Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-11

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

THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Environ. & Lbr.: Minimum Wage - Increase, Hon. R. Russell 784
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 524, MedMira Inc. - Health Care Commun.: Success - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 786
Vote - Affirmative 787
Res. 525, Heritage & Culture - Gov't. (Can.)/Provinces/Territories:
Preservation Efforts - Recognize (by Hon. M. Baker),
Hon. Rodney MacDonald 787
Vote - Affirmative 787
INTRODUCTION OF BILLS:
No. 33, Public Utilities Act, Mr. K. Deveaux 788
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 526, Insurance Bureau of Can.: Soft Tissue Injuries - Claim Revisit,
Mr. D. Dexter 788
Vote - Affirmative 788
Res. 527, MacKinnon, Martin & Eileen - Tax Rebate: Usage -
Suggestion Commend, Mr. P. MacEwan 789
Res. 528, Campbell, William "Bill": Death of - Tribute, Mr. W. Langille 790
Vote - Affirmative 790
Res. 529, MacQueen, Thomas: Death of - Tribute, Mr. J. DeWolfe 791
Vote - Affirmative 791
Res. 530, Smith, Pte. Nathan: Accomplishments - Remember,
Mr. W. Dooks 791
Vote - Affirmative 792
Res. 531, Wilson, Billy - RCL (J.B. Croak Br.): Recruitment Efforts -
Commend, Mr. F. Corbett 792
Vote - Affirmative 793
Res. 532, Oil Rigs - Hfx. Hbr.: Search - Discourage, Mr. K. MacAskill 793
Res. 533, Liberal Leader - P3 School Prog.: Disassociation -
Results Anticipate, Mr. H. Epstein 794
Re. 534, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Decision - Min. Responsibility,
Mr. W. Gaudet 795
Res. 535, Two Planks & A Passion Theatre: Dedication - Congrats.,
Mr. M. Parent 795
Vote - Affirmative 796
Res. 536, Commun. Serv. - Caregivers: Wage Equality - Ensure,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 796
Res. 537, Transport. & Pub. Wks.: Eskasoni Hwy. - Replace,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 797
Res. 538, Sports: Kings Edgehill Boys Hockey Team - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 797
Vote - Affirmative 798
Res. 539, McLellan, Luke/Corbin, Ilona: Forum for Young Canadians -
Attendance Congrats., Mr. J. MacDonell 798
Vote - Affirmative 799
Res. 540, Election 2003: Gov't. Representation - Alternatives,
Mr. P. MacEwan 799
Res. 541, Crane, Brandon: Speed Skating Championships - Congrats.,
Hon. C. Clarke 799
Vote - Affirmative 800
Res. 542, Tantallon Post Office: Expansion - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 800
Vote - Affirmative 801
Res. 543, Firearms Act - Sol.-Gen. Meeting: N.S. Delegation - Thank,
Mr. B. Taylor 801
Res. 544, Educ. - J.L. Ilsley HS: Adult Bus. Prog. - Re-Open,
Mr. Robert Chisholm 802
Res. 545, J.L. Ilsley HS - "Just Live It - Be Active!" Prog.: Participants -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 803
Vote - Affirmative 804
Res. 546, Anna. Valley Exhibition: Bd. of Directors - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 804
Vote - Affirmative 804
Res. 547, Nesseth, Colleen: E. Hants - Contribution Recognize,
Mr. J. MacDonell 805
Vote - Affirmative 805
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 86, Insurance: Consumers Advocate - Appt., Mr. D. Dexter 806
No. 87, Health - Care: Funding (New) - Confirm, Dr. J. Smith 807
No. 88, Vol. FDs - Insurance: Availability - Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 809
No. 89, Agric. & Fish. - Crop Insurance Prog.: Consultation -
Lack Explain, Mr. R. MacKinnon 810
No. 90, EMO - Flood (03/03): Disaster Relief - Ensure, Mr. D. Dexter 811
No. 91, Educ. - Goodwin Family (Barrington Passage): Assistance -
Details, Mr. W. Estabrooks 812
No. 92, Prem. - Spending Commitment: Failure - Explain,
Mr. M. Samson 814
No. 93, Health - Long-Term Care: Personal Allowance -
Freeze Explain, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 816
No. 94, Justice - Restorative Justice: Sexual Assault/Violence -
Victims Exempt, Mr. K. Deveaux 817
No. 95, Prem. - Taxpayers: Favouritism - Explain, Mr. W. Gaudet 818
No. 96, Commun. Serv. - Job Action: Reason - Min. Explain, Mr. J. Pye 820
No. 97, Health - Nursing Strategy: Effectiveness - Justify, Dr. J. Smith 821
No. 98, Fin. - Tax Cut: Disbursement - Fairness Explain, Mr. G. Steele 822
GOVERNMENT BUSINESS:
GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
ON MOTION FOR SUPPLY:
Mr. F. Corbett 824
Mr. M. Samson 827
Hon. J. Muir 832
HOUSE RESOLVED INTO CWH ON SUPPLY AT 2:30 P.M. 836
HOUSE RECONVENED AT 5:58 P.M. 836
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE (5):
Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Secondary Roads: Priority List - Publish:
Mr. W. Estabrooks 837
Hon. M. Baker 840
Mr. B. Taylor 842
Mr. R. MacKinnon 844
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Fri., Apr. 11th at 9:00 a.m. 847
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 548, Rogers, Leslie Anne - Rector Scholarship: Congrats. -
Robyn MacKenzie Thank, Mr. R. Hurlburt 848
Res. 549, Sports - Sackville Oldtimers Hockey League:
Successful Season - Congrats., Mr. J. Holm 848
Res. 550, MedMira - HIV Test: Development - Congrats.,
Ms. Maureen MacDonald 849
Res. 551, Gueller, Bernard: SNS Music Director - Welcome,
Hon. J. Purves 849

[Page 783]

HALIFAX, THURSDAY, APRIL 10, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

12:00 NOON

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately make public its Transportation and Public Works priority list for secondary road projects.

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

We will begin the daily routine.

PRESENTING AND READING PETITIONS

PRESENTING REPORTS OF COMMITTEES

TABLING REPORTS, REGULATIONS AND OTHER PAPERS

783

[Page 784]

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to inform the House that this government will increase Nova Scotia's minimum wage rate this year, October 1st and again on April 1, 2004. (Applause) The rate will rise 25 cents each time to a total of $6.50 per hour. The increase will benefit those who need it most by raising their gross yearly income by about $520. This is more than an 8 per cent increase or more than 4 per cent per year and that's keeping ahead of inflation which was about 3 per cent in 2002 and it's almost twice as much as the average increase for collective bargaining agreements last year which was 2.3 per cent.

As you can see, Mr. Speaker, we are implementing a fair and appropriate increase that's putting more money into the hands of 16,000 Nova Scotians. Minimum wage increases particularly benefit employees in regions heavily dependent on agriculture, tourism and the hospitality industries. The increase to our minimum wage rate will help contribute to Nova Scotia's prosperity and will keep the minimum wage competitive with those of other Atlantic Provinces. In fact, this increase now makes Nova Scotia's minimum wage rate the highest in Atlantic Canada and brings it much closer to the Canadian provincial average which is $6.56 per hour.

As you know, Mr. Speaker, a review of the minimum wage rate is required every year through the province's Labour Standards Code. It has been our practice to announce an increase well in advance in order to give businesses time to prepare for the change. Over the summer, we will be reaching out to all registered businesses in the province to ensure they are aware and ready to implement the increase come October 1st. (Applause)

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, first of all I want to thank the minister for supplying us with this statement in a very timely way. It's well appreciated. We also appreciate that he is finally starting to listen to us, albeit that it's an election year.

In my five years in this House, the two successive governments that I have had to face, I've been telling them about the inadequacies of minimum wage and how it affects many Nova Scotians. There are many Nova Scotians living below the poverty line, yet it takes an election year before this government will act. We know the 10 cents and 10 cents stuff, Mr. Speaker. We know these people will not be available for the tax refund, or they will not be getting anything from this government, by way of a tax reduction. Nova Scotians working at the minimum wage level are finding themselves falling farther and farther behind and that's true. The minister says, no they're not. Yes, they are. (Interruptions) We have.

[Page 785]

One thing I found out after many years of collective bargaining, 10 per cent of nothing is still 10 per cent of nothing. When you use percentage increases on the lowest possible wages, they're not catching up, the reality is these people are falling farther behind.

Another major part of this is why don't we depoliticize how minimum wage is done? Why is it done behind closed doors? Why isn't it done in a more open process? These are the things that Nova Scotians want to know, how are these arrived at? These are important issues.

If this government really wants to help low-wage-earning Nova Scotians, they would come here with a package of reforms to the Labour Standards Code - such as we introduced - that would respect workers in this province, that they would be allowed to have a 40-hour work week instead of a 48-hour work week. Those are some of the changes showing we appreciate what is going on with working families, that they would be allowed to have days off for compassionate leave. These are the things that Nova Scotians want, not a little false promise before an election. Thank you.

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the current minimum wage in Nova Scotia is $6 an hour for the experienced, and for the inexperienced - I have to get my glasses on to read this small figure - $5.55. Those are the current minimum wages in Nova Scotia, not these announcements that we've heard here today. These came into effect on October 1, 2002. That's when they came into effect. I just got this copy from the printer, I wanted to make sure the printer's ink on it was dry before I brought it over here to the House. But since I've read from it, I think I shall table it, if the printer's ink is dry. That is the current minimum wage in Nova Scotia.

Now, what we've been told is that these wages that I've just read out will be raised on October 1st coming and also on April 1, 2004, which I hasten to remind you is one year away. That's when these wages will come into effect, not today, not before the election and not in the near future. What we've heard, again, is an expression of future intent, sort of like the Emperor Constantine who wouldn't get baptized until he was on his deathbed because he didn't want to sin thereafter. So that was an insurance policy against divine fire.

Let's get back to modern times and away from the Emperor Constantine. This minimum wage increase, it's stated, will affect employment in agriculture, tourism and the hospitality industry. Mr. Speaker, what I say is that this minimum wage increase will affect about 20,000 workers out of 450,000 workers in all of Nova Scotia. So it affects less than 5 per cent of the workforce. Of that 20,000 people, they're not farmers, tourists and hospitality-types so much, 75 per cent of them are high school and university students. That's where they're from. The other 25 per cent are mostly single parents. That's the wage group that is targeted by this announcement and not the agricultural industry at all.

[Page 786]

Sir, I say that these raises do not cover the costs of Tory Government. They do not cover the Tory fees on gasoline, on insurance jackings, on registering of motor vehicles which they set directly, on wear and tear of your car on the poor roads that they're responsible for. Yes, sir, we welcome the announcement, but the sad fact is that it doesn't even come close to covering the costs of Tory Government.

[2:15 p.m.]

As a final windup, Mr. Speaker, I looked through this document - I won't read from it, so I won't table it, but you know what it is - there was no section in that document about labour, there was no section in that document about workers' compensation, so we cannot commend the government for having kept its election promises last time. In this area, they didn't make it.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 524

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

Whereas MedMira Inc., a medical biotechnology company that employs about 40 people in its research and manufacturing facilities in the HRM, has received the approval of the Drug Administration of the People's Republic of China to distribute its three-minute MiraWell Rapid HIV test kits in that country; and

Whereas that country has already ordered 250,000 kits and it is expected the company will receive additional distribution agreements for China shortly; and

Whereas last month MedMira signed a deal to supply 1 million MiraWell triple test units for the diagnostic testing of HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C test kits to the Democratic Republic of the Congo;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate MedMira on their success in the People's Republic of China, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and their continued market success in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, Lithuania, Indonesia, Greece, Kenya, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Hong Kong, and their contribution to, and commercial success in, the global health care community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 787]

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. 525

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

Whereas the Minister of Tourism and Culture recently attended a Federal/Provincial/Territorial Culture and Heritage Ministers' meeting in Ottawa; and

Whereas among other issues, the ministers discussed the importance of our historic places and cultural diversity, opportunities associated with culture and heritage, tourism, and the links between culture and health; and

Whereas next year Nova Scotia will host the Federal/Provincial/Territorial Culture and Heritage Ministers' meeting;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House recognize the co-operative efforts of the federal government and all the provinces and territories in developing and preserving culture and heritage for the entire country.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 788]

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

Bill No. 33 - Entitled an Act to Amend Chapter 380 of the Revised Statutes of 1989. The Public Utilities Act, to Provide for the Appointment of a Consumer Advocate. (Mr. Kevin Deveaux)

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

NOTICES OF MOTION

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

RESOLUTION NO. 526

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

Whereas the Insurance Bureau of Canada blames skyrocketing auto insurance rates on the increase in number and cost of paying out claims for soft tissue injuries; and

Whereas a recent report by the Canadian Institute for Health Information, CIHI indicates that accident rates in Nova Scotia are decreasing and that we have the second lowest rate of hospitalizations in Canada related to motor vehicle collisions; and

Whereas Nova Scotians have great difficulty matching CIHI's information with the uncorroborated claims of the insurance industry and its underwriting practices;

Therefore be it resolved that in light of the falling accident rates and lower hospitalizations due to motor vehicle accidents, the House ask the Insurance Bureau of Canada to revisit its claim that soft tissue injury awards are driving skyrocketing insurance rate increases in Nova Scotia.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

[Page 789]

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 527

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

Whereas Martin and Eileen MacKinnon of 6278 Yukon Street, Halifax, make the following suggestion with reference to Premier Hamm's vote me $155 payment; and

Whereas the MacKinnon's suggestion is the taxpayers receiving this payment should donate it to the Liberal Party so that there can be some real change in Nova Scotia when the election is called; and

Whereas if only one-quarter of the Nova Scotia Liberal Party's 21,000 members do this it will put $800,000 into the Liberal Party's election fund, which is far more than the NDP can scape up out of the long-suffering unions of Ontario;

Therefore be it resolved that Martin and Eileen MacKinnon be commended for their timely suggestion, given the insistence of this government on political mischief and it would put the money to better use than anywhere else.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

MR. WILLIAM LANGILLE: Mr. Speaker, I rise today and there are three resolutions and I would request a moment of silence at the end of the third resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member is requesting the consideration of the House to allow for three resolutions to be read, one after another and then for a moment of silence at the end for all three. Is that right?

