Assemblée Législative de la Nouvelle-Écosse

Les travaux de la Chambre ont repris le
21 septembre 2017

HANSARD 03-15

DEBATES AND PROCEEDINGS

Speaker: Honourable Murray Scott

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

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

Annual subscriptions available from the Office of the Speaker.

Third Session

WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2003

TABLE OF CONTENTS PAGE
STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS:
Health - Nursing Strategy Update, Hon. J. Purves 1054
GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 651, Princess Patricia's Infantry - Friendly-Fire Casualties
(17/04/02): Sympathy - Express, The Premier 1057
Vote - Affirmative 1058
Res. 652, Acadian Seaplants Ltd.: Best-Managed Cos. Award -
Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 1058
Vote - Affirmative 1059
Res. 653, Fin. - Financial Strength: Growth - Recognize,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1059
Vote - Affirmative 1059
Res. 654, Econ. Dev. - Marine Atl.: Accessible Transport. Award -
Congrats., Hon. C. Clarke 1059
Vote - Affirmative 1060
Res. 655, Lynk, John - Teaching: Technology Usage - Congrats.,
Hon. A. MacIsaac 1060
Vote - Affirmative 1061
Res. 656, Forsyth, Leonard: Keizer Award - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 1061
Vote - Affirmative 1062
NOTICES OF MOTION:
Res. 657, Spryfield Dist. 18 Bus. & Dev. Assoc.: Youth Progs. -
Congrats., Mr. Robert Chisholm 1062
Vote - Affirmative 1063
Res. 658, Caisse Populaire de Clare: Coady Award - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1063
Vote - Affirmative 1064
Res. 659, Sports - Mooseheads: QMJH Dilio Semifinal - Congrats.,
Mr. D. Hendsbee 1064
Vote - Affirmative 1065
Res. 660, Health: Former Lib. Min. - Record, Ms. Maureen MacDonald 1065
Res. 661, Anna. Valley Literacy Network - "Learning . . . To Live":
Publication - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1066
Vote - Affirmative 1066
Res. 662, Lib. MLAs: Tax Cuts - Message, Mr. H. Epstein 1066
Res. 663, Dart. South: PC Nominating Conv. - Attendance,
Mr. P. MacEwan 1067
Res. 664, St. John Vianney KOC: Anniv. (25th) - Congrats., Mr. B. Barnet 1068
Vote - Affirmative 1068
Res. 665, Eisenhauer, Jim: CA of Yr. Award - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1069
Vote - Affirmative 1069
Res. 666, Prov. Vol. Awards: Recipients - Congrats., Mr. M. Samson 1070
Vote - Affirmative 1070
Res. 667, East. Shore Lobster Fish.: Best Wishes - Extend, Mr. W. Dooks 1070
Vote - Affirmative 1071
Res. 668, Second Story Women's Ctr. - Bully Busters Prog.:
Organizers - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1071
Vote - Affirmative 1072
Res. 669, Pictou Co. Palliative Care Soc. - Vols.: Gratitude - Express,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1072
Vote - Affirmative 1073
Res. 670, Spinney, Erin - Footsteps of the Founders Camp: Attendance -
Congrats., Mr. K. Morash 1073
Vote - Affirmative 1074
Res. 671, Nichols, John - Apple Dome Proj.: Donation - Commend,
Mr. J. Carey 1074
Vote - Affirmative 1074
Res. 672, Taxes - Liberal Party: Effects - Understand, Mr. F. Chipman 1075
ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS:
No. 113, Fin. - Casino: Smoking Ban - Exemption Explain,
Mr. D. Dexter 1075
No. 114, Energy - Offshore: Activity - Lack Explain,
Mr. Manning MacDonald 1077
No. 115, Fin. - N.S. Gaming Corp.: Casino Operator - Notice,
Mr. D. Dexter 1079
No. 116, Prem.: Office Staff - Details, Mr. Manning MacDonald 1080
No. 117, Econ. Dev. - Orenda Recip: Operations - Cessation Confirm,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1082
No. 118, Econ. Dev. - Orenda: Funding - Continuation Explain,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1083
No. 119, Educ. - Loan Remission Prog.: Beneficiaries - Numbers,
Mr. D. Wilson 1084
No. 120, Econ. Dev. - Orenda Recip: Closure - Notification,
Mr. J. MacDonell 1086
No. 121, Nat. Res. - Coastal Props.: Nova Scotians - Retention,
Mr. W. Estabrooks 1087
No. 122, Commun. Serv. - RRSS Strike: Families - Contact Details,
Mr. W. Gaudet 1088
No. 123, Fin. - Casino Info.: Researcher - Name, Mr. D. Dexter 1090
No. 124, Fin. - Teacher's Pension Fund/Public Sector Pension Plan:
Status - Table, Mr. M. Samson 1091
No. 125, Treasury & Policy Bd. - RRSS: Executive Coun. - Reporting,
Mr. J. Pye 1093
No. 126, Environ. & Lbr. - Dorsey Report: Recommendations -
Implementation, Mr. P. MacEwan 1094
No. 127, Econ. Dev. - Glace Bay Revitalization: Partners - Details,
Mr. F. Corbett 1095
No. 128, Econ. Dev. - Min.: Authority - Details, Mr. B. Boudreau 1096
No. 129, Econ. Dev.: C.B. Railroad - Long-Term Plan,
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1098
No. 130, Educ. - Tuition Agreements: Purview - Details, Mr. D. Dexter 1099
No. 131, Health - Soldiers Mem. Hosp.: Gen. Surgeon - Replacement,
Dr. J. Smith 1100
No. 132, Transport. & Pub. Wks. - Canterbury Truss Bridge:
Replacement - Details, Mr. B. Boudreau 1102
OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS:
MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS:
Res. 289, Insurance: Premiums Reduction - Solutions,
Mr. F. Corbett 1105
Mr. K. Deveaux 1105
Mr. B. Taylor 1109
Mr. R. MacKinnon 1113
Mr. D. Dexter 1117
Res. 443, Commun. Serv.: Reg. Residential Service Soc. -
Wage Parity Ensure, Mr. J. Pye 1120
Mr. J. Pye 1121
Hon. P. Christie 1124
Mr. W. Gaudet 1126
Mr. F. Corbett 1129
ADJOURNMENT:
MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5):
Econ. Dev. - Kings Co.: Activity - Recognize:
Mr. J. Carey 1133
Mr. P. MacEwan 1136
Mr. J. MacDonell 1138
ADJOURNMENT, House rose to meet again on Thur., Apr. 17th at 9:00 a.m. 1141
NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3):
Res. 673, Eisener, Bob: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 1142
Res. 674, Durham, Jean: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. G. Balser 1142
Res. 675, Hill, Murray: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 1143
Res. 676, Best, Bob: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. J. Carey 1143
Res. 677, Lakenman, Corry: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mrs. M. Baillie 1144
Res. 678, Earle Fam.: Sobeys Fam. Vol. (2003) - Congrats.,
Mr. J. DeWolfe 1144
Res. 679, Saunders, Agnes: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1145
Res. 680, MacLennan, Sandra: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Ms. M. McGrath 1145
Res. 681, Maynard, Chris: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. M. Parent 1146
Res. 682, Ashe, Charles: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1146
Res. 683, MacDonald, Robert: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1147
Res. 684, Johnson, Rita: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1147
Res. 685, Greencorn, Colleen: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1148
Res. 686, Dingle, Dorothy: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. Ronald Chisholm 1148
Res. 687, Hubbard, April: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 1149
Res. 688, LeBlanc, Edward: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Hon. N. LeBlanc 1149
Res. 689, Maillet, Camille: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. N. LeBlanc 1150
Res. 690, Smillie, Carol: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 1150
Res. 691, Burke, Michael: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 1151
Res. 692, Clarke, Reginald: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. J. Purves 1151
Res. 693, Crossland, Isobel: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1152
Res. 694, Robertson, Patti: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. M. Baker 1152
Res. 695, Paris, John Francis Buster: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Hon. R. Russell 1153
Res. 696, Sypher, Susan: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 1153
Res. 697, Ross, John: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. R. Russell 1154
Res. 698, Hennigar, Luella: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 1154
Res. 699, Castle, Claire: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 1155
Res. 700, Meisner, Michael: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. B. Taylor 1155
Res. 701, Creelman, Gordon: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1156
Res. 702, Roach, Ron: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Hon. J. Muir 1156
Res. 703, G.N. Plastics Co. Ltd.: Building Healthier Futures
Corp. Award - Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 1157
Res. 704, Publicover, Phyllis: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. J. Chataway 1157
Res. 705, Stout, Doug: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. J. Chataway 1158
Res. 706, Gray, Tom: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 1158
Res. 707, Balish, Julie: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 1159
Res. 708, Chetwynd, Ken: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. C. O'Donnell 1159
Res. 709, Thompson, Robert Bud: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 1160
Res. 710, Nickerson, Brayton: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. C. O'Donnell 1160
Res. 711, Greig, Jim: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 1161
Res. 712, Star, Gert: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. R. Hurlburt 1161
Res. 713, Patriquin, Joseph: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., The Speaker 1162
Res. 714, Legere, Muriel Beatrice: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1162
Res. 715, Mayne, Alice: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., The Speaker 1163
Res. 716, Ling, Elmer: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., The Speaker 1163
Res. 717, Bellefontaine, Judy: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. W. Dooks 1164
Res. 718, DeYoung, Patricia: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. W. Dooks 1164
Res. 719, Laurence, Hugh: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. F.Chipman 1165
Res. 720, Campbell, Dick: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1165
Res. 721, Dill, Patricia: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1166
Res. 722, MacLean, Douglas: Prov. Rep. Vol. - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 1166
Res. 723, Porters Lake Commun. Serv. Assoc.: Efforts - Commend,
Mr. W. Dooks 1167
Res. 724, Sports - CRFC: Hockey Champs - Congrats., Mr. J. DeWolfe 1167
Res. 725, MacKillop, Lloyd - Bridgeport Elem. Sch.: Efforts - Recognize,
Hon. C. Clarke 1168
Res. 726, MacLean, Vanessa: Valley Area Skating Comp. - Congrats.,
Mr. F. Chipman 1168
Res. 727, Bent, Eric: Lawrencetown & Dist. Vol. FD: Chief -
Election Congrats., Mr. F. Chipman 1169
Res. 728, Reid, Sarah: UNB Dean's List - Congrats., The Speaker 1169
Res. 729, Reynolds, Ryan: Springhill HS Winter Carnival 1st Prince -
Congrats., The Speaker 1170
Res. 730, Roberts, Donna - Oxford Town: Service Award (21 yrs.) -
Congrats., The Speaker 1170
Res. 731, Saffron, Arthur - Golden Jubilee Medal, The Speaker 1171
Res. 732, Spence, Daniel: Classic Achiever Scholarship Prog. -
Congrats., The Speaker 1171
Res. 733, Smith, Ruth - Rug-Hooking Bk.: Inclusion - Congrats.,
The Speaker 1172
Res. 734, Smith, Erva: Golden Jubilee Medal, The Speaker 1172
Res. 735, Ski Wentworth: CNTA Award - Congrats., The Speaker 1173
Res. 736, Sports - Springhill HS Golden Eagles:
Girls Basketball Champs - Congrats., The Speaker 1173

[Page 1053]

HALIFAX, WEDNESDAY, APRIL 16, 2003

Fifty-eighth General Assembly

Third Session

2:00 P.M.

SPEAKER

Hon. Murray Scott

DEPUTY SPEAKERS

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

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

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the tremendous economic activity now happening in Kings County.

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

STATEMENTS BY MINISTERS

1053

[Page 1054]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Health.

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I rise today to make a brief statement on an issue important to all members of the House because it is an issue of utmost importance to Nova Scotians. The issue is nursing. Specifically, I want to provide copies of the 2nd Annual Nursing Strategy Update to all members of the House so they can see the strategy is working. The reason the strategy is working is simple. It was developed and is being put into action by nurses themselves, based on first-hand and front-line experience. Yes, our government is doing what we promised for nursing. We are providing money, in fact, almost $60 million is being invested between 2001 and 2006 and yes, our government has given nurses a greater voice.

We hired a nurse, Barb Oke, in the gallery today, as our nursing policy advisor. Ms. Oke has built a nursing network responsible for the exceptional advice that is having such a positive impact on nursing in this province. So I would ask all members of the House to join me in welcoming members of the nursing network. Besides Ms. Oke, if I may introduce them, Mr. Speaker, we have: Carolyn Moore, Executive Director of the College of Registered Nurses of Nova Scotia; Ann Mann, Executive Director and Registrar, College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia; Albert MacIntyre, Deputy Registrar, College of Licensed Practical Nurses of Nova Scotia; Donna Denney, Director, Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre; Janet Hazelton, President of the Nova Scotia Nurses Union; Mary Ellen Gurnham, Chief Nursing Officer at Capital Health; and Cheryl Howell, Vice-President, Patient Care Services, Cumberland Health Authority. They are rising, if they could receive the warm welcome of the House (Applause)

Mr. Speaker, these are the people - and their colleagues working in hospitals, communities and nursing homes across the province - who deserve to be recognized for the success reflected in this update.

I will just hit the highlights. We are training more nurses and have doubled the number of graduates. More nurses are coming to Nova Scotia. In the past year alone, 113 have come from as far away as Alberta, California and England. Nurses are finding permanent, full-time work, because as the President of the Nova Scotia Nurses' Union has

publicly stated, there are many jobs here. Finally, nurses are getting the continuing education they need to provide the best possible care to their patients.

Mr. Speaker, the Registered Nurses Professional Development Centre is offering new programs and delivering them in new ways, based on the advice and the work of the nursing network. As just one example, the new Emergency Nursing Program is responding to the need for specialty nurses that we see in the Valley, and more nurses have enrolled in the Emergency Nursing Program than any other the centre offers.

[Page 1055]

I want to close my comments today with an issue that has been raised repeatedly in this House, and that is the number of nurses registered here in Nova Scotia. Since 2000, the number of nurses registered in Nova Scotia has increased each and every year. That is good news, given decisions of the mid-1990s to train fewer nurses and to introduce an early retirement program for nurses.

Mr. Speaker, I do not raise these points to question or criticize the decisions of former governments, I am simply stating the facts so the record is clear. More importantly, however, we must focus on the future. In that regard, I want to share a comment from a nurse who attended the leadership conference in April, because her advice is good for all of us. On her evaluation form, the nurse was asked what she would do differently as a result of the conference. The nurse wrote, "I will stop thinking about yesterday and plan for tomorrow by doing the best I can today in a positive style so inviting that I will be contagious."

Mr. Speaker, that is the kind of positive attitude our nurses share with their patients every day. It is the positive attitude they take to national job fairs that are bringing more nurses to Nova Scotia, and it is the positive attitude that is fueling such positive results with Nova Scotia's nursing strategy. Once again, I ask all members of the House to join me in thanking the members of the nursing network and their colleagues, who do so much for so many every day. After all, hospital patients rely on their nurses more than anyone, as they have access to them day and night. In return, nurses deserve our full support for the critical role they play in providing high-quality patient care. More work remains to be done, but we will keep moving forward, and we will continue to provide our full support to our nurses. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Needham.

MS. MAUREEN MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the minister for providing a copy of her statement in advance. I would like to welcome representatives of the various nursing associations and organizations who are here in our gallery today, on behalf of the NDP caucus. I also want to thank them and acknowledge the many hours that they have put into addressing what could only have been described as the chaos that existed in the system five years ago under the former Liberal Government.

Frankly, I think, if this government hadn't accomplished greater stability with respect to nursing, the whole health care system in our province would have collapsed. I want to remind the members on the other side that, in fact, it almost did as a result of Bill No. 68, which was a significant piece of legislation brought forward by this government. It's nice to know that members of the government have found some new-found respect for members of the nursing profession.

[Page 1056]

I want to say to the minister that while it's important to acknowledge the progress that has been made, I want to caution the government and the minister that all has not been resolved, that there are still many unfulfilled openings in the various districts. If you go to the Web sites of the Valley region, for example, you will see a number of openings. There are still nurses who cannot find full-time jobs. There are still nurses who will leave our province. There are still nurses who have left, who will not return to the province. There are still nurses who have left the profession, who are not about to come back to the profession just yet. There are still rough days ahead as the DHAs struggle to control costs, regardless of the demands that are placed on them for their services. There are still nurses from other countries arriving here, for whom accreditation is still an issue, as they would like to practice their profession but have been unable to do so.

I think the largest challenge, perhaps, is the challenge of government attempting to transform our health care system as we know it, in to one where the full abilities of the various health care providers are adequately utilized, which we all know is the major challenge that lies in front of us. So these are reasons to proceed optimistically, but with the knowledge that there is much to be achieved yet. Thank you.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Clare.

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to the thank the honourable minister for providing us with a copy of her statement earlier today. I rise in my place on behalf of my colleague, the member for Dartmouth East, Dr. Jim Smith, to respond to the statement this afternoon. The funeral in Dartmouth, for which many members in this House would be aware of, has taken him away for part of this day.

First and foremost, I would like to congratulate our visitors in the gallery who have worked so diligently to make a difference in the nursing profession. As many members in this House would be aware, the former Liberal Government placed a priority on nurse recruitment back in 1999, and we announced the position of a nurse policy advisor back then. On behalf of my colleague and our caucus we would like to thank Mrs. Barb Oke for her dedication to her profession.

There are several observations I would like to make this afternoon. Like every other profession in the modern world, there has been great progress made to professionalize the work force. As a result, the national nursing body moved from a two-year diploma program to a four-year degree granting program. There is no question that this has slowed the pace by which we are able to produce a trained professional nurse. The Liberal announcement in 1999 will see more nursing graduates starting this year. This government will see results from their recent announcement in 2007. Both announcements are positive in terms of the number of nurses. It is now up to all of us to ensure that they stay.

[Page 1057]

[2:15 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I would be remiss if I did not touch for a moment on Bill No. 68. This bill, a Tory Government creation - and no one else was responsible for fewer nurses in the profession - meant that 1,200 fewer nurses registered in this province a year after the bill was brought in and we have yet to recover. While nurses may slowly be returning to Nova Scotia, there is no question that this government's action has had a dramatic impact on the health care system. Just ask those who had surgeries cancelled in the last month or so, the reason, more often than not, was because there wasn't a nurse. To close, I encourage all those in the gallery today to look at the recent situation in the Valley District Health Authority. Eighteen job postings failed to yield one single application. This must be reviewed by those in the gallery and it is incumbent for those in the gallery to work with the Annapolis Valley Regional DHA to provide whatever assistance they can.

GOVERNMENT NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Premier.

RESOLUTION NO. 651

HON. JOHN HAMM (The Premier): Mr. Speaker, I hereby give notice that on a future day I shall move the adoption of the following resolution:

Whereas on April 17, 2002, in the darkness of an Afghanistan night, members of Princess Patricia's Canadian Light Infantry battle group were carrying out live fire exercises when they became victims of American friendly fire; and

Whereas to the horror of all Canada, eight soldiers were injured and four young men lost their lives, two of them from Nova Scotia; and

Whereas while words cannot console this loss, we should call to mind the pride and gratitude we hold for our military and express the sorrow we share for the loss of these young lives;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House observe a moment's silence in remembrance of Canada's lost sons - Private Richard Green of Mill Cove; Private Nathan Smith of Ostrea Lake; Sergeant Mark Leger of Lancaster, Ontario; and Corporal Ainsworth Dyer of Montreal - and keeping in our thoughts the grieving families and friends left behind.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice and request members to stand for a moment of silence.

[Page 1058]

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.

We will rise for a moment of silence in memory of those who lost their lives in the Armed Forces.

[One minute of silence was observed.]

MR. SPEAKER: Thank you, please be seated.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 652

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

Whereas on January 27, 2003, Acadian Seaplants Limited was recognized as one of Canada's 50 best-managed companies; and

Whereas ASL is the largest independent marine plant manufacturing processing and cultivating company in the world; and

Whereas Louis Comeau, Chairman of ASL, recognized that winning this award was the result of the dedication, hard work and valuable contributions made by Acadian Seaplants employees;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House applaud Acadian Seaplants Limited on having been named one of Canada's best-managed companies.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1059]

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Finance.

RESOLUTION NO. 653

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

Whereas the net direct debt to Gross Domestic Product ratio is an economic measure of the province's health and stability; and

Whereas under this government, Nova Scotia's debt to GDP ratio has fallen from more than 46 per cent to 41 per cent; and

Whereas reducing the debt to GDP ratio generates greater fiscal sustainability for the province;

Therefore be it resolved that the House recognize a growing financial strength of this province.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

RESOLUTION NO. 654

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

[Page 1060]

Whereas Marine Atlantic has won the Canadian Transportation Agencies' first-ever Accessible Transportation Award; and

Whereas from a review of all federally regulated transportation providers across Canada, the Canadian Transportation Agencies awarded Marine Atlantic in recognition of its leadership and best practices and services for persons with disabilities; and

Whereas Marine Atlantic not only provides independent access to most onboard services, it has also instituted an ombudsman and an accessibility committee that includes disability consumer groups and provides its employees with sensitivity training;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Marine Atlantic for taking such good initiative to serve people with disabilities and for providing leadership among transportation service providers.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Education.

RESOLUTION NO. 655

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

Whereas the SMARTer Kids Foundation Connections Program provides select students and teachers across North America with a chance to learn new skills, build confidence and create bonds outside their communities; and

Whereas under the Connections Program, students and teachers interact with classrooms throughout North America and work together on curriculum-based projects; and

[Page 1061]

Whereas each Spring, Connections brings participants together in Calgary and this year, John Link, a Grade 6 teacher, along with 10 Grade 6 students, will be ambassadors for Mount Carmel Elementary School in New Waterford at the Connections Camp in Calgary;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate John Link for his commitment to integrating technology in his day-to-day teaching and wish his students well in this wonderful learning adventure.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries.

RESOLUTION NO. 656

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

Whereas members of the House recognize the late Marshall Keizer, formerly of Baddeck, for his years of commitment to our natural resources by creating the Marshall Keizer Award in 2002; and

Whereas the Marshall Keizer Award recognizes an individual for outstanding contribution to the improvement of outdoor heritage in Cape Breton; and

Whereas Mr. Leonard Forsyth of Margaree has shown leadership, dedication and energy for the betterment of our wildlife resources, in particular our sport fishery and the Atlantic salmon resource of the Margaree River;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize Mr. Leonard Forsyth's years of commitment and congratulate him for being awarded the Marshall Keizer Award for 2003.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

[Page 1062]

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

INTRODUCTION OF BILLS

NOTICES OF MOTION

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Atlantic.

