Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-10

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

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS:
Environ. & Lbr. - RDM Recycling: Disposal Site - Oppose,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 683
TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS:
Fin.: Revenue Estimates - AG's Letter, Hon. N. LeBlanc 684
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 481, Yom haShoah, Holocaust Mem. Day (09/04/03) - Recognize,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 684
Vote - Affirmative 685
Res. 482, Fin. - Budget (N.S.): Chambers of Commerce -
Consultation Thank, Hon. N. LeBlanc 685
Vote - Affirmative 686
Res. 483, Lee, Dr. Patrick: Cameron Chair - Appt. Congrats.,
Hon. J. Purves 686
Vote - Affirmative 686
Res. 484, Fin. - Foreign Exchange Exposure: 20 Per Cent Level -
Achievement Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 686
Res. 485, Tourism & Culture: N.S. Vacations - Promote,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 687
Vote - Affirmative 688
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 32, Farm Machinery Dealers and Vendors Act, Hon. E. Fage 688
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 486, Hennigar, Luella - E. Hants Mun.: Prov. Vol. Rep. (2003) -
Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 688
Vote - Affirmative 689
Res. 487, Journalists: MLAs - Respect Earn, Mr. D. Wilson 689
Vote - Affirmative 690
Res. 488, Vimy Ridge Battle/Reaper, Charles: Significance Recognize -
Condolences Express, Mr. W. Langille 690
Vote - Affirmative 690
Res. 489, Insurance - Public System: Pictou Co. Coun. -
Motion Congrats., Mr. F. Corbett 691
Res. 490, PC Brochures: Costs - Determine, Mr. P. MacEwan 692
Res. 491, Snarby, Ulf: Romeo LeBlanc Medal - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Morash 692
Vote - Affirmative 693
Res. 492, William, Dr. Martin: Gulf of Maine Award - Congrats.,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 693
Vote - Affirmative 694
Res. 493, DHS - Jazz/Rock Bands: Cuba Trip - Experience Recognize,
Dr. J. Smith 694
Vote - Affirmative 694
Res. 494, Pictou West: Schoolhouse Hist. - Participants Congrats.,
Mrs. M. Baillie 694
Vote - Affirmative 695
Res. 495, Cole Hbr. HS - Wrestling Teams: Successful Season -
Congrats., Mr. K. Deveaux 695
Vote - Affirmative 696
Res. 496, School Musicals: Participants - Congrats., Mr. D. Wilson 696
Vote - Affirmative 697
Res. 497, Park West Sch.: Operation ID School Zone Contest - Congrats.,
Ms. M. McGrath 697
Vote - Affirmative 697
Res. 498, Freeman, George: Birthday (100th) - Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 697
Vote - Affirmative 698
Res. 499, MacDougall, Austin/Whitman, Mabel: Bedford Vol. Award -
Congrats., Hon. P. Christie 698
Vote - Affirmative 699
Res. 500, Country Hbr. Cross Rds. Fire: Harbourview/Goshen FDs -
Members Commend, Mr. Ronald Chisholm 699
Vote - Affirmative 700
Res. 501, "New Beginnings: The Story of the Ship Hector": Galaxi Award -
Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 700
Vote - Affirmative 700
Res. 502, Hfx. Herald Ltd.: BBB Award - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 701
Vote - Affirmative 701
Res. 503, Dart. Walking Trail: Phase I - Opening, Hon. T. Olive 701
Vote - Affirmative 702
Res. 504, Commun. Serv. - Women's Ctrs.: Funding Cuts - Justify,
Mr. W. Gaudet 702
Res. 505, Pinehurst - Emergency Situation: Emergency Personnel -
Commend, Hon. M. Baker 703
Vote - Affirmative 704
Res. 506, MacLeod, Brian: Efforts - Commend, Hon. A. MacIsaac 704
Vote - Affirmative 704
Res. 507, MacDougall, Parr: Dutch Medal - Congrats.,
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 705
Vote - Affirmative 705
Res. 508, Sports - Lunenburg Falcon Atoms: Silver Medal - Congrats.,
Hon. M. Baker 705
Vote - Affirmative 706
Res. 509, Huskilson, Lloyd: N.S. Sports Hall of Fame -
Induction Support, Mr. C. O'Donnell 706
Vote - Affirmative 707
Res. 510, Roy, Bill: Paul Harris Fellows Award - Congrats.,
Hon. P. Christie 707
Vote - Affirmative 707
Res. 511, Gun Registry: Justice Min.(Fed.)/Sol.-Gen. (Fed.) -
Actions Condemn, Mr. B. Taylor 708
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 65, Commun. Serv. - Small Options Homes: Workers' Demands -
Fairness Admit, Mr. D. Dexter 709
No. 66, Commun. Serv.: Reg. Res. Serv. Workers - Walkout Prevent,
Mr. W. Gaudet 711
No. 67, Insurance - Skyrocketing Rates: Action - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 712
No. 68, Fin. - Fed. Health Funding: Budget Exclusion - Explain,
Mr. M. Samson 713
No. 69, Health - Nursing Positions: Non-Full-Time Work -
Dearth Explain, Mr. D. Dexter 715
No. 70, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - ATVs: Driving Age - Increase,
Mr. J. MacDonell 716
No. 71, Environ. & Lbr. - Harrietsfield: Environ. Site Assess. - Order,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 717
No. 72, Fin. - Tax Rebate: Brochure - Supplement Produce, Mr. J. Holm 718
No. 73, Prem. - Critical Services Funding/Gov't. (N.S.) Optics:
Relative Importance - Explain, Mr. W. Estabrooks 720
No. 74, Tourism & Culture: Foreign Talent - Usage Explain,
Mr. D. Wilson 722
No. 75, Prem. - Political Advertising: Promises - Breach Explain,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 723
No. 76, Environ. & Lbr. - Supplementary Benefits Prog.: New Entrants -
Applicability, Mr. P. MacEwan 725
No. 77, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Hwy. 101 Twinning:
Windsor Causeway - Gap Explain, Mr. W. Estabrooks 726
No. 78, Commun. Serv.: Social Housing Plan - Reveal, Mr. W. Gaudet 728
No. 79, Health - Soldiers Mem. Hosp.: Day Surgery - Justify,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 729
No. 80, Health: Northside Gen. Hosp. ER - Concerns Allay,
Mr. B. Boudreau 730
No. 81, Commun. Serv. - Seniors' Housing Units: Backup Generators -
Details, Mr. M. Samson 731
No. 82, Insurance: Vol./Commun. Agencies - Min. Assist, Mr. J. Pye 733
No. 83, Health Prom.: New Initiatives - Details, Dr. J. Smith 734
No. 84, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Fed./Prov. Agreement:
Rural Rds. - Effects, Mr. B. Boudreau 735
No. 85, Educ. - Sir John A. Macdonald: Status - Commitment Renew,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 736
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 26, Fin.: Debt - Prem. Promises, Mr. M. Samson 737
Mr. M. Samson 737
Hon. N. LeBlanc 742
Mr. G. Steele 747
Mr. R. MacKinnon 751
Res. 417, PC Gov't.: Funding - Inadequacy, Mr. W. Gaudet 754
Mr. W. Gaudet 755
Hon. D. Morse 757
Mr. J. Pye 760
Mr. D. Wilson 763
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Educ.: Hammonds Plains Sch. - Commun. Commitment:
Mr. B. Barnet 767
Mr. D. Wilson 770
Mr. W. Estabrooks 773
Mr. F. Corbett 775
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 10th at 12:00 noon 776
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 512, Middleton's Ice Angels: Successful Season - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 777
Res. 513, Kempton, Roberta Dunning: Birthday (100th) - Congrats.,
Mr. K. Morash 777
Res. 514, MacArthur, Dausha/Girls @ The Junction : Prog. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 778
Res. 515, MacKenzie, Allan: Springhill FD 10-Yr. Service Bar - Congrats.,
The Speaker 778
Res. 516, MacDonald, Sonya/Girls @ The Junction: Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 779
Res. 517, MacDonald, Dale: Master's Sales Award - Congrats.,
The Speaker 779
Res. 518, MacDonald, Alexa/Girls @ The Junction: Prog. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 780
Res. 519, Ling, Margaret: Golden Jubilee Medal - Congrats., The Speaker 780
Res. 520, McCabe, Ashley: RRFB Contest - Congrats., The Speaker 781
Res. 521, McCabe, Ashley/ Moore, Allison: ORHS Science Fair -
Accomplishment Congrats., The Speaker 781
Res. 522, Milton, Kasha/Girls @ The Junction: Prog. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 782
Res. 523, Meekins, Lindsey/Girls @ The Junction: Prog. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 782

[Page 683]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 9, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Before we begin the daily routine, the subject for this evening's late debate was submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank:

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House commend the community of Hammonds Plains on its commitment to seeing a new school built for the area.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on behalf of the residents of Harriestfield and Williamswood, I beg leave to table a petition against a proposed C&D site. The operative clause is, "Because of concerns about potential drinking water contamination, lakes and waterways contamination and environmental contamination of an abutting designated conservation area, we, the undersigned are opposed to the approval of a Construction and Demolition Disposal Site at RDM Recycling in Harrietsfield, Nova Scotia." I will be affixing my signature to this and there are approximately 900-plus signatures of homeowners who have signed this petition.

683

[Page 684]

MR. SPEAKER: The petition is tabled.

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 the original letter received from the Auditor General on the reasonableness of the 2003-04 revenue estimates. The Auditor General's letter is identical to that which was included in the Budget Address which I tabled last week, released on April 4, 2003, with the exception of minor formatting. I have been requested to table it and, as such, I am doing so. I have copies here for both Opposition Parties.

MR. SPEAKER: That's an issue that I was aware of as well and considering that the honourable Minister of Finance has tabled that, the matter has been dealt with.

[The document is tabled.]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 481

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

Whereas April 9, 2003, Yom haShoah, Holocaust Memorial Day, is a day to commemorate the Holocaust; and

Whereas Yom haShoah is a day to overcome prejudice, racism, bigotry and "antisemitism" caused by the Holocaust of 1930 to 1945; and

Whereas Yom haShoah is a time to recognize the 6 million victims of the Holocaust who were brutally murdered and the others who fought against the Nazis to survive;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House educate our youth on the Jewish suffering of the early 1900s and continue to promote respect, understanding and peace among cultures.

[Page 685]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 482

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

Whereas this Spring I had the opportunity to speak to six chambers of commerce around the province, as part of my pre-budget speaking tour; and

Whereas over the past five months I have met with various stakeholder groups including business, union, industry sectors and community groups as part of my annual budget consultation process; and

Whereas the Department of Finance places a strong emphasis on public consultation to manage the province's finances in the manner that serves the best interests of all Nova Scotians;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate and extend its thanks to the chambers of commerce, for the opportunity to speak to Nova Scotians about the upcoming provincial budget, and to the various stakeholder groups who have offered this government input, advice and support.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 686]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 483

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

Whereas Nova Scotia has one of the highest rates of cancer of all the provinces; with 24,000 Nova Scotians having cancer, and 5,000 new cases of invasive cancers diagnosed each year; and

Whereas through a team approach to research, cancer can be beaten; and

Whereas a vibrant cancer research community in Nova Scotia has a direct link to quality bedside care;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dalhousie University on the appointment of Dr. Patrick Lee, an internationally renowned cancer researcher, to the Dr. Owen and Pearl Cameron Chair in Cancer Research.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 484

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

[Page 687]

Whereas eight years ago, Nova Scotia's foreign currency exposure exceeded 70 per cent; and

Whereas under this government, Nova Scotia's foreign currency exposure has been reduced from more than 50 per cent to less than 20 per cent, a full 18 months ahead of schedule; and

Whereas the reduction of foreign-held debt generates greater fiscal stability for the province;

Therefore be it resolved that this House recognize the province's goal of achieving foreign exchange exposure of 20 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

RESOLUTION NO. 485

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's new advertising and promotional campaign for Atlantic Canada was launched yesterday, April 8th; and

Whereas this campaign consists of brand new television and radio ads aimed at attracting visitors from our neighbouring provinces; and

Whereas the Atlantic Canada Market represents over 50 per cent of non-resident visitation to Nova Scotia;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House help spread the word about vacationing in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 688]

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. 32 - Entitled an Act to Protect the Dealers and Vendors of Farm Machinery. (Hon. Ernest Fage as a private member.)

MR. SPEAKER: Ordered that this bill be read a second time on a future day.

Just before we move on to Notices of Motion, for the interest of the House, I thought it important - and some members probably know already anyway - to note that our new Assistant Clerk is now a new father, as of March 31st, of a baby girl, Hillary Clare Ferguson, the mother, Elizabeth MacEachern. On behalf of the House, congratulations to you and to Hillary. (Applause)

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 486

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

Whereas volunteers are the epitome of community spirit in Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the dedicated efforts of volunteers deserve recognition and applause; and

Whereas the Municipality of East Hants recognizes such efforts and has named Mrs. Luella Hennigar of Latties Brook as its 2003 Provincial Volunteer representative for her many years of community service in a large variety of capacities;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly congratulate Mrs. Hennigar for her long-standing willingness to help out where and when needed.

[Page 689]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

[2:15 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 487

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 Atlantic Journalism Awards of Achievement will be handed out in a ceremony on May 3rd; and

Whereas the Atlantic Journalism Awards began in 1981 to honour journalists for their professional excellence and this year marks the 22nd year for the Atlantic Journalism Awards; and

Whereas in their tireless efforts, the print, radio and television journalists serve an important public service by providing Nova Scotians with comprehensive, timely news on issues of regional and local importance;

Therefore be it resolved that the work of all journalists who, in selflessly serving the public good, have earned the respect of members of this House.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 690]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 488

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

Whereas on April 9th, Canadians remember the many sacrifices of those who fought in the Battle of Vimy Ridge on a cold Easter Monday in 1917 - a battle which meant an incredible victory over what was almost an impregnable stronghold; and

Whereas the last veteran who took part in the Allies' victory at Vimy Ridge recently died - infantry soldier, Charles Reaper, age 103, of Winnipeg, died only a month before the 86th Anniversary of the World War I battle; and

Whereas for our country, this battle signified a turning point in Canada's move to distinct nationhood - as Brigadier General Ross said, "I thought then that I witnessed the birth of a nation.";

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature join me in recognizing the significance of the Battle of Vimy Ridge for the Allies in World War I and for our nation and express our condolences to the family and friends of Mr. Reaper, the last living link to those thousands of brave men who fought in that decisive victory.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North on an introduction.

[Page 691]

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, on an introduction today, I would like to bring to the attention of the House in both the east and west galleries of a large contingent of people in the House. I want to bring to the attention of this House counsellors of the RRSS and President Joan Jessome of the NSGEU but, most importantly, the family, friends and relatives of those individuals who are most vulnerable and those individuals who are intellectually disabled who are in the group homes, the supervised apartments and the small options homes here in the metro area. I would hope that you would give them a warm welcome. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: We welcome the guests to the gallery today and hope they enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 489

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

Whereas skyrocketing auto insurance rates in Nova Scotia are squeezing today's families more and more; and

Whereas this government refuses to consider every option available to make the system more affordable, especially the option of a public auto insurance system such as in Manitoba, Saskatchewan and British Columbia, which have the lowest rates in the country and do not discriminate on the basis of age and gender; and

Whereas this government says it wants to hear from Nova Scotians on the issue and the Pictou County Council answered that call with a motion requesting that the province "move immediately to a publicly funded auto insurance program";

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Pictou County municipal councillors for requesting that the province immediately implement a public auto insurance system that will benefit all Nova Scotians.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

[Page 692]

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 490

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

Whereas "2003-2004: Lower Taxes for a Stronger Economy: Nova Scotia: Let's Keep the Debt Growing" is clearly a Conservative election manifesto; and

Whereas this Tory propaganda cost taxpayers probably $0.5 million or more to print and mail out to 380,000 households; and

Whereas this debt-growing Conservative Government has not even released the total costs of this exercise, so the estimates given here are of a conservative nature;

Therefore be it resolved that the true costs to the taxpayer of sending out these Tory brochures may be $0.5 million or more in immediate terms, but infinitely more if their mischievous effort leads to the re-election of this debt-growing Tory Government for another four years.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 491

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

Whereas each year four active commercial fish harvesters from Canada's Arctic, Atlantic, Pacific and freshwater fisheries are recognized for their outstanding contribution to the development of responsible fishing practises with the Award for Responsible Fishing; and

Whereas one of these four recipients was further recognized with the Roméo LeBlanc Medal; and

Whereas Liverpool's Ulf Snarby has been awarded this highest distinction given to Canadian fishermen receiving the National Awards for Responsible Fishing;

[Page 693]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Ulf Snarby on winning the Roméo LeBlanc Medal and express our gratitude for his commitment to ensuring a strong, responsible fisheries sector in the years to come.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 492

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

Whereas Dr. Martin Willison, a long-time valued resident of Halifax Atlantic has recently been presented with the 2002 Gulf of Maine Visionary Award; and

Whereas Dr. Willison has been actively involved in many community activities and projects in the Spryfield area; and

Whereas the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment has recognized Dr. Willison's inspiration to students and colleagues through many years of research and teaching as Chair and Professor of Biology at Dalhousie University;

Therefore be it resolved that this House extend its congratulations to Dr. Martin Willison on being awarded the 2002 Gulf of Maine Visionary Award.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 694]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

RESOLUTION NO. 493

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

Whereas the Dartmouth High School's concert jazz and rock bands spent their March break in Cuba enjoying the sounds of salsa while performing for their Cuban peers; and

Whereas music teacher Terry Hill along with 72 band members organized this excursion to celebrate the music of different cultures; and

Whereas this is an incredible experience for those Dartmouth students to not only share their talents but to experience a new culture;

Therefore be it resolved that we recognize the experience these Dartmouth High students have shared in Cuba and wish them every success in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 494

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

[Page 695]

Whereas a book chronicling the history of more than 50 one room school houses that once dotted the landscape of Pictou West is almost ready for publishing; and

Whereas Doris MacMillan and Laura Sears have compiled information from the book's committee members on schools from places such as Toney River, Lansdowne and West River Station; and

Whereas the proceeds from the book will go to the McCulloch House Properties, its editors hope to have it published in time for the celebration of the 200th Anniversary of Thomas McCulloch's arrival in Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Doris MacMillan, Laura Sears and all those who participated in this worthy project and wish them success with the publication of this book.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage.

RESOLUTION NO. 495

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

Whereas Cole Harbour District High School has a rich and honoured sports tradition; and

Whereas Cole Harbour District High School's wrestling team continues in this proud tradition; and

Whereas Cole Harbour won this year's senior boys wrestling title and the senior girls finished second at provincials;

[Page 696]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Cole Harbour District High School boys and girls wrestling teams and their coaches, Sean Kent and Ashley Clark on a most successful season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Glace Bay.

RESOLUTION NO. 496

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

Whereas in addition to the incredible experience for the students involved, most schools use their musicals as a fundraiser for student activities; and

Whereas many junior and senior high schools throughout the province are preparing for their annual school musical; and

Whereas a perfect example of our students will be displayed at J.L. Ilsley when they perform Cabaret, and New Glasgow High School with their performance of Les Miserables;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the students and teachers for their hard work and wish everyone a tremendous success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 697]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Bedford Basin.

RESOLUTION NO. 497

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 Park West School has placed first in the Operation ID School Zone poster contest; and

Whereas this program is designed to raise awareness of the illegal sale of tobacco products to minors, especially by retailers near schools, by displaying the winning poster in corner stores throughout metro; and

Whereas the efforts of Krista Leonard, Nicole White, Arber Rexhep and Rebecca Schneidereit made the Park West School win possible;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating Park West School, especially these four students, on winning the Operation ID School Zone poster contest and on their efforts to end tobacco use among young people.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 498

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

[Page 698]

Whereas reaching your centennial birthday is an accomplishment that only a lucky few get to experience; and

Whereas George Freeman celebrates his 100th birthday today, April 9th; and

Whereas family and friends of Mr. Freeman gathered together to celebrate this momentous occasion this past Sunday and again today;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating George Freeman on reaching this exceptional milestone and wish him good health and happiness in the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 499

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

Whereas on Sunday, April 6, 2003, the community of Bedford recognized the hard work and dedication of its volunteers at a special recognition dinner; and

Whereas this year the award was shared by two very dedicated persons, Austin MacDougall and Mabel Whitman, these two individuals having risen above and beyond the norm and are being recognized by their community; and

Whereas this event gives the opportunity for the community of Bedford to recognize and applaud the hard work of all individuals who have given their time;

[Page 699]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Austin MacDougall and Mabel Whitman for their continued support of their community and for all those volunteers in the community who are so greatly appreciated.

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 Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury.

