Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-4

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Anl. Rept. of the Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission - 2002,
Hon. P. Christie 267
Justice: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments, Hon. J. Muir 268
Justice: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments, Hon. J. Muir 268
Justice: Civil Procedure Rules - Amendments, Hon. J. Muir 268
Anl. Rept. of the Workers' Compensation Board - 2002, Hon. R. Russell 268
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Nat. Res.: Disaster Financial Assistance Program - Institute, Hon. T. Olive 268
Econ. Dev.: Film Industry - Importance, Hon. C. Clarke 272
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 300, Savage, Margaret: Death of - Tribute, The Premier 276
Vote - Affirmative 277
Res. 301, MacDonald, Bernadette: Death of - Tribute, Hon. J. Muir 279
Vote - Affirmative 279
Res. 302, Hudgins, Avard: Prospectors & Developers Assoc. Award -
Congrats., Hon. T. Olive 280
Vote - Affirmative 280
Res. 303, C100 FM: IWK Fundraising - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 280
Vote - Affirmative 281
Res. 304, Comeau, Louis: Order of Can. - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 281
Vote - Affirmative 282
Res. 305, Forsyth, Dr. Donald: A.G. Huntsman Award - Congrats.,
Hon. T. Olive 282
Vote - Affirmative 283
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 16, Hepatitis C Compensation Act, Mr. D. Dexter 283
No. 17, Justice Administration Amendment (2003) Act, Hon. J. Muir 283
No. 18, Gasoline and Diesel Oil Fair-marketing Practices Act,
Mr. J. Holm 283
No. 19, Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act,
Mr. M. Samson 283
No. 20, School Closure Act, Mr. H. Epstein 283
No. 21, Sydney Casino Profits Distribution Act, Mr. D. Wilson 283
No. 22, Health-care Costs Recovery Act, Mr. K. Deveaux 283
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 306, Savage, Margaret: Death of - Tribute, Mr. D. Dexter 283
Vote - Affirmative 284
Res. 307, Comeau, Jim: Ind. Can. Vol. Award - Congrats., Mr. W. Gaudet 284
Vote - Affirmative 285
Res. 308, United Way Campaign (2002): Success - Applaud,
Ms. M. McGrath 285
Vote - Affirmative 285
Res. 309, Commun. Serv.: Employment Support & Income Assist. Regs. -
Min. Review, Mr. J. Pye 286
Res. 310, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Bridge Deterioration -
Gov't. Chastise, Mr. K. MacAskill 286
Res. 311, Storm (03/03): Kentville FD/EMO/Town - Gratitude Express,
Mr. M. Parent 287
Vote - Affirmative 288
Res. 312, Hennigar, Heather: Running - Improvement Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 288
Vote - Affirmative 288
Res. 313, NDP: Ontario Experience - Voters Heed, Mr. P. MacEwan 289
Res. 314, Truckair, Bobby: Sonia & Brothers II - Rescue Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 289
Vote - Affirmative 290
Res. 315, ECMA: Recipients - Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 290
Vote - Affirmative 291
Res. 316, Make A Wish Fdn.: Mt. Kilimanjaro Climbers - Congrats.,
Dr. J. Smith 291
Vote - Affirmative 291
Res. 317, Country Generations Band: Talents - Applaud, Mr. F. Chipman 292
Vote - Affirmative 292
Res. 318, SS Atlantic: Atl. Mem./Terence Bay Schools -
Remembrance Acknowledge, Mr. W. Estabrooks 292
Vote - Affirmative 293
Res. 319, Flemming, Paul/Team: Cdn. Mixed Curling Championship -
Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 293
Vote - Affirmative 294
Res. 320, Milley, Reg: Hfx. Int'l. Airport - Efforts Congrats.,
Mr. J. MacDonell 294
Vote - Affirmative 295
Res. 321, Fin.: Budget Balancing - Accounting Principles, Mr. M. Samson 295
Res. 322, Wage Control Leg.: Support - Deny, Mr. P. MacEwan 296
Res. 323, Webber, Harvey: Death of - Tribute, Hon. C. Clarke 296
Vote - Affirmative 297
Res. 324, Storm (03/03): Victims - Sympathy Extend, Mr. D. Dexter 297
Vote - Affirmative 298
Res. 325, Lions Clubs (N.S.): Efforts - Thank, Dr. J. Smith 298
Vote - Affirmative 298
Res. 326, Educ.: Loan Remission Prog. - Funding Increase, Mr. D. Wilson 299
ORAL QUESTION PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 1, Health: SARS - Contingency Plan, Mr. D. Dexter 299
No. 2, Health: Acadia Univ. Exchange Students - SARS Protection,
Dr. J. Smith 300
No. 3, Health: Smoking Ban Intro. - Refusal Explain,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 302
No. 4, Commun. Serv.: Residential Care Workers - Value, Mr. W. Gaudet 303
No. 5, Commun. Serv.: Residential Care Workers - Wage Disparity,
Mr. J. Pye 304
No. 6, Prem.: Election Promises - Borrowed Money, Mr. M. Samson 305
No. 7, Environ. & Lbr.: Uninsured Drivers - Numbers, Mr. D. Dexter 307
No. 8, Kings North MLA: Newspaper Article - Details,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 308
No. 9, Health: Nursing Home Care - Assessment Practices,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 310
No. 10, Fin.: Pension Info. - Delay Explain, Mr. M. Samson 311
No. 11, Educ.: Dominion Complex - Fed. Assistance Details,
Mr. F. Corbett 313
No. 12, Health Prom.: Ventilation Standards - Approval Explain,
Dr. J. Smith 314
No. 13, Justice: Driving Suspensions - Drug Influence, Mr. K. Deveaux 315
No. 14, EMO: Flood Losses - Compensation Criteria, Mr. K. MacAskill 316
Prospect - Road Conditions,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 318
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ADDRESS IN REPLY:
Mr. J. MacDonell 318
Mr. W. Gaudet 325
Mr. J. DeWolfe 333
Mr. W. Estabrooks 336
Adjourned debate 341
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Insurance: Gov't. (N.S.) Inaction - Effects:
Mr. H. Epstein 342
Mr. P. MacEwan 344
Hon. R. Russell 347
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 2nd at 2:00 p.m. 350
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 327, Prospect Rd. Winterfest: Lions/KOC - Congratulate,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 351
Res. 328, Spinazola, Madonna/West, Bob/Halls Hbr. FD: Storm (03/03) -
Efforts Thank, Mr. M. Parent 351
Res. 329, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Storm (03/03): Kings North Staff -
Thank, Mr. M. Parent 352
Res. 330, Kentville PD/RCMP/EMO: Storm (03/03) - Gratitude Express,
Mr. M. Parent 352
Res. 331, Comeau, Jim: Ind. Can. Award - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 353
Res. 332, Sports: Amherst Reg. Special Olympics Floor Hockey Team -
Congrats., The Speaker 353
Res. 333, Baker, Dee Jay: Girls @ The Junction Prog. -
Participation Congrats., The Speaker 354
Res. 334, Black, Carl: Springhill FD 15 Yr. Bar - Congrats., The Speaker 354
Res. 335, Blue, Brittany: Girls @ The Junction - Participation Congrats.,
The Speaker 355
Res. 336, Boudreau, Debbie: CNTA Award - Congrats., The Speaker 355
Res. 337, Bragg, John: Cdn. Bus. Hall of Fame - Congrats., The Speaker 356
Res. 338, Nicholson, Harold: Springhill FD - 50 Yrs. Service Congrats.,
The Speaker 356
Res. 339, Howard, Doris: Dutch Medal of Remembrance - Congrats.,
The Speaker 357
Res. 340, Hopkins, John: Springhill FD - 60 Yrs. Service Congrats.,
The Speaker 357

[Page 267]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 1, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debated was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth North:

Therefore be it resolved that this government's inaction on auto insurance is driving more and more Nova Scotians to go without coverage on their motor vehicles.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

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

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Annual Report for the 2002-03 Nova Scotia Real Estate Commission.

267

[Page 268]

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as the Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Supreme Court on May 31, 2002.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as the Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by the Judges of the Nova Scotia Court of Appeal on June 24, 2002.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, in my capacity as the Attorney General and pursuant to Section 51 of the Judicature Act, I hereby table amendments to the Civil Procedure Rules that were made pursuant to the Judicature Act by Judges of the Supreme Court of Nova Scotia on January 24, 2003.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I beg leave to table the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia Annual Report for calendar year 2002.

MR. SPEAKER: The report is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today as Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Act. Yesterday, a severe rain and windstorm caused significant flooding throughout the mainland of Nova Scotia. Some areas of the province were affected

[Page 269]

more than others. I deeply regret to inform the House that, tragically, two lives were lost when several people were trapped in two vehicles in Lunenburg County. On behalf of all members of the House, I offer our condolences to the families of those two individuals.

In all areas of the province, the exemplary efforts of our emergency responders - both volunteer and paid - have helped to minimize the loss of life and damage to property. For that, all members of this House and all Nova Scotians should be thankful.

Now our attention turns to the assessment of damage and to clean-up and restoration. Officials with the Emergency Measures Organization are working closely with their colleagues at the Department of Transportation and Public Works to determine the total damage. This work is not complete, but it is important for members to know that yesterday's damage is possibly unprecedented in our history.

Many Nova Scotians are wondering what financial help will be available from the province in the wake of these events. Since April 2000, this government has had a clear policy regarding the provision of financial assistance in circumstances such as this. Under that policy, Nova Scotians who have sustained uninsurable losses when a disaster has occurred would be eligible to apply for assistance when the disaster has met a particular threshold. There is no doubt that yesterday's events have resulted in that threshold being met.

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that a Disaster Financial Assistance Program will be instituted for all affected areas of Nova Scotia. The government will offer assistance in accordance with the policy. We will provide assistance to individuals to help them restore their primary residence to a basic level that is fit to live in. We will provide assistance to small businesses to help them get back on their feet. We will provide assistance to municipalities to help them restore essential public services to a pre-disaster condition. The program will begin as soon as the Emergency Measures Organization can complete arrangements with local authorities for its delivery. I expect that this will be accomplished in the next day or so.

All Nova Scotians are asked to pay particular attention to announcements and advertisements which will appear very soon through local media outlets. These announcements will provide additional information on where applications for assistance may be obtained. In the meantime, Nova Scotians who have been affected by flooding should determine whether their homeowners insurance is applicable to the losses they have sustained.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you and all members of this House will understand when I explain to you that the total value of the financial assistance program will not be known for another day or so, but the government wants all Nova Scotians to know that we will honour

[Page 270]

the commitment we made when we approved this policy. We provided financial assistance following floods in Oxford and Queens County in 1999, and in Cape Breton in 2000, and we will do so again. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would say at the outset that we just received this, but more importantly, on behalf of my Party, we would like to send out our condolences to the families of those people who lost their lives so tragically in this disaster.

Mr. Speaker, by virtue of what we are, a coastal community from one end to the other, we realize the vagaries of weather and how it affects this great province. Time and time again we find ourselves being reactive and not proactive regarding the safety of our communities when it comes to emergency measures. By and large, we spend a lot of our time in isolation and not really understanding the work that falls on the shoulders of the many volunteers from Yarmouth to Cape North in this province. We had a report card released a week or so ago, and letters sent out to each and every MLA. Yet there was nothing in that bit of information that you could substantively grade the various communities by. There was a number but we didn't know how we arrived at that number.

If nothing else, what we've learned from this tragedy is that this government has to take the safety of our communities in a real and substantive way as opposed to just saying okay, when it happens, we'll deal with it. I can recall back in 2000, in the floods that involved many of the areas that I represent in Cape Breton, that while the amount of financial support that was there was appreciated, it wasn't enough. People's homes were devastated, and to merely say we're going to bring it back to an area that's habitable, when they've lost tens of thousands of dollars, I don't think it's fair treatment. I think we have to go back and rethink that idea.

I think we also have to realize what we see going on in insurance today and the repercussions that are going to happen to some of these homeowners after they file. Indeed, if you don't have insurance coverage, it's not going to cover. But in the reality of life today, there are many Nova Scotians who say, do I eat or do I insure? That has to be a factor. To our businesses and municipalities, while there is a mention of help, there's no real substantive line of what that help is, it's vague - we will help, we'll get there.

I'm urging the minister to kind of urge the rest of his Cabinet - they have a budget coming up in a couple of days time - to put their money where their mouths are and finance emergency measures in a way that it's not the burden of many, many, many overburdened volunteers in this province as we see already. Put some real financing in there with real direction so these people can have the tools in which to work and that they can prevent disasters rather than just repair them. Thank you.

[Page 271]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for forwarding the statement to our caucus. Also, on behalf of myself and all members of our caucus, we want to express our condolences to the families of the members who met with tragedy due to the severe flooding across the province yesterday.

Mr. Speaker, I firmly believe that those people in need of relief should get it, and get it in a reasonable period of time when these floods take place, or any emergencies. We wonder shouldn't the same consideration be given to Dominion school, which suffers from emergency subsidence. But the bigger question from yesterday is, are we ready to address more severe flooding in the future?

The response from emergency crews yesterday, both paid and voluntary, they did what they could. They responded very quickly, but there's a limit as to how far these volunteers and smaller first responders can go. They need a back-up from the province when these emergencies arise and they need it quickly. I'm afraid that that's not there to assist the first responders when they respond to a situation like what happened yesterday across our province.

I think now is the time for us to assess what we can do better and how we can prevent this flooding from happening in the future. Are we really prepared for larger situations than yesterday which could come anytime? The government says they will provide assistance to help those restore their primary residence to a basic level that is fit to live in. My question is, when? The minister talks a day or two, but I hope that the minister is sincere when he says in a day or two that relief will be there for them.

Again, the minister goes on to say that all Nova Scotians are asked to pay particular attention to the announcements and advertisements which will appear in the next day or two. Again, he's referring to a day or two, and let's hope if the minister is not prepared to act within a day or two, he will hear more from us in the future. I thank the minister for sending this statement over to us and it's good to get it. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier on an introduction.

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to bring to the attention of the House that today we have been joined by Mr. Michael Donovan who is in the Speaker's Gallery. He's accompanied by Ann MacKenzie, the President and CEO of the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation and Mr. Martin Pink, Chairman of the corporation's Board of Directors. Michael earned an Academy Award on March 23rd for producing the documentary, Bowling for Columbine. This feature was produced by Nova Scotia's Salter Street Films located here in Halifax. Michael is Chairman of the Board and Co-Chief Executive Officer of Salter Street Films and is a leader in Nova Scotia's film

[Page 272]

industry. Michael has produced over 300 hours of television programming and has received numerous industry awards nationally and internationally for his great talents. He has also won eight Gemini Awards for some of our favourite Canadian shows such as Codco, This Hour Has 22 Minutes and Made In Canada. I am proud, as I know all of us are proud, of the talent and devotion that Michael brings to the Nova Scotia film industry and wish to congratulate him on his recent Oscar win. I would ask members of the Legislature to please stand and join me in welcoming Michael Donovan to the House of Assembly today. (Standing Ovation)

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. Donovan to the gallery today and it should be noted for the record that Mr. Donovan is actually a brother-in-law to our Legislative Counsel, Mr. Gordon Hebb. So on behalf of all the members, Mr. Donovan, certainly congratulations to you and all the best in the future.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, sort of following on the heels of a very serious ministerial statement and building on the Premier's introduction, I have a ministerial statement before the House which speaks to Michael Donovan and the film industry.

Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have this occasion to rise and address the House on the importance and significance of the film industry in Nova Scotia. Today we are also honoured to welcome to the House the first Nova Scotia film producer to win an Academy Award. It gives me great pleasure to share with my colleagues my congratulations to Michael Donovan, the President and CEO of Salter Street Films of Halifax. Mr. Donovan won an Oscar at last month's Academy Awards ceremony for the best documentary feature - Bowling for Columbine.

We are extremely proud of Mr. Donovan's achievement which makes history for Nova Scotia, raises our film industry's profile around the world, and serves as an inspiration for our growing corps of talented film producers and film crews. Only twice before have Nova Scotians taken home an Oscar. In 1946 Harold Russell of North Sydney, a community of great affinity to mine, won both the Best Supporting Actor Oscar for The Best Years of Our Lives and an honourary Oscar "for bringing hope and courage to his fellow veterans". He is the only actor ever to win two Oscars for the same role. Even after the passage of so many years, it seems appropriate to recognize that outstanding 1946 achievement. Twenty-two years later, in 1968, Oona White of Inverness made her mark on Hollywood when she won a special Oscar for her choreography in the musical Oliver. Thanks to Michael Donovan and the many talented and dedicated professionals who support his efforts, an Oscar has emerged on Nova Scotia soil again, some 35 years later.

[Page 273]

Salter Street Films is a prime example of the potential return on the investment we make in our film industry through the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation. The Film Corporation is a provincial Crown Corporation that builds the capacity and competitiveness of the province's film, television, and new-media industries. The corporation provides a wide range of support through programs that include production financing, marketing initiatives and location services. The success of Nova Scotia's film industry is in no small part a result of the vision provided by the volunteer Board of Directors of the Film Corporation under the Chairmanship of Martin Pink and the excellent contributions of the staff under the leadership of CEO Ann MacKenzie.

The corporation's programs are key for companies like Salter Street Films to grow and increase their profile. In short, the corporation's investments have helped Salter Street get where it is today. To say we are delighted with the company's international success would be an understatement, we are thrilled, and we look forward to a potential ripple effect for the Nova Scotia film industry as a whole as a result of such positive industry attention. Our thanks go to Mr. Donovan for his part in producing a winner. It will direct the attention of a powerful industry to the many other excellent creative products and talented producers we have in our region and province.

[2:30 p.m.]

Nova Scotian producers received an outstanding 31 Gemini nominations in November 2002. They continually create award-winning television works. I'm thinking of productions like the Trudeau series from Big Motion Pictures, the animated Olliver's Adventures for Collideascope Digital and the Trailer Park Boys series from Topsail Entertainment. On the feature film side, Thom Fitzgerald's The Event, Idlewild Film's Marion Bridge and imX Communications Past Perfect are just a few examples of the high-quality films that are putting Nova Scotia on the film industry map.

In addition to gifted producers, we also enjoy dedicated, experienced crews, a sophisticated production infrastructure and fantastic locations. These topnotch qualities, combined with the Film Industry Tax Credit and the Film Corporation's programs, help attract guest productions to the province to round out the majority of the activity, which I'm proud to say is carried out by local producers. The mostly small and medium-sized local firms that make up the industry's base are becoming a strong part of our economy. In each of the last five years, the film industry contributed more than $100 million to the local economy and in the past year, employed 2,000 Nova Scotians and contributed $118 million directly to the province's economy in servicing local and guest productions.

Mr. Speaker, in order to continue growing the film industry we must compete in a global industry for the guest productions and co-productions that boost our film sector. To do that, we have to go to the industry's centre of the universe, Los Angeles. Last month, the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation led a trade mission to L.A., where our

[Page 274]

filmmakers got the opportunity to showcase their works to a very attentive audience. The Americans came away impressed with what they saw. This included Scott Simpson's directorial debut, Touch & Go, highlights from the Trailer Park Boys, and a montage of local films. Production companies participating in the mission including Big Motion Pictures, Virtual Media Productions, Trailer Park Productions, Playmaker Films, Victory Motion Pictures and Salter Street Films.

