Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03/04/05-102

 

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

FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2005

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICE OF MOTION:
Res. 4954, Energy: Black River Wind Ltd. - Energy Generation.
Hon. R. Hurlburt (By Hon. A. MacIsaac) 9210
Vote - Affirmative 9210
Res. 4955, Cameron, David - Can. Instit. of Forestry Award,
Hon. R. Hurlburt (By Hon. A. MacIsaac) 9210
Vote - Affirmative 9211
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4956, DND: Polaris Report - Ignore,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9211
Vote - Affirmative 9212
Res. 4957, Off-Hwy. Vehicle Accident (10/27/05): Victims -
Condolences, Mr. L. Glavine 9212
Vote - Affirmative 9213
Res. 4958, Miller, David/Hefler, Royce - Masonic Lodge Long-Service
Awards, Mr. G. Hines 9213
Vote - Affirmative 9214
Res. 4959, Youth in Care Newsletter Proj.: Funding - Provide,
Ms. J. Massey 9214
Res. 4960, HRM - InNOVA Award, Ms. D. Whalen 9215
Vote - Affirmative 9215
Res. 4961, MacDonald, Rollie - Auto Racing: Success - Wish,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 9215
Vote - Affirmative 9216
Res. 4962, St. Theresa's Parish - Anniv. (75th) 9216
Mr. H. Epstein 9216
Vote - Affirmative 9317
Res. 4963, CBU Capers: Men's Baseball - Nat'l. Title,
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 9217
Vote - Affirmative 9218
Res. 4964, Morrison, Doug: Retirement - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 9218
Vote - Affirmative 9219
Res. 4965, CKDU - Anniv. (20th), Mr. D. Dexter 9219
Vote - Affirmative 9220
Res. 4966, East. Woodland Metis Nation: Aboriginal Commun. -
Recognize, Mr. W. Gaudet 9220
Res. 4967, Terry Fox Sch. Run - Lun. Co.: Fundraising - Congrats.,
Ms. J. Streatch 9221
Vote - Affirmative 9221
Res. 4968, Dart. Gen. Hosp. Aux. Bd.: Service - Thank,
Ms. M. More 9221
Vote - Affirmative 9222
Res. 4969, Patterson, Gordon & Norma - Anniv. (46th),
Mr. Gerald Sampson 9222
Vote - Affirmative 9223
Res. 4970, Carter, Mark & Brenda - Sm. Bus. Award,
Hon. E. Fage (By Hon. P. Christie) 9223
Vote - Affirmative 9224
Res. 4971, TPW: Transport. Auth. - Introduce,
Mr. J. Pye 9224
Res. 4972, MacLeod, Brian - N.S. Blind Open: Win - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 9225
Vote - Affirmative 9225
Res. 4973, Collection Agencies Act: Amendments - Proclaim,
Mr. G. Steele 9226
Res. 4974, Nat. Res. - Hunters: Safe Season - Wish,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9226
Vote - Affirmative 9227
Res. 4975, Sydney Airport - Flight Serv. Sta.: Gov't. (Can.) Closure -
Stop, Mr. F. Corbett 9227
Vote - Affirmative 9229
Res. 4976, Teachers Plus Credit Union: New Location - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 9228
Vote - Affirmative 9229
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 268, Pre-primary Education Act 9229
Hon. J. Muir 9230
Mr. W. Estabrooks 9232
Ms. D. Whalen 9234
Hon. R. Russell 9251
Adjourned debate 9251
PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING:
No. 222, Tobacco Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act 9252
Hon. R. Russell 9252
Mr. K. Deveaux 9253
Mr. Michel Samson 9253
Mr. David Wilson (Sackville-Cobequid) 9269
Mr. David Wilson (Glace Bay) 9271
Adjourned debate 9273
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Mon., Oct. 31st at 2:00 p.m. 9273
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)
Res. 4977, Collingwood & Dist. FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9274
Res. 4978, Oxford FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9274
Res. 4979, Parrsboro FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9275
Res. 4980, Wentworth FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9275
Res. 4981, Fox River - Port Greville - Ward Brook FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9276
Res. 4982, Joggins FD: Serv. - Thank,
The Speaker 9276

[Page 9209]

HALIFAX, FRIDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2005

Fifty-ninth General Assembly

First Session

9:00 A.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We will now begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

9209

[Page 9210]

RESOLUTION NO. 4954

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

Whereas the province recognizes the economic and environmental benefits of wind energy to generate electricity; and

Whereas the Department of Natural Resources, together with the Department of Energy, developed a policy in order that Crown land might be made available for wind energy generation in accordance with certain policies and procedures; and

Whereas the department's first lease agreement for wind energy generation on Crown land was signed with Black River Wind Limited of Inverness County on May 19, 2005;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Black River Wind Limited for obtaining the first lease for wind energy generation on Crown land at Cape Mabou Highlands, Inverness County and recognize the importance of the wind energy industry in the future production and use of energy in the province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 4955

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

[Page 9211]

Whereas Mr. Donald Cameron is the Coordinator of Private Land Management and Regional Coordinator of Extension Forestry for the Department of Natural Resources; and

Whereas Mr. Cameron is also responsible for central Nova Scotia's wildlife habitat and watercourse protection regulations and has written a weekly column entitled, A Walk in the Woods, for Nova Scotia newspapers, encouraging Nova Scotians to consider the province's forests and forestry; and

Whereas the Canadian Institute of Forestry has presented its presidential award in recognition of Mr. Cameron's outstanding achievement and distinguished personal contribution to the practice of forestry;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mr. Donald Cameron on being presented with this distinguished award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4956

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

Whereas a recent report from the Polaris Group criticized the federal government for spending too much money on the defence of our nation; and

[Page 9212]

Whereas, in fact, Canada is one of the lowest funders of its defence forces per capita within NATO; and

Whereas the recent increase in funding to the Department of National Defence is still not sufficient to ensure our troops can accomplish all we ask of them at home and abroad;

Therefore be it resolved that this House encourage the federal government to ignore the Polaris report and expedite the modernization and enhancement of the Department of National Defence.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4957

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

Whereas yesterday the province suffered a great loss when two young girls died in a tragic off-highway vehicle accident; and

Whereas the families of these young girls are today dealing with these losses and need our prayers; and

Whereas when tragedies occur, not only the families, but their schools, their friends and their communities also grieve the loss of life and potential;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House of Assembly send their condolences and prayers to the families of these girls.

[Page 9213]

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 Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 4958

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

Whereas two Masonic Lodges recently presented outstanding long-service awards to two distinguished gentlemen; and

Whereas David Miller of Fall River was presented with a 65-year service bar from the C.W. Saunders Masonic Lodge; and

Whereas Sackville's Royce Hefler was presented with his 50-year service bar from Masonic Lodge 104 of Bedford;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the long and dedicated service provided by these two gentlemen to the Masonic Lodge and wish them only continued good health and happiness.

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 9214]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4959

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 June 2, 2005, I had the privilege to attend a presentation of the Youth in Care Newsletter Project, which provides these wonderful youth who are in the care of the minister with the opportunity for self-enrichment, communication, education, the means to make connections with their peers and the community at large; and

Whereas we were all presented with a copy of The Voice, which is full of heartfelt stories and poems; and

Whereas there is still no sustained funding for this program in its fourth year, and they can only afford to publish The Voice once per year, although there is the interest and need for a full-time program;

Therefore be it resolved that this government provide appropriate sustainable funding for the Youth in Care Newsletter Project so that young people in care can continue to benefit from this wonderful program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Clayton Park.

[Page 9215]

RESOLUTION NO. 4960

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

Whereas Halifax Regional Municipality has won the 2005 InNOVA Award recognizing the municipality's unique delivery of municipal services and programs, specifically the sustainable environment strategy; and

Whereas through the use of biofuels in buses and ferries, vehicle-idling reduction program and encouraging public transportation, HRM has developed strategies to improve our environment; and

Whereas the community energy project, developed to build a natural gas-fired heat and electrical power plant which uses the waste energy to heat universities and hospitals, is an example of the commitment that HRM has made;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Halifax Regional Municipality for winning the InNOVA Award for the second year in a row.

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. 4961

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

Whereas Lyons Brook, Pictou County, resident Rollie MacDonald was inducted earlier this year into the Canadian Automobile Racing Hall of Fame; and

[Page 9216]

Whereas at the age of 61, Rollie returned to active racing in the premiere Atlantic Racing Series on tracks across the Maritimes when his sponsored driver, Scott Fraser, was accidentally killed in a snowmobile accident; and

Whereas Rollie, when he returned to the premiere Atlantic Racing Series, finished first when he won the Maritime Car Quest Pro Stock Car Tour driving the #13 King Freight Lines Chevrolet-sponsored vehicle;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the gritty determination and athletic prowess of Lyons Brook's, and Pictou County's, Rollie MacDonald and wish him continued good racing.

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 on an introduction.

HON. CHRISTOPHER D'ENTREMONT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I'd be remiss if I didn't do this - may I get your attention to the east gallery, to a lady that I have very much respect for, my wife, Anne d'Entremont. I'd like to get her to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House.

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome our special guest to the gallery today.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

[9:15 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4962

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

[Page 9217]

Whereas St. Theresa's Parish in Halifax is celebrating its 75th Anniversary this year; and

Whereas the members of St. Theresa's Parish have contributed significantly to the West End of Halifax, notably through their support of Oxford School, youth programs, and the many seniors programs that are hosted by the church; and

Whereas events marking this anniversary have been attended by generations of parishioners, including some who attended the first Mass celebrated on Christmas Eve, 1930;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the people of St. Theresa's Parish in Halifax on the occasion of their 75th Anniversary as they continue their mission of good works and steadfast faith.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4963

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

Whereas Cape Breton University defeated York University of Ontario 1-0 in the final baseball game at Susan MacEachern Field in Sydney; and

Whereas the Cape Breton University Capers won their first baseball national title in the Canadian Inter-Collegiate Baseball Association; and

[Page 9218]

Whereas this is the third year for the Capers baseball program and the second national title for Capers athletics, the first being in 1978 and the Capers Men's Hockey team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Cape Breton University Capers men's baseball team for winning the second national title in the university's history.

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. 4964

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

Whereas one of Kentville's most senior businessmen, Doug Morrison, owner of Valley Stationers, was selected Canadian Dealer of the Year by Office Pro after 50 years in the office supply business; and

Whereas Doug Morrison has been an independent dealer in Kentville since 1962 and has branched out across the province, buying LaHave Stationers in Bridgewater and setting up an office in Truro; and

Whereas 40 years ago Doug Morrison had a staff of three, now there are 31 people in his employ;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Doug Morrison on his recent award and as his sons prepare to take over operations, we hope he enjoys his retirement spending time with his wife, Mary Ann and their nine grandchildren.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9219]

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 4965

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

Whereas since 1985, CKDU-FM 97.5 remains the only FM campus-community radio station in Halifax; and

Whereas CKDU has been celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a mammoth fundraising drive, including many events at different venues throughout the city from October 21st through Saturday, October 29th; and

Whereas CKDU, run by three full-time and four part-time staff and over 200 community volunteers broadcast 24 hours a day, 365 days per year from Dalhousie University to an audience that is now world-wide via the Internet at www.CKDU.ca;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate CKDU, the staff, volunteers, donors and supporters for their time and energy to produce quality programs that showcase our city locally as well as globally.

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 9220]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 4966

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

Whereas the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation represents an aboriginal people steeped in the history of Acadie/Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation responds to the political, cultural, social and economic needs and interests of all Metis Aboriginal people in this province; and

Whereas the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation has identified and represents over 5,000 Metis people in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia recognize the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation, Nova Scotia as one of the Aboriginal communities of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

Order, order please. Could the honourable member for Clare please read the "Therefore be it resolved" please?

MR. GAUDET: Therefore be it resolved that the Government of Nova Scotia recognize the Eastern Woodland Metis Nation, Nova Scotia as one of the Aboriginal communities of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 9221]

The notice is tabled.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4967

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

Whereas Lunenburg County set a fantastic example for the rest of the country at this year's 25th annual Terry Fox school run day with almost 4,000 students, teachers and staff participating; and

Whereas the Lunenburg event held on September 16th was one of the largest and best organized events in the country and certainly the biggest in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the South Shore Regional School Board was the first district in Canada to achieve 100 per cent voluntary participation in the run;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the students, teachers and staff from Lunenburg County who participated in the Terry Fox school run and also for generating over $26,000 in pledges.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South-Portland Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 4968

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

[Page 9222]

Whereas the Dartmouth General Hospital Auxiliary is a non-profit volunteer support service organization whose 195 members are dedicated to enhancing patient and family care within the facility; and

Whereas the hospital auxiliary's services and programs include the front lobby and emergency entrance information desks, gift shop, patient menus and night lunches, palliative care support, transitional care support and the library; and

Whereas the auxiliary raised over $1.4 million through ongoing fundraising activities to support hospital expansion and the purchase of medical equipment;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia House of Assembly express its appreciation and congratulations to the Dartmouth General Hospital Auxiliary Board, members and supporters, including current president, Shirley Morash, and past president, Jim Muise, for their countless hours of service on behalf of the community of 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 Victoria-The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4969

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

Whereas Gordon and Norma Patterson were married 46 years ago on October 26th; and

Whereas Gordon and Norma spent their careers in military life before retiring to Kempt Head on Boularderie Island; and

[Page 9223]

Whereas Gordon and Norma are actively involved in their community, having been responsible for opening the Ross Ferry fire hall, are members of several community organizations, and best friends with this MLA and his wife;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House of Assembly congratulate Gordon and Norma on their 46th Wedding Anniversary which was October 26, 2005.

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 Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 4970

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

Whereas the Amherst and Area Chamber of Commerce honoured the husband and wife team, Mark and Brenda Carter of Carter's Sports Cresting, as Small Business of the Year 2005 on Tuesday evening, October 25th; and

Whereas the Carters are very active in the community with Rotary, minor hockey, soccer and curling and while entering their seventh year of business, they've added an engraving division and sign making to their cresting; and

Whereas besides Brenda and Mark, there are seven employees, one being a salesperson travelling to New Brunswick and P.E.I. offering their services Brenda laughs and remarks that the employees can keep a secret too, as the plaque awarded her and her husband was manufactured in their shop and neither of them knew about it;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in sending our congratulations to the Carters for this deserving Small Business Award, and wish them continued success and growth in the future.

