Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-88

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/

First Session

TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Mr. L. Glavine 7679
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Ms. D. Whalen 7680
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report, Hon. R. Russell 7680
Anl. Rept. of the N.S. Department of Justice, Hon. M. Baker 7680
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - Post-Secondary: Core Funding - Reinvest, Mr. D. Dexter 7680
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Immigration - Clinician Assessment for Practice Program,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 7681
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4158, Prov. Black Basketball Assoc.: Tournament - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 7684
Vote - Affirmative 7684
Res. 4159, Congress of Black Women (Cherry Brook Chap.):
Honourees - Congrats., Hon. B. Barnet 7684
Vote - Affirmative 7685
Res. 4160, Econ. Dev. - CED Investment Funds: Investors - Congrats.,
Hon. E. Fage 7685
Vote - Affirmative 7686
Res. 4161, Nat'l. Rd. Safety Wk. (05/17-05/23/05) - Recognize,
Hon. R. Russell 7686
Vote - Affirmative 7687
Res. 4162, C.B. Dist. Health Auth.: Awards - Recipients,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7687
Vote - Affirmative 7687
Res. 4163, Energy - AVRSB: Init. - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 7688
Vote - Affirmative 7688
Res. 4164, Health Prom. - Suicide Prevention Strategy: Stakeholders -
Recognize, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 7688
Vote - Affirmative 7689
Res. 4165, Energy: NSAC - Climate Change Initiatives, Hon. C. Clarke 7689
Vote - Affirmative 7690
Res. 4166, Parsons, Al/Mullins, Cyril/Rafuse, Albert:
Lun. Co. Ground Search & Rescue - Serv., Hon. M. Baker 7690
Vote - Affirmative 7691
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 216, Beechville Baptist Church Act, Mr. K. Colwell 7691
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4167, Atlantic Accord - N.S. MPs: Support - Urge, Mr. D. Dexter 7691
Res. 4168, Health - Care: Mismanagement - Prem. Repair,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7692
Res. 4169, Valley Tire/Scotian Gold - RRFB Awards, Mr. M. Parent 7693
Vote - Affirmative 7694
Res. 4170, Frank, Robert: Tate Museum Show - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7694
Vote - Affirmative 7695
Res. 4171, TPW: Mineville Rd. - Resurface, Mr. K. Colwell 7695
Res. 4172, Gillighan, Robyn/Noonan, Catrina: Equestrian Season -
Congrats., Mr. G. Hines 7696
Vote - Affirmative 7696
Res. 4173, Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Soc.: Efforts -
Recognize, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7697
Vote - Affirmative 7698
Res. 4174, Stronach, Belinda: Cdn./N.S. Support - Congrats.,
Mr. Michel Samson 7698
Res. 4175, Russell, Hon. Ronald - Pub. Serv.: Contribution - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7698
Vote - Affirmative 7699
Res. 4176, MacLennan, Rod J. - Order of Canada, Hon. J. Muir 7699
Vote - Affirmative 7700
Res. 4177, Dart. HS - Model Parliament: Participants - Congrats.,
Ms. M. More 7700
Vote - Affirmative 7701
Res. 4178, Educ.: Post-Secondary - Importance, Ms. D. Whalen 7701
Res. 4179, Sattler, Norbert & Helga: Stained Glass Studio -
Anniv. (25th), Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 7702
Vote - Affirmative 7702
Res. 4180, Dart. HS - Model Parliament: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 7703
Vote - Affirmative 7703
Res. 4181, La Baie en Joie: Dance Trophies - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 7703
Vote - Affirmative 7704
Res. 4182, N.S. Heart & Stroke Fdn.: Antigonish Educ. Ctr. -
Fundraising, Hon. A. MacIsaac 7704
Vote - Affirmative 7705
Res. 4183, Hfx. Needham MLA - Prem./Com. Serv. Min.: Remarks -
Retract, Mr. F. Corbett 7705
Res. 4184, Digby: MLAs - Visit, Mr. H. Theriault 7706
Vote - Affirmative 7706
Res. 4185, Northside & Area Commun. Planning Grp. -
Mem. HS Entrepreneurship Prog., Hon. C. Clarke 7707
Vote - Affirmative 7707
Res. 4186, Terfry, Rich: Achievements - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 7707
Vote - Affirmative 7708
Res. 4187, White, Brian: Educ. Achievements - Congrats.,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 7708
Vote - Affirmative 7709
Res. 4188, Bishara, Joseph/Maple Grove/Yar. HS Mem. Club:
Commun. Serv. - Commend, (by Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson)
Hon. R. Hurlburt 7709
Vote - Affirmative 7710
Res. 4189, Elliott, Sharon: Anna. Co. Volunteerism - Thank,
The Premier 7710
Vote - Affirmative 7710
Res. 4190, Membre de l'Assemblée Législative - Cours Français:
Affaires Acadiennes - Merci, Mr. C. Parker 7710
Vote - Affirmative 7712
Res. 4191, Wilson, Jonathan - Dal.: Graduation - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7712
Vote - Affirmative 7712
Res. 4192, Murphy, Sr. Claire - Seton Award, Mr. J. MacDonell 7712
Vote - Affirmative 7713
Res. 4193, St. Augustines Church: Stained Glass Window - Congrats.,
Ms. M. Raymond 7713
Vote - Affirmative 7714
Res. 4194, MacKay, Duncan Roderick - Birthday (90th), Mr. G. Gosse 7714
Vote - Affirmative 7715
Res. 4195, Sackville Vol. Firefighters Org. - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 7715
Vote - Affirmative 7715
Res. 4196, Ormond, Jeff/MacNeil, Michael: Courage - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7716
Vote - Affirmative 7717
Res. 4197, Conrad, Mary - East. Passage: Contributions - Recognize,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7717
Vote - Affirmative 7717
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 890, Nat. Res. - C.B.: Strip Mining Opponents - Concerns,
Mr. D. Dexter 7718
No. 891, Health - Care: System - Confidence Restoration,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7719
No. 892, Health - Surgery Wait List: Situation - Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 7720
No. 893, Health - System: Specialists - Recruit,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7721
No. 894, Health: Biomedical Waste Treatment - Medic Delivery Proposal,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7722
No. 895, Health - Skin Cancer: Prevention - Plans,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7724
No. 896, Atlantic Accord - Fate: Stephen Harper - Premier Trust,
Mr. Michel Samson 7725
No. 897, Gaming Corp. - Casinos: Sale - Min. Advice, Mr. G. Steele 7726
No. 898, Health - Oxygen Prog.: Limitations - Explain, Mr. J. Pye 7727
No. 899, Beechville Baptist Church: Dev. - Protection, Mr. K. Colwell 7728
No. 900, Com. Serv. - Affordable Housing Proj. (Lr. Sack.):
Consultation - Lack Explain, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 7729
No. 901, Educ. - Teacher Funding: Reduction - Explain, Ms. D. Whalen 7730
No. 902, Environ. & Lbr. - Lake Micmac Silt Runoff: Dev. Proj. - Halt,
Mr. J. Pye 7732
No. 903, Com. Serv. - Daycare Init.: Consultation - Details,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 7733
No. 904, TCH - Peggy's Cove: Residents - Obligations Meet,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7734
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON BILLS AT 2:08 P.M. 7737
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 3:53 P.M. 7737
CWH REPORTS 7737
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 179, Self-managed Support-care Act 7738
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7738
Mr. J. Pye 7739
Mr. S. McNeil 7744
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7745
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7746
Ms. D. Whalen 7748
Mr. K. Colwell 7749
Mr. Gerald Sampson 7750
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7751
Vote - Affirmative 7751
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 203, Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act 7751
Hon. A. MacIsaac 7751
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7753
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7765
Adjourned debate 7767
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Care: Crisis - Premier Fix:
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7767
Mr. M. Parent 7770
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7772
Mr. J. Pye 7774
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 203, Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act [Debate resumed.] 7775
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7775
Mr. H. Epstein 7777
Mr. J. Pye 7787
Adjourned debate^ 7793
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 7793
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 7794
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 7794
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 7794
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., May 18th at 2:00 p.m. 7795
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4198, Wadden, Steve - Outstanding Young Leader Award,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7796
Res. 4199, MacDonald, Terri Lynn: Commun. Commitment -
Commend, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7796
Res. 4200, Fifield, Angela/Donovan, Evan: Athletic Success -
Congrats., Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7797
Res. 4201, Cdn. Tire: Youth Commitment - Congrats., Mr. G. Gosse 7797
Res. 4202, Akerley Commun. College Campus - Expansion:
Contributors - Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 7798
Res. 4203, Starratt, Brent/O'Brien, Michelle/Smith, Sharon:
Hantsport Fire - Heroism, Hon. R. Russell 7798
Res. 4204, Crosby, Kevin, Jr./Jopling, Mary/Deluca, Jeanine/
Swain, Jill/VanZoost, Dr. Lisa: Equestrian Season - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 7799
Res. 4205, All Saints Hosp. Aux.: Dedication - Congrats., The Speaker 7800
Res. 4206, All Saints Commun. Health Care Fdn.: Achievements -
Congrats., The Speaker 7800
Res. 4207, EMS Week (05/16-05/21/05) - Recognize, The Speaker 7801
Res. 4208, N.S. Block Parent Advisory Bd. - Participants:
Efforts - Thank, Mr. W. Dooks 7801
Res. 4209, Campbell, Jonathan - Atl. Bk. Award, Mr. M. Parent 7802
Res. 4210, MacDonald, Jaime: MUN - Scholarship, Mr. M. Parent 7802
Res. 4211, Northeast Kings Badminton Club.: Atl. Reg. Championship -
Participation, Mr. M. Parent 7803
Res. 4212, Beaton, Bruce - Edmonton Eskimos: Return - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 7803
Res. 4213, Canada Games: Anna. Valley Running Club - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 7804
Res. 4214, Burns, Darren - Hockey Coach of the Yr., Mr. M. Parent 7804
Res. 4215, Kings Transit Auth. - Transit Award, Mr. M. Parent 7805
Res. 4216, Dean, Terry/Adams-Dean, Sharon:
Kings Co. Learning Assoc. - Fundraising, Mr. M. Parent 7805
Res. 4217, Kings Co. Learning Assoc. - Literacy Mile: Organizers -
Thank, Mr. M. Parent 7806
Res. 4218, Criss, Sharon - Sch.: Return - Commend, Mr. M. Parent 7807
Res. 4219, Chute, Annie/Johnson, Rebecca/Webster-Pineo, Nancy:
Equestrian Season - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 7807
Res. 4220, Atwell, Amber/Aalders, Rachel/Balcom, Monica:
Boxing Medals - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 7808
Res. 4221, Weathers, Bill & Gloria: Rest. Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Chisholm 7808
Res. 4222, LaRue, Diane: Bk. Launch - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 7809
Res. 4223, Hfx. West HS: "Head for a Cure" - Fundraising,
Ms. D. Whalen 7809
Res. 4224, Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church: Celebration 2005 -
Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 7810
Res. 4225, Saunders, Andrew - Diving Medals, Ms. D. Whalen 7810
Res. 4226, Dress for Success Halifax - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 7811
Res. 4227, Hfx. West HS Chess Team: Title - Congrats., Ms. D. Whalen 7811
Res. 4228, Hfx. Int'l. Airport Auth.: Efforts - Recognize, Ms. D. Whalen 7812
Res. 4229, Leadbeater, Al - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7812
Res. 4230, Quesnel, Ethel - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7813
Res. 4231, Sanford, Karen - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7813
Res. 4232, Butler, Kathryn - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7814
Res. 4233, Dillman, Kay - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7814
Res. 4234, Robinson, Margaret - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7815
Res. 4235, Bond, Mary - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7815
Res. 4236, MacDonell, Nina - E. Hants Mun. Shining Star Award,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7816
Res. 4237, Sweeney, Reg, Reeta, Ellen & Mark - E. Hants Mun.
Fam. Vol. of the Yr., Mr. J. MacDonell 7816

[Page 7679]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, MAY 17, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand the Premier act immediately to fix the health care crisis that he finally admitted existed last night.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 120 Nova Scotians concerned about the high and ever-rising costs of post-secondary tuition. I have affixed my signature thereof.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

7679

[Page 7680]

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I also have a petition signed by many Nova Scotians concerned about the high and ever-rising cost of tuition and calling for the government to take progressive reductions of tuition fees in the public post-secondary institutions. I have affixed my signature to that as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Surplus Crown Property Disposal Report.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Nova Scotia Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the 2004 Annual Report of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

There has been a request to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition, the operative which reads, "Therefore, your petitioners call upon the Legislative Assembly of Nova Scotia to make a considerable reinvestment in core funding to Nova Scotia's post-secondary

[Page 7681]

institutions." This contains the signatures of 569 post-secondary students from around the province, and I am affixing my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Immigration.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have great news to share today that I know will interest all members of this House. This morning at Pier 21, the College of Physicians and Surgeons released details of what is called CAPP, Clinician Assessment for Practice Program. As a result of CAPP, qualified, internationally-trained family doctors will have their skills assessed without unnecessary delay. The written and practical exams are rigorous because we have very high medical standards here in Nova Scotia.

In line with these standards, the doctors who are approved to go into practice are under the supervision of a mentor for a year, and reports on their work continue to be reviewed by the College of Physicians and Surgeons, but unlike most, if not all other provinces, doctors don't have to repeat training they already have. If they can show that they are qualified to practise, they will be available to see patients without delay. Nova Scotia is leading the country in this regard.

My colleague, the Minister of Health, was also at this morning's announcement and deserves praise for he and his department's commitment to this. He talked about this program and how it will help bring doctors to more communities, particularly in rural areas. As Immigration Minister I am excited about this program as it supports our intentioned goals for immigrants.

[12:15 p.m.]

Mentors will help integrate the doctors and their families into their communities. As well, the province is negotiating incentives into these doctor's contracts to encourage international doctors to stay. While this is a big step, it is just the first step on a long road. We look forward to supporting our other health professionals, who want to tailor this program to their needs, and we know the needs to well beyond health care.

This year our new Immigration Office will work with other professional associations, education and training institutions, industry, labour, employers, MISA, and other settlement agencies. We plan to bring our partners together by the Fall. The goal is clear, we must identify the obstacles in assessing credentials of immigrants and develop an action plan to remove those obstacles.

[Page 7682]

I want to congratulate the College of Physicians and Surgeons, for we'll only succeed with the leadership and co-operation of professional associations and other partners. The college has set an excellent example.

MISA should also be acknowledged, not only have they been at the table for the CAPP discussions, but they have helped doctors prepare to succeed in the assessment. I want to congratulate Doctor Robert Maudsley, CAPPs executive director, who received a round of applause when he presented the program to stakeholders this morning. He also told stakeholders that CAPP is gaining attention around the world. Just this month it was presented in Italy and the Australians are particularly interested.

Nova Scotia is not just leading the country with this program, we are attracting attention around the world. Mr. Speaker, today we all have a lot to celebrate. I also assure all members of this House that we know the work cannot stop. We have to build on the success and that is my commitment. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, as far as this announcement goes I want to say that this is a good story for Nova Scotia. We have to recognize the efforts of MISA, and of the College of Physicians and Surgeons in this province. They have done a wonderful job over the last year or two, recognizing a problem, and addressing it through this CAPP program. I know specifically, I've talked to Jan Sheppard Kutcher from MISA about this recently, she provided me with some details.

I think it is a good program that will encourage more doctors, IMGs as they're called - international medical graduates - to come to Nova Scotia, particularly ones who have a lot of experience. The problem was, Mr. Speaker, we had these doctors with 10 years of experience as a cardiac surgeon or an anaesthesiologist in western Europe or Japan or Australia, or South Africa, who maybe wanted to come here and they couldn't without having to go through the whole process again. This will allow them to jump over a few steps and ensure that their standards meet our standards, yet they're going to be able to become doctors sooner, and that is good news.

But let me say this province is not a leader in the area, this has been done in Manitoba for awhile, Mr. Speaker. And on top of it, let's talk about what this government is doing, not the College of Physicians and Surgeons, not MISA - they seem to be going ahead and doing things to encourage immigrants to come to this province while this government and this minister continue to put roadblocks up for people who want to come to this province.

We all know full well that the Cornwallis group and the PNP has been a failure. That's not just me saying that, the executive director of his own program was on the radio this morning saying the fee structure we have for the Nominee Program needs to be reviewed,

[Page 7683]

because we've only had 72 come in here so far. That clearly is code - and you can clearly read between the lines, Mr. Speaker, that the program has been a failure. There's a need to review it. I'm glad to see this minister's department has recognized that and is determining a way to try to get out of that awful contract with Cornwallis so we can begin to have immigrants coming to this province, so that we can continue to secure the prosperity of Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise in the House today on behalf of our caucus and as the Immigration Critic to speak about the program to assess skills of internationally trained family doctors. I'd like to focus on the positive point about our non-governmental agencies like MISA, like the professional societies as well, the College of Physicians and Surgeons, and the good work that they're doing, really, to advance this province in terms of our integration and welcome of new Canadians.

The Office of Immigration is long overdue. It is a welcome step, albeit a small one. The government has decided to recognize the important contributions immigrants make to our province; in fact our municipalities themselves are taking a lead in these efforts to retain immigrants through the Atlantic Mayors' Conference, which is currently underway right now, on immigration, at Pier 21.

The government's new initiative is a good one, yet we worry about the immediate strain it may cause to the health care system, which is already in crisis. Mentors are the key to the success of this program. Although we know the quality and dedication of our province's doctors is second to none, I raise the caution about adding additional hours and tasks to doctors already under considerable strain in the ailing system.

Mr. Speaker, our caucus looks forward to seeing a plan from this government that will build on today's announcements - a detailed plan, one that includes protection in terms of work hours, and reward for the physicians, as well, who are becoming mentors. We know that well-trained immigrants are coming to our province, and we need to find more ways to integrate them into our professions in Canada. This step, today, is a small step, and we need many more. This is just the beginning. We look forward to our province's newest doctors joining our health care system, lessening the current strain, and helping to ease the current crisis in health care. (Applause)

[Page 7684]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4158

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

Whereas the Provincial Black Basketball Association will be holding its 33rd annual Black Invitational Tournament at the end of May; and

Whereas teams from all over Canada and the United States play in this annual tournament where Nova Scotians are a witness to some of the best amateur basketball in Canada; and

Whereas this is a memorial tournament that started 33 years ago to remember the contributions made to the Black community by the late Terry Dixon;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the Provincial Black Basketball Association on holding its 33rd annual Black Invitational Tournament and for showcasing Nova Scotians' basketball abilities to the rest of Canada and to the United States.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 4159

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

[Page 7685]

Whereas on March 11, 2005, the Preston-Cherry Brook Chapter of the Congress of Black Women of Canada held their 10th annual Night of Recognition for Women Who Made A Difference at the Nova Scotia Black Cultural Centre; and

Whereas this year's honoured recipients are Daisy Rosella Bundy-Grosse of Cherry Brook, Martha Brown of New Glasgow and Dartmouth, Jacqeline Cromwell of Upper Hammonds Plains and Dr. Agnes Calliste of Antigonish; and

Whereas Certificates of Appreciation were given to Phyllis March-Jarvis, Ruby-Ann Williams and Sonja Anne Williams for the contributions towards the night festivities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the four honoured recipients for continuing to make a difference in their community and for being strong role models for young African-Nova Scotian women.

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 4160

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

Whereas last year Nova Scotians demonstrated their faith in Nova Scotia by investing $3.2 million in Community Economic Development Investment Funds, making the 2004 tax year the best in the program's five-year history; and

Whereas more than 2,400 Nova Scotians have invested over $13.4 million in 26 of these funds since the program began in 2000; and

Whereas these funds provide jobs and valuable investment dollars for smaller, community-based enterprises;

[Page 7686]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate everyone who has developed and invested in Community Economic Development Investment Funds and encourage more Nova Scotians to develop more funds and invest more dollars in local enterprises so that we meet or exceed next year's program target of $4 million.

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 Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 4161

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

Whereas National Road Safety Week is a special week designated to focus on the safe driving practices and is timed in conjunction with Canada's first holiday weekend of the Summer when the motorists will be out in great numbers; and

Whereas the Department of Transportation and Public Works, along with the Road Safety Advisory Committee and the Canadian Council of Motor Transport Administrators, strive to create awareness of the importance of road safety; and

Whereas this province supports and is guided by Road Safety Vision 2010 - a national effort to reach the goal of making Canada's roads the safest in the world;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize May 17 to May 23, 2005, as National Road Safety Week.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7687]

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. 4162

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

Whereas the Cape Breton District Health Authority has honoured two individuals. Edgar MacLeod, Chief of Police, and Dr. Andrew Lynk, pediatrician, are the winners of the Donald Ferguson Health Leadership Award and Health Care Provider of the Year Award respectively; and

Whereas the Donald Ferguson Health Leadership Award recognizes Chief MacLeod's significant contributions to the protection of the public health, particularly in the area of family violence; and

Whereas the Health Care Provider of the Year Award recognizes Dr. Andrew Lynk as someone who demonstrates exemplary service to his community to raise the level of health care both provincially and nationally;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these two people on winning these prestigious awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

[Page 7688]

RESOLUTION NO. 4163

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board recognized that 75 per cent of their schools had obsolete fluorescent lighting; and

Whereas converting to more efficient T8 lamps and electronic ballasts will save the school board 28 per cent in electricity costs; and

Whereas the Department of Energy provided a grant to supplement their existing budget to expand this energy-saving project throughout the school board district;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board on their initiative to improve the energy efficiency of schools, thereby reducing the production of greenhouse gas.

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 Promotion.

RESOLUTION NO. 4164

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

Whereas suicide prevention is one of three priority areas of the provincial Injury Prevention Strategy, because we recognize that even one needless death is too many; and

Whereas our Coordinator of Injury Prevention and Control met recently with the staff of the Department of Health's Mental Health Services, at which time they agreed to work together to engage stakeholders in the development of a comprehensive suicide prevention

[Page 7689]

strategy beginning in June of this year with an expected completion date of December 2005; and

Whereas Health Promotion will provide leadership to this work, but it will be a collaborative effort with Mental Health Services and stakeholders from across sectors in which we will combine existing initiatives and strategies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the dedication of all those who will be involved in the strategy to reducing the number of suicides among Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4165

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

Whereas the Department of Energy is supporting the Nova Scotia Agricultural College to lead two climate change initiatives in the agricultural industry; and

Whereas the first initiative will reduce greenhouse gas emissions by increasing nitrogen-use efficiency to expand agriculture's economic competitiveness and lessen its effect on the environment; and

Whereas the second initiative will educate farmers on energy efficiency through an awareness program and the creation of a small wind generator at the Bio Environmental Engineering Centre in the AgriTECH Park in Truro;

[Page 7690]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the Nova Scotia Agricultural College for creating climate change initiatives that will increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions from farming activities.

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. 4166

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

Whereas Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue is celebrating its 27th year of operation in Lunenburg County; and

Whereas the life-saving services that are provided by this organization could not be carried out without the dedicated volunteers who make up this service; and

Whereas at its recent annual meeting Al Parsons, Cyril Mullins and Albert Rafuse were recognized for five, 10 and 15 years respectively, of dedicated service to the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly recognize the significant contribution that the Lunenburg County Ground Search and Rescue has made to our community and thank Al Parsons, Cyril Mullins and Albert Rafuse for their dedicated service over the years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7691]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[12:30 p.m.]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, before I introduce a bill, could I do an introduction in your gallery?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. COLWELL: In the Speaker's Gallery, representatives from the Beechville community have come today to watch the proceedings of the House. There is Ada Thompson, Ruby Farmer, Donna Symonds, Marjorie Wright, Doris Shephard, Joan Jackson, Sheila Kelsie, Eric Murphy, Michael Beals, Cecil Wright, Miles Parks, Carolann Wright-Parks, Clarence Wright, Charles Wright, Lorraine Hamilton-Higgins and Curtis Jarvis. I would ask the members of the Legislature to give them a warm round of applause and welcome them to the Legislature. (Applause)

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

Bill No. 216 - Entitled an Act to Ensure a Right of Way for the Beechville Baptist Church to Lovett Lake for Baptisms. (Mr. Keith Colwell)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4167

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

[Page 7692]

Whereas today's appointment of Belinda Stronach to the federal Liberal Cabinet increases the opportunity of approval this week for the Atlantic Accord and new money to improve access to higher education; and

Whereas members on all sides of this House have demonstrated a spirit of co-operation, giving a higher value to the common good than to partisan differences; and

Whereas the approval of measures that are highly valued by Nova Scotians still hang in the balance;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge all 11 Members of Parliament from Nova Scotia to support the Atlantic Accord and other positive features in the federal budget, recognizing that the opportunity to engage in a federal election will come soon enough.

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 Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4168

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 during the Premier's statement, he said, "I think we have to resolve the health care crisis"; and

Whereas the first step to resolving a problem is admitting there is one; and

Whereas the lightbulb has finally come on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand that the Premier act immediately to begin to repair the damage done by his government's mismanagement of health care in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7693]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, I would like to introduce Mat Whynott and Ashley Smith who are two members of the Nova Scotia Youth Advisory Council. For the members of the House, the Nova Scotia Youth Advisory Council is a voluntary group of young Nova Scotians that meets regularly to discuss youth issues and how they relate to government programs and policies. The council also acts as a sounding board for me in my role as Minister responsible for Youth.

Mr. Whynott is a political science student at Saint Mary's University who is extremely involved in the United Church of Canada and was also a member of the Nova Scotia Youth Tobacco Advisory Committee. Ms. Smith is a student at St. Francis Xavier University who has served as co-chairman and public relations representative of the Provincial Student Education Council.

I would ask Mr. Whynott and Ms. Smith to rise and receive the warm and congratulatory greeting of the members of the Legislature for their efforts to highlight the ideas of young Nova Scotians to government. Welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4169

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

Whereas two Kings County businesses won two of 13 awards presented annually by the Nova Scotia Resource Recovery Fund Board in mid-April; and

Whereas Valley Tire was named Nova Scotia's Tire Retailer of the Year and Scotian Gold Co-operative was named Business of the Year; and

[Page 7694]

Whereas Valley Tire has been operational in Kentville since 1974, employing 20 people, with a second outlet having operated in Bridgewater for the past 11 years, while Scotian Gold Co-operative presently has a full-time crew monitoring and maintaining its 20,000 apple bins;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend their congratulations to President Harold Quigley of Valley Tire, and his two sons Derek and Stephen, and to Scotian Gold CEO David Cudmore and operations manager Murdoch MacKenzie, for winning these two RRFB prestigious awards.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4170

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

Whereas Robert Frank is recognized throughout the world as a leading photographer in the 20th Century for his revolutionary style and for his master work, The Americans, published in the late 1950s; and

Whereas Robert Frank, who was described by Jack Kerouac as among the tragic poets of the world, recently had a show at the Tate Museum in London showcasing his photographs from the past 60 years; and

Whereas Robert Frank is a resident of Mabou and as a long-time resident of our province must be recognized for his contribution to art, not only in Nova Scotia but throughout the world;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Robert Frank on his recent show at the Tate Museum in London and recognize his contribution to the art of photography.

