Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 01/02-89

HOUSE OF ASSEMBLY

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

Available on INTERNET at http://www.gov.ns.ca/legislature/hansard/

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Second Session

MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2002

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3283, Anemia Instit. For Research & Educ.: Work - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 8593
Vote - Affirmative 8594
Res. 3284, Environ. & Lbr.: Waste Reduction - Encourage,
Hon. D. Morse 8594
Vote - Affirmative 8585
Res. 3285, Johnston, Cara - Safety Awareness: Contribution - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 8595
Vote - Affirmative 8596
Res. 3286, Econ. (N.S.): Achievement - Recognize, Hon. G. Balser 8596
Res. 3287, MTT: Birthday (92nd) - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 8596
Vote - Affirmative 8597
Res. 3288, CN/SMU - OH&S: Leadership - Recognize, Hon. D. Morse 8597
Vote - Affirmative 8598
Res. 3289, Educ.: Teachers/Sch. Administrators - Thank,
(by Hon. M. Baker), Hon. J. Purves 8598
Vote - Affirmative 8599
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 117, Geoscience Profession Act, Mr. J. DeWolfe 8599
No. 118, Municipality of Inverness Supplementary Pension
Contribution Act, Hon. Rodney MacDonald 8599
No. 119, Canadian Information Processing Society of Nova Scotia Act,
Mr. T. Olive 8599
No. 120, Anglican Church Act, Ms. M. McGrath 8599
No. 121, An Act to Incorporate The Mic-Mac Amateur Aquatic Club,
Mr. T. Olive 8599
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 3290, Vingoe, Mary - Arts: Contributions - Thank, Mr. D. Dexter 8599
Vote - Affirmative 8600
Res. 3291, C.B. Bd. of Trade - Excellence in Bus. Awards: Recipients -
Congrats., Mr. Manning MacDonald 8600
Vote - Affirmative 8601
Res. 3292, Fish. - Lobster Fishermen: Regards - Extend, Mr. W. Dooks 8601
Vote - Affirmative 8601
Res. 3293, O'Prey, Erin: N.S. Youth Vol. of the Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 8602
Vote - Affirmative 8602
Res. 3294, Neatby, Holly/Harrison, Cathy/Almon, Jennifer/Hanko, Sean:
Chief Scouts - Congrats., Dr. J. Smith 8602
Vote - Affirmative 8603
Res. 3295, Spacek, Connie: Athletic/Academic Achievement - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 8603
Vote - Affirmative 8604
Res. 3296, Health - Dental Care (Children's): Access -
Gov't. (N.S.) Review, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8604
Res. 3297, Grant, Harve - Team Diabetes Can.: Participation - Commend,
Mr. K. MacAskill 8605
Vote - Affirmative 8605
Res. 3298, Strait Area Cred. Union - Commun.: Investment - Congrats.,
(by Hon. A. MacIsaac), Mr. Ronald Chisholm 8605
Vote - Affirmative 8606
Res. 3299, Educ. - Educ. Wk. (04/22-27/02): Teachers - Congrats.,
(by Mr. F. Corbett), Mr. K. Deveaux 8606
Vote - Affirmative 8607
Res. 3300, Lun. Meals on Wheels - Recognize, Mr. D. Downe 8607
Vote - Affirmative 8607
Res. 3301, The Flower Cart - Staff/Clients: Contribution - Congrats.,
Hon. D. Morse 8608
Vote - Affirmative 8608
Res. 3302, Feed My Lambs Child Advocacy Group: Rally - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Pye 8608
Res. 3303, C.B. Post: Atl. Reg. Philanthropy Award (2002) - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Wilson 8609
Vote - Affirmative 8610
Res. 3304, Dartmouth HS Model Parliament: Participants - Congrats.,
Mr. T. Olive 8610
Vote - Affirmative 8610
Res. 3305, Earth Day (04/22/02) - Celebrate, Mr. H. Epstein 8611
Vote - Affirmative 8611
Res. 3306, N.S. Minor Baseball Assoc.: Anniv. (50th) - Congrats.,
Mr. B. Boudreau 8611
Vote - Affirmative 8612
Res. 3307, Mooers, Frances: Bravery - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 8612
Vote - Affirmative 8613
Res. 3308, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Timberlea-Prospect: Subdivisions -^
Road Improvement Plans, Mr. W. Estabrooks 8613
Res. 3309, Educ. Wk. - Acknowledge, Mr. M. Samson 8613
Res. 3310, Spryfield: Model Vol. Commun. of the Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 8614
Vote - Affirmative 8615
Res. 3311, Bates, Jim/Bateston Vol. FD/Ladies Aux. - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8615
Vote - Affirmative 8615
Res. 3312, Cavalier Dr. Sch.: Heritage Fair (3rd Annual) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 8615
Vote - Affirmative 8616
Res. 3313, Yar. Town & Co. Sports Heritage Assoc. Hall of Fame:
Inductees - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 8616
Vote - Affirmative 8617
Res. 3314, MacNeil, Sr. Cecilia/Casey, Drs. Tom & Margaret:
Seton Award - Congrats., Ms. Maureen MacDonald 8617
Vote - Affirmative 8618
Res. 3315, Stockman, Krista - N.S. Special Olympics: Victory -
Congrats., Mr. D. Downe 8618
Vote - Affirmative 8618
Res. 3316, East. Pass. Educ. Ctr. - Call to Remembrance (2002) Comp.:
Victory - Congrats., (by Mr. F. Corbett), Mr. K. Deveaux 8619
Vote - Affirmative 8619
Res. 3317, Earth Day (04/22/02): Importance - Recognize,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8619
Vote - Affirmative 8620
Res. 3318, Dart. Boys & Girls Clubs - Can Tech Prog.: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 8620
Vote - Affirmative 8621
Res. 3319, Bowen, CPO 1st Class Tenille: Nat'l. Sea Cadet of the Yr. -
Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 8621
Vote - Affirmative 8622
Res. 3320, Eskasoni - Wind Power: Usage - Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 8622
Vote - Affirmative 8622
Res. 3321, Ins. Rates - Gov't. (N.S.): Plans - Reveal, Mr. B. Boudreau 8623
Res. 3322, Bay Rd. Baptist Church: Dedication - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8623
Vote - Affirmative 8624
Res. 3323, MacDonald, Hilda & Hector: Anniv. (60th) - Congrats.,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 8624
Vote - Affirmative 8624
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Electoral Boundaries Commission - Update, The Speaker 8625
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Centre Lower Branch Rd. - Repair,
Mr. D. Downe 8625
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 8626
Mr. B. Boudreau 8631
Dr. J. Smith 8632
Mr. R. MacKinnon 8634
Mr. W. Dooks 8635
Mr. B. Taylor 8637
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 3:36 P.M. 8639
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 7:45 P.M. 8639
HOUSE RECESSED AT 7:51 P.M. 8642
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 8:05 P.M. 8642
SPEAKER'S RULING: Point of order to split omnibus legislation.
Speaker has no power to split the bill 8643
PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING:
No. 109, Financial Measures (2002) Act 8644
Hon. N. LeBlanc 8644
Mr. G. Steele 8645
Amendment moved "bill be read six months hence" 8661
Mr. D. Downe 8661
Adjourned debate 8673
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Tue., Apr. 23rd at 12:00 noon 8674
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 3324, Spinney, Erin: Reg. Of Queens Mun. Vol. of the Yr. -
Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 8675
Res. 3325, STENPRO: Expansion - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 8675
Res. 3326, Dunsmore, Sandra - Pearson Peacekeeping Ctr.:
Pres. - Appt. Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 8676
Res. 3327, Epilepsy Assoc. (N.S.) - Commend, Ms. M. McGrath 8676

[Page 8593]

HALIFAX, MONDAY, APRIL 22, 2002

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Second Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3283

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

8593

[Page 8594]

Whereas anemia can be a very serious problem for many people, especially those with chronic diseases like cancer, kidney disease, HIV/AIDS and arthritis, or those undergoing major surgery; and

Whereas anemia often goes under-diagnosed and under-treated and can be caused by nutritional deficiencies and can be a serious risk for infants, pregnant women and seniors; and

Whereas the Anemia Institute for Research and Education is dedicated to improving the lives of people affected by anemia, to educating professionals and consumers on effective and safe treatment, and to sponsoring research into the causes of and cures for anemia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate and acknowledge the hard work of the Anemia Institute for Research and Education for their continued efforts to address anemia and anemia-related concerns.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3284

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

Whereas today is Earth Day all across Canada with the theme of On the Road to Zero Waste; and

Whereas Nova Scotia is an acknowledged world leader in waste reduction; and

Whereas the Department of Environment and Labour, working with Clean Nova Scotia and Tim Hortons, has today helped celebrate the start of two important litter clean-up programs;

[Page 8595]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in encouraging all Nova Scotians to continue, and even increase, their impressive efforts in reducing waste and to help our province maintain its leadership role in this vital area.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 3285

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

Whereas all Nova Scotians believe in the importance of safety education, particularly among our youth; and

Whereas the province is co-sponsoring the return visit of Ms. Cara Johnston, a nationally-acclaimed safety speaker who lost her twin sister in a motor vehicle collision; and

Whereas Ms. Johnston will visit 14 high schools in Nova Scotia this week, meeting with more than 9,000 students to talk about making safety choices;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Ms. Johnston, who transformed a personal tragedy into an invaluable learning tool, for her valuable contribution for safety awareness among our youth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8596]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 3286

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

Whereas Statistics Canada, our country's authority on economic analysis and data collection, today reported that Nova Scotia's economy turned in one of the country's best performances in 2001 with a 2.4 per cent growth rate; and

Whereas this growth in our provincial Gross Domestic Product reached $23.4 billion in 2001; and

Whereas Nova Scotia ranked second in GDP growth last year, behind Alberta, the only two provinces in the country to record growth above 2 per cent for 2001;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize this economic achievement and promote it as a leading indicator of Nova Scotia's consistently strong economy and our growth potential.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 3287

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

[Page 8597]

Whereas it was on this date, April 22, 1910, that the Maritime Telegraph & Telephone Company became incorporated; and

Whereas today, 92 years later, MTT, now part of Aliant Inc., employs more than 2,600 people and is the second largest employer in the Province of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas MTT provides services to more than 5,500 corporate business and residential customers across Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend an exceptionally Happy 92nd Birthday to the employees and shareholders of MTT and wish them another 92 years of success as they continue to provide leading-edge telecommunication services to Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

RESOLUTION NO. 3288

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

Whereas Canadian National has worked diligently to earn an exemplary record in occupational health and safety; and

Whereas CN recently announced a $500,000 endowment fund for St. Mary's University to advance research into occupational health and safety; and

Whereas SMU is a national leader in this area, combining its strengths in human resource management, and industrial and organizational psychology to promote interdisciplinary research in occupational health and safety;

[Page 8598]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the enlightened, tangible leadership shown by these two organizations in advancing occupational health and safety for all people in the workplace.

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. 3289

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

Whereas every year during Education Week we recognize the important work of teachers and administrators who are dedicated to the education of Nova Scotia's young people; and

Whereas the Department of Education joins teachers, school boards and parents in presenting awards to leaders in our education system; and

Whereas this year we celebrate their contribution to the French language, life, and community that are thriving in our Acadian, immersion and French second language classrooms;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House thank the teachers and school administrators for their dedication to the education of young Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8599]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 117 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Geoscience Profession. (Mr. James DeWolfe)

Bill No. 118 - Entitled an Act to Authorize the Municipality of the County of Inverness to Make a Contribution to the Pension Plan of Past Employees now Employed with the Province or with Other Agencies or Commissions. (Hon. Rodney MacDonald as a private member.)

Bill No. 119 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Practice of Information Processing. (Mr. Timothy Olive)

Bill No. 120 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 130 of the Acts of 1967. The Anglican Church Act. (Ms. Mary Ann McGrath)

Bill No. 121 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 135 of the Acts of 1923. An Act to Incorporate the Mic-Mac Amateur Aquatic Club. (Mr. Timothy Olive)

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

[2:15 p.m.]

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 3290

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

Whereas Eastern Front Theatre is a vibrant and essential force in the world of live theatre on both sides of Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas Eastern Front Theatre was founded in 1993 by actor Gay Hauser, playwright Wendy Lill and Artistic Director Mary Vingoe; and

[Page 8600]

Whereas Mary Vingoe is leaving Eastern Front Theatre to pursue other artistic ventures;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank the outgoing Artistic Director at Eastern Front Theatre, Mary Vingoe, for her contribution to the arts and wish her the very best in other artistic ventures.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3291

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

Whereas the Industrial Cape Breton Board of Trade hosted its 13th annual Excellence in Business Awards Dinner on February 21, 2002; and

Whereas the board recognized five area businesses in the manufacturing, services, retail and information technology sectors; and

Whereas Scotia Propane Ltd., Rascalz Kidz Clothing, Advanced Glazings, Dynagen Technology Ltd. and Mediaspark were all among the big winners;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all the recipients of the Excellence in Business Awards and recognize their hard work and dedication.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8601]

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 3292

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

Whereas the lobster fishing season on the East Coast of Nova Scotia between Richmond, Cape Breton County and Three Fathom Harbour, Halifax County opened in two locations early Friday morning; and

Whereas Areas 31B and 32 opened Friday and will stay open until June 20th, Area 31A will open this Friday and run through June 30th, with Area 30 beginning May 19th and closing July 20th; and

Whereas lobster fishing and exports are worth well over $0.25 billion a year to Nova Scotia's economy;

Therefore be it resolved that all MLAs extend our warmest regards to all lobster fishers as they gear up for another great season with hope of safe seas and strong market prices.

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-Cobequid.

[Page 8602]

RESOLUTION NO. 3293

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

Whereas Sackville High School counsellor Trevor Brumwell said of Erin O'Prey, "She cares deeply for others, for all creatures and for the environment. She's dedicated, self-directed, highly organized and well-disciplined. She's a real leader."; and

Whereas Erin O'Prey's countless volunteer activities include tutoring fellow students, working on numerous school committees, canvassing for the Heart and Stroke Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Society, working with the Sackville Rivers Association, the Eastern Shore Wildlife Rehabilitation Centre, the Nova Scotia Youth Wind Ensemble, the Dalhousie Community Band and the Atlantic Jazz Festival, to name but a few; and

Whereas Erin O'Prey made her fellow Sackville High Kingfishers proud when she was named by Recreation Nova Scotia as Nova Scotia Youth Volunteer of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Erin O'Prey of Sackville High School on her well-deserved recognition as Nova Scotia Youth Volunteer of the Year and wish her the very best in all her 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 Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 3294

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

Whereas the Chief Scout honour was established in 1973 by the then Governor General, Roland Michener, the Chief Scout of Canada; and

[Page 8603]

Whereas Chief Scouts must have earned their Pathfinder Award in citizenship; personal development; leadership and outdoor skills; the World Conservation Badge and First Aid, plus a Challenge Badge in seven other categories; and

Whereas Chief Scouts must report on Canada's world scouting involvement, do 30 hours of community leadership service and projects that aid the scout in becoming a valued and active citizen with high ideals;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend congratulations to Holly Neatby, Cathy Harrison, Jennifer Almon and Sean Hanko on the occasion of becoming Chief Scouts of the 1st Woodlawn Troop of Dartmouth.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 3295

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

Whereas Connie Spacek of Truro was named the Female Athlete of the Year at the 38th annual Nova Scotia Agricultural College Sports Award Banquet; and

Whereas this young woman was the basketball MVP and was also named to the all-conference team; and

Whereas Ms. Spacek earned CCAA Academic All Canadian honours as a fourth year Bachelor of Science student;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Connie Spacek for her outstanding athletic and academic achievement and wish her every success in the future.