RESOLUTION NO. 500

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

Whereas the Harbourview, Guysborough County, Fire Department was called upon on a cold early December morning in 2002 to a house fire in the Country Harbour Cross Roads area; and

Whereas at the scene, firefighters did everything humanly possible but by this point the home's roof had already collapsed and the chimney had also fallen nearby; and

Whereas after a neighbourhood search, the scene became even more stressful when firefighters realized the homeowner never made it out of the house before it has burst into flames;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature commend the members of the Harbourview Fire Department for their heroic efforts as well as those of the Goshen Fire Department for supplying mutual aid assistance that tragic morning, as well as pass our condolences to the family members of the victim of the fire.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 700]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou West.

RESOLUTION NO. 501

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

Whereas the Galaxi Award is presented by the Canadian Cable Association for excellence in the information category; and

Whereas this year's recipient is the documentary New Beginnings: The Story of the Ship Hector which recreates the ship's historic voyage and ends with the successful launch of its replica in 2000; and

Whereas this local production was produced and directed by John Meir, narrated by Sandy Mackay and filmed on location in Pictou;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in congratulating John Meir, Sandy Mackay and all those involved in the production of New Beginnings: The Story of the Ship Hector on winning the Canadian Cable Association's Galaxi Award for 2003.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 701]

The honourable Minister of Health.

RESOLUTION NO. 502

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

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

[2:30 p.m.]

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 a member of the Bureau since 1949, The Halifax Herald Limited 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 The Halifax Herald Limited on the receipt of their Better Business Bureau award, and wish them continued success for the future.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Natural Resources.

RESOLUTION NO. 503

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

[Page 702]

Whereas next month pedestrians and bicyclists both will be able to enjoy the Dartmouth waterfront when the first phase of a Dartmouth walking trail opens from the Woodside ferry terminal to Cuisack Street; and

Whereas this is the first phase of a three-kilometre trail which will run from the Woodside ferry to the downtown Dartmouth ferry terminal and is a project of the Waterfront Development Corporation with the support of the Halifax Regional Municipality's community development fund; and

Whereas this trail enhances and protects the public's access to the waterfront and will also enhance the planned construction of the new Nova Scotia Community College on the grounds of the Nova Scotia Hospital;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the enjoyment this trail will bring, and endeavour to take the time to enjoy a walk along Dartmouth's beautiful waterfront.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 504

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

Whereas the John Hamm Government has, with this year's budget, once again shown its disrespect for women's centres by refusing to provide them with increased funding; and

Whereas with another devastating year of budget cuts to these essential groups, the John Hamm Government is forcing them to further reduce the services they are able to provide; and

[Page 703]

Whereas it was this Premier who recently stated that Nova Scotia is a stronger, prouder, better place than it was less than four years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that this Premier explain how, in cutting funding to women's centres year after year, his government can claim that Nova Scotia is a prouder, better place than it was four years ago.

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 Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 505

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

Whereas many Nova Scotia communities have recently been affected by severe flooding, including the community of Pinehurst, Lunenburg County; and

Whereas Pinehurst was the scene of an emergency situation, whereby quick action was required by emergency personnel; and

Whereas Gary Penney, Kevin Wile, and Larry Veinotte, area residents, assisted the emergency crews' rescue efforts with the use of their backhoes, tractors, and front-end loaders;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House of Assembly thank Gary Penney, Kevin Wile and Larry Veinotte for the assistance they provided during a dangerous situation.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 704]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 506

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

Whereas Brian MacLeod, a graduate of Mount Allison University, is not only an exemplary citizen, but he is also an inspiring story of recovery from bone cancer; and

Whereas an Antigonish entrepreneur, community activist, and philanthropist, Mr. MacLeod was named honorary chief of the Waycobah First Nation after serving for three years as their administrator, and he has been instrumental in making community colleges attractive to high school graduates; and

Whereas his company, the MacLeod Group, now owns five nursing facilities, downtown buildings, as well as residential properties, and his fundraising has helped to make the Bauer Theatre at St. F.X. part of Festival Antigonish;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of the House commend Brian MacLeod on his strength in overcoming his cancer, and for his selfless involvement in making his community and province a better place.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture.

[Page 705]

RESOLUTION NO. 507

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

Whereas the Allies' liberation of Holland from Nazi Germany in World War II was an important victory, marking a turning point in the conflict; and

Whereas Parr MacDougall of Inverness was one of the brave Canadians who took part in the liberation and was recently awarded the Dutch Medal; and

Whereas the medal was awarded to Mr. MacDougall on behalf of the Dutch Government;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in congratulating Parr MacDougall on the receipt of this honour from the Government of Holland and thank him for his contribution through the Canadian Armed Forces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 508

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

Whereas the Lunenburg Falcon Atoms participated in the Atom B provincial tournament held in Port Hood on March 21st to March 23rd; and

Whereas the Lunenburg Falcons were successful at the tournament and received a silver medal for their efforts; and

[Page 706]

Whereas Alex Garland was named tournament MVP and Jason Mosher and Justin Corkum were named to the all-star team during the closing ceremonies;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House congratulate Alex Garland, Jason Mosher, Justin Corkum, Ian Mitchell, Justin Demone, Alex Galley, Andrew Baker, Evan Knickle, Jordan Keeping, Nick Strowbridge, Scott Tanner, Graham Creaser and Tyler Ritcey-Conrad of the Lunenburg Falcons for their excellent efforts in winning the silver medal.

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 Shelburne.

RESOLUTION NO. 509

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

Whereas Mr. Lloyd Huskilson's baseball career in Shelburne County spanned approximately 20 years between the 1930s and 1950s; and

Whereas Lloyd "Cute" Huskilson was perhaps the best baseball player to ever come out of Shelburne County; and

Whereas Lloyd has yet to make the cut but residents of Shelburne County believe Lloyd legitimately deserves to be inducted into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature recognize the local baseball career of Lloyd Huskilson and wish residents working on Lloyd's induction into the Nova Scotia Sport Hall of Fame every success.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 707]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

RESOLUTION NO. 510

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

Whereas on Thursday, March 27, 2003, the Rotary Club of Bedford-Sackville honoured one of their valued members, Bill Roy of Bedford with the Paul Harris Fellows Award; and

Whereas this award is given to Rotary members who have shown great compassion for their community through volunteer work and financial contributions; and

Whereas this event gives the community of Bedford the opportunity to recognize the hard work of its individuals who have given their time and dedication;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Bill Roy for his continued support of the Bedford community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

[Page 708]

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

Whereas reaching your centennial birthday is quite a magnificent feat that only a few get to experience; and

Whereas Roberta Kempton of Milton . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, I believe that is your third resolution?

MR. MORASH: Yes.

MR. SPEAKER: You are only allowed two.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, on your first one.

RESOLUTION NO. 511

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

Whereas the federal government just announced another $232 million has been allocated towards Canada's biggest catastrophic boondoggle in this century, a national gun registry system; and

Whereas with the cost overruns of $1 billion or more, Canada's federal Minister of Justice and Canada's Solicitor General, sounding more like Abbott and Costello, had the audacity to announce on February 21st in a Justice Department backgrounder, "they were improving effectiveness and lowering the costs of the gun registry system"; and

Whereas now that more than $1 billion of taxpayers' funds has disappeared like smoke in the air, the famed ministerial duo of Justice and Solicitor General have announced a public consultation process will now take place in the Spring and they're going to consult with Canadians;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature in its entirety (Laughter) condemn the actions of the federal Minister of Justice and the federal Solicitor General and urge an immediate halt to the gun registry program.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 709]

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would like to introduce to you and through you, to all members of the House, some individual members of the Harrietsfield and Williamswood Community Association, headed by Shannon MacDonald and Ian MacKinnon. The residents who are here today are here, obviously, to follow the proceedings with regard to the rezoning issue in their community. They are seated in the west gallery and I would ask if all members of the House would be kind enough to afford them the appropriate recognition. (Applause)

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

Question Period will begin at 2:41 p.m. and will end at 4:11 p.m.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

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

COMMUN. SERV. - SMALL OPTIONS HOMES:

WORKERS' DEMANDS - FAIRNESS ADMIT

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, members of the NSGEU, Local 66 are here today protesting the disparity between their wages working in small options homes and the wages of workers who do the same job in institutional settings. The minister has continually referred to the $28 million wage increase for this staff, in an attempt to muddy the waters of this issue. In reality, the wage increase to which he is referring, ended two years ago and these workers haven't had an increase since. My question for the Minister of Community Services is, when will you stop making excuses and admit that the demands of these workers are reasonable and fair?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite gets me to point out again, that when these responsibilities were uploaded from the municipalities to the province, a number of very positive things were done. One of these was we wanted to standardize the

[Page 710]

level of care right across the province and with that, it required additional training for many of the people who were involved in that sector. With that additional training there was a recognition and the member is quite right, it did cost another $28 million, which almost added 50 per cent to this government's commitment to funding that sector.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister has indicated that he can't offer these workers pay equity because they do their jobs in small options homes settings. The precedent has been set for long-term care nurses, rural nurses, rural hospital staff, the VON, and countless other groups. In those cases it was recognized that two people who provide the same service are entitled to equitable pay, regardless of where the service is delivered. When will the minister stop using empty excuses, come to the bargaining table, and stop forcing these workers to take job action?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite, once again, for his question. It does point out that as part of this new initiative there was a recognition that there should be geographic wage equity and, in fact, that was done. The wages were increased to $13.70 an hour and in some cases, some of the people who came on were making as little as $6. While not everybody was in that situation, it did mean a substantial commitment on the part of this government towards the care of those residents and the employees that do such a great job taking care of them.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister's words about these workers are empty unless he's prepared to follow it with some action. The reality is that families have had their lives turned upside down by this situation and many of those family members are here in support of these workers, because, unlike the minister, they know the value of these devoted staff members. My question for the minister is, when will he do the right thing and take immediate action to resolve this crisis for the residents and their families?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite does point out something that is quite valid and that is that it's not only the residents who are distressed by what's going on, but it also impacts the families. As I mentioned yesterday in this House, I personally went over to Simpson Hall to view the arrangements that had been made in the event there was an interruption of services. I met some of the residents and, in fact, this morning, the member opposite would be pleased that I met with some of the members of the families. Thank you.

[Page 711]

[2:45 p.m.]

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

COMMUN. SERV.: REG. RES. SERV. WORKERS -

WALKOUT PREVENT

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. Over the last week or so, I have stood in this House and asked the minister to do one simple thing to avoid having regional residential service workers walk off the job. He could have requested a conciliation board if only he would have supported management with this request. He failed to do so. The power was and still is in his hand to take action so residents can move back to surroundings they are comfortable in and familiar with as soon as possible. My question to the minister is, why is the minister refusing to take action to ensure that the residents are cared for by individuals and surroundings that are familiar instead of disrupting their lives and the lives of their families?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, there were a number of points there that the member opposite was trying to make and a number of questions. I would say that we're going to pick the one that is most relevant here and that is the way that the Department of Community Services is involved in this is that we fund the sector. The actual services are provided by many wonderful organizations, often with volunteer boards of directors. This is one of many of those organizations. They, in fact, are the employer and, of course, when you get into labour negotiations, it's only appropriate that the employer and the union be at the table.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, it has been a long, hard struggle trying to get this minister to understand. I find it quite interesting hearing the minister here again this afternoon taking credit for the $13.70 wage that is currently being paid to our RRSS workers. That was negotiated by a Liberal Government in the last contract and not by this minister. It is now time for this minister to indicate the priority he places on the residents and on the workers and my question to the minister is, why did the minister refuse to go to bat for the residents by demanding a fair budgeting allotment at the Cabinet Table?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think that the member opposite points out that there were a lot of commitments made by the previous government. In fact, I think that it's fair to say that we got, I think it was about $3.6 billion worth of commitments from them and that we have found means to honour those commitments and bring in a balanced budget so that we can ensure the sustainability of those services to, amongst other people, the residents served by the Regional Residential Services Society.

[Page 712]

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this minister has done nothing. When you talk about priorities, you only have to look at the minister's departmental budget to see where the priorities lie. A rough estimate shows that this minister increased administration in his department by almost $5 million this year. That's $5 million not going directly to programs and support. My final question to the minister, why has the minister seen administration in his department as a priority and not the residents and workers at regional residential services?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to see that the member opposite, as the Critic for Community Services, is focusing on numbers in the budget. I know that in the last couple of sessions of the estimates, I went through a grilling that had everything to do with everything but numbers and I look forward to accepting his questions during that time and providing him the appropriate answers.

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

INSURANCE - SKYROCKETING RATES: ACTION - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this government says that it wants to encourage immigration to the province and yet it allows insurance companies to discriminate against people who are new to Nova Scotia, people like Michelle Renou. She recently decided to settle in Nova Scotia, but was startled to discover that in spite of her clean driving record, not even a parking ticket, she would be forced to pay $3,000 for auto insurance. Why? Because she's considered a newcomer. I would like to ask the minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates, what do you plan to do about this discriminatory practice?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the honourable member opposite, we have a plan, we are following that plan and as a result of that plan, we will bring some sanity into the insurance business.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the plan the minister refers to is a plan to do consultation by somebody they haven't even hired yet. That can only loosely be referred to as a plan. Michelle Renou is just one example. The government is allowing insurance companies to discriminate and I would like to table the letter and insurance bill Michelle Renou sent to my office. She has been classified as a high-risk driver because she hasn't had insurance in Canada or the U.S. for the last four years. It doesn't matter that Michelle Renou is 50 years of age, been driving most of her life, has a clean record. What matters is that she is new to Nova Scotia. My question for the minister of skyrocketing insurance rates is, why are you doing nothing and allowing insurance companies to discriminate against the people of this province?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member well knows, there has just been completed a review of insurance rates by the Utility and Review Board and we await with interest the results of that examination.

[Page 713]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister who thinks that insurance rates are low in Manitoba because the roads are flat should know that the URB did not discuss this issue. Insurance underwriters are using every trick in the book to gouge Nova Scotians, rates are skyrocketing and discrimination is on the rise, yet the minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance rates refuses to act. Mr. Minister, many of the underwriters involved in this practice don't live in Nova Scotia and many not even in Canada. How can it possibly be fair that these underwriters are classifying drivers new to Nova Scotia as a high risk?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I find it passing strange that the Leader of the New Democratic Party, who spent about three months, I believe, running around the countryside talking to fellow New Democrats, the only solution that he was able to come up with is for the government to set up its own insurance company in competition with the private sector. We do not intend to do that.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FIN. - FED. HEALTH FUNDING: BUDGET EXCLUSION - EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the Finance Minister has been very elusive in the past as to whether or not all health money from Ottawa will actually be spent on health care. The Bank of Montreal's economic branch issued a commentary on the budget in which it pointed out that a $2 billion one-time transfer was going to be available to the Canadian provinces from Ottawa for health care that, ironically, Nova Scotia has not included in their budget. The fact is that Nova Scotia's share, based on our population, would be about $60 million. Other provinces have included their share of the $2 billion in their budgets. Therefore my question to the minister is, could the Minister of Finance inform the House why Nova Scotia has kept the $60 million from the budget numbers?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I find it interesting that the Liberal Party would like for us to - I guess it has spent our portion of the $12 billion, most of it in the first year. In this year we have taken in one-third of the revenues that the federal government is going to be putting into the province, which is $12 billion, one-third of that is in this year. The $60 million that he's referring to is a conditional payment that the federal government will make if they have a surplus in this year. It is clear our intention, as a government, that if that surplus is paid, that the provisions will be made by the federal government that those funds will go into this year rather than next year, that will allow for the funds to be equally shared over the three years of the agreement so that we don't suddenly have a lot of revenue in one year and less in the next. We don't want to hire people to fire them the next year. That is our approach and that differs with the Liberal Party.

[Page 714]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, the fact is, as I said, other provinces have included that in their budget. In fact, other provinces under Tory administrations have done this. Nova Scotians shouldn't have to look up economic papers from banks in order to find out where health dollars are located. What happened to openness and accountability? (Interruptions)

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

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, if you add the $60 million that is coming from Ottawa for help, along with the $8 million from Ottawa for housing that the province is withholding, all of a sudden the province has a $68 million cushion. Ironically, $68 million is exactly the amount that it's going to cost for the $155 tax rebate scheme that the Tories have proposed. Therefore, I ask again, does the Minister of Finance not believe that health and housing need $68 million, or is he just withholding the money to pay for his tax scheme?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I used to have debates with the former Finance Critic from their Party. There were days that I questioned his theory. As I see now, he wasn't that bad, obviously. (Laughter) We have not included those revenues in our estimates, because of the fact that those payments are conditional. I stated very clearly that if we are to receive those, the federal government will work with our province and also with the Province of British Columbia, which also incorporates GAAP, to ensure that those funds will go into next year. It is our intention to level out the funding so that we don't get all the money in one year, to have less the next. That is not in the best interests of this province. If the Liberal Party espouses that, let them stand up and say it because this Party does not agree.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, how ironic that the minister says he's not going to spend health care dollars from Ottawa now. We see emergency rooms close, we see longer waiting lines to get surgeries, we have homeless people on the streets freezing, yet the minister sits back and holds $68 million of both housing money and health money for his rainy day rebate fund. Nova Scotians are concerned that this government is taking money that is slated for health care and instead putting it in a rebate scheme which is clearly meant to curry favour with Nova Scotia voters. My question again is, will the minister clearly make a commitment today that any new money from Ottawa for health care will be specifically spent in health and not on your re-election scheme?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I've never seen so many misrepresentations of the facts. In this budget, we have $105 million which has been received from Ottawa and we have spent $140 million. The member opposite is saying that there's nothing in this budget to lower waiting lists, those are not the facts. We gave $5 million to the district health authorities to reduce waiting lists, and we also gave $5 million to the Capital District Health Authority for their cardiac program to reduce waiting lists. We put the money where we said. The health money went for health, plus additional funds. That's what we told the people and that's what we did, and that is not what the member opposite is portraying. Those are not the facts.

[Page 715]

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

HEALTH - NURSING POSITIONS:

NON-FULL-TIME WORK - DEARTH EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the Department of Health's Web site lists several nursing positions around the province. As nursing students have indicated, most of the listings in the metro area are for part-time, temporary or casual work. Even in rural communities where there is supposed to be a wealth of full-time work, many positions are temporary or part-time. Some pay as little as $771 every two weeks. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why are there so many casual, permanent part-time and temporary positions around the province?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are many vacancies around the province. Some of them are casual, some of them are temporary, some of them are full-time, some of them are for experienced nurses, and some are for graduates. As I've said several times in the last few days, there is not an absolute match between the number of graduates and the number of positions available, but there are jobs for nurses in Nova Scotia. I would ask, with sincerity, that graduates of Dalhousie and other nursing schools apply for those jobs and stay here in Nova Scotia.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it was only less than four short years ago when this group over here were campaigning for government. They were promising to address the nursing shortage by creating more full-time jobs. Several hospitals have multiple part-time, casual and temporary jobs listed. Perhaps the nursing graduates would be more enticed to relocate to rural hospitals if the positions offered a little more security and a living wage. I want to ask the Minister of Health, why hasn't your government addressed the overabundance of short-term nursing positions around the province?

[3:00 p.m.]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we have addressed the issue and continue to address the issue of permanent nursing jobs versus part-time and temporary nursing jobs. The fact remains that some hospitals require some ability to work with contract positions and temporary positions.

MR. DEXTER: Apparently the Minister of Health doesn't understand the contradiction. The government is spending more money to train nurses but they won't give the district health authorities enough money to hire them into full-time permanent positions. So we're essentially training nurses for Texas and Alberta and for other jurisdictions where they will have that kind of job security. Unless something is done, we will continue to train even more nurses who will leave the province. So, my question for the Minister of Health

[Page 716]

is, how can you demand high training for students to accumulate crushing debt load and then expect them to accept a part-time job that pays less than $400 a week?

MISS PURVES: As everyone in this House knows, our nursing strategy was developed by nurses, for nurses. The strategy is working. The fact remains that there are many different types of vacancies in Nova Scotia. I wish we didn't have any vacancies, but it is not true, as the member says, that it is lack of funding that is causing this problem. There are funded positions in several of the DHAs that are not being filled because at this time they are unable to match their needs with the requirements of some of the nurses who are graduating.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - ATVS: DRIVING AGE - INCREASE

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: My question will be for the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. The Canadian Institute of Health Information reports that the number of young people injured while using all-terrain vehicles has risen dramatically in Nova Scotia. From 1996 to 2001 the accident rate for ATVs rose by 63 per cent in this province. It's now the third highest rate in Canada. Many of these ATV accidents involve young drivers, including children. Nova Scotia sets the age limit at 14, but there's a huge loophole that allows children as young as 10 to operate ATVs. My question to the minister is, why won't you step in and immediately increase the age at which children can begin operating ATVs so you can at least reduce, if not eliminate injury to children on these vehicles?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: I thank the honourable member for the question. All-terrain vehicles, or off-highway vehicles as they're more accurately known, are not the responsibility of the Department of Transportation and Public Works and I would refer the question to the Deputy Premier.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, there is no confusion about this, but the ATV problem that we have in this province and which other provinces have as well, is a problem that's shared by the Minister of Tourism, the Minister of Natural Resources, the Minister of Environment and Labour, the Minister of Transportation, et cetera. We are coming up with a common strategy for ATV riders and for the use and abuse of ATVs. We expect to have an announcement in the very near future.