Is it agreed?

[Page 790]

It is agreed.

The honourable member for Colchester North.

RESOLUTION NO. 528

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

Whereas a former member of this Chamber, Mr. William "Bill" Campbell, passed away yesterday at the age of 83; and

Whereas a member of the constituency of Colchester North from 1978 to 1981, Mr. Campbell not only served the people of the area provincially, he also served municipally as well - as a county councillor for Colchester County and a municipal warden from 1970 to 1973; and

Whereas this former member served proudly as a member of our country's military from 1939, retiring from service in 1969 with the rank of lieutenant colonel, following service overseas during World War II and in peacetime postings in Canada, England, and the Middle East;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House, through the Speaker, express our sympathies to his wife Enid and family on the loss of a friend to the community, province and country, and salute him for his exemplary service which lasted a lifetime.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Pictou East.

[Page 791]

RESOLUTION NO. 529

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

Whereas this House yesterday lost a former member of the Stanfield Administration, Mr. Thomas MacQueen; and

Whereas a member in the Progressive Conservative Government between the years 1967 and 1970, Mr. MacQueen served the people of his community of Pictou East faithfully; and

Whereas Mr. MacQueen, who was a retired fisherman and farmer and a great source of inspiration and guidance to myself and so many others, also served as a volunteer in his church, his Party, and the health community;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House acknowledge the many contributions of Mr. MacQueen, thank him for his loyal service to this House and his community, and extend through the Speaker the condolences of the members of this House to his family on their loss.

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 Eastern Shore.

RESOLUTION NO. 530

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

Whereas Oyster Pond marked a sombre occasion yesterday with the addition of the name of Private Nathan L. Smith to the community cenotaph; and

[Page 792]

Whereas Private Smith perished in a friendly fire artillery incident in Afghanistan one year ago next week, where Canadian troops were deployed to assist the United States in the war on terrorism; and

Whereas the plaque on the cenotaph in honour of Private Smith reads: His life in defence of our freedom - "Lest we Forget";

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature reflect upon the valiant actions of Private Nathan Smith while in service to his country, and remember him not only for his accomplishments to all Nova Scotians, but to all Canadians.

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.

I would ask all members to rise now for a moment of silence in memory of Mr. Bill Campbell, Mr. Thomas MacQueen and Private Nathan Smith.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. Please be seated. We will ensure that the families of the members are notified of the proceedings here today in the House.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Centre.

RESOLUTION NO. 531

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

Whereas Royal Canadian Legion John Bernard Croak VC Branch 3 in Glace Bay is very active with a burgeoning membership; and

[Page 793]

Whereas Branch 3's membership has grown by almost one-third in the last year thanks to the dedicated efforts of Billy Wilson, Chairman of the John Bernard Croak VC's membership committee; and

Whereas in tribute to his incredible work, the Legion's Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command has named him winner of its membership recruitment program for 2002;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate Billy Wilson of the Royal Canadian Legion John Bernard Croak VC Branch 3 in Glace Bay for winning the Legion's Nova Scotia/Nunavut Command membership recruitment program, knowing Branch 3 has a bright future with dedicated members like him.

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 Victoria.

RESOLUTION NO. 532

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

Whereas sure signs of Spring are Spring elections, the growth of tulips, and the increase in the oil rig population in Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas another oil and gas rig has joined the two at Woodside in what seems to be a large-scale effort to search for oil and gas in Halifax Harbour; and

Whereas until the Halifax Harbour is cleaned up, there's a good possibility that the only oil in Halifax Harbour is the slick which rises to the surface from abandoned oil drums;

Therefore be it resolved that the number of oil rigs in Halifax Harbour does not indicate a boom in the offshore, and that the government should encourage companies to search for oil and gas on the high seas and not in Halifax Harbour.

[Page 794]

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 533

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

Whereas on November 1, 2002, the Leader of the Third Party made front-page headlines when he criticized the former Liberal Government's decision to apply harsh financial assessments rules to every nursing home resident; and

Whereas on April 9, 2003, that same Leader of the Third Party made Page 3 headlines when he rushed to Province House to criticize and disassociate himself from the former Liberal Government's P3 financing of schools;

Therefore be it resolved that this House eagerly anticipates the Page 5 headlines the Third Party Leader will win for himself the next time he reminds people that Liberal Government was a disaster for Nova Scotians.

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 Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

[Page 795]

[12:30 p.m.]

RESOLUTION NO. 534

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 caring for those most vulnerable has reached an all-time low when this Tory Government allowed residents in RRSS small options homes to be moved back into institutional settings; and

Whereas this will no doubt have a huge impact on the quality of life for the residents and their families; and

Whereas the Minister of Community Services could have avoided a strike if he had chosen to accept any of the options suggested by the workers;

Therefore be it resolved that this Minister of Community Services be held accountable for his decision and the uncaring attitude of this Tory Government.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear several Noes.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Kings North.

RESOLUTION NO. 535

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

Whereas Two Planks and a Passion Theatre in Canning was founded in 1992 by husband and wife team, Ken Schwartz and Chris O'Neill; and

Whereas the theatre's Ross Creek Centre for the Arts has recently received $850,000 from the Cultural Spaces Canada program; and

[Page 796]

Whereas the money will go towards renovating existing buildings, creating new facilities and purchasing new equipment for the centre which has, for the second year in a row, expanded its summer arts camp program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ken Schwartz, Chris O'Neill and the staff of the Two Planks and a Passion Theatre for their hard work and dedication to the arts in Nova Scotia and wish them much 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 Halifax Needham.

RESOLUTION NO. 536

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

Whereas group-home counsellors walk the picket line today because this government underfunds their employer to the point it cannot meet their reasonable request for wage parity with equivalent workers in the health care sector; and

Whereas the residents of group homes have been dispersed to other locations, including the Nova Scotia Hospital; and

Whereas the province pays the replacement workers for the residents now housed at the Nova Scotia Hospital the very rates that their group-home counterparts are pounding the pavement to get;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Community Services recognize that caregivers, regardless of the institution or organization that employs them, should receive equal pay for equal work and to achieve that for group-home counselors he must fund the Regional Residential Services Society appropriately.

[Page 797]

Mr. Speaker, I seek waiver of notice

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

RESOLUTION NO. 537

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

Whereas it has been nearly 30 years since the Eskasoni highway was last upgraded; and

Whereas during this period, considerable development has taken place particularly in the communities of Northside East Bay and Eskasoni;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works commit to a repaving and upgrading of the Eskasoni highway.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Deputy Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 538

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

Whereas the Kings-Edgehill boys varsity hockey team recently won the Nova Scotia Triple A High School Hockey Championship in Antigonish, with a 3 to 1 victory over the Riverview Redmen; and

Whereas Ryan Knowles of Avondale played a tremendous game and led the tournament in scoring with nine goals, including one in the championships game, while also collecting six assists for 15 points; and

[Page 798]

Whereas the victory capped an astonishing 2002-03 high school hockey season for Kings-Edgehill, as they won 50 of their 57 games played;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this Legislature applaud the efforts of Coach Chris Strickey and the Kings-Edgehill High School boys hockey team on their win and also wish the team every success as 16 players from the team will return to the school for the 2003-04 hockey season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

RESOLUTION NO. 539

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

Whereas the machinery and workings of our federal government are often a mystery to many people; and

Whereas the Forum for Young Canadians brings students from across Canada each year to the nation's capital to be introduced to government institutions such as the House of Commons, the Senate and the Supreme Court among other important and interesting governmental processes; and

Whereas Mr. Luke McLellan of Noel Shore and Ms. Ilona Corbin of Upper Rawdon, honours students with distinction at Hants North Rural High School, were accepted by Forum for Young Canadians to travel to Ottawa this month to see how government works;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly commend students Luke McLellan and Ilona Corbin of Hants North Rural High School for being chosen by the Forum for Young Canadians to visit the federal seat of government in Ottawa.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 799]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 540

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

Whereas this government has consistently turned its back on the people of Nova Scotia; and

Whereas this government's approach is best epitomized in its peculiar rejection of Nova Scotians in favour of the British rock group called Jesus Jones; and

Whereas Jesus may well have walked on water but this government is about to walk the plank;

Therefore be it resolved that the upcoming election should be viewed as a plebiscite on the question do we want Nova Scotia, as represented by the Liberal Party, or do we want Jesus Jones as presented by the Hammites.

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 541

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

Whereas North Sydney's Brandon Crane skated his way to the podium at the Canadian Age Class Short Track Speed Skating Championships last week in Montreal; and

[Page 800]

Whereas the 14-year old won a bronze medal in the 500 metre class for juvenile males; and

Whereas Brandon set a new Nova Scotia record with a time of 46.87 seconds;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House join me in expressing our congratulations to Brandon Crane on his excellent showing at the Canadian Age Class Short Track Speed Skating Championships and wish him continued success in his athletic endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

RESOLUTION NO. 542

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

Whereas the Tantallon Post Office has been expanded to meet the needs of the growing communities within its area; and

Whereas the postal workers at the Tantallon Post Office continue to provide quality service; and

Whereas this new expanded post office serves as a focal point for this growing community;

Therefore be it resolved that the Nova Scotia Legislature congratulate and thank the workers at the Tantallon Post Office for their valuable service with best wishes on their expanded service.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 801]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

RESOLUTION NO. 543

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

Whereas on Monday, April 7th of this week, the provincial Justice Minister, the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill; the MLA for Cumberland South; and the MLA for Eastern Shore met with the federal Solicitor General in Ottawa; and

Whereas the Nova Scotia delegation requested and encouraged the federal Solicitor General to place the catastrophic $1 billion boondoggle known as the Firearms Act in moratorium; and

Whereas at the very least, the federal Liberals in Ottawa should immediately scrap the long-gun registry component of the federal Firearms Act;

Therefore be it resolved that this Legislature commend the Nova Scotia MLAs for taking time out of their very busy schedule and travelling to Ottawa to further advance Nova Scotia's position against the federal Firearms Act, the $1 billion boondoggle.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

[Page 802]

RESOLUTION NO. 544

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

Whereas the provincial government has declared adult learning a priority for Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the high school equivalency program for adult learners at St. Paul's Resource Centre in Spryfield has been closed due to a lack of funding; and

Whereas a very successful business program for adults at J.L. Ilsley High School was terminated despite the efforts of many groups in the community who recognized its great value;

Therefore be it resolved that the Minister of Education honour this government's commitment to adult learning as a priority by reopening the business program for adults at J.L. Ilsley High School and by supporting the GED program at St. Paul's Resource Centre.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect.

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

Whereas the P3 method of school financing brought in by the Liberals was an unmitigated disaster from conception to demise, and Liberal Leader Danny Graham has said never again will Liberals pursue it; and

Whereas the Department of Education states that thirty-three P3 schools amassed cost overruns of $27 million without including figures for the first six P3 schools and community access has been severely limited; and

[Page 803]

Whereas in spite of his own Leader's opposition and all the evidence to the contrary, the member for Cape Breton West stated yesterday that he recommends P3 as a process second to none, an innovative way to provide infrastructure;

Therefore be it resolved that the member for Cape Breton West be applauded for his support for the P3 school process as a way, second to none, to show Liberal confusion and lack of cohesion and an innovative way to highlight differences between his Liberal Leader and those of the caucus.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The resolution is way too long. (Interruption) No, he will not repeat it.

The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 545

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

Whereas J.L. Ilsley High School recently announced the launching of its Just Live It - be active! program; and

Whereas the parents, youth and community representatives have been working hard to identify ways to involve the entire community in physical activities; and

Whereas Just Live It - be active! will provide innovative ways to enhance a healthy and active lifestyle for the J.L. Ilsley High School community;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Vice-Principal Linda Lund, Area Coordinator Mary Angela Munro, and J.L. Ilsley High School student Cassey Malone for the Just Live It - be active! project to promote physical activity in their community.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

[Page 804]

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 546

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

Whereas the Annapolis Valley Exhibition was honoured late last year by the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture for being an outstanding example of an agricultural fair in this province; and

Whereas the Federation presented its 2002 Agricultural Awareness Award to the exhibition's board of directors and President Robert Noble, representing the Annapolis County Federation of Agriculture; and

Whereas Annapolis County Federation of Agriculture executive member Darlene Den Haan paid tribute to people such as exhibition executive member Anthony Van Oostrum, and all members of the executive, for working so hard to ensure the exhibition keeps growing while maintaining an old-fashioned flavour to it each and every year;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs in this House of Assembly applaud the efforts of the Annapolis Valley Exhibition's board of directors and wish them continued success in staging one of Nova Scotia's most favourite and best exhibitions each and every year in Lawrencetown.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Hants East.

[Page 805]

RESOLUTION NO. 547

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

Whereas volunteer organizations such as fire brigades and search and rescue units are vital to the well-being of our communities; and

Whereas an ability to contact the members of such emergency organizations in an expedient and professional manner greatly adds to the effectiveness of their response; and

Whereas Ms. Colleen Nesseth, former dispatch operator and the voice of the "Shubie Dispatch", gave many long and selfless hours professionally relaying emergency messages from distraught callers to the appropriate authorities above and beyond the terms of her employment and call of duty;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly recognize Colleen Nesseth's outstanding contribution to the safety and well-being of Hants East and surrounding residents as a volunteer dispatch operator and her example of professionalism for all emergency dispatch personnel.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 12:45 p.m. and end at 1:45 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

[Page 806]

INSURANCE: CONSUMERS ADVOCATE - APPT.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, Calvin Williams is 68 years old. Last year his insurance jumped by 239 per cent; it went from $1,100 to $4,000. Mr. Williams says it's getting too expensive to live in Nova Scotia and he says he's considering moving. Last year we called for an independent consumer's advocate to protect the rights of Nova Scotians, and we've re-introduced that bill today. I would like to ask the minister responsible for skyrocketing insurance premiums, why won't you guarantee Nova Scotians, and in particular seniors, an independent consumers' advocate who will act on the hundreds of complaints that your government has received?

