Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-89

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

WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
TPW - Shelburne Co.: Swains Rd. - Reopen, Mr. C. Parker 7818
Educ.: Tuition Fees - Reduce, Ms. D. Whalen 7818
Energy - Gas Stations: Closings - Concern, Mr. C. Parker 7818
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 217, Fair Fuel-pricing Act, Mr. D. Dexter 7819
No. 218, Motor Vehicle Act, Ms. D. Whalen 7819
No. 219, Trade Union Act, Mr. D. Dexter 7819
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4238, B.C. Election: James, Carole/Campbell, Gordon - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Dexter 7820
Vote - Affirmative 7820
Res. 4239, Legislative Staff: Role - Importance, Mr. Manning MacDonald 7820
Vote - Affirmative 7821
Res. 4240, Register.com - Expansion: Participants - Commend,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 7821
Vote - Affirmative 7822
Res. 4241, East. Pass. Educ. Ctr.: Girl's Lacrosse Team - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 7822
Vote - Affirmative 7823
Res. 4242, Patriquin, Cindy: Adventure Art/Virginia Herron -
Best Wishes, Mr. G. Hines 7823
Vote - Affirmative 7824
Res. 4243, Williams, Lillian - Birthday (107th), Mr. C. Parker 7824
Vote - Affirmative 7825
Res. 4244, Dooks Fam.: Addition - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 7825
Vote - Affirmative 7826
Res. 4245, Sydney Ports Access Rd. - Opening, Mr. G. Gosse 7826
Vote - Affirmative 7826
Res. 4246, Simmonds, Marko: Acad. Success - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Colwell 7827
Vote - Affirmative 7827
Res. 4247, Energy in Transition Symposium: Organizers - Congrats.,
(by Hon. J. Muir) The Premier 7827
Vote - Affirmative 7828
Res. 4248, East. Passage Educ. Ctr.: Cheerleading Team -
Championship, Mr. K. Deveaux 7828
Vote - Affirmative 7829
Res. 4249, Gunn, Dr. Jim: AVRSB - Contribution, Mr. L. Glavine 7829
Vote - Affirmative 7830
Res. 4250, Archibald, Donnelly/Avery, Cory: Can. Games -
Success Wish, Mr. R. Chisholm 7830
Vote - Affirmative 7830
Res. 4251, Parsons, Ashley: Success - Congrats.,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7830
Vote - Affirmative 7831
Res. 4252, Hill 'n' Dale 4-H Club - Pub. Speaking: Participants -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 7831
Vote - Affirmative 7832
Res. 4253, TPW: Kennedy Lake & Burke's Lake - Pave,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7832
Res. 4254, VON - Staff/Vols.: Contribution - Recognize, Mr. S. McNeil 7832
Vote - Affirmative 7833
Res. 4255, Gerrow, Michael - Boxing Title, Hon. C. Clarke 7833
Vote - Affirmative 7834
Res. 4256, Gaudet, Richard: Stress Testing Equip. - Donation,
Mr. H. Theriault 7834
Vote - Affirmative 7835
Res. 4257, Cameron, John Allan - Benefit Concert: Participants -
Thank, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 7835
Vote - Affirmative 7835
Res. 4258, Nat. Res. - C.B. Strip Mining: Residents - Consult,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 7836
Res. 4259, New Cornwall - Anniv. (200th), Hon. M. Baker 7836
Vote - Affirmative 7837
Res. 4260, Sydney Lodge 84 - Anniv. (100th), Mr. Manning MacDonald 7837
Vote - Affirmative 7838
Res. 4261, McDonald's Restaurants - Charity: Donations - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Christie 7838
Vote - Affirmative 7838
Res. 4262, Poitras, Wendie-Lee: Commun. Commitment - Thank,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7839
Vote - Affirmative 7839
Res. 4263, Rushton, Susan: Commun. Pharmacy - Serv. (25 yrs.),
Mr. W. Estabrooks 7839
Vote - Affirmative 7840
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 905, Health - Personal Use Allowance: Increase - Details,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7840
No. 906, Health: Pharmacare Prem./GIS - Payment Details,
Mr. S. McNeil 7841
No. 907, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Zonolite: Warnings - Details,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 7842
No. 908, Gaming - Great Cdn. Gaming Corp./Gaming Corp.:
Talks - Details, Mr. D. Graham 7844
No. 909, Fin.: Gas Regulation - Introduce, Mr. D. Dexter 7845
No. 910, Health - Home Care Workers: Condition - Improve,
Mr. D. Dexter 7846
No. 911, Health - Cap. Dist.: Anaesthesiologist - Departure Confirm,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7847
No. 912, Health - Involuntary Separation Form: Wording - Change,
Mr. D. Dexter 7849
No. 913, Health Prom. - Commun. Grps.: Liability Ins. Problem -
Action, Mr. G. Gosse 7850
No. 914, Health - Emerg. Rm. Closures: Acceptability - Explain,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7851
No. 915, Ins. - Cap: Minor Injuries - Define, Mr. G. Steele 7852
No. 916, Health - Fishermen's Mem. Hosp.: Nurse Shortage -
Details, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7853
No. 917, TPW - Trucks: Weight Requirements - Meet, Mr. C. Parker 7855
No. 918, TPW - Whale Cove Rd.: Guardrail - Erect,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 7856
No. 919, Com. Serv. - Early Childhood Educators: Wages - Raise,
Ms. M. More 7857
No. 920, Econ. Dev. - CBRM/Guys. Mun.: Garbage Transport. -
C.B. & Cent. N.S. Railway, Mr. R. MacKinnon 7858
No. 921, Agric. & Fish. - Lobster Season: LFA 34 - Violence Prevent,
Mr. H. Theriault 7859
No. 922, Agric. & Fish. - Agric. Crisis: Address - Plans,
Mr. J. MacDonell 7861
No. 923, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Land Reg. System: Fees - Details,
Ms. D. Whalen 7862
No. 924, TPW - Sydney Tar Ponds: Cleanup - Plans, Mr. R. MacKinnon 7863
No. 925, Educ. - Cole Hbr. HS: Overcrowding - Plans, Mr. D. Dexter 7864
No. 926, PSC: Hum. Res. Plan - Cost, Ms. D. Whalen 7865
No. 927, TPW - Northwest Arm/Oakland Rd.: Transport. Rte. -
Protect, Ms. M. Raymond 7866
No. 928, Health - Nursing Home Beds: Anna. Valley West - Needs,
Mr. H. Theriault 7868
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 4077, Gov't. (N.S.) - Gas/Home Heating Fuel: Regulation -
Legislate, Mr. F. Corbett 7869
Mr. F. Corbett 7869
Hon. B. Barnett 7872
Mr. Gerald Sampson 7877
Mr. C. Parker 7881
Hon. C. d'Entremont 7885
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 212, Health Insurance Protection Act 7886
Ms. M. Raymond 7886
Hon. K. Morash 7888
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 7892
Mr. R. MacKinnon 7892
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 7895
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 7897
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 7898
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Can. Summer Games Team - Guys.-Sheet Hbr.:
Participants Ability - Recognize:
Mr. R. Chisholm 7899
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 7901
Ms. D. Whalen 7904
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 19th at 12:00 noon 7907
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4264, Jorgensen, Lisa - Debating Championship,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 7908
Res. 4265, Hatcher, Beth: University Success - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 7908
Res. 4266, Williams, David: CD Release - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 7909
Res. 4267, Mem. HS Magic - Girls Basketball Championship,
Hon. C. Clarke 7909
Res. 4268, Marine Atl. - Privatization: Prevention - Decision Support,
Hon. C. Clarke 7910
Res. 4269, Verschuren, Annette: Home Depot Opening - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 7910
Res. 4270, Kenney, Wayne & Gail - N. Sydney McDonald's:
McHappy Day - Success Wish, Hon. C. Clarke 7911
Res. 4271, Energy - Techsploration: Participants - Contribution,
Hon. C. Clarke 7911
Res. 4272, Lighthouses - Protect: Efforts - Support, Mr. S. McNeil 7912
Res. 4273, Khouri, Rana: Hfx. Mainland North Vol. Recognition Comm. -
Contribution, Ms. D. Whalen 7912
Res. 4274, Fowler, Hal - Bible Hill Rep. Vol. of the Yr., Hon. J. Muir 7913
Res. 4275, Westville - Residents: Vol. Efforts - Applaud, Mr. J. DeWolfe 7913
Res. 4276, MacDonald, Susanna/Berfelo, Herman/Porter, Tina/
Fisher, Jenna: Equestrian Season - Best Wishes, Mr. B. Taylor 7914
Res. 4277, Cussen, Dr. Michael - Hants Shore Health Clinic:
Work - Applaud, Hon. R. Russell 7914
Res. 4278, St. F.X.: Graduates 2005 - Congrats., Hon. A. MacIsaac 7915
Res. 4279, Connor, Chris/Konchalski, Maria/Van der Linden, Daniel:
Can. Summer Games - Selection, Hon. A. MacIsaac 7915
Res. 4280, Merritt, Jackie & Kelsey/Chisholm, Jessie:
Equestrian Season - Best Wishes, Mr. W. Dooks 7916
Res. 4281, East. Marine Ryl. Cdn. Army Cadet Corps (2741) -
Review: Award Recipients - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 7916
Res. 4282, Khouri, Rana - Hfx. Mainland North Vol.
Recognition Comm.: Contribution - Recognize, Ms. D. Whalen 7917
Res. 4283, Hfx. Reg. Sch. Bd. - Primary Info Pkg.: Prep. -
Staff Recognize, Ms. D. Whalen 7917
Res. 4284, Dalziel, Andrew/MacMillan, Keith/Lawrence, Izak/
Duinker, Emma: Can. Summer Games - Selection, Mr. R. Chisholm 7918

[Page 7817]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 18, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature recognize the athletic ability of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour individuals who have been named to the 2005 Canada Summer Games Team, and also recognize the dedication taken by 449 Nova Scotians in preparing for the games in August in Regina.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

7817

[Page 7818]

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from concerned residents near Swains Road in Shelburne County who would like to see their four and a half mile gravel road reopened as a temporary detour. The operative clause reads, "We petition and request that you, as Minister of Transportation and Public Works, reopen the Swains Road whereby it can be used as a detour during the replacement of the Port Clyde Bridge." This is signed by 303 residents of the area and I, too, have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by Nova Scotians concerned about the high and ever-rising cost of post-secondary tuition. I have affixed my signature thereto.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre on an introduction.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, in our west gallery we have members of the Canadian Union of Public Employees and they are - and I would ask them to stand when I mention their name and receive the reception of the House - Kim Cail, with the VON in Cumberland County, is a home care worker with CUPE Local 3953, Roberta Hickman, home care worker with New Waterford Homemakers Service, CUPE Local 3986. Jacquie Bramwell and Ruth Comer are also in the gallery. Could they rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition from a number of independent gasoline retailers from throughout Nova Scotia who are very concerned about the number of gas stations that are closing in this province and are asking very much for price regulation of home heating fuel and gasoline. The operative clause reads:

"The undersigned gasoline retailers strongly urge the government to introduce legislation to regulate gasoline prices, including minimum and maximum retail margins, before the end of the Spring sitting of this Legislature."

This has been signed by 51 gasoline retailers from around the province and I, too, have affixed my signature.

[Page 7819]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 217 - Entitled an Act to Ensure Fair and Equitable Fuel Prices in Nova Scotia. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 218 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 293 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Motor Vehicle Act. (Ms. Diana Whalen)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park on an introduction.

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, thank you very much, I appreciate that. I should have done the introduction first. I would like to draw the members' attention to the west gallery where we have a visitor today. Her name is Dawn Sloane, and she's the councillor for Downtown Halifax, a very active councillor with a strong voice for her community. I welcome her here today. Perhaps Dawn would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston on an introduction.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to also draw the attention of the members in the House to the west gallery where we have students from Graham Creighton Junior High School, Grade 8, 23 students altogether, with their teacher, Melinda Day, and a very good friend of mine, Craig Williams, and John Peter McNeil. I would ask them all to stand and receive a warm welcome from the House.

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome all guests to the gallery today.

Bill No. 219 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 475 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Trade Union Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

[Page 7820]

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. 4238

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

Whereas the British Columbia NDP won an additional 30 seats in yesterday's provincial election, under the leadership of Carole James, thereby transforming the legislative situation in that province; and

Whereas Premier Gordon Campbell won a second consecutive term, although with a minority of the votes cast; and

Whereas British Columbians reversed recent trends by voting in significantly greater numbers, and by giving their support to a proposal for a form of proportional representation;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate British Columbians for demonstrating that Canadians are ready to participate in huge numbers in the political process, and also congratulate Carole James and Gordon Campbell on their respective victories.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 4239

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

[Page 7821]

Whereas on April 18th the Spring session of the Legislature reconvened; and

Whereas each session we, as members, have the pleasure of meeting many new and enthusiastic youth interested in learning about the workings of the Legislature by becoming Pages and these youth play a valuable role in the daily activities of the House; and

Whereas we must also realize the importance of all those who remain so helpful and professional throughout the year, including the commissionaires and staff from the Legislative Library, Legislative TV, Legislative Counsel, Hansard, as well as Mike Laffin, Peter Theriault, and all other legislative staff;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House realize the important role these individuals play during the session and thank them for their hard work, professionalism and dedication. (Standing Ovation)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4240

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

Whereas Register.com is a leading provider of global domain names, Web sites, e-mail accounts, and other Internet services, with headquarters in New York City and a facility in Yarmouth; and

Whereas Nova Scotia's top-rate infrastructure, a loyal and talented workforce, and strong community support attracted Register.com to Yarmouth in the first place and has given the company the confidence to expand its Yarmouth operation; and

[Page 7822]

Whereas Register.com is positioned to increase its workforce in Nova Scotia by over 300 jobs, to as many as 570 positions, including 120 higher-skilled, higher-paid jobs, and as many as 150 new work-from-home positions from southwestern and rural Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House commend the people of Yarmouth, NSBI, and Register.com for recognizing the strength of Nova Scotia's labour force and creating the right conditions to allow the company to create new jobs 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.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable member for Cape Breton West on an introduction.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you, and through you to all members of the House of Assembly, an individual in your gallery, the Speaker's Gallery, a member of the Halifax Regional Municipality, a very prominent and active member of that council, Councillor Sue Uteck, and I would ask if Ms. Uteck would rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4241

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 Eastern Passage Education Centre has a strong tradition of excellent athletic teams and has become a formidable force in junior high school athletics in its short history; and

[Page 7823]

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre hosted the 2004-05 Halifax Regional Junior High School Girls Lacrosse Championship; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage team finished second in the championship and, as a result, captured a banner for the school;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the Eastern Passage Education Centre Girls Lacrosse team on finishing second at the Capital Region championship and winning a banner for their school.

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 Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to bring to your attention and to the attention of the House - I'm not going to try to name all these folks, but I'd like to bring to your attention these gasoline retailers from around the province who are here today. They have a particular interest in the fuel pricing bill that was just introduced and I know that they're here to take the opportunity to try to speak to members of the Legislature. They're here to make a point that they're in need of the assistance of the House of Assembly. I would ask all members to give them a warm round of applause. (Applause)

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

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4242

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

[Page 7824]

Whereas Adventure Art, a business in Fall River since 1993, continues to create considerable interest in classes for local area residents wanting to learn more about Spring arts and crafts classes; and

Whereas Adventure Art is described as providing inspiration, guidance and instruction to community members young and old; and

Whereas 11-year-old Virginia Herron is learning plenty as she was recently featured on the front page of the community newspaper, The Laker, showing her creative and artistic talents while reporting brisk sales for her line of jewellery;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in the House extend their best wishes to Cindy Patriquin, owner and operator of Adventure Art, and to Virginia Herron who took on a challenge and continues to show her gifted talents.

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. 4243

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

Whereas Lillian Critten Williams of Pictou will be celebrating her 107th birthday on June 16th; and

Whereas this mother of eight was the first woman councillor in the Town of Mulgrave where she served for 15 years, including time as deputy mayor; and

Whereas over the years, this memorable lady has volunteered with her church, the Red Cross, the IODE, seniors and the library, amongst others, and was never timid to stand up for what is right;

[Page 7825]

Therefore be it resolved that this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate this remarkable lady who now lives with her daughter in Pictou and wish Lillian Williams the very best on her 107th birthday and good health for 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 Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4244

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

Whereas the Spring season in the Province of Nova Scotia is well known for the promise of bringing forth new life and new beginnings; and

Whereas on March 15, 2005, the MLA for Eastern Shore, Bill Dooks, recently became a first-time grandfather with the arrival of a beautiful 8 lb. 3 oz. baby girl, Madison Michelle Dooks; and

Whereas baby Madison, who is a welcome joy to her parents, Daniel and Erin, is also an overwhelming delight and blessing to her proud grandparents, Bill and Colette Dooks; as well as a pleasure to her aunts Michelle, Melissa and Meghan;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and wish the Dooks family all the best with their new beginning, Madison Michelle.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 7826]

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. 4245

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

Whereas on January 14, 2005, in the City of Sydney, the official opening of the Sydney Ports Access Road took place; and

Whereas this stretch of road connecting Lingan Road, in the community of Whitney Pier, to Highway No. 125, will go a long way in improving traffic flow as well as playing a prominent role in future economic development in the community; and

Whereas Mary Best, a long-time resident of Tupper Street, was the first motorist to exit Lingan Road heading for Highway No. 125;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislative Assembly acknowledge the opening of the Sydney Ports Access Road, which will go a long way in attracting new business and investment to Whitney Pier, helping to restore it to the flourishing community it once was.

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 Preston.

[Page 7827]

RESOLUTION NO. 4246

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

Whereas Roland Marko Simmonds of North Preston recently received his Bachelor of Music Engineering and Production Degree from Berklee College of Music; and

Whereas Marko is the first indigenous Black Nova Scotian to graduate from Berklee College of Music; and

Whereas the Berklee College of Music in Boston is the world's largest independent music college and the premier institution for the study of contemporary music;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Marko Simmonds on his academic success and wish him all the best in his musical career.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4247

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

Whereas the Pictou County Chamber of Commerce and the Pictou Regional Development Commission recently hosted Energy in Transition, a symposium on traditional and new alternative forms of energy; and

Whereas the symposium chairman, Mike Jenkins, said, there is no more appropriate an area to host the event than Pictou County because of our historical position as an industrial leader; and

[Page 7828]

Whereas the symposium covered discussion on various energy sectors - electricity, oil, natural gas, and wind;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature thank Mr. Jenkins and the chamber, the Pictou Regional Development Commission, along with all the organizers for hosting a forum to discuss what is for Nova Scotia and the world an extremely important issue - the outlook for our energy resources.

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. 4248

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 Eastern Passage Education Centre has a tradition of excellence in cheerleading in the Capital Region; and

Whereas at this year's regional competition, the Eastern Passage Education Centre cheerleading team won first place in the Capital Region; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage cheerleading team was coached by Heather Bain, Christopher Cunningham, Steven Mills and Lisa Hobeck;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Eastern Passage Education Centre cheerleading team on winning the Capital Region Championship, and congratulate and recognize the support of parents and coaches Heather Bain, Christopher Cunningham, Steven Mills and Lisa Hobeck.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7829]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4249

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

Whereas Dr. Jim Gunn, teacher, administrator and current superintendent of Annapolis Valley Regional School Board has dedicated 36 years of his professional life to the education of Nova Scotia students, will retire on July 31st of this year; and

Whereas Dr. Gunn accepted the challenges of amalgamation in 1996 and attracted excellent people to his team, created the best climate for establishing strong relationships, and provided leadership that introduced initiatives that set high standards for the amalgamated process; and

Whereas the commitment Dr. Gunn has made to ensuring generations of students have received the best possible education experience, has been an inspiration to students and staff of the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and has consistently led by example and truly been an asset to his community;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contribution Dr. Gunn has made to the Annapolis Valley Regional School Board and wish him health and happiness in retirement.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 7830]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 4250

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

Whereas 15 members have been named to the Nova Scotia Men's Softball Team, getting ready for the 2005 Canada Summer Games in Regina; and

Whereas Donnelly Archibald of Aspen, Guysborough County, and Cory Avery from Larrys River, Guysborough County, will join 13 other team members in an attempt to bring home a gold medal for Nova Scotia when the games begin on August 6th in Regina; and

Whereas the 15 players and three-person coaching staff will comprise 18 of Nova Scotia's 449 members who will be volunteering or participating in this year's games;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Donnelly and Cory for their selection, and wish them every success when they take to the ball diamond in Regina in August.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4251

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:

[Page 7831]

Whereas Ashley Diane Parsons of Glace Bay graduated from Cape Breton University with both a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Technology degree; and

Whereas she was awarded the Canadian Society for Chemistry Medal for a student demonstrating excellence in chemistry; and

Whereas Ms. Parsons will be attending Dalhousie University next term;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House extend congratulations to Ashley Parsons for her success, and wish her all the best in her 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 Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4252

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 developing public speaking skills at a young age is so important to creating self-confidence and a positive self-image; and

Whereas the Hill "N" Dale 4-H Club of Lunenburg County creates opportunities for its members to present speeches and demonstrations; and

Whereas the 4-H Cloverbuds and the 4-H Junior members participated in public speaking events;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Hill "N" Dale 4-H Club of Lunenburg County for their leadership, and the following 4-H members who took the challenge: 4-H Cloverbuds, Luke Smith, Shamus Sutherland, Jessica Lohnes, Emma

[Page 7832]

Sutherland, Abby Cook and Jerelyn Nowe; the junior members, Lucas Wile, Aaron Myra, Ashley Myra, Mehgan Brodman, Leah Cook, Jennifer Collicutt, and Conrad Getson.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4253

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

Whereas good infrastructure is vital to the well-being of communities throughout rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Burke's Lane and Kennedy Lane in Little Lorraine, Cape Breton, are gravel roadways that require considerable annual maintenance; and

Whereas paving these two lanes would save the Department of Transportation and Public Works much-needed tax dollars;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works examine the possibility of paving Burke's Lane and Kennedy Lane for the benefit of all stakeholders.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4254

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

[Page 7833]

Whereas National VON Week runs from May 16 to May 22, with the theme, Strong roots for a healthy tomorrow; and

Whereas VON is a not-for-profit, national health organization and registered charity offering a wide range of community health care solutions that meet the needs of Canadians; and

Whereas this organization is dedicated to being a leader in the delivery of innovative, comprehensive health and social services, and to influencing the development of health and social policy in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the many contributions of more than 20,000 staff and volunteers across Canada who play a key role in helping Canadians remain independent in their communities and living in their own homes.

