Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-105

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

First Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Nat. Res./Environ.& Lbr.: Nictaux River Tract -
Road Build./Logging Cease, Mr. S. McNeil 9559
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
N.S. Career Guide for Students & Parents - 2005-06,
Hon. J. Muir 9562
Knowledge Economy Report Card,
Hon. E. Fage 9562
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Gov't. (N.S.): Sysco Closure - Pension Agreement,
Mr. G. Gosse 9563
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Seniors' Secretariat - Elder Abuse Strategy,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 9563
Justice: Maritime Secular Legal Network Assn. - Faith-Based
Arbitration, Hon. M. Baker 9565
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 5131, TCH - TIAC Awards: Recipients - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 9567
Vote - Affirmative 9567
Res. 5132, Donnelly, Mary Lou/Gillis, Angela/Hamilton-Hinch, Barbara -
Women of Excellence Awards, Hon. J. Muir 9567
Vote - Affirmative 9568
Res. 5133, Czapalay, Ava - EduNova: Pres. - Appt.,
Hon. E. Fage 9569
Vote - Affirmative 9569
Res. 5134, Energy - Commun. Energy Proj.: Partners - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 9570
Vote - Affirmative 9570
Res. 5135, Ducks Unlimited Can. - Tourism Ind.: Importance -
Recognize, Hon. R. Hurlburt 9571
Vote - Affirmative 9572
Res. 5136, Kingstec: Campus Re-opening - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 9572
Vote - Affirmative 9572
Res. 5137, Hum. Res.: Take Our Kids to Work Day Prog. -
Support, Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 9573
Vote - Affirmative 9573
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 276, Insurance Act
Mr. D. Dexter 9573
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 5138, Take Our Kids to Work Day: Benefits - Recognize,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9574
Vote - Affirmative 9574
Res. 5139, Diabetes Awareness Mo. (11/05) - Recognize,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 9574
Res. 5140, Sutherland, Rev. Donald - Scot of the Yr. Award,
The Premier 9575
Vote - Affirmative 9576
Res. 5141, Cornwallis Military Museum Soc.: Facilities -
Support, Mr. Kevin Deveaux 9576
Vote - Affirmative 9577
Res. 5142, E. Preston Senior Citizens Club - Anniv. (15th),
Mr. K. Colwell 9577
Res. 5143, Leopold, Randall: New Ross Dist. Youth Soccer Assoc. -
Commitment, Ms. J. Streatch 9577
Vote - Affirmative 9578
Res. 5144, Cole Hbr. Heritage Farm Museum: Supporters - Thank,
Ms. J. Massey 9578
Vote - Affirmative 9579
Res. 5145, Comeau, Tonya - Status of Women Award (2005),
Mr. H. Theriault 9579
Vote - Affirmative 9580
Res. 5146, Horton, Bayne - Cdn. Securities Administrators Award,
Mr. R. Chisholm 9580
Vote - Affirmative 9580
Res. 5147, CFB Hfx. Curling Club - Pembina Jr. Curlers Assoc.:
Hosting - Welcome, Mr. H. Epstein 9581
Vote - Affirmative 9582
Res. 5148, Boularderie Commun. Crime Prevention Strategy:
Participants - Congrats., Mr. Gerald Sampson 9582
Vote - Affirmative 9583
Res. 5149, Snelson, David: Capilano Homeowners Assoc. -
Cleanup, Mr. G. Hines 9583
Vote - Affirmative 9583
Res. 5150, Lighthouse Acquisitions - Gov't. (N.S.): Decision -
Make, Ms. M. Raymond 9584
Res. 5151, Bridgetown Lions Club - Anniv. (50th),
Mr. S. McNeil 9584
Vote - Affirmative 9585
Res. 5152, Nat'l. Inquiry Prevention Campaign: Truro/IBC -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 9585
Vote - Affirmative 9586
Res. 5153, Crawley, Jane: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. G. Gosse 9586
Vote - Affirmative 9587
Res. 5154, East Preston Seniors Club - Anniv. (15th),
Mr. K. Colwell 9587
Vote - Affirmative 9587
Res. 5155, Warren Baptist Church - Anniv. (150th),
Hon. E. Fage 9588
Vote - Affirmative 9589
Res. 5156, Louisbourg FD/Chief - Commun. Ctr./FD: Construction -
Congrats., Mr. R. MacKinnon 9589
Vote - Affirmative 9589
Res. 5157, Carver, Sandra - Literacy Vol. Award,
Hon. K. Morash 9590
Vote - Affirmative 9590
Res. 5158, Hebbville Acad. - Boys Soccer Team: Championship -
Congrats., Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 9590
Vote - Affirmative 9591
Res. 5159, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley MLA: Election -
Anniv. (12th), Hon. R. Russell 9591
Vote - Affirmative 9592
Res. 5160, Recreation N.S. Mayflower Commun. Co-Operative Award:
Recipients - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 9592
Vote - Affirmative 9593
Res. 5161, Nova Automotive - Anniv. (40th),
Hon. B. Barnet 9593
Vote - Affirmative 9594
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1074, Energy - RCL: Energy Costs - Effects,
Mr. D. Dexter 9594
No. 1075, Nat. Res. - ATVs: Age Restrictions - Implement,
Mr. L. Glavine 9595
No. 1076, Health - Cole's Fam. Care Home: Workers - Payment,
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 9597
No. 1077, Health - Wait Times: Crisis Resolve,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 9598^^
No. 1078, Justice - Liberal Trust Funds: Action - Details,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9599
No. 1079, Hum. Res.: Whistleblower Legislation - Introduce,
Mr. G. Gosse 9600
No. 1080, Agric. & Fish. - Pork Producers: Assistance - Strategy,
Mr. S. McNeil 9601
No. 1081, Com. Serv. - Daycares/Preschools: Heating Costs -
Assistance, Ms. M. More 9602
No. 1082, Com. Serv. - Early Childhood Educ.: Turnover -
Action, Ms. M. More 9604
No. 1083, TPW - Capt. LeBlanc (Englishtown): Inquiry - Length,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 9605
No. 1084, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Coastal Access - Ensure,
Mr. G. Steele 9606
No. 1085, Educ. - N.S. Schools: Nutrition Policy - Consideration,
Mr. S. McNeil 9607
No. 1086, Justice - FOIPOP: Review Officer - Vacancy,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9609
No. 1087, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - CBRM: Equalization Fund -
Fairness, Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 9610
No. 1088, Com. Serv. - Cole Hbr. Rehabilitation Ctr.: Young Men -
Relocation Details, Mr. F. Corbett 9611
No. 1089, Econ. Dev. - CBRM: Garbage Transport - Discussions,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9613
No. 1090, Com. Serv.: Juniper House/CASA - Merger,
Mr. H. Theriault 9614
No. 1091, Health - Cumb. Co.: Occupational Therapy -
Accessibility, Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 9615
No. 1092, Energy - NSP Rate Increase: Min. Prevention -
Details, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9616
No. 1093, Agric. & Fish. - Seismic Testing: C.B. Fishermen -
Protection, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9617
No. 1094, Agric. & Fish. - Pork N.S.: Min. Decision,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9618
No. 1095, Health Prom. - Munro Crafters Guild: Ins. - Assist.,
Mr. Gerald Sampson 9620
No. 1096, TPW - Four-Wheel Drive Truck: Hants East - Acquire,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9621
No. 1097, Health Prom.: Youth - Physical Fitness,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9623
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 269, Off-highway Vehicles Act 9624
Mr. L. Glavine 9624
Mr. B. Taylor 9626
Mr. W. Dooks 9630
Mr. J. MacDonell 9631
Mr. K. Colwell 9635
Hon. R. Hurlburt 9638
No. 227, Public Utilities Act 9639
Mr. Manning MacDonald 9639
Hon. C. Clarke 9641
Mr. F. Corbett 9643
Mr. K. Colwell 9645
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 9648
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. R. Russell 9648
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Energy: Efficiency/Conservation - Importance,
Hon. C. Clarke 9649
Mr. H. Epstein 9652
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 3rd at 2:00 p.m. 9655
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 5162, Yarmouth CC: Accreditation - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 9656
Res. 5163, Collins, Robbie: Golf Title - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 9656
Res. 5164, Yarmouth Learning Network: "Going to Sea" Prog. -
Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 9657
Res. 5165, Ruff, Eric - Yarmouth Co. Museums: Service -
Congrats., Hon. R. Hurlburt 9657
Res. 5166, McCarron, Deanna - Kidzact: Init. Commend,
Hon. R. Hurlburt 9658
Res. 5167, Gov't. (N.S.) - Organ Donations: Depts. - Encourage,
Mr. L. Glavine 9658
Res. 5168, Parker Gen. Store/Parker, Vilda - Anniv.
(100th)/Birthday (80th), Mr. L. Glavine 9659
Res. 5169, Jubilee Elem. Sch./Principal: Walk to Sch. Day -
Congrats., Mr. Gerald Sampson 9659
Res. 5170, Dr. John C. Wickwire Acad. - Terry Fox Run:
Students/Staff - Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9660
Res. 5171, Liverpool HS - Terry Fox Run:
Students/Staff - Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9660
Res. 5172, Milton Centennial Sch. - Terry Fox Run: Students/Staff -
Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9661
Res. 5173, Mill Village Cons. Elem. Sch. - Terry Fox Run:
Students/Staff - Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9661
Res. 5174, S. Queens JHS - Terry Fox Run: Students/Staff -
Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9662
Res. 5175, Greenfield Elem. Sch. - Terry Fox Run:
Students/Staff - Fundraising, Hon. K. Morash 9662
Res. 5176, Daury, Betty Ann: Special Olympics - Contribution,
Hon. K. Morash 9663
Res. 5177, Bennett, Jade - Country Singing Award,
Hon. K. Morash 9663
Res. 5178, Rushton, Tim - Bubbles & Blades: Bus. - Opening,
The Speaker 9664
Res. 5179, Pettigrew, Ted & Pat - Foster Children: Efforts -
Thank, The Speaker, 9664
Res. 5180, Oxford RCMP - Oxford Area Lions Club: Donation -
Thank, The Speaker 9665
Res. 5181, Cumb. Commun. College: Food Drive - Congrats.,
The Speaker 9665
Res. 5182, Cumb. Co. Women's Hockey Team - Championship,
The Speaker 9666

[Page 9559]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 2, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. James DeWolfe, Mr. Charles Parker, Ms. Diana Whalen

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

Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge that energy efficiency and conservation are vital to Nova Scotia's future.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition. The operative clause reads:

9559

[Page 9560]

"WE THE UNDERSIGNED call on the Premier of Nova Scotia to: � immediately suspend plans for road building and logging on Crown lands in the 'Nictaux River tract'; and

� designate the 'Nictaux River tract' under the Wilderness Areas Protection Act; and

� direct the Departments of Natural Resources and Environment to negotiate future land uses on Crown lands elsewhere in the watershed with the community and other stakeholders in an open and transparent planning process."

Mr. Speaker, there are 1,053 signatures on the petition and I have affixed mine.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

I would like to bring to the attention of the honourable members some special guests in the Speaker's Gallery today. We have someone who is known to everyone in this House, Mr. Gordon Hebb, Chief Legislative Counsel. Accompanying Gordon today is his 14-year-old daughter, Rebecca Hebb who is in Grade 9. She is shadowing Mr. Hebb today and we would ask the House to give both of them a warm welcome, please. (Applause) You are certainly welcome to the gallery today.

We also would like to welcome Mr. James MacInnes, Coordinator of Legislative Television. He is in the Speaker's Gallery today with his son, Fraser, who is in Grade 9 and he is shadowing Jim today. We would ask him to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House, too, please. (Applause)

We hope both of our guests enjoy today's proceedings.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage on an introduction.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, there is another staff member from Hansard, Michele Simpson, who is also in the Speaker's Gallery with her daughter, Stephanie. They are from my constituency and they are here today as part of Take Our Kids to Work Day. I wanted to recognize them, if they would stand, please, and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. We certainly welcome all our special guests to the gallery today. Any further introductions?

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 9561]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am also very pleased to introduce a young man, a Grade 9 student from Eastern Shore District High, who lives in Ship Harbour. George Stairs, would you please stand. George is here today job shadowing me with aspirations to be a provincial representative in the future. I would like to ask you to welcome him here today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome George to the gallery today, and wish him all the best in the future.

The honourable member for Hants East an on introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, in the east gallery, there are two distinguished gentlemen who are not strangers to the House; Henry Vissers and Herman Berfelo from Pork Nova Scotia are here to observe the exercise here today. (Applause)

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

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

MS. JUDY STREATCH: Mr. Speaker, it's my privilege to rise this afternoon and welcome four very special individuals to the House. I'll begin with the one who is nearest and dearest to my heart; my 14-year-old son, Jordan, is here today. Jordan, I'd ask that you rise. If Jordan spends as much time in the gallery as I did as a young individual, perhaps someday he'll see himself down on the floor of this House, as well. (Applause)

I'd also like to draw to the attention of honourable members, Mr. Speaker, the attendance of Andrew Keddy, Joan Gregory and Bill Martin, who are here with us today. Andrew and Joan are in the east gallery, and Bill is in the Speaker's Gallery. I would ask you to rise and receive the warm welcome of this House. Fine constituents of Chester-St. Margaret's. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly want to welcome all of those special guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings. It's quite a day we're having.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, more special guests in the gallery. In the gallery opposite, I would like to introduce to members my son, Kyle Barnet - he goes to Sackville Heights Junior High School, and he's in Grade 9 - and my nephew, Jordie Fancey of Berwick Consolidated School in the Valley. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome these guests to the gallery, as well.

[Page 9562]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in advance of tabling that report, with your permission, I would also like to make an introduction. I would like to welcome to our east gallery a group of Grade 9 students who are joining us at the Department of Education today as part of Take Our Kids to Work Day. They are Hilary Blackler, Kenny Murphy, Melanie Rudderham and Adrienne Kenny. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to say that these students are performing double duty, because they're taking part in a focus group for the Department of Education's new Career Options Web site. They also received copies of the new career guide for Grade 9 students, which includes tips for researching, planning and finding a job in this province. Grade 9 students across the province will receive the career guide this week.

Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I beg leave to table the new Nova Scotia Career Guide for Students and Parents for 2005-06.

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

The paper is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to officially table the Knowledge Economy Report Card from NovaKnowledge, entitled The Environmental Economy, Seizing Opportunities.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

If there are no further reports, regulations and other papers, there is a request to revert to Presenting and Reading Petitions.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9563]

[2:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition on behalf of the Sydney steelworkers concerning their pension. The operative clause reads as follows:

"We petition the Government of Nova Scotia to negotiate a pension agreement to finally end the closure of SYSCO."

I have affixed my name to this petition.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

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

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, it gives me a great deal of pleasure to draw to your attention and the attention of all members of the House, in the east gallery, a young lady by the name of Courtney Newton who is the daughter of one of our clerical workers over at the caucus office, Annette Newton. Courtney is a student at Gaetz Brook Junior High School. I would ask Courtney and her mom, Annette, to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome these guests to the gallery as well. I hope they enjoy the proceedings.

Any further introductions?

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, this morning I took part in Nova Scotia's first-ever Elder Abuse Awareness Day.

Elder abuse is an issue that is of great concern to many Nova Scotians and yet it is an issue that is not often talked about. With the leadership of the Nova Scotia Senior Citizens' Secretariat, individuals and organizations have been coming together to address this important issue, and today they will continue that important dialogue.

[Page 9564]

I am especially pleased today to release the Nova Scotia Elder Abuse Strategy entitled Towards Awareness and Prevention. I have copies for members of the House.

The Nova Scotia Elder Abuse Strategy is a product of the hard work of numerous individuals and organizations who have worked with the Secretariat to outline the priorities for addressing the issue of elder abuse in Nova Scotia. This strategy will lead to the collective efforts of government, seniors, and our many community partners as we take action to preserve the health, dignity and quality of life of seniors.

We must work together in Nova Scotia to make sure seniors feel safe in their homes and communities. Seniors deserve to live in a province where they can be confident that its society will not tolerate any form of elder abuse. Every Nova Scotian deserves to be safe from harm by those who live with them, care for them, or are in day-to-day contact with them. We all have the right to be in control of decisions that affect us and to be treated with respect and dignity. Elder abuse of any kind is unacceptable.

As a government and as communities we share a responsibility to provide seniors with the information they need to protect themselves from abuse, and offer protection to those who are most vulnerable. Raising public awareness is key to addressing elder abuse. In Nova Scotia we must create an environment where this complex and difficult issue is openly discussed. We need to change attitudes and behaviours and help victims come forward.

When they do extend their hand for support, we must ensure that help is there for them. Our government is committed to addressing elder abuse. In the months ahead we intend to proclaim the Protection for Persons in Care Act and introduce changes to the Adult Protection Act - two pieces of legislation that play an important part in preventing and responding to the abuse of elder adults in Nova Scotia.

Support for seniors has always been and continues to be a priority for our government. Thank you.

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I was very pleased this morning to have the opportunity to fill in for my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, at the opening of the Elder Abuse Awareness Day Forum, which was held in my constituency. Many of those involved in the initiative are former colleagues of mine and I sincerely thank them for their work and interest in moving this issue forward. My caucus is especially delighted that the Protection for Persons in Care Act introduced by the member for Halifax Needham will be proclaimed soon and it was interesting to see that it will be a centrepiece of the strategy and it shows the NDP's continuing work on the quality and safety of life for vulnerable Nova Scotians.

[Page 9565]

I look forward to seeing what resources the government commits to this strategy, for example, fast-tracking the 1-800 information and referral line with a live operator at the other end must be a high priority in the early phases of this strategy. The annual Awareness Day will give all of us an opportunity to check in on the progress of the Elder Abuse Strategy, so I want to congratulate on behalf of my caucus, the Senior Citizens' Secretariat for taking the lead and also for involving an extensive number of community organizations and provincial groups in developing the strategy and also in the future delivery of it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to respond to the ministerial statement brought forward today with respect to elder abuse. The minister is correct in one point, elder abuse of any kind is unacceptable. All of us in this House and outside this House must play a role in ensuring that elder abuse is openly discussed and addressed. Several years ago child abuse was never mentioned in the Legislature, until a former MLA for Dartmouth East passionately brought the issue to this floor. It is now time for a frank discussion and concrete action on the issue of eradicating elder abuse in our province.

While a strategy is an important step, like all good strategies and plans, government needs to listen to the strategy and provide the resources to implement said strategy. Only when resources are made available can this government claim they are addressing the issue of elder abuse. This strategy cannot gather dust on the shelf like so many other reports and strategies developed as a result of consultation. The resources needed to implement the strategy are what is required. I thank the minister for his statement today and I look forward to reviewing this strategy in more detail and working with him to ensure that our seniors feel safe.

MR. SPEAKER: Any further statements by ministers?

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I have a brief statement to advise members of a meeting held recently with the Maritime Secular Legal Network Association. The association had expressed concern about recent events in Ontario. In that province there has been considerable controversy over the issue of faith-based arbitration in family matters. In Ontario, the law currently gives people an option to use voluntary faith-based arbitration. However, the Ontario Government has recently announced that it intends to prohibit the use of faith-based arbitration to resolve family law matters. All of our citizens need to be assured of the guarantees of equality contained within the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. In very difficult family situations, in particular, we need to be assured that settlements respect the rights of all of those involved. We believe that all binding decisions in family law must be consistent with the laws of Canada and of Nova Scotia.

[Page 9566]

I have therefore asked my staff to consider whether any amendments are needed to the laws of this province to ensure that faith-based arbitration cannot be used to prejudice the rights of anyone involved in family law matters. If so, I will be pleased to bring those amendments forward at the earliest opportunity. I know that the Uniform Law Conference of Canada is studying this particular issue and it is expected to issue a report next Summer with recommendations for legislative change. We will certainly want to take advantage of the research and discussion that is taking place at a national level in looking at any possible legislative initiative. I will have staff provide a copy of today's Hansard to the Maritime Secular Legal Network Association so its members can have the formal record of my statement and the comments of members opposite.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, briefly in response to the minister, I appreciate the statement. I think it will do a lot with regard to resolving any issues people have. It is important that the Charter of Rights and the laws of Nova Scotia and Canada, with regard to our pluralistic society and our democratic values, be reflected in any decisions made with regard to how we mediate and deal with family law matters particularly.

I do want to say in the past year I've had opportunities to do some travelling to some places where it is - Islamic countries. It has been very interesting to see that the Koran, which obviously was the beginning of where this all started in Ontario, it's not so black and white. The issue is not necessarily as clear-cut as it may be perceived by us in the West. There are certain values that are promoted in the Koran that may be different than ours, but not necessarily violate our democratic or Charter of Rights activities.

