Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-22

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Coxheath Hills: Gravel Pit - Oppose,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1743
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Advisory Comm. on the Freedom of Information and Protection
of Privacy Act, Hon. M. Baker 1744
Anl. Rept. of the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1744
Anl. Rept. of the Pictou County Health Authority, Hon. A. MacIsaac 1744
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Tourism & Culture: Right Here, Right Now - Marketing Campaign
of the Year Award, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1744
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 651, Energy - Schlumberger Donation: Dal. Univ. - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 1746
Vote - Affirmative 1747
Res. 652, Tourism & Culture: Film Dev. Corp./Atl. Film Fest. -
Applaud, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1747
Vote - Affirmative 1748
Res. 653, Energy - Offshore Ind.: Dev. - Commitment Recognize,
Hon. C. Clarke 1748
Vote - Affirmative 1749
Res. 654, Raymond, Michele/Watts, Heather - Halifax's Northwest Arm:
Book Publication - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1749
Vote - Affirmative 1749
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 33, Municipal Government Act, Ms. M. Raymond 1750
No. 34, User-fees Disclosure Act, Mr. G. Steele NOTICES OF MOTION: 1750
Res. 655, Hfx. Atl. MLA/Watts, Heather - Halifax's Northwest Arm:
Book Publication - Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 1750
Vote - Affirmative 1751
Res. 656, Econ. Dev. - Bridgetown Fire Hall: Funding - Commit,
Mr. S. McNeil 1751
Res. 657, Mulgrave Machine Works: Excellence in Ind. Award -
Congrats., Mr. R. Chisholm 1752
Vote - Affirmative 1752
Res. 658, E. Gore United Church: Anniv. (210th) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1752
Vote - Affirmative 1753
Res. 659, Educ./Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Internet: Educ. Promotions -
Nova Scotians Protect, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1753
Vote - Affirmative 1755
Res. 660, Health - Patient Navigation Prog.: Participants - Recognize,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 1754
Vote - Affirmative 1754
Res. 661, Slates to Computers: Book Contributors - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 1755
Vote - Affirmative 1756
Res. 662, Clattenburg, Rev. Jane - Rector: St. Peter's Anglican Church -
Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 1756
Vote - Affirmative 1757
Res. 663, Demers, Gloria: Cdn. Special Olympics Vol. of Yr. -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1757
Vote - Affirmative 1757
Res. 664, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Residential Tenancies Act: MLAs -
Copy Provide, Mr. J. Pye 1758
Res. 665, PAC - Min./NDP Leader: Dep. Min. - Attendance Allow,
Ms. D. Whalen 1758
Res. 666, Chapel Island: Heritage Can. Designation - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 1759
Vote - Affirmative 1760
Res. 667, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect:
Rd. Improvements - Priorities List, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1760
Res. 668, Belliveau Motors - Run for the Cure Participation:
Gratitude - Extend, Mr. W. Gaudet 1760
Vote - Affirmative 1761
Res. 669, MADD - Lun.-Queens Chap.: Opening - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 1761
Vote - Affirmative 1762
Res. 670, Agric. & Fish.: Horse Island Proj. - Review, Mr. D. Dexter 1762
Res. 671, Beehive Adult Service Ctr.: Anniv. (35th) - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 1763
Vote - Affirmative 1763
Res. 672, MADD - Digby Co. Chap.: Red Ribbon Campaign (2003) -
Best Wishes Extend, Mr. H. Theriault 1763
Vote - Affirmative 1764
Res. 673, Active Kids/Healthy Kids Prog.: Kingston/Pine Ridge Sch./
Kingston Elem. - Congrats., Mr. L. Glavine 1764
Vote - Affirmative 1765
Res. 674, Weymouth Kiwanis Club: Med. Ctr. Fundraising - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Theriault 1765
Vote - Affirmative 1765
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 219, Health - Front-Line Care: Promises - Breach Admit,
Mr. D. Dexter 1766
No. 220, Health - Front-Line Care: Promises - Breach Admit,
Mr. D. Graham 1767
No. 221, Health - Cap. Dist. Health Auth.: Overtime Limitation -
Effects, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1769
No. 222, Health - Cap. Dist. Health Auth.: Assistance Requests -
Confirm, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 1770
No. 223, Health - DHA: Budgeting - AG's Recommendations,
Mr. G. Steele 1772
No. 224, Fin. - Min.: Opposition Parties - Meet, Mr. D. Graham 1773
No. 225, Commun. Serv. - Casework Levels: Lbr./Mgt. Approach -
Agreement, Ms. M. More 1775
No. 226, Environ. & Lbr. - Coxheath Quarry: Permit Applications -
Details, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1776
No. 227, Tourism & Culture - Sherbrooke Village: Funding Cuts -
Details, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 1777
No. 228, Sysco - Cleanup: Details - Lack Explain, Mr. G. Gosse 1778
No. 229, Commun. Serv. - Affordable Housing Prog.: Funding -
Details, Mr. R. MacKinnon 1780
No. 230, Nat. Res. - Quarantined Wood: Mill - Designate,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1781
No. 231, Educ. - Budget Cuts: Sch. Bds. - Exclusion Confirm,
Mr. L. Glavine 1782
No. 232, Environ. & Lbr. - RDM Recycling: Water Tests -
Results Publicize, Ms. M. Raymond 1783
No. 233, Prem. - CBRM Equalization/Transfer Pmts.: Study - Provide,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1784
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 2, Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act/
Labour Standards Code 1785
Hon. M. Baker 1785
Mr. F. Corbett 1788
Mr. D. Graham 1788
Mr. G. Gosse 1790
Mr. Gerald Sampson 1790
Hon. M. Baker 1792
Vote - Affirmative 1793
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 17, Youth Secretariat Act 1794
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1794
Vote - Affirmative 1794
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Care: Anna. Valley - Neglected:
Mr. L. Glavine 1795
Hon. D. Morse 1797
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1800
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 29th at 8:00 a.m. 1802
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 675, MS Soc. - Christmas Cake Campaign: Best Wishes - Extend,
Hon. C. Clarke 1803
Res. 676, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect:
Rd. Improvements - Priorities List, Mr. W. Estabrooks 1803
Res. 677, RCL Br. 36: Commitment - Congrats., The Speaker 1804
Res. 678, RCL Br. 45: Commitment - Thank, The Speaker 1804
Res. 679, RCL Br. 134: Commitment - Congrats., The Speaker 1805
Res. 680, RCL Br. 17: Commitment - Congrats., The Speaker 1805
Res. 681, RCL Br. 14: Commitment - Congrats., The Speaker 1806
Res. 682, RCL Br. 4: Commitment - Congrats., The Speaker 1806

[Page 1743]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 28, 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 Kings West:

Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government has neglected health care throughout 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 member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today I beg leave to table a petition from the residents of District 12 in my constituency. The operative clause is that, ". . . our groups oppose any further Gravel Pit/Quarry Licenses in the area of the Coxheath Hills. Out- of-scale and out-of-place, potential pit and quarry developments would pose a clear threat to the public health, cause irreparable damage to our natural environment, our roads, our recreation activities and stifle positive residential development."

1743

[Page 1744]

The group calls upon the Province of Nova Scotia and its agencies on which it may rely to join with them in opposing any further gravel pit, quarry license in the Coxheath Hills. I have affixed my signature to this petition. I certainly agree with the petition. There are 800 signatures on here and I would like to present that to the House.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a report of the Advisory Committee on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority for the year ended March 31, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Pictou County Health Authority for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure and pride that I rise today to inform the House that the "Right Here, Right Now" tourism marketing campaign for Nova Scotia was selected as the Marketing Campaign of the Year at the national Awards for Tourism Excellence in Montreal last night. (Applause) The awards were presented by the Tourism Industry Association of Canada at the 2003 National Conference on Tourism.

[Page 1745]

The "Right Here, Right Now" marketing campaign was launched in Halifax last Spring at the Halifax Citadel National Historic Site. Premier Hamm was our guest, as tourism operators watched the new TV and radio ads and heard what the campaign would involve. Expectations were high and I believe this marketing campaign has done the job. You may remember, Mr. Speaker, the attention received about using a song that wasn't a traditional Nova Scotia song. The British pop song, "Right Here, Right Now" was re-recorded by Nova Scotia musicians and became well-known in the Maritime region, as well as across Canada, as it was seen during national programs.

The campaign stood out from others that continued with more traditional approaches. It raised awareness of Nova Scotia as a vacation destination of choice, and prompted more enquiries about our province than any other marketing campaign to date. If there ever was a time when we needed something that stood out, it was during this very challenging year for the tourism industry. In the end, when we look back at 2003, we will be able to say that Nova Scotia did as well or better than any other area of Canada.

During the same event in Montreal last night, CorporaTel of Halifax won the Award for Excellence in Human Resource Development. The award recognizes CorporaTel's commitment to professionalism in the Canadian tourism workforce. I offer congratulations to CorporaTel which provides the centralized reservation and information system for Tourism Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, as well, I offer my congratulations to Celtic Colours for making the final top three events in Canada.

On a final note, members of the House and the public will be able to view this national award, as it will be displayed right here, right now, downstairs in Province House. And to make it even more special, the award itself was made by Nova Scotian Crystal. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it is too bad that tourism has been down, as we do need tourists right here, right now in Nova Scotia. Our caucus would like to send our congratulations to CorporaTel for their Award of Excellence in Human Resource Development, and also congratulate the Department of Tourism and Culture for their marketing campaign this year and receiving their award last evening. It shows the talent and dedication of the employers and employees around Nova Scotia.

Unfortunately, like I said, the tourism numbers have been down this year. Some of it is from causes that we can't control and I think you have seen a trend throughout Canada, where tourism is down. I hope with this exposure to these awards that next year will be a brighter year for our province, and that we need to do more for rural Nova Scotia to increase tourism in those communities. Many of the communities rely on tourism. The economic growth of many of these communities relies heavily on tourism, like I said, and we need to

[Page 1746]

make sure that they have the support and the resources of the government, so that residents from these communities can maintain or stay in these communities for employment opportunities, and not see the exodus, as we see the trend right now in some of rural Nova Scotia.

[12:15 p.m.]

I look forward to this year's tourism season and the possibility of maybe going through the Doers' and Dreamers' Guide and possibly seeing a picture of the Bluenose this year, it will be promising. I just want to say, again, congratulations on the two awards we received here in Nova Scotia. I hope that next year will be productive and will increase our numbers here in Nova Scotia. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I want to extend my congratulations to those who deserve it most, the tourism industry of this province - the tourism owners and operators of Nova Scotia, who continue to make tourism a vibrant and viable industry here at home. I do wish to extend congratulations to those who worked on the marketing campaign from all sectors as its success is evidenced by this award.

Mr. Speaker, I do, however, have reservations about the future of tourism in this province. We have seen a decline in the tourism industry here, and with this government continuing to cut services and spending I have a strong suspicion that tourism promotion may find itself on the Tory chopping block. It will not be enough for this government to bask in the glow of one award on one marketing campaign for one year when the tourism industry of this province is long term and requires a long-term commitment from this government.