When the trade mission came home, Michael Donovan stayed in L.A. As we all know, he had an appointment with Oscar. Mr. Donovan's achievements and the high level of film activity in this province by local and guest filmmakers clearly show us that the film industry here is one of the most promising sectors of the Nova Scotia economy.

Mr. Speaker, the provincial government is proud to support the Nova Scotia Film Development Corporation and its work with filmmakers who bring artistic and commercial credit to the province. (Applause)

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to join with the minister and with the members of the government caucus on behalf of the Opposition caucus, the New Democratic Party caucus, in offering our congratulations to Mr. Donovan and everyone at Salter Street Films. I know that, like everyone in Nova Scotia as we were watching these awards, and as you climbed onto the stage, you carried with you the hopes of a lot of people in this province. They were really hoping for you and when it came true, I think it was a cheer that went up, I would say, right across the province. So it was a great night at the Academy Awards, even though at the time there were so many other important events that were going on in the world. I think all of us here, in this corner of the world, had a little something to hope for as you were receiving that award.

I wanted to say, as well, I had the opportunity to listen to the CBC interview that you did the next day and I know that, I guess that was after the post-Oscar parties and some opportunity to mix with others in the industry. I certainly expect that that was extremely exciting. I know that you did note that there was some sadness around the layoffs that had taken place with Alliance Atlantis at the time and certainly we very much hope that those days are behind the industry and that in future there will be growth in this sector because we know that investment is important in the industry but we also know that genius resides in the company with the individuals who make it up, so we're well aware of that.

I would like to put one final little plug in, if I may. One of the people Michael Donovan mentioned in that interview was Floyd Kane. Floyd, in fact, worked in our office before he left for obviously bigger and better things. We are really proud of him, too. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 275]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the Liberal caucus and indeed, all Nova Scotians I would like to congratulate Mr. Donovan on this rather auspicious award. Mr. Donovan has made all Nova Scotians very proud.

The wealth of a nation and certainly of a province is measured not by how many dollars that you can pack on a table, but rather by the richness of the people who provide us with such talents that have been brought forth by Mr. Donovan and all those who have been associated with his success and many endeavours in the music and film industry, the arts and the culture, that have made us perhaps one of the richest provinces in Canada, if not one of the richest places in the world to live. I'm always so proud when I hear about accomplishments such as those Mr. Donovan has been able to bring home to this very special province.

I reminisce about the first time we brought Squanto-Indian Warrior to the Fortress of Louisbourg - it was a Don Carmody production - we were so excited to have that rather distinguished Walt Disney production filmed here in Nova Scotia. It was a groundbreaking activity, as many who were involved at that time would remember. I was always saying to myself that it would be nice to have someone from Nova Scotia be able to do that as well, and Mr. Donovan has certainly done that with the stakeholders he has associated himself with through the Nova Scotia Film Corporation which, by the way, I was very happy to see, I was a member of this House when that film corporation was established through the foresight of the former minister, the honourable Rollie Thornhill.

It was through the efforts of the John Savage Administration that that was actually expanded and built on and we're very proud to have our name associated, in some small measure, with the efforts, the endeavours and the accomplishments of you, Mr. Donovan, and all of your team. We wish you very much more success; you have done us proud. Thank you. (Applause)

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, before reading my resolution acknowledging the life and the passing of Mrs. Margaret Savage, through you I request permission of the House for Dr. Jim Smith to speak.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 276]

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, and Premier, members of the Legislature, today I rise in my place to express, on behalf of our Liberal caucus and our Leader Danny Graham, our sincerest condolences to former Premier John Savage on the loss of his wife, Margaret, to their seven children on the loss of their mother, and to her family.

Many of us in this House knew Margaret Savage personally and she was a friend to all of us. Margaret exemplified a quiet strength about her that literally made her stand out in a crowd. She would go about her tasks and responsibilities with a strength and determination that always possessed the right mix of warmth and kindness.

Dartmouth has lost a very dear friend who will be truly missed. Margaret's contributions to her community are endless: as one of the founding members of Feed Others of Dartmouth; as a leader in bringing the Peter Gzowski Gold Tournament for Literacy to Dartmouth; and the countless hours she spent volunteering with shut-in programs at the Halifax Regional Library.

The truly beautiful thing about Margaret is that she did all of this for her community, not for attention; in fact, Margaret would be the first to shy away from anyone who would acknowledge and praise her efforts. She volunteered countless hours because she truly wanted to help people.

Nova Scotia has lost a true friend and a unique individual. John lost a loving wife. Michael, Jane, Shelagh, Phillip, Patrick, Barney and Brigid lost a wonderful mother. On behalf of our caucus, I would like to announce that the funeral service mass will be held at 10:00 a.m. on Friday, April 4, 2003 at St. Thomas More Church in Dartmouth. I know the Premier wants to make a comment or speak before the House on this subject. I would just ask for a moment of silence to be observed after the Premier has the floor, if that is your wish, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it is the wish of our caucus to be associated with and to endorse Dr. Smith's remarks.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 300

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

[Page 277]

Whereas the late Margaret Savage was a stalwart partner in life to former Premier John Savage; and

Whereas Mrs. Savage was also a devoted community leader in her own right; and

Whereas last night, Mrs. Savage passed away, surrounded by her loved ones;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House extend their deepest condolences to John Savage and his large extended family on the loss of Margaret - wife, mother, grandmother, friend.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice, to be followed, as Dr. Smith has recommended, by a moment of silence.

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.

Just before we go on to the next step, the honourable Leader of the Official Opposition wanted to make a comment as well.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of our caucus, I just wanted to associate ourselves with the remarks made by Dr. Smith and by the Premier, and to say that I have known the Savage family for more than 25 years. I spoke with the former Premier this morning and with his son, certainly expressed our condolences on their very great loss. Those of us who had the opportunity to know Margaret Savage, and certainly as I did, from time to time, even run into her in the grocery store, she was always a person of great humour who would offer advice, who understood how important it was that we approach life as she did, which was in a very caring and compassionate way. She will certainly be missed by all of those in Dartmouth. We did lose a great member of our community. I have a resolution that I will read at the appropriate time.

MR. SPEAKER: I would ask all members to rise now in a moment of silence for Margaret Savage.

[Page 278]

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Please be seated.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham on an introduction.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise to introduce another hero, again in a context, however, that is not so happy, as was the case with Mr. Donovan. In the Speaker's Gallery this afternoon we have with us Heather Crowe. I will ask Ms. Crowe to

stand. Ms. Crowe is a native Nova Scotian who has worked for more than 40 years in Toronto, Calgary and Ottawa in the hospitality industry. At the age of 57, Ms. Crowe, who has never smoked, has recently been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Ms. Crowe has been meeting with members of all caucuses here in Nova Scotia on behalf of workers in the hospitality industry who are exposed to second-hand smoke and its deadly consequences as she advocates for people in our places to do something to create 100 per cent smoke-free workplaces so no other workers will be faced with the situation that she is now dealing with.

[2:45 p.m.]

With her today are Catherine Cole from Smoke-Free Nova Scotia and Neil Collishaw, the Research Director of Physicians for a Smoke-Free Canada and I would ask members to give them a warm welcome. Ms. Crowe will be appearing in front of the Halifax Regional Municipality Council tonight as they hold a public hearing into the possibility of a 100 per cent smoke-free bylaw here in the municipality. I would ask people to give them all a warm welcome. (Applause)

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

The honourable Minister of Health on an introduction.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, in the west gallery today we have a group of students here from Saint Mary's University from the criminology course. There are 11 of them with their leader, Russell Prime, and I wonder if they would rise and receive the welcome of the House. (Applause)

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

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring to the attention of the House members of the NSGEU Local 66 who are in the east gallery. The local includes 250 residential counsellors who work with Regional Residential Support Services Society at approximately 40 residential sites to provide services to intellectually challenged adults in

[Page 279]

the HRM. Mr. Speaker, I would also like to recognize the NSGEU President, Joan Jessome, and ask all the members to join me in giving our guests a warm welcome to the House today. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Again, we welcome our guests to the gallery today.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 301

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

Whereas in February 2003 the Nova Scotia legal community lost a valuable, dedicated member with the passing of Bernadette Macdonald; and

Whereas Ms. Macdonald, recently appointed as Queen's Counsel, had spent over two decades as a Crown Attorney working in special prosecutions and specializing in complex commercial crimes before being appointed to senior Crown counsel in 2001; and

Whereas Ms. Macdonald also spent much of her time giving back to the community. She was a member of the Dalhousie University Board of Governors for many years, received an Outstanding Alumni Award from Dalhousie University, was a member of the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design Board of Governors, served on the Nova Scotia Barristers' Society committees and enjoyed spending time assisting new lawyers called to the Bar;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature join me in recognizing the significant contributions made by Bernadette Macdonald and express our condolences to her family and friends.

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 Natural Resources.

[Page 280]

RESOLUTION NO. 302

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

Whereas Avard Hudgins of Truro recently received a Distinguished Service Award from the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada in recognition of his long and successful career as a prospector in the Maritimes; and

Whereas the Prospectors and Developers Association of Canada is a national association established in 1932 to represent the interests of the mineral exploration and development industry; and

Whereas Mr. Hudgins' efforts have resulted in millions of dollars of investment in Nova Scotia and in several hundred jobs at three mines that were placed into production as a direct result of his work;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Mr. Avard Hudgins on this professional achievement and on his lifelong commitment to exploration and promotion of the province's mineral resources.

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. 303

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

Whereas the second annual C100 FM radiothon for the IWK Children's Health Centre has recently taken place; and

[Page 281]

Whereas the "100 Hours for the Kids" radiothon raises funds for the IWK to purchase pieces of equipment needed to carry out all its vital work; and

Whereas this year C100 raised over $260,000 for Atlantic Canada's largest children's hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating C100 FM on raising that money for the IWK and thank all those involved in the 2003 "100 Hours for the Kids" as well as all those who donated to this tremendous effort.

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. 304

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

Whereas the Order of Canada recognizes Canadians who have made a positive impact on the lives of others and is our country's highest honour for lifetime achievement; and

Whereas Louis Comeau of Halifax is one of these exemplary Canadians being honoured; and

Whereas Mr. Comeau, a former Progressive Conservative MP for Southwest Nova, has served as President of l'Université Sainte-Anne, President of the Nova Scotia Power Corporation for over a decade, Chairman of NAV Canada which owns and operates Canada's civil air navigation service, and was recently named Chairman of the Workers' Compensation Board of Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Louis Comeau on the receipt of the prestigious Order of Canada and wish him every success in the future.

[Page 282]

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 Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 305

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

Whereas Dr. Donald Forsyth, a marine geophysicist with Brown University's Department of Geological Sciences, received the 2002 A.G. Huntsman Award presented by the Bedford Institute of Oceanography; and

Whereas the A.G. Huntsman Award was established by the Canadian marine science community to recognize excellence of research in the marine sciences and outstanding contributions to the discipline; and

Whereas Dr. Forsyth is a pioneer in the marine sciences, an excellent educator, an exceptional colleague to a large number of scientific collaborators, a model of integrity and unselfish in the service that he has given to the scientific community;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate Dr. Donald Forsyth on this award and on his extensive professional accomplishments.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 283]

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 16 - Entitled an Act to Guarantee Equality of Treatment for All Sufferers of Hepatitis C. (Mr. Darrell Dexter)

Bill No. 17 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Administration of Justice. (Hon. James Muir)

Bill No. 18 - Entitled an Act Respecting Fair-marketing Practices in the Sale of Gasoline and Diesel Oil. (Mr. John Holm)

Bill No. 19 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 5 of the Acts of 1993. The Freedom of Information and Protection of Privacy Act. (Mr. Michel Samson)

Bill No. 20 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Closure of Schools and to Set Aside Decisions of School Boards Closing Schools and to Review the Funding Needs of the School Boards. (Mr. Howard Epstein)

Bill No. 21 - Entitled an Act to Establish a Board to Distribute to Charities One Half of the Profits from the Sydney Casino. (Mr. David Wilson)

Bill No. 22 - Entitled an Act to Provide for the Recovery of Health-care Costs Related to the Exposure to Tobacco Products. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 306

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

Whereas yesterday we lost a great Nova Scotian when Margaret Savage succumbed at her home to the ravages of cancer; and

Whereas the wife of the former Premier and mother of seven was a quiet but bright light in her community, championing many causes in her church and community; and

[Page 284]

Whereas recently her interest in and legacy to the arts was recognized by the Margaret and John Savage First Book Award to be presented annually in recognition of an Atlantic Canadian author's debut, either in fiction or non-fiction;

Therefore be it resolved that this House and all Nova Scotians, particularly Dartmouthians, celebrate the life of Margaret Savage and extend their deepest condolences to her family and friends in their time of grief.

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 Clare.

RESOLUTION NO. 307

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

Whereas Jim Comeau, a retired welding instructor, after seeing a need for computers at the local Valley school, refurbished 2,900 computers over the past 10 years; and

Whereas Mr. Comeau, along with a team of 32 helpers, has worked with the Industry Canada Computers for Schools Program to rebuild computers for 46 schools, as well as a variety of community organizations and disabled and terminally-ill children; and

Whereas Mr. Comeau's contributions have recently been honoured by Industry Canada with the Computers for Schools top volunteer award for Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Mr. Comeau of his recent honour and wish him every success with this valuable program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 285]

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 Bedford Basin.

[3:00 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 308

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

Whereas the United Way has over 100 locals throughout Canada and continues to grow every day, raising funds to donate to local organizations; and

Whereas campaign chairman Jeff Woodbury said the 2002 United Way Campaign has exceeded its goal; and

Whereas Mr. Woodbury has stated that they hoped to reach $4.8 million, but have surpassed that and raised over $5 million for the United Way;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature applaud the success of the 2002 campaign and thank all those involved with the United Way for the significant contributions they make to their 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.

[Page 286]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 309

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

Whereas Community Services currently deems that anyone with a business interest makes an income equivalent to a person working full-time at minimum wage; and

Whereas this crude measuring stick may serve a purpose, such as keeping those who shelter income behind a corporate veil from receiving benefits; and

Whereas it clearly discriminates against those who, if they lose other employment, have an income far below that of the minimum wage from their small business interests;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services review Clause 50(1) of the Employment Support and Income Assistance Regulations so that it does not deem income from a business but reflects real income when assessing the potential recipient.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 310

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

Whereas yesterday's heavy rains have caused severe damage and hardship for many Nova Scotians; and

Whereas we have already heard of bridges being destroyed and roads washed out by the flood waters; and

[Page 287]

Whereas the damages prevented emergency vehicles from reaching homes and businesses in many communities;

Therefore be it resolved that the government be chastised for allowing the bridges of this province to deteriorate to the point where they could be washed away by flood waters.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 311

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

Whereas the unprecedented rainfall of the last few days has caused much flooding and upheaval in Kentville and the surrounding area; and

Whereas more than one metre of water flooded the main road between Kentville and New Minas, other roads and bridges have been washed out and homes have been flooded, causing at least 40 residents to be evacuated from their homes; and

Whereas Kentville Fire Department Chief Sean Ripley and EMO officer Bernie Cooper have displayed great leadership and compassion for the people of Kentville as they struggle to deal with this disaster;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our extreme gratitude to Sean Ripley, Bernie Cooper and all the staff and volunteers of the Kentville Fire Department, the Emergency Measures Organization and the Town of Kentville for their admirable work during this difficult time.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 288]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 312

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

Whereas track and field events have often held a high profile in international sporting events; and

Whereas indoor track events are crucial to a runner's development; and

Whereas Maitland's own middle-distance runner, Heather Hennigar, has continued to set new provincial standards in indoor track, besting her own provincial record at a meet in Seattle and qualifying for the world indoor championships as well in Birmingham, England;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Heather Hennigar of Maitland for her continued improvement in middle-distance running, and wish her well in what should be a long and successful career on the world stage.

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 289]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 313

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

Whereas the NDP holds itself out as representing labour and a better government than the Liberals or the Tories, and indeed refers to them as the old-line Parties from which the NDP proposes to liberate the people; and

Whereas in Ontario this proposition was put to the test, and after only a single term of Bob Rae and the NDP, the voters there threw them out with a tidal wave; and

Whereas due to the sorry memory of the Rae days, the NDP has ever since been the least-popular political choice in Ontario, and remains firmly mired in third place as a consequence;

Therefore be it resolved that the experience of the Province of Ontario ought to be instructive for voters here in Nova Scotia as we approach the upcoming day of decision, at which time the future of Hammism will be dealt with.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 314

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

Whereas three fishermen found themselves floating in the cold waters of the North Atlantic in a lifeboat, after abandoning their sinking craft 75 kilometres off the coast of Cape Sable Island; and

Whereas skipper David Hill, along with crewmen Cory Harris and Nathan Pushie, were caught in five-metre waves and 70-kilometre-per-hour winds and spent three hours in the chilling ocean before the nearest boat could arrive; and

Whereas the rescue was staged by Challenger 88, under skipper Bobby Truckair, who had spotted the distress flare and whose quick response saved the lives of the three men aboard;

[Page 290]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend Bobby Truckair and his crew for the rapid response to a fellow ship in distress.

