Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-94

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

TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Agric. & Fish: Clearwater Plant - N. Sydney,
Hon. C. Clarke 8371
Agric. & Fish: Genetically Eng. Plant-free Zone - Request,
Ms. M. Raymond 8372
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4607, African N.S. Affs.: Office - Opening,
Hon. B. Barnet 8372
Vote - Affirmative 8373
Res. 4608, EMO - Disaster Relief: Caregivers - Thank,
Hon. E. Fage 8373
Vote - Affirmative 8374
Res. 4609, Berwick & Dist. Sch. - Fire Marshal Award,
Hon. J. Muir 8374
Vote - Affirmative 8375
Res. 4610, Yr. of the Veteran: Veterans - Thank, Hon. C. Clarke 8375
Vote - Affirmative 8376
Res. 4611, TCH - Heritage Strategy: Importance - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8376
Vote - Affirmative 8377
Res. 4612, Hum. Res.: Interprovincial Co-operation - Support,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8377
Vote - Affirmative 8378
Res. 4613, Madden, Ms. Vaughne - Office of Acadian Affs.:
CEO - Appt., Hon. C. d'Entremont 8378
Vote - Affirmative 8380
Res. 4614, CFIB: MLAs - Congratulate, The Premier 8380
Vote - Affirmative 8381
Res. 4615, Women, Status of: Canada's Famous Five - Contributions,
Hon. C. Bolivar-Getson 8381
Vote - Affirmative 8381
Res. 4616, Merchant Navy: Pier 21 - Plaque,
Hon. C. Clarke 8382
Vote - Affirmative 8382
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 236, Small Claims Court Act,
Hon. M. Baker 8382
No. 237, Maintenance Enforcement Act,
Mr. F. Corbett 8382
No. 238, YMCA of Cape Breton Act,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8383
No. 239, Northern Yacht Club Act,
Hon. C. Clarke 8383^
No. 240, Energy Resources Conservation Act,
Mr. H. Epstein 8383
No. 241, Commercial Mediation Act,
Hon. M. Baker 8383
No. 242, Forests Act,
Mr. L. Glavine 8383
No. 243, Emergency Measures Act/Public Service Act,
Hon. E. Fage 8383
No. 244, Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act,
Hon. M. Baker 8383
No. 245, Environment Act,
Mr. L. Glavine 8383
No. 246, International Trusts Act,
Hon. M. Baker 8383
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4617, Tri-County Sch. Bd.: Home Energy Conservation Kits -
Sale, Mr. D. Dexter 8384
Vote - Affirmative 8384
Res. 4618, Waste Reduction Wk. (10/17 - 10/23/05) - Recognize,
Mr. L. Glavine 8385
Vote - Affirmative 8385
Res. 4619, RCL Habitant Br. 73 - Anniv. (60th),
Mr. M. Parent 8385
Vote - Affirmative 8386
Res. 4620, LeFort, Elizabeth: Death of - Tribute,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8387
Vote - Affirmative 8388
Res. 4621, Hamilton, Wayn/Staff - African N.S. Affs.: Exec. Dir. -
Best Wishes, Mr. K. Colwell 8388
Vote - Affirmative 8388
Res. 4622, Pictou Co. ATV Club: Children's Wish Fdn. -
Fundraising, Mr. J. DeWolfe 8388
Vote - Affirmative 8389
Res. 4623, Pegg, Erin - Athletic Performance,
Mr. J. Pye 8389
Vote - Affirmative 8390
Res. 4624, E. Dart. Rec. Ctr. Soc./Commun. Members: Efforts -
Congrats., Ms. J. Massey 8390
Vote - Affirmative 8391
Res. 4625, Miller, Tom & Lori - Forests: Dedication - Congrats.,
Mr. L. Glavine 8391
Vote - Affirmative 8391
Res. 4626, Chester Basin Legion: Renovations - Fundraising,
Ms. J. Streatch 8392
Vote - Affirmative 8392
Res. 4627, Wright, Garnet: Bus. Enterprise/BBI Chair - Commend,
Ms. M. Raymond 8392
Vote - Affirmative 8393
Res. 4628, Sherbrooke Village - Good Fences, Good Neighbours
Painting Party, Mr. R. Chisholm 8393
Vote - Affirmative 8394
Res. 4629, Pictou Co. - Heritage Museum: Exec./Directors -
Congrats., Mr. C. Parker 8394
Vote - Affirmative 8395
Res. 4630, Van Rossum, Matthew: World Skills Comp.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8395
Vote - Affirmative 8395
Res. 4631, Hart, Bernie - Joseph Howe Fellowship Award,
Ms. M. More 8396
Vote - Affirmative 8396
Res. 4632, Zinck, Bill: Ball Field - Dedication,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8397
Vote - Affirmative 8397
Res. 4633, Cobequid Commun. Health Ctr. Fdn./Vols:
Anl. Cobequid Walk/Run - Congrats.,
Hon. B. Barnet 8397
Vote - Affirmative 8398
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 961, Prem. - Heating Season: Assistance Recipients-Effects,
Mr. D. Dexter 8398
No. 962, Nat. Res.:ATV Task Force - Recommendations,
Mr. L. Glavine 8399
No. 963, Prem.: Wind Power Producers - Assist,
Mr. D. Dexter 8401
No. 964, Com. Serv.: Single Mothers Educ. Prog. - Change,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8402
No. 965, Com. Serv. - Low-Income Families: Fuel Costs - Dept. Action,
Ms. M. More 8404
No. 966, Health - Francophones: Long-Term Care - Accommodate,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8405
No. 967, Environ. & Lbr.: Shubenacadie Canal - Silt Runoff,
Mr. L. Glavine 8406
No. 968, Educ.: Math Tests (Gr. 12) - Publication Date,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8407
No. 969, Immigration - Fees: Review - Confirm,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8409
No. 970, TCH: Tourism Stats - Accuracy,
Mr. S. McNeil 8410
No. 971, Health: Home Care Services - Deterioration,
Mr. D. Dexter 8412
No. 972, Health: Wait Times - Address,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8413
No. 973, Justice: Gun Control - Min. Plan,
Mr. K. Deveaux 8414
No. 974, Acadian Affs.: Long-Term Care Patients - Language
Consideration, Mr. W. Gaudet 8416
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 225, Smoke-free Places Act 8417
Mr. Gerald Sampson 8417
Mr. C. Parker 8420
Ms. D. Whalen 8425
Mr. J. Pye 8427
Mr. L. Glavine 8431
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 8433
Mr. K. Colwell 8435
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8436
Vote - Affirmative 8436
No. 228, Social Workers Act 8437
Hon. J. Muir 8437
Ms. M. More 8437
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8439
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8441
Hon. J. Muir 8444
Vote - Affirmative 8444
No. 230, Housing Development Corporation Act 8445
Hon. J. Muir 8445
Mr. G. Gosse 8445
Adjourned debate 8452
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health - Long-Term Care: Facility Placement - Policies:
Mr. W. Gaudet 8453
Hon. A. MacIsaac 8455
Mr. K. Deveaux 8458
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Oct. 19th at 2:00 p.m. 8461
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4634, Henwood Katie - Ryl. Bk. Sponsorship Prog.,
The Speaker 8462
Res. 4635, Harrison, Alex - Athletic Achievements,
The Speaker 8462
Res. 4636, Ferguson, David: Cadets - Accomplishments,
The Speaker 8463
Res. 4637, Cormier, Chelsie: Honesty - Congrats.,
The Speaker 8463
Res. 4638, Bragg, Kari: St. F.X. Grad. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 8464
Res. 4639, Arsenault, Michael - CPR Rescue,
The Speaker 8464

[Page 8371]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, OCTOBER 18, 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 member for Cape Breton South:

Therefore be it resolved that government review its long-term care facility placement policies.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Energy.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to present a petition to the government by over 2,500 citizens and employees, and their working effort from those employees at the Clearwater plant clam operations in North Sydney. It outlines their concerns with regard to operation and indeed the treatment of the workers at that facility.

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

8371

[Page 8372]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

MS. MICHELE RAYMOND: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to introduce a petition signed by some 67 citizens of Nova Scotia. The operative clause reads:

"Because:

Nova Scotia is a relatively isolated body of land

There are better markets for non GE then (sic) GE crops

The safety of and oversight of these crops is questionable

The undersigned request that Nova Scotia be made a Genetically Engineered plant free zone."

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

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4607

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

Whereas the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs held its official opening today at their brand-new offices located at 5670 Spring Garden Road; and

Whereas the open house was a huge success, with hundreds of people coming through the doors to offer best wishes to the new office as it continues its very important work; and

[Page 8373]

Whereas another open house will be held this evening for all those who were not able to make this morning's event;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the staff of the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs for all of their hard work in getting the office up and running, and I encourage all members who could not make it this morning, to attend this evening and lend their support to the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act.

RESOLUTION NO. 4608

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

Whereas in the wake of Hurricane Juan, Nova Scotians can understand what the victims of Hurricanes Katrina, and Rita and the earthquake in south Asia are experiencing; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Government has donated $200,000 to assist the earthquake victims and those of Hurricane Katrina; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Branch of the Canadian Red Cross, along with local personnel from the Canadian Armed Forces, the Canadian Coast Guard and many other Nova Scotians, have assisted first-hand or made a monetary donation to help begin the rebuilding efforts along the Gulf Coast of the United States and in Pakistan;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in offering our sincere thanks to the many caregivers readily available to assist our American neighbours in a time of need, as well as those stricken in Pakistan and elsewhere in times of disaster.

[Page 8374]

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. 4609

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 provincial fire marshal presented the principal of Berwick and District School with an award on Monday, September 26th, for being the first school in the province to fully implement inspection and maintenance standards of the National Fire Code; and

Whereas the new standard clarifies fire safety responsibilities and establishes a stricter inspection and maintenance regime; and

Whereas the Province of Nova Scotia adopted the National Fire Code in 2002, making this province a school fire safety leader in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the administration, staff and students of Berwick and District School for their efforts in making their school a fire safety model to be emulated across the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8375]

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

The motion is carried.

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 colleagues from across Atlantic Canada who are meeting today in Halifax on the importance of ensuring the continuation of a strong Public Service through skilled, diverse and dedicated public servants. Please welcome, from the Province of New Brunswick, Rose-May Poirier; from P.E.I., the Honourable Mitch Murphy; and from Newfoundland and Labrador, the Honourable Loyola Sullivan. Also visiting with them and in our west gallery, I believe, are Laura Freeman, Deputy Minister of the Office of Human Resources; Jacques Cormier, Executive Assistant to the Minister; David Gale, Commissioner of the Public Service Commission for Newfoundland and Labrador; Roma Bridger, Manager of Learning and Development, Public Service Commission; Jim Ferguson, CEO of the Public Service Commission; and our own Public Service Commissioner, Rick Nurse, from Nova Scotia. I would also like to introduce and thank Rod Casey of the Council of Atlantic Premiers, who on behalf of the council, led the preparations for this meeting. So thank you, and I would like to extend a warm welcome to all our visitors. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4610

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 Year of the Veteran has inspired many thoughtful ways in which our country has expressed its thanks for the sacrifices made by Canada's heros; and

Whereas one of the latest meaningful symbols is the release of the newly minted quarter appropriately depicting the faces of two generations of veterans; and

Whereas this is a tangible reminder to all Canadians of the sense of duty and pride our veterans and military of today and yesterday display, as well as the extraordinary gifts they have given to us as a country to their service here and around the world;

[Page 8376]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature, while recognizing the introduction of our country's 2005 Year of the Veteran 25 cent circulation coin, once again remember and give thanks for all those who have served and for those who continue to serve so that we in Canada are able to live in a country blessed by peace and freedom.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to the House, in the west gallery, Mr. Richard Deveau and Mr. Paul Comeau who are in today visiting with us from Clare. Many of you would know Paul Comeau from his career in municipal government as the warden of Clare, of course, the executive director of the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse, and the candidate for the New Democratic Party in the next election whenever that happens to be called. So I invite them to stand and to receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4611

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's rich heritage has played an important role in shaping our individual and collective identities; and

[Page 8377]

Whereas the Government of Nova Scotia has embarked upon the development of a heritage strategy that will include a shared vision for the preservation, protection and promotion of our heritage; and

Whereas the Heritage Strategy Task Force has released a discussion paper and will conduct a series of public meetings throughout the province this fall to find out what Nova Scotians value most about their heritage and how best to manage their heritage assets;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of developing a heritage strategy for Nova Scotia and encourage their constituents to participate in the consultation process by providing input on the value of heritage to their lives and communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:15 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Human Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4612

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

Whereas the Council of Atlantic Premiers encourages co-operation among Atlantic Provinces and has created an opportunity for Atlantic ministers, deputy ministers of HR to meet on October 17th and 18th to address the human resources responsibility of continuing to deliver quality Public Service through a skilled, service oriented, diverse and accountable Public Service; and

[Page 8378]

Whereas the human resource challenges faced are common among our governments; and

Whereas we have much to learn from one another's experiences and best practices in such key areas as recruitment, retention, professional and leadership development and workplace health among others;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House support this degree of inter-provincial co-operation and congratulate all participants in the conference who are assisting us in our effort to assure Atlantic Canadians that their public services will be delivered by a skilled, dedicated and diverse workforce.

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 Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 4613

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

Attendu que Mme Vaughne Madden, qui est depuis longtemps un chef de file dans le développement communautaire acadien, occupé le poste de directrice générale de l'Office des affairs acadiennes depuis septembre; et

Attendu que au cours des 20 dernières annés, Mme Madden a occupé des postes supérieurs dans des organismes acadiens tels que la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse et la Société Promotion Grand-Pré, et plus récemment le poste de directrice générale du Congrés mondial acadien 2004, une célébration acadienne d'envergure internationale; et

[Page 8379]

Attendu que Mme Madden, qui a passé plus d'une année à travailler au sein d'un comité interministériel don't le mandat vise à améliorer la prestation des services en français par le gouvernement provincial, a une combinaison idéale des compétences nécessaires pour améliorer la prestation des services en français dans cette province;

Qu'il soit résolu que tous les membres de cette assemblée accueillent chaleureusement Mme Madden dans cet important rôle au sein de l'Office des affaires acadiennes.

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

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

Whereas Ms. Vaughne Madden, a long-time leader in Acadian community development, assumed the position of Chief Executive Officer for the Office of Acadian Affairs in September; and

Whereas over the last 20 years, Ms. Madden has held senior positions with such Acadian organizations as the Fédération Acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse and the Société Promotion Grand Pré and more recently as the executive director of the Congrés mondial acadien 2004, an international celebration of Acadians; and

Whereas Ms. Madden, who has spent more than a year as part of an inter-departmental committee working to increase the delivery of French language services by the provincial government, brings an ideal combination of skills as we improve the delivery of French language services to this province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House welcome Ms. Madden into her new and important role with the Office of Acadian Affairs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8380]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, before reading my resolution, may I introduce two visitors in the gallery? With us this afternoon in the Speaker's Gallery, are two special guests. We have with us the Director of Provincial Affairs of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, Leanne Hachey and Member Services Counsellor Richard Dunn. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 4614

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

Whereas for almost 35 years, the Canadian Federation of Independent Business has served as an advocate for the concerns of its membership - now totalling 105,000 members nationwide - with 5,000 here in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas over that time the CFIB has lived up to its mandate: To be the BIG Voice for Small Business, as well as its motto: We never give up; we never go away; and

Whereas its successes include leading the business community's charge in eliminating the business occupancy tax in Nova Scotia and for meaningful regulatory reform here and across Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the Legislature congratulate the CFIB through its Director of Provincial Affairs, Leanne Hachey and CFIB member services counsellor, Richard Dunn for over three decades of representation to small business and thank the organization and its members for their role in educating Nova Scotians on the importance of small business to our communities as well as for helping to shape and improve social and economic policies for this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8381]

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. 4615

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 Emily Murphy, Henrietta Muir Edwards, Louise McKinney, Irene Parlby and Nellie McClung fought to have women recognized as persons before the law, paving the way for women to hold seats in the Senate; and

Whereas on October 18th, Person's Day, we celebrate the enormous effort and significant achievement of Canada's Famous Five in increasing women's participation in public decision making; and

Whereas the work of women politicians in keeping issues affecting women and children on the policy agenda have improved the quality of life and opportunities of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House recognize the contributions of Canada's Famous Five and the many Nova Scotia women whose work in the public arena has helped make this province and our country better places to live.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister responsible for the Year of the Veteran.

[Page 8382]

RESOLUTION NO. 4616

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

Whereas six decades after their valiant participation in World War II, veterans of Canada's merchant navy have been officially recognized by all Canadians through their federal government; and

Whereas a plaque commemorating their pivotal role to win the war now sits as a reminder to all at Pier 21; and

Whereas loaded with essentials needed to sustain the Allied Forces, their ships travelled the waters between North America and British ports between 1935 and 1945, putting them constantly in harm's way as they became a critical target for the enemy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature express our gratitude for this special memorial to those hundreds who died in this effort and the 12,000 men and women from across Canada, as well as, then, friends and neighbours in Newfoundland and Labrador, for risking life and limb to ensure our Allied Forces were equipped with the most urgent of supplies. We will never forget.

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. 236 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 430 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Small Claims Court Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 237 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 6 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Maintenance and Enforcement Act. (Mr. Frank Corbett)

[Page 8383]

Bill No. 238 - Entitled an Act to Change the Name of the Cape Breton Family Young Men's Christian Association and to Amend Chapter 115 of the Acts of 1886, an Act Respecting the Cape Breton Family Young Men's Christian Association. (Mr. Manning MacDonald)

Bill No. 239 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 141 of the Acts of 1925, an Act to Incorporate the Northern Yacht Club. (Hon. Cecil Clarke as a private member.)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, may I introduce visitors in the gallery, before my bill? I would like to draw the attention of members of this House to the presence in the gallery of two persons who are both employed at the Ecology Action Centre, Nova Scotia's main citizens' environmental group, that is to say, Raymond Plowde and Joanne Cook. All members will have seen on our desks the brochure having to do with the campaign called, Standing Tall, Forests For Life. They're here to present that to us and to observe our proceedings today. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

Bill No. 240 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 147 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Energy Resources Conservation Act. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

Bill No. 241 - Entitled an Act Respecting Commercial Mediation. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 242 - Entitled an Act Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Forests Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 243 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 8 of the Acts of 1990. The Emergency Measures Act; and Chapter 376 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Service Act. (Hon. Ernest Fage)

Bill No. 244 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 30 of the Acts of 2001. The Enforcement of Canadian Judgments and Decrees Act. (Hon. Michael Baker)

Bill No. 245 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 1 of the Acts of 1994-95. The Environment Act. (Mr. Leo Glavine)

Bill No. 246 - Entitled an Act to Implement the Hague Convention on the Law Applicable to Trusts and on Their Recognition. (Hon. Michael Baker)

[Page 8384]

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

[2:30 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 4617

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

Whereas students in Shelburne, Yarmouth and Digby Counties have been offered the opportunity of selling home energy conservation kits as a school fundraising project; and

Whereas 1,000 kits are being made available through an effort led by the Tri-County School Board and the Southwest Shore Development Authority; and

Whereas the increased awareness of energy conservation options may be the best benefit offered by this fundraising plan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students, schools and all others who have made possible the sale of home energy conservation kits in the Tri-County School Board area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

[Page 8385]

RESOLUTION NO. 4618

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

Whereas Environment Canada has declared October 17th to October 23rd as Waste Reduction Week in Canada; and

Whereas RRFB has been a leader in diverting 50 per cent of our waste from landfills, Nova Scotia is a world leader in waste management, but with overall waste production on the rise, it is more important than ever for us to continue our efforts in educating Nova Scotians on how to reduce waste; and

Whereas Clean Nova Scotia, a non-profit group that informs Nova Scotians on various ways to keep our environment safe, offers kits to help organize and further educate our schools and children on what can be done to help reduce waste;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly recognize the week of October 17th to October 23rd as Waste Reduction Week and lend our support to help make Nova Scotia and the world a better place for ourselves and our children.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4619

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

Whereas Habitant Branch 73 Royal Canadian Legion marked its 60th Anniversary of the signing of its charter; and

[Page 8386]

Whereas a party was held at the branch on August 7th to celebrate this milestone and the contributions made by local veterans; and

Whereas the members who signed the charter on August 3, 1945, were: E.E. Benjamin; H.W. Bennett; P.B. Blenkhorn; O. Burns; B.A. Conners; E.C. Dickie; D.M. Dickie; D.S. Eaton; H. Eaton; F. Jodrie; H.W. Hiltz; C.E. Spicer; R. Starr; A.H. Wood; and R. Woodworth;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Royal Canadian Legion Habitant Branch 73 on this milestone and thank all of the local veterans for their contribution to the Legion, the community and this country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to please speak up because it's very difficult to hear in the Chamber and also for those who must speak, would you take your conversations outside, please.

