Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-9

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 8, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Fin. - Nova Scotia Gaming Corp.: Business Plan - Revisions,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 614
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 445, Houlihan, Laura: War Child Can. Conf. - Attendance Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 615
Vote - Affirmative 615
Res. 446, Justice Dept.: Anniv. (10th) - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 615
Vote - Affirmative 616
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 29, Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act, Hon. P. Christie 616
No. 30, Forests Act, Mr. J. MacDonell 616
No. 31, Medicare Protection Act, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 616
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 447, Health Care: Funding - Source Identify, Mr. D. Dexter 616
Res. 448, Gov't. (N.S.): Advertising - Taxpayer Funding Cease,
Mr. K. MacAskill 617
Res. 449, Tartan Day (06/04/03) - Recognize, Mrs. M. Baillie 618
Vote - Affirmative 619
Res. 450, Health: Nursing Recruitment Strategy - Min. Revisit,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 619
Res. 451, Hall, Vince: NDP Nomination - Glace Bay, Mr. P. MacEwan 620
Res. 452, Pictou East Can. Cancer Soc.: Curl for Cancer -
Vols./Participants Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 620
Vote - Affirmative 621
Res. 453, Riverside Educational Ctr.: Concours d'art oratoire 2003 -
Participants Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 621
Vote - Affirmative 622
Res. 454, Chretien, Rt. Hon. Jean: Appreciation/Thanks - Extend,
Mr. D. Wilson 622
Res. 455, Clayton Pk. Jr. High: Non-Smoking Poster - Congrats.,
Ms. M. McGrath 622
Vote - Affirmative 623
Res. 456, ACOA: Bank Closures - Study Commend, Mr. F. Corbett 623
Vote - Affirmative 624
Res. 457, EMO: Mun. Safety Compromise - Min. Apologize,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 624
Res. 458, Nat'l. Video Comp.: Bedford Jr. High - Initiative Congrats.,
Hon. P. Christie 625
Vote - Affirmative 625
Res. 459, Phones-For-Food Prog.: Sponsors - Congrats., Mr. J. Pye 625
Vote - Affirmative 626
Res. 460, Fin.: Tax Rebate - Multilingual Response, Mr. P. MacEwan 626
Res. 461, Purdy, Anthony: Coach of the Yr. (Truro) - Congrats.,
Hon. J. Muir 627
Vote - Affirmative 627
Res. 462, Atl. Journalism Awards: Daily News Journalists -
Nominees Congrats., Mr. H. Epstein 628
Vote - Affirmative 628
Res. 463, Whitman, Mable: Bedford Vol. of the Yr. - Congrats.,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 628
Vote - Affirmative 629
Res. 464, Sydco Fuels Ltd.: BBB Award - Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 629
Vote - Affirmative 630
Res. 465, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Secondary Road Projects -
Priority List Publicize, Mr. W. Estabrooks 630
Res. 466, Prem.: Birthday - Age/Debt Relationship, Mr. D. Wilson 630
Res. 467, Teen Scene Ctr.: Founders - Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 631
Vote - Affirmative 632
Res. 468, Meisner, Chris: Athletics Can. Development Card - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 632
Vote - Affirmative 633
Res. 469, Sea Kings: Replacement Urge - Crew Congrats.,
Mr. K. Deveaux 633
Vote - Affirmative 634
Res. 470, Atl. Journalism Awards: Hfx. Herald - Finalists Congrats.,
Mr. J. Holm 634
Vote - Affirmative 635
Res. 471, Atl. Journalism Awards: Amy Smith/Nominees - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 635
Vote - Affirmative 635
Res. 472, Health: Long-Term Care Policy/NDP Link - Min. Apologize,
Mr. D. Dexter 636
Res. 473, Borden, Bill: Tom Parker Award - Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 636
Vote - Affirmative 637
Res. 474, Avalon Ctr.: Funding - Inadequacy, Mr. J. Pye 637
Res. 475, Dorrington, Deacon Leslie: W.P. Oliver Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 638
Vote - Affirmative 638
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 50, Health: Long-Term Care Costs - Non-Coverage Justify,
Mr. D. Dexter 639
No. 51, Prem.: Commitments - Political Spin, Mr. M. Samson 640
No. 52, Health: Long-Term Care Assess. - Changes, Mr. D. Dexter 642
No. 53, Environ. & Lbr.: Water Strategy - Flood (03/03) Address,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 643
No. 54, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Assessment Data - Sale Details,
Mr. H. Epstein 644
No. 55, Health: Nursing Strategy - Success Details, Mr. D. Dexter 645
No. 56, Commun. Serv.: Transition Houses/Women's Ctrs. -
Annual Funding Crisis, Mr. W. Gaudet 646
No. 57, Commun. Serv.: Avalon Ctr. - Funding Refusal Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 648
No. 58, Fin.: Tax Cut - Parental Effect, Mr. G. Steele 649
No. 59, Health: Primary Health Care Transition Funding - Usage Explain,
Dr. J. Smith 650
No. 60, Serv. N.S. & Mun. Rel.: Seniors' Med. Info. - Release Details,
Mr. H. Epstein 651
No. 61, Educ.: Loan Remission Prog. - Restore, Mr. D. Wilson 652
No. 62, Commun. Serv.: Reg. Res. Services Soc. - Deal Negotiate,
Mr. J. Pye 654
No. 63, Health: Care - Pictou Co. Fund, Dr. J. Smith 655
No. 64, Health: SARS Concerns - Recommendations, Mr. G. Steele 656
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. J. Pye 658
Mr. P. MacEwan 662
Mr. B. Taylor 666
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:26 P.M. 670
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:59 P.M. 670
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Health: Long-Term Care Fix - Vote-Winner:
Mr. R. MacKinnon 672
Hon. J. Muir 674
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 676
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Wed., Apr. 9th at 2:00 p.m. 679
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 476, Search & Rescue Techs.: Efforts - Commend, Mr. R. Hurlburt 680
Res. 477, Ocean Nutrition Can. Ltd.: Nat'l. Research Coun. Award -
Congrats., Mr. Ronald Chisholm 680
Res. 478, Valley Reg. Hosp. Fdn.: Festival of Lights Campaign -
Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 681
Res. 479, Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Soc.: Area Hist. -
Promotion Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 681
Res. 480, Duck, Michael: Company Success - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 682

[Page 613]

HALIFAX, TUESDAY, APRIL 8, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of personal privilege. Last week the member for Cape Breton South rose on a matter of what he believed to be a point of personal privilege but the Speaker respectfully disagreed. Granted, the ads that the member was talking about regarding taxation were not detailed and therefore the Speaker ruled it was clearly for information purposes.

Mr. Speaker, my point today is regarding a pamphlet that was sent out to each and every Nova Scotian household outlining specific budget matters. The budget has not been passed. We have not debated the full 40 hours that is our privilege as members of this House of Assembly. That tax cut and the spending that is outlined in this pamphlet are specific enough to warrant a case be made that our privileges have been violated as members of this House.

613

[Page 614]

I believe, Mr. Speaker, if you review the Ontario decision brought forward by my honourable colleague, you'll find that this situation is precisely the same as the one that existed in Ontario. While the previous point by my colleague was not deemed a matter of privilege, the government has taken advantage of this situation to be more blatant and flagrant in its violation of our rights and our privileges as members of this House.

Again, in light of the new material, I urge the Speaker to contrast this with the Ontario decision and this new document is clearly a prima facie breach of privilege. Thank you.

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

Before we begin the daily routine the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Dartmouth East:

Therefore be it resolved that the Tory long-term care fix is a pre-election check list item designed to win votes rather than a concrete plan to eliminate the health care costs of nursing care.

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

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I would like to table for the House, revisions to Page 133 and Page 136 of the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation's business plan. This is simply to bring the numbers cited on Goal 3 on those two pages to conform with all budget documents. I have copies here for both Parties and I shall table them.

MR. SPEAKER: The document is tabled.

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Education.

[Page 615]

RESOLUTION NO. 445

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

Whereas Grade 12 J.L. Ilsley student, Laura Houlihan, was one of 50 Canadian students chosen to attend the War Child Canada conference over March break to work on a special project for her high school social studies department; and

Whereas Ms. Houlihan will be taking part in panels and workshops about the international Criminal Code and human rights issues in war-torn countries, with a special focus on genocide, crimes against humanity, and child soldiers; and

Whereas Ms. Houlihan, who plans to enrol in the international development program at Saint Mary's University next year, spends her spare time tutoring English, volunteering at her school's teen-health centre, as well as at Camp Hill's Veterans' Memorial Hospital, just to name a few;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Laura Houlihan on being selected for the War Child Canada conference and wish her continued success in all her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 446

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

Whereas April 8, 2003 marks the 10th Anniversary of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice; and

[Page 616]

Whereas the department is dedicated to the fair and effective administrative of justice and to service excellence to the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the department has accomplished much in the past decade and looks forward to the challenges that await over the next 10 years;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate all staff, past and present, of the Nova Scotia Department of Justice with sincere best wishes for an equally productive future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 29 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 103 of the Acts of 1981. The Union of Nova Scotia Municipalities Act. (Hon. Peter Christie as a private member.)

Bill No. 30 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 179 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Forests Act. (Mr. John MacDonell)

Bill No. 31 - Entitled an Act Respecting the Protection of Medicare in Nova Scotia. (Ms. Maureen MacDonald)

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. 447

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

[Page 617]

Whereas on budget day, the government's slide show for media claimed that Nova Scotia was receiving $105 million in Romanow dollars and adding $25 million from provincial sources; and

Whereas every government official knew that another $15 million of Romanow money had been hidden in the Health Department estimates; and

Whereas according to the budget bulletins, "funding to support doctors, nurses, health staff and patient care will increase by $119 million in 2003-04";

Therefore be it resolved that the Premier should apologize for his government's attempt to pretend that it was putting provincial source money into health care this year, and explain why increased support for fixing the health system - his top priority - is relying entirely on Romanow money in this election year.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 448

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

Whereas the government's new political advertising hit the mailboxes of Nova Scotians recently; and

Whereas this is yet another example of this government having the Nova Scotia taxpayer pay for the Progressive Conservative election campaign; and

Whereas this obvious attempt by the government to be re-elected on the taxpayers dime has reached proportions never seen before in Nova Scotia politics;

[Page 618]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House encourage the government to stop using taxpayers' money in an attempt to re-elect a government Nova Scotians will have seen enough of at the end of this term.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 449

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

Whereas Tartan Day was celebrated in Pictou County on April 6th, a date originating back to 1320 when Scottish nobles sent a letter to the Pope declaring their faith in Scotland and the King of Scotland at a gathering in Arbroath Abbey; and

Whereas on Tartan Day all Nova Scotians, Scottish and otherwise, are encouraged to celebrate with a show of tartan to honour the significant historical significance of our Scottish heritage, especially in the province known as New Scotland; and

Whereas celebrations on Sunday at the Hector Exhibit Centre in Pictou included a wonderful show of the tartan, music by the Heather Bell Pipe Band and Spyder MacDonald as well as the presentation to our Premier and the mayor of a copy of the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in recognizing Tartan Day 2003 and thank organizers of the Pictou event for bringing to our attention a significant piece of our province's history.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 619]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 450

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

Whereas this government has trumpeted the merits of its $50 million strategy to recruit desperately needed nurses; and

Whereas graduating nurses in Nova Scotia wonder at the strategy's merits when many of them are unable to find nursing positions in the province; and

[12:15 p.m.]

Whereas in the meantime nurses are being forced to work massive amounts of overtime to provide needed care and are being stretched to their limits;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Health admit that this government's nursing recruitment strategy needs revisiting so that we can provide employment for our own graduating nurses.

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 Cape Breton Nova.

