Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-120

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
INTRODUCTION OF VISITORS 11111
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Health - Weymouth: Physician Recruitment Incentive - Required,
Mr. W. Gaudet 11112
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Econ. Dev. - C.B. Rail Service: Private-Sector Options - Explore,
The Premier 11114
Health: EHS Communications Ctr. - Accreditation, Hon. J. Muir 11118
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4483, Halifax, HMCS - South-West Asia Service Medals:
Recipients - Congrats., The Premier 11120
Vote - Affirmative 11120
Res. 4484, Tourism & Culture - PANS: Mi'kmaq Resource Guide -
Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11120
Vote - Affirmative 11121
Res. 4485, Health - EHS Communications Ctr.: Accreditation -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 11121
Vote - Affirmative 11122
Res. 4486, Doucet, Rodolphe: FANE Award - Congrats.,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 11122
Vote - Affirmative 11123
Res. 4487, PSC: Take Our Kids to Work Day - Importance,
Hon. E. Fage 11123
Vote - Affirmative 11124
Res. 4488, Andrews, Webster/Murray, John/Aggas, Roger/
Murphy, Marty: Parks Council Award - Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 11124
Vote - Affirmative 11124
Res. 4489, ANSMA: Winners/Assoc. - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11125
Vote - Affirmative 11125
Res. 4490, Agric. & Fish. - Wild Blueberry Ind.: Dev. Efforts -
Congrats., Hon. E. Fage 11125
Vote - Affirmative 11126
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4491, Health - Long-Term Care System: Effects - Acknowledge,
Mr. D. Dexter 11126
Res. 4492, UNSM - Anl. Meeting: Best Wishes - Extend,
Mr. B. Boudreau 11127
Vote - Affirmative 11128
Res. 4493, MacLeod, Maxwell L. - "The Liverpool and Milton Railway":
Publication - Commend, Mr. K. Morash 11128
Vote - Affirmative 11128
Res. 4494, Health - Prem.: Long-Term Care Plan - Absence Admit,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 11129
Res. 4495, Ambulance Dispatch Ctr. (N.S.): Employees - Congrats.,
Dr. J. Smith 11129
Vote - Affirmative 11130
Res. 4496, Scotia Prince: Yar. Headquarters - Welcome,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 11130
Vote - Affirmative 11131
Res. 4497, Commun. Serv. - Adoption Info.: Provision -
Resources Commit, Mr. J. Pye 11131
Res. 4498, Neary, Jack: Fire Services Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 11132
Vote - Affirmative 11132
Res. 4499, Vineyard Christian Family Ministry: Opening - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Barnet 11133
Vote - Affirmative 11133
Res. 4500, Commun. Serv. - Capt. Spry Lodge: Elevator - Install,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 11133
Res. 4501, Health - Pharmacare: Charges - Increase Prevent,
Mr. D. Downe 11134
Res. 4502, River John Library Soc., Friends of: Fundraising -
Commend, Mrs. M. Baillie 11135
Vote - Affirmative 11136
Res. 4503, Drake, Sarah: Soccer MVP Award - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 11136
Vote - Affirmative 11137
Res. 4504, Bridgetown Info Ctr. - Connell, Linda/Staff: Efforts -
Applaud, Mr. F. Chipman 11137
Vote - Affirmative 11138
Res. 4505, Agric. & Fish. - Hfx.-E. Hants: Agric. Ind. -
Impact Recognize, Mr. B. Taylor 11138
Vote - Affirmative 11139
Res. 4506, CEC - Golf Team: NSSAF (2002) Championship - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 11139
Vote - Affirmative 11140
Res. 4507, Inverness Legion (Branch 132) - Dutch Medal of
Remembrance: Recipients - Congrats., Hon. Rodney MacDonald 11140
Vote - Affirmative 11141
Res. 4508, City of Lakes Chorus: Dedication - Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 11141
Vote - Affirmative 11141
Res. 4509, Dodge, Ann/Smith, Mark: Athletic Talents - Recognize,
Mr. D. Morse 11142
Vote - Affirmative 11142
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1220, Health - Long-Term Care: Prem. - Indifference Admit,
Mr. D. Dexter 11142
No. 1221, Econ. Dev. - C.B. Rail: Prem. - Intentions,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 11144
No. 1222, Health - Long-Term Care Plans: Release - Time Frame,
Mr. D. Dexter 11145
No. 1223, Health - Strait-Richmond Hosp. Physician: Recruitment -
Details, Mr. M. Samson 11147
No. 1224, Health - Pharmacare: Increase - Prevent,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 11149
No. 1225, Health: Physician Recruitment Plan - Efficacy,
Mr. W. Gaudet 11150
No. 1226, Health - Long-Term Care Plan: Consultation -
Schedule Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 11151
No. 1227, Health: Physician Recruitment - Address, Dr. J. Smith 11152
No. 1228, Health - Nursing Home Fees Info.: Prem./Health Min. -
Discrepancy Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 11154
No. 1229, Health - Children's Mental Health Services:
Out-of-Prov. Treatment - Details, Dr. J. Smith 11156
No. 1230, Econ. Dev. - C.B. Rail Line: Investment - Lack Explain,
Mr. F. Corbett 11157
No. 1231, Environ. & Lbr. - CBRM: Sewer Backup - Notification,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 11159
No. 1232, Health - Aricept: Non-Payment Decisions - Reason,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 11160
No. 1233, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Tenders: N.S. Companies -
Fairness Ensure, Mr. B. Boudreau 11161
No. 1234, Energy - Encana: Deep Panuke - Postponement,
Mr. H. Epstein 11162
No. 1235, Health - Seniors' Pharmacare Advisory Bd.: Elimination -
Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 11163
No. 1236, Agric. & Fish. - Pork Producers: Aid Progs. - Adequacy,
Mr. J. MacDonell 11165
No. 1237, Health - Pharmacare: Charges - Maintain, Mr. D. Downe 11166
No. 1238, Commun. Serv. - Social Workers: Min. - Meet, Mr. J. Pye 11168
No. 1239, Nat. Res. - Protected Areas: Corporate Plan - Prioritize,
Mr. K. MacAskill 11169
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 145, Homes for Special Care Act 11171
Mr. D. Dexter 11171
Hon. J. Muir 11176
Dr. J. Smith 11180
Mr. R. MacKinnon 11183
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 11185
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Rural Communities: Econ. Optimism - Recognize:
Mr. J. Carey 11190
Mr. J. MacDonell 11192
Mr. B. Boudreau 11195
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 7th at 2:00 p.m. 11197
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4510, Gallant, Paul D.: FANE Award - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 11198
Res. 4511, Caulfield, John - Tennis: Achievements - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11199
Res. 4512, Stanfield Ltd. (Oxford) - Heart & Stroke Fdn.:
Fundraising - Congrats., The Speaker 11199
Res. 4513, King, James: Best All Around Student Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 11200
Res. 4514, Black, Terry/Black, Dan/Rhindress, Jason/
Stonehouse, Chrissy - Prov. Summer Games: Medals - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11200
Res. 4515, Mason, Michael - Amherst Little League Pennant: Win -
Congrats., The Speaker 11201
Res. 4516, Landry, Pierre - Springhill Paint Recycling Co.: Award -
Congrats., The Speaker 11201
Res. 4517, Ferguson, Alan - Can. Guards Assoc.: Guards Cup -
Congrats., The Speaker 11202
Res. 4518, Bragg, Doug, Enterprises: Expansion - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11202
Res. 4519, Reynolds, Ron & Kathy/Anderson, Bud:
Kidney Fdn. Certificates - Congrats., The Speaker 11203
Res. 4520, Miss Cumberland Pageant: Winners/Contestants - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11203
Res. 4521, Maple Grove Educ. Ctr. - Cross-Country Running Team:
Championships - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 11204
Res. 4522, Sports: Yar. Jr. HS Girls Soccer Team/Coaches - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 11204

[Page 11111]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 6, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

Mr. Brooke Taylor, Mr. Kevin Deveaux, Mr. David Wilson

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, I will recognize the honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin on an introduction.

MS. MARY ANN MCGRATH: Mr. Speaker, today in the east gallery we have 24 education students from Mount St. Vincent University with their teacher, Carmon Stone. They have come for the tour and to watch a little bit of Question Period and what we do here. Would you please rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings West:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the positive economic optimism fuelling many of our rural communities across Nova Scotia.

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

The honourable Minister of Health.

11111

[Page 11112]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place today on a point of privilege. This morning in the Public Accounts Committee, the Seniors' Pharmacare Program was discussed. Members were advised that the Seniors Pharmacare Board of Directors was eliminated under the former government and I want to clarify that situation. It was a question asked, I believe, by the member for Cape Breton West. When this government came to power, the board was in existence but it had met only once in the previous year and had a number of vacancies. Recognizing that the Pharmacare board was inactive and the fact that, as Minister of Health, my department had become responsible for the Senior Citizens' Secretariat, it was decided that the board would be dissolved and we have replaced the consultations with the Pharmacare Board by consulting with the existing seniors' groups through the Senior Citizens' Secretariat.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the Minister of Health for standing in his place today to correct what I assumed this morning was an error and we have since got documents and an OIC that in fact it was this government that did cancel that seniors' advisory committee. I want to thank my colleagues, the member for Lunenburg West, and the member for Cape Breton West as well, for bringing this before the committee this morning and I want to thank the minister for clarifying that.

I was a little sensitive to this, having been the minister, I imagine, around that time. That seemed to be what was following from the line of questioning and answers that took place at Public Accounts this morning, and I want to thank the minister.

MR. SPEAKER: Normally, when a member rises on a point of privilege. I usually take it under advisement and report back at a later date, but I think it is pretty obvious that it is not a point of privilege, but a clarification of facts for the House and I thank you for that.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that says: We the undersigned residents of Weymouth and surrounding areas, do hereby sign this petition demanding that Weymouth be reinstated on the province's list of high-needs areas for physician recruitment incentive. A full incentive package is mandatory. Our only resident physician, Doctor Donald Westby, is presently serving approximately 3,000 patients and is in dire need of assistance. This situation needs to be corrected immediately, to prevent further deterioration of his well-being and that of the taxpaying citizens.

Mr. Speaker, approximately 2,000 people have signed this petition and I have affixed my name to this petition.

[Page 11113]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley on an introduction.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, though you and to all members of the House, I would like to introduce more people in your gallery. I would like to begin by explaining to the House, just ever so briefly, that today is Take Our Kids to Work Day and it's a program that was implemented by The Learning Partnership in 1994. Since that time over 1.3 million students across this great country have had the time to get out to over 75,000 workplaces in this great country to perhaps observe and examine the different goings-on, irrespective of vocation.

With us today - and I would ask these young people if they would to stand; these students go to Bible Hill Junior High - Josh Richard, Mike Currie, and Steven Morell. Their chaperone today is my constituency assistant and I might add also campaign manager of three successful provincial elections, Sherri Richard. I would ask them to rise and receive a warm welcome from the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: She certainly deserves to sit in the Speaker's Gallery.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's my pleasure to introduce to the House Anna Mancini, who is here with us this morning. She is doing a job shadow with Mr. Sherrard in our office and is here as part of that. So I'm pleased to introduce her to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West on an introduction.

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, also job shadowing today from the school at West Kings and one of my constituents, Erin Moore. I would just ask you to welcome her. (Applause)

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

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I also would like to introduce someone today who happens to be my niece and a Grade 9 student here in Halifax and is taking part in Take Your Kids to Work Day. Her name is Valerie MacPherson, and she's up in the gallery today along with her father, John MacPherson. Valerie helped me write the resolution that I will read later on. So if you would please stand and accept the welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 11114]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic on an introduction.

MR. ROBERT CHISHOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to introduce a couple of fine constituents of Halifax Atlantic. One is Denis Burgess, who has done a bit of work for the NDP over the last number of years and makes a fabulous contribution in our community through his involvement with Cubs and Scouts and other organizations. With him today, I think Courtney drew the short straw, but she had to shadow her dad. I know that she certainly shadows her dad in other ways by helping him when he conducts his activities and does other work and makes sure he stays on the straight and narrow. Anyway, Courtney Burgess is a Grade 9 student and she's here today spending time with her dad and to see the operations here in the House of Assembly. So I would ask her and her father, Denis, to rise and receive the warm welcome of the Assembly. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I, as well, have a job shadower today. In the west gallery is Kyle Corbett, who is a resident of Eastern Passage and a student in Grade 9 at Eastern Passage Education Centre. If he could stand and be recognized, as well. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We do welcome our special guests here today.

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I rise in the House today on a matter of grave importance to the economy of Cape Breton Island and to all Nova Scotians. Over the last three years, our government has worked to rebuild the economy of Cape Breton. Last month I had the opportunity to visit Tesma, one of the success stories in North Sydney. Later this week I will be visiting another success story at the EDS centre in Port Hawkesbury.

Cape Breton's economy is growing to a level not seen in about 15 years, thanks to the business community and thanks to the skilled workforce. I would be remiss in not mentioning our government's economy growth strategy, Opportunities for Prosperity. Our strategy is the first provincial strategy of its kind in close to a decade. It is a strategy that recognizes the specific challenges and opportunities facing Cape Breton.

[Page 11115]

While Cape Breton has seen many new opportunities over the last three years, today we are facing a heightened challenge. Yesterday the Utilities and Review Board approved an application by Rail America to withdraw commercial rail service by April 2003. Our government joined with many in the community and from both sides of the House to oppose this application. Indeed, our government, led by the Minister of Economic Development, has spoken out against any withdrawal of commercial rail service on Cape Breton Island. We have worked hard with Emera, Canadian National, Rail America and others to drum up new business to ensure the rail line has a future that makes sense.

Our team will continue to work with all business and community stakeholders to find a lasting private-sector solution to this issue. Only a sound business case will save the rail line. The opportunities are there to put together a sound business case. That's where our focus will be over the next five months, turning these opportunities into reality.

The Minister of Economic Development will continue to work with his inter-departmental team of senior officials from Economic Development, Transportation and Public Works and Justice. They will examine all potential options to bring about a private sector solution. I will be discussing this issue with him tomorrow morning and he will be meeting with stakeholders later this week. Rail infrastructure is far too important an economic asset to Cape Breton and to our province and that is why we will continue to work hard over the next five months to ensure that all private sector options are fully explored. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I was angry yesterday when this decision came down and I didn't think I could get any angrier until I listened to this statement of this Premier who gives these veiled threats of helping the economy of Cape Breton. He and his government have virtually sat by and watched that economy decline day by day, week by week, month by month, year by year. I hear shame, shame over there, but I know what's going on - I'm living there everyday, I see the desperate looks, I see what's going on when we're debating the bill on redistribution and we see the outflow.

Why is there an outflow of workers and people and families in Cape Breton? Because of the actions of governments like yours. Governments that don't allow families to prosper. Governments, when they had a chance to do something substantial around Nova Scotia Power, around Melford - when the quarry in Melford wanted you, Mr. Premier, to help with the rail spur - you turned your back on Cape Breton. You turned your back. The Minister of Tourism wasn't there looking for it. He sat quietly by. Now he's saying, shame on me. Well, I say, shame on him for not opening his mouth then.

[Page 11116]

The economy of Cape Breton is almost at rock bottom and this is what this government is trying to do - push it down. What can they do with their ghostly image of a committee that was never in effect before? What can they do in the next five months that they haven't done in three years? But they're going to right this ship in five months. It's a joke. And do you know what? Nobody in Cape Breton is laughing. The Premier knows full well what he has done to the economy of Cape Breton and it's not been good.

He talks about sound, private business plans as the only thing that will save this. The last time he was saying that in this House, it was around Sydney Steel and he closed it. That's the sound business plan this government talks about. It's talking about taking people and families out of Cape Breton with no consideration of their history there. I'm sure if this was happening in Pictou County, this Premier wouldn't . . . why wasn't this Premier there and said, you know what? You bought that railway as a full line, you buy that railway as a full line, you retreat from it as a full time and we'll sell it on the open market as a full line.

No, this Premier sat back and listened to some of his stories from the Minister of Economic Development who said we're doing this, we're doing that. What the people in Cape Breton have seen is inaction after inaction after inaction. Businesses that are existing there today - some of the very ones that he attested to helping, he's hurting.

So, Mr. Premier, if you have a plan, show it to us today - not your cheap words. Thank you. (Applause)

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Today, in this House, we witnessed more propaganda from Baillie/Rumsfeld, the corporate strategy of this government. This is another example of when you have no defences and something happens, they come out with an offensive statement like this and hope that Nova Scotians will believe this pile of garbage that we were presented with here today in this House. I've never seen so much gall in all my life for the Premier to stand up on his feet and try to take credit for the economy of Cape Breton when a railway is disappearing right before his eyes and his government has done nothing to save that railway in Cape Breton. Absolutely nothing.

He cites two instances when he was in Cape Breton. Two instances to visit two businesses in Cape Breton since he's been Premier. He talks about his program to develop Cape Breton. Well, I will tell you what his program is, Mr. Speaker. His program is a $2 million investment per year for six years under the strategy program that his government has developed, in other words to hide behind Nova Scotia Business Inc. who have been given most of the development money in this province, who has a board set up with 12 people on that board, only one of which is from the Island of Cape Breton, only one. Now what kind of justice are we going to get from that government when you have a situation like that?

[Page 11117]

He mentions economic development. Economic development is not even a ministry any more. He's reduced the Sydney office to one person down there who has no authority to do anything about anything. He has a minister who today is in New York trying to drum up business with a bunch of Nova Scotia businesses. He has 12 businesses with him, one of which is from Cape Breton, one. That's the strategy this government has for Cape Breton, Mr. Speaker, one business from Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I suggest that that Premier . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . get down and start talking to Canadian National about their responsibility to take up that line in Cape Breton where the United States company is leaving . . .

MR. SPEAKER: I was going to (Interruption) Order, please. I was going to remind the honourable member for Cape Breton South that it wasn't proper to indicate either the presence or absence of a member of the House but anyway he's taken his seat.

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. (Interruptions)

Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it wasn't me who made reference to the member. The member put a statement in the Cape Breton Post that he was heading a delegation of business people down to the United States, so Nova Scotians know that that member is absent from the House today and I would . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. He did not say it in the House. It's not proper in the House to indicate the presence or absence.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Well, I won't say it in the House anymore either.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. (Laughter)

The honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury on an introduction.

MR. RONALD CHISHOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and I am in the House. (Laughter)

[Page 11118]

Mr. Speaker, through you and to all members of the House, we have in the gallery a young lad who is job-sharing with his dad today, Andrew MacDonald, job-sharing with his father, Bernie MacDonald, from the Department of Energy. I would ask all members of the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have a Ministerial Statement, with your permission.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTER

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, earlier today I had the honour of attending an accreditation ceremony in Bedford for the province's medical communications centre. The paramedics in this facility coordinate all requests for ground and air ambulance service in Nova Scotia. Each year they handle 95,000 requests for ground ambulance transport and more than 900 requests for air ambulance transport. These health professionals also provide medical advice over the phone while an ambulance is on its way to the scene of the emergency.

