Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

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21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-101

















HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY



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://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/



Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.





Second Session



WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2002





TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Acadian Affairs: Employee (New) - Contract, Hon. N. LeBlanc 9798
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:
Law Amendments Committee, Hon. M. Baker 9798
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3739, VE Day - Soldiers (Can./Allied): Sacrifices - Recall,
Hon. R. Russell 9798
Vote - Affirmative 9799
Res. 3740, Criminal Code: Corp. Accountability - Amend,
Hon. M. Baker 9799
Vote - Affirmative 9800
Res. 3741, Ogilvie, Kelvin/Starnes, Colin/Coffin, Garth: Retirement -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 9800
Vote - Affirmative 9800
Res. 3742, Kaiser, Marshall - Nat. Res.: Commitment - Recognize,
Hon. E. Fage 9800
Vote - Affirmative 9801
Res. 3743, Health - SummerActive: Participants - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 9801
Vote - Affirmative 9802
Res. 3744, Auburn Dr. HS - Writers' Circle: Accomplishments -
Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 9802
Vote - Affirmative 9803
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3745, WWII: Veterans - Remember, Mr. D. Dexter 9803
Vote - Affirmative 9804
Res. 3746, Blue Book: Value - Inform, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9804
Res. 3747, DARE Prog. - Caldwell Rd. Elem. Sch.: Grade 6 Grads -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 9805
Vote - Affirmative 9805
Res. 3748, Blue Book - Premier/Fin. Min.: Promises - Check,
Mr. D. Wilson 9805
Res. 3749, Workforce (N.S.): Tribute - Pay, Mr. W. Langille 9806
Vote - Affirmative 9807
Res. 3750, United Steelworkers (Can.): Efforts - Applaud/Support,
Mr. F. Corbett 9807
Vote - Affirmative 9810
Res. 3751, Post-Secondary Students - Issues: Gov't. (N.S.) -
Ignorance Admit, Mr. M. Samson 9808
Res. 3752, Rood, Kara - Princess Berwick: Anna. Valley Apple
Blossom Fest. - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 9808
Vote - Affirmative 9809
Res. 3753, Fin. - Tax. Cut: Breach: Gov't. (N.S.) - Condemn,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9810
Res. 3754, Meek, Pauline/Sherman, Murial/Bennett, Myrtis -
Canning FD Ladies Aux.: Service Pin (40 yr.) - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 9810
Vote - Affirmative 9811
Res. 3755, Langille, Pam/Cabrita, Judith/Fischer, Alex/Isenor, Calvin -
Clear-Cutting: Cessation - Support Thank, Mr. J. MacDonell 9811
Res. 3756, Fin. - Tax Cut: Promise - Modification, Mr. D. Downe 9812
Res. 3757, HRM - Harbour Ferry Services: Anniv. (250th) - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 9813
Vote - Affirmative 9814
Res. 3758, Nurses: Dedication - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 9814
Vote - Affirmative 9815
Res. 3759, Techsploration: Career Day - Commend,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 9815
Vote - Affirmative 9815
Res. 3760, Pictou Co. Kub Kar Rally: Anniv. (24th) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 9816
Vote - Affirmative 9816
Res. 3761, CMHA (Col.-E. Hants Br.): Dedication/Commitment -
Recognize/Thank, Hon. J. Muir 9816
Vote - Affirmative 9817
Res. 3762, Gillis, Eric: World Univ. Games/St. F.X. Athlete
of the Yr. - Congrats., (by Mr. J. DeWolfe), Hon. A. MacIsaac 9817
Vote - Affirmative 9818
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1014, Fin. - Family Caregiver: Tax Cuts - Plan, Mr. D. Dexter 9818
No. 1015, Fin. - Tax Cut: Applicability - Details, Mr. D. Downe 9820
No. 1016, Educ. - CSAP Sch. Bd.: Teacher Recruitment - Regs.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 9821
No. 1017, Fin. - Tory Blue Book: Promises - Breach Explain,
Mr. W. Gaudet 9822
No. 1018, Health - Long-Term Care: Charges - Legality Details,^
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9824
No. 1019, Fin. - Tax Cut: Promise - Changes Admit, Mr. D. Downe 9825
No. 1020, Health - Long-Term Care: Inheritances - Claims Policy,
Mr. D. Dexter 9826
No. 1021, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - Assess.: Property Owners - Heed,
Mr. B. Boudreau 9827
No. 1022, Environ. & Lbr. - Min. Wage Increase: Inflation - Consider,
Mr. F. Corbett 9828
No. 1023, Commun. Serv. - Cent. Nova Women's Res. Ctr.:
Funding Request - Details, Mr. D. Wilson 9830
No. 1024, Nat. Res. - Private Woodlots: Sustainability - Stance,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9831
No. 1025, Justice - Elizabeth Fry Soc. (C.B.): Funding - Secure,
Mr. M. Samson 9832
No. 1026, Commun. Serv. - Seniors' Housing: Non-Senior Placements -
Explain, Mr. J. Pye 9833
No. 1027, Commun. Serv. - Transition Houses/Treatment Ctrs.:
Operations - Ensure, Mr. D. Wilson 9835
No. 1028, Agric. & Fish. - East Coast Commodities: Assets - Protect,
Mr. J. MacDonell 9836
No. 1029, Health - Emergency Rms.: Paramedics -
Physician Replacement, Dr. J. Smith 9837
No. 1030, Commun. Serv. - Youth: Needs - Neglect Explain, Mr. J. Pye 9838
No. 1031, Environ. & Lbr. - Res. Recovery Fund Bd.: Revenue -
Removal Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 9839
No. 1032, Health: MRI Clinic (Private) - Details,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9840
No. 1033, Educ. - UCCB: Progs. - Value/Support, Mr. P. MacEwan 9841
No. 1034, Commun. Serv. - Hfx. Co. Reg. Rehab. Ctr.: Decision -
Publicize, Mr. J. Pye 9842
No. 1035, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Sydney City Hosp.: Sale -
Details, Mr. Manning MacDonald 9843
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 52, Workers Health and Safety Act 9847
Mr. D. Dexter 9847
Mr. K. Morash 9849
Mr. P. MacEwan 9852
Mr. B. Barnet 9853
No. 66, Forests Act 9854
Mr. K. Deveaux 9854
Mr. B. Taylor 9857
Mr. D. Downe 9860
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 3679, Seniors: Concerns/Needs - Address, Mr. D. Dexter 9864
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 9864
Mr. M. Parent 9867
Hon. D. Morse 9871
Mr. B. Boudreau 9871
Mr. J. Pye 9874
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Environ. & Lbr.: Remediation Proj. (Old Guys. Rd.) -
Completion:
Mr. B. Taylor 9878
Mr. R. MacKinnon 9881
Mr. D. Hendsbee 9884
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., May 9th at 12:00 noon 9887
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3763, Coady, Anita - Walt Disney Marathon: Completion -
Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 9888
Res. 3764, Robinson, Matthew - Springhill RCA Cadet Corps (1859):
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9888
Res. 3765, House, Kyle - Springhill RCA Cadet Corps (1859):
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9889
Res. 3766, Nelson, Rebecca - Springhill RCA Cadet Corps (1859):
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9889
Res. 3767, House, Kaela - Springhill RCA Cadet Corps (1859):
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9890
Res. 3768, Gilbert, Sarah - Springhill RCA Cadet Corps (1859):
Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9890
Res. 3769, Ferguson, Sergeant Allan - Springhill RCA Cadet
Corps (1859): Award - Congrats., The Speaker 9891

[Page 9797]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, MAY 8, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Jerry Pye, Mr. David Wilson

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

Therefore be it resolved that the present slate pit remediation project on Old Guysborough Road in the Halifax Regional Municipality be completed prior to any new endeavours being initiated.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

9797

[Page 9798]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to my estimates, I was asked by the member for Lunenburg West to table a contract of the new employee for the Acadian Affairs position. As agreed upon, I will table that document.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

[PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

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

Bill No. 112 - Gas Distribution Act.

and the committee recommends this bill to the favourable consideration of the House with certain amendments.

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

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 3739

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

Whereas the culmination of World War II in Europe was fast approaching, Allied forces fought on, risking life and limb to bring liberation to Europe; and

Whereas throughout April 1945, Soviet soldiers fought fiercely and with horrendous casualties to take control of Berlin and by early May, in the face of certain defeat, Hitler ended his reign of terror by taking his own life; and

Whereas when 10 days later, the German armies surrendered unconditionally and victory in Europe was proclaimed, May 8th was named the day of celebration around the free world and crowds streamed into the streets in elation;

[Page 9799]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House today recall the costs of war and the tremendous sacrifices made by Canadian and Allied soldiers who battled throughout World War II for victory in Europe and liberty for all of us.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3740

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

Whereas tomorrow marks the 10th Anniversary of the Westray tragedy when 26 miners lost their lives; and

Whereas recommendation No. 73 of the Westray Inquiry called on the federal government to amend the Criminal Code to "ensure that corporate executives and directors are held properly accountable for workplace safety"; and

Whereas in 10 years no such amendments to the Criminal Code of Canada have been made by the federal government and as the matter is now before the federal Committee on Justice and Human Rights;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House urge the federal government to take immediate action to amend the Criminal Code to ensure that corporate accountability is a reality, in keeping with spirit and intent of recommendation No. 73.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9800]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3741

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

Whereas Kelvin Ogilvie and Colin Starnes, Presidents of Acadia University and University of King's College, and Garth Coffin, Principal of the Nova Scotia Agricultural College, are stepping down as the leaders of their respective schools; and

Whereas both Dr. Ogilvie and Dr. Starnes have served as university presidents since 1993, and Dr. Coffin as principal since 1997; and

Whereas these institutions have enjoyed many successes during their tenures;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dr. Ogilvie, Dr. Starnes and Dr. Coffin on their excellent work and wish them well in future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture.

RESOLUTION NO. 3742

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

[Page 9801]

Whereas we have recently learned of the passing of Mr. Marshall Kaiser, formerly of Baddeck, who was a well-known and respected angler, waterfowl hunter, and natural world enthusiast; and

Whereas Mr. Kaiser's involvement included the Cape Breton Sportfishing Advisory Council and the Highland Bras d'Or Sportfishing Association, which offered programs such as the Cape Breton Highlands Sport Fish Management study, the annual Baddeck Sport Fish Banquet, and the Fish Friends program; and

Whereas his leadership, dedication and energy will continue to provide an example for those who work for the betterment of our wildlife resources, and in particular our sport fishery;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House recognize Mr. Kaiser's years of commitment to our natural resources by endorsing the creation of the Marshall Kaiser Award to be presented on occasions where government wishes to honour an individual for outstanding contribution to the improvement of outdoor heritage in Cape Breton.

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. 3743

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

Whereas May 8th is the kickoff for SummerActive, a campaign to promote healthy lifestyles through physical activity, healthy eating and smoke-free living; and

[Page 9802]

Whereas there is a group of employees from my department who, since January 1st, have embodied the true spirit of SummerActive by meeting on a weekly basis in the office to help each other commit to an all-around healthy lifestyle through exercising and eating well; and

Whereas these women are an inspiration to all of us to lead by example and adopt a healthy lifestyle;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House congratulate these women on their commitment to improve their health and follow their example to live a healthier lifestyle.

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 on an introduction.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce those particular people, sitting in the east gallery, who are exercising, eating properly, and sort of sharing the reinforcement - I said it was a sort of an AA for healthy living. I would like to introduce Karen Campbell, Christine Cormack, Kelly Dean-Hayes, Elizabeth Tupper, Nancy Maguire, and Sharon Gould, all of the Department of Health, and thank them for showing this leadership. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I welcome our special guests to the gallery today and congratulate them on their special efforts.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 3744

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

[Page 9803]

Whereas students of Auburn Drive High School have honoured Norwegian war veterans with poems; and

Whereas members of Auburn Drive High School's writers' circle will read their poems at a ceremony for the arrival of Norway's royal couple this Friday; and

Whereas a collection of the students' work will be published in Norway;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the writers' circle for their accomplishments and the honour of meeting the royal couple.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3745

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

Whereas today, May 8th, is the 57th Anniversary of the end of World War II in Europe, VE Day; and

Whereas during World War II, 40,000 Canadians lost their lives and many thousands of others returned damaged both in mind and body; and

[Page 9804]

Whereas with the passage of time, the veterans of World War II grow fewer and fewer in number;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature commit to always remember those men and women who worked, fought and died for our country during World War II and whose suffering ensured the freedoms that we now enjoy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3746

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

Whereas in their infamous blue book, the Tories promised to consult with Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Tories, in their blue book, also promised to introduce a 10 per cent cut in income taxes; and

Whereas another blue book promise states that the government will be more open and straightforward with the people of Nova Scotia, which the Minister of Finance obviously forgot yesterday when he made some modifications to a commitment without first informing Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House and in fact all Nova Scotians be informed that the Tories blue book is not worth the paper it's written on.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

[Page 9805]

RESOLUTION NO. 3747

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

Whereas DARE, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program, is designed to educate and protect our children from the dangers of drugs; and

Whereas the DARE program has been very successful throughout Nova Scotia schools with the support of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and sponsorship by ExxonMobil; and

Whereas at an awards ceremony today, the Grade 6 students at Caldwell Road Elementary School will be presented DARE awards for their successful participation in the program;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate all the Grade 6 graduates of the DARE program at Caldwell Road Elementary School, Cst. Joe Taplin of the RCMP, ExxonMobil and the teacher participants, Evelyn MacMullen, Janice Murray, Keith MacKay and Principal David Naugler, for a job well done.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3748

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

Whereas it is obvious that the crafting of Tory promises was a mere cut-and-paste exercise; and

[Page 9806]

Whereas it is obvious that the Premier and his government had no real intention of fulfilling their 243 promises; and

Whereas this is another example of the Tory Government over-promising and under-delivering;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier and the Minister of Finance immediately check their own copies of the Tory Government's cut-and-paste exercise of a blue book to see exactly what they promised.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3749

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

Whereas a report released last week by Export Development Canada shows Nova Scotia's export sales to increase marginally the remainder of this year but increase significantly next year with a projected growth rate of 11 per cent; and

Whereas natural gas sales are forecast to grow by 14 per cent in 2003, while forestry exports are projected to increase 11 per cent next year; and

Whereas agri-food exports here in Nova Scotia are expected to grow 10 per cent this year and a further 9 per cent next year, bringing with them an anticipated strong increase in the price of seafood over the next 18 to 24 months;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly pay tribute to Nova Scotia's bustling workforce of nearly 0.5 million people and wish them every success as they keep our economy growing at a steady pace.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 9807]

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. 3750

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

Whereas the House of Commons Standing Committee on Justice and Human Rights is hearing proposals from the United Steelworkers on changes to the Criminal Code of Canada that would make corporate directors and officers liable for Criminal Code negligence in the workplace; and

Whereas shoddy and non-existent safety practices condoned by owners and management led to the Westray disaster of 10 years ago and show clearly the need for corporate liability to be included in criminal law; and

Whereas such proposals should be supported by every government interested in seriously promoting proper occupational health and safety practices in our workplace;

Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud and support the efforts of the United Steelworkers to have corporate accountability included in the Criminal Code of Canada.

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 Richmond.

[Page 9808]

RESOLUTION NO. 3751

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

Whereas the current rates on interest charged on Nova Scotia student loans are prime plus 2.5 per cent and prime plus 5 per cent for a variable student loan and fixed student loan, respectively; and

Whereas six months after graduation a student has the choice of repaying their student loan at a rate of prime plus 5 per cent; and

Whereas the Minister of Finance stood before this House twice yesterday in ignorance of the interest rates that students are facing on top of their already crippling debt loads because of lack of investment in post-secondary institutions in this province;

Therefore be it resolved that this government admit their continued ignorance of the real issues facing Nova Scotia's post-secondary students - that is unmanageable debt loads, too high interest rates, and sky-rocketing tuition rates.

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3752

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

Whereas Miss Kara Rood was chosen Princess Berwick last Friday evening at St. Anthony's Catholic Church Hall in Berwick; and

Whereas Heather Connell and Jackie Allen tied for First Lady-in-Waiting in a ceremony described by numerous attendees as perhaps the best they had ever attended; and

[Page 9809]

Whereas the music presentation for the evening was provided by Erin Bustin and Nicole Earl, with organization and sponsorship of the Princess Berwick event done by Berwick Recreation Director Craig Burgess, Carol Boylan, St. Anthony's Church Ladies Auxiliary and Brooklyn Farms;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly extend its sincere congratulations to Princess Berwick 2002 Kara Rood, daughter of Richard and Heather Rood, and wish her and all the participants every success in the upcoming 70th Annapolis Valley Apple Blossom Festival coronation ceremonies at Acadia University Hall on May 31st.

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 Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I negated a resolution by the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre. Perhaps if he could read the "Therefore be it resolved" again, we may be able to pass it.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I would be glad to for the gracious Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

"Therefore be it resolved that this House applaud and support the efforts of the United Steelworkers to have corporate accountability included in the Criminal Code of Canada."

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 9810]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3753

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

Whereas yesterday during Oral Question Period, the Minister of Finance admitted that his government is breaking yet another promise; and

Whereas during the election of 1999, the Tories promised a 10 per cent tax cut for all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas, once again, this Tory Government has been successful at misleading Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government be condemned for once again fooling Nova Scotians into thinking that they would honour such a promise.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3754

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

Whereas volunteer fire departments are vital parts of our rural communities and they count on the help and financial support of their auxiliaries; and

Whereas in Canning at the recent fire department banquet, Captain Tim Ciappara awarded service pins to members of the ladies auxiliary, acknowledging their tremendous contributions; and

Whereas among the presentations were those given to three auxiliary members - Pauline Meek, Murial Sherman and Myrtis Bennett - for 40 years of dedicated service each;

[Page 9811]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Pauline Meek, Murial Sherman and Myrtis Bennett on receiving their 40-year pins and thank each one for the continual support they have given to their volunteer fire department and the community's fire service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3755

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

Whereas many groups and individuals have long recognized that uncontrolled clear cutting of our forests will much sooner than later result in trees going the way of the cod; and

Whereas these people have contributed greatly to educating the public to the perils of unrestrained harvesting of our woodlands; and

Whereas I'm proud to announce that some of these fine people attended at this House today and deserve the praise of this honourable House of Assembly;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thanks Pam Langille of Eastern Shore Forest Watch, Judith Cabrita of TIANS, Alex Fischer of the Ecology Centre, and sawmill operator Calvin Isenor of Elmsdale for their support of and efforts towards stopping uncontrolled clear cutting in our forests.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9812]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East on an introduction.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery, I would like to introduce some young people who came here today who were present at the press conference earlier. Three are from the Chester Environment Group, Mandy Emms, Adam Rafuse and Mike MacLeod and also from the Shambala School here, Matthew Jukes and I would ask them all to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I welcome the guests to the gallery.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction as well, please.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: The word is spreading to Cole Harbour, thank you. I'm very pleased this afternoon to introduce to all members of the House some guests in the east gallery. The guests are from Ontario and, of course, from Nova Scotia and there are 22 students, 11 from schools including Truro Junior High, Bible Hill Junior High, Red Cliff Middle School and the schools in Ontario are St. Eugenes Middle School and St. Vincent de Paul and High Spirit. The 22 students are accompanied by chaperones and teachers today, Denise Mattina, Bev Gervais from Ontario and we have with us from Nova Scotia chaperones Ken Henderson - now I am getting my notes, Mr. Speaker, it will make it much easier. Well, the NDP is looking for a speech, we could try to accommodate, but (Interruption) It's my glasses I need. The leaders from Nova Scotia are Diane Simms, Ken Henderson and from Ontario as I indicated earlier, there's Bev Gervais and Denise Mattina with the 22 students who are on a culture exchange and the Ontario students, believe you me, are really enjoying Halifax and all the students are enjoying Halifax. I would ask them if they would rise and please receive a warm welcome from the House, including members opposite. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: On behalf of all members, I would like to welcome our guests to Nova Scotia and the Legislature today as well.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3756

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

[Page 9813]

Whereas on June 25, 1999, the then Leader John Hamm promised his government would cut the income tax rate by 10 per cent to all Nova Scotians; and

Whereas yesterday, the Premier's own Finance Minister stated that his government has in fact modified this commitment to Nova Scotians; and

Whereas since elected, this government has modified many promises to the very Nova Scotians who voted them into office;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Finance admit to the members of this House that he has pulled the wool over the eyes of all Nova Scotians and succeeded in undermining his own Leader, the Premier.