MR. MACDONELL: I thank both the ministers for their answers. I will redirect this question again to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works and see where it lands. Perhaps I can help with the strategy the minister is trying to come up with because I know that I raised this with the minister a couple of years ago and I'm still waiting. The number of children being injured on ATVs is frightening. It's so frightening that Nova Scotia trauma registry has sounded the alarm. Yet in Nova Scotia children as young as 10 years of age are

[Page 717]

allowed to operate an ATV. As this recreation grows in popularity, the number of injuries will increase proportionately. In the face of this, why has the minister stood by and done nothing as children continue to drive all-terrain vehicles with very little restrictions?

MR. BAKER: As I indicated earlier, I refer that to the Deputy Premier.

MR. RUSSELL: The age at which children can ride on ATVs more properly belongs with the parents of those children. Because most ATVs are operated on land that is owned by the owner of the ATVs, we have no control whatsoever over those particular children who are driving ATVs. We do not, certainly, recommend it.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: The minister should know - he's been a member of governments certainly longer than I have - and I want him to recognize the power that this government has to address issues like this. That's what people expect their governments to do. Many provinces have imposed minimum ages for the operation of an ATV. Most restrict use by those under 14, others set the minimum age at 16. I know the minister must consider this a serious problem and I ask him, what is he going to do and when is he going to do it?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we will be doing something in the very near future and I'm not just trying to waylay the member because I recognize that there's a problem. I think every thinking person in the province recognizes that there's a problem with ATVs. We have 40,000 people who own ATVs in Nova Scotia and I don't know how many beyond that number that actually ride ATVs. It's a massive problem and it's one that has to be addressed. Other provinces are having the same problem trying to address that particular difficulty. As I said, we have formed a committee representing various departments and, as a result of that, we will be coming forward with a strategy in the very near future.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - HARRIETSFIELD:

ENVIRON. SITE ASSESS. - ORDER

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, earlier today I tabled a petition with 900 names of residents in the Harrietsfield area who are quite concerned about the government allowing the expansion of a recycling dump in their community. They have serious concerns, environmental concerns, safety concerns, noise concerns, home evaluations, property concerns. So given the fact that the government says it's open and accountable, my question quite simply to the Minister of Environment and Labour is, what assurances can you give the people, not only those who are here in the gallery but to all the residents in Harrietsfield, that you are prepared to listen to their concerns and order an environmental site assessment on this particular issue?

[Page 718]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, several years ago, about three years ago or four years ago possibly, HRM set up a series of meetings and public consultations to come up with a construction and demolition debris management strategy. They did so and finally actually licensed I believe three sites in the City of Halifax. They did that without consultation with the Department of Environment initially, but the Department of Environment did become involved and at the present time there's a consultation process under way with the residents of the area.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, presently the Ombudsman is looking into this situation and we're waiting for her report to come back. Contrary to what the minister has said, the residents in the community have been trying to seek some answers from the government and this minister on various issues, particularly soil analysis. They have not been able to get the results of the hydro-geological analysis even if there has been one done, which we have no information on. They haven't been able to find out what the soil analysis has been despite what the minister has said. Experts at HRM have recommended against this site. So my question to the minister is, would he be prepared to table the results of the soil analysis that has been done by the government on this particular site?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I'm not aware of what has been done on-site to be quite honest with regard to studies of the soil in the area. I do know that HRM, however, did approve this site for the accumulation and disposal of construction and demolition debris.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, the residents have some genuine concerns about the safety of their water supply. We have more than 900 families in that community who could be adversely affected, not only with the quality of their water, but the safety for their children going to school. We have a licensed real estate company that has indicated quite clearly that there will be a negative, adverse effect should this proposal go forth. My question to the minister is, what are you going to do to protect the residents in that community and stop hiding behind bureaucratic red tape?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, at the present time, we are still receiving responses to our request for information from the area residents, and I believe that process will be completed in two or three days from now.

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

FIN. - TAX REBATE: BROCHURE - SUPPLEMENT PRODUCE

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, you remember that the Premier and his merry band of misguided followers promised that they would be providing an open, transparent and compassionate government. Well, I have taken a look at the most recent taxpayer-funded Tory propaganda piece. It's rather glossy, but it glosses over some very important

[Page 719]

information. For example, it doesn't tell the approximately 300,000 poorest adult Nova Scotians that they will not be receiving the Premier's $155 vote Tory enhancement.

So my question to the Premier, through you, Mr. Speaker, is, could the Premier tell Nova Scotians, because I'm sure he would like to ensure that there is clarity on this matter, will he be putting out a supplement to explain to the poorest Nova Scotians, the approximately 300,000 people who will receive nothing, to explain to them why you do not believe that they are worthy of assistance?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the initiatives of this government was to provide economic stimulation. The way to combat poverty is to provide an economy that provides everybody that opportunity to work and work in a good job. One of the initiatives that we have and through the tax rebate that will be in the hands of Nova Scotians in June, it will provide an immediate infusion into our economy of almost $70 million and should keep the good times rolling.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, what the Premier is hoping is for the good times to keep rolling for him, not for the people of Nova Scotia. The Premier should know that the wealthiest, they are the ones who are most likely to be spending their money outside of the Province of Nova Scotia. The poor, those who have to decide between food and heat, those people will be spending that money here in Nova Scotia. The wealthiest will get it, the poor are to get nothing.

My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, is that the Tory view of a fair and just society?

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Did the honourable Premier hear the question?

THE PREMIER: No. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Would the honourable member for (Interruptions) Order, please. Obviously the House enjoyed the honourable member's question and would like to hear it again. (Laughter) The question only, please.

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, quite clearly, those who have the higher incomes will be receiving, but those who are the very poorest will receive nothing. My question through you, Mr. Speaker, to the Premier is, - softly so he can hear it - is that the Tory view of a fair and just society?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, may I respond to the well-meaning member that regardless of what your tax payment to the government is, you get the $155. It doesn't matter, everybody gets the same.

[Page 720]

MR. HOLM: Mr. Speaker, maybe the Premier should read his own tax documents because then maybe the Premier would find out, maybe he would realize that what he is saying is misguided, it's inaccurate. We have many Nova Scotians who are paying HST on their higher heat costs, on all kinds of things, maybe they are disabled, they're on low fixed incomes, maybe they're the ones who are working and receiving the minimum wage, but their incomes are so low they don't qualify for this.

[3:15 p.m.]

My question to the Premier is, we have seen this one piece of Tory propaganda and we know that the Premier, his PR flacks and strategists are preparing for the election campaign. My question to the Premier is, how many more of these taxpayer-funded propaganda pieces are you planning to have the taxpayers pay for before the next election, instead of providing help to those who really need it?

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. Just before the honourable Premier answers, on a couple of occasions today members have held up documents in the House which are purported to the House to be props, and I would ask the honourable members to (Interruptions) You can refer to it all you want, just don't hold it up. (Interruptions)

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the long-serving member opposite that if there ever was any doubt as to whether or not the people of Nova Scotia should be informed about what it is doing in terms of tax reform and providing the commitment that it made to the people of Nova Scotia, then the member opposite has provided absolute confirmation that we had to do it because he doesn't understand it. How can we expect Nova Scotians, who get far less information than the member opposite, to understand it? That's why those documents go out.

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

PREM. - CRITICAL SERVICES FUNDING/GOV'T. (N.S.) OPTICS:

RELATIVE IMPORTANCE - EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my questions are to be directed to the Premier, through you. This is a time when government refuses to properly fund the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre. It's a time when it takes millions from affordable housing. But not everyone is losing out. This is also a time when the Minister of Health has jacked up her propaganda campaign by almost 30 per cent, the minister of communications jacked his communications budget by more than 10 per cent, Environment and Labour has public relations spending up by 35 per cent, and Finance increased its communications budget by about 25 per cent. My question to the Premier is, I would like to know why you have decided that how people perceive your government is more important than properly funding critical services, like the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre?

[Page 721]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it would appear that the member opposite is asking a question about the assault centre, and I would refer that to the minister.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I think the House knows that the majority of the funding for the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre comes through Community Services, but I will say that the Department of Health has been funding a project with a nurse practitioner for the past three years that has probably been increasing the workload at Avalon. We will be discussing with the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre what the Health Department might be able to do to assist them in their funding.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I will try the Premier again, if I could, please. The Premier's staff includes three public relations staff, including two managers of communication. You have to be managed these days. You have to be spun. The Department of Health has had as many as four PR flacks this past year, and heaven knows what happens with the Department of Education and who's spinning out of control there. There are now about 50 public relations types working for this government - and I would like to table that list, if I could - who are in that business. My question to the Premier is, is it really worth all this taxpayers' money to try to convince Nova Scotians that you're doing something, wouldn't it be easier just to put it into the proper programs so that Nova Scotians could benefit directly?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, that question should be directed to the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I actually appreciate the question by the honourable member. It's very important that government communicate with Nova Scotians in a timely way, that they provide the information that Nova Scotians request and require. The honourable members opposite are constantly telling this government about their failure to respond in a timely way to what Nova Scotians are asking. This government is making every effort to respond in a timely way with the information Nova Scotians are requesting.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, it's time for a history lesson. This government has spent more than $200,000 on Bill No. 68 and other advertising. They spent more than $50,000 on long-term care advertising and now they're spending $150,000 on this latest round of politically-motivated ads. Yet on Page 18 of the blue book, it's this Premier who stated he would end - he would have no more - politically-motivated advertising. So my question to the Premier is, which of your 50 public relations types will you call upon to explain yet another one of your broken commitments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia.

[Page 722]

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, again I'm not sure that the honourable member understands the importance of communicating with Nova Scotians, but I can assure you we do. Also my understanding is, in fact, this administration has fewer communicators than the former administration did.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

TOURISM & CULTURE: FOREIGN TALENT - USAGE EXPLAIN

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Tourism and Culture. In today's Chronicle-Herald we see a photo of our Premier. I would like to table a copy of that photo. Ironically, the Premier has his back facing us and it's no wonder that his back is facing us because this government has turned its back on musicians, songwriters and artists in this province. We read below that photo an interesting article about how the government is advertising our province and has spent $15,000 to pay a band from Great Britain, a band called Jesus Jones. (Interruptions) If the members of the New Democratic Party want to check the pronunciation, they will find out they're wrong.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay on his question.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question to this government and to this minister is why did the government pay $15,000 of taxpayers' money to a foreign band at the expense of our home-grown talent and I want to know from this minister how, why and when that minister found Jesus?

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: Oh, God, Mr. Speaker, what a question. Yes, I don't know how I'm going to (Interruptions) fiddle my way out of this one.

Mr. Speaker, through you to the member, I can assure the member that the musicians used with the song were from Nova Scotia.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I can tell you that we will support that if that's the case, but I want to know from the minister why a foreign song was chosen? (Interruptions) I want to know why we couldn't "rise again"? I want to know why we can't "fly on our own" in this province and I want to know . . . certainly we wouldn't say to our musicians "farewell to Nova Scotia" as this minister has done to all the incredible talent. So my next question to the minister is, can the minister explain why such bands as Crush and Sloan and The Cottars and J. P. Cormier and Rita MacNeil and Natalie MacMaster, why aren't they good enough to get the $15,000 and why don't you care about local talent?

[Page 723]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: There are so many things to say, I'd better not say them all. The fact of the matter is, we use musicians from Nova Scotia with regard to the song. Of course, the rights to the song are owned outside the province, but we follow through on those obligations. Hundreds of songs were looked at with respect to the song being used. This was determined using a very aggressive consultation process with respect to an outside group. That is the correct song, I believe, for the commercial.

MR. WILSON: Let's get serious. What a disgrace. What a disgrace.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. WILSON: When you treat Nova Scotia artists this way, it's shameful. The Minister of Tourism and Culture, who is a musician of some note, I will grant, is way off key when it comes to this issue. I want to ask the minister, I want this minister to sing a new tune and I want this minister to change those decisions and for once support the artists and songwriters and musicians in Nova Scotia. Reverse that decision and give them the $15,000.

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Well, if that member is referring to people like Bruce Jacobs and Scot Ferguson and Dave MacIsaac as musicians who do not deserve the opportunity to play in that type of commercial for Nova Scotia, it's unbelievable. I think it's time for the member to "sail, sail away." (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I'm just a little sorry the honourable member doesn't have another supplementary.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

PREM. - POLITICAL ADVERTISING:

PROMISES - BREACH EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. I've learned that this Premier plans to spend $90,000 on this latest round of pre-election, budget print and radio ads. One of the latest ads broadcast in Cape Breton features that part-time stand-up comic, part-time fiddler and Minister of Tourism, Rodney MacDonald. (Applause) The Premier who vowed not to pay taxpayers' dollars on politically motivated advertising is spending more than $155,000 on this latest ad campaign alone. So my question is to the Premier, not to the Minister of Communication Nova Scotia, certainly not to the fiddler from Inverness. Will you explain, Mr. Premier, to Nova Scotians why you've broken your word about such advertising?

THE PREMIER: The government has a department called Communications Nova Scotia. The Department has a minister. If the member opposite wants to ask questions about that budget, he asks the minister. I would ask the minister to respond to the member opposite.

[Page 724]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Is the advertisement that the honourable member is referring to one that was playing with the honourable Minister of Tourism and Culture on it? Is that the one?

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. ESTABROOKS: Now, Mr. Speaker, I would like to draw again to the Premier's attention a resolution he presented in this house of June 1999. In 1999, Premier Hamm condemned the then Liberal Government, the current Third Party in this House, for using valuable taxpayers' dollars to fund a PR campaign. He said the Liberal Government was being wasteful, inappropriate, and offensive for spending more than $100,000 on an advertising campaign. Yet now we have $150,000 in the last month and a half on your own PR campaign. Mr. Premier, how can you justify such hypocrisy?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the one thing you can never accuse this government of is being wasteful. But I would refer the question to the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, this is a day that should be a tribute to Opposition researchers. It is a day that Opposition researchers all over this province should wonder about, because the advertisement that the member is referring to is an advertisement that was placed on the radio on behalf of the Minister of Tourism and Culture, by himself, and was not paid for by the Government of Nova Scotia.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question is again for the Premier. This is the man in charge of these dollars. This is, after all, the very Premier who stood in this House in a holier-than-thou approach that he has used in the past and condemned the government at the time for such financing. He promised Nova Scotians that public funds would not be used for political advertising. Mr. Premier, why can you make a promise when in Opposition and now you cannot keep it?

THE PREMIER: The red face of the member opposite indicates he knows he's being bested. So I will give the Minister responsible for Communications Nova Scotia another crack at the member opposite.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the difficulty with the whole premise of his question is that it is basically wrong. The honourable member knows that this is advertisement that was taken out by the minister as a member. He is not doing it on the part of the government and the honourable member should offer an apology for the wrong information to the minister involved.

[Page 725]

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - SUPPLEMENTARY BENEFITS PROG.:

NEW ENTRANTS - APPLICABILITY

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I was sitting over here reading . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. MACEWAN: . . . larger taxes for a stronger debt but I put that aside and turned instead to this . . .

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

MR. MACEWAN: . . . volume called the Nova Scotia Workers' Compensation Program.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member just heard me a few minutes ago rule out of order anybody using props in the House. You can refer to them but not hold them up in the House, as the member would well know. (Interruption) Yes, well hold them down and read them, you don't have to hold them up for the House. Thank you. (Interruptions) Two rookies.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova has the floor.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, sir, I just wanted to demonstrate that they're both printed in the same colour ink. That's the point I wanted to make. Now, this is a government publication. It has already been tabled in the House by the minister and its concerning the Workers' Compensation Program. It is 380 pages long.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Honourable member, I would ask again, with respect to the Chair, put the book down, put the question or I'll call for another speaker.

MR. MACEWAN: Well, I'll refer to what's in the document, Mr. Speaker. The honourable Minister of Labour knows all 380 pages of this document full well, so I won't go through it page by page. But I do want to ask the Minister of Labour if he could update the House on his progress in terms of investigating the applicability of the Supplementary Benefits Program to new entrants. Now, I advised the House earlier that they cannot get into the program . . .

MR. SPEAKER: That was the question.

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take that question under advisement.

[Page 726]

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as a first supplementary, I might say that the recommendation from the report that's under my tabletop - in that report, recommendation number seven, at the Summary of Recommendations, stated that this program of supplementary benefits should be combined with an updating of the cost-of-living adjustment on workers' compensation payments from 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the increasing cost of living. Could the minister update the House on his progress on that particular recommendation with respect to implementation?

MR. SPEAKER: I think we've gone from Opposition Day to entertainment day.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I will take that under advisement as well. When I say that, there is a large number of recommendations in that report, which as the honourable member well knows are under review at the present time. At exactly what stage of review they're at, I will have to check with the Workers' Compensation Board.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, with respect and deference, I might say that that report was tabled here in this House 13 months ago, so there has kind of been a bit of time pass since then for the government to determine its response. I would like to ask the minister, with reference to the other recommendations that are contained in that report - all 390 pages of recommendations - if he could indicate on those, whether any of them are going to be implemented, particularly between now and the upcoming dissolution of the House?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I met with the president of the Workers' Compensation Board just recently. We discussed the report, and indeed there will be something coming forth later this year in the form of legislation, and when we have a date for that I will be pleased to advise the honourable member.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - HWY. 101 TWINNING:

WINDSOR CAUSEWAY - GAP EXPLAIN

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. People in the Windsor area were surprised to learn this morning that a four-kilometre stretch through the area will be skipped over when Highway No. 101 is twinned through to Avonport. I will table pages from the briefing book of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works, which says the reason for skipping over the Windsor twinning is because they haven't yet decided how to deal with the controversial causeway issue. I want to ask the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to admit that his government is leaving the Windsor section of Highway No. 101 un-twinned because the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works didn't want to make it a difficult political decision on the eve of an election campaign.

[Page 727]

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member isn't doing very well today. The reason that that section of the road is not proceeding at the present time, but which will be proceeding very shortly, is because there's a federal environmental assessment. This is the area known as the causeway in Windsor, I believe, and as the honourable member would know, this is a sensitive environmental area. We have to do the environmental studies before the federal funding can flow. That is the reason that that gap is there, but I can assure you we are absolutely committed to filling the gap as soon as possible.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, four years of environmental review. I will table pages from the safety review this government conducted on Highway No. 101. That very section of Highway No. 101 had the worst collision rates on that highway from 1990 to 1999. This is a winding section of road whose danger is signalled by reduced speeds. As the previous minister whispers an answer in your ear, instead of using the dangerous layout of the Windsor Road as a reason for twinning, the minister's briefing note uses it as an excuse not to twin. My question to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works is, of all places and all excuses, how could you possibly have decided that the Windsor stretch should go untwinned after four years of environmental review?

MR. BAKER: It strikes me as a tad ironic that the honourable member from the Party whence he cometh should be arguing that we should proceed without an environmental assessment to twin the road. I can tell the honourable member one simple fact, we will twin that section of Highway No. 101.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I remember that campaign literature and I read it well, because the MLA for Hants West said it would be twinned. He said it would be twinned and it would be twinned immediately. It's incredibly ironic that the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works, a man who has led this government's decision-making on Highway No. 101, would chose to leave the heart of his own riding un-twinned.

Let me give you the real answer, Mr. Speaker, this government is leaving Windsor un-twinned for one simple reason - the community is split over how to deal with the causeway and the former minister doesn't want to make a controversial political decision when he is seeking re-election. So I want the Minister of Transportation and Public Works to listen to the question, as opposed to his seatmate. I want him to know why you choose bad politics over good sense when dealing with the lives of people driving through Windsor?

MR. BAKER: The honourable member has one little problem with that premise - it's wrong. In fact, Mr. Speaker, the warden and the mayor of the Town of Windsor support the decision to proceed to do the other sections and to catch up, once the environmental assessment has been received for the sensitive environmental area, so that the project will proceed quickly down the Valley as we committed.