It was my pleasure to present staff from this facility with their first international accreditation as a centre of excellence. Our centre, Mr. Speaker, is one of only five facilities in Canada, and indeed 73 in the world, to receive this honour and I'm proud and grateful that we have this kind of service here to help Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, the centre's ability to coordinate a response in an emergency is truly impressive as we witnessed with Swissair and more recently, the Stewiacke train derailment 18 months ago. Just as important is how this team manages its very busy daily routine. I have had the opportunity to visit this facility more than once and I am always impressed by what I see. This accreditation reflects the commitment of all the staff associated with the design, development, implementation and management of the ambulance dispatch centre.

Mr. Speaker, I want to congratulate the paramedics who staff this facility and also congratulate staff from Emergency Medical Care and our own staff from Emergency Health Services for their work in making our facility a centre of excellence.

[Page 11119]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to, first off, thank the minister for providing me with a copy of his statement prior to coming to the House today.

[2:30 p.m.]

I, too, would join with members of our caucus in extending congratulations to the women and men of the province's medical communication centre, who have earned this international accreditation as a centre of excellence. I, too, am happy to say that I've had a chance to visit the centre and have been very impressed, not only by the bells and whistles - the technology is truly awesome, I guess you could say - but what is really impressive is the obvious professionalism of the personnel who staff this centre and the kind of commitment and dedication that they bring to their very important role in our health care system - a role that is increasingly important as we see services concentrated in certain parts of the province and more remote areas left, really, in situations where it's absolutely critical that we have a professional and highly-dedicated team of health care personnel who can respond quickly to emergencies and medical situations around the province.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat. It's a good day to hear this announcement. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for his announcement today in recognition of the Nova Scotia Ambulance Dispatch Centre and those who serve, and also those in his own department, in EHS. Truly, this is one of the great credits to our health care system in this province that's recognized internationally now. Also, studies have indicated that this pre-hospital care system that's been enacted under EHS in this province is tops in North America.

I have a resolution prepared for later, so I will not take the time of the House now - I will be reading my resolution under that heading - other than to say that I think a visit to that centre really, truly, puts you in touch with what is happening and the difficult decisions that have to be made, the care that they give. I know persons in my riding who have had choking infants, who have been talked through the process of reviving that child, or young infant, obviously a direct saving of life every day that doesn't make the headlines.

When this centre is recognized - and hopefully there will be some headlines on that as truly every day they are doing a duty and a job for the people of this province that deserves headlines. Today they deserve our thanks and our recognition, and I am pleased to be able to comment on the minister's message here today at the House. (Applause)

[Page 11120]

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 4483

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

Whereas on Tuesday, 178 sailors of HMCS Halifax were awarded with the first South West Asia Service Medal, part of the Canadian Honours System established in 1967; and

Whereas the medal was created to recognize the service of individuals who participated in operations against terrorism after September 11th; and

Whereas recipients of the medals were the first Canadians who left our shores to answer the call of duty on the Arabian Sea;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House salute the medal recipients of HMCS Halifax for their service during Operation Apollo and remember that our military personnel continue to serve on this mission in the fight against terrorism.

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 Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 4484

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

Whereas the Public Archives of Nova Scotia has launched the Mi'kmaq Resource Guide; and

[Page 11121]

Whereas this guide provides on-line access to archival and library materials relating to Mi'kmaq throughout Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas the on-line guide incorporates records, published material, sound recordings and film clips rarely seen outside the Archives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the importance of this on-line guide and its contribution to a greater public awareness, understanding and appreciation of Mi'kmaq culture and traditions.

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. 4485

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 Emergency Health Services medical communications centre has received an international accreditation as a centre for excellence; and

Whereas this centre coordinates all ground and air ambulance transports in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the paramedics in this centre also provide medical advice over the phone;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize this milestone and congratulate the paramedics who staff this facility, as well as EMC and EHS on receiving this accreditation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11122]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 4486

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: M. le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que à chaque année, la FANE décerne le Certificat de mérite Léger Comeau; et

Attendu que le Certificat de mérite est décerné à une personne qui a contribué de façon exceptionnelle à la promotion du peuple acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse; et

Attendu que cette année, à son assemblée annuelle, la FANE reconnaissait Monsieur Rodolphe Doucet de Wedgeport pour son travail exceptionnel en éducation et son déveouement au développement de sa communauté;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses félicitations à Monsieur Rodolphe Doucet pour sa contribution communautaire et remercie la FANE pour tout son travail envers le développement de la communauté acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in English.

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

Whereas each year, la FANE awards the Certificat of Merit Léger Comeau; and

Whereas the certificate of merit is given to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the promotion of the Acadian community of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 11123]

Whereas at this year's annual general meeting la FANE recognized Mr. Rodolphe Doucet of Wedgeport for his exceptional work in education and his commitment to the development of his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Doucet for his contribution to the community and extend its thanks to la FANE for its tireless work towards the development of the Acadian community.

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 the Public Service Commission.

RESOLUTION NO. 4487

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

Whereas across the country, Grade 9 students are learning about the world of work today by participating in Take Our Kids to Work Day; and

Whereas this program demonstrates to students the clear link between a good education and a good job; and

Whereas 10,700 Nova Scotia students from 109 schools will gain insight today to help them make decisions about their futures;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House thank teachers, parents and workplaces for giving students the opportunity to safely participate in this valuable and educational program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11124]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4488

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

Whereas Mr. Webster Andrews, Mr. John Murray, Mr. Roger Aggas and Mr. Marty Murphy, four employees of the Department of Natural Resources, recently received the prestigious Federal Provincial Parks Council Merit Award at the council's Fall meeting in Halifax; and

Whereas this award is given only to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to Canadian parks; and

Whereas these four DNR employees are deserving of this award because of their outstanding contributions to our provincial park system;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the House offer congratulations to these four individuals for their significant efforts over the years in ensuring visitors experience a pleasant stay in Nova Scotia's provincial parks.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 11125]

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 4489

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

Whereas the African Nova Scotia Music Association held its 5th Annual Music Awards show last weekend at Alderney Landing Theatre; and

Whereas in its short history, the association has made many great strides in developing, promoting and enhancing African Nova Scotian music, both locally, nationally and internationally;

Whereas Shane Colley, Hallelujah Praise Choir, Harvey Millar, Jamie Sparks, Papa Grand, Linda Carvery, M2R Entertainment, Davey Wells and Dr. Sylvia Hamilton all took home honours at Saturday's awards show;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House join me in congratulating the winners and the association for ensuring that African-Nova Scotian musicians have an opportunity to be showcased and celebrated.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 4490

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

[Page 11126]

Whereas Nova Scotia's wild blueberry production accounts for approximately one-half of the total Canadian production and is the highest value fruit crop in Nova Scotia with export sales in excess of $50 million annually; and

Whereas strong partnership and funding programs from industry and government have made it possible to develop a wild blueberry research centre in Debert, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the facility, operated by the Nova Scotia Agricultural College in conjunction with the Nova Scotia Wild Blueberry Institute and the Wild Blueberry Producers Association will address an increasing demand for research and development activities as well as training for highly skilled workers in the wild blueberry industry;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House applaud the industry, the government and the college for collective effort to help enhance the growth and development of the wild blueberry industry in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4491

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

Whereas the Minister of Health declared yesterday that his government is not impoverishing seniors in nursing homes when it forces them to pay for health care; and

[Page 11127]

Whereas the Minister of Health also declared that the long-term care system is fairer than ever before and it is in that sense that it curries no favour with any one person or group as it systematically strips seniors of their assets; and

Whereas the Minister of Health should try selling that bill of goods to the 101 year old who has had her pocket picked of $300,000 and counting from her life savings in order to get the care she requires - and there are others;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health acknowledge that his long-term care system is leaving seniors bereft of assets and savings by forcing them to pay for their health care.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 4492

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

Whereas the Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities is holding their annual meeting in Halifax this week; and

Whereas the UNSM represents all 55 Nova Scotia municipal governments who provide the level of government that has been called the closest to the people; and

Whereas the concerns of the UNSM represent the concerns of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature wish the UNSM well on this year's meeting and encourage the provincial government to keep the lines of communication between the province and the UNSM open at all times.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 11128]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queen's.

RESOLUTION NO. 4493

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

Whereas Maxwell L. MacLeod of Milton has completed his first published work, a book entitled The Liverpool and Milton Railway; and

Whereas the work covers three important phases in the life of the Liverpool and Milton Railway: its early days, its purchase from the Halifax and Southwestern Railroad in 1907 and its takeover by the Canadian National Railroad in 1919; and

Whereas the Liverpool and Milton Railroad train passed by the front door of the MacLeod family home in Milton several times a day as the train made its round trips between the Liverpool waterfront and the pulp mills located on the Mersey River;

Therefore be it resolved that this House commend Max MacLeod for writing the book, The Liverpool and Milton Railway and for preserving this important part of history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:45 p.m.]

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources on an introduction.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to make an introduction to the House of a number of students who are on a job-shadowing exercise today. They are shadowing Dr. Scott Swinden, my Executive Director in the Department of Natural Resources, the Minerals Division. With him is his son, Ben from Fairview Junior

[Page 11129]

High School, Joshua Ford from Fairview Junior High School, Natalie Arnold from Bicentennial School, Mike MacMullan from Tantallon Junior High School, and Jesse Morrisey from Graham Creighton Junior High School. I would ask them to stand and receive the welcome of all members of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 4494

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

Whereas the Premier says he has a plan to help seniors in long-term care with the costs of their health care; and

Whereas any plan worth its salt would surely be the product of consultations with the people and groups affected by changes in the long-term care system; and

Whereas it is clear that the Department of Health is just beginning consultations with the stakeholders in its long-term care system in the next few weeks;

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier admit that he has no plan for long-term care, other than a vague promise with no timelines to do anything about the basic unfairness of his government forcing seniors to pay for their health care costs while in long-term care.

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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4495

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

[Page 11130]

Whereas Nova Scotia's Ambulance Dispatch Centre has been given international accreditation for the excellent work the centre has done since the centre's opening; and

Whereas when an individual needs an ambulance, they are there to ensure the ambulance is sent and are available on the line to assist in any way they can whether they are needed to coach a person through life-saving techniques or to be a reassuring voice on the other end of the phone; and

Whereas the Ambulance Dispatch employees are trained professionals, who are at the top of their field in paramedicine, who not only work in the dispatch centre but spend time out on the ambulances to ensure their skills remain sharp;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the employees of Nova Scotia's Ambulance Dispatch Centre for their continuous professionalism and their international accreditation.

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 Yarmouth.

RESOLUTION NO. 4496

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

Whereas on October 26th, the Minister of Tourism and Culture and I joined residents of Yarmouth and representatives from the Scotia Prince Cruises for the official opening of the new Canadian headquarters of Scotia Prince; and

Whereas Scotia Prince is a long-standing and valued partner with this province, playing an important role in our tourism industry and providing a strong link for the exchange of goods between Portland and Yarmouth; and

[Page 11131]

Whereas Scotia Prince is not only opening a Canadian headquarters in Yarmouth, but is also bringing 50 new jobs to the area;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in welcoming Scotia Prince's headquarters to Yarmouth, and in recognizing the positive impact Scotia Prince continues to have on our tourism industry and economy as a whole.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 4497

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

Whereas November marks the National Adoption Awareness Month; and

Whereas for those involved in the adoption world, this time should be about celebration, gratitude and hope rather than anger and disillusionment; and

Whereas currently 600 adopted Nova Scotians may have to wait three years to have their requests answered for information on their birth parents, and many have given up hope of ever getting it;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services, in this National Adoption Awareness Month, commit the resources required to provide adopted Nova Scotians with the information to which they are now entitled on their birth parents and on a timely basis.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11132]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 4498

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

Whereas Jack Neary, Operations Manager for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality and Fire Chief for the City of Sydney, was the recipient of the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 40 years of service; and

Whereas the medal recognizes firefighters who have served in an exemplary manner, exhibiting good conduct and efficiency; and

Whereas the community is indebted to firefighters such as Mr. Neary for their service in performing such a dangerous and difficult duty in an effort to serve and protect;

Therefore be it resolved that each member of this House of Assembly congratulate Jack Neary on receiving the Fire Services Exemplary Service Medal for 40 years of 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 Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction.

[Page 11133]

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, it is my pleasure to introduce to the House today, in the gallery opposite, Frank Dunn. Frank is with Treasury and Policy Board, a Financial Analyst. He has with him today, participating in Take Our Kids to Work Program, his son, Matthew. Matthew, Frank. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 4499

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

Whereas the Vineyard Family Christian Ministry in Sackville recently celebrated the grand opening of a new facility in Middle Sackville; and

Whereas this accomplishment represents a huge step forward in the faith community who will worship at this new facility and will be of tremendous benefit to the entire community; and

Whereas the new ministry house the Avoda Café in addition to functioning as a worship centre;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Vineyard Christian Family Ministry on its grand opening and offer best wishes in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4500

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

[Page 11134]

Whereas more than 40 residents are living in Captain Spry Lodge, a seniors' home, at 6 Arnold Drive in Spryfield; and

Whereas these elderly residents are often required to climb two flights of stairs in the course of their daily activities, lugging groceries and other packages due to the lack of an elevator in the building; and

Whereas this problem has been presented to successive governments over the past many years with no action being taken by any of the responsible ministers;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services do the right thing, undertake immediate action to have an elevator installed in Captain Spry Lodge seniors' residence so as to ease the burden of our senior citizens who have contributed so much to our society.

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4501

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

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Health indicated today before the Public Accounts Committee that Pharmacare premiums and co-pays might rise in the next budget; and

Whereas this demonstrates once again that the government will attack the most vulnerable in society as it has on two separate occasions when it hiked premiums and co-pays; and (Interruption)

Well, if the minister wasn't here, do you want me to start again, Mr. Speaker? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West can continue, please.

[Page 11135]

MR. DOWNE: Okay, I'll start again.

Whereas the Deputy Minister of Health indicated today before the Public Accounts Committee that Pharmacare premiums and co-pays might rise in the next budget; and

Whereas this demonstrates once again that the government will attack the most vulnerable in society as it has on two separate occasions when it hiked premiums and co-pays; and

Whereas these actions are a far cry from the Hamm leadership that once called upon government to eliminate Pharmacare premiums;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge the Premier and his Cabinet to help alleviate the anxiety of seniors by ensuring that premiums and co-pay do not go up at budget time next spring.

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 Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 4502

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

Whereas the Friends of the River John Library Society were honoured in September at a conference of the Canadian Libraries Association in Halifax; and

Whereas Rev. Don Sutherland represented the society as it received the Friend of the Year Award and with it $500 worth of Random House Publishing Company books; and

Whereas this award is presented annually, by the Canadian Libraries Association, to a society for the contributions it makes to its local library;

[Page 11136]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislative Assembly commend the Friends of the River John Library Society as they diligently work toward raising the final $20,000 of the $100,000 that was required to provide for the new River John library.

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. 4503

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

Whereas Sarah Drake, a fifth-year soccer player with the University College of Cape Breton Capers, won the 2002 field hockey MVP award; and

Whereas throughout her university career Ms. Drake has consistently shown leadership and strength, winning Rookie of the Year award five years ago; and

Whereas Ms. Drake, who is seen as one of the hardest-working players in the league, ended this season tied for second place in scoring;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Drake (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor. Please start over, not only can I not hear, no one in the gallery can hear.

AN HON. MEMBER: They don't want to.

[Page 11137]

MR. SPEAKER: I think they do want to; they're here today to hear. I would ask the honourable members to please quiet down or take the conversations outside.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, would you like me to read it again?

MR. SPEAKER: Yes.

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

Whereas Sarah Drake, a fifth-year soccer player with the University College of Cape Breton Capers, won the 2002 field hockey MVP award; and

Whereas throughout her university career Ms. Drake has consistently shown leadership and strength, winning Rookie of the Year award five years ago as well; and

Whereas Ms. Drake, who is seen as one of the hardest-working players in the league, ended this season tied for second place in scoring;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Ms. Drake for her continued show of excellence.

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. 4504

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

[Page 11138]

Whereas the Bridgetown Visitor's Information Centre had a phenomenal season of growth as it provided useful information to tourists passing through, while also promoting the town's many features; and

Whereas the centre averaged 1,200 to 1,300 visitors a month, an increase of 200 tourists per month over 2001; and

Whereas the Bridgetown Visitor's Information Centre manager, Linda Connell cited the increase in tourists as mainly coming from the Canadian West and from the Atlantic Seaboard of the United States;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the hard work of manager Linda Connell and her staff at the Bridgetown Visitor's Information Centre in the summer of 2002, while wishing for even better things in 2003.

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 Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 4505

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

Whereas the earliest recorded attempt at organizing and administering agriculture in Nova Scotia took place in 1789, the establishment of the industry taking place at Colonial Societies in Horton, Kings County; and

Whereas the Halifax County-East Hants Federation of Agriculture held its annual meeting in Carroll's Corner, Halifax County, last night, returning John Dillman of Elderbank, Halifax County, as the President; and

[Page 11139]

Whereas Halifax County is second in the province in goat farming, with 600 goats on 12 farms, while Hants County dairy farms produce enough milk annually to provide one and a half glasses per day to every resident in the Halifax Regional Municipality;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs recognize the significant impact of agriculture and the industry in Halifax-East Hants and wish all farmers continued success in their production of food for the dinner tables here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I would ask all members to remember that farmers feed us all, and 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. 4506

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 Cobequid Educational Centre golf team defeated 15 others to win the 2002 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Championship; and

Whereas the event was co-ed and the CEC team consisted of Allison Cox, Donald Cox, Heather Pothier, Jennifer Brine and Coach, Nevin Jackson; and

Whereas the tournament was particularly challenging because of rain and wind;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the CEC golf team for winning the 2002 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Championship and wish all its members success in the future.

[Page 11140]

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 4507

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

Whereas Canadians played an instrumental role in freeing the Netherlands from German control in World War II; and

Whereas five members of the Inverness Legion Branch 132 are receiving or have already received the Dutch Medal of Remembrance for their efforts to liberate the Nazi-occupied Netherlands; and

Whereas the recipients of the award are Colin Campbell, Donald MacDonnell, Bert LeRoy Carver, Alex Hawley, and John Alex MacMillan;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate these five men on their receipt of the Dutch Medal of Remembrance and express our gratitude for the noble service they provided to our country as well as so many other nations during World War II.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 11141]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 4508

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

Whereas The City of Lakes Barbershop Chorus recently travelled to Lake Placid, New York, to compete in the International Northeastern District Barbershop Chorus competition for the first time in 12 years; and

Whereas the chorus was the only Canadian chorus present to compete against some of the best barbershop choruses in the world from New England and New York States; and

Whereas the chorus was well received and placed 13th out of 23, singing one of our province's most loved and well-known songs, Rita MacNeil's "She's Called Nova Scotia";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ian Ferguson and the members of the City of Lakes chorus for their dedication and enthusiasm for promoting their craft so well, for carrying the tune of our province to entertain an international audience and wish them the best in their 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 Environment and Labour.