[12:45 p.m.]

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I hate to pre-empt myself, however I'm going to, to tell the honourable member opposite that we will be doing so tomorrow morning.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, of course, we will be looking to the legislation that gives the consumer advocate their legislative ability to do this and not some consulting role that the minister has described before. It's important to understand how unfair skyrocketing insurance rates are to Nova Scotians, and in particular to seniors. On average, the superintendent of insurance receives 130 complaints of all types on insurance; over the year. In the four months leading up to February 2002, the superintendent had recorded 500 complaints regarding auto insurance alone, the majority of those complaints were made by seniors. So my question to the minister responsible for skyrocketing auto insurance is this, your department has known for more than a year that seniors and others were demanding action on auto insurance, why did you ignore this flood of complaints for a year before taking action?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, au contraire, actually last February, 12 months ago, 14 months ago now, we initiated a call to the URB. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order. Order, please. Order. The honourable Minister of Environment and Labour has the floor.

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as I said, in February 2002, we initiated a process whereby the URB would examine the rates for auto insurance. That's 14 months ago.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the minister who thinks that auto insurance premiums are dictated by flat roads also seems to think that it was their side of the House that made the recommendation to go to the URB, when in fact that suggestion came from this side of the House. Complaints are skyrocketing, just the same way the rates are skyrocketing, and this government keeps talking about a plan but fails to introduce one. While they stall, Nova Scotians' concerns go unanswered. They haven't even hired their own consultant to begin

[Page 807]

this process. Complaints are piling up. My question for the minister is, when will the government bring in a plan for auto insurance in Nova Scotia?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, we're being very clear. When the consultation process, which is presently ongoing, comes to an end, around about May 15th I believe, shortly after that, we will be taking the consensus of the views of Nova Scotians and translating that into action.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - CARE: FUNDING (NEW) - CONFIRM

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. According to provincial documents received last week and corrections that have been issued again this week, it would appear that the federal government has given the province $120 million this year to fund health care. But what these documents fail to show is that the current minister's predecessor also signed a federal health agreement in the year 2000, and I would like to table this document. In this document, it states that Nova Scotia will get an additional $20 million this current year, 2003-04, for health through the CHST. You talk about accountability and good accounting practices and transparency, we've gone, reporting the federal monies coming in for health care this year, from $105 million to $120 million, and now we find it's actually $140 million. Will the minister here today stand in her place and confirm that the amount of new provincial dollars is a mere $300,000, for a total of $104.3 million and $104 million is federal monies coming in, and this province has only put $300,000 in new money into health care this year. Will the minister confirm that?

HON. JANE PURVES: Au contraire, Mr. Speaker. (Interruptions) The new money from Ottawa, if, according to Liberal calculations, money given in the year 2000 was new money - which it isn't - then it's no wonder some of them are still advocating P3 schools. (Laughter)

DR. SMITH: Well that's a real comedy act. For a minister who failed in her seat in Ottawa and had nothing to say, and she's apparently had nothing to say at a provincial Cabinet seat either, because she failed here as well. She can make light of it and she can speak in several languages but she's speaking with a forked tongue.

We have $300,000, compared to the $68 million going into the $155 cheque. Very interesting. The cold reality is that here, in Nova Scotia, the people would rather have an open emergency room in their community than a $155 cheque. You go and ask them and you will find out.

[Page 808]

This minister failed in getting a needs-based funding for Nova Scotia at the federal table, while the Northwest Territories and Yukon succeeded. My question to the minister is, will this minister now admit that she's also a failure at the provincial Cabinet Table in getting new provincial dollars for health care, a mere $300,000.

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the biggest comedy act in here today, is to have the member's opposite defending a Liberal Government that puts less than 18 per cent of the health care money into a $2 billion budget in this province.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, that minister is not only speaking with a forked tongue, she's misleading the House. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member's microphone is off. Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East's comments are, in my mind, bridging on unparliamentary. I would ask the honourable member to retract that last statement and put his supplementary question, please.

DR. SMITH: Okay.

MR. SPEAKER: Just say sorry and then ask your question.

DR. SMITH: First of all, Mr. Speaker, I will retract my comment about misleading the House . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. On your supplementary question.

DR. SMITH: . . . but she has misinformation that she's bringing to the House. The federal government . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Your supplementary question.

DR. SMITH: . . . puts far more than 12 per cent or 18 per cent and she knows it. It has to do with tax points.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

DR. SMITH: One thing has become crystal clear, that this government's pleading and begging to Ottawa for more money wasn't about health care at all, it was about a tax scheme, and that's a fact and the Deputy Premier knows it as well and don't look amazed.

My question to the minister is, will the minister please admit that the $155 rebate cheque was more important to her and her government, than making a provincial investment in health care.

[Page 809]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the provincial investment in health care is more than 80 per cent of the total health care budget. Every province agrees on that figure; a committee of prominent Canadians - Commissioner Romanow, et cetera, including a lot of prominent Liberals locally - agree with that figure and I would suggest that the member opposite pay attention to some of the people in his own Party.

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

VOL. FDs - INSURANCE: AVAILABILITY - ENSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Environment and Labour. The minister knows the invaluable role played by volunteer firefighters in communities right across this province. These volunteers spend countless hours in a wide variety of community service roles so it comes as a shock to learn that the insurance industry has set its sights on the volunteer fire departments. The Port Hastings volunteers have just had a scare they don't need - their insurance company told them that it would not provide liability insurance coverage for the fire hall. So my question for the minister is, when will the minister tell this House what his government intends to do to make sure the liability insurance is available for volunteer fire departments?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, what is the government doing about the situation with volunteer fire departments and liability insurance? Well, yesterday or the day before, I forget which day it was, but I think it was probably yesterday, the fire marshal met with a number of fire departments who are having problems and has made suitable arrangements for liability insurance for those fire departments. (Applause)

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it's no exaggeration to say that volunteer fire departments are the backbone of many Nova Scotia communities, especially our rural communities. We all know how hard they have worked to be ready when their neighbours need them. There's no better example of people helping people than in a volunteer fire department. Fortunately for Port Hastings, they were able to obtain their insurance from another company, they won't have to close the fire hall. But here's the rub - the premium has increased by 100 per cent. So my question for the minister is, what plan does your government have to make sure that volunteer fire departments have affordable liability insurance coverage for their fire halls?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, this government doesn't need any preaching from the member opposite with regard to looking after volunteer firefighters. I can assure the honourable member that this government has done more for volunteer firefighters than any preceding government that I'm aware of over the last 20 years. (Applause) Volunteer firefighters are the backbone of all of the communities outside of the urban areas where they have professional firefighting. They are the spark plugs that make things happen and I can

[Page 810]

assure you that this government has not and will not neglect volunteer firefighters in this province. (Applause)

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, you know, the minister is amusing and even sometimes entertaining, but I just wish he'd answer a question. That would be the operative thing to do. They were good enough to introduce our bill to support volunteer firefighters, they can't bring out anything of their own. We are told that fewer people are volunteering and no wonder when they sign up for community service and they get slapped in the face by skyrocketing insurance premium increases for their community fire hall. Volunteer firefighters are an essential community asset who deserve and who need your support on this issue. I ask the minister this, why won't your government do for the volunteer firefighters of this province what it has already done for some social services agencies and provide liability insurance coverage?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I listened very carefully to the question from the honourable member and he started off his preface by remarking that the government was evidently stealing the platform of the New Democratic Party. I can tell you offhand, we intend to win the next election and if we adopted the platform of that crowd across the rows, we certainly would not win the election. (Applause)

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

AGRIC. & FISH. - CROP INSURANCE PROG.:

CONSULTATION - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Agriculture and Marketing. Earlier in the week the minister announced a crop insurance program for the agricultural community of Nova Scotia. Concern was raised by the Executive Director, Mr. Laurence Nason, that the agricultural community was not consulted. My question to the minister is, why did he pursue making an announcement without consulting the agricultural community?

[1:00 p.m.]

HON. GORDON BALSER: Au contraire, Mr. Speaker. (Laughter) They were consulted. In fact, some number of months ago he was involved in meetings. This is something that they were aware of. I think perhaps what has happened is some confusion about the new program that's being talked about in terms of enhanced crop insurance coverage and the existing program.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Nason publicly indicated that the agricultural community was not consulted. The Federation of Agriculture represents one of the single largest stakeholders in this province and there is little or no reason why he would make such

[Page 811]

a statement if it were not true. My question to the minister is, why is he being so arrogant toward the Federation of Agriculture on this vital issue?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I think maybe what's happening here is there is some confusion about the current program and the agricultural policy framework and the discussions around an enhanced, expanded insurance program. The current program is one that has been place. There is a structure whereby the industry does have consultation with members of the department before those decisions are undertaken.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, Mr. Nason, on behalf of the Federation of Agriculture, appeared before one of our legislative committees only weeks ago complaining about the lack of consultation with AgraPoint and indeed the Nova Scotia Department of Agriculture and Marketing. So my question quite simply is, why is the minister trying to mislead this House into having people of Nova Scotia believe that he consulted with the Federation of Agriculture when in fact they are simply saying that he did not?

MR. BALSER: Mr. Speaker, again, nationally we are undertaking the development of an agricultural policy framework. The discussions around that policy are the most extensive in the history of the agriculture industry in Canada. There have been comprehensive and inclusive discussions with the industry and with the various sectors.

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

EMO - FLOOD (03/03): DISASTER RELIEF - ENSURE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, the residents of West Main Street in Kentville have had their homes devastated by recent flooding. Now it's been nearly two weeks and Murray Martin's basement is still flooded. What's worse is the flood knocked over his oil tank and has made his house uninhabitable. The smell of oil has permeated everything his family owns. Mr. Martin has just learned the disaster relief funding offered him and the other affected residents will only cover $50,000 in clean-up costs. My question is to the minister responsible for EMO, what are you going to do today to ensure that residents whose houses were devastated by this flood will be provided with enough disaster relief to rebuild their lives?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I thank the member for the question. It certainly is an issue that is causing concern among many Nova Scotians who have suffered during this disaster. The federal program is set up to ensure that the residents who have suffered losses, that their homes can be repaired to the extent that the homes then become habitable. This is not an insurance policy or a compensation plan, it's to try to get them back into their homes and all issues related to the eligibility of those claims will be reviewed by the committee and those decisions will be forthcoming soon. I think it may be somewhat

[Page 812]

premature to single out particular issues because, in fact, evaluation of the eligible cost has not been completed.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, oil and water have filled Mr. Martin's basement for almost two weeks. There is a sheen of oil on virtually everything he owns. His house reeks of oil, every item in the house is contaminated. More than Mr. Martin, there are five affected families who all worry that the $50,000 limit won't cover the cost of the significant damages to their homes. I want to ask the minister for his personal assurance that these people will be provided with enough disaster relief to cover the true costs of cleanup and damage.

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I would like to advise the member and all members of the House that the Department of Environment and Labour is doing environmental testing in all of the affected areas in Nova Scotia, and we are waiting for those reports.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, this is a question about the amount of disaster relief that is available. The cost of cleaning up an oil spill can run well over $100,000, even $150,000.It is unlikely that $50,000 will cover the damage that has been done to these people's homes. Surely the minister agrees that these families don't deserve to face financial ruin simply because they were unlucky enough to be struck by a flood. My question to the minister is this, what exactly are you going to do to ensure that these people get adequate disaster relief, and when are you going to do it?

MR. OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, we are awaiting the results, as I indicated, of the environmental testing throughout Nova Scotia in those areas where there is oil damage, apparent oil damage. Once we get those results, the government and its committee will review all of those claims and take the appropriate action to ensure that all Nova Scotians are protected against the results of this disaster.

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

EDUC. - GOODWIN FAMILY (BARRINGTON PASSAGE):

ASSISTANCE - DETAILS

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Education. For almost two years, this government has refused to provide the parents in Barrington Passage with an answer about their sick school. Gail and Layton Goodwin have told my office about their 14-year-old son, Tyrell, that Barrington Municipal High School has made him seriously ill. In the summer, this young man was healthy. In September, Tyrell started getting headaches, a sore throat and various other symptoms. In March, Gail Goodwin requested a transfer to Drumlin Heights. The Goodwin's family doctor says a change of environment would be good for her son, but he has been refused. Last month, Tyrell came home spitting up blood from a severe infection. Tyrell's mom says,

[Page 813]

under no circumstances will her son return to Barrington Municipal High School. Mr. Minister, what are you going to do to help the Goodwin family?

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. We continue to evaluate the situation at Barrington. We have received recent reports, and doctors who are involved in doing the evaluation have requested that they be given some time to do additional studies. We are awaiting those reports. I can tell the honourable member that we continue to monitor the situation very carefully.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, according to parent Marilee Ross, 25 students have already transferred out of Barrington Municipal High School, six more students, however, have been denied transfer to Drumlin Heights. These parents, incidentally, have contacted a lawyer. They're planning to take this government on about this issue. They're trying, however, to get straight answers from the Minister of Education. Parents recently received a copy of a memo from Dennis Cochrane, the Deputy Minister of Education to this minister, and I'm going to table it. The memo acknowledges that there is a problem at the school, but it calls for further study. Mr. Minister, is it the plan of your department to continue to study this school while these young people get sicker and sicker?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member can appreciate that whatever action is taken to correct the situation that exists at Barrington or to identify the situation at Barrington cannot be determined overnight and it requires considerable analysis and we will make our decisions based on the analysis that is provided to us. When we feel that we're in a position to make a decision with respect to the future of that facility, we will be making the decision.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, Barrington Passage parents do not deserve to send their children to a sick school. A year ago I stood in this House and asked the same questions without referring to young Tyrell Goodwin. I have been to that school, Mr. Minister. Your deputy minister took a whirlwind trip, made a report and nothing has been done, absolutely nothing has been done. What can the people of Barrington Municipal High School expect? What is your advice to me, as the Education Critic for the Official Opposition, when I return this phone call tonight to Tyrell Goodwin and his family, what do you suggest I say to her?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I have also visited the school and I met with officials of the school board, I met with members of the staff, I met with municipal leaders and other concerned citizens in that community and I outlined on that occasion the proposed course of action which we intended to follow with respect to coming to a conclusion on the future of the school. We are following through on that committed course of action.