Cutting the budget of Tourism's promotion would not be a way to make this commitment, Mr. Speaker and I would hope that this government recognizes that. The tourism industry owners and operators of this province deserve to have a commitment from government to ensure that the vibrant industry remains successful. We must continue to find innovative ways to bring people to our beautiful province that is beneficial to tourists, business owners and operators and, most of all, the people of Nova Scotia. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 651

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

[Page 1747]

Whereas Dalhousie University recently announced that it has received a $16.2 million software package of leading-edge exploration and production (E&P) and simulation technology from Schlumberger Information Solutions; and

Whereas this donation of software is being used for research and to train students on how to model complex subsurface oil and gas reservoirs, and to simulate fluid flow in the reservoirs; and

Whereas the Schlumberger Worldwide University Software Program is part of a global Schlumberger initiative that began in 1998 with the idea of providing students and staff of Earth Sciences Departments all over the world with hands-on experience of E & P and simulation software;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Dalhousie University on receiving this donation and the impact it will have providing Dalhousie students with enhanced educational opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 652

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation and the Atlantic Film Festival will be holding a two-day film festival November 1st and 2nd; and

Whereas this celebration of Nova Scotia filmmakers will screen several Nova Scotia produced documentaries, television series and feature films; and

[Page 1748]

Whereas those who attend can do so free of charge and may also be able to speak to filmmakers about their experience in making these productions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the Film Development Corporation and the Atlantic Film Festival for giving Nova Scotians an opportunity to experience our internationally recognized talent.

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 Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 653

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Department of Energy will be hosting the 2003 Nova Scotia Petroleum Skills Forum on November 12th and 13th in Halifax; and

Whereas over 200 industry leaders will meet to address challenges faced by the oil and gas industry in creating and maintaining a skills base that will meet local labour market needs and expectations; and

Whereas by addressing the skills gap now rather than later and by bringing together government and industry stakeholders, we'll be setting a good foundation for a prosperous oil and gas sector in Nova Scotia for years to come;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the increased commitment to further the exploration and development of our offshore industry and a significant growth and increased opportunities that will be made available to Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1749]

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. 654

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

Whereas Michele Raymond and Heather Watts are the co-authors of the recently released book, Halifax's Northwest Arm, published by Formac; and

Whereas the book contains over 100 full-colour illustrations and describes the more than 200 years the Arm, and its immediate surroundings, have been used for industry and pleasure; and

Whereas among the things this publication rediscovers are the prison which is now the site of the Armdale Yacht Club; Fleming Park and its Memorial Tower; and the villages which grew up on the Arm;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Michele Raymond and Heather Watts on the publication of Halifax's Northwest Arm and thank them for their contribution to this historical literature of Halifax. (Standing Ovation)

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 1750]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 33 - Entitled An Act to Amend Chapter 18 of the Acts of 1998. The Municipal Government Act, to Expand Standing Before the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board. (Ms. Michele Raymond)

Bill No. 34 - Entitled An Act to Provide for the Full Disclosure of User Fees. (Mr. Graham Steele)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that 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. 655

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this may have an echo to it I guess. I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas this House of Assembly is now in its third century of representation of Nova Scotians and in each century members of this House have been authors of published works; and

Whereas two notable examples are Thomas Chandler Haliburton, creator of Sam Slick, and Moses Hardy Nickerson, a poet whose books include Songs of Summerland; and

Whereas the newly-elected member for Halifax Atlantic is about to become the most recent Nova Scotia MLA who is also a published author;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate our colleague, the member for Halifax Atlantic, and her co-author, Heather Watts, on the publication tomorrow, October 29th, of the book entitled Halifax's Northwest Arm, An Illustrated History.

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 1751]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 656

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

Whereas yesterday the Minister of Economic Development put forward a resolution congratulating the residents of Bridgetown who are involved in raising $420,000 for a fire hall; and

Whereas this fire hall will be built under the federal, provincial and municipal infrastructure program which has been set up to help upgrade infrastructure in rural and urban municipalities across Canada; and

Whereas the members of the Hamm Government have offered a congratulatory resolution to the people of Bridgetown on their fundraising efforts;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hamm Government commit its one-third infrastructure funding to the Bridgetown and surrounding communities for this fire hall today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

AN HON. MEMBER: I didn't hear a No.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I did, and the notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

[Page 1752]

RESOLUTION NO. 657

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

Whereas a Mulgrave company with 34 years of experience in the forestry, fishing and environmental sectors was recently honoured by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce; and

Whereas Mulgrave Machine Works was the recipient of the Excellence in Industry Award for its commitment to its community and its ability to compete provincially, nationally, and internationally for contracts; and

Whereas Machine Works' design, fabrication and repair facilities have been integral parts of Mulgrave's economy since 1969;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Sean Reid and staff at Mulgrave Machine Works on being awarded the Excellence in Industry Award by the Strait Area Chamber of Commerce, and wish them 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 Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 658

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

Whereas the gathering of people to honour God at a meeting place remains one of the oldest traditions of many rural communities; and

Whereas many churches were built over 100 years ago at these meeting places, and have since been lovingly maintained; and

[Page 1753]

Whereas on October 26th, the congregation of the East Gore United Church celebrated 210 years of continuous worship in their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the congregation of East Gore and surrounding communities on their anniversary, and for their steadfastness to their faith.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 659

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 recent years the Internet has served as the vehicle for fly-by-night individuals and institutions to advance the notion that a university diploma is easily attained without the requirements for tests, classes, books or interviews; and

Whereas these American fly-by-night operators guarantee one is assured of either a bachelor's, master's, MBA, or doctorate (Ph.D.) diploma for the most part by simply registering and paying a fee; and

Whereas such non-accredited institutions do little to advance and ensure high-quality education as prescribed by Nova Scotia's educational system;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations take all appropriate steps to protect Nova Scotians from such low-grade educational promotions.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1754]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 660

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

Whereas Patient Navigation is a community-based service providing education and supportive care to adults, children, and families living with cancer; and

Whereas Joanne Hughes, Ann Barry and Alice Leverman of the South Shore District Health Authority have partnered with Cancer Care Nova Scotia to improve patient access to services and resources, improve patient care, and to better prepare and educate patients and their families; and

Whereas Dr. Andrew Padmos and Sandra Cook of Cancer Care Nova Scotia have established an effective partnership with those working in Patient Navigation for the South Shore District Health Authority;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize all those involved in the Patient Navigation program for their dedication to supporting patients living with cancer, and for establishing this very worthwhile program.

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 1755]

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there was a notice of motion that came forward from the member for Cape Breton West and I was wondering if he could read the "Therefore be it resolved again".

MR. SPEAKER: Just before I do that - it is extremely hard to hear when there is a lot of chatter in the room when we're voting on these resolutions. I would ask the honourable members to keep the noise down so that the Chair can hear the response from the members.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on the "Therefore be it resolved" part of his resolution.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations take all appropriate steps to protect Nova Scotians from such low-grade educational promotions.

Mr. Speaker, I ask for waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 661

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

Whereas five retired Pictou County teachers unveiled their new book, Slates to Computers, on October 26th at the Hector National Exhibit Centre in Pictou; and

[Page 1756]

Whereas this book is a group of histories of more than 40 one-room school houses that gave way to make West Pictou Consolidated School and each is written by a community person who knew that school; and

Whereas this book is dedicated to the memory of Alex Dunn, the much loved and respected West Pictou Consolidated School custodian from 1971 until 1986;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Doris MacMillan, Joy Robley, Marjorie Fraser, Janet McKay and Dolina Battist for compiling a great book, Slates to Computers and wish them every 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 Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 662

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

Whereas on October 5, 2003, Reverend Jane Clattenburg celebrated her first service as the new rector of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Birch Cove; and

Whereas Reverend Clattenburg held a special celebration of new ministry on October 26th for parish members, friends and neighbours to worship together and meet the new rector; and

Whereas the active congregation of St. Peter's Anglican Church, Birch Cove has been serving the communities of Birch Cove, Rockingham, Clayton Park, Wedgewood and Princes Lodge since its dedication in 1951;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Reverend Jane Clattenburg and wish her well in her new ministry at St. Peter's.

[Page 1757]

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. 663

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

Whereas Gloria Demers of Truro will receive the Jim Thompson Award as the Canadian Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year on November 25, 2003; and

Whereas Gloria Demers will receive her award at the annual Sports Celebrities Festival which raises funds to promote Special Olympics in Canada; and

Whereas Gloria Demers has devoted 22 years to the Cobequid Region Special Olympics program and is currently the sports co-ordinator;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Gloria Demers on being named the Canadian Special Olympics Volunteer of the Year and thank her for the 22 years of time and effort she's given to the Cobequid Region Special Olympics program.

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 1758]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 664

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

Whereas in July of 1998 the provincial government undertook a review of the Residential Tenancies Act by preparing a discussion paper on tenant-landlord issues called, Looking for Direction; and

Whereas this discussion paper involved the participation of stakeholders like the tenants' association, individual tenants, the Investment Property Owners' Association, mobile and mini home owners, the Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Manufactured Housing Association of Nova Scotia, the then Department of Municipal Affairs and Housing and Dalhousie Legal Aid; and

Whereas the written comments and recommendations were to be forwarded to the then Minister of Business and Consumer Affairs on or before November 15, 1998;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister responsible for the Residential Tenancies Act provide members of the Legislative Assembly with a copy of their comments and recommendations on the amendments to the Act.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 665

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

Whereas the Minister of Finance has been unable to explain why the province's finances are in such a deplorable state; and

[Page 1759]

Whereas his deputy minister and staff, all public servants, are doing their best in what can be described as trying circumstances; and

Whereas a coalition of NDP and PC members have joined forces to prevent the appearance of the Deputy Minister of Finance before the Public Accounts Committee where he could provide knowledgeable answers to the questions;

Therefore be it resolved that the minister and the Leader of the NDP advise their respective members of the Public Accounts Committee that if they are to be effective, they should not be preventing Nova Scotians from learning the truth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 666

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

Whereas Cape Breton's smallest First Nations' community has been designated a place of national historical significance by Heritage Canada; and

Whereas Chapel Island is home to many ancient burial sites dating back hundreds of years; and

Whereas Chapel Island has been an important centre of the Roman Catholic faith for the Mi'kmaq since the mid-18th Century when the French erected a Catholic church in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with Heritage Canada in recognizing the historic significance of Chapel Island and congratulate Chief Wilbert Marshall - and all the members of the Chapel Island community - on having Chapel Island designated a place of national historic significance.

[Page 1760]

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. 667

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

Whereas the need for a clear road plan for improvements in Timberlea-Prospect is evident; and

Whereas the road to the Sandy Cove Lighthouse and the SS Atlantic Park needs attention; and

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve to drive on safe, well-maintained roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works list the priorities for road improvements in the provincial constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 668

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

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

[Page 1761]

Whereas Belliveau Motors organized a Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer in late September in both Church Point and West Pubnico; and

Whereas these runs raised $10,819.95 which will be used for research in finding a cure for breast cancer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature extend our best wishes and gratitude to Belliveau Motors, their staff and volunteers for their active role in the national campaign - Run for the Cure for Breast Cancer.

