Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-13

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

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Digby Regional HS: Extracurricular Programs - Fund,
Mr. H. Theriault 1028
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 354, Public Gardens - Telethon: Mar. Broadcasting - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 1028
Vote - Affirmative 1029
Res. 355, Ardenne, Michael John: Death of - Tribute,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1029
Vote - Affirmative 1030
Res. 356, Hurricane Juan - Aftermath: Capital Health Dist./Volunteers -
Recognize, Hon. A. MacIsaac 1030
Vote - Affirmative 1030
Res. 357, Congrès Mondial Acadien - Gov't. (N.S.) Funding:
Communities - Use, Hon. C. d'Entremont 1031
Vote - Affirmative 1032
Res. 358, Environ. & Lbr. - EDM Environmental Design:
Olympic Games (2008) - Proposal Congrats., Hon. K. Morash 1032
Vote - Affirmative 1033
Res. 359, EMO - Emergency Organizations: Hurricane Juan -
Efforts Recognize, Hon. E. Fage 1033
Vote - Affirmative 1033
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 18, Health Authorities Act, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1034
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 360, Sports - Hfx. Athens United: Sr. Women's Soccer Team -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1034
Vote - Affirmative 1034
Res. 361, Tourism - C.B. Island: Traveler Magazine - Recognition,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1035
Vote - Affirmative 1035
Res. 362, Hfx. Clayton Pk./Hfx. Citadel MLAs - Glass Houses:
Adage - Remember, Mr. G. Hines 1035
Res. 363, St. James Anglican Church (Herring Cove): Anniv. (125th) -
Congrats., Ms. M. Raymond 1036
Vote - Affirmative 1037
Res. 364, Home Support Workers Wk. (10/12-10/18/03): Workers -
Acknowledge, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1037
Vote - Affirmative 1038
Res. 365, Johnson, Jack: Agricultural Instit. (Can.) Award - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 1038
Vote - Affirmative 1038
Res. 366, CKEC Radio: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 1039
Vote - Affirmative 1039
Res. 367, Graves, James - Scotia Speedworld: Champ - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 1039
Vote - Affirmative 1040
Res. 368, Kingsport Commun. Assoc. - Beach & Marina Proj.:
Efforts - Recognize, Mr. M. Parent 1040
Vote - Affirmative 1041
Res. 369, Slaunwhite, Craig: Track & field Accomplishments -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1041
Vote - Affirmative 1041
Res. 370, McNamara, Rob. - NHL Outdoor Game (Edmonton):^
Attendance - Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1042
Vote - Affirmative 1042
Res. 371, MacKay, Emmons: Harness Racing Win (2,000th) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 1042
Vote - Affirmative 1043
Res. 372, Whitney Pier Air Cadet Squadron (587): Anniv. (50th) -
Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 1043
Vote - Affirmative 1044
Res. 373, Celtic Colours Fest. (2003) - Organizers/Performer/Visitors:
Best Wishes - Extend, Mr. Michel Samson 1044
Vote - Affirmative 1044
Res. 374, Yarmouth Reg. Hosp. Women's Aux. Hullabaloo -
Volunteers: Appreciation - Express, Hon. R. Hurlburt 1045
Vote - Affirmative 1045
Res. 375, Mont, Carolyn/CRABapple Proj.: Concept - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 1045
Vote - Affirmative 1046
Res. 376, Public Gardens Fundraiser: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Graham 1046
Vote - Affirmative 1047
Res. 377, Logan, Stewart: Princess Diana Humanitarian Award -
Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 1047
Vote - Affirmative 1048
Res. 378, UNSM: Work - Recognize, Mr. Gerald Sampson 1048
Vote - Affirmative 1048
Res. 379, Iroquois Rock - Unveiling: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1049
Vote - Affirmative 1049
Res. 380, Sports - Hfx. Athens United: Sr. Women's Soccer Team -
Congrats., Mr. S. McNeil 1049
Vote - Affirmative 1050
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 104, Health - Soldiers Mem. Hosp.: Physicians - Retention,
Mr. D. Dexter 1050
No. 105, Fin. - Budget: Contingency Adjustments - Lack Explain,
Mr. D. Graham 1051
No. 106, Prem. - Seniors Nursing Care Assessments/$155 Cheques:
Priorities - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 1053
No. 107, Fin. - Census Problem: Auditor General - Notification,
Mr. D. Graham 1054
No. 108, Prem. - Nursing Home Residents: Personal Use Allowance -
Increases Details, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1056
No. 109, Treasury & Policy Bd.: Dept. Critical Issues Papers - Table,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1057
No. 110, Insurance - Facility Association: Drivers - Protect, Mr. G. Steele 1058
No. 111, Health - Home Care Prog.: Rick Laird - Efficacy,
Mr. S. McNeil 1059
No. 112, Health - Autism: Treatment Shortages - Action,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1060
No. 113, Commun. Serv. - Smoke Detectors (Battery): Time Line -
Details, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1061
No. 114, Educ. - Preston/Dept.: 1970s Agreement - Table,
Mr. K. Colwell 1062
No. 115, Health - C.B. Addiction Ctr.: Cutback - Explain, Mr. G. Gosse 1063
No. 116, Educ. - Cuts: Post-Secondary Students - Effects, Mr. L. Glavine 1064
No. 117, Human Rights: Dollarama Case (Truro) - Details,
Mr. F. Corbett 1065
No. 118, Tourism & Culture - Heritage Properties:
Hurricane Juan Damages - Assessment, Mr. Gerald Sampson 1067
No. 119, Commun. Serv.: Adoption Information Legislation - Status,
Ms. M. More 1068
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Ms. D. Whalen 1071
Hon. B. Barnet 1072
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1079
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1088
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1088
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 4:40 P.M. 1089
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 4:45 P.M. 1089
CWH REPORTS 1089
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
EMO - Hurricane Juan Victims: Emergency Assistance - Provide:
Mr. J. Pye 1090
Hon. D. Morse 1093
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1096
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 15th at 2:00 p.m. 1098
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 381, Operation Splinter - 84th Independent Field Battery:
Efforts - Recognize, Hon. R. Hurlburt 1099
Res. 382, Kings Transit: Success - Recognize, Mr. M. Parent 1099
Res. 383, Fidelis House (Kentville) - Vols.: Work - Recognize,
Mr. M. Parent 1100

[Page 1027]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 14, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the province should immediately provide emergency assistance for those left without food, shelter or means of earning their livelihood as a result of Hurricane Juan.

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

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I wish to introduce a group of students who are joining us today in the gallery. I would like to draw your attention and the attention of the members of the House, to the gallery. We have Grade 9 students from Clayton Park Junior High School in the riding of Halifax Clayton Park. They are accompanied today by the Vice-Principal Jamie Moore; Joe Murphy, their teacher; and also two parents Mr. Nodine and Mrs. Defrehan. I wonder if the students would rise and receive the recognition of the House. (Applause)

1027

[Page 1028]

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing some 180 signatures. The petition calls on the government to help with funding extracurricular programs at the Digby Regional High School. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 354

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

Whereas the 26 radio stations that make up Maritime Broadcasting Systems hosted a telethon this weekend to raise funds to aid in the restoration of Halifax's Public Gardens, so badly devastated at the hands of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas thanks to the volunteers from across the Maritimes, and the generosity of thousands of Canadians, the telethon raised more than $1 million; and

Whereas Nova Scotians will have a further opportunity to help their friends and neighbours, communities and organizations directly affected by the storm with the recent establishment of the Nova Scotia Hurricane Juan Recovery Fund;

[Page 1029]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the management and staff of Maritime Broadcasting, as well as many volunteers who made this weekend's telethon such a success by generously contributing their time and talents to the worthy cause of restoring the Public Gardens.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 355

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

Whereas Michael John Ardenne of Seabright passed away suddenly during the weekend; and

Whereas Mr. Ardenne was a well-respected businessman and a champion of music, arts and culture in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Ardenne spent 17 years in the Nova Scotia Government, and earlier this year was named a member of the Nova Scotia Arts and Culture Partnership Council;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend its sympathy to Mr. Ardenne's family, and its gratitude to Mr. Ardenne for helping to make Nova Scotia a better place in which to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1030]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 356

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

Whereas close partnerships between numerous organizations are essential to our health system in the best of times, but in a crisis they become vital to ensure the health and safety of Nova Scotians; and

Whereas in the aftermath of Hurricane Juan over 200 patients and numerous staff of Capital Health District benefited from the responsiveness, cooperation and caring of surrounding district health authorities and organizations such as the IWK Health Centre, Northwood Care, CFB Stadacona and Shannex Health Care; and

Whereas these organizations not only provided space for relocated patients, but gave comfort to families and, in one case, even opened their doors to provide hot showers for Capital Health District staff;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the many people and organizations within and around the Capital Health District for their contribution to health care in Nova Scotia during a very challenging time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[Page 1031]

RESOLUTION NO. 357

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will read the resolution in French with the translation to follow.

M. le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que l'année 2004 marque le 400e anniversaire du premier établissement européen permanent en Amérique du Nord et la fondation de l'Acadie; et

Attendu que les activités communautaires dans l'ensemble de la Nouvelle-Écosse joueront un rôle important dans les célébrations de cet anniversaire et sans doute seront complémentaires aux activités du Congrès mondial acadien; et

Attendu que le gouvernement de la Nouvelle-Écosse fournit 50 000$ pour aider les organisations locales voulant marquer cet anniversaire avec des festivales et des événements;

Qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette Chambre encouragent leurs communautés à tirer profit des argents disponibles pour célébrer un partie importante de notre patrimoine et leur souhaitent beaucoup de succès avec leurs événements.

M. le président, je demande l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débat.

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

Whereas 2004 marks the 400th Anniversary of the permanent European settlement in North America, the founding of Acadie; and

Whereas community-based activities throughout Nova Scotia will play an important part of the anniversary celebrations and will no doubt complement the activities of the Congrés mondial acadien; and

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia is providing $50,000 to help local organizations mark this anniversary with festivals and events;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage their communities to take advantage of the available funding to celebrate an important part of our heritage, and wish them much success in their activities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1032]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 358

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

Whereas Halifax-based (EDM) Environmental Design and Management Ltd. has teamed up with four other companies competing to create the Olympic Forest Park and Olympic Green for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and the team has been named one of the top eight finalists in this international competition; and

Whereas EDM is a planning company best known for its solar aquatic sewage treatment plants and wetland and land restoration projects; and

Whereas the Halifax company, which employs 10 people, has already had the advantage of working in Beijing doing wetland restoration;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating all those at (EDM) Environmental Design and Management Ltd. on making it to the final stages of the competition to create the Olympic Forest Park and Olympic Green for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing and extend our sincere wish that they are successful in this competition.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1033]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 359

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

Whereas just 10 days after Hurricane Juan left a path of destruction across our communities, Halifax was the host for the annual national conference of the Association of Public Safety Communications Officials; and

Whereas at this conference, Halifax was held up as an example that other cities in Canada should follow, for its capacity to deal with a disaster; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has been a leader in Canada in developing a state-of-the-art communication system, linking all levels of government and emergency organizations, so that they can be quickly mobilized in the event of an emergency or disaster to mount a coordinated response;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the incredible joint efforts of this province's emergency organizations, those working at all levels of government and all of the other 400 agencies that have made Nova Scotia a leader in emergency preparedness.

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 1034]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 18 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 2000, the Health Authorities Act. (Mr. David Wilson, Glace Bay)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 360

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

Whereas the goal scored by Leanne Huck, the Halifax Athens United senior women's soccer team headed into overtime and then penalty kicks at the national women's soccer championships in Montreal yesterday; and

Whereas penalty kicks by Athens players Andrea Gillespie, Claire Martin, Amber Coldwell and Katie Radchuck won this historic game; and

Whereas the superb goal tending of Liz Cook stopped the Quebec team in their tracks, giving Nova Scotia its first-ever national gold medal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the Halifax Athens United senior women's soccer team and Head Coach Bob Rumscheidt on their spectacular gold medal win - a first for Nova Scotia - at the national soccer championship in Montreal on Monday, October 13, 2003.

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 1035]

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 361

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

Whereas Conde Nast Traveler magazine named Cape Breton the number two North American island to visit; and

Whereas our Island was recognized at the magazine's annual Reader's Choice Awards in New York, and puts Cape Breton on the map as a world-class vacation destination for North Americans; and

Whereas the criteria for the awards consisted of ambience, friendliness, culture, sites, restaurants, lodging and shopping;

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize Cape Breton as the number two island in North America to visit, as indicated in the Conde Nast Traveler magazine.

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 362

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

Whereas it was during the tumultuous time when the Liberals where last in power that the province had their credit rating downgraded by Moody's Investor Services following the release of their first budget in 1993; and

[Page 1036]

Whereas this downgrade cost the province millions and millions of dollars in added interest payments; and

Whereas the members for Halifax Clayton Park and Halifax Citadel should recognize that under the direction of our very capable Premier and Minister of Finance that this province's credit rating was upgraded, because as one rating agency stated, "the government's efforts in recent years have resulted in a marked overall improvement in the province's financial position";

Therefore be it resolved that the members for Halifax Clayton Park and Halifax Citadel remember the old saying about people who live in glass houses should not be throwing stones.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 363

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

Whereas St. James Anglican Church, "a little church . . . as plain as possible" designed by William Critchlow Harris for the Village of Herring Cove, held its first service 125 years ago in September 1878; and

Whereas the parishioners of St. James have lovingly maintained the church and cemetery and have recently restored the church bell to service in preparation for their 125th Anniversary; and

Whereas the anniversary service went forward as planned on the afternoon of September 28 , 2003 only a few hours before Hurricane Juan swept through the cove;

[Page 1037]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the parishioners of St. James Anglican Church on their efforts and devotion and share in their heartfelt thanks that there was no loss of life in Herring Cove.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 364

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

Whereas October 12th to 18th has been proclaimed as Home Support Worker Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas dedicated home support workers across this province play an integral role in our health care system; and

Whereas these same home support workers blend compassion with professionalism in providing health care services to people in their own homes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge home support workers across this province and extend our appreciation to all those who provide this valuable service to the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 1038]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 365

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

Whereas Lower Truro resident Jack Johnson was one of four Canadians recently recognized as having made a lifetime of outstanding contribution to this nation's agriculture industry; and

Whereas Jack was in Ottawa and received the highest honour presented by the Agricultural Institute of Canada; and

Whereas Jack's lifelong involvement in agriculture, including growing up on a farm in Onslow where he became a 4-H leader and later he became director of the Soils and Crops branch of the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing where programs were introduced that led to many improvements on farms across Nova Scotia while also spending some time as chairman of the Nova Scotia Dairy Commission;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly commend Jack Johnson from Lower Truro in the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley for receiving a national award of such magnitude and wish him every future success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 1039]

RESOLUTION NO. 366

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

Whereas CKEC Radio AM 1320 has successfully served northeastern Nova Scotia and beyond for 50 years; and

Whereas CKEC celebrated their golden anniversary on Friday, October 10th with a gala dinner and broadcast from Glasgow Square, New Glasgow with community friends, business people and staff past and present; and

Whereas Pictonians have fond memories of growing up with CKEC radio and hundreds of people dropped into their live broadcast celebration on Friday;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate owner Doug Freeman and all the staff at CKEC for 50 great years and wish them continued success for the next 50.

