Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04-44

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

WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2004

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 3529
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Bill No. 62: Clause 46 - Withdraw, Mr. G. Steele 3530
TPW - Sweetland/Farmville: Roads - Improve, Hon. M. Baker 3530
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report, Hon. R. Russell 3530
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission, Hon. B. Barnet 3531
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1611, École Rockingham - Acadian Festivities,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 3531
Vote - Affirmative 3531
Res. 1612, Can. Summer Games (2005): Team N.S. - Mission Staff,
(by Hon. D. Morse), Hon. Rodney MacDonald 3532
Vote - Affirmative 3532
Res. 1613, Sisters of St. Martha - Anniv. (100th), Hon. A. MacIsaac 3532
Vote - Affirmative 3533
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 1614, Environ. & Lbr. - Bio-Solids: Regs. - Implement,
Ms. J. Massey 3533
Res. 1615, Sydney Tar Ponds - Gov't. (Can.)/Gov't. (N.S.)/Vols.:
Cleanup - Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3534
Vote - Affirmative 3535
Res. 1616, Brown, Phillip: Can. Special Olympic Winter Games -
Medals, Mr. M. Parent 3535
Vote - Affirmative 3535
Res. 1617, Hogg, Peter: Osgoode Hall Law Sch. - Retirement,
Mr. K. Deveaux 3536
Vote - Affirmative 3536
Res. 1618, Nurses (N.S.): Appreciation - Extend, Mr. Gerald Sampson 3536
Vote - Affirmative 3537
Res. 1619, Sports - East. Shore Minor Hockey Tournament,
Mr. W. Dooks 3537
Vote - Affirmative 3538
Res. 1620, Middleton & Area Nursing Home Soc.: Efforts - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3538
Vote - Affirmative 3538
Res. 1621, Police Wk. (05/09-05/16/04): Participants - Support,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3539
Vote - Affirmative 3539
Res. 1622, Rafuse, Jason: Can. Special Olympic Team - Selection,
Mr. J. Chataway 3539
Vote - Affirmative 3540
Res. 1623, McCormick, Sheldon: Debating Award - Congrats.,
(by Mr. F. Corbett), Mr. G. Gosse 3540
Vote - Affirmative 3541
Res. 1624, Doherty, Penny/Thomas Aquinas Ctr. - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 3541
Vote - Affirmative 3542
Res. 1625, Nesbitt, Harold & Wendy: Tourism Efforts, Mr. G. Hines 3542
Vote - Affirmative 3542
Res. 1626, White, Audrey - E. Hants Mun. Award, Mr. J. MacDonell 3542
Vote - Affirmative 3543
Res. 1627, Hfx. Mainland North Vol. Recognition Comm.: Members -
Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 3543
Vote - Affirmative 3544
Res. 1628, Marchand, Ray & Kevin: Beacon House Repair - Thank,
Hon. B. Barnet 3544
Vote - Affirmative 3545
Res. 1629, Pictou Co. Mun. - Anniv. (125th), Mr. C. Parker 3545
Vote - Affirmative 3545
Res. 1630, Reid, David - BBB Award, Mr. M. Parent 3546
Vote - Affirmative 3546
Res. 1631, Com. Serv.: Income Assistance/Educ. - Policy Reverse,
Ms. M. More 3546
Res. 1632, AG Baillie Mem. Elem. Band: Effort - Acknowledge,
(by Mr. J. DeWolfe) The Premier 3547
Vote - Affirmative 3548
Res. 1633, St. Patrick's HS: Model Parliament - Congrats.,
Mr. H. Epstein 3548
Vote - Affirmative 3549
Res. 1634, Hfx. West. Ecumen. Food Bank: Service - Acknowledge,
Ms. D. Whalen 3549
Vote - Affirmative 3550
Res. 1635, Bower, Gladys - Birthday (106th), Mr. C. O'Donnell 3550
Vote - Affirmative 3550
Res. 1636, Ross Creek Ctr.: Vols./Staff - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3550
Vote - Affirmative 3551
Res. 1637, Riverport Elem. Sch.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 3551
Vote - Affirmative 3552
Res. 1638, Manuel, Wayne: Fastball Honour - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3552
Vote - Affirmative 3553
Res. 1639, Pictou Co. Roadrunners Club - Fred Lays Mem. Run,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3553
Vote - Affirmative 3553
Res. 1640, Environ. & Lbr. - Emissions: Legislation - Enact,
Ms. J. Massey 3553
Res. 1641, Lunenburg/Queens Extravaganza: Vols. - Thank,
Hon. K. Morash 3554
Vote - Affirmative 3555
Res. 1642, TCH - Cultural Commun.: Support - Lack Condemn,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3555
Res. 1643, Sports: Allt Mun. Soccer Tournament - Best Wishes,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3556
Vote - Affirmative 3556
Res. 1644, Pictou Co. Cdn. Cancer Soc.: Vols. - Thank,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 3556
Vote - Affirmative 3557
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 436, Ins. - Rate Applications: Secrecy - Justify, Mr. G. Steele 3557
No. 437, Health - Pharmacare: Increases - Benefits,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3558
No. 438, Ins. - Rate Applications: Secrecy - Effects, Mr. G. Steele 3560
No. 439, Gaming Corp. - VLT Addicts: Assistance - Plans,
Ms. D. Whalen 3561
No. 440, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Gas Price Increases - Protection,
Mr. D. Dexter 3462
No. 441, Educ.: ACLN - Funding Commitment, Mr. L. Glavine 3563
No. 442, Econ. Dev. - Britex: Bids - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 3565
No. 443, Energy: Exploratory Licences (04/02/02-05/12/04) -
Number, Mr. M. Samson 3566
No. 444, Health: Alliance For Prevention of Needle-Stick Injury -
Meet, Mr. F. Corbett 3567
No. 445, African N.S. Affs. - Monitoring Comm.: Concerns -
Response, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3569
No. 446, Environ. & Lbr.: Bio-Solids Moratorium - Extension,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 3570
No. 447, Educ.: Chester Dist. Sch. - Commun. Concerns,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 3571
No. 448, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Gas Prices: Action Plan - Details,
Mr. Michel Samson 3573
No. 449, Com. Serv. - Soc. Assist. Recipients: Food Budget -
Adequacy, Ms. M. More 3574
No. 450, Health - Queens Gen. Hosp.: Anaesthesiologist -
Advertising Details, Mr. L. Glavine 3575
No. 451, TCH - AGNS: Funding Cuts - Effects,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3577
No. 452, Health - Soldiers' Mem. Hosp.: Acute Care - Vision,
Mr. S. McNeil 3578
No. 453, Agric. & Fish.: AgraPoint Bus. Plan - Table, Mr. J. MacDonell 3579
No. 454, Hum. Res.: Hwy. Workers - Binding Arbitration,
Mr. F. Corbett 3580
No. 455, Justice - CBRM Police: Funding - Lack Explain,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 3581
No. 456, Com. Serv.: Alexandra Children's Ctr. - Assist,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3583
No. 457, TPW - Richmond Co.: Roadwork - Plans,
Mr. Michel Samson 3584
No. 458, Health - Middleton: Nursing Home Facility - Lack Explain,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3585
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 21, Trade Union Act/Highway Workers Collective
Bargaining Act 3587
Mr. F. Corbett 3587
Hon. R. Russell 3591
Hon. K. Morash 3594
Mr. R. MacKinnon 3595
Mr. C. Parker 3599
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3602
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 3603
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS'S PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 66, Motor Vehicle Act 3604
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 3604
Hon. R. Russell 3606
Mr. K. Colwell 3609
Mr. F. Corbett 3612
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Grand View Manor: Long-Term Care Beds - Opening:
Mr. M. Parent 3615
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 3618
Mr. L. Glavine 3620
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 13th at 12:00 noon 3622^^
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 1645, Himmelman, Pauline May - Prov. Rep. Vol. (2004),
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 3623
Res. 1646, Selig, Rachel: Cdn. Cancer Soc. - Fundraising,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 3623
Res. 1647, Amherst - Drinking Water Safety: Mayor/Council/Staff -
Thank, Hon. E. Fage 3624
Res. 1648, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Julien, Ashton - Commend,
Hon. B. Barnet 3624
Res. 1649, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Long, Brad - Commend,
Hon. B. Barnet 3625
Res. 1650, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Dixon, Brenna -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3625
Res. 1651, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Jobe, Courtney -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3626
Res. 1652, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Matheson, Geoff -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3626
Res. 1653, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: McKenna, J. -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3627
Res. 1654, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Ellerback, Jeff -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3627
Res. 1655, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Doucette, Mark -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3628
Res. 1656, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Graca, Matthew -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3628
Res. 1657, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: McCab, Shaun -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3629
Res. 1658, Sackville Heights JHS Film Club: Margeson, Jenn -
Commend, Hon. B. Barnet 3629
Res. 1659, Harbour Fish & Fries: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3630
Res. 1660, Fraser's Wide Plan Flooring Inc.: Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3630
Res. 1661, Shelter Cove Marine: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3631
Res. 1662, PhysioLink: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3631
Res. 1663, Wrecks R Us: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3632
Res. 1664, General Carpentry and Stairways: Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3632
Res. 1665, Country Store and Craft Supplies: Contributions -
Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3633
Res. 1666, Porters Lake Pub & Grill: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. W. Dooks 3633
Res. 1667, Jeddore Variety: Contributions - Recognize, Mr. W. Dooks 3634
Res. 1668, Wood, Steve - Parrsboro Youth Vol. (2004), The Speaker 3634
Res. 1669, Wortman, Doug - Wink Willox Award, The Speaker 3635
Res. 1670, Wood, Don: RCMP - Serv. (30 Yrs.), The Speaker 3635
Res. 1671, Welsh, Samantha - Basketball Award, The Speaker 3636
Res. 1672, Wasson, Marion: Military Serv. - Congrats., The Speaker 3636
Res. 1673, Towns, David: Five Islands Preserve Lighthouse Soc. -
Donation, The Speaker 3637
Res. 1674, Oxford: Centennial - Congrats., The Speaker 3637
Res. 1675, Thompson, R.H. - Merritt Award, The Speaker 3638

[Page 3529]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 12, 2004

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the honourable member for Richmond on an introduction.

M. MICHEL SAMSON: M. le président, ça me fait plaisir aujourd'hui en lieu de mon collègue de Clare qui ne peux pas être ici avec nous qui est avec the Première Ministre et mon autre collègue de Cape Breton South à Sydney pour l'announce aujourd'hui sur les tar ponds. Ça me fait plaisir de introdure and d'inviter les 30 étudients de l'école secondaire de Clare qui sont ici avec nous dans la gallerie de ouest. Ils sont accompanient par Marie- Claude Robichaud et Jeanne Laudry et leure enseignante Andrea Burke. Ils sont ici en visite à la ville d'Halifax aujourd'hui et j'espère qu'ils vont apprendre et apprècient comment que l'Àssemble Legislative prende place et puis qu'ils vont avoir une meullieur apprèciation pour le travailleux qui sont faite par tous les débutes ici à l'Àssemble.

Mr. Speaker, it is with pleasure on behalf of my colleague from Clare, the Leader of the Liberal Party, who is with the Premier and my colleague, the member for Cape Breton South, in Sydney today for the tar ponds announcement, to introduce 30 students from Grades 11 and 12 from École Secondaire de Clare in the riding of Clare. They are joined by Marie- Claude Robichaud and Jeanne Landry and their teacher Andrea Burke. They are in the west gallery and they are visiting the city today. I hope they will have a better appreciation of how the House of Assembly works and the work done by the MLAs. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the members of the House. (Applause)

3529

[Page 3530]

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative part of which reads as follows, ". . . we, the undersigned, call on the Hamm government to withdraw Clause 46 of Bill 62 in favour of an extensive round of discussions with NSGEU and CUPE that will conclude by the end of 2004 about longer-term solutions to the funding problems of the Plan and the possibility of joint governance or trusteeship." There are 38 names on this petition. I understand there are more to come and, as required, I have affixed my name to the petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. "We the undersigned residents of the communities of Sweetland and Farmville are petitioning for much needed improvements to our road. It has been sorely neglected for too many years. It is therefore respectfully requested that this matter be looked into and appropriate action taken." I have affixed my name to the petition for the purpose of tabling.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report, For the Period April 1, 2003, to March 31, 2004.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 3531]

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for 2003, Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 1611

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

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

Whereas in honour of this historic occasion, Premier John Hamm proclaimed 2004 as "L'Année de l'Acadie"; and

Whereas today marks the beginning of three days of festivities at École Rockingham School in recognition of the significant contribution of Acadians to our province, and to celebrate the Acadian heritage of many of its students;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students, teachers and administrators of École Rockingham School, and their parents and community for their efforts to recognize the importance of Acadian culture and heritage, and wish them much success in their festivities.

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 3532]

The honourable Minister of Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 1612

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable Minister of Health Promotion, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas volunteers across this province play an integral role in supporting young Nova Scotia athletes; and

Whereas yesterday, we announced 18 volunteers who will serve as the mission staff for Team Nova Scotia at the 2005 Canada Summer Games in Regina; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has the only fully-volunteer mission staff in the country, and has twice won the Claude Hardy Award for its exemplary games spirit;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the commitment of these volunteers as they strive to give our athletes the experience of a lifetime at the 2005 games.

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 Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 1613

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

[Page 3533]

Whereas for 100 years, the Sisters of St. Martha have served patients at St. Mary's Hospital in Inverness, St. Rita's Hospital in Sydney, St. Joseph's Hospital in Glace Bay and at New Waterford Consolidated Hospital, working in every capacity, from nursing to running the hospital switchboards; and

Whereas this weekend, the people of Cape Breton will recognize the significant contributions the Sisters of St. Martha have made to the people of Cape Breton Island, with a tea at Mount Carmel Auditorium in New Waterford; and

Whereas in June, Sister Marie Kelly - the last of the Sisters of St. Martha working in a Cape Breton hospital - will retire, thus ending an era;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our heartfelt appreciation to the Sisters of St. Martha for 100 years of tremendous support, dedication and care for so many Cape Bretoners who have found themselves in times of need and requiring medical assistance.

MR. SPEAKER: I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1614

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

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour has distributed their Guide for Private Well Owners in which it advises to take care when using any chemicals on your property near your well; and

[Page 3534]

Whereas it also advises to never mix or use pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, degreasers, fuels or other pollutants near your well; and

Whereas under the proposed guidelines for spreading of biosolids, the separation distance from spreading to a private well is only 90 metres and the distance to a public well is only 150 metres;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Environment and Labour go back and take a second look at their recommended separation distances for spreading biosolids from wells and draw up regulations, not just guidelines.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 1615

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

Whereas today it was announced that funding of $400 million will be provided to clean up the Sydney tar ponds; and

Whereas this is an indication that government is finally prepared to act in cleaning this toxic environmental and health problem; and

Whereas this is most welcome for not only the citizens of Cape Breton, but for all of Nova Scotians who have been concerned over the years about the hazardous effects this contaminated site has had on the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate both the provincial and federal governments along with the volunteer citizen groups who came together to clean up this mess once and for all.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3535]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 1616

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

Whereas 41 Nova Scotians participated in the Canadian Special Olympic Winter Games that were recently held in Prince Edward Island; and

Whereas Kentville resident Phillip Brown made an excellent showing in the area of speed skating when he won one gold, one bronze and three silver medals; and

Whereas Mr. Brown has won 47 medals in the 11 years he's participated in the Canadian Special Olympics;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Phillip Brown on his success at the 2004 Canadian Special Olympic Winter Games and wish him much success in his future athletic endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 3536]

RESOLUTION NO. 1617

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

Whereas Peter Hogg is the foremost constitutional legal scholar in Canada, having written the defining text on various Constitution Acts; and

Whereas Peter Hogg has had an illustrious career as a law professor at Osgoode Hall Law School, including a term as dean of the school; and

Whereas Peter Hogg is retiring from his professorship at Osgoode Hall Law School;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contributions of Peter Hogg to constitutional law in Canada and wish him all the best in his retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The-Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 1618

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

Whereas the International Council of Nurses since 1971 has celebrated International Nurses Day on May 12th; and

Whereas this year's theme of International Nurses Day is Nurses: Working with the Poor; Against Poverty; and

[Page 3537]

Whereas the Canadian Nurses Association which represents nurses from Nova Scotia and throughout our country, are organizing events on International Nurses Day and National Nursing Week relating to mental health and primary health care;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature take yet another opportunity to extend our appreciation to our nursing workforce here in Nova Scotia for the role they play in advancing social justice and for improving the health and well-being of Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1619

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore Minor Hockey Tournament took place at the Eastern Shore Community Centre in Musquodoboit Harbour from April 3rd to 10th; and

Whereas Oyster Pond-Jeddore resident Nathan Whitty scored three of the four goals scored by his team during the final game of the tournament; and

Whereas this was my nephew's first season playing hockey in his new home;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all participants in the Eastern Shore Minor Hockey Tournament and recognize the exceptional efforts of Nathan Whitty at this tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

[Page 3538]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 1620

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

Whereas the Town of Middleton boasts one of the highest per capita populations of seniors in the province; and

Whereas the area surrounding Middleton, with a population of 36,000 people, does not have a long-term care facility; and

Whereas the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society has seen the need for a nursing home in their community and volunteer members have been working hard to raise this issue with the provincial government;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the members of the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society for their tireless efforts on behalf of seniors in their community.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask for waiver.

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 3539]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1621

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

Whereas Nova Scotians are encouraged to take part in events to mark Police Week held this week from May 9th to 16th; and

Whereas events put on by various police agencies from across Nova Scotia help forge stronger partnerships with the communities they loyally serve; and

Whereas police forces along with community groups have arranged special activities and displays that promote enhanced public safety and security;

Therefore be if resolved that all members of this House pledge their support for all those involved in Police Week, who helped to build better and stronger relationships between law enforcement agencies and the communities they serve.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Chester-St. Margaret's.

RESOLUTION NO. 1622

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

Whereas Jason Rafuse of Chester Basin has been named to Canada's Special Olympic Team; and

[Page 3540]

Whereas Jason will be travelling to Nagano, Japan in February of the new year to compete at the World Winter Games in snowshoeing; and

Whereas more than 2,500 athletes from 80 countries will arrive in Nagano for competition;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend Jason for his extensive training and will to participate at the world level while knowing that residents and staff at Bonny Lea Farm are ecstatic about Jason's participation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 1623

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Canadian Student Debating Federation National Debating Seminar was held in Winnipeg April 26th- 30th; and

Whereas Sheldon McCormick, a Grade 10 student at Sydney Academy captured top prize at this prestigious scholastic event; and

Whereas the seminar not only provided the students an opportunity to attend workshops and debating sessions, it also proved to be quite an educational experience;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate Sheldon McCormick for winning the top prize at the Canadian Student Debating Federation National Debating Seminar and for his commitment and outstanding work ethic in striving to achieve scholastic excellence.

[Page 3541]

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. 1624

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 Thomas Aquinas Centre has provided specialized educational programming for more than 300 children with attention deficit disorder and other learning difficulties; and

Whereas children at the Thomas Aquinas Centre have achieved success; children have regained their self-confidence and returned successfully to the public school system and 26 children have graduated from Grade 12 to continue their studies and contribute in a meaningful way to the community; and

Whereas Penny Doherty, Principal and founder of Thomas Aquinas Center will terminate her passionate and powerful endeavor after nine years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate Penny Doherty and her staff for their excellence in special education and wish them well with their Lupin Benefit Dinner and Auction today.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3542]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 1625

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

Whereas without a doubt, Nova Scotia is one of the world's best-kept motorcycle secrets; and

Whereas Harold and Wendy Nesbitt just completed their printing and production of their fourth edition of the Motorcycle Tour Guide of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Harold and Wendy recently won their second "Award of Excellence" in the 2003 edition at the 2004 North American International Motorcycle Show;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the fabulous efforts of Harold and Wendy Nesbitt, who are striving to bring more tourism to Nova Scotia and having a great time while they are at it.

