Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-8

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

MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Scott's Bay: Spelling - Change, Mr. M. Parent 519
Glace Bay - Revitalization: Monies - Provide,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 520
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Gillis, Gordon - Retirement, The Premier 520
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 211, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hurricane Juan: Dept. Staff -
Efforts Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 522
Vote - Affirmative 523
Res. 212, Educ. - Computers for Schools-N.S.: Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 523
Vote - Affirmative 524
Res. 213, Environ. & Lbr. - Fire Serv. (N.S.): Work - Recognize,
Hon. K. Morash 524
Vote - Affirmative 524
Res. 214, Environ. & Lbr. - Imperial Oil Gas Plant (Dart.):
Safety Record - Commend, Hon. K. Morash 525
Vote - Affirmative 525
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 12, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Mr. Michel Samson 525
No. 13, Sydney Casino Profits Distribution Act,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 525
No. 14, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Mr. M. Samson 525
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 215, Environ. & Lbr. - Injured Workers Organizations: Efforts -
Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 526
Vote - Affirmative 527
Res. 216, Environ. & Lbr. - Tradespeople: Value - Recognize,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 527
Vote - Affirmative 527
Res. 217, Environ. & Lbr. - Chronic Pain: Sufferers - Compensate,
Mr. F. Corbett 528
Vote - Affirmative 528
Res. 218, Environ. & Lbr. - Engineers/Architects/Contractors/
Tradespeople: Work - Recognize, Mr. D. Graham 528
Vote - Affirmative 529
Res. 219, Wales Scholarship: Recipients - Congrats., Mr. W. Langille 529
Vote - Affirmative 530
Res. 220, Myers, Dr. Lindsay: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 530
Vote - Affirmative 531
Res. 221, CIBC Run for the Cure: Organizers/Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 531
Vote - Affirmative 531
Res. 222, Terry Fox Run: Participants - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 532
Vote - Affirmative 532
Res. 223, Insurance - Liberals/NDP: Public Auto Plans - Recognize,
Mr. D. Dexter 533
Res. 224, Sports - Tide Cup Soccer Championships: Organizers -
Success Wish, Ms. D. Whalen 533
Vote - Affirmative 534
Res. 225, Agric. & Fish. - DFO Min.: Seized Equipment - Donate,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 534
Vote - Affirmative 535
Res. 226, A'Court, Charlie: MIANS Award - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 535
Vote - Affirmative 536
Res. 227, Fin. - Fuel Rebate Prog.: Importance -
Liberal Acknowledgment Recognize, Mr. W. Gaudet 536
Res. 228, Col. Reg. Hosp. Aux.: Volunteerism - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 537
Vote - Affirmative 537
Res. 229, CIBC Run for the Cure: Participants/Sponsors/Organizers -
Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 537
Vote - Affirmative 538
Res. 230, Energy - Offshore: N.S. Content - Lack Condemn,
Mr. Michel Samson 538
Res. 231, Wentzell, Lisa/Hebb, David & Ben - Pumpkin Growing:
Techniques - Commend, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 539
Vote - Affirmative 539
Res. 232, Meehan, Mr. & Mrs. David: Woodlot Owner of Yr. Award -
Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 539
Vote - Affirmative 540
Res. 233, Mental Illness Awareness Wk. (10/05-10/11/03):
Importance - Acknowledge, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 540
Vote - Affirmative 541
Res. 234, Health Prom. - Breastfeeding Awareness Wk.
(10/01-10/07/03): Organizers/Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 541
Vote - Affirmative 541
Res. 235, Nat. Res. - HRM: Replanting - Assist, Ms. J. Massey 542
Res. 236, St. Augustine - Stained Glass Window: Parishoners/Council -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 542
Vote - Affirmative 543
Res. 237, Grocery Store Employees: Store Opening (10/05/03) - Thank,
Mr. G. Steele 543
Vote - Affirmative 544
Res. 238, Bishop, Charles: Bus. Dev. Ctrs. Award - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 544
Vote - Affirmative 544
Res. 239, J.L. Ilsley HS - Michael Nee/Terri Quinlan: Best Wishes -
Extend, Ms. M. Raymond 545
Vote - Affirmative 545
Res. 240, Lawrencetown (Anna. Co.) - 4-H Event: Organizers -
Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 545
Vote - Affirmative 546
Res. 241, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Assessment Legislation - Introduce,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 546
Res. 242, Agric. & Fish. - Digby/Yar. Fishermen: Generosity -
Commend, Mr. H. Theriault 547
Vote - Affirmative 547
Res. 243, Insurance - Auto Accident Compensation: Limitation -
Reconsider, Mr. G. Gosse 547
Res. 244, Learning for Independent Living Prog. - Importance,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 548
Vote - Affirmative 549
Res. 245, Environ. & Lbr. - Injured Workers: Workers' Advisers Prog. -
Efforts Recognize, Mr. K. Deveaux 549
Vote - Affirmative 549
Res. 246, Fin. - Budget Balancing: Difficulties - Recognition Time Frame,
Ms. D. Whalen 550
Res. 247, Universal Soul: MIANS Award - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 550
Vote - Affirmative 551
Res. 248, Smith, Craig - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 551
Vote - Affirmative 552
Res. 249, HRM Residents - NSPI: Accountability - Enforce,
Ms. J. Massey 552
Res. 250, Country Living Estates: Opening - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 553
Vote - Affirmative 553
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 2, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/
Labour Standards Code 554
Hon. M. Baker 554
Mr. D. Dexter 555
Mr. D. Graham 562
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 566
Mr. Gerald Sampson 571
Mr. K. Deveaux 575
Mr. R. MacKinnon 594
Ms. M. More 605
Mr. K. Colwell 611
Mr. J. Pye 615
Mr. W. Gaudet 626
Adjourned debate 630
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Oct. 7th at 12:00 noon 631
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 251, James, Monetta - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 632
Res. 252, Wade, Daisy - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 632
Res. 253, Matwawana, Edward - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 633
Res. 254, Warrington, Gordon - Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award: Nomination -
Congrats., Mr. K. Colwell 633

[Page 519]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, OCTOBER 6, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

4:00 P.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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause is that the spelling of Scots Bay, Nova Scotia, should be changed to Scott's Bay with two t's rather than one t, and 48 people have signed it. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member affixed his name to the petition, did he? (Interruption)

The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

519

[Page 520]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from the Glace Bay Business & Professional Association. The petition bears the signatures of approximately 35 people and calls on the provincial government to consider providing monies which could be used possibly for compensation for merchants in light of Glace Bay's revitalization project. I have affixed my name to the document.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

HON. JOHN HAMM (Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise today with mixed emotions. I am saddened to inform the House that Nova Scotia will be soon losing one of its finest public servants to retirement. At the same time, I am pleased to say that while he will be missed, Gordon Gillis, Deputy Minister for the Premier's Office, has chosen this time to retire so that he and his family can enjoy the opportunities that come as their life enters a new stage. It is an opportunity and a break well earned.

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, it is the elected members of this House who receive the lion's share of public attention as we work to fulfill the mandates entrusted to us by the people of Nova Scotia. However, less visible, yet equally important, are the hard-working public servants of our province, dedicated professionals who, far from the glare of the cameras or the spotlights, work hard each and every day to ensure that families in Nova Scotia remain well-served by their government.

Since 1978, Gordon Gillis has been an outstanding example of the calibre of Nova Scotia's public sector and since 2000, I have had the good fortune of having his support as our province's senior civil servant.

Gordon Gillis entered the Public Service as a lawyer for the Department of Attorney General, with an assigned responsibility for the then Department of Labour. Since then, he has served in a variety of roles including: Deputy Minister for the Departments of Justice; Intergovernmental Affairs; Labour; Community Services; Treasury and Policy Board; Communications Nova Scotia; and now, his second tour of duty as Deputy Minister for the Premier's Office.

While modesty would prevent him from saying so himself, Gordon has quite frankly seen it all and has witnessed and participated in many of the most pivotal moments in our province's and nation's history. His wealth of experience, quick mastery of complex issues, and exceptional managerial skills may well prove impossible to replace.

[Page 521]

Fortunately for the rest of us, however, Gordon set a tremendous standard for those who will follow and in doing so, he has set an example for the kind of good work, the kind of difference that one person can make in choosing a career in the Public Service, demonstrating that serving your province continues to be a noble calling.

I would ask the House to join me in wishing Gordon, along with his wife, Rose and son, Gordie, our very best wishes as they begin a new chapter in life. Through you, Mr. Speaker, may I speak to Gordon - who is not in the House with us today but I'm sure is watching - by saying congratulations, Gordon. Nova Scotia will miss your service and your leadership. You have truly helped make Nova Scotia stronger, prouder and better. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, very briefly, I wanted to join with the Premier in his comments with respect to Mr. Gillis' work. It was certainly greatly appreciated, all his efforts on behalf of the people of Nova Scotia. With the indulgence of the Leader of the Liberal Party, I would like to have Mr. Deveaux, who had the opportunity to work with Mr. Gillis, speak further on it.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, when I first joined the Department of Labour back in 1993, my boss at the time was Pat Clahane, who was a solicitor for the Department of Labour. She would speak glowingly of this Gordon Gillis, who, at the time - I don't know which ministry he was with at that time, Municipal Affairs, Intergovernmental Affairs - when she had started out as a young lawyer in the Department of Labour, Gordon was the solicitor to the Department of Labour.

I had an opportunity to work with him when he came back, when we were working on the Occupational Health and Safety Act. I have had a chance to work with him now, since being elected, in his role in the Treasury and Policy Board, in the Premier's Office. He has always exemplified, in my mind, someone who is above, in many cases, partisan politics and one who represents what I would call a civil servant who represents the civil service, who fights on behalf of what he thinks is right, not necessarily based on any specific ideology or partisan basis. You can't ask for more from a senior civil servant. I have always had a lot of respect for Gordon and his work as a civil servant.

I was sad to see that he is retiring after 25 years. He was a constituent of mine, he's now a constituent of the Leader of the Official Opposition, so I am sure we will still see him around in our neighbourhoods. He is a good man. We are going to miss him in the Civil Service, and I wish him all the best. (Applause)

[Page 522]

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: It is with mixed emotions that I, too, rise today because Gordon Gillis was not just someone with whom I have had a professional association, but he is also a friend of mine. I first got to know Gordon in his first stint as the Deputy Minister of Justice, and then during his second stint as the Deputy Minister of Justice I got to know him much better. We all know of his work in Community Services and certainly in the Premier's Office. He has been an impeccable public servant, an example to the people of Nova Scotia who want to pursue a career in the Public Service.

I know that we haven't heard the last of him. But for those of us who knew him and worked with him personally, we recognize that he was fair, he continues to be fair, he's certainly good-natured, and he's, above all else, modest and focused on the greater good for Nova Scotians. When I first met him, he was a conducting a forum for an innovative approach to justice over at the Holiday Inn in Dartmouth. He has continued to pursue that and many other innovations. I think that as he moves out into the private sector - I am sure it won't be to retirement - we can expect to hear more from Gordon, in particular more of his special ideas of innovation and his rambling musings from time to time, which were certainly a pleasure to be a part of and to listen to. I wish he and Rose and the rest of the family all the best on behalf of our caucus. Thank you. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 211

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

Whereas staff from the Department of Transportation and Public Works routinely leave their homes and assist before, during, and after storms and disasters in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas department staff left their homes and worked long hours and in difficult conditions during Hurricane Juan and its destructive aftermath; and

Whereas staff will continue to use their skills and equipment in the coming weeks so as to assist people with tree trimming and road repair in all hurricane-affected areas of the province, especially the Counties of Colchester, Pictou and Halifax;

[Page 523]

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize and thank the Department of Transportation of Public Works' staff for their efforts.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 212

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

Whereas Computers for Schools-Nova Scotia is celebrating its 10th Anniversary; and

Whereas the program puts 3,000 donated and refurbished computers into Nova Scotia classrooms each year and last May put its 20,000th computer into a Nova Scotia school; and

Whereas Computers for Schools-Nova Scotia is a unique partnership combining the strengths of the Department of Education, Industry Canada and the Aliant Pioneer Volunteers, along with support from organizations such as the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, the Nova Scotia School Boards Association and companies such as CN, Microsoft and Aliant;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the many individuals, volunteers, organizations and companies that work together to make Computers for Schools-Nova Scotia such an overwhelming success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 524]

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 Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 213

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Fire Service has again demonstrated its continuing commitment to community protection by taking on a huge number of tasks in the recovery operations following Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the Premier has proclaimed October 5th to October 11th to be Fire Prevention Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Fire Service of Nova Scotia will again be demonstrating its commitment to public safety by holding hundreds of Fire Prevention Week activities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the continuing work of Nova Scotia's Fire Service and urge all Nova Scotians to learn this year's Fire Prevention Week lesson : "When Fire Strikes, Get Out and Stay Out!"

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 Environment and Labour.

[Page 525]

RESOLUTION NO. 214

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

Whereas the creation of a safe and healthy workplace through safe work practices, appropriate training and the use of suitable equipment is a responsibility shared between employers and their employees; and

Whereas Imperial Oil has gone 600,000 hours without a recordable injury at the rebuild of their low-sulphur gas plant in Dartmouth; and

Whereas the rebuild of this new low-sulphur gasoline facility - the first of its kind for Imperial Oil in Canada - has involved the conscientious work of Imperial Oil staff and various contractors, making this important safety milestone possible;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend all those working on Imperial Oil's rebuild of their low- sulphur gas plant in Dartmouth for their excellent safety record of 600,000 hours without a recordable injury. They serve as an outstanding example of how safe work environments can be successfully maintained.

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. 12 - Entitled as Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 13 - Entitled An Act to Establish a Board to Distribute to Charities One Half of the Profits From the Sydney Casino. (Mr. David Wilson, Glace Bay)

Bill No. 14 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

[Page 526]

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: If I can beg the indulgence of the Speaker to give a brief introduction. In the west gallery are representatives from three injured workers' associations in Nova Scotia. I'll ask them to stand as I read their names off: Mary Lloyd and Bob Baudoux of the Pictou County Injured Workers Association; June Labrador and Wally Peters of the Nova Scotia Provincial Injured Workers Association; and Lachie MacLeod and Jimmy Lyle of the Cape Breton Injured Workers' Group. They're here in the House today because of a decision of the Supreme Court of Canada last Friday and some of the discussions going around the Dorsey report in the next couple of days. Maybe the House could give them a warm recognition. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 215

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

Whereas many injured workers in the province have been denied full benefits as a result of suffering chronic pain and other similar disabilities; and

Whereas organizations representing injured workers have fought a long battle to ensure all workers injured at work receive the benefits they are entitled to; and

Whereas on October 3, 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Act's provisions refusing or limiting benefits to workers with chronic pain were unconstitutional;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of injured workers organizations in Nova Scotia in fighting to ensure all injured workers obtain the benefits to which they are entitled.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 527]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 216

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 Nova Scotia Home Builders Association and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers are working to ensure that electricians are being made available for the re-establishment of electricity to individual homes in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas despite their efforts and even without Hurricane Juan the number of skilled tradespeople in all fields is declining, as half of all tradespeople are set to retire over the next 10 to 15 years; and

Whereas industrial trades should be seen as career opportunities for young people;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the value of our tradespeople and encourage young Nova Scotians to consider a trade when making decisions about their future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 528]

RESOLUTION NO. 217

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 Friday, October 3, 2003, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down as an unconstitutional act of discrimination against people on the basis of their physical disability the law and regulations that denied workers compensation for chronic pain; and

Whereas the labour-management consensus in the Dorsey report recommended action to deal with injustices such as the denial of compensation for chronic pain, but the Dorsey report was sidelined for further consultation; and

Whereas the harshest aspect of that law that was struck down were enacted by a minority government;

Therefore be it resolved that all Parties in this House should be alert to the potential injustice created by legislation and eager to work with injured workers to fairly compensate those who suffer chronic pain, without further discrimination.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

RESOLUTION NO. 218

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

Whereas Nova Scotians owe a debt of gratitude to our engineers, architects, contractors and tradespeople as we reflect upon Hurricane Juan; and

[Page 529]

Whereas the devastation our province experienced to buildings, roads, bridges and other structures could have been much worse if it was not for the excellent workmanship of these people; and

Whereas, unfortunately, these people are one segment of the population that are often overlooked for the excellent work they perform day in and day out;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the excellent work that Nova Scotian engineers, architects, contractors and tradespeople perform every day.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 219

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

Whereas the Wales Scholarship is a $6,000 annual scholarship fund established by the Province of Nova Scotia in commemoration of the wedding of the Prince and Princess of Wales and administered by Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command of the Royal Canadian Legion; and

Whereas the Wales Scholarship, awarded to students who have disabilities and are pursuing post-secondary education at Nova Scotia institutions, has been divided among three Nova Scotia students to apply to their studies this fall; and

Whereas this year's recipients are Tara Loughnane of Coldbrook, who is beginning a Bachelor of Science program at Acadia University; John Paul MacInnis of New Waterford, who is beginning the radio and television arts diploma at Kingstec; and Mary MacDonald of Halifax, who is now enrolled in the advanced diploma in public relations program at the Halifax Campus of the Nova Scotia Community College;

[Page 530]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tara Loughnane, John Paul MacInnis and Mary MacDonald on winning this scholarship, and wish them success in their studies and in establishing their careers.

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. 220

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

Whereas Dr. Lindsay Myers of Beaver Meadow, Antigonish, was a physician who stayed in her home province, specialized in psychiatry to meet pressing health needs and provided exemplary service to her patients in northern Nova Scotia for more than 25 years; and

Whereas Lindsay Myers, her husband John Arthur Murphy, and their children Flora, Michael and Lindsay Alexa, were a family who always took their part in the community and offered a welcome to all; and

Whereas Lindsay Myers passed away on Friday, October 4th, nearly two years after being diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia, having continued to live with her great strength and beauty of character;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its deepest condolences to John Arthur, Flora, Michael and Lindsay Alexa Murphy on the passing of their beloved wife and mother, and to the many people whose lives were touched by Lindsay Myers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 531]

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. 221

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 4th Annual CIBC's Run for the Cure campaign against breast cancer was held in Cape Breton yesterday; and

Whereas 4,002 registered participants either ran, walked or jogged through downtown Sydney in the morning to raise awareness and support for a disease that inflicts one out of every nine women across the country; and

Whereas yesterday's event raised over $400,000 by team and individual donations in Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the contribution organizers, participants and all those involved displayed in the 4th annual CIBC's Run for the Cure campaign.

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 532]

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[4:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 222

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

Whereas cancer has touched the lives of almost every person in Nova Scotia in one way or another; and

Whereas for the past 23 years runners have laced up their sneakers to raise money for cancer research through the Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas the people of Pictou County have taken to heart the motto, Together, Cancer Can Be Beaten, with four different communities organizing runs;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing all those individuals who take on the challenge every year to run the Terry Fox Run and raise money for cancer research.

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.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, before I begin my resolution, I would like to draw the attention of the House to a long-time member of the House of Assembly who is in our gallery, Mr. Paul MacEwan, who is joining us here, I think, to check in and make sure that things are going the way they ought to be going. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. MacEwan here today, and we hope he enjoys the proceedings, as he has for the last 30-plus years.

[Page 533]

MR. DEXTER: Well, I'm sure he's going to enjoy this resolution.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 223

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

Whereas on October 4, 2003, New Brunswick Liberal Leader Shawn Graham joined the Liberal Leaders in British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba and Quebec in endorsing public auto insurance as the only way to ensure drivers have the lowest and fairest rates; and

Whereas Conservative Leaders in British Columbia, Saskatchewan and Manitoba have also endorsed public auto insurance; and

Whereas here in Nova Scotia, the Conservative Government, with Liberal support, is spending freely to try to ensure that Nova Scotians do not enjoy the lowest and fairest rates;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Liberals and Conservatives should remember that they work for drivers, not the out-of-province private insurers, and heed the growing recognition that low, fair and stable auto insurance rates are only available through public auto plans that are owned by the drivers themselves.

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 Halifax-Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 224

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

[Page 534]

Whereas Nova Scotia will host the Tide Cup Under 14 National soccer Club Championships to be held this October 8th to 13th; and

Whereas each province will be represented by one boys and one girls team, with most games taking place at the new all-weather, artificial turf fields located on Thomas Raddall Drive in the Mainland Commons of Clayton Park; and

Whereas with hundreds of players and their families expected to attend this event, it's estimated that the championship will generate over $500,000 to the local economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in wishing the organizers the greatest success at the upcoming Tide Cup Under 14 National Soccer Club Championships as they host hundreds of players and their families from across Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 225

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan destroyed sections of the fishing industry along coastal areas of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas in conjunction with non-affected fisheries personnel from Western Nova Scotia, namely the Counties of Yarmouth and Shelburne, contributions are coming forth in the form of used lobster traps, ropes, buoys, et cetera; and

Whereas the federal government, every year, confiscates fishing traps and all kinds of fishing gear from those not wishing to follow the rules;

[Page 535]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the initiative now underway, while also approving, through this resolution, consent of a letter to the federal Minister of Fisheries, requesting that he and his department immediately begin donating all seized equipment to ensure a brighter future for the Nova Scotia fishing industry.

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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 226

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

Whereas the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia (MIANS) Music Awards were held on Sunday, October 5, 2003, at St. Antonio's Hall in Halifax; and

Whereas receiving MIANS Award indicate recognition by the music community in Nova Scotia of an artist's talent and achievements; and

Whereas Charlie A'Court, who only released his debut album, Color Me Gone, within the past year, received four awards, Male Artist of the Year, Entertainer of the Year, Blues/Jazz Artist of the Year and Album of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. A'Court for his outstanding success and exceptional achievements.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 536]

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. 227

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

Whereas on September 11, 2003, the Yarmouth Town Council approved a motion requesting the province to increase the home heating fuel rebate from $50 to $100; and

Whereas during the 2003 election campaign, the Liberals proposed to double the fuel rebate program from $50 to $100 for those eligible for the program and made the commitment that it would be available every winter, not only during cold winters; and

Whereas during this same election campaign, both the Tories and the NDP made no commitment of support for this important program that provides assistance to some of our most vulnerable citizens;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature recognize that it was only the Liberal Party that acknowledged the importance of the low income fuel assistance program and the support it provides to those affected by high home heating costs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 537]

RESOLUTION NO. 228

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

Whereas the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary will contribute $126,000 in new equipment to the Colchester Regional Hospital in 2003; and

Whereas each year the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary contributes between $100,000 and $220,000 to the Colchester Regional Hospital for new equipment and for room decorations and refurbishment; and

Whereas the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary is a powerful example of the contribution volunteers make to the hospital system in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank and congratulate the members of the Colchester Regional Hospital Auxiliary for their exemplary volunteerism which improves patient care in the Colchester Regional Hospital.

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 Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 229

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

Whereas the 4th Annual Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation CIBC's Run for the Cure took place in downtown Sydney yesterday, October 5th; and

Whereas the annual event raises funds for research into breast cancer, a disease which will affect one in eight women in Atlantic Canada; and

[Page 538]

Whereas folks who ran, walked and jogged through the streets of Sydney raised record $405,526;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate all the participants, those who sponsored them and all the organizations for a very successful CIBC's Run for the Cure to raise monies for breast cancer research.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 230

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

Whereas once again the Tory Government is showing its ineptitude as more offshore jobs are literally being done offshore - in fact, out of the country; and

Whereas the latest Tier II Sable project will reduce and not increase Nova Scotia content in the offshore; and

Whereas this is the same Tory Government that, when in Opposition, demanded more than they demand of themselves today;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn this Tory Government for not ensuring enough Nova Scotia content in our offshore and for their "do as I say, not as I do" attitude, personified in a Premier who has never exercised leadership in the offshore field.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

[Page 539]

RESOLUTION NO. 231

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 Bridgewater residents Lisa Wentzell and David Hebb were the big winners at the 19th annual Windsor-West Hants Giant Pumpkin Festival weigh-off held Saturday morning at Hants County Exhibition Grounds in Windsor; and

Whereas Lisa's pumpkin was the heaviest, weighing 1,178 pounds, while David had a number one squash weighing in at 986 pounds, just four pounds shy of the present world record; and

Whereas Lisa's pumpkin was the second heaviest ever grown in Atlantic Canada next to last year's 1,215 pound champion grown by Bridgewater's Ben Hebb;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the growing techniques of Lisa Wentzell, David and Ben Hebb from Bridgewater, as they take their place with some of the elite pumpkin growing kings in the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 232

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

Whereas good forestry husbandry is the future for successful forest woodlot management; and

[Page 540]

Whereas the development of sustainable woodlots has been a goal of visionary and dedicated men and women; and

Whereas Mr. and Mrs. David Meehan of Center Rawdon have been named as Woodlot Owner of the Year for the central district of the province for 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Meehans on their award and for their foresight in realizing the value of sustainable forestry practices to future generations of Nova Scotians.

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. 233

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 October 5 to October 11, 2003, is Mental Illness Awareness Week; and

Whereas this week's theme, "Mental Illness and the Family - Resources for Recovery", offers the opportunity to draw to the attention of the community, the tapestry of families associated with the recovery of mental illness; and

Whereas one in five adult Canadians will suffer a mental disorder in their lives and almost 20 per cent of children and youth in Canada suffer from a diagnosable psychiatric disorder;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature acknowledge the importance of Mental Illness Awareness Week and recognize the important role professionals, volunteers and family members play in their support of those with mental illnesses.

[Page 541]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 234

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 October 1st through October 7th is Breastfeeding Awareness Week; and

Whereas breastfeeding has numerous nutritional, physical, developmental and emotional health benefits for infants; and

Whereas women at five locations across this province are participating in the Quintessence Breastfeeding Challenge on October 4th to celebrate the importance of breastfeeding;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizers and participants of this event for helping to raise awareness of the health benefits of breastfeeding.

