Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-128

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 20, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Educ. - P3 Soccer Fields: Utilization - Increase, Mr. D. Dexter 11812
Environ. & Lbr. - Digby Neck: Quarry - Concerns, Mr. H. Epstein 11812
PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES:^
Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs Report, Mr. W. Langille 11813
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority, Hon. D. Morse 11813
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - N.S. Business Registry: Activities - Update,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 11813
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4828, Child Day (N.S.) 11/20/02 - Proclaim, The Premier 11816
Vote - Affirmative 11817
Res. 4829, NSCC: Creativity/Excellence - Recognize, Hon. J. Purves 11817
Vote - Affirmative 11818
Res. 4830, Landry, Hayden/Surette, Guy & Patsy - Community:
Contribution - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 11818
Vote - Affirmative 11819
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 4831, McDonalds McHappy Day (11/20/02): Fundraising -
Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 11819
Vote - Affirmative 11820
Res. 4832, Nat'l. Child Day (11/20/02): Importance - Recognize,
Mr. W. Gaudet 11820
Vote - Affirmative 11821
Res. 4833, Middleton United Baptist Church - Anniv. (141st)
Renovations: Warm Wishes - Extend, Mr. F. Chipman 11821
Vote - Affirmative 11822
Res. 4834, McDonalds McHappy Day (11/20/02) - Spryfield McDonalds:
Staff/Volunteers - Thank, Mr. Robert Chisholm 11822
Vote - Affirmative 11822
Res. 4835, Dethridge, Claire - Mun. Gov't.: Service (20 yrs.) -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 11822
Vote - Affirmative 11823
Res. 4836, City Drug Store (Yar.): Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Mr. R. Hurlburt 11823
Vote - Affirmative 11824
Res. 4837, Maloney, Chief Reg/Councillors - Indian Brook:
Election - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 11824
Vote - Affirmative 11825
Res. 4838, Global Action Network - Lobster Fishery: Attack - Cease,
Mr. M. Samson 11825
Vote - Affirmative 11825
Res. 4839, Miller, Trever - Flotation Device: Invention - Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 11826
Vote - Affirmative 11826
Res. 4840, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Cell Phones: Driving - Ban,
Mr. J. Pye 11826
Res. 4841, Stephen, Norah - Oncology Scholar Awards: Creation -
Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 11827
Vote - Affirmative 11828
Res. 4842, Smith, Murray - Baseball N.S. Hall of Fame: Induction -^^
Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 11828
Vote - Affirmative 11828
Res. 4843, Merlin-Walsh, Rory - Tae Kwan Do Comp. (Korea):
Medals - Congrats., Mr. W. Estabrooks 11829
Vote - Affirmative 11829
Res. 4844, Cornell, David - Rising Star (Daily News): Recognition -
Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 11829
Vote - Affirmative 11830
Res. 4845, Pictou Co. Business Summit: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 11830
Vote - Affirmative 11831
Res. 4846, Dallaire, Romeo - St. FX: Honorary Deg. - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 11831
Vote - Affirmative 11832
Res. 4847, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Truck-Driving Courses:
Gov't. (Can.) - Support Urge, Mr. B Taylor 11832
Vote - Affirmative 11833
Res. 4848, Bond, Jessica: Commun. Support/QE II - Thank,
Mr. J. Chataway 11833
Vote - Affirmative 11833
Re. 4849, Perry, Hattie: Book Launch - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 11834
Vote - Affirmative 11834
Res. 4850, Digby - Fisherman's Mem. Pk.: Dev. - Town Congrats.,
Hon. G. Balser 11834
Vote - Affirmative 11835
Res. 4851, Sports - QEH Lions: Football Championship - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 11835
Vote - Affirmative 11836
Res. 4852, Veinotte Fam. - Boston Christmas Tree: Provision -
Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 11836
Vote - Affirmative 11837
Res. 4853, Hilchie, Paddy/Winters, Jeff/Hoadley, Mark:
Lifesaving Efforts (11/14/02) - Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 11837
Vote - Affirmative 11838
Res. 4854, MacKay, Mike: 3M Coaching Can. Award (2002) -
Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 11838
Vote - Affirmative 11838
Res. 4855, Bouchard, May: Order of Can. - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 11839
Vote - Affirmative 11839
Res. 4856, Fdn. United Baptist Church - New Church: Opening -
Congrats., Mr. D. Hendsbee 11840
Vote - Affirmative 11840
Res. 4857, Meindl, Elfreide: Book Publication - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 11840
Vote - Affirmative 11841
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1313, Health - Nursing Home: Care - Payment Policy Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 11841
No. 1314, Health - Long-Term Care: Issues - Min. Name,
Dr. J. Smith 11842
No. 1315, Environ. & Lbr. - Digby Neck Quarry: Stop-Work Order -
Issue, Mr. H. Epstein 11843
No. 1316, Health - Nurses: Numbers - Confirm, Dr. J. Smith 11845
No. 1317, Premier's Conference - Lobster Dinner: Cost - Justify,
Mr. G. Steele 11846
No. 1318, Environ. & Lbr. - Digby Neck Quarry: Citizen Input -
Details, Mr. R. MacKinnon 11848
No. 1319, Energy - Heritage Gas: Proposal - Amend, Mr. J. Holm 11850
No. 1320, Health - Richmond Villa Design Work - Details,
Mr. M. Samson 11851
No. 1321, Health - Hepatitis C Victims: Non-Insured Services -
Details, Mr. D. Dexter 11852
No. 1322, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Bridge Repairs - Details,
Mr. B. Boudreau 11854
No. 1323, Environ. & Lbr. - Tobeatic Wilderness Area: Mining Permit -
Research, Mr. H. Epstein 11855
No. 1324, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Mavillette Bridge: Repair -
Time Frame, Mr. W. Gaudet 11856
No. 1325, Commun. Serv.: Fam. Res. Ctr. of W. Hants - Fund,
Mr. J. Pye 11857
No. 1326, Sports - Vince Ryan Mem. Hockey Tournament: Funding -
Decrease Explain, Mr. D. Wilson 11859
No. 1327, Gov't. (N.S.) - Travel Costs: Cost-Benefit Analysis -
Table, Mr. W. Estabrooks 11860
No. 1328, Health - Smoke-Free Places Act: Confusion - Correct,
Mr. D. Downe 11861
No. 1329, Justice - Occ. Health & Safety: Legal Services -
Reduction Explain, Mr. K. Deveaux 11863
No. 1330, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel. - ATVs: Registration Costs -
Detail, Mr. B. Boudreau 11864
No. 1331, Educ. - MacDonald Complex: Student Relocation -
Assistance Details, Mr. F. Corbett 11865
No. 1332, Environ. & Lbr. - Kyoto Accord: Analysis Completion -
Confirm, Mr. R. MacKinnon 11867
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 145, Homes for Special Care Act 11868
Mr. J. Holm 11869
Mr. B. Taylor 11871
Mr. W. Gaudet 11875
Mr. J. Pye 11877
No. 157, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act 11880
Mr. K. Deveaux 11880
Hon. M. Baker 11884
Mr. M. Samson 11887
Mr. G. Steele 11890
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Nov. 21st at 12:00 noon 11894
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 4858, Dodds, Elizabeth: Duke of Edinburgh Award - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 11895
Res. 4859, Hebb's Cross FD - Long-Service Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 11895
Res. 4860, Howlett, Phil - Arthritis Soc. (N.S.): Fundraising -
Efforts Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 11896
Res. 4861, Fougere, Claire & John - Animals: Kindness -
Gratitude Express, Hon. T. Olive 11896
Res. 4862, Francis, Jennifer & Jacqueline - Baton Twirling Assoc.
(Can. Nat'l.): Team - Selection Congrats., Mr. D. Dexter 11897
Res. 4863, WHW Architects: Lt.-Gov's. Award - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 11897
Res. 4864, RCL - Oxford Branch 36: Membership Awards - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11898
Res. 4865, Junction Rd. Elem. Sch. (Gr. 6): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11898
Res. 4866, Sports - Springhill Lady Golden Eagles: Basketball
Tournament - Placement Congrats., The Speaker 11899
Res. 4867, Oxford Volunteer FD Ladies' Aux.: Contribution -
Congrats., The Speaker 11899
Res. 4868, West End Mem. Sch. (Gr. 6): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11900
Res. 4869, Junction Rd. Elem. Sch. (Gr. 5): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11900
Res. 4870, West End Elem. Sch. (Gr. 5): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11901
Res. 4871, West End. Elem. Sch. (Gr. 4): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11901
Res. 4872, Junction Rd. Elem. Sch. (Gr. 4): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11902
Res. 4873, Junction Rd. Elem. Sch. (Gr. 3): Remembrance Day Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 11902
Res. 4874, West End Mem. Sch.: Remembrance Day Prog. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11903
Res. 4875, Sunshine Inn: Anniv. (20th) - Congrats., The Speaker 11903
Res. 4876, Oxford Area Lions Club - Service Pins: Recipients -
Congrats., The Speaker 11904
Res. 4877, Oxford Area Lions Club - Service Pins: Recipients -
Congrats, The Speaker 11904
Res. 4878, Pettigrew, Richard & Margaret: Anniv. (70th) - Congrats.,
The Speaker 11905

[Page 11811]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, NOVEMBER 20, 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. We will begin the daily routine.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I beg the indulgence of the House in a response to a request for information from the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. I have provided the member with a copy of the logs. I am pleased to table the logs from April 1st to October 31st fiscal year for the helicopter logs. I am pleased to provide them to the House for perusal.

MR. SPEAKER: The information is tabled.

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

11811

[Page 11812]

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by 945 people who signed as representatives of the soccer community in HRM east. These petitioners are urging the Province of Nova Scotia to work out a deal with the owners of P3 sports fields in this area. They express concerns about the availability of sufficient playing fields and write that the soccer community is suffering as a result. They want better utilization of P3 fields for soccer within the Dartmouth-Cole Harbour districts, including Eastern Passage. I have affixed my signature.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition that is signed by various residents of Digby Neck and Islands and the area around it. It concerns a proposed quarry for that area. The operative clause reads, "We hereby petition both governments to immediately withdraw their support for this and like enterprises of similar scale. We petition the provincial government to revoke Permit No. 2002026397 on the grounds that the permit was issued without due consideration for the potential impact of this enterprise, on the culture, habit, existing economy, and environment of the Digby Neck and Islands area." Mr. Speaker, this petition has been signed by 1,230 persons and I have affixed my signature. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Energy on an introduction.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would call the members' attention to a number of people in the gallery who have come to see the petition tabled by the member opposite. They are led by Reverend Dickinson, who is the president of an association moving forward their concerns about the proposed quarry. I would ask the members of the House to give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on an introduction. Last Sunday evening it was my pleasure to spend an evening with officials from the Town of Amherst and a delegation from Escalanta in the Philippines. They are currently here in the House this afternoon visiting the city and viewing our proceedings.

The delegation has members representing the mayor's office, municipal government, private enterprise and their economic development. In the gallery opposite I would like to introduce to the House, Adolfo Maguate; Eduardo Alunan; Godofredo Reteracion; Antonio Tantiaco; and their Canadian contact, Kristen Marinacci. With them is His Worship, Mayor

[Page 11813]

of Amherst, Jerry Hallee; the town CEO, Ed Childs; and Roger MacIsaac, the Economic Development Officer. I apologize if the pronunciation was not as close as it could be, but it is certainly my pleasure to welcome you here to the capital. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today. I think the honourable minister came quite close on the pronunciations, he did very well.

The honourable member for Kings North.

MR. MARK PARENT: Mr. Speaker, I would like to welcome one of my constituents who is here with Reverend Dickinson, Janet Eaton. I want to give a special welcome to Janet. (Applause)

[2:15 p.m.]

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Standing Committee on Veterans Affairs, I am pleased to submit the 2001-02 report of the committee for the Second Session of the Fifty-eighth General Assembly.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority for the fiscal year ended March 31, 2002.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to note an important milestone for this government and Nova Scotia's business community, and provide members of the House with an update on the activities of the Nova Scotia Business Registry. The on-line version of the Nova Scotia Business Registry has simplified the manner by which businesses tap into

[Page 11814]

government services, how they reserve a business name and register a business, how they apply for and obtain permits and licenses, and how they confirm WCB coverage for contractors and subcontractors. We have reduced red tape and increased convenience for business.

Staff at Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations recently reviewed the on-line component of the Nova Scotia Business Registry. Launched on October 18th of last year, the NSBR has been a resounding success with businesses large and small; we see this in the results of the on-line customer satisfaction surveys. The findings have been very encouraging. Nine out of ten on-line clients will use the service again, Mr. Speaker, they find it convenient and time-saving. It is interesting to note that seven out of ten respondents were new to this on-line offering. In the past they would call, fax, write, or visit government offices, often at times when they would prefer to be concentrating on running their businesses. Now we are delivering government service at the speed of business - services when and where the client wants them.

This is a unique endeavour, Mr. Speaker, the first of its kind in Canada. It offers one-stop shopping for businesses that need to access the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and the Workers' Compensation Board. Where businesses used to scurry back and forth from one government office to another, or from one Web site to another, the NSBR brings everything together in one place. By going to the NSBR Web site, a business person can obtain a business number from the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency. They can register their business with the province and apply for permits and licenses through Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, and if they need to register with the Workers' Compensation Board they can do that on-line through the NSBR also.

Mr. Speaker, regardless of which government agency one is dealing with, they often require the same information - names of officers, contact information, business and legal information. In the past time had been needlessly lost re-entering this information over and over and over again. Now those days are over. Information keyed into one on-line transaction is retained and automatically entered as a need-be for future considerations. An entrepreneur can register with the federal and provincial government in one visit without rekeying data, and this is still there if they come back a month later to register with the WCB or to obtain a new permit or license.

But this is much more than a tool for filling in government forms, Mr. Speaker, this is a business enabler. For example, when a company or a municipality hires a construction firm they need to know that the firm is registered with the WCB. In the past the construction company had to call the WCB to get what is called a WCB clearance letter.

[Page 11815]

When we launched the NSBR last October, that construction firm gained the ability to obtain their clearance letter on-line. It was faster and reduced red tape. In January of this year, we improved the situation even more by allowing any NSBR user to obtain a clearance letter from a potential subcontractor. Faster turnaround, which means the contract can be awarded faster and workers can be on the job sooner. By the end of 2002, we estimate that more than 9,000 clearance letters will be generated through the NSBR, roughly one-third of all the clearance letters requested from the WCB. The NSBR has proved to be very convenient for business, Mr. Speaker. More than 11,500 of the transactions during the past year have been completed outside of normal business hours.

We heard from James Smyten, Highland Multimedia in Antigonish, who told us he liked the ability to do these transactions on-line. He liked the convenience, he liked that it reduced the time lost in travelling from one office to another. We heard from Julie Now of Nows Accounting and Income Tax in Amherst, a business established earlier this month. Ms. Now used the NSBR for her own business, and has already registered a business name for a client. We heard from Sherry Alenback of Rickjack Projects in Lunenburg. They tap into the NSBR for the clearance letters I referred to earlier. She confirms the time-savings aspect of this service.

Government departments are lining up to join the service. We expect to announce new services on behalf of the Department of Environment and Labour before the end of the calendar year. Thank you. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: I should like to thank the minister for favouring me with a copy of his comments in advance. That's a very useful thing. Mr. Speaker, every once in a while, completely contrary to experience and expectation, something goes right. (Interruptions) Completely contrary to our experience and expectation of this government, something goes right.

This is one of those occasions, and I should like to congratulate the minister for this initiative. This is a very useful initiative, which I think will do pretty well exactly what it is that the minister has described, albeit with some hyperbole. It seems to me it might be just a tad premature to call it a resounding success, but I certainly hope that it's a resounding success. I especially like it that the minister put this on the basis of reducing red tape. In the interests of reducing red tape, I'm going to cease my congratulations and my comments at this very moment and thank him again.

[Page 11816]

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first, I would like to thank the minister for providing a copy of his statement prior to today's proceedings. In a study, Citizens First 2000, a world-leading survey on government service delivery, produced by the Institute of Public Administration, this study found that one of its key findings was that the Internet and other electronic service delivery represents an important dramatic improvement in how citizens view government service delivery. Some future directions that the report suggested for governments included making sure the technology is user-friendly and ensures that there is a variety of choices for accessing government.

Mr. Speaker, the one-stop shopping of business services was a Liberal Government initiative. (Interruptions) The Business Registry project was a Liberal Government initiative. In fact, Service Nova Scotia was also a Liberal Government initiative. We're glad that this government continued on with these programs. Today's announcement is good news for Nova Scotians and for businesses in Nova Scotia, because it allows them to access the services from one location, the Internet. By allowing these groups to access their information on-line, this government is enabling business to effectively address the most important commodity today, and that is time. This is a good announcement, Mr. Speaker. We express our gratitude to the minister, and we believe that this is a good first step for business in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, prior to reading my motion, I would like to introduce two people in the gallery today. We have with us Jane Mealey who is the Program Director of the Children's Acute and Emergency Care Program at the IWK, and Kathryn London-Penny who is the Director of Public Relations at the IWK. I would ask our guests to rise and receive the greeting of the House (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 4828

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

Whereas the United Nations in its 1989 Convention on the Rights of the Child states that children and youth of all nations, including Canada, are entitled to fundamental human rights including the right to enjoy their childhood freely and safe from those who would harm

[Page 11817]

them, and furthermore recognizes the important role of the family in bringing up children; and

Whereas in recognition of the UN convention Canada has declared November 20th the anniversary of the signing of the accord to be National Child Day; and

Whereas we, as a province and community, recognize nothing matters more to our country and our future than the welfare of the next generation and National Child Day affords us the opportunity to affirm our commitment to the well-being of our children;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly proclaim November 20, 2002, as Nova Scotia Child Day and do commend its thoughtful observance to all citizens of our province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4829

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

Whereas this week marks the 4th annual College Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia Community College is an essential partner in the education, economic development and community building of this province; and

Whereas the college is at an all-time high having increased its enrolment by more than 27 per cent since 1997, achieved a 95 per cent graduate satisfaction rate and developed the highest number to date of formal industry partnerships;

[Page 11818]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the creativity, excellence, and provincial focus of the Nova Scotia Community College, and congratulate its students, staff, and community industry partners on another successful year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 4830

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

Attendu que le 16 novembre dernier, le Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas tenait son 15e banquet honorifique; et

Attendu que à cette occasion, le Conseil acadien reconnaît et honore une personne et une entreprise qui ont contribué de façon exceptionnelle au développement de leur communauté; et

Attendu que cette année, le Conseil acadien reconnaissait Hayden Landry de Hubbards Point, et Guy et Patsy Surette de l'Ile des Surettes pour leur travail soutenu et leur dévouement à la communauté;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée transmette ses félicitations à Monsieur Landry, et Monsieur et Madame Surette, et les remercie pour leur contribution au développement de la communauté acadienne de la Nouvelle-Écosse.