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. 1626

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

[Page 3543]

Whereas volunteerism is the fine concept of humankind that reaches out to the most vulnerable; and

Whereas those who are facing their last days should not walk that dark road alone; and

Whereas on Volunteer Awards Night, April 21, 2004, Ms. Audrey White was honoured by the Municipality of East Hants for her work with the East Hants Palliative Care Unit;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Audrey White for choosing to help ease the burden of the dying and to remind us all of our mortality and its needs.

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.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1627

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

Whereas volunteers and community workers are the backbone of society; and

Whereas Whadih Fares, Ron Bulmer, Albert Nicolle and Michele Vyge-Fraser have spearheaded the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee to honour those individuals who consistently go the extra mile to improve our community; and

Whereas these individuals have worked together to organize the first annual Volunteer Awards dinner to ensure that our outstanding volunteers receive the recognition they deserve;

[Page 3544]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee for a successful event and for the work they have done to honour those in our community who have truly made a difference.

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 Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 1628

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

Whereas Ramar Construction took on the task of repairing the Beacon House Caretakers House in Sackville, which will have its grand opening tomorrow, May 13, 2004; and

Whereas Ramar Construction and their many suppliers provided all of the labour and material free of charge, a very generous donation indeed to the families in need in the Sackville area and surrounding communities; and

Whereas both Ray Marchand and Kevin Marchand, owner and operator of Ramar Construction decided to do this work free of charge, because they recognized the need to have Beacon House Caretakers House repaired;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Ray and Kevin Marchand, and their many suppliers for their unwavering generosity to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 3545]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 1629

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

Whereas the Municipality of Pictou County was incorporated in 1879 and so this year is celebrating its 125th Anniversary; and

Whereas municipal government is the first level of government in this country and the one that is closest to the people it serves; and

Whereas Warden Allister MacDonald and councillors from 13 other districts along with the county's Chief Administrative Officer Clyde Purvis and staff are to be commended for operating a very efficient municipal government;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the Municipality of Pictou County on their 125th Anniversary and wish them much success during their celebrations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 3546]

RESOLUTION NO. 1630

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

Whereas each year the Better Business Bureau of the Maritimes awards Community Achievement Awards to businesses that are active within the organization and the community; and

Whereas this year, long-time Better Business Bureau member D.M. Reid Jewellers of Kentville received the award for the Valley-South Shore region; and

Whereas the business supports an impressive number of community organizations such as the Acadia Axemen, the Kentville Rotary, the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation, Kinsmen and Kinettes, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Ducks Unlimited and the Apple Blossom Festival, to name just a few;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate D.M. Reid Jewellers' owner David Reid on receiving the Better Business Bureau Community Achievement Award for the Valley and South Shore and express to him our great appreciation for all the support he continues to give to so many organizations in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 1631

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

[Page 3547]

Whereas the policies of the Department of Community Services prevent Employment Support and Income Assistance clients from retaining their benefits while attending college or university programs over two years in duration; and

Whereas this backwards and unjust policy forces single parents, the majority of whom are women, to choose between feeding their families and obtaining higher education; and

Whereas the lack of a university education continues the poverty cycle forcing single parents into lower-paying jobs and a continued struggle to make ends meet;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn this policy of the Department of Community Services and call on the Hamm Government to reverse this discriminatory policy immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East on an introduction.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, with us in the east gallery today, we're fortunate to have from the A.G. Baillie Memorial School, New Glasgow, 25 Grade 5 and Grade 6 students, the school band who played for our listening enjoyment prior to the House opening today. With the students are Jim Wasson, school band conductor; Denise Graham; Allyson Shaw, my old swim partner from New Glasgow; Mamie Anderson; Michelle MacDougall; Nancy Dicks; and also Bob Grant. I would ask them all to stand and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1632

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

[Page 3548]

Whereas the students of A.G. Baillie Memorial School intermediate band have studied and practised tirelessly throughout the year with the continuous support of their parents, represented here today by the President of the Band Parent Auxiliary Association, Ms. Nancy Dicks; and

Whereas the students have benefited from the constant tutelage and encouragement of their devoted band teacher, Mr. Jim Wasson; and

Whereas our government has established Nova Scotia's first music strategy in consultation with the Music Industry Association to highlight our province's musical talent;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House acknowledge the time and effort that have been invested by the students, their parents and their teachers, and applaud the A.G. Baillie Memorial School intermediate band for their wonderful performance.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 1633

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

Whereas student model Parliaments are a popular and educational activity in our high schools; and

Whereas the students of St. Patrick's High School in Halifax Chebucto held their annual model Parliament on May 10th and May 11th, 2004; and

Whereas their guest in the role of Governor General was the MLA for Halifax Chebucto;

[Page 3549]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students and staff of St. Patrick's High School for an ambitious and interesting 2004 model Parliament.

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. 1634

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

Whereas without the continued efforts of food banks throughout the province, many families would not be able to put food on the table; and

Whereas St. John's Anglican Church in Fairview holds the weekly Halifax West Ecumenical Food Bank which distributes over 82 tons of food a year; and

Whereas the volunteers of this food bank served over 4,531 families in the last year, providing a tremendous service to the community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge the service provided by the Halifax West Ecumenical Food Bank and recognize the contributions made by the many volunteers to this project.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3550]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 1635

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

Whereas of Canada's 31.6 million people, the last census indicated that only 3,795 people were living at the age of 100 and of those 3,795, 165 of those were residing right here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Gladys Bower from Upper Ohio, Shelburne County, has been on the list for six years after celebrating her 106th birthday last Saturday afternoon during an open house; and

Whereas Gladys is still residing at home and cooking her own meals the majority of the time and living life to the fullest;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs congratulate Gladys, not for just another birthday but for her 106th birthday, and wish her many more years of health.

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 1636

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

[Page 3551]

Whereas the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts in the Annapolis Valley has recently completed Phase I of an ambitious project to build a multi-use community centre; and

Whereas the Ross Creek Centre plans on hiring 20 people this Summer to teach, perform and conduct maintenance at the facility; and

Whereas the centre was able to leverage $100,000 of funding from Economic Development to complete Phase I, and is now turning its attention to Phase II;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the volunteers and staff at the Ross Creek Centre for the Arts on this major accomplishment, and that this government commit itself to exploring possibilities for further financial support for Phase II.

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. 1637

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 Riverport Elementary School holds its annual Spring Fair to raise funds for the benefit of students who attend the school; and

Whereas the annual event is looked forward to by the community and received support this year from the Riverport and District Fire Department, 143rd Airfield Engineering Squadron and Midlife Crisis who assisted in making this year's event an overwhelming success; and

Whereas the proceeds from the Spring Fair are used to enable the children to go on class trips, and to purchase bursaries and playground equipment;

[Page 3552]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Riverport Elementary School on their fundraising efforts and thank all those who assisted in making this year's event a successful one.

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. 1638

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

Whereas Terence Bay is recognized throughout Nova Scotia for its athletic accomplishments in the game of fastball; and

Whereas this recognition and these accomplishments are the result of the valuable efforts by coaches such as Wayne Manuel; and

Whereas Wayne Manuel's dedication to the game of fastball was acknowledged on Saturday, May 8th at the Terence Bay Fire Hall;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank Wayne Manuel of Terence Bay for his commitment and dedication to the game of fastball.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 3553]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1639

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

Whereas the Foxbrook run was held again this year by the Pictou County Roadrunners Club, this time in memory of long-time Roadrunner Club President Fred Lays; and

Whereas Fred was terribly ill last year, and abiding the respects of his family, the run was not held in 2003; and

Whereas nearly 70 runners took part in the 5-kilometre and 10-kilometre fun run with all organizers being absolutely thrilled with the show of respect, in memoriam, for the late Fred Lays;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend the initiative of the organizers of the Pictou County Roadrunners Club for their testament and memory to their late president.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1640

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

[Page 3554]

Whereas coal-fired generators are most harmful to both the environment and human health; and

Whereas they release mercury which is a cancer-causing substance, and sulphuric acid which causes breathing problems; and

Whereas high pollution levels are known to aggravate respiratory symptoms that cause asthma;

Therefore be it resolved that this government design legislation enacting specific limits for emissions that will protect our environment and our health.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 1641

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

Whereas a key component of volunteerism is the desire to give of yourself by helping others; and

Whereas by helping others, volunteers offer their own knowledge and strengths while learning new things and growing both personally and professionally; and

Whereas the Lunenburg/Queens Volunteer Extravaganza was held in April 2004 at White Point Beach Resort in order to assist volunteers with information about issues such as recruitment, fundraising and risk management;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House express their sincere thanks not only to the volunteers who took the time to organize this event, but also to those who volunteer on numerous projects throughout the year in all of our communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 3555]

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 Sackville-Cobequid.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 1642

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

Whereas support of the arts is a measure of a truly great society; and

Whereas the Hamm Government cut funding to the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia by 10 per cent this year; and

Whereas they also cut funding to the Nova Scotia Museum sites this year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House condemn the Hamm Government for its continued lack of support to the cultural community in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 3556]

RESOLUTION NO. 1643

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

Whereas youth soccer teams will compete on May 14th, 15th and 16th in a tournament in memory of Sheila and Stephanie Allt; and

Whereas the Allt family is legendary for their involvement with and commitment to the sport of soccer; and

Whereas this annual tournament, sponsored by Halifax County United, is a popular event with area youth;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature extend best wishes to the organizers and teams participating in the Sheila and Stephanie Allt Memorial Soccer Tournament.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 1644

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

Whereas the month of April is always a special time, even more special when the Canadian Cancer Society volunteers get out and raise funds for cancer research through the selling of daffodils; and

Whereas two groups got together in April in Pictou County to help the Pictou County Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society sell daffodils; and

[Page 3557]

Whereas the two groups who so ably were assisted the Pictou County Chapter of the Canadian Cancer Society and the Laureate Kappa Chapter of Beta Sigma Phi;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs compliment the efforts of these volunteers, who work do diligently to ensure the necessary funds are made available for research and programs into this killer disease.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:47 p.m. and will end at 4:17 p.m.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INS. - RATE APPLICATIONS: SECRECY - JUSTIFY

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, this week the government tried to downplay its reputation as the most secretive government in the country - unfortunately the facts just continue to speak for themselves. The rate filings by insurance companies used to be public information, but we have learned, only this week, that that is no longer the case. We've been told that we can file a freedom of information request for these filings, or just wait until the Insurance Review Board makes a decision. So my question to the minister responsible for insurance is how can this government possibly justify any attempt to hide rate applications from the public?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that while rate applications may be kept on a restricted list until such time as the determination has been made as regard to the rate, the rates themselves will certainly be made public.

[Page 3558]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if the minister gets it - the rate filings used to be public, so the public could see them before a decision was made, and now the people of Nova Scotia are going to have the right to see the rate filings after a decision has been made. Next door, in New Brunswick, we have an insurance review body that is fighting to keep this information public. Recently, in a court decision, the New Brunswick courts upheld the New Brunswick insurance regulator's decision that all of this information should be public. So my question for the minister responsible for insurance is, what will it take for this government to put Nova Scotians' interests ahead of the interests of insurance companies, and recognize that it's in everybody's best interests that this information be public?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the government has acted in the best interests of the consumers all the way along this piece, with regard to automobile insurance. Our present situation in Nova Scotia nowhere near compares with that in New Brunswick, which has a system that has not realized any significant savings for consumers.

The motoring public in Nova Scotia since last November, which is approximately a short six months ago, have received $55 million in refunds. In New Brunswick they have not even come close to matching that.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that minister continues to live in some kind of insurance fantasyland because in response to serious issues about openness, he responds with facts that are not true and are irrelevant anyway, even if it were true. As of July, insurance companies will be able to file new rates that will take effect on November 1st, but this government has changed the policy and now consumers will not even be aware of those new rate filings until the decision has already been made. The only people who gain from this decision are the insurance companies. My question to the minister is, why does this government continue to side with insurance companies instead of being on the side of Nova Scotian drivers and their families?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member talks about fantasyland, the honourable member is living in Disneyland, I think, if he can't be aware of the fact that the auto insurers, people in Nova Scotia, those who are driving automobiles, have been the recipients of $55 million in rebates. That is something that has been achieved in the short space of six months.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE: INCREASES - BENEFITS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. This year some 38,500 seniors will be paying the full premium for Seniors' Pharmacare and, while an additional 750 will be exempt from paying the premium, the fact of the matter is this government will collect an additional $2.1 million from those seniors who

[Page 3559]

are currently paying the full premium. Some senior couples are now paying $652 more today than when this government took power. My question to the minister is, could the minister please outline what benefits these 38,500 seniors will receive as a result of the increase that they have to pay in the premium?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member and I can tell the House that Nova Scotia has one of the most comprehensive Seniors' Pharmacare Programs in this country, and we'll continue to support it and ensure that it is that comprehensive.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I asked the minister what benefits they would receive. I note in a press release issued on February 27th, this year, this government would be investing some $12 million in Seniors' Pharmacare, yet the budget that was passed yesterday shows an increase of only about $6.3 million in the Seniors' Pharmacare, about half of what the government said it would invest. That seems to be a pretty large gap - either they're collecting more from seniors or they're letting on that the plan is to have some considerable changes under the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. My question to the minister is, could he please inform us today whether there are plans to delist some of the drugs that are covered in the Seniors' Pharmacare Program to make up for that $6 million gap in the program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is our plans are to ensure that Nova Scotia continues to have the most comprehensive Seniors' Pharmacare Program in this country.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a government that is gouging seniors with skyrocketing Pharmacare fees, we have a minister who said there would be a $12 million investment in Pharmacare - in fact, he's $6 million short - and we have a so-called Official Opposition that is not willing to stand up for the 38,500 seniors who saw their premiums increase in this province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question, from the new Official Opposition, will be for the minister. My question is, what is this minister doing to ensure that seniors are protected against skyrocketing Pharmacare costs?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, far be it for me to be the mediator between the two groups opposite. I can tell the honourable member and I can tell all Nova Scotians that we have one of the most comprehensive - in Atlantic Canada - insurance programs for seniors. We will continue to have that program and the commitments we've made to seniors will be met.

[Page 3560]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'd just like to remind all honourable members to keep their supplementary questions short if they could, please, it's infringing upon the rights of other members for questions.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INS. - RATE APPLICATIONS: SECRECY - EFFECTS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the government said its new insurance review board would protect the public interest and build public confidence. This government can't be serious about that because the people who actually pay the rates, Nova Scotia drivers and their families, won't get a chance to see or comment on those rates until after a decision has been made. My question for the minister responsible for auto insurance is, how on earth are public interest advocates supposed to comment on proposed new rates if rate applications are hidden until after the decision is made?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the proof of the pudding is in the eating with regard to auto insurance. The public of Nova Scotia at the present time is quite satisfied with what this government has done and will continue to do.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, when Nova Scotia Power wants to raise its rates it has to go to the Utility and Review Board. ( Interruption) Information is made public because we all agree the consumers have a right to know if their rates will go up and why. Unlike other regulated industries, the insurance industry in this province is about to get special treatment. Drivers won't hear about new rates until it's too late. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is, in New Brunswick, it's an insurance company that's trying to keep rates hidden. Why is it that in Nova Scotia, it's the government trying to do the same thing?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the government isn't trying to hide any information. The users of insurance in the Province of Nova Scotia realize what has happened to their premiums over the past six months and they're immanently satisfied.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, if that minister thinks that he solved the auto insurance problem, just wait til the Fall. It is precisely because the public was able to see the rate filings that they were able to put pressure on the government, that they were able to demand fairer and lower auto insurance rates. My question to the minister responsible for insurance is very simple, when is the minister going to remember whose side he's supposed to be on?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there's no doubt which side of the government - there's no argument about which side of the argument we're on with regard to auto insurance. That's achieving the best balance for the motoring public. The honourable member over there, the member of doom and gloom, I think, should stop threatening about what's

[Page 3561]

going to happen in the Fall. (Interruption) I'm sure that he will be quite surprised when he sees what the rates are after the review by the Insurance Review Board.

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

GAMING CORP. - VLT ADDICTS: ASSISTANCE - PLANS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for Part I of the Gaming Control Act. There have been numerous studies both here in Nova Scotia and elsewhere that show that without a doubt, VLTs are highly addictive and damaging to the lives of many people and many here in Nova Scotia. Despite the fact that there have been VLTs in Nova Scotia since 1991, and since 1998 we've been spending money to research the problem of gambling, there are still no firm numbers available on the social costs associated with VLT addictions. We know that people are losing their homes, families, jobs, even their lives. All studies have pointed to the fact that they're highly addictive. My question to the minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation is, after all these studies, what immediate and concrete plans do you have to help VLT addicts in our province and to minimize the risk of more people becoming addicted?

[3:00 p.m.]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the Gaming Corporation had a chance to speak to the Public Accounts Committee this morning. They talked about those very things, about the need for responsible gambling, the need to make machines less addictive, indeed, they shared some of the vision of the government and in terms of developing a gaming strategy. We are moving in that direction, and that's what this government is doing.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the gaming strategy that the minister refers to will not happen immediately, it takes time. I think Nova Scotians want to see some immediate steps taken to alleviate the damage and the potential damage to new people gaming in Nova Scotia. At the Public Accounts Committee, we heard repeatedly that the Gaming Corporation wants to get direction from Nova Scotians and more consultation. Would a plebiscite, then, Mr. Minister, not be the right way to go to get more feedback from Nova Scotians in a hurry?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, there's a whole variety of ways to get feedback from the public. There are the education processes that we have, there's the issue of having discussions and various other things. As the Gaming Corporation said, those are the directions that they're moving in to get the feedback from the public to develop this gaming strategy.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, last week in a scrum, the Premier said the problem is being studied, but he couldn't make a move against the machines until he sees hard evidence of harm. There were an estimated 6,400 addicts in the province in 1998, and heaven knows

[Page 3562]

how many there are today. There have been numerous studies, and I believe that my question for the minister would be, with 6,400 addicts and many more people affected as a result, what more evidence could they possibly need before VLTs are acted upon?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member indicated in the discussions at the Public Accounts Committee, we do recognize that that is a serious problem that we have to work on. That's why, for example, the Office of Health Promotion has been developing programs, that's why we have 24-hour, 7-day-a-week counsellors at help lines, so we can work on some of these problems. We do know that this problem has to be worked on, and this government, along with the Gaming Corporation, is working on its gaming strategy that we'll be moving on quite quickly.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: GAS PRICE INCREASES - PROTECTION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is going to be for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. He may not remember, but the Premier of this province took a strong position in this House in 1996, when gas prices went from 43 cents to 61.9 cents a litre. The now-Premier demanded action to protect Nova Scotians from rapid escalations in gas prices. Curiously, the Liberal Government at the time said it was a federal issue. The NDP has presented plans to limit the price spikes and to give back the windfall of taxes you're earning. So my question for the minister is the same question that the now-Premier asked, I wonder if the minister would mind relaying to the House what measures he's taking to protect the interests of Nova Scotians, particularly in the matter of rapid escalations in gas prices?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, we intend to bring forward measures to this House in the very near future, and the member opposite will find out then.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Progressive Conservative Party has never been afraid of NDP ideas to achieve a better deal for today's families. One of the NDP proposals would ensure greater competition in the sale of gasoline. Over the years, we have introduced legislation which would require that gas be sold to independent gas stations at the lowest price paid by oil companies to its own stations. The current spike in gasoline prices was not the first, and unless the government takes meaningful action it will, of course, not be the last. My question is, how is the minister going to deliver on his own commitments to ensure greater competition and, therefore, overall lower prices among gas retailers?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, our commitment is to protect the interests of Nova Scotians, and we will work towards a solution that will protect Nova Scotians' interests and ensure that they're treated fairly and reasonably in the market. We will be bringing forward measures in the very near future that will lay out exactly what it is we intend to do.