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. 4255

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

Whereas on Sunday, April 3, 2005, the National Boxing Championships were held in Prince George, British Columbia; and

Whereas after years of hard work, dedication and unfaltering commitment, 15-year-old Sydney Mines resident Michael Gerrow captured the Canadian Welterweight Gold title; and

Whereas Michael is a member of the Tommy Gordon Boxing Club in Florence;

[Page 7834]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending congratulations to Michael Gerrow for his outstanding achievement and recognize the dedication and commitment of the volunteer leaders and coaches.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 4256

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

Whereas new stress testing equipment was purchased with a $25,000 donation from Weymouth North native Richard Gaudet in memory of his wife, Ruth; and

Whereas the stress machine, which is a treadmill hooked up to a computer with cardio monitors, helps determine how much activity a recovering heart attack patient can do without endangering their health; and

Whereas because of his generosity the Digby General Hospital will have a cardiologist there every month which means a lot less travelling and less stress for cardiac patients;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Richard Gaudet for his thoughtfulness and generosity towards this community and wish him every success and happiness in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7835]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4257

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

Whereas John Allan Cameron was born into a musical family in Glencoe Station, Inverness County, and for over 30 years has travelled throughout the world playing Celtic music when Celtic wasn't cool; and

Whereas John Allan is often referred to as the Godfather of Celtic Music; and

Whereas his many musical and personal friends are holding concerts for John Allan in Halifax and Sydney this month and Mabou in June featuring an incredible lineup of East Coast talent;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in thanking everyone involved in these concerts and extend best wishes to John Allan Cameron, his wife, Angela, and his family.

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 7836]

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4258

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

Whereas concerned Cape Bretoners have raised their concerns about strip mining on several occasions; and

Whereas these concerns are rightfully shared by many residents of Victoria-The Lakes; and

Whereas the Minister of Natural Resources assured me that consultation with residents will take place before any strip mining begins in this area of the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House encourage the government to contact and meet with the concerned residents and address their concerns regarding strip mining in their area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: There has been request for waiver.

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 4259

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

Whereas in 1805 Thomas Cotton Hallamore settled with his family in New Cornwall, Lunenburg County, which he named after his home of Cornwall, England; and

Whereas this year, 2005, marks the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the New Cornwall community; and

[Page 7837]

Whereas Bonnie Surrette and Madeline Oxner, Thomas Hallamore's cousins, are organizing a Hallamore reunion as part of the activities to celebrate the 200th Anniversary of the founding of New Cornwall, Lunenburg County;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate New Cornwall, Lunenburg County, on its 200th Anniversary and wish Bonnie Surrette and Madeline Oxner a very happy reunion with their Hallamore relatives.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 4260

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

Whereas the Masonic Order in Sydney has been well served by Sydney Lodge #84 for the past 100 years; and

Whereas Sydney Lodge #84 will be celebrating its achievements in masonry at a gala dinner in Sydney on June 18, 2005; and

Whereas Sydney Lodge #84 has a distinguished record of service in Cape Breton that its lodge brothers, past and present, can be proud of;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Sydney Lodge #84 and its lodge members past and present on their outstanding achievements for the past 100 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 7838]

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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 4261

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

Whereas today is McHappy Day, an annual fundraiser by McDonald's Restaurants to aid children's charities; and

Whereas since 1977 the organization has held this special one-day event and raised more than $20 million for children's charities across Canada; and

Whereas after today's event and donations through the various efforts of the organizations, by a staff of more than 1,375 McDonald's Restaurants across the country, that total will rise significantly;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House congratulate the efforts today by McDonald's Restaurants to support over 200 charities and some 184,000 children who will benefit from this special tradition.

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 7839]

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 4262

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

Whereas Ms. Wendie-Lee Poitras is a native of Halifax and a sixth generation Canadian who grew up in Uniacke Square and was the first person in her family to earn a university degree; and

Whereas Ms. Poitras is a Grade 3 teacher at Joseph Howe School whose students learn that everyone has a history of which to be proud and also that everyone should respect and honour all the cultures and heritages which have contributed to today's Nova Scotia; and

Whereas her fellow staff members at Joseph Howe School have recently recognized Ms. Poitras' dedication and accomplishments and have declared they are proud to have her as a colleague;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature thank Wendie-Lee Poitras for her commitment to her community and her dedication to her 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 4263

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

Whereas the Community Pharmacy on the Prospect Road in Hatchet Lake has been in business for many years both at its present location and previously in Prospect Bay; and

[Page 7840]

Whereas Susan Rushton has been employed as a pharmacist at the Community Pharmacy since her graduation from Dalhousie School of Pharmacy in 1980; and

Whereas Susan and her husband Eric, daughter Sarah, son Mark and family dog Dawson are long-time residents of Hatchet Lake;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Susan Rushton on her 25 years with the Community Pharmacy and wish her all the best for the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:38 p.m. and end at 4:08 p.m.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - PERSONAL USE ALLOWANCE:

INCREASE - DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. I'd like to table a letter written to the Premier by Jo Brennan, the chairman of the Coalition of Resident Councils. Ms. Brennan wrote her letter in response to the $10 a month increase in personal use allowance for residents of nursing home care who are grandparented into the old fee structure for long-term care. As Ms. Brennan points out, this increase is too little, too late. I want to ask the Premier, why did you fail to live up to your eleventh hour election promise to seniors and offer a meaningful increase in personal use allowance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, yes, I do remember the letter. It was in my mail file as well as the honourable member's. We did make a commitment, I personally made a commitment that the government would increase the personal allowance in long-term care

[Page 7841]

facilities and we have done that. In addition we have provided an option to go to the new plan which is $200 a month as well. In addition to that, we have provided increased flexibility within the original system. In addition, we have allowed purchases against that allowance that were previously not available to the residents.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, let's not forget these seniors are staying on the old system because this government extracted every penny they had to pay for their health care costs in these nursing homes to begin with. As Ms. Brennnan says, a reasonable increase would have been an act of good faith - a small price to pay for the unfair way these seniors were treated. So my question again to the Premier is, why, when his government was putting together this budget, didn't he take the opportunity to live up to his promise to nursing home residents?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if memory serves me correctly, I believe the amount suggested in that letter, unless I have my correspondence mixed, was an increase of $50.

Mr. Speaker, when you sit on this side of the floor and you have a lot of demands and you're committed to a balanced budget, sometimes you don't have the resources to do as much as you would like underneath specific issues, but I made a commitment, and that commitment was kept, and the government, if we can continue to grow revenues and if we can continue to survive, we'll continue to look at that issue.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may have forgotten his promise to residents, but Jo Brennan and other seniors, they haven't forgotten; $115 a month will still be insufficient to pay for phone calls, hair cuts, transportation and personal needs. So my final question to the Premier is, when will you listen to people like Jo Brennan and other nursing home residents and offer a reasonable increase in personal-use allowances for this group of seniors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is aware that a commitment has been made. The government has addressed the commitment, obviously not to the satisfaction of everyone. The government is aware of the issue and as funds become available over the years ahead, we will address all of those issues, as far as revenues allow us.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

HEALTH: PHARMACARE PREM./GIS - PAYMENT DETAILS

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, earlier this month I sent a newsletter to my constituents. Contained in this newsletter was some information on the Seniors' Pharmacare Program, which specifically outlined that any senior receiving the GIS did not have to pay a premium. Ten people - and this number is growing, in my riding - discovered that they were paying a premium when they didn't have to. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why

[Page 7842]

are some seniors who are receiving the guaranteed income supplement, paying a Pharmacare premium?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a question which I would be very happy to look into if he provides me the details.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, thank you. This issue prompted me to investigate for my constituents the concerns a little further. I contacted the Seniors' Pharmacare Program office and obtained three forms, which I'll table here today that are sent to seniors prior to their 65th birthday, and nowhere on any of these forms does it state that if you're receiving the GIS, you do not have to pay a premium. So my question is, why do we make it so hard for low-income seniors to take advantage of not having to pay the $390 premium?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we certainly want to make things as easy as we can for seniors and I would be quite happy to look at the forms to see if they need revision.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that. I have no doubt that there are countless more seniors who have been needlessly paying a Pharmacare premium because they haven't been given the proper information. This practice is costing those who can least afford it, hundreds of dollars and it is simply not fair. So my question to the minister is, are you prepared to retroactively reimburse all low-income seniors who have been paying a premium as a result of the lack of information on application forms?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I have already indicated that I would be quite happy to examine the forms and to ensure that we are making things as easy as we can for seniors. It's very important that the seniors of this province, all of them, be able to take full advantage of the most comprehensive Pharmacare Program that exists anywhere in the region.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - ZONOLITE: WARNINGS - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid) Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. During the energy crisis in the 1970s and the early 1980s, financial incentives were offered to homeowners by the federal government to better insulate their homes. One of these insulations touted by the federal government was Zonolite. Today we know that some Zonolite was produced using vermiculite contaminated with asbestos, a known carcinogen.

The federal government has so far refused to take any action on the issue, and in looking at the provincial Web site, I was unable to find any information about this topic. So my question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, what steps

[Page 7843]

are being taken by the province to warn residents of this potential danger that may be lurking in Nova Scotia's attics?

[2:45 p.m.]

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The member was correct, he would find no information on the Access Nova Scotia Web site, primarily because that is the responsibility of Industry Canada. It is their responsibility to regulate the sale of products and services in Canada, and that's why the Nova Scotia Government does not participate in that action.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question, now, is for the Minister of Community Services. Since the department's business plan states that most public housing is 30 years old or older, I would think that it's safe to say that Zonolite may well have been used in the construction of many of these units that the province owns, and is posing a threat to the current residents. So my question to the Minister of Community Services is, what steps have been undertaken to audit public housing for the use of Zonolite, and what plans have been laid out to protect these current residents?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question. I was not aware of this substance, but I will check with my staff. There is an annual audit taken of all the public housing units, and I will get the honourable member an answer.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I thank the Minister of Community Services. So I'll again return to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. With the dangerous void in the federal policy on this issue, it's up to the province to protect Nova Scotians. Homeowners like Mike Hiltz and his neighbours in Chester know they have Zonolite in their attics, and they want answers. My question to the minister is, when will this government institute a program to aid Nova Scotia homeowners in testing and, if needed, the removal of Zonolite from their homes?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I would say to the member opposite, the federal government has left many voids, including in national defence. It's not this province's responsibility to set up its own army and its own navy. It is a responsibility of Industry Canada. It is their jurisdiction and they have to deal with it. I would agree with the member opposite that they need to do something about it.

[Page 7844]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Citadel.

GAMING - GREAT CDN. GAMING CORP./

GAMING CORP.: TALKS - DETAILS

MR. DANIEL GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, yesterday we learned that Great Canadian Gaming Corporation was prepared to spend millions of dollars for the Halifax and Sydney casinos. Yesterday the Premier said outside the House that negotiations between the Gaming Corporation and Great Canadian Gaming had not yet begun; however, the company has had talks with the Gaming Corporation. My question for the Premier is, when did talks begin between the Gaming Corporation and representatives of the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, and what was the substance of those discussions?

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

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite correct. Great Canadian did announce that they were purchasing the assets of the casinos in both Halifax and Sydney. When they started talking was perhaps a month, some months ago. No doubt Great Canadian have been doing some due diligence and looking at the facilities. How long that's been, I don't know. In the last few months, the Gaming Corporation and Great Canadian have had preliminary talks, but I would remind everybody the sale and the agreement was not between the Gaming Corporation and Great Canadian, it was between two corporations. So how long they were talking, I just simply can't speak for them.

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, that brings me to the second question, which relates to exactly the point that the minister was just raising, and that is that there is an operating agreement which is the subject of discussions between the Gaming Corporation and Great Canadian Gaming Corporation. In late January of this year, the government passed on its option to purchase the casinos. My second question for the Premier is, is he prepared to confirm or deny that in fact the Gaming Corporation talked to Great Canadian Gaming Corporation around three months ago and did in fact negotiate an operating agreement with that company?

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

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Gaming Corporation, as I indicated, has been talking with Great Canadian over the last number of months. They've been talking about a whole variety of things. What the Gaming Corporation wanted everybody in this province to know, and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation, is what we were doing and how we were moving on our gaming strategy so they would be completely aware. We are excited about the fact that we have a new company there that has the spirit of co-operation and will want to work in consultation. So we see that as very positive for the future.

[Page 7845]

MR. GRAHAM: Mr. Speaker, I will take my cue from the minister's comments about a spirit of co-operation. My final supplementary is a rather straightforward one. Is the Premier or the minister willing to table before this House all correspondence, internal and external, regarding talks between his Gaming Corporation and the Great Canadian Gaming Corporation?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will stress again for the honourable member, this sale is between two corporations, not between the province and the Gaming Corporation. It's two corporate entities that have entered into this agreement. I haven't any correspondence from them. They are a separate company and they are able to do those things. So the request that the honourable member has, he will have to ask those corporations.

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

FIN.: GAS REGULATION - INTRODUCE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is through you to the Premier. Your government has refused to listen to the requests of retail gasoline dealers across the province to regulate gas prices and to save their livelihoods. There are nearly 50 retail gasoline dealers in the gallery today who have come here to make their voices heard. They have decided to bring their concerns directly to this House since your government has ignored their pleas for so long. Twenty-eight stations have closed down in the past few months and up to 100 more could be closed by the end of this year without a system of price regulation being established. So my question for the Premier is, why does your government continue to ignore the will of the people and of independent retailers to bring in gas regulation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government and this member are very aware that the providing of service in rural Nova Scotia is becoming increasingly problematic. It was with that in mind that one year ago this government tabled in this House the gasoline pricing protection Act, a piece of legislation that would give the government the legislated authority to deal with these issues. That piece of legislation is stuck in the House. If the Opposition Parties are prepared to move it along, the government is prepared to allow that to happen.

MR. DEXTER: Well, if the Premier is prepared to accept the substance of our bill in their's, then we are prepared to move it forward, Mr. Speaker. The reality is the government's stubborn refusal to work in good faith with other members of this Legislature to deal with the problem is having tragic consequences for independent retailers across the province. While this government sits around and points fingers, retailers are going out of business and consumers are losing out in the process. My question for the Premier is, why are they forcing rural retailers out of business through their failure to act?

[Page 7846]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to my first answer. The member opposite suggested that 28 stations went out of business in the last 12 months and I have no doubt that that is true, I know where some of those stations are. There has been a bill before the House for one year that will allow these issues to be addressed. If the Opposition Parties are serious about having this issue addressed, they will allow the government's bill to move through the House.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, you know all too well that the government refuses to actually call that bill. The Premier, I believe owes retailers and consumers an explanation for his government's refusal to act. There are many retailers in the gallery today and, at a minimum, he owes them a meeting to discuss this issue face to face. So my question for the Premier is, will he personally meet with these retailers after Question Period today, yes or no?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Leader of the Official Opposition suggested it is the government that has stalled the bill. The resolution on May 19, 2004, is, it was moved by Mr. MacDonald that Bill No. 79 be stood.

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

HEALTH - HOME CARE WORKERS: CONDITION - IMPROVE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health.

Some very dedicated home care workers are here in the gallery today to bring awareness to the public of the poor working conditions that they face each and every day. These are front-line health care professionals who must work over 12 hours a day just to bank seven hours of pay. Sometimes the pay is less, depending on travel time. If an appointment is cancelled, the agency and the worker don't get paid.

So my question for the Minister of Health is, through you, Mr. Speaker, why hasn't his department done more to improve the working conditions in the home care sector?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we continuously try to improve working conditions wherever we can and I can tell you one of the major initiatives that we have going is the consultation with Nova Scotians, working conditions, and ensuring that people are able to stay in their homes longer is one of the major objectives of that consultation.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, workers are on call every day. They never know when they're going to get a day off. They're frequently called in for overtime and unscheduled hours because of problems with injuries and sick time among staff. Most of these workers are women. Home care is a career area where Community Services push many female single parents on income assistance, yet they face continued poverty due to the working conditions.

[Page 7847]

So my question for the Minister of Health is, through you, Mr. Speaker, how can he offer quality home care to Nova Scotians when workers can't afford to stay in the profession?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. As I indicated previously, we're always trying to strive to improve conditions. Our objective is to keep people in their homes longer and in order to do that we need to have an effective workforce that can care for people when they're in their homes and that is the objective that we want to work toward.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, home care workers should not have to live with split shifts, long hours, and no pay for travel time as a condition of employment. This government's failure to address skyrocketing insurance rates and the rise in fuel costs also take money out of the worker's pocket. So my final question to the Minister of Health is, when is his department going to create stable, predictable hours and pay models for home care workers in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the very nature of the work that is done is one that's very difficult to predict and very difficult to predict the demand and when services are going to be required. Nevertheless, the need for us to work toward improved conditions for those who provide the service, as well as those who are receiving the service, is a primary objective and we'll continue to work toward that end.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - CAP. DIST.:

ANAESTHESIOLOGIST - DEPARTURE CONFIRM

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, yesterday it was revealed that the Capital Health District was losing one of this country's top cardiac anaesthesiologists. The minister indicated to the media, "Capital Health have indicated to us that they have no specific knowledge of anyone that is leaving." Well, Mr. Minister, that's not exactly true now, is it?

Mr. Speaker, the health care crisis is in full swing and it won't be resolved until the Minister of Health finally gets a handle on what's going on. My question to the minister is, could the minister please tell the House whether or not he is aware that Capital Health is losing one of its top anaesthesiologists in the country?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when asked the question yesterday, I provided the information I had at that time. I have verbal indications today that an anaesthesiologist has provided verbal indications to Capital Health of his intention to practise elsewhere. Nothing has been in writing, no official notification has been given. There's also no indication that this individual is, in fact, leaving the province.

[Page 7848]

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the sad reality here is that the minister doesn't seem to know what's going on at all. The crisis has a lot to do with money, much more to deal with the absolute lack of planning on the part of this government. What we have are highly skilled specialists who are leaving the system, we have ER closures and we have a human resources crisis now. There are real problems with the system and the minister is just burying his head in the sand and the Premier throws up his hands and says, we have a crisis. My question to the minister is, what specifically is the minister going to do to speed up the recruitment process so that Capital Health District and other regions have the specialists that are required to do the job?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, if it's a resource issue in terms of dollars, I can tell you one thing we're not doing is cutting $140 million out of the Health budget, that's not what we're doing. We have put in place an alternate funding program which most find attractive - it's a program that's particularly attractive to young graduates and allows them to set up practice, that has been found to be effective in terms of recruitment. What the honourable member fails to share with all members of the House and the people of this province is that the shortage of anaesthesiologists is not unique to Nova Scotia, it is a national problem, international in nature. We will be competitive in terms of recruitment within that environment.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, what the minister doesn't need to do is try to hide behind a statement that has never been made, and try to hide behind that supposed statement. What the minister needs to do is start disclosing what's going on in his government. There is a veil of secrecy that is descending on health care in this province, in particular Capital Health and the entire health system. Nova Scotians need full disclosure as to the extent of the health care crisis in this province. We're losing our best now and our brightest and we could lose more and the Minister of Health doesn't even know what's going on. My question to the minister is, will the minister please tell Nova Scotians then, how many anaesthesiologists are leaving the Capital Health District and how many have been recruited since January?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell the honourable member is that we're not running from any statement that we've made. We're not trying to mix up any statements that we've made, we're very clear about what we've meant. We've provided an additional $218 million for health care in this province this year. We will use that money to recruit anaesthesiologists and other health care professionals.

