Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-15

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Autism: Specialized Programs - Implement, Mr. D. Dexter 1198
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1198
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 422, Agric. & Fish. - BSE Task Force: Success - Wish,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 1199
Vote - Affirmative 1199
Res. 423, East. Shore DHS - Hurricane Juan: Commun. Support -
Commend, Hon. J. Muir 1199
Vote - Affirmative 1200
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 20, Workers' Compensation Act/Occupational Health and Safety Act,
Hon. K. Morash 1200
No. 21, Trade Union Act/Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act,
Mr. F. Corbett 1200
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 424, Crosby, Sidney - Return: QMJHL Role - Welcome,
Mr. D. Dexter 1200
Vote - Affirmative 1201
Res. 425, C.B. Growth Fund - CEO/Bd. Members: Appt. - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1201
Vote - Affirmative 1202
Res. 426, Kentville Rotary Club - Harris Fellowships: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1202
Vote - Affirmative 1203
Res. 427, Martin, Paul: Peace Tower Flag - Selection, Mr. K. Deveaux 1203
Res. 428, Prem. - Blue Books: Words/Actions - Dichotomy Explain,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1204
Res. 429, Wadden, Chief Don - Fire Safety: Teaching Efforts - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1204
Vote - Affirmative 1205
Res. 430, Tory/Alliance - Merger: Paul Martin - Inclusion,
Mr. F. Corbett ^^1205
Res. 431, Pope John Paul II - Election: Anniv. (25th) - Acknowledge,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1206
Vote - Affirmative 1206
Res. 432, Gov't. (Can.) - Customs: Fast Lanes (Mar. Provs.) -
Lack Condemn, Mr. C. O'Donnell 1206
Res. 433, Brunswick St. United Church - "The Great Thanksgiving":
Organizers/Vols. - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1207
Vote - Affirmative 1208
Res. 434, Jackson, Shirley - AVRSB: Contribution - Acknowledge,
Mr. L. Glavine 1208
Vote - Affirmative 1209
Res. 435, Agric. & Fish. - Proj. Bovine Beauty: Organizers - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Taylor 1209
Vote - Affirmative 1209
Res. 436, Selma Schoolhouse - Maitland & Dist. Dev. Assoc.:
Restoration - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 1210
Vote - Affirmative 1210
Res. 437, Oliver, Neil/Cummings, Randy/Robertson, George -
Digby's Fishermen's Memorial: Addition - Acknowledge,
Mr. H. Theriault 1210
Vote - Affirmative 1211
Res. 438, Dorrington, Art: Atl. City (N.J.) Hall of Fame - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 1211
Vote - Affirmative 1212
Res. 439, Hurricane Juan Aftermath - Fundraising Event: Dart. -
Encourage, Ms. J. Massey 1212
Vote - Affirmative 1213
Res. 440, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Margaree Hbr. Bridge: Completion -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1213
Res. 441, Gunning, Dave: Musician of the Yr. - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 1213
Vote - Affirmative 1214
Res. 442, Nat. Res.: Coastal Protection Policy - Institute,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1214
Res. 443, Acadian Maple Products - Allaway Family: Opening -
Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 1215
Vote - Affirmative 1215
Res. 444, Longhorn Garden Market: Success - Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 1215
Vote - Affirmative 1216
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 145, Health - Autism: Treatment - Parents Include, Mr. D. Dexter 1216
No. 146, Health - Autism: Treatment Serv. - Provide, Mr. D. Graham 1217
No. 147, Health - Autism: Treatment Serv. - Increase,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1219
No. 148, Fin. - Budget Shortfall: Min. - Action, Ms. D. Whalen 1220
No. 149, Energy - NSBI: ExxonMobil Deal - Min. Position,
Mr. F. Corbett 1221
No. 150, Status of Women - Bryony House: Emerg. Funding -
Advocate, Ms. D. Whalen 1222
No. 151, Health: Youth Mental Health Treatment Ctrs. - Status,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1224
No. 152, Commun. Serv. - Social Housing: Fed. Funding - Explain,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1225
No. 153, EMO - Hurricane Juan: Cleanup Serv. - Extend, Ms. J. Massey 1226
No. 154, EMO - Hurricane Juan: Extended Ins. Coverage - Assistance,
Mr. H. Epstein 1227
No. 155, Health - Strait Richmond Hosp.: Physician Recruitment -
Failure, Mr. Michel Samson 1228
No. 156, EMO - Hurricane Juan: Woodlot Owners - Assistance,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1230
No. 157, Energy - Strait Area (Bear Head): Land Sale - Explain,
Mr. Michel Samson 1231
No. 158, Commun. Serv. - Adoption Records: Access -
Leadership Exhibit, Ms. M. More 1233
No. 159, EMO - Hurricane Juan: Gov't. Practices - Review,
Mr. D. Graham 1234
SPEAKER'S RULING: Signature requirement on tabled letters and e-mails.
(Pt. of order by Mr. R. MacKinnon [Hansard p.1069, 10/14/03]) 1235
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 7, Labour Standards Code/Vital Statistics Act 1237
No. 8, Volunteer Protection Act 1237
Hon. R. Russell 1237
Mr. K. Deveaux 1237
Vote - Affirmative 1238
No. 10, Municipal Elections Act 1238
No. 15, Court Jurisdiction and Proceedings Transfer Act 1238
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. S. McNeil 1239
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1242
Mr. G. Gosse 1249
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1257
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:^
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 1271
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 3:39 P.M. 1272
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:40 P.M. 1272
CWH REPORTS 1272
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health Care - Anna. Valley: Commitment - Abandonment:
Mr. L. Glavine 1273
Mr. M. Parent 1275
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1278
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Oct. 20th at 3:00 p.m. 1280
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 445, Coldwell, Douglas - "The Love of Tollers": Book Success -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1281
Res. 446, Jess, Cameron - Bearer of the Chosen Seed: Publication -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1281
Res. 447, Scarrow, Elaine: Welcome Wagon Award - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 1282
Res. 448, Nicholson, Rhianna: Swim N.S. - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1282
Res. 449, Southwest Early Childhood Intervention Prog.:
Coordinator/Staff - Commend, Hon. R. Hurlburt 1283
Res. 450, Smith, Cst. Craig: Cdn. Nat'l. Griot Award - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 1283
Res. 451, Oakes, Keegan - CBRM Safety Mascot: Drawing -
Selection Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 1284
NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER:
No. 1, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Safe Driving Prog.: Seniors Rebate -
Details, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1285

[Page 1197]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, OCTOBER 16, 2003

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has abandoned its commitment to health care in the Annapolis Valley.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

1197

[Page 1198]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative clause which reads, "Children with Autism need comprehensive evaluation and specialized behavioral and educational programs. Appropriate treatment can have a positive impact on a child's development and produce an overall reduction in disruptive behaviors and symptoms. Early intervention is critical if children with ASD are to integrate into the school system effectively. As parents, we want the best for our children." It is signed by 4,374 individuals from around the province and I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in connection with the petition that I have just tabled, I would like to introduce to the House of Assembly a number of individuals who are now in our gallery, who are here today to watch the proceedings and to make representations with respect to the need for assistance for children with autism. I would introduce to the House Margaret LoPresti, Dan Maher, Eileen O'Toole, Jim Young, Tracey and Gerard Avery, and with them is Michelle Beausoleil who is an ABA worker. I would ask the House to welcome them. (Applause)

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

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report, Making Inroads, of the Nova Scotia Health Research Foundation for the year 2002-03.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

[Page 1199]

RESOLUTION NO. 422

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

Whereas BSE is a very serious issue for our producers in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas many farmers and those associated with the beef industry have suffered income and business losses; and

Whereas the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries has established an Agricultural Task Force on BSE, made up of industry and government members to look at the impacts of BSE and the income programs available to farmers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House wish the Agricultural Task Force on BSE and the participating producers success in the four upcoming community meetings to be held in Wentworth, Antigonish, Brookfield and Kentville over the next five days.

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. 423

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

Whereas Eastern Shore District High School in Musquodoboit Harbour, during the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, opened its doors to the community to allow residents without power to have a shower or to drink a hot cup of coffee; and

[Page 1200]

Whereas the communities along the Eastern Shore were particularly hard hit by Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas many of the staff members, like school secretary Donna Laybolt, were without power but still came to school every day with a smile on their face;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Principal Al Reyner and the students and staff of the Eastern Shore District High School for their sensitive and compassionate support of their community during its time of need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 20 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 10 of the Acts of 1994-95. Workers' Compensation Act; and Chapter 7 of the Acts of 1996. Occupational Health and Safety Act. (Hon. Kerry Morash)

Bill No. 21 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. Trade Union Act; and to Repeal Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1997 (Second Session). Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 424

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

[Page 1201]

Whereas today, October 16, 2003, Sidney Crosby of Cole Harbour will be playing in the metro area for the first time since he joined a Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team; and

Whereas Sidney Crosby's talent has already made him a star of the Quebec league and the object of even greater interest from fans and scouts; and

Whereas the Rimouski Oceanic organization and Sidney Crosby are working well to minimize the pressure on him, respecting the fact that he's 16 years old and help him focus on developing his abilities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House joins with Nova Scotians in welcoming Sidney Crosby's return as a Quebec Major Junior League player and encouraging all those who are helping him deal so well with the inevitable pressure and challenges that he faces.

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 South.

RESOLUTION NO. 425

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

Whereas on September 6th of this year, Rick Beaton was appointed Chairman and CEO of the Cape Breton Growth Fund; and

Whereas other new board members include Greg Lynch, Judy Steele, Loran Tweedie, David Andrews and Tom Rankin; and

Whereas the CBGF is a partnership between the Government of Canada and the Province of Nova Scotia and has a mandate to assist in the transition of the Cape Breton economy;

[Page 1202]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Rick Beaton, Greg Lynch, Judy Steele, Loran Tweedie, David Andrews and Tom Rankin on their appointments to the Board of Directors of the Cape Breton Growth Fund.

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. 426

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 Rotary Foundation is supported solely by voluntary contributions from Rotarians and their friends who share the vision of a better world; and

Whereas the Paul Harris Fellow is a recognition of those Rotarians who contribute a gift or have a gift contributed by others of more than $1,000 to the organization to maintain its good works; and

Whereas Kentville Rotary Club members Greg Trefry, Doris Veinot, Joe Ueffing, Angus Miller and Peter Smith all recently were presented with a Paul Harris Fellowship;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Rotarians Greg Trefry, Doris Veinot, Joe Ueffing, Angus Miller and Peter Smith for their service to the community and congratulate them on their receipt of Paul Harris Fellowships.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1203]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[12:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 427

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

Whereas federal Liberal Leader-designate, Paul Martin, removed the Canadian flag from his Canada Steamship Line vessels, registering them instead with countries like Vanuatu, which has a smaller population than the City of Halifax; and

Whereas Mr. Martin has not yet explained why someone who refused to fly the Canadian flag should be welcomed as Prime Minister; and

Whereas Canadians can help Mr. Martin choose which flag he will choose for the Peace Tower on a new website, www.flyourflag.ca;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge all Nova Scotians, in the sea-faring tradition of our province, to select a foreign or corporate flag Mr. Martin might want to fly from the Peace Tower by going to website www.flyourflag.ca.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

[Page 1204]

RESOLUTION NO. 428

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

Whereas in blue book one and blue book two, Premier John Hamm promised that his government would consult and co-operate with all affected stakeholders on matters of public policy; and

Whereas the UNSM is totally opposed to the idea of a plebiscite on Sunday shopping in next year's municipal elections; and

Whereas both the Liberal and NDP caucuses are publicly opposed to this proposed plebiscite;

Therefore be it resolved that Premier John Hamm explain the dichotomy of his words and his actions.

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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 429

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

Whereas nine local fire departments visited Frank H. MacDonald School in Sutherlands River recently as part of National Fire Prevention Week; and

Whereas Little Harbour Fire Chief and coordinator for school visits for the eastern end of Pictou County, Don Wadden, made these visits possible; and

Whereas events like these are so important because children take home the lessons learned about fire safety to their parents and can result in saving lives;

[Page 1205]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Fire Chief Don Wadden and all those who work so hard to teach our children about fire safety and, in doing so, make our communities safer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 430

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

Whereas yesterday's news reports stated that Conservative Party Leader Peter McKay and Canadian Alliance Leader Stephen Harper announced the possible merger of their Parties; and

Whereas talks have been ongoing for some time about uniting the right in Canada; and

Whereas this may be the first step towards uniting Mr. Harper's and Mr. McKay's Parties;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. McKay and Mr. Harper, but realize that any meaningful merger of the right has to include Paul Martin.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 1206]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 431

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 25 years ago today marks the celebration of the election of Pope John Paul II as pontiff; and

Whereas Pope John Paul is 83 years old and approaching the third-longest pontificate reign in history; and

Whereas celebrations, tributes and masses are occurring all over the world to mark this significant occasion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge Pope John Paul II on his 25th Anniversary as pontiff.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 432

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

Whereas Nova Scotia exports $1.2 billion annually in seafood - more than 70 per cent of it to the United States; and

[Page 1207]

Whereas five border crossings in central Canada and on the West Coast currently operate dedicated lanes for commercial traffic and six more fast lanes are scheduled to be ready in January, but none will be found east of Quebec; and

Whereas the absence of fast lanes or plans for fast lanes in the Maritime Provinces is further proof of the federal government's blatant disregard of the region's economic interests;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in the House of Assembly condemn the federal government's lack of concern for Nova Scotia's seafood industry and urge the federal government to fast-track fast lanes in the Maritime Provinces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 433

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

Whereas 220 years ago, Methodist preacher William Black laid the groundwork for the Brunswick Street United Church which in 1925 joined with the United Church; and

Whereas through its congregation, volunteers, and supporters this church has worked tirelessly to feed the hungry, clothe the needy and provide support and hope to inner city residents; and

Whereas on Saturday, October 18th, at the Holiday Inn, the Brunswick Street United Church will host "The Great Thanksgiving", an evening of Maritime food, silent auction, live music and guest speakers;

[Page 1208]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank the Brunswick Street United Church, the congregation, volunteers and Reverend Gus and Lorna Pendleton for the vital contribution they make to the inner city and wish them every success at their Great Thanksgiving event on Saturday, October 18th.

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. 434

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

Whereas Shirley Jackson of Port Williams announced her resignation as the chairwoman of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board earlier this month; and

Whereas her departure is with sincere regret and sadness because of poor health and she has earned the respect of AVRSB stakeholders from Superintendent Dr. Gunn to students; and

Whereas Mrs. Jackson has been commended for her gentle and compassionate presence, her wonderful way of working with people and has personified the highest standards and purest motives;

Therefore be it resolved that members acknowledge the valuable contribution Shirley Jackson has provided to the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and her community and wish her the very best in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1209]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 435

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

Whereas a bevy of bovine beauties is batting eyelashes and mooing for the camera for Project Bovine Beauty to raise funds for farmers who suffered losses at the hands of Hurricane Juan; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, BMO Nesbitt Burns and the Rotary Club Halifax Northwest have launched an adopt-a-cow fundraiser this week to help farmers get their properties back in order; and

Whereas donations to this unique fundraiser can be made at any branch of Nesbitt Burns;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture, BMO Nesbitt Burns and the Rotary Club Halifax Northwest on launching Project Bovine Beauty and wish them every success in this endeavour.

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 1210]

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 436

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

Whereas a community's history is part of the quilt-work that makes up the province's historical record and is therefore worth preserving; and

Whereas a school is often a community's only surviving physical link with its past; and

Whereas the Maitland and District Development Association is restoring the old Selma schoolhouse, which is a designated heritage building;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the members of the Maitland and District Development Association for their determination to preserve their tangible links to their past for the benefit of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 437

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

Whereas in a ceremony being held this Sunday, three more names will be added to Digby's Fishermen's Memorial; and

[Page 1211]

Whereas this year the names of Neil Oliver, Randy Cummings and George Robertson will be added; and

Whereas this monument is a focal point of a waterfront park which opened one year ago on Maiden Lane in Digby;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge this year's names of Neil Oliver, Randy Cummings and George Robertson to Digby's Fishermen's Memorial.

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. 438

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

Whereas Art Dorrington, a native of Truro, has been named to the Atlantic City, New Jersey, Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Art Dorrington, who also excelled in baseball, is known as the Jackie Robinson of hockey, being the first Black player to sign with an NHL team when he accepted a minor league contract with the New York Rangers in 1950; and

Whereas Art Dorrington is being honoured for his community leadership as well as his hockey contributions to Atlantic City;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Art Dorrington for earning a place in the Atlantic City, New Jersey, Hall of Fame and wish him well as he continues his leadership in his adopted home community.

[Page 1212]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 439

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

Whereas many green spaces in Dartmouth were extensively damaged by Hurricane Juan, such as Shubie Park and Sullivans Pond; and

Whereas last weekend many generous people made pledges totally over $1 million to help restore the Public Gardens; and

Whereas other groups have been contacting Mayor Peter Kelly in regard to perhaps beginning a similar fundraiser for other green spaces which were also hard hit by Hurricane Juan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those involved in the Public Gardens restoration fundraising event and encourage a similar event to be held to help in the required cleanup and restoration that will be required in Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1213]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 440

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

Whereas after two years and a $10 million investment, the 270-metre Margaree Harbour Bridge in Cape Breton opened to traffic on October 10th; and

Whereas travellers can now drive over the new two-lane concrete structure which connects Margaree Harbour and Belle Cote along the Cabot Trail; and

Whereas the new Margaree Harbour Bridge is a benefit to travellers and the local economy that will move people and goods faster and more efficiently;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the minister and staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works on the completion of the Margaree Harbour Bridge and on their commitment to building a first-class transportation network in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Was there a request for waiver?

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I might beg your indulgence to do an introduction first. In the west gallery, I am pleased to introduce my wife, Marilyn, at the back of the gallery, she is there with her crocheting. I would ask the House to give her a warm welcome. (Applause) I couldn't get away without doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West on his resolution.

RESOLUTION NO. 441

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

Whereas singer/songwriter Dave Gunning of Pictou was named Musician of the Year at the recent Music Industry Association of Nova Scotia Awards in Halifax; and

[Page 1214]

Whereas this Nova award recognizes him for music of his own composition; and

Whereas Dave Gunning has been pleasing audiences with his music for years, both locally and around the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Dave Gunning on winning the Musician of the Year Award and wish him continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 442

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

Whereas Nova Scotia, Canada's Ocean Playground, has more than 7,000 kilometres of coastline; and

Whereas there is currently no provincial policy or legislation guiding coastal development in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Province of New Brunswick has published A Coastal Areas Protection Policy;

Therefore be it resolved that this government demonstrate leadership and initiate a comprehensive coastal protection policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 1215]

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 443

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

Whereas Acadian Maple Products have opened an outlet at 13578 Peggy's Cove Road in Upper Tantallon; and

Whereas this family-owned business is the labour of love of the Allaway family; and

Whereas this business is a welcome addition to our community;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate the Allaways on the opening of the Acadian Maple Products store, with best wishes and many years of success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 444

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

Whereas Rob Assels and Lesley Longhorn successfully operate a certified organic general store in Marshville, Pictou County; and

Whereas their certified organically grown fruits and vegetables contain no chemicals, fertilizers, pesticides, hormones or herbicides; and

[Page 1216]

Whereas to become certified organic, producers must follow strict guidelines, providing a guarantee to consumers that products are grown in an ecological manner and must pass a yearly inspection;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the owners of Longhorn Garden Market on the success of their organic enterprise and wish them continued prosperity.