[Page 3563]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we've heard it all before, work toward, go forward, study - well, the people of Nova Scotia are tired of this. The forecast is for record-high prices all Summer, and for eight years government's answer has been that they're studying the problem. So my question is, how can it take so long to stop studying and start taking action to limit skyrocketing gas prices that will have a real effect, where it matters, in Nova Scotians' pocketbooks?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, in January of this year, I instructed my staff to begin the process of analyzing the situation that we expected would happen over the next number of months. Our staff did an extensive analysis with industry and key stakeholders and others to determine what would be in the best interest of Nova Scotians. I can say to the member opposite and to all Nova Scotians that we will be bringing forward measures that will protect Nova Scotia's interests and measures that I believe will receive the support of this House. I hope it will because it will provide Nova Scotians with a great deal of certainty with respect to fuel prices.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

EDUC.: ACLN - FUNDING COMMITMENT

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. Community-based learning networks across the province help adults acquire literacy skills they need to compete for jobs, gain self-esteem, self-sufficiency and able to help their own children in school. The Annapolis County Learning Network is one example with a committed volunteer board, base funding of less than $80,000 a year from the Department of Education, employs two teachers and an administrator, provides Levels 1 and 2 literacy courses, offers a family literacy program, conducts much-needed research, continually writes proposals and searches for additional funding sources to make up an annual funding deficit in the area of $60,000.

Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, the Annapolis County Learning Network does not know from one year to the next if their base funding from the province will be provided.

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

There is too much noise in the Chamber, I would ask the honourable members if they have to speak to go outside the Chamber please.

MR. GLAVINE: My question to the Minister of Education is, will the minister make a five-year base funding commitment to the Annapolis County Learning Network so that it can continue to provide its valuable services to the people in this area?

[Page 3564]

HON. JAMES MUIR: I know, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member realizes that there are other adult high schools in the province besides the Valley and they are all valuable. I know that his question would include the others as well if he had to restate it. Anyway, I want to tell you that we are committed to providing quality programs and services for adult learners in Nova Scotia. In our budget, you will see that there is an increase in the line for adult education.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, please allow me to read a brief excerpt from one of about 20 letters the MLA for Annapolis has received from participants in the program. "I have been out of school for seven years . . . and feel strongly that this is my last possible opportunity to finish and receive my proper education. I have children who depend on me, and I depend on this course to help my children later on. The jobs that are available require grade 12. What will we do without this opportunity?"

Mr. Speaker, rumours that even if the Annapolis County Learning Network receives base funding for next year, they may see a reduction in their base amount. Will the minister commit today in this House that the ACLN will not see a reduction in its base funding for next year?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for bringing the adult learning to the floor of the House because it does provide a valuable contribution to education in Nova Scotia. I also recognize, and the honourable member has said, it being the school of last chance for a number of people and it does fulfill that function. We provide about $6.4 million in annual funding to 30 community literacy organizations, which would include the Nova Scotia Community College, Université Sainte-Anne and the regional school boards. This government is committed to adult education.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, providing basic literacy training to adults in Nova Scotia is essential and it is sad to think the finances of this province are in such a state that this government cannot make a commitment for modest funding for adult literacy training. This board is simply growing tired of raising $60,000 a year to supplement the program. Mr. Minister, I will ask, again, for you to make a five-year stable funding commitment to the Annapolis County Learning Network to allow it to continue to provide much-needed services.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the government continues, and as I've said before, to recognize the important service the adult literacy networks provide to many Nova Scotians and we will continue to support it.

[Page 3565]

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

ECON. DEV. - BRITEX: BIDS - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Last week we asked the minister why the government is abandoning the 100 former Britex employees and their families. In this House he stated that the liquidator, NSBI, continued to hold open the option of accepting a competitive, going-concern bid. My office has just learned that a going-concern bid was submitted today by two former managers at the plant to save these jobs and to continue to operate the plant. Yet, the liquidation process continues, putting the competitive bids in jeopardy. My question is, will the minister confirm for the members of this House today that his government and NSBI are still accepting bids to save the plant and these jobs?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, indeed, those were my responses last week. As the honourable member will note, I said time was growing very short. NSBI's receiver accepted a bid late last week on the machinery and they are proceeding to the court action to have it approved.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the government forced Britex into liquidation and with it will go the jobs and economic spinoffs from the plant. Worse still, the government is refusing to go to bat for the employees - most will get only one week severance and have no real job prospects. In fact, we are told that a recent job posting at the local Home Hardware store elicited more than 100 applications. Yet, even while offers continue to come in, the government continues to go forward with its liquidation of the plant. To give the most recent bidder a fair chance, my question is, will the minister commit today to put the liquidation process on hold while the government staff evaluates today's going concern bid?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, as I stated last week, the deadline was extended several months for bids so that all bids could be considered and a significant length of time was made available for any and all groups, including the employees as well as interests across the entire continent. That proved unsuccessful and NSBI, who is the main creditor, along with the receiver, has accepted a bid.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that is actually a shameful response. The loss of 100 jobs in a region like this is comparable to the loss of thousands of jobs in the metropolitan area. These employees have very specific skills and are without any real or comparable job prospects in this region or even within Nova Scotia. I want to ask the minister, what concrete status will the minister take, if any, to ensure a fair and immediate assessment of today's bid to save these 100 jobs at Britex?

[Page 3566]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, it's an extremely unfortunate situation when a company piles up a massive amount of debt and cannot meet their operating line - in excess of $4 million was owed at this particular plant. It went into receivership by its main creditors. At that point, the process is the receiver then looks for other options and every possible opportunity in time lengthening and exploring any possible number of bids was conducted to see if there was a viable business plan that could go forward. Unfortunately, that process was exhausted. There was none. The receiver has moved and accepted a bid.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

ENERGY: EXPLORATORY LICENCES

(04/02/02-05/12/04) - NUMBER

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are starting to question the future of the offshore industry here in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotians are also questioning whether this government actually has a plan to develop the future of the offshore industry.

[3:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, two years ago, following the helpful intervention by the Premier in the dispute with Newfoundland over the Laurentian Sub-basin, Nova Scotians were embarrassed to see Newfoundland take the vast majority of jurisdiction over the Laurentian Sub-basin. At the time, the minister of the day said it really didn't matter because there was only one exploration licence on the Nova Scotia side of the Laurentian Sub-basin. My question to the minister is, could the Minister of Energy indicate to the House how many exploratory licences have been issued by his government since April 2, 2002?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to echo the member's concern that we all share, and that's the continued exploration and development of our offshore as was highlighted by all parties present at the OTC in Houston. In terms of exploratory licences, the Department of Energy is working to not only look at new activities, but the block in question is under review with those officials as the Government of Canada has transferred jurisdiction to Newfoundland and Labrador. We've spoken to that province and are working through that process. There are 17 blocks that are subject to negotiation and I will provide the member with full details and current status.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the answer to the question of how many new exploratory licences have been issued since April 2, 2002, is simple - none. There haven't been any, which is again leading to the question of what plan does this government actually have for development of the offshore. Now, our good neighbours over to the east in Newfoundland, on May 4, 2004, the Newfoundland Government announced eight new exploration licences for the Laurentian Sub-basin; Nova Scotia, none. So my question very

[Page 3567]

simply to the minister is, does Nova Scotia intend to issue any new exploratory licences or is it actually waiting for Newfoundland to develop the Nova Scotia side of the sub-basin?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I just want to reiterate a fact that has been well-known in this province, and that is we have $1.56 billion in work commitments on 56 blocks. There are a number of blocks that are currently under review with corporate interests that want to look and see an opportunity for exploration and development. Our exploration plan for this year is on target and we hope to exceed that even in the midst of other uncertainties and disappointing news such as Weymouth. So we're moving forward and the block in question regarding the sub-basin is under review to realign that and we continue to work for development on both sides of the boundary.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this minister talks a lot about the future of the offshore, but there is no action; and no, he didn't answer the question of whether he's waiting for Newfoundland to develop our side. The fact is that there has not been one significant discovery since this government has taken office. There have been no new projects since the Sable Project and, finally, we now hear that there were no new exploratory licences being issued for the last two years. My final supplementary is, when is this Minister of Energy going to act and allow for more exploration off our coast, especially in the Laurentian Sub-basin?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, we've had some very positive news in our offshore, both at the Margaree and the MarCoh wells. As EnCana looks at the redevelopment plan with regard to Deep Panuke, it would actually involve Deep Cohasset, a whole new field, with a significant gas bay. Also, it doesn't take into account the efforts by Marathon which we've seen in a positive development with the Annapolis well and their commitment to move forward this year, this June, in exploring on the Crimson well. ExxonMobil is moving forward. The industries are moving forward. Maybe the Liberal Party could move forward with the rest of this province.

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

HEALTH: ALLIANCE FOR PREVENTION OF

NEEDLE-STICK INJURY - MEET

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the alliance for prevention on sharps and needle-stick injuries has been working across the country to help identify and eliminate the risk of needle-stick injury for health care workers. These injuries put workers at risk in contracting diseases such as hepatitis and HIV. The alliance has developed draft occupational health and safety regulations that would deal with these potential lethal injuries but, unfortunately, they haven't been able to get any agreement from the government to implement them. In fact, they can't even get a meeting with the minister. I will table those regulations here today. So I want to ask the Minister of Health why haven't you met with the alliance,

[Page 3568]

and will you commit today to meet with them and discuss these regulations with a view of implementing them in this province?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm not personally aware of a request to meet with me. It's very difficult for me to commit to a set of regulations that I have not seen.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I will assure him that he was asked and no answer was coming forward. The alliance recommends that every workplace where there is a risk of exposure should have an exposure control plan to develop with the input of front-line health care workers, and the use of safety engineered sharp devices are approved by Health Canada and have been mandated in each of these facilities. They recommend that clearly-established protocols are vital in dealing with needle-stick injuries. We have seen over the past few weeks the clear need for provincial protocols relating to surgical instruments so I want to ask the minister to agree to mandate exposure control plans and will he work with the DHAs to develop province-wide protocols relating to sharps and sharp injuries?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that we continue to work with the DHAs on ensuring that our workplaces are as safe as they can be. We do that with a recognition that we always need to be aware of changes and potential changes that can become available in the workplace and we make every effort to remain up to date.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise you that nurses receive an estimated 50 per cent of all needle-stick injuries in Canada and as many as 1,800 of those accidents happen here in this province. Most of these accidents, as all accidents, are preventable. Cost estimates to fully implement these types of regulations would be less than $500,000. Nurses and other health care professionals deserve protection in their workplace so I want to ask this minister again, when can health care professionals in this province expect the government to make this investment in their safety? Will he commit today to funding and will he start working with the DHAs to begin integrating these safety devices in hospitals and other institutions?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we continue to work with the DHAs every day to ensure that we are doing our utmost to have a safe workplace. We continuously monitor that which is available to assist us in making that workplace safe. I can tell the honourable member we will continue to make ourselves aware of what is happening with respect to safety in the workplace.

[Page 3569]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

AFRICAN N.S. AFFS. - MONITORING COMM.:

CONCERNS - RESPONSE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is for the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. Last night the chairman of the monitoring committee established following a 1974 human rights complaint about the failure of Nova Scotia's education system and four Halifax County Black communities, reported to the Halifax Regional School Board that things are getting worse for African-Nova Scotian students and parents. She pointed to systemic problems in the system, many that have been highlighted in the 10-year-old Black Learners Advisory Committee Report. The BLAC Report and advocates are saying that we need more resources to ensure that Black students receive a decent education in Nova Scotia. My question to the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs is, how do you plan to respond to the concerns raised by the monitoring committee at last night's school board meeting?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite and I will tell the member opposite that our government has invested more money in this budget and in the last budget to address recommendations in the BLAC Report. We will continue to support that report and we will continue to work with CACE to ensure that the report is prioritized and we move forward on a step-by-step basis to implement those recommendations to benefit African-Nova Scotians.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this government needs to give the education of African-Nova Scotian students a higher priority. At the step-by-step rate that the minister refers to that this government is taking to implementing the BLAC Report, a child who started school when that report came out will have graduated by the time that the recommendations of this report are implemented. My question for the minister is, why is it taking your government so long to implement the recommendations of the BLAC Report?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would disagree with the member opposite. Our government is very proactive and moving forward at a rapid pace to implement the recommendations in the CACE report, the BLAC Report.

The CACE organization has helped us develop a work plan to move forward and we will continue to do so with the Department of Education and other departments to ensure that those recommendations are dealt with in a timely and reasonable manner. I can assure the member opposite, and all Nova Scotians, that our government takes the recommendations made in that report very seriously and are working very progressively to get that report implemented in a fair and reasonable way.

[Page 3570]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I hardly think that 10 years is moving forward at a rapid pace. Mr. Speaker, we have a 10-year-old BLAC Report that sadly is gathering dust on a shelf and we now have an office of African Nova Scotian Affairs where we haven't seen a great deal of action. That could be because the amount of staff for that office is very low. One full-time staff member, and four part-timers. My question to the minister is why is it that so few staff in your division were designated for full-time employment for such important responsibilities?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, to the member opposite, as I indicated during questioning in estimates, our office is in the infancy stage, we have only just begun to bring it up to speed. We intend to hire more than one full-time staff. When we bring forward our business plan, it will show that there are a number of full-time staff. The issue the member opposite is talking about, is the fact that many of these staff will be hired partway through the year. I want to remind the member opposite that our government has invested over $4 million in the BLAC Report. We are the government that was able to provide opportunities for African-Nova Scotians to have a voice at the table of the school boards in Nova Scotia. We are progressive on this matter. I believe if the member opposite would speak to the African-Nova Scotians she will find that they are very satisfied with the direction our government is going with respect to this file.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: BIO-SOLIDS MORATORIUM - EXTENSION

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Two weeks ago the Department of Environment and Labour extended the moratorium on applying bio-solids to land for another two weeks, meaning May 15th. New approvals for land applications will not be issued until the government finalizes its policy on this matter. A press release dated April 19th, stated that the extension would allow the government more time to consider public comments and scientific evidence. Saturday is May 15th and the government has yet to make a decision. My question to the minister is, will this moratorium on applying bio-solids to land be extended beyond May 15th?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member for the question. Certainly the moratorium was extended, we knew we wanted to take as much time as was practical to ensure that we listened to Nova Scotians. We listened to people who had issues, also to ensure that we gathered as much scientific information as was possible, and then to assess what would happen to the moratorium.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the draft guidelines released in March of this year, will allow only treated sludges that meet specific biological and chemical criteria to be applied to the land. Has the government chosen to select the safest method available for treating and neutralizing bio-solids? This decision is imperative to the contractors who must

[Page 3571]

safely dispose of these solids and to the residents of Nova Scotia who must be assured of their safety with regard to their land application. My question to the minister is, what has the government done to address the environmental concerns that are coming out in other provinces with more proactive approach in treating bio-solids?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly have done a review and we've looked to other jurisdictions, we've actually looked North American wide as well as worldwide to ensure that gathered information with the latest scientific technology to take care of contractors who are going to handle this material, certainly to individuals who will be working around it, as well as to the environment and all Nova Scotians.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister has stated that the extension will allow the government to finalize its policy on land application. Six other provinces including Alberta, are taking the approach of ceasing to use land application. Is this province taking into consideration a central disposal site comparable to the move to solid waste generation II landfills, which are being centrally located. So my final question to the minister is, will the minister tell this House where is this policy, and at what stage of completion it may be in?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly are committed to coming up with the best possible policy for Nova Scotians to ensure that everybody is safe, to ensure that we protect the environment. We're looking at all technologies currently, and we have committed to continue to look at any new technologies that will come forward, any new scientific data that will come forward to ensure that we can improve as we move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

EDUC.: CHESTER DIST. SCH. - COMMUN. CONCERNS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is to the Minister of Education. Last night the Chester District Home and School Association unanimously passed a resolution calling for the South Shore District School Board to resign. At issue is the transfer of three very popular school teachers at the Chester District School. The home and school association faxed their letter of concern to me, and I was speaking to one of the activist parents this morning. I would like to table that letter for the record. Clearly, the home and school association and members of this community have lost faith in the system. My question to the Minister of Education is, what have you done to address the concerns of this community about their school?

[Page 3572]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question, and I do know that the situation down there is something that is of some concern to some residents of the community. I can also tell the House that the member for Chester-St. Margaret's has kept me abreast of that situation. However, as the honourable member will know, that is a personnel matter, and it is between those who are affected and the school board. My understanding is that whatever happened down there was consistent with the provisions of the collective agreement.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on Tuesday, April 15th, I attended a public meeting where concerns were expressed about the school, about the principal and about these teachers. The home and school association says there have been personality difficulties with a history. Four hundred people have signed a petition to bring these three teachers back. My question to the minister is, when will you investigate this situation and report back to the community?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I've actually spoken to a couple of the parents about that, and we've received a fair bit of communication in our office about that. I know there have been letters, if they have not been responded to yet, they soon will be. Indeed, members of my staff have spoken to individuals who approached me about this. I've also spoken to school board members about it, and I've also had the opportunity, a week ago, to meet the replacement principal. Any time you have a situation like that, there is tension. What I can say is that the matter is being handled, and whatever is happening is consistent with the provisions of the teacher's collective agreement.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I must remind the minister that this school board answers directly to you, sir. Throughout this entire ordeal, the residents of the community have wondered, where is the leadership from the Department of Education? Where is the leadership from the Minister of Education? An unanimous vote of non-confidence in a board and the director of education should cause you great concern. These parents and the members of this home and school association are looking forward to meeting with you when they come to this House at a future date. Are you prepared to meet with them when they do come to Halifax?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware - I have not received any communication from anything that happened last night. When and if I get that communication, we will deal with it in the normal way.

[Page 3573]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - GAS PRICES:

ACTION PLAN - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the cost of gasoline is entering a crisis phase, goods and services are being affected. Nova Scotia families, truck drivers, taxi drivers, courier companies and bus companies are all being affected. Tourism this summer will clearly suffer as a result of our high gas prices in Nova Scotia. The buses that take our children to school are going to cost school boards more, costing taxpayers more. The Premier has indicated that he has a plan that will be released shortly, but unless this plan results in a price reduction, the Premier might as well put his plan on the shelf. My question to the Premier is, could the Premier indicate whether his so-called plan will result in a reduction in gasoline prices and provide immediate relief to Nova Scotian consumers?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, what I'll tell the member opposite and all Nova Scotians is we believe this is a very serious matter. We believe government needs to step in and do something and that we will provide Nova Scotians with a short-term solution as well as an opportunity for a long-term lasting solution. The member opposite will see that when we bring it forward and it will be very soon.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier committed to take action months ago. Every day that goes by, every hour that goes by, is more money out of the pockets of Nova Scotian taxpayers and Nova Scotian consumers - something which, apparently, this government takes much joy in doing each and every day.

Mr. Speaker, one way for Nova Scotians to see immediate relief is for the government to reduce its taxation at times when the price of gas is so high; the other is for the government to encourage industry to lower their prices by also demanding that the industry justify why the prices are so high. My question is to the Premier, who made this commitment to Nova Scotians to take action. Will the Premier commit to either rescind or freeze the 2 cent increase on the price of gas that his government imposed two years ago, as long as gas prices remain so high in Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, what I will say is that the issue of reducing gas taxes has been studied by governments across this country, including the federal government who in 1998, the Liberal caucus produced a report that took from other reports, a 1996 report by

[Page 3574]

the New Brunswick Government that clearly showed that when the government reduced the price of tax in gas, the oil companies collected that tax and used it as profit. There's no guarantee, according to this report, that that would benefit consumers. What we need to do is benefit consumers, not necessarily gas companies, and we intend to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable minister to table a copy of the document that he just read from, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in 1998 the price of gas was not one dollar for self-serve. Today in 2004, under this government, it is. This government, every day that goes by, is continuing to allow Nova Scotians to pay an unfair price for gas in this province. It is the Premier himself who made this commitment to Nova Scotians and yet he refuses today to answer questions on his own commitment. Nova Scotians know that this government is clearly reaping additional revenue as a result of these high gas prices. The decision by this government to impose a 2 cent per litre increase in 2002 has added to the burden for Nova Scotians. My question again to the Premier is, will the Premier commit today to providing relief to Nova Scotians immediately?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Government spends all of its gas tax on the roads and bridges of Nova Scotia. This is something that will continue to occur. I would remind the member opposite that Ottawa collects $140 million each year of gasoline tax in the Province of Nova Scotia, returning a very small amount of that money each year. The member opposite might do a great service to the people of Nova Scotia if he could convince his federal counterparts to return more of that money to Nova Scotia.