[Page 8604]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3296

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

Whereas this government has decreed that where a family has a private dental plan it will foist the cost of the children's dental program onto the private insurer; and

Whereas this decision will serve only to drive up premium rates for private dental plans and will cost the provincial government as an employer $400,000 overall in increased premiums; and

Whereas Nova Scotians wonder why this government has chosen to increase its own dental plan costs while at the same time limiting access for children to proper dental care;

Therefore be it resolved that this government review its callous decision to limit access to Nova Scotian children to private dental care.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

[Page 8605]

RESOLUTION NO. 3297

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

Whereas Harve Grant of Ross Ferry, Victoria County, will participate in the 22.6 mile marathon on October 28th in Dublin, Ireland; and

Whereas Mr. Grant, a member of Team Diabetes Canada, will be the first Cape Bretoner to participate in the marathon to raise awareness and funds for diabetes research; and

Whereas Team Diabetes Canada is a fundraising program where participants raise funds for the Canadian Diabetes Association;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Harve Grant and wish him all the best on October 28th as he and many others raise awareness for diabetes research.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 3298

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas thanks to its positive financial year, the Strait Area Credit Union was able to donate more than $40,000 to local organizations and groups; and

[Page 8606]

Whereas two of the organizations which will benefit from the generosity of the credit union are the Strait Richmond Hospital and the Havre Boucher Fire Department; and

Whereas not only is the credit union owned by area residents, but the organizations that were chosen to receive the donations were selected by the area residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Strait Area Credit Union for utilizing its financial success by investing in the community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 3299

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas April 22nd to 27th marks Education Week in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas reading, writing and arithmetic continue to be the cornerstones of a good education; and

Whereas teachers around our province instruct our students in these fundamentals with patience, care and respect;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge and congratulate the teachers of our province during Education Week, April 22nd to 27th, for their dedication to fostering excellence in our students.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8607]

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3300

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

Whereas this year marks 24 years of deliveries made by Meals on Wheels for Lunenburg and area; and

Whereas head co-ordinator, Ms. Tanner has organized the project for the past 10 years; and

Whereas with the help of volunteers, financial aid from churches, organizations and individuals, a total of 1,538 meals were delivered during the past year;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the Lunenburg Meals on Wheels and its many countless volunteers who give so freely of their time to help those in need.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

[Page 8608]

RESOLUTION NO. 3301

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

Whereas New Minas is the proud host community of the Flower Cart; and

Whereas this organization provides an avenue to assist members of our society with special needs to find meaningful employment both on the Flower Cart's premises and also with outside employers; and

Whereas the Flower Cart produces a broad variety of fine products and services, including baked goods, kindling, textiles, woodworking and many more;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize and applaud the contribution of both the staff and clients of the Flower Cart - a wonderful addition to our Valley community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 3302

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

Whereas Feed My Lambs Child Advocacy Group of Berwick organized a rally to bring to the attention of government the extent of child poverty in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the advocacy group heard speaker after speaker admonish both the federal and provincial governments' failure to address child poverty, especially given that a federal resolution in 1989 to eliminate child poverty was approved by all federal Parties; and

[Page 8609]

Whereas a 1999 report indicates that child poverty grew in Nova Scotia from 15.5 per cent to 18.1 per cent since 1989;

Therefore be it resolved that this House thank Feed My Lambs Child Advocacy Group, and all those involved, for a well-organized rally against child poverty and for keeping the plight of child poverty in the forefront as a government responsibility.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 3303

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

Whereas the Cape Breton Post was a finalist for the outstanding corporate philanthropist award for its contribution to the community; and

Whereas the 2002 Atlantic Region Awards for Philanthropy are presented by the Society of Fund-Raising Executives of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the awards recognize outstanding achievement by individual and corporate philanthropists in the Atlantic Region;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Cape Breton Post on winning the 2002 Atlantic Region Award for Philanthropy and wish them continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8610]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth South.

[2:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 3304

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

Whereas last week I was honoured to take the role as Speaker and then as Governor General for the Dartmouth High School 2002 Model Parliament; and

Whereas in addition to learning first-hand the rigours of parliamentary debate, the students and leaders also had a lot of fun; and

Whereas following the proceedings awards were given for excellence in the following categories: Rookie MP Award, Courtney Marsman; Opposition Bill Award, Doug Shipilow; Government Bill Award, Ashley Clarke; Clerk's Award, Gillian Lee, Head Clerk.

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the students who participated in this year's Model Parliament at Dartmouth High School, thank their teacher, Don Houle, who assisted in the learning process, and encourage these leaders of tomorrow to take their talents and this learning experience and apply it in their future career plans while representing their fellow Nova Scotians in some level of government.

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 8611]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3305

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

Whereas April 22nd marks Earth Day, the first day of spring, nature's moment of equipoise, when night and day are of equal length all over the world, a time of promise; and

Whereas Earth Day focuses increased attention on the need for peace, justice and the care of the amazing web of life that covers our globe; and

Whereas while we feel overwhelmed by our grave environmental problems, Earth Day provides hope that we can revamp our civilization and provide a new beginning for the human family;

Therefore be it resolved that this House joins with the many organizations in Nova Scotia and around the world in celebrating Earth Day as a time of hope for all of us in a better future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

RESOLUTION NO. 3306

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

Whereas North Sydney minor baseball will mark a milestone this summer with their 50th Anniversary celebrations; and

[Page 8612]

Whereas Lynn Drake, the first female to be officially registered with the Nova Scotia Little League Association, will lead off the event; and

Whereas the 50th Anniversary celebrations will be held July19th and July 20th in North Sydney;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Lynn Drake for her contribution to the North Sydney Little League and congratulate the North Sydney Minor Baseball Association as they celebrate their 50th Anniversary.

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 Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 3307

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

Whereas sisters Frances and Shai-Lyn Mooers were in the family backyard in Pleasant River when Shai-Lyn discovered an ice-topped well covered only with plywood; and

Whereas the curious little five-year-old climbed into the well, falling through its thin ice into the cold water below but was thankfully pulled out by her older sister, Frances; and

Whereas due to the courage and quick action of her six-year-old sister, Frances, Shai-Lynn suffered only mild hypothermia and the fright of her fall;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Pleasant River's youngest hero, Frances Mooers, for her act of bravery which prevented what might have resulted otherwise in a tragedy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8613]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3308

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

Whereas roads in growing subdivisions throughout the Timberlea-Prospect constituency need immediate attention; and

Whereas these subdivisions are located outside of the core area of the Halifax Regional Municipality; and

Whereas streets in the MacDonald Lake, Haliburton Hills, Highland Park and St. Margaret's Village subdivisions, and in the Club Road area in Brookside, are in desperate shape;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works inform this House of his department's plans to work with the Halifax Regional Municipality to improve roads in subdivisions throughout Timberlea-Prospect.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3309

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

Whereas this week marks Education Week, which has been observed annually in Nova Scotia since the mid-1930s as a way of celebrating the importance of education; and

[Page 8614]

Whereas the government should recognize that an educated workforce is necessary if Nova Scotia is to compete in the new economy; and

Whereas this government continues to treat educational issues, from the elementary level to the post-secondary level - mould and tuition being just two examples - with a constant and shameful indifference;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House acknowledge Education Week, and the dedication of teachers who inspire Nova Scotians to learn more in spite of this government's attitude towards the educational issues.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 3310

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

Whereas April 21st to April 27th marks National Volunteer Week, a time for our communities to acknowledge the incredible contributions volunteers make to make their communities better places in which to live; and

Whereas on Friday, April 19th, the province paid homage to our volunteers at the Provincial Volunteer Awards Day Ceremony and Luncheon at the Westin Hotel; and

Whereas the Model Volunteer Community of the Year Award went to Spryfield, a community blessed with a growing number of volunteer organizations that have developed innovative projects to meet the needs of the community;

Therefore be it resolved that this House tips its hat and congratulates the very deserving volunteer organizations in Spryfield who have garnered this year's Model Volunteer Community of the Year Award at the Provincial Volunteer Awards Day Ceremony.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 8615]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3311

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

Whereas volunteer fire service is vital to the health and safety of Nova Scotia's communities; and

Whereas the Bateston Volunteer Fire Department celebrated its 25th Anniversary of community service on Saturday, April 20, 2002; and

Whereas former Fire Chief Willis Lahey and present Fire Chief Jim Bates have provided strong, effective leadership during this 25-year period;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Fire Chief Jim Bates and members of the Bateston Volunteer Fire Department and members of its ladies auxiliary for a job well done and best wishes for continued success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 3312

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

[Page 8616]

Whereas over 200 students from Grade 4 to Grade 9 will present projects as individuals and groups during Cavalier Drive School's third annual Heritage Fair to be held on April 24th and April 25th; and

Whereas six other schools will join Cavalier Drive students in displaying their heritage projects, making the event the first-ever Regional Heritage Fair for the Halifax Regional School Board; and

Whereas participants will be joined during the Opening Day Ceremonies by Nova Scotia's own Mr. Know-It-All, Bruce Nunn;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its greetings, congratulations and best wishes to organizers and student participants for the Cavalier Drive School's third annual Heritage Fair.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 3313

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

Whereas the Yarmouth Town and County Sports Heritage Association Hall of Fame honours local citizens for their athletic achievement and support of amateur sport; and

Whereas harness racers Dave and Phil Pinkney and curling champion Jim MacRae are among this year's inductees in the hall of fame; and

Whereas they will join honourees including sports enthusiast Gerry Lyons, championship golfer Dr. Lou Morton, and lifelong athlete Fraser Mooney;

[Page 8617]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate inductees Dave and Phil Pinkney and Jim MacRae, as well as their families, as they join the Yarmouth Town and County Sports Heritage Association Hall of Fame on May 4, 2002.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 3314

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

Whereas the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award is awarded annually by the Sisters of Charity to honour the memory of the pioneering spirit, dedication and commitment of Saint Elizabeth Seton; and

Whereas the winners honoured this year at Mount Saint Vincent Motherhouse included Sister Cecilia MacNeil and, for the first time, a husband and wife couple, Dr. Tom Casey and Dr. Margaret Casey; and

Whereas Sister MacNeil is the founder of the Breakfast Club at St. Partrick's-Alexandra School in Halifax, while Dr. Tom Casey has served as a volunteer in Africa and the Caribbean, and Dr. Margaret Casey is renowned for her efforts to help the disadvantaged through her service at the North End Community Health Centre in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Sister Cecilia MacNeil, Dr. Tom Casey and Dr. Margaret Casey for receiving the Elizabeth Ann Seton Award for their compassion and selfless efforts to help those who are less fortunate at home and abroad.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8618]

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 Lunenburg West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3315

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

Whereas Krista Stockman of Wileville captured four medals at the Nova Scotia Special Olympic Championships in Halifax; and

Whereas Ms. Stockman won gold for the 25- and 50-metre front crawl as well as for the 25-and 50-metre back crawl events; and

Whereas Ms.Stockman, the daughter of Jim and Sheila Stockman, is a member of the provincial team and will compete at the national championships in Saskatchewan this July;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House extend their congratulations to Krista Stockman on her victory and wish her the best as she competes in the national championships in July.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

[Page 8619]

RESOLUTION NO. 3316

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas the Royal Canadian Legion sponsored a Call to Remembrance 2002 competition for regional junior high school students to test their knowledge of Canada's involvement in past conflicts; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team consisted of Alex Boniface, Timothy Anderson, Monica Henneberry, Donald Ebsary and Holly Maclean; and

Whereas the Eastern Passage Education Centre team won the gold medal at the regional competition and will now advance to the Nova Scotia championship, where they hope to repeat as provincial champions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Eastern Passage Education Centre team on winning the Royal Canadian Legion's regional Call to Remembrance 2002 competition, wish them all the best at the provincial competition and thank them for helping to keep alive the memory of those who gave the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 3317

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

Whereas today, Monday, April 22, 2002, marks the 32nd annual Earth Day; and

[Page 8620]

Whereas more than six million Canadians will join over 500 million people in over 164 countries holding events to address local environmental issues; and

Whereas Nova Scotians, through their solid commitment to environmental initiatives and to reducing, reusing and recycling, are constantly seeking ways to improve the environment;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House and all Nova Scotians not only recognize the importance of participating in today's Earth Day events but commit themselves to making it an everyday event.

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. 3318

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

Whereas Boys and Girls Clubs play an integral role in the Dartmouth community by offering programs and services to our young people; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Clubs, through Can Tech, a national program led by Microsoft Canada and supported by Future Shop, will receive new computers and computer software that will enable our young people to become part of the information technology world; and

Whereas the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Clubs have always been on the leading edge of providing programs and services to guide our young people toward a bright and prosperous future;

[Page 8621]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Clubs, Microsoft Canada and Future Shop for having the foresight to invest in our young people through the Can Tech program.

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 Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 3319

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

Whereas 17 year old Tennile Bowen has been named the National Sea Cadet of the Year by the Navy League of Canada; and

Whereas Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Bowen, a former Richmond County resident, is the daughter of Stephen and Debbie Bowen; and

[2:45 p.m.]

Whereas as well as being a model cadet, Tenille is President of the Students Council at Westville High School, captain of the senior girls volleyball team, a member of the school advisory committee, and a member of the Westville High School policy review committee;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Tenille Bowen, who was named National Sea Cadet of the Year and wish her continued success in all of her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8622]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 3320

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

Whereas it is critical that we explore any and all opportunities to reduce our reliance on fossil fuels, thereby protecting our environment; and

Whereas the residents of Eskasoni are exploring using wind power in their community in order to reduce global warming and set an example for the rest of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas such initiatives should be encouraged because it may provide the means by which other communities may benefit from clean energy;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Eskasoni for considering the use of clean, environmentally friendly wind power in their community and hope this is the dawn of clean energy use in Nova Scotia communities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

[Page 8623]

RESOLUTION NO. 3321

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

Whereas the Minister of Environment and Labour's only solution to rising insurance rates was to refer the matter to the URB to determine whether the rates are excessive; and

Whereas once the hearings are held and findings released, the URB will be unable to make changes that would best serve the Nova Scotian consumer; and

Whereas one of government's best-kept secrets is whether or not they are actually protecting the Nova Scotia consumer by working on a solution to skyrocketing insurance rates;

Therefore be it resolved that this government reveal to the people of Nova Scotia what additional solutions they have in order to deal with high insurance rates in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 3322

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

Whereas on April 6, 2002, the Bay Road Baptist Church was dedicated in Timberlea as the Miracle at Exit 4 on Highway No. 103; and

Whereas this project was successfully achieved because of the countless hours of dedicated community volunteers; and

Whereas Pastor Alex Rockwell and his wife, Joyce, have provided invaluable leadership in our community;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature congratulate and thank Pastor Rockwell and his wife, Joyce, and the congregation of the Bay Road Baptist Church on the dedication of this church in the growing community of Timberlea.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 8624]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South.

RESOLUTION NO. 3323

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

Whereas Hilda and Hector MacDonald of Sydney have been longtime residents of their community; and

Whereas during their lives, they have distinguished themselves in many aspects of community life; and

Whereas on Saturday, June 21, 2002, Mr. and Mrs. MacDonald will celebrate their 60th Wedding Anniversary;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulates Hilda and Hector MacDonald and wish them many more happy years together and good health.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Government House Leader.

[Page 8625]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would ask for the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

MR. SPEAKER: Revert to the order of business, Tabling Reports, Regulations and Other Papers.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: As Speaker, I have received notice from the Nova Scotia Provincial Electoral Boundaries Commission, which has provided an update as opposed to a report, interim. I would like to have that tabled at this time so that all members could be made aware of that. (Interruptions) It's a one-page notice of an update and reports. We will have that copied to all members. Order, please.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I see that you've tabled the letter, but is their interim report complete too, or does that constitute the interim report?

MR. SPEAKER: We will have copies of this letter distributed for the honourable members. It explains why it is a one page notice to the House with regard to the full report. It is a letter.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will ask for the consent of the House to revert to the order of business, Presenting and Reading Petitions.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table a petition signed by approximately 100 individuals. The petition reads as follows:

[Page 8626]

"WE, THE UNDERSIGNED, HEREBY PETITION THE NOVA SCOTIA GOVERNMENT TO PLACE THE FOLLOWING ROAD ON THEIR TOP PRIORITY REPAIR LIST

the road known as Wentzell Road junction

from Branch LaHave, to the Thompkin Road in Stanley Section

Approx. 16 Km on the Centre Lower Branch Road."

I have signed this petition, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Government Motions.

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that you do now leave the Chair and the House resolve itself into a Committee of the Whole House on Supply unto Her Majesty.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I take my spot on this nice afternoon for a few comments of some consequence to the people of Timberlea-Prospect. For members opposite, I'm not going to talk about schools - although they remain overcrowded and our high school, of course, sits there empty. I'm not going to go on in my usual mild manner about issues with regard to services as compared to the taxes we pay. Instead I would like to talk to this House for a few moments today on subdivisions, growing subdivisions in a growing constituency, that are outside the core area.

For members opposite who might say, well if I'm not from the Halifax Regional Municipality, what is this I hear about core and those within or without that distinction? You know the core areas, of course, with amalgamation and heaven forbid . . .

[Page 8627]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. There is too much noise in the Chamber. I would ask the members to take their conversations outside, please. The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect has the floor.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Thank you, Mr. Speaker, and it's a topic of some importance. I think members opposite should learn about that descriptive term of amalgamation. In the HRM we have these areas - and I know there have been municipal councillors opposite who know of the problem - that are within the core area and outside of the core area. The concern comes from a growing constituency, such as Timberlea-Prospect, when you look at these growing subdivisions.

For members opposite I'm going to take you on one very quick geographical tour. If you want to know why Timberlea-Prospect is one of the fastest growing constituencies in Nova Scotia, let me list off these subdivisions that have complaints about unpaved, gravel roads. So members opposite, don't tell me that Halifax Regional Municipality gets everything when we have these unpaved subdivision roads. We have the Bayview Subdivision in Whites Lake; we have Alderwood Acres in Shad Bay; we have Cedar Court, which is down off Seligs Road in scenic Prospect Bay; we have the Whites Lake Subdivision off the Terence Bay Road; we have Marydale; and we have Sandstone - and we wish it was sandstone as opposed to the rotten road that it is most of the time. We have the Macdonald Lake Subdivision in Hachet Lake, just in back of Brookside Junior High School and fast expanding; we have parts of the growing subdivision of Brookside; and we have the notorious Club Road. We have the Lake of the Woods Subdivision and that section that connects with Cambrians Cove; we have the Three Brooks Subdivision which is in back of Sir John A. Macdonald High School; and we have the St. Margaret's Village Subdivision in Upper Tantallon.

