Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-11

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

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Public Trustee, Hon. M. Baker 846
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 300, Beaton, David: GED Nat'l. Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 846
Vote - Affirmative 847
Res. 301, Hurricane Juan Aftermath: Cdn. Military: Assistance -
Applaud, Hon. R. Russell 847
Vote - Affirmative 847
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 17, Youth Secretariat Act, Mr. R. MacKinnon 847
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 302, Insurance: Conserv.-Lib. Scheme - Drop, Mr. D. Dexter 848
Res. 303, Fleury, Marc-Andre - Pittsburgh Penguins: Signing -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 849
Vote - Affirmative 849
Res. 304, Fin. - Equalization Prog.: Min. Efforts - Support,
Mr. J. Chataway 849
Res. 305, RCL Calais Br. 162 Ladies Aux. - Hurricane Juan Aftermath:
Assistance - Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 850
Vote - Affirmative 851
Res. 306, Timberlea Mites: Softball Champs - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 851
Vote - Affirmative 851
Res. 307, UCCB - Tech. Training & Research Ctr.: Reopening -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 852
Vote - Affirmative 852
Res. 308, Sports - P.E.I. Soccer Tournaments: Kings Co. Teams -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 852
Vote - Affirmative 853
Res. 309, RRFB/NSLC: Recycling Depot (Cent. Hfx.) - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 853
Vote - Affirmative 854
Res. 310, Breast Cancer Awareness Mo. (10/03): Vols. - Acknowledge,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 854
Vote - Affirmative 855
Res. 311, March Against Violence (Dart.): Organizers - Support,
Mr. G. Hines 855
Vote - Affirmative 855
Res. 312, Muise, Hector - Feeding Others of Dart.: Assistance -
Thank, Ms. J. Massey 856
Vote - Affirmative 856
Res. 313, Dwight Ross Elem. Sch.: Green Sch. Designation - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 856
Vote - Affirmative 857
Res. 314, Little, Barb - Books: Release - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 857
Vote - Affirmative 858
Res. 315, CIBC - Pt. Pleasant Pk.: Donation - Commend,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 858
Vote - Affirmative 858
Res. 316, M & S Food Service - Amherst Depot: Opening - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 859
Vote - Affirmative 859
Res. 317, Digby Area Health & Rec. Fair: Organizers/Sponsors -
Congrats., Mr. H. Theriault 860
Vote - Affirmative 860
Res. 318, Cellar Door: Championship Season - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 860
Vote - Affirmative 861
Res. 319, Gov't. (N.S.) - Minority: Liberals - Sole Opposition,
Mr. W. Gaudet 861
Res. 320, N. Sydney Dev. Assoc.: WEB Initiatives - Recognize,
Hon. C. Clarke 862
Vote - Affirmative 863
Res. 321, Celtic Colours Int'l. Fest.: Organizers/Vols. - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 863
Vote - Affirmative 863
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 88, EMO - Seniors/Disabled/Working Poor: Hurricane Juan -
Assist. Plan, Mr. D. Dexter 864
No. 89, Fin. - Service Cuts: Reasons - Explain, Ms. D. Whalen 865
No. 90, Commun. Serv. - Emergency Soc. Services: Food/Shelter -
Plans, Mr. D. Dexter 866
No. 91, Fin.: Updated Financial Statement - Table, Ms. D. Whalen 868
No. 92, Health - Budget Cuts: Patient Care - Effects, Mr. D. Dexter 869
No. 93, Health - Mammograms: Frequency - Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 870
No. 94, Insurance - Seniors: Med. Info. Requirement - Practice End,
Mr. G. Steele 871
No. 95, Econ. Dev.: C.B. & Cent. N.S. Railway - Status,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 872
No. 96, Hurricane Juan - Health/Surgery Patients: Release - Explain,
Ms. J. Massey 873
No. 97, Educ.: Northumberland Reg. HS - Safety Concerns,
Mr. C. Parker 875
No. 98, Agric. & Fish. - Hurricane Juan Aftermath: Fishermen -
Assistance Details, Mr. H. Theriault 876
No. 99, Educ. - Spending: Hypocrisy - Reconcile, Mr. F. Corbett 877
No. 100, Commun. Serv. - Hurricane Juan Aftermath:
Emergency Situations - Identification, Mr. R. MacKinnon 878
No. 101, EMO - Hurricane Juan Aftermath: Emergency Situations -
Dept. Contact, Ms. M. Raymond 880
No. 102, Educ. - Supplementary Fees: Low-Income Nova Scotians -
Concerns Address, Mr. L. Glavine 881
No. 103, Nat. Res. - Coral Reef: Protection - Plans, Ms. J. Massey 882
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 6, Public Service Superannuation Act 883
Hon. P. Christie 884
Mr. G. Gosse 885
Ms. D. Whalen 885
Mr. K. Deveaux 886
Hon. P. Christie 888
Vote - Affirmative 888
No. 2, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code 889
Mr. F. Corbett 889
Hon. R. Russell 893
Vote - Affirmative 895
No. 7, Labour Standards Code/Vital Statistics Act 895
Hon. K. Morash 895
Mr. F. Corbett 896
Mr. Manning MacDonald 897
Mr. Michel Samson 898
Hon. K. Morash 899
Vote - Affirmative 899
No. 8, Volunteer Protection Act 900
Hon. R. Russell 900
Mr. K. Deveaux 900
Mr. Michel Samson 901
Hon. R. Russell 902
Vote - Affirmative 903
No. 10, Municipal Elections Act 903
Hon. B. Barnet 903
Ms. M. Raymond 904
Mr. Gerald Sampson 904
Hon. B. Barnet 905
Vote - Affirmative 906
No. 11, Collection Agencies Act/Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act 906
Hon. B. Barnet 906
Ms. M. Raymond 907
Mr. Gerald Sampson 908
Hon. B. Barnet 908
Vote - Affirmative 908
No. 15, Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act 909
Hon. R. Russell 909
Mr. K. Deveaux 909
Mr. Michel Samson 910
Hon. R. Russell 911
Vote - Affirmative 911
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. C. Parker 911
Mr. G. Hines 924
Mr. H. Theriault 930
Ms. J. Massey 942
Mr. Gerald Sampson 950
Adjourned debate 955
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Oct. 10th at 9:00 a.m. 956
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 322, Gallagher, Kelly: Diving Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 957
Res. 323, United Comm. Travelers: Charity Donations - Thank,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 957
Res. 324, Fire Prevention Wk. (10/05-10/11/03) - Members:
Commitment - Thank, The Speaker 958
Res. 325, World Teacher's Day (10/05/03): Teachers (N.S.) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 958

[Page 845]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 9, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton West:

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government has neglected the roads and bridges in Nova Scotia.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

845

[Page 846]

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a report of the Public Trustee for Nova Scotia. It is the Annual Report for the Fiscal Year ended March 31, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 300

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

Whereas for achieving the highest score on GED tests written in Nova Scotia in 2003, David Beaton of Dartmouth has been awarded the GED National Award for Outstanding Achievement; and

Whereas General Educational Development (GED) is an international testing program for adults who have been unable to complete high school; and

Whereas the GED Testing Service presents a national award plaque annually to the person in each province and territory who received the highest score on the GED tests;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate David Beaton on his award and for taking the initiative to set goals and to do the work necessary to achieve them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 847]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 301

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

Whereas following 10 days of unforgettable service, the last of the Canadian military completed their cleanup efforts following Hurricane Juan yesterday and returned home; and

Whereas approximately 1,000 defence personnel were on the scene within 48 hours of the devastation of Hurricane Juan, including 330 Maritime Forces Atlantic personnel who spent countless hours and exceptionally long hours sawing, stacking, pulling, lifting and dragging tree upon tree from neighbourhoods throughout the impacted area; and

Whereas besides the Maritime Forces Atlantic personnel, students from the Canadian Forces Naval Operations School, the Forces Naval Engineering School along with crew members from HMCS Charlottetown, Toronto, Fredericton and St. John's also played a huge role in the cleanup efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud and commend the Canadian Military personnel who responded to our province in a time of crisis for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 17 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 511 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Youth Secretariat Act. (Mr. Russell MacKinnon)

[Page 848]

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

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I just want to rise today to welcome a couple of people to the House who are in the east gallery. She asked me not to do it, but I feel I must. Good citizens of the constituency of Yarmouth, who happen to be my parents, Howard and Diane d'Entremont. I would ask you to rise and receive the greetings of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests in the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 302

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

Whereas this Conservative Government decided to adopt the Liberal Party's approach to skyrocketing insurance rates, although on this issue Liberals are considered to be the least trustworthy political Party; and

Whereas the Conservatives went further, borrowing a failed method of restricting compensation to accident victims that was enacted by the Ontario Liberals in 1990; and

Whereas not a single witness has appeared to support the Conservative-Liberal coalition approach to auto insurance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Conservative-Liberal partnership should heed the advice from drivers, accident victims and insurance brokers and drop the car insurance scheme that means both higher rates and lower benefits for 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.

[Page 849]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 303

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

Whereas Marc-Andre Fleury was an outstanding goaltender for the Cape Breton Screaming Eagles and for Team Canada at the World Juniors last year; and

Whereas the 18-year-old star was picked number one at the NHL entry draft last year by the Pittsburgh Penguins; and

Whereas the young goaltender has been a fan favourite of Nova Scotia and officially signed with the Penguins last Monday;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Marc-Andre Fleury on making the Pittsburgh Penguins and wish him all the success in the NHL.

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 Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 304

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

Whereas our Finance Minister will head to Ottawa to urge his federal counterpart to adequately fund the equalization program, ensuring the same quality of services to all Canadians; and

[Page 850]

Whereas additional issues the minister will ask Ottawa to address are the federal commitment to additional health care and census relief; and

Whereas the federal government has reported surpluses in the tens of billions of dollars over the past several years, and so has the fiscal capacity to address the provinces' concerns over equalization;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House support the efforts of our Finance Minister as he prepares for his meetings in Ottawa and voice, as one, our need for an adequately funded equalization program.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 305

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

Whereas in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, thousands of workers worked long hours to restore vital necessities in our province, and the need to feed these workers is such an important task; and

Whereas the Ladies Auxiliary of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch No. 162 of Lower Sackville were called upon to feed the hundreds of line crews working to restore the power of thousands of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas Calais Branch No. 162 of the Royal Canadian Legion is always in the forefront in the time of need and is always ready to serve its members and all Canadians whenever needed;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Ladies Auxiliary of Calais Branch No. 162 for lending a helping hand in the wake of a devastating hurricane.

[Page 851]

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. 306

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

Whereas the Timberlea Mites captured the Nova Scotia Mite Softball Championship by defeating Newport in the final at St. Croix; and

Whereas the Mites are made up of boys aged eight to 10, and are coached by Kevin Cox, Ernie Hartling and David Bowen; and

Whereas the Timberlea Mites championship finished off a successful season;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Timberlea Mites players and coaches on their provincial championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 852]

RESOLUTION NO. 307

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 official opening of the newly renovated Technology Training and Research Centre at UCCB was held yesterday; and

Whereas this science and technology facility will house new speciality research laboratories, smart classrooms and international training space; and

Whereas this facility is also designed to enhance research and learning in microelectronics, petroleum, environmental and ecological areas of study;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate UCCB and all those involved with the opening of the newly renovated Technology Training and Research Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 308

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

Whereas three Kings County teams brought home the gold from the 8th Annual Winsloe West Royalty P.E.I. Police Association Invitational Soccer Tournament; and

Whereas the West Valley Under-16 Boys, the Valley United Under-14 Boys and the Kings West Under-18 Tier II Girls earned top honours from among the 85 teams from across the Maritimes that competed in the event; and

[Page 853]

Whereas this was the second year in a row that the Valley United Under-14 Boys have won at this premier soccer tournament;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate coaches Bill Reid, Kent Reading, Dale Sanford and Keith Fuller and all their players for their excellent showing at this year's West Royalty P.E.I. Police Association Invitational Soccer Tournament and wish them much success in the future.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

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 closure of Dave's Bottle Exchange on Charles and Agricola Streets left central Halifax with no local recycling depot; and

Whereas the Resource Recovery Fund Board announced on Tuesday, October 7th , that it will set up a temporary recycling depot in the parking lot of the Agricola Street Nova Scotia Liquor Commission outlet on Saturday mornings; and

Whereas the proceeds realized from this temporary depot will be donated to the Metro Food Bank;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and thank the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the Nova Scotia Liquor Commission for the establishment of a temporary recycling depot for the residents of Central Halifax.

[Page 854]

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.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): With your permission, Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction before I read the resolution. I'd like to ask the members of the House to please join me in welcoming to the Legislature today Anne and Phillip Irons of Sydney who are seated in the west gallery. Among other things, they're here to view the proceedings of the Legislature today and I would ask Anne and Phillip to stand and please receive the warm welcome of the Legislature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 310

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 is designated as Breast Cancer Awareness Month; and

Whereas in Atlantic Canada breast cancer continues to be the most frequently diagnosed cancer in women with more than twice as many new cases as lung cancer; and

Whereas detection of early stage breast cancer can result in survival rates greater than 80 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House acknowledge the many volunteers who have worked and continue to work this month on the many events to raise funds and awareness and recognize the importance of early detection in leading to greater survival rates.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 855]

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

Whereas North End Dartmouth residents will come together today to show their support for victims of violence in the fourth annual candlelight March Against Violence; and

Whereas Al and Carolyn MacCullough - the parents of 19-year-old Jason MacCullough who was murdered in 1999 - will once again participate in the march that was started in their son's honour; and

Whereas organizers are asking residents who are unable to attend the march to turn on their porch lights or step outside to greet the marchers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in showing our support for all those working so hard to make our communities safer and that we all pledge to work with our communities to bring an end to the violence in our streets.

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 856]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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

Whereas Feeding Others of Dartmouth fed over 25,000 people last year; and

Whereas this number has increased by over 1,000 during June, July, and August of this year; and

Whereas this program is helped out by many volunteers such as Mr. Hector Muise of Dartmouth East;

Therefore be it resolved that this House express its thanks to Hector Muise and all the others who are involved in Feeding Others of Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas on Friday, September 12th, Dwight Ross Elementary School reached a milestone when they were awarded a banner for having achieved the designation of Green School through the SEEDS Foundation; and

Whereas in order to earn this title, a school must do over 100 environmental projects; and

[Page 857]

Whereas the staff and students of Dwight Ross began this journey last winter and reached the magic number of projects in the second week of school;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate staff and students from Dwight Ross Elementary School for achieving the designation of Green School through the SEEDS Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas reading is an essential tool for Nova Scotia's young people to have; and

Whereas author Barb Little of Pictou County recognizes this and has donated three copies of one of her newly released books, Mimikej and the Far Too Big Moccasins, to the Pictou Landing Elementary School; and

Whereas Ms. Little also read to a group at the New Glasgow Library from her other new book entitled, Mystery at Port Royal;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Barb Little on the release of her two new books and thank her for her dedication to helping our children become better readers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 858]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas Hurricane Juan caused considerable damage to Nova Scotia and particularly the HRM; and

Whereas the parks and recreation areas of the municipality were certainly not spared from the destruction; and

Whereas the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce has donated $20,000 towards the restoration of Halifax's parks and recreation areas;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend CIBC for their community-minded action in this instance and encourage more of the same.

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 Economic Development.

[Page 859]

RESOLUTION NO. 316

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

Whereas M & S Food Service has recently opened a distribution centre in Amherst employing 95 people; and

Whereas with this depot opening, the M & S Food Service has turned into a national company, supplying its approximately 800 customers with food products, napkins, and cleaning supplies; and

Whereas the depot sits on a larger area of land leaving room for expansion if the company decides to expand in other directions, something President Russ Mallard is already contemplating;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate M & S Food Service on the opening of their new Amherst depot and wish them continued success in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I wish through you to introduce a guest in the west gallery. A gentleman from my area, Richard Gaudet who, today, drove to Halifax with a truckload of lobster traps for the fishermen who lost their gear in the hurricane. Stand up please. (Applause)

[Page 860]

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

RESOLUTION NO. 317

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 Digby Area Health and Recreation Fair was held last Saturday in the Digby Royal Canadian Legion; and

Whereas this was the first year the fair expanded to include recreational activity which contributes to keeping people healthy; and

Whereas the Digby Disabilities Centre and the Bear River Branch of the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia were new organizations to take part in this fair;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the organizers of the Digby Area Health and Recreation Fair and all the organizations involved in making the event so successful.

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. 318

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 Cellar Door won the 2003 Mont Division championship of the Colchester Men's Slo-Pitch League; and

[Page 861]

Whereas The Cellar Door also won the Mont Division's regular season pennant with a 17-8-1 record; and

Whereas The Cellar Door's path in the championship tournament included a 2-1 record in the round robin portion and a 2-0 record in the best of three final;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate The Cellar Door on its championship season and wish the team continued success in the seasons to come.

Before asking for waiver, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that the member for Colchester North has a son-in-law who is a star member of that team.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas the member for Halifax Chebucto and the member for Pictou East have a problem with our Leader receiving too much media attention; and

Whereas these two members and their Parties have once again combined forces to complain about our Leader exercising his right to be a member of the Public Accounts Committee; and

Whereas these two Parties also agree that we should remove $147 million from social programs to pay for the tax cut;

[Page 862]

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize the only opposition during this minority government will come from the Liberal Party as we witness new occurrences of the Tories and NDP joining forces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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

Whereas having a presence on the web is becoming increasingly vital in the information age we live in and the North Sydney Business Improvement and Development Association's WEB Initiatives program is helping non-profit groups get on-line for a low cost; and

Whereas program coordinators Shannon MacAulay, Josh MacDonald and Cory Gillard show clients how to update their Web site which leads to lower costs in the long term for these organizations since they will no longer have to pay someone to update their site for them; and

Whereas Web sites are designed to connect volunteers to the not-for-profit organizations - so far eight have taken up WEB Initiatives on their offer since the program began in January;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the North Sydney Business Improvement and Development Association for creating its WEB Initiatives program and thank the program coordinators for sharing their skills and helping non-profit groups create a presence on the worldwide web.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 863]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 321

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

Whereas the 7th Celtic Colours International Festival begins tomorrow in Cape Breton; and

Whereas this week-long celebration of music, heritage and spectacular Fall colours brings international recognition to our province; and

Whereas the festival has an economic impact of nearly $6 million;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend best wishes to the organizers and the hundreds of volunteers for yet another successful year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 864]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:28 p.m. and end at 1:28 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

EMO - SENIORS/DISABLED/WORKING POOR:

HURRICANE JUAN - ASSIST. PLAN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it has been 11 days since Hurricane Juan left families without power. Many of them have had to throw away freezers and refrigerators full of food. For families on employment support and income assistance there is a little help, although it doesn't come close to replacing what they have lost. However, for seniors on the Canada Pension Plan, for people on CPP disability, Employment Insurance or just the working poor, there is nowhere to turn for help. I want to ask the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measure Act, where is the plan for these Nova Scotians?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I would pass that question to the Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as the minister responsible for emergency social services, I would encourage those people to contact the local branch of the Department of Community Services.

MR. DEXTER: You know, Mr. Speaker, the fact that that minister would pass that question off to the Department of Community Services is shameful. What we need from the Emergency Measures Organization, the minister responsible therefore, is the plan that he has in order to help protect the lives of those people. Catherine McCarthy is one of the unlucky seniors who will not get one penny from Community Services. She lives on a modest pension, lost a winter's worth of frozen food. She was told by Community Services to go to the food bank. Well, the food bank is already overtaxed and I want to ask the minister, how are Catherine McCarthy, and the others who don't qualify for aid, supposed to get by?

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member would know, Community Services has made available emergency funding to their clients. I would also point out to the House the extreme generosity of the Nova Scotia Homebuilders Association. Yesterday I attended a brief ceremony with them at the Halifax Food Bank with Diane Swinemar where they presented cheques totalling $25,000 to help that organization to replenish their supplies.

[Page 865]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister is just missing the point. These people are not to be thrown on the vagaries of charity. Those responsible for the Emergency Measures plan knew full well that there are many low income families, including seniors, who are left out of the equation. Nothing has been done to prevent those people from going hungry. I want to ask the minister, why did Emergency Measures allow thousands of people across this province to be left out of the plan?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly I would assume the member opposite would be aware that the Minister of Community Services is willing to review any case. They have emergency funding in place for food loss during the hurricane situation and I would encourage them to contact that department.

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

FIN. - SERVICE CUTS: REASONS - EXPLAIN

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to start by tabling a speech given by former Finance Minister Neil LeBlanc in 2002 in which he says, "we're now paying close to $900 million a year on interest payments for all those years of spending money we didn't have. That's what has to stop and will stop this year. To make it stop, we face some tough, unpopular choices. In reality, as Finance Minister, I only have two options: 1. Cut spending. 2. Increase revenues." That's a quote from his speech. Could the minister please inform the House why he is giving up $147 million in revenue while proceeding to cut services?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that when we tabled the budget, we tabled our plan for this year but what I hope that honourable member will tell this House, as she comes along with the question, is whether she and her Party support Nova Scotia getting a fair equalization deal. That's what they have to support. (Interruptions)

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in response to the minister's comment, I think it is certainly very appropriate for me to say that we do support fair equalization payments for Nova Scotia without (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table the report by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives which indicates that low income Nova Scotians making under $20,000 a year, and women, will receive the least benefit from the tax scheme. The NDP members might want to read it as they have in the past been concerned about issues facing women and the poor. We also know that when cuts happen, low income Nova Scotians and women will be the most affected. My question for the minister is, why is the minister making (Interruptions)

[Page 866]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. WHALEN: Thank you again, Mr. Speaker. My question for the minister is, why is the minister making low income Nova Scotians and women pay for the mismanagement of the provincial budget?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as we put forward our budget last year, the budget that was going forward, that provides opportunities and benefits for everybody. The honourable member has come right to the heart of the equalization process. It's a process that Nova Scotia needs. It's a process that Nova Scotia needs, it's a process all Canada needs, because those are the dollars that help us support all those programs for Nova Scotians.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the previous Finance Minister looked at both revenues and expenditures, while the current minister refuses to look at the revenue stream. This will mean longer waits for health services, fewer resources in the classroom and less money to pay for our roads. Can the minister explain why he wants to inflict pain on the people of Nova Scotia by relying solely on service cuts that will affect health care, education and our roads?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a question as to how are we going to provide services for Nova Scotians. I am delighted with the fact that the Liberal Party is now showing that they support a fair equalization agreement for Nova Scotia, because that's what all the provinces across this province are saying. We need that program to support the social programs that we all so desperately need.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - EMERGENCY SOC. SERVICES:

FOOD/SHELTER - PLANS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's very clear that the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act doesn't even understand that there is a problem afoot in this province. My question is going to be for the Deputy Premier. Over the last few days my office has been flooded with calls from people who can't seem to get any help. The most vulnerable people in Nova Scotia are being left high and dry by this government. The government keeps reassuring us that everyone is being looked after, and as you know there is no end to the phone numbers that they will supply. The problem is there are no answers at the other end of the line. My question is this, how does the minister plan to immediately address the need for food and shelter that exists in our communities?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to redirect that question to the Minister of Community Services.

[Page 867]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, the member would know that Community Services is in charge of emergency social services. We're working with the Red Cross on that. They've done an excellent job in terms of providing emergency shelter and food. With regard to your concerns about food specifically, for people who are not clients but clearly have a need, we would encourage them to call. We have, in fact, given out over 3,000 food vouchers so far. Staff have been working late into night and on the weekends, and they've done a great job.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister doesn't seem to understand that for many people in our society, life is still a struggle. It's hard to get by, and this event has simply made it harder. Jennifer Frame is living with a blue tarp over her living room. A large piece of her roof was torn off during the hurricane. She is on a fixed income. She has an eight-year-old son. She has extensive damage throughout her home and lost a large food supply. Her insurance company has told her they will give her $1,000 to fix the roof, not enough. Ms. Frame, yesterday, spent six hours on the phone, looking for answers, and didn't get any. My question for the Deputy Premier is this, what is your government going to do for people like Jennifer Frame?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to refer that to the honourable Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, this gives me the opportunity to address the House. We've made a commitment as a province to participate in the disaster relief program that we coordinated and have arranged with the federal government, the DFAA. Certainly that will be enforced, and application forms will be out shortly. Certainly, the member opposite would do his constituent the kindness or the duty to report that to the Registrar of Insurance, if the private insurance company is not honouring their policy.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what we're seeing here is exactly what happens to people when they phone the government and ask for help. They get passed from one person to the other, and ignored, given nonsense answers and no help. That is exactly what is happening here. Time is running out for Jennifer Frame and her eight-year-old son. They don't have time for John Hamm and Jean Chretién to get their act together. Families need help now, they don't need phone numbers, they need help. I would ask the Deputy Premier, how is your government going to provide immediate help to those who are most in need?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, families in need, I am sure, will be accommodated by the Department of Community Services, so I refer the question to the Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the Deputy Premier for referring the question to me. I would say that 3,000 food vouchers inside of a week is providing a lot of relief for Nova Scotian families.

