Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-7

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

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Second Quarter 2003, The Workers' Compensation Board,
Hon. K. Morash 435
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 166, Educ. - Teachers (N.S.): Service - Thank, Hon. J. Muir 436
Vote - Affirmative 436
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 10, Municipal Elections Act, Hon. B. Barnet 436
No. 11, Collection Agencies Act/Consumer Creditors Conduct Act,
Hon. B. Barnet 436
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 167, NSPI - Information Provision: URB - Require, Mr. K. Deveaux 437
Res. 168, Kings North MLA - Gov't. Job Creation: Failure -
Realization, Mr. Manning MacDonald 437
Res. 169, Calvin United Church (New Glasgow): Anniv. (95th) -
Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 438
Vote - Affirmative 439
Res. 170, Auto Insurance Scheme (NDP): Cost - Details,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 439
Res. 171, Flick, Todd - Firefighters Championship: Best Wishes -
Extend, Hon. R. Russell 440
Vote - Affirmative 440
Res. 172, Quinn, Bob - Rock Bands: Performances - Tribute Pay,
Mr. D. Dexter 440
Vote - Affirmative 441
Res. 173, Fin. - Financial Troubles: Tax Rebate - Causation,
Ms. D. Whalen 441
Res. 174, New Germany Med. Ctr.: Anniv. (10th) - Congrats.,
(by Hon. J.Muir), Hon. M. Baker 442
Vote - Affirmative 442
Res. 175, Health - Diabetics: Fin. Relief - Provide, Mr. C. Parker 443
Vote - Affirmative 443
Res. 176, McGuinty, Dalton: Election Victory (Ont.) - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 443
Res. 177, Alex, Erica - Tae Kwon Do: Accomplishments - Commend,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 444
Vote - Affirmative 445
Res. 178, Sampson, Rhona/Finishing Touch Hair Design: Anniv. (8th) -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 445
Vote - Affirmative 445
Res. 179, Barker, Dr. William - Kings College: Pres. -
Installation Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 446
Vote - Affirmative 446
Res. 180, Hiscock, Olive: Birthday (106th) - Congrats.,
(by Hon. Rodney MacDonald), Hon. C. Clarke 446
Vote - Affirmative 447
Res. 181, Dart. North Anl. Picnic: Dart. Boys & Girls Club/Sponsors -
Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 447
Vote - Affirmative 448
Res. 182, Buckland, Brooke - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 448
Vote - Affirmative 449
Res. 183, Martin, Jenna: Track & Field Conquests - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 449
Vote - Affirmative 449
Res. 184, Hurricane Juan - East. Passage Beaches/Parks: DND -
Restore, Mr. K. Deveaux 450
Vote - Affirmative 450
Res. 185, Burden, Dr. Robert Arnold: Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 450
Vote - Affirmative 451
Res. 186, Gallagher, Jake: Track & Field Accomplishments - Commend,
Hon. P. Christie 451
Vote - Affirmative 452
Res. 187, Eigg Mtn./Gully Lake: Wilderness Protection Areas -
Designate, Mr. C. Parker 452
Res. 188, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. Min. - Price Gouging: Protection -
Commend, Mr. Gerald Sampson 452
Res. 189, Irving, Richard: N.S. Woodlot Owner of Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 453
Vote - Affirmative 454
Res. 190, Step by Step Child Care Ctr.: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 454
Vote - Affirmative 455
Res. 191, Windsor Hockey Heritage Soc. - Hockey Heritage Ctr.:
Business Plan - Commend, Mr. S. McNeil 455
Vote - Affirmative 455
Res. 192, Mulgrave - Mayor/Council: Commun. Spirit - Commend,
Mr. R. Chisholm 456
Vote - Affirmative 456
Res. 193, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Burnside: Transport. Issues -
Address, Mr. J. Pye 456
Vote - Affirmative 459
Res. 194, MacMaster, Hugh Allan (Buddy): Order of N.S. - Congrats.,
Mr. Michel Samson 457
Vote - Affirmative 458
Res. 195, RCL - Westville Branch 35: Anniv. (75th) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 458
Vote - Affirmative 459
Res. 196, Blue Book Promise - Seniors Insurance: Unfulfillment -
Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 459
Res. 197, Col. Co. EMO - Pictou Co. Militia Assitance: Offer -
DND Allow, Mr. B. Taylor 460
Res. 198, NDP Ontario - Non-Party Status: Sympathies - Extend,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 461
Res. 199, Simmonds, Morton - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 462
Vote - Affirmative 462
Res. 200, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Oaklawn Farm Zoo: Ward Road -
Condition Address, Mr. L. Glavine 462
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, Automobile Insurance Reform Act 465
Mr. J. MacDonell 465
Ms. D. Whalen 473
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 478
Mr. K. Colwell 482
Mr. W. Estabrooks 485
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Justice: Retail Stores (05/10/03) - Opening, Hon. M. Baker 497
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, Automobile Insurance Reform Act 499
Mr. W. Estabrooks 499
Mr. H. Theriault 502
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 210, Col. Co. EMO - Pictou Co. Militia Assitance: Offer -
DND Allow, (by Hon. E. Fage), Mr. B. Taylor 502
Vote - Affirmative 503
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 1, Automobile Insurance Reform Act 503
Mr. H. Theriault 503
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 505
Hon. R. Russell 512
Vote - Affirmative 512
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Oct. 6th at 4:00 p.m. 513
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 201, First Presbyterian Church (Hopewell) - Anniv. (40th):
Members - Commend, Mr. J. DeWolfe 514
Res. 202, Kingstec - Online Learning: Instructors - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 514
Res. 203, Kespuwick Commun. Congress: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 515
Res. 204, Forsythe, Therese - NSTA Monologue: Submission -
Inclusion Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 515
Res. 205, Robinson, Karen - Healthy Schools: Efforts - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 516
Res. 206, MacDonald, Wayne - MS: Commitment - Appreciation Express,
Mr. M. Parent 516
Res. 207, Coldwell, Doug & Dawn - Little River Kennels: Success -
Congrats., Mr M. Parent 517
Res. 208, KLJ Field Services/Apple Valley Food - Export:
Achievement Awards - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 517
Res. 209, Flynn, Mark: Cdn.Middleweight Boxing Champ - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 518

[Page 435]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 3, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Second Quarter 2003 report of The Workers' Compensation Board.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

435

[Page 436]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 166

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

Whereas this Sunday, October 5th, is World Teacher Day; and

Whereas teachers in Nova Scotia work tirelessly every day to give our young people all the opportunities of a quality education; and

Whereas our teachers also help our young people develop their sense of citizenship and pride in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the teachers of Nova Scotia for their service to our children and our society.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 10 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 300 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Municipal Elections Act. (Hon. Barry Barnet)

Bill No. 11 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 77 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Collection Agencies Act; and Chapter 91 of the Revised Statues of 1989. The Consumer Creditors Conduct Act. (Hon. Barry Barnet)

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

[Page 437]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 167

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

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Incorporated work crews have done a heroic job in ensuring Nova Scotians get electricity as soon as possible; and

Whereas many residents in Nova Scotia are suffering anxious moments and days, not knowing an approximate day and time their electricity will be reconnected - including myself; and

Whereas Nova Scotia Power Inc. power outage telephone answering service did not provide any details to ensure Nova Scotians could have a minimum of information to allow them to plan their lives accordingly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Minister responsible for the URB to request the board to require Nova Scotia Power Inc. provide more information when future problems arise.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 168

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

Whereas the member for Kings North is obviously upset with his own government and has joined ranks with the Opposition; and

[Page 438]

Whereas the member has been publicly quoted as asking what his own government has been doing to create jobs within his riding due to his government's failure to keep a processing company, employing 25 people, stay within the province; and

Whereas the member for Kings North should know that due to his government's inaction, the unemployment rate has increased by 1.7 per cent and the number of people out of work increased by over 8,700 jobs in the last two months;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge that the member for Kings North has finally realized that when it comes to maintaining and creating jobs within our province this government has failed almost as bad as the NDP would.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 169

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

Whereas on Sunday, September 28th, Calvin United Church of New Waterford celebrated 95 years of serving its congregation; and

Whereas this congregation has survived two World Wars and a fire that destroyed one of its churches; and

Whereas the congregation of Calvin United Church have always been leaders in the community in civic and religious matter;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Reverend Duncan Roach and his congregation on this momentous occasion.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 439]

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. 170

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 has refused to provide financial details on the cost of setting up public auto insurance in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this proposed NDP scheme will cost the taxpayers of Nova Scotia an unknown amount of money, as outlined in Bill No. 4; and

Whereas the only factual detail the NDP can provide on the cost of setting up public auto insurance is by virtue of the member for Hants East who suggests "that any member who is interested in the cost of setting up public auto insurance should go out West and do their own research";

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP admit they do not know the true cost of public auto insurance or, simply, are refusing to provide full details because they know the $2 million fee announced is artificial at best.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 440]

RESOLUTION NO. 171

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

Whereas Windsor firefighter Todd Flick will compete in the World Firefighters Combat Challenge Championship in Ottawa in early November; and

Whereas to advance to the world championships, a firefighter must have a time of less than two minutes in regional competitions, which Todd obtained in Charlottetown in early September; and

Whereas this gruelling physical challenge involving everything from climbing and retreating 14 flights of stairs to dragging 50 pound weights in full turnout gear is broadcast around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend firefighter Flick for his tremendous durability and wish him every success in Ottawa in November.

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 Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 172

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

Whereas today marks the start of Nova Scotia Music Week; and

Whereas on Saturday, Bob Quinn will bring together members of legendary rock bands for an unforgettable evening of music; and

[Page 441]

Whereas these musicians include Everyday People, Molly Oliver, SOMA, Dutch Mason, Peppertree, RAM, Oakley, Snakeye, The Battery, and Sam Moon;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House pay tribute to Bob Quinn and these legends of rock music, and thank them for forming the soundtrack of our misspent youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 173

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

Whereas it's ironic that three days after the arrival of Hurricane Juan, some Nova Scotians have received their $155 cheques; and

Whereas while the money is probably welcome for those few who have received this latest round of cheques, imagine how much damage could be cleaned up with even a fraction of the $72 million that has been sent out as a pre-election tax scheme; and

Whereas at the same time those cheques arrived, the Minister of Finance is warning that there will be more cuts in services because of the damage caused by Hurricane Juan;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House remember that when this government attempts to use Hurricane Juan as the reason for our financial troubles, we will all know the truth, that it is due to the ill-advised rebate.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 442]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 174

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

Whereas the New Germany Medical Centre will celebrate its 10th Anniversary on October 4, 2003; and

Whereas the New Germany Medical Centre was built on land donated by Roland and Patricia Smith, with funds donated and raised by the community and the New Germany Medical Centre Association with local business donations; and

Whereas approximately 170 community volunteers participated in the construction of the New Germany Medical Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the New Germany Medical Centre on its 10-year Anniversary, and the New Germany Medical Centre Association, community volunteers and business owners for their demonstration of community spirit and leadership.

Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague, 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 443]

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 175

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

Whereas many Nova Scotians of all ages suffer from the debilitating disease of diabetes; and

Whereas the cost of insulin, needles, strips and other necessary supplies can be quite prohibitive for those who require daily treatment; and

Whereas this government has made a commitment in its Throne Speech to a low income assistance program for diabetics;

Therefore be it resolved that this government proceed as quickly as possible to provide meaningful financial relief for Nova Scotians who suffer from diabetes.

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. 176

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

Whereas the Ontario Liberal Party defeated the Progressive Conservatives last night, ending eight years of Tory rule in the province; and

[Page 444]

Whereas the Liberal Party easily formed a majority being elected in 72 ridings, the Progressive Conservatives in 24 and the NDP in 7; and

Whereas the people of Ontario have chosen improving health care and education over cynical tax cuts;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dalton McGuinty and his team on their impressive victory last night and welcome him as the next Premier of Ontario.

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 Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 177

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

Whereas Erica Alex of Antigonish participated for Team Canada at the University Games in South Korea in August of this year; and

Whereas Erica competed in the 67 kilogram women's welterweight division of tae kwon do, advancing to the quarter finals; and

Whereas this marked the first time in history that tae kwon do was a sport at the University Games, which are held every two years and is the second largest sporting event in the world in number of participants after the Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislative Assembly commend Erica Alex for her extraordinary accomplishment and wish her every success in all her future plans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 445]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 178

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

Whereas Finishing Touch Hair Design is celebrating eight years of operation in the Timberlea area - and for the member for Cape Breton Centre, also does the hair of the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect; and

Whereas Rhona Sampson of Finishing Touch Hair Design has provided a quality service to her customers; and

Whereas Rhona's professionalism and dedication are much appreciated by the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Rhona Sampson of Finishing Touch on her 8th Anniversary with best wishes of many years of success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 446]

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 179

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

Whereas Dr. William Barker will be installed today as the new President of Kings College; and

Whereas Dr. Barker becomes the 22nd leader of the Halifax university in a ceremony held at the school; and

Whereas Dr. Barker is the former head of English Language and Literature at Memorial University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate William Barker on becoming the 22nd President of Kings 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 Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 180

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

Whereas experiencing more changes in her lifetime than most of us can imagine, one of Nova Scotia's oldest citizens, Olive Hiscock turns 106 today; and

[Page 447]

Whereas Ms. Hiscock married in 1916 and moved to North Sydney soon after where she and her husband raised their family of 12; and

Whereas now with 31 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren and 13 great-great-grandchildren, Ms. Hiscock treats herself weekly by having her hair done - I'm not sure if it's at the same spot as the member for Timberlea-Prospect;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish Olive Hiscock a very happy 106th birthday and hope she enjoys many more.

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. 181

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 Dartmouth North Annual Picnic was hosted this year by the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club; and

Whereas many other agencies like the Dartmouth North Community Centre, the Parent Resource Centre, Crime Stoppers, the Halifax Regional Police Service and fire services participated in this fun day; and

Whereas the annual picnic provides a great opportunity for Nova Scotians to know and understand the role of these agencies within the community as well as participating in all the events a picnic offers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly congratulate the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club and the agencies for yet another great annual picnic.

[Page 448]

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. 182

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

Whereas Ms. Brooke Buckland was nominated for the Canadian National Griot Award, which recognizes the contributions Black Canadians are making in their community; and

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Award honours the talents, hard work and dedication of Black Canadians in 14 different categories, and will be held in Edmonton on October 4, 2003; and

Whereas with her nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Ms. Brooke Buckland is recognized for her outstanding achievement in the area of sports and recreation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Brooke Buckland on her nomination for this award, as well as for the dedication and drive she brings to her sport of swimming, and wish her continued success as she continues to set new records.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 449]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 183

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

Whereas 15-year-old Jenna Martin of Bridgewater recently put on an incredible display of athletics at the Royal Canadian Legion Track and Field Championships in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario; and

Whereas Ms. Martin set a national meet record for her age group of 15 years and under in the 400-metre dash with a time of 56.21 seconds, shattering a record set 18 years ago in 1985; and

Whereas as well as her gold medal, Jenna also took a silver medal as a member of the Nova Scotia medley relay team while also winning a bronze with the 100-metre relay team;

Therefore be it resolved that the efforts of Bridgewater's Jenna Martin are recognized by members of this House of Assembly, while wishing Jenna continued success with her studies and track and field conquests.

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.

[Page 450]

RESOLUTION NO. 184

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

Whereas the strongest winds measured with regard to Hurricane Juan were measured on McNabs Island in Eastern Passage at 152 kilometres per hour; and

Whereas three provincial parks in Eastern Passage were devastated by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas Rainbow Haven Beach, McCormacks Beach, and McNabs and Lawlor Islands Park are important to Eastern Passage for recreational, economical and cultural reasons;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the Department of Natural Resources to act quickly to bring the parks back to a level in which they can be used by area residents.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 185

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

Whereas congratulations go out to Dr. Robert Arnold Burden of Springhill for being one of five recipients of this year's Order of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Order of Nova Scotia is our province's highest honour which we can bestow upon an individual; and

[Page 451]

Whereas in 1956 and 1958, Dr. Burden risked his life to help miners trapped in the Springhill mine explosions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Dr. Robert Arnold Burden of Springhill for receiving this year's 2003 Order 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 Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 186

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

Whereas Jake Gallagher of Bedford recently won two silver medals at the Royal Canadian Legion Track and Field Championship in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario; and

Whereas Jake's two silver medals were won in the 17 and under category of the 1,500- and 3,000-metre races; and

Whereas Jake's two silver medals were part and parcel of Nova Scotia's 25-medal performance;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House commend Jake for his outstanding accomplishments, and wish him every success in all of his future efforts, both in school and on the track field.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 452]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 187

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

Whereas parks and natural areas provide protection for both plants and animals as well as benefits for people; and

Whereas this government has made a commitment in its Throne Speech, designating Eigg Mountain and Gully Lake as wilderness areas; and

Whereas Pictou County and northern Nova Scotia have no wilderness protection areas;

Therefore be it resolved that this government proceed as quickly as possible to designate the full areas of Eigg Mountain and Gully Lake as new wilderness protection areas.

