Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-74

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, APRIL 27, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 6543
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3443, Veteran, Year of (2005) - Proclamation, The Premier 6544
Vote - Affirmative 6544
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Veterans Affairs: Year of the Veteran - Certificate of Recognition,
The Premier 6545
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TCH: Middleton Railway Museum - Station Preserve,
Mr. S. McNeil 6549
Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Restore, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6549
Educ.: Post-Secondary Funding - Restore, Mr. D. Dexter 6550
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Resources Committee 2003-04 Annual Report, Mr. J. MacDonell 6550
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3444, Health Prom. - Take the Roof off Winter Campaign,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6551
Vote - Affirmative 6551
Res. 3445, Nat'l. Immunization Awareness Wk. (04/24-04/30/05) -
Recognize, Hon. A. MacIsaac 6551
Vote - Affirmative 6552
Res. 3446, Acadian Affs. - French for the Future Prog.,
Hon. C. d'Entremont 6552
Vote - Affirmative 6553
Res. 3447, Com. Serv. - Social Workers: Work - Acknowledge,
Hon. D. Morse 6554
Vote - Affirmative 6554
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 173, Bee Industry Act, Hon. C. d'Entremont 6555
No. 174, Auditor General Act, Hon. M. Baker 6555
No. 175, Needle Safety Act, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6555
No. 176, Order of Nova Scotia Act, Mr. G. Gosse 6555
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3448, Budget (Cdn.) - Offshore/Post-Secondary Educ.: N.S. MPs -
Support, Mr. D. Dexter 6556
Res. 3449, Sydney Tar Ponds Cleanup: Comprehensive Study Track
- Endorse, Mr. Manning MacDonald 6556
Res. 3450, Pictou Co. Tourist Assoc.: Stellarton Homecoming/Hector Fest.
- Star of the Festivals Award, The Premier 6557
Vote - Affirmative 6558
Res. 3451, Gaum, Percy "Pinky": Wartime Deeds - Honour,
Mr. G. Gosse 6558
Vote - Affirmative 6559
Res. 3452, Bishara, Joe: Commun. Contributions - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 6559
Vote - Affirmative 6560
Res. 3453, World Series - Boston: Celebration - Imminence,
Mr. B. Taylor 6560
Vote - Affirmative 6561
Res. 3454, Clean N.S.: Litter Reduction - Commend, Ms. J. Massey 6561
Vote - Affirmative 6562
Res. 3455, TCH: Museum Funding - Adequacy Ensure, Mr. L. Glavine 6562
Res. 3456, Spears, Julia - DaCosta Award, Hon. J. Muir 6563
Vote - Affirmative 6563
Res. 3457, River John Cons. Sch.: Flag Day Celebration - Congrats.,
Mr. C. Parker 6563
Vote - Affirmative 6564
Res. 3458, Econ. Dev. - Students: N.S. Remain - Assist,
Mr. H. Theriault 6564
Vote - Affirmative 6569
Res. 3459, Grand View Manor: Expansion - Congrats., Mr. J. Parent 6565
Vote - Affirmative 6566
Res. 3460, Educ. - Sch. Breakfast Prog.: Min. Init. - Acknowledge,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6566
Vote - Affirmative 6566
Res. 3461, Oakwood Terr.: Vols. - Thank, Ms. M. More 6567
Vote - Affirmative 6567
Res. 3462, Health: Safety-Engineered Needles - Usage Mandate,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6567
Res. 3463, Chezzetcook Lions Club: Members/Vols. - Thank,
Mr. W. Dooks 6569
Vote - Affirmative 6569
Res. 3464, WOW: Weymouth Bd. of Trade/Rush Communications -
Congrats., Mr. H. Theriault 6570
Vote - Affirmative 6570
Res. 3465, Brown, Jamie: Accomplishments - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 6570
Vote - Affirmative 6571
Res. 3466, Lunenburg Falcons - Atom B Prov. Championship,
Hon. M. Baker 6571
Vote - Affirmative 6572
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 751, Seniors - Needs: Inattention - Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 6572
No. 752, Prem. - N.S. MPs: Budget (Cdn.) - Support Urge,
Mr. Michel Samson, 6574
No. 753, Fin.: Tax Cuts - Ins. Companies, Mr. D. Dexter 6575
No. 754, Prem. - Debt Reduction: Promise - Failure Acknowledge,
Mr. Michel Samson 6577
No. 755, Gov't. (Can.): Nova Scotians - Heed, Mr. D. Dexter 6579
No. 756, Agric. & Fish. - Fishermen: Tax Burden - Ease,
Mr. C. Parker 6580
No. 757, Gaming: VLTs - Elimination, Mr. D. Graham 6582
No. 758, Health - Surgical Cancellations: Address - Lack Explain,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6583
No. 759, Health MRIs: Rural N.S. - Staff,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6585
No. 760, Gaming - VLTs: Numbers - Nat'l. Average Above,
Mr. D. Graham 6586
No. 761, Energy - Greenhouse Gas: Reduction - Target,
Mr. H. Epstein 6587
No. 762, Health: Surgery Cancellations - Reasons,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 6589
No. 763, Environ. & Lbr. - Water-Borne Illnesses: Treatment - Funding,
Ms. M. Raymond 6591
No. 764, Educ. - Forum: Info - Actions, Ms. D. Whalen 6592
No. 765, Com. Serv.: Pendleton Place - Closure,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 6593
No. 766, Com. Serv. - Early Learning: Quad Principles - Status,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6594
No. 767, WCB - Non-Voting Members: Appts. - Extension,
Mr. K. Colwell 6595
No. 768, Educ. - Town of Dominion: Schools - Commit,
Mr. F. Corbett 6597
No. 769, WCB: Chronic Pain Claims - Processing, Mr. K. Colwell 6598
No. 770, Nat. Res. - Spruce Longhorn Beetle: Infestation - Status,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 6599
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3373, Insurance - Non-Profit Sector: Affordability - Ensure,
Mr. G. Steele 6601
Ms. M. More 6601
Hon. A. MacIsaac 6603
Mr. Michel Samson 6605
Mr. G. Steele 6609
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 157, Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act 6612
Mr. H. Epstein 6612
Hon. C. Clarke 6615
Mr. D. Graham 6618
Ms. M. Raymond 6620
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 6623
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 6624
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Sm. Bus.: PC Gov't. - Support:
Mr. M. Parent 6625
Mr. H. Epstein 6628
Mr. K. Colwell 6630
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 28th at 12:00 noon 6634
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3467, Forrester, Duane/N.S. Jeep Club: Emergency Transport -
Thank, Mr. W. Estabrooks 6635
Res. 3468, Perras, Deborah: Lakeside Power Interruptions - Petition,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 6635
Res. 3469, Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank: Vols. - Commend,
Mr. G. Hines 6636
Res. 3470, Health Prom. - Smoke Free Around Me Campaign: Participants
- Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 6636
Res. 3471, Pictou Co. Tourist Assoc.: Pictou Co. Weeks Crushers -
Ambassador Award, The Premier 6637
Res. 3472, Pictou Co. Tourist Assoc.: Sobeys Inc. - Award of Excellence,
The Premier 6637
Res. 3473, TPW - Seal Island Bridge: Proj. Members - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 6638
Res. 3474, Joseph Howe Exhibit - Creators: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. R. Russell 6638
Res. 3475, Gov't. (Can.) - Airport Liberalization (N.S.): Importance
- Recognize, Hon. R. Russell 6639
Res. 3476, Marshall, Audrey - Com. Vol. of the Yr. Award,
The Speaker 6639
Res. 3477, Carter, Stacey - Youth Vol. of the Yr., The Speaker 6640
Res. 3478, Griffin, Nick - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6640
Res. 3479, Gilbert, Maryanne - Vol. of the Yr., The Speaker 6641
Res. 3480, Gilroy, Patti - Basketball Award, The Speaker 6641
Res. 3481, GJDE Enterprises Ltd. -
Oxford Hometown Christmas Centennial Award, The Speaker 6642
Res. 3482, Griffin, Mike & Angela -
Oxford Hometown Christmas Centennial Award, The Speaker 6642
Res. 3483, Ferguson, Cadet Edward - Marksmanship Comp,
The Speaker 6643

[Page 6543]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 27, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Ms. Joan Massey, Mr. Daniel Graham

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The year 2005 marks the 60th Anniversary of the Second World War. By pausing to remember veterans and to reflect upon their sacrifices, we honour and thank all of those who served and died protecting our country. Throughout 2005, there will be many events that will allow the stories of these veterans to be highlighted, keeping the flame of remembrance alive. It is indeed a privilege for the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature to welcome some of our veterans here today. We've extended the honour of seating our veterans in the Speaker's Gallery. We are also very pleased to have students and teachers from Queen Elizabeth High School, Grade 11 Canadian History, with us today. Welcome.

I would now ask our honoured veterans to please rise if they are able to.

Members of the Legislature, please rise and join me in welcoming our honoured veterans to the House today. (Standing Ovation)

Thank you. Please be seated

6543

[Page 6544]

[GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3443

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas generations of brave Canadians have answered our nation's call in the defence of the rights and freedoms of their fellow citizens, asking only that we remember; and

Whereas this year is a significant milestone in history, marking the 60th Anniversary of victory in Europe in May, victory in the Pacific in August, and the end of the Second World War; and

Whereas members of the Canadian Forces continue to uphold a tradition of service and sacrifice in the protection of our nation during times of conflict and peace;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join together today to officially proclaim 2005 as the Year of the Veteran, in recognition of valiant efforts of all veterans, and in remembrance of all those who have made the supreme sacrifice in defence of our freedom.

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.

[2:15 p.m.]

[STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

[Page 6545]

THE PREMIER: It is my honour today to speak on a serious issue that deserves special attention. Mr. Speaker, as you, and every other member of this House would no doubt agree, it is a special honour to serve as an MLA in this House and be granted the privilege to represent our local communities in the business of government.

This is a House that has seen many representatives make clear stands on matters of principal. It is also a stage that has seen many compromises and significant co-operation, as we work to make government work for all Nova Scotians. Best of all, it has all been done in the public eye. Every action reported, explained and ultimately judged by the very people who originally sent us here. Each of these qualities represents the fundamental character of democracy. Few things are as precious, yet few are as commonly taken for granted.

Democracy did not emerge automatically nor was its continued survival guaranteed. It has been challenged many times in the past, including the severe challenges of two World Wars, the Korean War and the protracted conflicts that followed. We must never lose sight of how fortunate we are to serve in a free society and we should remain ever grateful to those whose sacrifice paved the way for the freedoms we enjoy today.

It is said that we only see the best of ourselves in times of challenge. Well in Nova Scotia's time of challenge, in Canada's time of challenge, in democracy's time of challenge the very best of entire generations were there for us. They were and are heroes in every sense of the word. They deserve our everlasting gratitude and respect.

The year 2005 is the Year of the Veteran. Of course, every year could be the Year of the Veteran, but this year even more than ever, we are taking special care to pay our respects to those who served. We are fortunate to have some of our province's veterans join us in the gallery here today. I am sure I speak for all members when I wish them a very warm welcome. Our veterans' courage, their strength and their sacrifice honours us all.

Today I am pleased to introduce a new measure through which we can, in turn, honour them. It is my pleasure to stand before this House and announce that the Province of Nova Scotia is introducing a new Certificate of Recognition to demonstrate our appreciation of the sacrifice and valour of our province's veterans. Families of any Nova Scotian veteran are encourage to submit their veteran's name to receive a certificate. Application forms will be available throughout the province and on-line. Compared to sacrifices being recognized, this is a very small gesture, but it is a tangible symbol of our gratitude, a tangible reminder of the depth of our appreciation.

In closing, I would like to congratulate the students from Queen Elizabeth High School for their efforts to educate their fellow students and ensure the lessons we learn from our province's veterans are never forgotten. To Patrick Milner and the members of the Acadian Youth Remembrance Society, thank you for your efforts to let veterans know that today's youth appreciate their service, to let them know that you're there and you care. To

[Page 6546]

our veterans here today, and to our veterans everywhere, thank you, we are so humbled, proud and always grateful. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister responsible for the Year of the Veteran.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to our esteemed guests, I say welcome and thank you; thank you to our veterans, members of the Royal Canadian Legion, members of our Armed Forces, peacekeepers, their families, as mentioned, and, importantly, our youth.

Mr. Premier and members, my late grandfather was a veteran. He served in the Netherlands with the Cape Breton Highlanders during the Second World War. He returned home to a family that loved him and missed him, and were proud of his service to his country. For all those who served, for all those who are willing and prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice, for all those who have committed themselves to the preservation of democracy and freedom, it is on their behalf that I thank you, Mr. Premier, for designating 2005 the Year of the Veteran in Nova Scotia. It is also on their benefit that I encourage the people of Nova Scotia to take the time this year to talk with a veteran.

C'est grace au experience de nos anciens combattens que nos enfants peuvent apprendre l'honneur, le devoir, le bravior, l'importance de connaître le passé afin qu'ils puissent nous guider dans l'avenir.

The written word is a powerful tool that allows us to pass on the thoughts and the feelings of a generation. Starting today, a Book of Remembrance will be available to the public to add their name in appreciation of someone in their family, a friend, someone they work with or someone who is a veteran. This small gesture is one way to show our appreciation for the generations who have answered our nation's call in service and in sacrifice. This Book of Remembrance will be on display in the lobby of Province House and I encourage everyone here today to take a moment before leaving to sign their name.

The province has also developed a Web site dedicated to the Year of the Veteran in Nova Scotia. Here you will find a list of events and activities taking place around the province during the year. The site will feature news, photos, stories and information on the Certificate of Recognition and the Book of Remembrance.

What has been announced today - the Certificate of Recognition, the Year of the Veteran Web site, and the Book of Remembrance are just three of the opportunities for you to become involved in the Year of the Veteran. I encourage you to attend veteran and Legion events in your community and become involved in the life of our veterans.

The Province of Nova Scotia is also looking forward to the upcoming Nova Scotia-Nunavut Command Biennial Convention which will be hosted by Breton Branch No. 8 of the Royal Canadian Legion in Sydney Mines on the May long weekend. It's an opportunity where

[Page 6547]

over 600 delegates will gather and really mark and commemorate the Year of the Veteran, and it's very beneficial for us today to launch the Year of the Veteran in this House so that we, as members of this Assembly, can go out across this province to our constituencies and share with Nova Scotians this opportunity to celebrate and commemorate the honour, valour and sacrifice of so many. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for this opportunity. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Mr. Darrell Dexter, Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, thank you for allowing me the opportunity to speak on the Year of the Veteran.

As many people here would know I had the opportunity to serve in the Armed Forces and like many Nova Scotians I had family who fought in WWII. In fact, my father and his brother left on a convoy from Halifax Harbour for overseas. I remember him telling me at the time they had the British battleships, the Repulse and the Renown, and they said they felt invincible until they were most of the way across the Atlantic when the convoy came under attack.

Whenever those stories were told there was always a sense of awe. There was always a sense of awe of the sacrifices that were being made by those men and women. My father's name, like that of many Nova Scotians is now recorded at the Juno Beach Centre in France. I look forward to the day that I can take my son there to share that experience with him.

Through commemorative events like the Year of the Veteran, generations of Nova Scotians can continue to honour the courage shown by Canadian men and women when they were half a world away, sometimes in unspeakable conditions.

I also want to take this opportunity to honour the sacrifices made by the men and women of the Canadian Armed Forces today and their families, for those who are serving in conflicts around the world. I believe that you can never say it enough so, on behalf of the NDP caucus, thank you to our veterans and current Armed Forces personnel for your service to this country. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am pleased to rise in the House today on behalf of our Leader, Francis MacKenzie, to express our caucus' appreciation along with all members in the House as we celebrate the Year of the Veteran. Today, in ceremony, we take the time to personally thank and pay tribute to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice in the name of peace and freedom. We spend time with those who have gathered here, think of those who can't be with us, and of course always remember the ones who didn't return. The dedication and true love for our country is clear when you look at the faces of our veterans. It is an emotion that cannot be expressed in words.

[Page 6548]

Mr. Speaker, I too, on behalf of our Party want to pay tribute to the men and women of our Armed Forces who still serve in areas where there is conflict. We are all proud of them in their efforts on behalf our country to encourage peace and democracy around the world. I would also want to recognize the Royal Canadian Legions through its many branches for supporting our veterans and their work in helping us to remember their sacrifices. I also want to recognize the Canada Youth Remembrance Society and all organizations that help us maintain and celebrate the history of our veterans.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal caucus and all of our members join today in paying tribute where the ultimate tribute is due, to our veterans and their families, for without them, the democracy we all choose to serve and uphold would not exist.

M. le president on à de notre chefs, Francis MacKenzie et de notre caucus Libéral, je veux prendre cet occasion de reconaître nos ançiens combattants ceçi, l'année de l'ançiens combattant proclamé par le gouvernements Fédéral. Nous sommes tous reconaissants de les sacrifices par les hommes et les femmes qui ont représenté notre pays dans les guerres et pour maintenir la paix.

Je tiens a féliçiter le Premiers Ministre et les ministres responsable pour l'année des anciens combattents, pour l'évenment aujourd'hui. J'èspère qu'on pourra s'attendre à plus d'annonçe de çe gouvernements pendants l'année alors que notre Province peut continuer à célébrer cette année si importants.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would now ask that members of the House rise for two minutes of silence in memory of those who served and died protecting our country.

MR. SPEAKER: All members will rise for two minutes of silence.

[Two minutes of silence were observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated. I would like to thank the veterans and their guest for attending this session of the Legislature today. The House will now resume the session following the departure of our veterans and their guests, and I would like to remind everyone to take the opportunity to sign the Book of Remembrance in the Hollis Street foyer. Thank you very much for being here today.

[2:30 p.m.]

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

[Page 6549]

Therefore be it resolved that this Progressive Conservative Government is a strong supporter of small business.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, could I do an introduction prior to the petition?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. MCNEIL: I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery and introduce from the Middleton Railway Museum, Ron Johnson, Margaret Wilkins, Terry Heisen, Harvey Keizer and Max Jarvis, and I would ask you to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

On behalf of the Middleton Railway Museum, a non-profit organization in my area, Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition with over 2,000 signatures, and the operative clause says:

"We are upgrading the land around the station and continue to cooperate with adjoining landowners to make the area more pleasant for all. Our present short-term lease prevents us from qualifying for grants to maintain, upgrade or acquire rolling stock for the museum. For this reason we are asking for public support in our efforts to preserve the station and obtain a long-term lease . . ."

I have affixed my signature, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 120 post-secondary students in this province who are concerned about tuition fees. The operative phrase is:

[Page 6550]

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to:

I have affixed my signature to this petition, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition bearing 144 signatures of post-secondary students in this province. The operative clause which reads:

"Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to:

Mr. Speaker, I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, as the Chairman of the Committee on Resources, I am pleased to table the 2003-04 Annual Report of the committee.

[Page 6551]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture

RESOLUTION NO. 3444

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

Whereas more Nova Scotians got active this Winter thanks to Health Promotion's Take the Roof off Winter campaign; and

Whereas television ads, newspaper ads and a Web site promoted fun and easy ways to be active in Winter, like skating, walking, sledding and building a rink; and

Whereas thousands of Nova Scotians visited the Web site to learn about these activities and to submit their stories to us;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that as a result of the Take the Roof off Winter campaign, more people were active, and shared their stories about being active in an effort to increase awareness of the importance of physical activity in Winter.

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. 3445

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

[Page 6552]

Whereas immunization is one of the most cost-effective health investments - helping to prevent disease and promote a healthier population; and

Whereas this week, April 24th to 30th, is National Immunization Awareness Week, recognizing the importance of immunization in keeping people, and especially children, healthy; and

Whereas more children in Nova Scotia now have access to important vaccines than ever before as a result of nationwide efforts to enhance immunization programs in Canada - more than 40,000 children will benefit this year alone from our expanded program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize April 24th to 30th as National Immunization Awareness Week and spread the word about the importance of immunization in their homes and communities.

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 Responsible for Acadian Affairs.

RESOLUTION NO. 3446

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: M. le Président, à une date ultérieure, je demanderai l'adoption de la resolution suivante:

Attendu que le gouvernement de la Nouvelle -Écosse reconnaît la nature bilingue du Canada et célèbre les accomplissements des milliers d'élèves qui sont inscrits à des programmes d'éducation en français en Nouvelle-Écosse seulement; et

Attendu que les élèves de la region d'Halifax ont participé à un programme d'éducation national intitulé "Le français pour l'avenir" au cours des six dernières années, permettant ainsi d'établir des liens entre les élèves francophones partout dans la province; et

[Page 6553]

Attendu que le programme "Le français pour l'avenir" collabore avec les monde d'affaires, les éducateurs, la communauté pour but de promouvoir et a faire valoir les avantages du bilinguisme.