Mr. Speaker, I will be very interested to see how this process follows in the next year and how we're able to reflect in a multi-cultural society the religious beliefs of our citizens while at the same time respecting the Charter of Rights.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our Justice Critic, I want to thank the minister for an advance copy of his statement. It's important that laws in Canada are uniform and are applied equally to all citizens. Now, we agree with that principle. Of course, any changes to law will be considered by this House so I thank the minister for telling us what is being worked on by his staff with regard to religious arbitration.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[Page 9567]

RESOLUTION NO. 5131

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

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Canada's National Awards for Tourism Excellence recognize businesses and individuals from across the country for their outstanding contributions to the Canadian tourism industry; and

Whereas the Tourism Industry Association of Canada presented the 2005 National Awards for Tourism Excellence at Canada's Tourism Leadership Summit in Quebec City on October 24, 2005; and

Whereas Rodd Hotels & Resorts, which has properties in Nova Scotia, won the Business of the Year Award; and Kirsten Godbout of the Prince George Hotel, in Halifax, was a finalist for the Volunteer of the Year Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate the award winners and finalists for their efforts in promoting the province and contributing to the success of the tourism industry 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.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 5132

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

[Page 9568]

Whereas Mary-Lou Donnelly, Angela Gillis and Barbara Hamilton-Hinch have been named 2005 Women of Excellence in the education and research sector by the Canadian Progress Club from Halifax Cornwallis; and

Whereas Mary-Lou Donnelly, president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, is the fifth woman to head the 10,500 members of the NSTU and Angela Gillis is a published author, a professor of nursing and past chairwoman of St. FX's School of Nursing, and an adjunct professor at Dalhousie University's School of Nursing; and

Whereas Barbara Hamilton-Hinch is a Black student advisor at Dalhousie University and a part-time health educator who endeavours to lead a delegation of African-Nova Scotian students to Africa every two years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Mary-Lou Donnelly, Angela Gillis and Barbara Hamilton-Hinch on being named the 2005 Women of Excellence in the education and research sector by the Canadian Progress Club of Halifax-Cornwallis.

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 Minister of Justice on an introduction.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I, too, have a special introduction I would like to do today. In the gallery opposite there is a student who is here as part of the Take Our Kids to Work Day program. That young man is a 14-year-old student at Bridgewater High School, Alexander Edgar Gilbert Baker. Mr. Baker is the son of Peter and Paula Baker of Lunenburg and is my nephew, and I would ask Alex to stand and get the greeting of the House. (Applause)

[Page 9569]

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome Mr. Baker to the gallery today and hope he enjoys the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 5133

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has always been a leader in international education; and

Whereas EduNova - Nova Scotia's Education Export Alliance - has recently been established to position our province as the destination of choice for international students and educational organizations abroad; and

Whereas Ava Czapalay, who has 20 years of international education marketing and trade experience, has just been appointed as president of EduNova;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Ms. Czapalay and wishing EduNova all the best as it works to enhance Nova Scotia's reputation as Canada's education province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member who rose to his feet. For all members, I would like to draw their attention to the east gallery for some of my constituents who are here again today: Sherry Wright and Alan O'Leary who work at National Gypsum and for the first time in the House, Bob and Pat Brightman, also from National Gypsum. I would like the members to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

[Page 9570]

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome these folks to the gallery as well.

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 5134

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality and the Department of Energy signed an MOU on August 17, 2005 with Dalhousie University, Saint Mary's University and the Capital District Health Authority to advance the next phase of the Community Energy Project; and

Whereas this project will involve the construction of a natural gas-fired combined heat and electrical power plant on the Halifax peninsula where waste energy from the plant will be used to provide heat to universities and hospitals through an underground distribution system; and

Whereas the Department of Energy is pleased to support the Community Energy Project which would make use of a cleaner energy source and is expected to reduce greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide by 120,000 tons annually;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the partners of the district heating project for working together to address important energy security issues for the benefit of all residents and visitors to Halifax peninsula.

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.

[Page 9571]

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: I would like to introduce in the east gallery my son, Ryan Getson, who is here today job shadowing me. If the House would extend a warm welcome to him in the east gallery. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Ryan to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 5135

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

Whereas the province operates the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park which provides a wide range of outdoor recreational and educational opportunities for Nova Scotians and visitors, and Ducks Unlimited Canada have a mandate and a mission to conserve wetlands and associated habitats for the benefit of waterfowl, wildlife and people; and

Whereas Ducks Unlimited and the province have entered into a co-operative venture which will provide a new educational interpretive centre and upgraded marsh to enhance public awareness of wetland habitats and waterfowl; and

Whereas Ducks Unlimited Greenwing Legacy Marsh and the Greenwing Legacy Interpretive Centre are a good fit with the province's plans to provide for trails and interpretive signs on the St. Andrew's marsh which connects to the Shubenacadie Wildlife Park;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ducks Unlimited Canada for their commitment to wetland habitat conservation and education, and recognize the importance of Ducks Unlimited to Nova Scotia's tourism industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 9572]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 5136

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College Kingstec Campus is today celebrating its grand reopening as part of this government's $123 million investment to expand the community college system in our province; and

Whereas the new and improved Kingstec Campus means more students can access state-of-the-art facilities, including a new student common area, IT lab, library, business centre, and classrooms to make the campus competitive with almost any other post-secondary institution in the country; and

Whereas the new horticultural facilities that will enable students to train for jobs in the Valley's agricultural industry is an example of the partnership between the NSCC Kingstec Campus and the community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and extend best wishes to the NSCC staff and students of the Kingstec Campus.

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.

[Page 9573]

RESOLUTION NO. 5137

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 Grade 9 students from across Canada are participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day and are spending today at work with a parent or host where they begin to develop an understanding of the world of work, learn about the range of career options available, and start to develop the skills required to succeed in the working world; and

Whereas students of this age group generally have limited access to workplaces; and

Whereas having students visit government departments gives us the opportunity to showcase government as one that is committed to the education of young people, our future employees, and acknowledges and supports our employees' role as parents;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in supporting and encouraging departmental participation in this valuable life experience program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 276 - Entitled an Act to Amend 231 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Insurance Act. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

[Page 9574]

RESOLUTION NO. 5138

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

Whereas today is Take Our Kids to Work Day, in which Grade 9 students throughout Nova Scotia attend work with a parent; and

Whereas Take Our Kids to Work Day is an excellent opportunity for our youth to consider which career path to take as they proceed with their education; and

Whereas Take Our Kids to Work Day is an important form of vocational education;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the benefit of Take Our Kids to Work Day and congratulate all the schools, parents and youth who are participating in this important program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 5139

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

Whereas November is Diabetes Awareness Month, highlighted by November 14th in particular, the birthday of Dr. Frederick Banting, co-discoverer of insulin; and

Whereas more than 2 million Canadians are affected with diabetes, and this number is expected to increase considerably in the future; and

[Page 9575]

Whereas the Canadian Diabetes Association urges everyone to join the battle against diabetes, one of the leading causes of death in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly work to provide proper care to those afflicted with this disease, and acknowledge the difficult tasks faced by those who help to eradicate diabetes.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 5140

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

Whereas each year, the Federation of Scottish Clans in Nova Scotia presents one deserving individual with the Scot of the Year Award; and

Whereas this year, the award was presented to someone who heralds his Scottish ancestry and will certainly cherish this award, the Reverend Donald Sutherland; and

Whereas keeping it all in the clan, the award was presented by federation President Bill Sutherland, with piper Margaret Sutherland of the Heatherbells Pipe and Drum Band on hand to add to the ceremony's Scottish flavour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate the Reverend Donald Sutherland of Pictou County who, while on this occasion is being celebrated for his love of his Scottish heritage, is also a beloved friend to many throughout Nova Scotia, especially in the northern region and in Cape Breton, for his many kindnesses, his laughter and his lifetime commitment to the ministry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9576]

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. 5141

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

Whereas the Cornwallis Military Museum is the largest military museum in the province outside of metro Halifax; and

Whereas the museum pays tribute to the many thousands of soldiers who were staged in the area before being sent to war in Europe; and

Whereas the museum, which acts as a significant tourist draw for the area, has received no financial assistance from this government;

Therefore be it resolved that this government use the opportunity presented in this, the Year of the Veteran, to support the many community-based military heritage facilities in Nova Scotia, like the Cornwallis Military Museum.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 9577]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 5142

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

Whereas the East Preston Senior Citizens Club was formed in 1990 and currently has an enrolment of 35 members; and

Whereas the club successfully organizes and promotes events and programs to enhance the lives of seniors in the community; and

Whereas the club will hold their 15th Anniversary banquet on November 12, 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate the East Preston Senior Citizens Club on their anniversary, and honour their commitment to the seniors of our community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 5143

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

Whereas after four years of committed service to the New Ross District Youth Soccer Association, Randall Leopold is leaving his position as president; and

[Page 9578]

Whereas this program would not be what it is today if it weren't for Randall Leopold's dedication and hard work; and

Whereas Randall Leopold was not only a great leader, he inspired coaches, players and families, including my four children - one of whom is with us here today - who were positively influenced by his direction and leadership. He also created a Web site dedicated to expanding the program each year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank Randall Leopold for his commitment and dedication to the New Ross District Youth Soccer Association and wish him all the best in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 5144

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

Whereas the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum is a treasure in our city which was created in 1973, in a place that I have certainly frequented with my children when they were young; and

Whereas children and adults who visit the farm can walk about freely and see chickens, ducks, sheep and calves in the barn or in the fields; and

Whereas people also have an opportunity to visit the other buildings on site, such as the blacksmith shop, the crib barn and the Giles House, which was built in the late 1700s, or stop for a cup of tea and enjoy the scones with jam and cream at the Rose and Kettle Tearoom;

[Page 9579]

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature thank the Cole Harbour Rural Heritage Society and the community for outstanding volunteer work and support which allows the Cole Harbour Heritage Farm Museum to thrive in the midst of our city.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Digby-Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 5145

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

Whereas to mark Women's History Month, the Women's Place Resource Centre of Cornwallis Park, Nova Scotia, and the Nova Scotia Advisory Council on the Status of Women have given an award to a woman, in recognition of a lifetime of experience; and

Whereas the 2005 award was given to St. Mary's Bay Academy teacher Tonya Comeau; and

Whereas Ms. Comeau is a science, math and physically-active lifestyles teacher, as well as an award-winning coach;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ms. Comeau for receiving this award and honour her lifetime of community service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9580]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable member for Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 5146

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

Whereas Bayne Horton of Port Bickerton, Guysborough County placed second this Summer in a nationwide competition for a video which he did supporting the benefits of budgeting, saving and investing; and

Whereas Bayne was the Nova Scotia winner of a contest entitled Test Your Financial IQ organized by the Canadian Securities Administrators; and

Whereas Bayne's video showed two young men talking about whether they should spend all of their paycheques, or save some for financial commitments, investing while leaving some for spending money as well;

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge Port Bickerton's Bayne Horton for his second-place national championship placing and encourage more students to participate in the 2006 contest.

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 9581]

The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would turn the attention of the members of the House to the east gallery, where we are joined by 28 students from CEC in Truro.

AN HON. MEMBER: Best high school in Nova Scotia.

MR. MUIR: Yes, thank you, I agree with that, the best high school in Nova Scotia.

The students are accompanied by Peter Keaveney, Troy Pace, Patti Cook, and Robert Langille who, I might add, is here to job shadow his dad - the member for Colchester North - each year Mr. Langille and his colleagues bring a group of students to our House, and we're delighted to welcome them back again. I hope you enjoy the proceedings and I would ask you to stand and receive our warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Some of those members in the west gallery, as well, we certainly hope they enjoy the proceedings and I hope Mr. Langille will learn something from his dad today, while watching him.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 5147

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

Whereas from December 5 until December 15, 2005, the CFB Halifax Junior Curlers, a group of 28 young curlers from Halifax, will host 25 fellow curlers of the Pembina Junior Curlers Association from Winnipeg; and

Whereas funding for this sport exchange was provided in part through the Canada Sports Friendship Exchange Program and an extensive community fundraising effort by parents, players and coaches of these two groups; and

Whereas as ambassadors for the Province of Nova Scotia, the CFB Halifax Junior Curlers will be taking their guests to such sites as the Citadel, the Maritime Museum, the Art Gallery of Nova Scotia and Peggy's Cove in order to give them a tour of Halifax and area;

Therefore be it resolved that this House bid welcome to the young curlers from Manitoba, and congratulate their young hosts from CFB Halifax Curling Club on the tremendous plans they have put in place to make their visitors' stay in Nova Scotia memorable.

[Page 9582]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 5148

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

Whereas the Boularderie Community RCMP policing office, the Boularderie Elementary School, the Boularderie CAP Site - a division of Victoria CAP Sites Association - and District Five Action Committee have become partners in a joint application; and

Whereas the above-named partners have been successful in their application to the National Crime Prevention Strategy Community Mobilization Program; and

Whereas this intergenerational project - affecting residents from pre-school to seniors, in promoting community relations and safety - will employ three people;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the RCMP, the volunteers of the Boularderie Community RCMP policing office, the Boularderie Elementary School, the Boularderie CAP site, and the volunteers on the District Five Action Committee for creating a successful partnership for the betterment of the community of Boularderie and the residents in general.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9583]

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 5149

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

Whereas the Capilano Home Owners Association believes strongly in a clean environment and a clean neighbourhood; and

Whereas rain or shine, the coordinator of the Capilano Home Owners Association, David Snelson, and his group of homeowners participated in a cleanup project earlier this Summer which continues to keep their area at the top of the clean neighbourhoods in Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank; and

Whereas David's leadership on such an important issue should not be overlooked by anyone because of the great job done by the Capilano Home Owners Association;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the perseverance and faithfulness of David Snelson and the Capilano Home Owners Association in taking such great pride in the cleanliness of their neighbourhood.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 9584]

RESOLUTION NO. 5150

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

Whereas the Canadian Government is divesting itself of its distinctive lighthouses around the coast of Nova Scotia, as no longer useful navigation aids; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government was offered a menu of lighthouses to choose from more than two years ago, but has yet to make its decision; and

Whereas these valuable heritage assets are vulnerable and decaying while the provincial government plays dog in the manger, refusing to refuse or accept the lighthouses so they can be offered to functional owners;

Therefore be it resolved that this House require Cabinet to make a decision for once and for all whether or not to acquire lighthouses and to convey the decision to the federal government within the next six weeks, so that lighthouses can be preserved and those living on lighthouse access roads are no longer held hostage to indecision.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 5151

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

Whereas the Bridgetown Lions Club is celebrating 50 years of serving the citizens of Bridgetown and surrounding communities, with such projects as the building of the youth arena, the swimming pool and many more significant projects benefiting the community at large; and

[Page 9585]

Whereas the Bridgetown Lions Club is one of the oldest clubs in the Valley and a member of Lions International, the world's largest service club, serving thousands of communities in over 150 countries around the world; and

Whereas members of this great service club, both past and present, have a great deal to be proud of in the service of the youth and citizens of Bridgetown and surrounding area;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the hard work and efforts shown by the Bridgetown Lions Club members over the past 50 years and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 5152

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

Whereas the Insurance Bureau of Canada has begun a national injury prevention campaign, named Be Smart, Be Safe, to reinforce the message that most injuries are preventable; and

Whereas Be Smart, Be Safe was launched on October 25th, in Truro, which is a community with a demonstrated commitment to injury prevention which has declared October 29th to November 5th as Injury Prevention Week; and

Whereas Injury Prevention Week in Truro will include demonstrations of proper helmet use and a safety expo featuring a host of activities and games about injury prevention;

[Page 9586]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Town of Truro on their campaign to raise public commitment to injury prevention.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 5153

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 Sunday, September 11, 2005, Jane Crawley passed away; and

Whereas Jane was the first Executive Director of Transition House, worked for the Company of Canadians, was Executive Director of the Cape Breton Community Housing Association for the past 27 years, advocating for mental health consumers. She was instrumental in establishing the first residential programs in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Jane, throughout her career as a social worker, also served as a founding member of the Nova Scotia Residential Services Society as president and vice-president from June 2002 to October 2003, served on the Board of Health Care Human Resource Sector Council, was a member of the Mental Health Advisory Committee of Cape Breton Health Complex, as well as a member of the Schizophrenia Society;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislative Assembly acknowledge Jane Crawley's service to the New Democratic Party and recognize her contributions to the community by making it a better place to live for the present and future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9587]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 5154

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

Whereas the East Preston Seniors Club was founded in 1990 and currently has an enrolment of 35 members; and

Whereas the club successfully organizes and promotes most events and programs to enhance the lives of seniors in the community; and

Whereas the club will celebrate their 15th Anniversary with a community banquet on November 12, 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate the East Preston Seniors Club on their anniversary and honour their commitment to the seniors of their community and our province.

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 9588]

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to welcome and introduce to the House a number of students who are participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day. Seated in the east and west galleries, these young men and women are attending a job shadowing event that takes place on this date each year across Canada. The particular events that this group of students are attending is being hosted by the Public Service Commission. Please join me in welcoming Liam Gareau, Elena Acosta, Anne-Marie Bowlby, Michael Wakulicz, Bethany Dunn, Evan Furey, Jayme Offman, Alex Baker and Ryan Getson. Thank you. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 5155

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

Whereas 150 years of worship at Warren Baptist Church was celebrated with a special anniversary service on Sunday, October 2, 2005; and

Whereas the participants numbered 100-plus for the service that included organist Mrs. Pat Parker, Reverend Byron Corkum and Reverend Jack Palmer, while music was provided by The Travellers; and

Whereas chairman of the church trustees Weldon Travis, who attended Sunday School and church services during the 1940s and 1950s, was happy to be part of the celebrations as well;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the members and caretakers of this heritage property located at Warren, Cumberland County, Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9589]

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. 5156

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

Whereas in 1905 the Louisbourg Volunteer Fire Department's station house was constructed; and

Whereas over the past two years Louisbourg Fire Chief Leo Carter and members of the Louisbourg Volunteer Fire Department embarked on an aggressive campaign to construct a new fire station; and

Whereas with the support of federal, provincial and municipal governments, the Louisbourg Volunteer Fire Department is constructing a $1.2 million community-based complex and fire station house to serve the needs of the historic Town of Louisbourg and surrounding communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House of Assembly congratulate Fire Chief Leo Carter, members of the Louisbourg Volunteer Fire Department, municipal councillor Brian Lahey and other stakeholders for a job well done.

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 9590]

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 5157

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

Whereas it is acknowledged that strong adult literacy skills assist with better health, better jobs and better educated children; and

Whereas on September 8, 2005, Minister Jamie Muir presented the Nova Scotia School for Adult Learning Community Literacy Volunteer Awards to four Nova Scotians who have made outstanding contributions to lifelong learning in their communities; and

Whereas Sandra Carver of the Queens Learning Network was honoured for her many years of dedicated service to community-based adult literacy programs in Queens County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the enrichment that Sandra Carver and all Nova Scotians involved with adult literacy have made to our province.