Mr. Speaker, my geographical tour for members opposite continues and I see members' eyes over there going, does it never stop? This is a growing constituency with growing subdivisions, with concerns about roads in terrible shape, roads that have never seen a lick of pavement. In return, the people in those subdivisions pay big taxes and sometimes during the winter, school buses refuse to go down them. I would also like to bring to your attention these fast growing subdivisions off the Hammonds Plains Road. I know the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, if he would stand in his place on occasion and mention roads in that area would also deal with this issue.

There's Highland Park; there's the Leeward Avenue side and, of course, there is the Sylvania Avenue side. The roads are rotten in that subdivision - the unpaved, gravel roads. Of course, there is the Haliburton Hills, Haliburton Heights and the Highbury subdivision. That's the subdivision that I'm going to spend some time with because the people in that subdivision have dutifully followed the process. They signed the petitions. The HRM councillors have said, we will kick in our share. But the work cannot be done, of course, because, under the aid to municipality monies that's coming forward or is not coming

[Page 8628]

forward from this provincial Department of Transportation and Public Works, those people who live in that subdivision, a subdivision of over 600 homes - 600 homes in one subdivision and you've got a rotten road named Flat Lake Drive and a dangerous bridge named Flat Lake Bridge to get over to get into that subdivision.

The developer in that subdivision is a gentleman named Cameron Sleep. He's a developer with a conscience, Mr. Speaker. I only wish, in the constituency of Timberlea-Prospect, I had as good a working relationship with the developers in other fast growing subdivisions. Mr. Sleep, unlike some other developers, just doesn't take the money and run. He conscientiously follows up with petitions. In fact, Mr. Sleep lives in the Haliburton Hills subdivision, so he has a vested interested when it comes to receiving good service.

I want to, if I may, Mr. Speaker, share with you a letter that I received - and I will table this letter - it comes from Paul O'Brien, the Area Manager Suburban for the Department of Transportation and Public Works. I have a lot of time for Mr. O'Brien. Mr. O'Brien is a well organized professional engineer who gets back to constituents and gets back to me as the MLA. In this letter Mr. O'Brien says - and I will table it in a moment - "The Area Staff review these roads and recommend with the higher priority going to primary road in the sub-division where all or most of the residents receive benefits from higher service levels."

Mr. Speaker, that says it all. Here we have a professional engineer who is saying that there are roads, particularly in this subdivision, but also on the Macdonald Lake Road, the Club Road, these are roads that are used by a lot of people as they come to and from these busy subdivisions. But the people who really do the work are the residents in these areas, and I hear from all kinds of them. They constantly complain about the condition of their roads. I would like to, if I may - and I am going to quote from it and I will table it in a few moments - share the e-mail which I received from Rhonda Brown, who lives at 60 Leeward Avenue.

Mr. Speaker, Rhonda writes this, "To most of us, the arrival of spring means warm weather, green grass, and the blooming of flowers. On my street, it means the arrival of potholes and frost heave. I will continue, "I don't consider . . ." it being ". . . a luxury or an 'extra' . . ." when it comes to having proper roads to travel on. "I don't want to dodge potholes . . ."day after day ". . . just to get to and from my house. I don't want to choke on dust in the summertime while walking down the street. I don't want to make extensive repairs to my car on a yearly basis." That is only one of the many pieces of correspondence that I've received on this topic.

Mr. Speaker, I want to share with you - and I will table it, and I know I'm not allowed props - a map with a 600-home subdivision called Haliburton Hills. The darkened area, for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works opposite, are paved roads. With amalgamation, Mr. Speaker, you come in further and there are more paved roads, but it's that area in between that are gravel roads, that are the roads that people are complaining about in these subdivisions. With amalgamation, of course, as you well know, this new regulation

[Page 8629]

said that developers could not sell land in the Halifax Regional Municipality unless the roads were paved, but, let's be clear on this. When you come in to Haliburton Hills and you go through a paved section and then you have to go over a gravelled section that has to be maintained differently and plowed differently and ditched differently, then you go to another paved section, the people ask the common sense question, let's be consistent with this; let's be consistent with the paving in the subdivisions.

[3:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, just so the Minister of Transportation and Public Works really understands, I am only also going to table this aerial photo of Haliburton Hills. Now, this is a booming community. This is a community that has numerous young people and numerous young parents, and this community believes that they are well within their rights in asking for a level of services that will respond to the taxes that they pay. What can we say to these young people? They have, after all, decided to move into one of the fastest-growing communities in this province. They live conveniently to the capital City of Halifax, they want to have the privilege of being near services such as the St. Margaret's Arena, such as some of the other wonderful benefits of living in this community, but they live on roads that are absolutely unacceptable.

The HRM councillors, Councillor Rankin in the core area, Councillor Meade in the non-core area, they tried to make the case and Councillor Steve Adams in many ways at the community council meetings has tried to make the case that HRM is willing to do their share, the residents of these growing subdivisions are willing to do their share but what, in return, does this provincial government do? The provincial government gives nothing.

Now, right across from the entrance to Haliburton Hills, right across from the entrance to MacDonald Lake, right across to the subdivision entrances all the way across my constituency, are gas stations. Those service stations are going to continue to collect the taxes which come from our gases. Where is this money going to be used? Is it going to be used in a fast-growing constituency such as Timberlea-Prospect when many, many thousands of young people faithfully pay for that gas tax? What kind of assurances do they have? They live in the Halifax Regional Municipality, and members opposite over there say Halifax gets everything. Halifax after all is the capital city, has this and it has that - and we can talk about some of the benefits of Neptune Theatre, the Metro Centre - but I can tell you and I know there are former municipal councillors opposite, they know that if you live outside of the core area, if you live off the peninsula of Halifax, you suffer from a lack of services. You suffer from overcrowded schools, you suffer from roads that are just completely unacceptable.

Mr. Speaker, I want to share this with you because it is of real importance. There is nothing worse than in the wintertime, or later on when the Spring breakup comes, where there are roads where the buses refuse to travel - I am talking about the school buses. The school buses refuse to go down those roads because the drivers are within their rights to

[Page 8630]

refuse to travel down that road. There is the notorious Leeward Avenue, you can't get to it. It's impossible. It's down a grade; it's off a long strip of road. The buses just refuse to go down there. Now the young people, the children, the elementary schoolchildren, they are waiting for the bus and the bus does not arrive. The difficulties that come from that, because the road is not properly serviced.

Now, I can use all kinds of examples. I can point to examples from one end of the constituency to the other, but, Mr. Speaker, there has to be a commitment from this government and a commitment from this minister that he and the government will not forget the people who pay these big taxes on these new homes who live in these wonderfully expanding subdivisions. There has to be a certain level of service that we can guarantee to area residents that they will receive proper roads on which to travel.

During estimates today - whenever we get to estimates - I know that the minister is going to have all the answers, but what does he say to people who complain about damage to their shocks, damage to their windshields, damage to their vehicles? Mr. Speaker, this is not happening out in so-called rural Nova Scotia - and I know members opposite hear of these complaints - this is happening within the Halifax Regional Municipality. These people in many ways pay exorbitant taxes and in return receive little or nothing when it comes to services.

I want the minister to know that there are people in my constituency who are going to continue to bring their specific examples to my attention and I am going to bring them to the minister's attention. It's of some importance that we can assure Nova Scotians they can travel on safe roads, their children can get on school buses that will safely get them to and from school, and repairs to their vehicles will not be insurmountable because of the neglect of this government. Thank you for your time, Mr. Speaker.

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

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first of all, if I may . . .

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave for an introduction.

MR. SPEAKER: Will the honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes allow for an introduction?

MR. BOUDREAU: Absolutely, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 8631]

MR. DEWOLFE: Thank you for the time, Mr. Speaker. It's very timely to have introduced a bill, An Act Respecting the Geoscience Profession, earlier today because today is, in fact, Earth Day.

Having said that, Mr. Speaker, and colleagues of the House, I would like to introduce David Carter in our east gallery, who is President of The Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia. With him is Dr. Pat Ryall, Past President of The Association of Professional Geoscientists of Nova Scotia - and from the Eastern Shore, my colleague is telling me. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm approbation of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome our guests to the gallery today. Thank you for that.

The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes.

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, first off I would like to recognize that I will be sharing my time today with my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, and my colleague, the member for Cape Breton West.

Mr. Speaker, I rise today to speak on the Supply motion on a very interesting topic. I rise also as the Critic for Sport and Recreation to recognize, to all members of this House, that the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture, who is also the minister responsible for the Sport and Recreation Commission of the Province of Nova Scotia, has cut his budget by $1 million and what this means to sport and recreation in the Province of Nova Scotia. First of all, I would like to acknowledge to the House that this measure sort of baffles me on two fronts. The first one would be that this cut apparently is designated for the grants to facilities area of the minister's budget. That concerns us a great deal.

It also amazes me why, just a couple of short weeks ago in Cape Breton, the honourable member for Cape Breton North announced that his government was prepared to fund a rent venture in his riding at a cost of approximately $2 million, the actual cost to this government. So it kind of baffles me where the honourable member could pretend that facilities in the area he represents are an important issue, but in other areas of Nova Scotia it doesn't seem to be quite a priority. I say that, Mr. Speaker, because you look at the direct cost and the savings of all these maneuvers - particularly when we look at the cut to the budget item at the Sport and Recreation Commission at $1 million. We're concerned about this because, basically, it affects the health and safety of Nova Scotians, particularly when we get into the areas of sport and recreation where we look at issues like Participaction and those sort of things and a healthy lifestyle.

[Page 8632]

Mr. Speaker, if we don't have proper facilities for our seniors and our residents to have access to, then I would suggest that the Minister of Health is just creating a smokescreen when he suggests that we have to become more healthy, change the way in which we live, become aware, be more educated on issues and health-related issues and become a healthy society. Well, what the Minister of Health should be reminded of is that the people of Nova Scotia require the tools in order to achieve that goal. A very important function or part of that system would be facilities that are readily accessible to seniors and all Nova Scotians despite - not any one particular age that we would earmark here. It's important for our youth to participate in after-school programs like basketball games and exercise. If we're going to get our population involved in what the Minister of Health has been saying, then there should, in fact, be an increase in the budget in Sport and Recreation in this province in order to spearhead the drive for Nova Scotia to become a much healthier population.

Mr. Speaker, it's common sense that throughout Nova Scotia this item should receive the same attention that the honourable member for Cape Breton North pretended down in his riding, pretended that this issue was such an important item in his area. I would agree with that member. I would agree with the member for Cape Breton North. What I would agree with is the honourable Minister of Health and the honourable Minister of Finance providing the funding necessary to lead our population into a prosperous and healthy environment and lifestyle.

Mr. Speaker, my time is almost up. I'm going to give one of my colleagues enough time now to speak. One of the reasons I have asked my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, Dr. James Smith, Health Critic and former Minister of Health for the Province of Nova Scotia, is this was a very important item for him during his tenure as Minister of Health. I'm hopeful that the Minister of Health will pay particular attention to what my good friend and colleague, Dr. James Smith has to say.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to thank my colleague, the member for Cape Breton The Lakes for sharing his time coming into estimates. I will be very brief, and I intend to take five minutes, that should make it 3:17 p.m. I think the point he makes is extremely important, and I'm glad to see that the Health Minister is here listening. Even though this item, in the estimates, is under the area of Sport and Recreation, it really is a Health issue, it is a community issue. The cutting in half of the budget of the Recreation Facility Development is really a tragedy that is hard to believe in this day and age, that we would be seeing this sort of change here by a government that is supposed to be progressive and really concerned about their Health budget.

Mr. Speaker, we have the whole issue of what these facilities are doing within our community. You can talk about what is a community. It's certainly far more than sewer and streets and street lighting, it's really areas that evolve to allow full development of our

[Page 8633]

children and the full participation of our seniors. There is a continuum of lifestyle that needs to be healthy. If we have any hope of health and our health care system addressing the needs of those persons going through now, as you call, the baby boomers and those following, it would certainly be that we must have a healthy lifestyle.

Mark Twain says that like the weather, everybody talks about it, no one does anything about it. Sometimes health prevention is a lot like that. It's off in the future. Although there are immediate gains and rewards and a feeling of well-being and self-esteem that persons of all age groups experience through a healthy community, it really, often, seems to be what falls off the table at budget time. That's what we're seeing here today, we're seeing a very important initiative by various governments being slashed, and slashed wholeheartedly.

Mr. Speaker, the alternatives, when you don't have facilities in your community, and I picture Dartmouth East, where a great many mistakes were made back in the 1960s and 1970s when the community development put large groups of persons together in large apartment buildings, low income and single parents, and yet offered practically - well, you could essentially say no services in that community. Today, in another century, we still haven't caught up in bringing services into that area.

During a period of time the community itself, and community groups along with the Boys and Girls Club and the MP Ron MacDonald and others started looking at a community centre in the area of Dartmouth East that I have the privilege of representing. That has had a long struggle, but it is so important that there are supports from the provincial level, as well as the federal level and municipal levels of government. Sometimes this may take in kind, but sooner or later, there is seed money that needs to be available for the communities.

[3:15 p.m.]

So the whole issue of the wellness and health prevention, healthy communities, is tied in with this. So what sort of a message is that that the Minister of Health and others who sit at the table who make decisions on this particular budget item are really giving to the community, to the people of Nova Scotia? They rant and rave on, Mr. Speaker, about how we smoke too much and are too obese and all the other areas, but when it comes to programs in the community to address those particular issues, to have a healthy lifestyle and healthy communities, what do they do? Lo and behold, they slash.

There are immediate needs in the community I represent in Dartmouth East. The Boys and Girls Club has been without a facility within the last year or so. It's only due to John Burton and others who work in that particular Boys and Girls Club that's able to hold that together. Part of it is Saint Luke's Church Hall, Kin House and others. The Dartmouth Rotary Club has been a great supporter in the East Dartmouth Rotary Club of those particular programs that are offered by the Boys and Girls Club, but they can't do it alone. They need programs like this. They are looking at the Mary Lawson School that was just closed by the

[Page 8634]

school board and this government last year. Maybe that facility is available. But there would be where a facility grant would be well used. There's room there for senior's programs and, as well, for children, for their educational and their social development and their well-being.

So a health community, Mr. Speaker, depends on this. Why does this government, that's wallowing in mismanagement within the health care system, why are they also slashing these recreation facility development grants in our communities? That's my question to the House today.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and offer some words of support on the points that were raised by my colleagues for Cape Breton The Lakes and Dartmouth East. This issue of health, fitness, and wellness among Nova Scotians certainly is a responsibility of each and every one of us, but no more so or no less than should be in terms of the minister responsible for health and fitness - the Minister of Health, the Hon. Jamie Muir, as we all know.

Mr. Speaker, you will recall, back in the 1970s, this issue of Participaction that was commenced under the Trudeau Administration. Well, why don't we have a similar type program here today? I'm sure our Minister of Health, and Premier and all the members of the Legislature could show some leadership by partaking actively in various communities and various programs across the province. It wouldn't cost a lot of money, but it shows that we are providing some leadership on this particular issue, rather than take a rather conservative small "c" approach to things and slashing and burning and that humdrum approach to many of the issues that are confronting us here today.

As we noticed, through the Sport and Recreation budget, where the government's proposing to cut somewhere in the vicinity of $1 million, Mr. Speaker, I think the government would be well advised to have the ministers go out and travel around Nova Scotia and participate in all these different sports activities, attend different hockey tournaments and baseball tournaments and basketball tournaments and start participating. Put on these health and wellness sweaters and show that you're active participants. Show some leadership in a real way, rather than just sit around here and talk about all the things that they say they are going to do and never really do. (Interruption) That's right, yes. Perhaps, Mr. Speaker, we could sit here for one month and go out and be actively participating in the community. I know that the government members would love to go out and actively participate in the community because it would give them eleven months to canvass, to make up for all the damage that they did in the one month that they're here in the House.

I know my time is coming to a close here, but I was a little disturbed to see that the latest report here - there was an article in The Chronicle-Herald today showing Canada's Kids - World's Fattest. That's not an image that we would like to portray for our Nova

[Page 8635]

Scotian children or Canadian children. I know that on the BBC they've recorded that as some of the most unhealthy children or most physically unfit children comparable with Great Britain and Scotland. I would encourage the Minister of Health to put his words into action and get out there and do something and not just stand here and talk.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Eastern Shore.