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

Mr. Speaker, I will repeat in English.

[Page 11819]

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

Whereas on November 16, the Conseil acadien de Par-en-Bas held its fifteenth honorary banquet; and

Whereas on this occasion the Colseil acadien recognizes and honours a person and a small business who have made an exceptional contribution to the development of their community; and

Whereas this year the Conseil acadien recognized Hayden Landry of Hubbards Point and Guy and Patsy Surette of Surettes Island for their longstanding work and commitment to the development of their community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Mr. Landry and Mr. and Mrs. Surette, and thank them for the contribution towards the development of the Acadian community of 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. 4831

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 number of children in poverty continues to rise across the Province of Nova Scotia; and

[Page 11820]

[2:30 p.m.]

Whereas today, November 20th, Louie Mele, Chief Executive Officer of McDonald's Canada, kicked off McHappy Day in Halifax as part of the effort across Canada to raise $3.5 million to support children's charities in various communities; and

Whereas the proceeds will be donated to Ronald McDonald Charities of Canada and various local children's charities, including the Halifax Ronald McDonald House and the Bridgeway Academy;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Louie Mele, all McDonald's workers, the organizers and various supporters of this worthwhile endeavour to benefit children's charities throughout our country and the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 4832

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

Whereas November 20th is National Child Day; and

Whereas this day is to remind all of us just how important children are, not only today, but to our future; and

Whereas one of the most important jobs that we as legislators can do is to provide programs to help families raise healthy, happy children in caring communities;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House reflect on today, National Child Day, and be ever mindful of the needs of children.

[Page 11821]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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. 4833

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

Whereas following five years of historic renovations, the Middleton United Baptist Church recently celebrated its 141st Anniversary; and

Whereas the $775,000 in renovations, which began in 1997, saw the construction of a new family life centre, along with extensive renovations to the existing church; and

Whereas the history of the Middleton United Baptist Church precedes Nova Scotia's entry into Confederation, being founded in 1861 under the name Pine Grove Baptist Church;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly extend our warm wishes to the congregation of the Middleton United Baptist Church on its tremendous history and well-deserved renovations.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 11822]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 4834

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

Whereas the number of children in poverty continues to rise across the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas today I had the opportunity to work with the staff of the Spryfield McDonald's, who were participating in McHappy Days to raise money for Ronald McDonald House and Bridgeway Academy;

Whereas under Manager Charlie Trueman's direction and Jeff Rafter's tutelage, I packaged a few cheese burgers and Big Macs and shared a few laughs with the rest of the staff;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Manager Charlie, Jeff, Helen, Tasha, Carolyn, Brenda, Sharon, Nathan, Jesse, Billy, Kerry, Brian, organizer Johanna Holley and everyone else at the Spryfield McDonald's for making such an important contribution to their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 4835

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

[Page 11823]

Whereas Claire Dethridge has been recognized by her colleagues for giving 20 years of service to municipal government during the UNSM's "Moving Forward by Working Together" 2002 Annual Conference earlier this month; and

Whereas during my years as Mayor of Sydney, I knew Claire to be a person who consistently provided a strong voice for her constituents; and

Whereas Claire has made numerous contributions to CBRM and, previous to amalgamation, she was a force to be reckoned with in the County of Cape Breton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the tremendous impact Councillor Dethridge has made over the last 20 years.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

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. 4836

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

Whereas City Drug Store Limited on Main Street in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, was first incorporated in 1952; and

Whereas City Drug Store Limited has faithfully served the pharmaceutical and health needs of Yarmouth and the surrounding area for many years, and is a respected member of the business community of Yarmouth; and

Whereas City Drug Store Limited will celebrate its 50th Anniversary on November 27th;

[Page 11824]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate City Drug Store Limited on the celebration of 50 years of service to Yarmouth and its surrounding area.

On a footnote, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Mooney, who happens to be the owner of City Drug Store, was a member of this great Chamber years ago and was a member of the Third Party.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4837

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

Whereas elections are a fundamental right and one of the underpinnings of good governance; and

Whereas voters went to the polls early this Fall to elect band councillors and the chief at Indian Brook; and

Whereas Mr. Reg Maloney was re-elected as chief and will preside over a band council comprising of a good mix of new and re-elected councillors;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly congratulate Chief Reg Maloney and all of the successful councillors of the Indian Brook First Nations Band Council and wish them well during their term of office.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 11825]

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 4838

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

Whereas the Nova Scotia lobster industry is a multimillion dollar fishery which helps sustain coastal communities from one end of Nova Scotia to the other; and

Whereas Montreal-based Global Action Network recently announced that in its fight to curb the Newfoundland seal hunt, it will launch a Canadian and international boycott of our lobster industry; and

Whereas Nova Scotia does not have a significant seal hunt and nor do Nova Scotia fishermen participate in the Newfoundland and Gulf of St. Lawrence seal hunt;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House unanimously reaffirm their support for the Nova Scotia lobster fishery and call upon the Global Action Network to immediately cease their unethical and misguided attacks on our lobster industry.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

[Page 11826]

RESOLUTION NO. 4839

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

Whereas Trever Miller of Saltsprings has created a new floating board that will open a new dimension in the use of flotation devices; and

Whereas the floating board, called a guidable flotation device, is an innovative life preserver that has attracted interest from the Canadian Navy, a rapid rescue team in California, and the Department of Fisheries and Oceans; and

Whereas Mr. Miller has named his invention The Hector I;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Trever Miller on his unique invention, and wish him well as he markets this Nova Scotia innovation around the world.

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. 4840

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

Whereas the Halifax Regional Municipality has now directed its employees that, they

are not to use cell phones while driving a motor vehicle; and

Whereas the HRM has taken this step to provide leadership and increase road safety for their employees and for all others on metro's roads; and

[Page 11827]

Whereas the Transportation Minister and his Conservative Government are avoiding leadership on the same issue, as they have on many other issues of health and safety;

Therefore be it resolved that this House urge the Hamm Government to catch up with other Nova Scotians, and protect public safety by banning the use of cell phones in the normal course of driving a motor vehicle.

Mr. Speaker, since this is such an important resolution, 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. 4841

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

Whereas Cancer Care Nova Scotia's student research awards were recently named the Norah Stephen Oncology Scholar Awards in honour of retiring board member Norah Stephen; and

Whereas Ms. Stephen, a cancer survivor, has a 30-year history of volunteering in Nova Scotia's cancer care system where she has provided support to patients, addressed medical students on the issue of how best doctors can support cancer care patients and provided strategic direction to Cancer Care Nova Scotia; and

Whereas 10 Norah Stephen Oncology Scholar Awards will be awarded to cancer- related research and clinical training and experience projects starting in Spring 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this Legislature extend their appreciation to Ms. Stephen on her countless hours of dedication to Nova Scotia's cancer care system and congratulate the Board of Cancer Care Nova Scotia for not only their recognition of dedication but most importantly their support of encouraging research in the field of cancer care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11828]

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 4842

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

Whereas Murray Smith of Hunts Point was inducted into the Baseball Nova Scotia Hall of Fame; and

Whereas Murray has been involved in Liverpool minor baseball for the past 34 years overseeing the construction of the Dannie Seaman Park and major expansions to the Kinsman Field; and

Whereas through his fundraising efforts, Liverpool minor baseball has been made available to those without financial means to play the game;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize Murray Smith as a true hall of famer for his untiring dedication and passion to baseball and thank him for being a true community leader.

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 11829]

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 4843

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

Whereas Rory Merlin-Walsh of Hatchet Lake captured silver and bronze medals in the Tae Kwan Do competition in Korea this summer; and

Whereas the Brookside Junior High School student competed against athletes from 49 other countries; and

Whereas Rory began his training four years ago under the tutelage of Grand Master Woo Yong Jung;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Rory Merlin- Walsh on his athletic accomplishments at this summer's Tae Kwan Do competition in Korea with best wishes in his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 4844

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

Whereas David Cornell of Millwood High School was named a Daily News rising star in today's paper; and

[Page 11830]

Whereas David is known for his gritty, high-energy style of play in hockey and his exceptional athletic abilities; and

Whereas David's athletic excellence is equalled by his scholastic achievements in science and mathematics;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate David Cornell for being named a rising star and acknowledge his impressive athletic and scholastic accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 4845

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

Whereas this past weekend the Pictou County Business Summit came together for its third working meeting; and

Whereas representatives from various businesses, government and other groups have come together as a united body to work together to take advantage of the economic opportunities before the county; and

Whereas the bottom line for all parties involved in this fledgling initiative is to secure a region that can grow and allow future generations to have opportunities at home;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs extend their praise to those involved with the Pictou County Business Summit for working together toward a more prosperous future for the citizens of Pictou County.

[Page 11831]

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 on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the members of the Legislature for permitting me this opportunity to do an introduction. In the east gallery, from the Family Resource Centre of West Hants, two individual volunteers in that organization. An individual by the name of Karen Marsh and another individual by the name of Mary Lou Bennett. They are here watching the proceedings of this House today and I would certainly hope that this House would provide them with a very warm welcome. (Applause)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery we have two members of injured workers' associations in Nova Scotia, Mary Lloyd from the Pictou Injured Workers' Association and June Labrador from the Provincial Injured Workers' Association. I wonder if we could all give them a hand as they are here to watch the proceedings. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 4846

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

Whereas retired General Romeo Daillaire is an award-winning humanitarian who has worked as an advisor to the Minister of Canadian International Development Agency; and

Whereas while on United Nations peacekeeping duties in Rwanda, Mr. Daillaire brought the horror of genocide to the attention of the UN and the world; and

[Page 11832]

Whereas St. Francis Xavier University will present Mr. Daillaire with an honorary degree during the fall convocation, December 7, 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature recognize the contribution Mr. Daillaire has made to this country and congratulate him on receiving this honorary degree.

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. 4847

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 single-largest occupation in Canada is truck driving; and

Whereas there are presently about 250,000 truck drivers in Canada with 16,000 to 20,000 of them in Atlantic Canada, but despite these numbers, Canada's trucking industry is doing everything to combat a driver shortage; and (Interruptions)

Well, it seems obvious the Third Party doesn't recognize there is a driver shortage.

Whereas courses for long-haul trucking can be taken over a 12-week period at a cost of $6,000 to $7,000, something which many young men and women looking for stable employment simply do not have;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly encourage the federal Minister of Human Resources to support truck driving courses so the industry can be assured of a promising future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11833]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4848

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

Whereas more than two months ago, Chester Basin teenager Jessica Bond was seriously injured in a car accident and wasn't expected to survive; and

Whereas she was released from the QE II on Friday in excellent spirits and health returning to a very happy family and community; and

Whereas the community raised nearly $5,300 towards the cost of additional treatment and equipment Jessica will need and a fundraisng auction was held at Forest Heights School last weekend for which the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's was auctioneer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly thank members of the community who supported such a worthy cause, commend Jessica for her unwavering determination to pull through, and the staff of the QE II for yet again providing excellent care that helped one of our bright young stars of tomorrow survive a traumatic accident.

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 11834]

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 4849

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

Whereas author Hattie Perry will launch her new book next week at Wilson's V & S Store in Barrington Passage; and

Whereas the publication, entitled Soldiers of the King, Volume 2 (1939-1945), has involved an incredible amount of time and effort by Ms. Perry; and

Whereas the launching on December 5th will include music of the Second World War era provided by the Smith family of East Jordan, Shelburne County;

Therefore be it resolved that the MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of author Hattie Perry in the writing of her new book and wish her every success with this and all 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 Energy.

RESOLUTION NO. 4850

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

Whereas on Sunday, September 29th, members of the community of Digby gathered to officially open the Fisherman's Memorial Park on the town waterfront; and

[Page 11835]

Whereas this site is a constant reminder of the sacrifices made by those who make their living from the sea and is dedicated to those fishermen who have lost their lives in the pursuit of this livelihood; and

Whereas this park was made possible through the generous contributions of ACOA, the Town of Digby, the Municipality of Digby, Nova Scotia Economic Development, Nova Scotia Sport and Recreation Commission and the Full Bay Scallop Fishermen's Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the efforts of the Town of Digby in coordinating the development of this site and remember the courage and sacrifice of those "that go down to the sea in ships."

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East on an introduction.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of the House to the west gallery where there are two distinguished Dartmouthians: Mary Kelly, a retired high school teacher from Dartmouth, and Christine Dunn, who probably would be best described as a general person about town. I would like to personally thank them for all their ticket sales and their many contributions that they have made to very worthy causes, and the kindnesses that they have both extended to me personally over the years, and to the contribution that they have made to that great community of Dartmouth. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 4851

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

[Page 11836]

Whereas the Queen Elizabeth Lions captured the 2002 Nova Scotia School Athletic Federation Football Championships with a hard-fought victory over the Cobequid Educational Centre Cougars; and

Whereas this is the 16th NSSAF Football Championship for QEH; and

Whereas the 2002 QEH Lions victory was a tremendous team effort, illustrated by the fact that none of its players made First Team All-Star;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the QEH Lions players and coaches for winning the football championship and thank them for continuing to demonstrate the best qualities of high school sport.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 4852

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

Whereas Marion Veinotte and the other members of the family of the late Ervin Veinotte are pleased to have provided the 2002 Christmas tree from the Province of Nova Scotia to the City of Boston; and

Whereas the 42-year-old white spruce tree will be lit on Boston Commons, starting on December 5th; and

Whereas Ervin Veinotte would be very pleased that a tree that he had nurtured would be Nova Scotia's tribute to the help we received from the people of Boston after the Halifax Explosion in 1917;

[Page 11837]

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulates the entire Ervin Veinotte family of West Northfield, Lunenburg County, for the selection of their tree as Nova Scotia's annual gift to the people of Boston.

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 Community Services.

RESOLUTION NO. 4853

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

Whereas on November 14, 2002, a car left the road and was left partly submerged during an extended period of heavy rain and severe flooding on Rocky Lake Drive in Waverley; and

Whereas when three passersby saw the overturned car in a nearby lake, they quickly pulled the two victims from the vehicle, who were rushed to the hospital and are now recovering from their ordeal; and

Whereas Patrick (Paddi) Hilchie of Waverley, Constable Jeff Winters of Sackville, and Mark Hoadley of Sackville showed courage and bravery when they risked their own lives to rescue those of two others;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Patrick, Jeff and Mark on their courage and bravery, and wish the accident victims a full recovery.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 11838]

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. 4854

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

Whereas Mike MacKay won the 2002 prestigious 3M Coaching Canada Award (male) in the Development Sport category for his excellence in coaching basketball; and

Whereas Mike MacKay was one of four people to receive a 3M Coaching Canada Award in 2002; and

Whereas Mike MacKay is the head of the Physical Education Department and Athletic Director at Cobequid Educational Centre and coaches two varsity sports: women's basketball and football;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mike MacKay for winning the male 2002 3M Coaching Canada Award for Developmental Sport, and thank him for his commitment to the all-round development of young Nova Scotia athletes.

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 11839]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North, on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw to the attention of the members of the Legislature, in the west gallery, an individual by the name of Mr. Wayne Sitland. He is a Nova Scotia Government employee and also a long-time resident of Dartmouth North. He's been actively involved in the community on a number of issues around prostitution and church issues as well. He also ran for public office once as an alderman. He has certainly demonstrated his worth to the community of Dartmouth North in many ways. I would like him to rise and receive the warm welcome of this House. (Applause)

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

RESOLUTION NO. 4855

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

Whereas May Bouchard of Pomquet was invested into the Order of Canada by Governor General Adrienne Clarkson in a ceremony held at Pier 21 on October 26, 2002; and

Whereas Madame Bouchard has been tireless in her efforts to preserve the Acadian culture as la President de l'Association des Acadiennes de la Nouvelle Écosse and as a member of the Pomquet Development Society; and

Whereas she has worked towards helping Acadian women reach their full potential as the Vice-President de le Fédération des Femmes Canadiennes-française;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate May Bouchard on her investiture as a member of the Order of Canada for her outstanding contribution to her community and the Province of 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.

[Page 11840]

The honourable member for Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 4856

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

Whereas the Foundation United Baptist Church in Porter's Lake celebrated its 10-year anniversary in 2002; and

Whereas the church congregation has experienced significant growth over the past decade, creating the need for a new centre of worship to expand their ministry and to help spread the Good News of the Gospel to the communities and surrounding areas of Porters Lake on the Eastern Shore; and

Whereas on November 4, 2001, a ground-breaking and blessing ceremony was held and exactly a year later the new Foundation United Baptist Church had its official opening and dedication service on November 3, 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House of Assembly congratulate the Foundation United Baptist Church on the opening of their new church and wish them the very best on the commemoration of their house of worship.

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. 4857

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

[Page 11841]

Whereas well-known Middleton figurine artist Elfreide Meindl has published her first book based on one of her most famous figurines, Christopher; and

Whereas the 77-year-old grandmother used her savings to have 500 copies of her children's story printed by Gaspereau Press; and

Whereas the book tells a story of a six-year-old boy's adventure in the 1800s and his struggle to escape working in a coal mine;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elfreide Meindl on publishing her first book, Christopher, and wish her success in her plans to write a sequel to this child-friendly book.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:59 p.m. and it will end at 4:29 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH - NURSING HOMES:

CARE - PAYMENT POLICY EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, after weeks of stalling, the Minister of Health has admitted his department has no intention of paying for the health care costs of seniors in nursing homes. So we are right back at square one. The Premier personally promised measures to address the unfair long-term care system but we know now that the government only intends to tinker with it. That isn't enough. That's not going to do it. Half measures are not enough. My question is for the Premier. Why is it the continuing policy of your government to have seniors pay for the cost of their health care in nursing homes?