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 12:31 p.m. and end at 1:31 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - AUTISM: TREATMENT - PARENTS INCLUDE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the rates of autism in Canada are soaring. It's now estimated that there are 350 children under the age of six in Nova Scotia with autism. We know that early treatment can change a child's life. On Tuesday and on Wednesday, we asked the Minister of Health when his government will address the treatment shortages in this province. He said his department is doing a thorough analysis and assessment, yet the key stakeholders, the parents who happen to be sitting in the gallery today, are not involved. My question is this, will the minister commit today to include the most important stakeholders, the parents, in these discussions?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to comment on this topic because the department has indeed embarked upon an analysis of this, and the process is something that I would be prepared to share with parents. I look forward to meeting with parents in the very near future, with respect to the entire topic.

[Page 1217]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we will be happy to take the minister up on that and arrange for that follow-up, because parents across the country have been forced to take their governments to court for access to proper treatments. Courts in British Columbia, Ontario, and Newfoundland have all ruled that it is discriminatory not to provide proper treatment; denying children treatment has even been called a human rights violation. Nova Scotia is the only province in Atlantic Canada not providing needed treatment for children with autism. Parents have travelled to the House today for answers and, as you know, they brought with them a petition with nearly 5,000 signature. My question to the minister is this, when can we expect Nova Scotia to catch up with the rest of the country and start improving services for these children?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I would anticipate that when we are in a position to act upon the recommendations of the group that is currently reviewing best practices, both internationally and internationally, we will come forward with a program that will be second to none in this country.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, parents like Jim Young are incredibly frustrated by the shortage of services available to children with autism. He waited more than a year to have his child assessed. He says there is a complete lack of services available and, like many parents, he has had to seek private help. This is a family of four, now struggling with mounting bills. My question for the minister is this, the parents here today deserve concrete answers, how are you going to improve the services available for their children?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have, in the past, added money to the budget with respect to providing services. We have more to do, and the review that is underway within my department is part of setting the stage for how we will address the treatment questions in the future. Mr. Speaker, I hope that that process will be expedited as quickly as possible.

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

HEALTH - AUTISM: TREATMENT SERV. - PROVIDE

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I also wish to ask a question of the Minister of Finance on the issue of autism. This is Autism Month and we spoke yesterday about this pressing issue in this House. At that time I referenced a letter from an Annapolis Valley family with whom I have spoken. They have a daughter who is caught with an autistic spectrum disorder. They are not alone: there are the Averys, who have been mentioned by the Leader of the Opposition; the Youngs; the Dassonvilles; the Fentons; and other families all across Nova Scotia. Many of them are asking for the services of applied behaviour analysis. We know that Nova Scotia is the only province in Atlantic Canada that doesn't provide that. My question for the Minister of Health is, why is this so, sir?

[Page 1218]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thought I heard the honourable Leader of the Third Party suggest he was addressing the question to the Minister of Finance and my attention was not as focussed as it should have been. If he could ask the question again, I would appreciate it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party on the question only, please.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I have been so used to asking question of the Minister of Finance, or the Premier on finance questions, it's obviously a Freudian (Interruption) I'm sure he won't. There's still time, we have several questions. I too want to ask a question on the issue of autism and I want to ask it to the Minister of Health. Yesterday we spoke about the issue of autism, this is Autism Month. My question . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. To the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party, I think the honourable minister heard part of the question. Would you repeat the question only, please.

MR. GRAHAM: Why does Nova Scotia choose not to fund ABA, applied behavioural analysis, when the other three Atlantic Provinces do?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the analysis we are currently involved in will address all treatment options that are out there. When we embark upon a course of action, which I hope will be soon, the course of action will be based on the very best practices available.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the letter that I referenced yesterday from a family in the Annapolis Valley, with whom we have spoken, seems to put the finger on the point. In the letter the father of this family states, "The previous Conservative Government spent an estimated seven million dollars buying votes through tax rebates." The math wasn't exactly correct but nonetheless, the principle is the same. "In particular . . ." he said, " . . . I hope that the Liberal Party will commit to providing the necessary levels of health care to autistic children, should it form the next Government." This is consistent with the challenges that are being faced by many families who have children with developmental delays. My question to the minister is, whether or not he will admit that his government's efforts to come forward with a tax scheme that was untimely was, in fact, at the expense of families with children with developmental delays?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have been increasing the funding for the Health budget year over year. We have made long-term commitments with respect to funding. When we have received the report of the committee studying this problem, we will ensure that funding is available to carry out that program.

[Page 1219]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, this person also sent a letter off to the Minister of Health and in it he states, that I recently received the previous Conservative Government's one-time tax refund of $155. I am concerned that this happened despite the underfunded and inadequate state of our public services in general, and our health services in particular. Governing is about making choices and the choices that this government has made certainly aren't in keeping with this family's needs. My question to the Minister of Health is, why does this government feel that it is more important to go ahead with a tax scheme than support families who are facing these difficulties?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we recognize the need to address treatment for families with these difficulties. That is why we have developed the Neuro-Developmental Delay standards committee. That committee will be bringing forward recommendations to the government and I hope to be able to bring those recommendations to government in the near future. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable Leader of the Liberal Party to table those documents he quoted from, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - AUTISM: TREATMENT SERV. - INCREASE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of Health. Mr. Minister, a group of parents have travelled to the House today because they can't get the services they need for their children who have been diagnosed with autism. Tracey and Gerard Avery have twin three-year-old boys who have been diagnosed with this syndrome. Tracey Avery knows that with proper treatment her sons, Kyle and Brandon, would drastically improve the quality of their lives. My question for the minister is quite simple, when will your government increase the services for children with autism?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to inform the House that what we are embarking upon with respect to this matter is an analysis of the very best practices that are available. When that analysis is complete, recommendations will be made to government and I will ensure that those recommendations are brought to government with the intent of acting upon them.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we all know that this idea of best practices, while it's important, is a moving target. Best practices are always changing as the actual treatment and the examination of the impact of that treatment is assessed. Applied behavioural analysis is a recommended treatment. Parents in Nova Scotia are sinking into debt to pay for their health care, even though it's provided in every other Atlantic Province and across this country. My question to the minister is quite simple, how can you justify your inaction on this front to the parents sitting in our gallery today?

[Page 1220]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when we embark upon an expanded treatment, we want to ensure that the very best practices are being employed that are available at the time we embark upon that program, and that is our objective. The honourable member's quite correct when she suggests that it is a moving target, but we want to ensure that we have selected the best available at the time we embark upon our program.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, investing in treatment will not only improve a child's quality of life, it makes economic sense. The Canadian Autism Society says it will cut autism costs in half and save $1 million over an individual's lifetime. The parents who are here today are hoping that they will see action from this government, not talk about more study, more assessment, more review, more analysis. Mr. Speaker, as you know, we've seen this with a lot of other issues here, so I want to ask the minister, what is your timetable for actually taking some activity to improve the treatment options available for families with children with autism?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, once the report has been brought forward to myself as the minister, and I've had an opportunity to evaluate it and bring it forward to Cabinet. I hope that will occur as soon as possible.

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

FIN. - BUDGET SHORTFALL: MIN. - ACTION

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Finance. The Minister of Finance has become quite adept at sidestepping questions, instead of telling the people the true state of the province's finances. Yesterday he told our Leader he was dealing with a $32 million shortfall, but not the extra $22 million in reduced transfer payments. Why is the minister failing to deal with the $22 million shortfall?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises two issues. The first issue is the $32 million that we brought forward in the September forecast. Those were issues that we saw the revenues going down. So we brought that plan forward to work with it. She's quoting another figure that could or couldn't be - we have not defined the analysis on the equalization, all of the provinces haven't. If she's reading the paper, she will see that and when that's defined, we are dealing with that with the federal government.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, last April's budget is fast becoming irrelevant. A $32 million shortfall has turned into a $54 million shortfall, or more, since the figure clearly is not yet pegged and it may very well go higher. We're almost seven months into the fiscal year and there is still no plan. This government, with the support of the NDP, would not commit to rescinding a tax cut that we cannot afford. My question is again to the Minister

[Page 1221]

of Finance, why won't the minister admit that we are in a deficit situation in Nova Scotia that cannot be remedied this late in the fiscal year unless he inflicts massive cuts to public programs and services?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, at the time of the fiscal update, we knew there were going to be some corrections that we had to make this year and that's what a forecast in the budget is all about. You project what you believe to be the best circumstances and how things are going to go. Whether it's your own home, whether it's a corporation, whether it's the province, we have to make adjustments as we go along to recognize those circumstances. We have started with our budget management plan. We are carrying on with that and it is our intent that we are going to balance the budget this year.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we are almost seven months into the fiscal year and the minister has yet to tell the people where he is going to cut and what fees he plans to increase. He refers to a budget management plan. Now there is another $22 million shortfall and the minister won't even acknowledge that fact. My question again to the minister is, when can we expect the minister to tell Nova Scotians the details of his budget management plan and the specific plans to deal with the $54 million shortfall that we expect?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we have asked the departments to look at the opportunities they have to achieve some savings this year. Those plans are coming in. They will be reviewed by Cabinet and the department and when that plan is ready, we will be bringing it forward to all the people of Nova Scotia.

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

ENERGY - NSBI: EXXONMOBIL DEAL - MIN. POSITION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Energy. On the heels of the news that ExxonMobil had bungled the contract for the compression deck, and the Minister of Energy vowed never to let Nova Scotia get another raw deal like this again, he said Nova Scotia needs to be the principal beneficiary of its offshore, and with that we agree. That's why it's troubling to hear the poor return we stand to get from the impending deal with Access Northeast Energy for a liquified natural gas plant in the Strait of Canso. In Bear Head, the province is poised to sell the land to Access Northeast Energy for a mere $2 million and, guess what, Nova Scotia Business Inc. says that's the best deal we can get. I want to ask the Minister of Energy, does he support NSBI's position that this is the best deal we could get for Nova Scotia's energy?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to that specific point, as the member knows, that project is in the development phase of moving forward and trying to facilitate what would be in excess of $0.5 billion, something that the local area - Port Hawkesbury, the Strait area, the County of Richmond - has been very supportive of and, obviously, trying to be

[Page 1222]

competitive in recognizing that Nova Scotia is not isolated and, in fact, we are associated with other markets where we have to be competitive. Specific to NSBI, I would ask the Minister of Economic Development to comment appropriately.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to enlighten the minister a little bit and table this document - what a good deal might look like. We're well aware of the competitive market in which we live. I'm going to table a document from a memorandum of offer between the ConocoPhilips and Trans Canada Pipeline groups in the Town of Harpswell, Maine. This deal will be worth $400 million U.S. to the people of Harpswell just to lease the land for an LNG plant. So can the minister tell this House why it is that our government believes the best we can do is to basically give away the land for a mere $2 million, while just down the road, across the border, some Cdn. $530 million is being spent leasing land?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, just down the road, across the border - maybe the honourable member needs a geography lesson in the realities of where we are in context to the market, indeed, that he would suggest we're not even accessing. He should look at his geography and recognize that the toll rates, as well as access to market, are key and very important. Maybe rather than looking at what is elsewhere, we need to look at what the benefits are. We are working to ensure that developments in Nova Scotia benefit Nova Scotians and not navel-gazing down the road at other opportunities that don't exist at this time.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, what we're talking about again, is missed opportunities for Nova Scotia's energy sector. This group is prepared to pay 26,000 times more than the deal in Bear Island. I want to ask the minister, why has NSBI not contacted ConocoPhillips and Trans-Canada Pipelines regarding Bear Head and the development there?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, that member knows very clearly that the competition for LNG and the sites that are going to be available for development are very limited, and ensuring that any position and development from Nova Scotia is indeed competitive. We have to ensure that the people of the Strait area who are endorsing this project have the support of this government in the preliminary phases of any development. That member is being totally irresponsible at this time on the project for the Strait area.

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

STATUS OF WOMEN - BRYONY HOUSE:

EMERG. FUNDING - ADVOCATE

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Advisory Council on the Status of Women Act. As the minister may be aware, in May 2003, a planning report was presented to the Minister of Community Services, entitled

[Page 1223]

Enhancing and Strengthening Women's Services in Nova Scotia. To date, the minister has not formally responded to this report, leaving me to believe that it may not be high on their agenda. Last year alone, Bryony House was forced to turn away 110 women and children due to lack of resources and space. My question to the minister responsible for the status of women is, given that your government has access to a considerable amount of federal social housing money, would the minister assure this House that she will immediately begin to advocate for emergency funding to be given to Bryony House?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Yes, I have been in close contact with the council. At this point in time, those concerns have not come forward.

MS. WHALEN: I'm surprised to hear they haven't come forward, Mr. Speaker. The report from the coalition also recommended additional funding to Bryony House in the amount of $173,065 - it was very specific - to ensure that they are able to adequately provide programs. However, this government's tax scheme next year will see an additional $147 million less, available for such needed programs and services. Given the cuts that this government will no doubt have to make, my question again for the minister is, will the minister responsible for the status of women commit to ensuring that Bryony House will have the money it needs in the next fiscal year?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to refer that question to the Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question. She may have missed it here yesterday, but that question came up then. It was pointed out that when the coalition submitted in the report to the department, they asked that we respond by the Fall. We committed that we would meet that timeline.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister responsible for the status of women. This government had a chance yesterday to address the serious financial situation of the province by cancelling the tax scheme. They chose not to, and there will no doubt now be more program cuts. It is this minister's responsibility to advocate on behalf of vulnerable women and children in the province. My question to the minister is, how can the minister responsible for the status of women support the government's tax scheme when vital services for women and children remain in jeopardy?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I wish to advise the member opposite that it is a priority of this government, all the concerns of women. I do plan on representing those concerns, and at budget time I will take those back to the table.

[Page 1224]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: YOUTH MENTAL HEALTH TREATMENT CTRS. - STATUS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we've been talking about some very specific mental health issues in this House over the past few days. Autism and autism spectrum disorder are not the only mental health issues that this government needs to attend to. Many of us remember the former Minister of Health and her announcements over the Spring session. One announcement she made at the IWK in February. At that time, that minister promised two new intensive community-based mental health treatment centres for children and youth. One of these was to be housed in the VIA Rail train station, with seven professionals on the treatment team and the 12-bed facility was to open last month.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the minister is whether he can tell this House if the treatment centre for children and youth opened last month and whether or not it is now fully staffed?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge it is not yet open but we anticipate that happening relatively soon.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the facility, as I understand it, is under construction and I think it would be difficult for the minister to convince this House that those services are being delivered, services that are really needed. I would say that front-line patient care is being affected by the lack of services.

I want to focus my next question on a more specific aspect of this proposed treatment centre. Mr. Speaker, through you to the minister, will the minister tell this House whether any of the positions associated with this centre are being held up because of the IWK hiring freeze?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, to the best of my knowledge, the facility will proceed and when construction is completed, it will be operational.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, I didn't hear the minister say that it would be fully staffed. Mr. Speaker, I will table the human resources pages of the IWK's web site when it announced its hiring freeze. On this page, one of the positions is for a clinical psychologist for this proposed treatment centre and I also understand there is no psychiatrist in place for this centre either. So will the minister please admit today that his government is making badly needed front-line mental health services one of its first casualties for its budget cuts?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the plan was for that facility to proceed and it is our intention for the facility to proceed.

[Page 1225]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL HOUSING:

FED. FUNDING - EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. In September 2002, the minister's department received a generous contribution of $18.6 million from the federal government for the sole purpose of constructing affordable social housing. One project totalling $375,000 was announced in November but since then not a single social housing project has been approved. Winter is fast approaching and across this province there are countless numbers of Nova Scotians trying to survive without adequate shelter.

So my question to the minister, will he provide this House before the end of business day today a complete list of any other social housing projects completed in the 12 months between September 2002 and September 2003 and if no such projects exist, will the minister please explain what happened to the remaining $18.225 million?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question because this is something which is very much a concern of this government, a concern of mine. We're very pleased that the federal government decided to get back into social housing, they had withdrawn in 1993. The collective impact of those cuts in 1993 over time, the cumulative impact was over $1 billion. We're very pleased that they're back at the table. We're pleased that they put the $18.63 million in and we will be announcing a program shortly and we're looking forward to getting applications from the various organizations across the province.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated what the federal government put in, but he didn't indicate what the provincial government put in. So it leaves one to wonder. The Department of Community Services was also given an additional $11 million from the federal government this past April. That money, too, was earmarked for social housing, though you would never know it, when you look around the province. In fact, not one cent has been spent on providing adequate housing for the people in need. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain why, upon receipt of that additional $11 million, he chose to cut the province's share of funding for a housing program in Nova Scotia from $17.5 million to $8.9 million?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there is a lot of things that could perhaps be straightened out in the preamble to that question. The first thing that should be straightened out is that the federal government has made two announcements, one for $680 million, our share of which is the $18.63 million; they subsequently announced another $320 million, and they're still

[Page 1226]

working out the details as to how they're going to divvy that up. With regard to the province's contribution, that comes through the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation. There is an account there, and the amount that actually shows in the books depends on the amount that we draw down in that particular year.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the best part of this fiscal year is over, and the minister hasn't done anything. He hasn't done anything for the needy people of this province. It begs one to wonder if he ever will. The budget cuts that have been a fact of life for this government, and as the Minister of Finance tries to come to terms with a rapidly-growing deficit, there will undoubtedly be more hardship. My question to the minister is, will the minister provide immediate emergency funding from the largely untouched social housing program to charitable organizations, churches, shelters such as Bryony House (Interruptions) Excuse me for my lack of understanding of the word - such as are necessary to the component of the social safety net in this province? If the minister is not prepared to do that, would he please explain why not?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, actually I am glad the member opposite brought up this question, because one of the things that I do look forward to doing over the next number of months is being able to make announcements about that much-needed affordable housing for Nova Scotians. Of course it should be pointed out that while the member opposite has referred to our being given this $18.63 million, in fact it is available to us under very specific circumstances, and we have to meet those circumstances in order to draw it down.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN: CLEANUP SERV. - EXTEND

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for EMO. As we all know, Hurricane Juan played havoc with our trees. Residents of the Halifax Regional Municipality were told to put out, on the curb, their tree sections, no longer than four feet and branches no longer than eight feet, for cleanup by our crews. The crews are continuing that cleanup effort until midnight Friday. However, many people may still have more debris to contend with after the strong winds last night. My question to the minister is, can residents of HRM expect to have this cleanup service extended?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: For those details and those programs, I would suggest the honourable member contact, on behalf of her constituents, the Municipality of Halifax.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, my question is now to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Many residents who live outside the core area of HRM have many large lots with numerous trees. Some of these lots have a huge amount of trees, and some people have lost hundreds of trees on their properties. These residents have been requested and directed by the municipality, to cut up their branches and cut up these logs and place them

[Page 1227]

on the roadside. Some of these piles are gigantic. They've been putting these things out for days, weeks.