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 Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 315

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

Whereas the East Coast Music Awards showcase the music of Atlantic Canada for millions of listeners each year in a two-hour national broadcast on CBC TV; and

Whereas on February 16, 2003, East Coast Music Awards in Halifax were presented to artists from all four Atlantic Provinces in 26 different categories; and

Whereas Lennie Gallant received awards for Francophone Recording of the Year and Male Artist of the Year; and Sandy Greenberg, a member of the group Razzmatazz for Kids, received an award for Children's Recording of the Year;

Therefore be it resolved that the House extend congratulations to Lennie Gallant and Sandy Greenberg, two musicians who reside in the fine constituency of Halifax Chebucto, and to all other worthy recipients of this year's East Coast Music Awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 291]

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. 316

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 Make-a-Wish Foundation has chosen to create a team of individuals from across Canada to climb Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, as a way of raising much-needed funds to grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses; and

Whereas six Nova Scotians joined a group of 28 investors from across Canada at a cost of $5,000 to climb to the summit, in an effort to raise over $150,000 for the Make-a- Wish Foundation; and

Whereas Jamie Williams, Rod Buckland, Beth MacKenzie, Cheryl Vardon, Henrey Hicks and Nancy Spencer all trained and worked extremely hard to raise money for such a worthy cause;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate these participants and the Make-a-Wish Foundation for their commitment and contributions they have made to children with life-threatening illnesses.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 292]

RESOLUTION NO. 317

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

Whereas the band Country Generations is an Annapolis Valley-based band which has released two CDs, entitled The Bottom Line and the Greatest Show, both of which were recorded in Nashville, Tennessee; and

Whereas the title track from their first CD, The Bottom Line, was the No. 1 country song on the Australian Radio Network for 14 weeks; and

Whereas the 10-member band consisting of five members of the Spinney family, including lead singer Frank and guitarist Jason, held a special benefit concert for a local cancer victim late last summer in an open field in Margaretsville, Annapolis County, raising several thousand dollars and attracting in excess of 600 people;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs applaud the musical talents of this great Annapolis Valley band and wish them continued success in their musical 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 Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 318

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 this day, April 1st, 1873, the SS Atlantic sank off Lower Prospect near Terence Bay; and

[Page 293]

Whereas on that fateful day, 562 souls perished in the seas despite the valiant rescue efforts of local residents; and

Whereas this date is noted each year by the students of Atlantic Memorial and Terrence Bay schools and is also recognized by the SS Atlantic Park in Terence Bay;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the heroism of the past and thank school children and volunteers of Atlantic Memorial and Terence Bay schools . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I would ask the honourable member for Timberlea- Prospect to read the "Therefore be it resolved" again, please.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly acknowledge the heroism of the past and thank school children and volunteers of Atlantic Memorial and Terence Bay schools for their continuing efforts to remember the sinking of the SS Atlantic.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 319

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has a long-standing tradition of success in the sport of curling, winning 6 of the last 11 mixed curling championships; and

Whereas in January of this year, Paul Flemming skipped his team of: Lead Cathy Donald; Second Tom Fetterly; and Mate Kim Kelly to victory at the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship in a record-setting final; and

[Page 294]

Whereas the Mayflower Rink took home the championship with a 12-1 record with Paul Flemming being named the tournament's all-star skip with an accuracy rate of 87 per cent;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature congratulate Paul Flemming and his team for their success in the Canadian Mixed Curling Championship.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 320

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

Whereas Halifax International Airport has long been an economic engine for the surrounding area including Hants East; and

Whereas since the federal government has passed over control of the facility to the Halifax International Airport Authority, the authority has embarked on an ambitious and costly Airport Improvement Program; and

Whereas in December 2002 the Halifax Airport Authority CEO, Mr. Reg Milley, officially opened the beautiful new domestic arrivals area which increases the airport's domestic passenger area by four times;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mr. Milley and the rest of his staff at the airport authority for their vision and hard work, and wish them well in their work in improving a facility so vital and important to our economy.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 295]

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. 321

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

Whereas when the government first took office they claimed that the budget had not been balanced for 25 years; and

Whereas later that was modified when they claimed the budget was balanced 25 to 30 years ago if you included capital spending; and

Whereas now the government is claiming a budget has not been balanced in this province for 40 years even though this current government is adding $100 million to the debt yearly;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House urge this government to prove this is the first balanced budget in 40 years by recalculating the last 40 budgets using the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and applying debts to the years they were incurred; failing that, they should dispense with the rhetoric and admit that using any other

accounting standard, this budget would not be balanced.

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.

[Page 296]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 322

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

Whereas the NDP holds itself out as a great friend of labour and champion of the toiling masses; and

Whereas this proposition was put to the test in Ontario under the days of the gone - but not forgotten - Bob Rae Government; and

Whereas the Bob Rae NDPers enacted a social contract, a wage control package, which was in many ways even more draconian than the worst imaginations of right-wing Tories;

Therefore be it resolved that the workers of Nova Scotia should learn from the experiences of the workers of Ontario and should not support nor vote for those who would seek to do the same thing here.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

[3:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 323

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

Whereas in January 2003, Cape Breton and Nova Scotia lost a great business and community leader with the death of Harvey Webber; and

Whereas Mr. Webber graduated from Dalhousie Law School before starting his career as a retail clothing merchant in Sydney, after which he began his work to advance the future of Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas whether it was Think Cape Breton First, Atlantic Canada Plus or Silicon Island, Mr. Webber was always involved in a project to further the economic prosperity of our region;

[Page 297]

Therefore be it resolved that all members in this Legislature join me in recognizing the significant contributions made by Harvey Webber, and acknowledge his loss to his family and friends.

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 of the Official Opposition.

RESOLUTION NO. 324

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

Whereas yesterday's early spring rains have parts of the province facing a state of emergency from evacuations, power losses, massive flooding, and washed-out roads and bridges; and

Whereas nature's fury has saddled many Nova Scotians with substantial property damage; and

Whereas towns such as Oxford and Truro face desperate circumstances, and hopefully both provincial and federal aid will be made available to such communities to rebuild from the carnage wreaked by yesterday's monsoon conditions;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its deepest sympathy to those persons and communities who suffered from yesterday's deluge and pledge to do all in its power to repair the damage wrought by nature.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 298]

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. 325

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

Whereas March has come to an end along with a month-long celebration of the incredible work done by the Lions Clubs, not only here in Nova Scotia but throughout the world; and

Whereas the Lions Clubs of Nova Scotia have been working with their international organization to come to the aid of people on six continents and 78 countries in preventing river blindness, as well as raising funds to benefit the CNIB and their digital talking books program; and

Whereas in addition to the work the Lions Clubs do with the CNIB, locally the Lions Clubs provide children with diabetes with a summer camp experience at the Camp Lion Maxwell in Pictou County, as well as other efforts to improve the lives of Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that members of the Legislature thank the Lions Clubs of Nova Scotia for their continued efforts to make Nova Scotia a better place and offer care and support throughout the world.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[Page 299]

RESOLUTION NO. 326

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 Tory Government scrapped the former Liberal Government's $10 million Loan Remission Program in the year 2000, leaving Nova Scotian students the only ones in the country without a debt management program; and

Whereas since the year 2000 the Tories have promised to reinstate a better debt management program for students; and

Whereas when the Tories finally did announce a Loan Remission Program, it was at a lower funding level than it was before they scrapped the program;

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory Government commit to increasing the level of funding for its Loan Remission Program to the former Liberal Government's financial commitment of $10 million.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 3:19 p.m. and end at 4:19 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

HEALTH: SARS - CONTINGENCY PLAN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, we have all seen and heard media reports of the sudden acute respiratory syndrome outbreak in Ontario. This illness has hit front-line workers so hard that hospitals have had to close. In this province, there are hospitals that are barely hanging on by a thread due to a lack of beds and shortages of nursing staff.

[Page 300]

I want to ask the Minister of Health, what contingency plan does her department have in place should a major hospital be hit by SARS?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we do have contingency plans for SARS here in Nova Scotia should a case arise. The member opposite knows we have not had a case yet, however, we are prepared. We have daily conferences, conference calls with the medical officers of health from across the country. We are tracking the disease and the DHAs, doctors, everyone in this system is being advised as to what to do should a case arise.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, if SARS or any other illness or disaster were to hit one of our rural hospitals, a crisis would ensue. The Valley Regional cancelled surgeries because of equipment problems, a lack of staff and bed shortages. Patients in hospitals like the Aberdeen and Glace Bay General stay on stretchers in hallways due to lack of beds. Unlike Ontario, these hospitals don't have the luxury of having another fully functional facility just minutes away. I ask the minister why her government has allowed rural health care to deteriorate to the point where hospitals have no margin of error to deal with crisis situations?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the NDP would like Nova Scotians to believe that every problem is a crisis. There will always be problems in every system of government. There will always be problems because there are new situations and because people are people, but Nova Scotia is quite able to deal with a potential outbreak of this disease - perhaps even better than they are able to in Toronto.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Ontario was caught off guard. There are now suspected cases in Prince Edward Island and in New Brunswick. Our hospitals, rural hospitals in particular, have been underfunded and understaffed for so long that they will not be able to handle a situation of this magnitude. My question is, when will the Minister of Health admit that the only real backup plan in place is to hope and pray that SARS doesn't knock on the door of any of the hospitals in Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the members opposite that we are the only province in Canada to provide multi-year funding to our district health authorities. We do value people. We absolutely value our rural hospitals and I would suggest that some people very much underestimate the abilities of the people in our rural hospitals. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: ACADIA UNIV. EXCHANGE STUDENTS -

SARS PROTECTION

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is to the Minister of Health. The Minister of Health just informed the House today that her plan for SARS is if a case arises. In other words, it's not proactive, it's reactive. Diligence, hard work and proactive planning are

[Page 301]

mandatory when it comes to disease control for an illness like SARS. For example, on April 3rd, Mr. Speaker, a group of 14 Acadia University students participating in exchange programs in Asia will be returning to Wolfville to the university. My question to the minister, Madam Minister, what specific plans will you as Minister of Health be taking when these students arrive in Nova Scotia to ensure that these students don't pose a health risk to themselves and pose a health risk to others?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all persons who arrive in this country and to Nova Scotia from Asia will be looked at. They will be given information on how to treat themselves. We are not going to repeat the experience of what happened in P.E.I. where just because a person was Asian, or had travelled to Asia, that they were prevented from going to school and that people overreacted. We have a plan and we have many plans and they will all take effect when a suspected case occurs in Nova Scotia, which it has not as yet.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, if I understand the minister, she's not going to overreact so therefore she is going to under react and wait for a case to arise. Well, that's not good enough because the well-being of Nova Scotians, all Nova Scotians is at stake here. So we're quickly approaching the time for universities to hold their Spring convocation ceremonies throughout the province. Traditionally many parents from Asia and other high-risk countries for SARS travel to Nova Scotia to attend these ceremonies. So my question to the minister, could the minister explain to us here today in the House the process that will be in place to screen and monitor visitors such as these from high-risk areas when they enter Nova Scotia?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, airport personnel and Health Canada also have plans for dealing with visitors from Asia, but as I understand the question from the member opposite, he would have us treating cases that don't even exist. That is simply silly.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I'm not questioning that minister on the medical model, I'm questioning her on the public health model and she doesn't seem to understand anything more about public health than she does about the medical model.

This is a disease with a high mortality rate for all ages, both in Canada and in Asia. There's been much discussion about regulation change going to Cabinet some time this week. So my question to the minister - and, please, could she give us a straight answer on this and not dance around with some over-reacting and under-reacting, let's give it right down the middle, straight down the middle - will the minister assure Nova Scotian universities that if quarantine is required that the necessary regulatory change will be in place and can be implemented before these students will be arriving back in Nova Scotia on April 3rd?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the straight answer is, the regulations were signed last night.

[Page 302]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: SMOKING BAN INTRO. - REFUSAL EXPLAIN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. As I indicated earlier in my introduction of Heather Crowe who is sitting in our gallery today, she's here to urge a ban on smoking in all public places. Although Ms. Crowe has never smoked, she has been diagnosed with lung cancer after spending her life waitressing in smoke-filled environments. She, more than anyone, will tell you that people working in the hospitality industry do not deserve to be treated as second-class workers or second-class citizens. I want the Minister of Health to tell us why her government is refusing to introduce a total ban on smoking in all public places so that Nova Scotian workers in the hospitality industry will be protected?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I heard Ms. Crowe on the radio this morning and I'm certainly sympathetic to her plight. I would refer that question to the Minister of Health Promotion.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I would like to thank the member for the question. Indeed, I had the opportunity to also meet Ms. Crowe this morning and certainly her case is one which is very compelling. I know all members would agree with that. I would point very clearly to the strategy put forward by the former Minister of Health, the MLA for Truro, who put forward a comprehensive strategy which took a great deal of consultation with a variety of groups across the province. It's a $1.5 million strategy and one that we are very proud of as a government.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'm very disappointed in the minister's response. Apparently, Ms. Crowe's case isn't so compelling that this government is prepared to act to protect other workers so they won't be in the same situation. This government has repeatedly increased tobacco taxes, but refused to divert any meaningful funds toward prevention. The office of Health Promotion goes underfunded and inspectors are under resourced and municipalities are left in this province to attempt to deal with a ban on smoking in public places on their own. I want to ask the Minister for Health Promotion exactly what will it take for his government to legislate a total ban on public smoking in this province if Ms. Crowe's case isn't compelling enough for him?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I'd like to thank the member for the question. We have put $1.5 million this past year towards the tobacco strategy, in that we have touched on a number of bases - seven points to that, Mr. Speaker. The member may not consider a drop from 30 per cent of Nova Scotians to 21 per cent in the last three years - that's a significant drop in the number of tobacco users in this province - but certainly we do.

[Page 303]

[3:30 p.m.]

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, tonight Halifax Regional Council will debate whether or not to go smoke-free, a decision that could affect one-third of the province's population if they decide to do the right thing. Across the country and across the province, smoking is being banned in many public places; Nova Scotia should follow suit. We have some of the highest cancer rates in this country and the link between second-hand smoke and illness is undeniable, as Heather Crowe's landmark workers' compensation case indicates. I want to ask the minister, again, how can he justify his government's watered-down legislation in the face of evidence that is so strong that workers' lives are at stake?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, what the member is missing is that legislation is one component of the entire strategy. She may not consider, as I mentioned earlier, that a 9 per cent drop in the number of Nova Scotians using tobacco is significant; she may not recognize the fact that a 13 per cent drop in students using tobacco is significant. This government does. This government took a leadership role across this country in the smoke-free legislation, and the minister and the former minister and the Premier deserve credit for that.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: RESIDENTIAL CARE WORKERS - VALUE

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. As of midnight Monday night, April 7th, men and women who work in group and small-option homes employed by the Regional Residential Services Society can legally walk off the job. I met with a group of these young, dedicated workers and, believe me, this is not the type of action that they would like to take, however they feel they have no choice; they feel they are not valued as professionals and the work they do is not viewed by government as being valuable. My question to the minister is, do you value these workers and the role they play in caring for individuals that you, Mr. Minister, are ultimately responsible for?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the member opposite for his question. I would tell the member opposite that my history with people who are served by community supports for adults goes back some time, and I very much care about them and so does this government. In fact, as we uploaded Community Services to the province, we brought in new standards and we greatly enhanced the wage package for that sector. What the member is talking about is one of many private service providers, and we absolutely encourage both those dedicated volunteers who make up the board of this private service provider and the union to get back to the table and work, because that is the employer-employee relationship.

[Page 304]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, yesterday these workers offered, to government and their management, a solution. A strike can be avoided if government and management can agree to appoint a conciliation board, a board that can hear both sides of the issue and can make a decision, a decision that is not binding. My question to the minister is, will this minister make contact with management and ensure them that he will support them in whatever way he can by the appointment of a conciliation board, so that this process can move forward?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that in fact there has been a conciliator on the scene for quite some time, and it is very important that both sides recognize the value of having such a third party to assist them. This is a dispute between the service provider and the union, and I would encourage both parties to make good use of the conciliator who is in place.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, April 7th is fast approaching. With $700 million of announcements over the last six months, one thing is clear about the action of this Tory Government - if you can't cut a ribbon, then you don't spend the money. That's quite simple. My final question to the minister is, why has the minister refused to show leadership on this issue by providing the necessary financial resources to ensure that the individuals he is ultimately responsible for are safely cared for?

MR. MORSE: I thank the member opposite for the chance to clarify just what commitment this government has made to this sector. Again, Mr. Speaker, I point out that while the department funds the sector, there are many service providers in this sector. One of the things that we have done as a government, we brought the standards up so that it's uniform across the province. We've brought geographic wage equity to this sector and I would assure the member opposite that we think that a $28 million increase in the wage package that's provided to this sector is quite significant. In fact, it approaches almost 50 per cent over four years.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: RESIDENTIAL CARE WORKERS -

WAGE DISPARITY

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. Members of the NSGEU Local 66 have returned to the Legislature out of concern for their clients and the working conditions. They are now less than a week from a possible job action. These counsellors work with intellectually disabled adults in small residential sites in HRM. They get $4 to $5 less than the workers do who do the same job in an institutional setting. I ask the Minister of Community Services, how could his department ignore such a glaring disparity in wages between workers doing the same job in different settings?

[Page 305]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think we've covered some of this territory with the previous question but for purposes of the member's question, again, I think that the commitment that has been made to this sector by this government is significant. I think the $28 million over four years speaks for itself and as such I would suggest that that is a tangible example of the commitment we have to the people we care for by funding these service providers scattered across the province.

MR. PYE: I would remind the honourable minister that the Premier campaigned on a campaign of fairness with respect to fairness from offshore benefits to Nova Scotians. The same thing can be said with respect to fairness on wage and wage parity. I'm telling you, Mr. Speaker, that development workers can very well receive the same sort of funding for the counselors. The NSGEU has proposed a joint conciliation board but the regional residential services has rejected the offer. So far there seems to be little will to resolve this issue without a strike. Families are worried about the care their loved ones will receive if job action is taken. I ask the Minister of Community Services, what contingency plans does his department have in place to provide the care for these residents should a strike occur?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his question. Clearly, the wish is that there not be a disruption in services but should that be the case, the expectation is of the service provider to have a continency plan in place.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, we have received word today that these residents will be removed from their homes by the end of the week. I ask the minister, how can you justify allowing these families suddenly to be faced with the burden of caring for their loved ones instead of stepping in to resolve a very important issue?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, once again the member highlights the point that it is the service provider that is ultimately responsible for delivering the service. We do fund the sector and we are funding the sector. We encourage both sides to get back to the table, make use of the conciliator that is in place and resolve this issue at the bargaining table.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PREM.: ELECTION PROMISES - BORROWED MONEY

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in the infamous Tory blue book from the last election, the Premier said that the previous government had made $200 million of promises leading up to the election. It goes on further to say, "They have cynically attempted to buy your vote while at the same time proposing to borrow against our children's future. There is a better way to govern Nova Scotia." Another speech, the now Premier said, "It's time for a government that respects Nova Scotians not just during elections but all the time." Finally, I have a list here of almost $700 million in spending commitments made by this government in the last six months. My question is, will the Premier enlighten the House as to why he no

[Page 306]

longer respects Nova Scotians, by cynically making election promises with money borrowed against our children's future?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, is the member opposite suggesting that multi-year funding to hospitals is a bad idea? Is the member opposite suggesting that the investment we talked about yesterday in the Strait-Richmond area that will allow development of the community college was a bad investment? Is the member opposite suggesting the investment we made to secure the jobs at Stora is a bad investment? If the member is suggesting that, stand up and say it. (Interruptions)

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

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Premier and this government have had four long years, and if you think you're fooling anyone in Nova Scotia - that $700 million is just a cynical attempt to buy votes, Mr. Premier. It shows what kind of respect you truly have, sir, as a person for the people of this province. Last election, the Premier was holier than thou in speaking about past governments and what his government would do once they got in office. The Premier said he would not add to the debt, yet four years later, $500 million on to the debt. He said $1.5 billion in Health was enough. He's now at $2 billion with no end in sight. Finally, he has now embarked upon close to $700 million in pre-election promises that will not even take effect before the end of his mandate.

Mr. Speaker, the Tory Government . . .

