 2 per cent increase; 2002-03, a 2 per cent increase; and then for the next fiscal year, a 3 per cent increase. I will table that when I'm finished. Clearly the minister, behind the scenes, is directly involved with these negotiations. I spoke with the union representative as late as this morning and he's agreed that they would accept that, but this Autumn House was only prepared to offer retroactive to April 1, 2003, period. So where was the money going? That's the question. Where does the minister and his department play a role in this? I would suggest that they play a very active role behind the scenes, particularly since the executive director has that.

It's ironic, Mr. Speaker, the very day that the contract expired and the strike notice was issued, back on August 11th, the administration from Autumn House went in and said that effective immediately every employee in this facility is now going to be paid minimum wage. Minimum wage. How in heaven's name can four employees who are essentially the main breadwinners in a family, women supporting their children, survive on minimum wage? And the minister knew this, the minister knew exactly what was going on, and what did he do? He did nothing. He did nothing.

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Mr. Speaker, what about this solicitor for the board, who is providing the extra funding for this particular solicitor for the board? If it isn't the Department of Community Services behind the scenes providing the extra funding. So, clearly all the issues, as I understand, have been resolved and there's a mindset within Autumn House to deliberately and methodically not solve this strike matter, to keep these people out on the street. Why? It's for no other reason than to save money to meet the bottom line. That is callous; that is cold-hearted. You couldn't get more stone-hearted than that and this minister knows that and to stand up and expect an abused woman, or family, or child, to travel 135 kilometres to seek help in the middle of the night, hoping that some volunteer fire person will take them there - what kind of leadership do we have in that department? It is absolutely shameful.

Mr. Speaker, you know Statistics Canada on violence against women clearly indicates that in Cumberland County - if you want to take income levels - they are three times more likely to be abused than at the national level, and do you know they are twice as likely to be abused in Cumberland County than they are here in metro, and it is a factor of income. The minister knows that, and if he doesn't know that then he is not doing his job - but that doesn't surprise us. He's probably going to ask the volunteer firemen to do that work for him. How much more can the people of Cumberland County take?

There was a national program that was set up by the federal government in concert with the provincial government called Nova Scotia Crime Prevention Initiatives. There was over $777,000 allotted to Nova Scotia a little more than a year ago to deal with these issues, to get to the core source of all the problems of violence against women and children in this province - and do you know what's so sad about this? Not the fact that they've been so successful in 38 initiatives, but not one from that department was allotted to Cumberland County and, Mr. Speaker - and I will table that as well - I'm sure you, as the member for Cumberland County, will be quite concerned that Cumberland County was the only county, the only county, the only municipality in the Province of Nova Scotia that got zero dollars to deal with violence against women. Why? Why isn't this minister doing something to help the women and children in this province? I say shame on that minister.

Mr. Speaker, in any household, according to the national statistics, the lower your level of income, the more apt you are to be in a violent environment as a mother with children or as a spouse most subjected to violence. I could go on and on. I will just highlight. For example, in Cumberland County the average wage level, the average income there is about $22,000. Well the threshold on the national level is $30,000, okay? That would show that if you were making $30,000 or less, that means you're three times more likely to be abused. Well, clearly, that income level is well below that.

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[5:45 p.m.]

Why is there such an indifference to women and children in Cumberland County by this minister and this government? Why? I mean, 5,000 in such a small populated area of the province. It begs to wonder what's going on up there. The minister will stand up and say, well, we can't get involved, because that's not their responsibility. Maybe some community-spirited organization could go out and do some fundraising, bake some cakes or cookies or a fudge sale. By golly, Mr. Speaker, this is not how you deal with some of the core problems in society.

Mr. Speaker, this minister can make some off-handed remarks about the resolution, but this resolution speaks to a very core problem in our province, and that is that we are not dealing with some major issues. Do you know that battered women are three times more likely to be injured during pregnancy and they are more likely to have an abortion or miscarriage than those who aren't? I would ask the minister to examine those statistics. Never mind passing it off to volunteer organizations, step in. The issues are there. There is absolutely no reason for this strike not to be settled. There is no reason for these employees not to be on the job helping people who need help, and that minister should get off his butt and do something about it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West would know that that was unparliamentary, and I would ask him to stand and retract that statement, please.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, he should get off his chair and do something.