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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 188

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

[Page 453]

Whereas this week of disaster in Nova Scotia required straight answers from elected officials, something that was lacking from this government; and

Whereas the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations pledged to prevent price gouging as a result of the storm, after I asked what his departments would do; and

Whereas the minister was clear in his answers and showed he was in control of the situation, unlike the Minister responsible for EMO or the Premier, who didn't seem to be all that concerned or aware;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations for demonstrating that he understood his role in protecting consumers after Hurricane Juan, while showing that at least one Cabinet Minister knows what his job is.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 189

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

Whereas Baxters Harbour resident Richard Irving has been chosen as the 2003 Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year by the Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas the Kings County native was selected for this prestigious award because of his special attention to increasing the diversity of plants and animals on his woodlot that has been in his family since 1917; and

Whereas Mr. Irving has changed the composition of his woodlot from an overgrown pasture land of white spruce to a representation of the Acadian forest, while leaving special wildlife corridors and refuges for sensitive plant life;

[Page 454]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in congratulating this year's Nova Scotia Woodlot Owner of the Year, Richard Irving and acknowledge his outstanding work and dedication to the preservation of wildlife on his property.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 190

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

Whereas Step by Step Child Care Centre is now open on the Prospect Road in Hatchet Lake; and

Whereas this welcome addition to our growing community is the result of the dedication and hard work of owners Carol Finch and Meg Kieran; and

Whereas Step by Step Child Care Centre is meeting an important need to the communities along the Prospect Road;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Meg Kieran, Carol Finch and the staff of Step by Step, with best wishes for many years of success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 455]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 191

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

Whereas the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society scored an important goal last Wednesday with the announcement it will get a needed financial boost; and

Whereas the society will get $33,000 for a feasibility study and development of a business plan for a new hockey heritage centre funded by the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency; and

Whereas the society was founded in 1992 to promote Windsor as the birthplace of hockey;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House send their best wishes to the Windsor Hockey Heritage Society as they move forward to develop a business plan for a new hockey heritage centre.

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

[Page 456]

[9:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 192

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

Whereas the Town of Mulgrave was first settled in 1800 by British Empire Loyalists fleeing the effects of the American Revolution; and

Whereas the Town of Mulgrave, after a series of meetings and false starts over a period of 16 years, finally voted to incorporate as a town in November 1923, by a vote of 121 to 26, with one spoiled ballot; and

Whereas on December 1, 1923, Mulgrave was officially incorporated as a town with the first town council meeting taking place on January 15, 1924;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize Mulgrave as a great place to visit and applaud the efforts of Mayor Leonard MacDonald and council and all the residents of Mulgrave for their heartfelt community spirit.

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. 193

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

Whereas Burnside Industrial and Business Park provides employment for some 17,000 Nova Scotians; and

[Page 457]

Whereas this park generates millions of dollars in revenue to all levels of government; and

Whereas there is a serious need to address the transportation issues within and around the park to alleviate the long-standing problem of traffic congestion entering and exiting the park;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works work closely with the Halifax Regional Traffic Management Group and the Transportation Committee of the Burnside Commission to remedy the transportation issues which are affecting the growth of the Burnside Industrial and Business Park.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 194

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

Whereas congratulations goes to Hugh Allan (Buddy) MacMaster of Judique for being one of five Nova Scotians to receive the 2003 Order of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Buddy MacMaster is a renowned Cape Breton fiddler who, through his music, has helped preserve the province's Celtic culture; and

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

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Hugh Allan (Buddy) MacMaster for receiving this year's 2003 Order of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 458]

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. 195

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

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion was originally founded to support our military veterans and their dependents and today its members' volunteer efforts spread throughout our communities; and

Whereas today the Legion is made up of volunteers from all walks of life, who are committed to remembrance and service, including veterans, serving and ex-service personnel, members of the RCMP, and police forces; and

Whereas this year, Branch No. 35 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Westville celebrates 75 years of supporting veterans, their families and a wide range of charities within our community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the members of Branch No. 35 of the Royal Canadian Legion on their 75th Anniversary and express our appreciation for the many hours they spend serving our community and keeping the memory of our many war heroes alive.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 459]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the resolution moved by the honourable member for Dartmouth North, if he would read the Therefore be it resolved again, perhaps we could reconsider it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North on the resolution.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable Government House Leader would pass me the Therefore be it resolved, I would be delighted to read the response back again. (Laughter)

Mr. Speaker, "Therefore be it resolved that the provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works work closely with the Halifax Regional Traffic Management Group and the Transportation Committee of the Burnside Commission to remedy the transportation issues which are affecting the growth of the Burnside Industrial and Business Park."

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. 196

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 1999 John Hamm blue book promise for seniors states that a John Hamm Government will, "Provide seniors 65 years of age and older who voluntarily participate in safe driving programs with a 50 per cent discount on Registry of Motor Vehicle fees."; and

[Page 460]

Whereas to date this commitment has not been fulfilled;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm explain to the seniors of Nova Scotia why they have been misled with another blue book promise.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 197

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

Whereas the Pictou County reserve militia has volunteered to assist the Colchester Emergency Measures Organization, Town of Truro and Colchester County with cleanup of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the provincial government has signed the necessary documents as required by the established protocol; and

Whereas the Department of National Defence has, as of 9:00 o'clock this morning, not given the required approval;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Nova Scotia Legislature encourage the Department of National Defence to expeditiously sign off this request so Colchester County can receive this much-needed help from the Pictou County volunteers who have made this generous offer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 461]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 198

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

Whereas Howard Hampton and the Ontario New Democratic Party have suffered a serious blow, falling short of the number of seats required to form an official Party; and

Whereas the Ontario NDP just haven't seemed to rebound from their defeat in the 1995 election where they were removed from power after sitting for just one term; and

Whereas it is obvious that the disastrous results of the Bob Rae Government have still not left the minds of Ontario voters;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their deepest sympathies to the NDP for their unfortunate demotion to non-Party status in the Province of Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, maybe I'm having a little difficulty hearing. I rise on a point of order, through you. Earlier on, I presented a resolution encouraging this House to support the Colchester County Emergency Measures Organization in asking that the federal government sign off a generous offer that Colchester County received from the Pictou County reserve militia to help the Town of Truro with cleanup. I understand that somebody had said no and I'm just not too sure whether or not that is the case or not because I find it pretty difficult to discern that that would happen.

[Page 462]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's not a point of order. I heard a No and it is the decision of the House.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 199

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

Whereas Morton Simmonds, nominated for the Canadian Griot Award, which recognizes the contributions Black Canadians are making in their community; and

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Award honours the talents, hard work and dedication of Black Canadians in 14 different categories which will be held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with his nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Morton Simmonds is recognized for his outstanding achievement in the area of volunteer services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Morton Simmonds on his nomination for this award as well as for the dedication and drive he brings to his community and wish him continued success in the area of volunteer services.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 200

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

[Page 463]

Whereas approximately 80,000 annual visitors come to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo to appreciate a variety of exotic animals which include big cats, monkeys, camels and orphaned wildlife; and

Whereas the Ward Road, which leads to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo is in deplorable state and needs immediate attention by the Department of Transportation and Public Works; and

Whereas this unique and ever-expanding farm plays a significant role in both the local and provincial economies as an established business within western King County and as a tourist destination;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Transportation and Public Works immediately address the condition of the Ward Road to increase the visitors attracted to the Oaklawn Farm Zoo.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver of notice.

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

I hear a no.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I ask for the indulgence of the House to request a moment of silence to recognize the death of two Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan.

MR. SPEAKER: I will ask all members of the House to rise as we observe a moment of silence for the two Canadian soldiers who lost their lives yesterday in Afghanistan.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, please be seated. I would like to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova for that.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. On Wednesday, October 1st, during Question Period, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova asked a question to the Minister responsible for EMO with regard to employees at the Izaak Walton Killam Health Centre having to take vacation days when they were told to stay home on Monday and Tuesday.

[Page 464]

I'm looking at Hansard, Page 228, on Wednesday, October 1, 2003, where the minister stated in his final response to the second supplemental that he would get back to the House tomorrow. That would be yesterday, October 2nd, with regard to reporting back on the situation, and we still haven't heard from the minister with regard to that. I'm standing on a point of order in hopes that we can get a response from the minister or someone else in government to do what he undertook, and I would like to see what the situation is with these workers and whether or not they are going to be docked vacation days or whether it's been adjusted by the government?

MR. SPEAKER: Obviously, the honourable minister did, at the time, as I recall, agree to report back to the House and I believe that we will take that up with him at the first opportunity.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Maybe, if it's possible at this time, the Government House Leader can give some undertaking, some understanding that by the end of today they will be reporting back something from the government with regard to this?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader can respond. I am not so sure he can respond on behalf of the honourable minister.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: I will take the advice of the Opposition House Leader under advisement.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 1.

[Page 465]

Bill No. 1 - Automobile Insurance Reform Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East. You have approximately 37 minutes.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will use whatever time I guess I deem necessary. I guess I probably can't live long enough to convince members opposite of the changes I think they should make as far as auto insurance. I do hope that in the time that I have to speak that I can dispel some myths, certainly those that are generated from a Liberal caucus, for sure. I do want to say that the honourable member for Cape Breton West in his resolution this morning only included part of the facts, I think. I did give him an answer to his question yesterday around the cost of our system, but actually told him that it wasn't necessary for him to believe me if he didn't want to. He could go West and take a look at and examine the systems that are there and they could certainly inform him, he didn't have to take my word on it. That was the information that I gave him.

[9:45 a.m.]

I also would like to - and I'll table this article from the paper as I refer to it. This is from last Spring I believe, The Daily News, Tuesday, June 10th "Auto Insurance. Grit numbers lacking . . . At best, Liberal research was slim and shoddy. That they are basing policy - and attacks on other plans - on faulty numbers is scary stuff. Nova Scotians deserve better." This is regarding ICBC: "Operating costs include, smartly, investing in preventing accidents. Between 1997 and 2001, $30 million to $60 million per year was invested in more traffic law enforcement, a tougher graduating licensing system for new drivers, improvements to dangerous intersections, and driver education. These cut down on accidents, which cuts down on claims."

I will also use this to correct a statement that I made. The members of the Liberal caucus talked about a bailout of the systems in the West and I said it would never happen, and I was wrong. There actually was a bailout in British Columbia, and I'll refer to comments by Gordon Adair, Executive Director of Finance for ICBC from 1974 - 79, where he said that the system there ran up a $180 million debt and that was based on politics where the NDP Government at that time, of Dave Barrett, was coming up to an election and they kept premiums artificially low in the run-up to that election - the system actually as they increased the premiums still wasn't cost-effective for the people of British Columbia. And this Mr. Adair also sits on the provincial Liberal Party executive in his Vancouver riding - there was a Liberal member who actually said the BC system works and that the people of BC, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan like the public system that they have.

Also, I want to raise the issue around no-fault and tort systems in the West. In Saskatchewan, where the member for Cape Breton West referred to the death of a young man there and all the claim the family could receive was $10,000, what I want to make clear to

[Page 466]

the member is that in Saskatchewan people who buy auto insurance have a choice: they can buy auto insurance under the no-fault system or they can buy it under the tort system. Because of that, you're limited by which system you pay under. So that probably had as much effect on the payout as anything else. Under the tort system, to my understanding, you don't sue the individual that you may have had an accident with, you have to sue the insurance company.

Manitoba has no-fault, and B.C. is purely the tort system - this is the system that our Party looked at and, I think of the three we thought the most appropriate type of system we'd like to see Nova Scotians have simply because they have the right to sue for claims and they're not limited by the no-fault system. We see that as a real disadvantage for people across the country.

I think the Tory Government is trying to tell Nova Scotians that this system will actually bring them savings, a 20 per cent reduction, but I think people should recognize - and I'll give them some numbers here from various insurance providers: for ING a $1,000 policy in 2000 will now cost $1,495.46; Cooperators, a $1,000 policy in 2000 will now cost $1,563.50; Economical, a $1,000 policy in 2000 will now cost $1,636.50; and Citadel a $1,000 policy in 2000 will now cost $1,506, so a 20 per cent discount at the rates that Nova Scotians have had to endure where policies have gone up by close to 65 per cent and maybe more in some cases that Nova Scotians are still going to be paying more than a 45 per cent increase and have a limit on the payout that they can receive.

I want to mention to members opposite, and for the Liberal caucus who I expect will raise this, the so-called discrimination regulations from August 1st, which were reinforced by this legislation, do not prevent discriminatory pricing in insurance. What they do is they simply disallow insurance companies from refusing to insure people because of things like age, sex and marital status. So they only prevent them from refusing, but not by discriminating against them according to price.

I think other members of our caucus have raised the issue and members of the Liberal caucus have raised the issue around the definition of minor injury and it is clear in this legislation that a minor injury can be quite a severe injury. But, as long as you heal, then it's minor. My colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, raised the example that you could literally break every bone in your body, heal from it and it would be considered a minor injury. This is something that the government has to look at. In absolutely no way could people consider this to be a minor injury or the impacts of that to be a minor injury.

This is an issue that has gone on now I think for over two years. We first saw the impact of this starting in the Spring of 2001. Two members of our caucus, the member for Cape Breton Centre and the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, called on the URB to have hearings into the skyrocketing insurance rates. There has been a push by the NDP caucus to try to make information clear to Nova Scotians on the impact of this, to try to offer

[Page 467]

an alternative to Nova Scotians and one that actually works. There certainly is no clear indication that the legislation that's before us in Bill No. 1 will have any significant impact.

As a matter of fact, what this bill is really saying is that the freeze that was imposed by the Tories last Spring didn't work. So the one thing that we tried to tell Nova Scotians, the one thing we tried to tell the members of the Tory Government was that their freeze wasn't a freeze. It was no time after that bill came into effect, actually it was back to May 1st even though the bill went through the House after that date, that our constituents were telling us that they were getting their insurance bills and they were having increases. The very message that we tried to tell people was that this bill on the freeze wasn't working and the fact that the government has gone down the road of this legislation indicates that it didn't work.

Now, you have to ask yourself, when there are models out there that do work that people like, why would the government not go there? Well, I would say, certainly, if they're hoping that this minority government will last two years, and I would expect they're thinking that - I know I'm not keen to be back on the hustings in a year, and I'm certainly not looking forward to another summertime election, I can tell you that, Mr. Speaker. For sure, this is more smoke and mirrors, hoping that this will somehow keep people confused for a couple of years, make them think that the Tories have actually done something. I know, for us, we will be getting the calls from people who will be saying, I thought I was getting a 20 per cent reduction, which they won't get. By that time, the government will feel that they're in a position, perhaps, to win a majority, and we will be back, trying to give some accurate information to people.

But by that time, they will have come to believe that the freeze didn't work, they will have come to believe that this bill on the 20 per cent reduction didn't work, and they will actually be looking for a solution. They're not going to be looking to the Tories in any way - actually, they won't be looking to the Liberals, because they were announcing a 15 per cent reduction. I have to say that during the election campaign, people I talked to were shaking their heads, saying why are they only offering 15 per cent? So I had to tell them, well, you better contact the Liberal candidate on that, because it didn't make any sense to me.

This is an issue that affects people right in their pocketbook. I know in my personal case, two vehicles that I have, neither one of them particularly new and both with a lot of kilometres, almost 300,000, our insurance went from $1,200 to $3,500. If anybody thinks I didn't feel the pain, I did. I took as much off as I dared, as far as coverage. That's not to say that that happened without claim. We did have some claims, and the insurance company, that was what they based this on. Actually, my wife had hit a deer, we replaced a windshield, and a collision, sight distance was blocked and our car got hit.

[Page 468]

Anyway, I'm certainly willing to say, yes, we made claims, but when the insurance industry tells me that the sum total of my claims, they want that money back in a couple of years when I have been paying for years and years without claim, it seems a little bit highhanded. If the government is going to tell me I need insurance and I'm in a position whereby I'm paying a lot for insurance, then you say to yourself, I don't dare make a claim because I don't want my insurance to go up, so I'm paying for insurance I can't use, that would be my take on it.