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 Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 669

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

Whereas the Mothers Against Drug Driving organization has opened a new chapter to serve the residents of Lunenburg and Queens Counties; and

Whereas volunteers will continue to promote public awareness around the dangers of impaired driving and its horrible consequences; and

Whereas our government continues to work closely with MADD Canada to combat this violent crime;

Therefore be it resolved that the House congratulate the staff and volunteers of MADD Canada who will work to promote driving safety in Lunenburg and Queens Counties.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1762]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 670

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

Whereas in the final week of the 2003 election campaign, the Conservatives made a particular promise to residents of Chester-St. Margaret's; and

Whereas the governing Conservatives promised that they would review the license for the Horse Island finfish aquaculture site in Northwest Cove; and

Whereas residents of Northwest, Southwest, and Tilly Coves have not been contacted about such a review, nor have they seen any sign that the promised review is underway;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the government to keep faith with residents of Chester-St. Margaret's by immediately proceeding with the promised review of the Horse Island finfish aquaculture project and by ensuring that concerned residents can participate fully in that review.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 1763]

RESOLUTION NO. 671

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

Whereas the Beehive Adult Service Centre is a vocational training centre for individuals with special needs; and

Whereas the Beehive Adult Service Centre opened in 1968 in the South Berwick Community Hall to provide programs for four individuals, and later moved to Aylesford in 1969; and

Whereas the Beehive Adult Service Centre now provides programs for 30 residents in the western region of Kings County - programs focusing on job skills and life skills, including woodworking, sewing, baking, and operating the Enviro-Depot for the Resource Recovery Fund Board;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate the clients, staff, volunteers and board members on the occasion of their 35th Anniversary in the community, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 672

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

Whereas on Saturday, November 1, 2003, the Digby Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving will launch their Red Ribbon Kick-Off Campaign at the Digby Centre; and

[Page 1764]

Whereas this Red Ribbon Campaign will raise funds for the Digby Chapter so that they can continue to provide victim services and work with the community in an effort to raise awareness and prevent the violent crime of drunk driving; and

Whereas the red ribbon has become a well-recognized symbol which serves not only as a tribute to those who have lost their lives in impaired driving accidents but also as a reminder to drive safe and sober at all times;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend their best wishes to Mrs. Helena Winchester, President of the MADD Digby County Chapter and all of the volunteers as they embark on their 2003 Red Ribbon Campaign.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 673

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

Whereas the Village of Kingston under the coordination of Kelly Rice and the village commission became a pilot for Active Kids/Healthy Kids Program; and

Whereas 1,200 students, including the students of Kingston Elementary School, assembled at Pine Ridge Middle School to kick off this innovative program; and

Whereas this program is designed to provide long-term health outcomes through alternative activities and lifestyle changes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Village of Kingston, Pine Ridge Middle School and Kingston Elementary School students for their enthusiasm and energy as they engage in this Active Kids/Healthy Kids Program.

[Page 1765]

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. 674

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

Whereas the Weymouth Kiwanis Club kicked off a fundraising campaign a few months ago for the Weymouth Medical Centre; and

Whereas this campaign has raised over $180,000 toward this new facility and the purchase of medical equipment; and

Whereas this campaign's great success was made possible through the support of many residents and volunteers of Digby County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Weymouth Kiwanis Club for a very successful fundraising campaign and making the Weymouth Medical Centre a reality.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 1766]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:43 p.m. and end at 1:43 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - FRONT-LINE CARE: PROMISES - BREACH ADMIT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the chief executive officer of the Capital District Health Authority has admitted that the new limits on overtime will affect patient care, even though he's hoping that they won't have a major impact. Mr. Ford has admitted that the new measures will create more stress and nurses are saying that they are gravely concerned about what this means for patient care and at the same time, the Minister of Health is happy to support these measures. My question to the Minister of Health is, at what point is he prepared to admit that he and his government have broken their promise that front-line health care will not be affected by the current budget reduction exercise?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have, in fact, increased funding to the district by over $27 million. We have also indicated support to the district health authority for the fact that they have decided they are going to manage the overtime, which is a number previously of $7 million. Their objective is to reduce that to $6 million. We cannot help but indicate our support for that effort at management. We have their assurances that the health care of patients will be front and centre in their area of concern and I also share their concern that our nurses not become worn out and tired as a result of excessive overtime.

[12:45 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to table a copy of the staff replacement tracking form, which must now be completed prior to approving any overtime at the Capital District. This form is a patronizing series of bureaucratic questions that is eating up valuable bedside time for nurses. It allows only a minimum standard of patient care, replacing RNs with other staff, a policy, by the way, that is in direct contravention of a Canadian Nurses Association Position Statement which reads, "The safety of clients must never 'be compromised by substituting less qualified workers when the competencies of a registered nurse [RN] are required.'" So my question for the Minister of Health is this, when will you admit that these policy changes cannot be supported, and that he will have to put an end to the budget reduction exercises and meet with the DHAs to discuss this?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have made considerable progress with all of the DHAs in this province in coming to meet their budget targets of a balanced budget. Seven of the DHAs are virtually there, with respect to a balanced budget. Two others, we're

[Page 1767]

working very closely with. The Capital District, we're working closely with as well. We have the assurance of the Capital District that the steps that they have taken will not impact negatively on patient care to the detriment of patients. I repeat again, we support them in their endeavour to manage their resources and to meet their budget requirements. I don't accept the philosophy of members opposite to simply throw money at problems every time something arises. There are management tools that can be put in place and they're being used.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister, I believe, is derelict in his duty, because nurses are telling us that the only thing these measures are going to accomplish is the burnout of existing staff. Regrettably, they are also telling us that the last time they were treated with this kind of disrespect by this government was during Bill No. 68. Last week it was hiring freezes and bed closures, this week it's freezing overtime and attendant care, but all of it amounts to broken promises by this government. My question to the Premier is, since your Minister of Health has clearly let this situation get completely out of hand and since he has been unable to work with nurses and hospital administrators to avoid impacting patient care, will you step in and resolve the situation so that patients - patients - will not suffer?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, through you, I can say to the member opposite that this government will continue to manage the taxpayers' dollars responsibly. We will ask each and every agency, including the DHAs, to work effectively with each and every tax dollar they receive, to provide the services that Nova Scotians require. We must require, of all of the agencies that we fund, good business management practices that extract 100 cents out of every dollar.

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

HEALTH - FRONT-LINE CARE: PROMISES - BREACH ADMIT

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Despite assurances to the contrary, it's clear now that cuts that are necessary are happening at the front line for Nova Scotians. The Premier received, two days ago, as did I, a letter from a woman who says that her mother had her knee surgery cancelled just minutes before the knee replacement operation was supposed to happen, because there weren't beds available in the hospital where she was to have the surgery. My question for the Premier is, will you admit that the promise not to cut into front-line health care services has been broken?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can say to the member opposite, in case he has forgotten, this government has provided, on the operational side of the budgets of our hospital this year, an increase in funding of 7.5 per cent, which we believe will allow them to provide at least equivalent services to those they were able to provide in the year previous.

[Page 1768]

The member opposite understands that the cancelling of surgeries is not something that has only started to occur recently. I have been involved in the health care delivery sector since 1963, there have always been circumstances where at the last minute surgeries had to be cancelled for unforeseen circumstances. So, an individual case, while it's unfortunate because people do get very emotionally ready for surgery, but what the member opposite describes is not something that only started happening yesterday.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is right that it didn't start happening yesterday, it has been happening for the last four years. If I were to remind the Premier, the 7.5 per cent that he just spoke of is in fact largely (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GRAHAM: The Premier was reminding me that the 7.5 per cent that the government came forward with is in this year's budget but I would remind the Premier that of that 7.5 per cent, only 2 per cent or 2.5 per cent actually comes from provincial money. The rest is all federal money. The cuts that are coming, Mr. Speaker, are the result of financial mismanagement by this government.

My question for the Premier is, will the Premier assure Nova Scotians that he will put a stop to any cuts to front-line health care services as a result of their $32 million worth of cuts?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can remind the member opposite that, in fact, budgets have increased, there have been no cuts. But I also cannot resist the temptation to remind the member opposite that the federal government is not ponying up its share of health care delivery funding. The Romanow report was very, very specific. The federal government should have started with 18 per cent, increasing that funding by 1 per cent until it reached 25 per cent of health care funding in our province. They have failed to follow the recommendations of their own committee.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the scapegoats are starting already. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party has the floor.

MR. GRAHAM: The DHAs have not been able to manage but it's clear that the scapegoats are starting already. It's clear that this government is not going to be able to either balance its budget or provide front-line health care services that Nova Scotians need and we're seeing it day to day and we're seeing it in the Office of Health Promotion. Will the

[Page 1769]

Premier admit that there are cuts coming to the Office of Health Promotion, the much-vaunted Office of Health Promotion, as the result of these tax cuts?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Health Promotion.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, the budget this year is roughly in the $15 million range. We have made a commitment to double that budget over the next four years, during our mandate, and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - CAP. DIST. HEALTH AUTH.:

OVERTIME LIMITATION - EFFECTS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Earlier this week we learned that the Capital District Health Authority was limiting overtime and attendant care in order to balance their budget. Yesterday, the Minister of Health said he approves of these measures even though nurses and front-line health care professionals are telling him that it will affect patient care. According to the memo, attendants are to be used only in exceptional circumstances, for example, where there is a high risk of the patient causing extreme harm to self or others.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I'm concerned that putting that kind of qualifier on the use of attendants means that there are some patients who will not receive care and the services they need. My question to the Minister of Health is, will he explain to the House today how it will not affect front-line health care if people are being told to wait until a patient may cause extreme harm to themselves before being permitted to provide attendant care?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that we're dealing with a situation where the district health authority is going to begin managing overtime more effectively than they have in the past. They were spending $7 million on overtime. They're trying to reduce that to a level of $1 million. Good management will be supported by this government. We also have the commitment from the health authority that they will continue to ensure that good, sound patient care is in effect at all times. That's the qualifier that we're relying on. We have committed to additional funding in an increase of 7.1 per cent, we added $27 million to the Capital District Health Authority this year alone. We expect them to manage within their budget.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind the minister and the Premier that the reason we have attendant care is to replace patient restraint that really harmed patients in hospital care. The Premier will know this. The memo goes on to say that each request for an attendant will be supported by an evaluation of all options, including family assistance, private pay and alternatives, alternatives to attendant use. Private

[Page 1770]

pay for health care in a hospital, this is not acceptable. My question to the minister is, how can the Minister of Health justify offloading patient care onto families or requiring patients to pay for their own attendants?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the budget for that part of the DHA's operation has increased from $1.6 million to over $3 million in the period of a year. Surely it's appropriate when there's an increase in expenditures of that magnitude that some action be taken to evaluate the expenditures and the validity of those expenditures. That action is something that we are prepared to support. Again, we do so with the commitment from the district health authority that patient care will be first and foremost in their decision making.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister talks about numbers but we talk about patients. The memo outlines a lengthy process for approval to use attendant care. That's time away from the bedside, and it's also critical time if the patient is a high-risk patient. Yesterday the minister said he supports the measures that Capital Health is taking. So my question is simple, how can he support measures that withhold services from high-risk patients?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, indeed, numbers are a significant aspect of the delivery of health care in this province, especially with the Capital District, where they serve over 400,000 patients a year. The budget is over $477 million in a single year. We have a responsibility to be conscious of the numbers, provided that consciousness is done with the priority being the delivery of good health care and care of patients and in consideration for the hours worked by nurses on the floors. That's what a review of overtime and good management on overtime achieves.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just like to remind the honourable members to keep in mind the length of the questions and the answers, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CAP. DISTRICT HEALTH AUTH.:

ASSISTANCE REQUESTS - CONFIRM

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Recent media attention is focused on the restriction of overtime at the Capital District Health Authority. No matter what the Minister of Health says, that restriction is going to impact hands-on, front-line patient care. It's going to create a more stressful work environment, it could potentially lead to the exodus of nurses from this province. On October 18th, a spokesperson for the Department of Health stated the department would very seriously consider requests for money from the Capital District to pay for overtime or extra staff. My question for the minister is, has the minister received a request for assistance to pay for overtime and extra staff to deal with the impact of Hurricane Juan?