Yesterday we made an announcement with the College of Physicians and Surgeons that's going to give us the potential of attracting another 40 doctors to this province. The potential exists to be able to keep them here, that is performance and that is where this government is going. (Applause)

[Page 7849]

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

HEALTH - INVOLUNTARY SEPARATION FORM:

WORDING - CHANGE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have a question that has to do with respect for our seniors and it's for the Minister of Health. In 2002 I asked the minister of the day about the involuntary separation form that couples must sign if one of them is entering a nursing home. The form is designed to notify the federal government that the couple is living in separate residences which impacts on their pension and other benefit amounts. Nova Scotia has chosen to word these forms in a way that is so disturbing to seniors, many of them who have been married for decades. My question to the current Minister of Health is, it has been nearly three years since we raised this issue, why hasn't the department changed the wording?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, all of the encounters we have with our clients and candidates for seniors' homes we attempt to be as open and forthcoming as we can be with all of them so that they fully understand the circumstances in which they are involved. With the cost of care initiative, we are carrying out a very careful analysis of the implementation of that program, and all facets of it will be examined, including the reference made by the honourable member.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, with all respect to the minister, I don't believe he understands the issue, it has to do with involuntary separation. We checked with the federal government and they actually don't care what the wording is, they just want to have it noted that the couple is living apart. The key issue in Nova Scotia is the phrase, "we wish to change our marital status". This notion of changing marital status is what bothers many seniors, it does not have to be worded that way. The option was presented to the Minister of Health three years ago. I ask the minister, because members of your own caucus have written this government about the issue, why has it gone unaddressed?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's a very good question. It sounds to me like I need to find a lawyer who can give me the appropriate advice that will allow the change to occur.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I tabled in this House on a previous occasion the wording that Saskatchewan has chosen ". . . my spouse and I live in separate dwellings for reasons beyond our control, however, our marital status has not changed." A very, very simple change. I want to ask the minister, why won't he adopt this language, which is far less upsetting for seniors, for couples who are already going through the stress of a nursing home admission?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I hope I have the legal advice I require to make the necessary changes.

[Page 7850]

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

HEALTH PROM. - COMMUN. GRPS.:

LIABILITY INS. PROBLEM - ACTION

MR. GORDON GOSSE: My question is to the Minister of Health Promotion. The activity community coordinator on Cape Breton, Brianne Lynch, has written to members of every Party in this House because she is concerned about liability insurance. I would like to table a letter that says she's concerned because Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board, like other boards in this province, now requires community groups to have liability insurance before they use the school. The high cost of liability insurance is preventing groups from getting active. My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health Promotion is, what have you been doing to deal with the liability insurance problems community groups face across this province?

HON . RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my colleague is working on that particular file so I will refer the question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would think that the honourable member would be aware that we have put in place a committee that is investigating liability insurance for those organizations and individuals who provide volunteer services.

MR. GOSSE: That has been quite a while, Mr. Speaker, and still no kids in the gym. Cape Breton's activity community coordinator says her school board's liability insurance requirement is preventing individuals and groups from participating in recreation and physical activities. The same can be said for some of the other boards across the province. Liability insurance has been a problem for a long time, yet this government takes a back seat and allows insurance companies to investigate themselves. My question to the Minister of Health Promotion is, in the interests of public health, when are you going to start pushing your government and take control of this issue?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as my colleague said, the committee is doing the work that needs to be done. Indeed, there are many opportunities that we are providing through Health Promotion and through Education on this very issue. There is no government in recent years that has taken such initiatives as we have through Active Kids, Healthy Kids, through initiatives in after school programs, through our schools, and we will continue our work with respect to that.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, it is just taking a little too long. Nova Scotians have the worst health rates in this country. One of the best things we can do to improve our health and lower present and future health care costs in the Province of Nova Scotia is to get more active. My question for the Minister of Health Promotion is, how much longer do you plan to allow insurance companies to stand in the way of public health?

[Page 7851]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that we are very aware of the problem faced by volunteer organizations, by schools and individuals, and that we are taking steps to alleviate that problem. I would expect that very shortly we will have a program in place.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - EMERG. RM. CLOSURES:

ACCEPTABILITY - EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Earlier today we revealed information showing that emergency rooms across this province have been closed a total of 13,449 hours. The fact that emergency rooms throughout this province have been closed for a total of 560.4 days, or over a year and a half in the last five years, is unbelievable. To that total, you can add another 33 hours, because New Waterford Consolidated Hospital announced just today three more days of closures. My question to the Minister of Health is, how is this acceptable?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the implication of the honourable member is that we consider it to be acceptable, which is not the case. We understand that what we need to do is attract the required professionals to be able to ensure that our operating rooms are operating at top efficiency. That is what we are committed to doing. Now the issue, of course, relates to resources, and it's human resources that we're talking about.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, the minister stated yesterday that the Clinician Assessment for Practice Program, or CAPP as it's known, is going to solve the problem of a lack of doctors in rural Nova Scotia. That program requires family physicians to mentor internationally-trained family doctors, and in addition to heavy caseloads, manning the ER with reduced human resources, and in addition to that comes responsibility. So while I have no doubt that many physicians will rise to the challenge, the fact remains those doctors are still under a great deal of strain. My question to the minister is, can the minister guarantee that these communities, from Springhill to New Waterford, from Shelburne to the Strait area, will have access, those communities chronically impacted by ER closures, and will benefit from the CAPP?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when you're bringing into the system people with the potential to be able to provide medical services, the fact that 20 per cent of someone's time is being taken to act as a mentor is not a deterrent to that individual, because they recognize by investing that time, they're going to free up individuals who can provide practice to their communities. That is an investment, and I have every confidence that that will be how

[Page 7852]

it will be viewed by potential mentors across this province. I can certainly assure all honourable members that every area of this province will have an opportunity to take advantage of the CAPP. I didn't, at any time, ever suggest that it would be the solution, but it is a very significant assist.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a fairly tall order, I know, because you're looking at over a year and a half, over 13,400 hours that people in this province have gone without access to an emergency room. I want to know how will the minister ensure, then, that those communities that are facing chronic ER closures will have first crack at the physicians who are coming in under such a program?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member that there has been a very carefully drafted list of locations throughout the province where shortages exist. That information is being made available through the district health authorities. The candidates who are coming forward for CAPP will have an opportunity to interact with the district health authorities. The district health authorities know where their shortages are. This is a real opportunity for those district health authorities to be able to address their shortages for medical personnel in the long term, one of the most significant steps forward we've made in the recruitment issue in this province for quite some time. The College of Physicians and Surgeons deserves full credit, along with Doctors Nova Scotia for the implementation of this very worthwhile program.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

INS. - CAP: MINOR INJURIES - DEFINE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister responsible for the Insurance Act. Insurance companies across the province are using the Conservative-Liberal insurance cap to strong-arm clients into unfair settlements. I want to table a form letter sent to victims of car accidents from Aviva Insurance. This letter is clearly intended to pressure victims into accepting a minor injury settlement. The victim, from whom we received this particular letter, suffered a broken wrist, a broken sternum, a rib fracture, and a partially collapsed lung. My first question for the minister is, does the minister consider a broken wrist, a broken sternum, a rib fracture, and a partially collapsed lung to be a minor injury?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable member that I didn't graduate from medical school.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the condition of the minister's voice has led him to give uncharacteristically brief answers.

[Page 7853]

Here is what Aviva Insurance wants from all victims that they claim have suffered a minor injury. They want a medical examination by a doctor of Aviva's choosing, family doctor records for the last five years, complete clinical notes of all specialists, a complete copy of the individual's employment file, the last five years of tax returns, names and addresses of family members, friends and co-workers, and a complete MSI printout for the last five years. When will the minister admit that insurance companies are laughing all the way to the bank at the expense of injured Nova Scotians?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if my voice permitted me to shout, I would love to answer that question, but I'm going to offer the question to my colleague, the Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member, as he's well aware, it has been common practice in the settlement of insurance claims in this province for many years, before the recent legislation, for insurance companies to request information because they are being asked to compensate the person injured, based on the nature, extent of those injuries and the source of those injuries. How can they do that without proper medical information being provided to them so they can assess the claim and pay the claim according to law?

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that minister practised insurance law, I practised insurance law, the Leader of the Opposition practised insurance law and we all know that this is new and has come in only since that government instituted this cap. This cap, the Conservative-Liberal cap is being used to bully, intimidate and pressure the victims of car accidents in this province. Newfoundland and Labrador has looked at the problem and they have rejected, outright, the idea of a cap because they say it's not fair, it's not reasonable, it's not right. So my final question to the minister is, when will this government take the side of injured Nova Scotians and cut the cap?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I hate to keep reminding the honourable member but we have, in Nova Scotia, the lowest auto insurance rates in Canada, and that came about because of the plan which we put in place in the year 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - FISHERMEN'S MEM. HOSP.:

NURSE SHORTAGE - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. While many communities throughout this province experience ER closures as a result of a lack of physicians, Fishermen's Memorial Hospital in Lunenburg rather stands out because it's a lack of nurses that was the reason for the closure at the ER at Fishermen's Memorial on April 16th, 17th and 18th of this year. Now for many in the community, that

[Page 7854]

caused a great deal of concern and for this government I imagine it was quite the wake-up call. So my question to the minister is, was this specific incident of not having enough nurses at Fishermen's Memorial just an isolated incident or will it happen again?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I consider myself to have been blessed with a few talents, but foreseeing the future is not one of them.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, your Premier doesn't have that talent either, but he all of a sudden declared a crisis in health care the other day. We were alarmed when we heard that a lack of nurses forced the closure of the ER at Fishermen's Memorial and while we know that a lack of nurses is a problem there, we're concerned about whether or not the minister has his finger on the pulse of our facilities in this province and other facilities. So I'll ask the minister to confirm here today that there are sufficient nurses working in our emergency rooms and that a lack of nurses will not become just another reason why ERs are closing in this province?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member, tell the members of the House and the people of this province that when we came to power in 1999, 50 per cent of the nurses who were graduating in this province were leaving the province. Currently 80 per cent of the nurses who graduate from this province are employed in this province and over 90 per cent of them get full-time employment. That's a major step forward and it will assist us in addressing the concerns raised by the honourable member.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, when you have an emergency room in the Strait area closed for the last five months, when you have prolonged closures that go from New Waterford, Springhill, Shelburne, Glace Bay, and you call that a success story, Mr. Minister, you should be ashamed of yourself.

Mr. Minister, in The ChronicleHerald article dated April 15th, it was stated that, "The CEO of the South Shore District Health Authority met with the hospital board and told them that he's considering closing Fishermen's Memorial overnight on a permanent basis." Given that this Legislature is never privy to DHA business plans during the budget process, I will ask the minister, could the minister confirm then whether the emergency room at Fishermen's Memorial will be closing overnight or on a permanent basis?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member likes to create concerns, but I can tell the honourable member and members of the House that that ER will remain open as it is now, that's the intent of this government. The people of this province need to consider the source of the questions, questions coming from a Party whose Leader has said he would strip $140 million from the health care budget of this province, coming from a Party which when in government chased the nurses out of this province, chased the doctors out of this province. That's the source of the questions that are coming from here. We have a plan and we'll implement that plan. (Interruptions)

[Page 7855]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

TPW - TRUCKS: WEIGHT REQUIREMENTS - MEET

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Nova Scotians depend on salt trucks and plows of the department to provide safe transportation throughout our province. It has recently been brought to my attention that trucks purchased by the department for use in plowing and salting are exceeding the recommended front axle weights and that during this past winter many trucks across Nova Scotia had to remove their wings or their plows in order to meet the weights. In fact, in Antigonish and Guysborough Counties, every truck came in overweight and this could be serious for safety in this province.

So my question, Mr. Speaker, to the minister is, how did this happen and how could you buy trucks that don't meet the requirements of the department?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the trucks that we are presently buying do meet the requirements with regard to front axle weights. Trucks that we have - and they are few in number - that do exceed those weights will be modified probably at Millers Lake.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, again to the minister, I understand the department is currently in talks with the manufacturer on this to see if it can be repaired. Perhaps if more discussion had taken place ahead of time, we wouldn't have had this problem. Anyhow, it's certainly going to cost some money to the department to fix up the problem and that money has to come from somewhere. My question to the minister is, what is the estimated cost to fix this problem?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I cannot give the member a dollar and cents figure at this present moment; however, I'll have that forwarded to the member when we have the figure.

MR. PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I understand it's going to be quite costly to modify these vehicles and there's a fair number of them, so I'm told. It's not going to be cheap. As I mentioned, the money has to come from somewhere. It will probably mean some cuts in your department - is it going to be cuts at the staffing level, in the ditching or brush cutting? Road maintenance? Which part of the department's budget is going to be cut to pay for this miscue?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the member is playing Henny Penny again, the sky is not falling, we have sufficient money in the budget to take care of those repairs as well as the essential operations of the department.

[Page 7856]

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

TPW - WHALE COVE RD.: GUARDRAIL - ERECT

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: My question is for the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works. In January 2000, one of Inverness County's finest, John Morris Rankin, lost his life when his vehicle went off a dangerous stretch of the Whale Cove Road and down the steep incline. The residents of the Whale Cove area in Inverness County have been begging and pleading with the Department of Transportation and Public Works for over five years for a guardrail to be erected and have been consistently turned down by the department. My question to the minister is - and in respect for his voice being very bad today, I will accept a simple yes - when will you do the right thing and erect a guardrail on this dangerous stretch of road?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, that's very kind of the honourable member trying to protect me, that's wonderful. I can advise the honourable member there was a lot of erosion taking place on the bank, as the member is probably well aware. Because of that, we are doing a reassessment of that area to see whether or not it would fall in the necessary criteria for the erection of guardrails.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the erosion has taken place simply because Inverness County Council has petitioned the honourable minister's department on at least 14 occasions and has been refused 14 times. The residents have tried, time and time again, to be heard on this serious safety issue. They've written letters, they've had meetings with the regional director of the department and they've requested assistance through you, Mr. Minister and their local MLA, who is a minister of this government. They've been told no consistently. I am wondering, why is the minister refusing the residents of the area to keep them safe?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we consider every person on every organization that appeals to the department for guard railing, we consider that request very seriously. There are Canadian standards and criteria for the erection of guardrails. We observe those criteria in this province and at the last inspection we did of the area, that area did not meet the criteria necessary for the erection of guardrails.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, what I intend to do for the benefit of the House and the honourable minister is to table these pictures of the situation to show the gravity, just how dangerous this area is and how quickly it needs to be taken action. My final question to the minister is, when will you listen to their pleas and do the right thing for the residents of Whale Cove, look at these pictures and decide, yes, you will install a guardrail?

[Page 7857]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's nice to have pictures. The Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage has brought this matter to my attention on many occasions, and he's well aware of what we're doing to try to assist in the matter. As I said, there is currently another assessment being made in view of the further erosion of the cliff in that area.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

COM. SERV. - EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATORS:

WAGES - RAISE

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. The minister signed a bilateral agreement in principle for early learning and child care on Monday. Nova Scotia's version of the deal has a glaring omission. Other provinces committed to significant improvements to the wages paid to early childhood educators who are important building blocks in creating a quality early learning and child care system. I ask the minister, why didn't Nova Scotia specifically commit to raising the wages of early childhood educators?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite's interest in the child care agreement and what we're doing with it. As I've said before in this House, we are working with the sector to try to focus on how we can best invest those dollars. That is clearly something that will be part of the solution, but I want to focus that, number one, we are concerned about family and children, and especially the lowest-income children in this province who might not otherwise have access to adequate early learning and child care. That is our number one priority.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, both national and international research indicates that the higher wages that you pay early childhood educators, the better quality system you have. Almost all of these child care professionals are women, they love their work, but they face difficult working conditions and low wages. In fact, even the executive directors of child care centres in Nova Scotia get the same wages as an orderly at the QE II. Stabilization grants did not bring stability to the sector, and in many cases it did not improve wages or benefits. Many centres gave one-time bonuses instead of increasing hourly rates of pay. So my question to the minister is, why do these professional educators continue to be under-compensated for their work?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the substance of the member's questions, I think this is very constructive. The honourable member will be pleased to know that the other focus that we're putting on these new child care monies, which actually was going ahead regardless of whether we got the additional monies, but that certainly makes it a lot easier for everybody, is to look at an operating grant-type system to supplement the operations of all

[Page 7858]

full-time registered daycare operations in the province. We hope that this will make a significant difference in their ability to compete for early childhood educators and be able to retain them.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, actually, I'm delighted that the minister has raised this issue of operational funding, because other provinces have made a commitment to use the new federal funds to enhance non-profit delivery of child care. Yet, this minister is determined to share federal funding with commercial operations, which increases the risk of large commercial interests taking over our current for-profit operations. So I ask the minister, how does he intend to stabilize non-profit centres while protecting our province from the large, commercial, big-box child care operators?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I bear responsibility for all regulated child care operators in this province, and about half of them are commercial, about half are non-profit. It seems to me that parents are making the choice where they want to send their children. I bear responsibility for assisting all of them, so that they can have access to these resources to help families and children, especially low-income families that need access to regulated early learning and child care.

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

ECON. DEV. - CBRM/GUYS. MUN.:

GARBAGE TRANSPORT. - C.B. & CENT. N.S. RAILWAY

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Several months ago, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality signed a 20-year contract with the Municipality of Guysborough to ship its garbage to the Municipality of Guysborough, some 3,000 tons a year to be transported, and yet the manner of transporting this garbage has yet to be decided. So my question to the minister is, will the Minister of Economic Development commit to communicating with officials of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality on the importance of using the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway to transport that garbage?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member, certainly there has been a great effort and support by this government and other members of the House to see that critical piece of infrastructure, the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway, stay in place. One of the key concerns is finding the volume of traffic to go over that rail, and certainly the opportunity to see that particular waste transported by rail would very much help the business case of the railway, and we will continue those discussions.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Transporting this garbage by rail is far safer, it's certainly environmentally safer than transporting by truck. We all know that the mayor and the regional

[Page 7859]

council have demanded that the province maintain this railroad. It has also been the demand of the MLAs for Cape Breton to keep this railroad operational. So my question to the minister is, would he, as well, impress upon Cape Breton Regional Municipality officials and the local MLAs, the need to use the railroad to transport this garbage?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, I welcome that question because, as you're probably aware, the greatest wear that comes on our highway system in Nova Scotia is primarily by the increased volume of trucking today because of the absence of the rail system. Certainly it would be to the advantage of the Nova Scotia motoring public to have the trucks hauling garbage off the road; but secondly, I would think that it would probably make economic sense as well. There are two routes out of Sydney to Port Hawkesbury and both of them are on highways that although are 100-Series Highways, they are not twinned highways; therefore, I would certainly encourage the Cape Breton Regional Municipality to consider rail.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, presently, I believe the cost of processing garbage in CBRM is less than $100 a ton. Now this contract calls for an $85 a ton tipping fee and approximately $123 a ton for transportation. It's generally acknowledged, as the minister has alluded to, that one mail boxcar of garbage is equivalent to 10, 18-wheeler trucks on the highway. Unless trucking CBRM's garbage on Highway No. 105 is assured, transporting 3,000 tons of garbage on Route 4 in its present state is a recipe for disaster and should not be allowed. So my question to the minister is, will the minister request staff in his department to meet with CBRM officials to assess the impact of their decision to transport garbage to Guysborough?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I have a staff meeting with CBRM on a fairly regular basis on a number of different matters that we're involved with, with regard to transportation needs in Cape Breton, and I'll certainly bring this to the attention of my deputy minister.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - LOBSTER SEASON:

LFA 34 - VIOLENCE PREVENT

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Last year, during the close of the lobster season in LFA 34 in west and southwest Nova Scotia, violence erupted because of illegal fishing. This year's closed season is less than two weeks away, on May 31st. My question is, will the minister tell us what plans the province has in place to ensure this does not happen again during this up-and-coming closed season?

[Page 7860]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, it's great that the member opposite asked this question to let the House know what's been happening over the last few months. Of course my department is now sitting on a task force with the RCMP, with the federal DFO, looking at this issue to ensure that the RCMP and DFO will have their officers here. We will have every bit of our enforcement in place to make sure that the illegal buying of lobsters will not be happening. I think I'm very comfortable that this closed season will not turn out like last season, because of these things being done and being ready as it comes along.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, last year the province seemed to do little to ensure the safety of those fish stocks, and even the safety of the people who were involved. Violence erupted in that area and we don't want to see this happen again. This is being talked about, just as we speak, right now, on the wharves in the local harbours. My question, again to the minister, is, what is your government doing to ensure the illegal buying of any illegally-caught lobster does not infringe on the conservation of this fishery?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as I said in my first response, we are part of the new task force that has been put together, being led by the RCMP, to ensure that violence will not be taking place in that area. I can also tell the member opposite that our staff has been increased in the southwest quadrant to provide inspections to plants in that area, to ensure that the buying of illegal lobsters will not be happening in southwest this season.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, the lobster fishery is one of the most important fisheries for this province. Fishermen are not going to stand by this year and watch illegal sales of lobsters. They need to be guaranteed that this is not going to happen again this year. My question to the minister is, if this government does not give them a guarantee, how will this government deal with the fishermen taking the law into their own hands?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite again for his question. Simply put, we've been working closely with all the people involved in this case to ensure the safety of all Nova Scotians when it comes to the illegal lobster fishery. Just two weeks ago I had the opportunity to have a phone call, of course, with the Minister of Fisheries, Geoff Regan, who assured me at that time that they would be putting all their resources towards this issue. I, of course, wrote a letter to the minister, ensuring that his department is ready for it. I do have assurances from DFO that they will making sure that they will have extra officers in the area, and I will ensure that my people are on the ground to ensure that we have a safe Summer and not have to worry about what we did last year.