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. 367

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

Whereas James Graves finished as the 2003 points champion in Scotia Speed World's sportsman division; and

Whereas Mr. Graves has been racing for 14 years and drives a modified 2002 Grand Prix in the sportsman class, one level removed from the pro stock level; and

[Page 1040]

Whereas he credits his racing success largely to the efforts of his strong team, the Valley Racing Boys;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate James Graves and the Valley Racing Boys for finishing first in the Scotia Speed World's sportsman division.

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. 368

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

Whereas the beach and marina project in Kingsport is an excellent example of how a community can mobilize to bring about positive development in their area; and

Whereas the Kingsport Community Association worked with branches of the provincial and federal governments to gain financial support for the project, as well as donating hours of volunteer labour to make the project feasible; and

Whereas a boat launch ramp has been built, a floating dock established, and a boardwalk with an access ramp has been built to the beach below;

Therefore be is resolved that the members of this House recognize the efforts of the Kingsport Community Association and its many volunteers who have made the first phase of the Kingsport beach and marina project possible, and recognize the incredible community spirit of the people of Kingsport.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1041]

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. 369

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

Whereas Craig Slaunwhite of Brookside is an outstanding track and field athlete; and

Whereas Craig recently finished sixth, with 6,746 points, in the decathlon at the Canadian National Track and Field Championships in Victoria, British Columbia; and

Whereas Craig's accomplishments are the results of his dedication and hard work;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Craig Slaunwhite with best wishes and good luck in his 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 Glace Bay.

[Page 1042]

RESOLUTION NO. 370

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 Cape Breton native Rob MacNamara will be attending the Hockey Heritage Classic weekend in Edmonton; and

Whereas the game between the Montreal Canadiens and the Edmonton Oilers will be held on November 22nd, and will mark the first outdoor NHL game and the 86th Anniversary of the first NHL game ever played; and

Whereas three other Capers living in Fort St. John will join Rob on the trip: Troy Baldwin of Glace Bay, Glen Walker of Dominion, and Gillis MacDonald also of Dominion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rob MacNamara and the Capers from Fort St. John on being attendees at the NHL's first outdoor game to be held next month in Edmonton.

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. 371

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

Whereas Emmons MacKay became a member of an elite club of harness race drivers when he won his 2,000th race at the Truro Raceway on August 2, 2003; and

Whereas Emmons MacKay had his landmark 2,000th win during Atlantic Grand Circuit week, when he drove his own horse, Magic Aurora, to victory in race eight; and

[Page 1043]

Whereas during his career, which spans six decades, Emmons has won most of the major races on the Maritime circuit, including the Rufin Barrieau Memorial and the Provincial Cup;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Emmons MacKay on his 2,000th win, and wish him continued success in his harness racing career as he goes for his 3,000th victory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 372

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

Whereas the 587 Whitney Pier Air Cadet Squadron received its official charter from the Air Cadet League on March 11, 1954, and continues to flourish today;

Whereas the Whitney Pier Squadron has been involved in many worthwhile community projects, including such high-profile events as the Gathering of the Clans and the Festival of Visual Arts; and

Whereas with the guidance of officers and staff from the local community, cadets from the 587 Squadron have gone on to fill substantial roles in their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the 587 Whitney Pier Air Cadet Squadron and Commanding Officer Allan Burke on 50 successful years of operation in the Whitney Pier community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1044]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 373

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

Whereas the 7th annual 2003 Celtic Colours International Festival began last Friday and will come to a close on Saturday, October 18th; and

Whereas Celtic Colours showcases some of the finest Celtic musicians, singers, dancers, storytellers and culture bearers from around the Island and around the world; and

Whereas over 300 artists from all over the Celtic world including Scotland, Ireland, the United States, Brittany and Canada perform at over 30 venues around the Island;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House wish the organizers, performers and visitors all the best during this year's 2003 Celtic Colours International Festival.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

[Page 1045]

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 374

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

Whereas the Women's Auxiliary of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital's 43rd Hullabaloo was another outstanding success; and

Whereas this year's event attracted almost 2,000 people and is expected to raise $65,000 by the time all the money is collected; and

Whereas the money raised from this year's Hullabaloo will go towards the purchase of equipment for the diabetic lab at the Yarmouth Regional Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in expressing our appreciation to the many dedicated volunteers who make the Women's Auxiliary of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital's Hullabaloo such a success every 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.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 375

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

Whereas Halifax Atlantic includes a wide variety of ecological systems; and

[Page 1046]

Whereas the CRABapple Project in Spryfield has produced a series of young people's 'ECO-Packs', which are activity kits designed for the exploration of different ecological zones in the area (Pond, Forest, Old Field, Ocean Shore, Bog, Barrens, Backyard and Rivers and Streams); and

Whereas the project has made these backpacks available on loan from the Captain William Spry Library so that families can explore the natural wealth of their own community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carolyn Mont and the CRABapple Project on this imaginative concept and their extremely professional production of the ECO-Packs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 376

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

Whereas the Public Gardens in Halifax was recently devastated by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas a radio fundraiser last weekend brought in more than $1 million worth of support to begin restoring the gardens to its natural Victorian state; and

Whereas the Maritime Broadcasting System hosted the six-hour fundraiser on radio stations throughout Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island - far surpassing its goal of $500,000;

[Page 1047]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the organizers, volunteers and all the contributors throughout the Maritimes and Canada for their support in the fundraising efforts to restore the Public Gardens.

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.

Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 377

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

Whereas Stewart Logan of Lyons Brook, Pictou County, is the 2003 recipient of the Princess Diana Humanitarian Award from the Municipality of Pictou County; and

Whereas this award is given annually to an individual who demonstrates volunteer leadership and service to their community; and

Whereas Mr. Logan has long been active in his community and is presently the chairman of the school advisory council for his local schools and a member of the board of directors of the Pictou County District Health Authority and Pictou West Community Health Board and the Pictou County Help Line;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Mr. Stewart Logan as a very worthy recipient of this year's Princess Diana Humanitarian Award from the Municipality of Pictou County.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1048]

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. 378

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

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities continues, as it has from 1905, to be a strong advocate for the interests of municipal units in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the UNSM holds an annual conference that gives delegates an opportunity to not only present problems of concern but also offer solutions of importance; and

Whereas in attending this year's annual conference, the provincial government offer solid recommendations on how to improve the relationship it has with the UNSM and therefore afford the UNSM the respect it deserves;

Therefore be it resolved that all members recognize the important work of the UNSM as the voice of not only the first level of government, but the one closest to the people, as it begins its 98th Annual Conference in Yarmouth.

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 1049]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 379

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 unveiling of the rock depicting the Iroquois creation myth took place at the home of Gary Hackett and Susan Norris in Lewis Lake on Saturday, September 27th; and

Whereas this masterpiece is the result of two years of hard work by Adrian Francescutti; and

Whereas the neighbours and the community celebrated this achievement on that evening;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Adrian Francescutti, and thank Susan Norris and Gary Hackett for the celebration of this work.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 380

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

Whereas the Halifax Athens United women's soccer team won Nova Scotia's first Canadian senior women's soccer championship held in Quebec City; and

Whereas the Halifax Athens United won against Quebec's FC Selects Rive-Sud, 4-1 in penalty kicks; and

[Page 1050]

Whereas Nova Scotia women's teams have won five silver medals at the national senior soccer championships in the last decade;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the coaches and players of Halifax Athens United on winning Nova Scotia's first Canadian women's soccer 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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:36 p.m. and end at 3:36 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - SOLDIERS MEM. HOSP.: PHYSICIANS - RETENTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this weekend Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton closed its emergency room for 24 hours due to lack of doctors. This facility now joins the closed emergency room club with hospitals in communities such as Digby, Glace Bay, Springhill and Shelburne. In 2002, Valley doctors said they would not stay and tolerate underfunding, and the Middleton area has lost at least three family physicians since then. My question to the Minister of Health is, up until now Middleton did not have a problem with physician coverage, how could the government allow the situation to deteriorate to this point?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the opportunity to address this subject. Certainly, the issue of recruitment is a challenge, and it's a challenge that we face on a continuing basis, throughout every year. We are working very hard to address that. We work with the DHAs, and we're continuing to work with them to address this situation.

[Page 1051]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister misunderstands, it's not about recruitment, it's about retention. These are doctors who are leaving. On September 5th, the Valley Regional Hospital diverted patients away from that facility for 15 hours due to the lack of in-patient beds and overcrowding in the emergency department. This facility has been plagued with overcrowding, cancelled surgeries and the inability to recruit necessary front-line workers. Valley residents were promised issues of inequitable funding would be addressed. It appears that this is yet another broken Tory promise. I would like to ask the minister, how many more doctors have to leave the Valley before this government wakes up and realizes there is a problem?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the situation with respect to beds is a matter that is being addressed. We're working with the health authority. Part of that solution, of course, is to find long-term care beds, and we're working toward that. We're confident that we will be able to alleviate that shortage to which the honourable member referred in the very near future.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Liberals slashed beds and closed facilities right across the Valley, and the Tories stepped in to allow this district to wither under chronic underfunding. Berwick has no emergency room, Annapolis has barely hung on to five beds in its ER, and now Middleton is resorting to temporary closures. I want to ask the minister, through you, Mr. Speaker, the patients have to go somewhere, so where are they to go the next time the Valley Regional Hospital turns them away because it's full?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member, we are addressing the problem with respect to the shortage of beds at the Valley Regional Hospital,

and when that is addressed - and it is in the process of being addressed - then of course the problem to which he refers will be alleviated.

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

FIN. - BUDGET:

CONTINGENCY ADJUSTMENTS - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Five and a half months are left in this fiscal year and deep cuts are anticipated, perhaps for seniors, for students and for patients in this province. Other provinces showed the foresight, the leadership, the good management over a 12-month period to budget wisely. For example, on April 10, 2003, the Minister responsible for Finance in Prince Edward Island presented a budget in which she stated, ". . . we have built a contingency into the federal transfers for the likely impact of the population revisions that are anticipated later in 2003, as a result of the 2001 Census. These contingencies amount to $17.5 million." That was given back on April 10, 2003, just one week after the budget was tabled in Nova Scotia.

[Page 1052]

My question for the minister is the following: Could the minister inform this House why his government was not able to make the same kind of contingency adjustments in his budget so that we would be prepared for the equalization shortfall?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, I will remind him again that the numbers that we have been given by the federal government are not final yet. The impact of what that is going to be is not final yet and, indeed, if he had been listening to the federal minister on Friday he would have heard the federal minister say that we have to work our way through this problem.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, before the budget was tabled, last Spring the minister must have known, or should have known that the census numbers would result in an equalization reduction. Today, despite his answer, he should also have some idea as to how much it would cost. For example, the Government of Saskatchewan issued their quarterly report on July 30th where it was stated that as a result of expected census adjustments, equalization payments are forecast to decline by $75 million. Now if the Government of Saskatchewan had enough information on July 30th of this year, then surely this minister had some indication there would be a shortfall. My question for the minister is, Mr. Minister, when did your government know about the census adjustments in revenues?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will refer again to the opportunity we had to meet with that honourable member and the Leader of the Opposition in early September. We indicated to them at the time that we expected the numbers to be out shortly but we didn't have them as yet. We found out, shortly after that meeting sometime in September, what the numbers will be. The federal government has said again they were revising the numbers and they will be out in the next few days. When we get the numbers, we will deal with the issue.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, it is a stretch to suggest that this Minister of Finance and his department only found out in September, I would suggest. In light of the information that came forward from the Minister of Finance in Supply, it's clear that this information was known some time ago. Saskatchewan knew there was a problem and adjusted. Prince Edward Island knew they had a problem and they adjusted, but last Wednesday, after Question Period, this Minister of Finance said outside this Chamber, what we don't know right now is how this is going to go forward. It seems that the only Minister of Finance who doesn't know how this is going forward or how much it will cost is the Nova Scotia Minister of Finance. The question that Nova Scotians want answered is why?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has read from the budget document that was released and what we released in the Spring. What he didn't say is what we told the people of Nova Scotia is that there would be challenges in balancing this budget. We didn't know a hurricane was coming. We didn't know there were other things coming along. Those things that we have to deal with, we, as a government, will deal with.

[Page 1053]

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

PREM. - SENIORS NURSING CARE ASSESSMENTS/$155 CHEQUES: PRIORITIES EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In 2002, this government identified $55 million in seniors' assets to pay for nursing home care. As you know, this is health care that would be covered in any other setting at no charge. In spite of the evident hardship this causes many seniors, the Premier in the last budget debate said we couldn't afford to end this Draconian practice that was started by the Liberals. My question for the Premier is, why did his Party choose $155 pre-election cheques instead of ending these financial assessments sooner?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. JOHN HAMM (Premier): Mr. Speaker, the success that we've had over the last four years has been derived by a balanced approach of balancing ways in which we can increase revenues and using those increased revenues to provide the services to which the member made reference.