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I am going to share my time with the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. First of all I would like to stand in the House and make an announcement. I know a lot of people are aware that the mayor for the Halifax Regional Municipality is actually in Bras d'Or today serving chicken as part of honouring his bet with the mayor for the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. I have proof of that because the member for Cape Breton North dropped in on his way to Halifax this morning and actually has a box of chicken from the Lick-A-Chick in Bras d'Or signed by Mayor Kelly. The intent of this package of chicken is to go to the member for Preston.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Eastern Shore would know that you're not allowed props in the House. I would ask that you either eat it or put it away. (Laughter)

MR. DOOKS: I'm just so very excited about this. I will put it away, Mr. Speaker, but I must say there are two lovely pieces of chicken there.

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

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, the very reason why . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. You would think the honourable member would be advertising some wellness and fitness here, not greasy chicken that makes people more cholesterol congested than they already are. He's contradicting what . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That may very well be a point, but it's not a point of order. I would ask the honourable member for Eastern Shore to get along with his debate please.

MR. DOOKS: I always appreciate the wit of that member. But, the reason why I did bring in that prop today was to make a point. Mr. Speaker, I was listening to the member for Timberlea-Prospect talking about inner core and outer core. The people of the Eastern Shore and the people of the Halifax Regional Municipality understand that we certainly have another box of chicken. The people of the Eastern Shore and the rest of the municipality

[Page 8636]

understand clearly that we certainly have some issues surrounding the amalgamated unit. I have said from my earlier days as councillor and still stand in my seat today to say that the way that has been designed is wrong. The people in the municipality being designated to an inner core or an outer core is very unfair. When the taxation is basically the same, the people in the outer core are getting less service than the people in the inner core.

Speaking of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works today, we're all aware that there has been a fuel increase - not fuel, but a gasoline increase for the people of Nova Scotia per litre. We know that will benefit the people who live in the rural areas of Nova Scotia, that will be money provided for road improvements. We know that the government has clearly put money into the budget of the Department of Transportation for the rural areas through the RIM program that has been very successful, especially for the people of the Eastern Shore.

The RIM program is monies for signage, for culverts, for guardrails, for all these types of things, not necessarily directed to capital, but certainly bring benefits to the people of the Eastern Shore and other rural parts of Nova Scotia. This government is committed to making highway improvements from one end of Nova Scotia to the other end.

It takes time. We know the condition of the roads are very poor. I would not be able to stand here and say today that the roads on the Eastern Shore are in A-1 shape, but I can stand here and say that they're certainly better than they were in the past and I can stand here today and tell the people of the Eastern Shore that we have road improvements coming. Very clearly, the part of my riding that's closest to the urban core, Lawrencetown, has many subdivision roads and I share the same concerns as the good member for Timberlea-Prospect and I see that he's standing up over there representing his people as he should, but I want to assure that member that the promise from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is to address certain issues, and their highway concerns will be addressed. We just need time. I don't think - I look at the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and I would say, don't you believe, member, that the highways are going to get better in Nova Scotia?

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: We surely hope so.

MR. DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, here's a man who tells the truth. I believe him as well.

Mr. Speaker, I often talk about the unfairness or the difference between the inner core and the outer core, and what I'm going to talk about today is the way of life that the people in the rural area have lived and been accustomed to over the many years gone by. We have three issues on the Eastern Shore today that are very important to the people of the Eastern Shore. I stood on my pins here - last week, I believe - and shared with the members on this side of the House and that side of the House that, as their representative, I am facing some issues, and I want to assure the people of Eastern Shore that we're going to work with this government and work through those issues.

[Page 8637]

Number one, the trouting issue. Through the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries and the Department of Natural Resources, through a certain process, which I believe is a flawed process, there are fishing restrictions put on certain lakes on the Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore gathered together recently in a town hall meeting in Tangier, and we are organized. The name of that organization is the Eastern Shore Outdoor Heritage Association. I was very pleased to see approximately 250 people come to that meeting for the second time and buy into a membership for that executive and that membership to take control of the direction of the people of the Eastern Shore. We're also going to deal with the trouting issue that surrounds the lakes, the Ship Harbour Long Lake issue, and the restricted use of motor vehicles within the protected site.

Mr. Speaker, we have an Act, the Wilderness Areas Protection Act, that was proclaimed, I believe, in December 1998. I'm not going to stand here and say that I'm against this particular Act; what I'm going to say is that it is necessary for some changes or for this group that has been organized on the Eastern Shore to meet with the Department of Environment and Labour to make some changes within the Act or put together a management plan. At this time, the Department of Natural Resources has put up no trespassing signs or no motor vehicles within the protected area, and they're neglecting to understand - by order of the Department of Environment and Labour - the issue that surrounds this.

Mr. Speaker, I want to tell you that the people are unable to put their fishing boats in the lakes in the rural area. The people are unable to take their ATVs - what are they called, those motor vehicle things, the four-wheelers? (Interruption) ATVs, all-terrain vehicles. They are unable to use their all-terrain vehicles in the protected site, but there are provisions within that Act that will allow their usage of that land as long as there is a management agreement put in place. I just want to say in the House today that we are organizing, we plan to work with the government, and we plan to deal with the issues that surround our way of life on the Eastern Shore.

Mr. Speaker, I think I'm going to pass my time over to the good member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I just wanted to stand in my place today and announce to Nova Scotia, the government and my Opposition colleagues across the way that we are planning and organizing to address certain concerns on the Eastern Shore, as far as wilderness areas are concerned, in our riding.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I would certainly like to thank the honourable member for Eastern Shore for sharing his time with me this afternoon. Back on March 27th, the Public Accounts Committee had the opportunity to bring in some witnesses, I suppose you would call them, from the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. During the course of that meeting, the committee members for the Tory caucus and, I would suggest, the Liberal caucus tried to hold the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board accountable for

[Page 8638]

how it was spending the money, the public's funding so to speak, and the chairman of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board said through the media and, perhaps, even at the committee, if I remember correctly, that the members of the Tory caucus and the member for Cape Breton West, for example, were somehow raising questions that were frivolous and they were on some agenda but they really weren't interested in how the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board was spending the funding that the Department of Education allocated to them.

[3:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that from my perspective, and I had an opportunity to ask some questions to the board, I did not once question the integrity of the board, I was only trying to hold the board members accountable. Something that got the hair on the back of my neck up a little bit was the fact that one of the family offices - as you would know, being from Cumberland County, representing Cumberland South, Mr. Speaker, there are five family offices in the district that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board serves - the family office out in the corridor area, between Shubenacadie and Enfield not too long ago, maybe three short years ago, resided in the community of Shubenacadie and the Shubenacadie facility received some capital and was upgraded to serve the needs of the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board. Then a short time later the school board decided in their wisdom to move from Shubenacadie to Milford, to an abandoned school. The new Riverside Middle School, the educational school, represented by the honourable member for Hants East, the board moved the family office into the Milford School.

At the Milford School, they spent, again, a considerable amount of taxpayer funding to upgrade the Milford School. Apparently, the Milford School wasn't good enough, Mr. Speaker, so now the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, I believe its Nova Family Office moved to the old Elmsdale Elementary School. We were told, the MLA for Hants East and myself, because I have constituents who go over to Elmsdale and attend the new Elmsdale school - which will be officially opened tomorrow night - were told at the Elmsdale Legion by officials appropriate that the old Elmsdale school was overcrowded, which it was. We were also told at that time that there had been an old spill and that the Elmsdale Elementary School was environmentally unsound. Well, what did the school board do, Mr. Speaker, but move their family office into that school that was previously environmentally unsound. I believe some buildings were torn down, maybe three classrooms removed, soil was trucked out, there were several thousands spent on upgrading the old Elmsdale Elementary School so the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board could reside their Family Nova Office in that facility.

I think by raising those issues in the Public Accounts Committee that the Tory caucus was being especially prudent and trying to find out why this family office moved from Shubenacadie to Milford to Elmsdale and now, Mr. Speaker, to add insult to injury, it's very ironic that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board has set up shop as a landlord. They

[Page 8639]

have more space than they need at the Elmsdale Elementary School, so they are trying to attract tenants. I would suggest that there are only so many tenants to go around and most of those tenants reside in the private sector with stand-alone buildings that are not subsidized by the taxpayers of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I can only think that the Nova Scotia taxpayers out there might be just a little bit concerned when, in fact, a stand-alone landlord comes into my constituency office and says, do you know that the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, their landlord is trying to attract my tenant out of my building and place them in the Elmsdale Elementary School at an artificially low rate that is subsidized by the taxpayers of this province. I think that's wrong. I think it's morally wrong. I think it's ethically wrong. It's unsound and the board shouldn't be doing that.

So, those were the type of things that the Tory caucus was trying to present to the delegation that came in. We were not saying that they're breaking any law. Of course, they can do that, but you have to question, Mr. Speaker, is it really appropriate for the board to set up shop in Elmsdale? Now, it has been told to me, and this has been countered by the board, that the rate that they're asking their tenants for at the old Elmsdale Elementary School - I see I have one minute - is somewhere around $10 a square foot. I took that issue up with the board member and was told no, it's more like $14 a square foot. But I'm told that the going rate in Elmsdale that landlords charge on average is $20 a square foot. So it's very hard for the private sector out there to compete against a subsidized facility that seems to have a money pit with no end. It seems to be big and huge and it's wrong, wrong, wrong and I will continue to speak against this. Irrespective of what the chairman of the school board thinks, we think it's wrong. We don't think it's frivolous; we think we're speaking about the value for the taxpayers' dollar. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would just like to bring to the attention of all members that I just received a notice that tonight, at 8:00 p.m., there will be a candlelight vigil in remembrance of the Canadian soldiers who passed away this past week, at the Grand Parade, for any of those who wish to attend.

The motion is carried.

[3:36 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

[7:45 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened with Deputy Speaker Mr. Brooke Taylor in the Chair.]

MR. SPEAKER: The Chairman of the Committee of the Whole House on Supply reports:

[Page 8640]

THE CLERK: That the committee has met and made some progress in considering Supply and asks leave to sit again.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

MR. JOHN HOLM: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The government has announced its business for today, that it wishes to call Bill No. 109. But before they do that, I am rising on a point of order to ask that you rule Bill No. 109 out of order and to ask that you order or request the government to split Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act, into five separate pieces of legislation so that the House can proceed to consider the legislative proposals in accordance with the usages and precedents of this House.

The usage and customs of our House are that the Financial Measures Act contains tax, fee and other budgetary measures that cannot be enacted by the Appropriations Act. That is plain to see in last year's Financial Measures (2001) Act. It had 29 clauses dealing with taxation, fees and related items. Only three clauses were not directly related to taxation; two dealt with the proposed downloading of assessment and one amended the municipal grants legislation. They were budgetary measures that could not be enacted as part of the Appropriations Act.

In 1999, the Financial Measures (1999) Act had five tax clauses and two clauses dealing with the debt and deficit aspects of financial administration. In 2000, the Financial Measures (2000) Act had 88 clauses dealing with taxation and financial administration, nine clauses to enact budget measures regarding the cost of our arbitration boards and two clauses to revoke the appointments of members of the Alcohol and Gaming Authority, also a budget measure. In each of those years, as in previous years, the Financial Measures Act was introduced by the Minister of Finance primarily to enact the tax and financial administration measures in the budget. That is the usage and precedent in this House.

Many other pieces of legislation may have financial effects, directly or indirectly. Other legislation may change aspects of a financial administration. In fact, almost every bill we deal with can be viewed as having a financial aspect. However, Mr. Speaker, the Financial Measures Act itself has been limited. Then we come to this year's Financial Measures (2002) Act and we find something quite different. We find the repeal of the Arts Council and other changes which do not change the province's bottom line. We find sections changing important aspects of the health system, changes that were not mentioned in the Budget Address or the budget bulletins.

To name but one example, Mr. Speaker, Clause 22 makes a significant change to the relationship between physicians and the province, making it impossible, after November 1st, for a community or foundation to contract with a physician to keep or attract them. Yet

[Page 8641]

Clause 22 does not affect provincial spending, taxation or financial administration. It is a 100 per cent Health Department item. There are 10 clauses dealing with the relationship between the Minister of Education and school boards, as well as conflict of interest rules for school boards. These are the kinds of provisions we would expect to see coming forward from the Minister of Education, and indeed it was the Minister of Education who announced them.

There are very important changes to the freedom of information legislation, which are of considerable interest right across Canada and which fall squarely into the responsibilities and policy declarations of the Justice Minister. This year's Financial Measures (2002) Act also has the usual tax, fee and financial administration measures. We have serious concerns about some of those measures, Mr. Speaker, but they do belong in this bill. I respectfully suggest to you, however, that the Arts Council, education, health and freedom of information parts of this year's Financial Measures (2002) Act do not belong in this bill. All four deal with important non-budgetary items and policies. Three of them are of little or no consequence to the budgetary policies of the province this year.

[7:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, we are asked to vote for or against the principle of the bill on second reading. No one could suggest a single motivating principle in this bill, the Financial Measures (2002) Act. Amendments are in order if they fall within the scope of a bill, yet what is the scope of this bill? It looks as though any change to any law could be added without changing the fundamental nature of Bill No. 109. What about the citizens of Nova Scotia who are part of our legislative process when they appear at the Law Amendments Committee? How is a Law Amendments Committee supposed to hold public hearings at which defenders of an arm's-length Arts Council, those concerned about school board accountability, advocates of freedom of information and those who want some local control of physician services are all supposed to appear on the same bill? That bill also contains a heavy load of tax and fee increases and other important changes in the province's financial administration. It would be as though the House sent bills to the Law Amendments Committee, 10 at a time, for public hearings to be held in that way.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, I ask you to consider the effect of this unprecedented bill upon the members of your very own caucus. Your caucus operates under a policy of freedom of expression, and freedom to vote one's conscience in the Legislature. The member for Shelburne and other members have, with the Premier's blessing, done just that. Yet if a law banning local agreements for physician services is tucked into the health section of Bill No. 109, the member would be called upon to vote non-confidence in the government by voting against the budgetary measures which are found in other parts of Bill No. 109. The same applies to those who are supporters of an arm's-length Arts Council. To let this bill stand against all usage and precedence in our House would contradict the policy of which the Premier and the Conservative Party want to be proud.

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You are not, I might add, the very first Speaker in Canada who has been asked to rule on a piece of legislation that is so far-reaching that it has no unifying principle or coherent purpose. Other Speakers in other Houses have stood up and asked government to withdraw such legislation. Those Speakers, however, did not have the advantage that you do, and we do in here, of our Rule 2, which gives force and power to the usages and precedents of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I urge you to consult with the authorities, to look very carefully at Bill No. 109. I am sure you will find that it is not in order, and that it should be divided before the House is asked to begin debate on any single part of that legislation. For your convenience, if you would like, I could give you a copy of my remarks, so that you can review them as you are looking at the usages and precedents, in making your decision.

MR. SPEAKER: Are there interventions on the point of order?

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the intervention by the Opposition House Leader is a frivolous intervention. (Interruptions) The precedents of this House has always been that an omnibus bill must have a common thread, and I believe that very clearly this bill does have a common thread. In fact, I would suggest to the honourable member opposite that if he was looking for precedents that he would find that there have been less common threads, perhaps, back in the late 1990s in some of the Financial Measures Acts than there certainly is in this one.

This bill deals with financial matters or matters of management of the finances of this province clearly falling from the budget, Mr. Speaker. I would suggest that there is no excuse whatsoever for you to reject this bill and to order it being split up. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: I've had an opportunity to listen to the honourable NDP House Leader and I appreciate the intervention from the Government House Leader, but I think in the interest of fairness, what we will do is ask the House to agree to a brief recess so the Speaker can confer with the Legislative Counsel.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Thank you very much. We stand recessed for probably 10 minutes.

[7:51 p.m. The House recessed.]

[8:05 p.m. The House reconvened.]

[Page 8643]

SPEAKER'S RULING: Point of order to split omnibus legislation. Speaker has no power to split the bill.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would like to bring the House back to order. The Speaker has had an opportunity to confirm with the Legislative Counsel and after discussing the issue we have found that our own rules do not say anything to the point of order. We subsequently went to the House of Commons Procedure and Practice. I would like to, relative to an omnibus bill, read a couple of paragraphs into the record to give all members a better understanding of the decision that the Speaker has reached.

"Omnibus bills: Although this expression is commonly used, there is no precise definition of an omnibus bill. In general, an omnibus bill seeks to amend, repeal or enact several Acts, and it is characterized by the fact that it has a number of related but separate parts. An omnibus bill has 'one basic principle or purpose which ties together all the proposed enactments and thereby renders the Bill intelligible for parliamentary purposes'. One of the reasons cited for introducing an omnibus bill is to bring together in a single bill all the legislative amendments resulting from a policy decision to facilitate parliamentary debate . . . It appears to be entirely proper, in procedural terms, for a bill to amend, repeal or enact more than one Act . . . However, on the question of whether the Chair . . ." the Speaker ". . . can be persuaded to divide a bill simply because it is complex or composite in nature, there are many precedents from which it can be concluded that Canadian practice does not permit this."