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

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Premier and the Tory Government are using the public purse as a pre-election fund. Will the Premier explain to Nova Scotians why he has jeopardized his own personal integrity by not living up to the word he gave Nova Scotians?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the member for Richmond that he was a member of the government that reported surpluses when there were huge deficits. I would remind the member for Richmond that a year ago he criticized the current government for bringing in a balanced budget with a very small surplus of just over $1 million. Just recently, by good management, this government has raised that surplus to $14 million. This government will manage through difficult times, many of the difficult times created by the government opposite.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this Premier said in 1999 that he would not mortgage his grandchildren's future or our children's future and you, sir, today have failed in that commitment that you have given to your grandchildren and to our children by the legacy you have left here in this province. This government clearly said it would not borrow money and mortgage the future of this province, yet today $700 million is committed beyond its own

[Page 307]

mandate. Once again we have a Tory Government that is trying to buy votes with Nova Scotian taxpayers' dollars. My final supplementary is, why won't the Premier simply apologize to the people of Nova Scotia for telling them one thing in 1999 and clearly doing the opposite today?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I have clearly failed to convince the member opposite, so I will ask the Minister of Finance to have a try.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I probably should do it in French, he would probably understand it more, but I will do it in English today. The member opposite indicates that we have made commitments in financial terms for the people of this province. One of the reasons that we can do so is that we balanced our budget. That is something, clearly, that that member who was a member of the previous government who stood in their place and told the people of the province they had a balanced budget when in reality they had $0.5 billion deficit. Why can we make announcements about community colleges, because we did what we said we would do. We brought sanity to the financial statements of this province so now we can invest for our people - something that they should be ashamed of that they didn't do so when they were in government.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: UNINSURED DRIVERS - NUMBERS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is going to be for the Premier. My office has learned that the number of people driving without auto insurance in Nova Scotia is on the rise. We've discovered that convictions for driving without auto insurance in Nova Scotia has increased by 41 per cent since 1997. That means last year there were more than 2,600 people who were convicted of driving without insurance and, Mr. Speaker, as you know, these are only the people who get caught. My question is, does the Premier have any idea how many people are driving without insurance today on the highways of Nova Scotia?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the numbers are not as dramatic as the honourable Leader of the Opposition is making out. In point of fact, I believe there were 2,619 last year, I believe that's the correct figure of people who were picked up without auto insurance. I believe the year before was 2,400-something, the year before that was 2,400-something, the year before that was 2,200-something. I think it's probably evidence of the greater protection that we are receiving from the RCMP in keeping people on line with regard to carrying pink cards.

[Page 308]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the number of people caught has increased by 40 per cent which means you can be sure that the total number of people driving without insurance is also increasing dramatically. This is a serious problem and a growing problem. These conviction statistics are for the last year and don't take into account the most recent spikes in auto insurance. Insurance premiums are skyrocketing to the point where many Nova Scotians cannot afford coverage. I would ask the Premier why they have done nothing to address skyrocketing rates and the dramatic increase in the number of uninsured drivers?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would dispute the fact that the number of uninsured drivers on the road is allied with the increase in insurance rates. Admittedly insurance rates have increased and so have the number of people who have been caught driving without auto insurance. However, I would point out to you that the numbers over the last four years have been relatively stable, therefore, there's no connection between the two. With regard to insurance, we will be debating that later in the day.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, under this government's watch the high cost of auto insurance is forcing Nova Scotians to break the law if they want to keep driving. An American consumer watchdog says 75 per cent of uninsured drivers would buy insurance if they could afford it. Mr. MacNab from River John was forced to drive without auto insurance. Some rural police officers are starting to say they are seeing more uninsured vehicles on the road. A stressed father of three in Halifax called my office a couple of weeks ago because high costs of insurance have forced him to drive without insurance. Premier, before the next election what are you going to do to lower auto insurance premiums?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the next election has got nothing to do with this matter at all. This is a matter of concern to all Nova Scotians who own automobiles and this government is taking positive steps to (Interruptions) If I could have the floor for a moment, this government is taking positive steps to derive from the opinions of Nova Scotians as to what actions they would prefer that we take. When we have the facts, we will indeed react.

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

KINGS NORTH MLA: NEWSPAPER ARTICLE - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question today is to the Premier. On June 25, 1999, the Premier said, "As Premier I will lead a government of honesty." I will table that document where that quote came from.

[Page 309]

On February 27th of this year, the member for Kings North wrote about a Cabinet Minister in your government lying to him and making him look bad politically. These are not my words, but words printed in the local paper: "I remember when I was first elected, I trusted everyone indiscriminately until I was burned by politicians of other parties, union leaders and members of the media. But perhaps the most troubling lesson on learning not to trust indiscriminately was when a Cabinet minister from my own party lied to me. Because of this lie, I ended up looking bad politically."

Mr. Speaker, I would ask the Premier, have you, Mr. Premier, discussed this matter with the member for Kings North and, if so, can you please tell the House what was the nature of your discussion, and which Cabinet Minister was involved in this incident?

THE PREMIER: The member opposite would have to acknowledge that over the last three and a half years this government has been forthright, it has delivered the kinds of things that it talked about in the election of 1999 - and it will continue to do so. If the member opposite wants information relative to a backbencher in this House, then I would suggest that he ask the backbencher.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, if that Premier will allow the backbencher to answer questions here in Question Period, I will ask him. Will you allow that member to answer the question? Mr. Premier, if you want him to answer the question, put him up in the front bench and let me ask him a question.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South is well aware that only ministers can answer questions for portfolios they are responsible for.

The honourable member for Cape Breton South on your first supplementary.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the member for Kings North has stated this situation with a government minister caused him political embarrassment, which is a pretty serious business. Don't forget, Premier, you said you would lead an honest government. Now a minister is being accused by a backbencher in that government of lying to him about an issue of public policy. So I ask again, Mr. Premier, will you tell this House who the minister was that lied to the member for Kings North?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I allowed the first part of the question because the member was reciting what he read in a local paper, but he just made the accusation himself that indeed there was a lie. I would ask the honourable member to rise and retract that statement please.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: I'll retract that statement and insert the word "misled".

[Page 310]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. The honourable Premier.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite has a question for the backbencher, I would suggest they meet outside and have a discussion.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the Premier may trivialize this issue - this is a matter of a member of his Executive Council dealing with one of his own backbenchers on a government policy. Either the member for Kings North is misleading Nova Scotians in his double-dipping column in The Daily News or a Cabinet Minister has deliberately misled that member; it's one of the two. Someone in your Cabinet, Premier, is involved in this and you're steadfastly refusing to tell members of this House and the people of Nova Scotia who that Cabinet Minister was. I would like again to ask the Premier who the Cabinet Minister was, what was the issue, and what is he going to do about it?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I would again suggest if the member opposite has a question for a member who is not part of the Government of Nova Scotia, there is a way in which he can have that question answered.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH: NURSING HOME CARE - ASSESSMENT PRACTICES

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Last November, the Department of Health announced changes to the financial assessment process for long-term care. This government would like people to see a caring government easing the strain on seniors and their families; what I see is lost revenue, lost bed days at nursing homes and full acute care beds, as the Department of Health eligibility review unit continues to target seniors' life savings to pay for nursing home care. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why is her department continuing with this unfair practice instead of doing the right thing and covering the health care costs of long-term care?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, we did make improvements to the assessment process, and we are going to be announcing a plan to begin to cover some of the medical costs of long-term care.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, this has been on the public agenda for some time and we are getting a little irritated at having to wait for what's an important issue in seniors' lives. In a memorandum to Cabinet obtained by my office, which I will table in a moment, the Department of Health admits that resource lands such as farms and woodlots is, "not accessible and difficult to sell." The department also admits the eligibility review unit has difficulty assessing information from life insurance companies. This document clearly shows the real reason woodlot farmland and insurance policies were

[Page 311]

exempted from the financial assessment. I want to ask the Minister of Health why didn't her department offer this analysis when the announcement was made in November?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the whole assessment process is a very difficult one for everyone involved, all the people involved. That is one of the reasons that although this issue has been on the public agenda for years and years, this government is finally doing something about it.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: This government is finally doing something about it because 20,000 Nova Scotians signed our petition. Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health memo also states that reducing the look-back period would increase the efficiency and timeliness of the financial determination process, and only after this assessment does the department mention that the change would be less burdensome on applicants and families. I want to ask the Minister of Health to admit that last year's changes were more about efficiencies and damage control than about offering real help for the seniors of Nova Scotia.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, earlier, the member for Halifax Needham talked about patients taking up acute-care beds while waiting for nursing-home beds and the inefficiency of the system. What we are attempting to do here is to be more humane, and improve efficiency, and help the seniors of Nova Scotia more than any previous governments in the last decade.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FIN.: PENSION INFO. - DELAY EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, even though the Minister of Finance will never be held accountable for the budget he is bringing down Thursday, his answers to questions surrounding the budget might still prove useful today. For example, on February 8th of this year I wrote to the minister and asked him to update Nova Scotians as to the financial health of the Teachers' Pension Plan and the government employees' pension plan. The response I received indicates that the Minister of Finance will not give a pension update until well after the budget has passed late in April. My question is, why is the minister delaying the release of pension information that should be readily available to the members of this House and to the people of Nova Scotia?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member opposite asked me for that information. I did write to him saying that is when the information will be ready. There are two pension plans, one of which is the Public Service Superannuation Plan and the other one is the Teachers' Pension Plan. One has its fiscal year at December 31st, the other one has March 31st. Both funds are being examined both for their value, but also some of the costs applicable to those plans. I indicated that late Spring, early Fall is when both plans will

[Page 312]

be tabled with the Clerk of the House and all members at that time will have that information.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's unbelievable that we are being asked to pass a budget and to examine a budget when these types of financial considerations are not going to be put before the House before that time. The fact is, we now know that Dalhousie, for example, their pension plan will need an additional $35 million. The City of Saint John, New Brunswick, needs to find an additional $40 million and the Government of New Brunswick has indicated that they will have to find over $70 million to shore up their pension funds.

[4:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotia is not immune to the market conditions that we have witnessed in the last year. My question again to the minister is why won't he simply tell Nova Scotians how much these pension plans have lost and how much it will cost the Nova Scotia taxpayer to bring them up to where they need to be?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I indicated to the member opposite when the information will be forthcoming. That's consistent with how it was in previous years. For the member to say otherwise is not the case.

The other thing, Mr. Speaker, I will be tabling a budget in this House on Thursday and in that budget there will be information about how much additional cost the Nova Scotia taxpayer will be forced to bear because of the evaluation of those two pension plans. I can't be any clearer than that and for the member to ask for the information in advance of those two events is inappropriate. It will come forward and the people of Nova Scotia will have the information.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, keep in mind that this is the Minister of Finance who sat as a member of the Executive Council under the Buchanan Government that said don't worry about the teachers' plan, don't worry about the workers' compensation unfunded liability. Everything is fine, nothing to worry about, pay no attention to those. That's what we're hearing again from this minister. Other jurisdictions have been upfront with their taxpayers in saying here is what it is going to cost us and here is our plan to deal with that. This minister has refused to do so and says here today that he will not make that information available before the budget is delivered.

My question, again, Mr. Speaker, is how can this minister ask us to look at a budget and accept the budget when he will not tell Nova Scotians what type of liability exists in these pension funds as a result of last year's market conditions?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I am getting to be more and more convinced that he needs a course in listening rather than on finance.

[Page 313]

Mr. Speaker, I said very clearly that in the budget that the information will be there on how much more contributions we will have to book in regard to those two pension plans. I was very clear. The member opposite denied that I said that. That's not the case. On the other side of it, both pension plans will have their annual reports tabled in this House, the people's House, so they will have this information. The member opposite is asserting that that will not happen. I don't know how many times I can repeat the same answer to the same question. If he asks it again, the answer won't change. The people will know something that they obviously know nothing about.

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

EDUC.: DOMINION COMPLEX - FED. ASSISTANCE DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the people of industrial Cape Breton are feeling battered and bruised by this government. Not only have they had to endure years of hard work and see their jobs gone and other economic infrastructure, now the people of Dominion know this all too well. The new Minister of Education, when he was first inducted, would not meet these parents, yet sent down his high flying deputy minister to tell them no, there will be no school for Dominion.

Well, we all know that the federal government, the Liberals, have a lot of responsibility here with the mess around the MacDonald Complex with subsidence. So I want to ask the Acting Minister of Education what did the federal government say to you when you went to negotiate on behalf of the residents of Dominion for assistance in replacing the Dominion Complex?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will find that information out and get back to the honourable member.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I would just say that that was a trite answer but that minister who just answered was the actual Minister of Education when that disaster happened and she should have known the answer, because on that fateful day in October 2002, had an arsonist burnt that school it would have been replaced today but because of the federal government's mismanagement of the coal fields, no one has taken responsibility.

Last fall when I asked this same minister about whether her department had done an assessment of all the schools in the Cape Breton coal fields she said her department had that information. So I want to ask the minister if the department had that information, why did you force the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board to do a new assessment and why did you download the cost to them?

[Page 314]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that the provincial government pays for those costs. The Department of Education school board have done a lot of work on those schools. The new schools are built to withstand some subsidence, this particular school was not. The important thing here is that the students are receiving a very good education, and I will get back to the honourable member with the answer to his first question.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, the Tory Government that constructed that school knew it was built over a mine shaft. They knew that and yet they're still pussyfooting around it. In a briefing note obtained by my office, the minister's messaging is clear, no matter what happens, take no blame, put it on the school board, put it on the feds, we're not taking any blame, it ain't our fault. Since you seem ready to lay the responsibility at someone else's doorstep instead of your department doing their job, can you tell this House what your government's action plan is to get the federal government to own up to their responsibility and help to replace the MacDonald Complex in Dominion?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it is not this member who is getting up and blaming the federal government for everything, I understood that to be the member opposite. I undertake to get back to the member about negotiations regarding the school. That being said, I repeat what I said in my previous answer, the students from that school are receiving an excellent education and that is the most important thing.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM.: VENTILATION STANDARDS -

APPROVAL EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister responsible for Health Promotion. Last year regulations were prepared for the Smoke-free Places Act, and included in regulations were ventilation standards. Interestingly enough, the organization which sets the standards being followed will not accept responsibility for the harmful effects of tobacco smoke and referred to another standard, the EPA standard. My question, simply, to the minister is, why have you approved ventilation standards from an organization that has absolved themselves of responsibility when it comes to the harmful effects of cigarette smoke?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can clearly indicate to the member that the standards were clearly outlined in the regulations.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, the original standard, the ASHRAE standard that is being followed and used here in Nova Scotia is actually silent when cigarette smoke is present. The other standard, the EPA standard, says that all exposure to cigarette smoke should be avoided. There should be no exposure to smoke. So you have one that's silent, not

[Page 315]

commenting, not taking responsibility for any levels if there's cigarette smoke present, and then it refers to an EPA which says cigarette smoking is bad. My question to the minister is, why have you adopted a ventilation standard that is silent when smoke is present and refers to another standard that states cigarette smoke be avoided? Why have you adopted a ventilation standard that does absolutely nothing to protect people, especially workers, from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I think there's about two or three questions in there, I'm not really sure. I will take one of them. The fact is that the standards for ventilation are clearly outlined in the regulations. I will bring them forward for the member tomorrow, if he doesn't have them on hand now. I do not have them in front of me. I can assure the member that the standards that we put in are being followed, with respect to the expectation of our inspectors around the province.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, what I'm saying in bringing these concerns to the House today as these very regulations and these groups that are governing this are really not speaking on the difficulties, the carcinogens that are present in cigarette smoke. What is clear is that the ventilation standards that the minister is using will not guarantee that they can protect from the harmful effects of cigarette smoke. My question to the minister is, how can he stand here in his place today and say that he is protecting the health of Nova Scotians, when clearly he is not?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's quite ironic, coming from a former Minister of Health, who had the opportunity to bring something forward to this House, to have it debated on the floor with regard to smoke-free places, and didn't do it, with a government that didn't do it. This government, on the other hand, had the fortitude to do so.

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

JUSTICE: DRIVING SUSPENSIONS - DRUG INFLUENCE

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. The Minister of Justice's colleague, the Minister of Service Nova Scotia wants to be the next

Marshal Dillon in Nova Scotia. An election's coming and he's going to clean up the streets by suspending for 24 hours anyone who the police suspect - just suspect - might be under the influence of something other than alcohol and it will be on the record for up to 10 years even if they are never convicted of a crime, without due process and no presumption of innocence. So I want to ask the Minister of Justice, is the Minister of Justice aware that there are already stringent provisions in the Criminal Code to deal with convictions for impairment of under the influence of alcohol or other drugs?

[Page 316]

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the bill is before the Legislature. The honourable member knows that, but I would just would like to know if he thinks that if people appear to be impaired they should be allowed to stay on the street and continue driving?

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I gather the Minister of Justice, maybe if he doesn't know much about the Criminal Code, will talk about the court decision yesterday. Yesterday the Provincial Court stayed proceedings against a Nova Scotia woman charged with simple possession of marijuana. The federal government, according to the Minister of Justice federally, is saying they intend to decriminalize marijuana yet this minister, yesterday, was saying that his government does not have a plan for dealing either with that decision yesterday or what will happen after the fact if the government does decriminalize it.

Mr. Speaker, the law is changing rapidly. Other than trampling on the rights of people who are even just suspected of being under the influence, what is the Minister of Justice doing to ensure the police have proper procedures when the law of possession does change?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that is a federal matter and the thing is actually in the court of the federal Minister of Justice. For what it's worth, I had a conversation with the federal Minister of Justice about 10 days ago. One of the topics was the progress that the federal government was making in that particular matter to which he refers. The federal minister told me that they were progressing and he expects to come to a decision and have something in the House certainly by the summer.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, I guess we can all break out the Doritos now. Given today's insurance market, you may as well mark these drivers with a scarlet letter. Insurers will jack up their rates enormously and they will pay through the nose for years - all this because of a mere suspicion. I want to ask the Minister of Justice, will the minister advise us if he believes a mere suspicion by the police is sufficient to create such financial hardship for innocent victims?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, it sounds like one lawyer talking to another lawyer. The information that I have (Interruptions) Well, you know, lawyers like to play with that, but I think the honourable member is sadly misguided about his interpretation of that section of that proposed legislation.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Victoria.

EMO: FLOOD LOSSES - COMPENSATION CRITERIA

MR. KENNETH MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization. We are all aware of the hardships that many Nova Scotians have been experiencing over the last 48 hours. Floods have affected many areas across the province and apparently victims will likely be able to apply for

[Page 317]

assistance. However, people still don't have any good idea of what the criteria is and who can apply. My question to the minister is, will the minister outline to the House today what the compensation criteria is for people who have suffered loss due to the recent floods?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The important issues that are facing the Emergency Measures people at this point in time are the protection of life in this situation. That's the process they're going through now. As soon as they have rationalized that process, they will begin the matter of evaluation of the damages throughout Nova Scotia, and at that point in time the information will be made available as to where Nova Scotians can register their damages and submit their claims.

[4:15 p.m.]

MR. MACASKILL: Again, Mr. Speaker, to the minister responsible for Emergency Measures. Unfortunately, some of the recent flood victims are going to be experiencing some hardships in the near future. Some people are not going to be able to fix the necessities needed to ensure that their homes are livable. These people will need to know what this government is going to do for them now, not next year, but now. So my question to the minister is, how long will this government take to compensate the victims of the recent flood? Will it take a week? Will it take three weeks? Will it take a year? Will it take six months? Will the minister tell us today how long he thinks this will take?