The notice is tabled.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member opposite is well aware that a year ago I stated the clarification that it would not be across the board. Obviously, his own Party doesn't talk to him.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order, it's a disagreement of facts between two members.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3757

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

Whereas the harbour ferry service, traditionally known as the Dartmouth ferry, is a distinctive and much-loved feature of the historic Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas this ferry service is considered the oldest, continuous, salt-water passenger ferry service in North America and has served the communities of both Halifax and Dartmouth since 1752; and

Whereas until 1955, when the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge opened, the ferry service was the only quick means of getting between Dartmouth and Halifax and today with three ferries operating, it is an important part of the overall fully-integrated regional municipality's transportation system;

[Page 9814]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join the Halifax Regional Municipality in celebrating the 250th Anniversary of the harbour ferry services, a treasure for residents, tourists and commuters alike.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 3758

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

Whereas each year at this time we recognize the efforts and work of our nurses through National Nursing Week; and

Whereas the nursing profession plays a valuable role in our health system and in the lives of all Nova Scotians who find themselves in need of assistance through our health system; and

Whereas nursing not only requires specialized training, it also involves long hours, dedication, commitment, sacrifice and, of course, compassion;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in taking the opportunity, during National Nursing Week, to thank the 12,000 women and men who are dedicated to the nursing profession in our province and thank them for their patient, kind and caring gift of service to others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 9815]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 3759

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

Whereas Techsploration has recently held its annual conference at the Strait Area campus of the Nova Scotia Community College, where over 50 local junior high school girls were invited to explore careers in science and technology; and

Whereas eight schools participated, sending a team of at least six girls to job-shadow a woman in a specific science-related field, and to prepare a presentation at the end of the day on the skills they had learned; and

Whereas Techsploration has grown from its humble beginnings of having only one sponsor to, four years later, having 20, which is a sign that the technology industry believes what the event is doing is beneficial;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Techsploration and its sponsors for the work they've put into this project and thank them for opening up doors to greater choices for our province's young women.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 9816]

RESOLUTION NO. 3760

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

Whereas the 24th Annual Pictou County Kub Kar Rally recently took place at the Trenton Minor Sports Complex; and

Whereas a total of 56 cubs participated after having spent a number of weeks preparing their racers, with 4th Thorburn Pack Cub Zachary Cameron winning best design; and

Whereas by the time everything was finished for the day, East River Valley Cub Zachary Sharpe took home the first place trophy with second- and third-place finishes going to East River Valley Cubs Nicole Ross and Devan Fraser respectively;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs acknowledge the tremendous work put forward by the young cub packs of Pictou County, their leaders and parents who provided the necessary support to make the 24th Annual Pictou Kub Kar Rally another huge success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3761

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

Whereas the Colchester-East Hants branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association recently moved into new office space in the Town of Truro; and

Whereas the Colchester-East Hants branch has grown considerably over the years due to their ongoing networking with other community organizations; and

[Page 9817]

Whereas the Canadian Mental Health Association provides a broad range of community-based services to mental health consumers and is one of the oldest volunteer organizations in Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and thank the volunteers and staff of the Colchester-East Hants branch of the Canadian Mental Health Association for their dedication and commitment to the development and promotion of mental health services for all people in their community, and wish them well as they continue to develop and enhance their programs and services.

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. 3762

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of my colleague the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Affairs, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the World University Games Championships were recently held in Spain and Antigonish native, St. F.X. senior Eric Gillis carried off an impressive finish in the cross-country competition; and

Whereas out of 80 competitors representing over 20 countries, Mr. Gillis ranked impressively in the top half, finishing 35th, and clocking a time of 37 minutes for the 11.6km track; and

Whereas while Mr. Gillis was in Spain for the World University competition, the senior was crowned male athlete of the year;

[Page 9818]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Eric Gillis on his performance at the World University Games in Spain and also on his selection as St. F.X. male athlete of the year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Oral Question Period will begin at 2:36 p.m. and end at 4:06 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN. - FAMILY CAREGIVER: TAX CUTS - PLAN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, not surprisingly, my question is for the Minister of Finance. Yesterday he and his government admitted that they have broken their promise of a generous tax break for family caregivers in 2000-01, they admitted they won't keep their promise of a 10 per cent reduction in all Nova Scotians' income taxes. I must say this was refreshingly honest for the minister but then the minister went on to say that the poor will benefit most from his income tax cut, whatever and wherever and whenever it comes. So my question for the Minister of Finance is, what is your plan to deliver an income tax cut that is of the greatest benefit to Nova Scotians in the lowest income bracket?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the question from the member opposite, obviously he wasn't at this conference because that wasn't what I said. We said that when we took office the commitments that we had were to do many different things and I will point out a few of them. The first one was to deal with the situation at Sysco, we said that we would either sell it or we would close it. We had a commitment and we met it. The second thing we did, we said that we would balance the budget and, with the budget that I tabled a few weeks ago, we accomplished that commitment. The third commitment was once the budget was balanced and we are in a position to do so that we would give tax relief,

[Page 9819]

which would stimulate the economy. The member opposite didn't listen yesterday because that's what I said.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, speaking of not listening, perhaps the Minister of Finance didn't hear the question. The Finance Minister must know that according to the most recent statistics provided by his own department, 232,000 Nova Scotians don't pay any provincial income tax. That is more than one-third of all the people who file income tax returns. They are at the lowest income levels. Now if these people are being told that the new Tory tax cut promise is mainly for their benefit, they deserve to know whether or not the minister is telling the truth or whether or not he is just blowing smoke. What exactly is the government's commitment to make low income earners the main beneficiaries of the income tax cut that you're proposing?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, he didn't listen to the answer so I will repeat it for him again. I mentioned before that our commitment - and I should point out that we had a plan, something that that Party and the opposite Party to the right didn't have - we told Nova Scotians what we would do. (Interruptions) We told them the difficult decisions that would have to be made regarding Sysco would be made. We told them we would balance the budget, we did. The other thing that we said is that we would give tax relief in year four to stimulate the economy. The economy is something that the NDP doesn't understand. Tax relief stimulates growth, gives jobs to Nova Scotians and that is what this Party is all about.

MR. DEXTER: Well, Mr. Speaker, have you ever heard a bigger load of nonsense. We asked a very simple question of the minister and he can't give a straight answer. You claim that the poorest Nova Scotians, those in the lowest-income tax bracket, will benefit most from whatever your eventual tax plan is to be. You said it's going to cost the government somewhere between $130 million and $140 million. I want to know this, why won't the Finance Minister tell the 232,000 lowest-income Nova Scotians whether or not they are going to get one-third or more of that income tax cut?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find this interesting, because what we have here today is the NDP saying that we should give tax relief. I know what our plan is; that's obvious. The question is, I'm sure that I don't know what their plan is. I'm sure that Nova Scotians don't know what their plan is. The member opposite doesn't point out that many seniors in this province filed income tax returns to get their GST rebates, and the fact of the matter is that they also get old age exemptions. The fact of the matter is that he is trying to distort the facts. I stand by my record. We have a plan; they don't.

[Page 9820]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - TAX CUT: APPLICABILITY - DETAILS

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The Premier committed a 10 per cent tax cut to all Nova Scotians. I wish to table, for the House and to the minister, a slide presentation document from your own department, Mr. Minister, that was put on your Web site. Surprisingly, it refers to a tax cut as, number one, being tentative. A quote from the staff presentation states that the only direction they were given was the price tag of $140 million. It gets better. It goes on to say that whether it is 10 per cent for everyone, 10 per cent across brackets, some will get less, or some will get more, we don't know. My question to the minister is, Mr. Minister, when did you, as minister, back away from an across-the-board 10 per cent cut and come up with the $140 million make-it-fit option?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, we are committed to income tax relief. The fact that we're having this debate today is because this government balanced the budget. It's amazing that the Liberal Party is interested in tax relief. The fact of the matter is that you can't have a discussion about this before you balance the budget. So thank you very much to the Opposition for acknowledging that.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, the document I tabled is from a presentation that was made in October 2001. Again to the Minister of Finance, this document shows that the staff of the department was told to ignore the promise of a 10 per cent tax cut that would go to all Nova Scotians. There was no media release, no ministerial statement, and no press conference about the change. My question to the Minister of Finance is, when were you, Minister of Finance, planning to let Nova Scotians know about the fundamental shift that your government made in this particular policy, a 10 per cent tax cut across the board to all Nova Scotians?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, our position hasn't changed. The fact of the matter is, as you move forward with giving tax relief, one of the things we have said as a government is that whatever changes we make, whether in spending programs or in regard to tax relief, we have to be in a situation where it will not drive the finances of this province into a deficit position. That is the fundamental principle that we, as the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, stand upon. That is what we told Nova Scotians. For the member opposite to say anything other than that would be irresponsible.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary. The minister talked about a plan. His plan was to fool Nova Scotians. Mr. Minister, you directed staff to make a $140 million fit, whether it met the Premier's promise or it didn't. My question to the minister is, will the minister explain to all Nova Scotians what his government's intention is with regard to a 10 per cent tax cut to all Nova Scotians? Explain, Mr. Minister.

[Page 9821]

[2:45 p.m.]

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I stand by the commitment that we made to give tax relief. I find this amazing. Yesterday, I was asked a question by the Liberal Party demanding tax cuts while their Leader was up in the gallery saying that he doesn't want to give tax cuts. I know what I'm doing. They don't know what they're doing. The question is, where does the Liberal Party stand?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. As indicated in the past on many occasions, whether something is on the record or not, when I hear it I deem it to be part of the debate of this House. The honourable member for Cape Breton South just made a statement that I feel is very unparliamentary. I would ask him to rise and withdraw that, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I certainly withdraw the statement, Mr. Speaker, but I must say again that the honourable member was misleading this House and I will bring it up on a point of order following Question Period.

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

EDUC. - CSAP SCH. BD.: TEACHER RECRUITMENT - REGS.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. The Department of Education, in its own recent report on teacher shortages, noted that we have an immediate shortage of French language and French immersion teachers. The province has gone around the country trying to recruit new teachers to come here. Last year, the CSAP School Board recruited 10 teachers from Quebec with the promise their salaries would be the same here as they were in Quebec. However, when the teachers arrived, they learned that they were going to take a huge pay cut, up to $20,000, due to new regulations adopted by this Minister of Education. So my question to the minister is, these teachers were recruited with false promises, the minister has been aware of this problem for some time, what is she going to do about it?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, the new regulations, the member is quite right, have caused problems for a number of teachers coming from other provinces. What we've done is made some changes in our own department and we're trying to resolve these issues on a case-by-case basis. (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Members of the public are welcome in the gallery, but they're asked not to respond to what is happening on the floor, please.

[Page 9822]

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I will give a couple of examples to the Minister of Education. Originally, 12 teachers were recruited with these false promises. I'm told as many as four have already left the province because of financial difficulties. Serge Gagnon was recruited and hired in June 2001, but nobody told him that his salary would be reduced by $17,000 until he arrived here in September of last year to begin working. As he told our office today, he trusted the people who hired him. So I want to ask the Minister of Education, how will she repair the damage to this province's reputation caused by people being made false promises about how much they would make when they arrived in Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I can't speak to promises made to people. I wasn't there. I can say I have acknowledged there are difficulties with our new regulations. We have bridging certificates and our department is trying to work with people on a case-by-case basis who have difficulties with the new regulations. The regulations are very strict and we are taking another look at them.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, here's another example. I understand the need for ensuring the teachers in this province are recognized for their two-year degree. That's not the point of this. But these 12 people have not been dealt with fairly. One, a vice-principal with 20 years experience, has had to declare bankruptcy because he had to take a $20,000 cut in his salary and he had 20 years experience. So my question to the Minister of Education is, why won't she recognize the unique circumstances of these teachers, that they were treated unfairly, and ensure the issue is corrected immediately?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, as I say, I'm well aware of some difficulties with these regulations and our department is doing exactly what the member opposite suggests, we are looking at these on a case-by-case basis to try to resolve the difficulties.

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

FIN. - TORY BLUE BOOK: PROMISES - BREACH EXPLAIN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. I wish to begin by tabling a section from the Tory blue book which outlines when a promise would be fulfilled and how much it will cost. In the blue book it shows that a promise of tax relief for family caregivers and students with high debt loads would be fulfilled by year two of the Tory mandate. It also clearly shows that a 10 per cent tax rate cut for year four. My question for the Minister of Finance is, why have the promises for family caregivers and students with high debt loads been broken?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, during our last election, our Party put forward a very comprehensive platform. I should point out something that the other two Parties didn't do, we ran on a platform. I should point out that we made many commitments. We fulfilled many of them. There are some that we haven't fulfilled as yet, but we will. The fact of the

[Page 9823]

matter is, with regard to the tax cut, I say to the member opposite, just wait until next year when we table the budget. The answers will be there for him to see.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, again the minister failed to answer my question. Both of these commitments are for year two, not for year four. Both of them are exclusive of a 10 per cent tax rate cut. One commitment supposedly costs the government nothing while the other supposedly costs $1.4 million. So my question to the minister is, why won't the minister simply admit that both of these promises were not properly thought out, and apologize to Nova Scotians for misleading them.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I want to point out that I make no apologies for having a platform. I make no apologies for telling Nova Scotians when we would do things. The fact of the matter on those two issues that he referred to, we have not met the timeline. It doesn't mean that we forgot them. As I outlined in my Budget Speech this year in regard to giving some relief to debtloads of students, that we will have a plan put forward for next year and for that, I think students and other caregivers should be assured that we have listened to them, not only in the last election, but since.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, those two commitments were made by this Tory Government when they were in the last election campaign. Those commitments would be fulfilled in year two. Anyway, I wish to table a press release from July 18, 1999, where the current Premier says, "Any Nova Scotian can read my platform to find out what will we do, when we will do it and how much it will cost." My question to the minister is simply, when did the minister decide he would modify a promise that was clearly made back in 1999?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the commitment that we made to Nova Scotians . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the commitment that we made in 1999 that we would give tax relief, we are still moving forward on that commitment. I will table for the member opposite, in the Supply estimates last year I did indicate - I will table this for the House's information - that it would not be across the board. The fact of the matter is that since 1999 there have been some changes to the Income Tax Act. All provinces, not only Nova Scotia, have moved to a tax on net income rather than tax on tax and that brings another complexity to it. The fact of the matter is, we have a plan, we told Nova Scotians we would have tax reductions - something that the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia does not believe in.

[Page 9824]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: CHARGES - LEGALITY DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, last night the Northwood Family Council sponsored an excellent forum on the future of long-term care, attended by hundreds of concerned citizens. A respected lawyer on the panel said the money grab our province has been using in long-term care since April 1, 1998, under the former Liberal Government, has no legal basis. Imagine, a money grab which this year will see $90 million ripped out of families with no legislative authority. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why is he taking $90 million from the pockets of Nova Scotians when he knows he has no authority to do so?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of long-term care is a difficult one. When we came into office, as I've said on a number of occasions, we had a lot of work to do to try to understand the situation. The answer to her question is - and although I wasn't at the Northwood meeting, I expect that the person said up in Ontario, people don't have to pay for part of their stay in a long-term care facility. I've said on the floor of this House before, I wish we were in that financial position here in Nova Scotia, but we aren't.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we weren't talking about Ontario last night - we were talking about Nova Scotia and I would like the Minister of Health to take a look at the Social Assistance Act. We all know we're one of a minority of provinces in Canada that forces people to pay for the health care component of continuing care. In fact, this government is forcing families to sign agreements permitting the Department of Health to seize property and assets to pay for their care - sign or you don't get in. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why are you forcing Nova Scotians to sign away their hard-earned assets to pay for something other Canadians get as a matter of right?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, that's a typical NDP attitude. No individual responsibility, turn everything back on the government.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: In that case, Mr. Speaker, that room at Northwood Manor was full of New Democrats last night. What's at stake here is not only the hard-earned dollars from seniors, their assets and personal property, but often the very health and well-being of the community-dwelling spouse is at stake. I want to say to the Minister of Health, this is wrong, you know it's wrong. Why don't you just admit that what you're doing is wrong and commit to make some change?

MR. MUIR: It costs, on average, about $4,000 a month to keep a person in long-term care in Nova Scotia. This government contributes about 80 per cent of the costs of long-term care in this province. This government makes a significant difference - I guess I'm one of those people, to be quite frank, I'm not so sure that families accumulate wealth to pass on to somebody else and turn themselves over to the state.

[Page 9825]

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

FIN. - TAX CUT: PROMISE - CHANGES ADMIT

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. In the last 24 hours, it has become very clear to all Nova Scotians what this Finance Minister has promised with regard to tax cuts. It also is clear that the minister was not forthright yesterday when he said that he never promised an across-the-board tax cut, and he has not been forthright to Nova Scotians here today. The Tory tax cut promise has been modified and it has been modified under the direction of the Minister of Finance in October 2001. The minister has been caught and it is now time for him to come clean to Nova Scotians. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister finally inform the people of Nova Scotian when he planned to tell Nova Scotians that he decided - and he alone - to change the promise of his government of providing Nova Scotians with a 10 per cent tax cut, across the board, instead of stonewalling Nova Scotians here today?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I informed the House last Spring, during the Supply estimates, that it would not be across the board. I also stated at that time that we would give a tax cut if the circumstances permit. When I say that, it points out that whatever initiatives we as a government do, whether or not it is on the spending side or whether it is on giving tax relief, we will not drive the Government of Nova Scotia's financial situation back into a deficit. We inherited a deficit position from the Liberal Government; we have no intention of going back to that.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, during the last election this minister and his Party said it would be easy - $46 million and we would be able to stabilize health care; balance the budget in three years; and a 10 per cent tax cut, across the board, for all Nova Scotians. Well, we've spent hundreds of millions of dollars in health care and the system is a mess. You keep piling money on to the debt, and won't even commit to a 10 per cent tax cut across the board that you had promised. I want to table a document from an earlier election. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister explain to Nova Scotians that his Party misled Nova Scotians into believing they would get a full 10 per cent tax cut?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I'm listening to the discussion and the question from across the floor. The member opposite says there was something on a Web site that said it wasn't going to be across the board, and today he's standing up and saying that he's confused. I know what our Party stands for; I don't know what the NDP stands for and I don't know what the Liberal Party stands for. Yesterday I heard the member for Cape Breton South saying that the Liberal Party would support opening Sysco again, but with private money. Does anybody in Nova Scotia believe that you can open up Sysco without public

[Page 9826]

money? The member for Cape Breton South believes that obviously, and the Liberal Party of Nova Scotia believes it also. We don't.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I hate to confuse the minister with the facts, but the fact is that this minister's Party promised Nova Scotians a 10 per cent tax cut across the board. Now it appears that all forms and manners of options are on the table, as I indicated earlier in the document I presented. All we do know is that it cost $140 million, and the minister is breaking his promise. My question to the minister is, why won't the minister simply admit that his promise was half-baked, and had a half-baked scheme to get elected, instead of giving good policy and a good policy choice to the people of Nova Scotia?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, let's analyze the question. The member opposite is telling Nova Scotians that I am standing out and that we are going to give tax relief of $140 million. That's exactly what he said. Then he's also saying that we're backing down from our promise. I find that hard to believe. He is stating that we are going to give a tax cut, but then he's also saying we're not. I'm confused. We have a plan; we're following it. Obviously, they don't.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: INHERITANCES - CLAIMS POLICY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question for the Minister of Health. After that disgraceful response to my colleague's question, I want to bring to this House the story of Lemon Demont. In 1978, Mr. Demont's mother made a will conveying some property to him that had been in his family for generations. What nobody in the Demont family knew was that when Mrs. Demont went into the long-term care facility, the province would demand that the land be sold to pay for her care. So I want to ask the Minister of Health, why is his department punishing the families of the elderly by claiming their meager inheritances?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it would be desirable for all long-term care in this province to be at no charge to anybody, as the NDP is suggesting. The fact is that this province is putting $204 million into long-term care this year, which is an increase of $24 million over last year.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the agreement between Mr. Demont and his mother was that he would pay the taxes and the land would be his. He upheld his end of the agreement, but the province said not so fast, we're taking the property. In Mr. Demont's mind and, I think, more importantly in the mind of his mother, that land was already passed on to her son. I want to ask the Minister of Health, knowing the facts, why would your department claim this property?