RESOLUTION NO. 657

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

Whereas an "Open for Business" office has recently been established at the South Centre Mall in Spryfield; and

Whereas the "Create your own Future" program being offered is designed to inspire youth who may not otherwise have opportunities for meaningful employment; and

Whereas the program offers workshops focusing on practical knowledge required for the operation of a small business;

Therefore be it resolved I ask the House to congratulate District 18 Business and Development Association of Spryfield for their initiative in establishing the Open for Business office in support of youth having business opportunities.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

[Page 1063]

The motion is carried.

The honourable Leader in the House of the Liberal Party.

RESOLUTION NO. 658

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I would like to give my resolution in French first.

M. le Président, par la présente, j'avise que je proposerai à une date ultérieure, l'adoption de la résolution suivante:

Attendu que la Caisse populaire de Clare s'est distinguée comme entité corporative par son engagement envers la communauté de Clare en offrant des services tels que des bureaux à la Chambre de Commerce de Clare, un appui financier à la radio communautaire CIFA et son aide à l'église de la paroisse Sainte-Marie de la Pointe-de-l'Èglise; et

Attendu que la Caisse populaire de Clare porte main forte à la pièce de théâtre Évangéline et soutien le programme de Transport de Clare pour faciliter le déplacement des personnes avec handicaps; et

Attendu que la Caisse populaire de Clare a reçu le prix Coady lors de l'Assemblée annuelle de la Credit Union Central en reconnaissance pour sa contribution à la communauté de Clare;

Qu'il soit résolu que cette assemblée reconnaît la Caisse populaire de Clare pour son dévouement envers la communauté de Clare et félicite ses employé-e-s et ses membres pour avoir reçu ce prestigieux prix.

M. le président, je propose l'adoption de cette résolution sans préavis et sans débats.

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

Whereas Caisse Populaire de Clare has demonstrated itself as a responsible corporate citizen with the tremendous support they have provided to the community, providing office space for the local Chamber of Commerce, as well as supporting the local radio station CIFA and the largest wooden church in North America, Paroisse Sainte-Marie in Church Point; and

Whereas the Caisse populaire de Clare has sponsored the musical drama, la pièce Évangéline, in addition to sponsoring a program to provide transportation to people with disabilities with le Transport de Clare program; and

[Page 1064]

Whereas the Caisse populaire de Clare was awarded the Coady Award at the annual meeting of the Credit Union Central in recognition of the contributions that they have made to Clare;

Therefore be it resolved that we acknowledge the commitment that Caisse populaire de Clare has demonstrated to the community of Clare and congratulate them on this prestigious award.

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 Preston.

RESOLUTION NO. 659

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

Whereas last night Tuesday, April 15th, at the packed, old Halifax Forum the Halifax Mooseheads struck a 4-0 victory over the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, capturing the best of seven semi-final series, in Game 7 with a 4-3 series decision; and

Whereas this is the eighth year of the Halifax Mooseheads hockey team franchise since it entered the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League in 1984 and host of the 2000 Memorial Cup tournament; and

Whereas this will be the second time in the Halifax Mooseheads franchise's history

they will be competing for the conference finals, being the only Maritime team left to defend our honour;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House offer congratulations to the Halifax Mooseheads and Coach Shawn MacKenzie on winning the Quebec junior league hockey Frank Dilio semifinal series over the Acadie-Bathurst Titans, and wish them all the best in proceeding to the Dilio Conference finals facing the Baie-Comeau Drakkar.

[Page 1065]

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. 660

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

Whereas the last Liberal Minister of Health stood in this House yesterday and expressed concern over the closure of beds and the potential closure of Soldiers Memorial Hospital in Middleton; and

Whereas it was under his Party's governance that 30 per cent of the acute care beds in this province were shut down during the 1990s; and

Whereas four communities whose hospitals fell victim to the Liberal health cuts include Annapolis Royal, Berwick, Wolfville, and Middleton;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the former Liberal Health Minister on his amazing ability to forgive and forget when it comes to his own government's dreadful health care record.

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.

[Page 1066]

[2:30 p.m.]

The honourable member for Annapolis.

RESOLUTION NO. 661

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 County Learning Network is publishing a book, Learning . . . To Live, to raise awareness of literacy issues, not only in Annapolis County but throughout Nova Scotia; and

Whereas the book will be compiled and edited by Granville Ferry's Alex Morrison, who has the publishing experience the project needs, having worked on over 30 books to date; and

Whereas the Annapolis County Learning Network will give people from all over Nova Scotia an opportunity to share their successes, hopefully encouraging others to contact learning organizations to upgrade their literacy skills;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Annapolis County Learning Network on this inspirational initiative and promoting learning and literacy in Nova Scotia, and wish them success with this book and their future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

RESOLUTION NO. 662

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

[Page 1067]

Whereas members of the Third Party in this House were very quick to praise the election of Quebec Premier-designate Jean Charest, who promised $5 billion in income tax cuts in his successful platform; and

Whereas members of the Third Party were equally quick to praise the election of Gordon Campbell, who made an immediate income tax cut which pushed British Columbia into deep deficit;

Therefore be it resolved that this House congratulate the clever way in which Third Party MLAs have sent a message to their own Leader, with whom they frequently do not seem to agree, by praising the big tax-cutting Liberal Leaders in other provinces.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

I hear a No.

The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

RESOLUTION NO. 663

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

Whereas the Progressive Conservative Party of Nova Scotia is in focus and on the move, as demonstrated by the attendance at their nominating conventions; and

Whereas in Dartmouth South last evening, only 23 registered delegates attended the convention held to celebrate the $155 cheque; and

Whereas six MLAs were needed to be in attendance to make sure there was a quorum, the quorum being 25, so as to make the nominating convention legal;

Therefore be it resolved that the Hammite Tories be commended for getting their six MLAs to the convention inasmuch as had only three attended or two, the honourable Minister of Natural Resources would have had to have called his convention a second time.

[Page 1068]

MR. SPEAKER: The notice is tabled.

The honourable member for Sackville-Beaver Bank.

RESOLUTION NO. 664

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

Whereas on April 2nd, St. John Vianney Council No. 7077 of the Knights of Columbus celebrated their 25th Anniversary; and

Whereas the St. John Vianney Knights have served the Sackville community well over the last 25 years; and

Whereas the Knights' latest good deed will occur on June 14th, when they host the Special Olympians at Metropolitan Field in Sackville;

Therefore be it resolved that members of this House congratulate the St. John Vianney Council No. 7077 of the Knights of Columbus and thank them for their many contributions to our community and province.

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.

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order regarding the resolution. The honourable member wasn't there, and I can't understand why he wouldn't want to be there. Just as a clarification on the point of order, there were in excess of 125 Nova Scotians in Dartmouth South who showed up at this meeting, and that was before my honourable colleagues entered the room. I was very pleased with the number of Nova Scotians and the number of people from Dartmouth South who came out to celebrate the pending victory in Dartmouth South-Portland Valley. (Applause)

[Page 1069]

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova.

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: . . . I apologize and retract. At the Liberal nominating convention that I was last at there were over 600 people present. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: It's not a point of order. I don't know if it's a disagreement between two members or a clarification of the facts.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 665

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

Whereas the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Nova Scotia annually presents a CA of the Year Award; and

Whereas the recipient in addition to being an exemplary CA must also work for good causes within their community; and

Whereas this year's award went to South Shore CA Jim Eisenhauer, President of ABCO Limited and Chairman of St. John's Anglican Church Restoration Campaign Committee, an organization which is raising money to repair extensive fire damage to the church;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the Legislature congratulate Jim Eisenhauer on the receipt of the honour of CA of the Year Award and wish him success as he leads his effort to bring back to life the beloved St. John's Anglican Church.

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 1070]

The honourable member for Richmond.

RESOLUTION NO. 666

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

Whereas volunteers throughout Nova Scotia in selflessly giving of their time demonstrate that they are truly the backbone of their community; and

Whereas the Provincial Volunteer Awards ceremony and luncheon , which celebrates its 29th Anniversary this year, will take place on Wednesday, April 23, 2003, to honour these hardworking and dedicated volunteers with the Representative Volunteer Award; and

Whereas Jean A. Kehoe of Richmond County, an accomplished singer and organizer has been selected for her contribution for her work in the community, most recently as a member of St. Hyacinth's Parish in D'Escousse;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House recognize the important contribution that these volunteers provide in making their neighbourhoods, their communities and our province stronger.

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. 667

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

Whereas Nova Scotia is the world's largest exporter of lobster; and

[Page 1071]

Whereas lobster fishing season along the Eastern Shore opens Saturday and will last until June 20; and

Whereas Eastern Shore lobsters are served in premium restaurants from Brazil to Sweden to Asia and at peak times of the year a quarter million pounds of live Nova Scotia lobster is trucked to the United States on a daily basis through the border at Calais, Maine;

Therefore be it resolve that all MLAs extend our sincerest wishes to the lobster fishermen along the Nova Scotia Eastern Shore and wish them a safe, trouble free and financially rewarding season.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries on an introduction.

HON. GORDON BALSER: Mr. Speaker, I would call attention of the members in the Assembly to the gallery opposite where we have two visitors with us today, two people of high-standing in the agricultural community, Doug Bacon, the President of the Nova Scotia Federation of Agriculture and Laurence Nason. I would ask them to rise and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

MR. SPEAKER: I certainly welcome these two special gentlemen to the gallery today and hope you enjoy the proceedings.

The honourable Minister of Transportation and Public Works.

RESOLUTION NO. 668

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

[Page 1072]

Whereas the Second Story Women's Centre has developed a program called Bully Busters, which is designed to raise awareness about the issues surrounding bullying and what its affects can be; and

Whereas Terry Goodwin, Chairman of the Lunenburg Family Resource Centre has been working to have the program instituted by local schools; and

Whereas students in Grade 2 to Grade 6 at the Lunenburg Academy have been participating in the Bully Buster program, which addresses what can be done when bullying occurs and what can be done to prevent it;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of the House of Assembly congratulate Second Story Women's Centre, Terry Goodwin and the students at the Lunenburg Academy on working to make bullying unacceptable not only in our schools but in our communities as well.

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.

RESOLUTION NO. 669

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

Whereas Nova Scotia's palliative care volunteers play integral roles in providing comfort to patients and their families during a very difficult time in their lives; and

Whereas Pictou County's Palliative Care Society held its annual general meeting at the Aberdeen Hospital on March 27th; and

Whereas retiring volunteers Carolyn Riding and Anna Russell, were honoured for 13 tremendous years of service with the society;

[Page 1073]

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join me in expressing our gratitude to Carolyn Riding and Anna Russell, and all of those men and women who take time out of their daily lives to assist those in our palliative care program, in what is a very special volunteer role.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Queens.

RESOLUTION NO. 670

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

Whereas Erin Spinney, a local Girl Guide Ranger, is heading off to England to take part in the Footsteps of the Founders camp; and

Whereas the camp takes place over the summer months at Brownsea Island, one of the first islands where guiding began; and

Whereas in 2002, Ms. Spinney represented the region of Queens Municipality as a provincial representative volunteer, showing that her community involvement isn't limited to participating in the Girl Guide program;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Erin Spinney on being a part of the Footsteps of the Founders camp and wish her continued success in her future endeavours.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

[Page 1074]

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 Kings West.

RESOLUTION NO. 671

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

Whereas fundraising leading to the construction of the new Berwick arena, to be formally known as the Apple Dome, is now gaining rapid strength at a very rapid pace; and

Whereas President John Nichols of the Berwick Building Supplies recently donated $100,000 to the fundraising initiative; and

Whereas John Nichols is a proven community leader and willing to help out virtually any project in the Berwick and western Kings County area, that will benefit communities for the long term;

Therefore be it resolved that MLAs commend the initiative of Berwick Building Supply President John Nichols for his generous donation, while wishing everyone involved with the Apple Dome project success in replacing what has become an antiquated and outdated Berwick arena.

Mr. Speaker, I request waiver of notice.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

The honourable member for Annapolis.

[Page 1075]

RESOLUTION NO. 672

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 Leader of the Third Party is talking about stunting Nova Scotia's economic growth by cancelling a tax reduction that our government will be implementing Janurary 1, 2004; and

Whereas a recent Chronicle Herald editorial stated that the real issue is whether the province is carrying the annual amortization and interest costs without running a budget deficit which, it said, the present government is doing; and

Whereas The Chronicle Herald editorial also stated that this government has balanced two budgets by Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and in the process has ended credit card abuse;

Therefore be it resolved that the Leader of the Third Party understand that taxes drain the lifeblood out of our communities and economies and that Nova Scotians are looking forward to the tax relief promised by our government back in the summer of 1999.

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.

ORDERS OF THE DAY

ORAL QUESTIONS PUT BY MEMBERS

MR. SPEAKER: Question Period will begin at 2:44 p.m. and will end at 4:14 p.m.

The honourable Leader of the Official Opposition.

FIN. - CASINO: SMOKING BAN - EXEMPTION EXPLAIN

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, as we are all well aware, last night the Halifax Regional Council passed a bylaw that will eventually ban smoking in all public

[Page 1076]

places within Halifax Regional Municipality; well, almost all. It appears this Premier is prepared to cave in to casino operators and exempt them from the bylaw. Now members of the Third Party, when they were in government, signed a bad deal. This government wants to make that deal even worse. In fact, this government chose to exempt the casino from its so-called Smoke-free Places Act, and now it appears it is prepared to cave in again. I want to ask the Premier, despite the overwhelming public support for a full ban on smoking in public places and workplaces, why is your government prepared to cave in to the casino and give them further exemptions?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite brings up a good question in the sense of the smoking bylaw that was passed by Halifax Regional Municipality last night. Under the contract that was signed by Bernie Boudreau and the casino, there are provisions in there (Interruption) Yes, he was Liberal by the way. (Interruptions)

[2:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I'm trying to concentrate on my answer. However, in regard to that contract the situation is if the operator has reason to cancel the contract, there are penalties which would accrue to the province, one of which is that we would have to buy the casino for $80 million and we would also have to pay them all the profits that would have accrued between today, or at such time as they give notice to the end of the contract. That's another $30 million. So we're talking well in excess of $100 million. The province is assessing its options and we will come forward with a position shortly.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I don't know if the minister has even read the contract but, in fact, the contract doesn't provide that and if he hasn't determined that by this time, I hope he gets some advice on it. He blames it on the Liberals and, I've got to tell you, we all know how badly the Liberals run things when they are in government, but in this case there's enough blame to go around. The Premier said that the municipalities are free to pass tougher bylaws than the province's Smoke-free Places Act and in fact some have. As a medical doctor he should know that you don't give up on an issue without a fight. Will the Premier tell this House what he heard from the casino operators, and when, which made him rush out yesterday and make commitments around an exemption for the casinos?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to this, the casino operator has indicated to the province that smoking bylaws would have a negative impact on their operations. That is one of the reasons that would trigger the cancellation of the contract and the cost. The fact that the province has been put on notice is an important fact and it's one that the province has

[Page 1077]

to assess when it's making its decision as to how we're going to respond to the situation that's going on right now with regard to the casino.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, that's just plainly not true. I mean the contract is very plain. It says that the change would have to materially impair the ability of the operator to operate the casino. This does not materially impair their ability to operate the casino. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, the Premier shouldn't try to duck and run on this one. He should answer the question. He should try to give a direct answer. The fact is your government, Mr. Premier, is in a knee-jerk pre-election mode. You're so concerned about winning the media spin game that you concede defeat without even putting up a fight. So I want to ask this question, why doesn't your government have the courage and the sense to try to work out potential problems instead of simply giving up to the casino operators?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, when I hear the member opposite saying that he has read the contract and he understands it perfectly, well, obviously, the legal opinion that we received is different. Perhaps he could take a refresher course. With regard to the fact that this will have an impact on the casino, if you look at the casinos throughout the world, I doubt very much there are any that are smoke-free. If there are, there are very few and we're going to have to weigh the situation. This is not a trivial matter when you're talking over $100 million. Perhaps the NDP doesn't think that that's material, but we do and for the 1,100 people who work there also, it is also a source of employment.

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

ENERGY - OFFSHORE: ACTIVITY - LACK EXPLAIN

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Yesterday the Premier and his Energy Minister avoided the subject of the offshore by not answering any questions that were put to them. What we have is a Premier in denial, a Premier who does not recognize that . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . slipping through his fingers. A Premier who is concerned more about style than substance and who states the economy will grow without the offshore, but can't say how, a Premier who would sacrifice all credibility in an attempt to buy an election, with broken promises the rule rather than the exception. My question to

[Page 1078]

the Premier is, instead of patting yourself on the back, Mr. Premier, how do you explain the lack of activity in the offshore?

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

HON. ERNEST FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly when you look at the expertise, the amount of effort the province and industry have put into developing opportunities for Nova Scotians in the offshore and onshore, 2,000 jobs in the offshore business here in Nova Scotia is hugely significant, and a product of a lot of work, effort and time on behalf of this government and this province to ensure that Nova Scotians get the training they need to be involved in the offshore, and that they get those jobs, 2,000 jobs currently, is significant.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, we're still having difficulty getting the Premier to explain his position on where his government is going with the offshore. Perhaps I can point the Premier in the right direction. Last year the former Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations said, we hope that we can reach an agreement with SOEP partners on their fair share of property taxes so we can avoid a long and costly legal fight.

Well, Mr. Premier, I understand that those negotiations are back where they were in 1999 and that a costly legal fight could be around the corner. No wonder companies are afraid to invest in the Nova Scotia offshore. Municipalities like Guysborough and Richmond can't access the property tax revenue to improve infrastructure. Oil companies have no idea what the rules are in place before they make an investment. My question to the Premier is, why would a company invest in Nova Scotia when they are forced to go to the courts whenever there is a dispute with this government?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister responsible.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I can inform the honourable member that those discussions regarding the assessment have come to a successful conclusion, and that the municipalities have been advised and we're moving forward.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, somebody had better tell the municipalities of Guysborough and Richmond that that is the case because, as of today, they have no idea that those negotiations are what the minister says they are. What we still have here is a Premier in denial when it comes to the offshore. Once again the Premier is burying his head in the sand and trying to tell Nova Scotians that he's going to improve the economy of this province without the impact of the offshore, but he can't say how. My final question to the Premier is, why won't the Premier personally intervene in these disputes to ensure that the benefits of the Sable project accrue to Nova Scotians sooner than later?

[Page 1079]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister of Energy, who will inform the member opposite of a recent success.

MR. FAGE: Mr. Speaker, certainly the member opposite understands that SOEP gas is flowing and it has been flowing since this government took office in 1999. What I would like to tell the member opposite is that there is more activity in the offshore today. Superior Gas announced that they would be drilling a $60 million well in this season, offshore Nova Scotia. The investment is coming to this province. It's a normal procedure. We will have well announcements from various energy companies, and that will continue to happen.

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

FIN. - N.S. GAMING CORP.: CASINO OPERATOR - NOTICE

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question, once again, is for the Premier. Let's see if we have any more success in getting him to actually answer one. We now know that the backbone of this government rests very squarely in its pocketbook. There is more evidence than ever that this government cares more about budgets than it does about people. Without even reading the contract, the Premier is prepared to cave in. The operating contract is very clear, it says that the owner must notify the Gaming Corporation in writing of any dispute. This morning's paper indicated that the casino operator hadn't even read the council bylaw. So my question for the Premier is this, has the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation received written notice from the casino operator disputing the application of the HRM bylaw?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation.

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the notification from HRM to the Nova Scotia Gaming Corporation, they have asked for details of the bylaw. As of yet, they have not received them. What we are talking about here is a bylaw which will have an impact on the casino and if the member opposite is such a learned lawyer, he would also have read the contract that also says that we have to remedy any situation within 30 days or be in breech of the contract. So for the edification of the Leader of the New Democratic Party, I will table the contract and I'll even highlight the clauses that he should read to make it like a, b, c.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I would be happy to go toe to toe with that member on that contract because I do know what it says. They have to determine what a terminating event is and that hasn't even been resolved. The minister doesn't know what he's talking about on this issue.

[Page 1080]

The Premier's statements last night and today are a little like saying you are going to operate on someone before they tell you that something is wrong, Mr. Speaker. The operating agreement, despite the many loopholes that were left by the Liberals, has a process for dispute resolution. That process requires written notice by one of the parties and the appointment of a mediator if no resolution is found within 30 days. Mr. Premier, I want to ask you, will you commit to following the dispute resolution process agreed to by the government in the operating contract?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for the supervision and management of Part I of the Gaming Control Act.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I point out again, if the member opposite would read the contract properly, the dispute resolution process that's in there gives a chance to bring the matter before dispute resolution. However, if we are in breech in 30 days, they can cancel the contract and we have to pay the money. That is one thing that the member opposite has not recognized and that's why I so graciously tabled the contract so that he can review it again and I even highlighted the areas that he should read, just to make it easy for him.

MR. DEXTER: You know, Mr. Speaker, just with the construction delays in the former government, these guys are looking for an excuse to turtle - that's right, to turtle - and to give up to the casino operator before there is even a notification filed. That's what they want to do. They just want to make sure that the casino operators get their own way. So my question for the Premier is very simple. How can you justify pushing ahead with a legislated exemption without any clear reason under legislation, under regulations or under the operating agreement.

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Minister responsible for the Gaming Corporation.

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I have told the member on numerous occasions that the fact of the matter is that we have to look at the contract that is written. The so-called "Bernie clause" that is in that contract means that there are provisions in there that the casino could basically opt out and cancel the contract and we would have to buy the casino and also pay all their lost profits. Over and above that, this government has no intention of running a casino in Halifax or in Sydney. We've had enough lack of success in steel mills and also in gas and oil. We have no intention of operating a casino.

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

PREM: OFFICE STAFF - DETAILS

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, my question is again to the Premier. The Premier wants Nova Scotians to believe he is a Premier with integrity, an honest Premier

[Page 1081]

and an open and accountable Premier. Aside from all his other broken promises, the Premier can't even be honest, open and accountable with Nova Scotians about who works for him in his own office. The Supplement to the Public Accounts states the Premier's former communications director and recently-departed speech writer worked at Communications Nova Scotia. I would like to table this document entitled Public Service, Supplement to the Public Accounts.

Duff Montgomerie and Moira MacLeod who are in this House every day handing the Premier answers to his questions, are listed under Treasury and Policy Board. It's pretty hard to develop and write policy from the gallery of the House and the list goes on, Mr. Speaker. Chris Lydon, who everyone knows works in the Premier's Office, is also listed under the Treasury and Policy Board expenditures. My question to the Premier is, why isn't the Premier honest, open and accountable about something as simple as his own employees?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, the member opposite knows that people who sit on the government benches interact with a number of people in various departments. This particular member of the Executive Council is no different than the rest. I interact with a number of people who work in various departments, and that is the way government works.

[3:00 p.m.]