[Page 11142]

RESOLUTION NO. 4509

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

Whereas the induction of Cambridge resident Mark Smith into Nova Scotia's Sports Hall of Fame over the weekend resulted in the first husband-wife duo to be inducted into the Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Mark Smith, presently Head Coach of Canada's National Men's Softball Team, will also be inducted into the International Softball Congress Hall of Fame in Kimberly, Wisconsin, next summer; and

Whereas Mark's wife, Ann Dodge, an Olympic paddler, was a 1994 inductee;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly recognize the tremendous athletic talents of both Ann Dodge and Mark Smith, and wish Mark continued success as the Canadian national men's team coach.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:04 p.m. and end at 4:34 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: PREM. - INDIFFERENCE ADMIT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: My question is for the Premier. This government's response to the crisis with nursing home fees is, we would love to pay for it, we just don't

[Page 11143]

have the money. The truth is the government can find the money for things that it deems to be priorities, like $13.5 million in marketing; $1.5 million in payroll rebates for Xerox, a company worth $17 billion, $17 billion, because this fits into their budget - people don't. The fact is, the money is there, it's the will that's lacking in this government. I ask the Premier, will you admit your Party simply doesn't have the political will to address the grossly unfair long-term care fees and the system in this province?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I just want to refresh the members of the House that our reaction to the whole continuing-care spectre in Nova Scotia over the past three years has been remarkable. Indeed, we have increased home care by 40 per cent over the last three years. We've increased the long-term care budget by 38 per cent and don't tell me that's not a commitment.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Health made a Freudian slip, it is a spectre and it is haunting this government. This government has announced $677 million in spending, since May 31st of this year, spending on things like paving, grants, new programs and advertising. Yet this government can't find the money to address the indignity and injustice thrust upon the elderly ill of our province. My question to the Premier is this, why aren't the seniors in nursing homes of this province one of your spending priorities?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up a good point because he talks about the priorities of Nova Scotians and Nova Scotians have indicated that they do have priorities and they expect government to effectively address all of their priorities. Health care is a priority. Is the member suggesting that we abandon the school system, that we don't put additional money into education? Is he suggesting that we let the roads of the province fall into further disrepair? I think not. What the member opposite would clearly like to do is to indicate that the government is not concerned about seniors which is far from the case. The Minister of Health has just indicated to the member opposite the tremendous commitment that we have to seniors and the tremendous increase in money we're putting towards the long-term care sector and that commitment will continue.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, every day this government impoverishes seniors requiring care and not just them, their families, their spouses, with little regard to their personal dignity or needs. It's wrong and every member on that side of the floor knows it's wrong. They know it's wrong. I ask the Premier, which is more important - putting money into advertising and big business handouts or righting the injustice of our nursing home fee structure in this province?

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

[Page 11144]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I take a fairly strong objection to some of the language being used by the Leader of the Opposition. He's using the word impoverish improperly. The other thing which bothers me is the staff in the department in our continuing-care sector who administer these policies are caring, responsible people and to stand up in the House of Assembly where they have no opportunity to defend themselves and take cheap shots is inexcusable.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B. RAIL: PREM. - INTENTIONS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. The Premier is aware the rail link to the Cape Breton Regional Municipality is about to be severed. The Premier and his ministers have been silent on this issue. They have not indicated any viable solution, only a poor attempt earlier today at spindoctoring. There was no indication by this government that there has been any success in getting Nova Scotia Power to use the line and, worst of all, this government has not adequately pressed CN to live up to their responsibilities to take over the line. When is Mr. Tellier going to be contacted by the Premier in order to fulfill his mandate that the Premier knows is there? My question to the Premier is, is the Premier going to demonstrate leadership on this issue or is he simply giving up on the future of Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Economic Development has worked feverishly in recent weeks and months to put together a business plan for the railroad that makes sense and that will guarantee the sustainability of the line between Sydney and Port Hawkesbury. He will continue, over the next five months, to work with Emera, CN, Rail America and all of the other stakeholders to put together a business plan that will allow the rail line to be sustainable. We need a private sector solution, and we will work towards that private sector solution.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the minister he refers to is now the minister of no development in Nova Scotia because there isn't any department left. It's not even a ministry anymore. He's talking about the Minister of Economic Development helping out Cape Breton. That minister has done absolutely nothing except run around Cape Breton Island telling the world down there what a great job the Premier and his government are doing, when in fact (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, and they're all clapping over there because instead of that minister doing his job down there, he's running around talking politics at every public meeting he goes to and says, re-elect us and we will do something for you, re-elect us. I have news for him, the one person left in the Tory caucus in industrial Cape Breton is gone after the next election, I can tell you that.

[Page 11145]

Mr. Speaker, my first supplementary, the corporate plan tabled yesterday clearly indicates that the government is trying to spin only economic good news. That plan, by the way, is also known as the Rumsfeld/Baillie indoctrination plan for civil servants. My supplementary question to the Premier is, since this government took office 2,600 people have left Cape Breton and 1,800 jobs have been lost, when is the Premier going to stop patting himself on the back and start paying attention to the Cape Breton economy, especially this rail situation?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to be able to report to the member opposite, who perhaps hasn't been watching, the mere fact that in the three years that we have been government, we have created more jobs in three years than that government created in six. There are more people today working in Cape Breton than at any time in the last 25 years. We will continue to focus on economic development and opportunities for the people of CBRM. We have been effective so far; we will continue to be effective on their behalf.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is not telling Nova Scotians the true story here. The true story is that his own department statistics, the Department of Economic Development, which is no longer a ministry, states clearly that there are less jobs in Cape Breton now than there were when the previous government was in office. His own people tell him that.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I want to say to you and to the members opposite that this Premier and this government have completely forgotten about Cape Breton. As a matter of fact, he's making another election promise here today that he's going to solve the problems of the railway. Of course that's an election promise, that won't happen until after the next election and he won't be around to worry about it at that time. My final supplementary is, when will the Premier demonstrate some integrity of his office and tell the people of Cape Breton what you're going to do to make CN live up to its commitment to the people of Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the commitment of this government to Cape Breton is obvious. We've been working on their behalf for over three years, very effectively. We will continue to focus on this file. We will work with Emera, we will work with CN, we will work with Rail America, we will work with all of the stakeholders to bring together a private sector solution to save the rail line.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE PLANS: RELEASE - TIME FRAME

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are waiting for an answer from this government on long-term care fees. In fact, a family recently indicated that they are putting off having their elderly parent assessed for care until they hear what this government

[Page 11146]

is going to do to address this situation. Over 18,000 Nova Scotians who signed the petition that was tabled here yesterday are also waiting to hear from the Premier. My question to the Premier is simple, how much longer will they have to wait for an answer?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the Nova Scotians to whom the Leader of the Opposition refers can rest assured the government is working towards a plan to, step-by-step, mitigate the long-term care sector issue that the member brings to the House. The member opposite, while he's not prepared perhaps to say so today, must acknowledge the fact that we've had a number of challenges in health care delivery We have addressed many of them, but not all, and we will, as we have in the past with the other issues, address this one.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, every day that this government spends dragging its feet on this issue uses up $68,000 in seniors' savings. That's the cost of health care to seniors in long-term care facilities; that's money for service that would be free in any other setting.

I ask the Premier, Mr. Speaker, how much more seniors' hard-earned savings are you willing to unjustly spend while you and the Minister of Health stall on giving Nova Scotians a plan for long-term care fees?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed the strides that this government has made in providing long-term care to Nova Scotians are, I think, great. I think one of the things that the honourable member doesn't put on the floor too often is that admission to a nursing home in Nova Scotia is not based on income, it's based on need. Eighty per cent of the people who are receiving long-term care in this province are subsidized or fully paid for by the province, and to indicate that the province is not paying for health care for seniors is a gross misrepresentation of the actual situation.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister never says is that the reason why they subsidize 80 per cent of the people in long-term care facilities is because they've already taken everything from them; that's why they have to subsidize them. The clock is ticking and seniors' savings are disappearing every day, and the government has the option of passing our bill this session, so I want to ask the Premier if his government doesn't take action to address this issue during this session, why won't you at least make any decision retroactive to when you initially said you would announce a plan?

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

[Page 11147]

MR. MUIR: Mr Speaker, as I said before, this is not a new issue that the honourable member brings to the floor of this House, it's one that this government, and I am sure the previous government wrestled with during its time in office. It's not an easy issue. The fact is, we (Interruptions)

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

MR. MUIR: Our priority in the first three years of our mandate was care, Mr. Speaker, and we invested heavily in care in the continuing care sector. It's care that we're interested in, not scare.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - STRAIT-RICHMOND HOSP. PHYSICIAN:

RECRUITMENT - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, once again the Minister of Health and this government have clearly displayed their lack of interest in the recruitment of physicians to rural Nova Scotia. In August of this year the government, including the Tory MLA for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, announced with great fanfare the arrival of an emergency room doctor for the Strait- Richmond Hospital, to start on November , 2002.

Mr. Speaker, now we have learned that the doctor in question, from Newfoundland, after being sponsored by the local district health authority arrived in this province, obtained a billing number, and is now charging the taxpayers of Nova Scotia to practice medicine in Dartmouth. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the sad thing is that this doctor has absolutely no intention of coming to the Strait-Richmond Hospital. My question to the minister is, can the minister explain how a doctor could come into our province, renege on his commitment to the Strait-Richmond Hospital, obtain a billing number and practice in Dartmouth without the knowledge of the minister or any of his staff?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have a great deal of sympathy for the statements of the honourable member for Richmond. Indeed there was a position we had worked very hard with the Strait board and the people in that community to recruit a physician into that area and there was a person who agreed to come and indeed I'm told that he did. I don't even know if he stopped there on his way to Dartmouth, maybe the honourable member for Dartmouth East knows something about that, but the fact is they are independent business people and it happened. We will continue to work with the community and with the board to find a replacement.

[Page 11148]

MR. SAMSON: You know, Mr. Speaker, what do you say to an answer like that when a minister says a doctor could walk into this province, get a billing number, start practising in this province, the minister who said the Strait-Richmond Hospital is a priority, and that his staff did not even know that this doctor was practising in this province at a different institution. Absolute shame. The Strait-Richmond Hospital under this government has now been eight months without a daytime or a weekend emergency room doctor. With this government's boondoggle, recruitment efforts have been suspended since that August announcement by the minister and the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury. So nothing has been done since then.

Mr. Speaker, this government continues to claim they have a plan for health care in this province. My question to the minister is, can he tell us today when that health care plan will include emergency room health services at the Strait-Richmond Hospital?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, our plan does include emergency room services at the Strait-Richmond Hospital and we will continue to work to find a person to practise there and, hopefully, the next person to commit will actually honour the commitment.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I have raised this issue dozens of times in this House. The local physician recruitment committee has clearly told the minister and the government that their efforts are insufficient. Changes have to be made to the compensation package and the way they are recruiting for the Strait-Richmond Hospital. Even the Premier when he was Leader of the Third Party in this House said that he supported the efforts of the Strait-Richmond Hospital.

Mr. Speaker, the government's corporate plan outlines a communications strategy to reduce the anxiety and the emotion surrounding the health care system in this province. This is clear proof that this government is more preoccupied with communications on health care rather than the everyday well-being of Nova Scotians. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor. (Interruption) Well, I wouldn't know if there was or not. There's so much noise who would know. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the corporate plan is clear proof that this government is more preoccupied with their communications strategy on health care rather than the everyday well-being of Nova Scotians. My question is, how is leaving a community without a doctor for eight months, an emergency room that is closed on weekdays and weekends, easing the anxiety and emotions of the people of Richmond County and the Strait area.

[Page 11149]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member does point out that there has been difficulty providing a person in the Strait-Richmond Hospital to act as an emergency room physician. He has not pointed out that another community in his constituency, that of Arichat, has never been so well doctored as it has been under this government. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I would ask the honourable members to shorten up the questions a bit, please, because it's taking a little bit extra long today.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE: INCREASE - PREVENT

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Seniors in this province are already struggling to pay their Pharmacare premiums and their Pharmacare co-pays, not to mention paying 100 per cent of the cost of the ever-increasing array of drugs that aren't covered by the Pharmacare Program, not to mention the array of user fees and higher taxes imposed by this government. This morning at the Public Accounts Committee the Deputy Minister of Health indicated that the government may again increase the premium or the co-pay or both, next year. My question to the Minister of Health is this, why will this government not give our seniors a break and rule out an increase in seniors' Pharmacare next year?

HON. JAMES MUIR: I don't know the context of it - I've heard it twice - the Deputy Minister made a comment today, but I want to assure the House that although we are going through the business planning process, the issue of Pharmacare premiums or anything else has not yet been raised. I suspect his answer was in response to a question if you get into your business planning process, will that be on the table? Well, everything in our department is on the table every year.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I didn't hear any reassurance to seniors in this province in terms of that question. In 1999, the Tamblyn Report in Quebec indicated that increases in premiums and co-pay can be linked to a higher incidence of hospitalization and institutionalization and death. We know that a study out of Dalhousie University recently looked at the same question Dr. George Kephart and his colleagues, and the study concluded that it's the co-pay that discourages seniors from properly taking their prescriptions. Yet two years ago, this government jacked up the cost of co-pay to 33 per cent or $350 and makes everyone pay it regardless of income. My question for the minister is, when will this government start making its Pharmacare decisions based on health outcomes rather than on budget outcomes?

MR. MUIR: The honourable member refers to a study in a semi-factual way. The fact is that particular study - which, by the way, was financed by the Department of Health because we're looking for evidence about the decisions that we make. We funded that study,

[Page 11150]

but the fact is, for that study they were paying a fee for prescriptions in the period in question - she would know this - it was from 1989-99. It was not recent data. It studied 24 specific cases. Even the gentleman who presented the paper recognized the limitations of the research.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: The minister talks about evidence. Mounting evidence that higher premiums and co-pay, costs the health care system more by discouraging seniors from taking medically necessary drugs as prescribed. It's not rocket science. Soon we will be seeing the Romanow Commission report which surely will include recommendations on rising drug costs. This will be the start of a national debate on the future of Pharmacare. Surely, it's the right time for this government to commit to holding off any increase in premium and co-pay for the next year. I want to ask the minister, will he make this commitment today - yes or no - no increase in Pharmacare premiums or co-pay?

MR. MUIR: I want to assure the honourable member that the national debate on Pharmacare isn't just starting. The national debate on Pharmacare has been going on for the three plus years that I've been Minister of Health and is on the table every time the Health Ministers get together either nationally or, in our case, the Atlantic area. In additionally, further impetus to the national debate was from Senator Kirby's report which was released two weeks ago and he had a proposal in there. I don't know, maybe the honourable member would like to stand up on what she thinks of Senator Kirby's proposal?

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT PLAN - EFFICACY

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: This government's corporate plan that was tabled yesterday outlines the government's intention to reduce the anxiety and emotion in the health care system. This government's corporate plan also outlines that the government has a physician recruiting plan and that it is working. Weymouth, located in Digby County, proves this is not the case. My question to the Minister of Health is, how can the minister say that the plan to recruit doctors to the region is working when the people of Weymouth and neighbouring communities are still in need for that immediate services of an additional doctor.

[3:30 p.m.]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government has been successful in physician recruitment, more so than most other jurisdictions in this country. Indeed, I believe this government, through our recruiting offices, recruited over 75 physicians in 20 months. Unfortunately, there are some communities, like the Strait-Richmond Hospital and like Weymouth and like my home community of Truro, where there are vacant positions which we continue to work to fill.

[Page 11151]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, the people of Weymouth and surrounding communities are in dire need of a doctor to assist Dr. Donald Westby, who continues to serve approximately 3,000 patients and probably more in that area. It's unacceptable that the Minister of Health is not reassuring those residents that their health concerns will not be placed in jeopardy. More importantly, the minister needs to recognize that this situation needs to be corrected immediately in order to prevent any deterioration to this doctor's well- being. My question to the minister is, what is the minister doing to correct this situation to ensure that the people of Weymouth and surrounding communities are included in their plan for health care and get the doctor they need?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the people in Weymouth and the surrounding communities are indeed in our plans. We have more doctors per capita than just about any place else in Canada. If you were to take the latest stats that have come out, the majority of Nova Scotians have a family doctor. I very much regret that there are people in his community and my community who have difficulty accessing . . . I want to tell you, the fact is that 95 per cent of Nova Scotians report that they have a family physician.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, as the petition I tabled today clearly shows, the people of Weymouth are upset that this government is doing nothing to assist them in providing them with a doctor. My question to the minister is, will the government ensure that Weymouth is reinstated on the province's priority list for the incentive family practice opportunities?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in our recruitment practices, we do have incentive packages. Incentive packages vary from community to community, depending on community needs and, indeed, other conditions. The situation in Weymouth is reconsidered regularly, and an appropriate recruitment strategy will continue to be in place there.

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

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE PLAN:

CONSULTATION - SCHEDULE EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday in this House the Premier would not disclose details of his government's plan to address the unfair way seniors entering long-term care facilities are treated. That could be because there is no plan. Our office learned today that groups involved in caregiving and long-term care issues have not been consulted on any plan. In fact, consultation is due to start in a couple of weeks. I ask the Premier, if your government has been working on a plan for several months, why is the consultation process just beginning?

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

[Page 11152]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we've been working on our plan for more than three years. Indeed, as I indicated, there is a Senior Citizens' Secretariat in this province, and it is now basically aligned with the Department of Health for some of the reasons that this honourable member is talking about. We have ongoing and regular consultations with the Senior Citizens' Secretariat and other seniors groups or groups that they deal with to give us advice and to provide input. We do that regularly.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest there's been no consultation because there's no plan. It wasn't and isn't on this government's radar screen to stop the punitive assessment measures that seniors face when they are entering long-term care facilities. The truth is the government is hoping that they can stall any announcement until the House is no longer sitting and the Opposition can't ask questions. My question to the Premier is simple, are you or are you not going to change long-term care during this session of the Legislature?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has had that question answered on several occasions, but I will choose this opportunity to remind the member opposite that the Minister of Health has been working on this issue. On or about April 1st he made a submission to the Romanow report that very clearly outlined the concerns of this government relative to its ability to provide long-term care for a growing number of seniors, which we have in this province, and he requested that that become part of the Canada Health Act and that part of the Romanow report would be directed at Ottawa and inviting them in the strongest possible way to become involved in all aspects of medical care delivery in the province.