I do want to indicate to members of the House and the population at large that many others agree with the approach the government is taking. I'm going to quote here from a document, Performance and Potential 2003-04: Defining the Canadian Advantage, put out by the Conference Board of Canada. I think a copy of this is in the library, but if it isn't then we'll make this copy available. It says here, "In an integrated economy such as ours, North American taxation levels matter in the choice of investment site . . . increasing overall taxation levels may adversely affect the medium- and longer-term potential rates of economic growth." What we have to do - and I think one of the fundamental differences between our Parties is, we believe in investing in growth to provide the revenues that we all want for services.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, no amount of justification will allow this government to justify the gouging, the stripping of seniors of their assets in order to pay for health care. I want to table this document obtained by my office through freedom of information. It shows that as of July, this government has identified nearly $60 million in seniors' life savings to pay for health care. In spite of the tinkering in November and the even more tinkering in April, the Hamm Government has already surpassed the assets identified in 2002. I want to ask the Premier, why don't you just admit the changes your government made were nothing more than smoke and mirrors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is aware that there are inequities in health care funding in the long-term care sector. We have agreed, by way of our platform, to address these as money becomes available. There are many, many very justifiable demands

[Page 1054]

on the public purse. It is the responsibility of government to balance these justifiable demands.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the point is that this is unjustified. This is an unjustified taking of what people have worked a lifetime for. This government can't fool the seniors of Nova Scotia who are still going through the devastating financial assessment process when a loved one needs nursing home care. I want to ask the Premier, your Party is willing to spend millions on pre-election gimmicks, why wasn't it willing to end the devastating financial assessment process?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I hope the Leader of the Opposition is not suggesting that investments in schools, in the community college, in our hospitals, are unjustifiable expenditures. What this government is doing is balancing its priorities. I would hope that when the member opposite gets to his feet he would indicate that he's not suggesting that those expenditures are not justifiable?

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

FIN. - CENSUS PROBLEM: AUDITOR GENERAL - NOTIFICATION

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that I've enjoyed a great deal of the exchange between the Premier and the Leader of the Opposition over the last short while about the finances of the province. The Premier seems to be speaking about the balanced books, but I think it's clear that it's no longer clear just how balanced - or if they were balanced in the past. I think it's important to note that the NDP is speaking about an important issue, seniors again. It's important to note that if they would do the right thing and agree to cancel the tax cut that is scheduled for October 15th, or we have time to cancel by October 15th, then seniors in Nova Scotia would be taken care of.

My question, Mr. Speaker, is for the Minister of Finance. I note with some interest that he is now hiding behind the hurricane skirt when he speaks about the finances of this province, but we have a letter dated here, April 2, 2003, by the Auditor General . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: What's the question?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

AN HON. MEMBER: Give him the question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The questions and the answers are getting too long and as much as I hate to, I am going to shut members off and ask them to take their place and I'm going to go on to the next speaker.

[Page 1055]

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, your question, please.

MR. GRAHAM: My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Finance, when the Auditor General signed this letter, was he advised by the Minister of Finance's office that there was a census problem?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I don't have the letter the honourable member refers to. The census problem had been discussed, over the last number of years there was talk about what was going to happen. But more importantly, the part of this that is all going forward - and I can inform the honourable member that with our meeting with the federal minister - it appears that Nova Scotia and all the rest of the provinces and the Government of Canada is committed to the equalization program and getting that done for the first of April of next year.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, there is an opportunity, while I'm asking my question for the Minister of Finance to review the letter that I was referring to. I have a second copy if he wishes. I noticed that he may not have it in his hands right now.

Last week, the minister said there were ongoing discussions between his office and the Auditor General. My question for the Minister of Finance, could he confirm that his discussions with the Auditor General are about the valuation of pension funds?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question by the honourable member is yes, there are discussions going on with the Auditor General and the discussions are wide ranging. They cover the whole spectrum of last year's financial statement. It is the intent of the department to meet with the Auditor General to conclude last year's business, so I will be able to bring that statement and present it to the House.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table Page A13 of the most recent Budget of the Province of Nova Scotia. It was tabled on April 3rd. Information from the federal Department of Justice, however, two months earlier, in February 2003, from their Web site says that for some reason their budget estimates for equalization were $34 million more than what was forecast by the federal government in February. Can the minister explain the discrepancy between the $34 million that was forecast in February by the federal government for equalization and the April numbers that were $34 million less?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member picks a number but this letter that he just did give me, says clearly here from the Auditor General, the 2003-04 revenue estimates as presented reflect fairly such assumptions and figures and that's the letter that he gave me. (Applause)

[Page 1056]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

PREM. - NURSING HOME RESIDENTS:

PERSONAL USE ALLOWANCE - INCREASES DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Premier. In the dying days of the election, the Premier who was clearly in a say-anything mode promised a raise in the $105 personal use allowance for nursing home residents, even though it wasn't in the Conservative platform and it wasn't in the Conservative Throne Speech either. So, in case the Premier forgot about the promise, I would like to table a copy of the newspaper articles that reported it and I would like to remind the Premier that seniors haven't forgotten this promise.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is quite simple. When are the personal use allowances going to increase for nursing home residents and by how much are they going to increase?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, I very clearly remember making that commitment to the people of Nova Scotia. It will be in next year's budget.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, nursing home staff tell me they collect recyclables to help residents buy toothpaste and tissues and families are forced to subsidize residents for haircuts, snacks and other comforts because the $105 a month is not enough. When I asked the Minister of Health last year about an increase to the personal use allowance, he refused to commit to an annual review or any kind of increase. These seniors did not get the $155 cheque mailed prior to the election. I want to ask the Premier, why is he making seniors wait to get the relief that they so desperately need?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings an opposite issue to the attention of the House, the personal care allowance available in our long-term care sector. At $105, it isn't what it should be, and the government will make appropriate adjustments, but it will do so in concert with the many other demands that are being made on the public purse.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's clear that the Department of Health has been making up the rules as it goes along on this one. My office requested written policy or regulations governing personal use allowances and were unable to receive anything from the Department of Health. I would like to ask the Premier, if you're really looking at increasing this allowance and you're really committed to doing something in the budget, will you table, here in the House, what seniors can expect to be considered as part of what it is that they will receive compensation for?

[Page 1057]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is an important issue and one with which I am very familiar, because I spent a lot of time, before I became a politician, working in the long-term care sector. On the other hand, I don't believe the member opposite is being serious, to suggest that we're beginning the budget debate today. What the government has made is a commitment that we will increase the personal care allowance, and we will do so.

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

TREASURY & POLICY BD.:

DEPT. CRITICAL ISSUES PAPERS - TABLE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Chair of the Treasury and Policy Board. It has come to our attention that prior to the election the deputy of Treasury and Policy Board asked departments for critical issue papers in order to assist in managing government after the election. Just recently these papers have been submitted to the deputy of Treasury and Policy Board. Among the topics, these critical issues papers include the fiscal imperative social policy and economic development. I would ask the minister, would he be so kind as to table those papers in the House before the end of the sitting today?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. It's very important that public servants in Nova Scotia get together and begin to assist government in coming up with policy. The meeting in question was one where the deputy ministers were getting together to assist government in coming forward with policy. Once those recommendations have come forward to Cabinet, Cabinet will make the final decision.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, all I asked for was to table the documents which are out there - and we know they're out there - before this House today. It's this House that should be able to determine whether or not these documents are in the best interest of a go-forward position with their financial initiatives in the future with this government. We know that these have been prepared for the senior deputy and they don't fall under advice to Cabinet - we know that as well - so if they don't fall under advice to Cabinet, why won't the minister present them to the House today?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect to the honourable member, in fact that is part of the function of the Public Service, which is to provide advice to the Executive Council. It's the Executive Council that determines government policy, not deputy ministers.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, one of the papers in question was prepared by Senior Financial Analyst Frank Dunn, with the Treasury and Policy Board, regarding the province's fiscal situation. I would ask, by way of a final supplementary to the minister, could the minister at the very least table that particular platform process by the government analyst Frank Dunn?

[Page 1058]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member before, it is government that makes the decision on what is government policy. We receive advice from lots of public servants, welcome the advice, but it ultimately is a government decision.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INSURANCE - FACILITY ASSOCIATION: DRIVERS - PROTECT

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. Last week I tabled documents in this House showing the number of people going into the insurer of last resort is actually increasing. On Friday my office received a call from a child protection worker who is one of those people being forced into the Facility Association. So my question for the minister, what is the minister doing to make sure that insurance companies are not gouging drivers by forcing them into Facility Association?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, contrary to what the honourable member is suggesting, the numbers going into Facility are decreasing and, secondly, it's not the policy of the government to get more people into Facility, but to take people out of Facility.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, last week the minister said he had no idea whether there were more or fewer people in Facility. So if the minister has that information now, I certainly would welcome if he would table it. I want to table the letter this child protection worker received. The worker has been told that her policy is being cancelled because she might transport children. Her rate in Facility will be 169 per cent higher. She did shop around, but no one will insure her because her policy was cancelled. Nothing in the government's plan will help her. So my question to the minister, when will the minister admit that his plan has failed this child protection worker and thousands of other Nova Scotians?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member obviously doesn't understand is that the plan cannot go ahead until the legislation passes this House and I don't see that Opposition Party doing anything to expedite that particular piece of legislation.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if that bill passes today without amendment, it still will not help this particular child protection worker. When she phoned her broker, she was told she could go back to her old rate if she quit her job. The government's plan is clearly not working. My question for this minister, for how long will hard-working Nova Scotians have to quit their jobs in order to get reasonably priced car insurance?

[Page 1059]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the gross exaggeration exhibited by that member is beyond comprehension. I would ask the honourable member to forward the details to me and I will pass them on to the Superintendent of Insurance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH - HOME CARE PROG.: RICK LAIRD - EFFICACY

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A constituent of mine by the name of Rick Laird called me because of his concern about the government's Home Care Program. Mr. Laird is disabled. In June his home care was cut off. Since that time, Mr. Laird's brother has helped Rick through this most difficult time. However, Rick's brother works 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m., so from 3:00 p.m. until 11:00 p.m. Rick is by himself. There is no way for him to get in or out of bed. My question for the minister, does the minister feel that Mr. Laird's health care needs are being adequately met at this time?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member might understand, it's very difficult for me to get involved and comment upon individual cases in the House. Certainly if the honourable member provides the details of that particular situation at this time, I would be happy to follow up with it.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, Rick is now back in the hospital for the second time in two weeks. Where is the dignity and quality of life for Mr. Laird, who is by the way only 46 years old, when the only long-term option being provided by the government is a nursing home? There is a solution - the implementation of a province-wide self-managed attendant service program. Incidentally, it's what this government promised in their last mandate and failed to deliver. Why won't the minister invest in self-managed care, a program that will reduce the use of hospital beds, long-term care beds and the overall attendant service costs?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to comment on the subject matter brought forward by the honourable member. The situation and the program to which he refers is one which had been in place in this province prior to the province taking over long-term care and it was administered by municipalities. It was administered in an inconsistent manner throughout the province. We have had a challenge to examine that program and to come forward with an alternative. It is however under consideration by the department at this time, but I can't give the honourable member a date as to when there would be any implementation.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, we are not asking the government for more money, we are asking them to spend the money more efficiently. According to the Health Department, this program will cost between $5 million and $6 million. To put this in perspective, the $6 million program is $138 million cheaper than the tax scheme that this government is intent

[Page 1060]

on implementing in January. My question is, why is next year's $147 million tax scheme more important than a program that would see a reduction in the use of hospital beds, long-term care beds and an overall cost saving to the health care system of Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, a program implemented without appropriate guidelines and application procedures in place is not necessarily an efficient use of money. I can tell the honourable member that with the growth in the economy that will be sparked by the tax reduction, we will, in fact, generate sufficient funds to be able to address this program and other programs in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - AUTISM: TREATMENT SHORTAGES -ACTION

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. The parents of children with autism cannot get the services they need in this province; parents can wait for up to a year just for an assessment. We also learned that the treatment children receive is very limited and we know that children with autism require intense treatment between the ages of 2 and 6. As Tracey and Gerard Avery have discovered, it can make all the difference. My question for the Minister of Health is, what is your department doing to address the treatment shortages for children with autism?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to address this subject. The program which we are implementing in this province is one which we hope to expand. We have, in fact, added $2 million to the base for the treatment of this and the implementation of this program and it is one which is being done through the joint efforts of the Department of Health, the Department of Community Services, and the Department of Education.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last week we learned there is a hiring freeze at the IWK Hospital. Even though treatment for children in this province is already stretched to a maximum. It has been proven that intensive treatment can vastly improve the lives of children with autism, yet the Nova Scotia Government is the only government in Atlantic Canada without a plan to address this need. So when this government announced its budget cuts, it said it would protect front-line care. My question for the Minister of Health is, how do you plan to address the shortages in children's services if you can't hire additional staff?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should not confuse the issues. The fact of the matter is that since 2000 we have been able to provide training for additional diagnostic centres across the province. We provided interdepartmental training, as I referenced earlier, so that those involved have a clear and coordinated approach to the services, and we are implementing an early identification and intervention service, EIIS, that

[Page 1061]

is accessible as close as possible to home for children with autism. We are continuing to make progress in this service and in delivering this service.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, can you imagine the frustration that parents in this province feel when they can get a diagnosis but they can't get any treatment? And that's the point - intensive treatment programs are available in New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland. In Nova Scotia there are waiting lists of more than a year just to get assessments and then very limited resources for treatment. I would again like to ask the minister if he would tell us if he would commit to hiring the necessary staff to meet the treatment needs of children with autism in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is that we, in fact, in this province are developing our own delivery system with respect to the treatment of autism. We are not doing so using a cookie-cutter mode, we're doing a thorough analysis and assessment of what is required with respect to this. The honourable member would know that there isn't any single program out there, any single approach that is recognized internationally with respect to this treatment. We are doing the research that is needed relative to this subject and we are making progress and we'll continue to make progress.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SMOKE DETECTORS (BATTERY):

TIME LINE - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, over the weekend the fire marshal of Nova Scotia indicated that it may be time to change the National Building Code to include the battery-back-up smoke detectors and that he was going to address this later in the year at the federal level, which I'm happy to hear. But, this process takes months. As the tragedy experienced in HRM after Hurricane Juan shows us this is an important issue. I ask the Minister of Community Services, he indicated in this House that through approval of a resolution that his department would explore this issue - what timeline can the minister give us on the decision on battery back-up smoke detectors?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the deputy and I discussed that last week. She's asked for costing from the Housing Services Division and we await that information.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, last week the Minister of Community Services indicated provincial housing follows the National Building Code. The National Building Code is a minimal guideline and there is nothing preventing this government from using standards higher than the national code. Power is back on now, but this just makes this issue even more urgent for the next time the power goes out. I ask the Minister of Community Services, the fire marshal is saying battery back-up should be

[Page 1062]

required in the Building Code, so what is stopping your department from ordering battery back-up smoke detectors in public housing as soon as possible?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right. Last week I did indicate that the department, as a result of accepting that resolution in the House, was looking at exceeding the National Building Code and we are proceeding along that path.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, that still doesn't answer the question of timeline. The fire marshal has indicated that new smoke detectors are on the market with a long-life battery that does not work on other devices. This addresses concerns about maintenance and care of battery-operated detectors. I ask the minister, how soon can you produce a cost estimate of providing these smoke detectors in all provincial housing?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaking, referring back to my first answer to the honourable member's question, this is in the works. The member actually brings up a number of good points in there in terms of the length of the battery's life in the smoke detectors and those other concerns. When you put a battery in a smoke detector it is good for a period of time, but that time is finite. There are concerns about relying on battery-operated smoke detectors, but that is going to be part of the whole package that comes forward with the cost estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

EDUC. - PRESTON/DEPT.: 1970s AGREEMENT -TABLE

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. In the early part of the 1970s the education of the Black community was not receiving the appropriate resources. The situation was so deplorable that the community of Preston filed a class action suit against the school board. Eventually the two parties settled in 1975, which contained clauses both parties agreed upon and had wide-ranging implications throughout the whole province. My question to the minister is, will the minister table the agreement that these two parties settled upon by the end of today?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement, and if it can be tabled by the end of the day, then it will be.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the Black community has gone through many changes since the 1970s. They both agreed in good faith to settle from 1975 and expected it to be adhered to. My question again to the minister is, what has your department done to ensure the education of the Black community is not suffering as it has in the past?