[Page 620]

RESOLUTION NO. 451

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

Whereas one week ago this corner predicted that Councillor Vince Hall, well-known for his responsive response to the cat menace, would be seeking the NDP nomination; and

Whereas lo and behold, this past Friday the Cape Breton Post reported that Councillor Vince Hall would indeed be seeking the NDP nomination in Glace Bay; and

Whereas we can now expect Councillor Hall to be meowing about the countryside liberating the people from the cat menace through the good offices of the NDP;

Therefore be it resolved that the NDP be commended for having enticed such enemies of the cat to their banner as this will no doubt encourage the mouse population and so enable the NDP to pose as the pied piper moreso than ever.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

RESOLUTION NO. 452

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

Whereas, all over our country, the Canadian Cancer Society is working to eradicate cancer and improve the quality of life for those living with it; and

Whereas the Pictou East unit of the Canadian Cancer Society recently held a Curl for Cancer fundraiser; and

Whereas Curl for Cancer raised over $83,000 for this important cause;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the members of the Pictou East Canadian Cancer Society for holding the Curl for Cancer event and thank all volunteers and participants for their tremendous efforts which made the fundraiser such a success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 621]

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. 453

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

Whereas several students from Riverside Educational Centre recently participated in the Colchester East Hants District Area French Public Speaking Competition; and

Whereas this event, Concours d'art oratoire 2003, was sponsored by the Canadian Parents for French, Nova Scotia; and

Whereas students from Riverside Educational Centre participating in this public speaking competition included: Michelle Fievet, Sarah Hoganson, Matthew Morash, Chantelle MacDougal, Lydia MacDonell, Brendan MacDonell, Eathan Momberquette and Heather Norton;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the students of Riverside Educational Centre in East Hants and all students who participated and won medals in the Colchester East Hants District Area French Public Speaking Competition, Concours d'art oratoire 2003.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 622]

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 454

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

Whereas today marks the 40th year of service to the people of Canada of our Prime Minister, Jean Chretien, a man who has dedicated most of his adult life to help make Canada a better place for all citizens; and

Whereas our Prime Minister is marking his 10th year as leader of our country, a tenure that has seen remarkable economic recovery after years of Tory waste, a tenure that has also seen tremendous growth in job creation, five consecutive years of surplus and, most recently, a renewed investment in our health care system; and

Whereas the people of Nova Scotia are proud of the achievements of our Prime Minister and honour his service to his country;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House stand in appreciation of this remarkable leader and thank him for all the good that he has done for Canadians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 455

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 this government is committed to establishing and maintaining initiatives to end smoking among our young people; and

[Page 623]

Whereas students from Clayton Park Junior High have shown creativity and leadership in this province's ongoing campaign to keep young people from smoking; and

Whereas these students have created a poster that makes a very insightful and accurate point, "19 makes it legal, but it's always lethal";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating the students of Clayton Park Junior High School for their efforts toward discouraging teen smoking.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 456

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

Whereas the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency released a study that says 92 bank branch closures - and counting - in the region are damaging small business; and

Whereas unlike Canada's five major banks, credit unions concentrate on investing in building lasting financial strength in the communities they serve; and

Whereas the ACOA study says that credit unions should be encouraged to fill the gap created by these closures, particularly in rural areas, but that they are hamstrung by regulations;

Therefore be it resolved that this government acknowledge ACOA's study of bank closures in the region and make its best efforts to assist Nova Scotia's credit unions to fill the gap left by the continuing closure of bank branches, particularly in rural communities.

[Page 624]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 457

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

Whereas the provincial minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization violated the Office of Critical Infrastructure Protection and Emergency Planning Guidelines on the issue of safety by publically announcing Nova Scotia's municipalities' state of emergency preparedness of those municipalities simply for the sake of political promotion; and

Whereas the Member of Parliament for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough made Canada going to war in Iraq a key policy platform; and

Whereas the provincial minister responsible for EMO is a strong supporter of the MP for Pictou-Antigonish-Guysborough in his bid for the leadership of the Progressive Conservative Party of Canada;

Therefore be it resolved that the provincial minister responsible for EMO apologize for compromising the safety and well-being of municipalities across Nova Scotia for the sake of political promotion.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 625]

RESOLUTION NO. 458

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

Whereas in 1989, Canada launched the March 21st campaign and the "Racism. Stop It!" National Video Competition in support of the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, encouraging young Canadians to take action to put an end to racial discrimination; and

Whereas 10 winning videos were selected based on originality, audio/visual quality, and effectiveness in delivering the "Racism. Stop It!" message; and an award ceremony takes place to honour these young people involved in producing the winning entries; and

Whereas five students from Bedford Junior High School: Melissa Strickland, Andrew Green, Colin Steele, Christina Medeiros, and Paul Medeiros, were the members of one of the winning video teams and have their video posted on the Internet at www.march21.gc.ca;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate these five Nova Scotian students on their success in the National Video Competition and commend them for their initiative to help put a stop to racial discrimination in Canada.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 459

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

Whereas the Canadian Association of Food Banks and national sponsors Petro-Canada and Purolator Courier have announced a Phones-For-Food Program; and

[Page 626]

Whereas the Metro Food Bank Society-Nova Scotia has been joined locally in this worthwhile program by DownEast Communications; and

Whereas the public is encouraged to throw their inactive cell phones into a special drop box rather than the garbage, and the phones are recycled with the local food banks receiving the proceeds;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Metro Food Bank Society-Nova Scotia, its national body the Canadian Association of Food Banks, national sponsors Petro-Canada and Purolator Courier and provincial sponsor DownEast Communications for the Phones-For-Food Program which will feed hungry children in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 460

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

Whereas "Bu, shi shi" means," No, thank you" in Mandarin Chinese and "La, shukren" means, "No, thank you" in Arabic; and

Whereas "No, thank you" is "Nie, Dzienkuje" in Polish, "Nee, dyaku yu" in Ukrainian and "Nyet, spasibo" in Russian; and

Whereas "Chan eil tapadh, leat" means "No, thank you" in Gaelic, according to the honourable member for Victoria;

[Page 627]

Therefore be it resolved that this resolution establishes in six well-known languages other than English the appropriate response to Tory meowings for votes that may be expected in the near future, shortly after the mail brings the $155 cheque.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Justice.

RESOLUTION NO. 461

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

Whereas Anthony Purdy was named 2002 Coach of the Year at the Truro Sport Heritage Society's 19th annual Sports Awards Dinner; and

Whereas Anthony Purdy is the Head Coach of the Truro Bluebombers Peewee Football team which won the 2002 Nova Scotia Peewee Football League and Maritime Peewee Football Championships; and

Whereas in addition to creating a positive football experience for all players, he gives them a very important lesson in the game of life, respect for others and themselves;

Therefore be it resolved that all members congratulate Anthony Purdy on being named 2002 Coach of the Year by the Truro Sport Heritage Society and thank him for the countless hours he devotes to teach young men and women skills in football and lessons in life.

Mr. Speaker, before requesting waiver I would like to point out to the House that Mr. Purdy is an employee of the Department of Justice.

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 628]

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 462

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

Whereas this year the Atlantic Journalism Awards of achievement will be handed out in a ceremony on May 3rd; and

Whereas among those nominated are a bevy of Daily News journalists including Cathy Nicoll, Rachel Boomer, Beth Johnston, Keith Bonnell, David Redwood, Michael DeAdder and Scott Dunlop; and

Whereas we might particularly admire the coverage for which Keith Bonnell are nominated, the events in which police used tear gas to break up a group of protestors during the G-7 Finance Ministers meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Daily News journalists Cathy Nicoll, Rachel Boomer, Beth Johnston, Keith Bonnell, David Redwood, Michael DeAdder and Scott Dunlop, all of whom are nominated for this year's Atlantic Journalism Awards.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 463

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

Whereas volunteerism is vital to the vibrancy of any community; and

[Page 629]

Whereas Mabel Whitman of Bedford has been nominated as Bedford's Volunteer of the Year for the year 2002-03 in appreciation of her unselfish community and church service;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Mabel Whitman and all other volunteers for their countless hours of community-minded service in helping others.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver.

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 Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 464

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

Whereas the Better Business Bureau annually recognizes companies making contributions to charitable and non-profit organizations in their community; and

Whereas the award winners are chosen based on their long-term commitment to the Better Business Bureau and the level of community activity performed by the company; and

Whereas Sydco Fuels Ltd. of Cape Breton has received the Better Business Bureau Community Achievement Award;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the owners and staff of Sydco Fuels Ltd. on the receipt of their Better Business Bureau award and wish them continued success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 630]

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. 465

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

Whereas it is important that Nova Scotians know when secondary roads in their communities will receive much-needed improvements; and

Whereas this government should make public its priority list for roadwork; and

Whereas this list would demonstrate to Nova Scotians that this government has a plan for road improvements based upon clear and well-defined priorities;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works make public his government's priority list for secondary road projects immediately.

[12:30 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 466

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 Premier is celebrating his birthday today; and

Whereas no doubt all members will wish him well in his 65th year; and

[Page 631]

Whereas in addition to his $155 cheque he will now be collecting the Canada Pension;

Therefore be it resolved that as he celebrates his 65th year the Premier may be left to wonder, whadya get - another day older and $120 million deeper in debt.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto on an introduction.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw the attention of members of the House to a number of school visitors that we have with us today. In the west gallery we have 19 students from Grades 7 through 12 from Kings View Academy. They're accompanied by two of their teachers, Tracey Devereaux and Wendy Brackett. They've come to observe us at our work, they've understood that they're to rise and I would ask all members to give them the usual warm welcome to the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome our special guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 467

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

Whereas there has been a long-term continuing need for services for teens in the Spryfield area; and

Whereas the Mainland South Teen Health Centre was established to meet this need in co-operation with other agencies such as the Cowie Family Medicine Clinic, "Choices" Drug Dependency Services, Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, Chebucto Boys and Girls Club and Planned Parenthood; and

[Page 632]

Whereas the Teen Health Centre established a Teen Scene Centre at the beginning of the year in a shopping mall in Spryfield;

Therefore be it resolved that this House offer congratulations to the Mainland South Teen Health Centre and the other founding groups and agencies for the establishment of the Teen Scene Centre in Spryfield.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Richmond.

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

Whereas the Premier is another day older, but we're $120 million deeper in debt; and

Whereas as the old song goes, you load 16 ton and whatdaya get - $155, but deeper in debt; and

Whereas the Premier got one fist of iron and the other of steel and if the right one doesn't pick your pocket then the left one will;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize that all Nova Scotians are another day older and $11.6 billion in debt under this Tory Administration.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The resolution is out of order.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 468

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

[Page 633]

Whereas last year Chris Meisner from Lunenburg, Nova Scotia set a Canadian Junior Shotput record and finished 11th at the World Junior Championship; and

Whereas Sport Canada provides funding for eight developmental track and field athletes; and

Whereas Chris Meisner has been awarded one of eight Athletics Canada Development Cards which will pay his tuition and books and provide him with a monthly stipend;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Chris Meisner on his athletic accomplishments and on being awarded an Athletics Canada Development Card and wish him continued success in his athletic career.

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 Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 469

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

Whereas Nova Scotians felt genuine embarrassment when they learned after the recent Sea King accident that Canada can't provide adequate helicopter defence and assistance for its ships serving in the Persian Gulf; and

Whereas in spite of this, the federal government continues to waffle on the Sea King replacement contract and there's no firm date yet for their replacement; and

Whereas our military personnel who service and fly these ancient Sea Kings deserve our greatest appreciation for doing such an outstanding job in spite of the great limitations the federal Liberal Government has placed upon them;

[Page 634]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the good men and women who maintain and crew the Sea Kings and encourage the federal Liberal Government to provide a suitable replacement for the aged helicopters immediately.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Sackville-Cobequid.

RESOLUTION NO. 470

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

Whereas since 1981, the Atlantic Journalism Awards has recognized journalistic excellence and achievement in print and electronic news media in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas awards are presented in various categories, including feature writing, sports reporting, photojournalism, editorial cartooning and special series; and

Whereas nine journalists with The Halifax Herald newspaper are among the finalists for the 2003 awards to be presented at a gala awards dinner on May 3rd in Halifax;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate the hard-working people from The Herald for qualifying as finalists for these prestigious awards and commend them for their high degree of excellence in journalism.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 635]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 471

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 Atlantic Journalism Awards honours journalistic excellence and achievement in print and electronic news media in Atlantic Canada; and

Whereas 16 Halifax newspaper reporters have been honoured with nominations for their work in photojournalism, spot journalism, enterprise reporting, sports journalism and editorial cartooning; and

Whereas legislative reporter Amy Smith has been nominated for her collaborative work on The Herald series on the Sydney tar ponds with Tera Camus, Susan LeBlanc, Dean Jobb and Paul Schneidereit;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Amy Smith and all the nominees of the Atlantic Journalism Awards for their outstanding achievements in journalism.

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.

[Page 636]

RESOLUTION NO. 472

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

Whereas the Minister of Health, yesterday, thanked the NDP for pushing the government to stop making seniors in nursing homes pay for their health care costs; and

Whereas the minister is sadly mistaken if she believes the intent of the NDP campaign on long-term care was to support her saddling seniors with four more years of having their assets stripped away to pay for health care; and

Whereas the NDP asked the minister to choose the only fair option and to stop the discrimination, but she refused to exercise it for the benefit of today's seniors;

Therefore be it resolved that this House chastise the Minister of Health for trying to link the NDP to her non-fix for seniors in long-term care who still have to pay for their health care costs.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 473

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

Whereas entrepreneurs are key to a varied and vibrant economy; and

Whereas the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce held its annual awards banquet recently to honour entrepreneurial spirit in the area; and

Whereas the chamber awarded the Tom Parker Award to Mr. Bill Borden for his involvement with his community, as well as maintaining his commitment to his business;

[Page 637]

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate the East Hants and District Chamber of Commerce for a successful year and local entrepreneur Bill Borden on receiving the chamber's Tom Parker Award for his service to his community and the business world.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

RESOLUTION NO. 474

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

Whereas last year this government chose at budget time to beat up on transition houses for women and children in Nova Scotia, a strategy from which it has only partially retreated; and

Whereas this year the government continues its assault on services for women by refusing to provide adequate funding for the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre; and

Whereas the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre faces a funding pinch that threatens to reduce the services it can provide, thus making further victims of the victims it supports;

Therefore be it resolved that this House condemn this government for its abandonment of Nova Scotia families by its failure to provide adequate funding for the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 638]

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 475

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

Whereas the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia recently presented the Reverend W. P. Oliver Wall of Honour Award to Beechville resident, Deacon Leslie Dorrington; and

Whereas Deacon Dorrington has provided inspired leadership for many years to the people of Beechville; and

Whereas Deacon Dorrington's efforts and dedication to his community are much appreciated by all;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate Deacon Leslie Dorrington of Beechville, on receiving the Black Cultural Society of Nova Scotia's Reverend W.P. Oliver Wall of Fame Award with good wishes for a great future in all of his future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Question Period begins today at 12:41 p.m. and ends at 1:41 p.m.