MR. DEXTER: Perhaps the Premier just misunderstood the question, Mr. Speaker. The Department of Health's Business Plan for 2002-03 doesn't mention one word about addressing the harsh financial assessment of seniors. So I want to ask the Premier and give him a second opportunity to answer the question, a very simple question, are you or are you not going to change long-term care during this session of the Legislature?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the government is working to address this and many other issues and when the government's plan is ready, he will be informed, as will all Nova Scotians who are anxious to have the government make the right decisions on each and every challenge that's placed before government, and we will make the right decisions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: PHYSICIAN RECRUITMENT - ADDRESS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier as well. Yesterday, we learned that the Premier's corporate plan involves reducing the anxiety and emotion of Nova Scotians on the issue of health care. Obviously, this Premier doesn't have a pulse on

[Page 11153]

the people of Richmond County and Weymouth when it comes to physician recruitment. We've heard that today in the House. My question to the Premier is quite simply, when is the Premier going to stop telling people that they should be less emotional and start addressing the root causes of their anxieties in terms of physician recruitment.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, how fortunate it is for the government that it was the member for Dartmouth East who asked the government about its plan. I can remember so distinctly when I was in Opposition when that member, who was then the Minister of Health, was in Sydney making a health announcement and said in front of the media, we have no plan, we're making it up as we go along. This government has a plan and we will work our plan.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, once again, the Premier has chosen the House of Assembly to speak an untruth as to what I actually said in Sydney. I'm not going to rise on a point of privilege, but I could.

Mr. Speaker, they can't find doctors in Weymouth and they can't find doctors for the Strait-Richmond. They've had emergency room closures in Glace Bay, Springhill and Northside. My question simply to the Premier is, when are you going to take a leadership role, Mr. Premier and more importantly, you, as a physician, and simply address the concerns of these communities that we brought before the House here today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I do take the issue of physician recruitment very seriously. As a matter of fact, Monday of this week, I, along with the member for Pictou West and the member for Pictou East, met with our local district health authority to discuss physician requirements in our area. We take it seriously in our District Health Authority to discuss physician requirements in our area. We take it seriously in every area of the province and I can again remind the member opposite that in 20 months we have attracted 75 new physicians to Nova Scotia - a greater number than he was ever able to achieve in 20 months when he was Minister of Health.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, my final supplementary. Who would believe the figures from the Premier this afternoon, when we have physicians coming in, parking their furniture in one part of Nova Scotia and practising in another after they get billing numbers; and that Premier says he's got control. The plan of this government in health care is simply to put band-aid solutions to . . .

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

[Page 11154]

DR. SMITH: I don't know if I could get it right again. The plan of this government in health care is simply to put a band-aid solution on all the problems in health care in Nova Scotia and to roll that out under a corporate image and a spin-doctoring effect and call that the plan. That's what this government is doing.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: The Premier has had three years to get it right, people are tired of excuses. Why won't the Premier simply broker a solution to ensure that Nova Scotians will have access to the physicians that they need?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member brings a serious issue to the floor of the House - doctoring in the communities of Weymouth and Strait-Richmond. I commend the doctor in Weymouth for his resiliency in dealing with 3,000 patients. That is a tremendous challenge for any physician in a rural community such as Weymouth. I sympathize with the committee at Strait-Richmond that I had met with and that had worked very hard to attract a physician for the emergency department there. I can assure the people in those two communities that this government and that minister will continue to work with them until their physician deficiency is resolved.

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

HEALTH - NURSING HOME FEES INFO.:

PREM./HEALTH MIN. - DISCREPANCY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm hoping the Premier can offer some clarification on nursing home fees. He says the government will do something about seizing seniors' savings because since they've come to power, they've taken more than $80 million out of the pockets of seniors. The Minister of Health meanwhile stated in a media article today that seniors are not being impoverished, that that does not occur. One of those two do not have their facts straight. I ask the Premier, why is there such a misalignment of fact between himself and the Minister of Health?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the one thing that is becoming increasingly apparent is that the member opposite isn't quite sure what he wants to ask. If he wants to ask, are we concerned about seniors? The answer is yes. Are we working on a plan to mitigate what's happening in the long-term care sector? The answer is yes. The government is committed to addressing these issues, but we have many issues, not only one issue. We will address each and every issue the way we've addressed issues over the last three and a-half years - slowly, deliberately and effectively.

[Page 11155]

MR. DEXTER: They got slowly right, at least. That's for certain, Mr. Speaker. It would appear that there is a bit of a communication problem in the Cabinet. The Premier has admitted in the media that the present system of forcing seniors to deplete their savings to pay for health care in nursing homes is unfair. Meanwhile, the Minister of Health has stated in a media report this morning that the nursing home fee system is fairer than ever; fairer than it has ever been before. My question to the Premier is this, who are we supposed to believe? Him or the Minister of Health?

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed, I'm glad that the honourable member did reference that because one of the things that we have done - and he should know this because he was among the people, the administrators, who were responsible for a long-term care policy. The policy in Dartmouth, when he was an alderman was more restrictive than the one that is in place now and he's got to admit that, Mr. Speaker. It's one thing you just can't wash your hands of. It was no issue for him when he was an alderman. Let me tell you, though, that one of the things that we have done (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. That's enough. The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition on your final supplementary.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, some days the Minister of Health truly amazes me. That was the most nonsensical answer I've heard him give yet and that has got to be some kind of a record. The Premier says he has a plan to fix long-term care but his Minister of Health denies that there's even a problem. My question to the Premier is, how can Nova Scotians believe you are going to address this issue when you and your senior Cabinet Ministers can't even get your stories straight?

[3:45 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that I believe the public is getting the appropriate message that the government is working to solve a number of issues that the present government is dealing with as a result of the system that we inherited. Medical care in this province was never perfect. It's not perfect today. We are improving it. There are a number of challenges ahead and the member opposite brings one to the attention of the government and we are working on the issue and we will solve the issue.

[Page 11156]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CHILDREN'S MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES:

OUT-OF-PROV. TREATMENT - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. The Tory corporate plan identifies mental health as one of the priorities. Yet families across Nova Scotia are still suffering the devastation of a child who requires mental health services that are not available in this province. My question to the minister, can the Minister of Health inform the House the current number of children who have been sent away from their communities and from their families for treatment outside the province and the cost of that treatment for the year?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I can provide the detailed information on costs. I don't have it with me, but I will see that you get it. What I can tell the honourable member is that the three-year funding given to the district health authorities should enable them to plan more effectively for mental health services. Secondly, there is a working group in the department that will soon be presenting a report that will hopefully have a Nova Scotia solution to the group of children of whom you are speaking.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we have received a copy of a document Time for Action, I don't know if that's what the minister is referring to, but this offers a plan to provide mental health services for children and youth closer to home and funding for this initiative was announced in the budget and a report was presented to government in May, 2002. My question to the minister is, does the Minister of Health have a plan to actually implement the recommendations of this report which is Time for Action and would receive some relief of the distress of the children and their families or have they been consigned to the Premier's in-box?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member raises a very sensitive issue because we are deeply concerned about the mental health services for children in this province, particularly those who have quite acute needs. He perhaps remembers that in the Bland/Dufton report that was released two years ago in response to that, we had a steering committee established to develop a strategic plan for implementing its recommendations. The steering committee has completed draft documents and it maps out a plan for implementing those recommendations. The documents will soon be going to our senior leadership team and the estimated cost to implement those recommendations is about $20 million.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for that information and I hope that means a commitment to get along quickly with implementation on this sensitive issue, particularly for children and families.

[Page 11157]

Mr. Speaker, some families are certainly making some gut-wrenching decisions to give up their children and place them in care, actually in the care of the province, in order to access necessary mental health services. My question to the Minister of Health is, when will this government act with sincere respect and compassion to help those families manage without being separated from their children, rather than the sham sincerity that is serving Nova Scotians so poorly?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we're building a mental health system that can take care of Nova Scotians throughout their lives. We have a plan, and it's going to take some time to implement it. We won't be able to do it overnight. I've also indicated it's expensive, and each year, as our budget allows, we will be putting the money in to address more and more of those recommendations. It's not going to be an instant fix, although the group of children to whom you are referring, I hope we will be able to announce a solution for them before too long.

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

ECON. DEV. - C.B. RAIL LINE: INVESTMENT - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. The Premier, along with many of us here in the House yesterday, learned about the devastating news for the economy of Cape Breton from the URB regarding the rail line. It was truly a devastating situation, and it got worse today with this nonsensical statement made by this Premier in this House today. This Premier and his government had a choice three years ago, when the gypsum mine was going to Melford, you could have invested in a rail spur, which that rail line says would have gone a long way to supporting the growth and the economic viability of that line. Why did you turn your back on Cape Bretoners?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that we will continue our interest in the Cape Breton economy. We have had tremendous success in building an economy in Cape Breton, despite the loss of two of the cornerstone industries. We will continue to work. I'm pleasantly surprised when I go to Cape Breton now at the enthusiasm I meet on the streets of CBRM. I'm enthused when I talk to the businesspeople there who say business is now better in Cape Breton than it has been for decades.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, obviously this ivory-tower-living Premier didn't speak to people at Cobalt Industries. He didn't speak to the industries over in SydPort that can't get their goods out, thanks to an action by your government, Mr. Premier. I don't know what street you were on or what you were drinking when you were there, it must have been something in the water. (Interruptions)

[Page 11158]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. (Interruptions) Order, please. The honourable member would know that that would not be parliamentary. I would ask you to retract that, please.

MR. CORBETT: On your request I will retract that, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre has the floor.

MR. CORBETT: I don't know which type of milk he was drinking (Interruptions) when he was there, because that's not what industry is saying now. This Premier knows, his own EDM report study that he paid for talks about the value of those ports and the connection of the rail lines, yet you've done nothing to support the rail lines. Can you tell us in this House today what concrete measures you have had with groups like Emera, Logitech and PEV that will guarantee the future of that railway?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I am aware of the concern of the officials of Cobalt, relative to the service they received from the railroad. On the other hand, we have to work effectively with the major stakeholders that can provide the significant traffic that will be necessary to put the railroad on a secure financial footing. That will require a co-operative effort between Canadian National, Emera, Rail America and many other stakeholders. The government will continue to work as a facilitator to ensure that everyone is at the table and that the opportunity is there to provide the business plan that will work.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this Premier knows full well what Emera is going to do around trans-shipment of coal. It's going to get it dropped off at the old international piers and it's going to apply to the Minister of Environment and Labour for a larger lay-down area so he can put hundreds of thousands of tons of coal in Whitney Pier. It's not going to ship over rail and you know that.

Mr. Premier, you also know that by not ensuring the future of that railway, you're going to cause further stresses on the over-burdened highway system relative to safety and to the environment. So I want you, Mr. Premier, to tell us today, what are you doing to ensure that that railway will be here for generations to come? What are you doing?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I acknowledge the member opposite as being concerned about the railroad, the government is concerned. The difference between Opposition and government is that Opposition identifies the problems, government identifies the solution, and we will identify the solution.

[Page 11159]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - CBRM: SEWER BACKUP - NOTIFICATION

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. On September 30th of this year, Cape Breton Regional Municipality officials investigated a sewer-line backup in the Sydney River area. Given the circumstances surrounding this particular situation, I would have thought that the CBRM officials would have notified the Department of Environment and Labour almost immediately. So my question to the minister is, when was his department first notified of this problem?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. Actually, this first came to the attention of the department as a result of a water test that was taken to try to conclude the sale of a house in the area. It was reported by a third party to the department, and then the next day we got our first confirmation that there was a positive test for e-coli.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, that water test was taken two weeks after the initial investigation by CBRM officials, because I was contacted as well and I immediately contacted the Department of Environment and Labour.

Given the fact that the province's provincial water strategy includes some initiatives, one including a due diligence handbook for municipal councillors and other water utility owners, my question to the minister is, what is the value of the provincial government's water strategy if, in fact, those measures are not being followed?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think this is a wonderful opportunity to point out how responsive staff was to this when it was brought to their attention. It came to their attention late last week, that Friday afternoon staff was out after normal business hours. They took nine water samples that evening and the next day they took another number of samples. A lab was opened up on the weekend, which is something that has been a change in the department just in the last couple of months, to get the test results. Really, publicly, I have to thank the staff for their response when this was brought to their attention.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, what the minister has just indicated is that his department had known about the problem for more than a week before they took any action, that's effectively what the minister has said. Also, no public notice was given until I gave public notice at the resident's request because the department and the Cape Breton Regional Municipality officials refused to give the residents in the community public notice. So my question to the minister is, given the severity of the problem and noting that the minister likes to be very proud of this water strategy, why is it not even included, why is there no mention, in 22 pages of a corporate strategy for the provincial government's future plans,

[Page 11160]

with regard to the Department of Environment and Labour water issues, sewer, or anything else for that matter?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, once again, the honourable member gives me a chance to get up and commend the staff for the way they handled this. Not only were they going around assisting the neighbours in the vicinity of where these five positive tests came back from, but they were actually passing out information. Actually, I would take exception to some of the comments that the member opposite made in the paper, making reference to Walkerton and suggesting that the people in the area should be aware of this. That's the responsibility of the people of the department. They took the appropriate steps, and I think the people in Sydney River also took the appropriate steps by contacting the department. We should commend the people of Sydney River and not criticize them as is done by the member for Cape Breton West.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - ARICEPT: NON-PAYMENT DECISIONS - REASON

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Aricept is a drug that slows the onset of Alzheimer's disease. Of the 5,000 Nova Scotians who currently suffer from this disease it's estimated that about 2,000 of these people could benefit from using Aricept and yet this government will not add this drug to those covered by the provincial Pharmacare Program.

This morning the Deputy Minister of Health admitted that by not paying the $3.6 million required for Aricept to be covered under the program, it may even cost the province more than that because people with Alzheimer's frequently require institutionalization in nursing homes. My question to the minister is why is Nova Scotia making decisions about whether to pay for important drugs like Aricept when it doesn't even have the means of knowing the true cost of not paying for this drug?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the member for Halifax Needham has become an instant expert in pharmacology, I can see. The drugs which are added to the Nova Scotia formulary are recommended by an expert advisory committee. They look at the evidence on the efficacy of the drugs and the efficiency and a number of criteria. I will tell you that we have, and now we are doing it on an Atlantic basis, the best review process in the country.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, somebody should tell the Minister of Health that sarcasm doesn't really become him all that much. This is a serious matter for a lot of people in this province as he should know. Five other provinces in this country cover this drug in their program, including Quebec and Ontario and I would imagine that they

[Page 11161]

would have a few pharmacologists involved in their programs. They face the same issues that Nova Scotia faces, and they were able to make this decision. My question to the minister is, what does Nova Scotia know about Aricept that these five other provinces don't know?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, there are three drugs in that class; indeed that class of drugs is under review again. It is reviewed regularly by the Seniors' Pharmacare Committee. By the way, I will tell the honourable member that's an arm's-length committee, which is probably a good thing and I think people recognize that. That class of drugs is being reviewed again. I believe it's later on this month, I think it's back due on the formulary. When that committee is convinced that the evidence is such to recommend it for inclusion, we will put it on.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's hard to escape the conclusion that Nova Scotia's decision on Aricept is based on dollars and not on health, like everything else that this government is doing. Surely, Ontario, Quebec, Manitoba, Saskatchewan and Alberta can't all be wrong in this; I'm sure they're not doing this without evidence of their own. My question to the minister is, when will he do the right thing and add Aricept to the list of insured drugs in Nova Scotia?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the Formulary Review Committee in Nova Scotia is an arm's-length body, and I can tell the House that they make the decisions on evidence and as Minister of Health I have not interfered with one of their recommendations in the time that I've been in office. The Atlantic Review Committee I think has reviewed something like 27 drugs. They have recommended that 23, I believe, be included in our formulary and we have included them, you know, and quite frankly we are only one of the four provinces that has made that commitment. We do rely very heavily on that committee.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - TENDERS:

N.S. COMPANIES - FAIRNESS ENSURE

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. During the last election the current government Party promised that tendering policies would be fixed to ensure Nova Scotia companies had a fair chance to bid on government tenders. I would like to table a press release by the Honourable John Hamm on July 20, 1999, as well as the page in regard to the blue book promise. Could the minister outline in this House what exactly this government has done to ensure Nova Scotia companies have a fair chance to compete?

[Page 11162]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, our tenders are made public. They're on the Internet and any company can bid providing they can meet the specifications and, in truth, we endeavour to have our specifications such that Nova Scotian companies do have a certain advantage.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I wish to table tender documents showing a tender that showed that Dell's bid for student teacher computers was higher than bids from four qualified Nova Scotia companies and I would like to table that document. When the tender was reissued, Dell shaved over $44,000 off their original bid and were awarded the tender. Could the minister explain how this tender gave Nova Scotia companies a fair chance to compete?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the tender specs were published, the tender specs were put out I believe in a tender back about three months ago and none of the bidders on that original tender met the specifications so the tender was cancelled and then reissued again with a note to the effect that the specifications must be met. In this particular case Dell was the lowest bidder to meet the specifications.

MR. BOUDREAU: It's quite the coincidence, Mr. Speaker. One of the companies who supposedly did not qualify was sent this very unprofessional handwritten note from the minister's staff. The bottom line is the fix was in for a large multinational corporation at the expense of Nova Scotia companies and that this process has been a sham. What steps is this minister going to take to ensure that this tender was awarded fairly?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member is suggesting that there was some hanky-panky going on with regard to that tender process, I wish he would make it known to me and make it known to other persons within the department.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENERGY - ENCANA: DEEP PANUKE - POSTPONEMENT

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question for the Minister of Energy. Today the minister said that the Kyoto Protocol has had an impact on EnCana's decision to postpone Deep Panuke. This comment displays such a vast ignorance of the impact of Kyoto that it is shocking. The protocol would quite clearly make natural gas, our natural gas, more important and more in demand because it's a cleaner fuel. I want to ask the minister to provide right now any evidence he has that supports his public contention that Kyoto played a role in Encana's decision.

[Page 11163]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I was responding to questions from the media around the decision by EnCana to delay going forward with Deep Panuke. When Gwynn Morgan was here in Nova Scotia he raised the very issue of Kyoto's impact on the viability of that project. So it's been a matter of public record for quite some time.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the truth is that there is no such evidence. The truth is that this minister is being led around by the nose by Premier Ralph Klein. EnCana's CEO, Gwynn Morgan, said just the other day in a speech from Ontario that his company's natural gas component, " . . . makes it a better position than most companies to compete under Kyoto." Why is that? Because, Mr. Gwynn says natural gas is a clean energy export. Why can't this Minister of Energy understand that by arguing against Kyoto, he is harming our natural gas developments while protecting oil development in Alberta?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that at the recent joint ministers meetings, all of the provinces and the territories came forward with 12 principles that we all found in common, in terms of reaching a national solution - unlike the one that's being proposed by the current Prime Minister. So, all of the provinces and the territories are on side, recognizing this is an issue that needs to be dealt with co-operatively and in conjunction with our federal partners.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, if only the minister and his colleagues were actually doing something about greenhouse gases, that would be useful. The minister talks like he is the Minister of Energy for Alberta instead of the minister for Nova Scotia. EnCana has stated the reason for the delay is the federal/provincial regulatory process, but this minister tries to deflect the blame on to Kyoto. My question is, why can't this minister see that Nova Scotia's interests are polar opposite to Alberta's? Why can't this minister understand that Kyoto will, in fact, make Nova Scotia's natural gas far more attractive than Alberta's oil?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite is trying to put very simplistic solutions in place. The greenhouse gas emission reduction strategy has to be very complex and comprehensive. The concerns being put forward by me, as Minister of Energy, are ones that are being echoed right across Canada by the manufacturers association, by the oil and gas industry, by every corporate representation in this country. It's also being echoed by other Ministers of Energy and many people within the Liberal caucus, federally.