I think for most Nova Scotians, and there are a lot of Nova Scotians actually who are driving without insurance - I think we have a number here: convictions for driving without insurance increased by 47.5 per cent between April 1, 1997 and March 31, 2003, from 1,855 to 2,737. I think the honourable Government House Leader indicated in this House, in the Spring, that there was no increase in the number of people driving without insurance. Well, that's absolutely not true. Actually, if those people have accidents - it's bad enough that those people have accidents, but it's the people they have accidents with who are going to be the losers. These are people who are forced into a situation.

In this day and age, you have to have an automobile. In a country like Canada, with a large rural component, not everybody lives in a world where you have public transit. Certainly in my constituency that's not the case. I wish we did have some type of public transit system. When I think about people with low incomes or seniors, we really could use a system that could help them get around. But the reality is that for most of the population in Nova Scotia and even that significant portion of the population who live in the city here and have access to public transit, they still have automobiles, as well. In order to get around, you need to have an automobile. So to have insurance rates that are so high that people are willing to risk driving without it, this is an extreme situation and it's extreme for the people who they run into.

[10:00 a.m.]

There is nothing to indicate that the Tories have been willing to grapple with this situation in a way that actually will cure it. I want to tell the members opposite that there is an alternative. Surely, we've raised it enough. We've investigated it. We've even said, if you don't believe our numbers, do your own investigation. The models have been around for years and I think the test of time proves not only that they work, but that the successive Liberal and Tory Governments that have come in after those models were put in place didn't replace them. They've kept them there simply because they offer the best service for the dollar to the people who use them.

So why wouldn't this government want to go down that road? As a matter of fact, why wouldn't the Liberal Party want to go down that road, in particular when they know in British Columbia, the system that they've railed against, is one that presently has a Liberal Government and it's one that that Liberal Government had made comments that they were

[Page 469]

going to privatize the insurance industry there, but they didn't. As a matter of fact, it was the insurance brokers who actually made the strongest case, I think, in British Columbia for the government to keep it and it is certainly not one that is being made here by insurance brokers for us to go with a public system.

Well, maybe people can't have everything. Maybe the insurance industry has to figure out that it's time that it buckled to the needs of the people. If it can't do that, and this legislation won't do it, then it's time to have a public run system that is cost effective and returns a benefit to the people of Nova Scotia.

My colleagues have raised a number of issues in this bill. One of them is the limitation of pain and suffering awards to $2,500 for minor injuries, or any other non-monetary loss. Now that's the maximum. So the maximum a person could get would be $2,500 and that's not to say that everybody would get that. I can't understand why it would be that any of us in a system - if there was a system - whereby we were forced to have auto insurance, that this was something that you thought, well, I'm a little worried. If anything ever happens, I would like to have some insurance and especially for those of us who have been driving for a number of years. If we were 16 and this was the first time we had a driver's license, maybe our parents would want to have us insured just for their own protection because if their kids were to cause an accident, they would be on the hook.

But once you've had a few years under your belt and you've had a fairly good driving record, you could say to yourself, look, I don't need auto insurance anymore. I'm going to take the risk, but I will insure my kids. But that's not the world we live in. We live in a world where the government says, if you're driving, if you have a license, you have to have auto insurance or if you have an automobile, you have to have auto insurance. So when you're told you have to have it, then it would only seem reasonable that the government would offer you something that would be a reasonably-priced product that would actually meet your needs. That's not what happens in this province. In this province and across the country, you're forced to buy private, except in those places where they've offered public auto insurance.

As I said yesterday, if the models that we had proposed had never existed, (Interruptions) What's that? Did I table - oh, they're out there. Yeah, they're there for the minister to go and investigate. (Interruptions) I've heard the minister for EMO yesterday, talk in regard to hypothetical cases. When we talk about Hurricane Kate coming toward Nova Scotia, he said, well, we don't want to talk in the hypothetical. We just had a hurricane hit this province and devastate part of this province and we have another one that we know, it's not hypothetical, we know there's another hurricane heading in this direction and the worry is, that as far as the tracking looks right now, it could hit Nova Scotia. So the minister uses the word hypothetical, how he could even go there is beyond me.

[Page 470]

Now we have the ministers opposite talking with regard to the auto insurance as if public auto is hypothetical. It's not. Those models exist. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, if it was the Tory Government who wanted to bring in public auto, one of the first things they would do is they would investigate the public auto systems that exists. That would be the first thing they'd do. Common sense would tell you that. They would want to go and look at the systems that exist in the country to determine which one they think would best fit Nova Scotians. I think they would do that. I would think they would want to go there before they go to any other country, at least; they'd go and examine those systems that exist in Canada. Common sense would tell you that.

The fact that we proposed those systems - I think that if they wanted all the facts that they could probably write to any one of those provinces and ask the company to send them their brochure and their policies. It's simple enough. So the question has to be, what evidence do they have that it doesn't work? Silence from the other side, I don't hear any catcalls.

I'm going to assume that they don't have that evidence.

AN HON. MEMBER: That guy that used to meow, he never got re-elected.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a point of order?

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: No, Mr. Speaker, would the honourable member entertain a short question?

MR. SPEAKER: Would the member for Hants East entertain a question?

MR. MACDONELL: If he can entertain a short answer, yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West on a question.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I was hoping he would entertain the answer, I'll entertain the question. My question is, has he reconsidered from yesterday's position, and is he now prepared to provide the financial data that would support his Party's position on public auto insurance?

MR. MACDONELL: When I started my talk today, the first thing I addressed was his resolution around my comments yesterday. If he had paid attention when I was speaking, he'd have the answer to the question he just asked. This comes to the very point I raised. Why would he be concerned about our data? As a matter of fact, there's a Liberal Government in British Columbia that offers public insurance right now. That member has

[Page 471]

access to any information he wants from members of the same Party that he supports. I would assume that he would be assured that whatever information they would give him he could count on it, he doesn't need that information from us. Go West young man, get that information you so (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Quite clearly, I'm not advocating anything other than the fact that I am asking the member, by his own admission to have a public policy position and they even have a bill before the Legislature, yet they refuse to provide any member of the Legislature that they're hoping will support or give approbation to that with the vital details that are important. That's the point. If the member expects other members of the Legislature to start travelling around the country or to other jurisdictions to find the solution to what they say is their policy position, that's ridiculous.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is obviously not a point of order, but it is a point, I guess.

The honourable member for Hants East has the floor.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his intervention. It only serves to confirm for me the inability - he doesn't have to go travelling across the country. He can pick up a phone, we have technology. I answered the question for the member yesterday about the bill, about the information. (Interruption) If I thought I could set a snare for those rabbit tracks I would.

To the members opposite, to the members to my present left, the models that we've used as examples in the West that have been there, they're not hypothetical, the people in those provinces like them; actually the Tories and the Liberals in those provinces like them, because they keep them. So, therefore, for us, the consumer indexes in this province, any rating organizations have all said that public auto is the way to go - actually, even recently.

Now I'm sure if he wants to get numbers, maybe they have them, maybe they don't, but whatever investigation they've done, they feel quite assured that that can work.

The bill that we have presented to the House and actually the bill that we presented to the House as an option to this bill - because the member for Cape Breton South actually stood here and said if the members from the New Democratic Party vote this down, if the Liberal members vote this down, then Nova Scotians are the ones who are out of luck, because there is no other option. But there is an option, there is public auto offered by this caucus in our bill.

[Page 472]

The fine tuning of that, actually the member for Richmond raised the issue, he held up our bill and said, only five points in the bill, he dismissed it as nothing, and yet he complained because we were going to have six months for a commissioner to set this up. Now, you can't have it both ways. If he wants detail, if he wants this thing done right, then the appropriate thing would be to put a commissioner in place to see that it is done right. So he didn't want that, he wanted it set up the next day, which we think is not in the best interests of Nova Scotians. It hasn't been done here, but we think we have enough people in Nova Scotia with the smarts to do it, and a commissioner would be the right person to put it in their hands to set this thing up properly.

But there has been no evidence from any of the other jurisdictions that the taxpayers haven't gotten a reasonable benefit for the cost and in those jurisdictions the bureaucracy has been a reasonable one. Actually, it was a way to keep money from those provinces, the taxpayers or the drivers in those provinces who would be paying premiums, it was a way to keep the money from their premiums in their own province without it going to another jurisdiction, without it going to a foreign head office, to create jobs in their own province.

[10:15 a.m.]

I can't see why anyone, especially the Tory Government, who has made the pronouncement that they want to produce 30,000 jobs, why they wouldn't look at this as some of those jobs, they somehow seem to ignore the message that you can actually do this, do it in a cost-effective way, offer good service and create jobs for people in Nova Scotia and, plus, have a benefit for drivers in this province.

The Government House Leader, I think, had made a statement last Spring that this would cost the province somewhere in the range of $300 million to set up. What the Government House Leader didn't tell people is that Nova Scotians spend about $300 million a year in premiums in this province. That's where he got his number, I'm assuming that's where he got his number, that Nova Scotians spend, in premiums, about $300 million a year. That's not what this system (Interruptions) Oh, $500 million, that's not the number that I have.

AN HON. MEMBER: That doesn't surprise us.

MR. MACDONELL: I suppose. The fact that they spend those dollars in the present system is purely related to a relationship to the cost of the payouts and the profits. It should make some sense, I would think, to members of both opposite Parties that if you don't run a system based on profit, you can reduce your premium. You really only have to have dollars there for the payout side and the bureaucracy. We pay for the bureaucracy in other jurisdictions, and we pay for the profit. Recently, we've actually been paying for the return on investment that those companies didn't get in the stock market. They have been tapping us to get that money back.

[Page 473]

It would seem to me that there's no justifiable reason to make private auto insurance companies rich on the backs of Nova Scotians. Let's do a service for Nova Scotians that's cost-effective and delivers them a product that the government tells them they have to have anyway. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park. (Interruptions) Order, please.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I understand it . . .

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise and speak on this important debate on Bill No. 1, an Act to Amend the Laws Respecting Automobile Insurance. I listened with great interest over the last few days as various members of the House have brought forward many differing viewpoints. The Liberal Party was the first Party in the Legislature to raise the issue of rising insurance premiums and the financial hardship that this was causing Nova Scotia drivers of all ages. The rates were rising, seemingly without regard to accident claims or other obvious triggers for higher insurance.

The Liberal Party called for an all-Party committee at that time, to report back to the House. This call was not heeded by either the Tory Government or the NDP. The issue was important to the Liberal Government from the outset, and it continues to be of utmost importance to us now. During the recent election, we were the first political Party to articulate a plan to deal with rising insurance premiums. Our plan called for a legislated reduction of 15 per cent and a plan to control future increases by having them regulated. It was proposed that all future increases over 5 per cent would require the approval of the Utility and Review Board. In other words, the insurance companies would have to justify the need for substantial increases in the future. They could not increase insurance rates without going through the regulatory process.

Some of the previous speakers have belittled the notion of a 15 per cent reduction. Why would we propose this modest decrease, is the question being asked. The answer is very simply integrity. We did our homework and we looked at the situation carefully. We were not prepared to mislead Nova Scotians with wild, unsubstantiated claims of potential savings.

Nova Scotians want protection from future rate hikes as well as immediate reduction. They want to know that the reduction being offered is workable and we had done our homework and knew it was. The Liberal plan for insurance was heralded as reasonable, achievable and timely. During the recent provincial election I spoke to many people who have suffered increased rates through no fault of their own. They feel vulnerable to the

[Page 474]

continued increases and that's understandable. The regulatory help that the Liberals proposed would address these fears.

In drafting Bill No. 1 the government has followed a few of our suggestions. In fact, some members of the House have gone so far as to suggest that it's a Liberal bill crafted by the Tories to appeal to the Liberal Party and there are similarities, yes. Most notably, the Tories have moved to a legislated reduction because they can see that asking the companies to voluntarily reduce rates, as they did in New Brunswick initially, does not work. Yes, there is a cap on minor injuries as was proposed by the Liberals and, yes, the whole system is to be regulated by a review board, although the Tory bill suggests the creation of an entirely new body to oversee insurance and this may lead to a gross duplication of services that are provided by the URB.

Despite the similarities to what we have been advocating, this bill fails to provide the necessary protection of individuals that we see as essential. The cost of the changes that are proposed are costs to the rights of insured drivers. The bill as written takes away too many current rights and the balance is not there for Nova Scotian drivers and their families. Our Leader has said that the Liberals want to make minority government work. We don't want any delays that will cause this issue to go unresolved. Nova Scotians need insurance relief and they need it now. This bill may be able to provide that help if it is carefully amended. The first part of the bill that has to be revised is the definition of minor injuries. Minor injuries need to be defined, as the Tories led us to believe that it would be. During the campaign they were careful to point out that by minor they meant aches and pains, that it related to soft-tissue injuries.

Mr. Speaker, it is a far cry from the definition that we have before us in Bill No. 1. The current definition of a minor injury includes any injury that is "not permanent in nature". So if you're going to recover eventually, the injury is not serious. Let's be clear about that definition. It will not be supported by the Liberal caucus. Our Leader has been clear on this point and I could not agree more strongly. Many examples of serious injuries that would not receive proper compensation have been provided here in the last two days both by members of the Liberal caucus and by members of the NDP. We both see the folly of this definition and we know that it is the central issue in this debate.

This definition will be examined by the public and we will hear their conclusions and outcomes at the Law Amendments Committee of which I'm very pleased to be a member. It is at the Law Amendments Committee that this bill will be given the scrutiny that will lead to meaningful changes. The Liberal caucus is fighting for changes that will respect the rights of injured people. We know that only a fraction of the motor vehicle accident victims will be considered as seriously injured under this bill. In New Brunswick, where the same definition of minor injury is being applied, it was estimated that there would be 79 per cent of the claims that would not be considered serious in nature. In the same study it was quoted that this would have a reduction of 39 per cent of the costs for insurance companies. The

[Page 475]

reference to New Brunswick brings up the issue of the actuarial study that was commissioned by the Tory Government in order to support the 20 per cent fee reduction. The report has provided almost a carbon copy of the New Brunswick definitions, facts and figures. It's hard not to question the value for money on that particular study.

Mr. Speaker, I will return to the issue of Bill No. 1. It's clear that the clever definition of a minor injury will deprive seriously impacted accident victims and it isn't acceptable. What other benefits and protections are being changed if this bill goes forward as is? The maximum payout to victims of non-permanent injuries is to be $2,500. That means there's no room for seeking redress in the courts for a higher award based on genuine pain and suffering. The victims' rights to make their case before a judge will be denied. The minister took pains recently to remind this House that he is neither a doctor nor a lawyer and, therefore, could not answer some of the questions relating to the bill. I'm also neither a doctor nor a lawyer, but I could still understand the basic right that is afforded to victims to go before the courts and make their case based on the facts of personal pain, injury and suffering. Again, the regressive nature of the definition of a minor injury is going to leave many people under compensated for when they have genuinely serious injuries.

Income recovery is also being threatened by this bill. Only those who are considered seriously injured, as the bill is written now, are eligible for income recovery. That leaves others, yes, even the person who has been months in a coma, with only a $2,500 cheque. Under this bill, if you're considered seriously injured, you will get your lost pay, but not as much as is currently provided for.

Under the proposed rules, that payout will be for the lost salary, minus deductions for CPP, EI and income tax deductions. The net amount will be given to the seriously injured person. At present, the full amount is provided. Will these extra dollars go to help the provincial or federal CPP, EI and income tax revenues? No, the extra money which is currently paid to the injured person will now stay with the insurance companies, effectively lowering their payout costs and allowing them to reap a benefit from this legislation. We want to leave benefits with the people who need them. The intent of paying out lower amounts for income loss may be tax related, but it was not intended to leave more dollars in the hands of the insurance companies.

Sick days are another area where the employed accident victims will not be better off. Here is another trade-off that will take away from individuals. Currently, the insurance companies will pay the employer for the days that an employee is off work. So, at present, being injured in a motor vehicle accident doesn't take away from the accumulated sick leave a person has earned. Under this bill, that benefit is lost. Employers will take away those sick days for days lost at work because they will not be compensated for them by the insurance companies as they currently are. The employers will absorb a new cost, which will be passed on to employees through the loss of sick leave benefits and the insurance companies will pocket the money saved.

[Page 476]

Another clause of the bill that cannot go unchallenged relates to homemakers. I object to the change that sees an about-face in the recognition in the value of homemakers' work and contribution to their families and communities. Plainly and simply, the current system recognizes the economic value of the work performed by homemakers. This bill does not. In fact, the bill proposes to assign no value whatsoever to the services provided by a full-time homemaker, unless that person is a hired housekeeper. That is a significant backward step for women's rights. It's only in recent years that the work of women at home has been documented and counted by Statistics Canada and the Canadian census. Women across Canada pressed the federal government to measure and recognize the value of their unpaid work, their contribution to our national economy and to our well-being.