[Page 1063]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in 1991 or 1993 - anyway, early in the 1990s - there was a committee struck to actually address the question that the honourable member is raising. I think it was two weeks ago in this House I tabled the government's response to the BLAC Report. He will see there was a $4.1 million commitment to implement the operational recommendations from that report.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this government has set aside monies from different programs across the province. Some of these programs are obviously in jeopardy due to the financial mismanagement of the government. This government is going to have to cut programs to make up for their deficit. My question to the Minister of Education is, what resources are specifically set aside for programs in the Black community and will they be subject to cuts the Minister of Finance is discussing?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government has committed $4.1 million for the operational requirements in response to the BLAC Report. The government made that commitment on a number of occasions and that commitment will be adhered to.

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

HEALTH - C.B. ADDICTION CTR.: CUTBACK - EXPLAIN

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. The Cape Breton Addiction Centre is undergoing some changes which could be a major concern. The structured treatment program, a short-term residential-stay program, has been turned into a day program. This three-week program normally provides treatment for about 80 people a year, on average. As a residential program, it provided the opportunity for people to change their surroundings and focus on their health. Mr. Speaker, my question through you to the minister is, why did your government decide to cut back this vital program?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the decision to which the honourable member refers is a decision that was taken by the district health authority and it was based on their assessment of a method of, in fact, improving the delivery of those services to the people of that area.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, there's no hiding that this program has been cut back. The residential program has been in operation for more than 10 years. An intense three weeks gives people an opportunity to make real changes in their lives. Now, I'm told that even a day program will not guarantee three weeks of treatment. My question to the minister is, what will it take for your government to reinstate this residential program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member that should the district health authority present evidence that would justify a change as part of their business plan then, obviously it is something we would look at. To date, they have, based on

[Page 1064]

their best judgment, taken the decision that they wanted these changes in the delivery of that program and that's the decision they have taken.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the short-term residential program provides a vital service in Cape Breton. It allows people to get on their feet. By going to a day program and going home to the same environment which the people are seeking help from does no good. I would like to ask the minister, how can your department justify this ill-conceived move?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's justified on the basis that it has been recommended and the decision has been taken by the district health authority.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - CUTS: POST-SECONDARY STUDENTS - EFFECTS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: My question is for the Premier. On September 19, 2003, your government provided an update to Nova Scotians on the province's finances in which you said, surprise, you now have to make drastic adjustments, meaning that your government would need to cut millions of dollars in services. While these drastic service cuts your government will be bringing in won't affect funding for students in Grade Primary to Grade 12, you failed to reassure Nova Scotians attending universities what these cuts mean for them.

Mr. Speaker, what this government continues to ignore is the voice of post-secondary education students in this province, who have the highest tuition rates in the country. My question, given that the government departments are facing millions in cuts, what will these cuts mean for Nova Scotia's post-secondary education students?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that in this coming year is that there will be no adjustment, the students have paid their tuition, the universities have set up their year, there is not going to be any change, unless universities decide unilaterally to do something.

MR. GLAVINE: My question is to the Premier. Mr. Speaker, in the face of doing what is good for the province, or what will only hold this province back, government clearly shows that given the choice, it will fail to do what is necessary and what is right. The students of this province deserve more, the universities of this province deserve more and the future of this province deserves more. We all know that further funding cuts do nothing to help the students, the universities or the future of the province.

[Page 1065]

Mr. Speaker, on March 26, 2003, this government said it was committed to post-secondary students. My question, if this government is so committed to students, can the Premier please explain why post-secondary education was not included with Primary to Grade 12 as an item that would not be affected by cuts?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Education.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would hardly think that the commitment of this government of $120-plus million to the community college could be seen to be a cut to higher education in this province.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. This government can talk about its commitment to students but students in this province know all too well the financial hardships that occurred when this government discontinued its debt relief program. This government knows all too well that action ran contrary to the agreement the province had with the Millennium Scholarship Foundation. If cuts again are made to student loan programs, it may indeed open the door for the Millennium Scholarship Foundation to revisit the financial arrangement it has with the province. My question, can the Premier please inform this House what cuts, if any, his government has for the student debt reduction plan and university operating funding?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can appreciate the interest of the member opposite in education, that's understandable, but I can remind the member opposite that long before he came to this House of Assembly, in fact I think it was 1997-98 when the previous government, the Liberal Government, reduced funding to universities to $175 million. We have increased that every year of our mandate and it is now $206 million.

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

HUMAN RIGHTS: DOLLARAMA CASE (TRURO) - DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Last Thursday, our office learned of the consequences of pushing forward with Sunday shopping without adequate protection for workers. Sandra Milley who worked for the Dollarama for two years in Truro lost her job because she refused to work on that very Sunday. Ms. Milley says she was fired, the employer says she quit. But one thing we know for sure, is that she lost her job and her daughter has to do without medication because she lost her drug plan and the government so far is refusing any help to her. The Justice Minister says this is a violation of the Human Rights Code. We agree with that but the Labour Board had told her employer that she could not refuse work therefore she was fired. Mr. Minister, I want to ask you, if everyone agrees that this is against the Human Rights Code, why was Dollarama told by the Labour Board that employees are not permitted to refuse work?

[Page 1066]

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister responsible for the Human Rights Act.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings up a very good question. Obviously we have a Human Rights Code in Nova Scotia that besides the Sunday shopping, protects people from discrimination based on their religion's day of worship. Obviously, if someone has been terminated in a situation based on religious discrimination, they have the ability to bring that complaint forward to the Human Rights Commission, who will investigate it.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, he should tell that to Archie Kaiser. The Minister of Justice was prepared to protect businesses that chose to stay open and protect them from conviction from those laws on that fateful day in October. The Minister of Justice and the Minister of Environment and Labour have said they intend to protect workers with any further Sunday shopping expeditions. I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, did any member of the Cabinet or senior government official advise the Labour Standards Division on how to deal with any complaints from employees relating to the so-called emergency Sunday opening on October 5th?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question, as well, to the Minister of Justice.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, I can tell the honourable member that we're very concerned about this case, and we're reviewing this matter to determine what action, if any, is appropriate.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the action warranted is very easy, reinstate the lady. It's as simple as that, give the board the power to do this. My office was in contact with the Labour Relations Division just a few hours ago and they said there was only one complaint of wrongful dismissal related to that Sunday opening, and of course that is Sandra Milley's situation.

I want to again go back to the Minister of Environment and Labour, why will you not tell the Labour Standards Division to tell that lady that she can be reinstated today and not wait for a tribunal that may take, indeed, months or years?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure the member opposite that I have communicated with the Director of Labour Standards, and we've certainly given a priority to this case. We hope for a quick resolution.

[Page 1067]

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

TOURISM & CULTURE - HERITAGE PROPERTIES:

HURRICANE JUAN DAMAGES - ASSESSMENT

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 must be aware of the large number of tourists who come to appreciate our culture and to enjoy our built heritage - wonderful old homes, historic sites, stately buildings that were constructed by our ancestors. Over the past 10 days we have all become too aware of the damage caused by Hurricane Juan, and unfortunately many of our treasured buildings have been damaged. My question to the minister is, has the minister or his staff begun an assessment of the hurricane damage to heritage properties and, if so, when can we expect a report?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, right after Hurricane Juan, I immediately began discussions with our senior staff to ask about the damage which occurred not only within department buildings, but also which occurred across the province with respect to heritage properties. Indeed our heritage properties not only have opportunities through insurance but also through the disaster relief assistance program, and I will refer that to the minister responsible to expand on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the question was answered.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, at the heart of all those who do watch over these important sites is the fear that they will somehow be lost to the elements for sure and also to development. It is well known that many wonderful buildings have been knocked down in favour of modern structures that, while they provide legitimate services, they could have been built at other locations and with a great deal more consideration for the heritage itself. My question to the minister is, will he assure Nova Scotians that the problem now facing owners and operators of heritage homes and sites will not be overlooked in the admittedly massive recovery effort that is now taking place?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for bringing that forward. Again, there are over 250 heritage properties, registered provincial heritage properties, across our province; indeed, our Heritage Property Program is one that is very important to us as a government. I can assure the member that we do take that program seriously and I will update the member with respect to any further updates I have for him in the House.

[Page 1068]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for his answer. I'm sure that he and most members of the House can recall the loss of special places in their communities at one time or another. We have lost too many and I'm afraid that the Heritage Property Act provides little comfort. In fact, sir, it has no teeth. There are no provisions in the Act to effectively deter unsympathetic development or the destruction of heritage property. My final supplementary to the minister is, will the minister undertake to bring to this House, in this sitting, constructive amendments to the Heritage Property Act and new regulations that will provide genuine protection for our built heritage?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, I would have to disagree with the member's assertion that the Heritage Property Act is not being effective, although I am open to suggestions.

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

COMMUN. SERV.:

ADOPTION INFORMATION LEGISLATION - STATUS

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Media reports today accuse Nova Scotia of being the worst province in Canada for adoptees wishing to access birth records. Considering the United Nations says Canada is not doing enough to open adoption records, that's a dubious distinction. Adoptees in Nova Scotia have watched in frustration as Bill No. 17 regarding adoption disclosure was bounced around and stalled in the Legislature. I ask the Minister of Community Services - your government promised during the 1999 election to address this issue - what is the status of changes to adoption information legislation in this province?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing that question up. In fact, there was quite an extensive debate in 1999 around Bill No. 17. At that time I was on the Law Amendments Committee and I would tell you that the debate was absolutely riveting. The problem is, the opinions that were brought forward by the witnesses did not all have the same vision of what the Adoption Information Act should be and what provisions should be made in terms of disclosure. That is the problem and as a result of that, the former minister and this government sent it off to the Law Reform Commission. They studied it for a time, and with their disbandment, their work was passed on to a ministerial committee. As a result of that, there were some administrative changes in the carrying out of the Act.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, there is no doubt that the issue of adoption records is a very contentious one. But simply refusing to make a decision or making minor improvements to the legislation is not a solution. The bill was referred to the Law Reform Commission which in turn had its funding cut. Changes were recommended, but the legislation has

[Page 1069]

gathered dust for nearly four years. I ask the minister, when can adoptees in this province expect this issue to be raised again?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the recommendation that came forward is that, as people come forward today with looking at possibly adopting out their infants, we are advising them that they should not have the same assurance that adoptive parents years ago had about not having the birth records disclosed to the adult adoptee children when they reach the age of majority.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, part of the problem is that the existing system has long waits. Staff who work on information requests say they are underfunded and more money is needed to clear the backlog. I ask the minister, when is his department going to address the deficiencies in the current system and legislation to meet the international charter on the protection of children?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it would be very nice if we got a clear message back in 1999 as to what Nova Scotians wanted from their government. In fact, that's why the government brought this forward. We are a government that consults. The consultation was extensive. The testimony was riveting, and there was no consensus. What we did determine from it is that Nova Scotians are looking for a balance. We do recognize that there is an evolution in society, and this is, perhaps, what is reflected in the UN's position on the rights of the child. We had made provision in the way that we administer the current Act to recognize this, so that as . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much. (Interruptions) My question . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions)

The time allotted for the Oral Question Period has expired.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. Earlier today during Question Period, the member for Halifax Fairview tabled a letter. In checking with the rules of procedure of the House according to Beauchesne, I would respectfully submit that those rules were not properly followed. I quote, Page 152 of Beauchesne, "An unsigned letter should not be read in the House." That's Section 498(1), and further in Section 498 (3), "When quoting a letter in the House, a Member must be willing either to give the name of the author or to take full responsibility for the contents."

[Page 1070]

Given the nature of the letter in comparison to the nature of the question, one can only conclude two different opinions, in my view. Mr. Speaker, I would ask if you would take this under advisement and, perhaps, given the fact that - and I believe there is considerable evidence to support the fact - this is becoming a regular occurrence in the House by certain members of a particular Party, I would ask, in all fairness, because, in my experience, particularly when the previous Speaker, the honourable Arthur Donahoe sat in the Chair, it was almost a requirement, a prerequisite that if anybody was going to quote a particular member of the general public, then there had to be some type of an undertaking or general understanding that approval was fully ascertained from that particular individual, because when that person's name or the names of individuals are submitted before the House, they are subjected to further cross-examination through different forms and procedures.