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. 5158

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 Hebbville Academy of Lunenburg County is noted for its sports and recreation programs with a lengthy and impressive list of local, regional and provincial sport championships; and

[Page 9591]

Whereas the Hebbville Academy boys soccer team recently added the 2005 Western Regional A Final Championship to that list and for the season they went 15-1-1 and allowed only five goals; and

Whereas goalie Ryan Getson posted back-to-back shutouts in the finals and ended the year with a total of 13 shutouts;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all of the following team members and their coach: Matthew Hachey, Logan MacLennan, Jory Uhlman, Dylan Naugler, Zach Brown, Joe Ross, Matthias Pizzera, Luke Haughn, Samuel Huwiler, Mitch Baker, Mattias Wolter, Isaac Hachey, Kirk Herman, Andrew Morrison, Darcy Bristol, Ryan Matheson, Justin Taylor, Ryan Getson, and Coach Devan Naugler.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 5159

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

Whereas it was 12 years ago today, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was first elected to these historic Chambers by his constituents; and

Whereas the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has always placed the priorities of his constituents above and beyond anything else; and

[Page 9592]

Whereas those same constituents have obviously appreciated the member's attentive concerns to their needs, re-electing him in 1998, 1999, and again in 2003, with margins of victory of more than 3,000 votes on two occasions, and 4,000 votes on the other occasion;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud the dedication and hard work put forth by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, while wishing him many continued years of electoral success. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 5160

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

Whereas the Recreation Nova Scotia Mayflower Community Cooperation Award is awarded annually to groups in Nova Scotia who have demonstrated outstanding co-operation and commitment within their communities to the improvement of recreational activities; and

Whereas the South Shore Annapolis Valley Recreational Trail Association, the Bull Run Trail Association, the LaHave River Trail Association, the Adventure Trail Association, the Bay to Bay Trail Association, and the Dynamite Trail Association have been selected as recipients of the 2005 Recreation Nova Scotia Mayflower Community Cooperation Award; and

Whereas these volunteer trail groups have made a major contribution to their communities by working together to promote healthier living for the residents of the Municipality of the District of Lunenburg;

[Page 9593]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the South Shore Annapolis Valley Recreational Trail Association, the Bull Run Trail Association, the LaHave River Trail Association, the Adventure Trail Association, the Bay to Bay Trail Association, and the Dynamite Trail Association on being selected to receive the 2005 Recreation Nova Scotia Mayflower Community Cooperation Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 5161

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

Whereas Nova Automotive has been serving metro and surrounding area with engine and automotive services for 40 years; and

Whereas co-owners Rick Hamilton and Ken Barrett, along with their staff, have gained a reputation as a great place to go when repairs are needed; and

Whereas their industry knowledge and service is only surpassed by their generosity to local sports teams and community causes;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate co-owners Rick Hamilton and Ken Barrett, as well as their staff, for celebrating 40 years of service and for supporting their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 9594]

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 3:04 p.m. and end at 4:34 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

ENERGY - RCL: ENERGY COSTS - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Energy. The government dedicated 2005 as the Year of the Veteran. Royal Canadian Legion buildings across Nova Scotia are a visible symbol of the Legion's purpose, to perpetuate the memory and the deeds of the 117,000 Canadians who have fallen in battle. Unfortunately, Legions are coming under increasing financial pressure from many sources, including energy costs. Last year, just six Legions in Pictou County spent over $54,000 on fuel. Those costs will increase by at least 35 per cent this year, and they will have to find another $19,000 more to pay for their heating costs. My first question to the minister is this, why has this government failed to support these important community resources, symbols of Canada's wartime sacrifices in this Year of the Veteran?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in response to the question of the Leader of the Opposition, he highlights something that all Nova Scotians, regardless of individual household or organization, are faced with this year, and that is increased pressures. Not-for-profit organizations, regardless of whether it's the Royal Canadian Legion or any others, are trying to cope with higher energy costs. We've talked about energy conservation and efficiency. I don't think the member is trying to politicize the Year of the Veteran with other political agendas, and if we want to talk about energy issues, let's talk about energy issues that affect all organizations in this province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Legion in Bridgetown spent over $3,000 in fuel in 2003, $4,300 in 2004, this year they will probably have to pay $5,800 and, of course, these increases are unsustainable. The Legion is Canada's largest veterans' organization, it touches the lives of thousands of Canadians young and old but despite the importance of these organizations to the communities across this province, there is no mention in the

[Page 9595]

government's Energy Strategy, for energy audits or retrofit assistance for Legions at all. My question to the minister is, why did you fail to include any assistance for Legions or for other non-profits for that matter in your energy plan?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, and I think every member of this Assembly, those watching and those who are part of the 119 Legions throughout this province, have a firm understanding that no province or territory in this country has been more supportive of the Royal Canadian Legion and its efforts in the Year of the Veteran. Again, I think, it is less than appropriate to try to politicize one component of something that this government has been doing a very responsible thing. Indeed, we have been talking about energy conservation efficiency pieces, this is something that all organizations are dealing with. I think it is totally inappropriate for that Leader, who claims to be a Leader, to get up and have such rhetoric in this House.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, heating the Legion is not rhetoric and this information comes from the Legions, themselves. The Legion in Yarmouth had to pay 69 cents a litre for fuel last year, this year it will have to pay over 90 cents a litre. I have to ask myself, in this important year, is this the way we want to treat the men and women who these organizations represent? My final question to the minister is, will you amend your energy plan and provide funding for energy audits and retrofits for Legions across Nova Scotia?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members of this House, I would reiterate the amount of respect this government has and has shown for our Legions and our veterans in this province, making sure their needs are taken care of. Veterans and members of those Legions who have access to our programs through the Keep the Heat Program, through Home Heating Assistance, through their individual homes that have been a priority. What I have said previously in response is that this government is aware of pressures on all organizations and all Nova Scotians, like all Canadians, all North Americans and every citizen of this globe who are trying to deal with increasing energy pressures. I will tell you, there's no amount of pressure from that member that is going to deter this government from continuing to support the Royal Canadian Legion and veterans in this province.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES. - ATVs: AGE RESTRICTIONS - IMPLEMENT

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, once again, I opened the papers today and see the government come under fire regarding their ineptitude in dealing with all-terrain vehicles. The minister just doesn't get it, the government just doesn't get it. They cannot understand the carnage caused by these machines. The doctors can because they deal with the trauma caused by ATVs. Doctors from across the province, with the exception of the minister's mythical doctor friend we can't seem to get a name for, have begged for age restrictions. The doctors are appalled at the minister's direction. My question to the Minister of Natural

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Resources is, when is the minister going to start listening to health care experts and implement the necessary and appropriate measures to save children's lives?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to all members, this government has tabled a bill and we will be implementing the task force recommendation on age with one exemption, for parents on their own private property under proper supervision, training and equipment.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, the members of the government can't seem to agree on anything these days. Their own caucus is still divided on this issue and this division is no doubt playing a great role in their inability to address this. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. GLAVINE: The government Leader said of an Act of this House that if it saves one life, it's a good bill. Yet the minister is quoted in the paper today as saying a ban on operators under 14 is unrealistic, unenforceable and counterproductive. I guess it leaves us to wonder which it is. My question to the minister is, why are you refusing to implement meaningful measures to protect children from any further harm, injury or death?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite and all members, this government takes the practices for safe operation of off-highway vehicles very, very seriously and the children and the operators of those vehicles, that's why we're implementing the bill that we have in place and the action plan of this province.

MR. GLAVINE: The minister has to do more than listen to a few backbenchers before he comes up with a policy, plan or a piece of legislation that affects so many young lives. These machines are not toys. Newfoundland has tougher restrictions than Nova Scotia. This government is known for its half measures and weak attempts.

Today in the Cape Breton Post, I quote Dr. Andrew Ling, "I'm not convinced it's going to make a difference. We're still going to see serious injuries and deaths. There has been no decision to ban the vehicles for those under the age of 14." My question to the minister is, when will the sound medical advice supercede politics under this government?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, what I can tell that member and all members is this minister and this government listens to all of my colleagues. Maybe that member should listen to some of the colleagues in his own caucus when they say 1000 per cent.

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

[Page 9597]

HEALTH - COLE'S FAM. CARE HOME: WORKERS - PAYMENT

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question today is for the Minister of Health. On August 31st the minister notified the owners of Cole's Family Care Home, in Amherst, that the seven-bed, licensed nursing home would not have their licence renewed. The staff of the nursing home found themselves without a job without any advance warning. It is now November and they are still fighting for back pay and severance. My question is to the Minister of Health. The Department of Health provided the money to the operator to pay the staff, what measures are being taken to ensure the workers get their final pay?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the action that was taken by the Department of Health was action which was appropriate in order to protect those who were under the care of the operation of that home. The business arrangements with respect to the operators of the home and the employees are matters that are difficult, but it is not the responsibility of the department to provide that payment directly, although we are working and trying to facilitate the flow of that payment to the workers.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, documents obtained by my office through freedom of information show that the quality of care at this nursing home was in rapid decline. The residents were repeatedly fed Tuna Helper, Kraft Dinner, canned meats and other foods that have little nutritional value. The staff reported that the kitchen was frequently running on the next best thing to empty. The documents show that latex gloves and adult incontinence supplies were rationed, and staff can verify this. So my question to the Minister of Health is, why wasn't action taken sooner to protect the residents of this nursing home?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, when it was determined that they had not met the regulations and were not capable of responding to the orders that were given by the Department of Health, we took the action and closed the facility.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, as late as July 21st the Department of Health was still contemplating allowing the owners of this facility to operate an unlicensed seniors' home or a small options home under Community Services. One would hope that nobody operating under these conditions outlined in the documents would be allowed to care for any vulnerable person in this province again let alone in an unlicensed and uninspected environment. So my final question to the Minister of Health is, this government strategy on preventing elder abuse does little to address the care seniors get in licensed and unlicensed seniors' homes, so what is the minister going to do to protect these vulnerable Nova Scotians?

[Page 9598]

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we conduct regular inspections, and when we find that facilities are not operating in a manner suitable to the residents of those facilities, we close them down. That's what we did.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH - WAIT TIMES: CRISIS RESOLVE

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. While the much-heralded wait times Web site provides limited information, the truth of the matter is that wait times in this province, despite the almost $2.6 billion this minister spends in health care, are worsening. According to the most recent Fraser Institute report, Waiting Your Turn, the health care system in this province is getting worse. For example, for those Nova Scotians seeking treatment for burns, the wait now stands at 76 weeks. For those Nova Scotians who require hand surgery as a result of injury, the wait is 26.5 weeks, or half a year. Both of those procedures have seen a combined increase of 52.5 weeks in the last year. My question to the minister is, what initiatives is the Minister of Health undertaking to resolve this rapidly escalating crisis?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's very interesting to hear the Liberal Critic on Health quoting information from the right wing Fraser Institute. That particular institute gathers its information in a manner that's not scientific, and it relies upon voluntary responses from medical practitioners throughout the country. We look at the numbers, but they're not numbers which can guide us in developing appropriate policy in health.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, on May 16th of this year, the Premier stated, "We have to resolve the health care crisis." We know what the Premier meant, it's not just burn victims, those needing hand surgery who are waiting longer, waits have increased by 1.8 weeks in gynaecology; an increase of 2.4 weeks in ophthalmology; for general surgery by 5.8 weeks; and, brain surgery, we see an increase in wait times of 7.3 weeks. The minister will say that the Fraser Institute doesn't have accurate data. I can tell you, it's more informative than what the minister has provided us. My question to the minister is, why aren't any of those increases in wait times posted on your wait times Web site?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the information which we place on our Web site is information which Nova Scotians can rely upon. That cannot be said of the results published by the Fraser Institute.

[Page 9599]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, despite what this minister claims, the health care system in this province is getting worse. Whether it's oncology waits for cancer patients, or the procedures that I just listed, Nova Scotians are waiting longer. Fact, Mr. Speaker. My final question for the minister is, when is this minister going to outline an overall comprehensive plan that will deal with what appears to be a widespread problem with increasing wait times?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we are taking actions on various fronts with respect to addressing the issue of wait times. First and foremost among that, of course, is our participation with the agreement of the First Ministers in terms of coming together with respect to establishing benchmarks and establishing the guidelines, targets, that go with those.

We are also providing to Nova Scotians up-to-date information, as up to date as we can possibly make it through the Web site. We are also hiring more and more health care workers. The CIHI Report which is reliable, Mr. Speaker, will demonstrate that this province has more doctors than other jurisdictions in the country. That's a fact that cannot be denied and that's as a result of the policies of this government. We will continue to pursue those policies and we will address wait times.

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

JUSTICE - LIBERAL TRUST FUNDS: ACTION - DETAILS

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Earlier in this session, this House paid tribute to George Hawkins, who was a former candidate for the Liberal leadership. Also, though, he was a crusader within his Party to rid the Party of the questionable trust funds that that Party has had for some time. We've learned in the past months, as well, that the Liberal Party intends to use that trust fund in the coming election. Since the Gomery report came out yesterday, and even before that, we've known that a lot of Nova Scotians are tired of the link between questionable fundraising practices and the funding of political Parties. I want to ask the Minister of Justice if he can tell us, what is he going to do to deal with these questionable trust funds?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. I believe I share with the honourable member the sentiment that the existence of those trust funds in Nova Scotia is one of the things that detracts from the political culture of this province. It's an embarrassment not only to members of this House, but it's an embarrassment to Nova Scotians. I would hope that the Liberal Party would voluntarily, in light of the Gomery matter, choose to get rid of these trust funds, which are an embarrassment, as I said, not only to that Party but to Nova Scotians.

[Page 9600]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in 2002, our Party introduced legislation, before the last election, dealing, once and for all, with this trust fund issue. At this time, I want to quote from the Minister of Justice. At that time he said, "It's important Nova Scotians have confidence that the highest ethical standards apply to campaign funds." He was also quoted as saying, "The purpose of this is purely to ensure there is true accountability." I will table those. My question to the minister at this point is, if this was a good idea in 2002, three years later, why has the government failed to do anything to ensure that we, once and for all, deal with questionable trust funds?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I stand by, and I think the honourable member would agree with the sentiments expressed earlier by myself. We all need to adjust ourselves to changed times as a result of the Gomery inquiry. I can indicate to the honourable member that this government is intending to do that. We have tried, as a government, to live up to the highest ethical standards. I would call upon the Party opposite, the Liberal Party, to adhere to those same standards as set out by the Gomery Report.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Members and Public Employees Disclosure Act specifically says that any money that's to be used from trust funds to fund an election, you have to be able to show who the donors were to that trust fund. The Liberals have already indicated that they intend to use this trust fund, this questionable trust fund, in the coming election. So as far as we can tell, the Minister of Justice has two choices here. He can either bring forward legislation that clearly says that this fund can't be used, or he can send the matter to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner and ask that he provide independent advice as to whether or not, under the current legislation, this trust fund can be used. I want to ask the minister, which will he choose?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the honourable member that I believe that the proper method to deal with this matter is that the Nova Scotia Election Commission, comprised of representatives from all three Parties, should deal with this matter. If a majority of members of that commission come in with a recommendation, it has been the practice of this government to introduce that bill in the House for debate.

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

HUM. RES.: WHISTLEBLOWER LEGISLATION - INTRODUCE

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, my question, through you, is for the Minister of Human Resources. Yesterday's revelations from the Gomery Report show just how important it is to protect the public interest, at all costs, against those who would abuse it. One of the best ways to ensure that government is transparent and accountable for its actions is to create a climate where those who report wrongdoing are free from reprisal. Unfortunately this government does not believe in giving employees protection that has the

[Page 9601]

force of law. So my question to the minister is, will she bring forward legislation, not regulations, to protect whistleblowers in Nova Scotia?

HON. CAROLYN BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, in the last sitting of the House, or last Fall, we did bring forward regulations, and these regulations are what the people asked for. They asked for a mechanism so that they could bring forward their information. We have provided that they can go to the Conflict of Interest Commissioner. The Ombudsman has just set up a toll-free line so that employees can call into this line. We do have a process in place.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I find it difficult to believe that the minster can make those statements with a straight face. In the U.K. and other countries, there are independent bodies established to protect whistleblowers, and have legislative protections. Over one-quarter of Nova Scotia Government workers report that they have witnessed wrongdoing in their workplace, but this government doesn't seem to care. So what will it take for this government to finally bring in real legislative protection for whistleblowers?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, apparently the member opposite didn't hear my last response because this member has brought forward regulations. These regulations are in place, they've been in place for a year now. There will be a report tabled in this House before the end of this session, as I had said I would do prior to bringing them forward.

MR. GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, Heaven forbid, that we should have our very own sponsorship scandal in Nova Scotia, but the spectre of such abuse of public trust is real. Without the right kinds of protection in place for whistleblowers, the reality is that many people will refuse to come forward for fear of reprisal. Why do you put the government's political interests ahead of those in public, by refusing to bring forward this kind of legislation?

MS. BOLIVAR-GETSON: Mr. Speaker, apparently the member opposite is still not hearing my response. What the government employees and what employees asked for was a clear process. This process was put in place. They have a number of avenues that they can take to report any wrongdoing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

AGRIC. & FISH. - PORK PRODUCERS: ASSISTANCE - STRATEGY

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minster of Agriculture and Fisheries. Last week I asked the minister a question regarding the financial strategy for pork producers of Nova Scotia. They are in dire need of a long-term assistance plan to help revitalize their industry. So my question to the minister is, have you developed any strategy to aid the thousands of people who will be affected if this industry collapses?

[Page 9602]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for the question. As he's well aware, we've been working for the last two years with Pork Nova Scotia to come up with a vision for the industry of where it wants to be in the long term. Of course we're going through a low-price cycle and we're looking to help them in the short and medium term.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, Pork Nova Scotia has produced a detailed report on how their monetary problems can be solved over a 10-year period and the minister and his department has had that report for months. So my question is, will your government put this plan into action?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that I've had that for approximately a month now. I'm very happy to say that we're working very closely with Pork Nova Scotia and I thank them for their hard work. I know it has been a long arduous process of soul searching, looking at that industry, seeing where we can forward and I look forward to bringing that to my Cabinet colleagues in the very near future.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, this minister and his government have proven time and time again that they care little about the people of rural Nova Scotia. Even when the pork industry has provided you with a solution. So my question is . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, even when the pork industry has provided you with a solution. So my question is, when can we expect your government to take the potential loss of 1,500 jobs in rural Nova Scotia seriously and address this issue?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that over the last eight years, there has been a number of initiatives that have gone to help the pork industry survive and each time that that pork board comes to us, they say, listen, we're trying to find the vision, we're trying find our way forward. We have the vision now in front of us. We have the document in front of us and we're looking forward to bringing those changes and making them stronger so that they are good contributors to the economy of Nova Scotia.

[3:30 p.m.]

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

COM. SERV. - DAYCARES/PRESCHOOLS:

HEATING COSTS - ASSISTANCE

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. One of the sectors that is going to be hit very hard by rising heating costs this Winter is early childhood

[Page 9603]

education. I will table a letter from Erin Naugler who is the treasurer of the Windsor Nursery School. Last year it cost this non-profit centre $2,100 to heat the facility. This year the school is expecting that cost to nearly double to $3,800 or more. My question to the Premier is, how does his government intend to help daycare centres and preschools cope with rising heating costs?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for her question because it gives me a chance to point out to her, and indeed share with all Nova Scotians, that we've just gone through a very extensive consultation process with the child care sector and the people who depend on the child care sector, the families with young children who go to them. We asked them for their input. We do have the agreement that we have signed with the federal government on May 16th which is going to put more resources into the sector and we are looking forward to announcing very soon the results of that consultation.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, actually the Windsor Nursery School is a non-profit society run by a parent co-op and it does not receive provincial funding. So every penny must be raised through tuition or fundraising. The Windsor Nursery School takes in about $2,200 a month in tuition and the rest has to be fundraised. This year's heating costs will represent nearly two months of tuition revenue. The school continually fundraises. It does breakfasts, bake sales, turkey draws, chocolate bar sales, it sells Avon all year long, and Christmas wreathes - just to survive.

My question to the Premier is, the last couple of years has seen a number of non-profit and private nursery schools and child care centres close because they can't make ends meet. How many more must close before action is taken?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has pointed out that some of this may not fall under the child care sector because it's a nursery school, but I'm pointing out that in terms of regulated child care there are monies that we have accessed through our agreement with the federal government. We are about to bring forward a five-year plan which has been developed in consultation with the industry and that plan will answer some of the questions that the honourable member is bringing up today.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, the focus of my questions today is not on the deficits of the child care system in Nova Scotia, it's really on how feeble the attempt of this government is to help homeowners, non-profit and small-business people cope with a skyrocketing energy crisis. The Windsor Nursery School is a valuable asset to the community. It teaches 17 children in its morning program. They've been preparing young children for entry into school for a number of years, but their bottom line is growing harder and harder to meet.

[Page 9604]

Few, if any, of this government's energy strategy programs will apply to places like the Windsor Nursery School. So I ask the Premier, where is his government's plan to help small businesses and non-profit organizations with retrofits and other programs to help them cope with rising heating costs?

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to not-for-profit organizations that are in business activities, as well as to the honourable member's point, there is a component with regard to the federal programming. I would be pleased to make sure that we take that review and look at how we can assist that organization and others to get access to the federal programming.

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

COM. SERV. - EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUC.: TURNOVER - ACTION

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. A 2004 report by OECD, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development, recommended using public funding to improve wages and quality for Canadian child care. Across this country, every year, 22 per cent of child care staff are forced out of their profession, largely due to low pay and poor benefits. I ask the minister, what action will he be taking to stop the high turnover in the early childhood education sector?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Her question is the use of public funding to help bolster the resources that are available to pay the staff in the early child care sector. I think the honourable member would probably be aware that one of the early steps taken by this government, after the first early childhood development agreement with the federal government, was in fact to make use of a very significant portion of those monies to enhance the wages of the employees in the child care sector; $4,000 for those who have a diploma; $1,000 for those who assist them.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, in 2003-04, as the minister has just mentioned, the minister and his department took the largest part of the federal money for child care and they put it toward wage stabilization grants. Most of the funding became one-time bonuses for staff, and few workers saw their wages or benefits increased. My question to the minister is, this sector is in crisis, and the planning is going on in secrecy, creating uncertainty and anxiety among centre staff and parents, when will the minister commit to releasing his plan that's due to go to the federal government by the end of December? Will he release it early enough that all stakeholders can have input before it's finalized?