[Page 639]

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE COSTS - NON-COVERAGE JUSTIFY

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Minister of Health announced they will eventually cover the cost of health care for seniors in nursing homes in the year 2007. Meanwhile, at least 6,000 seniors will lose tens of millions of dollars of their life savings between now and April 1, 2007, to pay for health care that nobody else in Nova Scotia has to pay for. The policy wasn't fair before yesterday's changes, it isn't fair today, and won't be fair tomorrow. I ask the Minister of Health, how can he justify continuing to impoverish seniors for another four years before he does the right thing and covers the health care costs of those in long-term care facilities?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are beginning to cover those health care costs immediately, as the Leader of the Official Opposition knows.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a government of half measures. It made a meaningless change to the financial assessment process in November, geared more toward suiting the convenience of the staff than seniors. This year it will take an average senior one whole month longer to lose their life savings than it did last year, but they will still lose their life savings and nothing has changed. When will the Minister of Health admit that yesterday's announcement is yet another transparent Tory attempt to buy the goodwill of voters?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, on the contrary, the changes we made in November were not meaningless; it saved those seniors $3 million and again, this year, another $5.5 million towards paying medical costs. This system has been in existence for 30 years or more and it's going to be changed in four - we are going to have the best system in the Atlantic Provinces.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's a tiny fraction of what they take out of the pockets of seniors every month. This government can't play Scrooge one day and Santa the next and expect to fool the taxpayers of Nova Scotia. Seniors can't wait four years for this government to stop impoverishing them, because they require nursing home care. My question for the Minister of Health is very simple, who do you think you're kidding?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yesterday the Chairman of the Group of Nine said what amazed her is that a government was acting on this at all, because they have been asking governments to do this for so long. I think that the seniors know better than anyone else that this is a big step forward.

[Page 640]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PREM.: COMMITMENTS - POLITICAL SPIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, more and more each day the Premier seems less and less concerned about the performance of his government. He is more concerned with his personal reputation, trying to convince Nova Scotians that he has kept his commitments. Yet, there are dozens of places where the Premier has said that the debt of this province would stop growing and he would not mortgage the future of his children and grandchildren. For example, on April 28, 2002, before the Construction Management Bureau, the Premier said, "We have to stop piling up debt before its too late. We have to start living within our means . . . stop mortgaging our children and grandchildren. Otherwise we're going to end up financially . . . and morally bankrupt."

[12:45 p.m.]

Yet, Mr. Speaker, even in a briefing note from Rob Batherson in the Premier's Office, Mr. Batherson himself identifies that the Premier has to worry about some of his statements and not living up to his commitments. Therefore, my question to the Premier is, could the Premier elaborate on why he is more concerned with political spin than actually living up to the commitments he made to Nova Scotians in 1999?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite would have credibility on this question if he was not a member of the government that from 1993 to 1998 racked up more debt than in any other six years in our history.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is the Premier who preached to the previous administration and preached to Nova Scotians in saying that he would not add to the debt. Yet, sir, you've had four years to live up to that commitment and you have failed. Here in a briefing note, I could have predicted that answer, in fact, in advice to the Premier, privileged and confidential, it gives the very same answer that the Premier just gave today and I can predict a few more of his answers.

Mr. Speaker, it says in that briefing note that the answer to questions such as, can Nova Scotians trust what you say, Premier, it says in there itself that the Premier's own words are going to be problematic when it comes to the debt. The document itself is proof the Premier has failed to live up to his commitment. My question to the Premier, when will the Premier dispense with the political spin and tell Nova Scotians directly why he has broken a fundamental commitment he made in 1999?

[Page 641]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member would have credibility if, in fact, he was not a member of a government that in six years racked up one-third of the entire debt of this province, in six years racked up $3.6 billion of our debt. We have had government here since . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: I wonder where the debt came from?

THE PREMIER: . . . for 200 years and in six years the government of which that member was a part racked up one-third of the debt of this province - in six years. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Richmond on your final supplementary.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, more and more you see how obvious it is for the Premier when his credibility is on the line, when he has clearly broken his word to Nova Scotians, he resorts to attacking others rather than taking accountability for what he has done in four years. Now, in 1993, Premier, I was sitting in Dalhousie Law School, nowhere near the House of Assembly, yet four long years is what this Premier has had to keep up to his commitment, to keep up to what he preached to the previous administration, what he preached to Nova Scotians, and today what a shame to see, on his 65th birthday, how he has failed Nova Scotians in that commitment.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, one of the other quotes, the Premier said . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The question, please.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Premier said, "What I've said is the day that I can't keep my commitments to the people . . . I'm going to start uninvolving myself in public life." Therefore, my final supplementary, why won't the Premier simply keep his word to Nova Scotians and admit that he has broken his promise to not add to the debt of this province?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the members of this government to whom the province owes a great debt is the Minister of Finance, the current Minister of Finance, who a year ago tabled the first balanced budget in Nova Scotia, the first stepping stone to fiscal responsibility in our province and I would ask that minister to field the question.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite always tries to give statements which appear to mislead the facts that are there. The member opposite is saying that our government would not add to the debt of this province when we said very clearly that we would bring about a balanced budget after three years and the deficit that we inherited

[Page 642]

from the previous administration that member was a part of was $500 million. We have added to the debt in this year $118 million. That is a manageable debt. When you look at the increases in our economy, that is something that we, as a government, are very proud of and for that we will have a legacy and that will be the fixed assets that we bought with that.

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

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE ASSESS. - CHANGES

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government tried to tell Nova Scotians that its changes in November in the long-term care system made the financial assessments for seniors more fair. I would like to table a document by the Department of Health that clearly shows how unfair the changes were. The document states that the most prevalent comment being heard by the eligibility review staff about the new exemption is the sense of unfairness regarding the $25,000 exemption only applying to those who have spouses. I would ask the Minister of Health, when will you admit the changes last November were more about putting out brush fires than offering meaningful change for seniors?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the assessment process itself is very problematic and it's difficult for the seniors who go through it, but I don't know about putting out brush fires, that comment coming from the person who was starting them in the first place.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know what it's going to take to light a fire under that minister, I will tell you that. The same document says that only one-quarter of those in the assessment process have a spouse, and the changes discriminate against the majority who are single and have limited assets. Staff recommend that an increase in the seniors' monthly allowance, however, this government completely ignored their recommendation and went ahead with a plan that was aimed at the minority in this province. When will the minister admit that her government has turned its back on seniors in this province?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government is making a great commitment to seniors in this province, not only by changing the system and alleviating the burden of medical care costs in nursing homes but also by this year's contribution to Pharmacare costs.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm sure they think they can tell people that black is white. This is the government that raised the premiums in Pharmacare - anyway, a subject for another day. The government tried to mislead the public in November but Nova Scotians knew then and they know now that these changes are nothing more than a cynical election-year public relations ploy. The long-term care system in this province still impoverishes seniors every day and discriminates on the basis of marital status. I ask the Minister of Health, why would you design a system that ensures that if you are a widow or a widower, you will also be driven into poverty?

[Page 643]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, this government is making a great effort and spending a considerable amount of money in helping people who need help. We come from a different philosophical point of view than the Party opposite, who won't be satisfied until every man, woman child in this province is a victim.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR.: WATER STRATEGY - FLOOD (03/03) ADDRESS

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Over a week ago, Nova Scotia suffered its worst flooding in 30 years. Nova Scotian homes and business owners now have the burden of repairing the damage caused by these floods. With these looming hardships, Nova Scotians must be assured their drinking water will remain safe. and as the Premier may or may not be aware, flooding can very well have a major impact, negatively, toward the quality of one's drinking water. My question to the Premier is, how does your government's water strategy address the dangers demonstrated by the recent floods and what is your government preparing to do to address this important issue?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that is a good question. I refer it to the Minister of Environment and Labour.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the water strategy program is in place and we are advising all householders who have their wells inundated by flood waters to immediately have those wells tested.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, along with the floods, there is a concern for oil spills from home heating tanks, which the member for Kings South touched on last night. In fact, I will table an e-mail from the Deputy Minister of Environment and Labour to the Deputy Minister for the Premier's Office which addresses the concern or the fear they have for these oil spills. In fact, the Deputy Minister of the Department of Environment and Labour is most concerned with the potential impact on drinking water which outlines the reason for their earlier press release. The staff in the Kentville office of the Department of Environment and Labour downplayed this concern, but we know that office is under investigation by the minister's office to which that report has never been made public. So my question to the Premier again is, is anyone from the Department of Environment and Labour looking into this particular matter, and if so, when will the people see a response informing the public of the potential dangers that these spills will impose?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, again a good question, but one for the Minister of Environment and Labour.

[Page 644]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, the department has people, today, in the Truro area advising householders who have suffered from rupture or overturning of oil tanks in their basements or adjacent to their houses.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, we have an internal document that outlines that this is a public relations' concern for the Premier since he's visiting these sites. We have nothing more than a press release so far from the minister and the government cautioning people about the situation of flooding. Quite simply we want to know what resources, what financial resources is the government committing to resolve the impact of flooding and where is this money coming from?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asks a question for which he does have the answer, but I will ask the minister acting for the minister of EMO to field the question.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member knows, the province last year - and it was announced in the House - entered into an agreement with the federal government under the Federal Disaster Assistance Act, and what it sees is that for damages there are a lot of parameters around the money, but for a person who is not eligible for insurance, there is assistance to get a home back into basic living condition. There is a sliding scale about how much money is contributed to the province from the federal government, depending on the amount of damage. As I understand it, the damage in the province is very extensive, so it will probably reach the maximum contribution from the federal government.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: ASSESSMENT DATA - SALE DETAILS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I have a question I would like directed to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. As we all know, this government downloaded the cost of the assessment division to municipalities at a cost to them of $12 million; in fact, this budget shows that cost has now risen to more than $15 million. Now we have found out that the government is searching for ways to make money off assessment, and I would like to table a document showing the government is considering selling assessment data to private-sector business. My question to the minister is, what information, exactly, about people's homes and properties is your government planning to sell?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. He's quite right, the municipal assessment was changed and it was brought under the control of the municipalities last year. A lot of information is available. We've been working to have information available through the land registration system. We've been attempting to make that assessment tie into the land registration system, so that it becomes an efficient use for municipalities and business throughout this province.

[Page 645]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, it's actually a little bit more than that. The document I've tabled contains the minutes from a meeting held last year between senior assessment officials and staff about the government's changes to the assessment division. It quotes a senior assessment official as saying - and that's in the document I've tabled - "Yes, consideration is being given to making some of our assessment data available to vendors . . . There are clearly opportunities on the public side." My question to the minister is, exactly what information are you going to be selling about people and their homes?

[1:00 p.m.]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, we have been looking at opportunities, looking at the possibility of making information available, and the honourable member certainly is aware, as his profession is that of a legal background, that the land registration system is one that we've been working with the Barristers' Society to make that available. Of course, there are a lot of requests for information that come into the department because it has such a large database and, indeed, the department is looking at a lot of options. All those options aren't identified as yet, but we're looking at the opportunities to make it easier to transact business and to get information in this province.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, people are required by law to provide information to assessors about their homes. They do it with the expectation that the information is used exclusively for assessment purposes. I don't know how keen they are on being phoned at home in the early evening, for example, by hardware stores asking if they would like new decks or windows. So I would like to ask the minister if he would please fully disclose what information his department is thinking of selling and to whom he plans to sell it?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I have attempted to indicate to the honourable member that this is an ongoing process, that this is something that has been talked about for a little while, but I will undertake to provide the member with the discussions that have been going on so he will be able to glean for himself what this province is trying to do in making information more available to people.

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

HEALTH: NURSING STRATEGY - SUCCESS DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Minister of Health. One-half of this year's graduating class at Dalhousie University's School of Nursing would like to stay in Nova Scotia - that is 62 desperately-needed nurses ready to live and work in this province. Yet most of them report that they can't find a full-time job. I ask the minister, how can you claim that your nursing strategy is successful when graduates from the Dalhousie University School of Nursing can't find full-time work in this province?

[Page 646]

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we have here is a situation where we do have a nursing shortage in some areas and we do have a case where not all graduates can find work. One aspect of that situation is that not all the available jobs are for graduates. Some of the jobs are for experienced nurses. The issue is more complex, but it is a situation that does exist where there is a mismatch between the two.

MR. DEXTER: There's a mismatch between this government and the people of Nova Scotia, Mr. Speaker, that's the mismatch. The Director of Nursing Strategy claims there are plenty of nursing jobs outside of metro - in Kentville, Truro, Amherst and in long-term care facilities. Yet many of these areas have a reputation for being underfunded and not having stability in their programs. We have seen emergency room closures, bed cuts, program losses. No wonder young nurses are reluctant to pull up stakes and move to these districts. My question is for the Minister of Health, what is your strategy doing to attract nurses to small towns, to rural areas, and into long-term care positions?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, one of our strategies in that area is the recently announced program, and the one that has been operating between St. F.X. and UCCB, because statistics show that nurses and people who are trained in their community will tend to stay in their community and that is one of the very successful programs that we have in keeping nurses in rural areas.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is the government of Bill No. 68 - the piece of legislation that sent nurses out to the streets to fight for their rights and drove nurses out of this province likely for good. The minister paints a very rosy picture of the nursing strategy, but the vacant positions around this province show a very different reality. I would like to ask the Minister of Health to take off her rose-coloured glasses and admit that nursing shortages continue under this government.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I know much better than to paint a rosy picture of health care, education, or anything else in this province, but we do have an improved picture, a much-improved picture over the past few years.