[Page 11842]

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

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in the past three years, this government has put $90 million into continuing care.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, so far over 19,000 people have signed our petition asking for the health care costs of seniors in long-term care to be covered. They believe, as we do, that universal health care for all Nova Scotians is a priority. It's obvious that the John Hamm Government has no problem with placing an unfair burden on the elderly infirm. I want to ask the Premier, how can you continue to endorse a system that you have admitted publicly is unfair to seniors?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government is aware that there are things remaining to be done in the health care system and in other responsibilities that we have. We've been consulting with seniors and identifying with them logical places where we can start to improve the long-term care sector. We are doing that consultation, we'll be acting on that consultation, it will be a step-wise process to provide simply better long-term care for seniors.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, until this government admits that what it is doing is simply wrong, I want to assure the Premier that he will have no rest from this Party. That's a promise. (Applause) You like to blame the Liberals for instituting current practices, but your inaction serves as a ringing endorsement. I ask the Premier, why is your government making the conscious decision to continue impoverishing seniors who require long-term care?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite wishes that everything could be fixed all at once. The government wishes everything could be fixed all at once, but we are proceeding on a road that addresses the concerns of seniors that will make the system better and we'll do it in a step-wise fashion.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: ISSUES - MIN. NAME

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Today, in the last few hours, we've learned that the minister's plan for dealing with the issue of long-term care is still somewhat sketchy, to say the least. The minister admitted that he's now dealing with the so-called hot-spot issues. My question to the minister is, will the minister please name specifically the hot-spot issues that will be included in his announcement changes?

[Page 11843]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, we've been concerned with issues and long-term care for seniors certainly since we've come into government. As I indicated in the answer to the first question from the honourable member for Dartmouth-Cole Harbour, this government put an additional $90 million into the continuing care sector as well as doing a number of administrative things that improved the system. We will be making an announcement in due course and the honourable member, I'm afraid, will have to wait until then to find that out.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we were informed today that changes will likely be coming in this session of the House, according to the minister. So my question simply to the minister is, when will the minister be announcing his changes?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the Premier has indicated, we have been doing consultations, we have pretty much identified where we are going to go in this and, to be quite candid, I hope that we will make an announcement within a week.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, this minister indicated in a briefing session a couple of weeks ago that he is consulting with seniors, that there will be changes made and everyone will be pleased, that's referring to the long-term care funding. My question to the minister is, will the minister please table, before the end of Question Period today, the list of seniors he has consulted with on long-term care and the priority list of the hot-spot issues that these seniors themselves have identified with the minister?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I indicated the hot-spot priority issues will become evident when we make our changes. I will make the names of those groups available when we make the announcement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - DIGBY NECK QUARRY:

STOP-WORK ORDER - ISSUE

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Environment and Labour. The Minister of Environment and Labour thinks that letting Nova Stone Exporters destroy a community for maybe 31 jobs and certainly for zero dollars in royalties is a fair deal. Seventy per cent of Digby area residents opposed the quarry and signed the petition I tabled earlier. The council of the municipality also voted no. Mr. Minister, of all your mistakes the Digby Neck quarry permit may be the worst. Why won't you come to your senses and issue a stop-work order until all of the critical issues raised by the community are addressed?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, if the honourable member was in touch with some of the people I met down in Digby he would know that I had already gone down and met with them. A lot of letters have been sent to me on this and I've answered every one of them. There have been a lot of good points that have been brought out with them and there

[Page 11844]

has been a lot of misinformation in the media about this too, and as a result of that, I made a trip down to Digby to meet with the groups and I would just say . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I think we would all agree in this House there are a lot of people who travelled a long way here to hear an issue discussed and I would ask the honourable members to give them the respect of allowing the minister to answer the question, please.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. MORSE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I would say that the premise of the question that the member brings forward is that he's attacking the process that has been put in place to handle these types of applications and, as a lawyer, the member should be well aware of the process.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, many of Nova Scotia's rural communities, as we know, are struggling to survive. The Digby area has managed to build a sustainable economy based on the natural environment, yet this minister is undermining the natural advantage that Digby enjoys, which is its beautiful environment. He's forcing this mega-quarry ahead even though he knows it will threaten the local economy, marine and animal life, and water quality. That permit was granted behind closed doors. The community was the last to know. Mr. Minister, the residents of Digby Neck are sitting in the gallery. Why don't you explain to them why you are insisting on this quarry despite the massive opposition?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. We do welcome and encourage the visitors to the gallery, but I would ask the visitors not to respond either positively or negatively to what's happening on the floor, please. Thank you.

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, once again, I point out that the member opposite is advocating that this minister not uphold the law that's on the books, and I think that's regrettable coming from a lawyer. As he well knows, the process involved with the application for pits and quarries is that anything under four hectares is an administrative, bureaucratic process that involves a check-off list, as I explained to some of the concerned citizens down in Digby during my trip down there a couple months ago.

I would further suggest that in terms of this being a mega-quarry, it has to go through an environmental assessment process in order to be expanded beyond the four hectares and, indeed, to put in the wharf facilities or to initiate any blast it also needs the approval of the Department of Fisheries and Oceans.

[Page 11845]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, what I do know from my time teaching environmental law is that the minister has the discretion at any point to order an environmental assessment on any undertaking. What I know from my time as an elected official is that the people don't want it, the municipality doesn't want it, many businesses are against it. What I want to know from the minister is, why are you pushing ahead with this project that fundamentally threatens the landscape, the lifestyle and the livelihood of the people of Digby Neck?

MR. MORSE: Again, Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks of his credentials and his credentials should make him aware that the role of the department, and indeed the minister, is not to take sides in these, it's to enforce the law that's in place. Basically, what the member is advocating is that we turn against the regulations that are in place. There is a process in place and if this comes forward with a registration document, the public will have a chance to have their say as we work through the process.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NURSES: NUMBERS - CONFIRM

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. I would like to revisit the issue of nursing numbers according to the statistical profile contained in the College of Registered Nurses Annual Report. According to this report, from November 1, 2000 to October 31, 2001, there were 9,272 nurses registered to practise in Nova Scotia. According to the minister in his rapid spin release last week, there were, from November 1, 2001 to October 31, 2002, 8,285 nurses registered. My question to the minister is, what happened to the other 987 nurses?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the nursing strategy this government adopted was developed by nurses for nurses and is working. I think a more important question is not the number of nurses that are registered but the number of nurses that are working and that number has increased.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the minister cannot deny the fact that Bill No. 68, that impacted around this time, impacted 987 less nurses being registered in the Province of Nova Scotia. That is a lot of nurses, that's a lot of patient care. His program of recruiting and retaining new graduate nurses may be yielding some results, this minister's ability to retain the current workforce seems sorely lacking. My question to the minister is, could the minister please outline a plan he may have for the retention of nurses in Nova Scotia, given that it appears we are losing more than we are gaining?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I could begin my answer to that question by saying unlike the previous government, we're not paying nurses to leave the province. There are more nurses working in Nova Scotia and available to work than there were last year. The number of new graduates that have been retained is somewhere around 80 per cent. There are fewer

[Page 11846]

part-time nurses because there are more full-time positions and that's a good thing, and that's something that nurses and those who employ nurses wished.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, it certainly appears the minister doesn't have a plan or at least one that works, as I have outlined here today by the numbers. The minister's nursing strategy put in place monies for continuing education but if you can't get a break from work, if you're overworked and can't get a break, you can't participate in continuing education and that's a fact and that is what's happening across this province. If nurses don't have the proper supports in their hospitals, especially in rural hospitals throughout Nova Scotia, work life becomes very stressful and very frustrating.

My final supplementary to the minister is, given that his plan for retention doesn't seem to be working, will the minister consider making changes to the strategy that better address the issue of support and retention to the current nursing workforce?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the current retention and recruitment numbers are better than they have been probably for 10 years. In answer to that, yes, we meet regularly with those associations and organizations of health care workers. We meet with them, get their suggestions and if there are improvements that can be made and they are manageable, we certainly do them.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

PREMIERS' CONFERENCE - LOBSTER DINNER:

COST - JUSTIFY

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. In July and early August of this year, Nova Scotia hosted the annual Premiers' Conference and over 200 officials and media attended. They were treated to a sail on the Bluenose, various conference souvenirs, receptions at the Citadel and the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic. They also had an extravagant Nova Scotia lobster supper. I would like to table documents received by our office today, showing that the Premier threw a lobster feast costing $41,000. Mr. Premier, Canadian National gave $20,000 to pay for the lobster supper but that wasn't good enough, your government spent an additional $21,000 of taxpayers' money. I would like to ask the Premier, just how much lobster does he think the Premiers really needed?

[3:15 p.m.]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased the member opposite asked the question. It was the responsibility of the province this past summer to host the Premiers, and we knew that in tough financial times that this would be very difficult to do it entirely out of the public purse. We subscripted for some corporate sponsors and they contributed just under $100,000 to the Premiers' Conference, in addition some $15,000 of administrative

[Page 11847]

costs. So the dinners and the entertainment and those things to which the member refers to were not paid by the public purse, they were paid for by corporate sponsors.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier is absolutely 100 per cent wrong, and these documents prove it. The corporate sponsorship was worth $20,000, the dinner cost $41,000. Up to 300 people were invited to attend, the Premiers, their staff, invited guests and some volunteers. The government received $20,000 from CN to pay for the dinner - and whether corporate sponsorships of events organized by and for elected officials is a good idea is a question for another day - the $20,000 from CN works out to $70 a plate, but that wasn't good enough, they had to kick in taxpayers' money, so the total cost was $140 per plate. My question to the Premier is, why did your government organize a dinner at $140 a plate when the Minister of Health says there's no money for the nursing home residents in my constituency who are having their savings drained to the tune of $188 a day?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite because it gives me an opportunity to acknowledge some public-spirited corporate sponsors that came to this event and provided significant sponsorship money: Canadian National, $20,000; SAP Canada, $20,000; Emera, $15,000; Corporate Communications Limited, $13,000; Oland Breweries, $7,500; Unisys, $7,500; Irving, $7,500; Aliant DownEast, $5,000; the Halifax Port Authority, $4,000.

Mr. Speaker, that member, instead of criticizing what went on, should be congratulating government to have the opportunity to have the corporate side help government fund what was obviously a government responsibility, and that is to provide a suitable program for visitors to our province. (Applause)

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it is disgraceful that that side over there, and their Liberal buddies over here, see nothing wrong with corporations buying access to public officials. That's exactly what happened here. (Interruptions) This government has completely lost touch with the people who elected them. It's about ministers who play in fundraising golf tournaments at gated communities; it's about a government that gives people on social assistance $10 a day for their food. My question to the Premier is this, imagine yourself sitting down with that single mother on welfare, and she's given $10 a day to pay for her food and that of her child (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview, just the supplementary question only for the Premier, please.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the Premier was indicating he was having trouble hearing me over the din from the Liberals over here . . .

MR. SPEAKER: . . . except for the question.

[Page 11848]

MR. STEELE: My question to the Premier is this, imagine yourself sitting across from that single mother who is given $10 a day to feed herself and her child and tell the House, what would you say to that mother about how you're justified in spending $140 a plate for you and the other Premiers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the nice things about being a Nova Scotian, and one of the nice things about travelling around Nova Scotia is that you see demonstrations all the time of great hospitality. We felt obliged and, obviously, the corporate sponsors felt obliged that we would extend that kind of Nova Scotia hospitality to our visitors from across Canada. I would think that that member opposite would be criticizing government if, in fact, we failed to demonstrate in a very real way how hospitable we are here in Nova Scotia. We did that and we did it thanks to our corporate sponsors.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - DIGBY NECK QUARRY:

CITIZEN INPUT - DETAILS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Earlier in the year the minister gave approval for a rock quarry or a quarry mine in Digby Neck. Now, as has been noted, we've heard lots of protests from the government side of the House saying they're open and accountable to the people of Nova Scotia. In fact, that's outlined on Page 30 of their blue book, saying that they would provide open government and provide the public with effective opportunities for input. So, my question to the minister is, what have you done to allow this group of concerned citizens effective opportunities for input over the quarry to show them that your government has been open and accountable?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there are really two things that require a response there. I'm going to give the honourable member a bonus, I'm going to give him both answers.

The first one, the premise of his question was the minister gave approval. The minister has a system in place in the department that for quarries under four hectares, it is a bureaucratic process, it is not something that is explicitly done by the minister. It was done in the branch as per the regulations that were put in place, in fact, I suspect, flowing out of the Environment Act which was put in place by the Liberal Government of the day.

Now, in addition to that, I would also point out that when these concerns were brought to my attention, I felt moved, actually, by the letters and took the time to go down specifically to meet with the people of Digby, to meet some of the concerned citizens, to meet the councils and to give them a chance to understand the process and to hear their concerns.

[Page 11849]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, a long convoluted answer with no substance. Even before the minister or the local member met with the residents there was promotion for this project down through the Digby-Annapolis region. Unfortunately, the Minister of Environment and Labour, back in July, indicated that the land had already been approved by the local municipality. Unfortunately, under our current legislation, a municipality does not have the legal authority to grant such permission to establish a rock quarry; that decision rests solely with the Department of Environment and Labour. So my question is, why did you try, Mr. Minister, to make it look like the municipality was at fault for approving the rock quarry when you knew all along that decision rested solely with your department?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for the question and, in fact, it is a good question. In essence, what he is referring to is the fact that pits and quarries, as I've become very aware of since that time, are not included as a land use, which is something that's normally determined by the municipalities in their municipal planning strategies. They do have some influence over this, as I understand from staff and, in fact, from the Director of Development for the Municipality of the County of Kings. But it is not the direct authority that they would like to have over the siting of these locations. As a result of that, I am pleased to get up in the House and answer the member's question today, that there is an interdepartmental committee together looking at whether this remains to be appropriate in not allowing them to have any input over the siting of pits and quarries.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it is interesting how things go. The approval process was for 3.9 hectares over a 30-year period. Now, anyone who's been in the construction business knows full well it would take you less than two years to quarry out 3.9 hectares. So I'm curious as to what they would do for the next 25 to 28 years. My question, quite simply, to the minister is, what assurances can you give this House and the people of Digby Neck that your government will consult with the concerned groups before your government considers approving the proposed 300-acre quarry?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to get up in this House and say that the member is asking the right question. That is exactly it. The point is, the quarry approval that is in place is for less than 4 hectares. In order to make this project work, they need a much larger approval, therefore they are required to go through an environmental assessment process provincially and in order to get the facilities in place - in other words, the wharf in order to offload the material and ship it to their market, they also have to go through the same with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans. So, it's an excellent question and the point is that there has to be extensive public consultation before this can go forward as a mega-quarry. I thank the member for his question.

[Page 11850]

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

ENERGY - HERITAGE GAS: PROPOSAL - AMEND

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, following the Liberal-Tory fiasco over Sempra, SaskEnergy and its Heritage Gas distribution partners believe that they have Nova Scotia over the barrel. The proposal put forward by Heritage Gas can at best be described as underwhelming. They think that they can treat Nova Scotia as if we're a Third World nation. My question is through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, I want to know if the Premier's government is prepared to tell Heritage Gas that unless its proposal is amended significantly, that your government will not approve it regardless of what the URB does.

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

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member opposite for the question. What he's implying is that we should follow the same failed path that led to Sempra leaving the province. When you put in place artificial targets, artificial timelines and uneconomic models, it can't work. What we are doing now is moving forward, we amended legislation to ensure that someone interested in the franchise would have a chance to distribute gas. We are through that process, we now have a company that's very interested in a franchise and I believe if we move along quickly, we'll have gas flowing in this province by next summer.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the fact that the Energy Minister can't give an answer to that question without the Premier's approval, but there's something wrong with this picture. Heritage Gas is proposing to hook up a mere 4,000 Nova Scotia homes over 10 years. In that same time period, New Brunswick expects to have 40,000 homes hooked up. They are looking for the plum commercial properties, they say that they will not roll out a gas distribution system unless they have enough people signed up to guarantee a very hefty profit. They want a 25-year monopoly and a 14 per cent rate of return.

To the best of my knowledge, the Premier isn't planning to run in Saskatchewan in the next provincial election so I want to ask through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier, why would you sell out, even consider selling out, Nova Scotia's best long-term interests for such a paltry benefit?

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

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, we all know that the only way this system can work, any business can work, is if they have a rate of return. The front end capital costs of putting infrastructure in place means that SaskEnergy, Heritage Gas, or any other company will not get a rate of return for some time. At the beginning they will lose money, it's not until they hook up large commercial users and then roll out to residential dwellings.

[Page 11851]

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, the Premier can continue to try to duck this and other issues, but Nova Scotians know that the buck stops with him. Nova Scotians surely expect and deserve to expect that the deal that is going to be arranged, the gas distribution proposal, is going to be much better than that which we see before us. I would suggest that the government itself, in partnership with Nova Scotia businesses and Nova Scotia municipalities, could put together a distribution plan that is far more comprehensive - remember, Heritage Gas is proposing to spend a mere $12 million a year. My question, through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, has your government explored this possibility or have you, as I suspect, on simply ideological grounds, dismissed it out of hand?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite represents a Party that never met a business it liked and never saw a business plan that it liked. They fail to realize that the future of this province depends on businesses being here to provide employment for the people of our province. That Party seems determined to drive every employer out of this province, taking with them all of those good jobs.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

HEALTH - RICHMOND VILLA: DESIGN WORK - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in the year 2000, the fire marshal identified several deficiencies with the Richmond Villa, a long-term care facility in St. Peters. It was determined it was more feasible to construct a new modern facility rather than repair the existing one. On July 17, 2001, the Minister of Health confirmed his department supported the construction of a new facility, and that his staff would soon be in touch to discuss the process for undertaking functional planning and the architectural design work for a new facility. The structural problems with the Richmond Villa have caused anxiety for the residents, their families and staff at the facility.

Last week, on November 15, 2002, the Associate Deputy Minister of Health, Cheryl Doiron, indicated that funding for the detailed design has been secured, which enables the department to move forward with the procurement of the designer in preparation of architectural drawings. Can the Minister of Health explain why the procurement of the design work for the new Richmond Villa was only announced November 15th, when your department's own strategic plan called for this work to be completed on July 16, 2002?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, indeed Richmond Villa will go ahead, or at least the replacement facility - I don't know what it will be named, exactly. One of the reasons for the slight delay is a very positive thing. We're looking at a new model that would not only incorporate long-term care but would incorporate some other things and we wanted to make

[Page 11852]

sure, that we basically knew exactly what we wanted to do before we get out in the design business.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, how ironic. It was suggested to me the minister might give that exact answer.