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 542]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 235

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has not kept up with a preventative pruning program while demand for the service has tripled since amalgamation in 1995; and

Whereas for the past 20 years road and sidewalk construction in metro has damaged the root systems of many trees which makes them vulnerable to extreme winds; and

Whereas trees as large as two metres in diameter could have been trimmed, secured with guy wires and safely righted at less cost than cutting them up and hauling them to a dump site;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia help the Halifax Regional Municipality replant and re-invest in proper services which were cut back due to amalgamation that no one wanted in the first place.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 236

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

Whereas St. Augustine's Church has recently installed a new stained-glass window over their altar; and

Whereas the new stained-glass window depicts The Feeding of the Five Thousand; and

[Page 543]

Whereas the parish has been fundraising for this new window for the past three years at a cost of over $20,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the parishioners of St. Augustine and their church council for the tremendous effort they have made in their new stained-glass window becoming a reality.

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 Fairview.

RESOLUTION NO. 237

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

Whereas grocery store employees worked long hours with few opportunities for a break on Sunday, October 5th, to help people restock fridges or buy another day's food; and

Whereas many of these store employees have themselves gone without power and water in their own homes; and

Whereas the number of employees who were able and willing to work permitted a significant number of stores to open, despite road and street closures and on-going travel difficulties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its thanks to the grocery store employees and all others who helped ensure that people hit by Hurricane Juan could buy necessary food and supplies on Sunday, October 5th.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 544]

[4:45 p.m.]

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. 238

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

Whereas in September, Charles Bishop, of Kingston, was presented with an award from the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Centres; and

Whereas Mr. Bishop was recognized for his volunteer work in economic development; and

Whereas he is a 25-year member of the Lions, has 27 years with the Western Kings Rink board of directors, and has been an accountant for 42 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Charles Bishop for receiving the award from the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Centres for his volunteer work in economic development.

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 545]

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 239

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

Whereas Terri Quinlan began her career as teacher at J.L. Ilsley High School; and

Whereas in the late summer of 2000, Terri returned to J.L. Ilsley as Vice Principal; and

Whereas Principal Michael Nee announced his retirement last year, and Terri has agreed to take on the assignment of Principal at J. L. Ilsley;

Therefore be it resolved that this Assembly bid Michael Nee a fond farewell, congratulate Terri Quinlan and wish her best of luck in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 240

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

Whereas congratulations goes out to the organizers of a very successful 4-H event held in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia 4-H show hosting committee, with more than 20 people working for two years to make this a reality, have done an outstanding job; and

[Page 546]

Whereas this event marked the 81st Anniversary of the 4-H programs within our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the 4-H organizers who hosted the very successful event in Lawrencetown, Annapolis County last weekend.

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. 241

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

Whereas this government through the Voluntary Planning process has information readily available on the assessment issue as a result of 17 community meetings held throughout the province in the Spring of 2001; and

Whereas at that time municipal officials and individual Nova Scotians made presentations to Voluntary Planning on the topic of unfair assessment increases; and

Whereas the time for decisiveness on the important subject of assessments is now;

Therefore be it resolved that this government bring forth the necessary assessment legislation or call the bill introduced by the NDP for debate immediately.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 547]

RESOLUTION NO. 242

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

Whereas the fishermen of Digby to Yarmouth came forward to offer assistance in the form of equipment for their colleagues affected greatly by the disaster of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas these Digby and Yarmouth area fishermen are understanding that the livelihoods of many fishermen are in trouble due to a substantial loss of fishing equipment and tools; and

Whereas as was their kindness back in 1999, to donate equipment fo fishermen in need, the workers of Digby to Yarmouth are more than willing to provide support to other fishermen who must now start from scratch;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in commending these fishermen on their generosity and kindness of spirit, in offering what is theirs, to those in great need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 243

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

Whereas the Supreme Court of Canada has struck down limits on workers' compensation that are based on the nature of the injury; and

[Page 548]

Whereas the summary of the court's decision states "the differential treatment is discriminatory . . . because it does not correspond to the actual needs and circumstances of injured workers suffering from chronic pain, who are deprived of any individual assessment of their needs and circumstances";

Therefore be it resolved that the Liberals and the Conservatives, who imposed unconstitutional limits on workers' compensation should reconsider their plans to arbitrarily limit compensation for auto accident victims, because they may again be illegally depriving Nova Scotians.

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 West.

RESOLUTION NO. 244

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

Whereas young people on the Northside will be better able to access the job market thanks to a program called Learning for Independent Living; and

Whereas this program gets to the heart of youth employability and incorporates partnerships with the community and the employer base; and

Whereas Learning for Independent Living will provide employment opportunities for about 350 participants;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the federally-funded program Learning for Independent Living as an excellent starting point to curbing youth unemployment in the Northside area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 549]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 245

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 Supreme Court of Canada determined on October 3, 2003, that injured workers suffering from chronic pain have a constitutional right to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Act; and

Whereas the Workers' Advisers Program was established, in its current form, in the 1990s, providing legal services to injured workers; and

Whereas the Workers' Advisers Program argued the cases at every level, up to and including the Supreme Court of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Nova Scotia Workers' Advisers Program, in particular Chief Workers' Advisers, Anne Clark and Ken LeBlanc for their efforts on behalf of injured workers.

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 550]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 246

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

Whereas prior to the election, millions of dollars in spending was announced by the government; and

Whereas all Nova Scotians were assured at the time that this would not put the balanced budget in jeopardy; and

Whereas despite warnings of a slower economy nationwide, slowing activity in our offshore and a recession south of the border, the government is continuing to say it is committed to its pre-election spending;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the government to tell the people when it knew it might not achieve a balanced budget and reveal the full extent of the possible new deficit, including less-than-expected equalization payments and the impact of Hurricane Juan.

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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 247

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

Whereas the Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia (MIANS) Music Awards were held on Sunday, October 5th at St. Antonio's Hall in Halifax; and

[Page 551]

Whereas receiving a MIANS Award indicates recognition by the music community in Nova Scotia of an artist's or group's talents and achievements; and

Whereas the hip-hop group, Universal Soul, composed of Finley Tolliver (F.I.Z.), Tracey Williams (Tacktishion), David Adekayode (VooDoo), and DJ Jorun, were honoured with the Urban Artist Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the members of Universal Soul for their accomplishment, and wish them continued and increasing success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 248

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

Whereas Craig Smith, nominated for the Canadian Griot Award, which recognizes contributions Black Canadians are making in their communities; and

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

Whereas for this nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Craig Smith was recognized for his outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

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

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 552]

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 East.

RESOLUTION NO. 249

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

Whereas many people in the Halifax Regional Municipality continue to go without power but are being given the runaround by Nova Scotia Power as to when they can expect to be reconnected; and

Whereas many residents have not been able to actually talk to anyone at Nova Scotia Power but continue to be cut off; and

Whereas the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality deserve to be treated in a respectful, truthful and timely manner;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia make Nova Scotia Power accountable to the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 553]

RESOLUTION NO. 250

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

Whereas Country Living Estates seniors' complex is now open on the Prospect Road; and

Whereas this important addition to our community helps meet the needs of seniors on the Prospect Road; and

Whereas this seniors' residence is a result of hard work and dedication of Rose Fitzpatrick and Eileen Ross;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank Eileen and Rose and the staff of Country Living Estates with best wishes for much 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.

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.

[Page 554]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2

Bill No. 2 - Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to rise to speak briefly today to Bill No. 2, An Act to Amend Chapter 402 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act; and Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Labour Standards Code.

Members will be aware of our intention with respect to Sunday shopping and I look forward to hearing their proposals for amendment. Let me speak very briefly to the principle of this legislation. We would start with a trial period of the six Sundays leading up to Christmas this year, which means Sunday shopping would be available beginning on Sunday, November 16th between the hours of 1:00 p.m and 6:00 p.m., and that is if - I repeat, if - the store owners choose to be open. It's their choice.

We also promised to ask Nova Scotians what they feel about Sunday shopping. They will choose. This legislation will allow for a province-wide plebiscite in October 2004. That plebiscite would be a binding plebiscite. We also want municipalities to be reassured that our government will pick up all of the costs associated with adding the two plebiscite questions to the municipal ballot. We believe the questions that are being put to Nova Scotians are clear - do Nova Scotians want Sunday shopping? If they do, do they want it every Sunday or only the six Sundays leading up to Christmas?

Mr. Speaker, I know all three Parties in the House are interested in making sure we have adequate protection for employees and employers. I note that there was discussion after my bill briefing about the number of hours a person should have off before returning to work, and if there were some concerns about falling through, if any investigations are required by the Labour Standards Branch of the Department of Environment and Labour. I look forward to hearing constructive suggestions on any of these points.

Our bill does address the issue of worker protection. We are saying that employees who now work in stores that are not allowed to be open on Sundays cannot be forced to work on a Sunday. They cannot be discriminated against in any way and we believe there are very strong penalties in the legislation for employers who would violate that principle.

That having been said, let me reiterate. We want to co-operate with members of all Parties in the House to make sure this bill is passed. We're open to your ideas, we'll be working with all members of this House to move this bill through the House in a timely manner so that employers in this province can have an adequate amount of time to plan for

[Page 555]

Sunday opening. I look forward to moving this bill through the House promptly so that we can begin the public hearings at the Law Amendments Committee.

[5:00 p.m.]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to join the debate on Bill No. 2, An Act to Amend Chapter 402 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act; and Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Labour Standards Code. This is a very serious piece of legislation as, of course, most legislation is, as it comes through, but I think this is more serious than most because what it seeks to do is, it seeks to fundamentally change the workplaces of the people of this province. To those out there who think that this is kind of a zero sum gain where some people lose a little, some people gain a little, that's just not the case. Some people are going to lose a lot in this. Some people are going to be asked to give up a day with their family, to give up the time that they would otherwise have spent in charitable endeavours, whether they were coaching hockey or whether they were carrying out work at their local food bank. Whatever it was that they happened to spend their time on that day doing, they are going to be asked to give that up.

I reflect a little on a story I heard about a shop owner in my own constituency who said that in the last trial period, he wasn't crazy about it but he knew that if his competitors were going to be open that he had to be open, so he made the commitment to open over the course of the trial period. He said, you know Sundays were really busy. I was very busy on Sunday but my store was dead on Monday. So all of the people who I had normally working on Monday, I said, I'm sorry, I have no work for you on Monday. He said I would never ask those people to work on Sunday. I'm not going to, just because the government has declared that Sunday is an open day, I'm not going to force those people to come to work on Sunday. But, he said, I told them, since I have no work for you on Monday, I will give you first choice of the hours on Sunday. Well the result was pretty obvious. Those people still needed the hours, they still needed to feed their families, so they came to work on Sunday.

So when you fundamentally alter the workplace in this manner, you are going to have a profound effect on the lives of many people in our communities. The owner himself said, you know the other thing about it was I used Sundays to coach hockey but now I had to give that up because I'm not around. I had to look after my store on Sunday so I had to look after that.

So let's be clear about this. People refer to this as the Sunday shopping legislation. It is seven days a week work legislation. That's what it is. It's legislation that means that people will work seven days a week. Now there are all kinds of reasons why this won't be upheld. They go in two directions so I'm going to try to explain some of them. The first is simply this. The bill contains restrictions on the hours. It says they can be open from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00

[Page 556]

p.m. but the Sunday shopping legislation and the seven-day work week legislation has a long, long history in this country, not just in this province. It dates back to the 19th Century, let alone the 20th Century. There has always been an interest by some people to be open on Sunday and an interest by others to see that they are closed on Sunday.

Perhaps maybe the best way to do this is to maybe start at the beginning. There have been numerous pieces of legislation over the years that have tried to regulate trade on Sunday. In fact, I believe the first legislation in Canada was based on some English Statutes and interestingly enough, of course this is the root of our common law in this province and in this country, the English common law. A lot of these things were brought over to this country prior to the British North America Act, they were the governing Statutes of the country, but they, themselves, have their own roots in traditions that were handed down to the English from Roman times. I noticed that there was at one time an Act called the Sunday Fairs Act of 1448, and an Act for the Better Observation of the Lord's Day, commonly called Sunday, which was enacted in 1677. So there have always been attempts on behalf of people in our society for different kinds of purposes to regulate what went on on Sunday.

Some of it was because it was rooted in religious tradition, what society, what those citizens, brought with them when they came to this country, but for others it was a labour issue. In fact, in some of the early legislation that came along, working people and their representative in trade unions supported the Sunday closing legislation, not because of their adherence to a particular Christian religion or other religion but because they simply wanted to be able to guarantee a common day of pause for those who worked. That wasn't always available, Mr. Speaker.

The purpose of Sunday closing legislation goes back a long, long way. You'll be interested to know that there was an 1897 Act called the Act to Prevent the Profanation of the Lord's Day. It was struck down in 1903 as unconstitutional by the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council. In that decision, the Privy Council declared that treated as a whole, the Act was a matter of criminal law.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask honourable members to take their conversations outside please.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition has the floor.

MR. DEXTER: In 1903, they struck down the 1897 legislation and they used as a reason for striking down the 1897 legislation the fact that the legislation was, in fact, criminal law and therefore was under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government. So, at that point in time they said, look, if you're going to regulate this on Sundays, it is the federal government who is going to do it. In fact, the federal government did do it. The federal government decided that they would bring in an Act called the Lord's Day Act, which they

[Page 557]

did in 1906, the Lord's Day Act was set up in order to fill what they considered was the void that had been created by the constitutional decision of the Privy Council.

The interesting thing about the 1906 Lord's Day Act was, of course, the federal government wanted a way to try to get off the hook as well, because they didn't really want to be wading into this area of jurisdiction because they knew that there was a conflict. I know the Minister of Justice thinks of it as a conundrum, that there are those people who passionately want Sunday shopping and those people who are passionately against it. I can only hark back to the piece of film footage that I saw after Moncton had gone through their process. They had opened the doors and there was a reporter who was talking to people who were going into the mall and he was saying to people as they were going to the mall, are you in favour or are you against Sunday shopping, and about half the people who stopped said, I am dead set against Sunday shopping. But he said, you're on your way into the mall. They said, sure, if it's available, I am going to take advantage of it. Even though these people were very much against it. So there is that kind of conundrum that exists out there that people understand that they are against something but if it is there, if it is available, they're going to take advantage of it.

So, in this country, the federal government waded in in 1906, they put in place the Lord's Day Act and, as I say, they wanted to get off the hook too. What they did was build in a bunch of exemptions where they said that anything that was absolutely necessary for the functioning of their society - and these are not the technical words but this is the gist of it - anything that is absolutely necessary can go ahead and operate on Sunday.

They also put in place what were known as opt-out clauses. They said that the provincial governments could legislate further in the business of the Lord's Day Act for services that might be particular to those provinces that they feel ought to fall under that rubric and therefore opt out of the Sunday closing legislation, or the Lord's Day legislation as it was then, and many provinces did. They waded in to exempt further kinds of businesses.

Well, all of this came crashing down when the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came along because the Charter of Rights and Freedoms went back and had another look at the federal Lord's Day Act. As you people likely remember, the Charter of Rights and Freedoms came into our law in 1982 following the unilateral patriation of the Constitution by then Pierre Elliott Trudeau. The Supreme Court started to look at Sunday closing legislation in the context of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and round about 1985, I think it was, the federal Lord's Day Act was actually struck down.

That did not prevent, then, the provinces from moving in for a secular reason to start regulating what was going on on Sundays, and that's what they did. I think Ontario was the first jurisdiction to bring in what was called a Uniform Retail Closing Act and although it was attacked by people using the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it was generally upheld. The way that that happened was the Ontario Act was a clever piece of legislation in that it carried

[Page 558]

with it something called the Sabbatarian exemption. So they put this little clause in that said, we are going to prove that this is not just based on our religious history, that it's not discriminatory in that way because anybody who closes in the 36 hours or 48 hours before Sunday, can open on Sunday.

So in other words, if you had a religious day of worship that happened on a Saturday or a Friday, you could close on that day and then you would be able to open on Sunday. So the legislation was saved from being struck down by the Supreme Court, by what was known as the Sabbatarian exemption. We don't have that in our current legislation and there have been court cases since that time that have struck down legislation that is very close to the present Act in this province.

I asked at one point in time for the government to send us over a copy of the legal opinion that they had. I was supplied with that. I must say though, Mr. Speaker, I was - I'm not sure how to put this politely - less than impressed with the thoroughness of the legal opinion. It didn't seem to show a lot of thought or a lot of research that had gone into it. It didn't address some of the latest - at least the one I had, maybe the Minister of Justice has a different legal opinion than I had. Mine contained about three paragraphs on a single 8�" x 11" piece of paper. So it didn't deal with a lot of the cases that had been heard by the Supreme Court later on. Nonetheless, those in fact, had struck down, I believe, legislation in British Columbia, for example, that was very close to the legislation we have.

[5:15 p.m.]

So the problem is if you bring in a piece of legislation that doesn't, for example, have the Sabbatarian exemption that saved the Ontario legislation, and you try to control or contain the hours for which you can be open on a Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., don't you just risk having it struck down anyway and having just wide open Sunday shopping on a Sunday anyway because the legislation is still going to be capable of being challenged? This is not wild speculation. Will somebody come along now afterwards and challenge the legislation? The legislation is already being challenged; there's a case before the courts. It's the Sydney Hardware case. I think it was set over in June for a plea. There was a not guilty plea entered and it has been set down for trial. It's going to go to trial on January 4th of next year, so just after this trial period is over, but well before the plebiscite that's going to be held in the following October. So it might be that a judge looking at this legislation in the context of the Sydney Hardware case might just strike down the legislation anyway - and I'm not sure where that leaves your plebiscite because the legislation would be gone.

This is the problem that this legislation faces and it's not that people aren't asking can you find a reasonable alternative, what happens now, but it's based on a lot of misinformation. For example, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and the Liberal Party were promoting the idea that somehow there was going to be a tremendous increase in retail if you open on Sundays. There's no economic model that actually demonstrates that and when you

[Page 559]

ask them where did you get your facts and figures from, they say what we did was we just took the retail numbers from six days, we divided it in six and we added another day - if that's the sum total of your economic model, you're in big trouble because that is just fantasy and that's not going to cut it.

What you have to do is actually look at what has happened in other provinces that have brought in Sunday shopping. Let's look at New Brunswick. We've all seen the newspaper coverage that says that they go to a mall in Moncton, and they look at how many Nova Scotian licence plates are in the mall in Moncton, and if this is their idea of scientific research, Mr. Speaker, it is sorely lacking, because I can tell you something. I want you to go to MicMac Mall someday and go through their parking lot and find out how many New Brunswick licence plates there are, because I can tell you there are all kinds of them because MicMac Mall is a regional mall, and people come from all over the place to shop in MicMac Mall in Dartmouth. So they go there not because it's open on Sunday, because it's not, but because of the selection and the service of the business people who are there.

So where do you go? Well, you go to Statistics Canada. Go to Statistics Canada and look at whether or not the volume of retail sales in Moncton, or in New Brunswick for that matter, increased after Sunday shopping was brought in - and guess what? It didn't. Not only did it not, it lagged behind the increase in retail sales in the Province of Nova Scotia - considerably behind. So the idea that there's going to be some kind of an economic boon as a result of Sunday shopping is just, I mean the evidence is very, very thin. I won't say there's no evidence because, you know, it's possible that there's evidence out there that we just haven't seen, but I would say at this point the evidence that has been presented on this matter is extremely, extremely thin.

We're being asked, and when I pushed people on this and said really, you know, there is really no economic argument, is there? People that we met with in that industry said yeah, you're right, there really is no real economic argument; it's an argument of personal choice. Well, that I can deal with; I understand that. I understand that some people for whatever reason would decide that they want to, as a matter of personal choice, be able to shop on Sunday and I'm okay with that, but don't dress it up as if it's an economic argument because, so far as I know, it just doesn't exist. So there are substantial difficulties that we foresee in this legislation.

Let's look at - and the minister I think rightfully said, because this is seven-day-a-week work legislation, that the focus has to be how do you go about protecting those people who are going to be called upon on those Sundays to work, and those people who by virtue of their choice decide they don't want to be open on Sundays, because there are lots of those, too.

[Page 560]

Many of the mall agreements contain, within their leases, contractual agreements that are made between the lessee and the lessor that say that if the mall is open, those who operate businesses in the mall have to be open. Many have those kinds of agreements. A friend of mine, my son plays on the baseball team with his son, operates a little tailor shop in MicMac Mall. He works hard, he works long hours, and Sunday is the one day that he's off with his family. He said, for God's sake, please make sure that I at least get exempted from the lease agreements and this legislation does that. I know that prior to this legislation coming forward, we had an opportunity to give our input on this matter. I must say that in this regard at least, I am pleased to see that the concerns of those people were taken into account in the drafting of this legislation.

The second part is, how do you prevent people who don't want to work on Sundays from not having to work on Sundays? Well, this legislation also attempts to do that, but I think I've already pointed out and illustrated how hard that is going to be, with my recollection of the position taken by one of the retailers in my home district of Cole Harbour. I think, because you so fundamentally change the workplace, it is virtually impossible to prevent people from having to work on Sundays. I think that's the unfortunate truth of the matter. We're working hard and I think the minister is willing to listen to try to find ways to prevent people from having to work on Sundays. I have to say that, inevitably, people will be called upon to give up that time.

How do you go about improving the legislation? I think the only way you can improve the lot of those people who work on Sundays is if you improve the lot of all workers who have to work throughout the week. You need to look at labour standards legislation generally. You need to look at the hours of work. Many employers, nowadays, are talking about 32-hour or 34-hour work weeks for their employees as being full time. If they're paid sufficiently well, I'm sure the working people are very happy with that. But at the very least, the 40-hour work week has been recognized as the standard work week in this province and in this country, I would say, since the 1950s, at the very least.

Yet our labour standards legislation calls upon people to work for 48 hours before they can see any overtime. Then, under our labour standards legislation - Mr. Speaker, do you know what you're entitled to receive for overtime? You're entitled to receive time and a half, but are you entitled to receive time and a half of your regular wage? No. You're entitled to receive time and a half of minimum wage. That's what you're entitled to receive.

So let's suppose that you were working in a retail establishment and you were making $9 an hour. You work for 48 hours currently, under the labour standards legislation, for which you make $9 an hour. Then on your 49th hour, you're entitled to make time and a half. Lucky you, you get $9 an hour, the same thing you got when you worked 48 hours because that's time and a half of minimum wage. You get no benefit whatsoever. I think we have to have a look at how we go about altering those kinds of rules in order to make those people who may be called upon to work on Sunday a little better off, but also all working people better off.

[Page 561]

What about those people who need compassionate leave? Let's say I have a sick child or a sick parent or I need to travel in order to look after someone, am I allowed time off under the Labour Standards Act as it now exists? Well, the answer to that, Mr. Speaker, is no. There is no provision for compassionate leave. I have to depend on the generosity of my employer. Now, there are many, many very generous employers who would recognize the fact that I would need time off and would give it to me. But there are those who would not and if I were to take three days or five days off, even if I agreed to take it without pay, I might well find myself without employment, because there is no provision under the Labour Standards legislation to provide me with that protection. The Labour Standards Code has been called the unions for those who have no unions. It provides a basic set of minimum standards that employers must live up to.

I think it is incumbent upon us, when we are looking at a piece of legislation like this to understand that the work that we do in this Legislature has a profound effect on the lives of the people in this province and in this case, the minimum standards legislation. Let's face it, when we are talking about minimum standards legislation, I see these workforce statistics every now and then and they talk about the number of people who are on minimum wage and they draw a very narrow definition where it is just those people who are exactly on minimum wage. But there are a lot of people out there who are making 25 cents or 50 cents or even a $1.00 more than minimum wage who aren't a heck of a lot better off, Mr. Speaker. So all of these people are affected by what goes into the Labour Standards Code, what goes into the minimum wage legislation.

I think it is incumbent upon us to make sure that we strengthen those parts of this legislation that deal with the working conditions of those people who are going to be most affected. I submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that those people are going to be the people who work in retail, those people who primarily work at the lower end of the income scale, and many times don't have the benefit of full-time hours. I remember a conversation that I had with the president of the Chamber of Commerce in Sydney and said, I understand from the news reports that your organization is in favour of Sunday shopping. He said, oh yes, we're firmly in favour of Sunday shopping. I said, all sectors? He said, well, every sector except the retail sector. The retail sector are completely opposed to it. I mean, I hope the irony is not lost on people. The only people, of course, who are completely opposed are the people who actually have to work on Sunday.

So, the question I guess for us is, where is it going to end? At some point in time, is the government going to decide, well, if the malls are open, is Access Nova Scotia going to be open on Sundays? What other government departments are going to open? Are we going to move fully to the seven day work week for almost everyone? I think that's the unfortunate ramification of it. I've said before that I don't believe that at this point there is a piece of legislation that can withstand the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that is presently in place in this province and that the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act as it was was going to eventually be struck down in any event.

[Page 562]

These are part of the challenges that we face as a Legislature, part of the challenges that we face as legislators. So my entreaty to the government is to do your best to protect those people who are going to end up on the jagged edge of this law, those who are going to have to work on those days. That's what we're here to do. We are here to make those amendments. We're here to work in this situation to ensure that there is a maximum amount of protection for those who need it. With those words, Mr. Speaker, I want to thank you for allowing me to speak on this very important bill.

[5:30 p.m.]

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on this piece of legislation. It is an important piece of legislation as the Leader of the Opposition has said and I would like to place it in a broader context than perhaps has been stated up to this point. Before I do, I think it's important that we recognize, as was mentioned earlier today, I believe, perhaps by the Leader of the Opposition, the quick and immediate commitment and sacrifice that was made by the workers this past Sunday, yesterday, in responding to the demands that were placed upon them by the people of Nova Scotia in the wake of Hurricane Juan. I think a debt of gratitude is owed to them in all the circumstances. I was interested to see the number of people who responded to the opportunity to have the choice to shop yesterday, on Sunday. I'm not sure whether other members had the opportunity to drive around and see what stores were open, but it certainly was impressive to see how many people were enjoying this day of shopping.