[Page 868]

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

FIN.: UPDATED FINANCIAL STATEMENT - TABLE

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday the minister shared with the media that the losses associated with equalization in Nova Scotia could reach up to $160 million over three years. The minister said not to worry, we've found an extra $100 million from last year's budget. My question is, is the minister willing to table the updated financial statement from last year which reflects the newfound wealth?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is not quite correct. What I indicated, to people who asked the question, was that we would have to record some portion of that amount in the previous year's and that we were confident they would be balanced. I will say to the honourable member, our officials are meeting with the Auditor General as we speak. They will be finalizing last year's statement and these will be presented to this House and to the people of Nova Scotia when they're ready.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it has come to the point where this government even seems to want to hide good news. Will the minister inform the House when he first knew of the province's newfound riches?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member must have been listening to other people or to Opposition members, because what we have always told the people of Nova Scotia and this Legislature is that our financial statements for last year were balanced. We are not saying anything different, they are balanced and they're going to be.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we expected a surplus of $14.5 million from last year's budget but we're now told we have over $100 million and that's good news, I appreciate it. Enron used shifty accounting to produce paper profits when the reality was real money was being lost. My question for the minister is, will he tell the House if the newfound money from last year's budget came from a recalculation of the province's pension accounts?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I truly hope that honourable member is not suggesting that the Auditor General would put forward and would endorse a report that is not correct. I hope that she's not doing that. We will bring the report forward and we will have it available when it is completed, and I will file it with this House.

[Page 869]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH - BUDGET CUTS: PATIENT CARE - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this question is for the Minister of Health. On September 19th the Minister of Finance announced that the government was in trouble. With a looming budget deficit brought on by election time rebate cheques, this government announced across the board cuts. In making the announcement, the Minister of Finance said in a news release that the cut does not affect funding for patients in need of direct hospital care. Well, it seems that this is another broken Tory promise. The IWK Health Centre serves not only patients in Nova Scotia but many from across the Maritimes and beyond. Unfortunately, this government's political antics are affecting care at the IWK. Last week, under the cover of Hurricane Juan, the IWK quietly announced a hiring freeze. My question is this, Mr. Minister, how can you still hold to your promise that your government's budget situation will not effect front-line patient care?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to comment on the situation because the IWK authority is managing their budget and they are managing it according to their planning. I feel confident that health care will not be impacted as a result of their decisions.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table the printed version of the Web site of the IWK. Not only will the hiring freeze affect current and future needs at the hospital indefinitely, but authorization for any active postings have been revoked. We're talking about positions like resource nurses for child birth care teams when the IWK helps deliver an average of 12 babies a day, or a clinical psychologist for residential treatment programs and pediatric dentists. How much more front line can you get? So I want to ask the minister, why do you believe that maternity resource nurses, psychologists and residential councillors don't constitute front-line health care staff?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the facility has provided excellent care, as the member indicated, to not only Nova Scotian residents but residents from right across Atlantic Canada. I feel very confident that facility will continue to provide such care in the future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's a case of déjà vu when the member for Truro-Bible Hill was the Minister of Health. You might remember what he said - he said there would be no impact on front-line health care and then they proceeded to cut programs like the children's' nutritional supplements, and then the Minister of Education who cut the remission for students. Time and again this government has denied that patients or others will feel the pinch of their cuts and each time there's a different excuse. So my question for

[Page 870]

the Minister of Health is, I have a very simple question, who's going to feel the pinch of your government cuts next?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as a result of the government's management of its finances, we are in a much better position to be able to meet the future needs of the people of this province than we ever have been and we will continue to manage our finances in such a way that we can move forward and meet the priorities of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - MAMMOGRAMS: FREQUENCY - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A couple of weeks ago I met with a concerned citizen by the name of Anne Irons in my constituency office. She called me because she was concerned this government is not doing all that it can with regard to breast screening in our province. Three years ago when Anne attempted to book her annual mammogram, she was told that she was being flagged because of her age. By being flagged, she was told that she could only book a mammogram every two years. My question for the minister is, given that the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation states that the Nova Scotia program is available every year to women at the age of 50 to 69, why does the Department of Health flag women at the age of 50 and over to have a mammogram only every two years?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have a program that's being offered in this province. We have the mobile facility that travels throughout the province - it's working effectively and efficiently to meet the needs of Nova Scotians as best we can relative to resources.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, Anne Irons is a very persistent woman and thank goodness that she is. According to government guidelines, she couldn't have a mammogram in 2003. If it weren't for her insistence and the professionalism of the Well Women's Clinic in Sydney, she would never have gotten the care she needed after she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year. If she had to wait the whole year, who knows what would have happened? It would appear that this government is attempting to save money when professionals and statistics show that an annual mammogram for women over 50 is needed. My question to the minister is, why does this minister think it's more important to follow through with a $147 million tax cut when it's clear that the breast screening program could certainly use more resources?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are managing the delivery of health care in this province and we are doing it according to well-developed plans and we will continue to improve upon that delivery system as time evolves.

[Page 871]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's not just myself that's saying more resources are needed. Recently the coordinator of the breast screening program in the eastern region stated they had been given about $440,000 and told to do as much as they can with those funds. Yet, at the same time, the same coordinator stated that early detection is better quality of life and it's a cost saving. My question to the minister is, if early detection saves money, then why are women in this province, such as Anne Irons, being told they can only get a mammogram every two years at an age when statistics show the likelihood of breast cancer actually increases?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the guidelines that are put forward are established by professionals in health care delivery. It is well recognized that Nova Scotia has one of the best breast-screening programs in the country, second to none in this country, and it is set out by professionals and the guidelines are followed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INSURANCE - SENIORS:

MED. INFO. REQUIREMENT - PRACTICE END

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. Last Spring we were told that this government was taking steps to end discriminatory practices of insurance companies. That was after we revealed that seniors in this province were being specifically targeted by these companies. One very disturbing tactic is their attempt to intimidate seniors into providing personal and confidential medical information. My question to the minister is, what has this government done to end this discriminatory practice?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, possibly that member only woke up to the fact that seniors were being discriminated against back in the Spring but we were well aware of that last year. We put in place, as I think all members are aware and I think the seniors' community is aware, in August, regulations that caused the insurance companies to no longer discriminate on the basis of age.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my office has been contacted by Norman Earle and Evelyn Gaudet. They called us after receiving medical release forms with their renewal notices in late August and early September, respectively. I would like to table those forms. Mr. Earle said forcing him and his wife to sign these forms is discrimination and simply an attempt to drive up their rates. By doing some digging on his own, Mr. Earle found out that he didn't actually have to sign the form, although neither the insurer nor the broker told him that. But what about the thousands of other seniors who receive these forms and don't know that they're not mandatory? My question to the minister is, what is it going to take for this government to get tough on these companies and stop this intimidation?

[Page 872]

MR. RUSSELL: One of the things that we're doing, Mr. Speaker, to ensure compliance by the insurance companies is, for instance, fining them $1 million for transgressions against the Insurance Act. I would suggest knowing that that the Opposition should be doing all that they can to get this bill through this House.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, medical information is personal and private, and auto insurance companies do not have the right to this information, especially when the purpose of getting it from seniors is to evade the government's age discrimination rules. We raised this issue six months ago and we're raising it again today. My question for the minister is, when is the minister going to stand up for senior drivers and ban these intrusive medical questionnaires?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am not aware of the particular case that the honourable member is referring to, so obviously I am not going to comment on that case. But, however, I can assure the honourable member that if somebody is being discriminated against by an insurance company in contravening the regulations that we put in place on August 1st, they will be prosecuted.

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

ECON. DEV.: C.B. & CENT. N.S. RAILWAY - STATUS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Economic Development, who (Interruption) Mr. House Leader, the minister was there a moment ago. (Interruption) No, he isn't, you changed . . .

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I'll try again. My question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Mr. Speaker, the former Minister of Economic Development was loud in his contention that the railway section of the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia rail line had a plan and the future looked bright. That was pre-election rhetoric; we never did see that plan. Well the election is over and the member for Cape Breton North is no longer the Minister of Economic Development. Could the current Minister of Economic Development tell me, and all Nova Scotians, the current status of the railway and when we might see the plan?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly, the first reality is that the rail line is operating and this government does support the project thoroughly. There's no question that there is additional work, and we continue to work on the file. The exact date that we will be able to publicly put forward the study, I can't give that this afternoon.

[Page 873]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, in other words, the minister has no idea when the plan might be tabled to this House. That's the translation of what he just told me. There was no problem with the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia Railway before the election, there was a plan in place and the future looked bright. Now it's post-election period, and the minister gives an answer that does not come within light years of answering the question that I asked. Employees and stakeholders are worried about the future of that railway, and the member for Cape Breton North should also be worried about the future of the railway. The government has been silent on this issue. The former minister assured this House the railway had a future. Again, let me ask the minister the question, where is the plan for the railway, Mr. Minister?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the railway does have a future. This government supports that plan strongly. When it is completed and the costs are there, and the go-forward on that final plan is ready, I will bring it forward to the House.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the plan should have been ready months ago. They had a plan, they told this House. The previous minister said he had a plan for the railway. Now the current minister is saying, when the plan is available, he will have it tabled before this House. The people in my area are concerned about the future of the railway, the people who are working for the railway are concerned, and the businesspeople are concerned. All I'm asking this minister to do, if there is a plan, is to table this plan before the House, before the end of business today. If there is no plan, tell us there is no plan.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, obviously it's the honourable member opposite who is confused. Certainly the former minister tabled the plan. What's under discussion is infrastructure costs and engineering studies that had to be done on certain pieces of infrastructure. When that is completed, we will put it forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HURRICANE JUAN - HEALTH/SURGERY PATIENTS:

RELEASE - EXPLAIN

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, today I read that a young man was sent home from the QE II Hospital after having surgery for a collapsed lung. This is something that I have personal experience with. He was admitted on Wednesday to the hospital, had surgery on Thursday and was sent home on Sunday. That is a total of five days in hospital. With my own personal experience, that's not long enough a stay in hospital for that kind of drastic surgery. This patient was sent home to a powerless, cold home and was at risk of coming down with pneumonia. Mr. Minister, could you please tell the people of Nova Scotia, how can this happen?

[Page 874]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the incident to which the honourable member refers is indeed a very unfortunate incident. It was brought to my attention this morning, and I have certainly asked my department to get in contact with the authorities involved. It's my understanding that, indeed, they are doing a very thorough analysis of what led to this unfortunate situation.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Minister, when Juan hit metro, the QE II lost part of its roof. Staff had no choice but to move patients to other rooms, in a hospital that was already at 98 per cent capacity. The result is that patients were sent home too soon without necessary care in place. My question to the minister is, how many patients have to be put at risk before this government realizes that health care is underfunded and in a crisis?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable member that we are coming through what has been a very devastating situation in this province. The results have created tremendous strain on everybody's systems, including the health care delivery system. I can assure the honourable member that despite the unfortunate incident to which she refers, that every care was taken by hospital officials to ensure that people were not being sent home to situations that were inappropriate for their care.

[1:00 p.m.]

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, people working in these hospitals are doing the best job they can provided with the resources that they have been given. They're under stress and they're lacking resources. Yes, they're trying to do the best job they can, but when a patient is sent home to an unheated house and there's no follow-up home care and no prescription drugs given to kill this person's pain, no instructions have been given on how to change his own dressing, this shows that our government is not providing front-line health care workers with the necessary resources that they need to do their job correctly. My question is, when will this government start responding to our health care workers in a respectful way and start supplying them with the resources that are necessary for them to help the people who are sick in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, again, I would remind the honourable member that the situation that health care workers find themselves in, especially in the metro area, has been and, indeed, was recognized by the House yesterday, with the passage of a resolution; a very strained situation. I believe that the health care workers have responded extremely well under the circumstances and we're very fortunate to have the level of care that is being provided to our patients and the care and interest provided by health care workers in this very difficult situation.

[Page 875]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

EDUC.: NORTHUMBERLAND REG. HS - SAFETY CONCERNS

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. With the opening of the Northumberland Regional High School in Pictou West, comes a serious safety issue. There are 1,200 students at that school and the cafeteria is designed to house 400 students during the lunch hour. Many students travel to a local convenience store down the road, but there are no sidewalks and the school is housed just off the old Trans Canada Highway, which is still a very busy road. So I would like to ask the Minister of Education what consideration was given to students' safety in light of the lack of sidewalks when this school was built?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that is a wonderful new school that is now open, and, as the honourable member for Pictou West has said, there are about 1,200 students in there. The community put an enhancement in that cafeteria, as the honourable member knows, and it increased not only the cafeteria size, but it also allowed for theatrical productions. I guess you would call it a cafetorium, I think that is what you would call it. Safety is an issue, and I don't know the scheduling in that school, I do know that in a number of schools that they stagger lunch hour so students don't have the opportunity to go out and visit the local convenience store. I know where that is, by the way, exactly where it's at.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I will direct my question this time to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I spoke to the district DOT engineer in Pictou County who agrees that this is a very dangerous situation and something has to be done. Several community members, the RCMP, school and transportation officials and students met last week to try to find a solution, and they've agreed to meet again in a couple weeks. I've talked also with the warden of the county, and the municipality seems willing to cost-share on installing sidewalks to ensure a safer trip back and forth to the convenience store. So I would like to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works what his department is willing to do to address this accident waiting to happen?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm sympathetic to the problem, but the Department of Transportation and Public Works, I think as the honourable member is aware, does not do sidewalks. However, if the municipality is willing to come forward and support those sidewalks and apply under the infrastructure program of cost-sharing, it could well come under that program. That would come under the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. So I would suggest that the municipality should come forward with a letter or a request to that effect and we will see what happens to it.

MR. PARKER: Well, I thank the minister for that and that is certainly an avenue that will be followed up. I guess my final question will go back to the Minister of Education. It seems to me that this issue should have been addressed before the school was built but the

[Page 876]

time for that, as we know, has passed. The students are there now and there is a serious or dangerous situation. I will ask the Minister of Education what assurances he could give the staff, the students and the community in Pictou County, what will be done about the serious safety issue?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the safety of students is of paramount concern for every school. I would suggest that the approach that the honourable member for Pictou West has indicated that is going on now, which involves officials from the school, officials from the municipality, is the appropriate way to try and address that situation.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - HURRICANE JUAN AFTERMATH:

FISHERMEN - ASSISTANCE DETAILS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. In the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, many Nova Scotian fishermen are looking toward their government for help. My question for the minister is, what concrete steps have you taken to help disaster-struck fishermen get back on the water for this Fall's lobster fishery?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I think it is a great question to talk about today. We have been surveying the situation in the areas hardest hit. We are trying to get a really good assessment of what needs to be done and my people are open for phone calls. (Interruption) Well, the people in the department - thank you, honourable member - are open for phone calls to try to address the situations as they come up.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I have been able to secure disaster relief, some of which was delivered to fishermen today in this area in the form of donated fishing gear. (Applause)

My question is, Mr. Speaker, why has the minister not been able to provide the same level of support for these fishermen as we in the Liberal Party have done?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I commend the honourable member for that initiative. The initiative is ongoing within the department already. We do have fishery representatives in all areas of Nova Scotia and I invite fishermen to call our fisheries representatives to make the deals in getting gear to the fishermen who need it the most.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, as a fisherman from Digby, I can tell you that there is nothing more a fisherman wants to do than be able to go out on the water and fish. These fishermen have four weeks left before this season starts and if they had all the money in Ottawa and all the money in this province, they would not be able to get their gear ready in

[Page 877]

time for this season. My question for the minister is, through you, Mr. Speaker, why have you not followed the lead of the Liberal Party and secured fishing gear for these fishermen so they can get out on the water when the fishing season opens this Fall?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Thank you for the question and I just want to bring up the point that I have been in contact with a number of fishermen in the Pubnico area, one by the name of Eric D'Entremont, who has called us wondering how to get some of their extra gear and their spare gear to the fishermen and that is ongoing right now. So I again offer this, that our fishery representatives are on the ground. They do have phone numbers, by the way, and we will try to get gear to the people who need it the most.

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

EDUC. - SPENDING: HYPOCRISY - RECONCILE

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Almost a year ago we were told about the incident that happened at Macdonald Complex in Dominion. Because of subsidence, that school had to be closed. Now this weekend, Thanksgiving weekend, that school will be torn down. It won't be a very thankful time in the Town of Dominion. This government went on a $300 million spending spree in the pre-election time, but they never, ever once mentioned putting the Dominion school on their priority list, yet spent millions and millions of dollars in Tory ridings. I want to ask the minister, how do you reconcile this hypocrisy in your government?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, clearly the subsidence associated with the Macdonald school in Dominion was a problem. I really have a great deal of empathy for those students who are involved. I think the important thing to note is that the students who attended that school or who would have attended that school this year, from the feeder schools, are getting a first-rate education either in the Town of New Waterford or in Glace Bay. The building isn't there, but the educational needs of those students are being met very well.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we know that in small communities schools are the lifeline in a lot of these small communities. They are the centrepiece for community events and so on. Through no fault of their own, this community has been stripped of that school. They lost the coal-mining industry and the federal Liberal Government wouldn't belly up and come up with the amount of money because of the kind of subsidence. How long are the parents of Dominion going to have to fight with your government to get what's due to them, Mr. Minister?

[Page 878]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, about two weeks ago I was up in the Cape Breton area and I visited the Macdonald school sites, the high school site as well as the adjacent elementary school. I also met with parent representatives and board representatives and teacher representatives to discuss the issue that the honourable member brings to this floor today.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I've already heard from the Liberal Party over here, saying that their federal government is punitive and that they punished Cape Breton because they voted against them, so I will leave it at that. This school is going to be torn down this weekend, and your government is still refusing to do anything substantive. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on his final supplementary, please.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, there's a din in here. It must be hard being the Third Party all the time. I want to ask the minister, why won't you do the right thing and give the parents of Dominion back their school?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will be writing back to the parents of Dominion, the group with whom I met when I was in that area. I would like to remind the honourable member, and I think he knows this, that capital construction recommendations do come from the local school boards, and that particular site has not been included in their recommendations.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - HURRICANE JUAN AFTERMATH:

EMERGENCY SITUATIONS - IDENTIFICATION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. A week and a half after Hurricane Juan, thousands of Nova Scotians now need to restock their fridges and freezers and must begin to deal with the essential home repairs before winter. For some Nova Scotians this will be a relatively minor financial inconvenience but for many, those on social assistance and low income, the working poor, these expenses will put their family and personal financial situations into crisis. The point has already been made about soup kitchens and food banks. My question, directly to the minister, through you, is, what steps are being taken to identify those who are or who will be in a crisis situation over the next few weeks and months because of this unexpected expense?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member bringing up the question. As has already been well covered over the last week or so, we certainly encourage people who have been damaged by the storm, by loss of food in their freezer or trouble with their shelter, to contact their caseworker. If money is a problem for them and they're not a

[Page 879]

client, we would still encourage them to call the department. As was indicated earlier today, we have already given out over 3,000 food vouchers in the last week, which I think speaks for itself.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, many low-income Nova Scotians whose homes were damaged or food supplies lost may or may not have insurance, and even if they do the deductible would most likely make it impossible for them to make a claim.

[1:15 p.m.]

I'm going to switch to the housing component of this department. Given the fact that many of these individuals have received considerable home damage that will not be covered by insurance, what specific plans or contingency measures do you have in the housing component of your department to deal with these emergency situations?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, actually there's a two part answer to that. For small claims you should go through your caseworker. For larger ones, say over $1,000, yes, you should be contacting housing services. There are emergency plans in place that are cost-shared with the federal government under the RRAP program and people should avail themselves of them.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that sounds pretty eloquent, but the reality is there was quite a backlog even before Hurricane Juan. For example, in the Cape Breton region where there was no hurricane damage, there's a backlog going almost twice the number of caseloads that are generally accepted. In his own district, the backlog is greater than the entire caseload that's being serviced presently. Given the fact that we're coming into the winter months, many of these individuals who may or may not be community services recipients, will be faced with considerable increased heating costs. Is the minister considering, with his colleagues, reintroducing the home heating rebate program and at a higher rate than that meagre $50 per caseload that his government introduced last year?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think it would not be appropriate for me to answer that question because that program is administered through Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. I would say that in terms of the claims that come forward to housing services, it's done on a priority basis and the monies that are available there are allocated in that manner. Indeed, I would encourage the member opposite to join with us - unlike what he was prepared to do earlier this morning in terms of equalization - and work to increase the amount of RRAP funding. Thank you.

[Page 880]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN AFTERMATH:

EMERGENCY SITUATIONS - DEPT. CONTACT

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the minister responsible for EMO. It's been 11 days since Hurricane Juan tore across Nova Scotia and as we all know there are still pockets of households without power, water - in some cases - and of course, heat. Nova Scotia Power has been reduced to going street to street looking for these households. Throughout all this a huge part of citizens' distress has been the lack of information or conflicting information. It's still going on. Calls are still mounting in my office but now they're from people desperate to know where they can turn for replacement food, still sometimes for water or power, for roof repairs and for financial help for losses incurred during the hurricane. They can't wait any more. What can we do and where are they to turn for help?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of questions there. Certainly as the Minister of Community Services indicated, if there are situations - and there are many - that require immediate assistance, then I do urge them to contact caseworkers and officials from Community Services housing. On the issue of disaster relief, this government has already put in motion our participation in the federal/provincial cost-shared program and applications will be out shortly.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the minister responsible for EMO. I've been told that there's going to be a 1-800 number set up and some sort of customer service centres around the province where people can go for information about losses and what will be covered. Is this going to happen and, if so, when will it be up and running?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly to the House and to all Nova Scotians affected by the effects of Hurricane Juan, a very serious situation. Getting prompt and timely information and support to people, helping to fill out applications is this government's goal and that will be announced very shortly.

MS. RAYMOND: Okay, I'll change the subject now. My question is again for the minister responsible for EMO. I've been told that for homeowners, disaster relief monies will be to cover losses that are uninsurable and that make houses uninhabitable, and business losses have to be uninsurable and also make it impossible to operate the business. I have also been told though that fishermen's wharves aren't going to be covered. Wharves are uninsurable and fishermen will tell you that you have to have a wharf to fish to make a living. Where will wharves be covered or why won't they be covered?

[Page 881]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the Prime Minister and Premier of Nova Scotia are meeting today. Certainly those issues surrounding disasters relating to the commercial fishing industry, the commercial agricultural industry, and the commercial forestry industries are on their agenda as the highest point. Certainly, when those meetings are concluded, we will have more information for the House and the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - SUPPLEMENTARY FEES:

LOW-INCOME NOVA SCOTIANS - CONCERNS ADDRESS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Recent increases in supplementary public school fees have made it difficult for some families to afford public education in Nova Scotia. These fees have been escalating over the recent past and are now too high for students and their families to afford. Low-income Nova Scotians are having difficulties paying these fees which do not appear to be going away. My question to the minister is, how is the minister planning to address the concerns of low-income Nova Scotians who are faced with these prohibitive fees?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of supplemental fees by school students is one that has been around for quite some number of years and I think probably as long as I've been in the business - which is awhile. It doesn't make it any easier. I can say that no student is denied an education in our public schools because they do not have supplemental fees.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this government has given away over $70 million in their tax rebate scheme. We have also seen user fees increase for Nova Scotians, more over the past two years than any other province. It now appears this government favours increasing the user fees for our children to go to public schools. Therefore my question to the Minister of Education is, when will this government begin to address the issue of increasing user fees that our children pay to attend public school?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member implies that there is a fee for attending public school and that is not the case. The issue of supplemental fees - and I guess nobody likes them - are determined by school boards and in most cases by individual schools.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it is obvious that this government will have to eliminate $147 million in government services. Nova Scotia spends the least amount on government services of any province. Recent interviews with two of our superintendents have raised alarm. My question to the Minister of Education is, will this minister give enough warning to the people of Nova Scotia before he cuts programs in our education system to pay for the tax cut?