Par consequent, qu'il soit resolu que tous les members de cette assemblée reconnaissent la contribution de ces jeunes élèves qui continent d'aider le développement de la dualité linguistique de notre province et, par conséquent, de notre pays.

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

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

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia recognizes the bilingual nature of Canada and celebrates the achievements of the thousands of students who are enrolled in French-language education programs in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the students of the Halifax region have been participating in a national education program entitled "French for the Future" for the past six years - bridging the gap between French-speaking students from all corners of the region; and

Whereas the French for the Future program works with businesses, educators, and community leaders to promote the benefits of bilingualism;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the contribution of these young students who continue to develop the linguistic duality of our province, and hence our country.

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 Community Services.

[Page 6554]

RESOLUTION NO. 3447

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

Whereas Social Work Week was celebrated across Canada this year during the week of March 6th to March 12th; and

Whereas there are 1,500 licensed social workers in Nova Scotia who do a tremendously important job day after day; and

Whereas social workers provide a wide array of services which vary greatly depending on the setting in which they are involved, such as those employed by Children's Aid Societies who investigate cases of family violence, child abuse and neglect and take protective action as required;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly acknowledge the work undertaken daily by social workers across Nova Scotia, knowing they are only a phone call away in times of crisis.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to draw the attention of members of the House to the east gallery where we have visiting with us 15 Grade 11 history students from Cobequid Educational Centre in Truro, accompanied by teachers, Peter Keavney and Robert Langille. I might mention that Mr. Langille is indeed related to the Mr. Langille who sits on this side of the House. I would ask them to stand, please, and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 6555]

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

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour on an introduction.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to draw the attention of all members of the House to some people from Canso in the gallery, His Worship Mayor Ray White is certainly no stranger to these Chambers; his wife, Judy; and also Deputy Mayor Buzz Lumsden. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome these guests to the galleries today. Certainly Mr. White is no stranger to this House, having sat here himself for a number of years.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 173 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Bee Industry. (Hon. Christopher d'Entremont)

Bill No. 174 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 28 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Auditor General Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

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

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to introduce a few people in the west gallery before I table the bill. Joining us in the west gallery today are members of the Service Employees International Union. We have Cindy Wamback, who is the President of SEIU Local 902, from Lockeport; Pam Francis, the Treasurer of that local, from Digby; Barbara Lynch, who is a trustee member, from Digby; Madonna Comeau from Little Brook; Cedric Thibault, who is the Vice-President of the local, from Saulnierville; and Carl Mavromichalis, who is the National Communications Director for the SEIU in Canada. I would ask the members to please make them feel welcome here today. (Applause)

Bill No. 175 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Use of Safe Needles in Workplaces. (Mr. David Wilson [Glace Bay])

Bill No. 176 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 9 of the Acts of 2001. The Order of Nova Scotia Act. (Mr. Gordon Gosse)

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

[Page 6556]

[2:45 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3448

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

Whereas immediately after the 2005 federal Budget Address, the Finance Minister of Nova Scotia correctly identified the single biggest omission as that budget's failure to address the needs in post-secondary education; and

Whereas the Prime Minister has now agreed to change the federal budget, adding $1.5 billion for post-secondary education to help students overcome the barrier of sky-rocketing tuition fees; and

Whereas the budget legislation that includes the offshore revenue retention for Nova Scotia will now also address post-secondary concerns that are more pressing here than in any other province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge all Members of Parliament from Nova Scotia to consider the value of offshore revenue retention and a significant new federal investment in post-secondary education before they cast a vote against those measures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3449

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

[Page 6557]

Whereas the clean-up of the Sydney tar ponds represents an historic opportunity for the Sydney area to clean up the largest toxic waste site in Canada, while providing jobs and a boost to the economy with a $400 million investment; and

Whereas the Cape Breton Regional Council, the Cape Breton District Health Authority and 11 other community groups, including the Building Trades Council and the Labour Council and Local 1064(2) of the United Steelworkers of America have called on the federal government to allow for a comprehensive study track to the completion of an environmental assessment; and

Whereas all members of this House should encourage the federal Environment Minister Stéphane Dion to move forward on this comprehensive study track;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House endorse a comprehensive study track to an environmental assessment of the Sydney tar ponds clean-up and ask the federal Minister of the Environment to allow for the comprehensive study so that Sydney can begin to clean up this environmental mess.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3450

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

Whereas tourism is an industry which greatly benefits the County of Pictou; and

Whereas to encourage our area citizens and organizations, the Pictou County Tourist Association annually commends local groups for their contributions during its gala awards dinner; and

[Page 6558]

Whereas the 2005 Star of the Festivals Award, as sponsored by the Comfort Inn, resulted in a tie and was presented to both the Stellarton Homecoming and the Hector Festival, the award accepted by my own Constituency Assistant, Eleanor Marks, I may add, Mr. Speaker;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate this year's Star of the Festivals Award winners on their contributions to the Pictou County tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 3451

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

Whereas Percy Pinky Gaum was elected to the Nova Scotia Legislature on October 30, 1956 and was subsequently re-elected three more times, diligently serving the constituents of Cape Breton Nova until 1970; and

Whereas Royal Canadian Air Force Warrant Officer Percy Gaum was a rear gunner on a Wellington 3 bomber posted to Number 9 Squadron at Honington, Suffolk, England; and

Whereas on May 16, 1942, Warrant Officer Gaum's Wellington 3 crashed in the Nakskov Fjord and he then became POW No. 48 at Stalag 357, at Thorn, Fallingbostel and was not released until 1945 when the POW camps were liberated;

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Legislative Assembly honour the memory and deeds of the late Warrant Officer Percy Pinky Gaum and former MLA and Cabinet Minister of the Nova Scotia Legislature, and give thanks and pay richly deserved honour to him and thousands of others like him, who served their country so that we could

[Page 6559]

all be here today, on the 60th Anniversary of the end of World War II, which has been proclaimed The Year of the Veteran, We Will Remember Them.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis on an introduction.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the House's attention to the west gallery where my wife, Andrea, my daughter Colleen and my son Jeffrey are here today to take in the proceedings. I would ask that you give them a warm welcome. (Applause) They have a great belief in public service, so I would ask during Question Period that you guys not dispel any beliefs they might have, okay. (Laughter)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I certainly welcome our special guests in the gallery today and I hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 3452

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

Whereas on March 1, 2005, Joe Bishara, a teacher from Maple Grove Educational Centre in Yarmouth County was honoured with the Minister of Veterans Affairs Commendation Award; and

Whereas this award is presented to veterans who have consistently gone above and beyond in the care for the well-being of veterans, or have worked to raise awareness of veterans' contributions to society, the sacrifice they have made as well as celebrate their achievements; and

[Page 6560]

Whereas 20 years ago, Mr. Bishara founded the Memorial Club at Maple Grove, where emphasis is placed on honouring the contribution veterans have made on a regular basis while working diligently with students organizing visits to the Veterans Memorial Hospital here in Halifax, as well as a trip to Ottawa with over 200 students to meet with veterans in long-term care in hospitals;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly join me in congratulating Joe Bishara for his outstanding contributions to his community and his dedicated work with the students involved with the Memorial Club.

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 Richmond on an introduction.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, today we have visiting with us in the west gallery, Miss Tay Freitag who is from Renfrew, Ontario, and quite ironically, being we recognized some of our Nova Scotia veterans today, Miss Freitag is originally a native of Holland. She is here in Nova Scotia today visiting with her daughter, Diana. I would ask her to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 3453

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

Whereas the 2004 World Series Champions, the Boston Red Sox pulled off a miraculous comeback over the New York Yankees by winning four straight, after losing the first three games in the American League Championship series; and

[Page 6561]

Whereas with the exception of the three losses to their arch-nemesis, the New York Yankees, the Red Sox won 11 games, as before the Yankees they defeated the Anaheim Angels three straight, and after the Yankees, they jumped all over the St. Louis Cardinals; and

Whereas Nova Scotia has always had a special relationship with the City of Boston, going back to the assistance Boston provided during the Halifax Explosion and the Christmas tree Nova Scotia provides to Boston on an annual basis;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly understand that many Nova Scotians are confident that it will not be another 86 years before Bostonians celebrate another World Series win.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure whether I dare ask for waiver, but will ask anyway - 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. 3454

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

Whereas Clean Nova Scotia kicked off its 15th annual Great Nova Scotia Pick-Me-Up on Earth Day, April 22, 2005; and

Whereas this year-round litter abatement program has up to 25,000 volunteers of all ages picking up litter across the province; and

Whereas this year Clean Nova Scotia is encouraging more businesses and young adults to take part in this rewarding program which benefits not only the citizens of Nova Scotia but also for wildlife, water systems and visitors;

[Page 6562]

Therefore be it resolved that this government commend Clean Nova Scotia for its efforts in reducing litter in our environment, and congratulate the volunteers that take part in this pick-me-up.

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. 3455

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 King's Historical Society has kept the doors of the Kings County Museum open for over 25 years now; and

Whereas the Kings County Museum, as part of our provincial museum system, used to be the best in Canada - one to which other provinces looked to for inspiration - sadly, this is no longer the case; and

Whereas the curators of the South West Nova Scotia Curators Group are extremely concerned with the decreasing funding;

Therefore be it resolved that this government commit to a funding level that will protect our provincial treasures before we see doors closed forever.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6563]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3456

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

Whereas Julia Spears, a Grade 5 student from Douglas Street Elementary School in Truro was one of 11 winners of the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Awards; and

Whereas the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Awards are, following Canada-wide competition, presented annually in Ottawa to 11 students aged 9 to 18; and

Whereas Julia Spears was recognized for her essay of Rose Fortune, North America's first black policewoman;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Julia Spears in receiving the Mathieu Da Costa Challenge Award and wish her continued success in her educational pursuits.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3457

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

[Page 6564]

Whereas River John Consolidated School once again kept up their long tradition of celebrating Flag Day, this year on February 15th; and

Whereas this date marked the 40th Anniversary of the Canadian flag and is also recognized as the Year of the Veteran; and

Whereas several guest speakers shared their thoughts on the symbolic Maple Leaf with the assembled students and more than 40 representatives of community organizations were recognized at the ceremony;

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Principal Frank MacNeill and all those involved at River John Consolidated School in celebrating another successful Flag Day.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3458

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

Whereas our children are the future of our heritage, our culture and our economy of our wonderful province; and

Whereas our children are finding it tough to shoulder huge student debts and are having to move away to find jobs to pay this huge debt, only to help make other provinces grow; and

[Page 6565]

Whereas if this trend continues, it will dearly cost seniors to keep this province growing when the rural areas are nothing but seniors' homes;

Therefore be it resolved that the children who want to stay in Nova Scotia be helped to do so by this government so our wonderful province can grow and prosper into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3459

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

Whereas Grand View Manor in Berwick celebrated its latest renovation last September with a grand opening and dedication ceremony; and

Whereas two new wings, which house a total of 30 new acute-care beds, were named after former Grand View Manor Administrator, Richard Wagner and 30-year resident Raymond Rainforth who passed away in 2001; and

Whereas Grand View Manor's Chief Administrator, Graham Hardy, says the new wings are designed to provide a new level of care for the residents;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Grand View Manor's staff and residents on their renovation and expansion and thank them for their service and dedication to the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 6566]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3460

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

Whereas nearly 12,000 youth attend school daily without breakfast; and

Whereas members of the Legislature, school boards and parent representatives have identified the School Breakfast Program essential to ensuring our youth achieve maximum potential and personal, social and educational development; and

Whereas recent legislative developments indicate the Minister of Education has responded positively to the need for a province-wide breakfast program;

Therefore be it resolved all members of the House of Assembly acknowledge the positive initiative taken by the Minister of Education concerning a province-wide breakfast program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

[Page 6567]

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3461

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

Whereas Oakwood Terrace is a well-respected home for special care in Dartmouth; and

Whereas the quality of life of its residents is enhanced by the efforts of upwards of 120 volunteers; and

Whereas these volunteers perform tasks as varied as taking residents to appointments, arranging visits by pets, feeding residents, helping with programs, and doing significant fundraising;

Therefore be it resolved that the Legislative Assembly pay tribute to the volunteers of Oakwood Terrace, and thank them for their ongoing efforts to improve and enhance the quality of life of these important residents of Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3462

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 every year approximately 1,350 acute care health care workers in this province are exposed to potentially deadly diseases when they are stuck with used needles in their workplace; and

[Page 6568]

Whereas this government has an opportunity to create a safer workplace for health care workers, while saving the health care system money, by making the use of safety-engineered needles mandatory in health care facilities; and

Whereas May 1st to May 8th of this year is North American Occupational Health and Safety Week - a week dedicated to the prevention of the accidents and illness both in the workplace and at home;

Therefore be it resolved that government adopt regulations or legislation that would ultimately protect the health and safety of health care workers by making the use of safety-engineered needles mandatory in all health care facilities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there was a resolution brought forward by the honourable member for Digby-Annapolis and I was wondering if he could read the "whereas" again, and perhaps get waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis on the "therefore be it resolved" portion of the resolution, please.

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Therefore be it resolved that the children who want to stay in Nova Scotia be helped to do so by this government, so our wonderful province can grow and prosper into the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 6569]

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. 3463

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 Chezzetcook and District Lions Club is just one of the clubs across Nova Scotia getting involved in May's Recycle for Sight Program; and

Whereas nearly 500 million people around the world are in need of eyeglasses, and the Lions Club is stepping up to collect as many pairs of glasses as possible, sending them to the CNIB where they will be cleaned, repaired and shipped to developing countries; and

Whereas Lions Clubs also support their communities through dinners, barbecues, Christmas tree sales and auctions, raising hundreds of thousands of dollars each year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the hard-working members and volunteers of the Chezzetcook Lions Club and all other Lions Clubs across the province for their hard work and dedication to not only their community, but people in need around the world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

[Page 6570]

RESOLUTION NO. 3464

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

Whereas on April 2nd the Weymouth and Area Board of Trade, with the support of a dedicated volunteer base, has launched the Window on Weymouth television station, call sign WOW on Rush Communications Channel 2; and

Whereas the name of the station was suggested by Brandi Jenkins of St. Mary's Bay Academy from all the contest entries; and

Whereas this station will be a valuable asset to the citizens of Weymouth and the surrounding area by providing content that will focus on the advancing interests of the residents of these communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Weymouth and Area Board of Trade and Rush Communications for their foresight and applaud the efforts of all the volunteers who are contributing to this worthwhile initiative.

Mr. Speaker, I request 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 Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3465

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

Whereas Jamie Brown, a Grade 12 student at Sackville High School, was recently featured in the rising star section of the Daily News: and

[Page 6571]

Whereas Jamie was recognized for her volleyball, badminton and slow pitch skills; and

Whereas Jamie's future plans are to attend law school and become a practising lawyer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending along our congratulations to Jamie Brown and wish her the best of luck with her future studies.

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. 3466

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 Lunenburg Falcons have had an exceptional year finishing fourth at the Atom B Provincial Championships recently held in New Glasgow; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Falcons were also awarded the Fair Play Flag Award in recognition of their team's good sportsmanship throughout the tournament and team's goalie, Cole Skinner, was chosen the All Star goalie for the tournament; and

Whereas the Falcon team members were Cole Skinner, Matthew Bustin, Jack Schembrei, Nick Barkley, Jordan McCreanor, Reily Knickle, Cole Tanner, Emma Mosher, Joshua Glover, Nick Mossman, Stephen Baker, Evan Stoodley, Mason Redmond, Lian Fullerton, Daniel Baker and Jack Matyas;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate all the members of the Lunenburg Falcons on their excellent performance at the Atom B Provincial Championships and on winning the Fair Play Flag Award.

[Page 6572]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Order, please. No further resolutions?

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:07 p.m. and end at 4:37 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

SENIORS - NEEDS: INATTENTION - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my first question today is for the Premier. In the last days of the 2003 election, the Premier promised to increase personal use allowances for seniors in nursing homes. The announcement yesterday by this government regarding personal use allowances could best be described as an insult. People will still struggle to pay for telephones, personal hygiene items, transportation and other expenses. My question to the Premier is, why does his government continue to ignore the needs of seniors in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I just want to again mention that specific questions about the budget, there are about 80 hours of estimates in this House to deliberate the budget, but a general policy question to the government will be allowed. These questions are getting very close to budgetary questions and I won't allow them.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has been attending to the needs of seniors. This year, for example, we froze the Pharmacare premium and I believe the amount that the government had to contribute to the program to allow the freeze in the Pharmacare premium and the co-pay was something in the order of $17 million, I don't have the numbers in front of me, but it's in that order. We have put significant new money into the support

[Page 6573]

programs for seniors' housing. We have put significant new money in recent months into upgrading and renovating seniors' homes.

Mr. Speaker, this government is attuned to the needs of seniors and will continue to address them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is about the Premier keeping his word that he made in an eleventh hour campaign announcement at Ocean View Manor in Eastern Passage. I'm going to table a newspaper article where Marjorie McCammont, a resident at the nursing home, has some pithy advice for the government.

Mr. Speaker, my question for the Premier is this, his government already made seniors wait 19 months for an announcement, how can he justify continuing to keep some seniors in nursing homes living in poverty for another eight months?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do remember that day in 2003, and I remember the very articulate way in which the senior brought the matter to my attention. This is a commitment that the government has made; it's a commitment that I made. It's a commitment that we're able to address, perhaps not to the extent that that senior and many other seniors would like, but not only did we increase the amount, we eliminated the clawback of unused funds. As well, we increased the number of items that seniors could use the money for, we provided flexibility. In addition, we also arranged, if they wished to have the $200 option, they could access that option.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Mrs. McCammont's language is somewhat flowery and, I'm sure, amusing, but what we have to remember is that the seniors in the program who still get $105 a month lost every penny they had to a harsh financial assessment process that was perfected by this government. They don't have any other resources to dip into in order to pay for their daily needs. I'm going to again ask the Premier, when can these seniors expect some real relief with their personal use allowance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I won't be making another commitment today on the floor of the House, but I can assure all seniors that this government will continue to give strong consideration to their requirements. From time to time, the government is in a position where we know something has to be done and perhaps done in a very . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Premier has the floor.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the demands on the government are many, and we will address the demands as we can but always within the revenues that are available to the government.

[Page 6574]

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

PREM. - N.S. MPs: BUDGET (CDN.) - SUPPORT URGE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, last night we had word that it looks like the federal budget is a little closer to being passed, ensuring that the Offshore Accord money will come to Nova Scotia. The only thing standing in the way now is the federal Progressive Conservatives and the separatists. If the Premier wanted to make the passage of the accord a sure thing, he would immediately demand that Progressive Conservative MPs in Nova Scotia support the Offshore Accord now, not six months from now. Nova Scotians question why this Premier remains silent while our province loses $1 million a week while the accord is not passed. My question is, will the Premier, after Question Period today, call on Nova Scotia MPs, Peter MacKay, Gerald Keddy and Bill Casey, to support the federal budget now so that Nova Scotia will be guaranteed the $830 million from Ottawa?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, wouldn't it be wonderful if we could spend the next six weeks in this House debating what's going on in Ottawa. I think it would allow us all to conclude, on the government side, things must be awfully good here in Nova Scotia. But I want to remind the honourable member opposite that on April 6th there was a motion tabled in the House of Parliament by the honourable Stephen Harper, and seconded by the Leader of the New Democratic Party, the honourable Jack Layton, to separate out the bill and they would guarantee quick passage of the accord. The government of the day would not accommodate that motion.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, coming from a Premier who we saw just how he shoved stuff into his bills when he had a majority government and refused to separate them from his own bills, and now he chastises Ottawa, hypocrisy is certainly in the air and I think the Premier knows it himself. Now that Stephen Harper is courting support from Ontario, he has stated that he wishes a new deal with all Canadian provinces rather than these one-off deals, such as the Atlantic Accord. The last commitment that the Premier has from Mr. Harper that he will support this is dated April 11th.

[3:15 p.m.]

While the Premier was quick to call on all Nova Scotia MPs to support Nova Scotia keeping its offshore revenues before the accord was signed, he now remains silent when, ironically, it's his fellow Conservative MPS from Nova Scotia that threaten not to allow the accord to go through. My question again is, why won't the Premier stand up for Nova Scotians and demand that Nova Scotia's three Conservative MPS support the passage of the accord before any federal election?

[Page 6575]

MR. PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, anticipating the line of questioning from the House Leader of the Third Party, yesterday I had a chance to look at the proposed agenda for next week in the House of Commons. That is put out by the Government of Canada and it's interesting on that particular week they are not going to call the Budget Implementation Act. How can the bill be passed if the government doesn't put it on the order paper?