[Page 9827]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would dearly love to pay for long-term care for everybody, but we can't afford to do it. The Social Services Act is very clear that people are asked to contribute to their care as they are able, and that's the policy we follow, one that I believe is correct.

MR. DEXTER: He should actually read the Act, Mr. Speaker. The province is stepping in to claim something that they don't have a moral right to take. The land is valued at less than $25,000, but to Mr. Demont, it's priceless. It has been in his family for generations. I want to ask the Minister of Health, when will his department review the way they claw back long-term care fees and find a formula that is fair to families and to the elderly?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the issue of contributions to long-term care is reviewed annually, like all other policies in our department. The policies that are there, not everybody likes them, there's no question about that, and clearly the New Democrats don't want to have people pay for anything. Just line up, folks, get your hands out, the government will pay for it. Thank heaven we will never live to see an NDP Government in this province. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - ASSESS: PROPERTY OWNERS - HEED

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. Yesterday, both the mayor and the warden of Bridgewater indicated that this government failed to listen to the concerns they brought forward on how to fix the property assessment problem. This government knows these municipal leaders hear first-hand the angry chorus of property owners over the dramatic increases in assessments. These are just two more leaders who have said they have ideas to bring to the table, yet they say this government hasn't listened to their recommendations. My question to the minister is, can this minister tell this House when he plans to listen to the property owners in the municipalities on the assessment issue?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for his question. I can point out to the honourable member that suggestions we have received from some municipal leaders, not all, entailed a freeze on assessment or tying the assessment to the Consumer Price Index. I can tell the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes that if we were to tie assessment to the Consumer Price Index, he would have the people in his constituency whose assessments are decreasing on his back because they would have to pay more tax than their property was worth. Those are the ideas that are coming forward.

[Page 9828]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. This minister says the municipalities were contacted on this issue. I don't doubt there have been some discussions on this issue. But to be fair, from what I heard yesterday, it seems to be a one-way street with this government leading all the way. I'm not overstating the point when I say that this mayor and warden, among others, remain upset that this government has failed to listen to them. My question to the minister is, will this minister detail for this House what he has done and will do to involve the taxpayers and the municipal units to fix the mess that he has created?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, once again I thank the honourable member for the question. He makes reference to the mess that we created. We are applying the Assessment Act in exactly the same way we found it when we took it over from that bunch across the way.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I refer to a letter also from Mayor Laurence Mawhinney from the Town of Lunenburg. I will table that letter for the minister. My question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. It was this government that promised Nova Scotians that it was going to be more open and accountable. Nova Scotians have opinions on important issues, but this government has failed to fully listen and to consult with Nova Scotians on issues that affect them dearly. It began with transition houses and the Arts Council. Now this government has failed again. This time it's failing to listen to the municipalities and the property owners on assessment issues. My question is, will this minister commit to go back to the drawing board with taxpayers and municipalities to come up with legislation that has credibility in the eyes of Nova Scotians?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member and both Parties opposite of course are going to do their best to ensure that none of the property owners in this province will be able to take advantage of the measures that we presented. None of the municipal councils would be able to use the provisions we put forward in order to provide relief. But I can tell the honourable member that we have and we continue to have discussions with municipal leaders. This morning, we had a very productive discussion with the warden of the Municipality of Lunenburg and that, as I indicated, was a very constructive meeting. The warden indicated to me that he understood the need for relief to flow to individual property owners within his municipality and that's something that he has committed to attempt to address and we are certainly prepared to work with him in doing that.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - MIN. WAGE INCREASE:

INFLATION - CONSIDER

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' minimum wage study released today says minimum wage buys 40 per cent less today than

[Page 9829]

it did in 1976. The study points out that low minimum wage has increased inequality in Nova Scotia and indeed contributes to poverty. The evidence is clear. According to GPI Atlantic, 80 per cent of Nova Scotians are worse off than they were in 1980 and the poor in Nova Scotia are the poorest in this country. So I want to ask the Minister of Environment and Labour, what will your government do to assure Nova Scotians that they will use inflation rates when they raise the minimum wage in October of this year?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think that the member opposite brings up a valid concern and I think that basically what he's saying is that whatever comes out should reflect this in the final decision and it will.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, again, the minister has not answered the question. The gap between the rich and the poor continues to grow in this province and I don't know if he's aware of that. The low minimum wage becomes the wage benchmark, if you will. It favours employers who pay low wages and allows overall wages to stagnate and not to grow. The study released today shows that many Nova Scotians work for close to minimum wage and that in 1999 one in four wage workers earned less than $8 an hour. My question, Mr. Minister, why has your government stood by over the last three years and done absolutely nothing to ensure that Nova Scotians receive a living wage?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member opposite that a schedule of increments was implemented, indeed, by the former minister and today's Labour Critic from the Liberal Party. We have abided by that schedule.

MR. CORBETT: Well, he can rest assured, Mr. Speaker, that nobody's running off to the Cayman Islands to put that money in any banks down there, the minimal10 cents an hour. A recent study shows that one in six Nova Scotian women lives below Statistics Canada's low income cut-off. Our female poverty rate is the second highest in the country. There has been an alarming increase in child poverty in this province alone. So I want to ask this minister, why won't you commit to finally basing Nova Scotia's minimum wage increase on a thorough, comprehensive analysis and not just a chat with your buddies in the backroom?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite obviously feels passionately about this and he's bringing up a number of suggestions. I note that on May 1, 2002, in The Chronicle-Herald, he was quoted as saying, ". . . Mr. Corbett said the province should set the minimum wage at the cost of living, plus two per cent. He said that works out to $5.94 . . ." an hour. I find it interesting that he feels that that's going to solve all the problems. I would like to table this. (Interruptions) I would also like to have a copy back, as well, in case I need to refer to it again.

[Page 9830]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable minister will table what he read from.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

COMMUN. SERV. - CENT. NOVA WOMEN'S RES. CTR.:

FUNDING REQUEST - DETAILS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, last Thursday I questioned the Minister of Community Services about a potential closure of the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre. The minister said that it wasn't his problem; it was the problem of HRDC. The minister said that he had no idea that they needed funding. The centre previously received start-up funding from HRDC, but that funding, as the minister well knows, is running out. The minister knows that, or he should have known, despite what he tried to pretend, because this centre is part of the CONNECT Nova Scotia member agency that all women's centres in Nova Scotia belong to.

He also should have known that the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre did apply for funding from his department. He also should have known, as the MLA for the area, that the Health Minister claims to have written the department in support of the funding application and that he had spoken to the minister about the need for funding. So my question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Community Services is, can the minister inform this House whether or not he was mistaken when he stated that the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre had not indicated to his department a need for funding?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, all of those items that the member listed off I did know. I do know, and as I indicated last week, they were started up and have been running on HRDC funds. I do know that we have been talking to them as to what their needs are and what we will be doing in the future.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister indicated last week that he didn't know that. He knows that now because we told the minister that. We made him aware of it. The Central Nova Women's Resource Centre does some great work and receives many referrals, including some from the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill. Now, it's too bad the MLA was not better at helping the Community Services Minister relieve his memory lapse.

Mr. Speaker, my question again to the minister, can he confirm that the Central Nova Women's Resource Centre actually made an official application back in January to his department to be included in the budgetary process?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, yes, I can confirm to the member that we had discussions with them last year, that we had discussions with them earlier this year, and we have had discussions with them just within the last month.

[Page 9831]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, there are eight women's centres in the province, all members of CONNECT. The only two that do not receive provincial funding are in Yarmouth and in Truro. My final question to the minister is, has the minister received word that the Yarmouth and Truro centres will be present at the table for his much-promised redesign process?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Yarmouth asked me that the other day and I indicated to him that we would be looking at that and I would respond to him in the very near future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East. (Applause)

Order, please. Unfortunately, that show of support doesn't evolve into votes for the honourable member.

The honourable member for Hants East. (Interruptions)

NAT. RES. - PRIVATE WOODLOTS: SUSTAINABILITY - STANCE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, we can move to change that. My question will be for the Minister of Natural Resources. The minister has stated on more than one occasion, and actually has stated in the House that the sustainability fund was established because the harvesting of small private woodlots was not sustainable. He has indicated that Crown land harvesting is sustainable, large industrial is sustainable, but small private woodlot harvesting is not sustainable. I just wondered if the minister still concurs with that statement?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, when we had the AgFor report commissioned, it clearly showed, as the member opposite said, that the Crown land was sustainable, the large industrial, and small private woodlands were not in a sustainable situation. That is why the government has instituted the sustainability fund, to ensure that it does become sustainable.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his answer. The minister would know that the sustainability fund is so new that it wouldn't be having an impact to this date, yet. I want to table, for the minister, a document from his department that says that we are harvesting 3 million cords of wood per year in Nova Scotia. His staff at his department have told me that the forest of Nova Scotia, what we refer to as the operable forest that we can harvest on, is actually growing 3 million cords per year. I want to know if the minister would agree with that?

[Page 9832]

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly, as everyone would understand and it is why forest is sustainable, and there has been an industry here for 400 years, that as areas of the province are harvested, reforestation, regeneration, new growth causes more volumes of wood to be produced.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take that as a yes, that the minister does agree with his department when they say that we're actually growing as much on the overall forest as we're harvesting. My final question to the minister is, if this province is growing as much wood as it's harvesting, how is it that small private woodlots are not sustainable? If he's making the case that they're not sustainable, then who's doing the math? Either we're harvesting more than is indicated or we're not regenerating as much as his department thinks, so I want to know, which is it?

MR. FAGE: Certainly there is good, sound forest practice on sustainability in this province. Obviously, there is a huge host of factors that would deal with growth of our forests in this province - the amount of volume. They would deal with such areas that are set aside, old growth that would not be harvested or areas that, under the new regulations such as water courses, on private and Crown land we do not allow harvesting. That's why it is so important that the sustainability fund is in place and that more emphasis on reforestation, on sustainable forestry practices are conducted on small private lots. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

JUSTICE - ELIZABETH FRY SOC. (C.B.): FUNDING - SECURE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Members of this House have learned about the funding shortfall faced by the Elizabeth Fry Society in Cape Breton. Members of this House know very well the important role played by the society in dealing with individuals who come face-to-face with our justice system. Nova Scotians know it is ridiculous for the Minister of Justice or this government to suggest that the Elizabeth Fry Society will find on its own $64,000 out of their $100,000 operating budget - that is without the support of government and other agencies. My question to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General is, will the minister commit to, at the very least, attempting to secure other non-governmental sources of revenue on behalf of the Elizabeth Fry Society in Cape Breton?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: The honourable member raises a very good point and I can indicate to the honourable member that I would have no problem in encouraging all the non-government institutions and indeed, the federal government, which is - as we both know - relatively well off, to contribute to assist the Elizabeth Fry Society to continue its operations.

MR. SAMSON: Funding losses as a result of low interest rates will also mean that the John Howard Society in Cape Breton will be closing its agency and services. Ironically, this year marks their 20th Anniversary. The one staff member at the John Howard Society

[Page 9833]

provides tremendous public education to youth in industrial Cape Breton on any issue, such as dealing with drugs, bullying and any aspect of the justice system. A lot of her time has been spent educating youth at the request of teachers and community groups about bullying and mental cruelty that is growing among the young people in this province. My question again to the Minister of Justice is, what will the minister do and what plan does his government have to ensure that the services of the John Howard Society or the Elizabeth Fry Society are not lost in Cape Breton?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member and I agree. Indeed the question from another honourable member yesterday is consistent with that in that the John Howard Society and the Elizabeth Fry Society both do valuable work. We will do what we can within our means to try to deal with those shortcomings, but we must not forget the very important role that the Government of Canada plays because, as the honourable member would know, many of the people who are dealt with by the Elizabeth Fry Society and the John Howard Society are being released from federal institutions back into the community as a result of the federal parole are people who could benefit from their services.

MR. SAMSON: Important support and public education services are on the verge of ceasing now because of extremely low interest rates, which is no fault of these agencies or societies themselves. However, despite this fact, the Government of Nova Scotia has an important role to play in the sustaining and promoting of these very important services to Nova Scotians. My final supplementary is, what will the minister's plan be and what has he done to date to assist the Elizabeth Fry Society and the John Howard Society in gaining financial support from other non-governmental agencies, or is he just going to sit back and watch them close their doors?

MR. BAKER: I can indicate to you that officials from my department will assist in any way that those organizations feel would be constructive in securing alternate funding sources.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I want to address my question to the Minister of Agriculture. (Interruptions) I will let one of my colleagues . . .

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SENIORS' HOUSING:

NON-SENIOR PLACEMENTS - EXPLAIN

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the minister responsible for housing. Seniors who live in public housing are placed in a difficult situation. The minister

[Page 9834]

responsible for housing is placing people in seniors' apartment buildings who are not seniors. Residents are reporting that their new neighbours include the mentally ill, homeless people and younger social assistance recipients. I ask the minister responsible for housing, why is his department disrupting the lives of elderly tenants by placing non-seniors in seniors' housing?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the housing section of Community Services, we look at using all our resources to serve all the people of this province irregardless. We have seniors' housing and as seniors' housing, they stay filled when people need them. When they don't need them and they're vacant, we use them for other people in the province.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that that minister speak with a former minister of the Tory Party, namely Mr. Roland Thornhill, who was responsible for much of the seniors' housing and then he will understand why seniors have particular housing suited for seniors. My question is, as the residents are living in fear, one senior has said that she only leaves her apartment to go to the garbage and the mailbox. Can you imagine? She only leaves her apartment to go to the garbage and the mailbox. The senior complains about increased noise level, apartments full of garbage, and food waste and the tenants panhandling door to door. I ask the minister responsible for housing, why is he expecting seniors to live under such conditions?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we don't expect people to live under those conditions. That's why we have the housing authorities, that's why we have people supervising the building, that's why we have people around there to help those people.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, seniors' housing should be seniors' housing. It isn't fair to either group. My question to the minister responsible for housing is, will his department review its housing policy and address the very real fears of seniors living in public housing? That's the question.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, as we discussed in estimates, we had a symposium that people could come and we talked about all the housing issues. Those were some of the issues that were raised and, yes, we are working to (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 9835]

COMMUN. SERV. - TRANSITION HOUSES/TREATMENT CTRS.: OPERATIONS - ENSURE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Government funding to transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs is essential to the family violence services that the staff of those centres provide. The government does not fund those programs 100 per cent. Transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs rely on other sources of non-governmental support. My question for the minister is, will this minister ensure that transition houses, women's centres and men's treatment programs will not close or lose services no matter what prevails in other losses of revenue to those services?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member just raises the very question as to why we're having a review with transitional houses, women's centres and men's programs. We've indicated to them that we want to look at those core programs that they're able to deliver and that are sustainable. We've indicated to them that we want the Department of Justice to become involved because there are programs on men's treatment and other programs that they can become involved with. That is the very reason that we're having this ongoing discussion with them and we're working on the program development.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister knows full well that he has done absolutely nothing to allay the fears of those people who are working in those centres, absolutely nothing, and that the funding cut is still on the books. The Cape Breton Transition House is losing funding from a key granting society and, as a result, they're laying off their public educator staff person. Public education on the issue of family violence is important for breaking the cycle of violence that exists in many families in this province. My question to the minister is, what will the minister do to ensure that the public educator for the Cape Breton Transition House is secured in the plan for redesign of family violence services?

MR. CHRISTIE: As I indicated, the reason that we're having this discussion with transition houses, men's programs and the women's centres is that whole issue of sustainability. We have to be able to put in place services that people know are going to be there and we have to be able to sustain them, just for this very reason that the honourable member brings up.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, revenue sources for other transition houses may very well be at stake, such as the Cape Breton transition house, as well. The government has to take a lead role in ensuring that access to family violence services are maintained in every region of this province. So my final question to the minister is, will the minister once again commit to honouring his promise to not disrupt or close transition houses or women's centres in this province, despite losses to revenue from other non-governmental sources?

[Page 9836]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, we have indicated that no transition houses are going to close. We've also indicated that we have to work with those various groups to make sure that there's sustainability, that we can deliver those programs that are there and that is the whole issue of this program, how we're going to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - EAST COAST COMMODITIES: ASSETS - PROTECT

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I have an example for you of a privatization gone wrong. In 1998, the Liberal Government privatized the grain and forage industry in Nova Scotia, giving it to the newly formed East Coast Commodities. Last month, East Coast Commodities entered receivership. Under the trust agreement, the assets are supposed to revert to the province. I ask the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries, what is his department doing to make sure those assets, paid for by the taxpayers, are not lost?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: As the honourable member knows, East Coast Commodities is in receivership. When that is settled, the Nova Scotia Government, who is the major lender in this situation, will be reimbursed to the extent that the facility disposal can bring forward.

MR. MACDONELL: To the extent that the facility disposal can bring forward. Wow. Mr. Speaker, an ad in today's Chronicle-Herald is seeking offers for the purchase of the assets of East Coast Commodities' steam mill facility, assets that were paid for by the taxpayers, assets that were ripped out of Middleton while the new Tory Government stood idly by ignoring the protests of local farmers. So I ask the minister again, why is he allowing these assets to be auctioned off to the lowest bidder, perhaps?

MR. FAGE: Again, the honourable member appears to be confused. A private company owns these assets. We are a lender and a creditor. They are in receivership. When they're disposed of, we will retain our share.

MR. MACDONELL: Your share, 0 per cent of nothing is still nothing, Mr. Speaker. East Coast Commodities got the assets for far below their market value. Now those assets are being sold off instead of being returned to the community that paid for them. So my question to the minister is, when will his department admit that mistakes were made and step in to ensure that these taxpayers' assets are not lost forever?

MR. FAGE: I can assure the honourable member we already have. That's why we're at this point.

[Page 9837]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - EMERGENCY RMS.:

PARAMEDICS - PHYSICIAN REPLACEMENT

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Yesterday, this minister failed to respond to a question posed by the honourable member for Richmond so I will ask it again. My question to the minister is, is it and will it continue to be your government's policy to have paramedics replace emergency room care by physicians in hospitals in rural Nova Scotia, yes or no?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, if there are no emergency room physicians and there is an emergency room, we will continue the excellent policy of putting paramedics who are highly trained there in case they are needed.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that's an unbelievable answer from a member of the front bench of this government. While I have much admiration for the professionalism shown by our paramedics, they're trained to respond to emergency situations and deliver pre-hospital care. They are pre-hospital care workers. They are not to replace doctors in emergency departments. A doctor is a doctor; a nurse is a nurse; a paramedic is a paramedic. You start fooling around with that system, and you're going to have trouble. My question to the minister is, has the minister given any thought as to what happens, God forbid, if there is a major accident and all available ambulance units and personnel are required to respond in a community disaster?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I take it from the preamble to that question that the honourable member, representing the members of his Liberal Party, feels that it's not appropriate to station ambulances at emergency rooms if there is no physician available. (Interruptions)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I'm talking about paramedics (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East has the floor.