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

COMMUN. SERV.: TRANSITION HOUSES/WOMEN'S CTRS. -

ANNUAL FUNDING CRISIS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Last year we saw this Tory Government shamefully and without remorse cut $1 million from the budgets of transition houses and women's centres. The protests demonstrated a dire need for additional funding in order to continue to provide service to women. Unfortunately, those messages fell on deaf ears as the Hamm Government pretended there was no funding problem. If there is a consistent message from the Hamm Government when

[Page 647]

it comes to requests to support women's centres it is this: don't bother us with this funding problem because we don't care. So my question to the minister is, can this minister explain why his department and his government continually ignore the yearly funding crisis at transition houses and women's centres in the province?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question and I would like to assure the House and, in fact, I would like to assure all Nova Scotians that that is not the case. In fact, we have committed to continue the funding that was in place in 2001 - 2003 levels to these various programs.

MR. GAUDET: This minister must do more than proclaim that he's working with these groups and providing the same level of funding that they have. With its continual refusal to ignore the additional funding requests of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre, this Tory Government is content to play the part of the ostrich - sticking its head in the sand and hoping that the issue goes away. Such a disrespectful attitude demonstrates, again, that this John Hamm Tory Government clings to an outdated mindset that sexual violence against women isn't something to be taken seriously. I'll try again. My question to the minister, what is the minister doing to ensure that the service of the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre won't be cut so that all of its services will continue to be available to victims of sexual assault in this province?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring some comfort to the member opposite. He was expressing concerns that we were contemplating cutting their budget and that is not so. The budget is confirmed at $239,600 between the Department of Community Services, the Department of Health, and the Department of Justice.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, while this government wants the public to believe it's interested in providing those services, the record shows that it's not committed to the Avalon Centre, which is being forced to cut services that they provide. We know that, because as we speak, the Avalon Centre is holding a press conference downstairs to talk about its program cuts because of the lack of funding. This minister can't ignore the fact that without increased funding, the Avalon Centre will have to make drastic cuts to the centre's ability to deliver necessary programs and support. Again to the minister, will the minister commit to the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre that it has the support of this government in helping it address the centre's funding requests so that it may continue to provide all of its services?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I know the member opposite will be pleased to know that we did meet with the folks from the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and that the Community Services' commitment to them remains firm.

[Page 648]

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

COMMUN. SERV.: AVALON CTR. - FUNDING REFUSAL EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, what the minister should have said is that their commitment remains insufficient. The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre has had its funding frozen for 10 years. Meanwhile, the needs in the province and the number of people they see have increased. Avalon is the only stand-alone sexual assault centre in the province and on average, they see 70 people a month. Their small staff provides individual counselling, therapy and professional development. The government is fully aware of the plight, but yet they do nothing. I want to ask the minister, why are you refusing to provide this centre with the support they need? Why is it that you don't value this service?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that, in fact, what he has said is not so. In fact, in 1998-99 there was an increment. Last year there was an extra $3,500 that was provided to the centre to help them deal with another situation and, again, I confirm that this government is committed to the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would like to talk about this government's commitment. Since coming to office, the Hamm Government has cut child protection, family violence prevention and clawed back funding for women's justice projects. Last year at this time they tried to cut women's centres' funding. Now they're refusing to provide centres like the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre with the funds that they need to stay alive. Mr. Minister, these centres have been spending decades trying to break the cycles of violence. I want to ask you to explain what it is that your government has against these programs?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to assure Nova Scotians that many of the statements that were just made by the member opposite are not so. I'm going to single out one of the many questions a person could pick out from his speech and that is with regard to the family violence. I would like to say that the former minister, the member for Bedford-Fall River, in fact, met with the various transition house representatives and there is an agreement in place with them and we are living up to the agreement to maintain their funding with the aim that that service should be provided right across the province.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister must live in another world. We had to drag thousands of petitions into this House in order to get that minister to live up to his responsibility to those centres. The Avalon Sexual Assault Centre is desperately trying to keep its doors open. At times they have a waiting list of up to three to four months. There is no doubt that the need in this province is great. Mr. Minister, what will it take for you to guarantee that you will increase your support for this centre? I want you to answer one simple question, why don't you care?

[Page 649]

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I would suggest that the track record of this government has been, and will continue to be, caring for those who are most in need in this society.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN.: TAX CUT - PARENTAL EFFECT

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, it appears that this government believes that some taxpayers are more worthy than others. Middle to low income families are far less likely to receive the $155 pre-election cheque. The simple truth of the matter is that the lower one's income and the higher one's child care expenses, the less likely one is to get the cheque with the Premier's name on it. So my question to the Minister of Finance, why did you design this tax cut to punish parents just because they're parents?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, it's obvious from the question the member opposite asked that he's ignoring the facts that this budget presented. We said that we would give taxpayers relief. This budget does that. For the member opposite to make the statements that he said is a misrepresentation of the facts.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, the fact is 300,000 Nova Scotians will not qualify for this pre-election cheque. In fact, every Nova Scotian who has a dependent family member is less likely to pay provincial income tax. Yet those families are paying unfair Liberal and Tory taxes every time they put clothes on their children's back, or gasoline in the family car. This government has made sure those same families are paying higher property taxes, higher gasoline taxes, higher tuition fees, higher school fees, higher nursing home fees and higher parking fees at rural hospitals, to name only a few. My question to the minister is, why did you design this pre-election cheque so that families who have suffered from 10 years of higher fees and high taxes that were payable regardless of income level, why did you refuse to give these families a real break and a fair break?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, what we're seeing here is a Party, the New Democratic Party, that doesn't realize, I guess, in a sense how the economy works. What we have done as a Party is bring stability to the finances of this province and by the fact that we have done so, there are 26,000 men and women in this province that weren't working when we came to office that are working today. The NDP does not recognize that the private sector drives the economy and he does not understand that income tax is a factor in determining how many people will work or how many businesses will invest in this province.

Mr. Speaker, we will stand on our record of job creation, because job creation is the motto of our Party and it is a dirty word to the NDP.

[Page 650]

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I noticed the minister has no answer on the question of fairness - he has no answer so he has to go on the attack. The truth is the more children a family has the less likely it is that family will get this pre-election cheque; if you pay medical expenses out of your own pocket, the less likely you are to get this cheque; if you pay these high tuition fees, the less chance you have of getting this cheque. My question for the minister is, will the Minister of Finance tell 300,000 working age, taxpaying Nova Scotians who are not going to get this pre-election cheque why he has decided to slam the door in their face?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite and his Party have often chastised our government for, in their opinion, not keeping promises because they were hoping, I think, sometimes we weren't. We told Nova Scotians that we would give them income tax relief. What have we done? We have done exactly that. I should also point out that 3,500 Nova Scotians who were paying taxes before will not pay any taxes whatsoever because of the changes that we have put. We said that taxpayers of this province would pay less taxes. Have we done what we said we would do? Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: PRIMARY HEALTH CARE TRANSITION FUNDING -

USAGE EXPLAIN

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, there is a disturbing pattern developing within this government and it is the pattern of receiving money from Ottawa for specific programs and then discovering it is not being used for the intended purposes. My question is to the Minister of Health. We are all aware what this government did with the Millennium Scholarship money, the hepatitis C money, and now the federal housing money. This has not flowed through to the people of Nova Scotia. My question to the minister is very straightforward, what has happened to the missing $17 million in primary health care transition fund money this government received last Fall?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, that is part of a primary care transition fund that is provided by the federal Department of Health that the province had to apply for. We signed the contract last Fall, after several years of wrangling, and that money is being flowed through to the various projects that applied for the funds.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, we all know the movie, Jerry Maguire, and the quote "Show me the money." - and that is where we are today. It's very vague, it's flowing through, there's flexibility in the program - we got that last night during the estimates. Nova Scotians want this government to show them the money that is flowing through from Ottawa. I'm sure there are many health professionals - primary care health professionals, particularly - throughout this province who would be interested in knowing where that $17 million for

[Page 651]

health care reform at the primary care level is. Now that you have the $17 million, why isn't the minister moving forward with some more concrete action to reform the primary health care system in this province?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I will be glad to supply a list of where that money is going to go, but the money does not show as part of our budget because it comes directly out of a fund from Ottawa, which we had to negotiate for, the same as all the other provinces.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, one concern that we have on this side of the House is that the $155 cheque that is going to go out will not cut in to the matching $17 million from Ottawa; that's our suspicion. If we are suspicious, I'm sorry, but we are, because the record of this government is not very good in flowing the money through to Nova Scotians. So we have $17 million for primary care - finally, can the minister please explain where the $17 million has gone and if it is all not going toward primary care, where is it going?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, yes, it is all going to primary care and, as I said, I will supply a list of the projects.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

SERV. N.S. & MUN. REL.: SENIORS' MED. INFO. -

RELEASE DETAILS

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. I've had a look at the typical medical release that insurance companies are now asking seniors to sign if they want to obtain car insurance. It's an authorization to the physician, and here's what it states: "You are authorized to give . . .", - and it then puts in the name of the insurance company - ". . . any and all information (pertinent to this report) you may have regarding to my condition when under observation or treatment by you, including the history obtained, findings and diagnosis." It goes on to ask for the driver's age and poses this question: "Does he/she suffer from deficiencies in vision, hearing, heart or physical disability(ies) which are likely to have an effect on his/her ability to safely operate an automobile?"

What I would like to know, Mr. Speaker, is, would the minister inform this House as to whether or not his department receives medical information from insurance companies then respecting seniors?

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I will have to take that question under advisement and report back to the honourable member. I simply don't know if that information is coming into the department.

[Page 652]

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, I hadn't thought it was so obscure. As I understand it, the Motor Vehicle Act contains provisions for physician reporting of medical conditions which are known to impair driving abilities, and the minister's department has a medical advisory committee of medical specialists on driver licensing. There's a process in place, and I can only assume it's working. What I would like to know from the minister is this, does he believe that the insurance industry's practice of requiring seniors to release confidential medical information is an unreasonable invasion of their privacy since there is already a process for medical reporting direct from the family physician to the licensing authority, and this process seems to function?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated to the honourable member - his question was, is the information coming into the department and what is the use for it - I gave the undertaking to get back to him to provide him with that information.

MR. EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, just to be clear, the focus is on invasion of privacy. The minister's department has the legal authority, the staff, professional medical assistants to deal with drivers who may be unable to safely operate a motor vehicle. The additional invasion of privacy by the insurance industry seems to be unwarranted and shouldn't be allowed. I wonder if the minister, in his checking, will assure the House that the medical reporting system in Nova Scotia is working well, and will he take steps to end an unnecessary practice of the insurance companies invading the privacy of seniors?

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, as I mentioned before, I will undertake to get that information for the honourable member and to report back to him, and also to report on the procedures that are being used within the department as to where that information is going and who's using it.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC.: LOAN REMISSION PROG. - RESTORE

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. In the year 2000, this heartless Tory Government axed the Student Loan Remission Program, a program which actually helped some of the poorer students in this province. Now this Tory Government is proposing a "mini-me" version of the very program that it did away with, half the amount. As part of this government's $700 million pre-election spending spree, this minister announced a new $5.1 million loan remission program, which won't even take effect until later this year. My question, why doesn't this government care about struggling university students, and why won't this minister restore this program to what it was prior to gutting it in the year 2000?

[Page 653]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I thank the honourable member for the question. The facts are that this government has restored, to the universities, funding which that crowd, when they were in government, cut from universities, and that has gone to help students.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, the minister's response is nothing but typical Tory doublespeak, that's all it is. When the federal Millennium Scholarship Foundation began providing funding to Nova Scotia students, that Tory Government decided they would, rather than maintain a debt relief program, they'd rather hoard the money for themselves for their future election promises. That's what that government did. In fact, the foundation estimates that because of this action, the government saved at least $6 million, plus interest, over the last three years. That's money that they stole from the students in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member knows that's unparliamentary and I would ask him to retract that and to put the question, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I retract that comment. They took the money, they know they took the money and they picked the pockets of students in Nova Scotia.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, order please. Honourable member, retract that. One more unparliamentary question and I will move to the next speaker.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I will retract that comment.

MR. SPEAKER: The question only, please.

MR. WILSON: My question for the minister is, can the minister explain where the millions of dollars disappeared to, and can he tell the House today if any of the money went to perhaps some Tory projects in his riding?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, there is a university in my riding and part of the money that we restored to universities did go to that university and to all other universities.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, this government did, when they came to power, on this subject, was to stab the students in the back, in this province. That's what this government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please, order please. It's unparliamentary and I would ask the honourable member to take his seat. Next speaker.