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, knowing what all Canadians know after what happened last night, for the Premier of this province to suggest that's not going to be called for a vote now is blatantly ridiculous for him to say that in this House today. This is the Premier that told us $1 million a week is what we are losing. If we are to believe what you are saying and that Stephen Harper promises he'll pass it in the Fall, we stand to lose over $20 million, if not the entire accord. My question is to the Premier, how can you sit there silent when you fought so hard for this accord in the first place and now don't say a word while there are federal games being played and Nova Scotians lose $1 million a week due to your silence?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I made reference to an opportunity on April 6th to have the Accord Act passed and we'd have our cheque today. The motion was put forward by Mr. Harper, seconded by Mr. Layton who guaranteed quick passage of the accord. Had that passed, we'd have the cheque today.

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

FIN.: TAX CUTS - INS. COMPANIES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, you heard the Premier say they just don't have the money to help out seniors with their personal use allowances. But, you know something, for the big insurance companies, nothing is too good. Nationally, last year these insurance companies made $4.1 billion in profits. According to the most recent numbers my office received from the Superintendent of Insurance companies, they were doing pretty well in Nova Scotia as well. In 2002 and 2003 they took in $270 million more in premiums than they paid out in claims. Yet, the Progressive Conservative Government chose to put a cap on pain and suffering awards for victims of car accidents. So, my question for the Premier is this, why do you believe that the big insurance companies need your break more than Nova Scotia families?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there are some philosophical differences that separate the Opposition from the government. The government believes that by stimulating the economy by encouraging jobs, you really do a better job for all people in the province - even those that are not necessarily in the job market, that separates us. If you look at the Budget Address that was given yesterday, last year our provincial revenues increased $250 million - that didn't happen by accident. It happened because there's a good climate here for people to do business. It happened because companies can come here because it is competitive, they

[Page 6576]

can create jobs and we get those increased revenues. If we followed the advice of the Opposition, that money would not be here, those jobs would be somewhere else.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the simple fact of the matter is, the rate that he reduced is already lower I believe than the rate in any other province that has that tax. I'm not sure who he's competing with. In 2003, the Progressive Conservative Government sided with big insurance companies and that's the real difference, who we're here to actually work for, not big insurance companies, for the people. He sided with the big insurance companies to put a limit on pain and suffering claims for victims of car accidents forever, even though, according to the government's own numbers, insurance companies made $143 million more than they paid out in claims in 2003 alone. My question is, how can you possibly justify taking away the rights of accident victims while insurance companies are making hundreds of millions of dollars in profits?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it all depends really where your priorities are. Well, I'll tell you where my priorities are and I'll tell you where the priorities of this government are: our priorities are with the workers, the 3,500 workers at Michelin; our priorities are with the workers at Stora; our priorities are with the workers at Bowater Mersey; our priorities are with the workers at TrentonWorks. We want those big corporations to be right here employing Nova Scotians and providing the revenues that allow us to make those considerable investments in health care and education. That's where our priorities are.

MR. DEXTER: It's too bad they didn't have a little money for Snair's, maybe they would still be here providing jobs, Mr. Speaker.

Mr. Speaker, I'm told that members of the Bar in Pictou met with the Premier recently and that the Premier told them not to worry, that changes to the cap would be coming. So my question to the Premier is this, what do you intend to do and when? (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Could the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition repeat the question, please.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm told that the Premier recently met with members of the Bar in Pictou County and that he told them that changes were coming to the cap. I'm asking what changes are coming and when?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is very correct, I did meet with three members of the local legal community in Pictou County who brought to me some of their concerns. But this is not about the legal community, this is about whether or not Nova Scotians can afford insurance. This is about whether or not people are being significantly disadvantaged by the minor injury cap. We have encouraged any Nova Scotian who feels that they are being disadvantaged by the government's policy to get in touch with us, to get in touch with the insurance advocate, because we are interested in looking at those cases and

[Page 6577]

if those cases come forward and they form a pattern, the government is prepared to act. But until that happens, we're quite happy with the fact that $55 million was returned to Nova Scotians directly as a result of our handling of the insurance file; $55 million.

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

PREM. - DEBT REDUCTION: PROMISE - FAILURE ACKNOWLEDGE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, yesterday, we heard a Budget Speech which attempted to atone for the failures of the Premier and this government. Here we are five years into the Hamm Government and the debt of our province still grows, in fact, the debt of this province has been growing constantly since 1999. I want to table for the Premier an interview in which he did in the local paper. The Premier said, "A Progressive Conservative Government is committed to reducing the provincial debt. Over our first four-year mandate we will ensure the debt, that being the true debt that includes all on-book and off-book borrowing, will not increase."

Mr. Speaker, the Premier's first four years are up and the promise is clearly broken. It's a failure that's going to cost generations of Nova Scotians to come. My question to the Premier is, when will the Premier acknowledge his failure to live up to his promise on the debt made to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the road from a $500 million deficit to a balanced budget, a road which he travelled from 1999 to the year 2002 was a very, very difficult road, as was pointed out yesterday in the Budget Address, a significant amount of the increase in the debt was due to accounting changes, it was due to the fact that we had to take in debt that the previous government had never acknowledged existed as a responsibility of the taxpayers in the first place. I'm talking about debt at NSRL, I'm talking about debt at Sysco and I'm talking about debt on the regional health board books.

Mr. Speaker, it's been a long and difficult road and we have made a commitment that in the year 2007 the actual debt of the province will start to fall. We are very proud of the fact that despite the fact we went from a very significant deficit to a surplus in this province, despite all of that, we have improved the debt-to-GDP ratio and we anticipate this year it will fall even further to 39.6 per cent. These are the reasons why three bond rating agencies have upgraded the credit rating of the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: "Over our first four-year mandate we will ensure the debt, that being the true debt that includes all on-book and off-book borrowing, will not increase." Those aren't my words, those were your words, Mr. Premier. How ironic, how you can explain away your own credibility.

[Page 6578]

I want to draw the attention of the Premier to another interview he did with a local paper in which he said: "The day that I can't keep my commitments to the people is the day that I'm going to start uninvolving myself in public life." Mr. Speaker, the promise not to add to the debt is a fundamental promise that this Premier made. The budget tabled yesterday will see our province paying more money on the debt and borrowing more money, and that is money that will not go to education, it will not go to health, and it will not go to our roads.

My question to the Premier is, when will the Premier live up to his promise made in 1999 to stop adding to this province's debt?

THE PREMIER: In 2007.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, how many more promises in 1999 is the Premier willing to throw away now? "I will not mortgage my grandchildren's future." How much stronger a statement can you make than that? When you refer to your grandchildren's future and now you stand in this House and you say that you've broken that commitment, and you won't even apologize to Nova Scotians for it, you tell them wait a little bit longer - that's the true face of leadership from this government.

Mr. Speaker, this government has been running on borrowed money for five years. This year they will again, even with the revenues they have, be looking to borrow more money in order to meet their commitments this year. So my question to the Premier: How much faith can Nova Scotians have in a Premier when he continues to break such a fundamental promise made to Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: I'm reminded of a few comments that were made in a press release at the time of Standard & Poor's rating service and their announcement that they were improving the credit rate of the province. They talked about the province's "sustained improvement in fiscal performance over the last four years." It was "the achievement of three consecutive" - now four, Mr. Speaker - "consecutive balanced budgets." It talked about "the dramatic reduction in the foreign exchange exposure of Nova Scotia's debt to less than 17 percent, down from over 50 percent in a very short period time."

Another quotation: "Solid economic performance in the past five years." Mr. Speaker, these are the kinds of comments that we're interested in. I think the representative of a government that failed to bring our deficit under control, those really are hollow comments.

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

[Page 6579]

GOV'T. (CAN.): NOVA SCOTIANS - HEED

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: The Premier now knows that the federal government is changing its budget in a way that meets important Nova Scotian concerns, in particular the high cost of post-secondary education and the prices in affordable housing. This province has Canada's highest tuition fees and the shortage of affordable housing in Halifax is among the worst in Canada. The Premier and Parties on both sides of this house have demonstrated that a co-operative approach to minority governments can work in some instances. Now that the federal government is heeding Opposition concerns and meeting more Nova Scotian needs in this year's budget, what new steps is the Premier taking to ensure that Nova Scotians are heeded by the House of Commons?

THE PREMIER: I was a bit heartened by at least a debate going on about change in the way in which the federal government provides funding for post-secondary education. The Leader of the Opposition is very aware that the funding formula currently does disadvantage Nova Scotia. It is something that we brought, certainly over the last five years, to the attention of the federal government many, many times.

Mr. Speaker, for members of the House who are unaware of how the funding is shared, unfortunately it's shared on the basis of where the student originates, not where the student receives post-secondary education. Because our universities are very popular and because our universities attract far more students from outside the province than the number of Nova Scotian students who choose to go outside the province for university funding, we are disadvantaged. If, in fact, the funding formula is changed, it will give the Nova Scotia Government more flexibility in this regard.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Nova Scotians face Canada's highest financial barriers to post-secondary education, barriers which eliminate students on the basis of their ability to pay rather than on their academic ability. This is a major concern in a province where education is so highly valued. The federal New Democratic Party has opened the door for the first significant federal investment in access to post-secondary education since the Pearson minority 40 years ago. In Nova Scotia that would mean that September tuition fees could be 10 per cent lower than planned. So my question is this for the Premier, will the Premier contact each of the 11 Members of Parliament from Nova Scotia to determine in they intend to support that new money for higher education and, of course, the offshore legislation?

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

HON. JAMIE MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I just want to inform the honourable member, the Leader of the Official Opposition, that this government is on record as petitioning the federal

[Page 6580]

government for the last three years at least to make the money for higher education follow the students.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, well that isn't the question, because now the government of this province actually has the ability to help influence the very funding that they say they want. All they have to do is phone the Members of Parliament and get their agreement that they will support the investment in funding in post-secondary education and vote in favour of the offshore revenue retention legislation. The Premier knows that every MP and every seat is important to the Party Leaders in Ottawa. So my question is this, what assurance can the Premier give Nova Scotians that he is doing everything in his power to gain Parliamentary approval here and now, for both the offshore revenue deal and for the money to help meet Nova Scotians priorities that was announced yesterday by Jack Layton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if you will think back and if members of the House will think back to the preamble, not to that question but the previous question, the Leader of the Official Opposition spoke in a very favourable tone about the values of minority government. I can assure the Leader of the Opposition we are quite prepared to carry on for another two years, if he really believes that. Having said that, I will have an opportunity tomorrow to meet with Mr. Jack Layton and I'll be very interested in his views as to just how effective he feels the new arrangement he has with the federal government is. I no doubt will have no trouble extracting support for our position on the funding following the student. I anticipate tomorrow, as well, having him declared to all Nova Scotians that he is solidly behind the Atlantic Accord, something that in the past he has supported very aggressively. I would anticipate tomorrow, he will have an opportunity to repeat that support.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

AGRIC. & FISH. - FISHERMEN: TAX BURDEN - EASE

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The fisheries, as an integral part of the Nova Scotia economy, is a major employer in our coastal areas. In fact the Nova Scotia fishery had export values of $1.09 billion last year, and if managed properly, will help our coastal communities thrive well into the future, but issues do exist in the fishery. Currently, we have what can only be described as a greying industry. Our fishermen our getting older and they're finding the tax laws restricting their ability to get out of the industry. The problem is unfair federal tax laws that require payments often in the hundreds of thousands dollars when fishermen make inter-generational transfers of equipment and licences. This penalty is just to pass on a way of life to the next generation. So my question is, what does this government plan to do to ease the tax burden on fishermen who want to make inter-generational transfers?

HON. CHRIS D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it is quite an honour to stand up in this House and discuss this very issue and I want to thank the member opposite for that question.

[Page 6581]

We have been working with the ATFAM group or the group with the federal government with all members of Fisheries Ministries across Canada looking at inter-generational transfers. There is one item that we have been forwarding on a biannual basis to the federal minister. In making inter-generational transfers to put that cap at about $500,000, so that fathers can pass their vessels and their licences down to their children which I think will make it a much better fishery to have our families involved in those fisheries.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, adding to this problem is the prohibit of costs to be incurred by young entrance into the industry in obtaining boat and gear and the necessary licences. Licences in some areas now are reaching upwards to $0.5 million, even up to $1 million or more. Nova Scotia currently has the Fisheries Loan Board that helps cover the costs associated with purchasing or building a fishing vessel and installing engines, equipment and electronics. However, this leaves newcomers with the daunting task of raising $0.5 million or more to get a licence. So my question is, when will this minister recognize this problem and extend the fisheries' loans to help cover licences so that young fishermen may enter the industry?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member opposite that this has been again on the plate and in discussions with the federal government for quite some time. The unfortunate part is, and I'll try to endeavour to explain this one, that the licences are held by the federal government. The federal government will not allow us to mortgage that piece of paper.

MR. PARKER: Well, Mr. Minister, I should remind you, you do control the Nova Scotia Fisheries Loan Board. Seeing these barriers, the many fishermen, old and new, have no choice, they have to enter into trust agreements and these agreements threaten to remove the economic benefit of these licences from the hands of fishermen and their communities. The question I've often been asked on a number of occasions, and I will ask the minister for his response, where does this minister and this government stand on the issue of trust agreements and does the minister support the federal policies of inshore fleet separation and owner-operator?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I have said before in this House, we agree with fleet separation where small communities should maintain the vessels that they have. The current owner-operator policy which was established in 1972 has not been enforced. It has been ignored since that time. There are changes within the fisheries. We've been urging the federal government to make changes in that policy and when those changes will be presented to us, we will decide what we support or what we will not support.

[Page 6582]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

GAMING: VLTs - ELIMINATION

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table an article from the Yarmouth Vanguard dated April 19, 2005, just last week, outlining the Municipality of Yarmouth's position with respect to VLTs. I would also like to table a letter dated March 6, 2003 outlining the position with respect to VLTs by the Municipality of the County of Cumberland. Both of these municipalities have voted to ban VLTs because of the pain they inflict to the people in their communities. They're joining other communities in Nova Scotia which have made their positions clear. The only solution is banning this machine. My question for the Premier is, when will he recognize he has the power to take the lead in eliminating VLTs instead of being shown the way by our municipal leaders?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government has spent a very considerable amount of time dealing with this perplexing problem. We have come to the conclusion, particularly after seeing the experiences in those jurisdictions that have chosen to go the route that is being encouraged by the member for Halifax Citadel, it isn't working. We have talked with and as a matter of fact, some of our sources would be quite prepared to speak with the member opposite. They have said, and one particular comment that stuck with me in talking with an enforcement officer, as fast as we take them out, they put them back.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, we will continue to have this cherry-picking from law enforcement agencies that have a vested interested in this. The Premier isn't interested in going to jurisdictions like Hawaii, like Utah, that have had positive experiences. He isn't interested in quoting from jurisdictions in South Carolina where the researchers are clearly stating that this has worked. He choses instead to shut his ears, and he's shutting his ears I would suggest to the people of Nova Scotia, it's not just the municipalities that get it, religious leaders get it.

I'm tabling a letter to the editor published on April 22nd of this week in the Advertiser newspaper from the Wolfville Area Intercouncil Churches. It's entitled, "Please Mr. Premier; do away with the VLTs." My question for the Premier is, how many appeals to your sense of right and wrong do you need to hear before you do the right thing and ban VLTs?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is encouraging the government to do something which is proven not to work in other jurisdictions. What the government has decided to do, rather, is to continue to regulate, to continue to find ways in which the machines are less addictive, to make the machines less available to all Nova Scotians. Our strategy will work. It will take a little bit of fine tuning, but it will work.

[Page 6583]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I think it's curious that the Premier chooses to listen to law enforcement agencies from other jurisdictions, but the person who he has hired for gambling addictions in Nova Scotia had this to say in the Public Accounts Committee just last week, John LaRocque, the gambling addictions expert from the Office of Health Promotion said the following, "I find it difficult to believe the Premier is receiving accurate information about a number of issues, but one in particular is the one myth that criminals will crawl out of the sewer and take over the VLT industry."

I note from the myth-busting, from the church council that provided the letter that's tabled before the court, they say, with respect to the Premier's recent argument about an underground industry, the idea that we set our public agenda based on what organized crime does is ridiculous. My question for the Premier is, when will he give up the facade with respect to this underground industry and finally do the right thing for Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that in 1991, there was a flourishing underground industry supported by illegal VLTs. We had it then. If we fail to regulate, that's exactly where we will end up. We will have illegal machines from one end of this province to the other. We will have no control as to who accesses these machines and, unlike when we are regulators, we would have no control of the nature of the machines themselves. We're not going back there.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - SURGICAL CANCELLATIONS: ADDRESS - LACK EXPLAIN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, today we learned that delays in elective surgery at the Capital District Health Authority are going to continue at least until the Fall. This, in part, is caused by a shortage of anaesthesiologists. This issue has been going on in the Capital Health District for some time now, and the waiting lists for elective surgery, as we all know, are getting longer and longer. My question to the Minister of Health, through you, is simply this, why hasn't his department stepped in before now to address these surgical cancellations?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member indeed has raised a question which causes considerable concern to not just Nova Scotians but to all Canadians, and that is that there is a very real shortage of anaesthesiologists in this country and that we, as Nova Scotians, are in a position where it is necessary to be competitive with respect to the recruitment of individuals with these skills. That is the reason why, for instance, we have pursued the alternate funding program, which is proving to be very effective as a recruitment tool with respect to bringing people with these skills to the province, and we will continue to work with the Capital District Health Authority as they endeavour to address this continuing problem. We believe that in the long term we will be well positioned with respect to this matter.

[Page 6584]

[3:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we all know that the AFP has expired over at the Capital District with a number of people, and I'm not sure where the government is going with this. This is the same district health authority that didn't have a business plan approved by this government until six days before the fiscal year ended. Now, I don't know, but that doesn't seem to me to be the way that you can do any health planning and management of district health authority services.

The health human resources plan for this province is lacking so I want to ask the minister simply, when can we expect to see a long-term strategy for hiring health care professionals that are so badly needed?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the issue of human resources in the field of health care is a matter that, as I indicated previously, is not just an issue felt in this province, it's one that is felt nationally. That is why at the First Ministers' Conference last September the First Ministers, along with the Prime Minister, part of the agreement they came forward with was to bring forward a strategy with respect to human resources. That strategy is being developed in this province, but it will be presented in keeping with the terms of the First Ministers' agreement.

But while it is being presented, we continue to work with the district health authorities, we continue to pursue policies such as alternate funding programs in order to ensure that Nova Scotia is competitive. We will continue to work in that direction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, elective surgery, as we all know, isn't by any means surgery that isn't important or unnecessary - it includes orthopaedics, non-emergency cancer care, cataract removal and many other procedures that patients require to maintain a quality of life. They're already waiting months and in some cases, years, for this elective surgery and they're now going to have to wait longer - weeks, perhaps months. My final question to the Minister of Health is, why hasn't an action plan been developed to relieve the pressure at capital health and ensure that patients get the necessary elective surgery in a timely manner?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we, in the Department of Health, and we as government are very concerned that we do not take the delay in surgeries lightly. We are very concerned when people have to wait for their surgeries. But, for the honourable member to suggest that the issue of human resources in health care is something that can be addressed simply by snapping your fingers is to deny the fact that to train anaesthesiologists, for instance, is about an eight year process, to train additional nurses is a four year process. We are working with the Capital District Health Authority, we are looking at different ways of compensation in order to ensure that we are competitive with respect to recruitment and we

[Page 6585]

have added eight additional seats to the medical school. We're looking at ways of getting additional nurses practising in this province and we will continue to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - MRIs: RURAL N.S. - STAFF

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the recent announcements of new MRIs for Yarmouth, Kentville, New Glasgow and Antigonish highlights this government's total lack of a health human resource plan for this province. It's difficult enough for district health authorities to find adequate numbers of staff to operate the diagnostic equipment we now have without any available training for diagnostic imaging staff to be had anywhere in the province, recruitment is a huge challenge. So my question to the Minister of Health is, just where does he expect to find staff to operate four new MRIs throughout rural Nova Scotian communities?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member and members of the House, if we were not renewing and updating our capacity with respect to medical technology in this province, we would be in sorry shape when it comes to the issue of recruiting health care personnel. If you don't have the most up to date equipment available for young graduates to work on, you're not going to attract them to this province, and that's why we're taking the steps we're taking.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, medical laboratory technologists are in short supply in this province. The Liberals cancelled the training program in this province in 1995 and presently this government choses to buy seats in New Brunswick rather than educate these professionals here at home. We have an excellent community college system in Nova Scotia and yet there are no programs to train the lab technicians and other professionals that we need in this province. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, why hasn't his department set up more training opportunities for high demand medical professions here in Nova Scotia?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member made reference to the high quality of our community college program in Nova Scotia. We are currently involved with the Department of Education in the development of a medical laboratory technologist program to be delivered by the Nova Scotia Community College and that will occur very shortly.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, New Brunswick just recently announced that it's offering up to $10,000 as an incentive to any student who stays in that province and files an income tax return, there and this will include medical laboratory technology students using seats purchased by the Government of Nova Scotia. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why is this government paying to educate lab technicians for the Province of New Brunswick instead of educating them here at home?