There is a measurable cost to replace this work with someone else who is paid if in fact the primary caregiver or homemaker is unable to provide these services. Make no mistake, this work is important and valued by Nova Scotians and their families. The Liberal caucus is not about to see the clock rolled back on this right. Women's unpaid work does in fact have a cost, and this bill threatens to totally ignore that fact, to the benefit, again, of insurance companies who can avoid a further obligation that they currently have.

This bill also has the potential to create a two-tier insurance system because more wealthy Nova Scotians will be able to purchase extra coverage to remain on par with the current protection that they receive. The cost may be significant to do so, but individuals can pay to increase their coverage to get back the benefits that may be lost through this bill. This needs to be carefully considered before we see average Nova Scotians having to make due with an inadequate level of benefits and protection.

I also have questions relative to the proposed Insurance Review Board. The bill takes about four pages to outline operations of that proposed board. The Utility and Review Board already exists and performs exactly the same sort of regulatory function that's being proposed for the Insurance Review Board. I question the need to establish an entirely new bureaucracy to oversee the insurance issue. The Utility and Review Board has the expertise, the experienced people, the facilities and the structure to handle the insurance review process. It would need increased staffing and resources, but I am willing to bet that it's a far more economical and efficient use of the review board that we currently have in place.

As we examine the pros and cons on the bill on insurance that is before the House, it is important to touch on the solutions offered by the NDP. The NDP are sticking to an unsubstantiated claim that they can set up a public system for insurance for only $2 million. This is completely at odds with the study that pegs the cost to set it up at more than $100 million. Who is right? The variance here is enormous and the danger is clear. If we ever decide to flirt with a public system, we may be hit by runaway costs that this province cannot afford.

[Page 477]

[10:30 a.m.]

I hope that I've made it abundantly clear. The bill before us is not in keeping with the original plan put forward by . . .

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has made reference to a study that establishes the setting up of a public system to be $100 million. I would like the honourable member to table that study, please. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South on the point of order.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on the point of order. The honourable member who just rose on that point of order should know that unless that honourable member was referring to that study, she's under no obligation to table that study in the House here today or anytime unless she's reading from it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member did make reference to the study.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The only documents that have to be tabled in the House, according to the rules, are documents that are actually read from. It's not a point of order, but it's a point.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park has the floor.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, the bill before us is not in keeping with the original plan put forward by the Liberal Party before the summer election. It violates many principles that we respect and stand by.

I'm looking forward to hearing from the public at the Law Amendments Committee and working with that committee and other members of this House to see the shortcomings of the bill addressed. Our goal in the Liberal caucus is to help the government come up with a reasonable Insurance Act that will control rising insurance premiums and prevent future dramatic increases. We want to ensure that Nova Scotians are adequately protected at a cost that is stable and predictable, as they deserve nothing less. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has an intervention at this time?

[Page 478]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: No, that's okay - later.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to get up and speak about Bill No. 1 brought forward by the government. As a member of our caucus, I feel I have a duty to all the people who have voted for me in my constituency of Sackville-Cobequid to express our concerns about this bill. We realize that this bill will probably be passed with some aid from the Third Party, but I think as an Opposition Party in this House, we have the right to stand here and debate what the people of Nova Scotia might have when this bill is passed, especially the concerns we have with the passing of this bill.

I've heard from members on the government side of the House and members from the Third Party that they wish we would vote this bill in quickly, for us to just agree with what is entailed in this bill. As I said before, I believe as an Opposition Party we have a duty to all the residents of the Province of Nova Scotia who voted for us, the 15 members here, and also the people in this province who voted for the candidates who ran in the other constituencies. We owe it to these people to stand here and voice our concerns about this bill.

I would like to just begin with some of the (Interruptions)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you. I would like to raise a few of those concerns that I've heard through my campaign in my constituency and a lot of them have to do with the increase they've had over the last two years on their insurance rates. In this bill it says that there should be a savings of 20 per cent, which sounds great to me if my insurance rate has only increased 20 per cent, or maybe even 30 per cent because I understand the need to make sure that all the costs are covered when you're running a business, but I've heard, over and over, through my campaign, increases such as 65 per cent, 70 per cent, 80 per cent, even as high as 110 per cent for a senior in my constituency. I don't know if I can go back to him after this bill is passed to tell him his saving is only 20 per cent. For someone who's on a limited budget, fixed income, social assistance, these people need vehicles, and a savings of 20 per cent is not going to cut it.

People need vehicles to get to work, to get to school, to take their families for appointments, such as medical needs. Some of us in the city or close to the city have the opportunity to use public transportation in order to do some of these functions and rely on these important transportation needs to get us to our work and to our appointments. People who are in rural Nova Scotia, which many of the members in the government and the Third Party represent, don't have the luxury of having public transportation as we do here in the city or to the extent that we do here in the city.

[Page 479]

I am sure that they too have some concerns about how the increase in insurance rates have over the last year or so. I don't know - I've talked to a few members from the government and the Third Party, they've expressed that some of their constituents have had large increases. I hope that they can go back to their constituents after this bill is passed and let these people who have had these huge increases know that you've tried your best and gotten them a 20 per cent reduction.

People are going without insurance. An increasing number in this province are being charged with having no insurance when they are stopped by the RCMP or by their local police in their communities. The convictions for driving without insurance have increased almost 50 per cent in the last five years. On a personal side, as a paramedic attending many accidents and calls throughout my career, it's amazing how many more people I see every day who tell me - while I'm trying to assist them - that they've been injured and they don't have any insurance. Here I am trying to provide some care for them, and their main concern is the large cost they are going to incur because they haven't been able to afford insurance on their vehicle.

When we look at this bill, the government wants to bring down the price of insurance. It says that the system is broken, we've heard that even from the people in the insurance business, and we need to fix this system. It surprises me that the only option that they feel they can bring forward is putting a cap on soft-tissue injuries to try to bring down the increased costs of insurance. Just before the election was called, the government proceeded to hire an actuary at about $100,000 to investigate and come back with a report on how they could bring down the insurance rates. I think it was a deadline after the election that this report was going to be tabled or finished. Coincidentally, I think within the first week or two of the election the government has come forward and announced that they're going to have a cap of $2,500 on the award portion of the soft-tissue injuries. I don't know if that was a waste of money or if we can get a rebate on some of the time that it took. Maybe the actuary we hired did a great job and was able to get this back to the government especially in time before election day, but I'm wondering if we might not have been able to save some money by not hiring an actuary.

It just shows that this legislation which is going to cap soft-tissue injuries is going to force the insurance companies to drop the rate. As we've seen in New Brunswick where the government there had a similar bill brought forward, the deadline for the insurance companies in New Brunswick was July 1st and they were supposed to start reducing the rates. Three out of the 70 insurance companies in New Brunswick responded to that deadline. I'm wondering how many insurance companies here in Nova Scotia are going to take a look at what happened in New Brunswick and defy any kind of legislation that is going to supposedly reduce the rates here in Nova Scotia. I remember seeing many interviews on TV about emergency debates in New Brunswick after the deadline because they didn't know what to do next and I've got a feeling that you might see that here in Nova Scotia.

[Page 480]

During the campaign many of the constituents I talked to were younger people. In my community, it's a growing community, a lot of students there, and what I've been hearing over and over from these young people, Mr. Speaker, was that their insurance rates are enormous. I had some young guys in my community telling me how they pay $5,000 for insurance for a year, probably the vehicle is worth about $5,000. It brings back memories of myself not too long ago, but when I purchased my first vehicle, it cost me $800 for my car and my insurance was $1,600. (Interruptions)

That was a few years ago. I'm astonished by what I heard when I was campaigning about these young kids paying a fortune to insure their cars. What it's making them do is, when they purchase these vehicles, they're having to finance their insurance. I know many of the loans officers in my area. One of the first questions when you purchase a car is how much is your insurance because they know that it's going to be a large number. A lot of these young kids who are still in high school, or going to university, they're on a limited income and they know that with the high costs of university tuition nowadays that they don't have that kind of money to pay their insurance upfront. So a lot of them are borrowing the money and just including it on the loan for their vehicle.

The other thing that concerns me about this bill is the lack of mention or the lack of need of helping the people who are put into the Facility Association insurance. One case in my constituency, a gentleman called me and stated that he had a letter from his insurance company that his rate was going to increase over $3,000 because his spouse had had a couple of claims and a couple of accidents and they were going to put him into Facility insurance. He is not going to benefit from the 20 per cent reduction in rates. It doesn't apply to him. He's either going to have to send a letter to his insurance company stating that his spouse is no longer going to drive his vehicle, or he's going to have to pay the money and have her insured and be placed in Facility insurance.

[10:45 a.m.]

As a paramedic, I've been to many calls over the years, especially motor vehicle accidents, and it surprises me in this bill about the definition of minor injuries. It's such a broad definition, minor injuries. I think a lot of people are saying it's such a broad definition that now the courts are not going to be dealing with awarding money to injured people, they are going to have to worry about explaining or fighting over this word minor injuries. What's defined as a minor injury? As I was saying, as a paramedic, I've been to many calls where people have been seriously hurt and I've seen many of them after several months of treatment, and some of them several years after treatment, who are battling what they would call maybe some minor injuries such as whiplash, which a $2,500 fee wouldn't get them back to where they want to be.

[Page 481]

If you've talked to many physiotherapists and people who rehabilitate people after injuries, a lot of them have the same concerns about the monetary number put on this, $2,500. I don't know if anybody in this House has needed the services of some of these people, but I can tell you from personal experience, it's not a cheap adventure. It's quite a cost incurred when you have to go through these treatments.

I know, like I said before, this bill would probably pass but we are here to show that we do have some concerns with this bill and the government and the Third Party have acknowledged that they think this is the best system. But if we look across this country of ours, there are several provinces that have been in the same situation that we are in now and have introduced the public auto insurance and, yes, in these provinces, it was the NDP that brought these systems in place, but many of these provinces have had several government changes since this public auto insurance was put in place, Mr. Speaker. When they start to mention that they are going to dissolve it or get rid of it or do away with it, the public, the people that vote them in, have stepped up and expressed their concerns. Public insurance run throughout this country is working and that's why the Conservative Governments in these provinces and the Liberal Governments in these provinces have kept . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And the Social Credit Governments.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): . . . and the Social Credit Governments, have kept these systems in place because they do work. I find it kind of ironic that here in Nova Scotia the other two Parties won't even have a look at what these systems are doing it with.

AN HON. MEMBER: You've seen it, read the reports, Mr. Minister. (Interruptions) The honourable minister will have his chance to speak.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): They will have a chance to speak on this bill, I'm sure they will. Mr. Speaker will allow them to speak.

AN HON. MEMBER: He's listening anyway.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Yes, he's listening. Mr. Speaker, like I said at the start of my presentation here, I feel that it's our duty here as a caucus and as the Opposition - and I've looked up the definition of "Opposition" and I've tried to read what the Opposition Party is meant to do when they're elected. I don't think, from anything I've read, that we are here to allow the government to bring forward bills for us to just sit down and pass them without debate, and that's why many of us here in our caucus are standing and expressing our concerns with this bill. We have had many people, thousands of people come to us with their concerns. It wouldn't be right for us to not bring these concerns forward. I've heard members from the government and members from the Third Party condemning us because we're standing here debating our concerns.

[Page 482]

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I just want to tell you that I've talked to a lot of people in my constituency who have had concerns with a cap on soft-tissue injuries. I hope that in a year's time, after the 20 per cent cut to the rates for this year cease to exist, that the rates don't skyrocket again. Are we going to have this debate again in a year's time? Maybe we will. I hope we're not in the position, like a few of the members have stated previously, where we're out campaigning again, especially in the summer.

AN HON. MEMBER: I'm going to lose 20 pounds. I want to out-walk Brooke again, bring it on.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): It's important that our concerns are heard here and that the government will take our suggestions. Hopefully, I'm hoping the insurance companies will do this 20 per cent decrease. I think in one year's time we will be standing here again, trying to figure out what we're going to do. The system is broken - and that's not just the people in my constituency saying that, the radio ads and TV ads from the insurance companies are saying the system is broken and we need to fix it.

I feel this bill is really not going to fix the problem, it's not going to address the real concerns and the real issues behind why our rates have skyrocketed over the last year or two. In about a year's time, maybe the government will look at our plan, maybe they will table a bill that would benefit all Nova Scotians, and that bill should be, and hopefully will be, to bring in a publicly funded auto insurance system. I would like to thank you, Mr. Speaker, for allowing me to stand here today and express some of my concerns. I wanted to make sure that I brought the concerns of many of my colleagues who also have concerns about auto insurance because we see it every day as we work as paramedics. We've witnessed many times over how people in this province go without insurance and how it really is detrimental to their family income if they're caught without insurance. So I would like to thank you for the opportunity for me to stand here and express some of my concerns.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure today I rise to speak on Bill No. 1, the law respecting automotive insurance. About two years ago the Liberal caucus called for overall all-Party legislation in the Legislature to come together to work toward a strategy on auto insurance issues. It has been clear to this point that that hasn't happened and as time goes on, the price is getting worse and worse for everyday Nova Scotians as they're trying to cope with the problem of ever-rising insurance and other costs that they're faced with daily. Because of that, a lot of people have had to change their habits greatly - stop driving, drive with no insurance and other things that can cause a great deal of grief to them and their families and other people they may have an accident with.

[Page 483]

We saw during the provincial election campaign that the Opposition, the NDP, indicated that the cost for a small car was - the paper was tabled here yesterday - approximately $2,000 for this small car to be insured. I drive a high-risk vehicle, the highest-risk vehicle you can drive. I have it fully insured and it cost me $1,000 a year. So I would like to know where they get their figures from on $2,000-plus insurance. It must have been some young person who has maybe had a couple of accidents, or whatever the case may be, to create this inflated high rate for insurance.

Then they go along to say that we can set up a new system for $2 million. Well, I've never seen the government set up anything for $2 million to the latitude that an insurance program would be to cover the whole province, all the residents in the province, all the difficulties that go with that, all the staff that would be required and all the work that would have to be done to structure that sort of a system, yet they still claim they can do this for $2 million. We've yet to see any study, any reliable study, any kind of a report that has been put in place and tabled in this place so all Nova Scotians can have a look at it. They have not come forth with all this information. (Interruption)

There's some rhetoric in the background here indicating Manitoba has done this, but Manitoba did this a long time ago and things have changed. If they haven't checked the federal laws and the agreements that the federal government has made over the past years with GATT and free trade and other arrangements and inter-provincial trades, that could seriously affect the cost of a system.

What do Nova Scotians need? Nova Scotians need long-term stable rates in insurance. That's the bottom line. That's exactly what Nova Scotians need. If you put that in place and make that work, then it will help Nova Scotians and things will move forward. Unfortunately, that isn't covered in this bill and it definitely isn't covered in what the NDP is proposing. Long-term stable rates, one that you know that when you go this year, if you've had an accident-free record and you haven't changed to vehicles that are in a high-risk range, to a high-risk vehicle, you know that your rate is going to be roughly the same as it was the year before and, in three or four years time, it's going to be the same. That's the sort of things that we have to ensure in this bill. We have to make sure this bill addresses that. I don't believe this bill does that at this point. We have to make sure this bill is changed and through the Law Amendments Committee process, make sure it's changed so that people have that opportunity.

[11:00 a.m.]

If you look at seniors who are trying to survive on fixed incomes, seniors that if an insurance rate or any other cost goes up 2 per cent, 3 per cent or 5 per cent and all these things add together, first thing they've got to move out of their homes, they've got to sell their vehicle and it reduces their mobility in the communities they used to live in. Those are things we really have to protect in the future. We also have to try and do something for the

[Page 484]

young driver who has taken the proper driver training, has a clean driving record and really is safety conscious. I know that accidents among youth are much higher than the rest of the population, but there has to be a system to do that and do it properly. So we have, again, a stable, long-term solution to this problem.

One of the things that has driven the cost to the taxpayers up is the ambulance fees. I remember when we were in government, we introduced the ambulance fee program with a ceiling of $85 on a call. If you get an insurance call now, my understanding is that it is $600. That's a substantial increase. That's a cost that the insurance companies have to bear now that before was covered by the province. Another case of downloading and costs that have gone to individual people, in lots of cases, who don't have the funds to pay the $600 if their insurance company, indeed, or if they are in an accident with a non-insured driver.