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, the process is very clear in that the first part of the process is that we have to identify the costs. Those costs then have to be evaluated as to the validity of some of the costs that are being requested be compensated. Once that process is completed and we have a number, Cabinet will be asked to approve the package. The provincial government will immediately begin to reimburse those individuals who have claims as a result of the disaster and subsequent to that we will make our claim to the federal government for reimbursement. This process will not take a month or two months or three months, this process will kick in very quickly.

MR. MACASKILL: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary will go to the Premier. Due to the recent floods, many roads were damaged and were under water. Just a year ago there was a report done outlining the many bridges across this province that were unsafe. Still, yesterday, there has been an incident of a bridge that was washed away. My question to the Premier is, what assurance can you give to the people of Nova Scotia that our bridges are safe, and what is your province going to do about them?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that the condition of the bridges in Nova Scotia is a concern to the Government of Nova Scotia. There is a process that has been undertaken to evaluate all of the bridges in Nova Scotia. We have done an inventory of the expenditures that would be required to complete the twinning of our highways to put the 100-and 200-Series Highways in appropriate condition and, as well, to

[Page 318]

upgrade the some 1,700 bridges in the province that require a significant amount of work. That process is ongoing and I thank the member opposite for the question because it is a concern. Bridges in Nova Scotia are part of our aging infrastructure and will require, over the next number of years, a very substantial investment.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect. You have about 25 seconds.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS.:

TIMBERLEA-PROSPECT - ROAD CONDITIONS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Twenty-five seconds. I have a picture to table here of a school bus buried to the axles, 15 minutes from this House. I ask the acting Minister of Transportation what does that say about the condition of the roads in Timberlea-Prospect?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the honourable member . . .

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

MR. RUSSELL: I will give you the answer tomorrow.

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 the adjourned debate on the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne be now resumed.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East, you have approximately 40 minutes.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm glad to be able to continue. I would like to raise some issues in my constituency. Actually, one thing I do want to say to the members of the government is a thank you, I think, for some help I have been able to get from the government. Since my election in 1998, there have been three elementary schools built in my constituency. I want to give credit actually, for the first one of those to the

[Page 319]

community of Lantz, that building construction started in 1998, but the work of getting it can be attributed to the efforts of the residents of Lantz. Although I raised it in the House here for two or three months, the election was in March and the House went back in in May, so that would give some idea of the short time we would have had an opportunity to raise this issue. I would say that it was the efforts of the residents more so than myself that actually brought that school to completion.

New schools in Enfield and Elmsdale were actually approved by the Liberal Government. I would say, even though the honourable member for Clare was the minister on the announcement of the second school, which was built in Elmsdale, I think his predecessor, the honourable Robert Harrison, actually made the approval for that building. I want to thank both those ministers for whatever efforts they made, and I want to thank the Premier because he lived up to a commitment that he would build that school in Elmsdale during the 1999 campaign, it had been approved. He said he would follow through with the commitment that the Liberals made, and he did that. I want to thank him. I know the people appreciate it.

I want to also thank the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works, the honourable Ronald Russell for helping get some pavement in Hants East. I think probably the minister before him, the member for Digby-Annapolis, who was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works for a short while (Interruptions) How soon we forget, the members don't even remember that that member was Minister of Transportation and Public Works after the 1999 election. I had him out, bounced him over the roads of Hants East, and very quickly he went for another portfolio. I thank him, I thank them both for the help they gave me. It's appreciated.

I certainly don't intend to go away on the issues of roads. The roads in Hants East are particularly bad, I have to say, certainly this time of year. In particular one road, called the Barr Settlement Road, I would have thought five years ago that I would have been able to try to get some work done on that road, some gravel on that road, a little bit every year so that in five years it might have been completed, and I have been able to accomplish almost zilch. We've gotten a little bit done, but we have come nowhere near what that road needs. I have to say it's one of my major frustrations in this job.

Certainly I appreciate, and I know the residents in my constituency appreciate, the work that I have been able to get from the Tory Government. There have been roads that were in very bad shape that actually have been fixed and repaved. My list - as I take one road off the list, I add another one to it. I will continue, I think, to bring these roads to the attention of the minister. I know that for members in all three Parties, definitely those of us who are rural MLAs, this is a major issue for our constituents.

[Page 320]

If there is any advice, I wish the members of the government side would take from me, it would be that they establish a priority list so that we can actually tell our constituents this is what's going to happen to this road and when. I think most people are quite reasonable. If they knew that their road would be paved in two years or five years, they would be willing to wait, especially if they see that it happens. If you say it's going to be in two years and it happens in two years, that would be an excellent selling point to make the people think that their money is going to something that's important to them.

Another important issue in my constituency is the issue of health care. I stated yesterday that I have a section of my constituency that's a large rural area. Quite often we refer to it as the Hants North section of Hants East. This would include the communities that would be in the Rawdon area, as well as Kennetcook, Noel, Maitland, South Maitland, et cetera. I have to give credit to the East Hants Community Health Board. This is a group of dedicated individuals. Although the members change from time to time, there has been a core of individuals who work very hard, giving their own time and themselves for the benefit of health care for the people of Hants East. I've been quite impressed because they held public meetings, they devised the plan, they have it published. They took it to the Department of Health under the former minister, the Honourable James Muir, and I want to say that I think the members of that board have become frustrated because I think they feel that Hants East is actually in the wrong health authority district.

It seems to them that it would be more practical if Hants East was in the capital district. Mount Uniacke, one section of my constituency, is in the capital district and I think the people in my constituency travel basically in two directions. They either travel toward Windsor which is in the capital district or they travel toward Halifax which is also in the capital district. So they seem to have been thrown into the area with Colchester and this is not the natural flow for these people. As a matter of fact, we've had criticisms of people being picked up in ambulances and taken to Truro when their doctors are in Halifax and even against their will saying, no, I don't want to go there, they were taken to Truro. Now, if you can imagine someone's plight if they're ill and in a very stressful health situation, but to be taken in a direction that you don't want to go, they're just compounding the illness.

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that it amazed me when people brought these concerns to me and I took them to the minister and he assured me that, no, this wouldn't happen any more but it keeps happening. To reasonable people, you have to ask yourself why would someone do this? Why would the ambulance providers take these people in a direction that they really don't want to go? Well, our only thought was they wanted the numbers to look good. If you can get that district's numbers up by hauling people from Hants East there, then you can make a proposal for whatever health care needs you have or you aspire to by saying here are our numbers, but if you inflate the numbers by taking people who really shouldn't be going there, then you're not really making a valid case. I want to say, and I'm not going to detract from the efforts of people in other communities, but certainly it looks as though the Truro area will get a new hospital. I think the funding seems to be in place or the plan is

[Page 321]

in place to put a new hospital in Truro. I think Tatamagouche is going to get a new hospital and these are going to be paid for by the province.

The people in Hants East would like a multi-service centre. They would like something like the Cobequid Multi-Service Centre and they're being very practical. They know they can't get all that at once, but what they've come down to is a resource centre and in that resource centre there will be a number of clients, let's say, people who will be renting space, but all the health care services, blood collection, et cetera, that go on in Hants East now in two or three different areas will all be put together in this one facility which is a good idea.

The kicker in this, Mr. Speaker, is that the municipality is being asked to build the facility. Now, I'm not sure what the population in the Tatamagouche area is; I think I was told it was around 7,000 people. In the Hants East area, just in what we call the corridor which would be from Enfield to Shubenacadie, we have 10,000 voters just in that area. Yet Tatamagouche is able to get a facility paid for by the taxpayers of the Province of Nova Scotia, but in Hants East it's the municipality that's paying a $5 million bill. I think that's unfair. I think the province has a responsibility to give to my residents some level of funding, other than just renting the space.

[4:30 p.m.]

I would say that this is particularly troublesome in the sense that I know that the community health board there developed a plan when some of the other jurisdictions didn't have a plan. Yet they've been able to get facilities without a plan and my area hasn't been able to get one even though they had a plan for about four years.

This is something I'd like the government to think about and I intend to bring this to the minister during estimates. We heard the minister today talk about the fact that the province gives three-year funding to the health authorities so they know in advance and they can plan. Well, that planning hasn't helped the people of Hants East as far as I can see. Obviously whatever funding she's given, it's either that district authority is not giving much of it to the Hants East area or the province didn't give enough. Certainly the Tory part of that authority seems to have been taken care of better than the New Democratic part of that authority, which is the part that I represent. So I'll be looking for an explanation as to why the Municipality of East Hants has to fund the construction of that building when that burden is not being placed on the municipalities in any other part of that district.

Another area I'd like to address is around a similar area that my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North, had raised questions today. I have in my area, in Lantz in particular, some group homes. These homes have been there for some time, for some years now, to take care of the needs of some mentally challenged individuals and mentally challenged adults. We also have the counterpart to those group homes which is a facility

[Page 322]

called Corridor Community Options in Enfield which actually puts on programs for these adults and they earn a wage from this program.

This has been an extremely successful program. Actually, I'd like to see the province expand this program. There are people in my constituency and I know that this applies throughout other constituencies as well where there are no facilities available, who have mentally challenged adults in their families. The parents are becoming elderly, it's becoming a challenge for them to take care of their child as they become an adult and there's still not enough facilities for them to feel assured that this child will have some place to go when they pass on.

I'd like to see the Department of Community Services actually start to fund this even at a greater level and the people who run the group homes in Lantz - I didn't realize until recently there's a difference in the approach that the department takes in these facilities because the people who operate the Corridor Community Options, they have a pension plan through the department. But the people who run the group homes don't and I'm quite surprised. People who are doing similar work under the Department of Community Services are treated quite differently. Actually, the group homes have not had a budget approved - the last budget approved for the group homes was in 1993-94. We're almost up to 10 years since they actually had a budget they could rely on, that they actually knew what they were doing.

For those people running the Lantz group home, they need a new van. That's how they get the people to the Corridor Community Options in Enfield. They transport them in the van they have. Their van is not going to pass inspection, number one, and plus all the issues around insurance, but yet they have no funding in order to replace the van. Maybe it seems like a lot to the government, but it's going to seriously impact their ability to carry out programs for these individuals.

I'd like to see the Minister of Community Services come up with some type of reasonable funding that they can plan year to year because actually they've been running deficits.

The province has been kicking in money to take care of those deficits on occasion, like once a year or whatever, to carry them through the next year, but there's been no long-term planning in terms of funding or budgeting for these groups - and they've been around long enough they actually should be able to make a fairly good prediction about the funding. That's for those who are established now; that's not considering the extra capacity that's not being met by the government. Actually those people who are out there who should be in these facilities and we don't have the facilities to place them in, I will get to the Minister of Community Services on that issue at some other point.

[Page 323]

The other issue I would like to see the province approach is in relation to the Native community in my constituency - Indian Brook Reserve is in my constituency. I want the members to know that some of the finest people I represent are there. These are people who have aspirations and hopes for their children; they have plans and dreams, and they really want to see their children succeed. That's no different than the people I know in any other community. I'm always amazed at how we go out of our way to make their lives difficult, whether it's in their access to resources, the harvesting of trees in this province, something that will invite a company, a foreign company in and will give them millions of acres to use and we can't give a few acres to people who were here before we got here. The thinking, to me, is totally wrong.

These are people who actually should have access to resources, so they can generate wealth in their community and get off that wheel of dependence. If anybody thinks they enjoy that or appreciate that, they are wrong. They haven't spent much time talking to people in the Native community in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, the people in this province have so much to offer the country, and I'm always disappointed when I hear politicians like the Leader of the Alliance Party say that we have a culture of defeatism in the East. That's an unfair criticism of the people of Nova Scotia or the Atlantic Region in general. I think the people of Nova Scotia have shown their resilience, they've shown their creativity. We just actually paid tribute to Mr. Donovan in this House on his genius in his ability to create works of art that the public gets a message from and is recognized by his peers for doing that. We don't have to play second fiddle to anybody in this province, and I think that the more we can encourage the best in our people, then that pays dividends for us all.

There is one other serious issue I would like to see addressed by the government in my constituency, and that is around the issue of a moratorium on nursing home licences. We have people in my area who are perfectly willing to build nursing homes and there are people in my area who want to stay. There are seniors in my area who know they're going to need nursing home care and they don't want to leave their communities, they would like to have a facility there, and this moratorium on licences has caused real problems in my constituency.

In my Village of Enfield, Serenity Lodge home care was built - it has four apartments - by a family, in particular to house their mother whose health was failing, and they've taken three other seniors in as well. They were told some years ago that there was a moratorium, it would stay on for two years - we're well past the two-year stage and nothing has been done to address their concerns or to answer why there is still a moratorium and why the province isn't willing to apply some funding to help them provide the care that they want to provide for the people in this nursing home.

[Page 324]

This is an issue I would like to see the province deal with in my area. Practically all the seniors who need nursing care in Hants East have to leave, they have to go to Musquodoboit Harbour, they go to Windsor, they go to Halifax, they go somewhere but precious few of them can stay in their communities. This is important to them because they want to stay handy to their families and handy to their friends. I would think that in those later years in your life when you know you need care, it would be nice to at least have a few options in the community that you've become accustomed to.

I started out by mentioning the Hants North area of my constituency and when I think about the corridor area, there is fairly ample medical service but if you live in the Rawdons or Kennetcook or Maitland or wherever, the issue is quite different. The three areas are represented by three separate community clinics; there is the Rawdon Hills Health Centre, the Hants North Medical Centre in Noel and the Kennetcook Clinic in Kennetcook, and these have all come under a singe umbrella which is the Hants North Area Health Co-operative.

This co-operative has actually made it possible for those clinics to obtain doctors and sometimes I think, from the experience I've had, the Department of Health almost seems to hinder the ability of a community to get a doctor. As a matter of fact, we've had communities that have found a doctor and couldn't seem to get the Department of Health to approve the hiring of the doctor. The Department of Health didn't find them, as a matter of fact I'm not sure that the Department of Health has found any doctors for my community. The people have found them and have had running battles with the Department of Health trying to get them hired.

We are at the stage or soon will be at a stage where I think they are going to hire a nurse practitioner. We are all looking forward to the positive possibilities that that will mean for those communities and certainly that's a direction I'd encourage the government to go. I'm looking forward to seeing how this works out for those areas.

I think the important thing is that we have people there who have really given of themselves to try to fulfill the needs of health care for those communities. They are doing a good job but they really could use some support from their government and that's the message I want to take to the government today.

Mr. Speaker, I do want the members to know, and I think the people of Hants East, that I consider it a real privilege and an honour to represent them and certainly it's my intention to try to do that in the future. They are people, I think, who are quite reasonable and what they ask of their government is not things that are outlandish. They are quite sensible and pragmatic in their approach to what government can do for them.

I have had some good support from my association and the people of Hants East generally and certainly from my family. When we see any one of us sitting here what we don't see are all the people around them who make it possible for us to keep doing this and

[Page 325]

nobody can do this alone or without support. To all those people and my family in particular I say thank you. To my colleagues, this has been a real education and I have come to appreciate the talents of the people around me. I have to say a better group I don't know that it exists, but I'm sure people have said that in the past and there's a revolving door on this place and there always seem to be good people showing up. I don't necessarily aspire to be here as long as the member for Cape Breton Nova, but I'm sure that I'll have a bout of common sense at some point and know when it's time to leave. To all members I say thank you, I've appreciated the help and I've enjoyed the chance to get to know everyone here. With that, Mr. Speaker, I'll take my place, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to rise and respond to the Speech from the Throne of Thursday, March 27, 2003. Someone might say déjà vu but, however, I'm sure that in the next little while we will have a chance to look back through the last four years.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, the last Throne Speech from this Tory Government was on Thursday, March 22, 2001, delivered by Her Honour the Lieutenant Governor of Nova Scotia and here we are two years later on the eve of a possible Spring election and the government decides to bring in the Speech from the Throne. I'm sure there are many people in our province who have been asking themselves why is this Tory Government bringing in this Speech from the Throne now, but I believe the people of Nova Scotia know the answer to that question and they certainly understand why the Tory Government has decided to bring the Speech from the Throne at this stage. They know there's going to be an election soon. They know the election campaigning has unofficially started. They know this Speech from the Throne is pure Tory propaganda.

The people of Nova Scotia won't be fooled by this exercise, Mr. Speaker. They remember quite well what this Tory Government has done in the last four years. They remember all the new fees and taxes introduced by the Tories. They remember the Tories promising they would fix health care. They remember the "no new taxes" promise. They remember the Tory members telling them the need to tighten our belts. The only problem, these Tory members will remember themselves what they've done in the last four years, but I have a strange feeling they will soon find out. I can tell you there are many people in our province waiting for the right opportunity to remind some of my colleagues on the opposite benches. That opportunity is coming. As others have said in this House, political Parties will do their campaigning and I'm sure from all sides of the House that campaigning will certainly take place. However, the voters in Nova Scotia will decide who they want to vote for.

[Page 326]

Mr. Speaker, coming back to the Throne Speech, this Throne Speech is an attempt by this government to try to tell Nova Scotians what a wonderful job they've been doing in the last four years. Well, let the people of Nova Scotia decide that and I'm sure they will in the next election, but I've learned that in politics the people are always right and if the people of Clare and the people of Nova Scotia believe that the Tory Government is right, then we know what the outcome of the next provincial election is going to be, but I have a strange feeling that there are going to be some surprises on election night.

Mr. Speaker, some people believe that this Throne Speech is nothing more than recycling the famous Tory blue book of 243 promises from the last election with a few exceptions. The Tories are repromising the commitments that they have made to Nova Scotians that they have ignored for four years. Looking at the Throne Speech, and I will go to Page 9, it states better health care.

Mr. Speaker, I'm sure you remember when John Hamm, Leader of the Tory Party, told Nova Scotians in 1999 - again this famous Tory blue book, Page 1 - "As your Premier, my first priority will be to fix the health care system." We all remember this famous Tory promise. Here we are four years later and you just have to ask the people of Nova Scotia, do they have a better health care system today than they did in 1999?

Also, Mr. Speaker, I'm sure everyone remembers the Premier promising that he could fix the health care system for $46 million. In 1999, the health care budget was approximately $1.5 billion. Today, 2003, we are spending somewhere around $2 billion in the health care budget. That's $500 million more in new money going into health care. So four years ago, John Hamm was promising the people of Nova Scotia he could fix health care for $46 million and today, with $500 million of new money, you just have to wonder what happened along the way.

Mr. Speaker, I don't think the Premier knew what he was talking about then, let alone where he's going now. Are we are just planning to put more money in health care, year after year? I'm sure people are wondering what's been going on. Some recent polling numbers, 88 per cent of the people of Nova Scotia feel that the health care system has not been fixed as promised by the Leader of the Tory Party back in 1999.

Mr. Speaker, here are just a few stats to show how Nova Scotia ranks with other provinces. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of deaths from cancer. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of death from breast cancer. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of deaths from respiratory diseases. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of arthritis. Nova Scotia has the highest rate of hospitalization for chronic diseases. Nova Scotia has the second-highest death rate for 100,000 people. Nova Scotia has the second-lowest life expectancy. There are all kinds of other statistics. At least, I'm sure the people of Nova Scotia are seeing what type of health care we have in this province.