[Page 654]

The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV.: REG. RES. SERVICES SOC. -

DEAL NEGOTIATE

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Community Services. We are one day past the strike deadline of the staff of the Regional Residential Services Society. This situation, which the minister has allowed to happen, has had an enormous impact on families with residents in these homes. Family members, many elderly, have been faced with the options of caring for their loved ones at home or allowing them to be moved into an institutional setting. I ask the Minister of Community Services, when will you exercise your authority to step in and ensure that a deal is worked out so that these workers aren't forced to take job action?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I want to assure the member opposite that as the minister responsible for the care of those residents that are served by Regional Residential Services Society, which is a non-profit volunteer board with some excellent staff, including the members of the NSGEU who are caring for those adults, that our primary focus in the government, of course, is for the care and the safety and the health of the residents, and that we look to the employer, which is RRSS, to negotiate with the union and bring this to a successful conclusion.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that technically he is the employer. He's the one with the bag of money that is passed over. The staff are caring and compassionate people. They do not want to withdraw their services, but they have no choice left. They are fighting to stop years of inequity between their salaries and those of workers doing the same job in institutional settings. Community Services is a primary funding source of RRSS, a primary funding source of RRSS. My question to the minister is, why won't the Minister of Community Services accept his responsibility to the residents of RRSS, their families and the people of this province?

MR. MORSE: I do want to thank the member opposite for the chance to stand up and just remind him and to assure Nova Scotians of this government's record in this regard. When we uploaded responsibility for all these group homes, small options homes and other community support facilities for adults, one of the first things we did is we focused on the care to the residents. What we did was we put in standards right across the province, and those standards required additional training and with that additional training came additional expectations. In some cases, because the wages were all over the place, some as low as $6 an hour, others higher, we moved them to $13.70 an hour. I would suggest that is a very substantial commitment to this sector.

[Page 655]

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the honourable minister that that was part of the service exchange program that was meted out by the municipalities and the province. Many residents of these homes have been placed at the Nova Scotia Hospital, where their caregivers are receiving $5 more an hour, because the care is delivered in an institutional setting, $5 more an hour because the care is delivered in an institutional setting. I ask the minister, why is his department willing to spend more money to care for these residents during job action than simply offer the RRSS staff a fair deal?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I'm a little surprised by the member's statement because, in fact, I was in Simpson Hall this morning to visit some of these residents. I'm not sure where he's coming up with the Nova Scotia Hospital, but it was at the nurses' residence, in Simpson Hall. I want to say that the care being provided to those residents is beyond question, not only the care provided by the people who are in there assisting through this difficult time but also by the members of the union who care for them. I think it is a great shame that the residents are being drawn into this. I think the residents and the families should be left out of this and this should be left between the union and the employer.

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH: CARE - PICTOU CO. FUND

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Mr. Premier, last November 28th, you said, in a speech to the Empire Club, that we in Nova Scotia have introduced stable, predictable funding for health care for the next three years; in other words, multi-year funding. Stable and predictable funding aren't words I would use to describe the Pictou County District Health Authority. My question to the Premier is, why would your government fail to honour a commitment you made by not ensuring stable, adequate and predictable funding for health care in Pictou County?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I will ask the Minister of Health to describe the three-year funding project that we have in place with the district health authorities.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, all district health authorities are receiving a 7 per cent increase this year, plus the money negotiated for salary increases.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will go directly to the Minister of Health. I'm not sure she's read her own estimates, she just made the statement that all district health authorities are receiving a 7 per cent increase. I'm not sure. That's news. Specifically, the cuts that this government have made to the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital . . .

[Page 656]

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Health. The cuts that your government has made to the Sutherland Harris Memorial Hospital has destabilized the system. Aberdeen Hospital was being forced to place a "no vacancy" sign on its door over a month ago. This is a further sign that the health care in that area is in chaos. I would like to table information to that effect. My question to the Premier if he chooses to answer, it's his area, or to the Minister of Health is, in light of increased health care costs, how does the Premier and his government expect the Pictou County District Health Authority to deal with the challenges associated with a "no vacancy" sign with less financial resources? This group has been cut by $77,000. They experienced an increase last year and a decrease this year.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what the question from the member for Dartmouth East allows me to say is that about a month ago there was an extraordinary demand on beds at the Aberdeen Hospital and because of the exemplary response of staff, no patient was disadvantaged. No patient who absolutely had to be admitted to hospital was refused treatment. Everyone was looked after well, even in these unusual circumstances.

DR. SMITH: We heard last night about emergency rooms closing in the Cape Breton region and now we have "no vacancy" signs in the Aberdeen. Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. In May 2001, this government committed itself to a fair funding formula based on unique needs relative to geographic area. You have "no vacancy" signs at a particular hospital, the Aberdeen, so it's obvious that the funding formula is being neither developed nor utilized by the Department of Health. Simply, my question, why did this government fail to honour the commitment of a fair and equitable funding formula, a commitment that was made to all district health authorities almost two years ago?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we have here is stable, predictable funding. As we promised, we have stable increases in the next three years. I know the former Minister of Health does not expect any system in government to run without its problems, but the situation with the DHAs is improving. Health care delivery is improving and the increases are stable. That is a considerable achievement and we are the only province in Canada to be doing that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

HEALTH: SARS CONCERNS - RECOMMENDATIONS

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Yesterday in my constituency there was an unfortunate situation where half the students of an elementary school stayed home because of a fear on the part of parents based solely on the fact that one young student had recently returned from China, and although she exhibited no

[Page 657]

symptoms of SARS - Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome - nevertheless half the children were kept home from school by their parents. It would be probably too easy to say the parents overreacted, but we have to keep in mind that in an environment of medical uncertainty and uncertainty about the causes and cures of SARS, we shouldn't rush to judge the actions of the parents. My question to the minister is simply this, if parents have a concern about SARS in their children's school, what steps does the minister recommend that the parents should take?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, that is indeed a very good question. What parents should do, they can do any number of things, they could call the toll-free hot line that we have available that is manned by medical professionals. The calls are not being referred to a call centre, so they will get an answer there. They could, again, write to our e-mail address which is public, or check the latest information on the Web site. The biggest thing they should do is not panic. The member is right, there is uncertainty and there is fear, but there is no need to be afraid of healthy children or healthy people who may have come from China or one of the hot spots in the world.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to turn to the Minister of Education, if I could. The school environment is a difficult one for this kind of disease because, of course, rumours can pass very quickly, and that appears to be what happened at Chebucto Heights, where, over the weekend, the rumours and the information, some of it good and some of it not so good, passed very quickly around the school community. So my question for the Minister of Education is, what information sources are available to parents, students, teachers and staff so they can arm themselves as quickly as possible with the best information possible?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question and, like the Minister of Health, I appreciate the tone and the manner in which he is asking the question, because it is a matter which requires appropriate responses in order to ensure that all who are affected by the rumours to which the honourable member references can in fact obtain adequate information. I can tell the member that the department has been in contact with all school boards in the province advising them of the information that is available through the Department of Health and the school boards are making themselves aware of that information and they are certainly encouraging all who are involved in the situation to remain in contact with the Department of Health to inform themselves of the latest information relative to all of this.

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

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

[Page 658]

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: It gives me pleasure to have the opportunity to speak for a few minutes going into Supply, and I want to speak briefly about the constituency that I now represent in this provincial Legislature, the constituency of Dartmouth North.

Under the electoral boundaries, the Dartmouth North constituency has expanded a bit in a southward direction and I want to welcome those new residents into the Dartmouth North constituency. The Dartmouth North constituency has always been a vibrant, diverse constituency, a constituency where many activities take place, both on the business, the private sector and the public sector - all which play an important role in the development of the Dartmouth North constituency.

I want to speak about one area in particular that almost every Nova Scotian has at least once visited, or at least knows of, and that's the Burnside industrial and business park. The Burnside industrial and business park is the largest industrial and business park east of Montreal. It represents some $39 million in real and business occupancy property tax to the Halifax Regional Municipality. Over and above that, I also want you to know that there are grants in lieu of for those corporations who don't pay property taxes, such as the Nova Scotia Power Corporation, the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, a world-renowned institute particularly around the dissolution of the cod industry. In fact, people were moved out of that industry and the tremendous amount of research and data went on in that particular area as well. Also there's a naval research establishment, there are some federal government facilities - all which add up to an additional $7 million to approximately $46 million in real and business property tax and grants going to the Halifax Regional Municipality.

When we talk about those numbers of dollars, then we can only imagine what kind of tax base the Burnside industrial and business park has with respect to the revenue coming into the public purse of the Province of Nova Scotia. I would only guess at this number being at least double, being somewhere around $96 million to $100 million coming in from the businesses and the business community of Dartmouth North.

The reason why I want to bring that to your attention is because most recently in the Speech from the Throne there was the announcement of the Capital Regional Transportation Authority. This new authority has not yet been defined as to how far its tentacles will reach

[Page 659]

out into the capital region; where and what its responsibilities are going to be; if, in fact, it's going to be responsible for providing roads and street networks throughout the Halifax Regional Municipality that have an impact on the outlying districts; if there will be the incorporation of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission; and if there will be a dissolution of the bridge commission.

When I look at the bridge commission and the important role that it plays within the Dartmouth area, particularly the constituency of Dartmouth North, as most of you will know, both links across the Halifax Harbour exist in the constituency of Dartmouth North. The Angus L. Macdonald Bridge and the A. Murray MacKay Bridge are both vital links across the Halifax Harbour and create gateways to the City of Dartmouth as well as to the City of Halifax.

[1:45 p.m.]

It's important to know whether the Capital District Transportation Authority will in fact play a vital role, and if there will be a dissolution of the bridge commission and how that will go about. I certainly hope that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is listening and that there is not a dissolution of the bridge commission, because the bridge commission plays a tremendous role in making sure the accesses to the bridges and the repairs and the stability of the bridges are in fact consistent year after year. I want to say that the bridge committee and the bridge commission itself have a tremendous responsibility in making sure that the bridges are maintained, both for Halifax and Dartmouth residents, and all Nova Scotians as a matter of fact, because that's the only gateway for most purposes, to get to Halifax and so on.

Mr. Speaker, when I say that, I also want to say that there is the potential of the connection of Burnside Drive through to Sackville, and there has always been talk about this, even when I served on the Dartmouth City Council. There has been talk with respect to the linking of Burnside Drive through to the Sackville Business Park. My hope is that the Capital District Transportation Authority will not make this a toll highway. I certainly hope that it recognizes the tremendous contribution that comes from the Dartmouth North community, particularly the Burnside Industrial Park. As you know, there are many Nova Scotians who go to work from all across this province - there are 1,100 companies in that park, employing some 17,000 people. They come from as far away as Truro, Pictou, Sheet Harbour, Windsor, everywhere, on a daily basis. If those individuals are expected to pay for a toll road to come to their place of employment, then I certainly think that that is the wrong action for this government to take.

I do endorse the Capital District Transportation Authority, I think that's a good move and it's a positive move by this government because I believe that this government plays a significant role, particularly in large municipalities on the delivery of transportation. They play a significant role. I remember, Mr. Speaker, when I was in Boston most recently, I saw

[Page 660]

that there was a Massachusetts Transportation Authority. They look after the entire state. Yet the towns and cities in that state are answerable to this comprehensive commission that deals with how the modes and types of transportation deliver services to people in that state.

The same thing I hope will come of this transportation authority, but I must say that I'm somewhat surprised that it's only happening in this capital region and it's not happening as well in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality. There are a lot of rural Nova Scotians who will have some concern with respect to what and how this is going to mete itself out, with respect to dollars and how those dollars are going to be channelled and if, in fact, rural Nova Scotia will lose, Nova Scotia will lose as a result of dollars being channelled into the capital regional authority.

However, having said that, Mr. Speaker, I want to say, and I would remind the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to be careful about tolling highways in the Burnside Industrial Park as a means of generating revenue sources to improve the transportation systems. I know some time back that we used to have what was called the Metropolitan Authority, and public transportation then was given a much greater role than it is now under the Halifax Regional Municipality. At that time, 40 per cent of what came through the fare boxes was paid for by the patrons or the users of public transit, the 60 per cent was divvied up between the province and the municipality, allowing for tremendous growth in public transportation.

Since the service exchange, that has not happened. Very little has happened with respect to improved public transportation in the Halifax regional area. As a matter of fact, in the Burnside Industrial Park, which I just recently talked about, to this very day there is very little public transportation based on the number of people who are employed there and the number of people who do business in that park. Hopefully the regional transportation authority will certainly have a look at all aspects of transportation and not just simply as a roads' issue as one would say or a streets' issue or a highways' issue, but simply look at the whole concept of public transportation, and how public transportation ought to be seen in the 21st Century.

I'm not only speaking about commuter rails, as the present Mayor of the Halifax Regional Municipality is talking about, using the CN rails to bring commuters in from Bedford and so on. I think that is only one part of the transportation policy. There needs to be an improvement in public transportation so that public transportation becomes king in this province, reducing the need for automobiles and having a significant positive impact upon the environment of this municipality. As you know, it's significantly important to realize that we have grown in leaps and bounds in this Halifax Regional Municipality. Most of the population is migrating to this area, and as a result, the population is now, I believe, in the HRM some 400,000 in population. That's very close to half a million in population. There needs to be a comprehensive transportation system and policy put in place.

[Page 661]

With that, Mr. Speaker, I would say to you that that is one of the most important areas that needs to be addressed. I hope the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, when the committee is actually formulated, brings forward to this council the makeup of the committee, what the role of the committee is and who's going to be a part of the committee. Also, my hope would be that this would not include the dissolution, once again, of the Halifax-Dartmouth Bridge Commission, because of the important role it plays.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that that is just one part of the Dartmouth North constituency that plays a significant and very important role in the Province of Nova Scotia. I also want to say that we have harbour-oriented activities and we have the Bedford Institute of Oceanography, we have the National Gypsum plant, which brings its rail and its gypsum in from central Nova Scotia, into the plant at Wright's Cove in Dartmouth. That is shipped off to some place in the United States, Youngtown, Virginia is one place I do believe, where it is manufactured and reproduced into gyproc and sent back to our homes. That's a natural resource that, in my opinion, is exploited. Every day I watch that go by. I'm just hoping that the Nova Scotia Government does something with respect to this natural resource and makes sure that it gets the value for its dollar.