We are pleased that the new Richmond Villa, the new facility, will provide a whole host of new services there but the fact is that the master plan that the minister speaks of was in fact completed in May 2002. The department's strategic plan also called for the site selection for the new facility to be completed in June of this year, and this has yet to be done. At the same time, these delays have required the expenditure of more public funds to continually repair a facility which is going to be replaced. Residents, their families, and staff at the Richmond Villa are concerned about these continuing delays. My question is can the Minister of Health explain why his department is not meeting the deadlines set out in his own strategic plan for the construction of the new Richmond Villa?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad the honourable member for Richmond acknowledged the progress that we have made and the fact that the facility up there is going to be a prototype for the province. As has been the practice of this government, when we move ahead we want to make sure that we're doing the right thing for the right reason and when we feel comfortable we're at that point, we move ahead.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the strategic plan that laid out specific dates was done so in light of this new model which the minister speaks of. It is his own department that set those dates. The delays in the construction of the new Richmond Villa is causing great concern for the residents of Richmond County. In some cases, residents who would normally have placement at the Richmond Villa are now forced to go outside the county to find placement in nursing homes. The initial construction date was set by the minister to begin on November 14th of this year, and completion of the new facility and occupation was to take place November 24, 2003. My final supplementary to the minister is, will the minister commit today that the construction of the new Richmond Villa will begin before the end of this year?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the plan now is that construction will commence in the Spring.

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

HEALTH - HEPATITIS C VICTIMS:

NON-INSURED SERVICES - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. In the summer of 2001, the Government of Canada signed an agreement with the Province

[Page 11853]

of Nova Scotia to supply health care services to victims of hepatitis C not provided for in the 1986-1990 window. This agreement says that these payments will be used for "health care services indicated for the treatment of hepatitis C infection and medical conditions directly related to it that are not fully insured by health care." To date, the province confirms it has received $2 million with another $500,000 by the end of the fiscal year. Will the Minister of Health tell this House what non-insured services this $2.5 million is being used for to help the victims of hepatitis C?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member may have a slightly different interpretation of that agreement than we have, but I can assure the honourable member and others that that money is being used for the support of people who have hepatitis C.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I think I can tell you why the minister won't give you a straight answer to that question. It's because they aren't tracking it. They're simply treating it as a recovery of revenue, as though they were already providing those services. The truth is that the government really has no idea how they're spending the money that should be spent on hepatitis C victims, and they know that this federal government money is not actually reaching the people it's intended to reach. So I want to ask the minister will he commit to tabling in this House an itemized expenditure of how this money is being spent in compliance with the agreement that you signed last summer?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, if this money is not being spent properly, the federal government does occasionally come back and bite. We are spending that money in accordance with the agreement.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if they're spending it in accordance with the agreement, they should have no problem proving it. We've been around this circle before. Every time we raise this question the minister brushes it off. The agreement says that the money will be used for things like emerging anti-viral drug therapies, other relevant drug therapies, immunization and nursing care. Since the Department of Health has so many communications staff, I would like to ask the minister if he can direct them to produce a list of expenditures in these areas that address the needs of these hepatitis C victims as promised in the agreement?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I think the honourable member knows there's no vaccination for hep C, but the money is being expended for doctors, nurses, clinics and other support services.

[Page 11854]

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.: BRIDGE REPAIRS - DETAILS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Earlier this Fall The Canadian Press received bridge inspection quarterly reports for the past two years. I will table an article that was in a provincial newspaper in that regard. In the report it was indicated that over 50 bridges in this province have structural problems; however, these problems are being ignored. Many of these bridges have been condemned and are a risk to the travelling public. My question is, could the minister indicate to the House what, if any, repairs have been made to the 50 bridges and when can we expect those bridges to be fixed?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I don't know where the honourable member is getting his information from, but we have no bridges in Nova Scotia that are condemned and opened to traffic.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, if the minister had been paying attention, I did indicate structural problems. Perhaps you should pay attention to the question. It is absolutely vital that the safety of the travelling public be considered first and foremost. The Leitches Creek Bridge in my riding requires replacement, and paving projects such as Villa Drive in Bras d'Or have been neglected. This minister has previously assured me here in this House that he would create a non-partisan road policy for this province. This has not happened and it's another Tory promise broken. Now the people of Nova Scotia recognize that their bridges are not safe. My question is, why won't the minister take responsibility for Nova Scotia bridges and tell Nova Scotians which ones are safe and which ones aren't?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker I can assure the honourable member that all of the bridges in Nova Scotia that are in use are safe and that if any bridges are found to have a deficiency at any time, they are repaired or closed. I would also point out that the Department of Transportation spent more money on bridges this year than they had in the past 20 years.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this minister cannot turn a blind eye to road safety in this province. The minister is ignoring safety issues, such as the vehicle compliance issue.

These officers provide front-line road safety for motorists in this province. This represents an inability by this government to recognize the issues that affect Nova Scotians. My question is, why is this minister burying his head in the sand instead of dealing with the issue of public safety head-on? (Applause)

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the member is stating that I am turning a blind eye as the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to the issue of compliance officers. Well, I would tell the honourable member that compliance officers do not come under the Department of Transportation. (Laughter)

[Page 11855]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

ENVIRON. & LBR. - TOBEATIC WILDERNESS AREA:

MINING PERMIT - RESEARCH

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the very troubled Minister of Environment and Labour. This minister has granted Black Bull Resources an approval to mine quartz directly beside the protected Tobeatic Wilderness area, even though the science doesn't add up. Local mining engineer Ashraf Mahtab has over 40 years of experience. He's evaluated the department's numbers and says there could be irreparable damage, and I'll table his report. Yet, this minister says, don't worry, because he's been told that everything will be fine. Mr. Minister, you are gambling with property we can never get back. What will it take for you to do your homework, before this area is destroyed?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would answer the question to say that the homework has been done. The appropriate protections are in place. The monitoring program is there, and if there has been a miscalculation, it will be picked up immediately and the appropriate actions will be taken.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, for some reason not all of us are completely reassured

This minister sounds like he's reading a script and acts like the deal is written in stone, because indeed, from his perspective, it is.

Very prominent Tory George Cooper is leading the Black Bull charge. They've been sniffing around the Tobeatic for years, trying to get at the lucrative kaolin underground. It's

likely that a full scale kaolin mine, would have to have a more extensive environmental assessment, that would slow things up, so Black Bull is using the back door. They're mining

quartz, as a by-product they will get kaolin. Mr. Minister, we are on to that plan. When are you going to do your job and stop this project until you've evaluated all of the evidence?

[3:45 p.m.]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think the member opposite is, perhaps, forgetting that this did go through an environmental assessment. In fact, it went through certainly the most thorough one in my recent memory. I would point out that the professionals and staff have made the recommendation. They did not make it the first time, when it was a different proposal, but after sending them back and having turned down the initial one, they came forward with something that satisfied the staff. I think most Nova Scotians appreciate civil servants. I certainly appreciate the member in my department. I also appreciate the public input that guided them on this, perhaps unlike the honourable member opposite.

[Page 11856]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, the minister will know that there are very different levels of environmental assessment. When it comes to mines, what ought to occur in all instances is a full-scale, independent, class 2 environmental assessment held by an independent panel. We've presented sound science. There won't be any second and third chances. If the Tobeatic is destroyed, it's gone. There's no money in the quartz, it's too expensive to be competitive, the money is in the kaolin and the minister knows it. Mr. Minister, your refusal to acknowledge the science and the risks defies common sense. I would like to know why you won't order an independent, scientific review that's open to public scrutiny, in other words a class 2 environmental assessment?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to belabour this. Basically, I got up here; I expressed my appreciation for the professional staff who went through this process over about a two-year period; I expressed my appreciation to the public. The member opposite has criticized the staff, he's criticized the public and he's criticized the process. We just basically have a difference of opinion. I appreciate the staff, I appreciate the public. Thank you very much.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - MAVILLETTE BRIDGE:

REPAIR - TIME FRAME

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I wish to begin by tabling a bridge inspection quarterly report for the western region, dated July 22, 2002. In that report, a rating of two with its description is given to the Mavillette Bridge that's located on the main highway at home in Clare. A rating of two means the bridge is in critical condition, meaning there are serious structural flaws. In fact, such a bridge should probably be closed, if not repaired. My question to the minister is, could the minister indicate to the House when he will repair this vital link in southwestern Nova Scotia?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, all bridges in Nova Scotia that are in use are checked on a periodic basis, normally once per year. I would suggest to the honourable member that his bridge is no exception.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, there's an old saying in Nova Scotia, paving wins elections, repairing bridges does not. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Clare has the floor on his first supplementary.

[Page 11857]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, if bridges are dangerous, then they should take precedence over paving. Let's hope this minister is not putting politics before safety. This is a safety issue, and if the minister will not address the problem, at the very least, he should inform the public that this bridge is a danger to the public. My question to the minister is, if the minister won't fix the Mavillette Bridge, will he at least inform people of the potential danger?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I think it's pretty obvious as to why the Liberals never fixed any bridges. (Interruptions) In fact, I could tell you a story. In 1993 when I had a bridge that was unsafe and it was out to tender to be replaced, the Liberals came to power and promptly cancelled the contract. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Clare has the floor. (Interruptions)

Order, please. Order, please.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I can tell the House when the Liberal Government took office in 1993, we had to deal with the red file and lots of blue files. There were not too many green files at the time. The Mavillette Bridge is a vital link that is on the main No. 1 Highway located in the community of Mavillette. This minister's engineers believe there is a safety risk and he should trust their judgment. My final question to the minister is, why won't the minister stop buying time and simply replace the Mavillette Bridge before someone is seriously injured?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we are replacing bridges in Nova Scotia. We recognize the fact that bridges have been kept and used for much too long in this province. We have about 250-odd bridges that are over 100 years old and it is the intention of this government to do something about that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: FAM. RES. CTR. OF W. HANTS - FUND

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. The Family Resource Centre of West Hants is in crisis. The centre sees about 200 people a week in a county which has one of the highest poverty rates in Nova Scotia. Over the last four years the centre has provided needed support and skill-building programs, but unless they receive some core funding from the Minister of Community Services, they will likely have to close the door in the Spring. Mr. Minister, board members are sitting in the gallery and they want to work with you to find solutions. What will it take to keep this valuable centre open?

[Page 11858]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I know that the people from the resource centre, as indeed all resource centres across this province, have a great many challenges and they have a great many needs for their services. I hope those people will continue to work with us, that they will work in our budget process so that we can support them and we can support the other ones across the province.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, these people have agreed to work with this minister and the Family Resource Centre needs a base amount of $100,000 a year to stay open. Yet the minister can't give them a commitment even though just this year he spent $189,000 for consultation advice that he didn't use. So this issue can't be about money. This resource centre is invaluable especially now that the stress in the community continues to mount, now that Nova Scotia Textiles has laid off more workers. Skill-building and support programs like the ones offered by this centre will go a long way. Mr. Minister, the president and board members are here. Will you meet with them after today's session?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I'm happy to meet with the people who bring their dreams in here and their challenges. I can say to the honourable member I had the opportunity to be out at the resource centre in Lower Sackville today. As the honourable member will know, we were introducing the child care referral program and that centre had taken the opportunity to access those. These centres have a lot of challenges. There are a lot of different programs that they need to access and we try to work with them all.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, keeping in mind today that we heard about a $140 a plate lobster dinner and we also know that today was announced as International Child Day and we talked about the protection of the child. Mr. Speaker, the Family Resource Centre of West Hants provides an essential service. Over the years the reliance on grants and funding has been a huge obstacle, especially in such a cash-strapped community. Mr. Minister, you know the core funding is a better way. The board members want your help for finding solutions. When can they expect your commitment, Mr. Minister, today?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I said to the honourable member, I know that the board members have many challenges. They have lots of services required and that's one of the reasons last year we started to look at the delivery of service of transition houses and women's centres, because we knew they had pressure on them and we had to be able to make assurances that we could sustain those services. We will continue to work with all of these people who provide support for people so they can help maintain and sustain their services.

[Page 11859]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

SPORTS - VINCE RYAN MEM. HOCKEY TOURNAMENT:

FUNDING - DECREASE EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for Sport and Recreation. For 14 years now the Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament has been held - 127 teams and growing; the largest adult hockey tournament in Eastern Canada, Mr. Speaker. Each year since that government came to power the amount of funding the province gives to that event has decreased. So my question to the minister responsible for Sport and Recreation is, the organizers want to know why that is happening?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, I have had the opportunity to visit the Vince Ryan Memorial Hockey Tournament and I do realize the valuable role that it plays. Indeed, they have received funding in the past and I have no doubt they will be going through the destination marketing program again this year.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, again, my question is for the minister responsible for Sport and Recreation. The minister knows that that event injects about $3 million annually into the local economy. It fills hotels and motels during the tourism off-season. So my question again to the minister is, the tournament is recognized nationally, so why does his department continue to cut the funding for that tournament?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, indeed, that particular tournament has the opportunity, as do all hockey tournaments in that area or, indeed, around Nova Scotia. It is actually not through Sport and Recreation that we deal with that particular file, it's through Tourism. They go through, and are expected to go through the destination marketing and they have received thousands of dollars in the past and we will be there again next year with respect to that program.

MR. WILSON: The minister knows full well that every year his department has cut the funding. The minister attended the event one year. Maybe it's because they introduced him by the wrong name that he continues to cut the funding each and every year. The minister knows it's not just another hockey tournament and he promised to sign a long-term agreement with the hockey tournament, he did not. This hockey tournament was ranked the best sporting event in Nova Scotia by Attractions Canada. Furthermore, this was the Tourism Association of Nova Scotia's best event for 2001. Why then won't the minister recognize the importance of this event and help the organizers with the funding that they deserve?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the one thing I do know is that I don't go by the name of a Liberal, because that means deficits and debts in this province, and has meant for many years.

[Page 11860]

[4:00 p.m.]

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

GOV.'T. (N.S.) - TRAVEL COSTS:

COST-BENEFIT ANALYSIS - TABLE

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Premier. From information tabled earlier in our session today, we have learned that this Tory Government and their senior staff have spent $59,000 on air time and whirlybird transportation to places near and far. They've gone from Halifax to such destinations as Digby, Quebec City, Sydney, Cheticamp, Shelburne, Antigonish, Mabou, Mulgrave, Prince Edward Island, Yarmouth, Weymouth, Parrsboro, to name just a few. They've been doing many things on these trips, from photography work on new P3 schools, to sod turnings, to making tours of local government offices. So I want to ask the Premier, will he table a cost-benefit analysis for each of these trips showing the full cost (Interruptions) of each of these helicopter trips and the savings that the government has?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question because it does give me an opportunity to indicate the tremendous costs that government has in moving people around the province to attend to the business of government.

One of the challenges that we have is to be accountable to and in communication with Nova Scotians. That means government officials and elected people have to travel, and one of the determinations that we go through when we decide the mode of travel is comparative cost. For example, if we're flying to Sydney, if we were to have three people going, it is considerably cheaper for the taxpayers of Nova Scotia for us to charter a plane than it is to fly Air Nova. We always make those determinations whether we're flying to Sydney or whether we're going to Yarmouth or whether we're going to Quebec City. We do a cost benefit as to what would be least costly for the Nova Scotia taxpayer and, because of the high cost of air travel here in eastern Canada, very often it means using extraordinary means like the member has outlined.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to that analysis when it's tabled.

A few of these Cabinet Ministers really seem to like to fly around this province but they all, along the way as we look at them, according to the log tabled by the minister, when a helicopter or an aircraft sits on the ground while away from its base it seems to be free. The log says that when the Premier and Mr. Batherson kept a helicopter overnight in Sydney, on February 6, 2000, it didn't cost a cent. No money for the pilot to stay overnight, only a charge to the Premier's office for the flying time. If the Premier believes that flying the Minister of Health to his constituency, or flying in a helicopter to photograph a P3 school in Cape Breton

[Page 11861]

is good use of people's money, why aren't the full costs listed in this log, which is nothing more than a whitewash?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite, perhaps better go back and check his facts. I have never taken a helicopter to Sydney, ever. (Interruptions)

MR. ESTABROOKS: . . . I will check that out. I will, I will check that out. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. Does that mean that the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect will report back to the House? (Laughter)

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I just hope that that helicopter pilot didn't have to spend the night in the plane, sleeping there instead of getting accommodation.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier said he was going to get costs under control when this government was elected. Instead, his government is hiding the true costs to himself and his high-flying Cabinet Ministers. So why won't the Premier review the policy on Cabinet use of government aircrafts and guarantee that he will tell Nova Scotians the full costs of using these aircrafts, including the time the aircraft and the crew are tied up waiting for a return flight?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is easy to understand why the member opposite is red-faced, because obviously he has a lot of misinformation.