[Page 9224]

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 4971

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

Whereas in 2002 the provincial Tory Government introduced legislation, which fell

by the wayside, titled the Capital Transportation Authority, to address transportation issues in the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas the transportation of people and goods has a profound effect on our energy resources and the environment; and

Whereas the majority of Nova Scotians are environmentally concerned and have embraced one of the finest recycling, reducing and reusing programs in North America, if not worldwide, and are prepared to do the same to reduce their dependence on petroleum products;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislative Assembly urge the provincial government to introduce a province-wide transportation authority to better utilize energy resources and protect the environment.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9225]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4972

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

Whereas Brian MacLeod of Truro won the U.S. Blind Open to solidify his status of one of the top blind golfers in the world; and

Whereas Brian MacLeod had a six-stroke margin of victory in the totally blind division, besting players from Canada, the United States, England, Scotland and Ireland; and

Whereas Brian MacLeod, in 2005, has also won the North American blind match play championship and the Nova Scotia blind golf championship;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Brian MacLeod on winning the U.S. Blind Open in the totally blind division, and wish him continued success on the golf course and in all of his other activities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to add one thing that I couldn't incorporate. This past week, I think he won the California Blind Open. (Applause)

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

[Page 9226]

RESOLUTION NO. 4973

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I know the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is going to want to agree to this one.

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

Whereas amendments to the Collection Agencies Act and the Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act were introduced by the government and passed by this House in 2003; and

Whereas these amendments were important and necessary to ensure a fair balance between the rights of creditors and the rights of debtors; and

Whereas the government has not, two full years later, seen fit to proclaim these amendments into law;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly request that the Governor in Council proclaim into law, as soon as possible, the 2003 amendments to the Collection Agencies Act and the Consumer Creditors' Conduct Act that were duly debated and passed by this House.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4974

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

Whereas Canadians are linked by a common appreciation for this country's wilderness; and

[Page 9227]

Whereas Nova Scotians have a history of going into the woods in the Fall of the year to enjoy Nova Scotia's forests during hunting season; and

Whereas today, October 28th, is the start of Nova Scotia's deer-hunting season;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly wish hunters this Fall a safe and rewarding month in Nova Scotia's forests.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 4975

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I know the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations is going to want to agree to this one.

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

Whereas NAV Canada has announced its intentions to remove vital aviation services now provided by flight service specialists from the Sydney Airport; and

Whereas relocating these vital services to Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island will remove jobs from the local economy and lower the status of the Sydney Airport, thereby affecting their ability to attract new customers and business to the airport and Cape Breton; and

Whereas the success of the Cape Breton business community relies on getting people to and from Cape Breton;

[Page 9228]

Therefore be it resolved that this House demand the federal government stop its plan to close the flight service station at the Sydney Airport, and instead work with the community and the province to expand transportation links to Cape Breton Island.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Education.

[9:30 a.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 4976

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

Whereas the grand opening of the Teachers Plus Credit Union took place on Saturday, October 1st at its new location on Brookshire Court in Bedford; and

Whereas this credit union has provided valuable service to its clientele for many years; and

Whereas all in attendance at the grand opening expressed their appreciation of the staff of the Teachers Plus Credit Union;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate the Teachers Plus Credit Union on its new location.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 9229]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre is going to read the "Therefore be it resolved" in that resolution again.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Thank you, Mr. Speaker:

Therefore be it resolved that this House ask the federal government to stop its plan to close the flight service station at the Sydney Airport, and instead work with the community and the province to expand transportation links to Cape Breton Island.

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.

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. 268.

Bill No. 268 - Pre-primary Education Act.

[Page 9230]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to begin the debate on second reading of Bill No. 268, an Act Respecting Pre-primary Education.

One of the greatest gifts we can give our children is a quality education, and as all members know, this province has always made education one of its top priorities. As a government, over the past six years we have made many investments in the public school system. For example, this year alone we invested more than $11 million to reduce class sizes in the early grades. We've increased funding in supports for students with special needs and for those who need more support from us to reach their full potential. We have also expanded youth apprenticeship opportunities.

There are now over 1 million more books and other resources in our public school classrooms, and at the high school level we are setting the bar high by introducing new advanced courses which will better challenge our more able students, and it is all part of our Learning for Life plan.

The work to steadily improve and support new initiatives for our P to 12 students continues, but now the time has come to turn our attention to our preschool learners, the children not yet in school, but who nevertheless benefit from a ready-for-school program. Mr. Speaker, research shows quite clearly that quality early learning experiences improve student achievement by establishing a strong educational foundation for youngsters. Children who can adapt to social settings and who become accustomed to structured programs enter Primary more ready and eager to learn.

Mr. Speaker, the Pre-primary Education Act is necessary. We need legislation that will make it clear to everyone that this program is distinct from the public school program. This is a program that is all about early childhood education and school readiness. This legislation will formally allow school boards to pilot this new program for four-year olds. Children in this age group are developmentally ready to learn and ready to do so in a group or classroom-style setting.

Educators believe four-year olds should have access to high-quality preschool programming to ensure a positive start to their formal education. That is why we are piloting this important program in partnership with the Departments of Community Services, Health, and the Office of Health Promotion.

The provincial government, along with the Annapolis Valley, Chignecto Central, Cape Breton-Victoria, Halifax, South Shore, Strait and Tri-County Regional School Boards, as well as CSAP, have taken care to situate these pilot classrooms in areas where school space is available and where private child care is limited.

[Page 9231]

There are some excellent private programs in this province, there's no question about that, and they fill a very valuable role, but not all children have access to them and what this program does for the pilot will give 360 of the provinces 8,000 four-year olds, who are not able to access existing programs, access toward the pre-Primary pilot this year and next.

This pilot program, Mr. Speaker, will be voluntary and free of charge to families. It will be open to all children who have reach four, on our before October 1st. It will welcome youngsters, identified with special needs or disabilities. The pre-Primary pilot as sought out in our Learning for Life II plan, will be introduced in 19 sites this year. The first 14 pilots are already underway. Others will be launched early in 2006. In total, as I have indicated, about 720 children will be enrolled in the program during the pilot phase.

Each pilot site will offer a full day, five-day a week activity-based program for up to 18 children, Mr. Speaker. The emphasis will be on developing social skills and helping each child acquire the foundational skills that will help them to be better prepared to read, write and to learn mathematics when they enter school. Children participating in the program will improve self-confidence, self-respect, respect for others and they will expand their capacity to listen, to speak, to participate in groups and to explore various means of self-expression.

The daily program will be child-centred and play-based, providing children an opportunity to discover and solve problems both individually and with others in a safe and nurturing environment. The curriculum itself, Mr. Speaker, is designed to draw out the emerging skills that must be learned at age four, to ensure life-long learning. It is rich in language, literacy, mathematics, art and science content. Each classroom will be staffed by two qualified early childhood educators; one in the lead capacity and the other as support. Day to day supervision of the program will fall under the school principal who will be supported by the provincial coordinator of the Pre-Primary Program.

Parents and guardians will also have a key role to play, Mr. Speaker. They will be welcomed in the classroom as observers, as volunteers and as full partners in the education of the children. Parents too will be integral in evaluating their child's learning and the pilot program itself.

Mr. Speaker, this pilot will operate for two years, followed by a detailed evaluation at the close of the 2006-07 school year. Again, the aim is to instill a positive attitude toward learning and at the same time, prepare some of Nova Scotia's young learners for public school. This pilot is new to Nova Scotia and represents an educational first for Atlantic Canada. We expect these pilots will allow school boards sufficient time to test as many options as possible, so that recommendations can be made to government on the future of the program, including if the results are positive, how and by whom the Pre-Primary Program should be offered. We will assess the curriculum and how the program is delivered.

[Page 9232]

We will examine the impacts related to transportation and we will look at cost. We appreciate the concerns we're hearing about transportation and as you know, board-supplied transportation is not part of the pilot. Our concern is safety. Transporting very small four-year olds to and from the pre-Primary sites is very complex and not to be taken lightly. It's not as easy as simply using the school buses as some members of the House might have us believe.

In the evaluation of this initiative we will also tap the expertise of the Primary teachers, who receive the pre-Primary children in the Primary year. This Pre-Primary Program has a lot of promise. As I say, we will be evaluating it very carefully. We, again, want to emphasize we recognize there are many existing programs out there that offer quality programming to pre-Primary children. The initial site selection was done by school boards. One of the principles of that, we hope, was that they would go in areas of greatest need, i.e. where a great many children did not have access to existing programming.

Again, to reiterate, this is the first time that this has been done in Atlantic Canada and we are excited about it. The initial feedback we have had has been very positive and we think it's something that is needed and if the pilot proves to be successful, it will be evaluated carefully. Hopefully, we will be able to expand the program.

With those few words, I now move second reading of the Pre-primary Education Act.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his comments. Someone must have been paying attention to concerns about transportation because there is a certain buzz in the community that I represent - overcrowded schools, portables outside, no place for one of these particular pilots. I understand the board, of course, made some wise choices in the school board that is within the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect.

There will be a number of our members speaking on this particular issue because it is a piece of legislation that we are looking forward to moving on to the Law Amendments Committee. Perhaps we'll have a suggestion or two or a change or two for the department when it comes to maybe a better way of looking at the consistency of the age admission as we go across the country.

I want you to know, each and every year I hear, particularly from mothers and fathers in the military, about what is the age of admission to schools in Nova Scotia as compared to other jurisdictions where perhaps they've been stationed in the previous year. That's a concern that I think we would look forward to with consistency when it comes to the age of admission.

The buzz that has resulted has brought up some interesting scenarios and we'll be talking about them at the Law Amendments Committee particularly when it comes to the

[Page 9233]

criteria. At this stage, I'm not going to divulge some of the particulars of the parents involved. A parent from Timberlea who is working in the community of Sackville is interested in the possibility of having her daughter attend the site located in Hillside Elementary. What would be the criteria for that particular direction? After all, this is not within the catchment area of that wonderful little elementary school in Sackville. It comes from another community, but that young lady's mom works in the community of Sackville, so here we go with the question of criteria.

I understand that with a pilot project we'll be working out the kinks. In a couple of years we'll be looking to see what works and doesn't work. I understand that we can't have, nor would we want, the department to micromanage when it comes to an issue such as criteria. But I would hope the department would play a role in particularly looking at the criteria. I often recall seeing those times when early French immersion, particularly in some jurisdictions, where the parents lined up the night before with their sleeping bags to make sure their children got into immersion. I don't think we need a repeat of that particular way of admission, that criteria would take some guidelines and perhaps the department will have some advice for school boards when it comes to that particular issue.

There's the example of the Timberlea mother - do these children have to live within the catchment area of the school? Do they have to live in the community? What is the community of Lower Sackville as opposed to the community of Beaver Bank? I understand I'm dealing with the HRM here, but I'm sure there are other areas which are of concern.

I know my learned friend for Sackville-Cobequid will be bringing up this particular example. When we look at the sites that have been chosen in his community, it is a fully bused elementary school. Fully bused. In particular, it services the Sackville Manor in Sackville and that particular trailer court has many of the children, of course, bused to that school.

We now have a situation - I understand the minister making his comments about three-year olds, four-year olds being put on school buses, but I think we're putting certain parents at a true disadvantage. In other words, we'll have school buses pull up to a school where there's a site for this pilot project and on the bus will be the Primary children up to whatever grade they go to in this elementary school. It will be the parents' responsibility to drop off and pick up the kids who will be in the pilot project. In certain situations, I know the minister is aware of them, either through listening in this House or through the Minister of Community Services, it will certainly put some parents at a disadvantage either because of economic situation, perhaps work situation, perhaps as single parents, all those things factor into the issue of transportation.

[Page 9234]

[9:45 a.m.]

I understand the minister and his comments pointed out at a press conference that was one of the concerns that crossed my mind so I brought it up. I'm not saying that I have the answers on that particular issue but I think it's important to understand that's a concern, from the buzz in the community that I represent. It's a positive buzz I must say, it's a positive result that has come out of this. Parents are paying attention to this particular announcement, they're looking forward to many cases of having their children involved in pilot projects. These are some of the questions that they're asking. If they ask the questions to us as MLAs I think we're obliged to bring them up in the Legislature and relay these questions to the minister and his staff.

There is no doubt that self-esteem and personal growth is a benefit that will come out of these young people involved in the school system. I think it was also important that when we heard the minister's comments today, as we look at what will actually be happening in these class situations, in these school sites - who will be taking the lead and the particular specifics as we evaluate this pilot. Mr. Speaker, pre-Primary has a role in the school system in Nova Scotia, it's a bill that this caucus is looking forward to moving on to the Law Amendments Committee. We will have some suggestions, we will continue to bring forward the concerns that are brought to our attention by parents. Hopefully the Department of Education will be responsive to those questions and in turn they will consider the fact that perhaps there is an amendment or two that could be used to strengthen this bill and give consistency to this bill for other jurisdictions across our country.

With those comments Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place and I thank you for my opportunity to be able to speak today on this important piece of legislation.

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

MS. DIANA WHALEN: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to begin debate on the Pre-primary Education Act as we look at it in second reading. The first question that really rose in my mind when I was made aware that the minister was bringing a bill forward was exactly why we needed a bill or piece of legislation to accompany a pilot project of this nature. The project was announced in the Spring budget as we all know and we had discussed it to some extent at that time. Suddenly here we are, we find ourselves at this point in time looking at a piece of legislation to, I guess, clarify. The bill itself is a one liner, it doesn't include anything but the one line. It makes you wonder what exactly the purpose was to do that. I had suggested maybe it was just to continue to talk or toot the government's horn to say that they were doing a good job.

When we talk about the need for pre-Primary and early childhood education it opens up a tremendous number of questions. One of the studies that's often looked at is an American study that was done over a 40-year period, to really provide some wonderful and

[Page 9235]

strong evidence that early childhood education makes a huge difference in the development and the lives of people as they grow and as their lives unfold. In that study they looked at children in two groups in the same underprivileged area providing one group with an early childhood enriched environment and another group without. Then over many years they looked at their interaction with education, whether they completed high school, whether they had any further higher education. They continued on and had a chance to measure whether or not they had interactions with the law, whether they were ever arrested and so on. The evidence was very clear. In that study there were 123 young African-American children that were studied. They were all identified as being at risk and living in poverty, and certainly here in Nova Scotia we have communities that would also be at risk. We know they're in every community in our province.

Here in HRM, as we know, through supplementary funding, we do provide a 4-Plus Program and have for many, many years. I don't know all of the locations, but I know certainly St. Patrick's-Alexandra School on Brunswick Street has that program, and in Spryfield I believe Rockingstone Heights Elementary School has a program - in fact my sister-in-law has taught that program for a number of years in Rockingstone Heights. She teaches either Primary or pre-Primary, this 4-Plus, and it's a wonderful program that enriches the children and allows them to reach a level of preparedness that's equal to the other children who are coming into our system at age five.