[Page 814]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

PREM. - SPENDING COMMITMENT: FAILURE - EXPLAIN

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, on April 28, 2001, the Premier gave a speech to the Construction Management Bureau in which he was talking about the yearly interest paid on our debt. In the speech the Premier said of the debt servicing charges, "That's more than we spend on public school education. It doesn't buy one textbook, it doesn't pay one teacher, and it doesn't help to heat or light a single school." The Premier went on to further say, "We are going to balance the budget in three years, and begin reducing the debt and capturing those lost dollars in interest for Nova Scotians." Under this Premier's leadership and over the course of the next three budgets, this government is today projecting that it will pay an additional $367 million in interest on the debt of this province. My question to the Premier is, why has the Premier failed to live up to his commitment to begin spending these yearly interest dollars on programs and services instead of increasing the amount of Nova Scotians' money that goes to banks?

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, the challenges that this government faced back in 1999 were considerable. From 1993 to 1999, $3.6 billion was added to the provincial debt. One-third of the provincial debt was added in six years. The first step was to balance the budget which was clearly one of the commitments we made and we said we would do it in the year that we did it. That was number one.

Number two, we said we would reduce the exposure of foreign currency in our debt and we have reduced it from 51 per cent to 20 per cent. We indicated that surpluses would go to the debt and the Minister of Finance was able to articulate that recently when he announced that the surplus for last year was, in fact, going to the debt. It was $14.5 million. We also reduced the debt to the GDP and we reduced that by over 46 per cent, down to 42 per cent. It will go down to 41 per cent this year.

The fifth commitment we made was we would then, once we achieved all of these things, would provide a calendar as to when we would, in fact, balance the amortization of debt and the expenditure on amortized cost. That will be our fifth commitment and it will be kept prior to us finishing this mandate.

[1:15 p.m.]

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Premier, it's ironic the word for word advice to the Premier from Mr. Batherson is exactly what the Premier gave us here rather than the open, honest and accountable government he told us he would give us. This is the Premier who in 1999 said I can do all of the commitments that he listed and I can do it without having to borrow one cent. That is what this Premier said. His failure to live up to this commitment will have implications for generations to come. The $367 million in debt services is enough to hire an

[Page 815]

additional 6,000 nurses, is enough to pay for 6,500 teachers and enough to pay for 840,000 new textbooks for our schools.

Mr. Speaker, the Premier also said, "If you want to protect education, and I don't mean just for today, but for tomorrow and the foreseeable future, then we have to start to recapture that $900 million dollars so it can be put back into education and other priorities." Under this Premier's leadership, next year the yearly debt servicing interest costs will be $1 billion under this Tory Administration. That's $1 billion of Nova Scotians' money that's going to banks instead of programs and services.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: I ask the Premier, why won't you simply admit that the Premier was not being up front to Nova Scotians when he said he would not borrow money and that he would reduce debt servicing charges the minute he got elected?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, it must be awfully discouraging to the members of that caucus when they look at what we promised to do in 1999 - as written in the blue book - and we have followed to the letter the blue book and we continue to follow the blue book and we are going to deliver the blue book and, if the electorate is willing, we will deliver blue book two as well.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, more and more the veil is being lifted, as I said, and Nova Scotians are seeing the real face behind this Premier who is smiling back at them and spending our money with no end in sight. That additional $367 million in debt servicing costs would be enough to twin Highway No. 104 from New Glasgow to Sydney without having to rely on one cent from Ottawa and without having to add one cent to our debt. It would be enough to fix the decaying bridges in this province. This Premier who made such commitments in 1999 is continuing to put the future of our children and generations to come at risk because there's no end to the borrowing in sight.

MR. SPEAKER: Question, please.

MR. SAMSON: My final supplementary is why is this Premier, who preached and made so many commitments in 1999 that he has failed to live up to, continuing to jeopardize the future by failing today with a debt so that we don't have to send $1 billion to the bank tomorrow?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, if the member opposite would do a little bit of mathematics, if we hadn't increased the debt of this province $3.6 billion from 1993 to 1999, we wouldn't have to send $1 billion to the bank, we would have to send less than $700 million to the bank. We would have a $300 million surplus if from 1993 to 1999 the debt had not increased $3.6 billion.

[Page 816]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

HEALTH - LONG-TERM CARE: PERSONAL ALLOWANCE -

FREEZE EXPLAIN

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. Seniors and other residents in long-term care have not had an increase in their monthly $105 personal allowance for at least 10 years. This allowance set by the Minister of Health is used by residents for phone services, toiletries, haircuts, clothing, small things they need. One of the options the Minister of Health had when she recently scrambled to try to make up a plan for long-term care was to increase this allowance. I want to ask the minister to explain why she chose to continue to put the squeeze on seniors and nursing home residents by freezing this meagre allowance?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I agree with the member opposite that that allowance is something that has to be dealt with, but we are proceeding with a step-wise plan to reduce the medical costs of people in nursing homes and at the end of our four-year plan, we will have a new system in place and that system will help all the residents of the nursing homes.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Au contraire, Mr. Speaker, seniors have been waiting for a long time for an increase in this allowance and 14 years is way too long. Nursing home staff have told us that many seniors in these homes must rely on families to provide toiletry items, clothing and personal needs. Those who don't have family, do without or they rely on the kindness of these nursing home staff. I want to ask the Minister of Health, instead of using Romanow money for Tory tax cuts, why didn't you use the infusion of health care dollars to help those who need it more by giving an increase to this allowance?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, there are many issues that affect seniors that need to be addressed, there are many issues in the whole health care system and across other systems in the province that need to be addressed. The one thing the member opposite continually fails to understand is that we have to be able to pay for them.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, staff in continuing care facilities are collecting refundable bottles and using the proceeds to buy toiletry items for seniors who would otherwise go without basic supplies like tissues and hand cream. Instead of addressing this problem, the minister and her government are putting Romanow money into Tory tax cuts. I want to ask the Minister of Health, how can your government justify attempting to buy the goodwill of Nova Scotia voters when there are seniors in nursing homes who can't even afford to buy a box of Kleenex?

[Page 817]

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, we are well aware of many of the issues with seniors. That is why we're putting more money this year into nursing home costs, that's why we're freezing Pharmacare premiums. Indeed, we're making a substantial investment to help all seniors this year.

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

JUSTICE - RESTORATIVE JUSTICE:

SEXUAL ASSAULT/VIOLENCE - VICTIMS EXEMPT

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Justice. Restorative justice has been a part of the legal system in Nova Scotia now for a few years, but today we've heard from several women's groups about how restorative justice has had a negative impact on women who are victims of sexual assault or violence. Restorative justice requires the victim and the abuser to have to confront each other as a means of the abuser not going to court. The independent report issued today noted that women have "shock and fear" in having to use this process to sentence an abuser. However, currently there is a self-imposed moratorium by the Department of Justice on these crimes going through.

My question, Mr. Speaker, to the Minister of Justice is, is the minister prepared to admit that sexual assault and violent crimes against women should not be a part of the restorative justice system and that the moratorium be imposed on a permanent basis?

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, quite frankly, this study that he's quoting from, we haven't seen that, to be honest, and we'll judge the study when we see it. But the fact is, as the honourable member said, this is not an issue in Nova Scotia right now because there is a moratorium and with violent crimes and sexual assault restorative justice is not part of that.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, the problem is that there are many women in this province who are fearful that that moratorium will not be permanent but is only temporary and that they will be forced to use this system if they are victims of violence or sexual assault. In particular, also, women's groups are very nervous about that moratorium being lifted, because of the impact on them. Specifically, groups like the Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and women's centres in this province have already had a bad hand dealt to them by this government and they're worried that if that moratorium is lifted and these crimes are again put into the restorative justice system, as is proposed by this government, that it will be unbearable on those centres.

[Page 818]

So my question to the Minister of Justice is, will he ensure that groups like Avalon Sexual Assault Centre and women's centres in this province will be part of discussions for a permanent decision and process with regard to restorative justice to ensure that victims of abuse and violence are at the table negotiating a permanent solution?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is trying to make an issue out of something that currently doesn't exist in Nova Scotia in terms of that, because those violent and sexual assaults restorative justice process does not apply to them. This department has consulted with women's groups for many years and will continue to do so in the future.

MR. DEVEAUX: Mr. Speaker, since the minister says he doesn't have a copy, I will table a copy of the report. There are specific quotes from very many women in this province who have fear about the system as it currently stands. One of the key recommendations of this report is that the current restorative justice system is not workable for victims of violence and sexual assault. That's the bottom line of the report. My question to the Minister of Justice is, is the Minister of Justice committed to ensuring, on a permanent basis, that this current restorative justice system will not be used for sexual assault and violent crimes against women and that a new system will be developed to protect the victims of violence?

MR. MUIR: Mr. Speaker, as the honourable member may know, when the Restorative Justice Program was thought about here in Nova Scotia, there was some suggestion that referrals of sexual abuse and spousal abuse were contemplated. That's never been the case here in Nova Scotia, and it was going to be after sentencing. We will continue to work with women's groups. Right now, it's not an issue. It doesn't exist in this province, and we have no intention at the current time of changing the present system. I think what he's trying to do is get on another bandwagon.

AN HON. MEMBER: Fearmongering.

MR. MUIR: Fearmongering, absolutely.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

PREM. - TAXPAYERS: FAVOURITISM - EXPLAIN

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. The Tory Government has been proudly advertising the $155 rebate for Nova Scotians - the 21st Century rum bottle. This government is showing its contempt for many Nova Scotians who have worked hard all their lives but who have suffered disability or other setbacks. My question to the Premier is, why does your government feel some taxpayers are more important than others?

[Page 819]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, this government came to office determined that throughout the course of its mandate all Nova Scotians would benefit from our policies. I believe taxpayers deserve help. I believe minimum wage earners need help, and we delivered that help today. I believe children need help, and that's why we participated in the National Child Benefit with the federal government providing children, not only on Community Services Programs but in low-income families, a guaranteed payment from government.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, with his permission I refer to a copy of an e-mail that was sent to the Premier from Michael Paxton-Cole of Digby. He is on a disability pension and his wife has a CPP retirement pension. Together they make less than $15,000. He asks, "What happens to people that don't earn enough to pay taxes?" I understand that Mr. Paxton- Cole hasn't received an answer from the Premier to that question. Perhaps we can get an answer for him today. My question to the Premier is, what happens to people who don't earn enough to pay taxes?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, one of the programs this government is very proud of is our educate to work program, which is part of our Community Services programming. As a result of providing the appropriate supports for those on income assistance, on Community Services, as of today, 9,000 Nova Scotians, many of whom have families, are no longer receiving Community Services programs but are actively engaged in the workforce. Our government programs are designed to allow people to escape the very situations that the member opposite describes.

[1:30 p.m.]

MR. GAUDET: The Premier knows that these individuals don't qualify for assistance from Community Services. He knows that. We've received other letters from Nova Scotians who have worked and paid income tax for most of their lives. Now, when they've had some misfortune and are struggling to pay higher costs on a severely reduced income, their government turns its back on them. That same government has been taking its sales tax windfall on higher insurance and on fuel costs. My final question to the Premier is, when will you acknowledge that low-income Nova Scotians deserve a share of your windfall and find a way to ensure that they too get some meaningful relief from the brutally high costs they've suffered to keep warm this past winter?

THE PREMIER: Nova Scotians know that working families need a tax break, and I think because, gradually, Nova Scotians are becoming acquainted with the tax relief that this government is going to provide them. Because of the initiative of this government, 3,500 low-income Nova Scotians that used to pay tax, because of the changes we have made, will pay no tax. (Applause)

[Page 820]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

COMMUN. SERV. - JOB ACTION: REASON - MIN. EXPLAIN

MR. JERRY PYE: This is a very important question, Mr. Speaker. Today the workers at group homes operated by the Regional Residential Services Society have gone on strike. They are asking that the disparity be addressed between their wages and those of workers doing the same job in institutional settings. So far the Minister of Community Services has refused to step in and help resolve this situation. I ask the minister, how could you force these workers into taking job action for such a reasonable request?

HON. DAVID MORSE: I thank the member opposite for his question, and indeed the workers have commenced job action effective 7:30 this morning. I regret they felt that they needed to make that decision because I think a lot of the members there are very caring people who are interested in the interests of the residents. I share that concern, as does the service provider, that being Regional Residential Services Society, which in fact provides the service and the care to those residents which is funded by Community Services. We fund the sector, we do not negotiate with individual service providers. Thank you.

MR. PYE: The minister is quite right. He does fund the service sector but, if he puts more money on the table, I am sure that negotiations will begin tomorrow. These workers didn't want to take job action, but they cannot continue to work for $5 an hour less than their counterparts in institutional settings. It wasn't too long ago that these very same workers were expected to be happy with living below the poverty line to work in highly demanding jobs that require a high level of training. They are asking for what is fair and nothing more. How can the Minister of Community Services look these families in the eye as he says he has done all he can when the department won't even come to the bargaining table in good faith?

MR. MORSE: I thank the member opposite for his question. It's interesting that he would suggest that the department would come to the bargaining table when we're not part of the negotiations. Mr. Speaker, I would refer back to some of my earlier comments on this. Four years ago we worked with this sector, we worked to create a vision of what is the appropriate level of care for those residents, and with the sector we came up with higher standards. We put it geographically across the province; there is geographical pay equity. The wages were increased from as low as $6 an hour in some cases, and are now $13.70 an hour. Substantial new funds have been put towards the care of the residents in that sector.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind the minister that his department and he are the ghosts at the table, they are the ones who pull the strings here. Community Services has allowed families to be pressured to take residents home or they would be put in an institutional setting, causing great distress. If the families could care for these loved ones at home, they wouldn't be in the residential program in the first place. My question to the minister is, how long is the Minister of Community Services prepared to sit back and allow

[Page 821]

this situation to deteriorate before he lives up his responsibility to those vulnerable residents and their families?