[Page 7861]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - AGRIC. CRISIS: ADDRESS - PLANS

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Farms in Nova Scotia want to be able to plan for their future, but at the current time there's no guidance or long-term planning being undertaken by this government with the objective of providing long-term stability for the industry. Many commodities are receiving prices well below their cost of production. The industry has been requesting assistance to put a system in place which will provide a fair share of the retail price of agricultural products back to the farmer. My question for the minister is, where is this government at in its plans to address this current crisis in agriculture?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question, it's another good opportunity to get up and talk about what's been happening. Of course, as we've talked about in this House on a number of occasions, farmers are not getting a fair price for the foods and the things that they grow. We're not seeing that translate into the price that we're seeing in the grocery stores. What we're doing is working with the Grocers Association, working with Atlantic Wholesalers and Sobeys and Co-op and all those other folks to sit down and find out exactly how we can ensure, make sure, that farmers get their fair share.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, well, I know what the minister has found out, that there's absolutely nothing he can do unless he's willing to address the inter-provincial trade agreement. I can shortchange him on that one. My question now is for the Premier, the Premier announced at the Progressive Conservative convention in February 2004 that he was going to put Nova Scotia's agricultural products into our provincial institutions and, to date, this has been nothing but all talk and no action. To this point it seems that the only person who may have benefited from the Premier's comments was the Premier, and Nova Scotia farmers want to know when they will see some benefit from such a policy and gain access to these institutions?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the member opposite and we're talking about Brand Nova Scotia again, we're talking about getting agricultural products into Nova Scotia institutions. Almost all, and I can't say all, I wouldn't admit to that right now, but it's going to happen that all agricultural products and all food products going into our institutions will be from Atlantic Canada.

[Page 7862]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to tell the minister that Brand Nova Scotia, or getting agricultural products into institutions or into stores means absolutely nothing to farmers if they can't get their price, and that's what the minister has to address. In June 2004 an audit of the livestock, poultry and fur facilities took place and many recommendations were made concerning the future of some of the livestock at the Nova Scotia Agricultural College; in particular, the cutting of the pine marten colony and the world-class fox which represent genetically one of the highest-quality breeding colonies in the world, as well as a reduction of the sheep flock which has a very practical application here in Nova Scotia. My question to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries is, why does the minister not see any value in these programs when the industry sees the research as invaluable?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite basically brings into question what's happening at the NSAC. What's happening at the NSAC? There was a study done on how they take care of the animals on that site. There was a question on how many animals were there and the things that they would probably have to do in order to ensure that they are there.

Mr. Speaker, the fox herd, the fox bunch there, is still at the farm of NSAC. There is dialogue happening between the NSAC and the Fox Breeders Association of Nova Scotia to ensure that they will be staying there. Also, the pine martens I think are better served with the Department of Natural Resources at the Shubenacadie Park. So we are addressing those issues.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - LAND REG. SYSTEM:

FEES - DETAILS

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. My question is in regard to the new land registration system. Under this system, whenever land is transferred for value, subdivided or remortgaged, the owner is required to convert the land into the registry. Constituents have been complaining to us that the cost to do this land conversion is approximately $1,000. Can the minister advise who this approximate $1,000 cost is paid to?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it would be to the lawyer who handles the transaction on behalf of the purchaser or seller.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, in many situations this $1,000 is onerous, especially when the owner cannot afford to pay the fee. Does the minister have any program in place that would assist low-income property owners to pay this approximate $1,000 cost?

[Page 7863]

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, purchasers or sellers of homes are aware that it costs money to register a property and to do legal work here in the Province of Nova Scotia. I would say to the member opposite that the experience that we've had with Registry 2000 is that the price charged by most lawyers across this province is significantly less than what the member opposite has said, and that the market actually dictates the amount of money that the purchaser or seller would pay with respect to legal fees to register their property through the Registry 2000 system.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, the cost we're speaking about today is a one-time cost and it's a new cost as a result of this new registry system being in place. I'm asking the minister today if he would agree to consider a way to help low-income Nova Scotians absorb that cost if they happen to be caught in this one-time transfer of property?

MR. BARNET: Well, Mr. Speaker, again it is a market-driven fee that is charged by lawyers based on the amount of work that they do to transfer the property into the system. I will tell the member opposite and all Nova Scotians that there was a fee before we had Registry 2000, there's a fee now that we started Registry 2000 and there will be a fee the next time people register a mortgage as well.

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

TPW - SYDNEY TAR PONDS: CLEANUP - PLANS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. It is 20 years since the Sydney tar ponds were identified as one of Canada's most toxic sites. Now it appears the federal government is opting for further studies meaning further delays. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works has indicated the provincial government is considering proceeding with the cleanup without any further delay, so my question to the minister is, what action is the minister contemplating?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the federal government has decreed that we will have a full panel review of the Sydney tar ponds and the coke oven site cleanup. It has been the opinion of the provincial government from the get-go that a comprehensive review would be the only type of review that would be necessary, the reason being simply it's much shorter and much more focused than the full panel review.

We have gone back to the federal government with several points of interest to us. One is the cost, the other one is the time, et cetera. We expect to get further notification from them as to how we will proceed.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, in Cape Breton there are several abandoned, closed coal mines that would make excellent sites for the deposit of tar pond sludge, if properly encapsulated. This would ensure the cleanup of the tar ponds in a timely manner,

[Page 7864]

protect the environment and create much needed employment. Will the minister consult with the Devco representatives that oversee the coal mines in an effort to consider this option?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, capping the tar pond sludge I guess is one way we could perhaps accomplish the problem we have in Sydney. I will certainly bring that to the attention of the people in Cape Breton who are looking after that project.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, perhaps the minister would be kind enough, once he consults with the Devco officials, to also involve the representatives from the federal government overseeing the Cape Breton Development Corporation. I think it would be good to provide a detailed report so it would eliminate a lot of the polarization that now exists in industrial Cape Breton on the issue of the cleanup of the tar ponds that we all know is certainly there before the public.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to be very clear. We are determined to clean up the tar ponds. We're determined to do it in a fashion that is accommodated within the present environmental rules and we intend to do it as rapidly as possible.

Having said that, I just hope the federal government realizes that perhaps the provincial thoughts on this subject are appropriate.

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

EDUC. - COLE HBR. HS: OVERCROWDING - PLANS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question has to do with safety at Cole Harbour High School in my riding. It has become a concern because the school is so overcrowded and student numbers are on the rise. The school advisory council chairman, Jerry Janes, has written a letter highlighting concerns and I'd like to table that letter. The chief concerns are that the cafeteria is too small, the driveway becomes blocked at the end of the school day so emergency vehicles couldn't get in if they had to, the gym is too small and there's not enough classrooms. My question to the Minister of Education is, do you have any plans to deal with these problems?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the department, too, has received a letter from Mr. Janes and will respond in due course. As the honourable member would know, that school is run by the Halifax Regional School Board, and a number of the concerns articulated are ones that would be addressed and/or passed through from the board to us.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I have a copy of the Halifax Regional School Board's most recent capital construction priority list and, unfortunately, Cole Harbour High School is not on that list. Space is severely limited at the school, and it's only going to get worse. The cafeteria is so small that students are eating their lunch in shifts. Students have to eat in the

[Page 7865]

hallways, in the main foyer, in the office and in the stairwells as I understand it. This kind of congestion is a safety concern, and the students need a new cafeteria. So my question to the minister is, what is it going to take for you to investigate this situation?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member would be aware that in 2000, there was a report done on Cole Harbour High School. At that time, they found they had a structure that was in good shape and should indeed last for another 30 to 40 years. However, as a result of that, the prime recommendation that came out of that report is that the school boundaries be changed so that some of the pupils who currently go to Cole Harbour High School could flow to Auburn Drive High School or to Prince Andrew High School, but no action was taken on that.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, teachers travel from class to class with trolleys to carry their teaching materials, because there are not enough classrooms. The gym isn't regulation size, there's no seating for spectators. This, of course, puts a limit on the sports events. The minister's response has just underlined one of the potential ways to resolve that problem. I want to ask the minister, what action he will now take, understanding the possible solution, in order to ensure that students at Cole Harbour High School have the same advantages that students at other high schools throughout the province have?

MR. MUIR: There are two comments that I would make, Mr. Speaker. First of all, there is a school capital construction report that will be coming into the department. I have not seen that, so whether there would be anything that has been submitted to the Halifax Regional School Board that would remediate that, I don't know. Secondly, if the school board would like us to sit down to try to address that boundary issue with them, we'd be pleased to do so.

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

PSC: HUM. RES. PLAN - COST

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for the Public Service Commission. The province has an aging population, 72 per cent of the Public Service Commission employees are more than 40 years old and many are soon up for retirement. During the estimates, the minister told us that a corporate human resource plan was being developed at a cost of something like $1.2 million. In fact, the commission's budget itself is up a whopping 53 per cent this year. Many new staff are also being added. So my question to the minister is, can the minister confirm that the department is indeed spending $1.2 million on a human resources plan, and let the House know how many employees are being hired to do this?

[Page 7866]

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, yes, it is correct that the budget for the corporate HR plan is $1.2 million. The cost of not doing this would be insurmountable.

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it seems like a very high number, considering that we already know what the problem is. Does the minister think it's reasonable to spend so much rather than putting the tender out for public tender?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, the corporate HR plan is something that this government has made a priority, it's something that if we do not do it will cost the government, again, millions of dollars. We're faced with innumerous, countless employees who are eligible to retire in the next five to 10 years. If we do not have the means to address the situation immediately, we will face a crisis in the HR community.

[4:00 p.m.]

MS. WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, we have another crisis on our hands here obviously. They have finally woken up to that one. Could the minister table in this House, any documents which indicate why the decision was made to implement a human resource strategy in-house, instead of putting the contract out to public tender and getting the best possible price?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the honourable member for the question because it gives me the opportunity to stress how important and how good our staff are and the Public Service Commission, the quality employees that we have to implement such a corporate HR report and this is why we chose to do it in-house. We have the qualifications to do it here. Why go to an outside agency to do something when we can do in-house?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

TPW - NORTHWEST ARM/OAKLAND RD.:

TRANSPORT. RTE. - PROTECT

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I would like to address my first question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. My constituents, for more than 130 years, have been crossing the Northwest Arm to a public wharf at Oakland Road. They used ferries, rowboats and other small craft as a cheap, simple and quick way to get to town, in a way that today we would call a healthy lifestyle. Now, however, without any permission, neighbours have begun dumping many tons of fill into the water to extend their property and are blocking the wharf. Yet the provincial government is taking no action. It's like standing by watching while someone builds their house in the middle of Highway No. 101. My

[Page 7867]

question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, will you take the necessary action to protect this important and irreplaceable transportation resource?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think it's a very sensible question, but I don't think that falls under my jurisdiction. However, I'll be pleased to look into it and see if it does fall under my mandate and if so I'll be very pleased to progress it.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, actually, I'm not at all surprised that you don't know whether it falls under your jurisdiction because there are so many jurisdictions involved at this point. This is the problem. It's why my next question is, in fact, addressed to the Premier. There are other parts of the Nova Scotia coast which are also lined with so-called pre-Confederation water lots. There are advertisements showing some of them for sale and one actually describes a part of that subdivideable property as being simply, land currently under water. Today, when I opened the paper, I found news of the development plan for the Dartmouth Shipyards, with eight hectares of pre-Confederation water lots to be filled in to create more land. It's also happening at Ketch Harbour, Herring Cove, Sambro, and all down the South Shore. There are at least six federal and provincial departments, not including the Minister of Transportation and Public Works' Department, but at least six, which have responsibilities here, but infilling off the Nova Scotia coast is continuing. No one is taking responsibility. Mr. Premier, will you take responsibility for coordinating the protection of the Nova Scotia coastline?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is a great question, and there are some jurisdictional issues. Perhaps since there is a large legal component, I would refer the question to the Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am very familiar with pre-Confederation water grants. In fact, indeed there is sometimes an issue with respect to post-Confederation ones that were granted, depending on whether it was a federal harbour or a provincial harbour. There are a number of permits required. The primary permit, of course, is if it affects navigation, the Navigable Waters Protection Act, and the Navigable Waters Protection Act is a requirement of the Government of Canada, they have responsibility for shipping and they are required to approve any infilling that's done. These are private property interests, covered by water, and while we have to respect the private property rights of the individual, I can assure the honourable member that there are government agencies that monitor this activity very closely.

MS. RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, the fact of the mater is that I've been trying to get a meeting with the Navigable Waters Protection for sometime now and eventually a meeting that I scheduled was cancelled because they couldn't figure out who was responsible. Even in that department. However, this question is a more simple one, I think. My question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Charlie Darrach's wharf was destroyed by the storm surge at Herring Cove and he and his sons have rebuilt it by hand, but without permission from the

[Page 7868]

Department of Natural Resources and, therefore, he must remove it. My question to the Minister of Natural Resources is, at least is it possible that you will ensure all the other unauthorized infills along the coast are removed as you have jurisdiction to do?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raised this in estimates to me and my department and I answered the member there and I'll answer again that we take the jurisdiction that's under my mandate very seriously. We had an incident, my neighbouring riding in Argyle, that they illegally filled in a piece of property in the harbour way and we asked them to remove it, then we forced them to remove it.

Mr. Speaker, if this person did not do this by the law, we will enforce the law, but if the individual wants to bring the file over to me, I told her that I would definitely look into the three files that she brought to my attention in estimates.

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

HEALTH - NURSING HOME BEDS:

ANNA. VALLEY WEST - NEEDS

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In the budget just passed it was stated that 100 nursing home beds would be established in Cape Breton and 150 for the Halifax region. The minister also stated that Berwick in the Annapolis Valley would receive an additional 30 beds. While these regions need beds, western Nova Scotia needs more than 30. So my question is, why are there more beds being established in other parts of the province than there are in Annapolis Valley West?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I will resist the temptation to talk about what the honourable member did with respect to the budget and answer the question. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, we are involved, as I have indicated in the House on many occasions, on a comprehensive review of the whole issue of continuing care within this province. The beds that were identified in the budget were beds that we say need to begin proceeding now. That is not to say that there isn't need for beds in other parts of the province and the exercise that is currently underway will clearly assist us in determining where those beds are best located and the number that should be had. It will also assist us in determining what our potential is to assist people remaining in their homes longer so that we will require fewer beds, or at least keep the number of beds to a minimum.

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

[Page 7869]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 4077.

Res. No. 4077 - Gov't.(N.S.) - Gas/Home Heating Fuel: Regulation - Legislate - notice given May 16/05 - (Mr. F. Corbett)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, it certainly give me great pleasure to rise in my place today to talk about Resolution No. 4077. This deals with fair pricing of gasoline products and home heating fuels. The reason we thought it so important to bring this forward today is very simple, it is now a year since the government brought in an ill-fated bill that went nowhere.

Now, you know, what was interesting with Bill No. 79, Mr. Speaker, was that the Premier said in his place today that it was stood, basically, on May 18th. Now, what was interesting, though, on May 13th, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations brought in a resolution empowering and enacting the Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing. So one would assume the reason he wanted to bring that forward was he realized that bill was useless. He wanted to get the input of Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other, to find out what we can do to bring pricing controls into place.

So with that in mind, the House accepted it and we enacted a select committee and we toured the province, Mr. Speaker. We toured the province and put forward a Select Committee on Petroleum Product Pricing. In that, we put forward some bold steps, very bold steps. Mr. [Deputy] Speaker, as you know, you're one of the hard-working members of that committee, and we heard from many, many people from across this province. What did they tell us? They wanted regulation. They wanted regulation to let them know what the price is going to be in the morning, and the stability of the market for them to buy in. That was the consumer side, and I'll get back to that in a moment.

On the retail side, what we heard from retailers was simple - if we don't get some sort of protection from the big guys, we're out of business. We're going to tell you the ones that are going to go like dominos are ones in what I will refer to as - not so much rural - kind of remote areas. Remote areas are areas like Canso Town, areas like that where there's a fair amount of open land between, or distance, between one service station to another, or one set of pumps to another.

[Page 7870]

What they have said is becoming absolutely true. We're seeing, almost weekly, closures of these service stations. At some point, I wouldn't doubt today, that the minister will stand up and tell us that Bill No. 79 does this. Mr. Speaker, Bill No. 79 doesn't, I will say this, I'm not going to debate on the floor here today Bill No. 79 because the minister won't bring it forward. They keep forgetting the one piece in this whole puzzle is that they're the government. If it is bringing things forward and allowing people to debate it in certain areas, that's what they should do. It's not uncommon, especially in a minority House, to bring certain changes to the bill. That's all. As I said, I'm not going to literally waste my time today on Bill No. 79. We've put it on the record and we want it there.

You know, we talk about the dangers of what's going on in an unregulated market. Whether it's MacRaes in Baddeck, or the Pettigrews in Amherst or the Cruickshanks in Canning, these are not bustling cities like the HRM here. What's particularly galling, when you look at HRM, which for the major oil companies is a real lucrative share of the pie, almost 90 per cent of those stations are operated by the big companies. That's why one of the bold steps we agreed to and was the only thing that this minister's department reacted to, was divorcement.

I believe every member on that committee realized the bold step in which we were taking. Yet, it was the only reaction, that was the only thing. From then on the silence has been deafening coming out of that minister's office regarding this report. This is a report that consumers said, yes, this is what we want. This is a report that retailers said, yes, this is what we want.

We have seen the government have the compassion and the understanding of Nova Scotians not to get mired down in a philosophical position of, we don't believe in regulation. That's why we're really perplexed on this side of the floor. We're saying, this is what everybody wants. We want pricing regulations. We can work on a model, and we can sit down and debate these things, but we have to do it sooner than later.

I looked in our report from last year and we were talking about pricing. If you wish, I'll table this, but it's from the select committee. It's been tabled already, but it's obviously your prerogative, Mr. Speaker, if you wish. On Page 17 of the report, on May 16th - we will call it a year ago, for the sake of a couple of days - gasoline was selling at retail locations at 96.9 cents per litre: 33.6 cents was the price of crude, 18.6 cents was the refiner's operating margin, 10 cents was federal excise, 15.5 cents was provincial excise tax, and 2.6 cents was HST.

[4:15 p.m.]

The retailer's operating margin, 3.9 cents. These retailers are not rich women and men, it's a back-breaking job, it's a job that to keep those pumps going you have to operate them at least 12 hours a day. Most of them, because of the automotive industry, now have

[Page 7871]

lost their bays, their convenience stores, and that's a whole other pressure being brought on them by the large multinational oil companies.

At some point when they talk to us, we have to listen to them, if for no other reason than when you hear the retailer in Cheticamp telling you they're the only one on that side of Smokey that sells gasoline. So what does that do, besides having the pressure - there's two service stations in Cheticamp - there's a burden here that no one realizes. A few years when the only service station in Pleasant Bay closed, which is up over North Mountain, their fire department has to send people down into Cheticamp to get fuel for that emergency vehicle. These are not the only ones.

But we're not even talking about keeping rural Nova Scotian businesses viable, we're talking about protecting people who live in rural Nova Scotia. What we're asking the Premier and all of his Cabinet and all the backbenchers - I realize, and I'm not going down the road of pointing over there, Mr. Premier, talk to some who were for it, some against it - I'm talking through the Speaker to you, Mr. Premier - these are things that have to be done. One could say it's a way of life being lost. That's experienced in many businesses in this province, and someone could say, well, that's just progress.

When you do not have the ability to have gas, if you live in the Town of Canso, that's a problem. When the margin is not there, you're just not going to be able to sell it, especially now when you see people coming in off the highway in Antigonish, and now you see that Superstore is on the highway there selling it, and so you wonder what's going to happen about them selling it kind of as a loss leader, if you will. That's a real concern.

The idea around protection of consumers, when we look at regulating pricing, well we studied and we put forward the Quebec model, the P.E.I. model, and the Newfoundland and Labrador model, and these are all very good, workable systems. We weren't even as bold, we didn't think we would be in the minister's face saying choose this one or none. What we did, in my thoughts, was a very reasonable position. Here are three options - a, b and c, if you will - pick one that will best suit the consumers of Nova Scotia.