[Page 327]

A couple of weeks ago, Mr. Speaker, our Tory Government came out with a document entitled, Your Health Matters, which is simply an overview of the government's old health care promises. Our Health Critic has been calling upon the government for years now to show us the plan. Again, on the eve of an election call, what do we see? The Tory Government desperately trying to put something together at the last minute, calling it a plan. The obvious question is, will this plan help any Nova Scotian to be healthier? Will it save lives?

Mr. Speaker, looking at the Throne Speech, Page 10, it starts, "We also have more nurses . . ." Well, let's look at the numbers of registered nurses in our province. In 1999 we had 9,638 nurses. In 2000 we had 9,620, going down. In 2001 we had 9,515, still going down. Then last year in 2002 we dropped down to 8,285. This year we have slightly gone up to 8,431. We have 1,199 fewer nurses registered this year than we had in 1999. That is 1,199 nurses less than we had four years ago. I believe there's an explanation as to why we have 1,199 fewer nurses in Nova Scotia, but before I explain why, does anyone remember seeing in the Tory blue book on Page 9, "During its first mandate, a PC Government will address the critical shortage of nurses by:", and they have a whole list of recommendations. I just hope that they were working.

Mr. Speaker, another Tory broken promise. Everyone remembers how this Tory Government has treated nurses in this province since they came to power and I hope that the members on the government benches remember Bill No. 68 and sitting late at night at the Law Amendments Committee listening to presentations made by nurses and other health care workers. So today where we have 1,199 nurses less, is it any wonder why we have fewer nurses? It's a shame what this Tory Government did to nurses in our province. I would like to tell you, Mr. Speaker, don't expect nurses and their families to forget Bill No. 68. I can tell you, in speaking with nurses at home, they are waiting for the Tory candidates to knock on their doors this time around.

Mr. Speaker, looking back at the Throne Speech, Page 5, ". . . when every Nova Scotian has access to a family doctor". All I can say is I wish. I remember getting a call from an older gentleman from the Weymouth area last year telling me that he had spent some time at the hospital here in Halifax and before he was discharged the specialist had gone to see him and asked who his family doctor was. The specialist, of course, wanted to send his medical reports to his family doctor. The man told the specialist that he didn't have a family doctor and then the specialist asked this man why don't you have a family doctor? This older man started crying and told the specialist that he couldn't find a family doctor.

Mr. Speaker, there are still many communities throughout Nova Scotia that are looking for doctors and specialists and there are many stories like this one that I just told you about this individual from the Weymouth area. I hope someday every Nova Scotian will have access to a family doctor.

[Page 328]

[5:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, looking at Page 9 of the Throne Speech it talks about, "These are the requirements for healthier Nova Scotia we spoke of in 1999. These are the measures we have been working hard to put in place." I'm not sure if the people in several communities in Southwestern Nova Scotia, especially in Lockeport, Barrington Passage, Meteghan, at home, or in Freeport on Digby Neck would agree with this one measure in particular that this Tory Government has put in place in their communities.

You may ask, what is this measure? What am I talking about? As of May 1, 2002, every time someone goes to the four satellite blood clinics in these communities they have to pay $7 every time they go for blood work at these blood clinics. More user fees. Some of these individuals don't have a choice to have blood work done at home in their communities. They don't own a vehicle to travel to their local hospital, either at the Roseway Hospital in Shelburne or at the Yarmouth Regional in Yarmouth or at the Digby General in Digby. Plus, there's no public transportation or bus service in these rural communities. Many of these individuals are living on a fixed income and they don't have extra money to hire someone to drive them to the hospital, let alone find the extra money to pay for this blood work. Mr. Speaker, I think you would agree with me that this is not right. Some people in Nova Scotia have to pay for blood work and others don't have to pay for blood work in Nova Scotia. This is not right and the Tory Government knows this is not right. Yet, they're the ones which allow this to go on.

This decision has had some impact, especially on the less fortunate in my area. I truly hope that no one is going to put their health at risk by not having regular blood work done because they can't afford it.

I want to share with you one call in particular that I have received over this issue. It was from a man who was retired, living on a fixed income. He told me that he had worked all his life and paid taxes all his life. He always believed, he truly believed that when he retired someday the health care system would be there for him. This man is very upset towards this new policy, towards this new measure. You can't blame him for being upset, he feels this is clearly pure discrimination and I agree with him. He told me that he believed the Tories when they promised they would fix health care in the last election.

AN HON. MEMBER: So did a lot of Nova Scotians.

MR. GAUDET: That's right. I'm sure he wasn't the only one who believed the Tories as well. Maybe this man, maybe these folks who have not been listened to, maybe they can't do anything right now, but with an election coming I'm sure they will have a say. In politics I've learned you always have to go back and knock on those very same doors to see those voters who voted for you the first time around. Mr. Speaker, as you are aware, getting re-

[Page 329]

elected sometimes is harder the second time around. This new measure is not right and the government knows it's not right and yet they're letting this go on.

Mr. Speaker, I want to turn to Page 7 of the Throne Speech and I quote, "Last year my government introduced the first truly balanced budget in 40 years." Mr. Speaker, I'm sure that you have been asked and probably more than once, as other members on both sides of the House have been asked by their constituents just like I have, how can we have a balanced budget and need to borrow $100 million this year again? Try to run your household like that and you will understand why people don't believe you. I want to go back to The Chronicle-Herald on June 26, 1999, when John Hamm, the Leader of the Tory Party was asked, will you ensure that the provincial debt does not go up during your term? John Hamm said - he said this, I did not say that - a PC Government is committed to reducing the provincial debt. Over our first four year mandate we will ensure the debt, that being the true debt, that includes all on-book and off-book borrowing, will not increase. That's what John Hamm said back then, but now it doesn't matter, I guess.

Well, Mr. Speaker, let's look at the facts. Let's look at the facts. In the year 2000-01 the actual increase on the debt was $117 million. In 2001-02 the forecast was $189.4 million. In 2002-03 the estimate was $100.4 million and this year the estimate for 2003-04 is $102.2 million. These are the government's figures. So everyone except this Tory Government understands that a balanced budget has still not been met, but what I can't understand is since 1999, until a few months ago, the Tories have been telling Nova Scotians we need to tighten our belts. How many times have you seen members on the front benches telling people around this province we need to tighten our belts, the government can't afford that, but in the last several months the Tory Government has been on a spending spree and I'm sure that's going to continue until the election is over. We've seen that time and time again, but there are many people at home who have been asking me, and I'm sure they have been asking you, where has the Tory Government found all this money all of a sudden.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you these post-dated cheques and further commitments - the people of Nova Scotia will not be fooled by all these Tory announcements that they have made so far, with more to come, of course, to try to buy their votes going into the next election. The next election campaign has not officially been called, but everyone expects the election call to come soon. The government can't continue spending money. This afternoon my colleague, the member for Richmond County, indicated that so far the government has spent well over $700 million of new money.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that many people, not just at home in Clare but right across this province, believe that the election campaign has already started with all these Tory announcements, with more to come. Since this Tory Government came to office, our debt continues to grow, as I pointed out earlier. Since they've been in office, they have added well over $500 million to our provincial debt, over $500 million. Again, as I pointed out earlier, when John Hamm was asked back on June 26, 1999, will you ensure that the

[Page 330]

provincial debt does not go up during your term? John Hamm said that he would not increase our provincial debt. Well, double talk, flip-flop, what has gone on here? Over $500 million has been added to our provincial debt.

Mr. Speaker, what is worrying a lot of people is this Tory Government still has not come up with a plan to address our provincial debt of $11.6 billion that continues to grow, and will grow again this year. We will see that on Thursday when the Minister of Finance tables his budget in this House. The Tory Government is more interested in presenting the Throne Speech and making everyone believe that everything is okay. Well, everything is not okay.

Mr. Speaker, let's stop and look at the public education system for a minute. Among the Tories' 243 promises in 1999, they promised that they would establish long-term funding for our school boards, that they would certainly review the funding formulae to protect schools in areas of declining enrolments. That's what they promised, that's what this group from across the floor, the Tory members, promised in the last election. Looking at this Speech from the Throne there is not one word said about this promise, not one word said about this Tory promise.

Mr. Speaker, there are many rural communities across our province that are facing declining enrolments, and school boards are faced daily with trying to address this problem. It's not getting any better, it's getting worse, but in 1999 they had the solution, yet four years later, not one word is said in this Speech from the Throne about how this government will address declining enrolments and provide the adequate funding to school boards. I know the former Minister of Education, when she was in the department, did absolutely nothing. Here we are on the eve of an election, and this Tory Government again says nothing about how they are planning on addressing this very serious, critical issue that school boards are facing across Nova Scotia. Not one word.

[5:15 p.m.]

The last report of the Education Funding Review Work Group was in April 1999 - the last report was in April 1999. Since this Tory Government has been elected we haven't seen any long-term funding plan. None. No long-term plan for school boards. If this Tory Government has no intention on delivering on the promise that they made to school boards back in 1999, then they should say so; they should say so and stop playing games with school boards and mainly the people of these rural communities across the province that are facing declining enrolments.

Let's look at post-secondary education. Again, looking through the Speech from the Throne, I failed to see anything that supported another Tory promise. Page 26 of the blue book, the Tories promised "The time has long passed for government to step up to its

[Page 331]

responsibilities to ensure that our young people have full access to higher education, without having to mortgage their futures to do it." Another broken promise.

Let's look at the facts. Nova Scotia has the highest tuition in Canada, and that has been reported here time and time again by members on this side of the House. The Nova Scotia Government provides the lowest funding to universities in Canada - that's another fact. It's not something that members on the Opposition benches have come up with, those are the facts - the Nova Scotia Government provides the lowest funding to universities in Canada. The Tory Government two years ago cut $10 million out of the Loan Remission Program; Nova Scotia is the only province in Canada without a loan remission program. We heard time and time again in this House, by the Premier and the Minister of Education, that this government would be reinstating a loan remission program.

Well, last Wednesday, the Tory Government announced a new $5.1 million student debt reduction program for students beginning August 1, 2003. You really have to wonder and question the timing of this announcement. Where have they been all along? The Opposition has said time and time again that Nova Scotia is the only province without a loan remission program. We used to have $10 million in a program to help post-secondary students, then this Tory Government decided because of the Millennium Scholarship that the federal government introduced back in 1999 that they would cut the $10 million out of the Loan Remission Program, leaving our students with no program.

So, again, on the eve of an election, it's time to make an announcement - $5.1 million for a student debt reduction program. It's not $10 million to reinstate the program that was there before. Mr. Speaker, as you're aware, our Education Critic has been calling upon the government for years now to reinstate that program, but to no avail. On the eve of an election the Tory Government decides it's time, $5.1 million - not $10 million - $5.1 million, but what's really interesting about this program is this program is for students who will be beginning their post-secondary education on August 1, 2003.

So the obvious questions that I've been asked, and I'm sure members from across the floor on the government benches have been asked those very same questions, you know, what about the students in the last two years attending universities? What do we say to them - tough luck, you don't count, try again? If this Tory Government believes again that they can buy student votes going into the next election with this $5.1 million, all I can say to them is good luck. Our students are waiting for you Tories to knock on their doors as well and ask for their support.

Mr. Speaker, turning to Page 17 of the Throne Speech, "My government knows well that safe highways and good roads are vital." I'm glad to see that the Tory Government recognizes that good roads are vital, but unfortunately not too many people at home in Clare believe them. Some of our roads are in extremely poor condition and I just want to name a few - the Hectanooga Road, Route 1, Highway No. 1 from Salmon River to Beaver River,

[Page 332]

and there are many areas along the way on Route 1, the Maxwelton Road, the Bonnie Road, the Easton Road, the second division road from Church Point to Concession, to St. Joseph's, to Corberrie, Eustace Comeau Road, the Maza Road, the Hilltown Road, to name a few, and I'm sure that list certainly expands, but when I see the government talking that roads are vital, I'm just wondering what they are talking about here.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say a few words about Highway No. 101. This highway begins in Yarmouth, runs through the Annapolis Valley up to Halifax. In 1999 when the Tories were campaigning, they told us that twinning Highway No. 101 was their number one priority with or without the federal government's help. That was in 1999 and here we are on the eve of an election and we're hearing all kinds of stories - that Highway No. 104 is now the government's number one priority. Then the next day we're hearing that Highway No. 101 is the government's number one priority and then we hear the Premier talking about Highway No. 103 as the government's number one priority. So maybe I'm sure that everyone would like to know what exactly is the government's number one priority.

Mr. Speaker, from a department's memo obtained recently by the Canadian Press we saw that Highway No. 104 and Highway No. 101 are both top priority, are both number one priorities. Maybe with the election approaching the priorities could change, who knows, but again I'm expecting some formal announcement to be made soon by this government or by the federal government on work for our roads.

Mr. Speaker, looking at Page 16 of the Throne Speech, I was glad to see that small business is the backbone of the Nova Scotia economy. That's what it states there in the Throne Speech. I fully agree with this statement and I'm sure many of my colleagues on both sides of the House agree that small business is the backbone of our Nova Scotia economy. In Clare alone we have more than 600 small businesses, but this Tory Government has done absolutely nothing for small businesses in Nova Scotia in the last four years. On a regular basis I'm sure all members of this House received calls from this sector of our economy looking for assistance, but for the last four years there hasn't been any support by our provincial government to the small business sector.

Mr. Speaker, as I'm concluding my remarks today, you really have to ask yourself, looking at the Throne Speech that was delivered last week, exactly what is this Tory Government trying to accomplish with the Throne Speech? Some people have said this is recycling the 243 promises that the Tories made back in 1999. We could go on and on and on talking about broken Tory promises, but I'm sure we will have an opportunity, especially if this Spring session continues, to bring this to the attention of the Premier and to members of his front benches of what they promised the people of Nova Scotia that they would do in their first mandate.

[Page 333]

Mr. Speaker, in closing, this Throne Speech is nothing more than Tory propaganda and I'm sure in the weeks ahead that our Liberal caucus will have an opportunity to raise more questions on this Throne Speech. With those few remarks, I will take my seat. Thank you for the opportunity. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Pictou East.

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: Mr. Speaker, I'm honoured to be here today and to rise from my seat to speak about my constituency - the beautiful constituency of Pictou East. I did steal that line from my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. I think he should spend a little more time in Pictou County and he will agree that it is indeed a beautiful constituency. Before I begin, Mr. Speaker, I would also like to state my strong support for this Speech from the Throne and to say that as the representative of Pictou East I am proud, very proud to be part of a government which has been busy making things happen for the good of my constituents and, indeed, for the good of all Nova Scotians. (Applause)

[5:30 p.m.]

These are extremely optimistic times, Mr. Speaker, times when Nova Scotians are feeling the benefit of the first balanced budget in 40 years, a time when the second consecutive budget will be balanced, the second budget will be balanced, a time when working families get to enjoy a deserved reduction in their personal income taxes; tax relief working families are counting on. For too long our young people have left our communities, left our province, moved to Alberta, Ontario and the United States for opportunities they couldn't find at home. This is the sad reality of the situation the way it was.

Mr. Speaker, it's been a hard, sad fact for Nova Scotian families, but now this cycle has been broken. We now have more people working in this province than ever before in the history of this province - 26,000 new jobs in Nova Scotia, new jobs since 1999. This is the right time to be optimistic, optimistic about our economic growth and optimistic about health care too. Nova Scotia now has the second-highest doctor-to-patient ratio in Canada. There are 250 more nurses working at patients' bedsides, 250 more. Nurse practitioners are now serving eight rural communities in this province. There is more diagnostic machinery in our hospitals, and there are more nursing graduates staying at home here in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, as you will understand, this government has kept its promise because it has a sound plan followed by sound action, and there is more action to come. Action to build on the successes in recruiting health care providers, doctors and nurses, as well as medical lab technologists. Action to make further improvements to patient care, action to shorten the dreaded waiting lists.

[Page 334]

Education - well, these are optimistic times about education in Nova Scotia as well. Across the province education is now on the right track. This government's plan, Learning for Life, is a get-back-to-basics plan, putting more than 700,000 books in the hands of students.

AN HON. MEMBER: How many?

MR. JAMES DEWOLFE: More than 700,000 books, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

AN HON. MEMBER: That's a lot of books - much needed information.

MR. DEWOLFE: I can remember, Mr. Speaker, when I went to school, the books were not even the same from one school to another. If you changed schools, you were lost. We have established new programs for reading, math, grammar, Canadian history and reducing the student-teacher ratio. It is a plan focused on the classroom. It is also about more adult learners returning to the classroom. It's about supporting our universities and it's about taking action to address student debt. It is also about supporting and expanding the Nova Scotia Community College system.

Just yesterday I was pleased to be part of an announcement which will provide a $11.2 million expansion to the Pictou campus of the community college. (Applause) The seats that will open up will provide invaluable opportunities for students and I was proud to be there alongside my colleague, the member for Pictou West and the Premier, the member for Pictou Centre.

Mr. Speaker, this government certainly does understand the priorities of Nova Scotians, it has proven that. This government understands the very real importance of basic road infrastructure, our roads and highways and has a proven commitment to making improvements. This government, my government, has reversed the trends of cuts to our Transportation budget, the cuts that allowed our roads to fall into disrepair. Years of neglect.

AN HON. MEMBER: Not a teaspoon of asphalt.

MR. DEWOLFE: This government has increased funding on capital spending on highways each year since 1999.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good expenditure. (Applause)

MR. DEWOLFE: Indeed. In just this past year, the government budgeted $85.5 million to improve Nova Scotia's highways, bridges and roads. That is a $32 million increase over the previous year and $55 million more than in 1999-2000 budget. Look at the figures from 1999 to 2000; we were spending $31 million in capital on our roads. Today, last year, it was $85 million, a substantive increase. We will be having more again this year, Mr.

[Page 335]

Speaker. Now all revenues from a 2 cent per litre increase in gasoline is included and is dedicated to improving Nova Scotia's highways, bridges and roads.

The Rural Impact Mitigation Fund, RIM for short as most of us know it, monies directed at secondary and gravel roads, has already made an impact on rural life and has improved the quality of life and safety in rural communities. I am proud of these investments,

I'm proud because they have served our province well and I'm proud because they have addressed many of the needs of my constituents in Pictou East.

I understood the importance of these investments to constituents in Pictou East and have always made the betterment of our roads and the highways indeed a priority for my constituents.

This winter saw the opening of a new rest area on Highway No. 104. It's on the Westville exit that takes you right into my office in downtown Westville. This has been highly supported and requested for some time by the tourist association and the truckers' association and the long-haul truckers. It's good news, it's a good economic booster for our area creating over 40 new jobs, and that's good news for travellers. The improvements have already been made on Highway No. 104 and now with plans to twin Highway No. 104, life is just going to get better in Pictou East because of it. It runs directly through the length of my constituency.