[Page 6586]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we indeed provide an incentive for our students who travel to New Brunswick and that incentive will remain in place, but for the students to be able to qualify for that, they must practice here. I will again remind the honourable member that that is very much an interim measure until we have in place our own medical laboratory technologist program delivered by the Nova Scotia Community College and that will address the long-term concerns with respect to this profession.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

GAMING - VLTs: NUMBERS - NAT'L. AVERAGE

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, you might recall the last answer from the Premier where he talked about 1991 - a flourishing industry, failed to regulate, no control. Those are ostrich responses from my perspective because the Premier is behaving in that fashion - if he would just read Hansard with respect to that question from last week. Mr. LaRocque says concerning 1991 and so on, "I've spoken with the RCMP who were involved in addressing that issue at that time - those machines were not illegal. Those machines were of uncertain legal status. The RCMP knew exactly where they were. They were-not prohibitions."

Mr. Speaker, the Premier's half-hearted plan for VLTs obviously doesn't cut the number of machines in this province by much. I have, and I will table before this Legislature, a letter from the CEO of the Gaming Corporation which confirms that even after the reductions that we have in Nova Scotia, Nova Scotia still has twice as many VLTs per capita than the national average. My question to the Premier, how can he seriously propose that his plan is a responsible approach when it still leaves this province with twice as many VLTs than the national average?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite knows that in those numbers he's not referring to those provinces with a very significant number of casinos and slot machines which are really another version of VLTs, but I must remind the member opposite that one of the reasons for a regulated industry is that we can actually change the machines, something we can't do if the industry is unregulated.

Mr. Speaker, the first step in changing the machines, number one, we're going to slow them down; number two, we're going to remove the stop buttons. There are many things we can do, when we regulate, that would be unavailable to us if in fact we have an unregulated industry and illegal machines.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, as we ask more questions it becomes more obvious that what Mr. LaRocque suggested about whether the Premier was getting good information is in fact valid. The Premier, if I could refer you to the letter that you just received, it does indeed account for those provinces that might have casinos and those specific locations. I

[Page 6587]

refer you to that letter specifically. Let's just move on to some comments that you made in The Daily News on March 25, 2005, when you said, "Many people in the province are uncomfortable with what we are doing with VLTs. We are going to fix it." Well, Mr. Premier, will you conceive that by leaving almost 3,000 VLTs on reserve and off, you have broken your promise to Nova Scotians to fix it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, unlike the member opposite I don't consider myself a clairvoyant. One of the things that we are engaged in now that we would not be able to be engaged in if we forgo our regulation ability in the province with VLTs. We recently had a scientific experiment in which self-identification was tried as a way in which problem gamblers could exclude themselves from the machines. It didn't work. We'll now go on and look at a responsible gaming approach that involves a card-activated initiative. I think this has great promise, but the member opposite can understand if the industry is underground, if the machines are illegal, if we give up our control, we couldn't do this.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, if what the Premier suggests by not being a clairvoyant is that he has little vision, I would agree with him. I refer to the House and I will table this for your records, another study. just so that it helps the government along the way. This has actually been given to government officials. It's entitled, Gambling Facts and Stats, by John Warren Kindt, he is from the University of Illinois. In it I quote the following, "Each newly created pathological gambler has been calculated to cost society from $13,200 to $52,000 per year." And it goes on to say, "Increasingly taxpayers and businesses are beginning to realize that . . . state-sponsored gambling produces no product, no new wealth, and so it makes no genuine contribution to economic development. Business economic history supports this proposition." Perhaps this is about money. Will the Premier agree that banning VLTs may actually save his government money?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, there's a bridge between myself and the member for Halifax Citadel, and it would appear that he can't cross the bridge to me and I can't cross the bridge to him. We have a fundamental disagreement in what is the best thing to do. The members opposite thinks that prohibition works. Well, prohibition has never proven to work. We will regulate, and we will regulate responsibly. By being a regulator, we can fix the problem.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'll just ask the honourable members to shorten up their questions please. Time is getting a bit long on some these.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENERGY - GREENHOUSE GAS: REDUCTION - TARGET

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I would like to ask the Premier about the Kyoto protocol. That treaty is an international obligation entered

[Page 6588]

into by the federal government on behalf of the nation as a whole. The federal government has agreed to reduce greenhouse gases to six per cent below 1990 levels, but of course under the constitution responsibility for the environment is split between the federal and provincial governments. I wonder if the Premier will tell us whether his government has adopted or does it reject that same target for Nova Scotia as a whole?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I do want to thank the honourable member for the question. It's an important one that we have to address. Really it's one of trying to acquire the balance of the federal plan and what has been brought forward recently by the Government of Canada. We're working very hard on initiatives right now in partnership with industry and the not-for-profit sector. We will be forthcoming with a framework with regard to Nova Scotia's response. I want to assure the member it's at the forefront, but exact compliance is really about Nova Scotia's capability. We have limited resources, we are trying to deal with a federally-mandated initiative, and we'll do what Nova Scotians can afford to do with regard to Kyoto.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious to all members of the House that that wasn't an answer. The national commitment is for 6 per cent below 1990 levels for greenhouse gas reductions. That's a very low number, given just how serious the worldwide problem is. Now just how serious it is was illustrated most recently in the last couple of weeks by the UN's Millennium Ecosystem Assessment Report. How any level of government can not be mobilizing all of its resources to tackle this problem is beyond me. Again back to the Premier, will the Premier commit today to endorsing for Nova Scotians at least the same level of greenhouse gas reduction as the federal government has adopted for Canada as a whole?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Energy.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, again to the honourable member, it isn't about Nova Scotia's willingness to comply and to participate, it's about our ability to do that. We will do what Nova Scotians can afford to do, and we'll bring that framework forward to the honourable member. I can provide him with many examples where we're working across this entire province on trying to meet those targets within our existing capacity. We are going to work within the federal window and the programs they put forward to match up with industry and governments. I think the honourable member will be very pleased in the coming days, about Nova Scotia's response and meeting our targets.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the province cannot afford not to meet those targets. Greenhouse gases are, broadly speaking, associated with three areas of energy use. One is transportation, a second is heating, a third is electricity. If the Premier is not prepared to

[Page 6589]

commit to an overall strategy for the province as a whole, will he at least commit to the -6 per cent target for any one of those sectors?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy - the honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: That was a good choice, Mr. Speaker, and I yield to your advice, to the honourable Minister of Energy.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, again, the honourable member is talking about a protocol that the Government of Canada signed without proper consultation with the provinces, and we have, in good faith, been working them to try to make Nova Scotia compliant, to make sure we're meeting the targets as best we can. For instance, Nova Scotians have responded to initiatives of this government with the Keep the Heat Program, where over 12,000 workers were out cleaning furnaces, the 5,000 energy kits. We're working actively, whether it's with Climate Nova Scotia, with Ecology Action Group, with ACAP Cape Breton. We're working across this province and, again, we have to have the proper time to give the appropriate response. The type of measures that he's asking for require our government be prudent and diligent in our response, and that's exactly what we're going to do.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: SURGERY CANCELLATIONS - REASONS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it was reported today that indeed more surgeries are being cancelled next month at the QE II because of a shortage of anaesthesiologists. (Interruptions) I think the NDP had their turn, maybe it's time they shut their yaps and let us have our turn. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. That's unparliamentary and I would ask the honourable member to stand and retract that, please.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): I retract that statement, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, sir.

The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it was reported today that more surgeries are being cancelled next month at the QE II because of a shortage of anaesthesiologists. So much for the Premier's plan to fix health care for $46 million way back in 1999. This government is spending a billion more on health than they did five years ago, and still surgeries are being cancelled due to a lack of specialists. In February, the QE II were

[Page 6590]

short nine anaesthesiologists - expecting to have one person hired in March and another in May. My question to the Minister of Health is, would the minister please tell Nova Scotians what has happened to cause more surgery cancellations at this province's largest medical facility?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in answer to a previous question, the situation we're dealing with with respect to the shortages of anaesthesiologists is not a problem that is unique to Canada, it's a problem that is being faced by all other jurisdictions. As a matter of fact, I spent time a couple of weekends ago with the Ministers of Health from across Canada, a Liberal Minister in Quebec, a Liberal Minister in Ontario, and a Liberal Minister in British Columbia who were facing exactly the same problems that we're facing with respect to recruitment.

What we're doing in this province, Mr. Speaker, through alternate funding programs is we're experiencing some limited success in terms of recruitment. We're going to continue to work with the Capital District to narrow that margin and we're hopeful that we'll be able to have everything up and running full steam by September.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that the alternate funding plans have ended. The government is spending a billion dollars more on health, the system is still broken, surgeries are cancelled, Nova Scotians are waiting and waiting and waiting and many of them are in pain and they still have to wait for surgery. My question, again to the Minister of Health, what programs or plans does the minister have in place right now that are going to help people who have been bumped from their list to list waiting for surgery?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is referencing the situation with respect to the Department of Medicine, that does not impact the anaesthesiologists. However, there is progress being made with respect to the entire issue and our efforts at recruitment are experiencing some success and as a result of that success we hope to be able to get back to full operation in the very near future.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question would be how long do we have to wait? The people who are scheduled for surgery next month have now been shuffled aside because this government continues to neglect the needs of Nova Scotians. Let me ask my final question to the Premier. It's been six years and three Health Ministers and still you have not gotten it right, Mr. Premier. As a doctor, how can you justify making people wait for necessary surgery while your Health Department continues to lose specialists in this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member brings to the attention to the members of the House a very serious issue and that is the lack of anaesthesiologists right across this country. Despite the fact that there is a very aggressive recruitment program going on, we are

[Page 6591]

shy anaesthesiologists in our province. It is more than an issue about money. It is the lack of a comprehensive plan nation-wide to provide the right number of anaesthesiologists for the Country of Canada and until we address some of these human resource issues on a national basis, we will not be successful as a province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - WATER-BORNE ILLNESSES: TREATMENT - FUNDING

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, Jim MacEachern lives in Harrietsfield in my riding, a place notorious in medical circles for its poor water quality. But Mr. MacEachern is ill and he doesn't have much money for well testing, neither do his neighbours. So they take turns getting their wells tested about once every two years each and in the meantime there are widespread suspicions of serious contaminants in the water table that really will need more expensive testing. My question is for the Minister of Environment, why is this government willing to pay for the treatment of illnesses caused by water borne disease but not for the testing that would prevent the spread of those illnesses?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite would know, we certainly encourage all Nova Scotians to have their water tested on regular basis. We appreciate that there is a cost associated with that but in this particular instance, I can assume - and we can discuss this later - that the tests are taking place on an alternate basis and they found no signs of contaminants so they can determine what the water is like in their area at this point in time.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I suspect that assuming is a pretty dangerous public health risk in itself, in any case.(Laughter) Many residents in Harrietsfield also believe that contaminated soil, fluorescent lights, paint, insulation and even certain unmarked and sealed containers have been finding their way into the lakes of Harrietsfield over the past 20 years. My question to the Minister of Environment is, will you undertake today to investigate this situation, particularly at Weaver's Lake, to have neighbouring well water tested and report back to this House?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, if there are particulars of instances that are taking place that are occurring now that are hazardous to people or the environment, I'd certainly encourage the member to report the particulars of those and we certainly will investigate.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, the well water tests - particularly those which are required to test for heavy metals are very expensive. Some testing would provide immediate relief for these residents and ease a great many people's minds. Will the department undertake at the very least to do the well water testing for them?

[Page 6592]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member opposite if she would provide me with some details. We certainly will look into this situation.

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

EDUC. - FORUM: INFO - ACTIONS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in February of this year, about 600 stakeholders in education were brought together in Truro to share ideas and express concerns about education in our province. It is now the end of April. My question for the Minister of Education is, can the minister explain to Nova Scotians what has been done in his department with the information generated at the forum?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there was reference to that in the Budget Speech yesterday, but I can tell the honourable member that in response, using information that was there, coupled with input from other sources, there will be a plan released, I believe, next month. The honourable member will see the direct result in print of some of the activities that will occur that will improve education in Nova Scotia as a result of that forum which we had tremendous feedback on, I believe probably it was the first of its kind ever held in this province and it was a good thing.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, education in Nova Scotia is clearly critical to our future. The Learning for Life and other documents the Department of Education has in the works have not yet reflected the feedback from Nova Scotians. We were assured the education forum would be included in the budget. I'm wondering if the minister could explain to us why our expectation was that the feedback from the education forum would be presented with the budget as was suggested by the Minister of Finance in his speech to the Halifax Chamber of Commerce lunch?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are a number of things that are contained in the budget which reflect input from that forum. There will be more details forthcoming. I want to tell you that in reference to that, I hope the honourable member did see the release from the Nova Scotia School Boards Association and I believe the operative word about the funding announcement from the budget for public school education was "tremendous".

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad that was mentioned because, in fact, Nova Scotians have come to expect very little in the way of education funding. They've received so little that even crumbs that come their way now are welcomed and cheered onward. In fact, what was given to education was very small. I think that it's important to make that point.

[Page 6593]

Some Nova Scotians are concerned the outcome of the forum was decided before the 600 people travelled to Truro, that perhaps the results were predetermined. If in fact, they have not been collated and put together and yet our budget is based on it, I would question the minister about how their results have actually been reflected in the budget that began months ago.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the feedback from the forum was reviewed and analysed. As the honourable member will remember, there was a discussion paper posted on the Web site and those who weren't able to attend the forum in person, were certainly given an opportunity to make their impact. Another document was prepared and sent back to the partners and we did hear what they said, their feedback was also posted on the Web site and there will be a release, as I said in response to the first question, in May.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

COM. SERV.: PENDLETON PLACE - CLOSURE

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. This past Winter the Minister of Community Services reluctantly admitted that there weren't enough beds for the homeless in local emergency shelters, and then the minister looked under the cushions in his office and he found some resources and Pendleton Place opened with 40 beds in the basement of St. Pat's Church. Almost fully occupied nightly since it opened, time is running out now on Pendleton Place which will close its doors this weekend, on April 30th. So, Mr. Speaker, I want to ask the minister to inform this House what his plans are for the homeless who have been relying on Pendleton Place for somewhere to sleep?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question, and it is a pertinent question. I would like to start by also acknowledging the excellent work of the organizations that help the homeless and others who may be less fortunate in the area, because it was working with them that we reached the conclusion that we needed a Pendleton Place, and I agree that it has been a success.

Mr. Speaker, this has been a good initiative. There has been excellent service provided by the staff of Pendleton Place to the homeless in the community. We've learned a lot from it. We are continuing to work with all the agencies that provide shelter to the homeless. We're learning those lessons and once we have made provision to care for every single person at Pendleton Place, we will be moving forward with those plans.

[Page 6594]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, apparently the minister isn't prepared to share publicly what he has learned, Mr. Speaker. More than 70 per cent of those who have been staying at Pendleton Place are men, and many of these men are people who have chronic addiction, mental health disorders, and they've been barred from most of the other shelters, in fact all of the other shelters, and without a place to sleep, they could have frozen to death on the streets this Winter. Mr. Speaker, I want to say to the minister, now that the mercury is above freezing, is he prepared to walk away from Pendleton Place?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up a very key and common factor in the residents of Pendleton Place and the other shelters. A lot of them do struggle from mental health challenges. There are addiction problems and, in fact, often in the case of the members whom she's speaking of, or the particular residents, there may be incidents of past violence which have created problems in getting into the other shelters. We have been working with the Department of Health and we look forward, hopefully with assistance from the Capital District Health Authority, to be able to provide the extra resources that are necessary to help those hard-to-house residents and we will be moving forward on that plan.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, the Capital District Health Authority doesn't have the resources to provide elective surgery on a regular basis, I don't know how, in Heaven's name, they're going to be able to deal with homelessness.

Mr. Speaker, I don't understand how this minister's mind works. The number of homeless has steadily been rising and the best this minister can do is give us a temporary shelter. So I want to ask the minister, when will he get serious about a proper plan for housing, long- and short-term, for people who are homeless in this province?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the whole Pendleton Place pilot project has been a great catalyst for bringing together Adsum House, the Berry House, the YWCA, the Metro Turning Point and the Salvation Army and, in fact, there's more communication between those organizations now and a recognition that there is a significant number of empty beds every night in this part of the province. They are working together collaboratively now to put together a plan. We're working with them. That plan will be in place and we will be caring for the people who are presently housed in Pendleton Place.

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

COM. SERV. - EARLY LEARNING: QUAD PRINCIPLES - STATUS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I too have a question for the Minister of Community Services. Over the past six months the Minister of Community Services has been engaged in negotiations with the federal government for a federal-provincial-territorial agreement on early learning and child care. My question to the minister is, what is the status of this agreement?

[Page 6595]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for bringing this up, because this agreement is a huge boon to Nova Scotia families and children, particularly low-income ones who are looking for better access to early learning and child care services. I have been working collaboratively with my staff, my federal, provincial and territorial colleagues, and on February 11th in Vancouver, I thought that we had an agreement between all parties, but unfortunately there was a last-minute objection by one of the ministers that prevented us from reaching agreement, an agreement that would provide $20.4 million to families and children in Nova Scotia this year.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the Minister of Community Services is, what are the terms of this particular federal-provincial-territorial agreement, particularly as it relates to cost, the number of children that would be affected, who would benefit, and particularly as it relates to the QUAD principles?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for bringing up this very important topic. The QUAD principles - which are the basic principles upon which the agreement is structured - stand for quality; universality and that all children would be welcomed to the plan regardless of their backgrounds; accessibility and that goes to affordability; and developmental, which speaks to the educational component of it. In working with the sector and from actually before we started these negotiations, we have identified certain targets. What I would like to see as a result of this is that there be no more waiting lists for families that need subsidized child care, that more families would get subsidized child care, and that we would bring some stability to this sector.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister is, what is he doing, what is his government doing to secure this $20.4 million that would benefit families, and in particular children, in light of the political uncertainty in Ottawa?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, that is really the question that I'm surprised I wasn't asked previously by perhaps one of the Opposition Parties, because there is a tremendous benefit there for low-income families. In fact, this government is prepared to work on a bilateral basis with Ottawa. If we're not able to achieve a federal-provincial-territorial agreement, a letter has been sent to the federal minister indicating our willingness to enter into a bilateral agreement with the federal government on a program that addresses the flexibility we need to help families and children in Nova Scotia. I thank the member for his question.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

WCB - NON-VOTING MEMBERS: APPTS. - EXTENSION

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Board. One of the biggest challenges for the Workers' Compensation Board is the unfunded liability, which continues to grow. In order to keep that

[Page 6596]

under control, the board needs a strong board of directors that understands the needs of both business and workers. Could the minister confirm today that Mr. Gary Dean and Mr. Neville have had their appointments extended on the Workers' Compensation Board as non-voting members?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, there are ongoing discussions with stakeholders currently to look at the board of directors on the Workers' Compensation Board. Those discussions have been going very well, and we're looking forward to ensuring that there is a full complement of directors, and that they will be there representing their stakeholders.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, that's not the answer I was looking for. I'm going to table a letter here that was written to me by the minister. It clearly states, "In the interim, the board Chair has the discretion to ask members to continue under section 151(8) and he has done this with Mr. Dean and Mr. Neville, who will continue as non-voting members." That's quite important. It appears that Gary Neville lives in Florida and is far removed from the challenges facing the board and its clients and, again, as a non-voting member of the board. Could the minister confirm today that Mr. Dean - I'm sorry, I meant Mr. Dean - is collecting expenses from the board for meetings and whether that includes travel to and from Florida for board meetings?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, unfortunately, I don't know where the gentleman lives but I suspect that it's quite unlikely that any travel expenses were being paid.

MR. COLWELL: Well, I'm not sure that I agree with the minister's answer because there seems to be a feeling around that that could be the case, he lives in Florida.

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Dean is also a well-known former Tory fundraiser. (Interruption) So much for the anti-patronage stance of this Premier. Could the Premier indicate today whether he thinks that it's okay that a Workers' Compensation Board member lives in Florida, is making decisions on behalf of Nova Scotians, especially when it appears to be a political appointment?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have no information that the board member that is being discussed today lives in Florida. But if the member opposite has information to that, the government would be interested in it. But I have no information that that particular board member lives in Florida.