But instead of hearing that, all we've heard from this minister is no, I have a bill, before Nova Scotia had this information, I put a bill together. This is my bill, either pass it or be quiet. Well, Mr. Speaker, that's not what the retail gas association is telling us. That's not what consumers are telling us. Consumers are asking us to get involved. We need, we want regulation. Retailers need pricing - some sort of regulation when it comes to pricing, because they're being socked. They're being socked by predatory pricing, in some ways, by the big guys.

It's hard to do, Mr. Speaker, we're not asking to save one badly-run business. We're not saying, protect some person because they can't run their business. What we're saying is, allow these businesses to operate, to serve the community. Whether it's in parts of Pictou

[Page 7872]

County or Cape Breton County, in less than a year, three long-serving garages in the Town of New Waterford closed their pumps. In effect, in the Town of New Waterford, there is one full-service service station with pumps, and the next one is about three kilometres down the road. The Town of Louisbourg had three, they have none now. The Town of Dominion had a set of pumps, none now. Who's next? That's what we have to ask.

This is one of the strange things, when the good of the retailer and the consumer are one in the same, that it comes in and allows them to provide a service, and the people who receive that service are happy for it. I told you last week about Mr. Cruikshank's situation in Canning, where, in effect, the people will now have to travel some distance, in a round trip, to get to a service station, about 60 kilometres, that's not right, Mr. Speaker.

The right thing to do is, if this minister is serious about that bill, it needs modification. We are willing to sit down with him and look at Bill No. 79, using the all-Parties select committee report as a template, that's what we're saying. But if the minister is going to get up in his place today and tell everybody here that it's my way or the highway, well, we'll be running on empty, Mr. Speaker. There'll be no service stations left in rural Nova Scotia in a very short time. If it's left up to this government to do Orders in Council, that isn't the way to go, it has to be open, it has to be transparent.

These folks in your gallery today need to know that when they're purchasing oil and getting oil and gas put in the ground at their station that they're not going to be whacked in 48 hours, all that's going to do is cause panic buying. We need regulations that work, we think it was provided for in the select committee, and we urge the minister to work with the other Parties and some of his backbenchers to get it done, and get it done right away. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order. I'll have to ask the members in the gallery to please not signify pleasure or displeasure with anything said in this hall.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have the opportunity to take 15 minutes of the time of the House to speak about this resolution. It gives me an opportunity to take some time to talk about some myths and some facts as it relates to the proposal that we, as government, had put before this House over a year ago.

Before I do that, I want to talk about history. A year ago, on May 19, 2004, in the Chamber just down the hall, the Law Amendments Committee, which consisted of the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, the member for Halifax Clayton Park, the member for Cape Breton Centre, the member for Richmond, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, the member for Halifax Atlantic, and the member for Halifax Chebucto, on a motion moved by the member for Cape Breton

[Page 7873]

Centre, decided to shelve Bill No. 79, that would provide for protection of the interests of Nova Scotians. It would provide protection through service to rural Nova Scotians.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point order. I don't know if it was inadvertent or not, but he said moved by the member for Cape Breton Centre. I did not move that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, you have the floor.

MR. BARNET: The member opposite is correct, it was actually the member for Cape Breton South, and I apologize for inadvertently referring to that member. I will say, though, Mr. Speaker, the Committee on Law Amendments consisted of six members of the Opposition and three members of the government. It was the Opposition members who voted to shelve Bill No. 79. Bill No. 79 is a bill that will provide protection for small business people in the Province of Nova Scotia. It's a bill that will provide protection for the interests of Nova Scotians, it's a bill that will provide protection for rural Nova Scotia business, and that's what the bill is all about.

I want to point to a couple of elements in the bill that have been somewhat maligned. This bill provides for an opportunity to fix wholesale prices, for a minimum and maximum of wholesale prices. It provides for an opportunity to set a maximum retail price. It provides for an opportunity to set a minimum and maximum retail mark-up. That's what Bill No. 79 does and it's a bill that would see the folks in the gallery and Nova Scotians protected by their government. That's what this is all about.

When I became Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations in August 2003, immediately I began getting concerns from independent retailers and from Nova Scotians about the high price of gas and the fact they were being squeezed in their margins by big oil. Immediately I began the process of instructing my staff in developing a process that we, as a Legislature, could look at - a piece of legislation that would protect their interests.

To that extent, our staff developed a bill that I believe is a very good bill. A bill, however, that was badly maligned by big oil. It was badly maligned by big oil with the view that the more negativity they could put at this bill, the sooner it would go away. The interests we were trying to protect was small business, rural operators here in Nova Scotia and the consumers of Nova Scotia. I am so disappointed, and I was so disappointed then that the Opposition Parties bought that hook, line and sinker.

What has happened since then, a year has gone by, one solid year without the protection that Nova Scotians deserve and can afford. One solid year. For the member opposite to say that that government brings bills in and out of the Committee on Law Amendments is completely untrue. The member opposite knows, he's been here longer than

[Page 7874]

I have, that because they have a majority in that committee, all they have to do is ask the chairman of that committee to consider that bill and that bill can be considered.

The member opposite knows as a minister of this government, I don't have the authority to ask for that bill to be considered. It's only members of that committee. For him to mislead this House and mislead Nova Scotians and mislead the people in the audience is both unfair and not true. It's just unfair.

I want to say that I've taken this issue very seriously. People have brought to me a great deal of concern and issues. I've had issues brought to me around fair practices in the gas and oil business. To that extent, myself and my staff travelled to Ottawa to meet with people at Industry Canada. We talked about the concerns here in Nova Scotia. We talked about the threat of dominance in the marketplace, how the big operators are squeezing the little guys. We talked about the concern raised to me from small operators about the use of Canadian Tire money and how that is an incentive to pull away customers, and how the use of points for large retail food stores is an incentive to pull away customers. I told the people in Industry Canada that that is a concern for Nova Scotians. They've agreed that it's a concern for all Canadians.

I talked about issues around collusion, and every time I say that, oddly enough, I get a nasty letter from some oil executive who says you better point out the facts, be careful - a threat of litigation against what you're saying. What I've said in the past is that people have brought these issues to my attention and it's my duty and responsibility to bring it to the attention of the federal government, and I did that. I will continue to do that.

There are other unfair practices going on in this marketplace. That's why we brought forward Bill No. 79. That's why Bill No.79 will protect the interests of small operators in rural Nova Scotia. That's why Bill No. 79 will protect the interests of consumers. I have spent countless hours talking about, meeting with, and discussing this issue with many Nova Scotians. I have received hundreds and thousands of letters and the one thing that people have in common is they want fairness and they want to be treated fair by their oil companies.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I read just recently the annual report of Imperial Oil - 125 Years in Energy Leadership - and I can say to you I don't believe in Nova Scotia we're necessarily getting the kind of leadership and the kind of protection that they need. Bill No. 79 would provide for that, the annual report shows clearly that the one thing that's going up, in addition to gas prices, is shareholder revenues. The one thing we can do in this Legislature is work together to resolve this. The member opposite accuses me of being pigheaded and sticking to the principles.

[Page 7875]

Well, the principles of our bill, Mr. Speaker, protect Nova Scotians. It's all about protecting small operators, rural Nova Scotians, and the consumers. That's what the bill is all about. Ironically enough, the day that I introduced Bill No. 79, I also introduced a resolution that passed by this House unanimously to allow for an all-Party committee to go out to do some work, to consult with people like the people who are in the audience today. They brought back a report to government, government has received that report and we have acted on a number of initiatives. What we haven't been able to act on is the recommendation around regulation and why is that, it's clear and it's simple, because the Opposition Parties sided together to block that piece of legislation from being voted on and even debated here in these Chambers. This is where that bill needs to be debated, right here in this Chamber, so we can then determine the merits of this piece of legislation. We brought that bill forward in good spirit, we believed that it was the right approach, we still believe it's the right approach and we believe that it will protect Nova Scotians' interests.

I want to say that I have taken a great deal of time to think about this and I've read the Opposition members' legislation on this issue. They have many of them, Mr. Speaker. In the past they had legislation that would require full service across the province. I'm not saying it's a good idea or a bad idea, but I can tell you that I've spoken to a number of small retailers who said this would cause them a great deal of anxiety. I've read the legislation they've tabled today and, ironically enough, when you read their newest legislation and Bill No. 79 which we believe is a piece of legislation that will work for Nova Scotia, many of the clauses are exactly the same. In fact, you have to work your way down that bill, almost three-quarters of the way through it, before you find a difference.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think we're philosophically different on this, I think particularly the New Democrats and ourselves agree with most of the concerns that have been raised by retailers and we agree with the solution. I guess the difference that we find is how we implement that solution. I can tell you this government is very interested in moving forward with Bill No. 79 so that we can protect the interests of Nova Scotians. I've put a lot of work into this bill. This side of the House put a lot of work into this bill. We believe it's the right approach and it's the correct approach to protect Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that I know the impact of doing nothing. I know what the impact of doing nothing would be. The impact would mean the loss of jobs in communities that desperately need those jobs. The impact would mean the loss of profit in a business that is marginal at best today. That's why we brought forward Bill No. 79. That's why we believe it's the right approach and that's why I was so disappointed on May 18th, May 19th, when after our bill much maligned and described as something it absolutely is not, found its way to a shelf in the Red Room as a result of the Opposition Parties teaming together, but what disappoints me even more than that is when members of the Opposition, particularly the New Democrats, point to government and say government is in the way, that's not the case.

[Page 7876]

The government has said all along, you bring that bill back into committee, you make sure we can get that bill back into the committee, we could bring it into this House, we can debate the merits of this bill where it needs to be debated, on the floor of this Legislature, Mr. Speaker, and we can resolve the issues that Nova Scotians face.

Mr. Speaker, the members in the gallery opposite, Nova Scotians at home, they don't need petty partisan politics to play a role in this. What they need is a real solution and the real solution exists in Bill No. 79. It's unfair to them, it's unfair to Nova Scotians, and all this will do it create undue anxiety and delay.

We know and we've seen stations close in this province. I'll table this - our department has done a great deal of research since deregulation and I can tell you that Nova Scotia has seen the decline of gasoline stations here year, after year. In some cases, no greater than other provinces - Prince Edward Island in the last couple of years has seen a greater decline in retail outlets than Nova Scotia. But these are small businesses, the businesses that we need to protect, the businesses that the members on this side of the House are committed to, the businesses that Bill No. 79 will ensure stay alive and vibrant and provide a valuable and much-needed service for people here at home, for people in Yarmouth, people in Argyle, and people in Cheticamp. These are businesses that are cornerstones of their communities. This is not just a place where people buy gas, it's a place where people meet and people talk about the issues of the day. These are part of the fabric of rural Nova Scotia, a part of who we are and what we're about.

As I have indicated, we've seen a decline, and Bill No. 79 will stop that decline. It gives government the tools, the authority, and the jurisdiction to regulate that business, to provide for the kind of protection that those operators need, deserve, and expect from their government. It provides for the kind of protection that Nova Scotians need, deserve and protect against big oil.

I can tell you nothing sickens me more than to see the tremendous profit being raked in by Esso, I don't think it's fair. I think it hurts Nova Scotians, it particularly hurts these folks here. So I'm encouraging the members opposite to support our piece of legislation, to do the right thing for the people in the audience, do the right thing for these folks, do the right thing for Nova Scotians - bring forward Bill No. 79, bring it out of the Law Amendments Committee, allow the debate to happen here on the floor of this House. Do the right thing. Don't confuse Nova Scotians with political rhetoric.

Mr. Speaker, I will tell the members opposite . . .

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I think it is important for the minister to know as a point of order that any time his Minister of Justice, who is Chairman of the Law Amendments Committee, wants to call that bill for debate, we're ready to debate it. It is up to him to call it and we're ready to call it and talk about it at any time.

[Page 7877]

MR. BARNET: That member knows that is not necessarily the truth. Members on the opposite side can call that bill too. He's been around here long enough, he knows the difference, Mr. Speaker, and I would ask you to rule on that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, the honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I hope my lost time is added on at the end.

I was a member of the committee and I chose to be on the committee because I feel and truly believe that you have to help people, you're elected to help the people you serve. We travelled this province and heard the heart-wrenching, gut-wrenching stories of people who were trying to survive, literally scrounging or scraping from pillar to post, to try to make a living.

What I want to refer to is an editorial that was in the Cape Breton Post that says there are "profit margins approaching zero". Also: "The high price of gas, and the threat to small and independent retailers" - those are the two main articles on the high price of gas.

I said last week in the House that I stopped at Ehler's service station in Whycocomagh on the way coming up because I know that he has a lot of truckers who go in there. I told him Robert MacLellan was paying $1.18 for diesel down in Bay St. Lawrence to fuel his fishing boat. Mr. Ehler was selling it for 95 cents a litre in Whycocomagh, and the truckers who were coming in from Toronto were telling him they were buying it for 75 cents a litre in Ontario. Something has to be done, Mr. Speaker.

"Barnet seeks support for gas price bill", this is Friday, April 1st, in The ChronicleHerald. Dave Collins of Wilson Fuels, his quote on that was, "'The only person that is striking up the band for it is Barry Barnet', Mr. Collins said. 'This legislation has all the hallmarks of ready, fire and then aim.'" So I guess, as a big person in the business, he doesn't think much of the present bill.

Mr. Speaker, I know that if this is a democracy, which we all fight to represent and work toward, I would personally like to see that bill called. I'm wondering why that bill was not called in this session of the Legislature. I get calls all the time, being a member of the committee, what are you going to do about it? When is something going to happen?

I'm going to read from letters that say, My Voice Counts! This is from David MacRae in Baddeck about something different, but he says my voice counts. He's one of the ones who's telling me, and I told this committee, that after 30-odd years in business, that man is going to be forced to get out of selling gas. The letter he signed says, "My voice counts." I guess the little guy in the corner, it doesn't count. I've heard it from coast to coast here, about the unruly or unnecessary or unethical - unethical might be more, about what the big gas guzzlers, and I'm not talking about SUVs, I'm talking about the gas-guzzling companies

[Page 7878]

that like to guzzle the money from the small guy, the greed. I'm talking about them. Close the service stations, hang the little guy out to dry, let them shrivel up and forget about them.

Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't know about in the big, large areas, but since I was elected in 1991, I've been fighting for the little rural areas, when I represented Victoria and now I represent Victoria-The Lakes, the riding. I was down in Middle River recently, and I go past Jimmy's service station, gone. The pumps are gone. On the concrete foundation that's there, he's got an all-terrain vehicle advertised, trying to make a living selling all-terrain vehicles. He's the person who would open the service station at 3:00 o'clock in the morning, to help refuel the fire truck, if it was needed, or to help out a neighbour who required help in the middle of the night, or in the middle of an emergency, as we so recently experienced with the loss of power in the rural areas.

A service station in a rural area is not just a service station, it's an integral part of the infrastructure of the community. I hear members on the government side of the House agreeing with me. Mr. Speaker, that's why, if there's agreement over there, I would really have appreciated if the minister had brought that bill forward again. I'm looking at responses from the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Any time I've written him a letter, he's immediately responded. I know that he does good work. Anything I've dealt with him on, he's responded quickly, but I'm at a loss to understand why this bill has not been called or re-called, whatever the proper terminology is, after it was left in debate over in the Red Room.

I look at, here, December 15th, P.E.I. drivers are going to get a holiday break on the price of gasoline. Well, they say that regulation doesn't work around here, but P.E.I. seems to be more stable, and they don't have this up and down at the pumps, and I don't think any of their rural stations are going out of business, like they are over here. Mr. Speaker, I can take these papers out one after the other and go through them, but I can't help but think of the young couple who approached us, the lady with tears in her eyes, after receiving advice from a very successful gas station operator who was now on his third station. Apparently everything he did, like he said, it seemed to turn to gold, and he was doing really well. Then suddenly, when he got locked into a 15-year agreement with a very large multinational, the roof caved in. That gentleman pumped 7 million litres of gasoline last year, and is not making money.

Now you tell me, what's wrong with that picture? I guess he'll clean the windshield and try to sell you a hamburger on the side just so he can make half a dollar. But there's something drastically wrong, but it was the advice of that gentleman, because he was doing so well and with his enthusiasm, helped another young couple take over his service station.

[Page 7879]

[4:45 p.m.]

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: No, Mr. Speaker, I have too much of this to go through. I lost some time at the beginning and I'd like . . .

MR. SPEAKER: About 20 seconds is all you lost.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, look, I've got everything here that I want, and I waited 20 seconds to get the floor as it was. With due respect to the honourable member, I would like the opportunity to complete what it is that I have to say.

Yuille Auto-Works, a letter here, April 11, 2005. These letters that I'm quoting are in April 2005. We did the tour of the province, the select committee, last year. I'm still getting information in 2005, it hasn't gone away, the problem hasn't been resolved. People need to be helped and we have to do something for them. I have highlighted in there the . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. It's certainly for your mindset to determine whether it is or not. The fact of the matter is, the legislation of 1995 that was approved by a Liberal Administration designed specifically to depopulate rural Nova Scotia is a contributing factor to what's happening to many of the small station operators in rural Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. It's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes, you have the floor.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, that former Liberal, presently an Independent, soon to be a Tory - I'm dealing with the present, not the past. We have a problem here today, and that's what we have to contend with.

The honourable gentleman would like to play it back and forth, but I intend to stick to my topic. I would like to quote from an e-mail that I received, "Petroleum Pricing - Regulations." Everywhere I turn, I get, like I said, MacRae's Home Hardware, you get Middle River, people who were established in business for years. I think again of the young couple down - I don't want to mention the area because they were very heartbroken and distraught about the business situation, trying to raise a young family, have a home and invested everything into a business only to be trapped. There must be a way the present government can help them out.

[Page 7880]

A letter signed by the Premier himself in response to a letter to Mr. Graham Conrad, March 23, 2005. I will just quote from the Premier, "Government has not yet decided on any action regarding the regulation of petroleum product prices at this time. This position may change in the future should developments in the market place warrant such action." That's kind of contradictory to what the honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations had informed us. What I will do is copy this to the honourable minister to remind him that maybe he should talk to the Premier and see about bringing the bill forward.

I'll quote from Tuesday, March 22, 2005, again. "Kiwanis club continues to fight for gas price regulation." That's down in Cape Breton, in my area, it just shows it's from one end of the province to the other. Mr. Conrad is continually writing letters on behalf of the Retail Gasoline Dealers Association. The Retail Gasoline Dealers Association has seen their membership shrink. Maybe what I should refer to is this black folder that I have my documentation in. That's not by accident, that's by purpose, because it's for the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order. I'll ask the honourable member to table the documents he's been reading from.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker, I can table those as soon as I finish. I will more than likely do that.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, I would appreciate it.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes has the floor.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: To go back to the topic that I was saying, Mr. Speaker, this here is in black out of respect for those retailers who have lost their business, basically their business has died, and that's why I keep the gas tax file in black and will put a white one on there when the government moves forward and we do something. Quoting from the letter to the Premier and signed by Mr. Conrad, "My purpose in writing reflects the concern of the hundreds of independent retailers who feel the government does not fully understand the continuing severity of this issue upon retailers."

Mr. Speaker, Mr. Conrad talks about retailers and let's take it a little further, not only the retailers, they are the employers in the rural areas, in the towns, and in the cities, they are family members, they are community members. You take the income away from one of those employers and you not only affect that employer, but you affect the workers that they have and their families also. The gasoline retailers association is an absolute industry which is very - well, it was very alive and prevalent in the Province of Nova Scotia, but now it looks like it's going to be the demise of one of the businesses that for years was the stalwart of the towns and the country section. It was nice to go for a drive and pull into a rural service station, fuel up, and just find very warm conversation on any given day and just to make yourself familiar with the communities of the rural areas.

[Page 7881]

Mr. Speaker, it has been mentioned also that one of our members, my colleague who wrote up his own report, and I just highlighted some of the things from there. He shares the concern of the majority about whether some oil companies have been oppressive in their business dealings with retailers and I can agree with that. Give the Competition Bureau, or the provincial arm of the government, the authority and resources to thoroughly investigate the activity of large oil companies in setting the crude and refiner prices.

Mr. Speaker, I think we should also bring in other jurisdictions so that we don't have to do this alone and to continue to quote from the document, "There should be a general complaint . . . concerning the actions of suppliers to retailers . . ." "price squeezing by the suppliers of fuel to the stations operated . . ." I won't name the people, they're already there, but it's prevalent that everybody is not being treated equally and they're pitting one retailer against the other.

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

The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to be able to rise here for a few minutes and speak on Resolution No. 4077 introduced by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, on a very, very important issue to rural Nova Scotia and to all Nova Scotians. In the resolution he has introduced it mentions some of the problems that are being faced by consumers and by gas retailers. They're struggling with high prices and thin margins and it's having an impact all across our province. Time and time again they and we, and consumers and others, have been bringing this forward to government to try to find a solution.