I'd like to first set this debate in a broader context. The broader context is simply, we can do better. This is a province to which we owe a great deal. Certainly my family can say this - this is a province with great traditions. The traditions go back many generations in my family, hundreds of years, in fact. I'm proud to speak of the past that we have in Nova Scotia, but I think it's also important for us to recognize that we can't just cling to the past, that we need to recognize that there are opportunities in the future.

What Nova Scotians are asking of us is that we build a modern, dynamic province. That we live up to our potential and in order for us to live up to our full potential, we need to recognize the significance of this as a symbol of whether or not we're standing still or whether we're moving forward.

If we think that the world has changed a great deal over the past five years, we only need to wait for the next five years to see how much it's going to change once again. The longer we stand still, the longer we stand fixated on the stuff of the past, the more difficult it is going to be for us to move forward, to embrace the opportunities that we have with new energy, with new ideas and to realize the full potential that our beautiful province has.

[Page 563]

The issue I want to talk about today is one of Sunday shopping, but it has broader implications with respect to the economy, and the role that the government plays with respect to that economy. It is not, as we have said on several occasions, the role of government to grow the economy. It is, instead, the responsibility of government to create a positive environment in which the economy will grow.

We can create fair, competitive and affordable tax structures. We can do it both personally and corporately. Government must create, for example, a streamlined regulatory process. They need to reduce red tape, but we remain mired on several fronts. Sunday shopping is one of those fronts, Mr. Speaker. It's an issue that continues to cause debate amongst Nova Scotians. It's a sensitive issue, understood. It will continue to be an issue of some sensitivity, not just for the members of this House but certainly for Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other.

Time moves on. We are the only province in North America without some form of Sunday shopping. This isn't just a matter about convenience, this is a matter of choice. Fundamentally, Sunday shopping is a symbol of a larger debate over whether or not we are ready to create a modern Nova Scotia, whether or not we are prepared to provide the leadership, the stewardship that is necessary to build a modern dynamic province in Nova Scotia. This province is changing, it has been changing for decades and it will continue to change. Our economy and our society needs to change with it. We are evolving and the provincial government needs to move with it, but on this subject it clearly lags behind like so many other. This continues to be a matter for which the government looks in the past and not into the future.

Sunday shopping should be a question of choice - for individuals, not government. Despite the growing consensus resulting from years of constructive debate in this province, Nova Scotians are forced to wait while the government dithers over making a decision with half-steps. Now, in this legislation, we again find a half-step. That is why we believe that Sunday shopping, properly structured to protect workers and families, will be good for Nova Scotians and it will be something that the Liberal Party continues to support in this province.

Merchants in Amherst and Springhill, Mr. Speaker, your home constituency, your hometown, would love to watch their cash registers ring instead of those in places like Moncton and elsewhere every Sunday. The thousands of tourists who visit Nova Scotia every year, a $1 billion-plus industry, certainly would benefit from Sunday shopping. They are bemused and befuddled by our antiquated shopping laws. In fact, according to the Tourism Association, cruise lines and bus tours are now avoiding the province on Sundays. For busy families Sunday would offer a welcome opportunity, as it did yesterday, to get groceries, to buy school supplies and take care of an array of other family duties.

[Page 564]

Today every province in Canada has some form of Sunday shopping except Nova Scotia. We aren't keeping pace. Stripping the emotion out of this argument, this is ultimately about the proper role of government in our economy. The Leader of the Opposition spoke about the figures from TIANS but did not, however, provide his own figures about what kind of an impact this would make. Certainly TIANS has been out there - Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia - saying that this would in fact create, if Sunday shopping were available, $24 million more in spending by tourists and approximately 300 more full-time jobs.

While the overall economic benefit of Sunday shopping is undeniable, it's important to remember that any approach to Sunday shopping reflects the shared values we have as Nova Scotians. We recognize how important it is for families to spend their time together on Sundays so we applaud the protections that have been put in place by the government with respect, first of all, to ensuring that people are not forced to work on Sundays. Obviously, this is a step in the right direction, but it doesn't go far enough.

One of the concerns that I've already raised publicly, and we will be raising more with respect to the Labour Standards Code, is that there should be an opportunity for 36 consecutive hours of rest for every seven-day period for Nova Scotians. Presently the legislation under the Labour Standards Code provides for 24 consecutive hours of rest. We see this as inadequate in providing the appropriate level of protection for Nova Scotians. What it means potentially is that somebody who finishes work on Saturday at 8:00 o'clock may be forced to come back to work at 8:00 o'clock on a Sunday, for example. What is obviously more balanced and more reasonable is for somebody who finishes work at 8:00 p.m. on a Saturday be able to wait until 8:00 a.m. Monday before they're required to return to work.

Sunday shopping also eliminates discrimination from one business to another. Why should the people in the retail sector be discriminated against while in Nova Scotia, as it has often been said, you might be able to lose your shirt on a Sunday, but you couldn't go to a store and buy one. I applaud the government for its efforts with respect to shopping centre leases and overriding the provisions in virtually all leases that store operators need to be open. This also is a step in the right direction, but baby steps are not required.

I won't go through the litany of changes in position that this government has pronounced over the last several years. It has been a zig-zaggy road to the one that we find ourselves in today. Clearly there has only been one Party that has provided leadership on this issue and it has been the Liberal Party.

I find it curious, Mr. Speaker, that I stand here speaking on the second piece of legislation, the first one was the insurance one, the second is the Sunday shopping one, and proudly able to say that it has only been the Liberal Party that is able to say that the position we took in the first place is the position that we stand by to this day and that's the kind of leadership that Nova Scotians are looking for. In late May we came forward with our position

[Page 565]

with respect to insurance and it has not changed. It is the one that works and, it's interesting, it's the one that so many others are beginning to gravitate to. With respect to Sunday shopping, isn't it interesting to note with respect to Sunday shopping that the other Parties, a year and a half after our Party came forward with its position, are finally starting to recognize the wisdom of what we put forward although it's unclear to me what the New Democratic Party's position is after the remarks of the Leader of the Opposition.

It appears to be as unclear as ever, it is the "it's inevitable" position which, to this day, seems to confuse Nova Scotians. What we want from the New Democrats is a clear statement of whether or not they are indeed in favour of Sunday shopping because I can say unequivocally that the Liberal Party is in favour of choice for people. It's about moving forward. I think it's interesting to note, however, when given an opportunity during an election campaign, under item six, under the TIANS headline, when the New Democrats were asked whether or not they were in favour of opening for business, their response was, they will introduce, in the first session of the newly-elected Legislature, amendments to legislation to protect the workers' right to refuse to work on Sundays and the small retailers' right to refuse to open on Sunday. Once this legislated protection is in place, the NDP will introduce the required legislation to permit Sunday retail openings.

Mr. Speaker, it is not clear whether or not the NDP is being dragged into this debate or whether they are coming willingly and providing the level of leadership that is required. What we need on this matter is leadership. What Nova Scotians have been looking for is not a default position, they are looking for us to move forward. With respect to the plebiscite issue, I would also remind the House of the position taken by the New Democrats in answer to the UNSM question, would your government force municipalities to hold a plebiscite on Sunday shopping in conjunction with the 2004 municipal election? It was a one-word answer, and they said no.

We look forward to the New Democrats opposing the plebiscite, as they said they would, and, in fact, bringing forward constructive alternatives for Nova Scotians, so that we can finally, once and for all, get on with this matter. This is an issue of leadership. It's an area where we have not backed down from the responsibility that goes with leadership. The people of this province expect government to play a lead role in shaping the direction of our province, both economically and socially. If government is to provide the kind of leadership that we're looking for, we will have the results that we deserve. We can't afford to wait.

The provincial government should be initiating changes and taking the steps immediately. As I said at the outset, this isn't just a matter of convenience, it's a matter of the proper role of government. We say, with respect to Sunday shopping, once and for all, this can be done, this should be done, and this will be done. (Applause)

[Page 566]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, it gives me great pleasure to have an opportunity to stand and speak for a time on Bill No. 2, regarding Sunday shopping. This is a matter that I have given a fair amount of attention to. It is true, over the last few years, I have changed my views with respect to Sunday shopping. There was a time, probably four or five years ago, when I was dead set against the idea of Sunday shopping. I often take a dim view of those things commercial that intrude into all aspects of life that make other things in our lives less important, so that everything is reduced to a commercial transaction, the buying and selling of goods and services, and the increasing marginalization of things that we value in our society that you can't put a price tag on.

I have often seen the issue of Sunday shopping in that regard. Back in the early 1990s, Mr. Speaker, I lived outside of Canada, I lived in the United Kingdom for a period of time, where they had adopted Sunday shopping legislation on a fairly modest scale in the community that I lived in, in the United Kingdom. I lived near the rather large City - I guess you would say - of Coventry. The city centre, on Sunday, was closed, which tended to be the main commercial district, but quite close to the university, where I was, there was a small shopping centre, and it was open. It would open Sunday around 11:00 o'clock in the morning until about 5:00 o'clock in the afternoon, and generally there would be a fairly steady stream of students, mostly because that was the community that was being served by this particular centre. These were very early days for Sunday shopping in the U.K. Three or four years after I was first in the U.K. I returned for a two week period and during that time I was quite surprised to see the extent to which Sunday shopping had expanded in the U.K. and the fact that now, there is pretty well all day shopping on Sunday. The kind of controversy or the reluctance that existed in that country at that time, when I was first there, had seemed to disappear.

[5:45 p.m.]

I have in the past few years come to take a different view on Sunday shopping, probably as much because I am now working in a situation where I work many Saturdays. Quite often Sunday is the only day I have to do those kinds of housekeeping chores to keep my household going and to enable me to come back here to do the job that I do. So, I recognize this issue from the vantage point of the consumer and the person in the household who has to keep that household going and who has the responsibility of figuring out how to schedule and organize their time. Certainly, having access to supermarkets and retail establishments and what have you on Sundays make life easier. I say to my colleagues, I would be a bit of a hypocrite I guess if I opposed Sunday shopping given that on Sundays you can often find me perhaps at Pete's doing my grocery shopping or at the Omni store, or what was the Omni store, in the North End of Halifax doing my grocery shopping because that's the only time often I have to do it.

[Page 567]

At the same time, I think a lot of young people - and not only young people - have certainly discovered the Internet as a means for shopping. I know we all probably read letters to the editor and there was a letter quite recently to the editor that talked about somebody who had given up on shopping locally and was doing all of their shopping on the Internet largely because they want to have access to shopping freely at will whenever they require it.

Sometimes, Mr. Speaker, I wonder what the economics of Sunday shopping actually are. Here, in the metro area, shops are open until 9:00 or 9:30 at night in the shopping malls for example. You can go out to the shopping centre on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, even Friday nights and you can find the shops in many of our retail establishments empty. The personnel in the stores, when you ask them if you have happened to come in on a particularly quiet night, they will say, no, it is like this every night. So, I can remember when there was a debate and some controversy around expanding the retail shopping hours into the evenings in the stores throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality. I don't know but my suspicion is that spreading the hours out has resulted not in greater business being done and more transactions occurring for the retailer but, in fact, I think the hours that people work have been stretched and the scheduling of those hours has not been as accommodating as they have been in the past.

So when I think about this issue and certainly when members of our caucus think about this issue, we think about what are the implications of this legislation for the economy, for businesses in this sector, particularly the smaller businesses, not the big box stores that have the financial margins to weather the kinds of shifts in the economic situation, but the small retailer tends to be the business person who is most vulnerable to any shifts. Sometimes they aren't able to survive that transition period.

Certainly going to Sunday shopping, extended hours on Sundays, is going to represent a shift and some transition and what that will mean for smaller retailers, I don't know if anybody has actually done a study of this, but I would be really interested in knowing more about that. Perhaps when some of those associations and groups that represent the small business sector come before us at the Law Amendments Committee, as I suspect they will, perhaps they will bring that kind of information with them to help a layperson like myself understand what the economic implications are of extending the hours and for whom these extended hours have implications. I would imagine not everybody will be impacted equally.

I worry about the working person in this sector and what extending hours into a day that has been traditionally one of their days off that is fixed and they can count on, what that change will imply for those people. As far as I know, based on research that has been done, the vast majority of people who work in the retail sector are women. I think it is the sector that is female-dominated. It's probably a sector where in excess of 80 per cent of the workforce are female. As we know, many women who work in the retail sector are people who have other responsibilities in their households. Quite often, they are mothers . . .

[Page 568]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction?

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Certainly.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

MR. JOHN CHATAWAY: I very much appreciate this opportunity. In the east gallery are two wonderful - no, one is a resident of Chester-St. Margaret's and basically the president of the association. I would like to introduce Dr. Joanne Jellett and Hywel Morgan who are involved with Jellett Rapid Testing and that is an international company living and doing wonderfully well in Chester-St. Margaret's. I think we're all very proud of them. (Applause) Yes, indeed, an international company being very, very proud of doing international business as in many parts of Nova Scotia. Thank you very much for the opportunity, thank you for coming.

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today. We hope you enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham, thank you and you have the floor.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Not at all, Mr. Speaker, and I would like to also extend a welcome to our guests in the gallery.

As I was saying, I wonder what the implications of Sunday shopping will be for the people who will be required to work. I was making note of the fact that the majority of people who work in retail sales are women. It's a segment of our labour market that is female dominated. Probably in excess of 80 per cent of the workforce in the retail sector are women and many of these women will have other responsibilities besides their work in the labour market. They will quite often be women with children - many of them young children - and, as we know, there are no licensed daycares in this province that provide child care services on Sundays. This is a concern. This is going to be a matter of great inconvenience for many of these workers. It's an issue that I would very much like to know what the government, in fact, has in mind when it looks at extending retail business.

I was saying to the Leader of the Official Opposition, as I listened to the Leader of the Third Party, as I said, I had changed my mind, I moved away from being opposed to Sunday shopping, where I was probably five, six years ago, to thinking it was a really good idea, because I do it myself and I need to shop quite often on Sundays. But as I listened to the Leader of the Third Party, he practically convinced me that maybe I shouldn't be in support of Sunday shopping, because many of the reasons that he laid out in terms of consumer choice and in terms of this is going to put us on the cutting edge of a more prosperous society, then I think that those arguments don't hold any water whatsoever.

[Page 569]

Mr. Speaker, retail sales is frankly, in terms of the overall economic performance of your society - the former Economic Council of Canada, before the Tory Government disbanded the Economic Council of Canada, did a very large study that came out called, Good Jobs, Bad Jobs. What they pointed to was that the jobs that they called bad jobs, sadly, were in the retail sector. They called them bad jobs because they were low wage, there were no benefits, there was no training, they were insecure jobs, and very often they had no career path, people had no ability to improve on their skills and their economic circumstances by going into the retail sector. They tended to be dead-end jobs, where people made minimum wage or slightly above minimum wage.

Now, unless the Leader of the Third Party knows something about that sector that the Economic Council of Canada didn't know when they did that report, then I suspect this is not the sector on which this province is going to reach prosperity, Mr. Speaker. I think that is a fallacious argument, it's an argument that is completely unsupported by anybody who knows anything about labour market policy and economic policy in this country. This isn't where you want to focus, this isn't the way that you build a strong economy, by building more and more "McJobs" frankly. I think it's really important, that that point needs to be put into this debate.

Nevertheless, Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that Sunday shopping is a development, it is a pattern that is occurring throughout western industrial democracies. It is driven by a much more consumer-oriented society, a more competitive consumer-oriented society, although I somewhat question at times this idea of competitiveness as well. When we see WalMarts moving into every town and city in our province and the impact of that, which is the largest multinational corporation on the face of this Earth, coming into an area like Truro or an area like Port Hawkesbury, and what those large box stores do, and a store like WalMart does, and it's well-documented, what they do is they suck the dollars out of the local economy and they transport them into the shareholders outside of this country, and they leave the small retailer in this province and wherever they locate at a distinct disadvantage.

Let's not kid ourselves about who has driven the whole debate on Sunday shopping in this province. Quite often it is the large box stores. It is the big multinationals. It is the interests that are not the interests of the local business person. They are not the interests of the local economy and, you know, you have to ask yourself how in the world is it possible for anybody to turn this tide back and turn it around.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I think we have to be honest here and we have to put that out as part of the debate. I'm hoping that when the public have an opportunity to come and comment on Sunday shopping and the Sunday shopping legislation, that actually we will hear from some people perhaps who have some expertise with respect to the larger interests that have driven this issue and this agenda.

[Page 570]

Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Third Party also made some comments about whether or not the members of the NDP, the NDP caucus, knew what our position was on Sunday shopping and it's true, you know, we just had an election. We ran on a seven-point platform of commitments that we were offering to Nova Scotians and Sunday shopping wasn't on that list. It wasn't on that list for a reason. It wasn't on that list because Sunday shopping is not a priority for the NDP caucus.

I want to tell you a little story. I knocked on a door and a young woman answered the door. I introduced myself. This was during the election. Her husband, her boyfriend was there and he said what are you going to do about Sunday shopping? I said to him, well, you know, this is our platform and these are the things that we're running on. He said I don't care about any of those things, I'm only interested in Sunday shopping. I said to him, well, you know, frankly, Sunday shopping isn't one of our priorities, we're interested in seeing that health care costs for seniors who have to go into a nursing home are covered. So if I have a choice between getting to deal with Sunday shopping or the health care needs of seniors, then I'm going to deal with the health care needs of seniors. That's my priority. That's my Party's priority. That continues to be the case, you know, we are interested in a variety of other things.

Now having said that, Mr. Speaker, we recognize and I recognize that Sunday shopping is on the government's agenda. It is something that the government feels is important. It is a commitment they made and the government won more seats than we did so they get to decide on what the legislative agenda will be in this House. It's our job here in the Opposition to try to improve legislation that the government brings forward. It's our job here in the Legislature also to represent our constituents and also to point out, you know, get all of the information out, all of the different viewpoints out, and try to see if you can arrive at something that's as workable as possible for a great number of people.

Given that as the reality, Mr. Speaker, we focus very much on the workers who are going to be impacted by Sunday shopping and, as I said, there are specific questions we would have around what is the impact, what is the implication of Sunday shopping on working people, and I have raised the issue of child care.

The Leader of my Party had an opportunity to speak to the issue of legislation as it pertains to the constitution and the constitutionality, I guess, of legislation. He's a lawyer, I'm not, I'm not going to speak to this particular issue although I understand that it's a matter that certainly the government and the government's lawyers will be looking at or probably have looked at.

There are many practical issues that we have to look at. I think one of the issues we have to look at is, how do you ensure that workers who will have to work on Sunday as a result of this legislation get adequate time off for their family and that they aren't sucked into a vortex of worsening labour conditions? As I said earlier, the Economic Council of Canada, when it did its large study on this sector, pointed out that it is the retail sector that tends to

[Page 571]

have the most insecurity and the lowest wages, the fewest benefits and in many cases the lack of due process for workers if they're in situations that are not favourable.

So I guess what we could do is, we could introduce Sunday shopping legislation but we could also strengthen our labour standards legislation to provide more protections and better protections for workers who are left in a situation where they're vulnerable as a result of a more competitive and a more consumerist society, which is the reality I think, that we do have certainly a more consumerist society.

There are probably many other aspects of this bill that could be discussed but I think at this time I have addressed some of the concerns that I have. I think that as the process unfolds - and we will see probably many groups and organizations come before the Law Amendments Committee to talk to us about their views and how this legislation will impact their particular segment of the labour market - we'll probably also have more specific information on various aspects of the bill and how it would affect different groups. Hopefully, we will be assisted in that process with ways that we could improve the legislation and I know the Government House Leader is probably open to seeing this legislation improved in the best way that we can do for Nova Scotians. So with that I'll take my seat. Thank you.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House to give the position that our caucus has taken on Sunday shopping. The Liberal caucus has taken a clear position on providing Nova Scotians with shopping each day of the week as well as providing retailers with the choice to open their shops every day. This position has been maintained consistently by our caucus. I campaigned with this in mind and met very, very little opposition during that campaign. Shops should be permitted to be open after noon on Sunday and yet retailers should not be forced to open on Sunday. It should be a business decision, they should be allowed their decision to open or not and I always felt this is not a government decision, but it should be a business decision.

In today's society where it requires two people to work I see no reason why shops can't open on Sunday. The Honourable Jamie Muir, our Speaker, Honourable Murray Scott and the Honourable Ernie Fage, I understand, were three of the members of the government who campaigned with Sunday shopping in mind. Workers will be protected against working seven days straight. That's present workers and new workers.

I also see this as a good opportunity for students to receive employment on the weekend or on a Sunday - it's a chance for them to make some hard-earned, needed dollars. No one will be forced to work on Sunday, legislation will prevent that.

Religious beliefs must be respected. What about those people that Sunday is not their day of worship?

[Page 572]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes indicated that during the last election campaign, I went around touting Sunday shopping. That certainly was not the case. My constituents, I think everybody knows, like everybody else's, are very mixed on this thing. I did articulate the position that our caucus had taken, but as to going around promoting Sunday shopping, I know there are members of our caucus who have a different opinion. I just wanted to clarify that for the honourable member. He may have me confused with somebody else.

MR. SPEAKER: That was not a point of order, but a difference in opinion and we'll resume debate with the member for Victoria-The Lakes. I will remind the member, when he's referring to members, to refer to their constituencies, please.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I respect the honourable member's explanation for that and I accept it.

I was saying that the religious beliefs are to be respected also. As I said, what about those people that Sunday is not their day of worship? That's why I repeat that religious beliefs will and should be respected.

The Hotel Association of Nova Scotia is in favour of Sunday shopping. Polls show that the majority of Nova Scotians want it. I myself have visited the Sunnyside Mall in Bedford on numerous occasions and found it to be basically packed with Sunday shoppers. The Nova Scotia tourism industry expects that it loses $24 million by not having businesses open on Sunday. That is a great loss to the province.

Tourists on cruise ships that dock in Halifax and Sydney on Sunday, they find that the shops are closed - why is that when in every other port of call they're open. The Metro Halifax Chamber of Commerce has also added a voice in calling for stores to be open on Sunday - another large organization with a lot of smart business people.

Nova Scotia businesses are losing money to neighbouring provinces. It's disparaging for businesses to see that their living is driving by their door on a Sunday because their shops are closed and here's people spending dollars in another province.

Sunday shopping should be a question of choice for individuals, not for government. I stand here to be corrected, but I must repeat certain portions of my presentation to emphasize the fact. The present government admitted that during polls, Nova Scotians want this choice. Let businesses decide if they should be open on Sunday or not. The marketplace will determine who opens and who doesn't. If a business opens and makes money, they'll probably stay open - if they don't, they won't. Simple as that.

[Page 573]

[6:15 p.m.]

We not reinventing the wheel here. The Liberal caucus was the first to side with the majority of Nova Scotians who want stores open on Sunday. As I said, we campaigned on this - I did myself - and received very little opposition. The protection of employees who don't want to work on Sundays will be secure, absolutely. We will guarantee this in legislation when the bill finds its way to the Law Amendments Committee.

The Liberal caucus believes in ensuring that workers have adequate time off to spend with their families, and why shouldn't they. We are the only jurisdiction in all of North America not to have Sunday shopping in some form or other. Can't we even keep up with the North American continent, even if we are last?

Mr. Speaker, the government has flip-flopped on the issue, stating that they wouldn't revisit this issue until 2005. It took an election period for the Conservative Party to suggest that they would review it, finally bring in a six-week trial period at the end of this year, prior to Christmas, and then holding a plebiscite in the Fall of 2004, this coinciding with the municipal elections. I will add some thoughts on that before the end of my presentation.

This is a $21 million question for our economy, as well as a question for 300 full-time jobs in Nova Scotia. Workers in retail will need to be protected, as well as protected with appropriate regulation advantages, like I said. People have a choice - shop on Sunday or not. It could be advantageous for busy families, shift workers. Myself, I know there are times that it would be convenient. I would rather have the convenience of shopping in Nova Scotia on a Sunday than to see our business going across the border into New Brunswick.

It's part of Nova Scotia's progression without forsaking the quality of life in the province. TIANS, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, as I said, estimates 300 jobs, $26 million in revenue. That would be generated if we move ahead, as we should. This creates an equal playing field for places like Amherst versus other provinces. Positive economic results will result for the economy. People will have an option. It's the choice of the general public and visitors using business facilities, to shop when they want, where they want, seven days a week, Mr. Speaker.

The government has declared its intent to allow for Sunday shopping between 1:00 o'clock and 6:00 o'clock on November 16th through December 21st. We, Mr. Speaker, propose an amendment to strike Clause 1, Section 3A (1)(a) and (b), which would permit the Act to allow Sunday shopping year-round, without legislating restrictions on Sunday shopping to the six weeks before Christmas or as determined by a plebiscite.

The Liberal caucus wants to strike a plebiscite altogether, allowing the Governor in Council to make regulations with respect to Sunday shopping outright. The government is elected to make decisions, Mr. Speaker, at least some decisions, rather than continuing to

[Page 574]

download everything to municipalities, for example, the smoking issue. When I was in municipal politics, we made a decision, we banned smoking outright, 100 per cent, and stayed with it; other municipalities eventually following suit.

Mr. Speaker, this Act currently discriminates against certain businesses, as it permits restaurants, markets, movie theatres to open on Sunday, while at the same time, disallowing certain businesses to open. The Act also violates religious freedom by not allowing certain religious groups to open on Sunday, a day which may not be necessarily the group's Sabbath day. In a free enterprise system the business owner/operator should have the ability to set his or her hours of operation. The government should not have the right to set the hours for some businesses and allow loopholes to make it necessary that other business can open.