[Page 9605]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there's a number of things one could respond to there, but I think the first thing that we better clear up is the whole premise of the question about these being one-time bonuses. That's not the case. The $4,000 and the $1,000 wage supplements continue year after year, as long as the centres qualify. As I think I've already indicated in answer to an earlier question, we have concluded with the consultation process with a five-year plan. We're analyzing the results, and I'm looking forward to bringing a plan to Cabinet, the five-year plan, very soon.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia early childhood educators barely make more than parking lot attendants. Actually, in July, Manitoba invested $11.5 million to increase wages and benefits. Unlike workers in our province who make $19,000 or less a year, in Manitoba early childhood educators make between $27,000 and $30,000 a year. In fact a 2004 report by CUPE shows that Halifax had the lowest wages among seven cities in Canada at $10.51 an hour for unionized workers. This speaks nothing of the staff of the for-profit centres, who earn far less than their counterparts in the non-profit centres. With the new Pre-Primary Program in our school system competing with child care centres for trained early childhood educators who are in short supply in this province, I ask the minister, how will his new plan for early childhood education and care address the shortfall of qualified, trained early childhood educators in Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me to point out that, really, what early learning and child care is all about, is the children. Now those centres are an integral part in serving those children, and they have to have the appropriately trained staff. But this whole consultation process was about figuring out how we could best assist those families provide regulated early learning and child care to their children.

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

TPW - CAPT. LEBLANC (ENGLISHTOWN): INQUIRY - LENGTH

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The tragic death of Captain Donald LeBlanc left his wife and children devastated. They have endured tremendous suffering over the last two and a half years for the loss of a loved one. An investigation is taking place regarding the untimely death of Captain LeBlanc at the Englishtown Ferry site. My question to the minister is, why has this investigation taken so long?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, a thorough investigation takes as long as it takes.

[Page 9606]

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, rather abrupt and on par for this government, I think; lack of concern, caring, sharing. The Department of Transportation and Public Works, as the employer of Captain LeBlanc, has conducted an evaluation of the accident, but they have never conducted an internal investigation even after the pleas of the family. It appears that when a private company suffers a fatality, they always are found at fault, but when the province does something, it seems that all measures have been followed. My question to the minister is, will your government take action on this matter and let the people know what led to Captain LeBlanc's death?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there is an ongoing investigation and I leave it at that.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, Captain LeBlanc died in a work environment accident. He was removing snow - a duty not included in his job description. The tragedy appears to have fallen on deaf ears. My final question to the minister is, why can't this government be open and transparent when it comes to this investigation and get to the bottom of this unfortunate accident?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, my answer to the honourable member is that this government is honest and transparent.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: COASTAL ACCESS - ENSURE

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations who is also responsible for the land registry system. The issue of access to the coast in Nova Scotia is very important because 90 per cent of our coastline is privately owned. Currently, many landowners allow access, but this is dependent on the landowners' goodwill - their attitude can change at any time. To see where Nova Scotia could be headed, we need just look to the State of Connecticut where 80 per cent of the coastline is privately owned and not accessible to the public. My question to the minister is, what is this government doing to ensure that the people of this province continue to have access to their coast?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to answer the question of the member opposite. Our track record and what we have been doing to acquire and ensure that Nova Scotians have access to coastal property is a good track record. We have acquired Cape Split, Andrews Island, Port Bickerton, literally thousands and thousands of acres, all with coastal frontage have been acquired over the past number of years to secure and ensure that Nova Scotians have access to their coastal properties.

[Page 9607]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the sale of our coastline is a problem this government just doesn't want to deal with. We've had a law on the books for a long time called the Land Holdings Disclosure Act, but this government joined previous Liberal Governments and refuses to enforce it. Today, on e-Bay, there are a dozen Nova Scotia coastal properties for sale; another Web site, Vladi Private Islands lists 19 Nova Scotia islands for sale. Real estate agents in the United States are using the sales pitch that our coast and our islands are cheap and that there is no control over foreign ownership. My question to the minister is, what is this government doing to track the proportion of Nova Scotia coastal land passing into foreign and private ownership?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, what I'll tell the member opposite, more importantly is the Province of Nova Scotia is, in a concentrated effort, acquiring coastal property so that Nova Scotians can have access to the coast. I would point out to the member opposite we've purchased property in every county of this province. In fact, we've literally invested millions of dollars to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to their coast. I think it's a positive step forward and this government should be congratulated for what we've done to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to our coastal properties.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, not very long ago, it was recommended to government, "The Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should take full responsibility for administering and enforcing the amended Act." Who recommended that? It was the task force for Voluntary Planning. Another Voluntary Planning task force that this government is ignoring. When will this government start taking seriously Voluntary Planning task force reports and accept the recommendations instead of letting them gather dust on the shelf?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'll tell the member opposite and all of Nova Scotians that we've done better than that. We've actually gone out and acquired, on behalf of Nova Scotians many parcels of coastal property including, last week, we purchased Andrews Island. We purchased Cape Split. We purchased many coastal properties around this province, so Nova Scotians will have access to those coastal properties forever and ever.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

EDUC. - N.S. SCHOOLS: NUTRITION POLICY - CONSIDERATION

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. Recently the Department of Education has circulated a draft policy on nutrition in Nova Scotia schools. We all know that this government has a habit of making draft policies permanent overnight. The perfect example was the recent policy about absenteeism for extracurricular activities. The superintendents were notified of this new policy and only

[Page 9608]

had days to implement it before the school year began. You can see why communities and boards are concerned about the implementation of this nutritional policy. So my question is, will the Minister of Education guarantee that the thoughts and concerns of Nova Scotians over this policy will be considered before it's implemented?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the nutrition policy that was distributed was actually the product of quite a number of groups including the Nova Scotia Federation of Home and School Associations, every school board, health organization, the Department of Health Promotion, and the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries. The draft policy is out there, and the committee that is reviewing that is receiving feedback. I can tell you, for example, that a week ago last Saturday, I met with a couple of youth groups that are advisory to the Minister of Education. They will be doing a detailed review of that policy and we expect to have that very soon.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, while we agree with the policy in theory, there are still considerable concerns about the impact and the ability of the school boards to meet budgets without additional financial support. The Bridgetown High School Band is a well-respected group that garners considerable support both financial and otherwise from the community. Annually this band raises $10,000 to $12,000, selling homemade pies to the community. Because pies are one of those items that potentially could be lost because of this policy, my question to the minister is, will the minister replace that $10,000 to $12,000 that this band makes selling homemade pies?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member acknowledged in his first question, this is a draft policy. It's gone out so that the committee that put it together can receive feedback such as that that the honourable member has just mentioned from the Bridgetown High School.

The school band programs which - and I'm pleased to see him acknowledge the music programs in the public schools of Nova Scotia, because I can remember a former colleague on that side of the House standing up and criticizing the high school band programs in this province. I know the member for Timberlea-Prospect remembers that comment and I . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Annapolis on your final supplementary.

MR. MCNEIL: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the comments from the minister, but the reality of it is, all band programs in this province are going to need some support from your government if you implement this policy, if it continues the way it is.

[Page 9609]

My final question is to the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. We have heard for sometime now that a Buy Nova Scotia First campaign was in the works, and as the Minister of Education just acknowledged, he's been dealing with your department. So my question is, will the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries tell Nova Scotians what he has done to ensure that Nova Scotia products will be available to our students?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, this is a process that we're very happy to be a part of, to ensure that Nova Scotia products are going to be in our Nova Scotia institutions, including our schools. I have to say that we're working with our supplier development program and working with different suppliers, to make sure that these products will be available in our schools.

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

JUSTICE - FOIPOP: REVIEW OFFICER - VACANCY

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, My question is for the Minister of Justice. Darce Fardy is currently the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy review officer in this province. He has been for a number of years and, he has been very good at his job. Now, it's our understanding he finishes on January 24, 2006, which is less than three months from this date. We also understand that the other full-time employee at that office has already left for greener pastures, so to speak. So what we have is an office that less than three months from now will be left vacant, and some would argue potentially a very important, independent voice with regard to access the information, well, the doors will be shut. So my question to the Minister of Justice is, why has he dragged his feet in replacing the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Review Officer?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, we will make sure that there is an administrator in that office when the vacancy occurs.

MR. DEVEAUX: You know, Mr. Speaker, an administrator is not going to cut it. This is a very important position. Some would argue it is one of the most important positions in government because it's there to ensure that the government is held accountable for the information that they provide to the public. In less than three months - January 24, 2006 - Darce Fardy is retiring and we don't even have an advertisement in the newspaper with regard to this position. The position of Auditor General is being replaced and it has been over a year that we've been working on hiring that person. So my question to this minister is, will he make a commitment that on January 24, 2006, we will have a full-time and permanent FOIPOP review officer?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the honourable member opposite that we will have someone in that position who is qualified to do the job, more than qualified to do the job, and will administer that Act in accordance with the law.

[Page 9610]

MR. DEVEAUX: You know, Mr. Speaker, I'm going to give an example of why this position is so important. The provincial government at the moment, the Department of Education, we understand is now negotiating to harmonize the Student Loan Program with the federal government. The federal government contracts out its federal student loan work to a company called EDULINX which happens to be owned by an American corporation called Nelnet. Now, why is that important?

It's important, Mr. Speaker, because the U.S. Patriot Act allows the U.S. Government to access any data that is controlled by an American corporation, including in a foreign country. So we have a serious problem here. There are 18,000 loans issued by the Nova Scotia Department of Education and all that data is going to be available to the U.S. Government. They'll have access to all that personal information from Nova Scotians and not only this year's, but years past as well.

So my question to the Minister of Justice is, when will he address this gaping hole in our Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and ensure that the Patriot Act cannot be used to access personal information of Nova Scotians?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I do very much appreciate the issue that the honourable member raises. It is an important issue and I can assure you that the government is aware of the issue and we will do everything necessary and possible to protect the privacy of Nova Scotians.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - CBRM: EQUALIZATION FUND - FAIRNESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. The minister has commented a number of times that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is being treated fairly. In fact, he likes to say the Cape Breton Regional Municipality gets 50 per cent of the equalization fund. In 2004-05 the total funding shortfall for the Municipal Equalization Program was $3 million. In that same year the CBRM entitlement under the program exceeded the grant from the province by about $4.4 million. So my question for the minister is, given the funding shortfall, does the minister still stand by his belief that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is being treated fairly?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'll say to the member opposite and to all members, there is no funding shortfall in the equalization program. As I said earlier, and continue to say, the equalization program provides for a grant to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality of approximately 50 per cent of the overall equalization program that we offer to all Nova Scotia.

[Page 9611]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Well, Mr. Speaker, I don't think that the minister is getting it. The equalization funding shortfall is less than the actual Cape Breton Regional Municipality's shortfall. That means that the Cape Breton Regional Municipality bears 145 per cent of the funding shortfall. My question for the minister is, how can he call that fair and equitable treatment?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I don't think the member opposite is getting it. There is no program shortfall. As I've indicated to the member opposite and to others, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality gets about 50 per cent of the Nova Scotia equalization program that we offer to municipalities.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, again, the minister just doesn't get it. The 2004-05 shortfall penalizes the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. It doesn't help it. If you had a shortfall - if that government had a shortfall of $4.4 million from Ottawa, they'd be holding a press conference and crying foul. My final question is, when is the minister going to provide fair and equitable treatment for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality?

MR. BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'll say to the member opposite again, he just doesn't get it. There is no shortfall. We've always been fair with all municipalities, including the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. We will continue to do that. The member opposite certainly doesn't understand it, so I guess I won't waste my time here today trying to explain it to him.

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

COM. SERV. - COLE HBR. REHABILITATION CTR.:

YOUNG MEN - RELOCATION DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Do you know what, Mr. Speaker? The Premier knows that his days as Leader of that Party are short, by his own admission. The reason I want to talk directly to the Premier, through you, on this question, is, it's about fairness and fairness for young men in this province. It's about the closure of the Cole Harbour rehabilitation centre. The young men who were left in there were sent to Sunrise Manor in the early Summer of 2001. It's almost five years later. They were told then by the Minister of Community Services that they would be there for one year. This is an inadequate place for these people to be housed. Mr. Premier, I'm asking you not to leave this blight on your record when you leave this House and you leave that office. Please do something. Tell us today, when can those young men move from that place?

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

[Page 9612]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his concern about all the people served by the People with Disabilities program. We're doing good things with that program. A lot of the people have been able to go back to the community. There are a few who are at Sunrise Manor. We've spent over $0.5 million fixing up Sunrise Manor to accommodate them. I think anybody would suggest that that is a very significant investment on their behalf. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We welcome all guests to the gallery, but I would ask the people in the gallery not to respond positively or negatively to what's happening on the floor, please.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, that was the very reason I went to the Premier about this. I've asked this minister on at least three occasions about this. All this minister says is we're spending money on it. These are human beings, Mr. Premier. These are people we have to give the greatest amount of dignity to. They are in inadequate housing. There's violence in the area they work in. Vandalism is happening to the workers' vehicles. There's no recreation. Yet, this minister says we spend money on them. Mr. Premier, it's not about spending money, it's about doing the right thing. The right thing is getting them out of a seniors' housing project, getting them out of that neighbourhood. Through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, please do the right thing. Get them out of that inadequate housing.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this is a serious subject. I will make a commitment to the member opposite that I will visit the location myself.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I compliment the Premier on saying that. I hope that when he sees the conditions that those young men live in that he will respond to it and do what we've been asking them to do. It's only to stay to your own words, when the now Minister of Finance was in Community Services he himself said it would be for one year. Mr. Speaker, through you to the Premier again, I would hope when he goes to visit that he does that very soon and does exactly what the former Minister of Community Services said and put those young men in adequate housing.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: It was more a statement than a question.

THE PREMIER: Thank you and I will take the information under advisement.

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

[Page 9613]

ECON. DEV. - CBRM: GARBAGE TRANSPORT - DISCUSSIONS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Over the last year, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality voted to ship its garbage from Cape Breton to Guysborough County. The cost of that garbage will rise from approximately $80 a ton to $200 a ton for its disposal. One of the options for transporting that garbage is by rail. My question to the minister is, has he, or any officials within his department, had discussions, or are they having discussions with CBRM officials for the transport of that garbage via rail?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as all members of the House know, and certainly all Nova Scotians know, the Cape Breton Railway is a critical piece of infrastructure. Earlier this year in the budget we announced a commitment of $10 million over five years to its upkeep and maintenance. Part of the overall long-term commitment is finding more usage and more numbers of rail cars to be on the line to make it economically viable. The member raises a good question. Yes, there have been discussions between CBRM, Cape Breton rail, facilitated with our department on moving that garbage by rail, and those are ongoing.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, one of the concerns I have and many of the residents who live along Highway 4 that extends from Sydney River up to St. Peter's in particular, have is the issue of safety. Several years ago, a previous government made a policy decision to transport biomedical waste using that particular highway, and on the very first trip a young man was killed because of the poor road conditions. Although considerable improvements have been made to the highway, it's still not such that an extensive amount of transport of garbage would be appropriate. My question to the minister, perhaps either the Minister of Economic Development or the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, has any type of an impact analysis been done should the CBRM decide to transport its garbage by either Highway 4 or Highway 5?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, our discussions are on the economic viability as a transportation source. On any road or maintenance highway issues, I would refer that to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, our preference would be, of course, for rail because we'd like to keep as much traffic as we possibly can off the 105, the 104, which are both very, very busy highways and they're only limited access in certain areas. The program to upgrade the 105 is underway, but it's going to take a long time and the program to upgrade the 104 is going to take a long time, but both highways should be upgraded.

[Page 9614]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, again I go back to the issue of safety and the transport of large amounts of this garbage. Obviously it would involve a number of provincial departments - Economic Development, Transportation and Public Works, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, as well as the Department of Environment and Labour. My question to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is, what discussion has his department had with CBRM officials on this policy decision that will see the cost of garbage more than double, given the fact they're quite concerned about a shortfall in funding for the provincial government?

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I'll say to the member opposite that the only discussions that I recall we had at our department were inquiries to our office about the legality of reconsideration notices around the decision-making process. I'm unaware of any inquiries directly from the Cape Breton Regional Municipality on this file.

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

COM. SERV.: JUNIPER HOUSE/CASA - MERGER

MR. HAROLD THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last week I questioned the Minister of Community Services on the ongoing situation with regard to the merger of Juniper House and CASA. We have two groups that have done what the government requested of them. We have a letter from the assistant deputy minister stating that the merger budget was approved, as per the joint document submitted by Juniper House and CASA, including an amount for retroactive wages. My question to the minister is, why is your department still arguing over $8,600?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there were a couple of questions last week, at least one from the Official Opposition and one from the Liberal Party. I think I answered the questions a number of times, the answer remains the same. There was a verbal agreement reached at the table, and we're prepared to honour that verbal agreement.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, there's a meeting tonight down there with Juniper House and CASA. They don't know of this. I will table a letter dated September 12th, which says, I confirm the department will fund the retroactive wages for the staff of CASA, as well as the earlier amounts requested. Mid-last week the Department of Community Services sent another letter stating that they never agreed to fund the retroactive wages. Perhaps some of the bonuses of the senior bureaucrats are on the line with this issue, and that is why the department is not willing to honour the assistant deputy minister's original letter. Why does the Minister of Community Services continue to send mixed messages to Juniper House and CASA on this very important issue?

[Page 9615]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think I could point out that I've been very consistent in my answers. We will honour the agreement that was reached at the table. In that, we are prepared to bring the employees of CASA up to the same wage scale as the other transition house employees across the province. We are prepared, on a one-time basis, to cover about a $5,000 operating deficit that would allow for this transition. However, we're not in agreement with them, after the fact, coming in with a proposal that basically would have enhanced their core budget.

MR. THERIAULT: Mr. Speaker, I'll just ask the question, for the sake of the merger proceeding, will you please step in and fund that agreed amount of $8,600? Will you do that, Mr. Minister?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the agreed amount was arrived at at the negotiating table. If the letter that had gone to the assistant deputy minister was reflective of that agreement, we would not be having these questions today.

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

HEALTH - CUMB. CO.: OCCUPATIONAL THERAPY - ACCESSIBILITY

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Vicki Dickeson's stepdaughter, Cassie, has spectrum disorder as a result of acquiring fetal alcohol syndrome. There are treatments that a child occupational therapist could offer Cassie that would help her cope with her condition so that she could do her best in school and in life. The lack of services in Cumberland County means Cassie is being left behind. So I ask the Minister of Health, why don't children like Cassie have access to occupational therapy in Cumberland County?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, those are services that are identified by the district health authority, and they become part of their business planning process.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, it's still the responsibility of the Minister of Health to ensure that the residents of this province have access to the resources and the treatment they need, no matter where they live in the province. Part of Cassie's particular challenge is that some days she is ultra-sensitive to touch. On other days Cassie has almost no feeling in her body. This has led to her hurting herself, because she doesn't register pain. She started school this Fall, and should have had therapy prior to entering Primary to help her deal with a class full of children. She's had to tough it out on her own. I would ask the minister, how can Cassie be expected to cope with school if she hasn't been given the necessary tools?

[Page 9616]

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member brings forward a question that is obviously of considerable importance, especially for the young lady, and I can tell the honourable member that the member for Cumberland North has been working very hard with my department and the district health authority to try to bring about a resolution to this challenge.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, Cassie's mother has travelled to Halifax today in hopes to meet with the minister and his staff face to face to discuss the problems and the issues they have. My final question to the minister is, will he and his staff agree to meet with Vicki Dickeson today following Question Period to see what can be done in these circumstances to help Cassie and the problems she endures while entering school for the first year?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, obviously, if there's somebody who has travelled from Amherst and would want to meet with members of my staff, we will certainly do what we can to arrange such a meeting.

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

ENERGY - NSP RATE INCREASE: MIN. PREVENTION - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Minister of Energy. The minister has been able to slide through this session with very little mention of the Nova Scotia Power rate increase application. We will be interveners at the upcoming hearing, but at the end of the day government has much more sway than any Opposition Party with regard to the proposed increases. My question to the minister is, could the minister enlighten the House and tell all Nova Scotians what exactly he is prepared to do to prevent this rate increase from taking place?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member, the government, as has been the case and the practice in the past, plans to be an intervener in the rate hearing as it comes forward.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we all are well aware of the high price of fuel but we, on this side of the House, are more concerned with protecting taxpayers than protecting Nova Scotia Power. The reality for many Nova Scotians this Winter is that they will be faced with the unpalatable choice between food and warmth, between light and sitting in the dark. The government can come out of the darkness and move forward with a plan or it can continue the wait-and-see approach. What I'm saying to the minister is, will he ensure that he will use his office and the office of his government to stop any rate increase application from Nova Scotia Power this Fall?

[Page 9617]

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, we're putting in place measures to help Nova Scotians adjust to the increasing energy prices, period, but also I can assure the honourable member that this government will ensure that the URB does its job and does it well and we'll be an intervener in that hearing.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what I'm asking the government and this minister to do is to be more than an intervener. I'm asking this minister to tell Nova Scotia Power that now is not the time for a rate increase in this province. The URB is going to deal with this matter and it's not without precedent that this government, when it's politically popular, could step in and overturn a decision of the URB. I'm saying to that minister and I'm asking that minister if the URB decides there's going to be an increase in power rates, will that minister, or that Premier, overturn that decision of the URB?