It just amazes me, Mr. Speaker, how the wheels of government roll sometimes. I've heard from the Liberal Party that they fully support regulation. I've heard from the members of this caucus. In other words, the Opposition is fully in support of gasoline regulation. I've heard from the minister and others stating, yes, it's a real problem, a real concern, and so I think we all agree that we need to get on with this and get protection for consumers and protection for retailers. So I'm amazed, and what is the process that's holding us up here? Now, the government can blame the Opposition and the Opposition can say, no, it's the government that's not doing it. Anyway, the net result is that for whatever technical reason that it's not being looked after here, the retailers and the consumers of this province are hurting.

We heard from many at the select committee. We've heard since then that there's real problems with more and more retailers going out of business. So why can't we as mature individuals, as representatives of the people, get this done, so that we can protect rural communities and protect consumers and protect the retailers?

[Page 7882]

It has been said that Bill No. 79 was stayed at committee, and that's true, but it was only after the select committee had been formed, and then we didn't need, at that moment, Bill No. 79, until the select committee came back and reported, which has been done now for eight months, so that was the only reason it was stayed at that time. I think all of us, on both sides of the House, are saying let's get on with regulation.

Mr. Speaker, you're one of the individuals, like I, who signed off on the select committee, said, yes, let's do regulation. I guess our first choice was divorcement, but that was quickly shot down, so then we said, regulation is our next choice, let's do it. Members of your caucus as well, the member for Eastern Shore, the chairman of the committee, said, yes, let's bring on regulation. The member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley signed off on the report and said, yes, it's the right thing to do, to protect consumers, to protect retailers, to protect our communities. The member for Cape Breton West was a member of the committee at that time, and he said the same thing, I'll sign off on this report and allow for protection of consumers, retailers and our communities.

I don't know where or why we're being held up here in technicalities, or if it's political bickering or whatever, but the most important thing that we need to look after are the people we represent. Those are the consumers who live in our villages, towns and hamlets, it's the independent business people who run a service station to try to make a living. As we heard, certainly loud and clear, at the select committee public hearings, they're in trouble, they're having real problems. Over and over again we heard about how thin their margins were, and how little money they were actually making. That's the crux of the problem here.

When retailers can't make a decent living, they're going to go out of business. We had 28 already this year that have been lost. The idea is that probably more than 100 others will disappear this year, in 2005, unless we, as legislators, do something to bring this on and get regulation. We heard over and over from people that this is what they want.

Now, earlier this afternoon I had the opportunity to table a petition on behalf of 51 retailers from around the province that have called for regulation. They know it's the only way they're going to survive and that they can carry on a business that will be able to offer gasoline or other services to their customers and to their communities. On the very first day this House opened, Mr. Speaker, I had the opportunity to table a petition on behalf of 3,470 Pictonians, who said, yes, we want regulation. That was from 16 different service stations or outlets in Pictou County that said it's time we regulate gasoline in Nova Scotia.

We had regulation up until 1991, when the government of the day chose to de-regulate and take it away. At that time, we had more than 1,000 stations in the province, and today that's dropped to below 500, and is rapidly decreasing, almost weekly. I lost a service station in the Town of Pictou just last Fall. It was no longer able to carry on. They had the

[Page 7883]

PetroCanada there that had operated for 60 years or more is gone, it's no longer able to operate.

Mr. Speaker, the same thing happened in your riding, in the riding of Pictou East, in the Village of Hopewell. There was a retailer, Cyril Fraser, who had to close his doors in February, again, because he's not making a margin. It's the same thing with many of our retailers who are here today, they're just not able to survive. There's something wrong with this picture. Many of us are from rural Nova Scotia, many of the members of the government side are from rural Nova Scotia, from Colchester North or Argyle or Kings South and all kinds of other ridings around the province. So these are the people who we represent, these are the people who are here today. They're begging, they're urging the government to come forward and get this on.

I think earlier it was suggested that the Law Amendments Committee is the mechanism that can allow this to happen, and that's true, that's where this Bill No. 79 is stuck at the moment. I would urge the Chairman of the Committee on Law Amendments, who is a government member to bring this forward and let's talk it out and get the best possible bill for Nova Scotians so we can survive as a province and let the service continue in our rural communities.

[5:00 p.m.]

The select committee recommended a number of things - it looked at the P.E.I. model that is working over there. They've had that for a few years now and it provides stability for consumers - for the whole month they know what they're going to pay for the price of fuel. If it's 89.9 or whatever, then that's what it stays at for 30 days unless there's a major interruption in the New York Harbour market and then they may have to look at an adjustment. But, generally it's true for 30 days, people know what they're going to pay. They can budget for it and it's working.

Are retailers in Prince Edward Island going out of business? No, they're not. I haven't heard of a single retailer disappearing from P.E.I. They're stable, they're making a minimum margin, they're able to carry on. They have a 1.5 cent difference in their margin between the maximum they can charge and the minimum they can charge. But it seems to be working there, the regulated gasoline market.

More recently, Newfoundland has brought on regulation. They do things a little bit different over there in that the Island is divided into regions. I believe there's seven different regions with a different pricing structure in each region. Generally, it seems to be working.

[Page 7884]

I just want to quote briefly from the Newfoundland regulations. They're components of a maximum price over there. First of all, they set a benchmark price, based on the Platt's or the Bloomberg's market price. Once they have that, they add in the total allowed markup for the retailer, then there's a minimum margin the retailer gets in order to survive.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to bring to the attention of the House, in the dissertation from the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, he did talk about how many gas stations have been lost in P.E.I. as well and there has been a 26 per cent change - a negative 26 per cent change - of gas retailers on P.E.I. as well.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member. The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. PARKER: As I was saying, in Newfoundland they have a structure that allows for price setting set by the URB there and the benchmark price, then they add the retailers' margin to it, then taxes and finally, any allowable service costs.

The consumers know for the whole month what they're going to pay. If there's unusual flow up and down in the prices then they can meet interim month to change that. Retailers can also apply to have the price reduced if they feel they want to sell for less.

Anyway, their structure there has been in place now for a couple of years and everything we hear indicates that it is working. It's working in P.E.I., it's working in Newfoundland and it certainly could work in Nova Scotia.

Maybe we could take the best of what's available from each of those two provinces and see what could work for Nova Scotians. We have two different models on either side of us that are working - let's take the best of what's available there and see what could work for the benefit of our retailers and our consumers and our communities.

I guess I'll mention one other thing that the minister had mentioned about the disabled. Certainly we're in favour of finding some mechanism that would allow full service for our disabled community. I'm sure that could be worked out that those people who can't pump their own gas could have a mechanism that somebody could serve them.

What are the benefits? Why are we talking about regulation? What is it that this bill or these regulations would do if properly done through the URB here in Nova Scotia? First of all, for consumers, the benefit is that it provides stability. People know for the whole 30 days that they can budget, they know what they're going to pay - if it's 90 cents a litre, then it stays that price right through until the end of the month. They know too that their corner gas station is going to be there. If we continue on the way we are, our retailers are going to be gone. Many of our communities are going to be without a service station and so that's going to hurt consumers. It's certainly a disincentive, or not a benefit, if you have to drive 30

[Page 7885]

miles into town to fill up your gas tank in your vehicle, of if you need to get a tank full of gas for your lawn mower if you were cutting the grass Saturday morning, you know, if it's there in the local community, then it's a convenience and it works for everybody.

For local farmers, they can come down and drive their tractor in and get gassed up. It's a benefit to them. They don't have to drive into the urban centre to get fuel. It was pointed out by my colleague, the member for Cape Breton Centre, it's a benefit for fire departments. They can go right in their own community and get the fuel. Another benefit then, certainly for our retailers, is that they know that they can plan, they can get a business plan together, they can go to their financial institutions and say Mr. Banker, we're going to expand, we're going to add another bay or whatever. If they know that they have a decent margin they can live on, they can plan for the future and know that they'll add to their business, or expand and thrive.

I think most importantly, Mr. Speaker, there are benefits to the community. The service station really is a centre of the community, it's often the convenience store. There are service bays. People have confidence when they have a community that has the extras in it. They build houses, they expand their businesses, our schools keep open. Gas stations really are an essential service in our community. Thousands of Nova Scotians want it, retailers want it, and our communities will be much stronger if we have regulated gas. Let's get on it and let's move forward and make it happen here in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Before I recognize the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, I just want to rule. The Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations asked me to rule on the status of Bill No. 79. It is in the hands of the committee. It cannot be recalled by the minister. It can only be recalled by the committee.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have 30 seconds to discuss this issue simply because there are five independent retailers in my riding and most of them are here today. I just wanted to bring to the attention of the House that, simply, we really need to do something. Maybe we disagree on the means to the end, but we all agree on the end. So what we need to do is call Bill No. 79 in the committee, get it debated, and help out these folks. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

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

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 212.

Bill No. 212 - Health Insurance Protection Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I can't tell you how much I welcome the chance to speak to this bill. I believe it is a fundamental piece of legislation which needs to be enacted in Nova Scotia. Some of the worst injustices are those which are perpetrated on people who do not know that it is taking place. Bill No. 212 addresses such an injustice.

As we know, the cost of medication, the cost of health services, the cost of hospitalization, and all of the additional costs of illness can be crippling. A large proportion of personal bankruptcies in the United States admittedly are attributable quite simply to medical costs which cannot be met by the individual needing that care. People go broke attempting to buy the medicines that would keep them alive, to get the operations done which are essential, or simply to get a hospital room.

That's not the case in Canada, but even so we have a number of uninsured services and if you do not belong to a health insurance plan, if you are not a subscriber to a health insurance plan, the cost of your medication can be every bit as crippling as it is to anybody living in the United States, and those crippling costs can be passed on, in fact, to all of the members of your family. Mind you, we have a safeguard here. The safeguard is health insurance plans. Many employers offer a very valuable benefit which is that of being able to subscribe to a group health insurance plan. Unfortunately, however, we don't stay employed by the same employer for a lifetime, and there are many people who discover, too late, that they are no longer eligible to be covered by the group health insurance plan which has sheltered them for so long. In fact, the longer that they have been sheltered by that plan, the worse their situation.

Let me give you an example. A 42-year-old woman who has been married for 15 years, during the course of that time, since she was 27 years old, she has been to the doctor for stomach aches, she has been to the doctor for headaches, she has had a child, a number of other things may have happened, diabetes may have developed in her family. At divorce, at the age of 42, she is no longer the spouse of a member of a group health insurance plan. She needs to get, for herself and her children, new health insurance. She goes to a health

[Page 7887]

insurer and asks for individual coverage. Every single consultation she has made to a doctor in the 15 preceding years, between 27 and 42, is all of a sudden up for grabs. If she is ever prescribed medication in her life for stomach aches, for headaches, anything else about which she may have consulted a doctor, she will have to pay for any medication resulting. That's for a lifetime. The same is true of her children.

Take the example of a 60-year-old woman whose husband dies. He has a group health insurance plan through his employer. They have been married for 37 years. Everything that has happened to her in 37 years, until the age of 60, is now a pre-existing condition. When she is 65, Pharmacare will help her out with the cost of medications, but, in the interim, she must buy herself a limited health insurance plan, which will cover almost nothing, if you look at what comes up in the course of 37 years, and she will have to pay all of the expenses for five years. If she cannot pay those expenses she may find herself on Community Services assistance. Extended Pharmacare will help her out.

However, in other jurisdictions it is not the responsibility of the government to accept what is being downloaded on it by private insurers. In other jurisdictions there is a right for anybody leaving a group health insurance plan to apply for new insurance as long as they do it very quickly, which is usually 30 days to apply for new insurance on the same terms and conditions as their preceding coverage. That means that there is some continuous protection. In places like Connecticut, in places like California, Illinois, in fact in every state of the United States there is a regulatory scheme there which makes sure that insurers do in fact bear the burden of what they have undertaken to do, which is to insure health conditions.

I find it really extraordinary that here in Nova Scotia, health insurers undertake to insure people, but at the first hint of an out, they can take it, because when anyone has to leave a group health insurance plan here in Nova Scotia, they have not got the chance to receive continued coverage.

There's another feature, as well, of health insurance protection in the United States, which I was rather amazed to see, not that it's a bad thing, but that it's far more than one would think of immediately. Here, when you apply for health insurance there's a lengthy questionnaire, and it says, have you ever been treated for any of the following or diagnosed with, and that's a long checklist. Those things become excluded conditions, if you have ever, and if you don't answer truthfully and there is any consequence to that, I'm sure that the insurers find out.

[5:15 p.m.]

However, in the United States, that questionnaire reads only, have you been treated for these conditions in the preceding x months, x years. If those conditions are not manifest for a length of time, then those conditions are considered not to exist any longer. That seems, to me, to be only fair. We're living long lives these days, but our jobs are short. Sometimes

[Page 7888]

the lives of our spouses or marriages are short, far shorter than a lifetime. When it happens that a group insurance plan can no longer take care of some of the people it was bought to take care of, then people are thrown onto their own resources, their family's resources, and finally, if it gets really bad, onto the province's resources.

Madam Speaker, I believe that we should be making sure that Nova Scotians are protected in the same way people in other jurisdictions are protected. Nova Scotians who are insured and, in fact, to put it bluntly, Nova Scotian taxpayers - because we are paying premiums to health insurance companies to take care of certain expenses. The actuarial estimates which are made assume certain lengths of time on that insurance. It's a windfall for an insurance company every time a dependent leaves, every time an insured dies, and all their dependents are forced off that group insurance plan.

Unfortunately, the cost of that windfall is a cost that Nova Scotians are bearing, and that, to me, Madam Speaker, seems not only unfair and unwise, but something whose time has come. With that, I would hope very much that this bill will find its way to further examination, that there will be a commonsense appraisal of it, and that we will, in fact, bring into existence in this jurisdiction a kind of regime which exists elsewhere and enables those who are paid to do a job, that is to say insurers, to do the job they are paid to do, or in fact requires them to do.

There's another little bit, too, which I think is important, because one of the things that has surprised me is when I first began mentioning this kind of condition to people, they reacted with absolute panic. Most people were quite unaware of this, and some very surprising people are unaware that they may be protected, but they are protected only temporarily, and that it is false security which is offered to them during the time that they are covered by a group health insurance plan. It is very much a false security and, in fact, the sooner they get off that plan, the better they are in many cases.

So, people have come to me with all sorts of really unnerving stories. It is the kind of thing which people with chronic lung disease, diabetes, cancer, mental illnesses, heart disease, all of these things, all of these people living with chronic conditions stand to be exposed to crippling financial circumstances if, in fact, they are not protected as they should be. Madam Speaker, with that, I will sit down, hoping that this legislation will in fact move to further investigation. (Applause)

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. KERRY MORASH: Madam Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise today to speak on Bill No. 212, an Act Respecting the Protection and the Portability of Health Insurance. I listened intently as the member who introduced the bill was speaking. I think, as MLAs in the House, most have had opportunity where people have come to visit our offices and have had discussions with us where there have been circumstances that have been beyond their control,

[Page 7889]

that have caused them great hardship and it has made their life very difficult. This may be something that we can look at to see if there's a way that we can provide some type of protection to allow these people to be able to live a bit more comfortably in the event of a devastating loss within their family.

I'd like to say that the intentions of the bill are good. I know in a short discussion with the member opposite, I know she's done a lot of research, she has looked at this and it is another jurisdiction. We also did discuss and will continue to discuss that there does need to be some discussion with additional stakeholders to make sure we crossed every "t" and dotted every "i" prior to a bill similar to this going forward. I believe that we can do some consultation and some homework to make sure that we identify what the issues are with the bill and to determine if there are corrections or improvements that we might make - I know that we could do that. The exploration of where the issues are is the one thing.

The bill was just introduced last Friday so there hasn't been a great deal of time and certainly not a great deal of time by the department to review this and to do a jurisdictional review and to find out what other areas are doing for comparison purposes. So there does need to be some exploration out in the field to find out where we are and what we're actually looking at and that seems to be the biggest issue right now. The intentions of the bill certainly seem good but with respect to the details and what it can mean, and I think everybody in the House can appreciate sometimes when we can rush something through it's almost like an unintentional die catch where we include or gather some things that we really didn't intend to.

We certainly all know that with our dealings with auto insurance over the past number of months that insurance is always a complex issue. There are many details that need to be looked at, we have to review a lot of things to be sure that we're doing a comprehensive study prior to moving anything forward in the House. As I said before I know there is a great deal of research that went into the bill. It doesn't appear that there has been any consultation up to this period of time and consultation would be the one tool that we would want to use to be sure that the 125 or so companies that provide health, accident, and sickness insurance in Nova Scotia, have been involved. There are also a great number of groups and individuals who would also be affected by this Act.

The intentions of the bill are certainly good as I've stated. I think to improve the availability for insurance for Nova Scotians is something that we certainly can work together at and that's certainly something that is very important for all the residents of the province. While some of these suggestions have merit I think we do need to take some time for some very extensive analysis to determine the full extent of the legislation. That's the one thing that the department would be certainly committed to. We would want to make sure that we did a full investigation and that we, so to speak, turned every stone to ensure that we knew exactly what it was that we were looking for.

[Page 7890]

There are a few things that I'd like to point out with respect to some of the details of the bill. First I think we need to make it known or reiterate that we have a sound insurance Act in the province and that Act does address pre-existing conditions. It doesn't define the term pre-existing conditions which of course this bill before us attempts to do, the key point in the definition is that it proposes to reduce the time frames for being eligible for benefits from a pre-existing condition from 24 months down to six months. Certainly on the surface we see that as a very positive thing for someone who's sick and it's also a very significant change that would take place within the insurance program. As I have said it requires a closer look when we talk about group health insurance plans - they are numerous and there are many facets and assets to them which complicate moving this bill forward quickly by any means.

The couple of examples that were put forward with regard to people and how long they had been married or if a spouse passes and how they can be left with no coverage or very little coverage or coverage for a very short period of time is something that concerns all of us. We're always striving to see if we can come up with systems that will give people protection, especially those people who assumed they had protection. The point was made very well that there are people out there who believe they have the type of protection they need for the long term, and then something can happen, there can be a sickness in the family or the loss of a job and people believe these benefits are going to continue. Unfortunately, that may not be the case. Upon investigation, these people can find themselves in a very difficult situation.

The excluded conditions, we do have excluded conditions that were mentioned, and something that needs to be explored. We need to find out what the conditions would be, look at those. There are the issues with regard to questionnaires that are filled out or would be filled out, the details of what these questions are. There are many, many bits and pieces of information that we certainly have to explore, certainly within the department, before we would be able or willing to do anything with this bill.

I've asked the department to take a look at this and we just realized it was coming forward yesterday. We've had the Superintendent of Insurance review the bill and make some comments and observations. However, he's had very limited time to take a look at this legislation or to have any kind of a review with other legislation that is across North America. As well, we had discussions this morning in the department with regard to the bill to determine the content and to see what we could do to review it to make sure we have the information we need and, I guess, to do the analysis.

One of the issues with regard to the analysis would be a critical analysis of the bill because that would certainly be our job to make sure we outline and determine what the obstacles would be, what the issues would be, what the concerns would be from a piece of legislation like this moving forward. That's something that has started, certainly only briefly, but it is something that we have started.

[Page 7891]

I am pleased to stand up today and say we're willing to look at this and we would work with the member to review this. Section 3 of the bill attempts to improve the availability of health insurance by requiring an insurer to cover a condition if no medical advice, diagnosis or treatment was recommended within 12 months of the beginning of coverage.

I do have some concerns here that this type of provision may tempt - I just say may tempt, it's an observation - some people to delay getting care in order to qualify under the provision. I would hope that wouldn't be the case, but these are the types of issues that we will be looking at and would like to look at prior to anything moving forward in this House. That could certainly make the health situation of an individual much worse if for any reason they delayed getting care to ensure they were covered by a group action plan.

It certainly has merits, but also does require additional analysis. The one offer I would make would be that the member opposite who introduced the bill, the member for Halifax Atlantic, contact people within the department and we'll make sure they have an opportunity to discuss the issues, discuss their research and make sure they understand each other's points of view and see if there is a common ground, and a way that there could be some movement forward.

[5:30 p.m.]

I think that all aspects of the bill, Clauses 4, 5 and 6, which go together, certainly seem to have the most merit. It will ensure that Nova Scotians don't lose coverage just because they may be covered under a new plan, and I agree that it's valuable to provide this kind of coverage. I think we certainly all appreciate the value of this type of coverage, especially since people may find themselves in positions where changing plans and insurance carriers is something out of their control - and the point was made that jobs sometimes tend to be short these days and certainly that is just a fact of life in today's society, that people do move from job to job certainly more often than they ever have before and that brings this issue to the forefront as well.

As well, when an insured spouse passes would be one example when people's lives would change considerably and there's no saying what premiums companies may charge for this kind of continuing coverage. That's an issue that we would want to explore and we wouldn't want to see a premium that was so high that it would be exclusive and would stop anyone from being able to get the kind of coverage anyway. So this would be part of the consultation that we would need to do to obtain estimates of what costs would be, or get the best guesstimate - I guess we would call it - or estimate of the costs and that's something certainly that is important without a doubt.