Mr. Speaker, the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities President Don Zwicker stated that municipal leaders are opposed to holding a plebiscite on this question as part of the municipal elections. Regulating Sunday shopping is a provincial responsibility and does not belong on the municipal agenda. I, for one, after having spent 12 years in municipal politics, know exactly what's going to happen in the Fall of 2004. Every municipal councillor, every candidate going door to door is going to be asked, what's your view on Sunday shopping? They can win or lose their election on their answer when it really isn't their business to be involved in that. It's the provincial government's decision to make that for them. We always seem to be deferring something to somebody else, downloading, we've heard for years. Now we're downloading the decision. Have the plebiscite during the municipal elections. We will let the people decide, see what comes out of that, and then we will make a decision. I disagree with that. Let's make the decision here and now - show some accountability, show our credibility.

Mr. Speaker, there used to be legislation forbidding fishers to fish on Sunday. It had to be done away with. If fishers couldn't fish on Saturday because of bad weather, they needed to go on Sunday. It was felt it had to be changed and it was. Most fishers still don't fish on Sunday. A close friend of mine, Councillor Robert MacLellan from Bay St. Lawrence, my dearest and closest friend, fished for crabs on Sunday. Probably within the last month and a half, the first and only time in five years he fished on a Sunday out of sheer necessity because there were 10 straight days of bad weather. He set the traps and you couldn't get your boat away from the dock for 10 full days after that. He was forced to fish on Sunday to just set the gear and get it straight so that he could go out again on Monday and fish and that was his first and only time and he has yet to go back out on Sunday again. But what it does, Mr. Speaker, by removing the option of not allowing them to fish on Sunday, they have that option. If it's necessary, they can without going out and breaking the law.

Mr. Speaker, let's talk about working on Sunday. When I worked with Marine Atlantic back in the 1960s, and this hasn't changed, Marine Atlantic ferries sailed every day with a full crew, Sundays included. Our former, and I emphasize our former, steel plant and coal miners worked on Sundays. Fish plants in my riding worked on Sunday. Hospitals work and are open

[Page 575]

on Sunday. Corner stores are open on Sunday. Drug stores are open on Sunday. The list goes on and on and on. I hate repetition, but it's true. The world works on Sundays so why not Nova Scotia? Let me make it perfectly clear we, the Liberal Party, are first and foremost on the side of the protection of the workers. We will guarantee that in legislation - present and future workers - and if that's not upheld, this is where the Department of Labour will come into effect. We're on the side of the workers and we are absolutely on the side of Sunday shopping. We will ensure Sunday shopping as well as we will ensure protection for the workers and with that I want to thank you very much.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have a few moments to speak. I want to take a few minutes to talk about this bill, Bill No. 2. It must be something about the Chair with the words few minutes, I think. I want to talk about Sunday shopping because it is something that I think we all, as elected officials, heard on the doorstep. I must be honest, it wasn't the main issue. It wasn't the first issue on people's lips. It did come up, not as often as health care, and not as often as education in my riding, whether it was a new high school, or crumbling infrastructure in elementary schools in Cole Harbour, or lack of resource teachers.

Those things all came up a lot more than Sunday shopping, Mr. Speaker. I almost found sometimes that people would raise Sunday shopping - if they felt, you come to the door and knock on their door and you would say, I'm here to talk to you - do you have any concerns or questions you want to talk about? Most of the time when they had nothing else to think about, maybe this would come up and that wasn't that often, but it would come up and, you know, our Party always had a clear position. It is inevitable that Sunday shopping will happen in Nova Scotia. That's something we said during the election, something we said before the election and I can say it here on the record and I'm sure our Leader espoused a similar position when he spoke.

Mr. Speaker, it's inevitable that this will happen and I can look at some of the reasons why it is inevitable. There are already constitutional challenges in other provinces that resulted in certain legislation being defeated when it was an attempt to try to allow closing on Sundays, at least limited closing on Sundays.

You have in Nova Scotia Native reserves that are under federal jurisdiction, they don't come under provincial jurisdiction, that are attempting to open facilities on Sundays. I don't know if it is the member for Truro-Bible Hill's riding, the Power Centre, you know, that sort of thing, Mr. Speaker, but they obviously are moving towards that. You have the airport that has announced - in fact, there was a piece in the paper yesterday, fittingly on a Sunday, I guess, because they figure that's where their main audience is. You see these people who actually sit around the airport watching planes take off and land. I must admit, it's not something that I'm fascinated by, but there are people who actually watch planes take off and

[Page 576]

land. You see them over on the Goffs Road, that would be in the beautiful Musquodoboit Valley. They see the planes land and they see the planes take off and I think the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley knows what I mean. I believe Goffs Road to be his riding, but people sit out there.

I used to see it in Toronto, too, Mr. Speaker, you would see people who would be parked along Highway No. 427 and they would be watching the planes land and they are fascinated by it. I suppose in England they do train-spotting. In Canada, it must be plane-spotting because people sort of watch this. But, anyway, the point is that the Halifax International Airport, now that it's a privately run agency, is attempting to open up shops and stores and bars and coffee shops so people can come and watch the planes land and take off and they are going to try and make money off this, including Sundays. So they're going to open on Sundays because they know they have a loophole. Under federal jurisdiction, there is no rule against Sunday shopping. They can open and so they're going to do it as well.

So now we have Native reserves. We have the airport. I suppose the train station can do it as well, if they wanted to, I guess. They're under federal jurisdiction. On top of that, you have those that - and I'll get into more detail - have had lawyers with sharp pencils, I guess, and have analyzed the law and have decided that they can drive a truck through the current legislation and, as a result . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: A Pete's Frootique truck.

MR. DEVEAUX: Well, if you ever wanted to go down to Bedford to the corner of the Bedford Highway and Dartmouth Road on any given Sunday, it's packed. It's hard to find a parking spot and, as a result, you end up having a real problem. But that's because there are a lot of people in this province that want Sunday shopping. There is no doubt about that. I think the polls show that.

The question is, Mr. Speaker, and I think what our Party has always said is, it is going to be inevitable, but are we going to open this up? I heard the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes say people want to shop each day, every day. Well, if you want to shop every day, you have to work every day. I know the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes, I'll give him credit, he pointed out the steel plant had to work on Sundays when it was open. The coal mines were open and they had to open on Sundays. Marine Atlantic operated on Sundays. Hospitals are open on Sundays. Fire stations are open on Sundays. They all have union contracts. They have collective agreements. They don't work seven days a week, obviously, except in very extreme circumstances like over the last little while. But, generally speaking they get time off in lieu of working on Sunday. Some even get time and a half, probably, for having to work a Sunday, in certain circumstances, double time, triple time on certain days, on holidays.

[Page 577]

So the point is that they have the opportunity to take a day off in lieu of Sunday, if they have to work on Sunday. They don't work every Sunday. They work some Sundays; they don't work other Sundays. But the collective agreement and democratization in the workplace, Mr. Speaker, has resulted in them having rights and if the business has to be open on a Sunday, they have alternative means of assuring they either get paid appropriately for that or they have days off in return. Maybe it's a Monday and Tuesday. We all know in a lot of places in public services, police, fire, hospitals, you may work two days, I think it's usually four days on, four days off for police and hospitals. So they do have time off.

Our worry is that Sunday shopping alone will result in workers having to work seven days a week and not only workers, but those workers that have the least amount of rights. Most likely they are non-unionized. They may be younger; they may be workers, as my colleague from Halifax Needham pointed out, predominantly women in the retail trade, single mothers, in many cases. We are not going to allow them to be able to work on Sundays and not allow them to have certain rights in return, certain rights to ensure that if they don't want to work on a Sunday, they have the right to refuse. If they want time of in lieu on a Monday or Tuesday, if not a Sunday, they should have that right.

But we don't have that in this province and if we're moving toward Sunday shopping, which is what Bill No. 2 is, at least tentatively, baby step-wise, moving in that direction until the plebiscite. We should ensure that these workers have the protection they need to ensure that they have some control over their lives on Sundays. This is a change from the way we operate in this province, without a doubt. The member for Victoria-The Lakes said we're the last ones in North America or at least the last ones in the U.S. and Canada, I presume, that do this.

[6:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that doesn't mean we have to do it the same way they do. Just because North Carolina and South Carolina have right-to-work legislation that bans unionization doesn't mean we have to do it. Just because other provinces may not provide for the right to refuse to work on Sundays if you don't want to doesn't mean that we don't have to put it in. In fact, I would argue that we have a duty, not only a right but a duty, incumbent upon us in this House, to say, if we're the last jurisdiction in North America, in the U.S. and Canada to actually bring in some form of Sunday shopping, than we are wiser than the others, because the first one who did it was the first place and they didn't have other examples to go by. We have 50 state examples, we have nine provincial examples, and presumably some territorial examples as well that allow us to take a look at what those provinces, what those states, what those territories have done, and we have a responsibility to make sure our law is better because we can learn from their mistakes.

[Page 578]

In return, we can ensure workers have rights that they don't have in other places, Mr. Speaker. It's that simple. It's not brain surgery; it's not rocket science. It does involve us admitting that if we're going to do this, we must ensure workers are protected. I want to get into some more of those details. I want to talk a bit before that, if I can, about some of the history around this, because I think it's important to put on the record exactly where in Canada and in Nova Scotia we've been.

Obviously Sunday, in North America, in Western and Eastern Europe, in Christian society, is considered the Sabbath, always was. It was the day on which time stood still. You did very little. In fact there are still some religions that recognize that you don't do anything on Sundays, some Christian sects. Obviously as we become a productive society, we come to the point where we need to have certain services on a 24-hour basis, we need to have certain goods sold on a 24-hour basis or at least on a seven-day week basis. There has been a need for us to move away from that right.

This was one of the first challenges, by the way - in Canada, this was not debated. It was never debated that we would open on Sundays until 1982, when we brought in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. When we brought in that Charter, we changed Canada forever. We even saw that last Friday. Government after government in this province tried to limit the rights of certain workers under the Workers' Compensation Act. It was only the Charter of Rights that was passed in 1982 that guaranteed the workers their rights and said the government cannot do that. It took 10 or 15 years to finally get that decision, but it's a landmark decision in the history of workers' compensation law in this province, in this country and in insurance law in this country.

Mr. Speaker, the Charter of Rights allowed that to happen. Before that, people had to accept what the government did. In many cases it was very paternalistic in an approach of, we know what's best. You can argue either way, that the Charter of Rights hasn't created a better world by ensuring we have Sunday shopping. I think many people could argue that one way or the other, but the fact is the Charter of Rights has resulted in that, because before 1982, we didn't have Sunday shopping. Hospitals were open on Sunday, fire departments were open, police stations, but generally speaking malls were not open.

Someone realized, someone who probably wanted to make a buck, here's an opportunity for me to go to court and argue that the law that says I can't be open on Sunday because it's a Christian holiday, it's a Sabbath, is unconstitutional, because, presumably, the first person to challenge it was not Christian, maybe they were Muslim, maybe they were Jewish, maybe they had no religion. They came forward and said, I'm challenging this law, because you're violating my rights. Once the door was open, you're not going to shut it again.

That's what happened. We had many people, many provinces that moved in that direction; Nova Scotia didn't. In some ways, we are the last province to admit that maybe Sunday shopping is something that's inevitable. We've held on for a long time, Mr. Speaker.

[Page 579]

Other provinces moved in this direction. In Ontario, I think they moved in 1990 or 1991. It would have been shortly after the government was elected in September 1990. They moved towards Sunday shopping, and they put in place certain protections for workers, as did other provinces. I don't think they were the first. They fought for a while as well, but eventually they moved in that direction.

Mr. Speaker, there's a need to ensure that in Nova Scotia we have some of those protections as well. So, with the Charter of Rights the Sabbath Day as an automatic day on which everything must close ended. Can I say, in the past 15 or 20 years since the Charter came in, other things have changed as well in this province. Even with a law that says you can't open on Sundays, there are certain things that are open. The member for Victoria-The Lakes pointed out movie theatres. How many times on the doorstep, where people for Sunday shopping pointed out you can gamble in the casino, buy drinks in a bar, you can buy cigarettes at a corner store . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: You can take your children to a bar.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, you can take your children to the bar, but you can't buy groceries, can't buy school supplies in some cases at a decent store. Those are the problems that we face with this law. It's the sort of double standard - or triple standard in some cases - that we have in this province. We allow some things to open, we don't allow others.

I don't deny we need some consistency in how we're going to do this but at the same time, in the last 20 years we have moved from a system where very little was open on Sunday to many things in many parts of the country being open on Sundays.

So what happened after the Charter? Clearly you couldn't have a law that says, Sunday is the Lord's Day. In fact, I think it used to be called the Lord's Day Acts, it used to be - I don't think that referred to the Premier of New Brunswick, I assume it referred to someone else - but the fact is, those laws were in place specifically for Christian reasons. They had to change that. In some respects, what they probably did at the time, they would have done some word search in the document and found anything that had any sort of Christian reference or reference to the Lord's Day or the Sabbath taken out and replacing it with the word "uniform" because what Nova Scotia ended up doing is called the Uniform Closing Day Act, or the Retail Business Closing Day Act.

There are different names for it, but the concept is telling the court we're not doing it for religious reasons - it just happens to be Sunday because traditionally in Christian society, which we're predominantly one, we never had Sunday as a day, so we're going to keep that as a day. It won't be for religious reasons, it's more cultural and historic reasons that this happens to be the day, but it will still be the day in which almost everything is closed.

[Page 580]

That's what happened. We passed a law - I'm not sure when it was passed - in 1985? In 1989, Revised Statutes, it probably passed before that, but the fact is we passed a law that recognized the fact that it's a uniform day of closing. Now, the problem is you can drive a truck through that law. I'm not just talking about the Native reserves or the airport, but there are a lot of other things and I'll get to that in a minute as well.

But the problem is the Uniform Closing Day Act is, first of all the language is - in any law you draft that tries to halt progress some would argue - to try to stop Sunday shopping from occurring, which is what was attempted in the 1980s in this province. They knew they couldn't do it under the Sabbath Day Act, the Lord's Day Act, they had to do it under something else and they did it under something they just called the Uniform Closing Day Act or Retail Business Closing Day Act - the result was imperfect language.

For example, some of the exceptions are based on space - someone was saying earlier, 2,700 square feet. I remember 10 years ago there used to be a Capitol store in Dartmouth North at the corner of Albro Lake Road and Victoria Road. It used to be open and when I first came back from Toronto I thought, this is a grocery store, why is it open? It was pointed out to me that it probably just fit within the number of square feet that it needed in order to stay open. I'll tell you, it's convenient, I won't deny that. I was sad to see it close, that must be five or six years ago now, or even before that. The fact is, that you had a situation where that store was able to find the fine line. And, of course, we talk about the business in Bedford - I don't need to give its name, necessarily - it works on the sense, it's huge and it's not one store, it just happens to have very thin walls, I guess, but it has several stores. There's a store for fish, for meat, groceries, bakeries, magazines, but they're all relatively small. They all fit within that, so they created - some call them Chinese walls - these false walls to make a sense that they actually are different stores when, in fact, they are one store.

I'm actually surprised it hasn't caught on in other places; I'm surprised others haven't attempted to do it. I guess many of them thought that eventually we'll get to this point today where we're actually debating this law.

Here's another one that I always thought was interesting when I read it a year ago, when this issue started coming up again and that was - I think in the Act it actually says there's an exception for video rental stores, stores that sell and rent videotapes. I find that interesting because I was joking, thinking a few years from now, if we don't amend this law, video cassettes are going to be obsolete, everyone will be using DVDs. So, technically speaking, if someone has a store where they're renting DVDs and not videos, according to that law they're violating the law.

It is a fine point and it's one I think that has to be made. The law, as it currently stands, has very peculiar exceptions that were written in the time in which the law was passed in the 1980s, and at the time they probably thought that was progressive. Video stores were fairly new. This was something we wanted to capture. I'm sure they came forward at the Law

[Page 581]

Amendments Committee and argued for the exception. The fact is, times have changed; they've changed in a lot of ways, not only in the language for exception, but for the things that need to be accessible.

I should say I guess, Mr. Speaker, from my perspective, I have a young family - and I was listening to the member for Halifax Needham - we're in a situation where we both work, a very active life. We have children who want to do things on Saturdays particularly, or we have things we have to do and, of course, there are obligations in this job, or in my wife's work that result in us having to do a lot of things on Saturdays. To say that we have to put on that list grocery shopping, of course, we do make time, we have to, we have no choice, but there are many people in my constituency, when I spoke to them, who said, why don't I have the choice to do it on Sunday? By the way, I didn't see the sky falling yesterday when we opened the stores. Clearly, we need to ensure that when it happens, we put in place those protections to make sure that workers have the ability to have some control over their own lives.

Mr. Speaker, that is what my constituents have told me. When I said to them this is not necessarily about Sunday shopping - because Sunday shopping is inevitable -it's ensuring that workers, particularly those who are the most disenfranchised, those who have the least power, the least control over their own lives, have some ability to have some control. It's simple, really. It isn't that difficult. Given the fact that businesses to a great extent right now don't have the benefit of Sunday shopping, for them to say, well, if we are going to get it, maybe we can do it based on ensuring we provide workers with those protections. You're still going to make as much money. Maybe you will have to hire other people than those who are working the rest of the week. Well, the fact is I think they would be willing to accept that. Quite frankly, with workers, we need to do it; because these are the workers who have the least rights. We're talking about expanding retail businesses where almost none of them are unionized, and we're in a situation where we need to ensure they're provided with support.

Mr. Speaker, recent history has shown that in other provinces we had situations occur. It's only a few years ago that New Brunswick moved in this direction. You will recall that at some point the provincial government in New Brunswick - I having studied this as the critic I realized that of the nine provinces currently that have some form of Sunday shopping, I think six of them downloaded it on the municipalities. I noted the member for Victoria-The Lakes saying there's no need to download anymore, he's right. But I found it interesting that out of the nine provinces so far in Canada that have some form of Sunday shopping, six of them place a burden on the municipalities to decide. They say that each municipality has to make that decision.

You saw in New Brunswick, that's how they did it. I think Moncton and then Dieppe and then Riverview, which are three separate municipalities, all had to decide. I think even one of them decided not to have Sunday shopping. I'm not absolutely sure about that. The fact is that they were given that choice. Fredericton has to make that decision, or Edmundston, or

[Page 582]

Miramichi City, or Saint John, or Sussex, or Tracadie, they all have to make that decision as to whether they're going to open or not.

It's very interesting, it was introduced in February 2002 in Moncton. It's interesting, according to Statistics Canada, they do a study of retail sales comparing 2002 to 2001. So for almost all of 2002, Mr. Speaker, Moncton would have had Sunday shopping and, of course, it expanded somewhat quickly throughout. Nova Scotia didn't have Sunday shopping. Between 2002 and 2001 there was a 5.4 per cent increase in retail sales in Nova Scotia in 2002 without Sunday shopping. In New Brunswick, where its major centres started having Sunday shopping, it only went up 3.2 per cent.

Now, I guess, some could argue that means that we have a situation where opening on Sundays didn't result in more shopping. It didn't result in those people in Moncton going out and buying more; people in Fredericton, people in Miramichi City, they didn't go out and buy more. Some argue all you're doing is creating six days of revenue and spreading it over seven days of expenses. Now, that's up to business to decide I guess, that's why some won't open. Maybe that's why some will.

The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that New Brunswick's recent history is checkered at best with regard to how this has worked. They originally started, I believe, with a six-month period, from July to December, they used to be open and then they asked for a full year one and they got it from the municipal board there. Oh, and by the way, compared to the next year - 2002-03 - again we had no Sunday shopping here. In Nova Scotia it went up 2.3 per cent, retail sales and in New Brunswick where they had Sunday shopping and it was even expanded more in that next year, 1.1 per cent increase. So, clearly Sunday shopping is not a panacea for businesses who think they're going to make more money. It's not the answer, that's not the reason we should do this. Those businesses who are out there lobbying government to say we need to open on Sunday because we need an opportunity to make more money are probably either fooling themselves or are using false reasons to attempt to do this.

[6:45 p.m.]

All that will result I guess in the end is - New Brunswick, much like the insurance issue is sort of ahead of us on this - but in the end we'll have to see where it goes. P.E.I., I think, only has the six weeks before Christmas, maybe it's eight, but I think it's six weeks before Christmas and as a result of that, they probably right now have the least amount of Sunday shopping with just those six weeks. I know one of the proposals in this legislation is to have the people vote on if they accept Sunday shopping should happen, which is the first question. The second question is, should it be all year round or the six weeks before Christmas. We very well may end up with the same position as P.E.I. again presuming that's when people are most likely to shop, it's when they're most likely to go out and need things because of their hectic schedules and let's face it before Christmas I know with kids its very, very hectic before Christmas.

[Page 583]

So these are some of the things that have happened in other provinces. I will say that British Columbia, I think, was one of the first to come forward with a Uniform Business Closing Day Act and it was challenged. I find it interesting that they came forward with one to reflect the changes from the Charter and it was challenged anyway. Presumably it was too restrictive or some businesses felt they weren't allowed to open the way they wanted and it was knocked down by the court, it was found unconstitutional as well. One of the reasons I understand, and maybe the Leader of the Opposition raised this already, but one of the reasons I understand is something around identifying alternative Sabbath days.

If this is really about avoiding religious reasoning for opening and closing on Sundays, and in this case in Nova Scotia we've identified that we'll allow some form of Sunday shopping although it will still be restricted compared to other days. Then alternatively you have to provide for those who aren't Christian the ability to open all day long on Sundays in return to having more restrictive hours or no hours on their Sabbath, whether it's Friday if you're Muslim or Saturday if you're Jewish - those are the two I know, there may be others. I believe the members of the Eastern Orthodox Church celebrate Sunday as the Sabbath day, although I think that the Seventh Day Adventists, their day is Saturday. So there are others out there, and of course they're Christian, so there are others out there who may have a different day and our legislation has to reflect that.

If we are truly trying to do something that is trying to be secular, that is trying to be non-religious while still allowing people to shop, then we have to do this differently. We didn't under the Retail Business Closing Day Act and quite frankly we could have been challenged and some would argue we would have lost. It didn't happen in this province but we're back here now and I think we have a duty as legislators to make sure this legislation is constitutional. I sat in almost this exact spot four years ago when we talked about Bill No. 90 and the Worker's Compensation Act saying the exact same thing, don't pass laws that are unconstitutional. But we did and we buried the issue for four and a half years, and we're back at it again.

So, I guess my attitude is, don't do half a job when you can do the full job. Don't make a mess of something that you can fix now. With regard to this we have an opportunity to ensure that we provide those protections for workers, that we provide a legally sound legislation that cannot be constitutionally challenged because someday, somewhere, someone will do it. We were lucky enough in the last 15 years or so to avoid it under the current legislation, we need an opportunity to do it now. Of course I may suggest to you that there are many people out there that have sort of bitten their tongue and have said no we're not going to do anything about this right now, we'll wait and see how the plebiscite goes. If this plebiscite votes against Sunday shopping, I suspect there'll be a long line of businesses lining up in the courts the next Monday ready to challenge this law and say it is unconstitutional. Because it is inevitable, it will happen, and we as Nova Scotians have to be prepared to reflect on that fact while still protecting the workers in Nova Scotia.

[Page 584]

Now the plebiscite itself is interesting because the plebiscite, and I think somebody said we've only had two provincial plebiscites in the history of Nova Scotia and I stand to be corrected on that. One was in the 1920s, maybe over prohibition, and the other one was in the 1880s over something else.

I hope that this plebiscite doesn't have the same historic footnote that a plebiscite on prohibition would have had in the 1920s, but it is a very unusual way to do this, very unusual. Nova Scotia does not have a history of plebiscites. This isn't the United States, particularly California, where they have propositions every election. We do it differently in the Westminister system of law, and plebiscites are fairly unusual. Some of those province out West, like British Columbia and Alberta, have more of a tendency to want to do this, but, again, we happen to be the oldest Legislature in the former British Empire. We have one of the earliest forms of responsible government in the history of the world, of democratically-elected and responsible government. We are very close to the system that they have in the United Kingdom, of a Westminister system.

Mr. Speaker, as a result, we haven't used plebiscites that often, two since Confederation. Why are we doing it on this issue? Well, the crass political answer is, the Party across the way that's the government couldn't get consensus any other way. They had to promise some of their rural backbenchers that they would have a vote in order to ensure that they would buy into this agreement. It's a compromise that's going to cost us money, it's going to throw a monkey wrench in the works of the municipal elections, as the member for Victoria-The Lakes pointed out.

Mr. Speaker, is that the right way for us to legislate law? Is that leadership? I would argue not. But that's what we've been presented with. I want to make it clear to those who may be listening or reading Hansard that this may be a minority government and there may be more members sitting on this side of the House than that side of the House, but the only laws we can vote on are the ones that this government calls for a vote. The only one they're probably going to call for a vote with regard to Sunday shopping is their bill. If they want plebiscites, that's what we have to vote on. We don't have any choice. We can produce our own bill, the Liberal Party can produce their own bill, but if the Tories, the government doesn't want to vote on it, there's not going to be a vote.

We're stuck with what their agenda is. We can tinker with it, we can fine-tune it when we go to the Law Amendments Committee, we can hear from the people of Nova Scotia as to what they think, but in the end, it's the Tories who set the agenda. Indeed, if we were to amend the bill to eliminate plebiscites, I suspect they just won't call the bill. They will say that's not what they agreed to and the bill will die on the floor of this House. So we're in a situation where, to make it clear, though it's a minority government, the government itself addresses the agenda and calls the bills that will be voted on. We have some influence with regard to changing them, but generally speaking what is called for a vote, what bills are

[Page 585]

introduced, then called is that of the Government House Leader and the Progressive Conservative Party which is in government. That's the way it is.