In correspondence from an HRM community response team member to a rural community, it states that they are looking for volunteers to help in this cleanup on Saturday and Sunday. It refers to the cleanup as cleaning up brush and branches only in the HRM rural areas. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, what is your department going to do to assist in the cleanup of these areas, especially in the cleanup of these large trees that are still being piled up on the side of the road?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Transportation and Public Works has been doing a tremendous job outside of the core area, picking up brush, and we're continuing on the basis that as long as the need is there we're going to cooperate and take those actions necessary to remove the debris on the sides of the roads.

MS. MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, many residents have not seen any of the DOT trucks. Residents in rural Nova Scotia pay their taxes the same as everybody else. They already had to wait longer for their electrical hookup, and now they're still waiting to see one of those nice trucks drive by their house and pick up the humongous piles of debris - I mean these are big piles. Are they going to lay there all winter for the snow to pile up on them? What's going to happen with these piles? I believe that the rural residents in Nova Scotia deserve the same kind of service that we have all over the rest of the province. My question to the minister is, when are our rural residents going to get their much-awaited cleanup? They're not seeing these trucks.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that was a long, long question and I think the short answer will be that I will provide the honourable member, tomorrow morning, with a list of the roads that we have been working on and our schedule for the next few weeks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN:

EXTENDED INS. COVERAGE - ASSISTANCE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question I would like to direct to the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. Last week, shortly after Hurricane Juan, we raised with the minister, as an example of damage done, the instance of a business located in downtown Dartmouth owned by Richard Bonner. This is a lighting business for which the roof was blown off. I'm looking now for some updated information from the minister. In this case, the building filled with water and equipment and phones were damaged. Mr. Bonner is not insured for hurricanes because he could no longer afford the extended coverage insurance. To make matters worse, he is unlikely to get one cent of disaster relief as we understood the programs last week.

[Page 1228]

Mr. Speaker, I would like to ask the Minister responsible for EMO, many Nova Scotians could not afford insurance that included special hurricane coverage. What is the current state of play about what the minister's government is going to do to help them?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Certainly, as the member described Mr. Bonner's case, if it was overland flooding, I would recommend that the honourable member recommend to Mr. Bonner, or have him contact EMO and apply at one of the service centres, because certainly overland flooding, if the conditions meet the regulations, is eligible for DFAA disaster relief.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, again using Mr. Bonner's instance as an example, the situation has since grown worse. Since the hurricane Mr. Bonner has had plastic sheeting over his roof, but during last night's storm the sheeting was blown off and his building now has even more water damage. Mr. Bonner needs a new roof. He says if he can't get help to replace his roof he will have to go out of business and he will have to declare bankruptcy. Other homes and businesses were hit hard last night because trees and buildings had been weakened by Hurricane Juan. So I would like to ask the minister, will these damages suffered last night be included under disaster relief?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, we're acutely aware certainly of the plight of a number of Nova Scotians and that is why the Province of Nova Scotia announced on Friday past that $10 million of provincial money would be dedicated to the program.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, as we all know, it's simply not good enough. Hurricane Juan is one of the worst disasters ever to hit this province. So far the government has made every attempt to absolve itself from responsibility in helping people recover in the measure that's needed. I would like to ask the minister just how many Nova Scotians is he willing to allow to go without any assistance in recovering from this disaster?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I think it's extremely important to note that EMO responded quickly. There's no question that the volunteers, staff and all the organizations involved responded well in the initial response to the hurricane. The province is the only level of government that's first off of the mark. They have put up $10 million to assist Nova Scotians damaged by the hurricane. Even though the honourable member will not acknowledge that, I certainly encourage him to contact his federal counterparts and the federal government to ask them to honour their responsibility as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - STRAIT RICHMOND HOSP.:

PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT - FAILURE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this week, much to the dismay of residents in the Strait area, the Strait Richmond emergency room will remain closed during weekdays

[Page 1229]

for an additional week. This will mark well over a month that the emergency room has been closed at the Strait Richmond Hospital, placing additional pressure on the emergency room at Saint Anne's Nursing Care Centre in Arichat and other local hospitals. Residents in the Strait area are once again left feeling neglected by this Tory Government and the Minister of Health. My question is, will the minister finally admit whether his government's attempt to find a temporary doctor for the Strait Richmond Hospital has failed, or has his department given up entirely on the health care needs of residents in the Strait area?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the search for a physician to provide for the needs of that area is very high priority of the department. We're working very closely with the DHA in order to find someone to fill that vacancy. It is a priority.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, we're hearing it's a high priority at Strait Richmond, it's a high priority for Springhill, Soldiers Memorial, Glace Bay - all high priorities, all emergency rooms that are closed. Residents are getting sick and tired in these communities around this province of hearing excuses from this minister. As much as he says it's a high priority, as we stand here today, this government continues to employ one individual who is charged with recruiting physicians to this province and finding physicians for these communities from one end of this province to the next; one person, yet the minister says it is a high priority. The health care needs of the residents of Nova Scotia deserve a better answer. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit today to working with the DHAs and make the necessary investments to ensure that this roller coaster ride of emergency room closures - especially in the Strait area - are finally brought under control?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are working on a continuous basis with the DHA to fulfill that shortage. I can tell the honourable member that it is not the responsibility of a single person, it is the responsibility of the DHAs of the community. In recent times, I was on the South Shore and saw an excellent example of the community reacting to recruit physicians in that area. It involved the MLA for the area, people from the DHA, and people from the community. That is the kind of effort all of us have to be prepared to make to ensure that the needs of our communities are met.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is blessed with volunteers who give of their time freely, who donate their time to help work toward addressing the health care needs in their communities. For the minister to say it is those individuals who bear responsibility of keeping emergency rooms open in this province is completely unacceptable. Our volunteers are doing everything they can, yet, at the end of the day, the responsibility lies with the minister. When an emergency room is closed, the person to blame for that is the Minister of Health. He bears full responsibility for the health care needs of the residents of this province, and it is unacceptable to continue to stand in this House and allow emergency rooms to remain closed. The fact that the minister is willing to sit here and see these closures continually take place, it leaves Nova Scotians questioning the priority of this government to those institutions. My final supplementary is, will the minister commit today and give his

[Page 1230]

personal guarantee that emergency room services at the Strait Richmond, Soldiers Memorial, Glace Bay and All Saints Hospital will continue to be open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, even after next Spring's budget?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it is the priority of this government to attract physicians to this province. We have been attracting more and more year after year. There are vacancies and we're working very hard to fill those vacancies. But we put additional money into health care, we put additional money into the DHAs and the money is available for them. There is a huge challenge with respect to recruitment. It will be an ongoing challenge and we're prepared to accept that challenge and work very hard at filling the vacancies.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN: WOODLOT OWNERS - ASSISTANCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question will be for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. Mr. Speaker, woodlot owners have been devastated by Hurricane Juan. Earle Tanner of Hardwood Lands was named woodlot owner of the year a couple of years ago for the central region and his woodlot was a showcase in this province. Eighty per cent of his woodlot was destroyed by Hurricane Juan, small woodlot owners and maple syrup operations in this province are now in a tragic position and have heard little from this government. My question to the minister is, what specific steps are you going to take to help these woodlot owners?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as we announced last Friday, we put up $10 million and one of the conditions on that $10 million was an expanded DFAA disaster program that would address some of the needs of the commercial livestock or agriculture industry, the commercial fishing industry, as well as woodlot owners affected by damage from Hurricane Juan.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister also said in his statement that he would come back this week with specifics for those individuals and he hasn't done that yet.

Mr. Speaker, for many small woodlot owners, their woodlot was the only long-term security they had. They used their woodlots as a pension plan, harvesting what they needed and receiving small proceeds every year. Now they're forced to harvest everything that fell immediately. This will throw them into a higher tax bracket, eliminating their long-term security. Both the provincial and federal governments stand to profit from Hurricane Juan through taxes on these woodlot owners. So my question to the Minister of Finance, will you

[Page 1231]

provide tax relief for small woodlot owners in this province so that they can secure the proceeds from their woodlots?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for EMO has indicated some of the plans that are available. Specifically, I can give him the question and he can finalize it. But we'll follow the recommendations of the Minister responsible for EMO as he encompasses all of the different areas across this province that need support.

MR. MACDONELL: Well, Mr. Speaker, if the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization has recommendations, he didn't give us any in his answer to the last question. Small woodlot owners like Earle Tanner desperately need tax relief from this government. This is not a time for government to profit on the most negatively affected by Hurricane Juan but it is a time to help. Since decoupling from the federal tax system, the province has some flexibility in this regard. So my question to the Minister of Finance is, what will it take for your government to do the right thing and provide tax relief for small woodlot owners?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'll let the Minister responsible for EMO elaborate on his plans.

MR. FAGE: As I answered to the previous question, we have an expanded DFAA program that we've offered to the federal government, we put cash forward. But I would recommend to the honourable member, the federal government bears a huge amount of responsibility in helping out affected woodlot owners or farmers or fishermen in Nova Scotia with this disaster, with the hurricane. I would certainly urge the honourable member to ask his federal Party Leader, who came a little late to view the results, to lobby the federal government as well and raise the issue in the federal House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ENERGY - STRAIT AREA (BEAR HEAD): LAND SALE - EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, business leaders and residents are very excited in the Strait area at the proposed LNG and marine storage facility anticipated for Bear Head in Richmond County. Municipal officials, local MLAs, union reps, have all echoed strong support for this project. Yet, today, residents in the Strait area are left scratching their heads after learning that a similar proposal for Harpswell, Maine, will see that community earn up to $400 million U.S. for leasing out land for a similar LNG plant. So my question to the Minister of Energy is, could he explain to us and to the residents in the Strait area why his government has chosen to sell 64 hectares of land at Bear Head for just $2 million Cdn.?

AN HON. MEMBER: There's an echo in here, isn't there?

[Page 1232]

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, obviously there is an echo in the Chamber today, of questions. However, it gives me an opportunity to reiterate the realities of LNG activity, and aside from the site in Maine there are other proposed developments within the Boston-New York area. That competition is very fierce and severe. The actual access to sites in the United States is much different than land that's available here and, indeed, the people of the Strait area are looking for those types of opportunities. That project in question is very much in the preliminary stages and we're trying to ensure economic viability and success of an LNG facility here in Nova Scotia, and to do anything else with regard to what's happening in the United States. Those companies are not here in Canada and the one company that is here in Canada, we need to give them the benefit of the doubt and support them in their efforts at this time.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this comes down simply to a question that residents want to know if they are getting a good deal in value for money here. It's also very important to realize that this is prime land for industrial development. The project calls for 17 hectares of land, yet the government is now looking at selling 64 hectares of land at Bear Head for this project.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, we know that the project itself is a proposal which they expect to last for a 20-year period. My question to the minister is, has his government put in the necessary protection to maximize land use in Bear Head and possibly include an option to buy back the land after the 20-year project date?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the government is very concerned, and also with regard to the types of developments that happen in the area. But to the member's comment about the significance of this, when you consider a project to be in excess of $0.5 billion, that would ensure that key investment would be made, that a strategic positioning with regard to other oil and gas initiatives would be there. We have responded with regard to access to that land, and specifics to the land situation would be referred to the Minister of Economic Development for NSBI.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: The member certainly asks, I think, a very reasonable question and the Minister of Energy has pointed out that this is a significant development with major spinoffs for the area of Nova Scotia in employment through the development phase, as well as the operating phase, but in the long term of the gas and oil industry, members across the floor have urged this government to do anything they can to support projects that help promote other related gas and oil industries. This piece, if it's successful, is critical to the development on a fast-track basis, here in Nova Scotia.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased the minister did point out it was a reasonable question, because the residents of the Strait area I think have been exemplary in how they have treated this project proposal, in everyone coming to work together in supporting it - from the chamber of commerce to municipal officials and everyone else. Yet

[Page 1233]

when you see a news story today, like what we have seen in The Chronicle-Herald, one has to expect that residents are going to have some concern. We do realize that transporting the gas down to the U.S. is not just a few miles away, it requires a pipeline and additional costs.

The question to the Minister of Energy is, in light of the information that residents have read today about the proposal in Maine, is it the position of your department and your government that the project being proposed at Bear Head is a good deal for the residents of the Strait area and a good deal for the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I would hope that the member from that area would recognize that any project in its up-front development stage that would put $0.5 billion into his constituency would be a good deal for any project or any constituency in the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

COMMUN. SERV. - ADOPTION RECORDS:

ACCESS - LEADERSHIP EXHIBIT

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Adoption disclosure legislation has sat on the back burner in Nova Scotia for nearly four years. Adoptees have fought long and hard for improved access to birth records, going as far as pleading their case before the United Nations. The United Nations has recognized the basic human right of knowing one's birth identity, roots and medical history. While this issue has remained unaddressed by this Nova Scotia Government, adoptees searching for identifying information must wait three years. This is unnecessary, unacceptable and is unfair. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why is your government refusing to show some leadership in finding a solution to this issue?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for bringing up this point again today. I think leadership means going out and listening to Nova Scotians, hearing what they have to say. In fact, that was done in 1999 and it's been done since then. What they have to say to us is that there is no consensus in this province as to what people want in terms of adoption disclosure. But we do recognize that times are changing and we have changed our practices within the department in anticipation of the time when Nova Scotians send us a message that they want open adoption disclosure.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I think there might have been some sensitivity around the issue of unwanted contact, but I think the majority of Nova Scotians made clear in that consultation and during the committee discussions that access to much-needed information wasn't in question. The parents and children in Nova Scotia searching for information are frustrated, not only did they watch as the legislation withered and died on the floor of this House and in committees, but the present system is a nightmare. Staff at Community

[Page 1234]

Services need more resources to address the backlog to at least alleviate the problem. My question to the minister is, what assurances can you offer adoptees and parents that this backlog will be addressed?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right. There was a backlog that was created when we started giving out the information free of charge. We're pleased that people care about getting their adoption records and in that regard we have put another staff member in place exclusively to deal with backlog. Thank you.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is one of the provinces that was criticized by the UN committee on the rights of the child because it doesn't meet the minimal standards of the UN Charter on the Rights of the Child. This problem cannot be and will not be solved by rhetoric and empty promises and small increases in staff. I ask the minister, children and parents are waiting for action - when will they get an issue on the broader question of access and timely access to this information?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's very clear that we're going to continue to try to represent Nova Scotians' wishes as best we can as a government. We'll continue to do that. I personally look forward to the day when, perhaps, open adoption records are acceptable to the majority of Nova Scotians. But, I think that we should speak to the success of this - 97 per cent of the searches are successful and in 80 per cent of those cases, the birth parents agree to contact with the adult adoptee. I think that speaks for itself.

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

EMO - HURRICANE JUAN: GOV'T. PRACTICES - REVIEW

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, it's incumbent on all levels of government to ensure that everything that could have been done, was done. I note with some interest that out of concern or caution the URB has made the decision to review the practices and procedures of Nova Scotia Power. My question for the Premier is, out of an abundance of caution perhaps, would he agree that similarly a review of the practices and procedures of the government departments and agencies surrounding Hurricane Juan would be a prudent step at this time?

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, two things, I think it's important to note, it is normal practice that URB examines, within two weeks, Nova Scotia Power's performance. I think that's a good thing, and certainly Nova Scotians will be interested to see their findings. As well, the Emergency Measures Organization does, after every crisis, a thorough debriefing with all the individuals and organizations involved. We will be making that public once it's completed.

[Page 1235]

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, this is an issue of leadership for the Premier. The question was to the Premier about whether or not he was prepared to do some kind of a review. It is our duty to do whatever we can to protect the lives of Nova Scotians. Will you do that and do a review, sir?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure . . .

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

SPEAKER'S RULING: Signature requirement on tabled letters and e-mails. (Pt. of order by Mr. Russell MacKinnon [Hansard p. 1069, 10/14/03])

MR. SPEAKER: Just before we move on to Government Business, I would like to provide, for the House, a ruling in regard to an issue that was brought before the House on Tuesday by the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

On Tuesday, October 14, 2003, at the end of Question Period, the honourable member for Cape Breton West rose on a point of order. The issue that the honourable member brought the House was in regard to a letter that was tabled by the honourable member for Halifax Fairview. The honourable member for Cape Breton West cited Section 498(1) in Beauchesne which states, "an unsigned letter should not be read in the House." He also further quoted Section 498(3) which states, "when quoting a letter in the House, a member must be willing to either give the name of the author, or to take full responsibility for the contents."

The honourable House Leader for the Official Opposition stated that although the rules in Beauchesne state one thing, he felt that what has become a custom in this House over the last number of years should be adhered to. The honourable House Leader for the government stated that in many cases a document itself is restricted by the person who has provided it to the member, and if it is not signed, as in this particular case, it becomes a worthless document and it can't be used.

Historically in Parliaments, only ministers were able to table documents in the House. In some jurisdictions the rules remain strict in that regard, but in others, such as ours here in Nova Scotia, practices have changed and private members can table some documents in the course of debate. I have looked at past rulings on this issue in this House and in other jurisdictions and have concluded that even in those jurisdictions that are more permissive about what can be tabled, the practice is that unsigned or unattributed documents should not be put before the House.

[Page 1236]

I refer to a ruling by a former Speaker on November 15, 1993. A member wanted to read from a letter and eliminate the identity of the person who wrote it. The Speaker interceded and stated that the reading of an anonymous letter is out of order, according to Beauchesne. He further stated that an unsigned letter should not be read in the House.

In that particular case, the letter was signed and was tabled with the signature, and therefore was allowed. This is the first time I have had to rule in regard to a letter that has been brought before the House which is being tabled, and whether or not it is in order. The rules of Beauchesne state quite clearly that an unsigned letter should not be read in the House and, in fact, a member must be willing to give the name of the author, or to take full responsibility for the contents, if quoting from that letter. The letter that has been tabled in this House at this time has not been signed and, in fact, it appears that the information that would reveal the author has been omitted. Any document that is not tabled in its entirety is incomplete and therefore out of order.

It is my ruling that the member who has tabled this document has to table to the House the letter in its full content, clearly indicating the author with their signature, or the letter will be withdrawn. In this particular case, the honourable member did not read directly from the letter. If he did, he would have to be willing to give the name of the author for the record or, again, to take full responsibility for the contents. In future - and I would ask all honourable members to pay heed to this, please - any member who is going to table or read a letter or quote from a letter should first announce that it is, in fact, signed by the author.

A further issue that arises out of this point of order being brought to the House is that of electronic communication, or e-mails, which make up a great percentage of the correspondence between individuals today. MLAs will receive, on a regular basis, e-mails from constituents bringing forward issues and concerns. These e-mails, like other forms of correspondence, will make their way to this Legislature and, ultimately, will be tabled by MLAs. I will be requesting that all members of this House, when attempting to read from e-mails and/or table these forms of communication, that they first ensure that the name of the author is on the e-mail and that the MLA is prepared to disclose the identity of the author and to take full responsibility of the contents, before it is tabled in this House. Copies of this ruling are available for any members who wish to review it or take charge of it.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 1237]

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I move third reading of Bill No. 7.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 7.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 8 - Volunteer Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I move third reading of Bill No. 8.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I just want to briefly say that this is a minor change to the legislation to allow for costs, at solicitor and client rates, for a volunteer who has been sued. That's a noble amendment, we don't have a problem with that.