MR. CLARKE: Again, Mr. Speaker, we have every confidence the URB will do its job and I have every confidence that the Department of Energy in this province will be very effective in our intervening status once again.

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - SEISMIC TESTING: C.B. FISHERMEN - PROTECTION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Presently Hunt Oil of Texas is in the process of doing some seismic testings off the coast of Cape Breton, in particular the Donkin-Port Morien area. Many fishermen in that area are concerned about the impact of the seismic testing on the fish stocks and, in particular, the female fish stocks and their ability to regenerate for the upcoming season. So my question to the minister is, what particular action is he and/or his department taking to protect the fishermen off the coast of Cape Breton?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. Quite simply, this is a file that we are following with great interest - making sure that the thoughts and the feelings and the information is flowing correctly. Of course, the decision is one that is made by the CNSOPB and I'm very confident that the people who are on that board make decisions based on science and the information that is provided to them.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his response. Some fishermen feel that some of the technical information that's being released by officials, in particular federal officials, federal bureaucrats, is not the complete information that they feel should be put out there so as to do a proper assessment. My question to the minister is, does he or any officials within his department have anyone who is acting as somewhat of a watchdog, from a provincial perspective, to protect the interests of the Nova Scotia fishing industry, extending anywhere from Donkin to Gabarus Bay?

[Page 9618]

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, as the member opposite knows, we do have a very good department, very good staff there who have been following this issue very closely. Of course, our fishery's representatives are on the ground on a daily basis talking to fishermen, making sure that their needs are kept. I know that the answer to this question also sits in with the CNSOPB, with the Department of Energy and the officials that are held over there. I'm sure that every effort is being taken to protect the fishery here in Nova Scotia.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I suppose my second supplementary will be to the Minister of Energy. Obviously, according to the latest report that's out, entitled Atlantic Report, indicates that over the next five years, close to $2 billion of offshore exploration in Nova Scotia. I would suspect some of that will be off the coast of Donkin and Port Morien. So my question to the minister is, how does that mesh with the concerns of the fishermen that I've raised with the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries? I will certainly leave it at that.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable member's question, a couple of things. This particular licence and application with regard to seismic has been in the works since 1998. There has been extensive community consultation, scientific consultation, there have been studies in place, there have been strict criteria that there be no activity or seismic within 10 kilometres of shore. That is all based on the consultation and recommendations that were part of that exhaustive process and, indeed, the Department of Energy along with other departments and DFO have committed to science with regard to the impact. In fact, some of the delays, previously, were associated with cod migration and other issues. So government has been responsive and will continue to be responsive on their matter.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - PORK N.S.: MIN. DECISION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my questions will be for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. Nova Scotia pork producers held an information session last week where they outlined their plan to make the pork industry sustainable. The minister left saying that he would take it to Cabinet for consideration. It was rumoured in that room last week that there are some producers who may only have a couple of weeks to hold on before they have gone so far that they can't save their farms. So time certainly is of the essence. I want to ask the minister, one week has already gone by for some of those producers, and if it is true that two weeks is too many, then I want to ask the minister, is he any closer to making a decision on the request that he's received from Pork Nova Scotia?

[Page 9619]

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I am very happy that the member opposite does bring this issue up. Of course we've had the document, the long-term strategy, to go forward from Pork Nova Scotia for just over a month. We now have the presentation prepared, ready to go to Cabinet. I'm looking forward to bringing news of the Cabinet's submission and of the go-forward plan in the very near future.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's quite a bit of noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his response. Pork producers are not blaming this government for their hardship. They're looking for a way to actually work with government, processors, and I will add that they should be looking for help from retailers as well to make their industry stronger. As the minister knows, the price of pork is set on the commodities market, and this puts our hog farmers at a disadvantage. Our feed costs have been much greater here than they are in the West since rail subsidies have been done away with by the federal Liberal Government. My question for the minister is, what is he conveying to his federal counterparts in Ottawa regarding the need for levelling the playing field?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I can indicate to the member opposite that soon after the meeting with pork producers last week we were able to get a letter out to the federal Minister of Agriculture. We're looking forward to meeting with the federal member in the very near future. I'm looking at a visit to Ottawa on Fisheries items, so I'm going to try to use my time effectively and have a good meeting with the Department of Agriculture as well. At this point I do not have an indication of how they would participate, but I do know that this one does need their partnership as well in the future, not necessarily on this immediate problem that we have right now, but I think for the future viability of the pork industry we are going to need their participation.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, pork producers need the government's help; I would add that they need the support of all members of this House. In a letter from Pork Nova Scotia, which I'll table here today, they outline four points that would help their industry. Will the minister commit to bringing forward a plan in response to their needs to his Cabinet tomorrow? Tomorrow is the day that Cabinet meets, and I think they would really appreciate a positive response tomorrow afternoon.

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I have to say that the industry has been very diligent in the information that it has provided to us. Of course they are trying to make much information available to make sure that the decision that we're going to make is the correct one. Of course there is the full vision that goes with this one, one that is going to be taking this industry into the future, things that will get them further up into the market chain, making them work closer with producers, processors and those types of strategies - also one with the ledger program that we're looking forward to funding into the future. These are all

[Page 9620]

good news things, all things that will make this industry stronger, to maintain the 1,500 jobs that are available there, as well as the $30 million of farm-gate value.

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

HEALTH PROM. - MUNRO CRAFTERS GUILD: INS. - ASSIST.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. The Munro Crafters Guild in my area cannot use the schools in our area because they can't afford the insurance. They provide instruction to the students and others, and they are vital to the cultural fabric of our community. The minister announced a new policy on major events, but there is nothing for small community groups. My question to the minister is, could the minister indicate what plans are in place to help out groups like the Munro Crafters Guild pay for insurance for their events?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible for insurance.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we're not in the business of providing money to subsidize insurance rates, but I can advise the honourable member if the group that he's referring to is having difficulty obtaining insurance if he will speak to the insurance ombudsman, Mr. Jordan, I'm sure they can locate a suitable broker to provide the insurance required.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, the same answer as before - no compassion for the small groups.

These groups are asking for a venue where they can engage in their activities. They waited 25 years to have the gymnasium at the school in Boularderie, and now they can't use it. Schools and other venues are being closed to these groups because of insurance. We have a choir group that cannot put on a concert, we have the elderly ladies in the Boularderie area, the weavers and spinners, they cannot put on a fair, we have all these individuals. I addressed my question to the honourable Minister of Health Promotion simply because he's promoting healthy living and an active life, and these facilities are not available for these groups.

My question to the minister is, could the minister tell this House when groups like the Munro Crafters Guild and the choirs can expect that they will have a place where they can pursue their activities?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's way too much noise in the Chamber. It's very difficult to hear. Was that question for the Minister of Health Promotion?

[Page 9621]

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Yes.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I believe my colleague has responded to the member. Indeed these groups are very important to our local communities. There are a variety of programs that we have through various departments, including Health Promotion, including the Department of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. But if it is an insurance issue and they have a problem with it, I would certainly refer them to the ombudsman for insurance to deal with their particular issue.

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I will table a letter dated March 7, 2005 that I sent to the Honourable Rodney MacDonald, Minister of Health Promotion. It's not answered as of yet. I will also table a copy of the Munro Crafters Guild advertisement for their new location because they can't have their fair in this gymnasium. The reason I directed my question to the honourable Minister of Health Promotion is because he seems to have lots of funds for health promotion, but yet at the same time, it's these venues that are not available anymore. I did speak to the Insurance Bureau of Nova Scotia at their conference and they were only too willing to draft up a policy, a blanket policy, for all of Nova Scotia at a very reasonable rate. This is why I'm asking the Minister of Health Promotion, would he take the money out of his budget and provide a blanket policy through the Insurance Bureau of Nova Scotia so that people involved can use the facilities that they waited to create? Why is the minister avoiding this issue?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, as I said, we have a variety of programs that help out many organizations, including, perhaps, some of the organizations he has mentioned in his particular area. I know there are many organizations through Victoria-The Lakes that we've assisted throughout the past year. We look forward to assisting them in the upcoming year as well.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TPW - FOUR-WHEEL DRIVE TRUCK: HANTS EAST - ACQUIRE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, all three of my questions will be for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Every snowplow contractor in my constituency uses a four-wheel drive truck to plow driveways and parking lots, yet, last November the Department of Transportation and Public Works trucks in my constituency were stuck all over the road because we didn't have a four-wheel drive. I mean, they weren't stuck in the ditch, they were stuck on the main route. Mr. Delaney of the minister's department at that time told me that they were reviewing the department's snowplow capability and that there would probably be no changes coming forth for 2004-05, but I should see some improvement for 2005-06. I want to ask the minister, is Hants East going to get at least one four-wheel drive truck for this Winter?

[Page 9622]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not too sure whether you are or not getting a new four-wheel drive truck. The adequacy of our snowplowing right across this province is not in doubt. We have very competent drivers, very, very good machinery, we're replacing machinery at the rate of about $6 million to $8 million per year. I can assure the honourable member that all our equipment is state of the art and completely adequate.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it may be state of the art but the minister doesn't know where to draw the line. If we're going to look at the best drivers and the best equipment, then the problem must be the snow, so if the minister could do something about that, then I would really appreciate it. I would like to table, for the minister's interest, a list of roads that have been sand-sealed in Kings and Lunenburg Counties and I'm assuming the minister knows what sand-sealed means. Kings County had a total of 25.09 kilometres and Lunenburg had a total of 31.76 kilometres sand sealed yet it was impossible to get about six kilometres in Hants East done. So I have two roads in my constituency - one is the Renfrew Montavista Road, the other is the Garden Road. The Garden Road was partially paved under a previous Tory administration and a previous Conservative MLA and mysteriously the pavement stopped at the entrance of their subdivision. So this road is a thoroughfare and there's a cemetery that people have to go over a dusty, rough road. Sand sealing would help. I want to ask the minister, will he commit to having these roads sand-sealed next year?

[4:30 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I had the good fortune to live in the honourable member's riding for quite a period of time, and as a resident of his riding, I was always pleased to advise the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that the service by the ministry to Hants East was exemplary. I also, with regard to sand-sealing would like the honourable member to take 101 asphalt paving and sand-sealing, he would find that sand-sealing is very good in some particular ridings but not in others. In other words, you need a sandy base to have adequate sand-sealing and Hants East is bereft of roads that are capable of being sand-sealed.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not sure if that means that Tory riding get sand-sealing and NDP ridings don't. I want to say, the minister lived on a road that was paved under the Liberals.

My constituency has 515 kilometres of paved roads and the minister's constituency has 488 kilometres of paved roads. My constituency has 265 kilometres of gravel roads and the minister's has 77 kilometres of gravel roads. So I each time I asked about the funding comparing Hants East and Hants West, I'm told the funding is the same. How can my constituents be treated fairly, if the funding is the same when I have over 200 kilometres more roads than the minister has?

[Page 9623]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has raised this point before and I referred him to data which shows that in fact Hants East on, I think, at least two occasions anyway, in annual repaving, had more paving than Hants West. So, I don't know what he's complaining about.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HEALTH PROM.: YOUTH - PHYSICAL FITNESS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health Promotion. Everyone is talking about physical fitness of our youth. Each department has plans to make kids more active, increasing their fitness level and decreasing the strain on the health care system. My first question to the minister is, does the minister believe that activities such as dancing and swimming are a healthy and important part of a child's life in Nova Scotia?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yes.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, access to sports and recreation should be open to all children, regardless of geography and family income. Access to fitness is being denied by this government. I personally know of children who cannot get access to KidSport funding program because their swimming lessons are not a program under Sport Nova Scotia. So my question to the minister is, does this minister believe that swimming and dancing lessons should be included under KidSport funding programming?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health Promotion, you have about 10 seconds.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed I can tell you that I would certainly take a look into this issue on behalf of the member, because obviously I do support the initiatives involved.

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House leader.

[Page 9624]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: 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 Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker would you please call Bill No. 269.

Bill No. 269 - The Off-highway Vehicles Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, I am certainly pleased today to rise and speak and address the very important public policy issue that Bill No. 269 incorporates and that is the bill is stating that "Subsection 3(2) of Chapter 323 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Off-highway Vehicles Act, is amended by adding 'but at least fourteen years of age' immediately after 'age' in the second line." This is the position that our Party is unequivocally taking and that is, no child under age 14 shall operate an ATV, and that's regardless of size.

Today we saw that this is indeed an issue that all Nova Scotians are now taking a look at. Where will this government go? I am certainly pleased that our bill has indeed forced the hand of government to act in this area and it is now a hope that the Law Amendments Committee will, in fact, toughen up the legislation that was brought forth yesterday.

The Canadian medical research indicates that children, in fact, under 16 do not have the judgment, the maturity or the physical strength to operate these machines. This is why we are moving to having no children under 14 years of age operate these machines.

Once again, really the sum and substance for this bill came out of the all-important Off-highway Vehicle Task Force. Voluntary Planning did a very exhaustive piece of research to give government the guidance that they should take forward and put into legislation. The Age of Drivers section in their report states, "Driver's licences endorsed for off-highway vehicle use should be used to impose age restrictions on participants to this activity. While fully licensed drivers should be 16 years of age and older, those aged 14 and 15 should have the opportunity to drive under strict conditions." Under 14 would not be permitted under the guidelines that the Voluntary Planning task force brought forth.

Again, they're using medical and safety organizations. We know there were three or four, like Child Safety Link, the Canadian Paediatric Society, obviously Doctors Nova Scotia, the IWK medical staff - all of these had their voice presented to the Voluntary Planning task force. They said, medical and safety organizations, enforcement agencies and an impressive number of individual responses supported our position that the cognitive and

[Page 9625]

physical capabilities of children are simply not sufficiently developed for them to consistently use these machines safely, competently and responsibly.

That's the kind of information that we used to become the basis of the bill that we introduced on Tuesday of this week. It is one that we had hoped would come forward in a stand alone manner. Now we know that we have to use the process of the House through the Law Amendments Committee to get this position incorporated into legislation that is before the House and probably will move forward.

I would also like to draw attention to what Newfoundland and Labrador has done in terms of legislation. In the year 2003, when they started to look at their present legislation, they were certainly noting tremendous increases in the number of accidents and the number of fatalities to those who were under 16 years of age. So Newfoundland moved fairly quickly. They did the consultation and without question they found that 87 per cent of Newfoundlanders supported much more stringent regulations that indeed would guide government with the legislation they brought forward. Their legislation does have a ban of any size ATV being used in the province and 14- and 15-year-olds only would be able to use those up to 90 ccs, which is a relatively smaller machine.

That being said, and there has been a lot of emphasis around that particular area, if the machines are smaller for children under 14 years of age, that could be acceptable, but actually the scientific evidence shows that, in fact, if we were to allow children under 14 to use smaller-sized machines, it is only a reduction of 18 per cent in terms of injuries. Looking at how they have escalated, they have certainly escalated dramatically across the country.

In fact, we're talking about statistics just from the year 2000 onwards and this is being noted by the Canadian Medical Association. Also we're talking about a release by GPI Atlantic today which also noted the dramatic increase in injuries. GPI's statistics talk about off-road vehicles - 96 in 2003 - accidents rose by 95 per cent; also fatalities with a starting point of four in 1996, the annual rate remained between one and five through the successive period. However, the incidents on off-road vehicles involved in accidents resulting in injuries increased by 150 per cent over this period.

It is interesting to note that, in fact, the three provinces with the highest statistical picture are Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta. So it is indeed time to take a look at what the task force has told Nova Scotians and also, what the medical community from one end of this province to the other has clearly indicated - I do want to draw attention from one end of the province to the other.

[Page 9626]

Today in The Cape Breton Post, as I noted in Question Period, Dr. Andrew Ling, in reaction to government's bill yesterday, he started off by saying: We are not dealing with toys. The Hamm Government announced its plan to add restrictions that will allow youth aged 14 and 15 to operate an off-road vehicle as long as they have parental supervision and a training certificate. However, I am not convinced it's going to make a difference.

We're still going to see serious injuries and deaths. There has been no decision to ban the vehicles for those under the age of 14. I am not sure what it's going to take. I certainly don't want to talk about what indeed may happen. I, personally, as a coach and educator, have attended two funerals involving children younger than 12 years of age. We know that even small vehicles, of 100 pounds or 200 pounds, are going to do serious damage to a child. There is simply no contest when they roll over on a child.

Just this week IWK doctors certainly made a very strong and passionate appeal to legislators in this province, legislators of all Parties, to take a look at the very, very compelling evidence that they have tracked over the last five years where substantive injuries have increased threefold during this period of time. They are now seeing between 20 and 40 trauma-type cases at the IWK and we know only the worst go there. As Dr. Allen, who lives in Pomquet and practices in Antigonish, said, we screen probably 60 per cent to 70 per cent through our emergency room and intensive care, and she has certainly noted in her practice an increase. To that effect, Doctors Nova Scotia came with a statement today. They are disappointed with government's position on ATV use.

[4:45 p.m.]

Doctors Nova Scotia is disappointed with government's decision to not impose an age restriction on the use of all-terrain vehicles. The doctors, of course, want it to be 16 years of age, our bill calls for 14. It had wide consultation across the province and this, in fact, is a very balanced position, but 14- and 15-year-olds would have to be supervised, and the supervision would be well laid out as to what that constitutes. It would in fact be a training time, practical training courses for 14- and 15-year-olds on small-sized machines.

I want to enter these into the House. We also had, of course, from the Yarmouth medical staff that they as well categorically said that they want to see the age at 16 years. They made that well known last week. They said contrary to comments attributed to Natural Resources Minister Hurlburt in the October 27th issue of The Daily News, Yarmouth Regional Hospital doctors are not in favour of his department's legislation regarding all-terrain vehicles. As president of the Yarmouth Regional Hospital medical staff, we do not consider ATVs a safe or healthy recreational choice for children - again, they talk about 16. Our experiences with ATV accidents in our emergency room cause us to fear accidents such as occurred yesterday - and of course he was referring to the very tragic event that took place in our province.

[Page 9627]

We need to give the most thoughtful consideration to this bill that we have brought before the House. Also we are hearing mounting evidence, as well, from parents. I was at an event last weekend, and from a very rural community, Lake Paul, a mother with a 13-year-old said, I want to thank you for the position you've taken. We have been able to resist our child's request to be on our ATV. However, good legislation can in fact be an enormous tool to help parents right across this province, because regulation has been shown to be an important education and instruction tool as well - it establishes a high standard.

Let me tell you, Nova Scotians, parents, enforcement officers, and everybody in fact will adhere to good strong legislation, and that's where we need to be. The time has come for Nova Scotia to follow the strong legislation that is in Newfoundland and Labrador, and we're going to see grow across Canada. The statistics are so compelling against the current position that government has taken. In fact it's going to now, I think, reopen, unfortunately, all of the work that the task force put forth, but hopefully perhaps, coming through a second time, we will see a strong piece of legislation that will come out of the Chamber here that Nova Scotians are expecting. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Madam Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise in my place today as the MLA for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Members on this side of the House believe in the safe operation of off-highway vehicles. I think I would be remiss if I didn't congratulate the honourable Minister of Natural Resources for bringing forward legislation that will address the concerns that Nova Scotians have. We have a lot of respect and time for the medical fraternity out there, we have a lot of time and respect for the Opposition, however we on this side of the House believe that Nova Scotians have rights, they have privileges, and there are times for government to lead and stop trying to be all things to all people. It's absolutely impossible to do that.

Madam Speaker, the Minister of Natural Resources recently introduced a bill that amends the Off-highway Vehicles Act to restrict the operation of off-highway vehicles. The point that has to be made here today is that this has been a very difficult file. The Minister of Natural Resources and this government have treaded where other governments haven't had the courage or the guts to go. From 1993 until 1999, the Liberal Government must have been aware of off-highway vehicles. They didn't just pop up yesterday or the day before. So this government has brought forward Bill No. 275.

If you read the explanatory notes relative to Bill No. 275 - and each member of this House has a copy of that piece of legislation - it requires operators 16 and over to take safety training unless exempted by the regulations. The Liberals, especially the Liberals, would have you believe that parents in rural Nova Scotia would encourage youngsters irrespective of age to jump on big machines - 400 to 500 to 600 cc. Now, the cc is the cubic centimetres

[Page 9628]

of the engine. When I was a youngster growing up, we talked about engines in cubic inch size, but today it's cc. Through regulations, I understand, my government will put in place parameters and the cc will be proportional to age and that's very important. The Liberals don't want to hear about that and perhaps, to a lesser degree unfortunately, some members of the media don't want to hear that.