[Page 882]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there have not been cuts in education in this province; indeed, the funding has gone up consistently in the four and a half years this government has been in power. Really, one of the things that we are trying to do is to make up for the reductions that that previous crew had put in place. The announcement that was made by the Minister of Finance last week about going to departments and looking for some savings, public school face-to-face classrooms were specifically excluded.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

NAT. RES. - CORAL REEF: PROTECTION - PLANS

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Over a year ago we learned that Nova Scotia is a home to one of the few living coral reefs in the world. Recently scientists have started exploring this reef in much more detail. Coral forests are very rare and play a key role in ocean regeneration; in fact, scientists are still trying to uncover the exact relationship between coral forests and the regeneration of fish stocks. Mr. Minister, given the importance of this discovery, will your department be working with other government departments to protect this area?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if I got the gist of her question but yes, absolutely. This government, all governments mixed with other agencies, like the Department of Environment and Labour or the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, absolutely. We have sustainable forest practices in this province as we speak.

MS. MASSEY: Yes, Nova Scotia is incredibly fortunate to have uncovered this precious ocean area. Yes, there are important issues that need to be discussed with all the parties involved, some of which you mentioned: the provincial government, the federal representatives, the environmental groups and the fishery representatives. We must bring these groups together. Mr. Minister, can you tell me, will you take it upon yourself to organize a meeting with these groups?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I am sorry I did not hear the question clearly. The first question. But absolutely, I will meet with any group in this province for all the benefit of all Nova Scotians. I will also meet with the Department of Fisheries to see what we can do co-operatively.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, as we know these forests are a known source of regeneration but are still a great mystery. More research does need to be done but in the meantime we should all be focusing on how we can protect these areas. Mr. Minister, what timeline can you give me and what timeline are you willing to commit to have this meeting?

[Page 883]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I am not prepared to give a timeline today but I will tell you that I will take this under advisement. I will meet with anybody who wants to meets with my department. My policy as the Minister of Natural Resources is to have an open door policy. I will meet with anybody who wants to meet with me.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes and you have about 30 seconds.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Heritage Property Act. Nova Scotians are justifiably proud of their history and across this province communities and individuals alike work tirelessly to preserve and protect the symbols of our past and the very foundations of our culture. As the minister is also responsible for the important industry of tourism, he, too, must be aware of the large number of tourists who come here to appreciate our culture and enjoy our built heritage. Wonderful old homes, historic sites . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for Question Period has expired.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources, on an introduction.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to introduce to the House today, a citizen of my great community, the banana belt of Nova Scotia, Yarmouth, Mr. Danny Morrell. Stand up, Danny. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guest in the gallery today.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader on Government Business.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 6, Public Service Superannuation Act.

Bill No. 6 - Public Service Superannuation Act.

[Page 884]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to address second reading on the Public Service Superannuation Act. Indeed, I am addressing all Nova Scotians on the issue of fairness and worth in the workplace. I am pleased to propose amending the Public Service Superannuation Act and to repeal mandatory retirement within the Nova Scotia Public Service. Retirement at age 65 should be a choice, not a given.

Mr. Speaker, there are a number of employees participating in the Public Service Superannuation Plan who may be approaching age 65 that will benefit from this change, including all Civil Service employees, employees of Crown Corporations, Workers' Compensation Board employees, some Nova Scotia Community College employees and a healthy portion of the health sector.

Mr. Speaker, I did have an opportunity to provide the other Parties with the numbers of people who are coming to age 65 over the next few years. It is interesting to note that in 2004 the number of people coming up will be 20 in the Civil Service and 20 under the CUPE service arrangements. So that is a large number of people who will have the opportunity. They're not forced to take mandatory retirement, but they have the choice to do it.

[1:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this change will make it easier for government employees who turn 65 to continue working in the Public Service. We know that many older workers are capable of working and qualified and we value their knowledge and expertise. This amendment will give these workers the right to continue working at a job and in a career that they are not ready to leave. For those who want to stay at their jobs, they have something valuable to contribute to our province, to our co-workers and to themselves. We will not deny them this right on the basis of age. This amendment will bring Nova Scotia's legislation in line with current practices and human rights legislation in most other jurisdictions.

Many corporations and governments talk about succession planning and, Mr. Speaker, we should indeed do that. Succession planning is a very important part of any corporation and any large body and to have that proper succession planning, we have to have that continue smoothly. We have to have the knowledge and expertise gained by years at the Public Service and these people have gained that and they will be able to pass it on. I believe anyone working past the age of 65 has a duty to share their experience with their colleagues and to ensure the lessons learned are not discarded.

Mr. Speaker, over the last number of years an age extension has been approved by the Governor in Council on many occasions. There have been approximately eight to 10 requests per year for the Governor in Council to extend the terms of people. This amendment will eliminate that necessity for such an order. I want our Public Service people to know that

[Page 885]

we value their contributions and if they wish to continue serving the people of Nova Scotia, we will guarantee them that right to do so. I hope all members of the House will join me in recommending the repeal of this mandatory retirement age for those workers covered by the Public Service Superannuation Plan so that they will be able to make that choice and they will be able to continue to bring their expertise to the job in which they are working.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, as we look at this bill today, the full impact of this bill has not been determined. It's important that seniors' groups, labour groups and others have the opportunity to fully research and speak about this bill, to look at the concerns with the casual workers in that field. Since the 1980s, health care workers and other professionals have been on a casual list. The result is they have few benefits and those are some of the issues that I would like to discuss in this bill. Also, Human Rights only protects the people up to the age of 65. So what rights will they have after the age of 65? Where will their protection come from? If this bill is extending their age and they work until they're 67 or 68, who will protect their rights?

Those are just a few of the things that I would like to look at, Mr. Speaker, when we talk about that, the casual workers, those things. The concern is the impact this increase in retirement age will have on all the workforce. Casual workers have been held in these positions sometimes for 12, 14 to 16 years alone in these casual positions without any benefits and extending the retirement age, it's something I think that we need some more input on, like I said, from labour groups, from the seniors themselves. So I would like to see maybe that this bill would go, as our caucus referred it to the Law Amendments Committee at this time to have some input and discussion in more detail on this bill from the public itself. I think there are some issues in there that have to be looked at at this present time and I think that's where we should go with this at this present time.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak a little bit on Bill No. 6, An Act to Amend the Public Service Superannuation Act. Certainly this bill will bring us into line with most of the other provinces in Canada and many other states and so on in North America. I think in some ways it means we're catching up with the value of seniors, the knowledge and experience that they bring to the workplace, and we're really extending their rights and I think that's an important thing.

I think, at the same time, we want to ensure that the government is considering the opportunity for young people in the Civil Service. I don't think that this really precludes that, but I think it's important to mention that we need a balance between the two, because the Civil Service certainly needs a regeneration and opportunities for young people to join that.

[Page 886]

It comes in line, as well, with the succession planning that the minister spoke about. So I think that's a positive thing.

At present, we were told that only eight to 10 employees a year ask for this benefit, to stay on at work beyond age 65, which is available to people if they go through a particular process and look for an Order in Council. So I don't think that it's affecting a great number of people, and the statistics we have for the number of people approaching age 65, it's not a large number of civil servants but I think it does extend their benefits and it should be considered.

I agree with the member who spoke previously, that this needs to go to the Law Amendments Committee, so we can hear if there are concerns by any other groups, labour groups and so on. I read one comment in the paper saying that oftentimes there are employees looking for early retirement rather than extension or any obligation to work longer. I think we have to be careful that there is no obligation to do so, that it's simply an opportunity that's presented.

We will look forward to discussing it at the Law Amendments Committee. As it looks presently, I think that it is something that does bring us into line with the rest of Canada, and is a good way to go. Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss, as our Justice Critic and as someone with a passing interest in these issues, if I did not to get up and put something on the record around this as well. It's echoing some of the words of my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Nova, particularly.

I want to talk about two specific points. Broad policy-wise, in the principles of this bill, this is the tip of an iceberg that is only going to expose itself in our society over the next 10 to 15 years. This is the first piece of legislation where we are beginning to say that people can work past the age of 65. I would suggest to you, in the next 10 or 15 years, it won't be a may, it will be a shall. Given our pension funds, given everything else, we as a society - let's face it, people at the age of 65 are healthier now, they're able to work, where maybe 20, 30, 40 years ago when we first instituted an age of 65 as mandatory retirement, people weren't as healthy, their life expectancy wasn't as long. Now we see people who are 65 who still live very robust lives.

We're already seeing this, by the way, in Europe, where they're talking about moving the retirement age to 67 and slowly, incrementally, moving it up to 70. Why in Europe? Well, particularly because they have an aging population. They don't have as large an immigration program as we do. They don't have the same birth rate as we do. I was reading recently, Mr. Speaker, that Italy - Italy is what, twice as big as Canada, we have 30 million, they have

[Page 887]

about 60 million. In 20 years, we're expected to have 45 million and Italy is supposed to shrink to about 45 million people. It's such an aging population, and they don't have the birth rate, they don't have the immigration to make up for it.

So, in Europe, they're already moving, seriously considering moving to mandatory retirement being 67 and then higher, to 70. I know the honourable Government House Leader appreciates working at those ages and beyond. He will be 70 soon, so he will be appreciating very well. The fact is, Mr. Speaker, that we're talking about a small change to the Civil Service right now, but this is the beginning of a trend that will continue over time. Particularly for members in this House and people in Nova Scotia who are my age or younger, we're going to be the ones who are going to be feeding that pension fund to pay for that bulk of baby boomers who will be wanting to retire and there won't be that money to do it.

There is going to be pressure to increase mandatory retirement. I guess what I want to, with regard to Bill No. 6, make clear that there are policy implications. By opening this door, we are creating policy implications that will have a major impact on our society. Let's face it, there are a lot of people now who are 40, 50 or 55 years old, and even if they don't benefit necessarily from early retirement, may be looking at 65 as that age at which they can retire. That age is a moving target now. It might be 67 in a few years, it might be 70.

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

The honourable member Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has the floor.

MR. DEVEAUX: In this bill we need an opportunity to hear, at the Law Amendments Committee, from people who do have an expertise in this area. This also affects pension funds, it affects labour unions, it affects workers, it affects organizations that represent retired people. We must hear from these organizations to make sure that they feel comfortable with this and they understand the implications, not only for this bill but for this trend that will continue over the next few years.

The second point I want to put on the record is with regard to the Human Rights Code. It has always been entrenched, protecting employment rights of workers up to the age of 65 because it was always understood that 65 was mandatory retirement across society. So if you actually entrenched human rights in the Human Rights Code beyond 65 for workers, of course, the 66, 67 and 70 year old could use the Human Rights Code to argue against mandatory retirement. By now moving to a 67 as a voluntary age in which people can work, we're opening the door for potential - I'm not saying it's going to happen - but we have a problem now. We have a Human Rights Code that says that after 65 you have no human rights in the workplace. You can be discriminated against and there's no law against it. Let's make that clear. If you're 66 or 67 years old, you have no right, they can fire you and you really have very little rights. If you're in a union, there might be some rights, if you're in

[Page 888]

management or what have you, you don't have any rights and the Human Rights Code doesn't apply beyond the age of 65.

I suggest that this government, before this bill goes through the Law Amendments Committee must do a strict policy analysis to ensure that this is consistent with the Human Rights Code and if there are changes to the Human Rights Code that are necessary to make sure if we have a flood of workers, maybe it's only 10 a year, but I suspect that's going to increase, if we have more workers coming forward who want to work beyond the age of 65, or because of their financial situation have to work beyond the age 65, we better make darn sure that we have a Human Rights Code that's going to give them some protection. We don't need discrimination occurring to seniors, we already have it in other areas, we don't need it in this area as well.

So, we're looking forward to seeing this bill go through Law Amendments. We want to hear from groups, retired people, organizations, seniors, trade unions, workers in general, members of the Civil Service, people involved in pension funds. These are going to have dramatic impacts on all of them and it's important that we hear from them and we look forward to hearing about more in Law Amendments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the minister, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 6.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the debate and the comments by the other members on this bill.

I do want to reiterate, and the previous speaker was saying it might be the tip of the iceberg, that very well could be. What the intent of this today is to make it a right and a choice for those people who are coming up to age 65, rather than following the process of going through an Order in Council, I think we all understand that.

I do undertake, on the comments from the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, to do some research on the human rights issue of people who are going past age 65 and will get back to the House and we will certainly be able to provide that during the clause-by-clause reading.

Having said that, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 6. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[Page 889]

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 2, the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/Labour Standards Code.

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

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'll probably be the last speaker for our Party on this bill. There's been much talk about various levels of support of this bill and I'll gladly stand in my place today and tell you that I will be voting in favour of this bill to go over to Law Amendments and hope fully that's where this bill will be properly addressed with certain amendments.

A lot of people, when they get up to speak on this bill focus the vast majority of their time on Sunday shopping, which was a component of this bill. In reality it's just a very small subset of this bill. The reality of this bill is what impact it will have on workers and largely, unorganized workers in this province. It's important to note that it's been said about our Party that your problem with this bill is that we tell people it's inevitable. Well, I think that's just being cautious and right way in our thinking. The reality is that we can stand in this House and say that Sunday shopping is not going to happen and therefore we should all be against it or whatever.

We know - I think most of us in this House today have enough experience in reality that the courts will look at the existence of our legislation as it sits today and say it really doesn't jive with the reality of where Canada is as a nation, and we certainly have to move on and stop looking at Sunday as being a day, like the Lord's Day Act or whatever.

[1:45 p.m.]

Those are the types of things that I think, in reality, we can stand here and we can stand in front of that train and say, oh no, we're not going to allow this. Well, it's going to happen. Do I wish we were here today debating more substantive things than whether stores are going to be open on Sunday? I certainly wish we were, Mr. Speaker. I asked the Minister of Education today about a school in my community that's closing, not through lack of enrolment or anything, but due to a tragic disaster. We were extremely lucky that there was no one injured and there was no loss of lives. We were happy about that; but still, there's the tragedy of a small community losing its school. Shouldn't we be talking more substantively about that?

[Page 890]

I would say that if I went and talked to my constituents who live in and around the Town of Dominion and ask how is my time best spent in the Legislature, is it talking about trying to get a school back to the Town of Dominion or is it talking about Sunday shopping? They would very clearly tell me, fight for a school. We didn't send you there to see whether we could go to Sobey's on Sunday. That's not their concern. Their larger concern is, can their children go to school on Monday.

Mr. Speaker, that's what we should be talking about. We're not talking about - in my community - the problem of keeping our emergency room open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. That's what I would like to be talking about, keeping facilities open. Yet, we're here today because we're debating the government's bill, their agenda, if you will. We're not here talking about the substantive case of how we best protect health care in this province and more particularly, probably, for my purposes, in my community, we're not here debating that today, we're debating whether we can buy a dozen eggs on Sunday. In essence, it's really a no win situation. Most communities, if they need food on Sunday, can access it through some form of convenience store.

Really, when people come up here and say that this whole bill should be debated on the merits, whether stores should be open on Sunday or should they be closed on Wednesday or Thursday, that is not really, I believe, the essence of what's going to affect the majority of people in my community.

With that said, Mr. Speaker, I'm proud to say that I'm an active member of my parish, St. Joseph's Parish in Lingan. I'm a lay minister in that church, where I read actively, and my family participates in that parish. I see first-hand the lack of participation in many of our churches throughout this province. That could be a whole other factor of the debate of what it does to our day off, our day of rest, if you will.

The reality is that this bill, by opening stores on Sunday or whatever day of the week, is not really seriously going to impact people's right to go to worship. They're going to do it or not do it, whether stores are open or not. With all due respect to people who think that can be done, it just will not happen. People will go and will continue to go to their services as they see fit, whether a large chain like Wal-Mart is open on Sunday or closed. I don't really buy that that's going to impact on the participation of those who wish to worship on Sundays.

That said, the reality is, how do we protect workers? How do we expand to a seven-day-a-week retail operation in this province and allow retail workers to be protected? My first option would be to see a revision in the Labour Standards Code, which could be implied in this bill because, I would think - and I'm not trying to usurp the authority of the Clerks here - certain amendments under the Labour Standards Code could be done within the confines of this bill because it is a twofold bill and, just for more clarity, the actual name of the bill is An Act to Amend Chapter 402 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Retail Business

[Page 891]

Uniform Closing Day Act and Chapter 246 of the Revised Statutes of 1989, the Labour Standards Code, and that's where I would like to bring the bulk of my discussion today.

Mr. Speaker, under the Labour Standards Code, we, in this province, work a mandatory 48-hour work week which I contend is out of whack with the reality of today when our own Civil Service is basically based on a 35-hour work week and so on. Historically, in collective bargaining, the 40-hour threshold is usually the threshold we espouse to when clicking into overtime, whether certain agreements would say that you would come into overtime after working 40 hours. Other agreements would speak to the hours you work within a day, such as eight hours in a five-day work week, then you will be available for overtime at that point. But what are we going to do, when we see two things here, 48 hours is still too many hours and I would say that at some point it should seriously be looked at by way of amendment to bringing it down to 40 hours.

Another option clearly, would be to see that the Labour Standards Code reads that you would get time and a half of your rate, not time and a half of minimum wage, but time and a half of your rate, Mr. Speaker. For more clarity, if someone is working above the minimum wage, we will say $10, the time and a half would be equal to $15 per hour and so on. Another thing, I would think that if we're looking at changing the uniform closing day, that we treat that day much the same as we would a statutory holiday.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just remind the honourable member that it's Bill No. 6 that we're debating now, sorry, Bill No. 2. I wanted to see if you were paying attention or not when I said that. Pardon me?

MR. CORBETT: You almost woke me up.

MR. SPEAKER: Almost. I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to the principles of the bill, please.

MR. CORBETT: Certainly, Mr. Speaker, and that's why I am talking to the principle of the bill, I would have thought, on the Labour Standards Code side of it because, as I said, this is truly a multi, or at least a double-pronged bill, one that deals with the uniform closing day and the other is with labour standards. So if we're going to deal with labour standards, I guess what I'm saying is the labour standards portion of this bill is clearly lacking. I will take your good judgment on that, if I'm wandering too far afield, and I certainly appreciate any time you use your wisdom to intervene on my long-winded dissertations.

Mr. Speaker, with that in mind, I trudge forward. The idea that we should look at the uniform closing day as being akin to a statutory holiday that would allow us to pay time and a half to employees, or time off in lieu, so we could come up with something like that. If employers really believe that there is such a great need for them to have their doors open seven days a week and thereby probably encroach on workers' time off with their families,

[Page 892]

I believe then, therefore, we should see some more commitment from government in respect to the time off that they desire and that would allow it by way of, if you want to call it, a penalty to employers who want to use their employees when, I would say, in excessive hours or excessive days. These are items that I think need to be addressed and should be addressed over in the Law Amendments Committee.

I think we've clearly put forward our view of this bill, how this bill should work that if we just go forward and allow the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act without allowing some real extraordinary fences to be built around the idea of worker protection, then all is lost. What we've done in essence is that the problem we face time and time again in the Province of Nova Scotia is an imbalance of the scale between the employer and the employee. We give too many rights to the employer and with no real jurisdiction for the employee to have their say in what should be, by and large, a democratic workplace. If they would allow people to come in the door and know these things.

One other aspect that really makes this doable is the fact that we need a system where if employees were to make a complaint under the Labour Standards Code that it would be done in an expeditious way. That it would be fast-tracked, that we would have similar to an OH&S officer - that's the type of power we're talking about Labour Standards Code enforcement officers having.

In reality what we have to look at here is, we have less than 10 of those officers for the whole province. We have 10 officers who will be asked to police all these retailers from Yarmouth to Glace Bay. Now, it's just not doable with that many officers. So what we have to do is find a way to allow employees who feel they've been aggrieved in these situations that they have quick and speedy access to the resolution. We have to realize that many of these jobs, as stated before, are minimum wage jobs. Many of these people really don't have the financial wherewithal of a trade union in particular to represent them in any of these elongated disputes.

It's been my experience dealing with the Labour Standards Code officers that it's always hard to get reinstatement of an employee. Sometimes they will sit down and try to negotiate a separation deal, but it's a fact that by the time it gets to this level the animosity is so great between the employee and employer, there's really no reconciling it. I have to say, basically at this point, I agree with the officers when they say, maybe the best thing to do is for those two groups to sever the relationship because it's not a healthy one, it's one where the employer doesn't really care a whole lot for the employee anymore and vice versa. So what you have there is you've created a real adversarial situation in the workplace where the reality is that most of these workplaces are small and probably an average of 8 to 10 employees and when you have that type of dynamic going on in a small workplace, it becomes very onerous on that business. It becomes onerous on the employee if indeed there's a problem there festering on.

[Page 893]

I would ask the government to look at those situations that if there was a way to give the power to the officers to expedite these said grievances, that they could go in and make the decision much along the lines of the OH&S officers in this province, have that right to shut down an unsafe workplace.

I would ask the government that when this bill makes its way across the hall to the Law Amendments Committee that these amendments we've been talking about, if they're put forward that they're looked at in a very serious way. What we're really looking at here is a lot of people have said that - I say this tongue-in-cheek - I think one of the Liberal caucus members called it the way to make us a modern province. Well, I don't know if making people work more hours is any way of making this a modern province. Nonetheless, if that's their view, that's their view.

[2:00 p.m.]

What I do say is that if we're going to move forward in allowing retailers access to these employees for more and more of their time, then I think we have an obligation to these employees, to give them the best possible protection of any province in the country, that they be allowed to have the right, whether it's the right to refuse or we could build in other things that would protect the employees in these situations, so that they don't find themselves working seven days a week, that indeed if they find themselves in that egregious position that there is a way their government can expeditiously help them there to resolve this problem.

With those few words, Mr. Speaker, I will be taking my place. I look forward to seeing this go to the Law Amendments Committee. We will certainly go for the needed amendments there. I thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Government House Leader it will be to close debate on Bill No. 2.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the debate we've had on Bill No. 2. It is an important bill, and it's one that I am pleased to see moving on the Law Amendments Committee, where it can be examined in detail and amended, perhaps, as necessary. I've taken a few notes during the debate, and we will look at those as we go along.

Mr. Speaker, without further ado, I would move second reading of Bill No. 2.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 2.

A recorded vote is being called for.

[Page 894]

Ring the bells to the satisfaction of the Whips.

[2:05 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[2:22 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Morse

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Russell

Mr. Muir

Mr. Christie

Mr. Fage

Mr. MacIsaac

Ms. Bolivar-Getson

Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. Hurlburt

Mr. Barnet

Mr. Morash

Mr. Taylor

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Langille

Mr. Hines

Mr. Chataway

Ms. Massey

Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Corbett

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Dexter

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. MacKinnon

Ms. Whalen

[Page 895]

Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Glavine

Mr. Colwell

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Mr. Michel Samson

Mr. Steele

Ms. More

Mr. Parker

Ms. Raymond

Mr. Gosse

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Gerald Sampson

Mr. Theriault

Mr. McNeil

THE CLERK: Mr. Speaker, all present voted in the affirmative.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 7.

Bill No. 7 - Labour Standards Code/Vital Statistics Act.

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to speak on Bill No. 7, the compassionate care bill. As Canadians we're blessed to live in a country where health care is a top priority. We know that health care is the main concern of most Nova Scotians. Here in Nova Scotia our government has made a commitment to take the necessary steps to make the essential investments to provide better health care for you and your family. Unfortunately, many families know first-hand the challenges that come with caring for a loved one who is gravely ill.

Today I am pleased to introduce changes to the Labour Standards Code that will ensure informal caregivers have the support they need to care for their family members in their time of need. This bill will allow an employee to take an unpaid leave of absence for up to eight weeks to provide palliative care to a parent, child or spouse. This benefit will allow an informal caregiver to spend time away from work to care for a gravely ill loved one,

[Page 896]

without fear of losing his/her job. This bill complements the federal government's commitment to provide a six-week compassionate care benefit through the Employment Insurance Program, which will come into effect on January 1, 2004.

Through this bill, families can access support from their government when it is most needed. We all share a common commitment to make Nova Scotia a better place to live, work and raise a family. This bill effects an important benefit and protection for our family. It allows Nova Scotians to care for family members in their time of need. It will help lessen their distress and anxiety. It's a compassionate and caring initiative, Mr. Speaker.

This legislation is all-encompassing. All employees who have been employed for at least three months will be eligible for an eight-week unpaid leave. This legislation is strong, and employees' jobs will be protected while on the leave. This legislation is direct, applications for the provincial benefit is easy. Employees will only have to obtain a certificate from a doctor and make the necessary arrangements with their employer. This legislation is fair. The leave can be taken for any immediate family member, including a spouse, child or parent, or for a common-law or domestic partner and their child or parent.

Mr. Speaker, therefore, I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 7 today. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I wish to thank the minister for bringing this legislation forward. I think it's legislation that really mirrors what our federal brothers are doing, in particular in the federal arena, the work that the MP Peter Stoffer has done to bring this legislation forward and, indeed, what he had looked for originally was that it would cover the whole scope of a year's EI, 52 weeks. Mr. Stoffer fought the good fight, and we appreciate his putting this on the public agenda.