So, in essence, barring some obvious defect in the bill, the Speaker has no power to split the bill.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. I have learned that I am not trying to challenge the Speaker on his ruling, and you made your ruling. I am trying to seek some clarification. Of course, in your comments, you read from the Rule Book about an omnibus bill - I might want to call it something else, but an omnibus bill. This is the Financial Measures (2002) Act, and the Financial Measures (2002) Act, in itself, would seem to indicate that it is a bill to deal with financial measures; that would mean taxation, it would mean fees and it would remain such related items.

So, before we go into the bill, Mr. Speaker, I would like to seek your clarification, because if members are to speak on the principle of the bill, and second reading debate is supposed to be based on the principle of the legislation, I am at a loss as to what is the principle of this bill. Maybe, if you wouldn't mind, before the debate begins you could tell us what the principle is of Bill No. 109.

[Page 8644]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member knows full well that, indirectly, at least, he is challenging the Speaker's ruling. The Speaker has conferred with the Legislative Counsel and the House of Commons Procedure and Practice.

The honourable Government House Leader.

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

PUBLIC BILLS FOR SECOND READING

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Bill No. 109.

Bill No. 109 - Financial Measures (2002) Act.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I want to make a few comments leading into Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act. I want to thank you for the opportunity to move second reading of the bill. I want to point out that this is a comprehensive piece of legislation that enables changes to 20 Acts of the Nova Scotia Legislature. Many of these changes were included in 2002-03 balanced budget, which I had the honour of presenting to this House on April 4th. We are meeting our commitments to make government more open, but also more accountable. Can anyone in this House truly argue against stricter accounting standards and also accounting procedures for government? These are budget measures that will allow us to improve our roads, but also provide workers' compensation survivor benefits to seven widows, to institute financial accountability on a regular basis, and also to provide the equalization formula for municipalities.

Mr. Speaker, this is the major piece of financial legislation that gives authority to implement our budget. Today I want to address one of the major elements of the Financial Measures (2002) Act that bears reference to the Education Act. Nova Scotians demand, but I believe they also deserve, accountability for every dollar that is spent. It is clear that government is ultimately held responsible for how those tax dollars are spent. In Education, that means ensuring that more than $0.75 billion meant for the classroom is indeed used for that purpose. This bill will serve to increase public accountability for all boards. These changes have one goal - ensuring that the money is spent to get the best possible education for our students.

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As I mentioned with the introduction of this legislation, there are several amendments that will strengthen the Education Act. They include: requiring all boards to have audit committees with financial expertise; expanding audit reviews to cover payments to board members and also senior management; ministerial approval and full disclosure of all employment contracts and personal service contracts with school boards; applying a provincial conflict of interest policy, including consequences for any breaches; establishing appropriate compensation for senior staff; restricting board involvement and commercial enterprises outside of education; and taking over a board for financial mismanagement the first time it happens, if the department so chooses; and establishing board administration structure.

Mr. Speaker, these steps will be implemented province-wide. I commend the school boards and the staff who are doing excellent jobs, both in administration and in the classroom. I fully expect that that level of excellence will continue.

Mr. Speaker, children must get the full benefit of every Education dollar. Our goal as a provincial government is making the education system more accountable to parents, to students, and to taxpayers so that the education of our children is not compromised. It is also our responsibility and we are living up to it with this legislation. I believe that all Nova Scotians should be supportive of these changes that we have implemented in this bill because we are taking steps to ensure that their tax dollars will be spent appropriately.

As I mentioned before, there are 20 different Acts in this bill, and many of them are small changes. I went over it in detail when I introduced the bill and went over it clause by clause with both the press and the Opposition Parties that were present showing that we were serious with the people's money and that this bill basically reaffirms that. With those brief comments, Mr. Speaker, I will move second reading of the bill and I await comments of the members opposite in regard to this bill. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to start by talking about just how wide-ranging this bill really is. The minister just referred to the fact that he went over it clause by clause with the press, but, in fact, he didn't. He had set aside a certain amount of time and the bill is so long and covers so much territory that they only got through one-half of it before the time was up. He said about the rest of the bill, you can just read the rest yourself and ask me any questions you have. It's just one more indication of just how long this bill really is. I really do defy anyone to explain to me or anyone else in this House what the principle is that runs through this bill. There is no one principle that anybody can suggest that explains all these various measures.

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[8:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, what I would like to start with is just reading off all of the different Acts that this bill amends. I would like to say it's a short list, but it's not. I think this is an indication of just how there is no thread that runs through it. I think that calling it unprincipled would be going too far, but I certainly don't see any one principle because it amends the Children and Family Services Act, the Civil Service Act, the Companies Act, the Corporations Registration Act, the Education Act, the Financial Measures (1997) Act, the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act, the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission Act, the Health Services and Insurance Act - in several very different respects, I might add - the Income Tax Act, the Insurance Act, the Motor Vehicle Act, the Municipal Government Act, the Municipal Grants Act, the Nova Scotia Arts Council Act, the Nova Scotia Power Privatization Act, the Off-highway Vehicles Act, the Probate Act, the Provincial Finance Act, the Public Service Superannuation Act, the Revenue Act and the Workers' Compensation Act.

Mr. Speaker, I defy anyone to explain what principle it is that runs through those 21 different Acts, because there isn't one. What the government is doing here is once again diminishing the role of this House and I have talked about this issue on a number of occasions since I was first elected to this House and I am going to talk about it again, the way this government does not respect this Legislature as a forum for real debate. What they are trying to do here is take very different things, very different pieces of legislation and trying to cram them together into one, because they know as well as I do that their real objective here is to pass all this as quickly as they can. (Interruptions)

As the government found out to its chagrin last June when they called the House back for the infamous anti-strike legislation for nurses and health care professionals, fondly known and remembered as Bill No. 68, the government realized that it takes awhile to push through controversial legislation. They don't want to go through that again so what they've done is cram a whole bunch of controversial things all into one bill so that there's only one second reading instead of the five that there should be.

There is only one Law Amendments Committee which is - you know, Mr. Speaker, that's the forum for the public to be heard. As my colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid said so articulately just a few minutes ago, what we're going to have is people before Law Amendments Committee talking about access to physician services, followed by people talking about the Arts Council, followed by people talking about ambulance fees, followed by people talking about the role of school boards, followed by people who are upset with the changes to the Insurance Act, and on and on and on. Members of the public will come in speaking about entirely different things, one after the other.

[Page 8647]

There will be only one Committee of the Whole House on this and the government knows that. It's just one more step down the road which this government has started of not respecting this Legislature because this government knows better than most governments we've had, I would say, that power's really concentrated in the hands of the executive, specifically the Cabinet. All decisions that matter are made by the Cabinet behind closed doors in a Halifax office building and there's nothing that anybody in here can do or say to get them to change those decisions once they're made.

People will say, didn't we just have a change on the transition houses and women's centres? Well, actually, we didn't because the minister said he was going to make changes but he refused to make any changes in his budget estimates to reflect the promises that he had made. He said he was going to cut all that money, $893,000 and there was the very well-deserved storm of protest from Nova Scotians from one end of the province to the other and one side to the other, from all walks of life and the government said, okay, we're going to go slow, we're going to back down, but he refused to change the allocation of money.

What does that say about the government's commitment? What does that say about the government's commitment to using this House as a forum for public debate, where the document that the minister could have, should have changed remains unaltered. Just like pretty much every single piece of legislation that we get. Just as looking in my crystal ball, based on the past, this bill will sail through the House unchanged no matter what anybody says. No matter how sensible the suggestions are that we make, no matter how right we are, no matter how unfair and unreasonable the government's changes are, there's going to be no changes to this bill.

What exactly is the principle of this bill? The Government House Leader apparently was not able to suggest anything except it's all financial, although in some very real sense everything this House does has a financial aspect. That's what we do here. We don't actually solve child poverty, we don't feed hungry children in here, we don't do anything to clothe them or house them, we don't build a house, we don't put clothes on their backs. What we do in this House is we vote money for that purpose, or not, as the case may be because this government doesn't have a poverty agenda.

I thought it was faintly embarrassing, certainly shameful that a representative of this government, actually two, would go down to a child poverty rally in the Valley this past weekend and blame Ottawa. The federal Conservative Member of Parliament for the area points the finger, not at Ottawa because he's in Ottawa, at the federal Liberals who do have a lot to answer for, it's true. The member for Kings South gets up and says, well, it's just Ottawa's fault generally, don't look at us and what we're doing or not doing, it's Ottawa's fault. Mr. Speaker, how are we ever going to deal with child poverty if that's the kind of response we get from elected members of the Legislature? Everything is a financial issue in this Legislature, because that's what we do here.

[Page 8648]

I wonder if anyone else can suggest what any other principle of this bill might be. I'm going to suggest a few, although none of these principles actually explain the whole bill, they just explain pieces of it. For example, there's the principle of secrecy, something this government has raised to a fairly high art; withholding information, every piece of information that is meaningful at all to the Nova Scotia public; fighting the NDP caucus all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada, to try to withhold budget information. Not from this year or the year before but from the year before that. They're still fighting even though they lost in the Nova Scotia Supreme Court, even though they lost in the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals. They're still fighting all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada. I'm going to suggest the principle of secrecy as one thread that runs through this bill. I will elaborate on this a little bit later.

Mr. Speaker, there's also the principle of just plain old meanness, just meanness, mean spiritedness about doing things that are just mean. I will elaborate on that. There's also the principle of central control, lack of faith in the democratic process and the value of this House. I will elaborate on that. Finally, the principle that I would like to suggest for this bill, as the Auditor General warned this government but I see nothing has changed, is making budget decisions without knowing the consequences. At every point in the budget estimates where I've asked a minister on that side if they have information on the consequences of this change or that change or that change, the answer is no. There have been no studies, they just don't know.

What this budget was driven by was the bottom line. The government had a predetermined number that they wanted to get to, and they would do anything to get there.

Is there anything in the Financial Measures (2002) Act to relieve the suffering of Nova Scotia seniors who have been hit again this year with an increase in the co-pay and premium for the Seniors' Pharmacare Program? No. There's nothing there, nothing there for them at all.

Every weekend since the budget has been released, I've been knocking on doors in my constituency. It's a bit of a reality check for myself to find out what people are really thinking. Let me tell you what the seniors in my constituency are really thinking. They are upset. Some of them - I don't think it's an exaggeration to say - are almost in despair. I'm sure it's the same in your constituency, Mr. Speaker. I'm sure it's the same in the constituency of every member on that side. Seniors are in despair because everything is going up - gas is going up, smoking is going up if they're smokers, the price of alcohol is going up, their property taxes are going up because their assessment is going up, Seniors' Pharmacare is going up, their power rates are about to go up. Everything is going up, except their income. That's the one thing that's not going up.

[Page 8649]

This government knows, because we told them, that if you charge more to seniors, they're going to be taking fewer medically necessary drugs or they will opt out of the Seniors' Pharmacare Program completely in order to take a gamble on their drug costs over the next year. We know that's going to happen. It will happen. We know that. It's not speculation; it will happen. It's happening. It's already happening. I talked to a senior on Saturday in my constituency who told me that as a result of the increase in co-pay and premium, she has opted out, for this year, of Seniors' Pharmacare. She is gambling that her drug costs this year will be less than the cost of the co-pay and premium, and there is no other word for it; it's a gamble. She doesn't know what her drug costs are going to be. What she does know is that she can't afford what this government is charging. What is there in the Financial Measures (2002) Act about that? Nothing. No hope. Not even the hope of hope.

Our children who are going to school in crumbling schools - what's in the Financial Measures (2002) Act for them? Because that's another place the government is off-loading the deficit, crumbling schools. Internal Department of Education documents say that the deferred maintenance problem in Nova Scotia has a value of $500 million. What does that mean? It means $0.5 billion would need to be spent today just to bring our schools up to scratch. Not to make them perfect, not to make them palaces, but to bring them up to the standard that you would expect of schools of that age, as if they had been maintained all along; $0.5 billion in the hole. What's the government's response to that? They've cut the budget for school renovations.

Just before this debate started, I was reviewing the news from today and noticed that parents and students at the Barrington Municipal High School are demanding that their school close and stay closed until the environmental health issue there has been solved. They don't want people saying it's all in their heads; they know it's not all in their heads. The last refuge when governments don't want to pay attention to the problem is they just say to people that it's all in their heads. I don't know if this government's saying that, but some people down there are saying that to try to minimize the problem, to try to pretend it doesn't exist. Well, Mr. Speaker, it exists. And what is this government doing about it? Nothing. There's not even the hope that we will begin to catch up with the deferred maintenance and problems in our schools, not even the hope of hope that our crumbling schools will be brought back up to a standard that we would want our children to be educated in.

Those are just a couple of examples of where this government is off-loading the deficit. They started with this bottom line objective; that's where they were. That's what they were aiming for. That's the directive that went out from government far and wide, you have to make your budget say this. We've seen time and time again in the budget estimates, we have uncovered places where the government is simply fudging the numbers.

[Page 8650]

[8:30 p.m.]

They are simply fudging the numbers, they are fudging them in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, they're fudging them in the Department of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, they're fudging them in the Department of Health. We have shown where these numbers are being fudged. In the estimates earlier today, I told the Minister of Finance that I would stand behind my words when I say that those numbers are fudged, and I challenged him to refer this issue to the Auditor General for an opinion, just like the Liberals referred the O'Connell Drive Elementary School lease to the Auditor General for a special audit. I challenged the Minister of Finance, if he's so sure that's he right, to take this to the Auditor General for a special audit so that we would know once and for all what the truth is about the fudged numbers in this year's budget, and the minister refused.

The minister refused. He said, well, it's all going to come out in the Public Accounts. You know it will, because the Auditor General audits the government's books, but the Minister of Finance knows as well as I do that the Public Accounts for this year won't come out for another 18 months. Eighteen months is well past the next election. The Minister of Finance knows that. He doesn't care what the Public Accounts say for this year, that come out 18 months from now, because he will already have run through an election campaign based on fudged numbers. He knows that; I know that. I think, based on the reaction I'm getting from the constituents that I've talked to, they know that. I haven't found one single person whose door I've knocked on in my constituency who believes that this budget is truly balanced. I'm sorry to say the Minister of Finance and the Premier have a credibility problem. People have stopped believing them. They hear the words, but they don't believe them.

Mr. Speaker, the budget is not balanced. They know it; I know it. And I would suggest to you that the people of Nova Scotia know it, certainly the people I've talked to in my constituency know it. I just wonder if the members on that side of the House have been doing what I've been doing, and I intend to keep doing it, and that is every weekend from now until my new son is born - I think - I may take a few days or maybe a couple of weeks off when my new son is born in July, but between now and then - I'm going to go out every weekend and keep talking to my constituents because that's my job. I wonder if the members on that side are doing the same thing. I'm not talking about talking to select groups of invited people; I'm talking about just choosing a street or a highway or a road in your constituency and knocking on every single door, and see what kind of a reaction the members get to this budget and this Financial Measures (2002) Act.

Credit where credit is due. I'm always one to do that, so then when I am critical of the government they know that I really mean it because if there are good things I will have said so. I don't want anybody to say that I'm critical all the time, because I'm not. I will give credit where credit is due. There are a few small good things in this year's Financial

[Page 8651]

Measures (2002) Act. Although, again, I absolutely defy anyone to find a common thread in these things, other than the fact that I think I can find my way to support them.

There's the imposition of new taxes and registration fees on unlimited liability companies. That's a good thing, because no Nova Scotian takes advantage of those companies. It is strictly and purely an off-growth of American tax law, and a sharp-eyed Nova Scotia corporate lawyer, who I think was the late Gerry Godsoe - but I may be mistaken about that - spotted this loophole in the Nova Scotia Companies Act that allows the creation of these beasts called unlimited liability companies. When the Nova Scotia Companies Act was passed decades ago, I don't think anybody actually really foresaw that this would happen; the Nova Scotia Companies Act, as opposed to the British Act on which it's based. When the Nova Scotia Companies Act came into force, I don't think anybody foresaw this but Gerry Godsoe did, I think it was him.

A gentleman that I was fortunate enough to be able to work with very briefly before his unfortunate passing. He spotted this loophole which is a benefit only to Americans and American companies because it allows them to claim certain corporate losses. So I say, fill your boots government, you tax them and you raise the registration fees, they're taking advantage of a tax loophole that benefits Nova Scotians not by one penny, not by one cent, because under Canadian tax law the same loophole is not allowed. So I say, good for you, it shows creative thinking on your part, a good new source of revenue. You want to raise those rates, you go ahead and raise them. I'll be standing right behind you supporting that.

The problem is that in the big picture it actually doesn't amount to an awful lot of money. Mr. Speaker, not nearly as much, for example, as is being downloaded on Nova Scotia's seniors through the increases in Seniors' Pharmacare. I am sorry if I seem a bit obsessed by that, increases to Seniors' Pharmacare, but I will tell you what, it is very much in the mind of the seniors in my constituency. Very, very much in the minds, and because it is on their minds I just can't help talking about it.