The Bedford Institute of Oceanography, I've already spoken about this and its world-renowned work around the downturn in the codfishery industry. But that's not its only role, it plays a significant role in oceans across the world and has visited and done research and seismic testing in many of the oceans around this world, and with respect to ocean habitat around the world as well. It comes back with a wealth of information that is recognized, once again, internationally. For that I want to say that we are very pleased to see that its location is on the Bedford Basin, overlooking one of the most beautiful harbours and has access year-round to be able to move in and out.

I also want to make some comment, Mr. Speaker, with respect to - oh, I only have one minute left. That's too bad. I also wanted to make some comment with respect to the organizations in the constituency of Dartmouth North. Dartmouth North has the largest number of non-profit and charitable organizations in the area of all of HRM. (Interruptions) Even for Halifax Needham there may be a contest to that effect because of the similarities of the constituencies. I would tend to be a bit cautious and say we will balance that, that there are a large number of organizations.

Many of them contribute so greatly to the constituency of Dartmouth North. I just want to mention a few: District 9 Citizens Association; the Dartmouth North Community Centre; the District 9 Neighbourhood Watch; the Farrell Benevolent Society; the Dartmouth Boys and Girls Club; the Lancaster Ridge and Surrounding Residents Association; the Family Resource Centre; and the seniors' groups. I could go on and on, but my time has ended. Thank you. (Applause)

[Page 662]

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I wanted to speak on the motion to go into Supply today because a good piece of Tory literature arrived in my mailbox this morning and I wanted to react to it. This is not the original, this is a two-sided photostat copy, but the original was printed in Tory blue on white paper. The heading is, Lower Taxes and More Money for Health, Education, and Roads. (Applause) Well, you can see from that response that this is the message. That's the Tory message, accompanied by a cheque for $155. That's what the formula is.

I thought to myself, what does this compare to? I thought of various examples throughout history. I brought over my book, Every Man a King, by Huey P. Long, but I'm not going to compare this Premier to Huey P. Long because this was largely an imaginary scheme, a share-the-wealth plan that was never implemented. His goal was to run for president in place of FDR, or somehow to take the nomination away from FDR. Then he was assassinated by somebody who didn't pay his taxes and that brought the Long "kingdom" to an end - 1935. So we're not going to compare John Hamm to Huey Long today.

I then thought of Joe Smallwood and his first election in Newfoundland in 1949; that was quite an election, Mr. Speaker. The first election held in Newfoundland, after Newfoundland had joined Canada, was on May 27, 1949 - Newfoundland having joined Canada on April 1, 1949. Between those two dates of April 1, 1949 and May 27, 1949 a great deal changed in the Province of Newfoundland. We often think of Newfoundland having joined Canada as some kind of an abstraction, that the map went from 9 to 10, or the red portion of the map - when they used to use the old red colour indicating the British Empire - expanded, although Newfoundland had already been in the British Empire.

Anyway, Canada and Newfoundland joined on April 1, 1949 and thereby Canadian laws applied to Newfoundland, which they never had before. What was the effect of that between April 1st and May 27th? For veterans, it meant that the pensions that had previously been paid to them by the independent Dominion of Newfoundland rose from $18 every three months to $30 every month under the Dominion of Canada - an increase from $72 a year to $360 a year. That may not sound like big bucks today, but this was back in the times when a dollar was worth a dollar and not ten cents like today. That was big money for a veteran who never ever dreamed of receiving that prior to Newfoundland joining Canada.

By the end of April, the necessary calculations and entitlements had been done so the family allowance cheques were mailed to all eligible, for the first time in history, at an average payment of $16.38 a month or $200 a year - money that those people had never thought of receiving before. Real money. Cheques from the government. Cheques that don't bounce. They accepted the money in good faith and spent it. The first old age pension cheques appeared simultaneously. I only had an hour to do some research during Question Period because I wasn't on the list today to ask a question - I will get on that tomorrow - so I did

[Page 663]

some research during that time. I didn't have enough time to check the rate of the old age pension in 1949, the federal rate, but I know that in Newfoundland and prior to Confederation it was $25 once every three months to people over 70, but only to those over 70 who got on the list of people to be paid, and the way you got on the list was to be the first in the waiting lineup when somebody already on the pension died. Then you advanced and got the pension - $25 a month once every three months. When Newfoundland joined Canada, it became a monthly payment I believe of $45 a month, I may be wrong on that, and if it was $45 a month, it would be $540 a year, payable at age 70, I admit, not 65 like it is now, payable at 70, but to every Newfoundlander, rich or poor, who was 70 years of age or more and they got that cheque in the mail every month thereafter, the same mail formula these Tories are planning on using in a month or so.

[2:00 p.m.]

Now, after all those cheques flowed, what else happened? Well, the honourable Paul Martin, Sr. was brought to Newfoundland to campaign and was widely introduced as the father of family allowances, also the father of old age pensions, lest people forget, and in every fishing village and in every town and village he was introduced in that capacity along with Premier Joseph Smallwood who, if one was the father of family allowances, the other allowed himself the role of perhaps being the assistant father of family allowances, the second in command. The two of them together had delivered. Actually the campaign slogan in that election was, "Let Joe Finish The Job", let Joe, singular, finish the job of getting more of these benefits and lest anyone forget, prior to the voting, the tobacco prices throughout the island were lowered appreciably so that all those who smoked or chewed payed less. They got more for their pocket, but they paid less at the store to buy their favourite smoke or their favourite chew. So that was the formula. (Interruption)

What were the results of the election, old chum? The results of the election were that the Liberals elected 21 seats out of 28 and got 65 per cent of the vote. Now, that was a considerably higher percentage of the vote than Confederation had won in the referendums that were held on the question of should Newfoundland join Canada because there were two of them and in the second one, the yes side did win, but it was only by a very small margin, about 51 per cent to 49 per cent - 2 per cent. Actually it was Jack Pickersgill, who was then Clerk of the Privy Council, who remarked to Prime Minister Mackenzie King at that time, that actually the majority by which Confederation had won in Newfoundland was greater than the Prime Minister had won in his own riding in the last election and that convinced Mackenzie King that probably it had credibility, should be accepted, and he agreed to allow Newfoundland to join Canada. But when the election was held later on, the Liberals won with 65 per cent of the vote meaning the 14 per cent who had voted against Confederation voted Liberal in the subsequent provincial election.

AN HON. MEMBER: What was the reason for that?

[Page 664]

MR. MACEWAN: What was the reason for that? Oh, my good friend to my left, he always keeps me on the right track. Well, the reason for that I probably just outlined, but anyway shortly after that there was a federal election held and the results in Newfoundland on the federal election of June 27th, one month after the provincial election, the results were five seats out of seven went Liberal in Newfoundland.

Now, I have no doubt that my good friend, the Premier, is aware of the history of Newfoundland. He probably studies it the way I do to get good ideas, but the problem is that what he's doing and what Joe Smallwood did in Newfoundland are two very different things because Joe Smallwood delivered the goods to the people. This crowd is delivering - well, I'm not allowed to say many unparliamentary words that I know you would be listening to, Mr. Speaker, but delivering - that which is not real. How's that as a parliamentary term? Delivering that which is not real. A $155 payment in the mail is impressive and if the Premier wants to send me such a cheque in the mail, I will take it. I don't think there's anybody in this House, not even the member for Timberlea-Prospect, who will send the cheque back. He might give it to foreign missions, but he might put it in his own pocket which most people will, most people will, but at the same time as they're doing that, they're plunging the province deeper and deeper into debt. They are planning an outpouring of public spending.

Let me tell you about the flood, Mr. Speaker - I'm not talking about Noah's Flood, I'm talking about John's flood - the costs of paying for John's recent flood will be greater than the amount by which they say the province is in the surplus this year. The flood has wiped out their surplus; it has flooded it out. It has put them back into a deficit if they do what they say they're going to do. I'm combining two elements to say that: I'm talking about homeowner compensation, people whose basements have been flooded and everything down there ruined; and repair to the highways and bridges of the public transportation system. Put those two together and you get a much bigger number - no matter what arithmetic you use, even the new math - than the Minister of Finance uses in projecting what he says the increase in the surplus is.

According to this chart, it shows an increase in surplus of $8.5 million - is that right? I can't read that. What's that number down there, $8.5 million ? Yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: You need new glasses.

MR. MACEWAN: I need new glasses, I agree. Well, the costs of fighting the flood are about $12 million. Now 12 minus 8 is minus 4.

AN HON. MEMBER: No, it's four, not minus four.

[Page 665]

MR. MACEWAN: Well, I can't read the fine print in there. You see it's designed so that the average person can't read it, Mr. Speaker. It's designed just with a bar graph, so you get the picture of increases in the surplus but you can't read the little number at the bottom showing what they say it is because it's not very big.

AN HON. MEMBER: Oh, is that the brochure that came in the mail today?

MR. MACEWAN: That's the one I have here. Yes, in royal blue.

AN HON. MEMBER: I just received a call about it.

MR. MACEWAN: You just received a call. When you get home tonight, it will be in your mailbox, that's where you will find it. Now this piece of Tory propaganda is Tory propaganda. It's not non-partisan, objective, actuarial, or analytical, or an editorial analysis of the public finances of the province. It's their own story, patting themselves on the chest and saying, how good we are, how great we are.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table it.

MR. MACEWAN: Table it. Very well, let it be tabled, front and back. This is being paid for the government through the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia, I'm told.

AN HON. MEMBER: Table that one too.

MR. MACEWAN: I just tabled it. No, it doesn't say Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia at all, it says: Nova Scotia Let's Keep Growing, www.gov.ns.ca/finance. So this Tory propaganda is put out by the Minister of Finance. He raises his hand to say oui, yes. Well done. On the front part it says the same Web site again, and then Nova Scotia with a little cross of Saint Andrew overhead, not backwards or forwards, I trust.

AN HON. MEMBER: Maybe the Speaker will rule on that one, Paul.

MR. MACEWAN: Maybe the Speaker could rule on whether this is appropriate use of public funds, just on the brink of a provincial election. Lower Taxes for a Stronger Economy it says. Nova Scotia: Let's Keep Growing. I bet you, Mr. Speaker, you will see those words over and over in the ensuing weeks that lie ahead, yes.

AN HON. MEMBER: Joey Smallwood wouldn't do that.

MR. MACEWAN: No, Joey Smallwood wouldn't do that at all. Joey would deliver the goods and then let the people vote accordingly.

[Page 666]

Well, I don't know how much time I have left, because I'm just starting to get warmed up. I think I started at 1:56 p.m. Have we got two or three minutes left? Perhaps.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member has approximately two minutes.

MR. MACEWAN: Two minutes, well that's just hardly enough to get warmed up. I wanted to say that in my resolution earlier today, incorporating various languages, I mentioned that the appropriate response in any language you care to name is no, thank you, to the Conservative . . .

AN. HON. MEMBER: It's Polish.

MR. MACEWAN: Nie, Dzienkuje. It's Polish.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I have two speakers here to my right and to my left, but I will focus this a way, if I might.

I just want to say that that is the response that we hope to encourage people to adopt in the days and weeks that may lie ahead in this abbreviated session of the House, because this is probably our last chance to hold them up to scrutiny and let them produce the pudding, let them produce the pie and demonstrate where their mathematics is superior to old-style arithmetic consisting of addition and subtraction, and subtracting the costs of fighting the flood from the surplus that they have announced and seeing what remains. The answer is a deficit remains, a deficit that will probably grow larger as the flood damage is more and more costed out and the final tally made of what it will take to bring back our roads, our bridges, and our homes to the condition that existed prior to the recent flood. I thank you.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I am very pleased to participate in this debate going into Supply here this afternoon and, again, quite honoured to follow the veteran and venerable member for Cape Breton Nova. However, I will say that usually I find he is quite comprehensive in his presentations and discourses here in the Legislature, however, today I'm not quite sure just what he was talking about. I know that he is very well aware himself as to what he was speaking about. (Interruption) My colleague to the left, figuratively speaking, suggests he was talking about Newfoundland.

Nonetheless, I would like to talk a little bit today about the flood that happened during the last weekend in March. A lot of people would concur that March in fact did go out like a lion. The constituency of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley received considerable damage as a consequence of the flood. There were a number of bridges that were, quite frankly, ruined as a result of the flood. The residents and motorists and of course the truckers that travel Nova

[Page 667]

Scotia's highways and byways in the ridings that were flooded had to put up with quite a bit of inconvenience. I'm very grateful that the riding of Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley did not experience any loss of life or limb. I think that is a tribute not only to the residents in the riding but to other Nova Scotians that were visiting Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, and also a tribute to the first responders.

The Upper Stewiacke Volunteer Fire Department, for example, and our very own Department of Transportation and Public Works in Upper Stewiacke at the base there and at the base in Brookfield and at the base in Middle Musquodoboit. The Department of Transportation employees and the operation supervisors, the area managers and our district directors, Jim Talbot and Peter Merritt worked extremely hard to make the inconvenience more tolerable for the residents and I'm absolutely delighted and I tip my hat to the Department of Transportation employees and those individuals that were in a supervisory capacity.