I would just like to reiterate on the record once again that this government has not done very much to educate the public, particularly volunteers as to their rights and now that this legislation has been passed for some time, clearly, if it is meant to help organizations, volunteer organizations, seek more volunteers that also must include an educational

[Page 1238]

component to ensure that that is part of it as well. Having said that, we will be supporting this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 8.

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

The motion is carried.

Ordered that this bill do pass. Ordered that the title be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bill be engrossed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 10 - Municipal Elections Act.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of these bills. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motions are carried.

Ordered that these bills do pass. Ordered that the titles be as read by the Clerk. Ordered that the bills be engrossed.

MR. SPEAKER: 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.

[Page 1239]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand before the House today to respond to the Speech from the Throne on behalf of the people of Annapolis. I am humbled and honoured to have been elected to represent the people of Annapolis in the Nova Scotia Legislature. I understand that this privilege brings great responsibility and I intend to serve my constituents to the best of my ability.

To Premier Hamm and Opposition Leader Darrell Dexter and their respective teams, I extend my congratulations. The people of this province have given us their trust and I look forward to working with all of you to build a stronger Nova Scotia for this and future generations.

I would like to say to my Leader, Danny Graham, and my fellow caucus members that I feel as if I am back in my basketball playing days - sorry, maybe I should say hockey, as I'm not sure that we have the height for basketball. I'm confident that this team, under Danny's leadership, will remain united in our dedication to serve the people of Nova Scotia. Like any good team, we'll press our opponents and force them to stick to their game plan and meet the commitments that they promised Nova Scotians.

To the people of Annapolis, I want to thank you for this privilege. I want to pay special thanks to the wonderful people who worked tirelessly on my behalf. Your energy and commitment is second to none. To my wife, Andrea, our children Colleen and Jeffrey and our considerable extended family, thank you for joining me on this journey. To the many constituents who I visited during the recent election campaign, I heard your concerns. I understand that you are tired of not being heard by this government. You have given me the honour of being your voice in the Legislature and I intend to make sure that this government hears the voices of the people of Annapolis.

Mr. Speaker, I listened to the Speech from the Throne with great interest. I wanted to hear the commitments that this government was making to the people of Nova Scotia and, indirectly, to the people of Annapolis. I would have to say that I was disappointed, and particularly, I was disappointed that the rural economy was ignored. Farming, fishing, forestry and tourism are the pillars of the Nova Scotia economy and my riding is no different. The people who work in these industries are strong, hard-working and resilient and deserve some attention from this government.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to take a moment to address an issue of concern for many of my constituents. This government needs to join me in supporting an owner/operator and fleet separation program for the lobster fishery. An owner/operator and fleet separation program will ensure that money earned in these boats stays in the communities instead of going to a corporate head office with very little benefit to the local community.

[Page 1240]

The recent Open Farm Days gave me an opportunity to visit some of the farms in my riding. The people of Annapolis are proud of their nationwide recognition for their apples, but they also want the government to know that agriculture is a diverse resource in our riding - dairy, beef, turkey, vegetables, grain, cranberries, to name but a few. In Lawrencetown, each year the Annapolis County Exhibition showcases art, crafts and agriculture from the area. This year, for the first time, Lawrencetown played host to the highly successful Nova Scotia 4-H provincial show.

I do applaud this government's statement that it will take steps to ensure immediate assistance for our beef and cattle farmers who are dealing with the after-effects of the mad cow scare. I am not sure, however, of this government's definition of immediate. Our farmers have been dealing with drought, flood and BSE for over a year and this government has done little to nothing to help them.

Mr. Speaker, I also listened to this speech to understand this government's commitment to arts and culture. It appears as if this government has forgotten that the unique, vibrant culture of Nova Scotia is what draws many tourists to our province and injects much-needed money to our economy. In Annapolis, there are many examples of people working to celebrate our culture and it fee as if this government has been asleep at the tourism wheel. If the Tourism Minister spent some time in Annapolis, he would see many examples of people building a future by respecting our past. He could visit the Annapolis Valley Macdonald Museum, the Memory Lane Railroad Museum in Middleton, to see facilities quietly generating economic growth for this region.

A little further down the road, the people of Annapolis Royal and region recognize their privilege to live in Canada's birthplace. They have complemented their heritage sites with cultural experiences of King's Theatre and the Arts Council to name but a few. In Annapolis Royal they've been working for many years to commemorate the 400th Anniversary of the settlement of Port Royal. As a young student, my teacher took my classmates and me to Port Royal so that we could experience the life as our first European settlers did. The 400th Society wants 2005 to be a year of celebration of French culture, commerce and colonization. They plan to celebrate the music, art, theatre and culture of not only the Acadians, but the Mi'kmaq and African American settlers of this region as well.

This celebration is a mere 15 months away and it is time for this government to step up to the plate and put funding in place so that the 400th Society can hire a full-time coordinator to capitalize on this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. But, Mr. Speaker, the single biggest threat to tourism in my riding is the condition of the highways. I challenge this government to adopt a Liberal campaign promise and to put all gasoline tax into highways.

The people of Annapolis would also like me to add our voices to the education discussion. On behalf of the people of Annapolis, I support any initiative to reduce class sizes, provide additional support for special needs students, and establish a Healthy Starts

[Page 1241]

program for pre-school children. Mr. Speaker, for too long education has been ignored in my riding. Appreciation and credit should be given to the men and women who look after our schools as they have done a superb job in maintaining our school buildings; in spite of their best efforts, however, age is taking its toll on our schools. When this government went on a spending spree last Spring, there was no mention of Annapolis.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the people of Annapolis have asked me to remind this government of two outstanding educational projects in the riding. Long before my children were young students at Bridgetown Regional Elementary School, it was first decided that their school needed some capital investment to build a new gymnasium and cafeteria. The school board considers this project a priority, but it continues to be put on the back burner. My daughter is now in junior high school and my son will soon follow. Will they be high school graduates before Bridgetown Regional Elementary School gets its new gymnasium and cafeteria?

Mr. Speaker, I personally support a proposal to build a new gymnasium at Middleton Regional High School, which will move the music class into the multi-purpose room. The acoustics in the current music room are so bad, it's causing concerns for the health and safety of the music teacher. This proposal has been approved in principle by the school board, but what is needed is government support. One of the interesting aspects of this $1.8 million proposal is that the communities will raise half the monies. I should repeat that, the communities will raise half the monies. I congratulate the people of the area for this initiative and challenge the government to support their ingenuity by contributing their share to this necessary project.

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased to hear this government acknowledge that health care is the number one concern of Nova Scotians. I can say that the people of Annapolis want this government to understand that health care must be their number one priority, a priority this government has ignored for too long. The people of Annapolis applaud their health care providers. These men and women have worked tirelessly and face continued cuts at both Soldiers Memorial Hospital and the Annapolis Community Health Centre. When our communities protested, this government's answer was to put a $2 parking toll at these facilities, with none of the revenue generated being returned to Annapolis.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Annapolis have asked me to remind this government that rural Nova Scotia deserves their share of health care funding. The people of Annapolis deserve access to faster diagnosis and better treatment. Seniors in Annapolis have asked for the right to remain in their homes as long as possible, and they want, no, they deserve accessible medical resources in their region. The people of Annapolis are pleased to hear that this government is committed to introducing legislation that will provide Nova Scotians caring for a family member in the last stages of life immediate access to benefits that will allow them to take time off work.

[Page 1242]

I was also pleased to hear this government speak of a lifestyle choice to support healthy living. I fully support this thinking, but encourage the government to embrace a Liberal campaign promise and commit 10 per cent of lottery tax revenue into sport and recreation programs and facilities.

On behalf of the people of Annapolis, I would like to add to this government's acknowledgement of the men and women who serve in the Canadian Armed Forces. Too often we take for granted the personal sacrifices of our service men and women and their families. In Annapolis we are proud of our friends, neighbours and family members who serve this country.

Madam Speaker, in closing, I would like to express, again, the pride I take in standing before you as the representative for the people of Annapolis. I am humbled by their confidence in me, and I look forward to working together with my constituents and my fellow representatives to build a stronger and vibrant Annapolis and a strong and vibrant Nova Scotia. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Madam Speaker, it is a real honour to rise today to reply to the Speech from the Throne. It is quite humbling to stand in this place for the first time in this historic Chamber and to think about the people who occupied this place before us, people like Sir Charles Tupper, Sir John Thompson and Robert Stanfield. I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate all members on their election to the Legislature. I believe this minority government gives us a unique opportunity to work together to make a better Nova Scotia. I know that every member of the Legislature shares this common goal of making Nova Scotia an even better place to live, work and raise a family.

I would also like to recognize the candidates from all Parties who were not successful in their election bids. I hope they continue to serve their communities. I know all members appreciate the hard work and dedication those candidates demonstrated in the weeks leading up to August 5th.

It was a great summer to have a campaign office overlooking the LaHave River. We had the perfect spot just off to one side of the bridge. I know I would not have been successful in getting elected had it not been for the great number of hard-working people. I cannot say enough about the people who volunteered. The headquarters was humming morning, noon and night - young and the not-so-young gathered as we discussed the issues of the day. It reminded me of the pictures of yesteryear showing the gathering of friends around a pot-bellied stove.

[Page 1243]

Among those volunteers, I'd like to single out my mother, Reta Bolivar, who daily was on the campaign trail, whether she was on the road with me or in campaign headquarters volunteering, running errands, doing whatever needed to be done. Then there was my cousin, Reverend Leo Conrad who flew home from Alberta for a two week working vacation. His dedication and support was overwhelming. He spent day after day at campaign headquarters, keeping me on track and reassuring me that things were all going good. Leo, at this time, I would like to say thank you and hopefully your next visit to the South Shore will be more of an enjoyable one on your part, although I know that you said you enjoyed it, I think you would rather have been looking at more of the sights that we have here on the South Shore.

I'd also like to mention Helen Fairbanks, 82 years young. As keen and excited as any campaign supporter at a fraction of her age, Helen would meet me at campaign headquarters, be raring to go, and at 9:00 p.m. she'd be saying, do we have to stop now? Helen walked many miles in rain and in shine.

Then there were people like Melba, Phyllis, Helen, Don, Madeline, Wendy and Bill who volunteered for just about anything. These people represent the best qualities within all Nova Scotians - caring and giving individuals.

I would be remiss if I did not take a moment to thank my family - my husband Brian; my children, Ryan, 12; Kelsey, 11 and Conrad, 8; my brothers, Bernie, Barry and Wayne; my sisters, Shelley, Wendy, and Marianne and their families for their continued love and support throughout the campaign. As I embarked on a new chapter of my life, I certainly could not have done it without their support.

My campaign team was second to none who spent numerous hours organizing my schedule and my entire campaign. I would like to thank Brent Silver, my campaign manager, for putting up with me. I'm not used to being told what to do, especially by a man, but at the end of the day we left as friends and I can still see him standing there shaking his head - you're used to doing things your way, aren't you? To my office manager, Tom Bird, who kept me organized to achieve my mandate of knocking on every door in my constituency, I would like to thank him. I would also like to thank Tom for accepting the position of EA and I look forward to a continued, good working relationship.

My official agent, Jeff Sabean and Bob Selig who worked vigorously to assure that the financial means was there to run a successful campaign. Again, the Lunenburg West PC Association and the Lunenburg West PC Women's Association need to be commended for being one of the strongest organizations in the province. My success was dependent on all these people who went out of their way to make this campaign successful.

My sisters, Wendy and Shelley, really need to be thanked along with the float team they put together to have one of the most beautiful floats in the South Shore-Bridgewater parade. I would like to thank the MLAs who participated - Michael Baker, John Chataway

[Page 1244]

and Kerry Morash. One of my favourite memories from the campaign was the day the South Shore Exhibition Parade passed by the campaign headquarters. I was very pleased to be riding on this float with friends and thoroughly enjoyed the ride along King Street. Farmers, businesses and individual residents from all walks of life participated. Seeing the bright eyes and smiling faces on hundreds of children was enough reward in itself.

As you know, Madam Speaker, the beautiful LaHave Valley, the "Banana Belt" of Nova Scotia, is often referred to as the Rhine of Nova Scotia, thanks to its temperate climate and successful farms. The constituency of Lunenburg West comprises excellent farmland, forests and Christmas tree land, as well as a fishing industry. We have many lakes, parks, rolling hills, communities - one of which I reside, the beautiful community of Bakers Settlement, probably known to very few of you here . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I know where that is.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: . . . well, I'm glad to hear that - and quaint villages, as well as the Town of Bridgewater. There is no record of an event or point of reference as to how this community was named. It is located at the head of navigation at a point where a bridge was erected across the river. It is deduced that the community got its name from being the place where the water was bridged.

At least five bridges have spanned the LaHave River at Bridgewater. DesBrisay reports the first bridge being built in 1825. In 1845 a drawbridge was constructed. Even though there were shipyards upriver from the bridge, it is alleged that the bridge was never raised. In 1869 the bridge was replaced with another wooden bridge. Late in 1891, the first iron bridge was constructed along the north end of the wooden bridge. Although repaired in 1971 when ice took out the east section, that bridge lasted 100 years and was still in use in 1999. The Veterans Memorial Bridge, a concrete structure, was constructed upriver from the old bridge in 1985.

Three centuries of European settlement in Bridgewater preceded by nearly 60 centuries of Mi'kmaq settlement on the banks of the LaHave River, Bridgewater, located a protected 15 miles inland, was an ideal settlement location. The numerous streams in the area provided ample power for the operation of industrial mills to harvest the hemlock and pine.

Madam Speaker, the first house on record on the west side was built by Ralph Hotchkiss in 1812 at the site of the corner of King and Phoenix Streets. The oldest home still standing in Bridgewater is the Ramey House on the east side, perhaps built before the turn of the 19th Century. Even then these two emerging settlements were not joined by a bridge until 1825.

[Page 1245]

The Confederation period saw the settlement at Bridgewater develop schools, industries, newspapers and a fire brigade. Before the turn of the 20th Century, the town was being serviced by a regular stagecoach, steamship, a railroad centre and a board of trade. In January 1900, this growth was dealt a blow by the "big fire", which completely destroyed the downtown area. One month later, the community came together as an incorporated town. Five months later a new streetscape greeted visitors to downtown Bridgewater.

After the First World War the growth of industry, automobiles, pavement and public transit made Bridgewater a town in which many people of today would feel at home. After the Second World War, our town developed improved recreational facilities, including hockey, figure skating, tennis, curling, golf and baseball. A new park, home to new facilities for the DesBrisay Museum, added to the quality of life for residents and visitors alike. Members who would like to learn more about Bridgewater and the area should visit the DesBrisay Museum. Museum exhibits feature the natural history, early settlement, cultural and industrial growth of Bridgewater and Lunenburg County from the early 17th Century. The museum also has an exhibit centre which hosts temporary and travelling exhibitions.

Important pieces in the collection include a Turnwrest plow made in Lunenburg County about 1800 after a design that was brought here from central Europe. There is a also a decorated cradle with porcupine quill and birchbark panels made at Mahone Bay about 1868. The museum is surrounded by the Bridgewater Woodland Gardens, featuring walking trails and picnic areas. I am proud that this government showed its support for this wonderful link to our past with a significant investment through the community museum funding program this year.

Lunenburg West is home to the Michelin Tire plant and is known as the Christmas Tree Capital of the World - Christmas trees that are perfect for export and that find their way into homes around the world every holiday season.

[2:00 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, I am happy to report that the economy of Lunenburg West is quite vibrant and dynamic. Housing starts in both the District of Lunenburg and the Town of Bridgewater are strong and building permits in the first four months of this year in the District of Lunenburg exceeded $12 million - a record-breaking achievement. Commercial growth in our area is also strong. There is a major renewal at the Bridgewater Mall as a new-concept Sobeys is now under construction and the former grocery store will be renovated into several theatres. Being able to go to the movies in our hometown again will be welcomed by all my constituents. Several other new businesses, like two new flooring stores, have opened this year in Bridgewater and several new business and apartment condominium developments are currently in the development agreement or planning approval process.

[Page 1246]

All these developments will add to the local economy immediately through construction jobs and later through new housing or employment opportunities in the community. Likewise, the commercial and business sector is very active in the District of Lunenburg. A new freight terminal was recently opened in Wileville, employing some 30 employees. A major new shopping complex has recently been announced for a site near interchange 12 off Highway No. 103. The first major tenant, Wal-Mart, is planning to open its doors next Fall. The new shopping complex will be a major shot in the arm to employment and to shopping in the community for much of the South Shore. When completed, this new complex will provide some 285,000 square feet of retail, service and food vendors and will employ around 500 people. I must say that this kind of confidence the participants in this project are showing in our area can be traced back to the economic environment created by balanced budgets and increased credit rating fostered by this government.

Madam Speaker, the District of Lunenburg, the Town of Bridgewater and the South Shore Exhibition have recently announced a joint committee to study development of a new arena and community centre facility. In addition to serving traditional ice surface sports and users, such as hockey and figure skating, the centre hopefully can host entertainment shows, or concerts, trade shows, and small conferences, as well as providing vital show ring and display venues for the South Shore Exhibition. A community meeting is underway on October 22nd, organized by the community, to have input into exactly what they are looking for in this facility. Replacing aging arena facilities with a vision to community needs for the next several decades is critical. Such a facility is critical to maintaining and enhancing community needs for recreation and exhibition space as well as the needs for both urban and rural constituents.

The current tripartite approach is a testament to the unity of all segments of the community to realize a community goal and a wide range of community needs. I certainly tip my hat to all those who are working so hard to bring this facility to our community and I will continue to work with these people in the near future. The District of Lunenburg is also completing a very comprehensive review of all existing open-spaced property and identifying and prioritizing sites across their municipality for development. Preservation of public access to shoreline and waterfront property and to ocean and freshwater bodies will currently be a prime goal for this initiative.

Madam Speaker, like all Nova Scotians, the people of Lunenburg West want the best for their children and believe a good education is the foundation for a successful future. Our excellent school facilities include Parkview Education Centre, Hebbville Middle School, Bridgewater Elementary, Bridgewater Junior High and Bridgewater High School, Newcombville, Pentz and New Germany Elementary, and New Germany Junior-Senior High. Because they know that parents care so much about their children's education, the South Shore District School Board is holding community education forums to gather the opinions of parents and community members about the quality of public education.

[Page 1247]

Madam Speaker, although there are many wonderful programs available at the South Shore District School Board level, I would like to draw the members' attention to one in particular, the Middle Level Transition Program. The district school board opened a Middle Level Transition Program in September. The program was made possible through funds provided by the Department of Education in its Learning for Life initiative. The program was developed to focus on the needs of Grades 7 to 9 students who are unable to attend regular school because of serious social or emotional issues, which, after appropriate interventions have been tried, are not able to be managed in the regular school setting.