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, it's easy to say you have a smaller budget than the previous Premier, when you hide all your staff in every other government department around. My supplement to my question, the real answer to the question is, that if the Premier wants Nova Scotians to believe he doesn't have a large political staff and his office budget is small because he isn't paying a lot of Tory hacks to provide him with questions he can't answer and travel expenses coming out of that office are low, the truth is the Premier's hiding his staff and misleading the public. My first supplementary to the Premier is, will the Premier admit that he is misleading Nova Scotians to make his office budget smaller by hiding staff salaries in other departments?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite the reason my budget is small is because my budget is small. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton South has the floor.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: . . . this Premier has given to Nova Scotians in the past three and a half years, aside from all of that, he stands in his place here today and tries to tell Nova Scotians that his budget is smaller than it was in the previous administration, when in fact he's hiding salaries all over government departments and those people are doing work for the Premier's Office. My final supplementary is, will the Premier admit today that

[Page 1082]

his office staff is larger than he is admitting, and will he table the list of people working in his office and their salaries before the end of this House today?

THE PREMIER: The next accusation that will come from the member for Cape Breton South is that I have 12,000 people working for me because those are the number of people working in the public sector. The member opposite also is playing to the television cameras because he knows all of that information is in the estimates.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

ECON. DEV. - ORENDA RECIP:

OPERATIONS - CESSATION CONFIRM

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, Orenda Recip is a Debert-based company that got a barrel full of taxpayer money but has never fulfilled any job promises. I want to table a letter just delivered to employees at Orenda, it is titled, Cessation of Orenda Recip Operations. "It is with sincere regret that we must announce our decision to wind-up the reciprocating engine program in Mississauga and at Debert, Nova Scotia." I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development just one simple question: will he confirm for this House the fact that Orenda Recip, a company with $9 million in provincial money, has ceased operations?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, yes, the company to which you refer, where there was $9 million from the Government of Canada, $9 million from the Province of Nova Scotia as well as matching money from Orenda, has filed that they are closing their operations. (Interruption)

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Just one at a time, Mr. Speaker. Orenda Recip will go down as one of the Liberals' most spectacularly bad deals. I have to tell you, that's saying something. But they are not alone in this debacle. I will table 32 cheques amounting to more than $9 million. These cheques were given to Orenda by different Liberal Finance Ministers. The last three, totalling more than $400,000, were written by our current Finance Minister. So my question to the Finance Minister is, why did you keep writing cheques to this company in 1999, when you had to know that they failed to live up to any of their promises?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, I don't cut every cheque individually, obviously. I will refer it to the Minister of Economic Development, who will give you a clear answer in that regard.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member and I had an opportunity to have this exchange, as well, in estimates in his questioning there. The payments that were made by this government were subject to contractual obligations. At the time those cheques were let the contract was being met.

[Page 1083]

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, this government and the one before it threw away $9 million - and I will table the Liberal press release from 1997 - it promises 110 direct jobs and 325 supplier jobs; the site would produce 163 engines in the first year and we would be paid for each engine sold. So my question for the minister is, will the minister confirm for this House that Orenda had just 13 jobs and sold just one or two engines?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, the current level of employees who were provided notice was 13 and they were running, my understanding was, around 30 employees at the Debert facility. What's important to note is that the technology behind the Recip engine was state-of-the-art, was innovative, was appropriate but the industry itself, the volatility within the aviation industry, which this House had known about, was such that the sales weren't there, not the people. I want to say to the NDP, we wanted to see that contract give a chance to that company because good Nova Scotians are working there and good Nova Scotians won't get a future if we go by NDP economic policy.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

ECON. DEV. - ORENDA: FUNDING - CONTINUATION EXPLAIN

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, what the Minister of Economic Development tends to forget is that that $9 million could have been used to create some jobs that were sustainable, not gone down the road.

Mr. Speaker, I want to table a copy of the Orenda contract, signed by the previous Liberal Government. If somebody wants to know what it looks like to give away $9 million for nothing, they might want to take a look at this. There are no obligations for job creation built into this deal. Instead it talks about Orenda making its best efforts to build the facility and I can't understand why any government in their right mind would sign a deal like that one. So my question for the minister is, why did your government continue to hand out money when you knew the company was not meeting its promises?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: First let me say, Mr. Speaker, if that member or his Party could come up with one practical use for $9 million, I have yet to hear of any business opportunity that they brought before the floor of this Legislature. There was a contract in place, a legally-binding contract, that was being met. This government had no choice but to honour that contract. But, again I say when you can come up with at least one economic idea for this province from the New Democratic Party, you'll have the full hearing of this government.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I could give him one economic idea, which would be one more than what he has shown since he's been minister. The government may want to try giving it to agriculture if they can't give it to anyone else. They have been here, they have been working.

[Page 1084]

Mr. Speaker, the Liberal Minister of Economic Development is quoted in 1997 as saying the province would more than double its investment. Well, we would have had a better chance of doubling our $9 million if we bought a pack of smokes, went down to the Liberal casino and let the whole thing ride on Blackjack.

My question for the minister is, will he confirm for this House that the Liberals' deal gave no protection for the $9 million in taxpayers' money?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, to the honourable member's preamble, I want to note one thing, that this government has been engaged in many good business decisions to the fact that there are 436,300 Nova Scotians, a record high as of March 2003. So if you want to talk economic performance, let's have a discussion and let's go case by case, we'll have that.

Mr. Speaker, to answer his question, I'll have to come back with details for that member.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, it is amazing what Nova Scotians have been able to do in spite of this government. The Liberals weren't the only ones falling for the Orenda line. On January 24, 2003, this Minister of Economic Development spoke glowingly about Orenda saying they would soon hit their production target. I want to table a press release issued today by Orenda's parent company, Magellan Aerospace, and it states the company had shut down Orenda Recip in December 2002. So my question to the minister is, why were you so out of touch with the company we have sunk $9 million in that you were praising it four weeks after it decided to shut its doors? (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, what the member just acknowledged at the whole start of this was the fact that workers were provided their final notice. Workers have been working in that facility. It was the best effort to try to see what was an innovative product brought to the market, it wasn't the case. But for that member to get up and talk about a loss of $9 million when his own Leader was saying this government should put $120 million at risk for the casino, would they get together as a caucus and have some consistency in their questions.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Glace Bay.

EDUC. - LOAN REMISSION PROG.: BENEFICIARIES - NUMBERS

MR. DAVID WILSON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Premier. Four years ago the Premier stated, "We believe the pursuit of post-secondary education should not leave Nova Scotians mired in debt." Just in case the Premier can't remember, he can find those words on Page 24 of the blue book. Yet in the year 2000 the John Hamm Government cancelled the Loan Remission Program, that would have left students mired in debt. Now as

[Page 1085]

part of his government's pre-election spending the Premier has introduced the $5.1 million Loan Remission Program which won't even take effect until next year. My question for the Premier is, can the Premier please tell this House how many students are going to benefit from his Loan Remission Program before the next election?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I welcome the question from the member for Glace Bay. The member for Glace Bay obviously has been perusing the blue book and if he would look at the appropriate page, there was a commitment by government to provide to university students and post-secondary students a Loan Remission Program that would be equivalent to 30 per cent of their total debt. As a result of the announcement we made, any student who fully accesses all of the opportunities in the Loan Remission Program can have a remission of over 40 per cent of the debt. Not only did we deliver, but we delivered in excess of what we said we were going to do.

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, you know only the Tories can come up with figures like $5.1 million is as good as $9.9 million.

AN HON. MEMBER: That's Tory logic.

MR. WILSON: That's Tory logic, Mr. Speaker. Where is the rest of the money that's missing from the Loan Remission Program? This is the same Leader who quoted in 1999, "The time has long past for government to step up to its responsibilities to ensure that our young people have full access to higher education, without having to mortgage their futures to do it." This Premier abandoned higher education as a priority by cutting students adrift in order to save over $6 million that it should have used to assist students. My question for the Premier, will the Premier explain why he has jeopardized the future of students in this province by not living up to his word and his promise that they wouldn't have to mortgage their future?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased that the member for Glace Bay gives me an opportunity to remind members of the House that in the mid-1990s the Liberal Government actually reduced funding to universities back to $175 million a year. This year we have increased the funding to universities to relieve a lot of the pressure on student tuition by another $6 million, from $175 million which is where the Liberals were financing universities, we are now in excess of $206 million annually.

[3:15 p.m.]

MR. WILSON: Mr. Speaker, what doesn't the Premier understand about $5.1 million, $9.9 million. Even the students understand that, Mr. Premier. The Premier can talk about how his government is helping students now, the reality is both students and the Millennium Scholarship Foundation are dissatisfied with the announcement by this government. The Premier still wants the students to believe that things are stronger and better now than they

[Page 1086]

were four years ago with the Loan Remission Program. My final question for the Premier is, can the Premier explain to students, how they've gone without a Loan Remission Program for four years, how they are better off now with this Loan Remission Program than they were four years ago?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, what I can do is remind the member opposite that the Loan Remission Program under that government assisted some 3,300 students annually. Our program will, in fact, help over 9,000 students.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

ECON. DEV. - ORENDA RECIP: CLOSURE - NOTIFICATION

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will go back to the Minister of Economic Development. There are many surprising things about this Orenda Recip loan, and perhaps most surprising is the truly unique spectacle of a Tory Minister praising a company a month after it went under. I asked this minister, as he has mentioned in budget estimates on Thursday, I asked the minister what was going on with Orenda and its relationship with the province. He answered, things were tough but that they were soldiering on. I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, when did you find out that Orenda Recip was shutting its doors?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, it was on Friday of last week. (Interruptions)

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . in the loop.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, yes, well, the minister is obviously in the loop, big enough to put around his neck. This Minister of Economic Development publicly praised a business that was closed and had taken off with $9 million of our money. The former Minister of Economic Development, the Liberal member for Cape Breton South, said the plan had showed great promise. My question to the Minister of Economic Development is, what steps are you going to go to to recover the $9 million that you and the Liberal member to my left gave away?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, now that the company has filed its closing operations, we will look at the impact of that and I will report back to the House what we're going to do.

MR. MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, I will look forward to that. Taxpayers shudder when they hear about deals that are cooked up by Liberals and managed by Tories. The federal and provincial contributions to this project totalled $18 million. It's all gone and there's nothing to show for it. My question to the Minister of Economic Development is, will he order an investigation into what happened to our money?

[Page 1087]

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as members of his caucus would know, the aerospace industry is one that is subject to volatility. Everyone knows the conditions that were in the marketplace. But I also know there are members of that caucus who are advocating to ensure that there is a strong base and infrastructure here for aerospace-based activities through Shearwater. Well, if you're going to invest in infrastructure, if you're going to invest in the industry, then there were risks that were taken, they were taken by a past government. We honoured an obligation, and we will report the specifics of that as soon as we have them.

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

NAT. RES. - COASTAL PROPS.: NOVA SCOTIANS - RETENTION

MR. WILLIAM ESTABROOKS: Mr. Speaker, my question through you is to the Minister of Natural Resources. While this government continues to study the issue of non-resident land ownership, priceless coastal properties are going up for sale on eBay. Along with authentic Nova Scotia goods like a duck decoy, your very own Nova Scotia licence plate, you can buy a "peaceful Nova Scotia shorefront property" for $700,000 American on eBay. That's just one of the 18 listings of Nova Scotia real estate listings on eBay. I'd like to table that for the minister's attention. Mr. Minister, sky-high prices are pushing assessments up and driving Nova Scotians off their land. Why has your government done nothing to make sure that Nova Scotians are able to hang onto Nova Scotia's coastal properties?

HON. TIMOTHY OLIVE: I appreciate the question from the honourable member. He certainly has a keen interest in this issue. as do all Nova Scotians. In our review of the management of our Crown coastal islands and our shore properties, the department, quite a while ago, developed a committee to study this issue, to address the concerns related to the protection of the coastal values and the increased demand on this limited resource. Mr. Speaker, I can report to you and the rest of the House that is ongoing and will take approximately two years before it's complete for public distribution.

MR. ESTABROOKS: The Internet is full of people trying to make a buck off Nova Scotia property. Nova Scotian islands are being marketed on the Internet through Vladi Private Islands. This international company calls its site, The World of Private Islands. The company flashes photographs of treasured locations across this province and I'm going to table some of them for you now because I know I can't use it as a prop, but I would like to point out to you that there are for sale signs on Whynots Islands - 7 acres, four coastal islands at the mouth of the beautiful Medway River. There are for sale signs on Rocky Islands, the Little and Big Rocky Islands - 27.3 acres off of Point Dufferin. Mr. Minister, we've already lost over a million acres of coastal properties, when are you going to step in and really show some leadership and address the issue?

[Page 1088]

MR. OLIVE: As I indicated yesterday to the honourable member, we are very much involved in an ongoing process with various organizations such as the Nature Conservancy, the Nova Scotia Nature Trust and others to identify lands, particularly coastal lands in Nova Scotia. that have a keen interest and will continue to have a keen interest through all Nova Scotia for wildlife habitat and other areas. It is our intention to keep up the process of identifying those pieces of property and where we do have access and where we are able, to purchase those lands, to buy them for Nova Scotians.

MR. ESTABROOKS: Every Nova Scotian dreams of a place on the water. Meanwhile this minister said yesterday to members of the media, there's no problem. He also referred to a 30-year-old land disclosure Act that is as toothless as I am at an old-timer's hockey game. A 30-year-old land disclosure Act. Nova Scotia's up for sale, Mr. Minister. The price tag's on eBay and Vladi's World of Islands are out of reach for most Nova Scotians. What are you prepared to do, you, as the minister, for your children, for my children, for Nova Scotia's children so that they can have coastal access in their future?

MR. OLIVE: I am so, so pleased the member has asked that question because the member has a very, very short memory. Over the last few years there's been ongoing negotiations for one of the most pristine pieces of property in this province . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: On the globe.

MR. OLIVE: On the globe, my honourable associate says. We just paid $5 million for Cape Split, a piece of property that was going on eBay for $30 million and this province picked it up for $5 million. We are doing our job, we are taking advantage of getting coastal properties when they're available and I'm proud of the efforts that we are having with the Nature Conservancy of Canada and others to secure coastal properties for Nova Scotians. (Applause)

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

COMMUN. SERV. - RRSS STRIKE: FAMILIES - CONTACT DETAILS

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: My question is for the Premier. As the Premier is aware, today is day seven of the regional residential service strike, and we have yet to see any concern expressed by either the minister responsible or this government. Residents have been placed either in different surroundings or under the care of different individuals, and government does not seem to be concerned. Mr. Speaker, these arrangements not only impact the residents directly, they also add to the stress of the family members. My question to the Premier is, could the Premier please confirm whether he or the Minister of Community Services has made personal contact with the residents he has sent home and their families in the past seven days?

[Page 1089]

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the minister covering for the minister who is absent.

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, in response to the honourable member's question, he asked if the minister had made contact with the families. Last week the Minister of Community Services indicated he had visited Simpson Hall, he had met with the families and had talked to them. I hope that honourable member, as concerned as he is about this, is encouraging families to contact the care co-ordinators that the department has set up to help them.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, this government has an obligation. They cannot just bury their heads in the sand and pretend that they don't have a responsibility. The Minister of Community Services had options available to avoid this situation, but refused to accept any of them. This leaves the minister and this government vulnerable. Those family members who are experiencing the most stress at this time are the families, some of whom may be elderly themselves, who have been asked to take care of their loved ones. My question to the Premier is, could the Premier please describe what type of assistance he's providing for those families who have been asked to take care of their loved ones?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the minister responsible.

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the Minister of Community Services has been concerned about this, however, as I indicated to the House, this is a collective bargaining situation. What the department has done, what they're doing is providing care co-ordinators to work with those people. They visit them every day to check and see how things are going, and they're concerned and they're trying to help them as best they can under this difficult situation.

MR. GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I want to read a quote from a family member in today's Chronicle-Herald. It reads, "It's time for Premier John Hamm to step in. He is the only one who can get these two parties together and get all these helpless, vulnerable people back into their homes. I am so ashamed of this government." My question to the Premier is, will this Premier make a personal commitment to the families today that he will speak with the Minister of Community Services with the sole purpose of establishing a new mandate for the employer, so that both parties can get back to the bargaining table?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I can assure the member opposite that I do have regular conversations with the minister on this issue. We are very concerned that the residents continue to be looked after until such time as the workers return to doing what they do so well. The minister is very good at keeping me and all his Cabinet colleagues involved. The minister is on top of the file.

[Page 1090]

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

FIN. - CASINO INFO.: RESEARCHER - NAME

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Finance. The minister earlier told this House that there are no casinos that have smoking bans. I'm going to table, for the minister, a list of smoke-free casinos that include a number in Canada, in Quebec, in Ontario, and a number in the United States, including Nevada, including Atlantic City. My only question for this minister is, you're mistaken about this, just like the contract, who does your research?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, when I said there were no non-smoking casinos, I said after that, as far as I know. (Interruptions) In that regard, the person who does my research is much more qualified, because obviously the legal opinion that he has come up with on how the casino would handle this event I think is much more learned than himself.

[3:30 p.m.]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, as far as he knows, well, you know what I would like to do, is I would like to table a bylaw respecting smoking in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality that includes a ban on smoking in the casino in Sydney. This was passed sometime ago. The casino is now going through the phase-in period that's going to eliminate it and, ironically, that casino has the same operator. It doesn't stop them apparently from operating a first-class establishment in Sydney so my question to this minister is, why do you think that's the case in Halifax?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the CBRM's smoking bylaw, it does take effect on July 1st. We are aware of that. The fact of the matter is in regard to the Sydney smoking bylaw and also the one in HRM, both of those smoking bylaws could be causes for potential termination notices. I go back to the point that if that does occur, the consequences to the province could be severe - over $100 million is nothing to dismiss. Our government is going to look at this very seriously and respond appropriately.

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, I'm going to ask this minister one more time to commit his government to withdraw its plan to give the Halifax Casino an unfair advantage over other businesses in this city, but also to withdraw the plan at this time that is going to expose the health and the lives of the workers at that casino to harm?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, in regard to the casino, I do know that there are over 1,000 people who work at both establishments. The fact is if the operator would put forward a termination notice, it's clearly not this government's intention to operate casinos. I stated before we've tried it in steelmaking and gas and we haven't done a very good job. In regard

[Page 1091]

to the provincial laws that we put forth, the former Minister of Health stated very eloquently that the provisions that we put forward were to protect children. The provincial laws that were put in place across this province were to ensure that young people would not be exposed to second-hand smoke. We still stand by that principle. With regard to the casino, we're going to review the file, the fact of the matter that it is a considerable amount of money, and we will make the appropriate decision based on the research.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Richmond.

FIN. - TEACHER'S PENSION FUND/PUBLIC SECTOR

PENSION PLAN: STATUS - TABLE

MR. MICHEL SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, earlier this year, I, on behalf of our caucus, requested from the Minister of Finance that he indicate to Nova Scotians what the status of the Teachers' Pension Fund and the public sector pension plan were. We're well aware that other provinces and other pension plans have suffered huge losses in the last year due to a downturn in the market. Nova Scotians certainly will not be immune to these types of losses.

Mr. Speaker, in his budget the minister has indicated that there will be an additional $81 million in charges to the province due to the losses in these plans. Yet he has still not tabled with this House the exact nature of the status of those plans. Therefore, I ask the minister today, why will you not table in this House today what the status of those two plans are for all Nova Scotians to see?

HON. NEIL LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Richmond is correct when he says that the pension plans have lost value. I do know that the Liberal trust fund, the Hawco account, has lost considerable amounts of money. I think it was $400,000. It was a matter of a lot of debate by many members of this House as to whether or not that's appropriate at all. (Interruptions)

Mr. Speaker, with regard to the two pension plans for which I am responsible, I have told the member on numerous occasions that once the actuarial calculations are done and the valuations are finalized, I will table it in this House with the Clerk so that all members could see the information. I indicated that it would be later on this Spring and I still stand by those comments.

MR. SAMSON: Mr. Speaker, Nova Scotians know the fiscal year ended December 31st. At first the minister said early April. Then it went on to be later April. Now he says later in the Spring. I assure you that we will not see those numbers before this budget is voted upon because the minister knows full well that if he does reveal the nature of those losses, his budget will come into serious question. Nova Scotians are aware of the impact that last year's markets have had on their own portfolios and they know that other pension plans throughout Canada have suffered massive losses. This is causing anxiety and it is important

[Page 1092]

that Nova Scotians know the exact true state of the finances including those plans. The year ended December 31st, Mr. Minister, you have had nearly four months. I ask you again, will you table today the exact status of those two pension plans for all Nova Scotians to see?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to the two pension plans I want to assure, not only the members of the House but many of the people who are depending on receiving benefits from those plans, whether it is teachers or civil servants or others who are members of those plans that the plans are stable. The fact is that they have lost value. I've stated that before and when I have the final numbers I will point them out.

Mr. Speaker, with regard to this line of questioning, I'm rather surprised, I thought the Liberal Party would be asking me questions about casinos, but today, obviously, they decided to ask other types of questions.

MR. SAMSON: What we are doing is asking questions on behalf of Nova Scotians. We are asking questions that Nova Scotians want to know. We're asking questions about the hundreds and thousands of civil servants and teachers who are relying upon these pension plans, who worked very hard for this province and are now wanting to make sure that those pension plans are safe. For the minister to give those kind of sarcastic answers in light of those serious concerns, shame on him.

Mr. Speaker, the fact is that the contributors to those plans are an average age of between 44 and 45 years old. They want to make sure that these plans are safe and the fact that the minister continues to refuse to give those numbers is certainly not providing them with any level of comfort.

Mr. Speaker, the minister has said in his budget that it will cost an additional $81 million. If he knows that cost, I would ask the minister again, why won't you simply - it has been four months now - table those numbers so Nova Scotians' minds can be put at ease and they know the true state of those plans?

MR. LEBLANC: Mr. Speaker, with regard to those pension plans, as Minister of Finance I am the trustee of both of those accounts. The fact of the matter is that we have an investment committee, which is representative of a broad range of our civil servants and many former union representatives: Greg Blanchard, Dave Peters serve on that and many other groups. But the fact of the matter is that they are well-managed and the fact is that both pension plans are safe.

I've told the member on numerous occasions that once I have the reports, once they are finalized I will table them. I should also point out, Mr. Speaker, that they have to do actuarial estimates of what the costs of those pension plans are and once they are finished I will table the information. I've done that in previous years and I'll do it this year also.

[Page 1093]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

TREASURY & POLICY BD. - RRSS:

EXECUTIVE COUN. - REPORTING

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. In 2001, your government passed a Government Restructuring Act, allowing the Executive Council, through the Treasury and Policy Board, more control over many agencies receiving government funding, agencies such as the Regional Residential Support Services, which operate several group homes in HRM. I ask the Premier, is the Treasury and Policy Board fulfilling its legislative mandate by reporting to the Executive Council on the activities like RRSS?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Chairman of Treasury and Policy Board.