[Page 7695]

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: I'd like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where we have 25 students from Bridgetown Regional High School's Grade 9 Science Humaine class along with their chaperones Shirley Willet, Neva Westcott, Jack Westcott, Andrea McNeil and their teacher Madame Oldford. I'd ask them to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 4171

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

Whereas the state of the Mineville Road in Mineville is appalling, as illustrated on the Liberal caucus Web page entitled Neglected Road of the Week; and

Whereas the residents have taken it upon themselves to inform fellow motorists of the potholes and dangerous hazards created by the poor condition of the road; and

Whereas the community is growing and the traffic is increasing on a daily basis and the department staff have been trying to keep up with the ever-increasing number of potholes;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Minister of Transportation to act immediately to have the Mineville Road resurfaced.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7696]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4172

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation is now preparing for a 2005 season full of activity; and

Whereas Robyn Gillighan from Wellington enjoyed a successful 2004 season as she was named champion in the Small/Medium Pony Hunter division and in the Pleasure Pony Open division, while capturing Reserve Championship Honours in the Open Road Hack Pony Class, while Catrina Noonan of Beaver Bank won the Dressage competition in the 3rd Level Junior category; and

Whereas Robyn Gillighan was aboard her horse, Teddy Graham, in winning her two classes while placing second in the Open Road Hack Pony Class;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend their best wishes to Robyn and Catrina for their successful 2004 season, and wish them every success in 2005 and beyond.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 7697]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, before I do my resolution I'd like to draw the attention of members of the House to the west gallery where we have four representatives of the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society, the group that has distributed today the booklet that all of the members have on their desks. I would ask that Bev and Myah Rach, Carol Millett and Donna Mallone stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 4173

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

Whereas the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society was founded in July 1991 to show unity with people and communities of African descent in the struggle against racism in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society supports demands for change by First Nations and Aboriginal peoples and by people of African descent, and other races; works for change in its members' own families, communities and workplaces; and provides financial support and resources to specific struggles against racism; and

Whereas the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society has recently published a revised edition of the book Racism: Whose Problem? Strategies for Understanding and Confronting Racism in our Communities, written by Jocelyn Boyd and members of the society;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the efforts of the Metro Coalition for a Non-Racist Society to improve life for all Nova Scotians, and congratulate the coalition on the occasion of the republication of their book.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 7698]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 4174

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

Whereas former Conservative leadership candidate and MP Belinda Stronach has demonstrated true leadership and crossed the floor to become a Liberal Cabinet Minister; and

Whereas Belinda Stronach is putting her country before partisan political interest, unlike the members of her former Party; and

Whereas unlike Nova Scotia's Conservative MPs, who have cast their lot with the Separatists, Stronach is supporting a budget and a Party that will ensure the Atlantic Accord, money for education, money for health and, overall, a brighter future for Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Belinda Stronach for supporting Canada and, most importantly, the interests of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4175

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

Whereas one of the greatest honours is for an individual to serve as an elected official, municipally, provincially or federally; and

Whereas since 1758, more than 1,250 Nova Scotians have been elected as MLAs; and

[Page 7699]

Whereas the Government House Leader, also the member for Hants West, is presently the dean of this Legislature, serving 27 years as of 2005, and winning eight consecutive elections, now affording him the distinction of being the fourth longest-serving MLA since 1758;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate the member for Hants West on his outstanding contribution to public service in Nova Scotia.

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. (Standing Ovation)

Order, please. That will put the honourable Deputy Premier probably about halfway through his career.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4176

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

Whereas Roderick J. MacLennan of Truro has been named to the Order of Canada; and

Whereas Rod MacLennan is a Nova Scotian who has given, in exemplary measure, his time and talent for the benefit of others; and

Whereas Rod MacLennan has been a leader in many areas, among them the Boy Scouts, the Canadian Blood Service, the Dalhousie Medical Research Foundation, and the performing arts through the establishment of the Charles and Mary MacLennan Foundation;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Roderick J. MacLennan on being named to the Order of Canada, and thank him for his continuing commitment to improve the lives of Nova Scotians.

[Page 7700]

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.

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to make an introduction before I do my resolution. In the east gallery, we have students from the Political Science and Global History courses at Dartmouth High School, with their teacher, Don Houle; parents, Mr. Cochrane and Ms. deBoer; and Mrs. Collens, the Education Program Assistant. I would ask everyone to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4177

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

Whereas the 29th Model Parliament at Dartmouth High School was held April 6 to April 8, 2005; and

Whereas over 150 students were involved as MPs, Clerks, parliamentary press, sound and technical crew, Sergeants-at-Arms and Pages, with 10 community leaders as guest Speakers and Governors General; and

Whereas students, staff, parents and guests appreciated and learned from the high standard of research, debate and performance;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank all participants and their teacher adviser, Donald Houle, for the success of the 29th Dartmouth High School Model Parliament.

[Page 7701]

[12:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

RESOLUTION NO. 4178

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

Whereas the government has recently launched their new education blueprint entitled Learning for Life II; and

Whereas this plan, and indeed the government's most recent budget, are completely without vision or any kind of plan for post-secondary students in our province; and

Whereas the Department of Education obviously believes that learning for life stops at Grade 12;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House realize that learning is a lifelong process and, along with preschool to Grade 12, post-secondary education is also vital to the future of our province.

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.

[Page 7702]

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4179

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

Whereas the South Shore of Nova Scotia is blessed with many excellent artists; and

Whereas many of these artists share both their artistic talents and their cultural background with their community; and

Whereas Norbert and Helga Sattler established their first stained glass studio in Germany 25 years ago and, in 1993, moved to West LaHave, Lunenburg County, to open their second stained glass studio;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate Norbert and Helga Sattler on their 25th Anniversary of producing world-class stained glass artwork which can be found in churches, cathedrals and homes 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 Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I do just briefly want to mention that I, too, welcome the students and teachers of Dartmouth High School here today to watch the proceedings of this House. I also want to say that I've been honoured to be the Speaker of their Model Parliament each and every year for the last seven years, and I certainly have learned a lot over that period of time.

[Page 7703]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4180

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

Whereas Dartmouth High School has a strong tradition of providing its students with an opportunity to participate in the democratic process through its annual Model Parliament; and

Whereas these students create their own political Parties, learn about political representation, the role of government and the Opposition, and the need for parliamentary debate; and

Whereas this Model Parliament involves students in the political process, and thus helps society by reinforcing the democratic process;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the students of Dartmouth High School for participating in the Model Parliament and thank their teacher, Don Houle, for his continuing efforts to develop an understanding of the democratic process in his students.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 4181

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

[Page 7704]

Whereas La Bai en Joie, a dance troupe from Clare, recently participated in the British Association of Teachers of Dancing Festival of Dance on May 13 to May 15, 2005; and

Whereas La Bai en Joie placed first in their category, which included other dancing groups from Atlantic Canada, and had the highest mark for step-dancing; and

Whereas La Bai en Joie placed first amongst the Nova Scotia dancing groups that competed in the category of Nova Scotia's traditional dancers;

Therefore be it resolved that La Bai en Joie be congratulated for winning the BATD Trophy for the Festival of Dance Rose Bowl and for winning the Dance Nova Scotia Trophy for Traditional Dance.

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. 4182

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

Whereas students from Primary to Grade 4 at the Antigonish Education Centre raised $17,100 for the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation during their recent Jump into Fun fundraiser; and

Whereas more than 370 students collected pledges and jumped rope for an extended period of time to make the donation, which was almost triple the donation to the foundation from last year and was accepted by the Northeastern Area Manager Sabrina Vatcher; and

[Page 7705]

Whereas monies raised from such events like this stay in the province and are used by the foundation for research, education and other projects and how that the area manager pointed out that an amount like this is unheard of outside of the Halifax Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Primary to Grade 4 students at the Antigonish Education Centre and their physical education teacher, Mary Lou Cameron, and Principal Milford Austin for working together and having fun to make a generous donation to such a worthy cause as the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 4183

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

Whereas the Minister of Community Services apologized to this House for the unfounded allegations he made about the MLA for Halifax Needham; and

Whereas the minister then used the word "inappropriate" at least 15 times to describe his allegations; and

Whereas nevertheless that minister has gone on to repeat his allegations by endorsing them further in media interviews;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Premier and the Minister of Community Services to retract remarks about another member which are unfounded and in the minister's own words "inappropriate" rather than compounding the offence by repeating the allegation.

[Page 7706]

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 Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4184

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

Whereas Digby, Nova Scotia, is one of the most romantic towns in the world to live; and

Whereas Digby boasts about their world famous scallops and mouth-watering lobsters and their great whale-watching; and

Whereas the tourists who travel through Digby never forget the quaint atmosphere and the natural beauty that they have enjoyed;

Therefore be it resolved that every member of the Nova Scotia House of Assembly take the time to travel through and enjoy all of Digby and all that the surrounding communities have to offer.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

[Page 7707]

RESOLUTION NO. 4185

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

Whereas the Northside & Area Community Planning Group identified a need for an Entrepreneurship Program back in October 2000; and

Whereas Memorial Composite High School in Sydney Mines offered the course initially in 2003 to its Grade 12 students; and

Whereas this cutting-edge course introduces entrepreneurship as a viable career option and helps students recognize that they can create their own opportunities and enjoy more control over their destinies;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the Northside & Area Community Planning Group for their commitment to our youth and business community, as well as to Memorial Composite High School for their leadership and curriculum delivery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4186

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

Whereas Canadians are too often known for not promoting their own artists; and

Whereas talent is not bound by any particular geography or demographic; and

[Page 7708]

Whereas singer, songwriter, storyteller Rich Terfry, aka Buck 65, was born and raised in Mount Uniacke, Nova Scotia, and in 2004 received a Juno for Best Alternative Album, Talkin' Honky Blues, and was nominated in 2005 for Songwriter of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate this native son, Rich Terfry, and wish him well in all of his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4187

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

Whereas Brian White of the Millpond Road on Boularderie Island has successfully completed the required courses and credits to be a 2005 graduate of Cape Breton University; and

Whereas Brian White enrolled as a mature student as a result of a career change brought on by health reasons as a result of being an injured worker; and

Whereas Brian White successfully graduated with a diploma in Civil Technology and also a degree in environmental studies;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Brian White on his successful road to education and career change.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7709]

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 Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4188

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

Whereas in 1985, teacher Joseph Bishara and 12 students founded the Maple Grove and Yarmouth High Memorial Club, a volunteer group that performs services to veterans and seniors in Canada and especially in Yarmouth County; and

Whereas between 150 and 200 young people each year join the club that reminds Nova Scotians to thank a veteran, pray for our Armed Forces, be proud of our country and to never forget our valiant war dead; and

Whereas in addition to about 50 volunteer functions each year, club members undertake an annual trip to Halifax where their marching band performs at Camp Hill and at the Grand Parade;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Joseph Bishara and members of the Maple Grove and Yarmouth High Memorial Club for 20 years of invaluable community service and their unwavering dedication to Canadian seniors and veterans.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 7710]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 4189

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

Whereas Sharon D. Elliott has contributed hours of volunteer work in Annapolis County including her dedication and teaching skills with the Bridgetown Computer Access Site for four years; and

Whereas Sharon has worked since 1996 with the Bridgetown RCMP Foundation on a seniors', safety project, which also includes the involvement of the Annapolis West Health Foundation and the Soldiers Memorial Hospital Foundation; and

Whereas Sharon has sat on the Annapolis Community Health Board since 1999 and was and remains the first Chairman of the VON LIVE Advisory Committee;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly extend their appreciation to Sharon Elliott for her tremendous work ethic and volunteer spirit in Annapolis County.

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. 4190

MR. CHARLES PARKER: M. le président, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

[Page 7711]

Attendu que le Bureau des Affaires Acadiennes a offert de la formation linguistique en français par l'Université de Sainte Anne; et

Attendu qu'il y a une grande participation aux classes du mercredi soir, en particulier par les membres de la législature d'Eastern Shore, du ouest de Cap Breton, ouest de Lunenburg, sud de Cumberland, est de Pictou et ouest de Pictou, et avec l'aide compétent du professeur Alberto Boutet; et

Attendu que cette formation linguistique en français a enrichi les connaissances des membres de la législature aussi bien orales qu'écrites;

Qu'il soit résolu que les membres de la législature de la Nouvelle-Écosse remerçient le Bureau des Affaires Acadiennes pour avoir offert des cours de français aux députés.

M. le president, 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 Office of Acadian Affairs has offered French language training for legislators through Université Sainte-Anne; and

Whereas there has been a good participation in the Wednesday evening class, in particular by the members of the Legislature from Eastern Shore, Cape Breton West, Lunenburg West, Cumberland South, Pictou East and Pictou West and with the capable help of teacher Alberto Boutet; and

Whereas this French language training has increased the knowledge of MLAs in both the oral and written use of the language;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Nova Scotia Legislature thank the Office of Acadian Affairs for offering this French course to legislators.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 7712]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4191

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 Jonathan David Reid Wilson graduates on May 24th from Dalhousie University with a Bachelor of Science in Biology; and

Whereas Jonathan is the valedictorian for the Science class and has served as vice-president of finance and operations for Dalhousie Student Union; and

Whereas Jonathan has currently accepted a position with the Royal Bank of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jonathan Wilson for his success, and wish him the best in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[1:00 p.m.]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4192

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

Whereas a life of faith and serving is a blessing to many; and

[Page 7713]

Whereas Sister Claire Murphy of the Order of the Sisters of Charity has dedicated more than 65 years to a life of serving God and the people with enthusiasm, dedication, humility and humour; and

Whereas in April 2005, she was awarded the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for her dedicated work by the Sisters of Charity;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Sister Claire Murphy on receiving the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award from the Sisters of the Charity, and thank her for her years of faithful service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4193

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

Whereas St. Augustines Church was first established as a mission church in 1896, in a small stone building designed by William Critchlow Harris, on land donated by Sir Sandford Fleming, on a slope above the Northwest Arm; and

Whereas the church has since then served the people of the Arm Village and environs, although it moved to a new building in 1963; and

Whereas on Sunday, May 15th, Anglican Bishop Fred Hiltz presided over the dedication of a new stained glass window in memory of members of the Copus, McKinnon and Graven families;

[Page 7714]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Father John Scott and the families on the dedication of a the new stained glass window, welcome organist Barbara Wilson, and wish the parish continued good health in the years to come.

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. 4194

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

Whereas Duncan Roderick MacKay will turn 90 years of age on May 18, 2005; and

Whereas in August 2004, Mr. MacKay was a recipient of the Governor General's Caring Canadian Award, presented in recognition for his hours of volunteer service to his community; and

Whereas Mr. MacKay has also contributed over 50 years' service to the Masonic Order, over 60 years' service to Scouts Canada, and played a prominent role in the Whitney Pier Rink becoming a reality;

Therefore be it resolved that Members of this Legislative Assembly wish Duncan Roderick MacKay a very happy birthday, thank him for his commitment to his community and for his long-time allegiance to the New Democratic Party.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7715]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 4195

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

Whereas Nova Scotians have relied on volunteer firefighters for many years to help protect and serve their communities in time of need; and

Whereas this year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Sackville Volunteer Firefighters Organization in Lower Sackville; and

Whereas a sacrifice is made by both families and volunteers because of the commitment to education, training and answering emergency calls;

Therefore be it resolved that all Members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate the Sackville Volunteer Firefighters Organization on their 50th Anniversary, and thank the families and volunteers for their commitment to the safety and protection of the residents of Lower Sackville.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction.

[Page 7716]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Chamber, I would like to draw their attention to the east gallery. We have with us this afternoon, I guess it's half of the Grade 8 class that Mr. Rick Hiltz has the privilege of teaching. As the MLA for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I'm delighted to ask our young people and their four leaders to stand and receive a warm round of applause from the members in the Chamber. I would like to advise members in this Chamber that some of these students come from the communities of the Upper Stewiacke Valley, from the Town of Stewiacke, from Coldstream, from Truro, from Truro Heights, and a lot of the small communities in central Nova Scotia. I know the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill would like to personally welcome everybody here today. Please rise and receive a welcome from the MLAs. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 4196

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

Whereas on Monday, March 28th, on the Louisbourg highway, an accident involving two motor vehicles occurred; and

Whereas Jeff Ormond and Michael MacNeil arrived on the scene and helped pull the injured from the vehicles before one of the vehicles caught fire and burst into flames; and

Whereas the quick action of these two fine young men was instrumental in lives being saved at the accident scene;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Jeff Ormond and Michael MacNeil on their act of courage, putting their lives at risk to save the lives of others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7717]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4197

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

Whereas the backbone of any school is the secretary who ensures both students and staff are well taken care of; and

Whereas Mary Conrad, a long-time resident of Cow Bay, started working for the Halifax County School Board in 1975 at Tallahassee Elementary School; and

Whereas Mary Conrad is retiring after 30 years as a school secretary, the last 16 at Oceanview School in Eastern Passage;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the contributions of Mary Conrad and wish her all the best on her retirement after 30 years of service as a school secretary in Eastern Passage.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 1:07 p.m. and end at 2:07 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 7718]

NAT. RES. - C.B.: STRIP MINING OPPONENTS - CONCERNS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this past weekend I and my Cape Breton caucus members sat down and listened to the concerns of the Citizens Against Strip Mining. We left with an unequivocal message - they do not want strip mines. One of the greatest problems voiced by this group is they feel no one is listening to them and their legitimate concerns for the area's natural beauty, their water, their local fisheries and the poor track records of some of the proponents, as well as the poor work being done in vetting the proposals which have come forward. My question for the Minister of Natural Resources is, what process has been undertaken to ensure that these concerns have been dealt with and that the residents in the affected areas have been listened to?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I can assure him and all members of the House that this minister has listened to the concerns of the citizens, he has met with every group that's asked for a meeting. The good Minister of Environment and Labour has already announced - and, I think he's awarded the contract - a study on the coalfields in the Cape Breton area.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, in April 2004, a report on the tender evaluations - which I will table - looked at the original call for proposals in Port Morien and Boularderie Island blocks found that these proposals were lacking and the panel was left with three choices - they could ask the bidders for more information, they could reject the bids outright, or they could award the proposals to them because they were the only bidders. The panel, and ultimately the government, recommended option three, citing there were no other bidders. The proponents won by default. My question for the minister is, while there were other options available, why did you not act in the best interests of the people and rather in the best interests of the proponents?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I can assure all members that we are acting in the best interest of all Nova Scotians and we are looking at environmental concerns, human health and safety concerns in the area that we are discussing. That's why the Minister of Environment and Labour has introduced a study for the coalfields in the Cape Breton area and I'm waiting for the remarks to come back from the consultant on that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, their own tender evaluation said that more rigorous information was required. If I've learned one thing this past weekend it is that these people want their voices to be heard, not just listened to. So my question for the minister is this, how can the residents be expected to trust this department or this government when they have had little or no voice in the process and found out that the proponents of the projects are considered the best bidder only by virtue of the fact that they are the only bidder?

[Page 7719]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, well, I'm sorry but we cannot force the hand of private industry. If people wish to bid on a proposal, that is entirely up to the individual. I can assure you, and all members of the House, that there are mechanisms in place, safeguards, for these citizens, and for these citizens to be heard. All the proponent today has is the right for the resource. They have to go through an environmental assessment, which will be carried out by the Department of Environment and Labour. Those concerns of those citizens, I have forwarded on to the Minister of Environment and Labour. I can assure that member and all members that we take the concerns of the citizens at heart, and we will deal with them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CARE: SYSTEM - CONFIDENCE RESTORATION

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, last evening, the Premier stated that our health care system is in crisis. For the first time this session, perhaps the first time ever, the Premier has admitted his failure; five years of rhetoric, no plan to fix the health system in crisis. We've learned that a well-known cardiac anaesthesiologist at the QE II is leaving the public health care system. He's leaving the system with plans to take up duties at the private health clinic in Dartmouth two days a week. Our worst fears have now become reality, an overstrained public system becomes more strained with specialists departing for more lucrative and less stressful opportunities. The Premier is right, the health care system is in crisis. My question to the Premier is, what are you going to do, Mr. Premier, to restore confidence in a public health care system that is clearly in crisis?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is right, anaesthesiology is an ongoing concern of this government, of the district health authorities that are providing health care from one end of this province to the other. It is a vexing problem. The member opposite, as is his talent, outlines very clearly the problem. The government will deal with the solutions. One of the solutions we have is the aggressive recruitment program that's going on to bring more anaesthesiologists to the Province of Nova Scotia.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the Premier may have missed the point here. You have the best cardiac anaesthesiologist in the country leaving the QE II. Wait times for semi-urgent cardiovascular surgeries are already well above target. They'll only get longer as a result of that respected specialist's departure. My question to the Premier is, when is he going to take steps to fix an admitted crisis caused by anaesthesiologists and other specialists who are leaving or planning to leave the public health care system in this province?

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member, as the Premier indicated, is very good at outlining problems. We're working very aggressively with the district health authority in recruiting anaesthesiologists to this province. Our challenge is not

[Page 7720]

an isolated challenge. We're dealing with a shortage of anaesthesiologists, which is nationwide and, indeed, throughout North America. There is a challenge with respect to recruitment. We are really competing effectively with other jurisdictions. We will continue to do so, and we will continue to attract the best medical brains there are in the country to this region for the people of Nova Scotia.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, isn't it funny? Yesterday morning the health care system was fine; last night, crisis. This Premier created this crisis, and the people of Nova Scotia are suffering as a result. What happened to the John Hamm plan for health that we were promised five years ago? The Premier knows there was no plan. Wait times are going to start to get even longer if this Premier fails to provide a plan for health care right now. My final question to the Premier is, how can the Premier assure Nova Scotians shorter wait times when we already have a chronic shortage of specialists, doctors and anaesthesiologists who are overworked and apparently under-appreciated?

[1:15 p.m.]

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

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, imagine the source, talking about a crisis in health care. When this government came to office in 1999, they had chased out all of the nurses in this province. They chased out the doctors in this province. They left us bankrupt in human resources. We have been building that back since then and we have made an unprecedented commitment to health care in this province. We will continue to make that commitment and we have a much better health care system today than we inherited in 1999.

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

HEALTH - SURGERY WAIT LIST: SITUATION - EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is also for the Minister of Health. Lorraine Weatherbee has been waiting for hernia repair surgery now for 16 months. A month ago she was up to number five on her surgeon's waiting list, but in the meantime more urgent cases than hers have bumped Mrs. Weatherbee even further down the list. Her surgery has to be completed in Halifax and Mrs. Weatherbee is just one of many patients facing increased wait times due to the lack of beds and limited operating room time. So I want to ask the minister, why has the wait time situation been allowed to get to this point?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the wait time issue is something that we are working with the district health authority on. We're providing additional beds both within the system itself as well as long-term care beds. We do have a challenge, as was indicated in the previous question, with anaesthesiologists. That is being addressed. We continue to recruit very vigorously in that area and we are continuing to provide long-term care beds. We

[Page 7721]

are continuing to deal with the acute care bed issue within our hospitals and we will continue to work with the district health authority for the solution to this problem.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Mrs. Weatherbee's surgeon can only get six operating room days in the next three months. Even if the surgeon does two surgeries each day he has the operating room available, it could be the two-year mark or later before Mrs. Weatherbee gets her surgery. Meanwhile, her hernias are causing serious complications resulting in emergency room visits and, of course, deteriorating health. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why is your department moving so slowly on the centralization of wait lists?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we have indeed been working rather vigorously at addressing the wait time. We have put in place a wait time monitoring committee. That committee is operating. We are developing standards so that all people involved will understand both from the point of view of the professionals, the administrators, the patients, and that information will be made available. We will have a Web site up and operating in this province so that all people involved in the issue of wait time will have a real understanding of what is at stake each and every time.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure Mrs. Weatherbee will take great comfort from the fact that her wait time is being monitored. One of the biggest obstacles for major elective surgeries is the lack of hospital beds. In April of this year there were 140 beds at Capital Health blocked by people waiting for a nursing home admission. So my final question to the Minister of Health is this, when will he finally take action and free up the beds blocked by patients who are waiting for beds in nursing homes?

MR. MACISAAC: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would know as a result of the budget that he supported, and exercised good judgment in that support, that there was a reference to an additional 125 to 150 long-term care beds for the metropolitan area. Those plans we're proceeding with and those beds will be built.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - SYSTEM: SPECIALISTS - RECRUIT

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): My question is for the Premier. Core surgical procedures are under threat in a health care system that is currently in crisis. Anaesthesiologists are leaving, more may leave, recruitment efforts are failing, in the past two weeks we were told that the alternate funding agreement this government negotiated would require a specialist to honour his or her commitment to the public health care system. What the Premier failed to consider is what happens when a specialist tears up that agreement and leaves the public system permanently. So my question to the Premier, when will the Premier stop the bleeding of the public health care system and put forward a real plan that will retain and recruit specialists to Nova Scotia?

[Page 7722]

THE PREMIER: I could echo some of the comments of the Minister of Health when he described the situation in health when we became government in 1999. I could also remind the member opposite that he brings a problem to government, but I would ask that member and I would cause all members of the House to think about the solution of that member's Leader and that is to take $140 million out of the health care. What would that do to recruit anaesthetist? What would that do to shorten wait times? Because that is the position of the Leader of that member's Party, to eliminate the current funding of health by $140 million.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): This government can't recruit on a competitive marketplace, they can't retain valued specialists in this province, we need longer hours for anaesthesiologists, we offer considerably less pay than other jurisdictions in this province. If this situation continues, the system is going to implode, that's what will happen, the admission of a crisis is an admission of failure. I'd like to ask the Premier, what specifically does the Premier plan to do to address the very crisis that he has created by his own neglect?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite indicated that the pay scale for anaesthesiologists is one of the problems. Just think what would happen to that pay scale if we follow the advice of that Party and eliminated $140 million from the Health budget.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, $1 billion dollars more in Health and what does the Premier have to show for it? A crisis, after $1 billion dollars in Health despite the government's spin that everything's fine, reality is, it all came crashing down yesterday when the Premier admitted that we have a health care crisis. For six years, Mr. Premier, you have done nothing, absolutely nothing.

The government has condemned previous Premiers for spending too much on health without a plan but the Premier is unwilling to live up to a standard that you have set for others. Mr. Speaker, the emperor has no clothes. My final question for the Premier, you've had six years to head off this crisis, what are you waiting for?

THE PREMIER: I can reassure the member opposite that the thing I can do to best reassure that member that we will not abandon the health care crisis is to declare to that member that we will not follow his Leader's advice.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

HEALTH: BIOMEDICAL WASTE TREATMENT -

MEDIC DELIVERY PROPOSAL

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the conditional contract that's been awarded to many delivery services to treat biomedical waste in Mount Uniacke has a lot of residents concerned. They're concerned about the safety of the proposed plan and they would

[Page 7723]

like to have some more information. Last week in this House I tabled a petition with 1,065 signatures of residents against this facility's placement in their community.