What we're doing is responsible. The Liberals didn't have the courage, the gumption or the wherewithal to do it when they were in government. So now, they are berating and criticizing this government and the Minister of Natural Resources who has taken a stand. He has taken a stand on a very difficult file and I commend the Minister of Natural Resources for doing that. (Applause)

We as well - it kind of gets lost in the shuffle a little bit - will require the permission from owners or occupiers of land. (Interruption) Yes, written permission will be required. I know the member for Hants East had some concerns about that. I have concerns about that.

I have to tell you, my wife and I, when our son, Trevor, passed Grade 4, I believe it was, we bought him a used mini-bike. Now, unfortunately, all off-highway vehicles are lumped into the ATV category, but for passing we gave our young fellow a mini-bike. He became so acquainted and comfortable and confident on that machine, that it was somewhat similar to me sitting down and having a game of checkers with my father; he was very comfortable and confident riding the mini-bike. Then, I think it was Grade 7 when he passed, he maybe got a Kawasaki 80. Once again, we felt those machines weren't overpowered for the youngster. I believe today, that parents and guardians have to have that same ability.

Rural Nova Scotia is under siege. Farmers are feeling overwhelmed, forest workers are feeling overwhelmed, miners, et cetera, et cetera. For goodness sakes, let's not bring them under siege because the NDP and the Liberals feel that they have to intervene where they shouldn't be. Give your head a shake. Carefully look at what you're trying to do to rural Nova Scotia. Let Nova Scotians decide if they want to put one of their young people on a mini bike, a trail bike, a dirt bike, a snowmobile. What you're trying to do is take away a right, a privilege, a tradition that was enjoyed for years. We have brought in training requirements. There has to be accreditation today. We've taken very positive responsible steps and sometimes that gets lost in the shuffle.

I've been around for a little time in the Legislature - and I know, and I'm as guilty, if you will, or culpable of firing off some rhetoric from time to time, and we all do that - but this is too serious an issue to try to lay blame and point fingers. We all feel very upset and we certainly extend our sympathy and condolences to the families of the girls who died so tragically down in Rines Creek. I live not too far from that highway where the accident took place. We all feel absolutely sad about that tragic incident and you can put - in fact, I have had people very close to those families say to me, and I hope and trust that they've had some

[Page 9629]

conversations with other honourable members - all the laws of the land in place, but you can't stop things from happening. There will be tragic consequences.

In fact, in Quebec - and I hoped today to have a piece of correspondence - we are told, in the three years since they banned off-highway vehicle uses to people under 14 years of age, actually death and injuries have increased. I do apologize that I don't have the necessary documents, so you can consider that anecdotal at this point, but this is what we are hearing, that actually deaths and injuries have increased. So, while we have made incredible steps and gone where no other governments have had the courage to go, all I'm saying is that this member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would have difficulty supporting legislation that is somehow more restrictive, somehow watered down to take the rights and privilege away from Nova Scotians - and it's not just rural Nova Scotians.

You can head on your way home out of the city at any particular time, especially on a Friday, you'll see the folks in the urban areas, in metropolitan Halifax, heading for the country, and look in the back of their trucks and they might have a four-wheeler.

Through the minister and this government we are putting in responsible regulations to accompany this legislation, and it's a positive step, but if you want to bring the proverbial hammer down and ban this, then I have to ask, what's next? What next don't you like over there? What next are you going to set your sights on? I can't support further restrictions on Nova Scotians and rural Nova Scotians. There are a lot of issues and challenges facing rural Nova Scotians and one of the challenges they're facing right now is the onslaught of the Liberals and the NDP over this issue. Give your heads a shake. I say with respect, give your heads a shake.

We believe, on this side of the House, that a ban on under-14 operators is unrealistic; it's nearly, I believe, unenforceable. It would be counterproductive and what we're saying is through training, through education, we teach all members, it's not exclusive to the PC Party. I surely would hope that there's training that goes on with the upbringing of children of members opposite. There's a lot of training that takes place and that's what the key is and this minister has recognized that and this government has recognized it.

Madam Speaker, I want to share some of my time with the honourable member for Eastern Shore. He has some very strong concerns about this issue, but please understand that on this side of the House we believe in the rights and privileges of Nova Scotians, especially the Nova Scotians who are going to be impacted by further restrictions on a real good piece of legislation.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

[Page 9630]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Madam Speaker, to my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, thank you for your comments today. I stand in my place as representative of the Eastern Shore and I'd like to at this time thank the Minister of Natural Resources for his vision and for his stamina and also for his direction to this caucus.

Tonight, we know, before the House we have Bill No. 269, and our government has presented a bill, Bill No. 275. There are differences between those bills, but limited differences. I think it's the view of all caucus members in this House that safety is a major concern. I believe it's the views of all members in this House that we want to protect, not just children or underage operators of the off-road vehicles, but all operators of all off-road vehicles. First of all, it's not just ATVs that we're discussing here this evening, it's also our Ski-Doos, our mini-bikes, as the good member had said earlier in his presentation. This brings great concern to me. As the member said, we have a lifestyle that we appreciate. We have a lifestyle that we want to continue enjoying the things that are to our benefit. But in saying that, there always has to be a balance. The balance in life. Can we legislate safety? No. Can we legislate common sense? No, Madam Speaker. We cannot do that, but one thing we can do is we can offer people who are open to learn. I think this bill, Bill No. 275, actually demonstrates that this government is responsible in teaching those people who are under the age of 16 years, the appropriate process and procedures of operating vehicles.

[5:00 p.m.]

When this legislation passes - and it will - there will be amendments. They'll either pass or they will not. There will certainly be tremendous dialogue in a process we call the Law Amendments Committee, that's where people have an opportunity to come to this House and voice their concerns. I suggest that they should, but I have to tell you it's all about striking a balance. It's all about what will the public view in this legislation? Is it better to train and to teach someone underage and to permit them to operate under the supervision of a guardian? Or, would you prefer them to be somewhat irresponsible and take that vehicle out on their own and go for a joyride?

It's very clear in Bill No. 275 that if a person is under the direct supervision of that parent or guardian and within the sight of that parent or guardian, they will be allowed to operate their off-road vehicle. That means that if a young person, I think this is about 14 and under, if that young person is under the supervision of his or her guardian and has been schooled - when we talk about supervision, we talk about in sight of. That basically means the guardian or mom and dad are actually out on the back porch or in the back field and watching the individual operate that vehicle.

These are the things that we must understand. I want to create a balance. I do not want young people unsupervised. I do not want people not trained or educated in the proper procedure of handling these vehicles. I think this government is responsible in taking this aggressive approach. I think this government is standing tall in addressing the issue. I believe

[Page 9631]

that the members from the caucus across the way, there are members over there, are confused about this issue. They know they represent rural areas. They know they want to allow their constituents to enjoy the things that we enjoy in the rural area. But, I believe some of the members have their hands tied because of the view of the Party.

So, Madam Speaker, I say in closing that I do understand and respect Bill No. 275. I do suggest that this House should reconsider as we go through this process. I should say that the people in Nova Scotia should come to the Law Amendments Committee and make their views known to the committee. This is what this process is all about, finding out from Nova Scotians. The ATV clubs will come, the medical society will come, individual mothers and fathers will come, users - young men and women - of the machines will come and they will express their views.

It is important that this government has at least outlined a document that's achievable. This document is balanced. This document is a document which people should be able to live with. I'm telling you, you cannot legislate responsibility, but you certainly can legislate education and through education we will learn and be safe. Thank you.

MADAM SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Madam Speaker, I want to say that, I thought when I woke up this morning, it was the 21st Century. The member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley really makes me think that the thinking in this House hasn't really progressed very much. I'll address some of his concerns.

We actually were interested in supporting the Liberal bill, to see it go through to the Law Amendments Committee, if that was possible, if the government would be interested in doing that. I guess we all know that's something that's not going to happen.

What I want to indicate to the member who spoke on this, the member for Kings West, is that the Liberal bill doesn't actually restrict people under 14, the only place that is even mentioned is in the addendum to the bill that indicates what the clauses are saying, and it indicates that "Clause 3 adds conditions to the Act respecting the operation of off-highway vehicles by person between the ages of fourteen and sixteen years and creates an offence respecting owners or operators who permit those younger than sixteen to operate such a vehicle in contravention of the Act." That's the only place that even mentions anybody under 14 years of age. There's nowhere else in the actual bill that that's raised. I see that as a bit of a flaw with the bill from the member for Kings West. In his analysis of their legislation, he indicates that that's what this legislation does. It actually doesn't do that at all.

[Page 9632]

The bill could be amended, and it could be amended certainly by the Liberals. The bill says, "No person who is under the age of sixteen years shall operate an off-highway vehicle and no person who owns or has control of an off-highway vehicle shall permit the operation of the off-highway vehicle by a person under the age of sixteen years unless . . ." Then it has three criteria under which that could happen. That's fine, I think it was good that they spelled this out, but in the first one, "the person who is under the age of sixteen years, has a youth-class learner's licence issued pursuant to the regulations." The bill doesn't have regulations. So the question is, if you were going to address the issue of age why wouldn't you put it in the bill? This is something that I've heard the Liberals argue with the government. Why are you leaving this particular item, whatever the legislation might be, to regulation? Why not put it right in the bill, or why not have the regulations drafted at the time that you introduce the bill?

That doesn't mean that indicating that in the regulations is not possible, it definitely is, but it's not indicated in the legislation here before us tonight, which is the case that the Liberals are trying to make. The premise on this legislation, I think, the indication by the clauses that clarify what the bill is to do, that definitely indicates that this is an interest that the Liberals have, it's just that the bill actually isn't written to indicate that in the actual legislation. I have a bit of a problem. I support the premise, and I would support this bill to go forward to be amended to make that change. I applaud them for being willing to go down this road.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley - well, I guess being a member from rural Nova Scotia you can sometimes get the feeling that there's umpteen too many regulations or rules that impact on your life. I want to say that I have never been of the opinion, certainly as a politician and as a politician who would like to be on the government side of the House, that writing legislation that impacts the lives of the people of Nova Scotia in terms of safety is something that we couldn't do or shouldn't do. We have speed limits, we have stop signs, we have seat belt legislation, we have helmet legislation, all of the legislation or laws are created for the safety of our citizens. That's legislation that's been before the people of Nova Scotia for some years now, and the members opposite, I would assume, would be aware of it, unless they're getting more speeding tickets than anybody else in the province.

So government does have a role, it does have a role to play Big Brother and to actually write laws that protect people. Well, I hear the member saying to me that we are. One thing I do believe is that you should seek expert advice when it comes to drafting legislation. What this process has done is it has gone to the public, it's asked for input through the Voluntary Planning process and now it has going to go to the Law Amendments Committee and ask for input from the public. So we're going to get public input twice for this piece of legislation.

[Page 9633]

I can't be overly critical actually of the idea of this going to the Law Amendments Committee because I've been here long enough to know that's a process in this House and to have the public come and speak to bills. I think that's an important process. But that doesn't mean the government actually couldn't have written a bill far more closely related to the recommendations of the Voluntary Planning task force and then put that out to the public and have them make suggestions or recommendations through the Law Amendments Committee.

What the government has done is really tried to sidestep this issue as much as possible. I can't be sure, other than the pressure from a variety of groups and one of those was there earlier today at the press conference so maybe it's pressure from all of these organizations that brought the province to actually make their announcement a couple of weeks ago on their plan. Well, we know where that went. That went over like a lead balloon. So the reaction by the province to the Voluntary Planning task force is one that anybody who's been watching this process was expecting more and didn't get it.

I think the government has been feeling the heat. They felt the heat when that interim report came out and the title was, Out of Control. Right off the bat, members on the government side - no, it's not, it's not out of control. Here were people who volunteered their time to listen to what the public had to say and that's what the public was saying. So, right off the bat, the government side started to distance itself from its own Voluntary Planning task force.

Now, by way of background information - I want to be sure I don't run out of time - across Canada the injuries resulting from off-highway vehicle use are significant. For the years 2001-02 a total of 283 Canadians died from injuries related to off-highway vehicles - 30 of these fatalities were children between the ages of one and 14 years. In the 2001-02 fiscal year, 2,535 Canadians were hospitalized due to ATV injuries alone - 36 per cent of these were children and youth. This represents a 50 per cent increase since 1996-97. The greatest increases were seen in the Provinces of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Alberta. By comparison, injuries due to automobile crashes dropped by 14 per cent over the same period of time.

Off-highway vehicles are the number one cause of recreation-related major injuries in Canada, representing 30 per cent of sports and recreation injuries in 2001-02. By comparison, cycling, which is done by a far greater number of people, resulted in only 19 per cent of such injuries. It was the Premier himself who linked this to riding bicycles. They see more injuries from people riding bicycles. Well, the evidence doesn't indicate that. The evidence indicates something far worse.

[Page 9634]

From 1991 to 2003, 105 Nova Scotia children under the age of 16 required hospitalization for injuries related to all-terrain vehicles at the IWK Health Centre. The vast majority of these were serious orthopaedic or head injuries or both - 20 per cent required treatment in the Intensive Care Unit. Large studies from the United States have shown that the number of injuries from ATVs have been increasing dramatically over the past years in all age groups. For those between the ages of 12 and 15, injuries have increased by 76 per cent between 1997 and 2001 while injuries for children under the age of six years have more than doubled. Injuries of children under the age of six years.

[5:15 p.m.]

Over the past five years the average number of children admitted per year to the IWK for ATV injuries has also increased, almost tripling compared to the previous years. In the Summer of 2003, just before the task force was struck, one-quarter of the trauma patients admitted to the IWK Intensive Care Unit, were injured from all-terrain vehicles, which was similar to the number injured in automobile crashes. Compare the 40,000 all-terrain vehicles in the province to the number of automobiles, how much is the difference?

Between 2000-2003, four Nova Scotian children have died from injuries related to all-terrain vehicles, representing 40 per cent of all-terrain vehicle deaths. Over the same period of time, several children have become seriously disabled from head injuries related to all-terrain vehicles. These serious injuries are not just limited to Nova Scotia. In Alberta, over the past five years, 34 people have died from all-terrain vehicle injuries, 13 of these under the age of 16 years.

The argument that more children are injured riding bicycles or playing baseball, while this is true, it is only part of the story. Many more children ride bikes and play baseball than operate ATVs, and, more notably, the majority of these injuries are minor, do not require hospitalization and do not result in death. Both the rate of injuries and the degree of seriousness of injuries is much higher in ATV use. Several studies have shown that ATV injuries are far more severe than other recreation-related injuries, such as cycling. For example, they are twelve times more likely to result in hospital admission and six times more likely to result in death than bicycle injuries. (Interruptions) I only have a couple of minutes.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley would point his finger at the members of the Opposition, and I don't know whether he thinks that we're fear-mongering or what it is that his contention is, that we're attacking rural Nova Scotia. There has been no administration that has attacked rural Nova Scotia than the Tory Government has since 1999. They've done it in agriculture. They've done it everywhere they could. They've done it to seniors. They've done it to rural gas station owners. No help coming for them.

[Page 9635]

What I want the members to know is that it's up to us to do the right thing. Some people are not responsible. That's why you have laws. A locked door only keeps out an honest man. So you have to write laws to protect people, and that's our job. So I think that it's time to step up to the plate, to ensure that the laws you write actually protect people in this province, and one of the major investments we have, Mr. Speaker, is our children.

So if anybody can stand by and think that the laws - the members opposite, the Tory Government - are going to really protect children, they're delusional. I think they have a responsibility to see - even with the best of laws we may not be able to save everybody, but certainly we have taken the best we can do to ensure that fewer and fewer will be injured or killed. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, this is a very emotional topic for a lot of people. I know when I was a regional councillor with HRM it was a problem in my riding and I can remember one afternoon a gentleman called me in horror and said, look, I was just driving up one of the roads in my area. He was doing the speed limit, 70 kilometres an hour, and two young kids on two separate ATVs drove past him like he was stopped and did wheelies as they were going by him. Now, is that responsible? I guess the answer is, this government wouldn't have presented their bill, period, if there wouldn't have been two deaths to force them to do it, which is a shame. The pressure we put on with our bill, Bill No. 269, to make sure they'll do this - the doctors are saying it's too dangerous for young people - to get these people to do something is long overdue.

You go along and you talk about responsibility. You see young people, I've had all kinds of complaints about young people under 16 destroying property with ATVs, doing doughnuts on people's properties, and the list goes on and on and on. So it's a lack of responsibility. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said a ban would increase deaths or injuries. When did he ever become an expert and disagree with doctors who live with this every day and see the injuries? I don't know where he gets his information from, but I would sure like to see it and I'm sure the doctors in Nova Scotia would like to see it, too.

It's an important factor to have education with ATVs. ATVs are powerful machines. Some of the ATVs on the road today have more horsepower than some of the small cars on the road. Now, can you imagine, you turn a small kid loose with these machines, as I've seen over and over again, with a car on the road and see what will happen. We don't let kids under 16 drive cars on the road. I mean even kids at 16 on the road is a serious situation. You see the insurance rates are right through the roof for young people, around 16 to 25, they're driving cars that show that they have no . . .

[Page 9636]

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member for Preston is implying that these off-highway vehicles are used on the road. They're not allowed (Interruption) Where are they allowed on the road? He's implying that they are allowed on the road now, they're not allowed on the road. They're off-highway vehicles. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: That's not a point of order.

The member for Preston.

MR. COLWELL: Well, I'm really pleased that that member rose on that supposed point of order. I can tell you that in my area the young kids are driving the ATVs on the road and there's no law in place to prevent them. The RCMP, I could tell you for a fact, will pick these vehicles up (Interruptions)

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member for Preston is implying that they're allowed to be driven on our highways. They're not allowed to be driven on our highways. It's against the law to be driven on our highways.

MR. SPEAKER: Again, that's not a point of order. It's a difference of opinion between two members.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, if they will allow me to finish, I will finish what the story is here. The young kids are driving these things on the highway, which we've seen, which the RCMP in my area have picked up. You seize the machine, you take it down to an impound yard - $155 - and 24 hours later the young kid is out on the road with the machine again. That's the fact, that's the law, and that's how it works. I can tell you for sure because I'm the one, when the regional municipality worked with the RCMP and the Halifax Regional Police to set up a task force to tackle these things, and again and again and again picked these machines up - a $155 fine - and the kids are out on the street again. This is the problem and this government definitely would not have brought their bill forward if they had not been under pressure from all different areas.

Our Party and our caucus are focused on one thing and one thing only - it's the safety of our children in this province and that's critical, no matter if you're in rural Nova Scotia or urban Nova Scotia. These things are dangerous in the wrong hands and you get these big machines - I was watching an advertisement on the television the other day from Bombardier and they were showing drag racing these things, for an example, and they very clearly said in the advertisement this is a closed track, this is not to be tried by anybody, but it showed how powerful and how fast these things are with two people on them. These are scary machines if they're not handled properly.

[Page 9637]

You saw years ago all the debate over snowmobiles, and the snowmobile industry, I can tell you, has done a great job. They've worked through their associations and have done work. However, the ATV industry sure didn't do that because they can ride them a longer time of the year and when a kid comes home from school, he hops on this machine and takes off. I can tell you this happens in my area and it's a major, major, major problem, and not only in my area, but other areas. Can you imagine, you know, the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley said his son has got a little mini-bike. That's great. The only thing I can ask that member is, how would he feel if his son killed himself on that machine? (Interruptions)

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. That's a derogatory comment. How do you think I would feel if my son was killed on a motorcycle or anything else? You should be ashamed of yourself. Why didn't you guys do something when you were in power? You did absolutely nothing and this government is trying to do something in the name of safety and you have the audacity to stand there and criticize it. You guys did nothing; you did absolutely nothing. I ask you, Mr. Speaker, to ask him to withdraw that type of derogatory comment. I've never heard such mumbo-jumbo in the House in my life.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, member. Again, that is not a point of order.

The honourable member for Preston has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I asked you to ask that member to withdraw that kind of derogatory comment.

AN HON. MEMBER: You can't tell the Speaker what to do. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order. You raised a point of order, and it's not a point of order.

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raised a good question, you know, why didn't we do something in the past? Well, in the past this wasn't such a big problem. For six years those guys did nothing, absolutely nothing. They sat on their thumbs and they wouldn't be doing anything today with the bill they introduced if there hadn't been some difficulties in the community, very unfortunate difficulties that happened. (Interruptions) You can lobby me all you want, you can complain all you want, but the facts are that if there hadn't been those two very unfortunate deaths in this community, it's very unlikely this other bill would have come forward - that's an awful thing to have to say in this House, but it's the truth.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to move second reading of Bill No. 269.