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

COM. SERV. - SOC. ASSIST. RECIPIENTS:

FOOD BUDGET - ADEQUACY

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The province is in a battle with the federal government to recoup $900,000 it gave social assistance clients for food following Hurricane Juan. The federal government says the clients should have had insurance, but the head of Emergency Measures stated in the media - and I'll table the article - "My heavens, if a person has to go to a food bank to eat, if they're having problems finding enough money for groceries, those might be people who simply can't afford to buy insurance." My question to the Minister of Community Services, will you also admit that the food budget for social assistance recipients leaves them in a constant struggle to feed their families?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the first thing that I would like to acknowledge is, as the member has pointed out, when Hurricane Juan struck it was right after the monthly cheques went out. A lot of Community Services clients lost a portion of their monthly

[Page 3575]

groceries, which, perhaps, were in the freezer. We took the right steps, regardless of what the federal government does. We did the right thing by our clients.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act also made a comment on the federal government's arguments in the same article. He said, in regard to the claim for the food assistance, "I would say it's somewhat cold-hearted on their part." Hurricane Juan only added to the burden families on social assistance face month after month, living on inadequate food and shelter allowances. I ask the minister, if the federal government's stand is cold-hearted, what words does he think best describes the continual cycle of poverty clients of his department face every day?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for this question. This is something which was discussed at some length during the estimates. There is a number of approaches I could take to it, but I think that the most important thing, when it comes to breaking the cycle of poverty, is to empower those clients to better their circumstances. That's why, with the entry of the Employment Support and Income Assistance Program on August 1, 2001, we increased the amount of employment support which is invested in our clients to the tune, now, of $17 million a year. That is a very significant investment, and it's working and it's helping break the cycle.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, that translates into $4 a person per cheque. A single person on employment support and income assistance is expected to live on a base amount of just over $400 a month. That's for shelter, food, clothing, medication and transportation. My final question to the Minister of Community Services is, when will you admit your amounts are grossly inadequate and that women, men and children in this province are going hungry as a result?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, just to put this in context, the amount that a social assistance recipient is entitled to receive would depend on their circumstances. It would be appropriate just to put that on the record. Of course the member opposite is aware that steps were taken to bring the food allowance up to the market basket measure, as determined by Statistics Canada for a healthy diet. That was done in this budget, it is kicking in on October 1st, and we're very pleased that that is happening this year. I assure the member opposite that in future years, if the cost of living continues to rise, we will continue to look at this come budget time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

HEALTH - QUEENS GEN. HOSP.:

ANAESTHESIOLOGIST - ADVERTISING DETAILS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. A couple of weeks ago, the Minister of Health, in this House, committed to supporting the

[Page 3576]

South Shore DHA in recruiting an anaesthesiologist for the Queens General Hospital. The residents in Queens County live in fear because they have been let down by this government before. I note with interest the Department of Health has not listed anaesthesiology as a specialty they are currently trying to recruit for the South Shore region, neither has the South Shore District Health Authority. Why has neither the Department of Health nor the South Shore District advertised for an anaesthesiologist?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the department works very closely with the district health authorities in determining the recruitment strategies. That would be a question I would have to ask of the district health authority, as to why that has not been identified.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I will tell you why, it's because, in all likelihood, this government is not interested in filling this position at Queens General Hospital. In fact, a hidden message can be found on Page 47 of Your Health Matters when it states, "No one wants to see a service lost . . . But the focus must always be on how care can be delivered safely, in a setting that provides the greatest benefits to a patient's health, reasonably close to home." For the people of Queens County, this means that they don't need an anaesthesiologist at Queens General Hospital, they can make do with the services provided at the South Shore Regional Hospital, however challenged this hospital may be in terms of capacity. My question to the minister is, will he confirm today that an anaesthesiologist will be recruited for the Queens General Hospital?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I will confirm and commit to is working with the DHA to fill the requirements they feel they need in order to deliver health care for the area for which they're responsible.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I note that it's not only an anaesthesiologist that is in question. I further understand that underutilized sterilization equipment has been transferred from Queen's General to South Shore Regional Hospital. No wonder the people of Queen's County are worried, look at the great job this government did in hiding the situation with the Shelburne Youth Centre. My question to the minister is, will the minister come clean and tell the people of Queen's County what role Queen's General will play in the delivery of health care in this province - will it be performing surgeries or not?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the role that facility will play is a role that will be determined by the district health authority according to the business plans that they have put forward. We will work with them to ensure that facility is providing a range of services that are appropriate for the needs of that community.

[Page 3577]

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

TCH - AGNS: FUNDING CUTS - EFFECTS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, this year the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia experienced a 10 per cent funding cut. In spite of this cut, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia expected to undertake an ambitious program to increase visitors, boost donations and advance the promotion and marketing of this first-class venue, quite an ambitious agenda when the gallery's funding is less than what it received two years ago. So I ask the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage, how can his department expect the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia to meet its business plan with a 10 per cent cut?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Art Gallery certainly does play a vital role here especially in HRM, but also in the entire province. Of course, good planning and management will be key in order to ensure the continued success of the Art Gallery.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia is a critical factor in promotion of the visual arts in this province. It helps promote Nova Scotia artists and it also helps educate people of all ages in the visual arts. The number of visitors are down and the Art Gallery identifies the need for an aggressive promotion and community outreach to get more people through their doors. My question to the minister is, how can the Art Gallery promote itself with less money than the previous two years?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as the member well knows, our funding which is certainly the base funding to the Art Gallery is not the only funding that is used by the gallery. We will continue to work with the Art Gallery with respect to their business plan. I certainly feel that we're going to see a strong year for tourism in this province this summer. I believe the Art Gallery will play an integral role in that.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, the funding the government gives to the Art Gallery is very important to those people, important to continuing the great service they give to our province. The Nova Scotia Museum sites experienced their second cut in a row and museums are getting 7 per cent less than two years ago. My question for the minister is, you boast of increases in cultural funding while museums and art galleries face budget cuts, so where is the money going?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member's speaking with reference to a particular museum and I would ask him to table which one would be losing money this year. I believe his facts are incorrect with respect to that.

Secondly, I would suggest that we will continue to work closely with the Art Gallery and we have increased the funding for culture this year and we are making strategic investments which we believe will help grow the cultural industries in our province.

[Page 3578]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH - SOLDIERS' MEM. HOSP.: ACUTE CARE - VISION

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Last week I asked the Minister of Health a question with regard to the future of Soldiers' Memorial Hospital. As was expected, he indicated that was the responsibility of the DHAs to make those types of decisions, even though it is the minister's responsibility to provide the overall vision as to the direction of health care in this province. Given that it is the Minister of Health's responsibility to divine the vision for health care, could the minister please outline his vision as to the role strong community hospitals like Soldiers' Memorial will play as an acute care facility?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the vision that this department has and that this government has is that the people of this province receive the level of health care that is appropriate to their needs to the extent that we are able to provide it, given the resources that we have. I can also tell the honourable member that we look forward to discussions with the Government of Canada to ensure that the funding commitments that are required from them will be forthcoming in the near future.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to do an introduction, if you don't mind. I would like to introduce the Minister of Health to the Premier and the Premier to the Minister of Health, because money coming from Ottawa, according to the Premier, is going to tax cuts and coming from the Minister of Health, it's going to health. I would like to know which one is it?

MR. MACISAAC: Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should be introduced to the federal Grits, then he can get some money from them.(Interruptions)

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, will the minister make a commitment that that money will go into health or is the Premier going to give it in a tax cut? I would like to be able to tell the people of Annapolis which it is. Are we going to close Soldiers' Memorial or are we going to come out with another tax scheme just prior to the next election, what is it?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the House earlier this week, we have had some encouraging discussions with the federal Minister of Health. I see that the Minister of Health Promotion at the federal level is going to be speaking with me by telephone tomorrow. I'm encouraged. I don't know if I should be suspect about their sudden interest in my views with respect to health care, but I welcome the opportunity to share them.

[Page 3579]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH: AGRAPOINT BUS. PLAN - TABLE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. I think, painfully, many of us in this House remember the cuts to the Production Technology Branch of the Department of Agriculture that caused the formation of the Agricultural Development Institute, which has since morphed into AgraPoint International Inc. AgraPoint, a Crown Agency, operates as if it is a private business but it receives $2.2 million in public funds each year and we found out that it was not subject to freedom of information requests.

Recently, members of the AgraPoint board asked the executive of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture to endorse its business plan. I would say, on the surface, that's a very good thing, except that they refused to show them the business plan. So I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, will he commit to table AgraPoint's business plan in this House by the end of the day tomorrow, considering he's the sole shareholder?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the question. I will endeavour to do my best to have that business plan tabled in the House by tomorrow.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister. The public should have access to business plans because lots of people in the agricultural sector have deep concerns about this arrangement; people like Lise Leblanc. She owns a nutrient management company

and now finds herself competing with AgraPoint for business. Ms. Leblanc doesn't get government money to help her with her costs of doing business but AgraPoint does. So I ask the minister, can he explain to Ms. Leblanc why his government is funding the very competition that is threatening the future of her small business?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite fully knows, Ms. Leblanc is a member of the AgraPoint board and therefore could ask that question directly to the board of directors.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, but the board of directors are not the shareholders, the minister is the shareholder, so he should answer the question. Members of various commodity groups, including Pork Nova Scotia, say AgraPoint is of no advantage to them. In fact, the lines are blurring between what services are free and what services must be paid for by producers. So my final question to the minister is, will he table an itemized list of services and their associated fees to producers in the House by tomorrow, along with the business plan?

[Page 3580]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have previously committed that I will have the business plan in place. As I mentioned to the member for Annapolis, yesterday, we are working on this concern. There are some questions being raised by the federation, by the council of leaders and by others in respect to Agra-Point and I can commit to this House that we're doing our best to address those problems.

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

HUM. RES.: HWY. WORKERS - BINDING ARBITRATION

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Human Resources. We know that Nova Scotia highway workers have been forced to work without a collective agreement since October 2002. Five months ago they applied to the Highway Workers Employee Relations Board for binding arbitration on the outstanding issues at the time. Despite the decision of the Employee Relations Board, this government continues to fight these valuable workers and won't give them what they had won by the Employee Relations Board. So I want to ask this minister, when will your government abide by its own legislation and the ruling of this board and proceed with binding arbitration for these valuable workers in this great province?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, the Government of Nova Scotia's public policy on highway workers - these workers do provide an important service to all Nova Scotians. It's something that we definitely have looked at in the past and things that will come forward. The arbitration is something that is through a Supreme Court of Nova Scotia appeal from the Employee Relations Board, something that will at that point in time be determined. It will be up to them to come to us with whatever judgment comes out of that.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, she either refused to answer it or doesn't know the question. Clearly it's her department that is pursuing this issue. They have a set of rules, the workers are willing to live by them. They have a piece of the most restrictive labour legislation in this country. The workers are willing to live by it, but the government is not happy with just beating these employees, they want to run them into the ground. So I want to ask this minister, why are you taking such delight in punishing these hard-workers for the Province of Nova Scotia.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, we share the interest of employees in having this situation resolved and as soon as that decision comes forward, then we'll proceed with that decision.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if she wants to resolve it, it's simple - drop the proceeding. There's no magic here. It's just commonsense. You treat your employees with respect. I'm going to ask the minister one more time, respect these hardworking Nova Scotians and withdraw your suit?

[Page 3581]

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I believe that the question was to respect highway workers in Nova Scotia and this government does respect highway workers in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

JUSTICE - CBRM POLICE: FUNDING - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. (Interruption) I will stand up and vote no, as I did last night. Unlike the new side of the Tories, over this side. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. As we are all aware, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality has been asking and seeking assistance for some time now to deal with the OxyContin issue and despite the fact of some of the moans over there, it is a real problem. The Minister of Justice has submitted a letter of so-called assistance to the CBRM. There were no dollars behind this minister's commitment to assist in solving the problem. So my question to the minister, could the minister please explain why he has failed to come to the table with some provincial resources to help assist the Cape Breton Regional Municipal Police?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member's question on what is an important subject. It is very unfortunate that the CBRM and their police service have not seen fit to cooperate in an effort to assist in eradicating the scourge of drugs in Cape Breton. This government remains willing to assist in ending that scourge. We remain committed to this and I would ask the honourable member to probably spend his time more forcefully talking to the people at the CBRM.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Justice has probably the most amount of nerve that I have ever witnessed in this House, to stand up and call down the Cape Breton Regional Police Service for what they're doing right now to fight the drug problem in Cape Breton. While people die in the streets of Cape Breton this minister brings nothing to the table whatsoever. The Chairman of the Police Commission at CBRM has painted a very different picture as well than what the minister is stating. The Chairman states: "So I say if you want to come to the table, Mr. Minister, we're here. Come with the money. Come with the chequebook. Don't come here with rhetoric."

[Page 3582]

Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, when does this minister intend to approach the Cape Breton Regional Municipal Police with some financial resources rather than the rhetoric which merely lectures the chief of police there to set aside what he sees as an historic conflict with the RCMP?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it's quite disheartening to see that the honourable member is trying to play politics with what is a very, very serious policing issue. As the honourable member knows, in order to deal with a crime issue, and it is the crime issue (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable minister allowed for the honourable member to put the question and I would ask the honourable member to allow for the minister to respond, please.

MR. BAKER: As I said, Mr. Speaker, it's very disheartening to see that what the House is not being encouraged to do, is to encourage the parties to put police officers on the street, which is what the provincial proposal was, but to instead play politics with a very serious criminal issue.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, this member is not playing politics and I can bet that if people were dying on the streets of Lunenburg as a result of drug overdoses . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Next question.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I did call for order. The honourable member's microphone was off. I will allow him to put his last supplementary question, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, you know, when you're dealing with drug addictions and solutions to assist in the prevention of drug addictions, it's a provincial responsibility. The minister knows that. So my final question to the minister is, why isn't he prepared to put provincial resources on the table to deal with a problem that is ultimately a provincial responsibility?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is the responsibility of every level of government, both municipal and provincial, to address the serious criminal issue of drug trafficking in this province. We made an offer in good faith and belief that it would help to counter the scourge

[Page 3583]

of drug trafficking in Cape Breton and that's what's going to help to make a difference in the lives of those unfortunate individuals.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COM. SERV.: ALEXANDRA CHILDREN'S CTR. - ASSIST

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you my question is to the Minister of Community Services. The Alexandra Children's Centre in north end Halifax is a non-profit daycare serving 90 families. The centre has been struggling for over a year to find a new home due to its impending eviction from its present location. It has secured land in HRM to construct a new centre and the board and staff are actively fundraising with parents; however, repeated requests for assistance from the minister has brought no action. Their lease extension ends June 30th and time is wasting. So my question to the Minister of Community Services is, when will your department finally take action to ensure this daycare has a home on July 1st?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, just to put this in context, I believe what the member is asking, is whether there is going to be any start up and expansion grant with this year's programs. To answer her question, it will follow the subsidy review which was also requested by the sector. Once we deal with that issue and the Beech report we will then move forward and if there are monies left over, I'd be very pleased to see a start up and expansion grant program this year, and they could apply for that program.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the subsidy review could take months. The minister assured the Alexandra Children's Centre Board that if additional federal funding was fast tracked, the government would help pay for the construction of a new centre. The need is obvious and it is pressing. This centre serves many needy families in Halifax and its loss would be devastating. So far the minister's idea of helping was to suggest a completely unsuitable location at a former heating plant in Mulgrave Park. I want to ask the minister, when can the centre expect confirmation that the money will be in place for construction of a new facility?

MR. MORSE: I thank the honourable member for the chance to stand up and set the record straight. The Alexandra Children's Centre did come forward and ask for assistance. Our good people in housing services did go out above and beyond what was expected of them, and tried to work with them to help them secure an alternative location. As the member opposite would probably be aware, I have been corresponding with the children's centre and keeping them apprised of what would have to happen in order to assist them in this regard. I completely agree with her. I do want to see the Alexandra Children's Centre continue to be able to serve the needs of the north end.

[Page 3584]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, time is running out, but all the minister can offer is that Community Services staff will contact the board if space becomes available. The only space in evidence so far has been the space between the minister's ears.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's unparliamentary. I'll ask the honourable member to retract it. The honourable member for Halifax Needham on her final supplementary.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Yes, Mr. Speaker, certainly I will retract that remark. This centre is in a crisis situation - it's don't call us, we'll call you - I want to ask the minister, is this the best you can offer 90 families who depend on those daycare spaces?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to suggest to the member opposite that the chairman of the Alexandra Children's Centre would be a much better spokesperson for the centre, in fact, the chairman wrote me a letter recently saying how much he appreciates what we have done on the amount of the per diem for the subsidised day care spaces, and wanted to work with the department in this regard. I sent her back a letter commending her for this and I look forward to working with that chairperson.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

TPW - RICHMOND CO.: ROADWORK - PLANS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, as Nova Scotians are well aware the cost of gasoline is at an all time high in Nova Scotia. Renewing a drivers licence or vehicle registration continues to increase under the Hamm Government. While the residents of Richmond County have joined their fellow Nova Scotians in paying more money to this government, they have certainly not seen an increased investment in their local roads. While thousands of visitors are expected to visit Richmond County this summer as part of the World Acadian Congress, many fear their lasting impression will not be the beautiful scenery or warm hospitality, but rather the sad state of our roads.

My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will the minister indicate what road work the residents of Richmond County can expect this summer for the extra money they have been paying to this government?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, off the top of my head, I have no idea what roads are due for the repaving program in Richmond County this year, but I can assure the honourable member that I will have a list ready for him and suggest to him, however, that the final road program will not be in place until probably late July.

[Page 3585]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, while the government trips over itself to announce road tenders in Inverness, and the road stakes are already in place in Antigonish, the residents in Richmond County are left to wonder when they will see a return on their investment through the higher road taxes they've been paying to this government.

Mr. Speaker, roads in Arichat, Lower River, Rocky Bay, Cap Rouge, Saint George's Channel, and Little Harbour are a few of the examples of the roads that are in deplorable condition in Richmond County. My question again to the minister is, will the Minister of Transportation and Public Works commit to addressing the road needs of these communities in Richmond County?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was in Richmond County about six or eight weeks ago, I guess, and I was with my wife and she was commenting that the roads in Richmond County were better than they were in mine. (Interruption )

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We always know when it's getting near the end. (Laughter)

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, there's a lot of things a person could say in reply to that kind of comment, but the sad thing is that the people of Richmond County do not find this funny. They see the state of our roads. If the minister were to check with his own department to see in his claims section how many residents of Richmond County have sent in claims for damage done to their vehicles because of local roads, they would not be amused by the minister laughing at the state of the roads in Richmond County. (Interruption) The minister knows very well that roads in Richmond Country are not in great shape, they are in deplorable condition due to neglect for the last five years.

Mr. Speaker, good roads are essential to economic development and growth. So my question is, will the minister immediately announce what his government's plans are for road work in Richmond County this Summer?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member I wasn't laughing about the state of roads in Richmond, I was just making a comment as to what was told to me. With regard to my answer to him on his first supplementary, I thought that was a very civilized response. I said I would get him a list.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - MIDDLETON:

NURSING HOME FACILITY - LACK EXPLAIN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. It's becoming clear that more nursing home beds are needed across the

[Page 3586]

province to accommodate the growing number of seniors requiring care. The community of Middleton sits in the middle of an area with 36,000 residents, yet there is no nursing home in the immediate area to serve this population. Seniors requiring nursing home care must be removed from their community to Berwick, Aylesford or Annapolis Royal, away from family, friends and their homes.

Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister, why has this town's residents been forced to go for so long without a nursing home facility in their community?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that the residents of that community as well as a number of others in the province are having their needs assessed by the department. We are going to do an extensive evaluation of all of the care needs of seniors and develop appropriate plans. I've met with the people in Middleton and assured them that their requests and their plans - as the honourable member noted earlier in a resolution to this House congratulating them on the work that they did - that those efforts will in fact be taken into consideration.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, Middleton has a population with one of the highest ratios of seniors in the province. The Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society has been arguing for several years now that nursing home beds are required in this community, yet beds were opened in Berwick which already had a nursing home, without any consultation or notice to the Middleton and Area Nursing Home Society. So far there is no indication a nursing home will ever become a reality for this community. I want to ask the minister what assurances he can offer that this society's request is simply not being ignored and postponed?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that the request of that society will be given very serious consideration in the context of the total needs in that area.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, all the Nursing Home Society has had so far are empty promises. They've been left out of any consultation on opening more beds in the Annapolis Valley in spite of presenting a very strong case to the minister and his staff. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how much longer will this community be forced to ship its elderly citizens to other communities, simply because they require health care?