A Halifax Regional Municipality report has said there's a risk that contaminants could enter the water supply and Mr. Speaker, I'll table that because I'll be referring to it again. So my question to the Minister of Health, will you release your department's assessment of Medic Delivery's proposal and outline the criteria used to grant the company its conditional approval?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: I'm not certain that I fully got the whole question from the honourable member but what I can tell the House is that we're in a process - a conditional contract was awarded. The conditions are that the proponent demonstrate their capacity to be able to deliver as indicated in the contract. That means they have to satisfy the environmental concerns and part and parcel of those environmental concerns are the comments and the sign-off from the medical officers of Health involved. That is part of the process. We will see how the process develops. It is in process and I can assure all members that every step will be taken to ensure the environmental issues are dealt with appropriately and included within that are all medical-related issues.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, about 300 people attended the community meeting held on this issue in Mount Uniacke two weeks ago. The bio-medical treatment plant that plans to locate in Mount Uniacke is going to handle materials that many in the community feel are dangerous. Residents here want to make sure there's a proper evaluation done. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, HRM has indicated, in that report that I tabled, that their information report to council is that the facility will be subject to a Class 1 environmental assessment process. Can the minister confirm this will be the case if this project goes ahead?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's true that there would be an environmental assessment of that project when the proponent brings information forward. That hasn't happened at this point in time.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the main issue here for the people is transparency. Residents feel they are being kept in the dark and they want to know more information about a plant that plans to treat bio-medical waste in their community and any potential risks. My question back to the Minister of Health is, will you meet with the concerned residents in Mount Uniacke as soon as possible?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that the area in question, the proponent is indeed making available information to citizens as part of the planning process out there. That is available. The environmental assessment is part and parcel of that. The comment from the medical officer of Health is part and parcel to that.

[Page 7724]

Everything that needs to be done is being done in terms of providing information to the citizens. I will certainly monitor the situation to satisfy myself that they have had every opportunity to learn about this process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - SKIN CANCER: PREVENTION - PLANS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Nova Scotia has the second highest rate of skin cancer in the country, a cancer that by and large can be prevented. Although you would never tell by the weather today, Sun Awareness Week is coming and the Canadian Cancer Society will be warning people that exposure to artificial tanning is just as dangerous as exposure to the sun. Governments are moving to better control exposure to artificial tanning devices, including regulations to protect youth and children under 18. My question to the Minister of Health is, what plans do you have to protect Nova Scotians from skin cancer?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member correctly points out, today is not the best day in the world to be concerned about this. The honourable member is indeed correct to point out that artificial devices are devices which if not used appropriately can potentially create problems for people. That is something that's necessary to make people aware of that and keep them aware of that. That is the objective of everyone involved.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the New Brunswick Government certainly understands the danger. It has a set of regulations controlling the operation of tanning parlours, including regulations that protect youth and children under the age of 18. My question to the minister is, will you follow New Brunswick and protect young people from endangering their health in these tanning beds?

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member, and all members of the House, is that we will certainly make sure that we are aware of what is being done in New Brunswick and give it very careful evaluation.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table for the honourable minister the New Brunswick regulations. The World Health Organization recommends that nobody under the age of 18 use artificial tanning equipment, and the Canadian Cancer Society and doctors who deal with the devastating disease really would like Nova Scotia to do the same. So I want to ask the minister if he will act to prevent skin cancer in Nova Scotia by regulating artificial tanning salons, including a move to protect children and youth under 18?

[Page 7725]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are always very concerned about any dangers youth may find themselves exposed to, and any steps that are being taken in other jurisdictions to assist in the prevention related to this issue is something that we will look at very carefully, and if it is appropriate for us to take action further than is currently the case then we will certainly want to give that very serious consideration.

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

ATLANTIC ACCORD - FATE:

STEPHEN HARPER - PREMIER TRUST

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the federal budget is getting closer to passing by the day, but it is clearly not there yet. The decision by Belinda Stronach to cross the floor to the Liberals was based on her belief that the budget was good for Canada, and her fear of a Stephen Harper separatist coalition. While Danny Williams has demanded that all Newfoundland and Labrador MPs support the budget and the Atlantic Accord, our Premier remains silent as we lose - as he has admitted - $1 million a week. My question is, why does the Premier continue to place the fate of the Atlantic Accord in Stephen Harper, when even Belinda Stronach said today that he is not to be trusted?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would dearly love to have the focus of this House on Ottawa rather than the goings on here in Halifax. What I can say is that this government has demonstrated and will continue to demonstrate that it will work with whatever government ends up in Ottawa and we will work with that government effectively.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, $1 million a week. That's the leadership that we get from this Premier - $1 million a week being lost. How ironic, that is the gang of three Tory MPs from Nova Scotia - Peter MacKay, Gerald Keddy and Bill Casey - hold the fate of the Atlantic Accord passing this Thursday. While Nova Scotians are looking, again, for leadership on this issue from the Premier, his silence costs us $1 million per week. We know that the budget vote and the future of the Atlantic Accord will be decided this Thursday, two days from now. So my question is, why won't the Premier stop rolling the dice on the Atlantic Accord and demand that the gang of three Tory MPs from Nova Scotia put Nova Scotia first and support the budget so we can enjoy those benefits today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it's interesting. There are mechanisms in Ottawa whereby the governing Party can deliver money to the provinces. For example, we did sign a health agreement and we are receiving the money, it was fast-tracked. We had an agreement on equalization, it was fast-tracked. There was an opportunity with the three national Parties back early in April to support the Atlantic Accord which, with about a six-week delay from the passage of that, the other hurdles would be cleared and the cheque would be delivered. Had that offer been taken, we would have the $830 million in our hand today.

[Page 7726]

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Danny Williams is a Tory as well and not once have we heard him chastising the federal government. What he has been doing is chastising his two Tory MPs and demanding that they put Newfoundlanders and Labradorians first, and vote for the budget on Thursday. That's leadership and that's a Premier standing up for the people of his province. Nova Scotians are expecting the same thing here in this province. Thursday is the day that we can have that $830 million, that cheque can be delivered to the Premier. So my question is, is the Premier's silence on this issue an admission that he is once again hoping to ride the coattails of Danny Williams' leadership on the Atlantic Accord?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the members of the government, the members who sit on this side of the House are extremely excited about the newfound enthusiasm of the Leader in the House of the Liberal Party for the Atlantic Accord. Where was that enthusiasm in 2001? Where was that enthusiasm in 2002? Where was that enthusiasm in 2003? He got enthusiastic after we signed the accord. He's nothing but a johnny-come-lately. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

GAMING CORP. - CASINOS: SALE - MIN. ADVICE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the minister responsible for the gambling corporation. Today we learned that a company called Great Canadian Gaming has entered into agreements to buy the Halifax and Sydney casinos. Starting today, Great Canadian will negotiate with the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation for a revised operating agreement. Now we all know that the current operating agreement is a bad Liberal deal that ever since it was signed has effectively shackled our ability to set our own course. My question to the minister is, what instructions will the minister give the Gaming Corporation to ensure that this time we get a good deal?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member indicated, it is an agreement between two corporations to acquire the assets of the casino. As the honourable member has clearly stated to this House, the agreement that was signed by the former government is moving on to that new corporation. What we have indicated to the Gaming Corporation is in the spirit of co-operativism, as they work with the new company, identify what we're doing with our gaming strategy, and work in co-operation with them to bring benefits to Nova Scotia.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that minister can't get out of it that easily, because this deal, this sale has to be approved by the gambling corporation. It is ironic that the Liberal campaign against VLTs can't apply to the casinos, because the bad Liberal deal basically exempts the casinos from any change in gambling laws. The bad deal has only been made worse by the attitude of the current owner, Caesars Entertainment, which has ranged from

[Page 7727]

hard-nosed intransigence to shoulder-shrugging indifference. My question to the minister is, what steps will the minister take to put control over casino gambling back in the hands of the people who own the casinos, the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, if his question was, was it a bad deal the former government made, I'll leave that for him to decide. What we will attempt to do is to work with the new company, to work in co-operation with them, to look at the range, so we can make the process and we can make this whole arrangement better for Nova Scotians.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, today marks the beginning of negotiations between the gambling corporation and the new owners, Great Canadian Gaming. The new owners expect to complete the deal in two to six weeks, but the government's scope of action is limited by this bad Liberal deal, because Great Canadian Gaming can just walk away if the new deal is too favourable to Nova Scotians. So my final question to the minister is, what criteria will the Cabinet use when evaluating this new deal to make sure that the new deal is better and not worse?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member outlined, we have an opportunity now, we have an opportunity in front of us to work with the new corporation, Great Canadian to improve the situation for people in Nova Scotia. The criteria that the Cabinet will use will be the criteria of what's good for Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

HEALTH - OXYGEN PROG.: LIMITATIONS - EXPLAIN

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Many low-income Nova Scotians with a disability or chronic illness rely on subsidized oxygen components of continuing care. This program provides stationary home oxygen equipment to their homes at a subsidized rate. However, these oxygen users are saying they cannot use the program to access portable oxygen tanks. My question to the Minister of Health, why is this present program limited to only stationary oxygen systems?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that that is the program that is currently under some review.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that's what I've heard before. I've heard that it was a matter of resources, and now it's currently under review. Hopefully, the minister will be able to respond to this second question. For a person who must have oxygen 24 hours a day, a portable oxygen system is not a luxury, it is a necessity. Many elderly and disabled people who need this service feel trapped in their homes because they can't afford portable tanks. They have to budget their time away from home, rationing their portable oxygen, if they can

[Page 7728]

afford it at all. I ask the minister, why would his department force home oxygen users to become prisoners in their own homes?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, it's a very important part of our strategy, with respect to individuals, to try to keep them in their homes for as long as possible and that is why the program that the honourable member is referencing is under review. We're always seeking ways to improve the situation of all citizens, and that will be assessed as we move forward.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, this cannot come too soon, and I hope the minister realizes that he does need the resources to address this issue because, as we speak in this Legislature each and every week, there is someone out there fundraising for a portable oxygen system. Portable oxygen tanks aren't just about increased mobility. Most stationary oxygen systems require electricity, and having a portable system as a backup in long power outages is critical until the person can seek assistance. My final question to the Minister of Health is, why won't his department help low-income oxygen users with the cost of portable oxygen tanks now?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member, it is a matter that is being given consideration.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

BEECHVILLE BAPTIST CHURCH: DEV. - PROTECTION

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of African Nova Scotian Affairs. The Beechville community is one of Nova Scotia's oldest Black communities and, indeed, one of the oldest Black communities in Canada. The Beechville Baptist Church has a long and cherished history dating back to 1844. For generations this community has used these lands for baptisms, to celebrate marriages, to worship, and to bury their loved ones. The land surrounding the community is now under threat of development. My question to the minister is, what steps has he taken to ensure that the rights of this treasured community to worship will be protected from development?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the member opposite. What I will tell the member opposite, and all Nova Scotians, is in March, when we learned of the issue, I directed our staff, the executive director of our office, Wayn Hamilton, who is a former resident of Beechville, to facilitate a meeting with the community groups. Wayn did that on March 17th. We continue to work with the community groups and through Wayn, to find a resolution. I understand this is a very serious issue in the community. I have personally visited the site and I believe we need to find a resolution. I understand the concerns of the community with respect to this issue.

[Page 7729]

MR. COLWELL: This community has touched the lives of many people throughout Nova Scotia and, indeed, North America. The community must be protected. Specifically what are the minister's plans to protect this sacred land from development?

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. BARNET: I appreciate the question from the honourable member. As I said, without being requested by the community, I immediately directed our staff to facilitate a meeting. We will do what we can in the Province of Nova Scotia to protect this community. I recognize the fact that this is a community that has seen tremendous pressure from development, both commercial and residential, and the shape of this community is different than what it looked like a decade ago. We will do what is necessary to protect this community and we will continue to work towards a solution.

MR. COLWELL: This whole issue is a much bigger issue. In the black community, a church is the heart and soul of the community and has been such since 1844. It's very important that this is protected, It's the historic rights of the community to worship in peace, it's a matter of our Charter of Rights that we have the opportunity to worship in peace as we have done and our ancestors have done, this is so important to this community. The minister promised action, it's just not enough, will the minister table his plan to resolve this problem this week?

MR. BARNET: Again, I appreciate the question. As I indicated, I have actually visited the site, I have met with a number of residents there, I have instructed our staff to begin a process of facilitation, they held a general meeting in the community on March 17th, and as I've said in this House, we will do everything in our power to protect the interest of that community and that is our plan and that is what we will do.

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

COM. SERV. - AFFORDABLE HOUSING PROJ. (LR. SACK.): CONSULTATION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): My question is for the Minister of Community Services. Earlier this year a 72-unit affordable housing project was announced for Lower Sackville. The public outcry was swift and strong, there had been no consultation and the proposed project would have impacted on a waterway. One week after the announcement, the department withdrew the proposal. So my question to the minister, why was this project announced without any community consultation?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there is consultation with the city, the planners, they were aware of it, it was zoned for that purpose and based on that, we made the announcement.

[Page 7730]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): The minister said with city planners and developers, what about the residents in the area? Even the minister's colleague admitted in the media what the minister won't, that his department failed to do the homework. I'll table the article, in it, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations said: Whenever we are proposing these types of initiatives, it would be important, I think, to go out and talk to the community in advance. My question to the minister, why didn't his department do their homework in the first place instead of creating such an uproar in the community?

MR. MORSE: Most cities have some sort of municipal planning strategy, they do consultations with the community as to what sort of development they want in their community and based on that they put a plan in place. That was done by the city and based on that plan we moved forward with the announcement.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): This is a provincial initiative program, the province should have to go out and speak to the residents in that area when they announce things like this. So far, under the federal-provincial housing agreement, we have two cancelled projects, 850 units instead of the 1,500 units we thought that we would have initially and provincial funding that will do nothing but fade away in about ten years. Nova Scotians who need affordable housing will be back to square one when agreements, many of them which the province already announced, dry up after ten years. I ask the minister, when is he going to show some leadership in dealing with affordable housing or get out of the way and let someone else do it?

MR. MORSE: As I have indicated here before and in some detail in estimates, that it's very clear that the best way to assist the lowest income Nova Scotians to obtain affordable housing - particularly for this particular affordable housing program - is by way of the rent supplement program. It has been acknowledged by independent think-tanks that this is a more efficient way of doing it, in fact, sometimes they are suggesting that the differential is 37 per cent effective if you're going out there and just building with bricks and mortar in other words, more public housing units versus the rent supplement.

We put this together and this is the approach we are taking. Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that, in fact, the federal Liberal Government is also now making this available to the provinces and territories as a way to implement the Affordable Housing Program.

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

EDUC. - TEACHER FUNDING: REDUCTION - EXPLAIN

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, declining enrolment is a problem in every school board in Nova Scotia. Projections show that in the next five years there will be 11.8 per cent fewer students in our public school system, and that equates to a total of 17,500 fewer students across Nova Scotia. Currently, the Department of Education reduces the

[Page 7731]

dollars that are transferred to the school boards for teachers' salaries based on their declining enrolments; that is, as each school board loses students, they're faced with a reduction in teachers as well. My question to the Minister of Education is, why is the government continuing to reduce the funding for teachers and forcing teacher layoffs when it's clear that the class sizes in higher grades are too high and course selection options are limited as a result?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of teacher layoffs.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it's my understanding that over 20 teachers will be laid off in the Annapolis Valley school board this year. Some others may be added to the head office, but the actual classroom teachers are down. The difficulty in continuing to cut the funding for teachers is that the higher grades are suffering. School boards are left with no capacity to lower the class sizes in higher grades, for example, in high school where we sometimes see classes of 50 students. High school principals in the Halifax Regional School Board are unable to offer their students a full 24 credits in the three years of high school because they are funded for only 21 credits, so students are being forced to spend free periods in the library or cafeteria when they actually want to be in class. My question is, why is the department continuing the practice of reducing funds earmarked for teachers when it's clear that under the current system we don't have enough teachers at high schools to offer full-course loads?

MR. MUIR: I met with the school boards on a couple of occasions and one of the things they talked about, indeed, was the desirability of a new financial arrangement when student population went down. This year in our budget, Mr. Speaker, as you would know, it had been based on a reduction of sort of one teacher per 25 students and it was increased, I think, up to 36 - now I may be corrected on that but that member voted against the budget which contained that improved provision.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I'll choose to stick to the topic at hand and that is the student/teacher ratio. The Hogg Report talks about a pupil-to-teacher ratio matrix and he recommends developing that so that it could be used for funding of schoolteachers' salary costs. This is my question, given that the Hogg Report has recommended that a pupil-to-teacher ratio should be developed, why is the minister not moving now to establish those standards and ensure adequate pupil-to-teacher ratios?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member will know and all members will know, we did receive the Hogg Report back at the end of December. Currently - if it hasn't started already, it will start in the next week or so - staff, along with Mr. Hogg, is going out and will be meeting with the individual school boards to ascertain that the recommendations that will affect any particular board are appropriate ones in light of the information that Mr. Hogg analyzed.

[Page 7732]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - LAKE MICMAC SILT RUNOFF:

DEV. PROJ. - HALT

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, for weeks silt has been running into Lake MicMac in Dartmouth. This is a serious situation that could have been prevented. For months, local residents and I have been calling for an environmental assessment to make sure the Highway No. 118 interchange and the related development is done right. Halifax Regional Council plans to call on the Minister of Environment and Labour to order an environmental assessment. My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, how much longer will it take for you to stop the development on this project and order an environmental assessment?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Certainly there has been some remediation work done on that site. There's been a third pond that's been installed. Those are the ponds where any of the runoff would filter through. We're content with the additional work that's been done, that there will no longer be any contamination of the lake.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I think that's the third question that came through this House on this very issue, and the same thing has been consistently said. The province and the federal government are now investigating the situation, yet much of the damage has already been done. We are told the runoff was caused by a combination of tree removal, grading on the site to get the land ready for the development and heavy rain. This situation could have been avoided. My question to the minister is, why wasn't your department protecting this lake from the start, and do you now recognize the need to change your procedures?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we certainly did address some of the issues that came up. Hindsight is 20/20, if we could go back, there are things that we would do differently, but those remedies have been installed. There's additional mulch over the land that has been grubbed off or turfed off. There is an additional settling pond in unison with two others, so there are three settling ponds, prior to any water being discharged. And there's additional work, fabric and hay bales have been put around, which we feel will take care of any runoff in the future.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to remind the Minister of Environment and Labour that this is a major watershed lake. Good planning makes sense, protecting our urban lakes makes sense, stopping development on the Highway No. 118 interchange until a proper environmental assessment is done makes sense. My question to the minister is, will you, at the very least, meet with the concerned residents, councillors in the affected area and MLAs as soon as possible to discuss what your department is going to do?

[Page 7733]

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I have already agreed to meet with a group, I don't know if it's the same group that the honourable member is referring to, but I have agreed to meet with a group to look at that situation.

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

COM. SERV. - DAYCARE INIT.: CONSULTATION - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Community Services. This government has been the beneficiary of two early childhood development and child care agreements, courtesy of the federal government. Unfortunately, the most recent agreement, signed yesterday, may be short lived, unless the Tory gang of three in Ottawa start acting in the best interests of Nova Scotia, instead of responding to the political opportunism of Stephen Harper. The first agreement yielded some improvements to child care in our province. My question to the minister is, how often did the minister consult with the Round Table on Day Care when he created child care initiatives under the first agreement signed with the federal government?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the first agreement, which is the early childhood development, was signed before I became minister, but with reference to the sector, I have created a table which meets on a regular basis. It includes both the non-profit and the commercial child care operators in the province, and also urban and rural. I must say that it's been an incredibly positive experience and I very much look forward to continuing to work with them.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the short answer to that would have be no meetings with the round table. The obvious answer is none, because they have had no meetings for the last two or three years. Now, as of two months ago, the last two terms of appointments for members of the round table have expired. The round table included representatives from the entire daycare community, including parents and staff. Its mandate was quite clear, to advise the minister on improvements and enhancements to the child care delivery system in Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is, why did the minister have so

little confidence in the Round Table on Day Care that he let the terms of its members expire?

[2:00 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure the honourable member will be pleased to know that in actual fact I have met with the ministerial round table and it was a very positive experience. It is now evolving into a ministerial Round Table on Early Childhood Development.

[Page 7734]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's a strange answer to the question when the fact is that he let the terms expire of the members on the round table. The minister needs all the help he can get when it comes to child care issues in this province. While the second federal agreement awaits the outcome of a budget vote on Thursday, this minister still needs help and there is still time for the minister to establish his advisory committee on early childhood development. My question to the minister is, will the minister commit here today that he won't disregard the input of the new advisory committee like he has ignored the Round Table on Day Care?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, first of all, I want to just point out to the honourable member that this is actually the third agreement that involves either early learning and early childhood development and now the new child care agreement that was signed yesterday with Minister Dryden. So it's the third one. We very much appreciate the input of the sector. It was great to have Elaine Ferguson there yesterday and I would say that in my closing comments I singled her out for her incredible contribution to moving this forward in working with the sector. One of the things that I very much enjoy doing is working with the round tables and the other various tables we have in place and I will certainly continue to do that in the future.

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

TCH - PEGGY'S COVE: RESIDENTS - OBLIGATIONS MEET

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. This government continues to heavily promote Peggy's Cove as a major tourist destination and the recent announcements about the transportation problems in that community were exceptionally well received. Yet when residents ask government to fulfill a 1993 commitment to assist with well and septic system upgrades, they are confronted daily by officials demanding immediate improvements. So my question to the minister is, is your government willing to meet the obligations outlined in the February 1, 1993, letter to Peggy's Cove residents which I will table for the minister's attention?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, indeed I was very pleased to have the opportunity to be in Peggy's Cove a few days ago and to announce over $800,000 in improvements to the Peggy's Cove area, including that of the visitor information centre, the parking area, as well as interpretation and signage, which is very good news for the people of that area. It comes as a result of a study which we put forward. Now, what I will tell the member and to all members of the House, we will certainly take a look at the letter being referred to by the member. We will review it and, of course, that type of discussion would have to happen with my colleague, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 7735]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Minister. Murray Garrison, a resident of Peggy's Cove, is currently the Chair of the Peggy's Cove Commission and one of the 40-plus year-round residents of this scenic village. Mr. Garrison wants his village to receive equal treatment compared to the community of Ingonish Beach where the municipal, provincial and federal levels of government assisted with a $2.4 million grant for a sewage and water system. Will you, as the minister responsible for the highly promoted destination of Peggy's Cove, immediately initiate negotiations with municipal and federal officials to assist Mr. Garrison with the issue of safe drinking water in the community of Peggy's Cove?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would refer that to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member opposite and to Mr. Garrison and to the residents of Peggy's Cove that we would be pleased to support an application for Peggy's Cove if the municipality were to put it on their priority list. We would look forward to doing that through the municipal rural infrastructure fund program that we anticipate we will be signing in the very near future to provide for services like sewer and water to communities like Peggy's Cove.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, the hand-off went to the wrong member in my opinion. On March 24th the members of the NDP wrote to the Minister of Environment and Labour asking him to intervene and I will table a copy of those letters and some other information that might prove of assistance to the members opposite. Environment officials have become regular tourists in the middle of the winter to Peggy's Cove, but they've offered no assistance. In fact, a letter included in the package from a member of your staff, Peter Poole, is confrontational, not helpful and, in fact, intimidating to say the best. So I'm asking the Minister of Environment and Labour, are you prepared to host a community meeting, attend with your officials to assist the residents of Peggy's Cove with their water and their septic system problems?

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of the letter which was mentioned, so I certainly would like to see that and review that. The department has been working with people out around the Peggy's Cove area and will continue to work with people in the Peggy's Cove area to try to ensure they have safe drinking water. We also work with Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations because that is the funding agency that is available for that infrastructure to be installed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park. You have about 30 seconds.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the residents of HRM are becoming increasingly concerned about the destruction of natural lands as the city's subdivisions spread out. Within HRM, there are considerable Crown lands that could be preserved for the use and

[Page 7736]

enjoyment of future generations. Blue Mountain-Birch Cove Lakes have been identified as one of those areas. Has the Minister of Natural Resources considered the importance of preserving these lands in the urban core of HRM?

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

The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with your permission I would like to do an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery today, I'm very pleased to be joined by the Honourable Bruce Fitch. Bruce is the Minister of Energy for the Province of New Brunswick and he's joined today (Interruptions)

Well, Mr. Speaker, it just highlights the type of regional co-operation we've been building on here. You know, it's not just electricity that can transfer borders, obviously, but Minister Fitch and I are part of the Atlantic Power Conference, and Bruce is joined by his assistant, Ian MacDonald. I'm very pleased to welcome the honourable minister for the Province of New Brunswick. If he would stand with Ian and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome these two gentlemen to the province and to the Legislature.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 7737]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:08 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Bills with Deputy Chairman Russell MacKinnon in the Chair.]

[3:53 p.m. CWH on Bills rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. James DeWolfe in the Chair.]

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

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

Bill No. 168 - Securities Act.

Bill No. 173 - Bee Industry Act.

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

Also, that the committee has met and considered the following bill:

Bill No. 153 - Public Service Act.

and the chairman has been instructed to recommend this bill to the favourable consideration of the House, with certain amendments.

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

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 7738]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 179.

Bill No. 179 - Self-managed Support-care Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm extremely pleased to rise and speak for just a few minutes on Bill No. 179, the Self-managed Support-care Act. It was 10 years ago that self-managed attendant care started as a pilot program under the previous Liberal Government. It was six years ago that the current Premier stated that a government under his leadership would ensure that the right care is offered at the right place, at the right cost, for the right reason.

Mr. Speaker, today, it's fitting that we debate a bill that ensures that an example of such a successful program will become a permanent program of government. For the individuals residing in the Halifax Regional Municipality who have been involved in a pilot program since its inception, their lives have improved, that has been shown. This bill ensures that disabled individuals, as of December 31st of this year, irrespective of where they live, will have the same opportunity as those in that pilot project. When you have a program that improves the quality of life and reduces costs, minimizes the number of visits, for example, to emergency rooms, prevents people from being improperly admitted to health care institutions, then that kind of a program can be nothing short of a winner.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize the efforts of the MLA for Annapolis in bringing forth and championing this issue and recognizing the importance of such legislation, not only to his constituents but to all Nova Scotians, as well. Today we have the opportunity to do a great thing in passing this bill. If we do that, we will ensure a province-wide self-managed care program with sustained funding. An elimination of this program cannot happen without approval of this Legislature, and we view that as positive. Most importantly, however, is the message we send to all disabled individuals who qualify for self-managed care. In six months' time, irrespective of where you live, there will be guaranteed monies available for you to access a self-managed care program. This is money that cannot disappear, and by passing this bill today, we, as legislators, would guarantee that the self-managed care program remains a permanent program of government.

We have managed to move a great program forward and we are proud, as the Liberal caucus, to have played an integral role in such a vital program.

[Page 7739]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: I certainly want to speak to Bill No. 179, the Self-managed Support-care Act. I want to tell you that when I came to this Legislative Assembly as a first elected MLA back in 1998, I happened to become the Critic for Community Services, and persons with disabilities, for our Party. It was during that period of time that I recognized the lack of services being provided to disabled persons by the Province of Nova Scotia, not only by this particular government of the day, but previous governments as well. Although I will acknowledge that self-managed attendant care came in under the Liberal Government through a pilot project where some 10 individuals were, in fact, the fortunate recipients of taking this pilot project on and being the benefactors of being able to manage their own care.