MR. MORSE: Mr. Speaker, I appreciate the member opposite giving me the chance to assure the residents, their families, Nova Scotians - as I have done personally and through the House - that we are doing all that we can to minimize the disruption to the residents. In fact, of 178 residents who are affected by this, 151 are either with their families, remain in the same facilities or supervised apartments. Yes, unfortunately, 27 have been taken into a nurses' residence, which is not an institutional setting, and I personally have gone out there to get the assurance that they are properly being cared for by the RRSS with their contingency plan.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - NURSING STRATEGY: EFFECTIVENESS - JUSTIFY

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Health. Bill No. 68 saw the loss of almost 1,200 nurses in Nova Scotia, which we have never recovered from. District health authorities currently cannot fill positions (Interruptions)

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I will start again with your permission. Bill No. 68 saw the loss of almost 1,200 licensed nurses in Nova Scotia, and we have never recovered. District health authorities cannot fill nursing positions, hospitals are forced to cancel surgeries because there are not enough nurses to cover operating rooms, yet this Minister of Health still claims that her government's nursing strategy is working for Nova Scotians. My question to the minister is, if the nursing strategy is working, why are there less nurses, unfilled nursing positions, and cancelled surgeries?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, the nursing strategy is working. We are seeing an improvement in our retention of nurses, and we are causing seats to be opened up in the nursing schools. I would suggest that part of the reason we have a problem in the first place is a government that paid nurses to leave and cut the seats in the nursing schools. (Interruptions)

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I don't care what language he's speaking, I'm not going to take the bait this time. We know that many nurses will soon be retiring and they will need to be replaced. Now this minister has told us that many nursing graduates don't find work in Nova Scotia because there are limited positions for them because they are new graduates, yet the minister claims her government's nursing strategy is working for Nova Scotians and for nurses. My question to the minister is, how are new graduates going to get the experience

[Page 822]

they need to replace retiring nurses and stay in Nova Scotia when this government tells them that there are no positions for them?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I noted with interest an article in today's Chronicle-Herald by the nurse recruiter for the QE II entitled "Capital Health welcomes new nurses" in which it explains how one DHA is hiring new nurses and has jobs for nurses. I will table that document. (Interruptions)

DR. SMITH: I read that article as well and I think it's a good article, but it still begs the question, there are less nurses working in Nova Scotia than there were in 1999. My final supplementary (Interruptions)

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

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, to recap quickly, essentially we have less nurses, we have more unfilled nursing positions, we have cancelled surgeries, we have recent graduates who are not qualifying for the jobs, and that's the issue. That's the issue in the article as well. Nurses are overworked. We have a crisis in nursing and we have a nursing crisis. Yet, we are told to believe that this nursing strategy of this government is working. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Dartmouth East on his final supplementary, please.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question to the minister simply is, how can she stand in this House and say that her government's nursing strategy is working when Nova Scotia's nurses of tomorrow, the recent graduates, are being told not to bother to apply?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, if he had read that article, he would know that graduates are not being told any such thing. Our nursing strategy is working and it's working because it is not the government's strategy, it is the strategy of nurses.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Fairview.

FIN. - TAX CUT: DISBURSEMENT - FAIRNESS EXPLAIN

MR. GRAHAM STEELE: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Mr. Premier, according to the Department of Finance's own figures, the top 5 per cent of income earners in Nova Scotia are going to get 40 per cent of a tax cut. Why is that fair?

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

[Page 823]

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite asked for information from staff and it was forwarded to him. It doesn't come as a surprise that the people who are in the high income bracket, obviously will get a higher percentage because income tax is a progressive tax. (Interruptions)

If I misspoke, I apologize, Mr. Speaker. The people who make more also pay more taxes because the income tax is a progressive tax and the facts speak for themselves. We expected that and what we have put in place is exactly what people expected.

MR. STEELE: Mr. Speaker, that Premier and that minister don't understand the reality of today's families. The reality of today's families is that the HST on a full tank of heating oil is $60 or more. You pay the same amount whether your income is $10,000 or $100,000. My question to the Premier, according to the Department of Finance's figures, Nova Scotians with annual incomes under $30,000, which is 72 per cent of the total, will get 18 per cent of the tax cut. Why is that fair?

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

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite speaks about the lower bracket and the fact of the matter is in this budget, 3,500 people who are in the lower income bracket will not pay any income tax whatsoever, but the other thing that we should also point out is the income tax cuts that we put in place, the highest percentage was in the lower brackets and the changes that we have been putting in place are to continue our economy to grow. That is something that the NDP fails to recognize. That is why (Interruptions)

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

The honourable member of the Official Opposition on an introduction.

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I just wanted to introduce in the west gallery joining us today is Vince Hall. He's a councillor in the CBRM and he's here to watch the proceedings. I understand that according to the member for Cape Breton Nova, Mr. Hall's apparently a well-known cat wrangler. Now, I don't know what that is, but I understand it's supposed to be a compliment. I don't know what he's going to learn here today, but certainly we welcome him. (Applause)

[1:45 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: We certainly welcome Mr. Hall to the gallery today.

[Page 824]

GOVERNMENT BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Government House Leader.

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

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, I stand in my place today to say a few words about my constituency before we go into Supply, and a few things about the ministerial statement today around minimum wage. But first let me say that these are indeed hard times for a lot of Nova Scotians and indeed they're extremely hard times for the people that I represent in the riding of Cape Breton Centre. We, like probably no other communities, have suffered massive hits of unemployment. Unemployment - not because the industries they were involved with had died a natural death through the economy and there was nothing there to replace those jobs - almost to a person, all those job losses were the direct result of government intervention into the economy and taking those jobs out of there.

Indeed, I speak of the coal and steel industry. These were well paying jobs and for years they were jobs that built this very province, jobs that certainly helped us win two world wars, jobs that really changed the face of this whole province, that brought us into an age of an industrialization that we finally got around to respecting the workers in some small degree by their fight and their struggle for unionization.

That brings me around to some of today's topics. The Minister of Environment and Labour came forward with a document today with regard to raising the minimum wage to much ballyhoo from his backbenchers in their undying support for their position. Well, if we're really, really serious about protecting people on the lower echelon of the wage structure in this province, there's more to it than 25 cents an hour.

While I personally, and I believe my Party, will support this going forward as somewhat of a progressive measure, it still does not answer the overall question of what they're going to do about the Labour Standards Code. As long as the Labour Standards Code goes unresolved or unedited, if you will, we're going to have problems here. These people

[Page 825]

really have no protection in the workforce. There is a code there that says you can do this, this and this, but the accessibility for those workers, the unorganized workers in this province, is extremely difficult.

If this government was serious about bringing these workers forward, they would have done a couple of things. First of all, it would have made how the minimum wage is struck a more open process. It would have tied it to a process with the consumer price index so it could grow automatically. They would have done something that nearly all industrialized economies have and that's a 40 hour work week. We see an election going on in the Province of Quebec today where that province is talking about going to a four day work week to protect workers and recognize the pressures put on workers and today's families.

This government, in a pre-budget flurry, is going to tell Nova Scotians that we're going to give you 25 cents in October and a year from now, give you another 25 cents. It still makes this the third-lowest minimum wage in the country. The only province, as we sit now, that we're above in Atlantic Canada is Prince Edward Island. It's not the windfall that these workers can expect.

Mr. Speaker, who are these workers, I think, should be a more relevant question. These people are primarily household leaders in a single-parent family. These people have to work more hours, more days, be away from their families longer to earn a decent wage. By the mere fact of what we call this, the minimum wage, says more about what governments have thought about this in the past than what we should. This should be put forward, not as the minimum wage, if we were serious about protecting workers' rights in this province, but it would be put forward as a living wage. What is a living wage? How can these people making below $7 an hour really participate in the economy of this province? How much spending power does $7 an hour give you?

We see, in the winter, serious spikes in home heating costs and the related HST to that. We've seen that. We see unrestricted rent increases in major cities in this province. How does that reconcile? How does the government reconcile its increase with the real increase in the cost of living? These people are falling further and further behind. These are people who will not be getting the infamous $155 cheque this June. These people will not be participating in any tax reduction to Nova Scotians because they don't pay taxes - they don't make enough.

These are people, unlike the higher end, as my colleague, the member for Halifax Fairview had pointed out earlier, who are participating in this tax windfall, these are people who would love to participate in that sector, but there's nothing there for them. We have to come to this province with the realization that we need real changes in the Labour Standards Code. We need changes that today's families can use so they can grow with the rest of the economy, so that they can go out and buy the goods and services, and be able to stand side

[Page 826]

by side with their neighbours, and take advantage of the many wealths that this province should offer them.

But no, Mr. Speaker, we continually take the aspect that what you do is you keep the heavy thumb of government on them. This government, for years and years, between the Liberals and the Tories, have used the low wages of many Nova Scotians as a way to attract business to this very province. I remember when the Liberals sat over there, one of the things on their Economic Development site was almost advertising Nova Scotia as Mexico North, when it came to minimum wages. They were quite proud of that, that the wages were so low.

Mr. Speaker, as opposed to something to be proud of, I believe it's something they should be ashamed of, to go around telling people that our wages are at or near Mexico's. We've seen reports come to this very government that's in power now about the amount of adult illiteracy in this province and how that affects our overall job performance, but yet the government doesn't do anything there to help them. It takes that report, puts it on a shelf and allows it to gather dust. Today we heard a resolution from the member for Halifax Atlantic, talking about GED and adult learning at J.L. Ilsley High School, another program cut by this government.

Yet they come in, in the dying days of their own government, and flip a quarter at the minimum wage earners in this province and say, there, that's enough, that's all you need, you don't need anymore, you don't need any protection. You don't need any protection from employers who use and abuse these people who have very little rights. We have a Trade Union Act that's over a quarter of a century old that this government will not - through Labour Minister after Labour Minister - look at it and try to update it, to bring it in, that it will not give workers the right to organize in a meaningful way. The workers will not be allowed automatic certification, as has been done in many other provinces and in the federal jurisdiction in this country. No, this government wants to put up roadblocks to organized labour for workers to be able to say collectively, that's not right.

Mr. Speaker, we see a strike happening in this capital region today where a government that is the ghost at the table, that has the money and will not go in and be a real player at that table, yet we have a government that condones scab workers. We have a government that will not look at reality of labour peace. We have a government that will help prolong that labour disruption because it doesn't have the proper legislation in place. If there was legislation in place to outlaw replacement scab workers, we would have a quick resolve to that work stoppage, and a fair resolve but, yet, we have a government that hides behind the fact that they're not at the table.

Well, Mr. Speaker, they should be because the contradiction coming from the minister today was fairly loud, where he said at one time that he was the guy who got involved and upped the wages for everybody, but when it comes to collective bargaining, he has no role in it. You can't be one way or the other, you have to be down the middle, and

[Page 827]

what he should have said, he did it before, he will get to the table and help these workers. These workers are looking for a just wage. They're looking for a wage that's comparative in their industry. Yet, it's a government here, and previous governments before it, that's void of giving workers any substantive right or say in the workplace.

We hear much about these kind of half-hearted thank you's to workers in this province, but when it comes right down to protecting the workers' rights, whether it be through the Labour Standards Code or the Trade Union Act, all of these little platitudes fall short. Workers in this province, since the time of Confederation, have been used as pawns - in the 1925 strike, when Liberal leadership sent the provincial police into New Waterford and shot and killed William Davis. We have seen oppressive governments work against the workers in this province. When will these governments ever come to be and rely on workers as an equal partner in the economy of Nova Scotia? When will workers in this province be respected for what they have done for this province, instead of abused time and time again? When will governments truly say that we are thankful for what you have done, how you have built this economy, how you've helped Nova Scotians, what you've done for the economy of Cape Breton, what you've done for the economy of Halifax, Yarmouth, Pictou County, all these, the fishers, of all the people in this Nova Scotia.

Everybody should be aware of what workers have done and, instead of these kind of half-hearted platitudes time and time again, let's put some real teeth in this. Let's allow workers to have their rightful place. Let's respect them. Let's give the ones who do not want to be organized decent coverage around the Labour Standards Code. Let's allow a Trade Union Act that allows members to organize and stay organized. Let's do that and let's do it with a government that has a stake at the table, that they will get involved and they will work for workers' rights in a meaningful way. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, it's a pleasure to rise today and speak a few words going into the debate on Supply. I want to take this opportunity, it's one of my first opportunities to speak in this House without being a specific critic portfolio. I take this opportunity to thank the people of Richmond County for the confidence that they have placed in me, both in 1998 and in 1999. Mr. Speaker, March 24, 1998, a date I'm sure you'll be very familiar with, was the first opportunity I had to present myself as Liberal candidate for the riding of Richmond County and not too long ago, a month ago, March 24, 2003 marked five years since that first election, and I'm sure you're familiar with that date also. Also, it's hard to believe five years have already passed, two elections and it's great to see that we're still here after those two elections.

[Page 828]

[2:00 p.m.]

I want to take this opportunity to express my sincerest thanks to the people of Richmond County who have placed their confidence in me. It's been truly an honour and a privilege to stand here and to advocate on behalf of the people of Richmond County, to bring their concerns to the floor of this House and to try to be the best possible representative for the people of Richmond County.

I can tell you that in five years, I started off with a small filing cabinet and it grew to one cabinet, then two cabinets and I've now reached three and just about ready to purchase the fourth filing cabinet and approximately 1,400 files later, it's been truly a pleasure to work with the people of Richmond County on the concerns that affect them most.

What I want to do today is speak specifically about some of the issues that affect not only most of the people in Richmond County, but especially the seniors in Richmond County. Like many other rural areas in this province, the riding of Richmond County has a significant population of seniors, people who are retired who have worked all their lives in Richmond County. In fact, like many other areas, we also have numerous original residents who left to go to other provinces who have now returned in their retirement to live in Richmond County and we're clearly pleased to have them.