[Page 1771]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, no.

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a very serious issue that is going to impact patient care at the QE II. We have to get to the bottom of it. The memo sent to staff was very clear. It states that the damage done to facilities by Hurricane Juan is putting even greater demand on resources that are already overstretched and overcommitted. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister then simply pick up the phone and offer the assistance to the Capital District before something serious happens to front-line patient care?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I need to be a bit more expansive in my answer on this occasion. Perhaps you will permit me that time. The situation to which the honourable member refers, of course, was a period where nurses and staff, health care providers, at the Capital District were under considerable stress just to get the facility back in operation. As I indicated to members of the House previously, we are talking about nurses who were literally carrying, as fast as they could, equipment and pushing equipment and getting it out of harm's way so that it would be preserved and not have to be replaced. The Capital District very wisely made a decision that they could not push that workforce any further. They could not ask their nurses to work any harder to put additional time in. They managed and they managed appropriately and I applaud all who have worked in that recovery.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the government has found itself in a very serious game of tug of war with the health care needs of Nova Scotians at stake. They need to find $54 million this year in order to balance the budget and then find $147 million to pay for that silly tax scheme. To do that, they are prepared to accept the negative impact on front-line, direct patient care. They are also prepared to accept the consequences of further increased wait times as a result of Hurricane Juan. My question to the minister is, how can the Minister of Health state in the media that there will be no impact to front-line health care when clearly there will be?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the process that is underway is one of effective management. Effective management of overtime is one of the criteria. Now the honourable member references his concern for health care workers. Excessive overtime is not productive and excessive overtime does not lead to good nursing because nurses are tired as a result of that. So the management plan that is in effect is one which will be very effective. I can remind the honourable member that last October his Leader said that he, in fact, would balance the books of this province by cutting spending on health care. That was their answer.

[Page 1772]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH - DHA: BUDGETING -

AG'S RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In 1998 the Auditor General raised concerns about timely budgeting for the regional health boards and followed up the next year by saying, "The Department of Health should review and approve or disapprove key planning documents . . . which are submitted by its partners in health on a timely basis. It is essential for these organizations to know, on a timely basis, whether these initiatives are approved." At this point, today, in 2003, the district health authorities are still more than halfway into the budget year, waiting for their budgets to be approved. My question to the Minister of Health is, why has this government not acted on the Auditor General's recommendation for timely budgeting for the district health authorities?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have been involved in a very effective consultation with the district health authorities regarding their business plans and as a result of that consultation, we have identified a figure of $19.2 million additional funding which should be provided to the district health authorities. We have provided that funding. It has become part of the base of their operation. That is as a result of the consultations that we have had. We have also agreed that we should look at the cost of additional items relative to their operation related to contract agreements that we should consider. We are evaluating those and we will be responding to that in a manner that will relieve pressure on the health authorities. So the process that we have been involved in has been effective.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, let's be very clear about this. We are almost seven months into the budget year and the district health authorities still do not have approved budgets. Last year the Premier seemed to recognize that there was a problem. That's when he said that he favoured secure funding for three years and stability for health authorities, but at this point the DHAs are still waiting for their budget. So my question to the Premier is, why has the Premier changed his mind about the need for district health authorities to get timely budget approval?

[Page 1773]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the advantages that we have provided to the DHAs is that they now have, in terms of institutional funding, a multi-year commitment, a three-year commitment. We are the first province in Canada to give the hospital community that kind of financial flexibility to allow long-term planning. What the member opposite is really referring to is the business plans that do have to be approved by the Department of Health and, to do that appropriately, it does require a certain amount of examination, discussion, re-examination and discussion, but the process is moving along. The regional district health authorities now have the advantage - they know in advance the amount of money they're going to receive.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, when the Conservative Party was in Opposition, their Health Critic said, "The government is letting the pressure build on the bottom lines of the regional health boards . . . in order to relieve the pressure on its own bottom line." That is exactly what they are doing now, today, that they're on the other side of the House. So my final question to the Minister of Health is, when will this government provide the budgets to the district health authorities so that they and all of us can see their bottom line?

MR. MACISAAC: Very soon, Mr. Speaker. However, I want to add to what has already been said about the additional funding, the long-term funding that has been committed, that we have also come in the term of this government from a situation where health authorities were operating in double-digit deficits on an annual basis. That number has been reduced to the point where now we're dealing with numbers that are less than 1 per cent of the budget of this province relative to the financial challenges of the district health authorities. We have made tremendous progress and will continue to make more progress. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Liberal Party.

FIN. - MIN.: OPPOSITION PARTIES - MEET

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, on September 19th of this year, with the NDP members and members of our caucus, we had a meeting with the Minister of Finance and his officials and at that time we asked questions about the state of the province's finances. When we left the meeting, there were more questions than answers. I wrote a letter on that same day, September 19th, to the Minister of Finance and in that I said, and I will table this for the House, that I would like to take you up on your agreement to have further briefings on the state of the province's finances as soon as possible.

The minister did respond to me, but he said on that occasion that any follow-up meeting would have to happen after October 10th when he was meeting with the federal Minister of Finance. I conveyed our disappointment in a letter back to him and repeated our

[Page 1774]

request for a meeting as soon as possible. It is now October 28th. My question for the Minister of Finance is, when will the Minister of Finance agree to sit down, meet with the Opposition Parties, and discuss with them the state of the province's finances?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of issues that we had talked about at our meeting in September. I anticipate meeting with the members of the Opposition and indeed bringing forth more information to the people of Nova Scotia within the next two weeks.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to that meeting and I hope that it does indeed come in the next two weeks. The Public Accounts Committee exists to help ensure that governments are held accountable for their fiscal situation, and our members made a clear request to that committee on October 8th, repeated on October 15th, that we wanted the Deputy Minister of Finance to appear before the Public Accounts Committee to speak about the challenges of equalization in this province. Yesterday I received a memo from the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee, signalling more delays and, given the pressing questions of equalization, this is a troubling development that I intend to raise at the Public Accounts Committee tomorrow. My question for the Minister of Finance is, will he, today, publicly assure Nova Scotians and members of his caucus that he has no objection to the Deputy Minister of Finance appearing before the Public Accounts Committee a week from tomorrow, November 5, 2003?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Finance has always worked with all the different boards and commission that have been around, and we will continue to do that. As people are looking for information, we will provide them, and as people request people to come, we will be happy to do that. If we have a request from people, I am sure we will be able to accommodate them.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, the issue goes to delays that are happening. This government has earned itself a reputation for being elusive, if not secretive, with respect to the finances of the province. It appears that they may have found some allies in the Public Accounts Committee. My question for the Premier is, whether or not, given the answer from the Minister of Finance, he will signal publicly today to the people at his caucus and to Nova Scotians that he has no objections to the Deputy Minister of Finance appearing before the Public Accounts Committee a week from tomorrow, November 5, 2003?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that when the Public Accounts Committee sets its agenda, the agenda will be followed. The people in this government, both on the political side and the administrative side, are prepared to co-operate with the Public Accounts Committee.

[Page 1775]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - CASEWORK LEVELS:

LBR./MGT. APPROACH - AGREEMENT

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. An alarming number of employment support and income assistance clients and potential clients are complaining about their inability to get help when they need it. Phone calls go for weeks unreturned for routine enquiries, and even in crisis situations speaking to a caseworker is a challenge. In 2002, the NSGEU released a report into casework levels at Community Services. So I ask the minister, when will Community Services agree to an overall joint labour/management approach to addressing these issues?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up the point that we have over 32,000 cases with Community Services staff. They work very diligently to serve those clients, and by and large I am comfortable that the reports back that I'm getting, both from clients and from staff, are that they are well satisfied with the service.

MS. MORE: In this caseload overload report, tabled in the Legislature last year, a client states that files end up lying around and this is a liability issue; some are as old as three months, without having been addressed. The report points out that although workers cannot meet department standards, there is no clear liability protection in place if tragedy should befall a client. Mr. Speaker, I ask the minister, through you, how many clients are falling through the cracks because there is a shortage of staff available to help them in a timely manner?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for giving me the opportunity to point out that we are well on our way to being completely computerized within the department. The idea of files being left lying about would seem odd, because it's at the stroke of a key that you can draw a client's file up and deal with it. I would say that before I was minister, I had the pleasure of going in and working with the local supervisor on behalf of clients. I found that they were very efficient and I think well able to deal with the expectations of them.

[1:15 p.m.]

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, the issue here is timely response, which is impossible for the current staff at Community Services due to the caseload. A senior staff member indicated recently that the staff to client ratio at Employment Support and Income Assistance is 1:160. That person admits caseworkers rely heavily on phone contact. My question to the minister is, how can he expect workers to adequately meet the needs of clients having complex issues with infrequent phone calls?

[Page 1776]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, actually this gives me a chance to point out that the very significant decline in the Community Services caseload during the term of this government and the previous John Hamm Government has, in fact, lightened the caseloads. In fact, during a resolution last week, the honourable member got up and questioned the point that I made that we're still putting just as much money into Employment Support and Income Assistance and she was questioning that assertion. What I would like her to do is perhaps go to the Estimates Book and she would find that there's more than one line in the Estimates Book and in fact we are keeping the support in there for the existing client load even though there are fewer of them and they are getting better service. Thank you.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - COXHEATH QUARRY:

PERMIT APPLICATIONS - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Earlier today I presented in this House a petition with over 800 names of residents from Coxheath and area, a residential and agriculture community in Cape Breton South. This petition is against the establishment of a quarry in their area. I have met with a committee of residents who say they do not want a quarry anywhere near the Coxheath area and the Cape Breton Regional Councillor, Claire Detheridge, agrees with that stand. This is a residential area, almost exclusively made up of owner-occupied homes with substantial property investments. They have a right to protect their property and they do not want a quarry. My question to the minister is, are you aware of any applications to your department for a permit to operate a quarry in Coxheath?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, at this time I am not aware of any application.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, recently a large parcel of land - 350 acres to be exact, was purchased in Coxheath by a company that would have interest in a quarry operation with their construction business. I will table a map that shows clearly how close this property that was purchased is to the residential areas in question. My first supplementary to the minister is, have you personally or has your department been made aware of this purchase and its possible use by the new owners of the property?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, no, I haven't been made aware and I certainly will look into this and ensure that I get up to date on the issue.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I might say, Mr. Speaker, that nobody buys 350 acres of land in an area to look at it, particularly a construction company. I would imagine if the minister hasn't heard, he will. The residents of Coxheath and surrounding areas are understandably worried about their properties in this well-planned suburban neighbourhood

[Page 1777]

and do not want their lives upset by the possibility of a quarry in their midst. My final supplementary to the minister is, will you guarantee these concerned residents that you will visit the site and meet with the concerned residents affected before you issue any permit for a quarry in the Coxheath area?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly will guarantee that we will follow the rules that are in place and we will ensure that everything takes place as it should. Thank you.