We thank the government for bringing it forward. I'm not here today to debate, at any great length, the idea that it should be more weeks. I wish it was, but I think it is the reality that we're moving forward. Society, they say, is judged by how we treat our people who have the greatest deal of misfortune. I think this clearly is one. What more measure of a society is there than being seen as allowing family members to care for their loved ones in their last days. Some could actually say that this is the least we could do. In the reality of our economy and how it's structured today, this is a move forward in being a compassionate province that recognizes the value that families place on being with their loved ones in this very dire time.

[Page 897]

[2:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, before I take my place, I want to again thank the government for bringing this forward, realizing that in a more perfect place I think I would want more, but I am clearly satisfied with what's happening here today. I hope that for the good of us all that this is not used very much, that we get on that road to wellness and we eradicate a lot of the diseases that would cause this leave to take effect.

Mr. Speaker, I thank the government, and I will take my place.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to add my voice in approval of this particular bill. Certainly our caucus will be supporting this bill. I congratulate the minister for bringing it forward. The bill proposes changes to the Labour Standards Code and the Vital Statistics Act and is referred to as the compassionate care leave bill. While this is a good bill, there are some parts of this bill that I guess we should be saying a few words about. What the bill does, really, is make some pretty significant amendments. Even though this bill mirrors federal legislation, it certainly brings it home once again to the need for compassion in dealing with one's relatives, particularly in the area of palliative care. This bill will do that.

Mr. Speaker, I hope that this bill is used, ultimately, to complement caregivers who are now in the field, professional caregivers, and not to substitute those caregivers. In other words, I would hope that the two would co-exist and that we still move, as a government and as legislators in this province, to try to improve the level of care we give to relatives and people who are confined to their homes with serious illnesses, particularly those who are suffering terminal illnesses and are in need of palliative care.

In the best of intentions of relatives to care for people, sometimes a little bit more is required than that. Sometimes we do need the professional services of home caregivers. I would hope that this legislation in no way restricts the ability of palliative care patients to be able to access that kind of professional service as well. I will take the government on face value here today that this will not happen, that this system will work and one will complement the other, and people who are experiencing problems with their health, terminal problems and who are in need of palliative care, not only from caregivers but from relatives, will be able to get that care in their own homes in their last days.

I believe the bill is a good bill. I believe it deserves swift passage through the House, and I anticipate that that will be the case, Mr. Speaker. Our caucus will be supporting the bill.

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

[Page 898]

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, today in the Speaker's Gallery is a resident of Sackville who has served government well over the last number of years, Sarah Reeves. I would like to introduce her to all members of this House. Sarah will be heading for British Columbia and taking up residency there as she pursues a new opportunity in her life. I would like members to welcome Sarah and congratulate her on her new endeavours. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Sarah, good wishes on her travels West, and hope she comes back to see us. Good luck, Sarah.

The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I just want to take this opportunity to say a few words on Bill No. 7. It is an important step for caregivers to be able to have some time off from their employment to care for loved ones who are extremely ill. I've certainly had the opportunity, as I'm sure probably other members have, to have presentations made from caregiver support groups which are popping up more and more throughout the entire province. I know that Richmond County has a very strong support group for caregivers. In fact, it's a group that meets, I believe, once or twice a month and it brings together caregivers, provides them with some information, provides them with support which is one of the most important elements for caregivers to have.

Mr. Speaker, while this is an important first step, one of the initiatives which was brought to my attention which I found extremely interesting and which I would be curious as to whether the House might look at adopting this type of initiative, it would have to come from the federal government, but certainly one would hope that this House would be willing to at least explore it. As many members know, the federal government has made a move in the last number of years under the Canada Pension Plan, what's called the child rearing drop-out provision.

What that does is it provides credit to mothers who have left employment to stay at home to have children or to raise children and it provides them with a credit in their Canada Pension rating for that time that they were not in the workforce because of the fact that they were helping to raise their children and it has provided them with a credit. Now, mind you, it's not a very big credit that's being provided, but at least it's a step towards recognizing that mothers have had to give up their ability to contribute to the Canada Pension Plan because of the fact that they have been at home providing for children.

One of the interesting initiatives that was brought to me by a caregiver organization was what if we were to call upon the federal government to put in place a similar program such as the child rearing drop-out provision for caregivers who leave their employment in order to provide care for a loved one, for an aging parent, for a child, whatever the case might be. I've had a number of caregivers who have come to me and said, look, I worked all my life. When I reached 40, 45, I had to leave work to come home to take care of mum and dad.

[Page 899]

So while they were happy to be able to come home and do that, the time that they left the workforce, they were no longer contributing to the Canada Pension Plan and when they went to apply for their pension, they then found out that all of those years that they didn't contribute were factored into the equation of what they should be getting for Canada Pension.

So here's an opportunity, I believe, Mr. Speaker, where this House might want to look at that, whether it be through resolution or not, but to call upon the federal government to possibly look at extending that provision of the Canada Pension Plan to be there to provide support for caregivers who leave their employment in order to provide care for a loved one because it is having a drastic effect. I know certainly of a number of caregivers who are now at the age where they are ready to retire who are now seeing the effects of having left the workforce, not only the loss of income but, more importantly, the loss of contributions to the Canada Pension Plan which is a very significant part of their income once they retire.

I thought it was a great idea when it was brought to me, Mr. Speaker. I do hope that there will be further opportunity to speak about it here in the House and I think it's something that I would be surprised if any member of this House would object to, but certainly something I believe that this House can take one step further along the way of what's being proposed in this bill and to call on the federal government to explore the possibility of providing that same type of provision for caregivers under the Canada Pension Plan. This is a good bill based on the decisions made by the federal government and certainly I just wanted to rise and bring forward that idea, hopefully for further discussion on another day.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 7.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the comments from the members opposite. We certainly will listen to any suggestions and look at them and we expect a speedy movement of this bill. So I would be very pleased to close debate on Bill No. 7 and move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 7. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 900]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 8.

Bill No. 8 - Volunteer Protection Act.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 8. Bill No. 8 refers to protection for volunteers and expands the protection afforded volunteers by assuming the full recovery of costs for actions brought against a volunteer outside of the present parameters within the Volunteer Protection Act. It's a very simple bill and I would now move second reading of Bill No. 8.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As Justice Critic for the Official Opposition, I wanted a minute to speak on it. This amendment itself is housekeeping. It just allows for solicitor-client costs for a volunteer who is sued and the matter is not one in which they have a claim against them.

I think I would be remiss if I didn't take this opportunity to talk about the Volunteer Protection Act. This is an Act that we passed in this House before the last election at the last Assembly, the 58th Assembly - it would have been, I think, two years ago that we passed this bill. I presume it's been proclaimed since then, but I must say there was a major delay. I had a lot of calls in my office from people, from organizations who were saying, we thought this bill had been passed and it still had not been proclaimed. It caused a lot of dismay amongst Nova Scotians who were saying, why was this delayed? This is an important piece of legislation to encourage volunteers to get involved, stay involved without fear that there's going to be either a frivolous or even more serious lawsuits against them and them having to be held liable jointly or by themselves.

It's important that this legislation, if it is proclaimed and I'm presuming that it is at this point, it's also important that some education be out there. I was speaking with a constituent of mine yesterday who is involved in the scouting movement and her position was she didn't even understand what the bill was about. She thought the bill was about they couldn't be sued or the fact that they couldn't sue us and all this sort of stuff. A little education in this bill would go a long way to ensuring volunteer organizations had a much bigger appreciation of what exactly is in the legislation, what their rights are now that the bill is passed, what their responsibilities are now that the bill is passed. Even a little brochure that would allow organizations to be able to distribute it to their volunteers so they understood what their obligations were or were not after this legislation is proclaimed, if it has been proclaimed.

[Page 901]

I would be remiss if I didn't encourage the government to do that while this bill was before the House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as the Justice Critic for the Liberal Party, I'm pleased to say a few words on the Volunteer Protection Act. As has been said by my colleague from the NDP, it does speak about providing a volunteer who has been taken to court on a matter which is termed to be frivolous or vexatious that they can recoup their costs for defending themselves in that matter.

But, I have to tell you there is still a great deal of confusion that exists around the Volunteer Protection Act. This government has not been very good in clearing up that confusion because as the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I have received a number of phone calls from volunteer boards, especially community economic development boards where the board of directors will be involved in the signing of contracts and the purchase and sale of assets and that there's a financial aspect to it. That's where you usually get your biggest concern from the volunteer groups.

I started getting the calls after the bill was passed, saying, we have liability insurance right now, with this bill can we cancel our liability insurance policy? That's a good question. I'm going to try to find out. So I called the Department of Justice, I speak with legal counsel there and I asked, as a result of this bill passing, does that mean that groups who have liability insurance coverage should now cancel their policy because they are now protected under the law with this Act? Oh, no. Don't tell them to cancel their insurance policy. This does not replace insurance policies for liability. Which begged me to ask, what does it do? Because, if this doesn't provide the adequate protection the government is telling us it does, why are we still telling these groups that they need liability insurance, which I'm sure you know yourself, Mr. Speaker, is becoming extremely expensive in the Province of Nova Scotia. It's not just auto insurance any more - liability insurance is one of the sectors of insurance which has also seen a very dramatic rise, in some cases even more dramatic than with auto insurance.

We need to be able to make sure that - I know the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage has said there needs to be better education on that and I fully agree. But I think the government itself needs to be sure on its own, when these groups start calling as to what information they are to be given because there appears to be conflicting information that is being sent about this bill, about what actual protection it does provide and how strong it is.

[Page 902]

[2:45 p.m.]

The last thing we want to see, Mr. Speaker, is any volunteer who has gotten on a board with the belief that they are protected under this legislation would somehow find themselves before the courts. While it's fine to say that with this particular amendment to the bill here, that it is now going to allow a volunteer to recoup any expenses from defending themselves, if it's found to be a frivolous or vexatious lawsuit, you know, often some of the individuals who want to take volunteers to court may not have the financial means or the assets to allow a volunteer to recoup their costs.

So there is still a great deal of concern that is going to remain out there even with the passage of this bill until we're able to clearly tell volunteers what their liabilities are and what their protections are and there needs to be a better education campaign. I have no doubt the minute that the media is going to pick up on the fact that there's an amendment to the Act passed, I will get the same phone calls and I'm sure the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage will probably get the same phone calls, to say, well, what is the status of this Act now? What actual protection does it provide? I would hope that the Department of Justice would have the information readily available to members of this House and to volunteers throughout this province who may contact them, looking for better direction on this and looking for information, where they can be assured that they are going to get accurate information on the specific intent of this bill.

Mr. Speaker, I do look forward to this bill going to the Law Amendments Committee to see if there are any organizations out there that may raise some concerns with this or may suggest any sort of amendments to this piece of legislation to make sure that we can continue to encourage as many Nova Scotians as possible to work as volunteers to help improve our communities throughout this entire province.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Deputy Premier, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 8.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the comments of both the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage and the member for Richmond are interesting and I wish I could provide you with answers to your questions which I think are quite pertinent. I know that, for instance, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage mentioned the lack of knowledge of some volunteer organizations of the Volunteer Protection Act and I think his point is well made that perhaps we should have a brochure that describes the bill and the entitlements under the bill and that that should be circulated to volunteer organizations.

[Page 903]

With regard to the member for Richmond, I'm not sure exactly why you're unable to obtain a satisfactory answer from the Department of Justice, to be quite honest. It would seem to me that if people already have insurance, that they should indeed retain their insurance, but I would think they are entitled to get the answer as to why they should not, in view of this, actually get rid of their insurance unless it is to accommodate the case that he brought forward later on where he said the person who was taking the action is unable to pay for the costs of the volunteer.

Mr. Speaker, I will pass those remarks on to the Department of Justice and my colleague, the Minister of Justice, and I'm sure that he will have the answers when this bill gets to the Law Amendments Committee. With those few remarks, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 8. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I want to just take a minute to recognize, in the west gallery, Jim Morton, who was the NDP candidate in Kings North in this last election and did, I would argue, a very good job representing our Party in that particular race and, hopefully, the House can give him a warm applause and welcome him to the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 10.

Bill No. 10 - Municipal Elections Act.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to open debate and speak briefly to Bill No. 10, An Act to Amend the Municipal Elections Act. Much of this bill is housekeeping. However, there is at least one major change. This legislation will remove the

[Page 904]

authority for municipalities to post copies of the voters' list in public places. As many members are aware, posting copies of the voters' list in various public places was a long-standing practice. The purpose was to enable voters to check to see if they were on the list. If they weren't on the list, they could contact the appropriate officials and get their names on the list. Typically, these lists were posted in stores, post offices, other public buildings and facilities, and even stapled to telephone poles.

There have been privacy concerns about this practice, and for this reason it has been discontinued with federal and provincial voters' lists. With the support of the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities and following the recommendation of the Committee of Municipal Returning Officers, it has been decided that posting should be removed in the municipal election process as well.

With passage of this bill, voters who want to check if they are on the list need only to call municipal revising officers. Municipalities can place ads, advising of the details, in local papers, with dates, times and phone numbers. Municipalities also provide this information to voters by mail or radio or television advertisements. That represents the substance of this bill. I look forward to the comments of other members on this bill, and I am pleased to move second reading of Bill No. 10.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I would commend the government on the introduction of this bill. I am delighted to find that some time-honoured practices, which may even predate the existence of the telephone, are finally going to be updated. As the minister has said, there are privacy concerns with the public posting of names and addresses of electors, and we have many other ways of disseminating information and for voters to find out whether they are on that list. I would hope that this would move promptly.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on the bill. One concern that I have is the asking of birthdates, privacy being an issue, as the honourable member previously had mentioned. I don't know why a birthdate would be required unless it would be just to see if a person is of age to vote, but after that I believe it's going to strike a poor note with voters, listing their birthdates, especially the female gender - a lot of times they take objection to that.

Mr. Speaker, in the election that we've just experienced, there were numerous voters left off the list, and I hope that remedies are being taken to eliminate that. One thing that I don't agree with, really, is that in there we're saying that candidates for the election don't have to have their taxes paid. I don't agree with that, simply because if a person doesn't have their taxes paid to their municipality and they do become a successful candidate, they're

[Page 905]

going to be involved in creating policy for the collection of taxes. Here they are creating policy for the collection of taxes around the municipality, at same time not having paid their own. I think it sets a poor example, as a candidate for election, not to have their own bills paid and then to put into practice where the residents would have to pay theirs.

The privacy issue, of course, we have victims of abuse and things like that, so maybe the non-posting of the list would give those people additional protection from partner or spousal abuse. I even know of some cases where government workers, probable social service workers, community service workers and maybe people in Revenue Canada would like to have some anonymity and because of the jobs that they're involved in. They don't care to have people know where their place of residence is.

We need a good balance. One thing I might suggest, the honourable member previous mentioned some of the things that predate, a long time, being removed from the bill, which is good, maybe someone could take a little look at some futuristic way of voting. We all have social insurance numbers, and we're aware that even today those are being compromised and being copied. If there was another way of voting, electronically voting, maybe people wouldn't have to go see if they're on a list. It could record their social insurance number when they voted or something like that. Then it's recorded once and never again to be done.

One other cautionary note - in there it's stated the collection of particulars, but particulars - what's the definition of "particulars"? What are the particulars that we want to collect? I caution the government on that, to be aware of that and maybe they can come up with a definition of what particulars, because it could be short and sweet or it could be a long expanded version which would garner more personal information than the person would be required to give.

Anyway, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to say that I will support the bill to have it go to the Law Amendments Committee and we will examine it further there. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 10.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the members opposite for their comments. I just want to clarify that the collection of birthdates are only used to verify that the person calling in on the preliminary list is the person who is calling, such is the practice that used right now with the provincial and federal governments. The final list of voters will not include any birthdate information and is just a precautionary measure so that we know that when people call to see if their name is actually added to the list or not added to list we are able to identify that person may in fact be that person by requiring them to provide their birthdate information.

[Page 906]

So, with those words, Mr. Speaker, I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 10. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 11.

Bill No. 11 - Collection Agencies Act/Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and open debate on Bill No. 11, the Collection Agencies Act. The Collection Agencies Act sets the ground rules for what collectors can do to recover debts and what they cannot do. The Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act is similar in nature but applies to firms that do their own collections. Bill No. 11, reinforces the principles that debtors must be treated fairly and with respect.

The proposed changes in Bill No. 11 will do three things: 1) Add uniform language to our Collection Agencies Act, as agreed to by Canada's Ministers responsible for Consumer Affairs; 2) Make similar changes to our Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act; and 3) Amend our laws to make them easier to apply and to enforce.

Mr. Speaker, every province and territory in Canada has laws like ours that prohibit certain collection practices. Over the next year or so, every province and territory will introduce similar changes so that prohibitive practices are basically the same across Canada. Nova Scotia's protection for debtors is already at a high level, so the changes to our legislation are not as extensive. The key changes outline restrictions on the following: phone calls or visit to a debtor; contacting relatives, friends or neighbours of a debtor; contacting a debtor's employer and the information they can ask an employer; the time of day and the days a collector may contact a debtor; publishing or threatening to publish a debtor's failure to pay an amount owed.

Mr. Speaker, we are also proposing better protection and accountability for debtors through the establishment of trust accounts and requiring financial statements at a debtor's request.

[Page 907]

This legislation also includes a number of administrative changes, mainly to renewal of licensing and expanding the penalty options available to the registrar.

Mr. Speaker, in summary, these amendments are intended to both benefit debtor and collectors. These practices will eventually be law in all provinces. Debtors will have greater control over where, when and how they are contacted. They will have better accountability of the money they have paid. Collectors will have a clear understanding of what they can and cannot do and civil servants responsible for enforcing the Act will have better tools to work with.

I look forward to the comments of other members on Bill No. 11 and I move second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Thank you, Mr. Minister, for bringing this bill forward. It is particularly important because we do live in an increasingly credit-based society and debt is an important fact of life for many, even most of us, perhaps, I dare say. In any case, the treatment of debtors by collection agencies can stand to jeopardize an occasionally tenuous social standing. So I would commend the prohibitions introduced on contacting a debtor's employer, family, friends, neighbours, et cetera. I'm delighted that we're getting to this point already. Particularly, the introduction of trust accounts, as well. The student loan situation I think is one case in which there are large amounts of money being held over a period of time. It's certainly a very reasonable thing to establish trust accounts. I'm glad that debtors will be able to ask for a written accounting of the status of their account.

[3:00 p.m.]

I suppose my only question would be, whether the legislation does go far enough to protect the rights of debtors from harassment that's frequently the case with lower-income people. So it may be important to get information out to debtors, of their rights under this revised bill. I do have a question about the practice of on-line dunning. I know that there is, in fact, the Registry of Collection Agencies practising in Nova Scotia, but I understand that there are also sometimes collection agencies that are actually doing this electronically as well. So we would want to be sure to catch those.

There are, as I say, a number of practices surrounding debt, and perhaps the invitation to debt, which we might want to investigate further but not in this context. I hope that we can move this on to the Law Amendments Committee.

[Page 908]

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I, too, rise to speak to the bill. In the bill, I phrase my comments by saying that accountability and due diligence are required on both sides. There may be a percentage, a very small percentage but there is a percentage, of the population, people who knowingly overcharge, knowing that they have no intention of paying, and there are others who make a living off of other people by overcharging and knowing that the collector won't be able to collect.

At the same time, we don't want to put undue pressure on people who fall into debt, whether intentionally, unintentionally or accidentally. Sooner or later we all experience some sort of pressure along those lines, falling into debt. We want to be respected and given the opportunity to pay our bills. At the same time, we don't want to unnecessarily tie the hands of collectors. We have two parties here, one trying to collect the debt and one trying to pay the debt. The balance to strike is that there should be a compromise between both to make it fair on both sides. So that the person doing the collecting can do their job, but that the debtor has every opportunity to pay the bill within a reasonable amount of time, according to their means.

Mr. Speaker, I would close by reading from the bill, which says that amendments should help ensure debtors are treated fairly and collection agencies would benefit from having a common set of rules from one end of the country to the other. I'm quoting Mr. Barnet when I do that. Therefore, I will be voting to move the bill through to second reading, and finish by saying accountability and due diligence by both parties would be required.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations it will be to close debate on Bill No. 11.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and close debate on Bill No. 11. This bill brings together best practices from across the country. It's our attempt to provide a balance of the competing interests and to do what the speaker spoke about and that is the due diligence and provide that balance between debtors and creditors.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would move second reading of Bill No. 11.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 11. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

[Page 909]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 15.

Bill No. 15 - Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I would move second reading of Bill No. 15. I must confess this bill is way beyond my level of expertise in the law. However, as I understand it, it is a bill that does as the title suggests, it permits court proceedings to be transferred from one province to another. Also I'm told that we would be the first province to actually enact this legislation, which is part of the Uniform Law Conference. We would not proclaim this bill until other jurisdictions come on stream.

Mr. Speaker, if it's the pleasure of the House that we stand this until the Minister of Justice is back for second reading, I would be willing to do that. However, at the present time, I will just take my seat and let the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage . . .

MR. SPEAKER: There's lots of help on the opposite side of the House with this bill today, lots of expertise.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I was thinking earlier around the Department of Justice on an earlier bill, Bill No. 8 I think and this one, it must be one of the only ministries the Government House Leader hasn't been the minister for in his years in government. (Interruption) It's never too late, that's right.

Mr. Speaker, I'm only going to speak for a couple of minutes on this. As the Government House Leader noted, this is part of the uniform Justice reform project that's going on and what happens is the Ministers of Justice in Canada, provincially anyway, I don't know if the federal one would be involved as well, get together and harmonize so that there is some consistency in the rules and procedure, or how things work in the courts and jurisdictional issues.

Obviously, this is to make it easier not only for businesses, but people involved in the legal profession and those who are accessing courts to know that there is some consistency across the country. The more we can do this on a regular basis, the better. This is fairly non-controversial and I would argue it is non-controversial. Most of it is housekeeping and issues resulting in trying to have some form of uniform harmonized procedure as to what are the rules. We've passed a few of these in the past few years and we're glad to see this go to the

[Page 910]

Law Amendments Committee and hear what others may say and we have no problem supporting it at second reading.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to say a few brief comments on Bill No. 15, the Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act. As has been pointed out, this was a recommendation of the Uniform Law Commission that suggested that all Canadian Provinces work towards better uniformity in all the laws to try to make it easier for companies and individuals throughout the country that are involved in different proceedings that might involve different Canadian jurisdictions, to make it as transparent and as easy a process as possible, because many lawyers will tell you, if you have to transfer a proceeding from here in Nova Scotia to Ontario, it can be an absolute nightmare, not only a nightmare in the legal sense and in the time sense, most unfortunately for the client, it's a nightmare in the financial sense because it can be extremely expensive, a lot of red tape, and can take a significant amount of time to take place.

So anything that we can do to try to make it work easier for individuals and for businesses in this province is a good thing, especially when you look, Mr. Speaker, at the fact, for example, if you look at our offshore here, many of the companies that are based here in Nova Scotia and that are doing work on the offshore have different head offices throughout the entire country, some of them even internationally and, as a result of that, any dispute over contracts, over payments, can involve having proceedings being moved to several jurisdictions from where they may have originated.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you I've witnessed, myself, not too long ago, trying to have a judgment made in the Small Claims Court here in Nova Scotia, having that judgment put in force in Ontario, and needless to say that has been a nightmare in itself of trying to have that take place and it is still ongoing at this time. There is a good part here and an unfortunate part. We are the first province to actually put this in place which is a good thing. The unfortunate thing is there are all the other Canadian provinces that haven't done it yet. So in order for this to work, it's going to be imperative that all of the other provinces follow suit and enact this type of legislation as quickly as possible. Unlike Sunday shopping, this is actually one bill where the government can say we're the first to do it whereas on Sunday shopping they're the last to do it.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I do look forward to this bill moving forward and anything that we can do, as legislators, to make the legal system a more efficient and a more effective system, that's always a good thing.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable minister, it will be to close debate on Bill No. 15.

[Page 911]

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the legal advice from the two Critics to the Department of Justice and I will move second reading of Bill No. 15.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 15. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would move that the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure for me to rise here this afternoon and continue this debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. While up on my feet I guess, well, I've had the opportunity a couple of times to get up and talk over the last number of days on other issues, including Bill No. 2, on the Sunday shopping issue, and certainly the emergency debate last week on the crisis facing our farmers in the beef industry. In spite of those, I guess this is certainly my first real opportunity to get up as a member in this Legislature from Pictou West and to reply in this first session of the 59th General Assembly.