One of the number one issues which I've heard loud and clear from seniors in Richmond County has been the issue of the state of our roads in the county itself. Needless to say, the seniors are very frustrated when they see the cost of gasoline increase, the cost of home heating fuel go up, the insurance rates are increasing which are taxable, to the benefit of the government. They see the cost of renewing their licences increase, the cost of registering their vehicles increase, yet when they look at the quality of their roads, it's just not there.

The government will well recall that in their own blue book they made the commitment that any revenues from either gas tax, fuel tax, licence fees or vehicle registration would go directly towards rebuilding, upgrading and maintaining the roads of this province. Clearly, that commitment has not been kept and the people of Richmond County are very frustrated when they see the state of our roads which is why when the Premier was recently in Richmond County a mere week ago, I issued a challenge to him. I asked that the Premier should take the opportunity while he was in Richmond County to travel on Route 4, going from the communities of Grande Anse to River Tillard which encompasses also the large community of River Bourgeois.

Since I was first elected, I have advocated that this road was the number one priority for the people of Richmond County to see that this road be upgraded, that it be repaved and brought back to an acceptable standard. I recall when the Government House Leader, when he was minister, he wrote on a couple of occasions asking what were my priorities, I clearly

[Page 829]

stated to him that my number one priority was Route 4 going to Grande Anse and River Tillard. We were told by the Department of Transportation and Public Works office in Sydney that also was their number one priority. Yet, five years later, there has still been no significant work done to that particular strip of road. The people of River Bourgeois are extremely frustrated.

I hear the Government House Leader saying that's not true. He will probably be trying to refer to work done on Route 4 past St. Peters to Sydney. What I am referring to is Route 4 which goes from Grande Anse to River Tillard, before you reach St. Peters. That strip of road is in disastrous shape. This government has not only been patching the patches, they're patching the patches that were patched by the patches. That's how far back it goes. Five years and this is what the people on that road have been treated to.

Mr. Speaker, I invited the Premier to travel throughout the roads in Arichat, either the lower roads or even the main road through Arichat where the post office is, where the doctor's office is, where the St. Anne Community & Nursing Care Centre is, where the drugstore is located (Interruptions)

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

MR. SAMSON: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. These are important roads used by the residents throughout Isle Madame to access these important services, and I can tell you they are in disastrous shape. The residents, especially the seniors, are saying that in their long history they do not recall ever seeing the roads in the shape they are in today. Again, they ask why their money is not going towards repairing the roads in Richmond County, and this government has failed to answer that in the last five years.

Mr. Speaker, the roads throughout Rocky Bay, going towards Cap La Ronde - I wrote to the minister on this road, to the House Leader when he was there, and I asked him in a sense of desperation on behalf of the residents that if he would not send asphalt to fix the road, the least he could do was send a lawnmower and gas, because this road is in such a shape that there is actually grass growing along the middle of the road. The residents are now saying, we hope at least the government will send us a lawnmower so we can properly maintain the roads and at least make sure the grass doesn't grow too high down the yellow line on this road. That is neglect; the people of Richmond County have paid too much in taxes over the years to have that type and quality of roads.

Mr. Speaker, you look at the growing communities out in Dundee, Roberta, The Points, where there are more and more developments taking place, more and more residential developments, and you look at the state of the roads - they clearly cannot sustain the additional developments taking place. There are many people who are retired who have come to live in that community because it borders along the beautiful Bras d'Or Lakes, and they

[Page 830]

are extremely frustrated by the state of their roads. I have discussed this with them numerous times, and will continue to lobby on their behalf.

Just last week, Mr. Speaker, a lady who had just moved into the L'Ardoise community, who lived on Little Harbour Road, called in exasperation and said, I can't leave my house. I said, well why can you not leave your house? She said, because I'm afraid to drive on the road. I said, well, now you're going to have to explain yourself, why would you be afraid to drive on the road? She said, well, I'm going to send you pictures and the reason she was afraid to drive on the road was because she was afraid to get stuck in the mud on the road because there was such a thickness of mud on top of her gravel road that she was afraid her smaller vehicle would not be able to make it through.

Mr. Speaker, is this where our tax dollars are going? Are these the types of roads that Nova Scotians should expect to have to put up with, or that the people of Richmond County should have to put up with? Again, it's unfortunate that when the Premier was in the area that he didn't take the opportunity to go and visit these roads, and then stand in this House and tell the people of Richmond County that they should be pleased with the quality of roads that they have considering the amount of taxes they pay.

Mr. Speaker, seniors in Richmond County are extremely concerned about the high cost of insurance and the fact that this government has not brought forward any sort of comprehensible plan to deal with the issue. Seniors on fixed incomes cannot handle such sharp increases in their insurance rates. More and more we are seeing seniors having to give up their mobility by saying, I just can't afford to keep my car insured. What a shameful thing that is, people who have worked all their lives and provided for their families and have helped grow our economy now have to abandon their vehicle because they can't afford to pay insurance, and a government that refuses to do anything about it.

Mr. Speaker, the high cost of home heating oil. Again, it's something which has had a very negative effect on seniors throughout Richmond County, and how disappointed they were. In fact I had someone the other day come to me and I asked if he applied for the $50 rebate, and he said that $50 rebate was nothing more than a mockery by the government. To only send me $50 was a mere mockery - I didn't even bother applying because I thought it was just the government laughing at me. What a shameful thing, that this government is now giving out $155 cheques, $68 million worth, money that will go to people, only those who have paid provincial income tax.

We all know that many of our seniors do not pay provincial income tax, as they are on fixed incomes, on low incomes. The thought that they will not be receiving this cheque, I believe, is shameful. The government is clearly telling them, through the Finance Minister, that they do not believe that seniors have contributed to the economy of Nova Scotia, yet they have been asked . . .

[Page 831]

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would just like to very quickly take the honourable member for Richmond down memory lane a little bit. His predecessor, the former Minister of Transportation and Public Works, Richie Mann, never provided one foot or one teaspoon of asphalt to the riding of the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley during the Savage years - not one foot of asphalt. Richmond did very well, and for that member to stand in his place, he should be ashamed of himself.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order. It's a disagreement of facts between the two members. The honourable member for Richmond has the floor.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, never will I apologize for standing up for the rights of the people of Richmond County here in this House. I had a call from someone who said a $50 rebate for oil - well, we heat our home with electricity, we pay more taxes toward increased electricity, yet we do not qualify for the rebate. Again, these are people who will also not see the $155 cheque.

Mr. Speaker, I've had the privilege of working with numerous people who have applied for housing grants. This is a very important program to the people of Richmond County and is one which is underfunded, not only by the provincial government, I will admit it's underfunded by the federal government also. I would hope that with the Minister of Community Services responsible for housing, who has received $11 million from Ottawa for housing programs and yet he has said he will only spend $2 million of that, I would certainly hope that some of the additional money that he has would be put towards RRAP grants, forgivable loans and monies to help seniors stay in their homes, stay in a safe environment and remain in the household which they have worked so long and so hard to provide for both them and their families. I will continue to be an advocate for housing grants for the seniors of Richmond County and to try to get more funding for this program on their behalf.

Mr. Speaker, yesterday I raised a very important issue about safety concerns at the provincial seniors' housing units. We have such housing units both in Petit-de-Grat and Arichat, D'Escousse, Louisdale, we have one in River Bourgeois. We have one in St. Peters and one in L'Ardoise. I may be forgetting some of them there, but the issue that was raised about having a backup power source in case of power outages to ensure the safety of these seniors, I believe is a reasonable request and I would certainly hope that the minister will take action and present a plan where these types of issues can be addressed.

Mr. Speaker, the people of Richmond County have clearly indicated to me that they are very interested in the theme that our Leader, Danny Graham, has brought out about more healthy living and more active lifestyles for the people of Nova Scotia. More and more we are seeing seniors' organizations throughout Richmond County undertake activities that promote a more healthy lifestyle, healthy eating and more exercises for seniors throughout the county. I look forward to continuing to work with them in that regard in promoting that. In fact, I want to take this opportunity to congratulate HRDC, and Marlene LeBlanc who is

[Page 832]

working with them. In fact, it's under a program that is sponsored to help educate our seniors about slips and falls for seniors.

Mr. Speaker, I had Ms. LeBlanc come in and meet with me and show me the numbers. You would not believe, you would be alarmed, in fact I was alarmed at how many seniors' deaths are caused by slips and falls. How many serious injuries to seniors are caused by slips and falls and how there are so many simple solutions to try to address this. I think it's a wonderful program. I know that Ms. LeBlanc has worked very hard throughout the county to educate groups. I certainly look forward to working with the different community organizations and seniors to try to address some of these concerns. I congratulate the federal government for funding that particular program and that position.

Mr. Speaker, one of the other issues I also want to touch on that the seniors in Richmond County are very concerned about is the status of our two public health nurses in Richmond County. There has been some recent change that have taken place in the public health office, and I've heard from numerous seniors who are concerned that the level of service will not be maintained. I urge the Minister of Health, through the local district health authority, to make sure that the two public health nurse positions in Richmond County are maintained and, more importantly than that, to make sure that bilingual service is provided through those two public health nurses, as many of our seniors in Richmond County, while they do understand some level of English, they are much more comfortable in the French language and are much more at ease with it. It's an important service for them because the public health nurses provide a lot of education to them.

With that, Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the next campaign. I look forward to meeting with the seniors throughout Richmond County. I enjoy their stories. I enjoy the advice they provide me when I have the opportunity to speak with them. I have the privilege of having a grandfather who is 95 years old, a paternal grandfather, and a maternal grandmother who is 96 years old. It's a special relationship, they do provide great life stories and great advice that all of us can use. I certainly look forward to, again, going on the doorsteps of seniors in Richmond County and continuing to advocate on their behalf and in their best interests, and I thank them for the confidence they have shown in me in the previous two elections and look forward to that confidence again in the upcoming campaign.

[2:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Justice.

HON. JAMES MUIR: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to stand in my place today to talk a little bit about my home community, Truro, Bible Hill and Salmon River, and some of the turmoil and stresses that it has undergone in the last couple of weeks. What I will be saying will be in some ways a supplement to what my colleague, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, has said about the distress and tribulations many of his residents

[Page 833]

underwent at the same time, and also many of the residents of my colleague, Bill Langille, who represents an adjacent constituency.

As members of the House know, there was widespread flooding in Nova Scotia on March 31st and April 1st of this year. I don't think any community was harder hit than my community of Truro, Bible Hill and Salmon River in the whole province. It just wasn't the amount of water that came down, it was the damage that this water did. For those of you who know the Truro area, you know that when you cross from Truro going out to Bible Hill, going across what we call the Salmon River Bridge, out underneath what we call the Subway which is really a railway bridge, for those of you who are not familiar with our area, it would be going from Truro out to the area where the Agricultural College is.

There are pictures that are available on the Internet. You could whitewater raft in that area from the force of the water that was rolling down the road. The force of the water was such, Mr. Speaker, that it actually shredded the parking lot in a Tim Hortons, it dug craters in the yards of various residents in that particular section of town. It looks as though somebody took a backhoe and went down the street in some places. We've had water in that area before, but it was the force of the water coupled with its depth, and there was considerably more damage done than there has been, I think, in other times. Indeed, those people who are long-time residents of our community, who have seen water come and go, tell me that it's probably the worst flooding that occurred in the Truro area in the past 60 years.

Mr. Speaker, what I really want to talk about is that the water is now gone, but it was the cleanup and the response to what was indeed an emergency situation. Two years ago the County of Colchester, the Town of Truro and the Town of Stewiacke, the municipal officials there got together and they comprised or put together a joint emergency measures plan. This was the first such plan in the province. It was done with the support of the Emergency Measures Organization, and what is now Minister Olive's department. It meant that decisions were going to be made jointly, and that there would not be any concern for municipal boundaries in responding to an emergency.

Thankfully, Mr. Speaker, this was the first time that that particular plan was put to the test. I want to assure everybody that the effort that the municipal officials went to, to put that plan into effect was well worthwhile because it worked marvellously. The municipal officials, on Monday, March 31st, came together to assess the damage and collectively they declared a state of emergency in Colchester County, which includes the Town of Truro and the Village of Bible Hill, as well as Salmon River and the other areas.

Mr. Speaker, at that point they had a single spokesperson for the organization. In this case it happened to be Mr. Gary MacIsaac, who was the CAO out in Colchester County. Perhaps some of you saw him on television on April 1st. It worked very well. The three groups, the Town of Stewiacke, the Town of Truro and the County of Colchester, had gotten

[Page 834]

together and they had appointed a single regional emergency measure officer. This is a local emergency measures officer, to be distinguished from the regional one that belongs to Minister Olive's department. His name is Carl Shaw. I've known Carl for quite some number of years, he and I were colleagues at the Nova Scotia Teachers College. He's also, as well as being the regional emergency measures officer, among his other hats, he heads up the HAZMAT unit in that area, in northern Nova Scotia, and he is also the chief of the Salmon River Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Anyway, I want to pay particular tribute to Mr. Shaw in what he did in offering assistance to the people who needed it. Last Saturday and Sunday I visited the homes of a good many of the residents who were affected by the flooding. It was surprising the number of people - there they were cleaning up horrible messes, some of them actually had water in their living rooms - who took the time to compliment those who had responded to the emergency. The group of people that was organized by Mr. Shaw. They talked about the volunteer firefighters who came and pumped out basements.

Speaking of the volunteer fire brigades, the Salmon River, the Bible Hill, the Truro fire brigade, Valley, Kemptown, they did a remarkable job. What they did at that time under this emergency measures plan . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable Minster of Justice has the floor.

MR. MUIR: It was as if they did away with municipal boundaries in this mutual aid. If you were on one side of the water, you would respond regardless of where the emergency was. It worked very well. It's an example of community co-operation and inter-community support which was just marvellous. I think people have to remember that during the height of this flood there was only one way into Truro, only one way into our community and if you wanted to get into Bible Hill or Salmon River, the roads were flooded, you had to go all the way out to Highway No. 102, Highway No. 104 and come in through Valley Kemptown and you couldn't get into Truro that way, it was a very, very slow process.