Another good thing, the changes which go on for pages and pages on the research and development tax credit. Fine, it brings it into line with federal tax law, it's a good thing, it helps to make sure we have the appropriate tax burden imposed on people who claim the research and development tax credits. The change to the Civil Service Act, which had nothing to do with those previous things but ensures that when people are appointed to agencies, boards and commissions that they do so knowing that they are free of open-ended liability. You know, Mr. Speaker, that is a good thing, it's too bad that it took this long, it's a good idea. I certainly support it.

The new tax increase on Nova Scotia Power, that's a good thing, it's about time. It was that Party who gave away Nova Scotia Power. They gave away Nova Scotia Power for, if you believe this, $143 million less than it was worth. Now, we've done the math, we've done the analysis. It was reported a couple of years ago now, but it's out there. and the Minister of

[Page 8652]

Finance could not, did not, still has not disputed our numbers. The Conservative Party - at the time what they were quoted saying, was for philosophical reasons only, took Nova Scotia Power out of the public sector and put it into the private sector and they sold it for $143 million less than it was worth. Just like that, $143 million of public shared wealth gone. Just gone; because they felt like it.

It has been privatized now for how long is it, 10 years it has been privatized, going on for 10 years at any rate. It has been a private company for 10 years and it's only now that they are going to pay private sector tax rates, except they're not. They're only going to be paying about half of what a similar private company would pay. So there's still some progress to be made. Places like Trenton and Annapolis Royal, and I think particularly of the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, they really think that if it's going to be a private sector company with private sector profits, private sector returns on investment and private sector salaries for their president and CEO who's getting, well pretty darn close to $1 million a year, a year, in income. Where is that coming from, Mr. Speaker? It is coming out of my pocket, it's coming out of your pocket, that's pretty darn close to $1.00 out of the pockets for every man, woman and child in Nova Scotia.

We are paying David Mann to run this private company that was privatized by the Tories. David Mann's partner, of course, income well into the six figures. So that household has an annual income of over $1 million, just the two of them. Then one of those two, of Nova Scotia's power couple, if you'll excuse the pun, has the nerve to come in here, into this Legislature and fawn over the government and lecture us about tightening our belts and about priorities. Fawning over that government and lecturing us and the people who I represent about how they should tighten their belts so that the two of them, Nova Scotia's power couple, can get a tax cut worth tens of thousands of dollars when one-third of all Nova Scotia tax filers under the Tory plan will get nothing.

Do you know why they get nothing, Mr. Speaker? Is it because they have all of their income in offshore tax shelters? Is it because they have their accounts in the Cayman Islands? No, do you know why they don't pay, they'll get nothing out of the Tory tax cut plan? It's because they're too poor. It's because their income is too low for them to pay any Nova Scotia tax at all. One-third of all Nova Scotia tax filers, and my colleague for Lunenburg West asked me if I have the numbers, I will give him the exact number right down to the single digits, 647,295, give or take, tax filers in Nova Scotia and one-third of those - and I have the number in my desk, I won't reach for it now but I do have the number - pay zero Nova Scotia tax. So the Mann family, Nova Scotia's power couple, will get literally tens of thousands of dollars from this tax cut and one-third of all Nova Scotians who are too poor to pay any Nova Scotia will get nothing.

That's not all, Mr. Speaker, because there is another quarter of all Nova Scotia tax filers, for a grand total of 399,000 tax filers in Nova Scotia, who pay $1,000 or less in Nova Scotia tax. So under the Tory tax cut plan, which is still on the table, it is in the budget

[Page 8653]

documents. I know the minister is being coy about it now, I suppose that's natural, he wants people to beg him for the tax cut in the next year, but it is right there, in black and white on Page B22 of the budget documents, this government still intends to do that just before the next election. I mean who can blame them, because it's all they have left. For heaven's sake, it's all they have left.

They promised to fix health care. That was their number one promise in the last election. Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you remember that. I remember it. I have the radio ad which I would be pleased to share with anybody on that side who forgets. Or there is the blue book, because that particular promise is repeated time after time after time. I have all the Premier's speeches from the last election campaign and he said it over and over and over again, we will fix health care. That's our number one priority. It is now and it always will be.

Well, Mr. Speaker, very few of the people in my constituency that I talked to actually believe that this government has fixed health care. In fact, none. I haven't talked to a single person who thinks that this crowd has done what they've promised. So who could blame them for wanting to deliver a tax cut before the next election, because what is left? What, after all, is left? You have a secretive, mean-spirited government, fixated on politically- motivated bottom lines.

For heaven's sake, they're raising the tax burden on our seniors. Again, I go back to the Seniors' Pharmacare. Who can blame them, Mr. Speaker, for wanting to promise that in the next election. What they have left out is that their friends, the rich, will get benefits worth thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and one-third of all tax filers will get nothing and another quarter will get $100 or less. This from the government that has raised taxes and user fees since coming into office by $223 million, at least, and counting. That's not even counting all the indirect offloading.

Now, how much did that government promise in the last election they were going to raise taxes and fees? Anybody? (Interruption) The member for Dartmouth North, as he is so often, is right again. The answer is nothing. They made not a single promise in the last election of raising taxes and user fees. They did not promise that at all and it has gone up by $223 million and it's even worse than that, Mr. Speaker, because of who it is that's bearing the burden of these tax increases. It is the people who, getting hit again, are the people who are less well off, because almost all, almost 100 per cent of the increase in taxes and user fees that this government has imposed have been flat rates so that everybody pays the same.

[8:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, that extra $11 for my driver's license, I think I can afford. I do have that much unallocated money in my budget and so I can pay it and that's okay with me. But I don't mind telling you that there are people in my constituency who do not have $11 to spare. These would be the people on social assistance, the people who, not just the dozens, I am

[Page 8654]

sorry to say, in the hundreds, visit the food bank that is located in my constituency. They're the ones who have to pay the same amount as David Mann or Lois Dyer Mann. Nova Scotia's million dollar power couple who are going to be paying the same $11 that they are.

So this government's version of tax fairness is when you want to jack up the rates, you charge the same to everybody - rich, poor or somewhere in the middle. But when you want to give a tax cut, suddenly it's progressive so that the more you earn, the more you're going to get back, Mr. Speaker. One-third of all Nova Scotians get nothing from the Tory tax cut, which is still on the table and one-quarter get $100 or less. This from a government that has charged $223 million and counting in higher taxes and user fees.

Finally, Mr. Speaker, on things that are good in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, don't even get me started on the things that aren't good. There's a change in the liability rules surrounding the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission. Of course, I defy anyone to tell me what the thread is running through that provision, which deals with civil liability, and the rest of the taxing measures in the Financial Measures (2002) Act. But, however, the Speaker has ruled that the government is entitled to slam all these bills together if they choose to and so I guess they can. They can do it, so they do.

Now I want to turn, Mr. Speaker, after talking about some of the things that are good in the Financial Measures (2002) Act to some of the things that are, well, bad. I see my time marching along and I'm only just getting starting, although I have a feeling that the members on that side are going to be hearing a little bit more from me on this bill before it passes through the House. Let's talk about secrecy, which I suggested earlier is one of the threads running through the bill. It doesn't explain all of the changes, but it certainly explains many of them.

There are those changes to the Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. Mr. Speaker, I'm normally a relatively humble person, but I say, with all humility, that there aren't very many people in this House who know more about freedom of information than I do. I will tell you why. It's because I have been on every side of that legislation. When it first came in, I was inside government and I was the Freedom of Information Coordinator for the unit of government in which I worked. So I saw freedom of information requests on the receiving end. I went through all the government-sponsored training and I got to know the Act pretty well. Then I left government and I became a requester in private life. In order to further some work I was doing, I started filing requests as a private citizen. I saw what it was like to be on the sending end as a private citizen who was fully on the hook for all the fees that the government wanted to charge me and to see the way that they dragged their feet and didn't really give out any information, if they didn't want to.

Then, laterally, Mr. Speaker, I went to work for the NDP caucus and became a very frequent user of freedom of information and became intimately familiar with all the ways that government had of hiding information. I can tell you that the reason that I am so supportive

[Page 8655]

of freedom of information is a reason that seems to have escaped this government entirely and that is that a well-functioning Freedom of Information Act leads to better government. It leads to better government when citizens are fully informed. There was, a couple of years ago, one freedom of information co-ordinator who understood this and I don't mind saying who it was, it was Bruce Cameron who at the time was in the Department of Finance. He understood that the best way to deal with citizens' questions was to answer them immediately and fully and make sure that the citizen understood exactly what it was that they were getting so there were no misunderstandings. That, Mr. Speaker, did more to quell any stories coming out of freedom of information from the Department of Finance than any other strategy the department could have adopted.

Few people, I would dare say, have learned from Bruce Cameron's example. Certainly not this government. This is the government that is fighting the NDP caucus all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada over budget-related information from not this year, not last, but the year before. Dragging us through the courts to give us information that we think we deserve. It's not just us who think we should get it. Nova Scotia's highest court said that by law we're entitled to this information and still the government is fighting us all the way to the Supreme Court of Canada.

They know, as I do, that by jacking up the fees for freedom of information, they're going to be discouraging citizens who cannot afford these fees from getting information. I will say it again, there is no better way to have good government than to have a fully informed electorate who can engage the government in debate. That's what democracy is - it's about the tumult of ideas, the tumult of voices and getting out of those voices and out of that debate the best ideas for us all to go forward. Does the government support that? No, they're clamping down on it.

They're outlawing hospital provider contracts without really giving any information to anybody about what exactly it is they're outlawing. Clearly this provision of the Financial Measures (2002) Act is designed to deal with certain existing contracts. Do we know which ones? No. The Minister of Health hasn't said, the Minister of Finance hasn't said, we don't know. The government needs to be a little bit more open about that particular provision.

Then there's all the changes in financial accountability. The Minister of Finance loves to talk about financial accountability but what he's doing in this bill again is making his government not more accountable, but less accountable. This is the minister who breaks the requirement in the Provincial Finance Act to issue quarterly statements because last year he issued two. In the Provincial Finance Act it says the minister shall issue quarterly forecasts and updates. In my limited world, quarterly means four times a year. Last year the minister issued two. He tries to dress that up by including in the Financial Measures (2002) Act a requirement that it be issued at four specific times during the year. If the minister can just ignore what's already there willy-nilly, which he has done, how does it help for him to specify the times of year when these financial reports are going to be issued? He's repealing

[Page 8656]

a provision that requires him to have a resolution debated in the House when the government requires excess appropriations. He's repealing that and not replacing it with anything better. There is less financial accountability as a result of this bill, not more.

Let me turn then to another possible thread that I would like to suggest as a theme running through the Financial Measures (2002) Act. That would be meanness. Just straight out, plain old mean spiritedness. More than one of my constituents, as I'm knocking on doors on the weekend, used that word without prompting from me. What I've been doing, my strategy has been to open the conversation with a very neutral question, not to say, here's what I think, what do you think, but just to give them a very neutral question and see what their reaction is. The reaction is overwhelmingly contrary to what this government is doing. A few people, even without any prompting from me, used the adjective, mean, when describing this government.

Let me give you a few examples of how this government is mean. There was the transition house cut, but that's been dealt with in another forum. That was mean - unjustified. The minister had no idea what he was doing until the people involved in those transition houses and those women's centres told him what the implications were of what he was doing. I'm not sure whether that was mean or he just didn't know what he was doing.

But it's another example, at the very best, of what the Auditor General talked about in his last report, of this government doing things without knowing what the consequences are. That's why the Auditor General said that we are potentially facing another Walkerton and another Westray in Nova Scotia, because this government is cutting and reorganizing in ways - they don't know the consequences. That's not just me saying that; that's the Auditor General of Nova Scotia saying that.

Let me talk about meanness, Mr. Speaker. There are few things in the budget, in a mean-spirited budget, more out-and-out mean than the increase in the fee for international adoptions. In fact, last week I saw a clarification in the newspaper; the increase is actually more than anybody thought, because on budget day the government announced that the increase was from $75 to $600. It was only last week, I guess when somebody started asking questions, that it became apparent that it's not $75 to $600, but $75 to $675. It's not increased to $600; it's an increase of a total of $600.

The people who are involved in this just say there is no justification for it. It doesn't raise very much money. There's no known justification for it. The department apparently claims that this is the cost of processing the paperwork, but I would have thought there would be a lot of fees out there, in a government obsessed with raising user fees, that would be less mean-spirited than raising the fee for international adoptions. I just wonder if it's based on some kind of premise that anybody who would adopt internationally has to be well off, so they can afford it.

[Page 8657]

Mr. Speaker, let me tell you right here, right now, that that's not true. Just last week, one block away from the Legislature, here in downtown Halifax, I ran into an old friend I hadn't seen for a number of years and we talked. This is what the conversation turned to. Her brother - who's not that well off, he's a civil servant; he doesn't get paid a lot of money, I won't try to identify which unit of government he works in, but he doesn't get paid a lot - has applied for international adoption, and this new fee is a real burden for him. It's a real hurdle. Why would the government pick on the fee for international adoptions to raise it, what would it be, 800 per cent, 900 per cent, something in that range?

What about ambulance fees? Let me talk about ambulance fees, which is a topic very dear to my heart. This government has no idea what it's doing on ambulance fees. It has no idea. I can cite example after example of that, because, as most of the members on that side would know, I've taken this on as a cause because the Auditor General pointed out over a year ago that the government had no apparent legal authority for charging ambulance fees. I just thought that it is wrong for government to feel that they can charge whatever they want to whoever they want. They need to have legal authority to do it.

But the government didn't seem in a hurry to do anything about it. So I said, okay, I'm going to do something about it. I think the government needs a sharp reminder that if they're going to charge taxes and fees to their citizens, they need to have legal authority. So there was one Canadian Press news story that said I was interested in hearing from people. I've heard from dozens. Mr. Speaker, the calls are still coming in, well over a month later, totally unprompted by me, from people who are upset with ambulance fees. I was talking to another woman about it today with a new story I had never heard before and I was talking to another one yesterday with a new story that I'd never heard before.

This government doesn't know what it's doing on ambulance fees. I've pointed out to the Minister of Health how unfair and unreasonable some of these fees are. What does the Minister of Health say he's going to do about it? Nothing. All the Financial Measures (2002) Act does is allow the government to retroactively legalize the ambulance fees it is already charging.

[9:00 p.m.]

I don't know if honourable members on that side of the House realize just how rare retroactive legislation is. There's a very good reason why it's extremely rare, why courts don't allow it unless the words are express in the legislation, because it's simply unfair for governments to reach into the past and change the law so that it's something different from what it was when the events actually happened, but that's exactly what this government is doing in the Financial Measures (2002) Act.

[Page 8658]

Do you think there's anything in the Financial Measures (2002) Act to deal with the remaining issues of unfairness and unreasonableness, Mr. Speaker? No, not a word, not one solitary word. What about the collection letters sent to children? Is the minister going to do anything about that? No. What about the collection letter sent to a person under what's called a legal disability, a person with a mental handicap? The collection agency was told that she had a legal guardian and not to contact her directly, and the collection agency kept calling the person under legal disability. What's the minister going to do about that? Well, apparently nothing. I wrote to him about all these cases on March 13th and still haven't heard a word and, his attitude in the estimates on his budget, I can only describe as contemptuous - just contemptuous - he has no plans to make any changes to the way ambulance fees are administered in the province.

What about the case that I heard today of the student at Dalhousie University who happens to be from Ontario who needed an ambulance? Never mind that the ambulance just went a few blocks. That's another issue for another day. He really literally lives a few blocks from the VG site of the QE II but, because he's from out-of-province, he's charged $500. Now he's supposed to claim it against OHIP, but he has no guarantee that they will actually pay, because I have another Ontario case where OHIP has said, no, we are not paying, you're on your own for that $500. Will the government take that into account and reduce it to the regular rate of $85? No.

The problem is that even OHIP is saying even if we were going to pay this, which we're not committing to, you pay the bill up front and we will reimburse you sometime down the road. The problem is this student doesn't have any money; he doesn't have $500 just kicking around with nothing to do. Do you think this government would do something sensible like directly bill the Province of Ontario? No. I asked the minister if he'd do that. No, people are on their own.

What about the cases of more than one person going in an ambulance? I heard another one just the other day. There were two people in the ambulance, father and daughter, neither of them hurt, but because there are two people in the ambulance and a motor vehicle is involved, it's $500 each. One of the test cases that I've challenged the minister on involves four people and two ambulances. So there is one car accident with nobody hurt and the bill is $2,000. What's the Minister of Health going to do about it? Apparently nothing. He's going to sic the collection agency on these people.

I'm only touching the tip of the iceberg, Mr. Speaker. This government doesn't know what it's doing on ambulance fees, because the reason that it charges $500 where a motor vehicle is involved is because it's supposed to be payable through the car insurance company. The problem is that's not what happens. I have several cases proving that that's not what happens, and is the Minister of Health listening? He's not listening. Is the Minister of Health going to do anything about it? No. His buddies at the Insurance Bureau of Canada come out the next day in the paper and say, no, no. It's simply not possible that if you submit a bill for

[Page 8659]

an ambulance fee that your premium would go up. That's what they said, and people took them at face value and said well, the Insurance Bureau of Canada, they must know what they're talking about.