[Page 728]

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

COMMUN. SERV.: SOCIAL HOUSING PLAN - REVEAL

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Community Services. It would seem that this minister has taken $9 million out of provincial housing programs while at the same time the federal government has increased their funding by $11 million. However, this minister says he is keeping the $9 million for now, but plans to spend it sometime this year. This is a shameful act by this minister and we will hold him to that commitment to spend that money. My first question to the minister is, could the minister please reveal his social housing plan for rural Nova Scotia?

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for his statements and his questions and I'm going to pick one. First of all, he made a suggestion that this is additional federal funding that's flowing into the department. Actually the funding comes from the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation where we built up a surplus and that's where the funding is coming from, but the funding has to be targeted to public housing.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this minister knows he is responsible for the housing needs of all Nova Scotians. People in rural Nova Scotia deserve to know how much they can expect to receive for their housing needs.

Mr. Speaker, as you're aware, last September a $37.26 million five-year affordable housing agreement was announced. People in rural Nova Scotia deserve to know, again, how much they can expect to receive for their housing needs. My question to the minister is, can this minister please inform the House how much money in each of the next five years will be allocated for new social housing units in rural Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, what the member opposite refers to is the affordable housing agreement with the federal government and, in fact, it is that amount. It's a matching arrangement between the federal and provincial governments and the target amount is 1,500 new units or the equivalent and that will be disbursed based on need across the province over the ensuing five years.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, just what I thought, there is either no plan or there are so few dollars being allocated to rural Nova Scotia by this government that to reveal the amount would be an embarrassment. I will try again - if you are not planning to develop many new housing units in rural Nova Scotia, could you please indicate how much you are planning to spend for renovations and upgrades to social housing units in rural Nova Scotia?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I think that the member opposite knows that's the sort of thing that we look forward to answering in the estimates, but as long as he has brought up the subject, isn't it great that last year the former minister got to go to Middleton, make the

[Page 729]

first public housing announcement in over 10 years - 15 new units for the people of Middleton and area - and we look forward to many more of those announcements over the term of the agreement.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - SOLDIERS MEM. HOSP.: DAY SURGERY - JUSTIFY

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Health. Let's keep talking about Middleton. This government announced with great fanfare last year that Soldiers Memorial Hospital would be turned into a day-surgery centre of excellence. Subsequently, tens of thousands of dollars were spent to upgrade the operating room and to renovate the former medical and maternity units. What didn't happen is that this government forgot to ask anyone at the Valley Regional Hospital if they were willing to travel to Middleton to work in that centre of excellence. So I want to ask the minister if she could justify the spending of precious health dollars on a day surgery that is practically not utilized at all?

[3:45 p.m.]

HON. JANE PURVES: The DHA wanted to, intended to, upgrade that surgery so that indeed that centre of excellence could exist and operate. A number of things have happened - a surgeon has left the area to go to Kentville, but the plan is still to use that hospital for day surgery.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, the head of the Valley District Health Authority has told Middleton town officials that full-time surgery is probably history in their community. The Tory Government built a day-surgery centre of excellence, but nobody came, no surgeons came and the minister and the government would have known that had they bothered to ask. I want to ask the Minister of Health, your department spent the money on a project without a plan and now the centre of excellence is hardly used. What answers can you offer the citizens of Middleton?

MISS PURVES: One of the reasons the day-surgery unit was built there was to take some of the pressure off Kentville. I think the member opposite knows well that Kentville is a very, very busy hospital. It may even need more beds. Because a plan - not invented by the Tory Government, but requested by the DHA - is not fully implemented right at this moment, does not mean it's not going to be implemented and it does not mean it's not going to work.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: I remember all too well the position that the DHA in the Valley were put in last year by the former Minister of Health. The day-surgery centre of excellence in Middleton might win awards for its cleanliness, but it's not going to be

[Page 730]

winning any awards for saving lives any time soon. People in the western Valley now drive up to 90 minutes to get necessary medical treatment. Will the Minister of Health admit that the Middleton centre of excellence is nothing more than a centre of empty promises?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I am sure the member opposite knows full well that most day surgery is not performed in the same way as emergency surgery is. Day surgery is increasing in all our hospitals across this country because more and more procedures don't require overnight hospitalization. That unit is going to be used for day surgery and residents of the Valley and the town are going to find it very, very useful and they're going to be able to take pride in it when it's fully operational.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes. (Prolonged Applause)

HEALTH: NORTHSIDE GEN. HOSP. ER - CONCERNS ALLAY

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Despite recent good news announcements by both the federal and provincial governments, residents of Cape Breton The Lakes continue to express concern to me with regard to the emergency department at the Northside General Hospital. My question to the minster is, can the minister assure these residents of Cape Breton The Lakes that these fears are unwarranted?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I think the member for Cape Breton The Lakes knows that the health authority in his area is run by one of the most respected CEOs in the province, perhaps the country. There are issues up there that they are all grappling with, but I can assure him that Mr. Malcolm and his government and his department do care about the future of hospitals in his area and will take every care to see that residents are served.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the minister with regard to the administration, but I would remind the minister that administrators require the tools necessary to get the job done. Staff levels continue to be a concern at the Northside General Hospital. In New Waterford and Glace Bay and Baddeck and Richmond County, at the Buchanan Memorial Hospital, all are feeling insecure and expressing concern with regard to funding allotments and that sort of thing, decisions that are made right here in downtown Halifax. My question is, what can the minister tell members of this House with regard to the activities she has initiated since becoming the new Minister of Health to securing and increasing staff levels at these troubled facilities?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, what we've seen in the last few years is an unprecedented level of co-operation between local authorities and the Department of Health, principally, under the direction of the Associate Deputy Minister Cheryl Doiron. We can't guarantee everything in health care or any other field, but what we have guaranteed is multi-

[Page 731]

year funding of 7 per cent to each of the DHAs, increasing year after year, as well as guaranteeing that we will pay for increased salary costs. This kind of stability is precisely the kind of thing that will allow local authorities to deal with problems as they come up in each hospital or each area in the service they provide.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is also to the Minister of Health. Wait times for surgery in particular continue to increase for residents of Cape Breton The Lakes and surrounding communities. For residents requiring medical attention here in Halifax, the wait lists grow and the waiting time lengthens. This creates unnecessary stress for families in a medical crisis. My question to the minister is, can the minister indicate to members of this House just exactly how she intends to successfully meet this demand on our health care system?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there will always be some wait times for some procedures, but I can give one example of what we are doing to reduce wait times and that is to do with the additional $5 million to the QE II for its cardiovascular program. That is one issue that all the DHAs feel needed to be addressed, because the cardiac surgery done in Halifax is going to help the patients in all the DHAs by reducing the waiting lists here. So that's one very concrete example of how we are going to be reducing a wait list this year.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

COMMUN. SERV. - SENIORS' HOUSING UNITS:

BACK UP GENERATORS - DETAILS

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, in January of this year there was a power outage in Richmond County which affected a great part of the county. The power outage lasted from about 2:00 o'clock in the morning to about 11:00 o'clock the very next day. One of the places impacted by this, along with many others, was the Foyer St. Joseph, which is a seniors' housing unit located in Petit-de-Grat, Richmond County. As a result of the power being out for nearly 12 hours, there were no emergency lights as the emergency lights at that facility are only geared to last for 45 minutes. At the same time, as a result of it being in the winter, there would have been a significant snowfall that evening and many of the residents were unable to leave the facility in the morning because the snow was piled too high against the doors.

This, potentially, could have been a very dangerous situation for the residents inside. My question to the Minister responsible for Housing is, will the minister please indicate what work has been done with regard to seniors' housing units by his government to address issues such as this where backup generators may be required to avoid any such dangerous situations in the future?

[Page 732]

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, he's asked a very specific question, and I would like to get back to him on that one.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, this is not the first time that concerns have been raised about the status of seniors' housing units throughout this province. I have already indicated on numerous occasions from various ministers the importance of having lifts in these housing units, especially the seniors' housing units that have two storeys or more where seniors are very concerned about getting up the stairs and down the stairs with groceries, for example, or other items which they may need to bring upstairs.

Mr. Speaker, we all know that this minister has received $11 million from Ottawa to address housing concerns. There is only a number of seniors' housing units throughout this province. Therefore, I ask today, what plan does the minister have to address the concerns at seniors' housing units in this province - whether they be by providing backup generators for power outages, by providing lifts or elevators to these facilities throughout the province?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for the question. I also thank him for the opportunity to, once again, clarify how the money flows into housing in the province from the federal government. It goes through the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation where we have built up a surplus over the last number of years and the money that the member opposite was referring to is from that surplus.

Mr. Speaker, in regard to our concerns about making sure that seniors have access to their residences, such as we can, we try to make sure that if there's a mobility problem on the part of the senior that they are kept either on the ground floor or that they're in accommodations that have elevators. In terms of upgrades . . .

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, with all due respect, whether a senior is mobile or not, when you don't have power for up to 12 hours, when your emergency lights only last for 45 minutes and whereas the doors are blocked because of heavy snowfall, it doesn't matter whether you're mobile or not, you're in a very dangerous situation. I have heard from family members, from these residents. I have heard from the Foyer St. Joseph, I have no doubt it was the same situation at some of the other seniors' units throughout Richmond County and in other places around this province. I ask again, will the minister commit today to implement a detailed plan that will put in place over time, whether it be generators, lifts, elevators into seniors' housing units, so that we can avoid again the situation of having this type of dangerous scenario for seniors in provincial housing units?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member opposite for allowing me to finish my answer to his first supplementary and that is, in fact, we do try to allocate those additional resources across the province based on the need. Those are the very considerations that are looked at when it comes to installing elevators in seniors' housing complexes and, in fact,

[Page 733]

I would assure the member opposite that what he's asking for is presently being carried out within housing services.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

INSURANCE: VOL./COMMUN. AGENCIES - MIN. ASSIST

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance. Five days ago Cabinet agreed to compensate the Children's Aid Society & Family Services of Colchester County and any other child and family services' agency that they cannot obtain commercial liability insurance on the terms and conditions that are acceptable to the agency. The provincial offer to pay ends no later than December 31st of this year. My question is, what steps is the insurance minister taking to ensure that other important volunteers, community-based agencies, know that the province is prepared to step forward and compensate them for their exposure to liability?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I do not know what the program is that Community Services - I believe the honourable member is telling me - funded for insurance. There are no plans at the present time, as far as I know, to extend that to other departments.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, dozens of volunteer fire departments have been notified that their insurance with Sun and Royal Alliance will not be renewed. Group homes, food banks, transition homes and women's centres are some of the other important community agencies struggling with sudden increases in the cost of commercial liability insurance. The Order in Council, approved on April 4th, is the first concrete action this government has taken to lower insurance costs. I will table that in the House and my question will be, will the minister or the Premier tell Nova Scotians when the government will give similar relief from unacceptable insurance costs to the fire department and other important agency groups?

[4:00 p.m.]

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I can talk about the Fire Marshal's Office because the Fire Marshal's Office at the present time - in fact, I think just yesterday was speaking to the volunteer fire departments with regard to insurance for those particular departments who have lost their insurance. With regard to the community services matter, I would ask the honourable Minister of Community Services to answer that.

MR. PYE: The minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance knows that Nova Scotians are very concerned about this issue, very concerned. I thought the government would want everyone to know that the Conservatives have taken one step to start helping people to escape the burden of insurance costs. The government should not limit its relief from skyrocketing insurance costs to one set of agencies, one form of insurance or one

[Page 734]

calendar year. Why won't this government extend the relief from commercial insurance costs far more widely? That's my question.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I would like to refer that question to the Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: The member opposite refers to an OIC that was passed earlier in this month. I would like to assure the member opposite that it is not only citizens of Nova Scotia, but also the Government of Nova Scotia that is having its difficulties with insurance companies. The reason the OIC was passed is because the insurance industries are tightening their criteria to extend coverage. In fact, this is an interim measure to cover childrens' aid societies for liability insurance.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH PROM.: NEW INITIATIVES - DETAILS

DR. JAMES SMITH: My question is for the Minster of Health Promotion. In listening to the Throne Speech there was a reference to initiatives that would be implemented in the Office of Health Promotion. Those are all past initiatives. There are no new initiatives and no plan for that office. What the minister needs to understand is that health promotion is much broader than just fitness - health promotion requires effective strategies, target specific groups and is supported by public policy that addresses chronic illnesses, for instance, among many other things. My question to the minister is, can this minister explain what concrete new initiatives his office plans to implement to effectively use the Health Promotion strategies to create better health care for all Nova Scotians.

HON. RODNEY MACDONALD: I would like to thank the member for the question. One such indication of that I can point to directly is that of the chronic disease prevention strategy which we will release this Fall.

DR. SMITH: Well, Mr. Speaker, that's a start and we look forward to the Fall when it will be implemented maybe in the future. The idea of impression and these types of promises is really what we've been receiving. In reading the Throne Speech, there was a three-sentence paragraph devoted to Health Promotion. Just three sentences. Significant stress was placed on fitness, but again, not on chronic disease prevention. Maybe the minister is listening. There's little value in establishing these types of programs without adequate resources and this office has not been resourced to deal with chronic disease prevention strategy. My question to the minister, will the minister provide an outline of the plans he has to build comprehensive policies and strategies that address the long-term health care, particularly in the chronic illness field?

[Page 735]

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: I know that probably no one in this House, other than perhaps the Premier, is aware of the importance of putting an appropriate strategy in place to deal with chronic disease. What the stakeholders have told us very clearly is that they want a long-range plan and they want that done with the appropriate consultation and planning. They don't want a one-year strategy or a two-year strategy, they want a long-term strategy and that is what we are doing with the chronic disease prevention strategy through Dalhousie University.

DR. SMITH: I thank the minister, but I hope the long-term strategy for long-term illness doesn't take an unduly long term. Earlier this year, the minister appointed Scott Logan as the office's new executive director and he's a distinguished athlete and a most competent administrator. At the time, the minister stated that the work of this new office would be crucial to helping improve the health of Nova Scotians. My question to the minister, would the minister please outline for the members of this House today exactly what Mr. Logan's responsibilities will include, and what he will be allowed to do with all the many talents that he brings to that office?

MR. RODNEY MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I can certainly provide the member with an overview of the position that Mr. Logan has. Indeed, the member can also read our business plan for the upcoming year to see what the Office of Health Promotion will be doing, some of the activities.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - FED./PROV. AGREEMENT:

RURAL RDS. - EFFECT

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Roads are currently in a condition of distress throughout rural Nova Scotia, including streets in Cape Breton The Lakes. Potholes appear nearly the size of manholes in city streets. My question to the minister is, can the minister indicate what the newly-signed agreement between the federal government and this government will mean for rural areas not included, like Cape Breton, in the deal?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the honourable member's interest in the riding of Cape Breton The Lakes and the roads in that riding. The roads in Cape Breton The Lakes, I'm sure, are like the roads all over Nova Scotia. It's been a very difficult winter and, of course, some of the work that might have happened to repair those roads has been delayed over the last number of weeks as a result of the heavy rainfall. I can assure the honourable member that the government is committed to repairing roads all across Nova Scotia. In point of fact, the Government of Nova Scotia was pleased to increase the capital budget of the Department of Transportation and Public Works to almost twice as high as it was under the former administration.

[Page 736]

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, Villa Drive, Church Road, Alder Point, Little Pond, Millville, Route No. 223 - I can go on and on - Coxheath, Westmount, Groves Point, the list is just endless. I would remind the minister that since 1999, I feel, as well as the residents of my constituency feel, that this government is neglecting the maintenance on these streets, and not just in the past few weeks. My question to the minister is, now that the funding agreements are signed with the federal government, can the minister indicate how this will impact on new paving projects throughout rural Nova Scotia, similar to Cape Breton The Lakes, areas not affected nor benefiting from these federal dollars?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member indicated, the roads in question are not part of the national highway system, but I can assure the honourable member that we are committed to the rural roads in Nova Scotia. We are the government that created the RIM program, we are the government that increased capital spending in the Department of Transportation and Public Works, we are the government that increased the maintenance budget of the Department of Transportation and Public Works, and we are the department that is going to fix the roads in Cape Breton The Lakes and all across Nova Scotia.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my final supplementary is also to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Bridges are another topic, another major issue facing Nova Scotians. In the Spring of 2000, the previous minister closed a bridge in my constituency, located on Queen Street, adjacent to Cape Breton North, leading into the Town of North Sydney. This route is a listed economic route for the Town of North Sydney because of its close proximity to Highway No. 105. Last year the previous minister made that commitment that this structure, after two years, would be replaced this Spring. Will this minister fulfill this commitment?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to report to the honourable member that the honourable member for Cape Breton North has also brought this same bridge to my attention, and had brought it to my attention long before today. I can assure you that we are looking at that bridge as one of our priorities in the near future.

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

EDUC. - SIR JOHN A. MACDONALD:

STATUS - COMMITMENT RENEW

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, on Monday evening the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and myself attended an important meeting at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. Needless to say there is some deep distrust of the intentions of the Department of Education. The current school is unable to deliver the basics of the PSP. The previous minister gave a commitment that Sir John A. would be as good as a new school. Will you renew that commitment, Minister of Education?

[Page 737]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, yes.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, will you tour Sir John A. Macdonald High School with the member for Chester-St. Margaret's and myself?

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

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, would you please call the order of business, Motions Other Than Government Motions.

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 26.

Res. No. 26, Fin.: Debt - Prem. Promises - notice given Mar. 28/03 - (Mr. M. Samson)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today to speak on Resolution No. 26. I will read the operative clause . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. There's too much noise in the Chamber. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, I will just read the operative clause, where it says "Therefore be it resolved that the Premier reflect on what he has said and tell the people of Nova Scotia why he has failed so miserably to live up to his word."

Mr. Speaker, what we have seen in the last four years from this government has been a government of broken promises. What they have done and have undertaken to do in the last number of months is to undertake an unprecedented PR campaign to try to convince Nova Scotians that they have done what they set out to do, to try to spin to Nova Scotians, politically, some key messages that they want to get out, and try to hide and avoid the real issues of where the Premier made commitments that he has failed to keep to the people of Nova Scotia.

[Page 738]

Mr. Speaker, we have heard questions today asking about the Premier and his PR campaign. I can tell you I, like yourself, sat here as a member of a minority government, sat here in this Chamber when we listened to the Premier lecture the previous government, and preach as to how taxpayers' money should not be used for political advertising. Yet we watch the very same Premier, on the eve of an election, start publicizing documents that make reference to the blue book on numerous occasions, a book which we all know is part of a Tory platform, not part of a government platform or a Nova Scotia platform.

Mr. Speaker, I have to tell you, our Party has been consistent. My predecessor, the honourable Donald Downe and myself have continued to point out the issues surrounding the debt of this province and how it is important to get control of that debt. This was a Premier who in 1999 said repeatedly, both in the blue book and in speeches, that his government would not allow the debt to grow. We have the famous quote from him, when he introduced the budget in 2001, where he said, as soon as we table this budget the debt will not grow from here on forward.

Those are the Premier's words. They're not mine; they're not the Minister of Finance's; they're not anyone else's in his government; they are those of the Premier, the same Premier whose face is pictured on the blue book. It is he who gave his commitment to Nova Scotians that he would not mortgage the future of its children or grandchildren, yet now we have a Minister of Finance and a Premier who stand in this House and say, we have borrowed, we are still borrowing and, by God, we're going to continue to borrow, and we offer no apologies.

Well, I say to them, Mr. Speaker, shame on them. Shame on the Minister of Finance who, as he leaves office, leaves a legacy of continued borrowing, a legacy that he learned quite well during the Buchanan days when he sat as a minister of a government that nearly bankrupted this very province. To now hear him say that he has no apologies for continuing to borrow, how convenient that they've been able to change the accounting principles. They now say that under GAAP that it's all right, as long as you balance the budget, it doesn't make a difference how much you add to the debt. Somebody else will take care of that problem. Somebody else will take care of the problem, that's the message he is giving.

Today we are on the eve of an election. We want to make sure that we get re-elected, so forget about the debt. Even the Premier now has briefing notes coming to him - advice to Premier, privileged and confidential from Rob Batherson - trying to find key messages for the Premier to give to avoid having to admit that he has broken his commitment that he made to Nova Scotians to not increase the debt. Yet have they increased it just by a little bit? Oh, no, $521 million and they now say in this budget they want to increase it by another $118 million. That is how much they want to increase the debt of this province.

[Page 739]

[4:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the reality is that the Minister of Finance is very quick to refer back to 1999 and refer to the previous administration. The fact is that from 1999 to today, that Minister of Finance had an additional billion dollars of revenue to invest in Nova Scotia from what was there in 1999. Yet even after a billion dollars, he is still borrowing $118 million onto the debt of this province.