I think that we in government don't recognize strongly enough the importance of individuals who are disabled becoming independent, and to become as independent as possible. Even though you may have a severe disability, it does not detract or take away from your need to be as independent as other members of our society, and the self-managed attendant care program allowed that to happen. The reason I say that is because then, individuals for the first time in their lives, could set their own agendas and their own programs as to when they needed that self-managed attendant care and when that care could be provided.

I want to say that they even were able to go through the hiring process of being there to evaluate and assess the individual who would be their caregiver in providing that self-managed attendant care. I want to say that this structured their lives on an everyday basis and allowed them to be able to set their own agenda with respect to the activities that they may become involved in over that 24-hour period, over that week, over the years. So the self-managed attendant care program had been extremely successful through the pilot project.

I want to say as well that I thought that when I came to this Legislative Assembly - being somewhat green and not fully knowing the legislation - that I would have seen the disabled persons Act, an Act that would have provided services for people, and it would have been broken down into sections. There would have been components of that act which would have addressed issues such as health service, accessibilities, education, and employment.

AN HON. MEMBER: What about transportation?

MR. PYE: Accessibility/mobility is, in fact, transportation, so I want to make that clear. However, in my disappointment of not seeing a disabled persons Act, then maybe someday that will come to the fore, but it has to come to the fore with the support and the recommendations of the disabled community.

[Page 7740]

[4:00 p.m.]

Following back on that to Bill No. 179, in fact the self-managed care support program, I want to say that I sat in this Legislature and each year during budget estimates I would talk to the minister about providing additional funding for self-managed attendant care in the province so that other individuals who have already been through this pilot project could enjoy the benefits of being able to hire their own caregivers and setting their own agendas for how they wanted services provided to them. Each year as I stood here, I've listened to the Ministers of Health say to me that it was all a matter of resources and there were no additional dollars to provide the self-managed attendant care program to additional Nova Scotians.

I want to say this year there was a major surprise to me, however, it doesn't go anywhere near addressing the issue of making sure that there are full services provided to all those individual disabled persons out there who are requiring self-managed attendant care, it is a start. The Minister of Health announced a $500,000 allotment in his budget to address the issue of self-managed attendant care.

I'm not sure how many more individuals will be the successful recipients of these additional dollars, but it may amount to some 20 additional individuals over and above the 10 individuals who are now on the pilot project. I do want to say that with this piece of legislation, it has been extended province-wide. To make sure that every Nova Scotian who is disabled, who wants self-managed attendant care - not only those in the metro area of Halifax - are, in fact, going to be the recipients of this program, $500,000 is not a lot of money, but it is additional dollars and it will help jump-start this self-managed attendant care program.

I do want to say to the honourable member for Glace Bay that I wish I myself would have brought this piece of legislation forward because this is a good piece of legislation. It's an encompassing piece of legislation and it guarantees and assures everyone across this province that care will be available to them. I want also for the member for Glace Bay to acknowledge and recognize that I in this Legislative Assembly - and I know myself that honourable member does - and my Party have consistently brought this issue before the legislative floor for the last seven years.

I think that that's the beauty of minority governments. There are issues that sometimes the only way they're brought forward to government is via legislation. If that is needed by legislation, then that's the way we have to work; most importantly, that's the way we must go. In this piece of legislation, I'm here to say to that honourable member that we are certainly supporting this in principle - the piece of legislation that is before us, Bill No. 179.

[Page 7741]

I want to say to the minister that I do have some concerns. The concerns I have - this is obviously not a question, but I just want to make sure the honourable minister is aware that there are people out there with expertise in providing this program to Nova Scotians. When I talk about individuals with expertise, I talk about the Independent Living Resource Centre and Lois Miller who is the executive director of their board. I can fully understand why the minister would want to - since this is going to be a health service program - that the minister would want to bring it into the health service program because from this day on it's going to be a continuous program and the minister needs to have some control over that program.

I also understand that if the minister sees the need for positive change, or proactive change within his department, which is going to provide the self-managed care service, that in fact there is a need for expertise, and we recognize that the minister will do that. However, I would want the minister to acknowledge the tremendous work done by the Community Independent Living Association and I do know that the honourable members across the floor, the Third Party, have recognized the tremendous work done by the Community Independent Living Association, Lois Miller and its board. In fact here last week, they were introduced by the Third Party and there were members in the public gallery whom, in fact, were acknowledged for their contribution and their expertise in this pilot project of self-managed attendant care. There is no other organization across this country that has actually put so much devotion and attention into providing self-managed care services and it is not only operated here in this province, but in other provinces by the Community of Independent Living.

When we make legislative change, we have to speak to those individuals who are experts in the field. We have to acknowledge the contribution that those individuals have made with respect to developing, providing input, and making adjustments and making changes. That, in fact, would show that we can deliver the project in the most effective, efficient way possible, and that is to the benefit of all Nova Scotians. In this piece of legislation we talk about the kind of care that should be available to the individuals here. I do want to say, Mr. Speaker, that in some sense I'm pleased that it is this government that has brought it forward. Because if we would have waited until the Third Party got elected, there is some talk about them moving $140 million out of health care and that may have affected the delivery of this self-managed attendant care program.

I am saying, Mr. Speaker, that's what may have happened. We have also known that when in fact the former Minister of Health under the Liberal Government, Dr. Jim Smith, wanted to borrow the $640 million to enhance the health care program, there was no mention of the self-managed attendant care program at that time. So I do want to say that it's this government, it's the Third Party who now recognizes the importance of investing dollars into health care and we need to know, and I'm not playing politics when I stand before this Legislature, but I'm saying that we need to know, and Nova Scotians need to know, what will be cut from the health care budget if in fact this political Party comes to power. I think that's a genuine question that all Nova Scotians are now waiting for, because if we find that there

[Page 7742]

will be a need to cut programs and services, I would certainly hope that it is not one of those programs that are cut.

Mr. Speaker, the self-managed attendant care program - and we have heard of individuals, as a matter of fact, I most recently talked to an individual who had moved into an apartment. He brought his self-managed attendant care services into the apartment that made some significant adjustments to the individual's lifestyle. He was extremely pleased that this individual could sit down and talk, look at the possible changes knowing full well that these changes would result in a positive lifestyle for that individual.

The parents of the individual were a bit concerned at the beginning. They were concerned that there may be difficulty in allowing individuals to select their own care providers, there was difficulty in whether there would be individuals who could provide that service and what would happen to them when they were out there alone. However, the self-managed attendant care program is one that allowed the individual to say, look, just because I'm disabled doesn't mean that I'm incompetent, I'm competent enough, I can do my own hiring, I can recommend my own particular needs, I can set a timetable and an agenda when I need those particular services, and I will set a timetable and an agenda when I need you.

Now, I can tell you that this is a tremendous change in the life of a disabled person, and those 10 individuals in the pilot project who have been in this province for some 10 years - although the honourable member who introduced the bill said it was some 10 years ago this year, I believe that it's actually 11 years, that actually 10 years was last year when the pilot project had reached its anniversary date of 10 years. That would have been the appropriate time for review. I think, obviously, it was the appropriate time for review.

The minister and his department certainly looked at the positive entities that can be provided by self-managed attendant care. Obviously, the department, this year, recognized that by - and I don't want to repeat - once again stating that they have included an additional $500,000 in their budget to direct self-managed attendant care to all Nova Scotians. At that time, it wasn't to all Nova Scotians, but this bill perfectly spells it out, that that care service will be provided to all Nova Scotians from one end of this province to another.

I can say to you, Mr. Speaker, and the Members of this Legislative Assembly that it is my hope that the Department of Health will constantly review the self-managed attendant care service and look at any modifications or needs that may be required to improve those services, and come back next year during budget estimates with those modifications, changes and needs that they have identified as beneficial to the recipients of the self-managed support care service.

[Page 7743]

What can I say? I can say to the minister, yes, after these budget estimates I'm pleased to see that those additional dollars are there. I am pleased to acknowledge that the honourable member for Glace Bay has in fact brought this legislation and that it's not a partisan piece of legislation, and it benefits everyone right across this province.

I'm concerned, because I don't want these individuals to be left out of the decision-making process. If, in fact, we do not consult with the community of independent living, whose expertise, hopefully, the minister and his department will obviously consider and look at, then I think we're providing an injustice.

[4:15 p.m.]

We also need to know that, hopefully, somewhere within the bureaucracy that the board of the self-managed attendant care can in fact be apprised of what's going on and maybe even incorporate it within the department to continue on with its delivery of the service, because I don't profess to know a whole lot other than what the individuals have brought to my attention about the success of this program for them. I do know that, in fact, the community for independent living does have the expertise in this field. I do know that they know the best utilization of these resources, and their communication with those 10 individuals who are part of this pilot project now and the kind of changes that they have gone through and the number of recommendations that they can possibly relay to the minister to assure him that here are some of the pitfalls, here are some of the changes, here are some of the adjustments we have made to accommodate that pilot project program so it better benefited the persons who are in need.

I also know there are a number of Nova Scotians out there who are waiting to be the recipients of the self-managed attendant care program. We don't have a number as to how many Nova Scotians this might benefit this year other than to say there might be some possible 15 or 20, but we really don't have a full number right across the province of the number of individuals who are waiting to be able to tap into this program. I've asked the minister, I do believe through budget estimates, whether he had a number and if he could relay that number to us. I think the minister said that it was still in progress, that they were looking at trying to establish a realistic number, and that once that number was finalized they would have a better handle on what kind of resources are needed to continue to provide additional funding to this program.

I do say that - as I said earlier - it would have been my hope that this would have been one of those items covered under a disabled persons Act. That was not to be, it is not here, hopefully someday we will see a piece of legislation that addresses all the issues of disabled persons and that the disabled community can say this is a piece of legislation that is ours, rather than piecemeal pieces of legislation across governmental departments - in fact, one day I would hope that we would see a ministry for disabled persons.

[Page 7744]

In this province there is some 21 per cent of our population who are disabled. Now there are varying degrees of disability and that number is accumulated in that number of the 21 per cent, from my understanding. So with those varying degrees of disability we could recognize that it has the potential to grow, and the reason I say that is because we're coming up with an aging population as well, and that aging population might very well be part of this self-managed care service program.

I can only tell you from what I've heard out there in the community is that this program is long overdue and that the individuals in this community have been waiting for such a program. I want to say that I am very pleased to have continued to fight for approximately seven years on this particular case, and I'm pleased to see that members of the other Party, in fact, have carried this challenge, the members of the Third Party have carried this challenge as well, and I do want to say that the honourable member who brought this piece of legislation forward also has members of his Party who would like to probably speak about this issue.

It would be remiss of me not to mention the member for Annapolis. I believe the honourable member for Annapolis has talked about this self-managed attendant care program on a number of occasions in this Legislature and actually has brought questions forward as well to the minister. This is obviously a recognizable need right across this province, not just in one area. That, I believe, helped in bringing forward this issue and hopefully, the government will have a change of heart and bring forward this piece of legislation today.

Private members' bills are bills that normally have a difficult time coming through the legislative floor. I think we all recognized that when there is a good piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that helps most Nova Scotians - particularly the most vulnerable Nova Scotians - and provide to them a quality of life, then I think this is the kind of legislation that we - I don't think that I know this is the kind of legislation government recognizes is important to deliver to Nova Scotians.

With that, I will relinquish my time to another member. I want to say, this is a good piece of legislation and our Party will be supporting it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased today to rise and just say very few words on Bill No. 179, the Self-managed Support-care Act. I want to thank and congratulate my colleague, the member for Glace Bay, for championing this cause inside of our Party and inside this Legislature. As well I think it's important to recognize the Minister of Health who has listened to debate that has taken place in this House and listened to questions and realized the importance of this piece of legislation.

[Page 7745]

There are people all across Nova Scotia, including the people involved in the community for independent living that need to be recognized. In 10 years of piloting this program, 10 years of fighting to ensure this piece of legislation got to the floor of the Nova Scotia Legislature at some point, there are people like Rick Laird who I've spoken about in this House, there are other people with disabilities around Nova Scotia who have come out in support of this Legislation and have told their story - not because they want to be involved in the press, but because they recognize the importance of having independence. They recognize this piece of legislation will give them the independence they deserve, the quality of life that each of us take for granted.

This piece of legislation will allow them to control their own destiny, control their own day. For many of them, it will allow them to go to work, it will allow them to get a job. For some of them, it will actually allow them to show up at their children's school. What more could we ask for in this Legislature than to be able to return to Nova Scotians that kind of quality of life?

One of the things that was mentioned in the debate by the member for Dartmouth North was about removing money from the health care system. I want to tell you, the beauty of this piece of legislation is that it's a win-win, this saves the government money. This will save the government money, not only this year, but for every year here on in. Not only will it do that, but it will turn us to what we really should be concerned about and that is the quality of life that we are trying to provide for Nova Scotians and people with disabilities. (Applause)

I just want to say, as this moves forward and I sit here and I have been reflecting on Rick Laird because he's a constituent of mine that I know personally and I know the impact this will have on his life in the coming years. I hope all members of this House, as this piece of legislation moves forward, think of constituents of theirs that will benefit from this program. This program - as far as I'm concerned, it's one of the issues that I first brought to this House - if nothing else happens, I've been part of, I hope this will become legislation at the end of the day and I can say I had some small, small role to play in this, because this truly will improve the lives of people with disabilities in Nova Scotia.

With those few remarks, I will take my place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have this opportunity to speak to this bill. This is a program that the government wants to offer to Nova Scotians, as has been pointed out by previous speakers, and because of that, we're very pleased to be able to support the principle of the bill.

[Page 7746]

Direct funding options are available in a number of Canadian jurisdictions and they are known to best serve the needs of individuals with a physical disability or require support services. That is why, in the budget, the Health Department is allocating $500,000 to expand this approach. We will finalize the details and implement the expansion of direct funding to more Nova Scotians this calendar year.

As has been pointed previously, nine individuals currently receive Department of Health funding for their care services through a pilot program. This pilot program is currently being administered through the Halifax Regional Municipality's Independent Living Resource Centre. We very much appreciate the work they have done over the past 11 years, and we've learned a great deal from them. The new program will be accessed through the Department of Health's continuing care single entry access program like the department's other continuing care services in the province, such as home care, long-term care, and adult protection. This is in keeping with other jurisdictions across the country.

However, Mr. Speaker, we recognize and appreciate that those who are receiving care through the pilot program may wish to continue to do so, and we are making that option available. Those nine Nova Scotians will have the option of continuing to receive this service through the Independent Living Resource Centre or transition to the new program. We know the centre will continue to act as a positive and helpful resource to the disabled community.

Under the program, the Department of Health will provide funds directly to the client so that he or she can then, in turn, employ care providers to meet his or her individual needs. Mr. Speaker, this direct funding option promotes and supports individual initiatives of self-reliance, self-sufficiency, and responsibility. The Liberal Party's intent is to ensure the program is expanded to help a larger number of Nova Scotians. We made a commitment to do this and we stand by it, and we have no trouble supporting the principle of the bill. We may recommend some changes to ensure it aligns with the previously-stated intent of this program.

In closing, Mr. Speaker, I would like to remind Nova Scotians that this Spring and Summer we will be reaching out across the province to talk about what we want to see in home care and long-term care services and programs that we offer. Their input will further help us in planning service options and supports to Nova Scotians. I'm very pleased to support this bill and see it move forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I too would like to take just a few moments of the time of the House to speak on this legislation. The Independent Living Resource Centre is my neighbour, I guess I would say. We share the same office space in the Bloomfield Centre, they're just down the hall from me, and I see Lois Miller and many members of her board and people who use the centre on a regular basis. I know they have

[Page 7747]

worked tirelessly to raise the awareness of all the members in the Legislature about the importance of this program and what it means for those members of our province who live each day facing the challenges of being fully participating citizens of this province when they have a disability.

Mr. Speaker, sometimes I think that it's fortunate for governments, I suppose, that we don't have a strong public interest advocacy centre staffed by lawyers or a program like this might not be able to be in existence as a mere pilot project for 10 years. This program was introduced 10 years ago, as the Minister of Education is nodding his head, he knows, and for 10 years, only 10 people have been able to get access to self-managed attendant care which I think could have raised the very real prospect of a human rights challenge or Charter of Rights and Freedom challenge. After all, what this does is it sets up entitlement to a program and services that will be available for one group of people but really leaves a very large number of people who have equal needs and similar circumstances outside the ability to access a program like this.

[4:30 p.m.]

This is a very important initiative to move beyond the pilot project status of the self-managed attendant care program that's been here for 10 years and to actually start looking at those members of our province who have a disability as full partners, full citizens, people who require particular kinds of support, so that they can fully participate in their communities. In the course of doing some outreach work on a variety of health care issues including the Mental Health Act which we'll be talking about shortly, I met a woman in the Yarmouth area, who's name I can't use because I don't have her permission , but I have to say she was very inspiring - she inspired me. This was a woman who, for years, worked in a small options home as a caregiver, as a support person and when I met her in Yarmouth earlier this year, she was no longer able to be in that position, she had MS and the MS had progressed to the point where she is incapacitated in many respects and in a wheelchair.

She's 40 years old and she had home care that came to her house at eight o'clock in the morning and got her up and assisted her bathing and dressing for the day and came back at eight o'clock at night and put her to bed. What she expressed to me around those circumstances was chilling, to think of a person so young, still very much in capacity in terms of her intellectual capability and capacity, her interests in her community, the things that she wanted to participate in. Also, some of the disabled groups in the area that she was involved in and the enormous contribution she had already made to her community as a caregiver and an advocate on behalf of people with disabilities. When I was in Yarmouth I was told she had been acknowledged at an awards ceremony some years earlier, not all that long earlier, for her advocacy in terms of getting accessible crosswalks and sidewalks for people with disabilities in the area of Yarmouth, never thinking that one day she would be a person with a disability, in a chair and, in fact, would benefit from that kind of work of her advocacy.

[Page 7748]

Here she was, 40 year old, having to go to bed at eight o'clock at night. This is the kind of person that a program like this could help. With self-managed attendant care this woman could decide that some Friday evening she's going to have a group of friends into her apartment, have something to eat and listen to some music or watch a DVD and not have to be in bed at eight o'clock at 40 years of age. She's not a child, people with disabilities are not children. We need to respect them as full participants in our community and in our province. If that requires the expenditure of some resources in order to make that happen, then I'm all for that.

Mr. Speaker, I think that we have to accept that there are some things that do cost money, but if our values tell us that those are the right things to be spending money on, then I'm all for that. I would think that you don't have to argue strenuously that spending money on a woman like this, so she can have some quality of life is something that we could all support. We probably could support that rather than spending money on some of the foolish advertising that we see coming out of government sometimes that's no more than self-congratulatory bafflegab that nobody remembers one week after it's been released.

I did want to say how important I think this self-managed attendant care is. I want to congratulate the member for Glace Bay for bringing this forward. I want to thank the government and the Minister of Health for recognizing that the time has come to move beyond a pilot project. I want to say, as well, to my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, who has frequently dropped in to my constituency office on his way to the Independent Living Resource Centre, that I've appreciated, over the past seven years of being here, his strenuous advocacy on behalf of people with disabilities. He, too, has pushed for the expansion of this program, beyond a pilot program. With those few words, Mr. Speaker, I will take my place.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I think that many of the members in the House today share my enthusiasm for this bill, and recognize that this is a wonderful step forward for the government to finally extend and expand the self-managed attendant care that's available in the province. My own experience is based very much on a constituent basis, on the issues that have come to me as an MLA in the area. In the cases that I have dealt with, it has been so painfully clear that we needed this very much. We needed choice, we needed flexibility, we need to empower people so that they can have more control in their lives and set their own time frames and dictate, in a sense, their own needs, so that they can be met.

For some people, the current available home care just doesn't do that. In the case of one of my constituents, who I won't name today, his care was very much compromised by the fact that he worked shifts and worked nights, and wasn't able to get the home care at the right time of day. He really needed to sleep until about one o'clock or two o'clock in the afternoon and that split a shift for the nursing company that would be coming in to do the

[Page 7749]

care, and that didn't work for them. Therefore, he, in fact, had to stop work the last few months, because he just couldn't do it.

It's really just a question of being able to dictate the time at which the caregiver arrives. Under a program like this, he would have control over his life. We're talking here about quite a young man, who has a job, who contributes, who is part of our community, who, as I say, pays his taxes, and has really had his life and his choices curtailed. A program like this can really address that need. I do want to thank the Minister of Health, who has dealt with me specifically on that issue, and I'm sure on many others of that nature. What is so obvious was that under the existing tools available to the Minister of Health, he wasn't able to find an alternative, because our programs and our available array of existing policies and programs didn't provide an alternative.

Now we have that, by expanding this pilot project that has been in place for 10 years, albeit by doing it a different way, by now making it part of the Department of Health. At the same time, the recognition is there, that this needs to exist, that it needs to be expanded and, again, that the pilot project has been an irrefutable success. We've known that, and we know that it saves money for the province in the long run. So not only do you have people who are able to live fuller lives as a result, which is our biggest goal, you're also doing it in a very cost-effective way. You're allowing the Department of Health to respond and meet needs that are tremendously important in our communities.

Certainly, as many of us get older, we need more flexibility, we need more programs, because we're going to have people who have various needs to be met in order to continue to be functioning and fully part of our lives and our community. This is a wonderful step forward - as I say I am very pleased that the government has listened to those needs and really recognized the importance of them, and responded to the cry for help from people with disabilities who've asked for more say in their lives and who've asked for more control over how care is provided for them. I think that this is a very positive thing, and I think that the flexibility in the options that it offers is going to be such an improvement over what is currently available. I do want to fully support this bill and thank the government for bringing it forward.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: I'm just going to take a couple of minutes and then my colleague has some comments that he would like to make on the bill as well.

I'd like to put on the record that one of my constituents, Mr. Kevin Murphy, was one of the strong proponents of this bill and he's the success story that really should be told. I know that he was here at the Legislature when this was introduced and he was the young man who unfortunately suffered a very serious injury as a result of a hockey game he was playing

[Page 7750]

in. He was a very promising hockey player and as a result of that he ended up in a wheelchair for the rest of his life.

Mr. Murphy was a strong proponent of this and one of the original people who started on the program when it was initiated. As a result of that, has lived a normal life, and he has since gotten married, is starting to raise a family, has a new home, runs a very successful business and all the things that we would hope would happen to individuals who had this type of unfortunate incident happen to them. I just wanted to put that on the record today.

The program does work and if we can even help one or two more people to get to the level that Mr. Murphy has attained, I think that this program is worth the time, the effort, the money and everything else that will be necessary to put into it by the people of Nova Scotia and the government opposite. I just want to thank the government for calling this bill and making it possible for many more Nova Scotians to live a happier life than they possibly could any other way, and with that, I'll hand it over to my colleague.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Just short and to the point. I'd like to take the opportunity to remind the members here to put themselves in the position of the people that this will benefit. I think of my own constituency and I'm quite familiar with a gentleman, probably in his early 40s, who is confined to a wheelchair, has a limited mobility, but he does have some mobility. Another constituent of mine is confined after having MS and also suffering a stroke, and is confined to a wheelchair - and then I think of a lady, a good friend of mine, who has two daughters who are both in wheelchairs.

If people think that they have problems today they should shake their head a little bit, because what these people have to overcome on a daily basis and the way it is existing now is to think of yourself if you had to shave, wash, get dressed on somebody else's schedule. What inconvenience, what embarrassment, what lack of freedom you would have, and then you're taking these people now and allowing them the freedom that we enjoy, just the fact of being able to wash, shave, dress, come and go when you and I feel like it or when they feel like it. I believe that this is legislation that is long overdue and I appreciate the government bringing it forward. I think this will pay dividends in the end.

I don't intend to repeat what other speakers have said, but I'm very pleased that this legislation has been formulated, is coming forward and I look forward to it passing in the House and becoming law.

MR. SPEAKER: If I recognize the honourable member it will be to close the debate.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 7751]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of Bill No. 179.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 179. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

[4:45 p.m.]

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Public Bills for Second Reading.

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 203.

Bill No. 203 - Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I move second reading of this bill. The new Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act guarantees that Nova Scotians who are unable to make treatment decision because of a mental illness get the treatment they need when they need it. This bill replaces mental health legislation that I introduced in the Fall of 2004.

Mr. Speaker, while the initial legislation introduced last Fall was created after in-depth consultation with legal experts, mental health experts, mental health advocates and consumers, it was clear from the discussion and debate it prompted that more consultation was advisable. To that end, the Department of Health held a full-day conference this past February that focused on the building consensus on what is needed in this province in terms of mental health legislation. This forum was an opportunity for over 200 health stakeholders and mental health consumers from across the province to influence mental health care in this province.

[Page 7752]

Mr. Speaker, the conference provided expert and balanced views on mental health legislation across the country. Input from the conference was evaluated and used to make improvements to the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act. I would like to sincerely thank all who attended and provided suggested improvements to the Act. Their concern about the health of Nova Scotians has helped shape this needed legislation and I want to thank the Liberal Health Critic for his input and the support of this legislation.

Mr. Speaker, the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act is very important legislation. Nova Scotia has existing legislation that governs involuntary admissions. However, the current legislation is close to 30 years old and does not always serve those with serious mental illness as well as it should. The new stand-alone legislation will update our laws making them consistent with the legislation in many provinces across the country. As well, this new legislation maintains appropriate safeguards to balance individual rights with the need of treatment.

Some of these safeguards include independent patient advisers, strict criteria for involuntary admissions, shorter detention periods for psychiatric assessment, and shorter timelines for mandatory review board hearings. The Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act also contains guiding principles to help mental health practitioners and consumers make sure any intervention carried out will be done in the least restrictive way possible.

Mr. Speaker, some of the improvements made to this bill include: refinements to admissions criteria, a new name for the Act that better reflects the major content of the legislation, clarity around who is responsible for obtaining consent from the appropriate person, and a review of the Act in its entirety after six years. This bill is similar to the earlier proposed Mental Health Act introduced last Fall in that it will introduce leave certificates and community treatment orders. Leave certificates support patients' move from hospital to the community by helping them reintegrate into the community in a planned way. Community treatment orders will help those who have a history and pattern of involuntary admission and will be introduced where services are available to support the person in the community.

For these Nova Scotians, Mr. Speaker, community treatment orders will help them to maintain wellness and stability. These orders will also assist in early detection of recurring illness, thereby resulting in shorter hospital stays. Community treatment orders have strict criteria to make sure that the intervention is done in the least restrictive way possible. In addition to the mandatory review of the complete Act after six years, we have built into the new legislation a mandatory review of these orders after five years.

Mr. Speaker, this bill calls for both these review findings to be tabled in the House of Assembly. These reviews will allow us to ensure that this legislation acts as it was intended. The Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act will improve the mental health system and bring us a step closer to achieving a better, more responsive system. Our first step in this process was establishing comprehensive standards and indicators for mental health services, making

[Page 7753]

Nova Scotia the first province in Canada to do so. These standards and indicators form the basis of the mental health strategic direction for the next five to 10 years.

We recognize that more resources are needed within the mental health system. Government just this month announced an additional $4 million in funding is being added over the next two years through the Department of Health budget.

Having program standards in place will help us identify more easily the areas of greatest need. Which means that these new dollars will be targeted to where they will make the most difference to Nova Scotians. However, we need to understand that not all needed reform is linked to funding the mental health system. Legislative reform is equally important. It is our responsibility to make sure that those who are unable to make treatment decisions due to a mental disorder get the treatment they need when they need it.