There were many, many individuals who came to the front to help those who needed help. I mentioned the volunteer fire brigades and what they did in terms of pumping out basements, helping neighbours move, providing transportation, providing traffic direction. We also have to talk about the Ground Search and Rescue people who came out at that time. You know, Mr. Speaker, you had an area that was flooded as well and you know how the volunteers responded up in your community. The Ground Search and Rescue is an organization in Nova Scotia which doesn't always receive the recognition it deserves, but I can tell you when there are difficulties in Nova Scotia, like the volunteer firefighters, the Ground Search and Rescue is an organization that will come every time at a minute's notice.

[Page 835]

I want to speak as well of the Truro Police Department and the RCMP and the roles that they played and how comforting they were and the assistance that they gave when, I say keeping order, I mean keeping things flowing, watching where the traffic was going, helping people when they needed help. In general, responding to those who called them. They were part of that emergency measures plan.

I'd like to mention some people by name. I'd like to mention Bill Mills who is the Mayor of Truro and the CEO of the Town of Truro, Jim Langille and the works crew in the Town of Truro, along with the police agency who responded as quickly as they could and the organization and that the Truro streets were opened as quickly as they were and the mess was cleaned up.

Mr. Speaker, one of the things that happened in this particular event was out in Valley, the Irving Sproule Lumber Mill is there and they had $1 million worth of lumber and boards, lumber and logs floating down that river. A lot of it landed in the Town of Truro, it landed on the streets of Salmon River, and it landed on the streets of Bible Hill. The works crews from Colchester County and from the Town of Truro responded very quickly to pick up those obstacles. In the Subway in Bible Hill there is actually a picture of a bale of lumber that has come about six kilometres down the river and is parked on the street there. If anybody is interested in that, my colleague, Bill Langille, happens to have it.

I would like to mention as well, Mike Smith and Gary MacIsaac from Colchester County, who led their effort or part of that thing, and Chris Wright, David Rhoddy and Sheldon Dorey from Stewiacke, and Wayne McCormick and Bob Christianson from the Village of Bible Hill. It was a marvellous example of the community pulling together to really meet a challenge. I've lived in Truro for a good portion of my life, and I've seen the water come and the water go in Truro, but I can tell you - like others - we have not seen the water come the way it did and do the damage that it did.

Do you know one of the interesting things, Mr. Speaker, of all the homes that I was in last weekend, and I went to homes on Ford Street, Cross Street, Nova Drive, Park Street, Normandy Avenue, North Street, Farnham Road, Edward Avenue, Riverside Avenue, Avon Street, Queen Street, Moore Street - I was in a lot of homes - but every one, to a person, basically looked at this and said, well, there's not much sense complaining right now, we have to get this mess cleaned up, and that's what they did. But so many said, and I said, this is really tough. They looked and they said, I've seen the pictures, there are others worse off than me, I'm really not going to say too much, we'll just clean up.

It was the remarkable resilience of the citizens of that area who were flooded. I want to tell you, some of those homes were an awful mess. It's going to be a lot of work to clean it up. They, like everybody else, were disappointed and hurt that it had happened to them, but they knew they had to get on with life, and they also recognized that as distressful as their own situation was, they said, I know that I'm really bad off - and this came from people who

[Page 836]

even had water in the living rooms, 8 or 12 inches in their living rooms, which meant that their basements were filled - it's bad, the water is going down. I guess we will clean it up. We will have to do some things, but I looked at the films of Badger and other places and, as bad as it is here, we do recognize that some people were in worse situations.

Mr. Speaker, I was proud to represent those people as the MLA for Truro-Bible Hill. I want to tell you, in talking with those people who had gone through that experience and how they approached it, it really made me proud to represent that area. The way the community responded, the way the emergency teams responded, it was really just an outstanding example of community and, as I say, the last time the water came I was able, because of what I was doing, to go around to give people a hand mucking out their basements, and I wasn't able to do that this time, but in visiting them it was really heartwarming to see how the community responded to help their neighbours in what was a really difficult situation.

Mr. Speaker, I would also like to mention in the last 10 seconds that, thank heavens, this province in 2000 had the vision to adopt that federal financial disaster assistance plan, because a lot of those people are going to have some help now that they wouldn't have had previously.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is carried.

[2:30 p.m. The House resolved itself into a CWH on Supply with Deputy Speaker Mr. William Dooks in the Chair.]

[5:58 p.m. CWH on Supply rose and the House reconvened. Mr. Speaker, Hon. Murray Scott, in the Chair.]

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

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

MR. SPEAKER: Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 837]

MR. WILLIAM DOOKS: Mr. Speaker, I move that the House do now rise to sit tomorrow. The hours will be from 9:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. The Orders of the Day will be the daily routine and estimates. When the estimates are finished, then the House will adjourn for the weekend.

MR. SPEAKER: The motion is that the House adjourn until 9:00 a.m. tomorrow morning.

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 House is adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

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

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - SECONDARY ROADS:

PRIORITY LIST - PUBLISH

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, I look forward to the opportunity, over the next few minutes, to discuss this important issue. I would like to bring to the members present the resolution:

"Therefore be it resolved that this government immediately make public its Transportation and Public Works priority list for secondary road projects."

[6:00 p.m.]

I know there are members opposite, members of the government, backbenchers who are just clamouring to have the opportunity to speak on this topic, and I'm looking forward to hearing their comments because I'm not really too much used to reading it in the local papers. I want to hear them on their feet in this place, so that they can make their case for the

[Page 838]

importance of having this list made public. The priority list, whether it's in Queens County or whether it's in the member for Guysborough's county - that we have it very clearly laid out, what are the priority projects for roads and improvements across this province as the paving season and, perhaps coincidentally, Mr. Speaker, the election season comes into full bore.

Let me tell you, before I begin, how I began my day. I began my day today by going into the community, I will call it, not the subdivision because it's a community of 750 homes, 750 homes in Haliburton Hills and Haliburton Heights. You come in on Buckingham, a well-maintained road, you come over a bridge the Department of Transportation and Public Works did some work on because of all the traffic, and then all of a sudden you're on a gravel road. You're on a gravel road where you literally have to find your way, as you swerve from one side of the road to the other. You turn onto Abbey Road. You then go up onto Abbey and come to Bingham and then you go from there down Penny Lane. Now, let me tell you, if you have now made the correct turn, you're back on a paved section. Does it make any sense that we're going from paved to gravel back to paved? That same community, the people have done the petitions, they've done their homework, they've made their views known. That's how I began my day. by going to the homes of one of the people in there because of the good work they've done with petitions in trying to make sure that the HRM and the Department of Transportation and Public Works are singing from the same song sheet, if I can use that expression.

Now, I hear from a lot of people about this issue. I have tabled petitions in this House and I will table other petitions because, as I speak, there is a young man from the community of Lower Prospect and, yes, Mr. Speaker, he was one of my students. Travis Humphrey is currently collecting names on a petition for work on the road on which he lives. I can tell you about one road after another and the horror stories that we have to face.

This afternoon, I heard from Reg Pitts of 5 Percy Pitts Lane. He doesn't live in my constituency, but he did say to me, Bill, if you have a chance to talk about roads, is there any chance you could bring up the road that is in Chester-St. Margaret's called the Peggy's Cove Road because my MLA isn't doing anything about it. So, Reg, here you have it, we are going to put the case before this House this evening, the necessity of doing work on the Peggy's Cove Road. It's the most advertised - well, Fortress Louisbourg is there, I understand that, the Springhill Miners' Museum, the Anne Murray Museum advertises tourist destinations - but the Peggy's Cove Road is in embarrassing shape.

From Indian Point down past the Swissair Memorial, I mean, Mr. Speaker, if you don't need new shocks in your vehicle, I need them on mine because that's the way that I get down to the fishing villages the quickest from my area where I live. When I go to the Dovers, when I go to Terence Bay, I drive through the riding of Chester-St. Margaret's. Reg has it right - the road is embarrassing.

[Page 839]

Now, if the people would know the priorities for deciding this, if the people in the MacDonald Lake Subdivision would be able to say, well, we're going to get our road paved in 2004, it's on the list, we're going to get our road work done in St. Margaret's Village, then Paul Melanson would be very pleased with the fact that if he was told you've got a wait, Paul, you've got the petitions in, you've done your work, but it's not going to be done until the Fall of 2005 - those sort of deadlines and those sort of guidelines - Nova Scotians would be appreciative of it. But not this government and not this previous government, they are not willing to make their priority lists public. In fact, we don't even know if the criteria is clear.

So, again in this session of the Legislature, I have introduced an important bill, this time called Bill No. 15, an Act to Set Criteria for Prioritizing Road Improvement Projects. Let me just go over these priority projects.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I see the honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works on his feet. The honourable member would know that he's not able to discuss the bills before the House at the time and he's not going to read from that bill I hope.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I am not.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR. ESTABROOKS: I just referred to it.

MR. SPEAKER: You can't though, it's a bill before the House.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, let's look at the criteria for priorities. Let's look at them. Let's look at if there was a clear criteria. Does that road help the economy in that particular community? The Peggy's Cove Road, does that meet the criteria? When was the last time it was worked on? Now, does that meet the criteria for one particular road as opposed to another road in this province or, more importantly, what is the traffic count? What is the traffic count on those particular roads? Those are the types of suggestions that have been brought forward by other members in this House. That's the sort of criteria that Nova Scotians would like to have very clearly defined.

I'm going to table for the interest of the House a priority list. It's the priority list for the HRM based on petitions. This list includes 1to 62. Last year, through the municipality grants, there were eight roads paved, portions of eight roads paved. To the credit of the previous minister, to the credit of the Minister of Transportation, three of those roads were in Timberlea-Prospect. And, to the credit of that particular minister, the Prospect Road received 7.8 kilometres of precious asphalt.

[Page 840]

But, is it necessary for politics to play a role in road improvements in this province? People have had quite enough of this. We've heard the member for beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley hold forth - no, I must correct myself, we used to hear him hold forth when he was on this side of the House - about not a teaspoon of asphalt that he ever received on roads in his riding, when he was in Opposition. He was so critical of the government of the time. I wish that member would still stand in his place and hold forth like he used to because that's, after all, the sort of comments that we have to hear more from those backbenchers over there. We have to hear more from the member for Queens. Instead of the member for Queens talking to the media in his local paper, he should be on his feet in this Legislature making the case for roads that he needs for improvement.

Instead of the member for Guysborough-Port Hawkesbury sitting here and not saying a thing, he should stand and have his say about the need for road work and the need to make the priority list very public. Make it public. Table it in the House so that people could clearly identify exactly what project is going to be done when and the cost of how much that particular project is going to be.

I want to be fair. I want to be fair and I want to be open. The Peggy's Cove Road is not in Timberlea-Prospect. Under no circumstances am I saying that road shouldn't be touched because, after all, it's in a member of the government's caucus. That's how it's supposed to be done. I am saying as an Opposition member that when it comes to secondary roads in this province, the road to Peggy's Cove is an embarrassment. I tabled a petition in this House from tourists who said, we won't be back, we will not come back to Nova Scotia because of the roads.

Mr. Speaker, you know that famous tourist site just as we come across the marsh from Mount Allison University? You go in there and you read the comments - beautiful province, wonderful place, the roads are rotten, we won't be back. I see those comments. Those comments, as far as I'm concerned, are comments that do nothing for the tourist industry in this province. It's important if this government is going to do it right, they do it openly, they do it publicly and they tell Nova Scotians when their roads are going to receive the treatment that they so richly deserve. Thank you for your time.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, it gives me great pleasure to speak to this resolution this evening because I can indicate to the honourable member that this government is committed to transparency, is committed to doing the right thing and will always do the right thing by the people of Nova Scotia. We have restored a program that was eliminated by the misguided former administration which did subdivision roads and we now have restored that program. That's a cost-shared program between the provincial government and the municipal government. It's $2 million - $1 million provincial money and another $1 million of municipal money into paving subdivision roads in this province. This money is

[Page 841]

split up equitably based on a population-style formula between the municipal units in our province.

The honourable member who just spoke wanted to know, and I'm prepared to indicate that based on the HRM - and this is always based on the municipal priority list, it's not a list established by the provincial government, that particular list is established by the municipal government - I'm pleased to indicate to the honourable member that the number-one project on that list, and I'm sure that given HRM represents 30 per cent to 40 per cent of the people in Nova Scotia, it very likely is going to be done, is the Country Lake Drive in Lake Echo, which is the area of the honourable member for Preston.

I'm sure that the honourable member opposite would laud the importance of doing and taking care of the people of Preston. It's the determination of the honourable member for Preston to support a government that is going to establish priorities, that is going to make choices, make choices to pave roads, that is going to allow the people on the Country Lake Drive to receive the paving they need.

I can also tell you that this government is also taking care of the constituents of the honourable member, because the number- two priority is Minna Drive in Haliburton Heights, Mr. Speaker. It is quite likely, depending on money and how the program works, that we will certainly be getting to that. There's no promise, because as you know it's a tender process. There's an established amount, but there is a clear and transparent priority that's been established. So we are going to be taking care of people based on their need, based on a transparent list.

Mr. Speaker, the shocking thing is that the former administration in this province did such a terrible job. I'm going to share my time with the honourable member for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. It's a shocking thing how transportation money in this province was handled before. I've heard the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley indicate how during the Liberal years the people of the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley were ignored by the former administration. They were neglected, and their interest in the roads was neglected, and I suspect there was a period when the people from Cape Breton Centre had their priorities neglected by the former administration. (Interruptions)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, and I think it's fair to say that that's why both the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre and the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect and I and other members of this House, voted to defeat the misguided Liberal Administration in the election of 1999. The people of Nova Scotia made a choice, and they made a choice to elect an administration committed to improving the roads in this province. We have made that choice, and we are making tremendous progress.

[Page 842]

I am looking to make sure I don't run out of time for my colleague, but I think it's worth pointing out that in 1998-99, Mr. Speaker, in Nova Scotia the former administration put $63 million, only $63 million in total capital into the roads of this province. This year, it's $106 million . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Double.