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

TOURISM & CULTURE - SHERBROOKE VILLAGE:

FUNDING CUTS - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Tourism and Culture. Employees at Sherbrooke Village in Guysborough County have been notified that full-time staff will be cut by 20 per cent and staff will see their wages and hours cut dramatically. One long-time employee will be taking home under $250 a week after December 17th. A hard thing to take just before Christmas. This staff member, like many others in the community, is very concerned about the cuts to a major source of employment in an economically challenged area. My question to the Minister of Tourism and Culture is, why is Sherbrooke Village hit so hard by funding cuts?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, last year the budget for Sherbrooke Village was $919,610. This year, the budget for Sherbrooke Village is $919,610. The fact is that Sherbrooke, like many other museums . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: So it has been cut.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, no, there wasn't a cut, it was the same amount as last year. The fact of the matter is, like many other museums, with less visitation, it affected their revenues this year. They have to make some changes to make sure they live within their means, to live within their budget. They are making those needed changes.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, 2003 tourism figures show that the Eastern Shore only gets 2 per cent of the tourism dollars spent in Nova Scotia. This part of the province actually gets the lowest tourism income in any region of the province, which means that it has the highest potential. A report from the Guysborough County Regional Development Authority cites government downsizing as one of the major barriers to economic growth in the area. I ask the minister, what consideration was given to the special status of Guysborough County when Sherbrooke Village started funding cuts?

[Page 1778]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as indicated in my last answer, the amount that the Province of Nova Scotia, through the Department of Tourism and Culture gave this year relative to last year is the same amount of money. The fact of the matter is, that an investment of over $900,000 in Sherbrooke Village is a significant investment on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia and it does make a difference for the people of the Eastern Shore and will continue to make a difference for the people of the Eastern Shore.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, as we've seen this year, there has been a decrease in tourism in our province, which makes next year most important for these communities, especially in rural Nova Scotia, to be able to sustain their growth and hopefully increase their tourism in those areas. Guysborough County suffers from one of the highest rates of out-migration in Canada and the most highly trained and skilled young people leaving this area, the communities rely on Sherbrooke Village for jobs and for an ability to survive devastating blows to other resource sectors in their community. My question to the minister is, how can the people of Guysborough grow their economy if one of the two major attractions is cut back?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is that the board there is doing a very good job on behalf of Sherbrooke Village and it is doing a very good job with respect to heritage in our province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture. (Interruption)

Order, please or we will be saying goodbye to a few members very shortly from both sides of the House.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned, the commission is doing an excellent job in Sherbrooke. They do have a budget, which they have to live within

but the member is asserting that there have been cuts made this year compared to last year from the Department of Tourism and Culture and it is false. The fact of the matter is, the same investment is being made this year as was last year.

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

SYSCO - CLEANUP: DETAILS - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Sydney Steel Corporation Act. For some reason it seems that this government isn't interested in telling Nova Scotians what's happening at Sydney Steel. There hasn't been one recent update from this government about the progress at the site, instead this government

[Page 1779]

has passed the buck onto Ernst & Young and when you visit Ernst & Young's Web site it is very scant on details. Even if you go to Sysco's Web site, some things like demolition were not updated, it was last updated in May. Since there is a great deal riding on this from both the government's standpoint and from the community's standpoint. I want to ask the minister why has your government refused to be forthcoming about what's happening at Sydney Steel?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't think there is any lack of information with regard to what's going on at Sydney Steel. If the honourable member has any questions respecting Sydney Steel, I will ask him to address them to me.

MR. GOSSE: Throwaway answers like that don't do anyone any good, Mr. Speaker, with people's livelihoods at stake, the situation needs to be treated more seriously than this.

In August there were allegations that corners were being cut in chemical sampling. Ex-steelworkers have been telling me that interviews are ongoing for dismantling work at this present time, but they're not being given straight answers on when things will be started. My question, Mr. Speaker, through you, is, does the minister actually know what the real state of affairs is at Sydney Steel and, if so, why won't he update the members of this House before the session is adjourned?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member was looking for an up-to-date status report on what's going on at Sydney Steel, he's welcome to it and I will provide it to him.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier made a commitment that he would take care of steelworkers. I can tell you that most of the steelworkers I talk to these days don't feel like they've been treated very well by this government. Will the minister commit to delivering a full explanation of the state of affairs at Sydney Steel to all members of this House before the session is adjourned, and will he make that commitment today?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, every separated steelworker from the Sydney Steel has been offered a position in the remediation, when those positions are available. The honourable member, I would suggest, is trying to suggest that there's something going on at the site that is being hidden from the people of Sydney. That's not so; in fact the site is open to people from Sydney if they wish to go out and tour the site, except they must make arrangements to do so.

[Page 1780]

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

COMMUN. SERV. - AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROG.:

FUNDING - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. When the federal government contributed $18.6 million to the Affordable Housing Program in September 2002, the former minister committed to matching those funds and announced that up to 1,500 affordable housing units would be built; however, the minister has not lived up to that commitment. In August, his response to criticism that he hadn't spent any of that money was, he simply needed time to get a plan ready. So my question to the minister is, after almost 14 months of sitting on this fund, has the minister managed to find the time to formulate a plan and, if so, would he share this plan with members of the House today?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, it's one of my favourite subjects, actually, because I am looking forward to many announcements over the ensuing months; in fact we have agreed on a way forward, and we are preparing the appropriate material for an official launch. Of course, in fact, we have already opened up one of the affordable housing units that has come out of this program.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I believe, to reference the minister's own previous statements, 20 out of 1,500 is not exactly something to jump up with joy about at this juncture. When this federal-provincial fund was set up, certain conditions were agreed upon for the expenditure of monies. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain to this House his obligations, as he sees them, in administering the expenditure of the $36 million Affordable Housing Program?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is quite right, there are stipulations in terms of how we are able to invest that money into affordable housing in the province. That is administered by the federal government through Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation, and of course through my department here in Nova Scotia. The program that is coming forward will address both CMHC's concerns and our own concerns as a province.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated last April that he was cutting $8.9 million out of this program. Obviously the province is looking at reducing its financial commitment to this program. My question to the minister is, will he confirm, for all members of the House today, that he has been paying attention to the issue of cutting funding from this program more so and not as much as he is focused on the original commitment of 1,500 affordable housing units?

[Page 1781]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I try to be positive about the federal government's involvement in this. Yes, back in 1993, they did pull out of public housing and it was a welcome change to see them coming back and accept this responsibility. When they made that decision back in 1993, the province undertook to administer the public housing portfolio. We have done well during that time, partly because of the lower interest rates, and we've developed something which we called the deferred federal contribution account in the housing corporation. That gives us some flexibility as to the monies that we draw out in any given year and that's what we are referring to - there were no cuts.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

NAT. RES. - QUARANTINED WOOD: MILL - DESIGNATE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Acting Minister of Natural Resources. Many woodlot owners hit by Hurricane Juan were already suffering as a result of the brown spruce longhorn beetle and their woodlots were under quarantine. Hurricane Juan was the second crisis to hit these woodlot owners - now even more of their woodlots have been destroyed. On Friday the federal Agriculture Minister said he would be willing to work with the province to help these owners salvage some of their wood before it was too late. So my question for the acting minister, will you work with the federal government to designate a mill to handle the quarantined wood?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite and to the House, as well as people involved in the wood industry, obviously, the same rules applied with the brown spruce longhorn beetle in regard to quarantine will apply for wood affected from the areas. There was a mill designated to handle that wood within that zone and I assume those same rules will apply.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, that may be a large assumption and the minister should be aware that the volume of wood that is presently needed to be processed is probably greater than anybody had expected so there may be a need for another mill, or other mills, to be designated. I want to ask the minister, when can we expect your government to push the case with the federal minister to designating other mills for these infected woods?

MR. FAGE: Obviously, the member opposite is making a number of assumptions, but I think the guidelines are very clear when you're dealing with CFIA and an invasive species and certainly the quarantine area is where that wood has to be milled, if the bark hasn't been removed previously at the site of origin for the wood, and those rules will be applied to whether it's one mill or 10 mills when that wood is processed.

[Page 1782]

MR. MACDONELL: I hate the thought that maybe making assumptions would somehow put me in the same line of thought as the acting minister, but I want the minister to be aware that we're aware already of the rules that have to be applied. What we're asking the minister is if he will push for other mills to be designated to handle that extra volume of wood. So can I get a commitment from the minister today that he will push the federal minister on this case?

MR. FAGE: The member's question is quite redundant because the policy ensures that that happens.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC. - BUDGET CUTS: SCH. BDS. - EXCLUSION CONFIRM

MR. LEO GLAVINE: My question is to the Minister of Education. Mr. Speaker, last month the Finance Minister said he had to reduce spending by $32 million in order to balance the budget. We know that number has now grown to $54 million. So last week I asked the Education Minister to guarantee for Nova Scotians that school boards in this province would not have to find ways to cut their spending for this budget year, but instead of answering a question put to him about cuts within his department, the minister's response was that the Minister of Finance, in response to a question the other day, indicated that front-line Primary to Grade 12 education would not be affected. My question is, since the minister won't answer the question put to him, does the minister stand by the Hamm Government's promise that school boards across the province will not have to find ways to cut their budgets?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Primary to Grade 12 classrooms are up and running. They will continue to run and any change in anything should not be affected unless it is done by the school boards.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotian students, parents and teachers are concerned that school boards are being asked to make cuts that could well total hundreds of thousands, even millions, of dollars. If this is the case, how does a budget cut to school boards in the province square with this government's promise that Primary to Grade 12 would not be impacted because of the Hamm Government's fiscal mismanagement? This minister must do more to ease the minds of students, parents and teachers in this province and one way is to tell them as it is. My question is a simple one. Yes or no, are the budgets of school boards in the province being cut?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the answer to that question is one which has been given time and time again. The budgets of the school boards in this province were increased this year.

[Page 1783]

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, even with the simple question of whether or not school board budgets be cut this year, the Minister of Education refuses to answer. This government is breaking its promise to the people of Nova Scotia by inflicting more cuts on an education system when it promised it would not. The Minister of Education is more concerned about not answering questions about government actions that will dramatically affect students and parents in the province than telling them where he plans to make cuts within the education system. In light of what I'm hearing from school board members, my question again for the Minister of Education is a simple one, yes or no, are the budgets of school boards in the province being cut?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, he implied that there had been cuts to the Education budget. I told him that simply wasn't the case. He has to begin to listen. The budgets for the school boards this year have been increased.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RDM RECYCLING:

WATER TESTS - RESULTS PUBLICIZE

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. This question has proven intractable over the last few years. The residents of Williamswood and Harrietsfield have been fighting the expansion of RDM Recycling for years. They are concerned that if the company, which is actually on the site of a former auto salvage yard, is allowed to bury construction and debris material, well water and local waterways will be endangered. It's my understanding that recent water tests have returned troubling results and the Department of Environment and Labour is now withholding the permits for RDM. The result of these tests is incredibly important for the community but my office has been told it will have to file a freedom of information request to obtain the results. My question is, would you arrange for the results of these tests to be made public immediately?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, because of the information that is included with regard to the test results, they need to file through freedom of information to ensure that no personal information that shouldn't be given out isn't given out. So at this point in time, they will have to apply through the freedom of information.