Mr. Speaker, I am in no way taking issue with the matter that was raised by the honourable member, I think that's fair in rules of debate. I am becoming increasingly concerned with the fact that the Rules of this House are being continuously compromised.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, as the House Leader for the Official Opposition, I wanted to respond. The member for Cape Breton West has asked you to take this under advisement. I'm obviously deferring to you on the decision, but I think it's important to understand, from our perspective, before we go to Beauchesne, we have to look at what the customs of this House are. With all due respect, the member noted Mr. Donahoe was the Speaker, but Mr. Donahoe has not been the Speaker in this House for over 10 years. In the last 10 years or at least since my time here in the last five and a half years, I think this has become a custom, maybe it wasn't a custom 15 or 20 years ago when Mr. Donahoe was Speaker, but it's a custom now, it's a custom that has been accepted in this House.

I suspect it's been accepted in this House by all Parties. I suspect it's just not one individual or one Party who is taking advantage of this as a custom of the House. I would suggest it's a custom of the House, and that makes it a priority over any interpretation of Beauchesne. Therefore, I would ask, in this case, that the point of order not be held.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think we have heard enough debate.

The honourable Government House Leader on this issue.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member suggested that you take the matter under advisement, and I think that's a worthwhile endeavour. However, with regard to the fact that all letters must be signed, I think that's stretching it a little far because of the fact that in many cases the document itself is restricted by the person

[Page 1071]

who has provided it to the member. So in that case it becomes a worthless document if you can't use it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We've had enough debate, I think, on this issue and I will certainly take it under advisement and report back to the House. I'm sure there are a lot of members who would like to have some input on this issue. I would just like to remind the House of one thing, that on a daily basis, rules that maybe are written, whether it's in our document or whether it's one that we refer to, are maybe not necessarily broken, but certainly bent on a daily basis. It seems to be customary in this House that we've looked back over the number of years of what has taken place in here and have accepted that as being customary here. So whether or not that is my decision, I will certainly take it under advisement and report back to the House as soon as I can.

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 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 Halifax Clayton Park, I think you have two moments.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in concluding my response to the Speech from the Throne, I would like again to thank the people of Halifax Clayton Park for the confidence that they showed in me during the election and their continued support. I would also like to offer special thanks for the many volunteers who worked with me during the election and, in particular, I would like to mention Geoff Regan, the Member of Parliament for Halifax West.

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

MS. WHALEN: HRM is the economic engine of the province. Growth and prosperity here will provide the dollars and the impetus we need to work for all communities in Nova Scotia. We need to co-operate with the municipality of HRM on projects like rapid transit, preservation of the environment and the Harbour Solutions Project. HRM can help fuel all of Nova Scotia, but it's not strong enough to be plundered and robbed. The government's

[Page 1072]

scheme to take property taxes from HRM, which was tried in the past, and take those property taxes from homeowners and share them elsewhere in the province was wrong and we must ensure that we never go back to that.

In closing, Halifax Clayton Park is a dynamic mix of new neighbourhoods and historic neighbourhoods. Its people are actively working to improve our schools, recreational facilities and institutions. It's a privilege to represent this area in the House and I look forward to being a strong voice for the people of Halifax Clayton Park. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I have no intention of using the full hour that I'm allotted. I would like to begin by addressing the closing remarks of the member opposite with respect to the Throne Speech. I would remind members that I think it would be unparliamentary to accuse members to be plundering and robbing jurisdictions. That's not parliamentary language, it's not used in this House, and it's not a custom of this House either.

I would like to start off by talking about my constituency, as others have done, Mr. Speaker. The constituency that I represent now is slightly different than when I rose four years ago to speak to the Throne Speech. Four years ago I represented the constituency of Sackville-Beaver Bank and under redistribution a portion of my constituency was redistributed to a new riding of Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank, and I received a portion of the former St. Margarets Bay riding. As a result of that, the community that I represented in Beaver Bank is no longer represented by myself. During that four years it was a rewarding experience for me to represent those constituents. I would like to thank them now for the support they showed to me and to my family over the last four years, but I also want to take this time to welcome the new portion of the constituency that I have gained, and that is the area of Highland Park in Hammonds Plains.

This new redistribution, now, for the first time in a decade, brings together the community of Hammonds Plains that was severed as a result of redistribution 10 years ago. This is something that constituents have brought to my attention over the past four years and they thought it would make more sense that Hammonds Plains be brought together in one constituency, and as a result of redistribution, that's now the case.

[3:45 p.m.]

I represent a number of small communities within the constituency of Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville, including: the community around Springfield Lake in Middle Sackville; the community of Lucasville; of Upper Hammonds Plains; the community of

[Page 1073]

Upper Sackville; Middle Sackville; a portion of Lower Sackville; as well as the community of Millwood, which is a Nova Scotia Department of Housing planned community, within a community. In addition to that I represent the community of Hammonds Plains and inside Hammond Plains there are a number of large subdivisions.

It is interesting, I hear members talk about various communities that they represent. I have subdivisions, in many cases, that are larger than entire towns in this province. I point to Kingswood as an example. The subdivision of Kingswood consists of over 1,000 homes, which is larger than many of the small towns in Nova Scotia but, it abuts another community, Glen Arbour and Maplewood on the Lake. Combine those two subdivisions, including White Hills and that's another 1,000 homes, and often that's larger than many of the small towns in Nova Scotia.

As with other members, the issues of importance and concern to the constituents that I represent are the same. It's a matter of providing good quality education, good quality health care, and a reasonable family environment for people to live. In our community we have experienced some of the most tremendous growth in this province - unprecedented, as it has been described by others - we have seen a community that has grown.

In 1976, I believe, the community that I represent, the larger community, was somewhere around 10,000 and now, I think, the wider community of both Sackville-Cobequid and Upper Sackville-Hammonds Plains is somewhere around 70,000 to 80,000. A lot of that growth has happened in the last five to seven years, particularly in the area that I represent. We have seen growth, probably 4,000 or 5,000 building lots, brings along another 10,000 or 12,000 people, and that's what necessitated the redistribution, that's what started to shape the new community that I represent.

In our schools we talk about the growth, and that growth has provided tremendous pressures for the schools and the communities to absorb. Madeline Symonds Middle School - which is really not a middle school, it's actually a Grade 5 to Grade 9 school - was to accommodate some growth in the Hammonds Plains area. It left behind the Primary to Grade 4 in the Hammonds Plains Consolidated School, a school that as of last year has a population of about 800 students. As we all know, that's far greater than an ideal population for an elementary school, especially an elementary school that only goes from Primary to Grade 4.

As a result of that growth and pressure, the school board was forced to deal with that, and what they ended up doing was redistributing some of those students to adjacent schools to accommodate the growth. There were, I think, nine portables on the site and all of those portables were filled to capacity. The school board, in its wisdom, was able to redistribute some of those students on a temporary basis, to schools in Rockingham and the surrounding communities.

[Page 1074]

As a result of that redistribution and the school board's decision around sites and schools, the community of Kingswood and Hammonds Plains is now expecting a new school to open in September 2005. That school will address the immediate needs of those students and will bring that body of students back into one school. It's envisioned that it will be a Primary to Grade 9 school and I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that school would never have become a reality without the hard work and dedicated, committed parents, who were able to demonstrate clearly to our government and to the school board the need for that school.

There were people who deserve a great deal of credit and I point to people like Marlene Fairhurst-Vaughan, Richard DeLong, and others who worked very hard to make sure that government was aware of their concerns, to make sure the school board was aware of their concerns, and make sure they had their numbers and facts straight so we were able to make the kind of decision we made, to announce that school.

Back in the Spring of 2003 in the Legislature, knowing that government was making the decision to build a new school for Hammond Plains and to make other infrastructure requirements for our community like the Cobequid Community Health Centre, I had asked the Liberal caucus if they could confirm to Nova Scotians exactly what their intention was with respect to capital debt redistribution or reduction. They said in advance of the election they wanted to reduce capital spending. So I asked them, to provide a level of protection to the people that I represent, was part of their plan to cut the school for Hammond Plains? Was part of their plan to cut the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre? Was part of their plan to cut Highway No. 101? I asked them to convey that in advance of the election so that the people I represent and the people who they were hoping to represent would have a clear understanding before the election where that Party stood so that they could make a choice based on fact. To this day, they have never received their answer.

It was interesting when we were going out and knocking on doors - and we knocked on a great many doors throughout the constituency - we heard some rumblings from the Opposition that they were in support of these programs, but we could never get on the record from their Leader or their Party whether or not they supported the construction of a new school in Kingswood or whether or not they supported the construction of the Cobequid Community Health Centre. They put it in their brochures, they talked about it on the doorsteps but they never would say it in a public format. They had plenty of opportunity. Not only did I ask them here in the House, on the floor, but I also asked them through a press release and through the media and they still, to this date, have never told the people that I represent what their position was. I found it amusing that they would take opportunities on doorsteps and at barbecues to tell them when they knew they didn't have to defend that back here in the Legislature or to other constituencies. Frankly, I find it a tactic that has been used by politicians in time immemorial and I find it an appalling tactic that shouldn't be used.

[Page 1075]

I want to spend some time talking about the Cobequid Community Health Centre. Now, this week the Cobequid Community Health Centre will reach a milestone. It is the intention of the foundation to turn the sod this week, although construction began a couple of months ago, they are going to do their formal sod-turning ceremony and people in the community are starting to wonder, you know, they seem to have a ceremony at every milestone. Well, it's an initiative of the foundation to keep the community's interest, because they know that there is an important need to raise the community's share of the contribution towards that facility and the foundation is doing a very good job at reaching that community. They use these types of milestones to help remind the community of their contribution and to help them, help us, and to help all constituents.

So, construction has begun on the Cobequid Community Health Centre. It is something that's badly needed by our community and it's something that will serve the needs and the aspirations of our community well into the future. It replaces a retired liquor store that was retrofitted twice over and made into a health centre and I'm sure that the community will be very pleased with the outcome. But what really pleases me as a person who represents that community is the kind of support that is shown, the genuine support from the people that I represent for that facility.

I point to our young people as a couple of examples. Mr. Speaker, we have a great history of providing good hockey teams in our community that go out and fundraise. One of the teams, a year and a half ago, after completing their season, having a good year fund-raising, they realized they had about $1,500 left over in their account. The players on their own, and these are Peewee-aged players, 10-, 11- and 12-year-old players, on their own decided that rather than have a party with that money and spend it on a banquet, that they would donate their surplus cash to the Cobequid Health Centre Foundation. That's the kind of initiative that helps further these types of facilities.

In addition to that, the biggest contribution by a non-government, non-business agency was from our schools. Our high schools came together, Lockview High School, Sackville High School, Millwood High School and Charles P. Allen High School all came together to make a sizeable contribution to the facility. They worked hard, each and every semester raising their money through various fundraising initiatives. They made that pledge and it is my expectation that they will meet that obligation.

I want to shift, as well, a little bit, in Sackville we have a long tradition of supporting our sports and our recreation. We have many incredible facilities and I point to the first facility of its type in Atlantic Canada, if not in Canada, and that's Weir Field. It's a facility that was funded out of one of the worst environmental nightmares that our community has faced and that's the Highway No. 101 landfill. As a result of hosting a landfill for 25 years that was poorly run and poorly managed, the community was given an opportunity to turn itself around through some funding. We took that money as a community and we invested it right squarely in the community where the landfill was hosted and we built one of the best

[Page 1076]

soccer facilities and football facilities that exists in Atlantic Canada, if not in Canada. We had the first synthetic surface outside of a university in Atlantic Canada.

That field is known by soccer players, not just around the province, but around the Atlantic Provinces. In fact, that facility has been visited by the CFL and NFL officials to see the quality of that facility. It is truly a remarkable facility. It was such a facility, the Halifax Regional Municipality now, on its own, has moved forward to build facilities like that. They can play soccer on that facility 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every single day of the year if they so choose. I can tell you, I've seen them out there in January and February where they shovel that soccer field off and play there in the middle of the winter. It's become something our community is extremely proud of.

We're also proud of our teams. Sackville has a junior hockey team, the Sackville Junior B Blazers. We've had it for 28 years. We've had a tradition of fielding a good team, but never able to make it to the end. Sackville, in 28 years, never won a championship. We struggled each and every year. In fact, one year, we set the record for most games won consecutively during the regular season - 29 games in the regular season, we won 28 of those 29 games and then we lost in the championship. But, you know, last year the monkey came off our back. Last year, the Sackville Blazers, for the first time in the history of that franchise, not only did we win the Nova Scotia Junior B title, but we went on to Mount Pearl, Newfoundland and we won the Atlantic championship. (Applause)

It's a testament to the young people who worked so hard and committed so much and it's a testament to the coaches - people like Andy Conrad who has committed almost a decade of his time to furthering the development of those young people. They knew they could do it and they did it and that just shows the kind of spirit that our community has in Sackville. We field good teams and good athletes and I want to mention a couple of them.

A young fellow that I know quite well, Christian Dion is an athlete in our community - he's a national snowboarding champion, ranked, I think, number four or number five in the country, but he's not just a snowboarder. Christian Dion is involved in hockey and baseball - he's a well-rounded athlete, he's a good student, he's involved in music as well, and he's a good kid. Christian is a role model for many of the young people coming up - he's now a Grade 12 student at Millwood High School. His desire and his intensity as an athlete really is the kind of intensity that makes champions out of young people.

I point to people like Neil Pashkoski, who is a hockey player and a baseball player in our community who, by stature, is small. I know many people have told Neil that you probably won't make the NHL because of your size. He's a 15-year-old boy who is small by stature but I have never in my life witnessed a young person who has been able to overcome that issue and who has pure determination like Neil Pashkoski. Neil is the kind of athlete that in our community we're so proud of.

[Page 1077]

There are others, Mr. Speaker, and I could go on to infinity and talk about them. I won't spend a great deal of time just talking about the constituency that I represent. I'm so proud of them and I think they've accomplished so much.

I want to spend a little bit of time talking about the election as well. During this last election I knocked on over 9,000 doors and I still didn't get to all of them. In fact, I think I have about 1,100 doors left to get to. It's my goal to continue knocking on doors until I get to them all, even though the election is over. I made a commitment to get to every single door. Because of the hard work of people who helped support me throughout the last election, we were able to increase our percentage of victory by 50 per cent. I want to thank those people here and now for all the hard work that they gave and committed to me, so that I could be here representing them. It's people like David Borden, and Florence Patterson and others who worked so very hard for me and to ensure that the democratic process moves forward in Nova Scotia.