MR. SPEAKER: That will work, thank you. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I want to close the debate by focusing on the impact of this ongoing strike on three groups of people. First of all the clients of Autumn House; secondly the workers; and also bring in a new factor, what message this is sending from the government to the voluntary sector of Nova Scotia. The clients in Cumberland County are not getting their full service. They've been seven weeks without it. I am still not clear on how much of the service they're getting from the comments of the Minister of Community Services, and I will be checking into that.

These are women and children who are either suffering from family violence or potential family violence, who have taken the courageous step of trying to turn their lives around by seeking service. I am sure all of you recognize that this is a tremendous feat of courage, for people to admit to someone else, outside the family, that they are suffering under

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these conditions. When those services are not available in their community, that might be the time that they're ready for them and they may not seek them in the future.

I also want to mention the men's abuse treatment program that's been cut or stopped at Autumn House because it's an in-house program. If some of the other outreach programs are continuing, that one certainly is not. In this program, men are shown that it is very inappropriate to deal with their anger, their frustration, their stress levels by taking it out on their loved ones. So they learn improved ways of communication, and they also learn better coping skills so they can deal with the stresses and strains of their lives without taking it out on their wives and their children. These women, these men, these children are in crisis now, and they need a full range of programming in their community at the moment.

I also want to talk a little bit about the workers in this situation. As you all know, the provincial government cut out $897,000 from transition houses, women's shelters and men's abuse treatment programs last year. So it's as a direct result of this underfunding that this strike has happened. It's put a volunteer board in a difficult situation where, because they have taken a very innovative approach, a made-in-Cumberland County approach, to this . . .

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. A very significant statement made by the member opposite about the funding for transition houses. I was wondering if she could perhaps bring evidence forward that shows anything to the contrary about supporting the funding, the existing funding for transition houses was in place last - what I'm trying to say is that she's made the statement that we cut funding to transition houses. I would suggest that is not so and I would ask her to bring forward evidence supporting her allegation.

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, it's not a point of order but it's a disagreement of the facts between the minister and the member. The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley has the floor.

MS. MORE: Thank you. I will check into that, but I do know that the funding for transition houses is now on a temporary quarter-by-quarter basis. I may have misled people by the amount and I will check into that, but the lack of secure funding for these boards and these transition houses is the genuine true cause of this strike.

I just want to remind the members of the House that this strike is not over wages. The 10 individuals, the workers, the counsellors, from Autumn House are actually - the core problem here is their concern about losing benefits that they have long fought for. They are very close together on the matter of wages. They expect - and they deserve - fair wages, fair benefits and fair working conditions.

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Unfortunately, in the volunteer sector, the workers are continually undervalued and underpaid. I personally come from the volunteer sector, I worked there for 15 years and I certainly know of what I speak. Many of these 10 individuals are primary wage earners and the matters of long-term disability, whether they get long-term disability premiums paid or co-paid while they're on maternity leave, the number of hours they work and under what conditions. They are very important issues to these individuals and their families.

Also, I just want to pick up on the fact that it's a very innovative service and the minister did mention the fact that if they abided by the regular funding formula they wouldn't have a problem. So here we are, punishing a group of individuals - the board and the workers - for finding a solution that works well in a rural area of Nova Scotia.

I think, Mr. Speaker, you certainly would sympathize with that. Transportation is a big problem in rural Nova Scotia. By providing, in Community Services, it allows more people to take part in these programs and it also provides some prevention services within the community that people might not otherwise go and seek.

I just want to finish up by talking a bit about the voluntary sector. We have seen time and time again community organizations, community boards suffering because they have been underfunded. They're providing crucial services that in many provinces of Canada, the provincial government are providing, but in our case, those responsibilities have been downloaded to many of these community organizations. The message they're getting is, do it our way or you won't get the funding, which is not something I think most people would see as a benefit. We're also seeing the message going out to people, if you get on a board of directors for one of these voluntary organizations, the government's going to download the responsibility to you to make the tough decisions caused by the lack of adequate government funding.

As I mentioned earlier, this sector is providing very crucial programs and services that otherwise the government would have to provide. So it's in all our best interests to invest the proper amount of money, the adequate amount of money, in these organizations that are providing these programs.