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

[Page 6597]

EDUC. - TOWN OF DOMINION: SCHOOLS - COMMIT

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, through you, my question is to the Minister of Education. For years now the Town of Dominion has been without their school. It is not like this community did not have a school before, but it needs one now and it certainly deserves one now. This high school was taken by away by subsidence, an issue the federal government chooses to ignore, time and time again. There has been much talk in this Chamber in the last few days about education and how important it is to our children. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, will you commit to putting a school in the Town of Dominion where it so rightly belongs?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of the Macdonald Complex in Dominion was certainly unfortunate when that high school did subside. The fortunate thing is that there is excess capacity in a good many of the schools up in that area of Cape Breton, certainly BEC I think has a capacity of 2,000 students, it has about 1,100. The population of Glace Bay High is going down and it has capacity too. The fortunate thing is that despite the fact that they lost the Macdonald Complex in Dominion, the students from Dominion are still having access to a first-quality education.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I'll agree with one section, both schools that he talked about are fine facilities. But the importance more over is the availability of a school in a community. We all know the importance of what a school means to communities in any part of this province and that's what we're talking about. We're talking about a focal point in the community. So my question is, why won't you do the right thing, Mr. Minister, and build a school in Dominion for the residents of that community?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the elementary students still attend school in the community of Dominion. The fact is that the school board recognizes that there are other areas where school construction, they believe, is needed more. I want to draw to the attention of the member for Cape Breton Centre that, in terms of school construction, I think that since this government has come to office, there are 14 new schools either that have been opened or are on the planning board, including a new junior high in Glace Bay, which is being built so that the capacity of that school will certainly be ample to absorb the students who at one time would have gone to Macdonald Complex in Dominion.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that's exactly what I was trying to tell the minister but he doesn't even get it. It's not about capacity. The argument coming from this side of the floor is that it's not about capacity, it's about compassion. It's about the understanding in a community what the school means to it. Now next year marks the 100th Anniversary of the Town of Dominion. It's a great municipality and it would be a great thing for this government to step forward and say, we recognize that and as part of their celebrations say, we want this to see another hundred years and we're going to support your children. So I'm going to ask the minister, once again, why don't you do the right thing, get together with the school board

[Page 6598]

and build a school in that community so it can help it thrive and new people will come there and build homes and live there?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, one of the first community groups that I met with was the group of parents and school advisory committee in the Town of Dominion. We had a very good discussion in which they made an excellent presentation by the way. I think I told the member for Cape Breton Centre how impressed I was the presentation that was made at that school board meeting by the people representing students of Dominion. The fact is that the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board is able to accommodate those students and provide first quality education in facilities that are very close to Dominion. If the school board chooses to make a school in Dominion and put it number one their capital priority list, then clearly the department and those who study such things would take a look at it.

THE SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

WCB: CHRONIC PAIN CLAIMS - PROCESSING

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, there are over 4,700 Nova Scotians who are waiting to have their claims for chronic pain processed. The board said that they will have a plan ready to deal with these by the end of this month. My question is to the Minister responsible for the Workers' Compensation Act. The month is almost over, Mr. Minister. When can we expect the plan for the Workers' Compensation Board to deal with these 4,700 plus claims?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, certainly there's been a lot of discussion at the Workers' Compensation Board with regard to the chronic pain claims, and a team is being put together to make sure that they are expedited and that those claims are adjudicated.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the number seems to grow and there was a recent hearing that-actually the number is over 6,000 now. The WCB has an obligation to process these claims as quickly and fairly as possible. Some people have suffered for several years because this plan is not a good one - losing their assets and their dignity. What assurance can the minister give that these claims will be processed without delay before further financial stress is placed on the claimants and their families?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker. The Workers' Compensation Board is in the process of hiring an additional 70 staff to take care of chronic pain claims, and I'm confident that this will take care of the issue and that those claims will be moved through the system just as quickly as possible.

[Page 6599]

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, that's not a good enough answer. You have to have people there who are going to be there over a year, maybe two years, maybe three years, maybe four years. There's no particular time this is going to happen and so, in the meantime, people are losing their assets and their dignity. When can the minister fulfill the Supreme Court directive that this must be addressed? The question to the minister is, why won't the minister address this issue so that the workers can get the compensation they are entitled to before they lose everything?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I think hiring 70 people to look at claims is significant and I think those 70 people, along with the team that is already in place to look at chronic pain, will make a significant difference and reduce the amount of time that those people have to wait.

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

NAT. RES. - SPRUCE LONGHORN BEETLE: INFESTATION - STATUS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. In 2001, the federal government issued a ministerial order quarantining over 70,000 hectors in HRM because of the spruce longhorn beetle. My question to the minister is, what is the status of this particular infestation?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I must say that this government saw a need to help the people on the Eastern Shore and the good member for Eastern Shore brought it to my attention. I must say that in December, I went to Eastern Shore and we had a community meeting with the citizens of the area and we committed up to $1 million to help the people in that community. I can also tell you, we have tried and tried working with CFIA, with no avail. I have gone to Ottawa with the good member for Eastern Shore and asked the federal minister to help us in the need to address the concerns of the citizens of the Eastern Shore. I have written numerous letters to the federal minister and to this day, I have not had a reply from any letter or our trip to Ottawa.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I didn't mean to get the minister's blood pressure a little up. Within this area, there are 2,900 hectares that have been identified as completely infested because of this particular bug. To date, less than 500 hectares have been cleaned.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACKINNON: Of the 2,900 hectares that have been identified as infested, less than 500 hectares have been cleaned to date. At this rate, it will take about 20 years to clean, so I guess my question to the minister is, how much is this going to cost and what is the time line?

[Page 6600]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member and all members in the House that the process we've put in place in December has been very successful to date. We've cleaned up approximately 10 lots. We have two contractors that are willing to go back into the quarantined zone as soon as the roads are opened and we are working with CFIA to ask them to lift the ban so we can process the wood because of the potential fire hazard that's in the area.

I would like to also mention that the member for Preston was at the meeting that evening and he criticized that our government was not doing enough for the citizens. But, I have yet to see those members stand up and ask the federal minister to write a reply to this government. What we've asked for is a commitment from that government for $3 million to help out the citizens in the area that needs help.

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

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. Yesterday and today the Premier made reference that the federal bill dealing with the Atlantic Accord, Bill No. C-43, was taken off the order paper in Ottawa. Mr. Speaker, in fact, this bill was debated last Friday, April 22nd and I can table reference to that. Debate continued until a motion of non-confidence from committee which was introduced by the Conservatives, pushed Bill No. C-43 off the order paper so that debate on that non-confidence motion could take place for the rest of today. Today, the Premier said that he reviewed the order paper for the House of Commons and noted that Bill No. C-43 was not on the order paper for next week in which he concluded could not come to a vote.

Mr. Speaker, I would hate to accuse the Premier of misleading this . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. That's not a point of order, it's a disagreement of the facts between members. It's not a point of order.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable House Leader for the Opposition Party on Opposition Members' Business.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 3373.

[Page 6601]

Res. No. 3373 - Insurance - Non-Profit Sector: Affordability - Ensure - notice given Apr. 25, 2005 - (Mr. G. Steele)

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, the resolution reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to ensure that Nova Scotia's non-profit sector can obtain affordable liability insurance."

Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to rise here today to speak about a sector of activity in this province that is near and dear to my heart - the voluntary sector. This sector is called many things - non-profit, not for profit, non-governmental organization or NGO, civil society, third sector and community-based sector.

In the past number of years, the term voluntary sector is being used because all these organizations have one thing in common - their boards of directors are volunteers. However, it's not what these organizations are called, but the threat to what they do that is the issue to be discussed today and that issue is liability insurance. This includes organizational liability, when working with at risk and vulnerable populations; directors' and officers' liability for the executive leadership of the organizations; and staff and volunteer liability for the programs and services that they provide.

The difficulty in getting liability insurance and the cost to those organizations that are able to even obtain it is threatening their very survival and therefore our quality of life here in Nova Scotia. This is an important issue because these organizations provide essential programs and services to our citizens. They also support one out of every three Nova Scotians as volunteers, giving over 47.2 million hours or the equivalent of 25,000 jobs and nearly $2 billion annually.

How this insurance issue is impacting on the voluntary sector in Nova Scotia and Canada is well documented in stories highlighted in the 2003 publication that was issued in Nova Scotia by the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia, Recreation Nova Scotia, Sport Nova Scotia, the Restaurant Association of Nova Scotia, and the Canada Volunteerism Initiative Nova Scotia Network entitled Insurance, It's Everybody's Business. Also, a number of examples were presented last Fall to the Nova Scotia Insurance Review Board, actually 35 of the 84 verbal presentations to the board were from the non-profit representatives, and they represented over 1,000 organizations here in Nova Scotia. Also last year, the National Voluntary Forum did a cross-country regional session on the issue of liability in a number of different provinces.

So to summarize the issue in Nova Scotia, insurance premiums for the non-profit sector are increasing between 35 and 300 per cent, or more. In fact one group reported a 730

[Page 6602]

per cent increase in their liability insurance premium. It is very difficult for non-profits to budget for unpredictable and often large increases, and volunteers, quite frankly, are reluctant to spend their time to fund raise for an organization just to pay the insurance bill.

Another issue is that the insurance industry itself has increased the number of activities that it considers either high risk or too complex. Care of children, including child care, boys and girls clubs, teen health clinics, Summer camps and field trips have all been considered high risk. Legions, community events and fundraisers such as parades, fairs, and festivals are now entering into that category, as are active sports and recreational activities. Some organizations are limiting their programs or even closing them down as a result of not being able to get liability insurance, or having to pay too much. Community health boards are reporting to us that their exercise programs are at risk or have been cancelled. So this is a threat to our social and health programs, to culture and tourism, and other public policy priorities. We should be seeing the government take more proactive steps to help out the voluntary sector.

Another insurance issue that's impacting on the sector is that insurers are starting to screen board members. They're actually reviewing or asking to review board members' resumes before determining an organization's final cost for directors' liability. One can only assume that the more capable the insurance company decides the board to be, the lower the premium for directors' liability. Also many volunteers on boards of directors are feeling overwhelmed by the work and responsibilities of managing risk in their organizations.

Another area of concern is that it has been reported to me that a homeowner who was renewing their personal home insurance policy was asked whether or not they were a member of any non-profit boards in Nova Scotia. One can only assume, again, that board participation would influence the rate of house insurance and possibly the insurer was looking at the home as an asset, should that person be liable as a volunteer. So no wonder potential board members are being very cautious about this level of volunteering, and this is fearmongering of the worst kind. Getting people to serve on boards of directors is actually becoming quite a crisis in Nova Scotia. People are becoming more and more reluctant, yet, surprisingly, most voluntary sector organizations are claims-free and the insurance industry has no information to dispute this.

[4:45 p.m.]

So the impacts of the current insurance crisis are serious. We've actually had some experience with just the higher premium side and in the 1980s, voluntary leaders knew what to expect based on that experience. At that time, and we predict it's continuing to happen, volunteers are unwilling to fund raise to cover insurance costs. In fact, a lot of volunteers are dropping off because that's the only responsibility they're given because of the pressure on non-profit organizations to fund raise. We predict there are going to be staff cuts. There will be a loss of programs and services and we've already seen the cancellation of festivals and

[Page 6603]

community events. Often these community events are used as fundraisers for a number of different organizations within that community. So there's a ripple impact.

Unfortunately, we're probably looking at the closure of some facilities and organizations. When you add these insurance pressures to the lack of stable core funding for the voluntary sector, governments and communities can no longer assume that the services and programs long provided by volunteers will continue to exist. So the provincial government has to treat these threats as seriously as it would any other sector of the economy. Estimates have ranged from 7 per cent to 10 per cent in terms of the value of the voluntary sector to the economy of this province and we're past the stage of band-aid solutions.

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise today to speak about the tremendous value of non-profit groups and what they provide to our province and our people. From hiking trails to festivals, to indeed the health service delivery in this province, non-profit groups and their volunteers are essential to the health and well-being of Nova Scotians. The resolution correctly says that these groups help our children in being active and provide community programs and activities. No one appreciates the value of volunteers and the work they do more than the Government of Nova Scotia. By giving freely of their time and talents many Nova Scotians enrich their communities. This resolution deals with the issue of volunteers and insurance.

Mr. Speaker, we deal with insurance both at the Department of Environment and Labour with the Insurance Act and at Transportation and Public Works where risk management is part of their mandate. In 2002, recognizing the possibility of assaults through the courts putting non-profit organizations in a difficult position, this government passed the Volunteer Protection Act. It is designed to protect volunteers as long as those volunteers and officials are properly trained and screened. As relatively new legislation, the Volunteer Protection Act has not yet been tested by the courts. So even with the Act in place, non-profit organizations should confirm with their broker that their volunteers are protected under our general liability coverage for acts they perform on behalf of their organizations.

The concept of personal responsibility continues to deteriorate in today's society. Awards for successful liability claims are rising in Nova Scotia. Also frightening is the fact that the range of persons named in such lawsuits is expanding. Even though non-profit organizations may not seem a likely target for a huge cash award, the personal assets of their directors and their board members may actually be at risk. That means non-profit organizations must protect their organizations and their volunteers from claims. It's important that their liability coverage should provide for both legal costs and settlement. The

[Page 6604]

Department of Environment and Labour has produced an outstanding brochure called Insurance and Your Non-Profit Organization that provides excellent advice to those organizations.

Over the past few years, some non-profit groups were facing rising insurance premiums due primarily to rising liability costs throughout the country. It became a major problem for Nova Scotia trail groups when the cost of liability insurance became unaffordable. Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotia Trails Federation came to us for help, and we could not let the 139 trail groups and snowmobile groups close down because of skyrocketing insurance bills. With our experience in dealing with the insurance industry, we agreed to help the trails group look for a solution to their immediate problem.

Mr. Speaker, I'm very happy to tell this House and all Nova Scotians that the issue for trails groups has been resolved. The Nova Scotia Government helped facilitate a liability insurance program for trails groups, so they can afford to maintain their insurance coverage and keep their trails open for the benefit of all users. The Nova Scotia Trails Federation has been in the process of informing their members of this agreement, and have just today issued a news release to that fact. I'm quite pleased to table this release, from the Nova Scotia Trails Federation, heralding the good news of which I have spoken.

If I may, Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to explain a bit more about this agreement on behalf of the Trails Federation. Non-profit groups, which develop and maintain the province's network of hiking trails, have seen their insurance rates soar over the past few years. This year they faced the largest increase of all, a rate jump which would have forced many groups to close their trails at the end of April. Under the new arrangement, no group will pay higher rates than it paid last year.

When the trails group came to us, we had the Departments of Natural Resources, Health Promotion, and Transportation and Public Works come together to address the issue. We worked with insurance providers on behalf of the trails groups to secure a program that is accessible, affordable and sustainable. The 139 not-for-profit groups that provide trail opportunities in Nova Scotia will have access to the coverage through the Nova Scotia Trails Federation.

We're providing a service to the trails groups because they need some support in finding the right insurance program. Because claims for trails groups have been minimal, there's no justification for high insurance rates. High claims in other provinces have driven up the rates in Nova Scotia. Under the new program, only claims in Nova Scotia will be considered when setting the rates. A claims history specific to Nova Scotia will be created, eliminating the need for price hikes. We expect the trails groups will be able to stand on their own within five years.

[Page 6605]

Mr. Speaker, now that the immediate problem for trails groups has been resolved, we can turn our attention back to the issue of insurance costs that some not-for-profit groups are facing. Again, our government committed itself to working with non-profits to address the high cost of liability insurance. In the meantime, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, recognizing that Atlantic Canada seems to be bearing the brunt of high premiums but not recording high claims, agreed to specifically examine the issue. In February of this year the Insurance Bureau of Canada created a task force focused on insurance issues affecting commercial and not-for-profit sectors in Atlantic Canada - and I'll be happy to table this press release that addresses this particular issue.

As I understand it, the group has met twice - in fact as recently as yesterday. The first meeting was in early March. The mandate of the Atlantic Task Force on Insurance Availability and Affordability is to develop recommendations and communications intended to increase insurance availability, affordability and understanding for commercial and not-for-profit sectors in Atlantic Canada. This is a very important initiative because it recognizes the specifics of our area of the country. The task force is comprised of representatives of affected stakeholder groups from the commercial and not-for-profit sectors across Atlantic Canada, the government and the insurance industry. I understand the task force final report will be ready sometime this Summer. Our government has already agreed to assist volunteer and not-for-profit groups in facilitating a similar agreement to the Trails Federation.

It's important to note that when it comes to insurance liability, not all not-for-profit groups are the same. We would establish criteria to assist not-for-profit groups address their long-term insurance needs. They must, of course, be a not-for-profit organization, must be funded in part by the Nova Scotia Government, must provide a service for Nova Scotians as defined by the Act, program or service. We will be developing an inventory of not-for-profit groups that deliver government programs and explore alternative risk options. We'll be looking at the cost of coverage versus budgets. We'll be looking at a program that would cover an umbrella not-for-profit sector rather than individual or separate groups.

This is the commitment we are making to a vital and necessary sector of our province. We will await the Insurance Bureau's task force report and we will take it from there.

Mr. Speaker, I've been extremely pleased to be able to participate in this debate and report some very real progress with respect to the issue of insurance for not-for-profit groups in Nova Scotia and Atlantic Canada. I will take my seat having said that.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise to speak on Resolution No. 3373 which was introduced by the member for Halifax Fairview and I commend him for introducing it. I want to commend the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley for her comments on this. I must say I'm a bit surprised to see that the government would have the

[Page 6606]

Minister of Health respond on this. I would think the gentleman who has a department that consumes half the provincial budget might have a few more things to do and maybe a few of his colleagues sitting in the back rows might have a bit more time on their hands to be doing this task, rather than the Minister of Health. Then again, I guess we now see why there is not enough specialists and wait times continue to be a problem in this province when he consumes his time on these matters rather than share it with some of his colleagues, but I digress.

MR. SPEAKER: I would remind the honourable member that you're speaking on Resolution No. 3373.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Yes, thank you, Mr. Speaker. Let me say right from the start that the "Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to ensure that Nova Scotia's non-profit sector can obtain affordable liability insurance."

Let me say from the start that our caucus certainly is in support of this motion. Based on the comments from the Minister of Health on behalf of the government, I would certainly assume this motion is going to be successful and is going to be adopted by the House, based on his remarks and what they intend to do. I'm looking very forward to this coming to a vote and it being unanimously passed because I've made it clear - certainly the NDP support it, they introduced it, we support it, it seems that based on the comments of the Minister of Health the government supports it, so I think today is a wonderful opportunity to have this resolution passed.

About the only thing that would stop the resolution from passing, Mr. Speaker, is that the last speaker in this case is going to be a member of the NDP, so, hopefully, they will leave a few minutes so we can have the vote on the resolution. The only way this could be prevented is if a government member were to jump up and take up the rest of the debate which would deny a vote on this important resolution. I certainly would hope that would not be the case, based on the fact that every single member in this House has non-profit volunteer groups in our ridings. Certainly members, if they're effective at all, would be aware of the challenges that have been faced by those non-profit groups, it's throughout the province. I think we've all heard stories from our groups of the challenges they face - more and more it's evident that people are shying away from getting involved in volunteer organizations. A great part of that is because of the burden that's put on them, the challenges that they are faced with, and one of the big ones that has become a reality is insurance liability.

[5:00 p.m.]

Now, this government did attempt to try to address some of those concerns when a couple of sessions ago they passed the Volunteer Protection Act. The idea of that Act was if you were a volunteer for an organization, unless you committed some sort of criminal offence, that if you were just carrying out your responsibilities, you couldn't be held liable. What immediately happened after that Act is that volunteers in Richmond County started

[Page 6607]

calling and saying does that mean we no longer need liability insurance because the government passed the Volunteer Protection Act. So, well, now, let's find out before you cancel your insurance, let's call the Department of Justice.

Lo and behold, the response from the Department of Justice was, no, no, no, tell them not to cancel their liability insurance and they should continue to have liability insurance which begs the question, why did we have a Volunteer Protection Act to protect volunteers if the Department of Justice and this government is still telling them that they need liability insurance. So that's one of the issues that I wanted to address today. The second one becomes the issue of affordability. We all realize that insurance has gone up. Car insurance has gone up. Home insurance has gone up. Liability insurance has gone up for the business sector, the private sector, and for the volunteer sector.

Mr. Speaker, our province is blessed with volunteers. We just had the volunteer recognition banquet a couple of weeks ago. Hundreds of volunteers were recognized throughout our province. Each municipal district was able to nominate a provincial volunteer and so we realize that we're blessed with hardworking Nova Scotians who give freely of their time to these non-profit organizations that make our communities stronger and the question becomes what can we do as a government and as elected officials to try to make their job easier, trying to make sure at the end of the day that someone who's volunteering out of the goodness of their own heart for their community, for their family, for our province, is not going to be faced with liability. That they are properly covered and that it's not costing the organization an astronomical amount of money.

What's unfortunate, Mr. Speaker, is that this government has spent a lot of time talking about auto insurance, but the fact is that there are other pressing matters dealing with the insurance industry. I think it was mentioned before by the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley the issue of home insurance. I've spoken about this issue before. More and more residents in my own riding are having to give up their home insurance.