You look, also, at the issue of car injuries and the soft tissue injuries that are being talked about and a compensation maximum of $2,500 for broken bones, minor soft-tissue injury, whiplash, post-trauma stress. These will all be considered as minor injuries. That's a concern. I belong to an organization called the North American Chronic Pain Association of Canada and most of the people that have difficulties with long-term pain are things that cannot be medically diagnosed in the regular fashion. If this $2,500 cap is on individuals like that, it is going to mean people are going to lose their homes again. They are going to lose all their assets and through no fault of their own, be forced to go on the Community Service system, which we definitely do not want in this province. That would just add more cost to the taxpayers of the province and definitely not help the overall situation.

People have to be reasonably compensated for their injury. Now there's always talk about people that abuse the system, but I can tell you, I work with a lot of people that have had injuries as a result of car accidents or work-related injuries and I can say that most of these people are not faking these injuries. They would rather be working, especially when they see their home being sold or they have to sell their home because they can't afford to keep the payments up on the home, can't maintain the home if they happen to own it and see it go to a condition that's almost unbearable to live in with no assistance. So we have to make sure that the compensation system set up for this is done properly so this situation doesn't happen in Nova Scotia.

We have too many things that need to be changed in this bill to give it the long-term stable rates with fair compensation for injuries that are a result of an accident. It is so important to make sure that Nova Scotians are properly protected and protected at a price that we can afford as Nova Scotians. I don't mean the individual person alone that pays the insurance bill, I mean Nova Scotians as a whole. So if a claim goes in and a person loses their home and they have to go, because the compensation isn't properly put together, into Social Services, what's the cost? Maybe for a family of three, $1,000 or $1,400 a month from now until dear knows when when, indeed, a proper system through the insurance program made that be a burden on the taxpayers.

[Page 485]

So, again, the real purpose here, as I see it, is long-term stable rates. You look at our telephone rates and our power rates that have been long term and stable with the proper regulatory system in place and there are some issues in the regulatory process that have been suggested in this bill, I think, that have to be addressed. I look forward to the debate that will continue on this on the next reading of the bill. I would truly encourage everyone in the province who can come in to go the Law Amendments Committee to state their cases, to give us examples of things that you have run into in the present system and things you're concerned about in the future system that's being proposed here today by the government.

Hopefully we can come up with a bill that will do both, provide proper protection for people and provide a reasonable cost on a long-term basis. These are the things we really have to aim for. I feel that if we can achieve those things with this bill, and we're going to introduce amendments to the bill to try to ensure that that happens, then we will have achieved the purpose we should all be here for, at a better cost and affordable for all Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

It's been suggested, all kinds of different things. We see that there have been difficulties in the past in publicly owned and operated systems. We've also recently seen some problems with the privately operated systems. I think we have to have a system here, again, that's fair, affordable and one we know we can rely on as time goes on. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, for your indulgence. I look forward to further debate on the bill.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's with particular honour that I take my place to have some comments on Bill No. 1. I think it's also important to recognize that you're in the Chair. I congratulate you on your selection. There are some advantages to having you in the Chair, aside from the fairness and the objectivity that I know you will render in your decisions, I know that you, of course, from the Chair have the opportunity to interrupt me on any cause and probably during the next few moments will have an opportunity to correct me or to bring me back on the topic, but it's also an advantage because if you're not in your regular place, I won't have some of the real interruptions that you're famous for in this House. So congratulations on your selection as Deputy Speaker.

I would also like - on the topic of congratulations - to congratulate my young friend, the member for Sackville-Cobequid. Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that one of the accomplishments I've had in this House, perhaps in this Party, is in the last provincial election there were three of my past students who ran for election. Although two of them were not successful, the MLA for Sackville-Cobequid is a graduate of Sackville High School. He has seen firsthand - he probably appreciates more than many other members of the House - the few strengths that I have and the multitude of weaknesses.

[Page 486]

I think it's of real significance to congratulate the new members. I heard the member for Preston speaking earlier. This is an opportunity which I hope all members in this House take, new members of this House in particular - take the opportunity to get on their feet to express what they heard during the summer election on the topic.

Mr. Speaker, as you well know, in your riding there were other issues. There are other issues that were brought up during our campaign. There were other issues of significance, some of a local nature, some that, of course, perhaps we can always say are federal or municipal or whatever else of a local issue, but the issue in Timberlea-Prospect was auto insurance. It was the issue. I have heard the members of the Third Party, the members of the Liberal Party stand in their place and go on about what's happened in Prince Edward Island and Mr. Robichaud's unfortunate circumstances in his riding in Wilmot. Gary Robichaud is a fine Leader of the NDP.

I heard today, again, comments about the results from Ontario and what had happened to Mr. Hampton in that situation. I am aware of the fact that that's part of what we are in this business, and it is a business, Mr. Speaker, it's a serious business that we look at how our political opponents do in other ridings or in other parts of the country. I want you to know what's important to me is the 5,053 voters in Timberlea-Prospect who voted NDP in the last election. That's the significant number for me. We always have an aim, and I want you to know that my aim in the last election, of course, was to return to this historic Chamber but to challenge the member for Cape Breton South on getting more than 5,000 votes. I want you to know that the member for Cape Breton South has nudged me out again.

The member for Cape Breton South, I believe if I have the totals correct, I could be corrected on this, I believe his number of total votes was 5,059. I know the member for Cape Breton South's priority is on those 5,000-plus voters and what they said to him on the doorsteps in Cape Breton South, throughout the constituency that he represents. So, that's why I am going to take the opportunity during the next few moments, I am going to bring up what I heard during the summer campaign on the issue and, of course, the issue was none other than car insurance.

There are certain expressions which are used by people in my constituency and they would be described by you, Mr. Speaker, as unparliamentary language, so I might have to substitute for them on the topic of car insurance, but the best comment that was brought to my attention at any time on this topic during the summer campaign when it comes to car insurance would come from Reg Knight in Lower Prospect and Reg said to me, somebody has got to grab those insurance companies right by the - and for Mr. Knight's comment, I will stop there and I will substitute for Reg - by the throat because Mr. Knight is of the firm opinion, an opinion that is shared by many Nova Scotians, that the insurance companies in this country and in this province have to be brought under control. Somebody has to grab them by the throat and it would seem to me that this piece of legislation fails miserably in

[Page 487]

doing that. It fails miserably. Insurance companies in this country and in this province have to be brought under control.

They have to be grabbed by the throat and it would be remiss on my part, Mr. Speaker, if I did not take the opportunity to remind you and I know the member for Lunenburg, of course, always loves to get a history lesson, but I would like to remind new members and the member for Lunenburg of some salient facts, because this issue was brought to the floor of this Legislature by the New Democratic Party and by our Leader. It was brought here during the Spring session, where we had the opportunity to bring to the floor of this House, day after day, hour after hour, and Question Period after Question Period, examples of people across this province who had concerns about insurance.

Mr. Speaker, for the new members who are here, I would like to refresh their memory and I know the member for Lunenburg will be concerned about the fact that he knows that many of the people who are in the gallery, many of the examples that were brought to the floor of this House by our Leader and by other members, by the member for Halifax Fairview, by the member for Cape Breton Centre and yes, by myself, were constituents of mine from Timberlea-Prospect.

The example that came first, because was there a problem in the insurance business? Was it going to be addressed? Well, when you address these problems, the key concern that you have is that you have to have real people, real Nova Scotians, who have real situations that they are going to bring to the legislators' attention. The first one that jumped out was the case of Robert Butler, who lives down the Prospect Road and for members of the House, let's just refresh you on who Robert Butler is. Robert Butler owned a van, he owned the van and it was his method of transportation to and from his place of work and eventually his place of study at the community college. But Robert wanted to spruce up his van a little bit, Robert Butler was a student of mine but not an art student. Robert Butler decided he was going to put tiger stripes on his van. It was a nice job, particularly when you look that the tiger stripes were orange and black. I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, those are great colours whether they are on a van or on an election sign. Robert Butler according to his insurance company "customized" his van.

I know the member for Dartmouth South remembers that. I know various new members to the House remembered this situation because for one reason or another, his van suddenly was souped up and customized and because of that, the insurance companies were going to jack his rates up. He did nothing more to his van, nothing at all, but because he put tiger stripes on his van, there was one of the first examples of insurance companies in this province who are allowed just to do willy-nilly whatever they wanted to do. People began to say, that's unfair.

[Page 488]

[11:15 a.m.]

I want you to know that the Leader of the Opposition and myself and the member for Halifax Fairview had the opportunity, not just to meet Robert but to meet some other students and we went onto the campus of Saint Mary's University. I must tell you, it was like a school reunion because as a school teacher it is tremendously rewarding to be able to see the young men and women that you've had in the school system as they've progressed and moved on, as they've gone on to further studies. I remember, and I know the members who were present from our caucus that went to this meeting at Saint Mary's were approached by a young man named Tony Roeding. I remember Tony Roeding, a talented young man. I know the member for Dartmouth North are aware of who the Roedings are and where they live in Brookside.

When I came into the meeting, the students were seated and I guess, out of a degree of respect, a number of the students that I had in school who are enrolled at Dalhousie or Saint Mary's who came to this meeting, stood to greet me. In fact Mr. Speaker, and I know the member for Cape Breton Centre will probably have a comment that you'll have to rule out of order, when they actually called me sir, out of respect. I suddenly had this big, well groomed, tall Tony Roeding in front of me. Tony's comments were this: Sir, thanks for listening to us about our problem with insurance.

Tony made a decision. As a student at Saint Mary's he did not want to have to take care of residence fees. He did not want his parents paying for rent in a shared apartment. Tony Roeding instead wanted a vehicle. He wanted a vehicle - a clunker, a beater, those are the expressions that are used these days by these young men and women. Something that they can put on the road and get from home into their place of study or their place of work. Tony Roeding had made that decision with his family's input - live at home, get a car and we'll see what the insurance costs.

You heard the member for Sackville-Cobequid bring forth the example of when he bought an $800 car and the insurance was $1,600 and he said that wasn't yesterday. Well, we have an example of just this recent Spring where we have young people in communities around this province, especially young men, who are paying entirely unacceptable insurance rates on vehicles and have been discriminated against because of their age and because of the fact that they happen to be male.

We are well aware that when you are in an accident you expect your insurance - and it is your fault - you expect your insurance rates to increase. But why would a student going to university, living at home, have to pay as much as $3,000, $3,200 on car insurance for a vehicle that didn't cost him $1,000. Something had to be done. Students that day had the opportunity and it was a very good opportunity for us as legislators to listen first hand to the concerns of these university students in post-secondary institutions here in Metro. I know that members from Cape Breton have heard some of the same stories. I know that the

[Page 489]

member for Cape Breton Nova who is trying to get this light system improved as it comes down off Kyte's Hill and I know he's concerned about that problem because that's one of the roads into UCCB. There are many, many, many students across this province who took the opportunity to bring these concerns to our attention.

But it wasn't just students, and I hope members opposite remember some of these names because I also want you to know that we had the opportunity to speak about Shirley and Tom Fobin of Lake Road in Hatchett Lake. Yes, Mr. Speaker, those are other constituents of mine who had concerns about insurance - seniors this time, seniors who were discriminated against because of the insurance policies that have been allowed to just go ahead with whatever they want in this province.

You know, the expression is in Cape Breton - and the member for Cape Breton Centre said I could try this, and you are going to rule me out of order - the system is broke. I think he would say the arse is out of it. The system, Mr. Speaker, is broke.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I believe the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect knows the use of the word that he just used is unparliamentary and I would ask if he could (Interruption) Well, it is now, and I would ask if the honourable member would choose another form of words. I would also remind members that perhaps the tone of other conversations is getting a bit loud in here and if you need to carry on private conversations, carry them outside.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I take the guidance of the Speaker and I point out to you that I remove that comment. Certainly, the system is broken and I can tell you that will be the last time that I will accept the advice of the member for Cape Breton Centre when it comes to any kind of parliamentary language. There's a hole in the system, Mr. Speaker, and it is time to repair it. Let's face it, this bill tinkers with the system that is clearly broken. It's broken because of what happened to the Fobins; it's broken because of what happened to Tony Roeding; and it's broken because of what happened to Robert Butler. If you've got something that's in such bad shape, you don't apply a band-aid, you fix it. Major surgery is needed. Major surgery is needed when it comes to a correction of the insurance system.

I received in my mailbox at the caucus office today another notice from Mr. Forgeron. Mr. Forgeron either believes that I don't get it or he has to continually send me a harangue against the NDP because of what we are proposing. But, Mr. Forgeron, get it clear, the people of Nova Scotia think the system is broken. It is broken. The insurance system in this province is broken. So when you look at some of these well-placed ads that we see - and, Mr. Speaker, I will table this - paid for by Nova Scotia's auto insurance, there are solutions.

Then, of course, we look at what he recommends - or I would assume Mr. Forgeron's hand or the government's hand is on this full page ad, and I will table this as soon as I read this section right here, "New legislation required. Insurers provide car insurance within a

[Page 490]

strict framework of provincial laws. We look to legislators to change those laws. By doing so, they will stabilize premiums, return our industry to health, and permit us to serve our customers in an environment of competition and choice."

Now, Mr. Forgeron, we get it. I understand where you're coming from. You, after all, are the talking head of what you want, the status quo, and this bill, in so many ways, delivers that and nothing more. So what do I say to Tony Roeding? His insurance rates jumped by 65 per cent. This legislation says 20 per cent. I was a history teacher, Mr. Speaker, as you well know, and 20 per cent and 65 per cent says to me that 45 per cent is allowed. There is nothing wrong with a 45 per cent increase. We are going to give 20 per cent reductions, but for those people who have had to over the last number of years pay these increased rates of whatever percentage, 20 per cent doesn't help that young man. It doesn't help seniors across this province. It doesn't fix the problem under any circumstances and members opposite and the members of the Liberal Party should be well aware of that particular piece of evidence.

Mr. Speaker, the thing is the NDP is on the side of Nova Scotians on this issue, we're not on the side of the insurance companies, we're not apologizing for anyone. I challenge the members of the Liberal and Conservative Parties, look who makes the donations to your Parties, look who is making those big donations. When the tune is played, we know who is calling the music. I think the member for Inverness would understand that one. You pay the piper. Well, who is choosing the tune? Let me tell you, the insurance companies of Canada, the insurance companies of Nova Scotia have to be brought under control and this piece of legislation just doesn't do it. It just doesn't do it.

Mr. Speaker, I know that you, in your place, have stood and expressed your points of view about what you heard during the campaign. Let me tell you, I want members opposite to stand and I want them to have their say too, because I will say that those 5,000-plus voters in my growing constituency who voted for me, they knew that we would continue the fight for government-owned, driver-owned insurance in this province. I have heard from constituents who know that this debate is going on. I have listened to those people on the doorsteps, I continue to receive e-mail, although you should know my office, unfortunately, is in an HRM building and some of those e-mails haven't been addressed in the last few days because of circumstances with Hurricane Juan.

But let me tell you, the people who voted for this NDP MLA, they want us to continue to press for the insurance system that we have told them about, the insurance system in other provinces in this country. Mr. Speaker, I know you've seen that information, and as an open-minded member of this Legislature, I know that you have listened to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would ask all members in the Chamber to please afford the member for Timberlea-Prospect the courtesy of his time on the floor, and perhaps keep the tone of conversation down.

[Page 491]

MR. ESTABROOKS: I know members opposite and the members of the Liberal Party are listening to these points of view, so it's of some consequence to bring them forth again so that they will be made very clearly aware of what has been happening in the crisis when it comes to insurers across this province.

We can look at other provinces, that's an example that's used. When we bring up Manitoba and its flat roads, I know the minister for skyrocketing insurance has points of view and various comments. I have heard people point to what the Premier of British Columbia has done, the Liberal Premier of British Columbia. Again, I come back to the issue at hand, we are talking about what's best for Nova Scotians. As a native New Brunswicker, I, on occasion, pay visits to my home. My home, after all, is part of the riding of Tantramar that was represented by a New Democrat for a number of years. I have had the opportunity to receive information from the people in Tantramar, which of course is the constituency on the border which represents Cape Tormentine, Sackville and, of course, the legendary community of Dorchester.

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, the comments are this, and it's important to bring to this Legislature's attention that the MLA for Saint John, the Leader of the NDP, is currently looking into the insurance problem in Nova Scotia. That Leader of the NDP (Interruptions) New Brunswick, excuse me. Where was I? (Interruptions) Nova Scotia. (Interruptions) I noticed the member for Cole Harbour looked at me quickly. Right? I appreciate the correction. It won't be my last mistake during the next 50 minutes while I speak here.