We saw earlier this year the strike at the Regional Residential Services Society. Again, a board of an organization was not given enough funding to be able to adequately compensate the workers that do the work they're expected to do.

I just want to say that time and time again, rural Nova Scotia is told to use a community development approach where they can find solutions to their problems in ways that best suit the needs of their people. You can't turn around and then talk about a provincial funding formula that only recognizes one model of working in a community. I think we've all found there's no one right answer to any of these programs and services. You have to

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have the flexibility and the credibility to be able to adapt them to the needs of individual counties and areas.

I just want to finish by saying that it is a lack of consistent, secure, adequate funding from the Department of Community Services that is the background for this whole issue and that it has been suggested, I think both as political leaders and others, how we treat the most vulnerable in our province and in our communities is how we will be judged. I just want to suggest that this is a crucial matter, not only to the clients who are not being served adequately, not only to the workers who are out on strike over benefits that they need to support them and their families in rural Nova Scotia, also to the board members who are concerned about, is this too much responsibility for me to serve my community in this way. These are really serious issues and the message to the broader volunteer sector is very ominous and I think the minister and the department really need to look at this closely. We are probably only talking a matter of $20,000 difference to settle this strike. The impact is huge, and I really think as responsible decision-makers that it is up to us, all of us, most especially the government, to make sure this strike is settled as soon as possible.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for Opposition Members' Business has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader for tomorrow's hours and business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the House will meet tomorrow at 12:00 noon and sit until 6:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine will be Public Bills for Second Reading and we will continue with the debate on Bill No. 1, the Automobile Insurance Reform Act. On Friday, as I said yesterday, we will sit from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., or until we complete whatever business we have before the House on Friday morning. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

Order, please. We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank:

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"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend all of the Nova Scotian workers and volunteers on their tireless efforts to restore electrical power and provide services to the residents of all communities affected by Hurricane Juan."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

HURRICANE JUAN - WORKERS/VOLS.:EFFORTS - CONGRATS.

MR. GARY HINES: Mr. Speaker, it is an honour to rise in my place tonight to speak about the efforts of all of Halifax Regional Municipality's employees, the business community and the residents of the municipality, both federal and provincial agencies, the media and the many volunteers who are devoting their time and efforts to make emergency relief operations possible over the past several days. It is through the hard work of public servants such as Barry Manuel of the Emergency Measures Organization, the coordinator of the Halifax Regional Municipality, that we are patiently able to restore the electricity and the services to our city and to our province.

Damage to our coastal regions, wharves and the selective deforestation of landmarks such as Point Pleasant Park and the Halifax Public Gardens are shocking reminders of the fierce weather brought upon the province by Hurricane Juan. Given the darkened state of the city, police have been busier than normal. HRM RCMP experienced double the regular number of calls in a 24-hour period and Halifax Regional Police have had three times their normal total, as they each dealt with reports of looting, vandalism and an occasional mischief call. The activity of the Halifax firefighters is almost 10 times its regular level, with most calls due to small fires and alarm malfunctions. Fire stations throughout the HRM are also producing and providing drinking water to residents in need from many fire stations in each fire service area.

When Hurricane Juan left the province in the early hours of Monday morning, it left behind a province with almost a third of its residents without power. Through long hours and unflagging efforts, Nova Scotia Power Inc. has been able to reduce the number of residents affected by power outages by more than 50 per cent, as we speak. The power company estimates that they will be able to restore the majority of power outages by Thursday night. With the affected community still in a stage of emergency, it is very crucial for the thousands of storm-stricken Nova Scotians without power, phones and water to remain patient, calm, and, most importantly, safe. The frustration of living by candlelight with spoiled food in one's refrigerator and no hot water can be damaging to the patience and the goodwill of hurricane victims.

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However, in the wake of Hurricane Juan a strong community spirit remains among those affected by power outages and service disruptions. It is often said, Mr. Speaker, that crisis can bring out the best in people and there are many shining examples throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality of good citizens offering their friendship and support to the neighbours in need. Businesses, small and large alike, have opened their doors and provided goods and services to neighbourhoods despite the loss of power to their stores. On the street and within apartment buildings people have been helping each other obtain coffee, tea and warm meals.