What I have been able to say to the member opposite is we do the analysis that he suggested should be done, we look at the comparative costs of going to a destination and we choose what is the most efficient and the most cost-effective way to travel. The member opposite and members of his caucus, from time to time, criticize members of government for not being at various functions, for not being at various meetings in other parts of the province. Well, if we're going to get there, we're going to have travel costs. I can assure the member and I can assure taxpayers, we choose the most cost-efficient way to travel.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

HEALTH - SMOKE-FREE PLACES ACT: CONFUSION - CORRECT

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Constituents of Lunenburg West have brought to my attention the issue of the Smoke-free Places Act. One of the few places these individuals can attend to participate in different activities is the bingo hall in the Bridgewater Curling Club, and the reason it's hard for them to get around is because they use wheelchairs. Now, the bingo operator has told these people that they will not allow anyone under the age of 19 to go into the bingo hall, so that they can

[Page 11862]

get away from putting separate enclosed ventilated rooms in the bingo hall. These individuals who are in wheelchairs don't smoke, and they don't like to be around the smoke. This Act that was supposed to eliminate that for those individuals appears to have a loophole. It is obvious there's some confusion around the Act. My question to the minister is, can the minister explain what plans he has to correct the confusion over the existence of this Act in regard to if you're 19 years of age and under you don't have to go and build those facilities?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm slightly confused by that question. The Leader of the Liberal Party was talking about a total smoking ban, and now this man is getting up there supporting smoking.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, one thing about the minister is he's consistent about being confused every day in this House that I've been here. (Interruptions) The bottom line here is that the minister's answer speaks volumes to the fact that he knows less about what's going on in this bill than anybody else. This Act goes into effect a month and a half from today, and he has failed to educate people in the Province of Nova Scotia, whether they're bingo hall operators or bartenders or whoever they are about what this Act is all about. To make matters worse, we learned today that Nova Scotia's new anti-smoke law may not even come into effect January 1st as scheduled, because the regulations, by this government, have yet to be drafted. My question to the minister is, when will the minister provide Nova Scotians with the necessary education about exactly what this Act and regulation will be all about?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this is one of the strongest provincial anti-smoking laws in the country. We've consulted with stakeholders over the summer and Fall, and actually we have shared the draft regulations with the Food and Restaurant Association and others. We have assured them that there would be no substantial changes to the ventilation requirements for smoking rooms.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, if he shared it with those people, what about the individuals in the bingo halls who have said that their way around it is to not allow anybody under 19 years of age to go into the bingo halls, so they don't have to set up a separate ventilated area, so those who attend will have to put up with smoke in those so-called smoke-free environments. Now, my question to the minister, my final supplementary is, it's clear that Nova Scotians do not understand the Act, because this government has not educated people about what the Act will be about, or the regulations, specifically - that's only a month and a half away - how can the minister implement an Act when you do not even have the regulations in place and have not had them in place to the extent that they have educated people around the province so that they know what rights they have? How can you possibly do it January 1st?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, this is among the very strongest anti-smoking legislation in the country. Of course, the regulations are only one part of the overall legislation. I can say

[Page 11863]

that we have shared draft regulations with the food and beverage industry, particularly surrounding ventilation. We've assured them that what they have seen is not going to change substantially. One of the positive things that was asked yesterday, by one of the media, was about the building of smoke rooms and where they were going. I guess really what I should have said is I'm taking that as a signal that they're not going to have smoking in their facilities until such time as it is allowed, in the evenings.

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

JUSTICE - OCC. HEALTH & SAFETY:

LEGAL SERVICES - REDUCTION EXPLAIN

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. This government's sorry record on occupational health and safety just keeps getting worse. The recommendations of the Westray Inquiry included specific recommendations for increased access for health and safety inspectors to prosecutors and legal advice, but instead this government reassigns their long-time accomplished lawyer on occupational health and safety to another department. It replaces a full-time resource with 3.5 hours a week of legal advice for the inspectors. So I want to ask the Minister of Justice to tell this House why he has drastically cut legal advice to the Occupational Health and Safety Division to only 3.5 hours per week?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the question from the honourable member. The Department of Justice provides legal services to client departments on an as needed basis and we simply respond to the amount of legal services that the department feels they need relative to their different functions. We are glad to provide as much legal assistance as possible and as the honourable member would know, over time we try to refresh our solicitors by moving them around to different departments to give them an opportunity to keep current in a number of areas of law. So it's part of the routine function of government that we move people around.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I might say that our office has heard from several people who believe that they need a lot more than 3.5 hours a week of legal advice in order to do the job that needs to be done to protect the workers of Nova Scotia. This Progressive Conservative Government has zero credibility when it comes to occupational health and safety in Nova Scotia, especially since the Westray disaster happened on the watch of a Tory Government and now this Hamm Government has continued the same pattern. They shelve the important health and safety regulations. They take a laissez-faire attitude with regard to prosecutions and now they practically eliminate legal services for the health and safety officers. So I want to ask the Minister of Justice to explain why this province's main occupational health and safety lawyer, who had been there for 22 years, was reassigned, leaving officers with almost no legal advice?

[Page 11864]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the honourable member for his question. There are obviously two things that one should understand about this issue. The first and foremost thing is that with respect to internal solicitor advice, and I have no idea how many hours the Department of Environment and Labour requires for that function, but that would be up to them to identify to the Department of Justice and we would provide the service. More importantly and what the honourable member failed to mention, with respect to quasi-criminal prosecutions, it is the Public Prosecution Service of Nova Scotia that provides advice to inspectors with respect to those prosecutions.

MR. DEVEAUX: You know, Mr. Speaker, it's ironic because the Westray Inquiry specifically said that this government, and any government, should be providing a full-time prosecutor and this Minister of Justice has failed to implement that recommendation as well as to ensure that those inspectors have appropriate legal services. We have 33 occupational health and safety inspectors in the government today and they're trying to protect and enforce the rights of the workers of this province. How does this minister think that all these inspectors can be effective when they have been denied the support and the best legal resources in this province and face significantly reduced legal advice from his department?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the honourable member that it is the commitment of the Department of Justice to provide the best quality legal advice at any time to client departments, including the Department of Environment and Labour, and again this is why this particular government introduced a bill which is presently in front of the House dealing with the powers of those very inspectors to pursue evidence that will lead to successful prosecutions in quasi-criminal cases. We are committed to this issue.

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

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL. - ATVs:

REGISTRATION COSTS - DETAILS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. On May 1, 2002, the people of Nova Scotia had yet another example of this Tory Government's user fees. All-terrain vehicle registration fees increased by 300 per cent, going from $10 to $30. All-terrain vehicle owners were deeply angered at this increase because they feel they do not get as much back from this government as they put in. Renewal fees have remained unchanged at $10, yet ATV owners are being charged $30. My question to the minister is, why is your department charging ATV owners $20 more than you are legislated to charge?

[4:15 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the problem to which the honourable member refers is one which is being addressed and will be corrected.

[Page 11865]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, ignorance of the law is not really an excuse, so therefore this minister - and ignorance of his department isn't one either. My question again is to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. There are over 35,000 all-terrain vehicles in Nova Scotia registered this year. This means that each owner has to renew their all-terrain vehicle every year. Since this government has been overcharging ATV owners on their user fees, I'm curious as to how they are going to correct the problem? My question to the minister, is this government going to consider a plan to rebate the ATV owners who have been subjected to this government's $20 mistake?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated in my answer to the first question, the problem will be rectified.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, 35,000 times $20 equals $700,000 worth of a mistake. It's beginning to sound like the insurance industry. My final question is again for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. This government's intent is now to pass a retroactive Order in Council to make up for their mistake. Not a surprising tactic by this government. All-terrain vehicle owners assist throughout many communities in Nova Scotia with regard to search and rescue, act as trail wardens in many of our communities and citizens on patrol for cottage country and rural Nova Scotia. My question is, will the minister stop this Order in Council and begin to help ATV owners instead of burdening them with higher excessive fees?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, what I can say about this government is that we have asked our citizens to make a sacrifice in order to balance the budget. We achieved a balanced budget, the first balanced budget in 40 years. That group, when they formed the government of this province, subjected Nova Scotians and public servants to rollbacks in their wages, they subjected them to the Savage days, they created an artificial shortage of nurses by paying them to get out of the workforce, and they did all of that in a period of eight years and not once did they achieve a truly balanced budget. They didn't come close to it.

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

EDUC. - MACDONALD COMPLEX:

STUDENT RELOCATION - ASSISTANCE DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Education. It will be about five weeks and waiting for the citizens of the Town of Dominion to find out what's going on at their local high school, the MacDonald Complex. It's pretty well obvious to most people in the area that it's subsidence. It's been three weeks since that school started sinking and cracks were showing in the building. Teachers and students have to go elsewhere. I would like to ask the minister to explain to this House, what substantial contributions has her department made to the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board

[Page 11866]

in assisting them in locating the students in the Breton Education Centre and providing on-time transportation for those students?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the last I heard those costs were being negotiated. The board was asking the department to pay and, normally under these circumstances, if the department agrees to help it asks for a bill at the end of the year. I appreciate the question of the member opposite and I will get back to him with the details.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the minister's undertaking, but the community needs answers and they need them soon. The students and the teachers deserve to know the environment that they go to school in every day is a safe and dependable area. I asked the Premier this question a few weeks ago, so I'm going to ask the minister directly today, will you tell this House whether the government has embarked on a testing of all schools in the communities of the Cape Breton coalfields to determine if they are undermined and at risk of subsidence? Have you done that or will you do that?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe the department knows which schools in the area were built over old mine workings but I will double-check to see. I know we've checked in nearby buildings. This particular one, even though they did know about the mine workings, it certainly was a surprise to all concerned that what happened to that school happened. They still don't know exactly why, to the best of my knowledge, at this point.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, any member of the government, if they were down to that area, really knows the problems facing industrial Cape Breton, about the widespread problem of subsidence.

I want to put my final supplementary to the Minister of Natural Resources. We know there are many former mine sites in industrial Cape Breton. I want to ask the Minister of Natural Resources, in his discussions and in his negotiations with the Cape Breton Development Corporation, now that they've closed the Cape Breton coalfields and put miners out of work, is subsidence on your agenda of negotiations and what has Devco done to assure that they will protect buildings such as schools and homeowners against subsidence, and will they pay for it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think there were three questions there. Would the honourable Minister of Natural Resources like to answer one, please?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. I would begin by saying that members of this government share the concerns of the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre, as well as all the other residents of Cape Breton, regarding the subsidence issue. As he is aware, subsidence will continue to be a social and environmental problem in Cape Breton for years to come. In January 2002, the Cape Breton Development Corporation submitted to surrender their leases and through that submission,

[Page 11867]

the proposal they put through was not acceptable to the government; they then resubmitted in April. One of the concerns that we have is that the Cape Breton Development Corporation has reneged on its responsibility, basically, for subsidence. Along with the reclamation issues associated with the mines, both the reclamation issue and the subsidence issues are part of the ongoing discussions with the Cape Breton Development Corporation.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - KYOTO ACCORD:

ANALYSIS COMPLETION - CONFIRM

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. Yesterday the Economic Development Committee had the privilege of meeting with two individuals from the Department of Energy. Their insights were informative to the issues surrounding the Kyoto Accord which, by the way, is clearly an environmental issue. Their information session also raised a few questions that need to be addressed; in fact it was indicated that Nova Scotia Power had undertaken an impact analysis with the pending Kyoto Accord. So my question to the minister is, has his department completed any analysis of the impacts that will be attributed to the Kyoto Accord, and if you haven't, why not?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite. I would start by pointing out that the lead department is, in fact, the Department of Energy. But with regard to the impact analysis, I certainly have been attending these meetings for almost a couple of years now and I would tell the member opposite that there are econometric models that are generating projections and the federal government, in consultation with the provinces and stakeholders, are refining them to reach final conclusion. Thank you.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my next question is to the Premier on the same issue. Earlier in the year, the Premier indicated that Nova Scotians would be faced with massive power increases should the Kyoto Accord be implemented in its present form. So my question to the Premier is, what figures were you adhering to when you arrived at that conclusion that the massive cost will fall on the backs of Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the government was quite correct in coming to its conclusion that, in fact, an application of Kyoto, without burden sharing, without sharing of the cost of electrical generation conversion here in Nova Scotia, would result in very significant power increases in Nova Scotia, the cost of power. As a matter of fact, I had a briefing as recently as this week from Nova Scotia Power on that very issue and they confirmed the position we had taken that unchecked, without burden sharing, there will be significant cost increases in electricity in Nova Scotia with the Kyoto Accord.

[Page 11868]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I find that a little perplexing because what was stated at the committee yesterday is quite to the contrary. In fact - I will quote - with regard to the power rate increases, the range would be between 1 per cent and 9 per cent impact on Nova Scotia power rates. I will table that for the Premier.

Now, the Premier has indicated that he has taken Nova Scotia Power's figures of between 20 per cent and 30 per cent. Why is he accepting at face value the figures that have been put forth by Nova Scotia Power and scaring the living daylights out of Nova Scotians into siding with the government on this issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member opposite that even within the supporting caucus in Ottawa that's proposing to go forward with Kyoto, there is a widespread disagreement on the ultimate cost that would be borne by Canadians in approving Kyoto. So why should that member suggest that this government should not be looking at all aspects of the Kyoto Accord, why should that member suggest that we should ignore the fact that this could provide huge cost increases for the people of Nova Scotia? (Applause)

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, in anticipation that we would normally run over at least 30 seconds - I said we would start at 4:30 p.m., but we're 30 seconds ahead - I have passed out to all caucuses, and to yourself, the two items of business, along with the timelines which will work out to approximately 11 minutes per speaker on each of the two bills.

Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Private Members' Public Bills for Second Reading.

PRIVATE MEMBERS' PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 145.

Bill No. 145 - Homes for Special Care Act.

[Page 11869]

[4:30 p.m.]

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to have an opportunity to stand up and speak on the bill today although, quite honestly, I had hoped that by now there would be no need to. I say that because the Premier of Nova Scotia - he's our Premier, he's the Premier for all people in Nova Scotia - the Premier himself, the numero uno in the front benches, the man who calls the shots, the Premier himself has admitted that the current process, the current practices of impoverishing seniors, charging them for their health care costs in long-term care facilities, senior homes, and nursing home facilities is unfair. If the Premier himself acknowledges that it's unfair, he is saying that the current system is wrong. If the Premier knows that what is being done to our seniors and their families is wrong, then one would have expected that even if he didn't have all the details worked out, the Premier would have announced that his government will correct those problems. Instead, what we've heard from the Premier, is ducking; he deflects all questions to the Minister of Health because our Premier, the Tory chief honcho, is intending to lead the Party into an election before too long and he doesn't want this issue to stick to him because, as the Premier's popularity goes, so too often goes the popularity of the Party he leads.

Mr. Speaker, I say through you to the Premier, and I'm prepared to look him square in the eyes and say to him that what you are doing to the seniors of this province is wrong, and, furthermore, I say that you know it.

Now, Mr. Speaker, what we've heard from the Minister of Health so far is that we're going to do some tinkering, we're going to adjust some forms. But there has been no commitment from this government to correct the fundamental problems. I say to members of the Tory caucus through you, Mr. Speaker, I say to the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, what do you say to the seniors and to their family members and their loved ones and their friends in your constituency about this issue, because I'm sure some of them have spoken with you. To the member for Preston, to the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, to the member for Kings North, to the member for Shelburne, to the member for Halifax Bedford Basin, I believe that each and every one of you have been approached on this topic.

I've had the privilege, Mr. Speaker, of being in this House for over 18 years. Do you know what? Over that period of time I can't remember a single issue that caught fire with the public so quickly, that the public understands so well, as this. Members of all political stripes, people who are affiliated with all Parties and those who are affiliated with none have all spoken on this issue. I can tell you that I'm extremely proud of the leadership that is shown by the Leader of the Official Opposition on this topic - over 19,000 signatures on the petitions that have been tabled in this House.

[Page 11870]

I will give you one example to show how easy it is to get that petition signed, because some people on the government side think that people aren't paying any attention. A couple, Mr. Speaker, who are not of my political Party's affiliation but they are affiliated with another, came into my office on Friday morning, I think it would have been, whatever the Friday morning was, the last Friday of October, about the 27th or 28th, they came into my office to sign the petition. They came back in the afternoon to pick up copies of that petition and they headed off, and sometime on Sunday, those petitions were shoved through the mail slot in my office door. This couple, affiliated with no political Party, understood the issue very well, and had collected close to 200 signatures. I didn't do it. All I did was provide them with an opportunity to have copies of the petition, to have their say.

Mr. Speaker, if the system is unfair, it's wrong. If the system is wrong, change it. The Minister of Finance, who sits beside the Premier, knows that the revenues that are coming in exceed those that are projected. He knows, and the Premier wants to play politics with this 10 per cent tax break that he promised Nova Scotians during the last election for the upcoming one. An election is coming forward, I don't know when it's going to be, maybe it will be in three months, maybe it will be in six months, maybe it will be a year from now. The Premier himself probably doesn't even know, he might have hopes, he might have plans, but if those polls don't come in the right way, then we may be here a little bit longer before Nova Scotians have an opportunity to cast judgment on this government.

Mr. Speaker, that 10 per cent tax break that you want to give to Nova Scotians to buy their votes with their dollars, and I know that there have been focus groups done and on the basis of the questions that I was told were asked of people in those focus groups, I'm pretty sure which political Party was behind them, and it wasn't ours. A 10 per cent tax break, that equates to about $140 million. That's three, three and a half times what it would cost to pay the health care component for that long-term care, and you would stop impoverishing seniors, you would stop stripping them of their dignity. I heard members of the government benches saying, well, seniors expect to take care of themselves in their golden years. They like to put aside and should have a responsibility to put aside to care for themselves in their golden years.

Mr. Speaker, we do have, as my colleague points out, universal health care, and the government's position ignores that. It also ignores another fundamental point, those very seniors are the ones who built our communities, our societies to where we are today. Many of them may have served to protect our freedoms in the Armed Forces, at home or abroad. Those people worked their whole lives, whether that be in the work force, where they were earning incomes and paying taxes to help pay the costs of the health care for others, while they themselves, many of them, never called upon it. Now, at a time when they most need it, this government wants to strip them of all of their assets, impoverish their families and strip them of their dignity.

[Page 11871]

I ask all members on the Tory benches, through you, Mr. Speaker, I defy you, which one of you, stand up, tell me which one of you believes that that is right? Because, in your heart of hearts, you know it's wrong. Nova Scotians, take your 10 per cent tax break, chuck it in the garbage can, they would say, invest that in services that Nova Scotians need, pay for those health care costs. We're not talking about room and board, we're talking health care costs. Pay them.

Mr. Speaker, I don't expect that this government will have the intestinal fortitude or the moral courage to allow this bill to come to a vote. But I challenge you to do that and I challenge each and every member on the government benches to insist that the Premier give you the chance to stand on your feet to vote on this important issue. Remember, you're going to be going back, you're going to have to look your constituents in the eye and you're going to have to tell them whether you do or don't support the heavy-handed tactics that are being followed by the government, especially when you had a chance to do something different.

I would encourage the Premier to signal to his colleagues that he wants this bill to be voted on here today in this House so it can be dealt with during the Fall sitting of the Legislature. You've got the money, now do you have the will and the moral willpower to do what you know is right? Thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I rise this afternoon to speak about an issue of great importance to this government and, of course, more importantly, to the seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia and that's the cost of nursing home care. I want to begin by emphasizing that we've been listening to seniors all along. We are well aware of the concerns that seniors have in the Province of Nova Scotia. We have been addressing the needs of seniors and we've been addressing the needs of seniors since we came to government. We've made many important steps that have improved senior care in the Province of Nova Scotia. Seniors are a priority for this government.