There has been a request for waiver on that. Did everyone hear it? (Interruptions) Would the honourable member please stand up and read the therefore be it resolved.

MR. PARENT: Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Royal Canadian Legion Habitant Branch 73 on this milestone and thank all of the local veterans for their contribution to the Legion, the community and this country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare on an introduction.

[Page 8387]

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, to you and through you to all members of the House, I would like to introduce four special guests who are in the west gallery this afternoon. We have three political science students from L'École secondaire de Clare. We have Roberte Comeau. We have Derrick German and André Blinn accompanied by their teacher, Nicole Ryan. They're here to observe today's proceedings. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery and hope they enjoy this afternoon's proceedings.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 4620

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

Whereas last week we learned the sad news that Cheticamp folk artist and member of the Order of Canada, Elizabeth LeFort, famous for her rug hooking, passed away at the age of 91; and

Whereas talent of the Cheticamp resident took her work all over the world, with her portrait of the Pope exhibited in the Vatican and her portrait of Queen Elizabeth hanging in Buckingham Palace; and

Whereas Elizabeth LeFort was a great ambassador for this country and for the Acadian culture, travelling the world with her tapestries while remaining a very warm and humble person who stayed true to her roots;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their condolences to the family and friends of Elizabeth LeFort, while at the same time recognizing and celebrating the remarkable life of "Canada's Artist in Wool".

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 8388]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 4621

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

Whereas today, October 18, 2005, the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs officially launches its new office with an open house; and

Whereas the office was established to build on community successes by promoting and facilitating positive change on behalf of African Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the mission of the Office of African Nova Scotian Affairs is to be a partner in developing innovative solutions that lead to self reliance and sustainable development for African Nova Scotians and their communities;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House acknowledge the hard work and dedication of the Executive Director, Wayn Hamilton and his staff, and wish them all the best today and in the years ahead.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4622

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

[Page 8389]

Whereas the Pictou County All-Terrain Vehicle Club recently held their 4th annual rally for the Children's Wish Foundation; and

Whereas Milton Findlay, one of the key organizers of the rally, said 129 riders participated on 125 bikes, an increase in riders over last year's rally with $1,500 being raised on registration alone; and

Whereas participants came from across the Maritimes to take part in the 62-kilometre adventure, which stretched deep into the back woods of Pictou County;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud the dedicated and devoted efforts of the Pictou County All-Terrain Vehicle Club in fundraising for the Children's Wish Foundation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4623

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

Whereas the Canada Games provides a positive environment that offers fulfillment, cultivates new friendship and fosters leadership through development in sports; and

Whereas competitive sports brings out the best in athletic achievement both individually or working together as a team; and

Whereas in this competitive environment of athletics, success is achieved through passion and commitment to the sport, and Erin Pegg proved this by rowing to a silver medal in the women's doubles competition;

[Page 8390]

Therefore be it resolved that the Members of the Nova Scotia Legislative Assembly show their appreciation for Erin Pegg's outstanding athletic performance on behalf of all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4624

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

Whereas on September 21st, the Department of Health Promotion announced a provincial investment of $1.1 million toward the building of a much needed and long awaited East Dartmouth community centre; and

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality had included $1 million in this year's budget to get the facility moving, and with everyone working to acquire the federal funding still needed; and

Whereas the centre will include much-needed physical activity and community spaces, a permanent home for East Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club and will help build their community spirit;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate the East Dartmouth Recreation Centre Society and all community members who are working together to help make this community dream come true.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 8391]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4625

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

Whereas Tom Miller has been working in the woods for the past 31 years and is a proud supporter of the Acadian forest restoration; and

Whereas Tom has served as president of the Nova Scotia Woodlot Owners and Operators Association for the past six years; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources has honoured Tom Miller and his wife, Lori, by declaring them Woodlot Owners of the Year in the western region of our province;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tom Miller and his wife, Lori, for their dedication to our forest and their outstanding efforts to promote sustainable forest management.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

[Page 8392]

RESOLUTION NO. 4626

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

Whereas members of the Chester Basin Legion, recognizing the serious need for a new roof for their complex, undertook a major fundraising initiative this summer; and

Whereas Legion branch members decided upon a ticket raffle which involved 3,000 tickets being sold for $25 apiece; and

Whereas Legion branch members worked exceptionally hard by doing everything from knocking on local doors to leaving tickets at local stores, while also selling at the South Shore Exhibition for two days in late July;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House appreciate the fact that this ticket raffle involved more than just giving away a car and early bird gifts, but about community spirit and dedication while ensuring a 32-year-old community building is readily available for community events whenever it is required.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4627

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

Whereas investment banker Garnet Wright built himself a house in 2001, with a stone patio; and

[Page 8393]

Whereas Garnet Wright became fascinated by stonework and began researching the need for stonemasons in the Halifax area, and ended by setting up a stone yard in the Harriestfield Industrial Park three years ago; and

Whereas the Stone Gallery now employs between 10 and 17 people year-round, does more than $1 million worth of business each year, using local slate, ironstone and imported Turkish and Italian limestone and marble;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Garnet Wright on his successful enterprise, and on his new role as chairman of the Black Business Initiative, and wish him continuing success in both.

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 Guysborough-Sheet Harbour.

RESOLUTION NO. 4628

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

Whereas in August 2005, more than 30 good neighbours gathered at Sherbrooke Village to help "paint the town"; and

Whereas the Good Fences, Good Neighbours Painting Party was organized by the Historic Sherbrooke Village Development Society; and

Whereas Lynn Hayne, chairman of the Historic Sherbrooke Development Society, said the special Summer project saw the installation and painting of more than a kilometre of new and refurbished picket fences, all in the efforts of making Sherbrooke Village as attractive and welcoming as possible;

[Page 8394]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank all the volunteers and members of the community that participated in this project - and they certainly are good neighbours of Sherbrooke Village.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4629

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

Whereas a group of Royal Canadian Legion members, under the leadership of Vincent Joyce, have come together with a plan to create a museum to honour Pictou County's military personnel; and

Whereas this Pictou County Heritage Military Museum is a non-profit organization that will be collecting, protecting, preserving, displaying and documenting military artifacts at a central location open to the public; and

Whereas in addition to the museum, an Outreach School Program is planned that will educate youth about the great sacrifices made by Canadians and Pictonians during wars;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the executive and directors of the Pictou County Heritage Military Museum for their initiative, and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

[Page 8395]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

[2:45 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4630

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

Whereas Matthew van Rossum of Antigonish was one of 26 Canadians under the age of 23 to participate in the World Skills Competition in Helsinki, Finland, in late May; and

Whereas the World Skills Competition is held bi-annually and is a program designed to encourage today's youth to explore potential options in careers involving skilled trades and technology; and

Whereas Matthew, while not placing in the medal round, participated in the Industrial Control Category which involved the installation of conduits, cables, devices and control centre fittings in a safe and efficient manner;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the efforts of Antigonish student Matthew van Rossum for his participation in the 2005 World Skills Competition.

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 8396]

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 4631

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

Whereas the Dartmouth Historical Association instituted the Joseph Howe Fellowship Award to recognize outstanding people who have helped to preserve heritage, culture, or have been leaders in community service; and

Whereas this award was presented to Bernie Hart, a much-valued educator, athlete, volunteer and citizen within the Dartmouth community; and

Whereas his contributions include founding member of the Abenaki Canoe Club, vice-chairman of the Dartmouth Lakes Advisory Board and long-time chairman of the Shubenacadie Canal Commission;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Dartmouth Historical Association and Bernie Hart on the occasion of his Joseph Howe Fellowship Award presentation on October 13, 2005 in Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

[Page 8397]

RESOLUTION NO. 4632

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

Whereas Bill Zinck was an involved sportsman for many years in our community; and

Whereas on Friday, September 9th, the ball field in Hatchet Lake was dedicated to and renamed the Bill Zinck Memorial Ball Field in memory of Billy; and

Whereas Mr. Zinck and his legacy will long be remembered by the residents of the Prospect Road;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature recognize the accomplishments and contributions of Bill Zinck with the naming of the Bill Zinck Memorial Ball Field in Hatchet Lake.

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. 4633

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

Whereas the Cobequid Community Health Centre Foundation held its 12th Annual Cobequid Walk/Run for the Health of Our Community fundraising event Sunday, October 16th; and

[Page 8398]

Whereas the organizers of this annual event raised over $54,000 last year, surpassed that total this year with more than $80,000 raised by community and local businesses; and

Whereas this was a fundraising event for a very important cause, but also an event to allow neighbours to reconnect with each other in a very healthy way;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating the Cobequid Community Health Centre Foundation and all their volunteers to make this year's Annual Cobequid Walk/Run a huge success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:49 p.m. and end at 3:49 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM. - HEATING SEASON: ASSISTANCE RECIPIENTS - EFFECTS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Premier. The dramatic rise in heating costs has many Nova Scotians deeply concerned about the Winter months ahead. The working poor of this province, seniors on fixed incomes, and families who must rely on social assistance are wondering how they will make it through this heating season. According to Community Services figures, between November 2004 and April 2005, more than 1,000 people on social assistance needed emergency home heating assistance. So I would like to ask the Premier, that figure was back when heating oil prices were 32 per cent lower, how does he expect people on assistance to make it through this heating season?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, nobody is going to underestimate the pressure that low-income Nova Scotians will be under this year, the pressure to heat their homes. The

[Page 8399]

Leader of the Opposition brings up an excellent point, we do have a program in Community Services so that when people need emergency funding, they receive emergency funding.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, perhaps I can enlighten the Premier on how that program actually works. We spoke with front-line caseworkers who are very concerned about the situation. Most people on assistance are receiving their maximum shelter allowance, so if they get emergency help with home heat, the government claws it back from their food budget. Up to $45 a month from an already scant food budget is taken until the overpayment is paid off. Caseworkers are telling us that many of their clients are still paying for last year's home heating assistance, and they are already requesting help with this year. So my question to the Premier is this, when is your government going to stop taking clients' food money to pay for emergency home heating?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Community Services, who will explain how these funds will be handled in this particular situation.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the Leader of the Opposition, although I do want to make one clarification. It is only about a third of the people on community services who are at their maximum shelter allowance. However, for that third it is a serious matter. As such, as has already been answered in this Legislature last Thursday, the $250 from the provincial Keep the Heat program and the $250 from the federal program is over and above the Community Services shelter allowance.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, right now, as we speak, the Department of Community Services is clawing back money out of the food budget of those on social assistance. This policy is driving more and more people on social assistance to food banks when their grocery budget runs out. Food banks are already struggling, donations are down, and their operating costs are increasing. So my question to the Premier is this, why is your government forcing people on social assistance to choose between being cold and being hungry?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thought the Minister of Community Services gave a clear answer. The money received through the home heat rebate program from the province or from the federal government will not be clawed back. It will not be clawed back.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

NAT. RES.: ATV TASK FORCE - RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Natural Resources. Last week the minister released his government's plan to deal with off-highway vehicles in Nova Scotia. The government only accepted six of the recommendations by the Voluntary Planning Task Force in their original form; 31 of the recommendations were diminished and denigrated. The task force had sought public input as well as expert opinions

[Page 8400]

of so many professionals in areas such as health care and safety, wilderness protection, and with issues such as the feasibility of legislation, the desperate need to protect the rights of private landowners and agricultural operators.

In today's Daily News the public once again sought the opportunity to have their say. The minister's plan was being called a timid response to the overwhelming ATV problem, and the government is being warned by one Nova Scotian, no more backsliding, whimpering or excuses allowed. My question to the minister is, what caused you to neglect and diminish the recommendations the task force brought forward, and why are you continuing to ignore the public's pleas for change to this plan?

HON. RICHARD HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite, I can tell the member that we have approved 37 of the recommendations from the task force. They will be implemented. As we speak, our enforcement officers are out now educating the general public. They are going around to the school system across this province.

MR. GLAVINE: The minister has yet to answer any of the public's questions regarding ATVs. The public is concerned that government has become accustomed to soliciting public input on issues and ignoring the information that comes forward if it doesn't agree with what the minister wants. My question to the minister is, is the government simply using public input as a PR tool or will the pleas be heard by your department and the necessary changes made?

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the honourable member and all members, this government has been open and transparent on the off-highway vehicle situation in this province since we took office. We implemented a task force, they came back with recommendations. We have an interdepartmental group that worked on this, and we have an action plan for the Province of Nova Scotia, and people appreciate that action plan and they know which way we're going with the Off-highway Vehicles Act.

MR. GLAVINE: Well, Mr. Minister, the reality is that very little will be moving forward without further detailed review, analysis or legislative changes which may take place, the plan tells us, up to two years. The sad reality for this government remains, stall tactics and delays are the order of the day. Nova Scotians can only assume that parts of this plan may never see the light of day. The research has been done, public input sought on all these issues. As a member myself having worked on legislation recently, I know what is involved in the process, and you should be ready now to introduce legislation to begin protecting Nova Scotians with respect to the issues of ATVs. As an ATV owner, Mr. Minister, I've been deeply disappointed with where you have gone. Will you commit here today to bring forward the necessary legislation and amendments required during this sitting of the Legislature?

[Page 8401]

MR. HURLBURT: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member opposite and to all members and maybe the members of the Third Party caucus, I can tell those people that I've been open and transparent on this file ever since I have had the file. If I may add, the member opposite was not even at the debriefing. Maybe he should turn around and talk to the member of his caucus, this is 1,000 per cent better than it was in the past. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

PREM.: WIND POWER PRODUCERS - ASSIST

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Nova Scotians have made it clear that they want more renewable energy from sources like wind power. In fact, a recent survey found that 96 per cent of Canadians support greater wind power production. Yet, despite this government's words of support for wind power, their actions prove quite the contrary. Atlantic Wind Power Corporation operates Nova Scotia's first wind farm in Pubnico Point. They felt their property assessment was unfair compared to other forms of generation, and although the Atlantic Wind Power won their case at the regional assessment level, this government is appealing that decision to the Utility and Review Board. So my question is this, will the Premier tell the House why is government making it harder on wind power producers, instead of offering a level playing field with other forms of power generation?

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

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak to this. As the honourable member of the Opposition would know, Nova Scotia will become a leader and is leading this country with renewable energy with 100 megawatts coming into production. What the government has strived to do is something the NDP obviously doesn't understand and that's achieving the balance between municipal units and the power producers. As I stated last week, our government has a vision, has a long-term strategy and plan, one that we'll be announcing this Thursday. I'm sure it will rest aside any concerns that the honourable member would have here today.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if Nova Scotia is to become a leader in wind energy production in Canada, this government certainly has its work cut out for it. Not too long ago, Esso convinced this Legislature to pass legislation ensuring its property assessment was competitive with the rest of Canada. Now the Canadian Wind Energy Association reports that when it comes to wind power, Nova Scotia appears to have the highest tax regime across the country.

[Page 8402]

The association's report shows that the average taxes on a 20-megawatt wind project are 1,448 per cent higher in Nova Scotia than in Ontario, and more than 100 per cent higher than the national average. So I want to ask the Premier, why is your government setting out to hobble Nova Scotia's wind power industry with this unfair treatment?

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

HON. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the opportunity to answer the question, because my answer will inform the member opposite that this government will continue to work with municipalities to ensure that all industries are vibrant, in particular the energy industry, and as well, like we have in the past, make sure that this particular issue is resolved in a reasonable approach.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Well, time is of the essence. Under the rules of the federal wind power production incentive, projects must be commissioned by March 31st, 2007 to be eligible. This Progressive Conservative Government is making it more difficult for Nova Scotians to harness this opportunity to create a major new source of affordable, renewable energy. Nova Scotia has some of the best potential for wind power generation, but yet Nova Scotians are paying a very high price to generate power from imported fuel. My question to the Premier is, why doesn't this government drop its appeal and ensure that the wind farms are also treated fairly when compared to taxation in other provinces?

THE PREMIER: There is a process available in this province, a process of assessment and appeals. That is fair and the process will be applied fairly.

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

COM. SERV.: SINGLE MOTHERS EDUC. PROG. - CHANGE

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question today is to the Minister of Community Services. Mr. Minister, your government is responsible for the biggest regression in community caring by a government in more than a generation. The minister could demonstrate some caring if he would do just one thing, allow single mothers to attend university for four years instead of only supporting them in a two-year program. Just this week a group of community organizations in Antigonish called on the government to support single mothers by allowing them a chance at a better life. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister show some compassion, do the right thing and change social assistance rules so that single mothers have a shot at a better future?

[Page 8403]

HON. DAVID MORSE: The member opposite may not be aware, but there are a number of points to be made here and we'll start with social assistance. The Employment Support and Income Assistance Act is a program of last resort; however, the point that the member makes about trying to give single parents the chance to acquire a university education is something that is a valid point and it's not one that should come from there. The point that was brought by the changes coalition, which is the group of advocates that have come together to advance this cause, was that the shortfall in their budget comes in the cost of shelter and child care. Those are two programs that are under the Department of Community Services and we are working with them on those two areas.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, talk about double speak over there. I don't think anybody on this side of the House, at least, has a clue about what he just said over there. It was nowhere, it wasn't even light years close to the question that I asked him. He's right about one thing, this is the court of last resort for people in Nova Scotia, the Department of Community Services, that's for sure. It's called desperation. My first supplementary, Mr. Speaker. The minister has an opportunity to do some good for a change but he refuses, double speak again. Again, to the Minister of Community Services and I will give him another chance to answer this. Will he reconsider this heartless policy so that single mothers can better themselves by allowing them a choice between a community college and a university program? Will the minister do the right thing?

MR. MORSE: What the member opposite is referring to is the very progressive changes that we've made in the Employment Support and Income Assistance Program on August 1, 2001. It became consistent across the province and since that time, now where there was virtually very little invested in clients through employment support last year that amount rose to $17 million. We continue to make positive changes to assist our clients to build on a career and obtain a degree of self-sufficiency so that they can go out on their own.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Again, the translation to that is that the minister and his department have done absolutely nothing. Even community colleges are moving to three- and four-year programs in some areas. Education has changed but Community Services is failing to keep up with these changes. My final supplementary is, will the minister finally admit his policies regarding educational opportunities are discriminatory, and do the right thing and get rid of another draconian practice in his department?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite may not have read The ChronicleHerald from a few weeks ago but actually we have instituted a pilot project, which assists low-income single parents who want to go to university with their shelter allowances through a rent subsidy program. We started it at Acadia and we intend to expand it to other major universities in the province. The response, I will tell the honourable member, has been very positive from the changes coalition.