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

HEALTH - SENIORS' PHARMACARE ADVISORY BD.:

ELIMINATION - EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In the government's new corporate plan they indicate quite clearly that it's important, no, it is "critical", that they manage their stakeholders. Obviously, the senior's advice to the

[Page 11164]

minister became too tough when they decided to eliminate the Seniors' Pharmacare advisory board, which the minister spoke to a little earlier. So my question to the minister is, why does the minister have so little respect for the advice and wisdom of seniors that they bring and can bring to him, that he's decided to eliminate that board altogether?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I would like to set the record straight on that. I never did receive any advice from that committee, because it never met during my time as minister. Indeed, I think it met once the year prior to us taking government. The fact is that our Pharmacare section meets with seniors on a monthly basis.

MR. MACKINNON: Quite simply, I guess my question to the Premier is, given the fact that we were told by the deputy minister earlier today that he had no input on the priorities of health care that were laid out in this corporate strategy, I would ask the Premier how can the seniors of Nova Scotia be assured that their issues are understood if staff within the Department of Health are being told what to do by political operatives from the Premier's Office?

[4:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I won't comment as to the accuracy of the quote, but what I will say is that the government consults on a regular basis with the Seniors Citizens' Secretariat, the Group of Nine, on issues that are important to seniors. One of the issues that the minister had addressed earlier was the transfer of the responsibility of the Seniors Citizens' Secretariat to Health. Because many of the concerns that seniors have revolve around the activities of the Department of Health we felt it was a good fit, and it has turned out to be a good fit.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In preparation for the Public Accounts Committee meeting today, the Deputy Minister of Health provided, at the request of the committee members and through the clerk of the committee, supposedly the latest information with regard to the Seniors' Pharmacare Program. The fact of the matter is the overwhelming majority of that information was two years obsolete - and it's not the first time it happened with this particular department. My question to the minister is, will he assure members of the committee, all members of the House and the people of Nova Scotia that he will direct staff in his department to start providing accurate, complete and the latest up-to-date information when they're requested to do so?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I don't know the information that was provided to you, but I would expect that you got the most recent data that was readily available.

[Page 11165]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

AGRIC. & FISH. - PORK PRODUCERS: AID PROGS. - ADEQUACY

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, my question will be for the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The last two years have been tough ones for farmers. Repeated drought tapped out much of the reserves and funding farmers could access from the existing agricultural safety net programs, such as NISA. As in 1998, poor prices are below the cost of production, and our producers are losing $50 or more for each hog they produce. Some producers will close their doors, if they haven't done that already. My question for the minister is, will the minister advise why he thinks the existing agricultural safety net programs are adequate to help pork producers out of this crisis?

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite raises a good question. I think it highlights why this government doubled the amount of dollars going into income support and agriculture development two years ago, and created equitable NISA and red meat NISA with the industry in anticipation of a downturn like this. That's why those dollars were made available over the last two years, because, as we know, pork is a market that rises and falls on a regular basis with supply. In anticipation of that, we ensured that there were dollars and programs leading up to this in producers' accounts so they can access them.

MR. MACDONELL: The minister would know that it's not working, because producers have been to him for help. In 1998, when pork producers faced a similar crisis, the minister, then a new MLA on the Opposition side of the floor, pleaded with the Liberal Government of the time to provide a loan to keep pork producers afloat until market conditions improved and that government did so. Yet, now, as minister at the height of another crisis, the minister refuses to provide financial aid to those same producers and he has turned down a request for a loan. Why does the minister now consider pork producers - so worthy in 1998 of assistance - no longer deserving of this province's help?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I explained earlier to the honourable member opposite, in anticipation and in working with the industry, there was no NISA program, no doubling of the program in 1998. The province was forced, under those circumstances, with no equitable NISA, which is the doubling of their contribution in place. We, along with industry, had the foresight to put that in place, and that's why it's there for those producers now. The other issue, I think, that's important (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable minister has the floor.

MR. FAGE: . . . being used by the honourable member are a bit misleading. He talks in terms of projections of $50. Because the market hasn't followed those trends, instead of a $50 deficit that as he was quoting, which equated to $86 per hog in October, the actual market price was $1.24.

[Page 11166]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the minister should know there was a NISA program in 1998, and doubling of nothing is still nothing. Here are some numbers that the minister may not be aware of, and that is that today the Province of Prince Edward Island announced that they are going to put $7 million into supporting the hog industry in that province: $3.5 million is to go into a loan to producers; $2 million is to help anybody who wants to expand their operation; and another $1.5 million to be made available to assist producers improving herd health of the operation. I want to say to the minister that in Nova Scotia we produce slightly more than 40,000 more hogs, roughly, per year than they do in Prince Edward Island, we have a bigger industry here, and they have a population of roughly 100,000 people compared to 1 million people here, so I would say that this province can afford to help hog producers here.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Minister, my question to you is, if P.E.I. can do it, why can't Nova Scotia do it?

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, as I explained to the honourable member, we anticipated this crisis. We also reacted long before P.E.I. in an announcement made by myself two weeks ago. Under the disaster program we approved negative margins to make more funds available to hog farmers. Under the transition funding that I signed with the federal government, a new negotiation for long-term stable funding, our allocation, we gave a double share to the hog industry which amounts to $2.5 million of provincial monies that was announced two weeks ago to all non-supply-managed bodies. We've already reacted; obviously the member hasn't read the news.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - PHARMACARE: CHARGES - MAINTAIN

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Today in the Public Accounts Committee the Deputy Minister of Health indicated that they were considering hiking the Pharmacare premiums and co-pay payments to seniors. There is no question that the Pharmacare Program is an expensive program in Nova Scotia. Pharmacare premiums and co-pay remained the same from 1995 until this government took office. Since that period of time we've seen increases in both co-pay as well as in the premiums themselves. In fact, the Premier, back when he was in Opposition, made it clear that the Tories demanded that Pharmacare premiums be eliminated; not frozen but eliminated.

Under this government Pharmacare premiums have gone from $215 to $363, and co-pay has gone up 20 per cent from the cost of 33 per cent to a maximum of $350. My question to the Premier is, will the Premier ensure seniors that Pharmacare premiums and co-pays will not rise in the next provincial election?

[Page 11167]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Health. He did previously answer the question, but I'll ask the minister now.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I have no idea the context of the comment, but let me say that we have a number of initiatives about Pharmacare underway in the Department of Health to help ensure that seniors get the drugs that they need, and only those drugs that they need, which is just as important. We're working with doctors and pharmacists, we have an academic detailing program available as an in-service program for general practitioners and other physicians. We're doing quite a number of things to improve the Pharmacare services in Nova Scotia.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, what I know they've done and what seniors know they've done is that they've increased the premiums to seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia and they've increased the cost of the co-pay element to the seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia. My question was simple, are you going to continue to increase those fees to seniors?

My supplementary question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier commit to a Pharmacare freeze so that seniors in Nova Scotia are once again not hit by this Tory Government and given some chance to be able to look after themselves with a proper Pharmacare Program.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this government and the Department of Health continue to consult with seniors and work with them on a regular basis. Indeed, our Pharmacare team meets with representatives of seniors' organizations, a group of nine, on a monthly basis. We discuss issues - everything from the use of drugs, to their availability, to the issues of cost of drugs and how we can provide quality service at a reasonable cost.

MR. DOWNE: This is the same government that eliminated . . . You talk about consulting with seniors. They eliminated the Seniors' Advisory Board. This is the same government that turned around and said that the Pharmacare Program was a terrible program when the Liberals had it and now what they've done, they've increased the cost to every senior in the Province of Nova Scotia. That same Tory Government condemned the ambulance system that the Liberals had, saying that it was not good. Now they say it's the best in the country. I'm simply asking this government, now that they're in power, it's easy when they're on this side, like they're yapping over here in the NDP to say anything they want, now they're in power, now the question is will this government live up to what they asked Nova Scotians and our government to do before and freeze the Pharmacare Program for Seniors?

[Page 11168]

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we consult widely with seniors as I said and we consult on a monthly basis with them. I want to tell you one of the things that we did last year at the request of the seniors' organizations was we raised the floor for the supplement or the premium. There was a floor for premium. We increased that floor and what happened was, I think it was something like another 8,000 seniors did not have to pay a premium.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - SOCIAL WORKERS: MIN. - MEET

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Yesterday the NSGEU and social workers' organizations came to the House to implore the Minister of Community Services to meet with them to discuss their concerns over caseloads in this province. In five months they have not been able to get a meeting with the minister to voice their concerns, nor will he respond to a report showing a serious problem facing Nova Scotia caseworkers who struggle with too many clients and not enough resources. The report is right here. I ask the Minister of Community Services, why won't you commit to meeting with these concerned professionals to discuss their caseload issues?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member does bring a serious question to the House. We have had an opportunity to meet with the caseworkers from the Dartmouth office. I met twice with them myself. We have sent letters to the President of the NSGEU that has sent us information asking for information and indeed one of the reasons that people didn't need to come to the House yesterday is because we had indicated we would send senior staff over to meet with them more than a week ago.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind that minister that the Premier endorsed a five point plan on his election campaign to consult with employees on these particular issues. The Department of Community Services claims it's monitoring caseloads but the evidence contradicts that statement. Even more disturbing, social workers who have advocated publicly for change have been reprimanded. Three caseworkers who took the day off to attend a press conference yesterday were told that they would face disciplinary action if they spoke. Remember, face disciplinary action if they spoke. We live in a democracy. I ask the Minister of Community Services, if his department has nothing to hide, why are you issuing a gag order on the staff?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the people who came to the House yesterday, or come whenever they want, are able to speak on any issue they want. However, we do expect people to be at their place of work and doing their jobs at the times when they're not taking time off.

[Page 11169]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like that honourable minister to know that these people have dedicated countless hours of overtime, time that was unrecorded and unpaid, to come here to speak freely on a very important issue and this minister makes mockery of that kind of democracy.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the caseload workers face are far greater than the recommended levels and they say that children are being put at risk as a result. Yet the minister stays in his ivory tower and refuses to listen to the front-line workers. Is that a way to operate? My question to the Minister of Community is, how much longer do you intend to ignore the serious problems in your department by putting the safety of children in jeopardy?

MR. CHRISTIE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and we take the caseload work all across this province very seriously and when we say we are doing caseload reviews across this province, that is what we are doing. We are going to do the caseload reviews and we are going to provide the results to them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

NAT. RES. - PROTECTED AREAS:

CORPORATE PLAN - PRIORITIZE

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the new Minister of Natural Resources to Question Period. We welcome the government's announcement that McNabs and Lawlor Islands have been designated provincial parklands, but we also learned yesterday about the Tory corporate plan and we know that this government wants Nova Scotians to feel good about their government again. My question to the minister is, how can Nova Scotians feel good about a plan to provide for the continuation of the continued protection of natural resources areas when this is not considered a priority in the corporate plan?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I must say that if the priority of the department was not to provide recreational facilities for the people of Nova Scotia, we wouldn't have taken the action we did to designate McNabs and Lawlor Islands as a provincial park.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, while we don't know yet how much the new park will cost the government, we do know that it will be handled within the budget of the Department of Natural Resources. It is very unclear about how committed this government is to preserving and protecting our provincial parks considering that a councillor from the Halifax Regional Municipality stated that the second busiest provincial park in the Halifax Regional Municipality is Shubie Park and they had their funding reduced.

[Page 11170]

Now the minister knows very well, and he has to realize, that there is more to designating a park than putting up a sign. Can the minister explain how committed they are to the new provincial park when their budget for Shubie Park has been reduced?

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Natural Resources, one of its primary functions is to provide a more than adequate recreational service to both the touring public in the province, as well as to our citizens on their vacation trips and we are doing that within the limitations of the budget that is there. I am very pleased with the level of service that the department's staff is providing.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise in my place on a point of privilege. Earlier today during a ministerial statement by the Premier, in that statement the Premier in the third paragraph, "Cape Breton's economy is growing to a level not seen in about 15 years." I took exception to those remarks when I addressed the remarks and I have to say to the House today that is what the Premier said. Here is what is actually happening in Cape Breton and I want to read it into the record, From January 1997 to July 1999 unemployment went from 25.1 per cent down to 14.9 per cent and 9,600 jobs were created.

Mr. Speaker, from August 1999 to September 2000, the unemployment rate went from 14.1 per cent to 15.5 per cent, and 1,800 jobs were lost in that time frame. Those aren't my figures, those are figures from the Department of Finance Web site, that either the Premier did not know anything about or he knowingly misled this House today. I would ask you, Mr. Speaker, to take this under advisement and advise this House as to whether the Premier doesn't know what he's talking about or whether he misled this House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There's no other intervener on the honourable member for Cape Breton South's point of privilege?

The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will provide a copy of the Human Resources Development Canada report under Stats Canada that verifies the statement I made in the House. (Interruptions)

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I will save you the trouble. I will table in this House his own Finance Department Web site which gives those figures from the time frame that I mentioned. You can read this and then you can respond. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I will take the matter under advisement.

[Page 11171]

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, on a point of privilege. The Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries indicated to the House that there was no NISA Program in 1998, and I recall very clearly spending about a year of my life, prior to ever getting into politics, working on a NISA Program for Canada, a GRIP and NISA Program. In fact, Nova Scotia was part of the NISA Program in 1998 and in years before that. I wanted to indicate to the minister that he misspoke to this House about not having a NISA Program in 1998, and I wanted it to be on the record. I await the minister to respond back at a future date. He is obviously not able to respond here right now. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Lunenburg West brings a point to the House which I believe needs clarification. It's more of a point of fact than it is a point of privilege. We will allow the minister the opportunity to respond when he's able to.

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I have distributed to the House Leaders and yourself the times allotted for this afternoon. Would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please Bill No. 145. Each individual speaker had originally been allotted 21 minutes . . .Yes, it's Bill No. 145. We actually had two minutes to spare, so we could actually cut 30 seconds off each speaker.

Bill No. 145 - Homes for Special Care Act.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's with a great deal of pleasure that I rise this afternoon to speak on Bill No. 145, not only because we introduced this piece of legislation but because it is such an important piece of legislation to so many people in this province. In short, the bill provides that no one who goes into a long-term care facility shall be charged for health care or personal care provided to the resident. It restricts the government to charging residents of long-term care facilities for only what we would know as the room-and-board costs associated with that person's time in the facility.

[Page 11172]

Mr. Speaker, this is most certainly the position of our caucus with respect to this matter, but it's not just us. It is the position that has been advanced on behalf of more than 18,000 people from one end of this province to the other who took the time to sign a petition, calling upon the Department of Health to undertake exactly the provisions that are contained in this piece of legislation. So, I wish I could say that it was only people associated with our caucus who took the time to distribute these petitions and get the signatures on them, but that wouldn't be true. The reality is that from the day that we began to raise this issue, people from all walks of life, people from all income groups, people from all communities from one end of the province to the other came forward and said, you're absolutely right. How can we join you in this campaign? How can we make the government see that what happens to seniors in long-term care facilities today and yesterday and for many days under the present system is dramatically unfair and unconscionable?

You have to ask yourself the question, why is this legislation necessary? Why is it necessary? It's necessary because seniors and other residents of long-term care facilities are presently required to pay the full costs associated with the health care they receive in long-term care facilities. That's nursing services, personal care, medical supplies and those things that are necessarily incidental to the health care that they require as a result of their illness.

These are services that are provided in every other context and every other situation in our province; they are provided to individuals free of charge. They are part of the public health care package; it is part of what is paid for in the taxes that are collected by the provincial and federal governments.

If you were unfortunate enough to go into a long-term care facility in Ontario or Manitoba or Saskatchewan or British Columbia or even Alberta, you would receive these services free of charge because they recognize that long-term care facilities are part of the continuum of care, the continuum of health care services in this province. Unlike perhaps 20 or 30 years ago, when they served a different function, the nurses who work on the wards in long-term care facilities deliver the same kind and volume of services that are provided on the wings of hospitals.

It's true that the service provided to these people is for chronic care, that they're going to be there likely for a long time but, surely that is not reason enough, that cannot be reason enough to say to the seniors of this province that you are going to be in a class by yourself, that you are going to be in a group by yourself, that you alone, we are going to target, we are going to pick out, we are going to decide arbitrarily that you alone will have to pay the full cost of your health care. Surely that can't be the reason.

The cost of this care differs depending on the facility in which you happen to be a resident. The reality is that here in Nova Scotia we have the highest maximum facility fees anywhere in the country - anywhere in the country. These are fees that were negotiated by the Minister of Health, that were approved by the Minister of Health and the Premier and his Cabinet. These fees are $4,000 to $6,000 a month.

[Page 11173]

The minister will stand up here in a few minutes in all likelihood and he will say nobody's impoverished as a result of our system. But do you know something? It doesn't matter how many times he says it, everybody out there knows it's not true. There have been testimonials after testimonials of people who come forward publicly and say, this is what has happened to me and to my family and to my loved ones as a result of this harsh and unfair government policy. We have been stripped of every single penny we have. We have had our life savings taken from us. We have been left impecunious and impoverished. So, Mr. Speaker, it doesn't matter how many times the Minister of Health stands up and says nobody is impoverished. The reality is if he believes it, then he is a crowd of one because he is the only person who believes it.

The people who are being asked to pay, the seniors who are being asked to pay this money are the people who made the wheels of our economy turn. They are the people who built this province. They are the people who raised their children here in this province and they are also the people who, for many, many years, paid their taxes to this government. They paid the taxes as part of the social contract, as part of the expectation that, in return for what they paid, they would receive a certain service and part of that package of services that they expected to receive was health care services.

[4:45 p.m.]

Why do we do this, Mr. Speaker? We supply health care services because among us we recognize that there is a common wealth in our society that we can use to solve problems that are too big to be resolved by the individual and health care is one of those things; it's one of those services that we understand has to be paid for collectively. People pay their taxes because they believe that when they need help, that when they are ill and when they are unable to advocate for themselves, the government will be there to help them, that they will receive the care they need.

Do you know something, Mr. Speaker, during the last election in 1999, the now Premier, then Leader of the Third Party, went all over the province telling people that you were going to receive that health care, that he was going to fix the health care system. I remember all too well him telling the people of this province, you will receive eyeball to eyeball health care in your community where you are, when you need it. That's what he said. I don't recall at any time there being an asterisk underneath that promise that said, not available in nursing homes. I don't remember that. I remember that his commitment to the people of this province was fulsome, covered everyone, and didn't tell seniors that they were to be excluded, set aside in a second class, told to pay their own way. I don't recall that because it didn't happen.