We have proven that seniors are a priority to this government by our very actions. Let's say the facts - and we don't want to confuse the honourable members opposite with the facts - but the facts will speak for themselves if the honourable members would care to listen.

In the past, people looking for home care called the home care office. People looking for nursing home care put their names on the waiting lists of several homes in case a bed might become available. This government had the wherewithal and the courage to change that. We've made it much easier for seniors. We now have one toll-free phone number that connects seniors and their families across Nova Scotia to home care, placement in nursing homes and to adult protection workers. That is indisputable. Now assessments for home care and long-term care are conducted using the same standards from one end of this province to the other. Now, isn't that fair and isn't that an improvement? There's no need to contact

[Page 11872]

more than one office. These are vast improvements over the old system and I think honourable members opposite would agree.

The process for assessments has been made much easier. In the past, people who needed to move from home care to long-term care went through another assessment, right from scratch, by someone in the long-term care and then they had to deal with a different Department of Health. Those members opposite know that was the case because, as honourable members and good MLAs, they had to work on behalf of the seniors looking for placement. They know that was the case and today we have the single-entry access and I'm proud that we were able to make that change and I commend the Minister of Health and this government for having the wherewithal to do that.

Let's talk about some other factual improvements. In September of this year, case co-ordinators began using customized software to assess whether a person needs home care, long-term care or adult protection. That's right, whether a person needs home care, long-term care or adult protection. The software system was developed over a period of years by an international group of researchers and it's proven to provide valid and reliable data for determining care and needs. I'm proud to say again that Nova Scotia is the first province - get this, the first province in Canada - to use this very important, valuable system. It greatly simplifies the process of conducting a thorough one-step assessment on a person's care needs. This assessment remains the basis for all future reassessments. No more starting from scratch and going from pillar to post - no more of that.

[4:45 p.m.]

Now, another fact, Mr. Speaker. In August of this same year, the Department of Health began collecting information on the physical state of this province's nursing homes. Do you know why this government did that? It's in order to plan for necessary upgrades and replacements. Continuing Care Web pages were also added to the Department of Health's Web site, to make it easier, easier-to-read information was provided to our seniors. Care is this government's first priority.

In the past, yes, in the past, and I admit it people with enough funds could go to a nursing home and get a place regardless of their care needs. It meant that a person needing financial support could be pushed back in the waiting list, even if they had greater care needs. Under the new system today, admission to nursing homes is based on the care needed, not the ability to pay. Mr. Speaker, I think that is worth repeating; today, under the new system, admission to nursing homes is based on the care needed, not the ability to pay. Again, an indisputable fact, and I defy anybody to stand up and speak against that very fact.

Gone is the patchwork of services and standards that was the reality across this province from one end to the other. Honourable members, especially members who have been in this House for some time, know how difficult it was for MLAs to work under the

[Page 11873]

previous system. You were going from pillar to post, you were going from scratch, you were going to the Department of Health. We have simplified, and made a very effective, efficient change in that regard.

Mr. Speaker, the nursing home budget - speaking of factual information - did not increase substantially until the 2002 budget year. Since 1999, the continuing care budget has increased by $56 million; yes, Continuing care is a priority. In the latest Department of Health budget, $2.6 million is going toward nursing home operating expenses - food, utility, fuel costs, and things of that nature; and $5.2 million is bringing equity for employee benefits in this sector; and $1.5 million is going toward major capital projects, and let's not forget the $5.2 million of additional funds that went toward employee equity. I would defy honourable members to stand and speak against that. No, Mr. Speaker, no, they won't, because I believe they really support and recognize that we have tried to provide parity in the system.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, first, I would just like to see if the member is willing to entertain a very brief question.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the member entertain a question?

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I want to commend the member for reading his speech quite well, but I wanted to ask him if he believes that seniors in long-term care facilities should be required to pay the health care costs when nobody else does?

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, the long-term care budget in this province is now $204 million. This government is concerned about seniors, and care is a priority of this government. We have made major improvements in the system. I'm outlining some of the factual information and steps that this government has taken, so I think it's important that the honourable member listens, and if he does, he will find an answer to his question.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I want to point out that the member, in answering my question, didn't come within a country mile of addressing the issue that was raised.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That is not a point of order.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I want to carry on with a little more factual information for the honourable member opposite. Nursing homes are benefiting from $1.2 million in funding for patient lifts, respite care for people (Interruptions) I only have a couple of minutes left.

[Page 11874]

Mr. Speaker, in the past - I think it's important to point this out, when I'm speaking about improvements and factual information, it's very important - a veteran's disability pension and the spouse's portion of that pension were considered assets. A veteran's disability pension and the spouse's portion of that pension were considered as an asset. Now, this government has taken the necessary steps to provide that veterans' disability pension and the spouses' portion is no longer considered an asset that can go towards nursing home care. Now, isn't that a positive step that we have taken? (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, there are incredible demands on this government, it doesn't matter what department you're talking about. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works would like more money, the Minister of Tourism and Culture would like more money, the Minister of Community Services would like to have more money, and on and on (Interruption) And the Minister of Education, yes, and the Minister of Natural Resources. Every department has challenges, every department has demands and we're trying to provide a fair balance. We're taking steps to protect our senior population and we care about the senior population in this province, there's no doubt about that, it's indisputable.

As I indicated, the Department of Health is now collecting information on the physical state of this province's nursing homes in order to plan for the necessary upgrades. Now, I know the honourable and very experienced members opposite, especially, would know that the cost to repair and improve, and in some cases replace, those nursing homes will be very, very expensive. So we want to make sure (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, how many times is this guy . . .

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. Because the member referenced me, I would like the member to tell us why it is seniors, by paying their health care costs, should have to pay those costs instead of receiving justice like all other Nova Scotians?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. The honourable member's time has expired.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party, I wonder would you entertain allowing an introduction, please.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank the member for giving me a bit of time to do so. In the east gallery we have some guests with us here today. They are taking museum training and they're taking that through the Mi'kmaq Office of Cultural Studies - I hope I have that right - and also the University College of Cape Breton. I will ask our guests to rise when I introduce them by name.

[Page 11875]

Mr. Speaker, we have from Membertou, Michelle Ginnish and Chris Kabalay; also from Membertou, Ryan Ginnish, Nancy Oakley, Eskasoni; Norma Gould, Anna Jane Toney and Patricia Peters from Waycobah - Waycobah is a very fine spot, I might add, a place near Inverness - Nadia Denny and Vaughen Doucette from Eskasoni; Miranda Gould from Waycobah; Mabel Joe from Membertou; Craig Pierro from Wagmatcook; Ron Wells from Membertou; and we also have Deborah Ginnish, Membertou, Coordinator of Museum and Heritage Training for UCCB, the Mi'kmaw Office of Cultural Studies for the Mi'kmaw Association of Nova Scotia. As well, of course, we have Dr. James (Jim) St. Clair from Mull River, Inverness County. We welcome all of them. I would ask the members to give them the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Welcome to our visitors.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise to speak on Bill No. 145 that's before the House. This bill deals with the issue of covering health care costs for our seniors and those persons with disabilities in nursing homes. This is a very complex issue, there are no easy solutions, and it's an issue that government must deal with. This important issue touches many seniors, it touches many people with disabilities and it touches many families across our province.

Mr. Speaker, I want to first speak on what we as a Liberal Government inherited and some of the challenges that we faced when we came to power with the Liberal Government

back in 1993. We inherited a system that was already in place, a system that was in effect the responsibility of the municipal units. It was under the Social Assistance Act brought forward by the then Tory Government of John Buchanan, that started the process of determining what would be considered as assets for the purpose of entering a long-term care facility. That Act also put in place the process of assessing people's assets, and the process for using these assets towards the cost of long-term care. So, again we inherited a process from the municipal units that we did not create.

There are many former municipal councillors here, on all sides of the House as elected members, and I'm sure most of them and probably all of them, can recall how the system was working back then. Not good and I agree.

I'm sure many members in this House could share many, many stories from their experiences dealing with these long-term care facilities. From my experience during our time in government, we had limited resources. 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.

[Page 11876]

There was also a service exchange of the municipal units with the provincial government that was worked out over a period of time. We need to recognize that many changes were made throughout that process and there were many challenges along the way. There are still some challenges that need to be addressed today.

Government and power can make changes. These changes are done by steps, and with each step you get closer in stabilizing a system. So, when we were in government, we made changes to stabilize the system, a system that's ready to move to the next level. It's now time for this government to move to that next level.

Also looking back, I want to say a few words on when the Employment Support and Income Assistance Act was proclaimed on November 30, 2000 under our current Tory Government. Under this piece of legislation, everyone looking at applying for or accessing

long-term care, needs to provide the amounts of their assets, and they also need to provide the amount of their income.

So again, under this Act that was brought in by this Tory Government two years ago, anyone looking to apply for long-term care, the burden of proof was placed on them. Also under this Act, if an applicant refuses to provide the required information, the applicant would be denied assistance. Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you have been contacted by family members or by persons applying for long-term care. I'm sure every member in this House has been contacted over this important issue, but it's clear that this issue has come to the forefront in the last two years, at the same time Bill No. 62 came into existence.

Mr. Speaker, if you go back and check Hansard, between 1997 and 1999, this issue was not questioned on the floor of this House. We can spend more time at looking back at what happened in the system, at looking back at who did what and blaming someone else, but we need to move forward on this very important issue. I can tell you that our Liberal caucus has spent a great deal of time debating this issue and we continue to debate it, but everyone recognizes that the current system is not fair and the system is not working.

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we have a long-term care system in Nova Scotia that approximately 80 per cent of our residents in our nursing homes have their cost paid for by the province, and we have approximately 20 per cent of our residents in our nursing homes who pay part of, or all of this cost. So the real issue goes further than what we are discussing here today. Nova Scotians are independent people and you know that they want to remain in their own homes and they want to be in control of their own lives. So should we not be looking at options that are available in keeping seniors out of nursing homes in the first place? Should we not be striving to give seniors the dignity of maintaining an independent lifestyle? As a Liberal caucus, we have already stated publicly that this is an issue of fairness and we need to come up with approximately $30 million to cover the health care costs of long-term care.

[Page 11877]

Mr. Speaker, in closing, under a Liberal Government, after the next provincial election, a Liberal Government will fund the health care portion of nursing home costs. Thank you very much for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to take my place in debate on Bill No. 145. I'm very pleased that the Leader of the Official Opposition has brought this bill forward. I'm also very pleased to see that the member of the Third Party and, in fact, the Leader of the Third Party has announced that they would support such a bill and that they are looking at taking over the total cost with respect to the health section of long-term care. I think that is where we go and that is a move in the direction in which we take through this Legislative Assembly.

Mr. Speaker, when I entered this Legislative Assembly I felt that when there was good legislation coming through this House, whether it be from the government side, whether it be from the Third Party, or whether it be from the Official Opposition, that we would support such good legislation, legislation that had a human character to that legislation as well. The member for Chester-St. Margaret's - just the other day with respect to the plebiscite bill, I stood in my place in this Legislative Assembly because I thought that that was a good bill that was brought forward by the member for Chester-St. Margaret's, and the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

Mr. Speaker, here is another very good bill, and I want to say to you, as we stand in this Legislative Assembly, that the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley was absolutely correct in saying that the government has made strides and moves towards assisting those individuals in the long-term care sector, and the minister, on a previous day, had made mention with respect to allocating an additional $56 million into long-term care.

Mr. Speaker, that is true and that is needed. Also, there was a quote of the 1-800 number, and that is a single-entry access that we're talking about. A single-entry access is a very fine point, providing the government continue to make sure that people have that single-entry access. We have supported those particular moves by this government and I want you to know that that's the kind of policies and, in fact, recommendations that come forward through this Legislative Assembly that we support.

Mr. Speaker, how can we and how dare we, as members of this Legislative Assembly, suck the money out of the pockets of the individual seniors, when those seniors who in fact . . .

[Page 11878]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. I'm not sure if the term is unparliamentary, but I can pretty well guarantee you that it's right there on the line between parliamentary and unparliamentary. So I would ask the member to please let's be a little more careful in the words that we're choosing.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

MR. PYE: Well, Mr. Speaker, I would go on to quote Mr. Ross Perot when he was running for the presidency of the United States, who implied that I can hear that giant sucking sound. I guess in this particular case, I would say that I hear this giant sucking sound from the government in power, whom in fact, has been infiltrating the monies out of the pockets of the seniors. Those particular individual seniors who are the most vulnerable and the most in need at a particular critical time in their life, those individuals who have contributed to the well-being of this country and of this province and of their communities. It is those seniors who we are now deciding to take the money from their pockets and they are the most vulnerable individuals and rightfully don't deserve this.

I have to tell you that we talk about not having the money and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley indicated, yes, we'd love to have the money, put more money into Education, put more money into Community Services, put more money into roads and Transportation. I want the Nova Scotians who are watching this tonight on Legislative TV to know that this is a government who imposed user fees to bring in $110 million. This is a government who generates $178 million from gambling in this province - $178 million that this government says that it needs to generate to keep these services and programs going.

Also, this is a government who is indicating a 10 per cent personal income tax cut. I know that many of the Nova Scotians in this province do not favour this 10 per cent tax cut and would gladly put that money over into the long-term care so that these seniors would not have to sell their homes, sell their farms, sell their automobiles. They would be able to be a contributing factor to their grandchildren and to their children with respect to this very important issue.

The government says that it wants to consult and it wants to talk to seniors and it says that it has been doing that. We have had no evidence of this government consulting or talking to seniors on this particular issue. I do know that right across this street the Senior Citizens' Secretariat has an office and I do know that this is an issue with respect to long-term care that they and the group of nine at the Senior Citizens' Secretariat could certainly sit down and discuss on this long-term care issue.

Also, I would remind you as well that the cost to implement the health component of this long-term care is somewhere around $30 million and I believe the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley actually mentioned some $30 million. I think it's

[Page 11879]

somewhere between $30 million and $35 million. If in fact those numbers are correct, surely, we can come up with the dollars to help those seniors - those seniors who are in desperate need because of the particular disabilities that they have.

It's certainly not easy, but when I look at the Tory's blue book and the government has indicated when it campaigned in 1999 and it spoke about its commitments to seniors, it said our seniors are those of our community who have contributed to making our Nova Scotian society the wonderful place it is and now they have the right to live their remaining years in comfort, security and the best possible health and quality of life. If we really mean that, if we really mean that seniors ought to live in security and have quality of life, then we ought to think about Bill No. 145.

The government can certainly take some call from the Official Opposition and say that yes, this is a good bill, yes, the long-term care was something that was acquired from the municipalities through service exchange and, yes, service exchange, in some measure, was in fact very good, because it provided continuity of the delivery of programs and services across this province, particularly with Community Services. I can tell you that the long-term care fell into that category, and because I was a part of municipal government when this was going on doesn't make me particularly proud. It was a part of the event of the day. However, we recognized the exceptionally important issue that is facing many seniors here today.

Mr. Speaker, I want you to know that this piece of legislation is one that should be and can be, if the government has the will, supported and endorsed. I also want to tell you that I've received calls from all across this province. As a matter of fact, I received a call and some e-mail, most recently, from a constituent from Antigonish who complained about the process with respect to the application forms that need to be filled out, who questioned the legitimacy of those application forms - this constituent in Antigonish - because this constituent felt that some of the information around that application form is obviously unconstitutional. If it isn't unconstitutional, it certainly is something that should not be tolerated or accepted by seniors.

AN HON. MEMBER. It's immoral.

MR. PYE: It's immoral. Thank you very much, honourable member. It is certainly immoral. Mr. Speaker, I say to you that this is what we're here for. This is why we are here. If every one of the members on the government side believes that this is not an important issue, I ask them to speak to every one of the seniors in their constituencies across this province. There is no magic in our receiving some 19,000-member petition here. There's no magic to that. That means that this is a very important issue, the seniors' long-term care, with every single Nova Scotian from one end of this province to the other.

[Page 11880]

Mr. Speaker, if the government doesn't recognize the importance of this long-term care issue, then I can assure you that the test of the time will be when this government calls the election. This government knows that, and this government is just out there with its tentacles feeling around to see what the hot-button issues are, and they're responding and acting on what the issues are out there at the time. That is no way to govern. However, why should I say? Because the important thing is that if this government continues on that track, then I can assure you that they will not be the government of the day after the next election.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say in closing, I think my time is coming near, that Bill No. 145 is a good bill, it is an excellent bill, it's a compassionate bill, it demonstrates caring, and all we're asking in that bill is that the seniors who live in long-term care are not subject to the health care costs that you and I would never be subject to.

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired on Bill No. 145.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I was hoping there was going to be a request from the government for unanimous consent to vote on the last bill. (Interruptions) I hear a no.

MR. SPEAKER: Time has expired on that bill.

MR. HOLM: But by unanimous consent, we could have voted on it. We would have agreed. Mr. Speaker, therefore, since no unanimous consent to vote on the last very good bill is coming forth, could I ask you to call Bill No. 157.

Bill No. 157 - Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, hopefully, if we ask for unanimous consent on this bill, the member for Preston might agree, as he couldn't agree to unanimous consent on a vote on Bill No. 145. I'm glad to have an opportunity to speak on Bill No. 157, which is our Party's suggested amendments to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. This is a piece of legislation that has been debated a lot over the years in this Chamber. It was even debated last Wednesday, I believe, when the member for Richmond's bill was introduced and on Opposition Day we all had an opportunity to comment on it then as well.

[Page 11881]

[5:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that what we are proposing in this bill is not unlike the Liberal bill except, I suggest, it goes a little further in giving powers to the review officer under that legislation to ensure that this legislation will have legitimate teeth, legitimate legally enforceable orders of the review officer to ensure that instead of being a facilitator, or a mediator, or an ombudsperson, that the review officer would actually have the ability to order changes where he or she felt that the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act was being violated by the government. I think that that's an important change and one that we have to remember will take - I think I talked to you about this last week, it's about taking the legislation as it evolves, from where it was 10 years ago when it was passed by the Liberal Government, some of the changes that were made, some of the hurtles that have been put in its way both by Liberals and Tories. Now we're in a position where we need to talk about the next stage, the next phase in freedom of information in this province.