I think it's important for the people of Nova Scotia to understand that minority governments are still a government that can control the agenda of the House to a great extent. I would say we have some more rights on the opposite side, we have some more ability to try to influence a government, but that does not result in us having the ability to draw up our own law and call it for debate, to have it voted on, passed and force the government to impose it. That's not the way it works. I think Nova Scotians need to understand that.

I should also say that in Ontario, in 1990, I mentioned they brought in Sunday shopping. Well, under that law they put in place certain protections for workers, rights to refuse work, they also put in place certain timelines. I don't know if it's 12:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. or 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., but they have a certain time in which stores are open. Again, even though it's supposed to be a secular law, presumably they open at noon because people want to go to church on Sunday mornings. So that is something that's been put into that law, and I believe it's being put into this law. That law was challenged and it was upheld, so those who believe that you can't have restrictions on Sunday shopping are probably wrong, according to the courts, but that doesn't mean we can't have protection of workers as part of whatever law we put in, Mr. Speaker.

I want to talk about worker protection. This law is not just amendments to the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act, it is also amendments to the Labour Standards Code. I think I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about the Labour Standards Code. Mr. Speaker, in Canada I would argue Nova Scotia is the Mississippi of Canada. We are a province with horrible legislation for workers. In the Southern United States, they have incredibly antiquated, undemocratic and, I would argue, horrible laws that are in place to prevent workers from having almost any rights. In Canada, we happen to be a little bit more progressive, but in Nova Scotia, not by much.

We live in a province where overtime pay is almost unheard of. Overtime pay, in most places in the civilized world, is based on one and a half times your hourly wage. So that if you work a certain number of hours a week over and above that, if you are making $10 an hour, you get $15 an hour pay, one and a half times your hourly wage. In Nova Scotia, we base it on one and a half times the minimum wage, which has slowly progressed to $6 an hour. So that if you make anything over $9 an hour in Nova Scotia as a wage, overtime pay is irrelevant. You are paid your hourly wage because if I, for example, work 50 hours, let's say 58 for the sake of argument because the other problem is in Nova Scotia, we have to work 48 hours a week. Our work week is 48 hours. So a lot of Nova Scotians don't know that because they may have progressive employers or they're in a union contract. Mr. Speaker, they don't know that we actually don't have a 40-hour work week in this province, we have a 48-hour work week. On top of that, if you work above 48 hours, so I'll say 58 hours, and you make $10 an hour, those extra 10 hours, in most jurisdictions in Canada, you would be making, as

[Page 586]

I said - $10 an hour at one and a half times for 10 hours would be - $15 an hour for 10 hours, which would be an extra $150 for those 10 hours' work in that week.

Mr. Speaker, in this province if you make $10 an hour and you work 10 hours over and above the 48 hours, you actually make $10 an hour for those 10 hours because, under our system, you are guaranteed pay at one and a half times the minimum wage. That's $6 an hour for minimum wage, one and a half times is $9 an hour. Well, you are already making $10 an hour. For some reason, you are considered affluent, I guess, at $10 an hour. So those people don't get any extra money. Now, if they happen to work in a place where it's a 40-hour work week for 58 hours at one and a half times the pay, they are actually making a lot more money than they would be here. Who benefits from that? Well, not the retail workers, not the workers who aren't unionized, not the workers without a benevolent employer who sees the benefit in paying the workers a decent wage when they work overtime. No, the people who benefit are employers who are able to save those nickels and dimes. When you have 10 employees or 20 or 30 or 40 or 200 or 1,000, it adds up.

I understand we all have to make a living, but what we're talking about with regard to the issue of overtime at a decent salary, one and a half times your hourly wage, Mr. Speaker, is not putting us out on the limb, it's not making us the most progressive province in the country. Quite frankly, it's making our labour standards meet the 20th Century. This has been standard law in this country for 40 years and our province still hasn't passed it. How does this government rationalize coming forward with Labour Standard Codes amendments on Sunday shopping that, quite frankly, would put in certain provisions for Sunday shopping when, in fact, it ignored the need for all workers in this province to have a minimum standard, a minimum standard of what they can obtain.

Well, Mr. Speaker, this province has done that. It has introduced legislation and ignored the rights of a lot of workers. Before I get into too much more detail about those parts of the Labour Standards Code, I want to talk about the parts that are in this bill. This bill talks about the right to refuse work. Let me start by saying that we were glad as an Opposition Party to be asked to provide some input with regard to those worker protection provisions. I think I can put that on the record. We provided a list of what we wanted to see. We wanted to see legislation that allowed workers who didn't want to work on Sundays to refuse to work and all they had to give was 48 hours' notice in order to get that. We wanted to see, similar to the Occupational Health and Safety Officers, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, we wanted to see legislation that allowed the inspectors, when someone did refuse to work, they would be able to get their job back and I'll get into more detail on that in a minute. We wanted to see a guarantee where you had 10 or more employees in your business, that a worker would have the right to 48 hours off in a row, hopefully on Sunday, as it is written in Saskatchewan, but at least 48 hours off so we don't have people working seven days a week. If they can't get the Sunday off, maybe it's Monday and Tuesday or Wednesday and Thursday or Friday and Saturday. But the fact is, they would be guaranteed two days off in a row, a rest period. How radical.

[Page 587]

[7:00 p.m.]

Well, Madam Speaker, I'm going to get into more details about the refusal. Here's the way it works. I'm going to use an analogy from the Occupational Health and Safety Act under Westray because it's important. In Nova Scotia in the mid-1990s we introduced a new Occupational Health and Safety Act that gave more teeth to inspectors. Why? Because under Westray people had the right to refuse work, they had the right to refuse unsafe work. After Westray, many people that did the investigation, whether it be the Department of Labour, the Richard inquiry, during the prosecution, it came out that those workers would not refuse to work. People would say, you have the right. The right was there and they would say, if I were to refuse to work, I'd be fired and if I were fired I had to go to the Labour Standards Tribunal and apply to get my job back, which takes nine months to a year - at that time, may even be longer now, I don't know.

Nine months to a year in order to get your job back. Let's face it, if you're living in Pictou County, working at the Westray Mine, are you going to refuse to work and wait a year to get your job back? Of course, EI doesn't necessarily pay you if you're fired. You have to argue that it was for health and safety reasons which means you have to go to the EI tribunal, the Labour Standards Tribunal and you could very easily be spending months upon months without any salary coming in. If you're a worker with children and a family and dependents, what are you going to do? You're going to keep working.

In point of fact, the right to refuse unsafe work under the old Occupational Health and Safety Act was not a right at all because workers weren't willing to take it because they knew they'd be fired. If they were fired, they'd be without unemployment insurance and without any right to get their job back.

What did they do under the Occupational Health and Safety Act after that? They decided the best thing is, a right is only a right if you can get immediate reinstatement of your job. It was always there, you had the right to get your job back, but what normally happened was if you did refuse to work and you were fired and you applied under the Labour Standards Tribunal, sometime in that nine months to a year the employer would come forward and offer you a severance package and ship you off. You'd take it because you needed the cash, because you weren't getting any anywhere else. Maybe you'd move away and work at another mine. In the case of Westray, you'd work somewhere else. Well, the old line I guess is, justice delayed is justice denied. That works with regard to the workplace as well.

The Occupational Health and Safety Act that was amended and provided in 1997 stated that inspectors under that legislation, if someone refused to work and was fired, the inspector could come in within 48 hours and reinstate that person right then. It also prevented the employer and the employee from getting into a long-term conflict, it would be resolved and it would be done with and the person could go back to their job.

[Page 588]

We need the same provision if we're going to allow people to refuse to work on Sundays because I know full well people will be fired. People will lose their jobs and without the provision that the Labour Standards officers have the right to come in and reinstate those workers, we will not have a real right for workers. Some out there may argue, how do you do that? You have it now. We have an Occupational Health and Safety Act with inspectors that have the power to come in and reinstate workers. We can do the same for Labour Standards officers as well - it's that easy. As long as it doesn't violate the Charter, this Legislature can pass whatever it wants.

Yes, there may be some employers that aren't happy, but if they want to open on Sundays, they've got to play by the rules that we set in this House. One of the rules must be you cannot fire workers and if you do we will come in and give them their job back immediately. It would only take a few of those cases before the retail businesses start buzzing with the fact that they can't fire people for refusing to work on Sundays. That right will be a real right. Justice won't be denied. Justice will not be delayed.

We'd also like to see something that provided 48 hours off in a row. They have it in Saskatchewan. We provided all of this to the government. They took some of it and we appreciate what they took, other things they did not take, other things they felt were not important for them to put in there. Quite frankly, what we have as rights in this legislation, are not good enough. They do not provide the workers of this province with a real right to refuse work with a real provision to get their job back or with any form of day of rest. As it stands right now, Nova Scotians could be working 7 days a week and if they refuse to work on Sunday, they'll be tossed out on their ear pretty quickly.

That's not good enough. That's not why we're here. That's not why we want to pass legislation. If we're going to have Sunday shopping, workers must have real protection, and it is not in this legislation. I think the Law Amendments Committee process will be very interesting to see how many people come forward to provide their input as to what they want to see.

The other part of this is we need legislation that will ensure, Madam Speaker, that we are no longer the Mississippi of Canada, we're no longer the right-to-work state, that we actually provide real provisions. Here are some of the ones that we would like to see. If we're talking about really changing the Labour Standards Code in this province, which is what has happened, this Minister of Environment and Labour, by introducing this legislation with the Minister of Justice has opened the door for us to be able to provide real substantive change to the Labour Standards Code. I think there is another piece of legislation in this House - I forget what bill number it is - it's Bill No. 7, which deals with the issue of compassionate leave. They will try to claim, well, aren't we a great government, but the fact is the federal government already passed changes to the Employment Insurance Act that provides for this leave. All they're doing is harmonizing, so people here can take advantage of that right. They

[Page 589]

did the same thing a few years ago with regard to maternity leave. This government isn't leading, it's following, always following.

The fact is that this is an opportunity to lead, an opportunity to provide concrete change to legislation to ensure that workers in this province have rights they didn't have before, rights that almost every other worker in the industrialized world, in the civilized world has. For example, in this province, if you're not unionized you have the right to two weeks' vacation when you take a job. You could be working for 20, 30, 40 years for the same employer, and all they have to do is give you two weeks' vacation. I wouldn't consider that much motivation to stay around for 30 or 40 years. What about five, 10, 15, 20 years? Two weeks' vacation, that's it.

Most provinces in this country, in Europe, and I'm sure in Australia and in Japan, though I haven't looked, but I'm pretty sure in those places you get more vacation time. We see it in our own Civil Service. We provide it in our own Civil Service collective bargaining agreement the opportunity, when you have worked for a certain period of time, you get more vacation. Three weeks vacation after five years, I think it is; four weeks vacation after 10 years; and I think it's five weeks vacation after 15 years. I'm not sure, but it goes up. Of course that's a motivation to stay around. I will work for you and I know I'm going to get more vacation time, which actually makes good business sense to be able to do that.

Madam Speaker, we don't have it in this province. We need to provide for incremental increases in vacation so workers in this province know that if they're not unionized, they're going to have the right to get some vacation time, more than two weeks, three weeks after a certain period of time, four weeks after a certain period of time. Again, this is not going out on a limb, this is not revolutionary legislation, this is something almost every province in this country has and most of the industrialized world has.

It brings us into the 20th Century, quite frankly, Madam Speaker, even though we're in the 21st. I mentioned earlier about the 48-hour work week versus the 40-hour work week. In France, they've moved to a 35-hour work week. I remember at the time reading in the Economist - and I am sure the Government House Leader who is also a fan of that magazine probably read - that it was condemned, it was seen as going to destroy their economy. I think I've read more recently that the standard of living in France has increased dramatically in the past five years since they passed that legislation.

I will note that in the last eight years, there has been a relatively Conservative, by French standards, president, in the last three or four years; two years, there has been a Conservative Government in Parliament, and they haven't revoked it, they haven't removed the 35-hour work week. They've kept it in. Clearly, if they thought it was so bad for business they would have just repealed it and gone back to 40 or whatever. The fact is that it's actually worked well for them. It has worked well in France.

[Page 590]

Madam Speaker, one of the things as a Parliament, as a Legislature we must begin to balance, and we hear this on the doorsteps during elections and we sort of chalk it up to, what can I do, there are things we can do. We hear from families. I am working longer hours, that's what we hear from our constituents. My wife or my husband is working longer hours. We have to put our children in daycare, just so we can pay for the house and pay for the clothes and pay for the food. We have to work weekends. I'm checking e-mails, I'm checking my cell phone, I'm checking answering machines all the time. We do it in this job, we know that. People expect it.

In most jobs, people are expected to do it. They are expected to work split shifts, they are expected to work odd hours. Where does the family come in in that? Where is the opportunity for people to spend time with their family? Let's be honest, someone will say, well, we don't need Sunday shopping, that gives you a chance to spend time with your family. The last time I heard, there are a lot of people who have to go into the office on Sunday. They have to check their e-mails from home and they've got to respond. They've got to check their answering services. They would have a cell phone with them so they're accessible 24-7.

Madam Speaker, we're in a situation where we hear from our constituents that they don't have time, you know, that their children are suffering because of it. We see children at risk, and some will say the children at risk are in places where people are not as well off, or their income isn't as great, or maybe they don't have a job. I would suggest to you there are many parts of our province, of our country and in the world, in the industrialized world, where there are just as many children at risk, not because their parents are under employed, or because their parents don't have a job, but because both parents are working and their children don't have an opportunity to have two parents who are there for them. But can't we do something about that? Can't we begin to provide certain provisions. I'm not saying we're going to change the world, but we can provide some things.

Here's another example but, first of all, as I said, we can drop to a 40-hour work week, start working on the same pattern as the rest of the world. We sometimes talk about the 40-hour work week as a given in the world. It hasn't been in Nova Scotia. It's a 48-hour work week. Yes, if you're unionized, you have probably negotiated something differently. In the Civil Service I think it's 37.5 hours, but if you're in the retail trade business, you have to work 48 hours if they tell you to work 48 hours. You have no choice. Particularly since Hurricane Juan this has sort of struck me because in my case my son is still out of school because he goes to Tallahassee Community School and we don't have split-shifting until Wednesday but, you know, I happen to have a flexible boss, thank you very much. I happen to have a wife with a flexible boss, and I will thank him for the record as well, but there are a lot of people out there who don't and if you're not in a unionized workplace, if you don't have a benevolent employer, in this last week while school was out, what did you do with your kids? How did you look after them?

[Page 591]

In theory, if you had to go to work starting Wednesday because I will give credit for Monday and Tuesday being days where you were told to stay home, if you went to work on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, maybe you both had to work, what happened to the kids? We all scrambled and we probably all found something, but that isn't the way it should be. We would like to see in this Labour Standards Code parental leave and not only parental leave but the situations where we may have parents, elderly parents who need help, they may be living with us, they may have doctors' appointments, they may be sick. We may have children who are sick and we have incidents that prevent us from being able to go to work because of family responsibilities and as a result, Madam Speaker, we would like to see something in here that will provide for at least a few days so people can take those off in order to ensure, without pay, that they would have a certain right to be able to go and deal with those things. We don't have that.

Now, I will grant you most provinces don't. I know Quebec has moved in that direction, but wouldn't it be nice for once if this province actually brought forward reasonable, progressive legislation. It seems the only time this province gets on the map for legislation are things like Michelin and other things, legislation that seems to go against the trend of providing workers with rights and, Madam Speaker, here's an opportunity under the Labour Standards Code to look at more than just Sunday shopping and look at other things as well like a parental leave, a family leave time without pay. They have it in the United States by the way and none of us would argue that they're more progressive with regard to labour laws than us, that they have it and, by the way, they also have a higher minimum wage in the United States.

[7:15 p.m.]

The other issue that comes up around this is part-timers and benefits, Madam Speaker, because a lot of part-timers and, let's face it, we're moving in the last 10 years to a workforce that involves more part-time work. We see people who have two or three part-time jobs instead of one full-time job. One of the benefits of that, pardon the pun, is that employers don't have to pay benefits to their workers. By having part-time workers, they save a lot on benefits. They don't have to provide them with health insurance or dental insurance, or long-term disability insurance, or sick days, short-term disability insurance. Those kind of things may now have to be provided and, in return, if you get a worker who doesn't have, as they would say, those administrative costs or those extra costs that would result in the cost per worker. So instead of having one full-time worker let's say that's $30,000 a year plus the benefits you pay, maybe it's $35,000 or whatever, you have two part-time workers at $15,000 and you don't have to provide the benefits. It saves the company $5,000. Hey, that's what business is about. I understand that, but our job is to make sure that we have a balance between the rights of the employers to make money and the rights of workers to have a life. We don't live in this province to work. We work in this province to live and that's something we have to begin to define Nova Scotia as. We have a great quality of life here. We have beautiful landscape. We have great communities, but if we keep ensuring that our Labour

[Page 592]

Standards Code is the worst in Canada, one of the worst in the industrialized world, then that will result, Madam Speaker, in the bad employers coming here and we are going to reduce the quality of life.

If we really want to succeed and we really want to prosper - Ontario didn't prosper by having bad labour standards legislation and I know - I used to enforce the Employment Standards Code there before moving back here. It's changed now. The Harris Government, the Eves Government gutted their employment standards code and, well, look what happened to them. But, Madam Speaker, the fact is that you don't make a prosperous society on the backs of the workers. You don't make a prosperous society by allowing employers to come in here and have 48 hour work weeks with no real overtime provisions, bad vacation provisions, a weak minimum wage, one of the lowest in the world. That doesn't get you a prosperous society. It may get you McJobs, as my colleague for Halifax Needham said, it may get you cheap retail jobs, but it doesn't get you, it doesn't get us as a province, prosperity. It doesn't move us from being a have-not province to a have province. What gets us there is having strong legislation, certain rights that balance the right of employers to make money with the right of workers to have a living wage with benefits. What you get from that is a distribution, a equilibrium. Employers make money. Workers get their fair share of the wealth from the work that they do and, in return, they spend more money back in the stores of those employers. They buy bigger cars. They buy bigger houses. They buy more toys. They buy more things for their homes because they have more money in their pockets.

Employers, the ones higher up, put a lot of their money in savings. So every $5,000 they save because they have two part-time workers compared to one full-time worker is money that they'll probably invest somewhere else, Indonesia, Cayman Islands, Monaco. If you had one full-time worker instead of two part-time workers, that extra $5,000 is being invested in the community and will be spent on things in the community. That balance, that equilibrium is what creates a society that can be prosperous. That's what makes Ontario more prosperous than Nova Scotia. That's what makes British Columbia more prosperous than Nova Scotia. It's what makes France, Germany, Scandinavia more prosperous than Nova Scotia. They found that equilibrium. They found that balance between the rights of employers to make money and the rights of employees to have minimum standards, labour standards that ensure that they can earn a decent living wage. We don't have that in Nova Scotia and until we do, we will continue to be a have-not province. We will continue to have people leaving this province.

Madam Speaker, there is much more we can talk about around the Labour Standards Code, but there needs to be some understanding that in this province Labour Standards is not just about making some amendments to reflect Employment Insurance changes federally or changes that ensure that Sunday shopping can be allowed for businesses, it has to be bigger than that. We haven't had wholesale changes to our Labour Standards Code in at least 30 years. I don't think there's a member of this House who was sitting the last time we passed changes to the Labour Standards Code. I look at the Honourable Government House Leader

[Page 593]

at that time, because I believe it was before his time that we passed the Labour Standards Code.

One of the other things that is important that I mentioned is the minimum wage. I said we have one of the lowest minimum wages in the industrialized world, lower than the United States. I was actually talking to someone earlier and up until recently, the United Kingdom didn't have a national minimum wage. They only passed something, I think, in the last few years, which I thought was quite interesting. I assumed, that of all places, the United Kingdom would have a minimum wage. They didn't, but they do now and I don't know exactly what it is, but they do have a minimum wage. But in the United States, even in the last few years, I think 10 years ago, the United States had a federal national minimum wage of like $3.35 and now it's up over $6 so they've quickly ramped their minimum wage up well beyond ours.

I think it's important because right now as it stands the way we do minimum wage is that every year the minister has to do a review and Cabinet has to decide based on that review whether they're going to increase it. This may sound shocking and I don't want anyone to fall off their chair, but we find that the minimum wage goes up just before elections. I don't want to be cynical but it seems that just before elections, and the honourable member for Cape Breton West would know because he was raising it as the Minister of Labour in 1999 and I believe maybe the Government House Leader was the minister at the time, earlier this year or last year, announced an increase in the minimum wage. For all I know it may have gone up three days ago or five days ago on October 1st.

The date is legislated but whether we increase it or not depends on whether Cabinet thinks it's the appropriate thing to do with six months notice. So, the fact is though that it always seems to be just before an election we get the increase in the minimum wage. So that when they go to the doorsteps the government MLAs can say we raised the minimum wage 10 cents an hour.

AN HON. MEMBER: We should have more elections.

MR. DEVEAUX: Yes, well I guess with the minority government's situation we probably are going to have more elections. So, I guess we're going to get more minimum wage increases. I expect one next, I guess it will be April 1st we can expect our next minimum wage increase. I hope so.

The fact is that the minimum wage is so political, it has become so political that we have ministers that recommend and Cabinets only approve around elections. Wouldn't it be nice to have a system in which we would allow people who aren't directly politically involved to provide advice to the government and allow them to make a decision as to what the minimum wage should be. It can be done. You know in many cases in the past 30 years we've torn apart the labour-management relationship in this province. I don't mean in a workplace by workplace basis, but Nova Scotia as a province we have. It's time we start rebuilding it.

[Page 594]

We're rebuilding it on an Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council, why not rebuild it with regard to the Labour Standards Code as well with regard to minimum wage? That would ensure that Nova Scotians would have employers and employees to begin to talk to each other about the things that they need.

Let them make the compromises, they make them every day in the workplace, they make them every day at the Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council. They know how to negotiate in the workplace. Let them do that, let them sit down and decide what they think the minimum wage should be for the next year. Let them provide advice to the government. It can be done, it's not radical. We already do it in other areas. Why not in this area as well? These are the things we need in our Labour Standards Code that aren't being looked at by this government. We need a Labour Standards Code that comes into the 20th Century.

AN HON. MEMBER: The 20th or 21st?

MR. DEVEAUX: We're in the 21st but we have a Labour Standards Code that quite frankly is mired in the early part of the 20th Century. In the 1970's we may have entrenched it but the fact is that in Nova Scotia it is time that we begin to realize that we are all better off when we have a better Labour Standards Code and that is why we need more in this legislation than just Sunday shopping. We must ensure that Nova Scotians are protected on Sundays but also protected the other six days of the week as well. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and make a few comments with regard to Bill No. 2, an Act to Amend Chapter 402 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Retail Business Closing Day Act; and Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Labour Standards Code.

At the outset I want to concur with many of the comments that were made by my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage because as many may or may not know he has a labour background. He was a workers' adviser with the Workers' Adviser Program with the Nova Scotia Department of Labour at that time and now it's the Department of Environment and Labour. So he does have some real experience in that particular department and although I didn't always agree with some of the approaches and positions he took, I must say that he has a very knowledgeable and strong background, and a working knowledge particularly since he went through the process at or about the time when the Occupational Health and Safety Act was being amended. So he does bring some real live experience to the table and I think that's very important particularly since we're dealing with some possible amendments to the Labour Standards Code.

[Page 595]

Madam Speaker, this appears to be one of these issues that you have to believe that you have a position one day, and the next day you're scratching your head and saying do I really agree with this legislation or do I not. But it's only upon reflection, when you see all the changes that have taken place over the last 20 or 30 years here in Nova Scotia that you come to realize how all our positions have changed quite dramatically and our attitudes, whether on a social, economic, cultural, religious, or any other perspective for that matter. It's interesting to note, because of all the changes in society over the last 20 to 30 years I believe that it's in part why this piece of legislation is before us here today.

For example, if you look back in time some 20 years ago, it's interesting to note the number of single-parent families has increased. If you look back some 12 years ago, the total number of single-parent families in 1991 was slightly more than 33,000 whereas just a little more than a year ago that number was up to over 44,000. So we can see the number of single-parent families is increasing. Obviously, that has an impact on the family's ability to generate sufficient monies to be able to pay their day-to-day bills.

For the most part, most single-parent families are ones that I would suggest are at or near the poverty level. If you took a family of four, for example, five years ago I believe for a family of four - that could very well be a mother with three children or it could be a single dad with three children, or it could be a couple with two children, but the poverty level at that time - 5 years ago - was approximately $24,500. Now, you take a single-parent family in particular, there aren't too many single-parent families that make a significant amount of money above that. The figures will bear that out because, for the most part, in single-parent families the sole income earner is female. We know the disparity and the wage situation between male and female in the marketplace - it's been documented. That's why we have the Pay Equity Commission, that's why we have all these different factors that we try to inject into the process to balance the scale.

Notwithstanding all these various factors, we are still faced with the reality that many single-parent families want to find as much time to work as possible and yes, in many cases, that means working on holidays and on Sundays. Another factor as well is the fact that many single-parent families don't receive or enjoy the same benefits level where you have two incomes in one family. Because, although one of the two in a two-income family may have full benefits or the other one doesn't have as much, at least that cushion is there. For example, if you had two professional types, let's say a school teacher and a nurse in a family, both may have the opportunity, if they're full-time employees, to enjoy the benefits of being able to sign on to a medical plan, a dental plan, a sick plan, any type of a plan where it would reduce the cost of prescription drugs, that sort of thing. In a single-parent family, that's not always the case.

[Page 596]

[7:30 p.m.]

So these are some of the factors that have gone into this equation, although we don't seem to look at that at first glance. We say, well, this is a global economy and this is the way things are going and if we have to be competitive, we have to change our laws to be competitive. Whether it be with the businesses in New Brunswick or the fact that many Nova Scotians, more and more, are travelling south of the border to do their Christmas shopping. They may make it a long weekend excursion, perhaps in mid-October or November and it's an escape weekend and they tack on an extra day. So it doesn't take long for them to spend all the dollars that normally they would have spent in the province. So that's another factor in the equation on this particular piece of legislation.