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

[Page 8404]

COM. SERV. - LOW-INCOME FAMILIES: FUEL COSTS - DEPT. ACTION

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. We know that this is going to be a very difficult Winter for low-income families, but now the food banks that support these families are wondering how they, themselves, are going to make it through the next few months. For example, the Oxford food bank recently reported that its client base has doubled in a year but its shelves were bare and the donations were down. I ask the Minister of Community Services, what action is his department going to take to help the many agencies who support low-income families to cope with rising heating and fuel costs?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think there were a few points being made there. One was about food banks and then we went to energy costs. Since that was the final question, I would point out that again, with the Keep the Heat Program, there is up to $250 for low-income Nova Scotians and in combination with that the federal program could be another $250. Those are over and above the shelter allowances and they are not clawed back by the department.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, I remind the minister that those sums of money will only partially help these families cope, so more and more are going to be driven to the food banks and these food banks are in a crisis situation. For example, Feed Nova Scotia is in a financial crisis right now. They are in more than $320,000 overdraft and costs are still soaring. Their gas budget for shipping food to food banks across the province is $80,000 but it was set in July, just before the cost of gas started to rise. Their heat budget is for $20,000 and they are sure to come in over budget in that area, too. So I ask the Minister of Community Services, how will his department ensure Feed Nova Scotia can continue helping people this Winter?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, for Nova Scotian who may not be aware, Feed Nova Scotia is the former Metro Food Bank and the change in the name is to reflect it is of a provincial mandate. In essence what it is, is the brokerage house for food that is distributed to all their member food banks, some 150 across the province. I can assure the honourable member that I have a very good working relationship, as does the department, with Feed Nova Scotia. Diane Swinemar has been in touch with me by times and I am aware of the situation and we have assured her if she is in need of assistance that we will be there for her.

MS. MORE: Mr. Speaker, Feed Nova Scotia is actually feeding 40,000 Nova Scotians through 150 agencies and their board is actually meeting today to look at possible cuts in their operating budget. This could have a severe impact on service delivery across this province. Donations are down because families that support food banks are feeling the crunch too. My final question to the Minister of Community Services is, Feed Nova Scotia has gone to his department for help in their operating budget. What will your answer be and to what extent will you support them?

[Page 8405]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated before, Feed Nova Scotia does support 150 member food banks across the province. We have been in discussion with them. The executive director is aware that we are there to assist her and we have had those discussions with her and she just has to pick up the telephone.

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

HEALTH - FRANCOPHONES: LONG-TERM CARE - ACCOMMODATE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Ville Acadienne is a long-term care facility based in Meteghan and, unfortunately, it's full at the moment. The local francophone seniors in the community are forced to move to other long-term care facilities in the region, but outside of their community. Unfortunately, it also means long-term care facilities where they don't necessarily speak French. This is a serious problem for francophones in Nova Scotia, particularly in the St. Mary's Bay area. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, what is he doing to recognize the fact that francophone seniors should have the right to have long-term care in their own language and how is he going to accommodate them?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. This is a matter over which I've had considerable discussion with my colleague, the Minister of Acadian Affairs. I have recently, as much as a week ago, had the opportunity to sit down with the warden and deputy warden of the municipality involved and we were also able to inform them, and the minister was with me, that this indeed is a matter that requires the consideration of our department. It is forming part of the consultation that is taking place with respect to long-term care and this requires us to look at this particular problem in a different manner than perhaps we apply standards elsewhere in order to be able to address the concerns the honourable member brings forward and we will be addressing that in the near future.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health takes a lot of words to make something complicated which, quite frankly, is relatively simple. Villa Acadienne has said that with 10 more beds, they would be able to accommodate the francophone seniors in that area. It sounds simple enough and I guess my question to the Minister of Health is, when is he going to put those 10 beds into Villa Acadienne so that francophones in the St. Mary's Bay area are able to get the services in their community in the language that they have lived in?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it's not just the question of Villa Acadienne, there are other issues in other parts of the province and the consultation that we're doing in the continuing care sector of the province will help us identify not only if the number of beds at Villa Acadienne being identified correctly as 10 is appropriate there, we need to make certain that the number we agree upon is appropriate for the entire province and the mix that's

[Page 8406]

required for the entire province. The issue the honourable member brings forward is certainly one that will be recognized and will be addressed shortly.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is now going to go to the Minister of Acadian Affairs. This minister stood in this House last year when we passed the French-language Services Act and said this government was going to take seriously the need to implement French services from the provincial government so that francophones can get the necessary services, like health care, in their own language. Yet one year later, the first time this government has had an opportunity to not just talk the talk but walk the walk with regard to French services, we see no action. So I want to ask that minister, when is he going to stand up for francophones in this province, particularly those seniors who need long-term care services in French?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, the NDP don't understand sometimes how long it takes to put things in place. (Interruptions) I just want to say that when things are identified to us they are treated with the utmost importance, and that is why back in August when this issue was brought up to me, because it wasn't only in the riding of Clare, it was also in the riding of Argyle where we were having problems placing people in communities in francophone areas for those things - Inverness, in Cheticamp, in Richmond - there's a whole raft of issues that need to be dealt with. That's why back on August 17th I was happy to write a letter to the minister. I was happy to stand up, as I am supposed to do, for Acadians in this province and I would say I'm well on my way. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ENVIRON. & LBR.: SHUBENACADIE CANAL - SILT RUNOFF

MR. LEO GLAVINE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. After a third incident of silt runoff into Shubenacadie Canal and other nearby lakes, the Department of Environment and Labour halted construction last week indefinitely. The government and this minister were more than aware of the challenges associated with this development and yet we only seem to see action after damage has occurred. My question to the minister is, with all of the warnings from the Save Our Shubie group and all the advice you received from your department, why did it take yet another incident before action was taken?

[3:15 p.m.]

HON. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I certainly appreciate the question. As everybody knows we've had some issues on that site. We've certainly taken remedial action each time there has been an issue. We thought we had things under control, there was certainly a great deal of rain that came down on the weekend and unfortunately there was a

[Page 8407]

breach in one of the water holding areas and some silt was released. We have a stop work order that's in place now and the site is being remediated to our satisfaction.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Minister, a staff member from your department stated last week in The ChronicleHerald that the department would be conducting a routine review to see if the two previous stop work orders had been complied with. You knew there was a very serious problem and yet it took a third incident, more damage and dead fish to inspire you to check to see if the company had complied. To add insult to injury, a report conducted for government in 2004 by an environmental consultant stated that the design should also address how stormwater run-off from the project might best be managed. Options were provided in the report, yet no action was taken. My question to the minister is, why does the issue have to reach the media before the minister takes action?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we are in the middle of a review to ensure that the orders that were issued previously were complied with to our satisfaction. We don't take that lightly. That's a serious business and a serious investigation that we're going through and we intend to look at what happened, have recommendations and make improvements.

MR. GLAVINE: Mr. Minister you have failed the residents in this area through your lack of action on this matter. If this were in Kejimkujik Park, this wouldn't be happening. I'm sure in that case, we would see greater steps taken to protect the environment and the residents who live in the area. My final question to the minister is, what steps are you planning to take to ensure that Shubie Park does not sustain any more damage as a result of your inaction?

MR. MORASH: Mr. Speaker, we've closed down activity on the site. To my knowledge, there's a great deal of hay being mulched and put over the material that's there. There is a large area that's exposed and we are working to ensure there is no more sediment that gets into the lake.

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

EDUC.: MATH TESTS (GR. 12) - PUBLICATION DATE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. The inexplicable delay in the publication of this year's Grade 12 math tests is giving standardized testing a bad name and a black eye. From the perspective of most teachers that I have spoken to over the years, the failure of these controversial tests to match the curriculum taught in schools was largely to blame for the poor test results in previous years. So my question to the minister is, why have you decided not to publish these test results until next April?

[Page 8408]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there is really no delay in publishing the provincial results. The practice of the Department of Education has been to publish the provincial results in the minister's report to the parents. We're on schedule to do that. I was very interested to hear part of the preamble - I hope he was not correct - when the honourable member said most teachers, or a good many teachers in the province, were not teaching the curriculum prescribed by the province and that the test reflected it.

MR. ESTABROOKS: You're the one that followed that rabbit track, not me. The minister stated yesterday that his refusal to publish the provincial math test results will not impact on teachers as they prepare this year's students for the semestered math tests in January. If results for 2005 are not published until April 2006, teachers can't compare their students' performance to those in other schools. They can't tell if the problem is in their classroom or is it in the curriculum. My question to the minister is, how do you expect teachers to benchmark their students' performance provincially if you don't publish the test results from the Department of Education?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows - as do others involved in the education field - the initial provincial tests were marked by classroom teachers and they have those results. They certainly know the number of their students and how well they did on the individual tests. Their own students, they marked them. Those tests are a bit diagnostic, and they can use that information as feedback to improve their own instruction where they think there are gaps and improvements are needed. The school boards have the data from the marks that their own teachers did, to compare, if they so choose, results. We really don't do that.

What happened, in terms of the provincial assessment with math - and math is the one that seems to be the thing this year - we did not do this last year, we are marking - let me rephrase that - there are a group of teachers who have been brought in by the province to re-mark - and I say re-mark is to mark again objectively - about half of the math tests that were written in the province. This simply means that we're trying to establish a consistency and a provincial benchmark. As you can understand, this takes considerable time and we don't want to be put in the position of putting out a report on provincial math results or provincial English results, or provincial chemistry results, or provincial physics results . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I don't mean to question your ruling, but let him go because the more he says the more involved it becomes. We're going from re-marking objectively because, of course, when they were marked before they must have been marked subjectively. Following on from the poor results of the Grade 12s in 2004, the minister relaunched his old math strategy as a shiny new $2 million math strategy. It states the department would analyze Grade 12 math results to determine where problem areas exist.

[Page 8409]

His refusal to publish these results says one thing to teachers and parents across this province, the problem is at the Trade Mart Centre and the Education Department. My question to the minister is, what impact has your $2 million new, shiny math strategy had on the delay of publishing these math scores?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, for the information of the members of the House, through you, about 50 teachers marked about 4,270 exams this Summer, which is about half of the 7,800 math exams that were written. We have the preliminary data but we want to analyze it very thoroughly before we put out provincial results. What we have done is we have a math mentor program where we have 59 mentors in eight school boards to support teachers. There is a plan to launch on-line math materials for Grades 10, 11 and 12 and, indeed, some of those are currently available on the Net. They're tutorial-type things, and that is an Atlantic Province initiative. There is an on-line item bank for high school teachers that will be packed with resources to help teachers and students prepare for quizzes and exams. There is also a math study guide. There has been more professional development for teachers. This Department of Education has put in considerable resources, time and effort in conjunction with our partners in the school system to improve mathematics results in this province.

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

IMMIGRATION - FEES: REVIEW - CONFIRM

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Immigration. The minister today has tried to put a spin on the immigration strategy in this province with what he is calling a good news story about needing to hire more staff. But there's actually a media report out today saying that the government is tasking a senior government official to create a review of the immigration strategy and specifically, the fees being charged to immigrants coming to this province. Let's be frank, if there's a key problem with the strategy in Nova Scotia it is the fees that immigrants are being asked to pay before they even land on our shores. I want to ask the Minister of Immigration, can he confirm that his government, his office, is in the process of doing a review of the fees here in Nova Scotia with regard to immigration?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Yes, indeed we are, Mr. Speaker. I actually indicated this about a month ago with regard to a status report for our immigration numbers. I said it at that time and I'll say it again today - yes, it's important that we do review those fees.

MR. DEVEAUX: You know, Mr. Speaker, back in the Spring I asked the question of the minister because at that time- I think it was the executive director of his office noted that the fees were a problem and now we see that there is a review of these fees that will be taking place. I think it's important to note that these are the highest fees, in many cases, in the country - a $100,000 donation for someone who wants to come here as an economic

[Page 8410]

immigrant, $30,000 to fast-track your application, and almost $2,000 for a skilled worker before they can even arrive here on the shores of Nova Scotia. I want to ask this minister, why is it taking him so long to admit that the fees are a key problem with his immigration strategy?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: The reality is that since we introduced the Office of Immigration to our province we've seen more success with regard to immigration than we have for a very long time in our province. The fact of the matter is, it is certainly responsible for us to take a look at the fee structure that we do have and to compare it to other provinces, to take a look at what is happening with regard to the fee structures in many cases. There are differences between our fee structure for instance and Manitoba's fee structure. We need that information to move forward and make the right decisions for new immigrants coming to our province.

MR. DEVEAUX: It's clear that this minister is admitting that these fees are a problem, and these fees are directly tied to the decision of this government a couple of years ago to privatize the immigration process in this province. That is a main concern I think a lot of people had with regard to this program. With an expanded office, which he announced today, and even with a private sales team marketing this throughout the world, we still have only 103 families who have actually arrived on the shores of Nova Scotia - 422 may have been approved by his department, but only 103 have actually arrived here. I don't call that a very good record of success.

I want to ask this minister one last question, is he admitting with this review of the fees, is this an admission that the privatization of the immigration process in Nova Scotia was a failure?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, the fact of the matter is that since we established the office, as well as the strategy, we are seeing tremendous success in our overall numbers. We are not only seeing tremendous success, we have seen the expansion of the Office of Immigration, we are seeing new staff coming on-board, we are seeing regional development authorities becoming engaged in the process, we are seeing municipalities becoming engaged in the process, and we are seeing communities that are now seeing their young people leaving seeing hope for the future for more population in their areas. That is how this side of the House measures success.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Annapolis.

TCH: TOURISM STATS - ACCURACY

MR. STEPHEN MCNEIL: My question is for the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Heritage. In the August edition of the Tourism Insights, it indicated that the tourism for July was down 3 per cent; the figures for the year to date indicated that tourism was down 4 per

[Page 8411]

cent. Tourism operators have contacted me and claimed otherwise; in fact they say your numbers are way off. They say their businesses are down 10 per cent to 50 per cent or much more. Could the minister tell this House today if he stands by his numbers or whether he believes tourism operators in Nova Scotia?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Indeed, it is the tourism operators themselves who provide us with those numbers, so I certainly do believe our numbers.

MR. MCNEIL: How many businesses in the tourism industry in this province are going to have to close their doors before that minister realizes we have a problem? Tourism has not improved in this province since 1999, in fact, when you factor in inflation, it has declined every year. In August the Tourism Department had launched a last-minute advertising campaign targeted at the northeastern U.S. Tourism operators paid a portion of those advertising costs, plus offered deep discounts, hoping to save a devastated tourism season. My question is, could the minister indicate to this House whether or not that advertising campaign has produced any positive results?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: The advertising campaign that we have put forward indeed has seen significant results. Yes, we have faced our challenges throughout the tourism sector across our province. Yes, some of our businesses are down below 5 per cent but some are up as well. The reality is we put forward a number which is reflective of what is happening across our province. I'm sure the member would agree that it's the proper thing to do - it was the proper thing to do when the previous government was in, and it's the proper thing to do now.

MR. MCNEIL: Under the previous government tourism grew; under this government it's declining every year since he has taken over. Before this minister can deal with the problem, he has to recognize he has a problem. The minister has been promising an airy-fairy notion that tourism will double by 2012. In fact, tourism has and is declining under his watch. So my question is, when can we expect the minister to implement a real plan that the industry in this province can have some faith in?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the tourism product development plan, marketing plan, is put forward by the industry of this province. I can assure that member that we have the faith to put it in the hands of our industry. We have the faith to partner with them. I can tell you that the plan coming forward in November for 2006, will be very strong, but again, we face challenges. We are willing to meet those challenges head on. We have seen that this year with the additional $15 million investment that this Progressive Conservative Government invested in the future of our tourism industry here in our province.

[Page 8412]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader of the Opposition.

HEALTH: HOME CARE SERVICES - DETERIORATION

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Betty Laffin has worked as a home-support worker for over 10 years, but never in her wildest dreams did she imagine what she and her family would face at the hands of continuing care in Nova Scotia. Betty's mother has dementia and at this point cannot live alone. She's on a waiting list for a nursing-home bed which may take months to get. Meanwhile Betty was told that all she could get was five hours of home care, two days a week and unpredictable hours and nothing more. So my question for the Minister of Health is this, why has his government allowed home care services to deteriorate to the point that families cannot get adequate care for their loved ones at home?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we face challenges all of the time in terms of the resources that we have with respect to home care and other services, but we are continuing to address those. They form a major part of the consultation in continuing care that's taking place in the province and that will provide us with the road ahead. That road is full of challenges but we will work at meeting those challenges.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, because all Betty could get was 10 hours a week, and her mother requires around-the-clock care, she was forced to quit her job, ironically, as a home-care worker. She will have to care for her mother full time until a nursing-home bed can be found. Because of the unpredictable home-care hours, she can't make herself ready and available to work. So Betty has been turned down for unemployment insurance, leaving her with no income. So my question to the Minister of Health is this, why are families with loved ones requiring care forced into financial ruin instead of being offered respite care so that they can continue working?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in the answer to the first question, the challenges with respect to providing those services are very real challenges. They're ones that are being addressed through the province-wide consultation. We are determined that we are going to continue to address those so that individuals will get the care they need when they need it in the province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the delays in this sector are excruciatingly indescribable to the people who are on the pointy end of these problems. These consultations are nothing but a way for the minster to delay actually having to help the people who need help. There is no nursing-home bed, although Betty's mother has been assessed and deemed to require nursing-home care. And if that wasn't bad enough, there's inadequate, poorly scheduled home care that won't allow Betty to continue working outside her home.

[Page 8413]

So I want to ask the Minister of Health, when will he finally stop the endless studies and consultations on long-term care and start caring for our aging population instead of thrusting the burden on family caregivers?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, it is because we do care that we're taking the time to make sure that the planning that's done for the continuing care sector in this province is the appropriate planning for the future. One of the very strong tenets of that approach has to be to ensure that we're able to keep Nova Scotians in their homes for as long as possible. So we will need to be addressing the items brought forward by the honourable member. That will be our priority as we move forward. The consultation will be concluded soon and we will be setting out a course of action based on that consultation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

HEALTH: WAIT TIMES - ADDRESS

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, last week we received a call from a Nova Scotian who was expressing concern about a cancelled procedure at the QE II. She was scheduled for a procedure called arterial defibrillation, a procedure that requires the use of a specialized X-ray machine. Without this procedure, the resident will experience a racing heart rate that could cause a heart attack. In July, the procedure she required was cancelled as the specialized X-ray equipment was broken. Unfortunately, last week's big announcement on wait times featuring a Web site telling people how long they will have to wait failed to include information on broken-down equipment in the Capital District. So my question for the Minister of Health is, how can this minister say that he's actually addressing the issue of wait times when specialists in this province don't have the proper tools to treat patients in this province?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the issue of appropriate equipment is one which we have been addressing over the past number of years. We've just recently announced an amount of over $4 million for capital equipment in this province. That is on top of the previous amounts of money we have spent over the years.

Mr. Speaker, the challenges of maintaining equipment are huge, and those challenges will be with us for some time. I would encourage the honourable member to encourage his federal counterparts to continue with one of the best programs that they have come forward with, and that is the funding of capital equipment. I've told the federal government time after time that they deserve full marks for that program and, if they were to continue it, many of the deficits to which the honourable member is referring would be addressed.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, while the minister plays pass the buck, this same resident had another appointment with the specialist and was told she wouldn't be able to perform the procedure, the machine is still broken. The district didn't

[Page 8414]

have any money to replace or even repair the same broken machine, and that the resident would have to be sent out of the province for the procedure. My question to the minister is, why do we have to send patients out of this province for procedures that can be done right here in this province but only if the specialists have the proper functioning equipment?

MR. MACISAAC: Well, Mr. Speaker, obviously, we want to be able to treat Nova Scotians here in the province, and we are not at all satisfied when individuals have to leave the province for treatment. However, we do always have challenges with respect to equipment. The equipment to which the honourable member refers was in fact repaired, but the level of repair that was done is not to a standard that is going to be appropriate for all patients who have to use that piece of equipment. So we do have a challenge. We've received a request from Capital Health for funding. We will have to work with them in addressing that particular piece of equipment, but it is not an isolated piece of equipment. As I indicated in my answer to the previous question, there is a real deficit with respect to Capital equipment, and we need all the help that we can get from the Government of Canada and within our own resources.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, as you can imagine, this situation was very upsetting for the patient, and particularly very frustrating for the specialist. In fact, when we called the QE II and talked directly to the specialist, we were told that the specialist received a directive from Capital Health not to comment on the issue of the broken X-ray machine. My final question for the minister is, why, Mr. Minister, has a gag order been placed on specialists in the Capital District, and what are you going to do about it?