MS. RAYMOND: It's difficult to imagine how much personal information is included in a water test. However. (Laughter) Mr. Speaker, HRM community council actually rezoned this site to permit its use as a construction and demolition site, although city staff had recommended specifically against it. Now that these tests also indicate that putting this use on this location isn't a good idea, residents are even more fearful. For more than a year, they have been asking for a full environmental assessment and have been refused. My

[Page 1784]

question is, will you please commit to a full Class II environmental assessment before granting this disposal permit?

MR. MORASH: We are working with the residents of the area and we are working with the company to ensure that the remediation takes place. What needs to take place to ensure the protection of the people in the area will take place.

MS. RAYMOND: I'm not sure that people were really aware that remediation was already an issue. However, HRM and this government have appeared to make decisions without considering the input of the neighbouring communities. Perhaps if I set up a meeting, would you please come to speak with the residents of these communities to tell them about these recent developments, hear their concerns, and explain whatever remediation it is that has become necessary?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding right now we've contacted the affected individuals and we've contacted the company involved, and we are working through to make sure that they get all the information that is necessary under the circumstances to ensure their health and safety.

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

PREM. - CBRM EQUALIZATION/TRANSFER PMTS:

STUDY - PROVIDE

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Recently officials at the Cape Breton Regional Municipality indicated they had a study executed by two professors from a university in Newfoundland concluding that CBRM is not getting its fair share of equalization and transfer payments. Would the Premier be kind enough to provide his analysis of that particular report?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a good question because it is a report that does require some analysis. I had a recent conversation with Minister Clarke and we agreed that the best way forward was to have an independent analysis of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality report, to provide it to not only the members of the House but also to the people of Cape Breton. It's certainly my understanding that the report leads one to believe that there has not been significant investment in Cape Breton and we all know that not to be the case.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Premier is, would he be kind enough to indicate who is this independent expert or panel of experts going to do this analysis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I don't have that name at my disposal, but we are talking about doing it internally.

[Page 1785]

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's a little disappointing, given the inference that the Premier left, as if the independent expert had already been drawn upon. My question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, has he, or anyone in his department, done a cost analysis to ascertain as to whether CBRM is in fact receiving its fair share?

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

Order, please. Just before we go to Government Business, the honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce a group of students who are joining us today in the gallery - some in the Speaker's Gallery and some in the west gallery. These are Grade 9 students from Clayton Park Junior High. There are two classes of them and they're accompanied today by the vice-principal of the school, Jamie Moore, and their teacher, Joe Murphy, both of whom were here two weeks ago with another group, as well as a parent, Mr. Nodine, who was here as well two weeks ago and has volunteered twice to come to Province House. If the students would please rise, we would like to acknowledge them in the House. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests in the gallery today.

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.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise and speak on third reading of this bill. First, of course, I move third reading.

[Page 1786]

Nova Scotians have debated the pros and cons of Sunday shopping for many years; this bill will bring this debate to a close. It will give the people of Nova Scotia a chance to make a decision on whether or not we have Sunday shopping and whether or not that Sunday shopping is year-round or for part of the year only.

[1:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is the kind of resolution which will, I believe, provide an end to this debate. I believe that Nova Scotians support their opportunity to have a voice, an important voice on this important issue. The Government of Nova Scotia has been working with respect to this matter for some considerable period of time. We indicated that we would bring forward a bill that provides the best worker protection in the country, and I can honestly tell members that I believe this bill provides the best worker protection for those workers who are now not having to work on Sunday and who may end up having their employer opening on Sunday as a result of the passage of this bill, it will give them the best worker protection in the country.

We indicated, the Premier indicated, that that was his goal when this debate was begun. It remains our commitment. Mr. Speaker, I think it's something that all members of this House can be proud of, the level of commitment that we have demonstrated to making sure that that group of Nova Scotians whose family life may be impacted as a result of a change in Sunday shopping patterns in Nova Scotia are protected. Quite bluntly put, it will give them the right to choose to work on Sunday or to choose not to work on Sunday, and to do so, if they choose not to work on Sunday, without fear of reprisal or recrimination from their employers.

Mr. Speaker, I should also indicate that the bill provides protection for those small business owners who choose not to open on Sunday, as well. Many small businesses in Nova Scotia, where the owners of those small businesses are in a mall or a similar kind of arrangement, there was a concern that they would be pressured by the landlord of their premises to open on a Sunday, it's simply not viable either for economic reasons or for personal reasons. Again, we wanted to provide the level of protection to this group of Nova Scotians to ensure that they were protected from that.

I can also indicate, Mr. Speaker, that I was very pleased to see that all Parties in this House voted for a series of amendments moved by the New Democratic Party at the Law Amendments Committee that will provide an increased and improved level of worker protection to Nova Scotians. Those things have been much touted, for example, after 48 hours of work, now we can be sure that workers who are required to work more than 48 hours in a week will receive time and a half of their actual hourly wage and not time and a half of the minimum wage, which of course provided no previous protection for anyone who made more than $9 an hour, roughly speaking.

[Page 1787]

We also, of course, have improved the bill by making sure that, for example, if someone has a complaint about Sunday shopping and how they were discriminated against in their workplace, that those complaints can be dealt with in a very timely way. We obviously have another great benefit for Nova Scotian workers, one which I believe the vast majority of Nova Scotia employers were providing anyway, and that is simply three weeks of paid vacation to people who worked more than eight years. Whether or not everyone was doing it or not, it now gives people the assurance of knowing that they are going to get that benefit guaranteed. There is a certain sense of security that I believe that brings to Nova Scotian workers as a result of this very positive change, because now it's not a discretionary item, after eight years with an employer you have a right to that paid benefit.

Mr. Speaker, I think that overall the bill is a better bill. It was a great bill when introduced, it's a better bill today as a result of positive . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, would the honourable minister be kind enough to accept a short question on a couple of things . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I think that time is past. I think that we always have tomorrow, if the honourable member would like to ask a question. I'm glad to take a question on (Interruptions) There won't be a bill tomorrow. With all due respect, it may be a bill that has passed the House, but in any event.

Mr. Speaker, to continue along, what we have today is a good bill, one that I think all members of this House should be proud of. It provides a good level of worker protection. It improves labour standards. I might add that the bill - and this is an important component, because some people have talked about this - was always intended to improve labour standards issues. The bill was clearly one that was mandated from the beginning, from the moment of introduction to improve labour protection in Nova Scotia. It was when we focused on the Sunday shopping issue that we believed that it was also important to focus on the worker protection issue. In many respects, they do go hand in glove. That is the reason why this bill was never purely about the Retail Business Uniform Closing Day Act, but in fact always involved labour legislation in this province.

Mr. Speaker, with that, I would end my initial comments on third reading, other than to say that I appreciate the support from all members of the House in the Law Amendments Committee with respect to the amendments, and I believe we have a good bill.

[Page 1788]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will not be speaking long on this bill. I think that it's important to say that the idea of full-time Sunday shopping, whether you agree with the plebiscite on this bill or not, will be decided on another day. That will be decided then. I believe, more importantly, that we have, whatever happens out of that exercise, vast movements in and around labour standards. Labour standards have sat dormant for over a quarter of a century in this province. Through the negotiations, and I call them negotiations, and people may want to characterize them in another way but I would characterize them that way, saying, it's been my experience in that field that you don't always get the whole loaf. Sometimes you have to give something to get something. This was truly that, a give-and-take, one that we tried to get, in this instance, the minority government to work.

As I said in second reading, I paraphrased the Premier, saying he wants minority government to work, but realizes it's not proper that any one of the three Parties compromises their principles. I think this is one we've tried to do that on. I believe, therefore, it's one that my Party has supported with the amendments and moved amendments, and that's why we're here today at third reading hoping this bill will go forward. I think, in the long range, for generations to come, Nova Scotians will benefit from the changes in labour standards. With that said, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

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

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I won't repeat much of what I said yesterday in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills, concerning this bill. I would say that the bill is better than nothing. It certainly is a step in the right direction. I would like to congratulate the many people in Nova Scotia, who through their various means managed to keep this issue alive at a time when the government was suggesting that this wouldn't be resurrected for another five years.

I think this is an important opportunity for us to recognize that compromises can be made. This is not a perfect compromise from our perspective, but I think that it is one brought about largely as a result not just of the tenacity of Nova Scotians but the tenacity of the Liberal caucus, who for the last year and a half have continued to press this particular issue. The changes that have been made, specifically with respect to the Labour Standards Code, I would suggest are positive ones. We are, however, disappointed that there wasn't a greater opportunity for Nova Scotians to be consulted.

One of the approaches that, certainly, I think I have had opportunity to discuss with the other Leaders of the other Parties is that there needs to be greater consultation when it comes to doing the business of Nova Scotia. This would have been an opportunity for us to walk the walk when it comes to the notion of consultation and allow people who are affected by this legislation, particularly small businesses, small construction businesses for example,

[Page 1789]

to come before the Law Amendments Committee and express to the Law Amendments Committee their concerns about this. We don't want the precedent to be set in this minority situation where we are having wholesale trades that change the complexion of what Nova Scotians were put on notice was to be debated before the House. While we welcome these changes and we think that they are a step in the right direction, we think that there should have been more consultation, people should have been invited in to speak about the Labour Standards changes.

I would reiterate what I said yesterday with respect to the need for us to come back to the House in the Spring of this year to speak about further changes to the Labour Standards Code. Certainly that would only happen after there's an opportunity for a committee of the House or some other vehicle to consult with Nova Scotians to find out how we can improve this bill.

There are two amendments that were turned down that I think we must highlight in fairness to all of this. The member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage I think fairly suggested yesterday, while some of the Labour Standards Code's improvements are positive steps, they aren't particularly related to Sunday shopping. What's unusual is that two things that were left off the table in the discussions that Parties had around this bill related to Sunday shopping and whether or not Sunday shopping was going to go forward. The most significant of those relates to the consecutive number of hours that somebody would be off before they're obliged to return to work. Nationally, when people talk about the need for someone to have a day off in a seven day period, what they imagine is that somebody goes to bed on one night, has the full day the next day and wakes up for breakfast on the next day going back to work. By changing the Labour Standards Code to ensure that the 24 consecutive hours was changed to 36 consecutive hours, what we could have allowed for was those many people who finish work on Friday evening to be able to return to work no sooner than Monday morning. That's related to Sunday shopping. That is a direct amendment that we think is a positive step and we ask the question, what harm could have come from allowing the workers of Nova Scotia to have that modest improvement in Labour Standards? Instead, we chose to make other changes that I think aren't as connected to the question of Sunday shopping.

The other amendment that we proposed in the Committee of the Whole House on Bills that I would like to reiterate is the one that relates to whether or not Nova Scotians should have been given a better opportunity to sample what Sunday shopping is all about. What the visitors in the gallery and the members on the floor will have an opportunity to sample if they choose is Sunday shopping on Sundays leading up to Christmas. What they won't be able to choose before they vote next November is Sunday shopping through the months of July or August for example.