Democracy is never stagnant. It changes. It evolves. Government has become much bigger, Mr. Speaker, so the ability of the average citizen - it used to be that a citizen could call up their MLA, or could call up their Member of Parliament, or could drop by in a government office and it would be pretty easy for that person to have pretty good information about various government departments, or have a telephone number at which they could call. Now government has grown to the point where it's quite complicated. It's quite difficult to get all the information you need, both background information and the answers that you require. As democracy, as government has changed, so now must we talk about how the public, how the citizens of Nova Scotia, can have access to that information in which democracy thrives.

Mr. Speaker, our Party has introduced Bill No. 157, specifically to talk about how we can improve on the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act so the people of Nova Scotia can continue to have legitimate access to information in this province. I want to start with the one point that we do agree with the Liberals on which is, this bill would roll back fees that have to be paid in order to apply under the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. The Tory Government raised those fees to an extraordinary extent and there's a need for us to know that those fees need to be rolled back. It has had a chilling affect on the ability of Nova Scotians and the desire of Nova Scotians to make application.

Now, the government would say we did that because there were too many frivolous ones. I would say, and I will stand in my place here today, Mr. Speaker, to say there's no proof that there were any frivolous applications under the Freedom of Information and Protection of PrivacyAct. In fact, I would suggest that the vast majority, if not all of those applications, were legitimate because under a democracy, who are we to say that when someone asks for information that that is frivolous, that is illegitimate? Any question is a legitimate question, any request is a legitimate request because in a democracy they have the right know as citizens. It's their tax dollars, it's their government. They have the right to

[Page 11882]

know what that information is. That isn't frivolous, that isn't illegitimate, and for the government to suggest that I think was wrong, it was reprehensible. To make those changes in the Spring was reprehensible and that's why we want these fees rolled back so that Nova Scotians have an opportunity to continue to apply where they feel it's necessary.

Mr. Speaker, also we would like to see a much more independent review officer. As it stands now under the current Act, the review officer is the officer in charge of basically, for lack of a better term, mediating disputes between the government and an applicant. Well, if someone is applying for information and the government says we think there's an exemption under the Act, we don't have to give out this information, quite frankly, there's nothing the review officer can do other than recommend that they do it, cajole them, coerce them, but there is no way for them to actually force them to release the information if the review officer wants to. We would like to see the review officer as a final arbiter, someone who can come in, take a look at both sides of the case, make a decision, issue an order. If the government doesn't like that decision, Mr. Speaker, let them appeal it, let them go to court, let them have to fight it out there, but until that happens, it is absolutely necessary that that applicant have the right to apply and, if they're not happy with the decision, to appeal to a review officer who has the ultimate power to issue orders.

Also, how we select that review officer - if we're going to give them this sort of quasi-judicial position, it's vital that review officer also be given the opportunity to be selected in a non-partisan manner, and I'm not talking about the Human Resources Commission, I'm talking about selected through this Legislature; not through Cabinet, but by an all-Party committee of the Legislature so that all Parties can feel comfortable with the person. Because that person, quite frankly, playing a judicial or quasi-judicial role has to have the confidence of everyone and cannot be seen, or perceived to be, allied with one Party or other.

We would also like to see public bodies have to be compelled to issue information where they may not feel it's appropriate. They may think there's an exemption, but why not have an independent party make that decision? In a democracy, much like we have judges who make independent decisions, we need a review officer who can also make those independent decisions. That is why we need the review officer with the teeth, with the power to do that.

It's often forgotten that this Act is not just freedom of information, it's freedom of information and protection of privacy. There's a second part of the Act, and just as important in a democracy is that public information is accessible by the public, but private information is not. There has to be confidentiality of that information and we would like to see - and that's why our bill talks about this - a review officer who would have the power to investigate privacy issues.

[Page 11883]

If someone feels the government has released information they shouldn't have, if someone feels they weren't given an appropriate opportunity to respond when there's a request for release of their information, let the review officer have the power to review that. Let the review officer issue orders if they feel someone has maliciously or even willfully or intentionally released that information. Those are changes that are necessary for us to have a better Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

We need a review officer to initiate investigations. Right now, the review officer's hands are tied unless someone asks them to look into it, and even then they don't have the power to issue orders.

We would like to see that review officer have the power to be able, where they think there's a problem, to go out and investigate. You see that now sometimes in the federal system where their Privacy Commissioner actually issues reports on an annual basis, talking about specific issues - not unlike the Auditor General does for financial issues. Why not have a review officer in Nova Scotia do it with regard to privacy and information issues so that Nova Scotians have an opportunity to hear, on an annual basis, a report card of how their government is doing? Maybe they're doing better, maybe they're being more accessible with information, maybe there are very classic or specific examples of how the government has intentionally or unintentionally tried to thwart the intent of the Act. Let us have a review officer who can make those annual reports to let people know that very fact. That is what's important for Nova Scotians; that is what is important for democracy, Mr. Speaker.

Beyond being able to report or issue orders or investigate privacy issues - and maybe this is what I was already talking about - it's important that the review officer have the ability to make reports, to do research where necessary; empower the review officer to do the job that needs to be done as a watchdog for democracy. We have an Auditor General who does this, we have an Ombudsman who does this to some extent, and we have a Human Rights Commission - let's give that review officer that same power to issue orders, to do research, to look into privacy issues, and to make reports. Let them have the mandate to go out and initiate things on their own and not have their hands tied by a government who may try and avoid these issues from being raised.

The sooner we do that, the sooner Nova Scotians will feel comfortable that democracy truly is evolving in Nova Scotia, not only because people want it but because the government is evolving to allow access to the information that's necessary.

We would also like to see new offences under the Act reflecting the changes that we talked about. We'd also like to see increased fines - I think they're now $2,000 or $3,000 and we would like to see them raised to $5,000. That's not an extraordinary amount of money considering some of the fines that are under provincial legislation, but we think that would at least send a message to bureaucrats, to civil servants, to government officials, that they cannot play politics, they cannot try and avoid their responsibilities under the Freedom of

[Page 11884]

Information Act. That is why we need those fines in order that they understand the importance of the Act as well.

Mr. Speaker, my time is running short, but I want to say that this legislation is good legislation. It's part of the evolution of democracy. It's part of the need to ensure that Nova Scotians have access to public information and protection of their private information and I think that these changes bode well to have the enforcement, to have the strength to ensure that democracy, as it evolves, ensures that we have access to the information to ensure democracy remains strong in Nova Scotia. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it is my great pleasure to rise with respect to this bill that is before the House at the present time. I am, obviously, very pleased to speak to the House and to provide some information to the members of the House about the current Act and its use.

Mr. Speaker, we have one of the most accessible Acts in this country. This fact was acknowledged by virtue of a court decision in Nova Scotia. We are committed to accountability and openness as a government. That's why we implemented the report of the advisory committee which was chaired by Dean Jobb and which was ignored by the previous administration in this province. It was this government that extended the scope of the Act to include school boards, universities and hospitals.

Mr. Speaker, those organizations were not subject to the scope of the Act under the former administration. I will put that down to an oversight on their part, that they must have forgotten to include them when they looked at the Act because we all recognize that school boards and hospital boards are vital parts of our government infrastructure, just as much as vital as would be the Department of Justice or the Office of Economic Development. So we extended those agencies and, as well, universities which, of course, in this province receive a significant amount of public funding.

It was this government that appointed the review officer on a full-time basis. As most members are aware, the review officer is appointed for a minimum of five years and a maximum of a seven-year term with the possibility of renewal. At the time, Mr. Speaker, again remember that there was great suggestion being made by some members opposite that this was part of an evil conspiracy not to reappoint Mr. Fardy, but in point of fact, of course, the first thing we did when the Act was proclaimed was reappoint Mr. Fardy.

So, Mr. Speaker, again, there was a misinterpreting of our intentions with respect to the Act. The review officer now has a separate budget and provides an annual report to the House and he can only be removed by a vote of the majority of members of the House. I think that it's fair to say that that gives an incredible amount of independence to the review

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officer in doing his job, protection from interfering in the proper conduct of his responsibilities.

This government also - not the former government, Mr. Speaker, this government - gave the review officer the ability to obtain a court order to obtain records if necessary and this government took the steps needed to ensure that public-private partner agreements were disclosed. I think it's worth talking for a few moments about public-private partnering arrangements because the former administration, as they are now the Third Party, has again been toying with the prospect of bringing back public-private partnering again as an opportunity to hide from Nova Scotians the real nature and extent of the government's financial indebtedness.

Mr. Speaker, it makes no difference to the taxpayers of Nova Scotia whether or not the government borrows the money and is obligated to repay that loan to the bank or whether the government goes out and enters a contract which obliges you to pay lease payments for the same length of time at a higher interest rate to a public-private partner. Because in point of fact we all know that in Nova Scotia public-private partnerships were a boondoggle, some suspect as an attempt to funnel money in a way that is not accountable to certain individuals. But in any event, that is no longer possible without at least having the details of those contracts fully disclosed to public scrutiny.

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker, I wonder if public-private partnerships is such a boondoggle, can the minister explain why his government has used the public-private partnership in order to give a lobster dinner to the Premiers of the country?

[5:30 p.m.]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member has no shame. When their question today, when it was proven that the government obtained funding from a non-public source to pay for the hospitality we showed to our guests, when it was manifestly shown that in point of fact that nothing improper happened, they will still not leave well enough, they keep flogging along in the face of the fact that the truth is clearly that this was paid for as a result of donations by generous people who are interested in simply promoting the Province of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I don't want to leave the opportunity, before my time runs out, to share with members of the House and Nova Scotians the government's impressive record on freedom of information. Besides that, the Act, as you know, has been in force since 1994. It's growth has grown over time. In 1994, there were 161 applications across government. By 1996, that had grown to 485. In 1999, there were 594 applications, and in 2000, 820 people applied for information under the Act. By 2001, the number had grown to 1,074.

[Page 11886]

Mr. Speaker, I think we can see that it's popularity is fairly unmatched among government programs. It may have even increased, may have even outmatched the ability of the Department of Health's spending in this province to grow as a result of the generosity of this government towards health care; we have even seen more significant growth in spending with respect to that.

Mr. Speaker, simply put, it takes a lot of time and resources to fulfill these requests. This bill proposes to set the application fee at $5 once again. That is grossly inadequate even by the most modest view of the cost of administering this Act, it is grossly inadequate. To put this in context, the total fees we collected in 2001 were $3,778.95. A huge amount of money. I'm sure all members of the House can appreciate the fact that it costs a great deal more to fill these requests. It is only the tiniest fraction of the cost of administering what is an incredibly time-consuming piece of legislation.

We believe it is reasonable and, indeed, responsible to recover a more reasonable amount of the cost incurred in administering this Act. Some people have suggested that the fees, perhaps, have the effect of stopping some people from applying. Let's look at the numbers, Mr. Speaker. Over 1,000 individuals last year. To the end of September, we had 801 applications. Obviously we can't accurately compare the numbers until we reach the year end, but we can compare the amount of applications we received from April to June in each year. Last year we received 232 applications, this fiscal year, after the fee increase, we received 274. It doesn't appear as if the legislation and the fee increases have actually had any effect on the number of applicants in this province. All that has been accomplished is that we've made a very small step - and it is a very small step - towards the cost recovery that applies with respect to this program.

I would like to remind honourable members that it is still free to obtain personal information, Mr. Speaker. This bill proposes to eliminate the $25 fee for requests for review. I want to remind honourable members that it costs about $200,000 a year to run the office of the review officer. This bill would have us ignore our fiscal responsibility. I understand, particularly with respect to the socialist Party in Nova Scotia, fiscal responsibility is anathema, but nevertheless, there are people in Nova Scotia who actually need to worry about the job of making sure that Nova Scotians have a future and that they are not saddled with ever-growing deficits which saddle our children with debt that they will have to repay.

Mr. Speaker, I take umbrage at the suggestion that we're trying to limit the use of the Act. That is the furthest from the truth. We have taken steps to improve its administration by adding additional resources. Two people were hired to assist the provincial coordinator with training and assisting administrators as they processed the applications. In fact, one person is already on staff. As well, the coordinator has been working on policy regarding the routine release of information. People have become so accustomed to using the Act they forget to simply pick up the phone and ask for it. That's why we're developing a policy of providing it on demand. We want to ensure that as much information as possible is free of

[Page 11887]

charge to Nova Scotians. In closing, I believe our record clearly shows our commitment to accountability, and to openness is second to none. We were first in the country to implement the Act which ensures the release of information and we remain committed to that. My time has run out.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it is a pleasure to rise on Bill No. 157 and, in the spirit of the holiday season, I will try to be as kind in my comments as I possibly can, but I have to tell you the Minister of Justice made that quite difficult by finishing by saying they're the first to introduce the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Interruption) He knows that's not true. In fact, just to show you how he knows it's not true, he was citing examples of applications to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act dating back to 1994 and claiming they first introduced it. So, once again, it's a bit of an underhanded attempt by a minister to try to prop up the . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: It's a point of order. He's misleading the House.

MR. SAMSON: Well, yes, I do agree that one could consider that misleading the House and maybe the minister will have the intestinal fortitude to stand in his place and retract that statement.

Mr. Speaker, I did note in the minister's time that he saved the last few minutes to talk about his government's success. I would point out to you that I don't think that was accidental because there was very little success for this government to talk about when it comes to freedom of information. The minister knows that the stats that he provided about the amount of applications since the fee increase are not correct. He knows very well that Mr. Darce Fardy has released the figures which clearly show that since the increase has taken place the amount of applications under freedom of information and reviews and for appeals have decreased, which is exactly what this government set out to do in the first place. Now, the minister continually states that the increase was a cost recovery increase. Yet at no time has he ever tabled in this House actual figures to show on what this is being based. Now, he huffs and puffs about fiscal responsibility by his government, yet he is not responsible enough to this Chamber to show us exactly the cost of administering the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act and how his recent fee increase is, as he has termed it if I'm not mistaken, just a partial recovery of the total costs.

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians are more intelligent than that. They know very well that the fee increase was not meant to be cost recovery. The fee increase was meant to discourage Nova Scotians, journalists, elected officials, business people, public interest groups and private citizens from being able to access information from this government by continually increasing the fees. The minister continues to say, and last week when there was debate on the bill brought forward by myself as the Justice Critic for our Party, the Minister of

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Transportation and Public Works was saying just pick up the phone and call us and we will give you all the information you want and the fact is we all know that that is just not true.

Mr. Speaker, this government has gone to extreme lengths to hide information and to keep it away from the public, from Opposition Parties, and from public interest groups. That is the reality of what has taken place. I do have a very short period of time to make my comments, but I do want to take this opportunity to commend the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for bringing this bill forward. I know that that same member last week, in fact last Wednesday when we brought forward our bill, Bill No. 141, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage spoke very favourably of our bill and I believe even indicated that he would be willing to support our piece of legislation.

I want to commend him for that and to say, Mr. Speaker, that Bill No. 157 in many ways mirrors the legislation that we were going to bring forward so we're pleased to see that the NDP caucus is following up on our legislation, considering the government wasn't willing to support ours last week, maybe they'll have better luck on it this week, and I guess we'll see what the Minister of Justice has to say on that.

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss in my congratulatory remarks towards the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, if I didn't take the opportunity to remark on how disappointing it was to hear the rant that we had last Wednesday from the member for Halifax Fairview.

When you bring forward a bill that is clearly meant to make government more open and accountable, to see a member of the Opposition stand up and speak against it in such a savage-like manner, I should say, Mr. Speaker, because I believe anyone who will review the remarks made - I know the Minister of Justice couldn't participate in that debate and I would encourage him to get Legislative TV because I don't believe Hansard does it justice - to see what kind of an unintelligible rant that we were subjected to here in this House last Wednesday on this bill.

Our goal here is to look forward in this province, and it is to move forward and to see what we can do to make a better Nova Scotia. To see someone like the member for Halifax Fairview go back and rant about stuff that has happened before his own spin on things.

I mentioned in a resolution earlier this week, that that member certainly is not innocent when it comes to putting his own slanted spin on things, with some of the research that he has done, and that he has put forward in an apparent impartial manner, and that's extremely unfortunate. One would hope that the member for Halifax Fairview might grow up someday hopefully. I'm told from the government side not to count on it, but maybe someday, and that he will, along with us, move forward to represent the interests of Nova Scotians, doing what we can to make government more open and accountable. That is a constant challenge for us and we continue to push on that.

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Mr. Speaker, as I've said before, the numbers are in, the facts are clear, that the minister's increase and freedom of information fees have achieved their intended goal, which was to shut down information to Nova Scotians about how this government operates.

I am very pleased to say that it was a Liberal Government that did bring in freedom of information. Was it perfect? Maybe not, but certainly the fact was that it worked, it did open up government to Nova Scotians. It was one of the first provinces, I believe, to ever bring in such a freedom of information Act, which has been followed by other provinces. That is something we should all be proud of, regardless of political affiliation, that this province has been the leader in that. We are continuing to build on that, yes, it is the Minister of Justice in this government that did increase the Act to apply to universities, hospitals, colleges, school boards and a few other institutions, but the good that they have done, in strengthening the Act in that regard, they have taken away by increasing the fees the way they have without justification.

Mr. Speaker, if you are asking Nova Scotians to accept the user fee, whether it be under vehicle registration, under driver's licences, they expect that if they are going to pay for a service, that fee should reflect the service being provided. There needs to be a correlation between what you are charging and what it is actually going to be costing to deliver that service.

What we have asked from this minister, is clearly to show us what the cost is of administering this program. How is that reflected in the fees that you did bring in, what rationale, what logic, what economics were used in order to determine what rate the fees should be? Those are legitimate questions that Nova Scotians in the year 2002 expect a responsible government to be able to answer. We've continually asked for it here in this House, from the minister inside and outside the House to show us the numbers, to make it clear, to make his case basically as to why such an increase was required. (Interruptions)

Well, I hear the member for Preston saying cost recovery, and again, if that is the case, table the numbers which show that it is a cost recovery and that, in fact, there's no ulterior motive in the increase which took place, which was a significant increase to say the least.

I'm trying to give the minister the benefit of the doubt, and not to cast aspersions as to what his intentions were and I'm hoping he will in due time provide us with the explanation and the rationale as to why such an increase took place. When the increase did, in fact, get introduced by the minister, I recall standing in my place in the House; our research staff had done a tremendous job in providing us with some of the stats. We had a report from the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, which clearly said that when a government increases fees to access to information, the end result is a decrease in the applications and a decrease in the accessibility of government to the people it represents.