Over the past number of years, advances in mental health treatment have led to expanded community-based treatment, more effective medications, over 50 community mental health clinics throughout the province, and in-patient beds for mental health patients being integrated into hospitals within district health authorities and the IWK. Nonetheless, we do not have the right laws in place to ensure Nova Scotians with severe mental illness receive the treatment they need. It is their right to get this treatment and our responsibility to put the right laws in place that will make that happen. The Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Bill fills those gaps.

Again, I would like to take the opportunity to thank Nova Scotians for their invaluable assistance as we work together to bring about mental health reform. In particular, I extend a sincere thank you to the mental health legislation development committee, the Law Reform Commission, key stakeholders, experts in law, mental health professionals, mental health consumers, families, representatives from the district health authorities and mental health groups. I've indicated the support of the honourable member for Glace Bay. I would also want to indicate the work done by staff from the Department of Health, some of whom are with us this evening.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians needed this legislation. It is the right thing to do. We believe in this legislation and we believe in its importance to improving the health of Nova Scotians. I look forward to the debate. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that this legislation and the Mental Health Act that preceded it last Fall has been, for me, the most challenging legislation to deal with here on the floor, without question.

[Page 7754]

I guess the reason for that - when I reflect back on that - is the importance of this legislation. I don't think there's any person in this Chamber who could deny the fundamental importance of strong mental health legislation for people who suffer from mental health disorders in our province. Throughout the past few months, since the minister introduced the Mental Health Act that he referred to last Fall, I and my colleagues certainly have struggled with the question of what is the best thing to do for people with mental health disorders in this province.

Mr. Speaker, you will know that families in Nova Scotia with a family member, a child, an adolescent or, indeed, an adult member of their family, can often be desperate for assistance when a family member has a mental health disorder. At the core of their struggle is the need to find some hope that there is a solution for this problem. I know that in this province today there are families and there are members of our province who are hoping for a solution, and they are anticipating that this legislation may, in fact, be that solution.

I want to say that we have to be very realistic and not over-accentuate what this bill is all about, because this bill, sadly, when we analyze this bill and the extent to which it will affect those families, I'm afraid that it falls far short of the promise that a solution will be available for those who suffer with a mental health disorder or who have a family member who suffers from a mental health disorder.

Mr. Speaker, I want to start by relating a little story from the consultation process that I undertook to try to better understand the situation that people with mental health disorders face in our province, after the first bill, the Mental Health Act, was presented back in the Fall. I travelled to various parts of this province and met with a variety of groups and organizations, chapters of the Canadian Mental Health Association and the Schizophrenic Society of Nova Scotia and various places and other care providers and givers and consumer groups. One of the places I went was to Truro.

I went to Truro, actually twice. I went one evening at the invitation, really, of the Schizophrenic Association, to meet with parents and family members of people who have mental health disorders. In the Truro meeting, which was to discuss the previous bill, the Mental Health Act that the minister had introduced in the Fall, there were several mature, older women who had come, who have adult children with mental health disorders. They talked about their struggles and their challenges of getting treatment for their family members over the years. They talked about the difficulties they had, and they basically saw the Mental Health Act that the minister had introduced back in the Fall, which essentially is the same bill here before us today, as the solution to their problem.

They asked me, please pass this bill, so that people like us will not have to go through what we have gone through. To sit there and talk to them was very difficult, but not new to me as somebody who has worked in the mental health system. I know how desperate people can be, to find hope, to get results, to anticipate that there is a solution. As I talked to these

[Page 7755]

mothers about what had occurred over time, though, with their family members, what became clear to me was the problems of their children not having gotten the treatment and the services had nothing to do with the legislation and it had everything to do with wait times to get services.

It, in fact, had something, in some cases, to do with a disagreement between the parent and the training psychiatrist. The parent, wanting a very - I suppose professionals would say - an invasive form of therapy or treatment, an intense and invasive form of therapy or treatment. The training psychiatrist, not feeling professionally, medically, that that was what was required, there was a clash between what the family wanted, and what the training psychiatrist wanted. The person who was caught in the middle was the person with the mental health disorder.

[5:00 p.m.]

In that discussion that evening, the participants in the discussion weren't only family members, they were also members of the clubhouse that is run by the Canadian Mental Health Association in the Truro area. After the discussion was over, one young man, who is a person with a mental health disorder, came up to me and had a discussion about his views of what is required. He told me about his struggles to find a level of medication that would allow him to be able to function, to control his schizophrenia but also not to become comatose, to allow him to still get up in the morning, go to the clubhouse, participate in job training, participate in an education program, to have friends and to lead a fairly normal life, all within having his schizophrenia controlled.

At the end of that conversation he said, Maureen, I know those ladies meant well tonight, but you have to remember when you go back to the Legislature that this bill is not about them, this bill is about me. I have to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that is etched on my mind now, and that, in fact, has been the lens through which I and my Party have looked at this bill. The ultimate test of this legislation will always have to be about the person who has the mental health disorder, it is about them. As gut wrenching as the family stories can be and are, and as much empathy we may have for those who have a family member with a mental health disorder, ultimately, this legislation is about the people who have mental health disorders and how we treat them in our province, in our communities, and in our health care system. That will be my starting point into this debate on this bill.

As the minister has said, he introduced the Mental Health Act last Fall and at that time, it failed to get the support of my Party, the NDP; the Liberal Party; the Canadian Mental Health Association; and some others. The government has now reintroduced the same Act with some minor changes. The changes of the bill that we are discussing here tonight, this new bill, essentially is a change in the name so that the bill is no longer the Mental Health Act, but is now the Involuntary Treatment Act. This is a change that is a more honest representation of this Act, I would have to say. If you remember, we said back in the Fall that

[Page 7756]

the bill the minister introduced wasn't about mental health at all, but was more about involuntary treatment.

I know, and I'll be quite interested to see, hear and listen, and I will assure members I will listen carefully to the debate on this because this is such an important piece of legislation, and I will listen carefully to my colleagues in the Third Party, the Liberal Party, to understand what it is that they see as having changed in this bill so significantly from the Fall until now. I heard a news report where the honourable member for Glace Bay indicated that there was now a review in year six of this bill, that was certainly something he wanted to see.

The only other change of any note in this bill from the first bill is around the test for involuntary detention, and that the words bodily harm and violence have been taken out and replaced by serious harm. Some might say that that even lowers the bar in terms of what the test is for involuntary detention from the bill that was tabled here in the Fall. The other thing that has been removed from the bill in the Fall, which I think is actually a good thing, was some wording around the possibility, the impending deterioration, which is indeed a very difficult test, to predict the future, and I believe some of the DHAs probably had some real concerns about that wording.

Now, what is the government's argument for this legislation? The government says that people will now get treatment they wouldn't otherwise get. The government says that the existing law is outdated and it's cumbersome and it's buried in the Hospitals Act, it's 30 years old. I think that one of the things I learned when I went around the province talking to people was how little people actually understood about the existing Hospitals Act. In fact, there were quite a few things about the existing Hospitals Act that I didn't understand until I started doing more research.

The existing law in Nova Scotia today, without this bill, is as follows. If you have a mental health disorder there are two ways to get admitted to a psychiatric hospital and to get a bed in a psychiatric facility for a 24-hour observation. One is with the consent of the individual and at the request of a qualified medical practitioner, and this is called being an informal patient. You're there on a voluntary basis, and you can be admitted. This bill will actually change this slightly. It will say that only access to a hospital bed on a voluntary basis will occur if a psychiatrist makes the referral, not a GP, and the hospitalization has to be beneficial to the patient. So in some ways, some aspects of this new bill are actually going to limit, could limit, voluntary admission and voluntary access to hospital beds.

Now I would say, if that occurs, our wait times will be even longer. We have, as you know, Mr. Speaker, more than 1,000 people, children, youth, adults, just in the Capital District alone, waiting for assessment and waiting for treatment on a voluntary basis. So in a way, this bill is reshaping, it's tilting a balance in terms of access to hospital bed facilities in a psychiatric facility away from voluntary admission to involuntary admission.

[Page 7757]

Now it seems to me that there very well will be people who voluntarily require services, that need access to a hospital bed. So I'm not sure that this is the best thing for us to do. In the current bill, the Hospitals Act, also you can be hospitalized involuntarily, you can be hospitalized on an involuntary basis with two medical certificates signed by two qualified medical practitioners, within 48 hours of an examination, on the reasonable and probable grounds that the person suffers from a psychiatric disorder and should be admitted because he or she requires in-patient services and can't be adequately provided for outside the facility, because he or she is a danger to their own safety or the safety of the others. That's the current law in the Province of Nova Scotia with respect to the involuntary admission to a hospital bed.

This new bill will do a number of things. It changes the definition, the criteria under which you can be involuntarily detained and admitted for observation, and then also for treatment, which I will talk about. What it does is rather than say the person has to be a danger to themselves or to others, it broadens the criteria quite dramatically in terms of what the criteria are - Mr. Speaker, with all of this paper here on my desk, I'm not sure what I've done with my bill - I would like to make reference to what those changes are.

A person who, ". . . is threatening or attempting to cause serious harm to himself or herself or has recently done so, has recently caused serious harm to himself or herself or is threatening serious harm towards another person or has recently done so . . ." et cetera, if you read this definition it's quite substantially more broad than the whole idea of being a danger to oneself or to someone else. This is something that we have been concerned about from a rights perspective. I want to say, Mr. Speaker, there are two things that have to be weighed when you look at this legislation: you have to weigh rights and you have to weigh treatment.

In many respects our argument is that this bill actually fails on both sides of the equation. It fails on the rights side, but it also fails on the treatment side. I think what I will do is deal, first, with the treatment side and some of the concerns we have had and will continue to have around the treatment side. In the current Act, the Hospitals Act, there is a requirement that there be a facility review board, and the facility review board is there to annually report to the Legislature on its activities. It is also there to automatically review whether or not patients who are involuntarily held in a psychiatric facility, after a particular period of time, should in fact be maintained as involuntary patients. It has a number of other functions, as well as an appeal function, if somebody who is in a facility feels that they're being wrongfully detained and wants an appeal.

Annually, the Facility's Review Board is supposed to report to the Legislature, it's in the Act. It kind of makes me wonder, in a way, about some things that are in this bill that haven't happened. The last report we have from the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board is in March 2002. We haven't had a report from this board even though the current legislation says to report annually to the Legislature.

[Page 7758]

[5:15 p.m.]

I want to read what this board said the last time it reported to the Legislature and I would be happy to table this when I've completed my time in the debate, I won't read the entire thing. In its opening preamble in their last report they talk at the beginning about their powers and they make this comment about the powers in the existing Hospitals Act of Nova Scotia with respect to mental health provisions. They say: "The responsibilities and powers of the Review Board are formidable since they can operate to deprive the individual of the right to make decisions concerning oneself and authorize continued detention against ones wishes even in situations in which no criminal act has been committed. Outside the areas of criminal law and child protection, the power of the Review Board to intervene with individual autonomy is unprecedented. This is what the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board says about the existing powers of the various players under the existing Hospitals Act.

It goes on to talk about their activities in the past year, it gives a little bit of statistical overview of how many reviews they had done, how many appeals they had heard and so on. That's quite interesting but I'm not going to read through it at this time. What I want to talk about is what this report tells us, what this board tells us. At the end of 2002, about how many people in the Province of Nova Scotia, at the time of this report, were involuntary patients in hospitals? They say for the first time last year, so that would have been in 2000-01, the board had access to statistics showing the total number of times formal status - remember, that's involuntary status, two certificates - is invoked at any of the psychiatric institutions throughout the province.

In 2001-02 there were 387 formalizations, in 2000-01 there were 358, in 1999-2000 there were 381, in 1998-99 there were 353, and in 1997-98 there were 387, so they range between 353 and 387. Now this is a very small number of people who require involuntary hospitalization and involuntary treatment in psychiatric facilities. It's a fairly consistent number over a five- to six-year period.

The board goes on to talk about what this group of people require. In part three, lack of community resources, the board stressed in last year's annual report and in previous reports the lack of available resources in the community for placements of severely mentally ill patients to reduce the need of hospitalization. Recommendations in previous government commissioned reviews of mental health services, such as Dr. Roger Bland and Bryan Dufton who released their report May 31, 2000, in which was referred - blah, blah, blah - recommended that the Department of Health develop a housing program for those with severe mental illnesses as well as small regional intensive care residences. They go on and they talk about the need to deal with the Kendrick Commission report and they talk about the fact that over a period of three or four years this particular Facilities Review Board has attempted to alert those concerned of the serious problem with the lack of resources available in the community, particularly in the area of housing for those with severe mental illness. This problem has been flagged as major, not only by the board in three consecutive annual reports,

[Page 7759]

but also in two separate reviews commissioned by the present government. With yet a third review underway, we can only hope.

Well, Mr. Speaker, we can only hope and this has been the point that we have tried to make in the NDP caucus. The problem with mental health services is not a problem around legislation, it's a problem of access to mental health services, it's a problem of resources in the community to keep people well.

Mr. Speaker, the Facilities Review Board also has something to say about community treatment orders which is a big piece of the legislation that's in front of us today and I'm not going to speak about this at this moment, but I will come back to it. So what we have here is a piece of legislation that the government says is focused on a small group of people who need treatment, but are unable to get that treatment because they're incapable of making that determination on their own. What the government has failed to do is to provide any kind of legal framework to address the breadth of mental health needs in the province. The government talks about how they are the first province in Canada to develop core standards.

Well, the core standards, with all due respect, Mr. Speaker, are not about a small group of people. They are about the breadth of people who require mental health services and that's why we need a different piece of legislation. We need a piece of legislation that will actually put into law a mental health system that will be responsive to all people who require mental health services and, frankly, if we had that in place, perhaps we wouldn't need involuntary treatment to the extent that we do. If we could provide treatment for people at the early stages of their illness, perhaps they wouldn't deteriorate to the point where all that is left is involuntary detention, holding people in forced treatment.

Mr. Speaker, I want to talk a bit about the community treatment orders that are such a big part of this legislation. Not only does this legislation broaden the definition of the grounds on which somebody can be involuntarily detained and held and treated, it also extends what we believe are fairly coercive measures of treatment beyond the walls of the health care facility into the community.

Mr. Speaker, we didn't make this up ourselves some afternoon sitting around, I'm sure not an expert on community treatment orders. To have an understanding of community treatment orders I've had to really go out and dig and look at what other people say about community treatment orders. I want to draw the attention of the House to a piece that appeared in The ChronicleHerald by Dr. Steve Kisely who is a professor at the Department of Psychiatry here at Dalhousie and an epidemiologist and a researcher. This piece - I'm not sure when it appeared, I think it appeared in The ChronicleHerald in March, it actually occurred around the time of the day-long mental health conference held at one of the hotels and I had an opportunity to participate in it.

[Page 7760]

Sadly, the Department of Health didn't invite Dr. Kisely to be a member of their expert panel. They thought better, I guess, of using the Department of Health's resources to fly people in from other parts of the country - Ontario and B.C. - when we had somebody here who has considerable expertise on community treatment orders. Mind you, his expertise doesn't agree, necessarily, with what the government wants to do. I wouldn't want to cast aspersions on why the government didn't offer Dr. Kisely an opportunity to come and speak.

I want to read a bit from this piece because this is what Dr. Kisely had to say about the old Mental Health Act, which is sort of like the new Mental Health Act in terms of community treatment orders. He sort of characterizes community treatment orders as ". . . an extension of forced treatment to the community settings - a form of commitment to hospitals without walls." He talks about the people who are for community treatment orders and what they say. This is the claim that . . . community treatment orders will . . . improve the security of patients in the outpatient setting, prevent recurrent emissions and ensure continuity of care." But he says, "However, in practice, coercion is used where intensive case management or assertive community treatment would be effective. Furthermore, any potential therapeutic gain is negated or cancelled by the coerciveness and associated stigma of the intervention and the consequent damage to therapeutic relationships."

I think the thing that he says that most disturbs him about community treatment orders, he says, there's no evidence that they're effective. He has been looking at the research from around the world. Dr. Kisely is originally from Australia. I believe, he's practised in Australia, the UK, he's been here in Canada for some time. In fact, he was practising in Australia when community treatment orders were fairly new there. He told me that one of the things he and his colleagues found was there was an extraordinary large amount of paperwork that had to be done to go along with community treatment orders.

One day he and his colleagues, sort of fed up with all of the time they had to spend filling out paper and not seeing patients and doing research that might benefit patients, led them to ask the question, do they work? Do they reduce admission to hospital? Do they reduce the number of bed days that people spend if they have to be readmitted? Do they delay readmission? The answer to all of those things was no. They don't do these things.

Moreover, he explains in this article that in order to get the benefit, in order for one person to benefit from a community treatment order to prevent one readmission, you'd have to have 100 community treatment orders. That means you'd have to have 99 people whose rights and freedoms you will curtail so you can get one benefit. In order to prevent one episode of homelessness, you'd have to have 25 community treatment orders. In order to prevent one arrest, you'd have to have 500 community treatment orders. That's what Dr. Kisely says in this article.

[Page 7761]

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there is no evidence that community treatment orders are the way to go, yet community treatment orders are one of the core, if not the core, piece of the legislation that's in front of us tonight and that was in front of us back in the Fall. Dr. Kisely says, "Everyone knows . . ." - perhaps except for the Minister of Health, although he doesn't say that, that's my editorial comment - ". . . that services for people with mental illness are woefully funded in this province; patients and their families are desperate for better access, but does this include being dragged by police to hospital for a forcible injection of anti-psychotic medication?"

He says, community treatment orders ". . . are an unwelcome distraction from the real campaign of adequate resources for people with mental illness in terms of health services, community supports, training and accommodation. We need to improve services so radically that compulsion is unnecessary."

Mr. Speaker, I'd like to ask one of the Pages, maybe, to make a copy of this, and then I'll table the copy. I have stood here in my place before to talk about the reality of life for people with mental health disorders in my community, in the North End of Halifax. I would say that we have, probably in terms of the City of Halifax, perhaps more people with mental illnesses living in the community than in other parts of Halifax, simply because my community has a lot of social housing and low-income housing and, sadly, substandard housing, rooming houses where people with mental health disorders sadly end up.

When we discussed this bill in the NDP caucus, I want you to know that my caucus colleagues held my feet to the fire around why this wasn't a piece of legislation that we could support. One of the things they said to me, rightly so, is what would a good piece of legislation look like? What is the alternative? What is it that we would do if we had an opportunity to bring forward legislation to affect the lives of people in this province?

Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure how much time I have left.

MR. SPEAKER: You have until 5:53 p.m.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I want to spend a bit of time addressing that very important question, because it's a very important question and it's a fair question. What would you do differently than this piece of legislation? I'm standing here on the floor surrounded in paper, as you can see. I've spent a fair amount of time on the Internet, and I've been looking at what exists, not only in other provinces in Canada but outside of this country. I'm not sure that I've found what I've been looking for in terms of a piece of legislation. The legislation of other jurisdictions is all over the map. Some provinces, for example our sister province, New Brunswick, they have a piece of mental health legislation and they also have a sort of involuntary treatment piece of legislation.

[Page 7762]

So you can find jurisdictions that try to address the broader mental health issues, and not simply the emergency, the crisis, the small number of people who deteriorate to the point where intervention is absolutely necessary. One of the things I found, Mr. Speaker, that I think was very inspiring and could in fact be fashioned into a wonderful piece of legislation, comes from the State of Illinois.

Now, some people might think this is a little odd finding good health care legislation in the United States, but it's actually not odd at all I would suggest. The U.S. is hardly a Third World Country, it has a very well developed health care system. The fundamental difference is that we have a universally accessible health care system and they tend to have people having to have expensive private health care insurance, either through their employment or their own individual means, in order to get health care. I found this wonderful document, which I will also have copied and tabled, which talks about evidence-based practices in the State of Illinois and underutilized opportunity. This document lays out six things that could be done to improve the lives of people with mental health disorders.

Mr. Speaker, if we were to develop a piece of legislation that took these evidence-based best practice examples into consideration, I think we might have something. The first thing is assertive community treatment programs. Now, assertive community treatment programs, we actually I believe have one here in the Capital Health District out of the Nova Scotia Hospital, but sadly we don't have them around the province. These are teams of health care providers who triage and they actually go out in the community. They have a caseload, they maintain regular contact, and they're able to identify people who are in the early stages of not following their care plans and they're able, because they've already established a good relationship with them, to be able to work with those folks so that they do not deteriorate to the point where involuntary care and detention and treatment are necessary.

This is a very good thing and actually there's a lot of evidence that this is the kind of treatment that works, unlike the involuntary care and forced treatment that we have in this bill. In addition to what they're talking about here, they're talking about these incredible programs for families, what they call family psychoeducation programs, and they outline why it's important to involve families in the care of individuals. They have this program called Family to Family where they help families understand the nature of mental health disorders and the treatments and the services that are available and in building a stronger support network of family members, then the person who benefits is the person with the mental health disorder.

We all know that many of the people who are involuntarily hospitalized, in fact, no longer have family involvement; it has become for many families too onerous, too burdensome to participate in the ongoing treatment, stabilization and deterioration of people with mental health disorders, very, very difficult. Why is that? Families get no support whatsoever in this province with adults. Quite often the system often says to families, you're not our patient, we

[Page 7763]

can't even talk to you about this patient because they're autonomous, separate entities, we can't talk to you, and that's it. We have to really take a look at that.

I'm not going to go through all of the aspects of the evidence-based practice laid out here in the Illinois example, but I will table it for members so they will have an opportunity to look at this and consider that there are other ways to do this.

Now, I want to come back to the question of involuntary treatment. Not for one moment would I or any member of this caucus say that there is no place in mental health legislation for provisions for involuntary treatment. However, the way involuntary treatment is laid out in law is extraordinarily important, the way that we do that. There are a small number of people who will require involuntary treatment who do not have the capacity to make decisions on their own, and who, in fact, will require the protections, if you will, of the law, and sometimes the community may require some protections. Also, I think we have to be so careful when we talk about this, Mr. Speaker, that we not talk about this in a way that we present an image or an idea that people with mental health disorders are a danger to the society. The overall evidence is that people with mental health disorders are actually more often to be or more likely to be victimized by others than to be the perpetrators of violence or crime.

There will be times, Mr. Speaker, when there will be requirements for involuntary detention, involuntary assessment and involuntary treatment. How we do that is very important. There are problems in this bill, with the way in which we do this. It was really interesting, I got a list of all of the groups and organizations that have submitted briefs to the Department of Health on their discussion paper and on the bill. I've been reading through what different district health authorities have had to say, and different groups have had to say. I haven't been given permission by anybody, really, to read into the record their briefs.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member accept a question?

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for accepting a question. Obviously the member has a great deal of experience, with her background and so on. Perhaps she would be kind enough to enlighten members of the Legislature on her view with regard to those individuals suffering from bipolar disorder and her thoughts on the treatment process.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I thank the honourable member for the question. I have to say I'm going to decline to answer the question, not because I wouldn't be happy to answer a question, but I have no expertise in terms of giving any kind of an opinion on anything like that. If I went down that road, Mr. Speaker, given the wait list for mental health services in this province, people might be calling my office and expecting an opportunity to

[Page 7764]

come lie on my couch for awhile and maybe get a little counselling, and I have no expertise in that area either. (Interruptions) No. Fair enough.

What I was trying to get at, I think, are the conditions under which we provide the measures for involuntary detention, involuntary treatment and so forth. I think that one of the things that's most incredible to me about this legislation, frankly, the old Hospitals Act that's currently in place is probably more in tune with the requirements of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms than the new bill that the minister has brought forward. I think that that's really a terrible thing, and the department and the government missed an opportunity to bring forward a piece of legislation that entrenched in those opening statements that this bill will be in keeping with the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it will adhere to principles of equity and the provision of services under, for example, the Nova Scotia Human Rights Act and will uphold the rights, people's Charter rights and their human rights.

[5:45 p.m.]

If there's anything we need in this province, I think it's a strong message from our government that discrimination against people, particularly people with mental health disorders, will not be tolerated. In many respects, the mental health disability - if you will - is one of the most serious stigmas that people face in our community today, and that wasn't really addressed in the bill.

I want to go back to the question of involuntary treatment. This bill makes provisions for a police officer to pick up, detain, and bring to a mental health facility an individual the police officer, the peace officer, feels has a mental health disorder. It makes no provision for what happens if the police officer is wrong, if the police officer goes to the facility with that person, they're seen by somebody who says, this is not a serious mental health disorder - within the definition of the bill there's no requirement that person be returned to where they came from or anything like that.

I think one of the district health authorities actually, in their submission to government pointed out some of these very real things that happen now under the Hospitals Act with this kind of approach that is not necessarily a sensitive approach to dealing with people with mental health disorders. I think what we've done here is we've created a piece of legislation that's entirely now about coercion, about picking people up, forcibly bringing them to a facility - we even have a section in this new bill where a person who is a voluntary patient at a facility who decides to leave can be detained and restrained - and restrained for three hours.

I don't know what "restrained" necessarily means, but it doesn't sound good to me. It's not defined in the bill what that means. I have to ask myself if I were somebody who suffered with depression, had a bipolar disorder, if I were schizophrenic, if I found myself becoming sick and I went to a hospital for assistance and I'm there on a volunteer basis and

[Page 7765]

I go to leave and I'm detained and restrained - would I go back when I felt the need to go back four, five months later knowing that I could be detained and restrained?

And what does "restrained" mean? The bill doesn't say what restrained means. This bill doesn't answer a lot of questions. It doesn't define quite a number of things. It doesn't require what we mean by "serious harm". What is serious harm? Is serious harm taking all of the money out of your bank account and giving it away on the streets? Is serious harm playing with matches out in the backyard? What is serious harm? These are things in this legislation that will be decided by the Cabinet, I guess, when they approve regulations.

People with mental health disorders in this province, in this legislation, are giving up certain freedoms and they're not getting a heck of a lot in return for what they're giving up. There's nothing in this bill that gives them treatment in the community, there's nothing in this bill that addresses the things that the Psychiatric Facilities Review Board has talked about in terms of housing, in terms of employment, there's nothing there about these things.

Quite recently the Capital District Health Authority has been going through a strategic planning process and they've started by looking at the determinants of health for improving peoples' mental health. They've looked at income and social status, their social support networks, education, employment, social environment, physical environment, gender, culture, all of these things, as well as health services and people's genetic disposition.

This legislation is such a narrowly focused piece of legislation. When the needs of people with mental health disorders in our province are so significantly broader and different, I cannot see why this is the government's focus, and why they didn't take an opportunity to really build a much more robust and effective piece of legislation, a piece of legislation that would get people the treatment that they require at the early stages in their mental health disorder, that would give them the kinds of supports they need to be well in the community and that, in fact, would eliminate the need for involuntary treatment when they get into a crisis. I look forward to hearing people at the Law Amendments Committee, and having some really tough questions answered about how this bill could work. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I intend to take a certain amount of time but the time will probably be longer than what takes us to the moment of interruption, as I address our support for Bill No. 203, the Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act.