In places such as Pinecrest Drive in Dartmouth, a sense of community and collaboration prevailed upon the victims of the recent storm. In some apartment complexes, residents shared heated water for coffee and tea with their elderly neighbours, many of whom were virtually trapped in their apartments due to the immense physical effort of climbing up and down their stairwells as elevators were without power. Sharing conversation, food and company provided storm victims with offerings of potluck stew, soups, hot dogs, steak, chicken, scalloped potatoes and some hamburgers. Some residents built community fire pits while others offered makeshift barbecues. Together they cooked, shared their food and enjoyed the company of friends and neighbours. Surrounded by candles and Coleman stoves, they offered a comfort to their children and grandchildren during what has been a frightening experience for all involved. In my community of Fall River, gas power generators were shared a few hours at a time to save perishables and deep-freezers as neighbours shared conversation and I suspect on occasion a soft drink or two.

In conclusion, Mr. Speaker, I would like to recognize the many courageous efforts of all those involved in the cleanup and the restoration of power in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan and I would especially like to thank the business community and residents of our municipality for their civic-minded work and patient dedication to those in their neighbourhoods, apartment complexes and their communities.

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to speak on this resolution. I have been through a few storms myself being a fisherman. At one time I was on Georges Bank in a 60-foot boat blowing 70 knot of wind which was Hurricane Forbes. We had seas coming at us higher than this building on that bank and when those seas get to shore, they may be sometimes twice as high in the Bay of Fundy area and the Gulf of Maine. I welcome the honourable member's motion as I fully understand what volunteers do and what volunteers have to go through and without volunteers in this province, there would be messes still out there that we wouldn't see cleaned up today and I can guarantee you that.

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I've heard people say in this room that volunteers are tireless. I don't believe in that. Our volunteers do tire out and I've seen many volunteers in our area get very, very tired, so tired they get sick and it's not right. There should be more volunteers, and made easier. The government should make it easier for more volunteers in this province to do more work.

As the MLA for Digby-Annapolis and being from a fishing community, like I said earlier, I've seen storms come on those shores right to doors, right to house doors, and smash the doors in on them and that's when the work started - the next day after the storm, not during it. So right now in this city we have a big job ahead of us in restoring the power in this city and I know there are a lot of volunteers probably trying to help the power company do that, but I also understand that EMO has access to 1,550 volunteers who are out around this province. I don't know how many they've called on in this city to help them, but I grant you and I assure you that if those volunteers had a call tonight from EMO, they would be here tomorrow morning at daylight. They would be here with their power saws. They would be here with their shovels. They would be here with what they needed to have to clean this mess up and I bet you that this mess would be cleaned up fast.

I want to thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, I should go on more about the volunteers, but I believe that should happen. I believe the EMO should get in touch with the ground search and rescue people of this province and bring them to this city, because I don't think this city - I have been out on the streets here talking to people cleaning up, and it's going to be a long while before this city is cleaned up. Those volunteers out there are waiting for the call to come to this city. It wouldn't cost a whole lot of money, a little room and board and a little food and water and they would be here. (Applause)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to stand and address this resolution. It's been a hard couple of days here in the province, and as a member of this House, as a resident of Sackville-Cobequid, a past volunteer firefighter and currently still a paramedic, I want to personally thank all the workers and volunteers in this province who have stepped up in this hard time in our province and tried to bring back some normality to our lives. I think that's what we all want in this situation, to feel that things are back to normal. When you have an episode such as this hurricane, a lot of the residents in this province, I think, underestimated the power of nature and, I must admit, myself also.

It just shows that I think we need to be prepared for the next one. I think we did drop the ball on this, and I think the government did too. I believe that we need to be more prepared, we need to advise the public that the storm had such force and that it could bring such devastation to our province. I want to give a special thanks to all those residents in the communities throughout the province who stepped up to the plate, if you want to say, early Monday morning. Just in my own community, waking up and going out in the neighbourhood and seeing the devastation brought forward by this hurricane and to see the

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camaraderie of the neighbours, some of them meeting for the first time out on the doorsteps, in their backyards, looking at the destruction that happened.