MR. MACISAAC: There are many comments that come to mind but I'm going to refrain because the honourable member does, in fact, bring forward a very difficult situation. (Interruptions) Perhaps he doesn't want my answer, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Minister of Justice.(Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

JUSTICE: GUN CONTROL - MIN. PLAN

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: My question is for the Minister of Justice. This year we have seen an increase in gun-related crimes in Nova Scotia, particularly in HRM. Most recently in the past weekend we saw three shootings, which I think disturbed a lot of people in Nova Scotia and in HRM specifically. I guess with regard to this, a lot of HRM citizens are concerned and they want to know exactly what this minister intends to do. I think you

[Page 8415]

have heard recently about residents who are feeling intimidated and don't want to speak out. So it's pretty clear to me and to a lot of residents in HRM that this Minister of Justice doesn't have this situation under control. I want to ask this minister, what does the Minister of Justice intend to do with regard to guns on our streets?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: The honourable member raises a very, very serious question. The first thing, of course, is that the police authorities are investigating and the first step is that the police authorities will do everything that is required to investigate these matters with hopes of bringing the perpetrators to justice. That is actually the number one way to deal with the problem. Second way, of course, is that we have been working for years with federal authorities to try to have penalties stiffened for gun-related crimes.

MR. DEVEAUX: If you listen to the Minister of Justice, it's the municipal police force or it's the federal government, he hasn't put his mind to this and his department hasn't put his mind to their mind to what they might be able to do. So let me give him a suggestion, under the Criminal Code of Canada, Crown Attorneys and the DPP in this province have the ability to apply for prohibition of weapons for people who have committed a crime or who are about to commit a crime. In this case, the Minister of Justice, I suggest, could very easily direct the DPP to request weapons bans for anyone who has been arrested but not yet convicted of a crime. That's allowed under the Criminal Code. I want to ask this minister, will he direct the Director of Public Prosecutions and the PPS to apply automatically for these weapon bans for anyone who has been arrested and involved and had a gun related to a criminal activity?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member raises an important issue but I would also tell the honourable member that the process, as I understand it, requires a hearing to determine whether or not that is appropriate. Many times those kind of hearings take quite a while to set up. I can assure you, however, that in any situation where the public is deemed to be in danger, I can assure you that the Public Prosecution Service will take all steps necessary including applying for prohibition orders.

MR. DEVEAUX: These hearings may take time but they're not going to happen unless this minister actually acts and starts requiring that these things be done. You know, the other issue with regard to this is, in communities where there are concerns with crime, in many cases the criminal activity is centred around specific residences, maybe drug havens or other places where criminal activity is occurring. I think a lot of people would agree that it would be a big step towards eliminating crime in a lot of communities if we were able to get rid of these residences. I want to ask this Minister of Justice, what is he going to do to shut down residences in communities that are drug havens and other centres for criminal activity?

[Page 8416]

MR. BAKER: I would take that question very seriously and in point of fact our government is looking at legislation that exists in other provinces in this country - Manitoba as an example - that deal with this problem. We had a meeting of law enforcement and other interested officials dealing with drug havens and the like, and we will be looking at legislation modelled on other provinces to address this problem.

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

ACADIAN AFFS.: LONG-TERM CARE PATIENTS -

LANGUAGE CONSIDERATION

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Acadian Affairs. Recently I was contacted by a constituent whose mother at one point resided at Villa Acadienne, a long-term care facility in Meteghan. Due to health difficulties, she was admitted to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital. When she was released from hospital, she was told she wouldn't be going back home to the Villa. She was informed she would be placed in another facility further away from her family who have limited resources to visit and further away from staff and residents who understand her language and culture. My first question to the minister is, given that we have a French language services law proclaimed in this province, why isn't language a consideration when government makes decisions as to where long-term care patients are placed in this province?

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Back in August this issue was brought up to me and I was more than happy to bring it forward and I informed my colleague, the Minister of Health. I am going to table a document that I wrote at that time, dated August 17th, it reads: I recognize that our health care system attempts to accommodate the diverse needs of the population as best as possible. However, for the aging Acadian Francophones in Nova Scotia, the prospects of being placed in nursing homes where they cannot effectively communicate with staff or other residents represents a dire and untenable form of isolation. This is further compounded if they are placed in facilities outside their communities. I asked the minister if he would please review this issue in a view towards making appropriate changes to the single entry access system.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable minister table that?

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this is the third incident I have been made aware of in the last few months. As of last week, there were 13 residents in the Villa residing from outside Clare so it's clear we have a shortage of long-term care beds in this province. It's even clearer that language is not considered when it comes to placing patients in long-term care facilities. So, again to the minister, when can Francophones in this province expect to

[Page 8417]

see this minister advocate on their behalf so that positive changes can happen with respect to placements in nursing homes?

MR. D'ENTREMONT: Mr. Speaker, I just want to table another document which is the one the honourable Minister of Health sent back to me in response. This one basically underlines the process on which people are assessed and the process of looking at the single entry access system and I'll table that for the member opposite's perusal. I'm sure we'll look forward to having some really good response to making sure that Acadians and Francophones are served in their home communities.

MR. GAUDET: I want to thank the minister for his understanding. My final question is to the Minister of Health. In February 2004, a French-language service coordinator was hired in the Department of Health with the goal of improving access to health care services. Given that it has been almost two years since the person was hired, my question to the minister . . .

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 225.

Bill No. 225 - Smoke-free Places Act.

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

MR. GERALD SAMPSON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on Bill No. 225, amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act. I'll begin by stating some facts from the minister involved, the Minister of Health Promotion.

One of his quotes is: When smoking is unacceptable almost everywhere, including outdoor patios for eating establishments. As a non-smoker, I'd like to make the government and the general public aware of the fact that outdoor patios are for the convenience of non-

[Page 8418]

smokers as well as for those - apparently now all they are used for are those who smoke. I frequented those areas in different establishments, to go out to get a breath of fresh air, only to find myself engulfed in smoke and have to leave that area to go back inside the building that I just left, in order to maintain a breath of fresh air.

I am pleased, Mr. Speaker, that the provincial government is introducing the legislation. It's a long time coming. Smoking in long-term care facilities, as it states here, permitted in licensed nursing homes and residential care facilities. It makes me wonder, if smoking is detrimental, and I'll get into the number of costs and the different diseases that it causes, yet because a long-term care facility has a so-called smoking room, that is permitted. The minister also stated that the people have a right to smoke in their own homes and this is where the long-term facilities are where they reside. Residential care facilities of course are their homes. But these people aren't there because of good health. They're there because of age and poor health. Yet we're allowing them to smoke whenever they feel like it, and further cause damage and increase the sickness that they are suffering from. It makes me wonder, are there any alternatives out there which we hear advertised on a continual basis to prevent smoking, some things from chewing gum to numerous other remedies?

Mr. Speaker, the GPI Atlantic Report stated that $170 million annually is the cost to treat smoking-related illnesses. You've heard us speak here. The Minister of Health has been questioned continually on the cost of equipment, the cost of health care, the overruns in the health care system. Yet we sit back and let $170 million literally go up in smoke and cause greater health problems for all those in the population.

Mr. Speaker, when I spoke last night on Bill No. 222, Tobacco Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act, I told a story of attending a concert last Christmas and standing outside waiting for some guests to arrive, a vehicle pulled up in front of the school gymnasium. There were three adults in the car and three children, and when they opened the doors to exit and let the children and some of the parents out, you would swear their car was on fire. Here's three young children being exposed to that at a very early age. That's why I'm so glad to see this legislation come forward. Like I said, a long time coming, but it's finally here.

The Heart and Stroke Foundation - 80 deaths a year from people who do not smoke and have been exposed to second-hand smoke. Smokers suffer from bronchitis, ear infections, pneumonia, heart problems, asthma, allergies, environmental illnesses, and all are aggravated by tobacco smoke. A long time coming, yes, but boy I'm going to tell you, when something is that disastrous to health and economy, I wonder where we've been for so long. So, Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak, as I said, in favour of Bill No. 225, amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act.

Four years ago, Mr. Speaker, our caucus, the Liberal caucus, along with the NDP, we supported what we are debating today, 100 per cent ban across the board. No if, ands or buts,

[Page 8419]

if you're going to do it let's do it and get it done. I see some of the members opposite there, they mentioned last night about rolling their own. On this side of the House, we don't know what that means. In order for the legislation to be effective, all individuals, everyone must be protected. The dangerous impact of smoking, second-hand smoke, it doesn't go away. Right now the law says you can smoke in a certain establishment only after nine o'clock at night. So you can't get sick before that, but you can after. The smoking dangers don't go away because of the time constraint or because it's nine o'clock at night.

Mr. Speaker, the bill has had a rocky road so far and those who are addicted - and again I'll refer to last night when I spoke - we were talking about court cases, taking these tobacco companies to court. We're sure going to make money for the legal profession. We'll make money for the courts in costs, but how are we going to attain any results with long, drawn-out court cases that may never, ever be settled? As I said, not being of the legal profession - I chose a higher profession, to be a politician - not being a lawyer, I don't know where this would ever end, if there would ever be any factual information gathered by taking the tobacco companies to court. They have deep pockets and they can drag this on for a long, long time.

Mr. Speaker, there are some municipalities that are dragging their feet and there are other municipalities that have stepped up to the plate. I have to comment on the fact that with Victoria County, when our district health authority came and made its presentation - if my memory serves me correctly it was late in October - about banning smoking, we chose then and there, after that presentation, to make a decision that as of January 1st, two short months later, the Municipality of the County of Victoria went 100 per cent smoke-free.

There was a bit of an outcry from some of the Legions, and there was a bit of an outcry from some of the establishments, but we saved these businesses from creating smoke rooms, at a large expense, which now are being done away with. At the same time enforcement was very minimal and through attrition, and maybe just turning a blind eye for a little while, some of the Legions eventually came around and, lo and behold, one of our Legions sent a letter in. They said that they - the Legion in Iona - created a smoke-free bingo game. That was a tremendous success in a Legion. So I have to compliment them for that and, having said that, there was one of the fears that we had that the Legions would object to.

So, Mr. Speaker, having complimented the Victoria Municipality on taking a lead, I must say that when the bill was introduced, consultation was not given to First Nations - that was evident in the display we saw and witnessed in the House last Friday. The health of First Nations is just as important as the health of any one of us here. Changes to legislation that affects the whole population have to be presented to all members of the population from Yarmouth to Cape Breton. It's not going to happen until December 2006. January 1st would be a more appropriate date, beginning the first of the year. New Year's resolutions come into effect on January 1st. It would be a good time to bring the law in on January 1st. A New

[Page 8420]

Year's resolution for a lot of people is to stop smoking. It could be a resolution that this government could adopt, that this is when they're going to introduce the legislation.

[4:00 p.m.]

The total ban, Mr. Speaker, makes this legislation more easy to enforce. There are no ifs, ands, or buts, there are no timelines, there's no clock set at nine o'clock at night when you can or can't smoke. Mr. Speaker, I have to go on record saying that presently there are a lot of clubs and organizations, especially those that have VLTs contained within their premises - I guess we'll have to refer to them as the blue room because those rooms are blue with smoke - where people are in there playing the machines and smoking continually, causing great damage to their health, yet, enforcement is basically close to nil.

Mr. Speaker, it would have been just as simple to protect the health of Nova Scotians, especially workers, four years ago when this first arose. As I said this morning in an interview, you're elected to make decisions, to stand up and be counted and do - I must quote from my seatmate, the member for Digby-Annapolis, when he said, how can you get in trouble when you're trying to help somebody? That's what this is doing. We're here to help people, to improve their health. It goes hand in hand with what the Minister of Health Promotion is suggesting, active living.

Those are noble things to try to accomplish. What I will address later on in the House is the fact that with all these noble things that are coming forward, the gymnasiums to effect the active living and exercise and get the population moving when we get them away from smoking, those gymnasiums, because we don't have insurance for these groups, cannot have access to this. I'm sure the minister will work hand in hand with me to see that we can have these facilities open to the public.

I look forward to the bill going to the Law Amendments Committee. I will be voting for this bill and looking forward to see what the general public brings forth, and take into consideration any and all of their suggestions. Hopefully, this bill, like others, will not get watered down, that it will be a definite "across-the-board level playing field, sorry guys no smoking".

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat, and thank you for the opportunity to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou West.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the opportunity to have a few moments here to speak on Bill No. 225. It sort of has a long title to it but it's basically the Smoke-free Places Act. I think it's officially an Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 2002, the Smoke-free Places Act. It's basically a bill that will ban all smoking in indoor

[Page 8421]

workplaces and in public places wherever people are gathered. The only exceptions being in long-term care facilities or nursing homes or similar institutions, mainly because that is their private home, and certainly people are free to smoke in their private home if they so wish. For a person who is in a care facility, that is their home. I guess there's a designated smoking room just for that purpose. Many of those people are elderly and not able to get out and about, perhaps they are in a wheelchair and certainly probably not free to go outside and smoke a cigarette.

The other part of the bill mentions outdoor areas, patios that would be at a restaurant, a bar or lounge. During the summer months there is certainly a flurry of outdoor patios that appear in front of various restaurants and bars. There may be some difficulty with that because how do you determine exactly where the line is between the indoors and the outdoors? If it's a patio out on the sidewalk, is there rope designating the line? That might be a little harder to enforce exactly. Certainly on indoor, enclosed spaces, I welcome this legislation. I think it's good for Nova Scotians. My only regret is that it's not going to come into effect until December 1, 2006, which is almost 14 months away. The sooner the better.

Mr. Speaker, as we know, smoking has been with us for hundreds of years. In my opinion, it certainly has been a major scourge on society, it's cost a tremendous amount of money, the unhealthy effects of smoking to our health care system. It's shortened lives. People have died from cancer and other diseases caused by smoking. It's probably not unknown to members here the effects of smoking on people's health, but I just want to briefly point out a few things that are the direct cause of smoking in society.

I think we've all lost loved ones, we've all lost people who have been close to us because of various diseases that are directly linked to smoking. I can think of a case in my own family, where I lost an uncle. He was 69 years of age and smoked heavily. He died of lung cancer before his 70th birthday. All of us are affected by the family members and friends that we've lost - in many cases, years short of their expected, natural life cycle because of the effects of either directly smoking or second-hand smoke they've breathed in.

I just want to point out some of the unhealthy effects of smoking. These stats come from Health Canada and from the U.S. Surgeon General. We all know that there's strong medical evidence that there are many diseases caused by smoking. It affects all of us from the cradle to the grave, even before babies are born, when they're in the womb. There is a well-known link between a mother smoking and the effects it has on an unborn child. It affects infants and children, adolescents, adults, right up into our senior years.

It's said that smoking causes genetic changes in the cells of a person's lungs and that's what leads to lung cancer. Research shows that smoking tobacco causes other cancers, of the digestive tract, the throat, the larynx, the pancreas, the kidneys, the stomach - they're all related back to the effects of people smoking.

[Page 8422]

Other respiratory diseases such as chronic obstructive pulmonary disease - COPD, various bronchitis and asthma are caused by smoking. It's certainly well known also that cardiovascular diseases such as heart disease, strokes and angina are related to smoking.

What is in a cigarette? What has been known to cause all these health diseases and concerns? Research shows there are over 4,000 different chemicals found in cigarette smoke. At least 50 of those found in tobacco smoke are known and are proven to cause cancer, some of those are benzine, hydrogen cyanide, formaldehyde, tar. When people smoke, all these items are going into the body and causing every organ to be affected by smoking.

There are other studies that show it only takes seven seconds from the time somebody takes a puff on a cigarette to the time it enters our brain. Seven seconds. It's not very long for a puff of smoke to enter through our mouth, into our lungs and into your brain. It's proven to be very addictive. It's mainly nicotine that is causing that addiction. It is a deadly chemical that's causing many problems.

In 1988 the U.S. Surgeon General concluded that nicotine in tobacco is addictive. I guess that's a well-known fact, but it wasn't until about 17 years ago that was made as a public fact by the Surgeon General. In that year he had three major findings around nicotine as an additive. He said that cigarette smoking and other forms of tobacco use are addictive. The nicotine and the drug in tobacco causes addiction, and finally he said that nicotine addiction is similar to heroin or cocaine addiction. It's very strong. It is I guess what you call a reinforcing drug; you need constant amounts in your body, you're craving it all the time.

Nicotine is known to be extremely poisonous in large amounts. I don't know if you remember, Mr. Speaker, the first time you might have smoked, but I think most members, most people in society have probably at one time or another tried cigarettes and some have stuck with it all these years and some have quickly given it up. Probably your first puff on a cigarette made you feel dizzy or made you feel sick. Some people say you turn green. After you get over that initial scare, you try it again, and you try it again, and the next thing you know you're addicted.

Personally I didn't try cigarettes until I was about 23 years of age and maybe that was fortunate, that I was later coming to it than some people. I smoked Export "A" for a time. I was never a strong smoker, never a lot of cigarettes in one day, maybe four or five or half a dozen at any one particular day, but I probably became somewhat addicted for three years, then one day I just asked myself, why am I smoking? I couldn't think of any good reason, and I just said I'm going to give it up, but it wasn't that easy. I tried, I'm just going to give it up, I'm not going to do it anymore. At first I stayed away, but then within two or three days I was back at it and I wanted to try it again. It took two or three packs, I think, before I finally was able to give it up. I was in my twenties. Again, I just asked myself, why am I smoking, and I just couldn't think of any good reason. I knew it was probably not good for my health and it probably was easier for me to give it up because I was a little later coming to it than as a

[Page 8423]

teenager. It certainly has been very addictive to many people, and some find it almost impossible to give up.

I can remember, Mr. Speaker, I had a gentleman contact me a couple of years ago who was very much addicted to cigarettes and he had just been diagnosed with lung cancer. He was 60 years of age. He came to me because he had no income and he needed to get on social assistance to try to pay for his medication, pay for his food and other necessities in life. He said, I just have to have a cigarette, I just need that. In spite of the fact that he was diagnosed with lung cancer, he could not give up the addiction that really was killing him and, unfortunately, about a month after that he did die. So some people, in spite of the fact they know it's killing them, they'll continue to smoke just because they are craving it. They are addicted, and it's what is in the cigarettes - it's been proven - companies have put in there that make you buy it to keep it going.

Anyway, it's tough sometimes to give up smoking and it's more than willpower that's needed. Sometimes it's medication and patches and others that will help you to get over the addiction.

Just one other fact here I'll mention, Mr. Speaker. They estimated those who are addicted to smoking, many of them will not live to see their 70th birthday and often will suffer a quality of life that is far reduced during their latter years. The average smoker will die about eight years earlier than a non-smoker. So it's certainly something to think about.

Mr. Speaker, it's proven over and over there's a strong link between smoking and all the various diseases that have been mentioned. Perhaps the worst case of all is second-hand smoke, when people are not smokers themselves, but are unfortunately in an atmosphere or an environment that perhaps they have no choice. A child in a home where one or more parent is a smoker. Or in a vehicle where somebody is smoking and they're forced to breathe it in. That maybe is one of the saddest examples of all, of how people are affected by other people smoking, they're breathing in the second hand. It's proven even pets are affected in a household by second-hand smoke.

So, Mr. Speaker, those are some of the effects of smoking. We all know it has cost our health care system hundreds of millions of dollars every year in this province and billions of dollars across the country and, as was mentioned in the previous bill, there are some steps being taken to try to gather some of that money back from the big tobacco companies to help pay for the tremendous health care costs that we are all paying.

[4:15 p.m.]