Mr. Speaker, the result is that seniors will be required to pay out of their hard-earned savings anywhere from $40,000 to $72,000 a year to support themselves in long-term care facilities. They will be called upon to deplete their assets, to deplete any savings no matter

[Page 11174]

what their obligations. Now, how does this work? It begins when the person is unable to sustain themselves outside of an institution. They fall ill and they require the services that would be supplied in a long-term care facility. They undergo, at that point, an assessment. The assessment, and I want to make this clear because I'm sure that the Department of Health doesn't understand this and I think the minister has demonstrated amply that he doesn't understand it, it is an assessment process that is completely devoid of any kind of social context. They don't care what your obligations are. They don't care if you have children who you might be required to fund an education for. They don't care if you believe that you have an obligation to your children or your grandchildren. It doesn't matter. The only thing that they're concerned about is how much you have, how much you can pay. That's all they care about.

So you go in and start the assessment process and they will say, well, the first thing we want is three years of your income tax, we want to have a look at what you have received in the last three years, we want to have a look at three years of your bank records, we want to have a look at three years of any financial information you have, because we want to be in a position to assess every transaction that you make. If you gave away a gift, if you made a loan, if you so much as invested too much money in your house in repairing it, they will question those and they will require that the value of those gifts or the value of those transactions come back to the government, come back to a fund that will be set up and used to pay for your health care needs in the years to come. This is every asset you have, with the sole exception of your home.

You know why the home is there in the Act? The members of this caucus, when that bill was up for debate, insisted that that be protected. Even we, at that time, didn't understand the ramifications of the legislation that was coming forward. We didn't realize that the government was engaged in this kind of harsh assessment and really very brutal acquisition of everything that a senior owned. But if you were unfortunate enough to own a cottage or woodland, or any asset that you had, this would be liquidated, the value of it would be added to the fund. You were entitled to retain nothing, with the exception, as I said, of the family home, which you can designate and have transferred to someone else. If you were unfortunate enough to sell the family home in advance, all of the money that you received in return for that house would become part of your asset base and subject to the seizure and distribution for health care costs, every last penny.

Mr. Speaker, again, likely in a few minutes, the Minister of Health will stand up - I hope he stands up - and he will say that the government subsidizes 80 per cent of all of the costs of the people who go into long-term care facilities. He will say that, but what he won't say is that this is only after they have stripped the senior, or the individual, of every penny they have. The reason why they're subsidizing 80 per cent is because the people who are there have already had everything taken from them. That's why they're subsidizing 80 per cent.

[Page 11175]

Mr. Speaker, it's not as much about what he says, it's what he doesn't say. The minister will stand up and he'll talk about their contribution to continuing care and how they've invested more money in long-term care, but what he won't say is that he and his Premier and his Cabinet colleagues have approved large increases in the per diems that are paid, specifically those ones paid to the private-for-profit, long-term care facilities and that the money they're investing in long-term care is actually going into the coffers of those people who are operating the long-term care facilities in the private sector. He won't say that and he won't say that a large amount of that money that has been committed in the increase went into the usual wage increases in those facilities. He won't say that and he won't say that not one penny of that money that has been committed to long-term care will reduce the burden on the backs of the seniors of this province, not a penny. They will pay as much tomorrow as they did today, as they did yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, the assessment tool that is used by the government looks at things like how much you can pay for a funeral, they will limit the amount that you can pay for a funeral. If the department ends up paying for your funeral, they will hang around and take your Canada Pension Plan benefits. It's not enough that they will take everything you have while you're alive, but they will hang around and take the death benefits. They will insist to be on insurance policies. They will count in the face value of the insurance policy. They will take every single cent that a senior has until they are completely impoverished and then, at that point, the government, the Minister of Health and others, will generously say, now we will cover the health care costs that you need because you happen to be elderly and ill. This bill is necessary because there is a huge wrong that needs to be righted.

I want to address, in the last couple of minutes that I have - I have two minutes left, do I not, Mr. Speaker? - something that I think is absolutely unconscionable. I'm going to table the assessment form that deals with the question of involuntary separation. On this form, the Department of Health requires individuals to sign a statement of involuntary separation in which they say that following my admission to the above facility, my spouse will remain in the community. As a result, we wish to change our marital status to be involuntarily separated.

Mr. Speaker, this is brutal. This is uncalled for. This is contrary to people's religious and personal beliefs. It is an attack on people, some of whom have been married for many, many years. It is requiring them to disavow their relationship with their loved one. I want to demonstrate for the Minister of Health how that question could have been asked and how that situation could have been resolved by referring instead to what happens in the Province of Saskatchewan. In Saskatchewan, in order to deal with the problem that that particular form tries to set out, the government requires them to sign a form as well. But what does it say? It says instead that my spouse and I live in separate dwellings for reasons beyond our control, however, our marital status has not changed. The Government of Saskatchewan affirms their relationship, this government insists that they destroy it.

[Page 11176]

This is absolutely uncalled for, and if the Minister of Health can do one thing, he can at least see to it that that form is changed and people's relationships are respected by the government of this province. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JAMES MUIR: I rise to address a very important issue and a very, very complex issue. Indeed, far more complex than the Opposition, particularly the Official Opposition, would have us (Interruptions) The issue of how to pay for the high cost of nursing home care, look, just to deal with that, Mr. Speaker - and that's a good point and it's one we've been certainly pondering, however, it's an issue I'm sure he dealt with, the Leader dealt with in his former life, and he certainly dealt with that as a city alderman in Dartmouth when the rules were the same.

Mr. Speaker, let's not get too pure, I guess is what I'm saying about the whole thing. It's an issue that's been out there for some time and there's been a lot of heat but, quite frankly, it's like electric heat, there's not much light. What I want to do tonight is try to shed some light on what is a very complex issue, and a very serious issue from this side of the House.

[5:00 p.m.]

To begin with, I want to clear up some of the misconceptions that are out there and to present some of the facts. I want Nova Scotians to know the facts. They need the facts far more than they need the rhetoric that is being spun out by members of the Opposition. I hear the member for Dartmouth North, and I thought he was a compassionate person, clearly, he is not.

Fact number one, we recognize this is an issue that needs to be addressed. I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that until 1999, when we came into power, nearly all aspects of nursing home care had been neglected in the province. There were a variety of reasons for that, and I won't get into them. We know, we learned from experience, what needs to be addressed and, to be quite frank, we're working towards it. Most certainly, we know that the issue of how people or how long-term care is funded in this province is an issue that needs some work. To tell you the truth, we've been working on it since 1999. We've done quite a number of things.

Fact number two is that since 1999, my government has improved care for seniors. I suspect we've systematically halted the neglect that the long-term care sector experienced in the previous years. For example, since 1999, we've put more than an additional $90 million into home care, long-term care and services that protect vulnerable adults. That particular commitment is a strong commitment. When we started off our commitment we wanted to improve the care of people who needed care, care for seniors, care for other

[Page 11177]

residents who need to be placed in sort of a situation where they have 24-hour care, for adults who, for a variety of reasons, needed help. Our whole continuing care budget in the past three years has gone up by 39 per cent, and that is a significant amount.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you what we did. Our first commitment was about care. Once we felt we had many of the care needs either being better addressed or we could see them going in the direction that we wanted, then we're sort of free to turn our attention to some other areas. Clearly, our concentration in our first three years has been on care. We were able to provide that additional amount of money, 39 per cent, despite the fact that at the same time we were able to bring the province to a balanced budget, recognizing priorities all over the place. Since 1999, we've added more than $56 million to the long-term care budget alone, and that's a 36 per cent increase. It is clear that long-term care has been a priority as has been the whole continuing care field. We put that money there, and we put that money there for care. That's where that money went. That went to the care of people who need it.

Mr. Speaker, seniors in Nova Scotia needed a less confusing and difficult way to access service. One of the ways that we provided it to them is by having an 800-number, one call, not three calls, not four calls, not 10 calls. The fact is, one call for access to care. Before, people had to call home care people for home care, for nursing home care they had to put their name on the waiting list of several nursing homes just in case. Right now, there is no more just in case. You call 1-800-225-7225 and your needs are addressed and your name goes on the waiting list of the nursing home of your choice. (Interruptions)

Seniors in Nova Scotia I think first and foremost want to know that the care that they receive in nursing homes or in the other aspects, the continuing care sector, is high quality care and indeed, Mr. Speaker, the additional $56 million helps to ensure that. That money is buying better training for staff and well-trained staff means better care. The additional dollars fund 100 capital projects that upgrade the state of nursing homes to make them better places to live.

Mr. Speaker, I continue, this funding is giving nursing homes more money for food, more money for expenses such as fuel and utilities, more money for wages and benefits for nursing home staff. After all, these are the people who are continually and rightfully praised for the high quality of care that they give.

Mr. Speaker, we also gave nursing homes more money for patient tubs and patient lifts. After years of neglect by previous administrations, my department has restored the care in nursing homes to where it should have been in the years before. My government has made seniors a priority and the issues of seniors a priority and we put money, real dollars for real care, behind that. The fact is that my government offers care to seniors and we offer care because clearly care has to be the first priority.

[Page 11178]

Fact number five, the Leader of the Official Opposition is not talking about funding care, he's talking about something else. We recognize that there's a discrepancy between what the Maritime and indeed the Atlantic Provinces are able to provide seniors and what the provinces west of New Brunswick are able to provide financially to seniors to help them with the cost of their nursing home care and we know that because we live it every day. This is not a one-time election blitz year that it is for that group. This is something I live every day as Minister of Health. I live this every day. I don't need the ramblings of that group over there to tell me about the issues of seniors or care needs in senior homes or things like this.

You know, Mr. Speaker, I live it every day. My staff lives it every day and that's why I was insulted when that member over there stood up and criticized our continuing care staff for their approach to treating clients. I get nothing but compliments for that. Mr. Speaker, that was disgraceful.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I challenge the minister to show where I have ever criticized his staff. I have never done that. The minister stated something in this House that is categorically untrue and I ask him to take it back.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's not a point of order, it's a disagreement of facts between two members. The honourable Minister of Health has the floor.

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the fact is in Atlantic Canada our financial situations mean that Western Provinces have more flexibility than we do as they try to balance the many demands in the health care system. If I can say, I think our government has done a remarkable job of balancing many demands as we work very hard to fix many issues that previous administrations have ignored. For example, there are somewhere around 5,850 people in continuing care and long-term care in this province. The government subsidizes and funds the care for 80 per cent of those. There are about 1,200 people. Those 1,200 people are important and we understand that. Of the 5,850-plus who are in long-term care beds in this province, this government funds, pays that, for 80 per cent of them. More than 80 per cent of the seniors in nursing homes have their health care costs entirely covered.

Right now there are about 4,400 Nova Scotia residents whose health care is covered. This is the care they receive from doctors, the care they receive from nurses, the care they receive from occupational therapists and other allied health professionals. This health care is entirely covered by the government for about 4,400 or 80 per cent of the residents in long-term care. These are the people who need the care the most. These are the people who need the financial assistance the most; they receive both, this government does both.

Fact number nine, there are 126,000 seniors in Nova Scotia today over the age of 65. Of that number, 5,600 are in nursing homes, that's about 3 per cent. Fact number 10, unlike the people in the Opposition, we're responsible for the care of all 126,000 of those seniors in this province. Yes, Mr. Speaker, we are also responsible for the care of 5,800 seniors who

[Page 11179]

live in nursing homes. We cover the health care costs and other costs for the other 4,400 who need it.

Mr. Speaker, I would sooner that we didn't have to, but right now we ask the remaining 1,200 to contribute what they can to the cost of their care. We're not cruel, we're not unreasonable. To begin with, there's a long list of assets that seniors are not asked to put towards the cost of their care. On the other hand, I want to tell people that there are some seniors who by choice put everything into their care because they believe in an ethic that does not want government support.

Among these things are: the family residence, if it's designated, and the contents in that residence - for a good many people, the major asset that they have is their home; car for the spouse, if there is a spouse; prepaid funerals and burial plots; GST refunds; lump sum compensation payments for merchant mariners in World War II. Mr. Speaker, one of the changes that we made this past Spring was previously veterans' disability pensions had been counted as income for the spouse, and we discontinued the policy of taking that as an asset; waged income earned by the spouse living at home; ownership of a private business by the spouse living at home; refundable child care credits, federal child tax credits. (Interruptions)

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this list is long, but is it long enough? The fact is, we would like the list to be even longer and we look forward to the day when that list no longer needs to be longer; at the same time, unlike some others in the House who shoulder absolutely no responsibility for their endless promises, we are responsible for what we promise. We are responsible to taxpayers, all taxpayers, we are responsible to future generations of Nova Scotians. This government looks forward to the day when, thanks to its steadfast and sound fiscal management, the health care costs of nursing home care for all Nova Scotians who need it are covered. We look forward to sharing this responsibility.

We are looking at three upcoming landmarks to help the people of Nova Scotia achieve this goal. First of all, we're looking at the Romanow Commission report in November, we're also looking at the First Ministers Conference in January and we're looking towards the federal budget in April. We made a forceful and, I trust, a persuasive presentation to the Romanow Commission back in May asserting that provinces need help to cover the care that's provided to Canadians outside of hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, I think it's very important to note that the $34 million plus that the Leader of the Opposition wants us to find today does not buy one more bed, one more nurse, one more ounce of care; it doesn't improve home care or care in nursing homes one iota; it doesn't put one more drug into Pharmacare; and his suggestion doesn't improve the level of care for Nova Scotians at all, not a bit. We're making a meaningful difference for all seniors in this province and we're strengthening care in many, many ways. Seniors are receiving care

[Page 11180]

and seniors will remain our priority. I want to tell you, to reiterate, we look forward to the day when all care costs for seniors and others in nursing homes can be paid.

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, thank you for the opportunity to address Bill No. 145 this afternoon. I did want to mention initially that I will be sharing my time with the honourable member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, this bill is an amendment to the Homes for Special Care Act, as members would know, and events have unfolded over the last few days relative to this proposed legislation that certainly the issue of long-term care for our seniors, and those persons with disabilities, is a complex issue and there is no simple solution, but is one that all governments must deal with. This is part of what we found, some of the challenges that we faced when we came to power as a Liberal Government in 1993.

We inherited a system that was, in effect, the responsibility of the municipal units. It was the Social Assistance Act brought forward by the government, led by the then Premier John Buchanan, that started the process of determining what would be considered as assets for the purpose of entering a long-term care facility. This process was in place under the Social Assistance Act under the John Buchanan Government, this is what we inherited in 1993. This was the Act that remained in place during our tenure as government.

We did not start the process of the so-called clawback provisions, like some members have said in this House and some have printed in the media; whether they've said it or not, that has been claimed. The NDP, particularly, have claimed this and the Tories seem to

have been quite happy to join in with the hurrah, happy times are here again. They can blame their misadventures and their lack of fairness for the treatment of seniors and those with disabilities on somebody else. I am very pleased to be able to stand in my place here today and clear the record on this particular initiative. I would stand to be challenged on that, if in fact I am correct. I am right and I know of the matter of which I speak.

We inherited this process from the municipal units and we did not create this process. I won't go so far as to blame the honourable Leader of the NDP, the Official Opposition, although he was a municipal councillor at that time, because in all fairness he couldn't have caused that much confusion in that system. It was widespread throughout the province and we tried to bring some order. I am not going to join the Tories in saying that the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour was single-handedly responsible. His actions today in this House may be driven by guilt though in some ways in trying to correct a wrong that he perpetrated on the people of Dartmouth, some of the constituents which I represent.

[Page 11181]

There were many challenges in all fairness. We were dealing with a system in Nova Scotia, like in many other provinces, where there were facilities that were referred to as the poor farms. Would there be any wonder why people didn't want to be referred to those facilities when they were called poor farms, and that was the situation that was there in 1993. There were many changes that we made throughout the years in those times. We were challenged in trying to prevent this province from going over the cliff into bankruptcy. There were many challenges. We had limited resources and we had limited choices and we had to make some choices. We made choices to bring parity within the nursing component of the long-term care and also the other workers in those facilities who were giving so much of their time to the care of our seniors and those with disabilities. There was a service exchange with the municipal units that was worked out over this period of time.

Rather than dwell on those particular times, I will fast forward now to November 30, 2000. This was when the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act was proclaimed under Premier John Hamm's Government. The Premier, you remember, ran the election in 1999 as fixing health care. Liberals bad, Liberals broke health care, Tories good, Tories will fix health care for $46 million. It was later after that, after forming government, that the Premier personally took this as a personal commitment that he would address the issues of long-term care. He was going to increase beds, he was going to open the process. Single entry would be continued to develop, that the previous government had sort of worked toward. It was under the guise of a single-entry system that families were being told about the great lessening of the waiting, not the waiting times, but the waiting lists that were combined. It wasn't really a terrific great computerized revelation that if you could put these homes together, the waiting times, and add them up, but anyway this was a single-entry system.

It was this Act, the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act, that really laid out what you needed to prove. What you needed to prove, this Act laid out. Brought in by this government, this John Hamm Government, you needed to prove the amount of assets you owed and the amount of income you had or were getting. Essentially, I want to make this perfectly clear, it was this legislation in the year 2000, brought in by this government, that put the burden of proof on those persons, those people going into long-term care facilities and on their families. The burden of proof was placed on them. There are roughly 12 criteria. The things that we started to get the calls on following this Act was very dramatic.

I can remember clearly the first call that I got from a person that lived on Brigadoon Avenue in Dartmouth, and his father was in Amherst, and revealing to me what was being told to him. Now you always have to be careful about repeating all the things that you hear, but this person was very concerned. We were hearing things like the assessment was being done on the pre-funeral arrangements that were made. If there are student loans available, or money set aside for students, that they could take out a student loan. These are the things we started to hear. Some people even, heaven forbid, said that it was recommended that they would be better off if they were divorced. This was being told to seniors.

[Page 11182]

So something happened around that time, Mr. Speaker, not immediately after the Act was in, but this really came and people were being told this is a single-entry process now that we have, whatever that meant, how that related to this burden of proof, and this extension of that Act that I can't believe that when we debated that Act in the House that we knew what these consequences would be.

So, Mr. Speaker, it was Bill No. 62, the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act that clearly stated that if an applicant or a resident refused to provide the information, they would be denied assistance. So that is disabled persons and seniors. They would be denied assistance if they did not sign and that's what's happening. The papers are being placed in front of people during times of high stress when their loved ones are becoming ill and perhaps getting more ill, the frail elderly who need long-term care facilities, and they're being told sign now or else care will be denied. So it's with Bill No. 62 that this issue came to the forefront in the last couple of years and, as I mentioned, calls started to come to my constituency and come to others and that's why I'm sharing my time here today with my colleagues. This is what I have referred to as a forensic audit. A forensic audit was being done on those persons and those families applying for long-term care facilities.

So enough of the history, lets get to the crux of the matter. We, as legislators, must be cognizant of the fact that we are dealing with a very difficult and often a heart-wrenching situation. To place a loved one in a nursing home is a senior's option of last resort often. I refer to the poor farms initially. We've gone miles and miles away from there, but it's still looked at unfortunately as a placement of last resort for the families and especially if the options are not available. We don't want to get into this today, but we have a plan and we have a vision of how supportive care for our seniors would look more so than just long-term care facilities as we know them today.