It wasn't much after that that I saw the same neighbours, who probably never really took the time to meet their neighbours, out clearing their lots, cleaning the debris from their house and their yard and, like the member opposite said, had barbecues, almost like a town hall gathering in the backyard. I think we were fortunate in this hurricane that the weather has been so good after this event, because this could have been a lot worse if the weather wasn't on our side. I think it's making for an easier cleanup, and it will be a lot quicker due to the weather conditions that we're having now.

It just shows the good nature of the residents of Nova Scotia. Communities are getting increasingly concerned with the time that it's taking to restore some of the power to our communities. I want everybody to know that you have to reassure these people that the people working in this province are working hard. I think they're stretched to the limit right now, and I hope after this is all said and done, about this incident, that we do have an evaluation of what happened, to maybe increase such things as linesmen. It takes a devastation like this to realize what we really need, our needs as a province to provide our residents with the staffing ability to restore us back to some normality.

Personally, as a paramedic working in this province, as they said many times to us, we're not paid to be busy. There is a lot of down time as a paramedic, but it's not that you could look at it and say since there's not many calls in a certain area of Nova Scotia, you don't need paramedics. You need people in positions to be able to respond to events like this. Not only if it's an emergency, a health emergency as paramedics respond to or like I did in the past, but people like the linesmen who are there to restore one of our vital needs - electricity.

As we've heard many times throughout the day, it's vital to have power in our community to be able to provide us with electricity for our fridges and our stoves, for freezers and also for a lot of people in rural Nova Scotia, providing them with water, the pumps that are involved with the wells.

I just want to say again that it was a great resolution to bring forward and I support it. The outcome of this was not what everybody expected, but I think we need to learn that in the event of another hurricane like this that we may need to be more prepared. I think we need to thank all the workers who are out there, all the military men and women who are out cleaning the sides of our streets right now, clearing debris from yards and walkways. They're working in dangerous conditions right now and I hope they stay safe when they're out there working and I hope we don't have any more tragic loss in our province.

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As you are aware, a good colleague of mine paid the ultimate price early Monday morning. He enjoyed his work, and just like many of the linesmen and many of the people out in our communities who are called on during these disasters, they enjoy doing that. They look forward to being able to provide some help to people who may not be able to do it for themselves. Just to mention, John Rossiter enjoyed his work as a paramedic and I don't think you could have kept him away from the trucks that night even if you told him today that someone was going to perish in that hurricane.

So, I really want to thank all the workers and the volunteers in our communities throughout Nova Scotia, especially the volunteers and the neighbours. It's been outstanding how they've responded. I think we're lucky that these people had the ability to get out and volunteer, because I think this would take a lot longer if we didn't have volunteers in our community clearing debris. I think if we waited for these men and women who work for some of these services who are out being paid to clear the streets, it would be a long time before we get back to normal.

So, in closing, I just want to thank the member for bringing this resolution forward and I want to thank again all the workers and volunteers in the Province of Nova Scotia to hopefully get us through this in a quick and speedy manner.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to talk about Hurricane Juan. Being from rural Nova Scotia - Colchester North - it wasn't until after I got up in the morning that I realized the devastation that took place. We were without power at our place.

Our phone was still working, and at 6:50 the phone rang and it was a person who lives by my cottage, which is approximately 50 kilometres away in Little Dyke, who advised me that the roof was partially torn off of my cottage. At that time, I went outside and I looked around and I could see the trees that were down on my farm and it was a lot like pick-up sticks.

So I left for work that morning and I started driving down my lane and the trees were across, but I could get out to the highway. I'm talking about before 9:00 a.m. What did amaze me at this time was that trees that were down at that time on the highway were actually cut by the Department of Transportation and Public Works and made the road passable into Truro, which is 30 kilometres away.

[6:15 p.m.]

While driving into Truro that morning, it was obvious to me that something dramatic had taken place. It was then that I learned through a radio station in Halifax, because the Truro radio station, of course, was off the air itself, that a hurricane had come ashore and the

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brunt of it had touched Halifax and continued up through Musquodoboit, Colchester, through to Tatamagouche and P.E.I., branching off course to Pictou County and a bit into Cumberland County. It was almost as if a tornado had struck through that swath.