DR. SMITH: . . . further and saying that ambulances should be posted at hospitals. That's not where you need ambulances. People in the hospital don't need ambulances, or they shouldn't if this minister was on the job and had some physicians for those particular hospitals in rural Nova Scotia. What's happening is the paramedics are working extra shifts, because this government has failed to retain physicians who work part-time. Family physicians are overworked, and many are not comfortable doing their shifts in emergency rooms. It's a quality of life issue for paramedics, who are now working extra shifts, and I underline extra shifts. What is this minister doing to make family doctors more comfortable

[Page 9838]

working in emergency rooms, so that the entire emergency health care system remains strong, and paramedics are not placed in situations that compromise their valuable level of care?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would not ask paramedics to do things that would compromise their capabilities. Obviously, what they do is they deliver emergency care, and they transport if they are needed, and that's what they would continue to do. The issue of emergency room physicians is a challenging one, not only for this province but for every other jurisdiction in Canada. Despite the fact that we don't have enough family doctors, the only thing I can say is that we are much better off than most other Canadian jurisdictions. That doesn't mean we're where we want to be, but that's the situation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay will bring himself to order. Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - YOUTH: NEEDS - NEGLECT EXPLAIN

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. This province is turning its back on 16- and 17-year olds in need of help. Once a child reaches the age of 16, he or she is no longer eligible for protection or foster care in this province. If they can no longer stay with their families, that particularly pushes them out onto the street. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why is his department neglecting the needs of 16- and 17-year olds in this province?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member will know that people who reach the age of 16 under Community Supports for Adults will stay there. He also is aware that people at the age of 16 or 17 are able to apply and go into the Adult Protection program in the Department of Health. We are not ignoring them; there are programs for them. (Interruptions)

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, yes, give me a break. When a child reaches 16 in this province, there is nobody to look after him or her. Well, that's not quite true, I do apologize. There are plenty of pimps and drug pushers out there who would be all too happy to take the desperate teens under their wings. My question to the Minister of Community Services is, why does his department continue to throw away our future?

[Page 9839]

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, there are no cases where people are thrown away. There are opportunities for people to look at different programs and they come to our programs for a variety of reasons.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, clearly, something needs to be done about this situation; 16- and 17-year-olds still need our protection and support so they can live in a safe environment and complete their studies. I ask the Minister of Community Services, will he commit today to address this gap in services within his department?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the Department of Health and the Department of Community Services have put forward programs under the area of mental health. We have looked at the areas of programs for people coming into adult protection programs and we are committed to breaking down those walls and taking away all those places where people don't have programs.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - RES. RECOVERY FUND BD.:

REVENUE - REMOVAL EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The original intention when the Resource Recovery Fund Board was established was to place 100 per cent of the revenues collected into municipal recycling programs. However, this government has decided to take 10 per cent of the revenues from recycled materials and place this money into the budget of the Department of Environment and Labour, which means that money originally intended to assist municipal units across the province is being used to fund the activities of the department. My question to the minister is, why has the minister taken this revenue away from its intended purpose?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, to be of assistance to the member opposite, I would like to tell him that the commitment in the regulations is that 50 per cent of the net revenues from the Resource Recovery Fund Board should go to the municipalities, not 100 per cent. Perhaps with that clarification, it will guide him in his subsequent questions.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, but he failed to answer the fact that he's siphoning money away from the Resource Recovery Fund Board. This government has a habit of failing to disclose important information to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. In fact, even more so, the minister met with representatives from the Retail Council of Canada who informed the minister that they were not aware of the fact that the government now filters 10 per cent of the revenues collected into the department, nor were they very happy with the government siphoning off these funds. The fact that this government is taking 10 per cent of revenue and

[Page 9840]

placing it into department coffers is important to all Nova Scotians and businesses, as well as our 55 municipal units. My question to the minister is, why did the minister not inform the people of Nova Scotia, and in particular the municipalities, of the province's intent to infuse into his department funds from the Resource Recovery Fund Board?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, now that we've established that the commitment was 50 per cent, I would suggest to the member opposite that if he was to go back through the estimates and indeed past Question Periods, he would note that in fact a great deal more than the 50 per cent has been passed on to the municipalities. I would also mention to the member opposite that the Retail Council of Canada came in yesterday and they had nothing but good things to say about the Resource Recovery Fund Board and the actions undertaken by this and indeed previous Departments of Environment.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, again, the minister didn't answer the question. Why is he siphoning off 10 per cent of these revenues? Second of all, I too met with the representatives from the Retail Council of Canada and they had all the praise for the previous administration who put this entire recycling program together and made it the success that it is today. It gave no credit to that particular government.

In June 2002, the government, through the Resource Recovery Fund Board, is planning a paint recycling program with specific fee structures attached. Will the minister assure members of this House, members of the Canadian Retail Association and all Nova Scotians that his government will not siphon off any of those dollars and divert them into general revenues?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would point out to the member opposite that, in fact, the cost of this program will be included in the price of the paint. It will not be shown as a separate fee and so, therefore, the question really makes no sense.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: MRI CLINIC (PRIVATE) - DETAILS

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, MRIs are increasingly in demand throughout Canada. Unfortunately though, what are also increasing are waiting times - it's a nationwide issue. Private MRI clinics are springing up as a solution to the long waiting lists. Ontario and Quebec are seeing many patients opting to pay between $700 to $1,000 to get into an MRI clinic in a reasonable period of time. I want to ask the Minister of Health what details can he provide this House on a private MRI clinic coming to Halifax?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have really no first-hand knowledge of a private MRI clinic coming to Halifax, but I have been told that there is one coming.

[Page 9841]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Canadian Medical Journal has an article dated October 6, 2000, which I will table, with the headline - Private MRI Clinics Flourishing in Quebec. In a National Post article dated November 2001, it states that just three years ago private clinics accounted for 1 per cent of the MRI market, but today the number is believed to have grown to over 10 per cent. I want to ask the Minister of Health, what exactly is this government's policy or position with respect to the operation of private MRI clinics in the Province of Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we will be announcing a public policy on MRIs for the province in the very near future, the thing is working out. In terms of the response to the member's question, there is at least one other private medical clinic here in the city which she would be well aware of and I guess the same rules would apply to a private MRI clinic as apply to that.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this sounds extraordinarily vague and disorganized. The Minister of Health should be on top of this issue and he obviously isn't. Private clinics create a two-tiered health care system where those who can pay get timely treatment and those who cannot have no choice but to wait their turn and those waits are getting longer every day. So my question to the Minister of Health is, what assurances can he offer that health care is not up for sale in this province?

MR. MUIR: The honourable member, Mr. Speaker, knows that there is a tremendous, or at least a considerable portion of health care in this province that is delivered on a private basis. What I can say is that, as far as our government is concerned, we continue to stand by the five principles of the Canada Health Act.

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

EDUC. - UCCB: PROGS. - VALUE/SUPPORT

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question today for the Minister of Education. Students attending the University College of Cape Breton participated in a national day of action earlier this year asking that operating grants from the government be increased to that university. These are integral to the university because they determine what educational programs and services can be offered to students attending that institution. The educational programs and services are unique to the University College of Cape Breton and the 3,000 Nova Scotian students that it educates every year. I want to ask the Minister of Education through you, does this minister value the educational programs that are currently being offered at the University College of Cape Breton and is she willing to support them?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all our universities in Nova Scotia are unique and valuable, but as to specific programs that universities may or may not wish to offer, that is entirely up to them.

[Page 9842]

MR. MACEWAN: Now, I know as little as I knew before that answer, Mr. Speaker, but let me continue. I know that the minister will tell us over and over again that it's the university administration at UCCB that produces the budget at the university college and not her department. But I ask her, Mr. Speaker, through you, does he really expect me to believe that UCCB does not depend on every dollar that the Department of Education gives to them. My question to the minister is, what does this minister think will happen to the economy of Cape Breton if UCCB is forced to cut programs and jobs as a result of the government's lack of investment or, may I say, does she care?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all our universities, including UCCB, are doing their best to live within their means and offer quality programs. We do have quality programs and universities in Nova Scotia and I'm very proud of them, as is our whole caucus. But they're trying to do what we're trying to do, live within our means.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, economic data supports the notion that spending on post-secondary education is good for Canada's economy. Now I can only rationalize this to mean that spending money on the University College of Cape Breton is good for Cape Breton and the economy of Nova Scotia. So my final question to the minister would be, will she admit that she has failed to finance the educational programs and services of the universities of this province, including UCCB, because her government does not really care about economic development in Cape Breton, such as when they closed down that steel plant about which I think she sent out a postcard?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, universities are critical to the economic development of this province whether it is UCCB or Dalhousie or St. F.X. or Acadia. (Interruption) Yes, Université Saint-Anne and all the universities in Nova Scotia. Because they are so important we have not tried to proceed on an amalgamation bent as was the course under previous governments not of our stripe.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - HFX. CO. REG. REHAB. CTR.:

DECISION - PUBLICIZE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. The lives of the 160 people who live and work in the Halifax County Regional Rehabilitation Centre are in limbo because this government refuses to act. The centre is in the process of downsizing, residents are waiting to find out where they will go and when, staff are trying to renew their collective agreement and sort out the layoffs and severance issues, but everything is stalled until this government decides on the centre's business plan. My question to the Minister of Community Service is, the plan was submitted over four months ago, when are you going to take action and make public your decision regarding the future of this centre?

[Page 9843]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, that plan has been coming forward. We have been working with the Rehab Centre. We have been looking at places where people are going to go. That plan is in progress and it will be done over the next few months.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, that's the same old story that continues to follow on month after month after month. More than 80 employees are waiting for this minister to act. Some have given over 18 years of service to this province. Their collective agreements expired last October, since then they have been waiting for the minister to provide some guidance. That's what they're asking for, guidance. They need to know how many staff will be laid off, what the transition program will be and what shape the newer, smaller facility will take. My question to the minister is, what are you prepared to do to ensure that these employees finally get some answers?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows a conciliator was appointed last week to work with the employees there, to answer some of those questions. That process is ongoing, as the contract and the agreement says it should.

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. PYE: That minister is very much aware that there would never have to be a need for a conciliator if that government carried out its platform promise of consultation. This government's inaction is to drive this centre into a crisis - 91 per cent of the staff are in favour of striking if necessary. This government has put the lives of staff, residents, and entire families on hold. Employees can't plan for the future and the residents are wondering where they will live. My final supplementary to the minister is, you've had four months, will you finally commit right now to personally providing some answers?

MR. CHRISTIE: As I've indicated to the member, we continue to meet with that group. We continue to meet with the people at the centre. We have had a conciliator appointed to deal with the issue of the union agreements and their dispute and we will continue to meet with them to resolve this problem.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SYDNEY CITY HOSP.: SALE - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: My question today is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The minister has stated that the government intends to sell the former City Hospital site property in Sydney for $146,000. The government did not consult the community or the CBRM on the future uses of this site. A for sale sign was located on the property and, after one day, the sign came down - only one day. My question to the minister is, is the property of the former Sydney City Hospital sold and, if so, to whom?

[Page 9844]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: It's a very appropriate question, because at the present time the Department of Transportation is having discussions - as he learned from a question yesterday - with the real estate companies in Nova Scotia with regard to signs. But that particular sign came down in the middle of the night, as I understand it, and it ended up in the creek.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: That may have been the case, but I wonder why it didn't go back the next day. My supplementary question is, the minister does know that this property is zoned institutional and the future uses of that property are very important to the residents of that area - a site that is now protected by zoning restrictions and the people of that area deserve to be consulted on what's going on with that particular property. The other day the minister said that he had spoken to - or at least somebody in his department - the former Premier, Russell MacLellan, on this matter. Could the minister inform me as to where and when those conversations took place?

MR. RUSSELL: I'm not sure when and where those conversations took place, but there was a conversation between a senior staff member of the Department of Transportation and the former Premier with regard to that particular piece of property because it is, as the honourable member I'm sure knows, right opposite his residence. The property is zoned at the present time as I understand it for institutional use, but property can always be rezoned.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I was hoping the minister would say that because I'm going to tell you that government better put a buyer beware sign on that property if they want to sell it to have it rezoned for any other use other than the use it's being used now - recreational. It will not be rezoned, it will be protected by the CBRM, so tell your friends that you're selling that property to, to forget about buying it because you won't be able to do anything with it. My supplementary to the minister is, can the minister inform the House what plans his government has for the property in the future and what type of development would he like to see on that property?

MR. RUSSELL: This piece of property, I know that the member believes that it came to the province by virtue of a document, which he signed, by the way, as mayor at that time (Interruptions) For a dollar. That dollar also came attached to a cheque for $959,000 to the CBRM, it also came attached with a cheque for $3 million to look after the deficits that have been run by that hospital over the past four years, and it also comes attached with a $700,000 cheque that was paid for remediation. That piece of property, I would suggest to you, has cost the taxpayers of this province somewhere in the neighbourhood of $5 million to $6 million. I can understand why he would want to have it for a dollar.

[Page 9845]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, there was an interesting column in a Halifax newspaper this week. The writer chronicled her nightmarish experiences in an overcrowded emergency room. I want to ask the Minister of Health, what is he going to do about this situation?

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. Yesterday during Question Period, I raised the matter of a promise made to Nova Scotians by the Finance Minister and the Premier. That promise was the promise of a 10 per cent tax cut for all Nova Scotians, a promise now broken by this minister and his Premier. Today the minister told this House, during Question Period, that I endorsed this cut while our Leader was in the gallery opposing that position.

Mr. Speaker, firstly, I want to clear the record here. My statements in Question Period were relative to a promise made by the Premier and the Finance Minister, a promise clearly broken. I made no such reference to any other position on the matter, as stated by the Finance Minister today. Also, the Finance Minister stated that our Leader was in the gallery, stating his position on the issue in Question Period, when in fact he was at the meeting in the Justice Minister's riding talking to concerned constituents in the South Shore and other ridings on the South Shore all day yesterday.

AN HON. MEMBER: He wasn't even here.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: He wasn't even here. Mr. Speaker, I feel that in a review of Hansard, both yesterday and today, you will find that what I said on the record had nothing to do with our position on anything; it had to do with a promise broken by the government. The minister has misled the House, and I believe my privileges and the privileges of all members of this House have been violated. I would ask you to rule on that, Mr. Speaker, and report back to this House.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the point of order brought up by the member opposite, I have a copy of Hansard from yesterday. I would refer to the question, the first supplementary from the member opposite. It says, "Will the minister guarantee the promised 10 per cent tax cut will be implemented next year?"

[Page 9846]

Mr. Speaker, if that doesn't sound like the Liberal Party is demanding that we do that, I beg to question (Interruptions) The fact of the matter is, if the Leader of the Liberal Party (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Minister of Finance has the floor.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious that I've touched a chord with the Liberal Party because they don't want to let me speak. I want to say that if the Liberal Party Leader was not in the gallery, for that I will correct my comments. The fact is, he probably should be, but that's another point for another day. The fact that he isn't here, he will have to answer to Nova Scotians. However, I will stand by my comments that the member opposite demanded that we put the tax cut in place. The words speak for themselves, and I will table this. (Interruptions)

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on the point of privilege. I just want to interject briefly on this. It sounds very much like we have a bit of a disagreement between a couple of members, but that confusion could be resolved very quickly if we were to invite the Liberal Leader to come down to the Legislature. Then maybe he could tell us what, in fact, the Liberal position is. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will take the matter under advisement and report back to the House.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect on an introduction.

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I have the pleasure today to introduce a couple of guests who are here in our gallery. One is an involved activist from the area, or close to the area, that I represent, and her dad. I would ask Beth McGee and Mr. Wilfred Creighton to stand in their place and receive the acknowledgement of the House. (Applause)

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP House Leader.

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

[Page 9847]

PRIVATE MEMBERS' BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I gave out the agenda and the times. Maybe we could just shorten up the first round by a minute apiece, and that should pretty well get us back on track.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 52.

Bill No. 52 - Workers Health and Safety Act.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it is actually with some reticence I rise to speak on Bill No. 52. This is a bill that was introduced by my colleague Frank Corbett - I'm sorry, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre - you're not allowed to say their names. But I think the honourable member made some very good points in the opening of this debate on the Workers Health and Safety Act. The point that he made at that time was that it is hard to believe that here we are, almost 10 years after the Westray Mine disaster. It's almost 10 years since 26 miners lost their lives in that terrible, terrible accident, yet the provisions of the Act, the provisions that are designed to protect the lives of working people in this province, have not been enacted by this government or by the past government.

Tomorrow, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre and myself and many others will gather at a candlelight vigil at the Westray monument, including the honourable member for Halifax Atlantic. We will gather there in New Glasgow at this vigil that is going to be sponsored by the Westray family group and by the steelworkers for the 10th Anniversary of this terrible disaster. Yet here we are, Mr. Speaker, where the basic rights of working people have not been observed. I want to make this point. We're talking about workers' rights, we're talking about human rights. We're talking about rights that ought to be in place in a civilized society, the benefits of which ought to flow to all people in whatever industries they work. In whatever they labour and in whatever they engage, they ought to have protection.

I want you to think about this because we're talking about your son, your daughter, your wife, your father, your mother. We're talking about the people in your community. We're talking about your family. That is why, Mr. Speaker, one of the clauses of this bill calls upon the Province of Nova Scotia to establish corporate liability for directors and officers, for decisions that are made by companies that bring with them, in the name of profit, injury and perhaps death to the people who are in their employ. This not an unreasonable position. This is not something that was dreamed up by us on this side of the House. This is not something that we say simply because we think it sounds good.

[Page 9848]

Mr. Speaker, this was a recommendation that came out of Justice Richards' Inquiry after that fateful day 10 years ago. It's based on one fundamental truth and that is this: labour is not a commodity. It's not something that you can put on the shelf and take off when you need it. Unlike any other thing that is involved in business, labour is about the lives of the people who work in the plants and in the mines. Labour is tangible because it is the very fabric of the lives of employees.

You know something, Mr. Speaker? The reason why we want to make corporate directors and officers responsible is because there is a very basic human frailty which is to strive to reach the very highest level of productivity, no matter what. It's a natural thing. I remember attending one time a convention in British Columbia. I was talking there with a miner. He said to me, you know, one of the things we fought for so hard in British Columbia to bring safety to the mines was a union safety officer, somebody that would be paid by the company, but whose job it would be in the mine to ensure that safety regulations were observed by other union members so that in the thrust of trying to get production bonuses - because that's what would happen - the companies would set up production bonuses and they would say the faster you produce, the more you work, the more you pull out of the mine, the better you're going to get paid. That's what they would say and the people who worked in that mine, of course, they would want to do their best and they would try hard and many of them would try to cut corners so that they would produce more. It's natural.

[4:15 p.m.]

Do you know something, Mr. Speaker? This fellow told me that after awhile they actually had a hard time trying to find a member of the union who could act as a safety officer because he would get a hard time from other people in the mine who simply wanted the production bonuses to be bigger and bigger and bigger. So it's a natural human condition to want to try to achieve the greatest amount that you can out of that mine, but that doesn't mean it's safe. That doesn't mean that that's the way it ought to operate and that's why, when these kinds of procedures are put in place, we need to have very, very clear safety regulations in place. That's why we need to have the observance of those in regulations that will be enforced because the company not only acts of its volition, it acts in a manner that provides, virtually, incentives to try to go around or take shortcuts, not only to the union members, but to the foremen, to the other officers of the company, that's the way and it all flows down.

So when Justice Richards found that the monitoring equipment on the equipment had been gummed up to cause the monitors to fail, that shouldn't have been surprising; the methane levels that existed in that mine were not being properly reported; the level of coal dust, and the recommendations that were made with putting down the stone dust to keep down the coal dust.

[Page 9849]

Mr. Speaker, this bill calls upon the Director of Prosecutions to appoint a specifically trained Crown prosecutor who will prosecute occupational health and safety violations. I know, as my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, pointed out, that occupational health and safety violations are sometimes harder to prosecute than murder trials because in a murder trial, as he pointed out and I think it bears repeating, what you're essentially trying to do is to point out that somebody pulled the trigger and caused the death of another individual and there's a clear chain of evidence. That's not so with occupational health and safety.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. You have about 20 seconds, just a reminder.

MR. DEXTER: In occupational health and safety, there is circumstantial evidence. They are complex, Mr. Speaker, and that's why this provision makes so much sense in order to protect working people. That's what this bill is all about - the protection of working people and it's time that the provisions were put in place to keep their workplaces safe.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, it's a real pleasure to stand up today and speak on Bill No. 52 which is a bill concerning occupational health and safety in the Province of Nova Scotia. I think it's worth mentioning and recognizing that this week is North American Occupational Safety and Health Week and we should acknowledge the hard work that has been put in by the North American Occupational Safety and Health Week Committee. They've done a lot of planning for this week. There was a flag raising earlier this week and there are ceremonies that will take place all week as well as a symposium and awards ceremony this coming Friday.