So what we know is that over that period of time, if you provide that early childhood education - and I'm just going to go over the major findings of that study from the U.S. because, as I say, it's a longitudinal study. It goes over many, many years and it showed just how much of a difference it made in their lives in that the number of graduates was 12 per cent higher for the program group, it was 72 per cent as opposed to 60 per cent. Their earnings were much higher if they were in the program group that received the pre-Primary assistance. The number of arrests was much, much less - there was still interaction with the law, but much lower than what we found with the group that didn't receive that enrichment.

I think that this study alone has been quoted often as a rationale and a reason to invest; in fact I remember in the 2003 election it was a big part of the head start and part of the policies that the Liberal Party campaigned on, which was to put more emphasis on education, more time and (Interruptions) don't you remember? I'm glad you do. Yes, it was actually one of our key platforms, to look more at education, and early childhood education, because if you put more money in at the early end you will reap tremendous benefits. (Interruptions) It was called the Healthy Starts program, that's it. (Interruptions) That's right.

Anyway, as I say, there are tremendous benefits and from that point of view, if I could, Mr. Speaker, recognizing the need for debate, recognizing the need for discussion around this issue, clearly there is a strong, strong need and rationale for improving the kind of opportunities we give to our pre-Primary-aged children. Not everybody can afford to go

[Page 9236]

to the preschools that operate in people's homes, in community centres, and in other daycare and preschool operations.

Just if I could, I would like to explain the experience I had moving here in 1990 from Ottawa and looking for a preschool for my daughter. I was very surprised because we don't really have identifiable preschools, or we didn't at that time. What I found were daycares that had some part-time programs and I really wanted to get a little preschool that she could go to that was really designed for enrichment. When I looked in the phone book and went through the Yellow Pages and tried to identify where those resources were, I found it very difficult - and I am somebody who does know how to access available registries and lists and books and I was having a hard time finding them. What I realized after talking to other mothers and people in the community was it's word of mouth. The ones that people wanted to go to in Clayton Park were mostly in people's homes - they were retired teachers or people with early childhood education training, who ran small preschools in their homes, and they had very good reputations and were well-known, but you had to know about them and hear about them from someone else in order to get in there.

In the interim I went to Mount Saint Vincent University where they have a childhood study centre and that's used as part of the training for early childhood educators at the Mount. It's a big and well-run program, very well-respected, in fact their director is now, I think, the director of daycare and early childhood education here with the province, in the Department of Community Services.

It was a good program. It was a full-day daycare that allowed some people to come in, you know, on alternate mornings, or three mornings a week.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's still there.

MS. WHALEN: It's still there. Yes, my husband works at Mount Saint Vincent University and it's still a program, still a degree program for four years at a stretch as well. That's another issue again, whether we should be charging young people four years of full tuition to graduate with early childhood education and receive very low payment in our daycare centres, but at the same time, it's a very valuable study and it does differ from the education program studies. I think it's necessary to make that point clear, too, that the kind of skills you need to work in a preschool and with young children differs from the kind of training you might need in a public school system teaching Primary to Grade 12, for example.

So I think it's important to note that that program still exists. My daughter attended it, it wasn't ideal because she only came in two mornings a week, whereas the other kids were there five days a week, all the time, so she never really was sort of fully integrated into the program. She, in fact, was very conscious of the fact that the other kids would be going to eat when I was her picking her up, or that there were other things that she wasn't partaking

[Page 9237]

in. So I really was looking, at that time, for a preschool. Just a little program that would be several days a week, or even if it was every morning, but something that would be designed with that intent in mind and not with daycare, because at that time that was not my need. I wasn't working, so I didn't have the money for every day either, so there's another point, because it's expensive.

That's why we come back to the idea of this Pre-Primary Program which I assume the intent is to be universal at some point in time, so that all children would benefit. When I begin this discussion with the minister and with my learned colleagues here today, I think it's very important that we go back to the fact this was put in the budget in Spring 2005 with no consultation. School boards had no idea this was coming, parents, daycare and preschool operators, where they are and where they exist, had no idea. Nobody ever spoke to them to ask their opinion, to ask how preschool differs from Primary and other elementary grades. What kind of curriculum are we looking at? How are we busing or transporting the kids? Where are we going to locate those programs? It was very slapdash. It was saying, yes, there is a need for early childhood education and let's just roll something out right away. Let's just get something on the books and roll it out and look like we're really active in doing something worthwhile.

Well, you have left an awful lot of people confused. The school boards have not been able to get their programs up and running at the speed that perhaps the Department of Education would have liked. Many of them have yet to open their programs up. I noticed in the press release the other day that a number of boards were mentioned as saying that they are underway. It says, 14 pilot programs are already underway at schools in the Annapolis Valley, Cape Breton-Victoria, the French school board, the Strait ,Tri-County, and Chignecto Central.

When I spoke to one of the board members from the Annapolis Valley School Board recently, they said their location was not yet open. I was asking this particular board member how they were going to select the parents or the children who were going to be going. First-come, first-served was mentioned, as the minister mentioned in the press conference about this to say that they are leaving it up to individual boards to decide who will have access to these programs. As the member for Timberlea-Prospect alluded to, we may see visions again of parents very interested in this program lining up and needing to be first, or within the first 18 on that list. I'm assuming there are 18 students per class, as I understood it from the bill briefing.

So, we're probably looking again at the people with the best knowledge, the ones who are most connected. The ones who read the newspaper and are out and about in the community, most actively, who will know about this opportunity and who will take advantage of it. What happens to the many people who are struggling, who are on social assistance, who perhaps aren't able to follow up on all these little opportunities as they come along, they will be the last to hear of it. They'll hear of it after others are accessing it, and

[Page 9238]

they are the people who need it. There are so many families who really need this assistance because they cannot afford any of the options. The options are the daycare centres and the preschool programs that exist, even all the enrichment classes, in music, gymnastics - I'm thinking of the many things that we did - art, sports activities that they have for preschoolers, even swimming lessons. The parents who have the least are the ones who aren't in a position to afford any of those opportunities. They're not out at the local swimming pool or the local gym talking to other parents and learning about those opportunities, so they will not be on the first-come, first-served list.

What else? There are certainly other obstacles in the way. One of them is transportation. We've talked briefly about that already with the member who spoke previously. Transportation is a huge issue. I just question how the minister has been able to roll out this idea, put it in the budget, allocate money and now put a bill before the House without consulting with the school boards that have the tremendous responsibility to not only offer programs but to maintain the safety of the children.

[10:00 a.m.]

This program is going to be resident in the schools where there's space available. The school boards could decide where they had the most need or the best facility, I guess, available to accommodate it but they have no capacity under the current laws to transport the children. As I understand it, there are actually laws that prevent the children from being transported in our school buses. If that's the case, the minister should have been aware of that and should have been working with the Department of Transportation and Public Works or looking at whichever Acts - I'm not sure which Acts would have precluded that but definitely Acts that look at safety would have outlined what was required. There has been no move whatsoever on the part of the government to look at that issue. They've simply wiped their hands of it, washed their hands and said let somebody else deal with that - the school boards can deal with how the children get there.

Let's remember again, if I could, Mr. Speaker, just who the program is designed for, who can benefit the most from this kind of extra enrichment and extra educational opportunity. It's the children from disadvantaged areas. It's the children who come from homes where the parents are working probably two jobs and have very little time to read to their children or to do those extra-curricular activities that I referred to. Those children desperately need this leg-up to get started at school and to be able to perform to their highest ability. That's not going to be available because those parents are either not home to transport the children or there may not be two cars in the family, there may not be one car in the family. These are often families that are struggling so hard so transportation is a huge issue.

I'd love to go to one of those preschools and see if in fact it isn't everybody coming in their cars individually dropping off their children and just what is the circumstance of their home. I'm sure there are people who were otherwise in daycares and in preschools enjoying

[Page 9239]

the same opportunity but at their own cost rather than at the government's cost through this Pre-Primary Program. As I say, we have to remember it's a pilot project. Again, there has been no consultation and the school boards are reeling with this issue.

Imagine as well, the difference in the qualifications that might be required for the people teaching in this program. We've suggested here a model that, again because there was no consultation, it's a free-for-all. The immediate reaction from teachers I know was that if you put this program in a school, in one of our Nova Scotia public schools, you better have a qualified teacher - in other words, somebody with a BEd, somebody who's a member of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union to manage that classroom, to be in charge and to be teaching. They feel very strongly about that. The department has instructed that it is fine to have early childhood educators delivering this program and still within the four walls of a public school. That creates a tremendous debate and I'm not pretending today that I have the answer. I have talked as well to people who are in the early childhood education business and they definitely believe that they have the right skills and in fact the appropriate skills, training and background with young children and their development, that they should be the ones that are in the classroom. So it may be the right choice.

But the debate has not taken place. There has been no consultation. People have not been able to - other than if they're motivated they could write individual letters - but there's been no forum to let people speak and be heard on this issue. That's a very important thing because there are a lot of issues about how people learn and how we develop that are beyond my scope here as a parent and as somebody who has studied accounting and business to really discuss in their entirety here today. I know that the differences are dramatic and that they need to be worked out and the curriculum needs to be worked out. If this is going to be a more of a Primary-type curriculum, maybe it should be teachers with BEd's that are there. If it follows more of the preschool model then definitely ECE teachers or early childhood education teachers.

That debate is raging out there and the minister, I don't know if he's aware of it, I assume he is because he himself is a teacher, in fact, a former instructor of other teachers at our Teachers College. I know that this debate is very important to people in that sector and I've heard a great deal from many people about what does this mean and how are we going to manage the difficulty that arises where you've got a difference of opinion among two professional groups, both of whom have a lot to offer in this debate.

I think it's really important that time be taken, even if this is already rolling out and perhaps we'll hear from people in the Law Amendments Committee but I think it's really important to bring the experts to the table and let's hear from them in terms of what exactly are the elements that are important to look at designing a proper program. I can assure you that a proper educational program doesn't just get rolled out overnight and expecting the school boards to be up and running this Fall was probably pretty unreasonable. Now, in an area like HRM where we have denser neighbourhoods and people might be able to get to

[Page 9240]

those schools as they do to the 4-Plus Program - particularly in areas that have public housing that are higher density as they are in fact in Clayton Park West and areas like that with a lot of apartments - the kids can get to the schools but the school board should have really done studies, and I'm sure they did to some extent, about where to locate these programs and to provide the opportunity to those who are most in need. I think that's extremely important and I know that in HRM certainly I remember the member for Halifax Fairview asking would there be one in Fairview where a lot of the children from my riding do attend school.

Mr. Speaker, another part of that as I talked about the kind of program that should be offered is whether or not it be a full-day or a part-day program or just again what is most appropriate for children of that age. Nothing has been said really to add to the debate about what is best. I know even with our Primary program going back to when my children started, it wasn't a full day and those children are five years old, it was not a full-day program for the first number of months that school began - I think up until about Thanksgiving or the end of October it was just half-day program while children got acclimatized to the school and to what was required. There was the argument that they were young and it was too much for them in a single day and that they needed a little bit more time to just play and be on their own.

When you look at children that are a year younger, we're not talking about four-year olds, the question is whether or not it should be a full-day program or not. As we talk about those kinds of regulations and guidelines that would be in place for a program like this, we need to consider as well the staffing ratio, and we have some very strict guidelines in our daycare centres, as the Minister of Community Services will know, about what is the appropriate number of staff for the children at different ages and it does change from the infant care to a little bit older children. The ratios are different and now we're taking the same aged children, age 4, we're pulling them out of the daycares - if this were universal we'd be doing that everywhere or taking them out of their homes - and bringing them into a school and providing a different level of supervision ratio for teacher to child. Now we understood there would be an ECE instructor or specialist in the classroom plus one other person at that time, I believe that's what the minister had said, two in the classroom for 18 children, so one in nine is I guess what we're looking at for a full-day program.

What I was told was that for the ratio for this age group it should be eight to one for a full-day program. I think that we may not be in sync there, there's a difference and we need to be consistent and that's where the government, ministers and members who have an interest have got to coordinate and look at what the regulations are for that very same age group in a daycare and what are we expecting our daycare operators to provide and then what do we think is different when we bring them into a school situation. I think again it comes back to so many points, a lot of them are small points but very significant in terms of how the program will work, how effective it will be and whether or not the children will benefit as they should from the public expenditure of doing this.

[Page 9241]

I'm just frankly very shocked that more of this consultation did not take place before we began to roll out a program of this magnitude. We are talking here, just for the pilot alone, the amount announced the other day was $750,000. I think that was increased from the budget actually, I don't know if other members had checked the original budget, but it seemed to me that we had been talking about a lesser budget to begin with. At any rate, those classrooms need to be outfitted. It's more than just the cost of the instructors in the classroom. We need to make sure that there's appropriate sized furniture, tables, chairs, and they need have the equipment in every classroom. Again, you can't - just the same as we're hearing - put those same little children on the same school buses that are used for the other children. Clearly we need to design classrooms and have them outfitted for that age of children.

Again, on the consultation side, I would really stress that the government should have spoken very clearly to the HRM to see how exactly they do their 4-Plus Program. It has been operating for about 20 years, as I understand it, and has always been funded by the citizens of Halifax and Dartmouth through their supplementary funding dollars. For those who aren't as aware of supplementary funding as they should be, because it's unique in Halifax-Dartmouth, that program was in place for years because the citizens of these two cities, who are now part of the HRM - had recognized the need to offer more, to go beyond the basic and, shall we say, the standard core curriculum that's offered and said, there needs to be more emphasis in our schools for some of the special areas that we know, that evidence shows us, is money well spent. Early childhood education in the most disadvantaged areas is clearly one of those very great concerns that we have.

Through supplementary funding in both cities, there were just a few programs set up, again, targeted - money well spent because - to the areas where it's going to have the greatest impact. These are areas where families are in need and those children are otherwise being left out. So it has been a wonderful model, in fact, in that program used in the HRM through supplementary funding, the 4-Plus Program relies on teachers who are members of the Teachers Union and part of the entire educational spectrum, who fit into the schools where they're operating. A lot of times they have come from Primary and taught pre-Primary, as my sister-in-law has done, and they bring with them a wealth of experience.

The program has been operating long enough that the curriculum is clear, everything is laid out, and there's a real coordination between that grade and the progression into Primary and Grade 1. Also, these programs offer a huge opportunity to integrate our wider community, really, and some of the other social issues that we might want to address, by getting children in early and being able to reach their parents and caregivers, so that they're entering the school system as well.