[4:00 p.m.]

As well, it has been a particularly tough year for us in Sackville. We've lost some tremendous community leaders. I point to someone who's referred to in our community as Mr. Sackville, Glen Slaunwhite, and Glen Slaunwhite would be known by members opposite. He was the kind of individual who, when you had a job to do, the first person you would call was Glen Slaunwhite. He was a former fire chief, he was the past president of the Lake District Recreation Association, he was involved with environmental issues, and he was involved as a former municipal councillor.

There wasn't a single element of community and social life in our community that Glen Slaunwhite's hands didn't touch. He was involved in his church, he was involved in the heritage, he was involved in our museums. He touched every single element of community life in our community, and we will miss him a great deal. His wisdom, to me, over the past 10 years in politics, and his advice and support to me is something that I personally will miss but, more than that, his impact on our community will be greatly lost.

I want to point to other community leaders. Reverend Dr. Oliver in the community of Lucasville, a spiritual leader in our community who was able to assist many people in times of need and provided the kind of spiritual guidance to his parishioners and to his community, will also be sadly missed in the community of Lucasville. In Hammonds Plains, Mrs. Haverstock, 98 years old when she passed away. Mrs. Haverstock's son, Dennis, I spoke to him just the other day, and he related to me some of Mrs. Haverstock's past politics, and I wasn't aware of this at the time but her husband ran for the PCs in the 1950s. Her family related to me some of the old-style politics and the old meetings. Frankly, her commitment to her community in Hammonds Plains over her 90-some years was something that community and her family will sorely miss.

[Page 1078]

I want to, as well, spend a little bit of time - and I digress a bit - to talk about an opportunity that I've had over the past five or six weeks, and that is the opportunity to serve as the Minister responsible for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, as well as the African Nova Scotian Affairs Office. It was mentioned during the Throne Speech about Nova Scotia implementing the first Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs. I have had the opportunity, Mr. Speaker, in my role as Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs to go out and meet with Nova Scotians across the province. I met with African Nova Scotians, Black Nova Scotians in communities in Sydney, in Guysborough County, in Antigonish, in Halifax and Dartmouth and Preston, in Lucasville, and Hammonds Plains where I live. Next week or this week, I will be heading down towards Shelburne County and Yarmouth, and I've been down throughout the Valley.

I want to say how grateful I have been for the amount of support that those individuals, those community leaders have shown me over the past four and five weeks and the advice that they've given me. Mr. Speaker, it has made this job, developing a new office, a whole lot easier because, frankly, without that kind of support and without that kind of advice, it would be a daunting task. I will say this, that even as recently as today I met with a community leader who provided some advice. It's those types of people who make this job as politicians, political leaders a lot easier. They're able to convey to us directly the sentiments and the concerns of their communities, and then we're able to bring those back here to have those concerns and sentiments addressed.

Mr. Speaker, it's with that that I thank the Premier for selecting me to be the first minister. I look forward to this office becoming a very productive office, implementing many of the recommendations that have been before government for decades, and meeting the needs and expectations of those people in those communities that so dearly need to be met. I think back, during the past four or five weeks, of many of the meetings that I've had with individuals and groups, and the way that they've embraced me and this office and this concept. I hope that we will be able to meet their expectations and, as a matter of fact, I'm certain we will be able to meet many of their expectations and be able to make this office work for Nova Scotia and for Nova Scotians.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I don't intend to take a great deal more time. I would like to wrap up by saying that I've listened intensely to the members, the new members particularly, to what they've had to say, and I think this opportunity for members to stand up to speak in reply to the Throne Speech is an excellent opportunity for them to inform the House of the various concerns and issues that they are faced with in their constituencies and for us as well, as members opposite, to provide them the opportunity. With that, I will take my place and listen carefully to the next speaker.

[Page 1079]

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's an honour to respond to the Speech from the Throne. I think the House will get its share of information about Sackville today. It has been an honour to represent my constituents of Sackville-Cobequid. This constituency has been well represented for many years now - I think the past 18 years - by someone who has worked with many of the members in the House today, Mr. John Holm. I'm sure this House is still echoing his many speeches, and long ones from what I've been told.

Sackville is a growing community, Mr. Speaker, just like many communities across this province and, as the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations has stated, it's amazing to see the growth that has taken place just in the last 15 years or so. Some of the concerns that the community has expressed to me through the campaign are probably some of the concerns that many of the members of this House have heard while they were canvassing through the election.

Many of the concerns, some of them were addressed in the Speech from the Throne, Mr. Speaker, and some of them like small businesses, or issues that support small businesses in this province. There are many small businesses in Sackville, just like in many of the constituencies across this province, that find it hard to make a profit and be profitable and grow into a larger business. Some of the businesses in my constituency over the years have come and gone. Many of them fell on hard times or were unable to get over the hump, as you would say, such things like maybe the drive-in theatre that some of the members here may remember. (Interruption)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Thank you, Mr. Speaker. As I was saying, some of the businesses that have closed down over the years, such as the drive-in theatre that I remember growing up, filling a car to go to see the recent release. That's no longer there, but it was replaced over the years by the Superstore, which has taken up much of the area where the theatre used to be. Another one that many of the members may remember was the Downsview raceway, where horse racing was taking place, especially on the weekends, and you could actually hear it over the loudspeaker throughout the community. When I was growing up, you always knew when the races were on.

Today, Mr. Speaker, like I was saying, Sackville is a thriving community. Many new businesses are opening their doors in Sackville, such as the new theatre which was absent for many years now and is quite busy if you just drive by and notice the parking lot. Also, there are many new restaurants, and they're going to be upgrading some of the malls. The old Downsview Mall is going to be upgraded in the next few months.

[Page 1080]

I'm encouraged by what I've heard in the Throne Speech, indicating that the government is going to do more to support small businesses. I think if we can help individual businesses when they're small and struggling, these businesses can grow and be much larger and profitable, such businesses that are located in our business park, like Sureshot dispensary. I don't know if any of the members here know what that is, but it's the company that produces the sureshot dispenser, which dispenses your sugar and your cream at most of the restaurants throughout Nova Scotia, Tim Hortons especially. This company was started actually in the constituency of Upper Sackville many years ago in the basement of his house. Through hard work over the years, it has grown to the capacity where he needed a larger building and just recently had an open house to open his new facility in the Sackville Business Park. I think he has about 90 employees right now and actually has incorporated two other businesses in this facility. It's companies like that, I think, if you're able to help them when they start off, they can be profitable, bring in a lot of income to the community, for one, also to the province in taxes, and produce good wages for the working people to come into your community and be able to get a good paying job.

Some of the other concerns I heard while canvassing was about education and the need to address the issues, especially of resources in the classroom, also classroom sizes. I think we need to address that, especially resources such as maybe speech pathologists, or psychologists who may be able to help our youth, especially in the younger grades in elementary schools. I think children are our most precious commodity in this province, Mr. Speaker, and if we can catch them at an early age and maybe help them through the difficult times of learning and the learning process, they can prosper and become quite productive in the later years.

In the Speech from the Throne we heard about kick-starting the Ready To Learn program, and the province doing more to support special needs students, which I'm encouraged to hear about. In Sackville, we have over 12 schools that educate thousands of students, Mr. Speaker, and some of these schools are older than I am, which is not that old, but they're 30 years plus. I hope the province ensures that the schools are not being neglected and that regular inspections are taking place and concerns are fixed quickly. I think that over the years we've had several problems, especially air quality problems, in schools like Sir John A. Macdonald and I think Halifax West. It's important, especially for the people in my community, to ensure that these older schools are being taken care of and their upkeep, especially for the air quality, for the health of our kids is important.

I will talk a little bit about our high school, Sackville High School, which was recently damaged. The roof over the gymnasium blew off and a lot of moisture got in on top of the gym floor, which was just replaced this summer. There was a need to replace this gym floor for many years; dating back to when I was in high school, about 15 years ago, we needed a floor then. So I'm encouraged that this work was done this summer, but I'm also discouraged that the hurricane did take its toll on the building and we're still waiting to see what effect it has on the new rubberized floor that was put in place this summer.

[Page 1081]

I have visited many schools prior to the election and after the election. One of these schools was Hillside Elementary, which invited me up to see the dinner theatre they were putting on. The faculty of this elementary school took it upon themselves to get the students involved in a dinner theatre, much like you would attend here in Halifax, Mr. Speaker. I was quite amazed at the professionalism of some of these students who stayed in character throughout the night as they served you your dinner and did their skits on the stage. These kids have a bright future. So I think if we maintain a presence in the school at a young age to encourage these kids, like I said earlier, to maybe catch them when they are having difficulties, it can turn their lives around.

I would like to mention today a few of the groups in my community, especially the Legion, Calais Branch 162, that plays a vital role in our community on helping out when things go wrong. Just as in the past couple of weeks with the hurricane, Mr. Speaker, the Ladies Auxiliary of the Legion provided over 400 meals for the linesmen who came out throughout the Atlantic Provinces.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I would.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture on an introduction.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thank you to the member for giving up part of his time. I would like to draw your attention to the east gallery where we have a guest here from my home area, down in Inverness County, the councillor for Whycocomagh and area, Duart MacAulay, who you would also recognize as a past President of UNSM as well. So I would like to welcome Mr. MacAulay and ask him to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. MacAulay to the Legislature today and we hope you enjoy the proceedings, sir.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, thank you very much for allowing an introduction. The floor is now yours.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I am sure the guest is going to know a lot about Sackville. I think he may have picked the wrong time to sit in here and have two speakers talk about that. It is a great place to live. As I was saying, the Legion

[Page 1082]

plays an important role in our community, helping out in times of need, as I said about the meals that they provided for the linesmen and the crews who were here to try to get our town and the communities surrounding Halifax back in order. Another important role with the Legion is providing Meals on Wheels to seniors and bursaries for children going to university. One of the most important roles of the Legion, I think, is going out and educating our young children in the schools, especially during Remembrance Day ceremonies, about the sacrifice that our veterans paid in the wars that were in the past. I think they play an important role in Sackville in education.

We also have a lot of volunteer organizations and societies in Sackville. Really, the volunteers there give thousands of hours to the community. There are such things as the Sackville Volunteer Firefighters Organization, which is attached to the Halifax Regional Municipality Fire and Emergency Services. Sackville started years ago with a volunteer fire department, which, over the years, led to being able to incorporate a full-time fire department there. So we have a composite department, where the full-time firefighters are there 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but also call on the volunteers to assist on many calls, if not all of the calls, everything from brush fires to structure fires to medical emergencies.

I had the opportunity to give some of my time, over the last 10 years, to this organization, and there are a lot of great people involved in the fire service out in Sackville. The member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville mentioned Mr. Slaunwhite, who was instrumental in developing the fire service out in Sackville, along with another co-founder, George Atwood, who is an important figure in our community, whose involvement with the fire service was instrumental in getting it to where it is today.

Another organization out Sackville way would be Beacon House, which is actually located in Middle Sackville. In the next few months, they are going to be relocating just up from my constituency office on Cobequid Road. I look forward to helping with that organization, making it a smooth move over there. They offer a lot of services to the community and help out in times of need. We also have a Boys and Girls Club that takes care of some of the issues about our youth, keeping them involved and active. I think if you keep the youth, they will stay out of trouble and will be productive. They will be able to learn more in school and hopefully succeed in the future in what they want to do when they grow up.

Also we have the Lions Club and the Kinsmen Club and the Kinettes that raise thousands and thousands of dollars in our community to support people who need extra help. As many members said before, nowadays it's harder and harder to stretch that dollar. It's important that societies and groups like this in my community, just like across the province, come to the aid of individuals when they need help. The needs for our seniors are taken care of with a couple of organizations out in Sackville, the Silver and Gold Club, which is one of the organizations made up of seniors, also the Sackville Seniors Advisory Council. They provide a lot of services to the seniors in my community, things like doing their taxes at tax

[Page 1083]

time to having computer classes where seniors can go to their organization and learn how to use the computer, learn how to use the Internet which is amazing to me, when someone at an older age or seniors take the interest to learn about the Internet. I know how hard it is at my age to get a grasp of how things are changing over the years and the use of the Internet for a lot of the deeds that we do every day. So they play an important role in Sackville.

Also, Sackville heritage preservation is important. We have a lot of societies in our community that deal with the heritage of Sackville and trying to keep that recorded and artifacts - such things as the Sackville Community Development Association, who help by making Sackville a better place to live. Some of the functions that they put on throughout the year such as Patriot Days on the July 1st weekend. They host a parade every year with thousands of people getting involved. I attended this year - usually I go away on the long weekend - it amazes me how many functions and festivals go on through the long weekend, especially on Canada Day.

They also planted and maintain the Sackville Heritage Rosebush Hedge. Which, some of you are aware of when you come into Sackville off the highway, the first building you see on the right is the Cobequid Community Health Centre - the old liquor store which was converted into a community hospital, offering a range of services there such as X-rays, ultra sounds, blood lab and they house the emergency clinic, which has been there for many years.

Between the highway and the Cobequid Centre, there used to be an old chain link fence so nobody would come off the highway and go into the hospital or cut up to another road. The Sackville Community Development Association decided it would be much nicer when you entered our community to have a nice rosebush there. They maintain that rosebush and it looks a lot better than it did years ago. That also leads into our local cenotaph which is a really remarkable piece of land that they have transformed over the years. The monument that's standing there now is quite large, it's probably about 15-feet high and they acquired stones from all over the world to incorporate in the cenotaph.

Beside the cenotaph is the Fultz House Museum which was one of the first houses in Sackville. This provides a great opportunity for visitors or even the people of the community to go down and learn about how Sackville grew over the years, how it came from a homestead feel, farming and fishing to what it is today - really, a bedroom community. It's their job to keep these artifacts in good condition and to maintain the museum. It's quite the spot. The Fultz House also is a great community gathering spot, hosting teas every Tuesday and luncheons. Groups in the community can go every Tuesday and serve tea and sandwiches and it's a fundraiser for Fultz House. It's always well attended, anybody who's anyone usually ends up there at one point or another throughout the summer. It's a great spot to get your organization promoted on the sign as you come into Sackville by hosting one of these teas and it's a good fundraiser for Fultz House.