I just want to say right off, it is certainly a great privilege to be back here in the House again representing the riding of Pictou West. Democracy is a wonderful institution and I did have the opportunity in 1998 and 1999 to be here in this House to represent the people in my riding in Pictou West at that time. But I guess the voters decided in 1999 to give me a bit of a vacation or a bit of a hiatus from this position. I respected that decision, that's democracy, that's the way it works. However, I guess with much encouragement from family and friends

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and other members in my riding, I agreed to allow my name to stand and be on the ballot again in 2003. Again, I respect the decision of the electorate, that's democracy in action.

Truly, it is an honour to be back here in this Legislative Assembly for the second time representing the people of Pictou West. That's a responsibility that I take very seriously and I will certainly try to do my best to serve the constituents in my riding and also the interests of all Nova Scotians.

I want to take this opportunity, Mr. Speaker, to congratulate you on your election to the office of Speaker. I believe you're the first Speaker to be elected twice in the history of this province and you're to be commended for that. I certainly also want to congratulate the three Deputy Speakers that have been elected also to serve in this House, one from each Party and know that all of you will conduct your business with fairness and always with wisdom. I'm looking forward to working with you in the months and years to come.

I want to also say my congratulations to members of all three Parties in this House who were elected on August 5th and it's certainly a great privilege for anybody to serve in the Nova Scotia House of Assembly and to serve in the best interests of their constituents.

Sometimes we have our philosophical differences and I'm sure that will continue but I know deep down and at heart we have the best interests of our province and our constituents that we represent at heart so we may hopefully all co-operate and work toward a common goal for the betterment of Nova Scotians.

I would be remiss if I did not express my gratitude certainly to the many, many people who worked on my behalf in this past election campaign in the riding of Pictou West. I have many family members and friends and constituency workers, numerous volunteers that worked very, very hard on my behalf, especially during the hot days of July as we were out canvassing door to door. Many of those people went beyond the measure of regular work and found extra time and effort to work on my behalf.

I want to say a special thanks to my wife, Marilyn; to my Mom and Dad; to all my family members who contributed greatly during that campaign; but, also, certainly to the many, many canvassers that were out there in all kinds of weather knocking on the doors and doing the other work that was necessary in the headquarters. So from our youngest canvasser,

a young gentleman by the name of Travis McNamara, aged 9, right to our most senior canvasser, Alistair MacDonald, aged 86, and all those in between, I want to express my sincere and heartfelt thanks to all of them.

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[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a few minutes now to tell the members of this House a little bit about the riding of Pictou West and some of the features, some of the pluses that are found on the North Shore of this province. Pictou West is located along the Northumberland shore and there are a few things about the history, the geography and the people of my riding that I would like to share with members here in the House today. I call it picturesque Pictou West and it's probably a fitting name. It is a community of rolling hills and farming communities, fishing villages, an historic seaside town, so I think picturesque is probably a good description to describe Pictou West.

As I mentioned, Pictou West contains the historic Town of Pictou and certainly quaint coastal communities such as Bay View, Braeshore, Caribou, Caribou Island, Seafoam, Toney River, the lovely Village of River John, and right along the shore as far as Marshville, right up to the Colchester County line. There are also fishing villages in Cape John and Toney River, Caribou. Inland we have a number of farming communities and woodlots and villages; nice communities like Scotsburn, Durham, Salt Springs, Greenhill, which has a beautiful look-off and you can see for miles across the countryside. There's a provincial park there, a day-use park that is open if you want a picnic or just to take in the view and look over the countryside.

Villages like Union Centre, West River Station, and certainly anybody who is travelling along the Trans-Canada Highway through Pictou West, will come into villages like Mount Thom, Salt Springs, Salem, Mount William, and so on. Especially this time of year it's very colourful, the autumn leaves are out at their very best and it's just a great place to visit.

Perhaps one of the most unique communities in all of Pictou West is located on Pictou Island, and it's an area of this province that probably few people have had the opportunity to visit. It's a beautiful five-mile long island and it's located approximately seven miles offshore in the Northumberland Strait and there are about 25 hardy residents who live on Pictou Island year-round; of course, in the summertime that swells to maybe as high as a couple hundred. But there's no electrical power over there and many of the residents use generators or solar power, but they're remarkably self-sufficient and most of the food and supplies have to be brought in; in the wintertime, especially, there's no boat or ferry service running to the island and twice a week there's a mail delivery by private plane. They're really quite isolated, but just a beautiful place to visit.

There are some warm sandy beaches in the summertime and just some of the friendliest people on earth. The hospitality is wonderful and I would encourage anyone who hasn't been to Pictou Island to take the ferry over. It leaves at 7:00 a.m. and it comes back at 5:00 p.m., so you could pack a picnic lunch and go over to visit some of the folks on Pictou Island.

[Page 914]

At the heart of Pictou West is the historic Town of Pictou. While we have a diversity of cultures in Pictou County that make up our history, I suppose starting with the Mi'kmaq and the Acadians, Irish, English and others, the strongest influence certainly is Scottish. In fact, Pictou County is often called the "Heart of New Scotland". In the Town of Pictou we have the Hector Heritage Quay located along the waterfront, and associated with it is the Ship Hector. Probably many of you will know that the Ship Hector was washed aground in this recent hurricane. In fact, you may have seen it in the news or in a picture in the paper. Fortunately it wasn't damaged. There are some minor repairs that will be needed. It's soon going to be brought up on dry dock and it will be further assessed. I did see it last Monday morning, it was washed ashore. It probably travelled 75 feet or 80 feet from its moorings. During the height of the storm it washed up against the rocks next to the local restaurant. Part of its mast was actually sticking into the roof of that building.

As the tide came back in that morning, it had been listing rather badly and then it started to float back up. At high tide they were able to get an excavator and haul it back over to where it should be moored. So we're hoping there's no serious damage, but we will soon know, once it's brought up on dry dock.

The Ship Hector is an exact replica of the ship that brought the first Scottish settlers to our county, and they came from Loch Broom in Scotland in the year 1773. Besides the Ship Hector, which is a tourist attraction in itself, there is a museum there that depicts life for Scottish settlers, both in the old country and after they arrived on our shores. You have to imagine that when they first came to Pictou County in 1773, the land was completely forested. The Aboriginal people were here ahead of everybody, of course, but really there were very few people living on the North Shore or anywhere in our province at that time.

Naturally the people were a little bit afraid of what may lay ahead of them. They had a piper come off the ship and escort them to shore, and they waded into the new land. Being the middle of September, it was too late then to plant any crops or put a garden in, so it was a tough winter that first year. All those things are depicted in this museum, and you can see the history of how they had lived in Scotland and then how they lived here in the New World when they came to Nova Scotia. Both the Ship Hector and the exhibit there, the museum, attract thousands of visitors annually. It's certainly well worth visiting. If you haven't been to that museum or seen the ship, I would highly recommend it. If you're on vacation sometime or on a day trip with your family, it would be well worth a visit.

Also in the Town of Pictou, we have the Hector National Exhibit Centre, which brings in exhibits from across our country, travelling exhibits and art shows. Also, there is the McCulloch House Museum, named after Thomas McCulloch, the founder of Pictou Academy. The most famous reason, I guess, people would visit the McCulloch House Museum is for genealogical research. There are a lot of records there, especially those that

[Page 915]

outline the Scottish culture, the Scottish history, and it would be well worth a visit if you're interested in finding out your roots and perhaps finding out where you came from.

Also in the Town of Pictou, there are many historic buildings, many of them built of stone. These stone buildings were built from ballast that came from ships that came across the Atlantic Ocean - and some was from native quarries, from our county. Perhaps one of the most interesting stone buildings in the Town of Pictou is the old Canadian National Railway headquarters down on the waterfront. Until 1984, we had trains coming into the Town of Pictou. This was the headquarters for the railway. At this time, that building now houses the Northumberland Fisheries Museum.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you a little bit about the Northumberland Fisheries Museum. They have done a wonderful job collecting artifacts from all over the North Shore, from fishermen from past decades. In fact, just this year they celebrated their 25th Anniversary as a museum, and there are thousands of artifacts there collected from decades past, from fishermen. It's well worth a visit, they even have a fishermen's bunkhouse there. At one time fishermen didn't travel from their homes to go to their boats, as they do now, but rather they had a bunkhouse right on the wharf. They would stay there overnight, so when three o'clock came they were out quickly to the boats to check their lobster traps or whatever type of fishing they were doing on that particular day.

Also at the museum there are rare live lobsters, there are some boat-building models, and many photos and news clippings from years past, in the fishing industry, that are well worth a visit. I think it's truly a tribute to our fisher folk and a way of life along the Northumberland shore.

Also, the museum now has an outreach program called Museum on Wheels. They take the museum directly to schools, to school children and also to communities throughout the Maritime Provinces, into New Brunswick and P.E.I. as well as throughout Nova Scotia. It's been highly successful. I know they had a community show one night in the Caribou area and hundreds of folks came out to look at the old photos and exhibits showing the life in the fish factories and on the boats and so on. It brought back a lot of warm memories for a lot of people in those communities. As I said, they're now going into schools throughout the Maritimes and it's appreciated by children and teachers in the other communities.

Another exciting aspect of that Northumberland Fisheries Museum is that recently the board of directors has embarked on a plan to build a new museum and they're going to actually put it down on the waterfront close to the Ship Hector and the Hector Heritage Quay so thousands of new visitors will experience the heritage and culture of the fishing industry as never before. They have a business plan, it's pretty well complete and they've set up a building committee and a fundraising committee. They're hoping that various levels of government, organizations, businesses and individuals will participate in this new project.

[Page 916]

It's certainly hoped that this government will participate in this new fisheries museum and be able to do what they can to see it come to fruition.

The communities in Pictou West are always alive with something going on 12 months of the year. There's usually musical ceilidhs, various festivals and events going on and I just have to take a minute to share some of the things going on in Pictou West and along the North Shore.

One thing that I'll mention right off the top is that in the Town of Pictou is a wonderful facility called the DeCoste Entertainment Centre. It's been there now for 20 years and over that period of time a great number of acts and theatre groups and musical variety acts have come there promoting both our local musicians as well as those from away. For example, some of our local talent that we have showcased there include Dave Gunning, John 'Spyder' MacDonald - a wonderful singer - Maurice Poirier, even a group like our Heather Belles Pipe and Drum Band has been an ambassador for Pictou County and Nova Scotia as they've gone to Calgary and Florida and I believe next year they're planning a trip to Scotland. There's been a lot of musical talent come out of Nova Scotia and out of Pictou County.

Other highlights of our season in Pictou West include the Pictou Lobster Carnival. It's held every July, usually the second weekend of the month. There's a chance for fishermen to come forward after the busy lobster season to celebrate as a group. That festival started in 1934 so it's the longest active lobster carnival in Canada. There are contests like boat racing and the king lobster contest to see who caught the heaviest lobster during the season, lobster banding and of course musical acts and carnival activities. It brings people in from all over. They come back home more or less to celebrate with friends and family the end of the lobster season.

[3:30 p.m.]

Also in August, Pictou celebrates the Hector Festival and musical talent from around the world has come in for that and, again, it attracts many, many visitors to our town. The Alexander brothers from Scotland have been regular featured guests there at the Hector Festival. Of course, like many small communities, we have our exhibition. The Pictou-North Colchester Exhibition has been going for many, many years and it's held on the grounds of the exhibition where the Hector arena is also located. In addition, we have New Scotland Days held in September when there's a re-enactment going back to the early Scottish settlers and that was a success again this year.

I should also mention the Village of River John, very friendly people there who come together every July to have their own festival. It's a week-long event and many people come from far and near to visit River John. It's just a lovely historical community with a lot of history and I had the opportunity this summer to participate a few different times in their

[Page 917]

festival days. Throughout the year in Pictou West, there seems to be always something going on whether it's a festival, or a church supper, a fire department dinner, a hunters' breakfast in the fall of the year, a blueberry social. There are Christmas teas. There are Christmas concerts. As I said, there is always something going on 12 months of the year and I would certainly invite members of this House and anyone to come out and learn why Pictou West is a very hospitable place and is fast becoming known as a tourist destination.

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

MR. PARKER: Sure.

MR. SPEAKER: I'm sorry to interrupt.

MR. PARKER: Yes, no problem.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to bring to the attention of the honourable members, in the Speaker's Gallery, of course our renowned Clerk, Mr. Rod MacArthur, but sitting with him is Mr. Jim Bickford. Jim is formerly of Ottawa and he has been living in Annapolis Royal for the last two years, his adopted home. Jim is the owner of the Bread and Roses Bed and Breakfast in Annapolis Royal. He was a former deputy chief of police in Ottawa and he was also a former councillor in Ottawa. I certainly welcome Mr. Bickford to the House of Assembly today and I would ask Mr. Bickford to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

Welcome, Mr. Beckford and we hope you enjoy the proceedings and thank you to the honourable member for Pictou West for the interruption, I appreciate it.

MR. PARKER: I want to turn now, Mr. Speaker, to just mention the economy in Pictou West. I told you about some of the festivals and the events and various activities that have been going on. Certainly the economy in Pictou West is quite diverse. In addition to the important resource industries of farming, fishing and lumbering, we certainly also have a variety of manufacturing in Pictou West, including our pulp mill at Abercrombie Point, the Kimberly-Clark mill; Michelin Tire in Granton; also some smaller industries like MacKay Meters, located also in Abercrombie; Pictou Shipyards, which I'm pleased to report is up and running again and approximately 100 men are hired or will be hired there very shortly on a new project they're working on. Grohmann Knives is located in the Town of Pictou and is the home of the world-famous Grohmann knife. The Pictou Advocate Printing and Publishing Company is headquartered in Pictou and works throughout Atlantic Canada. There are also a number of smaller manufacturing, retail and service businesses as would be found in any community.

[Page 918]

In many ways, Mr. Speaker, there's a very strong entrepreneurial spirit on the North Shore and many women and men have taken the initiative to start their own business. I know I come from a background of rural community and the farming industry and also from a background of small business. It's great to see a number of people who do take the initiative and start their own business. I just want to tell you an example about one couple who has recently started their own business in the Town of Pictou. Their names are Keith and Ann Matheson, who recently combined their talents to open Carvers Coffee House. Now Carvers Coffee House is located on the waterfront in the Town of Pictou. Keith is a master woodcarver. He created the masthead on the Ship Hector and he now carves many unique creations from wood. Ann has had experience before operating a shop and now looks after the marketing aspect for her husband's carvings but also operates the day-to-day coffee shop. They are open year-round, so invite people for a unique experience in a carving-coffee house combination, to visit their place of business.

Other new businesses that have recently opened in Pictou West would include Abel's Canes near River John, Pat-A-Cake Childcare Centre in Pictou, and Safety First Driving School in the Village of Durham. Small businesses continue to be the backbone of our economy. I think it is very important, Mr. Speaker, that we encourage and continue to work with our entrepreneurs to provide the advice and the access to the necessary resources they need so they can continue to support our economy and help it to grow.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn to this past summer's election campaign and some of the issues that came up in my riding at that time, and I want to bring them to the attention of the House at this time. I guess, first of all, was the election process itself, and the problems that were created with the lack of enumeration. I know the decision was made to go with the federal registry list, but that caused a number of problems, not just in my riding but probably every member in this House can tell some stories about some difficulties that were created by the lack of enumeration. Some people, for example, in my riding who had to drive a great distance to get to the poll where they should vote, often going past another voting booth or two other voting polls. It just didn't seem to make sense that they had to drive such a great distance to get to where they wanted to cast their ballot.

Sometimes one member of a household was on the voters' list and another was not. There just didn't seem to be any rhyme nor reason to it. I know some members who had lived in their community for more than 50 years and yet they were not on the voters' list. Some people felt if they weren't important enough to be on the voters' list, why should they vote. I am sure there were some people who didn't vote just simply because they felt offended that they were left off the list.

Deceased people were on the list. I'm sure other members can think of people in their ridings who were in the same situation. Hundreds of people on election day had to go through a swearing-in process because their names were not on the list. Mr. Speaker, I don't believe that democracy is well-served when thousands of people in this province are left off

[Page 919]

the voters' list. If voter participation can be improved by returning to full enumeration, then let's do it.

Mr. Speaker, I would now like to turn to some of the issues that I heard on the election trail in Pictou West. Certainly one of the most common that came up over and over was the poor condition of our secondary roads, the roads that we live on, the roads that we drive on every day. Many of these roads have been neglected for years, even decades. There are numerous stories of drivers hitting a pothole or breaking the front end part on their car, the tie rod ends, or the wheel bearing or getting a flat tire just from hitting a dangerous section of secondary roads. Rural residents, in particular, are hit doubly hard, not only by high gasoline prices that they have to expend in order to get to work, a doctor's appointment or wherever, but they are also being hit with expensive repairs every time they have to go to the garage. Government neglect of our secondary roads is costing local drivers and it is discouraging investment in our rural economy, including tourism development.

I was reading through this Throne Speech, I think it was on Page 13, and in there there's mention of promised investments in roads. Well, Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I hope some of that promised investment in roads will be spent on some of the secondary roads in Pictou West, because they are in dire need of improvement. I just want to run through some of the secondary roads that could use this promised investment. Roads such as the Whitehill Road near Union Centre, in back of Westville, a terrible secondary road. There are potholes, there is broken asphalt, there are many things wrong with that road. The Millbrook Road; Highway No. 4 at Mount Thom - that's the old road that used to be the main route to Truro from Pictou County. Occasionally it's still used as a main route when the highway is blocked or there's an accident, on occasion the traffic has been diverted onto the old Highway No. 4 through Salt Springs and Mount Thom. The upper Mount Thom section, in particular, is in great need of repair. It really hasn't been touched probably since 1968 when the Trans-Canada Highway was put through our county.

Some others that absolutely need this promised investment in roads would include the Scotchhill Road, the road between Durham and Scotsburn, up over the Durham hills; Highway No. 256 from Scotsburn towards West Branch; and certainly the road between West Branch and River John. Last year that road was partially paved from the Village of River John out as far as the MacKay Road, but it needs to be finished. It's nice and smooth, but it's not finished and we need more improvement on that secondary road.

Other roads that need improvement would be the Toney River area of the Sunrise Trail, from Toney River to River John. It's an important route, it's travelled by many, many local folks and tourists, and there's no question it's in need of repair. The Alma Road, the Granton Road, the Abercrombie Road, Highway No. 376 through Lyons Brook and Durham, and many others too numerous to mention. We must start investing in our secondary roads, we must do that investment now. The other thing we need is a priority system so it's based

[Page 920]

on fairness, and an objective criteria that's transparent so people will know when their road is going to be repaired or upgraded.

Mr. Speaker, another aspect of secondary roads I want to mention is what's known as J-Class roads; these are roads that are owned by municipalities, but are quite often serviced or looked after by the province for a yearly fee. I want to speak in particular of one of these J-Class roads which is known as the Pumping Station Road, near the Town of Westville. In fact, for many years the Town of Westville had used that road, or owned it actually. Through an agreement with the landowner, they had a long-term lease on the land and they serviced it because their drinking water came from the Middle River, but in the late 1990s they abandoned that road because they found another source of water. There are approximately eight homeowners on the street and I feel it's important that something is done to help these homeowners. It seems that nobody's taking responsibility for it, neither the municipality, the province, nor the Town of Westville. It's sort of been left in limbo, in no man's land.

Now that there's another water source for the town, somebody has to take ownership of that road and provide maintenance and repair that's needed to look after the homeowners who live along the Pumping Station Road. So I hope, Mr. Speaker - perhaps the minister is listening here this afternoon and the Minister of Transportation and Public Works would find a workable solution there for the residents of Pumping Station Road.

Finally concerning roads, Mr. Speaker, I think it's important to mention that the 100-Series Highways through Pictou County and throughout our province be maintained and that we work towards doubling them as quickly as possible - it's a safety issue, really, is what it is. I think we have to put more emphasis on negotiating with the federal level of government, to provide more dollars, so that our 100-Series Highways can be looked after, it's cost-sharing. The more we're able to obtain from the federal government, the more we have to put in as a province. I think it's important that be done.

[3:45 p.m.]

Finally on transportation, I just want to mention the important link that we have in Pictou County, between our province and Prince Edward Island, and that would be the Northumberland Ferries link across the Northumberland Strait. That's an important link that helps our economy in Nova Scotia and in eastern P.E.I. I would urge this government to work with the federal Department of Public Works to maintain that vital service. It really is important to the economy of Nova Scotia and to P.E.I.

Mr. Speaker, I want to move on now and talk about some of the other issues that were of concern during this past election campaign in Pictou West. After roads, the number one issue I would have heard about would have been car insurance, but also other types of insurance, such as property and liability and small business insurance. First of all, car

[Page 921]

insurance; I'm continuing to hear from folks who have some real difficulty paying the high premiums. In fact just today I had a resident call me, their son is 19-years-old and he bought a car so he could attend the community college in Stellarton, but then he got his insurance bill and it was $2,500, and that's on the lower side of some of the premium costs I've heard. He just can't afford it, so he had to give up his car and he had to move into a boarding home in the Town of Stellarton to continue his education.

Over and over, during the campaign, I heard from residents and I am sure many in this House have also; the high cost is hurting young people in particular. They can't afford to go to their place of employment or their place of higher learning. Male drivers under 25 are being hit the hardest. Rates have gone up an average of more than 65 per cent in the last year. Some people tell me their rates have doubled or even tripled. One young driver told me he bought a car, it cost him $3,000. He worked at slightly more than minimum wage, I think it was $7.15 an hour he was getting. Then he went to shop around for insurance, and the best quote he could get was $6,000. So there was no way he could afford that. Again, he sold his car back to where he had bought it, and he's just not able to work.

I think the high insurance rates are hurting our economy. They're preventing young people in particular from getting to their place of employment. Very high rates are, like I said, hurting our economy. It's not only the huge amount of dollars that are leaving our province as premiums, to be invested elsewhere, but it's preventing young people in particular from getting meaningful employment and a means to get there. In the end, some are choosing to drive without insurance. I don't think that's wise or to be commended, but people have no dollars to put towards insurance, and they're making that choice. No government should allow that to happen.

What the New Brunswick Government has offered the drivers there has not worked. The tinkering, as outlined by this government, I don't believe it's going to work. What we believe in in the New Democratic Party is in a driver-owned system or a public car insurance system. It's worked successfully for more than 30 years in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, and I think it's the only real solution that's going to work for Nova Scotia drivers. So let's take the best that's available from those provinces and bring the lowest and fairest rates here to Nova Scotia drivers.

Mr. Speaker, as I looked through the Throne Speech, there are some things in there that were good and some things that were not so good. One thing that I was saddened to see that wasn't there was any mention of relief for our seniors who are entering long-term care, nursing homes. This is an issue that was important to many within my riding over the last number of months and it continues to be. Many seniors in this province are continuing to pay the highest nursing home fees anywhere in this country, somewhere between $5,000 and $6,000 a month. Seniors are being asked to give up their lifetime assets, seniors who have worked hard all their lives, they've paid their fair share of taxes, and now when they most need it, their Medicare is being taken from them and they have to pay for it themselves. I

[Page 922]

think that is morally wrong and it's not that way in most of this country. Most other provinces only require that the residents pay their room and board and that's all we're asking here, that it would be fair in Nova Scotia. Medicare in the other provinces is covered the same as it would be if you or I were to end up in a hospital; in Quebec, in Ontario, and the four western provinces, that's the way it is.

So it's time now, Mr. Speaker, for this government to start treating our seniors fairly and to end the bankruptcy of our seniors as they enter nursing homes. The NDP will hold this government accountable until they do the right thing by our seniors.

Mr. Speaker, in the riding of Pictou West, we have an institution in the Town of Pictou, it's called the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital. It was built there with local capital in the 1960s by community-fundraising drives. It was a good, full-service hospital. For many years we had babies born there and operations performed, but all that has changed over the past number of years, probably the last 10 years or so. With downsizing, rollbacks and cutbacks, we've lost the acute care services. We've lost emergency services. Like I said, there are no operations performed or babies born.

There are a few things still left there, I'm pleased to report, it does have a blood collection service three mornings a week. It has a dialysis unit and there's certainly a good rehab facility there where people can go and get rehabilitation after an injury or an accident. Also the Veterans' Unit is there with 20 beds that serve veterans from all over this province. In addition, just recently, there's a doctor's clinic there during evening hours that allows people to go to visit their doctor and try to get some assistance, but I guess the service that most people would really like to see restored there to the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital would be X-ray services and that would be convenient for a lot of people. They would not have to travel uptown to the Aberdeen Hospital and, quite often there, there's a long wait, as long as a month, to get a routine X-ray and it would certainly take some of the stress off the Aberdeen Hospital in New Glasgow.

So I hope that the Department of Health, in conjunction perhaps with our local DHA and our community health boards, can work to restore X-ray services to our local hospital in Pictou. Speaking of district health authorities, I think it's important to point out that they absolutely need solid, stable funding so that they can adequately plan their budgets. We're more than halfway into the budget year and they're still not sure of the amount of dollars that they have to work with.