Coming into Truro I saw trailers overturned, hydro lines, the poles were snapped in two. Also reaching Truro, you were unable to navigate the streets. The trees were uprooted. You see a lot of damage to houses. My son and daughter, who also live in Truro, are without power as I speak. When I left this morning, they were still without power and I know that my wife is still without power tonight. One of their trees fell in the neighbours' roof, and my son, one of his big trees, went over.

But to realize this devastating effect and the way the emergency crews went into operation - I know there has been criticism labelled by the Opposition, to me sometimes criticism is necessary and should be directed, but often it's a case of criticism it's the lowest form of wit. I've heard a lot in this Legislature in the last two days. Some of it is probably warranted, but a lot that isn't, as we know.

In closing this late debate, I would like to thank the volunteers who came in and EMO and the coordination that has taken place, the coordination sending in the Army troops and the coordination getting the communication out. In fact, just an example is the radio station in Truro which has an AM and FM station, they called me in the morning and they were having difficulty getting through, of course, because the chaos was still in effect, and not that I did accomplish the things they wanted me to but I did try. EMO was contacted in Halifax. An effort was made and Nova Scotia Power was probably contacted. What had happened was the transmission backup had blown in the tower, through a surge of electricity which put the radio station off the air, which meant that the people in Truro, if they couldn't get the Halifax station then they were without communication. They didn't know exactly what was happening. EMO and Nova Scotia Power and the radio station, they were able, at seven o'clock that night, approximately, to get the radio station back on air.

I must commend the radio station for getting news out. In fact, when they came on the air, they worked right through the night and were very informative about what was going on, and advising people. People at that time, of course, would have transistor radios on and so on, and they were being advised. I know that Nova Scotia Power is to be commended. As I speak, they are still working, trying to restore the amount of electricity. In fact, they have 150 power crews and they are working tirelessly around the clock to restore electricity. They also have teams from New Brunswick and Maine, and they were also brought in to help solve the problem. Mr. Speaker, I was looking at you when you were motioning. How much time?

MR. SPEAKER: Your time has expired.

MR. LANGILLE: Oh, I'm sorry. Thank you.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I am glad that time permits me to speak tonight as well. I think there's no question that we support the resolution that has been brought forward by the member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. I certainly think it is important that we recognize volunteers, but I do feel that this discussion is really premature. There are still people without power, particularly, as I mentioned in an earlier resolution today, the seniors who are stuck in apartment buildings. To me, heading into 72 hours without power, there is a crisis still going on. It's a little early to sing the praises of the people who are working hard to restore power and have done a good job up to this point.

We're still in the midst of what really is a crisis. I haven't heard anything here today that lets me know that the people who are trapped in apartment buildings are being reached. A lot of them may not have phones; they may not know where to phone. The numbers that have been given out at some length in the last two days here in the House are very general. They're generic kind of phone numbers and they're not going to tell you what to do if you really feel isolated or frightened, you know if you have run out of candles and batteries, if you haven't got any food left - and after 72 hours all of the announcements have told us that our food is no longer safe to eat. We've read in the paper about people who are diabetics whose insulin is no longer any good because it's kept in the refrigerator.

So people are in some crisis right now and I feel that in the urban area - I know there are different levels of crises and different things happening in various areas, but in the urban area we have a lot of apartment buildings. In my district alone I would say probably between . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Constituency, constituency.

MS. WHALEN: In my constituency 30 per cent or 40 per cent of the people live in apartment buildings and a lot of them are elderly. I have knocked on many of those doors in the last few months during the election, and I know an awful lot of them are elderly or disabled, or unable to make the stairs on their own. So those people really need to be contacted, and as much as I support saying all the goodwill things that have been happening - certainly in the neighbourhoods a lot of good things have been happening, the weather has been fine, people are barbecuing, and it's bringing neighbourhoods together, and that has all been very wonderful and I've shared in that, but my neighbourhood this morning still didn't have power and it is a crisis for people who are elderly who can't get out and connect with those neighbours.

I also know that in apartment buildings there's a great deal of isolation. People don't know each other to the same extent that they do in homes, and therefore it becomes even more critical that the government has some sort of organized approach to get into those buildings and ensure that people have been contacted and that they are all right, and as much

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as you might say that an MLA's job is to do that, I don't think I can reach the thousands of apartment buildings that are in the Clayton Park and Fairview area.