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is correct, there is an ability on the Treasury and Policy Board to mandate such reporting. I'm not aware of any difficulties in that regard. If the honourable member has a question, he should perhaps ask it.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, to the Premier again. Mr. Premier, the fact is that in 2001 this government wanted control over the funded agencies and Bill No. 20 gave it to you. The agencies must answer to the Treasury and Policy Board on their operations. That board answers, in turn, to the Executive Council. This government controls the purse strings of RRSS and it's government limits on their funding that is stalling negotiations. I ask the Premier, will he direct the minister to take action to resolve this labour dispute before the residents and their families are forced to endure one more day of strike?

THE PREMIER: Mr. Speaker, I refer that to the Chairman of Treasury and Policy Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member knows that we have a collective bargaining process in this province. There is a process for resolving disputes between the parties involved. The honourable members opposite are the most vocal advocates for this process in the province, perhaps. We need to let that process work its way out.

MR. PYE: Mr. Speaker, I would remind that government to stop hiding, stop being the ghost in these negotiations. That's what I would remind this government. This government wanted more control over agencies, and they got it. With the control comes responsibilities and, so far, this government hasn't lived up to its responsibilities to those vulnerable residents and their families and the workers in these facilities. I ask the Premier,

[Page 1094]

how can your government continue to deny it has a role to play in resolving this labour dispute involving a government-funded agency, government-controlled agency as well?

THE PREMIER: I refer that to the Chairman of Treasury and Policy Board.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, there's a great deal of irony. I remember members opposite complaining at the time when the bill in question was passed about the ability of government to be involved. You can't have it both ways. We're going to let the collective bargaining process work. We're satisfied that the process is working. The Treasury and Policy Board is doing its job to monitor the situation.

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

ENVIRON. & LBR. - DORSEY REPORT:

RECOMMENDATIONS - IMPLEMENTATION

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, a question to the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour. I have before me here the 390-page so-called Dorsey report on workers' compensation, and it has been tabled in the House here before, therefore, I trust I don't have to table it again. (Interruption) That's the library's copy there, and it belongs to the House. This report is divided into many chapters. I would like to refer today to Chapter 8, headed Adjudication, Medical Opinions and Appeals, which runs from Page 177 to Page 216. Now, that's a fair amount of territory to cover. I wonder if the minister could advise the House as to what measures he and his government are taking to implement the recommendations contained in Chapter 8 of the Dorsey report?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, not having my library here with a volume of the Dorsey report, I cannot answer that question just off the top of my head, but I will take it under advisement and have an answer back to the honourable member for the next Question Period.

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, the usual retort of the minister to a question like that is that they will introduce legislation in the Fall, after they get re-elected. I would like to refer now to Chapter 9, called Accountability Frameworks, another chapter that runs some length of time, from Page 217 on to - oh, it runs on a fair length - Page 250, from Page 217 to Page 250. In other words, it's over 30 pages. I wonder if the minister could advise the House as to what he and his government are doing to implement the terms, the recommendations of Chapter 9 of the Dorsey report?

MR. RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, as a matter of fact, I am aware of Chapter 9. The reason I'm aware of it is because at the present time the board is coming forward with various changes in the management system at the Workers' Compensation Board to accommodate the accountability as requested within the Dorsey report.

[Page 1095]

MR. MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, as a final supplementary, I might ask, and when will these good things happen? But I know the answer is, in the Fall after the election. I noticed in today's Chronicle-Herald, an editorial cartoon of which I'm going to table a copy, called

Separation at Last. It shows Mr. Bernard Landry with his head in a basket . . .

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. Order, please. The honourable member for Cape Breton Nova knows you're not to use props. I would ask him to put the question only, please.

MR. MACEWAN: My question to the Minister of Environment and Labour with respect to his future prognostication is, will he consult with Mr. Landry and see how separation can be achieved at last?

MR. RUSSELL: I will certainly take that under advisement, Mr. Speaker. Unfortunately, my duties in the House preclude my venturing up to Quebec City in the very immediate future.

[3:45 p.m.]

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

ECON. DEV. - GLACE BAY REVITALIZATION:

PARTNERS - DETAILS

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Economic Development. Yesterday the Cape Breton Regional Municipality issued a tender call respecting Glace Bay's downtown revitalization project. The tender covers the first of a multi-phase initiative to give renewed life to the heart of the Town of Glace Bay. I am advised that this phase is a $4.3 million project funded by the CBRM, the federal government through Enterprise Cape Breton, and some private sector funders. So I want to ask the Minister of Economic Development, why isn't the province on board?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, as the member knows, there have been extensive consultations for community economic development throughout all of urban Cape Breton. We have taken and advised that projects for Glace Bay, New Waterford, Sydney, North Sydney, are all under review, but specifically the Government of Canada came forward and decided to make announcements without consulting with us or asking for our input. So any further things, we still haven't had a specific request with regard to the Province of Nova Scotia that we can respond to as a result of that and we have been in dialogue with the Government of Canada to look at what options we can pursue for the entire urban area.

MR. CORBETT: People in Cape Breton have a good cause to doubt the commitment of this government in the well-being of their communities, Mr. Speaker. About a year ago the federal government, as the minister stated, announced a $6.5 million Glace Bay

[Page 1096]

revitalization project which would include $2 million from the province. For some reason the project has never happened and the reason I would suggest, by yesterday's tender, is that the province has walked away from the deal. So I'm asking you once again, why have you walked away from the deal, Mr. Minister?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, if my federal colleagues want to pick up the phone and give me a call and talk about partnering in that, I suggest they do so because I think they will get it returned.

MR. CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, this government talks very much and very loud about getting contributions from a variety of partners to make projects such this one work. The province must be a central player here in the revitalization of economically depressed areas of this province. This minister, being born and raised in Sydney Mines, knows the devastation that has happened to the communities of the former coal mining sites. So I ask you again, Mr. Minister, why won't you invest money in Glace Bay and help revitalize that downtown to make it prosper like the rest of this province should?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, our commitment to the area in participating in all these processes has been consistent. It has been solid. As I've said, we're reviewing them. If people want to go off and make any number of announcements and commitments, often contingent on unknown expectations by other levels of government or communities, that's their prerogative. But we said we're going to plan in a process with my honourable colleagues from Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, as well as Tourism and Culture, to look at it. I also remind that member that there are any number of communities throughout this entire province that are looking to revitalize their downtown cores as well. But in Cape Breton we've said very clearly we would give it a full review. We're giving it a review because we're going to make sure when it's done, it's done right by the Province of Nova Scotia.

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

ECON. DEV. - MIN.: AUTHORITY - DETAILS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Premier. Recent events in rail line transportation service in industrial Cape Breton resulted in the Minister of Economic Development accepting congratulations on behalf of himself and the staff at Economic Development with the success that they've indicated in regard to this file. I do want to recognize the efforts of community leaders as well as the minister in finding a solution for what many in Cape Breton believe could have created an economic nightmare for that particular community. The rookie minister obviously had authority to go on with the title of minister with regard to that particular file. My question to the Premier is, do all his ministers enjoy authority along with the title of minster in your government?

[Page 1097]

THE PREMIER: Could you repeat the question, just the question. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Cape Breton The Lakes, question only, please.

MR. BOUDREAU: Yes, Mr. Speaker. My question is to the Premier. Does the Premier provide all his ministers with the same authority along with the title of minister as the Minister of Economic Development enjoyed dealing with the rail line file in Cape Breton?

THE PREMIER: I welcome the question because it gives me an opportunity to publicly join with the member for Cape Breton The Lakes in congratulating the Minister of Economic Development in the superb job that he did in salvaging the rail line in Cape Breton. (Applause) In direct response to the member's question - it appeared that what he asked is do all members of this government have authority to carry out their responsibilities - the answer is yes.

MR. BOUDREAU: My next question is to the minister responsible for insurance matters within the Province of Nova Scotia. This is a seasoned minister, he has the most experience than any other member of that particular government. In fact, I believe he has more experience as a minister than any other member that is currently elected in Atlantic Canada. This minister, along with the member for Cape Breton Nova are actually legends in Nova Scotia politics. People in Cape Breton The Lakes who live on fixed incomes with disabilities, seniors, in fact, I believe it affects all Nova Scotians - the insurance issues. Public transportation is not available in rural areas. People are losing their choices to own automobiles - they have no choice but to park or sell. My question is simple, will the minister provide details in the process he has chosen to deal with high rising insurance rates?

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: That is a very good question. It's one that deserves a complete and proper answer, therefore I will provide the honourable member with a written response to his question.

MR. BOUDREAU: I thank the minister for the reply. This issue not only affects motorists. Homeowners, young and old, rich and poor are feeling the effects of high insurance rates and other issues that are arising within this industry. Consumers must be protected from what many people believe are unreasonable conditions in the insurance industry. I have a letter which I am prepared to share with the minister from a senior who resides in Cape Breton North actually. This letter from her insurance company cancelled her home insurance because of cast-iron piping which is part of her home heating system. Imagine all those older farm homes in rural Nova Scotia. We need a strong effort from this minister and my question is, will the minister take immediate action to protect Nova Scotia consumers from this type of situation within this industry?

[Page 1098]

MR. RUSSELL: I agree that consumers are entitled to protection. That's the reason we have appointed Mr. George Jordan as consumer advocate, the first consumer advocate in the Province of Nova Scotia. I'm sure that Mr. Jordan will do a splendid job on behalf of all Nova Scotians and I look forward to his report in the very near future as to what action and what reaction we should have towards the policies of the insurance companies which, without doubt, are at the present time imposing great difficulty on the average Nova Scotian motorist.

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

ECON. DEV.: C.B. RAILROAD - LONG-TERM PLAN

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Economic Development. Last week, during estimates, the minister indicated that $0.5 million was being taken from the Sysco account, Sydney Steel Corporation that is, to go towards maintaining the Cape Breton railroad line. My question to the minister is, what reasonable explanation or expectation do we have that the short-term plan of two years that he outlined will in fact be a long-term plan, after that $1 million is consumed, between himself and the federal government?

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, first, one of the indications to answer that is the fact that the Cape Breton & Central Nova Scotia Railway has filed, and the URB has discharged, their claim for abandonment and discontinuation of service, number one. As a result of their moving forward on a business case, over the next two years, coal is moving now throughout Cape Breton, to the power plants, and the other component to that is, and it speaks to the detail, as I mentioned in estimates, we would detail the capital infrastructure items and report back on that, but we have detailed over two years. It's being coordinated through Sydney Steel, because they have a project management mechanism.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, when the government was elected, it indicated that it had a four-year plan for economic development in Nova Scotia. That was through the KPMG report and Nova Scotia Business Inc. Obviously, I would suspect that the minister has more than a two-year plan for the Cape Breton railroad. Would the minister be kind enough to table in this House, for all members in the House and indeed all various stakeholders, what the long-term plan is beyond this two-year period? Will he table the plan that his government has?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, again I thank the member for the question, I think it's relevant to the issue. We have worked on all the other scenarios. Over the next two years, obviously that has been based on Nova Scotia Power recognizing the economies that could be achieved as well as the other business components we're exploring with a number of entities that form part of that plan. I will be pleased to bring forward details to the Legislature and to the member.

[Page 1099]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, why this is so important is because there's a growing concern about this government's commitment to economic development in Cape Breton. Last week it was revealed that only 0.03 per cent, not 1 per cent, not 2 per cent, not 3 per cent, but 0.03 per cent of all dollars that were loaned by Nova Scotia Business Inc. went to businesses in Cape Breton, 0.03 per cent. So it doesn't seem to me like there's a significant commitment. I would think you would need that over and above Nova Scotia Power or any other of the existing stakeholders to make this a long-term reality. Will the minister outline what his long-term strategy is to keep this railroad open by addressing the inequity of Nova Scotia Business Inc.?

MR. CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, what the honourable member is referring to is one component of investments this year, but when we had the opportunity in Estimates to discuss that, we talked about the full context of the number of clients throughout Cape Breton. What we have been committed to is growing opportunities. As the member will see, the plan is in action, with more announcements to come by working with industry and communities that are advancing economic development. I will be pleased to do that as we move forward in the coming weeks, to detail fully what the member has asked for.

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

EDUC. - TUITION AGREEMENTS: PURVIEW - DETAILS

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Education. It's been said that the quality of any society is measured by its ability to look after those people in need. Unfortunately, this government has failed seniors in long-term care facilities, the people in the gallery and the person I'm going to talk about, a student with whom I have been corresponding, with the minister. The child's parent has been trying to secure a productive learning environment for a learning disabled child. He has made no progress in the local school and, in fact, he developed behavioural problems. The single parent cashed in her RRSPs and enrolled the child in St. Thomas Aquinas School, and his improvement since that time has been marked.

She cannot afford this, and her request for the school to enter into a tuition agreement has been denied. I want to ask the minister, will the minister advise why he has washed his hands of my request that he get involved in this matter?

[4:00 p.m.]

HON. ANGUS MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the honourable member for the question. The honourable member would appreciate that the authority with respect to tuition agreements is a matter that lies with the school boards and we, by authority of the Act, provide funding to the school boards and it is their decision with respect to the appropriation of that money.

[Page 1100]

MR. DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, indeed the minister repeats the answer that he gave me in writing some time ago. Unfortunately, I don't believe that the Education Act gives such unfettered discretion to school boards. The fact is, Section 68(2) says that the minister can act to protect the educational welfare of a student in a school. This should apply to the issue of tuition agreements as well. I want to aks the minister why he has decided not to exercise his discretion in favour of protecting this child's educational welfare?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, as I indicated, the view of the authority which I have under the Act is that the advice that I'm given is obviously different than the advice the honourable member is giving to the House today. We know that his legal opinions have not been consistent with ours so far in this Question Period. That is not to say that we don't take this issue very seriously. It's an issue that we're continuing to address and we are working with the groups that are involved in this and it's a matter, obviously, that as we develop our capacity to recognize deficiencies, we need to develop the capacity to respond and we are working in that direction.

MR. DEXTER: Unfortunately, Mr. Speaker, this young boy won't be able to wait until the department develops its capacity to respond. Each year, this young boy will age, he will pass through the system, either successfully or unsuccessfully. The reality is that he made remarkable progress at St. Thomas Aquinas School, progress that they believe will be jeopardized if his mother is forced to put him back into the local school. This family needs a tuition agreement to provide what is needed for their son. So, I'm going to ask one more time, will the minister please look at this matter again and exercise his responsibility and exercise his authority to determine if the school board is acting in the best interests of this child?

MR. MACISAAC: Mr. Speaker, we work very hard to ensure that the school boards and the department are doing what they need to do to look after the interests of those who are in their charge with respect to education. Always, there are challenges with respect to meeting those responsibilities and we will continue to work toward meeting those challenges. I can appreciate that it is an ongoing responsibility and it's one which we will continue to work at.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth East.

HEALTH - SOLDIERS MEM. HOSP.:

GEN. SURGEON - REPLACEMENT

DR. JAMES SMITH: Mr. Speaker, my question is for the Minister of Health. About two weeks ago a general surgeon left Soldiers Memorial Hospital to fill a position at the Valley Regional Hospital. While the residents of Middleton are happy that the minister didn't drive the surgeon out of the province, they still are concerned about the fate of their hospital in Middleton. My question to the minister is, can the minister please indicate whether her

[Page 1101]

department is making it their priority to replace the general surgeon at Soldiers Memorial Hospital?

HON. JANE PURVES: Mr. Speaker, it's a priority of the department to recruit medical personnel to all areas of the province that need it. Certainly the issue in Middleton is one of the priorities of our department.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, I thank the minister for her commitment on that, but I do note to the minster that her department Web site is not showing a vacancy for a general surgeon at Soldiers Memorial Hospital. If you want to know why residents are concerned about the fate of their hospital, this could be one of the reasons perhaps.

The people of Middleton, Mr. Speaker, truly feel that recruiting a general surgeon for Soldiers Memorial Hospital is not a priority of this government. So will the minister commit here today that she will go back to her department and demand, or at least nicely ask, that recruitment efforts concentrate on finding a full-time general surgeon for Soldiers Memorial Hospital?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, certainly our MLA for the area has made the concerns very clear from his point of view. That being said, there are plans for Soldiers Memorial and how it fits into the DHA in the Valley that we are working on with the DHA. There are a number of issues in the Valley, and one of the reasons for our announcement there the other day was to develop a better plan for facilities in the Valley and for the personnel needed in all areas of that DHA.

DR. SMITH: Mr. Speaker, whether it's the backlogs for surgery that have been created inside of this hospital, or the lack of support in finding replacement for the surgeon, one thing the residents of Middleton and that surrounding area believe is that the minister just doesn't care about them. They're really concerned about that hospital being downsized eventually to a health care centre. So half of the hospital beds in that hospital are occupied by those who are waiting for long-term care beds. So one would wonder and I would question what the future holds for that hospital as well. My question to the minister is, will the minister promise today, in light of all of these issues I brought before the House, that she will commit to the district health authority on a regular basis the status in finding a full-time general surgeon who will base his or her full-time practice at the Soldiers Memorial Hospital, will she commit to that here today?

MISS PURVES: Mr. Speaker, I believe I had already done that, but I would like to add that there is orthopedic surgery taking place, day surgery, at Soldiers Memorial Hospital now and the DHA does have a plan to increase day surgery beginning with gynecology and neurology. The DHA knows very well that that is one of the ways in which to make very good use of Soldiers Memorial, is with the increased number of day surgeries that are now

[Page 1102]

being done both there and everywhere else in the province. That is one of the ways to avoid people having to come to Halifax for specialist surgery.

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

TRANSPORT. & PUB. WKS. - CANTERBURY TRUSS BRIDGE: REPLACEMENT - DETAILS

MR. BRIAN BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, my question is to the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Recently, along with Randy Carter, a candidate in the next election, I attended a meeting in Chezzetcook, located in the Eastern Shore. This was a public meeting regarding the replacement of a vital transportation link, the Canterbury Truss Bridge, which has been closed since early October 2002. I will table two press releases the former minister put out in regard to this. Two government MLAs were in attendance at this meeting and the local member did attempt to provide details of what he knew about the project. Local residents have indicated to me through phone calls and e-mails that medical emergencies have already been affected by this road closure. My question to the minister is, could the minister please provide details as to the replacement of the Canterbury Truss Bridge?

HON. MICHAEL BAKER: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member asks a very, very good question. This is a very, very important issue. and one that has been vitally important to the people of the area it concerned. The honourable member for the Eastern Shore and the honourable member for Preston have been first and foremost in making sure that this issue was brought forward for effective handling. So I'm pleased to tell the honourable member that, in point of fact, a tender has been called for the complete replacement of the Canterbury Truss Bridge in question, which is closing with a completion date hoped for of May 30, 2003.

MR. BOUDREAU: Mr. Speaker, this is not uncommon news from the Minister of Transportation and Public Works. Not this particular minister, but the previous minister made at least two prior commitments for this project. What I want to ask the minister, on behalf of the people is - and I do accept his word - please indicate for the people in that area, that he makes the commitment that that file will have his attention until that infrastructure is replaced.

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, for the benefit of the honourable member, the tender number is 60114379. It has had the full attention of this minister and the previous minister, I might add. The difficulty has been in dealing with the federal Liberal Government and in particular the navigable waters protection area. It was difficulties with them that was holding the project up.

MR. BOUDREAU: I want to thank the minister for his reply.

[Page 1103]

Mr. Speaker, roads are a mess in rural Cape Breton, particularly in Cape Breton The Lakes. The streets are crumbling, local DOT people are doing the best that can possibly be done with the resources at hand. This minister does have options; he has signed a new agreement now with the federal government. There are issues in Cape Breton, such as the access roads to and from the Cabot Trail, which could be classified as 100-Series Highways. This would allow the minister to free up more money for rural areas like Cape Breton The Lakes. Will the minister consider my suggestion?

MR. BAKER: Mr. Speaker, I would agree with the honourable member that the federal government's contribution towards 100-Series Highways in this province has been inadequate, and that obviously any contribution from the federal government - the greater the contribution, the better off we are. I can also tell the honourable member that with respect to Cape Breton The Lakes I am aware of the importance of the roads in that riding, and our department and the government will be looking at those road priorities as important issues in the future.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Halifax Chebucto.

MR. HOWARD EPSTEIN: Mr. Speaker, today the Electricity Marketplace Governance Committee released its second interim report - this is the government's committee that's promoting deregulation and competition. It proposes that a large swath of our market be opened up to competition, but what I want to know is what the minister is going to do to protect the rest of us who are captives of Nova Scotia Power, as their customers.

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

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, I rise on a point of order. During Question Period, I asked a question to the Premier which was subsequently lateralled off to the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations, who is just exiting the Chamber. During that exchange in Question Period the minister told Nova Scotians and the members of this House that a deal had been done with the SOEP partners and the Government of Nova Scotia regarding negotiations for property taxes; he said the deal was done. Today I find out that the deal is not done, that the industry people tell me that there's no such deal and that the Minister of Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations should either tell Nova Scotians that the deal is not done, or if he feels it is done to table this deal in the House before the close of business tomorrow. I would ask the minister to do that.

[4:15 p.m.]

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

The honourable Minister for Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations.

[Page 1104]

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the member raised the question regarding the agreement on the assessment. He clearly said that the Counties of Guysborough and Antigonish didn't know, which meant he was referring to the Maritimes & Northeast Pipeline. My answer was regarding the Maritimes & Northeast Pipelines and those issues have been resolved. That was what I responded to him.

MR. MANNING MACDONALD: Mr. Speaker, that was not the question. I never mentioned Antigonish in my question during Question Period. I mentioned Guysborough and Richmond on an issue of property taxes and that minister stood in his place and said the deal with done and the people in the industry are saying no such a deal is done. If the deal is done, I would ask the minister to table the deal.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order, possibly you could review Hansard to see exactly what the question was and whether the answer . . .

MR. SPEAKER: We will. Obviously, it's not a point of order. It's a disagreement of facts between two members. If the honourable minister wants to clarify at a later date, he's welcome to.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: I'm not sure if you would classify it as a point of personal privilege, more of a point of order. Last week and again today, the Minister of Economic Development indicated that he would provide a list of the businesses that applied for loan applications through Nova Scotia Business Inc. At that time I was given assurance I would have that information within 48 hours and that's approaching close to a week now. I would ask if that information would be forthcoming within the next 24 hours.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Minister of Economic Development.

HON. CECIL CLARKE: Mr. Speaker, with regard to a 48 hour time line, that I'm not certain of, but I am certain that I did commit to do that and I will present that information.

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Queens on an introduction.