There are really good reasons to be optimistic in Pictou East and optimistic across the province. Hard work has paid off. This government has worked hard to make life better for Nova Scotians. In Pictou East the evidence is all around us, not only can you see it in the investments in our roads and highways and in the construction of two new high school projects in our region, you can see it in thousands of dollars invested in the Canada-Nova Scotia Infrastructure Programs - in the East River de-chlorination project and in the water system improvements in Westville. You can see it in the investments to help with upgrades in renovations to the Ivor MacDonald Memorial Arena. I worked closely with the arena's 2002 replacement and repair committee, continued to bring attention to this important facility and I'm very satisfied now that the rink can continue to flourish as a centre of the community activity for many years to come, indeed, just as it has in the past. Members of the committee must be commended for their success as they continue to raise much-needed funding for this worthy, worthy project. Young hockey players come as far as Antigonish to use that arena.

Fire halls are often the centre of much community activity as well. That's why smaller projects like the grant provided to help make the Blue Mountain Fire Hall and Community Centre wheelchair accessible are also very important. They seem like small projects, but they're very important to those small communities. Fire Halls in East River, St. Marys and in Pictou Landing are important centres of activity in their communities as well because there's no community centre as such and they are the community centre. That's why I was pleased to present each of the departments with funds to help enhance their halls for

[Page 336]

community events and do much needed repairs, the events which contribute to the quality of life and further the local economy.

Fire Departments are also important to our rural communities, and that's why I took so much pleasure in this government's legislation, an Act to Recognize Volunteer Firefighters and Protect Volunteer Fire Departments, which recognizes the many contributions of volunteer firefighters, which designates one day each October as Volunteer Fire Service Recognition Day, which provides families with an accident death benefit payment should a volunteer firefighter suffer loss of life in the line of duty, which protects volunteer fire departments in claims for damages from seizure of material or financial assets, and which waives volunteer firefighter's vehicle registration and provides special license plates.

Mr. Speaker, volunteer firefighters deserve this show of respect, and I am very pleased that we're able to do that. That our government has introduced another bill that will give workers' compensation coverage to both paid and volunteer firefighters is good news. Firefighters willingly risk their own lives to protect the lives of others, and are sometimes exposed to toxins and chemicals in the line of duty. Our government wants to ensure that our firefighters have the best possible insurance and health coverage available, and that their families are taken care of. I am proud to be part of this government's action on behalf of the firefighters.

Mr. Speaker, there are so many dedicated, worthy people in Pictou East, people like Everett Baudoux of Merigomish and Joanne Cumminger of Plymouth who were awarded the Golden Jubilee Medals of Queen Elizabeth II for their contribution to their community. While impossible to recognize all who do so much without any thought of recognition, these people proudly represent the spirit found throughout our great constituency. I am very proud to represent Pictou East; I am very proud to be part of a government which has served them so well, and I will be throwing my name in the hat for the next election, whenever that may be. (Applause)

You see, Mr. Speaker, this government's actions are paying off, it's evident all around us. Now it's my privilege to support the motion moving the Address in Reply to the Speech from the Throne. I am going to take my seat, and I thank you for your time. (Applause)

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to see you in the Chair again. I look forward to making a few comments on behalf of the growing constituency of Timberlea-Prospect. I have to be fair, we're always accused of being so negative and so critical, so many things that we constantly have to put up with. A growing constituency, however, has concerns, and I'm going to take this opportunity to bring a few of them to your

[Page 337]

attention today. I want you to know this, that the most important concern that we have is Sir John A. Macdonald High School.

Over the last couple of months the school of no fixed address is finally home in Hubley, but that's the first stage. I want members opposite and I want the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's in particular to note that on Monday of next week, we have been invited to an important meeting with the school advisory council of that high school. They are back in a clean, improved environmentally-sound school. My compliments and my hat's off to the previous Minister of Education for making that commitment. (Applause)

However, I would like to point out that I can say nothing of a positive nature about the current minister, the peekaboo minister, the minister we can never find, the minister who is not in any way out fulfilling the commitment. We want to know in our growing community, when will the tender be called? When will the improvements be made? When will we be given the assurances that in a growing community we will not have three portables in back of the school?

Mr. Speaker, there's a process in place for the building of schools. We want to make sure that that process is assured and that the completion of the project and the monies that were initially put forward for that will be in place when that second and third tender is called for.

[5:45 p.m.]

I also have a concern, and I want to be very upfront about it - I'm going to table this picture for your interest, Mr. Speaker - 15 minutes from the door of this Legislature there was a school bus yesterday that was stuck in a growing subdivision of 60-65 homes. That's the sort of service that the people of MacDonald Lake Subdivision, off the Prospect Road, have to look at - and I would ask a Page to table this copy of this particular picture of a school bus in a growing community. I hear members opposite talk about secondary roads. Let's be clear on the fact, although my riding happens to be in the Halifax Regional Municipality, there is a difference in the level of service between the old peninsula and what happens in the County of Halifax.

Mr. Speaker, there's no more clear evidence of that than in the current situation on Lynwood Drive in the community of Hatchett Lake. Lynwood Drive, Ben Court and Sarah Crescent are part of a growing constituency and a growing subdivision of Brookside. Do you know today there are 24 homes with over 60 people who are literally marooned on the wrong side of that bridge that washed out? They have no way to get to and from their place of work or their school. We're not just talking about ground transportation here, we're talking no way to get groceries in - there is no pathway, there is no gangplank, there is no answer for this community.

[Page 338]

These people deserve some answers; they deserve service. They deserve service based on the taxes that they pay in this growing community. It's an embarrassment to have a school bus stuck anywhere in this province, but it's an embarrassment for the people of MacDonald Lake Subdivision, it's an embarrassment for the people of Lynwood Drive, based upon their assessments and their taxes, what they have to pay.

Mr. Speaker, I have various other topics to bring to your attention and I'm going to bring one that I know the members of the Third Party despise me to bring up. I know that members of this government have not done anything about it either, and that is the issue of coastal assessments. Somebody has to put some common sense into this government, because we tried with the previous government and no one seems intent upon listening. If you have happen to own a piece of coastal property in this province, your assessment literally goes through the roof because of the fact that perhaps you might be holding on to it, as Rufus Covey is holding on to his piece of property so he could make it part of the homestead and pass it on to his children and grandchildren. Has there ever been any provision for assessments and proper solutions of them?

I want members opposite to know if you have coastal properties, when you knock on those doors in a couple of weeks - well we will make it a month, no, let's make it 23 days - when you are out there knocking on doors within the next three weeks, I want you to know if you've got a coastal property problem you look at yourself in the mirror, particularly if it's an older person who wants to pass on his or her land to her children, to his grandchildren, there has been no answer coming from this government.

Mr. Speaker, a concern that I want to bring to the attention of the Minister of Education and it's a concern of real importance, school access. I can tell you I've worked with many volunteers over the years and it seems to me that the greatest disservice you can do to a volunteer is not to trust them - don't trust them. So when you want to have a Saturday afternoon practice in your community, the legendary community of Glace Bay, I'm sure, as my friend from Cape Breton Centre could tell me, in the legendary community of New Waterford, the coach got the keys, you went to the school, opened up the gymnasium and had your practice.

Now let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that does not happen in my community. Schools are locked tight. You pay big rents; in fact in a couple of schools, P3 schools in particular, you pay enormous rents and that is unfair. We have paid our taxes to have these schools built, we do not have proper access to them. We've paid for them, they should be used, they should be the focal point of the community. My friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre, is living proof - the wonderful experience of the Coal Bowl.

The use of the facility. Heaven forbid if we in our system try to use a wing of the school as - and I can use the experience because I was there - a barracks. That is where the kids actually sleep in the school and the beds are moved in. If we tried to do that in the

[Page 339]

Halifax Regional School Board I can imagine the paperwork in triplicate that I would have to fill out as a coach or as a principal. That problem of school access is not going to go away, it is going to be a major concern.

I want to table these letters, Mr. Speaker. I'm going to refer to them in a moment, if the Page can just wait for a moment. I have received these over the last number of weeks and months, about snow removal. They come from various people in my community. I want you to know that it is absolutely an embarrassment when you have someone such as Carolyn Oakley who says, "Hats off to those in our subdivision who have trucks and 4 wheelers, with plows. They are those who keep our street clean and safe." and I didn't pay any taxes to them.

I want you to know, Mr. Speaker, I can bring up some other examples. In particular I want to bring up the example of Susan Coles - and the Page can take those now, it would make good reading for the Minister of Transportation. I want to bring up the example of various people in my community - Susan Coles is who I'm referring to at this stage, Mr. Speaker. Susan Coles has some frustrations based upon the fact of the taxes she pays and the services she receives. You know, you can't live in her subdivision unless you have a four-wheel vehicle that can get you in and out. It's always very interesting when you begin to realize that these people who live in these expanding subdivisions, for one reason or another have chosen to live in this area, then they have to make sure that they either have a snowplow on the front of their vehicle or they have some other way of getting out to the end of the road where they can come in to their place of employment which is predictably usually in the city of Halifax.

I can mention other examples - I can mention them by name because I have permission. Jim McMullin, the airline pilot from Haliburton Hills. He comes home, he flies in, he can get from the airport to the entrance to Haliburton Hills and he can't go any further because of the fact that the roads have not been plowed and the service has not been maintained.

I want to be clear about something, Mr. Speaker, because as you probably are aware, I have a number of past students who are employed by the Department of Transportation and Public Works and I hear from them regularly. I want to be very clear, the men and women who operate the Department of Transportation and Public Works out of the Beechville base are not at fault. Their services are stretched to the maximum. Mile after mile - or I guess I should say in 2003, kilometre after kilometre - of new roads come into a growing constituency, but Heaven forbid, Mr. Speaker, if we have more equipment. Heaven forbid if we have more men. Why is the bridge not replaced as we go across Lynwood? The answer, as was given to me today, Bill, we just don't have the crew. We've got to bring the crew from Truro, we've got to bring the Bailey bridge equipment in here - we don't even have the men who can even stay up with the work that we have to do now.

[Page 340]

Now, this is an emergency, we hear the good member from Dartmouth, the Minister responsible for EMO said this is an emergency in place. Well, you explain to me the answer I am to give to somebody based on where they live, they can't get to and from their home because we do not have enough people on the ground, or in this case in the water, to replace a bridge that comes to an important part of my community. That, as we would say in the school business, is not performance.

Mr. Speaker, I have a couple of other examples to bring to your attention, people who I hear from on a regular basis. I would like to compliment them at this time. I heard from Robert Butler: Robert Butler the graduate, Robert Butler who is out looking for a job and he can't use his van because the insurance company will not insure him because he improved his van. He put tiger stripes on it and the insurance company said no way, but Robert Butler

came to his MLA, we brought the issue forward. My Leader talked to Robert Butler and the insurance company had to admit that they had made a mistake. We've heard from students from one university to another who live at home for reasons of good economy and they travel back and forth to community colleges and universities. They and their insurance problems remain my concern I want you to know.

Mr. Speaker, I know my time is wrapping up here quickly before the moment of interruption, I want to talk to you about a very important senior in my community. Her name is Frances Isenor and I know Frances is a regular watcher of this particular - shall we call it - entertainment. Frances Isenor has to make some tough decisions and let me tell you it brings a lump in my throat to talk about Frances. She has to apply for $50 for fuel, that piddly grant, is what she went through for that paperwork, but she dutifully did it. She has to make decisions now between her meds and whether she is going to continue to heat her home in the middle of the winter. She has to make tough decisions just in terms of her basic grocery list in what she has had to put up with as a senior in this province. She has rising insurance. She has rising oil and gas prices. She is caught in a tough spot and I'm supposed to listen to members opposite and say there is no problem with taking care of the seniors in this province, there is no problem with insurance. We've got it covered, we've got it taken care of.

Well, I heard that one time before when this government was elected and I remember the Premier saying you just go out and have a barbecue. You just make sure you go out there and enjoy the summer. We've taken care of everything.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member like to move the adjournment of the debate.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I would love to move adjournment of the debate.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is for adjournment of the debate.

[Page 341]

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Yes, Mr. Speaker, before we adjourn I would like to bring to the attention of the House that we will have a decision on Friday's hours, but tomorrow, before the House opens, we will make that announcement. We will be sitting from 11:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m., but because of the numbers in the House at the present time, perhaps some people will not get that message.

Mr. Speaker, tomorrow being Opposition Day, I will yield the floor to the Leader of the Official Opposition to tell us of the business for tomorrow.

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, before I do that I would like to raise a matter that I discussed with the Government House Leader and the House Leader for the Liberal Party, a request for unanimous consent. On Thursday, of course, the budget is being introduced and the tradition is that the Finance Critic for the Official Opposition starts off with the response to the Budget Address on Thursday and then concludes it on Friday. Unfortunately, our Finance Critic cannot be present on Friday and so the request, and what I'm asking unanimous consent for, is for another member to pick up. The Finance Critic would start on Thursday and another member would conclude, using the rest of that amount of time, on Friday and I'm requesting first before the business unanimous consent.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

Very well.

MR. HOLM: So that's agreed and the business for tomorrow, there will be two items: Resolution No. 289 and Bill No. 2.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 342]

The motion is carried.

[6:00 p.m.]

The House is adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow. We have now reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth North.

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

INSURANCE: GOV'T. (N.S.) INACTION - EFFECTS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, this is the first opportunity, I believe, we have had in this House since some time to have a discussion about the question of automobile insurance rates in our province. The motion that is in front of us is directly on point. It is:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government's inaction on auto insurance is driving more and more Nova Scotians to go without coverage on their motor vehicles."

The core issue, of course, is the extent to which Nova Scotians are finding it virtually impossible to deal with pocketbook issues and automobile insurance is one of those pocketbook issues. For some it's the problem of university tuition. For some it's the problem of the health care costs for those who are in long-term care. For others it's the problem of the minimum wage. For others it's this problem that's very persistent, that's widespread, that is a huge irritant, as we all know, the question of automobile insurance rates.

Now, automobile insurance rates have gone up enormously in Nova Scotia. The experience of all owners of cars who have tried to abide by the requirement of the law and purchase insurance has been that rates are going up at an enormously steep curve. They're finding it harder and harder to actually pay those bills. One of the manifestations of the inability of Nova Scotians, who are not a rich lot, one of the manifestations of the difficulty that Nova Scotians are finding in dealing with this question of steeply rising automobile insurance rates is that unfortunately, growing numbers of them are being forced into the situation where they're driving but they're driving without insurance.

Let's look briefly at the statistical underpinnings for this assertion because there's no doubt that the numbers are up. There are two different forms of charges that may arise that lead us to see certain statistics that allow us to draw this conclusion. One is a pure conviction

[Page 343]

for driving without insurance. This is something we're familiar with and the figures over the last five years have gone up quite markedly. In 1997-98 there were 1,855 such convictions. Five years later, in the 2001-02 year, that number had gone up to 2,619. I think the minister responsible confirmed certainly that last number earlier today during Question Period in this House.

The point is, the increase. The point is, the trend. That's a marked increase over a five year period - from 1,855 up to 2,619. This figure is buttressed by another form of conviction or a form of case that arises and this is cases requiring proof of financial responsibility to be filed. This is another aspect and the numbers there are equally striking over the same five year period. That is to say, from 1997-98 to 2001-02 and there the figures are a little higher but also indicate the steep rise. They start out five years ago at 2,772 and they are now at 3,425.

I want to say immediately that, of course, with more than 600,000 licensed drivers in Nova Scotia, we have to look at these numbers and be cautious in the way we interpret them. We have to look at this and say, if it's 1 per cent or so, or perhaps less, of the licensed drivers in the province, can we draw any conclusions? The point is, the trend. The point is that those numbers are up and we know that this is the kind of experience that other places, other communities, have experienced.

In a moment, I will table an extract from a newspaper article just recently in the New Glasgow paper. The article is called, Uninsured Drivers on the Rise and it starts out, At least one country police department is seeing a noticeable increase in the number of uninsured drivers being ticketed and fined. The article goes on to quote local police officers to that effect.

We've also looked at the situation in California because California is a large state in the United States that has a big population and the numbers there allow statistics to be gathered and what we've found on the Internet home page of an organization called The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is quite fascinating. Again I will table an extract from their Web page because - and I want to quote from it - because they have looked specifically at this question. California has a particular kind of fund that deals with these situations. Let me quote from what they say, this organization, "The real world tells us that most of the uninsured are not criminals trying to beat the system, but people with no means to comply with the law. The data shows that 87 per cent of the uninsured are good drivers, about 75 per cent of the uninsured are low-income . . ." ". . . most know that they need insurance and would buy it if it was affordable. But for them it is illegal to drive. It is not delinquency or misinformation that leaves over 3 million Californians driving illegally; it is poverty and price gouging. People who cannot afford insurance have to choose to forego other basic living expenses, stop driving altogether or most commonly drive illegally. Each one of these scenarios is a serious problem for the driver and leaves the public picking up the tab somewhere." I will table that.

[Page 344]

Three million Californians. What I'm saying is that the potential for the numbers that we have already in Nova Scotia to grow is enormous, and we don't know if the one-half of 1 per cent or 1 per cent that we have who have actually been convicted or charged with an offence along those lines represent the full extent of the numbers. Everyone knows, of course, that when people are committing offences, not the full number are going to actually be caught and charged. So we have every reason to think that the numbers are larger. What we fear is that those numbers are fairly substantial, and just as this organization observed about California taxpayers, the public, the taxpaying public in Nova Scotia will have to pick up the tab at some point, of course, because we have a special fund that deals with uninsured drivers. Of course, that has to come from our tax dollars, ultimately that's where it comes from to cover off.

Insurance, of course, is mandatory. If Nova Scotians are not able to deal with it, if they're not able to pay their bills many of them will be forced into that situation where they have to make that tough choice - do I drive even though I don't have insurance? We're not saying that these people are wicked, we're saying that they're forced, through circumstances, of being unable to meet the high and rising costs of automobile insurance into that quandary, into that terrible choice. Now it is a terrible choice. The consequences for them, if they were involved in an accident, are terrible and, of course, it's an expense to the public purse.

What we're trying to do is find ways to deal with this situation so that people are not forced into that situation. Yet we know that with a low minimum wage in Nova Scotia and with unemployment problems that many Nova Scotians at the low end of the income scale are having a terrible time dealing with rising automobile insurance rates and, at the same time, the middle class, even with a reasonable income, are having trouble meeting those costs.

The essence of the situation is that something has to be done. The situation just cannot simply be studied. There has to be a promise that something will be done, and that's the fundamental flaw with what we saw most recently from this government. It was a promise to think about it, to consult, to talk. It's fine to consult and talk, what we need is a specific promise that something will be done to reduce those rates. We, in our caucus, are making that promise, we will find such a way to reduce the rates, to actually reduce the rates that people in Nova Scotia are paying for automobile insurance. I don't hear the government making that promise, they're talking about it, they're wanting to investigate it, that's not good enough, Mr. Speaker, something has to be done about this problem and done now.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I listened with great interest to the speech that we just heard because I thought that in it would be defined the NDP plan for curing this problem, but I guess the speaker only got through his introductory remarks and didn't get to the main meat of the matter. I know that the New Democratic Party defines socialism as

[Page 345]

being publicly-owned automobile insurance. That is their definition of it nowadays. Something like in 1921 when London defined socialism as being Soviet power plus electrification. Well, they've moved on from electrification, now they're into auto insurance. They define it as being a publicly-owned automobile insurance corporation, similar to those found in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

I've studied the plans in all three provinces. The Manitoba plan was enacted in the early 1970s under the government of the honourable Ed Schreyer, a government that didn't really distinguish itself as being any great advocate or practitioner of socialism, but they did set up Autopac, which was the Manitoba name for a publicly-funded automobile insurance corporation. There was great right wing opposition to it and there were placard waving mobs of right wingers at the Legislature in Manitoba. I don't know if they behaved exactly as the doctors in Saskatchewan did when they had the doctors' strike there in 1963, but . . . private insurance brokers and their fans were up in arms, quite literally, in Manitoba when that plan was put into effect. As in Saskatchewan when the doctors went out on strike, the government stood its ground. They said we are the government, we passed the law. Now, you guys go back to work and we'll work things out but we're not going to be overwhelmed by your furor just because you're out there in the yard shouting and screaming.