But before I delve too deeply into the contemporary aspects of this particular legislation, another interesting point about the way things have changed in Nova Scotia over the past 30 years. I know we have a certain degree of expertise in the Legislative Chamber, and that's with regard to our disposition in terms of our partaking in religious activities on holy days. Whether it be Sunday or certain festive or particular set days in the calendar year for commemorating or remembering certain activities, whether it be in the Catholic Church, the Presbyterian Church, United, Jewish or what have you. The fact of the matter is, the point I'm about to make, Madam Speaker, is that there are fewer Nova Scotians today that partake in, in the conventional sense, church activities. That doesn't make them less of a Christian, not in any sense of the word, but if you look back 30 years ago, the estimates are that nearly 70 per cent of all Nova Scotians would attend some type of a religious service on a regular basis, perhaps weekly basis, in one form or the other. Whereas today, that's only about 35 per cent.

So that does have an impact. It does have an impact on our attitudes, our dispositions about certain conventions that we always knew to be true to form. I'll give you an example, Madam Speaker. When I first started school, and some would say that was a long time ago and some would say it was not all that long ago, but it was a regular thing that, first of all, you would say your morning prayers. Well, we all know what has transpired over the years on that particular issue.

At one time, as well, perhaps not on a regular basis, but quite often, we would also sing the national anthem. Well, I don't hear that being spoken of by children that often as it once was when I went to school. So there are a lot of conventions that have changed in society and the way we teach our children, the way we view society in general, our community, our municipality, our province, our country. Things are changing and that's not just locally, but at the national level and international level. So you put all these factors in. Again, that's another contributing issue I believe, in part, as to why we're dealing with this particular piece of legislation and the amendments to the Labour Standards Code.

[Page 597]

Madam Speaker, we also see that the cost of living for the average family today has escalated, or even, if you would like, I could certainly quote lots of figures going back some 20 years to 30 years, but I think it would be safe to say that the Consumer Price Index has increased almost two to three times as much as the income levels for the average family in Nova Scotia. So again we see the need to have not just one income earner in the family. (Interruption) Well, it may be a silly argument, but there's a need for more revenue to pay more bills. The cost of electricity has gone up. The cost of oil has gone up. The cost of our telephone bills has gone up. (Interruption)

Madam Speaker, I would respectfully submit that the honourable member for Dartmouth North will have ample opportunity to present his arguments. If I'm not going to be able to present all the different factors that go into this so that we can come to a rational, reasoned conclusion as to what's the best form of legislation to adopt, well, then we might as well stop all debates at this point. So I haven't come to any conclusions any more than any other member in this House.

So I would ask the honourable member to at least consider these important factors because for the everyday working family, when the cost of your telephone bill goes up, I know our family just received a notice recently from Aliant, telephone, that electrical surcharges or, you know, the service charge, the monthly charge, that has gone up. We recently received a notice from the power company. The electricity bill has gone up. Oil costs have gone up. Property taxes have gone up. Personal income taxes have gone up despite all (Interruption) Well, they have. When you add up the user fees, all these hidden fees on licensing fees, on insurance fees, you name it, Madam Speaker, at the end of the day the fact of the matter is the average person has less disposable income to look after his or her or their family. That's the reality and that is a driving factor whether we like to admit it or not. Should that be the only factor? No. I agree with the member for Dartmouth North. I do not agree that this should be a motivating factor to move, but it's one of the realisms that we have to deal with.

As well, Madam Speaker, let's go back in time. This is not something that just came before the House this year. Let's go back to 1986 when the then Attorney General, the Honourable Ron Giffin, amended the legislation. I believe it was called Bill No. 70, an Act to Amend the Operation of Retail Businesses Holidays Act and also amending legislation to deal with a number of other issues. Well, that was because of a Supreme Court decision that was to deal with the issue of religious conventions and rights and that was out of a Supreme Court decision out of the Province of Alberta. So then it had the domino theory. So ultimately, without getting into a lot of details, there had to be some refinement and adjustment to the Lord's Day Act. Then, lo and behold, back in 1993 that was amended even further by a previous government to make provision for the allowance of Sunday shopping . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor. I would hope that everybody could listen to the debate, please.

[Page 598]

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I'm sure those who don't catch it will certainly be willing to read it on a future day. In 1993, the Act was amended again to make provision for shopping during the Christmas period.

Now, I listened to the dissertation from the Leader of the NDP, and it's amazing how 17 years later, almost verbatim, the words have come back to be echoed by the honourable member who is the Leader of the NDP. At that time, in 1985, actually, the Leader of the NDP at that time made almost the same comments as what was made here. Rather than come down and make a conclusive decision as to where she stood, much the same as what we heard here this evening, what the Leader of the Opposition said today was, Sunday shopping is inevitable. Well, let me quote what the Leader of the NDP said on April 30, 1985, "I think that is an inevitable development . . ." Well, that's pretty profound. It's inevitable that I'm going to die some day, but what am I going to do, sit here and do nothing - hopefully, for quite a while, I will be around. That's a rather fundamentalist position to have.

Madam Speaker, the fact of the matter is, he says nothing. I am kind of catching the words of one of my colleagues, when I use that reference that it's inevitable that we're all going to die, as my colleague, the member for Richmond, once indicated. What are we going to do? Are we going to do nothing on issues like this? I mean, it can't be. Really, what he's trying to say is that he wants to be on both sides of the issue at the same time. During her position on that particular piece of legislation, by golly, she, like her colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid - he was in favour of Sunday shopping. He was in favour of Sunday shopping, and he chastised members of the Liberal Government, at the time, for their position.

Yet, when the vote was taken, and it's on record here, Page 2487, Monday, November 15, 1993, they both opposed it. So on one hand they go on their speeches, they support the principle of Sunday shopping, but when the vote was taken, they both voted against it. You can't be on both sides of this issue at the same time. Either you're for it or you're against it. This is a general theme.

Madam Speaker, that's why I put all these other issues on the table, because it is a complex issue. It's not an easy issue. The issue of labour standards, if there's anything the government should be doing, it should be dealing with the problems within the Department of Environment and Labour. The latest reports I received from senior staff in the Department of Environment and Labour is that there's a 22-month backlog on complaints at the Labour Standards Division in that department. Why isn't the government putting more resources to help all these people who have complaints, and whose wages are being held up by employers who are not such good, honourable employers? Now, that's not all, there are some.

We have about 2,000 complaints with a 22-month backlog. Why hasn't that backlog been cleared up after nearly two years? If the government wants to do anything to help the workers of Nova Scotia, put the resources into the department to help them. It's absolutely disgraceful that they're so shorthanded in that department. Not only that, but if we were to

[Page 599]

deal with this backlog of 2,200, perhaps we'd be able to find some possible solutions to the process to the Labour Standards Code, some ways that we may be able to improve this legislation. So, if anything the government wants to do, it's there before them if they only want to put their mind to it.

[7:45 p.m.]

The issue of workers' rights is one that I think has to be examined. I believe that the Occupational Health and Safety Act that was adopted under the previous Liberal Administration was a good piece of legislation. As has been noted earlier, there are some problems with the workings of that. For those who aren't familiar with this particular piece of legislation, I will try to give a snapshot as I know it. Madam Speaker, if you're working in your workplace and you have a complaint about your employer, if there's less than 25 employees or even less than 5, there are certain processes that kick into place. If over 25 employees, the labour management occupational health and safety panels or working committees generally and they meet once a month. Then it's like a round table discussion and intermittently the Department of Labour would partake and review the monthly reports. It's almost a requirement, a prescription by law.

If you were working in an environment where there's maybe only three employees and you had a lot of problems there and you felt you were being harassed in the workplace, it's just too untenable for me to go to work anymore. You really can't quantify, you can't put in substantive form how you're being harassed, but you know that if you go there it's not a healthy environment to be there. You have the right, under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, if you genuinely and truly believe that it is to your detriment to go to work, then you can refuse to go to that place of work.

Now, what did this government do several years ago? They brought in a sunset clause for the occupational health and safety regulations - they really haven't come back into full form - and a lot of other regulations. (Interruptions) The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley says we're misleading the House. Well, I would submit that there's sufficient evidence to show why there are less and less workers feeling comfortable with the Occupational Health and Safety Act. There's sufficient evidence - and if the honourable member would like to take up the challenge on that in a debate on a future day, I'll certainly provide him with lots of evidence, which is perhaps why one of his own caucus colleagues on a previous day introduced a piece of legislation to exempt parts of the Occupational Health and Safety Act from being enforced. That was introduced by the member for Digby-Annapolis. I believe that the Government House Leader would certainly remember that piece of legislation.

This government does not have a good track record when it comes to occupational health and safety for workers in Nova Scotia. I don't want to go back into the annals of history in and around Westray - we've all learned, one way or the other from that. But the fact of the

[Page 600]

matter is, increasingly, more and more employees, workers in this province, do not have a comfort level with the Occupational Health and Safety Act like they once did. They don't because when they see CEOs of large corporations going and having a private meeting with the minister to lobby against certain changes to the Occupational Health and Safety regulations, for example, when the regulations were changed, so that Nova Scotia Power would only require sending one linesman out on an emergency call, or any service call. Pardon? (Interruption) Well, they can today, they certainly can. Those regulations were amended under that government and that member doesn't seem to know what his own government does. That was an issue that we raised in Question Period on a previous day. That was an issue that we raised in Opposition debate and this member doesn't even seem to know that the workers' rights of Nova Scotia Power have been somewhat compromised. They certainly have.

If somebody goes out and gets zapped on a power line, 25,000 volts, the argument of saying, well, he has got a cell phone with him, he can call in for help - if somebody gets 25,000 volts going through them or they fall 75 feet off a pole, do you think they're going to be in much shape to be making a phone call to head office for a back-up? I don't think so, Madam Speaker. So this is why I'm glad to see this issue of Labour Standards Code brought into it. So perhaps the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would in fact take time to read those regulations. (Interruptions)

Well, Madam Speaker, there appears to be a little bit of jest around this serious issue, but the fact of the matter is that if there's a second person there, perhaps that second person could alert the first person that he or she is in a position of danger before it happens. Not the typical Conservative philosophy that, oh, well, you're only a number and if anything happens, well, we will go get somebody else. This is all about protecting workers' rights and, yes, it does speak to this legislation.

Madam Speaker, I would invite some of these members who seem to be chomping at the bit to get up to defend this piece of legislation to do so and to give it some of their thoughts and their reasons for supporting this legislation. I'm certain it would encourage members of the Opposition to take notice that perhaps there are certain aspects of this legislation that we've overlooked or that we would be willing to adapt to. So there is sufficient argument as to why the government should examine the issue of workers' rights on this particular piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, welcome back to the Chair. Now I know for sure I will be brought right back onto the proper course. Another interesting issue that came to light just recently and it has profound implications on this piece of legislation, is that recent Supreme Court decision that we read about in the newspapers on weekend past. I was a bit taken aback by it, to be honest, because the legislation that was crafted in 1999 was crafted in large measure to deal with a Supreme Court decision of 1996. All stakeholders - I believe at the time there were equivalent of at least 12 legal minds in total - between the Workers' Compensation Board, the

[Page 601]

Workers' Advisers Program, the Department of Environment and Labour, the Department of Justice, representatives from all different stakeholders who tried to deal with that issue on chronic pain as diligently as they possibly could and it was certainly well debated here before the House. It was supported by that Supreme Court decision. So that's why it came into being and now we have the Supreme Court Justices reversing their own decision.

It begs you to wonder what the implications are going to be of this legislation. When we adopt this legislation, is there going to be a Supreme Court decision come down saying this is unconstitutional or that's unconstitutional? What are we as legislators to think? The bigger question is, where is the line in the sand, or where is that line of jurisdiction between Parliament and the Supreme Court? Something has to be done. We can't be going back and forth and tossing the injured workers of this province as if they're on a roller coaster. It's not just those in the workers' compensation system, what about those applying for Canada Pension, what those who are applying for compensation or some type of justice, whether it be through the Human Rights Commission or what have you? (Interruptions) Well, it is, it ties into the second component of Bill No. 2, which deals with labour standards.

Unless we have those labour standards clearly defined, to be able to protect the rights of workers, we're going to have more and more court cases such as what we've just witnessed. What we have just seen, Mr. Speaker, is a culmination of four years of being kicked around in the system. Is it fair to the injured workers? No, it's not. Is it fair to the employers of this province? No, it's not. The bills have to be paid - and this no-fault insurance system. So it all ties together. The government does have an opportunity to do something here, and I'm not so sure the government has really fully addressed all these aspects.

Now the issue of Sunday shopping, I must say that depending upon who you talk to, if you were to question people today, and I know the government has done some polling on Sunday shopping, if you were in Cumberland County, there would be a very strong percentage of individuals, I would suspect, who would support Sunday shopping, at least in the business community. I somehow suspect the Minister of Economic Development might be on that side of the equation, but if you were to go to North Sydney, for example, Cape Breton North, I strongly suspect a large number of the constituents in the Minister of Energy's riding would be opposed to Sunday shopping. I base that, not on any specific data per se, but on the large number of petitions that came from Cape Breton North at the time the casino legislation was introduced before this House.

I must say, I received more calls from Cape Breton North than I did from my own riding during that particular piece of legislation. I would strongly suspect that it would be pretty much the same parallel on Sunday shopping. The minister seems to be nodding yes, so I would be quite interested to find out his perceptions and thoughts on this particular piece of legislation. Maybe it's an opportunity for the government to call for a free vote, and we will find out where the minister from Cape Breton North really stands on this issue.

[Page 602]

I'm sure if you went down into the Valley area, I am sure that the member for Annapolis North . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Kings North.

MR. MACKINNON: I do apologize, the member for Kings North would be very much opposed to Sunday shopping. I would think, based on his convictions. The constituency he represents, very traditional, conservative - small c . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And big C . . .

MR. MACKINNON: Well, presently, big C. I think the point is well taken, that it's a very Christian community, and tradition is a very major factor in the way they guide themselves in their lives, whether it be in schooling or social issues, church, business, you have it. I would suspect that they would be very much opposed to this particular piece of legislation.

In my constituency, I would suspect that there would be a slim majority that would support Sunday shopping for a whole variety of reasons. A slim majority, yes, I would say between 50 and 60 per cent would support, and that's based on different petitions that I've received over the years not only on this issue but on other issues such as the casino legislation. Also, based on my conversations with a large number of constituents during the last election, actually since 1988 when I first came here, so, I feel that out of the 26 communities that I would venture to say I have a pretty good sense of how most feel on this particular issue.

[8:00 p.m.]

Can we turn back the hands of time? I don't think we can because if you look back in some of the small rural communities in my constituency, for example, in Donkin, Tower Road, Birch Grove, Port Morien and some of the catchment areas to these four communities, essentially they're the outskirts of the mining community of Glace Bay. In fact, part of Donkin, which is known as Port Caledonia, that was in fact known as Big Glace Bay, and Glace Bay as we know it now was known as little Glace Bay and they were both part of and parcel of one community at one time, they were connected by a bridge back in the 1930s and then I believe it was the 40s or 50s the second bridge was put in and then when that washed out then we drifted apart.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm sure that the honourable members are very interested in some progress made in the constituency regarding road work and bridges and all that, but there's lots of time during Question Period and other avenues through this House. I'd ask the honourable member to bring his comments back please to the issue at hand and that's the principle of the bill that we're discussing at this time which is Sunday shopping.

[Page 603]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you. In fact, I really felt that I was laying the premise for that very issue and that is how attitudes have changed in various communities and the economy of scales have changed so dramatically in these communities that because of all these various factors this is one of the reasons this bill is before the House. We may not see it in simple form stand alone but all these factors contribute to the fact that we are debating this issue. Society is changing and whether it is the fact that in these small communities we have one corner store left. Should that be open on Sunday? Should it not be open on Sunday?

If this was 20 years ago there were at least one, two, three, four, five, five, six small community stores in these communities and they weren't open on Sunday. So, but now if you go into that community that one store that is left in all these communities, it's open on Sunday. It's by necessity and that is essentially the point I was making. All these things that have changed in time, rural Nova Scotia is not what it once was. We have become very urbanized, particularly over the last 10 years and it does have an impact. People's attitudes, their expectations, their demands and their needs and that's the point to which I was speaking in each of these communities because essentially we can't turn back the hands of time. We would like things to be the way they once were but I just can't see it happening. I'm sure that's the same in Cumberland County, I'm sure that's the same in a lot of rural communities across this province.

I'm sure if you were to ask the citizens of your community 20 or 30 years ago about Sunday shopping they would chase you out of town. It would be totally unheard of knowing the norms and conventions and the very Christian principles and the work ethics that they had, I don't think they would be working on Sunday not if at all possible. I know there are essential services. I heard the arguments about coal mines, I heard the issue about utilities, power utilities and so on but in large measure we're dealing with the retail industry here. It ties into the labour component and the protection of workers' rights; forcing people to work and reducing their ability to receive the benefits or the ability to receive those benefits that normally they would otherwise receive.

What happens to all the small private entrepreneurs, independents - for example, small furniture stores? I know in the community of Sydney River there are two furniture stores and very successful. My understanding is this will have a detrimental effect for them because they would have to hire more employees. It's almost like a family business, one of them. Will they be forced to start hiring employees that perhaps are untrained because for the first six days of the week, it's essentially a family operation, the seventh day is just too compelling for them. So what happens? It starts to get watered down, there's only so much money in the pot in certain parts of the province.

[Page 604]

For some of the larger metropolitan areas, I would think, perhaps some of the metropolitan MLAs would be able to speak with greater credibility on it than I would because they're here and they know and they experience and they see and they understand the dynamics of it more so than perhaps a rural MLA. I would respectfully submit that there should be some amendments to this particular piece of legislation before it goes forth. I do believe that the position we took initially is the right position. I believe our Leader, Danny, spelled that out more than a year ago, and all the polling and the fancy dancing around the issue the Premier has tried to do to accommodate all the different interests in his caucus is only coming back to haunt him.

Less than a year ago, five, six months ago, the Minister of Justice said it's not even on the radar screen. The issue wasn't even going to be discussed until the year 2005. Well, this is not 2005, this is 2003. Every time he spoke he had a different position and that's because of all the competing interests within the Tory caucus. I understand that because I'm sure it would be the same in the other two caucuses as well. At some point, you have to develop a consensus or a meeting of the minds and provide some form of legislation that will be the best balance.

Certainly the government's position has not been clear. They're trying to be on both sides of the issue as much as the NDP is. They can't be - either they want it or you don't want it. I fear much the same as what the Leader of the NDP did back in 1986 - her proposal was to download it onto the municipalities, let the municipalities handle that responsibility, the former member for Halifax Fairview.

It's amazing how after 17 years we've come full circle and only this time it's the government that's proposing this particular issue onto the municipalities. At least they tried, they backpedalled some and said, okay, what we'll do is just do it in the form of a plebiscite at the next municipal election.

Mr. Speaker, I made most of the points that I wanted to make. I wanted to make a few other points, but I don't want to indulge too much on your benevolence this evening. As you know, I like to use some extrapolated examples in order to make my point and that's one of the good things about debating on the principle of the bill.

I will be supporting this particular piece of legislation to go on to the Law Amendments Committee. I think there's some potential there to do some good. Unlike the Leader of the NDP, I'm clearly stating where I stand on this. I'm not going to be on both sides of the issue. I want this bill to go on so that we can make some improvements on this legislation. Thank you.

[Page 605]

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make a few comments on the government Bill No.2 - Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act, and Labour Standards Code. I have to say I understand it's traditional, and the practice, to probably start by saying it gives me great pleasure, but, to be honest, I approach this with mixed feelings. Partly because nothing in my experience or training or background has given me the training to actually speak at length on something about which I don't have much information or knowledge, nor of something that's not particularly important to my constituents. But I will take advantage of this opportunity because I'm really pleased and proud and, at the same time, humbled to be a member of this Legislature and I know our democratic rights give me this opportunity.

I say I am approaching this with mixed feelings for several reasons. The second one would be the fact that in all the campaigning I did during the July election, perhaps two people out of the hundreds and thousands that I might have approached during that four week campaign actually raised this issue on the doorstep. So I assume from that that it is not a major issue or concern with most of my constituents in Dartmouth South-Portland Valley. I've only had one phone call since the election on this issue, but I will try, during my comments, to both present some of my own understanding of the issue, but also to raise some of the concerns that these few constituents did raise to make sure that they are fully aired within the Legislature.

I guess another reason I have mixed feelings about it is because I think there are so many other weightier topics that need to be discussed on this floor. When I was going around campaigning, people were talking about the everyday issues that were affecting them as families and they were concerned. Most of the questions and concerns were around public auto insurance and the high premiums that they were paying, which resulted in many of them losing their cars or not being able to get insurance. The younger people were more concerned about the high cost of university tuition. The seniors were particularly concerned about the financial impact of the long-term care assessment of their revenue and their assets. Many people of all ages talked about the long wait times to get hospital operations and medical procedures done and there were a number of other issues, including home care and the impact on family care givers. So these are some of the issues that I would feel more comfortable about debating and discussing in the Legislature, but there is one saving grace to all of this and I think that if we can, in some way, improve the Labour Standards Code, then I think we will be doing a real service to Nova Scotian workers and Nova Scotians in general.

So when one wants to talk about Sunday opening, I think the first issue that comes to mind is consumer choice. It's been well explained by a number of the previous speakers that Nova Scotia is the only jurisdiction in Canada where there is no some form of Sunday shopping. Over the years, there has been some relaxation, even in Nova Scotia, much more flexibility. We now have our tourist zones where stores are open. I understand some of the book stores can be open and various others. So it has loosened a bit and it has changed its

[Page 606]

focus from protection of the Lord's Day to non-religious reasons, providing a day of rest. Now the consumer choice would have an impact on a number of different groups of Nova Scotians. The tourists, for example, I have often overheard them complaining that they were restricted to certain areas of the retail business and they couldn't take advantage of some of the other shopping opportunities in metro on Sunday. Often the cruise ships would arrive on a Saturday night and leave on a Monday, so that really did impact on the economy or the loss of economy in the area, economic stimulation.

[8:15 p.m.]

On the other hand, I think a lot of our museums and public attractions, events did benefit from the fact that the stores were closed on Sunday, so that tourists did drift more down to the waterfront, go to the museums and take advantage of some of our cultural, recreational and sport activities in the area and across the province as well.

Another area this is going to have an impact on, I would say, would be for parents of younger children. As has been mentioned earlier, there are a larger number of single-parent families, and it's been a tradition in Nova Scotia and across Canada for the non-custodial parent to often have visiting with their children on Sundays. Having the opportunity of stores being open on Sunday, the non-custodial parent will then be able to take advantage and help that child get school supplies or buy clothing or just browse around the stores.

The disadvantage, I think, will be for parents of young children. A couple of issues raised have been the lack of daycare and services on the weekend. Certainly for parents who want to take advantage of that, there's obviously going to have to be quite a change in the daycare industry, if they're going to be able to accommodate working parents, most of whom are mothers. I think this is really going to be a serious issue.

The other problem with stores being open on Sunday is the fact that there is decreased public transportation services, particularly in metro, but also across the province. Groups of residents like seniors will have very limited opportunity to have a convenient schedule to get to the stores and to get home again. When seniors are carrying heavy loads of items that they've bought, this could be a real problem.

Mr. Speaker, many seniors rely on Sunday visits from their family and friends. One of the disadvantages of the open stores is going to be the possible impact by decreasing the number of family visits on Sunday. Families might then choose the option of going shopping rather than visiting their loved ones, perhaps in nursing homes or in seniors' apartments. On the other side, perhaps some families will take the older family members with them and give them an opportunity to have a drive to a store, help them with their shopping, also carry their parcels and drive them back home again.

[Page 607]

So you see, Mr. Speaker, for every issue you can take the argument and make it into an advantage or a disadvantage, which makes it very difficult to talk about this particular bill. The other area that it might have impact on are volunteers. There is actually a volunteer crisis in Canada, and Nova Scotia is reaching that state as well, where fewer and fewer people are providing more and more hours. It's already been mentioned about the time stress on all Nova Scotians, particularly on the volunteers. Often their fundraising activities take place on a Saturday, so they're not available to go do their own personal and family shopping. They might take advantage of the fact that the stores are open on Sunday.

That can be turned around to a disadvantage as well, because in a lot of stores, especially in the pre-Christmas seasons, volunteer organizations provide services within shopping centres and within downtown areas, such as wrapping presents and whatnot. So now they will be expected to also do their volunteer work on the Sunday.

There may be a negative impact on the craft shows and markets throughout the province, as the competition increases for the market on a Sunday. As well, many of the flea markets that provide significant economic stimulation in some communities would also suffer from that.

Another issue that I think has to be considered is quality of life, and again one can argue pro and against. Many people would argue that Nova Scotia is out of step with the rest of Canada because we don't have Sunday shopping. Every other province, territory and the federal government has some kind of legislation that allows for Sunday shopping, except Nova Scotia. Some see that as a weakness; others see that as a strength. They don't feel that Nova Scotia is out of step; they see Nova Scotia as protecting something that's meaningful to them and is actually far ahead.

A couple of the people who spoke to me about this bill were actually transplants from Ontario and, although they had taken advantage of Sunday shopping in their own province, one of the reasons they mentioned for moving to Nova Scotia was the fact that there was a slower pace of life and that there wasn't Sunday shopping and that there was more emphasis on family, and doing things together as a family, and they really were concerned that Sunday shopping was going to undermine that quality of life that they have come to prize so much here in this province.