So that is why it's important when bills like Bill No. 145 come forward that we reflect not on the principle of the bill but that we demonstrate as leaders that we understand the whole range of issues surrounding long-term care. It's more than just an issue of money and I will just tell my colleague that I will finish in a moment. Yes, it is an issue of fairness and that's the issue that we want to bring. However, should we not as leaders also be looking at options that are available to keep seniors out of nursing homes in the first place? Should we not be striving to give seniors the dignity of maintaining an independent lifestyle? That is really the heart of the issue and that's what we should be discussing here today.

Nova Scotians are independent people, Mr. Speaker, you know that and they want to remain in their homes and they want to be in control of their own lives. I am convinced that control of their own life is a major factor in the longevity of a person. Yes, we support the principle of this bill. We do, however, recognize on this side of the House that this issue is much more complex than is being portrayed, not only by the NDP but in other quarters as well. So the seniors deserve our respect, our seniors and those persons with disabilities

[Page 11183]

deserve our respect and they deserve options and they deserve fairness in their long-term care and long-term care must be delivered with dignity that they so deserve and fairness.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I rise in support of this particular piece of legislation for a number of reasons. It's always nice to look in the rear-view mirror and think that everything that was done yesterday was done right, but sometimes (Interruption) As the point has been made, hindsight is always 20/20, but I believe what the minister has said here today is very disappointing, disappointing because the very year, the very election year that his boss, the Leader of the Third Party who is now Premier, spent all this money on health care, he said he was going to correct it for $47.6 million. Now, what happened over a period of a month that they were so off that according to the Minister of Health, they spent almost twice that. I wanted to set the tone for that.

[5:30 p.m.]

What's happening - contrary to the rosy picture that the minister has tried to paint - it's not very nice for families to have to go before the Department of Health to be screened when they see a loved one have to go to a nursing home because that individual needs long-term care. Whether it's Alzheimer's, Parkinson's Disease or what have you.

I will give you an example of some of the abuse that some of my constituents have gone through. One lady, her husband wasn't even in the hospital five days and the Department of Health officials came and said, you have to sign this so we can assess your husband for long-term care. They hadn't even fully diagnosed the individual and the evidence will support that. That poor gentleman, God love him, passed away just several weeks ago. What he went through in that hospital was just something else - the pain and the suffering. They had a few thousand dollars saved so they could educate their children. One daughter had just started university this year and the mother wanted to use that money, it was barely enough, to cover the expenses for more than one year in university. The Department of Health officials advised this lady that she should not touch that money but rather her daughter should go get a student loan. Where in the name of heaven is the conscience and the compassion in that statement? Where are the officials in the Department of Health getting the authority to dictate how a lady should help fund her children to get educated and become the leaders of tomorrow.

You think that's bad? They have a second child who is working for the first time in I don't know how many years, full-time, with student loans to pay because his parents couldn't afford to pay everything. Do you know what Department of Health officials tell this individual? Well, even though this farm, your father inherited this farm, we'll let you keep the house, but all the rest of the farm which has been in the family and handed down for five generations, you should go get a mortgage and buy the rest of the farm. Now, where is the

[Page 11184]

compassion in that? Is that the type of policy we have for the people of Nova Scotia? I don't think that's what was intended when the provincial government inherited this process through the exchange of services back in 1995. This was not the intent.

What happened is that the Conservative Government reinforced that policy, but they went beyond all reasonable expectations. They're starting to treat people as an opportunity for this government to balance the budget. That's wrong. That's wrong.

I received a call from another constituent just a few days ago. They already used up 50 per cent of the RRSPs that she and her husband had put aside. In three years, every cent of her husband's RRSPs were consumed - over $180,000 for three years of care in a nursing home in an Alzheimer's unit. Now they want to start dipping into what money she has to educate her children. She said she will go to jail before she will let the government take that money that she needs to educate her child who is now enrolled in a university. Is that compassion? Is that fairness? Is that the way we want to treat the people of Nova Scotia? I don't think so.

This is heartless. It's absolutely heartless and it's not what was intended when these policy processes were put in place. They were carried up from the municipal government through the exchange of services, but when the government of the day got their hands on this policy, they said, let's milk it for all it's worth because the people aren't going to say anything, they're not going to come forward. They will be too embarrassed to stand up and say we don't want to help our loved one in a nursing home or a long-term care facility. They underestimated how people would react to such a repressive, cruel policy.

Mr. Speaker, that's why they solicited the support from Donald Rumsfeld from the U.S. military in their corporate strategy. Things are so bad that they have to go to the United States military to solicit somebody to advise them on how to manage the stakeholders, manage the seniors of this province. This is absolutely shameful. I say shame, not only on the minister, shame on every Cabinet Minister in that government, and shame on the backbenchers who are silently sitting there, knowing that their constituents are getting hammered by this government, this policy. (Interruptions) What are we getting? We're getting catcalls. Don't give us the catcalls, go to your constituents and talk to them, and listen to what they're saying. They will be waiting for you come the next election.

You know they have a graph in here, Mr. Speaker, in their corporate plan. The background, CRA, Government Satisfaction from 1989-2002. It looks like a life support graph for this government. It looks like a bad reading of the Richter scale, that's what it is. That's how dysfunctional this government has become, they have to manage the stakeholders. This is what they're saying, focus on service, under-the-hood stuff.

Mr. Speaker, give us a break.

[Page 11185]

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to have an opportunity to rise in my place and speak in support of this bill that was introduced by the Leader of the NDP caucus, who I am very proud to be associated with. The campaign that he has waged on behalf of this caucus that has garnered the support which has resulted in this bill being on the floor has been very gratifying, I must say, for myself as a member. As I talk to people in my constituency, they consistently extend their support and offer best wishes for success with this campaign.

Mr. Speaker, the reason why people are supporting this legislation and this campaign is because this bill is about people and not about budgets. It's about living up to the principles that we take pride in as Canadians. These are principles that if you get sick or you get ill in this country, there's collective responsibility that we pool our resources and we ensure the care is there for people when they need it, and that no one will have to suffer the impoverishment of having to disburse their assets and practically everything they own in order to have health care. That is the Canadian way, and that should be the Nova Scotian way. That's why this bill is here today.

This is a responsibility that we in this caucus take very seriously. No Nova Scotian should be a second-class citizen in this country. No senior citizen should be treated like a second-class citizen in this country and this minister stands in his place and says that his government has made seniors a priority.

Mr. Speaker, I would hate to think what it would look like if they weren't a priority. I would hate to think what that would look like because I will tell you the seniors in this province are feeling extremely neglected by this government. I will tell you about a call I had today from a man in my constituency. At the end of the phone call he said to me, well, Ms. MacDonald, I just want to let you know that I was one of the people who put that government where they are and I can assure you that I will be one of the people who makes sure that that government isn't there after the next election.

Mr. Speaker, when I was re-elected in the last election campaign, I had a call from my mother who was inquiring about a situation that had been brought to her attention where a woman in our community, the community where my mother lives in rural Nova Scotia, in Antigonish County, had a stroke. She was in hospital and was being assessed for nursing home care and when the assessment was done, everything but the actual house in which this woman lived, a modest house surrounded by a woodshed, a barn and a few head of cattle where her adult son - who lived at home, managed a small private woodlot, raised cattle for their own use, really a very modest situation - in fact, was being told that the woodlot, the woodshed, the barn, the two head of cattle, all of this constituted assets that would have to

[Page 11186]

be used in terms of paying for his mother's care in a nursing home. This young man who was dealing with the knowledge that his mother had just had this serious stroke and would never be back in the family home on the family farm, was profoundly upset to imagine that he was going to be displaced from this property and from his way of life, really his means of support in many respects.

When my mother asked me if this was the policy, I frankly said, no, it can't possibly be because it seemed to me to be extraordinarily extreme and harsh beyond anything I had ever really encountered. Mr. Speaker, as you know, I come from the health profession and have worked in social work for a number of years and could not quite believe the extent to which the arm of the government was reaching into the assets of this particular family.

Well, Mr. Speaker, it didn't take long for all members of this caucus through our involvement in our constituencies and in our respective critic areas to have very similar kinds of situations presented to us over and over again. The Leader of the Opposition when he was the Health Critic brought numerous examples of similar situations onto the floor of the House and received very little support or recognition from the government. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, I'm being asked to yield the floor and I'm quite prepared to do that.

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Thank you very much, Mr. Speaker, and thanks to the member for Halifax Needham. Just a brief introduction, I'm not sure if Mr. Fraser was previously introduced, I know he has been around the House the last couple of days, but in our gallery this evening is Frank Fraser. He's the Mayor of Canso as many people would know. I believe they're down on UNSM business and I know there are others with him. So we welcome all of them to the House of Assembly to listen in on this very important piece of legislation. It's good to see that they're here to take an interest in our business. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Halifax Needham has the floor.

[5:45 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I join with other members in welcoming our guests. Mr. Speaker, we have sat here today and heard the minister talk in glowing terms about the extent to which this government in fact, in his view, has invested in long-term care. If you use the figures that the minister is putting forward, this government, he says, has put an additional $56 million in long-term care over the course of their term in government. This is the same government that has taken $80 million from seniors toward the cost of long-term

[Page 11187]

care since they have been in government. They in fact have taken more money from seniors than they have invested, or reinvested, in long-term care, that's shameful.

This minister stands and he talks about the assets that they don't look for and he claims that personal automobiles of the community-dwelling spouse do not factor into the assessment. Well, I want to tell the minister that the person from my riding who called me today, who's been assessed at $51,000 a year for the nursing home care of his wife, was asked specifically in the assessment process that has occurred in this period of time, how much he thought he could get if he sold his 1988 Chev Impala, or something like this. I'm sorry, but somebody's not telling the minister what's really happening in the process if the minister thinks that this isn't going on.

I want to make absolutely crystal clear that I, and members of this caucus, have nothing but the utmost respect for the people who have to go out on the front lines and meet with families and gather the information and do the assessments. What we have extreme difficulty with is the assessment tool that those workers did not develop, that those workers don't have any choice in terms of administering and that those workers today cannot speak out in terms of how they feel about the bluntness of that instrument that they're being asked to use in the assessment process because this government with the Minister of Community Services has certainly sent a very clear message to workers in their employ. If they dare speak out about how they feel about the nature of the service that they're able to provide, they will have letters of reprimand placed on their employment file. So don't kid yourself, the staff is doing the best they can and acting professionally within the scope of their employment. I think that needs to be said.

Mr. Speaker, this government claims that they consult and they listen to seniors. Seniors have been raising this issue for a considerable period of time. Last winter, one of the largest groups of seniors had their annual meeting in the minister's hometown of Truro and they produced a report with a number of recommendations to government coming out of that meeting. Included in that report was the recommendation that the health care component of long-term care be included in health care provision in Nova Scotia. So, this government has known, they have heard from seniors for some considerable period of time and have really just chosen to ignore what it is that seniors were saying.

I want to say to my colleagues in the other caucus that you may want to deflect from your responsibility in the current process, but we're not buying that. Many of you were in government - not only in government, you were in the Cabinet when the service exchange occurred between the municipalities and the province. You had the opportunity to do the right thing in this matter. The Minister of Health, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Community Services, the Minister of Finance, you sit there and you had the opportunity of making these changes and making seniors a priority and doing the fair thing and making sure that Nova Scotian seniors weren't second-class citizens. I'm very pleased that you have

[Page 11188]

decided to support this campaign and to support changes, but I think it is important that we say here that you had the opportunity and when you had the opportunity, you didn't do it.

The continuing care program is an important element in health care in Nova Scotia and the former Minister of Health, at the end of his discussion said - well, I hear the former Minister of Health talking about their health care budget and I remind that member that the $600 million health care budget they introduced without a plan included no plan to fix the dreadful problem in long-term care, no plan whatsoever. Some of us haven't been here all that long, but we were here long enough to remember that they had that opportunity and they didn't take it.

Seniors across the province and other groups as well, not just seniors, are watching this issue because they understand that it is an issue that's about fairness. They understand that it's also an issue that will test whether or not the government is listening and is prepared to respond to the wishes of Nova Scotians. The 18,000 signatures on the petition that we gathered came from people across the political spectrum, across the province geographically, across the ages - it was actually very gratifying to be at the Dartmouth Ferry Terminal and have a lot of younger people come forward and sign that petition.

People recognize the inherent unfairness in the current system and they recognize the importance of health care. They share the values that make us proud of being Canadians in terms of our health care system and having a comprehensive system that will ensure that the coverage is there for people throughout their life cycle.

The member for Dartmouth East talked about keeping people out of nursing homes and putting focus and some emphasis there. Nobody in this caucus would disagree with the importance of home care and the importance of having comprehensive assisted living programs and solutions, but the reality is that there always will be a proportion, a percentage of our population who will require nursing home care. What we need to come to grips with, as a province, and we're really pleading with the government, demanding, is that this government come to the grips with this situation in the long-term care sector right now. This government has devoted substantial resources to public relations campaigns that will create the illusion that they're addressing issues in various areas, education, health care, what have you. What we would like to see is a government that goes beyond the superficial public relations campaigns, but that actually addresses the real problems that people are experiencing in their lives and in their communities.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier has acknowledged that the current situation is not fair but it's very disappointing that he's not prepared to do anything substantial in terms of addressing this serious issue when we have an opportunity now in here, in the Legislature, to take this issue and move forward and actually see some action.

[Page 11189]

Mr. Speaker, I would say that people in this province really don't want to wait for an election to have this issue addressed. They would like to have the issue addressed now. This would be an excellent opportunity for demonstrating to Nova Scotians how democracy actually can work in the province, that you can have effective Opposition, you can have Opposition working together and supporting an idea that's a good idea, you can have government taking an idea that's a good idea and enacting change that will result in better lives for people.

Really, when it comes down to it, that's why we're all here, or that's why we all should be here, we're here because we care about people. When people are reaching out to their representatives to have issues that are important to them addressed, that's our responsibility. (Applause)

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

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 2:00 p.m. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Bill No. 142. If we finish Bill No. 142, we will move on to Bill No. 143 and Bill No. 144, et cetera. I would advise the House that tomorrow there is an assembly on the Hollis Street side of Province House for a candlelight march. Several members of the House are taking part, and it's been agreed by all three Parties that we will relax the quorum requirements after 5:30 p.m. tomorrow.

I move that the House do now rise.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow, to sit until 6:00 p.m. Would all those in favour of the motion please say Aye. Contrary minded, Nay.

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Kings West.

[Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the positive economic optimism fuelling many of our rural communities across Nova Scotia.]

[Page 11190]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ECON. DEV. - RURAL COMMUNITIES:

ECON. OPTIMISM - RECOGNIZE

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, as a long-time resident of rural Nova Scotia, it's my pleasure tonight to talk about the optimism that is out there in many parts of the province. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, I will speak about an area that I am more familiar with, and that is the Annapolis Valley and in particular Kings County of which Kings West is a part. In that area, we have had unprecedented growth in areas that I haven't seen in my lifetime. In the past 40 or 50 years, for example, the Village of Kingston has been, one would say, not in a growth mode, and yet in the last year we have seen things happen there that have just not happened in that time frame. So people have an enthusiasm and are investing in the area. There are new buildings. The Mainstreet development is taking great strides and we are seeing new industries and small industries. The backbone of our economy in rural Nova Scotia is made up of small industry and with people who employ four or five people, three or four people, and we're seeing more of this all the time and our government has been part of helping Kingston, for example, with its sewage systems and so on through various programs, federal, provincial. I am very thankful that our department with our Minister MacIsaac has helped to make this a better town with the ability to develop and to grow.

Bordering Kingston we have Greenwood which, of course, has been there since the 1940s and is recognized as one of the best Air Force bases in Canada and recently - last Saturday actually - they had the official opening for the Cormorant, the new helicopter replacing the Labradors that have been in service for over 40 years. It's a testimony to the people who work at Greenwood that they have kept these aircraft in such fine shape and have provided a service that I can tell you, after seeing the Cormorant and knowing that at least two more and possibly three are coming to Greenwood for search and rescue, that members of the families of the Armed Forces will be able to rest easier and have more faith in the product there and be confident that their loved ones are going in equipment that is fit to use. So I'm very pleased to see that.

Also in Greenwood we have industrial growth opportunities. We just announced, not too long ago, development there for renovations of the French school and by having that French school we have opened opportunities to the community to have industry come in. We have the land base there to do it and so I look forward to seeing good things happen in that end of the province and our county which haven't happened in a number of years.

[Page 11191]

I don't have to move too far up to the Town of Berwick, the only town in my constituency, but we've seen evidence of a community working together with industry and government - municipal, provincial and federal - to see good things happen there. They have a water strategy now, Mr. Speaker, that will accommodate the industry and the residents in such a way that they won't have to have the concerns of the past of using too much water or it not being healthy for the citizens to use.

Industry there, Larsens that has been purchased by Maple Leaf over the last few years, has made a commitment because they had support from this provincial government and, again, I would thank the minister for providing that support at a time when we needed jobs in that area. Larsens at this time are employing approximately 450 people and it stabilized the community. We now know that Larsens will be there because of the commitment they have put in. They put in about $600,000 of their own money. So that's a commitment that we know they're not going to walk away from. We also see the production from Cobi Foods there where they also are a major employer of this community. So Berwick, a town that has had its ups and downs, now appears to be on stable footing and in a growth mode and just another example of people's confidence in rural Nova Scotia and in what's happening in Nova Scotia today.

Kings County, as you might be aware, has continued to have some growth. Last year it was not as great as it had been in the last three or four. However, it is an area that is continuing to expand and it is a great place to live. We have a tremendous number of seniors. We have a tremendous number of people retiring from the military after they're posted to Greenwood or some area, they travel through and they come back to stay. Now, I would like to say that all is rosy and good. Unfortunately, there are some problems and challenges and those challenges I feel we are meeting to some degree. As we see change, most of us are a little resistant to change and I guess in my mind it would be nice if we could continue to have the small farms that once were very popular in Kings County and throughout Nova Scotia and we have lost a number of those and I believe that's unfortunate, but with having to have efficiencies and to deal in a global market in the agricultural business, we've been forced to get into technology to get into efficiencies that will force production and volume to be greater. That is one of the things that I will take a few minutes to talk about.

There's no question that being in a global market, if we want to produce products, we have to be competitive in price and in today's retail area, there are basically two or three retail outlets that purchase and they, naturally, being good business people, are buying where they can purchase at the best price. This makes it very difficult when we get talking the economics of scale and getting produce in the challenge that we are really looking at is that we're seeing the farming community receiving prices for products that were there in the 1970s.

[Page 11192]

This is a problem, but it is a world problem and our people have responded, rural Nova Scotians have responded - the farming community. They have taken the challenge, they are efficient, they are using technology, they are good businessmen. But what has happened, we have lost the family farm, unfortunately in my opinion, because some of them had to leave the farm over the years to make up, just so they could live on a farm and say they were part-time farmers.