MR. KERRY MORASH: Mr. Speaker, I would like to bring your attention to Mr. Chris MacNeil and Mr. Gary Levy who are in the gallery opposite, just riveted to the debate that's taking place down here tody. I would ask them to stand and receive the warm welcome of the House. (Applause)

[Page 1105]

OPPOSITION MEMBERS' BUSINESS

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable Opposition House Leader.

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

MOTIONS OTHER THAN GOVERNMENT MOTIONS

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

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, I guess the members won't get out early because I had left four minutes at the end free so since we're starting just about four minutes late, maybe we can just adjust the times down. People will still have as much time to speak. So would you please call Resolution No. 289. As I say, the end and start time will just be four minutes later.

Res. No. 289, Insurance: Premiums Reduction - Solutions - notice given March 31/03 - (Mr. F. Corbett)

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

MR. KEVIN DEVEAUX: I'm glad to have a few minutes to speak on Resolution No. 289. This is the second time we're debating this resolution for the record. The first time we debated it two weeks ago and we decided to call it back because it is such an important resolution.

The resolution was moved shortly after New Brunswick announced its position on how they would address skyrocketing auto insurance rates in that province. It's important to reflect on the fact that New Brunswick currently, or at least until new legislation is passed, has a very similar position to Nova Scotia which is very laissez faire - nothing is done about auto insurance rates. Auto insurance companies are able to come in, raise rates basically at will, there's no regulatory approval process, there's no means by which the government can actually try to slow or stop or cap auto insurance rates. Of course, that means that the insurance companies are free to do as they will.

What's important with regard to auto insurance which makes it different than other forms of insurance or other consumer products is that it is essential. With the very minor exception of those who can afford to put $1 million bond in place in order to avoid auto insurance, the rest of us have to actually buy auto insurance in order to operate a vehicle in this province. That is a very serious situation, one in which it makes auto insurance and the companies that sell it to individuals in this province, makes it an essential service.

[Page 1106]

In some ways you can compare it to health care or education, it's a service that's provided but in this case it's provided by private sector. Yet, we have no control over the rates. I guess also is to compare it to Nova Scotia Power and electricity. An essential service that's provided, same with telephone service, but these services are actually regulated and there's some approval process before they can increase rates. As a result, there is some control, by government bodies, by independent bodies, to make sure there is no gouging going on. I think that's what's important with regard to auto insurance.

The New Brunswick solution, as noted in Resolution No.289, originally stated that they're not going to cap rates, they're not going to do anything to reduce rates, they're going to cap injury limits on the amount of damages you can get for injuries up to a certain amount. Basically, it's what they call a partial no-fault system. Basically it is for whiplash, soft tissue injury, low-level injuries that involve damages usually under $20,000 or $25,000, those types of injuries will be capped at a certain level and there will be a bureaucracy that will come into place - either through the insurance company or otherwise - that will result in those damages being applied. It is much like the workers' comp system is, to put it into perspective for some people, where instead of going to court in order to have a judge or jury make a decision, there will be some bureaucrat in an office, whether that bureaucrat be private sector or public sector, who will be making decisions as to when or what damages will be provided.

So it puts a cap in New Brunswick on the amount of damages someone can get for an injury, it puts them into a bureaucracy not unlike the workers' comp system, but does nothing to stop insurance companies from continuing to raise rates. I assume insurance companies are hoping this will - at least in the short term - quiet this groundswell of anger amongst consumers in Atlantic Canada against auto insurance hikes, in hopes that any debate that might go on about serious structural change that will ensure we can actually reduce auto insurance rates, goes away for a year, or two years, or five years, or 10 years, until some other problem happens and they have decided to jack rates up again.

This is the problem in Nova Scotia. Nova Scotia rates have gone up 65 per cent in the last year. That is a massive increase by any amount. Inflation hasn't been that high. I suspect there are those who will tell you that damages have not been that high, yet the rates have gone up to that extent. Some argue it's because there are things happening in the equity market and with regard to how investment of the money that we pay in premiums into the equity markets, the stock markets, has resulted in losses. I don't know if that is true, but the fact is these are all questions that are out there and they were never clearly resolved.

I want to go back a bit to January of last year. We were all getting calls, as members of the Legislature, I'm sure, from our constituents complaining about auto insurance rates. There were a lot of seniors, particularly, who had had perfect driving records, told that their rates were going to double, triple, or quadruple, and yet there was nothing they could do about it. It's interesting enough because there's an interesting little story that I think we should put on the record.

[Page 1107]

I got a call one day in my constituency office, in January 2002, and at that time I was told by a fellow, who was a constituent of mine, that he had called the Insurance Bureau of Canada and the Insurance Bureau of Canada said, you should call your MLA because there's something in the legislation that allows this to be reviewed. I thought to myself, I'm not sure about that, so I ended up - based on this call that the guy was referred from the IBC - looking into this a little further and found that under the Insurance Act there it was - the Utility and Review Board had the power to review insurance rates if they were required by the government or on their own initiative. At that point that is where our caucus said, this is what we must do, as a minimum we must go out - and I want to thank the Insurance Bureau of Canada for actually sending this constituent to us and letting me know and letting our caucus know that this is one option.

It's only the first option, we're still waiting to hear back from the URB as to what they think is the issue around insurance rates. We're hoping they will recognize what everyone else has recognized in this province, both anecdotally and to some extent, through research, that insurance rates are going through the roof, that there is no basis for those increases and that there's a need for them to be rolled back.

That's only the beginning because what has happened since then is much bigger. There's been clearly a lot more debate about exactly how we can not only cap insurance rates, but begin to reduce insurance rates. New Brunswick had their chance, they went with an all-Party committee, which I believe the Liberal caucus suggested as their solution. In the end, that all-Party committee never made recommendations to reduce rates in New Brunswick. All they said was, we are going to not even cap rates, we are going to cap damages through injuries. The problem is, and you see it now, but many more people are beginning to call and continue to call with regard to their insurance rates.

I had a couple in my office the other day. They live on the Eastern Shore, they came to talk to me and they said, we had a minor accident, not even very large damages. They said that they didn't understand why they had to go to Facility Association because of it. In the end, they were treated quite badly by their insurance company. They were actually thrown out of the insurance. Their concern was their rates were astronomically high, and now under Facility it's even much higher, and now they've just gotten approval under Facility Association to increase rates even more, that's my understanding.

Based on all this, clearly, this is a young couple who has a pretty good driving record, a couple of minor accidents, and because of that their rates go through the roof to the point where they might not even be able to afford their vehicle. This is a young family living in Lawrencetown. Obviously, they need a vehicle, there's no public transportation down that way. These are the problems faced, be they seniors or young couples, these are people who need their vehicles. They live in rural parts of Nova Scotia, they require vehicles. It's not something they can do without. Given the lack of public transportation in these areas, it's a necessity.

[Page 1108]

Insurance is a necessity, a car is a necessity, therefore this is an essential service, and yet this government has done nothing, Mr. Speaker. It has done nothing, it has no plan with regard to how it's going to not only cap insurance rates but reduce them. I think that's what our Party wants to make clear about this debate. This isn't just about capping skyrocketing insurance rates, we can actually reduce them. Nova Scotians may not know that. But over the coming months, we are going to continue to have this debate. We are going to continue to talk to Nova Scotians about how rates can be reduced, how we can begin to identify how Nova Scotia can have an insurance system that works for Nova Scotian drivers.

The Party across the way, the government, doesn't want to talk about that. They've created a pretty brochure on-line that you can download. By the way, I might say for the record, I don't think you can actually fill out the form on-line. I went on-line and I couldn't do it. You actually have to download it, I think, fill it in and send it in. It would have been nice anyway if they could have had some way of filing it on-line, it would have been easier to try to encourage responses. Anyway, that's beside the point.

Mr. Speaker, it's a questionnaire that identifies certain components of what this government may want to talk about, but again there's no plan, there's no clear way in which this government intends to actually not only cap but reduce insurance rates. It can be done. I think our Party looks forward to debating the issue, because it's one of those issues that for Nova Scotians it hits them in the pocketbook. One thing we've learned in our time in this Legislature is that Nova Scotian families are looking for a real break, a break on those essentials in life, whether it be electricity costs or home heating oil or auto insurance. They can get that break. They can get that opportunity to deal with these things.

New Brunswick had their chance, they didn't do it. Other provinces have moved to other systems, Ontario, Alberta, Newfoundland, I believe, all have a system in which the insurance companies don't have the right to automatically increase rates, but have to ask for permission from a tribunal or a government body. That can work to some extent. Some provinces have moved to driver-owned auto insurance, where the public owns the system. It's a good system, one in which there are no tax dollars involved, one in which the system has resulted in a reduction in auto insurance rates in those provinces.

Mr. Speaker, these are options, ones that we've been talking about through our task force to find out what Nova Scotians really want and why they can reduce insurance rates. I don't see that coming from the government side. What they've had is basically a patchwork or an opportunity to show they're doing something in hopes that people will think that they're actually doing something when in fact all they're doing is waiting until after the election in the hopes that they win and, therefore, they can ignore the issue.

Well, this issue isn't going away. It doesn't matter who wins the next election, Mr. Speaker. We're all going to have to deal with it. We're all going to have to face what exactly it's going to mean for Nova Scotians. That's what it's going to take for Nova Scotians to

[Page 1109]

understand, and I'm hoping through the election they will have a debate as to exactly what options there are for insurance. It isn't just about capping damages through a semi-no fault system or a no fault system, it is about ensuring that Nova Scotians get a break on what is an essential service, auto insurance. The rates can be reduced. The cost of living in this province, one of the biggest costs is auto insurance. Ensuring that that can go down, actually be reduced so Nova Scotians have an opportunity to put that money towards other things, other things that ensure that their lives can be better, their children's and their grandchildren's lives can be better.

Mr. Speaker, that won't happen until auto insurance is addressed and this province begins to talk about how we stop skyrocketing auto insurance rates. It can happen. Nova Scotians want it to happen. Other provinces have found ways to deal with it, either through a regulatory approval process or through driver-owned auto insurance, yet this province has one of the most limited, most laissez-faire systems of actually regulating auto insurance in this country, and as a result Nova Scotian drivers are worse for it and this government was trying to ignore this issue.

[4:30 p.m.]

They were forced from the beginning in 2002 to require the URB to review this. They didn't want to, it was only political pressure from our caucus and from average Nova Scotians who demanded that this government do something. That was a stop-gap measure. URB had their hearings. We haven't got a decision back, but clearly Nova Scotians are still angry about this. They want to see something done about auto insurance. The government tried again this year to have a consultation plan, to try to talk to Nova Scotians in hopes of producing a report someday, hopefully after the election. Well, none of that has happened. None of it will happen because this government has no real plan with regard to dealing with auto insurance rates. I'm looking forward to the debate in the next couple of months to ensure that Nova Scotians have a real option with regard to reducing auto insurance rates.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, I'm very pleased to rise on this particular topic today. I would like to say, in fact, that the Nova Scotia Standing Committee on Economic Development, had an opportunity to bring in a representative - Mr. Don Forgeron - to our committee. I know some committee members are in attendance here today and for the record I would like to say that this government understands that rising auto insurance rates have had an impact on Nova Scotians, whether it's students, seniors, working families and business people.

I find it hard to agree with the NDP when they like to boast that it was because of their pressure that this government referred the issue to the URB. Well, the fact of the matter is (Interruption) what the record will clearly show, Mr. Speaker, for the honourable member

[Page 1110]

for Dartmouth North, if he would take the time to listen the record will clearly show that long before the NDP became actively involved in this issue, members of the Standing Committee on Economic Development requested that the department, that that very (Interruption) Well, all you've got to do is go back and look at the history.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. FRANK CORBETT: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I would ask that member to look at who brought that to their attention - it wasn't this government, it was this member.

MR. SPEAKER: It is not a point of order. It's a disagreement of facts.

MR. TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, again, this government understands that rising auto insurance rates have had an impact on Nova Scotians, and I don't want to get into he said, she said, and somebody trying to take credit, but the NDP were on their feet first trying to take credit that they were the ones, when the record will clearly show, if the honourable member for Cape Breton Centre would go back and look - and he's a member of that committee - it was not the NDP caucus that requested me, as chairman, to ask Mr. Forgeron to come in, it was members of the PC caucus. So let the record show that this government was clearly aware of it and very concerned. Now, having said that, I do commend the NDP caucus for jumping on the bandwagon belatedly as it was, it was very nice that they saw that this was an issue and a concern.

I would like to speak to some of the initiatives, some of the positive initiatives that this government has taken to address the concern of rising auto insurance rates, Mr. Speaker. This government took a very, very important step and I commend the former minister responsible, the Honourable David Morse, for referring the issue to the Utility and Review Board. In February of 2002 the department asked the URB to examine private passenger automobile insurance rates to determine if those rates are excessive, inadequate, unfairly discriminatory, or otherwise unreasonable. The hearing concluded in November and the report is expected soon, very soon.

Mr. Speaker, that was an important step that this government took. Some other steps that this government has taken - and I should mention perhaps before I move on, as the member for Cole Harbour-Eastern Passage already suggested the Insurance Act provides the government with the ability, by way of a provision in the very Act. that you can make that request. Well, this government did that. This government did that and it was supported by, I believe. all members in the Nova Scotia Legislature - well, maybe not all members, but I know that all members in the PC caucus certainly supported it.

Now, on January 10, 2003, you might call it step two, this government released A Consumer's Guide To Buying Auto Insurance. We can't use props but I know, Mr. Speaker, you probably have a copy of A Consumer's Guide To Buying Auto Insurance. The brochure

[Page 1111]

was designed to help lessen the confusion and perhaps cut out some of the misconceptions, if you will, about buying auto insurance.

I think the idea was great and I commend the minister and those responsible for producing and developing the brochure. It explains things drivers should know before purchasing auto insurance, and explains in very detailed form some of the questions that individuals should ask their insurance representatives and insurance companies. There are a number of different things you have to take into account when you are buying auto insurance. In some cases people find the terms and information quite overwhelming and very confusing. I think that the brochure goes a long way to clarifying some issues that insurance buyers may have. Feedback about the document, A Consumer's Guide To Buying Auto Insurance, has been positive and more than some 2,500 copies have been accessed through our Web site alone.

Step three, if you will, Mr. Speaker. Step three refers to public consultation relative to auto insurance rates and A Road Ahead, again another document, it's a planned approach to auto insurance solutions. I'm very proud that this government, the John Hamm Government, was able to come up with a way that's quite effective, again, in identifying possible solutions to the concerns that Nova Scotians have when they're out there trying to purchase auto insurance. More than 1,500 copies of this document have been accessed through our Web site. Again, I think it was a positive step and more than appropriate in recognition of the concern that people have regarding the auto insurance system.

Just last April 11th, this government announced another significant step in addition to the public consultation process. This government named a consumer advocate. The appointment was to Mr. George Jordan. I think it's only fair that I would, with your permission, Mr. Speaker, offer up the toll-free consumer advocate number for Nova Scotians. The local number is 424-2794, and the toll-free number is 1-800-898-7668.

AN HON. MEMBER: One more time.

MR. TAYLOR: One more time? Well, it's 1-800-898-7668. This government encourages Nova Scotians (Interruption) Well, Mr. Speaker, some of my colleagues are asking me what the local number is. The exchange is quite common to most people, it's 424-2794.

Mr. Speaker, I have confidence in the consumer advocate, he's quite renowned and very much respected by Nova Scotians. He's well recognized from one end of this province to the other. Mr. Jordan, a public broadcaster, I think I can state with all confidence that he will do a great job on behalf of Nova Scotians. That's what we're talking about. This isn't trying to take credit, the NDP, the Liberals, the PC's, this is about an individual who is recognized by all - I don't even know his politics, but this man is recognized by all Nova Scotians as being respected, as being responsible and somebody who will try to work on

[Page 1112]

behalf of Nova Scotians. Mr. Jordan, yes, is going to come back with recommendations. He's been mandated to come back with recommendations. Along with the other steps, those other very positive steps that this government has taken, I believe and trust that we will see some recommendations that can, possibly - no, I would say probably - lead to lower insurance rates. That's the objective of this government and all those three steps do have teeth, all those three steps should result in probably lower insurance rates.

Mr. Speaker, I am very, very pleased that we have taken those steps and we all have concerns about high auto insurance rates, but it's a complex issue. It's not just as easy as saying simply lower the rates. There is also a very interesting article, and I can table this, in today's Chronicle-Herald. It is entitled "Raise the deductible and save hundreds on car insurance" by Ellen Roseman.

AN HON. MEMBER: . . . that's Ontario.

MR. TAYLOR: Yes, it does reference Ontario but I think a lot of members in the House know, but perhaps senior citizens, people of all ages, those with family members that have one or two people driving, can ascertain easily from this article that if one is to raise your premium, for example, you can lower your rates. You can lower your (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, for example, liability coverage. A lot of people are driving around with $35,000 liability; some people have $200,000; and yes, that's the point, they have an insurance card - I can't say how many, mind you, but people are hard pressed. When you talk to RCMP officers and police services, they will tell you very quickly that the honourable Speaker, being a former police officer, knows some of the scams that people involve themselves in sometimes to obtain an insurance card, and I'll leave it at that.

People are quite creative when they make insurance arrangements, but this government has taken steps - Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left? Two minutes. Mr. Speaker, the toll-free number is 1-800-898-7668, to get hold of Mr. Jordan.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to reference something. I know you were in the Chair yesterday and I think it only appropriate to get it on public record - and this is shifting gears - but I, inadvertently, but inappropriately, referred to one particular caucus in this House as being scoundrels, and I would like to withdraw that terminology and name with an apology. I will say, inasmuch as that statement and name at the time did seem well placed, I will certainly comply with your request and perhaps I should have referred to them, or could have referred to them as being rascals, but every member in this House is an honourable individual. You make a big major commitment to come in here, and having said that, all honourable members in this House are very concerned about the insurance rates that Nova Scotians are paying.

[Page 1113]

Listen. I sometimes get a little bit annoyed when you hear folks refer to seniors as somehow to classify people who are out there buying insurance. That's not fair because some of the best drivers that I know, and some of the best drivers in Nova Scotia, are our senior citizens, Mr. Speaker. So let's not discriminate and classify people, let's look at their individual driving records irrespective if you are 16 or 106. This government won't do that. We are not into that at all, but we are trying to help, if we can, people receive fair auto insurance coverage.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable member for retracting that statement that he made yesterday and apologizing to the House. It is accepted.

The honourable member for Cape Breton West.

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, usually every day we get our staff to give us the newspaper clippings on some of the highlights of the daily newspapers and one of the articles in today's Chronicle-Herald was an article entitled "Hot-air promises". I think that pretty well summarizes what we heard from the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley so I will put that in file 13 where it should be.

Mr. Speaker, let's go to the heart of the issue. There are a number of issues here that are of significant importance. One has to remember the history of this entire issue on insurance as it relates to government, government policy and taxation. It was a Conservative Government in 1967 that introduced a 2 per cent hidden tax on all insurance premiums, whether it be home insurance, auto insurance, life insurance or whatever. It was a Conservative Government that introduced that tax. Again in 1989, it was a Conservative Government that increased that tax, that hidden tax. It was the then-Minister of Consumer Affairs, the honourable Colin Stewart, who increased that insurance premium tax. So that kind of sets the groundwork for (Interruptions) Yes, the honourable Colin Stewart, who was the minister.

[4:45 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, the government this year will collect $48.5 million in hidden tax on the insurance premiums for the people of Nova Scotia this year. That's a significant increase over the previous year. I believe, and I do stand to be corrected, on a previous day, last year, the minister indicated approximately $30 million, between $30 million and $35 million, of taxes would be collected on insurance premiums in Nova Scotia. So the government has a lot to benefit by doing nothing on this issue. They will collect anywhere from $13 million to $15 million more in hidden taxes than they did the previous year. Perhaps that would explain the foot-dragging; perhaps that would explain why they didn't want to go with an all-Party committee last year.

[Page 1114]

The government, with great fanfare, indicates that it has appointed a consumer advocate, but in the same press release the government indicates that the consumer advocate is not allowed to disclose any information unless it's approved by the government - in the same press release. So here we have a consumer advocate, fighting for the people of Nova Scotia, who is not allowed to stand up for those people unless the government approves what he has to say. (Interruption)

Well, Mr. Speaker, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, who makes an eloquent chihuahua in doing the bidding for government policy - and that's all he does, he gets up and clatter-chats about a lot of things that the government is going to do, but they don't do anything. They're gouging the consumers of Nova Scotia an extra $15 million over what they gouged out of them last year, and what does that member do? He stands up and he apologizes.

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

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: Mr. Speaker, on a point of order. I have no difficulty with the honourable member referring to me as a chihuahua.

AN HON. MEMBER: A what?

MR. TAYLOR: A chihuahua. What I do have some difficulty with is the honourable member standing in his place and I don't know if he's speaking on behalf of the Liberal caucus or not, like he was on the P3 schools, but does the Liberal caucus believe that Mr. Jordan should make private information public? Is this what he's saying? Private information, when people confide in him - he should clarify himself. (Interruptions)

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. With all the noise in the Chamber I didn't hear what the honourable member for Cape Breton West called the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, but I'm sure that if it was what he said, he would wish to retract that.

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, it wouldn't be anything less than an honourable chihuahua.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please. I think the honourable member would want to retract that.

MR. MACKINNON: Well, yes, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: Sure he would. Thank you.

[Page 1115]

MR. MACKINNON: Mr. Speaker, aside from the jest, the fact of the matter is the member stood in his place today, as he usually does, and tries to be the apologist for the government as to why it's doing nothing for the seniors of Nova Scotia while insurance companies are demanding confidential information, medical information. They are gouging the seniors, they are gouging the consumers of Nova Scotia with, in some cases, excessive insurance premiums. That's what's so disappointing.

So the government is looking and hoping for an opportunity for this House to recess and get through an election so they won't have to deal with this issue. That's why they appointed this consumer advocate, who the honourable member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley knows, and every member in this House should know - and I believe they do - confidential and private information, personal information, he knows that's not to be disclosed. That's not what I was talking about, but as usual he tries with his silly little rabbit tracks, and we're not going to be taken in by that. If he wants to apologize for why the government is doing nothing, let him do it. Let him say that to the people of Nova Scotia.

What about the e-mails that all members of this House I'm sure have been receiving about constituents of his complaining about high insurance premiums? What has he done? He has done nothing. He has not done nothing to represent their interests. What official representation has he made to the minister? What official representation . . .

MR. BROOKE TAYLOR: On a point of order, Mr. Speaker. The honourable member now has breached every parliamentary code in this Legislature. Of all the members to stand in the House and accuse another honourable member of doing nothing, I find it reprehensible. This government has frozen the premiums in Pharmacare for seniors, this government has lowered the fishing license fee for seniors, this government has frozen co-pays for seniors. We've done a lot for seniors and we're going to continue doing a lot for seniors.