[Page 9242]

Again, just to diverge, if you go back to the time when your children first began school, it's like entering another world again. Although we all went through school ourselves, suddenly you come back as a parent and you're dropping your children off, and it opens up doors to being connected in your community that weren't there before - definitely weren't there before for me - and becoming part of a school community. Being able to have a voice as a parent, following your own children's progression through the school allows you to find out what the issues are in your wider community, what are the concerns, and what are things you can do. It also is an educational opportunity for the schools to tell us what programs they're pushing, whether it's encouraging reading to your children, encouraging literacy, encouraging certain things that relate to health and public health.

All of that is a connection for those parents and a lot of them are very young parents that we're talking about here, who need this support. Those very young people, who are now leaving their own children at the doorstep of a school, become a resource themselves to the school, to our whole society, as we're able to reach them and help them to be better parents and learn the things they can do to support their children's education.

So the idea of bringing the children in a year early has been supported here in the HRM through supplementary funding in targeted areas, not because it wouldn't be useful everywhere, but because there are limited resources. The HRM recognized that, or the earlier Cities of Halifax and Dartmouth recognized that, and took the limited funds to the area where the need was greatest.

[10:15 a.m.]

That is something that I don't know if the government is looking at or not. In the announcement in the Spring, in our Spring budget, it was talked about individual school boards looking at where they felt the need was greatest or where they would like to target this pilot project to set up a couple of classrooms in each school board. I believe there was an encouragement by the Department of Education to target it to the area with the greatest need.

I guess the problem I have with that is knowing whether or not, at the end of this pilot, the Department of Education is considering a universal program, and if so, where the funds will come from. If it's predicated on a universal program, then maybe the whole thing will be lost because of the lack of funding to do just that. Whereas, Mr. Speaker, if we were looking at a targeted program to begin with we'd be able to really stretch the benefit of the dollars we're putting into this. I think that would have some huge benefits to the province, rather than trying to do a lesser job everywhere. Or maybe in the absence of the right amount of funding, simply doing nothing because we'd say we can't afford it.

That would be a great fear I would have as well, because as I said in the beginning, all of the evidence is that involving children in a structured program early is very beneficial and helps all of us in the long run. It helps those young people grow up and take their place

[Page 9243]

and serve a role that fully reaches their potential. That should be our aim, especially in a province like Nova Scotia with a declining population, which we hope will be reversed, but as long as our population is stagnant or declining, we can't afford to lose the potential of any individual.

I'm not suggesting that any province can, but I think that every single person and every young person in this province needs to be nurtured and needs to be encouraged so that they reach their potential and that they will be able to take their place and help us in the future so that we will have a strong province and a province ready to meet the challenges and the educational demands that are coming. As we know, I think the figure is 80 per cent of new jobs created require post-secondary education. At the present, we have 15 per cent or more of our high school children not graduating from Grade 12. They're not even completing Grade 12, so they do not have the skills necessary to move forward and to continue in our school system.

That means we have a huge cost to try to get them back into adult education or back into the school system later or to try to carry them as they go through their lives. There are many, many social costs that I know the minister is aware of, the social costs the justice system faces, correctional, policing, social services is an immense problem. I'm sure if we looked at the educational attainment of the people who are needing our societal support through social assistance that we'd realize that so many of those people just don't have the education necessary. I know the figures in our correctional institute, all of the institutions, are just staggering in terms of the number of people who are incarcerated in jails who don't have basic literary skills. It's such a high percentage.

When you recognize that and see the clear link to education and, again, make that extra link back to young children and the benefit they can reap by being given this extra leg up at an early age, that extra attention, I think it's extremely important. I think it's very important that we look at other programs as well that can help in this way.

On the issue of targeting, I would just ask the government to consider giving either more direction to the school boards about the target areas that should be addressed through this program, or articulating better what their vision is for the program. Is this going to be a universal program offered everywhere? If so, you certainly have the same problems of transportation to deal with. You still have to work out how it's going to be attained.

In terms of the curriculum and program, I'm unclear as to really what guidelines the school boards have had. They've been given some funds and they've been told what is the appropriate level of staffing and the qualifications of the staff, but what about the curriculum? What about the guidelines on what kind of a program this will be and what the outcomes are expected? It's unclear to us here in the Legislature, I can certainly say that, although I know the minister introduced a number of staff members who are working hard to, I think, guide this program. Presumably they have more information on what's available

[Page 9244]

to the school boards. But I think that it's been a scramble and there can be no question about that, they have had to scramble in order to get to any sense of getting one of these programs in place before the end of this school year, which is the 2005-06 school year. We know some of the sites will only be setup perhaps in January of this coming year. So it's definitely a big scramble as we try to get there.

Mr. Speaker, I'm interested in looking at what Prince Edward Island has done in their pre-Primary pilot test that they did several years ago. In fact, I think it was the year 2000, extra dollars came into all the provinces for early childhood education. The Department of Education, in conjunction with the daycare and the preschool operators, got together, looked at some options and opportunities and looked at how best they could take that money that was coming in - it was a five-year commitment, as I recall - and said, what can we do to have the biggest impact, using our money in the most effective way? How can we take that, stretch it across Prince Edward Island and reach as many of the young children who we can, the ones who were pre-school-aged children in P.E.I.? They tried a very different model to the one that we are looking at here today.

I think there's a lot of merit in considering what Prince Edward Island did. P.E.I., again, worked closely with their daycare centres. Remember the daycares are established because there's a huge need by working parents to have daycare and to have child care that's appropriate, so they do exist in our communities. Sometimes not enough of them, but definitely they are out there. They need to be consulted and, as I said before, there's been not enough consultation and, in fact, a lot of the daycare centres feel threats, whether they're private or whether they are public or non-profit daycare centres. They are feeling threatened by the current climate because they haven't been consulted. They are a viable sector in our communities and if, in fact, we don't talk to them, we run a tremendous risk of those centres closing.

Imagine the age groups. Many of the daycares have only a small number of infant spaces because they need intense care. They need a high ratio of caregivers, they need extra equipment and rooms and services for infants, which are up to about the age of 18 months, I think, are considered infant care, and so there aren't many in our daycares of that age.

As you get in, then you're really looking at the bulk of their clients, if we can call that, the bulk of the school population in a daycare are two, three, four-year-olds, so if we're going to pull the four-year-olds out and provide them with an alternate public system, then we've taken effectively, at least a quarter of their market away. Those children are now going elsewhere. They've been diverted to another system and the daycares will, in fact, not be able to stay open - many of them - because there are not large margins in daycare centres. They are not making a lot of money and I can speak from some experience of having visited daycares in my area and talked to daycare operators.

[Page 9245]

It is a struggle because it is one of the most regulated industries or businesses that we have. If you wanted to set up a daycare in a community, you have to meet many, many requirements. The requirements are laid out in tremendous detail. As I said earlier, the ratio of staffing is highly monitored and dictated and you have to make sure that that's in place. I think it's proper and appropriate and we should applaud governments, this one and previous governments, for ensuring that those regulations and controls are in place because we're talking here about the safety and future of our children. We need to make sure that they are in places that parents can feel confident as they leave them in the mornings and leave them for an entire day in someone's care.

What happens if those daycares close as a result of having fewer children to look after? If they do close, we're going to be left in some real strife in certain communities. I think it's appropriate to mention that I've already heard of one daycare that has had to close, it's in the Kingston area. In that area we have one of these pre-Primary sites being set up in Greenwood, which is just next door, they're adjacent, and with that in place, the daycare in Kingston could no longer make a go of it and they have decided to close their doors.

That's going to leave a community, a community of working parents, without the option of a daycare centre there. It will leave a huge gap in the delivery of services. We can't say enough about the need for the adequate number of daycare spaces and good, reliable daycares that families can turn to, because it is a tremendous hurdle - I can speak, as a woman trying to go back to work after having children - it is a huge hurdle trying to feel comfortable that your children are well cared for. Again, even though there is not a lot of profit in these centres, the cost for the parents to have children in care is very expensive. If you're looking at what most women can earn - in some families it's a man perhaps going back to work - it's very difficult sometimes to earn enough money to pay all of those associated costs and make it really worthwhile.

I was, in fact, very fortunate that I was able to stay home through those early years. I really must say that part of the decision was that it was the high cost and the difficulty in arranging care that I was comfortable with. I think that for some families there is no alternative, they have to find care in their communities. A lot of mothers and fathers go to work every day concerned about whether their children are in good hands and whether that is a good system.

So we need the controls that the government has, definitely, but what we're doing now is perhaps threatening the availability of daycare in a lot of communities because we didn't consult properly with that sector, recognizing that this would have a huge impact on anybody who runs a daycare or a preschool in our province because, again, within two years of this pilot program we'll be looking at the results and measurements will be taken and analyzed. This could, in fact, roll out as a more universal program.

[Page 9246]

I've had correspondence only very recently with a daycare from Bedford where they are very concerned about this and quite angry, in fact. They had originally been told that it would be targeted to the areas with the greatest need. They didn't feel that it was going to impact on their particular preschooling in the area of Bedford, in HRM, but now they see, as it's unfolding, it most likely will, and they're definitely feeling that their business is threatened, and the outcome for all those many other children who are attending there is going to be in some doubt.

As I say, it demoralizes the people who are running these centres, too, because they feel that they're up against a lot of very important regulations, but it makes it hard for a business, it makes it hard for somebody who's starting or operating a daycare. I know that there are many, many people in that sector very responsible, and they accept all of the rules that are there but recognize how much they are already meeting the needs of the community and following the regulations set by government, and then they aren't even given the courtesy of having a discussion with government when something so important, something that's going to impact their future, is unfolding. So here they are left to read about it in the paper, or contact their MLA and find out what's going on, and they feel threatened and feel abandoned, frankly, as this is unfolding.

I'll go back to the P.E.I. example, when they brought this in with federal dollars dedicated to early childhood education they chose to deliver the program through the daycare centres, they chose to go to their daycares throughout the province and pilot the project there. They didn't have to find extra classrooms in sometimes crowded schools. I know many of our schools have extra space, but I can certainly say that there are some in Clayton Park that do not, that it would be difficult to find a classroom for, and so they didn't have to get equipment, they didn't have to dedicate extra space to this preschool level, they were able to use the existing daycare's infrastructure.

[10:30 a.m.]

In P.E.I., as I say this program has been going on since 2000, they've gone through the initial testing and evaluation and they're clearly happy with the program as it stands now. I've had a chance to look at some of the information they have on-line, I haven't had a chance to talk directly to the people in charge of that area yet because this has come up rather quickly but I think that it would really behoove the government to look at that again.

I had suggested on the day that the minister made the announcement of this bill that if we're doing a pilot, if we're just testing the waters and seeing what works, why would we not look at the P.E.I. example and try and do one that has delivered through our daycare system and through those centres, as well, go ahead and try them through our public schools. That way you could actually measure which one had the better value, whether one or another was better in terms of the outcomes. There may be real advantages to bringing the children into a school and as I talked about the 4-Plus Program in HRM. The children then become

[Page 9247]

comfortable in the actual public schools and in the system and the parents are easier to capture in terms of helping them to be better parents and offer the kind of instruction that they can do at home. It will also support and enrich the child's learning.

If you offer it through the daycare centre you'll still have the opportunity of making it universal, you'll still be able to have all the children in a catchment area attend that program and those daycares could simply adjust their delivery to accommodate that. I think if you've not had the discussion with the daycare operators and with those that would be interested in offering these programs in the community then we're missing an important component. As I say, another plus is that perhaps these could be better located. The daycares might be in a better location than the public school is that the children are expected to reach because again, to transport these children is a huge issue. How can we offer a program that's intended to embellish and improve the start that children have in school without making sure they can get there, without making sure that those children who are at home and not getting that enrichment are not going to be precluded from being part of this program simply because their parents don't have the transportation, don't have the money to transport them, or can't reach there because they're both at work doing their jobs and trying to keep the family going.

Going back to the transportation issue, maybe daycare would be better located, maybe it would be a better option and maybe it would also support what they're doing with the younger children - really our communities cannot survive without daycare centres. We need care for young children because it isn't whether people want to, many families must have both parents working, it's simply a necessity. We want to do whatever we can to support and help families as they go about the issue of trying to raise a family with all of the financial pressures that we face in today's world and there are tremendous pressures on families. I can say that even from families with every advantage. There are a lot of pressures in raising children today, if you add financial pressures and the inability to provide some of the things you know your children would benefit from but you simply don't have the ability, I think that's a real travesty.

If we're looking at a Primary program like this pre-Primary pilot, I think that the government should have consulted more widely and should have looked at all opportunities to engage the children most in need of this service. We know that a lot of children arrive in the Primary year and they've had all of those benefits that I alluded to before. I mean, they start music and little programs for children now when they're babies. My brother who lives in Edmonton, which is a much better funded place as we know, has certainly had programs for his children from the time they were still preschoolers, from the time they couldn't even walk. They were in programs for improvement and music and language and physical development through gymnastics, so many things available in that jurisdiction, not all of them free but certainly lots more available than we have here. The families, again, who have done their homework and have the ability will already have sought those things out.

[Page 9248]

One of the things that I think this bill does provide for us is an opportunity to look at other things that might have to do with the Primary-age children, because the bill is before us as a pre-Primary pilot and I would like to suggest to the minister that we consider the need to look again at the starting age that we have for our Primary students today. Right now a child must turn five before October 1st, that's the very last day - I think if you turn five on October 1st you can get into the doors of the school, but if you turn five on October 2nd or anything thereafter, you're not allowed in and you must wait another full year to get to school.

The reason I raise this is that this has been an issue for years and years in Nova Scotia, it is not a new issue. Anybody who has been a teacher, a principal, a parent, or had anything to do with school, particularly at that elementary age, you know that when the school year begins there are always parents who are just missing by a little bit, people who are disgruntled because they know their children are really at the same development stage and they feel that they should be allowed to start. It feels like a real penalty to those parents whose children are born in October, November and December.

The reason I just take that calendar year is that that's what other provinces use. I believe eight out of 10 provinces use the calendar year as the cut-off time, so you have up to December 31st. For some reason, years ago - I don't know where it came from or how it came to be - Nova Scotia chose to go with the date of October 1st and that leaves us out of sync with the other provinces in Canada. As the Speaker knows, this year in the Spring session, 2005, I introduced a bill which would change that cutoff date for starting Primary to December 31st. I'm hoping the minister has some interest in that bill. We have discussed it over many years, and I'm sure it's not a new subject here in the Legislature either.