Today, that has changed. We have corporate farms and they are run like businesses and many of them are doing exceptionally well. The unfortunate part, we have a challenge and I would like to see governments - not just our government because it will take more than that, it will take municipal, federal - to all work together to enable young people to become part of the farming community to buy out the corporate farms. A farm today wouldn't have to be a very large farm to have a $1 million investment. To purchase that, bankers are looking for at least 10 per cent equity and not many people are sitting around with $100,000 to drop in as young people. We have to make it so that those people can purchase the farm, use the farm, make a living on it and take a reasonable salary. Those are challenges that I think all levels of government are going to have to work towards.

I look forward to seeing our government and I know that our government is working with the federal government trying to work out issues so that we can deal with these problems. As I said, it's not all rosy out there but there are people that are doing exceptionally well.

I see I'm going to run out of time before I run out of information here. When I get on farming, it just seems to roll from me. Just to conclude, I have great optimism for rural Nova Scotia and as I said, my area in particular. Prior to the House sitting and during the Summer, I went to many events - one would have been the Apple Blossom Festival, one would have been Berwick Gala Days and when you see the young people who take part in that and support it and you see the young ladies who participate to be princesses and queens and so on, you see young people who are educated, young people who are familiar with their community, who love their community and are going to become educators, responsible people in the community, who want to return there and will be a part of a vibrant community. We just have to work as a total government in all aspects, in my opinion, to bring this about. So I thank you for the opportunity tonight to share.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: I want to say thanks to the honourable member for bringing forward this resolution. I can't remember if the honourable member read the be it resolved clause, but I will do that.

"Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the positive economic optimism fuelling many of our rural communities across Nova Scotia.".

[Page 11193]

Well, I guess when I first saw this and even more so when I saw the honourable member for Kings West stand to speak, it reminded me of the cartoon of the two deer walking through the woods and one of them has a target on the side of it and the other deer says, "Bummer of a birthmark." That only makes me think that for a member of this government to stand and talk about optimism in rural Nova Scotia, then I really have to say that you're putting a target on your forehead.

When I think of rural Nova Scotia, I think of the resource sector mainly. Now that member comes from a county, Kings County, which I don't know if it still is the present case but I would say it is probably close if it's not, but there are three areas in Canada with the highest agricultural receipts and Kings County was one of those and I suspect that it still is. Its because of agriculture and the driving force it has in that economy. I want to say actually for the honourable member who is here from Cape Breton, that I look at Kings County as an excellent example of what it is that perhaps we can do in this province. I would say that the Kings County economy is not connected to the Halifax economy per se. I look at that as possibilities for generating economic wealth around the province and look at what they've done in Kings County in regard to agriculture.

Once you have an economic base that keeps people there, that they actually can make money and you can keep young families there, then you have a basis for which other industry can grow. In other words, if there are young families there, you're going to need doctors, you're going to need schools. If you have schools, then you're going to need teachers and you're going to have teachers' salaries in those communities. Then you're going to generate a whole service sector that has to provide for the needs of those people in those communities. This is also a member from a government that, as far as I can see, has kicked rural Nova Scotia at about every turn that it possibly could. I think if it wasn't for the resilience and the long-standing commitment of people in rural Nova Scotia, the situation would be far worse than it is. Kings County is actually a good example but its almost unique in this province as a resource-based and almost an agricultural-based economy.

Now there are people there probably who would argue with that because there is a lot that is attractive about Kings County that is not related to agriculture. It has a good climate, it's as far as traveling distance and actually if that highway is ever twinned, if the member thinks that there's growth now, its going to become much more of a bedroom community than it is. There are universities there that employ people and we could build institutions like that anywhere in the province as far as that goes.

Today we talked about, or I talked about, in question period, the crisis in the pork industry and if there is a sector of agriculture that is a major contributor to the economy of Kings County, it's the pork industry in this province. Kings County can make the claim that there are probably more hogs produced in that county than in any other county in this province. The minister has turned his back on that industry. I read an example of what the Progressive Conservative Government in Prince Edward Island is doing for their industry.

[Page 11194]

I think this minister can do the same. Actually a minister who spoke in this House in support and urged the former Liberal Government to give aid to the pork industry in 1998 and which the honourable minister, Ed Lorraine at the time, did do that. I say that I supported them on that and I commended them for their effort in trying to stabilize that industry.

The member talked about agriculture and I know he speaks passionately about it. I know that this is an area that he knows, I know its an area that he likes and I know that its an area that his connection in the community is important to him. I want to say for those commodities that are not supply managed, it's a scary world and pork, even though it has a marketing board, it is not supply managed. Until we have a mechanism whereby producers can get something close, or they have a formula that they can get a price based on their cost of production, we're always going to have these ups and downs in the pork industry. We're a province where that industry only provides 65 per cent of the need of pork in this province, 35 per cent is brought in from elsewhere, and they should be getting a premium.

[6:15 p.m.]

We had the mayor from Canso here. There is a town that is in dire straits. There is no optimism in Canso. This government has not moved an inch, and our Minister of Agriculture who is also our Minister of Fisheries has not moved an inch trying to help in any way. Actually that municipality, the town, is trying to come up with a plan to create jobs there themselves, so that people could possibly qualify for EI. They've had no support from government, they've had very little support federally, actually, and that's even more troublesome, but certainly provincially. There's no optimism in Canso with this government. They're really struggling and trying to do things on their own because they really have been left out there.

Agriculture, the fishery and forestry are the three big resource generators, unless we get to mining, which I will, but as far as natural resources that I speak about right now, they are renewable and sustainable. There is a report, Forest Health in Canada: An Overview 1998, Forest Health Network, Canadian Forest Service, Natural Resources Canada, 1999, it's dated. I can table these two or three pages out of that.

Mr. Speaker, it talks about the Atlantic Maritime ecozone and over-harvesting on private woodlots. It talks specifically about the level of over-harvesting in New Brunswick, it doesn't talk specifically about how much we're over-harvesting in Nova Scotia. We're over-harvesting by 1.5 times in New Brunswick, so I've tried to get the whole report to see whether or not I can get a number for Nova Scotia, but it does not exclude Nova Scotia in over-harvesting. It talks about over-harvesting in the Maritimes and not just over-harvesting in New Brunswick, it just gives a number for New Brunswick.

[Page 11195]

There are real problems. As the forest sector has eaten up more of our resource, and I think in this House, earlier in the year, we presented some documents that would indicate that roughly 97 per cent of the cutting and harvesting in this province is by clear-cutting. We figured the numbers out to be around 110,000 acres per year. Nova Scotians are not optimistic about that. As they cut every year, as the harvesting level has gone up with changes in technologies and some would say improvements, the level of employment has gone down, so we're not creating more jobs, we're creating fewer jobs even though we're harvesting more and more trees. The member talked about a global economy, and he talked about the disappearance of the small farm. Have I reached my time? Thank you.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, whatever optimism there was in rural Nova Scotia Railway has been shattered by the news yesterday that the Cape Breton and Central Nova Scotia is abandoning rail service in Cape Breton, and that the Deep Panuke project has been put on hold. I hope people are optimistic in rural Nova Scotia, I really do. Optimism alone won't change the fact that our young people are leaving their communities. There's little hope for the young and skilled. Despite the flurry of paving announcements, the infrastructure in this province is deplorable.

There are examples of communities rallying to fill the void left by a government who has abandoned economic development in this province, but they can't do it alone. For example, air service in Sydney and Yarmouth has not been assisted by this government despite a promise in the blue book to market these airports, a clear promise, Mr. Speaker.

One of the greatest opportunities for development is passing us by because this government has no intention to allow gas distribution throughout Nova Scotia. In fact, only 4,000 homes will be serviced in 10 years. Even worse, we are losing out on value-added opportunities for the petrochemical and electricity generation as the government does nothing to promote the Guysborough advantage.

Tourism has been down every year this government has been in office, every year, Mr. Speaker, and now today Cape Breton is about to lose its rail line service. People in Nova Scotia are tough and optimistic, but what they need is support from this government. Instead, taxes are higher than ever and services, particularly in the rural areas, are fewer than ever. I want now to table in the House a page from the infamous Tory blue book which states very clearly, "Implement policies and measures such as tax incentives that recognize and respond to the need for stimulating the economies of rural Nova Scotia." I would like to table that page out of the infamous Tory blue book, a book of promises, of course.

Mr. Speaker, the question is where are these incentives? Where are they? The defeat of the last Liberal budget meant that special enterprise zone measures were defeated and the government has not provided the tax incentives it promised except for a slight rise in film

[Page 11196]

tax credits for rural areas. The bottom line is that all Nova Scotians do not share in the optimism because government has abandoned them, and they believe that firmly and I speak to these individuals on a daily basis, not only economically, but also in terms such as health care, education and many other resources that I could fall into. There have been emergency room closures throughout Nova Scotia in communities such as Weymouth and Richmond and are without doctors. That hardly inspires optimism or confidence so let's put the rhetoric aside and work for real meaningful optimism rather than the kind of paper optimism we see here today.

Mr. Speaker, we can look at many issues, the insurance issue, for instance. In rural areas, as most of us are aware, there is no public transportation infrastructure accessible for seniors, low income families and individuals with disabilities. They struggle to travel to doctor's appointments and various other appointments and they struggle because they cannot afford to pay higher fees for insurance on their vehicles and add in the higher taxes on those insurance rates and you have a formula that is very negatively impacting rural Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, property taxes have increased in many, many rural communities in this province because of the direct downloading of this provincial government onto many of the municipal units throughout the province; many that are clinging to their very structure, they're struggling in this province to make ends meet and they look towards the provincial government for leadership and assistance. It has failed. The provincial government, at least since I've come into this House, is a failure.

Visit the community of Canso, visit the rural areas in this province where people don't have money to access buses, they don't have the ability to purchase tickets; when they do visit an urban area, they simply walk about. They simply cannot afford it because of the negative impact this government is having in the rural areas throughout the province.

Today we saw the Premier of this province, the one individual that everyone looks upon. My colleague, the member for Cape Breton South clearly indicated false statements being made in this House today with regard to rural areas and, I'll be more precise, in particular to the job growth on Cape Breton Island.

Those statistics were wrong. People in this province have more intelligence than this government recognizes. They see through this government, they are not being fooled. It is time for the government to sit down with the stakeholders throughout this province and to put a real plan, a plan that they could participate in and feel part of, a plan that would work to bring benefits to the people that we represent. That is what Nova Scotians deserve and expect from their provincial government.

It is time for action. Words, all this rhetoric, cannot be spent at the cash register in many of these homes where residents require money to purchase the very utilities that we require each and every day.

[Page 11197]

The struggles are upon the rural area adamantly. We can look at equalization payments to the municipalities. We can look at assessment services that have just been downloaded upon the municipal units which likely, eventually, if it has not already occurred will mean higher property tax rates in many of these units.

It's time for the government to get on a clear course, to accept the advice, not only from the Opposition, but from Nova Scotians and allow them to participate in a process that will be fair, aggressive and, hopefully, positively impacting our communities. With that, Mr. Speaker, thank you and I appreciate the time to be here.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you and I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in this debate this evening.

We are adjourned.

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

[Page 11198]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4510

By: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Finance)

M. le président, à une date ultérieure, j'ai l'intention de proposer l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que à chaque année, la Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse décerne le Certificat de mérite Léger Comeau; et

Attendu que le Certificat de mérite est décerné à une personne qui a contribué de façon exceptionnelle à la promotion du peuple acadien de la Nouvelle-Écosse; et

Attendu que cette année, à son assemblée annuelle, la Fédération acadienne reconnaissait M. Paul D. Gallant de Chéticamp pour son travail exceptionnel et les heures innombrables qu'il consacre au développement des arts et de la culture dans sa communauté;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses félicitations à M. Paul D. Gallant pour sa contribution communautaire et remercie la Fédération acadienne pour tout son travail envers le développement de la communauté acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

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

Whereas each year the Fédération acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse awards the Certificate of Merit Léger Comeau; and

Whereas the Certificate of Merit is given to an individual who has made an exceptional contribution to the promotion of the Acadian community of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas at this year's annual general meeting, the Fédération acadienne recognized Mr. Paul D. Gallant of Cheticamp for his exceptional work and the countless hours he has devoted to the development of arts and culture in his community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Paul D. Gallant for his contribution to the community and extend its thanks to the Fédération acadienne for its tireless work towards the development of the Acadian community.

[Page 11199]

RESOLUTION NO. 4511

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas John Caulfield has been named the number one tennis player (14 and under) heading off to the Atlantic Championships in Charlottetown, P.E.I.; and

Whereas after winning the opening Circuit Aliant Tournament, John has captured the New Brunswick Provincial Championship in Grand Falls, N.B., followed by tournament victories in Dieppe and Moncton, N.B.; and

Whereas John stated he would love to advance to the National Championships where he could match up against the best in the country and could then determine what he needs to improve on;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John Caulfield on his many achievements and wish him the best in all of his endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4512

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas employees of Stanfield Ltd., Oxford, raised $2,194.50 during this year's fundraising campaign, allowing them to ride the Heart and Stroke Foundation's Boss of Bikes; and

Whereas Elizabeth Canning topped the pledge sheet, rasing $256 and she was awarded the "easy seat" (no pedals) on the 29-seat bike; and

Whereas Big Bike 2001 in Nova Scotia raised $117,400, helping the foundation hit the $1 million mark, over 1,000 Nova Scotia pedallers climbed on board for 45 rides in 27 communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Stanfield Ltd., Oxford, for their fundraising campaign.

[Page 11200]

RESOLUTION NO. 4513

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Nora Hurley, a Grade 5 graduate of Oxford Regional Elementary School, was presented the first Best All Around Student Award by Principal Kevin Palmer; and

Whereas the award was donated by James King in memory of his mother Freda King who taught at Oxford Regional Elementary School for many years, retiring in 1974; and

Whereas James King asked that the award (chosen by ORES staff) be given to a student with high academic standing and that athleticism not be included;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Nora Hurley for receiving this award and James King for donating it.

RESOLUTION NO. 4514

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas four clients at Springhill's GOVRC Workshop brought home gold and silver medals from the Provincial Summer Games in Halifax last month; and

Whereas Terry Black, Dan Black and Jason Rhindress shut out their opponents 16-0 in game two of the soccer championships to walk away with the gold medal while Chrissy Stonehouse earned silver in track; and

Whereas the local soccer playing trio secured a perfect 2-0 record after finishing their first match with a 7-5 victory and Stonehouse said, "I tried for first, but I fell down, so I got second place";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Terry Black, Dan Black, Jason Rhindress and Chrissy Stonehouse for their hard work and determination.

[Page 11201]

RESOLUTION NO. 4515

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Michael Mason has the distinction of being the only Springhiller on the Casey Concrete Mixers who captured the Amherst Little League pennant July 26th and the championship August 22nd; and

Whereas Mason's parents, Terry and Laura, are grateful towards Coaches Darrell Cole, Larry Lines, Doug Chapman and Mike LeBlanc who let Michael partake in such a successful year of ball; and

Whereas Michael Mason has been playing ball for the last six years and this is the first year playing in this league;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Michael Mason and the Casey Concrete Mixers for winning the Amherst Little League pennant and championship.

RESOLUTION NO. 4516

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Pierre Landry, General Manager of the Springhill Paint Recycling Company, was presented with a plaque recognizing the company's Maritime region victory; and

Whereas the plaque was presented by Blaine Lewis, Vice-President of the New Brunswick division of Canadian Manufacturers and Exporters, and David Healey, Maritime representative on the National Resources Council; and

Whereas the award was presented to Landry on Monday, September 9, 2002, for their victory at the First Annual Regional Award for Sustainable Development;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Pierre Landry and all the workers at the Springhill Paint Recycling Company for receiving their first award.

[Page 11202]

RESOLUTION NO. 4517

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas 15-year-old Alan Ferguson hit the bull's eye more ways than one in Ottawa this summer, the Springhiller was named the "best shot" at the annual Army Cadet National Summer Training Centre; and

Whereas he noted the highlight of this experience was meeting new friends he hopes to see in future marksman courses, also encouraging words such as "great job" from senior army officials; and

Whereas his success this year may lead him to Bisley, England, next summer to compete in international cadet and National Rifle Association matches and later return to Canada for other competitions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Alan Ferguson for receiving the Canadian Guards Association Guard's Cup, Dominion of Canada Rifle Association trophy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4518

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Doug Bragg Enterprises hosted an open house June 27th, a celebration of its recent expansions, where 300 invited guests were given the opportunity to tour the expanded facility; and

Whereas it was a day to learn of the company's new products as well as a day for the company to show its customers and suppliers its appreciation; and

Whereas company President Carl Bragg said it was also a celebration of his company's Phase II expansion, a new 6,000-square-foot facility, to house its electronics and plastics divisions;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Doug Bragg Enterprises for its recent expansion which may help to generate jobs.

[Page 11203]

RESOLUTION NO. 4519

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas two local Springhill businesses were recent recipients of appreciation certificates by the Springhill and Oxford Chapter of the Kidney Foundation; and

Whereas Ron and Kathy Reynolds, owners of the Lamp Camp Beverage Room in Springhill, and Bud Anderson, owner of Tim Hortons in Springhill and Oxford, were presented with certificates; and

Whereas both are very supportive in the Kidney Foundation's fundraising annual Boxing Day Breakfast activities which are held at the Lamp Camp Beverage Room;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ron and Kathy Reynolds and Bud Anderson on receiving their appreciation certificates.

RESOLUTION NO. 4520

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Cumberland County Exhibition held its annual Miss Cumberland 2002 Pageant on August 27, 2002, with all of Cumberland County being represented; and

Whereas Ashley Martin of Springhill was crowned Miss Cumberland with Megan Fahey as Second Princess and Jodie Waalderbos as First Princess; and

Whereas Melissa Mouland was chosen as Miss Congeniality while Catherine Pal was tops in self-expression with Megan Fahey also winning the evening wear competition;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these young ladies in winning and all of those contestants in the Miss Cumberland Pageant.

[Page 11204]

RESOLUTION NO. 4521

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas 32 cross-country runners from Maple Grove Education Centre recently travelled to Bridgewater to participate in the Southwest Regional Championships; and

Whereas Maple Grove's Junior Boys Team captured first place and the intermediate team placed third; and

Whereas many individual runners from the Maple Grove squad turned in strong performances that earned them the chance to compete at the provincial championships in Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all members of the Maple Grove Education Centre cross-country running team on their impressive showing at the Southwest Regional Championships and wish them well as they advance to the provincial championships.

RESOLUTION NO. 4522

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Junior High School girls' soccer team enjoyed a banner season this year with a perfect 14-0 record; and

Whereas the team continued their winning ways recently by capturing the gold medal at the Western Regional Championships held in Clare; and

Whereas the team had to overcome inclement weather and strong challenges from teams from Wolfville and Clare to claim the championship;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Coaches Tom Muise and Tom MacMillan and all the members of the Yarmouth Junior High School girls' soccer team on their championship season and wish them well in the future.