So that plan remained in power even after the NDP Government was defeated under the leadership of Sterling Lyon, a Conservative, I won't get into Sterling Lyon right now. I wrote a poem about Sterling Lyon that appeared on the front page of the Nova Scotia New Democrat and the Manitoba Liberal at the same time back in the 1970s. My poem about Sterling Lyon - I forget it, Mr. Speaker - a sign of mid-age lapse of memory. It was something about Tories . . . I can't remember my poem, I'll have to bring it back at another time, but that was Manitoba. Even when the NDP were kicked out, the Tories that replaced them kept the plan in place and it's still there today, under an NDP Government once more. Although you don't hear very much about it because, aside from running this automobile insurance plan they're not doing very much in Manitoba to re-write society or to create a new order. They're just going on the same old way as every other past government of that province carried on - a very middle-of-the-road kind of province where you don't get away with radicalism except in the north end of Winnipeg where you shout it as loud as you can but hope it won't carry much past the boundaries of the north end of Winnipeg.

Saskatchewan, they've had a publicly owned automobile insurance plan there for many, many years. Yes, the CCF Government in 1964 was defeated - defeated by the government of the father of the man who's now trying to get out of prison for having murdered his wife - Ross Thatcher. When Ross Thatcher came to power, he was a very right-wing individual and he was going to set up a republican Party in the Canadian forum when his government took power. But, guess what? They did not abolish the publicly owned automobile insurance fund, they kept it in place. And, even under the Tory Government of Grant Devine, which was far from divine, nonetheless that government kept that plan in place. (Interruptions) Well, some of them went to jail, but the plan stayed in place.

[Page 346]

Then you can go to British Columbia and their experience with NDP Government hasn't been too promising. There was the Government of Dave Barrett from 1972 to 1975 which legislated the insurance corporation of British Columbia. Then back in came the Bennetts - W. A. C. Junior for a while and he was replaced in the end by Rita Johnson and I think she was replaced by Bill Vander Zalm which in Dutch means, of the salmon. But I won't get into Dutch right now, I'll stay in English. I think the order was the other way around, I think Rita Johnson was the last Social Credit Premier of British Columbia and the first female Premier of B. C. After that, the government of that province went back to the NDP which were in power for 10 years under three premiers and they kept the plan there whether it was a Social Credit Government or whether it was an NDP Government or now a Liberal Government. The plan has stayed in place.

If that was the answer, you'd think that the NDP would be saying those things instead of me explaining them here to the House. Since they don't say them anymore, I'll say them for them. There. Now, what is the story here in Nova Scotia in whatever time I have left?

This Party has tried diligently to make this a public issue but we couldn't get any support from the NDP nor from the Tories, nor from the Tories. The leader of this Party called about a year ago, I believe, for an all-Party select committee of the Legislature to meet and come up with a plan and it could have been the publicly run plan of B.C. and Manitoba and Saskatchewan or it could have been something else. We didn't predetermine the outcome, but we did make the proposal. When we said that, the NDP said, oh, dear, that will arrest our slumber, we don't want to do that and the Conservatives snored and said are they trying to turn us over in the middle of our sleep? Both of them had nothing to say but bad things about that proposal. We don't want it, we won't go along with it, we want to sit here and do nothing and that's why nothing was done, Mr. Speaker, because we couldn't get the support. We only have 9 or 10 seats here in the House and we don't have enough to control the government. So the crisis remained and it got worse as time went on and now the election is just around the corner and they're wanting to create the illusion of action, and they have.

[6:15 p.m.]

I see the honourable minster who answers for this is getting up from his seat and it's just a few more minutes and I will be through. I do want to hear from him because I know he has something to say. He's a tremendous man this minister. He's the only member of this House who has served in four Air Forces. During his career he served in the New Zealand Air Force, the Australian Air Force, the Royal Air Force of the U.K. and the Royal Canadian Air Force, all four, just to prove the point that he was the best pilot around. So I would like to hear from that minister, but I would like to say this before he gets the floor that, you know, the time for inaction has passed. Nova Scotians deserve better.

[Page 347]

Now that government is in power right now and they're the ones that have to tell us what they're going to do. It's not really the role of Opposition Parties to map out the whole future for Nova Scotia. You do the best you can to indicate a frame of mind, a general plan of intent of what you would like to do, but you can't very well, when you have the limited resources of an Opposition as compared to those that the government has at its command, come up with an all-encompassing blueprint for the future. That's something that the government has to do and we await with interest their new-found vision of the future because they haven't had much vision at all for the past four years, Mr. Speaker, and that's the four years that we're trying to judge them by.

I see I have one minute left and I think I will wind down at this point. There's not much point going into the history of Sterling Lyon or any of those others (Interruption) I cannot remember my poem about Sterling Lyon. It will come back to me. I will tell it to the House someday. I remember I compared him to R.B. Bennett. Do you want me to get into R.B. Bennett? I only have half a minute left now. We will deal with R.B. Bennett and Sterling Lyon on another occasion. Right now I think we should deal with the minister here in the House.

MR. SPEAKER: I anxiously await your return on your poem.

The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, it's always a pleasure to follow the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova because he leaves a wide range of topics which one can cover in response to his remarks.

Mr. Speaker, I listened with interest to the member for Halifax Chebucto and it always amazes me that the NDP always believe that they have the answer to every problem that was ever confronting mankind. Insurance concerns at the present time in this province are very real and I would suggest to you that the NDP response, which was to evidently have a select number of their members go out around the province and speak to people and come back with no definite direction from the people that they spoke to, who then decided on their own that the answer was a publicly-funded insurance scheme along the same lines as they have in Manitoba and Saskatchewan and in the Province of British Columbia and then they accused the government of not doing anything and not doing it now. What in heaven's name do they think is going to be the time frame to put in place a public insurance scheme for auto insurance in this province?

First of all, I don't even think we can do that at the present time under the NAFTA arrangements. I notice the member for Halifax Chebucto is nodding his head, he agrees. So we cannot do it. (Interruptions) Well, Mr. Speaker, we have a difference of opinion as to whether you can or whether you can't, but I would suggest to them that by the time we get that sorted out, we won't be through the next election, we will be through the election after

[Page 348]

the next election. I have never yet seen the NDP come forward with any solution to any problem that can be carried out by any government in power. It's very, very easy when you're in Opposition to stand in your place and make all kinds of remarks that will solve a problem but, however, will probably bankrupt the province in the process.

Mr. Speaker, the problem that we face in this province at the present time is shared by every province across this country, including those that have a publicly financed system. Every province and every state in the United States shares this same problem. Auto insurance premiums are increasing in leaps and bounds and we have to do something about it. First of all, I was asked a question by a member in the media about a week or 10 days ago as to what would be a reasonable price for insurance, and I said I don't know - and I really don't know. I don't know whether our present rates are fair or not, and that is why in February of last year we took the first step in a plan to solve this problem, and that was to have the URB examine the rates charged by the insurance industry. They have done that and they completed their deliberations, I think it was in November sometime of last year, but they have still as yet to come forward with their solutions or with their results of the hearings they held.

Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that in my own mind rates are too high, and I think most people agree with that. But that's only half the problem, there's another basic problem that we have within our insurance schemes in this province that affects all people, and that is some people are young and some people are old and some are in-between, and each one of those age sections is individually assessed, not on their driving experience, not on the number of accidents they've had, not on whether or not they've been charged several times with infractions of the Motor Vehicle Act, they're charged specifically because they're a young person and supposedly a new driver, or they're an old person and they're a doddering idiot, or they're a person in the middle who has his worries about his family, et cetera, so he's not paying attention to what he's doing on the road.

Mr. Speaker, that's a problem we have to solve. Drivers should not be rated according to age, they should be rated according to their driving experience. Secondly, we have the problem that insurance companies are rating drivers, insuring drivers based on the age of their vehicles. Some people may have a vehicle that's 20 years old that's a lot better than the vehicle I'm driving out there which is only 2 years old. How in heaven's name does the year in which a vehicle was built apply to the insurance policy that a driver should be paying? It just doesn't make sense and it isn't fair.

Mr. Speaker, there's also the fact that a person may have an insurance agent down in Yarmouth and he moves up to the City of Halifax and he applies for insurance in Halifax through a different agent. He comes into a new insurance company and he's charged as a new customer to that insurance company, and his rates go up just because he's a new customer. He has a history in Yarmouth, but that doesn't make any difference. He's a new applicant in the City of Halifax to a different insurance company. That's not fair.

[Page 349]

Mr. Speaker, I think there are many things we have to examine when we look at insurance. We have to have a system that's fair, it has to be universal because we demand that people carry insurance. People who don't carry insurance - as the member for Halifax Chebucto said - who are driving vehicles without insurance, they're committing an offence, and it's a very serious offence because there's no telling when any of us could have an accident. We might possibly run into a school bus - heaven forbid - we may swerve off the road onto the sidewalk and knock down several people and injure them or maybe even kill them. If you don't have insurance, we're told that those folks will be covered under the unsatisfied judgment fund.

I'm not too sure if that's the same name for that fund today, somebody may correct me. (Interruptions) It is. Okay. We have that fund in place. It's not paid for by the taxpayers, it's paid for by the insurance companies, and that's a fund that builds up and it's of substantial amount, but it has a cap on it. So it's not the same - if you're struck by a person who is carrying insurance, well then, at the present time, there is no cap on the type of recompense you would get through the court system; under the unsatisfied judgment fund there is.

Mr. Speaker, what I'm saying is we went out and we established whether or not the rates could be substantiated by the insurance companies. We asked the URB, and that's part of their mandate, that's what they're supposed to do. That was step one. The second thing that interested the government and seemed to be something that was wanting was that people didn't understand what they were buying when they went to the insurance agent to buy their insurance. So we put out a booklet which was a consumer guide called, A Consumer's Guide to Buying Auto Insurance. I think we had about 20,000 of these go out across the province, either being taken off the Web site or else in hard copy. This just outlines to people what they should be looking at, what they should be talking to their insurance agents about when they go into their broker to buy insurance.

In this House where we have 52 people who are all intelligent, who all know what consumers should do, I will bet you the majority have not read their insurance policies. They don't know what's in the fine print of their insurance policies. We're hoping, for instance under this guide to insurance, people will start to at least understand what it is they're buying, they will at least understand what they have after they have bought their insurance. I think a case can be made for plain language insurance policies so people can get one, they don't have to be a lawyer, like the member for Halifax Chebucto, to understand what the heck this means. I only have one minute left. I will have to go a little bit faster.

Mr. Speaker, the third step was the road ahead, which asked people to examine the various components and the various different kinds of insurance policies you can buy and come back with us and state what they thought of these particular plans that are in place across this country. For instance, caps on torts, an option to buy various add-ons to their policies, et cetera. When we get the answers back to the questions in this booklet and on the

[Page 350]

Web site, we will have a picture of what Nova Scotians want, and this government will act. We will have these responses back by, I believe, May 15th or May 16th. We would hope that by the end of May, June, we will have a plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for the debate this evening. I would like to thank the members for taking part in this debate.

We are adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

[The House rose at 6:28 p.m.]

[Page 351]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 327

By: Mr. William Estabrooks (Timberlea-Prospect)

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

Whereas the first annual Prospect Road Winterfest was held on Saturday, March 1st in Shad Bay; and

Whereas the Knights of Columbus and the Lions from the area organized the events; and

Whereas the highlight of the day's activities was the tug-of-war won by the Lions and the log sawing prize captured by Donna Gass;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank the Lions and the Knights of Columbus on the first annual Prospect Road Winterfest.

RESOLUTION NO. 328

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the extreme rainfall of yesterday has left many bridges and roads washed out, homes flooded and businesses and schools closed in Kings County; and

Whereas Kings County Councillor Madonna Spinazola and Halls Harbour Fire Chief Bob West have exhibited leadership and compassion for the residents of their community during this disaster; and

Whereas their efforts have eased the distress and suffering of those in Kings County struggling to deal with this difficult situation;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to Councillor Madonna Spinazola, Fire Chief Bob West and all staff and volunteers of the Halls Harbour Fire Department for their admirable work during this difficult time.

[Page 352]

RESOLUTION NO. 329

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the extreme rainfall of yesterday has left many bridges and roads washed out, homes flooded and businesses and schools closed in Kings County; and

Whereas Alan Slack, Department of Transportation and Public Works OS for Kings North, Bob Bieren, Area Manager for the Department of Transportation and Public Works and the Department of Transportation crews have worked around the clock to address the flood conditions in Kings County; and

Whereas these admirable provincial employees have exhibited a work ethic, commitment and compassion that should serve as an example for us all;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to Alan Slack, Bob Bieren and the staff of the Department of Transportation and Public Works for all their hard work during this difficult time.

RESOLUTION NO. 330

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas the extreme rainfall of yesterday has left many bridges and roads washed out, homes flooded and businesses and schools closed in Kings County; and

Whereas the members of the Kentville Police Department, the Kings Detachment of the RCMP and the Kings County Emergency Measures Organization have worked around the clock to ensure the safety and well-being of Kings County residents; and

Whereas their efforts have eased the distress and suffering of those in Kings County struggling to deal with this disaster;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to the members of the Kentville Police Department, the Kings Detachment of the RCMP and the Kings County EMO for their admirable work during this difficult time.

[Page 353]

RESOLUTION NO. 331

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas retired vocational school instructor, Jim Comeau from Middleton, was recently recognized nationally for his volunteer work by Industry Canada; and

Whereas Mr. Comeau restores old computers for use in local schools and, to date, he has put nearly 3,000 of the damaged machines back into schools; and

Whereas he works in a space donated by the Nova Scotia Community College Middleton Campus and due to high demand is now assisted by over thirty helpers;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Jim Comeau on his Industry Canada acknowledgement and thank him for providing his community with these computers that otherwise wouldn't be operable.

RESOLUTION NO. 332

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas from February 21 to February 23, 2003, the Nova Scotia Special Olympics Winter Games were held in Shearwater, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the Amherst Regional Special Olympics floor hockey team won bronze medals in Division B; and

Whereas team members include: Scott Acker, John Hachey, Chrissy Stonehouse, Rebecca Sprague, Maryanne Belliveau, Alan Melanson, Hariett Barbour, Vance Pyne, Jason Chappell, Richard McLellan, David Sprague, Peter Legion, David Teed, Tim Bird and Terry Black;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Amherst Region Special Olympics floor hockey team on their bronze medal win.

[Page 354]

RESOLUTION NO. 333

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Dee Jay Baker, along with a group of girls from West End Memorial and Junction Road School, received a lesson in empowerment when she and the others participated in the Girls @ The Junction program; and

Whereas the Junction included topics ranging from drugs and alcohol to peer pressure and dating; and

Whereas Dee Jay Baker and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donated it to the Springhill Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dee Jay Baker and the Girls @ The Junction group on participating in such a great program and completing and donating the "Celebrate You" mural, and we wish you all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 334

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mr. Carl Black, Sr., of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was honoured in January for his 15 years of service with the Springhill Fire Department; and

Whereas Carl Black was honoured to be recognized, as the town and department presented him with his 15-year service pin; and

Whereas Carl Black was thanked by the town and fire department for his dedication and service for the years that he has given to the department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Carl Black on receiving his 15-year service bar, and thank him for his years of service. We wish him all the best in the future.

[Page 355]

RESOLUTION NO. 335

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Brittany Blue, along with a group of girls from West End Memorial and Junction Road School, received a lesson in empowerment when she and the others participated in the Girls @ The Junction program; and

Whereas the Junction included topics ranging from drugs and alcohol to peer pressure and dating; and

Whereas Brittany Blue and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donated it to the Springhill Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Brittany Blue and the Girls @ The Junction group on participating in such a great program and completing and donating the "Celebrate You" mural, and we wish you all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 336

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Debbie Boudreau was presented the SuperHost Customer Service Award citation by the Central Nova Tourist Association; and

Whereas Debbie Boudreau is the manager of the Heritage Models Centre located in River Hebert. She has been a great asset of the community as well as the surrounding areas of Joggins and Minudie; and

Whereas Debbie Boudreau has been such a dedicated manager and is one of the greatest assets that the community has to offer;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Debbie Boudreau on the honour of receiving this prestigious award from the Central Nova Tourist Association, and we wish her continued success in the future.

[Page 356]

RESOLUTION NO. 337

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas John Bragg, president and CEO of Oxford Frozen Foods, was among the five laureate nominees who were introduced at the Canadian Business Hall of Fame Foundation luncheon held in January, 2003; and

Whereas John Bragg's company, Oxford Frozen Foods, was launched in 1968 with a production capacity of two million pounds of wild blueberries per year; and

Whereas today Oxford has the world's largest berry farm with 14,000 acres of wild blueberry properties in Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island and Maine and six processing factories - with a daily production capacity of more than three million pounds;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mr. John Bragg on his outstanding achievement in business that earned him a place in the Canadian Business Hall of Fame and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 338

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mr. Harold Nicholson of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was honoured in January for his 50 years of service with the Springhill Fire Department; and

Whereas Harold Nicholson was honoured to be recognized, as the town and department bestowed many gifts on him, including a gold watch, special "golden helmet", and citations; and

Whereas Harold Nicholson was told by town councillors,"We realize we are lucky to have you. You are very professional at what you do and we thank you very much.";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Harold Nicholson on his 50 years with the Springhill Fire Department and thank him for his years of service. We wish him all the best in the future.

[Page 357]

RESOLUTION NO. 339

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

Whereas a Springhill resident, Doris Howard, has received the Dutch Medal of Remembrance in memory of her husband Robert Burton Howard for his efforts in liberating the Nazi occupied Holland; and

Whereas Doris Howard, in remembrance of her late husband Robert Burton Howard, is a recipient of this medal;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Mrs. Doris Howard on behalf of her late husband Robert Burton Howard on receipt of the Dutch Medal of Remembrance and express our gratitude for the noble service that Robert provided to our country as well as so many other nations during World War II.

RESOLUTION NO. 340

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Mr. John Hopkins of Springhill, Nova Scotia, was honoured in January for his 10 years of service with the Springhill Fire Department; and

Whereas John Hopkins was honoured to be recognized, as the town and department presented him with his 10-year service pin; and

Whereas John Hopkins was thanked by the town and fire department for his dedication and service for the years that he has given to the department;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John Hopkins on receiving his 10-year service bar and thank him for his years of service. We wish him all the best in the future.