Looking through the Throne Speech, Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to see a couple of items here that perhaps were of benefit to Nova Scotians and I'm pleased to see in there. One was the idea of introducing a low-income assistance program for diabetics. Many Nova Scotians are afflicted with this disease and many find it increasingly difficult to pay for their insulin, their strips and their needles. I hope that that particular initiative can be implemented as quickly as possible. I know I do have a nephew who's a juvenile diabetic and since the age

[Page 923]

of 11 he has suffered from that disease. I've talked to another young lady in my riding who is working at the present time, but every day has to take insulin for her disease. She's sort of stuck in her job because through that employment she has medical benefits. So she's a bit afraid to leave that job because then she would have to pay for the full costs of her diabetic supplies. So I hope that initiative will be acted on as quickly as possible.

Another thing in the Throne Speech that I was pleased to see was a further commitment from this government designating Eigg Mountain and Gully Lake as wilderness protection areas. Pictou County has no such designated wilderness protection areas at this time. Although I know that the resolution I introduced last week didn't receive unanimous support, nonetheless it's encouraging to see it in the Throne Speech that those two areas of our province would be worked towards a designation as wilderness protection areas.

Gully Lake is probably the one that's closest to my heart. It contains 11,000 acres of Crown land. It sort of straddles my riding of Pictou West and the neighbouring riding of Colchester North. It's pristine, unspoiled Crown land, and it would not be that difficult to designate that land as a wilderness protection area. I think we actually owe it to future generations to make sure that we conserve that land - not only for the plants, animals, birds, insects and other forms of life found there, but for the people. There's something very special about wilderness areas and maybe my feelings are best summed up in the writings of a famous outdoorsman, his name is S. Stanley Hawbaker and he had a saying, "Go ye to the wild woods - its waters and hills - for it is good to live thus." I think that sums up my feelings on the importance of protecting our wilderness areas.

Protection of our environment certainly is very important. Locally, in Pictou County, the cleanup of Pictou Harbour is absolutely necessary. That's a joint provincial-municipal, perhaps federal, initiative that needs to be looked after. I know the Town of Pictou and the Municipality of Pictou County are working on obtaining funding to do just that and have a safer and cleaner harbour.

Also, I think we have to work on finding methods to stop the air pollution that is occurring in various areas of this province and certainly in Pictou County. Two of the worst polluters of the air identified were from our area of the province - Kimberly-Clark was I think number five on the list, and the power generating plant at Trenton was number two. So those are areas that hopefully the Department of Environment of this government will work on initiatives to clean up the air pollution.

I guess one other thing I'd like to mention that I was disappointed in, that in the Throne Speech I didn't see any plan to curb the high tuition costs that students are facing. Both university and secondary college tuition has risen dramatically over the past number of years. It's getting harder and tougher for young people - or people of any age - to be able to afford to go to a university or a secondary school, and I think something has to be done to curb those very high tuition rates that students are facing.

[Page 924]

I was also disappointed that there was no mention in the Throne Speech about HST relief for basic family essentials - things like heating fuel, electricity, or children's medications. People deserve a break. People who live hand-to-mouth or low-income people, for example people on minimum wage deserve a break, young people starting out, anybody who's disabled, the disadvantaged, people living below the poverty line, seniors on low, fixed incomes, single moms, struggling small-business people, the unemployed and the working poor all deserve a break.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I believe my time is winding down, and I want to perhaps close where I began. I said at the beginning that it certainly was a privilege for me to once again serve the people of Pictou West. I sincerely mean that and it's certainly true. I want to go back beyond that a little bit to where it really all began for me. As I mentioned earlier, I was born and raised on the family farm, that was in Durham, Pictou County. There, with a large family, I learned many of life's lessons.

Mr. Speaker, today, as we all know, the family farms are disappearing, there are less and less of them. I think it's important that we, collectively, as a government or as Opposition, this House of Assembly, stand up and do something to encourage more local farm production and more organic production, and see that more institutions in this province are using the products that are produced on farms here in Nova Scotia. Last week we held an emergency debate on the BSE issue affecting beef farmers, and really all farmers are hurting these days. I think we just have to show support and work with our farmers so that they can be encouraged to grow and expand in the years to come. Overall, certainly, healthy farm enterprises are vital to our rural economy. Strong farming families, as is true with the fishing communities, create strong communities in our province.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to thank you for listening, and to all those here this afternoon in this House of Assembly, I think we have to continue to work together as legislators to find solutions that will benefit all Nova Scotians. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. GARY HINES: Mr. Speaker, it's with pride and pleasure and, I must say, humility that I rise in this House of responsible government, the first in the British Empire. I'm also humbled by the fact that I'm standing here talking to a group of people who have years of experience and who have brought a lot to this House of Assembly. They have been role models, I guess you would say, as I've gone along and into municipal government.

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pride to be the first representative of the new riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. (Applause) The riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank consists of a great portion of my former district council seat of District 2, that being

[Page 925]

the Waverley-Fall River portion. I am going to take you through a bit of a geographical description of what the riding consists of and how it was constituted and how it was built when redistribution took place.

Mr. Speaker, the areas were derived from three constituencies that formerly existed in the Nova Scotia Legislature, the old riding of Dartmouth East, there were two polls taken from that, those are polls that are on the Waverley Road, I guess to many it's known as the Portobello Road and now under the civic addressing bylaw will be known as the Waverley Road again. These homes are large lakefront-lot homes, to a certain extent, and they are a bedroom community of many who are retired, as well as many who are still there raising their families. It's a very picturesque area, and they certainly utilize the lakes that are along the Waverley Road for their private lives and for their entertainment, when they come from their jobs throughout the city.

Then you go into the old Bedford-Fall River riding, which was served, again, by a member in our government. This member, through redistribution, passed on the Waverley-Fall River area of that riding. This riding is made up of suburban and rural homes. The suburban area, again, is people who are employed mainly in the city and in the industries surrounding the city, and they come home to the area of Waverley-Fall River for the evenings and for their entertainment and their weekends, so to speak. In other words, it's a residential area. These people in the Waverley-Fall River area maintain great use of the lakes, in particular Lake William and Lake Thomas. They're famous for, of course, the Cheema canoe club, which has won international renown, in particular, through the family of John and Alma Furneaux and their daughters, in particular, Karen, who has come home from world events with gold medals and has been a terrific ambassador for our province, our community and, in fact, the country of Canada.

This old community of Waverley was known originally as the Waverley Gold Rush Town, and still has the old pits - some of them still open - today in the wooded areas around the Waverley community. In fact, there are members of the community who maintain mining rights and still do a little bit of panning in the local streams and so on, and actually turn in a considerable amount of gold from time to time.

This community still celebrates the old Waverley gold rush tradition with a celebration each year and is strongly supported now and organized by the fire department. I might add that the fire departments in the Waverley-Fall River area are the District 4 fire zone, which deserves a lot of credit in being the life and life breath of those communities. With amalgamation, a lot of our volunteerism disappeared, but in these fire stations, in this area, in particular, they have been a kind of guiding light in transforming our volunteer fire departments into paid fire departments and we have used them throughout HRM and those areas as examples of good fire departments that really serve the communities well.

[Page 926]

As we leave the little Village of Waverley and go further on on Highway No. 2, we come into the community of Fall River. The community of Fall River consists of an old growth area, with homes that traditionally have been there over the years. The traditional families still work and live in this area and raise their children in this area. The lands that were once - and in recent years or in my memory of coming to that community, some 20 years ago - heavily forested areas. Presently, they have been turned into large development areas and many of those areas now house new families. So there has been a whole new face on the communities throughout the Fall River areas and as we get up into Grand Lake-Wellington and those other areas that maintain a lot of historical significance and house a great portion of the old Shubenacadie River Canal.

These new families have moved in and have been well-accepted and have become a tremendous part of the community. They have become part of our volunteer fire stations. They have become a very major part of our ratepayers associations, which are the community entities that we do our governance with.

I think it is only fair that we talk about the Shubenacadie River Canal, which starts in Dartmouth and comes out through my riding through the Portobello area, along that road and right straight out through to Enfield and, in fact, out of the district. There has been some effort on the part of this government, as well as on the part of HRM to combine their efforts and bring restoration to the Shubenacadie River Canal so that it can be, perhaps, one day traversed and be a great part of our natural tourist attraction. I am looking forward to this government's support coming out of the Throne Speech, with this effort as HRM becomes a part of that involvement as well.

We also have in that area a large portion of private roads. For those around this table who don't know what private road developments are, I find it hard to believe that you don't because you are in governance. That is one of the areas where we find tremendous obstacles toward giving our residents the best bang for their buck. Now, I realize this is a municipal issue and it exists throughout the province, however, that being said, as an elected representative, there is a great taxation on us to become a part of the debate that takes place regarding private roads. The fact that the Municipal Government Act is under the provincial Act, I suggest that one day we will all have to come together and resolve the issue of these private roads that are vast and have a number of problems within this area.

Route 2 goes on to the Village of Enfield and consists of the portion of the airport area that is on the right-hand side of the highway when you're coming toward Halifax. So one of the best kept secrets and one of the greatest gems in the district is, perhaps, the Halifax International Airport, housing the airport museum. This airport museum, for those of you who haven't seen it, has probably some 75 to 100 exhibits from old restored fighter pilots to wood framed leather-skinned planes and so on and has a tremendous gathering of artifacts as well. They run a tourist outlet there as well. It was brought to my attention by the people who do all of this voluntarily that this facility actually has 75 per cent of its traffic

[Page 927]

from bus trips and from out of the district out of the Halifax Regional Municipality. So, for those of you that haven't seen that gem, it is certainly something that you should put into your plans because it's not far out of town and it's certainly an eye opener as to the work that volunteer groups can do.

I'll come back into the Village of Fall River and progress into the old community of Windsor Junction. Windsor Junction now has the new Ashburn Golf Course there, for those of you who are golf enthusiasts. This course is a magnificent structure with aesthetic values second to none and has, in fact, housed Canadian tournaments in the past. It brings a great deal of income to the community as well and creates several jobs for the community. Progressing onto the Windsor Junction Road you'll come into the old growth areas and those areas that house our families from the past, the old common family names. They have again been surrounded with new housing developments, Fall River Village for instance and Capilano Estates that are two vast, vast housing developments I would say in the vicinity of some 700 to 800 new lots.

In referring to this development, it has great aesthetic value, tremendous people and it suffered great losses at the hands of Hurricane Juan. A community that was once a spectacle for its trees has now been flattened and these people are now digging out from under and showing us the resilience that I guess always existed with our residents in Capilano Estates, Windsor Junction and those areas. I say that in recognition of these communities but also bearing in mind the devastation that took place in many of your other ridings. I realize the support that this government has been giving in the two weeks just gone by and the weeks to come that will be needed from this government.

I will now go through the Beaver Bank Crossroad area of Beaver Bank that came from the old riding of Sackville-Beaver Bank that was represented again by one of our honourable members who sits in the House today. The community of Beaver Bank in entering that community derives much of its support from the Barrett Lumber Company and the lands of Barrett Lumber which is one of the big employers and one of the big industries in the area. The Barrett family are an old family that have been there for many years and recognized and respected in the community, great contributors to the community both economically and in terms of physical support. This community always worked together with the residents there in terms of recognizing the needs of the ATV associations, the Boy Scout association, and so on who need woodlands and woodlots to carry out their activities.

In giving credit to Mr. Barrett, I think it is important that we perhaps recognize the ATV industry a little bit as we go through this. The ATV industry is big in my area and I'm an avid ATVer, and that's why I've shown the interest and show the interest that I do in that industry. I recognize that it's one of the major problems that faces this government in terms of recreational sports. We have probably a 5 per cent population of ATV'ers who have caused us more grief than perhaps any other sporting industry could suffer. It has been my efforts in the past developing a pamphlet that addresses ATV safety and etiquette that was

[Page 928]

introduced to the Halifax Regional Municipality as an information piece to be used throughout the province and the municipality. I intend to continue those efforts in recognizing those needs in particular for the people of Beaver Bank who have large ATV'ing fraternities.

The Beaver Bank community also has a golf course that was built in I would say in approximate five years known as Lost Creek owned by local people in my district and employ local people in my district. They have also developed a housing development around that course and that housing development again has supported the excavation industry in my district. The people in Beaver Bank were not people who I knew coming into this election, they were people who I got to know during the election. They're a very vibrant people, they're very self-sufficient people and, in fact, to point out to you, the kind of community it is, they've just approved an area rate of 7 cents on $100 to support their recreation centre and I challenge any community in this province to stand up and vote on that issue and not have a debate that may turn violent because this community realizes the need for the recreational facility and they are supporting that facility. So I look forward to working with that community as we go forward in supporting their efforts to remain strong and healthy. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

I think it is important now that I address some of those things that have been done by our government, accomplishments by our government. Highway No. 2 suffered for many years for lack of paving and through the efforts of our former member, now the member for Bedford, we were able to get Highway No. 2 paved through to Enfield. The Trans-Canada Highway, leading out of the city, from Bedford through to our community of Waverley-Fall River was recapped. The bridges were fixed and the crossings smoothed out. We had resurfacing on the Oakfield Park area, the Stage Road in Enfield resurfaced, we also had a federal health announcement in the community of Fall River, in recognition of the medical centre in Fall River and the efforts of this government in bringing federal help to computerization and a Canadian model in fact that exists in Fall River in computerizing the accounts of those in need of medical care.

We had infrastructure support from the province to bring the Miller Lake water system under operation by the Halifax Regional Municipality. Again it was an infrastructure program with cost-sharing, and I might pat myself on the back, I guess, because I was the councillor that delivered many of these things, and it was through those efforts that we went into the provincial election and I offered myself as their candidate and they accepted me as being the guy they wanted to carry on the load as we go forward. (Interruptions)

That being said, I will continue to support the infrastructure programs that have gone into the community of Beaver Bank-Sackville through the efforts of those before me, and I will fight for their services to continue. I will support recreational facilities and the need and

[Page 929]

the push for recreational facilities in the community of Waverley-Fall River where we will be replacing an old facility. We will be looking to the province for some support there in terms of land transfer and so on, to get that up and running. There will also be in the near future, we hope, an announcement made regarding a training facility for Olympic athletes in the field of paddling. I am working presently with the federal government and others in bringing that here, so I look forward to bringing those efforts forward.

I think it is important also that I point out the potential growth that we have in the housing industry because in an exercise looking at diversity in housing that we held in our community, our community asks for single family dwellings. That being said, we have several housing developments presently going on, St. Andrew's Village, Perry Lake Estates, Miller Lake West, 75-plus units there, Spider Lake Road, another 70 units, more development on the Kinsac Road, to increase the tax dollars. In these efforts, we have fought long and hard to maintain aesthetic values, to put in place infrastructure programs so that we don't have to look back at what we may have done wrong in the past and I look for the support, up the street to Halifax Regional Municipality in development of those plans and look forward to supporting plans that allow greater infrastructure development with controls and restrictions that we so dearly need.

I think this storm that we have just had in the past has indicated to us the need for those infrastructure programs and the need for those things to be changed. Electrical power underground, wider right-of-ways, perhaps, for our power lines to go through, and these kinds of things we may have fought in the past, but we realize the great problem they have caused us in this storm. So I look forward to working with the Halifax Regional Municipality and the new representative out there. We have five candidates who have come forward, and I offer them all the best in this campaign, and I look forward to working with the next councillor who may be elected out there.

I think we probably should now turn towards Hurricane Juan and the devastation it has caused. I think everyone in here has spoken on it, everyone in here has read about it time and time again, but I would be remiss to forget my community because we suffered the devastation that others suffered and we know the need for the provincial government to go to Ottawa and get the best deal we can get so that we can work together in fixing these damaged areas.

There are still power disruptions in our community, as there are in many of yours. It's too bad that this has happened. It's too bad that we couldn't wave a wand and fix this, but to those of you who are still sitting home without power, I suggest to you that we will do a review and we will work with the province, work with those providers of power and so on, to fix this so we don't have the problems that arose this time. I'm not going to dwell on the Hurricane Juan issue. I would like to go to the campaign that we just ran and say thank you to my supporters, my campaign manager, Wayne Mason. For those of you who know me, I'm outspoken, bull-headed and sometimes need somebody to rein me in. My campaign manager

[Page 930]

did that very effectively and I say thank you to him because we were able to turn a four-week campaign into a campaign of victory.

I would like to say a word of thanks for the candidates who ran against me who kept the campaign above board. They made it exciting. I invite them at any time, with the problems or issues they may have brought forward on behalf of their residents, to bring them to me and I will bring them forward on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say thank you to my wife who kept the fire burning at home as she built her own life around a new job and new job prospects. In closing, I would like to say thank you to my father who passed away during the election campaign. This was for him and this was for my family and it's for the people of Nova Scotia and the people of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank. I thank those in this House who are giving me the opportunity to work with them to bring about the things that this district needs. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I hope you will bear with me, I've come down with a little cold here today. The Kleenex are handy and if any of you need some to cry in, well, you're welcome to them too.

Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to be in this great historic House to speak for the people of Digby-Annapolis. I am humbled and honoured by the responsibility entrusted to me by those people. I thank the people of Digby-Annapolis for this privilege and for their support in electing me to come here to represent them, for that is my duty, to represent the people, the over 15,000 forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis. I say forgotten, for that is the way the people of this riding feel. It is my duty to make you aware that many of the 15,000 citizens in the riding of Digby-Annapolis in this great province feel forgotten. Those 15,000 Nova Scotians feel they have not been heard for the last five years and perhaps longer. We seem a forgotten people - forgotten by this government, forgotten by the power brokers, forgotten by the decision-makers, forgotten by big business and forgotten by the metropolitan areas of this province.

It is my duty and my honour to make you aware of each one of those 15,000 citizens of Nova Scotia from Digby-Annapolis, and I'm here to tell you I'm dedicated to that end. You are hearing from me now about the 15,000 people in Digby-Annapolis and you can be assured you will hear from me again. You will hear from me over and over until each and every individual among those 15,000 individuals of the riding of Digby-Annapolis feel those who have forgotten are again remembering. You will hear my voice until the forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis are remembered by this government, until their concerns become equal in the government's eyes to the concerns of metro and the concerns of every other

[Page 931]

riding, and Nova Scotian. Until the forgotten 15,000 of Digby-Annapolis are no longer forgotten - and that is my duty and that is why I'm here.

This government has seemed unconcerned with the people of Digby-Annapolis and our issues, unconcerned with our lives. I'm here to tell this government and this House that we, the forgotten of Digby-Annapolis, do matter. Rural Nova Scotians matter. I'm here to hold this government to account, to open its eyes. I'm here to declare that the 15,000 of Digby-Annapolis will have their say. Each one of our 15,000 citizens in Digby-Annapolis is an individual, a person deserving of respect and opportunity like every other Nova Scotian. Each of these 15,000 is equal to you and me, each equal to the richest and the poorest of this province, each fully entitled to live as a free person, rightfully expecting that life in Canada, in Nova Scotia, in Digby-Annapolis means they can live with a degree of dignity and a certain quality of life, and some respect.

This includes respect from this government. It includes the right not to be forgotten. Government must consider and react to our concerns. What concerns the 15,000 individuals of Digby-Annapolis is the rapid loss of our children. The future of any community lies in its children, but like many rural areas in Nova Scotia, in Canada as a whole, we lose our children to the huge metropolitan and economic hot spots of this country. The population of Digby-Annapolis has declined by 1,000 individuals within the last five years. If we could see those 1,000 people here before us in this House today, we would see the faces of our young, our children, our young mothers and fathers, our young families loading up the old worn-out Chevy for the promised land of Toronto or Alberta or B.C., or Halifax. What future can rural Digby-Annapolis and rural Nova Scotia have if our young people keep leaving?

We invest approximately $75,000 getting our children to Grade 12, and then we price university education for the elite, for those desiring to begin their working lives with almost unsurmountable debt. Why we've even made community colleges out of the reach of many, particularly those who are challenged by so-called book learning. Then we offer our young one of the lowest minimum wages in the country and we tell a family to survive on an insulting $11,000 a year or we tell a family of four they're entitled to the same $11,000 per year if they are forced on social assistance.

We offer them one of the highest unemployment rates in Canada. Is it any wonder they seek more in some far-off province? When we were young, didn't we want to hold the world by its tail too? Why should we expect our children to want anything less? Why should we expect them to be content with anything less? I have visited the kitchens of many of the citizens of Digby-Annapolis and in many I see parents missing their children, grandparents fearful they might never see their new grandchildren - all because our children feel forced to search for a better life, for a decent wage, for a community with a future.

[Page 932]

Government must invest in Digby-Annapolis, in rural Nova Scotia. Our children will stay if we have opportunities to offer them. This government must make our rural communities a priority. Rural communities matter, they cannot continue to be forgotten. All of our Leaders at all levels must make it our dedicated responsibility to stimulate investment in our young people in rural Nova Scotia, in Digby-Annapolis. It will be too late when our young people begin to drift back to their much-loved home communities for retirement. We must make meaningful, financially rewarding jobs for our youth a priority.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the concerns of Digby-Annapolis are each directly related to each other; they overlap, as I believe most do in any riding outside of metro. How can our young people stay if we cannot even offer them a sensible health care? Lately some expectant mothers in rural Nova Scotia have to put insistent babies on hold while they travel sometimes over three hours to a hospital with an on-call obstetrician.

The citizens of Digby-Annapolis have a right to expect better health care, more nurses and nurse practitioners, more doctors, better access to specialists; they have a right to expect their hospitals to be more than half-empty shells, staffed by peopled equipped to do little more than patch-up work in preparation for a long, painful and anxious trip to a larger centre; staff who are overworked and stressed and frustrated. We of Digby-Annapolis are blessed with hospital and health care staff who are dedicated and who care about their patients. But, how long can they wait for the extra help they desperately need? This government must make health care a priority. That would go a long way towards making a fulfilling life in Digby-Annapolis more of a reality for our young.

Does this government listen when the people of Digby-Annapolis, and other constituencies as well, tell them that a large number of nurses will be retiring in the next few years? Does this government have a plan for finding replacements? This concerns the people of Digby-Annapolis.

Has this government forgotten the seniors of Digby-Annapolis? Mr. Speaker, I ask this House to focus for a few minutes on the concerns of the seniors of my constituency and for each member present to picture her or himself in the place of our seniors. The great concern - maybe a more realistic word for some would be fear - the great fear of many seniors is the thought of becoming dependent on others, on their children, on other family members, on strangers, on the government.

Most rural seniors, including those of Digby-Annapolis, want to be able to remain in their own homes for as long as possible. Most, indeed, wish nothing more than to pass peacefully while at home. Does this government hear that concern? What can this government do to make this wish of our seniors come true? What can this government do for seniors about spiraling property assessments and taxes? How can this government assure

[Page 933]

seniors they will be able to remain in their homes, and if the need for specialized care arises, how can they at least stay in their own communities? Can't this government hear that seniors and their families do not want to be forced to give up their homes because of taxes, or the exorbitant fees of extended care facilities and retirement homes? Has this government forgotten our seniors?

Does this government know, Mr. Speaker, that the seniors of Digby-Annapolis are concerned about their independence, not just in their homes but with their cars as well. For how many of our seniors is the fee for insurance making it impossible to drive? How can this government assure senior drivers that they will be fairly and reasonably treated when it comes to driving? And for those seniors who must depend on others for travel or on public transportation, what is this government's plan? Increasingly fewer areas of rural Nova Scotia are served by public transport. Yet services like grocery stores, banks, and most of all health care, are seldom close to our seniors' rural homes. Has this government forgotten that?

Home care for seniors is more economical than nursing home care and nurse practitioners are more economical than doctors. So where is this government's plan for senior health care? Has this government forgotten such seniors' issues as the over-prescribing of drugs or expensive drugs and medical procedures not covered by MSI or the drug program for seniors? Has this government forgotten that health care cutbacks cause our seniors undue anxiousness?

Has this government remembered to ask seniors for their advice on improvements in the home care system, or the . . .

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Some of the statements the honourable is making are very ill-informed, particularly the one that indicated there have been cuts in the health care budget over the last five years. That's just - may I use the word, nonsense? Is that parliamentary? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order. It's a disagreement between two members.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis has the floor.

MR. THERIAULT: I will withdraw that statement, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

At the same time as our population ages, as we baby boomers go through our middle years and beyond, as we see more and more seniors, this government must address the health issues that are resulting. Our seniors are entitled to dignified retirement, health care that equals any in this country, and twilight years that may be spent in secure, comfortable, respectable environments. This government must make seniors a priority also.