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

MR. RUSSELL MACKINNON: Like I said, the honourable member is an apologist for the provincial government. Why else would they continue to gouge the consumers with hidden taxes on insurance premiums in this province? Why would they say nothing while they're collecting an extra $13 million to $15 million a year? That's why the honourable member is not advocating like he usually did when he was on this side of the floor, because he has to be quiet because the government has the Rumsfeld plan. It has the Rumsfeld plan (Interruption) Mr. Speaker, I'm not going to go there.

There are issues like soft tissue. Mr. Speaker, there's considerable consternation about the fact that insurance companies are saying the reason why premiums are going up is because of soft-tissue claims. Now, let's assume for the sake of discussion that's correct. Let's look at the payouts at the end of the fiscal year or the time period for which a particular

[Page 1116]

claim is booked on the books. I would submit, and I don't have actual numbers to back this up, but I would submit that there's a considerable amount of money - I would say in the millions if not tens of millions of dollars - every year in Nova Scotia set aside in contingency plans so that it's booked as a liability for the insurance company and it's never paid out. (Interruption) That's right, it's called reserves. Is that what they're basing on the increased premiums?

I recall at one time if a consumer had a small fender-bender, let's say it was $300 or $500 or whatever, and they decided between the driver and the other driver, who may have had no damage at all to his or her vehicle, say, okay, I'll pay that for myself, I'm not going to bother putting it through the insurance. That was never, ever considered as a claim by the insurance company against you in rating your insurance. Now, whether you put that claim in or not, the insurance company marks you as a liability. I'm not so sure that's so fair, I'm not even sure if it's legal. It must be, because the government is seeing it happen and they're doing nothing about it. I know they wouldn't just quietly sit around and do nothing to break the law, or allow the law to be broken.

These are the types of issues, the extreme pressures that are put on seniors. Heaven forbid when somebody has an automobile, if they keep it for more than 10 years or 12 years, all of a sudden they're paying a higher premium because the insurance company says it's an old vehicle and it's going to cost more to repair or actually it's so depreciated that it's a liability for a newer, more expensive vehicle on the highway. I don't know what the logic is, but how is it that a vehicle can be older and depreciate in value and you have to pay higher insurance whether you have an accident or not? There's something dysfunctional about that whole process. The government is sitting around doing nothing about it.

You don't have to appoint a consumers' advocate to set up a hotline, whether it's called 1-800-Brooke, or whoever you want to call. You don't have to have that to know what the problems are out there. We know what the problems are. Why isn't the government deferring some of that windfall from the hidden tax back to the consumers, back to the seniors, back to the disabled, back to the consumers who are disadvantaged because of this unconscionable increase in premiums?

In fairness to some of the insurance companies, they have been hit with considerable increased costs. We have to look at both sides of the equation. But, why? Is it because the stock markets haven't been good to them and they've been taking premium money and investing it in the market? Does it have anything to do with the twin towers in New York coming down? The federal government down there in the States moved to limit liability claims against insurance companies - why isn't the government standing up for the consumers here in Canada and in Nova Scotia?

I guess my time is coming close to an end, but I think the point is made.

[Page 1117]

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

MR. DARRELL DEXTER: Mr. Speaker, it certainly is a pleasure to rise today to speak on this resolution. I want to start out by responding to a few things that were said already in debate. The first thing is an observation that was made by the honourable member for Cape Breton West. He talked in round-about terms about the auto insurance system as a whole. He never really came out and said this, but I think the point that he was trying to make was that the auto insurance system in this province is broken.

It's broken because as it stands today it is unable to respond to the needs of the consumers. It cannot provide the insurance product that is required at a reasonable price. That is a system that is broken. I think that was the point that the member for Cape Breton West was trying to make and I agree with him.

The other point I wanted to pick up on was a commentary that was made by my friend for the beautiful Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley. He talked about some of the safest and some of the best drivers that we have, as a product of their life experience, are our seniors. I want to tell the member opposite that I absolutely agree with that and I think that it is a terrible thing that the rating policy of many insurers in this province is to decide that at a certain age your age becomes the reason for which you must pay higher auto insurance premiums. I think this is discriminatory, unfair and the excuses that are made by the industry for this policy simply don't hold water. So on those two points I wanted to agree with both of my colleagues.

The first thing you have to know about auto insurance in this province is that the cost of auto insurance has gone up by over 65 per cent in a one year period. How you go about measuring that is that you look at a policy period - say you renewed in January 2002, you would then have to renew again in January 2003, but what you're going to look at is what the increase in the cost of your policy was one renewal over another. Those people who renewed in January of this year found that their rates were on average 65 per cent higher than when they renewed a year before. By any measure, that is a significant increase in the cost of auto insurance premiums in the province.

What's interesting, of course, and this was noted by others here today, the Insurance Bureau of Canada - and people should understand that the Insurance Bureau of Canada is not any kind of an independent organization designed to provide insurance information to people across the province. The Insurance Bureau of Canada is an industry lobby group. They are paid for by the insurance industry and they represent the views of the insurance industry. What the Insurance Bureau of Canada has said is that it's the claims process, the fact they say there are more auto claims and higher payouts from those claims that is causing the auto insurance premium to skyrocket.

[Page 1118]

[5:00 p.m.]

Well, Mr. Speaker, this is interesting, and you may know that I introduced in this House and, in fact, you sent off to the Insurance Bureau of Canada a letter with regard to this. The reality is that the Canadian Institute for Health Information has pointed out that accident rates in Nova Scotia are, in fact, decreasing and we had the second-lowest rate of hospitalization in Canada related to motor vehicle accidents. So where are the increased claims coming from? Where are the increased payouts coming from? These are inconsistent with the information that the Insurance Bureau of Canada is putting forward.

Over and above that, the Canadian Bar Association, the Nova Scotia section did a review of claims in this province and the conclusion that they came forward with was that there was only a very small increase in the awards that were made in the Nova Scotia courts with respect to soft-tissue injuries. Mr. Speaker, anyone who has worked in that system would not be surprised by that because Nova Scotia courts are notorious for having the lowest awards for soft-tissue injuries anywhere in the country. Unless the IBC is prepared to come forward with some concrete evidence of this increase in the cost of claim settlement, Mr. Speaker, it's very difficult to understand on what basis they make that claim.

What we do know from all of the industry materials is that over the last year, and we know this because the government is suffering the same thing and apparently the trust funds of the Liberal Party are all suffering from a decline in the value of their invested premiums. In the case of the Liberal Party, it invested income that they had received from sources unknown, but in any event, because of downturns in the stock market, they have suffered significant losses. That means that the dividends that they are able to pay their shareholders have declined. This is, of course, of significant concern to big insurance companies. They're in the business of generating income for their shareholders. If they're unable to do that, then they have to find ways to do it.

Mr. Speaker, really, there are only two ways to do it. One way is to increase the premium revenue, the amount that they charge you and me and everyone else out there who drives an automobile. The other way they can do it is they can cap the benefits that they give, either the accident benefits themselves directly, or the amount they pay out in claims for non-economic loss; in other words soft-tissue injuries and those types of injuries. So no matter what the reason is, one thing is absolutely clear and that is that auto insurance premiums are rising, they are rising to the point where people can no longer afford to pay for auto insurance.

The question is how are we going to go about fixing it? How do you go about delivering a product that is compulsory for everyone who wants to put a vehicle on the road. My friend, the member for Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley, knows that the trucking industry is one that knows the affect that this has on the people who work in that industry,

[Page 1119]

but also on consumers of other goods because, of course, those costs have to be passed on to somebody, and they're passed on to the consumers.

Mr. Speaker, I want to for a second - I think I have some time left here - I wanted you to think about this. In rural Nova Scotia, doctors don't make house calls any more, at least as far as I know, maybe in some communities a few people still do, but mostly they don't make them. Certainly when I was in Inverness and Richmond, they were telling me if they want to get to a doctor's appointment, they have to have a car. If they need to go to the emergency room, they need a car. If they need to pick up a prescription, they need a car. If they need to go to the hospital, they need a car. If they need to go shopping, they need a car. They cannot live in rural Nova Scotia and not have a vehicle. There is no public transit system. They are dependent on their vehicle or having at their disposal the vehicle of someone else.

Having affordable auto insurance is a very important thing for those people, because the only other option they have is to change their lifestyle and move to an area where those services are readily available. And where is that? Well, that is, of course, in an urban area. Not everybody wants to live in an urban area. Certainly, we shouldn't be forcing them to do that simply because they can't afford auto insurance.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to use just a few other examples. One of the people who came to our task force was a student who said he was trying to save a little bit of money, so he decided to live at home and rather than move into residence, his father bought him a car. Unfortunately, his insurance on that car was going to be $3,000. He was almost better off living in residence and not having to pay for gas and oil and maintenance and all the other things on top of automobile insurance. He's just trying to save a buck, so he doesn't end up at the end of his university career deeply in debt. But because the auto insurance is so expensive, that's not going to happen.

Mr. Speaker, business operators - I mentioned that trucking industry, but there are many others. Those who have small fleets of rental vehicles, for example, are finding their rates just simply going through the roof. I think after we carry out an examination of this, we've come to a fairly good understanding of what some of the problems are across the province, but I think what is less well-known is what the solutions are. Let me tell you, they are not simply reduced to increasing the deductible; no question it's an option, but people should know that if you increase the deductible, where do you stop? Do you stop at $1,000 or $2,000 or $10,000? When you put deductibles in place, it means that when you suffer a loss you are not going to be fully compensated. That's what a deductible does.

There are limits on non-economic loss. You can cap the amount you can receive. Again, it means you are not going to be fully compensated for an injury that you receive. Mr. Speaker, if somebody comes to your neck of the woods, and they, through inadvertence or through negligence, injure you, I think most people think that if they're going to affect the

[Page 1120]

quality of my life that way, certainly I should have the right to be properly compensated for it.

Those are possibilities, the government can do that. There are others. For example, Quebec has a system which divides bodily injury into one category, which is government-run insurance for bodily injury, but the property damage section of the insurance coverage is still offered by private insurers, that's a possibility. I know many people I've talked to don't think it's a particularly efficient system in Quebec, but certainly when I was down last night, attending the Co-operators annual general meeting, they were talking about that as one of the solutions that could work if it was administered properly.

Then, of course, Mr. Speaker, there is public automobile insurance, which operates in Manitoba, in Saskatchewan, in British Columbia, and unfortunately for this government, although they put out a document to talk about insurance, they didn't talk about that alternative at all. The reality is that public auto insurance has no government subsidies, it exists on the premiums. It's not-for-profit, it's not run by the government, it's independent, not-for-profit, has an independent board of directors, and the whole idea is to reduce the actual cost of the auto insurance premium itself without limiting the benefits. In fact, the automobile insurance benefits in Saskatchewan, many people would argue, are much better than they are as they exist here.

The other point I would like to make on this is that public auto insurers have a vested interest in public auto safety, because a private insurer only has a small portion of the market. Because they have only a small portion of the market, there's no incentive for them to invest or not as great an incentive to invest in road safety, because whatever they do is also going to benefit their competitor. A public auto insurer, every accident they prevent means that's a claim they're not going to have to pay. So they identify places where the roads are dangerous, where there are dangerous intersections and they invest in road safety. So that's another aspect of public auto insurance that most people don't consider. Much more to say on another day, Mr. Speaker.

MR. SPEAKER: The time allotted for this resolution debate has expired.

The honourable Opposition House Leader.

MR. JOHN HOLM: Mr. Speaker, would you please call Resolution No. 443.

Res. No. 443, Commun. Serv.: Reg. Residential Service Soc. - Wage Parity Ensure - notice given Apr. 7/03 - (Mr. J. Pye)

[Page 1121]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Dartmouth North.

MR. JERRY PYE: Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak on Resolution No. 443, and for the record of Hansard I want to make sure that the resolution is there.

"Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the Minister of Community Services to ensure the safety and comfort of the residents of group homes by providing adequate funding to the Regional Residential Services Society so that it can provide workers with wage parity with hospital workers."

Mr. Speaker, I have to say that a number of those counsellors for the Regional Residential Services Society were in the public gallery today and they listened to a number of questions that were put forward to the Premier. The Premier channelled them off to the minister responsible for social services. A few of them had asked me why the Premier had not responded to those questions himself, and I advised them that the Premier has the opportunity to refer to the Minister of Community Services; however, that did not sit too well.

I want to say, Mr. Speaker, that I am absolutely appalled that a government places very little value on those citizens who are our most vulnerable in our community. Those citizens, who tend not to be the ones who go out there and vote, are the ones who receive the least attention from this government. I want to tell you that that is grossly unfair, because those vulnerable individuals in our society need people to look after their particular needs. The people who look after their particular needs are very compassionate individuals and they are very dedicated to the work that they do. This goes to the regional residential counsellors very hard.

MR. SPEAKER: Order, please.

MR. PYE: Thank you, Mr. Speaker. They did not want to be out there on that picket line today - and this may not be important to members of this House, but it is significantly important to me, so I would greatly appreciate it if members of this House paid special attention to this very important resolution. This resolution is not just simply a resolution that ought not to bear some attention in this House, as a disabled individual, I find it somewhat of an affront that we sit here and we don't address issues of the most vulnerable individuals in our society. Those individuals are individuals with intellectual disabilities and the counsellors who are out there are doing a tremendous job of making sure that they deliver those dedicated and compassionate services to those individuals.

This government, Mr. Speaker, can go on and say, well, as the minister can claim, his department does not get involved in these negotiations, yet he knows that his department provides the bulk of the funding to the Regional Residential Services Society. This minister knows that he can direct to the Regional Residential Services Society the way in which this

[Page 1122]

government wants this issue addressed. All it takes is action from the minister responsible. The minister says that it cannot be involved in conciliation. Well I can tell you that Local 66 has said that it is prepared to go to conciliation; it has asked the minister. Local 66 of this union that represents these individual counsellors has done everything in its power to avert a strike, everything, and this Legislative Assembly ought to know that. They have put forward to government what it is willing to accept and that it is willing to go back to the negotiating table and address these very issues.

Now the Minister of Community Services can continue to shirk his responsibility by not providing those additional dollars, but this will never, never solve the very important issue that is out there. The residential workers or counsellors, I will say, Mr. Speaker, are seeking wage parity and they are seeking wage parity with their counterparts who are development workers in institutions. I don't need to tell the minister what those differences are between the development workers and the counsellors but I just want to assure the minister of some of the responsibilities.

The job responsibilities of those counsellors are dispensing medication, providing and purchasing groceries and clothing and household items, and other essential goods. None of this is done by the development worker in an institution. The dispensing of medication is done by a nurse and when there are special needs by the individual, an individual called a porter takes that individual to their doctor's appointments and the purchasing of their special needs are not there simply because the cafeteria facilities and the meals and so on are provided by other services in the institutions.

[5:15 p.m.]

The counsellors in the regional residential facilities across this HRM not only have the tremendous responsibility of doing that, they have to provide highly specialized medication, intervention and tracheotomy care, tube feeding, care devices used to assist mobility, palliative care and administer oxygen. All of this is done by people who are dedicated, compassionate and who care about their job. Many of them have 12 and 15 years on the job, many of them did not want to walk out there, but had to walk out on the principle. They know the kind of job that they are doing for this community and the families of this community by providing the kind of services that they provide to those persons with intellectual disabilities. I don't know how many members have visited a group home, a small options home or a supervised apartment unit where persons with intellectual disabilities are living.

I've had the opportunity to go visit and see the kind of work that these individuals do. It's day in and day out, the families rely upon these individuals to do the job that the family could never do. These individuals perform tasks that you and I would have extreme difficulty in trying to perform. Yet, we don't see the dedicated effort those individuals put in and we

[Page 1123]

ignore the level of money that they should receive on an hourly basis in respect to their counterparts.

The minister also rose in this House and said, you know that we have done a lot for those individuals who are employed, those counsellors who are employed in the regional residential services. He said when service exchange came into this province in 1993 under the Liberal Government, there was a need to upgrade the skills and the certificates of these individuals and there was also a need to bring in wage parity.

That was a commitment through the service exchange program of the previous government which was endorsed by the government that's in power now. I commend the government on making sure that those balanced salaries were consistent across the province - there's no question that was a good move. However, that's a few years ago. These individual counsellors who have been out here walking the picket lines have been two years without a contract. Two years in which this government could have turned around and decided to save enough money to put into a package to provide wage parity.

This government boasts about Nova Scotians sharing in the wealth of a province that has turned the tide and eliminated the deficit and brought surpluses to this province. If Nova Scotians are to share in the wealth, then surely the counsellors who look after the most vulnerable individuals in this province, ought to be able to be a recipient of the sharing of that wealth.

Mr. Speaker, I just want to tell you that it continues to amaze me that the minister and his department claims that there's no way for them to be involved in the negotiating process. All the minister has to do is call up the board of the Regional Residential Services Society and say tomorrow get back to the negotiating table and if you don't go back to the negotiating table, we will impose conciliation upon you. We will impose an action by which you get back to the negotiating table and start negotiating this collective agreement so that those individuals who are the most vulnerable in our society will not have to be out there beating the streets without providing the services to our citizens.

Mr. Speaker, as I said, this is a very important issue. It's one that touches my heart, I don't know how many hearts it touches in the people across the Legislature floor, but every one of us knows or has a familiar relationship with someone who has an intellectual disability. We know the work that is required, the kind of services and support programs and the kind of work that an individual has to provide in order to make sure that those individuals are able to live from day to day. We know that this is not an easy task. This task requires a skilled individual as a counsellor, the competency of that counsellor, the understanding of that counsellor, because it becomes a very personal issue when every day you have to provide some very personal and private services to those individuals with intellectual disabilities.

[Page 1124]

Mr. Speaker, this government has to recognize that just simply because there are 250 members out there and that this is a small union, that it can certainly hold them out there on the street. I hope the government is not thinking that because those 250 counsellors out there, walking the street with those placards, are the very people who would do the job that none of us in this Legislative Assembly would probably do. I think that when we look at the job descriptions of a development worker versus that of a counsellor, you can certainly see why there is legitimacy in their wage parity demand.

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

HON. PETER CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to have an opportunity to speak about this very important subject tonight. The Minister of Community Services is away attending a housing conference so he obviously would be dealing with this if he were here, but I'm pleased to have an opportunity to make a few comments.

I think the honourable member that just spoke said this is an important subject to him and I can assure the honourable member that it's an important subject to everybody. The commitment that all of the members of this Legislature have made to taking care of people who are not able to take care of themselves has been demonstrated time and time again by this Legislature.

First, Mr. Speaker, let me say that this government and the Minister of Community Services are disappointed that the settlement couldn't be reached between the employer and the union. At the same time, though, we do respect the collective bargaining process and the employer's right to exercise their right under this Act. We do respect that. We know the situation has been difficult for both residents and their families. The honourable member raised the question about whether anybody from the government had been to meet with the families. As the minister mentioned last week he has had the opportunity to have a chance to meet with the families and indeed go to Simpson Hall and to look at those and to meet with them.

The other thing, the honourable member raised the question, has anybody here been in a small options home? Well, I can assure the honourable member that in my previous portfolio I have been in small options homes, I have been in group homes, I have been in residential care homes and I have had the opportunity. So, Mr. Speaker, I do believe, and I accept the honourable member's comments when he said people are very caring and very dedicated. I know that, I have seen that as he has.

Mr. Speaker, what we have done previous to this, and the government has recognized the value of their work, and the honourable member mentioned about the service exchange. That is true, but I will also say to the honourable member that this government over the last few years has put an additional $28 million into that sector over the last four years to enhance

[Page 1125]

the salaries and staff of organizations like the RRBS. The honourable member will know that, we've talked about that in estimates over the years, he'll be aware of that. During the same time we did enhance services though improved, enhanced training efforts for staff and residents and training so that people would be able to provide better service.

Mr. Speaker, it is unfortunate that rather that residents had to be moved from their institutions to smaller homes and to be moved to new places across the way. However, the significant investment means that group home workers now have geographic wage equity across this province with their counterparts and they're now getting an allotment of $28,500 for each full-time employee. We understand that a substantial offer has been put forward by the employer during bargaining. This offer includes a 6 per cent wage increase over three years, increased contributions to the pension plan, and other group benefits. Funding to support the RRSS offer has been placed in this year's budget of Community Services.

Mr. Speaker, this offer that we are talking about here has been accepted by employees of three other group home service providers across Nova Scotia. It's important to understand that the employers were putting their best offer on the table during the conciliation. They were trying their best to get a resolution to this. Although it is unfortunate to find ourselves in this situation, the minister and department staff of Community Services have been briefed regularly on their contingency plans. Care coordinators from the department have been set up and they are visiting residents to ensure their care and residence is maintained. In fact, as I mentioned, the minister himself had visited Simpson Hall and will continue to monitor the situation and, indeed, he will continue to talk to family residents to hear their concerns.

We understand the residential regional rehab service is doing its best to keep families up-to-date and are sending regular updates to families. We know they are putting special care and sensitivity into meeting with these needs of the residents. We agree, Mr. Speaker, that residents should not be caught in the middle of this. This dispute is between the employer and the employees. Until this situation is resolved, Community Services' role will be to ensure the safety and well-being of the residents. We encourage any family members who have specific comments or concerns to contact their care coordinators. We understand that there is still a significant gap between the offer and the union's demands and, at the same time, RRSS has offered the employees the same salary increase and benefits as agreed to other unions and, indeed, are prepared to return to the table at any time.

MR. JERRY PYE: On a point of order, I apologize for interrupting the acting minister, Mr. Speaker, but it's very important that this be recorded on the table. The acting minister implied that in fact there was a pension plan offered to the individual employees who are in this bargaining unit of Local 66. My understanding, and the minister should clarify, is that this is a contribution to an individual RRSP and not a pension plan as we envisage a pension plan to be.

[Page 1126]

MR. CHRISTIE: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member is quite right, quite right that it is an RRSP plan. The point I was making was that it is not just simply a 2 per cent wage offer over three years of 6 per cent. There were other things that were added in there, other parts of the problem and other costs that were going to be attractive from the employer and, indeed, other things that are at the bargaining table to work their way through.

Mr. Speaker, I do, on behalf of the Minister of Community Services, say that this government does recognize that those people have a dedicated and valuable service. They do work in difficult situations. They do work in opportunities where people are disadvantaged and they have to be able to provide for them and that, as I indicated earlier, is why the government put the additional money into that sector, so that these people would be able to continue their work. They would be able to continue to be able to provide that service for all those people who need it.