Here's what happened, Mr. Speaker. I called the Insurance Bureau of Canada and said, well, what about these cases I have? Here are the facts, and they're telling me their premium's going to go up. What's going on here? What the Insurance Bureau of Canada came back with was a significant back step from their position quoted in the paper. They tried to divide the premium among different items and said, okay, the section B premium won't go up, but if they're getting any kind of a discount for being a good driver, sorry, that could go up.

So the Insurance Bureau of Canada is acknowledging that car insurance premiums can go up if you submit this $500 ambulance bill, even though the minister has said, and the Insurance Bureau of Canada is quoted as saying, it couldn't happen. It does happen, it has happened, it is happening and the Minister of Health and the Minister of Finance and this government just don't seem to care. They want to close their eyes and pretend it's not going on, but it is. I'm sure the members on that side of the House know it because dozens of the people who have contacted me are in their constituencies. I had one call from Yarmouth, I had another call in the constituency of the member for Annapolis, I had another call from the constituency of the member for Kings West and of the member for Pictou East, I had calls from all over Halifax and Dartmouth, I had people down the South Shore, I had people up in Cape Breton. All over this province people are upset with ambulance fees, and what is this government's answer? Too bad. We're really sad but we need the money.

Mr. Speaker, this government is just mean; just plain old mean. We won't even mention, in terms of meanness, the suspending the one year notice of municipal downloads, something this government promised they would never do. Well, guess what, Mr. Speaker. They did it, they just did it. They socked the municipalities with a million dollars of new costs. In this Financial Measures (2002) Act they are suspending the requirement that any download have one year's notice. They are doing it on the basis that the municipalities are net winners out of this whole thing, but they're not. This government took away just about as much money as they gave. That is the principle I could suggest for this bill, Mr. Speaker, although it only explains some of the provisions so, in addition to secrecy, I would suggest the principle just plain old, flat out meanness.

There's also this government's tendencies for central control, which are a dominant theme of the Financial Measures (2002) Act, but certainly doesn't explain it all. There is the Education Act changes, which I am sure will be debated in due course, changes that have no place in a Financial Measures Act, Mr. Speaker, they belong in amendments to the Education Act introduced by the Minister of Education and duly debated by this House. They have no place in the Financial Measures (2002) Act.

[Page 8660]

As my colleague, the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage said, there are many of these changes that we can support. This doesn't change the fact they don't belong in the Financial Measures (2002) Act. There is one change that we're not so sure that we can't support and that is the change to do what the Minister of Education dreams of, and that is to make it very easy to take over school boards throughout Nova Scotia.

They've changed the Act, in fact it's one of the simplest legislative changes that I've seen or can imagine, to change the word "and" to "or". It's in the Financial Measures (2002) Act, and just looking at it it's hard to see what the implication is, but what it does is it gives the Minister of Education a hammer over every school board so that now she can say to them, do what I say or I'm going to take over your operations. She can say, look, I've got the power now, I didn't have it before, but I've got it now. If you take one step out of line - even, Mr. Speaker, I would go so far as to say she could say to the school boards, if you criticize me or my department I'm going to take you over. Because the conditions that would have to be met in order for the minister to take over school boards now are very subjective and could be met under virtually any circumstances. Any allegation would do, pretty much, in terms of taking over school boards. Now, Mr. Speaker, just lately Nova Scotia school boards haven't covered themselves with glory, particularly in the Strait, but I'm not sure that that justifies changing our legislation so that the minister can, with the stroke of a pen, take over any school board in Nova Scotia at any time and even go so far as to say, if you don't do things my way or if you criticize me, I'm taking you over.

If we're on the theme of central control, there's the whole issue of the Arts Council. For some reason, the minister thinks that exercising central control over the Arts Council is going to somehow improve administration. Artists from one end of this province to the other know that it's not true. They know that the arm's length principle is under attack. In fact, I'm sure they were not encouraged by the comments in the paper on Sunday from members of the Tory backbench who - when asked to review a list of Arts Council grants, two out of the three of them, Mr. Speaker, said that they were concerned that not enough of the grants had gone to their constituencies. That's exactly what the arm's-length Arts Council was designed to get away from, where the grants are given on the basis of geography instead of artistic merit.

AN HON. MEMBER: Or political consideration.

MR. STEELE: Or political considerations, like the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley suggesting that he didn't like the sound, not just the art, which he hadn't seen, but he didn't like the sound of it. He didn't like the title and so he really thought he was not sure if, in fact, it was appropriate to give that grant. That's exactly what the Arts Council is designed to get away from.

[Page 8661]

Mr. Speaker, I am only just getting started, I really am, but my time is drawing to a close. There is so much else that needs to be discussed and so many things that have to be worked through, so many consequences, that I really think this House needs six months to consider it. Therefore, I move: "That the motion be amended by removing all the words following 'that' and inserting therefor the words: Bill No. 109, the Financial Measures (2002) Act, be not now read a second time but that it be read a second time this day six months hence." Thank you. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please, or the honourable members can remove themselves from the room. The honourable member for Halifax Fairview has moved an amendment to Bill No. 109, a six-month hoist. The motion is in order.

The honourable member for Lunenburg West.

MR. DONALD DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to stand and rise in my place to speak on the six months' hoist of the bill. I think it's appropriate that we have six months to analyze exactly what's going to happen, and I'll give you a good case in point, the issue of transition houses and so on and so forth with the Minister of Community Services. I'm sure in six months we will know a lot more about whether or not there's going to be a program for battered women and children in the Province of Nova Scotia that will meet the requirements of those areas of the province that have those facilities. I think if we waited six months, we would have more understanding of the exact plan of what the minister is proposing for Nova Scotians. We will have a better understanding of whether or not, for example, we're not going to be merging the men's centres and the women's centres as one unit.

[9:15 p.m.]

It just doesn't work. We have a better understanding of how they can (Interruption) Well maybe the Minister of Justice wants the Bridgewater area to have the men's centre in with Harbour House. If that is what the minister is saying, I think the Minister of Justice should wake up and smell some coffee here and realize that that just doesn't work. Of all the people in this room who should know better, the Minister of Justice is the one who should know better than that. Shame on that Minster of Justice over there talking about (Interruption) He seems to have this fascination about his ideas being the only good ideas. Thank goodness he's not saying any more about the issue.

Clearly maybe if we had six months to analyze we would know more of the exact plan the Minister of Community Services has with regard to the future of treatment facilities and safe homes and residential houses for men and women, I think that is an important point to be made.

AN HON. MEMBER: And children.

[Page 8662]

MR. DOWNE: And children of course. Another reason to hoist this bill for six months would also allow, notwithstanding it's probably going to allow some 24-hour discussion in the Legislature, but besides that I think what it will also do is allow us time to try and convince the minister responsible for the Arts Council how huge a mistake he's really making.

You know he is just a rookie MLA, a rookie Cabinet Minister and I'm sure that if he had six months to ponder the decision with regard to annihilating the Nova Scotia Arts Council as we know it, he would probably change his mind. He would probably say my gosh, I've made a mistake. I've tried very hard to do a good job, but I realize now that we've had six months to plan and assess - he's made a mistake, and I will talk about that a little bit later in my presentation as well.

AN HON. MEMBER: The right decision.

MR. DOWNE: The right decision, I hear. I hear the government backbenchers saying that it's the right decision. It's a right decision; it's a right decision. Well, it's interesting, there are a lot of Nova Scotians who live in rural Nova Scotia saying it isn't a right decision. They don't understand. Nova Scotians aren't smart enough to understand, I guess is what you are saying. I think that Nova Scotians are smarter than a lot of people give them credit for because they understand in spades. I think they understand in spades that the minister's decision on annihilating the Nova Scotia Arts Council is wrong, and I think Nova Scotians will be showing that over the days and weeks ahead.

AN HON. MEMBER: They will have a say.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I think that Nova Scotians will have a say is exactly right. We will all have a say on that particular matter. You know what was interesting in the debate? The minister kept referring to the fact that it was an OIC decision; it was a Cabinet decision. It was a fiscal decision, it was a Cabinet decision - as if he was starting to feel guilty and he wanted to hide behind the ultimate decision maker, and that is the Minister of Finance who said minister you have to find X number of dollars - I don't care how you do it, whether you annihilate the Arts Council or not, it doesn't matter to me, just find the money. The poor Minister of Tourism and Culture probably just said to himself, my gosh, I will hide behind the OIC and blame it on a Cabinet decision.

Well the bottom line is it is the Minister of Finance's responsibility to allocate the dollars, but it is also the Minister of Tourism and Culture's responsibility to fight for his department. I think the decision to eliminate the Nova Scotia Arts Council will be the decision that will be undoubtedly a decision and a platform for the next election campaign; it will be one of the issues that will be on the campaign docket.

[Page 8663]

Unless that minister wakes up to the realization of what's happening, you've got two Parties over here saying that they would reinstate the Nova Scotia Arts Council to be an arm's-length body of government. We said as a Liberal Party that we would do that. Obviously if this minister does not change his mind, then the Progressive Conservative Party will be on the election campaign within the next number of months saying that they will not put in place an Arts Council at arm's-length of government, but instead they'll have a political influence on the outcome on the Nova Scotia arts community. That will be their platform position. It will be interesting to see how well they do in the HRM area and throughout some of the rural communities in the Province of Nova Scotia.

I think if we had six months to discuss this, the good, young minister over there, as new as he is to this business, might, might come to the realization that he might have made a mistake and that he could correct that problem.

AN HON. MEMBER: There could be a Cabinet shuffle and get somebody else in there.

MR. DOWNE: Well, yes, we've all been understanding there's going to be a Cabinet shuffle at some time. I don't know if it is ever going to happen, but I think what the Premier's probably concerned about is just trying to keep the backbenchers together long enough to vote on this budget. As nervous as he is over there, I'm sure, no wonder, he's probably under a great deal of stress that there's a number of those backbenchers back there are saying, my gosh, I can't support this, I can't possibly support this.

Minister, are you alright? Oh, I'm sorry (Interruptions) I would like to say one thing - not too many members in this House can take as much as that minister that just walked out that door. Amen. Do I hear amen? Absolutely. (Interruption). Yeah.

So, anyway, I'm here to talk on the hoist. It's a bit of déjà vu all over again. Only last year, we were here discussing a budget that could have been balanced if the minister had the strength and the desire to do so; he could have balanced the budget. He admits that. He could have balanced and he didn't. We argued with him, even a number of organizations throughout the province indicated to the minister that he could have balanced it, but last year he argued, no. No, no, we can't do that, so ironically enough, this year the government says the balance is budget (Laughter) The budget is balanced. It's late, Mr. Speaker, it's late. The government is not in balance, the government itself is out of balance, they're out of control. They're actually so far out of control that there's a chap that told me one time that they're in a bad cycle - I think you called me out of order once before for using the term I used, so I won't use it, but it's a real . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Spell it.

[Page 8664]

MR. DOWNE: No, he would call me out of order for that. But you know, they're really in trouble. Now they're saying that the budget is balanced, yet the average Nova Scotian is asking the question, how can you say when you borrow more money than you spend that you're in balance. How can you do that? I think the Minister of Justice over there, even the Minister of Justice, as articulate as he is, could never figure out quite how to argue that point in Lunenburg County. When he goes down to Lunenburg County and he's out talking to the farmers and the fishermen and the guys that work in the woods and he says, yep, you know, if you borrow more money than you take in, if you spend more than you take in, you're balanced and they're all going to look at him and say, oh yeah, oh yeah. You can tell you're a lawyer, maybe that's just the way it is, but the average person back in Lunenburg County, they have to work and every dollar they get in, they figure out exactly how to pay those bills and at the end if they don't have enough money, they say, oh my gosh, we're in trouble. We're in trouble. We can't pay the mortgage off at one time, but at this point in time they keep wanting to go and borrow even more money. In fact, they're borrowing $273,000 a day more than they're taking in - $273,000 a day more than they're taking in.

So, maybe the six months' hoist would be a time for the minister to admit that when he says the overall budget, the first time in 40 years, is not quite there. The ordinary side, the revenue coming in meets the ordinary expenses, but, by the way, to do that we're going to raise taxes and this Minister of Finance is going to be known truly as the taxman of this decade because he has increased taxes more than any other minister that I know in the provincial government since 1993.

This is the taxman. He increases taxes on anything that moves or crawls, whether it's just born or it's ready to be passed on to the next life. He has increased taxes on virtually every single thing that goes on in Nova Scotia. In fact, he had so many taxes to increase that he had to put a document out weeks before the budget, just to let the first wave of bad news go out to the public. Then he brought out another group, the second wave.

We shouldn't let him forget about issues such as gas taxes, tax on gas. Can you imagine a government that's going to go to an election, and they go on a campaign saying, we will not increase taxes. Well, maybe tobacco, we will do that. That seems to be acceptable among everybody because if it can be deterrent, that's great. But they've gone after, besides the tobacco issue, gas. Everybody who drives a vehicle that burns gas is going to be paying 2 cents more a litre, plus the HST. That's every Nova Scotian who drives in a vehicle, or if they take a cab or whatever, the rates will go up. That's what this minister has done.

Then if you take a ride in an ambulance, gosh, you're going to get hit even harder - dinged again. You are going to get dinged. In fact, if you take an ambulance ride, it can go $85 to $125, I think, for emergency rides, and if you're being transported it goes from $500 to $600. That's the tax, I don't care how you want to look it, how you want to spell it. It's taking the money out of people's pockets who can't afford it.

[Page 8665]

The next thing the minister does is he comes along and he says, well, we're going to go after FOIPOP. Do you remember the Premier in 1999 standing up, the then-Leader of the Third Party, saying, we want our government to be more open and accountable? We will provide the information for Nova Scotians. We want to be transparent. We want to be open like a book. Whatever anybody wants, we will provide. Do you remember those days? Now you have to win the Atlantic Loto to find any information out because it's going to cost you that much to go after information, so-called freedom of information. It's a cost of information, not a freedom of information. If you have money and you can wait long enough and you're tenacious enough to keep going back after them, you might find out some of the information you've been after, information that this government - that's their policy - said they were going to do.What does the Minister of Finance do? He taxes them, from $5.00 to $25.

AN HON. MEMBER: The brown envelopes are still going to be free though.

MR. DOWNE: The brown envelopes - yes, we're getting brown envelopes free. They're still coming. I think they're probably going to come even more before the next election.

I wonder now that Mr. Hendsbee has redesigned Nova Scotia's electoral map if the Minister of Finance is going to find a new way to tax that. In fact, I think if Mr. Hendsbee has his way that the Leader in the House for the Liberal Party will be the member, and the poor Minister of Finance who taxed everybody to death will be going back to the fish plant.

AN HON. MEMBER: He will be gone again.

MR. DOWNE: He will be gone again. He will be back at the lobster pound doing something with the fish industry, which is a great industry I might say. (Interruptions) Anyway, I wonder how they're going to tax Mr. Hendsbee on that issue. I'm sure that the minister will find a way. He will find a way. (Interruptions)

The six months will give us enough time to be able to do that, exactly. What's perhaps even more interesting about this bill is that certain sections of the bill don't, as far as I can determine, deal directly or apply directly with the Financial Measures (2002) Act. What this bill has done, the minister is trying to hide anything and everything in this bill. My colleague, the member for Sackville-Cobequid, tried to split it up. Well, I think you could split this bill up in about eight different sections, because it's not really a financial measure. It's anything and everything this government wants to do in regard to increased taxes, take away rights, cause more heartache for individuals. Whatever it is that they want, it's all in this bill.

[Page 8666]

9:30 p.m.]

Now there are some good things in this bill, too, and I will talk about that later tonight, and over the next number of weeks as we go through this particular hoist and whatever else comes after that. When I do find those areas, I won't say negative things. I will say when things are right that they're good. For example, I think some of the accountabilities that the minister has brought to the educational side, some of those issues are very important and very good. I don't think anybody in this House would disagree on having more accountability with regard to auditing what's going on. That's just a good move; that's just a good, common sense move. The taxpayers deserve to have it and I congratulate the minister for doing it.

At the same time, the minister also, in that particular bill - from a financial measures side - has also given a whole pile of power, a whole bunch more power to the Minister of Education, so much power that in this particular case she, the minister, can make some pretty arbitrary decisions to take over board activities. So six months from now we would have a better understanding of what the intent of that particular side of the bill is all about, but we will get into more detail on that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe in your third hour.

ANOTHER HON. MEMBER: He's still on his first page.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I'm trying to figure out where I am on the first page.

I don't know why this would be the case. Perhaps they don't want to deal with the issues in separate bills. I think that's a good point. If they had to deal with all the different issues that this minister is trying to do under this Financial Measures (2002) Act in individual bills we could be here for a long, long time. I think there could be some very heated debates in this House on each and every one of those issues that the government has brought together under this one bill.