Another issue is the constitutional one and I don't feel particularly qualified, Mr. Speaker, to talk on this, but I will say that it appears from some of the legal arguments that if the day of rest is for secular reasons and not religious regions it might stand, but certainly the Sydney test case that's going to happen, or start in next January, I think will answer a lot of questions for us. Originally, as I mentioned earlier, the Sunday observance legislation was primarily religious, but through the years it has opened up and is much more secular now, based more on the principle of providing a day of rest, or as I read in one background document, the pause of the week - I really like that. But I must say the saving grace I think in

[Page 608]

this particular bill is the potential of permanently making some of the much-needed changes to the Labour Standards Code.

I must say one of the things that has confused me a lot about the other Parties and some of the business in this House is what I view as lack of respect for working Nova Scotians - it almost appears that profit is so much more important than people and workers that anything done in the name of profit is acceptable. But I would like to argue the opposite, that if we have a safe, contented, well-paid workforce, then we're going to have a healthier province, we're going to have a more productive workforce, and there are going to be so many benefits ripple off from the workforce to all Nova Scotians, that it's going to be a much better place to live.

So I feel that anything that can be done to strengthen the Labour Standards Code would be a benefit to all Nova Scotians, and I'm also concerned about protecting the rights of the small-business people. My father's side of the family are small-business people from Queens County, and my mother's side were also small-business people from eastern Halifax County. I have seen the impact of various changes and lack of improvements and restrictions on small business people for many generations. I think if we improve working conditions for all workers, then we're going to strengthen our economy, and we're going to strengthen our communities. We're going to have less need for acute care services.

The research all shows that many things are intermingled in terms of making communities and people healthy and one of them is control over your work situation. Another is sort of the external environment in which you work. It seems fairly obvious that if these factors were fully understood, then there would be no hesitation at all in improving both the benefits and the working conditions for most Nova Scotians.

I just want to mention that everyone is asked to work longer hours with little or no financial compensation. Working Nova Scotians are asked to do much more with less and this, again, is putting a severe stress on the workers themselves and on family. I would like to suggest that I think the Civil Service itself is one of the groups most impacted by this. As government downsizes its various departments and puts more and more responsibilities on our civil servants, we're asking them often to do two and three different jobs at the same time.

But the group that I'm most concerned about is the part-time workers in our province. This, I would suggest, would be the majority of people who are going to be working on Sundays. As it is, they have little opportunity for educational programs, little opportunity for advancement, little opportunity to have some say in their working conditions and little opportunity to make adequate income to compensate them for the various and mixed shifts that they often are asked to serve during the week. Adding Sunday to the mix without compensation, both in terms of possibly benefits, but also adequate financial compensation, I think is going to seriously undermine the potential of that sector. I'm not suggesting that they don't have to be part-time workers, but they need to be treated with respect and dignity. In this

[Page 609]

bill, by offering them one and a half times the minimum wage for overtime, to me is not respectful of that sector of our workforce.

Some of the other benefits that I think need to be seriously considered in this bill are, as has been suggested earlier, reducing the work week from 48 hours to 40. Workers are increasingly asked to work longer hours away from their families and they should be properly compensated for that sacrifice. This change would be in line with what's happening with the Labour Standards Code in other provinces. I think, too, that indexing vacation time and vacation pay based on years of service is an obvious route to go. For example, workers with one to five years service would be eligible for two weeks vacation time and 4 per cent vacation pay. So five to 10 years service would translate into three weeks vacation and 6 per cent vacation pay.

It has been mentioned earlier that benefits like giving employees five days unpaid leave . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley has the floor.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, some of the other benefits that I think need to be considered are giving employees five days unpaid leave per year. It's been proven in research, and Ron Coleman of GPI Atlantic has done some on unpaid caregiving as well, but more and more people in Nova Scotia, particularly women, are now taking on increasing home care responsibilities for family members who have been released early from hospital, family members who have perhaps been institutionalized in the past but are now being sent home to their families and their communities.

In many areas where there is insufficient and inadequate daycare, women, in particular, are caring for grandchildren who can't get into daycare in order to help out their adult children and the list goes on and on. It would really help in these situations if working family members were able to have access to five days unpaid leave to assist these full-time family caregivers, but also to help out in times of emergency. This can happen as quickly as a phone call in the middle of the night - someone's fallen or someone's had a heart attack or someone's going to be released from hospital without notice to the family and a younger family member who has a full-time job somehow has to make other arrangements. It would be so much better in that emergency if they were able to take five days' unpaid leave and help out in the interim before the other arrangements are set in place.

[Page 610]

[8:30 p.m.]

I think another issue that needs to be considered by the government is the minimum wage. The New Democratic Party is on record as supporting a minimum wage that would increase each year by the equivalent of the consumer price index plus 2 per cent. There are so many working poor in our province - people who are working full-time, but unable to make adequate income in order to support themselves and their families. I think one research report suggested that a single mom on minimum wage would have to work something like two and a half full-time jobs in order to be able to afford the necessities of life for her and her children. That is an absolute disgrace.

Just as I'm concerned about the workers in the province, I am also concerned about the treatment of children and people living in poverty in Nova Scotia. There does not seem to be enough attention given to those people and I think in the long run any government is going to be judged by its ability to protect the vulnerable in our society. I think this is a responsibility that we all have to take much more seriously.

In closing, I would like to suggest that improvements to the Labour Standards Code are good for this province. They're not only good for workers, they're good for every resident, every elector in Nova Scotia. I know that they would lead to a more productive workforce and that's good for business.

I also want to suggest that there are many concerns from both our Party and others that I've talked to about the plebiscite. I think the first concern is the amount of money it's going to cost in a time when we know there are going to be significant cutbacks in department budgets. The few people who have mentioned this to me have suggested there are much better places for the government to put their money than on a plebiscite. They're interpreting it as a vacuum of leadership. That the plebiscite is in place of the government accepting that Sunday shopping is inevitable, despite the fact that there is a minority out there who are very seriously concerned about opening up Sunday to shopping, but it is inevitable . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Maybe the House needs to take a recess. The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley has the floor. I would ask the honourable members to please respect the member that is on the floor. It's difficult to hear a word she's even saying, there's so much noise in the Chamber. It's not fair to the honourable member who is in her place speaking. I ask the honourable members to give respect to the honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley who now has the floor.

MS. MORE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'm almost finished. I was just expressing the concern of our Party and some of my constituents for the plebiscite and was suggesting that many people are interpreting this as a vacuum of leadership on the government's part. That they feel the money could be spent much more wisely on the voluntary sector, on people in need and especially paying for some of the tremendous costs that are going to be the result of

[Page 611]

repairing the damage and providing the emergency programs and services from Hurricane Juan.

So, in closing, I would like to suggest personally I am in favour of Sunday shopping, despite some of the concerns that have been raised. I just wanted to make sure that the people who are concerned about it, I wanted to voice some of their arguments which is the reason I was giving some of the pros and cons. I really would encourage the government to amend the Labour Standards Code especially as part of this bill as it goes forward to the Law Amendments Committee which will give a further opportunity for more Nova Scotians to have some say and certainly for some of the special interest groups to present their points of view on this.

In closing I would like to say that I think we have a responsibility to do the least harm with this. We can provide that reassurance to workers and small business people by tightening up some of the protection that is in the current bill to protect them. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Bill No. 2, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act. It is very clear that the Liberal position on this is to support Sunday shopping, at the same time protecting the rights of workers. It is time in the regional municipality in particular, and in Nova Scotia, I feel that Sunday shopping is available to residents and especially to people who don't have the luxury to shop any other day of the week. People such as single parents, people who work more than five days a week, people that work shift work and simply don't have the time to go shopping. After saying that, we want to make sure that the rights of the workers are truly protected. I believe this bill does in some form protect some of the rights of the workers but there have to be amendments to it to further protect those rights and through the process of the Law Amendments Committee I'm sure those things will become very obvious and necessary to put in place.

You see also Sunday shopping will allow more work for part-time workers such as students struggling to pay for their education, the ever-soaring cost of education, especially university and technical schools today, and the ever-increasing cost of living that residents must bear. Especially here in the regional municipality where taxes are going very high all the time, property taxes are increasing in a never-ending rate and the pace of life is getting faster and faster, more and more difficult for people to keep the standard of living that they were used to. So it allows opportunities perhaps for mothers that would like to get a break from the family and work on maybe a couple of days a week, all kinds of positive things I think can come out of Sunday shopping. But again I stress we must protect the rights of workers. There is no way we want to see workers working seven days a week or even six days a week, and on having the right so they can refuse work or not to have to work on a Sunday if they prefer not to and for many, many reasons.

[Page 612]

One example I'll use for Sunday shopping, probably everyone here and everyone that's watching this evening can remember the example. On a Saturday evening probably about five minutes after 10:00 p.m. your water pipe breaks. So you need to get a part and that's the part that you don't have, your neighbours don't have and maybe you can't get a plumber that evening. So you're off to the store but it's too late and you have no water for the rest of the weekend. Monday comes, it just happens to be that Monday you're going away on vacation for two weeks. So you left your home in a mess and you don't have your problem resolved. If there had been Sunday shopping that Sunday you probably could have gone and got the part, simple repair and had your home back up to scratch again. Come Monday morning you can go on with your business as usual. There are many, many examples of things that you could possibly get on Sunday.

Last Sunday the government was wise enough to have a day of shopping on Sunday after Hurricane Juan and I can tell you from seeing what happened at the grocery store that opened around our area, it actually wasn't right in my area, quite a ways away, the shelves were almost bought out and there were lineups to get into the parking lot and through the cash register although every cash register in the store was open. Again all the people working at cash registers were students, pretty well all students, and it meant another day's pay for them on a day they could work when they didn't have to go to school. It gave an opportunity for them and their families to have the financial benefit of that and probably helped their debt load by reducing it to the fact that they could work on that day.

We look at the things you can buy on Sunday. One thing that you can buy on Sunday which is hard to believe in Nova Scotia but you can, is you can go to the cold beer store and buy beer on Sunday. That sure is not a necessity, but you can go buy it anyway. You can take your children out to a bar. Imagine, you can take your children to a bar, have lunch, and in the meantime one of the parents can go and play the VLTs. Well, that's not a necessity either. You can also go to the casino and spend the day at the casino, all day Sunday. You can go to flea markets. The NDP just indicated the flea markets are a good economic benefit to the community. Well, I've talked to many police officers about the flea markets in the communities, and it's a good place to sell stolen goods for one thing, for many people. For the people who go there to make a living off it, there's no tax collected and I'm sure there's no income tax paid either, for those people who go to the flea markets. It's a really good economic boost, that is. Although I do enjoy going to flea markets and occasionally buy something that hopefully comes from the right source and is not stolen.

You can buy gas on Sunday. I guess that's a necessity. I guess groceries aren't, so we can't shop on Sunday to buy groceries, but you can buy gas. You can shop on the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That sure is not a necessity. We have many companies that work around the clock now, seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Those employees know when they have to work, they get shift bonuses for working those hours, and they work the hours gladly and work with their employers to make sure that that works. They're more productive when they can work around those times, it keeps the cost of operating the business down.

[Page 613]

Now that's not to draw a comparison with Sunday shopping, because Sunday shopping is different. It's a different type of thing than a production facility, where you have to go and produce product on an ongoing basis in the most efficient way you can or else you can't be competitive in a world market.

The other thing is - it was already brought up here this evening, once - shopping is very difficult for single parents, parents who have to work five days a week and six days a week, sometimes. At least Sunday shopping would give them an afternoon where they can leisurely go with their family and do the shopping they need, for groceries or clothing or whatever they may need for their family to make sure that their needs are met.

What about the family who work split-shifts? One person works part of the week and the other person works the other part of the week, at no time are they together except on Sundays. Maybe that family needs to purchase a major appliance or something that they would like both, jointly, discuss and agree upon, what they're going to buy and just go through the process together, as most families like to do. That opportunity is taken away in that type of family. It's important that those opportunities are there for families as well.

Also, we go to the tourism industry, which is one of the biggest industries in Nova Scotia at the present time, although this year the numbers have substantially dropped, which is unfortunate. That means, if our numbers are dropping, it would be nice to have people able to spend money on a Sunday, if they're here, and they can leave more money. There are some stats from TIANS that indicate there will be a substantial increase in the spending. They quote some numbers here in the write-up that indicates, I believe, it's $24 million a year that they presently get, and they feel that could grow another - I'll just find the number here - $24 million now, and they could increase that, I believe, by another $32 million, if my memory serves me right.

That is quite a significant change. That would also increase the income taxes paid by workers, that would increase the harmonized sales tax that's paid into the province, which helps our ever-increasing debt problem that we seem to have, all of a sudden, appearing after the election. Also, tourists spend real dollars, dollars that come into the province. It used to be a 7:1 ratio, I don't know what the ratio is now, it's probably even higher now. For every dollar that someone from outside Nova Scotia spends here, it really has the same impact of $7 if we spend it ourselves because it's money brought into the province that wasn't before. It also promotes longer stays. So if we can get a few nights extra in a bed and breakfast or a hotel, it means that also the revenues there will go up, just simply because someone can shop, buy a souvenir, or buy something that they would like to get for that time.

[Page 614]

[8:45 p.m.]

Also in the regional municipality here there are a lot of people who come here to shop because we have some of the biggest and best shopping centres in all of Atlantic Canada and people come here from New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland to shop for the weekend or for a few days. It means if they could shop on a Sunday, they would be here longer, would stay one more night rather than going home on Saturday night. There would be another stay here so that we could possibly have more revenue from them staying that long. It also gives them an opportunity to stay longer and another reason to come here. A lot of people used to go to Bangor, and other places, from Nova Scotia and from around the Maritimes for shopping and it's nice to see them stay here in Nova Scotia, especially if they can shop on Sunday and stay here.

More spending simply means more revenues for Nova Scotia and the people of Nova Scotia. It's important that we make things convenient for people and easier for people to work and support their families. There is an ever-increasing pace, especially in the regional municipality here. One time you could see a lot of traffic here in the morning rush hour. It's the same amount of traffic now at 10:00 o'clock at night that used to be rush hour 10 years ago. So it just shows you that even at 1:00 a.m. or 2:00 a.m., there's a tremendous amount of traffic. So people are out seven days a week, all hours now, and it only makes sense that they should be allowed to shop on Sundays for the things that they really need.

The NDP has made a good point. They've indicated before that Sunday shopping is inevitable and why go for the cost of a plebiscite? I feel if we're going to do this, we should do this, we should go for Sunday shopping and we should have Sunday shopping and we should do it now. Never mind going to a plebiscite, we should have Sunday shopping and we should make the decision here to do it. Put it forward, and go forward with Sunday shopping. Make sure it's done rather than go through a plebiscite that will take another year and in the meantime opportunities are lost to New Brunswick and other areas where people are going to shop on Sundays.

I would ask anyone in the public out there who's watching to come to the Law Amendments Committee, make their views known about Sunday shopping. I know during the election campaign I talked to a lot of people about that. Most of the people were very much in favour, some people were against it, but I would like to see the people on both sides of it come in and state their case so we can make some solid amendments to the bill that will make it a lot better for Nova Scotians. Indeed, help Nova Scotia in a time when we really need the economy to grow a lot more. By inhibiting Sunday shopping we are truly inhibiting the ability of Nova Scotians to do what they should have the right to do anyway. It's a free market society, but yet we regulate everything under the sun and the way things are going, we're not going to be able to get up in the morning because we won't be allowed to. So it's time that we went forward with things like this and made them happen and make it easier for Nova Scotians and save the cost of a plebiscite and just simply go and do Sunday shopping. Thank

[Page 615]

you, Mr. Speaker, for this opportunity and I look forward to the further debate on Sunday shopping.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm delighted once again to sit in this Legislative Assembly and take the opportunity to speak on a piece of legislation called the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act.

Mr. Speaker, before you rein me in for straying from this piece of legislation, I just want to take the opportunity to congratulate you for being the Speaker of the Chair once again. (Applause) I have to say that indeed, as a former Deputy Speaker some of the sage advice that you had offered me, Mr. Speaker, certainly came to the fore and I recognize the tremendous responsibility that your Chair holds. With that, that's not to encourage you to allow me some latitude of movement in this because I know for sure that you will, in fact, rein me in.

Mr. Speaker, the issue of Sunday shopping is truly a very serious and important issue that this Legislative Assembly is debating. It also is not as simple as some of us want to see. There is a tremendous amount of complexity within this piece of legislation. Also, I was going to say that maybe I would only take a few minutes, but it would be most unusual for me not to stand here and speak for a short period of time on a piece of legislation. It's always been the custom to do so.

Before I do that, I do want to put in for a matter of record that, in fact, I was speaking with the general manager of MicMac Mall, Mr. Tom Babbs. Mr. Tom Babbs brought a very important part of this legislative issue to me that he wants the Legislature, particularly the government side, to be aware of. He wants the government to consider changing the hours from 1:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock, with respect to the business retail operation, to 12:00 o'clock to 5:00 o'clock. He says in doing a survey of the proprietors in the mall, in which he is the administrative manager, the general manager of, there are some very good and sound logical reasons for this. The very good sound logical reason for this is during the festive season, these holidays, people are going to parties, they are having special events at home and many of the people who work in the retail industry also have entertainment events they can partake in, as well. So in the festive season, one has to recognize that they play an important role in making sure they are a part of this.

If we look at the hours in which the piece of legislation recommends, it lets us assume that the store continues to operate for the consumers from 1:00 o'clock to 6:00 o'clock. You have to remember that those people who are employed in the retail industry then have to work an additional hour to an hour and a half after the store closes in order to ready the store for the next Monday for shopping, and that may be to readjust the inventory that's there, to place back some of the goods that the consumer has left or misplaced on the shelf, so on and so forth, Mr. Speaker. There is a whole host of things that cause the employee in the retail

[Page 616]

industry to have to put in in that additional hour after. So that's a very good and, I believe, a very sound and logical reason for possibly the government considering changing the time in which the hours of operation are.

That's not to say that I'm going to support this piece of legislation, nor does it say that I'm going to be against this piece of legislation. I will leave that to the Legislative Assembly as time goes on. I probably will wait for that to come back from the Red Room after second reading and come to third reading before I make a decision with respect to how I support it. So no matter what comments I make here this evening, it ought not to be implied that I am for or against Sunday shopping, and I want to make that perfectly clear. (Interruption)

Thank you, honourable member for Halifax Fairview. I've got the sage advice from the honourable member for Halifax Fairview who is implying to this Legislative Assembly that I ought not to listen to the Third Party members with respect to this piece of legislation. However, Mr. Speaker, I must say that there has been some sage advice from all members of this Legislative Assembly with respect to the issue of Sunday shopping.

I have to say that the constituency I represent, Mr. Speaker, is uniquely different than most constituencies. The effect Sunday shopping will have on the constituency I represent is far more significant than most constituencies in this Legislature. I represent a constituency that has the Burnside Industrial Park, which many of you will know, who are in the outlying areas, is closed for retail business on Sunday. If retail Sunday shopping business comes into effect, it then has to remain competitive and has to open the doors to retail Sunday shopping. This is a very big move and a very important shift for the people within the retail industry of the Burnside Industrial Park, I'm talking about Staples, I'm talking about some of the craft stores, I'm talking about a number of entities that are now closed on Sunday that will have to compete in that marketplace.

Not only that, Mr. Speaker, I'm talking about the employees, who we tend to forget, who are employed in the retail industry, and who will be expected to come and work on Sundays. Many of those people live in constituencies outside of Dartmouth North. They live in areas like Musquodoboit Harbour, as far away as Truro, maybe even Springhill. They live in the areas of Porters Lake and so on. Will their employer expect them to not only think about getting a babysitter or childcare worker for that particular day, but also their mode of transportation for that particular day to be employed within this particular industry?

If in fact this is going to be the competitive nature, and if we believe that this ought to be the way to go, then we ought to think about the implications - what kind of an effect that has with respect to changing the way people who are employed within the industry are going to work and those consumers who want to be a part, or want to take part, in an active industry, or a business whereby they want to have the luxury of being able to shop when they choose to shop.

[Page 617]

Mr. Speaker, I would sometimes think that growing up in a small community down the Eastern Shore that I have been able to plan, that I had that five- or six-day week in which to plan and make sure that most things were done within that period of time. I guess I'm from another generation. We were able to sit back and we were able to plan. I'm not looking at Sunday shopping as some religious connotation applies to it, but as a convenience for a day of rest. To me, this is significantly important. We want to make sure that as many people as possible have the opportunity, not only to be employed but to have leisure time as well. Leisure time, of course, is significantly important. It's important for families, it's important for growth, it's important for development. There is a whole host of reasons why one has a leisure day.

It just happened to be, historically, Sunday the day which most people had taken for a leisure day. At one time, it may have been for religious reasons. It certainly meant that families were brought together, and so on.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping everyone is listening attentively to my speech. I am sure that they're going to be swayed by the information that I provide them through my speech, the comments that I make through my speech. I just simply want to say that there are people who imply that Sunday shopping has a tremendous effect on the tourism industry. Now, I know that, as I said earlier, I've lived in a small community, a fishing village down on the Eastern Shore, where there were a number of people, tourists, who came and visited that community. My father happened to be a part-time guide in the tourist industry, and used to talk to people about Nova Scotia, Nova Scotians' laidback way of life, and how Nova Scotians were certainly able to provide an easy way of life, a leisure time on Sunday that these people weren't accustomed to.

[9:00 p.m.]

They also believed that, in fact, that was one of the reasons they came to Nova Scotia. If, in fact, we decide we're going to provide all the services that tourists want from where they've left, there's no distinctive advantage to us providing something unique to the tourist industry and to those people who come to this province. So many people at that particular time, I believe, back then there were no liquor stores open on the weekend. As a matter of fact, there were some villages that were actually dry. Yet tourists came to those villages and communities - they thought this was somewhat unique and different, but they enjoyed it. They enjoyed coming here and being able to go back and talk about what's not available in the province and it attracted those individuals to this province in a way that we probably don't see today because we've become so accustomed to delivering the same events and venues and so on to tourists that they would receive if they never left home.

[Page 618]

So I take exception to those individuals who think that people in the tourist industry actually want Sunday shopping. I believe that they come to Nova Scotia for much more than Sunday shopping. They come here because they enjoy the quiet, easy way of life. They come here because they enjoy the province, the environment, the scenery. They come here because of the historical value of the province, and not necessarily because we provide services such as Sunday shopping to them. I think that this is a fallacy and I don't believe it will do anything to enhance tourism by way of Sunday shopping.

Mind you, having said that, there are some few who come through the cruise ship industry who may want to partake in that kind of shopping venture, but for the most part they seem to enjoy downtown Halifax when they come here. They're able to look at the historical sites, it doesn't detract from them on Sunday. They have this easy day in which to go around and actually look at the city or the province with ease rather than concerning themselves with Sunday shopping.

Also, there are those who have indicated that people can spend their money on gambling, they can spend it at casinos and so on, on Sunday. Well, I have to tell you that I would be open and receptive as one of those who would say that yes, close gambling on Sunday. I'm not one of those individuals who believe the casinos should be open on Sunday. I'm not one of those individuals who believes that the bars and pubs should be open on Sunday with VLT gambling. I think there's a very good and logical reason to opening up libraries, community centres and having those facilities available to people on Sundays rather than the casinos. That's one of the logical reasons for that not being a good argument.

The other issue with respect to people who are employed within the industry. I do know that my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, and my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, spoke about the difficulties of people in the retail industry, primarily females, who were employed within the retail industry and those individuals being able to find babysitters for that Sunday, changing their schedule to meet those particular needs, as well as the transportation issues. There's a whole host trying to gear up to get to their place of employment. We all know that on Sundays public transit in the metro area is not very good with respect to providing those levels of service. In the rural communities, it's virtually non-existent. It is a tremendous difficulty with respect to resetting the time and schedule of those in the retail industry, particularly around women.

We talk about the plebiscite, Mr. Speaker, and I'm just curious as to why we decided to tie the plebiscite to municipal elections rather than to a provincial election. I believe if we are the legislative body or the government that's introducing the piece of legislation then, in fact, the plebiscite should follow through with this level of government. If it's the provincial government that's processing this legislation, then, by all means, it should be during a provincial election campaign in which this becomes a plebiscite issue. I don't believe that it's of any significant value to put it through the municipal political arena and have it on election day, which would be October 2004.

[Page 619]

Mr. Speaker, the life of this government may not be any more than two or three years and, therefore, we would very well have the opportunity to put that piece of legislation on the back of the provincial election campaign. The plebiscite in itself, I don't know what we may uncover because as you and I both know, at municipal election time, voter turnout is significantly low and if there is any validity or any support with respect to the outcome of the election when you have less than 50 per cent of those voting on a plebiscite in this province. Often in municipal elections, the voter turnout is approximately 35 per cent to 45 per cent; rarely does it reach the 50 per cent level. If those are the individuals you are relying on to provide you with the data or the information, it may not necessarily reflect the wishes of the majority of Nova Scotians.

There is also some talk with respect to improvements in the Labour Standards Code. Mr. Speaker, I want to say this to the House, you know, we can craft all the labour standards legislation we want, but if an employer wants to make sure an employee is going to meet the commitments of the employer, then all the employer has to do is craft an application that at least lets the employer know if that employee is going to be flexible or not. Let's assume, for an example, that an individual who is well qualified for employment, one whom, in fact, understands the sales, who knows the point-of-sales systems, who has learned the suggestive art of retail sales and has become very familiar with respect to the retail industry, but that individual, for some apparent reason, doesn't want to work on Sundays. That individual virtually is excluded from possible opportunity for employment because on that application there may be the section to say, what are your flexible hours? I doesn't matter what kind of legislation you craft, there's always a way to work around the piece of legislation.

So although I want to say that here is an opportunity to at least enhance an improvement of labour standards for citizens in this province, it is not the panacea that one ought to believe is there because, as I have said, there are ample opportunities to look at this with respect to the advantages or the disadvantages that the employees may have with respect to being employed within that industry. The retail industry, Mr. Speaker, is not an industry that's open to unionization so there's not somebody there to speak on behalf of the individuals with respect to the benefits. To me, that's significantly important.