I just want to mention a letter that I received in the mail a few months ago, Mr. Speaker, and you may have also received this particular letter. It's from our Pictou County Health Authority and signed by Dr. Maurice Strasfeld, the president of the medical staff of

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the Pictou County Health Authority. He's pointing out the very great need that we should be bringing in smoke-free places in our workplaces and in public places. He's asking and encouraging us to do all we can to bring on smoke-free legislation in this province. So it's certainly welcome that we do have this legislation here at this time. He's saying the only people who benefit from smoking are the tobacco lobbies and the tobacco companies and certainly he points out that other jurisdictions, such as Vancouver, New York, London, have all instituted smoking bans.

He also points out that the Province of Quebec has instituted legislation to ban smoking completely as have a number of municipalities in our province, Mr. Speaker. I certainly would commend the Town of New Glasgow for their initiative in banning smoking in public places. It was not at the time necessarily a popular move, but certainly kudos to Councillor Manos and Mayor Ann MacLean of New Glasgow and others on council who took the initiative to ban smoking in that municipality.

I think this new legislation that comes in will be province-wide, it will be blanketing the whole province, will certainly level the playing field and make it fair in all municipalities because right now, for example in the Town of New Glasgow, there's no smoking allowed in restaurants, bars, pubs, lounges, or legions, but there is after nine o'clock in neighbouring towns like Trenton, Stellarton, Westville, or in the municipality, in the Town of Pictou and so on. People who still wish to smoke are not patronizing businesses necessarily in the Town of New Glasgow and are actually going to other municipalities. So I think this legislation will level the playing field and make it fairer for everyone.

I guess the final thing I want to mention, Mr. Speaker, is about enforcement and it's important that this bill has some teeth and that it will carry out what it's proposing to do and that is to ban smoking in public places and in workplaces. We all know and we've all heard of incidences where patrons are still smoking in places where it is banned, in towns where they have initiated a province-wide ban, or even in areas where before the nine o'clock hour there's smoking going on that should not be. So I assume it's up to the police forces in the towns to monitor the situation and to enforce the law of the province. As we all know, there has been a blind eye turned at times to some of these situations and I think it's important that enforcement be stepped up and that the people be allowed to smoke where they choose in private, in their own homes or their own vehicles, or in the great outdoors, but not in public places or workplaces.

I guess the final thing I'll mention here, Mr. Speaker, I do have a letter here from a concerned citizen in a workplace. It happens to be in Trenton Works in the Town of Trenton in Pictou County. He's concerned that the legislation that was passed in 2002, on January 1st of that year, that banned smoking in workplaces is not being adhered to. He's saying that notices are put up in the lunchroom, but he still has to put up with smoking there while trying to eat or drink his meal at lunchtime. He feels that there needs to be more protection, more

[Page 8425]

enforcement of the present law that allows people that shouldn't be smoking where they should not be.

There's some work that has to be done around enforcement to make sure that this bill is adhered to as is written in the legislation. Overall, I certainly support the bill and I look forward to it becoming law in the province. I guess I look forward to the next step in the phase of going to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: I'm very pleased to rise today and speak for a few minutes on the merits of Bill No. 225, amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act. Really, this is a wonderful time for us to see Nova Scotia finally going to a full 100 per cent ban on smoking in public places, both indoor and outdoor. As we know this was brought forward four years ago and debated in the Legislature and the government made certain concessions. They compromised in some ways against the wishes of a lot of Nova Scotians because I think in the ensuing four years, what we've seen is a question of leadership from the municipalities of this province stepping forward and taking a stronger role than was advocated by the government in the bill that was previously passed.

What's so important is to see that the people of Nova Scotia have seen the merits of going to a 100 per cent smoke-free ban. I can say in my own constituency that I've had a number of people write me and call me and I passed some of those letters on to the Minister of Health Promotion and encouraged him to bring forward this legislation. I have received letters back as well where he indicated that they had been looking at changes and I was happy to see that. The letters from my area, in fact, included a letter from the Legion, the Fairview Legion, which serves the people of Clayton Park as well. It advocated a full 100 per cent ban on smoking in indoor places.

Even though we've heard a lot about certain groups or clubs maybe not wanting to have this because of any impact economically on their operations, I believe that people understand that this is a health issue that is greater than any other concern - protecting the health of non-smokers and of others who are going to be there, even for the smokers themselves, to limit the amount of smoking that's done. I think we can all say that we've seen over our lifetime a huge change in attitude and custom when it comes to smoking. I, like many others, was raised in a home where my parents smoked and siblings smoked and I, in fact, smoked for a short while. I know that things have changed just dramatically in that period of time in terms of how acceptable it is. I think as we make more and more places smoke-free - and this is coming over a period of time beginning with the federal government and workplaces - it's become more and more unacceptable to smoke in public and it just discourages people from starting this habit or from continuing it. That is certainly what I want to see as we go forward. I want to support the wishes of Nova Scotians who in vast majority support the idea of smoke-free places.

[Page 8426]

I also want to commend the government this time for going 100 percent on outside patios. I was very concerned that we would be leaving more loopholes open and if we do that there's no end to the ingenuity of business. As long as you say that people can smoke in a certain designated area, even if it's outside, I envision that we'd have some very elaborate patios operating year-round in Nova Scotia - it's almost a certainty.

As I was mentioning when the government first passed their bill on smoke-free places four years ago, the onus really fell to municipalities to begin debating this subject. They didn't really want it but because the government had not gone all the way in terms of banning smoking municipalities were left to grapple with this. I think we should give a lot of recognition and congratulation to CBRM's council because they took the bull by the horns and went to that place that most Nova Scotian's wanted and that was a complete ban on smoking in CBRM. That was followed with the same ban throughout Cape Breton Island,

and that really showed the leadership that had been lacking here in the Legislature where the current government was unwilling to go to that length as was mentioned four years ago. Both the Liberals and the NDP members had supported a 100 per cent ban, but that had not gone forward because we did not have enough votes in the Legislature.

In municipalities, beginning with Cape Breton, the Cape Breton Regional Municipality went to the full ban, and that set the tone for other municipalities that followed. I was part of a very cantankerous debate at HRM's Council, where this came up again and again, loopholes were discussed, delays in implementation were discussed, allowing cigar bars ultimately remained in the bylaw. It actually split our council evenly right down the middle. We had several votes in which we just had ties one after another. At the time, I certainly supported the 100 per cent ban on smoking in all places. As I say, it was not an easy debate even there. HRM did not do as well as Cape Breton Regional Municipality and other municipalities in terms of introducing a stronger ban.

So I'm very pleased to see the government go to the lengths they have in this current bill to agree with Nova Scotians and the wishes of Nova Scotians that we protect the health of our young people, the young people who are working in bars and restaurants who need those jobs. A lot of them are university students and high school students. They need the money to pursue their education. I've had a number of parents who have specifically spoken to me about their concerns for their children who have to have jobs in places where smoking was allowed. So I think it's really important that we've taken this step to protect the workers in those establishments and also the patrons, the people who want to go out for an evening and don't want to be bombarded by second-hand smoke.

So I realize that overall this is taking a bit of time. We're sorry it wasn't done sooner, but we appreciate the efforts that the minister has made, I'm sure within his own caucus and Cabinet, to see that this does come forward. I realize it's better late than never. We're glad to see it here now. I wish you had done it four years ago. However, Mr. Speaker, it certainly

[Page 8427]

has my full support, and I know that constituents in Clayton Park will welcome this as a positive improvement to the health of our province.

So with those comments, I would like offer my support to the bill. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak on another bill, concurrently, as a matter of fact to Bill No. 222 last evening, and again to Bill No. 225 today, with respect to smoking. Of course Bill No. 222 was a piece of legislation that allowed the municipality the opportunity to sue tobacco companies to incur the health costs that the municipality might encounter as a result of people smoking.

This piece of legislation, Bill No. 225, the Smoke-free Places Act, is another piece of legislation that I commend the government for bringing forward. The government shows a progressive action - and I don't use that in the terms of its political Party - by way of bringing these pieces of legislation forward. I want to say that back in 2002 when we debated the restrictions of tobacco in the workplace and establishments, public establishments and, of course, entertainment places, we had recognized even then the government should have taken it one step further.

Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to speak long but I want to get the minister's ear, in particular on the issue with respect to his explanatory note. In the explanatory note of this bill, the minister indicates, ". . . exception of designated smoking rooms in health-care facilities for the acute or long-term care of veterans, in licenced nursing homes and residential care facilities and in homes for aged and disabled persons." I would want the minister to know that I have no problem with individuals having the right to smoke in their own home.

What I do have a problem with, and the minister should become aware of this, is that many individuals are employed in these environments, particularly in licensed facilities that are managed by the province, and particularly persons who are home-care workers, particularly individuals who seek employment through the self-managed attendant care program who are hired by disabled persons to look after their needs. If, in fact, the minister cannot put a proviso in this piece of legislation that restricts individuals from smoking in their environment while employed in that environment, then I certainly would appreciate the minister giving some serious consideration to that. I don't think that anyone should be required to go into a facility that may endanger them, whether that home is in a licensed nursing home or not and I think that we as government need to protect those individuals. I hope the minister is listening intently to this piece of legislation whereby we introduce a proviso that will restrict the government from allowing that.

[Page 8428]

[4:30 p.m.]

We all know about the Heather Crowe situation where the individual was a waitress in a hotel in Ottawa, in the restaurant in Ottawa and that person ended up with emphysema and lung disabilities to the point whereby she could no longer be employed. As a result of that, she had to go on worker's compensation. I would not want to see increased payments to the workers' compensation as a result of my government causing individuals to go into places where they're employed and people are allowed to continue to smoke. I really want the government to give some serious consideration with respect to this very important issue.

Also, with respect to the outdoor patios, I have some concern with smoking around the outdoor patios because although there is a defined boundary specifying the outdoor patio, will people be able to step outside the rope of that area of the outdoor patio and continue to smoke? These are the kinds of questions that need to be asked. Is there going to be a distance from the outdoor patio where people are going to be restricted from smoking? Are they going to be able to just stand outside that rope or partitioned-off area and have a cigarette? Those are the questions that need to be asked as well.

The issue around policing, I do know that my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, brought up the issue around who's going to police the legislation once it becomes effective. Will it become bylaws of the municipality for them to require the policing? Will the policing be a joint effort between the province and municipal units? When I say a joint effort, will it be by those who licensed the establishments to make certain that in fact there is no smoking in that establishment when they license the establishment. Also, who will pay for the policing? Will it be the responsibility of the municipal units to pay for that upfront cost of hiring bylaw enforcement officers or policing officers to police establishments? This is going to be an extremely difficult process.

As you know, when we dealt with the piece of legislation back in 2002, we dealt with a piece of legislation that many of the entrepreneurs in business who were involved with drinking establishments, pubs and bars, worked around these facilities of corridoring off part of their establishments to allow for smoking. Ninety-nine per cent of those establishments were around VLTs and video lottery machines when they were corded off. Yet the Gaming Corporation, no one, made comment with respect to individuals who might be engaged in entertainment such as video lottery machines for purposes of gaming entertainment. They went into those smoke-filled areas. There were a number of people who had felt that this was certainly not controlled, it was unmanageable and that some individual proprietors even felt to the point whereby some of them were unfairly treated compared to others.

I do know that I represent a constituency that has a high number of drinking establishments, pubs, bars, restaurants and even private clubs. The policing of a private club is something that I'm going to be able to watch very closely because I don't think the minister will have it within his power or within the authority of the municipality to

[Page 8429]

continuously police those private clubs. The minute someone comes in and goes out again someone will be smoking. Well, you know, what can you do, how can you control it?

It's going to be difficult to control and I don't know, but I do believe that in the Province of Ontario there is a court case now before the Supreme Court of Canada - if it hasn't already been resolved - with respect to the right of a government's ability to restrict private clubs from their particular activities. I do believe that the minister has looked very closely at this legislation and he mentions private clubs in this piece of legislation, Bill No. 225, but it's a matter of will it stand the test of time. All legislation, including this piece of legislation, must stand the test of time.

Mr. Speaker, there are going to be significant changes with respect to how individuals manipulate this piece of legislation. My only hope is that you, Mr. Minister, along with your department, are able to have and give assurances to Nova Scotians who are looking forward to this piece of legislation, to give assurances to them that, in fact, there will be the capability to police this new piece of legislation.

I do want to hearken back once again, Mr. Speaker, to the area of nursing homes, long-term care and licensed facilities. The minister is aware that his government is responsible for these facilities. The minister is aware that his government in many cases has individuals who are employed by government and/or government agencies contracted through the government to provide services to individuals who are living in these facilities of long-term care. I think the minister needs to recognize that there needs to be an environment where there are assurances that people who are employed in that profession are, in fact, protected and they need to know that they're protected. They certainly need to be made very much aware that government is on their side and that they will be protected, whatever.

I quite frankly don't see why the government can't introduce a proviso even for that short period of time in which people going in, addressing the needs of the person in a long-term care facility, the person who is in a veterans' facility, as long as they're protected while they're employed and restricted to the period of time in which they're in that environment, that no one can smoke. It's very important to know that these are the kinds of things that happen.

Also, Mr. Speaker, I'm a bit concerned about the comments made by the First Nations, because it gives me the indication that this government hasn't been in consultation with the First Nations around this piece of legislation. I don't know if the government has been in consultation with a lot of individuals, but around this piece of legislation there needs to be some consultation. I know that honourable members made mention that government has always said that when it introduces a piece of legislation it would consult Nova Scotians. Well, First Nations people are Nova Scotians as well and when I hear comments from the First Nations community that they're not going to abide by this piece of legislation, or they

[Page 8430]

may not be abiding by this piece of legislation and that they would have to look at what their rights are and what impact it has economically on them, because they are looking to become economically self-sufficient and sustaining and this may have an impact on some of their entrepreneurial businesses out there.

So, Mr. Speaker, we need to know that government is going to go back and consult with the First Nations community because I think that despite this piece of legislation being gleaned as being province-wide and that it will level the playing field, there are some concerns by the communities out there that, in fact, it doesn't level the playing field. One important piece of all legislation is to make certain that it levels the playing field and it must be a piece of legislation that will stand the test of time; it will benefit all Nova Scotians, and all Nova Scotians will have fair and just treatment by such legislation.

As I have said once again, in this particular case there are some very real concerns. I do know we won't have to deal with ventilated units within establishments and the private clubs simply because it will be totally smoke free. Restaurants, lounges, beverage rooms, private clubs, cabarets, bingos or whatever you may mention. Ventilation facilities will now do the circulation of real fresh air and not just simply tobacco smoke which is dangerous to everyone's health. I think the important part of this is that we won't have to worry about that any more.

I want to say that we will no doubt hear from municipalities across this province when this piece of legislation goes to the Red Room. I'm sure the government members have, hopefully, consulted with municipal units on the policing of this piece of legislation. It's easy enough to craft legislation, but it's far more difficult to police it. If this piece of legislation is left up to the municipalities, then the municipalities will say that we don't have the resources and the people to do it, then it will certainly make a farce of this piece of legislation.

I think many of my colleagues have spoken about the negative aspects of smoking so there's no need to go into the statistical information that's available. The minister is already very much aware of that and he's very much aware of what has been said in this Legislative Assembly.

I do want to say once again this is a good piece of legislation. It's a matter of how you make it excellent simply by making sure that it is enforceable. If this legislation is going to be enforceable, then government needs to consult and make sure that all aspects of this legislation is enforceable.

It also might be advantageous for the government to acknowledge that it can be complaint-driven. If individuals identify areas where smoking is occurring and yet it is not reported, then individuals can call a number and make sure the complaint is set forward. An officer who would be responsible - either municipally or provincially - would be able to go

[Page 8431]

out and view that establishment to see if they are breaking the law once this has been proclaimed as legislation.

The point, once again, is that it's a good piece of legislation - no question. I do hope the minister looks at this legislation very carefully and the point I brought forward with respect to those individuals who are employed within the explanatory note facilities, that there are assurances there will be protection for those individuals who may be employed within that explanatory note part. I certainly am one who will support this piece of legislation.

Even though it's a good piece of legislation, it's not one that I'm going to say that I wholeheartedly endorse and support until it comes back from the Red Room into the Legislative Assembly to be proclaimed as a piece of legislation or has received royal assent. That will happen, of course, through third reading of this piece of legislation.

Once again I will get the opportunity to speak to this. I do know and anyone who has particular concerns we will have heard them and we will be enlightened on what changes, if any, they suggest that should come forward. Having this opportunity to speak on this legislation this moment, I want to thank you for giving me this time. Thank you.

[4:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

MR. LEO GLAVINE: I am certainly pleased to rise today to speak on the amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act introduced last week by the Minister of Health Promotion. Certainly after 25 years in the teaching profession and working to eradicate smoking, certainly in the school community in which I taught, to see this very progressive piece of legislation come forward is indeed to be commended.

I know the first efforts four years ago were a little bit like what happened in my school in the early 1980s when a couple of teachers, I being one of them, finally got tired of the blue cloud of smoke filling the staff room, especially during lunch hour. The first effort was to put in a smoke eater and of course that was going to solve the problem. The same way government went part-way with their legislation in 2001. Finally we did take that all-important vote and we decided to have a smoke-free staff room. Certainly the time has come for Nova Scotia to take that kind of forward step and to have 100 percent smoke-free places.

Along with the Department of Health Promotion and their work over the past few years to do a widespread education program, I think the efforts of the community health boards certainly need to be recognized in the Chamber for the work that they did. Certainly, last year when they appeared with their 12,000 person signature petition along with Dr. Robert Strang, from Doctors Nova Scotia, certainly those were very, very strong pitches put

[Page 8432]

forth for increasing the strength of our legislation here in the province. The community health boards across have been doing a lot of education in their own right along with the Nova Scotia Heart and Stroke Foundation.

We've had a lot of significant work going on and the arguments for this piece of legislation - looking at a few of the health statistics that impact on our province, certainly in my view, it is substantiated to the full degree. Especially at a time in the history of our province when we're spending about 47 per cent to 48 per cent of our budget in the health care system, we certainly need to be looking to the next generation when that percentage can in fact be reduced. One of the leading ways in which we can reduce this of course is to reduce the demands for cancer care especially with lung cancer. Lung cancer, which is of course a direct result of smoking in many cases, accounts for 33 per cent of cancer deaths in males in Nova Scotia and now it's up to 23 per cent of deaths in females. These kinds of statistics along with the mortality rates are very, very compelling. Lung cancer, 13 per cent in males, 15 per cent in females survive after five years. We do have those kinds of reasons from the point of view of the health of Nova Scotians and future health to do something about it now since it is over time that we need to be making those kinds of changes.

One of the statistics, which certainly is very discouraging is that the annual increase of lung cancer in Nova Scotia is 3.6 per cent. Again, we haven't reached a point at which it is starting to plateau. Speaking of plateauing, if we take a look at the increases, we see that in Nova Scotia among females, different from other parts of Canada, the rates for lung cancer in females are still increasing and, of course, that is certainly a discouraging element.

One of the things about the bill, however, which I feel is unfortunate, is that this bill will not come into effect until December 1, 2006. For the workers in our bars, pubs, clubs and so forth, it's over a full year that second-hand smoke will be part of their workplace and certainly one of the hazards to their health. It's a bill that I was hoping would see, in fact, not just introduced in the House, but passed during this session - which I guess hopefully will be passed - but its implementation would be, in fact, much sooner.

One of the realities in Nova Scotia is that from the point of view of the economics of selling cigarettes, it's a revenue generator of $178 million. Again, it's my hope that the Office of Health Promotion would, in fact, take some of those dollars and work on one of the staggering statistics. Within the 20 per cent of Nova Scotians who still smoke, the age group, the cohort of 20 to 24 years, 33 per cent of that age group is smoking and that's a statistic that is on the rise in Nova Scotia. So it's certainly one that I feel should have some of the targeted funding. The other targeted funding area would again be females overall and especially the young age group of 15 to 19, which is seeing a continued increase in taking up smoking.