North American Occupational Safety and Health Week is a great way to further increase awareness of workplace injury and illness as well as highlight the good news about workplace health and safety in this province. This year's theme for NAOSH Week is "Prevention is the Cure: Shaping our Destiny". This Thursday will mark the 10th Anniversary of the Westray tragedy, Mr. Speaker, and tragedies in the workplace are sobering and disturbing events for all of us, but certainly most especially for the families, friends and co-workers of the victims. On April 28th, the provincial government and the Nova Scotia Federation of Labour together reaffirmed our collective commitment to reducing workplace injuries and illness through our participation in the ceremony for the National Day of Mourning.

By committing to prevent work-related injury and illness, we honour the memory of those who have lost their lives on the job. Ten years later, I'm pleased to report that attitudes are changing towards workplace health and safety in this province. Education, awareness and enforcement have increased Nova Scotia's knowledge and understanding of occupational health and safety laws, but we still have far to go. There's still lots of work to do. The

[Page 9850]

government recognizes this challenge and the Department of Environment and Labour Occupational Health and Safety Division work tirelessly everyday to help employers and employees reduce workplace injuries and illnesses.

Inspection and compliance are the foundation of the work they do in the department. In fact, more than 60 per cent of a department's resources are focussed on inspection activities. Only three short years ago we had 19 occupational health and safety inspectors and I'm pleased to say that now we have 27 and we're on track to have 30 very near in the future. Thanks to claim information provided by the Workers' Compensation Board, the department is better able to target accident prevention and inspection on the areas where they are needed to the most. In addition to their inspectors, there has been an increase in the professional staff who are the specialists in chemical exposure, ergonomics, engineering, education, policy, law development and communications. They work hard to develop laws that are current and up-to-date with the changing needs of society to educate and to support our officers efforts in the field.

There are many partnerships that are growing that the government has formed with groups in the private sector, such as the Nova Scotia Safety Council, just to name one, Mr. Speaker. Partnerships allow delivery of new programs and increase awareness among workers across the province. Government will continue to find new ways to address the changing needs of a dynamic and better-informed workforce. As you know, of particular importance to us is the youth - our future leaders of the province.

This year, David Morse, Minister of Environment and Labour, hosted a Labour Ministers' Conference here in Halifax. At this conference, a partnership on the provincial, federal and territorial level was formed to address the health and safety of young workers. The proportion of young workers hurt on the job is much higher than that of their more experienced counterparts. That's a very unfortunate thing and it's something that needs to be addressed by all workers in all workplaces to ensure that young workers have the tools and the training that they need to ensure their safety when they begin work.

With the help of other dedicated partners, we're encouraging the inclusion of occupational health and safety issues throughout the school system. For instance, this year a pilot program for Grade 11 students was launched. This half-credit course teaches young Nova Scotians their rights and responsibilities under the Occupational Health and Safety Act. It focusses on how to identify and avoid hazards in the workplace. This is exactly the type of partnership project you will see more of in the future. It has involved significant co-operation among several hardworking organizations. Other partners who have made this award-winning program possible are the Nova Scotia Department of Education, Human Resources Development Canada, the Nova Scotia Safety Council and St. John Ambulance.

[Page 9851]

We believe we have shown through our actions our sincere commitment to ensuring the safety to all Nova Scotians in the workplace; however, our programs of prevention and enforcement would mean nothing without the support and co-operation of all workplace parties. The minister has called on all employers and employees to intensify their health and safety practices and for those present here today to form a renewed collective commitment to reducing workplace injury and illness. This is one very important forum with regard to debating Occupational Health and Safety Acts, rules and regulations. This is one place where everyone has the opportunity and possibility to stand up, make sure that we can do what needs to be done to make Nova Scotians aware that occupational health and safety is extremely important and something that must be worked on on a daily basis at home with our families, at our workplace and even in this place of employment.

So, someday our goal of reducing accidents and possibly of one day eliminating accidents is what we are here to try to promote and what we are here to try to do. The elimination of all lost time and all serious accidents is one thing that I know this House is united and committed to try to make a possibility at some time in the future.

I would again like to thank the NAOSH committee, or the North American Occupational Safety and Health Committee, which is made up from people working in safety - human resources managers, plant managers throughout the province - and they work year-long to ensure when Occupational Safety and Health Week comes along there are programs planned, activities that take place throughout the province to ensure that the maximum number of Nova Scotians can be exposed and understand that improving workplace health and safety, home health and safety, farm health and safety, is extremely important and something that we all need to do to the best of our abilities.

By working together we can change the culture in the province to one in which workplace health and safety is ingrained in everything we do. That really is the trick - to make sure that workplace health and safety is something that everyone thinks of from the time they get out of bed in the morning until the time they go to sleep at night and something that we promote with each other, something that we talk about with each other, something that we make sure is on everyone's mind and it is something that I would encourage everyone here to do prior to doing any task at home or when they're driving or anything else that can be considered a hazardous occupation as we go through our daily lives.

I would just like to wrap up by saying we all need to be sure that we look out for each other. Sometimes we become complacent when we do something for a long period of time and those gentle and courteous reminders that people in workplaces take to ensure the well-being of their fellow man is certainly very, very important. Thank you.

[Page 9852]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: It's a privilege and an honour to rise to participate in this debate on Bill No. 52, An Act to Protect the Occupational Health and Safety of Workers, sponsored by my good friend, the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

Looking at the bill before me, it's not extremely lengthy. It doesn't have the verbosity perhaps of the Regina Manifesto, but it does have six sections in it with which I cannot take any issue. It's an expression of intent. I think any piece of legislation that one tables in this House is an expression of intent, as much as anything else. A message of, here's where we stand, and the question before the House now is do we stand on the side of occupational health and safety for workers or do we not? Because if we do stand on that then we will be proud to support this bill, both by speaking for it and by voting for it. If we don't support those goals, then we will want to see the bill talked out or die on the order paper or be voted down to defeat by voting against it.

I listened with interest to the remarks of the last speaker who spoke well of the government and of all the good things that they were doing. I listened to that message with interest, but during the course of that speech, I had brought to me the last Report of the Auditor General for the year 2001. In that report, the Auditor General went on at great length - 41 pages, from Page 140 to Page 181 - taking issue with the Department of Labour's handling of Occupational Health and Safety. He devoted a whole chapter to a critique of their performance, Chapter 9, beginning at Page 140 and going on page after page. I don't have time to read all these pages, but they're there in the record for anybody who wants to check them out in the Legislative Library. Chapter 9, which began at Page 140 goes to Page 160, 20 pages, and then that's followed by Chapter 10.

[4:30 p.m.]

Chapter 10 is headed, Environment and Labour-Public Safety. That goes on page after page after page, with such headings as Enforcement of the Acts and Regulations, Competency, Accountability, and Concluding Remarks. That's found at Page 172, 12 pages to that chapter, after 20 pages in the chapter before it - that's 32 pages so far, and that's followed by tables and appendices and exhibits of various kinds to back up the points made by the Auditor General.

The conclusion of the Auditor General is that the enforcement of labour health and safety regulations in Nova Scotia leaves a great deal to be desired. That's his conclusion, an independent, non-partisan conclusion, not something made by an Opposition Party here in this House. I suppose if my Party was currently in government, we would be trying to blow our own horns and say what a good job we're doing, like the member for Cape Breton North likes to do now, but the proof of the pie is in the eating. If the record of this government was

[Page 9853]

so Simon-pure and so holy good, I don't think the Auditor General would have reason to devote all these pages in this report to their performance.

The message I get on reading the Auditor General's Report is that the Department of Environment and Labour is not fully doing the job. "We believe 12 and 19 months respectively is too long a time to delay for reporting on the performance of the Department and the OFM. We recommend that annual reports be prepared and tabled on a more timely basis." That's not an indictable criticism, but it is one of reproof that they're not quick enough in getting out their reports.

This bill would address that concern. It would say that "Within six months of the coming into force of this Act, the Governor in Council shall enact" certain regulations, and further that "The Minister of Environment and Labour shall submit annually to the House of Assembly a report on the state of occupational health and safety in the Province." Then it goes on to outline the features that that report should have in its contents, among other things.

There's nothing wrong with this. If your heart is in the right place, you will want to support this bill. If your heart is in the wrong place, it doesn't matter what argument might be advanced to justify why you should support, you just plain won't support it because you're headed in the wrong direction. We don't want to see that government headed that way, but all we can do is put the case for the bill and then see what happens here in the House.

It would seem to me that the proper thing to do with this bill would be to pass it in a vote that we could call in just a moment, second reading, and let it go to the Law Amendments Committee. They can call in their witnesses, various people who are interested can testify, and it may come back in a revised form, I don't mind that, but at least it would be given the green light, some sense of having a future. I see nothing wrong with that.

Mr. Speaker, I think that there's probably about four minutes in the time I have. Two? It's still enough time for a vote. So, rather than delaying that vote, I'm going to sit down now and say that that concludes my remarks. Hopefully, there will be no further speakers on this bill and we can put it to a vote and send it down to the Red Room for the Law Amendments Committee.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank. You have approximately 1 minute and 15 seconds.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, it's somewhat disappointing that I didn't have a little more time to debate this piece of legislation, because frankly there are some issues that I would like to share with members opposite. Certainly 1 minute and 15 seconds gives me enough time to talk about the fact that in this province we have an Occupational Health and Safety Advisory Council that's made up of labour, of government and of management.

[Page 9854]

There's a process in place that allows for the government to review regulations and Acts that will involve government, management and labour to enable those people to have input into legislation.

Mr. Speaker, I hear the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre talking - not in his seat, but in another seat - about corporate responsibility and corporate labour and corporate accountability. I want to tell that member and all members that I know a little bit about corporate responsibility. As the brother-in-law of a family member who passed away as the result of a workplace accident, I know very well, first-hand the negative consequences when a person in your family doesn't come home from work. I know very much corporate accountability. But I would say, I know as well that this government has gone a long way . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired. Time has expired on debate on Bill No. 52.

The honourable NDP House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 66.

Bill No. 66 - Forests Act.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to have this opportunity. This is a continuation of the debate that took place in 2001 on this legislation, but it is as important today as it was last year and the year before, and as it will be two years from now, as well, and for generations if we do not address the fact that our harvesting processes with regard to forests are unsustainable. We are cutting hardwood and softwood from our forests in Nova Scotia at an incredible rate, a rate that I would suggest is not sustainable, and it is primarily because of the clear-cutting that we do.

What we need is a plan and this is what this legislation does, I would suggest, Mr. Speaker. It is a plan to try to ensure that we reflect on the fact that our forested areas in this province, our woodlands, are more than just something that can be used for purposes of harvesting wood. That is a key component. There are many people in this province who earn an income through that and we want that to continue; but there are other means of providing income through our woodlands, whether that's tourism or ecotourism. There are different things that can be done to ensure . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Value-added.

[Page 9855]

MR. DEVEAUX: Value-added, of course. Anything we can do to ensure that we're creating jobs through our wood, whether it's building furniture or other forms of value-added, Mr. Speaker. Those are the things that must be done, yet we aren't doing them. But we continue to cut and export and use our wood at such a fast rate that we cannot sustain it. This is the problem that we face and the one that we must address.

Now I just want a couple of statistics, if I can note them, Mr. Speaker. We are cutting 6 million cubic metres of wood per year. I think that's 5.4 million cubic metres of softwood and 653,000 cubic metres of hardwood, at least that's based on 1996-2000 averages. That's an annual basis. Now maybe for those who aren't into metric, I will put that into other terms. That's 3 million cords of wood a year, or at 30 cords per acre, that is 100,000 acres of wood that are being clear-cut and removed from our forests on an annual basis. That's not sustainable. That's not something that we can continue to do.

Mr. Speaker, that's why we need legislation like Bill No. 66, which helps address it and ensures that we are building a long-term plan and a sustainable forest, not only for us and our children and grandchildren, but for the tourists who may want to come here and visit and for those who want to continue, that we have harvesting practices that will not only be for them. There are many people in our province who earn an income from harvesting wood. We don't want to stop that. We want to ensure that it's there for their children, if they want to work in those circumstances and their grandchildren. That's why it's so important.

I want to suggest that, again, there may be those unusual circumstances where clear-cutting is necessary, whether it's a diseased stand of wood that maybe needs to be dealt with - this legislation addresses that as well. All those are possible. But if we allow clear-cutting to be the predominant means of removing and harvesting wood from our forests, Mr. Speaker, we cannot sustain that. Anyone who drives around this province - I had an opportunity to drive to Yarmouth yesterday and on my way down through the South Shore, all you have to do is just turn your head quickly as you're looking around on the road and you can see acres and acres and hills and hills of woods that have just been clear-cut.

It used to be a good mix of wood, Mr. Speaker. It used to be the hardwood. It used to be various forms of softwood, and now what we have are these things being replaced with, I think it's called monoculture, where we have one type of tree that's replaced and the seeds of those trees are spread throughout those areas, so we don't have a mixed forest and the habitat that comes with a mixed forest, what we would have instead is a monoculture forest of one tree, a pine or a spruce, a fir that then, potentially, creates more disease.

Mr. Speaker, all these are reasons why we must stop clear-cutting. It cannot be our primary form of wood harvesting, and that is why we must continue to talk about this. That is what Bill No. 66 is about. It's not just us talking about it, those in the tourism industry. If I can see it when I look around, driving around this province, imagine the tourists who come here as well. They notice it. We're not that big a province. We're not the size of Ontario or

[Page 9856]

Quebec, where you can cut vast amounts of trees in areas where no one will see them, we are a province where our roads are everywhere, and the woodlands of our province are accessible and visible. If we do not stop the clear-cutting, it is going to have an impact on other industries, like tourism.

Mr. Speaker, that is why we must continue to talk about alternatives. There are alternatives. Selective cutting. We know the history, many of us, of the small woodlot owners in this province, and whether or not they have the ability to ensure that they want a selective cut. It's the role of government to first recognize that clear-cutting can't be the answer, then we can begin to talk about, with small woodlot owners, with the industries, whether they be sawmill owners or whether they be pulp and paper corporations, what we can do to ensure that through selective cutting we will have a sufficient amount of wood being cut to meet the needs of our industry, meet the needs of our workers, while at the same time ensuring that we are going to have woodlands that are going to be around for a very long time. Those are the things that we need to talk about. That's what we need to talk about.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, 100,000 acres a year is not sustainable. I don't know if there are people out there who actually believe that is. I will be curious if any other members get up to continue debate on this legislation, but it's clear to me that 100,000 acres a year is not sustainable in a province the size of Nova Scotia. If we are going to be able to say that we are going to continue to build a long-term forest policy in this province, one that reflects the fact that we have many small woodlot owners, and in many cases - this is the irony, Mr. Speaker, only 100 years ago, even 50 years ago, many people in this province in rural areas were able to have a sustainable living in fishing and in forestry. They might have a boat, a Cape Islander that they use to fish in certain seasons. That was sustainable.

We had a sustainable fishery when it was just our men and women going out and fishing in their small boats, inshore fishery. With that inshore fishery, they were able to have a sustainable fishery. Then at the same time, they would go in the woods with their saw or, more recently, with a power saw, and they could do a fair bit of cutting that would then allow them to be able to maintain a living there as well. That was a rural way of life that provided a living and a foundation for our families and our communities in Nova Scotia.

Now, let's see what happened with the fisheries. Some people got greedy, and they came out and said, we need bigger boats, we need more ability to go out there and scoop up more fish. What we saw was the devastation not only of our cod, we heard recently of the shrimp quotas going down because the number of shrimp being reduced. Fish after fish, seafood after seafood being dropped and reduced in quantity because we over-fished.

At the same time, Mr. Speaker, we have not learned that lesson. It's only 10, 12, 13, 14 years ago that we saw that this was happening to our fishery, and we're still paying the price, the devastation in our communities, our communities along the shore because of what we did to the fishery. And yet, we are going to do the exact same thing to our forests, and no

[Page 9857]

one seems to be willing to say anything about it in this government. They seem to think clear-cutting is okay. Many - not many, a few - of the members over there, including the Government House Leader remember when the fishery was being destroyed in the 1980s, when we bailed out major corporations so they could continue to destroy our fishery.

Mr. Speaker, that was wrong. Now they have another opportunity to make sure the same thing doesn't happen to our forest industry, to make sure that we're not going to clear-cut and remove and bring in bigger and bigger harvesters and machines like we did with bigger and bigger trawlers, so we can more quickly destroy our forests the way we did our fishery. It can't be done; it must be stopped. We must recognize that our forests are more than just for cutting wood, for pulp and paper. That is a key component, don't get me wrong, but there are other things that can be done as well, the tourism industry, recreational industry, these things can and will be an effective means of ensuring a multi-use, multi-purpose woodland, and forests, in our province.

[4:45 p.m.]

Yet, if we do nothing, if we do not allow Bill No. 66 to go forward, we are recognizing and those who vote against it are recognizing or those who try to stall it and prevent it from being voted on, Mr. Speaker, are saying that they do not care about our forests. They think clear-cutting is acceptable; just like the fishery, they will allow our forests to go that way, and this is the irony, most of the members over there come from rural Nova Scotia. I can look across the benches - Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Eastern Shore, Pictou West, Annapolis, Queens County. These are places where the vast majority of the people rely on the fishing industry, that was destroyed; they rely on the forest industry, that is being destroyed. Yet they aren't willing to stand up and ensure that this gets passed to preserve the living of their own constituents. Maybe it won't be tomorrow, maybe it won't be next week, but if legislation like Bill No. 66 isn't passed we are going to have some serious problems in the future. So I encourage those, please, let's end the debate and let's have a vote on this legislation.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to commend the member for Hants East for, I trust, educating the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage a little bit about our forest industry in Nova Scotia. I'm very pleased to say that in the people's riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, we very much depend on the forest industry. In Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley we have eight sawmills operating and those sawmills are employing hundreds of Nova Scotians.

You know, Mr. Speaker, it's fine for the NDP to get on their pins in here and say, oh, look, I will take the moral high ground, we will take the moral high ground, we will slam industry, we will slam those corporations that are making the payroll taxes that keep this

[Page 9858]

province rolling. Yes, they would like to see some of the industry in Nova Scotia not sustained so they could live up to some of those platitudes and artificial principles that they stand on, because those artificial principles will not stand up to scrutiny.

Now, let's look at some of the NDP propaganda that was attached to this piece of legislation, Bill No. 66, the Private Members' Bill. The member for Hants East indicated that first and foremost we must recognize that right now in this province almost 99 per cent of forest harvesting is done by clear-cutting. The fact of the matter is, yes, most forest harvesting in Nova Scotia is done by clear-cutting, but I would ask the honourable member to table for this House and for all Nova Scotians, especially those employers, those good men and women who are employing hundreds of Nova Scotians, where he came up with the figure of 99 per cent, because 99 per cent does not stand up to scrutiny, although I do agree that most of the harvesting is being done by clear-cutting.

Mr. Speaker, this government has effected positive change towards sustainable management of our forest industry and, in fact, all the woodlands in Nova Scotia. This government put its money where its mouth was and established the wood buyer registry. Did the NDP get up and commend the Minister of Natural Resources and this government for doing that and does the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage know - I know the member for Hants East does - that wood buyers have to register, it's documented and we have insisted that buyers provide the government, the Minister of Natural Resources and the Department of Natural Resources with good solid information regarding the wood buyer registry. I know the previous administration talked about the wood buyer registration. They talked the talk, yes, and they talked about a lot of things, but nonetheless I believe they were very interested and probably committed to establishing a wood buyer registry, but the fact of the matter is that this government effected the positive change necessary to put that component into sustainable forestry and we did it. We did it.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I just want to inform the honourable member that the information he's looking for, I don't have it with me, but I will see that the House gets it and encourage him to get this information from the Department of Natural Resources, which I think will answer some of his questions as well.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order, but I certainly thank the honourable member for the information. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley has the floor.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, rural Nova Scotia, and this government, is very committed to sustainable forestry practices. I will table this document. I tabled it during the discussion, I believe it was back in 1999, no pardon me, 1998, regarding the 31 wilderness area protected spaces.