[Page 1790]

If we are to provide a balance, if we are to level the playing field, Nova Scotians should at least know what they are voting for. What harm would have come from allowing the people of Nova Scotia to have a more substantial and balanced sample of what it is that they would be getting involved in than to have Sunday shopping as a sample during the months of July and August? One can't necessarily forecast what the result would be. Perhaps Sunday shopping in July, August, June, September of next year would have led to more people voting against the plebiscite on Sunday shopping. Who knows? That will be determined by Nova Scotians. But, at least it would have provided them with a more substantial sample of what it means to test this thing that every other jurisdiction in North America has in some form or other except Nova Scotia.

So, on the whole, this is a small step forward. It's one that our caucus campaigned on in terms of moving forward with some form of Sunday shopping. We favour the legislation in its present form, don't feel that it goes far enough, but at the end of the day, I can signal again that it will be our caucus that supports this piece of legislation. Thank you.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm honoured to rise today to speak about this bill. I come from one of the most ethnically diverse communities in Atlantic Canada and we have many, many churches in my community. Sunday has always been a family day with people going to church and family dinners and everything else. I think I can live with this bill because it's for six Sundays and the changes that we got in the Labour Standards Code are well worth it to the workers in the retail industry. I think this is good for the people of Nova Scotia and they can voice their opinion in the Fall whether they like it or they don't like it. Thank you.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise to make a few points on the Sunday shopping issue also. The changes that were suggested by the Liberal Party yesterday, one I have to highlight is where the honourable Minister of Justice stated in Law Amendments Committee that when decisions are made, they should be made by a vote, and what better to do than give people as much information as you possibly can before they do vote. We all have experienced Sunday shopping prior to Christmas, and we're going to experience it again this year.

[2:00 p.m.]

Why not, as the tourism industry suggested and we suggested, a period next year from May to September, in a less hectic time? The tourism industry could get a clear flavour for it, and the regular shoppers could get a clear flavour for Sunday shopping, and that would

[Page 1791]

give them both sides of the coin, the hectic time before Christmas and the more relaxed time during the summertime. Then, when they go to the polls, they could make a decision.

Mr. Speaker, the other point I want to make is the very fact that the honourable members of the NDP, who are supposedly the protectors of the workers, voted that down and also voted down when we tried to get 36 hours of rest time rather than 24 hours. They voted that down - and I copied down the numbers, 36-10. So they voted completely with the government on that. But the part that disturbs me the most is what I have here, and I don't know if the wording I will use is unparliamentary or not - maybe I should ask the Speaker if double-crossed is unparliamentary?

MR. SPEAKER: It is. It definitely is.

AN HON. MEMBER: Don't use it.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Then I won't use that. What about speaking with a forked tongue or leading people down the wrong path, is that unparliamentary? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Then I won't use that. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would tell the honourable member yes, those phrases are all unparliamentary, and I would ask him not to use them.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Maybe, Mr. Speaker, I will just use the statement that somebody was misled, if that's okay? There are 55 municipalities that do not want the plebiscite. What happened? What I have here and what I intend to table is, in writing, the NDP's commitment to the UNSM saying, would the government force municipalities to hold a plebiscite on Sunday shopping in conjunction with the 2004 municipal elections, and they unequivocally stated, no. What the NDP did was they went against what they decided they would do.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to table that. As a result of that they did not stand up for the municipalities, as they promised that they would do. I look forward to supporting the bill in the form that it is - it's not what we would like, but it's the best we can get right now for the shoppers and the general public. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable Minister of Justice it will be to close the debate on Bill No. 2.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 1792]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable members for their comments on third reading today. I am also gratified to see that notwithstanding some perhaps philosophical differences, we've been able to resolve those philosophical differences and it appears that all three Parties in the House will be supporting the bill. With that, Mr. Speaker, I would move third reading of Bill No. 2.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for third reading of Bill No. 2. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

A recorded vote is being called for.

We will ring the bells until the Whips are satisfied that all are in the Chamber who wish to vote.

[2:04 p.m.]

[The Division bells were rung.]

MR. SPEAKER: Are the Whips satisfied?

[The Clerk calls the roll.]

[2:18 p.m.]

YEAS NAYS

Mr. Clarke

Mr. Morse

Mr. Rodney MacDonald

Mr. Russell

Dr. Hamm

Mr. Baker

Mr. Muir

Mr. Christie

Mr. Fage

Mr. MacIsaac

Ms. Bolivar-Getson

Mr. d'Entremont

Mr. Barnet

Mr. Morash

Mr. Taylor

Mr. DeWolfe

Mr. Dooks

[Page 1793]

Mr. Chisholm

Mr. Langille

Mr. Hines

Mr. O'Donnell

Mr. Chataway

Ms. Massey

Mr. MacDonell

Mr. Corbett

Ms. Maureen MacDonald

Mr. Dexter

Mr. Deveaux

Mr. Manning MacDonald

Mr. Graham

Mr. MacKinnon

Ms. Whalen

Mr. Gaudet

Mr. Glavine

Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

Ms. More

Mr. Parker

Ms. Raymond

Mr. Epstein

Mr. Gosse

Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid)

Mr. Estabrooks

Mr. Gerald Sampson

Mr. Theriault

Mr. McNeil

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

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

Ordered that the 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, I believe we have an introduction first.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction.

[Page 1794]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I will do this introduction in French and translate it to English afterwards. M. l'président, j'aimerai acceuillir dans notre chambre d'assemblé aujourd'hui, une groups déchange du l'école de carrefour et le lycée Guy - Chauvet, Loudun, en France.

We have a group of exchange students from l'école du Carrefour and from le lycée Guy - Chauvet, Loudun, en France. So I would like the members to rise and welcome our visitors from a long ways away. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 17.

Bill No. 17 - Youth Secretariat Act.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable Government House Leader for putting this on his agenda today. Very short, it's essentially a bill to require an annual report to be provided to the Legislature, or to the Clerk of the Legislature, on an annual basis. It's something I know is very important to the Minister of Education and he will be, as I understand, including it in a broader-base policy issue on a future day. I thank him for the opportunity to forward this, and I so move.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 17. Is the House ready for the question? Would all those in favour say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 1795]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise, to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. The honourable Opposition House Leader will give us the business for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow our caucus will be calling Bill No. 3, which is on long-term care, and we'll be recalling Resolution No. 51 on the Autumn House strike. I do move adjournment of the House until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

We have reached the moment of interruption.

[Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government has neglected Health care throughout the Annapolis Valley.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - CARE: ANNA. VALLEY - NEGLECTED

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, this is the third time that Valley health has come before the House. Obviously, it still is an issue of major concern to residents of the Valley as to providing some long-term plan, future direction for health care. Residents, and certainly the medical community, are in a state of growing alarm with the deteriorating situation that we continue to be faced with. We've had cuts going back over a 10-year period, but each one now has that much more impact since it is pretty well a bare-bones operation.

[Page 1796]

The acute care bed situation is a great example, where at Valley Regional there are 37, there are 22 at Soldiers Memorial, and four at Annapolis, for a total of 63 beds for 100,000 residents. This, obviously, has certainly retracted in just this past year with almost half of the acute care beds being lost in Middleton, in the Spring of 2002, and five more just recently being taken from acute care to long-term care at Valley Regional.

The timeliness, of course, of getting good care is certainly also impacted by the fact that we now do not have sufficient general practitioners in our area. To start with Middleton, we see now that, for example, a rotation of seven days can no longer be supplied by the current staff. Sundays are being filled by doctors from the Halifax area, primarily. Of course, a little aside, I suppose, in some ways, but then not so in light of current fiscal restraint, is that these doctors are paid more than the local doctors for that period of coverage. Again, it's another aggravating situation that has occurred just in the past month.

I spoke with the President of the Nurses' Union from the Valley just last weekend, and they have been told now that overtime and sick leave will not be an option for nurses in terms of getting coverage. They are developing a clinical strategic plan for when they have to look after one or two more patients than what they would have normally in ICU, emergency or at different treatment areas of the hospital. This, again, is adding to the burden of stress. We know that stress leave among nurses in the Valley had reached very serious proportions; $1.2 million went out for overtime due to sickness last year, and again the President of the Nurses' Union said that much was related to the stress that is a daily factor now in the lives of nurses practising in this area.

Again, during these past four months, surgery moved from Middleton to Valley Regional, with the intent that yes, he would have a bit more of a maybe diverse caseload, and that he would certainly be able to have plenty of operating theatre time. Again, the word from the doctors in Middleton is that, in fact, he is now performing less surgeries than he did, because of the availability of beds, moving from 42 down to 37. It has impacted on the number of surgeries that can be handled in a given 24-hour period.

Certainly I would have to bring up what is now, I guess, a major concern for the base commander at 14 Wing Greenwood, and that is many of the service personnel are without a family doctor. I had mentioned this last week, but I have a meeting with the base commander on November 3rd and he put the delivery of health care services as the number one topic on his agenda. We are hearing that they have to reach the concession of not having some of the service personnel come to Greenwood because they cannot be guaranteed.

I know during the campaign, I probably met 200 to 300 service personnel who did not have a family doctor in our area. I personally believe, and I am sure most of us do, that it's one of the great investments in preventive medicine, if you have a family doctor who is taking a look, over the long term, at changes in your health. So 200 to 300 service personnel without a doctor, again, is alarming. I met one family, the mother and three children, who

[Page 1797]

kept their doctor in Montreal until they would be able to get a local doctor. This is becoming, now, all too common.

[2:30 p.m.]

Of course, just in the past four weeks, we lost another family physician from, this time, the Lawrencetown area, a community that was so fortunate, in fact, to have a doctor. In this case, she happened to be the wife of the local minister, and he had an appointment in New Brunswick, so she has moved on to New Brunswick. Again, the calls started flooding in to the remaining 12 doctors in our area.

That's an area that I haven't addressed and spoken about before, but as we look at the doctor situation, certainly in the western end of the district health authority, that is in the Middleton area, there are currently 12 doctors, and seven of the 12 doctors are 55 years of age or older. As we look down the road for this area, the picture is not a very promising one, because as Soldiers Memorial is less for acute care, then it means that some doctors wanting to look after patients from office to admission to hospital, it now means that this is becoming less and less a reality and a part of their practice. Again, that age of the doctors is certainly a very critical aspect as we look long term at providing service in our area.

Mr. Speaker, I thank you today for the opportunity to outline six or seven of the very pressing concerns of the people of the Valley. I certainly hope to, perhaps before the House rises, invite the Minister of Health to come to the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority to speak with the medical community and citizens about the current state of health delivery in our area.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, this honourable Minister of Community Services also happens to live in the Annapolis Valley. I want to express my appreciation for the amount of work that has been done over the last four years, bringing attention to the concerns of the Valley. I guess that therefore, fundamentally, I disagree with the premise of this debate. I am going to read the honourable member's premise, "Therefore be it resolved that this Tory Government has neglected health care throughout the Valley."