It's of real consequence to notice who the Premier of New Brunswick turned to, the Premier of New Brunswick turned to the Leader of the NDP and said, find out what's best here. Find out what's best. Maybe there are some politics involved. Let's look at the situation in New Brunswick. In New Brunswick where, after all, the Leader of the NDP has a very important vote in just about any issue that comes up on the floor. I am sure that she is going to do an excellent job, open-minded that she will review what's been there, and the unfortunate thing will always come back to this. You know in this business, in six months' time, I don't want to be standing in this Legislature debating another insurance bill but, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you, maybe history will prove me wrong, but I will have the opportunity in this Legislature to say to the members opposite, to say to the members of the Third Party, I told you so, or we told you so, we told you so that tinkering with the system, and this particular bill, Bill No. 1, is not going to solve the problems of the insurance industry in this province.

[11:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that's after all the issue that's of some consequence, that's the issue, that there has to be some open-mindedness here. We should be looking very clearly, and the member for Hants East brought forth today in his speech a number of details about what is

[Page 492]

going on in other provinces and, yes, those were or currently are provinces that have had a government-owned system set up by the NDP. Heaven forbid, they're at the door. The socialist hordes are taking over.

Well, Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians no longer have us at the door. They have us in this historic Legislature. They have us in these numbers in this House and the reason we are here is because we very clearly during that summer campaign were delivered a mandate on August 5th that we are to continue to push and press and see if the decision makers in this province, the 52 MLAs who sit here in this historic Chamber, would be open-minded enough to look very clearly at what will be the solution, what will be one of the best and final solutions for the insurance problems in this province and in this country from one jurisdiction to the other. The answer is a government-owned, driver-owned insurance system. That's the mandate that we've been given and that is how we are going to respond.

Mr. Speaker, what we need is an automobile insurance system in Nova Scotia that delivers the lowest, fairest rates. I had the opportunity to deliver by hand across my constituency a fabulous piece of legislation. Aside from the fact that the Leader of the NDP's picture was on it, it was one of the most colourful, attractive things that has ever been delivered. I would suggest that in future, and I know the member for Cape Breton Centre is aware of this, that when it comes to hair design studios in my constituency, there probably would be no one better to prepare any Leader or any MLA for a document that goes across your constituency than to go to that particular Finishing Touch Hair Design in Timberlea. It was that piece of legislation with the picture of the Leader of the NDP, with the breakdown of that Honda - help me (Interruption) Honda Accord - that's what it is when you drive a Dodge Sport truck - that Honda Accord and how you could license a Honda or how you can insure a Honda Accord in different jurisdictions in different provinces across this country. That piece of important insurance information is still used in this Legislature. It is still used in homes throughout the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. People refer to it when they look at the advantages of a state-run, government-owned, driver-owned insurance system.

I want you to know I've been in homes, Mr. Speaker, where it is on the fridge and it's not only on the fridge, it's held on the fridge by an NDP Vote Bill Estabrooks MLA Timberlea-Prospect magnet. That after all is an endorsement of a piece of information that Nova Scotians wanted to receive, a piece of information they consider important, a piece of information that they need to know the details of, and they continually refer to it because the voters in Timberlea-Prospect are open-minded when it comes to listening to the advantages of the type of insurance system that we have recommended.

Mr. Speaker, we are not alone. I don't consider myself alone in this particular task of convincing Nova Scotians. I would like to refer, and I will table that but just give me a moment because I'm going to use it for a couple of comments - I would like to table from the Friday, August 22, 2003 Daily News Perspective. I also want you to note that August 22nd, that particular Friday, was the birthday of the member for Cape Breton Nova. He had

[Page 493]

dual reasons to celebrate when that came forward that day. I know that he probably was 29 for the 30th year again, but on that day in that paper, Rick Howe, who is in my view one of the responsible journalists in the HRM, if you are able to pick up across this province his Hotline show, Rick Howe, a columnist in The Daily News, wrote these particular things: Resistance is futile, Public auto insurance is the only way to go - so let's do it.

I'm going to refer to a couple of points in this and then I'll give it to one of the Pages in a moment. In his comments, Mr. Howe writes, "Hamm . . .", referring to Mr. Premier, ". . . could do us all a favour now, and cast aside his claims his plan is actually better than his next-door counterpart's so therefore it will work. Sorry, but let's admit it: the insurance industry is interested only in making as much money as it can for its Ontario or international masters . . ."

Mr. Howe hits it on the head. Mr. Howe, in this well-written article - I hope that members opposite take the opportunity to read what was written that day, those particular points of view. The Hotline program is a program that - I know when the House isn't sitting, when I have the opportunity and I'm in my constituency, as we are all over our constituency morning after morning after morning - I must tell you that from 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., I listen, when the opportunity is there, to the Hotline program because I hear from Nova Scotians who have concerns about the issue that has been brought forward on that day. During those debates and during those comments that we heard on the Rick Howe show at various times, car insurance was a popular topic. It was a popular topic that was brought up day after day after day no matter who Mr. Howe had as guests. When his callers came forth with comments, they were horror stories that they were bringing to the attention of other Nova Scotians.

I know, members of this House could say, they're only NDPers that call Rick Howe's show. I don't think so. In fact, I'm quite sure that the member for Eastern Shore knows that there are members from his riding who call that particular show and express points of view from his riding. I know that metro members, whether it's the member for Chester-St. Margaret's or whether it's the member for Bedford or whether we've heard other concerns brought forth - I know we have some municipal councillors here. In fact, I've known some of these municipal councillors are regular and consistent listeners to Mr. Howe because the people who are calling there, whether they're from Clayton Park or Timberlea, they bring forward concerns that we as elected officials at whatever level have to listen to. Mr. Howe is a columnist in The Daily News in the weekly column that he usually produces - it's a wrap-up of the week and what he's heard.

So you read his comments, you've heard what I put into the record again and it would seem to me that is the very sort of information that Nova Scotians want me to bring to the floor of this Legislature. When we have journalists who are willing to come out and say, have a very long look at what's done in Manitoba, in Saskatchewan and British Columbia and you know what could be done in Nova Scotia.

[Page 494]

I know the member for Dartmouth North has brought this to my attention before. It's not just Nova Scotia. I am aware of the fact that other Premiers - I'm not sure where Premier Binns is now. I congratulate Premier Binns on his re-election, as I do young Robert Ghiz on his election to the P.E.I. Legislature. Hopefully, I'll have the opportunity over the Thanksgiving weekend to pass those comments on to Mr. Ghiz personally, and, of course, as you know, Mr. Speaker, he is the son of legendary Premier Joe Ghiz and I look forward to what Robert is going to bring forth with regard to legislation when it comes to ideas about public auto insurance.

It would seem to me that one of the options, and I've heard members of these Parties say, we can't go alone on this, but when we look at what has been said on occasion by Mr. Binns, Mr. Binns said during the election, you know, perhaps we could look at some kind of regional service. Perhaps we could look at something that if we look at a public auto service because we don't have the numbers and we don't have the size in Prince Edward Island, perhaps we could look at some kind of combined public auto service. That says to me that the re-elected Premier of Prince Edward Island is being opened-minded about this. Considering the situation in New Brunswick and the result of their election, maybe the young Tory Premier of New Brunswick, Mr. Lord, learned something, aside from a little humility, which he needed a big dose of, incidently, maybe Mr. Lord has understood the fact that you can't run away from this issue on insurance.

This issue is here to stay and applying a band-aid to it, I mean, we know the examples of what happened in New Brunswick. My friends from Tantramar bring it to my attention all the time. It hasn't worked. So has this government learned anything from the experience in New Brunswick? After all, we have to be open-minded as legislators. One particular Party does not have a patent on all the good ideas and, at times, we should be looking at the fact that there are ideas in other jurisdictions that have worked for a long time and have benefited consumers. They have benefited other Canadians in other provincial jurisdictions and we should be open-minded to the advantages of ideas from other jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, I can bring examples to your attention. You have heard them before, whether it's coastal assessments and how other provinces handle situations; whether it's natural resources and from your previous experience; whether, of course, it's in the matter of protection of workers and labour. There are all kinds of legislation that we should follow from other jurisdictions and here is an example of one which we should be following. This is an example of one when it comes to public auto insurance that, after all, does make sense. To say again, to reiterate what Mr. Howe said, private insurers are concerned about the bottom line. They're concerned about the profit margin. There's nothing wrong with making profits, so I don't expect the members of the Liberal Party to get up and begin to harangue me, although they are paying very good attention today. I am pleased with that. I don't expect them to get up and harangue me about socialist dogma that we're going to destroy every business.

[Page 495]

Private insurers have had exorbitant profits in the second quarter of 2003, so why should Nova Scotians not get a share of those profits? Let's look at what makes sense here. Nova Scotians have paid the bills. It's the same thing that happens every time when it comes to an insurance situation. We get all these excuses. Oh, we don't cover this and we don't cover that or you can't do this and you can't do that, but you pay your premium on time or you're in Facility Association and that's the way it works. That no longer can be allowed in this province. That no longer can be permitted. As Reg Knight has said before, it's time that somebody in this province grabs the insurance companies by the throat and this is the time to do it. This particular bill just doesn't do justice to that mandate that was given to me by Reg who lives in Lower Prospect.

I heard the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage begin to talk about the capping of benefits. Mr. Speaker, this particular piece of legislation doesn't do anything about capping benefits. It goes on about decapping Nova Scotians, kneecapping them, punishing them, hurting them. We are not taking care of Nova Scotians by capping benefits in this way. We are certainly not taking care of Nova Scotians by this particular definition of injuries. The members of the Liberal Party, the members of my caucus have brought forward example after example. That particular section, and I know I shouldn't refer to section by section, but that is a flaw that must be addressed. That is a flaw that is short-sighted in my opinion, it's limited and it is not, after all, to the benefit of Nova Scotians. After all, that's why we're here.

[11:45 a.m.]

We're here to listen to Nova Scotians, to bring forth legislation that, after all, will be as positive as we can possibly deliver to this House. Those improvements must be forthcoming. I want you to know that this caucus looks forward to the Law Amendments Committee process. It's a process that new members of this House should take the opportunity to be involved in. When this piece of legislation, as it inevitably will, moves out of this historic Chamber and down the hall to the Red Room, I encourage Nova Scotians, I encourage the listeners to Rick Howe's program, I encourage average Nova Scotians, students, to come forward and sit for a few moments with us, because it's of real importance that Nova Scotians understand.

Mr. Speaker, I think you had the opportunity to see two of the fishermen from my community who were here a couple of days ago. People are not used to coming to the Nova Scotia Legislature. They are not used to the historic trappings. They are not used to after all what maybe I don't and I know you don't, Mr. Speaker, take our positions for granted. Let me tell you, I encourage Nova Scotians to come here, to go to the Law Amendments Committee. It's not formal, they don't have to have a speech. They have the opportunity, as you know, to sit, and there are microphones there, to give them the opportunity to speak for - well, I don't know what the time limits are going to be this time - the Attorney General and

[Page 496]

Minister of Justice is the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee - should say 15 minutes per presentation.

More importantly, during that Law Amendment Committee process, not to talk for the entire amount of time but to allow us as legislators, to allow us as members of the committee - and I've seen the committee structure for the Law Amendments Committee. Anybody who is new to this House should know, based on previous experience with minority governments, the Law Amendments Committee is going to work this time. The Law Amendments Committee is going to work because the Opposition has to be listened to. No longer can the government just say, that's enough, we're taking it back to the House. That's the opportunity for us as legislators to sit and listen to Nova Scotians, and then, more importantly, to have the opportunity, as the Chair recognizes us, for a few questions.

Now for the new members, you should know, you're only allowed that 15-minute time limit and that's the time limit this time, because then, of course, we have to move on to other presenters. I know we're going to hear from Mr. Forgeron, and I'm sure I will have power presentations and I'm sure there will be overheads and there will be all kinds of material. I'm looking forward to talking to Mr. Forgeron and having an opportunity to ask him a few questions.

It's not the Don Forgerons that we want to hear from at the Law Amendments Committee, we want to hear from Nova Scotians. So they come in and get their pass. They have the chance to speak. They can request their time, if it's advisable. I would assume, Mr. Speaker, we are going to have lots of people, so I would assume we will be doing this in the evenings. I would assume this piece of legislation is going to attract a lot of attention from Nova Scotians, and it will be an opportunity for all members of this House.

I encourage in particular - Mr. Speaker, I know you've been in the Law Amendments Committee, I have seen you sit in those chairs in there - the members of the government to participate, to ask a question, to say why would you think this, can you explain that to me. After all, out of courtesy, when Bill No. 1 comes forward at this time, when Bill No. 1 comes forward there will be plenty of questions. I would assume that this caucus, along with the members of the Third Party will bring amendments forward. We are prepared to do that. We are prepared to bring amendments forward. If this government is willing, open-minded to look at some of these amendments, we are prepared to look at what can come out of the Law Amendments Committee.

I will tell you what will come out of there, those government members opposite will go, my, did we ever catch some heat in there. Boy, Nova Scotians are still upset, and Bill No. 1 doesn't solve the problem. Bill No. 1 doesn't have the answers. Nova Scotians don't think that just this piece of legislation is going to fix the system, is going to fix the hole that's in the system, is going to make sure that the system is fair to Nova Scotians. That Law Amendments Committee procedure and that process in this House, as you well know from

[Page 497]

your experience visiting other Legislatures, is an absolutely unique and historic thing in this House.

It's a wonderful opportunity for Nova Scotians to have their say. Everything that they say, of course, is recorded and the opportunity is there for them to put on the record their concerns. The give and take of minority government will work at the Law Amendments Committee, because at the Law Amendments Committee we will see first-hand what has happened across this province during the summer election.

We will also have the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to listen to Nova Scotians about their concerns. You know, it's not the public relation's campaign, it's not the journalists, it's not the columnists in the print media, it's average Nova Scotians we were elected by, ordinary Nova Scotians, whatever that means. Thank God we no longer use that term, because I don't consider myself representing any ordinary Nova Scotians. I consider myself representing extraordinary Nova Scotians. Nova Scotians who took the opportunity in the middle of a summer campaign, who took the opportunity on that particular Tuesday to go out and put their x next to one of our names. In the constituency I represent, the 5,053 people who voted for this NDP MLA, voted for me because we were supporting and I was speaking to and listening to Nova Scotians on the doorsteps about a government-owned insurance policy on the model that we had presented to them in that mail-out that we have delivered all across Nova Scotia, that mail-out that showed the Honda Accord and it showed the different legislation and how dollars could be affected from one to the other.

The opportunity is here, Mr. Speaker, to listen to Nova Scotians, to make sure that we have the best possible piece of legislation. The best possible piece of legislation is a piece of legislation that is brought forward by a Legislature based upon open-minded give and take of minority government. To just dismiss government-owned car insurance, to just dismiss it with the idea being it doesn't work, it costs too much, it's not the way to go, to apply a band-aid to a severely wounded, mortally wounded system such as the insurance system in this province . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member yield the floor in favour of a ministerial statement and then we can return back to the member's time?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Indeed, Mr. Speaker.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make an announcement to the House and to Nova Scotians about the provincial government's continuing effort to help

[Page 498]

people in the areas that have been affected or are still being affected by Hurricane Juan, particularly those still dealing with power outages.

As we know, many Nova Scotians have had their electricity returned, although some are still waiting for the resumption of power. In order to help people in the hurricane-affected areas as they clean up, make repairs to their homes and restock their food supplies, retail stores in Nova Scotia that normally would be required to be closed this Sunday, October 5th, will be permitted to be open. This is intended to allow retailers to assist their friends and neighbours with their recovery efforts and to serve their communities. Although this exemption applies province-wide, we expect that only retailers serving areas affected by the hurricane to be open. We will trust in the good judgment of store owners and operators to make that decision.

My department is requesting the co-operation of police agencies throughout Nova Scotia, asking them not to lay charges under the Retail Business and Uniform Closing Day Act with respect to this Sunday, October 5th. If for some reason charges are laid, I will issue a directive to the Public Prosecution Service ordering them to stay the prosecution. I want to stress that this provision applies to this Sunday only and is in response to the extraordinary circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is intended to help Nova Scotians with their recovery efforts to make available to them food and other essentials in a timely and appropriate fashion. Nova Scotians have again shown their determination and capacity to help their neighbours. We trust this measure will help them to do just that under these very difficult circumstances. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have a moment to respond to the Minister of Justice's statement. I just received it and I appreciate receiving it in advance. As one of those people still without power and water, I was thinking today that if I don't get my power until tomorrow, how would I be able to restock my fridge. I was thinking to myself, well wouldn't Sunday shopping be a benefit right now. I can say, on behalf of a lot of people who still do not have power, this is a very good measure. I'm glad to see it has happened. It is one that I think a lot of Nova Scotians will appreciate, particularly if their power is only coming on in the next day or so, or they have equipment they have to purchase or rent. This is a good opportunity for them to do that.