The other concern is there are a couple of issues with some of the sections, but something that we would certainly look at, and I guess in concluding, Madam Speaker, the bill certainly has merit. It does lack the consultation which we need and it lacks the proper

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analysis, but that is something that we can look for. So, therefore, I have asked the department to review the bill, to do some of the consultation and determine if we may be able to look forward to having this bill looked at in the Fall.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Madam Speaker, there's no question that the goal of this bill is laudable and the bill does attempt to address the problem of insurance companies denying benefits on the basis of a pre-existing condition. There is no question that people with illnesses have a harder time getting insurance benefits. The risk of the insurance companies is obviously higher, and as a result people with pre-existing conditions are either being denied coverage or they're being required to pay premiums that are prohibitive, and without insurance coverage, without the financial means, people are being forced to forgo important and necessary medications as well.

Madam Speaker, without medication these people end up in emergency rooms which disrupts their lives and costs our health care system more in the end and we all know the situation in emergency rooms these days. As we've outlined in the Liberal caucus, there are over 13,000 hours that emergency rooms have been closed in this province over the past several years, but let me get back to Bill No. 212. This bill attempts to address the type of situation I'm talking about. There are some questions. The question is perhaps, does the bill address the issue that I was talking about, is this the best way to do it. We kind of need a clear idea of what the effects of this type of legislation will be. We also want to know if it will lead to higher costs for insurance and, perhaps, will it lead to less types of insurance being covered.

Madam Speaker, you can't really force an insurance company to lose money, and we also have the question of whether or not the issues can be corrected better, corrected by government covering more types of medication than they currently do perhaps, but there's no question that these are important issues. This legislation attempts to address them, and we believe the legislation has merit and would be quite glad to support it. So having said that, I thank you for your time and I will take my seat.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Madam Speaker, I understand the NDP Health Critic will be speaking last on this particular motion.

The points with regard to the benefits of this particular piece of legislation, I believe, have been fairly well-made, but I think to accent the reality of what it means to not only those who are affected directly by the plan, but also for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, I believe in many instances insurance companies, whether by design or just by the way the process operates, allow individuals who become excluded from a plan by the death of a spouse or a

[Page 7893]

loved one who is the main carrier of the plan, and then all of a sudden the remaining members of the family or those who are generally provided the coverage appear to be excluded.

So there is a cost, I believe, and I think the minister has made the point extremely well, that there should be a cost analysis done on this, because if what the member has stated is correct, and I have no doubt, her research is fairly thorough, particularly referring to the experience down in the United States, where legislation requires that type of carry-over for those who are affected by any particular insurance or medical plan, particularly in Nova Scotia. As we know, statistics show that, for example, just with regard to the number of seniors, the number of individuals who retire and become seniors, that population factor in Nova Scotia is expected to double by the year 2026. So we're going from approximately 125,000 seniors to over 200,000 senior citizens in this province.

Obviously, many of these individuals, if they die and their spouses, for whatever reason, through separation or for - many of the relationships in the province today are common law, and in the absence of some proper verbiage in some of these agreements, because there has been recent legislation there, this will have a major negative impact on not only those individuals, those spouses, but also their children, Madam Speaker.

I believe that the points that were raised in this particular piece of legislation are very worthy of further consideration. I believe, all indications are, we'll probably have a Fall session of the Legislature, and I think that the minister has extended the invitation that the honourable member bring to the department, the senior officials in the department - and I know that the minister responsible for insurance in the province, the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, he would be particularly interested in this particular piece of legislation. It's one of the few times I've seen him smile all day, when he thought he would save some more money for the government. I think he's been going with his pen ever since the bill came up for discussion here today, so that's very positive.

I know that this is a matter of considerable interest to the Minister of Health, because, as we all know, concern has been raised in all three caucuses, by all members of the House, about the ever-escalating health care costs in the Province of Nova Scotia. Some drugs, I've heard in recent weeks, the fact that the cost of prescription drugs is continuing to escalate unnecessarily. Now, I don't have the expertise, I don't have the actual data or the details that would give substantive support or denial of that, Madam Speaker, but I'm sure all this anecdotal evidence that seems to be coming across seems to warrant that this bill does require further examination, and to hold some of these large companies accountable for their actions, because they seem to be downloading not only on local governments but also for the individuals who really can't afford it.

We saw what happened - there was a report on CBC just recently, that upwards of 40 per cent of all those Americans who required medical coverage or medical attention and didn't have some form of medical insurance ended up going either to the point of bankruptcy

[Page 7894]

or expiring all their assets that they'd saved all their lifetime. This is certainly not what we would want for our citizens here in Nova Scotia. I think it's a very worthy piece of legislation, I believe that whether it proceeds for further examination before this House in this session or indeed in the Fall session, I think the opportunity is there to do something good. This is good social legislation, it's good, it's fair and it helps to protect the basic needs of those who need health care in Nova Scotia. We're not all fortunate enough to be working for the government where we have good health insurance plans, good medical plans, we're not fortunate enough to work for the federal government or even municipal governments or large corporations.

There are tens of thousands of Nova Scotians that are classified as the working poor and they need some form of protection. I don't think that we would be remiss in any form, we would not be negligent in any form by holding these large insurance companies accountable. The point has been made in the opening remarks by the honourable member about the actuarials and it's amazing for example, when you get into a car accident, the insurance companies will set aside x number of dollars, for what they contemplate to be the long-term cost of that particular claim, and they always seem to look at the outside limit. They may negotiate maybe 25 or 50 per cent of what they actually set aside through the actuarial claim for the long-term liability for their company.

In fact, there's a windfall for them at the end of the day and I've never known too many claims to be over the amount that they actually set aside. The point has been very well made about the matter of actuarials and that's where I believe the minister responsible for insurance can work with the Minister of Environment and Labour and the Superintendent of Insurance and provide some additional detail, not only for all members of the House but certainly for the sponsor of the bill so that we can have better detail when it comes before the House perhaps later in the session or in the Fall. I know that a bill of this nature would certainly go before the Law Amendments Committee and all Nova Scotians, even the insurance companies, all stakeholders will have an opportunity to come and speak, either in favour or in opposition, of this particular bill.

Personally, I think it's a good piece of legislation and it will not only save the taxpayers of Nova Scotia a considerable amount of money but it will put in perspective the issue of responsibility and due diligence and where responsibility should be. Far too often the consumers, those particularly with low and fixed incomes, that can't afford these luxury plans but are somehow forced into that situation by no fault of their own. I think it will certainly serve each and every one of us very well.

The point about the health care costs, I mean our health care budget alone this year is over $2 billion and still all indications are, by recent reports, that if we continue at this rate, is it 2009? I think we'll be well beyond. I realize my time has expired, I think it's good legislation and I think it is worthy of support.

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MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place and speak as well in support of the ideas that are brought here before the members of this Legislature in Bill No. 212 by my colleague, the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. This is something probably that you don't really think about until you run into it in a concrete way. I would say two years ago I had a phone call from somebody I had known quite some time ago who was associated with Acadia University as a student advisor. She was calling because she had a young woman who was a student at the university who had juvenile diabetes and required particular medications, insulin, and all of the other kinds of pharmaceutical supports that people with diabetes require in order to manage their disease. The person who was calling me was very concerned for this young woman because she had drug coverage under her father's insurance plan. However, she was about to graduate from the university and she would no longer be living at home and her age was such that she would no longer be considered a dependant under his insurance plan.

In preparation for the time when she would no longer be covered by her dad's plan, she had started looking around for an insurance plan that would provide her with the kind of drug coverage and other kinds of coverage she enjoyed on his plan. She found that she simply could not, first of all, find an insurer that would pick her up. They all considered her diabetic condition a pre-existing condition and she was exempt from many plans. She eventually found one or two carriers who were prepared to look at her, but the premiums to get into the plan were probably as much as what it would cost her to go out and buy the medications and the things she needed directly, and then some. It was a very stressful situation for this young woman.

That was the first time I encountered this situation, Madam Speaker. Since that time, I have had probably three or four fairly similar situations where it's students who are on their parents' drug plan, who reach the age of majority where they're no longer dependants, they're no longer students, they're about to graduate and they go out into the world on their own and, all of a sudden - particularly if you have a young person who has some kind of chronic condition such as diabetes, but there can be a whole variety of situations. You may have a young person who has had a kidney transplant and has to take the anti-rejection medications and those kinds of medications on a daily basis, which can be extraordinarily expensive and covered by the plan of a parent. What happens to that child when they become 19 and no longer qualify for coverage as dependants to go out and try to acquire health insurance is an incredible challenge.

This is the motivation behind the legislation that the member for Halifax Atlantic has brought forward. I think it's such a great idea, and it draws on the American public policy arena. I was very pleased to hear the minister speaking earlier about the openness of the government to explore further the effectiveness of this legislation. As well, I was very heartened to hear the member for Glace Bay indicate the support of his Party in exploring this

[Page 7896]

legislation further. So often in this Chamber when ideas are brought forward - and as well, the Independent member expressed his support for this idea.

Often we have a hard time finding some common ground here in this Chamber, but it seems that in this case there is a fair degree of common ground. That's very encouraging. The honourable member for Cape Breton West was indicating about the high cost of drugs, and just this week we heard the breakthrough that the researchers believe they have effected with respect to medication for breast cancer. I, like many other people, listened to this with great interest, because breast cancer, as we all know, is a very big concern for people around this province. The thing that concerned me in that report is that even when Herceptin becomes available here, once it goes through the next round of hurdles that it has to go through to become available for women with breast cancer, the cost is going to be $40,000 a year.

So, Mr. Speaker, those kinds of costs for people who don't have private health insurance to cover their drugs will leave, certainly, many people in a very serious situation, knowing that there is a drug that could be very successful in terms of treating their cancer but how do they get access to it? This, I think, is the purpose of this legislation. I know that the honourable member has done a great deal of research, already, looking at how these provisions have worked in other jurisdictions.

Mr. Speaker, I think Nova Scotians, sometimes, might be surprised to learn that here in Nova Scotia we have the highest percentage of private health care consumption of any province in the country. When you actually start looking at why that is, what you will find is that an awful lot of Nova Scotians purchase private health insurance and private health services, like home care services, for example. When they don't qualify for the provisions that we have in our public system. Home care isn't a universally accessible health care program yet, although perhaps one day it will be.

So many people rely, for their drug coverage, on private health insurance, to get physiotherapy on their private drug plans, to get a whole variety of health care services. They rely very heavily on private plans, because in our public system the only things that are covered are, as we know, visitation to a physician's office. So physicians' services are insured services, and the procedures that you get in a hospital, if you have diagnostic services or any surgical procedures that are procedures that haven't been delisted.

Outside of that, Mr. Speaker, everything else that people require in terms of maintaining their health and treating various health care conditions, particularly drugs and particularly equipment, comes through private health insurance. If you follow the financial pages, we will see that the health insurance industry is probably one of the most profitable places for an individual to invest. It's an area that sees continual growth in terms of the value of stocks and bonds in the health insurance industry.

[Page 7897]

So I think that this is something we, as a province, really need to explore. We need to look at the practices of private health insurance in the province. We need to look at ways we can minimize the burden of consumers and citizens, particularly people who have chronic health requirements and chronic health needs. As the member for Cape Breton West indicated, this, in fact, may contribute to a lessening of some of the financial burden that occurs in our private system, which is taxpayer based. In the cases that I talked about earlier, of students who become the age of majority, no longer are dependent, no longer are in university, and are independent and no longer covered, they end up in the private system, or the public system.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for debate on this bill has expired.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, could I have the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting Reports of Committees?

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

Bill No. 162 - Public Utilities Act.

Bill No. 179 - Self-managed Support-care 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 Government House Leader.

[Page 7898]

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

Bill No. 197 - Fisheries and Coastal Resources Act.

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

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

The honourable Government House Leader on tomorrow's hours and order of business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon and the House will sit until 8:00 p.m. The order of business following the daily routine and Question Period will be a smorgasbord of everything that's on the order paper. We will be doing Public Bills for Second Reading and Third Reading. We will be doing Committee of the Whole House on Bills and there may be some Private and Local Bills there too, I would have to check that through, but if there are, we'll be dealing with those as well. So with that, I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

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 12:00 noon tomorrow.

We have reached the moment of interruption.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

[Page 7899]

CAN. SUMMER GAMES TEAM - GUYS.-SHEET HBR.:

PARTICIPANTS ABILITY - RECOGNIZE

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to stand in the House tonight and talk about something that is near and dear to me. I did a resolution, as you know, earlier this afternoon in the Legislature:

"Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature recognize the athletic ability of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour individuals who have been named to the 2005 Canada Summer Games Team, and also recognize the dedication taken by 449 Nova Scotians in preparing for the games in August in Regina."

Mr. Speaker, as you know and all members of the House know, the constituency of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour is huge when it comes to travel distance, but not very big in population. When the Electoral Boundaries Commission was doing their review a few years ago, I remember a statement made by one of the members when he said Guysborough-Sheet Harbour is nearly as big as Prince Edward Island where they have 27 MLAs and yet only one is going to serve the area of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, but despite the size of Guysborough-Sheet Harbour, which can take you nearly a day to travel if you go into every nook and cranny, the population is only around 11,000. Despite the size and the small population, when it comes to competitive spirit and agility of sports, Guysborough-Sheet Harbour athletes take a backseat to no one.

A good indication is in the resolution as I introduced earlier this afternoon when I congratulated two young fellows from Guysborough County for being named to the Canada Games Men's Softball Team - Donnelly Archibald from Aspen and Cory Avery from Larrys River in Guysborough County. Softball or fast pitch is a sport that is big in only certain areas of the province, but it is rebounding and interest in the sport is beginning to grow once again. Guysborough County is one of the areas where the sport has never really faded. When I say this, I think of the Antigonish-Guysborough Men's Fastball League and, Mr. Speaker, for quite a number of years, in my younger days, I played in that league. (Interruptions) No, I was a third baseman usually. They always put me in the spot where they could get the line drives at me, sometimes that happens in here as well.

[6:00 p.m.]

When you consider that there are only 15 members named to the Nova Scotia Canada Games Men's Softball Team and that two are from Guysborough County, I would say that was pretty impressive. Keep in mind that all the teams have not yet announced their athletes who would be on the team but there is not a doubt in my mind that Cory and Donnelly will not be the only athletes from Guysborough-Sheet Harbour named to the teams prior to the opening of the Canada Games in Regina on August 6th.

[Page 7900]

Mr. Speaker, did you realize that Nova Scotia is the only province to have a fully volunteer mission staff - 18 in total, and they won the inaugural Claude Hardy Award for the best mission staff at the 2001 Summer Games in London, Ontario, and again at the 2003 Winter Games in Bathurst-Campbellton, New Brunswick.

Mr. Speaker, for the record, I would like to read the names of the 2005 mission staff, and on behalf of the government caucus and all members of the Legislature thank them for their outstanding work: Anitra Dagley, Frank Denis, Bette El-Hawary, Adele Poirier, Caitlin Rochon, and Nancy Tokaryk are all from the Halifax Regional Municipality. Jodi Henderson, Lynne Robertson and Jan Wallace from Dartmouth in the HRM. Mary Jane MacKinnon from Hammond Plains, Jeff LeDreu who resides in Upper Tantallon. Two residents of the Annapolis Valley will accompany Team Nova Scotia and they are Ted Meldrum of Coldbrook and Mike Trinacity of Berwick. The remaining three mission staff are Gerard MacIsaac of Pictou, Joel LeBlanc from Victoria Mines, Cape Breton County, and Ness Timmons of South Bar, Cape Breton County.

At the last Summer Games in London, Team Nova Scotia brought back 46 medals along with the Centennial Cup awarded to the team that makes the greatest improvements from one Summer Games to the next or one Winter Games to the next. This was the third Centennial Cup won by Nova Scotia, as we also won it in Lethbridge at the Winter Games in 1975, and at the 1981 Summer Games in Thunder Bay, Ontario.

Mr. Speaker, we have been fortunate enough to host two Canada Games in Nova Scotia. We hosted the initial Canada Summer Games in Halifax in 1969, and then the 1987 Winter Games in Cape Breton. We are now preparing to host the 2011 Canada Winter Games in one of the regions of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, speaking of the Winter Games, I had the great pleasure of representing our Minister of Sport and Recreation for Nova Scotia at the Official Opening of the 2003 Games in the Bathurst-Campbellton region of New Brunswick. It was there when the Chairman of the Canada Games Council, Mr. Larry Smith, unveiled a new Canada Games logo after having used the same one for the previous 36 years.

I would have to tell you that I was very proud that day, that Saturday afternoon, in Campbellton, New Brunswick, when I stood on the stage with all the ministers of sport and recreation and for every province and territories in Canada, and to see the young athletes that were there representing Nova Scotia. There was a curling team out of Guysborough County, the Chedabucto Curling Club was there presenting the province's ladies team. Donald Mattie, who was the coach of that team was there. Sidney Crosby from Cole Harbour played in the hockey tournament. There was a young guy from Antigonish, the member for Antigonish's riding, his first name escapes me right now but I'm pretty sure his last name is Vanderlinden, he played with the hockey team as well.

[Page 7901]

Mr. Speaker, I will wrap up this evening by just mentioning that the Canada Games is a tremendous opportunity for athletes - just look at the people who have participated. I've already mentioned Sidney Crosby at the 2002 Winter Games in New Brunswick. This year's MVP Steve Nash of the Phoenix Suns who played for the British Columbia mens' basketball team in the 1993 Summer Games in Kamloops and Corey Koskie who played for Manitoba in their mens' baseball team at the same Summer Games at Kamloops in the Summer of 1993. Koskie, of course, is the regular starting third baseman of the Toronto Blue Jays.

The theme of this year's games in Regina is, No Limits, and will provide a positive environment that offers fulfillment, cultivates many new friendships while fostering leadership and development.

My time is likely nearing an end, but it has been a pleasure to speak this evening in these historic Chambers about the athletic abilities of the youth from Guysborough County and Sheet Harbour while also discussing what a tremendous organization we have involved in the preparation of the 2005 Canada Summer Games from Nova Scotia. I would like to wish the Canada Games team from Nova Scotia all the best on behalf of all the members of the Legislature and everybody from Nova Scotia.

Having said that, I'll take my seat. (Applause)

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

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): I thank the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour for bringing this resolution forward. I too want to convey, on behalf of our caucus, the NDP, best wishes to the athletes, especially mentioned by the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour in wishing them luck later this Summer in the Canada Games in Regina, Saskatchewan.

I know how excited many of these athletes - I believe there's a 449-member team going out to Regina this year to participate in the Canada Games. I believe there are about 361 athletes, the rest are coaches and support teams. Actually, I think this year they are even involving four artists to go out and hopefully capture the spirit of the games.

I know for a fact that these young athletes throughout the province are very excited right now. Many of them are training and competing to make the Canada Games team. Many of them have been on the core team for the last couple of years and have been trained to try to achieve their goals of attending these games. They are important - important for the province, the country, especially when it comes to involvement and the involvement of our youth in sports and activities throughout this country.

[Page 7902]

It's a stepping stone for many of them. They go on to represent our country in national and international meets and it truly is an opportunity for them to shine and be proud of what their achievements have been and where they come from and the area they represent. I know the Nova Scotia athletes will be very proud to carry the flag from our province and represent our province as ambassadors in Saskatchewan.

I had the opportunity in 1989 to be chosen as an athlete for the Canada Games team then. We actually went to Saskatchewan, in Saskatoon, so I know the athletes here in Nova Scotia will have a great time in Saskatchewan - the province really knows how to put on a world-class, first-class event. I know they'll come away knowing that this was a first-class national multi-sport event and have long memories - as I do - as I did many years ago.

But I do have some concerns around what we see in sports right now, especially when it comes to funding. I think this government has really dropped the ball on funding our athletes in this province. I know there's a strong initiative from the Department of Health Promotion to encourage our youth especially, but residents in the province, to be more active and get involved in all aspects of a healthier lifestyle.

These athletes that are going to be representing our province - they're way ahead of the game. They're training now, they're committed to their sport, their events, from track and field to baseball to swimming to rowing. The main thing that I find time and time again when I run into residents - especially our youth that are involved in sports - is the funding problem. Over the years, government has really cut into what governments used to provide for funding, especially in training for our athletes and for our teams.

Many of these athletes that train throughout the year to try to make our provincial teams and our provincial events that we try to send them away to national meets, incur a huge cost. It's so hard for these athletes and their families - their parents - to even support them in their initiatives to be involved in sports in this province, it's so expensive. I'm discouraged when I hear athletes like the young athletes that are going to represent our province in the Legion National Track and Field Championships - which is, I think, two weeks prior to the Canada Games - to find out these athletes are being asked to fund their own uniforms. I brought it up in this House before. I know I have brought a similar resolution forward asking for the government to fund the athletes and their uniforms. It was actually made by the Minister of Health Promotion, which I found disappointing in his response to that, and not taking the initiative of supporting these young athletes.