[Page 8433]

The reality is, of course, that it is a very, very powerful addiction. I remember a little experiment two of my friends at university decided to engage in. They were non-smokers and they decided that, oh, I can smoke for six weeks and then quit immediately. Well, the reality was they discovered that nicotine is indeed a very, very powerful addiction and they weren't able to quit smoking on the projected date on which they said they would. So I think this is a step in the right direction. British Columbia has been a leader and it is the first province in Canada to go below 20 per cent of its population in the non-smoking category. So I think certainly with increased legislation, greater numbers of Nova Scotians will hopefully kick the habit.

One of the real concerns, of course, as voiced by my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, is how this bill will truly take form when it is brought into law on December 1, 2006. Hopefully, there will be real teeth to make sure that indeed it is enforced in all places across the province. So with that comment, I was certainly pleased to speak in favour of this legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak just for a few minutes on the merits of Bill No. 225, the amendments to the Smoke-free Places Act. I don't think there's anybody who would argue that this is a good bill. Many have said in this province, and have said in the past and continue to say, it has been a long time coming. The only problem we have here is that this bill simply put, states that in over a year and a month from now, this will come into effect. But the problem is, what happens between now and then? How many people are going to be affected between now and then by smoking?

Now there's an old cliche that says, there's nothing worse than a reformed smoker, and I am that old cliche. Leave out the old part, but I am that cliche. I'm a reformed smoker, but forced to that because as previous speakers have said and I don't want to get into the addiction part of it. We all know how powerful an addiction smoking is. We know what cigarettes contain. We know they're bad for your health. We know that they kill people. It's a fact. Nobody argues that any longer. But the fact of the matter is that from the time that we actually put this into effect, the time that the government has said this will take place on December 1st of next year, 2006, there are going to be people who are harmed by the fact that this legislation is not effective until that date.

In order for legislation to be effective, it has to ensure that all individuals, doesn't matter whether they work at bars or pubs or whatever they do, it has to ensure that all individuals in this province are protected and are protected equally. It doesn't matter. The impact of second-hand smoking and second-hand tobacco smoke doesn't go away just because you're enclosed in a designated room. It doesn't go away if it's nine o'clock in the night. There are young people - because it's predominately young people who are employed

[Page 8434]

in bars and restaurants as servers, as bartenders and so on - who over the course of this time, the year and a month or so are going to be in establishments inhaling second-hand smoke. That second-hand smoke is going to lead to the many diseases and we all know what they are.

It's unfortunate that such a positive bill - and it is a positive bill, and everyone admits that - but it's very unfortunate that a positive bill like this has to wait so long to come into effect. It's also unfortunate that it's had such a rocky road to travel so far. You know, if legislation again is going to be effective in this province, it has to apply equally across the province. We all know starting with the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, they've had better legislation than what we're proposing for a long time. Better legislation, I should say, than we have right now, has been in effect for a long time. Mr. Speaker, the number of people who smoke, I would suggest, in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality would be on average higher than many other parts of this province. But the Cape Breton Regional Municipality had the foresight to say, 100 per cent smoking. Let's go ahead with that bylaw, in the toughest place that we could possibly put it and I would suggest that would be in Cape Breton because of the large number of smokers who were there. It met with very little resistance. As a matter of fact, I would suggest that it's probably the reason that a large number of people in Cape Breton have stopped smoking. That gave them the incentive and sometimes that has to be the case.

The government and the Minister of Health Promotion are quick to put out figures that say, the rate of smoking is decreasing in this province. It is, Mr. Speaker, but there are alarming stats within those statistics that we should be very careful to consider. The rate of young people in this province who are starting to smoke is rising. The rate of young women who are starting to smoke is still on the increase. There are some big, big problem areas within those statistics that we use on smoking in Nova Scotia that the minister knows and we all know, have to be conquered. We have to do something about them because we can't continue just to say on an overall average that our smoking rate is actually down, when the people who are going to drive that average up over time, young people, teenagers, the numbers are not there. The minister knows that and the government knows that. They aren't there to the extent that they had been.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, there have been many Health Ministers throughout this government who have attempted to try to do something about smoking in this province and I'll be the first to admit there's a former Minister of Health, who is now the Minister of Education, as a matter of fact. You remember the legislation that came - well, I guess it was legislation, an attempt at legislation.

[Page 8435]

Four years ago we proposed a solution that was easy. This should have been done. Hey, put it in, we were there four years ago, we wanted to stop smoking - everybody knows it's the right thing to do. If you take a look at it, this government, and in particular what happens in this case, we've seen what happens here, the Minister of Health Promotion makes a statement, the Minister of Justice steps outside the Chamber and makes another statement and before you know it we have First Nations peoples in this province who are fighting with the provincial government over the fact that they weren't consulted on what's going to happen with their peoples and this smoking legislation.

So again we're in a crisis situation. Here we are proposing a 100 per cent ban in over a year from now, but at the same time we have First Nations peoples in our province who are arguing with the Justice Minister and the Health Promotion Minister as to whether or not this actually includes where they live. There are some problem areas, as I've said. We've travelled a rocky road to get here and that rocky road is not over yet. Before we can get to that, you have to negotiate, you have to consult - it probably would have solved what we saw the other day, the display we saw between the Justice Minister and what we witnessed in this House. Predictably, the government failed to do any kind of negotiations or consultations with First Nations people, and it's unfortunate that we won't see a positive result out of that as yet.

We have before us now a bill that I agree will be much easier to enforce. It's pretty simple to determine whether or not the law is being obeyed or disobeyed. I am extremely pleased to see that the legislation will include outdoor patios and so on. We can't go halfway with this legislation anymore, we have to go all the way. The government has at least realized that. It would have been just as simple to protect the health of Nova Scotians, and especially those who are working in places where there is smoking, four years ago. We should have done it then instead of waiting until next December for this to become legislation.

In closing, suffice it to say that this is the right thing to do. It's unfortunate we have to wait that long. I sincerely wish the minister had pushed the agenda further and pushed it ahead so that this would have taken effect perhaps on December 1st of this year instead of next year.

Having said that, we support this bill, we look forward to future deliberations. Thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Preston.

MR. KEITH COLWELL: I'm going to be quite brief. I too am going to support this bill. I went through many hours of deliberation and discussion at the Halifax Regional Council when I was a councillor and didn't totally support the program they put in place at the time, although I'm against smoking in public places and always have been. As a previous speaker said here, my honourable colleague, the only problem I have with this bill is the time

[Page 8436]

that it's going to be implemented. I would strongly encourage the government to move from that date to an immediate date to make these places smoke-free, with some leeway for establishments to get any changes they have to do in their structures, or whatever the case may be, to allow for that.

As we all know, smoking causes so much grief for so many people in the community, and it's a needless grief. You see people who are suffering years later with lung diseases and all kinds of other diseases; people, indeed, with lung diseases who never smoked. When you look at that you wonder if it was a result of second-hand smoke - as we've learned it's just as dangerous or more dangerous than smoking yourself. It's pretty bad when you affect people around you, especially when parents affect young children and probably get them to smoke.

I said the other day on the previous bill that I grew up in a family where my father smoked - my mother didn't, fortunately. My father finally quit many years later, as many people did at that time. Again, I'm going to be very brief today and I'm going to encourage the government to move forward with the date they'll implement this, much sooner than it is, and move forward with it as quickly as possible.

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

The honourable Minister of Health Promotion.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker and I appreciate the comments which have been made during second reading so far as the bill moves forward. Again, the legislation in front of us is the toughest legislation in the country. Certainly I know there's a general feeling in the room that we want to move forward with it and I know that some feel that we could have moved forward faster but we are where we are. We've tried to strike a balance between the need to protect Nova Scotians from a health perspective and also the need to recognize that yes, indeed, many businesses have invested in those smoking rooms. We have struck that balance I believe in the time frames throughout this legislation. I have met with health groups on this legislation, I have met with groups such as lounge and beverage room associations, groups such as the Canadian Restaurant and Foodservices Association and others to discuss this and to be frank with them about what we're putting forward. I look forward to continuing with the movement of this bill. With that I move second reading of this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 225. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

[Page 8437]

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 228.

Bill No. 228 - Social Workers Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I'm pleased to move second reading of the Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 1993, the Social Workers Act. What this bill does is I guess you could say it helps modernize the Act. There are some sections in the existing legislation which don't appear to meet the needs of the modern social worker. As I understand, the changes to this Act have the support of the social workers organizations here in the province.

"Clause 1 enables the members of the Board of Examiners to choose a replacement for the Chair of the Board if the Chair is unable to attend a meeting . . ." In other words, they can select, elect or nominate, whatever it is, a temporary chair. Also, "Clause 2 permits a member of the Board to be re-appointed to a third consecutive term." The previous legislation allowed two terms - this is to provide for continuity. "Clause 3 requires a graduate from another province to establish a minimum two years experience in social work before that person's name is entered on the Register of Social Workers." That means that people from outside the province are now on an equal footing with people inside the province. In Clause 4 we allow a person who has completed the requirements for a degree or diploma to be registered without delay. In other words, they get the degree or diploma then they can go on the register immediately.

Those particular changes to that Act are ones which will make the Social Workers Act function more effectively and more consistently with modern thinking about the role of a social worker. Mr. Speaker, with those few words, I'm pleased to move second reading of the Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 1993, the Social Workers Act.

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

MS. MARILYN MORE: Mr. Speaker, I am really pleased to have an opportunity during second reading of Bill No. 228, an Act to Amend Chapter 12 of the Acts of 1993, the Social Workers Act. I agree with the minister that these are basically housekeeping amendments. They were developed to address difficulties in the legislation in which have become apparent as the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers regulates its profession. The amendments are meant to strengthen the regulatory process and thus to provide better protection for the public.

[Page 8438]

Second reading also gives me an opportunity to briefly discuss the role of registered social workers in this province, and particularly as it relates to their employment with various provincial government departments.

Registered social workers play a valuable role in the government's workforce, especially within the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services. They're often dealing with individuals and families in crisis. You could say that they are the front-line workers whose training, experience and professionalism provide the caring and help that Nova Scotians expect from their government, and they provide this during difficult life crises and also in an ongoing manner in providing ongoing support to people with long-term conditions or problems.

This raises an important issue, and that's why it's important to have registered social workers in these roles. Social workers learn a very specialized body of knowledge in their education and training, and they practise from a social justice system perspective. This body of knowledge equips them with skills in a perspective that other non-social workers would not have. Even more importantly, social workers are guided by a code of ethics to which they all must adhere. Non-social workers are not bound by the code. Now, the Department of Community Services, for example, has its own code of ethics, but this deals mostly with conflict of interest and doesn't address all the other areas found in the social workers' code of ethics.

I think we would all relate to the value of the social workers' code because it's based on six main values: the value and worth of the individual, pursuit of social justice, service to humanity, integrity in practice, confidentiality, and competence. I don't think any of us would disagree with any one of those. So it's important to have that as a complementary code of ethics to the government, especially the Department of Community Services' own code.

Another reason that social workers are important to employ within government services is that social work is regulated within our province and it means that there are mechanisms in place to protect the public through registration, complaints and discipline process, and that's not the case for non-social workers. Now, there seems to be a trend - you may be wondering what I'm leading up to - especially within the Department of Community Services to change job descriptions so that they no longer require registered social workers to do many of the department's functions.

[5:15 p.m.]

Now, social workers have a unique and much-needed role in government service. So my suggestion is that government should be valuing their contribution and supporting their professionalism and work rather than undermining it. I think this is a serious trend that needs to be looked at by the government because professional and registered social workers provide a unique function in their service.

[Page 8439]

In closing, I want to suggest again that the amendments to the Social Workers Act provide an opportunity not only to strengthen the regulatory process, and that's, again, to provide better protection for the general public, but we need to remind ourselves why we employ social workers within government departments. So it's for these reasons that I applaud the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers for bringing forward these amendments and support their going to the Law Amendments Committee.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place in support of Bill No. 228 and with the amendments presented to this minister by the Nova Scotia Association of Social Workers. The legislation provides for the association a mechanism for board members to serve for three terms instead of two, allows social work graduates to register without delay as candidates for membership, and requires members of other social work associations to have a minimum of two years experience before being admitted as members and able to practice social work in Nova Scotia. I think this is a very important consideration.

Mr. Speaker, we have no problems with these changes as long as the changes brought forward are the actual changes requested. Sometimes what shows up here in one form ends up trying to be shoved through in another form during debate. I would hope that the minister who, obviously, is aware of these changes would pay particular attention to some of the good work that's being done by these social workers.

I would be remiss, Mr. Speaker, if I did not spend a few minutes honouring the profession of social work. This is a group of professionals who work diligently to support individuals, families and communities across this province. They oft times do so with little fanfare and oft times with little respect from this government. Some of that was witnessed earlier today in Question Period when the minister tried in vain to justify his position on a number of fronts regarding the whole Department of Community Services here today.

Mr. Speaker, the primary mission of the social work profession is to enhance human well-being and help meet the basic needs of all people with particular attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable. That's a key point, people who are vulnerable, those people who live among us who certainly need an advocate. Social workers have been strong advocates over the years for those people who live among us in less satisfactory conditions than some people in this House live in today. I think those are attributes the minister would do well in paying particular attention to.

Social workers promote social justice and social change with and on behalf of their clients. The mission of the social work profession is rooted in a set of core values. These core values, embraced by social workers throughout the profession's history are the foundation of social workers unique purpose and perspective. They are service, social justice, dignity

[Page 8440]

and worth of the person, importance of human relationships, integrity and competence; although it's listed last here, it's certainly a very important attribute.

These core values reflect what is unique to the social work profession. Mr. Speaker, I truly believe that we might need more people in the Department of Community Services who possess these values, actually working within the department. Which brings up a point that I've raised in this House a number of times regarding the need for the Department of Community Services to employ more social workers and less bean-counters.

In a scrum earlier today, we heard the minister talking outside this House about the need to balance this budget and that if he didn't claw back assistance given back to people in need in this province because of overpayments, then the Public Accounts Committee would bring him to task for not balancing his budget. That is a terrible statement for a Minister of Community Services to make, that it's more important for him to balance his budget than it is to look after basic human needs of people in this province who are indeed in need.

However, on to this government - we have watched the whittling down of the profession of social work, and instead have witnessed an increasing number of employees whose sole mission is to watch the bottom line. One of the key operative words in the Department of Community Services today in this province is clawback. That is a word that's used daily in the Community Services world, in this province.

Mr. Speaker, I said outside the House, and I'm saying it in here, this current minister of social services is the ultimate poster boy for everything that's wrong with community services delivery in this province. These social workers who are actually moving to strengthen their position need to do so in order to keep pace with the poster boy. Hopefully they will pass the poster boy, if he's still in that position.

I certainly hope that the Premier, in his wisdom, will come to a concensus in regard to the Minister of Community Services, and do the right thing and replace that minister with somebody who actually cares about the department he's heading up, or maybe actually understands the department he's heading up. Social workers are trying to strengthen their organization. They're doing so for the protection of the people they serve. Too bad the minster won't do the same. In my opinion, social workers have one of the most important jobs to do on behalf of the government and they need to be given the respect and the latitude to do so.

Computers in that department should perhaps be replaced with the integrity of the workers and the advice that these workers could bring to the social service department in this province. Instead of listening to the bean-counters, this minister should be listening to social workers in this province who are out there trying to do the best for people who are less fortunate than we are.

[Page 8441]

I'll probably have some more to say on this bill when it goes to the Law Amendments Committee and comes back for Committee of the Whole House on Bills, but I can tell you our Party supports this bill. We will be supporting the bill right through the process. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: This is the first opportunity for me to speak during this session with you in the Chair. I welcome you back to that position of honour and responsibility.

Bill No. 228, of course, deals with one of those types of professions. I think one of the compliments you can always receive when you're in a particular profession - it's a compliment but it might be a backhanded one - when you run into people who say, there's a job I never want to do. At times in a previous career, in certain social situations as a school administrator and school teacher, many of my friends would say to me, now there's a job I never would want to do. They were talking about myself as a teacher. I know, Mr. Speaker, you will share this with me. I don't get too much of that these days, considering what we do as a profession, if you call our profession a challenge, when it comes to bringing forth legislation day in, day out. But, here's a job, a social worker position is not a position that I certainly would be prepared to do.

Over the years I have had the opportunity to work with some very professional people in that field. As a school principal there were so many occasions when we called upon social workers to assist us with some of the decisions involving the young people under our care. It's amazing how teenagers confide in people they trust. It's amazing how teenagers who are faced with all kinds of conflict - personal and otherwise - if they find someone they can trust and confide in, they need that person for their assistance and advice and in many cases. In the situations I was involved in as a school teacher, there were invaluable supports given by social workers.

Young men and young women care in a very professional manner but also in a very personal manner about a particular case - they don't necessarily call them cases. They call them, of course, by their real name, some of the young men and women, which they were assisting us with, as these young people were facing the challenges ahead of them, not just in school, but socially, at home and at many other opportunities in life.

I became even more fortunate when I was looking for an office after my first successful election campaign. I was directed to the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Recreation Centre. Of course, as someone in the community involved with young people, the Lions Club and someone involved with various sports activities I, of course, knew the recreation centre in Lakeside - an old renovated school. In that school are the Citizens on Patrol office, volunteer people very important to the RCMP in our community; the recreation

[Page 8442]

staff is present there. The recreation staff makes you feel welcome from the moment you come in to that renovated old school.

Also in the BLT Recreation Centre is the social workers' office for the western region of Halifax County. I have had the opportunity to work closely with these professionals and see how they handle many of the people that come into their office day after day. It's a great privilege to let you know that there are many people that have come to my office looking for assistance, looking for advice, looking for someone to listen to and I have said to them, let's make an appointment next door. They might not be able to take you today because of what they have scheduled, but there is a social worker in this office next to mine who's willing to listen to your concerns and is willing to assist you in whatever way he or she can.

Over the years that I've been in this position as the MLA for Timberlea-Prospect, I've come to know and respect each and every one of the social workers who work out of the Beechville-Lakeside-Timberlea Recreation Centre. Let me tell you, that respect is based upon the fact that they're out there on the front lines. These social workers do not just sit in their office and shuffle papers. These social workers are front-line workers. They visit homes. They visit people in their situations. They know firsthand as front-line workers when it comes to assisting citizens in our community what are the circumstances of the people in the situations in which many of them are forced to live.

So it's a great resource that you have as the MLA when you can speak in a confidential manner on some issues, but also on a personal matter, because you can go to the social worker who has been in the same home that you have been in, who has been at the same kitchen table that you've been at, who has shared a cup of tea with a senior, or heard the situation with a young mother, and faced some of the issues because then you begin to realize that position as a social worker is a job that I necessarily wouldn't want to do.

I say that with the respect, of course, for the profession, but more and more and more social workers have expressed to me their frustration with the system, their frustration with the fact they consider themselves professionals who are able to make individual and personal decisions. Over the last number of years, and many of it under the watch of that minister, the latitude, the ability of social workers to be able to make decisions on an individual basis just isn't there.

Instead, more and more of these social workers say it's like taking a round peg and trying to put it into a square hole, because after awhile you know it's just not going to fit. You know in your heart of hearts, based upon your experience, that this particular young, single mother perhaps needs assistance, perhaps needs a little flexibility, perhaps needs a break, perhaps needs someone who's going to say, I'm going to go that extra mile for that young mother and I'm going to assist her. Then you check the rule books, you check the guidelines, and then you check downtown and you've got to make sure that you are answering to all of those other bureaucrats who are not out there in the front line, who have

[Page 8443]

never been at the kitchen table with this young mother as she discusses the fact that she doesn't have enough food for her children when they come home from school. That's the issue that many social workers face each and every day as they come to their office, pick up their assignments for the day, and then off they go to various parts of the community that I'm fortunate enough to represent.