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[5:45 p.m.]

This government knew that. They cannot say we made a mistake, we increased the fees and we didn't really know it was going to have the effect that it had. We clearly stated at the time the facts were in, other jurisdictions were proof of what happens when you increase the fees for freedom of information. We had the report and the minister saw it, yet he continued to move forward with that, which leads us to the unfortunate conclusion that it does appear that the minister was intending to reduce the amount of applications and the amount of information that was coming from this government. I think our caucus, on numerous occasions through the freedom of information system, has been able to obtain significantly embarrassing information from the government and I have no doubt that this fee increase certainly was a reflection of the success we had in that regard.

Again, I do commend the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage for bringing this forward. As he indicated he would support my bill last week, I'd certainly indicate that we would be prepared to support his legislation this week and I certainly hope in closing my comments that my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview, upon reflection, will today look forward and speak forward in moving on this legislation rather than his continual, habitual pattern of looking back in the past. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise to address Bill No. 157, which is an Act to amend the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act.

Just before I go on, I did want to correct one thing that the member for Richmond said. When I stood up last week, I wasn't attacking the Liberal bill, I was attacking the Liberal Party - there's a big difference. I was actually supporting the bill, because I think anybody who compares the two bills can see that we adopt and incorporate the Liberal amendment into our bill, so clearly we support it.

I guess what was bothering me about the member's speech last week, and the whole Liberal approach to freedom of information, is the language they use implies that they know how to do this stuff right. What I'm looking for is some kind of acknowledgement from the Liberals that this is difficult stuff, it's very difficult to take this kind of legislation to heart. (Interruptions) All right, Mr. Speaker, they got to me, I'm sorry. What I'm looking for is some acknowledgement from the Liberal Party that they're human, and that when they were in government they weren't very good at applying this stuff.

It's true that the Liberal Government, the Savage Government, brought in our revised freedom of information legislation, because of course the first government to bring it in were the Conservatives; in fact the John Buchanan Government brought it in, but of course it was useless - there were so many holes in it you could drive a truck through it. The Liberals

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brought in a really good, modern, progressive Act and then they worked very assiduously to undermine it during the rest of the time that they were in government.

What they did, for example, was they provided almost nothing in the way of funds for it to be administered. It was what some people, especially in the United States, call an "unfunded mandate", where you give powers and responsibilities to agencies of government but you don't actually give them any money to do it. So at the time the Liberals brought this Act in, I was inside government, and I was the Freedom of Information Coordinator for the agency for which I worked at the time - namely the Workers' Compensation Board. What happened was it simply got added on top of what was already more than a full-time job. There were no resources, no additional help, no anything - it was just you do this too, on top of all your regular work.

I know from talking to the FOI coordinators in other government departments that they were facing exactly the same problem. Fundamentally, if you want FOI to work, it's about attitude. You can write all the laws you want, you can write all the rules, but if you approach it with the wrong attitude it's not going to work. You have to believe that releasing information to the public is going to lead to better government. You have to believe that it keeps bureaucrats and ministers on their toes knowing that the public is going to see the rationale for their decisions sooner or later. You have to believe that that's a good thing. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, for the second time in recent weeks we have an apology from the Liberal Party, and that's a good thing. They've said they're sorry. I think their Leader has made a very good start by admitting their mistakes, because there are many; there are many more that they could admit.

Getting back to attitude, what I saw from the Liberals when they were in power and what I see from the Conservatives now is yes, they've changed the rules, they've changed the words in the Act but what there hasn't been is any fundamental change in the attitude. This government is still very much about controlling information. It's about controlling communications.

Speaking of freedom of information, the Liberals did one good piece of work recently, they released what somebody has referred to as the Bailey-Rumsfeld plan, a very interesting document. I don't know how it got into their hands. It wasn't through freedom of information. That's a question for another day. One of the very interesting things about the government's attitude is the reference to stakeholder groups. Does it say in the Rumsfeld plan that stakeholder groups should be consulted? Does it say they should be listened to? No, the plan actually says that they need to be controlled - I think that's the word, controlled.

[Page 11892]

That's the government's attitude towards information. It's not about listening, it's not about accountability, it's about control. Mr. Speaker, if I thought that I detected, over on the Tory side or the Liberal side, a fundamental change in attitude, we wouldn't need this bill. But since we're not seeing that kind of change in attitude, we do.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that is dealt with at length in our bill is the role and the powers of the review officer. I would like to, in the time available to me, pay tribute to the existing review officer, Mr. Darce Fardy, who, in my experience, has done a first-rate job of holding the government accountable. He has done a first-rate job of interpreting the Act and giving his opinion on the dozens, it's probably now in the hundreds of reviews that he has done. Where he thinks the government has stepped out of line, he is not afraid to say so; and where he thinks the government has done the right thing, he says that too. He has been an excellent review officer but he lacks the necessary powers to enforce the Act. All he is allowed to do is make a recommendation, which the government is free to ignore, and it does from time to time.

So, a good part of this bill deals with the powers of the review officer, which will be, in addition to the fundamental attitude change, a very great improvement in the administration of the Act in Nova Scotia. That brings me to a discussion of a recent court case, the O'Connor decision, where the NDP caucus went all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada in order to underline the right of the public to have information about decisions that affected the public. But we weren't the ones who took it to the Supreme Court of Canada, because the government lost at every single stage and they kept appealing and appealing until they went right to the Supreme Court of Canada and they lost there again.

Mr. Speaker, no one can tell me that that is a good use of taxpayers' money, the amount of money that must have been spent in lawyers' time on that case. In the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal, Nova Scotia's highest court, they said, we do have an excellent Act - which has found its way into the government's briefing notes. The problem is that what doesn't appear to have found its way into the government briefing notes on the O'Connor case is that the government was breaking the Act. They weren't following the law, and that's what the courts at every stage were trying to tell the government. They were saying you have an excellent Act, now if only you would follow it. That's the difference.

Because the government doesn't appear to have learned the lesson, the NDP caucus, with the best legal advice, the best free legal advice available to them is going to court again on two more cases. One of the cases involves the government's assertion of the fact that the recent increase in fees is justified by the cost of service. The interesting thing about that, Mr. Speaker, is the government has asserted that, but has never been able to prove it. So the NDP caucus is going to court again - and we will go all the way if we have to - to get the real reasons behind those fee increases. That case is currently scheduled to be heard in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court in early February. (Interruptions) Early February 2003.

[Page 11893]

There's a second case that will be heard in April, just in time for the next election, where a great deal of money was given to one of the government's political friends - I say political friends because it has donated a great deal of money to the government - namely Sobeys. In an environment where the government is nickel-and-diming its citizens to death, a great deal of money was given to Sobeys and we wanted to find out what was behind this. The government refused; in fact they rejected the recommendation of their own review officer and so we're having to go to court over that. We're really hoping that we will be able to tell the full story about how it is that some people can get the taps turned on so easily, while others are getting nickle-and-dimed to death.

Mr. Speaker, we're doing our part; we are holding the government accountable; we are bringing forward legislation to improve the Act. But I will say again that the one thing we need in Nova Scotia more than anything is a change in attitude, something which I haven't detected from that crowd sitting on the government benches now or this crowd who were in the government benches before that. That's what we need. When we have that, we'll really have freedom of information. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time for Opposition Members' Business has expired. (Interruptions) The government can have the rest of the time, according to the honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

The honourable Government House Leader for tomorrow's hours and business.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, tomorrow the House will sit from 12:00 noon until 6:00 p.m. The order of business will be Public Bills for Second Reading, Public Bills for Third Reading, and Committee of the Whole House on Bills. I move that the House do now rise.

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

Is it agreed? (Interruptions) Order, please. 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.?

The motion is the House adjourn until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 11894]

We are adjourned until noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:00 p.m.]

[Page 11895]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 4858

By: Hon. Jane Purves (Education)

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

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Awards were recently presented to 21 young Nova Scotians; and

Whereas the Duke of Edinburgh Award is presented to Canadians aged 14-25 who have achieved high standards in community service and self-improvement; and

Whereas Elizabeth Dodds was honoured with a silver Duke of Edinburgh Award for her work as head girl at Halifax Grammar School and for art collages, soccer, basketball and canoeing;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Elizabeth Dodds on receiving the Duke of Edinburgh Award and wish her well in all her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 4859

By: Mr. Donald Downe (Lunenburg West)

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

Whereas Mike Ward, Aubrey MacCarthy and Douglas Bollivar of the Hebb's Cross Fire Department will soon be receiving long-time service awards; and

Whereas Aubrey MacCarthy has served the community of Hebb's Cross since 1971, Douglas Bollivar has been dedicated to the fire department since 1973 and Mike Ward has been a firefighter since 1974; and

Whereas the Hebb's Cross Fire Department was established in 1966 and currently consists of 17 firefighters, two of whom are women;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Aubrey MacCarthy, Mike Ward and Douglas Bollivar on their upcoming long-time service award for their hard work and dedication to Hebb's Cross.

[Page 11896]

RESOLUTION NO. 4860

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas St. Croix, Hants County, resident Phil Howlett loves the game of golf, so much so that he played five rounds or 90 holes in one day this summer; and

Whereas the 90 holes were played on five different golf courses throughout the Annapolis Valley and along the South Shore in aid of an exceptionally worthwhile charity, the Arthritis Society of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Howlett has been a member of the society's Joints in Motion fundraising team for the past three years, raising more than $10,000 while also contributing nearly another $5,000 for his 90 holes of golf in his one-day fundraiser;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature acknowledge the tremendous effort put forth by Phil Howlett and wish him continued success with his vital fundraising efforts for the Arthritis Society of Nova Scotia.

RESOLUTION NO. 4861

By: Hon. Timothy Olive (Natural Resources)

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

Whereas pets are usually the most loved and important member in any family because they can be a delight for children but also provide many singles and seniors in our communities with some reassuring companionship; and

Whereas some hundreds of cats and dogs go missing in the metro area each year and a great many die of exposure, illness, abuse, accident and neglect; and

Whereas cat-lover Claire Fougere from Dartmouth, who often rescues cats in danger and/or in need of a good home, recently spotted a seriously injured cat and, through her efforts, was able to re-unite Colten the cat with his family who had been missing him for more than three weeks;

[Page 11897]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House express their gratitude to Claire Fougere and her husband, John, for their selfless acts of kindness towards the welfare of animals.

RESOLUTION NO. 4862

By: Mr. Darrell Dexter (Leader of the Official Opposition)

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

Whereas George Bissett Elementary School students and sisters Jennifer and Jacqueline Francis of Cole Harbour are excellent students active in skipping, skating and cheerleading; and

Whereas Jennifer and Jacqueline also excel in baton twirling for the HRM Starlite Strutters, so much so they have been chosen as members of the Canadian National Baton Twirling Association team; and

Whereas the sisters will proudly represent Canada and Cole Harbour at the World Baton Twirling Championships in Marseille, France, on April 15-26, 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Cole Harbour sisters Jennifer and Jacqueline Francis on their selection to the Canadian National Baton Twirling Association team and wish them great success at next year's world championships in France.

RESOLUTION NO. 4863

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Economic Development)

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

Whereas WHW Architects of Halifax was recently awarded the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Architecture Citation for their design of the Riverside Elementary School in Albert Bridge; and

Whereas the firm's design, which incorporates touches such as a Celtic knot in the flooring, was one of 40 to 50 projects submitted for the citation; and

Whereas school Principal Campbell MacDonald calls the school's design "a perfect fit for the children of the area";

[Page 11898]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate WHW Architects for being honoured with the Lieutenant Governor's Award for Architecture Citation and wish the staff and students of Riverside Elementary School many productive, educational years in their new facility.

RESOLUTION NO. 4864

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Oxford Legion Branch 36 held their Remembrance Day Banquet and gave out a number of awards at that annual banquet; and

Whereas the following members received pins: Ron Porter, 15 years; Alfred King, 25 years; Vernon Mitchell, 45 years; Ernie Armour, 35 years; and

Whereas Marjorie Fenton and David Rushton received their 5-year pin; Elenor Reid, Dora Craig, Tom Edgell, John Gogan, Linda Gogan, Wayne LeBlanc, Mike MacLeod, Carl Margeson, Ann Margeson, James Miller, Joan Mills, Brian Skidmore, Jack Taylor, Lennie Chapman, and Nancy Chapman all received their 10-year pins; Rollie Payne, David Reid and Murdock Rushton received their 15-year pins; Carol Black, Joe Chapman and Don LeBlanc were recipients of 20-year pins; Henry Austin and Jimmy Simpson received 30-year pins; and Ralston Rushton was the recipient of a 45-year pin;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the members of the Oxford Legion Branch 36 for their membership awards and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4865

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 Grade 6 students of the Junction Road Elementary School did participate by writing their version of a letter to send home from the war to a friend or family member for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

[Page 11899]

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their letters at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Josh Findley and second place winner was Sonia Jewkes and third place went to Felicia O'Brien from the Junction Road Elementary School Grade 6 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 6 students from the Junction Road Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4866

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 Springhill High School Golden Eagles placed second at the East Pictou High Tip-Off basketball tournament held in November 2002; and

Whereas the Springhill Lady Golden Eagles finished with a 2 to 1 slate in the four-team round-robin event which also included Liverpool High School and Kings-Edgehill of Windsor; and

Whereas on the Springhill team, Julie Best poured in a game high 23 points to spark Springhill, also scoring 14 points for Springhill was Lynddsie Strathearn, Laurie Williams 11, Sam Welsh 10, Kate McMillian contributed three points with Erica Steeves and Stacey Carter both shooting two for the winning team;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Springhill Lady Golden Eagles for participating and finishing second at the East Pictou tournament and we wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4867

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11900]

Whereas the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary decided against a Christmas party for the children this year and instead will use their money to help children in Third World countries to enjoy a Christmas; and

Whereas they decided to participate in Operation Christmas Child and donated small toys, school supplies, hygiene items and hard candies; and

Whereas the ladies and their children gathered at the fire hall to pack those items into small boxes for distribution overseas;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Oxford Volunteer Fire Department Ladies Auxiliary for making a generous contribution to such a worthy cause and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4868

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 Grade 6 students of the West End Memorial Elementary School did participate by writing their version of a letter to send home from the war to a friend or family member for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their letters at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Bill Calder and second place winner was Amanda Casey from the West End Memorial Elementary School Grade 6 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 6 students from the West End Memorial Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4869

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11901]

Whereas the Grade 5 students of the Junction Road Elementary School did participate by writing essays for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their essays at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Emily Moore and second place winner was Brittany Barton from the Junction Road Elementary School Grade 5 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 5 students from the Junction Road Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4870

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 Grade 5 students of the West End Elementary School did participate by writing essays for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their essays at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Avery LeBlanc and second place winner was Richard Snair from the West End Elementary School Grade 5 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 5 students from the West End Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4871

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11902]

Whereas the Grade 4 students of the West End Elementary School did participate by writing poems for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their poems at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Jillian Casey and second place winner was Stephanie Maddison from the West End Elementary School Grade 4 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 4 students from the West End Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4872

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 Grade 4 students of the Junction Road Elementary School did participate by writing poems for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their poems at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Lucas Brown and second place winner was Brittany Hunter from the Junction Road Elementary School Grade 4 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 4 students from the Junction Road Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4873

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11903]

Whereas the Grade 3 students of the Junction Road Elementary School did participate by making Remembrance Day crests for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their crests at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Justin Chapman and second place winner was Jenna Rushton from the Junction Road Elementary School Grade 3 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 3 students from the Junction Road Elementary School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4874

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 Grade 3 students of the West End Memorial School did participate by making Remembrance Day crests for the November 11, 2002, Remembrance Day Program in Springhill, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the first and second place winners in this category presented their crests at the Royal Canadian Legion Branch 17 Remembrance Day service in Springhill on November 11, 2002; and

Whereas the first place winner was Shelby Melanson and second place winner was Sydney Peck from the West End Memorial School Grade 3 class;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate all of the Grade 3 students from the West End Memorial School who participated in this event and thank them for their contribution to making this a more memorable Remembrance Day.

RESOLUTION NO. 4875

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11904]

Whereas Sunshine Inn owner Stephanie Roeslen and Manager David McKay are celebrating 20 years of outstanding service in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Sunshine Inn has won two federal tourism ambassador awards and certificates from many groups and organizations throughout their 20 years of business; and

Whereas the name of the company has changed over the years but the one thing that hasn't changed is their commitment to friendly personal service to their customers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Sunshine Inn on 20 years of outstanding service and we wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4876

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 distinguished Lions from the Oxford Area Lions Club held its annual Charter Night on October 26, 2002, and held a banquet to present service pins to the following members; and

Whereas service pins were given out to Peter Swan for six years of service, Don LeBlanc for four years of service, Wayne Crossan for five years of service, Dale MacDonald for one year, John Buchanan for one year, Paul Jones for one year, Don Wood for four years, Tom Black for five years and Chris Deveau for six years of service; and

Whereas these men have shown dedication and service to the Oxford Area Lions Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these members of the Oxford Area Lions Club and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4877

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 11905]

Whereas the distinguished Lions from the Oxford Area Lions Club held its annual Charter Night on October 26, 2002, and held a banquet to present service pins to the following members; and

Whereas service pins were presented to the following members for their years of service: Morgan Hunter 10 years; Norm Dickie 36 years; Gerry Burkhardt 40 years; Don Wood 25 years; John Swan 17 years; Stu Asbell 20 years; Skip Walsh 43 years; Dave Swan 43 years; Grant MacDonald 25 years; Freeman Tattrie six years; Don Christie 10 years; George Ferdinand 10 years; Bruce Selkirk 10 years; Byron MacDonnell 19 years; Don MacDonald 24 years; Mike Deveaux 26 years; and George Mosher for 27 years of service; and

Whereas these men have shown dedication and service to the Oxford Area Lions Club;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate these members of the Oxford Area Lions Club and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 4878

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on Sunday, November 17, 2002, friends and family will gather at the Southampton United Church to help celebrate the 70th Anniversary of Richard and Margaret Pettigrew of West Brook, Cumberland County; and

Whereas the community recognizes the commitment to each other that the Pettigrews have practised over their 70 years together; and

Whereas the Pettigrews are a real example of true love and family values to all of us;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the significant commitment and contribution to each other and this province by the Pettigrews and wish them many more years of health and happiness together.