The main focus of this program is to assist the student in acquiring some life skills training, which will enable them to return to the regular school setting. Students are also expected to follow an academic course of studies, which parallels, as much as possible, the academic program that they would be following in a regular classroom setting. Participation in this transitional school program is short-term intervention, which aims at returning students to regular school as soon as possible. Madam Speaker, I think we can all agree that programs like the Middle Level Transition Program are helping to ensure that our future generations will be prepared to take their place in society.

Recently, Madam Speaker, Bridgewater High School received notification that six of their advanced placement students have been named scholars with distinction by the college board. These students, scholars Melanie Marlin, Anna Sampson, Michael Smith, Owen Thomas, and scholars with distinction Genny Breau and Matthew Cooper, all took rigorous advanced placement courses in Grade 12. These advanced placement courses currently offered in 63 countries worldwide were developed by the college board to provide challenging university-level courses to high school students.

In order to be named a scholar, students must have grades of three or more on a five point scale in three or more exams. Scholars with distinction must have an average grade of 3.5 on all exams taken, and grades of three or higher on five or more of these exams. I know all members join me and the staff and students of Bridgewater High School in congratulating Melanie, Anna, Michael, Owen, Genny and Matthew on their impressive academic accomplishments.

Madam Speaker, in Lunenburg West, we are also fortunate to have the Lunenburg campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, which helps to take our students to the next level. The college also helps develop needed skills for individuals and businesses. Last Spring, our community was delighted when the government announced more than $1 million in funding for improvements to the Lunenburg campus. The funding will upgrade the shop facilities and create for some 187 additional students.

Madam Speaker, as we all know, skilled workers are the key to Nova Scotia's prosperity. These improvements to the Lunenburg campus will allow more students to stay in the area while completing the training they need to get ready for the workplace. This

[Page 1248]

wonderful improvement is part of the province's $123 million investment in the Nova Scotia Community College expansion plan. Over the next seven years, 2,500 additional students, an increase of 25 per cent, will enter Nova Scotia Community College at its campuses across this province.

Madam Speaker, health care is the number one concern of Nova Scotians and the people of Lunenburg West. We are so fortunate to have an excellent hospital in the South Shore Regional. The front-line care providers, the nurses, the doctors, technicians and all the staff, deserve great credit for their tireless dedication and selflessness. Despite the many challenges associated with health care, there have been some expansion of services at the South Shore Regional. A recent first for the hospital is the insertion of three permanent pacemakers. The increased budget at the South Shore is expected to help with cancer care, dialysis, nursing services and many other issues related particularly to our aging population.

Highlights of the new health initiatives include Nova Scotia's cancer patient navigation system, unique in Canada. It guides cancer patients and their families through a complicated system, reducing stress and improving treatment. Last Spring, this government announced funding in the amount of $900,000 to support construction of a women's and children's health centre at the South Shore Regional Hospital. This funding is part of the Department of Health's $10 million allocation for hospital repairs province wide. The $10 million represents an increase from the $3.8 million available for hospital repairs in 2002-03. This sort of community investment in women and children will have a lasting positive impact throughout our region. We look forward to the opening of this wonderful facility in the Spring.

We want to take this opportunity to recognize the hard work of a very important segment of our population. It's often said that volunteers are the backbone to Nova Scotia's tight-knit, strong communities. Volunteers are often nameless, but they are always appreciated. They are the special people in our community who give so much of themselves and expect nothing in return. Our district health board is made up of volunteers who dedicate a great deal of time to the very difficult task of providing health services to their friends, neighbours and their community.

We also have volunteers who are in the business of raising funds to support health care - the South Shore Regional Foundation and the South Shore Regional Hospital Auxiliary. Without these generous fundraisers, health care in our community would be very difficult. We owe them a great deal of gratitude. The hospital auxiliary has been providing this kind of support since 1920. Through the auxiliary and its co-ordinator, Joan Eisnor, there are 114 volunteers working in 32 different programs at the South Shore Regional Hospital. The Daisy and the Gift Shop, as well as the Shoreline Art Gallery, are fundraising arms of the auxiliary. What a terrific contribution to our communities. Last year alone, the Daisy and the Gift Shop raised over $190,000. (Applause)

[Page 1249]

Madam Speaker, it is truly an honour for me to represent the wonderful people of Lunenburg West in this historic place. I am truly grateful for the attention you and all the members have shown as I told the House a little bit more about Lunenburg West and the people I represent. Thank you Lunenburg West for giving me the opportunity to represent you - I look forward to this opportunity and I will work hard with you. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Madam Speaker, I am also honoured and privileged today to rise in this House and to be an elected official in the provincial Legislature. I know it takes a lot of work and a lot of dedication from family and friends to get here and I'm very pleased and honoured to be here. It was a hot summer election which was actually pretty good because it was good for the weight loss for myself, but I enjoyed it. I had a lot of fun with it.

The riding of Cape Breton Nova started in 1956 and was represented by a member from 1956 to 1970 and from 1970 to 2003 it was represented by another member of the Legislature. So, I'm actually the third member to represent the riding, the third in over 50 years. We've had some good leadership over the years and things have kind of changed since then, but I'll go on and talk to you about how thankful I am for my election team and my family who helped me get here where I am today.

My wife, Susan; my son, Gordie; and my son, Daniel; my mother, Enid and my brother Bill, Lorway and Harold and how hard they worked to get me to where I am today. It was a very close election, very exciting on election night. Things have sure changed in my life, being executive director of a youth centre for the past 10 years and working with youth at risk and helping youth with the many problems of today. I come here thinking that I will do something more for the riding and for the youth in the riding, particularly the youth in Cape Breton and in Nova Scotia.

Madam Speaker, my campaign team and my campaign manager, Phillip Best and Bernie Jessome and Alex MacIsaac and George Babineau and Jon Yipp and John Evans - those people worked so hard everyday. Anne Peters and Elena McGuigan - those are people that I was very close to and I'm very honoured that they helped me to get here today.

[2:15 p.m.]

But, let's talk about the riding of Cape Breton Nova. It's the most ethnically diverse riding in Atlantic Canada, bar none. A lot of people went there from all over - the Slavic countries in the early 1900s - to build Sydney Steel and the coal mines. The industry was the brainchild of W.H. Whitney. In 1899, he ran the coalfields in Cape Breton, and decided with all the natural resources that were there he was going to open Sydney Steel. Actually, in 1901, Sydney Steel poured its first heat - that's a very good subject for me because I am also

[Page 1250]

a third-generation steelworker. My grandfather was a steelworker, my father was a steelworker, and I was a steelworker for 18 years. I do know the industry quite well, and I know what happened to the industry.

I'm not going to dwell on the past, I am here for the future; I am here for the community right now, as it stands today. I noticed in the Throne Speech - and I will look at the Throne Speech, I don't have to table this, I hope, Madam Speaker, " . . . we will develop and implement a long-term strategy to help sustain and support struggling communities - a strategy that will be guided by input from Nova Scotians . . ." Well, I am one of those Nova Scotians who would like to have some input on developing an economic development strategy for my community.

I represent a riding that starts out in South Bar. It's a very beautiful community that runs along the Sydney Harbour, from Whitney Pier down to New Victoria - a very beautiful part of the riding, South Bar. It has its own volunteer fire department in South Bar, a very capable fire department. A lot of volunteers work very hard. It's a beautiful spot, the South Bar sandbar, and how could I not mention Polar Bear Beach? It's one of the beaches that is in Cape Breton that we use. I have been going there since I was young kid at age 10 or 11, going down on a bike - they call it Polar Bear Beach because the water is so cold, actually. They swim there up until New Year's, and they have a polar bear swim there, also.

There are men who have been swimming there for over 50 years, just a beautiful little community along the harbour. New roads down there. The school is no longer there in South Bar. We have amalgamated five schools in the community to build one huge school, Harbourside Elementary School. It's a beautiful community down there in South Bar.

Then we move up to Lingan Road and the history of Lingan Road was once a farming community, with very many lakes up top there, Browns Lake, Inglis Lake, up on top of the hill on the radar base. It was once the home of CFB Sydney, Madam Speaker, which was a very vibrant air force base at one time. There was a lot of history in that air force base during World War II. That has closed since, probably 10 or 12 years ago. Up there in Lingan Road, we have the family farms, the Candeloras have been there for over 100 years, farming up there on the top of Lingan Road. It's just beautiful up there. There is lots of fishing and there is still some wildlife left up there. It's just an absolutely gorgeous place to go for a drive, down through to River Ryan and through Lingan Road.

As we come down Lingan Road and go into Whitney Pier, right now, as I say, and as I speak, there is one road in Whitney Pier that comes in over an overpass. This was once a subway when I was a kid, and the subway used to flood, I remember that, quite often. Now they've built an overpass, and the overpass was built in 1967. As I presently speak now, I think there is another road that's under development right now, coming in from Highway No. 125, down the Lingan Road, Madam Speaker. I think the problem I have with that road is I don't think the road should exit onto Lingan Road, which is a residential area. I think the

[Page 1251]

road should exit onto the overpass, onto the main street rather than going through our residential centre, like the United Mission Youth Centre that is there, and there are a lot of regional housing there. I think that highway road coming in on Lingan Road should actually exit onto Victoria Road instead of going into a residential area, but that's a matter for another time.

The ethnic diversity is very alive in the community. We have a lot of festivals down there. I would like to move on out to Grand Lake Road, which is actually a beautiful community that runs between Sydney and Glace Bay, it's called Trunk 4, the highway and Grand Lake Road. It has a volunteer fire department there also, Madam Speaker. It opened February 16, 1959. It's first captain there was Chief Doug MacAulay, Sr. He ran a very tight ship there on Grand Lake Road and they have a very good volunteer fire department there. They do a lot of work with accident scenes and fires in the community. It's a very nice building right now, and I think there are some plans in the works, down the road, to actually look at building a new facility for the fire station on Grand Lake Road.

As we move farther out the Grand Lake Road, the subdivisions at Kytes Hill and Tanglewood are out that way. As you know, Madam Speaker, the Glace Bay Highway, when it was first built and designed, it holds a lot of water on the side of the road, and it's actually very - a lot of people are in a lot of hurry to get to work on Grand Lake Road, so it's a very dangerous spot to cross the road, or a very dangerous spot to live, with only one sidewalk on one side of the road. So there are some issues there.

When I spoke in the campaign, when I walked out there, I ran into a gentleman, a Mr. Chipback, who told me that he served overseas from 1939 to 1945 and now is in present need of a motorized wheelchair. On his side of the road there is no sidewalk. So he cannot cross the road in a motorized wheelchair because it's very dangerous. He said, I served my country for six years and now it's my time of need and I can't get any satisfaction on getting across the road, or getting a set of lights. So it's important that maybe we look at getting a set of lights on Kytes Hill and stop the traffic flow because it's like the Indianapolis 500 there from 7:30 a.m. until 9:00 o'clock.

On the Grand Lake Road, also out further, is the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, in Tanglewood, which has a very good genealogical centre where you can look up your family roots. It's probably one of the best in Canada actually. It's a very nice church and in that church they do a lot of volunteer work in the community with youth and other things in that area. Also, as we move in from Grand Lake Road to Ashby. The Ashby area has now become the retail sector of the riding, which now houses EDS, a call centre that has moved in there and has created some employment in Ashby. It's a very good corporate citizen, doing a lot of volunteer work for the United Way and other things, and has created well-needed employment in the community; and the retail business; Ashby Fire Department in Ashby, they're kind of like the team that goes on every call. They're always on the go all the time.

[Page 1252]

Then at the upper end of Ashby we have a junior high school which is the most technically advanced junior high school in Canada - Sherwood Park Junior High School. It is just a beautiful school. It's about five years old at this time and absolutely gorgeous, Madam Speaker. As we talk about the Ashby area, we also talk about the Branch 138 Legion in Ashby, which houses a lot of veterans who were in World War II. The Ashby Legion is also involved in many, many community events. They sponsor a local air cadet core. They sponsor two soccer teams, a little league team, at the Ashby Legion, the Sydney School Hockey League. The branch also assists many charities and organizations in the Sydney area. The branch celebrated its 50th Anniversary in the year 2000.

Madam Speaker, in sports, the Tartan Downs Race Track has not been racing this year. The revenue is much-needed for the horsemen in the association down there. There have been no races this year because of the track and they couldn't come to an agreement on that matter, but that's a sport that was always well attended there in the upper areas of Ashby. On any given night there would be a lot of traffic going up to the Tartan Downs Race Track. It was a very good spot actually and some of the members here probably visited that race track at different times.

Madam Speaker, as we move in through the whole riding, then I get to where I actually live, in Whitney Pier. There needs to be some economic development in Whitney Pier. We have a very spiritual community where we have Roman Catholics, the Church of England, the Salvation Army, the African Orthodox Church, the Ukranian Orthodox Church, the United Church, the Polish Church, and the Italian Church in this one little, small community of Whitney Pier. So, again, I spoke about that earlier when I was speaking about the Sunday shopping issue. The tradition for many years was to go to mass and then have dinner with your family. So I think times are changing and I think they will have to look at that issue and talk about what we're going to do about that issue in the community and how things get together on Sunday.

There are a lot of issues in Whitney Pier. We talk about why you live there, there are the tar ponds. I mean who would say, why would you want to live next to the tar ponds - and - you have the highest cancer rates in the country. I mean why would you want to live there? You want to live there because of the people. We don't want to live there and say we live next to the tar ponds, we have the highest cancer rates and birth defects, and all this other negative stuff. I think it's the people of that community why we choose to live there and why I chose to live there my whole life, is because I love the people in that community. There's a lot of history in that community.

Again, I spoke about the Legion in Ashby, I will also speak about Branch 128 Legion in Whitney Pier which holds a lot of reunions of the Cape Breton Highlanders, Madam Speaker, which was a very good unit in World War II that fought on three different fronts - in Italy, Belgium and France. My next-door neighbour, Steve Hominick, is a decorated Cape Breton Highlander and very proud to get his new Nova Scotia plates, the veteran's plate. He

[Page 1253]

was quite happy to receive those. Again we talk about the Whitney Pier Memorial Junior High School. Students from all over Cape Breton come to Whitney Pier Memorial Junior High School. It's one of the few junior high schools in Cape Breton where actually student enrolment has gone up over the last couple of years. We brought in French immersion five years ago and actually, I sat on the school advisory council there for the last six years, so it actually has an increase in enrolment because of what we offer. We also have (Interruption) French immersion and special education.

We've always prided ourselves on education in Whitney Pier, as I look back over the years and think of growing up in the Catholic school system, the Holy Redeemer gym and the Holy Redeemer Church and being a member, and my mother being the cook at Holy Redeemer camp growing up, so there were some good times at the church.

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm having a hard time hearing the speaker. Thank you.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor.

MR. GOSSE: Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will not speak Ukrainian and Polish like the past member, I'm going to try to focus just on English.

Madam Speaker, let's get back. I talk about the riding in general. I know the speaker before me, the member for Lunenburg West, was talking about development in her area and creating 500 jobs. Well, I sure wouldn't mind creating 500 jobs in Whitney Pier. It would be great. I know the steel plant is closed and gone, but we've never had any jobs created in that community. It was okay to take away an industry of over 4,000 jobs and not replace it with any jobs, but there's never been one job created in the area of Whitney Pier.

At one time, when I was a young man growing up, there were over 30 businesses in the area of Whitney Pier - 30 businesses. The Jewish synagogue is gone, it's now the Whitney Pier Historical Society, which is actually a beautiful place to visit and the history of the community and the sports figures that went through the community, the legendary Danny Graham, the voice of the Montreal Canadiens. I grew up in Whitney Pier. We have very many . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Danny Gallivan.

MR. GOSSE: Danny Gallivan, I'm sorry. Danny Graham - that was my fault, Madam Speaker. I'll have to erase that one from Hansard, I guess.

AN HON. MEMBER: Too late.

[Page 1254]

MR. GOSSE: Too late, it's in there now, I guess. Danny Gallivan was actually a great sports figure for the Montreal Canadiens. We have had lots of sports figures over the years, guys who went on to sports careers, like Al MacCormack, the Athletic Director of St. Lawrence University, who came from Dominion Street in Whitney Pier. He's the only fellow elected for two separate sports in the St. Lawrence University Sport Hall of Fame - one in soccer and one in hockey. So there are all kinds of athletics.

At one time in Whitney Pier the steel plant and coal mines would shut down for the baseball games, the old colliery league baseball, the old senior league in 1938 and 1939 when they had all the imports in before the war. There's a great picture from Whitney Pier, Murray Matheson and Howie Burt and Danny Mombourquette. As I came to my office here in Halifax, I noticed in our building there's the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame. I walked in the door and the first article I read was about Murray Johnson from Whitney Pier, pitching in a game in 1938. He was a great ballplayer, and playing ball for many years myself, I enjoyed hearing the stories of the coal mines shutting down and the steel plant shutting down so everybody could go watch the ball games, and there would be 4,000 people.

Actually, the first little league game was played 50 years ago last year in Whitney Pier and a gentleman from Whitney Pier by the name of "Lefty" Hewak was the first pitcher to pitch a no-hitter over 50 years ago in the little league. The fellows who I grew up with, Curtis Coward, a great ballplayer, left Whitney Pier and became a professional ballplayer. He was the first guy from the community to do that.

We have a very distinct ethnic community with Italians, Polish and Blacks. It's a very diversified community, Madam Speaker, and it's a great place to live.

Going back to talk about unemployment, I'm trying to be very positive when I talk about my riding, but when I think back I think about the highest unemployment in the province is in Whitney Pier at 16 per cent. The average income salary in the community is $20,396. I remember when I was on the election campaign I heard a clip from the Premier saying how proud he was of the unemployment rate in Halifax being at 4 per cent and the average income being over $56,000. I thought how fortunate those people were to live there and not to live in my community where we have the highest unemployment and an average income of $20,000. So it makes it very difficult.

I sure would like to see some kind of job creation. I know it's in the government platform, in the Throne Speech, that strategic support for struggling communities. So this is a struggling community with employment and we sure would like some help in this community to create some of that. We do have a Whitney Pier and Area Development Association, which right now is looking at what we can do to bring businesses back to the community. Madam Speaker, there is a committee out there right now trying to bring back, maybe finding some use for the Jamieson School and bringing some businesses back in there, maybe doing the facades in downtown Whitney Pier. It's a long project and it's going to be

[Page 1255]

a long haul, but we need the co-operation of everybody to make Whitney Pier, the once most prosperous community in Sydney, back to its old level of prosperity and pride.

[2:30 p.m.]

Now the resource-based industries are all gone, and when I say resource-based industries are all gone, the coal mining, the steel plant, the forestry and the fisheries are probably going on the way next. We won't have any resource-based industries, I guess, pretty soon down there. It makes it very difficult for me to go for my walks on the weekend or when I'm at home with my family, and I walk down by the beautiful harbour and I see no more coal mines, no more steel plant. I see coal being imported in from other parts, Venezuela, the United States, for these coal-fired generating plants, which are the biggest polluters in the province. These people come in and there's coal dust blowing off of these boats, all over the community. My first thing as an MLA was getting complaints from people whose homes were being polluted, coal dust all over their homes. They were calling me up and taking me down to show me the coal dust and everything else.