I go back to some years ago when my daughter began school at Grosvenor-Wentworth Park Elementary School, in the Bedford - these days - riding. When she started there she had a friend born October 4th and that friend - they had done everything together, gone to Sparks together and all kinds of other things - couldn't start school with her, she's a full year behind and that's many years ago because my daughter began university this year. That was a topic of discussion in our neighbourhood and on our street at that time and every year after.

The year my son started, two years later, one of our neighbours had the same situation and they went to Sacred Heart School for one year. Now here's a way that people circumvent the system - go to Sacred Heart School, or one of the other private schools, for a single year, then your child has the Primary year complete and they're able to return and go into the public school system with no penalty, and that was fine. It works great, except that it's not available to very many people because there's a huge cost associated with making that decision.

[Page 9249]

The fact that so many parents had chosen it shows how important it was to parents who fell into that three-month period where they were denied an ability to get started in the public school system. So, in fact, some of the private schools - and I'm not sure which ones - but I've heard some are no longer taking children who are only intending to come for that one year, because they're trying to build a base of enrolment which will carry on through the elementary or through the high school years. They had a great flood of applicants for the Primary year only and then those children would be diverted back out into the public school system, so just for their own planning and means, they've chosen not to continue, in certain schools, but it's still a way of circumventing the system.

Another reason it has been raised as well is because of people who are moving between provinces - this is another reason why it comes up every year. The member for Kings West had raised it in our caucus because he represents the Greenwood area which has a lot of military families and a big community; they move frequently between provinces and they're very well aware of those differences. If you always lived in Nova Scotia you may just simply accept that that is our cut-off date, but when you have other children who are able to start who were born later in the year and then you move here and find out that they can't - it was even an issue in our house, because when I moved here in 1990, my daughter would have been able to go to what they have as a junior kindergarten in Ontario, where we had most recently lived. We moved here and of course we don't have two years of preschool, like a Primary and a Pre-Primary Program in place here. She would have been eligible in Ontario, and wasn't eligible for school for a couple of more years here in Nova Scotia.

It comes up frequently with people who move. After I introduced the bill to change the cut-off date to December 31st, I had quite a number of calls from other people in the province, not so much just in my area, but across the province, asking if there was any hope of this passing. Those calls have actually continued. Just recently, in this session, I've had a number of more calls. It's interesting, parents are saying they've been at their schools - one was Westmount School in Halifax, just a very recent call I had was from somebody else was from Eastern Passage - and they said they heard at their school that this might be changing and was there any hope of that change. I think, either through their principals or through the other parents, there is discussion and there is some excitement that the government would even consider and look at altering that cut-off or start date for the Primary year.

I'm hoping that through the introduction of this bill and the readings that we're doing now of this bill, it may be an opportune time for that discussion to take place. I think the government could sponsor that amendment to make this part of the educational bill that we're putting through today, or talking about today, which is the introduction of a pre-Primary pilot and adjusting the start date for our schools.

I might add, Mr. Speaker, that as I've had this discussion with a number of people, they point out a lot of the deficiencies in the school system that are there today. We hear about them. Periodically an issue will arise and we become aware that in some schools they

[Page 9250]

can't do enough photocopying they need because they don't have the paper. Or, in others, there aren't enough textbooks and the teachers are actually photocopying textbooks in order to give the children the materials they need; that we don't have our schools well enough resourced already, and people are saying to me, in the light of this discussion, why aren't we improving that before we move on any kind of universal Pre-Primary Program?

I've told them that there's a good reason to look at a Pre-Primary Program that will bear some wonderful benefits to our province in a short time, it doesn't even take the many, many years. Those children will do better from day one when they get into the Primary class by having had that.

So, I support the idea of early childhood education and a pre-Primary year very strongly but I also think that we could look at adjusting the start of our Primary age and do that in conjunction with this pilot and as we're going forward. There is a demand, and people feel that is a piece of unfinished business, a business that we haven't attended to and we should be going back to as soon as possible.

As I say, this really is the time to start looking at it and deciding whether we want to finally tackle that question of why Nova Scotia is not in sync with the rest of the country and with our nearest neighbours even here in New Brunswick. Again, a lot of children move in as their parents are transferred and they are younger because they've moved from these other provinces. So it's not uncommon at all to see these younger children in our classrooms. The more we push to open our doors and encourage people from around the world and across Canada to come here to Nova Scotia to help us grow, that is definitely a goal and it has been well articulated by the government of the day.

Let's get more immigration, let's encourage people to come to HRM and to our province. As we try to accomplish that, I think we need to look at anything we can do that makes us more attractive, that takes obstacles out of the way of families that makes them feel that we are in sync with the rest of the country and that we are competitive with the rest of the country.

This is one of those small things that is a thorn in the side of people who choose to move here. They come here, they go to the school and they realize they are in trouble, their children can't start school as expected. They're shocked, because why would it be different here? Why, after moving and living in other provinces of the country, are they faced with that kind of impediment when they move to Nova Scotia?

[10:45 a.m.]

So, the government could take a step and address that right now while we're doing this debate. I really and strongly encourage them to do so. While the pre-Primary project is rolling out, I would strongly urge, again, that the government, in parallel, get busy and start

[Page 9251]

the consultation that's necessary with the daycare sector, both the private and the public daycare sector, or non-profit, I should say, daycare sector. Talk to the experts; talk to the professionals. As I said, at Mount Saint Vincent University, where they have an academic program specializing in early childhood education, talk to them about the needs of young children and what is the most appropriate method and location and delivery mechanism for our children to follow.

Again, I'd look very much at the target areas where this is going to be offered, and hopefully the pilot will include areas of need and perhaps areas of - I'm sure some of the school boards will pick areas that are just more convenient, and we can measure the impact between those children who came in with a lesser, perhaps, level of literacy vocabulary and so on and see which ones work the best, because my guess is as this unfolds we're going to have to target the program to areas of greatest need, because we know that the province has many priorities, and cost will be a factor, and so I hope that those are measured as well and that the consultation will begin to bring in the sectors that are uncertain and confused by this current Pre-Primary Program.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank you very much for the opportunity to speak on this bill.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that we adjourn the debate on Bill No. 268.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn the debate on Bill No. 268.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR THIRD READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 9252]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker would you please call Bill No. 222.

Bill No. 222 - Tobacco Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Minister of Justice, I move third reading of Bill No. 222.

MR. SPEAKER: Just before we go to third reading, the honourable member for Waverley-Fall River-Beaver Bank on an introduction.

MR. GARY HINES: Mr. Speaker, in the gallery opposite I would like to introduce an individual who is no stranger to this Legislature. She's the president of my association and she's here today with her young son, Spencer. Pam Osbourne, would you and your son, Spencer, please rise for a welcome to this Legislature. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Pictou West on an introduction.

MR. CHARLES PARKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce a couple of my family members, from Pictou West, in our west gallery. I want to introduce my brother, Dave Parker, and his son, Jeff. Dave is a teacher at Northumberland Regional High School in Alma, in Pictou County, and I should mention my capable campaign manager during past campaigns. So I would like for them to stand and the get the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome each guest to the gallery.

The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to draw the attention of the members to the east gallery, where today we have three of the workers for National Gypsum Local 721B. They are Donnie Dickson, Alan O'Leary and Sherry Wright, and I want to say that Donnie and I went to school together. Alan O'Leary was lucky enough to miss me as a teacher in school, and I guess Sherry was unscathed too. So I would like the members to give them a warm welcome, please. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

We'll now begin third reading on Bill No. 222.

[Page 9253]

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm only going to speak briefly on this bill; my colleague, the member for Halifax Needham spoke in detail at second reading.

This is a piece of legislation that will put the legal process in place for a lawsuit against tobacco companies for the cost incurred by the province for the health care costs for those who suffer from tobacco-related illness. Mr. Speaker, I want to say that this legislation, even when it's passed it's going to take a number of years for this process to proceed. Our caucus, I think, three or four years ago, had suggested that this should have been started, should have been initiated so we could have begun the process. Unfortunately the government waited until now to do it. Hopefully it's still not too late. This is going to take some time. The sooner we pass this legislation, the sooner we can begin the process of beginning to pursue this lawsuit. With those words, I will sit down.

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to have the opportunity to rise once again in this House to make some comments regarding Bill No. 222, the Tobacco Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act. As I had previously indicated on second reading, this legislation is clearly stemming from an action started by the Province of British Columbia. They enacted legislation that would have given their province the authority to be able to take legal action against tobacco companies for the costs to their health care system to treat people who had suffered tobacco-related illnesses.

Mr. Speaker, we've also heard of many of the states in the U.S. that have taken similar actions, whether they be the states themselves, whether they be class-action lawsuits taken on behalf of individuals. In one case I believe it was a single individual whose family took the tobacco companies to court and certainly received a significant settlement from the tobacco companies. I'm sure that's probably still in the appeal stages, but clearly it has indicated to us that the courts are interested and are willing to be able to assess blame to the tobacco companies for the damage that their product has caused to the health of people who had used their product. In this case we've seen successful action being taken in the United States. So needless to say, there was really no reason why Canada wouldn't start to take similar action. Whether you're a Canadian or whether you're an American, if you are suffering from a tobacco-related illness, it certainly has the same devastating effect.

Now, Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the Province of British Columbia, to give a bit of history here, needed to first bring forward legislation that would establish their right as a province to be able to go to court and sue the tobacco companies. What happened from that point forward was that the tobacco companies came and said we don't believe the provincial legislation is constitutional, we don't believe that the provinces have the ability to be able to take us to court for damages. Basically it came down to a constitutional argument - did the

[Page 9254]

provinces have the right to be able to undertake such an action on behalf of their residents? So off to court it went, in fact right up to the Supreme Court of Canada, our highest court.

Needless to say, I believe all Nova Scotians, I can certainly say myself and our caucus, were extremely pleased to see the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the B.C. legislation was constitutional. That it was valid and they did have the right as a province to be able to bring these tobacco companies to court, to be able to argue the devastating costs that tobacco-related illness has had to the provincial Treasury and, at the same time, argue the devastating effects that tobacco has had on people's health, on their families, on communities, on our provinces as a whole.

In the Spring we knew this legislation had gone before the Supreme Court and at that point we encouraged the government to bring forward legislation at the Spring sitting. The government at the time said we're waiting for the Supreme Court of Canada decision. It was our belief - why wait - how much does it cost us to put legislation together? We have very competent and qualified people who work at Legislative Counsel, who work in the different government departments. Let's put the legislation together now. Let's introduce it. Let's pass it and then we'll wait for the Supreme Court decision. If the Supreme Court had ruled it was unconstitutional and thrown it out, fine, our legislation would probably have suffered the same fate. We would have at least been one step ahead, but that's in the past, we're here today.

So now we've given ourselves the ability, as a province, to be able to take big tobacco companies to court and to be able to seek damages from them for the costs to our health care system, which is our primary case. It will also give us an opportunity to be able to highlight in a public way, and to these tobacco companies, the exact damage and the devastating impact it has had on people's lives, their families, and our communities. As I mentioned on second reading, Nova Scotians shouldn't think for one moment that this is an action that's going to start tomorrow or going to start next week or even next month or maybe even next year, it's going to take quite a bit of time before such a case can be brought forward, that such a case can be presented to the courts.

We need to have a clear indication from the ministers, the Minister of Justice, I'm sure his officials will probably lead the charge, the Minister of Finance who will be called upon to be able to provide concrete information as to how much treating tobacco-related illnesses has cost our province, and the Minister of Health, who I'm sure will be asked, through his department, to provide that information, so we can put our case together. It's not just a matter of being able to walk into court and saying, okay, we think it costs us maybe $300 million over the years, we want you to pay us that money back. Needless to say, the courts are going to want to see specific figures, and that's going to be a challenge. Mr. Speaker, let us not kid ourselves. I think if anyone were to ask the Minister of Finance today to give us a definite figure on what it costs to treat tobacco-related illnesses in this province,

[Page 9255]

that's an extremely difficult question to ask. More importantly, for him, it would be a difficult question to answer.

Even the Minister of Health, I'm sure, would be hard pressed to be able to give us an exact figure of what it is costing us, because it's not just treating cancer, it's the doctor's visits, it's the specialist visits, it's the hospital time, it is all of that cost, the drugs, all of the equipment that's required, that's all going to have to be factored in when presenting our case. Let me tell you, I would presume, and the Minister of Finance may wish to correct me, but I would presume that our request will not be in the millions, our request will more than likely be in the billions, because over the years I have no doubt that it's closer to that range, the cost that it has been to our province.

Mr. Speaker, our province's total budget is around $6.5 billion. Our health care, right now, is taking I believe $2.6 billion to $2.7 billion out of that. Just about half. A great portion of that (Interruptions) It is $2.5 billion, I've been corrected. So it is still almost half of our entire provincial revenues are going to one department. I would submit to you, Mr. Speaker, that a lot of that $2.5 billion is going towards people who have suffered tobacco-related illnesses. It's important to realize that we should by this time, with the education that has come around the issue, it is not only those who smoke who suffer tobacco-related illnesses, there are those subjected to second-hand smoke - families, wives, children, husbands, who don't smoke themselves, have all suffered these illnesses and all require medical treatment.

This is going to be a major case for us, it is going to take some time and there's a great deal of work that has to be done. At the same time, Mr. Speaker, this is a bill that obviously is an opportunity for the government and for us as Opposition to attack the tobacco companies and to portray them in a negative light because of the illnesses and the disease that is caused by their product. Let's also keep in mind, let us not forget that the Minister of Finance, at the same time while saying we want people to stop smoking, also has his hand out to collect the taxes every year that are coming in from Nova Scotians who continue to buy tobacco products.

Mr. Speaker, that is a significant figure. There's well over $100 million that is coming in every year for tobacco taxes. That raises the question of how much of that money is going into prevention programs. Well, if I'm not mistaken, the programs that are there for smoking cessation are in the range of $4 million. So we bring in $100 million and we spend $4 million to convince and encourage people not to smoke.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to say it's working, but I think most Nova Scotians and most members here in the House who drive by schools, who drive by areas where our young people gather, would still be alarmed at the amount of our youth in this province who continue to take up the habit of smoking. With all of the advertising that's been done, the education campaigns, the costs to our health care system, the pictures on the tobacco products themselves, which are quite disturbing, they continue to smoke. I'm not saying that

[Page 9256]

the government's efforts have not succeeded, but I think everyone would agree, and even the minister would agree that the efforts have not been enough. Until we're prepared to take some of the tax revenue that is coming in from the sale of tobacco products and send a clear signal that we are going to invest that in smoking cessation programs, until that, I have to say there is a bit of an air of hypocrisy on behalf of the government to be saying they want to go after tobacco companies for the damage they've caused to our health care system and to our province and its residents, when on the same side, the Minister of Finance is more than happy to collect the tax revenue.