[Page 1084]

In Sackville there's a couple of organizations that help with the environment and developing parklands. One of them is the Sackville River Association which has been working very hard to get the Sackville River back to the pristine river that it once was years ago with an abundance of fish and salmon coming up. They have worked really hard over the years to bring this river back to life - even up to a year and a half ago when we had a bit of an environmental emergency in the river when thousands of fish were killed during some recent construction. But they're working hard and I saw them there this weekend trying to make sure that the river is being looked after. They play an important part in maintaining the environment of that area.

Also, we have Second Lake Regional Park Association, which over the years has worked hard on securing land around Second Lake to develop into a parkland, especially a passive parkland area with walking trails. Over the years, they have lobbied the government, especially the Housing Department and the Department of Natural Resources, and they have secured a lot of that land, especially with help from our past MLA, John Holm. I really appreciate the government at the time, the departments really working at maintaining parkland in our area. If any of you have been out in Sackville lately, there are a lot of homes there. I think it's really important for us to maintain parkland. As you've seen, the devastation in the Public Gardens and Point Pleasant Park, these parks have been around for hundreds of years. People say, people come and go, but the parkland, once you get it up and transformed into a nice area, it's going to be there for many years, well beyond my time here on this Earth.

In Sackville, we have . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I wonder if the honourable member would permit time for an introduction.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Sure.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce, in the east gallery, Marg Forbes. She is a resident of the Town of Bridgewater. She is an elected school board member for the South Shore District School Board, currently serving as the President of the South Shore 2004 Celebration Association, which is marking the 400th Anniversary of the French explorers arriving at Green Bay and then proceeding down the South Shore, around to the Minas Basin. Mrs. Forbes, would you please rise and be recognized by the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to all visitors in our gallery today.

[Page 1085]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, in our community out in Sackville, we have quite a number of sports organizations. I think it's important in getting our youth involved in sports, where it develops, I think, a strong mind as it develop a strong body and enables them to take the tools learned when training and competing into the classrooms. Hopefully, it enables them to be more successful in life. Some of the groups, such as the Sack-a-Wa Canoe Club, have been producing world-class rowers for many years in our community and have gone on to worldwide canoe championships throughout the last many years.

Also, we have the Chebucto Track and Field Association, which produces world-class athletes also. Many of the athletes who came out of the Chebucto Track and Field have competed in world-class events such as the World University Games, the Commonwealth Games, and many athletes from the Chebucto Track and Field have gone on to compete in the Canada Games throughout the years.

During my time canvassing throughout the election, the number-one concern was still health care, Mr. Speaker. I think, just like many members of this House, I've heard many issues and many questions come up throughout the campaign about health care - where it's going, and hopefully trying to save what we have. In the Throne Speech it states that every new dollar meant for health care will be spent on health care. I was disappointed when I heard and read that. To me, Nova Scotians not only need this, but they deserve this. To say that you're going to spend every new health care dollar on health care, to me that should be a given. A lot of the community is concerned with things like that; also there are concerns with taxes, such as road taxes not being spent on roads.

I would like to talk a little bit about the health care in our community, where we do have the Cobequid Community Health Centre, which is housed in an old liquor store which they renovated years ago. It used to be called the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. When the government stated that they were going to replace this facility, it was well-received in my community and well-received by myself, because we've needed a new facility for many years. We have outgrown this facility that was the liquor store that changed over to the hospital that's out there now.

[4:30 p.m.]

We also need I think a 24-hour service out there. Out catchment area for the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre is over 100,000 people, Mr. Speaker, and growing every day. Personally, working as a paramedic and entering the facility thousands and thousands of times over the last 10 years or so, I see the need and I've noticed that we've outgrown the old facility. I'm encouraged that the new facility is going ahead. As the member for Hammonds Plains-Upper Sackville stated, they are having a sod-turning event this weekend and he stated that it's important to do these ceremonies but, to me, the people of Sackville have been

[Page 1086]

waiting for this for years. There was a delay on it and I think they just need to get on with it and, hopefully, get this facility done quickly and get it open.

The need for a 24-hour service is important. Like I say, the catchment area is growing every day. The trend now is that people who live here in Halifax and Dartmouth, the people who live here in Halifax who used to go to the QE II Health Sciences Centre are finding the waits even longer and are travelling the extra 20 minutes to go out to Sackville to be seen because at times you can be seen quicker there, but at times there are lengthy waiting times there. Also with Dartmouth General, we've seen a lot of patients now coming from Eastern Passage, the core of downtown Dartmouth, travelling those extra kilometres to go to the Cobequid Multi-Services Centre to seek medical attention which they should be able to get in their own community, in the emergency rooms that are servicing their communities.

I've noticed over the years that, especially around 10:00 p.m. when the Cobequid Multi-Services Centre does close out in Sackville, any patients who are currently in the facility automatically get transferred over to the QE II Emergency. So if you were to go to the QE II Emergency at night around 10:00 p.m., 11:00 p.m., not only are you having to wait for the people who have been sitting there for hours and hours, but now you have these people from Sackville, who no longer can get cared for there because the facility is closing, being put in front of these patients. So it's unfair to the people who live here in downtown Halifax. It's unfair for the people who live in downtown Dartmouth because some of the patients do get transferred over to the Dartmouth General and I've seen the need for years now for 24-hour service. It's important for the people of Sackville, but people from Windsor come down, from Mount Uniacke, Enfield, Rawdon, Kennetcook.

The area is getting huge out there, Mr. Speaker, and I think it's really important that this government realize that if they really want to make a difference in health care and they really want to reduce waiting lists, they need to address things like the hours at the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre. I'm here to make sure that the health care providers are being heard. I think you really need to go to the people who are working in the system to get the advice of these people because they're in the system every day. I know, as a paramedic, I have a lot of views on where we can improve things, such as waiting times in emergency rooms, emergency closures throughout this province. It's not just in Sackville. As we've heard, all over the province emergency rooms are closing because of a lack of doctors. I think we really need to make sure that the people who are working in the system are heard and take the advice of these people because they really know what's going on on a day-to-day basis in the facilities around this province.

In closing, I would like to thank all the health care workers who helped out in my campaign. I mean I had nurses, LPNs, group home workers, firefighters and, most importantly, I want to thank my colleagues who, without their help, I don't think I would have decided to come and enter into this process, but I want to thank all the paramedics of this province. It's an honour for me to stand here and represent over 700 paramedics in this

[Page 1087]

province. We fought hard over the years to be recognized as a profession and I think we're getting there and the respect of our profession has really come to light over the last few years. I want to thank all the paramedics who have e-mailed me, written me and spoken to me with their concerns and their expressions of goodwill for getting involved in this.

I would also like to thank my campaign team who worked really hard to get me elected. I think prior to the election my riding was kind of up in the air. If you went by the media's perception of what was going to happen in Sackville-Cobequid, I don't think I would be standing here today. But due to a lot of hard work, my campaign team, from my official agent and my campaign manager, and of course, once again, I would have to say a special thank you to my mentor and friend who kind of guided me through this and answered a lot of my questions before I started this, and that's John Holm. I was talking to him the other day and he told me that he hasn't even watched Legislative TV yet, but I don't know if I believe that or not.

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't believe that.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Yes, I don't think I believe that.

I would like to thank my friends and family for all their support, my sign crew; and a lot of the firefighters who came out and worked on my sign crew, I really appreciated that. Also, I would especially like to thank my wife who has supported me over the years, letting me follow my passions and my interests, and my son Jacob, and most importantly I want to thank my daughter, Taylor, who is five years old - she was four at the time, who made me realize an important thing during the election. She asked me just prior to the election, what does a politician do? It was probably one of the hardest questions I had to answer throughout the whole campaign. But then she really answered it for me. She said, will you be helping people like you do as a paramedic, Dad? That's what really made it clear to me. I think we're all here to help people in this province and to make sure that their concerns are brought forward. I think that's where I can draw similarities to the two professions, as a paramedic and as a politician.

I know I'm going to keep that close to me and I hope the rest of the members of this House also keep that close to them. We're all here to bring the concerns of the people of this province and I think not only do you have to bring the concerns of your constituents here, but you have to remember the people from all over the area and all over the province, and bring responsible legislation here that will help the people of this province. I think that's why we're here.

Again, it's an honour to represent Sackville-Cobequid, which has been well represented in the past by John Holm - there's his name again - and I would like to say a special thank you to the businesses of Sackville, especially after the hurricane came through. I think Sackville Drive was one of only a few streets in the whole community that actually

[Page 1088]

had power and a lot of residents came out to Sackville, to fill up on gas especially and get things that they needed to get through this hurricane. I think it's the first time in my life that I heard that the RCMP actually barricaded the entrance to Sackville, they wouldn't let anybody come in, so I'm encouraged that so many people wanted to come to Sackville.

So, again, I would just like to say thank you for allowing me to respond to the Speech from the Throne and I look forward to future debates. I look forward to learning from my colleagues here in my caucus and throughout the House, and to further debate. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the unanimous consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 8 - Volunteer Protection Act.

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

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 1089]

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

Bill No. 10 - Municipal Elections Act.

and the committee recommends these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each with certain amendments.

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The motion is carried.

[4:40 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[4:45 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the Committee has met and considered the following bills:

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

Bill No. 8 - Volunteer Protection Act.

Bill No. 10 - Municipal Elections Act.

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

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend these bills to the favourable consideration of the House, each without amendment.

[Page 1090]

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that these bills be read a third time on a future date.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I believe that concludes the business of the House for today. Tomorrow being Opposition Day . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. The hours of the House tomorrow will be from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Bill No. 9, the Assessment Act and Resolution No. 282 recognizing Autism Month. I now move that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We've reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's Late Debate was submitted by the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN VICTIMS:

EMERGENCY ASSISTANCE - PROVIDE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend my colleague from Halifax Chebucto, Howard Epstein, for bringing forward this resolution. The resolution reads as follows:

[Page 1091]

"Therefore be it resolved that the Province should immediately provide emergency assistance for those left without food, shelter or means of earning their livelihood as a result of Hurricane Juan."

Mr. Speaker, we are now into day sixteen since Hurricane Juan and I know that our Leader, through Question Period, had asked questions of the Minister of Community Services and the Minister responsible for EMO with respect to helping those citizens who are not covered under Community Services. When I speak about those citizens, I'm speaking of citizens who are seniors or on old age pensions, who are on Canada Pension disability, those who are on employment insurance and also of low income families in the Province of Nova Scotia.

Although we need to commend the Emergency Measures Organization for the tremendous job that they have done, the problem is that these Nova Scotians have been left to fend for themselves. When I'm talking about this, I'm talking about the particular need to replenish perishable food supplies. Many people who are on social assistance could simply call up the Department of Community Services and speak with the caseworker. In fact, I want to say to the minister, the caseworkers that we have worked with through our office have done a reasonably good job with respect to making sure those individuals who are on social assistance receive some money up front to buy those perishable items.

However, unfortunately, when the issue was brought forward in Question Period on October 9th, the minister also implied that his department would look after those individuals - I shouldn't say look after them - but all they had to do was make a call to the department. Those individuals who are seniors, Canada Pension disability, employment insurance and low income families, many of those individuals will not receive a pay cheque until October 27th and today is day sixteen, many of those individuals who had perishable goods were expected primarily to fend for themselves. I want to say that despite the many organizations out there who made every attempt to assist these individuals, it certainly wasn't enough. And it should not have been enough.

The Minister of Community Services and his department should have assumed the responsibilities for those individuals who could not have their perishable goods recovered. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, many of those individuals, you and I both know, winter comes on and they take their pay cheques over the last few months and they have accumulated these perishable goods so they will get through the winter months, because that's when the high cost of fuel, the high cost of heating their homes, the increased costs of transportation and a number of things that happen through wintertime will certainly cost additional dollars. Many of the individuals try to stock up on those perishable goods.

Mr. Speaker, what happened is that many of the individuals were asked to call the Department of Community Services. From the information we received, the Department of Community Services just simply referred them on to the food banks. The food banks had

[Page 1092]

been overtaxed as a result of Hurricane Juan and providing services to those emergency organizations out there, helping to feed the community. I can tell you that the food bank at Stairs Memorial Church in Dartmouth North, the Church of Nazarene, which provided the hot meals and provided shelter for those individuals obviously did a great job. It simply was not enough.

There were also families who had found themselves without accommodations, many of which have still not been addressed. We are still receiving calls, and I'm sure that every constituency in this province, with respect to the swath of Hurricane Juan, has and is receiving calls. Many of the calls are that they don't have food, they will not receive a pay cheque until October 27th and who is going to provide the perishable items from then until now.

Mr. Speaker, the fact that the Department of Community Services relies upon these individuals to fend for themselves, to go out there and go to the food banks, is totally unacceptable. This was a tremendous disaster. It's a disaster that we hope will never happen in another 100 years. But this was a very serious disaster that occurred, taking away the perishable items of individuals they had accumulated and saved over months; over months because they know the hardship of winter. They know they're going to have those increased costs in fuel, they know they're going to have those increased costs in transportation, they know they're going to have those increased costs in snow removal and so on, so they prepare themselves for that period of time in which the hardship is going to come.

They're accustomed to this, because they live it year in and year out. They have become very frugal individuals, very frugal individuals who this province has not even made, today, an attempt to address the needs of filling their refrigerators, providing the food on their tables for their young people. I do know that in the 1999 Tory election campaign that the Tories prided themselves on working for the best interests of low-income Nova Scotians. They put a whole lot of emphasis on working-poor Nova Scotians with respect to making sure that they were going to be at least protected and at least serviced by this government.

What's happened is that many of those low-income Nova Scotians have been the ones who have approached the Department of Community Services for assistance. We're talking about families who have no other means of income. Some of them hold down two jobs in order to maintain or eke out their existence in this province. When a disaster like Hurricane Juan comes along, there is absolutely no recourse for them to replenish the supplies which they have lost.