Not too long ago at the Middle Musquodoboit base, the operational supervisor, Gerard Chisholm, as did the area manager, Dave Van Slyke, invited me to drop by for an employee appreciation day. I'd like to tell all members in the House I had an opportunity to address the workers and state how pleased I was that they worked so diligently and without second thought about responding when they received calls at all hours of the day and night, seven days a week. We're very blessed in this province all over to have such a responsible Department of Transportation and Public Works workforce. I will tip my hat to the member for Hants West and of course, to the member for Lunenburg who worked very closely hand in glove with the employees.

In the Upper Stewiacke area just this past Friday, April 4th, the Premier and a delegation from his office were kind enough to come up to the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley and visit some of the devastation and ruin that actually took place as a consequence of the storm at the end of March. Some of the businesses in the area have been greatly handcuffed as a result of the storm, including the largest sawmill in the Province of Nova Scotia - MacTara. With some 300 direct jobs, MacTara was, in fact, very, very concerned about their ability to sustain during the flood, the immediate aftermath at least of the flood. Through the hard work of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, the minister, the Honourable Michael Baker, and the Minister of Emergency Measures Organization, the Honourable Timothy Olive and, of course, the Premier, we were able to make arrangements to see a bridge replaced that will enable MacTara, Mosher Limestone, Atlantic Explosives, Taylor Lumber and some of the businesses that provide much-needed jobs in the Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, we were able to have arrangements made to see that those businesses can sustain. Of course, it is the businesses in Nova Scotia that pay the payroll taxes and help with health, education, transportation and community services right across the whole gamut.

[Page 668]

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, it's the businesses in Nova Scotia that help provide those services and I think sometimes it takes an unfortunate event to make people step back and realize how blessed we are in Nova Scotia and how blessed we are to have so many bona fide employers and employees. We never must forget the employees.

Some of the roads, and they may not be familiar to members in the Legislature, but some of the 200-Series and 300-Series Highways that were impacted in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley were, for example, Route 236. Now, Route 236, the member for Cape Breton Nova may know because he follows the geography pretty closely in the province, but Route 236 essentially runs from Lower Truro right over to the Green Oaks Bridge and it meets up with the 289 at the junction in Pleasant Valley. Well, Lower Truro, of course, was greatly flooded and, as a consequence, motorists and residents couldn't travel between Truro and Lower Truro, Old Barns, Green Oaks and Ryans Creek and so on. (Interruption) Yes, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was there and claims he saw the lineups.

On Route 357, which runs between Middle Musquodoboit and Musquodoboit Harbour, a couple places were flooded and for two or three days people who travel along that highway had to do some detouring and things of that nature. On Route 224 another bridge, a nice two-lane bridge, was completely destroyed between the Moose River Road and Middle Musquodoboit and that's a distance of about seven miles. It happened in the small community of Elmsvale, not to be confused with Elmsdale. I know the honourable member for Hants East would not want that confusion to exist and I certainly don't, but it was Elmsvale. It's right close to the Moose River Gold Mines Road. That bridge is out, but I've learned today that as a result of all the government departments, Emergency Measures, and the local people really co-operating and the residents are putting up with some inconvenience because there are approaches going across, you may say some of their properties, both east and west - the people have been very supportive of a temporary bridge going in so traffic can commute back and forth on Route 224.

Likewise, in the Upper Stewiacke area, once the bridge is put in in Springside, it will enable traffic that's going from MacTara to Kimberly-Clark, for example. Kimberly-Clark gets approximately 35 per cent or 40 per cent of their wood chips from the largest sawmill in the province, MacTara. Well, this will enable MacTara to ship their wood chips up Route 336, across the new portable bridge that will handle commercial traffic, onto Route 289, and up through Pictou, up through the Pictou West riding onto Kimberly-Clark and the Abercrombie.

So we're very pleased to see that this government and the people responded in such a positive way and extremely delighted that the Premier took time out of his very busy schedule to come up and check things out and get a real bird's-eye view, so to speak, a first-hand experience and knowledge. The folks were quite traumatized in the Upper Stewiacke area, so we're very pleased that the Premier came out, very pleased with the response, and

[Page 669]

although there was disaster and ruin, I would have to say in Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, I am particularly pleased with the efforts that all appropriate people and agencies have made to somehow remediate the situation. So we're very, very pleased.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to speak also a little bit about a couple of communities in the member for Cumberland South's riding, and that would be Oxford and Advocate. I understand that the member for Cumberland South is absolutely delighted that all the first responders in Cumberland South, all those appropriately responded and really went over and above and beyond what is the call of duty to bring Oxford and Advocate back into some semblance of order. I think most people in this house would recognize that the good member for Cumberland South, the Speaker, was probably behind the scenes and encouraging those appropriate to do the right thing, because as MLAs in this House, irrespective of political stripe, I think we're all here for the same thing and that is to serve our constituents to the best of our ability.

Some of my proudest moments, my most honoured moments are to be able to achieve things on behalf of my constituents. I know that other members - in fact, the member for Halifax Fairview explained yesterday that some of his major accomplishments as an MLA happened right in the riding, right in the physical riding. The Speaker also advised me by way of a third party that the Honourable Timothy Olive, the Minister responsible for EMO, also visited the Oxford and Cumberland County areas. I know the Speaker is absolutely delighted that the minister took time out of his busy schedule to visit those areas.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to shift gears a little bit, so to speak, and speak a little bit about the federal Firearms Act. I want to begin by commending the honourable member for Truro-Bible Hill, the Minister of Justice in this province and, again, the very busy member for Cumberland South, the Speaker, and the good member for the Eastern Shore. All members in the House should know that those three members of the Nova Scotia Legislature, just Monday past, took time out of their busy schedules to travel to Ottawa and state their position to the Solicitor General in this country, Wayne Easter, that is that they are very much opposed to the long gun registration component of the gun registry.

Now, Mr. Speaker, I know you're not allowed and, of course, you know more so than most that you can't acknowledge the presence or absence of members in the House, but interestingly enough last Wednesday evening during debate on the gun registry, the $1 billion boondoggle, I will say that one of the caucuses - see, it says individual members - was not present for that debate. Now we submitted a resolution in this Chamber about a $1 billion boondoggle and I would say that honourable members can draw their own conclusions as to who was here and who wasn't here, and I won't get into members and I promise the Speaker I won't, but the fact of the matter is my, my, they should be ashamed of themselves that nobody in that caucus could stand and defend a $1 billion boondoggle.

[Page 670]

Mr. Speaker, just last week I had a senior citizen from Middle Stewiacke call me. She said, Brooke, look, I have three rifles, three long guns. I've never used them, they're heirlooms. There's a 45-70, there's a 12-gauge shotgun, and a single-shot.22. I can't find the serial numbers on those firearms, they were my late husband's and they were passed on to my late husband from his father, and I would like to register those firearms. That's a shame that the Liberal caucus cannot defend such things that have been imposed, such measures that have been imposed on the citizenry of Nova Scotia. It's all Nova Scotia, it's not just rural Nova Scotia, it's urban areas, it's suburban areas, and it's really very disappointing. To add insult to injury and to put salt on the wound, just a couple of weeks ago - Mr. Speaker, are you sure?

Just a week or so ago, once again, because Prime Minister Jean Chretien intimidated his whole cast, they voted once again to approve, with the support of the Bloc Quebecois, and we know what their agenda is, another $72 million expenditure. Say it isn't so. Somebody stand. I will yield my time, and I have lots of it left. I will my yield my time to a member in the Liberal caucus to stand (Interruptions) Because it was $59 million, yes. It may have been $59 million, but I know that yourself and the member for the Eastern Shore and the Minister of Justice went to Ottawa to present Nova Scotia's case. Do you know why? They say it's a federal issue.

Do you know why they're saying that, because they haven't got the courage, the intestinal fortitude or the guts to stand up in their place and say, look, I absolutely object to this federal Firearms Act. Why won't they stand up for Nova Scotians when they know something is wrong? Why won't you stand up on behalf of the Nova Scotians, on behalf of the constituencies? Mr. Speaker, it's just disgraceful that you won't even stay around for debate.

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

The motion is carried.

[2:26 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Acting Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[5:59 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, resumed the Chair.]

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

THE CLERK: That the committee has met, made progress and begs leave to sit again.

[Page 671]

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

The honourable Government House Leader.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to meet again tomorrow. Tomorrow being Opposition Day, the Leader of the Third Party, I'm sure, has the business of the day for us for tomorrow.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party, on the House hours and business for tomorrow.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, our business tomorrow, we will be calling Resolution No. 26 and Resolution No. 417. The House will sit from 2:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is 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.

[6:00 p.m.]

The motion is carried.

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

[Therefore be it resolved that the Tory long-term care fix is a pre-election check list item designed to win votes rather than a concrete plan to eliminate the health care costs of nursing care.]

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ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

HEALTH: LONG-TERM CARE FIX-VOTE -WINNER

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on this particular resolution that we have before the House here this evening. Obviously, it's in part, a response to the announcement that was made by the minister in the last several days with regard to nursing home costs and how the government purports to deal with the ever-increasing burden on government as it pertains to nursing home costs.

The Minister of Health, Mr. Speaker, has laid out what is generally considered to be a four-year plan whereby the government would assume 100 per cent of the health care cost component for seniors living in nursing homes. At the outset, one would think that that was a fairly good plan to have, but the reality is when you look at the detail of what the minister has proposed, we find that there is substantively little detail for us to determine as to whether we are going to be receiving good value for the taxpayers' dollars, whether seniors will, in fact, benefit at the end of the day, and whether all those individual Nova Scotians who will some day find themselves entering into a nursing home will be protected as the government says it will protect one from the taking of their assets and resources they've spent their entire lives saving for.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated what she plans to do is going from an asset-based approach to a revenue-based, an income-based. That eventually will cost the government perhaps an extra $5 million over and above what the government has indicated it would cost by assuming the entire costs which they've estimated at around $35 million. So that additional $5 million would be put on top of that, which would bring it up to around $40 million by switching from the asset-based to the income-based. But the minister has laid out a four-year plan which the government hasn't really adopted and cannot adopt unless it does through a budgetary process, and you can't, Mr. Speaker, determine what the budget is going to be in two and three years because we don't know what the demands on government for revenue or expenses are going to be - and the minister conceded that during the estimates today.

So this could be very well - as we suspect - pre-election talk put forth by the minister to appease many of the concerns that were raised by members of the Liberal caucus and, indeed, members of the NDP caucus.

[Page 673]

Mr. Speaker, the generality upon which the minister has introduced this particular proposal speaks to itself. Number one, if the minister is serious about doing something about this issue, she would introduce the legislation that would enshrine that proposal so that the seniors of Nova Scotia and the taxpayers of Nova Scotia, who will be directly affected by this, will take some comfort and by not only having the legislation, we would have the regulations in place so as to be able to deal with this.

There's another factor, Mr. Speaker, and that is with regard to the Department of Community Services or indeed the issue that the minister conceded to in the last day or so, and that's the fact that they are only spending $2 million out of $11 million on housing in Nova Scotia that was supplied by the federal government.

Mr. Speaker, what's the government doing? Are they sitting on this $11 million in anticipation that perhaps they will go to the seniors over this four-year period and they will say, okay, we're going to establish an in-home support program, we're going to help seniors in many of the older homes - where it would be a two-storey home where the bathroom would be upstairs and the senior would have great difficulty in going up and down. So we're going to provide a housing grant of $3,000 or $4,000 whereby a senior could readjust the design of his or her home so that the washroom facilities would be on the first floor.

There's an excellent opportunity, Mr. Speaker, for the government to do something and there would be thousands of Nova Scotians from one community to the next, whether it be in Cumberland County, Cape Breton County, or Yarmouth, or indeed here in Halifax. In rural Nova Scotia, seniors have it particularly hard and the government knows this. Why is it sitting on this $9 million? Is it attempting to divert it into another department, or is it, in fact, just sitting on it for political gain in hopes of securing some support from the seniors?

Another issue, Mr. Speaker, is the fact that the minister responsible for this particular issue, the Minister of Health, is indeed putting these generalities out at a time when the NDP have been pushing the government through the media and going from town hall to town hall saying this is what we're going to do, we're going to pay 100 per cent of the costs. Of course, that came after considerable persuasion from the seniors - and there was pressure in all three caucuses, let's not be naive to that fact. When the NDP started going around the province, at no point in time did they say that they were going to cover 100 per cent of the cost when they started, only when the seniors started to demand, what are you going to do? I recall one meeting that the Leader of the socialist Party attended in New Waterford and the seniors asked for clarification as to what he was going to do . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: And we told them.

MR. MACKINNON: And they did not. I had seniors from my constituency attend that meeting, Mr. Speaker, and despite the ranting and the raving of the socialists, they would not say what they were going to do. It was only after they were put on the mat. (Interruptions)

[Page 674]

Well, Mr. Speaker, if the member who's doing the catcalling over in the corner would only reflect on how we arrived at the situation we are in today, he will find there were more socialist municipal politicians that put this policy in place under the old system, that was eventually transferred over to Community Services, which was eventually transferred over to the Department of Health, and then he would understand that many of the socialists in the NDP caucus voted for what's now law today. So that type of hypocrisy will not wash, I can assure you that the people of Nova Scotia will not be fooled.