It's extremely difficult to organize the retail industry simply because of the kind of services that it provides. I can tell you that there has been ample opportunity and there have been many labour movements that have actually tried to unionize the retail industry which, in fact, would guarantee some protection and would at least give me a kind of comfort level with respect to Sunday shopping. I don't necessarily, Mr. Speaker, see that comfort level within the crafting of legislation. I can say that until I see the piece of legislation that is actually crafted and brought back here for third reading and if there are amendments to the legislation, then, in fact, only then would I be able to make a judgment with respect to just how effective that piece of legislation might be.

[Page 620]

We talked about providing convenience to the citizens of Nova Scotia, particularly to the consumers of Nova Scotia, but I make note that we, as politicians, don't open our doors to be available and accessible to Nova Scotians. Are we prepared to open up our offices on Sunday and open up government to those individuals who are inconvenienced and who are unable to access government because they are employed in two or three jobs during the week? Mr. Speaker, I would say to you that there is not one single soul in this Legislative Assembly who is quite prepared to do that but yet we're quite prepared to say, look, for the convenience of ourselves those people in the retail industry will work an additional day or whatever and we will provide in those comforts, we will try to make the legislative changes to satisfy their particular needs but nonetheless, we are speaking with two voices here. One, we say it is convenient and okay for them to provide the services to Nova Scotians, yet we say to ourselves, it is not convenient for us to open up offices and provide access to Nova Scotians who, in fact, need government seven days a week.

Mr. Speaker, I would say, if we were truly interested in turning with the time, not that I particularly agree that we ought to turn with the time, but I think if we were truly interested and many of those who have stood here today to speak on this piece of legislation, if they truly believe that times have changed and that we are living in a new society and that we are there to provide the needs to consuming Nova Scotians then we, as government, have a whole host of consumers as well, we have a whole host of consumers who may find it convenient to buy their fishing licences on Sunday or they'll opt to get their driver's licences on Sunday. The thing is this, we provide a consumer level of service to those individuals but yet none of us will be prepared to open up government so that government works on Sundays for the convenience of Nova Scotians. (Interruption) Yes, Access Nova Scotia. Thank you, honourable colleague for Timberlea-Prospect.

Access Nova Scotia could very well open its doors. I am sure the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations would be open and receptive to that particular move. I am sure the Government House Leader would be open and receptive to providing services of government on Sunday as well to Nova Scotians. I can see him shaking his head and I can see that he is receptive, Mr. Speaker, to that particular move, which in a sense is what we're talking about here.

We're talking about protecting also a whole new industry out there as well, Mr. Speaker. I do know that my colleague, the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley, had touched on this to some degree, but we are talking about small corner stores that are part of the community, grocery stores that open on Sunday, that contribute to the community in a large way, that don't compete with the big box industries or the format stores on that Sunday, that are, in fact, part of the community, that give to the community, that donate things to the community, an industry we will seriously affect.

[Page 621]

Also, the flea markets and the thousands of people who have cultivated an industry unto themselves within the flea markets in order for some people to supplement their income, others to do fundraising for charitable organizations. All of this will have - if we open up Sunday shopping, particularly to those people in the craft industry, through the winter months - a serious effect on how they do business and how the craft industry is going to generate revenue for those people who are experts in that industry in providing the services to Nova Scotians. So when we think about Sunday shopping we have to be very careful when we craft a piece of legislation to the benefit of one segment of our society that that piece of legislation doesn't do harm or affect another segment of our society. I can tell you that there's a huge growing industry of people out there who are working poor, who use the flea markets to supplement their incomes and so on and who bring those dollars into their household and they've made quite a trade and profession out of it. Now when we open the doors to Sunday shopping the format stores will attract that business and many of those flea markets that operate in malls throughout the metro area, those individuals will certainly be sacrificed for the benefit of the larger consuming public and that of the big box or format stores.

[9:15 p.m.]

That's the concern I have with the legislation, the balance, the balance of providing a convenience for individuals who now find it extremely difficult to go out there and shop and buy their consumer goods because they do have two jobs. They're out there trying to make ends meet, it's an economy that we've created. It's one that we've designed because we've allowed it to happen. We have people out there, as the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley stated, earning two incomes just to barely exist and some people are even holding down three jobs. Do we want to continuously expand on that kind of an economy? Do we want to continue to go in that direction? Is that what we in government are all about? Or are we in government all about creating meaningful employment, developing a reasonable Labour Standards Code that protects those individuals who are employed within any industry throughout the province not only the retail industry but any industry. Many of the people are, but the retail industry is one segment of the employment field which in fact lacks the kind of pieces of legislation that in my opinion government should seriously be considering and looking at.

It's extremely difficult, and I do know that during the election campaign that in fact I campaigned like most of my colleagues on the single most important issue that came before them and that was public auto insurance, and long-term health care which were both very important issues in the constituency that I campaigned in. Also I received a number of calls with respect to Sunday shopping and a number of e-mails with respect to Sunday shopping. Now that might be simply because, as I've said earlier, of the kind of constituency that I represent; a constituency that now has a retail industry, a retail business sector. Burnside Business Park that now will have to open their doors or may open their doors to compete with other industries on Sunday in order to make sure that they're viable and they tap in on the only

[Page 622]

dollars that we have whether those dollars are spent over a six-day week or a five-day week, it doesn't matter, the retail industry is there to protect each and every one of their businesses.

So when I look at Staples and when I look at the craft store, when I look at many of the other retail stores, the golf stores within Burnside, I see that now they have to open their business and I see that now those individuals who have committed to those employees are not likely, because they're the experienced individuals in the field, to get that day off. So they will be travelling from Bridgewater, they will be travelling from Lunenburg, they will be travelling from Truro, Musquodoboit and other places to come to their place of employment on Sunday. It is a very, very important issue here that we have not considered. Not only that, have we considered the impact of Sunday shopping on local communities like Bridgewater, like Lunenburg, like Truro and so on where people decide to make a day of it to come shopping here. So they decide not to spend their dollars on Saturday in Bridgewater, Truro or Lunenburg, but decide to save their dollars and bring the whole family and come to metro on Sunday to spend those dollars. What effect does that have on the economy of Kentville, Windsor and those areas? They decided we're going to save it up and we're going to make that caravan tour, or a whole group of cars, trucks coming down to shop in Halifax and make a day of it, much like we have heard the people who talked about making a day or making an excursion trip to Moncton, those people who are from Lantz, Truro and the other areas, and they made the excursion trip to Moncton to shop on Sunday.

Well, most often people do that because that's what they intend to do, Mr. Speaker, they intend to make this a group event, a group of people get together and make this an event and they go up and they spend a day or a weekend and they spend the time at the hotel. I've heard it stated that MicMac Mall is the major shopping mall in eastern Canada and it's located in the constituency of Dartmouth North, and it certainly does a thriving business. As I believe my honourable Leader, the member for Cole Harbour, representing the constituency of Cole Harbour, had said that he sees as many vehicles from out-of-province at MicMac Mall as elsewhere.

I think that that's absolutely true, Mr. Speaker; I know, I've been out there and seen it and it doesn't necessarily have to be on Sunday. It can be through any day of the week. My view of Sunday shopping is that we ought to be very careful with respect to implementing legislation that has a significant effect on an already existing economy. Whether we like it or not, that economy now exists with the local community grocery stores that now have to vie for every single dollar that they possibly can and see Sunday as a saving grace to keep them above water; those individuals who tap into the flea market industry and the craft industry in order to supplement or offset their incomes and bring those dollars forward.

I don't know what this piece of legislation will do, but let's assume that we're going to do this on a trial basis for six weeks leading up to Sunday and let us assume that somehow it touches the base of the public and the public says, yes, we're going to go for it, and let's assume that all of a sudden Sunday shopping becomes an everyday thing, my concern, Mr.

[Page 623]

Speaker, is we've already affected an already-established economy and we will certainly change that, but we've also changed the way of life in the rural communities. I'm afraid that there will be more businesses that will not be able to withstand or continue to keep their businesses viable by competing with the larger box stores in the metro area of Halifax-Dartmouth, in particular.

I think that we really have to weigh that. As legislators, Mr. Speaker, that's our responsibility. Our responsibility is not to pit one segment of the economy against the other. Our responsibility in this Legislative Assembly is to protect all the economies that exist within the Province of Nova Scotia and if we decide that we're going to make that shift, then we ought to be so extremely careful on how that shift is made and who's going to be careful and who's going to look at the way that shift is. I'm worried to say that it probably won't be government because government is primarily a reactionary body. It reacts to an issue; rather than be proactive and respond to an issue, it reacts. Unfortunately, that's basically what happens here.

I have to say there are also many people who will then be expected to come to work, who work in the fast-food industry because the malls will be expected to be viable. They will be expected to provide all those services to the consumer and so, in fact, there will be the opening of the fast-food outlets to provide people with coffee, meals and so on. Those individuals who now enjoy that as a day off, will now be expected to come and work there. These individuals are individuals who work for minimum wage, if not maybe 20 cents an hour above minimum wage. These are individuals who are in the industry who are only there for a short period of time, because they may require a raise or they may require other benefits, and the employer recognizes that their time has come to an end, so just simply lays these off and hires someone else and brings that individual in to do the job.

There is a whole host of effects around individuals who are not flexible within the fast food industry, which are located in malls and so on as well. So the people who will be hit here most and the people who will be hit the hardest, will be the average and the low-income and the working-poor of Nova Scotia. The reasonably wealthy will do their shopping anyway. They will always find a way to do their shopping. So what we're doing is providing a level of service, in my opinion, Mr. Speaker - and I want to preface this by saying it's my opinion - when we open the doors to Sunday shopping to only a portion of society or a segment of our society that really could find a convenient time in which to do their shopping, for the most part.

My concern once again, is those people who have come to me, while I was campaigning, who are employed within the retail industry and who said, you can provide me with all the legislative comforts that you can possibly can with respect to bringing in Sunday shopping, but if I don't want to work on Sunday, what's to protect me? In fact there is virtually little that can protect the individual if he or she doesn't want to work on Sunday. The employer creates application forms, and in those application forms, when you go in they say,

[Page 624]

are you flexible, will you be able to work at this particular time and so on. For whatever reason, if you find you are not able to work on Sunday, it may not be for any religious reason but you don't want to work on Sunday, then you've lost that opportunity for employment. You may be the best-qualified individual but because you don't have that flexibility of wanting to be employed on Sunday, then you've lost that employment opportunity. That is reality. There is no piece of legislation in the world that can prevent that.

I say to those who are considering that we support this piece of legislation, we ought to look in the mirror and see how reflective this piece of legislation is, to the benefit of Nova Scotians. If it bounces back in our face, some five or 10 years down the road, like it does in Ontario or Manitoba or Saskatchewan, where very few people - the malls are basically bare - go out and do their shopping. Then what you've done is you've added an added cost to the consumer. The static goods within that industry are going to be passed on to the consumer. The hours of operation, if the money doesn't come through, then it's going to be built in to the cost of the consumer goods you buy in a six-day week in order to offset the cost of staying open on Sunday. Your lights, your heat, your electricity, your property taxes, all that just simply is not going to be borne by the retailer. That's going to be borne by you and me.

That's the important thing that you have to think about. In the provinces that I just mentioned, my understanding is that after the novelty of Sunday shopping wore off, it is difficult to see a whole host of people in the malls shopping. As a matter of fact, some malls have actually shut down. In Ottawa there are very few malls that are actually open on Sunday, if one. There's that notion that you might think that what you're doing by bringing this piece of legislation in is better or is for the common good of all of Nova Scotia, but it may not necessarily be. We have to think of that.

[9:30 p.m.]

I know that the honourable member for Preston mentioned he would have a leak within his plumbing services within his house and that he would enjoy the opportunity of going out on Sunday to buy that. I would hope that anybody who was thinking in advance would have some of that stored up and saved in the event that some of those incidents might occur. In fact, you wouldn't rely on Sunday or Monday in order to repair a damage that was done, but you'd be proactive and you'd think about having those things there. It was a lame excuse for having the opening of Sunday shopping in my opinion. Then again, that's just my opinion.

There must be something more. There must be something gained. There must be a value to society as a whole with respect to this piece of legislation. Quite frankly, from my sitting in this Legislative Assembly and my reading of the piece of legislation before me, I don't see that tangible, that evidence of the common good for everyone in Nova Scotia. When I think about this Legislative Assembly crafting legislation, I think about this Legislative

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Assembly crafting legislation that is in the common good of all Nova Scotians, in the best interests of all Nova Scotians and not just a segment of our society.

Hopefully, when this bill leaves the Legislature on second reading and crosses the floor into the Red Room and it becomes open for presenters, there will be presenters from the retail industry who will make presentations on the effects of Sunday shopping to them and their way of life. Hopefully, we will have a better opportunity to evaluate and assess the piece of legislation that is now before this House. We can do the expedient thing and we can say, yes, let's get on with Sunday shopping, let's experiment and let's go with the six weeks of Sunday shopping, but I can assure you, Mr. Speaker, when your town pays the price of the Metro area and people leave - and the business starts to slow down - on Saturday for an excursion on Sunday. I can assure those members from Kentville, Windsor and other areas that when that has an effect, it will then be too late to turn back the clock. It'll be too late.

My understanding, in Amherst, if you look at the regulated sizes for stores to be open on Sunday, almost every store except for two would meet the requirements now to be open on Sunday. But, they find it a very good reason not to be open on Sunday. One store in particular, I believe Margolians, would be one of the stores that are now affected by the people going to Moncton to shop. There are a couple of others. I have to tell you that this is something there's no turning back the clock on. It might look like the easy, simple thing to do now, but I can assure you that it's far too late to turn back the clock once you've implemented a piece of legislation that you have difficulty pulling back. It just doesn't happen. Most often, government doesn't rescind legislation, it continues to add on.

To me, that's a concern. The concern is that I believe there's no legitimacy with respect to - as I start to wrap up here - the argument that Sunday shopping is attractive to tourists. As I said earlier, the tourism industry is driven on something absolutely different, in my opinion. Also, I don't believe that it has that kind of an effect upon the economy of Nova Scotia. I also believe that with Sunday shopping, those in the retail industry - as I wrap up here, as I say - will be the losers. Those people who are the employees within the retail industry will be the losers regardless of what kind of legislation we craft.

Mr. Speaker, finally, I would have to say that, in fact, there is a need to rethink when this plebiscite should be. As I said earlier, I don't think this plebiscite should piggyback on the municipal election, and as I said, the numbers aren't there on municipal election campaigns to truly do an assessment and evaluation of Nova Scotians' thoughts about Sunday shopping. I also believe that the numbers, although somewhat low in provincial elections, 62 per cent is a heck of a lot better than 35 per cent or 45 per cent of voter turnout and those people coming to the ballot box to vote on that plebiscite, despite what one might think. Once again as I said, I think it's important that if this is a piece of legislation that is crafted by provincial government, then it ought to be this government that piggybacks that piece of plebiscite upon its election campaign.

[Page 626]

Mr. Speaker, I'm quite prepared to fight a campaign on Sunday shopping any particular day in the constituency that I represent, and I do know that an awful lot of people (Interruption) Anyway, as I said earlier, just because I made particular comments it wasn't to imply that I support or disapprove of this piece of legislation. As a matter of fact, they're bringing the comments forward. So I want to tell you that, as I take my seat on this issue, I certainly will be awaiting the comments that come back from the presenters in the Red Room, and they bring that issue forward to this Legislative Assembly and on third reading. I will then make my decision. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and say a few words on this bill that's before the House, Bill No. 2. As my colleague for Dartmouth North indicated earlier, he is willing and ready to fight the next general election on Sunday shopping. It just reminds, me on the campaign trail in Clare I had an opportunity to knock on close to a little over 4,200 homes. I can tell you less than five people actually raised Sunday shopping at the door. So I can't really see the three political Parties, come next election, fight the election in Clare on Sunday shopping. I think there is going to have to be something else to campaign on.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start off by saying tonight that I was surprised to hear the Minister of Justice introducing this bill earlier this evening because this is the same Tory Cabinet Minister who said earlier that the Tory Government would not be revisiting the Sunday shopping issue until 2005. You just have to check Hansard to see what stand this Tory Government took earlier on this issue - and I'm sure there are a number of members who were here before the last provincial election that remember the Minister of Justice standing in the House and stating this time and time again, that Sunday shopping would not be revisited by the Tory Government until 2005.

So, Mr. Speaker, I was quite surprised to see the Minister of Justice standing earlier today and making some opening comments on this Sunday shopping legislation. So I hope when the Minister of Justice closes the debate on this bill - whenever that may take place - closing the debate on second reading, that he will clarify his position for the House. So I'm really looking forward to hearing more from the Minister of Justice to inform the members of this House why he and his government have changed direction on this issue.

Mr. Speaker, I don't believe this will happen. I don't believe this will happen. This Tory Government has flip-flopped on this issue stating that they wouldn't revisit this issue until 2005. So I don't think we need to wait to hear from the Minister of Justice to explain to the members of this House why he and his government have changed direction.

Mr. Speaker, Sunday shopping should be a question of choice, a question of choice for individuals and not for governments. There have been polls done in Nova Scotia time and time again and these polls continue to show that the majority of Nova Scotians want Sunday

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shopping. I just want to refer to an article that appeared in The Chronicle-Herald on Friday, December 13, 2002, A CRA Omnibus survey of 405 Nova Scotians showed 81 per cent believe, regardless of their personal preference, that people should have the right to shop on Sundays if that is what most people want.

Mr. Speaker, 81 per cent is very high, but we have seen, especially since 1998 when those numbers at that time showed about 50 per cent to 52 per cent were in support of Sunday shopping, since 1998 those numbers have been steadily on the increase. So with this poll indicating that 81 per cent of Nova Scotians, are supportive of Sunday shopping, personally I don't believe it's that high, but I certainly believe that the majority of the people of Nova Scotia are in support of Sunday shopping.

Mr. Speaker, all political Parties in Nova Scotia are aware of these polling numbers and polls that have been done, but I believe the time has come to show true leadership on this issue. There are more and more groups coming forward, speaking in favour of Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia. We've heard from the metro Halifax Chamber of Commerce. We've heard the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia - TIANS. We've heard the Hotel Association of Nova Scotia also speaking in favour of Sunday shopping. Furthermore, TIANS has estimated that businesses in Nova Scotia are losing approximately $24 million in revenues plus government is losing $3 million to $4 million in HST on top of this. At the same time, the tourism industry is also forecasting that we are probably losing somewhere around 300 jobs because of not allowing Sunday shopping, or year-around Sunday shopping.

Mr. Speaker, many businesses in Nova Scotia are losing money to neighbouring provinces and even here at home. One of the largest areas in the province that's the hardest hit to losing business is Amherst, in Cumberland County. Many residents from that area are travelling to Moncton on Sundays to shop. So, of course, we can certainly understand that the business community in the Amherst area certainly would like to keep those shoppers at home. At the same time we have to recognize, and this was highlighted earlier, that the tourists that are coming off the cruise ships here in Halifax, or even in Sydney, especially on weekends, again we are seeing businesses losing.

Mr. Speaker, coming back to this bill, this piece of legislation that's before the House does not go far enough. This legislation, Bill No. 2, allows Sunday shopping to start on November 16th for six weeks before Christmas. Again, this is not what the majority of Nova Scotians want. The majority of Nova Scotians want Sunday shopping year-around. Some people might say we already have Sunday shopping here in Nova Scotia. I'm sure every member could stand and indicate what services are being offered in their own ridings on Sunday.

[Page 628]

[9:45 p.m.]

Many businesses are already open on Sundays. The question, again, always comes back to, why are some businesses allowed to be open on Sundays and others are not. I have been asked that question time and time again. I'm sure all members have, even the ones on the government benches. Maybe, Mr. Speaker, it's time for the government to address the real issue of Sunday shopping in order to bring a level playing field for all, not just to allow some to open while others have to remain closed.

Again, back to this piece of legislation that's before the House, I'm pleased to see that the government is protecting workers from working seven days straight, from being forced to work on Sundays. I applaud the government for bringing some protection for workers. As our Leader had earlier indicated today, our Liberal caucus has taken a clear position on Sunday shopping, to allow Nova Scotians to shop every day of the week. Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, this bill does not go far enough. At the same time, I think we have to recognize even in these polls, not clearly 100 per cent of Nova Scotians are in favour of Sunday shopping. I respect that. I know this issue is a sensitive one for some individuals. But again, Sunday shopping should be a question of choice for individuals.

Unfortunately, the position that the government will take in the end, once this bill goes through the entire process - the bill is currently at second reading, it allows the members on both sides of the House to rise and make some comments on this bill that's before the House. Once the bill leaves second reading, the bill will then be referred to the Law Amendments Committee, to allow an opportunity to the general public of Nova Scotia, to those who wish to come forward and make a presentation, either to speak for or against this piece of legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure the bill that is before the House now, at second reading, I am sure there will be some opportunities to amend the bill. I say to amend the bill because as we're all aware, things have changed since the last election. Our Premier no longer has a majority government in the House of Assembly. Having been there myself a number of years ago, I know what that provides. Lots of fun, many opportunities, and at the same time, many challenges.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's more fun on this side.

MR. GAUDET: Yes. But from the earlier days, since I have been sitting on this side, the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage is right, some days, it's probably a lot more fun to be sitting on this side of the House. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I am sure we will have some opportunities after the general public does come in and speak at the Law Amendments Committee and brings their concerns forward. I am sure everyone will be heard. I don't anticipate that the Law Amendments Committee will

[Page 629]

be putting some time limits and setting limited days for the committee to hear what the people of Nova Scotia have to say on this piece of legislation. Again, it's an opportunity that the people of Nova Scotia will have once the bill leaves second reading and moves on to the Law Amendments Committee.

Then, Mr. Speaker, what happens to the bill after it leaves the Law Amendments Committee? After everyone, individual groups have been heard by the committee, the bill will be referred back to the Committee of the Whole and (Interruption) Yes, more fun, we'll have an opportunity to go through clause by clause to amend clauses along the way, if so needed. Then finally, once the bill leaves the Committee of the Whole House, the bill will move on to third and final reading. Again, there's more opportunities that lie ahead to really look at what's in this bill and to amend the bill along the way. So, I can tell you that our caucus is certainly looking forward to those days that lie ahead.

Coming back to this bill, this bill also allows businesses the choice to open on Sundays, if they so wish, from 1:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. So naturally all businesses aren't forced to open their doors on Sundays, the choice will remain with the individual businesses. I am pleased to see that the government has decided not to allow stores to open before 1:00 p.m. under this bill. So again I'm sure that there are many people who are pleased that the government has put this restriction on stores when to open on Sundays.

In closing, I think the time has come for government to deal with this issue once and for all. The time has come for government to show true leadership in addressing Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia now for all business, because we know that some businesses are allowed to open on Sundays. I'm sure we can all recall the days when there were probably no businesses open on Sundays but I think, moving on, especially in 2003, and I think this has been stated on a number of occasions, that Nova Scotia is probably the only province in Canada that doesn't allow Sunday shopping. Again, here's an opportunity for the government to show true leadership on Sunday shopping in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the government has also decided to hold a plebiscite next Fall, in 2004, during municipal elections, to find out what the people of Nova Scotia have to say on this issue. Again, I know in our county, where we have three municipal units, it will be interesting to see where the Town of Digby, where the Municipality of Digby and the Municipality of Clare will come out at the end of this plebiscite. It will also be very interesting to see province-wide, metro versus rural Nova Scotia, for example, in terms of what the residents across this province will decide. Let's not forget, when we look at the turnout on election day for municipal elections across Nova Scotia, the numbers aren't that high.

So, again, you really have to question why are we going to push it off at the same time that we have seen polls after polls, after polls and more polls will be coming out (Interruption) Government by polls. I think we all remember our Premier indicating that he would not allow himself to govern, to be shown the way, by the polls. Unfortunately, I think we can probably

[Page 630]

make (Interruptions) A few years ago, but I think we have seen the government take some action on a number of poll results in the last little while.

Again, coming back to this plebiscite. You really have to question why the government is deciding to piggy-back on municipal elections across Nova Scotia. Again, earlier today when the Minister of Justice introduced this bill, in his opening comments, there were very few details to tell members of this House, but to tell the people of Nova Scotia and to tell municipal units from across this province why this action is now being considered to be pursued next Fall.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move adjournment of the debate?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my pleasure. I will move to adjourn debate on Bill No. 2.

MR. SPEAKER: There is a motion to adjourn debate.

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 Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine we'll go into Public Bills for Second Reading. I think we'll do some Public Bills for Second Reading and also maybe tomorrow we'll have a short time on a response to the Throne Speech. (Interruptions) Pardon? Yes. On Thursday we'll be sitting from 12:00 noon until 8:00 p.m and on Friday we'll sit from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. or until we decide we've completed the business for the day. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 631]

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 9:57 p.m.]

[Page 632]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 251

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Monetta James 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 was held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with her nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Monetta James is recognized for her outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Monetta James on her nomination for this award, as well as for the dedication and drive she brings to this community, and wish her continued success in the area of community services.

RESOLUTION NO. 252

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Daisy Wade 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 was held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with her nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Daisy Wade is recognized for her outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Daisy Wade on her nomination for this award, as well as for the dedication and drive she brings to this community, and wish her continued success in the area of community services.

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RESOLUTION NO. 253

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Edward Matwawana 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 was held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with his nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Edward Matwawana is recognized for his outstanding achievement in the area of community services;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 254

By: Mr. Keith Colwell (Preston)

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

Whereas Gordon Warrington 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 was held in Edmonton on October 4th; and

Whereas with his nomination for the Canadian National Griot Award, Gordon Warrington is recognized for his outstanding achievement in the area of sports/community services;

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