So I would hope that something is being done in that regard as well, and that's really the purpose of my rising tonight, to say yes, I applaud the efforts of everybody who's working to restore some normalcy to the city, and I think it's wonderful that they are clearing streets and buses can run again. That's all very important, and working on extending the power which is essential, but we need to get out there now and start to contact people in apartments and even in homes that people know of areas where they may be isolated, but I think the high apartments are where we should begin this effort because those people are really at risk after 72 hours without power. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise in support of the resolution and I think it was Charles Dickens who once said that, these are the best of times and these are the worst of times, and I think this past two or three days we've gone through that and it has been very, very difficult for many people, right down to, unfortunately, the loss of the lives of two Nova Scotians.

Personally, I come from the North Shore, as the member opposite has spoken about, and in Pictou County we had some serious devastation there. I guess the first big news I heard on Monday morning in my riding was the fact that our historic Ship Hector was washed aground. It broke its moorings and it sailed a little bit across the water and hit against the local restaurant and was actually listing on quite a sharp angle - a lot of concern because a lot of people over the last 10 or 15 years have more or less grown up with that particular ship and are attached to it, but fortunately when the high tide came in around noon, it righted itself and was able to be freed from the rocks by heavy machinery and was towed back to its moorings. There is some damage, slight damage, but it's not serious. There is physical damage out there, but it's not anything that can't be fixed.

This resolution speaks about volunteers and I think we can first of all talk about many of the unsung heros who are out there who perhaps don't get much attention here. I haven't heard too much talk today - and I'm thinking of people in the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. These are people who over and over come back and are always there - 24 hours a day they're willing to be available - and not just in situations like this, but in many, many disasters and floods and storms that take place. So we should remember those two groups of individuals.

There are also many other unsung heroes who are out there who perhaps you don't even think about, but they're not a member of an organization, they're not a member of a fire department. They're just your neighbours, your friends, your family who will, as the previous member mentioned, step up to the plate and do something to help. We have a lot of people

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out there who have done a lot of work, and I think we're thankful to the many volunteers. I understand my time is up. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: There are about four minutes left in the Liberal's time in this debate, if anybody else in the Liberal Party would like to finish, and if not I will open it up to any member who is here this evening.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East, given the fact that there is no one in the Liberal caucus who wants to finish.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, I do agree that volunteerism is fantastic, it's great; that's how I come to be here, that's how I started out, you could say. However, I do have to go back and speak about something I did see on TV last night, where some seniors were helped out by the Red Cross. I know the Red Cross is doing everything they can, within their power, to help out these seniors in apartment complexes by giving them one bottle of water and a granola bar. However, I don't think that's enough to keep these people healthy during this crisis. I do believe it's up to our government to step forward and provide some kind of crisis intervention in whatever way they can. In times of world crisis, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Canada reach out a helping hand to other countries, other provinces, we help out each other. I think there's a lack of a helping hand here within our own province, towards ourselves and especially those in metro and everywhere else.

Another thing I would like to mention is that we have seen one very destructive fire in which there has been loss of life, a mother and two children. I do believe that it's a possibility that this was caused because of the use of candles. I don't know if people - I am sure most people are aware, but when your electricity goes off, a lot of smoke detectors are run on an electrical current and they're not battery operated. A lot of these apartment buildings do not have the battery-operated smoke detectors.

It is something that's still a concern, and I think we're going to have to deal with that. I certainly agree that we're just not seeing enough help come forward. There's no sense in waiting until it's all over and then say, let's assess it. I know everybody is doing the best job they can, but we've only got so many staff working on these problems and so many volunteers to do the work. Certainly, we should continue to press forward with the government for as long as it takes. I am sure this isn't going to be the first hurricane that's going to hit here. Our oceans are warming up, we have climate change. You're cutting me off. Okay. All right. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member's time has expired. Thank you.

The time allotted for this evening's late debate has expired. I would like to thank the honourable member for bringing it forward, and the honourable members for taking part in this debate tonight. We appreciate it very much.