[Page 934]

We must be a society that values its elders, a society that care for its elders, a society that benefits from the wisdom of its elders. Such a caring society will encourage young families to want to remain in Digby-Annapolis and beyond. This is a concern of the citizens of Digby-Annapolis. This government must begin to heal the health care system in Digby-Annapolis by investing in its future.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to give you a perfect example. We all know that there is much truth in old sayings. One in particular comes to mind when dealing with health care, and that is that an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure. This House knows that the move in society is towards educating people to understand that taking responsibility for their health early in life by developing a health lifestyle is a positive and economic approach to health care.

This should be a priority of this government. In the riding of Digby-Annapolis, we have a group called the Basin Wellness Society. Since 1999, they have been working towards establishing an Aquatic Wellness Centre in Cornwallis Park. This centre, once completed, will feature a swimming pool, a therapeutic pool, an indoor walking track, a facility for wellness and research, a fitness and cardio centre and numerous other health-centred amenities. Numerous community groups and resources have contributed toward the successful completion of this centre: donations from the allowances of Digby-Annapolis children, and $1.5 million and the ownership of the Cornwallis Mall, from Kespuwick Developments. There is overwhelming local support for this centre, but this government seems to have forgotten this group and its mandate. If this government truly wants better health care, let it invest in this Digby-Annapolis group striving to help its people. (Applause)

What better indication can a caring government, that remembers the importance of its people's health, give, than to support the Basin Wellness Society, but that group seems to be part of the forgotten people. Finally, Mr. Speaker, regarding health care, the forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis ask the government to consider a few more things. First, to re-evaluate the approach to staffing health boards. It can be streamlined to make it less time consuming, more economical and more responsible to the people it serves. The 15,000 forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis also ask the government to provide permanent, dependable funding to local health clinics to cover basic operating costs, such as heat, lights, maintenance and communication services so they can continue their invaluable roles.

The people want this government to consider the lot of the challenged children and adults in Digby-Annapolis and their families. For several years there has been a shrinkage of services and funds for small option homes and workshops. These people have been forgotten by this government, too. Families have too few choices for their loved ones because they lack support and they lack service. What are aging parents to do? Where do they turn? Where are the opportunities for supervised living spaces and meaningful jobs for the challenged individuals? Will this government show it remembers these disadvantaged citizens of Nova Scotia? Will they consult with parents and caregivers? A society is judged

[Page 935]

by how it cares for its people. This government would do well to remember that. The people of Digby-Annapolis also ask the government to provide more funding for nurse practitioners to be assigned to local hospitals and clinics.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, regarding health care, will the government consolidate the functions of the Health Department so the people of Digby-Annapolis and other areas can go to one place for services and answers? Can this government promise to remember the health care wishes of the people of Digby-Annapolis? Addressing these concerns will encourage our young people to remain at home.

Mr. Speaker, education is a concern for the forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis. We all read the horror stories in the newspaper and see it on television, how our school children are far behind the national average in their language and math skills. How must that sort of news make our students feel? Do they think we've sold them out? Are they condemned to take labouring jobs in the oil fields or go for status in the chaotic halls of Bay Street? Is this the sort of confidence our educational system in Nova Scotia inspires?

Mr. Speaker, this government has with education, once again, forgotten its people in favour of the bottom line. I, for one, feel our students are second to none in this country and, in fact, the world. I have full confidence in their abilities. The problem is not of their making. I put the problems with education in this province squarely on the shoulders of this government.

Mr. Speaker, I'm no educator. Most of my education I got from the school of experience and hard work, but unlike this government, I listen to the people of Digby-Annapolis and I see what happens with our young in our schools. I watched my five children as they moved through the school system. We forgotten people have some suggestions for this government about education. Even without a good formal education, I see some pretty basic solutions for the challenges in education. First, let the teachers teach. Give them the resources they need. Education is one area where doing more with less is not only ineffective, it is downright dangerous. We cannot afford to short-change the future of our young people. The capability of doing more for less, in reality, does not exist - education especially. There can be no capable way of doing something with nothing. Take this sort of stress off our teachers' backs and see the difference.

What that means is take the government's priority in education off the bottom line and put it back on our students. Stop looking for larger and larger schools and boards, business management firms and accountants to make our educational system work and put the focus back on educating our young. Make them the centre of education rather than money and I figure it won't be long before those almighty test scores begin to improve.

[Page 936]

[4:45 p.m.]

This government owes it to the people of Digby-Annapolis, to all Nova Scotians, but especially to our young people, to finance a quality educational system. This leads me to my second piece of advice from the forgotten people to this government - the time for experimenting with school boards is over. How much education money has this government wasted in its mythical quest for a perfect board?

We have two experimental boards in place in Nova Scotia, one of which is responsible for half of the students in Digby-Annapolis. The remaining boards in Nova Scotia are uncertain about their futures and those of their students as they wait for this government to decide what its next educational decision will mean. People cannot do their best work when they live with uncertainty, with threats. It leads to unbelievable stress. Students, parents, educators and school boards need security and certainty that must be provided by sensible, dependable leadership from the government. Stop experimenting and start educating.

Mr. Speaker, it is a fact that education in Nova Scotia is funded at the second-lowest rate in Canada. Seven school boards in Nova Scotia receive funding from this government, funding distributed on a per-student formula. In rural areas like Digby-Annapolis what this really means, especially with declining enrolments, is that fixed costs, like running buses or heat and lights, we fall behind in what we can offer our students.

There are, in fact, chronic underfunding problems, constant reductions in funding, and always, always, government calls to do more with less. This stress on board officials, combined with the stress caused by the all-powerful tinkering of this government with board structures and the resulting insecurity and uncertainty, add up to a no-win situation for board members, and through them to the principals and teachers and, of course, ultimately, to the students.

How can we expect our young people to achieve their potential with so much tension around them? Has this government forgotten that attracting teachers to rural areas is a challenge? Living in a place like Digby-Annapolis means challenges for our young as well; what metro students take for granted like trips to Neptune Theatre, museums, art galleries, arenas, swimming pools may well be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Financing such educational trips is very difficult, increasing more so as gas and other prices soar. Choices that are abundant in the schools in our urban centres are impossible for our small rural schools. Has this government considered equity for our forgotten students of Digby-Annapolis?

From all of this comes the forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis' third basic solution for educational challenges in Nova Scotia - revamp the Department of Education and its top-heavy structure. Weed out some of the philosophizing and theorizing and replace it with

[Page 937]

practical help for school boards and teachers and, most of all, for our students. As important as new ideas are, let's get our educational house in order and help our kids before we invest any more money in importing the latest learning fads from Ontario or California. Maybe some of that idea money could be used to help the forgotten students of Digby-Annapolis.

If some of the honourable members think I'm exaggerating about this government forgetting about the rural students of Digby-Annapolis, all they have to do is read a copy of a letter sent to our principal by the honourable Premier. Dated September 15th, it encourages school staff and students to walk to school on October 8th as part of the International Walk to School Day. You might be right in saying that walking is good exercise. You would be right in believing that we need to encourage more physical activity in our young people. Our Premier seems to have forgotten that for many of our students in Digby-Annapolis this would mean an early morning walk of about 50 kilometres. That would mean a very early morning walk indeed.

I would now like to take a brief moment to consider another vital issue to the future of Digby-Annapolis; indeed, important to the future of all rural Nova Scotians. This is an issue about which you will be hearing a lot from me, for it is an issue dear to my heart. That is the issue of the fisheries. When one considers the history of Digby-Annapolis and of Nova Scotia as a whole, the fisheries stand out as the main economic generator for many families and communities. In fact, it was arguably the major reason for European migration to this land. Of course the relationship the Mi'kmaq Nation had with the Bay of Fundy and their harvesting of its bounty is indisputable and predates European contact by thousands of years. The billions of dollars it has brought to the Canadian economy cannot be underestimated.

Yet for all its support of families and communities over the hundreds of years, we find ourselves in Digby-Annapolis, and on the East Coast in general, on the brink of a disastrous decline from which there will be no fishing communities left. We have watched as over-fishing was encouraged and condoned by governments of the past, and of people being what they are, we have watched as greed and selfishness have decimated most of our once abundant stocks. But now when we stand a chance of salvaging one of the few lucrative fisheries we have left, our Conservative Government seems to have conveniently forgotten the rural fishing families of Digby-Annapolis and other coastal areas.

I am speaking of the lack of a stand by this government on the Atlantic Fisheries Policy Review and what these discussions will mean for the $0.5 billion local Nova Scotia lobster fishery. Left unchecked, the beneficiaries of this policy will be a few corporate-owned integrated fishing fleets. The livelihood of local fisherfolk and their families will soon simply disappear. This government has not taken a stand for our coastal communities and their fishery. Why? Have they forgotten us too?

[Page 938]

The New Brunswick Fisheries and Aquaculture Minister has not hesitated to take sides against the policy review. What is this government's stand? Are they for the forgotten fisherfolk of coastal Digby-Annapolis? Are they for their way of life, their communities and their livelihood or is this government for corporate interests? Why will this government not speak up for its people? There are, of course, many, many fishing issues confronting the people of Digby-Annapolis. Although this is the most pressing right now, this House can expect to hear from me over and over again about all of them until this government remembers its forgotten fisher folk.

Now, like fishers, the farmers of Digby-Annapolis feel forgotten as well. Farmers want to know why they find it so difficult to sell much of their produce to local stores, while those stores find no problem importing the same items from B.C., California or from even farther away. Why when prices remain high for consumers can local farmers not get a decent price for their products, not to mention a fair price for the huge effort and sheer hard work that went into getting the product market ready. Can this government not assist with a promotional campaign encouraging people to buy locally? Can it not help our farmers keep competitive?

Why do young people starting out in mink ranching find it almost impossible to survive financially because of the high costs of disease testing? Can this government not find some way to assist these young farmers and help them realize their dream of earning a living by farming at home? What about government regulations? I encourage the honourable members of this House to visit the farmers of Digby-Annapolis and ask them about regulations. They will soon hear why it is almost impossible for children to take over and modernize their parent's farms. They will hear much more. Why can this government not remember its forgotten farmers and show them the respect their profession deserves? These are the concerns of the farmers of Digby-Annapolis. Is it any wonder why they feel as if they have been forgotten also?

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

MR. THERIAULT: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. In the Speaker's Gallery I would like to bring the attention of all members, there are three members from Cumberland County. On the left is Mike, then Garry Stack and Marsh Fox. They are here to make presentations at the Law Amendments Committee in regard to the automobile insurance bill that is presently before the House. Mr. Fox was actually a candidate in the last provincial election for the Liberal Party in Cumberland North. I welcome these three gentlemen and would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 939]

Thank you very much and thank you to the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis for allowing me the time for the introduction.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, does this House see a theme emerging from my words? The people of Digby-Annapolis feel alienated from the halls of power in Nova Scotia as they see their increasing inability to secure good futures for their children. They feel powerless as they lose their loves ones. Allow me to express another concern of my 15,000 constituents.

Mr. Speaker, we applaud the recent opening of a new section of the divided highway on Highway No. 101. (Applause) At a snail's pace rush . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member entertain a question?

MR. THERIAULT: Yes. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we will revert to Question Period.

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, thank you for indulging me. Would the honourable member explain why the previous Liberal Government cancelled the twinning of Highway No. 101 as soon as they came into power, because the former government was in the process of twinning it out to the Halifax County boundary line. Could the member please explain why the Liberals cancelled the twinning of Highway. No. 101? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

MR. THERIAULT: I thank the member for the question. I believe it might have been because the Tory years before had bankrupted the province. (Interruptions) But I also . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Normally at this time, it is allowed for an honourable member to respond to the Throne Speech. The honourable member did have an opportunity to ask the question. I think that's enough. I also interrupted the honourable member as well.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis has the floor.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, at its snail's pace rush to twin the upper end of that highway, this government seems to have forgotten that there is a section of Highway No. 101 in Digby-Annapolis, in fact, between Digby and Weymouth, a stretch of about 30 kilometres that as we speak has never been finished. This stretch of Highway No. 101 is in fact nothing more than a country road, the old Highway No. 1, even though this government likes to

[Page 940]

pretend it is Highway No. 101. I cannot tell you how many times over the years, residents of the 420 homes along that road have heard promises of dates for the start of a new Highway No. 101. Yet in October 2003, they still wait. Is it any wonder they feel forgotten?

[5:00 p.m.]

I ask this House to think for a moment about the families along that dangerous piece of road. Five days a week, for much of the year, school buses stop outside many of those homes. In early September, how many dozens of excited five- and six-year-olds rush across that road to attend their first day of school? In the same time, maybe at the exact moment, a mammoth trailer-truck intent on catching the Saint John ferry, or making up for lost time, could come storming down one of the many hills and on through the straightaway. So far they have been able to stop for those five- and six-year-olds - so far.

Finishing those 30 kilometres of Highway No. 101 would eliminate the danger, eliminate it forever, but those children are part of the forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis. Does this government care about those children? Every tractor-trailer coming from or going to Weymouth or Yarmouth, every mail truck, every delivery van, every tourist, every commuter must pass over that rural road. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, and I ask this government, how many crosses must we put beside our houses, in the ditches, to get attention for this highway?

One other hidden danger along this rural route I want to bring to the attention of this House is the transportation of dangerous goods. Can anyone answer this question posed to me recently by one of my constituents? How many of those speeding tank trucks are loaded with volatile airplane fuel, how many with poison chemicals, and how many with perhaps even worse waste and other dangerous goods? Finish Highway No. 101 between Digby and Weymouth - the forgotten people demand it. (Applause)

One other major issue of concern to the 15,000 forgotten people of Digby-Annapolis that I wish to highlight is the almost cavalier disregard this government showed for the wishes and opinions of the people of Digby Neck and the islands, and other areas as well, when it let Global Quarry Products, an American company, to move into an ecologically sensitive area and set up its wrecking crew of a business in Whites Cove. What we forgotten people want to know is, what happened to democracy? Why were we not consulted? Why do our opinions not matter? Why does this government refuse to discuss our concerns?

Mr. Speaker, this government likes to hide behind the work process. It's all part of a process. They like to say things will work out. Don't worry your frustrated little heads, you fisherfolk, is what this government seems to be saying - trust in the process. Our forgotten people wish to know how this process ever got started in the first place.

[Page 941]

Mr. Speaker, the government is right about one thing in all of this: we now have to wait through the process - yes, we do. Now that they have allowed this process to begin, with us as potential victims, we have to wait for this process to proceed and finish. Where were we at the beginning of this so-called process and why were we not included? More importantly now, where will we and the land and the sea and the whales and the lobsters, and every other natural beauty of life along this wondrous stretch of Digby Neck and the islands in the Bay of Fundy, where will all of this be at the end of this process?

The Premier of this province stated in 1991, "I believe we must give authority back to individual communities, politicians and bureaucrats cannot make decisions for communities as effectively as the people who live in them." He also said, "We do not own our environment, but we are its trustees for future generations." All this government can tell us now is to trust the process and wait and see. No wonder we feel like we are the forgotten people.

Mr. Speaker, tourism is one of the biggest economic generators in Nova Scotia. For the people of Digby-Annapolis, this is also the case. Tourist-centred industries account for the bulk of many people's incomes. But a look at government tourist promotion, quickly leads us to the conclusion that once again we have been forgotten. Where is the promotion so vital for this industry? Why has this government decided that other areas will be highlighted in television ads or in print media? Digby-Annapolis has the potential to be one of the greatest tourist draws in Canada, including during the shoulder seasons.

Where is the promotion? Where are the government programs to help tourist operators? Can government work with our people to develop campaigns and programs equal to the ones for other areas of this beautiful province? Will this government help the people of Digby-Annapolis achieve greater economic benefits and independence by working with us to do practical things, like develop our airport, capitalize on truly unique attractions we have, like the famous right whales, maximize the potential of the area's two ferry entry points, erect more effective signage, and build an effective international promotional program? Don't keep forgetting us in this area too.

There are other ways this government could begin to remember the people of Digby-Annapolis, other concerns of the people government could recognize, other help government could offer that would encourage our young people to stay, things like facilitating access to and doing business on the Internet, creating an incentive program to keep more of our resource in rural areas, by encouraging businesses that supply finished product to consumers, from wooden tables and chairs to canned and frozen fish products.

Mr. Speaker, we need to appoint a Minister of Rural Economic Development. We need to develop an economic strategy for rural Nova Scotia to develop economic opportunities based on each area's strength. We have the beauty and the peacefulness of nature already. We have a pace of life envied by people throughout the world. We have kind-

[Page 942]

hearted, friendly people. We still have communities with roots. If we can add to those things the opportunity to live a life of quality, to secure a truly democratic education, to expect a good, secure future, then our young people will stay in Digby-Annapolis.

The 15,000 individuals, the 15,000 real people of Digby-Annapolis are concerned about the same issues as other rural Nova Scotians. They ask nothing extra. They simply no longer want to be forgotten. They will no longer stand to be forgotten. The people of Digby-Annapolis ask for fair treatment, a chance for their youth to thrive, and the right to move into old age with dignity and security. It is my duty to make you remember the people of Digby-Annapolis, and to make sure you hear and listen to their needs. It is also my duty to make sure this government addresses those needs.

Mark my words, Mr. Speaker, the members of this House and this government will hear my voice being raised for my people again. It will indeed, because it represents the combined voices of the 15,000 deserving individuals of Digby-Annapolis. Thank you very much. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to say (Applause) I have tried to put this speech together in the few moments that I've had before beginning this job, someone said it's been only a week but I find that hard to believe. I think I've been here a bit longer than that. I would like to repeat that it is an honour to have been elected to represent Dartmouth East. I will make every effort to represent all those in my constituency to the best of my abilities. I hope they will give me a little bit of leeway in the next little bit. I don't have an office opened yet, because of the storm. I'm running into some difficulties there. When it is open, I do welcome everybody in my constituency who needs some help or wants to drop in, to drop in. I am planning on having a satellite office also that may make it more convenient for some folks in the other end of my constituency to come down for a visit.

I would like to take a few moments to thank all those who supported me during the campaign. It was a short four weeks. A lot of people put in a lot of hours and a lot of time and effort - my canvassers, the office volunteers, my campaign manager, people who took signs on their lawns, my sign person who did a wonderful job, family and friends who supported me, all those who volunteered to actually canvass with me which was no easy feat on those hot summer days going door to door. Also I would like to thank Wendy Lill. She did accompany me on various occasions and I thank her for her support. Certainly it would not have been possible without the support that I did receive in those four weeks and it was certainly a group effort and it was due to a lot of hard work on everybody's part. Also I would like to thank the person who did my fundraising for me, too, and all the donors.

[Page 943]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a little bit about the campaign. I would like to thank all the people who took the time to talk to me on the doorsteps during the campaign. Sometimes I think I interrupted them during supper, lunch, late in the evening, various times of the day, but I have to say they were all very friendly, took the time to talk to me, and I quite enjoyed meeting all the various people in my communities. The campaign wasn't easy in the fact that it was during the time of the year that a lot of people were away on vacation. They were at their cottages and at the beach and I can't fault them for that. However, enough of them did get out to vote and that made for success in the end. So I would like to thank everybody who did get out to vote. It was a rainy day and certainly it took some effort to get out and vote on that day.

Mr. Speaker, we did manage to connect with a lot of people in Dartmouth East despite all the odds. We managed to connect with them on a level of understanding in regard to the needs of families across Dartmouth East and across the province. The issues that we campaigned on struck home with the families of Dartmouth East, I believe, and they continue to be discussed in the homes of Dartmouth East and throughout the province.

I believe that the public are feeling hopeful that this minority government is going to listen to them, Mr. Speaker. There is a feeling that some good will come out of the whole effort and that the government will start to listen to its communities and the people who know what's best for them in their communities. Some of the issues that we campaigned on and that, as I said, were important then and continue to be important today were auto insurance, for example. The people of Dartmouth East wanted a lot of information on that topic which I tried to provide for them, either on the doorstep or afterwards if I didn't have exactly what they were looking for at the moment. They were very interested in going forward with the driver-owned non-profit plan. They knew that that would provide them with proven advantages and it would give them the fairest and lowest rates without being discriminated against. They knew that good drivers would have their rates based on their records and they wouldn't have to pay for somebody else's bad decision and also the rates would not have been trampled upon.

Mr. Speaker, it is time I believe for this government to admit that they were wrong on the whole auto insurance issue and go forward with the driver-owned non-profit plan. Let's not cut off our nose to spite our face.

Mr. Speaker, on seniors' health care, that was another big one. When I talked to constituents, they felt that we need to represent seniors and immediately cover their health care costs. A senior should only be charged income-based fees for their room and board. This government accessed approximately $25 million in seniors' life savings to pay for nursing home fees in a six-month period in 2002. I think that's unfair to seniors. Seniors have been hit with higher co-pays and higher premiums for Pharmacare. For example, one constituent from Dartmouth East, who had opted out of Pharmacare not knowing that there would be a penalty involved when he tried to get that reinstated, had opted out because the money that

[Page 944]

he was paying for that he needed for other necessities of life. It is very unfortunate that people may not realize that when they go back on they are going to be penalized.

[5:15 p.m.]

Seniors have been hit with the highest nursing home fees in Canada. Seniors continue to suffer while waiting for hospital procedures. In fact, I spoke to a man just a short while ago who had gone into one of our hospitals and into emergency, and actually never made it out into a room. He was in emergency for four days. I think we need to pay a little bit more attention to how we're providing services to all people, especially to our seniors. This can be very upsetting to people.

Seniors are having their home care cut back. They've been put through unnecessary interviews. A lot of seniors I talked to on the doorsteps said that they felt very intimidated when that was happening in their homes. Seniors have seen their drug costs and insurance costs rise, meanwhile they remain on mostly a fixed income. I do hope this government will start showing some respect to our seniors.

Another issue that we campaigned on was the HST. Families in Dartmouth East could really use that HST money. Family essentials are something that everybody uses, everybody is heating their home somehow, and children's medicine is another family essential that I think people would agree on.

Mr. Speaker, education was a big topic on the doorsteps. We campaigned on various issues involving education, freezing the tuition fees, introducing a student debt relief plan and increasing resources in the classroom. On the tuition fees, students are already overburdened, they're working for minimum wage, they're trying to go to school, they're trying to get their grades up, keep a car, find transportation, and pay back student loans. Sometimes they're starting to pay these back before they finish. It is a big burden.

We should cover the increased operating expenses of universities, so that they would be able to freeze these tuition fees. Maybe it would be a good idea to start restoring some of these needs-based grants to students. Resources in the classrooms. Every child needs to get the attention that they deserve and need specifically for their education program.

Mr. Speaker, in May 2000, the Minister of Education initiated the Special Education Implementation Review. The key word there was review. This was done to report on the current status of the implementation of the special education policy, which was released way back in 1996. That may sound familiar because it was reviewing a policy. During the review, background information was obtained, public input was obtained. They acknowledged that boards were attempting to provide a wide range of programming and services for students with special needs. The key word here is attempting, the boards are attempting to do these things.

[Page 945]

In the executive summary, they speak of various components, inclusive schooling, professional development, identification and assessment, program planning, parental involvement, inter-agency collaboration, resources and support, funding, programming standards and accountability, and an appeal process. You may notice that near the bottom of that list appeared the word funding component. The funding has never really materialized into any kind of concrete funding structure that would meet the special needs of many students.

For example, in the Halifax Regional School Board alone, the government provides around $17 million for special needs resources; when, in fact, the Halifax Regional School Board spends around $40 million to provide the services that they now provide and they are inadequate and they'll tell you that themselves. Many students are continuing to suffer. I just wonder what do we tell the parents and what do we tell these students?

On another issue, the BLAC report. We should have implemented the original BLAC report along with the original special education policy with the necessary funding way back then. However, that never happened. Instead, this government introduced to this House the report of the BLAC Implementation Review Committee, dated September 2003. It looks familiar, it should - this fund has been patiently waiting on a shelf since it was first brought forward in December 1994. At that time it was called the BLAC Report on Education. Now we see it again as a report to implement something from nine years ago. As one person was quoted, "Change is slow." But is nine years just a little too slow? There's a long way to still go. Meanwhile, how many students have not met their potential in that period of time?

I will credit the implementation committee on a well-done report. It contains the government's response, the current status and the recommended action for each recommendation. We can only hope for the students that this time the funding will follow closely behind the report, Mr. Speaker. I notice in the report that it does set out a funding requirement to cover only a four year period, which disturbs me a bit, and I believe that was a total of $4 million. I find that unusual, I believe we need a longer plan of action in order to achieve the goals that the original Black report set out back in 1994. Parents and students will be patiently waiting to see what happens on this one.