Mr. Speaker, this is something that needs to be looked at now, because there are still 11 more days in which these individuals are still going to food banks, and the food banks are telling them that it's impossible for them to provide all their needs. Nonetheless, I think it's important to know that food banks normally provide dry goods. They're not in the business of providing perishable items, such as meat, such as milk, such as cheese, such as butter, the

[Page 1093]

basic staples that enable people to get through. Many people, Mr. Speaker, go to food banks in order to supplement their food budget - I should say their food needs, not their food budget - because they know that perishable items will not be at the food bank. They do know that that is where they can acquire some of the dry goods. So, again, they have become very frugal in setting up their kitchen cupboard in such a way whereby they will know that they have the necessities to carry them on. I have to tell you that when you receive 50 phone calls a day for four consecutive days in a row, you know that there is a problem out there and you know, as well, that government has obviously shirked its responsibility onto someone else.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's also important that when you know that the Emergency Measures Organization has not been structured to address this very issue and you rely upon government agencies to address this issue, then the agencies ought to be in place to recognize the potential problems that they're going to be faced with. There are seniors who have called our office and well, look, the federal government is not responsible for this, go to your Department of Community Services or your provincial government and rightly so. This is a stop at the door. It's up to you to fix a remedy to the problem and then pass on the bill to the other jurisdictions if you believe the federal government is responsible.

Mr. Speaker, most importantly, if I can close, and I do know my minute is up, but if I can close, I would hope that the Minister of Community Services would recognize a serious situation that many Nova Scotians are now faced with.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing this forward. I would describe the member as a very caring person and ever since I have known him, he has always shown his concern for those who are less fortunate in the community. So I appreciate the spirit with which he brings this forward. I also appreciate his comments about the work of staff during this. I would like to speak on that during my response because staff really went above and beyond the call of duty, but yet it was entirely consistent with what I would expect of staff who have devoted their lives to working with people who, at least for the time being, are perhaps down on their luck and need some assistance. So it is entirely in keeping with the staff's character and they certainly did rise to the occasion.

As a way of background for those who are just listening in on the debate, the reason that Community Services is involved with Hurricane Juan in this case is that we are the department that is responsible for emergency social services and emergency social services, Mr. Speaker, that basically refers to emergency food and shelter. In that regard, we have a relationship with the Red Cross. We pay them a retainer to organize the volunteers and to work with them and with us, and with the other Emergency Measures Organizations, to provide that temporary food and shelter in the case of an emergency such as we have just encountered here with Hurricane Juan.

[Page 1094]

It was really quite an experience I can tell you, Mr. Speaker. Going through this, I can recall on the first morning coming into the department after the power was back, it was Tuesday morning and there were about four employees who were in first thing. It was interesting because I had had the good fortune of coming in from the Valley that somehow or other managed to miss the devastation of the hurricane. It's really quite extraordinary. I was going to come in on Monday night until I heard that they cancelled the session that day and it just seemed surreal to me to think that Halifax could be in the dark because we never even lost our power. I guess I wish that Hurricane Juan had just skipped Nova Scotia altogether and not come ashore, but anyway, it certainly was quite extraordinary coming in that Tuesday morning, going to the department, fortunately with lights on in Nelson Place, meeting with the deputy, the assistant deputy, our communications director and some senior staff who came in that morning. They were not dressed as you would normally expect them to be dressed, and that's probably because, as many of the HRM MLAs would certainly be aware, warm showers were not the order of the day. They all had their cold showers, they were in there, and we took part in a conference call with all the people involved with the Emergency Measures Organization.

[5:00 p.m.]

It was wonderful to see the way that people were pitching in, rolling up their sleeves and how things went forward from there. The subject did come up, of emergency food. We talked about the fact that food was going bad in the freezers. As a child who was brought up in a house where my mother, in particular, did tell us stories about hungry children in less fortunate areas of the world, and that is something that has always stuck with me. It was really difficult to hear that this perfectly good food was going to waste.

Mr. Speaker, there is a silver lining to this, because as the Red Cross started to mobilize, people started to come forward. The first one, and I'm going to put it on the record for this company, because I think they deserve credit for it, is M & M Meats. They perhaps recognized that they had a situation with freezers full of perishable goods, and they came forward and offered this. That was just the start of an avalanche of contributions. Then the volunteers started coming out.

Mr. Speaker, on one occasion, when I went out to view the Red Cross headquarters and what was going on there and some of the activities that they were carrying on, it was nice to bump into the young people who were there. They had rolled up their sleeves, they had come out, and their concern was - and this particular young man's concern was - that there be more Kings College volunteers there than any other university. What a healthy competition that was. For the honourable member who I think missed that comment, the university students were having their own competition to see which institution could volunteer more during the aftermath of the storm. What a wonderful reflection on the people of this province. It's really extraordinary.

[Page 1095]

When they have storms like this in some other places in the world, what you hear about is not how people open up their doors and roll up their sleeves and let their neighbours use their shower if they're fortunate enough to have hot water. Or to provide the food from their freezer which is going to spoil unless it's put to good use and so ends up in community barbecues. What you hear in some places of the world is how when the lights went out, bad things happened in the dark.

You just really did not hear virtually any of that during the aftermath of Hurricane Juan. Some may have gone on, but that was certainly not the focus. The focus was on the character, the giving and caring nature of Nova Scotians. Within the department, by Tuesday night the instructions went out for the caseworkers to please go to the emergency shelters and man the phones, because we're not immune from having the power out and we lost all our local offices, all five were down at one point in time. The caseworkers were out there, they were working nights, they were taking telephone calls, they were issuing food vouchers for people who were without food because they had invested their monthly cheque from the previous Friday, and it was going bad in the freezer.

They put in long nights, they put in a long week, they worked through the weekend, and I do appreciate the member acknowledging that. It's very important for staff to hear that from all members of this House. Also, it's important for them to hear the appreciation from the people they did serve during that time. Clients really were very appreciative of what was being done for them.

During the aftermath of the storm, some provisions were made, especially for Community Services clients and also Housing Services clients. People from Housing Services were around delivering food and water to seniors in seniors' complexes immediately afterwards and to some of our public housing where we felt that perhaps the tenants were a little bit more vulnerable and they wanted to make sure that money would not prevent them from having adequate food and water. So this was done.

On the Wednesday was when the corporate donations started to come in. I mentioned M & M Meats as being the first one, but they were not the only ones, Mr. Speaker, and I think that it would perhaps almost be appropriate if the Red Cross was to recognize the wonderful corporate donations that came in to feed those who were affected in the aftermath of this horrible hurricane. I know on Wednesday there were 15 barbecues that were put on in seniors' complexes. They fed about 8,000 to 9,000 people. On Thursday I went out, I met with the people in one of the seniors' complexes, they were very happy with what was going on.

If you would indulge me, Mr. Speaker, I do want to say that with regard to those who are not on income assistance, they still can qualify for food vouchers, but they're going to have to be close to the Employment Support and Income Assistance budget guidelines. If they are close to there and they suffered a significant loss, and let's say they're right on the

[Page 1096]

guideline and they lose $300 worth of food, I would suggest in that case they would be compensated by a caseworker without having to be a client. Mr. Speaker, if you've given me a couple extra seconds, I certainly appreciate it because I did want to get to that point. I just felt passionate about all the good work that was done by Nova Scotians during the aftermath of the hurricane.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this particular resolution. Just for clarity, the resolution says:

"Therefore be it resolved that the province should immediately provide emergency assistance for those left without food, shelter or means of earning their livelihood as a result of Hurricane Juan."

The most fascinating part about this entire issue, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the government has never quantified - and perhaps rightfully so, maybe not - or even put an estimate on the total cost of Hurricane Juan. I've heard the government banter around the figure of $100 million. Obviously, they must be using that as a benchmark because they came up with their announcement last Friday of $10 million which would be one-tenth of the federal-provincial cost-shared allotment, but I've heard in recent days the fact that the cost of Hurricane Juan is substantially higher than that, anywhere up to and in excess of $300 million.

Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of people in Nova Scotia who are affected. There are business people, there are people who work everyday who have been forced to forgo going to work, the average family, certainly those on low and fixed income, and very importantly so, the working poor of this province which represent a fairly substantial number that I think the government should be paying some attention to. The honourable member who introduced this resolution obviously recognized that we're not just dealing with those who are in receipt of assistance from the Department of Community Services and I think that's good, but what the minister has stood up and waxed eloquent about is about all the good things that others have done and, indeed, the very substantial efforts that were put forth by staff within his department.

But that's not the issue, Mr. Speaker. The issue is that the government hasn't taken a leadership role in providing substantial resources, in particular financial resources, to help those people who have fallen through the cracks. We are still dealing with the effects of the flooding from last year and I've heard estimates that at best only one-third of all those who have applied have received any form of assistance and, even at that, the assistance they have received is very meagre. In some cases, I've heard reports where EMO has rejected their application for assistance and then found that there was such an uproar in certain communities, certain counties of this province, that they said, oh, my heavens, we better get

[Page 1097]

the numbers up to at least show that a good percentage of the people who applied have indeed qualified and received assistance. Albeit that they've only received maybe anywhere from 10 per cent to 15 per cent of what they were actually seeking.

The government can kind of move the numbers around to set its own agenda and make it appear as though it's doing a lot of good, but the fact of the matter is a lot of people have been left out in the cold even from the last disaster that hit Nova Scotia. Now Hurricane Juan - the unfortunate issue about the fire alarm system - electric versus battery operated - the government is talking what a wonderful discovery, that perhaps it's now time to put battery operated fire alarms in these public housing units.

Anyone who applies for a permit and has to build a new home in HRM today, they have to have a battery operated fire alarm. If it's good enough for anyone building in HRM to not only have the electric but also the battery operated - it's now a requirement in code in HRM - why isn't it good enough for that minister and that government to protect the vulnerable people in the province? What the minister has refused to say is it's all about money. The government refuses to commit the resources to help those people who are most in need.

That's a classic example of the government saying oh, we're going to study it and we're going to examine it. That's a code word for saying let's put it off and let's try to find as many ways as possible not to spend the money. Let's not allot resources to help those people who are vulnerable and can't look after themselves, to heck with them, that's not our Conservative agenda, which is generally pro big business.

I think that's totally unacceptable for the minister to get up on such an important resolution and talk about all the wonderful things that other people are doing, but never, as a minister responsible in this department, to stand and say this is what I as a minister of this government, a minister responsible for looking after those who are in most need, this is what I'm going to do. He hasn't done that. He passed out some food chits of which there's still confusion as to whether some of these people have to pay it back or not.

The minister says I've communicated that to my deputy minister. Well, I've heard that story before. Maybe the deputy minister and/or the minister should go and make sure all the front-line workers are aware of this. This is not like going to a movie and deciding whether you want to buy popcorn or not. This is not that freelance thinking that the minister should be putting out there. Do something and accept the responsibility in a very serious fashion.

What about all those individuals who have now had to go and buy additional food resources? I raised the issue last week regarding the home heating rebate program, bringing that back. What did the minister do? That's not my responsibility, that's not my department, that's somebody else's department. But did he take any initiative to raise that with his

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colleague who may be the minister responsible? I would venture to say no. I'll bet you it hasn't even hit the radar screen with this minister. There are tens of thousands of Nova Scotians - particularly here in metro - who need that assistance. They don't need that meagre $50 rebate that was tossed out like a soup bone last year, of which perhaps only about $35 or $40 of that would materialize into real dollar value in the purchase of home heating. Given the skyrocketing fuel prices last winter, it had little or no impact.

Compare that to what's going on in New Brunswick, where they put out a monthly fee which is twice what the Department of Community Services in this province would put out for the rebate program. I think it's woefully inadequate.

Those people who are the working poor, they're not going to go to the Department of Community Services because they do not qualify. There is nothing in the terms of reference, nothing in the criteria, nothing in the application requirements that say these individuals who have been adversely affected can now qualify for special assistance from the Department of Community Services, because, the minister knows full well, their income level is the bracket that they measure as to whether they're going to qualify for assistance or not. So it's totally unacceptable.

[5:15 p.m.]

Now, let's look at the $10 million. How far do we really think that's going to go? Who is the government going to prioritize? Are they going to prioritize, let's say the farmers, the fishermen, forestry, you name it? I'm sure the Minister responsible for EMO, if he were to go down through Colchester and Hants Counties, he could come back with a report within two days, maybe less than that, suggesting that there's a $100 million loss in those two counties alone, knowing just the lost income alone and the increased cost for feed stocks, you name it. So the minister knows, and he's acknowledging that what the government has provided is not enough. That's essentially what he's indicating, Mr. Speaker. I agree. He says, stayed tuned. Maybe we will wait until more people go hungry or more farmers go out of business, then we will decide to help them.

I do want to support and compliment the member who introduced this resolution. It's a good resolution. I think we should pay more attention to those who can't look after themselves and never mind the patronizing comments of the Minister of Community Services. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in the debate this evening.

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 5:16 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 381

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas hundreds of military personnel from across Canada joined in the efforts to clean up Halifax and its surrounding area after Hurricane Juan hit the province, leaving in its wake thousands of downed trees; and

Whereas seven members of Yarmouth's 84th Independent Fire Battery assisted in Operation Splinter; and

Whereas Sergeant E.T. Dugas, Sergeant K.J. Tufts, Brigadier T.L.D. Harrington, Corporal J. Parker, Brigadier W.R. Zwicker, Private J. Thorburne and Private T.P. Tufts joined their fellow armed services personnel in the substantial operation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the members of the 84th Independent Field Battery for their tireless work in helping their fellow Nova Scotians get their lives back to normal as part of Operation Splinter.

RESOLUTION NO. 382

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Kings Transit is an example of how public transit in rural communities can be successful operations; and

Whereas the bus service was taken over by the Municipality of Kings County in 1981 and, despite some hard times, its ridership has increased by 50 per cent since 1995 with revenues increasing by 70 per cent; and

Whereas Kings Transit was recently selected as one of the best transit systems in North America by Metro Magazine and this past June, Chairman Gary Pearl was invited to present some of Kings Transit's history to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the success of the Kings Transit system and wish them much success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 383

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas 15 years after Kentville native Shirley Cameron died of leukemia, her dream of a home away from home for those affected by cancer has a new reality; and

Whereas Kentville's new Fidelis House is a 12-room, 24-bed facility located on the grounds of the Valley Regional Hospital with ample kitchen and living room space; and

Whereas the facility is staffed around the clock by a roster of 40 volunteers and is expected to welcome 2,000 guests over the next year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the important work of the volunteers of Fidelis House and congratulate all those volunteers who have worked so hard to make the new facility possible.