I know I'm off a little bit from this resolution, but it just shows, and I know the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour is very proud of the athletes and the young men and women in his area of the province, who are active in his community, are involved in sport, to the point where they're excelling at it, where they make the provincial team, and now they've made the leap into representing this province on a national stage, Mr. Speaker, that they find it hard, I'm sure, and just like many MLAs in this province find it hard when we get those

[Page 7903]

calls from teens, when we get those calls from athletes, just asking, where can I get some funding? We're so underfunded, the travel cost now is outrageous for some of these athletes, especially the ones who are excelling, the ones who are making our provincial teams, national teams. They have to travel long distances.

The member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour mentioned in this response how large his area is, it's the size of Prince Edward Island. Just imagine, there are athletes in his area, there are athletes in Cape Breton who need to get up to the city or other parts of the province to participate in some of these provincial teams, and a lot of them actually refuse to go and can't go because their family members can't afford for them to be on these provincial and national teams, Mr. Speaker.

That's why this government needs to address this serious issue about funding to our athletes and to our sports organizations throughout this province. They're struggling, they're trying to compete with non-profit groups for money from the residents. They're out fundraising, selling chocolate bars, trying to hold bingos, and just trying to get enough money to send these young athletes away to represent our province, and hopefully go on to bigger and better things.

With my opportunity of representing this province in Saskatoon in 1989, I had a goal in mind to achieve when I met a former Canada Games athlete, a decathlete of ours, Dave Steen, who went on to represent our province, our country actually, in the Olympics, and I believe was a bronze medalist in the Olympics, Mr. Speaker. It's very important that our young athletes have the opportunity to represent our province and attend these national meets, but it's becoming more difficult for these young athletes to make it to that higher stage, and try to hopefully promote what we have in this province, we have great athletes here.

Our assets in this province, when it comes to especially our youth in sports is amazing. In my own community, I know this year was a banner year for some of our hockey teams that won provincial titles, and it was amazing to see that they were so happy to make it, going on to representing our province in Atlantic championships and some, actually, national championships. But the biggest concern is that they didn't know, leading up to their events, if they could even afford to go. They had, really, a lack of funding, a lack of core support or core funding from government that would enable these teams, when they compete and they achieve these great goals of winning provincial titles, to go on to national events.

I would hope that the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour will echo what I'm saying, and I know he feels similar to his fellow colleagues and caucus members, especially the Cabinet Minister and especially the Minister of Health Promotion, because I think if we can get the Minister of Health Promotion to realize the importance of core funding to our athletes and our teams in this province, then his job will be easier and the job of the Minister of Health down the road will be easier because that's the whole purpose of Health Promotion,

[Page 7904]

to promote healthier lifestyles. These kids, the ones that the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour mentioned, who made the Canada Games Team, and the other 361 athletes who are going to represent this province, I know they'll do it very proudly, will applaud the government if they come up with increased ways for them to achieve their goals, and will hopefully represent this province and represent our country in the future in many events down the road.

[6:15 p.m.]

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a lot of pleasure to be here to talk tonight about this resolution before us. I thank the honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour for acknowledging and recognizing the young people in his area who are athletic and have won a position on the various teams for the Canada Summer Games. I thought that this was an excellent opportunity to talk about recreation and sport across Nova Scotia and in so doing, to look at some of our successes and perhaps some of the challenges that we face as a province.

Certainly one of the things that I have found since becoming an MLA and even as city councillor before was the tremendous need for facilities around our province and the need to provide the facilities that will help our young athletes succeed. There are so many that we could refer to. When facilities are built in a community it's amazing how the athletes develop and become very much winning athletes and in short order, end up representing our province provincially and nationally.

I'll just give one example. I know that quite often I've heard resolutions from the honourable member for Clare and he's mentioned racquetball on numerous occasions and he has many provincial winners in racquetball. It was of interest to me why it is that the riding of Clare has developed these wonderful players. The reason is they have the facility. Somebody had a vision, somebody had a passion for that sport, they built some courts in a couple of locations and they have some good coaches. That's why in that little corner of the province we now have our best racquetball players, they're not coming out of HRM where there are just very few facilities to play racquetball.

It's just of interest that when a community does take an interest in a particular sport, develop the facility, that we end up with really champion players. I think that there are just so many needs as I travel the province and realize that so many communities are working on recreation plans and trying to engage their community to build new facilities. I think it's so important for us as legislators, in each of our communities, to look at the needs and to maybe consider ways that the province could be more involved in helping to support the efforts of communities. Some communities are raising significant amounts of money to meet their recreational demands themselves.

[Page 7905]

When I'm thinking where my Summer cottage is in Queens County, when I spend time there in the Summer, I've read about Bridgewater working as a community to try to build an aquatic centre, a pool and other facilities. Then not too far away the Town of Liverpool has a committee working to develop a new recreation centre and trying to decide what are the best facilities they should be looking at. The challenges are many for these small communities.

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention that only a short while ago I had the opportunity to tour the Port Hawkesbury Civic Centre, I think they call it. It is really something to behold, it's about an $18 million centre and has been built under a tremendous amount of leadership from their mayor, Billy Joe MacLean. He took the time while I was travelling through to give me about a two hour tour. I was also treated to many stories of how the centre came to be and I'm sure that a couple of members that are here tonight will be able to relate to that and it was my first time in meeting the Mayor of Port Hawkesbury.

After seeing this beautiful centre and honestly feeling that this would be something so wonderful in the Clayton Park riding and in the Mainland North part of Halifax, which, believe it or not, people may not realize that we have very few facilities for an area where easily 100,000 people could access that site within 20 or 30 minute drive - we're that densely populated and centrally located that it would be a wonderful site for a rec centre. We are working in my community as well to see that happen but to see what exists in Port Hawkesbury, really I must say I was envious. I wanted to find out how they did it. What I found was a community that worked together, that worked with all politicians, regardless of their political stripes, that engaged all the public to the point that everybody contributed in some way. I was told that, if anything, the question is not who did contribute financially to the centre, the question is more who did not and why wouldn't they, because everybody has given in one way or another.

After seeing the beautiful centre and realizing that they had everything that I would possibly imagine we would need, I asked how many people live in the Town of Port Hawkesbury, and it's 4,500 people who live in that town. I had no idea. So I went a little further, how many are in the catchment area for this centre? It's only 15,000 people, and yet all of the businesses and the industry in that area supported it strongly. Again, all the political members, at every level, from municipal right through to federal, did all that they could within their own spheres to contribute to that process. Again, I think the community alone raised about $4.5 million, and that's a tremendous amount of money - even with some support from big industry, it's still a tremendous amount of money. That facility has a wonderful walking track, a brand-new ice rink for hockey, and we know that throughout the province hockey and ice time is very valued.

Another thing that's interesting as we try to look at how communities achieve that - I had an opportunity last week to speak at the UNSM Annual Conference that was held in Baddeck. In my speech, I mentioned the need across the province for recreation facilities, and

[Page 7906]

it was amazing the number of municipal leaders who came up to me afterwards and mentioned their communities and said what their challenges were. One of the problems is we have an aging infrastructure. As we often hear in this House about the aging roads or older schools, our recreation facilities that we do have are often getting older and it's a real challenge for a community to get a replacement facility; in fact in some ways I would say it is harder than it is to build something brand new, because the public feels they already have that facility in their community, and it's hard, then, to go out and get them to contribute money to replace it. When it's already there and it's already operating, it's just hard to make a case to get that amount of money.

Now in the Mainland North part of Halifax, where I am, we have an existing pool, Northcliffe Pool. Its history is that it began as an outdoor pool for the very fledgling community of Clayton Park about 30 years ago - it was just a very small community. It was built outdoors, they put a bubble over it for a number of years, which some people well remember. That bubble collapsed and then a building was built around this outdoor pool. It was never really properly constructed from the start, because of the conditions of not being designed as an indoor pool, but it has served our community.

What's interesting, though, is that in the last 15 years our population in that part of the city has probably more than doubled - I would say it's probably three times what it was. Because of that we have so many more people and the demands are very heavy on that facility. It's one of the most-used pools, and the building is in very bad shape, so it's going to be condemned in some short period of time, and the community is working hard to try to get organized to both fundraise the portion that they should contribute and to raise money by talking to other levels of government and trying to leverage money for that.

In this case - and I think this is probably not uncommon across the province - what we're finding is the municipality is willing to contribute significantly, they're giving at least $4 million towards the replacement pool, but the province and the federal government through the infrastructure program, the Nova Scotia-Canada Infrastructure Program, are giving only $1 million each. That was what was agreed upon, I guess that's the way it's done, and of course that particular project has now been exhausted. There's no more money. So we can't go back and try to increase what's there, because the pot of money that was allocated to HRM is now gone.

What we find then is that the municipality is putting a lot more funds into this than the province or the federal government. What I guess I'm suggesting is that the demands are so great and the benefits are so wonderful, when you think about the benefits of young people who have constructive things to do, who can become world-class athletes, like the young people the member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour has mentioned, when we think about the impact on our justice system and on our health and well-being, it's good for every age in our community, and it's something that we desperately need.

[Page 7907]

So I would like to suggest that all Parties should be looking seriously at ways that we can support our communities as they raise money and really confront the need for expanded recreational facilities for all ages.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The House will adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]

[Page 7908]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4264

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

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

Whereas preparing for the future requires a variety of skills and talents; and

Whereas one of the greatest skills is to be able to speak eloquently and persuasively; and

Whereas Lisa Jorgensen of Lunenburg County has demonstrated her public speaking and debating skills by becoming the 2005 Canadian Novice University Debating Champion. Lisa has debated topics ranging from historical issues to pop culture and philosophy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Lisa Jorgensen for her excellent debating skills and her new title as 2005 Canadian Novice University Debating Champion.

RESOLUTION NO. 4265

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

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

Whereas parents and schools strive to provide their children with the skills to become independent and to contribute to their community; and

Whereas many young people today are accepting and achieving that challenge in their own unique way; and

Whereas Beth Hatcher of Bridgewater, who graduates from Mt. Allison University this year, has accepted the challenge of sharing her talents with children and parents in the East African Republic of Kenya. Beth was chosen by Leaders Today to travel to Kenya with 20 other Canadian university students. Beth will help to build a school and teach children during her time in Kenya;

[Page 7909]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Beth Hatcher for her university success and for her courage and generosity as she contributes to the well-being of the children of Kenya.

RESOLUTION NO. 4266

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas on Friday, March 4, 2005, David Williams unveiled his first full CD release at the Knights of Columbus Hall, North Sydney; and

Whereas this North Sydney native began writing songs at 14 years of age and has continued to write over the past 30 years; and

Whereas David's new CD is called Forever's In a Day;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending sincere congratulations to David Williams on his new CD and wish him every success with his recording and music career.

RESOLUTION NO. 4267

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas on January 15, 2005, the Memorial High School Magic captured the Northumberland Girls Invitational Basketball Championship in a tournament in Antigonish; and

Whereas the team captured the victory by defeating the team from Antigonish, and the Tatamagouche Mustangs before clinching the championship game by defeating Dalbrae Academy; and

Whereas top scorers in the final game were Megan Dugas with 16 points, Kelly LeBlanc with 9 points, and Kayla Harrietha with 7 points while Dana Jessome was named player of the game;

[Page 7910]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending sincere congratulations to the Memorial High School Magic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4268

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas over 250 Marine Atlantic employees, family and friends gathered together for an information and support rally on January 27, 2005, at the North Sydney Firemen's Club; and

Whereas Gerald Bradbury and other concerned employees voiced concern over privatization of Marine Atlantic; and

Whereas the honourable Mark Eyking, MP announced, on behalf of federal Minister Jean-C. Lapierre, that Marine Atlantic would not be privatized;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in suggesting the decision not to privatize Marine Atlantic and ensure Nova Scotia is a fair and equal partner in the Gulf service operations.

RESOLUTION NO. 4269

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas on Tuesday, January 25, 2005, The Home Depot in Sydney held its grand opening; and

Whereas North Sydney native, Annette Verschuren, Canadian president of Home Depot was on hand for the official opening; and

Whereas The Home Depot will employ more than 130 people;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in extending congratulations to Annette Verschuren, her staff, and corporate partners at Home Depot.

[Page 7911]

RESOLUTION NO. 4270

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas on Wednesday, May 18, 2005, McDonald's restaurants across Canada will celebrate McHappy Day 2005; and

Whereas local community leaders and celebrities work alongside McDonald's crew; and

Whereas this fundraising day helps to support Canadian children in need;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending best wishes to Wayne and Gail Kenney, owner/operators of McDonald's in North Sydney, for a successful McHappy Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4271

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Energy)

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

Whereas the Department of Energy is pleased to support Techsploration, a program that increases the number of women working in science, trades, and energy-related occupations; and

Whereas the program assists young women from diverse backgrounds to learn about a wide range of careers, meet role models, and tour workplaces; and

Whereas there are many oil and gas industry participants in the program, including Anadarko Canada, ExxonMobil Canada, Maritimes & Northeast Pipelines, EnCana, Chevron Texaco, El Paso, and OTANS;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the contribution of these and other companies to this innovative program and congratulate Techsploration for its efforts to ensure there is a large and diverse skilled workforce from which businesses and organizations can hire in the future.

[Page 7912]

RESOLUTION NO. 4272

By: Mr. Stephen McNeil (Annapolis)

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

Whereas in 1996 the Canadian Coast Guard announced at a public meeting attended by tourism operators and provincial government representatives that lighthouses were soon to become redundant as navigational aids; and

Whereas in 1999 the Atlantic Lighthouse Council was formed as a partnership of tourism operators and relevant provincial and federal departments to develop a sustainable strategy to preserve lighthouses through a lighthouse trust; and

Whereas in 2003 the Atlantic Lighthouse Council proposed implementation of the said strategy which was supported by both the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia and the South Shore Lighthouse Route Tourism Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the Department of Tourism, recognizing the importance of lighthouses to the economy and well-being of all Nova Scotians, support all efforts to save Nova Scotia's lighthouses.

RESOLUTION NO. 4273

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 Rana Khouri is an exceptional volunteer who has worked to establish the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee and to organize the annual volunteer dinner; and

Whereas the committee is truly grateful to Rana for her organizational abilities, her insight and her commitment to seeing that the event is a phenomenal success; and

Whereas Rana reflects the commitment of volunteers and community workers to improve our lives and our society;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the tremendous contribution that Rana Knouri has made to the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition committee and congratulate her on the success of this wonderful community event.

RESOLUTION NO. 4274

By: Hon. James Muir (Education)

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

Whereas Hal Fowler was selected 2005 Representative Volunteer of the Year by the Village of Bible Hill and was honoured at local and provincial Volunteer of the Year award ceremonies; and

Whereas Hal Fowler has been actively involved in the Bible Hill Minor Baseball Association for eight years, including service as vice-president and president; and

Whereas Hal Fowler has also provided exemplary leadership in the scouting movement, including directing some unique fundraising events;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Hal Fowler on being named the 2005 Representative Volunteer of the Year by the Village of Bible Hill, and thank him for his extraordinary service to the youth of his community.

RESOLUTION NO. 4275

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas as well as improving local communities, volunteering can act as an effective team-building tool and help people develop new skills, and nurturing the voluntary sector is a win-win situation for the economy and individuals alike; and

Whereas without volunteers many small communities could virtually come to a grinding halt; and

Whereas the Town of Westville recently held their volunteer recognition ceremony for 2005 and honoured Mary Ellen Daley, Anna MacGrath, Chuck Roddick, Helen Connors, Peggy Stewart, Jennifer Wilson, Isabel Richardson, David Hayman, Kevin Peterson, Tim

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Chislett, Aaron Lynch, Patsy Hill, Mary Lou Conway, Gus Fahey, Erma Chenell, Joyce Gordon, Joan Watters, Leslie Heatherington, Dave Sinnis, and Doug Porter;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House applaud the tremendous volunteer efforts of the residents of the Town of Westville.

RESOLUTION NO. 4276

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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 beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley region had an exceptionally impressive display by four riders who won awards in 2004, Susanna MacDonald from Stewiacke winning the Hunter Pleasure Championship and Herman Berfelo of Stewiacke winning the Pleasure Driving Championship; and

Whereas other award winners from the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley region were Tina Porter who won the Western Pleasure Championship, and Jenna Fisher who captured the English Pleasure Championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House extend our best wishes to Susanna, Herman, Tina, and Jenna for their successful 2004 season and wish them every success in 2005 and beyond.

RESOLUTION NO. 4277

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 late last Fall the College of Family Physicians of Canada honoured Dr. Michael Cussen from the Hants Shore Health Clinic as one of Canada's top family doctors; and

Whereas the award is presented annually to doctors who provide exceptional care to their patients while making significant contributions to the health and well-being of their communities; and

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Whereas Dr. Cussen was recognized for his work in the continued development of a community health centre while focusing on health promotion, literacy programs and encouraging students and residents to consider rural family medicine as a career;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House applaud the superb work being done by Dr. Michael Cussen at the Hants Shore Health Clinic and wish him nothing but continued success.

RESOLUTION NO. 4278

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Health)

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

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University's Alumni continues to grow with the recent graduation of 945 students, building the alumni to more than 30,000 people who proudly display their famed X-Ring across Canada and around the world; and

Whereas St. F. X. University confers degrees on students in undergraduate liberal arts, sciences, business administration, nursing, information systems and music, along with diplomas in engineering, jazz studies and integrated dietetic internships, as well as master's degrees in science, education and adult education; and

Whereas St. F.X. and the Town of Antigonish are extremely confident these new graduates, who are real credits to the university which has now been ranked for the third consecutive year as the best undergraduate university in the country, will go on and carry the Xaverian banner in their future professions;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate the newest graduates of St. Francis Xavier University and wish them every success in their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4279

By: Hon. Angus MacIsaac (Health)

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's Canada Summer Games Team will have 449 members either participating or volunteering at this year's event in Regina; and

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Whereas from the announcements so far, with more to come in future days, Antigonish County has had three stellar athletes named to Nova Scotia's team; and

Whereas Chris Connor from Afton has been named to the men's softball team; Maria Konchalski of Antigonish to the women's basketball team; and Daniel Van der Linden from Antigonish to the men's soccer team;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Chris, Maria and Daniel on their selection, and wish them every success in Regina in August.

RESOLUTION NO. 4280

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

Whereas the Eastern Shore had an exceptionally impressive display by four riders, who won awards in 2004, with Jackie Merritt from Chezzetcook winning the Equitation A Flat Competition, and the Pre-Green Hunter second year division, while settling for Reserve Champion in the Children's Hunter Class; and

Whereas other award winners from the Eastern Shore were Kelsey Merritt, a winner in the Equitation B O/F, and Jessie Chisholm, also of Chezzetcook, who captured Reserve Champion status in the first year of Pre-Green Hunter;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4281

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 for 42 years, the 2741 Eastern Marine Royal Canadian Army Cadets Corps has trained cadets in marksmanship, biathlon, orienteering and other skills; and

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Whereas the corps held its annual Ceremonial Review on May 15th, where many awards were presented to dedicated and hard-working young people for a variety of skills and achievements; and

Whereas this year's annual Ceremonial Review was dedicated in memory of MWO Todd Calvert and WO Darlene Dunphy, the two young cadets who recently lost their lives in a tragic motor vehicle accident;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the award recipients at the 42nd Annual Ceremonial Review of the 2741 Eastern Marine Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps.

RESOLUTION NO. 4282

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 Rana Khouri is an exceptional volunteer who has worked to establish the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee, and to organize the annual Volunteer Dinner; and

Whereas the committee is truly grateful to Rana for her organizational abilities, her insight and her commitment to seeing that the event is a phenomenal success; and

Whereas Rana reflects the commitment of volunteers and community workers to improve our lives and our society;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the tremendous contribution that Rana Khouri has made to the Halifax Mainland North Volunteer Recognition Committee, and congratulate her on the success of this wonderful community event.

RESOLUTION NO. 4283

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 beginning school is a big step in every child's life, and it is important to ensure that this transition is smooth and successful for all parents and students; and

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Whereas welcoming students to Grade Primary within the Halifax Regional School Board has become a little easier with the creation of a new information package; and

Whereas this resource package was developed to support greater parental involvement which has a direct positive impact on student success;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the many dedicated and hard-working staff of the Halifax Regional School Board who prepared this information for parents of children attending Grade Primary in the Fall.

RESOLUTION NO. 4284

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 Nova Scotia's Canada Summer Games Team will have 449 members either participating or volunteering at this year's event in Regina; and

Whereas from the announcements so far, with more to come in future days, Kings South has four stellar athletes named to Nova Scotia's team; and

Whereas Andrew Dalziel from New Minas, Keith MacMillan from Coldbrook, and Izak Lawrence of Avonport have all been named members of the men's soccer team, while Emma Duinker from Cambridge Station has been selected to play for Nova Scotia's women's basketball team;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly congratulate Andrew, Keith, Izak and Emma on their selection, and with them every success in Regina in August.