I guess I should take a moment to step back and explain the series of events that have happened here. When it was previously introduced as another bill, we decided at that point in time to take a step back and examine things that were going on. We felt, as a caucus, when the Mental Health Act was introduced last Fall, that we were expected as members of the

[Page 7766]

House of Assembly to come to a decision on what was a very important piece of legislation, after just a few short hours of discussion.

We thought it was our responsibility to step back, examine the legislation, confer with people, talk to the stakeholders, and we have done that. We have brought the stakeholders together, we've had some very frank discussions about what was needed. We have listened to mental health consumers, we've listened to their families, and we've also held discussions with government on this bill.

I listened very intently to the member for Halifax Needham from the New Democratic Party. I know of her concerns and she says she's not an expert in this field but she does hold a certain amount of expertise and knows what she's talking about in this field. I agree with her on a number of points, including the fact that in the six years that I have been in this Legislature, almost six years, this is a piece of legislation and an item that I've never struggled with anything as much, as this piece of legislation. When we talked about doing things in this Legislature that sometimes keep you awake at nights, I would suggest that this is probably something along that line. I'm sure, as the member for Halifax Needham said, there are members in her caucus who held her feet to the fire before they made up their minds and vice-versa. Likewise in our caucus, and I'm sure in the government caucus, because this is the first significant change in this legislation in this area for 30 years. We all know that things have changed enormously in 30 years and a lot has happened.

We also know, and I would suggest that all members would admit, that there is no perfect piece of legislation. There is no perfect bill that we can bring before this Legislature. That is why we propose amendments to legislation, it's why we debate legislation. The member for Halifax Needham posed the question, what is a good piece of legislation, what was a good piece of legislation that the government could have brought forward? That's a great question, but I don't know if we have the answer and I don't know if the government has the perfect answer.

What the government has proposed, and what we have taken a look at, and we've added some amendments that the government has accepted to this legislation, is not a perfect piece of legislation, but in our opinion it does protect the rights and balance the rights of individuals who will be affected by this legislation. That's what this legislation does. It has enough checks and balances in it, in our opinion, to provide for those rights, whether they be Charter rights, the rights of an individual, human rights, whatever you want to call them, for those to be protected.

One of the major important changes that we requested and that the government accepted, and I think this is the major change and I will even agree with my honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, that, yes, a lot of this bill is the same, okay, but some very important distinctions have been made. One of them is that the entire Act will now have an independent review after five years; in the sixth year, the review will take place and

[Page 7767]

the report will be made to the Legislature. That's an enormous change, that is a major change, in our opinion, that is going to take place.

As I said, Mr. Speaker, we've struggled with this for some time. It's story after story from families where we've heard that their family members, their loved ones are affected but, unfortunately, when you're talking about mental illness here, it can deteriorate - we all know that - to the stage where involuntary admission, involuntary treatment unfortunately becomes a necessity. We have to deal with that. The member for Halifax Needham had figures and facts there that I don't have in front of me, she has done her homework, has done her research, but it's not our opinion and I can't agree with my honourable colleague on the fact that this bill fails both, as she said, the rights and the treatment that are available to mental health consumers in this province. As a matter of fact, I would suggest it does exactly the opposite.

What this bill is trying to do and attempting to do, and again as I said, I don't have much time leading up to the moment of interruption and perhaps I should save what I'm going to say to continue on for perhaps half an hour from now, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of the late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Annapolis and it reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand the Premier act immediately to fix the health care crisis that he finally admitted existed last night."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CARE: CRISIS - PREMIER FIX

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): It seems to be my day, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to the debate, member.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Fortunately, I was picked for this one as well, Mr. Speaker. I'm pleased to have an opportunity to bring this issue forward for debate, believe me, the health care crisis that we face now. I was rather shocked when I heard last night that the Premier told members of the Province House press gallery, "There are a lot of things that I would like to see get done that are not yet done. I think we have to resolve the health care crisis, for example." It sort of reminded me, there's an album by Supertramp from

[Page 7768]

back in 1975, entitled "Crisis? What Crisis?" The question posed by that album was probably going through a lot of people's minds last night.

After the Health Accord with Ottawa, after five years in government, the Premier finally says that there is a health care crisis. How could that possibly be, Mr. Speaker? There's $1 billion more annually going into health care, and the system is in crisis? Again, how could that possibly be? So I was shocked that the Premier has yet to be called to task for misleading people in this province, because it was during the 2003 election that the Premier and his PR people tried to portray the Premier as a man who lives up to his promises, that's what they said. Back in 1999, it was the Leader of the Third Party at the time, Dr. John Hamm, who told Nova Scotians that health care didn't need more money.

But now, after five years, Mr. Speaker, and $1 billion, billions, it's just a billion later, health care clearly needed more money, but even after all that money is poured into health care, the Premier admits that we still have a health care crisis. It amounts to the Premier breaking his promise. There's something fundamentally wrong with the health system, there's something fundamentally wrong when health care consumes 47 per cent of government program spending, yet still we're losing specialists, we can't attract more, the recruitment plan is not working. There is a crisis in human resources in health care in this province that is unprecedented.

So who is to blame? Mr. Speaker, blame is not going to solve the problem. It's time the Premier accepted that he has failed. He has to work on a new plan and a new direction, or else our health care system is going to collapse. Today in the House, it was the Leader of the NDP who brought to the attention of this House the case of a woman who can't get a hernia operation. Part of the reason is that there are not enough anesthesiologists to keep those operating rooms running at capacity, and it's causing blockages throughout the system.

Mr. Speaker, if we don't address the lack of, for instance, anesthesiologists, the system will be backed up and the cost overruns will be absolutely enormous. Our Leader has been criticized by the Tory Party for supposedly saying that $140 million should be moved from health care to pay for education. Well, that is nothing more than pure fabrication, I said before in this House, during a debate, we've got the tape to prove it if anyone wants to listen to it, it was not said.

The reality, Mr. Speaker, is that our Leader wants the Premier of this province to live up to his promise to control health care costs and provide for quality health care. Again, in 1999, it was the current Premier who voted against $600 million for health care, and then proceeded to spend the same amount $600 million, he spent $600 million plus $400 million more, and now says it's a crisis. The minister talked about a Liberal credibility gap. Well, the Premier is the one with zero credibility on the health issue. He has sat on his hands for five years, and now he tell us health care is in a crisis. He gave his word, and he broke it, plain and

[Page 7769]

simple. Again, Mr. Speaker, "Crisis? What Crisis?" The Premier promised that we would have quality health care at an affordable price.

I want at this time to table the State of the Province address from November 1, 2000. In that speech, the Premier said, "Most Nova Scotians also believe the health care system can be better managed. Again, they're right, it's wrong that approximately one in every four Nova Scotians is receiving the wrong type of care. More often than not, a more expensive type of care. Again, that is why we are working to change the system, but it can't happen overnight."

No one asked the Premier to do it overnight. But I would think that after five years, that's enough time to at least make somewhat of a dent, but the challenges still remain. Again, the Premier had misled Nova Scotians into thinking he can control health care costs and provide quality care. What we have now is a crisis, a crisis caused by a Premier who simply over-promised and then under delivered.

If we want to change the course that we're on, first of all the Premier has to open up a dialogue. Open up a dialogue so that all Parties and all stakeholders can start controlling costs before it's too late. We're very close to it being too late because time is running out. What's being left behind here is not a legacy that we want to leave for our children, it's a rather foul legacy that we're going to leave behind. A legacy of ever-increasing, uncontrolled costs in health care.

People liked John Buchanan, the former Premier, they liked him. Nobody ever asked him really though a tough question and we know the result. It would appear to me that the Premier is experiencing a second honeymoon with the media - maybe. He thinks by throwing money around he'll somehow advance his legacy. By admitting there is a crisis in health care, we may actually get to the point of finally a reasoned debate. But if the Premier refuses to admit his failure, first of all, how can we possibly move forward?

It's time that the Premier answered the tough questions and let's hope he's going to be willing to do that. When we say Crisis? What Crisis? It's time the Premier answered that question as well. The Premier admitting that we have a crisis in health care is a first step, simply a first step. We have to make sure now that the Premier has admitted that, I'm glad, I'm happy to see that finally the Premier has owned up to the fact that we do face a health care crisis in this province.

We have people who are on waiting lists for a year or more. We have people who still can't get a family doctor, we still have emergency rooms across this province closing on a regular basis. It would be very simple for me to say and to chastise the Premier by saying health care crisis - well, duh. Of course, there's a health care crisis, we've known that for some time.

[Page 7770]

But perhaps the Premier will see it as the first step that's actually needed towards finding some solutions for the crisis that we do face in health care. As I mentioned, the first step would be to take the major stakeholders and consult with them and ask them how can we improve health care in this province? How can we get more for our dollar? How can we make health care accessible to each and every Nova Scotian at a cost that won't eventually drive us into bankruptcy in this province? Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to address this resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, it would be easy to mock the Liberal Party in their resolution because if they ever got in office with their current Leader, there would be a crisis because $140 million would be taken out of the health care system. One would ask rhetorically in each of our ridings where that money would come from. In my own riding, I'd ask does it come from getting rid of the 21 new acute care beds in the regional hospital? Would it come from getting rid of the MRI machine in the Valley Regional Hospital? Would it come from getting rid of the expanded emergency room?

One could go on and on, but I'll treat the issue more seriously than that because there is an issue here on the sustainability of the medicare system that we have. We have an aging population and we know - across Canada and particularly in Nova Scotia - that an aging population tends to use the health care system more. People over 65, on average, go nine times to the doctor per year and 1 in 7 Nova Scotians are over 65, the figure's a little less across Canada but it's still there. We also know that we have a population that's probably not as fit and doesn't exercise as well as it should, clearly that impacts upon the health care system and upon the sustainability and the use of the health care system.

In addition people are demanding a wider range of services, medical services that when originally Medicare was brought in weren't considered part of the Medicare envelope. Now people expect these services and expect them to be part of the Medicare system that we have here in Canada. I think the role of doctors, when Medicare was made a public system, were really private practitioners who bill privately. So we're looking at that whole system and looking at moving to alternate funding programs to salaries rather than to pay for services we have now.

Another stressor upon the Medicare system that relates to its sustainability financially is the cost of medications and new medications that come out, medications that are good, life-giving, health-giving, and yet that are very expensive. Some medications that we have cost our province tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of dollars a year for one medication. The rising cost of technology is another factor that impacts upon the sustainability of the health care system. Many of the machines that will perform the diagnostic tests that are needed are very complicated and very expensive. The cost of these machines and the new technology continues to go up and up.

[Page 7771]

This is coupled with, what I see across Canada, a lower tolerance for paying taxes. People look at the United States and sort of compare the tax regimes and want to pay lower taxes while at the same time having the same level of service. It reminds me of a comment - my colleague here will turn over in his chair when I quote Bob Ray, the NDP Leader, but I think Bob Ray had a very good comment because he said Canadians want Scandinavian type services paid for at American type taxes. You can't have it both ways.

There's another issue that I want to talk about, I'm going where angels fear to tread, that impacts upon the sustainability of health care. I probably shouldn't touch on this but I will just very briefly because I think at heart maybe there's a spiritual problem involved here. I state that because I see in our society that we've moved away from a position that believed that this life was a continuum and part of a fuller sort of existence. We've moved away from that to where this life is at. We're going to grasp and hold onto this as hard as we can however much money it costs and whatever price it costs. We have people who freeze their bodies at a great cost in the hope that sometime in the future some sort of miracle will be discovered that will give them longer life.

I think this inability to face death as part of life impacts upon the sustainability of the health care system in a serious way. That's why I say there's sort of a spiritual problem here at the base that can't grasp that death is part of life and that there is this continuum. I know I'm treading on touchy areas but I do think, from my own perspective, plus coupled with the fact that Canadians more and more I see, are demanding or adopting this sort of individualistic attitude of, I want what I want for myself, and the larger community isn't really that important. If I can't get this health care, I don't care if it disadvantages someone else, I want it for myself. That, too, is a spiritual problem, as well, I think you would agree. The loss of emphasis upon the community, upon the person being in the community and part of the larger community, I think, impacts upon this.

[6:15 p.m.]

So as I said, it's a subject that I sort of fear to talk about too much, but I do think I want to put it out there. I remember once I had a discussion with John Ralston Saul about how at the basis of many of the issues in society were spiritual, religious issues, and he disagreed vehemently with me. We were talking about the role of culture, and he talked about how culture was a mirror in which society sees itself. I asked him if what he thought of Paul Tillich, the theologian Paul Tillich's statement that religion is the substance of culture, and culture is the face of religion, which is similar to what Samuel Huntington's been talking about in his book, The Clash of Civilizations.

Ralston Saul disagreed totally with me. I do think that there's something there, that at the basis of many of our problems, be they economic, be they in terms of the sustainability of health care, be they education, that there's spiritual problems, a dislocation, spiritually, that needs to be dealt with, otherwise what we'll be doing, I think, is treating the symptom rather

[Page 7772]

than the key problem. That is what I think all the furor and all the activity and all the work in terms of sustainability of health care, I think it's treating, in many ways, the symptom rather than the core problem. As I said, that's something I just wanted to touch upon very briefly, because it's something I'm still trying to tease out in my own head how it impacts and what the solution then would be for that if that, indeed, is true.

Mr. Speaker, if you've read Vaclav Havel, and I know you're a well-read person, particularly his latest collection of essays, I think the title is "Politics as if Morality Mattered". Time and time again in that wonderful collection of speeches - and I have enormous respect for Vaclav Havel - but time and time again in those speeches, which he wrote himself as opposed to most politicians who just read speeches that speech writers write for them, he talks about how politics needs to be spiritualized, and that the problems that he saw in his country of Czechoslovakia, coming out of the totalitarian sort of regime that really at its heart could only be dealt with the politics that were spiritualized, and he didn't mean in a narrow, fundamentalist sort of way, which is what I think people hear, which is the danger whenever one talks about religion in the context of political problems. I have this wonderful quote which I wish I had with me, that he gave to an audience in Tokyo, about the need.

I think that I just want to end by saying, I'll defend the government, we're doing many things, I think, in terms of the health care system, we could talk about them all. I have a document I'll table, some speaking notes that I haven't really touched on, because I think they're very good speaking notes. At its heart, I do think there's a spiritual vacuum here, which impinges very directly upon many of the crises we face and particularly upon the sustainability of health care. I thank you for the time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, well, I would agree with one thing from the honourable member, I think there is a vacuum, but I'm not sure that we'd agree on the kind of vacuum it is. It's not a vacuum cleaner, though, that's the one thing I can say.

I'm pleased to have an opportunity to rise in the House and participate in this discussion tonight. The resolution that was introduced by the member for Annapolis says:

"Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House demand the Premier act immediately to fix the health care crisis that he finally admitted existed last night."

I would like to take a few minutes to rachet down the rhetoric around health care. I would say to both the government Party and to the Liberal Party that we do a great disservice to our health care system if we run around talking about a health care crisis. I would say that to the honourable Premier, as well. We have some serious problems in our health care system, without a doubt. Wait time, for example, is a serious problem, but I don't think we do any

[Page 7773]

service to our public health care system by crying wolf all the time about how we have a serious health care crisis.

People who I hear say we have a serious health care crisis are people like Preston Manning, Ralph Klein, Mike Harris, and they make this claim and they ratchet up the rhetoric because they have an agenda. If you read the publication that came from Mike Harris and Preston Manning to every one of us, their agenda is private health care and their whole argument is that the public health care system is in a crisis and that's why we need private health care. So I would say we have some serious problems in our health care system, they are not problems that are insurmountable and they are not problems that we can't solve, and they are certainly not problems that we can't solve within our public health care system.

We had this debate a couple of weeks ago, maybe even last week I think, and at that time I pointed out here in the Chamber to members that the problems we have in health care have an origin. In 1995, when our current Prime Minister was then federal Finance Minister, I guess I would say back in the days not only when Paul Martin wasn't the Prime Minister but when he was still a fiscal conservative, he introduced a budget that initiated a 20 per cent reduction in federal cost-sharing, or federal financial contributions to health care in this country. Now, you take 20 per cent of the federal government's contributions to health care out of a province like Nova Scotia over a three-year period, you are going to seriously damage the health care system.

No ifs, ands or buts about it, Mr. Speaker, and that's exactly what occurred and how did this province respond? This province responded by getting rid of nurses, paying nurses to leave the profession, reducing the number of doctors that we educated in our medical schools, and we stopped purchasing new equipment. There are all kinds of things that occurred. I'm not saying that this government did that, I'm saying the government of the day, a former government, the Liberal Government of the day, that's how they responded. People at the time said that the harm that was being done would last for a considerable period of time because you can't turn those kinds of cuts around overnight. Once you haven't trained doctors for four or five years in the numbers that you require, then you can't have them appear overnight, it's going to take some time.

I remember standing in this Chamber and asking Dr. Jim Smith, the member for Dartmouth East I think at the time, the extent to which the Province of Nova Scotia lost revenue as a result of the Paul Martin budget in 1995. He told me that we lost $800 million in federal government funding. Now, mind you, that wasn't only for health care as far as I know, it also was under the CHST and it meant we lost money for our post-secondary educational institutions and probably under the Canada Assistance Act as well for social programs, housing and what have you. Nevertheless, I mean when we look at why there has been a huge infusion of money into the health care system in the past three, four or five years, it's because we're playing catch-up for all of those years when we lost money and, in fact, I think we're probably not back yet to 1995 levels of the health care funding from the federal

[Page 7774]

government. I could be wrong on that but I think that this is clearly a very difficult situation and when we had this debate last week, the Minister of Finance did indicate that was the case, that we're playing catch-up now.

I think it's really important that we not be hysterical, that we contribute to this idea that health spending is out of control. I would really recommend that members of the House become familiar with the work of Dr. Robert Evans who is a health economist, actually one of the most senior health economists in the country and who is very well respected, was at Saint Mary's University not that long ago to give a very excellent talk on whether or not health care is sustainable in Canada. All of his research would indicate that health care is sustainable, not that we shouldn't be concerned with how we spend those dollars and do it in an efficient and effective way, we always need to make sure that we're using health care dollars to get the best results. We have serious problems like shortages in human resources and what have you but it's not a crisis. I don't know how much time I have left but I'd like to give the remainder of my time to my colleague.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: I want to thank the honourable member for Halifax Needham for giving me the opportunity to make a couple of comments on this particular resolution that's before us this evening. I do know that the Leader in the House of the Liberal Party during Question Period had asked the then Premier of the day to rein in health care, that there was a crisis in health care and that there was a cost. I think it's important for Nova Scotians to know how that cost came about.

I happened to come to this Legislative Assembly in 1998 and there was a proposed election and budget in 1999. The Health Minister then, Dr. Jim Smith, the honourable member for the Liberal Party, proposed a $650 million loan to address the health care issues in this province. Not only that, his government was responsible for running this province from 1993 to 1998. During that period of time, his government turned around and made the significant cuts to health care to which the honourable member of Halifax Needham alluded. He is the member who, in fact, gave the nurses early retirement and all of a sudden there was a need, a crunch and a crisis to address the nursing shortage issue. As a matter of fact there was also some doctor shortage issues as a result of that government's proposal at that particular time during the administration of this provincial government.

I think it's fallacy for members of that political Party to stand up here and to imply that they have all the answers to address the health care crisis and that they're going to get elected in the next provincial election by addressing this very issue. For their Leader to imply that there is some apparent surplus of money in the Health budget that can automatically be extracted and channelled into education is absolutely shameful. The money that is allocated to health care services is what the Nova Scotian public demands. They demand a health care service that is second to none.

[Page 7775]

I remember visiting my cardiologist at one time and he said the health care costs will continue to increase in the province because people expect to live longer and when, in fact, they go to the institutions for health treatments, they are there much longer. All those are significant costs, costs which we have to address because the members of our community tell us that's the kind of health care service they need. I would like to remind the honourable members of the Third Party . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for debate has expired.

[6:30 p.m.]

[PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

Bill No. 203 - Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Act.] [Debate resumed.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): I'm not going to take up too much more time because as I've stated, it's our opinion and we feel that we've certainly consulted with the stakeholders here. We've heard from large numbers of people that are affected, from families that are in crisis, from families that are struggling with their loved ones. Those are things that are etched on my mind right now, story after story after story, that we've made a conscious decision to support this Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment Bill.

I would make somewhat of an impassioned plea to the New Democratic Party of Nova Scotia that if you really want to hear from the people of Nova Scotia, if you really want to hear about this bill, if you are really concerned about the well-being of mental health consumers in this province, then obviously the thing not to do right now would be to stall this legislation by putting up speaker after speaker in second reading, and to stop this legislation, possibly, from moving forward to the Law Amendments Committee, and from possibly being passed in this Legislature.

That would be my plea to the NDP, after I sit down, that they would not - and we are prepared to stay here until the cows come home, if necessary, to pass this piece of legislation, that's how important it is to Nova Scotians. This is not a time - this piece of legislation is too important to play politics with. All that will be played here today is politics, because of the fact that the government has brought forth a piece of legislation that we are supporting. What will happen now is the New Democratic Party will put speaker after speaker in their place to try to stall this legislation, to stop it from getting to one of the most important committees of this Legislature, that being the Law Amendments Committee, to hear from the people of Nova Scotia. Who we would hear from in that committee are mental health consumers, their families, from psychiatrists, from patients.

[Page 7776]

We would hear from everyone in Nova Scotia, because I'm sure, and I'm sure the NDP knows, that there are people lined up to both oppose this bill and to speak in favour of this bill, I personally would like to hear from them. The place that we do that in this Legislature is not with Members of the Legislative Assembly standing in their place, hour after hour, wasting and killing time for one purpose and one purpose only, and I don't mean that to be derogatory. What we do here is very important, Mr. Speaker.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I stand here on a point of privilege, because that member is saying that we - as members of this House, are elected to have the right to speak on legislation. That is an absolute, fundamental right of being a member of the Legislature. That's what it means to be part of a responsible government, and yet this member stands up and accuses us of not being able to use our right to speak, and says that it's time-wasting. Well, I'll tell you, this is not time-wasting, this is us debating legislation. That's what we're here to do, and we're going to keep doing it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, obviously I've touched a nerve. I did not say what we do here (Interruptions) Of course what we all do here is important. What I'm saying is the game, the political game, that unfortunately will be played from this point on with this very important piece of legislation. There are going to be people who are going to be hurt and hurt seriously because of the fact that the New Democratic Party will now stall this piece of legislation. That, to me, is perhaps - it's just not the right thing to do.

So what I did, by starting out my next line of thinking, was to make an impassioned plea to the NDP not to do that, and to move this forward to the next stage, which is to hear from the people of Nova Scotia. Now what could be more important than to hear from the people who are directly affected by what we're doing and what we're speaking of right now? (Interruptions) I'll agree with the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I'll agree with him, but I want to hear from them and I want to give them the chance to come to Province House and to tell us their stories. (Interruption) If the members would hear from them, I think it would be far more important to us to finally make a decision, a reasoned decision, after we hear from the people who are most directly affected.

Mr. Speaker, that's my plea to the New Democratic Party. I don't think for a minute that they'll take me up on it, but I hope they do. Strange things happen in politics. Who would have thought Belinda Stronach would be a Liberal after today? So I'm hopeful that even something as strange as that can happen, that the NDP will say, do you know what, the member for Glace Bay made sense and when I sit down, I'm hoping they're going to say let's move this on to the Law Amendments Committee where it rightfully belongs so that we can hear from the people directly affected by the legislation that we are proposing go through.

[Page 7777]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, politics I guess makes strange bedfellows, but I think I'm going to pass on the invitation from the honourable member who just spoke to join up with him in any way at all.

Mr. Speaker, I had occasion recently to review some statistics. The statistics I reviewed are issued by our provincial government and they set out causes of death and they're part of the general array of statistics on birth, illness, and so on. I hope members are familiar with the statistics I want to speak to in starting because what I found was that every year in Nova Scotia there are seven or eight, some years nine or 10, people who are killed through murder, this is a consistent number over the last five or six years, and every year in Nova Scotia there are maybe 10 or 12 people who die on the job. This number too is a consistent number. But every year in Nova Scotia 100 people commit suicide. That's two people every week kill themselves and that is a consistent number over a period of years.

We spend, of course, a lot of our resources and a lot of ink in the press when someone is murdered and we spend a lot of resources focusing on injury and death on the job, but it's not so clear that we spend as much attention and resources as we ought to dealing with problems of mental disorder, particularly those that are so serious that people kill themselves. I'm sure that it has been a fact of life for every member in this House that we know someone, family or friend, who has committed suicide. You probably can't get to be middle-aged, as most of us are, without having experienced that in some form.

At the time something like that occurs, family and friends come around and they try to figure out what happened. They compare information and they compare notes and they pool their information and they try to see who knew what, what clues were there, did we know about it, was this person under treatment and, if so, what kind of treatment, could we have done something, could we have done something earlier if we knew. It's a very difficult circumstance and when it does happen, it sometimes even has an unfortunate knock-on effect and by that I mean that a fact of suicide, once known, becomes a temptation for people who are close to the person who committed suicide, they begin to ask themselves why not, maybe I should do this too. It's unfortunately almost catching.

We see, particularly, I think, amongst teenagers, sometimes instances of multiple suicides. What becomes apparent to people who have to deal with this is that when they think about it, they realize just how common it is, and they realize often that it wasn't the first example that they've encountered in their lives. They talk with their friends and they realize it is widespread, it is a problem. Again, they ask themselves, correctly, what could we have done? What could have been available for people who are in that bad state?

[Page 7778]

Now suicide, of course, is one of the most dramatic forms and manifestations of mental illness. I was particularly happy to hear, in the comments of my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, earlier, the reminder to us that the idea of dangerousness on the part of those who have mental disorders is usually a profound mistake. If dangerousness exists with respect to people who have mental disorders, it's usually self-directed - it's usually the case that it's suicide, not that it's a threat to others, and even then, it's a rarity - but all too common.

The starting point therefore, to my mind, is that we have to recognize that problems of mental disorder, in greater or lesser degree, are commonly encountered and we have to deal with them. I want to say to my colleague, the member for Glace Bay, that this bill may pass in due course. We're not here to try to obstruct the bill. In a minority situation the government, of course, cannot, on their own, force a bill through the Legislature by waiting it out, they require the agreement of at least one other Party. We've heard, and we heard in advance of the debate, from the Third Party, that they were prepared to support the legislation - in those circumstances I'm assuming that sooner or later this bill will become law.

Therefore, our obligation and our mission is to put on record the problems that we have with this legislation, to go on record so that no one will be misled, no member of the public should be misled into thinking that this bill is going to be a useful piece of legislation in dealing in any serious way with that sector of the health care system that focuses on mental disorder.

Now, I have a number of criticisms that I want to make about this bill. You won't be surprised to hear that in many respects they parallel the comments that were made by our Health Critic, the member for Halifax Needham. She focused on a variety of things that the bill failed to do. She began to touch, near the end of her remarks, on some of the legal difficulties with the bill. So, to a certain extent, I'm going to maybe try to start with some of the legal difficulties with the bill so that we make sure that these points are put on record and are as clear as they can possibly be. There's an abundance of problems with the legal side of this bill. Before I engage with the details with that, I want to explain my interest and my background and to a certain extent, a limited extent, my expertise on this. My colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Needham, has expertise as a social worker, she has dealt in her professional life with people who are in need of these services, so too have I in my professional life as a lawyer and I've also dealt with psychiatrists by giving them legal advice.