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the answer to the first question, there is a very significant consultation taking place throughout the entire province relative to the needs of seniors' care. I anticipate that to be completed in the current year, and we will formulate responses based on those findings.

[Page 3587]

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

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. (Interruptions) I only have a minute. Alder bushes are a common sight along our rural roads in Nova Scotia. They are also a menace to safety along our highways and back roads. Recently I've been receiving phone calls in my constituency office from concerned citizens. My constituents have told me that the alder bushes need to be removed from the ditches. They are calling the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and the local officers are telling them to cut them down themselves because they have no money or resources to deal with it. My question is, is the trimming or removal of alder bushes a Department of Transportation and Public Works' responsibility, and, if not, do I have to go home . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for Question Period has expired. (Interruptions) Order, please. It's getting to be quite a habit with the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Official Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 21.

Bill No. 21 - Trade Union Act/Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, if I may be permitted, could I do an introduction?

MR. SPEAKER: Most certainly.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery, there are a few people I would like to introduce today, some form the executive of the Highway Workers Union in this province. They are Gareth Drinnan, Joanne MacPherson, Melvin Smith, Mike MacIsaac and

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representative Ken Charsley from the Canadian Union of Public Employees. On behalf of yourself, I wish to welcome them to your gallery today. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, we have Bill No. 21 in front of us today, and one would think that in this day and age such a bill wouldn't be necessary, when we talk about people who work for this province. In essence, it says to the people that you have the right to free and collective bargaining. In the vernacular, it's a no-brainer. Why would we superimpose restrictions over one group of employees? Why would we not only cause them to have this special bar, but why is that even when the bar is instituted that they raise it yet again? These are some of the aspects I want to talk about today.

What I want to say first off is it's like any bill that comes before this House, whether it's from the government side or it's a private member's bill, Mr. Speaker, from this side of the House. Many of us will say, in debate, that while we don't agree with the full context of the bill, we believe the bill has merit and should go on for further study outside of this room, and have a larger vetting of that problem. So what's left for us to do?

Do we merely have this bill in front of us today and government use its hammer of time limitation to kill this bill? What's the effect of that? The effect of killing this bill says to these employees no, no, no, no, no, you're way different than any other set of government employees in this province, you're different from any other set of Public Service employees in this province; therefore, you need protection from this government in a very special way. It's wrong. It's totally and incomprehensibly wrong.

When government members are approached about this bill, where is the first corner of this bill that they go scurrying to? Do they go and look and say, you should have the rights of arbitration, you should be allowed to negotiate in a free collective manner? No. The little tiny part, the very minuscule part that this government goes and hides behind is - you'll then have the right to strike. For some reason, that is the overriding effect from government with this bill. It would allow these people the rights that are given to many other similar workers outside of this province, in other provinces. I see the minister shaking his head. We just saw a work stoppage in Newfoundland and they did that. These are rights enjoyed by many groups within municipality units.

In my area, the CBRM, the Public Works Department which plows many of the streets in the CBRM, they're given the right to strike. Why are we here today talking about - which should almost be a basic human right - giving them something? Is the government so

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disrespectful of these employees that, given this right, that's the first place that these workers would go, that these workers would run to that corner and say we want to strike?

Mr. Speaker, over 95 per cent of all collective bargaining that goes on in this province is solved without a work stoppage. Yet the government doesn't want to look into that. The government really just wants to go into that philosophical corner that keeps their heads buried in the 1930s. This is not right. This is not what these folks are looking for. These folks are looking for an equitable way to be treated.

Back in 1997, when the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act came into effect, they said this is better than what we had before, which was Order in Council - or basically known as OICs - this is better than that. But still it doesn't give us what we deserve as a worker, and workers deserve certain rights. They go and they labour - literally and figuratively - under the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

This is a rather cumbersome Act because again, as these appear to be, these are pieces of legislation that give workers' rights. By and large, it's a piece of legislation that limits workers' rights. It's not there to help the employee to resolve a problem with their employer. As a matter of fact, it's quite the opposite; it gives the employer the hammer, as they say.

With that, they said okay, we'll live with that. We will try as judiciously as possible to go along with what's going on here. What we do get then is a quasi-judicial labour relations board or human resources board that is set up under this Act that says you will be the ones who will be given the right to give decisions on what's arbitrary and what's not, and then we will abide by your decision.

Now this isn't a set of rules established by the union. It's the set of rules established by government. So what does the union do? It comes up and has a list of grievances. It takes it before this board and the chairman and two wingers, if you will, one representing management and one representing labour - that's probably the cleanest way to say it - and they arbitrate on these grievances.

Now, one would say, after going through all these cumbersome loops, that government will say, okay, we'll agree with the results of this board, we've tested them. They have to stay to a higher plane than any other worker in this province, that's what it is. We've got to show good faith, and that's all collective bargaining is, good faith. If you don't have good faith in collective bargaining, no matter what you sign off, it ain't worth nothing, because all you're saying, at the end of the day, is I'll sign it off but I ain't going to do it.

This is what's happening here. The government is not showing good faith. The government has lost these appeals from this board and the chairman, yet did the government say, okay, that's it, they're right, we're moving forward? No, they have the Department of Justice involved, who wants to take it to a higher level. Well, I will say to you, Mr. Speaker,

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there's no other way to say it but punitive. They're taking punitive action against the workers who work so hard for them.

Mr. Speaker, we hear many platitudes in this House when we're hit with catastrophes like Hurricane Juan and White Juan, and how they stayed out there night after night, and rightfully so. But when these heroes of our highways want the respect of their employer, they're sent scurrying off to the high courts. That's wrong. What this bill would do is it would allow these people the same recourse as other employees throughout this province. That's all we're asking for. I think we're asking for it in a very constructive way.

As I started off by saying through you, Mr. Speaker, many times - and we've said in the last couple of weeks - bills have come forward from government and we'll stand up and say to government, well, it's not a bad bill, it's not a great bill, but do you know what we'll do, we'll send it off - in the case of a government bill - to the Law Amendments Committee and we'll study it there and we'll see what the public has to say about it, and then maybe the House Leaders could talk about it and say, here's what we're hearing, and maybe we could tweak it here or there and we'll have a piece of legislation that all would work for.

Last night we had a fairly historic vote in this House, I would say. It was a matter of co-operation. People have said to me, you agreed with everything in the budget. I said, certainly not, I don't think the government believes in everything in the budget. But there are things in there that are there because of a minority situation. It's things I don't think would have been there had this been a majority government. That's respect; I respect where that comes from, because the previous government that had a majority worked that way, and that's fine.

The fact of the matter is that's what legislation is about. Legislation is not necessarily what goes into the meat grinder, comes out of the meat grinder. It can be moved and massaged. I would like to see Bill No. 21 stay intact. There are many things in there that we could live with and other things that maybe the government could present argument on. But what I'm asking the government today is this one simple piece of respect, and it's don't use time to kill this bill. These workers have now gone two years without a collective agreement. They're now looking at, probably, at first blush, an August date for a hearing in the high courts. That's just like letting lawyers check their summer schedules to see if they're available, so there's a larger than likely possibility that it won't even be that late, it will be even later.

What I'm asking government to do is don't use your time to delay it, let's look at it, and when we have more time, we'll move this forward and let the people of the province decide. You still have the right to call it back. The hammer still resides with you. Therefore,

we can do this. It's not worth killing this bill if it's just a philosophical position of the government. One hopes that when you govern that you govern for the whole province. If

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your philosophy becomes narrow and focused, you can't govern for everybody with a narrow focus because we're much too wide for that.

[4:30 p.m.]

What we have to do is look at this piece of legislation and what it does. It takes a group of people who time and time again have been lauded from all sides of this House for what they do for Nova Scotians, and all they're asking for is the rights that other Nova Scotians have. Nothing more, nothing less. What they're saying is, today, the Act of 1997, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act doesn't work for them. They tried it, and now government is being punitive with it, and they cannot work under those conditions anymore.

They want to say that we're like any other worker in this province. Give us the respect we deserve, give us the salary we deserve, give us the protection at the workplace for our safety and our job security and we will work for Nova Scotians today, before we have the right to strike, to the day after, if we get the right to strike, because that's what it's about. It's about serving Nova Scotians; it's not about serving their union, it's not about serving anybody else but this province.

They do a great job for this province, Mr. Speaker. They're called to service, and when that bell rings, literally, they answer it. So I'm asking the government, don't do the time delay, let this bill move forward. Thank you.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to have the opportunity today to welcome our friends in the gallery from the Highway Workers Union and to take part in the debate on the bill brought forward by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

Mr. Speaker, we are very fortunate, and I would hope that the honourable members opposite, as well as the workers who work for the Department of Transportation and Public Works recognize how very pleased not only the Department of Transportation and Public Works is with their performance, but how the public perception of their performance is well-received as well. I know we've come off this year - it's been a terrible year, a disastrous year from the point of view of things that have occurred beyond the control of anybody.

Mother Nature has been there, and she's been working overtime in the last year to bring to Nova Scotia some rather remarkable weather, and, along with that, the attendant problems that come when we get copious quantities of rain, as we got last Spring. Then we were dealt the blow, of course, of Hurricane Juan, we had the monstrous snowstorm, we had

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one thing after another and, during that period of time, the highway workers did a fantastic job and I certainly applaud them for their efforts.

Make no mistake about it, Mr. Speaker, when I say I applaud them, I recognize that they have the rights of other workers. In 1997, there was no real working agreement for highway workers in this province. They were controlled by Orders in Council, which came out periodically which set their salaries and their terms of employment. There was some consultation, but very little. That is why, in this House, I supported a change that occurred in 1997 when we had the highway workers form a union.

Mr. Speaker, CUPE has performed remarkably well. We've had our differences, but you're always going to have differences between employers and employees, particularly when you come around to the time when you have to arrive at a negotiated agreement. We have been in that state for the last, I don't think it's quite two years, but it's getting very close to two years. But we haven't been doing nothing, we've been negotiating and, unfortunately, we haven't been able to reach a solution to the differences between us. This is the point - the highway workers in this province have the right to arbitration. They have the right to arbitration. There are other workers that work for the government that would - I was going to say give their eye teeth, but that's out of style these days because you don't get your teeth yanked out anymore. However, there are other workers in this province that would willingly give up their right to strike for the right to binding arbitration. That is what the present workforce has.

With binding arbitration, however, you accept through your agreement, what items can be arbitrated by the people who do the arbitration. This is where we have a problem at the moment. The problem is what list, what schedule of items can be arbitrated - that's what the present impasse is. The board has come forward and included in those items that can be arbitrated certain items that the government does not want to have arbitrated, to put it quite frankly.

Having reached an impasse there, the appeal process available both to the workers and to government is to the Supreme Court and that's what we've done. There is absolutely no reason why the government would want to delay the implementation of a new agreement because it's still going to cost us, whatever agreement we arrive at is going to be retroactive. Unfortunately, if we get a three-year agreement now, by the time we actually get to the stage of putting that agreement in place, we'll be paying for it and we'll be starting the negotiation process again.

As I say, I cannot say enough about the highway workers in Nova Scotia and I cannot say anything else other than the fact that we, in government, appreciate them and that we do want to get a fair settlement for the highway workers.

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The question that the media keeps bringing forward is, you don't want the workers to strike. Well, let me put it right on the line, we do not want the workers to strike and I don't think the people of Nova Scotia want the workers to strike. I don't think that the workers are just waiting for a chance to go out and strike, but however, I think while we have in place a regime that prevents strikes occurring and still ensures a fair settlement process to negotiations in the province, I think that's what we should protect and I will try to do my damnedest to protect that because I think it's a good process.

As I say, I know that in good faith when you're negotiating with unions - and I was Minister of Human Resources on a number of occasions in this province and I know some of the difficulties we get into, particularly when you've got essential services such as policing and fire protection and health and hospitals and highways, then you have to have some plan whereby those particular services to the public can continue. When you haven't got that, then you have chaos.

I can remember, I think it was the early-1980s when HRM police went on strike. We had people out here on Granville Street and on Hollis Street having road races up and down the streets. (Interruption) It was 1981, thank you. That kind of thing we abhor, and sensible people don't do those things, but there are always those who take advantage of a situation to create those kinds of conditions.

I would like to carry on the way we have been and the way that I believe is possible to carry on in the future whereby we can settle those particular disagreements with regard to pay and to the various things that go before the arbitration board, and do that in a sensible fashion. Certainly, Mr. Speaker, that is my intent.

With regard to the fact that the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre was inferring that you could put in place some kind of a system whereby you could declare some people as essential workers and have them come in, I do not know anywhere where that has satisfactorily worked because it's always been an argument from the employer's side that we need more people and an argument from the employees that you need less people to maintain the services, and the two sides never meet and you get the impossible situation where some people are going to have to cross picket lines to get to work. I can understand the reluctance of strong union people to crossing picket lines to get to work, even though it is to provide an essential service, even though it is to provide something that is in their agreement and the union has agreed to.

So what's the answer? The answer I'm afraid is we're going to have to wait until the Supreme Court reaches a decision, and they will come down with a schedule either amended or increased or whatever the case may be. We will abide by it. I don't feel badly about the union trying to get more items under that schedule; that's fine, because that's their right. That's their right under this agreement that we have, and I will protect that. However, we

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have to remember that we also have the right - and I mean the government has the right to appeal whatever that arbitration board has brought forward.

Mr. Speaker, I would hope that this matter will be resolved in the very near future. I understand that there are some dates available for the Supreme Court very soon - I have five minutes left?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had agreed to share my time with the Minister of the Environment and Labour - I understand you wish to speak?

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

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to just make a few comments on the bill and the move of the responsibility for labour relations from the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act to the Trade Union Act. As the Minister of Environment and Labour, I'd like to point out that it's certainly important for me not to take any sides on the issue. However, there are a few comments I'd like to make, and I take this opportunity to discuss some of the issues and the efforts that may result from both workers and the employers, through the amendment that's put forward.

There are five different Acts now governing the labour relations for employees in Nova Scotia: the Trade Union Act; the Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act; the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act; the Corrections Act; and also the Teachers' Collective Bargaining Act. The Department of Transportation and Public Works employees who are on the construction and maintenance of highways are governed by the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

Certainly the current legislation, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, provides a framework for collective bargaining, a legislative framework, the same as what's available to civil servants, and at any given time, Mr. Speaker, the department has four or five provincial conciliators providing impartial conciliation and preventive mediation services in the unionized public and private sectors. The hard-working staff use their skills to minimize the numbers and the duration of work stoppages in the province through the timely resolution of conflicts. They promote and deliver quality training and alternate services designed to meet the needs of their clients, and I'm pleased to say that they have the trust and respect of those clients and they've worked very hard to maintain that.

Each day, Mr. Speaker, we have 400,000 people going to work in the Province of Nova Scotia. Less than 30 per cent of that work is in a unionized environment - and that equates to about 100,000 employees being unionized members - and about 70 per cent of the public sector employees are unionized; whereas only 14 per cent of the private sector

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employees are unionized. I note that highway workers have requested conciliation services from staff in the past and certainly even thought they're, under the Act, not required to give out those services.

[4:45 p.m.]

I think it's also important at this point in time, Mr. Speaker, to say that from a personal point of view, what an exemplary job the employees perform. I can speak certainly from my own small area of the world, that when it comes to road maintenance and when it comes to work that takes place to ensure public safety, whether that be any kind of the work with regard to brush cutting, or anything else, they have an exceptionally high level of professionalism. I have found them certainly a pleasure to deal with and to work with. From a supervisor's point of view, they've been very cooperative and, as I've made comments in my office, that without a doubt, their problems and my problems tend to be the same and they work very diligently to try to answer calls and ensure that issues are taken care of.

It's important to recognize that the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act has only been in place since 1997, as has been mentioned, and since 1973 the union and the Department of Transportation and Public Works had undertaken collective bargaining under an Order in Council and it was agreed at that time that the legislative protection was required to secure this right.

I guess I would suggest that although the bill is very short and to the point, the implications of this proposed amendment are really not so simple and there are certainly some points there that have been made by the minister that everybody would be looking at. The main change this amendment would create is to give our highway workers the right to strike and the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act prescribes binding arbitration which is not a prescribed option under the Trade Union Act. As has been pointed out, I don't think anybody is looking to go on strike, nor does anybody believe that it would be possible for them to go on strike in the tenuous times of snowstorms and things like that, but there are a lot of options here. It's not nearly as simple as we might like.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in support of this particular piece of legislation. I believe it's the natural evolution of this process which will allow some 1,600 employees within the department to achieve what's rightfully theirs in the making. As has been noted, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act that was approved back in 1997 saw the successful completion of one negotiated agreement between the workers and the department and now we are in the process of trying to achieve a second.

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Mr. Speaker, it all hinges around one particular issue - the fact that the government has decided to exercise, legally, its right to challenge the decision of the arbitrator, but there's a very technical point. That clause was there more for technical, not for challenging the very essence of that process, and the government is taking a very narrow view so as to protract and delay this process. There's absolutely no need to it. The employees did not get everything that they went to the arbitration board for but, equally so, there were some substantive issues that were dealt with and this is why the government is challenging it. I think this is high-handed. I think it's patently unfair. I think what has happened is it has forced this particular piece of legislation to come before the House and I think that's unfair.

I heard the Minister of Environment and Labour compliment the employees from the department. I heard the Minister of Transportation and Public Works compliment the employees from the Department of Transportation and Public Works, but they're not here for platitudes. They're not here for a slap on the back. They're here for a fair deal. This contract expired almost two years ago and why the government would choose to take this very technical point under Section 44(1) and (2) of the Act and try to drag that out is beyond my comprehension.

Now the minister says it's not going to cost any more. But it is. Who's going to pay for the lawyers going to the Supreme Court? Who has been paying for all these meetings between the government and employees? Who's paying for all these protracted negotiations? The taxpayers of Nova Scotia. That's only adding to the final bill. We saw just similarly what happened with CBRM. I have to be somewhat cautious, because I've been accused of being a little bit critical of them lately. They just lost an arbitration. That cost them, as some would suggest, upwards of $300,000 that need not have been. So you have to ask yourself, Mr. Speaker, why is the government doing this? What's to be achieved by doing that? The government is challenging the very integrity of the legislation, that is not only law, but has been used very effectively. The minister himself on a previous date indicated . . .

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I was wondering if the honourable member would permit a question?

MR. MACKINNON: Yes.

MR. RUSSELL: The honourable member was a former Minister of Labour in this province, and as such, I believe 1998 was the time that he was the minister, at that time I believe there was a long protracted confrontation with a union, and I believe (Interruptions)

MR. MACKINNON: What was the question?

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MR. RUSSELL: My question was do you have different rules for different times I guess?

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we do not. We allowed the collective bargaining process to operate very effectively. We arrived in agreement with the various unions with the health care workers from all these different facilities. I believe in that 16-month period there were upwards of 14 collective agreements that were ratified without having to go to the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia. No court, period. We believed in the process. Was it easy? No it was not. There was a need to answer and speak to the issues of monetary compensation which that minister, who was part of a caucus that demanded resolve on these issues got the resolve using the collective bargaining process. We didn't hijack it. We didn't hijack the process, which is what is happening here with the present government.

They are definitely going beyond arbitration. The arbitration board has handed its decision. The government refuses to live by the spirit of the legislation. I think that is patently unfair. It's nice for the Minister of Environment and Labour to stand up and list, with great fanfare, all the different collective agreements. Pieces of legislation. What's he going to do? He is now part of a government that is now trying to hijack the collective bargaining process. He is, Mr. Speaker.

They have taken Section 44(1), which I will quote - I was handed this piece of legislation, but the minister knows what I'm referring to - it's the provision that allows appeal to the Supreme Court, on technical points. Not the thrust of the legislation, and challenging the entire integrity of the legislation. Surely to heavens such a narrow view is not reasonable and fair-minded, and the minister knows that. For an issue that has been in suspended animation for over two years. And now it looks like it could be another year.