I gave the example before and I'll give it again, she's now 91 years old, had insurance all her life. An inspector came to her house, it's a relatively smaller home and she has one of these old-style stoves in the kitchen. It's one of those stoves where you can burn wood on one side, you've got a bit of an oven, and you actually have a cooking surface, you know, quite large. When I went to see her, she told me they said I have to show them the Canada safety inspection number on the stove or it has got to go. She looked with a smile and she said I don't think Canada safety inspection existed when they made this stove and I think she was right. So they told her to keep your insurance you have to get the stove out of the house. She looked at me and she said, well, look at the stove, look at my door, and explain to me how I'm going to get that out of this house.

Mr. Speaker, I had mentioned before, it's a small house. Looking back, I believe they put the foundation, brought the stove in, and then they put the walls up and the roof because

[Page 6608]

that's the only way they got that stove in that house and to take it out she would have to cut out half the side of the house to get the stove out. So what was the result? After having insurance all her life, she now goes to bed without any sort of insurance on her home. That's a serious issue and this government has turned a deaf ear to those concerns and it doesn't want to talk about insurance.

It talks about some of the success that was achieved in the auto insurance industry and yet it doesn't want to address home insurance, liability insurance. We've heard from the private sector. More and more they are faced with challenges dealing with increased insurance. In some cases it's doubled, tripled, quadrupled, just not sustainable, and that's a challenge for the private industry, but the same as the private industry, they are there to make profits and they do try to bring in money to address some of those added financial burdens they have. As for non-profit groups, how can we sit back and allow non-profit groups to have to take the money that they raised, which for the most part is reinvested in the community, whether they be through bursaries, supporting churches, supporting local groups, supporting our youth, how can we sit back and see that a big chunk of what should be reinvested in the community is going to pay for liability insurance which continues to go up?

I've seen it in my own community, again, with a lot of our economic development groups. These are volunteers who are trying to raise money to re-invest back in the community. They try to hold functions, outdoor concerts, everything else and it has come to the point where they're saying, we're not making any money. We are going through a great deal of organization, of time, of effort, and at the end of the day half our profits, or a good chunk of our profits just goes to pay the insurance, and they're saying it's not worth it. And who's the big losers in that, Mr. Speaker? Well it is us. It's our province. It's our communities. We are the losers.

I am pleased to see that the Insurance Bureau has said that they wanted to put forward a task force. Well it's too bad that this government didn't put forward a task force. It's too bad that this government didn't sit down and ask that the URB or that another body look specifically at the issue of liability insurance for non-profit groups. What better time to do it? After we've had provincial Volunteer Week. We've recognized the importance of our volunteers. A couple of years ago it was the Year of the Volunteer. There's no better time. The silence of this government is deafening. It's hurting our communities. It is hurting non-profit groups and it sends the wrong signals. We have a proud history of volunteers in this province. We wish to encourage that, it will make our province stronger, make our communities stronger.

I congratulate the member for bringing forward the motion and, again, based on the comments from the Minister of Health, I look forward to seeing this resolution coming to a vote, and being passed unanimously by the House. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 6609]

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today on the resolution, the operative part of which reads as follows, "Therefore be it resolved that this government take immediate action to ensure that Nova Scotia's non-profit sector can obtain affordable liability insurance." My colleague for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley has laid out the problem, and I'm going to talk a little bit about the solutions, or what may be some solutions.

Now, the government has been slow to pick up the ball on this question of liability insurance, or has it? Because what the government has done is left everybody under a shroud of secrecy, wrapped in a mystery. We're not sure what they're doing, and the government is not in any rush to tell us. On February 4th of this year, the Premier said his government plans to make it easier for volunteer groups to get liability insurance and the Premier said that there would be an internal task force which would report within a few months on what the government was going to do on the issue liability insurance for non-profits, but since then there's been silence. What task force? Who's on it? What are they doing? When are they going to report? No information, Mr. Speaker, on that, at all.

Instead, when you have a vacuum, the IBC, the Insurance Bureau of Canada rushes in to fill it. And they did it. But what that has done is it has meant that the industry has seized control of the agenda. This is a task force on important public policy issue, dealing with organizations that are very important to the public, to the people of Nova Scotia, and who's leading that task force? Is it their government? No, it's the industry. This is the same industry that gutted our auto insurance policy, at the same time crying poor, but it turns out that in the end they're making record profits. We don't trust these people, and we don't believe that the people of Nova Scotia do either, and yet this government has allowed that industry to take control of the agenda on liability insurance for non-profit organizations.

Sure there's a couple of members on it who are associated one way or another with the government. For example, the Superintendent of Insurance of Nova Scotia is one of about 20 members. Nova Scotia's Consumer Advocate, Mr. George Jordan is on it too, but he says he's only there to observe. He does not see it as his role to participate. Only to observe.

Mr. Speaker, on this task there are many fine people. I know quite a number of them personally. Very fine people. Very fine people doing good work, but let's make no mistake about it. This task force is going to be controlled by the Insurance Bureau of Canada. They will be in control of the information that that task force receives. They know how to control the agenda that that committee addresses, they will control the information, they will control the communications, they will control the rhythm of meetings, the length of meetings, who participates in meetings and on what terms. So I'm very afraid about what we're going to see coming out of that task force, because let's make no mistake about that being 20 equals sitting around a table with equal access to information, that's not true at all.

[Page 6610]

The IBC has very definite views about what their problems are, Mr. Speaker, and it shouldn't be surprising to any of us that they put all the responsibility for unaffordable liability insurance on others, not on themselves, nothing's ever their fault, there's nothing that they could do. And to name only one example, only one, they say that one of the reasons that Royal Canadian Legions have to pay higher insurance rates is because of liquor liability laws and liquor liability court cases. I don't know how I could say more emphatically it's not true. When you press them to point to the cases, they can't. When we say what has happened in the last 10 years to cause this increase in liquor liability, they can't because it's not there, it's not true. But I will bet my bottom dollar that when that IBC Task Force report comes out, it will recommend changes in the liquor liability laws, because that's the IBC's position, whether it's true or not, and there's nobody else on that task force who has access to the information that would allow them to disagree.

Now let's talk about today's Trails Federation announcement. The minister, not the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act but the Minister of Health, stands up and says, isn't this a wonderful thing that we've done for the Trails Federation. Mr. Speaker, it is. I'm very glad that the Trails Federation can now build their trails, manage their trails, knowing that they have insurance, but there's a couple of things that the government's not telling us. The government is not telling us that the first $1 million is covered by the Province of Nova Scotia. The information that we have - it may be true, it may not be true, I rather believe it's true - is that in a draft of that news release there is reference to the government's role which the government insisted be taken out, because the government wants to pretend that something else is going on here, but the reason that the Trails Federation can afford their liability insurance is because that government, all of us in fact, are paying for it.

Mr. Speaker, it would be very interesting to know who else is out there who could get the benefit of this insurance. If the Trails Federation can get it, well, who else can? What about the Federation of Community Health Boards, which is having tremendous difficulty finding liability insurance for things like walking classes, yoga classes, healthy living, all these things the government says it's trying to promote? Are they eligible? Do they get the advantage of this government insurance that has now been accorded to the Trails Federation? We don't know because the government's not saying.

In his brief remarks today, the minister alluded to the fact that there may be a program available. I'm very glad that our calling this resolution today has gotten the government actually to say yes, there's something available, but we all need to know more. All of the non-profits need to know, if it's available, on what terms? Who do they call? Maybe this debate will have accomplished its objective if we just get out of the minister the phone number of the person who all of these organizations should call. Apparently there's a program available to them. Today is the first day we've ever heard about it. We need to know who to call. (Interruptions) The suggestion from my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, is if we don't get that number, we'll just give them the Minister of Health's number, because apparently he knows all about this program but none of the rest of us do.

[Page 6611]

Mr. Speaker, here are our suggestions, because we want to help the government do the right thing, that's all we want to do over here in the Opposition, we want to help the government do the right thing, so I have a few very helpful suggestions for what they could do. First of all, for heaven's sake, make the process open and public; stop the secrecy, let us know what's going on, let us know what program is available, let us know who to call, let us know what the criteria are for this program that the Minister of Health apparently has announced today. Bring it out of the backrooms and into the open so that everybody can take advantage of it.

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, second, take the agenda back from the Insurance Bureau of Canada. That is an industry lobby group, it is their job to do what is right for the industry, it is their job to promote the interests of the industry. It is the job of this government to represent the people of Nova Scotia and it's nobody else's job. They have got to take the agenda back from the industry's lobbying arm.

Third, Mr. Speaker, amend the Volunteer Protection Act. The Volunteer Protection Act is not working. It has not achieved its objective. If these non-profit organizations cannot get affordable insurance, then what we need is to amend the Volunteer Protection Act. I had occasion to recently advise a non-profit organization in my capacity as a lawyer about the impact that the Volunteer Protection Act would have on them and I'm sorry to say that it had to be my advice that if they relied solely on the Volunteer Protection Act, they were leaving themselves open and that they needed to have insurance as well. The Volunteer Protection Act is not working, it needs to be amended so that it does work.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, what the government needs to do is actually follow through on the report of the Insurance Review Board. The member for Richmond says the government should look into this, well, the government already has. The Insurance Review Board says that the fundamental thing that is lacking is solid information and before we do anything to give the industry what it wants, we need to insist that the industry produces proper information to make proper decisions so that our non-profit organizations can do their work.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotment has expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

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

[Page 6612]

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. 157.

Bill No. 157 - Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the bill that we're discussing this afternoon is a proposed amendment to the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act. Members will know that when Nova Scotia Power was in public hands, that is was a public Crown Corporation prior to 1992, the government took a decision, this was of course the Tory Government under the Premiership of Donnie Cameron at the time. The government took a decision to privatize that company and brought in an Act called the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act.

At the time I appeared before the Law Amendments Committee and was responsible I think for one particular section being included in the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act, that's the section that prohibits Nova Scotia Power from operating a nuclear power plant. I'm hoping today to be able to take some personal responsibility through this bill for a second section of the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act, that is a section as proposed in Bill No. 157 that would offer compensation to customers of Nova Scotia Power for losses of a particular kind due to extended power outages. The losses that are contemplated to be compensated for under Bill No. 157 are losses of food, spoiled food that is to say, as a result of failing to be with electricity for some extended period of time.

There are several reasons why this ought to occur. Of course, all members will know that the immediate prompting for such a bill has to do with such events as the loss throughout the province last November of electricity due to the storm at the time. Of course, that storm is not the only occasion in recent years in which Nova Scotians have experienced some extended outages with respect to electricity.

It's clear that Nova Scotians have built their lives, as have many people throughout North America, throughout western Europe, throughout much of the northern hemisphere in the world, on the regular reliable availability of electricity. We use it for lighting, we use it for computers and other tools of our daily work. We use it, of course, for refrigeration which is an important advance in terms of our fishing industry. It's an important advance in terms of how our daily lives are carried on. We use electricity in our hospitals, we use it in our schools; indeed, in some homes, electricity is the source of heat. It's not the burning of oil, it's not the burning of natural gas, it's electricity. There was a time, a decade ago - in fact a little more recently than that - in which Nova Scotia Power encouraged people to make electricity the fuel of choice when it came to heating their homes.

[Page 6613]

So we've built our lives around reliable access to electricity, and yet what I think has shocked, and of course irritated, many Nova Scotians in the last couple of years has been the number of occasions on which this reliable source of power has in fact not been there. Now, given how widespread the outages where in this past November's storm, the government asked the Nova Scotia Utility and Review Board to convene a special set of hearings to look into the reliability of the system, in fact to examine specifically what happened during that storm, but with a view to considering the overall reliability of the system.

Now, I've been a participant at these hearings that have been going on all last week and for part of this week. They're ongoing, and we'll hear from the board in due course. The Utility and Review Board is giving very thorough scrutiny to the issues. But do you know what's very interesting about what Nova Scotia Power has had to say at these hearings, because they have come and they have said there's nothing wrong with our physical system. We have a great system, it is completely reliable. We did nothing wrong in the design of our system; we did nothing wrong in the maintenance of our system; and we did nothing wrong in terms of how many people we have working for us on our repair crews that are available to us. If we did anything wrong, they're prepared to say, it was only in communications. Our telephone system, they said, might need some improvement, but they did point out that the storm was an extraordinary event and that, really, no reasonable utility should have to plan for that extensive an outage in terms of their communications with their customers.

I think many of their customers would disagree with that, and think that a better, more reliable communications system could be put in place. But do you know what? Even more than that, I think the customers are less concerned about the communications and more concerned with the reliability of the system. If the electricity is out, they know it's out. If the electricity is out, Nova Scotia Power probably knows it's out, too, and although it's comforting for customers in some way to get through on the phone to Nova Scotia Power and make sure that they know that it's out, when there's a big storm like the storm we experienced last November, communications back and forth between customers and Nova Scotia Power are a secondary matter - it's a question of comfort after the fact.

What people want is the reliability of the system, and on that part Nova Scotia Power said their system is completely reliable. There are no problems with the reliability of their system. It's built to the CSA standards, it's built to the kind of standards that prevail in most other utilities. Everything is hunky-dory and they don't want to spend any money on it. Well, back at Bill No. 157, if their system is so darn reliable they should be very happy to be prepared to pay up when people lose food as a result of spoilage when the power goes out. What's the problem? Why should they oppose this? I do understand from some comments of theirs that they're not thrilled with this bill, but if their system is so completely reliable and built to the prevailing standards, what's the problem?

[Page 6614]

Right now there is a barrier to the kind of remedy that can be sought by people who feel that they have been cut off by Nova Scotia Power, or inappropriately lose or suffer damage as a result of not having the electricity that they normally rely upon. The remedy is that they can sue Nova Scotia Power, just like any other contract; if there's a breach of some kind in the contract, they can sue, except - there's an except, and here's the big except - in the legislation it says that you can't sue Nova Scotia Power except if you can show that they've been negligent.

Now, to a certain extent, this might be a reasonable kind of standard to have in place and yet, that's the wrong place for it. This isn't a question of a normal kind of interaction between one independently contracting party and another. This is a question of a monopoly utility that we all have to use, and their standards should be publicly established and publicly enforced. And if they take the position that everything they're doing is fine, their customers should be enabled to claim without having to go law and sue.

Lawsuits are expensive. They're time consuming. They require all kinds of expert evidence and usually the amount of money for a little food spoilage, is pretty tiny. It doesn't make sense to contemplate lawsuits here. So this is what Bill No. 157 says. Never mind lawsuits, let's just set up a little automatic mechanism for compensation, if as a result of a power outage of more than 24 hours, regardless of fault, you lose your food, and we've asked the Utility and Review Board to set up the mechanism and to say what the amounts ought to be.

Very straightforward, and I'll tell you something. I've gone back and I have looked at the last number of years in which there have been extended outages for Nova Scotia Power and I have to tell you, there have been very few occasions on which there have been extended outages. But there have been a couple. Like the storm. Like Hurricane Juan and so on, and when people lose in those circumstances, the company should simply pay up. And I'll tell you something else. This is not unprecedented. There are other places, in the United States, New York, New Jersey, Utah, the United Kingdom and Sweden, all have similar compensation systems. This is not a precedent.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Time has expired.

The honourable Minister of Energy. Would you allow for an introduction?

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, to the member for Cape Breton North who graciously gave me the floor.

[Page 6615]

In the Speaker's Gallery today we have two members of the Deputy Sheriff's Department. They have been taking in the proceedings all week. We have Tammy Robinson and Greg MacRae. They're down here looking at the reclassification, so a warm welcome from the House please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Indeed, welcome to the members from the Sheriff's Department.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I too want to extend greetings to the members from the Sheriff's Department and hope they enjoy the proceedings today.

Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to rise to speak on second reading of Bill No. 157, An Act to Amend the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act. After careful consideration, the proposed bill does not represent the best interest of the utility's consumers for a number of reasons. First, this added measure will require that Nova Scotia Power pay its customers for perished food when there is a power failure. This payment will come at a cost. To recoup these costs, Nova Scotia Power will need to go to a rate-case hearing to increase power rates. This will likely be the only way they can put out these additional and potentially high expenses.

Mr. Speaker, this ultimately means that the consumer will pay higher power rates, potentially. Second, there is no way to accurately determine the dollar figure of spoiled food and there are no provisions to gauge how much food might be lost from interrupted power service and this could be in the millions.

Eventually, Mr. Speaker, this cost will be passed along to the consumer through increased energy rates. This is not in the best interests of the consumers nor is it in the best interests of low-income Nova Scotians faced with energy costs that represent a larger proportion of their income.

Mr. Speaker, in the last two major outages in Nova Scotia consumers were protected because food stored in a freezer in an insurable item. Today this is still the case. The government made sure that social assistance recipients and low-income earners who weren't insured were also protected.

In the aftermath of Hurricane Juan, government provided more than $800,000 to social assistance recipients to help them recover their spoiled food costs. Madam Speaker, much of these funds were later recouped through the Disaster Financial Assistance Agreement with the federal government.

[Page 6616]

[5:30 p.m.]

We live in a world faced with the challenge of global warming - it's creating many challenges to our environment, including our weather. Today, weather extremes are a reality. We've witnessed hurricanes, significant snowfalls and ice storms, and we've seen these extreme storms can affect the delivery of utilities.

Environmental scientists often link weather events with global warming. That's why my department is doing our part in working on climate change initiatives that will help lessen the negative impact climate change has on our weather. If we don't address climate change now we'll experience more weather extremes in the future. These weather extremes, in turn, usually affect our delivery.

Government is taking a leadership role on behalf of all Nova Scotians and is actively addressing the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. For instance, as a result of yesterday's budget, my department will lead projects for energy efficient housing. We'll help low-income Nova Scotians and those on modest incomes cut energy costs while also increasing awareness of greenhouse gas reduction.

Madam Speaker, government is also working to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by working on a government "house in order" program. For example, we're developing a green procurement policy, including a policy for the purchase of hybrid vehicles. We're also using biofuels in no fewer than 20 government buildings. These and many more initiatives to come are all worthy projects aimed at meeting the challenges of global warming and lessening the extreme effect it has on our weather and on power.

Madam Speaker, it appears the intent of this bill is to protect consumers, and I think that's an honourable intent indeed. I fully support consumer protection and our government introduced a bill last week that will do just that. We've introduced a bill to amend the Public Utilities Act which would allow a consumer advocate to be appointed for utility rate case hearings. This measure will also provide residential customers with a voice and with added consumer protection.

But this amendment to the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act, introduced by the member opposite, would likely increase costs or at least potentially have that impact. Ultimately the customer could lose out by paying more for electricity. I believe these new provisions to the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act will not provide consumers with more protection nor will it save them money; indeed consumers will be forced to reach deeper into their pocketbooks to pay for this amendment.

Although we cannot predict the frequency or the intensity of storms that trigger power outages, we can be better prepared. Next week is Emergency Preparedness Week - it's an awareness campaign to educate all Nova Scotians on how best to prepare for impending

[Page 6617]

storms and emergencies. An emergency kit and a good supply of non-perishable food items will go a long way towards getting through weather-related emergencies.

It's up to each and every Nova Scotian to make sure they have the best strategy on hand to deal with unforseen events - events like Hurricane Juan taught us a lot about emergency preparedness. While we never want to see another storm like Juan, we must be prepared. I encourage all Nova Scotians to take part in next week's activities and learn more about dealing with emergencies.

In summary, Madam Speaker, this bill is not fair to the consumer because the compensation costs will ultimately be passed back to the consumer, and it's for this reason that I cannot support this bill - but I do support and understand the reason for the member's desire to see this.

I also know from my own family's experience there can be incidents that are directly the result and responsibility of the utility. I had a situation with a power surge that took out my sister's fridge and Nova Scotia Power had a responsibility to pay for that - it wasn't her fault, it wasn't an act of God, it was a system problem, so issues where people have goods perish, their equipment damaged or destroyed is a whole other matter and the utility has a mechanism for replacing those and providing supports.

AN HON. MEMBER: Did your sister get a new fridge?

MR. CLARKE: My sister has a fridge, yes, from Nova Scotia Power, yes. The other aspect of that is that when you recognize as a reference before the fact that in a true emergency, where we're talking about, you know, acts of God or a catastrophic weather system that comes in that affect the general populace. That is why we have Emergency Measures and why we have disaster relief. It cannot be merely just issues that are affected by matters such as cost.

You know it has been the case, any direct cost to the utility from outside factors provide a legitimate ability for that utility to go before the Utility and Review Board and seek appropriate compensation or offsetting rates to displace that. I do agree and I think the members would share the same opinion, that those instances where the Power Corporation and its operations are at fault for potential damage to individuals houses or perishable goods in this case, that there has to be a recognition that there is a responsibility.

When we get in to broad scale issues, Madam Speaker, if you're talking power, well we have weather systems, not just power outages, and we have acts of God that affect our transportation network, that affect our airports. Just because I can't fly because we have a bad storm, doesn't mean I have to go and suggest that someone owes me compensation because I can't travel at that time. Lots of events happen due to acts of God and we have to

[Page 6618]

recognize that this Act, as proposed doesn't fulfill the objective which I think is honourable nonetheless.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member from Halifax Citadel.