Now, let's look at the situation, Mr. Speaker. We indicated quite clearly that we would cover 100 per cent of the health care component for seniors attending in nursing homes. We didn't say we were going to wait four years, like the government, after two elections would pass. We said we would do it immediately upon election. The socialists can promise all they want, they know they will never be in government. Let's be realistic. They never have and they never will be and that's the reality here in Nova Scotia. It's like the Bloc Québécois. They never will govern Canada. It's not their . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Lot in life.

MR. MACKINNON: It's not their "block" in life, that's true. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise this evening to speak on the issue of the cost of long-term care. I think it's very important that people understand that yesterday our government made another very significant announcement for the residents of long-term care facilities and their families. The announcement was about making nursing homes more affordable. As a result of yesterday's announcement, residents will pay less towards their nursing home care costs each year until, in four years' time, they will pay just the hotel costs. (Interruptions) That's room and board for those people who don't know what that means. Perhaps even more significantly, when that time comes, the residents in long-term care facilities in Nova Scotia will be the only residents in those facilities in Atlantic Canada who will be using cash flow when their financial contribution is being calculated.

It's important to know that despite the significance of yesterday's announcement, it was simply another step in an overall plan that began when we assumed office three and a half years ago. Our commitment to seniors and residents of nursing homes began in 1999 and I must say while one Party seems focused simply on affordability, the approach that our government has taken has been founded on three principles: first of all is quality; second is access; and the third is affordability.

Let me begin with quality. Between 1999 and 2002 the long-term care budget in this province increased by $56 million. This is enabling homes to spend in ways that enhance the quality of care. For example, we've had more than 100 capital projects and have purchased

[Page 675]

patient care equipment such as tubs and lifts. Between 1999 and 2002 the home care budget increased by almost $35 million. Again, that allowed us as government to expand and improve services that enabled people who needed help to maintain their independence as long as possible. In this budget year, again, we see increases in both long-term care and home care.

It's about more than simply adding money. The document recently released, Your Health Matters, talks about additional consultation that will lead to a broader range and improved quality of services for our seniors and other residents of long-term care facilities. We know that our population is aging, that more of our citizens are going to require more high-quality services. We generally categorize these as seniors' services; innovative quality programs and services from home care to assisted living to boarding homes and finally, to nursing homes. Those additional consultations will begin this Fall.

Accessibility is another area where we have seen considerable progress. As a result of the single entry access, need, not the ability to pay, determines who is first in line for a nursing home bed. Wait lists have been shortened by 23 per cent overall and in some places even more. Seniors or their family members can make one toll-free call and be linked with health professionals who can help them identify their care needs and suggest how they can access needed services. This year the wait list for home care will be eliminated. Additionally, the tax credit for family caregivers has been increased.

As I said, we are providing more service and better access to those services and things will get even better in the weeks and months ahead. Looking at affordability: November 2002 government significantly expanded the list of assets that would not be used to determine how much a person contributed to the care in the long-term care facility. The budget which was introduced last week included $8.5 million to cover these asset protections and also to begin reducing the daily rate that residents pay.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, effective immediately, residents will pay $12.75 less a day which if you multiply that by 365 days comes up to more than $4,600 annually, or slightly less than the cost of one month's care. As a government, we have committed that residents of financial means will continue to pay less and less until they eventually pay only for their room and board. Next year our government will double the $8.5 million to bring the budget line for that item to $17 million. That will reduce each private pay resident's annual contribution by almost $12,000. Again, that's almost $12,000 some residents will not have to pay.

As I've indicated, that annual saving will continue to go up each year until residents are charged room and board costs only. Government will get to that point no later than April 1, 2007. This represents an annual commitment of approximately $35 million, but we are also taking an extra step. We will spend approximately $5 million more each year to stop assessing

[Page 676]

assets when we determine the ability of a person to pay. In other words, only cash flow or income will be considered.

Staff spent considerable time looking at a range of options. The principle of considering income only has been a government goal for four years. If you want to see that, you will recall our recent submission to the Romanow Commission, which laid that out in some detail. That's the practice in Ontario and out West. I'm glad that we are on that road now to offer the same type of benefit to Nova Scotians. I wish we could get to that point in the road more quickly. As I said, the latest we will get there is April 1, 2007, and indeed if the province is fortunate enough to have some windfall, it's likely that that date will be advanced but, to be honest, that can't be guaranteed.

As a government, it's important to balance investments. There have been $33 million added for seniors' programs this year. That money has had to be distributed among a lot of programs, including not only residential care but Pharmacare and home care. Every person, every Nova Scotian is important to this government. Affordability for Nova Scotians who need nursing home care is critical. But it's important, Mr. Speaker, to remember that only 3 per cent of people over the age of 65 are in nursing homes. That means that 97 per cent of those seniors are not in nursing homes, and they have to be considered as well, as we spend $135 million for the health care costs of the 80 per cent of seniors who are in homes, subsidized by taxpayers. That's right, 80 per cent of the people who are in homes have their costs subsidized by the taxpayers, this year to the tune of $135 million.

Of course, Mr. Speaker, of the 20 per cent remaining, we want, and we will take over their health care costs, but we have to balance that commitment with the commitments to other important programs for seniors. You have to balance affordability with quality and accessibility, and those have been the principles upon which this government has acted for the last three and a half years and we will continue to do so in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, who was that masked man who just spoke? It sort of reminded me a little bit of the former failed Minister of Health, who stood in his place in this Legislature last year in March following a public meeting at the Northwood Manor that I attended, sponsored by the Northwood Family Council, on this very issue, and that Minister of Health at that time basically said his government had no time for this issue whatsoever, that seniors were just putting their hands out, looking for a handout. I wish I had the transcript from that exchange between he and I in the House the next day because, frankly, I've never been so angry in all my life, on the floor of this Legislature, listening to what that minister at that time had to say.

[Page 677]

Did he say anything about his government having the objective of reviewing the financial assessment process for long-term care and moving to what he's calling an income-only policy? He did not, Mr. Speaker, and do you why he did not say that? Because it hadn't occurred to this government, it wasn't on their radar, and it wasn't there until seniors and other groups, including the members of this caucus and the Leader of the Official Opposition, put it on the radar and forced this government to actually start taking what I would characterize as only baby steps - not steps, baby steps - to rectify the situation.

Mr. Speaker, I want to read you a little piece that was in The Chronicle-Herald on Monday, March 24th, just a few weeks ago. This was shortly after the minister released her glossy brochure on the so-called health plan for the Hamm Government. At the end of this editorial in the Herald it says: One of the Hamm Government's biggest headaches in health and one where people aren't content with a no-money answer is assessing seniors in nursing homes for a share of their health-related costs. Exempting more assets from the net has reduced some of the heat, but rules governing what is exempt and what is not are still not fair or logical and the issue remains a ticking bomb. Miss Purves says there will soon be more steps to reduce what seniors pay, a very practical matter for a government soon to face the polls.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday's announcement, just days after this editorial, is baby steps to deal with a situation that this government knows they would be confronted with, and I suggest will still be confronted with when they go to the polls. Who do they think they're kidding, announcing that by the year 2007, four years from now, this matter will be addressed. There will be a lot of water under the bridge for a lot of people in this province, including for many members on that side of the House, between now and 2007. I don't think people are fooled one little bit by this.

Mr. Speaker, I want to make it very clear on the record where the hard work has been done to make this issue a very important issue for all of the Parties in this House. I want to acknowledge the work of Maxine Barrett in the Annapolis Valley, with the caregivers group, who has worked really hard to bring this to the attention of people who are elected to represent Nova Scotians. I want to commend the Northwood Family Council and other seniors, including the Canadian Association of Retired Persons, CARP. I want to acknowledge the research that was done under the sponsorship of the Atlantic Centre of Excellence for Women's Health, and a Ph.D. student over at Dalhousie who did a lot of research, looking at comparing what went on in other provinces. I think that the member from the Third Party when he spoke said that the NDP caucus themselves had to be pressured into taking this issue up. There is nothing further from the truth. We worked with many, many seniors' groups that . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. If we're talking about a measure of integrity, perhaps the honourable member for Halifax Needham will reflect back when the nursing home workers were on strike and she and her colleague, the

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member for Cape Breton Centre, attended at that nursing home - Northwood Manor - and when they couldn't get in with the cameras, into the individual home units of these seniors, they refused to meet with the administration and the staff that were working there at the time. They left because they couldn't capitalize from the . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. It's a dispute between members of the facts. The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: It's not a point of order, Mr. Speaker, but it's a complete figment of that member's imagination. This certainly never did occur, but I'm not going to spend my time responding to the lunacy of the member.

The seniors who have worked very hard on this issue need to be listened to, they need to be responded to, they need to be heard and they need to be supported in seeing changes to the public policy that is necessary.

The measures that were announced yesterday by the government go nowhere to addressing the numerous seniors who are currently in nursing homes that are seeing their resources depleted as we speak. In addition to that, there will be at least 6,000 more seniors who will be in this very same situation, and their families, between now and 2007. Surely, this is not a reasonable response to the thousands and thousands of people who signed the petition that we were circulating and brought to this Legislature asking for some immediate response to change a situation that was unfair, is widely acknowledged by all members of all Parties that it is unfair and that requires immediate attention - not attention in 2007.

We have tabled here on the floor of the Legislature documents that we received from the Department of Health that demonstrate that the small changes that were made by the government back in November were made more for administrative convenience of the care coordinators and the assessors than they really were to provide relief to the seniors themselves. With the financial picture that this government has painted in terms of the revenue that they have available to throw around, surely, seniors in need of health care in nursing home facilities could have been afforded a greater priority than what they received.

Once again, these people have been told that they must wait and that this government has no difficulty in making them wait for four more years to have this issue addressed. Sadly, some of those seniors will not be around to have the benefit of this change in policy. That really is not only an unfortunate situation but it's certainly not a fair situation at all for those seniors.

I think that people in this province will see the minister's announcement yesterday as a cynical and sort of a - well, I don't know if crass is an unparliamentary word, Mr. Speaker, but if it is I'll withdraw it. But it is a crass kind of approach to dealing with a very serious issue.

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MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired for this evening's debate. I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part. We're adjourned until 2:00 p.m. tomorrow.

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

[Page 680]

NOTICES OF MOTIONUNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 476

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas two Search and Rescue technicians rescued a 54-year-old crewman of the Ocean Lady which was situated 180 kilometres off the Nova Scotia coast; and

Whereas the SAR-techs had to parachute out of a Hercules aircraft into the open ocean in order to reach the Ocean Lady; and

Whereas they were able to stabilize the man until a Labrador helicopter arrived on the scene and then accompanied the crewman to the Yarmouth hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House commend the efforts of these two brave men and also extend our thanks to all Search and Rescue technicians who save lives daily even when it sometimes means putting their own on the line.

RESOLUTION NO. 477

By: Mr. Ronald Chisholm (Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury)

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

Whereas Canada's National Research Council annually recognizes the country's most successful researchers and innovators at the Outstanding Achievement Awards ceremony; and

Whereas this year Nova Scotia's own Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. was named Canadian Innovation Leader awarded to those making extraordinary efforts to further research, development and the commercialization of knowledge in the private sector; and

Whereas built around marine biotechnology and life-sciences research, ONC supplies marine-based dietary supplements and functional food ingredients to pharmaceutical and food companies all over the world;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Ocean Nutrition Canada Ltd. on the receipt of this award from Canada's National Research Council and wish its staff continued success in their future endeavours.

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RESOLUTION NO. 478

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 in December the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation held its ninth annual Festival of Lights Campaign to raise money for emergency care medical equipment; and

Whereas during the one-night fundraiser, attended by more than 450 foundation supporters, the organization not only met but exceeded its goal by over $20,000, reaching a total of approximately $80,000 for the work of the hospital; and

Whereas in 17 years the foundation has raised more than $13 million for the Valley Regional and other health programs in the area;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House applaud the tremendous efforts of the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation members for their contribution to their community and also wish the Festival of Lights Campaign continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 479

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the Memory Lane Heritage Museum operated by the Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society along the Eastern Shore, transports visitors back in time to what life was like in the 1940s in rural Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Heritage Society Chairman Gordon Hammond says the museum displays cabinets with industrial CD players stored inside where interviews with those who taught and worked in the area back in the 1940s can be heard; and

Whereas the interviews for the displays were compiled by Rita McKeough, a resident of the Lake Charlotte area and an instructor at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature congratulate the Lake Charlotte Area Heritage Society for their perseverance and hard work in helping to maintain and promote an historical perspective of their local area.

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RESOLUTION NO. 480

By: Mr. Barry Barnet (Sackville-Beaver Bank)

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

Whereas A.C. Dispensing owner and 1999's Entrepreneur of the Year Michael Duck recently purchased the table used by the world's most powerful Leaders during the Halifax G-7 Summit for his company's manufacturing plant boardroom; and

Whereas some say Mr. Duck invested in the table for its residual inspiration but he's doing just fine as it is, supplying all Tim Hortons across Canada and the United States with his unique dispensing system; and

Whereas Mr. Duck, whose dream began in the garage of his Sackville home in 1985, now employs nearly 100 people and despite options to move his business elsewhere has decided to keep it in Nova Scotia to create job opportunities at home;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Michael Duck on the success of his company and wish him the best as it continues to grow.