[11:00 a.m.]

I know that he will argue that that tax revenue is going to the Minister of Health, for example, to help him deal with people who have suffered tobacco-related injuries. That's probably the case for a significant part of where that money goes. But, where do we start putting an end to the problem? Where do we start trying to at least control the problem to the point where it hopefully would become a more minimal issue. I don't know if we will ever get to see that, but at this point, we're a long way away.

People are still smoking. Although the government has continued to raise taxes in the hope that would discourage people from smoking, they're still buying the cigarettes. Today, you can still walk into your average grocery store or corner store and the first thing you're going to see walking in, behind the cash register, is going to be a great, large display of cigarette products. People who come in for a loaf of bread, or milk, when they go to check out, the first thing that is there to attract their attention, it's not apples, it's not oranges, it's not healthy products, it's tobacco.

We have asked the government to enact legislation that would ban these tobacco product displays. If someone wishes to purchase tobacco, let them ask for it and let the clerk go and get it from somewhere out of sight. That would do a few things, Mr. Speaker. First of all, we've seen a number of robberies because of the fact that tobacco products are so easily accessible and are right there on display. Maybe it would cut down on some of the crime - the government says it's concerned about crime, wants safer communities, a safer session is what this was supposed to be. There's an example of where they could do it.

Second of all, the professionals have told us that having these displays where they are located is one of the temptations that continues to exist for people to continue smoking. Until we start making the changes as a province that needs to be done, rather than for the minister - I certainly hope this is not the case that in future sessions when we get up and question the Minister of Health or the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Health Promotion, that they're not going to say, we're doing something, we're going to court. We're going after big tobacco, so don't worry about the displays, the kids who are still smoking, the statistics - we're going to court. We have a plan.

[Page 9257]

That cannot be the government's only plan. There's no doubt that is going to be an important step. Today's legislation is an important step, but we certainly have to move forward on this. What I am hoping for is that somehow the Minister of Justice through the government could keep the Opposition members, even the Justice Critics, for example, keep us abreast of what exactly is going on with the province's case. Give us frequent updates as to where we're at, what our chances are. Let us not wait until B.C. has gone to court and then to say once a decision is rendered, now we're going to go. We have to be there as quickly as we can once we have our case properly put together, which I know will take some time. The government has an unfortunate habit of wishing to wait and say, let's see what's going to happen to B.C. and then we'll go next.

This is going to take years. From the time B.C. starts its action until the time we actually get a final decision, which I would submit to you, more than likely if I had to guess, will end up in the Supreme Court before there's a final decision. I am sure big tobacco is going to fight this as long as they possibly can and as high as they can, which in the end, will be the Supreme Court of Canada. So, it is going to take some time and we shouldn't be waiting for the B.C. Government to have a final decision. Let's put our case together, let's get our facts and then be able to start moving from there.

One of the other aspects that I would certainly like the government to indicate is if we are successful - I don't think it's too premature to raise this - where's the money going to go? Let's say we get a $1 billion award, a $10 billion or $5 billion, where's the money going to be spent? Are we just going to let it go into general revenue? Are we going to let it go to cut $155 cheques on the eve of an election again? Is it going to go to cut personal taxes? Is it going to go for ministers' pet projects in their ridings? Where is it going to go? I'm sure, knowing the history of this government, they would never do such insidious things as that. Just to make us be all comfortable that that wouldn't happen, it would be nice if the Premier and the government could tell us, here is our blueprint. They seem to be fond of blueprints. I think I've heard them talking about blueprints on a few subjects before. I'm not saying that I've agreed with their blueprints, but they're fond of them. They've at least put it out. So why don't we have some form of a blueprint to indicate to us where exactly this money would be spent if the government is going to be successful.

At least we would have an idea and, at the same time, Mr. Speaker, we would be able to debate in this House the merits of that blueprint because while the government may come and say, we feel the money should be invested in this area if we are successful, maybe the NDP and our caucus would also have some suggestions as to where we think that money should be spent. What better place to discuss that than here in the House of Assembly, the place we've been duly elected by our constituents to debate legislation, to make proposals to government, and to try to make Nova Scotia a better place. I think, sincerely, that's why we are all here and that's what we are trying to do. Unfortunately, under our system, too often, the government gets to control just how many suggestions they want from us and how often they're going to sit here to actually listen to our suggestions. More importantly, they

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seem to have a bit too much control over how many of our suggestions they'll actually accept and, unfortunately, the vast majority they reject. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, you know, that's an interesting point, because one of the members does raise the issue of the reality we find ourselves in, that there is going to be a new Leader of the government. Under our Rules, whoever wins that leadership, technically, becomes the Premier of the province. One of the important things is for us, as Nova Scotians and as parliamentarians, to know exactly what this new Leader has in mind - when it is going to come to health care, when it is going to come to the case going against big tobacco, when it's going to come to where should the money be invested if we're successful. Hopefully, we will have the opportunity. Under our system, unfortunately, we too often have to rely upon the media to be able to get these answers for us because there really is no way for us to be able to question the potential candidates unless we show up at one of their forums to ask these questions, and then I'm sure the Progressive Conservative partisans would question why we are going to those events to try to ask such questions.

It's an important element because, unlike typical leaderships, Mr. Speaker, in this case whoever wins the leadership becomes Premier and, obviously, is going to have a direct say in the future of the province. Now, we don't know how long that will be, it may be a week, it may be a month, it may be a very short period of time but, just the same, that opportunity is going to be there. So who is going to be able to take that position and to decide, is very important. One of the candidates that has announced this morning, we know was the author of the $155 cheque and the failed personal income tax cut. He was the former member for Clare (Interruption) Sorry, that was another LeBlanc who also had a number of sins that I could talk about during his time here. I'm referring to the former member for Argyle who might soon be looking to become again the member for Argyle, but time will tell as to what's going to take place there.

Mr. Speaker, that's one of the examples, with this legislation, of why it's so important for Nova Scotians to keep a watch. Is it Neil LeBlanc's intention, if there's money that's allotted in a successful court action, to give another $155 cheque which just happens to arrive two or three weeks, or one week before an election campaign? Is it to give personal income tax cuts?

Keep in mind, Mr. Speaker, that the Premier today was the same one who said, when he cancelled the tax cut, I can't give the tax cut because health care needs the money and the minute I get more money from Ottawa for health care, I will give you the tax cut. Well, hold on now, why are we getting health care money from Ottawa if you're going to turn around

[Page 9259]

and give it as a tax cut? So I think it's clear to say that one of the Premier's major flip-flops during his time in office has been on the issue of tax cuts, personal tax cuts - one minute you have it, next minute you don't have it . . .

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I'm just wondering if you could rule on the relevance of the honourable member's dialogue as it relates to the bill in question.

MR. SPEAKER: Well, it may not be a point of order, certainly I want to remind the honourable member that this bill has already been debated in this House in second reading, the principles of the bill, and he knows full well the rules around third reading. I would ask the honourable member to bring his comments back to third reading of this bill for further comment, please.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I certainly respect your ruling and one has to keep in mind, the aspect of this bill, if the bill is going to be successful in allowing us to an action, the big issue is going to be going after big tobacco, to bring revenue to this province to make up for what they have cost us over the years, out of Nova Scotians' pockets, to pay for health care because of tobacco abuse. Now if the Minister of Community Services isn't interested in seeing money coming from big tobacco, to pay for what it has cost this province, for the devastation it has done to families, my own family and probably families of most of the members here, if that is not of interest to the Minister of Community Services, then shame on him.

I will stand in my place and I will show my support for this province going forward and taking on big tobacco, but let us not forget that if that money is going to come here and be given as a tax break, that is not going to go to help the families and to help the individuals who continue to suffer from tobacco-related illnesses. If he does not see the relevance in that, then that's quite unfortunate and I believe that might be a reflection of his abilities more than anything else.

Mr. Speaker, for example, I spoke earlier and said that the revenues that are coming from tobacco-related taxes here in this province, I said it was over $100 million . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member allow for an introduction, please?

The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to our Speaker's Gallery and introduce two of the HRM councillors who have come down here today to visit with us. They have come down to look at the debate and join in the debate and hear what's going on. I would like to introduce Councillor Len Goucher and

[Page 9260]

Councillor Linda Mosher, and I would like them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I think the Minister of Finance just indicated that they were in the proximity here for maybe another announcement prior to arriving here, but I think they may have found some of the debate last night to be a bit interesting for their own constituencies. Something tells me that the Minister of Finance has probably provided them with a copy of the comments from last night, and I'm sure he provided all the favourable comments that came from our caucus on that; certainly, none of the negative comments and maybe that bill come back up for debate and we will have an opportunity at that time for our caucus to make some presentations. We were certainly very excited to hear the Minister of Finance speak on a Private and Local Bill, something rarely seen.

Mr. Speaker, as I was saying, when I was talking about the amount of revenues that do come in from tobacco taxes, which is all going to be part of this court case and part of this legislation. I did say over $100 million and it's unfortunate the Minister of Finance didn't jump to his feet and correct me. To say, honourable member, you're way off because he knows that I was way off, but fortunately one of my good colleagues was very helpful in providing me with the actual real number which I'm more than happy to give the Minister of Education, who has taken a sudden interest in this debate. That total was not $100 million, it was not $120 million or $150 million; it was $177 million is what the Minister of Finance expects to bring in tobacco-related taxes next year, between now and next April. Again, I submit, that the investment going into tobacco cessation programs is in the range of $4 million. Now, I'm not good at being able to do percentages very quick on my feet, but $4 million out of $177 million, I think needless to say is a very small percentage.

Again, Mr. Speaker, I am not in my place to say that none of those programs had had success because they have. There are less Nova Scotians smoking today than there were years ago. That is true and I think there has been all-Party support for that. There's no question that all Parties have supported that. The government has worked toward that. The previous administration was supportive and I have no doubt the future administration will be supportive as well, but we're a long ways away from achieving the success that we want to achieve because there are still too many Nova Scotians who are smoking, too many who are ending up in our health care system, lives that are being cut short, lives that are being lost, and we have much more work to do.

[11:15 a.m.]

Again, I would urge the Minister of Finance, unlike his predecessor, to be able to say I am prepared to take that money and put a greater investment into tobacco cessation programs. Imagine if he could have stood and said, this Spring and in his budget, I'm going

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to double or triple or quadruple the budget for smoke cessation in this province because that is how important we see it as an issue; even though the revenues, well, find them somewhere else, because that's how much of a priority this is. That didn't happen, Mr. Speaker, again, I would hope that the Minister of Finance, and I'm sure his officials who are quite wise, are not sitting back and saying we can wait now because we know there's money coming.

The chances of success in this lawsuit are still questionable. Unlike the U.S., our courts have not been as generous to these types of cases, hopefully they are working their way towards a more middle ground into making sure that tobacco companies that are being held responsible in the U.S. will also be held responsible here in the provinces and in Canada.

We do have a ways to go. As I've said, it would be interesting if the Minister of Justice or the Minister of Finance or the Minister of Health could stand in their place and tell us exactly how much work they have done to prepare for this. Has the Minister of Finance been going through all of the sales of tobacco products to get an idea of how much revenue has gone to tobacco companies because of sales to the Province of Nova Scotia? Has the Minister of Health designated staff to start working? I can't even imagine how they would start sending this out, but hopefully they are talking to British Columbia and asking British Columbia how you were quantifying the damages that you are going to bring as part of your lawsuit. Has that work even started?

Right now, Mr. Speaker, we have no indication of that. We have a bill which is going to give the province an ability to take action, yet we have no indication of whether they are preparing for it. Is there work that has been done to get us there? What exactly is their plan on that exact question?

Mr. Speaker, as I've said, there's no question that we are supportive of this legislation, I think all Parties have indicated their support. We do want the province to have success, but we do have a long ways to go. We have a long way before we are ready for that. As I've suggested to you, this is probably not going to end at the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia or at the Court of Appeal, more than likely we are looking at a Supreme Court of Canada decision.

Again, one of the issues that could be raised because of that, is the Minister of Justice going to use our own council that we have working for the province or is it his intention to get outside legal representation that may have some expertise in these kinds of matters? Not questioning the expertise or the abilities of our own legal council here in the province. That is an issue where certainly it would be useful for us if he was able to clearly indicate to us what his intentions are.

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In that regard, and again as I mention how prepared is the Minister of Finance and the Minister of Health, where is the Minister of Justice? Who is working on the file? Are they reviewing court decisions in the U.S.? Are they reviewing actions that have been taken throughout the world? I'm sure that other countries as well, whether they be in Europe or Africa or Asia, wherever else, are more than likely also looking at this as an avenue to try to keep the tobacco companies accountable, more importantly, to try to recoup some of the millions and billions of dollars that have been spent throughout the world by administrations to try to deal with the devastating impact of tobacco.

M. le président, si je pourrais prendre cette occasion pour vous dire quelque mots au nom du projet de loi 222. Comme je l'ai dit au deuxième lecture c'est un projet de loi que nous supportons comme un parti libéral. Je sais que nos amis içi dans le parti de nouveau démocratique aussi ont indiqué leur support et ce n'est pas de question que le gouvernement lui même, qu'il l'a proposé, vont supporté au même temps.

Mais faut savoir qu'il faut pas s'éttendre que c'est demain que nous alons avoir un processus qui va commencer sur cette question. Plus important ce n'est pas demain que nous allons voir un décision final sur la question est-ce que la province va gagner, va avoir de la succès contre les companies de tabac pour la dommage que sa crée à la santé aux familles et à notre province içi à la Nouvelle-Écosse. C'est une question de la province que le gouvernement doit se preparé soit dans le Département de la Santé, soit dans le Département de Finance, soit dans le Département de Justice - a preparé notre plan que nous allons amené en cour.

Est-ce que nous savons aujourd'hui combien d'argent que les companies de tabac ont fait sur le dos de les gens dans la Nouvelle-Écosse qui ont acheté le tabac à travers les années? Est-ce que nous savons exactement combien que sa coute au Département de la Santé et au gouvernement chaque année et pendant les années précèdent pour vouloir traité les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse qui ont souffrit des maladies à cause du tabac?

M. le Président c'est une question qui va être très difficile parce-que quand nous irons au cour, ont ne peut pas aller au cour et dire qu'on demande trois million. On est sûr que c'est au moins trois millions. Il faut être capable de présenter et de dire voici les numéros, voici les chiffres qu'on vous présente pour l'année passé, les années précédents et c'est içi que nous vous présentons cela que sa coûté la province. C'est sans question que les companies de tabac vont questionné les numéros, il vont dire mais comment pouvais vous justifier ça? C'est où que vous avez prit c'est chiffres là? Explique à nous.