[Page 9859]

The forest inventory and global warming. This document was provided to me by the Wood Products Manufacturers' Association, I think most members would agree that they are a very legitimate Nova Scotia association. "The Forest Inventory and Global Warming: To reduce the impact of our forests on global warming, the Association believes that representative areas of completely untouchable areas with old growth forest should be kept relatively small. Here's the reason. If Nova Scotia has healthy forests, it has a healthy environment. Forests are oxygen factories. To grow a pound of wood, a tree uses 1.5 pounds of carbon dioxide and it gives off 1.1 pounds of oxygen. Young and middle-aged trees not only produce large quantities of wood, they help to combat global warming by using a lot of carbon dioxide." (Interruptions)

No, but the NDP believes that great mature stands of timber should fall and decay and the fact of the matter is, as trees get older, they grow very little and begin to decay. The decay process uses oxygen, creates carbon dioxide. One of the main causes of global warming is the fact that we have a lot of carbon dioxide. Mr. Speaker, I will table the document right here. And that's the NDP, they take the moral high ground and they don't like it when you can refute their concerns with documents. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. We're going to plow some new ground. Order, please. We're going to plow some new ground here today. The honourable member for Eastern Shore on a point of order.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley if he would entertain a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Would the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley entertain a question from his seatmate?

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, I would entertain a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Eastern Shore has the floor.

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's very clear, my stand on this issue. I would like to ask the member, I hear him standing up here and reading a lot of documentation, going on and going on and going on, but my question is very clear here today. Does he believe, not the government, but does he believe, as the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, of industry at any cost? That is the question.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate those questions from members opposite, but I think I would like to state for the record that this government, through the efforts of two former governments, established an IRM process. This is the best way I can answer this question. This government and, of course, when we were in Opposition, in co-operation with

[Page 9860]

the Liberal Government, established an integrated resource management process where all the stakeholders came together and the fact of the matter is that Nova Scotia is designated into three categories, as far as the forests are considered. The honourable member for Hants East knows that and the former minister should know that.

We have an integrated resource management process where big corporations, pardon me, the people that pay the taxes in this province, these employers and their employees, pay a lot of taxes, but they just can't go out and grab the saws and the processors and the feller-bunchers and just start cutting. (Interruptions) See Mr. Speaker? He was talking about how ignorant people are, that's how ignorant the Leader of the Opposition is. He doesn't know that before a harvester can go in and cut on a piece of Crown land - so the Party that has taken the moral high ground now wants to impose different limitations and restrictions on private land. Well, why don't you get up and say that? Why didn't you get up and say that you want to impose restriction on private landowners across Nova Scotia? Oh (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The member has raised a good point, but I think what I said earlier was that we need to work with the small woodlot owners to find incentives to ensure that selective cutting is used in the 75 per cent of the land that is small woodlot owned.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It is not a point of order, but it is a clarification of the facts on behalf of the honourable member. I will give the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley an opportunity to respond to that. You have about 25 seconds.

MR. TAYLOR: I would just like to tell all members and remind all members, including my colleague, the member for Eastern Shore, that it was this government that established, on January 11, 2002, wildlife habitat and watercourse regulations. You know that we have a setback of 20 metres from any watercourse. It was this government that effected that positive change. So, Mr. Speaker, let's not forget the industry . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Unfortunately, the honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise today to talk about Bill No. 66. I note with interest that we have, to some degree, one extreme and the other. Even when we talk about the other extreme being the member speaking from beautiful downtown Musquodoboit Valley and his colleague beside him in a debate, whether or not they even agree on the position they've taken, it's clear to say that the member who just finished speaking is saying that cutting at all costs, you know, just do whatever you want to do. I think

[Page 9861]

there's a balance here. There's a balance in regard to the issue of the future of the forests of Nova Scotia.

I want to say at the outset that sustainability of our forests has to be a major priority, not only of this House, not only of the current government, but of all society. If we don't have sustainability of the forests of the Province of Nova Scotia we are going to have a serious environmental problem in this province. We have used the analogy, we've seen what's happened in the fishery. We cannot allow that to happen in the forests in the Province of Nova Scotia. I also acknowledge the fact that we have young people here today who are concerned about environmental sustainability in the Province of Nova Scotia. They are worried about making sure that what we do and the policies that we bring forward in fact are sustainable for future generations.

That is why when we were in government, I had the pleasure and honour when I was Minister of Natural Resources, to bring in the Wilderness Act - at that time called, the parks and protected areas system plan - where we set aside some 31 sites throughout Nova Scotia highlighting the different landscapes we have in this province and later, as Minister of Environment of this province, being able to bring in the bill that was then called the Wilderness Act and have it proclaimed in this House while in power. I might say that we didn't always have the support of the previous speaker with regard to supporting that particular bill. What we were able to do was set aside a large amount of Crown land as a percentage of the Crown land, set aside in perpetuity for our future generations to be able to enjoy and to be able to walk through and realize how spectacular and how beautiful this province is. It's not going to be cut. It's not going to be clear-cut. It's not going to be paved and it's not going to be put under construction. It's there in perpetuity for us and the generations to come to enjoy. It's also an environmental protection, in regard to the previous speaker talking about the importance of trees and how they are the filter for us to be able to sustain ourselves as human beings.

The member opposite also talked about the IRM and I believe I was minister when we brought in the IRM Program and the Integrated Resource Management Program is a program where we talk about before we harvest. We bring in the concerns of the community and we find solutions that we will talk about sustainability, not only of the forests, but sustainability of wildlife in the Province of Nova Scotia. We take into account the economic opportunities, but we also take into account the opportunities from an environmental point of view. We talk about the fact that we need to develop plans in regard to the forest practices in the Province of Nova Scotia.

The issue of clear-cutting leaves an image in people's minds, sometimes a very bad, ugly image in our forests in the Province of Nova Scotia. For that, nobody in this House would agree with. But at the same time, there's methods of harvesting in the province that we need to start embellishing and embracing. For example, on our forests, if we as a community are properly managing our forests and dealing with pre-commercial thinning and

[Page 9862]

things of that nature we will have long-term sustainability of our forests, if we as a province and as a community are prepared to deal with the issue of reforestation.

[5:00 p.m.]

Now, I happen to live in Lunenburg County, in the western part of the province, that has a natural regeneration of approximately 75 per cent, and we are thankful for that but not all areas of this province have that. What we need to start doing is talking about reforestation in the Province of Nova Scotia, and at the current rate of harvesting it's a matter of not just planting one tree for every tree we take down, it's a matter of planting maybe two or three trees for every tree we bring down.

You know we can talk here about this bill being the only answer - just no more clear-cut. Well, we have forests in this province that are not what you would call old-growth forests. In fact, we have very little old-growth forest in this province and that is a sin and, in fact, I believe some of these old-growth forests shouldn't be harvested. Some of those old-growth forests are historically and environmentally very important to us from a number of different perspectives, but you know forests that are maybe 80 years old and have never been managed properly are a problem because those trees will never grow. They will never grow beyond a certain size because of the fact that they're so tightly grown together. They just haven't been managed properly.

So sometimes it's important, we have to go in and take a look at some of those practices that have been used in other areas. Let's take one area that is known and revered around the world as a sustainable country, and that is Sweden, when it comes to forest practices. Sweden has a number of methods of practices that are not (Interruption) Well, the expert is over here, the forest expert of the world over here, the lawyer from downtown Halifax has all the answers, but let's take a look at some of the practices that are done around the world and see what happens.

Sweden has been using sustainable forestry practices for probably close to three decades now. Some of those practices we might agree with, some we might not, but generally speaking in the forestry community and in some of the environmental groups that I've talked to, Sweden has been to some degree a template that many jurisdictions should be seriously looking at. Another area that we talk about, and when I talked about controlling of the private woodlot lands, and the member who spoke earlier about Crown land, well 25 per cent of the land in the province is Crown. Under our administration, there is about 50 per cent of that land - and previous administrations - either under our parks or under protected areas, plans, or wilderness Acts in the Province of Nova Scotia. That's about 50 per cent of the Crown land that currently exists in the province is being used for, you know like Risser's Park, things of that nature.

AN HON. MEMBER: A nice place.

[Page 9863]

MR. DOWNE: It's a beautiful spot and the issues of protected areas that are not allowing for the forest productions to take place.

When you compare that to the rest of the country, we have led the nation as a percentage of Crown land, principally because most jurisdictions have 75 per cent to 95 per cent of the land that is Crown, but we only have 25 per cent. So herein lies the challenge and the opportunity - 75 per cent of the land in the Province of Nova Scotia is privately controlled, and what we need to start doing, as the previous speaker talked about, is start to build on how we can get a consensus and a program in place that will provide long-term sustainability so that the young people in the audience here today, in the west gallery, can feel and understand that the future of the forests in Nova Scotia shouldn't be necessarily . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. I apologize for interrupting the member for Lunenburg West. I want to just respond to something the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley had mentioned earlier. This bill, I want to be clear to people in this province, this bill will impact small private woodlot owners, it will impact large industrial and it will impact Crown. This bill is designed to ban clear-cutting - and only if it's deemed to be an appropriate treatment. So let there be no grey area. So the people here and members opposite, the honourable member who just sat down would know, as being a former minister and under his watch the forests of Nova Scotia were not protected. If we're going to sustain an industry in this province we're going to have to ban clear-cutting as the major harvesting practice and this will impact small private woodlot owners. I want to be clear about that. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Well it's not a point of order. It is certainly a clarification and I think it's probably appreciated by some.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West has about half a minute.

MR. DOWNE: The other issue, Mr. Speaker, is in regard to working with industry and trying to find solutions. Maybe the approach of the NDP will be a dictatorial form of legislation. I happen to believe that what we need to start doing is involving our young people, involving the environmental groups, involving the forestry industry and the private woodlot owners and the government to find solutions. In fact, that's exactly what I did when I was minister and that's exactly why we have some of the programs . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allocated for debate on Bill No. 66 has expired.

The honourable NDP House Leader.

[Page 9864]

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable NDP House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you call Resolution No. 3679.

Res. No. 3679 - Seniors: Concerns/Needs - Address - notice given May 6/02 - (Mr. D. Dexter)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to speak to this resolution that was introduced by my colleague, the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour and Leader of the Opposition. This resolution says:

"Whereas this government has presided over rising Pharmacare premiums, and shortages of and increased costs for in-home support and care facilities for seniors; and

Whereas the proof of the pudding is in the eating, and then seniors know their voices aren't being heard by the Hamm Government; and

Whereas this discontent is such that the Federation of Senior Citizens and Pensioners of Nova Scotia has gone so far as to call upon this government to appoint a minister to deal exclusively with seniors' issues;

Therefore be it resolved that this government heed the call of seniors to devote more resources to hearing their concerns and design programs that address their needs in an adequate and rational manner."

So, Mr. Speaker, this is the resolution that we have in front of us at this time and a very important resolution and one that certainly is of keen interest to the seniors in our province and, I dare say, to those individuals who aren't seniors yet, but who understand the value of this group of people in our society and have a great deal of affection and respect for the contribution that seniors have made to our province. I specifically want to use my limited time to talk about a meeting that occurred in my constituency last night, at Northwood, sponsored by the Northwood Family Council, that looked at the future of long-term care and looked at the current government's policies with respect to long-term care.

[Page 9865]

Mr. Speaker, you will know that earlier, in Question Period, I had an opportunity to ask questions of the Minister of Health about this government's policy with respect to long-term care. I want to just say momentarily here on the record that the minister should be ashamed of himself in terms of how he responded to those questions. He indicated that people have their hands out, that senior citizens looking for a fair deal in terms of this government's policy on long-term care are simply looking for handouts from the government. If there is any group of people in this province who cannot be accused of having their hands out for government largesse, it is seniors and he should apologize to them straight away. These are people who have worked very hard all their lives. As one gentleman said last night, in fact, he and his wife all their lives worked very hard. They were encouraged by governments of the day at all levels to invest, to save. They did that. They scrimped, they saved, they worked hard and now they're in a situation where they are being told that they have to liquidate all of their assets in order to have nursing home care for this gentleman's wife in a long-term care facility.

Mr. Speaker, the last thing that they can be accused of is wanting to get handouts from government. They just want the fair deal that they see other senior citizens in other provinces get. We're one of the few provinces in the country that the health care component of long-term care is not covered by the government, it is a situation where seniors are assessed, their property outside of the family home - and let's be clear, when we talk about the family home, we're often talking about the house and the house alone, but the surrounding property, if there's a small mixed farm with a barn and a shed or a woodlot, those aspects of the property are often not considered the family home and increasingly are being required to liquidate those assets in order to provide for the care of their families.

Mr. Speaker, last night, on the panel at Northwood, where a number of very knowledgeable people who presented different aspects of the situation - Bill Lahey, who is a professor at Dalhousie Law School, teaching health law, still I believe on contract with the Department of Health, and a former assistant deputy minister, gave an overview of the Canada Health Act; Dean Hirtle from the Department of Health gave an overview of the policy of the current government; and a lawyer from Boyne Clarke, Mr. Lawrence Graham, QC - I believe his name is - who represents many families and has represented many families with respect to their assessments gave a very interesting presentation.

What Mr. Graham said was that in 1998 the policy in the Province of Nova Scotia changed quite dramatically without any change in legislation. What actually occurred was there was a service exchange between municipalities and the Province of Nova Scotia, and that prior to 1998 the funding for long-term care, really, was a municipal responsibility under the Social Assistance Act. With this service exchange, the province assumed responsibility for the provisions of social services, including long-term care, but they did not repeal the Social Assistance Act.

[Page 9866]

The Social Assistance Act and the provisions in this Act are still in place, but they're not the policies that are being applied when individuals are being assessed and dollar amounts are being determined in terms of how much a person has to pay for care. In fact, what has happened is that the Department of Health has developed its own policy manual, and this came into effect April 1, 1998, under the former Liberal Government - no debate in the Legislature, no opportunity for public input or consultation.

All of a sudden where, previously, people in Nova Scotia, families and spouses with a loved one going into a long-term care facility would have been charged maybe $400 or $500 a month, all of a sudden people in Nova Scotia are being charged thousands and thousands and thousands of dollars every month. Half of the matrimonial property and assets and income is being applied to the cost of long-term care. In the Province of Nova Scotia, that's roughly anywhere between $4,000 and $5,000 a month.

[5:15 p.m.]

I had one of my constituents come to see me last week, I went to see him, actually, in his home. His wife is in a nursing home paying $140 daily; monthly, approximately $4,300. They've been assessed and they are required to pay $73,000 over a two-year period toward the cost of her care. They have to liquidate many of their assets. These are two people who worked very hard all their lives. They were frugal, they saved, they invested. When he was assessed for how much of their income and assets would be applied against their care, such factors were taken into account as the fact that he was driving a 1992 Camry. Now, come on, you can't really imagine that this gentleman should have to liquidate his vehicle. He's in his early 70s, he's not going to be standing out waiting for a bus, he needs this vehicle to get around. He had to appeal that assessment in front of the Social Assistance Appeal Board and he was given some degree of latitude when he did that; however he and his wife still have to contribute this astronomical amount of money toward their care.

Last night many people talked about their frustration and their anger around the assessment tool and the government's policy. We were told by officials from the Department of Health that the amount of long-term care that is actually being paid for by families and by people who are in care in this way is now $90 million annually out of the total cost of the long-term care budget which is $197 million. So almost 50 per cent of the actual long-term care program in this province is being borne by this group, actually a relatively small group of individuals, and this is not a fair situation.

As an administrator from one of the long-term care facilities said last night, this is a social justice issue. This is an issue where an unfair burden is being placed on a particular group of seniors and we really need to see some change and see some willingness on the part of government to seriously look at this issue and address this issue. I have to say, it was very disappointing to me, and in fact shocking to me to hear the manner in which the Minister of Health responded to my questions today, very serious questions asked on behalf of those 300

[Page 9867]

people who came out last night to attend this meeting. Many of these people are people who are actively involved in senior citizens' organizations and various church organizations and service clubs, and they deserve much more respectful consideration of their concerns, which I know and every member in this House knows are concerns that seniors have from one end of this province to the other.

I dare say there's probably not a member in this House who hasn't been approached by some constituent in this situation who is looking at bills that are astronomical that will leave the community dwelling spouse in these situations at peril. As a researcher from Dalhousie who has looked at these issues last night talked about, we really need to address the seriousness of the inequity and the unfairness of the current government's policy, and the former government's policy, with respect to long-term care. I will now take my place, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: I'm glad to rise to speak to this point and to the issue of care for seniors in this province. I want to begin by making just a few comments on the larger picture, because it's interesting the position that seniors are taking across Canada. Some time ago I remember hearing that tax policies had caused a transfer of wealth and a transfer of income to seniors, but that isn't how they seem to be feeling these days with the rise of the Grey Parties.

I listened to a very interesting interview on CBC by the founder of the Grey Party in New Brunswick talking about some of the issues that he saw as being important for governments to listen to. I remember at that time when he mentioned the Grey Parties across Canada, in the various provinces, that there wasn't one in Nova Scotia. I was pleased with that, because hopefully that's a sign that seniors feel that we're listening to them. They may not be happy with everything, of course, as every group in the province, not all of their total needs are met, but hopefully they feel that they're being listened to and have a listening ear with this government.

I want to showcase some of the services this government offers to seniors. There are quite a few of them. I'm just going to mention a few and then turn it over to my honourable colleague, the member for Kings South, to mention some more, but the obvious starting point, of course, is the Senior Citizens' Secretariat which is an agency of government. The Minister of Health is the Chair of that Senior Citizens' Secretariat and a good Chair at that, Mr. Speaker. I don't want to give away any secrets because he's very young looking, but he's starting to approach that age himself and so has a vested interest in making sure that seniors are looked after and, in fact, the Senior Citizens' Secretariat has been such a successful program that it has been copied by other provinces across Canada that are pleased with the model that we've started here in the Province of Nova Scotia.

[Page 9868]

The staff of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, Mr. Speaker, provides seniors with one point of entry to the government so that we can respond directly to senior citizens' concerns, and the issues that they raise. The mandate of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat is to facilitate the development of services and programs for seniors by coordinating the seniors' initiatives of government departments, number one, and, number two, developing plans, policies and programs for and with seniors in partnership with government.

So a lot of their time, obviously, in fulfilling their mandate is spent just doing what this resolution is speaking on and that's listening to seniors and helping government find answers that would meet the concerns that are brought forward by the seniors. The seniors, I think, know that their voice is being heard by this government. There are issues, of course, that they have, but they feel they're being listened to and heard in many ways, and not just by the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, and I want to mention, just to put on the record, that in April alone, the toll-free line, 1-800-670-0065, Mr. Speaker, this service for seniors, took 350 calls. All the MLAs' offices as well, I know, not only on this side of the House, but on all sides of the House, listen to and hear the concerns of many seniors and pass them on.

I have many seniors on my executive and many seniors in my riding who come and speak to me about various issues that range from accommodation to garbage removal, to Pharmacare, to many other different programs. So through the MLAs and through the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, seniors are being listened to.

I just want to let you know, in case you're unaware of this, that the Group of Nine, which is a group that represents the nine largest seniors' organizations in this province and most of those are affiliated with national seniors' groups as well, that this Group of Nine meets monthly, not just once a year, not just twice a year, not just even four times a year, Mr. Speaker, but it meets monthly with the Senior Citizens' Secretariat staff in order to share the concerns that their members have and the issues that seniors have in this province. This group has made recommendations through the Senior Citizens' Secretariat staff on issues such as Pharmacare and on issues such as the single entry access. The Secretariat is open to hearing these and passes on their comments to the various departments that the comments are applicable to.

Twice a year the Group of Nine and 30 other seniors' groups have a full-day meeting. So a larger grouping beyond this Group of Nine, 30 other seniors' groups across the province, have a full-day meeting, Mr. Speaker, where an extended agenda allows for considerable sharing of information and of concerns and issues. The Secretariat's Chair, I understand, always attends these meetings as do staff from many of the government departments so that the issues of seniors can be heard. So, clearly seniors' voices are being heard and are being listened to and there are opportunities for them to speak.