[6:45 p.m.]

I want to review this, although not at too much length, to explain how it is that I came to have an extensive involvement in questions having to do with law and psychiatry. This goes back to the first couple of months after I was first admitted as a member of the Bar, that's more than 30 years ago now, in Nova Scotia, I was only a month or so at the Bar when someone I knew suffered an acute psychotic episode and ended up in the Nova Scotia

[Page 7779]

Hospital. This man, who was in his mid-20s, was being given ECT against his will - ECT is electroconvulsive therapy, that is to say shock treatment. He didn't want it and managed to phone a friend who got hold of me and I knew this fellow and I went over and I spent time talking to him and to his psychiatrist.

I was probably no more than month at the Bar at that time; if you are a lawyer, his psychiatrist said to me, I was very young. Well, we had a discussion and I'm happy to report that she, his psychiatrist, knew a lot more about the law having to do with psychiatry than I did. She pointed out to me that there had been extensive litigation in recent years in the United States about the rights of psychiatric patients and she pointed me in the way of some literature and I started to read. I began to learn about law and psychiatry. On behalf of my friend, I went to the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in an attempt to obtain an injunction to stop the giving of the ETC.

The Statute that was in place at the time was a predecessor to the Statute that we have in place now but essentially had the same title - I think it was the Hospitals Act, before some subsequent revisions. It was even a cruder Act than the one we have now. I pointed out to the presiding justice that there was a difference between being able to detain someone if as a result of their mental illness they were a danger to themselves or others, and being able to treat them without their consent. I said that there was a distinction to be made between detaining someone and respecting what could still be their civil capacity. I said there still had to be an assumption that civil capacity survived involuntary detention.

If doctors were of the view that someone was not civilly capable there was a process in place, separately under the law, to appoint a guardian who could make health care decisions. What's the point, the judge said, of being able to detain someone if you can't treat them? When I began subsequently and he didn't grant an injunction, however, I'm happy to report that upon discussion with the hospital, they agreed to stop the ETC. That's what happened with my friend, a longer story but that's all we need to know for now.

When I went away and started to read I realized that the American law had recognized this distinction. By the American law, I mean litigation, I mean cases. I mean that people had gone to court and established under the American Bill of Rights their entitlement to a presumption of civil capacity and that it had to be viewed as distinct from any state mandated opportunity for detention.

I began to learn about this. I then went on to take up my first real job as a lawyer. That was in Ottawa with the federal Department of Justice, an employment circumstance I'm sure you know. The Department of Justice does a variety of things. One of the things it does is it assigns lawyers to be in-house legal counsel for other government departments. I was assigned for three years to be one of the in-house legal counsel to the Solicitor General's Department. The Solicitor General runs the penitentiaries, the parole board and the RCMP.

[Page 7780]

Part of my job focused particularly on the penitentiaries. One of the main users of my legal advice during those three years turned out to be the psychiatrists who worked in the federal penitentiaries. They wanted to know what they could do. They wanted to know about the mental health legislation in place in Ontario and in the other provinces. During those three years I probably visited almost every federal penitentiary in the country and dealt with all the officials who ran the penitentiary system and extensively got to know the psychiatrists.

I had, perforce, to learn a lot of law about psychiatry. I was greatly interested in it and I put together a course which I subsequently taught on this subject. I've taught it in Ottawa, I've taught it at Dalhousie Law School when Professor Archie Kaiser, who normally teaches that course was away on sabbatical and I have given a number of seminars over the years to psychiatrists and to psychologists on the law and psychiatry and the law and psychology.

After I left the Department of Justice, I went to Toronto where I was teaching law. During that time I was a volunteer for the Canadian Civil Liberties Association. I worked with Alan Borovoy, their general secretary who at that time had a particular interest in revising Ontario's mental health laws. The CCLA, under Mr. Borovoy did a very interesting thing - he looked at those certificates that are supposed to be signed by doctors in order to commit people involuntarily to hospital. He got hold of at least 200 of these certificates, or the certificates bearing on 200 patients, and he took them to three or four very senior litigation lawyers in Toronto. He said to them, read these certificates. And, he said to them, tell us if we were to go to court and challenge these certificates, what would be the result?

The lawyers he consulted uniformly were of the opinion that about 75 per cent of those certificates would be set aside upon judicial review by a court because the dictates of the Statute had not been followed by the physicians who were filling them in. Many of them had gaps, many of them simply hadn't answered the questions that they were supposed to answer in the forms. Many of them were written in language that didn't correspond to the Statute, many of them were written in language that simply wasn't clear. Many of them weren't signed. If you go back and you check, I think the front page of The Globe and Mail for some time in 1977 or 1978, there's an article to be found reporting on this. This focus of publicity on the inadequacies of the system at the time was combined with a brief that I wrote on behalf of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association that was submitted to the Minister of Health for Ontario that pointed out the inadequacies of the legislation and made suggestions for change in Ontario's legislation. This worked and the Ontario Government began to revise its legislation.

I'm happy to report that I escaped Toronto and came back to Nova Scotia for a number of years, but found myself again in Ontario from 1984 until 1988 and during that time the Ontario Ministry of Health was engaged in another round of revisions of its mental health legislation and I sat on a committee that met every Tuesday night for two years as a representative of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association to revise the mental health laws of the Province of Ontario. On that committee were representatives of the Ministry of the

[Page 7781]

Attorney General in Ontario, there were psychiatrists in private practice, there were advocacy organizations who represent consumers of mental health services, there were social workers, it was a serious committee that did serious work and resulted in the revisions of the laws of Ontario.

I apologize for this long excursion, but I wanted to make it clear that although unlike my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, who has engaged as a social worker and has actually met and dealt with many of the consumers of mental health care services, my knowledge has been of a slightly different sort, it has been focused on the law. I've come to the point of thinking that at this juncture I know a fair bit about mental health law here, in Ontario, and elsewhere in Canada and although I certainly agree with my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, that absolutely the biggest need, the most important need of our system is for adequate community housing with supervision where needed, that must be absolutely the starting point in looking at the array of services when we consider prevention, when we consider other forms of services.

Nonetheless we have to turn our minds as well to some of the legal difficulties and just as a point linked to this and which I don't think I've heard mentioned yet, but I speculate about why it is that the Third Party might be considering supporting this legislation, I wonder if somehow it has to do with the fact that some extra money has been made available this year for services. I have to say that although this is a good thing, we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that one year of a commitment of money is only one year and it's not clear that it will go on forever and it certainly doesn't offset any of the legal difficulties with the bill.

So when I start to think in a civil liberties sort of way about this bill, I find myself compelled to ask in part whether it will do the job and in part whether it's susceptible to abuse and in part whether the right tests have been put into the legislation.

[7:00 p.m.]

Since I spent some time talking about my unfortunate friend who had been committed and then treated without his consent, on the legal points, I think I might start with that one. The definition of the criteria that have to be considered by the psychiatrists who are moving towards involuntary admission have now been expanded, and they've been expanded in the following way, the definition of what is appropriate or what is a trigger allowing for involuntary admission - this is in Clause 17(e) says that "as a result of the mental disorder, the person does not have the capacity to make admission and treatment decisions."

Now this is new. That wasn't in the legislation before. So what is being said here is that not only does a person have to have a mental disorder, not only does that person's mental disorder have to lead to some kind of threatening circumstance, a danger to themselves or others, not only does the person need treatment in a facility and isn't suitable as an outpatient,

[Page 7782]

but in addition, as a result of the mental disorder, that person does not have the capacity to make admission and treatment decisions.

Do you know what that means? It means that those two distinct questions, whether someone should be detained in a hospital and whether they then have the capacity to consent, have been melded together, and the question of an independent determination in a separate process of that person's ability to consent no longer arises. It no longer arises because the determination has already been made by the psychiatrist when they decided that the person was suitable for involuntary admission. It was already determined. Right up front, not by a separate process, not in court, none of that. It was determined already by the psychiatrist, as part of the admission process.

This is the focus of where civil liberties and civil rights inside the mental health care system took off when these circumstances first started to be litigated in the United States in the 1960s. Do you know why there is such extensive de-institutionalization? Do you know why it is that people who have mental difficulties are not in institutions, but in fact are on the street? It's not because of a change in philosophy amongst those who are in charge of the mental health care system, the physicians, although there have been changes, of course, in their philosophy over time, but what led to de-institutionalization was litigation. It was extensive litigation in the United States in which people found that the mental health laws of states all across the United States were deficient by the tests of constitutional liberties set out in the United States Bill of Rights.

When they began to start litigating this, thousands of people were let out of psychiatric care facilities, all over the United States, and Canada followed up. That happened 30, 35 years ago. And we have been struggling for 30 or 35 years to put in place what should have been put in place immediately at the time, that is to say, care facilities for people who didn't need to be institutionalized but who could exist in the community if they had some supports in that community. That sometimes meant a little money, sometimes it meant a place to drop in, sometimes it meant shelter, sometimes it meant shelter with supervision, but it's been one of the great failings of the North American health care system over the last 35 years that faced with clear court decisions, the system didn't really respond.

What is this bill that's in front of us except yet again a failure to respond? It tries to tinker with the law instead of engaging with what it is that people really need. So when I see a clause, subclause, like the one I just read out that somehow attempts to go back on 35 years of legal history, not only is it wrong that it should be there in terms of policy, it's just wrong in terms of the law. It shouldn't be there.

It's not that this stuff is not litigated in Canada anymore. It is litigated in Canada now. There are cases that have just been decided in March. One case went to the Supreme Court of Canada from Nova Scotia just in March. It was called J.J. v. Nova Scotia (Minister of

[Page 7783]

Health). A March 18th decision in the Supreme Court of Canada. Someone said, what year? This year. March 18th, this year.

Can I read to you from Justice Abella's decision? Paragraph 23, "The significance of independent judicial review of state action when a vulnerable adult has been deprived, at the instigation of the state, of the right to function autonomously, cannot be overstated. The court's statutorily assigned supervisory role emerges from the adult's vulnerability. The corollary of a judicial determination that an adult is in need of protection is a corresponding limitation on that adult's autonomous decision making and liberty. It is the function of the court to monitor the scope of that limitation."

What the court is saying is that it's a serious matter to take away someone's liberties, and that the courts are prepared to step in if necessary in order to deal with review. Yet, how easy is it going to be for someone to get the ball rolling and get their case in front of the courts? I want to remind the members of the set of circumstances that I outlined for them from the Autumn of 1973 when my friend was in the Nova Scotia Hospital. He managed to get a phone call out to a friend who got hold of me and I went over there.

It happened that I met this person, I had known this person before and I was able to come and say I'm their lawyer, let me talk to them. What's contemplated in our legislation? What's contemplated in this bill? Is there anything there that says, as there is if a person is in a police lockup, they have a right to phone calls? How do they contact anybody? Where's that in the legislation? Who's to know that they're in there?

There's a patient's advocate, and there's a review board. That's fine, but you know what? It isn't enough. Patient's advocate, review board - it's not enough. It has to be specified that the patients have the opportunity and the right to make contact with external people. If not, we're dealing with the indicia of an authoritarian society that if we saw it in North Korea or China or Nigeria we would look at it and say, this is too typical and wrong.

I mention those examples deliberately because there are countries that in history have abused the tag of psychiatric illness for political purposes. Let us not forget this has happened. So what this bill does say is that patients' rights can be specified by regulation later on if the Cabinet decides to do that.

Well, do you know what, it's not good enough. I don't find that acceptable, it's just not good enough. If we're going to take seriously and recognize that there is a loss of liberty for people that we are prepared to sanction by law, we absolutely have to make sure that there is a way for them to access supports that they might feel comfortable with, that they might want. This is because they should be able to refuse or engage with a process of oversight through the courts if they want to do that and can find people to represent them.

[Page 7784]

I said that there were recent cases, not only is there that Supreme Court of Canada case that was decided in March, there was a case that was decided March 30, 2005, in Saskatchewan. It's called the Saskatoon Regional Health Authority versus A.B. Justice Krueger in that case said: The right to refuse unwanted medical treatment, even treatment for mental illness, is fundamental to every individual's dignity.

That was not a novel proposition in this single case. In arriving at that conclusion and laying out that proposition, Justice Krueger was relying on the 2003 decision that the Supreme Court of Canada in Starson versus Swayze, these are not novel propositions. They are not confined to the United States. They, in fact, have been litigated in our country in as high courts as the Supreme Court of Canada on several occasions and I think we are going entirely too far in this legislation in several respects.

So I have identified what I think are two legal defects so far. One I've said is the wrapping up of this question of incapacity to consent to treatment into the test for involuntary committal and that's a very important one. There is another that I want to flag for you as well and it has to do with the problem - and I'm not suggesting this is necessarily a legal difficulty the same way the others are, but it's certainly a policy difficulty and one that we all might want to think long and hard about. It is the fact that the definition of mental disorder now will extend to circumstances of deterioration of mental powers. This appears in the definition of mental disorder and that definition, I will remind you, is stated to mean a substantial disorder of behaviour, thought, mood, perception, orientation or memory. It's memory that I think is really the new feature here that we all have to think long and hard about.

[7:15 p.m.]

This means that your parents as they get older and begin to have problems with memory can fall within that definition of a mental disorder. Now, I find that highly problematic and I think that for the minister to have brought forward this bill for the second time really without trying to debate or engage on this issue and say to us why he thinks that this is a good policy choice is highly problematic. Should that be our policy choice? Is this where we want to go as a society? We're an aging society, are we now going to be saying our 70-year olds, our 75-year olds, when their memory begins to get a bit shot, not clear that everything's completely okay, that they're going to be candidates for involuntary admission to hospitals, never mind whether the facilities are there, it seems to me they're not going to be for people in those numbers, but why should it be part of this definition in the first place? This is really greatly problematic.

Next, I want to turn to another legal problem, and in part this is a factual problem, in part it's a medical problem, but it's also a legal problem. It has to do with the fact that, again, the test for involuntary committal or involuntary detention turns on the notion of dangerousness, even though slightly different words are used, it's the question of dangerousness to self or others. Most studies have shown that psychiatrists can't predict

[Page 7785]

dangerousness. So built in to this definition is an assumption that the medical profession can do something that, in fact, tests show they can't do.

Now you'll recall what I said earlier about the kinds of psychiatrists that I was dealing with. I was dealing with the psychiatrists who worked in the Canadian penitentiaries. In fact I should have pointed out, as well, that in those years when I was working with the Department of Justice, Canada still had capital punishment. One of my responsibilities was to keep track of what were called the capital cases, the people who were on death row. I drafted the reports to Cabinet, the federal Cabinet on whether those sentences ought to be commuted to life imprisonment or not. As part of that responsibility, I had to hire two psychiatrists to go and talk with the people who were on death row, and write reports for me that I could review to see whether there was anything there that was of use.

I mention this because part of what I had to focus on when I was dealing with the law of psychiatry was the law as it applied to psychiatrists and their ability to predict dangerousness. Every study that I read indicated that psychiatrists weren't all that good at predicting dangerousness, no better than anybody else, sometimes worse. I remember quite vividly the first study I encountered. It was called, "On being sane in insane places". What had happened was that researchers had put into psychiatric hospitals in California people who were completely sane. What they did was they had them fake some symptoms in front of doctors, inducing the doctors to sign certificates and commit them to the hospital, and then having faked the symptoms, they then dropped the symptoms entirely, never reported them again, behaved as they normally would from day to day, but in the psychiatric hospital, having been committed.

Do you know what? In not one case did the doctors figure out that these people were faking. The other patients figured out that these people were faking, but the doctors didn't figure it out. That was the first study I looked at. It was known as the Rosenhand study, quite a famous article. But it's not the only one, and not just that kind of experiment but other kinds of experiments and tests and pieces of research have been done, and the facts just don't support it. I had occasion yesterday, just yesterday, to be reading one of the main Canadian textbooks on criminal law, Don Stewart, Professor at Queens University Law School, Canadian Criminal Law, a Treatise, 4th edition, 2001. I looked, because I had something else I was looking for, at what the current state of the knowledge was according to Professor Stewart about criminology and about psychiatry on the issue of dangerousness. It's exactly as I remembered it from the last time I looked it up 20 years ago - it's exactly the same, all the up-to-date studies still say psychiatrists are no good at predicting dangerousness, yet we're building into this Statute that test on a gratuitous hypothesis.

How can we do this? How can we think about doing this? What has the minister said about it? Nothing. Nothing. What about the old test of imminence for another legal problem? The test of imminence - that is, imminently about to harm themselves, imminently about to harm someone else - doesn't seem to be there, it's gone.

[Page 7786]

When I look at all the provisions of this bill, even though it may pass, because as far as I can judge based on the comments from the honourable member for Glace Bay, he doesn't seem to want to take the trouble to turn his mind to what's in the bill. I heard a lot of bluster, I didn't hear any analysis. Now I don't think that's good enough, it's not good enough from the government for this bill, certainly not good enough from the Third Party when it comes to thinking about what it is that's needed in our society for a group of people who are certainly in need.

We should not mistake the passing of laws for doing something effective. In some circumstances, passing a law is the right thing to do. In these circumstances we don't need this law, we can live perfectly well with the Statute we have now as glossed by the courts when they apply the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. I want to again emphasize that when we, as a Chamber, deal with a piece of legislation like this, there is enormous potential for families who are out there to walk away with the impression that something serious is being done to help them.

The families of people who suffer from mental illness of whatever category or degree of intensity are inevitably very concerned. I know from people I've met and dealt with in my constituency who have had children, teenagers, adults that they have been concerned about, that they do as much as they possibly can to try to find help for those vulnerable members of their family. They are looking, they are looking for the government to do something effective, and when they hear that there's a new Statute, when they hear that there's a new bill coming forward, An Act Respecting Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment, even though the title now has a more focused and perhaps slightly more accurate name to it, they mistakenly get the impression that they're going to benefit, they mistakenly get the impression that more resources will be available for their families. That's just not the case - it's just not there.

That is why it is that there is nothing that can really persuade us, at least nothing that we've seen so far, that this bill is worth supporting. We have to ask ourselves, and I'll raise this as one final legal point, whether in and of itself it's discriminatory against someone on the basis of mental illness not to make services available. We make services available aplenty for people with other forms of health problems and yet looked at objectively, there is an enormous failing, and an enormously disproportionate failing when it comes to people in need of mental health supports and treatments and we have to ask ourselves whether one day there isn't going to be a lawsuit based on that kind of allegation of discrimination that the system failed to deliver the services that should have been available in an appropriate level for people in need.

So with that, Mr. Speaker, I hope I've set out most of the reasons why it is I find this bill to be highly problematic. It's highly problematic because of a number of legal points. It's highly problematic because of policy and it's most problematic because it simply is the wrong measure, something else should be done, but not this. Thank you very much for the opportunity to speak.

[Page 7787]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

MS. JOAN MASSEY: Mr. Speaker, in your gallery directly in front of you this evening are some people who have come in from Antigonish. It's a group from Williams Point. Their spokesperson this evening is Jim Boudreau and they're all very concerned about a flooding issue in their neck of the woods and the infilling that is going on there and they would like to see that stopped. They're here this evening to see if they can get some attention from certain politicians on that; they would like the infilling to stop until there's a study done. They're very concerned about not just the environment and the concerns for themselves and their own homes, but also for the people who may build there in future. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I, too, want to recognize the special guests who are with us this evening.

Mr. Speaker, I want to speak to the bill that is before the House, Bill No. 203, an Act Respecting Involuntary Psychiatric Treatment. I want to say that I was actually impressed with the speakers, both the honourable member for Halifax Needham and her expertise with respect to this very issue around social work, and I also want to acknowledge the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto who certainly put the legalese in the context of this bill before the Legislature. I only wish that one could articulate that kind of legalese to my community.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's important also to recognize that the honourable member for Glace Bay, who has made comment to this particular bill, has had the opportunity to speak on this bill and to give this Legislative Assembly the reasons why he and his Party are supporting the piece of legislation going forward. I want you to know that the honourable member has made comment with respect to us, as the Official Opposition, just simply speaking briefly on this bill. As a matter of fact, he had even recommended we not speak on this bill, that we stop the conversation with respect to the debate on this bill so that it goes across this Legislature floor to the Red Room and then we listen to the individuals who, in fact, are going to be the presenters to this bill and the individuals to whom, in fact, had indicated they supported this bill. Although the honourable member also recognized that there will be people who will be coming to the Law Amendments Committee, speaking against this bill, or anticipates those individuals who will be speaking against the bill. It's very important to hear both sides of legislation, but it's also the right of the members of the Legislature in here to debate this piece of legislation so that the government and its members understand the position that is taken by the Official Opposition with respect to this bill.

[Page 7788]

[7:30 p.m.]

I also want to say that we have talked about - and I do know that the honourable member for Halifax Chebucto had mentioned - how we came about deinstitutionalizing individuals with mental disorders some 30 to 35 years ago. I do believe that it occurred in 1966 in the Province of Nova Scotia that we recognized deinstitutionalizing persons with mental health disorders was significantly important. Because prior to deinstitutionalizing individuals we did have a process of certification.

The process that many people can remember, was a process where you could be the judge of an individual's competency and automatically sign the individual in. It was a relatively easy process at that time and we had found that many individuals, who in fact were in institutions, ought not to rightfully be there. There was also the perception that individuals who had physical disabilities for some apparent reason were also individuals who had intellectual disabilities or mental disorders. That was proven not to be the case and many individuals found themselves in institutions.

The unfortunate part of this bill is that it doesn't address the willfully inadequate services that are provided to mental health consumers. Before I go in that direction I do want to say that the government commissioned a report called the Kendrick report. In the Kendrick report were a number of issues to address the mental health situations in this province. The Kendrick report made a very specific request to the government and one which the government could have introduced, but chose not to introduce.

What the Kendrick report had suggested to the government was a blue ribbon committee. The blue ribbon committee would have the responsibility to look at mental health issues and address the appropriate resources, programs and services that should be delivered to the mental health consumers in this province. I remember this government trying extremely hard, succeeding in bypassing the number of 47 different agencies and organizations who had belonged to the Kendrick group and adopted that recommendation. I want to say that the recommendation would have been one that would have guided this government towards the piece of legislation that we see here today, Bill No. 203. I'm sure that the minister who introduced the bill had indicated that he had talked to some 200 stakeholders across the province and that there are people in the community who support this piece of legislation.

I can say to you that had that committee been formed, this province would have been much better off because that committee would have sought input by the number of 47 different agencies and groups that were a part of the Kendrick report. It was difficult for the individuals because they had felt that when the government commissioned the Kendrick report study that they would at least adopt the recommendations and that they would at least listen to Dr. Kendrick's recommendations and, hopefully, adopt those recommendations.

[Page 7789]

I just want to say, Mr. Speaker, that part of the problem is the lack of facilities and resources. It should be known that the Department of Community Services certainly has created a problem here by placing a moratorium on small options homes and supervised apartments. I think it might have been just around your time coming in here, when there was an issue as a result of a very serious incident in a small option home in Dartmouth. It's a well-known problem - I should say it's a well-known case. The case was the Eddie Albert Sheppard case. When we first got elected to this Legislature, there was a tremendous cry by a number of individuals, including myself, to have a judicial inquiry into why this murder had occurred.

As a result, we had continuously, I know for at least approximately two weeks, during Question Period, asked this government to provide to the family a judicial inquiry as to how this murder occurred. The government recognized there was a need to look into this issue, and although there was not a judicial inquiry, there was an inquiry into the case. It's important to know that at that particular time, the government decided that there ought to be a moratorium on small options homes and supervised housing units, particularly known as supervised apartments.

The status of that has never come to the floor. The government has chosen not to increase the number of beds in small options homes or in supervised housing units. As a matter of fact, what the government is doing is actually decreasing the number of beds in small options homes and supervised units. For example, Mr. Speaker, I had a family who called my constituency office on a very important issue with respect to their son, and they certainly knew that it was not possible for them to manage the son in the home environment. What they wanted was to be able to talk to the government, and ask the government what kind of services were available to the family and what sort of resources might also be available. They had asked to have a placement in a small options home or a supervised apartment.

The individuals were told that there's approximately a two year waiting list, a two year waiting list for individuals with mental health disorders to enter a small options home or a supervised housing unit. Now, Mr. Speaker, that says something about government and the delivery of the programs and services that are needed to help our mental health consumers, particularly those individuals with mental health disorders. The very first thing we tend to do here is we tend to find the path of least resistance. If by crafting a piece of legislation, it offers one the right to write a certificate, and that certificate being approved, then putting an individual in a mental institution, because that individual may have acted up, then that is a very wrong direction.

I've heard about individuals - because they haven't taken their medication - having caused very serious problems within the family unit, situations which they can't handle, and individuals who are not taking their medications and refuse to take their medications and the family having difficulty addressing these issues.

[Page 7790]

I don't particularly think that you address these issues by legislation. I think that what you do address these issues by is having the resources and the expertise available through government to provide those families with the need to address those very important issues. I also had the experience of a community calling adult protection on an individual. Adult protection comes in and they do the assessment, an assessment that states that the individual in question must be causing harm to themselves or to others. Often there's an evaluation and an assessment. Right now, without this legislation, there's a reluctance to institutionalize individuals unless it's absolutely, absolutely necessary.

I think when we craft legislation, we need to take that kind of thinking into mind. We need to know this piece of legislation must be absolutely, absolutely necessary and that it must meet the test of time. It also must meet the test of helping the individuals the legislation is intended to help.

I do know my colleagues, the members for Halifax Needham and Halifax Chebucto, have spoken on these very needs of how the legislation should assist those individuals and protect them. I think the most single important part of this piece of legislation that we have difficulty with is, what are the rights of persons with mental disorders? I do know that we have people in our political Party on this side of the legislative floor who are paramedics, who are often called with respect to addressing some very serious problems around individuals with mental health issues and mental health disorders. I do say the member for Sackville-Cobequid, I know that member will probably speak to this piece of legislation, if he doesn't speak to this piece of legislation tonight, there will be another day.

I do know the government is not interested in rushing this, if the government of the day is interested in listening to what we have to say on this side of the legislative floor and our concerns with this piece of legislation. The member for Sackville-Cobequid, in his past profession as a paramedic, knows the need for the resources. He also understands the need for the facilities and the need for the appropriate treatment that ought to be provided to persons with mental health disorders.

We can talk about the quick fix there and I certainly see this as a piece of legislation that gives some false hope to individuals, to family members, to guardians, to people who are the caregivers of persons with mental health disorders who find it difficult to cope, think that this piece of legislation - the involuntary psychiatric treatment bill - will address the issue.

I want to say to you that is not the way we do this in Nova Scotia. I certainly hope that we have learned, because of past practices and past experiences, how easy and how quickly it is to have people sign certificates. If it's that easy without some checks and balances put in place - I do know that there is a board and I do know that there's a patients' rights advocacy group but I, along with my colleague who stated earlier, how does that person reach the resources that are available to them once they are apprehended. How are they going to reach those kinds of resources that are available to them, the advocacy group? If they don't

[Page 7791]

have a telephone number and if they're in such condition that they don't even request that, then they will continue to be locked up until such time that someone comes by, signs a certificate and then puts them into an institution.

[7:45 p.m.]