It makes it very difficult for me to go for a walk every day and see the big boom from the CSL, the Canadian Steamship Line, unloading coal in Cape Breton, and we don't have a coal mine. I'm saying to myself, geez, the coronation of the new Leader coming up very soon and here he is shipping coal into our community and not paying any taxes. (Interruptions) I see it every weekend when I go for a walk. I find it very terrible to think that the new Leader of this country is going to be pulling those things off in Cape Breton, with no coal mines and no steel plant.

Again, I remember during the campaign, when the Liberal Leader was down in Whitney Pier. He stood up on the stage and talked to the people in Whitney Pier about sports and recreation in the community, and he pointed at the Whitney Pier Rink and he said, this is where I once played hockey. I said to myself, well, I once played there myself growing up, too. (Interruptions) No, no, I was busy campaigning, but I did hear that he was there and said that he did play hockey. I'm glad that he played hockey there, because it's a great place to play hockey. Actually that was one of the first things I had to do. In order for us to get the gym at Trinity Church Hall, Reverend Gunn would make us go up on Saturday to do our volunteer work so we could have the gym to play basketball in the afternoon. We had to go up and work on the foundation of the rink before it was built.

Again, the rink is getting old now. It has been over 30 years for the rink, and it's desperately in need of a new roof. The rink has always been there. A lot of people from all over Cape Breton use the Pier Rink, and a lot of good hockey players came out of there, the old Bantam team, when it was the Whitney Pier Legion team, with Brucie Campbell and Barkley Haddad and those guys. They were great hockey players and great guys. It was just good to go up there. There was a four-team Midget B hockey league there.

[Page 1256]

I touched earlier on little league. The community has so changed over the years. At one time there was three little league teams in Whitney Pier, and now we don't even have a little league team anymore. At one time there was a four-team Midget B hockey league, where we had Art's Texaco, J. W. Rudderham's, the Cosmo Club. Mr. Manning MacDonald coached the AC Athletic Dodgers, I think it was, the Boys and Girls Club Dodgers at that time. (Interruptions) That's the Police Athletic Club Dodgers, that's right. It was the team I once played on, many years later.

Those things are gone now from the community. I really miss those things, and I miss seeing the kids. But doing a lot of work the last 10 years, working with youth in the community and running the youth internship programs and finding youths jobs, that's important. Today's youth are disheartened about what they're going to do. Like I said, our resource-based industries are gone, so what are we exporting? We are exporting our youth. That's what we're exporting. Our brain drain, our expertise and everything else is going elsewhere, anywhere but staying at home.

For me to say, how can we get our youth to stay at home and provide good jobs for our youth so they can have some kind of hope in their future, staying in Cape Breton? The potential for growth in the community is great. There are good hard-working people there, there always has been. We do need something to bring some kind of growth in there.

Madam Speaker, I wish I could say I could keep going, I guess I could say I wish to thank - I just wish my father was here today. He would sure be pleased to find out that I was here in the Legislature speaking today. As we speak about the rules of adoption in this House, I guess that's a touchy subject for me because I was adopted at the age of five days and this is the family that I speak about today, Enid and Gordon Gosse. I couldn't have been put in a better home, in a better family. They were truly great parents and it was a great place to grow up in my neighbourhood. I was very fortunate, I enjoyed that, I couldn't have asked for any better parents than I had, Madam Speaker, and it was a great place to grow up.

We do need some economic development. I'm very honoured that the people of Cape Breton Nova elected me to be here with their concerns about jobs and employment and that sort of thing. Actually, the Festival of Visual Arts is going on right now in my community. It's a festival of local artists from in and around the Sydney area who bring their paintings and their art work to the Whitney Pier Memorial High School and it's very important to the community. This year it coincides with Celtic Colours so hopefully there are a lot of people at home. On Saturday, it's Italian Days so we'll be eating some good food. That's another thing, Madam Speaker. Growing up, we sure did have a diversity of food in that community - Italian, Polish and Ukrainian - and everyday every body had a different family dinner. That was actually a very, very good part of my life.

[Page 1257]

I touched on sports and the schools, but again, I would like to thank the Office of the Speaker and the administration office of the Speaker for helping make this transition for me here to Halifax to be as easy as it is. I've received a lot of help from the people over there and I've received a lot of help from my fellow members in caucus, helping me learn the policy and procedures of the Legislature.

Again, I'd like to see Victoria Road become a vibrant, prosperous community like it once was. I'm going to work very hard for the people in the community and I will make sure that I'm always going to be there for them if they need anything.

I would like to wrap up, Madam Speaker, and thank the Speaker's Office for helping me and thank yourself and my fellow colleagues and everybody in the Legislature. It's an honour and a privilege to be here. I never expected that I would be here in my wildest dreams, growing up from where I came from to be here today. A lot of people find that interesting, I guess, at home, because I didn't go back to school until I was 35 years of age. I took a union buy-out and went back to school at 35 and educated myself. I got a degree and I started to read books - I never did - so each night I would take a book, or take a book from the library here, and relax. So, I'm slowly getting used to becoming an MLA and I'd like to thank everybody here today. Thank you. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Madam Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and respond to the Speech from the Throne that was delivered by Her Honour, Myra Freeman, on Thursday, September 25, 2003.

Madam Speaker, at the outset, I would like to acknowledge and congratulate the Speaker on his re-election as Speaker for the House of Assembly, this very historic Chamber. I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate yourself and Mr. DeWolfe, the member for Pictou East, as Deputy Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: And yourself.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, self-congratulations aren't always necessary. I would also like to congratulate all the Pages who come to this House of Assembly and participate in the activities. They are a great support staff - not only are they doing a great job, but they are learning about the political process. Many of these young, bright, talented individuals have gone on to some very promising careers. I think it's incumbent on each and every member of this Legislature to encourage and support these individuals. I think we are so blessed to have that type of talent here in Nova Scotia. I know, even in my own constituency, since 1989 on an annual basis I have always had, through a mentorship program in my office at least one, sometimes two university students whose primary study was in political science or something very much related to that.

[Page 1258]

That's why I'm so very pleased to see the students here as Pages and support staff. It's a great learning experience for them. I believe that since 1989, I've been very fortunate to have developed and supported, through that mentorship program, over 30 university students and it's something I would encourage all members of the House to consider.

Sometimes it can be a little taxing on your resources and you have to realign what precious dollars you have, but the investment is just immeasurable, in the end result, in terms of what you will achieve. Some of these young, bright, talented individuals have gone on, as I've said, to great promising careers. One young lady is now a coordinator within the Prime Minister's Office. I know of another individual who's the city editor with The Cape Breton Post. I know another young lady who has gone on to pursue a career with the RCMP. That's the type of thing we should be supporting and so I would like to congratulate and acknowledge that.

Madam Speaker, I also would like to acknowledge and welcome back our Clerk and Deputy Clerk who do an excellent job in this Chamber and for all members, irrespective of their political beliefs, they're there to do some of the finest work that I've seen in any jurisdiction in Canada. (Applause) Now, if we could get them to always agree with some of our opinions, it would be perhaps a little more comfortable, but that's politics and I think, without them, we would certainly be very much misguided.

I would also like to welcome back our Sergeant-at-Arms who always is very friendly and very accommodating to any individual and very engaging to all those who come in contact with him. I would also like to acknowledge the staff in the library and the Committees Office, Madam Speaker, these sometimes are the forgotten people around the Legislature. Every time we need some information, some research material, some assistance in ensuring our agenda is set forth for various committee meetings and the information provided, they are the ones that we always count on and, in many cases, I think sometimes we just take them for granted. I would like to also acknowledge them and certainly our security here at the House, they are very diligent and very personable.

From what I've noticed, Madam Speaker, they take the time to welcome those individuals who are not generally visitors to the House, or frequent travellers in and around Province House, particularly those tourists or visitors from outside the province. I notice they always go that extra step to make sure that a friendly voice is provided and that those who come to visit this very historic Chamber, which by the way we know is the oldest in Canada, the oldest seat of responsible government, everyone is made to feel at home. That's one of the special and unique characteristics that we can be so proud of.

Madam Speaker, I'm very fortunate to represent a constituency that has considerable history. It was once part of the constituency that represented all of Cape Breton Island at one point and even part of the mainland. In fact, Cape Breton was divided into two ridings and Cape Breton West, which wasn't Cape Breton West, it was Cape Breton County, extended

[Page 1259]

as far as Guysborough County. So a lot of things have evolved since the early to mid-1800s to present day. In fact, since my first election in 1988, this is the third time the boundaries in Cape Breton West have been changed. Each time I feel a loss, because you get to know the people in the various communities of the constituency on a one-to-one basis.

There are certain symmetries and interactions that take place that when you're working on particular projects, whether it's at the community level, whether it's at the provincial level, the policy level or, in fact, interacting at the federal level, or just simply doing some grassroots politics and assisting a constituent, whether it be a student loan, whether it be some problem in bureaucracy with the Department of Health, Community Services or what have you. Given the fact that I represent, predominantly, a rural constituency, for the most part that would entertain issues such as matters related to the Department of Transportation and Public Works.

[2:45 p.m.]

Madam Speaker, as I reflected on many of the speeches that have been put forward either in support or in opposition to the Speech from the Throne, I couldn't help but reflect on the comments that were made in the Speech from the Throne by Her Honour. On Page 17 of Hansard, the speech went on to read, "My government sought a second mandate from the people of Nova Scotia based on an ambitious but realistic four-year plan." Well, to this very moment, we haven't seen that plan. That plan is as invisible as blueprint two and blueprint one that the government brought forth. (Interruptions) Well, government ministers are saying blue book, but the fact is they don't even qualify for print as a book because they're not complete. That's the essence, Mr. Speaker - welcome to the Chair.

In my constituency I have a considerable number of communities. With the indulgence of members of the House, I would certainly identify each and every one of those communities. Perhaps one of the larger constituencies in the province - it starts at the Richmond-Cape Breton County boundary, and it starts with the first community of Irish Vale, then we have Middle Cape, Big Pond, Channelview, East Bay, Sydney Forks, Howie Centre, Sydney River, Prime Brook, Dutch Brook, Marion Bridge, Grand Mira North, Grand Mira South, Upper Grand Mira, Gabarus, Albert Bridge, Catalone, Bateston, Louisbourg, Baleine, Little Lorraine, Big Lorraine, Mira Road. We have Mira Gut, Catalone Gut. We have Round Island, we have Homeville, Black Brook, Port Morien, Birch Grove, Tower Road, Donkin, Port Caledonia, Northside East Bay, Eskasoni, and, of course, part of Coxheath.

So we can appreciate it's a fairly substantial constituency in area, some 60 miles from one end to the other, with over 15,000 constituents or voters. Ironically, though, Mr. Speaker, when the polling list came out from the chief returning officer, during the provincial election, there were close to 2,500 names missing off the list. Now given the fact that this particular constituency, which is new in form, because Northside East Bay, Eskasoni and part of

[Page 1260]

Coxheath were just added into my constituency, and a portion of Sydney River was deleted, the net result was I had an increase, I would say, well in excess of or close to 2,000 voters.

Of any constituency that should have had an enumeration, I would argue that Cape Breton West should have. Lucky for me, Mr. Speaker, I maintained a rather solid data base from the last election, and took it upon myself, with a substantial number of volunteers, to go out and identify the lost 2,500. That was done with no assistance from the chief returning office. I think that's an issue that the government has identified as a point of concern in the Speech from the Throne, and it's something that I would encourage the government to pursue even further because, simply, what we see here is a symptom of a bigger picture and that is the evolution of politics in Nova Scotia. What we're seeing here is less and less contact at the street level, or at the community level, between the political structure, whether it be the elected section of the political system, or whether it's the bureaucratic structure, or what have you. The fact of the matter is people are feeling more and more alienated from the political process. I have to admit that this is the first time in considerable years that the total number of voters in the constituency has been down considerably. That is an issue that I would ask the government to consider.

In many of these communities that I have identified, Mr. Speaker, they are, for the most part, small bedroom communities in a rural setting. They don't have, in many cases, large industries. They don't have schools and churches and so on, but if you will take collectively two or three of them in clusters, we will have a considerable mosaic of community identity. For example, within Cape Breton West I have a total of 16 volunteer fire departments. Now, that is perhaps one of the largest numbers of volunteer fire departments in any constituency in the province. At one time, I had 17, but that number is down.

Mr. Speaker, Cape Breton West, for those who aren't familiar, is home to a number of elementary, junior high and high schools. Riverview, which historically is always identified with Cape Breton West, is in fact now in Cape Breton South, but because of the complex structure of the Cape Breton-Victoria School Board, which is now a regional school board, many of the students are very transient. They move from one jurisdiction to the other. At one time, in the previous Cape Breton District School Board, students who lived in the county area, in the Municipality of the County of Cape Breton, they would go predominantly to those schools. Those who lived in the City of Sydney would go to schools within the old City of Sydney School Board and so on and so forth, but now there's a lot of movement back and forth.

So we will find at the high school level, Mr. Speaker, many students, for example, from any part of my constituency, when they reach the high school level, will go either to Riverview Rural High School, will go to Sydney Academy, will go to Glace Bay High, will go to Holy Angels, or indeed to the French immersion school, or indeed any other institution that they so choose.

[Page 1261]

As well, Mr. Speaker, one of the good things about Cape Breton West, particularly at the junior high school level, which up until this election, the single largest junior high school - Malcolm Munroe Junior High - housed close to 900 students. At one time I think there was upwards and perhaps well over 1,000, but those numbers have declined and it may be even down a little more this year, but what's so amazing about this particular facility is the high number of honour students that graduate from this facility. Close to 60 per cent of the students who graduate from that school graduate with an honours level. I think that's pretty impressive.

All one has to do is go to the awards night that's held once a year, every year at Malcolm Munroe Junior High, and the students from Grade 7, Grade 8 and Grade 9, who have all achieved 75 per cent or higher in their average are recognized as honour students. To have that high a percentage, I think - I'm not sure, it may be unparalleled, it may not be - that's pretty impressive, and what's equally impressive is the large number of students who are now enrolled in the French Immersion Program - the late immersion, as we refer to it.

That program, I recall very distinctly back when our oldest child was entering into Malcolm Monroe, there was debate as to whether she could even enter into that program because there was only funding for one class. Mr. Speaker, I believe there are at least five classes at the school now dedicated specifically to the French Immersion Program. So we can see how things have evolved and how the students in that district have benefited and I believe that class number may be even higher.

When you look at what's transpired over the last few years, I've always maintained that in Cape Breton there's a lot of positives to be spoken of. One is, the fact that we are able to provide some of the best and the highest quality education, second to none, anywhere in this province and anywhere in this country. I'm very proud of that.

One of the things - and it goes back to the days of the previous Regan Administration when the University College of Cape Breton was first established - I recall the minister of the day who made the announcement, the honourable Allan Sullivan, during the course of his official opening indicated that - as a sidebar in conversation he said, look, if a lot of our students are going to be leaving Cape Breton, the least we can do is to educate them and make them prepared to enter into another world, into another part of the province or the country so that they will be equal to or competitive with those who are coming from other jurisdictions. I think he had great foresight.

It's unfortunate that the industrial economy has not been recaptured in the ways that we would like. It's unfortunate that the replacement economies in high-tech and IT that we've seen in other parts of the province have captured the loss, as happened with Sydney Steel and Devco and so on. If you take the lost dollars from the investments, from the coal industry and the steel industry just from those two alone, I would say that between direct and indirect spinoff dollars we've lost close to $0.25 billion a year out of the local economy.

[Page 1262]

These are real issues. (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, I'll certainly address a lot of the issues on the reclamation and so on, but the reality is, when you measure all the dollars together, the net substantial loss is $0.25 billion a year out of the local economy - and they're real numbers. They're real numbers because all you have to do is go and talk to the moving companies. How many families do they move off Cape Breton Island in the run of a year and how many families do they move onto the Island in the run of a year? I would say the ratio is about 8 to 1. For every eight who go off the Island, only one comes back. They're real numbers.

If that's part of the whole evolution of the way things are going, well, that's a reality. We have to deal with that. We've seen the effects of the way Nova Scotia has been urbanized over the last 10 years, and that's a real problem for rural Nova Scotia. Granted, that is great for building a strong province that has to have a strong central core and a capital city that will measure up against any other capital city in this country. That's very important. But with that comes a lot of the stresses and strains that, in effect, create urban problems that were not there, in terms of infrastructure, employment sustainability, the increased expectations and a whole variety of other issues.

[3:00 p.m.]

In rural Nova Scotia, what do we have? We have an aging population. It doesn't matter whether it's in Cape Breton, Cumberland County, Colchester County, Hants County, down the Eastern Shore, you can go down the southwestern part of the province, the Valley. Look at the numbers, county by county, and we will find, if you go in five-year intervals or even take 10-year intervals, since I've mentioned a 10-year period, that the population of metro has increased at least by 5 per cent. If you look at all the decreasing population in all the outlying regions, collectively, they've decreased by 5 per cent. So that's what's happening. We're becoming an urbanized core. Look what happened in Manitoba, Mr. Speaker, in Winnipeg. A population of close to 900,000 citizens, and 700,000 live in the City of Winnipeg. How in the name of heaven's is the province able to deal with all the economic and social problems that are there because of such an imbalance? I don't want to start going into comparing one jurisdiction to the other, but that's just an overview.

Mr. Speaker, these are some of the things that we have to deal with. The idea of pitting one part of the province off against the other just doesn't work. It didn't work in the past, and it will not work in the future. We have to have a way to work collectively. Now, back to Cape Breton West and the implications. For example, look at our infrastructure in terms of roads. That's why this blue book promise, where the government said it was going to table a plan, a 10-year roads plan, was so important. We have to know, out of these 26 communities, we have to know where to lay our priorities. We have to know. We can't do it, if the government won't tell us what its master plan is.

[Page 1263]

Mr. Speaker, during the last provincial election, the Tory candidate laid out what he said was a four-year plan, but we can't access that plan. He can't provide it. The present Minister of Transportation and Public Works can't provide it. The previous Minister of Transportation and Public Works, who it was provided to, can't provide it. Nobody seems to know. In fairness, if the government is looking for co-operation, give us some details so that we, at the community level, can provide a substantial and constructive contribution to this whole process.

That's why, Mr. Speaker, in the last election, although the premise from the government perspective, from the Progressive Conservative Party, was, let's put all our emphasis on roads, because asphalt gets us votes. Now that may have been good during the days of Gordon Harrington and Angus L. Macdonald and Gerry Reagan and John Buchanan, but those days are gone. Those days are gone, people are so cynical about politics and the process of politics, it's not going to work. You can pave until the cows come home, and it's not going to have, in the big picture, an overall impact. That's why people weren't cajoled and misled with all the promises about the Marion Bridge highway. They weren't.