[Page 9869]

I want to speak now for just a moment about some of the initiatives in the Department of Health responding to seniors' concerns. One of them is the comprehensive safety net for medical emergencies that we have in this province - thanks to the Emergency Health Services. In the past we had inconsistencies of service. I know in my particular area, the ambulance service is very, very good, but in other areas it wasn't as good and now there's a more uniform service for ambulances across the province. I want to credit the previous government for a lot of work in this regard, but what this does is it gives seniors, wherever they are in the province, Mr. Speaker, some measure of comfort to know that they will receive proper emergency care and that the level of emergency care is relatively consistent across the province.

The proof of the pudding, of course, is not just me talking that there's this sort of level of emergency care that's consistent in the province, it's in the results and one of the results is that the number of people surviving cardiac arrest, and that would include many seniors, has increased across the province, and this is directly related to improvements in emergency medical services. For example, there are defibrillators now in every ambulance in the province. The province's air ambulance service that complements the ground ambulance service takes some of our most critically ill - and many of these, again, are seniors - to specialized care in Halifax faster than was ever possible before.

Then there's a unique paramedic program - because I think one of the things that this government is trying to do is to bring care for seniors and their issues so that they don't have to move out of their rural settings, and I support that wholly as a rural member. One of the unique projects is the paramedic project on Long and Brier Islands. I understand that more than half of the population in that area are seniors. They are now able to receive a level of primary care services from the paramedics based in that area. This is model of primary health care. I'm just speaking of one aspect of what this government is doing for seniors that we would like to see expanded elsewhere in the province, so that seniors who live in rural areas that are further away from some of the larger regional hospitals will receive good quality health care.

Another example of some initiatives in this regard that will hopefully be of use to seniors in these rural areas are the nurse practitioners and the four primary care demonstration sites in the province. It's interesting, I heard on the news today that New Brunswick is moving in this direction. We've already moved in this direction with these four primary care demonstration sites with nurse practitioners.

There are many things we're doing in primary health care which will be helpful to seniors, and particularly helpful to seniors who live in rural areas, such as much of the area that I represent as a member here. Speaking about health care, I can mention the expanded influenza campaign that's been of help to so many seniors, helping them not to come down with the illness of influenza. Many more seniors now than previously are getting their flu

[Page 9870]

shots, and many more health care workers are choosing to be immunized as well. The results are obvious for everyone to see - fewer elderly Nova Scotians affected by this illness.

We're talking about many different things that seniors are interested in, in terms of health care. We haven't met all their concerns but we've met some of them. One thing that the seniors groups mentioned to the Senior Citizens' Secretariat time and time again is the single-entry access program. This is a program that will give one phone number for seniors looking for home care and for long-term care and for various means of care, they have one point of entry. Previously, it was many different numbers they would have to phone, very difficult for them at times to find the appropriate level of care, to make sure the bed was there for them. The single-entry access program, I think, will be of real value to seniors.

They only have to call one toll-free number, 1-800-225-7225, and they will receive one-point entry into the access they need, be it home care, nursing care placement or help for a vulnerable adult. This is one thing that seniors have mentioned is a problem, and one thing that this government has listened to and helped them with.

Another issue, of course, is long-term care beds. This government has made continuing care its number one priority in the Department of Health. Continuing care encompasses home care, long-term care and services for vulnerable adults. The budget for long-term care in Nova Scotia alone is $204.4 million this year, which is an increase of almost $30 million over last year's budget. More than $16 million of these dollars will go to improving the living environment for nursing home residents through capital improvements, upgraded accommodations and increased money for daily operating costs.

Mr. Speaker, in my district, I'm very fortunate, because in District 3, where we've had a lot of concern about the level of health care, when you look at the total health care spending in that district, although there may be some concerns about acute care beds and the number of acute care beds, nonetheless in terms of long-term care we are well served in District 3. Evergreen Home, for example, in Kentville, in my riding, is an excellent facility that presents excellent care for seniors. It's recently had an expansion. I had the privilege of being at Evergreen Home for the expansion and had a chance to tour that facility and was very, very pleased with what I saw there. So in spite of some of the problems we've had in District 3 - and I've certainly been supporting more funding for District 3, or fairer funding for District 3 - in terms of long-term care, we're doing well and long-term care is an area that seniors benefit from. Now I have a few minutes left and I know that the honourable member for Kings South just wants to say a few words about some other projects we've done, particularly in health.

[Page 9871]

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour has approximately one minute.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to say that this morning a number of MLAs took the invitation for the Nova Scotia Pharmacy Society to go to a breakfast. It was great to have a chance to speak with some of those front-line health care professionals. While I had that opportunity to be in their company, I took that opportunity to ask them about the workings of Pharmacare and whether they felt it was indeed serving our seniors. While they did make some mention about access to the formulary and ways of streamlining this, basically they felt, by and large, that it was a good program.

Just very briefly, Mr. Speaker, I would like to point out that in Newfoundland, not everybody has Pharmacare. There it's only the low income seniors. In New Brunswick, the basic premium is $1,068.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, it's an obvious pleasure for me to rise in my place to address the issues contained within Resolution No. 3679. There was no question, there is a disillusion with seniors and this government that has been constantly and consistently growing since 1999. We don't have to go too far back in time. In fact, 1999 is as far as we have to go to see how important seniors were to this government then. In fact, seniors were so important in 1999 that they merited a separate section in the famous blue book.

Let me quote you the opening preamble in the blue book. "Our seniors are those members of our community who have contributed to making our Nova Scotian society the wonderful place it is and who now have a right to live their remaining years in comfort, security and with the best possible health and quality of life." The document continues, Mr. Speaker. "Seniors continue to make a tremendous contribution to our province by constantly making themselves available to government in setting its priorities and policies."

I'm almost certain, Mr. Speaker, that on many occasions various seniors' organizations have made themselves available to government and I suspect that there may have been a meeting or two in the past. The big question is, was and is the government listening? That's the question. I can think of no group of seniors in this province who have the ear of five different ministers through the Senior Citizens' Secretariat. The question is, is the process working? Should there be seniors out there expressing concerns about not being heard, like we have heard recently? Government has the responsibility to ensure that

[Page 9872]

the Secretariat is working effectively and is plugging into all seniors groups. It may be that they are, Mr. Speaker. It may be that the Senior Citizens' Secretariat is functioning. If this is the case, then the situation for seniors is even worse. We have five ministers listening to what seniors have to say, but not willing to entertain putting some of the seniors' thoughts into concrete actions.

Mr. Speaker, one issue that I know is of great concern is the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. I recall this issue very clearly as I was not a member of this House in 1999; however, I recall visiting here in the gallery during 1999 when the government, who at that time were on this side of the House, pounded and hammered my colleagues, today, to remove the premium with regard to the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. Well, what has been this government's track record to date on Seniors' Pharmacare? Twice, twice they have made changes and twice these changes have impacted on the pocketbooks of seniors. They have increased the premium by $121. In addition, they have increased the co-pay by $150. While all of us are not aware of the fine-line financial details of why this government made their decision, we do know that when you commit to a position publicly, there is an expectation that you honour that commitment. If you are unable to do so, it is the onus of the government to do the best they can to explain why.

While seniors have seen health care costs increase to almost $2 billion, with increased wait times and deteriorating services, they deserve to have a government that will properly manage the health care needs of seniors in this province. While seniors generally don't object to paying their fair share, they certainly don't like to see excessive money being spent on services they view as getting worse and worse.

Another area that has seniors frustrated and confused, Mr. Speaker, is the area of long-term care. If there was ever an area that a government has abandoned seniors and threatened their quality of life, this is the area. The Minister of Health likes to stand up and boast about a single-entry access system which, when it is working properly, should be an excellent system. The fears, confusion and apprehension that seniors face is that this government has failed to explain the process to seniors. On October 1, 2001, Joan Lay of Canadian Pensioners Concerned, on the topic of financial assessments on seniors entering nursing homes stated, "It's very disconcerting to many seniors, because it hasn't been adequately explained by the Government" - she says - "this is a very crucial time in a senior's life and in the lives of their relatives." The question that has to be posed is, why hadn't the government explained the process of single-entry access and the financial assessment?

To add insult to injury, last year seniors were waiting in hospital beds while the province went through the financial assessment, further increasing waiting times for acute care beds and creating challenges for nursing homes because they had no one occupying nursing home beds. To add insult to injury, what did the government do? I will tell you, Mr. Speaker, they charged seniors $50 a day for occupying an acute care bed while waiting for a nursing home bed.

[Page 9873]

So here we have a situation where the government had such a complete disrespect for seniors that they charged seniors for their own tardiness. No wonder seniors have expressed frustrations. It wasn't until we brought this issue to the attention of the government that things changed so that seniors were placed in a nursing home bed and then the financial assessment was completed.

Then we heard of the retroactive per diem rates received by seniors in 2001 that were effective in April 2000. For some seniors this meant a surprise bill of $1,000. From our understanding, the reason for this was the government's tardiness in approving nursing home budgets. This left all parties, the board of directors of nursing homes, as well as the residents, being responsible for government's inaction. Other areas that have frustrated seniors are reductions in in-home support programs, for instance, Mr. Speaker; increased insurance rates, which so far this government has shown that they would be more content to once again stick their heads in the sand and do nothing at all about the issue.

While they do like to boast, Mr. Speaker, that the URB will be examining this issue, the fact of the matter is, they can only rule that they are fair or unfair. They can't do anything to address the issue. This is why the government should be doing consultations with seniors now on this issue so that they will be better prepared to deal with the issue. To date, this government has left a legacy of not consulting, contrary to their promise of being open and accountable. There is no harm nor cost in listening. Just for a point of clarification, I would like to table a copy of the famous Tory blue book where it defines seniors and what this government pretended they were going to do for seniors in this province. This is the famous blue book now of broken promises.

Time after time, whether we look at the municipalities, whether we look at the seniors, whether we look at the 10 per cent tax cut, whether we look at the Pharmacare costs, it doesn't matter what issue, municipalities, women in crisis, wellness centres, hospitals, there is no consulting. This government stands up, calls one of their friends and says, have a nice day, hangs up the receiver and then they stand in front of the cameras and say that they consulted with Nova Scotians. Mr. Speaker, we have seen this through the budget debate on a regular basis in this House from each and every minister on that side of the House. What about the Arts Council? How much consulting? How much advice did this government accept from Nova Scotians on these issues? It's about time the backbench on that side of this House stood up to be counted. Because if they think they're going to escape their responsibilities in this House of Assembly, then I got news for them because election time is coming and the hour of responsibility is fast approaching.

Mr. Speaker, these same former municipal colleagues of mine that used to do all this huffing and puffing and shouting about how they were going to help seniors when they got to this great House, they are a failure. They have failed not only the people that they represent in their individual constituencies, but they have failed all Nova Scotians, whether they live in Yarmouth, in Antigonish or in Sydney. This government will go down in history as being

[Page 9874]

the highest failure group in the history of this province. Until they stand up, particularly in the back - we've seen it here on the opposite benches - those ministers and that government are not going to listen. They're not going to listen until those backbenchers get some backbone over there and stand up and do the job that they were sent here to do to begin with. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Resolution No. 3679. I'm just going to reintroduce,"Therefore be it resolved that this government heed the call of seniors to devote more resources to hearing their concerns and design programs that address their needs in an adequate and rational manner."

[5:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I make note of the member for Kings North who actually got up and spoke, and he made some reference with respect to Grey Power and the seniors being disenchanted with governments, in the Province of Nova Scotia, and in New Brunswick in particular, and I guess we could talk about this going right across the country, that seniors tend to believe that they're not getting the ear of government.

Seniors have been talking to us, Mr. Speaker, with respect to making sure that there is a separate ministry to address the needs of seniors and I think when you look at the seniors' frustration with respect to this particular Tory Government since it came to power in 1999, you can see why they are out there searching and looking for a new political Party and a Party that will carry the voice of seniors to the Legislature.

Mr. Speaker, the member for Kings North had mentioned that he did not believe there was any movement or drive with respect to the Grey Party in the Province of Nova Scotia and I will tell you, and to that member, that a few weeks ago in Glace Bay there were approximately 240 seniors who attended a meeting with respect to organizing the political Party called the Grey Party in Nova Scotia and, hopefully, to have citizens run.

That should send a signal and a very clear message that this particular government is not listening to the seniors. Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to this government with respect to the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, when this government came to power it did, and it finally did hire a full-time Executive Director of the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, a lady by the name of Valerie White who, in my opinion, is doing an excellent job with the very little money that she has, but I also want the member who has spoken about the Group of Nine - the Group of Nine does an excellent job as well, but I want you to know that the Group of Nine does not speak for all the senior citizens of Nova Scotia.

[Page 9875]

The member for Dartmouth South can tell you as well, Mr. Speaker, that we had a meeting approximately three weeks ago with some senior citizens at Nantucket Place in Dartmouth South, in his riding, and the seniors had informed us that there are over 5,000 seniors who do not get the opportunity for government to hear their voice because they are not represented by the Group of Nine and those seniors' organizations are organizations of seniors who are in seniors' housing facilities, who represent seniors' housing organizations across the province.

Now, Mr. Speaker, having said that, those people feel that government somehow is not listening to their particular concerns. As a matter of fact, some of those individuals believe that there should be another seat on the Group of Nine, or another seat of that group of individuals where, in fact, they can be part of that organization that sends recommendations through the Senior Citizens' Secretariat to government. I also want you to know that seniors have long talked to government and as a matter of fact there is what's called the Federation of Senior Citizens and Pensioners of Nova Scotia. Each and every year they send a report to the provincial government, and that report to the provincial government has obviously contained within that report some 51 resolutions annually and those resolutions cover such issues as housing and nursing homes. It covers health care, Pharmacare and drugs, safety and security issues, taxes and incomes, and cost of living, services in general to seniors, and in supports of other issues.

Yet, Mr. Speaker, this government has not in fact lived up to its commitment which it stated in the blue book. This government in its blue book made a commitment and statement that it would ensure that the input of seniors and the interests of seniors would be in the forefront of all government decision making affecting the future of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you, since 1999, seniors certainly don't feel that, in fact, they have been listened to. When you think of the Tory blue book, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, and what it stated with respect to seniors being in the forefront of all its decision making, well I can tell you that when it came to increases in Pharmacare, there were obviously a large number of seniors who felt they were left out of the consultation process.

Mr. Speaker, in this province - it wasn't quite so long ago - Pharmacare was no cost at all, and now it has gone to the point whereby it is costing some seniors a 50 per cent increase over the year 2000. You have to remember, this government put an increase in Seniors' Pharmacare in the year 2000, no increase in the year 2001 budget year, and then again in this budget year they significantly upped the increase some 50 per cent. We know that's a very serious and important issue to seniors, but yet, government has not recognized that there are seniors out there who they should listen to and the effect that this will have on some seniors, particularly those seniors who have incomes, and these are single seniors, of $24,000 a year. This may sound like a lot to some members of that particular Party over

[Page 9876]

there, but it certainly is a small income when you consider the cost that seniors have to take out of that income over the period of a year.

Another very important issue that I brought forward today was the issue with respect to housing of seniors. I spoke to the minister today, the minister responsible for housing. The minister responsible for housing has certainly alienated a number of senior citizens by allowing people who are not senior citizens to live in senior citizen housing developments. When senior citizen housing developments were first introduced in the Province of Nova Scotia, they were introduced so that there would be a community of interest, a community whereby seniors and people of the same age, who had the same common interests, could live in the same kind of environment and live with the ease of protection and security that would be there.

Now we know that the minister responsible for housing has allowed his Department of Community Services to, in fact, put people into seniors' housing who seniors feel are not compatible with that kind of an environment. I'm talking about Sunrise Manor, where, in fact, the Minister of Community Services has allowed individuals to come in there who are of a great concern to those particular senior citizens.

The member for Dartmouth South, who spoke at the Family Caregivers Association of Nova Scotia today, boasted about the number of senior citizens' units within his constituency. He boasted that there were five senior citizens' units within his constituency, and he is absolutely correct. He has also stated that he has the largest concentration of senior citizens in all of Nova Scotia. That, too, is correct.

Mr. Speaker, those senior citizens have told him, the same as they've told me, that they're quite concerned with the number of individuals who are now coming in to senior citizens' housing complexes. So many of them are so concerned that they are not moving in, they are moving out of seniors' housing complexes. Some of them have lived there for 10 and 15 years. The minister responsible for housing is very much aware of people moving out of those units, rather than moving in.

We now have individuals who can live in seniors' housing complexes as young as 54 years of age. I don't want to imply that there is something wrong with this, but what I think you need to know is that there needs to be a proper assessment with respect to compatibility within the seniors' complexes. This is an issue that I spoke strongly about and asked the minister responsible for housing to look at new seniors' housing developments and so on. Do you know that many senior citizens who live in these housing complexes live in one-bedroom units in these complexes. When they have members of their family or relatives who come visit them, they have no place for them to stay so they feel that they're restricted with respect to that so they've asked under any new housing development to think about building two-bedroom units.

[Page 9877]

All these issues are issues that are very important. I've talked about the issue of Seniors' Pharmacare, I spoke about the issue of seniors' housing and I just want to go to the home care services that are primarily sent out to seniors. Many seniors have entered the hospital and then came out to find that they no longer have home care workers. Some of these senior citizens and older individuals have seen sometimes 15 to 30 different home care workers come to visit them simply because the level of home care service needs to be thoroughly looked at and there needs to be a plan and a direction with respect to where we go with home care.

I can tell you it's a humiliating experience, it's an embarrassing experience and it's one that you and I should be able to - if we experienced it, we wouldn't tolerate it ourselves. We certainly wouldn't tolerate that level of service by our government. I know that the Department of Health has to look at its contractual agreements to the delivery of home care services in this province because home care services leaves much to be desired. Often there's a 15-day waiting period, often there are times when individuals get different caregivers and that happens time and time again, finding themselves in an embarrassing and humiliating situation.

I just want to say in my last minute today that I attended the Family Caregivers' Association luncheon today and I have to tell you that it was an experience in itself in knowing the contribution that family members give to caring for their own family members and members of their extended families and so on. I can tell you that if we, as Nova Scotian taxpayers ever had to pay for that service, we could never afford it. So we ought to congratulate those people in the Family Caregivers' Association for the kind of work they do and thank you very much.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired on Resolution No. 3679.

I call upon the honourable Government House Leader for tomorrow's hours and business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. The order of business will be a little bit all over the map tomorrow. We will start off with Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill Nos. 129 and 134. Then we will go to Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading and do Bill Nos. 110, 117 and 119. Then we will go to Private and Local Bills for Second Reading and do the four bills there - Bill Nos. 130, 131, 132, 133 - and then we will go to Public Bills for Third Reading and we will do Bill Nos. 72 and 87. If time permits we will then move into Committee of the Whole House on Bills and do Bill No. 98, the Volunteer Protection Act.

[Page 9878]

Now, Mr. Speaker, that's a pretty broad brush, but we will (Interruptions) No. That is the way we will proceed tomorrow, Mr. Speaker, and see how far we get. I move the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until tomorrow at 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m. Is it agreed? Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow. We've reached the moment of interruption. The subject has been submitted by the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley:

["Therefore be it resolved that the present slate pit remediation project on Old Guysborough Road in the Halifax Regional Municipality be completed prior to any new endeavours being initiated."]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: REMEDIATION PROJ. (OLD GUYS. RD.) -

COMPLETION

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to speak on the resolution that is before you. I trust my colleagues opposite in the House will support the request that I'm advancing here this evening through this late show debate.

Back in early 2000, a proponent, Halifax Recycling C & D Limited requested that I go out to an old shale pit off the Old Guysborough Road and beyond the Community of Antrim, and entertain a presentation regarding a remediation and reclamation project.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I received a very professionally prepared brochure from the proponent, and went out to the former slate pit. The slate and shale pit has a lot of predominantly pyrites, and a pyrite has a high concentration of sulphur, iron, aluminum and other trace metals. Unfortunately, the consequence of these metals is that the old shale/slate pit, when exposed to air and rain water, it emanates sulphuric acid into, in this case, the fresh-water courses that

[Page 9879]

are very close to the old shale/slate pit. The result is that you have significantly low Ph level, and as a result, again, the fish and most living organisms are killed, quite frankly.