I would suggest that, depending on how things are working, the government may want to think about the next Sunday, depending on exactly how bad things are. At least this does give an opportunity for people to do some of those things they would normally do on a Saturday, which they may not be able to do, whether they're in a community that is still without power or they're individuals without power. This is a good opportunity to address that. We, on this side of the House, are glad to see it. Hopefully it will be a good opportunity and there won't be any problems arising from it.

[Page 499]

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to rise on this occasion to respond to the minister's statement and to congratulate the minister for taking this step. I take this as a signal of the way that minority governments should and can work. Most of the members in the House will realize that earlier this morning, our Party put out a request to the government to do exactly what they've done in these circumstances. We see this as a wise step in the right direction, and a small step, nonetheless, toward the direction that we ultimately want to go in, but clearly a recognition that in these circumstances we are in an emergency.

For many people in Nova Scotia, like the honourable House Leader of the NDP, who is without power, I share those circumstances and look forward to the opportunity, perhaps, on Sunday to get out and to stock the fridges and the freezers and make sure that life returns to normal, assuming that the electricity is back on. Congratulations to the government. I feel that this is a good sign of how minority governments can and should work. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We will return to Bill No. 1.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

[Bill No. 1 - Automobile Insurance Reform Act.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea Prospect. He has approximately 12 minutes.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, if I may, I would like to pass on my compliments to the members of the Liberal Party and to the government for a very wise idea. I know it will be very well received in the community that I represent. It will also be very well received by my partner for the past 30 years, who has commitments on Saturday, and now on Sunday we will be able to go and do our shopping together.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring this together, and I know that members opposite, the member for Lunenburg in particular, of course, don't need a history lesson, but I think it's an appropriate time that I tabled this particular piece - give me a moment, if you may - this wonderful, particular piece of election material. I think the member for Dartmouth North, of course, is the famous member who has tabled that blue book so many times. I know that as I reach down in my desk here, I don't want to use my back too strongly or I wouldn't be able to table this particular waste of paper that was received all across this province and for which we lost a lot of good trees, on a piece of propaganda of no use at all, John Hamm's Blueprint for Building a Better Nova Scotia.

[Page 500]

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, that I was knocking on doors in Greenwood Heights the day the mailmen and women were delivering those things. They were disgusted. They had them in the back of their trucks, and they said, do you know what our concern is going to be, we will put them in the mailboxes today and tomorrow they will be in the garbage beside those mailboxes, all through suburban Timberlea. Let me tell you, the next day, as I finished off that canvass up Brentwood Avenue, sure enough, that particular waste of good trees in this province was laying everywhere. People were offended by what was called the encyclopedia of answers with no real questions ever been asked. People do not want, in an election, to have to put up with nonsense such as that.

[12:00 noon]

I mean, we are talking about a particular piece of legislation here, Mr. Speaker, a piece of legislation that is based upon seven key commitments and the first commitment should be read into the record. That's the commitment - and I see some members who have come back. I see the honourable member for Yarmouth. I know the honourable member for Yarmouth, in particular, will stand in his place and he will explain why he received the number of votes that he received in Yarmouth, so that when he goes back there and he has the opportunity to say, I am going to vote for Bill No. 1 for this reason because of the number of thousands of people that voted for him. The honourable member for Yarmouth, perhaps, is aware of the fact that when you get the opportunity to be returned to this House, the work really begins then because during the first time, whether the honourable member for Yarmouth will admit this or not, you're in this House - the analogy might be incorrect - it's a bit like a honeymoon.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Is there any chance that the honourable member may come back to the principle of the bill at some point?

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, your wise judgment has shown me that I should be corrected, because I know there are members of the Third Party who, on occasion would bring the same point up on points of order, but you've done it ahead of them. I just pointed out to the honourable member for Yarmouth that when you received that second mandate, you are truly answerable because the honeymoon is over and it's time to pay attention to such important documents as I am going to table here when it comes to Bill No. 1, and the first and most important commitment that was made by this MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, that was made on the doorsteps, says we will ensure the lowest and fairest car insurance rates.

I am going to read this into the record, if I may, Mr. Speaker, and then I'll table it. It is only a few lines.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. On the provision the honourable member is going to use it as a document to be referred to he can certainly quote from it but, as he well knows being an experienced member in this House, he's drawing a fine line. He's starting to use it

[Page 501]

more as a prop than he is as a document to refer to in supporting his position on the principle of Bill No. 1.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Again, thank you, Mr. Speaker, for your direction. I will not use it as a prop. I'll make no comments on pictures that are used or hairstyles that should have been used, but I will enter this into the record if my one good eye will get me through it. "Nova Scotia car insurance rates shot up by 65 % in one year. The NDP plan will turn that trend around with the lowest, fairest rates for Nova Scotia drivers. The Liberals' and Tories' answer is to take money from drivers' benefits and give it to big insurance companies. That plan has been tried in other provinces and it only led to higher rates and lower benefits. Only the NDP's driver-owned, non-profit insurance plan is proven to give drivers the lowest, fairest rates 30 % to 50 % lower."

That, after all, I would say, aside from the fact that I still contend this is a piece of important election information - I thought we had an older, taller Page here for a moment - a piece of election information that's of real consequence to Nova Scotians. I want the honourable member for Yarmouth to know this is where I'm coming from on this particular point. I have said, and it's important to understand, that it's not what's done in Manitoba, it's not what they are going through in New Brunswick, it's what the people in your constituency said to you during the election on this particular topic that should absolutely demand that you get to your feet and that you have your say. What did they say in Waverley? What did they say in Fall River? What did they say in Shelburne?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member certainly knows - I mean he's waxing some pretty good eloquence here, but he's not speaking to the principle of the bill.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate your guidance again and I appreciate your direction as I wrap up my comments, that's what I was doing. You know I follow the examples of previous MLAs when I learned from the MLA for Queens, Mr. Leefe, and I believe I'm allowed to use his name now that he's no longer a member, I learned from the MLA for Kings North, particularly Kings North when Mr. Archibald, and again, I believe I'm allowed to use his name, would point out what got them elected and what got them re-elected. I challenge members opposite, and I know the members of the Liberal Party are standing in their place speaking on what they heard during the summer election. I will be proud to say to any one of the 5,053 residents of Timberlea-Prospect who voted NDP in Timberlea-Prospect, I will assure you, Mr. Speaker, that over the next few days and the next few months, the opportunity will be there and those people will say thank you, Bill, for continuing to push for government-run, driver-owned auto insurance in this province.

[Page 502]

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, thank you for this opportunity to speak on Bill No. 1. The insurance bill we see before us is a long time coming. Almost two years ago the Liberal caucus called on all Parties in this Legislature to come together and work on a strategy to address the issues of rising auto insurance rates. At that time both the New Democrats and the Tories didn't want to talk about insurance. They didn't recognize the problems that were beginning to grip Nova Scotia drivers. Since the time when we first recognized auto insurance as a problem in Nova Scotia, many things have happened.

MR. SPEAKER: I do hate to interrupt the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, but with the concurrence of the honourable member and other members of the House, if we could revert back to Notices of Motion, for a Notice of Motion that was introduced earlier. It seems there was a general agreement to re-examine one Notice of Motion.

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 210

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Pictou County Reserve Militia has volunteered to assist the Colchester County EMO, Town of Truro and Colchester County with cleanup caused by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas EMO made a request to have necessary federal approval; and

Whereas the federal Department of National Defence has the authority to approve this request;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature encourage the Department of National Defence to support this request so residents of Colchester County and Truro can receive this much-needed help from volunteers, possibly from Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 503]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

[Bill No. 1 - Automobile Insurance Reform Act.]

MR. SPEAKER: I recognize the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis, and I do appreciate his indulgence.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Since the time when we first recognized auto insurance as a problem in Nova Scotia many things have happened. The government wandered aimlessly through the issue promising action, but delivering only a freeze. In the meantime, the NDP put on a road show with the objective of trying to find a justification for their government-run insurance plan.

During this time, Mr. Speaker, the Liberal caucus was at work gathering information, talking to interest groups and consumers alike. The result was an insurance policy, which I am proud to say, was the first solution offered to Nova Scotians. I'm also proud to say is the only policy which has not changed since the day we announced it.

Mr. Speaker, the election saw the Conservatives adopt a New Brunswick solution, which was proven not to work. They promised Nova Scotians relief in the form of a 20 per cent average rate reduction. When the Tories were asked how the savings would be realized, they described a cap on minor injuries associated with aches and sprains. The definition we see in this bill is not what the government campaigned on in July and August. During the election, they spoke of a cap on minor injuries. When I think of a minor injury, I think of a minor whiplash or a sprained ankle. These are all injuries which are painful but not life-altering.

What we see in this bill is truly alarming. First of all, it is taken from the New Brunswick Act. The definition put forward in New Brunswick, copied in Nova Scotia, is extremely broad and would cap the vast majority of injury claims, including some permanent injuries. As well, this cap would also see people who suffer a serious but non-permanent injury capped at $2,500. We feel that victims will lose big time, and it will end up costing society more than we realize. This is a gutting of the compensation system in Nova Scotia.

[Page 504]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians pay for insurance so that when they are injured in a car accident, they can be reasonably compensated for their injury. This bill does not do that. Instead, what this bill does is reward the insurance companies for raising their premiums. This is a theme we see from one end of this bill to the other, from the definition where the payouts for so-called minor injuries are going to put millions of dollars into the pockets of insurance companies and take it directly out of the pockets of deserving injury victims, to the clawing of long-term disability funds, once again from the pockets of deserving injury victims, into the deep pockets of insurance companies.

As if this wasn't enough, Mr. Speaker, for the families of injured victims, the people who are staying at home trying to hold the households together, the government sees fit to take away any compensation these people were entitled to receive to help them through difficult times. Truly, we see some of the most vulnerable citizens targeted in this legislation. For who are the people who are going to be affected most? It is the people in this province and the family members who sacrificed their own careers to stay at home and care for their loved ones. These are the people the government says have no value, therefore they should not be compensated for their work.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are hardworking people. They take pride in their work and go the extra mile to get that job done. For many that means going to work on days when they are not feeling well, when perhaps the best thing they could have done is stayed home and used some of their allotted sick days. Because of this well-recognized work ethic, many Nova Scotians have accumulated or banked a fair number of sick days. These are days that the employees pay for, they have invested their time and money so that if they need it, these days will be there. What this government sees when it looks at sick days is not the reflection of a hardworking society, rather they see an opportunity to put money back into the pockets of the insurance industry.

Mr. Speaker, this bill will see an injured Nova Scotian having to exhaust their sick day reserve before they will see any money from an insurance company. An injured Nova Scotian is going to have to exhaust the time they have invested before this government thinks it is fair for an insurance company to have to compensate that injured person. Again we see this government literally taking money out of the pockets of injured Nova Scotians and putting it into the pockets of the insurance company.

In the last election, the Liberal Party put forward a plan that in the true spirit of liberalism struck a balance between protecting the rights of injured victims and guaranteeing relief for consumers from rapidly-increasing insurance rates.

We made a promise to Nova Scotians to limit our cap to the pain and suffering component of soft-tissue injuries. It is interesting to note that the Conservatives, during the last election, also promised to cap only minor injuries. But now I am wondering just who is going to determine just what a minor injury is. Will it be the victim's family doctor or does

[Page 505]

the insurance company use their own doctor? Or, will the victims end up using their $2,500 for the courts to decide?

[12:15 p.m.]

This government has sold Nova Scotians out to the insurance companies. They have proposed this in the bill to take deserved compensation out of the pockets of Nova Scotians and put it into the hands of an insurance company. This is not fair and it is a fundamental flaw in the legislation.

The NDP believes in a plan also, but I am not convinced that they should believe in a government-run insurance plan. First of all there will be taxpayers in this province who don't own a car or even drive one who will be subsidizing this plan. We are talking about a plan that will cost this province hundreds of millions of dollars for start-up alone. This happened one time in our commercial fishing industry where Nova Scotians were subsidized in the government plan for fishing boat insurance. The people who never owned boats demanded a stop to the subsidization and when it was stopped, that plan went bankrupt.

In order to assume the cost of taking care of 61,000 claims annually in Nova Scotia and providing insurance to nearly half a million vehicles in the province, a government-run insurer would require financial support from government, including a very conservative estimate of $340 million in start-up funds. Furthermore, the government would need to find other sources of revenue to make up for the lost revenue from the licensing, registration and taxes of private insurers.

We Liberals want this bill to work for Nova Scotians. They need a break from high insurance costs, but they can't sacrifice fair insurance coverage for the sake of making insurance companies bigger profits. Mr. Speaker, we have lots of insurance problems in this province - we have people driving the roads without insurance because they just can't afford to have it. We have small businesses in this province that have no insurance right now because they decided to take it off their businesses so they could keep their head above water.

Amendments must be made to this bill in a fair way. The Liberal Party stands on the side of accident victims and small business owners of this province, which is why our Leader, in his address on second reading said that unless the government makes significant changes to parts of this bill, our caucus will not be able to support it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place this afternoon on behalf of the people in Halifax Needham, the constituency that I represent here where the issue of auto insurance is of primary concern. As do most members in this House, I come from a constituency that's very diverse, that has

[Page 506]

a large middle-income community, but, as well, many seniors, many people on fixed low incomes, quite a few of them who work as well, to augment low incomes. People who would be characterized, I guess, as members of the working poor who often require vehicles in order to be at work. As well as people with disabilities, people on pensions, disability pensions, mothers with small children who increasingly are attempting to get into the labour force, primarily because of the new Income Assistance Act. As well as many small and medium-sized businesses and non-profit organizations that have vehicles in order to conduct the work of their organizations.

Now, Mr. Speaker, many of us, when we calculate our monthly budgets, we look at the fixed costs on which we have no other choice but to spend money. Included in our fixed costs are our shelter costs, our rent or our mortgage, our property taxes, heat, lights and the insurance on our homes or condominiums, apartments. That's a whole other area and it's an area of growing concern, home insurance, and something that we have a great deal of concern about in the NDP caucus. But, as well, we look at our transportation costs. Perhaps we're making car payments and, certainly, if we own an automobile, we have the cost of insurance. We see the car insurance issue as a question of fairness in terms of transportation being one of those fixed costs that are necessities of life. Everybody needs to be able to move around freely in their communities to participate in the activities in their communities to get to work, to maintain contact and be involved in the community.

Given that we are a society that has probably quite a high dependance on the automobile, which, again, is something that we need to be very cognizant of and think about as to how we move away from the kind of dependence that we have, but in many respects, particularly in the rural parts of this province, there is no option but to have a very high level of dependence on automobiles. Therefore, that means that, inevitably, the question of the fixed costs of insurance is one that is always going to have some significance as to how people look at this issue. So it's obviously one of those bread and butter issues and it has, as everybody recognizes, I think, become more of an issue because of the skyrocketing insurance rates that people have experienced, certainly in the last year and a half in this province.

When I look at Bill No. 1 and I try to understand the implications of Bill No.1, I approach this as a layperson, I sort of joke with my colleagues that this is probably the only time when I would kind of like to be a lawyer so that I could understand more of the implications of changing the tort system, which I understand this bill has great implications for. I approach this as a layperson starting from the level of my constituency and the people in my constituency who have brought to me their issues and concerns, specific issues and concerns with respect to their insurance coverage and the problems that they have had in keeping their vehicles insured and operating.

[Page 507]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment just to review a few of those concrete examples because these are the examples that then I will lay against Bill No. 1 to help me determine whether or not Bill No. 1 will in fact assist these people.

I have had a former federal public servant who has taken early retirement due to a disability come to me - this is a woman who, when she worked for the federal Public Service had a very modest income and consequently her pension now and her monthly fixed income is quite modest. She drives an older model car. She has seen an increase in her monthly insurance payments of such a significant amount that she's no longer able to insure her vehicle. She was under an enormous amount of stress and strain when she came to see me in my constituency office around the time last Spring when the government introduced legislation imposing a freeze on insurance rates.