Those social workers, as front-line people, are a valuable asset because, Mr. Speaker, in this country and in this province we believe in assisting those in a vulnerable position. We believe in assisting those less fortunate among us and, in many cases, the very first people to identify the needs, to identify the particular personal interests of whatever the interest and case is, is the social worker. Those social workers are there as professionals to assist with each and every one of the people who are under their care, which of course brings us to another issue. More and more social workers are not just expressing frustration with the guidelines of the bureaucrats they have to answer to, they are concerned about the increasing caseload - more and more people responsible to less and less social workers.

The member for Cape Breton South, based upon his own experience, and the member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley made the point that perhaps we need less bean-counters and more people on the ground, or maybe we need more people at the kitchen table listening to the concerns of Nova Scotians, listening to those who need the assistance which we have to give them in a society that's fair, objective and has a conscience.

In the community that I represent, let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, the conscience of the community many times is the social workers, the social workers who will approach us as members of the Lions Club, who will approach the local church of which I'm a member, and say we can't do anything more than what we're allowed to do right now, but this particular person needs more help than I can give them. Can the Lions Club get involved? Can the local church assist?

[5:30 p.m.]

Let me tell you tonight, Mr. Speaker, in my community, at seven o'clock in the Sacred Heart Church Hall in Lakeside, I'm going to have the opportunity to attend a meeting about establishing a food bank in my community, a food bank that is necessary because of the needs of many of the people in the community who don't have the advantages that I personally have or I would assume all of us in this House have. You know the people who will be at that meeting tonight, they'll be numbered as teachers who will come forward who have been invited, there will be members of the clergy who are there, there will be members of the service clubs in the community - the Lions Club in particular of which I'm fortunate enough to be a member - and there will also be social workers present. Those people together will now begin to make the cases we prepare for the long Winter ahead and the challenges which many of us are going to try to assist the people in our community.

[Page 8444]

Who are those front-line workers who are identifying those people in need for us, for me as the MLA, for me as a member of the Lions Club, and for the members of the clergy? The social workers who I am fortunate enough to work with in my community, those people are the key people, the key resource who will be attending that meeting tonight in my community.

In particular, I would like to compliment the association of social workers for their instructive knowledge and for making sure that as legislators we know exactly what is going to be required of them to make this legislation work. There are some very matter-of-fact suggestions here and one in particular that deals with graduation, and it seems to me when I look at it that if someone currently finishes their social work program in May and the next convocation is in October, these people are not eligible to practice until they actually have the degree in hand, which of course you receive at convocation. This amendment that is included in this piece of legislation allows these social workers to register as candidates so that they can then move on to assist us in our communities and continue with their careers. A common sense piece of legislation, that particular clause is of course alone one of the reasons that this caucus supports this piece of legislation.

So with those few comments, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place. I again want to compliment the profession of social workers, thank them for what they contribute to our province and to our communities, and I look forward to continuing to work with them as the MLA in my community. Thank you.

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the members of the Opposition for their support of this legislation, for recognizing the contribution to community services in the province that our forward-thinking minister has.

With those few comments, I'd like to close debate and move second reading of Bill No. 228.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for second reading of Bill No. 228. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

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

The honourable Deputy House Leader.

[Page 8445]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 230.

Bill No. 230 - Housing Development Corporation Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, once again on behalf of my colleague the Minister of Community Services, I'm pleased to rise in my place to say a few words about an Act to Amend Chapter 213 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Housing Development Corporation Act.

As members of the House know, the Auditor General reviews operations in particular departments in particular divisions of particular departments on a periodic basis. One of the recommendations that was made by the Auditor General with respect to the operation of the Housing Development Corporation is that the Act be amended to allow the Housing Development Corporation to have an auditor other than the Auditor General. As the legislation currently permits, only the Auditor General can be the official auditor of this Housing Development Corporation Act, and the Auditor General the last time he reviewed this did suggest that the Act be amended so that an external auditor would be permitted. With those few words of introduction, I'm pleased to move second reading of An Act to Amend Chapter 213 of the Revised Statutes, 1989, the Housing Development Corporation Act.

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

MR. GORDON GOSSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm honoured to rise on Bill No. 230 today. When I first heard the government was bringing in a bill for a housing development corporation act, I was pretty excited until I opened up the bill and saw it had two lines to deal with a financial audit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Speak on it line by line.

MR. GOSSE: Yeah, speak on it line by line, but I was hoping there would be more in this Bill No. 230 to deal with some of the real problems in housing that we have in the province today. Some of the problems we have today, for example in the constituency of Cape Breton Nova.

Cape Breton Nova has over 400 people on a waiting list to get into housing - that's family units; over 200 waiting for seniors housing in the CBRM. These waiting lists are way too long for too many people and it's only going to get worse with the price of home heating oil this Winter. Every day in my office, I receive at least six to 10 calls a day about the Island Housing Authority - people looking for affordable housing.

[Page 8446]

Bill No. 230 deals with somebody doing a financial audit of where they're spending the money. I would personally like to know where they're spending my money myself. They're not spending any of it in Cape Breton. I think they signed a deal there just recently for $57 million for the federal infrastructure program along with the Nova Scotia housing and yet we still don't see one affordable housing unit built in Cape Breton - not one.

I remember last year - I think my memory serves me right - the Minister of Community Services, and he always thanks you for the questions, so I remember him thanking me for asking, a very polite minister. I think what he had said, if we looked in Hansard awhile back, is that Cape Breton will get its fair share. A big goose egg. A big, round zero on housing. That's our fair share.

You wonder why the CBRM is up in arms about equalization. We look at some of these issues here, but we won't go into that matter. Bill No. 230 is about housing and an audit of housing.

Yesterday I drove in from Cape Breton and I just happened to get a call on my cell phone that there was a question and answer period here in the Red Room yesterday for the Minister of Community Services to meet with the Halifax anti-poverty coalition. I attended that meeting, not in my suit, but in my travel clothes - my gym pants and jacket - and I fit right in and I sat down and listened to the people's concerns about affordable housing for people with disabilities. There's no affordable housing for people with disabilities. One of the major concerns these people had was affordable housing support programs, when people are in housing.

I know Bill No. 230 is about audits, but it gives me an opportunity to stand here and say this affordable housing program has been terrible in a sense that there has been nobody able to access any affordable housing. I forget how many units we have. I don't think we have over 100 units built in the Province of Nova Scotia. Of those units, how many are built for people with disabilities?

Then we can get into the home preservation program, a program they said they were going to spend money to have senior citizens be able to stay in their homes longer rather than going to nursing homes or long term care. I don't understand how this can be when they haven't built any of those units. They haven't been able to give out those grants.

People at home are saying, I applied for a grant and yet there's no money left in the budget. Here it is, October, and there's no money left in the budget for anymore of these emergency - what they call RRAP, Rehabilitation Residential Assistance Program.

I notice the Minister of Energy came out this past week and talked about his energy policy. In that policy, for two people to qualify they have to be under $25,000 for income. What I'm trying to say is that I wish the government would raise the level for a two-person

[Page 8447]

income to apply for RRAP grants from $20,000 to $25,000, because I have at least 10 or 15 people who have applied who were turned down who were $120 over the grant, $1,000 over the grant.

So this is about auditing the Housing Development Corporation Act, that's important because I surely would love to know where they're spending the money, you know, because I know they're not spending it in Cape Breton. I think every day every MLA who's in Cape Breton, whether it's the minister in Cape Breton North, or my colleague in Cape Breton Centre, my colleague in Cape Breton South, your telephone is constantly ringing about affordable housing, about the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority. So where are they spending the money? So maybe with this new auditing they may be able to come back in and say where they are spending the money.

Average rent in the HRM is $537 for a one-bedroom apartment. The HRM two-bedroom apartment is $720 a month. The vacancy rate is about 3 per cent in Halifax. The heating oil prices, I mean there's going to be, like my colleague has said earlier, the member for Timberlea-Prospect so eloquently put it that people are either going to heat their homes or have food. There's going to be a choice there where they're not going to be able to - they need an energy assistance program. This affordable housing, it's an issue - Mr. Speaker, for all of us who are in public life, for all of us who are members of the Legislative Assembly - that we do not have enough affordable housing units built in the Province of Nova Scotia. If that was the case, Mr. Speaker, my case workload would be cut in half if there were enough units built.

Years ago they used to have these units, and I think other members who were elected before my time would realize that right now they're sending contracts out in the CBRM for getting 10 units ready at a time. The contract comes in Saturday's Cape Breton Post, and then you will see they got 10 units ready, it might be two in Sydney Mines, one in North Sydney, two in Sydney, one in Whitney Pier, one in Glace Bay, one in New Waterford, that's the 10. So those 10 units are done on contract. At one time they used to have, I think they were called Winter Works Programs where people would come in and you would be able to have 40 or 50 people working to get these homes ready. So those programs have gone by the wayside now and they're contracting out - getting 10 ready at a time.

Bill No. 230 on the financial audit is very important that we do know where the government is spending its money. (Interruption) Where it's not spending it, you know. Thank you, my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, where they're not spending it. Do you know what I mean? Also, we look at the problem of homeless people which could get a lot worse here in the HRM if some of the buildings were inspected and some of the bylaws were enforced. As I drive into the community and realize if that was happening that some of these landlords or some of these people wouldn't be living in these buildings.

[Page 8448]

Also some of the issues that people brought up yesterday at that meeting, they brought issues about support. They need more money for support for affordable housing. When they're in that program, it would be on the budget to pay their housing or to have somebody pay their housing for them until they get back on their feet, people with disabilities. Bill No. 230, Mr. Speaker, I know it's to deal with auditing, but I mean personally - again I repeat myself - I would like to know where they're spending the money. I thought the session with the minister went relatively quickly. They were using a timer, so I guess the people asking the questions had about four or five minutes and the minister had a minute to answer the question, so it is very difficult in that type of scenario for them to answer the question. I think I remember that my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, was in a march along with these people from HCAP, they call themselves, and she went along for the day to help them. So with the $57 million in the Affordable Housing Program from the federal government and the provincial government, this audit will be welcome news, because we'll find out where they're spending the money. I know they're not spending the money in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality - zero, not one unit built. We had a project that was there and the project fell through.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Travelling allowances for the bureaucrats.

MR. GOSSE: Well, I don't know. My colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect, is saying travelling allowance for the bureaucrats. When we have people who need emergency repairs and there's no money left in the budget after six months of the budget coming in in March, there's something wrong, there's something wrong. We need more non-profit, public, affordable housing. We need safe, affordable housing for these people, and also for people with disabilities. If they build 24 units today, half of those units should be for people with disabilities.

[5:45 p.m.]

So we'll know with Bill No. 230 where they're going to spend their money. It's important to know where the government is spending their money, especially when you're accountable as a Member of the Legislative Assembly to the electorate who put you in there, your constituents, the people who come to your office - to be responsible, where they're spending the money on affordable housing. We have such a need for affordable housing in the Cape Breton area and HRM also. This is a common theme that we hear all the time as MLAs, throughout the Province of Nova Scotia, from one end to the other.

I remember the minister saying yesterday - well, I thought I remembered - something about children between 16 and 18 years of age who kind of fall through the gaps. (Interruptions) Well, if I was to leave this Legislature right now, as I'm standing here, and walk down Hollis Street or any of the streets here, I would see homeless people, right here, right now, pushing their grocery carts. I don't know if you've ever seen the movie Radio.

[Page 8449]

You look at that, pushing the grocery cart. My colleague, the member for Timberlea-Prospect is familiar with that in his riding, also.

The Hamm Government would rather give a share of the affordable housing funding to landlords in the form of rent supplements. That's not how we should be spending our money. Bill No. 230 calls for an audit on where they're spending the money. They are giving rent supplements, or should we be building affordable housing units, public-style affordable housing? (Interruptions) We need the best bang for our buck. We need all of us, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, to come together and say, look, we have to provide affordable housing. We have to know where they're going to be spending the money. Where is it best to spend the money, on co-operative housing, public housing? Where do we build these units?

How can Habitat for Humanity build a house in six weeks?

AN HON. MEMBER: With volunteers.

MR. GOSSE: With volunteers. And here we are with $57 million in the bank, in a federal-provincial program, and we haven't built one unit in Cape Breton. So, again, I refer back to Bill No. 230, and the audit of where it's going to be spent. I'm just wondering would I know, possibly, if this audit was done in a proper manner, where these units were being built? How many units were being built? How much money was being spent, and who was the money going to to build these units? I think that's important.

I know the bill is quite small and talks about auditing. I was really excited, I thought, well, Bill No. 230, Housing Development Corporation Act, oh boy, maybe there's going to be something in here to raise some hopes of the people living on the streets, or people who can't afford housing. I look at this, and I don't think so at all. We heard a lot. I know the minister heard all the concerns of the people yesterday in that forum in the Red Room, and still there will be no money spent in that area. I don't know - I think Alberta has built over 3,000 homes, and other provinces have built thousands of homes, and here we are in the Province of Nova Scotia and we're lucky to have 21 homes built or 100 homes built. I know they built 15 in Middleton, I think, and another six or so here in Halifax, but we're lagging so far behind.

Maybe with this audit in Bill No. 230 we'll be able to know where the money is being spent, and how much money. This bill was on affordable housing. If my memory serves me right, the bill was first signed in September 2002, and it was $37 million. As I said earlier, I think it's gone up to a total of $57 million. With this audit being reported to us as Members of the Legislative Assembly, we'll be able to know where they're spending the money, how they're focusing on dealing with such a serious problem as housing in this province.

[Page 8450]

Again I'd like to go back with this RRAP program, the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program - as we call it in Cape Breton, RRAP - and the people falling through the cracks. There's the limit in there for a family of two, of $20,000. Now that limit should be, in my personal view, up to $25,000 to include more low-income seniors. Bill No. 230, Mr. Speaker, when the government made their first announcement on the second stage of that bill, and they decided that when the bill was signed and it went up to $57 million - it's pretty exciting that we're going to have some kind of housing built here. But again, we still see zero housing in Cape Breton.

Like I said, the senior citizens fall in that gap. We're trying to say in society that we want senior citizens to stay in their own homes, but we cannot provide emergency repair grants for furnaces, windows, doors, insulation, for them to make their homes more energy efficient. So we do know that this Bill No. 230 is about auditing, Mr. Speaker, but I think there's so much more that could have been put in this bill. Actually this bill should have been two or three inches thick, if we really wanted to deal with the Housing Development Corporation Act in a proper manner. I think that there are lots of surveys out there on the homeless in the HRM, 35 per cent of respondents cited housing-related reasons such as the lack of affordable housing, eviction, fire, unsafe premises as their immediate concerns and cause of homelessness. I do know that is why these people are out on the street but how can we decide or how can we look at, as a government, where the money is being spent? Well, hopefully this Bill No. 230 will help us determine where the government is best getting the bang for their dollars.

Hopefully some of the things we've talked about today, about grants, home preservation program for seniors, other programs to help them stay in their homes, to help with some of the septic tanks and wells. I just wonder, how much of the budget is already gone in the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority? How much of it was spent? Well with this Bill No. 230 in the audit, we would be able to know how much was spent in each year. So I think it's important that we do know how much the department, the Minister of Community Services and the housing department are spending on affordable housing.

I spoke to the director of the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority last week and she assured me that they would have 20 units ready by next week. I mean 20 units for people of 400 on a waiting list. I mean, where are they spending their money? I had another senior on Lingan Road who sent an application to the housing. They said, well you know we would love to help but it looks like, right now, there's no more money left in the budget. With this Bill No. 230, we would know what was in the budget and what was being spent, Mr. Speaker.

I just think with the home-heating oil, there are going to be so many people coming to your office, or calling you as an elected representative, wondering, can they get into affordable housing? They're not going to be able to heat their homes so what they're looking at or coming to MLA's offices and saying, I need to get into housing. I need public housing,

[Page 8451]

but we as a government, and we as a society, cannot provide that because we don't have the housing stock. At one time, a year or maybe two years ago, when I first got elected, Mr. Speaker, there was lots of stock and the Cape Breton Island Housing Authority decided they had so much stock up on Church Street that they were going to rent it out at $450, a flat rate, and started putting people there. But since we are going through an energy crisis and people are having a hard time paying $800 to fill a 200-gallon tank. That's why we have this housing problem we have today.

Now this Bill No. 230, about the Housing Development Corporation Act, it's about time that we do know where the money is being spent. What regions of Nova Scotia are getting money for grants? What regions of Nova Scotia are getting money for the Home Preservation Program? Those types of things are important to us, as Members of the Legislative Assembly, but I mean to get rid of some of these people who are living in unsafe premises. That's why they're living on the streets and otherwise.

Some 66.7 per cent of families have unaffordable housing. One in every five children in Nova Scotia live in poverty, Mr. Speaker, and I know Bill No. 230 is about auditing the books about housing. People living in their cars while waiting for their hearing at the Residential Tenancies Board. We had an incident last year - it was well reported in the news media about a family living in a vehicle while they were waiting for affordable housing. Think about the people with mental illness. This again is why I bring back to what they had asked the minister yesterday and the Minister of Community Services in there telling them that people with disabilities need affordable housing support. They just don't need the housing. They need somebody to support them until they get their lives in somewhat of an order so they can have a roof over their head and heat, and help these people.

Now this Bill No. 230, dealing with the Housing Development Corporation Act is about auditing. So I think it's important that somebody else can have a look at the books and make sure that the money that we're spending and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia are spending, is going in the proper manner. Mr. Speaker, 45 per cent of homeless Canadians are on the street because of job loss and add it in with income or eviction. These are known facts, that we have people living in poverty, people living on the streets because they can't have affordable housing. It's only going to get worse this year, as it goes along with the price of oil, 80 cents a litre, and it costs $800 to fill a tank, and those types of things.

AN HON. MEMBER: How do you find a job when you don't have a home?

MR. GOSSE: Yes, how do you find employment when you don't have a home? How do you find employment when you have nowhere for someone to call you to go to work? I just wish this was not a problem in society, but it is a problem. It's a problem here in the Province of Nova Scotia; it's a problem that's not going to go away; and it's a problem that we as Members of the Legislative Assembly have to deal with.

[Page 8452]

With Bill No. 230, the Housing Development Corporation Act, hopefully we'll be able to know where the money is being spent. And these seniors - think of those who have applied for grants and fallen between the cracks. Again I go back to the point, the limit of $20,000 for low-income families. I remember the advertisement. I was driving home one weekend from Halifax, and on the radio it said the government has announced affordable housing, low-income to moderate-income housing.

Mr. Speaker, I know that Bill No. 230 is about a financial audit. I think it's important that we understand that affordable housing is a big issue here. Hopefully this bill will help deal with this. I think I'll wrap it up right now, and I thank you very much for your time.

I will move adjournment of the debate.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Deputy Government House Leader.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow is Opposition Day and I would ask that you recognize the honourable Liberal House Leader so that he has an opportunity to address the House hours and the House business, and to adjourn tonight's session.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Liberal House Leader.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from 2:00 p.m. until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will be calling Bill No. 223 and Bill No. 175. As a matter of fact, Bill No. 175 will be called first, and Bill No. 223 following.

I move that this House do now adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for the House to adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[Page 8453]

[6:00 p.m.]

The subject for tonight's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Cape Breton South. The resolution reads:

"Therefore be it resolved that government review its long-term care facility placement policies."

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: FACILITY PLACEMENT - POLICIES

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, tonight I would like to say a few words on our Department of Health's long-term care facility placement policy and, more specifically, how this policy needs to ensure that cultural and linguistic needs of Acadians and francophones of Nova Scotia are considered when admitting patients to nursing homes that are under the mandate of the Department of Health.

Mr. Speaker, right now this long-term care facility placement policy does not - and I repeat - does not ensure that cultural and linguistic needs of Acadians and francophones are considered when they are admitted to long-term care facilities. The department, the government needs to ensure that cultural and linguistic needs of Acadians and francophones are considered, and I'll tell you why. Just imagine an elderly francophone person who can't speak or understand one word of English, or has very little understanding of the English language - and yes, there are some of these people in our Acadian communities throughout Nova Scotia. My dad was one of them. Imagine being placed in a long-term care facility with unilingual staff who cannot communicate with the residents, or the residents not being able to communicate with staff.