Alors, c'est pour ça qu' avec se projet de loi que c'est nécessaire que nous avons plus d'information. Malheureusement à se point içi le gouvernement va juste se donner le droit et nous donnerons aucune information sur où est rendu le Département de Justice, où est rendu le Ministre de Finance et où se trouve le Département de la Santé. Est-ce qu'il y a un

[Page 9263]

comité au niveau de gouvernement qui est deja mis en place pour examiner cette question pour se preparer? On ne sait pas.

L'autre question que j'ai soulevé en anglais c'était la question de alons dire qu'on va avoir de la succés, alons dire que à la fin de la journée qu'avec les companies de tabac, la cour va les dirent qu'ils faut leur payé la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse soit que c'est des millions ou des milliards pour le dommage qui était causé par les companies de tabac à notre province durant les années précédent. C'est quoi qu'on va faire avec l'argent? Je sais que sa va prendre des années que nous arrivons là mais est-ce que ce n'est pas au moins un bon temps pour nous commençons le débat de dire qu'est-ce qui sont les priorités de les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse? Qu'est-ce qui sont les priorités du gouvernement? Qu'est-ce qui sont les priorités du parti NDP? Qu'est-ce qui sont les priorités du parti libéral? NPD, je m'excuse, j'allais dire les socialistes mais j'ai dit NDP à la place. Je me corrige et la prochaine fois pour que je ne vous trompe pas, les socialistes est beaucoup plus façile que me tromper à utiliser les lettres. Alors, je remercie mon collègue de Halifax Fairview pour ça.

En revenant au sujet, c'est une question de qu'est-ce qu'on va faire si qu'on reçoit l'argent au nom des companies de tabac, c'est où est-ce qu'on va l'investir? Est-ce que ça va allé pour couper les impôts personnelles comme il était fait par le gouvernement içi avant la dernière élection? On se rapelle tous les chèques de $155 qui sont sorti juste avant l'élection. Est-ce que le gouvernement va encore proposé de couper les impôts personnelles par 10 pourcent encors très proche d'une élection ou est-ce que nous allons avoir une indication concrète de où est-ce que l'argent va ètre investi? Est-ce que ça va allé complètement au Département de la Santé? Est-ce que ça va allé en vers la dette? Est-ce que ça va allé pour des moyens de éduquer la population sur les problèmes du tabac? Est-ce que ça va allé au Ministre de la promotion de la Santé? On ne sait pas.

Le point içi est qu'on a aucune indication. Encore malheureusement on se trouve comme membre de l'opposition, comme députés responsables, de vouloir donné l'autorité au gouvernement de prendre action au nom de la niveau de la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse, au nom de tous les gens au Nouvelle-Écosse, et on a aucune idée qu'est-ce que c'est leur intention à la fin de la journée avec ce projet de droit si ils ont de succès encore.

Comme je l'ai dit M. le Président, c'est aussi une question au niveau de la Ministre de Justice, même si le ministre pourrait nous dire au membre de Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, qui est le critique pour le justice pour le parti NPD et moi même comme critique de justice pour le parti libéral, qu'il nous tiennons au courant soit tous les mois, tous les six mois, une fois par année que nous rencontrés et nous dire voici, c'est où qu'on se trouve sur cette question. C'est une question qui a si tant d'importance, une question qui touche si tant de gens de cette province, que c'est important que nous regardons pas juste le dossier du gouvernement, c'est un dossier de la Nouvelle-Écosse, c'est un dossier de l'Assemblé

[Page 9264]

Legislative mais pour faire ça un dossier qui est effective pour la législatif il faut faire certain qu'à la fin de la journée on est informé, qu'on connait où nous sommes.

Pour cour, d'aller à chaque session de poser la question ils demandont au Ministre de Justice ou demander au Premier Ministre, c'est quoi qui est l'intention? C'est où qu'on se trouve? Est-ce que vous êtes prèts? Est-ce que vous avez faites certain que nous avons un plan qui est bien présenter, qui couvre bien tous les questions de droit, qui à les chiffres qu'on peut justifié? C'est ça tous des questions qu'on doit avoir. Alors, c'est tous des questions qu'on remet.

L'autre point que j'ai soulevé en anglais que je voulais soulevé encore en français c'est le fait que pendant que le gouvernement est tout prèts à nous dire on va prendre un plan contre les companies de tabac pour vouloir récupérer l'argent qu'on a dépensé pour traiter des problèmes de la santé à cause du tabac. Au même temps il faut se rappeler que le Ministre de Finance, chaque année, est plus de content de dire je veux que les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse cessent de fumé. Mais au même temps et le main dehors qu'il est mieux que content de reçevoir l'argent de les impôts du tabac. J'avais dit au commencement dans l'anglais que je pensait que se montant la était dans les environs de cent millions par année. Malheureusement, ce n'était pas mon intention de vouloir mal dirigé la maison mais je n'était pas correct, ce n'était pas cent millions. Je me attends que peut-être le Ministre de Finance sera levé pour dire non, non, le membre de Richmond n'est pas correct, ce n'est pas cent million, vous êtes pas même proche.

M. le Président, malheureusement et je remercie mon collègue de Clare qui m'a assisté à la fin de la journée chaque année et on propose pour cette année içi, $177 millions qui vont être reçu par la province, par la Ministre de Finance à cause des impôts sur le tabac. Mais il faut demandé qu'est-ce que c'est que nous sommes entrain d'investir comme une province pour les programmes dans les régions de ne plus fumer? Si je ne me trompe pas je pense que mon collègue de Glace bay a indiqué que c'est dans les environs de $4 million par année. Alors, on reçoit $177 millions des impôts et on investi $4 million aux programmes pour encourager les gens de ne plus fumer.

M. le Président, içi que nous pouvons dire que ca c'est une indication que le gouvernement prend la question d'encourager les gens de ne plus fumer sérieux mais je vous promesse que leur actions jusqu'a date est juste le contraire. Il donne très peu d'argent pour les programmes d'encourager les gens de ne plus fumer mais ils reçoivent beaucoup plus pour les impôts qui va à toutes sortes de différents projets à travers le gouvernement. Chaque année, presque chaque année, des fois deux fois par année, le gouvernement a élevé les impôts sur le tabac. C'est sans question que cela a encouragé les gens peut-être de ne pas fumer si tant parce-que je vous dit que maintenant c'est chère, c'est environ quoi pour les cigarettes? 10 dollares? Ca varie, huit dollares, neuf dollares, dix dollares, des fois mêmes plus. C'est beaucoup. On a encore les gens dans la Nouvelle-Écosse qui fument deux et trois paquets de cigarettes par jour. Alons dire que c'est vingt dollares par jour, sept jour par

[Page 9265]

semaines c'est $140 -ça c'est juste une personne. Si l'homme et femme fument les deux, mais ça c'est beaucoup d'argent pour juste une maison. Imagine qu'est-ce que c'est durant l'année.

Mais ça continue et malheureusement si qu'on passe les écoles, si qu'on passe vers les lois ou centres communautaires où qu'on trouve les jeunes, même içi en ville, on voit les jeunes qui sont entrain de fumer. Il faut demander qu'aujourd'hui, 2005, avec la connaissance que nous avons au tabac, le dommage que ça fait à la santé, les gens de nos familles qu'on a perdue à cause du tabac, combien sa peut qu'on a encore des jeunes, 13 ans, 14 ans, 16 ans, 20 ans, qui continue à fumé. Pas juste ça, si je ne trompe pas, les sondages ont indiqués que même les jeunes filles fument plus que les gas. C'est terrible et ça continue, le gouvernement continue encore avec un bujet cette année qu'ils ont juste investi $4 million des programmes pour vouloir découragé les jeunes de fumer et les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse de fumer.

A quelle point le gouvernement va dire que c'est une crise? Il y a plus de fait, on connait bien que le bujet de la Département de Santé c'est proche de la moitié de toutes les revenues de la province - un département, le Ministre de Santé, la moitié. Ca reste tout le reste du gouvernement pour l'autre moitié. Le Premier Ministre quand il avait été premier élu, il a dit la problème de la santé ça ne faut pas plus d'argent, ça faut la meilleure direction, la meilleure administration, faut dépenser notre argent plus sage.

[11:30 a.m.]

Mais voila, M. le Président, on sait bien que depuis 1999 à 2005 sous se Premier Ministre içi, on a investi aujourd'hui $800+ million chaque année qu'on dépensant en 1999. Pour un Premier Ministre qui a dit que ça va prendre de meilleure administration, la meilleure direction, il a investi $800 million de plus cette année? Et c'est le même Premier Ministre qui a envoyé un diplomate au maison pour dire aux gens si ça continue sur la route qu'il se trouve maintenant en 2025, toutes les revenues de la province de la Nouvelle-Écosse vont allé au Département de la Santé. Comment ça peut à ce point la que le gouvernement accepte pas qu'on êtes en crise? La dernière session je souviens que c'est nous dans le parti libéral, le seul dans l'assemblée, qui a dit qu'il y a une crise au Département de la Santé. C'est rendu au point que l'argent n'a pas de fin, on ne peut pas imprimé l'argent vite assez pour le Département de la Santé et ça ne peut pas continué. On est les seules, NPD ne l'ont pas ditent.

A travers la session, le Premier Ministre l'a rejeter, il a dit non, non, non, le problème de santé on a reglé, il n'y a pas de crise, n'écoute pas au libéral, non, non, il n'y a pas de problème. Ne fais pas d'attention que j'ai investi $800 million plus depuis que j'étais élu, que maintenant que c'est proche de la moitié de toutes les revenues de la province qui va à un département, il n'y a pas de crise. Mais nous voila, la journée lorsque le budget du Premier Ministre a passé a l'assemblé avec le support de NPD- il faut aussi indiquer, le

[Page 9266]

Premier Ministre a fait une conférence de presse et il lui on demander qu'est-ce que c'est la question la plus important que tu va adressé maintenant? Qu'est-ce que c'était sa réponse? Il a dit c'est le crise qui se trouve à la santé de la Nouvelle-Écosse, on se trouve en crise, il n'y a pas assez d'argent, il n'y a pas assez de fait, il faut adressé ça. Mais heureusement pour nous c'etait finalement on va parler de la santé, on va réagir au fait que ça prend au dessus de la moitié de nos revenues de la province, un département.

La question que j'ai et je suis sûr que mon collègue de Clare et que mon collègue de Clare et que mon collègue de Preston se demande aussi qu'est-ce que le Premier Ministre a faite depuis se journée là? Moi je ne la pas attendu dire rien. Je n'ai pas attendu un discours où il a parlé du problème du santé, du problème que chaque année la santé prenne plus d'argent, plus d'argent, il n'y a pas de fin, je n'ai pas entendu le dire une fois. Pour vous dire de ma reconnaissance du temps que j'était içi à cette session, je ne l'ai pas entendu parler de ça encore plus. Alors comment ça peut que le Premier Ministre, à l'été, qui nous a dit qu'il accepté qu'il y avait une crise dans le Département de Santé, que juste à ce point içi, il n'y a aucune discussion? Alors, il faut se demandé qu'est-ce qui va arrivé au budget qui va être présenté au printemps? Est-ce que le Ministre de la Santé va encore faire une demande au Ministre de Finance pour plus d'argent?

Il faut avoir de l'argent a quelle part parce-qu'on connait bien que à cause du fait que le Premier Ministre attenter de peut-être d'avoir une élection cette automne. Le Ministre de Santé a fait des annonces, des investissements pour l'hôpital St. Martha's, Antigonish, des investissements pour des lits à Long Durée au Cap Breton, des investissements partout dans la province. Il n'y a pas de question que ses investissements sont nécessaire mais ça dépose la question encore si nous sommes rendues à $2.5 billion maintenant, à quelle point qu'on va être rendu au prochain budget? Est-ce que nous allons surpasser 50 pourcent de toutes les revenues? C'est ça une question, une question que le projet de loi 222 est une partie de adresser cette question parce-que vouloir prendre, avoir un plan d'aller au cour contre les companies de tabac.

Il faut aussi au même temps adresser le problème et la crise qui existe au Département de la Santé. Alors, c'est pour ça que je soulève tous ces points là. Le fait que le gouvernement nous donnerons aucune indication, ça ne cause de posé la question, est-ce qu'il prennent ceçi sérieux? Est-ce c'est encore une autre projet de loi qui est juste pour l'intention de vouloir donné l'impression aux gens de Nouvelle-Écosse qu'ils sont entrain de faire quelque choses, qu'ils sont entrain d'adressé les problèmes de la santé. Jusqu'a date, autre que le projet de loi, c'est la seule question qui doit faire avec la question d'argent, la question du Département de Santé. Il n'y a aucune autre, peut-être que le Ministre des Agriculture et de la Pêche peut nous dire qu'est-ce que c'est le plan du gouvernement pour adressé les problèmes au Département de la Santé. Peut-être que même la nouvelle député de Chester-St. Margaret's peut aussi nous informés si elle a su qu'est-ce que c'est le plan du gouvernement à cette question. Durant sa campagne, est-ce que c'est qu'elle a discussé sa

[Page 9267]

à tous les portes, est-ce qu'elle a dit, voici notre plan, c'est içi qu'on va adressé le problème qui existe à notre Département de la Santé?

Comme je voulait dire, c'est une première étape. J'espère que tous les autres provinces canadienne va nous suivre, mais pas nous suivre, on suit la Colombie Britannique, alors j'espère qu'ils vont continué à suivre la Colombie Britannique mais j'espère qu'a la fin de la journée c'est sans questions. C'est bien peut-être une occasion que tous les provinces à la place d'aller chacun pour prendre un plainte en cour, c'est peut-être une chose qu'on peut travaillé des provinces ensembles à cette question içi pour vouloir mettre plus de force derrière notre plan. Peut-être encourager les cours de prendre cette question plus sérieux et ça c'est une option.

Je vous demande, M. le Président, quand les Premiers Ministres rencontrent, tous les Premiers Ministres à travers le Canada, est-ce qu'ils ont ses discussion içi? Est-ce qu'ils sont entrain de parler de la plainte contre les companies de tabac? Est-ce qu'ils sont entrain de parler de qu'est-ce que les dépenses qui ont étés vécu à travers des années des différentes provinces au niveau de vouloir traité les gens qui ont souffrit des maladies de tabac? Est-ce qu'il parle même de les programmes qui sont mis en place dans chaque province pour encourager les jeunes, de encourager tous les gens de ne plus fumer? On ne sait pas si ses discussions prends place. S'il ne prenne pas place au niveau des Premiers Ministres de les provinces, est-ce qu'ils prennent place au niveau de les Ministres de Santé partout au pays? On ne le sait pas non plus.