[Page 9638]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to join the debate on Bill No. 269. I heard numerous comments here. I heard a comment from the member from Hants. We are legislators and we are here to do the right thing for Nova Scotians. That is why I tabled a bill, Bill No. 275, to do the right things for Nova Scotians.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, parents have rights too. They have the right to make their decisions, what's right for their children on their own properties.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear!

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, farmers have rights. They have rights to manage their own property and that is why we included in our bill, Bill No. 275, to have written permission. We have listened to the task force. We have implemented 37 of the 39 recommendations. We have increased the age limit to 16. We have brought in legislation for 14- and 15-year-old children to be 100 per cent supervised, to have the proper training and to have the proper gear.

Mr. Speaker, the only addition that this government put on, they had the foresight to see that people have the rights on their own property to raise their children the way they see fit in a proper and decent manner.

SOME HON. MEMBERS: Hear! Hear! (Applause)

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, I take offence. I raised three sons and all my three sons have operated off-highway vehicles, farm tractors and heavy equipment, but they did it in a safe and proper manner. I wouldn't want anybody to take that right from me, as a parent, the same as I do not want to take that from any parent. We have to do the right thing and protect all Nova Scotians.

Is my time up?

MR. SPEAKER: You have 10 seconds.

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, we talk about the bill, well, under Bill No. 275 we will take the time and put the regulations that are the proper regulations for all Nova Scotians . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Your time has expired. The time for debate on Bill No. 269 has expired.

[Page 9639]

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 227, the Public Utilities Act.

Bill No. 227 - Public Utilities Act.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Liberal caucus welcomes this opportunity to raise the concerns about the unjust rate increase application by Nova Scotia Power. Nova Scotians are telling us that they do not want a rate increase, as rate increases will have a negative impact on individuals, families, businesses and non-profit groups. Electricity is not a luxury item. An increase in electricity rates will directly impact all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, already confronted with an array of increases in the cost of daily necessities, Nova Scotians are now confronted with Nova Scotia Power's proposed increase to electricity rates for a second time in one year. Nova Scotians are telling us they don't want an increase in electricity rates. An annual increase represents more than a week's worth of groceries for a young family - less money to spend on necessities such as medications or fuel for their car, or it may mean a young child will not be able to pay for hockey or other extracurricular activities each year. These are choices Nova Scotians should not have to make. This is precisely, Mr. Speaker, why NSP should not be able to ask for an increase this year.

[5:30 p.m.]

It's been said time and time again that the URB process is a process that will wind its way through the judicial process that it employs, that people will go and be heard, and then somewhere between what NSP is looking for and what the traffic will bear, if you will, an increase is struck. People have said to me, well, yes, but the URB's decisions are final. No, they're not. This government set that precedent. This government decided to overturn a decision of the URB already, in the case of Chester. Whenever it's politically popular for this government to overturn a decision of the URB, they have no problem doing it. As a matter of fact, Mr. Speaker, they did it to win an election down in Chester. That's what they do. So much for the autonomy of the URB as it concerns this government.

Mr. Speaker, for businesses and non-profit groups electricity costs are often a significant portion of their expenses. Businesses that choose to stay here, despite increased electricity rates, may have to cut jobs or might not expand or replace infrastructure that would allow them to continue to be competitive. A less competitive business means fewer jobs. Businesses considering setting up shop in Nova Scotia may be scared away if these

[Page 9640]

large rate increases are accepted. I can tell you that some of the people I've talked to are really concerned about their bottom line, their marginal bottom line, as it is today, and the impact that any major increase, or any increase at all, in Nova Scotia Power rates will have, on their bottom line, their marginal bottom line, in the coming year. Some businesses will be out of business if power rates go up in this province.

Mr. Speaker, non-profit groups, which play a vital role in our community, could also be squeezed out by increased electricity rates. Sports arenas, church halls and other places used by non-profits will inevitably pass higher electricity costs on to non-profit groups in the form of higher rental fees, which they simply can't afford. So some of them will be out of business if power rates keep going up in Nova Scotia. Any increase in rates will therefore impact all aspects of Nova Scotians' lives at home, at work and in the community.

Nova Scotia Power argues that this rate application is about fuel costs, and while they have had a legal right to recover their costs from their customers, they simply do not have a case in applying twice in one year. Indeed, it's time the shareholders of Nova Scotia Power maybe took a hit instead of consumers in this province. That would be refreshing, if the people who are owners today of Nova Scotia Power, a monopoly, would say, enough is enough for the consumers of this province. We're going to do something for the consumers of Nova Scotia, and we're going to withdraw any increase and perhaps look within the company to effect savings.

Although the province is an intervener, Mr. Speaker, in the rate hearings, they appear not to recognize the role they play in Nova Scotia Power's application for an increase. The Government of Nova Scotia has failed to put in place adequate programs to enable low-income Nova Scotians or Nova Scotians on fixed incomes to cope with the high electricity costs associated with heating their homes. The government's recent ad hoc fuel rebate program and randomly distributed boxes of energy-saving supplies fails to recognize that electricity is expensive and that Nova Scotians heating their homes with electricity are equally affected by the increasing cost of fossil fuels.

The fuels used to create electricity - oil, gas and coal - have all increased in price. By not taking this into consideration, Mr. Speaker, the government has failed to recognize the full extent of the problem. Nova Scotia Power should seriously consider implementing a rate increase program, similar to that offered by the other Emera utility, Bangor Hydro. The program required, by legislation, to be available to all Nova Scotians regardless of whether or not the customer has outstanding arrears. Nova Scotia Power should not be allowed to ask for a rate increase until they are compelled to offer a low-income program through this Legislature - help those in need in this province. I think that Nova Scotia Power, as well as the government, has a responsibility to do that.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians have told us clearly that they do not want to pay higher electricity rates when there are serious questions about the adequacy of Nova Scotia Power's

[Page 9641]

infrastructure, another problem they're facing. Rates are going up, service is going down. That is not satisfactory for consumers in this province, and it's not satisfactory, and it should not be satisfactory, to legislators here in this place and to the constituents they represent.

Mr. Speaker, in winding up my talk on this today, I just want to say again that the decision of the URB is not a final decision. The decision of the URB is subject to the political whims of the government, as was shown in the Chester case. They reversed a decision of the URB for political purposes, and I suggest to you that if that happens in this rate hearing, that the URB are granted an increase this year, for the second time in a year, then this government, through this minister and this Premier, should overturn that decision and protect the consumers of Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank my honourable colleague for bringing this bill before the House, Bill No. 227, Public Utilities Act. I do want to speak, as well, to the intent of the Liberal bill. When you look at it, it's really to limit Nova Scotia Power to one rate increase per year. It's a very simple bill. It's a one-sentence bill. So I'd like to speak specifically to what their intent is because I don't disagree with their intent. I know that has been echoed. I think I've heard, with regard to some of the other intentions - I know the member for Halifax Chebucto has had a bill with regard to some things that I've said to the media, that the spirit and intent I don't disagree with.

I will concur with my honourable colleague in the House, the member for Cape Breton South, that his bill in terms of having one rate application, or a limit to that, is reasonable. I do believe there's more detail that would have to be in place and built on that legislation. I would commit to the honourable member and others in the House that while I cannot support a bill that is limited right now, because there are other details associated with it, I don't disagree that it can be built on. I recognize what the Liberal intention of the bill is, and I would say that government and all legislators will want to build on that bill.

Mr. Speaker, there are issues that are of concern to everyone. No one in an elected office ever wants to be in a situation where ratepayers have to have increases. Everyone knows that any power rate increase is unpopular. It's a question of is it fair in relation to the conditions that have created an application in the first place. That's where the URB has its job and its role. That's why during Question Period I've committed and said we will be an intervener, we'll expect the board to do its job, and we expect them to do just that.

However, Mr. Speaker, we will try to build on what are some of the wider details necessary with regard to rate applications. For instance, at what point in the year should a rate application be received, in terms of the process that the board would have to go through, in terms of what is the best time of year with regard to any rate increases or adjustments taking effect? I think it's reasonable for ratepayers, in the normal planning process, to need to have

[Page 9642]

that assurance. For instance, people do not want to see rate increases come into being during the peak season of the year, especially when they've been planning.

I think there needs to be a recognition of what the timing should be around that. I think we have the ability, Mr. Speaker, to accommodate some of the desire of the Liberal caucus with regard to this bill. I think we have an ability to provide for more planning as well, through legislation, by being more comprehensive, by dealing with the details around this. We can provide the URB with the framework and direction for them to go about exercising and executing their duties under legislation in a more effective manner. So we do have a responsibility and part of that is dealing with the interim pressures that have resulted, especially around energy pricing.

Energy pricing has been something that everyone has been concerned about, especially those in greatest need, and that's why the government has a $35 million energy response for Nova Scotians in the Keep the Heat program. We also recognize that the best kilowatt hour is the one that you don't use, and so conservation and efficiency measures are going to be extremely important for all Nova Scotians and again, it applies, not just in Nova Scotia households, to businesses, to not-for-profits. This is something, Mr. Speaker, we're committed to working on with them and ensuring that we build on this and I know that the Utility and Review Board will exercise and execute its duties in a very diligent manner that they will see that the current rate application is vetted and is considered and reported in a very prudent manner. We will also ensure that Nova Scotians are well served by their Utility and Review Board with any rate application.

Again, to the intent of Bill No. 227, it is only reasonable that there only be consideration once a year, that there be some planning, that there be some cycles that allow people to build up a case. Also, that people understand at what point in time are the financial performance and records of the utility made public so that the public can actually see the performance of the utility, to see what investment it has made. Mr. Speaker, part of the green energy framework for Nova Scotia, as we indicated - over the next 15 years, in excess of $3 billion - it's to try to build more integrity and reliability and diversification within the utility and our energy-supply network so that we can stabilize rates, so that we're more immune and less affected by outside pressure, such as international fuel pricing, such as commodities. For instance, just the fact that we have burned fossil fuel, we have to look at the fact that even coal has had high shifts in the marketplace. It's not just oil, it's not just home heating fuels, coal pricing has gone up dramatically. That has an effect.

That's why this government has made a very concerted effort to look at the feasibility and indeed move on the development of the Donkin Mine, so we have a domestic coal supply, again for stability. That's why this government is a leader in this country and will continue to lead on renewables, with regard to wind energy and our commitment to add hundreds of megawatts more of renewable energy in the grid; not just in wind, that's very important, it will be the largest input immediately.

[Page 9643]

It also speaks to providing energy sources to Nova Scotians that have a stable, amortized financial model that is predictable, that is planable and it's not subject to the volatility of the international marketplace. That's why part of our framework is to make sure that we have that reliability in a substantive manner, so that in this province we will be generating, through wind energy, the equivalent of a power generating station right now that's burning fossil fuels - not only reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other emissions, but also providing a stable energy source. The second tier is to provide even more wind energy. That's not just it, it's also looking at the title opportunities and we're partnering internationally around that.

As we go to an annualized review process with regard to rate increases or adjustments, it's very important that we know, on an annualized basis, government has taken tangible moves and measures that Nova Scotians can be assured that they are going to provide longer-term stability to mitigate the need for rate increases, and to make sure that any rate increase application is based on an investment so that Nova Scotians can have some stability in their rate base. So I think government has taken very reasonable measures and we'll build on that.

I do want to thank the honourable member for Cape Breton South and all members for joining in this debate today. I think it's an important one. I think it's a matter that we need to pursue further and consider more fully and the government is prepared to do that. Although the bill in its current form is limited and at this point we cannot support it, we support moving it forward.

[5:45 p.m.]

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I am proud to stand in my place today and speak on Bill No. 227. I listened to the sponsor of the bill, the member for Cape Breton South, and the last speaker, the Minister of Energy. This is one of those rare confluences of time, there is a certain amount that comes together and we agree on. We agree on the intent of the bill. By itself, it's not offensive and it's not a bill that would hurt people.

As a matter of fact, I see this bill in a form and purpose as one that would help not only the residential consumers but, really, the large, industrial consumers too - the pulp and paper plants, Michelin, and the big manufacturers of this province. It's like everything else, you have to be able to budget out, whether it's your labour costs or whatever, and, indeed, your energy cost is a big portion of that.

[Page 9644]

The idea, though, whether we say a year or not, the problem is that if we made a bill and said, one year, two years, three years, we are still going to have this power company coming, looking at whatever the deadlines would be, and as soon as that drop-dead date hit you would see them come in and want an increase.

As has been resoundingly accepted by consumers in this province was the proposal that nothing be considered for this power company until they get their up to about 15 per cent renewables and start doing real, on their own, green initiatives. Now, I'm sure that the flacks who work over at NSPI will say, oh, we've done all these great things. Well, you know, Mr. Speaker, I just happen to have the distinct pleasure - tongue-in-cheek - of living two kilometres away from the largest pollution source in Nova Scotia. That's the Lingan Generating Station. It's a generating station that in a lot of ways is a double-barrelled insult because it's not only the largest polluter but, for my youth, it took away probably one of the finest pieces of recreational beaches in the area. They took away what was commonly referred to as Laffin's Cove. If I want to refer to my youth I would say my pre-teens. That was some time ago.

There weren't the rigours that an employer would have to go through or a generating company would have to go through to meet today's litmus test, should something like a generating station be built there. You are looking at something that was in the mid to late 1960s, early 1970s, through all its phases of construction. It was about jobs, and people really had to take the kind of hold-your-nose attitude. It was development versus jobs. Back then, Nova Scotia Power was a Crown Corporation.

What we have is a generator and a distributor of electricity in this province that doesn't want its increases to tie to anything. It wants sometimes the protection of what goes on in here. When they are buying, they'll buy certain amounts of wind energy from companies out there and they will buy it at a certain rate. One wonders, their own wind energy from their subsidiaries, what are they paying for that energy, as opposed to what they are willing to pay other people who try to get in the marketplace that aren't members, aren't a subsidiary of Nova Scotia Power Inc. or Emera, Mr. Speaker.

So one has to wonder. I think, when we are going to open a regulatory process on them, I hope that these are some of the questions that Nova Scotia Power will have to answer. If they are paying themselves a bonus price for buying wind energy and they're buying other energy, forcing them to sell below the real value of production, then there's a problem with that.

We have a problem when they go to URB and sell wind energy in CBRM and tell wind producers we want to buy from you under the market level again because we have a glut of energy production in Cape Breton. But, the reality is, the glut is the dirtiest of fossil fuels that Nova Scotia and, indeed, Cape Breton isn't getting any real benefit from. We're being bombarded with Venezuelan coal and Columbian coal and coke from the southern

[Page 9645]

United States. These are the types of exposures we have. When URB is discussing increases, maybe we should look at the increase would be limited to the average industrial wage. I know that's what we do for increases with people on workers' compensation, we set their salary limits to half of the average industrial wage and you can't get above that for purposes of an existing pension. If you wanted to top up your pension with Canada Pension Plan, you're maxed out at half of the industrial wage of the province which I believe is, roughly, around $30,000 or $31,000.

But, the percentage, that's where they should be. By and large, I agree with this. One thing that I must say befuddles me about this bill is musings. The Leader of the Liberal Party talked about a deregulated market. Okay. They talk about a deregulated market, but we really don't know what that deregulated market would look like. The other side is saying, no, no, we want a one-year limit. If they would bring some clarity to that, there is some merit in Bill No. 227. The problem is the merit is quickly lost on the fact that we don't know where that Party stands vis-á-vis should there be a regulatory body at all.

If those questions could be answered, maybe that's the way to go with some caveats on what amount of money they can come looking for. I think that's proper for people's planning whether you're a big industrial user or a commercial user or just a household user. So with those few comments, I'll take my place and thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: Mr. Speaker, it's with pleasure I stand up and speak about this bill. There's a lot of people in our communities all over the province who are trying to live on a fixed income - seniors, people on pensions, and everything else you can imagine - and if the power bill goes up often, it means that maybe they don't have groceries that week or maybe they can't take the medication they need, or whatever the case may be. Something suffers.

I have many seniors in my area and I know all over Nova Scotia there are a lot of seniors on incomes between $8,000 and $12,000 a year and trying to stay in their own home which is extremely important and they simply can't do it if power rates keep going up. Taxes keep increasing, power rates go up and everything else so something suffers. Typically you would see someone come in and their taxes are behind, they're behind in their power bills, their heating bills, they're behind on everything because everything is increasing. So it's difficult.

After you look at people on fixed incomes, then you look at small business. Every time an increase comes on power rates, for instance, or other costs - and there have been many over the years - that means they become a little bit less competitive. As it becomes a little bit less competitive, it means they can't get the jobs or work that is coming in from

[Page 9646]

offshore. You see tools being sold now in some of the places that are less expensive now than they were 50 years ago.

So, there are people working a lot less for a lot less money and becoming more efficient than we are. If you exacerbate that situation by increasing power rates for small business or medium sized business or even large business, it makes a big difference and it hurts all of us because if businesses can't operate and can't operate efficiently, the first thing they do is lay off staff. You lay off staff, that means less income in the community and the whole community is affected negatively. It's a chain reaction, a continuous chain reaction.

I've often seen over the last many years that I've been in politics, you see people come in almost with tears in their eyes, trying to get help and sometimes you're fortunate enough you can help people. Sometimes you can't and when you can't, it's heartbreaking.

You see someone who really is coming with an honest problem and nothing that they've done wrong. They don't have any problems with anything in their lives except they're just trying to survive. They look at the groceries they buy and it's not enough to survive. You talk about the food banks - the food banks are getting more and more stressed. There are several in my community and I can tell you this year they're going to be hard-pressed to service all the needs of the people in the community. They're seeing increased rates of 30 per cent to 40 per cent this year in growth. They just don't have the supplies to satisfy the need and that's in part because of the increased power rates and increased energy rates that people have to pay. It's just impossible.

You talk about someone on a pension plan who gets a big increase of $1.50 and then the power bill goes up $40 or $50, it doesn't take very much math to figure out what's going to happen. This is happening all over Nova Scotia - here in the City of Halifax, it's happening in Dartmouth, it's happening all over regional municipalities, it's happening in Sydney, Cape Breton, and it's happening in Yarmouth, every place you go. People are living longer, thank goodness, and it means that those fixed incomes just won't do what needs to be done.

I think it's important that this bill move forward. I very seriously doubt if the government will call it, unfortunately, to help protect some of the people in the province. It gives people a cushion that they know what's going to happen and gives them a chance to plan. If all of a sudden you take someone on a fixed income and you find that they can't put the oil in their tank because their power bill has gone up, that's a serious problem. So that means that they're cold that month and maybe their pipes freeze. I've even had people come because it was a choice between eating or putting oil in the tank and the pipes freeze. Well, then their pipes freeze and they've got a major repair job - money they don't have again.

[Page 9647]

So it's just never ending and if they're paying high power rates, they can't insulate and improve their homes or put new windows in, or whatever the case may be, to make sure that that home is more efficient so it would cost them less with the increased rates. It's a chicken and egg situation. You can't do the things if you don't have the money. You don't have the money because you're being completely consumed by power rates and all the other day-to-day costs that you have just to live today. So anything we can do to help reduce the cost for people, or at least give them a cushion, they know when things are going to happen, it gives them more time to plan and put things ahead.

A GST cheque to a senior, on a low income, is a major amount of money. It's a major amount of money - just think about that statement. That's pretty scary when you think about it, but then if a power rate increase comes along and eats the whole thing up. They've gained nothing and they may not be able to do what they need to do in order to get themselves in a situation where they can survive for the coming years and it puts a lot of stress on them, too. When they get stressed, they typically get ill and then it stresses the system. They can't afford to buy the medication they need and so it just chases itself and it's very unfortunate. I believe this is a very good bill. I would hope that one day the government would see it wise to call a bill like this and make it a little bit more acceptable for seniors and people on a fixed income.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for Opposition Members' Business.

The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that completes the Liberal Party business for today. Now, I would ask the Government House Leader to apprise the House of what's happening tomorrow, and I believe you want to revert.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like the concurrence 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.

[Page 9648]

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

Bill No. 237 - Maintenance Enforcement Act.

Bill No. 250 - Motor Vehicle Act.

Bill No. 257 - Fisheries and Coastal Resources 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.

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

Bill No. 270 - Professional Planners Act.

Bill No. 274 - Certified Management Accountants of Nova Scotia Act.

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

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

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 8:00 p.m. or the completion of business for the day. The order of business following Oral Question Period will be Public Bills for Third Reading, Committee of the Whole House on Bills, and other such matters, Mr. Speaker, as will appear on the order paper tomorrow.

[Page 9649]

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

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

[6:00 p.m.]

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable Minister of Energy:

"Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge that energy efficiency and conservation are vital to Nova Scotia's future."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

ENERGY: EFFICIENCY/CONSERVATION - IMPORTANCE

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate this opportunity to almost build on some of the discussion that we've just had previously on the Opposition bills for consideration here today. Because we have highlighted some of that, I will curtail some of my commentary because I think we have covered some ground. But it is an opportunity to, yet, highlight the importance and the significance of energy conservation and efficiency as part of the wider response and solution to deal with increased energy pressures on Nova Scotians, our businesses, our organizations, but also, it's an opportunity for us to now start planning in a much longer-term way, as a government and, as I say, organizations of this province, when it comes to efficiency.