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The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 125

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas for 14 years the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year Award has recognized the sustainable woodlot practices landowner use and increased public awareness of the importance of private woodlots in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas woodlot owners are evaluated on their effort and commitment to setting and meeting sustainable goals for their land, and one owner is selected from nominations from each of three regions with one selected for the top award; and

Whereas the eastern region's winner is Phillip Clark of Brophy, Antigonish County, and David Meehan of Rawdon Gold Mines, Hants County, is the winner from the central region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Phillip Clark and David Meehan for their dedication and commitment to sustainable forest management, and that members take advantage of the field days organized to show the public good forest management practices on private woodlots in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 126

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year Award recognizes a private woodlot owner who puts extra thought and care into woodlot activities and sets an example of outstanding stewardship; and

Whereas Richard Irving of Baxters Harbour, Kings County, has been named the 2003 Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year; and

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Whereas with special attention to increasing the diversity of plants and animals on his woodlot - land that has been in the Irving family since 1917 - Mr. Irving has changed his woodlot from overgrown pastureland of white spruce, back to a representation of an Acadian forest, leaving special wildlife corridors and refuges for sensitive plant life;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Richard Irving for his sense of stewardship toward the forest, and applaud the many positive changes happening on private woodlots across Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 127

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism and Culture)

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour and is bestowed on those Nova Scotians who have given of themselves, their time and their talent, and have made extraordinary contributions to our people and our province; and

Whereas Hugh Allan (Buddy) MacMaster of Judique is a renowned Cape Breton fiddler who, through his music, has helped to preserve our province's Celtic culture; and

Whereas Buddy MacMaster has donated countless hours to his community and has inspired many young musicians to follow in his path;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Buddy MacMaster on being named to the Order of Nova Scotia and for his part in keeping the spirit and love for Cape Breton music alive and thriving.

RESOLUTION NO. 128

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas International Literacy Day is celebrated each September 8th and provides a perfect background to recognize the dedicated efforts of literacy advocates and volunteers across the province; and

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Whereas the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning Community Literacy Volunteer Awards were created to honour four volunteers who make the community-based adult literacy programs they work with a success, and this year, Jane MacDonald, has been so chosen; and

Whereas Ms. MacDonald, a founding member of the Nova Scotia Provincial Literacy Coalition, has been a reliable and contributing member of the Cape Breton Literacy Network Association (CBLNA) since its earliest days, lending her experience to provide invaluable help with the network's important organizational and strategic activities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jane MacDonald and thank her for the significant and lasting contributions she has made which have benefited adult learners in the Cape Breton region and throughout the province.

RESOLUTION NO. 129

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour and is bestowed on those Nova Scotians who have given of themselves, their time and their talent, and have made extraordinary contributions to our people and our province; and

Whereas Dr. Robert Arnold Burden of Springhill is a physician and community leader who, over many years, has put the health of his patients ahead of his own well-being, risking his life in 1956 and again in 1958 to help miners caught in the Springhill mine explosions; and

Whereas Dr. Robert Arnold Burden's work and name have been given a place in Nova Scotian's history, so that the high standards he set for himself will be emulated by others into the future;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Dr. Robert Arnold Burden's induction in the Order of Nova Scotia and for the excellence of his life's work which has commended him to this top honour.

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RESOLUTION NO. 130

By: Hon. David Morse (Community Services)

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour and is bestowed on those Nova Scotians who have given of themselves, their time and their talent, and have made extraordinary contributions to our people and our province; and

Whereas David Alexander Colville is an internationally renowned artist and teacher who has exhibited extensively across Canada and around the world, provoking the public's thought and inspiring young artists to pursue their dreams; and

Whereas Alex Colville's work and name have earned him the pride and respect of Nova Scotians and has a place in Nova Scotia's history as both artist and citizen;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Alex Colville on being named to the Order of Nova Scotia and for the excellence of his life's work which has earned him this top honour within our province.

RESOLUTION NO. 131

By: Hon. David Morse (Community Services)

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

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour and is bestowed on those Nova Scotians who have given of themselves, their time and their talent, and have made extraordinary contributions to our people and our province; and

Whereas Shirley Burnham Elliott, Wolfville, is a librarian, scholar, community volunteer and mentor; and

Whereas due to her efforts during her tenure as legislative librarian, much of Nova Scotia's history has been preserved and documented for future generations;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud Shirley Burnham Elliott on being named to the Order of Nova Scotia and for her part in preserving the history of this province for future generations.