Another issue that is important to everybody now and during the campaign is the wait lists. Too many people are facing long wait lists for treatment, surgery, diagnostic tests. We should have introduced centralized wait lists quite a while ago. We need to train more staff, hire more staff to relieve the pressure on these wait lists. It's hard for someone to suffer through a wait to find out if they need medical treatment if they have an ailment. People are waiting for surgery; for instance, knee replacement surgery is now more than a year long.

Every month that the QEII hospital doesn't open more beds, that list is only going to get longer. As demand grows with the aging population, beds continue to remain closed. Again, in many cases, our seniors are the ones who are made to suffer. It is hard for a family

[Page 946]

to sit by and watch a loved one suffer waiting to hear back on a test, waiting to go for your MRI that can now take up to 11 weeks, waiting for a CAT scan. These are not easy things for family members to do, sit home and wait for these results or wait to even get into the test and then the result.

It's time to stop fighting with our nurses, closing rural hospitals, eliminating hospital beds. It's time to stop reducing our health care budget. Isn't it time to protect our health care workers, our families and our health care system?

On the budget, during the election, we did talk on that. People were interested in hearing about the government waste, the giveaways, these were some of the issues that people believed had driven up the debt. This, in turn, had the effect of a breakdown in services to the people of Nova Scotia, for example, health care and education. We're now facing a $32 million shortfall along with the $160 million in equalization payments. We're not in a good spot right now. What other surprises are in store for us, I wonder?

Concerns from constituents, I have to tell you that in the short period of time in which I've served as an MLA for Dartmouth East, I've heard from numerous constituents with regard to various issues they face. Within a matter of hours after being elected, in fact, in my garage putting my signs away, I had a mom bring an issue to my doorstep with regard to her son. Thanks to the efforts of many people, including my colleague Wendy Lill, this issue was settled in the best interest of the student. This shows how important proper representation can be to families in Nova Scotia. Advocacy on behalf of others is something that we all need to do more of, Mr. Speaker.

Special needs students must not be left behind. We need more resource teachers, education program assistants. We need more resources that meet the requirements of special needs student. Speech therapy and reading recovery are just some of them.

I've had calls from Dartmouth East constituents with regard to issues such as tenant's rights - people with mouldy apartments, apartment buildings, public housing, lack of smoke detectors, child care issues, a lack of subsidized child care spaces, waiting for two years to get on the list and then waiting for two years. Pharmacare, I've had seniors call me with regard to unfair penalties and high co-pays. Car insurance, I've had calls from people telling me their stories about outlandish increases, that they cannot find a reason for why these increases have occurred and people having to give up their vehicles because of these kinds of issues. Home care, I've had people call me in regard to having their home-care hours cut back and I'm hearing from other MLAs that that's happening in other constituencies and I'm just wondering if there's something going on there with that, if that's something that we should look seriously into.

[Page 947]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk a bit about the community of Dartmouth East, in particular, what is a community? In a lot of cases a community consists of your schools, your outdoor facilities, your volunteers, your businesses, community centres. A lot of times people move into a community based on the school in that community. They will move into a community because they feel the schools are great. The schools in Dartmouth East are fantastic. We have great staff, great teachers in all of these schools. We also have Akerley Campus.

Mr. Speaker, we've got numerous playgrounds in Dartmouth East, basketball courts, ballfields, soccer fields, a lot of green space. We have to protect that and make sure that we all work together to make sure that that funding comes through to keep those things going for us. We've got to protect our schools. We have to make sure that the funding is there to maintain those facilities. We cannot allow them to continue to slide into disrepair. We're too far behind on deferred maintenance now, I don't really know if it can ever be caught up. The schools provide a huge base of volunteers for the community. Our churches are providing volunteers and I can't stress how important volunteers are. If you took volunteers out of the school system, you would have to close the schools basically. Businesses support our charities, our schools, our sports' teams. I can't say enough about the community of Dartmouth East. They're really concerned people who care about the community.

Mr. Speaker, one part of the community that has a concern that I'm going to bring forward is the East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club. They have been trying for years now to get a community centre in Dartmouth East. Dartmouth East has sort of been bypassed, I guess, for any kind of a community centre. Right now actually they're operating in less than standard facilities. They need a facility in Dartmouth East. Right now they're occupying four to five spaces every day in different buildings. Actually in 1982, they were in one facility and they were moved out of that and it was supposed to be a temporary thing, but it isn't temporary because it has been awhile since 1982. We would like to see a community centre there that could serve the community and the children and the youth. All the resources would be in one spot. It would be better for everybody.

Right now, the Boys and Girls Club serves 200 children a day in these other facilities which basically, Mr. Speaker, are in the Kinsmen centre which is just a converted house - and actually that's where I had my nomination meeting - and in churches. So we're hoping that the city can get together with the province and we can all get together and communicate and get something going there for Dartmouth East on that level.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to switch now to my new critic area - the environment - and talk about a few issues revolving around that. I do believe it's time for this government to make the necessary steps now to do what's right to protect our children's future in this province. There has to be immediate action taken to protect those areas in the province that are at risk of destruction. I know that sometimes we all take the environment for granted, but it is important that our government listens to the wishes of the communities. Communities

[Page 948]

are looking for a helping hand to continue and improve on their livelihood that already exists in their communities. Communities are not necessarily looking for the government to bring in outside interests that have no root in the province, that are going to come in, take what they want, leave a big hole, and goodbye.

The people in this province want a forward-thinking government that will take immediate action to protect our province's assets, Mr. Speaker, for example, the Digby Neck quarry. I hope this government will listen to the people of Digby Neck. The folks in Little River do not want a mega quarry there. They already have sustainable alternatives in their communities. Fisheries that employ hundreds of people, the lobster fishery, urchin, herring, scallop. They have a whale watching program, I've been there a couple of times. They also have, you know that's where the endangered Northern Right Whale is. There are many sustainable local tourism industries there, hotels, restaurants and shops. This community is saying no to mega quarry in Digby Neck. This community values their way of life and their unique environment.

[5:30 p.m.]

Baltzer Bog, no environmental assessment was ever ordered here. Yet this bog is part of an unusual wetland complex that is rare in Nova Scotia. Apparently the peat layers can provide us with information on the last 12,000 years of natural history in the Annapolis Valley. If this removal continues, restoration of the wetland will become impossible. So now that the peat has been stripped away and the government has given the company over $100,000 in grants and $91,000 in business loans. Perhaps the community will finally get their environmental assessment done. It's an odd way to protect our environment, I know.

On the harbour treatment, this government needs to take the opportunity to help out HRM to provide the most current technology that's available in dealing with our harbour clean up and source control plans. An improved system such as secondary instead of just enhanced primary treatment is appropriate. The collapse of the first agreement came about due to potential problems with that system. There's a possibility of heavy toxins remaining in the sludge. The private partners didn't want to take on that burden of assuming the risk that the system would fail to meet federal environmental standards. It is likely that these federal standards will only get stricter in the near future. This system would cost more now but upgrading it down the road is going to be a much higher bill. Hopefully this government will work with HRM to provide measures now to protect the future of our harbour.

Gully Lake and Eigg Mountain, Gully Lake is a remote 4,600 hectare tract of predominantly hardwood forest northwest of Truro. Eigg Mountain and James River, 6,000 hectare hardwood plateau in the Antigonish Highlands. A designated wilderness area would be great for this community, that's what they're looking for. They want a protected wilderness. A protected wilderness is very scarce in this area. Currently there is not a single acre of protected wilderness north of the Trans Canada Highway between Cape Breton and

[Page 949]

New Brunswick. The NDP would complete the steps to protect 12 per cent of Nova Scotia's lands representing the various natural environments in our province and better protect the Crown lands from harmful exploitation.

I have met with concerned residents with regard to El Paso. This is a proposed on-shore sour gas processing plant to be located in eastern Shelburne County. It would be located close to residential areas and they feel there would be extremely toxic stack emissions and pollutants which would be a concern to them. The project also includes a 1,000 mile subsea pipeline which would transport the processed gas solely to U.S. markets. We are known as the lobster capital of Canada. We must protect the waters that have supported this fishery for generations. We must protect our sustainable resources.

The local economy must not be put at risk for a few technical jobs that aren't going to be there forever. Plans for future seismic testing and offshore drilling are being considered now. Again this community does not want El Paso. One gentleman spoke to me, he's been a lobster fisherman for the past 20 years, he said where is democracy? That's what he wants to know, that's what he asked me.

Clear cutting, 95 per cent of the wood harvested in Nova Scotia comes from clear-cutting. We have doubled the timber cut in the last 20 years. We have doubled the area of clear cut in the last 10 years. We've lost almost all of our old forests and less than 1 per cent remains of our old growth. We must begin to harvest our forest resources in a sustainable way. A way that is ecologically sound, a way that protects our water resources, wildlife habitat, outdoor recreation, tourism and our natural Acadian forests. The Nova Scotia Government has a responsibility to protect their resources.

Mr. Speaker, on the Tobeatic Wilderness Area, this is at the centre of a controversy involving the possible approval of an open pit quartz mine. It is on the border of the Tobeatic Wilderness area. This mine would cause damage to the water table, lakes and streams. It would negatively affect the wilderness area and the Clyde River watershed. Potential pollution of aquatic habitats would occur. Approval by the government without the fullest environmental assessment is going to spell danger for the future of all of our protected areas, it is just too close for comfort.

The Sydney tar ponds. Mr. Speaker, this is Canada's worst hazardous waste site. It has elevated rates of cancer, birth defects, respiratory disease, reduced life expectancy. A five block buffer zone around the site has been denied. No testing or remediation is being offered outside the 100 homes north of the coke ovens. Let's get on with the clean up. Relocation assistance for those who want it, as part of the clean up, should commence immediately. The outcome so far has been an end to public consultation.

[Page 950]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia Power says they expect to hold electricity prices steady without an increase in 2004. At what expense? Nova Scotia Power chose to sell its natural gas when prices were high and sell it to the United States rather than use it to generate cleaner electricity for us here at home. They said they must keep their prices down and at the same time reduce emissions, however, they chose to burn cheaper bunker C oil. The outcome: five of their power plants are in the top ten for Nova Scotia's largest sources of industrial pollution. Change is needed now. We must go forward with alternate energy sources such as wind generated power and natural gas. We have to move forward with a clean energy plan as soon as possible.

Mr. Speaker, I hope I have managed to touch on some of the issues facing people in my constituency and right across the province and I know I've probably left out numerous issues and concerns that people have. If I had more time, I would have a longer speech. I feel that I am going to try and learn everything I can and listen to everybody here as much as possible and communicate as well as I can. I will put my best foot forward for everybody in Dartmouth East and across this province and work as hard as I can. I thank you all for listening to me. (Applause)

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. It is an honour for me to stand here in the House and represent the people of Victoria-The Lakes. It is a new riding and being the first to be the MLA for that area is indeed an honour. I want to take some time and put before the House what the people of Victoria-The Lakes want, need and deserve.

Mr. Speaker, the constituents deserve better roads and bridges and maybe that could be accomplished by devoting gas tax to road construction and maintenance, where it belongs. My constituents deserve better education and more attention in their classrooms by reducing class sizes to 25 maybe from Primary right up to Grade 9. My constituents deserve better care for seniors. My constituents deserve shorter waiting times in our hospitals and better access to health care.

Mr. Speaker, sadly, this Speech from the Throne and this government do not provide for what the people of Victoria-The Lakes really deserve. Furthermore, what this government is talking about in this speech is quite different from what they have been talking about all along. In fact, it sounds familiar only because it is what the Liberals have been saying from the beginning. So, actually, this government has started using Liberal language like living within our means, that is a copy of what our Leader, Daniel Graham, has been saying for months. The government is talking the talk but not walking the walk. Only Liberals are walking the walk by opposing the Tory tax scheme, a tax scheme that comes at the expense of what people in Victoria-The Lakes deserve.

[Page 951]

It is not only in fiscal matters where we see this government basically poaching Liberal policy. With regard to auto insurance it was the Liberal plan and the only plan that called for legislative reduction in rates - the Tories would have left it up to the goodness of the hearts of the insurance industry and we all saw how that worked in New Brunswick. Now, after being forced into a minority government situation, we have the Conservative Party singing a different tune and that is why the bill now is before Law Amendments.

Another example is that of Sunday shopping. In the last mandate, the Minister of Justice, Michael Baker, said that the Tories had taken a principled decision against Sunday shopping and that they were sticking to it until 2005. Yet just last week we heard this same minister say that he has said all along that Nova Scotians would decide the issue and here we have a Sunday shopping bill gone to Law Amendments with a proposed plebiscite to coincide with municipal elections in 2004. This is just another example of the government trying to pull the wool over the people's eyes when in fact all along, as I said before, the Liberal Party had supported Sunday shopping with strong protection for workers right now. Mr. Speaker, make sure that workers are protected.

Yet another area where the Tories are singing a different tune is that of property assessments. In their previous mandate, this government wouldn't touch the issue of property assessments. I was Warden of Victoria County. I, and several members, along with people from Lunenburg and the Municipality of Chester, made three individual trips to Halifax, three trips to propose a resolution, propose options, try to create a schematic or a blueprint that hopefully would have been put before all the UNSM municipalities and could come before the present Fall conference in Yarmouth. But that didn't get there and we're back to square one. Now, because of a minority situation, the government is willing to look at the assessment issue again. It reminds me that somebody is asleep at the switch.

Another example of that is if we look at protected wilderness areas. In their last mandate, zero wilderness areas were protected - now there's a proposal coming forward that possibly they may look at protecting two. In the same asleep-at-the-switch vein, the government dropped the ball on election readiness which resulted in difficulty at the polls for many Nova Scotian voters. In Victoria-The Lakes there were literally thousands of people left off the voters' list. A lot of them were seniors, people who had been on the voters' list for 20, 30, 40 years. To those people, it wasn't only an upset, it was an embarrassment to be left off the list and some of them, and probably rightly so, refused to vote because they were so embarrassed at being left off the list.

I questioned the official person in charge, Ms. Willwerth, of Elections Nova Scotia. It wasn't her but it was through her office I was informed one of the problems in my area should not have existed because they sent their staff all the way down as far as they could travel into Victoria County. When I questioned how far was that, they said they went all the way to Kellys Mountain on the Trans-Canada Highway. My riding is two and one-half hours more from Kellys Mountain to Cape St. Lawrence and it's an hour and a half the opposite

[Page 952]

way so I have four hours from boundary to boundary. So somebody who went all the way on the Trans-Canada Highway is a poor excuse for what I asked then and what I ask now. When the election readiness team swings into action, we need local input from local constituencies, from local residents. They know the area very well. It wouldn't be fair for me to go down and do something in the Valley, I would be unfamiliar with it, and it's unfair for somebody from Halifax to come down and do something in Victoria-The Lakes.

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to concentrate on a couple of constituency issues, and the first one that comes to mind is the Nova Scotia Power assessment. I phoned a Nova Scotia Power assessment official this morning and he said that they, in turn, are not adverse to doing away with the present tax scheme. I believe they're getting a little tired of always being accused of not paying their fair share, and apparently it wouldn't be all that much more that they would pay. I always focus on Wreck Cove because that's what I'm more familiar with, and we toured that area. I'm very fortunate that the honourable member for Bedford came on the tour in the Spring at the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities' Spring Workshop that was held in Ingonish.

At that time, Mr. Speaker, we learned that Wreck Cove was constructed during the 1970s at $150 million-plus. It was one of these cost-plus construction jobs that went on back in those days, but presently it has an assessed value of $850,000. I'm sure there's not one resident of Cape Breton, let alone Victoria County, who wouldn't run out and get a mortgage rate for $850,000 if they wanted to sell Wreck Cove for such a low price and because of the harping on this I guess, as you would want to call it, Victoria County, for the first time ever, received $39,000 in taxes last year and they will receive another $39,000 this year. That's the only two payments that have ever come to Victoria County since the construction of Wreck Cove back in the 1970s and with that being assessed at $850,000. To me, it automatically follows through that Lingan and Point Aconi generating stations must also be far under-assessed - it's money that these small municipalities deserve.

Mr. Speaker, I will concentrate on roads and bridges. I tried to propose here in the House a resolution on roads and bridges to the extent of creating at least a one-year plan, so that people involved in the construction industry doing the paving and tendering - and in the Department of Transportation, itself, the workers are fearful of losing their jobs with so much contracting out and they're wondering where is their security - the people who do get the tenders when it's contracted out, they would have the opportunity to renew their equipment, let their staff know that they're being re-hired, and they would have a plan for the future if there was at least one year of planning, but we can't even get that.

Talking about roads and bridges, I will specifically mention the White Point Road, which is down between Neils Harbour and the New Haven area and it is advertised as the scenic route - if you defer from the Cabot Trail in Neils Harbour, that's the scenic route, the

[Page 953]

coastal route. Well, I will tell you, the reason there are more four-wheel drives in Cape Breton is not because the people are flush with money, it's a necessity. On that road you have to strap on your seatbelt real tight to keep your head from banging off the roof of your vehicle, and it's a road that we actually sent a letter about to the Department of Transportation and Public Works. Victoria County Council unanimously agreed that we would prefer if that road were graded, remove the pavement and grade the road so that we could keep away from the potholes because the road is in such a horrendous condition.

The Georges River Road - I think those people are going to all purchase helmets, not for bicycles, but for their vehicles because that road - and it's a heavily travelled road - is in a deplorable condition. It leads right into Route 223 which is the central part of Cape Breton and, Mr. Speaker, I don't know when these roads are going to be looked after, but they are a pressing priority for us. (Interruptions) There's a part of that, yes there is a part of that, but the honourable member for Inverness - the Minister of Tourism and Culture - I have spoken to him on several occasions, what I would like to do in the vein of cooperation is approach the federal members that we have in Cape Breton and between himself and myself and this government see if we can create a package for the Cabot Trail to start some infrastructure there; it's not Nova Scotia's masterpiece, it's Nova Scotia's embarrassment. It's an international icon that has been let go for 20 to 30 years. It really needs a massive infusion of money. I made the proposal to the honourable member, maybe we could start it in Victoria County and in Inverness and work eventually toward coming around so both municipalities could benefit from that.

I am going to mention some people's names in my riding and I'm going to express regrets to anyone I miss because there are always people who help you out that are missed. It's always a risk. I'm going to first and foremost begin with the northernmost tip, Bay St. Lawrence, Robert MacLellan and his wife Theresa. Robert MacLellan is the clone or the twin of the honourable gentleman here from Digby-Annapolis who's next to me. He's from the school of hard knocks, worked hard all his life and has the wisdom that this gentleman here that I just referred to has and is a personal friend, a very close friend of mine. So I want to give compliments to Robert and Theresa. When I say all the Bucks, there are numerous Buchanans in that area down there and they're all referred to as the Bucks; Paul Bonin, Teddy MacNeil and his family, Francis MacNeil and his family, Robert and David MacKinnon in the Bay St. Lawrence area.

I move up to Dingwall, Bernie Vassello, Brian and Mary Ann Fitzgerald, Lloyd and Peggy Petrie, Stan MacKinnon, people who supported me, worked hard and are pillars of their community. Cape North and Smelt Brook, what a beautiful name, Smelt Brook. Lawrence Walsh, all the MacKinnons in that area, Cyril Dunphy - Cyril lives way down at the end of that road and he can tell you how demanding the road is to travel in the summertime, not only in the winter.

[Page 954]

Neils Harbour and New Haven, Richard Gwynn, Loriane Budge, there's a lady who has a four-wheel drive and that's the only way that that lady can get through. Move up to Ingonish North, Doug and Doris Warren, seniors, elderly people, strong supporters who were extremely upset at the fact that in their rural area they did lose their polling station and they had to travel some distance in order to vote. Ingonish Beach, Bert Whitty and Sandra, Joe Doucette and Clara, excellent friends of mine and a good help to me.

Ingonish Harbour, Josephine Barron. Now imagine a fellow being referred to by the name as Bump but if I said his name nobody would know, but when you say Bump, everybody in Ingonish knows who you're talking about. Bud Barron, tough old friend of mine and all the Barrons down there - Lawrence the counsellor and all his relatives. (Interruptions) Yes and all good Liberals and I'm proud to say that, proud to say it and if there are any other members who would like to have their names mentioned who were willing to come onside, we'll mention them too. Tarbot and the North Shore, my campaign manager, Calvin Hillier and his wife Clara, a man who has severe health problems yet took on the challenge to be my manager - my wife will tell you that's no easy task - but was successful.

At times I must refer to when as we say, the members in number two position, refer to us as number three, I'd like to take this opportunity to let them know that in Victoria-The Lakes when the election was over and the votes were counted, I was number one. We move up to Tarbot and the North Shore, as I said, Calvin and Clara Hiller, Dianne MacEachern and Jackie, Christine and Duncan MacEachern, Pam and Donnie Morrison; more good Liberals, more good supporters. Englishtown, the gentleman I had the honour to replace part of the constituency, the honourable Kennie MacAskill, who was here for years, and his wife Lillian who came on board and supported me to the nth degree. Donalda and John Alex, young Kirk MacAskill who took me around in a four-wheel drive so that I could campaign in Englishtown long before the election was ever called.

Move into Baddeck, Margaret Gillis; Aubrey Ross; Charlene and Walter Ivany, Charlene just came right on board and managed my office for me; my nominator, Nancy Langley, what more can I say about that; Earl Timmons and Keith of the Red Barn; D.J. Rocky MacDonald; Gordon and Linda MacIver, Linda MacIver is my computer whiz and webmaster.

Big Harbour, Clyde Briand; Victoria Campbell; Bill MacCormick.

Middle River, here's one, Evelyn and Flora Canning. Flora Canning, Mr. Speaker, a lady who had surgery on Wednesday and was very ill on Thursday, came to my nomination and stayed the whole day long to give me her support and finished it off by saying, Gerald, if you need me back on Sunday, I will be there. That's commitment and I don't think they make them like that any more. Darren Canning, Flora's son, his wife, who composed a song

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for my success, she's an excellent songwriter, he does the singing, and sang a song for my success. (Interruption)

Mr. Speaker, with the permission of the House and the chiding of the honourable member for Cape Breton North, I will bring in my guitar and I will sing it for them if they so wish. I'm not averse to that. (Interruption) Well, I guess we did, yes, I guess we did play at the Burn Camp. Those kids enjoyed it immensely and I was very proud to be there at that. (Interruption) Yes, I understand.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes like to move adjournment of the debate.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Yes, I will move adjournment. Mr. Speaker, do I continue again at another time?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, sir.

The motion is 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 on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. The House will sit until approximately noon. The order of business will be a continuation of Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne and any other matters that we happen to come across. With that, I move we do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 956]

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:58 p.m.]

[Page 957]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 322

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas Kelly Gallagher of Shad Bay qualified for Canada's junior diving team with a strong performance at the junior nationals in London, Ontario; and

Whereas Kelly, a member of the Cygnus Diving Club, has worked hard to achieve this standing; and

Whereas Kelly Gallagher is an outstanding young Nova Scotian;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Kelly Gallagher with best wishes of good luck in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 323

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the United Commercial Travelers are a non-profit society consisting of close to 90,000 members and operating in 10 of Canada's provinces, promoting community activities, youth programs and public health and safety, to name a few; and

Whereas recently, the UCT handed out $21,500 to local groups which they raised through a TV bingo broadcast on EastLink television; and

Whereas the groups receiving the donations were United Way Bikes for Kids, Victorian Order of Nurses, Landsdowne Outdoor Recreation Department Association, Community New Horizons Club, the Special Olympics, Pictou County RCMP Crime Prevention, Pictou County Drug Awareness Committee, Pictou County Girl Guides, the YMCA and the Terry Fox Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the United Commercial Travelers on the success of their TV bingo and for their generosity to our local groups.

[Page 958]

RESOLUTION NO. 324

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the fire departments of Westchester and Wentworth have again demonstrated their commitment to our communities and citizens during the recent aftermath of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the members of these departments ensured that citizens had water and other necessities during this very difficult time; and

Whereas these departments go above and beyond the call of duty, not only during disasters, but 365 days a year;

Therefore be it resolved that as the Premier has proclaimed October 5th to October 11th to be Fire Prevention Week, let us be forever thankful for the commitment these women, men and their families make to our province each and every day.

RESOLUTION NO. 325

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the teachers throughout Nova Scotia's public education system are a truly committed professional group of educators and make a tremendous contribution to our communities and to our children; and

Whereas teachers are often overlooked for the enormous degree of individual support and professional integrity that they bring to our schools; and

Whereas the United Nations has designated October 5th as World Teacher's Day, which will be observed in over 100 countries, with this year's theme being Opening Doors to a Better World;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to the teachers of Nova Scotia in ensuring that the educational needs of today's students are met on a daily basis to ensure that they are well prepared to become the citizens and leaders needed for the future of this province.