Le Ministre de Santé, malheureusement, sù se débat que j'aurai croyait qu'il avait fait directement avec son département, aurait voulu prendre de l'intérêt, a vouloir dire lui même aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse çela que ça couté à son département durant les années pour traiter les problèmes, les maladies à cause du tabac. Malheureusement le Ministre de Santé nous dit rien jusqu'a date. Malheureusement j'espère que ce projet de loi va continuer et il va nous rien dire sur ça. Malheureusement, il n'a pas nous dit qu'est-ce que son département est entrain de faire pour se préparer, qui est responsable parce-que on sait bien que sous les départements on a des sous-ministres, des sous-minitres associé, on a des directeurs, on a tous ça. Est-ce que ses personnes là on était mis en place pour travailler sur cette plainte? Est-ce qu'ils ont étaient mis en place pour poursuivre les objectives qui sont établit dans le projet de loi 222? On ne le sait pas et malheureusement je peux vous dire que c'est un peu d'une critique mais c'est la réalité que le gouvernement a l'habitude de vouloir passer des projets de loi et là on attends des mois, des années defois avant que le gouvernement va réagir au projet de loi qui a était passé par les membres élus içi à l'assemblée.

Alors, c'est pour ça que je vous dit, sans avoir plus d'informations pour m'assurer que le gouvernement va réagir sur cette question et va le prendre sérieux. C'est là qu'on accomprit de vouloir dire oui on va supporter se projet de loi et on laisse le gouvernement à décidé quand il veut mettre sa en place.

[Page 9268]

C'est dommage parce-que on n'a pas d'options parce-que c'est un gouvernement majoritaire, il n'y a pas de questions, faut s'attendre que ses choses là qui vont arrivé. Mais, comme nous sommes gouvernement minoritaire, on s'attendait qu'il y aura une meilleure niveau de coopération qui prenait place içi, une meilleure niveau des changes d'informations, une meilleure niveau des changes d'idées. Je peux vous dire que quand le Premier Ministre sort de cette chambre il dit à le presse, aux gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse, le gouvernement minoritaire fonctionne bien à cause de mon leadership. Je vous souhaite même que ce n'est pas correct parce-que le gouvernement minoritaire içi aurait travailler beaucoup mieux pour les gens de la Nouvelle-Écosse soit que ça soit au niveau de la santé, soit au niveau des services communautaires, soit au niveau d'éducation, on peut faire mieux et malheureusement on se trouve avec un gouvernement qui n'a pas l'intérêt de faire mieux même sur un des grands projet de loi que nous fait question à ce point içi, on a un ministre qui continue à dire, même quand nous avons entendus les interventions de différents organizations, qu'on tient la course, qu'on tient la course.

Mais malheureusement à cause de les événements qui ont pris place, j'espère que sa va changer, c'est dommage que ça prends des événements comme ça pour faire changer la tête de ce ministre là en question. Mais, à la fin de la journée, je veux juste vous dire que aujourd'hui c'est une étape important que nous prennons, c'est une étape que malheureusement va prendre des années avant que nous allons voir les fruits de succès de cette étape mais au certain que le gouvernement va prendre cette question sérieux, le gouvernement va vouloir réagir à ce point içi sans hésitation. Je m'atteint que quand nous aurons arrivés içi à l'assemblée au printemps prochain, je va me mettre à ma place et je va questionné le gouvernement qui va pouvoir me dire sans question, où qu'ils sont rendus sur cette question de cette plan, où est-ce que le Ministre de Santé se trouve, le Ministre de Finance, le Ministre de la Justice et toutes les autres minitres qui sont impliqué içi.

A la fin de la journée, on a l'occasion içi, pas juste de récupérer l'argent qu'on a dépenser içi a la province de les companies de tabac. Nous avons aussi un occasion d'encore envoyé le message à nos jeunes, à nos gens à travers la province que ce n'est plus acceptable de continuer de fumé. Il faut mettre un fin au fumage içi dans notre province, si pas un fin, que ça soit un très petit population qui continue à fumé mais il faut faire certain qu'on continue la guerre contre le tabac parce-que à la fin de la journée ça va protegé les familles, ça va protegé nos gens, ça va protegé le Département de Santé, ça va protegé le gouvernement. À la fin de la journée, ça va faire une province plus forte, plus attirant, une province en meilleure santé, une province qu'on peut être fière de. Ensemble, si on continue de travailler à se niveau là on peut réaliser cette rève. Avec ça, M. le Président, je vous remercie pour votre temps et je suis très content de donné support à le projet de loi 222. Merci.

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

[Page 9269]

MR. DAVID WILSON (Sackville-Cobequid): Mr. Speaker, I want to stand for a brief moment as our health critic for the NDP caucus just to bring some concerns on our part in our caucus.

We do support this piece of legislation going forward, but we want to bring some awareness around the need for government to indicate the potential of us seeking revenue from this realistically is far off in the future. Probably many years before we would ever see a dollar brought to this province and that's if this case is successful in the courts.

This government has stood many times in this Legislature and promoted the fact they like to bring a balanced approach to government and to policies and to legislation that we see. We hear that, we've heard it quite often in this session - a balanced approach. Many of the questions brought by Opposition members from our Party and the Liberal Party, the answer is, we have a balanced approach as government.

I would like to just bring some examples and make people aware of the balanced approach that government has with some of their policies, some of the spending they do. The member who spoke before me mentioned about the $177 million this government takes in in revenue from tobacco products. That's a large sum of money - $177 million. What do they spend out in advertising to try to deter Nova Scotians from smoking - especially our young Nova Scotians - $4 million. Just $4 million of that $177 million. Is that a balanced approach? I don't think it is. That's 2.4 per cent of the income that they get from tobacco is spent on trying to deter people from smoking.

Another example would be the gaming revenue. Again, it's around $176 million that we take in from gaming. What do we spend on addiction services and promoting the fact that gaming is addictive and you have to do it properly and safely so you don't spend your family fortune? Approximately the same amount - $4 million. Is that a balanced approach to address very important concerns that many Nova Scotians have with gaming addiction, smoking addiction? In our view, and I hope in the view of Nova Scotians, it's not a balanced approach.

[11:45 a.m.]

As the Health Critic for our Party, I meet with many interest groups out there trying to promote what the effects of disease in our province has on the health care system and the spending that is required. Many of those groups, like the Atlantic Council for Diabetes, I met with them recently discussing the need to hopefully invest in preventive medicine in diabetes. It's related to so many other causes of heart attacks and strokes that cost the health care system in our province millions and millions of dollars, the same as tobacco.

[Page 9270]

As a paramedic, I've witnessed those individuals who are suffering diseases, like emphysema and other lung diseases, Mr. Speaker, that put a huge burden on our health care system - the amount of money we have to spend to treat these people. We spend $4 million out of $177 million to try to prevent people from smoking. That's not a balanced approach in my view. I know that some of the groups out there don't think it's a balanced approach. The Lung Association of Nova Scotia deals with a lot of the family members and those suffering from lung disease in trying to help them get the care they need.

A prime example, you know, and I've mentioned it in this House before about a constituent of mine who was in the need of a lung transplant, had to go to Toronto because we didn't provide that service here under our health care system in Nova Scotia. We're not able to provide lung transplants. So this patient, this constituent of mine, had to go to Toronto, but didn't have the funds. MSI, the Nova Scotia Government would not pay for her to be in Toronto prior to her surgery. They would cover the cost, yes, once she entered the hospital, once she received her operation, once she was in there recovering. Because she needed to be there, and it's the policy of the transplant team that she needs to be within, I think, a half-hour of the hospital, to wear a pager in case they do have a donor for her, you know, she had to incur this cost.

It's organizations like the Lung Association of Nova Scotia that promotes and advocates and tries to raise funds for these people, Mr. Speaker. So I would like to see the government make a strong commitment now, when this piece of legislation passes to jump on that train. I think, like many of the provinces are about to do to try to recover some of the costs of health care, that the government needs to make a strong statement that any revenue that comes back to our province because of this claim, or this potential court case, should go directly to those areas in health care that are being affected by tobacco. They should make that claim and go to the Lung Association of Nova Scotia and find out what areas we need to put more money in.

It's a simple request, Mr. Speaker, just tell us that this money is going to go directly towards helping those individuals who are suffering from years of tobacco smoke. That if we could take that burden off the health care system, free up more money to go into other areas of health care, so that there's not such a burden on that system. That's all we're saying. That's the message I want to say (Interruption) Because this is the government that prides itself on the statement of a balanced approach, but we see the figures of $170 million taken in in tobacco and only $4 million going out for prevention. That's not a balanced approach. Make this statement. Take a balanced approach to any revenue that comes in from this claim goes directly to affecting the health care costs to those who suffer from tobacco-related sicknesses.

Mr. Speaker, I think one of the things I've heard from a lot of the constituents in my area - especially through this last session where we have this piece of legislation and the smoke-free piece of legislation, I've heard a lot from smokers. I was amazed at some of the

[Page 9271]

comments. They said, yes, we're going to go and take the steps to becoming 100 per cent smoke free; we're going to go and take the steps to try to recoup some of the money from the tobacco industry to cover the cost of health care; why don't we just ban smoking; and they say this to me, what if you just ban it? I know a gentleman, who has been smoking for 30 years, told me, tell them to ban it, it will force me to quit, he says. But you'll never see that because government depends so heavily on the revenue. He said they depend on me buying my smokes to bring revenue to the province.

It's true. It's a statement that you can't question. We depend so heavily on the revenue from tobacco - $177 million. So if anything, I just want to encourage the government that they should stand up and they should state that any potential revenue from this would go towards addressing those health care costs of the individuals in our province who have smoked for a year, smoked for many years or might even be affected by second-hand smoke, go towards addressing their health care needs, and hopefully have conversations with the Nova Scotia Lung Association and other groups that have promoted less tobacco use in our province and take a true balanced approach, not this title of balanced approach, but a true balanced approach where we won't see $177 million of revenue from tobacco and only $4 million going out.

The potential here is maybe billions of dollars. I don't want to see 2 per cent of $1 billion being spent - I want to see it all being spent towards addressing the health care costs to those individuals who are suffering smoke-related diseases.

So with that, I do want to say we support this piece of legislation going through and I wait and hope for that statement from government that they will take a balanced approach on this and invest all that potential money into the health care system to address the needs of those individuals who suffer related diseases from smoking.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise and speak regarding Bill No. 222, the Tobacco Damages and Health-care Costs Recovery Act.

I've listened with great interest to the previous speakers here today, especially to the dissertation given by my honourable colleague, the member for Richmond, who made some excellent points. The fact that this legislation will allow us (Interruptions) Well, I thought the second part of his presentation was the best, actually. This legislation will allow us to take on the big tobacco companies.

I know there's the matter of discussion whether or not we're Johnny-come-latelies here, jumping on the train that was started by British Columbia and whether or not we should be there, whether or not we belong there, how much money we're going to get, and how much time it will take to recover that money from the big tobacco companies.

[Page 9272]

I think the first question, the overall question that should be asked is whether or not we should be there. The answer is of course we should be there. We should have been there a long time ago. We should have been there from the very beginning because it's nothing new to anyone in this Legislature that tobacco causes illness. Tobacco kills. Tobacco-related illnesses are a fact, unfortunately. They're preventable, they're totally preventable - ask any doctor and the doctor will tell you that you will not suffer from a tobacco-related illness if you don't smoke tobacco or if you don't work around second-hand smoke, or whatever the case may be.

We all know that, but when British Columbia started the whole process to be able to take action against the big tobacco companies and recover any costs that are related to tobacco-related illnesses, as was the case many times over the past several years this government delayed. Let's wait and, again, sometimes that delay, that inaction, causes problems in itself.

You need look no further than the third page of The ChronicleHerald today. On the third page of today's ChronicleHerald there's a headline that says Health spending alarm sounded. The story comes from officials who were warning that the entire provincial budget is going to be needed by the year 2025 if present spending rates continue. That's not too far away, that's not too far away.

AN HON. MEMBER: It's not 2020 now.

MR. DAVID WILSON (Glace Bay): Well, this is from this conference, and this conference says that by 2025 - but there have been some revisions that say it could be as close as the year 2020. If you think about how long this legislation would take, how long the court battle - we all know how long these big court battles can take, because we've seen many of them over the years, whether here in Canada or the United States. They can drag on, they can take several years. If those several years lead us to the year - I don't think they would ever lead us to the year 2020, I think that's stretching it - but if they lead us down the road, the case may be we could use the money.

We might be able to use the money at that particular time to pour into the health system to take care of what's happening within our health care system. Officials are warning, they're telling us even at this primary health care conference, they're telling us that because of the number of people who are not healthy in this province - for instance, who are smoking - we're going to be running into more and it will cost more to take care of those people in the future.

Because of that, I think that's why this legislation - that's the human factor in all of this, how many lives will we actually save over that amount of time? How much money could we make to possibly treat the illnesses?

[Page 9273]

I think the Government House Leader is motioning to me. Either he's really enjoying the speech or he's asking me to perhaps entertain a motion to adjourn at this time. Mr. Speaker, I would so move then.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate on Bill No. 222.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move we now rise to meet again on Monday at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., and the order of business will be Public Bills for Third Reading and if we have sufficient time following that, we'll do some Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading and Public Bills for Second Reading as well, and any bills that are in Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I move that we now rise and everybody meet again on Monday.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[The House rose at 11:57 a.m.]

[Page 9274]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4977

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours;

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Collingwood and District Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Collingwood and District Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.

RESOLUTION NO. 4978

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours; and

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Oxford Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Oxford Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.

[Page 9275]

RESOLUTION NO. 4979

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours; and

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Parrsboro Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Parrsboro Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.

RESOLUTION NO. 4980

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours; and

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Wentworth Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Wentworth Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.

[Page 9276]

RESOLUTION NO. 4981

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours; and

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Fox River-Port Greville-Wards Brook Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Fox River-Port Greville-Wards Brook Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.

RESOLUTION NO. 4982

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Use Candles with Care was the theme of Fire Prevention Week recently held between October 9th and October 15th; and

Whereas in Canada someone is fatally injured in a residential fire roughly every 32 hours; and

Whereas Fire Prevention Week is held because of the dedicated efforts of volunteer firefighters from the Joggins Fire Department, and promotes not only fire safety but also pays tribute to the men and women who keep our communities safe from fire all year long;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our sincere gratitude to the members of the Joggins Fire Department for their outstanding service year-round.