MR. BAKER: Almost a doubling of that capital project priority. That shows the difference, the importance that this administration puts into highways. as opposed to the former administration.

So I can tell you that the Department of Transportation and Public Works is committed to doing the highest-priority roads, those that need the paving, first. We will work through the list, we will do the best we can with the dollars available, and we are making great strides. We have made great strides over the last number of years, and we are going to be making even greater strides in our next mandate. With that, I will share my time with the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: I say thank you very much to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. I would like to begin, Mr. Speaker, by saying what a difference a government makes. What a difference a government makes. The former Transportation Ministers - and I say former - Transportation Ministers Richie Mann and Clifford Huskilson treated Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley with disdain and contempt.

Mr. Speaker, in spite of the fact that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley at that time was the second largest geographical riding in the province with the most gravel and asphalt roads on 200-Series and 300-Series Highways, we couldn't even convince the former Liberal Ministers to pave one foot let alone put a teaspoon in a few potholes and that was very unfair, but what this government did, just for an example, I know the honourable members opposite realize this and I have to ask them if they're aware that this government established the Rural Impact Mitigation Program, the RIM, roll up the rim to win. Well, I just want to tell you a little about the RIM.

[6:15 p.m.]

When we're speaking about fairness on a proportional basis, each Department of Transportation and Public Works base in this province receives the same amount of funding on a proportional basis - equal, equal. It's a fair program and not just Tory ridings receive the benefits of the RIM Program. The NDP ridings do, as do the Liberal ridings, and I'm sure if we have an independent in the House, the independent's riding will receive a fair amount because that's what fairness is all about. Yes, this government over the term of its mandate

[Page 843]

nearly doubled the capital fund for the Department of Transportation and Public Works and I'm so pleased that I can now stand up and tell my constituents that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley is receiving its fair share.

Sure, Mr. Speaker, like you in Cumberland South, you stand up and advocate on behalf of your people for roads, as does the minister from Lunenburg, but now we can go back and tell our constituents that Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, Cumberland South, Lunenburg and all ridings, the 52 ridings are receiving their fair share. I know the member for Cape Breton West, in fact, received some pavement in his constituency. So that's what fairness is all about. It's about recognizing that it's not just the NDP and the Liberals that provide payroll taxes, benefits and all the services that we enjoy as Nova Scotians, it's Nova Scotians from one end of this province to the other - north, south, east and west - and we're going to continue treating Nova Scotians fairly. It's a very, very well-received and pleasant change.

I remember Mr. Huskilson especially being the minister in his short tenure, he used to say every once in awhile, now, you know, we want to work with you guys. We want to work with you, but he used to say that every time he came into the House. Now, where did you tell me those roads were that people were looking at? Where did you say they were? Every time he came in, he would seem to forget conveniently. This is the gospel, Mr. Speaker, he seemed to forget and he would say, now, where did you say that was from, where and to? Then you would come back in, or two weeks later he would phone, and Mr. Huskilson got exactly what he deserved because he didn't treat Nova Scotians fairly. He didn't treat any of the Tory ridings fairly, nor did Richie Mann, and it was sort of humorous to see the present member for Richmond stand up on his pins today and claim that Richmond needed all this pavement. Well, the former member paved everything down there that moved and even some things that didn't move, including I think a turtle got in the way one time and he just paved right over it.

So what we're going to do is try to be fair. We've increased the budget from $63 million in 1998 to $106 million and, sure, we would all like to have more than our fair share, but we have to be fair and recognize that all members deserve a piece of the pavement pie. (Interruption) Yes, exactly, but it's important. Fairness is what it's all about and I submit that and I know the honourable member for Timberlea-Prospect, although he's the Transportation and Public Works Critic perhaps with his caucus, he recognizes that fairness is the name of the game. This government is playing fair. This government is playing square.

Mr. Speaker, I do thank you for your time and I welcome the opportunity to sit back and listen to another honourable member.

[Page 844]

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and participate in this particular debate. The Minister of Transportation and Public Works and the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley are correct when they say that there has been paving done in Liberal ridings and, in particular, Cape Breton West, but what they forget to tell the people of Nova Scotia when they do that is the reason that they extended the paving program on Route 4 in my constituency last year is because 200 feet of the roadway and guardrail fell over the cliff towards the Bras d'Or Lakes. Nobody could drive the road. The road collapsed. It was suffering from fatigue so maybe there's a reason for everything and it's not just the benevolence of the Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

I've never seen the Minister of Transportation and Public Works come to Cape Breton West and say, well (Interruptions) Yes, Mr. Speaker, he's heard about it. Last year, on his Web site, they said they paved 3.5 kilometres of roadway between Birch Grove and Port Morien, but if you go and count the pieces of patchwork that were done, you get slightly more than a kilometre and a half, two kilometres less than they said on their Web site. But you see, the total distance is 3.5 kilometres, not . . .

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member represented to the House that I had never been to Cape Breton West, in fact only less than a month ago . . .

MR. MACKINNON: Who said that?

MR. BAKER: You said that. (Interruptions) You said that I was to Port Morien, which I believe is in Cape Breton West.

MR. MACKINNON: No, I said your department.

MR. BAKER: Oh, well, Mr. Speaker, I just want to . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Was the Minister of Transportation and Public Works down in Cape Breton or not?

MR. BAKER: Yes, he was, and he was to Cape Breton West in Cape Breton.

MR. SPEAKER: Cape Breton West in Cape Breton. A clarification of the facts, thank you. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, if he was to Cape Breton West, he will realize how bad the roads are, and he should be doing something about it. Four years ago, the Tory candidate for Cape Breton West put a big billboard on the Marion Bridge highway saying

[Page 845]

that under a Tory Government, after the 1999 election, the Marion Bridge highway would be paved. Well, that was 1999, then 2000, 2001, 2002, and now we're in 2003, and there's not even so much as a spoonful of asphalt put down towards the repaving of the Marion Bridge Highway, despite the fact that it was identified as the number one priority by that minister and that department and that government for repaving in that district, and that has been confirmed by the experts in that department.

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West, and I would apologize for taking away from his valuable time, but perhaps he could articulate for the House what happened to the Fleur-de-lis Trail when the honourable David Dingwall and Richie Mann siphoned away $26 million from the strategic highway . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. That's not a point of order. The honourable member for Cape Breton West has the floor.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, I would ask the honourable member to watch his blood pressure, it's not good for his health. Second of all, maybe he would want to go fishing. He seems to be hooked on fishing. (Interruptions) Mr. Speaker, I wasn't here, I was on sabbatical, he knows that. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, when I was elected in 1998 (Interruptions) Well, when we were elected in 1998, we did initiate some paving projects in that constituency, in much-needed areas. The Fleur-de-lis Trail was never, ever completed.

AN HON. MEMBER: Why?

MR. MACKINNON: Why? Because the member for Cape Breton West at that time, Alfie MacLeod, did absolutely nothing. He did nothing. Now that his government is in power, they've done even less. It's to the point where that poor man is almost hitchhiking from Gabarus to get to Sydney to work, because the roads are that bad. Last summer, I asked the district engineer if he would please send a man out to Gabarus with a lawnmower so he could mow the centre line of the road, the grass was growing that high on the centre line of the road, for heaven's sake. So where was all the political heavyweight then? (Interruptions)

That's right, Mr. Speaker, people rejected that type of methodology. So, despite all the fairness that the Minister of Transportation and Public Works says is there, it's not. It's still good old-fashioned politics. In some cases, there has been some work done, co-operatively. The minister brags about $1 million for the provincial-municipal paving program (Interruptions) Yes, for subdivisions. Break that down, $1 million for the entire province.

[Page 846]

Mr. Speaker, that won't even do half a dozen streets in HRM. What it worked out to is about $100,000 for CBRM. How many streets do they do? I think it was five or six streets all told.

AN HON. MEMBER: They got nine done in the HRM last year.

MR. MACKINNON: Yes, but compare the size of the streets, the length of the streets and what was put into it. We're talking apples and oranges. The honourable member knows that. The fact of the matter is $1 million is not much. The minister brags about putting $106 million into road construction capital. That's good. It is good, but he should also say that he's collected over $50 million more in road tax; add that on to the $63 million and that's $113 million and he's only putting $106 million back. (Interruption)

Yes, Mr. Speaker, I will entertain a question from the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Thank you to the honourable member for Cape Breton West. Just a quick question. I'm not sure if he was on sabbatical or not, I do apologize, but he certainly will know what I'm speaking about. His government brought in a policy that because paved roads were in such deplorable condition that any monies in the capital fund would go toward repaving existing paved roads. I think most of us in this House support this but, mysteriously, one of the Liberal members of this Legislative Assembly, the former Liberal member for Hants East, had his gravel road paved. He happens to be a lawyer for a well-known law firm out in Shubenacadie. I just wonder what the member thinks of that. His government brings in a policy that they're only going to repave existing 200- and 300-Series Highways, or 100-Series, they're not going to do gravel roads but, for some reason, the gravel road out in front of one Mr. Bob Carruthers was paved. Yes, and I wonder how the honourable member could defend such blatant political patronage?

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

MR. MACKINNON: Well, Mr. Speaker, the honourable member should be thanking the Liberals for doing that because what they did is they sent an NDP member up to help put the Tories on that side of the floor. I mean, he can't have it both ways. No matter what you say to that honourable member it'll never be enough. If you paved every street in his constituency, he'd still complain. He'd still complain, if you paved every driveway in that constituency.

[Page 847]

Mr. Speaker, under the former Tory Government, you remember the big ruckus that was down in Guysborough County? The gravel? Using public taxpayers' money to gravel private driveways? That's the type of patronage that the Liberals had to clean up after they got in power. (Interruption) If he wants the Liberals to do something today, just tell us. Vote Liberal, or cross the floor. There's still lots of time, don't panic.

Mr. Speaker, on a serious note, roads are a major problem for every member in this Legislature, whether they're rural or urban; but, mostly for rural. The government, the minister has said that they would table a fair roads capital and maintenance policy. They haven't done it, and I don't think it's unreasonable that after four years of promising to do it, that they would do it so we can at least see it. They promised it on roads, they haven't done it. They promised it with capital school construction, they haven't done it. They promised a lot of things.

The Minister of Health was outside the House this evening saying that she never promised to open more beds, despite the fact that she put that in her postcard. So, we are skeptical and there's justifiable reason for that.

The Minister of Transportation has waxed eloquence. What we would like to know is if, in fact, he's going to call tenders for any of these roadways. Is he going to call a tender for the Marion Bridge highway? Is he going to call tenders for further upgrading on Highway No. 4? Is he going to call tenders for the Main-a-Dieu highway? Is he going to do anything on the Louisbourg highway, which is in a deplorable state?

Even if they would do some maintenance in some of these areas, we wouldn't have to be calling the engineer for a lawn mower to mow the centre line of the road. That's how bad it is. It was that or else go and get some sheep or goats to eat the fodder. I don't know what else we could do. We tried that with the honourable Donnie Cameron when he was Premier and it didn't do much good with him but shortly after, he left the House, and good luck to him, really. Mr. Speaker, I thank you for the opportunity to speak on this very important resolution.

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you. I thank the members for taking part in this lively debate this evening. We're adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 6:29 p.m.]

[Page 848]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 548

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas Yarmouth High School graduate Leslie Anne Rogers was recently invited to the University of Ottawa Faculty of Science Awards Ceremony where she will receive the Rector Scholarship for the Faculty of Science, an honour she in turn credits to the positive difference made in her life by her former physics teacher, Robyn MacKenzie; and

Whereas since teachers play such a key role in the development of our students it is welcome to see individual educators receiving recognition for their hard work and dedication to their profession; and

Whereas Ms. MacKenzie, with degrees in biology and calculus, previously attended medical school then, deciding it wasn't for her, tried out a few different career paths before settling on teaching and received her Bachelor of Education only nine years ago;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this Legislature congratulate Leslie Rogers for receiving the prestigious Rector Scholarship from the University of Ottawa, and thank educator Robyn MacKenzie for turning to the teaching profession and inspiring her students to reach for the stars.

RESOLUTION NO. 549

By: Mr. John Holm (Sackville-Cobequid)

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

Whereas recreational hockey has experienced a resurgence in popularity among the middle-aged; and

Whereas last evening saw the end of another fun and successful season for the Sackville Oldtimers Hockey League; and

Whereas the final game of the season saw the Shaw Resources Blues defeat the Richardson's Reds in a thrilling 3-2 overtime shootout;

[Page 849]

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the Sackville Oldtimers Hockey League on another successful season and the Shaw Resources Blues as unofficial league champions for 2002-03.

RESOLUTION NO. 550

By: Ms. Maureen MacDonald (Halifax Needham)

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

Whereas according to the United Nations, AIDS has become the fourth biggest killer worldwide with 40 million people carrying the virus; and

Whereas Halifax-based MedMira is a commercial biotechnology company that develops, manufactures and markets more affordable diagnostic tests for the detection of antibodies to certain diseases such as HIV; and

Whereas this research company made a recent announcement that China has ordered 250,000 of its HIV test kits;

Therefore be it resolved that the House of Assembly congratulate Chairman Stephen Sham and the employees of MedMira on its development of more affordable HIV test procedures and on their breakthrough contract with the Chinese Government.

RESOLUTION NO. 551

By: Hon. Jane Purves (Health)

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

Whereas Symphony Nova Scotia's new music director, Bernard Gueller, was warmly welcomed to Halifax last Fall after invitations to be a frequent guest conductor in Germany, Japan as well as various orchestras throughout South Africa; and

Whereas Mr. Gueller arrived in Halifax as one of the finalists in the search for the new music director and was then offered the position; and

Whereas Symphony Nova Scotia's 37 gifted musicians play concerts attracting 60,000 people annually;

[Page 850]

Therefore be it resolved that members of this Legislature welcome Mr. Bernard Gueller and extend our best wishes to Symphony Nova Scotia's Managing Director, Katherine Carleton, and her board of directors for their continued work to ensure Nova Scotia can enjoy the beautiful sounds of Symphony Nova Scotia.