Mr. Speaker, this is a time when it's very demanding for residents. It's demanding on the families, but it's my hope, and I know the hope of the Minister of Community Services, that the people will take the opportunity to go back to the table and work it out at the table between the employer and the employee, because that is the place where this should be resolved. It's a contract that has to be developed. The terms of reference and the job descriptions have to be developed and they have to be able to work out of those. For somebody to suggest that we should be intervening and we should be setting the terms and setting the standards, the standards are defined. The standards are defined by Community Services' regulations. The standards are defined, the standards of what people have to do. Those people across the province have to meet those standards and, indeed, we provide the salaries for those service providers all across this province so they can meet those standards.

[5:30 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, this is very important to residents and members of their communities, and we encourage the employer and the employees to return to the bargaining table, to bring an end to this, so all the residents can get back to their homes and their locations.

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

MR. WAYNE GAUDET: Mr. Speaker, I'm pleased to rise and join in this debate on Resolution No. 443. The operative clause says:

"Therefore be it resolved that this House call upon the Minister of Community Services to ensure the safety and comfort of the residents of group homes by providing adequate funding to the Regional Residential Services Society so that it can provide workers with wage parity with hospital workers."

[Page 1127]

Mr. Speaker, without a doubt, this issue, by far, proves how caring and compassionate this government really is. A mark of a caring government is ensuring that all of the residents receive adequate care, in settings that they are familiar with during the time of a labour dispute. However, re-institutionalizing residents and separating residents from individuals they have lived with for several years and probably longer is definitely not a sign of a kind and compassionate government.

Mr. Speaker, this issue becomes more and more in focus every day. The government is looking at the residents and saying that their needs don't matter because they don't vote. Well, I'm here to tell you that their families vote and that the people of Nova Scotia vote. The people of Nova Scotia have been known, time and time again, to be a kind and compassionate people. But I can tell you, they don't like, they truly and honestly don't like what they're seeing. They see this government, once again, blaming the former government for all their woes.

Mr. Speaker, I'm proud of the commitment that the former Liberal Government made to community-based options in the past. I will not apologize for making an investment in this extremely important sector. But I really resent a government that uses what we did as the previous government as either a disguise to fool the people that they did something or as an excuse for not having any flexibility to negotiate in good faith.

Mr. Speaker, this government has no excuses. They, themselves, have not shown any commitment to community-based options at all. It's no wonder, given the actions we are seeing here today. I am sure you remember, in the rum-bottle budget that was tabled here several weeks ago, this government saw fit to give Nova Scotians - not all Nova Scotians, some Nova Scotians - a $155 incentive to vote for them, with a total price tag of $68 million. But they can't make an investment in the care and protection of our most vulnerable citizens in this province.

Let's take a look for a moment at what other priorities the Minister of Community Services has when it comes to his own department. He has no problem increasing administration in his budget to the tune of $4 million. However, he says he has nothing to bring to the table but 2 per cent. Mr. Speaker, these group home workers who save the government money do yeoman service. They deserve to have the ear of government and be heard. They deserve to have any one of the options that they have laid on the table for government to be considered, seriously considered.

Mr. Speaker, these workers have proposed many options to the Minister of Community Services and his department to avert a strike. They have proposed a joint job review process; they have proposed a joint conciliation board; they have proposed a phased-in approach to a new wage settlement; and most recently they have proposed binding arbitration - but yet the Minister of Community Services has refused to accept any of these options.

[Page 1128]

Mr. Speaker, in the last week we've seen members who work with the Regional Residential Services Society, outside the Legislature trying to call upon this government, trying to call upon our Premier, trying to call upon the Minister of Community Services to help get these negotiations underway again. But nothing is happening. Why isn't there anything happening? With all the $700 million Tory pre-election announcements, and especially with all the rum-bottle votes we've been hearing about - and I'm sure we haven't heard the end of those - you would believe that the Minister of Community Services and this Tory Government would have taken another look to make sure the proper care is given to these residents, especially to make sure that these workers are listened to.

Yet again, Mr. Speaker, nothing is happening, nothing is happening in these negotiations. This government has an obligation; they can't pretend that they don't have a responsibility. The talks between the government and these group home workers have come to a stop. The residents deserve to know that the people who care for them day in, day out are respected; the workers themselves deserve to be respected. The families would like to know that they are governed by a government who respects these group home workers and respects, especially, their loved ones.

Sadly, Mr. Speaker, this Premier and this government, in true Tory fashion, have disappointed all involved. It is up to this government and to this Premier to start recognizing that these workers and these residents and their families deserve respect. They deserve a government who won't blame everyone else but themselves for this situation. They deserve a government and a Premier who will call the Minister of Community Services and say let's go back to the table with a new mandate, and let's bargain in good faith.

Mr. Speaker, I would like to go to one article that was in today's Chronicle-Herald. One family member: "'It's time for (Premier) John Hamm to step in' she said 'He is the only one that can bring these two parties together and get all these helpless, vulnerable people back into their homes. I am so ashamed of this government.'" I will table that after I'm done.

There are many Nova Scotians who have been following this labour dispute. They can't understand why this Tory Government is not doing anything to help those most vulnerable in our society. These residents, these families and these group home workers as well can't understand why this Tory Government is doing nothing. I had a chance to meet with a group of these group home workers before the strike started. There is no doubt of the dedication, the compassion and the loving care they provide to these most vulnerable citizens in our society. Their dedication is certainly beyond the call of duty.

This date for renegotiating this contract cannot be a surprise for this government. They knew that it was coming four years ago. Why didn't they start to plan for the future instead of blaming others for their woes? Whether this government likes it or not, this is an issue of their own making. It's an issue that they must address.

[Page 1129]

In closing, this government needs only to send a signal to the employer that they support them and get back to the bargaining table. Thank you.

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

MR. FRANK CORBETT: I want to rise here tonight and talk about Resolution No. 443 and in particular I was quite amazed by the acting minister when he talked about respecting collective bargaining. Wow. What a difference a year makes.

Here is a government that took on health care workers almost two years ago and then while these people were in the middle of collective bargaining, with a basic - if that government had any knowledge or any concern for the bargaining process, they were in a blackout, a media blackout, trying to work towards a collective agreement. But what did the former Minister of Education do? Did that minister wait to see if that could bear any fruit? No, no. He went out telling anybody that would listen, we've got a bill and they ain't striking. We're going to take their rights away from them.

It told all the members out there it had been scuttled before they could try to get an agreement. That minister took the legs out from under them because that government wanted to show it was tough. It didn't care about people in hospitals, it didn't care what the residual effect of Bill No. 68 would be that health care workers would leave this province, that health care workers realize they can't rely on this government for support.

Yet, they went out and did this. Then the gall of the acting minister to stand in this House today and tell us that they respect the collective bargaining process. That is just a lot of hooey because I can't say stronger words in this House without being reprimanded. The Wal-Mart greeter is over there yapping and we know where he stands on workers' rights.

Mr. Speaker, I asked the Minister of Labour this week in estimates, I asked him quite honestly, where is your legislation? What would you do around legislation for anti-scab? His response to me about that and other items around whether it's the Trade Union Act or whether it's Labour Standards, was to say we don't have the process in which to get that through the House. We've got a committee looking at it and it's such a large bill that we don't know what to do.

This is not such a large item. Here's a government, without getting a complaint from the casinos, that's going to bring in a bill to protect them right away. No worry, how big is the cheque? Let me write it for you. If you're a big business, we'll look after you, but if you're a worker in this province, you're in trouble with this government.

[Page 1130]

[5:45 p.m.]

This government is coming into almost its fourth anniversary in power and it's going to be known as one of the most anti-labour governments we've had in this province in quite some time. It could have done things to help workers but day in, day out - and this government refuses to see this.

AN HON. MEMBER: We have 26,000 more jobs.

MR. CORBETT: I hear the former Minister of Health say 26,000 more jobs. Well, you should come to Cape Breton with me. (Interruptions) Yes, and see how you closed the steel plant and how you didn't do anything for coal miners. I'll go toe to toe with you on that, minister, if you wish on another day, but here we have these people on the street today.

If this government had the intestinal fortitude to put some teeth in the Trade Union Act and ban scab workers from this province, then that employer would be at the table trying to resolve this. Instead they've got people out there, they've got people willy-nilly, they don't care. I haven't heard the Minister of Community Services checking in to see the qualifications of these people they've brought in. No, it was just like this is a Third World country when it comes to labour relations. Please do not try to tell anybody on this side of the House that this is a great place in which to negotiate a collective agreement. It is a lousy place to try to negotiate a collective agreement. (Interruptions) If the Minister of Environment and Labour wants to get on the record, please stand up and do so.

Mr. Speaker, we've asked this government, we've asked the Liberal Government before it, to bring the Trade Union Act somewhere close to this century. You know, the last time the Tories and the Liberals did anything, in a substantive way, with the Trade Union Act was to give us the Michelin Bill. They partnered up on that and what they've done is look after the employer and not the worker. Why doesn't this government come in with something like that? Why doesn't this government admit to what its role is here?

Mr. Speaker, in the private sector, if the government was doing what it was doing and if we had a decent Trade Union Act here, the union could very conceivably go and say, you're contracting out our work when all this stuff happened. The government wants to pretend that it has no responsibility at the table but clearly the dollar stops with them.

The minister talked about the offer at the table being a fair one and saying 2 per cent plus - well, he didn't say it until prodded by the member for Dartmouth North who had to bring it forward and say that's not correct, he said 2 per cent plus a pension plan. It's not a pension plan, it's an RRSP and some may say well, what's the dif? Well, there's a lot of difference. There's significance, this has no control by the commissioner of pensions, it's a private, basically, deal entered into between the employer and the employee, away from the collective table. It's not a collective, if you will, Mr. Speaker, and it's open to the vagaries

[Page 1131]

of the market a bit more. It's not a defined plan or a money purchase plan so there's all kinds of problems there.

There's no fence around it, Mr. Speaker. Why won't this government do that? Why wouldn't this government sit down with those workers and say, look - and the employer - and say look, we're the ghost at the table. We're going to make ourselves known today to you and we want to help you. If you're not going to give workers blanket coverage across this province in the collective bargaining system, what we will do is we'll own up to our own responsibility as the real employer because they can say what they want, the money comes from the Treasury Board. It's their money, Finance signs the cheque, it's their money. You're at the table. It's like they're telling the RRSS to distribute it whatever way you want, we don't care. We don't care how you treat your employees, just here's the cheque, get out of here, and that's totally wrong.

For government to take that position is just incomprehensible, Mr. Speaker. The only way you could understand that, I suspect, is that it has no respect for the workers and, in essence, no respect for the residents. There is much that has been said. The minister just said this quite clearly, that he worries and his concern is for the residents of these homes. Well, if he was really worried, he would get involved. This government would sit down in a meaningful way and try to resolve this impasse. Instead, this government has done nothing. This government is extremely - I will go back to Bill No. 68 - proactive in doing that. They knocked those negotiations off the rail and intervened in the collective bargaining process, but yet they will say here today that we're not going to touch the collective bargaining process.

Well, I will say to this government you can't cherry-pick. You can't have it both ways. You can't because of an ideological type of debate say, well, we're going to intervene because the health care workers were a much larger segment and philosophically we're going to show the rest of Nova Scotia how anti-union we are and then you can't piously stand up here two years later and say, oh, no, that works tremendously, you can't get involved. The Trade Union Act and the collective bargaining process has to go on unfettered. That's not our role, no, no, not us.

So which way is it, Mr. Speaker? You're in it or you're on it. So this government does not want to help these people. That's the only conclusion you could draw from their inactivity around this. The minister or the acting minister, whoever, and I hate to say the buck stops at the Premier, but they can get involved with this. They can sit down and try to find a resolve and tell those workers why they believe that a worker in one institution can make so much more than another doing the exact same work. For the minister to say other people have settled below that wage envelope, it's extremely unfair because you don't know the amount of employees they have. You don't know the amount of work. You don't know where those people live, the idea of some place you may be able to buy a home for $25,000, where an appropriate home may be $90,000. So it's an unfair comparison to make to say that

[Page 1132]

somebody has agreed to terms in this money envelope inside of what this group is offering. Because these people have accepted doesn't make it right and you've got to look at that on an individual basis and you can't put that to this collectively.

Mr. Speaker, the government has a role. It has shown that it has a role, as a matter of fact, it put itself in that role with Bill No. 20, but yet when it comes to the hammer they can use through Bill No. 20, they walk away from it. We have to come up with a rationale that shows that collective bargaining works across this province. In particular, and I think more so because the government has to show leadership, they have to show that collective bargaining is fair and even, that they can't pick and choose where they are going to get involved in the collective bargaining process.

The government has the legal obligation, I believe, through the Department of Environment and Labour, through the employer, I think, directly as Community Services, and then directly from the top, from the Premier, who can indeed bring his Cabinet together and say, we as an enlightened government who respect, more importantly, the residents of that home, that their care is carried on in the professional and caring manner that has been exhibited in the past by the workers, we as a government have a responsibility to workers in this province that shows they have the right to organize and when they organize, they have the right to bargain collectively, and that if indeed the worst happens, and that is that they're put in a job action situation, that there are not people from the outside affecting the outcome of that strike, i.e., anti-scab legislation. If there was anti-scab legislation, I would say that those people would still be at work today, and there would be a collective agreement in force. I will tell this government that in provinces where there was and is anti-scab legislation, they have some of the most respected picket lines because people know that the right of anti-scab was given to them and they respect it.

Mr. Speaker, this government has to start, instead of just putting it in words, putting it in action, respecting the residents of those homes and, just as important, respect the workers of this province so that we can have a province that workers can be proud of and be part of.

MR. SPEAKER: The time has expired on debate of Resolution No. 443.

[The time allotted for Opposition Members' Business has expired.]

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

HON. RONALD RUSSELL: Mr. Speaker, I move the House do now rise to meet again on the morrow at the hour of 9:00 a.m. Following the daily routine, we will go immediately into Supply, and on the conclusion of four hours of Supply we will revert to

[Page 1133]

Orders of the Day, and go into Question Period. At the end of Question Period, we will retire for the day. I move that the House do now rise.

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

Is it agreed?

It is agreed.

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

The motion is carried.

Just before we go to the moment of interruption, I wanted to mention to the House that one of our Pages, Irene Forsey, who is up in the gallery - this is her last day. Irene is from Port au Basques, and she will be leaving here. She is graduating and going on to law school out West. Irene, on behalf of all the members, thank you for a great job, and good luck to you in your endeavours. (Applause)

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

[Therefore be it resolved that members of this House recognize the tremendous economic activity now happening in Kings County.]

ADJOURNMENT

MOTION UNDER RULE 5(5)

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Kings West.

ECON. DEV. - KINGS CO.: ACTIVITY - RECOGNIZE

MR. JON CAREY: Mr. Speaker, I am honoured to be here today and to take part in the late debate on the economy of Kings County and, in general, the economy of Nova Scotia. These are better days, better than they were in 1999 when this government came into power. The future is bright, and most people we talk to are looking to the economy growing and things to keep getting better in Kings County and, of course, that spins off into the surrounding area.

Across Kings, communities are growing, and we see economic development coming in all areas. We can start in the west end, which I represent, and I've spoken about this before, but we have Greenwood, which of course continues to grow with over 1,500 military

[Page 1134]

people. It's the third-largest air base in Canada and the largest on this coast. We have the Aurora and the search-and-rescue and the new Cormorant there, and these add very much to our economy, and these people integrate so well with our whole community, giving us cultural and educational advantages that we wouldn't have without the military being there.

We also have the military air museum in Greenwood and, of course, we have the French school, which I'm pleased to say is getting renovations done that are badly needed. In Kingston, we can move out to the area where we have seen tremendous development in the last short while, Main Street development there has been exceptional. We look at the Superstore, the Cash & Carry, the Sears building, Foster Insurance, these are all new facilities, individuals and corporations see that they can make a profit and that the economy is good. They have faith in the economy, so they're investing in this area. We see that area developing more all the time. We haven't seen that kind of development in the Kingston area in 50 years probably, so it's an encouragement.

We also have other industries there. O.H. Armstrong continues to be a major employer, we have the Paragon Golf and Country Club, which is owned by the membership, one of the finer courses, I might add, in the province and home to Gerry MacMillan, who has been - I don't know, five or six times Nova Scotia champion and certainly a well-respected golfer in Canada. In that area, as well, we have Steven Avery, who has started from a small farm family, has built several of the Avery Markets, and you can go right through mainland Nova Scotia, I can hardly keep up with what Steven's doing - he has two here in the metro area, and I think he also just opened another one in Wolfville.

These are people who are employing people. These are people who have confidence in what's going on in our economy. Our only town in Kings West, we have Berwick, and there we see Larsen's who have continued to be an employer, adding 50 new jobs recently with their investment with the community college in training new people for the meat-cutting position. Larsen's started as a family business and has continued to grow, and today employs over 450 people. Again, as I said, we are going to add another 50 jobs there.

We also have the new golf course, Berwick Heights, now under new management, and we expect that it will be a very successful tourist attraction; as well locals will be using it. Grand View Manor, certainly one highly regarded and in great demand to take people in, has a development going with 30 new residences being completed for the spring. It is a model for Canada, one of the more up to date.

[6:00 p.m.]

Mr. Speaker, I was pleased last week to be able to be in Kentville for the Kingstec announcement, one of the 13, I think, projects in the province, where Kingstec is going to add 463 seats to that school. It is going to almost double its capacity (Interruptions) and right in the heart of the riding of the member for Kings North, a wonderful area, with a hard-

[Page 1135]

working member. It's important that we see that this government sees the advantage in education and what it does to society and how it will help people out of their levels where they can break the community service problems that may have been in their families for years. We see opportunity there and these people are taking advantage of that. They want a hand up and this government is giving it to them. (Applause)

Our communities are growing, Mr. Speaker, and getting stronger. I would be negligent if I didn't mention in the Berwick area, the Apple Dome project, which is going to be called the Kings Mutual Apple Dome. This is a $9 million project and the community has raised well over $2 million in the last two years; well over $2 million and Kings Mutual, one of the businesses in Berwick, very supportive of this with their $1 million contribution and then John Nichols, of course, of Berwick Building Supplies, giving $100,000. There have been numerous supporters. This is a project that is needed badly; anyone who has been in the Berwick Arena knows that it has probably outlived its lifespan and needs replacing. This will offer to a growing community a facility youth and seniors and in-between can use and benefit from.

I would also like to mention some of the smaller communities such as Harbourville, which has the restoration society and the wharves that are being repaired there through the initiatives of the local community, the support of Economic Development, the support of the federal government as well and the Aboriginals fishing out of there, Mr. Speaker. It is encouraging to see this once-proud community, an active, vibrant community, which was down to almost a state of people wondering will it continue to exist, now has developed and we see growth; new stores, new opportunities, people are investing in that community.

AN HON. MEMBER: Good times.

MR. CAREY: Good times are . . .

AN HON. MEMBER: Good times are Tory times. (Interruptions)

MR. CAREY: Mr. Speaker, how much time do I have left? Two minutes. Well quickly then, I am a little fearful about the economy if such an unfortunate incident should happen as another government coming into being after the next election. (Interruptions) I have to, I am very concerned. I've heard so many promises from the Official Opposition and you can't dispute that you would like to have free tuition, that you'd like to write off student loans, that you'd like to do all of these things. The only thing I haven't heard them say is about economic development, but maybe they have a plan there too. Being all things to all people, I don't understand it. I would vote for them if they could tell me how they're going to pay for it.

[Page 1136]

Then, of course, we have the Third Party. I don't understand, they can't decide, one member will say he's in favour of P3s, while the Leader says, no, we're not going to do P3s. We see a consistent flip-flop. I don't understand what their policies really are, but the ones that did come out recently, they're saying we're not going to add a penny to the deficit. If that is the case, where is he going to come up with the billon dollars it's going to take to pay the interest, to build infrastructure? I'm afraid we'll lose our schools. Mr. Speaker, I'm afraid we'll lose our health system. We won't build our infrastructure. How can you do all these things without money or without raising taxes? We gave people a tax break and now they're saying they're going to take it back, they're going to put taxes up.

I just am really fearful that this type of thing might happen in our wonderful province, when this government has a plan, things are working, we have a balanced approached, we're doing it as we can afford to, we've done it with revenues, we've balanced the budget. I think people have been well served and, Mr. Speaker, I just thank you for the opportunity to serve in this government. (Applause)

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

MR. PAUL MACEWAN: Mr. Speaker, I notice my honourable friend for Hants East is not rising to the occasion so I shall.

We've just heard an interesting dissertation. I think the bottom line of which was that the Liberal Party was against money. An interesting conclusion. I'm surprised the honourable member hasn't heard that the fact that recently the honourable David Charles Dingwall, PC, QC, LLD, was made master and President of the Royal Canadian Mint. Yet, notwithstanding, he says that we are against money. (Interruptions)

I'm not going to get too far down that path. They might, if they were to observe things a little more closely, note the interrelation and, indeed, the common interests that the Liberal Party has with positive public financing, as evidenced by the prudent fiscal management given by the federal government in Ottawa. As compared with this government, that plunges ever deeper into debt, yet says they have balanced the budget. It reminds me of a scene in the movie, Lawrence of Arabia, where one of the two young fellows that tagged around with Lawrence got into the quicksand and Lawrence attempted to rescue him but couldn't, and he was swallowed up. But if that young fellow had been a Tory, even as he was being swallowed up he'd say, we balanced the budget, we've solved all problems, all is well, vote for us, and then he would be sucked under.

No, Mr. Speaker, I think our government has a good historic record. I defend the MacLellan Government in this House, I do, because I thought it was a good government, but there comes a point as we advance through time that we can't always be hung up on the past. It would be rather ludicrous to stand up here and defend the Hicks Government, although I knew Henry Hicks. I don't hear the Tories crowing too loud these days about Robert

[Page 1137]

Stanfield, although his economic achievements in those times were of some note. But they're now living in the present time and they're saying, we're doing a good job, we deserve to be re-elected, not those guys who were running back in 1963, but right now they're trying to make the case they've done a good job. They know that the case they're trying to sell is not very saleable. That's why they're sensitive and defensive, and they need these types of resolutions saying, "Therefore be it resolved that members of the House recognize the tremendous economic activity now happening in Kings County."

Is it happening? Not where I come from, Mr. Speaker. They wanted folks to debate one county, where they say is a model - all should be like it is in Kings County. That may or may not be true, I don't know. I mean some of the things he was taking credit for, like the air base at Greenwood, to my knowledge were the ongoing activities at the federal level of government. Now, that's why he says the people in Kings County are doing well. I would say that they should vote Liberal because that's the basis on which he rests his case at one end. Then he mentions other activities and things that are doing well and I'm pleased to hear that, I don't wish anyone harm or ill fortune, but I would say that in my view, in my humble opinion, I would think that any economic activity that is underway down in Kings County right now is perhaps more due to the federal government than the provincial and that, in any case, the people there are hardworking and do well whatever Party would be in power. I would say that.