When that big sign was put up saying that, the inference there, you vote for us, and John Hamm gets elected, and we will make sure that the Marion Bridge highway is paved. Well, that was five years ago. That sign is gone, that candidate is gone, and another candidate came along. What did he do? He went around passing out a letter to everybody saying that he had a four-year plan. Well, we have lots of plans. We can't seem to find them anywhere. I have lots of plans in my survey office, I'm sure I have about 4,000 of them, but I put them to constructive use. At least I know where they are and what they stand for. We can't even find that from this government. So enough of the planning, let's do something.

Mr. Speaker, the last section of 100-Series Highway that was done on Route 4 was done in the Big Pond area and I believe the present Minister of Transportation and Public Works was the minister at the time. That's just shortly after this government was elected. It was kind of a sequel to the first bit of work that we did. He stood in his place and he was very proud of the fact that the next 2.5 kilometres was going to be reconstructed and that's good, but what he forgot to say is 200 feet of guardrail and 200 feet of road collapsed over a cliff and it was declared by the engineers as unsafe to travel. Some 30,000 motorists a day travelling and that part of the highway was blocked off - a main arterial route into Cape Breton. So was that part of the plan?

There's another section on Highway No. 4, in and around the Ben Eoin area, I would venture to say the stress levels are starting to show and that within the next few years that road is going to collapse, and that's very near Ben Eoin Beach (Interruption) No, it's well beyond the ski hill, well past the ski hill. It's Ben Eoin Beach, between the two, and that's a very dangerous piece of highway. The departmental officials had to go and build up the shoulder of the road this year just to kind of reduce the amount of stress that was on that section of highway. Now, this is a major arterial route and if you go out a little further

[Page 1264]

beyond Big Pond, out to the Middle Cape hill where that young gentleman who was hauling bio-medical waste from Halifax down to Cape Breton, on his first trip, was killed. He was killed. That was so sad and so unfortunate. That road is like a washboard.

Mr. Speaker, if you're ever going home and you want your clothes washed, put them in a box or a barrel, put some water on it, and drive down that road and they will be washed. I mean, that road is rough. Think about the damage to the vehicles. Think about the number of accidents that have occurred because of the poor quality of the roads and, yes, think about the increased insurance costs. It's is just absolutely unconscionable what's happening and the government says it has a plan. The local Conservative Association says it has a plan. The government says it has a plan, but nobody can find it. So what's the problem? Give us the plan and we will tell you if it's workable or not, but we can't say anything, you're the government.

Mr. Speaker, the No. 4 Highway is just one issue of concern and it's a major issue of concern. It's a 100-Series Highway and that props it up for the fact that there's a possibility, there is the real opportunity for the provincial government to access federal dollars, whether it be on a 60/40 per cent basis, or a 75/25 per cent basis, I don't know, only the minister could say that, but that's a lost opportunity and why? Why is the government dragging its feet? The No. 4 Highway from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney is 18 miles shorter than from Port Hawkesbury to Sydney using the Trans-Canada Highway. So there is increased activity there. Many of the truckers that transport their goods and services from Sydney to Port Hawkesbury and beyond use the No. 4 Highway. It's a death trap. If you took two of those tractor trailers and put them side by side and measured from one west coast mirror on one side of one truck to the other side of the other truck, I would venture to say there are at least 75 to 100 different locations from East Bay to St. Peters where that total width is wider than the asphalt that's on the No. 4 Highway.

Now, how can that be safe? You don't have to be an engineer, you don't have to be a rocket scientist, you don't have to be a Minister of the Crown, you just have to be a reasonable person to understand and know that is a genuine safety hazard. Yes, I often wonder if that Middle Cape Hill had been fixed in a timely fashion, if that young man from Dartmouth would still be alive today. That was his first trip to Cape Breton and it was his last trip and that was so, so sad.

We see other accidents, such as along the Marion Bridge highway. This winter - I'm not sure if was because of the weather conditions - and it was a rather harsh winter and I think to a certain extent it was - so it made it very difficult for the department and the government, in fairness, to be able to manage the changing road conditions because of the weather. It would be so warm one day, the frost would come out of the ground, then the frost would go and the water would work its way in, but the fact is that the Marion Bridge highway is going on close to 30 years since it was fully upgraded from one end to the other.

[Page 1265]

That goes beyond different provincial governments. This is not just partisan politics. This is an issue of safety. There are over 3,000 vehicles a day travelling that highway and there are regular reports coming in of substantial damages to vehicles, people getting hurt and people with increased insurance cost because of claims they've had to put in because of damage to their vehicles. There's absolutely no reason I can see, other than politics, why that road has not been paved. It defies all logic. If the government is waiting for an opportune moment to go with great fanfare to pave this road and think they're going to score big political points, they might as well forget it.

On the other hand, the people and those communities from Prime Brook, Dutch Brook, Marion Bridge, Hillside Road, Mira, Trout Brook, Gabarus Highway, Big Ridge, Grand Mira North, Grand Mira South, Upper Grand Mira, Sandfield, Victoria Bridge - they are all fair-minded, reasonable people and will send a note of appreciation in their own quiet way. Whether that translates into votes or not, that's the least of my concern. It really is because if that's the only reason that people do things in public life, then they're here for the wrong reason. Just to score points at every twist and turn of the road.

People are fair-minded. If you treat them well, they will treat you well one way or the other. Whether that means returning you to the House of Assembly or even electing you for the first time, they'll do it, but you don't try and browbeat people into submission. This is not the 1800s or the 1930s. If any of the newer members would like to read some of the annals of history on the way that people were treated in Nova Scotia on the issues of patronage, those things are behind us and we should leave them behind us.

I would have thought we elevated to a whole different level. There's nothing more rewarding, nothing more satisfactory to an MLA whether he be in the Opposition or on the government side, than seeing some positive things are done in his or her constituency. That's a fact. Any time that the government has done anything good - this Conservative Government or even the previous Conservative Government - that I thought was good in my constituency, I praised them.

We do appreciate the work that was done on Highway No. 4, albeit the highway had to collapse to get it done, but people do appreciate it. They do appreciate the fact that there was remedial work done over on the Back Pit Road, the highway between Port Morien and Birch Grove. What they didn't appreciate was the government saying, we paved 5.3 kilometres of highway and in fact that wasn't the case. What they did was sporadic paving and patchwork over a 5.3 kilometre stretch. Rather than trying to insult the intelligence of the local people - they should have said, okay, over this stretch of highway, this is what we're going to do. But if you look on the government Web site, that's what they have. This is what they paved. No, they didn't.

[Page 1266]

[3:15 p.m.]

It's great to try to get maximum mileage, it's like a government that makes an announcement that it's going to make an announcement of some good news item, the opening of a factory or a business or whatever. Then the day of the announcement, they announce it, and then afterwards, they announce the fact that people were now just hired, and so on and so forth. It's like, as we would say, milking it to the bone.

Mr. Speaker, if we look at the Louisbourg Highway, Highway No. 22, that's an issue I've addressed with both the provincial government and with my federal counterpart, the Member of Parliament for Cape Breton-Bras d'Or. This stretch of highway, which is often referred to as a parkway, is as much a federal responsibility, in my view, as it is provincial. It is a provincial highway, but because it is the only gateway, the only route to the Fortress of Louisbourg, and that is the single, largest economic development tool that we have on that side of the Island, and given the fact that it was 1971 when that highway was last paved, you can only imagine what kind of shape that road is in. It's a shared responsibility, and I accept that. So, I'm not trying to put political blame on one or the other. But, again, if the government would tell us what its plan is - where's that 10-year plan? We're even happy to accept that little old four-year plan that was put forth by the Conservative candidate for Cape Breton West. He's gone and the plan's gone, and nobody is saying what they're going to do.

That's one of the good things, Mr. Speaker, about minority governments. People are not as tone deaf as they are when they're a majority government. It's a balancing act. It's a balancing act to employ fairness for the citizens of this province. One of the big issues that I see for many of the residents of my constituency are the long-term implications of this post-industrial era, coupled with the fact that Nova Scotia has now been urbanized. That policy is in place, that policy started back under Premier Donald Cameron, and it was carried right through to the present day. Maybe greater minds and people with greater foresight and knowledge on the issue and the whereases and the whys could speak to this. All I can speak to at this point is that the implications for industrial Cape Breton are going to be a little more long-term than at face value, and I will tell you why.

These call centres in industrial Cape Breton, they're good for the local economy. They are. For many of those who have spent their lives in a coal mine - not their life, some of the younger coalminers and their families who have been attached to that industry or the steel industry or a lot of the supplementary industries associated with the industrial economies are now finding that there's a whole different world out there, in terms of IT, in terms of modern telecommunications and technology, a whole new way of doing business.

I do have an inherent fear, because of the structure of these and the history of some of these companies, maybe not the ones in Cape Breton, but some of these American companies down through the States, as soon as they soak up the government subsidies from one jurisdiction, from one state, they move on to another state. Then, they play one state in

[Page 1267]

another region of the country against its neighbouring state, it's like a bidding competition, how much taxpayers' money I can get, and then they move on to the next. If anything like that happens with one of the three or four call centres that we have in industrial Cape Breton, we are in serious trouble. First of all, the wage scale is substantially lower than it was under the industrial economies, that's point number one. Point number two, many of the individuals who work at these call centres now have to have two members of the family working to compensate for that lost income that one could sustain. If they go, then it's a major hit.

What we're seeing is like a downward spiral, not only on that level but also in terms of infrastructure and priorities within the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. Recently, Mr. Speaker, in fact in November 2002, CBRM, at the committee level, which I believe it was recently ratified at the council level, adopted a policy to red circle any area of CBRM that does not have water and sewer against any further water and sewer infrastructure development. That's the simple version of what's happened.

If you take all these infrastructure dollars, federal, provincial, municipal dollars, you can take at least another $100 million and pump them into Sydney, Glace Bay, New Waterford or what have you, and you will not restore the economy of scales. What we are doing, we are in such a downward spiral at this point, Mr. Speaker, we are robbing Peter to pay Paul. Those parts of the regional municipality, in their previous life, that were always so well able to pay for their goods and services, are now being robbed to the point of diminishing returns, where they are hemorrhaging. We are actually chasing people out of that municipality, that new regional municipality.

I will demonstrate some of the structural problems that have occurred and the lack of understanding of public policy - just look at the water problem in Sydney River. The water problem in Sydney River, we have a major contamination problem there. They can gloss over it all they want, but at last count, in the Spring, we had 85 homes with contamination, many of those with fecal coliform. The municipality, by its own admission, cannot even find the source of the problem, and neither can the Department of Environment and Labour. If they can't find the source, why are they allowing the residents to continue to live in that type of an environment? Yet they will adopt a policy and say, you're not going to get a central water supply because we've now adopted a regional policy against any further water and sewer development. What kind of logic, and what kind of mindset is that, that that would be approved and then ratified at the provincial level?

There's something wrong, Mr. Speaker. It's like everything else. When these things get off the rails, it's only when somebody gets hurt, then everybody scrambles for cover and says, oh yes, now we will do something. It would cost approximately $2 million to rectify that problem. They're running a large new water line along the Trans-Canada, along this community, and all they would have to do is tap a line across the Trans-Canada, down through Carmichael Drive, which is at right angles to the Trans-Canada, and then run a series of laterals down into the affected area, and that problem would be solved. Not only would

[Page 1268]

it be solved, but it would be a good investment for the municipality, because, number one, its citizens would be drinking safe drinking water, and number two, it would enhance the asset base of that district, allowing for further development and infilling. What happens? The municipality makes money, it actually makes money.

But, for whatever reason - and yes, Mr. Speaker, this is a political statement, this may appear to be a very partisan political statement - the local municipal councillor for that area has refused and consistently not brought that issue before the appropriate committee levels and used his political insight and powers and his affiliation with that Party opposite to be able to take advantage of the opportunity to protect the very residents whom he represents. Why not?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Good man.

MR. MACKINNON: The Minister of Tourism and Culture says good man. He is the same man who moved the motion to red-circle CBRM against any further development, thereby inhibiting any opportunity to protect the people he represents - and the minister says good man? I would say shame on that type of logic. That's as much foresight as walking through a cloud on a dark night. So I would respectfully submit that the Minister of Tourism and Culture, if he is genuinely concerned about the safety and the health of those residents come and visit and see what the problem is.

If we go to communities such as Port Morien, Birch Grove, Tower Road, all these communities where they have volunteer fire departments, Gabarus, Marion Bridge, Mira Road, Louisbourg, Albert Bridge, Bateston, Louisbourg, Donkin, East Bay, Big Pond, Howie Centre, Northside East Bay and Eskasoni and indeed - if I've missed one, I don't think I did - all these volunteer fire departments are now at a severe stress level because of the change in the infrastructure and government policy on these volunteer services.

People are being taxed to the point where these volunteer fire departments really need some help. They need some help from the provincial government; they need some leadership and they need some real assistance from the Department of Environment and Labour. I would respectfully submit that the financial assistance that sometimes comes from the Department of Environment and Labour - or should - it's not there, and it should be. I know that there have been improvements in terms of providing - like the free licence plates, that's good. It was an issue that we started and it was completed in the budget in 1999 when government changed.

Then there's the issue of other volunteer support services from the government, but it's not enough. These volunteer firefighters need help; they need help and they need it now. Many of these volunteer fire departments need new roofs, they're facing structural deterioration and they're not getting the help from the provincial government like they

[Page 1269]

should. If the government has a comprehensive plan to be able to deal with this realignment, then I would suggest that it should make it available to all members of the House.

Why aren't we in a position where we're working with the Fire Chiefs Association? Why isn't there some type of a report coming forth to do an analysis of where all these volunteer fire services stand in rural Nova Scotia, and indeed urban Nova Scotia? What's the long-term plan? If the population keeps aging and deeps decreasing, something has to give. We're seeing it in the school system in Cape Breton West.

For example, last year the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board announced the closure of three more schools in my constituency - an elementary school which is basically a major setback for small communities in Cape Breton West; a school, in fact, I suppose some personal effects in here because one of the schools they're closing is the one that I started school in, in 1958. I started in 1958, but the inspector took me out because I was only four. So I had to start in 1959. They let me back in, the teacher advanced me to Grade 1, and the same inspector came back out and put me back to Grade Primary. So you just can't get ahead. On a more serious note, it's very sad when you see an institution that has been a part of the community for so long close its doors because it's the end of a whole generation of what we felt was an integral part of a very vibrant community.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the department also announced the closure of the Church Hill School. Well, that announcement was no sooner made when, my golly, everything was pretty well stripped out there. Now they use that for a storage facility because another school facility, it used to be the Mira Road Elementary School, that burned last year. It was the storage facility for all the documents and school supplies, cleaning supplies for the school board. For reasons unbeknownst, some unfortunate incident, that facility burned last year and now they have moved everything over. That's another school they closed.

Then the amalgamation of two schools, they've started this new concept in Cape Breton now, a family of schools like they have in Halifax. It's a coded way of saying, well, if we want to close a school, we really didn't close the school because we only closed one of the family. We just moved one of the family around, you know, we're getting school A to move over with school B and take residence there, just like a family. So, in essence, they closed the school in Portage. So that's three schools that were closed and there was very little support from the provincial government.

In fact, there was considerable opinion around the community, and even between individual school board members that I spoke with, that felt that the dictate had come from the deputy minister's office within the Department of Education. The deputy minister came before the Public Accounts Committee and he adamantly denied that, but yet it seemed to

[Page 1270]

fit the bill. In fact, he was quite perturbed, as I understand, that they didn't close the Gallery School in Port Morien.

That school, Mr. Speaker, and I'm not sure if it's still the case today, but when they do, I don't know if they call them IQ tests, or certain testing that they do on individuals, achievement tests, I do apologize, they had the highest rating of any elementary school in the province. They had the highest and I think that's quite an accomplishment. So why would the government want to destroy that for the sake of a numbers game, amalgamation. See, when you destroy these small communities, you destroy the fabric of what made Nova Scotia what it is today.

How many in this Chamber, Mr. Speaker, came from small rural communities? Even those members, I'm sure, who represent urban ridings, in large measure have some close contact or history with small rural Nova Scotia communities, I would respectfully submit, so they know the benefit and the importance. If everything is going to be in that concept - big is better - then I believe that we've lost a lot.

Mr. Speaker, the fishing communities in Cape Breton West from Louisbourg, Gabarus, Main-à-Dieu, Port Morien, Donkin, there has been quite a transition over the last number of years. Particularly when the National Sea Products plant closed and then, of course, that was opened under private ownership with some new hope and some new opportunity. At this point, it's an opportunity to congratulate some of the entrepreneurs in those communities who have done so well, such as James Kennedy of J.K. Marine and J.K. Fisheries in Louisbourg. Many of us know him as Jimmy Dale and he employs, on average, about 65 employees, local citizens, and they look after their families, and the spinoff effects in those local communities.

Here is a young man who started with essentially little or nothing and worked his way up, and he worked hard, seven days of the week. We are very proud of this young entrepreneur. It is much the same if we go to Hopkins Fish Plant in Port Morien or many of the fishermen, the lobster fishermen or the crab fishermen, whether it be in Gabarus or indeed down through Bateston, Little Lorraine or Big Lorraine, they've all done so well. We're very proud of them.

Cape Breton West has a proud history in tourism. We saw the wisdom of investing in Rita's Tea Room. The provincial government and the federal government got their money back, with the investment they made, within five years. It's a money-maker, it's a tourism and economic development tool, and it's a great way to showcase some of our fine talent. It's also the home of Gordie Sampson, a well-known singer. Cape Breton West also has Ski Ben Eoin. It employs dozens of individuals. It has an annual membership of 3,000 registered members, on top of all those who come every year. It's very successful.

[Page 1271]

What I'm saying, Mr. Speaker, is there are so many other issues that I could speak to, but, in essence, it's all these small niche markets that have made Cape Breton West as strong as it is. It's no one big mega-industry, it's no one dominant factor over the other, it's just a community of communities. I'm very proud to represent them. I know I haven't even had a chance to speak about Eskasoni and Northside East Bay, that are now new parts of my constituency, but I will endeavour to further the debate on that on a future day. I do thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I wonder if I could have the 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 bill:

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

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: [Ordered that this bill be referred to the Committee of the Whole House on Bills.]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that this bill be considered on the order paper for today.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1272]

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

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

The motion is carried.

[3:39 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

[3:40 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: The committee has met and considered the following bill:

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

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend it to the House without amendment.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 3:00 p.m. The House will sit from 3:00 p.m. until 10 p.m. Mr. Speaker, to answer any questions you may have, the House will not be sitting tomorrow, Friday.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House do rise until 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1273]

The House is adjourned until 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

We have reached the moment of interruption. This evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South.

[Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has abandoned its commitment to health care in the Annapolis Valley.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH CARE - ANNA. VALLEY:

COMMITMENT - ABANDONMENT

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on this late debate topic. It's one that brings me back to a little over a year ago, 2002, when Valley health delivery of its services came under review. We had a number of "town halls" and our local communities were very concerned about the state of the health delivery in our area.

In the last two days, of course, we have had three questions asked of the minister with regard to what is happening around the lack of full emergency care service at Soldiers Memorial Hospital. That really is just one aspect of the bigger picture for the Valley District Health Authority. As became very clear in February 2002, the Valley District Health Authority is the least funded of the health authorities in the Province of Nova Scotia. This became quite a galvanizing fact and reality for all of us in the Valley area. Of course, this is what underlies and underscores many of the problems that are now once again coming to the surface.