I'm not saying that the minister is not clever, but I don't know why he would have just said to his colleagues, I only want financial measures issues in here, I don't want to deal with a whole bunch of other things. (Interruption)The minister wants to be called clever. We will call him clever. I will call him anything he wants to be called because, I know one thing, most of the adjectives that he's referred to outside are not as nice as what he's getting inside the House, Mr. Speaker.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not quite parliamentary language.

MR. DOWNE: Not quite parliamentary language. But I will call him whatever he wants to be called. He is a minister who has an ego. Some might say an ego so big that nobody else can fit in the room. But whether he has that big an ego or not, he does have a bill

[Page 8667]

that's bigger than it should be. He has a bill that's bigger than the room that we're in. I think the minister should reconsider what's in that bill.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member said that I had an ego that's bigger than this whole room. If I do have such an ego, I must have inherited it from the previous minister.

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order, but it's a point brought forward by the Minister of Finance.

AN HON. MEMBER: I don't think that's a point of order.

MR. SPEAKER: It was not. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: Mr. Speaker, we are here today and I'm here to tell you that there will be continuations of protest about this particular minister's financial bill and the budget itself, whether it's to deal with women's centres - and we're not clear on that - or whether it's to deal with the Arts Council or whether it's to deal with the new taxation regimes, whatever. Sooner or later, people are going to continue to come down to this place and say we're not happy with what this minister has done.

We have the Minister of Education who has predetermined the outcome of the negotiations. Do you know they're going to get 2 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent? I believe that's what's in the budget, 6 per cent - 2 per cent, 2 per cent and 2 per cent. There are some teachers, retired teachers or teachers who are on sabbatical or whatever they call it - a leave of absence from the profession. I think this is probably the first time that we've had these kinds of negotiations take place under a Financial Measures Bill. Is that the first time? I think it's a first for this minister.

AN HON. MEMBER: We had the nurses last year.

MR. DOWNE: Have you ever seen it done before?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, never.

MR. DOWNE: Have any of my colleagues ever seen it done before? (Interruptions) We've got things in here that deal with the Bridge Commission.

AN HON. MEMBER: What? No.

MR. DOWNE: Yes, the Bridge Commission.

[Page 8668]

AN HON. MEMBER: What are they doing to the Bridge Commission?

MR. DOWNE: Well, some people criticize the lights on the bridge. I happen to like the lights on the bridge; they give a little touch of class to the community. I've had a lot of people comment about that. They're going to have some limitations on assets that are being sold.

I'm not quite sure of this, and I'm sure the minister, over the next six months, will be able to clarify this point, but when they sell off assets for more than $100,000, they can sell those if they want. The question is, where does the money go? Does it go into general revenue? Does it allow the Bridge Commission to take that and buy some new equipment if required? We don't know. Six months from now we would have a better understanding of that.

AN HON. MEMBER: Debt retirement?

MR. DOWNE: Well, debt retirement would be a huge windfall for us all. That bridge has been around a long time. We've been financing it for a long time, and we're going to continue to do that.

There is lots of information in regard to the health services side of this budget. Hospitals can't go out and have any kind of binding agreements. We're going to find out more about the Department of Health and the services that it provides. There are some questions about rural recruitment programs and whether or not this Minister of Finance is actually hurting the potential for rural recruitment in this particular section dealing with Health. I know that when we have our six months to debate this, we'll know more at the end of that period of time about exactly what impact the changes to the health services will have with regard to recruitment programs.

I know one thing; we had an ear, nose and throat specialist for the South Shore wanting to come. He and his spouse were down; they loved the area. They thought it was a beautiful area, Bridgewater and the surrounding area. They went over to Queens County. They loved Queens County. We've been looking for an ENT specialist for a long time. But you know, we tried to recruit him, and we've been trying to do our best to recruit him. We had him that close to being there.

All of a sudden, the Minister of Health shut down the pediatric wing in the South Shore Regional Hospital to the extent that we don't know where their beds are going to be and how many are actually going to be there. I know they're under negotiations. Do you know what? The sad part about it is that we have lost the ENT specialist. That ENT specialist is important for the whole South Shore, and we don't have him. As a regional hospital, we do not have an ENT specialist.

[Page 8669]

We're also going to learn more about ambulance fees and the ability of this minister to basically increase fees arbitrarily. I talked to some seniors who said to me that $100 is a lot of money; $600 is a lot more. The way this minister is doing it, one would have to say that he's saying it's going to be fine; it's a legitimate cost and it should be a receivable back or a recoverable cost. What I hear people say is it's no more than a tax; another tax that this Minister of Finance is doing. Another tax on Nova Scotians, whether you're sick or being transported because you cannot get from point A to point B for medical treatments and so on and so forth, it's a tax that you're going to be paying.

It's interesting as we contemplate and debate the issue of the future of health care, it's evident, it's right before our eyes what these guys would like to do is get more into the privatization aspect every day.

They also talk about rural recruitment, that the recruitment will only stay with the minister. Well, I question that. I think there's another area that I want to find out if we had six months to be able to determine it and that is we have some areas where the municipalities are actually paying the Department of Health's budget. I don't even know how that fits into the overall federal policies or not - you know, the Health Act? I don't know how that works, or does that start setting a precedent saying that municipalities from now on will start paying for costs associated with running hospitals? I wonder what that's going to do for the poorer areas of the province that do not have all that extra money to do that. Are we setting a precedent in this area? One would have to ask the question of the minister - this is the Minister of Finance that has a lot of these concerns in the budget and I don't know if they're being properly addressed.

We talk about the issue of education and we talked about the audits as being a good idea - the conflict of interest issues are important and I compliment the minister. But one of the concerns that comes up is the deferral on maintenance. If the government takes over the power, are they also going to take over the board itself, are they also going to take over the responsibility of maintenance? This minister borrows - I don't know if I've ever mentioned this or not - $273,000 a day, or $100 million this year - how is he going to deal with the issue of deferred maintenance? Because there are areas in this province where boards have maybe not spent the money on maintenance in the areas that they should have. Or maybe they never had it to spend. Whatever the case may be, the issue is, who's going to deal with deferred maintenance? I certainly hope that six months from now we will have the answers to those questions because I'm sure that would be a good one for us to go through.

In Clause 10, under the education component, education is a huge issue. How come all of a sudden education is a Financial Measures (2002) Act in the fact that now in Clause 10 we're talking about the school boards can't do a commercial activity without the minister's approval? Now we're saying we're going to allow - not this minister - the Minister of Education to deal with financial matters associated directly with the ability for local boards to try to create some revenue. There have to be checks and balances, but the way this

[Page 8670]

is now, this is a government that said, less red tape and more openness and so on and so forth.

They're going after corporations of unlimited liability from the United States. Another new tax, $2,000 for incorporation - $1,000 for the registry each year - $3,000. I'm not familiar with how many companies that would represent. I don't know what signal that sends, I haven't checked with the Chamber of Commerce and some of the other business communities to find out if this is a good measure or a bad measure. One has to ask the question, does this send a signal that we in Nova Scotia are open for business or is it just the rent of somebody? Is it that we should tax corporations to death so that they never come here? I don't know, but we know that over the next six months we will have some answers to that question and the minister will undoubtedly be able to explain that.

We're even going after the whole issue of registry of Off-highway Vehicles Act. This is another one. I'm sure the Minister of Finance has stayed up many, many nights worrying about the Off-highway Vehicles Act, the ability to be able to register the off-highway vehicles. I'm sure this is a major measure that he felt was pressing on him to bring forward to this Legislature under this bill. Well, really, what it is, they want to be able to control and know who's buying what vehicles and that they can tax them. That's why I call him the tax man. He's good at taxing people.

[9:45 p.m.]

This is the same government that has said to us since 1999 - you remember, somebody else - read my lips, no new taxes. Well, we've got more new taxes every single day, and you know what? More yet to come, because the minister has not ruled out the fact that with a $2.3 million sleeve in his budget that if things go sideways or things aren't working as well as he had hoped that new taxes could very well be the tune of the day. We might not have the arts community wanting to play it, but we will have the tune of the day, more new taxes.

You know, for the business people who are part of that Conservative Government, I remember talking to those people saying, by gosh, we're not going to have new taxes as a government, we're going to reduce red tape and we are going to lower taxes, we are not going to increase taxes. That was only a little while ago, and where are we now? Probate fees are up 10 per cent. Now you tell me what justifies the 10 per cent increase in probate. I'm sure the Minister of Justice, in the next six months, will probably try to be able to explain that to us - I don't know if he can or not - and to explain it so it's not a tax. It's just a 10 per cent increase, whether it's justified or not but, anyway, we will have six months on this hoist resolution to be able to debate whether or not it is a tax and what it's all about.

The Provincial Finance Act has been dealing with a lot of issues. It's got everything from soup to nuts, as an old expression would go. It even deals with workers' compensation. The insurance corporate rate is going from approximately 80 per cent to 91 per cent. I

[Page 8671]

wonder what that does to the private sector. What does that do to the business community; private sector community? Does that mean that they're going to end up paying more? I think in six months we will know that. You know we're downloading more costs to the individuals who work in the woods or who fish or work in construction.

I also understand that the minister's - where the department was actually paying, I think it was $1.2 million as its contribution to WCB. Now that's all being charged back against WCB and they're paying the full bill. That means, again, the business community will feel the effect of that because undoubtedly that will be passed on as a cost to the program. The unfunded liability - that has been brought up here before - will start to grow, and it's started to grow. That means that rates will increase.

This is a government that's doing an awful lot to create an environment so the economy doesn't grow, and the Minister of Finance knows, back in 1993 when the government changed, the economy was at 0.7 of 1 per cent. It was like flatline. The economy was in a serious state and it took a lot of hard work and innovative thinking, thinking beyond what we've seen of late, to create opportunities for economic growth in Nova Scotia. We haven't seen that in the last while. What we've seen is a government that's tried to ride the coattails, or the crest of the wave of what a previous administration had put in motion. (Interruptions). Mr. Speaker, I heard that.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Whether something is on the record or not, I think if I, as Speaker, hear a comment that is made in the House that I take great exception to, I would ask the honourable member to rise in his place and withdraw that comment and apologize.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, I ask you again to rise in your place and apologize for the comments you made in the House.

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, I guess I will rise in my place and apologize for the comment, but I must say that it's very frustrating listening to the repetitive (Interruption)

MR. SPEAKER: I appreciate the honourable member's withdrawal of the comment. The honourable member for Lunenburg West has the floor.

MR. DOWNE: I thank the member for apologizing to the House. Sometimes, you know, in this business, people get a little worked up about things and things are said. Lots of people get worked up about what goes on and I appreciate and accept the member's apology. I accept that and I want to say that.

[Page 8672]

Let's go on more about the bill. We talk about the insurance Act, we talk about the municipalities. I remember very well that we are going to work with the municipalities. We are not going to be downloading to the municipalities. We're not going to hurt the municipalities. We're going to do everything in our power to make it better for the municipalities. It seems to me that was part of the election campaign. What do we have in this bill? Well, I have to tell you, we've got everything in here. If you drive a registered truck in the municipality, you're now going to be taxed because you're going to have to pay a special fee for your license plate as a member of the municipality. I think there was an agreement that the former minister made, that you had to give one year's notice before there's any major change in any downloading. It seems to me that the now Premier and government agreed to that, one year's notice.

You know what? My gosh, what we're dealing with in this bill tonight is the ability to waive that. We just want to forget that. Don't worry about it, municipalities. It was a good idea to wait a year, but we changed our mind. What we're going to do is just kind of forget about that and we're going to charge you to register your vehicles. Another downloading, another tax. I understand they're going to do that with the federal government. I'm not quite clear, but I think even provincial departments are going to be paying for license plates, as well. I know that we will find out more about that in the six months that we're going to be debating this bill, if we can go that long.

We talked about the fact that fuel taxes are going up. It seems like if you drive, you're really in trouble because not only are you going to be paying two cents more for your gas, then you're going to pay the tax on top of that, driver's license fees are going to go up in Nova Scotia. The motor vehicle registration is going to go up. It goes on and on. I think the fee increases, some people say, well, they're not that much. But from $49 to $60, that's an $11 increase for what? The cost of plastic hasn't gone up. The cost of taking a picture shouldn't have gone up. It is basically the same, administrative costs. But an $11 increase for the little card? I didn't bring any cards with me, Mr. Speaker, because you mentioned to me before that I can't use that prop. But if Nova Scotians are home watching this, just take out your driver's license and look at the card and ask yourself, why is that going to cost $11 more?

They say it's not a tax. Well, Nova Scotians are going to say, gosh, that's got to be a tax. That's an $11 tax on that card this year, on top of the two cents a litre and the HST. Then we have the registration for vehicles, fees from $88 to $148 per vehicle.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's more than $11.

MR. DOWNE: That's a lot more than $11. That's $60 more than it was, a $60 increase. How many people are going to appreciate paying $60 more? (Interruptions) There are more surprises coming that we haven't even seen. This is only what they've shown us.

[Page 8673]

Fees and Cost Recoveries. There should be just two big words, New Taxes. That's what he should put on the top, New Taxes, Minister of Finance. That's what they should have on, New Taxes. User fees and cost recovery, you could call it user fees, you could call it cost recovery, you can call it anything you want to call it. The bottom line is, Nova Scotians know one thing, this government is doing everything in their power to take dollars out of their pockets and put it in the Treasury of the Province of Nova Scotia, so that they can misspend the money the way they want. Nova Scotians are saying, just a minute, that's not what I elected. I didn't want them to do that. They promised us they wouldn't do that.

Nova Scotians have a good long memory on this issue, and they will say, when the members on the backbench go around knocking on doors. I haven't even talked about the truckers. There's a 40 per cent increase to the trucking industry in the Province of Nova Scotia. I know that you have members over there who are concerned for the trucking industry, legitimately concerned. They are concerned because they realize that that business, those individuals who drive those trucks, those men and women, are on the verge of bankruptcy all the time. It's a tough business.

Now they're going to be paying a 40 per cent increase. I have truckers in my riding who are very upset that this government has done this. I know they have members back there who have spoken up on their behalf.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. In view of the hour, would the honourable member for Lunenburg West like to move adjournment of debate, please?

MR. DOWNE: Yes, I so move, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is to adjourn debate.

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at 12:00 p.m. The order of business following Question Period will be Supply for four hours. Then we will continue with second reading of Bill No. 109.

I move the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow at 12:00 and sit until 8:00 p.m.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 8674]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

We are adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

[The House rose at 9:58 p.m.]

[Page 8675]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 3324

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas volunteers are the cornerstone of Nova Scotia's strong towns and villages because of their selfless dedication to others; and

Whereas the 2002 Provincial Volunteer Awards were presented at the Provincial Volunteer Award Ceremony and Luncheon on April 19th at the Westin Hotel, to pay tribute to Nova Scotians who show their commitment to their community by donating their time and skills in so many different ways to others; and

Whereas Erin Spinney, representing the Region of Queens Municipality, was named as a Provincial Representative Volunteer;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Erin Spinney on being named Region of Queens Municipality Volunteer of the Year and thank all volunteers in the province for the work they dedicate to the communities throughout the year.

RESOLUTION NO. 3325

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas Steel and Engine Products (STENPRO) in Liverpool is expanding its workforce to meet the demands of new contracts; and

Whereas STENPRO, a steel fabricating facility, needs welders and fitters now to build components for power generators, it is forward looking and wants to maintain this qualified workforce for future contracts with the oil and gas industry; and

Whereas while this is a welcome expansion that will immediately benefit Queens, it is also a sign of good health for manufacturing in Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate STENPRO on this expansion and wish the company and its employees every success in securing future contracts.

[Page 8676]

RESOLUTION NO. 3326

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre for the first seven years of operation under the leadership of its founding president, Mr. Alex Morrison, achieved an enviable international reputation as a leader in education, training and research in all aspects of modern peace operations; and

Whereas on February 11, 2002, Jean Jacques Blais, the Chairman of the Pearson Peacekeeping Centre Board, announced that Sandra Dunsmore, who has 20 years of experience in the field of peace-building, international development and humanitarian assistance, was selected to succeed him to the position of president; and

Whereas Ms. Dunsmore brings to the leadership of this world-class institution extensive experience in design, development, and management of peace-building programs in conflict and post-conflict situations;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join with me in extending our best wishes to Ms. Dunsmore and wish her every success as she works with the board and staff of the centre to further enhance the role of this facility in the international community.

RESOLUTION NO. 3327

By: Ms. Mary Ann McGrath (Halifax Bedford Basin)

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

Whereas epilepsy is caused by erratic electrical activity in the brain that triggers seizures of various severity and duration that can affect one's behaviour or render you unconscious; and

Whereas epilepsy is often difficult to diagnose and the nature of the condition is commonly misunderstood; and

Whereas this is something that affects approximately 40 million people worldwide;

[Page 8677]

Therefore be it resolved that this House acknowledge the importance of raising public awareness of epilepsy not just during the month of March but year-round and commend the Epilepsy Association of Nova Scotia for working hard to support Nova Scotians living with this condition and in their search for answers.