This will cost the taxpayers money. The minister has not given any indication as to how much it's going to cost the taxpayers for this application to the Supreme Court. Every time these meetings take place there's a bastion of staff from government using the resources of the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to protract, delay. What is the government trying to achieve? Maybe it's hoping the membership will fall off and it makes it a little easier. Maybe it's trying to figure out some type of a tactical approach to divide and conquer.

Mr. Speaker, the government is saying yes, we want to challenge the ruling of the arbitration board and the arbitrator, but why? Why? With any sense of fair-mindedness, the government has not given a complete, clear, unequivocal reason why. Then we see members of the Tory caucus saying, oh, we support, we support the workers of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, we think they're the best, and they get up with all these complimentary things, but when these workers come and ask for some support of substantive value what do they do? They hide. They hide under the umbrella of some narrow interpretation of a piece of legislation.

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Mr. Speaker, I think that's wrong-headed. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, why isn't he standing up for the highway workers in his area? What about the member for Kings North, why isn't he standing up for his highway workers? (Interruptions) He says he is, but you talk to those workers, they don't convey that message. He must be a legend in his own mind, because he's the only one who believes it in that constituency. Talk to the 1,600 highway workers and they will tell you a different story. What about the good member for down the Eastern Shore? Why is he so quiet?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, we could go one by one by one, and what do you get? Silence of the Hamms, that's what we're getting. (Interruptions) Well, the patronizing comments from the member for Kings North, but when it comes to anything of substantive value, such as this particular piece of legislation or the issue that is at a complete impasse and polarizing activities within the Department of Transportation and Public Works, he's like a feather in the wind, he's all over the map, but he never says anything of substantive value that will try to address the problem.

I would be interested to see what that honourable member will say to the workers as to what influence or what persuasive powers he's using to bring closure to this, put a stop to this foolishness. Well, the cackling. That's about all we can ever expect from that member, platitudes and double-talk. (Interruptions) Well, Mr. Speaker, if standing up for 1,600 highway workers in this province is an insult, I'll accept that responsibility. Unlike that honourable member, who won't do anything. What representation has he made to the Minister of Environment and Labour on this issue? Can he table any letters, any correspondence, the result of any meetings that he's had? Probably not, because he won't do anything. It's all talk, a fluff of hot air.

What about the member for down in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley who's always the champion of the truckers and the road workers in this province? Why is he so silent? These people don't want to be sitting in the gallery at the Legislature, they want to be back on the job doing what they really enjoy doing best, serving the people of Nova Scotia.

The RIM program, just to digress just slightly, Mr. Speaker, I understand that many of these clusters of workers in various regions around the province aren't even permitted to put a bid for some of the RIM work which they feel that they can do cheaper then being contracted out. The question you have to ask is, why? If they can do it cheaper and save the taxpayers' money and help the Minister of Finance and help the Premier with his balanced budget, why won't they do it? Why is this government so wrong-headed?

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I support this legislation and I do believe that the government should stop finding delay tactics, because it's not good. It doesn't do anybody any good. The most important stakeholder here is the people of Nova Scotia. They are the losers, because the

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government, I don't know what kind of legal advice they're getting, but it must be just strictly for tactical purposes to delay, delay, delay. That's very unfortunate, because with all the comments that have come from the government benches about how they support the highway workers and they think they're great and they're doing a good job, but when they come and ask for help, what do they get - absolute silence.

We will be supporting this legislation and I would hope the government members don't try to use a tactical move like they've done in this process to delay approval of this particular piece of legislation to go on to the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have a few minutes today to rise in support of Bill No. 21 concerning the Nova Scotia highway workers. This is a very serious issue. It's one all about fairness and equity and really involving fair and free collective bargaining. Previous speakers have emphasized that strongly, and I certainly believe that that's really what it's all about. Our guests in the Speaker's Gallery, Mr. Speaker, wouldn't be here today unless they thought there was some inequality or unfairness to this issue.

As you may know, Mr. Speaker, we have less highway workers here in Nova Scotia then we used to. In the early 1990s we had as many as 2,600 highway employees in this province faithfully looking after our roads and bridges and highways but, through downsizing and cutbacks and rollbacks, workers are now down to about 1,600 in this province. So we've lost 1,000 highway employees over that period of time, so, naturally, those who are left are concerned. They're worried about perhaps further cutbacks. That's why we have the protection of a union. We have free collective bargaining, we would hope, that would help protect those who are there. Certainly contracting out is also responsible for the loss of some of our valued transportation employees.

As it was mentioned earlier by a number of the speakers, our highway workers in this province are very valuable to us and they do great work. I can think back to just a short time ago to the big blizzard that we had in February. I had a lot of calls as MLA. People were concerned about their ability to get out to work, and some were stuck at work, perhaps at the Michelin Tire plant in my riding, not able to get off shift, but there were others who were not able to get on shift. Really, the province was shut down for about a 48-hour period, and people were stuck in one spot or the other. I had some reason, having received a call from a constituent, then to call my local plow shed or the Department of Transportation and Public Works and ask for assistance because some of it was quite serious. I must say I had great co-operation from the operations supervisors or from person on dispatch, whoever was answering the phone.

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In one case, I recall a nurse who had to get on shift at the Aberdeen Hospital who said that there are others who had been there for a day and a half, they have to get home and I have to get to work. I called the local dispatch and explained the situation and they immediately sent a plow out to that area and got her to work so that she could relieve the other shift worker.

I can think of a second example that was very important. I had a call from a young lady who said her husband had just been released from a Halifax hospital - this was on Friday, I guess the second day of the storm, but many of the secondary roads were not open or not plowed at that time. It was vital that he get home because that's where his medication was for his heart condition and he had to get back home to get it. I talked to the operations supervisor at the plow shed at Salt Springs and great co-operation - immediately they sent a plow out, down the paved road and then down the secondary side road and were able to get him home. He was able to get the medication that he needed.

I think we have a very valuable staff in the Department of Transportation and Public Works and we're very thankful for that. I think in February the minister had indicated in a press release that he too was thankful for our highway workers. He said, "On behalf of Nova Scotians, thank you to everyone involved in clearing our roads and making them safe. You show your dedication to your jobs year round, but during this record snowfall you've truly outdone yourselves." No question the minister recognized the very valuable contribution of our highway workers during that blizzard of 2004, white Juan I guess it's been referred to. We're thankful for that.

Today we're at a situation where we're thankful for our workers, but we're asking for some fairness, some equity, the right to have free collective bargaining and protect these workers in their jobs so they don't lose any further positions.

I mentioned one concern of the highway workers certainly is the contracting out that occurs and the previous speaker had mentioned the RIM program - a program that allows for repairs to our secondary roads - things such as asphalt patching and gravelling and ditching and guardrails and a number of important maintenance activities on our secondary roads. I asked the minister during estimates yesterday, do highway workers have the right to put a shadow bid in, because some of those jobs probably could well be done cheaper or for equal money by the highway workers themselves. That would create employment within the department and prevent jobs from going to outside contractors, some of which perhaps are not even from Nova Scotia.

My understanding is that some of those contracts have been let and the winning bidder was from outside Nova Scotia - I believe that happened in Guysborough County and elsewhere. So there's a concern, not only jobs lost within the department, but jobs actually going to people outside this province. Workers are naturally very concerned under this RIM program - while it does good work, but our jobs are being lost to other jurisdictions.

[Page 3601]

This bill is all about the highway workers and their fight for fairness. They're frustrated by the process that's been going on. It's been almost two years since they started collective bargaining with the CUPE union, with their employer. I believe it was October 31, 2002 that they actually started to negotiate with the department. A slow process and many meetings - I believe they had something like 22 different meetings over that period of time and they actually applied for arbitration, I believe it was in December of last year. That was under the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act.

They have a board that they refer to as a highway workers/employee relations board but it's been very slow and very tedious and very involved. It's frustration that they're feeling because it's not proceeding toward a free and collective bargaining resolution, and they just feel the employer perhaps is acting in bad faith in continuing to question what is brought toward the board. Now I understand they have to have a ruling from the Supreme Court and it's going to be at least August of this year before that is allowed to happen. We all know in the good old Summertime in August there's vacation times and people are away, a lawyer might be away or a judge, or arbitrator may be on vacation or whatever, so there's even wondering how long is it going to take, and as I said, it's gone on almost two years at this point in time. It just leads to frustration on behalf of the union.

This bill that has been brought forward by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, Bill No. 21, really is asking that the members of the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act be put under the Trade Union Act, and enjoy the same rights and privileges that many others in this province enjoy under the Trade Union Act. Then they would have the right also instead of under the Highway Workers Employees Relations Board, they would then be under the Labour Relations Board. It's just similar to what other municipal employees and other employees enjoy under the various Acts. I believe the Minister of Labour had mentioned earlier that there are five different Acts that are governing workers of the province at this time under the Trade Union Act, Civil Service Collective Bargaining Act, the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act, the Corrections Act and the Teacher's Collective Bargaining Act. Those enjoy benefits under the Labour Relations Board.

All they are asking for is fairness of what other employees are receiving at this time and to be allowed to be under the Trade Union Act the same as other provincial and municipal workers in this province.

I think the government needs to act boldly and facilitate this arbitration process and deal fairly with the workers, instead of dragging it out through the court system, let's deal in fairness and equity and allow this bill to pass. If in time, through the Committee on Law Amendments process or I guess the Private and Local Bills Committee process, it can be amended. It can be added to or subtracted from to allow for what is fair and equitable to both sides in this dispute.

[Page 3602]

Mr. Speaker, certainly highway workers in this province have done a great service, they've proven that over and over, over the last number of years. I think it's only fair that this bill is allowed to pass into law. They've proved that through thick and thin that they're here for Nova Scotians and I think we have to make sure that we respect them, that's really what it's all about, we respect what they're doing. The minister has thanked the workers for their effort and dedication and I think it's time that we respect them.

I'm going to ask now, Mr. Speaker, that we give them a fair contract and give them the respect that they deserve. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak to Bill No. 21, the Trade Union Act.

Firstly, I want to comment on the high value the government and the people of Nova Scotia place on the services provided by highway workers. They have been and continue to be an integral component of the Public Service of Nova Scotia. It is with no disrespect to the valuable work they perform when I say that this government does not support Bill No. 21. I would like to reinforce some of the points made by my government colleagues as to why.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we believe the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act provides a reasonable collective bargaining legislative framework for these workers. It is comparable to what is available to other direct government employees such as civil servants and adult correctional workers and, therefore, promotes consistency for all government workers.

In debating Bill No. 21, which proposes to change this relationship, I think it's important for the members of this House to reflect today on the history of the Highway Workers Collective Bargaining Act. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Until 1997, as you recall, the Department of Transportation and highway workers undertook negotiations without any legislation. The framework was set out through an Order in Council, which could only be changed readily by government. That situation was unique among governments in Canada. In 1997, all parties agreed that it was time for a new, formalized relationship with highway workers to give them the same protections as other (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order! Order! The honourable Minister of Human Resources has the floor, please afford her the opportunity to speak as she did for you.

[Page 3603]

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, it was the Liberal Government that shepherded this through and all at that time commented on doing this. This included all Parties of this House and the union representatives as well. The President of the Nova Scotia Highway Workers Union, CUPE 1867, also provided leadership in preparing this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. The time allotted for Bill No. 21 has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee directs me to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 67 - House of Assembly Act.

Bill No. 68 - International Interests in Mobile Aircraft Equipment Act.

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

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

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I see we are one minute off, so maybe we will adjust the time one minute, so we will wrap up at 5:58 p.m. - if that's okay?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes, we will.

[Page 3604]

[OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS]

[PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 66.

Bill No. 66 - Motor Vehicle Act.

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it is a great honour for me to stand today to talk about Bill No. 66. I would like to inform members of the House that this was brought to my attention by one of my former colleagues, who has done a lot of work over the last little while on research and looking at other provinces, and states throughout the U.S. on what legislation is looking like in those areas of North America. Her name is Jolene Cormier and she is a paramedic from Springhill and she's actually the Project Manager for the Highway Safety Initiative for the Nova Scotia College of Paramedics. It's a great honour for me to introduce this bill and discuss it in her honour; actually, she has done a lot of the work for this bill.

I want to just start off by saying that I think prevention is one of the key words that I would like to talk about and that the paramedic profession is a relatively new profession in terms of being organized and being involved in proposed legislation and changes to that profession, and it's people like Jolene who have really taken that initiative and have done a lot of work in our province. There are many paramedics in this province who have taken it upon themselves to look into how we can better the delivery of the service to the people of Nova Scotia and, as a whole, the whole organization has initiated new studies, especially pertaining to diabetes and also early intervention of important cardiac drugs, to hopefully improve the outcome of many of the patients we see throughout the year. Also the paramedic organization is heavily involved with BIANS, the Brain Injury Association of Nova Scotia, with a great program and with a lot of posters throughout our schools and the key word "prevention" of injuries, if it's pertaining to vehicle travel, bicycles, and really centering around students and young people in our province.

So we've learned as a new organization, if I could say that, from organizations that have been organized for many years, such as the police officers of this province who do a great job in prevention when it comes to things like MADD, or other crime prevention initiatives that they have taken on. I think they've had a great impact in this province on preventing injuries or crimes in our province. Another is the firefighters' organization in this province. They are, I would say, the experts in prevention.

[Page 3605]

I've witnessed, over the years, the work that many of the firefighters in this province - paid and volunteer - have put into preventing fires in homes and in the forests. So I think we've modelled ourselves after these organizations in the province of prevention because I think prevention is the key thing. If we can prevent an injury, or a medical mishap, that's the bottom line and the most important thing.

Every day in our province paramedics, police officers, firefighters and first responders are placed in close proximity to vehicles travelling at extremely high rates of speed on our highways throughout this province. While ensuring scene safety is an important part, it is an important aspect to any emergency personnel, especially to paramedics. The motoring public and the government, I believe, need to assist in protecting emergency personnel on emergency scenes, especially on our highways. Our roads in the province, many of them are getting upgraded with four lanes, divided highways. It has been a hot topic for many years on preventing injuries and preventing fatalities on our highways.

So looking through the legislation and the Nova Scotia Motor Vehicle Act, we couldn't find anything that addressed the issue of preventing or helping emergency personnel when they do stop at an emergency or an accident on the highway. We've done some research on the provinces throughout Canada and the U.S. and have found that many of these areas have implemented legislation, or have proposed legislation on the books, to address this important issue. Ontario, in December 2002, put through legislation. Saskatchewan, I believe, in 2000 brought in some legislation and Alberta, I believe, this Fall in their session is going to introduce some changes to their motor vehicle legislation to incorporate reducing speeds when they come across an accident or when they come across emergency vehicles with their lights on. Not only in our provinces, we can look down south to the U.S. and there are 28 states in the U.S. that have brought legislation through their government agencies to address this issue.

As an elected official, it's important for our job to bring in legislation and be proactive, not reactive, when it comes to changes in the Motor Vehicle Act, or any other legislation. I think a lot of policies, regulations and bills come into effect after there has been some kind of accident, death, or fatality. Just like most of the provinces out West, and the United States, those changes in their motor vehicle legislation came about because of a death or an injury to emergency personnel.

We've been fortunate enough, I believe we haven't had any in Nova Scotia - from the research I have and the research I've done - but we did have an incident a few years ago where an ambulance was stopped near Truro, I believe, during a severe Winter storm. They were attending at a motor vehicle accident and there was a fatality, and I remember reading a story about a paramedic who felt the vehicle brush his coat. The two people he was talking to at that moment all of a sudden were no longer there and the end result was a fatality of a bystander.

[Page 3606]

I think if we could prevent one death in this province from maybe changes to the Motor Vehicle Act, I think it's worth its weight in gold. I just hope that we don't see a death or injury on the road that maybe could have been prevented from changes. Not to say that every incident, if we do change it, we can stop the vehicle.

In Saskatchewan, they have started keeping statistics on convictions and in 2001, they had 327 convictions on their change to the motor vehicle legislation, and in 2002 they had 561 convictions. In my view, it is something that we can convict people on if they do proceed through an accident scene and it just gives our emergency personnel added protection. I think the awareness of a change to the Motor Vehicle Act or a change to a bill alone will go a long way in the communities throughout our province when they realize that, yes, I do have to slow down when it comes to an emergency or an accident or when we see emergency vehicles with their lights on.

So I hope that the members, my colleagues here in the House - on the government side especially - realize the importance of maybe changing and amending the current Motor Vehicle Act. This, I think, is an issue that's been long overlooked in our province - recognition of the dangers facing many of our unselfish, dedicated emergency personnel, and hopefully, protect them a little bit, preventing injuries and maybe even a death is important.

I hope that I do get the recognition or the support from my colleagues from the government side, and from the Liberal caucus, to maybe have a look at this and really think that we can be proactive and not reactive when it comes to legislation and the possibility of helping our emergency personnel in the province. I hope they do consider this.

Again, I want to thank Jolene who brought this up, and some of the people who have endorsed it: the Truro Firefighters Association; the International Union of Operating Engineers; the president of the union for the Halifax Regional Municipality; many RCMP officers; and the hundreds and hundreds of paramedics, firefighters and first responders in the province. I really do hope that the government will recognize this important bill. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it is indeed a true pleasure to get up to speak to Bill No. 66 which deals with traffic safety and traffic flow, et cetera.

First of all, I would like to say a word or two about the real concern that that member has brought forward with regard to the safety of the people involved in emergency situations and are called upon to perform on highways. There is no doubt that we owe a great deal to those people who do go out in very difficult circumstances to control traffic and to help people who need assistance on the highway and, particularly, when there's been an accident.

[Page 3607]

Mr. Speaker, you may ask, why don't we pass this bill? There are several reasons why, at the present time, we are not prepared to pass this bill. That's not to say we're going to throw it in the garbage, because it is good legislation. However, there are a couple of flaws attached to it that are going to be required to be worked out.

[5:30 p.m.]

The honourable member mentioned that there were three provinces, Ontario, Saskatchewan and I believe the third one is Alberta, that have legislation. I believe Alberta doesn't actually have the legislation yet, they're working on it. Saskatchewan does have legislation which has been proclaimed. Ontario has legislation which has passed the House but not been proclaimed, so it's not being used. There's a very good reason why that has occurred, and that is that we, in this province and in all provinces and all states of the United States, contribute money annually to an organization known as TAC. That is a transportation authority that is supported by the various provinces and states, in the United States, to develop safety process and, more importantly, when a new process or a new technique comes along, to test whether or not it's valid. One of the things that I found out fairly early after being appointed Minister of Transportation and Public Works was something about traffic flows. Traffic that's flowing at a steady state of speed is far safer than traffic which is accelerating and slowing down, accelerating and slowing down or stopping and then starting up again. That's why, now . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: That's why we have speed zones.

MR. RUSSELL: That's right, when we need them.

Mr. Speaker, you'll notice that in all the new interchanges that we're building these days, they are diamond-shaped interchanges and there's an acceleration lane as you exit the highway and there's a deceleration lane as you exit the highway, so you get out of the traffic, so you're not affecting the flow of traffic. As I said before, traffic engineers say that traffic should move as a solid block at speed. Now, it doesn't matter - and I know that somebody will say, what are you talking about? - if traffic is doing 130 kilometres or doing 50 kilometres, as long as the speed is constant, it's safe.

What happens is when you have somebody doing 130 kilometres and you have somebody doing 100 kilometres, and then somebody else, like myself, driving along, abiding by the speed limit of 100 kilometres, and they come against me and they start to slow down. The guy doing 130 kilometres comes up behind me, there I am, he starts putting on his brakes, the other chap who's driving along or the lady who's driving along behind, she also starts putting on the brakes, and you get a bing, bing, bing all the way down the line.

[Page 3608]

That's why you'll find that in those jurisdictions where they have very high traffic volumes, like, for instance, on Highway 401 in Toronto or down on the New York freeway or one of those roads, where we're looking at something like maybe 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles a day on that turnpike, they have these horrendous collisions where you get a series of bumpers clanging together all the way down a long line. It's simply caused by one person, usually, who slows down inappropriately. Therefore, you try to keep the traffic going.