Mr. Speaker, that is just simply not so. As I go through my response, there will be countless examples of very significant commitments that have been undertaken since John Hamm was elected Premier of our province. Also, I have to tell the member opposite that I do find it just a little passing ironic that he would be up talking about the number of acute care beds in the Valley, although I do acknowledge that he recognized that a lot of the cuts that happened over the last 10 years in the Valley were not necessarily under this government. In fact, I do not have the exact numbers with me, but I think that it's fair to say that it was under the Liberal Government that over 50 per cent of the beds were lost to the

[Page 1798]

citizens of the Annapolis Valley. I thank the member opposite for giving me the chance to point that out. I am sure that he would not disagree with me, that in fact it was the Liberals that put the knife into health care beds in the Valley.

But to be fair to him, health care is evolving these days. There have been exciting developments and there are many things that can be done now that no longer require an acute care bed or do not require an acute care bed for such a period of time. It is not the only measure of health care. However, anyway, we will start with that.

Now, we are aware and we are addressing the challenges facing the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. The Department of Health continues to value the opportunity to work closely with the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority. This relationship is one that is positive and productive. Our meetings with the DHA have facilitated a greater understanding of the significant changes in the district health authorities and we will continue to work with them through these challenges. We are doing our utmost to help them to be better able to meet their acute care needs. The Department of Health has been co-operative in helping the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority with further financial needs. From 2001 to 2002 we increased the district health authority's budget by $5,637,066. That is a very significant amount of money, and from 2003-04 we increased their budget by $6,082,529. I think the honourable member opposite may have forgotten that in his part of the debate, but I would like to point it out.

Furthermore, the Department of Health stepped in, in 2001-02, to eliminate the district's deficit of $1,213,649, and did so again in 2003 to eliminate their deficit of $2,242,671 - that is another matter which I think he may have forgotten in his time during the debate. Since 2000 we have given the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority $3,066,066 in medical equipment funding, $1,764,900 in infrastructure funding, $938,815 in capital construction, and $453,084 in capital equipment.

I know the member opposite will feel a lot more reassured when he realizes just how much the John Hamm Government has invested in health care in the Valley. The Annapolis Valley District Health Authority received funding for a new fluoroscopic unit at Soldiers Memorial Hospital, a new CAT scanner at Valley Regional, and many other pieces of equipment have been distributed throughout the district. To help right away, we have temporarily added additional beds in nursing homes in the area and, Mr. Speaker, this will free up beds in the Valley Regional Hospital - which is our acute care unit - that are now currently occupied by long-term care patients who cannot be discharged from the hospital. We are working with home care services to see how we can more effectively make sure that those who are in the most need for home support get it first. Home care services has recruited more staff in this district, and plans are also underway to open an additional 16-bed unit in an existing nursing home in the area - Grandview Manor.

[Page 1799]

Mr. Speaker, as my father was a patient in that nursing home for about six months, and I will tell you that the service is second to none, and anybody who requires that kind of service would be well served by the staff at Grandview Manor. This location was chosen because it has space available and could be renovated relatively quickly - a wonderful facility. The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing the costs associated with this and, once this has been reviewed and awarded to the successful contractor, work will begin as soon as the contractor is available. It is estimated that renovations will take three months to complete from the date that the contract is awarded. The Department of Health is in the process of conducting a feasibility study on additional sites that could be renovated to meet the long-term care needs.

This is action, Mr. Speaker. Not words - action. In the last fiscal year the department provided the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority with $1.5 million for renovations to Soldiers Memorial Hospital. This allowed for the redesign of the medical unit, allowing for a more intensive nursing area. The day surgery area was modernized, and the space for additional services was redesigned and made larger - to name just some of the improvements.

The provincial nursing strategy of the Department of Health continues to provide funding for continuing education and recruitment of nursing staff. The Annapolis Valley District Health Authority was successful in attracting six new nursing graduates and bursaries using these funds. This year the department provided the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority with $1 million for planning for the district, including a role study. This will be crucial in the future delivery of health care in the Valley. This study was to help identify what services they should be providing in their facilities over the next 10 years. We are not only dealing with the short term, but we are addressing the long-term needs of the citizens of the Annapolis Valley.

In addition, within the last month, department staff from acute and tertiary care, continuing care, physicians' services and the chief medical advisor have met with the district to help them look at the continuation of role planning around vascular surgery. The department will be following up with them to examine the district's role in providing vascular surgery service. The member opposite would be aware of that from the discussions at the last meeting between the DHAs and the MLAs.

The department has received the results of the role study. It is our expectation that the district will be moving to the next phase of planning and that will include the master plan and functional program that will assist them in solving the physical space issues that they now have.

A lot of good things have been going on in the Valley. This summer the district has also been successful in recruiting about 17 nurses and nine doctors to existing positions within the district. I would also like to point out to the member for Kings North that I - and I would also like to recognize my colleague, the member for Kings North - have been

[Page 1800]

working hard to ensure the Valley receives its equitable share of funding. We have attended many meetings with health care providers in the Valley, we've arranged and attended meetings over the last four years between the DHA and the health care professionals with the minister, the deputy and senior staff. The members should know that the chair of the district health authority expressed appreciation for what has been done at a recent MLA meeting just this past month and has further expressed support for the guarantee of the future 7.5 per cent of future guaranteed funding. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to start by thanking the member for Kings West for bringing forward this resolution for debate. This is the second opportunity I've had to speak to a resolution that focuses on the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority in particular. I believe that there are particular issues that we need to have debated in this Legislature in that district health authority, as well as a wider debate about the state of health care generally in the various health authorities around the province.

This particular health authority has certain features I think that are worthy of comment and some thoughtful critique that hopefully would lead to this government addressing some of the issues that cause a great deal of concern for residents of the Annapolis Valley. We have seen just in this Fall session a number of circumstances in that area where emergency departments in some of the smaller, local facilities have not been able to perform at their maximum capacity mostly because of physician shortages. This is a concern.

When I think of the Annapolis Valley, besides thinking about the beauty of that part of Nova Scotia, I think about a very strong health care system. I know that the health care providers in that community are second to none in terms of health care service delivery. There's a very strong mix of family practitioners in the Valley with specialists' services, a very strong nursing profession and all of the other kinds of support services that you find in our health care system. Certainly the Annapolis Valley health care professional providers are a model, I think, in many respects.

When you have these shortages and you're seeing physician shortages or the closing of emergency departments, you have to ask yourself why on earth is this occurring in this part of our province. This isn't a part of the province where they have experienced extraordinary population loss, like you have in parts of Cape Breton or even Guysborough County, for example. So you can't say, well, it's not possible to attract health care providers into the Annapolis Valley because schools are closing or there is a lack of certain kinds of facilities. The Annapolis Valley is a very healthy local economy with quite a strong infrastructure. So there's something else going on here that we have to be looking for.

[Page 1801]

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I believe that we've had a number of reports and studies at both a federal and provincial level that have looked at the state of our health care system, and they point the way to the issues that need to be addressed. The state of medical equipment in the various regions around this province is something that is of great concern to health care providers. We need to be investing in our medical equipment infrastructure, and I believe this government has not brought forward a clear plan with respect to that. This will have an impact on physicians staying, retaining physicians, in our health care delivery system.

One of the things that we learned in the past, with respect to the Annapolis Valley health care system is the absolute need for a stable, open, accountable and transparent funding formula for all of the district health authorities, a system that is equitable, a system that reflects the realities of the populations. There is a very strong feeling among health care providers and administrators, I believe, in the Valley region that the current funding formula is not equitable, and it actually penalizes a health authority like the Valley health authority for the superb job that has been done there over the years and certainly through some very difficult times, where we've seen many of the local hospitals and health care facilities close or be downsized and reduced in the services that can be provided at a very local community level.

What this health authority has asked for is the development of a fair, open, transparent, accountable and equitable funding formula across the province. I was at a public meeting where members of the government caucus, including the minister who just spoke to this resolution, made a commitment, came back here to this Legislature and made a commitment to the development of such a funding formula. We have not seen that. Not only have we not seen it, we haven't heard this government talk about it. They've buried that commitment so far in the back rooms that unless resolutions like this are brought forward, repeatedly, I fear that this is an issue that will go unaddressed, and the current kind of situation that we see in the Annapolis Valley region will continue, the difficulty recruiting and retaining physicians and specialists, the difficulty in keeping our emergency rooms open.

Mr. Speaker, I think that we need to make the message clearer to the government that as long as they're not addressing the funding formula issue, then we will continue, on the floor of this Legislature, to bring up these resolutions repeatedly, until we see some action, because it would appear that that might be what's required.

Mr. Speaker, we're at sort of a critical point, in many respects, in the provision of health care services across the country. We had the Romanow Commission report a little more than a year ago or approximately a year ago. We had First Ministers meetings and some commitment of federal dollars to adequately fund some of the recommendations from the Romanow Commission. We're at a stage where the federal leadership of the government Party is about to change. I believe this is a time now for all of us here in this Legislature, on

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the government benches and on the Opposition benches, to really pull together and put forward quite a strong and united front in terms of ensuring that the federal government follow through on their commitments to adequately fund health care services and address the inadequacy of federal funding for health care.

The Premier raised this today in Question Period in response to a question by the Leader of the Liberal Party, and I believe that we really need to be united in that message going forward, that we need the federal commitment - and I'm not convinced some days that what we're hearing from the federal government gives comfort to Canadians who value health care probably more than any other country in the western industrialized world.

We place a great deal of value on a strong public health care system, and that's going to require our federal government stepping up to the plate. We need to stop bickering, and we need to have a very strong united front if we're going to address the health care issues not only in the Annapolis Valley region, but right across the province. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for your attention.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, and I would like to thank all the honourable members for taking part in the debate today.

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

[The House rose at 2:52 p.m.]

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NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 675

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 Multiple Sclerosis Society has established a successful and delicious way to raise money for people living with MS; and

Whereas the Atlantic Division of the Multiple Sclerosis Society raised $139,000 last year through their Christmas Cake Campaign, with the Cape Breton Chapter raising more than $24,000; and

Whereas this year New Waterford's Carl MacLeod will coordinate the fundraiser - which sells dark and light fruit cakes, shortbread cookies and pound cakes - for the Cape Breton Chapter of the Multiple Sclerosis Society;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in extending our best wishes to the Multiple Sclerosis Society for another successful Christmas Cake Campaign and encourage our fellow members to support this campaign by purchasing one of the MS Society's tasty Christmas treats.

RESOLUTION NO. 676

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas the need for a clear plan to road improvements in Timberlea-Prospect is evident; and

Whereas the road to Lower Prospect needs attention; and

Whereas Nova Scotians deserve to drive on safe, well-maintained roads;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works list the priorities for road improvements in the provincial constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

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RESOLUTION NO. 677

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36 in Oxford continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 36 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.

RESOLUTION NO. 678

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 45 in Parrsboro continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 45 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.

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RESOLUTION NO. 679

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 134 in Maccan continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 134 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.

RESOLUTION NO. 680

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 in Springhill continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.

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RESOLUTION NO. 681

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 14 in River Hebert continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 14 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.

RESOLUTION NO. 682

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legions across Nova Scotia are recognized for their involvement and dedication, not only to veterans and Legion members, but as well to our youth and communities; and

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4 in Joggins continues to provide a very valuable service in our community; and

Whereas veterans, Legion members and citizens will hold Remembrance Day ceremonies on November 11th;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate and thank the members of the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 4 for their commitment to our province, our country and our history.