Let's not forget who we're talking about. These are folks who could be in their 80s or 90s. Some of these folks could be hard of hearing. Some of these folks' health could be deteriorating. Some of these folks are not eating properly. Some of these folks are lonely. Some of these folks miss their communities and miss their friends and family back home. It's a known fact that some elderly people return to their mother tongue with age. A senior who has Alzheimer's, for example, generally speaks his or her mother tongue.

Allow me to share a few stories with you. Last month I was made aware, through family members, that their 86-year-old mom, awaiting to be discharged from the Yarmouth Regional Hospital to a long-term care facility was facing such a crisis. She told her family

[Page 8454]

that if she was placed away from her home in a long-term care facility that she would stop eating. Well, family members were distressed because it was out of character for her. Of course, her family told her she could not do that. If she stopped eating, she would die. You know what she replied? She stressed again to her family members that she would do just that, stop eating. Is this right? Mr. Speaker, of course, it's not right. For this 86-year-old lady who enjoyed life to the fullest before she was hospitalized, this is not acceptable.

Mr. Speaker, this cry for help can't go unnoticed. Once I became aware of this situation, I immediately wrote a letter to the Premier to inform him of this serious matter, and I copied the letter to the Minister of Health and the Minister of Acadian Affairs. I look forward to a reply to this important issue. I hope that reply will come soon.

Allow me to share with you one more story. This situation involved an 89-year-old lady who was transferred from the villa in Meteghan to the Yarmouth Regional Hospital, where she remained for several months. Upon discharge, she could not return to the villa which is actually in her own community, but was transferred to a long-term care facility in Granville Ferry outside of Annapolis Royal - 72 miles, one way, away from her home, according to her daughter.

Here again is another situation where a francophone was displaced from her culture. This 89-year-old lady has one living family member, her daughter. Her daughter was actually her caregiver before she was admitted to the villa. Her daughter made daily visits to visit her mom while she was a resident at the Meteghan villa, it was just up the road. She told me she used to drop in at least twice, sometimes three times a day to visit her mom.

Now, the family bonding has changed dramatically, and I must say not for the good. Her mother needs to try to communicate in a second language, which certainly cannot be easy for an 89-year-old lady. Her daughter's daily visits have become weekly visits because of limited family income. Travel expenses are beyond their means. However, her daughter does her best to visit her mom because she recognizes her time with her mom is limited, especially the fact that her mom is 89 and she was severely sick not long ago.

It breaks her heart to see her mom so lonely amongst strangers. Even more upsetting for her daughter to understand is her mom worked all her life. She paid taxes all her life, hoping one day when she retired that the government would be there to provide for her care. Again, her daughter is very disgusted with the current system which prevents her from being with her 89-year-old mom at a time which is most critical for the both of them. Mr. Speaker, this long-term care facility placement policy needs to have a human touch and show some compassion, dignity and understanding, especially to our francophone seniors.

Mr. Speaker, allow me to share with you one more story. A 91-year-old, whom I have known for a long time, was transferred from hospital to a nursing home in Granville Ferry, again near Annapolis Royal, she was transferred in early July, until she passed away in late

[Page 8455]

August. This remarkable lady lived all her life in Clare with her family of five. She loved her Acadian heritage. She was involved in many local Acadian organizations promoting Acadian culture. I can recall seeing this lady all dressed up in her Evangeline costume at many Acadian cultural events over the years. She truly loved her Acadian roots. However, looking back to where she was placed for the last two months of her life, makes me wonder how she felt being away from her Acadian culture, in her own little Acadie called home. I'm sure it was an emotional turmoil for her as well as it was for her family. This lady was very proud of her Acadian roots and of her language, her French language.

Another situation that has been brought to my attention is the following - not being called by your proper name, Mr. Speaker. French names are sometimes difficult to pronounce and some individuals have two names. Someone might not consider this to be a valuable concern, but I do and I'll give you an example. For someone being called Jean-Pierre, it's not Jean, it's not Pierre, it's not John, it's not Peter, it's Jean-Pierre. They've been called Jean-Pierre all their life or Marie-Claire, it's not Mary, it's Marie-Claire, or Mary-Claire. So, again, for some people it might not be a big concern, but for some people it is.

I know my time is up, Mr. Speaker. I hope that the government, that the minister, will seriously give some consideration in reviewing the placement policy and give some consideration to the points that I have raised.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

MR. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for Clare for bringing forward this resolution this evening:

"Therefore be it resolved that government review its long-term care facility placement policies."

Mr. Speaker, the fact is we are in the process of reviewing those policies, and the issues that were brought forward to the House this evening by the honourable member are a very important part of that review. The descriptions given by the honourable member are descriptions of situations that we as Nova Scotians need to work very hard to find ways of avoiding circumstances such as that when it comes to the placement of individuals within nursing homes. I'm not going to repeat all of the points made by the honourable member. He made those points very effectively.

However, it is important for him to understand that we want to address this situation. We want to ensure that circumstances such as those described by the honourable member are at a minimum, if not entirely eliminated, as we do business. I'm very reluctant to say that we can reach a stage where it will always be entirely eliminated, but we can do much better than we have been doing in the past. We are about four years into the single-entry process now

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and the time for review is appropriate and the time to address the issues raised by the honourable member is very appropriate as well.

This was a matter of discussion in Question Period today and I know honourable members opposite want to have specific dates and times with respect to when things would happen. They know that the issues are there and they want to see instant solutions and we want to see solutions as well, but we want to make sure that there are solutions that are appropriate and will work. It is within that context then that the review is occurring, and I very much appreciate the input from the honourable member opposite as well as the official Opposition who have engaged in this discussion today. I indicated earlier in Question Period that the Minister of Acadian Affairs has raised this issue with me and with officials within the Department of Health.

There are other circumstances that we need to address as well with respect to single entry. We want to be able to do a better job, for instance, of ensuring that spouses are able to get together as quickly as possible in nursing homes, when both require the services provided by nursing homes. We want to find ways to ensure that separation is kept to a minimum. It's, again, a very difficult circumstance to be able to always say that you're going to have two beds in a room where you can put a couple together right away. It's not going to work that way, but it's a question of priorities and it's a question of how the single entry is applied relative to those priorities. So we want to ensure that we're working in that direction with respect to these issues.

As I indicated, the process is underway and we will be bringing forward recommendations to deal with that. It happens that in this particular Summer the circumstances illustrated by the honourable member were somewhat compounded by the fact that 15 beds in Ville Saint Joseph were out of commission as a result of a renovation that was taking place in that facility, and that made the challenges more difficult because those beds, while not in the community of Clare, at least it was a facility where the language and the culture would have been an opportunity for individuals to use and express themselves in their language and be exposed to culture more than in other circumstances where individuals had to move further afield in order to be accommodated - but that is not to say that the bringing back of those 15 beds is in fact going to cure the problem. It isn't. It's a matter of how we apply the policy as we move forward.

Mr. Speaker, this is also an opportunity for us to look at just some of the more recent accomplishments that we have achieved with respect to the long-term care sector. If we go to this Spring's budget, I was able to announce specific initiatives that support families with continuing care needs. This year the province allotted $246 million toward long-term care - a $50 million increase over last year - and $128 million to home care. We have committed $1.5 million to open 25 nursing home beds in Cape Breton, $1.65 million is helping to establish 50 new restorative beds to increase access to the appropriate type of care patients need, and with $750,000 this year we were able to increase the scope of home care services.

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The more home care services we can provide, the longer we can keep individuals within their homes and that, of course, eases the pressure with respect to the long-term care sector, and a new self-managed care program for individuals with disabilities will be introduced this year with $0.5 million in new funding.

All of these are a testament to our commitment to seniors in Nova Scotia. Nursing homes, residential care facilities and community-based options are three types of homes within long-term care. I'm sure the honourable member would agree that these homes provide essential health services and comfort to thousands of individuals and families.

We're working hard to advance the long-term care system in our province. We're developing policies and changing programs in response to the ideas and concerns we have heard from residents, their families, seniors' groups and other Nova Scotians. Advancing long-term care is dependent on this input, as well as on researching best practices and international standards and approaches.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health is using all possible resources to develop the kind of long-term care system that Nova Scotians need. We are taking a new direction in long-term care, one which supports independence, fairness, equity and choice and those principles need to be applied in the circumstances raised by the honourable member with respect to the issue of culture.

This direction can be illustrated with action, Mr. Speaker. On January 1, 2005, the government implemented a new approach to funding long-term care in Nova Scotia. All members know we began paying for the health care costs for people in long-term care and implemented a whole range of new policies. Members are familiar with the consequences of those initiatives.

Mr. Speaker, I've addressed the issue with respect to placement and what it is that we want to do and we want to do that within the long-term plan for continuing care. I have a minute remaining and I will just use that minute to summarize the fact that we have had 1,400 people attended continuing care public consultations and focus group meetings across the province and who submitted comments in writing. With this input and with the consultation, not just from individual Nova Scotians, but as well as from all of the professionals involved in the long-term care sector, we feel that we will be able to come forward with a program which will address, first of all, keeping citizens in their homes longer and secondly, ensuring that we have the right number of long-term care beds in the appropriate places within the province and that we have the appropriate spectrum of care provided with facilities throughout the province. That is the objective of the consultation and I look forward to receiving its recommendations and setting out the steps we will take in

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order to implement those recommendations. High on that priority list will be addressing the single-entry access so that it respects cultural issues for individuals. Thank you.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I wanted to start, I guess with the last point from the minister. I had a chance to attend one of the continuing care seminars back in August in my area in Cole Harbour. I might say that holding consultations in HRM in the middle of the Summer probably wasn't the best idea, but there were some good ideas that did come out of it. So I just want to make that note.

I do want to thank the member for Clare for bringing this up because it is an important point, one that is obviously near and dear to his heart. He deals with his constituents on a regular basis and the issues that they face, and this is an ongoing concern, Mr. Speaker, throughout Nova Scotia. The francophone and the Acadian communities in Nova Scotia have always received the short end of the stick. They have always, let's face it, for centuries, been treated, in many cases, like second-class citizens. Their language, only on a federal level has been recognized as an official language and only through the Constitution Act of 1982 do we actually have some services for education that then can be provided to them. It was only in 1982 that they were guaranteed the right to minority rights with regard to education, but there are still many services in the province, in fact, the vast majority of services that come under provincial jurisdiction, and this is something that this province has been loath to try to address, even in places where clearly there is a demand for the services.

No one is asking, where there are only a couple of francophone families, to provide full services, but where you have them in places like Meteghan or Cheticamp or Richmond or industrial Cape Breton - I know full well from my relatives in New Waterford, there are still many francophones living in parts of industrial Cape Breton, many of them now seniors. Many of them who came down there during the 1930s and 1940s to work in the coal mines and work in the steel mill - there are many francophones in that area.

Now in HRM we see a growing population of francophones, many Acadian, obviously coming from the smaller communities throughout the province - Pubnico, Meteghan, Pomquet.

Mr. Speaker, these people are moving to Halifax, but also there are many francophones from other parts of Atlantic Canada, particularly northern New Brunswick and Moncton, and also many involved in the military who have moved. I know that my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, probably 10 per cent or 15 per cent of her actual constituency is francophone because her area has become a magnet because she has the Carrefour high school and she has the Bois Joli elementary school, which are francophone schools. So these are issues that are arising in Nova Scotia. They have been in place. They

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have been concerns. Now we see that francophones and Acadians for the first time are demanding services, and that in many ways is a good sign. The fact that we are here debating this tonight - in seven and a half years of my being in this House, it's not very often we've had much opportunity actually to debate on the ground key issues with regard to services for francophones. I think it's great that we're actually having this debate.

What's important though, Mr. Speaker, is that what we haven't done is gone from acknowledging that there's a problem to trying to address it on a systemic basis. We can try to say that on an ad hoc basis we'll fix this problem or we'll fix that problem, but the fact is in Nova Scotia we need to recognize and we need to face the fact that 5 per cent or 6 per cent of our population speaks French as a first language and, therefore, they have to be provided with the services. It's only right. It's only compassionate. It's only providing the dignity they deserve, given it's one of the two founding languages of our country.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to long-term care, I think we all know that there are some long-term care facilities, specifically in places where there are substantial francophone communities, whether it's in Clare, Pubnico, Yarmouth, Cheticamp, Richmond County, where you do have long-term care facilities where French is spoken, either as one of two languages or as the primary language. In those places the services are provided. What we have tonight is a debate about an issue that comes up when those facilities are full. Under the single-entry system they can be provided, I think, within 100 kilometres, they can go to any other facility in that district health authority.

As a result, Mr. Speaker, you end up, potentially having them being put into long-term care facilities where no one speaks French and the culture shock, as my colleague, the member for Clare, pointed out, particularly for people with issues of dementia and Alzheimer's, where they may be reverting back to their mother tongue, people who frankly did not speak English. They grew up in communities where French was the primary and in many cases the only language. If they do speak English, obviously, when you are in pain or when you are suffering, as people may tend to do in long-term care facilities, they may not be able to speak that second language. I think it's important that we recognize this fact and recognize the fact that culturally it's important that they be able, in the last years of their lives, to be provided with the services they need in their own language.

But let me be clear, that's not just long-term care facilities. This Department of Health needs to talk about its acute care. If you go to a hospital in this province, are you guaranteed that there's going to be someone in that hospital - a physician, a nurse - who's going to be able to speak to you in French? I don't think you are guaranteed that. What about home care? Do you have the ability, if you are able to leave the hospital and you're going home, to access home care in your language? Probably not. These are issues that need to be dealt with through a systemic change within the Department of Health.

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Last year we passed the French-language Services Act and it was unanimously adopted. We saw in this House the support of every one of the 52 members in this House, people saying this is important. For the first time we saw all three Parties agree that it was important that French language services be provided and that this province begin to recognize the need to provide those. The problem is, the first time we have a legitimate issue arising, not just a broad policy of, yes, it's a good idea, motherhood, it's a good idea to provide French services, when it comes down, when the rubber hits the road, we have a situation where the Department of Health, a year after we passed that law, is still not able to deal with what is probably a problem that should be addressed.

Now, the minister could have gotten up and said, here's our plan. In the next five years we intend to ensure that there is bilingual staff in every long-term care facility in Nova Scotia, that we'll make sure there's staff for people who are bilingual, or we will make sure that we provide the training to ensure there are people who are bilingual. We're not saying that we have to have francophones in long-term care facilities throughout the province. Obviously, that would be great in places where it's warranted. But why can't the minister get up and say, either in Question Period or here in debate, that we have a plan in the next five years to get to the point where we're going to have bilingual staff in these facilities. To me, that would begin to address the system, address the systemic nature of the problem and would ensure that we would actually have in place, in all of these facilities.

So in my riding where maybe 2 per cent or 3 per cent of my population is francophone, yes, predominately Franco-Quebecois or Franco-Ontarian because they're in the military. If they choose to retire here and they want to access a long-term care facility, I have one in my riding, Ocean View Manor. I'm not sure who speaks French. Frankly, it's not an issue that has come up with me, it's not an issue that has come up in my riding, but it will someday. There needs to be a recognition of the rights of those who speak French in our province, recognizing it as one of the two founding languages of our country. As the first Europeans that settled in this province, in this area, it's important that we recognize that fact and we recognize that they be provided with the services.

Let's be frank, beyond the places like Cheticamp and Richmond County and Meteghan and Pubnico and Yarmouth, the largest francophone population in this province is in HRM. Yes, they are a small part of the general population - maybe 5 per cent, maybe 6 per cent, 7 per cent, I'm not sure of the exact number, but the fact is that they will also need to access those services. Whether it's at the QE II or Ocean View Manor or home care, the fact is that they need access to those services in their language as well.

This minister has not and seems to not be able to provide us with answers as to how he thinks this is going to be done. He actually put into the legislation - thankfully, I might add, if there was ever any doubt this incident proves to me why we did it, that it's going to be mandatory for the government to pass regulations implementing French language services within the government, I think by end of 2006.

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Given that, this minister is going to have to do something. I just wish he would have been able today, instead of talking in broad strokes about reviewing long-term care or continuing care, recognizing the fact that cultural - particularly French language issues need to be addressed. They need to be addressed in a way that ensures that these people have access to it. Obviously, when they're in places like Meteghan or Clare or Pubnico or Cheticamp, it's important they do have it. In many cases they do now, but we need to make sure that it's there when they need it.

But, also for francophones throughout this province, they need to know that the health care system is there for them and they can access it in their own language. That's something this government has not committed to. That's something this government has not acknowledged either here today in Question Period or ever. That would be the step I would like to see because it takes that. We're talking culture? Let's talk about a cultural change within government, beginning to recognize that French language services need to be a part of its planning whenever it is designing programs - whether it's health care, education, community services.

It doesn't take a lot given today's level of bilingualism in this province to ensure there is staff that is bilingual wherever people access information within government. I think that would be what we need in order to fix this system. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The time for debate has expired and I thank all the honourable members for their participation. The House will meet again tomorrow at 2:00 p.m.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 8462]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4634

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Katie Henwood, who is a 2005 graduate from Parrsboro Regional High School, was the recipient of the Royal Bank sponsorship program this past summer with the Ship's Company Theatre; and

Whereas Katie's apprenticeship entailed her working with Trish Gilbert, box office manager; and

Whereas Ship's Company Theatre was proud to offer Katie a part-time job at their box office at the end of her apprenticeship;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Katie Henwood on being the recipient of this sponsorship program, and wish her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4635

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Alex Harrison from River Hebert High School took top senior athlete honours during the River Hebert District High School sports awards; and

Whereas Alex was a double winner as top athlete and MVP of the senior basketball squad; and

Whereas Alex's friends, family and fellow students are all very proud of his accomplishments and hard work;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Alex Harrison on these outstanding achievements, and wish him continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 4636

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Cadet David Ferguson of #1859 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Springhill was proud to receive his gold Royal Canadian Army Cadet National Rifle Team pin; and

Whereas David competed against British Cadet Rifle teams in Bisley, England and Connaught National Army Cadet Summer Training Centre in Ottawa, Ontario during July and August; and

Whereas David has made his friends, family, fellow students and this province proud of his accomplishments;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate David Ferguson on this outstanding achievement, and wish him all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4637

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Chelsie Cormier of Parrsboro proved to be a good Samaritan and was rewarded for returning bank documents; and

Whereas Chelsie went to the CIBC to do personal banking after regular business hours on September 12th, passing a truck parked outside of the bank with a canoe on the back as she entered; leaving the bank she noticed there were two yellow folders, a map of Nova Scotia and a digital camera lying on the ground beside where the truck had been parked; and

Whereas Chelsie opened one of the folders to look for information on who to return them to and noticing the CIBC logo, she realized it was important information and turned the folders, the map and the camera over to the Parrsboro RCMP;

[Page 8464]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Chelsie Cormier on her honesty and her duty to do the right thing, and this province thanks her and wishes her all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4638

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Kari Bragg of Collingwood Corner graduated from St. Francis Xavier University with her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree during convocation ceremonies on May 1, 2005; and

Whereas Kari graduated from Oxford Regional High School and was a well-liked and admired student; and

Whereas Kari is the daughter of Paul and Carolyn Bragg of Collingwood and has three brothers who are all proud of her accomplishment;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4639

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Michael Arsenault, an employee at Oxford Frozen Foods in Oxford and a volunteer firefighter, was a hero on April 19, 2005 when his 51-year-old co-worker had a dizzy spell and collapsed to the floor; and

Whereas Michael was there to help him to his feet and escort him to the first-aid room where he again collapsed, clutching his chest, going into convulsions, then gasping and stopped breathing; and

Whereas as 911 was called, Mike checked the co-worker's pulse and began administering CPR, successfully got the gentleman breathing again, while EHS arrived and transported him to hospital where it was discovered that he suffered a heart attack;

[Page 8465]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Michael Arsenault on this outstanding act of compassion, and thank him for understanding the importance of CPR training.