The reason she came to see me was that she had actually gotten a renewal notice for her premiums on her automobile after the government had introduced their legislation. When she noticed that her insurance premiums were not being frozen, they were going up, she contacted her insurance agent and was told that the government legislation did not apply in her case because the rate increases that she was being hit with had already been approved. She was very upset and I believe she wrote the Premier and I'm not entirely sure if she ever received a response - I'm sure she did, but whether or not it was satisfactory, I rather doubt.

I also had contact from a senior whose husband has Alzheimer's and their automobile was sitting in the parking lot at the seniors' manor uninsured. It was a decision that she had taken with a great deal of reluctance but out of necessity. Her husband was about to go into a seniors' manor, their limited income was being taxed for certain needs that he had with respect to going into a long-term care facility and so she had these choices to make.

Neither one of these two constituents were constituents who found themselves in the situation of having their car insurance placed in Facility insurance. We've seen a whole number of people, there's been a huge increase in the number of people who have been moved from the regular insurance plans into this Facility insurance area, the area ostensibly for high risk consumers. Yet, I'm seeing in my contstitunecy with the situations that are presented to me people who are still in the general categories.

So, I'm trying to look at Bill No. 1 with a view to understanding how my constituent who is the retired public servant, my constituents who are seniors, will be impacted by this legislation and whether or not the kinds of reductions that the government claims will be realized from Bill No. 1 will make a difference for these people. Will a 20 per cent reduction in premiums which will not be necessarily the industry standard, make a difference in the lives of these two people who have come to me? I'm very discouraged to say that my reading of Bill No. 1 is that neither one of these women who are constituents of mine will be able to insure their cars because of Bill No. 1.

[Page 508]

There's a large low income community in my riding and there's a bit of a myth or a fallacy out there. I've encountered it on numerous occasions. People have said that the auto insurance issue is not a low income issue, it is not an issue that affects people with low incomes or people, indeed, who live in poverty. My response has been, when I hear this, is that this is not my experience. While it is certainly true that many people with low incomes don't own automobiles in my constituency, it is also true that many people with low incomes do own automobiles in my constituency. As recent as the power outage that just happened, I encountered a constituent who is a single mom, who has disabilities, she has diabetes and she lives in one of the public housing areas and she has a 1984 vehicle that she hasn't been able to insure because of the skyrocketing car insurance rates.

[12:30 p.m.]

I tell people that if you go to the areas in my constituency that people have sometimes stereotyped but also tend to see as the low-income areas, you can't find parking spaces in some of these areas. The cars that are sitting in those parking lots belong to the people who live in those complexes in those areas. Therefore that tells me that people with low incomes, many of them who work by the way, who are working at low-waged jobs, in fact do own vehicles. They have really struggled with being able to cover the cost of their auto insurance probably more than any other group. This is a group who has to make a choice with taking food off the table in order to put insurance on vehicles that they require to be at work.

I know one gentleman in my constituency who is a dad, his wife stays at home and works in the home, they have three children, his job is in the early hours of the morning over in Burnside when the buses aren't running and he lives in North End Halifax. He needs a vehicle in order to get back and forth to work, Mr. Speaker, and he has had a very difficult time and he has this dilemma, you know, to work to support his family, which he wants to do but the cost of insurance has become prohibitive to his being at work. So, I look at this piece of legislation and, I mean, I think anybody would say, if they were offered a 20 per cent reduction in a fixed cost in their household budget that would be a great thing. The problem, as I understand this legislation, is that the 20 per cent is temporary, it doesn't last for more than a year, it will terminate in November 2004. So this is not a long-term solution for people, this is a stop-gap measure for a problem that has gone on now for a year or a year and one half. So, I feel, on behalf of my constituents that we need more than stop-gap measures. We really need a solution that will adequately tackle this problem and provide some stability. Sooner or later some government is going to have to take this issue on in a serious way and provide the stability that we need.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, about this is Bill No. 1, as I understand it, will not apply across the board. There is no guarantee that every person who has an insurance policy will realize a 20 per cent reduction in their fees. This is sort of a general target and then how it actually filters down to the individual with the automobile is dependent on a whole variety of characteristics and that individuals may in fact be required, in order to have the same

[Page 509]

amount of coverage that they now have, to purchase add-on kinds of insurance and so reductions will not actually be realized by people in the long run for the same kinds of coverage that they have now.

Mr. Speaker, as has been said here many times, the problems in the system are the skyrocketing insurance rates, the discriminatory aspects of how insurance operates, the fact that people were moved from general insurance categories into Facility's insurance simply because of their age, or sometimes their gender. The fact that we have more people driving uninsured has been an issue. So these are all problems that need to be addressed in a comprehensive way and there has been a bit of revision as history has gone on in the debate.

The members of the Third Party like to say that they were the first Party to raise the issue of skyrocketing insurance rates here in the House of Assembly, but I think if any fair-minded-person went back and looked at the record, Mr. Speaker, what they would find in fact is that the issue was raised by the member for Cape Breton Centre and the member from Cole Harbour who both raised this issue on numerous occasions in Question Period. Certainly while it's true that the members of the Third Party did propose an all-Party committee to look at this issue and it is true that members of this Party declined the invitation to participate in such an all-Party committee, I think what the honourable members from the Third Party failed to say when they raised this is why that was the case.

So I think it's important to put on the record that members of this Party declined the opportunity to participate in an all-Party select committee to look at skyrocketing insurance with the members of the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party simply because it was clear to us that members of the government Party would have a majority on that committee and that this would become an opportunity not to find solutions but to drag our feet, be flat-footed, and not move toward a real action kind of plan to deal with these issues as we have seen so many times with the use of select committees.

I believe the select committee on skyrocketing auto insurance rates in Newfoundland had been, in fact, studying this issue in excess of four years, perhaps five years, and certainly the NDP caucus did not want to get bogged down in that kind of inactivity and the reality is, Mr. Speaker, as we all know here, select committees are a very important opportunity for members of this House to go out and hear from Nova Scotians from all walks of life in terms of what their experiences are, but select committees don't have attached to them the research resources that are required to do a really good job in terms of investigating and analyzing and examining what goes on in other jurisdictions, for example.

Mr. Speaker, you know, during that whole time it was the NDP caucus that brought forward the idea of a consumer advocate and we, in fact, invested a fair amount of our caucus' resources in doing not just public consultation with seniors' groups and people from the insurance industry and people in the trucking industry and various other consumer groups, litigators, about what was wrong with the current insurance system and ways that it

[Page 510]

might be fixed, we took our time to systematically gather up the information and look at what was occurring in other provinces and, through that process of the NDP task force, we were able to determine that there were at least four other provinces in Canada where auto insurance rates were lower and fairer than is the case in the Province of Nova Scotia - and lo and behold, the provinces where this is the case are the provinces where there is a publically owned and operated auto insurance system. So it was through that process of thoughtful research and information gathering and analysis that we arrived at the position of the NDP caucus.

Mr. Speaker, there are some things that government can do, and I think that is an important message for members of this Legislature to put forward. One of the things that government has done better in this country - and the evidence is there - is public auto insurance. It is one of the things that governments that have committed themselves to introducing public auto can be very proud of. The reports of the NDP task force on insurance that have been tabled in this House, and are available through our caucus, demonstrate, I think, quite clearly the case that public auto insurance is, indeed, something that can be held up as a system that works much better for consumers than the private sector has been able to do.

All you need to do is look at the evidence of the provinces in the last two years where there have been just incredible problems around private auto, and those provinces are the Province of Ontario, the Province of Alberta, the Province of Nova Scotia, the Province of New Brunswick, the Province of P.E.I., and the Province of Newfoundland. So it is not rocket science in terms of what is the best solution to providing the kind of long-term stability and lower and fairer rates for Nova Scotians than what we currently see.

Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 1 does a number of things including caps at $2,500, the compensation that a person can have for a soft-tissue injury or for what the bill describes as an injury that is not of a permanent and serious nature. Today, we had distributed to all members of this Legislature, a report, the actuary report that the government commissioned from KPMG. I'm haven't had time to read this report in any detail, but I'm quite surprised when I look at the categories in this report for whom this capping will now apply. Let me start with the things for which there will still be an ability for the tort law to deal with - death, quadriplegia, paraplegia, permanent brain injury, amputation of a major member, loss of sense, internal organ, disfigurement, scarring, serious laceration, serious burn or TMJ. But the things that will not, the things now that will be subject to this minimum payment of $2,500 are amputation, other fracture, a weight-bearing fracture, neck sprain or strain, back sprain, fibro myalgia, chronic pain, concussion.

[Page 511]

[12:45 p.m.]

It's quite shocking to see what is being excluded now from the tort system and the capping of the benefits that can flow from what can be quite a serious injury. I know in Question Period we'll have many opportunities to ask questions about some of the information contained in this report but my very quick reading of this report indicates that the consultants to the government estimated that at least 50 per cent of the current claims in the Province of Nova Scotia will be eliminated completely. Will be completely eliminated under Bill No. 1. Surely the insurance industry must be laughing with glee about what the government is proposing here and the implications for Nova Scotian drivers.

This is something that we will have to take more time to look at in this report. But a quick reading of this report would indicate that everything my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview had to say about the implications of Bill No. 1, are true and probably even more so than what he estimated.

The last point I want to make in this debate before I take my seat is I want to speak to the information that's being tossed around here on the floor with respect to the cost of setting up a government run auto insurance system. This information has been tossed out a couple of times by members of the Third Party without citing any of the sources where they're getting the information from. I believe that - and I will table this report gladly . . . (Interruptions)

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

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I will table this report. I assume most members of the House would have received from the Insurance Bureau of Canada - which is the lobbyist organization for the insurance industry - a letter this week and some other materials from the insurance bureau who have been investing heavily in a public relations campaign to discredit public auto insurance. They're scared skinny that Nova Scotians are cottoning on to the kind of treatment that they have been getting at the hands of the private insurers. They're not about to continue to have the wool pulled over their eyes. I have never seen such shoddy research put in print. If this were handed in to me by one of my students I would give it back and tell them that they have to rewrite and provide evidence. This is really quite incredible. The information in this appendix that talks about the cost of setting up a public auto system uses information like more than $1 billion; $1.122 billion for something they call additional for public policy goals. Literally, these figures are picked from the air, Mr. Speaker. They have absolutely no basis in reality and, frankly, this report is not really worth the paper it's written on.

[Page 512]

So, Mr. Speaker, I will table this so people are very clear about where members of the Third Party are getting their information with respect to what the cost is of setting up a public auto insurance system. Let's be clear, the information they are citing comes from the insurance industry itself, who have been running the public relations campaign every day in every newspaper in this province. They have been literally spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to try to hold back the public tide. Which is a tide that wants to see this problem of a fixed piece of everybody's household income who drives an automobile, addressed with a stable, long-term solution that will allow people to have the accessible transportation that they require and they deserve just as much as the taxpayers and the consumer in the Province of Saskatchewan, in the Province of Manitoba, in the Province of B.C. and, certainly, to a great extent, in the Province of Quebec. We in this province should settle for nothing less. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 1.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we have had a very vigorous debate on Bill No. 1 and, quite obviously, there are many opinions as to what action government should take with regard to auto insurance. We believe that this bill is sound. We believe it's for the benefit of all Nova Scotia consumers, and we believe that we have covered most of the bases. That's not to say, however, that there are not some small changes that may be useful for consideration during the Law Amendments Committee or when we get into Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and clause by clause. Certainly, the government would welcome suggestions from the Opposition, suitable amendments, that we could consider at that time.

So, Mr. Speaker, I thank all members of the House who have taken part in this debate. I now move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 1. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 513]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 4:00 p.m. The House will sit from 4:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine will be Public Bills for Second Reading and we will be starting with Bill No. 2, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 4:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 12:55 p.m.]

[Page 514]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 201

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the First Presbyterian Church in Hopewell has honoured several of its members who have contributed 40 or more years of service to the church; and

Whereas Reverend Gary Tonks presented almost 50 members with certificates in recognition of their service to the church and to the community; and

Whereas those honoured included representative elder Betty Fraser; church elder and most senior male member of the church, James MacKay; and church elder and most senior female member of the church, Beatrice MacDonald;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the many members of the First Presbyterian Church in Hopewell who have served their community and church with such dedication for the past 40 years.

RESOLUTION NO. 202

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas today's technology is making education more accessible for students across this province, particularly in Kings County; and

Whereas the Kingstec Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College has established online learning programs that provide people who have busy lives with increased opportunities to develop new skills and earn college credits without having to attend regular classes; and

Whereas NSCC instructors Lorraine Mockford and Veronica Legg have expressed great enjoyment at watching students such as Lisa Murphy develop skills at their own pace;

[Page 515]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all the online instructors at Kingstec who make online learning such a success and express our best wishes to all those students who have taken this opportunity to develop skills that will aid them in accomplishing their careers goals.

RESOLUTION NO. 203

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the first ever Kespuwick Community Congress was held recently in Cornwallis Park, attracting international participants; and

Whereas the four-day conference involved delegates discussing methods and difficulties of economic development as well as its ties to bio-diversity, sustainability and society's well being; and

Whereas drawing 180 people, the conference was such a success that congress director Peter MacLellan already has plans for next year in the works, with growing the international contingent topping the list;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizers of the Kespuwick Community Congress for their hard work in putting together the successful four-day conference and wish them luck in planning for next year's event.

RESOLUTION NO. 204

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas each year 15 university and high school teachers from across North America are invited by the North American Science Teachers Association to be included in their highly respected NSTA Monologue; and

Whereas selected teachers are each asked to write a chapter on their area of scientific expertise; and

[Page 516]

Whereas Northeast Kings Education Centre teacher Therese Forsythe was recognized for her excellence in education with the inclusion of her submission, IIT - Integrated Interactive Technology, in the NSTA Monologue;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Therese Forsythe on receiving the significant honour of having her work included in NSTA Monologue and wish her continued success in her career.

RESOLUTION NO. 205

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Kings County native and mother Karen Robinson has volunteered thousands of hours to improve the health of our province's schools; and

Whereas although she suffers from chronic fatigue syndrome, Ms. Robinson devotes much of her time working with organizations such as Citizens for a Safe Learning Environment and the Healthy Indoor Partnership; and

Whereas Ms. Robinson has been awarded the Queen's Golden Jubilee medal for her work on behalf of healthy schools in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Karen Robinson for her work on behalf of healthy schools and congratulate her on receiving the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.

RESOLUTION NO. 206

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Coldbrook resident Wayne MacDonald broke stereotypes five years ago when he took early retirement to care for his wife Shirley who has multiple sclerosis; and

Whereas this year, Mr. MacDonald was among five caregivers from across the province who were recognized by the Nova Scotia Caregiver Association; and

[Page 517]

Whereas Mr. MacDonald has been active in developing the Kings County Caregivers Association in conjunction with Scott Anderson and Pam McKinley of the local Victorian Order of Nurses;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their deep appreciation for Wayne MacDonald's incredible commitment to not only his wife but all those in Kings County who live with multiple sclerosis.

RESOLUTION NO. 207

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas lifetime Kings County residents, Doug and Dawn Coldwell, now share the honour of being the world's longest-established breeders of our province's official dog, the Nova Scotia duck tolling retriever; and

Whereas since beginning Little River Kennels in 1969, the Coldwells have sold more than 1,000 of their champion dogs; and

Whereas the Coldwells' outstanding reputation for breeding Nova Scotia duck tolling retrievers is so widespread that they now sell 50 per cent of their dogs internationally;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Doug and Dawn Coldwell on the success of their Little River Kennels and wish them continued success as they raise even more family-friendly, championship dogs.

RESOLUTION NO. 208

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas two Kentville companies were honoured at the Annual Export Achievement Awards in acknowledgment of their outstanding performance in making a mark in the global economy for 2002; and

Whereas data collection centre KLJ Field Services Inc. won the New Exporter Award for their work with international market research companies; and

[Page 518]

Whereas Apple Valley Foods won the Export Growth Award after they broke into the American market by exporting their famous desserts to the United States in partnership with a non-competing U.S. baker;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate both KLJ Field Services Inc. and Apple Valley Foods on winning Export Achievement Awards and wish them continued success as they grow their successful businesses.

RESOLUTION NO. 209

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas Ellershouse, Hants County, native Mark Flynn is the new Canadian Middleweight Boxing Champion as a result of a 12-round unanimous decision at the Halifax Forum last evening; and

Whereas Mark now holds a title that has been held by such Nova Scotia and Canadian boxing luminaries such as Dave Downey, Lawrence Hafey and Chris Clarke; and

Whereas Mark, the new Canadian champion, is the son of proud parents Mr. and Mrs. Steve Flynn of Ellershouse, Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud Mark's victory and his long-term devotion shown to him by Manager Bunny Phillips and wish him continued success with his professional boxing career.