This is the kind of practice that hopefully a civilized society moves away from. We recognize the responsibility that is ours and the right to protect those individuals who are not able to help themselves. I can't imagine to know or to understand the frustration of a family member who has an individual with mental health disorders. I can't imagine and I don't profess to know the experiences that that family might have. I do know that when frustration sets in, the total need and the cry for help comes, that there has to be a government agency or organization that comes to the rescue and helps that family rather than just simply putting the individual in an institution through an involuntary psychiatric treatment certificate.

We have moved a long way from those days. I do know, Mr. Speaker, in your former career before coming to this Legislative Assembly, as a police officer, that you might have very well had to address some very important and serious issues around persons with mental health disorders. You know that often the case is that the individuals in question have not taken their treatment and, for some apparent reason because they have not taken their medical treatment or have not had the supervised personnel to assist them in taking those treatments, get into trouble. It's often that when they get into trouble that all of a sudden the bells start ringing and someone wants to do something about it. I would say to you that your government has an opportunity to look at this bill and think about the consequences of this piece of legislation.

I have a major concern, as well, Mr. Speaker, with this piece of legislation and the infringement upon one's individual rights. I don't know if this piece of legislation in itself is a violation of the Charter of Rights. I don't know. I hope I will know that when it crosses this floor and into the Red Room and people talk about this piece of legislation. If this piece of legislation does impede upon the rights of individuals through the Charter, then we need to know, and we need to know how it might.

I've listened to my colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, who was a participant and I believe stated had crafted some of the Ontario legislation around the Mental Health Act. I've listened to my learned colleague on the issue of the rights of individuals and speaking of Mr. Alan Borovoy, who . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber and I'd have to ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside if they have to talk, please. Thank you.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

[Page 7792]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I was starting to comment with respect to the rights of individuals. We need to know that there's a guarantee, that there's a protection of every right of every individual in this province, and that includes the individuals with mental health disorders.

Mr. Speaker, I want to go back to the real problem here, and the real problem here, as I see it - and I do believe that my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham, had touched on it - is there are three issues that have actually prompted this bill, and this bill probably would not be in the Legislature in its context if it weren't for the government's lack of addressing the issue of wait times, the lack of facilities and the lack of resources that are needed to address the issue of mental health disorders in this province.

I want to go back to the very real issue of small options homes. This was intended to provide services to individuals with mental health disorders in a community setting. It would allow mental health patients to come out of institutions, live in the communities, be a part of the communities, and also have the expertise that would be provided to them. There would be the professionals in those small options homes, who would have the professional experience to provide the proper needs, for example the dosage of medication, the needs to keep their medical appointments, the needs to assist them in reintegrating back into the community, all these needs.

Now we find, Mr. Speaker, that we have actually frozen that service to the individuals. Not only have we frozen the number of beds and the bed services in small options homes, but we have also decreased the amount of supervised housing units or supervised apartments, where people can go in with the expertise, again, and receive that expertise service.

I happened to tell you that I was surprised when the minister, who had made some acknowledgement, the Minister of Community Services had made some acknowledgement that in fact there was a need for a freeze on the moratorium of small options homes and supervised apartments, however, that they were going to look at that and move back into providing those services to persons in need. I do say that this very action has contributed to the problem of mental health services. This is but one service that had been available to mental health consumers across this province, but it was the service that were the initial services that would at least be the start of providing additional services.

There has been some talk that there has been some new money added into the budget so that the Minister of Health can provide additional financial resources to programs and services that will assist mental health consumers. I certainly hope that that is not the reason our Third Party in the Legislature is supporting this piece of legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Because of the late hour, would the honourable member like to move adjournment of debate, please?

[Page 7793]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I will now move adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, with the consent of the House, would you please revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 198 - Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission Act.

Bill No. 210 - Health Authorities Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

[Page 7794]

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

Bill No. 192 - Alexander Graham Bell Day Act.

Bill No. 205 - Securities Act.

Bill No. 206 - Camp Hill Foundation Act/Victoria General Hospital Foundation Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: As Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

Bill No. 174 - Auditor General Act.

Bill No. 180 - Municipal Government Act.

Bill No. 191 - Municipal Law Amendment (2005) Act.

Bill No. 208 - Workers' Compensation Act.

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

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

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, I am further directed to report that the committee has met and considered the following bills:

[Page 7795]

Bill No. 177 - Financial Measures (2005) Act.

Bill No. 202 - Children and Family Services Act.

Bill No. 207 - Provincial Finance Act.

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

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

Obviously the members of the Law Amendments Committee have been working very hard today on behalf of the Province of Nova Scotia and I want to congratulate them on behalf of the House.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the hours are from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. After the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Resolution No. 4077 which is on the regulation of gasoline prices and home heating oil prices and Bill No. 212, the Health Insurance Protection Act. I move adjournment of the House until tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

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

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 House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 7:57 p.m.]

[Page 7796]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4198

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas Steve Wadden of Glace Bay was honoured and recognized for arts and culture at the 2005 Outstanding Young Leader Awards and Dinner at Cape Breton University; and

Whereas Steve Wadden is an accomplished photographer, garnering praise from island musician J.P. Cormier; and

Whereas he has also done work for Vibe Marketing and Communications, the Cape Breton Highlands Project, Maritime Inns and Suites, and the English Country Garden;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Steve Wadden and wish him every success in future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4199

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas Terri Lynn MacDonald, who graduated from Sydney Academy in 1996 and is legally blind, has been volunteering at the police community office in Glace Bay for the past six years; and

Whereas Terri Lynn has assisted with such projects as Street Safety, the Skip for Food program, bicycle rodeos, Child Find fingerprinting, the Block Parent program, the annual Soap Box Derby and the Vials of Life program; and

Whereas she is an example of the commitment for the volunteers in her community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Terri Lynn MacDonald for her community commitment and enthusiasm and wish her great success in all her future endeavours.

[Page 7797]

RESOLUTION NO. 4200

By: Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay)

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

Whereas the Cape Breton High School (Division I) basketball league is very proud of the recipients of the 2005 Most Valuable Player Award; and

Whereas on Wednesday, May 11, 2005, the Cape Breton High School Basketball League honoured two players in the league; and

Whereas Angela Fifield of Sydney Academy, and Evan Donovan from Glace Bay High School were awarded most valuable players;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Angela Fifield and Evan Donovan on their athletic success and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4201

By: Mr. Gordon Gosse (Cape Breton Nova)

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

Whereas the Canadian Tire Foundation for Families is introducing a new signature program, Canadian Tire JumpStart; and

Whereas Canadian Tire is committed to giving children the opportunity to participate in sports and recreation so that they can develop life skills, self-esteem and confidence; and

Whereas by providing financially-disadvantaged children in Canada with an opportunity to participate in sports and recreational activities, it will provide them all a sporting chance;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislative Assembly congratulate Canadian Tire for their commitment to the youth of today, a cornerstone that will undoubtedly go a long way in moulding today's youth into the citizens of tomorrow.

[Page 7798]

RESOLUTION NO. 4202

By: Ms. Joan Massey (Dartmouth East)

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

Whereas on November 24, 2004, I had the honour of attending the open house for the newly expanded Akerley Campus in Dartmouth East, which is the largest campus in the Nova Scotia Community College province-wide network; and

Whereas those attending the open house were guided on tours of the welding facility - with 40 work bays - and the new culinary facilities, which I can attest, put on quite a beautiful and tasty display; and

Whereas the $5 million enhancement of the Akerley Campus has enabled the college to modernize facilities, increase student capacity and enhance skill-driven learning programs across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all those who contributed to the expansion of the Akerley Community College Campus, and wish all the students now attending all the best in their studies and future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4203

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 fire can strike at any given moment, day or night, and cause terrible destruction and sometimes even tragedy; and

Whereas if it were not for the quick and alert actions by three individuals in early April, tragedy could have struck in the Town of Hantsport, after fire broke out in the home of 90-year-old Stan Crossman; and

Whereas 12-year-old Michelle O'Brien and her friend Sharon Smith spotted the large fire burning on Main Street in Hantsport, and while they quickly called 911, Brent Starratt, who was walking up Main Street, saw the flames and smoke billowing from the Crossman house and put his life at risk by entering the structure and helping Mr. Crossman to safety;

[Page 7799]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House applaud the heroic efforts of Brent Starratt and the quick thinking of Michelle and Sharon in getting the Hantsport Fire Department to the scene, and the great work by Hantsport firefighters in keeping the 100-year-old home, while being gutted, from burning to the ground.

RESOLUTION NO. 4204

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 Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation is now preparing for a 2005 season full of activity; and

Whereas the Municipality of West Hants had an exceptionally impressive display of riders and awards in 2004, with Laura Shearer winning championship honours in the Junior Hunter competition and the Open Hunter division; Kevin Crosby, Jr. being named champion in the Pre-Green Hunter 1st year category, and Reserve champion in the Junior Hunter Competition; while Mary Jopling from Newport Corner won in the Green Hunter 1st year competition; and Jeanine Deluca of Newport was named champion in the Level 2 Jumper category; and

Whereas other award winners from the Municipality of West Hants were Jill Swain from Ardoise, who captured the Level 5 Championship Jumper Class aboard her horse Oxford, and Dr. Lisa Van Zoost of Falmouth, who took home Reserve Championship Honours in the Adult Amateur Division aboard Providence and in the Pre-Green Hunter second year, riding Winchester;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend their best wishes to Kevin, Mary, Jeanine, Jill and Lisa for their successful 2004 season and wish them every success in 2005 and beyond.

[Page 7800]

RESOLUTION NO. 4205

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the All Saints Hospital Auxiliary and its many volunteer members have given so unselfishly of their time to help take some of the strain off of the health care community; and

Whereas the auxiliary has had many projects over the past few years, including participating in the project called Sick But Not Scared, supporting the Highland Fling with monetary donations, holding many fundraisers over the years to help purchase hospital equipment such as exercise machines for Oxford Physiotherapy, a fridge for the emergency department, vital sign monitors, blanket warmers and much more; and

Whereas the auxiliary has made a huge difference in the community, sometimes making life easier for patients in the simplest ways by donating afghans to the Palliative Care Department, providing newspapers to two different nursing homes, providing tray favours on all special occasions, and visiting patients every month;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the All Saints Hospital Auxiliary and its many volunteers and thank them for their dedication and hard work to help make the health community in their area a better place.

RESOLUTION NO. 4206

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the All Saints Hospital Health Care Foundation of Springhill has made a huge contribution to the health care facilities in its area; and

Whereas the foundation, through many fundraisers and the generous help of residents, businesses and estates, have been able to donate seriously-needed hospital equipment and services to the various facilities in the foundation community; and

[Page 7801]

Whereas the foundation assisted with the completion of the helipad project, funding for a new telephone system for the hospital, diagnostic imaging touch electrocardiograph machine, vital signs monitors, physiotherapy traction and treatment table, an industrial dryer, as well as donating to various non-profit organizations in need;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the All Saints Community Health Care Foundation on these outstanding achievements and thank them for the declaration and hard work given for the betterment of the health community.

RESOLUTION NO. 4207

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas May 16th to May 21st is EMS Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas we have the highest trained and most dedicated professionals who are recognized across the country for their high level of skill and professionalism; and

Whereas during EMS Week, these dedicated partners in the health care system will raise the awareness of their duties and the important role they play in the delivery of health care in Nova Scotia by sharing the various aspects of their duties;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature recognize May 16th to May 21st as EMS Week and acknowledge the important role paramedics play in our health care system and thank them for their continued and selfless commitment to our province and residents.

RESOLUTION NO. 4208

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas Porters Lake resident Krista Bona is the acting chairperson for the Nova Scotia Block Parent Advisory Board; and

Whereas 10 years ago, the Block Parent Association had 115 groups and today has dwindled to 35, due to a strict and frustrating screening process; and

[Page 7802]

Whereas Krista Bona hopes new screening procedures to be approved within the next few months will create uniformity across the country and more volunteers will come forward to create these safe places children in distress can turn to;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Krista Bona, the members of the Nova Scotia Block Parent Advisory Board, RCMP officers, and volunteers, for the time and effort they have dedicated to this very important community service.

RESOLUTION NO. 4209

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Annapolis Valley-based writer Jonathan Campbell took home two awards from the recent Atlantic Book Awards held at Alderney Landing; and

Whereas Campbell's first novel called Tarcadia is about a group of young friends in Sydney, Cape Breton, who find a raft on the tar ponds; and

Whereas Campbell received the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, and the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jonathan Campbell on the success of his first novel, and wish him many more years of inspirational writing.

RESOLUTION NO. 4210

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas turning a passion for science into a successful career comes easily for Jaime MacDonald, a graduate of Horton High School in Kentville; and

Whereas Jaime's love of science led her and her partner, Ian Dugas, to a gold medal at last year's Canada Wide Science Fair for their project which explored how blueberries can fight disease-causing bacteria which in turn led to numerous scholarship offers, including a four-year full tuition scholarship to Memorial University in Newfoundland where the science fair was held; and

[Page 7803]

Whereas not only will Jaime finish school almost debt-free with a pharmacy degree, but has a job working as a researcher in the biochemistry department at the university;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jaime MacDonald on her scholarship to Memorial University of Newfoundland, and wish her continued success in her research and career endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4211

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Northeast Kings Badminton Club has many stars, and as part of the Nova Scotia team won the Atlantic Regional Badminton Championship; and

Whereas Ilana Vanderweit of Windsor was the big individual winner at the competition, capturing the Atlantic under-16 titles in girls singles and girls doubles with her sister, Jacobi, who is the under-14 singles champion; Laura Roy of Northeast Kings was runner-up in the under-14 girls singles and girls doubles; and Christine Manning and Jenny McGinnis of Northeast Kings were consolation winners in the under-14 girls doubles; and

Whereas all of the members of the Northeast Kings Badminton Club did a fantastic job at this year's competition, and they have proven to be a force to be reckoned with;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Northeast Kings Badminton Club on their successful participation in the Atlantic Regional Championship.

RESOLUTION NO. 4212

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas retirement didn't last long for offensive lineman Bruce Beaton, who took a break from the Canadian Football League after winning the 2003 Grey Cup with the Edmonton Eskimos; and

Whereas Beaton lives in Kentville with his wife, Michelle, and two children, but is ready to head back to the Eskimos this season on a one-year contract; and

[Page 7804]

Whereas as an offensive lineman, Beaton played 11 seasons in the CFL, the last six with Edmonton and one in the United States Football League; he is a six-time divisional all-star, two-time nominee for the CFL's outstanding lineman award, and is reporting to the Eskimos training camp this month;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bruce Beaton on his return to the Edmonton Eskimos, and wish him future success in his football career.

RESOLUTION NO. 4213

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas three Kings County athletes will have the opportunity to compete for spots on the Nova Scotia Track and Field team for this Summer's Canada Games in Saskatchewan; and

Whereas Chris Theriau, Katrina Morse and Mason Foote, all members of the Annapolis Valley Running Club, have earned spots on the Nova Scotia Canada Games 'core team'; and

Whereas 'core team' experience will give these young athletes an opportunity to attend camps and seminars with older athletes and gain valuable experience before the final selection for the Canada Games team held in July;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these young, dedicated athletes on making the 'core team' for the Canada Games, and wish them luck in their future track and field careers.

RESOLUTION NO. 4214

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas Darren Burns has won national recognition as the 2005 recipient of the Father George Kehoe Memorial Award as Canadian Inter-University Sportsmen's Hockey Coach of the Year; and

[Page 7805]

Whereas Darren Burns lives in Port Williams with his wife, Lana, and son, Brady, and has been at the helm of the Acadia Axemen hockey team for four years, improving the team's record every year and making them one of the best teams in the nation, being ranked third in the country for three straight weeks during their season; and

Whereas Burns was instrumental in leading the Axemen to the playoffs for the first time since 2001, and becomes the second Acadia coach to win the Kehoe Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Darren Burns on receiving the men's hockey Coach of the Year Award, and wish him continued success on and off the ice.

RESOLUTION NO. 4215

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Kings Transit Authority will be honoured by the Canadian Urban Transit Authority at the organization's annual conference on May 31st in Gatineau, Quebec; and

Whereas the Kings Transit Authority will be recognized in the Innovative Approach to Regional Transit category for their recent announcement by general manager Brian Hackett to provide five New Flyer low-floor buses to Kings County bus riders; and

Whereas Bruce Hackett attributes the award to the hard work of the recently-retired General Manager Andy Patterson and the Kings Transit team for the quality of work and commitment to the project;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Kings Transit Authority and all of its employees on the award, and thank them for recognizing the needs of the community.

RESOLUTION NO. 4216

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

[Page 7806]

Whereas Kentville's husband and wife Ironman team, Terry Dean and Sharon Adams-Dean are lending their support to the Kings County Learning Association's major fundraiser, the Literacy Mile being held June 12th; and

Whereas Terry Dean and Sharon Adams-Dean are co-chairing the Literacy Mile, which will attempt to raise one loonie for each person in Kings County by exchanging participants' donations for paper loonies to be laid down on a one-mile route in support of adult literacy programs; and

Whereas the Kings County Learning Association provides literacy programs to adults who, for a variety of reasons, did not succeed in school;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Terry Dean and Sharon Adams-Dean on their commitment to this year's fundraising event, and the staff and volunteers at the Kings County Learning Association for their commitment and dedication to the community.

RESOLUTION NO. 4217

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Kings County Learning Association, one of 29 non-profit learning networks in the province, are conducting a fundraiser June 12th called the Literacy Mile; and

Whereas Literacy Mile Project Coordinator David Keddy is excited about the community involvement where participants can exchange their donation for paper loonies that they will lay down on a one-mile route in support of adult literacy programs provided by the Kings County Learning Association; and

Whereas a recent survey shows one in four Atlantic Canadians have difficulty reading, which only stresses the importance of providing support systems for literacy programs across the province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the Kings County Learning Association, and the organizers of the Literacy Mile for their contribution to their community and their support for this important cause.

[Page 7807]

RESOLUTION NO. 4218

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas community activist Sharon Criss hopes African-Nova Scotian youth realize that education is the key to a better future; and

Whereas Sharon Criss recently went back to school as a mature student at the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus in Kentville to study business; and

Whereas in addition to attending college she takes the initiative to attend and support educational and cultural events in the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Sharon Criss on her decision to return to school and fulfill her dreams, and also for being an inspiration to friends and community members.

RESOLUTION NO. 4219

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation is now preparing for a 2005 season full of activity; and

Whereas Annie Chute of Port Williams was the 2004 Junior Pleasure Horse and Junior Road Hack Champion, while Rebecca Johnson of Port Williams settled for Reserve Champion in the Jumping 4 category, as did Nancy Webster-Pineo of Kentville in the Carriage Driving Class and Jennifer Sarsfield of Canning who took home two Reserve Championship honours in the first year of Green Hunter and in the Level 5 competition of Jumper; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Equestrian Federation (NSEF) was formed in the mid-1970s as the official governing body for all aspects of equine and equestrian activity in Nova Scotia and is made up of some 25 member associations, about 60 horse competitions, and in excess of 1,000 individual members;

[Page 7808]

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs of this House extend their sincere congratulations to Annie, Rebecca, and Nancy for their successful 2004 season and wish them every success in 2005 and beyond.

RESOLUTION NO. 4220

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas three female boxers from the Evangeline Trail Amateur Boxing Club recently competed in the Cadet National Championships in Prince George, British Columbia; and

Whereas Amber Atwell and Rachel Aalders won silver medals in their respective weight classes, and Monica Balcom captured the bronze; and

Whereas in addition to this, all three girls were scheduled to participate on the Canada Games core team before officials at the Games pulled the plug on female boxing due to a shortage of competitors;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Amber Atwell, Rachel Aalders, and Monica Balcom on their medal achievements and wish them continued success in their boxing careers.

RESOLUTION NO. 4221

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Sheet Harbour)

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

Whereas Chef Bill Weathers and his wife, Gloria, are taking their first crack at the restaurant business; and

Whereas March 12th marked the opening of the Canso Rose Family Restaurant owned by Bill and his wife, Gloria; and

Whereas the restaurant employs 10 people and has a cheerful and pleasant atmosphere;

[Page 7809]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bill and Gloria Weathers on the beginning of a successful and rewarding business venture, and wish them luck serving the community great food and good times.

RESOLUTION NO. 4222

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Diane LaRue, an employee of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, is an expert on Nova Scotian plants and has been responsible for roadside vegetation along our highways; and

Whereas Diane has recently published a book entitled Common Wildflowers and Plants of Nova Scotia, which was launched at the Sackville Public Library; and

Whereas Ms. LaRue's book reflects her expertise, knowledge and interest in our province's natural plant life;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Diane LaRue for her recent book launch and wish her every success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4223

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Halifax West High School students and staff have a history of actively supporting charities and community projects; and

Whereas Halifax West High School recently held its second annual Head for a Cure fundraiser to raise funds for cancer research; and

Whereas 15 students, and vice-principal Tim Simony, either cut their hair or shaved their heads as part of the effort which raised $5,325 and greatly surpassed their goal;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate all those involved with Head for a Cure at Halifax West, and recognize the leadership shown by students and staff alike.

[Page 7810]

RESOLUTION NO. 4224

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church held Celebration 2005 to honour the work done by the various church ministries and committees; and

Whereas the day's events included cultural music, dance and food, as well as performances by the choir and the children of the parish; and

Whereas the day was a tremendous success thanks to the work of Father Bernie O'Neill and the many dedicated parish volunteers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Father O'Neill and his parishioners on their successful celebration which highlighted the deep sense of spirituality and community within the church.

RESOLUTION NO. 4225

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Andrew Saunders of the Cygnus Diving Club competed in the Atlantic Diving Championship where he won two gold, a silver, as well as a bronze medal; and

Whereas Andrew's success at the Atlantic competition secures his position as a competitor at the national competition in Quebec City this July; and

Whereas this is an incredible accomplishment for Andrew Saunders who, at 14 years of age, will compete for Nova Scotia at the national level;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Andrew Saunders for his hard work and determination and wish him every success in the future.

[Page 7811]

RESOLUTION NO. 4226

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas Dress for Success Halifax is a non-profit organization that helps low-income women make successful transitions into the workforce; and

Whereas on June 5th Dress for Success Halifax will host the fifth Totally Suitable Tea Party fundraiser to honour three women who have made a difference in our community; and

Whereas Aileen Reid, owner of AP Reid Insurance Stores; Judy Steele, president of the Halifax Club, and Supreme Court Judge Suzanne Hood will be recognized at the event;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dress for Success Halifax and the three outstanding women receiving recognition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4227

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Scholastic Chess Challenge was held at Mount Saint Vincent University on March 27, 2005, for students from Primary to Grade 12; and

Whereas Luke Richards, Wajeeh Khan, Philip Cass, and Peter Pinto were the team representing Halifax West High School; and

Whereas the Halifax West chess team won the prestigious high school title and the distinction of defeating the two-time defending champions, CEC of Truro;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Halifax West chess team for capturing the 2005 Nova Scotia high school title.

[Page 7812]

RESOLUTION NO. 4228

By: Ms. Diana Whalen (Halifax Clayton Park)

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

Whereas the International Air Transport Association and the Airports Council International surveyed 1,000 air travellers globally on the quality of customer service; and

Whereas as a result, the Halifax International Airport has been awarded the best airport in North and South America as well as the best airport under 5 million passengers per year and for the second time has been named the best domestic airport; and

Whereas the Halifax International Airport Authority has worked tirelessly for the last five years with an aggressive plan to improve and expand customer service and facilities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Halifax International Airport Authority for their excellent efforts and recognize the tremendous economic importance of the airport to Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 4229

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas many veterans continue to volunteer long after they have finished with their public duty; and

Whereas Mr. Al Leadbeater has long been a great and valuable volunteer with both the Elmsdale and the Enfield Legions; and

Whereas on May 27th, on Volunteers Awards Night, Al Leadbeater will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for his years of exemplary service to his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Al Leadbeater on receiving the Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank him for ensuring that we 'never forget'.

[Page 7813]

RESOLUTION NO. 4230

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas volunteers can make a community worth living in; and

Whereas Ethel Quesnel has been an ardent volunteer for the Elmsdale Legion, the Poppy Campaign, Sharing and Caring Angel Tree Food Bank, the Canadian Cancer Society and visits Camp Hill veterans; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Ethel Quesnel will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her generous donation of her valuable time and labour;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Ethel Quesnel on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for her selfless work easing the life of those less fortunate.

RESOLUTION NO. 4231

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas parent participation in early education is vital to improving the school system; and

Whereas Karen Sanford has served for five years as the president of the Parent Teacher Action Group as well as on the School Advisory Council at the Enfield District School; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Karen Sanford will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her dedication to the parents' role in the early education of our children;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Karen Sanford on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for her efforts as president of the Parent Teacher Action Group and on the School Advisory Council for Enfield District School.

[Page 7814]

RESOLUTION NO. 4232

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas setting children on a path of exercising will lead to healthier, happier lives; and

Whereas Kathryn Butler has taken the East Hants Tumblers, a club dedicated to providing exercise and fun for kindergarten-aged children, from 30 members to 150 over her eight years as president; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Kathryn Butler will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her hard work and willingness to volunteer her energy and personal assets;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Kathryn Butler on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for providing a valuable health service to the children of the East Hants Tumblers.

RESOLUTION NO. 4233

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas music soothes the soul and eases the mind; and

Whereas Kay Dillman has been a central figure for many years to the East Hants Bluegrass Club and the Downeast Bluegrass Society, filling positions as secretary and president; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Kay Dillman will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her role in bringing bluegrass music to the ears of many over the years;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Kay Dillman on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for many toe-tapping good times.

[Page 7815]

RESOLUTION NO. 4234

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas volunteers provide services that no government could possibly afford; and

Whereas Margaret Robinson has been a steadfast volunteer with the Shubenacadie Legion Branch 111 Ladies Auxiliary; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Ms. Robinson will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award in part for her attention to seniors when the power goes off;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Margaret Robinson on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for selflessly being there when someone is needed.

RESOLUTION NO. 4235

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas volunteers bring life to communities in so many ways; and

Whereas Mary Bond has long been a central volunteer in and around the community of Noel; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Ms. Bond will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her valuable efforts with her church and the Noel and District Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mary Bond on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for helping to make her community a livable and lively place to be.

[Page 7816]

RESOLUTION NO. 4236

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas volunteers often have many worthy causes on the go at the same time; and

Whereas Nina MacDonell of Mount Uniacke has lent her time and talents to a variety of good works, from the Wishgivers to the Uniacke Heritage Society to the Poppy Campaign to the Year of the Veteran, to list a few; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, Ms. MacDonell will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Shining Star Award for her many and valuable contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Nina MacDonell on her Shining Star Award from the Municipality of East Hants and thank her for her gifts of her time and efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 4237

By: Mr. John MacDonell (Hants East)

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

Whereas volunteers set a shining example of the good that we are all capable of doing; and

Whereas such an example by parents often instinctively compels their children to follow in their footsteps; and

Whereas on May 27th on Volunteers Awards Night, the Sweeney family of Enfield will be recognized by the Municipality of East Hants with the Family Volunteer of the Year Award;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Reg, Reeta, Ellen and Mark Sweeney on their Family Volunteer of the Year Award and thank them for determining to make such a great difference to so many good causes.