This is a government that came in and said they would have their own school capital construction program - what a great plan they would have. Yet, today, what did we learn? After four years, today the Department of Education when asked to table the Tories capital school construction plan, the bureaucrats had to say, we're sorry, we have no plan to table.

Mr. Premier, you gave your word. You gave your word that you would have such a plan. You gave your word that Nova Scotia students, communities, teachers and school boards would clearly know what schools your government intended to build, replace and repair. Yet, today, four years later, the Department of Education officials had to say we're sorry, we have no plan to table. Once again, Mr. Speaker, a broken promise from this government and, more importantly, a broken promise from this Premier.

How sad it is to see the Premier, when even the embarrassment of his own memo from one of his primary political spinners in trying to tell him what messages to give to avoid accepting the fact that he has broken his word to Nova Scotians, the Premier tells the media that he was not embarrassed by that. Well, I can tell you that if he was not embarrassed, Nova Scotians are certainly disappointed, disappointed to see that a Premier who in 1999 made so many commitments and said trust me, I'm a family physician, trust me, I will provide you with honest government, open and accountable government, I will respect Nova Scotians, how sad to see that today the Premier goes home to bed at night and tries to memorize the briefing notes from Mr. Batherson and others rather than providing Nova Scotians with the honesty and with the open and accountable government that he said he would give in 1999.

I can tell you, Mr. Speaker, having gone back to my riding last weekend and having spoken to Nova Scotians, the shine is coming off the Premier, the veil is being lifted and the mask is coming off. Nova Scotians are now truly seeing what the priorities of this Premier are, and the priorities are not good government - the priorities are to get the Tory Party re-elected.

The Premier has clearly been given the marching orders from the Tory brass - put aside these commitments you've made, put aside the personal integrity you committed to Nova Scotians and make sure this Party gets re-elected, that's your number one objective. More and more when we see the Premier stand up and start to recite the words of Mr. Batherson, start to recite the verbal diarrhea that we have here and in so many other memos, at that point . . .

[Page 740]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think verbal diarrhea is an unparliamentary term and I think the member should retract that.

MR. SAMSON: Well, that's news to me, Mr. Speaker, but sure, if you say so, I will retract that. But the political spin we see continually coming, and more and more I have to tell you that watching the Premier in the news scrum yesterday with the media there, knowing the media had been given a copy of the Premier's advice memo that came from Mr. Batherson, the media had it in their hands and how amusing it was to watch that when they asked the questions contained in here to the Premier, he recited pretty much word for word of what was here in this advice memo.

What a shame, I have to say, Mr. Premier. What a shame to see today that a Premier who lectured the previous government, who preached to Nova Scotians, who said what a higher standard he would bring to public office, to now see that he has been resorting to nothing more than memorizing these political spin documents from Mr. Batherson and from others. I can tell you that Nova Scotians are seeing right through it and they're seeing what we've been telling them all along. We think they're seeing the real face that is coming behind this government. They're seeing the real face - we have a Premier here who has been able to set aside the commitments that he has made in the past, who is unwilling to admit that he has been unable to keep them. At the end of the day go home to your own riding and ask your own constituents, do you have better health care under John Hamm? Do you have better roads under John Hamm? Do you have a better community?

I can tell you what the answer is. It's unfortunate the Premier did not accept my challenge when he came to Richmond County on Saturday, to drive on some of the key roads throughout our county. I can certainly guarantee you he would not be sitting back in his chair today and saying, yes, that the roads have improved when he sees what he would have driven through in Richmond County.

It is a shame because when one looks at how much this government has taxed Nova Scotians. I was amazed to see that two cent increase in gas tax. Now, two cents doesn't sound like much - $25 million additional revenue brought in by that two cents. Yet, where has that money gone? Even with that $25 million additional funds, the minister says I have to go borrow $118 million to try to show that we are going to do something about roads here in this province. That is extremely unfortunate.

I want to say again, I know the issue was raised today and I can tell you I can't wait to go campaigning on the issue of who gets the $155 cheque and who doesn't. I can't wait to go into the seniors' homes, I can't wait to go see those who are disabled, I can't wait to go see the single mother with a couple of children, I can't wait to see minimum wage earners and say, the Tory Government under this Premier feels you're not good enough and you're not worthy of getting this rebate.

[Page 741]

Yet, the Tory Government wants them to pay higher gas tax, higher home heating fuel, higher insurance rates and all the other user fees. But, no, no, the Minister of Finance says you haven't contributed to the economy so you don't get the cheque. You're not good enough to get the cheque under the Premier's vision.

What you are seeing is another example of the right-wing agenda of this government. As I said before, the veil is being lifted and what we see under that veil is not very pretty when it comes to the Premier of this province. I have to tell you, as the budget debate goes on, as this House continues, it's only going to get worse because we are going to see the manipulation of the numbers, how they've been dressed up to try to convince Nova Scotians they have good government. How they are going to continue with the PR campaign that they have undertaken to use taxpayers' dollars to try to convince Nova Scotians and spin that they have gotten good government rather than this Premier simply saying, I don't need a PR campaign. I don't need spin doctors. I am going to provide good government and stand by my record.

That's what Nova Scotians thought they were getting in 1999. They really did. That's what the Premier said he would give them in 1999. I will hold my commitments, I don't need politically paid advertising, I'll defend my record, I'll stand by my record. How sad it is to see today that all of that is gone by the wayside. Now the Tory brass has told the Premier to stand aside, forget about those commitments, let us take over. This government is failing. This government hasn't met its commitments. We need a new strategy. We need the glossy brochures, we need the radio ads, we need to be sending out all the messages we can to convince Nova Scotians that they've gotten good government.

This is not something new. Last session, we tabled a report that came in where bureaucrats were told, you need to go out and sell the successes of this government. Yet, there was only one problem. It said you have to give the appearance of successes of this government. You have to try to convince they've been able to do this and you have to try to convince that they've done well here, rather than say, here's the record, here are the facts. This is what you're to rely on. It was spin. All about political spin.

Today we heard again during Question Period, this government, the government of this Premier is more interested in bringing into this province spin doctors than medical doctors. Shame on the Premier for that - a Premier who said he would fix health care with a Minster of Health who admitted yesterday, I wish I could have the entire budget of the province to put into health care. Is that a Premier who has fixed health care when his own minister says she would like to have $5 billion to put into the system because the system is out of control and it hasn't been fixed? There was your clear admission, one of your own senior ministers saying, we have no plan for health care, we wish we could throw the whole budget at it, and even then it wouldn't be fixed.

[Page 742]

That is very sad, because Nova Scotians in 1999, thought they were getting better than this; they really thought that the Premier would hold to his word, that the Premier could stand up and defend his own record, wouldn't need the spin doctors, wouldn't need the glossy brochures, wouldn't need to be reciting Rob Batherson's advice to Premier memos at night before he goes to bed and then reciting those word for word to Nova Scotians. It's unfortunate and I look forward, to continuing this debate and to the next campaign where Nova Scotians will be able to pass judgement on this Premier and his government's record in the last four years. Thank you, Mr. Speaker. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Finance.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the Opposition notified us yesterday that there was to be Resolution No. 26 which was tabled by the honourable member for Richmond. I read this resolution and I prepared a few notes to talk about it. Then I listened to the speech and of course the speech had nothing to do with the resolution at all. That means that I'll probably digress a bit from what the resolution is all about, because the fact is that he also got into other areas which I think are important to talk about.

One of the things he talked about is the commitment of the Premier to meet the commitments that we laid out in our blue book in the year 1999. Mr. Speaker, let's put the facts on the table; we were the only Party who basically came forward with a plan. We made a lot of commitments and the people of Nova Scotia listened to that and they supported our initiatives, Mr. Speaker.

One of the things that we talked about was bringing about fiscal responsibility to the province and balancing our budget and, I remember very clearly the member opposite and his colleagues saying when we started to show the magnitude of the problem - the magnitude was a $0.5 billion deficit - and when we moved forward after a couple of years they said we wouldn't be able to balance the budget. I remember very clearly that member and his caucus saying that we wouldn't be able to do it and that we wouldn't meet our commitment. Well, we did and the fact of the matter is that in this year we've tabled another balanced budget and we've also done a tax reduction. I remember those same members saying that we wouldn't be able to do that and we've done it also.

The other thing that he talked about in his discussion, or his comments, was he said that we're manipulating the numbers. I think he was talking about the fact that we'll massage the numbers. I have to say that I take offence to those comments because we are in conformity with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles. The fact is that when we took office that bunch, and he was a member of that Party, they kept things off the financial statements of the Province - things such as Sysco and things such as NSRL, which had huge losses - and when they tabled their budgets they didn't include that because that was bad news.

[Page 743]

One of the first things we did with our budget when we came in is that I, as the Minister of Finance with the support of our caucus and our Cabinet, brought in Generally Accepted Accounting Principles whereby we brought something called consolidated financial statements. Now, for people who are lay people who don't understand that, what that means is that all the operations of government would get grouped together and things such as NSRL and Sysco, which were huge money losers, were added and they were shown in the financial statements of the province.

I think that was a step forward. With regard to the NDP, I think I heard their Leader saying that he would continue with Generally Accepted Accounting Principles, that he believed in that. I haven't heard very much from the Liberal Party and maybe their Leader can have another statement that he may state but changes the week after. Let's just hope that he at least espouses that he would follow Generally Accepted Accounting Principles.

I should continue on this point, but the member Opposite also said something which I felt was very important. He talked about P3 schools and he mentioned that the Department of Education said they didn't have a plan for school construction. This is Learning for Life, it's a documentation that came up from the Department of Education which shows a long-term plan for school construction. It talks about the numbers of dollars which have been allocated for school construction in this province and it talks about the fact that in 2001-02 it had $78.9 million, $89.3 million the year after and this year $86 million for school construction. We are building schools different from the Liberal Party. They were building schools called P3, and the people of this province remember very clearly the mishandling of literally hundreds of millions of dollars of taxpayers' money by the Liberal Party.

[4:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the fact that they built those schools - and we all remember the Horton Highs and we could list a whole litany of schools that were built by the Liberal Government on P3 - now why were they building on P3? They were doing it because of the fact they could keep it off the books. They were going to be leasing these schools, and the payments would only start after they were constructed, so it showed up nowhere in the financial statements. Well, the first thing that we did as a government was we stopped that practice. We also said that they have to be recognized because the fact of the matter is the developers took very little risk and the taxpayers of this province took all the risk, or virtually all the risk, and as such those leases had to be shown as a capital asset and the liability shown on the financial statements of the Province of Nova Scotia.

Now the member opposite said that we have added to the debt since we have taken office, and that is true. The fact of the matter is we also told taxpayers that we would balance the budget in the third year. The fact is that we had huge deficits in the first few years, obviously we would be adding to the deficit - this is a no-brainer. The other thing that came up is that in the number that he refers to that we have added to the debt, one of the things that

[Page 744]

we did is we added huge amounts of schools that were announced by the previous government that had to be added in because the developers weren't taking any of the risk, and as such they had to be shown on our financial statements.

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Party, until just recently, was still saying that they wanted to do P3 schools. Lately, with the publicity that has come out, where schools can't even run small fairs or cafeterias and get the money whereby they can give it to the students, what happens is, the situation is . . .

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. There were documents tabled today that would suggest quite to the contrary what the Minister of Finance is trying to perpetuate on the people of Nova Scotia here today. It's totally erroneous, what the minister is saying.

MR. SPEAKER: That's a dispute between two members, not a point of order.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the facts speak for themselves. You ask the parents in those schools why they couldn't raise money because they were prohibited. You ask those parents; they will tell you that they were disadvantaged. You ask those people in those communities why they couldn't hold meetings because they had to pay huge fees; they are disadvantaged. Don't say to the people of this province that they weren't disadvantaged by P3, because they were.

This government changed it. We went to the traditional manner to build schools. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I will say that we did keep the construction of standardized schools in the construction. In other words, if there were models out there that we could incorporate so we wouldn't have to redesign schools again, then we took it in. Today you see many schools being built in the same manner, and that is to save on the architects' fees. That is one thing that we did incorporate. If there was something good, we took it; if there was something bad, we did not repeat it. What we did not repeat is the mistakes.

Today I hear that the Liberal Leader, Mr. Graham, is announcing that he is not supporting P3. It took a long time for the Liberal Party to understand the error of their ways (Interruptions) but finally today, hallelujah, they have seen the light.

Mr. Speaker, in regard to other issues that were brought on the table, one of which is that the member opposite said, he talked about, are things better today? He said the Premier said, is health care better? Mr. Speaker, it is better. Is Education better in this province? You're darn right it's better. Are the roads better in this province today? You're darn right they are. The fact of the matter is the member opposite has tried to portray the Premier and the government as not being fiscally responsible. We will compare our record and the amount of debt we have added during our administration versus what that bunch did

[Page 745]

in the six years preceding, anytime, anyplace, anywhere. The bottom line is that we have made progress.

Mr. Speaker, in regard to the fact that the debt is increasing, the member opposite is correct. It is going up. The fact is the debt in this year, we are adding to it. Why are we doing that? The reason we are doing that is that we want to construct, in this province, assets or fixed assets which we believe are important. The member opposite spoke about the fact that we are building schools, you're darn right we are. We're spending over $80 million in this year on new school construction. (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, are we building roads? You're darn right we are, and we're spending $106 million in this budget on roads. Are we spending on hospital construction? You're darn right and we are also spending on hospital construction in this budget, I don't have that number in front of me, but by memory. The fact of the matter is those will be lasting assets and I do agree, I do acknowledge that it will add to the debt. (Interruption) I don't disagree with that and to say that I'm not at all concerned would be an understatement. I would much rather see the debt actually going down than going up, but we believe that the increase is a manageable one and the fact of the matter is that our economy has continued to grow year after year.

People have said, do you have a debt management plan? Mr. Speaker, I believe that we do and the fact of the matter is I will list three different aspects that are there. The first one that we have is that we have made major initiatives in reducing the risk to our taxpayers in regard to our debt. On August 16, 1999, when we took office, 51 per cent of our debt was in foreign currency - that is in Japanese yen, or U.S. dollars, or in pound sterling.

Mr. Speaker, since that time we have made great progress. I have to compliment the staff of the Department of Finance of the Debt Investment Section for their initiative. They have done a great job and the men and women who work there deserve our recognition and our thanks. As we stand today, the amount of debt that is in foreign currencies is less than 20 per cent, and it's 19.7 per cent or 19.8 per cent. Now, that is a major increase. That is a major point of our debt management plan because what we have done is limit the risk.

The second part we have done, Mr. Speaker, is we have also grown our economy. The fact that our economy has grown means our capacity to service our debt, to manage our debt has improved. On March 31, 2000, a few months after we came to office, debt to GDP ratio was at 46.4 per cent and as the fiscal year ended just a few days ago, our debt to GDP ratio was 42.5 per cent. At the end of this fiscal year, the projection show that our debt to GDP ratio will be 41.1 per cent.

Mr. Speaker, for those who say, well, what does net direct debt to GDP ratio mean? What it is is our capacity to deal with our debt. In other words, for an analogy, if someone has a home and has a mortgage, can he service that mortgage? Of course, his income will

[Page 746]

determine whether he can service that mortgage properly. Our GDP of our province is basically the income of the province versus the debt that we have. So we have made marked improvement in that regard.

Mr. Speaker, a few other issues that we have done which is very important that I think should be recognized. We sold the assets of NSRL and when we sold it, there were many people who said we shouldn't have sold it. The NDP said that and so did the Liberal Party. The NSRL was opening the province to huge risks because to stay in the offshore gas and oil industry is a big-risk game and you have to be very good at it. To give an analogy, just to drill one offshore well is sometimes $70 million to $80 million. This province cannot put the taxpayers' money at risk in doing so. When we sold that, we sold those assets in the vicinity of $380 million to $390 million.

Mr. Speaker, many governments would have been tempted to say, well, why don't we put that on roads. It wasn't an election year. Why don't we spend more this year? Now, our government showed prudence. It showed that it had the taxpayers' interests at heart and that we should manage the debt. We did not go on a spending spree when we sold NSRL and that is to the credit of people such as our Premier and also our Cabinet, that we showed the resolve that we were headed in the right direction. So just those three examples of what I have just listed are all positive for how we manage our debt.

To go back to the increase that we had in this year, which is $118 million, I will still say, Mr. Speaker, that that number is manageable and I will say for two reasons, one of which is that the schools we have announced are very much needed. We're concerned about the health and the quality of environment that our children are in, in school, and for that, you know, I think we all agree and we've been asked by all members of this House, all three Parties, to do improvements. I can go through resolutions and questions here as to when we're going to fix schools, whether it's Sir John A. Macdonald or whether it was Halifax West or other schools throughout Nova Scotia, and we are responding in a responsible manner.

The other thing that has happened, Mr. Speaker, is that we have also made investments in our roads and we have announced this year a bridge replacement program. There are those who would say that you should not invest in capital projects, that we should defer them to a later date. In a business application, I am concerned that the costs to repair those assets, if we wait much longer, will actually increase dramatically. So I look at this as an investment in the infrastructure of our highways which will benefit our citizens, will benefit many of our rural communities; will benefit metro. The fact of the matter is, there is considerable freight going in and out of this hub and we need those roads to keep our economy going.

[Page 747]

So these are all assets, Mr. Speaker, which will serve Nova Scotia's economy and its citizens well and for that, I thank you for your time and the members' indulgence during my comments. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, as I listen to the debate back and forth, I have a hard time telling the difference between these other two Parties in the House because (Interruption) when the Liberals were on that side, they were saying exactly the same things that that minister is saying; when that minister was on this side, he was saying exactly the same things that they are now saying so it is back and forth, back and forth, and nothing ever changes.

Bringing it back to the actual resolution that is before us, Mr. Speaker, sometimes I wonder if the Premier really understands the public finances in Nova Scotia. This is the Premier who said in the last election campaign that he saw no reason why the health system could not be operated on $1.5 billion. Of course now, just four short years later, we are at $2.1 billion and the only people who believe that Nova Scotians are more satisfied with their health system are the people sitting on that side of the House. They say it, but I wonder sometimes if they really believe it. It is certainly not what I am hearing in my constituency.

So if the Premier says you can do it on $1.5 billion, but he really needs $2.1 billion and counting, did the Premier not understand the health system when he was running in the last election or did he understand it and say something that he knew wasn't true? Those are your only two choices. This is the same Premier who said that he could fix the health system for $46.5 million; $46.5 million which the Premier said that he would find by cutting out administrative waste in the health system. It was all he needed he said to fix the health care system. Now he has spent another $600 million and counting.

So you have to ask yourself again - you've only got two choices: either the Premier didn't understand what he was talking about or he did understand what he was talking about and said something that he knew not to be true. It is the same thing when you get to the debt which is the subject matter of the resolution before the House today. The Premier said that under his government the debt of the province would stop growing. Now he said that and he said that during the election, and only just a couple of years ago, but the problem is, it's not true. It's not true. So does the Premier, again, not understand public finance or does he really understand it but say things that he knows not to be true? Those are the only choices that we have.

The thing that this government seems to want people not to understand is that we are losing sight of our objective because the overall objective here is not to deal with the debt; it's not to deal with the deficit; it is to reduce the amount of money that this province sends out of province to banks and bond holders in interest payments on the debt every year. That

[Page 748]

is the prize that we have to keep our eyes on. Now, when you leave aside all of the public relations spin of the government, what's really going on? I'm just going to use the government's own figures, Mr. Speaker, to lay out what's really going on before I get on to what it is that we have to do about it, what we can do about it.

The truth of the matter is that in 2002-03, it is forecast that net debt servicing costs - in other words, interest on the debt - is going to take 16.3 per cent - 16.3 cents of every dollar that we spend in Nova Scotia is going to interest on the debt. That is far too high. It's higher I think than any other province. If there is another province that's higher, it's not by much - the average is around 10 cents out of every dollar. We're sending 16.3 cents out of the province and that's only to pay the interest. That's not even to pay down the debt by one dime.

[4:45 p.m.]

If this government's forecast proves to be true, that number is going to go down to 15.8 per cent - if the numbers are true. It's a debate for another day whether the numbers presented by the government's budget are credible, but the problem is, and these are the government's own numbers from Page B22 of the budget documents. The year after that it's going up to 16.9 per cent and staying there. The amount of money we are sending out of the province the year after next is going to head up to over $1 billion. Higher than it's ever been in the history of Nova Scotia.

The percentage we're sending out of the province is going up to 17.1 per cent - the highest it's been on this chart, don't know if it's the highest in the history of the province, but it's actually going up. What this government wants Nova Scotians to believe is that they've got the debt and debt servicing costs under control. But they don't, they don't. Their own numbers say so.