As Nova Scotians know, the province came forward, and the government, with a $35 million energy response this year, with $25 million for the Keep the Heat program. That, itself, even dealing with the immediate pressures this year on those most in need in Nova

[Page 9650]

Scotia, we're going to expand that up to 73,000 households in the province, in terms of eligibility, expanding by 25 per cent the amount that's available to $250. That, again, was part of our effort to work and build on the initiatives by the Government of Canada in their energy response, at the same time, including energy saving kits which, with a $50 value, can produce over $100 in savings for individual households.

Working on a furnace tune-up - and that's very important - clean, efficient burning of the actual furnaces themselves is very important. And recognizing, as well, that we have to work with audits in helping households do that.

Our wider energy and efficiency piece takes in a whole host of things and really builds again on what the Government of Canada has done so that we use every dollar that is available to government to leverage those opportunities. We have had to balance that too, Mr. Speaker, in what we can do with the other pressures within government for those services that are very important to Nova Scotians, and that is, making sure that our institutions, hospitals, nursing homes, universities, schools and all of those things also get through, potentially, some of the crunch.

Now, I must say, it's very relieving to know, and to note and hear, the projections from Environment Canada that mother nature has been kinder to us than anticipated. That, really, Mr. Speaker, is a blessing because it has meant that furnaces and other heating devices have not been turned on to the degree that the savings that are available, hopefully, will mean that Nova Scotians everywhere will be able to adjust more easily to some of those pressures.

But we have a long-term strategy that we have to employ and that is why part of the government's budgeting process this year, will be looking at, to a larger measure, integrating more fully, conservation efficiency pieces. That is to enable Nova Scotians, especially going through - many would see as the construction season, through the Summer when people are doing their home renovation projects - to building conservation. That's why we're working with the Nova Scotia Home Builders' Association and with Natural Resources Canada for new homes, to incorporate those efficiency pieces and to incent that.

That's where we are working to make sure that where we have a resource in this province, that we are investing and providing some incentives for people to use EPA or pellet stoves in their homes as an alternate source of heat. That is why, Mr. Speaker, we are making sure that we are putting incentives there to help seniors. We recognize that a lot of seniors, in an older province, are living in older homes, which means a much different approach than those homes built in the post-1980s, when energy efficiency measures would have come in from the last pressures that Nova Scotians and Canadians experienced.

[Page 9651]

Putting all those things into place is not one isolated task, it's not one isolated program. It's an integrated, diversified approach and it's one that we have to be mindful of, of the limited resources of Nova Scotians at the same time, and build on the incentives that the Government of Canada and the program dollars they have, which is the same tax wallet these dollars come from to make sure we're working.

As I say, that's why there's extra emphasis for seniors, to help them and provide them with extra resources to encourage them to make energy efficiency and conservation investments. That's why we're also working to make sure for anyone who applies, to make sure we have cleaner burning, efficient furnace units in place - whether it's the full furnace or the burner itself, it can make a huge difference on both emissions but also on the actual burning of the unit, the amount of consumption that's there and the amount of energy used to do that.

Our government is very aware of the challenges. No government in this country - I think no government in this world has been able to come up with the one solution because there isn't one. We have to be realistic and reasonable as a government in how we do that, and I think we've been that. I think we've seen that the stakeholders in the community, that's why we've worked as well with regard to energy efficient promoting with non-government organizations, to have demonstration projects for energy efficient vehicles. But it's not just merely putting an incentive program in, we have to recognize the implications of that from a budgetary point of view and make sure those pressures don't offset the needs of those in greatest need, and that's why we're making a demonstration project.

In fact Nova Scotians are already making those alternative choices now, we see it with purchasing practices. We're seeing it with the automotive makers as they're adjusting production lines, as they're producing more vehicles and those who have the resources are buying more energy efficient vehicles, buying hybrid vehicles and helping to make sure they are part of a solution, a broader solution.

The one thing we know now versus probably the last time there was an energy crunch is that world demand this time is increasing. When we see China, when we see what's happening in India, when we see overall world demand for energy source and supply, we cannot ignore the fact that is going to put pressure in the long term on pricing, because it's putting pressure on demand, and then production.

We have to make sure that we are putting those measures in place, we are being cognizant of the fact that the world conditions, the globe has changed, the economy has changed, the environment has changed. That's why the government as well has built a greener energy framework and has worked with the Government of Canada, is working with stakeholders, working with universities, hospitals, cities, communities, businesses, utilities, we're working to make sure we have an integrated, diversified energy mix here in the

[Page 9652]

province. All of that means as we do it we have to have conservation efficiency, safe workplaces, more productive workplaces - all that comes to the base rate case.

It also means freeing up resources that are going to be necessary to do that. I know in discussions as well that my honourable colleague, the member for Halifax Chebucto, is very cognizant of the challenges and also looks at opportunities and has presented some ideas. I think what we need is an engaged debate, we're looking for and welcoming one so that we can make those choices. I fully expect that come the Spring, when we bring our budget forward, people will see that we've listened, that we've acted and that we've integrated good ideas and good policy within a good, balanced budget approach.

That's what we committed to do, that's what we'll continue to commit to do, and that's what Nova Scotians can take as an assurance - and we'll do it by leveraging every other opportunity that's out there to realize better outcomes, but it is about the long term and a long-term commitment and that's what we recognize and that's what we're committed to. Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and members of this House for this opportunity.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, there is something of the bad smell of piety about this resolution this evening. I say this because it has something of the odour of self-congratulation about it. That doesn't appear on the face of the resolution, it has to do with really the nature of what it is that the honourable minister has to say about his own government's efforts, because who indeed can disagree with the bare face of the wording of this resolution? Let's remind ourselves of the wording: "Therefore be it resolved that all members acknowledge" - and I emphasize that word "acknowledge" - "that energy efficiency and conservation are vital to Nova Scotia's future."

Well, the issue, of course, isn't who's going to acknowledge that this is important, the issue is are we doing anything about it? And, if we're doing anything about it, are we doing the right things? And, are we doing enough of the right things and, more importantly, are we doing them quickly enough? That's really the issue. The issue is the time frame within which we begin to take action in order to engage with energy issues.

It was widely speculated that this Fall session of the Legislature would be almost completely taken up with energy issues. I know for our part, our caucus has asked about 10 questions in Question Period so far about energy issues. We brought in three bills. If I had my druthers, we'd be doing more. When I compare what our caucus has done with the government and with the Third Party, I see that we're well ahead when it comes to that. What's missing, I think, from the comments to the minister and what's been missing from the tone of debate and discussion so far in this autumn session has been any sense of urgency, because this is an urgent program. It is not a casual program. It's not a problem that we have

[Page 9653]

the leisure to deal with whenever we feel like it. It's not something we can take up from time to time and let go on some other occasions.

Mr. Speaker, I was at a reception last week and fell into conversation with the honourable member for Kings North. He reminded me that there is a wonderful book that was published as a result of the Massey Lectures, last year. The book is called, "A Short History of Progress." It's by Ronald Wright. He asked me if I had read it. He was recommending it to me and, indeed, a week ago I hadn't read it, although I had heard most of the lectures when they were given and broadcast on the radio. I took the opportunity this weekend to read that book which had been at my bedside and I had been meaning to read it for some time.

Mr. Speaker, here's what Ronald Wright, who is an historian and an archaeologist, has to say. He points out that civilizations in the past have arisen, developed, matured and fallen away, in many occasions primarily because they failed to take account of the essential life-support systems that they had to have in place so that they could continue to exist. He lays out example, time after time, on all continents in North America, South America, in the Middle East, in Asia, in Europe. There is no reason to think that we are any smarter than they were. He points out that we are fast bringing on conditions that will lead to our extinction and if they don't lead to our extinction, they're very likely to lead to a severe modification of the conditions within which we can carry on life. There are already six billion people on the earth, and it's far from clear, says Wright, that the conditions changed will allow that many people to survive. What he points to, of course, is global climate change, and what that has to do primarily with, is energy. That's the point at which we have to pay attention to the question of urgency, because this problem, as I said, is not a casual one. This is an urgent one. It's a question of our life-support systems.

If we don't engage actively, seriously and unrelentingly in all possible ways, then there is no reason to think that we will happily survive as a species or, if we do, that nearly so many of us will be able to survive.

Wright, of course, is not alone in saying this. One can read any serious commentary these days and the warnings are out there. We will never have the chance to say that we didn't know. We knew. We knew, and have known for decades that this is a crisis and that this is something that is urgent and it's something that we ought to be doing something about. Indeed, we ought to be using every ounce of our ingenuity in order to tackle energy questions.

The problem is, how do we change human behaviour? Even if individuals are prepared to change their behaviour when it comes to the main categories of energy use, that is to say, transportation, electricity and heating, how do systems get changed? There's a limit to what people can do as individuals. We can be careful in our homes. If we want to turn out the lights or buy energy-efficient appliances, as it's sometimes suggested to us, or when it

[Page 9654]

comes to transportation, of course, we know the best thing we can do is not own a car. If you own a car, don't drive it. If you do have to drive it, drive it in the most efficient way that you can. When it comes to heating, insulate your homes. We know all of these things. We know them. We know all of these things, and yet we need systems as a society to help us achieve the objectives.

[6:15 p.m.]

People cannot do it on their own. Think about transportation. Although there are things people can do - they can walk, they can bike, they can minimize their vehicle use. If there isn't mass transit available, then, in fact, that's a limit in the system that's available for them to use. What about electricity. People can minimize the amount of electricity they use, if they try, but at the same time the issue is, what's the nature of the system that surrounds them? What's the nature of the system that they tap into?

Are we building a system that, in fact, will help people to minimize their energy use. It's not because we're looking to go for a simpler life and a happier life, I mean that would be wonderful, but that's not everyone's value choice. The issue is the consequences of not doing this. The issue is that we are polluting our atmosphere, causing global climate change and, of course, having direct negative impacts on our health. All of these are of crisis proportions, and we're not doing nearly enough.

Even if this government were to formally accept, say, the Kyoto targets, it's not enough. It's not enough because the Kyoto target is only minus 6 per cent in terms of greenhouse gas emissions below 1990 levels. That's already way too small a number. It was way too small when the Kyoto Accord was agreed to, and it's growing in terms of its inadequacy every year. The current estimates are that if we are going to try to stabilize greenhouse gas emissions and the percentage of CO2 in the atmosphere, the world will have to be 60 per cent below 1990 levels by 2050. Now, that's a big target, and we're not moving nearly rapidly enough towards it. The situation gets bleaker and bleaker.

When I think about what it is that we hear from our government and from other provincial governments around Canada, I am appalled. I'm appalled because the opportunities are not being grasped. I don't think I'm in a position, and I don't know that anyone in this House is really in a position to answer the engineering questions. I have frequently observed that it's a real lack in this House, and in similar bodies, that we don't have more people who have science and engineering training. That might help us grapple with these questions. Do you know what? I don't think it's really government's job to solve the technological problems. What we have to do is set a direction. We have to identify the problem and say there are way too many greenhouse gases, we've got to stop it, and leave it to the experts, the power corporations, the small companies, and those who have that expertise to come up with the answers. So far, we are tinkering. So far what can be said is

[Page 9655]

that we are beginning to turn our minds to the questions, but in the simplest and earliest stages of it.

Mr. Speaker, one is appalled when one looks at what the opportunities are for change compared with what has happened so far. I hope I'm wrong. I hope that there is some kind of technological fix that is actually invented soon for the energy problems, but I read around this quite widely and I don't see it coming. We'll see. Perhaps our children will see, they're the ones who will really have to grapple with this.

In any event, I think that what we really have to say to ourselves is that this problem is of crisis proportions, it's urgent, and that all of our energies should be focused on dealing with it. Thank you for the opportunity to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the members taking part in this debate this evening.

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

[The House rose at 6:19 p.m.]

[Page 9656]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 5162

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the Canadian Chamber of Commerce has a program that recognizes chapters for their achievement; and

Whereas chambers become accredited for "meeting a high standard of excellence in service to their members and strict adherence to a prescribed set of programs, services, management and governance principles, policy and advocacy initiatives"; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce is one of only 10 chambers in Canada to receive this award this year;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Yarmouth Chamber of Commerce for achieving this honour.

RESOLUTION NO. 5163

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas in the Summer of 2005 Robbie Collins, of Yarmouth County, won the Canadian Mid-Amateur golf title; and

Whereas this is the second time that Mr. Collins has brought this honour to Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Mr. Collins is only the second Nova Scotian to achieve this athletic achievement;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and congratulate Robbie Collins for his accomplishment and the honour he has brought to Nova Scotia.

[Page 9657]

RESOLUTION NO. 5164

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas the fishery is a very important industry in southwestern Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Learning Network recognized that there were no learning resources that focused on the fishery; and

Whereas the Yarmouth Learning Network organized a program to develop a fishery based learning resource called Going To Sea; and

Whereas this resource will be placed in schools, libraries and resource centres for use by learners of all ages to improve their reading skills;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the Yarmouth Learning Network and let all members of the network know we appreciate their efforts to improve literacy skills of Nova Scotians.

RESOLUTION NO. 5165

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas Mr. Eric Ruff has recently retired after 31 years as curator of the Yarmouth County Museum; and

Whereas the Yarmouth County Museum has more than doubled its capacity and number of artifacts during the time of Mr. Ruff's leadership, including the acquisition of one of the largest collections of ships' paintings in Canada; and

Whereas the Yarmouth County Museum continues to be considered one of the best museums in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and thank Mr. Eric Ruff for his years of service to the Yarmouth County Museum and the community.

[Page 9658]

RESOLUTION NO. 5166

By: Hon. Richard Hurlburt (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas respiratory therapist Deanna McCarron recognized a need to get youth physically active; and

Whereas Deanna McCarron organized a program called Kidzact, to give them this opportunity through song and dance; and

Whereas Kidzact now has almost 50 youth, ages 6 to 18, who also support charities through proceeds from their performances;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend Deanna McCarron and members of Kidzact for their initiative in improving their personal health while helping others.

RESOLUTION NO. 5167

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas according to the Canadian Association of Transplantation, in 2004 there were 4,000 Canadians waiting for an organ; and

Whereas many Canadians are still on the waiting list, some of whom are Nova Scotians who spend months and their life savings living in other Canadian cities waiting for an available organ; and

Whereas one organ donor can save up to eight lives, more people should be aware of the need for organs and become a donor;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House encourage government departments to find new and concerted efforts to encourage people to become organ donors.

[Page 9659]

RESOLUTION NO. 5168

By: Mr. Leo Glavine (Kings West)

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

Whereas in coastal communities across the province the general store can serve as a lifeline for the residents of the community; and

Whereas the Parker General Store in Halls Harbour is run by Vilda Parker and her sons, Richard and Garnet; and

Whereas this is a very exciting year for the Parker Family as Vilda celebrated her 80th Birthday in July, and 2005 marks the centennial year of the Parker General Store;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Vilda Parker and her family as they celebrate these two significant milestones.

RESOLUTION NO. 5169

By: Mr. Gerald Sampson (Victoria-The Lakes)

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

Whereas our schools must encourage an increase in the activity levels of school children; and

Whereas Jubilee Elementary School in Sydney Mines, under Principal Jack Humphries, participated in the annual Walk to School Day on October 5, 2005; and

Whereas encouraging children to walk to school is an excellent way to promote a healthy and active lifestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly thank and congratulate Jack Humphries and the staff and students of Jubilee Elementary School in Sydney Mines for taking the initiative to encourage children to become more active by taking part in the annual Walk to School Program.

[Page 9660]

RESOLUTION NO. 5170

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas students and staff at Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy in Liverpool raised $6,967 during the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run, breaking their previous record of $5,000;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Dr. John C. Wickwire Academy for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

RESOLUTION NO. 5171

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas students and staff at Liverpool Regional High School raised $800 for the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Liverpool High School for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

[Page 9661]

RESOLUTION NO. 5172

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas students and staff at Milton Centennial School participated in a penny parade to raise money for the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Milton Centennial School for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

RESOLUTION NO. 5173

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas students and staff at Mill Village Consolidated Elementary School raised $866 for the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Mill Village Consolidated Elementary School for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

[Page 9662]

RESOLUTION NO. 5174

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas students and staff at South Queens Junior High School raised $1,500 for the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at South Queens Junior High School for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

RESOLUTION NO. 5175

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas on April 12, 1980, Terry Fox began his Marathon of Hope in St. John's Newfoundland and ran 5,373 kilometres until he was forced to stop running near Thunder Bay, Ontario because cancer had appeared in his lungs; and

Whereas since 1980, more than $360 million has been raised around the world for cancer research through the Annual Terry Fox Run; and

Whereas the 39 students and two staff at Greenfield Elementary School raised $600 in their small community for the 25th Anniversary Terry Fox Run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students and staff at Greenfield Elementary School for their continuing support of the Terry Fox Run.

[Page 9663]

RESOLUTION NO. 5176

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas Special Olympics Canada is dedicated to enriching the lives of Canadians with an intellectual disability through sport; and

Whereas Betty Ann Daury has been a snowshoeing coach with Special Olympics Nova Scotia for 13 years and was chosen as a national coach for the 2005 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Nagano, Japan; and

Whereas Betty Ann was named Female Coach of the Year for Nova Scotia Special Olympics during the opening ceremonies of the Nova Scotia Summer Games held at Saint Mary's University;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Betty Ann Daury for being recognized for her outstanding contribution to Special Olympics in Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 5177

By: Hon. Kerry Morash (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame held their amateur country music singing finals in Nine Mile River on June 26, 2005; and

Whereas 12-year-old Jade Bennett of Milton was named the top amateur country singer in Nova Scotia under the age of 18 by a panel of judges; and

Whereas Jade, who at her young age already has an impressive singing career, was invited to sing at the Nova Scotia Country Music Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony in August;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jade Bennett for winning this prestigious award and wish her the best of luck with her singing career.

[Page 9664]

RESOLUTION NO. 5178

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Tim Rushton of Oxford opened his new business, Bubbles and Blades, offering vehicle cleaning, pressure washing and skate sharpening; and

Whereas Tim works out of his garage and offers vehicle cleaning both inside and out, and since it can take approximately five to six hours to properly clean the vehicle, he provides pickup and drop-off service; and

Whereas Tim also has a commercial-grade vacuum system, pressure washing service, and for your physical exercise he also offers skate sharpening which he hopes to be able to offer at the arena during peak times;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Tim Rushton on the opening of his new business, and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 5179

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ted and Pat Pettigrew of Oxford have been fostering children for 15 years and have had 13 children of various ages in their home over those years while also raising three children of their own; and

Whereas the Pettigrews began fostering when their children were young because they wanted to show their love to children, for the children to be happy and feel a part of a family; and

Whereas being a foster parent has been a good experience for their children as well, because their two oldest are currently working in the helping professions now;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Pettigrew family on fostering children for the past 15 years, and we thank them for their tireless effort and compassion that makes such a difference in the lives of these children.

[Page 9665]

RESOLUTION NO. 5180

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Oxford Area Lions Club has once again come through for the area youth in a big way; and

Whereas for the second year in a row the Lions have made a substantial donation of $700 to the Oxford RCMP detachment to help them host the annual Spookarama on Halloween night; and

Whereas the organizers depend on financial and prize donations to make the evening a success and to help keep the youth in a fun and safe environment on Halloween;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Oxford Area Lions Club on their constant dedication to the community, and wish them all the best in their future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 5181

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the General Arts and Science program students at Nova Scotia Community College, Cumberland Campus, conducted a very successful food drive this year; and

Whereas the generosity of Springhill and Oxford residents was all it took to help the students collect many bags of food for the college food bank; and

Whereas the non-perishable items go into cupboards that are always open to students during times of need when they can go down and get food any time they need it, on an honour system;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students of the General Arts and Science program on their outstanding contribution to making the lives of their fellow students in need a little easier to bear.

[Page 9666]

RESOLUTION NO. 5182

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Women's Hockey Team became the Recreational C Division Champs at the Nova Scotia Women's Hockey League; and

Whereas the tournament took place at the Richard Calder Arena at the Dr. Carson & Marion Murray Community Centre in Springhill on October 15th and 16th; and

Whereas included in the winning team were the following players: Teri LeBlanc, Alyscia Warner, Allicia Payne, Amy Lee Kouwenberg, Melanie Hunsley, Lisa Claxton-Oldfield, Annik Belanger, Laurie Payne, Hiliary Nichols, Juliette Kouwenberg, Jerika Reynolds, and Marina Shaw;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Cumberland County Women's Hockey Team on this outstanding achievement, and wish them continued success in the future.