I wouldn't attempt to take political credit for that kind of thing. I think that what you can safely blame the government for is where the economy is not doing well. I come from Cape Breton. Is the economy where I come from doing well? No, Mr. Speaker, it isn't. In fact, it's doing so poorly that the Tory Party has written off four ridings even as we go into this election, those four ridings being Cape Breton South, Cape Breton Nova, Cape Breton Centre and Glace Bay. In those four ridings the Tories know they're going to lose their deposit. They don't worry about that too much because it's only $400 altogether they're going to lose, but they cannot get up past the 15 per cent of the vote level because the people down there think they have done so poorly.

Now, that might be only four seats. You need more than 26 to have a majority government in this House. The four seats aren't going to pull them under but, you know, when any government in power is that weak in a significant part of Nova Scotia because of their own record, because of their having kept their own promises about closing the Sydney Steel plant, shutting everything down so the people could all be unemployed, you know, and then they could bring in the call centres and say, well, you can work down here at the call centre for $5 an hour, you know, that's a reasonable substitute in their way of thinking to what was before.

It doesn't wash at the polls, Mr. Speaker, and that's why they're writing those four ridings off and probably several others around them, like say, for example, Cape Breton West. I know the Tory candidate probably will not lose his or her deposit, probably just

[Page 1138]

barely save it by about 200. Well, that's the effects of their policies. That's where they pay - at the polls. I have here a report from Nova Scotia Business Inc. which is an organization that I believe is represented with the government's economic development policy in general and they boast of the activities that they have undertaken. They have provided business financing of over $15 million and they provide a list of where all that money has gone. I look over the list and I find that in Cape Breton Island as a whole one business received assistance, Laurie's Motel at Cheticamp. Laurie's Motel got a working capital loan of $45,000 out of $15 million and that's all there was for the Island - $45,000 out of $15 million.

Is that reasonable? Is that representative? Does that represent a fair share? Does that represent an equal wealth for all? No. They have a deliberate economic policy of restricting economic development to the areas that support the Tory Party, I suggest, and if that's not so, let them dispute the fact that most of the businesses shown on this list, including the one on Cape Breton Island, were in Tory held ridings. Now, I don't think I have too many more minutes left to start developing this theme. How many minutes do I have left, two, one? Two.

Well, two minutes is not a long time, Mr. Speaker, and I know the honourable Minister of Environment and Labour wants to add his contribution to the debate, but I suggest that where a government deliberately sits in air-conditioned offices in downtown Halifax and there wills the economic development shall go here, but shall not go there, you know, and then boasts saying what a great job we've done, let us pat ourselves on the back if our arms will reach up that far to do the patting, there was a gentleman who felt that very way in the Province of Quebec. On Monday night, I think it was, he went under the guillotine. You will see his portrait in today's paper on the editorial page - separation at last achieved by the head having fallen into the basket. Now that gentleman thought that he could do it. These folks think they can do it. We'll see, Mr. Speaker, we'll see. Time will tell, because I believe the direction in which they're heading of balancing the budget by plunging deeper into debt and so on and so forth, is not the way to go. Now, if they want to hear more, they'll have to wait 'til next time. Thank you, Mr. Speaker.

[6:15 p.m.]

MR. SPEAKER: The honourable member for Hants East.

MR. JOHN MACDONELL: Mr. Speaker, the honourable member for Cape Breton Nova was partially right, I didn't rise to the occasion when I had an opportunity to cut him off at the pass and speak second. I wanted to hear what he had to say before I spoke and as always, I think a job well done, probably stirred in enough politics to not have to question the basis for some of it.

[Page 1139]

I want to tell the member for Kings West that I see it as a very good thing for him to get up and promote his constituency. I've noticed a marked improvement in his speaking ability since 1999 and I would encourage him, any time, to get up; and nothing better for an MLA to feel good about the people and the area that they represent. That's probably the end of the good stuff.

I want to say I like the Valley. I like Kings County very much and if it wasn't for the fact that I have deep roots on a small farm in Hants County, if I was to think of where else I would want to live, the Valley would be one of those places I would think about. I have to say, and I've practically always thought that - I went to Wolfville, I went to Acadia and got to know a little bit about the Valley, but there is a section of Hants East along the Minas Basin on the shore area that is actually very nice as well.

I want to say to the member that certainly things like Gagetown would be - lots of communities, I mean I'm sure Dartmouth would have loved to have seen more federal influence when it comes to Shearwater or any of these places; armed forces bases definitely supply a lot of revenue to communities and help as part of that engine that drives those communities. I want to say that I certainly hope that the provincial government isn't trying to take credit in that regard.

There is something that the government can do - Kings County is one of three areas in this country which has the highest agricultural receipts. I think the Fraser Valley in British Columbia, the Niagara Peninsula and Kings County, Nova Scotia is the third or is one of those three. If all members of this Assembly were to think about what the impact of that means, because here's - my honourable colleague from Cape Breton, and I want him to listen to this as well, because I see Kings County as an excellent example of what can be done in terms of community economic development for this province, with an economy that's not connected per se to Halifax.

Kings County is close enough that there are people who commute. He should really think about what the impact is going to be when they twin that highway and people can get to Halifax quicker, and whether or not it will actually become a much greater bedroom community than it is now and all the issues that we have around land use there with urban versus agricultural conflict is just going to be turned up a notch, I think, after that happens. Because the Valley has a nice climate and so on it would attract people. I think there would be people who would be very pleased to be able to live there, not just retire there.

This economy is, I think, an interesting one in the sense that it is driven by agriculture. I think as much as people - even, I've heard people there say, oh no, we're a very diversified economy, it's not just agricultural, they're right, it's not just agriculture in Kings County. It is a diversified economy, but a lot of the diversification of that economy is based on the fact there is wealth generated in agriculture that is sustainable and renewable, and because you have people generating money then it attracts investment and it attracts people.

[Page 1140]

You can keep your young families there, by keeping young families there, you can keep your schools open, you can attract teachers, those salaries go into your economy, you can attract doctors, for a lot of reasons, but why would a doctor go anywhere if there are not appropriate educational facilities, if they were a young doctor, they wouldn't raise their children in the Valley if there were no schools or poor-quality schools. So all of these things are connected.

Once you have a basis for wealth, then people need services, whether it's insurance or health care or whatever, and whatever facilities you can create in that regard, those salaries go into the economy, people require goods and services. The honourable member for Kings West mentioned right off the top of his head, three businesses in that area: Larsen Packers, OH Armstrong and Avery's Farm. These first three that he mentioned are agricultural related, and they are doing what we all say industry should be doing and that's adding value to the products that are created there or generated there, so that they actually can get more wealth from that or more dollars from those commodities.

Instead of our pork or beef leaving the province, and then us buying it back and having somebody else generate more jobs outside the province, these businesses are trying to do that here. Although I think, in terms of beef production in this province, we import 86 per cent of our beef. We only produce 14 per cent. It's been given a value of about $80 million, and this is an area where actually I feel the government has failed. I think they made an attack on rural Nova Scotia when they destroyed the Production Technology Branch. I think that if that member realizes the value of agriculture in his community, then certainly his government didn't. I think the attack on agriculture could have a lasting effect on Kings County.

Turkey production in this province is supply managed. I would say most of the turkey farms here are in Kings County, certainly in the Valley, and 40 per cent of turkeys consumed in this province come from outside the province. I can't figure that out for a supply managed commodity, because certainly 40 per cent of our milk doesn't come in, 40 per cent of our eggs don't come in, but certainly in terms of turkey it does.

Mr. Speaker, I'm going to refer to Nova Scotia agricultural statistics, and I will have the Page make some copies so I can table them. The number of agricultural holdings in Nova Scotia: in 1981 it was 228, and in 2001 it was 256. So actually a very small increase in the number - actually I'm referring to the size of the farm. The actual holdings went from 5,045 to 3,923 in that time, so the number of holdings has gone down significantly, and the acreage has remained just about the same.

Number of farms by gross receipts: 71 per cent of the farms in this province gross less than $50,000. That tells you that there's a very small percentage that are grossing most of the money, and in thousands of dollars, we do about $400 million here in this province, slightly more than that, and in P.E.I. they do $337 million. P.E.I. will fit twice into my school board area. So it just shows that we have an awful lot of potential for increased revenue and wealth

[Page 1141]

in this province. As my honourable colleague has mentioned, the second-highest horticultural receipts produced in this province come from Cape Breton. People have no idea of the potential for agriculture in Cape Breton.

I want to say that there's a lot this government could do in terms of economic development, and they could do it in agriculture because these people are committed and there's been no commitment from the government toward that sector. With those comments, Mr. Speaker, I will take my seat.

MR. SPEAKER: I would like to thank the honourable members for taking part in this very important debate this evening.

We are adjourned until 9:00 a.m.

[The House rose at 6:25 p.m.]

[Page 1142]

NOTICES OF MOTION UNDER RULE 32(3)

RESOLUTION NO. 673

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Agriculture and Fisheries)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Bob Eisener of Digby is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bob Eisener of Digby for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 674

By: Hon. Gordon Balser (Agriculture and Fisheries)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Jean Durham of Barton is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

[Page 1143]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jean Durham of Barton for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 675

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Murray Hill of Pictou is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Murray Hill of Pictou for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 676

By: Mr. Jon Carey (Kings West)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Bob Best of Berwick is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

[Page 1144]

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Bob Best of Berwick for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 677

By: Mrs. Muriel Baillie (Pictou West)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Corry Lakenman of Pictou is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Corry Lakenman of Pictou for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 678

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 1145]

Whereas nominated by the Town of Trenton, the Earle Family from Trenton are the recipients of the Sobeys Family Volunteer Award for their significant volunteer work and community contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the Earle Family on being named the Sobeys Family Volunteer for 2003, and thank them for all their efforts.

RESOLUTION NO. 679

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Agnes Saunders of Westville is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Agnes Saunders of Westville for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 680

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 1146]

Whereas Sandra MacLennan of Halifax is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Sandra MacLennan of Halifax for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 681

By: Mr. Mark Parent (Kings North)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Chris Maynard of Kentville is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Chris Maynard of Kentville for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 682

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 1147]

Whereas Charles Ashe of Monastery is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Charles Ashe of Monastery for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 683

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Robert MacDonald of Sherbrooke is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Robert MacDonald of Sherbrooke for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 684

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 1148]

Whereas Rita Johnson of Canso is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Rita Johnson of Canso for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 685

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Colleen Greencorn of Mulgrave is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Colleen Greencorn of Mulgrave for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 686

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

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

[Page 1149]

Whereas Dorothy Dingle of Port Hawkesbury is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dorothy Dingle of Port Hawkesbury for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 687

By: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Finance)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas nominated by Drumlin Heights Consolidated School, April Hubbard of the District of Argyle is receiving the Youth Award for her significant volunteer work and community contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate April Hubbard on being named Youth Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 and wish her success in all her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 688

By: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Finance)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1150]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Edward LeBlanc of Ste. Anne du Ruisseau is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Edward LeBlanc of Ste. Anne du Ruisseau for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 689

By: Hon. Neil LeBlanc (Finance)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Camille Maillet of Saulnierville is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Camille Maillet of Saulnierville for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 690

By: Hon. Jane Purves (Health)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1151]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Carol Smillie of Halifax is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Carol Smillie of Halifax for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 691

By: Hon. Jane Purves (Health)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Michael Burke of Halifax is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Michael Burke of Halifax for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 692

By: Hon. Jane Purves (Health)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1152]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Reginald Clarke of Halifax is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Reginald Clarke of Halifax for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 693

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Isobel Crossland of Mahone Bay is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Isobel Crossland of Mahone Bay for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 694

By: Hon. Michael Baker (Transportation and Public Works)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1153]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Patti Robertson of Lunenburg is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Patti Robertson of Lunenburg for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 695

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas John Francis Buster Paris of Windsor is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate John Francis Buster Paris of Windsor for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 696

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1154]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Susan Sypher of Hantsport is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Susan Sypher of Hantsport for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 697

By: Hon. Ronald Russell (Environment and Labour)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas John Ross of Ellershouse is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate John Ross of Ellershouse for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 698

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1155]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Luella Hennigar of Shubenacadie is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Luella Hennigar of Shubenacadie for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 699

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Claire Castle of Middle Musquodoboit is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Claire Castle of Middle Musquodoboit for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 700

By: Mr. Brooke Taylor (Colchester-Musquodoboit Valley)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1156]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Michael Meisner of Upper Stewiacke is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Michael Meisner of Upper Stewiacke for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 701

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Gordon Creelman of Truro is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Gordon Creelman of Truro for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 702

By: Hon. James Muir (Justice)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

[Page 1157]

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Ron Roach of Truro is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ron Roach of Truro for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 703

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas nominated by Trudy Payne of the Chester Municipal Recreation Department, G.N. Plastics Company Ltd. of Chester is receiving the Building Healthier Futures Corporate Award for its significant community contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate the staff of G.N. Plastics Company Ltd. on being named the Building Healthier Futures Corporate Volunteer for 2003, and wish management and staff success in its future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 704

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

[Page 1158]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Phyllis Publicover of RR#1, Hubbards is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Phyllis Publicover of Blandford for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 705

By: Mr. John Chataway (Chester-St. Margaret's)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Doug Stout of St. Margaret's Bay is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Doug Stout of St. Margaret's Bay for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 706

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

[Page 1159]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Tom Gray of Shelburne is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Tom Gray of Shelburne for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 707

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Julie Balish of Lockeport is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Julie Balish of Lockeport for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 708

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

[Page 1160]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Ken Chetwynd of Clark's Harbour is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Ken Chetwynd of Clark's Harbour for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 709

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd, and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Robert Bud Thompson of Jordan Falls is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Robert Bud Thompson of Jordan Falls for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003, in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 710

By: Mr. Cecil O'Donnell (Shelburne)

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

[Page 1161]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Brayton Nickerson of Clark's Harbour is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Brayton Nickerson of Clark's Harbour for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 711

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Jim Greig of Yarmouth is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Jim Greig of Yarmouth for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 712

By: Mr. Richard Hurlburt (Yarmouth)

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

[Page 1162]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Gert Star of Yarmouth is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Gert Star of Yarmouth for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 713

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Joseph Patriquin of Wentworth is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Joseph Patriquin of Wentworth for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 714

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 1163]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Muriel Beatrice Legere of Springhill is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Muriel Beatrice Legere of Springhill for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 715

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Alice Mayne of Oxford is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Alice Mayne of Oxford for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 716

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

[Page 1164]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Elmer Ling of Parrsboro is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Elmer Ling of Parrsboro for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 717

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Judy Bellefontaine of Lawrencetown is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Judy Bellefontaine of Lawrencetown for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 718

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

[Page 1165]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Patricia DeYoung of Eastern Passage is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Patricia DeYoung of Eastern Passage for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 719

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Hugh Laurence of Middleton is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Hugh Laurence of Middleton for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 720

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

[Page 1166]

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Dick Campbell of Bridgetown is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Dick Campbell of Bridgetown for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 721

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Patricia Dill of Annapolis Royal is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Patricia Dill of Annapolis Royal for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 722

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

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Whereas International Volunteer Week runs from April 27th to May 3rd and communities all over Canada are honouring citizens who contribute to the community through active volunteerism; and

Whereas the 2003 Provincial Representative Volunteer Awards recognize the thousands of Nova Scotians whose generosity, determination and compassion help to create a better future for us all; and

Whereas Douglas MacLean of Lawrencetown is one of these exemplary citizens being recognized for their significant community volunteer work and contributions;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Douglas MacLean of Lawrencetown for being named a Provincial Representative Volunteer for 2003 in recognition of tremendous service given selflessly to our community.

RESOLUTION NO. 723

By: Mr. William Dooks (Eastern Shore)

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

Whereas the Porters Lake Community Services Association is an active and outgoing organization always looking at how they can improve the way of life in their community; and

Whereas the Association is open to any ideas that might involve increased activity for children and/or adults in the local area; and

Whereas the Porters Lake Community Services Association has hall space as well as recreational facilities available for use by community residents;

Therefore be it resolved that this House of Assembly applaud the dedicated efforts of the Porters Lake Community Services Association and wish them every success.

RESOLUTION NO.724

By: Mr. James DeWolfe (Pictou East)

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

Whereas the Westville Presidential Hockey League recently held its championship game; and

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Whereas CRFC won the championship title with a 6-3 victory over Doc's Dragons; and

Whereas the CRFC team is Serge Comeau, Jeff DeYoung, Rob Muir, Andy Munro, Darren Gaudet, Ken Goodwin, Shane Chabassol, Billy Kontuk, Jeremy Murray, Sean Fraser, Joe Reim, Darren Cameron, Andrew Harty, Korey Avery, Travis Hayter, Jason Munro, Tony Anderson, Tim Veiling, Joe Chabassol, Brent MacPherson, Clint Snell and coach, Greg Massaro;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate CRFC on being the Westville Presidential Hockey League Champions and wish them success next year.

RESOLUTION NO.725

By: Hon. Cecil Clarke (Economic Development)

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

Whereas the word "Snoezelen" is a contraction of two Dutch words, "snuffelen" meaning to seek out or explore and "doezelen" which means to relax; and

Whereas at Bridgeport Elementary School, with the generous help of the Ronald McDonald Children's Charities of Canada, a Snoezelen room has been built to create a safe and multi-sensory atmosphere for children with special needs; and

Whereas this room for children with special needs has been dedicated to a special friend and neighbour of the elementary school, someone who has supported the students and school in all its fundraising efforts for many, many years;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House join Principal Reg Johnston, the staff and all the students of Bridgeport Elementary School in recognizing Lloyd MacKillop, a true and dedicated friend of Bridgeport Elementary School.

RESOLUTION NO. 726

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas the Valley Area Skating Competition recently took place at the Acadia arena in Wolfville; and

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Whereas Vanessa MacLean of Bridgetown was there participating in the Junior Bronze freestyle event; and

Whereas out of the 14 competitors in this category, Ms. MacLean placed first;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Vanessa MacLean on her first place finish in the Valley Area Skating Competition and wish her luck in her future endeavours.

RESOLUTION NO. 727

By: Mr. Frank Chipman (Annapolis)

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

Whereas Lawrencetown and District Volunteer Fire Department has a new fire chief in the long time deputy chief, Eric Bent; and

Whereas Mr. Bent has taken over from Doug MacLean who has stepped down from the position after serving as chief for eight years; and

Whereas the Lawrencetown and District Volunteer Fire Department has been serving its community since 1898 and currently has 40 firefighters trained to be the medical first response, serving from Messenger Road to Mount Hanley Road;

Therefore be it resolved that all members of this House congratulate Eric Bent on his new post as fire chief and thank all the volunteers of the Lawrencetown and District Volunteer Fire team for all the hard work and dedication they put into the department saving homes and lives everyday.

RESOLUTION NO. 728

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Sarah Reid of Advocate, Nova Scotia, is one of 14 Cumberland County students who have been named to the University of New Brunswick Dean's List; and

Whereas Sarah Reid was the lone recipient in the faculty's Bachelor of Business Administration program; and

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Whereas Sarah Reid earned the distinction by maintaining a grade point average of 3.7 or above which equates to an A;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Sarah on being named to the University of New Brunswick Dean's List and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 729

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ryan Reynolds of Springhill, Nova Scotia was chosen to represent his class in the Winter Carnival festivities in Springhill in March 2003; and

Whereas Ryan was chosen as First Prince in the Springhill High School Winter Carnival Royal Court; and

Whereas Ryan's friends and family congratulate him on this honour of being crowned First Prince of the Winter Carnival;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ryan Reynolds on being crowned First Prince of the Springhill High School Winter Carnival and wish him the best of luck in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 730

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas on December 5, 2002, the Town of Oxford held a banquet where it honoured some of its citizens; and

Whereas each honoured citizen was presented with a plaque for the service that they had given to the Town of Oxford; and

Whereas Donna Roberts was presented with a plaque thanking her for her 21 years of service to the Town of Oxford;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Donna Roberts on receiving this honour and wish her the best of luck in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 731

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Arthur Saffron of Springhill has been awarded the Commemorative Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - part of the Canadian Honours System established in 1967 - and was awarded this medal in Truro, Nova Scotia; and

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

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

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

RESOLUTION NO. 732

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Daniel Spence, a Grade 12 student of Springhill Regional High School, was chosen as one of 36 semi-finalists in the Maritimes for its Classic Achiever Scholarship Program; and

Whereas Daniel Spence, the student council president, said he was amazed to be selected as one of the 36 semi-finalists from 280 students from the Maritimes and Ontario; and

Whereas the program recognizes academic excellence, extracurricular activities and community involvement;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Daniel Spence on being chosen as one of the 36 semi-finalists, and wish him continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 733

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ruth Smith of Valley Road, Springhill, Nova Scotia, has been published in a coffee table book that is being distributed across North America; and

Whereas her hooked rug title, Three Sisters and an Angel, is featured in the book, A Passion for Creative Life: Textiles to Lift the Spirit, written by internationally-acclaimed rug hooker and teacher, Mary Sheppard Burton; and

Whereas Ruth Smith's rug depicts her and her sisters, Mary Lou and Pat, sitting on a fence and overlooking the bustling activity at the home. Keeping an eye on all the activity from above is an angel;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ruth Smith on having her rug featured in this book, and wish her continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 734

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Erva Smith of Springhill, Nova Scotia, has been awarded the Commemorative Golden Jubilee Medal of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II - part of the Canadian Honours System established in 1967; and

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

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

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

RESOLUTION NO. 735

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas Ski Wentworth, Wentworth, Nova Scotia, has been said to be the "best major winter attraction a community could have." Participation in and actively supporting a variety of community events has earned it an enviable reputation; and

Whereas investment in this innovative and constantly evolving attraction over the years has seen the season extended, and now results in over 70,000 visitors per year and offers employment to over 100 people; and

Whereas the Central Nova Tourist Association is pleased to have bestowed the CNTA Attraction of the Year Award to Ski Wentworth;

Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate Ski Wentworth on receiving this prestigious award, and wish them continued success in the future.

RESOLUTION NO. 736

By: Hon. Murray Scott (Speaker)

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

Whereas the Springhill High School's Golden Eagles girls basketball team claimed the NSSAF Division III Northumberland Regional Girls Basketball Championship in Springhill in February 2003; and

Whereas the Golden Eagles, as a result of winning its fourth regional crown in five years, are playing host to the provincials February 27 to March 1, 2003; and

Whereas Coach Charlie Chambers praised the team saying, "All our players contributed to the victory." The team also thanked the parents and volunteers who helped run the tournament;

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Therefore be it resolved that the members of this House congratulate the Springhill High School Golden Eagles on winning the NSSAF Division III Northumberland Regional Girls Basketball Championship, and wish them continued success in the future.