Certainly in conjunction with good preventive medicine, having sufficient family doctors is very important in the equation. Currently, as all the members, the honourable members for Kings North, Kings South, and Annapolis know, family doctors were certainly brought up to us as one of the election issues. At the recent annual meeting of the Valley District Health Authority they concluded that about 10,000 patients are now without a family doctor in the Annapolis Valley. One of the areas that was pointed out again, which shows up in terms of the stresses on the system, is with the shortage of nurses, technicians and a proper delivery of services.

[Page 1274]

The stresses on the system can be really seen if you take a look again at one of the statistics put forth when the Valley District Health Authority held their annual meeting. That is, we are on the leader board when it comes on a per-staff member basis for nurses and technicians in terms of sick leave - $1.2 million spent on sick leave, $0.8 million spent on overtime. Again showing the chronic shortage that we do have.

A daily reminder of the stresses on the system in the Valley District Health Authority is the fact that there are anywhere from 5 to 12 people in the overflow area on a continuous basis. Wait times - whether it's a fairly common procedure now, like an ultrasound to an echocardiogram, all of these have increased not by a matter of days, but by a matter of weeks. Again, the urgency of meeting some of the funding requirements, I think really became very glaring during the election itself when, during that time, paramedics had to be approved by the Nurses' Union for service at Valley Regional; again, certainly outlining the serious shortage that does exist.

[3:45 p.m.]

In our area, in the western part of Kings West, which is in, of course, very, very close proximity to Soldier's Memorial Hospital, the primary health care area for members at CFB Greenwood. Certainly from the base commander all the way through to all of the service families, the servicemen themselves are not at issue here, they are provided medical service right at the base during, of course, work hours and that is only confined to daytime hours. However, last year, at a meeting of Kings County Council, the base commander outlined the seriousness in the deterioration of health delivery services and also the availability of family doctors in our area.

It was quite an alarming statement to hear the base commander state that he now had members in other parts of the country who were refusing their posting to Greenwood. This is one of the first times this has occurred on a regular basis. Greenwood has one of the five super bases in the country. It is a very, very desirable place from the point of view of servicemen and their families. But we now have people who are refusing their posting because they are unable to get a family physician. Again, a full complement of services are much further away than when, of course, Greenwood was established and really, up until just this past year in 2002, before about 20 acute care beds were cut, ICU has been closed and in recent months, surgical services, general surgery, is no longer provided at the hospital. I say this in somewhat alarming. If 14-Wing Greenwood is concerned and certainly, as they look at their future, that is a major concern for the whole area.

One of the other developments that is occurring, is that Valley Regional, as a regional hospital, designed to provide some secondary and some tertiary-level care, is no longer getting that kind of emphasis. More and more primary care, transitional care, is going on as beds are turned over to long-term care. In fact, just in the last three or four weeks it was

[Page 1275]

announced that they would reduce from 42 acute care beds to 37; five more taken out of service, which increases the wait times for general surgery at the Valley Regional.

I recently attended the annual meeting of the Valley District Health Authority and there was one very glaring topic that came through in both subtle and not so subtle ways which, of course, is not a measurable statistic, it is not a fact, it's not all about dollars, it is the current level of morale of the staff, both at Valley Regional and at Soldiers Memorial. A good deal of that, of course, is again the climate of uncertainty and what is the plan for health care delivery in the Valley District Health Authority - while government continues to claim that health care is stable and because it is, therefore, we can afford $147 million taken from services through the 10 per cent tax scheme.

Certainly to people in the Annapolis Valley and certainly in my riding of Kings West, all is not well with health care. Residents have lived with a chronic shortage of family physicians, despite the compliments government continues to give themselves on the fine job that they have done. Mr. Speaker, I would have to say in closing that we need to have a plan in place, and equitable funding, if we are going to address this very serious issue.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable member for that.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, the resolution before the House is "Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government has abandoned its commitment to health care in the Annapolis Valley."

Many years ago, when I was in high school, I had an opportunity to debate my older brother. I was quite excited about this, because I knew that he tended not to do his homework and he tended to sort of do things on the fly, and I thought here's my chance to upstage my older brother, until I saw the resolution and the side I was given in the resolution. The resolution was, resolved that this unsavoury politic character, leader - whose name I won't even mention - was the saviour of his country. I was supposed to defend this. The moment I saw the resolution, I knew that I was in trouble. Sure enough, my brother handily made fun of me in the debate, and I lost the debate badly.

I remember thinking to myself, what silly teacher could have made such a poor resolution and worded it so poorly that there wasn't any debate on the issue, that it was self-evident? I felt a sense of dejà vu when I saw this resolution by the Liberal Government before me, particularly with the word "abandoned" in it. It's so poorly worded, Mr. Speaker, that it's easy to refute. To say that there are problems and discussions on the state of health care in the Annapolis Valley is absolutely true; to say that many are worried and concerned is absolutely true; and to say that MLAs for the area, such as myself, have lobbied and agitated for more funding is absolutely true.

[Page 1276]

But to say that the government has abandoned health care in the Annapolis Valley is so totally false, it hardly bears refutation, as I say. To abandon, by definition, means to give up completely or forever, to leave, to desert. That's totally untrue, Mr. Speaker. To begin with, when the western region, which was set up by the Liberal Government, when it was divided into the three districts that now comprise the former western region, and I would daresay the honourable member would not accuse the western region of having abandoned health care when it was divided into three districts, the District Health 3, now known as the Annapolis Valley Health received 42 per cent of the funding, more than a third of the funding - hardly abandoning health care in the Annapolis Valley.

Since that time, since the districts were formed, other developments have taken place. I was at the opening and spoke at the opening of a new Fidelis House. This is a home, this is a place, low-cost accommodation for people whose loved ones are at the Valley Regional Hospital, and this subsidizes them so that they can stay for about $20 while their loved one is undergoing some medical procedure at the Valley Regional Hospital. My government funded this and gave a guarantee of funding so that this Fidelis Centre could be built. Neil LeBlanc, the former Finance Minister, was very instrumental in helping to work this, along with myself - hardly abandoning health care.

Secondly, in the District 3, we've seen, since the year 2000, increased incremental funding - not enough, I will admit - but increased incremental funding in comparison with other districts. Recently, with the new $19 million funding that was announced, Mr. Speaker, I was at a briefing that was offered to all the MLAs in the area covered by the District Health Board, the only two who showed up were David Morse and myself, the member for Kings South. At that meeting I remember him mentioning several times that this is rather odd, here are these MLAs from Annapolis and Kings West and they're not at this first briefing. I am too kind to sort of mention that they weren't there, but he said that the first public opportunity he had he would mention that and he would mention it strongly.

Anyway, at that briefing, which the honourable members weren't at, the chairman of the board announced that he was very pleased with the share of the $19 million that District Health 3 had gotten, that the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority had gotten. He said that the share of this would add to the base funding and it would mean that they have no real cost-cutting to do and they would be able to meet all their commitments this year.

In fact, if we're talking about funding, from 2001 to 2002, the district health authority's budget was increased by $5,637,000; from 2003 to 2004, increased by $6,082,000. Deficits in 2001-02 of $1 million plus were picked up; in 2003, a $2.2 million deficit was picked up. Since 2000, in capital funding, there has been $3 million in medical equipment funding, over $1.7 million in infrastructure funding, $900,000 in capital construction, and $0.5 million in capital equipment - hardly abandoning health care in the Annapolis Valley health area.

[Page 1277]

Fourthly, another thing that happened in the time that the government has been in power is that a role study has been undertaken, Mr. Speaker, a $1 million role study, part of it to address reconfiguration of the emergency department at the Valley Regional Hospital but, even more hopefully, a small portion of it to look at future needs both in facilities and in staffing in the Annapolis Valley health district - hardly abandoning health care. A newer development is two new nurse practitioners, one in Wolfville at EKM, and one down at the Annapolis health centre, two nurse practitioners which we're very excited about and, again, an indication that we're not abandoning health care as the member wants to claim.

There has been stability in funding, a 7 per cent guaranteed increase, and one of the things that the government heard over the years was that they wanted some stability. They wanted to know, in future budgets, what they could plan on and so this government delivered on that - hardly abandoning health care. Long-term care beds have been a problem which have backed up, as the member did mention and is a fact, acute care beds in the Valley Regional Hospital, and there will be 16 new beds that will be very soon to go into Grand View Manor in Berwick, a central location for the area, and these 16 new long-term care beds will help relieve the pressure on the acute care beds at the Valley Regional Hospital. So 16 new long-term care beds is hardly abandoning health care in the Annapolis Valley region.

There has been a new $1 million addiction centre constructed at Soldiers Memorial in Middleton, along with about $300,000 worth of work to modernize their day surgery and their nursing stations - hardly abandoning health care. There is a painting by a Spanish painter, Francisco de Goya y Lucientes, a famous Spanish painter, and under the notes to the painting where he's explaining what the painting is about are these words: "Imagination abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters." I would like to sort of paraphrase that and say Liberal rhetoric abandoned by reason produces flawed resolutions. The resolution is flawed. We have problems. There's never enough money in health care. We're working at it. We will agitate for it. I as an MLA will. The other MLAs from the area on all sides of the House will, but to claim that we have abandoned health care is so patently false that the resolution just falls on its own internal inconsistency.

I want to spend the rest of my time talking not about this resolution, but talking about the wonderful health care workers that we have in the Annapolis Valley Health District 2, who would be surprised to learn that we've abandoned them. Anne McGuire, the CEO of the board, has been on the scene for about two and a half years now, a wonderful CEO, working tirelessly, well-respected across the province. The board chair, David Logie, as I said, gives of his time voluntarily and puts in hour after hour of time working for health care, working for the Annapolis Valley health care. The other members of the board, I could mention there's a whole slew of them. The three from my area are Doug MacDonald, David Hovell, John Cochrane, but all the board members give of their time voluntarily to make health care better in the Valley.

[Page 1278]

The wonderful doctors we have in the area, again I could go on forever and ever, Mr. Speaker, mentioning their names; the nurses, the therapy staff, the administrative staff, the support staff, the volunteers. I recently brought a resolution recognizing a volunteer at the Valley Regional Hospital, Elsie Lane, 80 years old, and she goes in and she volunteers at the front desk. Then the community health boards that cover - wonderful people who give of their time and do this out of the goodness of their hearts to help health care.

[4:00 p.m.]

I want to thank those people. We need more. We will do more in the Annapolis Valley health area, but this government by no means has abandoned health care in the Annapolis Valley. As I said, the resolution is so inconsistent that it's hardly worth debating.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, I beg to differ with the honourable member for Kings North. This resolution is very much a resolution that requires debating. I'm pleased to have the opportunity to speak to this resolution on behalf of our caucus, and I would like to thank the member from the Third Party for bringing it forward.

While the resolution may indeed be flawed, the circumstances that precipitated this resolution are real, and I would remind the honourable member for Kings North that his energies might be better placed in putting his intellect into the real problems that people in his area are finding when they show up at institutions that they have invested heavily in over long periods of time and rely on when they most require them in an emergency medical situations, only to find that emergency services aren't there and they have to go on or figure out how to deal with the situation.

Mr. Speaker, that is the reality that this resolution is attempting to address, I believe. We have had, in Question Period, in the last few days, a series of questions, some asked by the Leader of the Official Opposition about the closure of emergency departments in the Valley Region specifically looking at Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton, the fact that the emergency room there has been closed for a period of time because of a lack of doctors. As well, we have had questions raised here by the Leader of the Opposition with respect to overcrowding at the Valley Regional Hospital and the loss of long-term care beds in some of the nursing homes in the area, specifically North Hills Nursing Home in Granville Ferry.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, for people who live in these communities, this is a serious concern. These concerns are concerns that come out of a history of an erosion of health care services to residents of one of the most beautiful parts of our province, and a part of our province with a substantial population and growing population. You can go to other areas of our wonderful province and you can find crisis in the health care system that sometimes can be partially explained on declining populations and on the erosion of the surrounding

[Page 1279]

infrastructure in those local communities. But the Valley Regional District Health Authority and the Valley area is not a part of our province where you can cite this as an underlying reason for doctor shortage or the loss of trained medical personnel resulting in an erosion of health care services and a decline in particularly emergency medical care and surgery cancellation.

So we have to look elsewhere for explanations for what's going on here when that occurs. Mr. Speaker, as I said, this has a long history and, in fairness to the government, this isn't a problem that started with this government. When I was first elected in 1998, one of the very first meetings I attended as Health Critic for my Party was in the Annapolis Valley, it was in Kentville, it was at the Wandlyn. The government of the day was a Liberal Government. I can tell you, as somebody who was very new in the political arena, it was quite an education to walk into a public meeting where the focus was the decline of health care services and be among a group of people who were very angry, justifiably angry for the kinds of cuts that their health care system had taken over the previous number of years under the Liberal Government of John Savage and then on into the Government of Russell MacLellan.

This was a period of time that saw hospitals - the Berwick Hospital closed, it saw the reduction in services at the hospital in Annapolis Royal. So, this decline in medical services in the Valley region has quite a long trajectory and it does not begin with the current government. Nevertheless, the current government has not been able to address, they have continued the trend of the erosion of services that was gone under a former Liberal Government.

I couldn't help but reflect back on that first meeting when I was at the community college in Kingston last year when the district health authority in the Annapolis Valley was projecting a substantial deficit and more and deeper cuts to services. In the end, although the deficit wasn't as bad as projected, there still was a shortfall in cash. The analysis, the assessment of people in that particular district health authority and the health care professionals who work there and citizens in the community is that the funding formula is completely inadequate.

I was at the public meeting where the honourable member for Kings North was and I heard a commitment from his Party, possibly even from the honourable member, that this funding formula would be a priority. It would be something that would be addressed in very short order. Well, tick-tock, tick-tock, time has passed. A lot of time has passed and we still haven't seen any developments in a fair funding formula. What we have seen though is a continuing erosion of health care services in the Valley region.

I think this is something that we need to hold the government's feet to the fire on. We need to say to this government, in the four years that you've been in power, you raised an additional billion dollars in revenue - $1 billion in revenue in the four years since you were

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first elected. Yet, health care services continue to experience these unacceptable problems in terms of instability from one end of the province to the other.

I think that while the resolution may be rhetorical in one sense, we are in politics after all, part of what we do has a rhetorical piece to it, but you always have to look at the reality. The reality is that many, many services that once existed to meet the needs of people in local communities when they most needed them are no longer there and it's very disturbing to hear the speaker from Kings West say that military personnel are not prepared to move into the area because they can't find family physicians.

I would say to the government members that you need to truly look at the circumstances, not bury your head in the sand and work with us to address this serious problem. Thank you.

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

The House is adjourned until 3:00 p.m. on Monday.

[The House rose at 4:10 p.m.]

[Page 1281]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 445

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas The Love of Tollers is a heartwarming story of the trials and triumphs of raising, hunting and showing Nova Scotia's official dog; and

Whereas Canning resident Douglas Coldwell has been raising and showing his champion Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retrievers for more than 35 years; and

Whereas Mr. Coldwell's book has been so popular with readers that Mr. Coldwell has now made it available in an e-book format;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Douglas Coldwell on the success of his book, The Love of Tollers, and wish him much success with the e-book version.

RESOLUTION NO. 446

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Kings County author Cameron Jess has recently celebrated the publication of his award-winning manuscript; and

Whereas Bearer of the Chosen Seed is an historical novel set in the years following the Deportation of the Acadians from Grand-Pré; and

Whereas the 454-page novel is published by Inscape Publications of Port Williams and follows the life story of a Huguenot family that flees religious persecution in France;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Cameron Jess on the publication of Bearer of the Chosen Seed and wish him much success in his future literary endeavours.

[Page 1282]

RESOLUTION NO. 447

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the community of Kentville has been long recognized by people from across the world as a friendly and welcoming place to be; and

Whereas Kentville has recently been recognized by the Welcome Wagon as Community of the Year in Atlantic Canada for 2002; and

Whereas Cambridge resident Elaine Scarrow has been named Atlantic Canada's Welcome Wagon 2002 Hostess of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Elaine Scarrow and all those residents of Kentville who welcome people into our community as they make Kentville or its surrounding area their new home.

RESOLUTION NO. 448

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 nine-year-old Rhianna Nicholson of the Kentville Marlins is getting her swimming career off to a terrific start; and

Whereas for the second year in a row she has won medals at the Swim Nova Scotia summer provincial swim meet; and

Whereas last year, at just eight years of age, Rhianna won a gold medal at the Swim Nova Scotia summer provincial meet and this year she took home a pair of bronze medals;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Rhianna Nicholson on her excellent showing at this year's Swim Nova Scotia summer provincials and wish her much success in her future athletic endeavours.

[Page 1283]

RESOLUTION NO. 449

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Southwest Early Childhood Intervention Agency provides specialized services to young children who are experiencing developmental delays, and their families; and

Whereas thanks to the initiative of French-speaking parents in the area, bilingual services are now being offered at the agency; and

Whereas Jacinta d'Entremont, a French-speaking early interventionist, has already begun home visits to area families;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Southwest Early Childhood Intervention Program Coordinator Valerie Gullison-Surette and her staff on the important work the agency does and wish them well as they embark in this much-needed new service.

RESOLUTION NO. 450

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Canadian National Griot Award program was originated to help encourage self-esteem in the African Canadian community and to provide role models and mentorship programs for youth; and

Whereas RCMP Constable Craig Smith of Yarmouth was the recipient of this prestigious award in the community services category; and

Whereas Constable Smith travelled to Edmonton recently to accept the bronze sculpture associated given to Griot Award winners;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Constable Craig Smith on winning the Griot Award and commend him on the wonderful example he sets for all members of our community.

[Page 1284]

RESOLUTION NO. 451

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas the artistic talents of a seven-year-old boy will help bring safety into the spotlight in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality; and

Whereas a snail drawn by Glace Bay Elementary School student Keegan Oakes has been selected as the crosswalk and school bus safety mascot for Cape Breton Regional Police; and

Whereas Sandy the Safety Snail will be used to educate students on ways to safely travel back and forth to school whether they are walking or travelling by school bus;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Keegan Oakes on having his drawing of a snail selected as the Cape Breton Regional Police Safety Mascot and recognize all those involved in teaching our children to be safe.

[Page 1285]

NOTICE OF QUESTION FOR WRITTEN ANSWER

Given on October 15, 2003

(Pursuant to Rule 30)

QUESTION NO. 1

By: Mr. Russell MacKinnon (Cape Breton West)

To: Hon. Barry Barnet (Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

More than a year ago, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations announced a program that would see seniors, 65 years of age and older, receive a $40 rebate toward the cost of a safe-driving program for each senior who voluntarily participated and successfully completed said program.

(1) Will the minister please advise as to how many seniors participated in this program and applied for the $40 rebate since its inception?

(2) Will the minister advise as to the total amount rebated through this program since this program was initiated?

(3) Does the minister have any documented evidence that shows this program has increased safety, reduced accident rates for seniors and reduced insurance rates for seniors?