The debt is not going down. It's not even staying steady, it's going up. The amount of money that we send out of the province every year is not going down, it's going up. The percentage of the annual budget that we're sending out of province in interest on the debt is not going down. It's going up. But they don't want Nova Scotians to know that. They want Nova Scotians to believe something that is simply not true. That, more than anything, would explain why this government is now spending enough money for every single minister in the Cabinet to have four communications advisors. What's more important to this government right now is not what's true, it's what you can make people believe is true. Let's keep in mind what the prize is here. The prize is making the amount of money we're sending out to banks and bond holders go down.

What can we do about it? This is a question often asked of us in this Legislature and as usual, the NDP has good, constructive ideas. I notice that the minister said that the government soon, before the election, is going to introduce a debt management plan which

[Page 749]

I thought was most peculiar. Because he introduced a debt management plan a few months ago and he had a big news conference down in the foyer of Province House and said, here it is, he waved it around and said here is our debt management plan and now he says he's going to introduce another one.

I'm a bit puzzled about what's going on. Apparently, without his telling us so, the first one proved not to be good enough. Because of course, there was no debt management plan at all. All it was was a few bar charts showing that the debt to GDP ratio was going down and the minister said that was good enough.

Like most of the figures in the budget, the bar chart showing that the debt to GDP ratio goes down depends on a number of assumptions which are questionable. John MacLeod, the money editor of the Halifax Daily News, no friend to the NDP, was the first one after the budget to raise questions about the government growth targets. If those growth targets don't prove to be true, if they prove to be too rosy, as the business editor of the Daily News says, then guess what? Even that figure, the debt to GDP ratio, isn't going to go down. It's going to go up. But that's not going to be apparent to people until after the election and all this government cares about now is what can you make people believe up to election day. It doesn't matter that the veil is going to be lifted the day afterwards or a month afterward or six months afterward, all that matters is the impression you can leave with people up until voting day.

The first thing we need is a debt target. We all need to agree on what a reasonable level of debt is. We don't even have that. We haven't even had that debate in Nova Scotia because, let's be clear, some debt's okay. Like many Nova Scotians, I have personal debt, I owe money on my house but I have an offsetting asset. I owe money on my car, but I have an offsetting asset. It's okay when you have assets to have debt, the question is how much. The tragedy of Nova Scotia public finances is that we have debt of well over $11 billion and assets of under $3 billion. That's a problem, because when you add up my house and my car, the value of my assets is more than the amount that I owe on those assets, so in debt terms I'm doing alright.

The Province's problem is it owes nearly $12 billion and has only $3 billion in assets so we have almost $9 billion not accounted for, gone astray. Where has it gone? Where did John Buchanan spend it? Where did he hide it? That's where the debt problem arose, the Liberals tried when they came into office to deal with it and couldn't and by the time the MacLellan years came around they'd completely given up on any attempt to control the debt. This crowd came in and they hacked and slashed and the Auditor General said they did it without any idea of the consequences of their hacking and slashing, that's a topic for another day as well. They still, despite hacking and slashing on the one hand and raising taxes and user fees by $300 million on the other hand, they still haven't got the debt under control. The debt is still going up.

[Page 750]

We need to come to a consensus about what is a reasonable level of debt and I would put out for discussion, as we did in April 2002, two possible targets. One is to reduce the debt to GDP ratio to 20 per cent by the year 2020. Now that's an ambitious target and what it would take is a payment on the debt each and every year between now and 2020 of $200 million. Leaving all aside the minister's flim-flammery about some bucks are not equal to other bucks and capital bucks are okay, but operating bucks are not okay and that it's okay if the debt's growing as long as you're spending it on capital bucks. A dollar of debt is a dollar of debt. It doesn't matter where it comes from. What we need to do is have the amount of our debt go down by $200 million each and every year from 2003 to the year 2020. Then we'll reduce the debt to GDP ratio to 20 per cent. That's ambitious.

A slightly less ambitious target, but one that probably is more appropriate, is to reduce the amount of money that we send out of the province in interest to 10 per cent by the year 2020. That would bring it down to the provincial average and it means that only 10 cents on the dollar would be sent out of the province by the year 2020. In order to meet that target, just to meet the provincial average, requires a payment on the debt each and every year, of $100 million. (Interruption) Even that is an ambitious target, Mr. Speaker. Even that's an ambitious target.

The Minister of - what is he the minister of now? - the Minister of Justice is barking something across the way there and I didn't quite catch it, although if he wants to join the debate he's free to do that.

So, reducing it even to the provincial average is an ambitious target but, Mr. Speaker, what we have to do is come to some kind of a social consensus on the target and then we have to come to some kind of social consensus on a plan of how to get there. A good model for that is what Robert Stanfield did with the Voluntary Planning Board when he came into office in 1956. What he did was he took all the social stakeholders and brought them together in a way that there was province-wide buy-in on his plan of economic development. Although we're a long way away from those days and the Voluntary Planning Board is quite a different beast now than it was then, that model of respectful, province-wide consultation across the province is one that we need to follow again.

We need to have a commitment to looking at both sides of the ledger, in particular people have to feel that the tax system is fair. I'm not the one who's going to have to stand on the doorstep in this election and explain to 300,000 taxpaying Nova Scotians why they are not going to get any money out of this government. The members on that side are going to have to do that, but it's exactly that kind of inequity that makes people lose faith in the fairness of the tax system. The final part of what we need is a commitment to openness, a commitment to tell the truth about provincial finances, a commitment to regularly publicizing truthful information and not simply spending money on politically-motivated advertising. That's the way forward. That's where we need to go and that's how we can get there. Thank you.

[Page 751]

MR. SPEAKER: On a point of order, the Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Is the debate over on this?

MR. SPEAKER: No.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and speak on Resolution No. 26 dealing with the financial issues of the province. I listened very attentively to the dissertation put forth by the Minister of Finance and I was sitting there and I was thinking to myself, well, he waxed pretty good eloquence - it sounded pretty good and to someone with an untrained ear, it probably was.

Now, look at the reality, Mr. Speaker. We saw what happened last year with the former Minister of Community Services. He announced over $60 million of funding for his department but forgot to tell the people of Nova Scotia it was all federal money; yes, federal money. This year the present Minister of Community Services receives $12 million-plus from the federal government. (Interruption) I'm sorry, $11 million, and they only spend $2 million. They're sitting on $9 million of federal money. In other words, we don't even know what they're going to do with it, aside from play politics which my colleague, the honourable member for Clare, exposed earlier today.

Let's look at the Minister of Finance's comments about the P3 process. How ironic, this is on the agenda today for the government. What a great way to divert attention away from the fact that this government is downloading on the municipalities the cost of education - a 5 per cent increase in property taxes because of this Minister of Finance's budget. Why wouldn't they want to talk about an issue that was debated two years ago and three years ago before the Public Accounts Committee and before the Legislature and has been thoroughly dealt with. But, no, they have to continue to regurgitate matters of the past so as to use it as a smokescreen to take the people's attention away from the reality of the situation. This government is downloading on the property taxpayers of Nova Scotia the cost of education in this budget.

That's what's happening, Mr. Speaker. It's a sham what this government is trying to do. The Minister of Finance says, oh, how great thou art, am I. Well, you wonder why we would be suspect. I will table part of the minister's budget from just two years ago which there's an error in calculation, over a $5.29 million error in his calculations. On Page 64 of the Supplement to the Public Accounts on debt servicing costs, the minister has indicated that the total cost is $1,020,616,823.70, but when you do the calculations, he's off by $5,229,919.94. He can't even add. He can't even add. I will table the document. It's his own document. You wonder why we would be suspect of what this minister would bring before the floor of the Legislature. He can't even add.

[Page 752]

[5:00 p.m.]

We saw what he did by deliberately and methodically leaving out of the budget almost $60 million of health care dollars that should have been included in this budget. Why did they do that, pray tell? I wonder if it's because of politics. I wonder if it's the minister's way of using federal dollars to play politics to secure votes in the next election.

Now I don't think he would do that. He's not going to re-offer, but I wonder if the gentleman sitting to his left may have nudged him a bit and said, we've got to make this look really good, we've got a blue pamphlet floating around the province here, in everybody's household, saying that we're going to give them back a rebate. Well, Mr. Speaker, not too many people took kindly to that type of pork-barrel politics; that's a thing of the past. For the Premier or any of the backroom boys in the Tory Party to think that that's the way that they're going to win this election, it's not going to work. It's not going to work.

We will just give a few examples. We had the member for Yarmouth today . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Good member.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, he thought he was a good member. He got up in the Public Accounts Committee today and he demanded to know how was the cost of the P3 schools put forth. Representatives from the Department of Education said the costing was done on a per-square-footage basis. Well it's lowest tender, right? Yes, it is, they answered. Well the lowest tender for such-and-such a project was $5 million, right? Yes. But yet the final cost was $8 million, why the overrun? Well, quite simply, we increased the size, we increased the square footage.

Mr. Speaker, something that all the stakeholders asked for, all the stakeholders except for that member. He didn't want to hear the truth. He didn't want to hear the fact that the people in the community, the parents, the teachers, the students, the school board, the municipality, they all accepted that but, see, he couldn't. He tried to make politics out of nothing. Was it a perfect process? No, it was not. It was not, and they indicated that. But those representatives who came here today said that they received good value for the taxpayers' money. Is that what the Tories are trying to do, set a smokescreen? Are they trying to set up a smokescreen so they can start closing more schools in rural Nova Scotia? Are they trying to set us up so they can find an excuse to start closing some of these P3 schools? Maybe that's what's behind all this.

Mr. Speaker, that's another way of closing more schools and downloading the cost of education on the municipalities. They talk about what a great job they're doing. Well, let's look at The Evening News down in New Glasgow on October 11, 2002, where the provincial government put $200,000 to establish a truck stop, a rest stop they call it. Well what about all the disabled people in Nova Scotia? What about the seniors who find it difficult to operate

[Page 753]

these self-service operations? It's a self-service operation, there's nothing there to help the disadvantaged of Nova Scotia. Anyone who wants to go to New Glasgow would ask, why would you spend $200,000 of the taxpayers' money and not try to help as many Nova Scotians as possible? I don't think that's fair. I think every MLA in this Legislature can identify with constituents who are not in a position to get out of their vehicle for one reason or another and be able to receive service at that service station.

Who was the government trying to help? Was it trying to help the people of Nova Scotia or just another corporate friend? Is that the dogma, the conservative, the neo-conservative dogma that's penetrating and pervasive through that entire Conservative caucus? I hope not. The odd time there is a flicker of light over there, and we get right excited, but then all of a sudden a little breeze comes along and it goes out. Do you know why? Because Rob Batherson writes out another little script for the Premier and he has to follow it. He goes home, has another nightmare, and comes back in and he recites what he was advised to memorize. (Interruption) Well, that's just about what it's coming to.

Mr. Speaker, I recall when the Premier was on this side of the House, he took great glee when the injured workers were protesting day in and day out, 24 hours a day, at the Premier's Office and, you know, recently the Premier was in court, our good Premier, and then on Saturday, March 22, 2003, Hamm tells court suspect is interfering. In other words, somebody was boycotting in front of his constituency office and do you know what he said? He's sick and tired of sit-ins. He's sick of them even though he acknowledges he encouraged, and I will table this document for the enlightenment of members of the Progressive Conservative caucus, even though he did it when he was on this side of the floor. What a change of mindset now that he's over there. See, that goes to the Rumsfeld plan - let's control. (Interruption)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I have started to realize how bad they were when they were on this side. They were worse than I thought they were when they were over here. Some of them should have stayed here where they couldn't inflict damage on the people of Nova Scotia. I will table that document. I feel bad for the Premier. He must be having nightmares because that's not the honest John that we would like to think he is, but then again we had an honest John once before and look what happened to the province. It went to the verge of bankruptcy. It went to the verge of bankruptcy and what happened when the Liberals got in power in 1993, when they went to see the bonding agencies down in New York, what were they told, or what were they asked? Where's the lobster? That's what our predecessor always provided us. They didn't ask about what they were doing with the books or foreign debt. They wanted to know where the lobster was because they were giving everything away. They gave everything but the kitchen sink and that's the sad part about it.

Mr. Speaker, when members of the Progressive Conservative caucus were on this side of the floor, they just berated the government every chance they had and especially on the issue of power rates. We received a recent flyer - and I know we're not allowed to use

[Page 754]

props - but this is a recent flyer that we received from Nova Scotia Power - rate increases. What has the government done and said about that? Not a thing, not a thing. Why? Because they're gouging the taxpayers through the provincial portion of the HST - another silent hit on the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, on home heating fuel, on gas for propane stoves, it went up another 6 cents per litre effective March 3rd of this year. What did the government say? Nothing. Where are all the cheerleaders and the backbenchers? It was great when they were talking about fishing licences. Oh, yes, we want free fishing licences, but we don't care if your heating bill goes up. We don't care if your light bill goes up. We don't care if you're paying more at the gas pumps and if we do, we're not allowed to say. We're not allowed to say because, you know, the Minister of Finance is playing this smoking screens game with the budget. He's trying to make people believe that because of all the other expenditures and all the other savings, that in the final analysis, the government isn't getting any extra money.

Well, Mr. Speaker, you would have to be blind, deaf and dumb to believe what that minister says on that issue and I don't mean that in the negative sense. I don't mean that in a negative derogatory fashion and if it came across that way, I apologize, but you would have to be completely . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West is struggling along there a little bit. He referenced fishing licences and I want to say and give the honourable member the opportunity to condemn a measure that this government brought in. If he wants to re-think this issue, he referenced the fact that fishing licences were somehow a burden on Nova Scotians and I want to point out that it was this government that lowered freshwater fishing licence fees for resident seniors in the Province of Nova Scotia by $11.50, when they put in a rate of . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West. You have about 10 seconds left.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, he was the member that said it was going to be free. Nothing is free coming from that Tory caucus. They've gouged and gouged and gouged.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The time allotted for the resolution has expired.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 417.

Res. No. 417, PC Gov't: Funding - Inadequacy - notice given Apr. 7/03 - (Mr. W. Gaudet)

[Page 755]

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I will read the operative clause of Resolution No. 417 please. "Therefore be it resolved that it has been the Conservative Government that has not provided its fair share of funding for Nova Scotians, not the federal government."

Mr. Speaker, when you look at this year's housing budget, the federal government is increasing its funding by $11.2 million and the provincial government is cutting its funding for housing by $8.6 million. Obviously, many people are asking what is going on? The federal government is investing $11.2 million more in our housing programs and at the same time the province is cutting their level of funding.

This provincial government has a bad habit. It seems when the federal government puts money forward, invests money in programs in Nova Scotia, the province takes some of their own funding out of the provincial programs. We've seen this happening not just with the housing program, but we've seen this happening with the federal Millennium Scholarships back in 1999. On the one side we saw the federal government trying to help our post-secondary students and at the same time we see the province cutting out our Loan Remission Program two years ago.

This Tory Government two years ago cut the entire Loan Remission Program that had $10 million in it for our students here at home. Now, guess what? With an election call around the corner, last week the Tory Government decided to announce a $5.1 million Loan Remission Program; mind you, available only to students this Fall. You really have to wonder, what kind of political games are we playing here? Back in 1999 the feds pumped money into the Millennium Scholarship program. The provincial government cut back their $10 million in our Loan Remission Program and on the eve of an election, the Tory Provincial Government announces $5.1 million. Well, there's still another $5 million somewhere. Now, the provincial government decides to cut back $9 million out of our housing budget.

There was an article that appeared on Monday, "Province holding on to federal housing money" When the Minister of Community Services was asked, in defending this Tory Government decision, the minister indicated, we might put more money in the housing program as the year progresses. All I can say is if you believe that, I don't think that the people of Nova Scotia will buy this. Maybe if the Minister of Community Services had said, we, as a Tory Government, need to find $68 million to help pay for these $155 cheques that people will be getting, probably before the election, and my government needs to find some money somewhere and maybe by taking this $9 million out of housing to help pay for these cheques, maybe, Mr. Speaker, the people of Nova Scotia would have believed them.

[Page 756]

[5:15 p.m.]

I just want to make a short reference to the Budget Speech, Page 11, "In addition, Mr. Speaker, the province will provide a $155 Nova Scotia Taxpayer Refund to all Nova Scotians who pay provincial income taxes . . . As many as 438,000 Nova Scotians will receive this refund."

Mr. Speaker, we know there are approximately 300,000 Nova Scotians who will not be getting this so-called rum-bottle-cheque. Yet, these 300,000 Nova Scotians have been paying higher insurance premiums that this provincial government has benefitted. This government has increased gas taxes, again this government has benefitted. These 300,000 Nova Scotians have been paying higher oil prices this winter and yet, again, this government has benefitted from it. Then when you look at the last four years with all the increased fees that have been introduced by this Tory Government, along the way, these 300,000 people have, again, been paying their fair share. Yet, when the Speech from the Throne was delivered, not one word was said about these 300,000 folks.

Mr. Speaker, I am sure you have been asked, just like I have and I am sure all members of this House have been asked, where is the government going to find this $68 million to pay for these 438,000 $155 cheques that will be sent out? Where? Where are they going to find the money? So you have to assume the money has to come from somewhere. It is either from the Minister of Fisheries, the Minister of Education, the Minister of Community Services, the money has to come from somewhere. When you look at this type of cut, then people will make up their own minds about where this money is coming from.

The people of Nova Scotia will not be fooled by this latest political gimmick that this government has come up with. I tried to imagine, Mr. Speaker, what the Cabinet Table was like for a moment when the budget was being developed and it all became clear to me. We have the Premier and the Minister of Finance at the head of the table saying we need to find $68 million for our 155 rum bottles. Any volunteers? The first to put his hand up, maybe, was the Minister of Community Services. But at the end of the day, who pays?

This afternoon we had individuals from the RRSS here, Mr. Speaker, trying to bring their story to the attention of the people of Nova Scotia. Again, those most vulnerable in society will probably have to pay.

Again, in housing, those most vulnerable will probably have to pay. You know, $9 million that could go towards social housing, $9 million that could go towards repairs and construction, put on hold by this minister and by this government. Mr. Speaker, there is real need out there. Real need. I would dare to say that there probably isn't one MLA in this House who couldn't stand up and say that in the last month I didn't have a call from a constituent seeking support through housing programs. I'm sure there is not one.

[Page 757]

Mr. Speaker, if this is not an indication of the need that's out there, I don't know what it is. I truly don't know what it is. For every one of these calls, I daresay there's probably a lot more who are in need. Interestingly enough, today I asked the minister to table his plan for the social housing money. Show us where he's going to spend it whenever he gets around to doing it. What do we see? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. It was like talking to a brick wall. There is no shame, there was no remorse, we just saw an eager beaver of a minister who was willing to hold money back in his department to help pay for this $68 million promise.

Mr. Speaker, it was not that long ago, in fact it was back during the winter when a government document showed that this government was more concerned with budgets than they were about people. Well, here's his chance today. This minister could release that $9 million and become an example of this Cabinet, a caring example for Nova Scotia, a member who cares about the needs of the people of this province. Yet, I fail to understand why a minister, let alone a government, wouldn't do this. What's wrong, you have to really ask yourself. Aren't there any good photo ops when you put money into housing repairs or upgrading housing units? Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Community Services.

HON. DAVID MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I am delighted to be able to get up today and speak on this resolution. I want to thank the member opposite for inspiring me, because he brought up a number of topics that are near and dear to my heart. One thing that the member opposite brought up, which in fact the Premier demonstrated today as the statesman that he is, was giving the federal government credit for their contribution to the things that they do bring to the provincial government. I want to assure the member opposite that that is recognized by this government, and the federal government does provide about a third of the tax revenues, it's dropping. Nova Scotia is becoming more prosperous and more self-sufficient and with that it means we are less dependent on the federal government.

However, Mr. Speaker, the federal government does contribute to some very important programs across the country. Early childhood development is one. I would like to point out that the former Minister of Community Services was very careful to point that out in his press releases. They were given credit. Just recently, about a month ago, I had the pleasure of coming to an agreement with the federal minister responsible for HRDC, and it was an early learning and child care program. Yes, it is funded by the federal government and delivered by the provinces, and in our press release I specifically made sure that that was clear - give them credit.

Mr. Speaker, today there was a momentous occasion in the Minister of Environment and Labour's constituency, there was a great announcement for the people not only of the Annapolis Valley but everybody who uses Highway No. 101. The Premier went out of his way to recognize that the federal government, because it is part of the national highway system, did provide 50 per cent of the funding. What a gentleman. There was no federal

[Page 758]

representative there, but the Premier made sure that the federal government did get credit for it, and he mentioned the two ministers who also assisted in making that happen, that being Minister Thibeault and Minister Rock. So while the member opposite suggests that we're perhaps not giving the federal government their recognition, I would suggest that the Premier's actions today and I would suggest the actions of my colleagues in the past would suggest that was not the case.