The proponent, Halifax Recycling C&D, which is a very respectable company said, look, we can bring in some wood and inert construction material - and they had examples of gyproc and wood and some insulation - and we can reclaim this pit. The result will be that the Ph level will rise in the watercourses, and fish and other organisms will have an opportunity to rebound, so to speak. So, based on the presentation and because there were no municipal requirements in terms of permits and things of that nature, I felt that, as the MLA for the area, the project was laudable and quite supportable.

Although my approval certainly wasn't necessary for the project to proceed, I was very pleased that the proponent, Halifax C&D - good night, Jerry - was going to be kind enough to at least involve me - I apologize, Mr. Speaker - in the process. Anyway, for probably two or three months things went along great. The neighbours in the surrounding area and vicinity didn't complain about a smell or anything, because the proponent was just sending and placing and positioning wood and inert construction material at the site.

Things were going along very well. But one day I received a number of phone calls, this caucus did, I did as the MLA, and I believe some of the residents were in communication and contact with some of the members opposite, I believe, especially in the Liberal caucus. However, we went out to the site. First we were told by the residents that the stench from that pit is absolutely abhorrent. In fact, I went out to the site and used the term that you certainly had to pinch your nose and it would gag a maggot. It was a very stinky mess.

What they had done, counter to the presentation, was instead of bringing in topsoil to cover up the wood and inert material, which they implied they were going to do, they started bringing in this compost material. Mr. Speaker, we were in touch with the Department of Environment and Labour, and we went out to the site. As fate would have it, the president arrived on the scene. The president was confronted by myself, and some members of the media were interested, and we asked the proponent what was going on. The neighbours are complaining about a smell, and that sure as heck doesn't look like wood inert material going in there now, it's compost, it's non-biodegradable - a lot of it was - waste. But to his credit, the president ordered that site shut down. I really believed, at that time, that he was genuinely concerned about the neighbours concerns.

So, anyway, the honourable member for Cape Breton West has a sample, I think he's still carrying around. I know you can't use illustrations or props, Mr. Speaker, but the water was just black oozing out of that site. In fact, what the well-intended company was planning to do - I see the member still has his sample - actually backfired, so to speak. They inadvertently, I believe, created what we now have and that's an environmental problem and it's unmitigated. That same proponent has made application to establish a C&D site, a construction and demolition debris site this side of that site, if you're going east on the Old

[Page 9880]

Guysborough Road, probably less than one kilometre away. The residents are opposed to that. The residents are saying, look, the company has lost some reputation, they've lost some credibility. Their name has been somewhat tarnished. We don't believe that the Halifax Regional Municipality should grant them a re-zoning and subsequent licence to operate a C&D site until the acid slate pit remediation project actually has been successfully remediated.

Right now, residents are alleging that there's a problem with rodents, there's a problem with gulls; there's certainly a problem with smell, I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, because I go back and forth quite frequently on the way to Halifax here. So there is a problem with the present site and we're hoping that Halifax Regional Municipal Council will appreciate the concerns that the folks have. This week, I think it was just yesterday, with your approbation, I was able to present a petition on behalf of the residents that are opposed to the application for the C&D site.

You know, Mr. Speaker, as well as I do, I'm sure, through Cumberland South, the old saying, once bitten, twice shy, is certainly repeated sometimes and it certainly was repeated out there the other evening at a community meeting about this very, very serious concern. The folks in Antrim, Devon and Goffs, and they're just small communities, and by the way, Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is made up of some 63 communities. Some of them are rather small; some of them are quite large. But the fact of the matter is, people are people wherever you go. I don't believe, in this particular case or in most cases, that the will of the people should be denied. So I appealed to those councillors that were present at the meeting and I appealed to the staff from the HRM to put that application on hold, put it in abeyance until this same proponent remediates the pit.

What's wrong with that? I think it's a reasonable request. I think what the proponent is trying to do and what HRM is trying to do and what the Department of Environment and Labour is trying to do is certainly admirable. But when a company comes in and tries to advance a very worthwhile project and it goes amiss, well, then where I come from, we believe that you do first things first. You're not going to jump from that job into a C&D site until the job you started is finished and it has to be finished properly. But the proponent, to his credit, I will say the company has been very polite. They've been courteous. When there was a problem and we identified it, they did shut it down without question. So we're very pleased.

They have subsequently put a plan together to go out and screen some of the oversize compost, remove the non-biodegradables, the waste. Mr. Speaker, they've got a heck of a job out there to remediate that site back to something that will meet the residents' satisfaction and until that happens, I will be going to hearings. If HRM wants to continue the process regarding the C&D application, I will be standing with my citizens, shoulder to shoulder, opposing it, not because it's not well intended, but because the same proponent is not living up to the terms of the first project.

[Page 9881]

I see my time has just about expired and I do thank you. I welcome comments from members opposite.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on this particular resolution as introduced by my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley:

"Therefore be it resolved that the present slate pit remediation project on Old Guysborough Road in the Halifax Regional Municipality be completed prior to any new endeavours being initiated."

Mr. Speaker, first of all I would like to applaud my colleague for bringing this particular resolution before the House, because first of all it demonstrates quite clearly that the honourable member is standing up for his constituents. I think that's very important, particularly when you're a backbencher on the government side and you have a colleague who sits as the Minister of Environment and Labour and is remiss in his duty in protecting the interests of the constituents of the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

Secondly, it affords members an opportunity to come and deliberate on many of the aspects of environmental issues in the Halifax Regional Municipality, particularly as it relates to recycling and composting or, to be a little more formal, on the C&D proposal, which is the compost and debris recycling project. Also, it speaks more importantly to the fact that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley seems to be left to his own devices to protect his constituents because his colleague, the Minister of Environment and Labour, is doing very little to assist. I think that's shameful. It is shameful that the honourable member has to bring this before the House to plead for public support in the House of Assembly when his colleague is only three seats away and he can't seem to get through to him.

By the minister's own admission, last year about this time, in the House of Assembly, he admitted that the proponent, the contractor for a nearby site, the Antrim site, was in fact in violation of the regulations for this compost site, and seemed to be very reluctant to take a firm stand to protect the interest of the environment and the interest of the people who lived in and around Antrim. Now I think that's very disappointing.

I realize, Mr. Speaker, it gets a little more complicated because of contractual arrangements with the Halifax Regional Municipality, and they do have a major concern. They're recycling somewhere in the vicinity of 75,000 tons, or they have the demolition waste product to the extent of 75,000 tons a year that they have to deal with. We know what the situation is out in New Era Farms under a ministerial order, and the difficulty that was there. It wasn't just the provincial government's responsibility, it was also the municipal

[Page 9882]

government's responsibility because there was an education component that required the municipality to educate the residents on what was biodegradable and what was not biodegradable and to separate those at the curbside, and that wasn't done; so ergo, that was part of the problem.

What did the provincial government do when the back wind came? It beat up on New Era Farms. Perhaps it wasn't entirely their fault, they were a victim of circumstance and they did the best they could. Then, what happened? The Halifax Regional Municipality, with the province's blessing, starts to transfer their problem all over. We saw what they tried to do down in Torbrook, transferring the problem down there. That didn't work, the residents banded together - and yes, I attended a public meeting down there, and I worked with the residents. Mr. Speaker, that came to an abrupt halt.

We see that they've tried to export some of that down to Kings County, but the municipal council there, as I understand, has a no-import, no-export policy. So, let's go to another jurisdiction. Out at the Antrim site, some of this debris was coming from municipal sources. The province was soft-pedalling because they just didn't want to get caught up in trying to solve a problem that they were, in effect, largely responsible for creating. The recycling program is good but, by heavens, they should be supporting the municipality. They shouldn't be beating up on the municipality. They shouldn't be taking that 10 per cent out of the Resource Recovery Fund Board. They should be giving that to the Halifax Regional Municipality so they can address the problems that New Era Farms have and C & D Recycling have, and a lot of other stakeholders have that are now before the residents out at the Old Guysborough Road and other issues. It's very disappointing.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I raised in the House yesterday this very issue with the Minister of Environment and Labour. In the minister's second response, he effectively stated that despite the fact that this proponent was in violation of the environmental laws of the Province of Nova Scotia, he is prepared to issue another permit. That will only compound the problems for the residents in the nearby community on the Old Guysborough Road.

Mr. Speaker, I know we're not supposed to use props, but this is, in fact, a fluid . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows that he's not to use props in the House. I would ask the honourable member not to use the props. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, I will table this and I will probably provide it to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley because it's so black, and I know we're not allowed to use it as a prop, so I won't touch it anymore.

[Page 9883]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: But we do know that if you were to open the top of that bottle, it is so toxic that it would chase everyone out of this room. So I can well imagine what the good residents out in Antrim, and now the Old Guysborough Road must be feeling. Yes, I applaud the member, but why doesn't he put some pressure on the Minister of Environment and Labour to stop purging the Resource Recovery Fund Board, put that money back into recycling to assist the proponent, to assist the Halifax Regional Municipality, to protect our environment, to protect the residents that this honourable member wants to represent.

Mr. Speaker, that's not being done. Any wonder the residents would say that they were totally against this particular project? The proponent who was supposed to follow all the environmental laws, and what's his response, everything was going along fine until, ". . . the shale pit problems began when he received improperly composted material from a company."

Well, Mr. Speaker, I even asked the Minister of Environment and Labour to give some indication as to where the compost would come from on this proposed site, and what did he say - that was up to the Halifax Regional Municipality. So, in other words, he has cut his colleague loose. You're on your own Mr. MLA for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. That's what your colleague has said. On the other hand, through the back door, he's clawing 10 per cent of the funds away from the Halifax Regional Municipality that should be going towards recycling.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order. I hate to take the honourable member's time and I will be as swift as I can. The fact of the matter is the Department of Environment and the minister at that particular time when we raised the concern, had members of the Department of Environment, inspectors and technicians, communicate with me, communicate with the proponent, and I believe even some people in the HRM. They certainly have tried to resolve this situation and I believe they have recently approved a plan that was put in place. (Interruption) Yes, I will give him time to wrap up.

MR. SPEAKER: That is not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has about 10 seconds.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, Mr. Speaker, that's all they seem to have on that side of the House are plans in the Department of Environment and Labour. What we want from this member, and the residents on the Old Guysborough Road want, is action. Action speaks louder than words.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member's time has expired.

[Page 9884]

The honourable member for Preston.

MR. DAVID HENDSBEE: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure for me to rise this evening to talk on this resolution that was brought forward by my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. It's a shame to see the NDP has no particular interest in this topic and none of them are present to debate their caucus' concerns or positions.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Preston knows that it's not proper to indicate either the presence or absence of members of the House. I would ask him to refrain from that and proceed on with his debate on the motion at hand.

MR. HENDSBEE: I apologize for that infraction, but it's apparent that they're not here to state their case.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I am going to ask the honourable member to take his place if he doesn't respect the Rules of the House. The honourable member for Preston has the floor.

MR. HENDSBEE: Anyway, in regard to the whole situation about C&D materials and everything else, in particular this site, Antrim Road, up there by the Musquodoboit Valley along the Old Guysborough Road is a very big concern for me in my riding because the effluent that may flow down from that particular site would come down the East Brook into the Porters Lake area. I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, that my community, Porters Lake and the Lake Echo area, has been very concerned about the acidic slate runoffs in that particular area. Back in the mid-70s when the airport runway was extended and pyritic slates were exposed, we had the runoff coming down through the Waverley-Salmon River-Long Lake system. It killed the fish in Lake Echo and Lawrencetown Lake. Tomorrow, at the airport's annual meeting, I will be going there again to see how far they are coming. The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley will also be there to know how the mitigation programs are going there in collecting all this runoff and wastewater up there off the airport.

Mr. Speaker, it also goes even further than that. When the previous Liberal Administration brought in their plans for new environmental laws and voted down the incinerator plan for the City of Dartmouth, at that time, before amalgamation, brought in all these new regulations to try to handle waste management. The biggest concern is they had an idea, but they didn't have a full plan in place to follow that idea. I was on the Halifax Regional Municipality Council and we had to bring in a solid-waste program to deal with this particular issue. I was one of the very few councillors who attended practically every one of those community consultation processes that we had to go through to make sure we had the composting procedures in there, to make sure we had the waste-stream recycling programs in there. We had to do everything possible to try to meet the criteria or the ideals that the province had set down.

[Page 9885]

One of the problems we also had on the strategy is our C&D materials we have to deal with. I have a C&D facility in my riding, also the proponent of this particular Halifax C&D is a constituent of mine. He and I have spoken about this particular project and other issues about C&D materials. I've been advocating with the province, with the Minister of Transportation and Public Works that perhaps what we should do as a government is promote more C&D materials be reclaimed in our tender practices for road construction and everything else like that. We have to provide a marketplace and a demand for such materials.

Right now, those C&D operators out there are trying to do their darnedest to find places to put the stuff, not just to put it and bury it, but to reuse it back into our economy.

When I had an opportunity to go down to San Jose, I was going to a FCM conference, the Federation of Canadian Municipalities Conference in Calgary, but I took a couple of extra days to go visit my sister in San Jose and I took that time to add a few days to go and check out the waste-stream management they had down there. San Jose has been noted as one of the leading American cities for solid-waste management recoveries and what they do with their landfill sites. Also, one of the biggest things I was very concerned about was how they handled their construction and demolition debris.

I visited a site where they have their crushers on site and they broke up the concrete into aggregate. They took out the metal and everything else that was exposed in it. They would take the wood and shred it and everything else, demagnetize it, pulled the nails and everything else out of it. But when it came down to the gyproc and stuff, it was very interesting. They had a bath of water in a large tank and they had the excavators dump the stuff in and smash the gyproc away from the wood, stream the wood through into the shedders, but the gypsum below would mix with the water and fall to the bottom. Afterwards, this stuff would be siphoned off and that gypsum and stuff would have been utilized for a lot of places. It would be used for alkaline in certain soil conditions, any acidic farming lands, but also they used it for any exposed areas for pyritic slate.

This is what one of the experiments with this pyritic slate bed up there in the Antrim area. The concern is leaving that pit exposed was more of an environmental hazard than not doing something with it. Trying to cover it up with the reclaimed gyproc and using the other inert materials, it was a novel and a very . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: They did it in Lunenburg.

MR. HENDSBEE: They did it in Lunenburg and a few other places, but there were concerns about the effluence smells because of some of the materials that were being used. We were concerned about that, but the biggest concern is the runoff and I'm hoping that the runoff that the honourable member for Cape Breton West has shown, it's not effluent that's coming from the site itself, I hope it's not the stuff coming from the materials being put on the site. The biggest concern is that we have to mitigate that acidic runoff.

I have people from Porters Lake go to that meeting on Monday night up at Goffs.

[Page 9886]

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I don't want to stop the member in full flight because it is a good dissertation, but just on a point of clarification, the fluid and the bile, so to speak, is from the brook that runs from this particular site at Antrim.

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order, but a clarification of the information for the House. Thank you. The honourable member for Preston has the floor.

MR. HENDSBEE: What the honourable member says is the fluid from the brook that comes from the site, I would like to know what the fluid was prior to any remediation work being done because it could have been even worse. I don't know what the acidic PH levels would have been? Was it lower? Much lower? Or, is this stuff now more of an alkaline base or is it getting higher in sweetness or whatever you want to call it.

My other concern is, what else is in that water? That's the only thing I'm worried about because it's supposed to be using inert materials at a C & D site, basically construction debris, bricks and mortar and concrete and wood. There should be no chemical problems, but if this compost material that was utilized as a substitute for topsoil, that does concern me and I'm glad to see the proponent was wise enough to shut down the operation to make the necessary corrections and to try to mitigate the problem that was out of hand. I'm hoping Mr. Chassie would have an opportunity to regain the confidence of the community out there because I personally believe that such C & D sites are necessary. That's one of the problems right now that HRM is faced with. They may pass the by-law but now they have to go through the process of the land use zoning and have the appropriate areas designated to have such particular sites.

People are concerned about having these types of facilities in their backyards. Some people don't like them because they may be unsightly, but the problem is they may be necessary because of our economy and because of the waste-stream management policies of this province and our municipalities. A lot of the waste-stream we're trying to reduce from our landfill sites, we're doing a lot of good measures of promoting composting, promoting waste separation, taking the recyclables out of the waste stream. C & D Materials is still a large component, we just can't find infill sites and just make them infill material, we also have to find markets and make sure we can utilize the material in other places.

I will be watching this particular issue very closely because as I stated earlier, I had residents, the Mombourquettes from Myra Road were at that meeting plus there were some other constituents from the Alps Road, from the Eastern Shore riding and are very concerned about this. I also had the Porters Lake Wilderness Area Association watching and monitoring the situation because back in the days of the incinerator fights, they were concerned about Site H - up there at East Lake and Lake Williams area. The concern was not just the fly ash that was going in the site but actually what it had to go through to get to that site. The pyritic slate formations, the building of the road was the hazard. It would have polluted all the runways and waterways in that area and it's kind of odd to see now these areas are part of the candidate

[Page 9887]

protected sites that are by the Clattenburg Brook area as well as by the Waverley-Long River-Salmon River candidate sites.

These issues will not go away. We as a province have to work with our municipalities to come down with a reasonable and logical and rational C & D policy. Not all regulations and not all conditions are going to be applicable in certain circumstances, depending on the area or the nature of the community or the environment in which they have to operate.

I'm hoping that all our private and public operations out there will work with each of the municipalities and will work with each of the province's departments to make sure we have the best reasonable solution and I'm hoping that we do our best to make sure that our C & D materials that should be going to the right places don't end up in the back roads and the side roads or anything else where a lot of construction debris is finding its place. I can take you to many places in my own constituency where this is happening and I'm hoping that we will do our best to make sure this doesn't happen and spoil our beautiful landscape of this province. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I thank the honourable members for bringing this issue forward tonight and all the members who took part in the debate.

The House is adjourned until tomorrow at noon.

[The House rose at 6:30 p.m.]

[Page 9888]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3763

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas Duncan MacMillan High School teacher Anita Coady competed in the Walt Disney Marathon this winter, completing the entire 26-kilometre marathon while also raising funds for the Arthritis Society; and

Whereas Anita raised in excess of $5,000 while running the marathon in honour of her aunt, Joan Killen, and her son, Newton Killen; and

Whereas Anita was even mentioned in an edition of the Winnipeg Sun after meeting up with and continuing the last nine kilometres of the marathon with a member of the Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Sun quoted ballerina Diane Buck as saying, "I finished the last nine kilometres with an absolute angel from Sheet Harbour and without her help, I would never have made it";

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend Anita Coady for her tremendous ability to complete the Walt Disney Marathon while raising funds for an exceptionally worthwhile charity.

RESOLUTION NO. 3764

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Matthew Robinson was presented with the Physical Fitness Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Matthew Robinson on being recognized for his extra efforts and wish him all the very best in the future.

[Page 9889]

RESOLUTION NO. 3765

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Kyle House was presented with the Best Dressed Cadet on Parade Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Kyle House on being recognized for his extra efforts and wish him all the very best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3766

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Rebecca Nelson was presented with the Physical Fitness Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Rebecca Nelson on being recognized for her extra efforts and wish her all the very best in the future.

[Page 9890]

RESOLUTION NO. 3767

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Kaela House was presented with the Best First Year Cadet;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Kaela House on being recognized for her extra efforts and wish her all the very best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 3768

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Sarah Gilbert was presented with the Leadership Award;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Sarah Gilbert on being recognized for her extra efforts and wish her all the very best in the future.

[Page 9891]

RESOLUTION NO. 3769

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday May 5, 2002, the Springhill Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps No. 1859 held their annual review at the Springhill Armouries; and

Whereas several cadets were presented with awards for exemplary service to the corps; and

Whereas Sergeant Allan Ferguson was presented with the Marksmanship Plaque and the Arnold Harrison Memorial Trophy;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature congratulate Sergeant Allan Ferguson on being recognized for his extra efforts and wish him all the very best in the future.