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: I'm pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 137. I have several points that I'd like to make in the short time that's available to us to provide some comments. The first overriding one is that I'm sympathetic to the sentiment that has brought this about. Not just for personal reasons, because I was one of those thousands of Nova Scotians who lost his power during Hurricane Juan and obviously lost food as a result. On my street, power was lost for approximately a week. Many people were without any means to cook food and obviously there was a great deal that was spoiled.

I, however, cannot support this piece of legislation because I think that there are some fundamental flaws with respect to it. This afternoon seems to be the afternoon in part of no-fault liability. If I could touch just for a moment on the no-fault element that I know gets the New Democrats excited. It relates to the insurance bill that was raised earlier this afternoon and their preference is for a public system. They so often cite figures from the provinces in Western Canada, Manitoba and Saskatchewan are ones that they often refer to. Clearly those are provinces that have no fault public liability insurance and they are not comparable circumstances. I know that the New Democrats are opposed to no-fault liability insurance and the point that I have made in the past is that you can't have it both ways.

This, however, is a different kind of no-fault liability. It is akin to what's known in legal terms as absolute liability. Absolute liability are those very rare circumstances where the court holds somebody liable simply for a committing an act or being a party to a single action. It doesn't go to whether or not somebody had the requisite mind set in order to be held liable or in the circumstances where we're dealing with government offences where they had what's known as the mens rea. This is a highly unusual practice and I think in these particular circumstances would be an unwarranted one.

Let me talk first about the possibilities that could be covered in these circumstances. If I understand this bill correctly and again, I'm sympathetic to the principle that brought it about in the first place, I think it's incumbent on me to point out that like so many other Nova Scotians and like the members of the Official Opposition, I'm not at all satisfied that the actions of Nova Scotia Power in Hurricane Juan, in White Juan, in the outage that happened late this past Fall, it might have been early Winter, I guess it would have been the late Fall, were at all satisfactory. It's clear to Nova Scotians that more should have been done, particularly when it comes to communications to Nova Scotians.

I hope that Nova Scotia Power has come to terms with all of its challenges given that we have had these problems, Madam Speaker, repeatedly over the last year and a half. I think the proof will be in the pudding. So far Nova Scotians by and large are not satisfied that this

[Page 6619]

company has demonstrated fully that it is able to respond to the kinds of emergencies that we have had. Nonetheless, what should happen in those circumstances under this piece of legislation were a truck driver to collide with a transformer that knocks out power for more than 24 hours, particularly if that truck driver may be somebody who is impaired? Obviously, in those circumstances the responsibility should rest with the driver and the insurer of the driver in those circumstances, but this bill seems to not contemplate that. I suspect that one of the members for the NDP will rise and say that the insurance policy of the drunk driver would take precedence. Well, perhaps that is so, but it's clearly not indicated in this piece of legislation. What we have is, we have only two paragraphs that indicate the intention of the NDP.

Next, on the occasion when Hurricane Juan ripped through Nova Scotia, if my recollection is correct, Madam Speaker, almost half of Nova Scotia consumers were left without power for at least some period of time. Consider for a moment the costs associated with that, the many freezers and the millions of dollars worth of cost that may have been captured by that. It's not at all unimaginable, if something like that were to happen again, that we would be facing increased power rates that would be intended to cover tens of millions of dollars of compensation for spoiled food. That seems to be an unreasonable expectation in all of these circumstances where we would have in the end substantially higher rates for Nova Scotia customers, not to mention how very challenging this would be in advance of rate hearings for the Utility and Review Board to peg what the potential costs are to the Power Corporation. Clearly it's not an unreasonable thing for the Power Corporation to ask that their business plan be one that anticipates gains and losses over a period of time between applications.

I guess, Madam Speaker, the question that also occurs to me is why should we just stop at food, why do we not go further with this legislation? If we're just compensating for the loss of food, surely we could extend further to business interruption insurance for a wide variety of businesses. Let's consider, for example, the very expensive business interruption insurance and what I'm struck by is that this bill specifically includes commercial customers, so it would include all restaurants that have lost power.

For anybody who's familiar with commercial insurance, they would understand that the cost of business interruption insurance is one of the highest costs that any business could possible have. In fact so much so that many businesses in Nova Scotia simply feel that it is beyond their means and they don't bother to carry business interruption insurance. This would for all restaurants, certainly in Nova Scotia, give them at least a partial, if not a substantial, element of business interruption insurance at no cost whatsoever and what about industry. If we're on this continuum, if there's an industrial interruption at one of our large plants, shouldn't they be compensated. They obviously are going to incur losses as well.

[Page 6620]

[5:45 p.m.]

This will be undoubtedly a popular move to bring forward legislation that would provide people with direct compensation, but it may also, Madam Speaker, create a cottage industry out of defrauding Nova Scotia Power. The risks associated or the potential for fraudulent activity abound, and it doesn't take much of an imagination to realize how this could possibly come about. I think there is also a theme with respect to parties coming forward with ideas that are, on the surface, popular pocketbook ideas that in the end, however, haven't been carefully thought through. The one that comes to mind is one that I referenced in a resolution that I brought before the House the other day and that relates to the removal of HST from home heating fuel obviously, I would submit, an anti-Kyoto, anti-environmental move in the circumstances and according to the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, something that would favour large homeowners and landlords as well.

Clearly, I would suggest, Madam Speaker, this hasn't been fully thought through. The ultimate questions are whether or not there are appropriate mechanisms in place right now to compensate for this. I would suggest that while they're not perfectly satisfactory, and I would point to the following, that we continue to have significant problems with access to justice, civil access to justice in Nova Scotia. We're not just dealing with - if one were to say that everyone should be able to take a claim to Small Claims Court, it's not that simple. We don't have easy access in this province to class actions, and that is certainly something that government could begin to address or remedy to give people more opportunities.

The complaints to Nova Scotia Power, I'm not sure, they may fall on deaf ears; complaints to the Utility and Review Board, I think that the new consumers' advocate might give some teeth to a response. One needs to wait and see. It's unfortunate that it's not a more permanent position. Finally, we have insurance in Nova Scotia. Clearly this is . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Your time has lapsed.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Madam Speaker, it gives me pleasure to rise to speak on this Bill No. 157, which is an amendment to the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act. As we know, we're a long way past the days when you could keep food in the well and, as we know, there have been considerable advances and we have developed a great dependence on electricity. This is particularly unfortunate where we have developed a great dependence on a commercial monopoly. This is the case in Nova Scotia at this point.

The first thing I'd like to note is that for a company which is making profits of close to $100 million a year, every year since privatization, the concept of having to, in effect, guarantee some very basic level of service does not seem unreasonable. There are warranties

[Page 6621]

for other products. Is there some reason that there should be no warranty whatsoever that in fact the Power Corporation will deliver power?

We are not talking here about a no-fault system, neither are we talking about questions of mens rea and criminal liability. We are not talking about punishment. At the very least, however, we might be talking about something which would be an incentive to the Power Corporation to continue providing power as it says that it will in fact do. (Interruptions) Five years, parts and labour - would be wonderful, but it's really tough to get a warranty on this kind of an ephemeral product.

The interesting part, of course, is that Nova Scotia Power itself has proven itself to be a tough customer when dealing with its own customers. I would like to take a very quick detour here, because in dealing with low-income consumers of power, I have come to realize that there is in fact, in many cases, a choice that has to be made between a roof over one's head and food. A roof over one's head, I realize, has to be accompanied by the ability to pay the power bill. I am absolutely terrified by the fact that there are customers of Nova Scotia Power living on low incomes, particularly recipients of the SIA, who, when the power has been disconnected, cannot get it reconnected without the posting of a significant bond and, in the meantime, are told by Nova Scotia Power that they will have to wait a certain period of time for reconnection. The reason is that their disconnection is due to their fault.

Nova Scotia Power will work to reconnect the power when it is purely accidental or not the customer's fault. Nova Scotia Power will not work to reconnect the power when there is an element of fault. There is an element of punishment here and what concerns me enormously is that I know of cases in which people are living in multiple-unit apartment buildings without electricity. Without food, of course, and more importantly, without light and without heat, and they are using the traditional method, open flame, in these multiple unit apartment buildings because Nova Scotia Power feels that they can wait. I'm aware of one person who has been living resorting to open flame for light and heat, for the last three weeks, and that's how long it's been taking to come through the system. So, we should be aware that Nova Scotia Power is in fact a tough customer when it comes to playing the other side.

Note that after the Hurricane Juan power outage, $800,000 in compensation was paid out to recipients, to low-income families and recipients of ESIA, but the entity which paid out that $800,000 was the Nova Scotia Government. It was, in fact, Nova Scotia taxpayers, yet again, paying for a failure to deliver on the part of the privatized corporation, Nova Scotia Power; that entity, which we have no choice; we have no alternative to.

Elsewhere in the world there are numerous jurisdictions which actually provide for a much stricter regime of compensation. Note that in Sweden and in the United Kingdom, as well as in various States, there's discussion of automatic compensation, I think usually the figure is - in the United States it's often $100 for food, unless losses can be proved of a larger amount. In the U.K. 100 pounds. But note that the compensation is triggered after 12 hours

[Page 6622]

of lost power in a 24-hour period, or 18 hours of lost power in a 24-hour period, and in fact in one jurisdiction, I believe it's in Sweden, if the loss of power is recurrent, there is not a set dollar fee but there is literally a rebate of a certain number of months of previous power services. Now that is getting to be a fairly substantial kind of compensation, and unpredictable.

One of the things which I would think Nova Scotia Power might in fact welcome in some way is the ability to predict what it is going to be seeing. As long as we have a system which relies on lawsuits and so on, a power outage can trigger any number, any amount of claims at this point, but at the bare minimum, lack of food with a set target is a very predictable number. Nova Scotia Power knows how many customers it has, how many have lost power for more than a specified period of time and it's pretty easy to multiply the dollar figure out and know in terms of predicting its balance sheet for the coming year.

I'd like to say, again, of course that this bill I think is a good bill because it really is leaving considerable discretion . . .

MADAM SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm having a hard time hearing the honourable member speak.

MS. RAYMOND: Thank you. This bill proposes leaving considerable discretion to the Utility and Review Board to devise a system. All this says is, let us devise a system to ensure that at the very least, food loss is compensated. We're dealing with many people who are, as I say, in the low-income brackets, particularly there are people who have no food, and if they have in fact a store of food, replacing it can be an extraordinarily difficult thing. If you look at the sort of fact sheets that are distributed, what are the foods that can be saved? Jam, jelly, bread. Those are the inexpensive foods. Those are the foods that are not so expensive to replace. But if somebody has managed to get their hands on meat, seafood, dairy products, fresh fruit, fresh vegetables - all those components I might add of a healthy lifestyle that the government is so proud to tout - those are also the products that really have to be jettisoned, if the power has been out. Milk, another one, absolutely.

So we're doing everything to encourage people who may fear that their food supply is in jeopardy to live on canned foods, jams, jellies and breads. Although that may be the only economic reality, we certainly shouldn't be asking them, yet further, to compromise their nutritional status because of the fear of losing that food, and outages have become enough of a fact of life recently that in fact people do take that into account.

This scheme, as I say, is quite generous at the moment, when we're talking about a 24-hour outage period, much more generous than we see elsewhere, where only 12 or 18 hours are enough to trigger compensation. The Utility and Review Board has it completely open to decide about the amount of compensation, whether that compensation is to be automatic or whether it needs to be claimed by customers, whether there needs to be proof

[Page 6623]

of loss, whether proof of loss can in fact exceed a basic dollar figure. So the Utility and Review Board is really being left with a very open hand here.

What we are asking at this point is that the government recognize that electricity is an essential in this day and age, food is an essential at any time, and that we have in fact stripped - in this highly electricity-dependent society - many people of the ability to safeguard their food supply in any other way. So, Madam Speaker, in closing, I would say I support this bill, and I hope that it will in fact go forward to the Utility and Review Board in time. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Madam Speaker, that concludes Opposition Members' Business for today.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam Speaker, I would ask for the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MADAM SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 147 - Youth Justice Act/Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 165 - Education Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 6624]

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

Bill No. 145 - Elections Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Madam 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 from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills for Third Reading, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: The reply to the Budget speech . . .

MR. RUSSELL: Yes, indeed, sorry, I neglected that, Madam Speaker, very important. To the honourable member for Halifax Fairview, we will have to do that, which is the completion of the speech by the Finance Critic from the Official Opposition and then the Finance Critic from the Third Party. Following that, we will then go into Public Bills, Second and Third Reading, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned.

We have reached the moment of interruption. [The resolution for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings North.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

[Page 6625]

[6:00 p.m.]

SM. BUS.: PC GOV'T. - SUPPORT

MR. MARK PARENT: Madam Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and speak on the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this Progressive Conservative Government is a strong supporter of small business."

The importance of small businesses is something that's clear to members on this side of the House. They are key economic generators, they're the backbone of most of the communities. I know they're the backbone of my community in Kings North. They employ many Nova Scotians and they tend to generate new ideas. I find small businesses can often times move into areas and find new ways of doing things or new ideas that larger businesses wouldn't be able to move into as quickly.

The other thing is that they're very strong supporters of the local community, not only in terms of their philanthropy - what they give to various charitable organizations, sports organizations in the area - but also in the various projects they undertake. I belong to both the Kentville and Area Rotary Club and the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce - both of them have been key supporters of various philanthropic activities in the area and they have also been strong advocates for the area. In particular, the Eastern Kings Chamber of Commerce has been a key advocacy group in raising the issue of twinning Highway No. 101 and bringing the issue time and time again before both the provincial and the federal governments of the importance of twinning this for the economic well being and for the safety of the residents in the area.

So the importance of small businesses can't be overstated, I don't think. Our government has recognized that and we've done much to support small businesses since taking office in 1999. I don't want to gloss over too quickly the work the Department of Economic Development does because we have an excellent team there. In the Kings North area of Kings County, Louise Watson who is the staff worker with Economic Development, is a first-rate worker who cares passionately about the community, cares passionately about the well being of the people, does everything she can to help the economic well being of small businesses in the Kings County area.

In addition to that, we've targeted several things specifically at small businesses. We have the Small Business Loans Guaranty Program, this is an innovative program because one of the problems small businesses do have at times is accessing capital. We recognized this need and we instituted in 2003 a Small Business Loan Guaranty Program administered and run through the Credit Unions in the Province of Nova Scotia, through 37 different Credit Unions in the province.

[Page 6626]

It's a wonderful partnership, the Credit Unions are strong supporters of the local communities in which they are placed and they formed regional teams that evaluate the businesses that come forward for loans so they're receptive to and understand the local community and understand the needs of small businesses.

One of the very first recipients of one of the small business loans happened to be a friend of mine who runs a business, not in my district, but Oceanstone, which is a retreat centre down in the late John Chataway's riding. They came to me and asked me about help for small businesses and I knew this was coming down the pike. I told them to wait a few days and you'll be able to go to Mr. Chataway and he'll be able to connect you with the right people and lo and behold it happened. They got their loan, Oceanstone has gone from success to success, added on a restaurant that's drawn rave reviews and is a very vibrant and strong business employing quite a few people now in that part of Nova Scotia, thanks to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, it's been an excellent program.

If any of the members have spoken to a business that's used it, or talked to Credit Union managers who help oversee it, you'll know how important this program has been to the economic well-being of small businesses.

Another thing which this government did which was very warmly received in my area was the multi-year funding for the regional economic development agencies. We have an excellent one in my area, the Kings CED, and it has its finger on the pulse of economic well-being in the area of Kings County. Robin Marshall, the outgoing director who's retiring, has done a fantastic job as has the board and the members and the other staff people there. Everybody lauds the work the Kings CED is doing and in order to have some consistency of funding to know what they could plan for the future, we instituted multi-year funding.

I remember very much because I was the one who made the announcement. Gordie Balser, the minister at the time, was unable to make it and he phoned me up and we made the announcement in Halls Harbour which was one of the communities where they had received a lot of help, Madam Speaker, from the community economic development agency, the Kings CED. On a bit of a humourous note, I got the call late in the afternoon. So I hopped on my scooter because it was a warm sunny day, I went racing up and going into Halls Harbour, I hit the gravel and went headfirst flying through the air and hit the garage. The people were all waiting for the speaker because he was a bit late and they said who's the person making the announcement and they pointed to me lying on the ground and said it's that person over there. So I dusted myself off and started my speech by saying I did my best Stockwell Day imitation, but instead of a water scooter, I came on a motor scooter - but that was so warmly received, this multi-year funding, by the regional Economic Development Agencies so I can't overstate the importance.

We have removed the business occupancy tax just recently. This is something that has taken an awful lot of work to try to work out how to do this properly, Madam Speaker, but

[Page 6627]

this is an irritant that businesses have complained about. I, myself, have to pay the business occupancy tax as do other MLAs in here and know what this irritant is to businesses and it has taken an awful lot of work by Minister Barry Barnet and his department to work this through to the satisfaction of municipalities and small businesses, but this is something that small businesses are very happy to see go - a tax levied in addition to the commercial property tax.

We've announced in this budget that the small business loan threshold will increase to $350,000 from $300,000 and then next year to $400,000. Madam Speaker, what that means is that a small business will have to do $350,000 in business before tax is collected. This is a real boom to businesses and something they've been asking for. It's something that will help small businesses and something that I know is being very warmly received by small businesses.

Plans are underway to spend new money on trade missions for small and medium businesses to help them. Our trade missions have been very effective, Madam Speaker, many of them featuring small business, but we're going to focus even more on small businesses, helping them get those export opportunities that are so critical for many small businesses, particularly in the fields of agriculture or fisheries that are important in my riding and in other ridings around here.

Now, I don't want you to take just my word that we've done a lot for small businesses because we all know this is a sort of partisan field and you'll say, oh, well, Mark Parent, of course, has got to say that the government has done good for small businesses. I checked on the Canadian Federation of Independent Business' Web site and their latest business barometer shows that business confidence in Nova Scotia is at 111.4 per cent and it's higher than the rest of Canada. They state that their expectations have risen. They expect to employ more people and that the CFIB feels very strongly that things are going in the right direction in Nova Scotia. So this isn't just me saying so, this is the organization that represents independent businesses, and we're obviously doing something right because in 1993 when we came to power - when the Liberals come to power, there were 343,000 Nova Scotians working, now there are 450,000 Nova Scotians working, at the same time as the population has remained stable.

So, clearly, Madam Speaker, we have good government on this side that supports, that understands small businesses, that recognizes how important they are, both for the economic activities that they generate, but also how important they are for the community itself in terms of their volunteerism, in terms of support they give for various community projects.

I also want to mention that we've provided money for the Cape Breton and Nova Scotia Railway to remain operational. This will help small businesses in Cape Breton that

[Page 6628]

want to ship their product. So there are many different ways. I could go on and on, Madam Speaker, about the ways in which we've featured small businesses.

I know there's more to be done, there's always more to be done, but we've done so much over the past six years to help small businesses and I'm very proud to be part of a government that has done this work for small businesses and will pledge and continue to work to help small businesses as they grow in the future as well. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Madam Speaker, I was interested to hear the honourable member has recently had a small accident in which he bumped his noggin. I wish him good health and a speedy recovery. On the other hand, the resolution that we've been presented is at least some small indication that he has a ways to go in terms of his full recovery.

Now, isn't this just a disgraceful resolution that we have in front of us? Isn't it especially disgraceful from this member who apparently believes that he is ready to serve in the Parliament of Canada as a Member of Parliament? How can a person consider that this is an appropriate step for them to take if they don't have a firm grasp of basic economic facts?

I want the honourable member to think about some things I'm about to say very carefully. Let me list some names of enterprises for him and see if he recognizes them and see if he can place them in a context: Frito Lay, Michelin, Stirling, Acadia University, the ACA Co-op, Larsen's, Maple Leaf Poultry, the Kings Rehabilitation Centre, the Valley Regional Hospital and the Kings School Board.

In case the honourable member is having any difficulty placing any of these entities let me tell him and my fellow members of this Chamber what I have just listed. What I have just listed are the names of the top 10 employers in the constituency he represents. They're all big employers - they're not small business, they're all big employers. Michelin is, Frito Lay is, the school board certainly is, Acadia is - these are the biggest employers in that member's constituency. Yet, here we have a resolution that comes forward from that member in which he tries to tell us that we should recognize that his government is a strong supporter of small business.

But do you know what? One of those biggest employers on that list, Michelin, is a company that was attracted to this province under an economic theory that still prevails with that member's government. That theory is not to encourage small business, that theory is to do what is known in the undertaking of economic development as hunting the elephant. The theory is what prevails at Nova Scotia Business Inc. and that theory is what prevails in the Office of Economic Development and that theory is what has always prevailed in that member's Party when it comes to economic development - go to some other province, go to some other country, go somewhere else and find a big employer and try to lure them with

[Page 6629]

financial inducements to come to Nova Scotia. That's what economic development has been all about ever since this member's Party has formed the government in Nova Scotia and it shows no signs of abating whatsoever. None.