The problem with this bill is that if you put this in place, you're going to have traffic abruptly - as soon as the person sees a flashing light - slowing down to 50 kilometres. That's what triggers accidents, Mr. Speaker, and that is why the Province of Ontario has not as yet proclaimed their Act. However, that is not to say that this is not a bad idea. I think we do have to slow the traffic down when there's flashing lights. What the speed is, I'm not prepared to say, but what we're going to be discussing and we have discussed at Ministers of Transportation meetings is perhaps a cushion that you say, okay, 20 kilometres below the average rate at which the traffic is moving, in other words if the traffic is moving along at 100 kilometres, you get flashing lights, you move back to 80 kilometres, because that's gradual, it's not a boom, down to 50 kilometres, which is a sudden stop.

That's why we have to take a look at this bill, and I would suggest to the honourable member that we would be quite prepared to look at this bill in different terms, perhaps for the Fall session. I think that anything we can do to make our highways safer is a good move. One of the things that interested me, Mr. Speaker, of recent date, was flagpersons, persons who are out holding flags. There's a chap out in my riding, actually, who designed a little platform with a flag and the flag person sits in this little platform, and he has handles to hang on to, and he's got a place he can put his flag, and all the accoutrements that go along with having a little stand of your own. I thought it was a great idea. Once again, it went through the hoops and jumps and somebody said, well look, the trouble is if somebody goes by and hits that, that guy is going to go flying through the air and end up in the ditch, probably with a broken neck. The fact is that he seemed to be protected, in point of fact, that protection would be a false protection.

There are a number of good ideas that come forward, Mr. Speaker, that look great at first blush, but however on closer examination, not so good. This one I think has definite advantages, and as I said to the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid, it's one that we can certainly progress in the Fall, and I for one would encourage the member to do so. I have a few minutes to speak (Interruptions) One and a half minutes, I've got to be brief. There are a number of other things we can do regarding safety as well on highways, and we're doing them.

One of them is the use of salt, but one of the more important things is that we have a vehicle now, which I don't know if members are aware of, called the ARAN vehicle. This vehicle costs $200-some-odd thousand second-hand. We bought one used from Alberta, and it goes along the road and one of the important things that it does is check for rutting, so that

[Page 3609]

we can find roads (Interruptions) I have time, thank you. You have rutting, and you get water accumulating in the tracks and you get hydroplaning. Hydroplaning in the Spring and in the Winter is the greatest cause of accidents of all, Mr. Speaker. I would just like to point out that that vehicle is doing its job now, it's telling us where these roads are that are going to have the depressions filled and the roads smoothed out.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's a privilege to speak on this bill, Bill No. 66, the Motor Vehicle Act put forward by the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid. It's a very important topic. We have emergency workers on the roads all times, day and night. For them oftentimes there are very dangerous situations. It's unfortunate that's the case, but it does happen and hopefully we won't have any deaths or serious accidents to these very important workers in our community. They are at every scene, at every situation, and working in very extreme situations, in all kinds of different weather and all kinds of different stressful situations. We have people that are injured, or in the place of police, stopping people and dear knows what they are going to run into.

I think that we owe these professionals a great deal of gratitude for the excellent work they are doing in the community and the professionalism with which they do it. Without their excellent services, a lot of people would die or be injured needlessly, and it's important to make sure that these people live in a safe and deserving atmosphere where they don't have to worry when they stop at an accident scene or doing routine work that they are going to be run over by a car or a truck or something of that nature. It's got to be very hair-raising to be on the side of the road tending to something and vehicles going past at 110 kilometres an hour. It's got to be very much indeed a dangerous situation, a situation that does need to be corrected.

I do have some concerns with the bill though, the way it's written. I'm not a traffic expert, and don't profess to be, and never will be, but the bill talks about driving a vehicle on a highway at a speed not to exceed 50 kilometres per hour when passing an accident or emergency vehicle if it is stopped on the highway with its emergency lights in operation.

The honourable Minster of Transportation and Public Works just pointed out some issues that the experts in the field have and he's probably very right with those comments, but the bill doesn't address enforcement issues - how are you going to enforce this? Is it going to be through some kind of a speed trap you're going to set up at the scene? How are you going to prove that somebody did 50 kilometres an hour - not more, not 70 kilometres, 80 kilometres, or 100 kilometres, whatever the case may be, past the traffic scene. Usually when the emergency vehicles are there, they're attending to the emergency, they're not looking for

[Page 3610]

speeders in those cases and I do know the police typically stop or slow down traffic if it requires it which, again, is a very dangerous situation.

I remember recently here on a very foggy dark night, I came upon an accident scene and an RCMP officer was standing there in the yellow jacket with all the reflectors and everything on it. It was very difficult to see that particular evening, very difficult to see and I actually stopped and told the officer that as I was travelling through. It happened to be an officer I knew and he was quite surprised to hear that. Now, it was just a particular situation that evening but it does make it very dangerous for the officers, the paramedics and the fire department when they're doing this very important work. So there has to be some type of enforcement measure I think added to the bill or in regulations that would enforce it and how it can be enforced.

Also there probably should be in this bill, I think it should be a very serious offence if you cause an accident, or create an accident, that's a result of neglect at an accident scene, or disrespect for the emergency vehicles when they operate and when they work in the communities doing their very important work. So there really should be some formula in there drafted that it's a serious offence not to stop for these vehicles, or slow down for these vehicles, whatever the case may be.

I remember awhile ago there was a gentleman died, I believe it was on a road just before or past the airport, a flag person was just run down by somebody who wasn't paying attention. Actually in my own family, my former brother-in-law, who was an RCMP officer, was sitting at an accident scene with his lights on and a guy rear-ended him at 100 kilometres an hour and folded the car right up to the back of the seat where he was sitting. As a result of that, he no longer is in the RCMP and is on long-term disability. So even with the lights on, on a sunny day, in a situation where it should have been very obvious with all these lights flashing at an intersection, he was still rear-ended. So it's very difficult to say what will stop these type of accidents.

I think education and probably some really solid enforcement measures and some serious penalties for not stopping at these scenes because not only the officers, but the bystanders, as the honourable member who presented the bill has said, you know, when people are killed at the scene, bystanders, well, number one, bystanders shouldn't be at these scenes looking around and sightseeing, unless they're directly involved with the problem. There should be some way to get these people to move away and maybe some offences if it really got to a situation where it is a serious problem, that these can be handled as well. So I think the overall picture of the accident scene, or the measure should be seriously considered in the bill and reviewed before a bill could go forward that's really going to protect the workers because that's what we're talking about. We're talking about workers' protection. We're talking about the public's protection and we're talking about protection of very important workers, the workforce we have in the community.

[Page 3611]

Those are the elements I think we really have to address. I don't feel Bill No. 66 goes far enough in that. It doesn't really address the whole issue here or how it can be corrected long term. I know from dealing with a lot of traffic conditions I've seen when I was in provincial government before and the municipal government, when you've got the Traffic Authority. I remember lots of discussions in HRM Council with the Traffic Authority and I really felt sorry for the gentleman, the engineer who was there, trying to explain to council in a particular case why he couldn't put a stop sign in a place, or why he couldn't do this, and why he couldn't do that, but he was responding to national standards, standards that he had no control over, he only had to do the measurements and say yes or no you can do this or you can't do this.

[5:45 p.m.]

I think this should be formulated to some kind of national standard which the Minister of Transportation and Public Works has talked about that really addresses this problem and really cures the problem. I've seen these situations where the obvious thing would be to reduce the speed limit. Stop accidents. Lo and behold, when you check the speed limit in some areas and the speed that people are actually travelling, guess what? Ninety per cent of the time they're going the speed - they just look like they're going faster.

In Lawrencetown when I was MLA for that area, there was one family that was very upset about this particular area. There were a lot of accidents in a very short time and one fatality. Everyone was convinced that everyone was speeding so the RCMP did a traffic study on it and they gave tickets for speeding to a few people and all the rest of it. That didn't satisfy the people and rightfully so because the problem seemed to persist, there were still accidents. At my request, the Department of Transportation went out and they did a traffic study over a couple of weeks and found out there were a few speeders now and then that really were over the limit - the speed limit was 70 and sometime you'd hit someone at 90, but very seldom. Most of the time they were between 65 and 75, which was within the tolerance that they could live with.

People still didn't believe it. They said they didn't do it the right time of day so we made arrangements with the people involved and loaned them the radar gun, gave them the log sheet and they actually did it themselves. Lo and behold they came up with the exact same conclusion as the Department of Transportation did and they couldn't believe it. They simply could not believe it themselves. But at that point they realized. The cure for that problem was, believe it or not, three signs with a broad arrow on them showing there was a turn. I would have never believed it in my life. They put those signs up and there hasn't been an accident since. There was something like 14 accidents in six months and one of them fatal.

It's hard to believe what will prevent an accident and what won't, but it really gives credit to the people who do that work and know the problems and know how these things have to be addressed.

[Page 3612]

Those are the sorts of things we have to look at. I think rather than just put a bill in which I believe has a lot of merit - I'm not speaking against this bill - the bill has a lot of merit, it has to go further and it has to really address the situation. It has to have a proper evaluation by the traffic authorities that work with this every day and know that the system will work when they put it in place, or to the best of their knowledge it will work. At least give them something they can measure and measured results. Without measured results, it won't work. With that, thank you very much.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: First of all, I'd like to thank my colleague for Sackville-Cobequid for bringing Bill No. 66 forward. When we talk about bills such as this, it's sometimes very hard to quantify what the bill is all about. We can't come up and say, between May 12, 2004 to May 11, 2005 there will be this many traffic accidents. We don't know. We would hope that there will be none, but common sense tells us there will be some. It also tells us that some of these accidents may very well happen and will happen on our trunk highways and our 100-Series Highway and so on. Invariably, our first responders, our emergency crews will end up there, whether it be EMTs, police, fire and so on. Do we then need to build a fence around or a barrier around to help these people? That barrier wouldn't mean a reduction in the speed limit.

I heard the minister talk about a lot of accidents happen in kind of a chain way - if you slow down to a certain amount of speed in a 100 kilometre per hour zone that it will cause an accident because people will slow down. Well, that has a little bit of merit, but not a whole lot. If you were to agree with that premise for not moving this bill forward, then you would also have to agree that it's quite all right, it's quite within safety guidelines to do this posted speed limit during a storm, that you have to stay at that level because that's what the posted limit is, you stay there. We all know that to be a fact. We know that we should. Reasonable drivers adjust their driving limits to fit the situation. This situation isn't one where we're just talking about putting a cautionary sign a few feet in front of the accident and everyone is just going to go from 100 kilometres to 50 kilometres, we'll say, in that distance. We're not talking about that. The bill is talking about reasonable reactions.

In the terms of what these workers are doing, and I'll use EMTs in particular, I don't think these paramedics are out there doing this because someone decides they had a bad cough and had to pull the car over, and they're out there getting a drink of water. I don't mean to be bringing too much brevity. I guess the fact of the matter is that they're there and it's by and large, especially on our 100-Series Highways quite often a life and death situation. Their job is focused on saving that person's life, or persons, whatever that matter may be, and it is not uncommon for them to put themselves in peril. They can put themselves in peril by using sharps. They can put themselves in peril by how they interact with the injured party, or they can put themselves in danger going back to their unit to pick up other medications and other things that would assist them in caring for the injured person.

[Page 3613]

Wouldn't it be nice if we had such a law in this province that people would be duty bound to slow down and, in a way, assist with the safety of that worker, because that is their workplace. As much as we'd like to describe that this Chamber is our workplace and we'd like the safety practices to be as strict as they can in a way that would allow us to do our work. It was not too long ago here, Mr. Speaker, when a certain individual entered the gallery of this place and was escorted out by police, there was much talk about putting metal detectors and that around this building. I see it in the line of worker's safety. My argument then, as it is today, worker's safety, yes, but we have to appreciate worker's safety right across the board, and this is a line of worker's safety.

It is a law in 28 States in the United States of America, the lower 48, and it's either considered or enacted in three provinces. A very large point about this is in Saskatchewan in 2001, Mr. Speaker, there were 327 convictions. In 2002, there were 561, so along the lines of those people who say, it's not enforceable, I put these out as being to defuse that and say it is. There is proof. In Saskatchewan they enact this law and it works.

We have, I don't how many miles of 100-Series Highways in this province, 1,800 the good minister tells me. Mr. Speaker, imagine, if you will, and I would venture a guess, that most fatalities on those 100-Series Highways, and I'll limit myself to the 100-Series Highways, I'm not saying that's the only place that it happens. I would hazard a guess that most of those fatalities happen after midnight, or after dusk I should say. What happens is those accidents - it becomes a workplace for these paramedics.

So what happens is people - if it's around a sharp turn or at the crest of a hill - are upon that accident before they realize what's there. If we had this law, where we could go a reasonable point before it, warn people, then they would have time to slow down and then get past it and move on. It would allow that person's working area to be safer. It's akin to putting a guard on a chain, it's as simple as that.

This bill will act as the guard on the chain for the safety of these paramedics, of these police officers, of these firefighting personnel. The bill makes great sense. One thing I have to say, and I kind of like the idea that while the minister wasn't speaking in glowing terms of this bill, he was speaking of somewhere in the future, looking at something similar to move forward with. If government doesn't see fit today to support this bill, I feel that it's for the wrong reasons, and I will be one of those people waiting very impatiently for the minister to bring forward a similar-style bill that will answer some of his queries that he doesn't believe are answered in this bill today.

This will be, I believe, the template if the minister wants to move forward. If the minister does not want to support this bill, then it will be to the efforts of the good member for Sackville-Cobequid, bringing Bill No. 66 forward, when for government, this was not on their radar, they weren't saying anything about it, but this health and safety feature on this bill is paramount.

[Page 3614]

Mr. Speaker, in closing, I just want to say that I would hope that if government will not support this bill that they will bring one forward, as strong, that does support our emergency workers in this province, to agree that when they're out there saving our lives, we're helping to protect their lives, as legislators. Again, for Bill No. 66, I thank the good member for Sackville-Cobequid for having the foresight to bring this to the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the debate on Bill No. 66 has elapsed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business, following the daily routine and Question Period, will be Public Bills for Third Reading, maybe Public Bills for Second Reading, and also Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We have reached the moment of interruption.

"Therefore be it resolved that the opening of 28 new long-term care beds at Grand View Manor in Berwick signifies the government's commitment to health care in the Annapolis Valley."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 3615]

HEALTH - GRAND VIEW MANOR:

LONG-TERM CARE BEDS - OPENING

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to speak on the resolution, that the opening of these 28 new beds signifies the government's commitment to health care in the Annapolis Valley, the area that I, along with other members, represent.

Just a little bit of a background on why this resolution at this present time. Back last year, on October 19th, I stated in a talk here in the House, on behalf of the Minister of Health, that long-term beds would be opening in the Annapolis Valley area, District Health Authority 3. The next day, on behalf of the member for Halifax Needham, the member for Halifax Chebucto put forward a resolution which claimed that I had given an incorrect impression on what was happening, and that I should stop trying to defend the indefensible and do more research.

[6:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, it wasn't too much later after that that the Premier actually announced these beds at a meeting down in Berwick that was hosted by the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority, and he announced 32 new beds on November 20, 2003. I just want to read a little bit of his speech at that time. He said, at that occasion, "I'd like to thank each of you for joining us this morning. Seniors' care remains one of the top priorities of our government. And one of the best ways to improve care - is to improve access. I hear it from seniors in every region of the province. I hear it from families. From doctors, from nurses -and every other professional involved in long-term care. I hear it in the Valley too. From strong MLAs like David Morse and Mark Parent . . . I hear it. I agree with it. I believe it."

He announced at that time, Mr. Speaker, 32 new long-term care beds, just as I had mentioned.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Don't hurt your arm patting yourself on the back, Mark.

MR. PARENT: If I don't do it, Bill, no one else will, so I've got to do it.

Just as I had mentioned in the House on that occasion on October 19th. I didn't speak to correct the honourable member before this time, because although they were announced in November, I wanted to see them in operation before I said too much more about them. I'm pleased to report Mr. Speaker, that 16 of the beds have been opened already at the Grand View Manor in Berwick Nova Scotia. Those were opened in May a few weeks later than we anticipated, but there are always certain delays in construction and things like that, but they were opened basically on time, and there are 14 more new beds that will be opened in June.

[Page 3616]

I have to point out that these long-tem care beds are an important part of the puzzle of health care in the Annapolis Valley and of doing more for our citizens there.

They will help, although with a single-entry system, it will take some time to work through the system, but they will help to provide, to free up spaces of acute beds at the Valley Regional Hospital. It has been a great concern of mine and of my colleague, the Minister of Community Services. We've worked very hard on this issue, as we have been concerned about the use of acute care beds when they could be used by acute care patients, and they are used by patients who belong in long-term care beds. So both of us have been pushing on this issue for awhile, and we've been delighted to see this announcement back in November, and we are delighted to see in May of this year, just this month, 16 of these beds opening, and delighted to know that more will be opening in June.

These aren't the only things that have been happening in terms of health care in the Annapolis Valley. I was talking to my honourable colleague the other day, reminiscing about some of the rallies that were held in the Valley, and we've received our share of criticism, and yet, Mr. Speaker, there have been some very positive things that have happened in regard to health care in the Valley. Incremental increases to the budget for District Health Authority 3, now known as Annapolis Valley Health, have been there almost from the start, since 1999.

We've been pushing, as elected members for that area, with doctors such as Bob Mullen - Bob Mullen, by the way, you'll want to know will be the next MP for Kings-Hants, we assume in a very short time. He was instrumental, I have to give Bob Mullen credit. He is a family physician in the area, very well-respected, the one-time President of the Nova Scotia Medical Society - he actually ran against me for the nomination back in 1999, a person with deep roots in the Party.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did he beat you?

MR. PARENT: No, I managed to beat him at that time, but he was a good sport, he came on my executive and has been on ever since and has a tremendous commitment to health reform and to improving health conditions in the Annapolis Valley, and has a lot of respect in that area. I'm sure we'll do well by him when he goes to Ottawa, as he helps to bring more federal money to the area and helps bring some needed reforms that will help health care in the area.

Along with Bob Mullen, along with Mike Riley, along with other people like that, we pushed for funding. Part of the problem when we look back on it, was that when the district health authorities were created, the funding for the western region was allocated on a population basis, without taking in the complexity of procedures that were taking place at the Valley Regional Hospital and without looking at all the issues, and over time we have managed to adjust that. If you look at the increases in the budget for DHA 3, Annapolis Valley Health, you'll find incremental increases to the budget throughout two or three

[Page 3617]

different years. That's one thing that has been happening that is good. It's moved from a straight percentage to a weighted percentage that takes into account some of these things.

Another thing that has been good that has happened as a result of this government, that came out of many of the issues in the Valley that were raised by various citizens in the Valley and raised by elected members as well, is multi-year funding to provide stability in funding for the district health authority. This benefited district health authorities across the province, Mr. Speaker, not just in the Annapolis Valley, but certainly this is one of the things that we were hearing and one of the things that we presented to the Health Minister at the time, that they needed some stability in funding so that there could be adequate planning so that they would know what increases they had, what budget they would have, so that they could do a better job of planning for providing the health care in the Valley.

As I said, this was instituted, Mr. Speaker, as you know, by this government. (Interruption) And surpluses, yes, actually there's a surplus, I think, in DHA 3 this year and in other DHAs, I understand, the honourable member has told me, my colleague, the Minister of Community Services. So it has been successful, these incremental increases, this multi-year funding, et cetera.

There have also been improvements to buildings. We think of improvements to the Middleton site, the Soldiers' Memorial, some improvements to the Valley Regional, along with a $1 million commitment, part of which was to look at capital and the needs in the Annapolis Valley Health District, and how best to deliver health care in that area. Some of that $1 million was used to help with the emergency unit at the Valley Regional Hospital, but there's an ambitious 10-year project that we have and that was funded by this government, a capital needs study, and we look forward to seeing the results of this capital needs study.