We're also talking about the prosperity of Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia is becoming a healthier, more prosperous and self-sufficient province, and that, in part, I would suggest is because of some of the good things that have happened under this government. We are now generating more of our own revenues, which gives us more independence and allows us to be less dependent on the federal government.

Let's talk about some of the good things that are going on in housing. Our government is committed to improving the health, the well-being and self-sufficiency of Nova Scotians by providing affordable housing to low-income families, seniors and individuals who have mental or physical challenges. That is very important to us as a government and I think it's very important to Nova Scotians. This is done through the housing division of the Department of Community Services. We in fact offer a wide range of housing programs and services to assist close to 20,000 Nova Scotian households each year. These include rental housing accommodation and rent supplements.

Every MLA in this room knows about the Rent Supplement Program. For those who come into public housing, instead of having to pay a fixed rental amount which may be beyond their means to afford, they only pay a percentage of their income. If their income is, say, only $1,000 a month then they pay accordingly. Depending on their income it's either 30 or 25 per cent. There are other good things through this program, I think every MLA in this room has made use of housing services for constituents in need. It is a wonderful thing to be able to do that for those constituents and they are so appreciative. This is indeed a wonderful program.

Also, grants and loans for home repairs and renovations. I'm sure every constituent here can think of times when they have had a telephone call that somebody's well has gone dry or there's a problem with their septic system or their roof is leaking and who came to their rescue but our grant and loan program through the Department of Community Services' housing division. Indeed, speaking to the previous speaker's point, that is a cost-shared program between the federal and the provincial governments and I would like to acknowledge the federal government's not only participation in that, but the wise decision that the minister made by extending that with the recent federal budget for another three years.

[Page 759]

Also, we provide mortgages to people. Sometimes, if they qualify under certain circumstances there is no need for a down payment, in other words an equity position. That is an incredible thing to be able to offer to a constituent who otherwise would have no chance of being able to afford their own house.

Mr. Speaker, I would now like to talk a little bit about the Social Housing Agreement which leads, actually, directly to explain how it was that we were able to do this this year. Under the Social Housing Agreement, which was signed incidentally in 1997, not during the term of this government, between the federal and provincial governments - and I guess specifically it's between Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the housing corporation, the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation - the province agreed to assume responsibility for administering the province's social housing programs. We took them over but it was on the understanding that the federal government live up to its existing commitments that are in place. These run over, run out to actually 2035. So the federal government is committed to living up to those obligations. Each year the federal government provides the funding for these programs directly to the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation. The province then draws from the housing corporation the funding to cover the costs for providing these various programs such as the rental income supplement. After we get the 30 per cent or 25 per cent rental contribution from our tenants, the municipal and provincial contributions have all been applied. The balance then comes from the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation.

Mr. Speaker, partly as a result of declining interest rates, the cost of providing these programs has dropped under the administration of the province. There is an account called the deferred federal contribution account which actually, as of 2000-2001, had accumulated a surplus of $14-some million roughly.

[5:30 p.m.]

In addition to that, Mr. Speaker, this government has twice, not once but twice, made additional contributions to housing - once at the end of the 2001-02 fiscal year for approximately $5 million and again last year another $5 million concluding 2002-03. So you see, due to the efficient management within the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation creating a surplus, plus additional payments by this government, we have accumulated about a $21 million surplus. It is that that allowed us to draw from it to cover the balance of our housing budget, leaving a balance of approximately $19 million in surplus at the end of 2003-04.

This fluctuation in the surplus account gives the impression that the federal government has increased its contribution to housing, Mr. Speaker. This is not accurate. I repeat that is not accurate. It's simply a function of the flexibility in our long-term agreement with the federal government, that is between Central Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the Nova Scotia Housing Development Corporation, that enables us to reduce or increase the

[Page 760]

amount of funds in this surplus account as required. Setting the record straight, I would like to say that, first, again, the province has not received an increase in federal funding for housing this year. That is not the case. The agreements remain the same. Second, all federal funding provided to the corporation can only be used for housing programs and not other social programs.

AN HON. MEMBER: A good clarification.

MR. MORSE: Affordable housing that is safe, appropriate and sustainable is a priority for this province. We have demonstrated our commitment to housing year after year by injecting additional funding into this important program whenever possible. This includes an extra $10 million over and above the regular funding that the province has contributed to housing over the past two years as well as other initiatives such as the Canada-Nova Scotia Affordable Housing Program, our commitment there, the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program and the Supporting Community Partnership Initiative to combat homelessness. Just a few thoughts to set the record straight.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I take my place to rise and speak on Resolution No. 417. I do want to say that there is surely something that does occur when the members move to the government side of this Legislative Assembly. There must be something emanating from the floor, there must be some euphoric lift as a result of winning the election campaign that just simply keeps them at an all-time high for a four-year period and then, all of a sudden, they slide down and they become socially responsible citizens again.

Mr. Speaker, I want to say that because I want to go back to 1993 when, in fact, the federal Liberal Government came to power and when the federal Liberal Government came to power, it in fact said that it was going to get out of the housing business and, in fact, it simply did that. In 1993 to 1998 the Liberal Government was in power in the Province of Nova Scotia. During their period of time they said nothing. They did nothing to go and talk to the federal government with respect to their program in public housing. As a matter of fact, I just want to go back to a period of time. Remember that the Liberal Government was in power from 1993 through to 1998. During that period of time the Department of Housing provided reports and they had a report called the Provincial Housing Strategy, A Summary Regional Discussion, that came forward in December 1996. Then again in July 1997 they provided a report called New Direction for Social Housing. Again in 1998, just before the election campaign, the Liberals provided another report from the department.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. It's very difficult to hear the speaker. I would ask the honourable members to take their conversations outside, please.

The honourable member for Dartmouth North has the floor.

[Page 761]

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. Again in 1998, just before the election campaign, the Liberals decided that there would be another report come from the Department of Housing and that was called, Housing for Tomorrow - A New Direction for Provincial Housing Action and that came forward in April of 1998. Now, Mr. Speaker, I will tell you that not one of those reports had been acted upon. Not one of those reports.

When the Conservative Government came to power in 1999, one thing I can't fault them for is their blue book which said, Strong Leadership . . . . a clear course, they did not break a promise with respect to housing in that report because there were no promises for public housing. There wasn't one single promise. As a matter of fact, in 1998 in their election campaign they did make one commitment to co-operative housing and that was in their platform called Putting People First. In that platform they did agree that they would allow co-operative housing to administer their own affairs. During that period of time, that's the only thing that came from this Conservative Government.

I will tell you what this Conservative Government did do and it's the first government in the Province of Nova Scotia to ever do, was sell modest housing to the private sector simply because they did not provide that modest housing. There were two modest housing homes that were sold about a year ago. Both of those modest housing homes could have been provided to citizens who needed housing. Again, this Conservative Government allowed under the Nova Scotia Department of Housing an application to re-zone a parcel of land - a parcel of land that was slated for a 15 unit senior citizens development. That government allowed the province to turn around and make an application to the municipality to re-zone the parcel of land. That happened less than a year ago.

In this province, right here in the metro area, there are many pockets of area that need public housing and social housing. We can talk about the Town of Antigonish. The Town of Antigonish, as you know, is a university community. There are many people in dire need of social housing in that community. The Town of Kentville, as well, there are many people in need of social housing. We can talk about across the province, the need for public and social housing. All of which that government hasn't done. As a matter of fact, I will tell you that I was in Middleton before December and I happened to take the tour of Middleton and I had a view of the new 15 unit site that's being built in Middleton. I must say that's the only piece of new development that I've seen in public housing both by the Liberals and the Conservative Government since 1993. Since 1993, that's the only new development of social housing that I have seen during that period of time.

There are people who have come to this government and I can name those individuals - as a matter of fact there were individuals who have come to this government and spoken on the issues: the Nova Scotia Allergy Environmental Health Association has spoken on the issue of healthy homes. They have talked to the government about this; the North End Health Community Centre; the Co-operative Housing Federation of Nova Scotia; the Community Action on Homelessness, a steering group. Mr. Speaker, Adsum House, the Federation of

[Page 762]

Senior Citizens and Pensioners of Nova Scotia, the Preston Area Opportunities Funds for Action, the Metro Non-Profit Housing and the list goes on and on and on. They have come here and they have talked to this government and asked this government to provide social housing.

To this very day, the government has not set out an agenda for public housing. It has talked the talk, but it has not walked the walk. The government sits on $38 million, one-half of that came from the federal Government of Canada. We do not have a policy. The government has not told this Party or Nova Scotians what they intend to do with that commitment over the five-year period.

Again, there is an additional $9 million that we know of, that we are talking about today. Mr. Speaker, and that $9 million coupled with the $38 million couldn't even address the social housing issues that are here in the metropolitan area. The population continues to migrate, continues to centre itself here in the Halifax metro area and it is a huge population shift. There are people who are on waiting lists, 1,300 of them, for the Metropolitan Regional Housing Authority alone, who have been there for at least two years or more, waiting for this government to come up with some sort of a housing policy.

Now I know the government will use its programs - because it's an election year - particularly around the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program and provide the funding for those needs, home repairs and so on, and I think that that should be. But I tell you, Mr. Speaker, many of us don't know that the money has run out before we even receive it from the federal Government of Canada. With respect to the 1997 federal housing agreement, it was only an agreement that allowed the federal government to get off the hook, in my opinion, for providing housing through CMHC. The agreement was signed by the former Liberal Government of the Province of Nova Scotia for the people of Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, that agreement only allowed the money to come down from Ottawa to be channelled into this bucket and that money only to be spent on maintaining the existing structure for renovations and repairs. There was never any new money, never any new money in approximately 10 years, with the exception of the Middleton housing project, that has gone into this province on the issue of housing.

Now we have a social responsibility as government to provide public housing for those citizens. Here in this particular area, Mr. Speaker, in the metropolitan area that I am speaking about, there are people who can't afford to pay their rents because the vacancy rate is somewhere around 2.9 per cent, maybe even lower, and I can tell you that with vacancy rates that low, it's impossible to get shelter that one can afford. Now I know that we will have the opportunity to speak on this issue when budget deliberations come up, but I think it's absolutely shameful that both political Parties, the Liberals and the Tories, could do absolutely nothing to provide increased housing for those people who are in need. I'm talking about seniors' housing; healthy housing for those individuals who have environmental

[Page 763]

illnesses; accessible housing units available to persons with disabilities; and housing that is made available to people who are on low incomes.

The Family Modest Housing Program, Mr. Speaker, for example, is something that many Nova Scotians could take advantage of. It will allow them to obtain a mortgage of no more than $70,000, but nonetheless it gives them the opportunity to get into a housing development of their own and this government doesn't advertise that program. This government does not provide a brochure; this government does not tell Nova Scotians that it has access to this program.

So, Mr. Speaker, in wrapping up, I would say that there is a long way to go and no one ought to pump their chest, particularly the Liberals and the Tories, on their commitment to public housing in the last 10 years. Mr. Speaker, it is non-existent. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I guess before I turn my attention to where our attention should be turned today - and that's towards the government, this government for the past four years that has failed to do anything about housing - let me correct my honourable friend on just a few points who seems to have taken the opportunity to try and blame the Liberals for everything, which is what that less-than-honourable group over there has been doing for the last four years. Let's look at the facts. Let's make it perfectly clear that there has been $11.2 . . .

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, on a point of personal privilege. I think I just heard the honourable member refer to members of this caucus as a less-than-honourable group. I think that is very unbecoming for a member in this Chamber to verbalize here on the floor of the House and I would ask that you look into that and that that member retract that statement.

[5:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I don't think I really have to take a lot of time to look into it. The honourable member would know that all members in this House are honourable, and I would ask the honourable member to retract that statement, please.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, I retract it immediately, and I thank the honourable member for bringing it to my attention. I misspoke and I apologize for that. Sometimes your tongue just loses control, I will be the first to admit. It can happen from time to time, it's happened to me and I know it's happened to the honourable members across the way as well. I'm sure it will happen to them again, especially to the members of the backbench.

[Page 764]

Mr. Speaker, may I say, as I was pointing out, as I was saying (Interruptions) If the Minister of Natural Resources is perfect, then that's fine, but I'm not and I admitted my mistakes. As I said, I'm pointing out what the honourable member from the NDP was saying by trying to blame the Liberals for everything, the fact is that the federal government is increasing their funding by $11.2 million. So they put more money into it. Now how can you argue with that? It's in black and white. It's increased by $11.2 million. The province is the one that's cutting the funding, not the federal government, the province. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. The honourable member for Glace Bay has the floor.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, thank you. I did have the opportunity to sit here for however long it was, it seemed like an eternity to listen to the honourable member but I did listen. I would expect the same because the facts speak for themselves. The federal government gave $11.2 million more, the provincial government cut its funding. That is as simple and as clear as you can possibly get. So what happened is that you have $9 million that's not being used for housing.

Let me tell you, in my own riding - and every member in this House knows, across this province - there is not a day that goes by, not a month that goes by that the members of this House don't get requests about housing. I dare say that I could look at any member in this Chamber right now and every one of them, within the last week or so, has had a request to provide affordable housing in their riding. I hear no argument on that, Mr. Speaker. So I will assume, for the time being, that I'm right on that.

Now, what happened is that when this government came to power (Interruptions) never mind the $9 million, we will get back to that - one of the first things that they did was cancel a program called the Winter Works Program. It was one of the first moves by this government, to kill the Winter Works Program. That Winter Works Program, as all members know in this House, was used to a great part by the Housing Department to upkeep, maintain, renovate units across this province. No Winter Works Program, the units have no upkeep, no maintenance, they're empty, they're vacant.

In every riding across this province you will find those vacant units, and along with them you will find waiting lists in those constituencies of people waiting to get into housing. Glace Bay is a perfect example. I can get you the figures. I have told this House before, many times, about the figures on waiting lists, that if they fixed up the units in Glace Bay, for instance for seniors' housing, that there would no longer be a senior on a waiting list, if they fixed up the units. Every senior who required housing in Glace Bay would have affordable housing, if the Department of Housing had the funding and if it had the responsibility that should be shown by the Minister of Housing in this case to go ahead and fix up those units.

[Page 765]

Affordable housing is not - and I will agree with my colleague, the member for Dartmouth North - something that we should be here fighting for. Affordable housing is something that should be provided without question by this government, by a federal government, a provincial government, no matter what political stripe they are. The people of this province, the people of this country and yes, the people of other countries deserve affordable housing. Mr. Speaker, for the metro members in this Legislature, they need walk no further than Barrington Street on any day of the week and they will see homelessness at its worst. They will see people who require blankets, who are living in cardboard boxes. Unfortunately, we don't have to step outside of our own province, it's right here in our own backyards. That's in the metro area. It's much more prominent in the metro area than it is, for instance, in rural areas, or for instance in an urban area such as where I come from. You could call it a hidden problem in those areas; it's not as evident and not as prominent, but here you will see it on the streets.

So, go back to the $9 million. Could $9 million help those people? Of course it could. Could $1 million help those people? Could $100,000 help those people by providing affordable housing? Of course it could. Back to the seniors and housing units for seniors that are bad need of upgrading and updating. For instance, in a two-storey seniors' unit that doesn't have an elevator, could they use an elevator? Of course they could. They could stay, perhaps, if they were installed, even if they were lifts or elevators, then maybe seniors could stay in that senior surrounding for a while longer instead of perhaps having to go to a nursing home, which we all know costs many more times than what you would pay for a seniors' unit, to be housed in a nursing home. I'm not even going to go there, because we know the situation that exists there.

I'm not expecting, and I don't expect from this government and I never will expect from this government to take responsibility for a mistake that they made. The mistake that they made in this instance is not taking that money that has been available, the extra money, the increase in funding that's come from the federal government and to actually do something that's needed in this province. I don't expect that from this government because I don't expect this government to do what is required for its citizens because we have so many examples over the past in so many areas that I guess it's a sad commentary, but that's where I am right now and where a lot of other Nova Scotians are, they don't expect this government to do the right thing. They expect bad things from this government, and that's exactly what they're being given.

Mr. Speaker, I know I don't have that much time left, but if we're talking about housing and we're talking about affordable housing and people living on the streets and people not being given the opportunity to live comfortably, safely in this province, we needn't look any further than the attempt to try to gain voters in this province with that $155 cheque that's being passed out. Ask me if there's not something better that could be done with that cheque. Ask me if housing in this province, the problem with housing could possibly be eliminated with that much money. I will tell you, it would be a good start. Let me

[Page 766]

put it that way, it would be a great start to try to turn things around on that one issue, that issue of housing in this province, if something was done like that.

Mr. Speaker, this resolution, which is why we call it, as it's stated, let me read this, "Therefore be it resolved that it has been the Conservative Government that has not provided its fair share of funding for Nova Scotians, not the federal government." Which has been the argument that has been put forward by the NDP here in the debate of this resolution. We know that it's the Conservative Government. We know that that government has been in power long enough that it's time that they stopped trying to blame everybody else for their problems and their ineptitude. That's what we know. That's what Nova Scotians know right now. No longer are they going to accept the excuses that it's some other government, whether it be a Liberal Government or - well, I was going to say an NDP Government but we know that there will never be an NDP Government in Nova Scotia. We know that for certain.

Mr. Speaker, instead, if the time and effort of the other Opposition Party was spent on better things and better ideas than trying to blame the Liberals for something they didn't do in the first place, then I think perhaps that's where their efforts should be channelled. As I said, that government, the Conservative Government of the day is the government that has failed Nova Scotians in terms of housing. You need look no further than our own communities, when you go home and take a look at how many people are calling your offices and asking for safe, affordable housing in their communities and what you can do for them. What you can do for them is probably tell the Minister of Housing to put that money to good use. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The time for Resolution No. 417 has expired.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, that completes our business for today.

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 12:00 noon. The House will sit until 6:00 p.m. Following the daily routine and Question Period, we will continue with Supply. On Friday, the House will sit from 9:00 a.m. until such time as we complete four hours of estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is the House adjourn until tomorrow. The hours will be 12:00 noon to 6:00 p.m.

Is it agreed?

[Page 767]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The House is adjourned until 12:00 noon tomorrow.

We have reached the moment of interruption. The subject of this evening's late debate is submitted by the honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank:

["Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the community of Hammonds Plains on its commitment to seeing a new school built for the area."]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

EDUC.: HAMMONDS PLAINS SCH. -

COMMUN. COMMITMENT

MR. BARRY BARNET: Mr. Speaker, the resolution: "Therefore be it resolved that members of this House commend the community of Hammonds Plains on its commitment to seeing a new school built for the area."

Before I get into a great deal of detail - and I know I only have 10 minutes - I want to take a moment to explain to members of the House a little bit about the community of Hammonds Plains. It's described by many as the fastest growing community in Atlantic Canada. I suspect that's the case. It's an area that sees a great deal of new residential housing development surrounding lakes and existing road infrastructure. It's a community that dates back probably 150 or 175 years. It's a community of young, vibrant families that seek to make sure that their government and the Province of Nova Scotia offers the best that it can for their families. It's a community, as well, that has a great deal of experience dealing with school issues and I want to bring to the attention of this House the issues that this community has faced.

I have a friend of mine who taught school at the Hammonds Plains Consolidated School, and that was around the time when they actually consolidated a number of schools in the area to bring them into one school in the mid-1970s. At that time, when they opened up the Hammonds Plains Consolidated School, almost immediately the school had portables on its site and continuously from that day until this day that school has operated almost

[Page 768]

uninterrupted with portables on its site. Successive governments have been unable to fully address the overcrowding issue that community has faced in the last three decades. They've seen a great deal of effort made, but not enough really to make the overcrowding issue go away. In fact, the school now, the Hammonds Plains Consolidated School, in order to address some of their issues they've been forced to take a number of grade levels outside of their traditional elementary school. They are an elementary school for Primary to Grade 4, Grades 5 and 6 now go to a junior high and they have a great deal of issues now with nine, I think seven or nine, portables on-site and 780 elementary students in one school.

Now, I think there's not a member in this House who wouldn't say that's the kind of drastic situation that needs to be addressed, and I'm pleased to say that the community of Hammonds Plains, and particularly of Kingswood, are very happy and very satisfied that this government was able to address that concern by announcing a new school and budgeting that school as well. But, you know, what really has created a great deal of anxiety amongst the community is this whole thought that maybe somehow - even though this school is announced and the money is in the budget and they have a commitment that's firm and binding - somehow they will lose that school.