That member and many of his colleagues in the backbench of his Party, I know, have a self image in which they think their Party is the Party of small business. They think they're the Party of Main Street, small-town Nova Scotia. They think they're the Party of farmers, of small entrepreneurs. But, you know what? They're not paying attention to the basic economic facts either in Nova Scotia or of what policies their Party has pursued since they've been in power. I bet if the backbenchers of that Party had a conversation with the front benchers of that Party, they would realize the orientation of their Party is towards big business, hands down.

[6:15 p.m.]

Now I want to give the member another list, and see if he recognizes any of the names on this list. Stora, and again Michelin, and when it comes to families, Irvings, the Sobeys, the Jodreys, the Braggs, John Risley, Ken Rowe. I wonder if the honourable member recognizes any of those names, either corporate or family. These are the economic elite of our province. It's not just from one enterprise, these are families that own huge numbers of businesses of one sort or another, either integrated or unrelated. That government, the government that that member belongs to, has taken step after step in order to make life easy for those companies and those families. They're the ones that in fact are represented on the board of Nova Scotia Business Inc. They're the ones that are the recipients of loans and guarantees from that member's government, not small businesses.

Never mind Snair's, which is wonderful example, although we have to ask ourselves, how is it that the economic development people in P.E.I. can look at Snair's and reach the conclusion that it's a good business bet for them to take a nice small business like a bakery and move it to P.E.I., and our economic development people, under the general supervision of that member's government, look at it and say, let it go. That's the message that small business in Nova Scotia gets from that member's government. There are lots of examples.

We heard in the commentary, in response to the budget, the example of the tax breaks for big companies compared with the possibilities of what could have been done for poor individuals and for small businesses. It's clear the direction in which this government is moving, and it isn't in the direction of supporting the small entrepreneur who's already in Nova Scotia, or the person who is here and working in Nova Scotia or wanting work in Nova Scotia.

This comes out not just in tax arrangements in the budget that we're dealing with now, it comes out, as well, if you think about what went on and has been going on and has not happened with respect to the possibility of the regulation of gasoline prices. That's an area

[Page 6630]

in which there is huge corporate concentration, in which the big companies dominate, that's an area in which we have been hearing from customers who are not doing well in the system and from the small independent retailers and those who would like to be independent that they're having a rough time.

And what has happened? What has happened as a result of the government's interest in this topic? Nothing! Finally, when there was sticker shock last year, they were forced to set up a select committee, and that select committee, which included three members of that Party, backbenchers, came and said there has to be retail divorcement or else price regulation. And the government refuses to move on any of that. They refuse to take a tangible step that could help the small customer, the average customer, that could help the small businesses that are the retail businesses, they're just not doing it.

Another part, I've mentioned before, is NSBI and the Office of Economic Development. That entity as well is not pursuing an agenda for small businesses, it isn't taking small amounts of money and saying, where are the entrepreneurs who are already here in Nova Scotia, can we help them out? What it's doing is, it's out there, so-called hunting the elephant, looking to bring, by inducements, big businesses to Nova Scotia. The example that they've been relying on, of course, is call centres. Call centres come here only for the inducements. That is what's been going on, that's what the Progressive Conservative Government has been doing.

They haven't been supporting small businesses, they've been out there doing their best to give away money to the big companies, to give financial support to the biggest companies, the ones that don't need it. I say that if that member who brought this resolution here is thinking he's going to run for Parliament, it's time the scales fell from his eyes. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Madam Speaker, I hate to interrupt the honourable member from the Official Opposition over there because he had some extremely good points. I had a small business background before I came to the Legislature and this is a very dear topic for myself. I want to just point out some things to the member for the Progressive Conservative Party. When he said that in 1993 the job figures are higher today, that there are more jobs in Nova Scotia than there were in 1993, that is absolutely true, but you've got to remember John Buchanan. John Buchanan, you didn't forget John Buchanan.

AN HON. MEMBER: Forever in our debt.

MR. COLWELL: Forever in your debt and debt for all Nova Scotians which is continuing by this government. When we inherited government - because I'm one of the few people who was there in 1993, and I remember the numbers - it was a dismal situation through the fine economic development of the time of the Buchanan Government and if you

[Page 6631]

think you've got some stories to tell about bad business, well, I've got a list that long and it's hundreds of millions of dollars worth.

If the member will check the figures, he better check the figures to be sure, but if I look at the figures and I remember right, and my memory sometimes is a bit foggy, but in this case I don't think it is, in 1999 we were in government, I was still in government at that time, the employment figures in this province were higher in 1999 than they are today - actual people working. So the member gets up here and says we've created jobs, hopefully they have, but I sure don't believe it.

Let's see what these guys have done to really help Nova Scotia business. Well, the Credit Union Loan Program, what a wonderful program. I handed out all these forms to the people. The people started coming back to me and said I went to see my local credit union manager and guess what? Anyone with any kind of credibility at all in the small business came back and said, look, the credit union manager said throw the thing in the garbage, we'll give you a loan, a lower interest rate, no fees, and no administration costs. It's a lot better program and the credit union manager also told the small business people I sent there, he said it's the same application, and he said we'll give you the thing, it's a bad deal. The credit unions are a really good organization and actually when I was a minister, I instituted a program that gave the credit unions a $250,000 guarantee on deposits which is the highest in the province for any establishment, which helped the credit unions. It's a really good organization.

I actually personally use the credit unions because I think they're one of the best organizations around. I think the credit unions have been done badly by this government because it didn't set the program up properly to really help small business. That's only one thing that's sort of a fiasco. Fee increases, well, when you run a small business, every penny that you've got to spend out affects your sale price, if you're making a product, if you're providing a service, whatever you're doing. So fee increases sort of sneak in there, right, that you don't really notice and all of a sudden your charge rate per hour might go from $40 an hour to $60. All of a sudden you're not competitive anymore because someone in New England can do that job for less fees and less taxes for $40 Canadian an hour. So there's a big problem with that. They snuck all these fee increases in.

I will just give you one example of fee increases. There are all kinds of them. They're through everything, but if you used a 6 per cent fee increase, such as they've done, and that really relates into a 15 per cent increase because you've got to charge three times typically in your hourly rate to pay and make money on what you're doing. So that all of a sudden is a 15 per cent increase. That's a huge increase and, today, most companies aren't just competing with their next-door neighbour, your competitor may be in New England, it may be in Europe, it could be in China. So you've got to make sure your costs are down and you've got to make sure you deliver quality for that.

[Page 6632]

Another thing that this government has refused to do, and honourable Opposition brought this forward the other day and it's so true, I give you credit for doing that, rural areas, high-speed Internet. You cannot do business in this world today without the proper high-speed Internet, private telephones and other things that you really need to operate your business.

Let's talk about education and training, there's so much here to talk about, we could talk about this for hours. Education and training, well, I represent the largest Black community in Canada. Now, there's a long history of the Black community not getting proper education in this province and that's a fact. It's documented.

So why doesn't the government come across with a trades training program for mature students. In other words, I've got some of the finest stonemasons that exist in the world in Preston, some of the finest stonemasons in the world. Guess what? They can't get a union job because they don't have a piece of paper that says they're a journeyman. They go to the Department of Environment and Labour and try to get that, forget it. It's, well, did you go to this school, did you do that, no, we didn't, because we couldn't go to school, if you're 50 years old, you weren't allowed to go to school in Nova Scotia. You weren't allowed.

So now these people should be qualified. Instead of working three or four months in the Summertime, which they do now for probably $14 or $15 an hour, if they can get the work, they could probably work three-quarters of the year in a union job, in the Bricklayers Union, and make $25 or $30 an hour and properly look after their families. Then they could get their families in university and do all the things a family should do. They can't do it, because this government hasn't taken enough initiative, even though they get up time and time again and say they're doing this thing.

I'll give you another one. The Minister of Natural Resources got up here in the last session of the Legislature, and I challenged him on the Porters Lake Provincial Park being repaired. He got up and said, well, we're waiting for federal money. Now we have federal money, it will be open this Spring. Hmm, it's Spring, it's April, May's coming. But boys, they're still working on it. It looks like a wasteland down there. That's not going to be opened, unless there's a miracle, this year, period.

Now that doesn't seem too bad, because people go in the park, it's provincial, and they stay there and they pay the province the money, but it has a major impact on the local laundromat, the local grocery store, the local restaurant, and every other business that's there that depends on this little extra boost in the Summertime to help pay all the extra taxes that are coming, fees and other things that they put forward. So when you look at this thing, it looks on the surface as if they're doing a great job over there, but I can tell you if you're a small business, you're not very happy with this government.

[Page 6633]

You look at all the other things that go on. Workers' compensation, let's talk about workers' compensation. I brought up a scenario today. Well, as the rate of workers' compensation goes up, which the employers pay for, 100 per cent - 100 per cent paid by employers, not employees, not by government, although the government seems to want to meddle in the program a whole lot - every time that rate goes up it's a serious impact on employers. So right now you have a loaded rate, if you understand what a loaded rate is, of overhead, of vacation pay, Canada Pension, unemployment insurance, workers' compensation, vacation and holidays, you're probably up around 20 per cent on your overall costs. That means if you're at $2 on that today, you've got to charge out at $6 to make money. That's the standard in the industry that you've got to do.

So if you take that $2 per hour - I'm talking $2 per hour, now - and you add another 25 cents on that, you're actually adding 75 cents on a charge-out rate. So it puts up the cost to the consumer, no matter what you do on the costs. There has been nothing this government has done to help reduce those rates, and at the same time look after the injured workers. There's a lot of talk about this, the unfunded liability is going to go right straight through the roof on this whole thing by the time this is all done. It's going to be very serious for industry, and something has to be done, number one, to get these claims processed as quickly as possible to see exactly what the cost is going to be, and then learn how to put it back in order.

I'm going to go back a little bit, he talked about history - I wasn't going to do that but I'm going to talk about it. Workers' compensation. Back in 1993 there was a crisis, $500 million of unfunded liability not on the books, it wasn't there. So when the Auditor General comes and says, why don't put it on the books of the province, where did that come from, $500 million all of a sudden, bang, just like that, showed up. So guess what, there were rumours, and I say rumours, of political interference. If you had a claim, you just called your local Progressive Conservative member, my back's hurt and I need workers' comp, and they'd pick the phone up, put them on workers' comp and hang the phone up. There were rumours that that really did happen.

I talked to some people who claimed that they did that. Anyway, those are just rumours. I wouldn't want to say that actually transpired, and I would hope that that situation isn't reoccurring. I would hope. I'm not guaranteeing that it isn't, but I would hope that that's the case. Really, it's an injustice for the people who need the assistance, and when they really get hurt on the job and they have to get that income to look after themselves and their families, it's so important.

Madam Speaker, I could go on about this for hours. I've got so much information on this and so much experience in dealing with this, I'd really like to tie in the Buchanan years with all the problems we've had with all these things in long-term debt, and I can tell you, it's scary. Thank you very much for your time.

[Page 6634]

[MADAM SPEAKER: The time allotted for late debate has ended.

The House is adjourned.]

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 6635]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3467

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Jeep Club has given valuable service transporting essential service workers to their places of employment during recent snowstorms; and

Whereas Duane Forrester of Stillwater Lake organized this extreme-weather driving program; and

Whereas these volunteers have stepped up to meet a need in times of emergency;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize and thank Duane Forrester and all members of the Nova Scotia Jeep Club for their exemplary dedication to serving Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 3468

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas Nova Scotians remain concerned about recent power interruptions and the level of service from NSP; and

Whereas Deborah Perras of Lakeside took the initiative to organize a petition expressing the frustrations of our community with this recurring problem; and

Whereas Deborah has dedicated many hours to this effort;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly recognize Deborah Perras for her initiative, and thank her for organizing this petition to demonstrate the frustrations of the community of Lakeside with NSP and the service they provide.

[Page 6636]

RESOLUTION NO. 3469

By: Mr. Gary Hines (Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas volunteers are an integral component of today's society and, without them, so much work that needs to be done simply wouldn't get done; and

Whereas 20 volunteers were recognized this year in the Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank and surrounding area for their outstanding work and dedication;

Whereas the volunteers are as follows: from the LWF Social Club, Sandra Carr; Gerry Bray from the Scotia Nursing Home; Jean Bevan of the Ladies Guild and Friendship Group of the Church of the Good Shepard (sic); Gordon West from the Beaver Bank Kinsac Fire Department; Len Wagg of Lockview High School; Tim Daly from the Canal District Recreation Association; Lorna Jackson of the LWF Firefighters Ladies Auxiliary; Brian Johnson, who is involved with the 2nd Beaver Bank Scouting Group; Ginnie Lively from the RCMP Community Office in Beaver Bank; Juliette MacLeod, a member of the St. Thomas Anglican Church; Marion MacKinnon from the Beaver Bank Kinsac School; Lloyd Mitchell of the Millstream Chorus; Darlene Oppedisano with G.P. Vanier Jr. High School; Kent Pietracupa, who is involved with the LWF Baseball Association; Brian Pitts, a member of the Beaver Bank Community Awareness Association; Gail Poirier from Branch 90 of the Royal Canadian Legion Ladies Auxiliary in Waverley; Deith Roy, a volunteer with the Beaver Bank District Girl Guides; Bonnie Ryan, a member of the Beaver Bank Kinsac Elementary Parent-Teacher Association; Megan Sheen with the Beaver Bank Kinsac Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary; and Julie Vials with the LWF Ratepayers Association.

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly commend the dedicated volunteer efforts of the above-mentioned volunteers, knowing full well the leadership demonstrated by them in their community.

RESOLUTION NO. 3470

By: Hon. Rodney MacDonald (Tourism, Culture and Heritage)

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

[Page 6637]

Whereas each year 200 Nova Scotians die from exposure to second-hand smoke; and

Whereas on March 8th, Health Promotion encouraged people to make their homes smoke-free to protect others from exposure to second-hand smoke, as part of the Smoke Free Around Me campaign that mailed information to each Nova Scotian home; and

Whereas Public Health Services in the Guysborough Antigonish Strait Health Authority and the Cape Breton District Health Authority originally developed this campaign for their communities, and Health Promotion shared it with the rest of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the people in Guysborough, Antigonish and Cape Breton for initiating this campaign, and all Nova Scotians for reducing tobacco use and cleaning the air.

RESOLUTION NO. 3471

By: Hon. John Hamm (The Premier)

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

Whereas tourism is an industry which greatly benefits the County of Pictou; and

Whereas to encourage our area's citizens and organizations, the Pictou County Tourist Association (PCTA) annually commends local groups for their contributions during its gala awards dinner; and

Whereas the 2005 Ambassador Award, as sponsored by the PCTA, was presented to the Pictou County Weeks Crushers;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate this year's Ambassador Award winner on their contributions to the Pictou County tourism industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3472

By: Hon. John Hamm (The Premier)

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

[Page 6638]

Whereas tourism is an industry which greatly benefits the County of Pictou; and

Whereas to encourage our area's citizens and organizations, the Pictou County Tourist Association (PCTA) annually commends local groups for their contributions during its gala awards dinner; and

Whereas a special award of excellence was presented this year to Sobeys Inc. for its outstanding contribution to the community and to the tourism industry;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate this year's special award of excellence winner on its contributions to the Pictou County tourism industry.

RESOLUTION NO. 3473

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas the three-year, $15 million project to repair the Seal Island Bridge has given new life to this vital Cape Breton link; and

Whereas Transportation and Public Works employees were members of a project team that recently received the design award in the structural innovation category from the American Concrete Institute, Atlantic Chapter, for their work on the bridge; and

Whereas the same team has also received the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Engineering Excellence in 2004;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the TPW project members for their award-winning work on the major overhaul of the province's third-largest bridge.

RESOLUTION NO. 3474

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas a permanent exhibit celebrating Joseph Howe's major achievements was unveiled at Province House on March 1st; and

[Page 6639]

Whereas a talented team of Nova Scotians organized, researched and designed this exhibit; and

Whereas several Public Works tradespersons assisted the designer, interpreters and House of Assembly staff in its creation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of our talented carpenters and electricians who have helped create a lasting legacy to Joseph Howe.

RESOLUTION NO. 3475

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas the federal government's Standing Committee on Transport met in Halifax on March 10, 2005 to discuss air policy issues; and

Whereas I appeared before the committee to press the federal government for a more open approach to Canada's air policies as they relate to air access, rent relief for larger airports, and small airport viability; and

Whereas the future of our tourism and trade links depends upon improved policies for air travel and airport infrastructure;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join with me in pressing the federal government to recognize the importance of airport liberalization and airport viability to our province.

RESOLUTION NO. 3476

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Audrey Marshall of Springhill was honoured as a host of people gathered in Halifax to present her with the Community Volunteer of the Year Award; and

Whereas Audrey has been best described as a behind-the-scenes volunteer who rarely steps into the spotlight, but is always there to put forth the utmost effort and support for a project or event; and

[Page 6640]

Whereas she has been involved in many organizations, groups and functions over the years and has served as Brownie Leader for seven years and an additional two years with the Pathfinders group, and she has also served in the role of Sunday school teacher for the past four years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Audrey Marshall on this outstanding achievement, and we thank her for her hours of hard work and dedication to make her community and this province a better place.

RESOLUTION NO. 3477

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Stacey Carter of Springhill was honoured in Halifax for special notoriety for her volunteer efforts as Youth Volunteer of the Year; and

Whereas Stacey is set to carry on the legacy of those who came before her, and by already committing 12 hours per week to the community, the Grade 12 honours student has found ways she can contribute to her town; and

Whereas Stacy mixes her education with athletics and served as co-captain of the girl's basketball team that recently captured the NSSAF Division III Championship, Stacey still finds the time to volunteer within her school community, the All Saints Hospital, she works with elementary schoolchildren as a peer tutor, canvasses for the Heart & Stroke Foundation, Diabetes Society, the Salvation Army, and many other activities including representing China as a member of the Model United Nations program, received the Lieutenant Governor's Medal in 2004 and was the outstanding scholar award winner for both Grade 10 and 11;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Stacey on this outstanding achievement, and we thank her for her hours of hard work and dedication to make her community and this province a better place.

RESOLUTION NO. 3478

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 6641]

Whereas Nick Griffin was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill; and

Whereas Nick was awarded a plaque for the Most Dedicated Player of the Sr. Boy's Basketball team; and

Whereas it was a night for the school and the students and staff of Springhill Regional High School to show their appreciation to all the athletes who work so hard and show so much dedication all year to their team and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Nick Griffin on this outstanding achievement, and we wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3479

By: Hon Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Maryanne Gilbert, a Parrsboro resident, has been named Volunteer of the Year for 2005; and

Whereas Maryanne represented Parrsboro at the Provincial Volunteer Award ceremony and luncheon in Halifax on Tuesday, April 12, 2005; and

Whereas a local council meeting in Parrsboro on the 26th of April will honour Maryanne and all of the volunteer representatives;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Maryanne Gilbert on this achievement and we thank her for her many hours of volunteering on behalf of her community and this province.

RESOLUTION NO. 3480

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Patti Gilroy was honoured at the Springhill Student Appreciation Night in Springhill; and

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Whereas Patti was awarded a plaque for the Most Improved Player of the Lady Eagles Basketball team; and

Whereas it was a night for the school and the students and staff of Springhill Regional High School to show their appreciation to all the athletes who work so hard and show so much dedication all year to their team and their school;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Patti Gilroy on this outstanding achievement and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3481

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas GJDE Enterprises Ltd. of Oxford, Nova Scotia was awarded the Hometown Christmas Centennial Award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held a the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

Whereas the awards were given out to businesses in the town that went above and beyond to make the town a Special Site over the Christmas holidays in their Centennial year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate GJDE Enterprises Ltd. on receiving this award and wish them continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3482

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mike and Angela Griffin of Oxford, Nova Scotia were awarded the Hometown Christmas Centennial Award by the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas the Centennial Awards were presented at a tea held at the Oxford Lions Community Centre on Thursday, January 27, 2005; and

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Whereas the awards were given out to businesses in the town that went above and beyond to make the town a Special Site over the Christmas holidays in their Centennial year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mike and Angela Griffin on receiving this award and wish them continued success and prosperity over the coming years.

RESOLUTION NO. 3483

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Cadet Edward Ferguson and his team members of the Springhill Marksmanship team recently took home first place from the Cadet Nova Scotia Provincial Marksmanship competition in Halifax; and

Whereas the Springhill team, representing Springhill 1859 RCACC, scored 1481 points out of a possible 1600 points to win the competition; and

Whereas the competition has qualified the Springhill team to participate at the national level as one of the two teams representing Nova Scotia Cadets at the National Cadet Marksmanship competition to be held at Valcartier, Quebec, in May;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cadet Edward Ferguson and his team members on this outstanding achievement and wish them continued success in the future.