Then on top of that, there was the new Fidelis House. Fidelis House, Mr. Speaker, is a house that provides low-cost accommodation for people whose relatives come to the Valley Regional Hospital because not many people know this, but the Valley Regional Hospital is a hospital unlike many others. It's not simply a regional hospital. It's at a level - the complexity of cases, the number of cases it's doing - where really it stands in comparison to hospitals in Cape Breton Regional Municipality, in Sydney, and also hospitals in Halifax. It's at that level. There are many people who travel from all over the western region and beyond whose relatives are undergoing procedures at the Valley Regional Hospital. In order to help people who might not be able to afford to stay at hotels in the area and accommodations like that, the Fidelis House has low-cost apartments that are offered to these people, much like happens at the Ronald McDonald House here in Halifax. This is another thing that the government helped out and not simply the Department of Health, but others.

So there are many, many good things, many things still to do. We need to work on the hospice. My colleague and I have been working on this. We need to work on more health promotion, drug costs, for those who don't have drug care plans. We're working on that, but

[Page 3618]

we need to do more for chronic illnesses. So there are many things we still need to do, but there are many things we've done and one of the proudest that we've accomplished is the opening of these long-term care beds at Grand View Manor, as I said, back on October 19, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the honourable member for bringing forward this resolution which gives us an opportunity, I think, to discuss one of the very important issues in the area of health care and that is the importance of providing adequate access to quality health care for our seniors, in particular. This opportunity really gives us a chance to talk about some of the needs in the very beautiful Annapolis Valley that we are aware of that have gone unaddressed. In the past week or so here on the floor of the House, we have certainly had the opportunity to hear about the fact that this government has failed utterly in showing any interest or initiative with respect to the hard work of the folks who have been working hard for a number of years now to develop a 10-bed end-of-life hospice in the Wolfville area. I'm surprised that the honourable member failed in his opportunity in this debate to make any reference whatsoever to that hard working group and the vision that they have shown. I was hoping that he would offer some insight into whether or not his government is at all interested in supporting the work of that group.

Also, he failed to take the opportunity to discuss the Middleton Nursing Home working committee who have been working for some time, have put together a very sensible proposal to develop, open and operate a small long-term care facility that would address the needs of seniors in the Town of Middleton and the surrounding community.

I will take my time here to talk a little bit about what we in the NDP see as the path ahead now that we have a situation where long-term care, the health care component of health care for people in long-term care, those costs will now be picked up by the Province of Nova Scotia. Mr. Speaker, I would like to congratulate you on the good judgment you showed on behalf of your constituents yesterday when you had an opportunity to express the will of people in your community. That took courage, Mr. Speaker, and everyone here needs to recognize the courage that you showed and the commitment to the people who you represent. We all know how hard you work to represent those people so I would be remiss in not taking this opportunity to congratulate you.

Now that particular issue is out of the way, we can turn our attention to some better planning for the long-term care sector more generally. This is an area where the current Act, the Homes for Special Care Act is extraordinarily out of date, where the standards of care probably, in the current Act, nowhere meet the current conditions of people going into nursing homes. We all know that the level of care in the long-term care sector now that's required for seniors in nursing homes is much greater than it was probably 5 or 10 years ago. This is because home care has meant that more seniors are able to stay at home longer, along

[Page 3619]

with other things - better pharmaceutical drug plans and a better quality of drugs - these kinds of things have allowed many seniors to stay at home longer and maintain their health for a longer period of time.

However, when it is at the stage where people's health has declined to the point that they need 24-hour care, we need to look at long-term care facilities. They tend to be facilities that can be quite expensive. In the Province of Nova Scotia, we've had a tendency to look at large long-term care facilities, but I think now there's quite a large interest in our province to look at smaller facilities. Rather than looking at expanding existing facilities, there's really a recognition to look at a variety of ways of meeting the needs of seniors.

One of the things on which there seems to be some consensus emerging, is the need to provide care for seniors closer to where they want to be, which is with their friends and families and in the communities where they have been so that they can maintain as much of their normal routine as possible. This is probably something that we would all want for ourselves, and it's what we wish for our elders in their twilight years when their health is in decline as may occur for many of us and probably will occur for a lot of us.

[6:15 p.m.]

I think that what I would like to encourage the government to do and particularly members of the government's back bench, is rather than using these opportunities to crow about whatever incremental improvements may be made in the health care system and certainly I've been to the Grand View Manor in Berwick, I've had friends who have worked in that facility. I've known social workers who have done their field placement there. It's a very wonderful home for special care facility, where a great deal of care is put into that facility and certainly the community has been very supportive of Grand View Manor over the years that it has been there. There are many people from the community who volunteer, who provide activities, who really take an interest, not only in their family members but in the interest of all of the residents of that facility.

This is certainly a facility that everybody can acknowledge is of high quality, but I think that while it's important to acknowledge the role of this facility in health care, I would love to see the members on the government backbench work to advocate for those gaps in the health care delivery system in the Valley, where you have other groups of Valley residents who are working really hard on initiatives that they know will address the health care needs of members of their community, such as the end-of-life hospice group where we had visitors from that organization, I think Dr. Perkins and the very famous artist, Alex Colville here last week, and as well the Middleton nursing home working committee.

[Page 3620]

These are local initiatives that are driven by people who understand what the local needs are much more than we would find in the Joseph Howe Building on the 17th floor or however many floors where the senior Health bureaucrats are. I know the Department of Health and the government has an initiative they keep alluding to that will be a consultation process around the movement of long-term care in our province. I'm hoping that it will be truly a process that will be a participatory process that will bring onboard these kinds of groups and will respond, and respond quickly, to the needs of local communities and provide the adequate services and support that our seniors are entitled to, Mr. Speaker. With that I'll take my place, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in my place and take part in this debate. I think, clearly what we have placed before us, formed a resolution, is really maybe a dispute between two members. Clearly the honourable member for Kings North, feels the honourable member should do more research and vice versa.

Quite frankly, the issues surrounding long-term care and indeed the availability of programs for seniors so that they can remain in their own homes longer, deserve to be debated directly and not through some sort of he said/she said resolution. However, Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to address this issue this evening.

I had the opportunity to recently tour Grand View Manor and certainly the addition of the 16 beds is a wonderful addition to the local community and certainly a restoration project that was extremely well done, meeting modern code and it really is state-of-the-art with good size rooms.

During the course of the tour I learned that there were 16 new Level 2 nursing home beds, not assisted living beds, but nursing home beds. The resolution says, whereas the reality is that the 16 beds opening at Grand View Manor are private pay unsubsidized-assisted living beds and not nursing home beds at all. This is not the reality. They are indeed subsidized fully nursing home beds.

What I also learned, of course, was that they are already filled. However, what may not be known, Mr. Speaker, is that many of those new beds are occupied with residents from around the province. That is the reality, and this tells us something, that there is a province-wide shortage of nursing home beds that this government failed to plan for until it was far too late. It also tell us that the pressures currently being experienced by the Annapolis Valley District Health Authority may not necessarily be alleviated with the addition of these beds. The rosy picture painted by the member for Kings North, about the good things that have been done, well, I would ask him, once again, to sit down with Dr. Robertson, Chief of Staff, and he will point out many deficiencies in the current delivery of health care in the Valley.

[Page 3621]

I also learned, during the course of the tour, that there are 14 more Level 2 subsidized nursing home beds to be opened sometime in June. I have to ask the honourable member for Kings North whether or not it will be residents of the Valley who will be able to access these beds, or will they be from other parts of the province. This, truly, is the big concern now faced by the DHA, and certainly the residents of the Valley who had very high hopes, great expectations that, in fact, the acute care bed situation would improve as more of the long-term care patients moved out of the Valley Regional Hospital. We know that now, from the first 16 beds, is indeed not the case.

Mr. Speaker, clearly the government has failed to plan appropriately meet the needs of our aging population province-wide and, indeed, throughout the Annapolis Valley. This is one of the demographics that we are struggling with on many fronts, and that is we do have the oldest average age population in the province and, certainly, that continues to actually deepen or worsen, if you wish, because it is a strong retirement haven.

What I also learned, Mr. Speaker, is that the Premier promised, last November, that there would be 32 more nursing home beds, yet what I have learned on my tour is that there will only be 30, and while we're grateful for the 30 beds, the problem is far more acute than arguing about the types of beds or the number of beds. It's about the lack of planning that our caucus has expressed concern about time and time again. Sadly, we don't see any more evidence in place that the passage of last evening's budget will address the serious impact our acute care system is experiencing as a result of a lack of planning.

Last evening's budget does nothing to ensure that seniors have the proper resources and support to remain in their own homes, as opposed to going into nursing homes in the first place. If there was one reality that I experienced as I went to 3,000 or 4,000 homes during the campaign of last Summer, was that in the Annapolis Valley, and you knock on many doors in a rural area that are 100 to 200 years old, and there are fourth, fifth and sixth generation families now living in those homes. The seniors want to stay in their homes. That is one of the great realities. I think our Party is right on the mark with different ways of trying to keep seniors in their homes. Small supports, very often, if we had to have some increases, for example, in the home adaptation program.

Last evening's budget does not even guarantee, if a community is fortunate enough to get additional nursing home beds, that the district that has been fortunate enough to get beds will feel some relief from the pressures currently placed on the acute care system, and that certainly is the case that we have had pointed out by Dr. Robertson, and that in a very recent statement.

Mr. Speaker, the fact of the matter is the Health budget, while increased, has not met the needs of our population. Failure to invest in home care has led to pressures on the long-term care sector. A failure to adequately plan to meet the needs of the long-term care sector has applied undue pressure on our hospitals. This government has failed miserably to invest

[Page 3622]

strategically in the areas of health care that would alleviate these pressures. This is one of the reasons why last evening's budget was a disappointment to our caucus.

Mr. Speaker, I don't believe it's my role to stand here and finger point which honourable member was or was not correct with the facts. The facts are quite clear - a lack of vision for health care has harmed this province. We will not progress until there is some acknowledgement by government that the health care system is interconnected and that investments in a plan are required in all areas of health care, not just the select few. Again, this is one of perhaps the great realities that was very apparent as our caucus went around the province with the Round Table on Health Care Wait Times, and that is you can't have single initiatives and expect great results. It is a complex and a very much connected system.

In the area of alleviating some of the pressure on the acute care beds, I think the hospice plan is another one that I would like to raise and address. I think it would be one of the most progressive and foresightful moves - as the honourable member for Kings North, who has been an advocate and a great supporter of this initiative - that if our province were to join forces with individuals in the community of the Annapolis Valley who have that kind of foresight and thoughtfulness to provide a service that we do not have available now and that many people are wishing to have in place as part of a dignified way for more people to spend their last days.

Again, in regard to nursing homes, we know the Middleton situation does have a little bit of a new concern. However, I know that there are a couple of other proposals that will be presented in a very, very short time to deal with that situation as well.

I thank you, Mr. Speaker, for the opportunity - I guess perhaps we do have a few more moments. I would like to go back and emphasize the fact that while the province welcomes the 30 beds, it would have been of great relief to the health authority in District 3 to have had those beds dedicated to being a valve for patients in long-term care at Valley Regional. We now know that the first 16 have clearly failed to address that, and we hope that perhaps the next 14 can have a more dedicated effort. Perhaps that is one of the pitfalls of the single entry system. I do thank you for the opportunity to speak in late debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has elapsed for the late debate.

The House is adjourned.

[The House adjourned at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 3623]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 1645

By: Hon. Carolyn Bolivar-Getson (Human Resources)

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

Whereas volunteers are of vital importance to all of our communities; and

Whereas the 2004 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented to individuals from across Nova Scotia at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Dinner on April 12th at the Westin Hotel to pay tribute to the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Pauline May Himmelman has been selected by the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg as its Volunteer of the Year for her long-standing and unselfish commitment to her community as a volunteer in many capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Pauline May Himmelman for being named a provincial representative volunteer for 2004 and offer thanks to Ms. Himmelman and volunteers from across the province for their continued hard work and dedication.

RESOLUTION NO. 1646

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas a Grade 6 French immersion student at Yarmouth's Central School is honouring one of her favourite teachers in a way she hopes will help many others; and

Whereas when Rachel Selig found out that her former teacher, Dianne Boudreau, was battling cervical cancer, she decided to show her support by raising money through the Canadian Cancer Society; and

Whereas this remarkable 12-year old has organized a silent auction and is making and selling clay ladybugs with the hope that she will be able to make a small difference in fighting this terrible disease;

[Page 3624]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing the remarkable efforts of Rachel Selig to raise money for cancer research and treatment and extend to her teacher, Dianne Boudreau, our very best wishes during this difficult time.

RESOLUTION NO. 1647

By: Hon. Ernest Fage (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Town of Amherst is one of only five communities across Canada to be featured in a federal report concerning good source protection of drinking water; and

Whereas the federal Department of Environment selected Amherst because the town has developed an exemplary source water protection plan; and

Whereas Director of Operational Services with the Town of Amherst, Ron Patterson, says planning often only looks ahead in 10-year stretches but Amherst is planning for the next 100 years, and there should be no reason the town's water supply shouldn't be available for at least another 200 years;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs compliment the Town of Amherst mayor, council and staff for their objectivity and looking into the future to ensure safe drinking water in Amherst for up to the next two centuries.

RESOLUTION NO. 1648

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Ashton Julien participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

[Page 3625]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send our congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Ashton Julien for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1649

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Brad Long participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Brad Long for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1650

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Brenna Dixon participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Brenna Dixon for her hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1651

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Courtney Jobe participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Courtney Jobe for her hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1652

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Geoff Matheson participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Geoff Matheson for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1653

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student J. McKenna participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and J. McKenna for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1654

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Jeff Ellerback participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Jeff Ellerback for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1655

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Mark Doucette participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Mark Doucette for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1656

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Matthew Graca participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

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Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Matthew Graca for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1657

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student Shaun McCab participated in the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club with the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Shaun McCab for his hard work in the creation of this film and wish him all the best in a possible future in the film business.

RESOLUTION NO. 1658

By: Hon. Barry Barnet (Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations)

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

Whereas student teacher Jenn Margeson organized and ran the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club that led to the creation of a short film entitled Lord of the Onion Rings, a parody of the film Lord of the Rings; and

Whereas the film competed against nine others selected for the top 10 and showed during a film festival on Friday, April 23, 2004; and

Whereas students wrote the script, filmed, edited, narrated and acted in the film, and the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club placed first against other films created by junior high and high school competitors;

[Page 3630]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House send their congratulations to the Sackville Heights Junior High Film Club and Jenn Margeson for her hard work in the creation of this film and wish her all the best in her future teaching career.

RESOLUTION NO. 1659

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Harbour Fish & Fries in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Harbour Fish & Fries in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1660

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Fraser's Wide Plank Flooring Inc. in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

[Page 3631]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Fraser's Wide Plank Flooring Inc. in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1661

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Shelter Cove Marine in Musquodoboit Harbour is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Shelter Cove Marine in Musquodoboit Harbour for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1662

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas PhysioLink in Porters Lake is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing PhysioLink in Porters Lake for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1663

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Wrecks R Us in Lake Charlotte is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Wrecks R Us in Lake Charlotte for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1664

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas General Carpentry and Stairways in Head of Jeddore is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing General Carpentry and Stairways in Head of Jeddore for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1665

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Country Store and Craft Supplies in Seaforth is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Country Store and Craft Supplies in Seaforth for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1666

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Porters Lake Pub and Grill in Porters Lake is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Porters Lake Pub and Grill in Porters Lake for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1667

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas small businesses account for more than 70 per cent of jobs in this province; and

Whereas small businesses are the lifeblood of our rural communities and play a significant role in growing the economy here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Jeddore Variety in Head of Jeddore is one such business that is making a positive contribution to the economy on the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Jeddore Variety in Head of Jeddore for all the contributions it makes to Nova Scotia, particularly the Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 1668

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Steve Wood has been awarded Parrsboro Youth Volunteer of the Year for 2004; and

Whereas the 16-year-old volunteers his time to school, sports and community activities and, where Steve's father is a member of the Parrsboro Volunteer Fire Department and Steve is too young to be a member, he still helps out the department whenever he can; and

Whereas Steve donates his time in the winter to the Parrsboro Rink doing an assortment of activities there while he also volunteers his time to improve the community he has lived in for his entire life, and Steve is a member of the Parrsboro Regional Youth Council as well;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Steve Wood on receiving the well-deserved recognition of being named Parrsboro Youth Volunteer of the Year for 2004 and wish him continued success in all of his future endeavours.

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RESOLUTION NO. 1669

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Doug Wortman, one of the longest-serving basketball officials in the Province of Nova Scotia as well as across the country, was honoured for his years of service during the recently completed Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Division IV Boys Championships hosted by Oxford; and

Whereas Doug Wortman's name was submitted and accepted as a candidate for the prestigious Wink Willox Award; and

Whereas criteria for the award include being a member that has been a good floor official, has a significant length of service in the organization, has served their local association in varied capacities over those years of service and has played a key administrative role, with Doug Wortman meeting each of those criteria;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Doug Wortman on receiving the prestigious Wink Willox Award and thank him for his many years of service as a basketball official in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 1670

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas family and friends of Don Wood gathered at the Lions Centre on February 21st to honour him on his retirement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police; and

Whereas Don gave 30 years of dedicated service to the RCMP, joining in February 1974, first being posted to Dartmouth, also serving in Halifax and Kingston before coming to Oxford in 1989; and

Whereas Don Wood has been a loyal and respected member in Oxford for 15 years and he will be sadly missed on the force, and with the residents of Oxford being grateful to Don for these years of service they are glad to hear he and his wife, Jean, will remain residents of Oxford;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and thank Don Wood for his 30 years of service to the RCMP, and wish him health and happiness as he and his wife, Jean, enjoy his retirement.

RESOLUTION NO. 1671

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Samantha Welsh of Springhill, Nova Scotia, member of the NSSAF Division III girls basketball championship squad was honoured at the Basketball Association's award night in April 2004; and

Whereas Samantha was honoured with the award for sharing the Most Valuable Player for her team this year; and

Whereas Samantha is a Grade 11 student and has been a strong force in the successful Springhill Regional High School Team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Samantha Welsh on this outstanding award and wish her all the best in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1672

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Marion Wasson, a resident of Parrsboro, received medals in February 2004 at the Legion in Parrsboro for the work she did as a merchant marine aboard the MV Ralph and Arthur during World War II; and

Whereas Marion was a merchant marine during a period of time when it was rarely heard of women working as merchant marines; and

Whereas Marion received a medal, and one of her children accepted on behalf of Marion's late husband who also served aboard the MV Ralph and Arthur until it was beached by the lighthouse in Parrsboro in the late 1940s;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Marion Wasson on her outstanding service, and we are grateful for the service she and her late husband provided to our country in wartime.

RESOLUTION NO. 1673

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas David Towns has donated the original drawing of the Five Islands Lighthouse to the Five Islands Preserve Lighthouse Society to help them raise funds to maintain the lighthouse; and

Whereas David Towns, a retired naval officer, was intrigued by the local community's efforts to maintain the lighthouse; and

Whereas David, who previously has drawn lighthouses for other lighthouse groups, was so interested in what the local society was doing to preserve the lighthouse that he offered to draw a picture of it and use it for a fundraiser;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate David Towns on his exceptional talent and the generosity that he has shown in donating this piece of art to the Five Islands Preserve Lighthouse Society, and wish Mr. Towns all the best in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 1674

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Town of Oxford is celebrating the centennial of their incorporation in 2004 and will be holding many events to celebrate, including a centennial tree tapping and family maple tour; and

Whereas Oxford was officially incorporated on April 19, 1904, and will be celebrated with many activities, including the town inviting back all previous mayors and councillors for a celebration on April 19, 2004; and

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Whereas many events and services will be taking place in the celebrations of these centennial events throughout the year, including a street parade to honour the town;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Town of Oxford on the centennial of its incorporation and wish the town and its citizens many more years of prosperity.

RESOLUTION NO. 1675

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas R.H. Thompson was awarded the Merritt Award for Best Director in the Ship's Company Theatre's production of Jacob's Wake; and

Whereas R.H. Thompson was honoured with one of the five awards won by Ship's Company Theatre for this production; and

Whereas R.H. Thompson's superb direction of the play certainly earned him the honour of this outstanding achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate R.H. Thompson on this achievement and wish him continued success in all of his future endeavours.