The reason they have that sense of anxiety, Mr. Speaker, is because they've heard this in the past. In fact, this very community had a school announced in their neighbourhood, it was going to be built and, in fact, the community went out, with the work of staff people at the school board and community volunteers, and identified a number of sites, only to have that school taken away at the eleventh hour and go to Bedford South - purely for political reasons, purely to alleviate or solidify an election promise made by a Cabinet Minister of a government of the day. And that's why those people have a great deal of cynicism and skepticism over how and when their new school will be built.

I want to tell you, Mr. Speaker, that I've done a great deal of work with that community to try to alleviate their concerns and try to address their issues of skepticism and cynicism and I think we now have a community that not only believes their school is going to be built, but understands it will be built and is just waiting for it.

Now the honourable member for Dartmouth North asked when the school was going to be built. In fact, very, very soon. The time frame is that the school will be built and opened for September 2005. (Interruptions) Let's see, a couple of years to build the school, a few months to site it, and some time to tender it out. Frankly, the community accepts that, albeit they would like something sooner, but they understand the ability to build these schools. We all know, in this House, what happens when you fast-track schools. We've seen that process through the P3 process. We know what happens when governments make decisions to try to fast-track and speed up process, mistakes get made. I can point to a number of mistakes. It's really easy to do. It's easy for me as a member of this government or any member in this House to point to mistakes that were made during the P3 process.

[Page 769]

[6:00 p.m.]

What I'm trying to do here today is not necessarily do that, albeit easy to do. What I want to do is take the high road on this one. I want to say that my community, the community I represent, particularly the community of Kingswood, has worked very hard to ensure that the government that they elected is going to listen to them. In addition to that, they also have worked very hard to ensure that the school board listens to them, because they now have issues with respect to siting that school, a temporary boundary, they have issues about where their children are going to go.

I refer, Mr. Speaker, to an article in today's paper that seems to be pitting community against community, and that's not what the Kingswood residents and the people of Hammonds Plains are about. They don't think that it's beneficial for them to try to get into a match between another community over where their children should go to school on a temporary basis. They believe that they need the co-operation and support of their school board and their school board member and the neighbouring communities to help them, because they really have a problem. They need some short-term solutions to this overcrowding issue, and they need it now.

At a number of public meetings, one as recently as two weeks ago, one about a month before that, with the school board chairman and the member for that area present, I talked to the member and the audience that was there. I think at that meeting there were 500 or 600 people. One of the things that I said to that member and to that audience is that it's time for this government and for all governments to set aside their petty political differences, and for the school board and for the municipality and for the province to work together for the common interests of the students. (Applause)

We've seen, too often, way too often, where one level of government would use an issue to try to embarrass another level of government, where one level of government would use an issue to try to further their agenda, be it for supplementary funding, be it for the construction of a new high school, or what have you. From my perspective and I think from the perspective of the parents of the children and on behalf of the children, I think we owe it to them. We owe it to them to set aside those differences and to put them first.

Our government has made a number of changes and a number of strides, including scrapping the P3 process. We know that you can't build every school in one day. We also know that the infrastructure, the school infrastructure in this province, was allowed to decline drastically over the period of time from 1993 to 1996, that's evidence that was given to us by the Auditor General's Office and that's a fact. Then what happens is you end up trying to play catch-up. The P3 concept which was supposed to catch up never caught up. You still have communities, like Hammonds Plains, like the neighbourhood of Kingswood, who have their children split up in two different schools and may end up seeing their children go to five schools in five years, and as a parent I can say this, no one likes that.

[Page 770]

I'm not going to condemn the previous government for their P3 process. I think they probably went down that road with the best interests of the children in mind, trying to resolve a very difficult political problem in as expedient a time as possible. At the end of the day, it was a failure. I think everybody would recognize that. At the end of the day, it didn't do anything to resolve the overcrowding issues at Hammonds Plains. They were overcrowded with the P3 school they got, they were overcrowded with the expansion of the consolidated school, and they are overcrowded today.

One of the things that I think will go a long way, in addition to building this school, would be a plan that would somehow bring the municipality into play and develop something - and I'm not saying I have all the answers, but in this case - some sort of planning mechanisms that would see the municipality not able to develop at such a rapid growth that it jeopardizes children and families.

I think that, from my perspective, I would look forward to some kind of plan that envisioned developmental controls so the developers don't simply waltz in, subdivide their 800 acres into small lots and the next thing you know, you've got a school board wrestling with an issue, you've got a municipality wrestling with an issue and you've got a province wrestling with an issue. From my perspective I can see that being the benefit. On behalf of the people of Hammonds Plains, I was very pleased at the way that they were able to demonstrate clearly to me and to the minister and to this government their need for a school. It wasn't difficult for them to do because frankly 730 or 780 students with a rapid growth clearly demonstrates the need for a school in that community. I think I'm out of time, thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, this is a rather serious topic that we're discussing here tonight, because I don't think you can get a more important topic than the education of your children and the facilities that are used to educate your children. It affects each and every Nova Scotian, we know that, whether it's our own children's education or grandchildren or whatever the case may be.

Mr. Speaker, I'm also not here - I have no intention of trying to defend the P3 school process, none whatsoever, but I can take a look at the PC process with a somewhat non-jaundiced viewpoint. I can say that if you take a look at the PC process . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: P3.

MR. WILSON: . . . P3, you saw 39 new schools built in this province, 39 new schools that the President of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union will tell you, nobody has a problem with those schools; a problem with the process, okay, there are problems. There are problems with contracts that had to be negotiated and contracts always have problems. I'm just saying,

[Page 771]

and these are the words of the president of the Nova Scotia Teachers Union, love the schools, not the process.

The schools, the students, the parents, the teachers and the principals will tell you that those facilities were needed. Those facilities are great facilities for the students of this province to be educated in right now. They don't have to worry about their health, they're high-tech, they have all the stuff that you need to give a student a good education in this province. Based on that alone, I'm not going to stand here and say that those schools built under the P3 school process are no good. Ask the people in the communities whether or not they're serving their communities and to a person, I think, you'll be told, for the most part, yes, those schools were required.

An ambitious project that at the time, again faulting no one, at the time a government was looking at - we need new schools, it's desperate, let's try something. If you look at this government, you look over the past four years, how many new schools have been built?

AN HON. MEMBER: Let's hear how many.

MR. WILSON: Eight?

AN HON. MEMBER: No, I think maybe 11.

MR. WILSON: Eleven? Okay, I'm sorry, I could be off and again I'm not trying - I agree with my honourable colleague, the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank, this is too important an issue to play politics with. I sincerely am not trying to play politics with this issue. I sincerely say to the people of Hammonds Plains and areas, congratulations to them for lobbying hard enough to get a commitment that there will be a new school built for their area - especially the volunteers in that area. I would not for a moment say to anyone in this province that if you're getting a new school in your area, you certainly don't deserve it. It would never come from my lips.

Mr. Speaker, I have served on school committees myself, my own community school, Bridgeport School, to try to stop the closure of that school. We live in an area of declining enrolments which is a huge problem facing this province right now, but, in particular, in areas such as Cape Breton, declining enrolments because, as we know, the funding for schools follows pupils, unfortunately. If you have declining enrolments in that area the funding is not there, hence you're left with the possibility of schools closing. We faced that possibility at my school.

You've also run into circumstances where you've run into such a situation as they find in Cape Breton Centre right now, in the community of Dominion, where a community school starts sinking into the ground. You're left with, well, what do we do in this situation? The students don't have a school any longer. The school board is left with a crisis, an

[Page 772]

emergency and the province says, there's nothing we can do about it because that school is not on the priority list. (Interruptions) No, that's the province saying that, not me.

What I'm saying in that case, in the case of Dominion, is that there should be emergency funding available to help the people of Dominion, to help the people of Dominion maintain and build their school that they require. I need not tell anybody the importance of a school to its community or to its area. These are facilities - not just a building, not just a facility, but these are homes for our children where they go on a daily basis, where they are taught. They're taught a lot in our homes, but by gosh they're taught a lot by our teachers in this province in the schools where they spend a great deal of the day.

So, it's not just a building, it means a lot more to the community. I would dare say a community without a school is not a real community in some cases because you're built around activities that take place at your school, you're built around everything that goes on around your children's lives. So, of course (Interruption) yes, I would say churches are up there with schools. Yes, at one time I would have said radio stations - that used to be the case, but it's not the case any more, unfortunately.

I say again that it's a vital issue. There are some 466 schools, I'm told, in this province so we know how huge an issue it is. To pay for maintenance of those schools, to do the new construction that's required, to take care of an issue that is this huge is going to require, number one, co-operation, I would suggest to the member from the government side that has been talking about this issue, and co-operation among all three Parties in this Legislature which is why it's important and I will not stand here as I said and play politics with this issue. I can't speak on behalf of anybody else, I'm just speaking on my own behalf (Interruptions) that I think, and, again, I'm not following the rabbit tracks here of other members who may be going there. I'm not going there.

To the community of Hammonds Plains on its commitment that it made to lobbying government, to doing whatever had to be done to provide a new school for that area, it's basic (Interruptions) I know there's a list, I know there's a priority list. Well, it does, if you don't speak up, you don't get heard. It's as basic as that and I'm sure whether the lobbying has been done in a public protest or behind closed doors or to individual MLAs or whatever, it's still lobbying. It's speaking up for what is rightfully yours, that's what it is in this instance.

To anybody in this province who has a new school built in their area, I say congratulations because I know throughout this province those schools are desperately needed for our children and desperately needed for the communities. I think we have a responsibility as politicians, as legislators to find a way around this problem and to come up with a solution. That's where I think our responsibility is, non-political, that it's our responsibility as legislators that we find once and for all a solution that we can provide safe, adequate schools in this province for our children so they're not faced with an uncertain

[Page 773]

future, they're not faced with bricks falling, they're not faced with unhealthy environments, they can get that safe education that everybody in this province deserves.

I'm not sure exactly how much time I have left, Mr. Speaker, but I think that the member for Timberlea-Prospect certainly could use a little bit of extra time, so the last 30 seconds or so, I'd certainly be willing to share with him. Thank you.

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

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: I'd like to thank the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank for introducing this resolution. I want to point out that I will be sharing my time with my good friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre. He has a few comments about a very important issue in his community.

Monday evening I had the occasion to attend an important meeting at Sir John A. Macdonald High School. We talked about priority lists, we talked about the role of volunteers, we talked about the importance of making your voice heard, but one of the questions that was asked at that meeting - and the member for Chester-St. Margaret's was at that meeting also - was, who is Barry Barnet? That was a question that was asked and I'm quoting these parents who are concerned because that is a parent group of Sir John A. Macdonald High School and the question was asked a number of times, a rhetorical question, just who is Barry Barnet? I said to them that he is the MLA for the adjoining riding, he is a member of the Conservative caucus and he had the pleasure a number of weeks ago to bring the Premier into his constituency and along with the Minister of Education make the very positive announcement that Hammonds Plains and the Kingswood area would be receiving a good school, a new school, something that's badly needed.

[6:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I know that because my riding, although it's now going to be changed, incorporates part of the Hammonds Plains community. I have friends of parents who have children who will be attending the still-overcrowded portables in back of Hammonds Plains Consolidated School. I know that earlier the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank mentioned that teacher. I actually went to university with that teacher and I know that she has spent many long years at Hammonds Plains elementary and the overcrowding situation there.

The situation comes down to this, Mr. Speaker. There is reality and perception and, of course, we always hear of priority lists and they are very important, a priority list for school construction, a priority list based upon the eight new announcements that are going to be made. But can someone please come clean with the fact of what's on the priority list, how long has it been there and of what significance have you determined the criteria for a priority list. There are always occasions for emergencies and my friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre, is going to bring that to the attention of the House in a few moments, but I

[Page 774]

want to bring an important matter to the attention of the members of this House and that is that Sir John A. Macdonald is a neglected high school. I want to table if I could, please, an e-mail from Doreen Pilon who sent this to the superintendent of schools for HRSB and sent me a copy.

I'm going to read from it and then I will table it if I could, Mr. Speaker, "We are very happy to hear that our children will finally be returning to safer and healthier SJA . . ." This was on March 3rd incidentally. She goes on, "We expect the promises made to our community by the Minister and the Department of Education to be honored by providing our children with either a totally refurbished school capable of delivering today's high school program, or a new school, by the fall of 2005."

Ms. Pilon is putting the thing very much in clarity for me as the MLA and knowing Doreen, she has the question which always comes back and it's asked when you don't have an open public priority list, what is the role of politics in the building of schools? We are not talking about paving roads. I mean we do know in this province priority lists are in existence when it comes to paving roads, but is there politics involved in a priority list for schools? In the case of Hammonds Plains, the case was clear.

Statistically and numerically and the amount of time that the community had to wait, Hammonds Plains deserved a new school - point made. However, there are other areas in this province concerned about where they are on the priority list, where they are on the renovation list. This would be clearly identified for all Nova Scotians if the Department of Education would show the initiative and make such a list public. Make it open, make it accessible and people will then understand the criteria for where a particular school project is on the list. Then as we lead up to an election, we get announcements about paving. We get announcements about recreation facilities. We get announcements about schools. That's why there is the cynicism of politics in this province. That's why it must be cleared up and it must be, after all, a recognition of the fact, based upon a clear criteria, where we build schools, when we build schools and why we build schools.

I can tell you that Doreen Pilon, or Pam Demone, or many of the other people that I am fortunate enough to represent in the community of Timberlea-Prospect, we are not going to do anything more than bring as much pressure as possible on this government, to make as much noise as possible so that this Minister of Education and this Premier - because of the most damaging things in the 1998 and 1999 elections were the members of the Third Party who stuck those stickers on their signs, we build schools. There was an opportunity in a growing community to keep the politics out of building schools. The option was there. The people of Timberlea-Prospect had their choice, they made their choice. They did not elect the Liberal candidate in 1998, they did not elect the Liberal candidate in 1999 because of the fact that politics has a role in the building of schools according to that government when they were in that place, and that is unacceptable.

[Page 775]

To the people of Hammonds Plains, I congratulate them on their efforts. I recognize the MLA for Sackville-Beaver Bank for the role that he has played in the process. I look forward to the support of the MLA for Chester-St. Margaret's as he and I along with our community will work to have a new, improved, safe Sir John A. Macdonald High School. I would like to share my time with my friend, the member for Cape Breton Centre.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, first of all, let me start out my remarks by saying congratulations to the member for Sackville-Beaver Bank on getting the proposal for a new school and bringing this forward. As the previous speakers have said, this is not about or should not be about my area over your area, it should be over need. That's very important, because what the member for Glace Bay brought up about the MacDonald Complex, he told a very telling line about dollars following students. Yes, that should be part of the criteria. You shouldn't go in the middle of the wilderness and build a school on the theory of build it and they will come, I realize that.

Education has to be about a whole range of community efforts, it has to be educational, it has to be social and it has to be economic. I believe the government turning its back on reconstruction of a new MacDonald Complex is doing just that. It's looking at the very narrow line of saying we have an excess of classrooms here that we don't have to fill and therefore it's fine to take the heart and soul out of a community, which is its school.

I could look you straight in the eye, Mr. Speaker, and say you have something similar in your own riding around your arena. You know that things like the arena, while it is a sports and recreation facility, it is much more than that to your community, it's a gathering place. Whether it's in the winter for ice hockey, events in the summer for dances or homecomings, or whatever, we cannot look at these locations and narrowly say, this is what it's all about - it's about you have 10 classrooms, we have 10 empty classrooms over here, we can fill them.

We've just seen today, as a matter of fact, in the Cape Breton Post I saw that there's an elementary complex being built in Sydney. Because the Department of Education and a local Catholic parish couldn't get together on the price of sale of the land, now they're going to downscale the recreation facilities, and instead of making a large adult-sized soccer pitch, they're going to give what they call a mini soccer pitch. We're talking an acre or two of land. Jumpin', can't you get together on that? Can you see the value of that, the recreational aspects? I think it's this narrow-mindedness of just that one thing.

I would hope that in my case it's not just a provincial issue, and I've said this before in the House, that the federal government bears responsibility here because, in my instance, why we lost the complex was because of underground, subterranean, mining. Therefore, I think they should come to the table and say to the provincial government, we're willing to

[Page 776]

take our share and put it in because we used that community for an energy source for years, I think it's only fair that we come back to the table and help that community all around.

We're fast coming to the end of our allotted time here tonight, Mr. Speaker. I would congratulate that member, and I hope that government will once and for all see the wisdom of, you cannot look at education just as students. If you've got 10 students and you put them in here and the problem is solved, that's not the way. I think they have to look at the social component and the economic component. If they did that in its fullness, they would realize the problems that face a community like Dominion and then build that school and move it forward.

You know, if economic prosperity is around the corner for industrial Cape Breton then Dominion will be there to enjoy that and be an area that would attract young families grow like the rest of this great province. So, with those few words, I'll take my place, thank the member again for bringing this forward and wish him well in his endeavours in having that school constructed. Thank you.

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

We are adjourned until tomorrow at noon hour.

[The House rose at 6:26 p.m.]

[Page 777]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 512

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Ice Angels, Middleton's pre-juvenile synchronized skating team, is getting ready to wrap up its season; and

Whereas the team's season included performances in Wolfville, Greenwood, and Bridgetown, ending with a performance at the Middleton Skating Club Carnival; and

Whereas members of the Ice Angels are Kristyna Dobson, Kelsey Charlton, Emma Stennett, Kristina Callanan, Chanise Lewis, Emily McGuirk, Chelsey Sabean, Katie Dulong, Samantha Micklethwaite, Alexandra Picken, Samantha Picken and Erika Rice;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Middleton's Ice Angels on a successful season, and wish them success in their upcoming seasons.

RESOLUTION NO. 513

By: Mr. Kerry Morash (Queens)

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

Whereas reaching your centennial birthday is quite a magnificent feat that only a few get to experience; and

Whereas Roberta Dunning Kempton of Milton has recently celebrated her 100th birthday on April 7, 2003; and

Whereas family and friends of Ms. Roberta Kempton held an open house in honour of this momentous occasion;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Roberta Dunning Kempton on reaching this tremendous milestone, and wish her many more in years to come.

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RESOLUTION NO. 514

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

Whereas Dausha MacArthur and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donating it to the Springhill Library;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 515

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

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

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

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RESOLUTION NO. 516

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

Whereas Sonya MacDonald and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donating it to the Springhill Library;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 517

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Dale MacDonald of Oxford, Nova Scotia, was presented the Master's Sales Award for his outstanding achievements in sales for the year 2002; and

Whereas the gala event was held in Charlottetown, P.E.I. for Royal LePage sales agents; and

Whereas Dale MacDonald received such a high honour among the other sales agents who are in the top 10 per cent of the regional market;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Dale MacDonald on this outstanding achievement and for being awarded the Master's Sales Award, and we wish him continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 518

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

Whereas Alexa MacDonald and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donating it to the Springhill Library;

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

RESOLUTION NO. 519

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Margaret Ling of Parrsboro has been awarded the Commemorative Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - part of the Canadian Honours System established in 1967 - and was awarded this medal on January 22, 2003; and

Whereas medals are being awarded to Canadians who have made a significant contribution to their fellow citizens, their communities, or to their country; and

Whereas the Governor General gave a fitting tribute to earlier recipients saying the medal recipients ". . . reflect the complexity and diversity which is Canada in 2002 and they have helped contribute to the Canada we know, the Canada we have made and the Canada that we will be in the future.";

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate and commend Margaret Ling on being awarded the Golden Jubilee Medal for exceptional service to community and country.

RESOLUTION NO. 520

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ashley McCabe from Oxford Regional High School, Oxford, Nova Scotia, won honourable mention in a recent contest sponsored by the Resource Recovery Fund Board of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas Ashley won a $500 scholarship, a movie pass, a family pass to the YMCA, a travel mug made of recycled plastic and a portfolio; and

Whereas Ashley also participated in the Recycling Blitz, helping with presentations on recycling, and attended the award banquet at Milford Education Centre;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ashley McCabe on receiving honourable mention and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 521

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Oxford Regional High School hosted its annual science fair on March 5, 2003; and

Whereas the senior team of Ashley McCabe and Allison Moore placed second in the experiment category of the annual science fair; and

Whereas Ashley and Allison advanced on to represent ORHS at the Regional Science Fair in Stellarton on March 19, 2003;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ashley McCabe and Allison Moore on this accomplishment and wish them continued success in the future.

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RESOLUTION NO. 522

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

Whereas Kasha Milton and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donating it to the Springhill Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Kasha Milton and the Girls @ The Junction group on participating in such a great program and completing and donating the Celebrate You mural and wish them all the best in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 523

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

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

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

Whereas Lindsey Meekins and the Girls @ The Junction group celebrated their participation in the program by completing a mural and donating it to the Springhill Library;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Lindsey Meekins and the Girls @ The Junction group on participating in such a great program and completing and donating the Celebrate You mural and wish them all the best in the future.